Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Favorites!

Friday's are my favorite day of the week because it marks the beginning of my weekend - and boy, do I love weekends!  Today is all about my Friday Favorites - and I am hoping this is something I can keep up for all of the Fridays to come, but we shall see :) is my list of my Friday Favorites:

Favorite View:  Beautiful rainbow in a stormy sky. I was driving home and it started pouring, then I looked ahead and saw this rainbow - definitely made my day brighter!

Favorite Snack:  Fresh fruit!  I am really into pineapples and berries (pictured below), and grapes and citrus.  I used to eat apples all the time until I learned that they, along with pears and melons, contribute to a bloated look - not exactly what I need to achieve the bikini body!

Favorite Words To Live By: I love to travel and it is one of the main things I want to do with my life - I am hoping I can make this statement true :)  I wish I could be paid to travel, eat, and workout....

Favorite Memory: With the Penguins playing the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Finals beginning tomorrow, it brought back memories of the games and the draft I attended last year with my dad.  The draft might have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience and is something is a memory I will always cherish.  I wonder if this is why penguins are my favorite animal...? Anyway, I would love to make a playoff game!  

Favorite Cute Animal: It would have to be my very own cat this week :) he is just too much sometimes!  A big ball of fluff that just melts my heart.

Favorite Workout:  My favorite workout has to be Barre!  Ever since that crazy, hard Pure Barre class in Tampa, I am hooked!  I took Booty Barre this past Monday with Ash and am now attending Booty Barre tomorrow morning with Shan!  I love it and if you haven't tried it yet you need to - I really see results from it already :) get there!!  Total body toning using a ballet barre - a lot of isolations to target every area.

Favorite Drink: Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Coconut.  This stuff is amazing - not too sweet and with just a hint of coconut.  I am just obsessed with coconut right now!!  I put this in my oatmeal and drink it with my homemade pumpkin protein bars.

Favorite Protein Bar: Quest Bars, specifically the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough bar.  It tastes like and feels like you are eating cookie dough.  So awesome!  I am really loving all the Quest Bars I've tried - so many amazing flavors and I cannot wait to try them all!  If you like protein bars you will love these and if you are not a protein bar person, but would like to be, I would highly recommend giving these a try!

And there you have it - my first Friday Favorites :)  I hope you enjoyed and will possibly try some of my favorites!  I really recommend the Favorite Drink, Protein Bar, and Workout - I just can't get enough!  I hope everyone has a great weekend - tomorrow is my dad's birthday, but I am hoping to put up a quick post about the birthday boy and what we are eating for his birthday dinner :) and I will also post about my Booty Barre class!

Have a great night!!

What are some of your favorite things?

Is there anything I should try that may become one of my Friday Favorites?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cheap Happy Hour Eats!

If there's one thing I really like, it's a good deal.  Happy hours are one of my favorite deals - it usually means that I can go to an amazing restaurant and enjoy their delicious food without having to sell an arm AND a leg in the process ;)  I treated my mom and sister, Teasy, to a happy hour on Tuesday - Tuesday was an extension to my already five-day weekend :)  We headed the Eastside to stop at Nordstrom Rack for some shoe deals - I got a $15 yoga mat!  On our way home we stopped at Paladar for a bite to eat.

Now, I hope that everyone reading has been to Paladar -and if you have never been there before, like my mom and sister, then let me just tell you about what you're missing...  Paladar is a Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar.  The food is inspired by Central and South America, Cuba, and the Latin Caribbean.  Paladar uses bold flavors - some spice, but not too spicy ;) unless you like it that way!  The atmosphere is relaxed, yet lively...strange combination - but I love it!

Anyway, when we pulled up I saw the Happy Hour sign!! How could I have forgotten that their happy hour is from 4-7PM?!  Perfect timing, because I believe we got there a little after 4:00PM and we were famished.  The Happy Hour at Paladar is from 4-7PM daily, with $5 Latin Street Food and $5 Drinks: mojitos, margaritas, sangria, select wine by the glass, and select Latin beer is $3.  Paladar also has a happy hour from 9-11PM, Sun-Thurs - the Cleveland location only has $5 Latin Street Food for the late night happy hour, no drink specials - Annapolis, MD. and Hallandale Beach, FL. do not specify what is served at which, so my guess would be both food and drink deals are available during early and late night happy hour - lucky!

So, we have $5 Latin Street Food - which just so happens to be one of my favorite types of food :) yay!  We started with an order of the guac - chef's special with roasted corn and red peppers - and housemade chips - baked plantains and tortilla chips.  We also ordered the black bean hummus plate - I just love hummus, the portobello and queso blanco empanadas, and the chorizo and cheese pupusa.  And how much was everything?  I am so glad you asked...$20 - for everything!  Best day of my life ;)  Please keep in mind that even though this sounds like a ton of food - and it is, for one person! - I did share everything with my mom and sister - so there is great portion control and self control ;)  And we ALL ate for $20!!

The guacamole is so fresh and the addition of the roasted corn and red peppers was a perfect touch. 

 The black bean hummus plate was served with fresh carrots, celery, cucumber, tortillas, and jicama.  The hummus had a nice flavor and was topped with fresh tomatoes.  

The empanadas were stuffed with portobellos and had just a touch of queso blanco - which is a nice change from restaurants usually covering the whole flavor with too much cheese!  The empanadas were topped with pico de gallo and drizzled with pasilla pepper aioli - mmmm!  

The pupusa had a griddled corn cake stuffed with chorizo and cheese with a spicy tomato sauce and fresh herbs - a perfect combination.  

I loved everything we ordered and cannot wait to try the seven other happy hour apps ;)  I would highly recommend getting to your nearest Paladar for happy hour - or really any hour - just go!  The lunch and dinner menu is just as fantastic and I can't wait to try their brunch menu, as well.  And if there is not a Paladar near you - seeing as there are only six locations: Cleveland, Annapolis, MD., Rockville, MD., Hallandale Beach, FL., Gaithersburg, MD., and Tysons Corner, VA. - maybe plan a trip around visiting one of the Paladar locations ;)  Eating amazing food is a big part of my vacation planning...I am always reading reviews of restaurants wherever I am going ;)

Hope you get to a Paladar soon :)

Have a wonderful night - I am going to get my Zumba on!

What is your favorite happy hour?

Have you ever been to Paladar?

What is your favorite type of food?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Happy WIMBW!  Today's "What's In My Bowl Wednesday" is was so delicious!!  I ate (almost) the entire bowl :)  I had Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal from Jenny Grothe's 75 Ways To Love Your Oatmeal.  Now, obviously I made my own modifications.  I rarely ever agree with every ingredient in recipes - and that's okay.  I know what I like and what I don't like, and I don't eat what I don't like.  So, here is my recipe for Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal - if you would like to check out Jenny Grothe's recipe, you will have to check her book ;)

Jessica's Healthy Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal

Preheat oven to 350


1/2 banana
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup water or milk - I like any flavor of Unsweetened Almond Breeze
1 egg white
1 tbsp protein powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 dashes of cinnamon
drizzle of honey
6 walnut halves
1/2 tbsp my Vitamix all-natural peanut butter
oven-safe bowl

Step 1: Mash the banana in an oven-safe bowl

Step 2: Add the oats

Step 3: Add the water - I ran out of my Unsweetened Almond Breeze :(

Step 4: Add the egg white, protein powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and honey

Step 5: Add the walnut halves and mix!

Step 6: Put in oven for 30 minutes (and do something productive - I showered for work)
The picture-perfect Healthy Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal

I loved this oatmeal bake so much!!  I will definitely make this again.  It will be perfect for family weekends, sleepovers, brunches, or any kind of shower.  This oatmeal smelled like I have been baking banana bread all day.  I loved the taste and texture.  The cinnamon and honey really adds to the flavor.  This oatmeal was very filling and I couldn't bring myself to finish the last 3 bites.  I definitely recommend trying this oatmeal bake - either mine or the Jenny Grothe version.  If you like banana bread, I think you will be completely satisfied.

And for WIAW, I had a grilled romaine and artichoke heart salad with grilled shrimp from Ken Stewart's Lodge.  I just love that salad - next time I am going to try it with grilled salmon!  For my afternoon snack I had Whole Foods 365 Greek Yogurt with cinnamon and chia seeds mixed in and topped with Jessica's Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Granola.  I was on the run non-stop after work, so for dinner I had another Quest Bar - the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough - my new favorite Quest Bar!  I then ate one of my homemade protein bars after I came home from an hour and a half meeting.  I think for my What I Ate Wednesday, I did a pretty good job of being healthy.

Now I need to workout and get to bed.  Goodnight!!

What did you eat on WIAW?

Have your tried an oatmeal bake year?

What do you have for snacks at work?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Memorial Monday

Hi all!  Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day - I know I sure did!  I started the day off with an amazing Booty Barre trial class at The Movement Factory with Ash.  The class was fantastic!  I definitely like Booty Barre better than the Pure Barre I took in Tampa.  Booty Barre started with everyone spread out away from the barre for stretching, warm-ups, and arms.  On the barre we did lunges, curtsy squats, and abs.  I enjoyed the pace of the class and the visual instructions.  I highly recommend trying Booty Barre or any Barre class near you. I will hopefully be signing up for a package that includes this class sometime soon!

After Booty Barre, I came home to a giant picnic feast!  My mom went all-out without having to go shopping!  We had 100% lean burgers from the meat department - burgers stuffed with bleu cheese, jalapeƱos, and regular burgers, hot dogs, baked beans, grilled cherry tomatoes - drizzled with olive oil, stuffed with fresh garlic, and topped with fresh basil, guacamole, salsa, all-natural baked tortilla chips, grilled corn on the cob, and whole-wheat Mediterranean pasta salad.
MMM! Thanks Mama Peasy!!!

 My plate - small portions of Mediterranean pasta salad, bleu cheese burger topped with guac (of course) and hot salsa, baked beans, and my sister's grilled tomatoes.
The inside of my bleu cheese burger - I am glad they go very light with the bleu cheese :) just needed a small taste!

And this is the feature of this post today :) My mom was super excited about her Mediterranean pasta salad - she actually made this up with ingredients we already had.  We always have a lot of fresh veggies available and there is always some sort of whole-wheat pasta downstairs.  Anyway, my mom cooked some whole-wheat pasta and added: olive oil, a tiny can of sliced olives, reduced-fat feta cheese, red peppers, squash, cucumber, and green onions.  It was so delicious and she made such a big batch that she kept making sure we knew it was there - she didn't think anyone had tried it - we were able to convince her that we did and it was very scrumptious :) Thanks, Mom!

And the best way to keep my Memorial Day healthy was making a batch of my all-natural peanut butter.  I cracked open the peanut shells Sunday night while watching some hockey - 3 cups worth of peanuts - yikes!  It took me about an hour to an hour and a half to get that many peanuts!  I put the peanuts in the amazing Vitamix and in about less than a minute I had smooth and creamy peanut butter!!  I love the Vitamix - best purchase ever!  I now have a huge glass bowl full of my favorite peanut butter :) my oatmeal is very happy now!
Best peanut butter ever!!

I hope everyone else had a fantastic Memorial Day - I am excited for many more cookouts to come and hopefully some will be spent with a bigger crowd :) and in better weather - thanks Cleveland.. haha

Have a good night!!

What did you have at your Memorial Day cookout?

How do you try to eat healthy at cookouts or on special occasions?

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Vacations Have To End Sometime..

Hi everyone!  Missed me and my updates?  Haha I hope so :)  I just need to say that it is not good to be back...because of the Cleveland weather, of course!!  We got off the plane and right away we were hit with a blast of cold air - good-bye 90 and sunny, hello freezing and rainy :(  Personally, I think this trip ended a little too soon and I am sure Shan and Sammi agree!

I was so excited when we landed because we went straight for some Mexican food - and obviously ordered guacamole!  Then, we went to Sammi's to meet our roommates and get ready for the beach.

Couldn't refrain from digging in - even during pictures :)

Meet Maddie and Clank - super cute!

Our first day on the beach - I didn't get a base tan before I left (because it's CLE) but I did bring a pretty good one home as a souvenir ;)

After the beach, we had to go home to take showers - I definitely forgot how sandy the beach can be!  Shan had booked us a sushi making class through Groupon!  So awesome!! We were there from 6:30-9:30.  The class began with soup and salad, and then the sushi making began!  It was a long class, but we learned a lot, made some fantastic sushi, and had tons of fun!

 Salad with my favorite citrus-ginger dressing!

 Sammi volunteering to demonstrate how to proper cut a shrimp for a sushi roll - had a few bumps ;)

 Being corrected by our chef - haha

 Shan's Caterpillar, Sammi's Mexican roll (bottom), and my Mexican roll (top) - I would say we are sushi pros :)
 Enjoying our wonderful sushi 

I would definitely recommend this class if you love sushi and/or really want to know how to make it at home!  It was not as hard as I thought, but can be time consuming if making your own sticky rice - luckily it was provided for us :)

On Friday, we took a barre class at Pure Barre - yes, we went on vacation and lined up some workouts!  The class was definitely challenging - like I expected - but I did not expect my shoulders to burn and my legs to be shaky...we think it (and hope) it was due to the fact that we had about eight hours of sleep in the two days leading up to the class!  

After class we grabbed some brunch at Daily Eats and it was definitely tasty and healthy!  I also had the best smoothie - from a smoothie stand - in my life!  The Fitness Bar in Fit2Run - an awesome running/workout gear store - only uses fresh fruits, vegetables, and nutropeps.  The Fitness Bar also sells sandwiches, wraps, quesadillas, and bowls.

Oatmeal with bananas, honey, walnuts, and a little bit of low-fat yogurt.  Delicious :)

 Berry Delight: blueberries, strawberries, boysenberries, raspberries, blackberries + shaved coconut - awesome combination!

We spent the rest of the day at the pool until it was time for Sammi's gig at The Blowfish Bar and Grill - Sammi is in a band called Phase 5 and I definitely recommend checking them out - not because she is my friend, but because she is an amazing singer and Phase 5 is an amazing band and you should decide for yourself!!  And definitely check out Sammi's page!

Saturday, we were up early for Shan and Sammi's 5k - I don't run and even though it was for a good cause - my first 5k will never be in humid, 90 degree weather - I am not even used to living in that kind of weather!  They ran in the Color Me Rad 5k with part of the proceeds going to the Special Olympics.  I hope to run my first 5k this fall - when it is a little cooler :)  I will keep you posted!

 Starting line
Finish line - what a difference! Haha I love color :)

After Shan and Sammi cleaned up a bit, we spent the evening in St. Pete's while Sammi and the rest of Phase 5 sang at a wedding.  We stopped in a few boutiques and some different eateries.  We had sushi at The Kitchen.  This sushi was delicious, but nothing will ever compare to the sushi we made ;) 

 Pacifico Roll - spicy tuna, krab, cucumber, gobo, salmon, yellowtail, avocado, scallions, tobiko, ponzu
Black Widow - soft shell crab, cucumber, avocado, spicy mayo, sriracha, scallions, black tobiko

Sunday was a sad, sad day.  We did make the most of it, though.  We stopped at Te Bella for tea and lattes.  I order the Unsweetened Kiwi Coconut Cherry iced tea.  I am glad I stick with unsweetened, because this tea definitely had a lot of flavor.

 Humungous canisters of fresh tea!  I want this in my kitchen!!

 After the tea is brewed it sits - I don't know tea terms - then is poured in a metal container filled with ice and is then set upon a plastic cup full of ice so the tea leaves are trapped by a strainer and just the tea comes out of the bottom directly into your cup!  So cool!

 Shan's latte - main reason we came was to see the late artwork :)

Matcha Lemonade - supposed to give a big burst of natural energy - the taste was different, but wonderful - I will be doing my own research on this and will hopefully have some awesome recipes!

We signed up for a Stand Up Paddleboard class with Urban Kai.  I have always wanted to try SUP, but I am scared of sharks!  We took the class on Davis Island in the bay.  Boats everywhere - but they were luckily parked :)  I also managed to stay out of the water!  We learned how to paddle on our knees, then how to stand up and paddle while standing.  After the basics, we did abs, planks to push-ups, squats, shoulders - by kneeling down and paddling with our arms instead of the paddle, and obliques by moving the paddle forward and backward without taking the paddle out of the water.  I highly recommend this class and if you're down in Tampa check this company out!  The instructor was very motivational and gave great visual instructions.
 Me, Shan, and Sammi ready for SUP!
I cannot believe I was working out on a paddleboard in the bay!

The trip was fantastic and I still cannot believe it is over!  I already cannot wait to go back - hopefully another girls trip soon :)  I hope everyone else had an amazing weekend and I am excited to share my cookout meal for Memorial Day!

What challenging and new workouts have you recently tried?

What do you eat on vacation?

Would you workout over vacation?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


So it is WIMBW and WIAW :)   And the first -real- day of my 75 Wednesdays of Oatmeal!  How exciting!  I usually forget to prepare myself for what's to come, so I chose a recipe this morning.  My first oatmeal recipe from 75 Ways to Love Your Oatmeal by Jenny Grothe is The 1st Baked Blueberry Oatmeal (The Original) - This was her first baked oatmeal and is now my first baked oatmeal.  I was actually kind of skeptical because it called the use of egg whites and when I think of egg whites and oatmeal, I think RAW eggs - not even thinking about the fact that I am baking the oatmeal!  The two main reasons for choosing this recipe: 1. I had all the ingredients already, and 2. It was one of the lowest calorie choices.

So...I am super excited to share my WIMBW and how I actually modified The 1st Baked Blueberry Oatmeal (The Original) into Jessica's 1st Baked Blueberry Oatmeal (My Original).  I do not want to post a picture of her recipe because this one is not offered for free on Jen-Fit's Playground, so I will post my pictures and steps and explain what I did instead.

Jessica's 1st Baked Blueberry Oatmeal (My Original)

1/2 cup oatmeal
1 cup water
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp baking powder
sprinkle of cinnamon
drizzle of organic local honey
10-12 frozen blueberries
Oven-safe bowl

Step 1: preheat oven to 350

Step 2: Combine 1/2 cup oatmeal and 1 cup water in oven-safe bowl

Step 3: Add 2 egg whites.

Step 4: Add 1/2 tsp baking powder.

Step 5: Sprinkle some cinnamon.

Step 6: Drizzle some honey.

Step 7: Add blueberries 

Step 8: Mix and put in oven for 30 minutes.

While I waited I thought that this oatmeal would not be filling enough since I didn't put my protein powder or peanut butter in it - so I decided to have my Greek yogurt - all 18g of protein - with some of MY granola haha I mean I was starving and had to wait 30 minutes!!
Obviously very filling and delicious!! 

So after my Greek yogurt and catching up with some GMA, my oatmeal was finally finished!!  It had a little more liquid than I would prefer so I put it in the microwave for 1 minute.  This was the final product:
Jessica's 1st Baked Blueberry Oatmeal (My Original) with some unsweetened chocolate Almond Breeze, of course! It was very delicious and I would definitely make in a bigger batch - like 5x the original serving size - to either share or freeze.  I would definitely recommend checking this book out :)

Here are more pictures for WIAW:

Grilled chicken and wedding soup for lunch and

For dinner My pumpkin protein bar with unsweetened chocolate Almond Breeze.

I obviously had snacks throughout the day :)

Now, I am currently at the airport with Shan for our Tampa trip, so no new posts until Monday :( I know it will be tough, but definitely worth the wait.  It will  be all about the crazy and new workouts we are trying and the awesome food we will be eating! 

Stay posted and have a great Memorial Day weekend!!

What should I try for my next oatmeal bake?

What are you doing to celebrate Memorial Day weekend?