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Happiest hour without gluten

Somebody pour me a drankkkk.  Woohoo! It’s Friday and we all know that the only thing getting us through the day is the image of a cold beer or cocktail in our hands.  Being that many of my posts are about healthy eating and active living, I thought it was important to share that this is an aspect I and I’m sure many others are not willing to cut out of their life.


Forget the cosmos and martinis, I have always been more of a beer girl but I noticed post-college after changing my lifestyle to more gluten free that I felt significantly worse after a night of drinking beer with friends (could’ve been those shots too).  I still have yet to go completely gluten free when it comes to my beverages but places are making it more easier by having certain ciders on tap and gluten free beers available.  Pictured above are two of my 2 favorite gluten free beers, yes, beer that is made without wheat.  The brand on the left is called “ngb” and my brother just found it in Trader Joe’s.  It has a citrusy taste so I decided to add an orange to it to simulate a Blue Moon.  “O mission” on the right is my favorite gluten free beer because it actually tastes like beer!  This company has found a way to make the beer and then extract the wheat, while other companies just make the beer with a wheat substitute like rice or potato.  Since I know I like to enjoy myself on the weekends I tend to rarely drink during the week – the temptation is significantly less living at home and not having happy hours in the city every other night.  If I do drink during the week I tend to gravitate towards wine.


You can never go wrong with wine – besides its an excellent way to obtain antioxidants and dose of resveratrol (if red).  On vacation my family and I went to a local winery to do a tasting which is a fun activity instead of heading to the bars.


I know I said I was not a ‘fruity drink’ kind of girl BUT If you’re craving something a bit stronger try making your own margarita.  My brother made the one pictured left with 1 oz tequila : 1/2 oz triple sec  and added muddled strawberries for some sweet flavor.  Pictured on the right is a margarita I made while on vacation that I decided to blend the entire liquor mixture, fresh strawberries, lemon &  lime juice, and ice together.  It tasted much better than any drink made with those sugary, preservative- & chemical-filled mixers.  I recommend you trying the same especially if you don’t want to give up drinking but could cut back some calories or are just trying to use pure ingredients.  By the end of my vacation I could barely taste the tequila in my drinks because of the fruit! Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing 😉

Enjoy Labor Day Weekend, responsibly of course. Cheers!

You will want seconds


So it was Thursday night and I still had not used the bunch of kale that was purchased at the Farmer’s Market on Sunday.  Immediately, I went to my new cooking book (aka Pinterest) and searched for a kale and lentil soup I recently came across.  After looking through a couple, this one >> << caught my eye and stomach.  I figured I would change it up and make a soup and sandwich for dinner instead of lunch.  I had most of the ingredients besides the onion (which I made my boyfriend pick up) and substituted vegetable stock for chicken stock.  My boyfriend and I are always going out to eat and this is an inexpensive meal that fills you up and provides you with leftovers which we will both eat today.

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Saute diced onions & minced garlic in coconut oil – 5-6 minutes.  Add in your choice of vegetables – I added carrots and portobellos (also leftover from Sunday’s trip to the market) with the celery to make it more filling.  Toss in half of the total variety of spices (ground cumin, chili powder, smoked sweet paprika, cayenne, bay leaf, since I didn’t coriander I added cardamom) You will add half of spices later or will determine if you want to add more.  Stir for another minute or so – you can really smell all the flavors at this point!

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Toss in can of diced tomatoes & the juice, rinsed and drained lentils of your choice (I used Trader Joe’s red lentils), and 5 cups of chicken or vegetable stock.  Bring this mixture to a boil, then let simmer for 20-25 minutes.  Here, I added the rest of my spices. My boyfriend was getting antsy at this point so it was probably closer to 15 min.

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 Stir your desired amount of kale (pictured) or spinach – I wish I used more but the recipe only called for 2 handfuls.  Let sit for another 2 or so minutes till kale is soft.  Serve and enjoy all of the flavors!  We kept the stove on until we had seconds so that the soup could simmer for a bit longer.

This recipe filled a total of 6 bowls (2 each last night, and one bowl each for lunch today).

I have to say, I am not a big soup person but I will be making this often once the weather cools down; I never realized how  easy it is to make soup. My boyfriend really enjoyed it as well!  He added cooked pasta to make it a little more filling and somewhat like pasta fagioli.  If you are having the soup just by itself then I would suggest adding some gluten free pasta but we paired it with a tuna sandwich on toasted Calandra’s bread.

Such a simple way to use leftover produce and what you forgot you had in your pantry!

Buy a Body Ball


Thanks to my dad’s bargain shopping sprees in Marshall’s and TjMaxx he has found me 2 body balls for a total of $13.00.  You don’t need any specific brand because they all work the same, so search around for items in clearance.  The one pictured was $3.00 and I keep it at my boyfriend’s place for when we can’t go to the gym or want to get an extra work out while watching some TV.  It took me less than 5 min to pump up and if you are traveling it can easily be deflated, packed, and taken with you which makes for an even greater investment.  Even use it as a spare chair for all the fantasy football draft parties happening now if you live in a tiny apartment.

The following are a few of my top exercises I do with the ball – besides the usual core exercises


Hamstring & core – keep hips up and remain stable through the floor – great exercise Princeton athlete’s use


Quadriceps, hamstrings, & glutes – great exercise Princeton athlete’s use


Love this one – activates various muscle areas and builds upper arm strength – I usually complete 15-20 reps


Standard push-up with feet on ball – I will do reps of 20 – 25 – great to do between sets of abs



Workout Wednesday

We did another training circuit at basketball on Wednesday night that incorporated a lot of leg and upper body work.

imagesCone jumps: Evenly space 5-6 short cones behind 5-6 tall cones so that there is room for two feet to land. Step over each cone laterally, going quickly, so that it is more of a run/jump. Step ahead and move on to the row of taller cones performing the same action.  After 30 seconds switch to two foot lateral jumps.

Bungee chord defense slides: If you don’t have bungee chords to hook up to a wall, use resistance bands around the feet or have another person hold a resistance band as your partner slides.  Set up cones, 1 as a starting point the 2nd as the most resistance point for the bands.  Slide one direction for 30 sec – 1 min, change directions for another 30 sec – 1 min.

hurdles_small_180Hurdle hops: Set up tiny hurdles perpendicular to one another (about 6). Grab a medicine ball to hold over head as you two foot jump over forward and backward, and side to side.

bosu_push-up-300x274-1Bosu ball: Start with bosu ball upright and grab a basketball or medicine ball to hold over head as you jump as high as possible and try to land and stay on the ball.  After 30 seconds flip the bosu ball over and perform pushups holding the sides – if that is too easy, lift the bosu ball up as you perform pushups for another 30 seconds.

Wall ball handling: Start with heavy basketball in one hand with other on wall.  As you cross over switch hand that is on the wall as you slide.  Try to perform as quickly as possible.  If that is too easy, try the same idea but with behind the back or between the leg dribbles.  Go for 30 seconds and then the next 30 change the type of dribble.

Sprint Shooting: One partner is the shooter who starts at a point on the wall, the other partner will pass to shooter (where ever you decide) and rebound.  The shooter leaves the wall, looking for the ball and steps into the shot, then sprints back to wall and back to take shot.  Go for 30 seconds and switch partners

Toning Tuesday: Plyometrics


Split-jumps/lunges. You will feel the burn with these!

Last night I was put through the work out posted below by a basketball trainer at a local gym I attend when I want to shoot some hoops and work up a good sweat.  He has a health and exercise science degree, was a former DIII basketball player, and the work out was great so I thought I’d share and give him some credit – I felt it walking up stairs to work this morning!

Plyometric Circuit

Set 1:  50 toe jumps – stand on tips of your toes and bend knees slightly and jump as high as you can
Paired w/ 10-15 push ups
Sprint (I did sideline to sideline on a basketball court)
Set 2:  15 squat jumps – get low in a squat position, make sure your back is straight, arms back, power up and go as high as you can, land softly, jump right back up into it
Paired w/ 20 opposite arm and leg raises from a plank position – assume plank position and raise your right arm and left leg, then alternate till you complete reps. Great for core too!
Sprint (same as 1st round)
Set 3:  15 high knee jumps – resume in squat position, back straight, jump up as you did for squats but this time lift your knees up towards your chest, land softly
Paired w/ 10-15 plyometric pushups – get in push up position, lower yourself normally and then push off your hands so that they leave the ground and return to normal position
Sprint (same as 1st round)
Set 4:  20 split-squats (10 each leg) – get in lunge position, using arms and legs push yourself up and switch legs in the air and land in opposite lunge softly.  These are difficult! Take your time, get down low on each lunge to do it properly.
Paired w/ isometric pushups – assume position, lower body on a count of 11 and return back up from count 11 to 22 – or however long you wish you perform
Set 5:  Choose your own (skater lunge?) or omit for the last set
20 up and down planks – plank position, get on one fore arm, then the other, and push up on the first fore arm and then the other, repeat
Paired w/ rolling pushups – spread arms a bit wider and legs wide, similar to a downward dog and cobra position, roll your body forward and backward using your arms and core.  It should simulate like you are crawling under a fence.

How to hydrate

It is so important to stay hydrated throughout the day but who would’ve thought it could be so difficult. I noticed once I started working that I was not drinking enough H2O so I made a point to drink a cup of water before getting out of bed in the AM, then another one with my breakfast, and either bring a tea or coffee to work. At work I go through 1 water bottle, 2 on a good day. Yes, this means I run to the bathroom frequently but it helps me get up from my desk every so often.Once I get home I try to drink another cup and if I am working out I will usually sip on water and then have another glass afterwards or tea before going to bed.


With some of the ingredients that were purchased from the trip to the farmer’s market yesterday I decided to make a detox water consisting of the following: 1/2 large cucumber sliced, 1 lemon sliced,
handful of fresh mint (I have also added ginger in the past) It is a good idea to try after a long vacation, weekend out, or just as a refreshing drink in the summer.


Kombucha is a drink I came across while in Fairway Supermarket (located in Bergen Co. NJ and NY). It was on sale (usually a bit pricey but will last you two days) so I figured I’d try it out since it contains antioxidants, amino acids, and probiotics. They have so many different flavors and some with chia – the most recent ones I tried were Lavender and Raspberry, both tasted like juice! If you’re used to eating yogurt it may benefit you to skip the diary once in a while and either try something new like these products or possibly take a probiotic supplement. Staying hydrated and eliminating dairy can dramatically improve one’s skin.


My favorite tea’s that I would not mind spending a few extra $$ for: Starbucks Tazo Mint Tea: great on a rainy day or iced, many places claim they do not make it iced probably because you need 2 bags. My brother who worked at a Starbucks says that they have to make it if you request it but I just make it at home when I can. Harney & Sons: So far I have tried 3 different flavors (the one pictured, hot cinnamon green tea, and chocolate mint). I first tried the hot cinnamon green tea while babysitting and had 2-3 cups and immediately went online and purchased a bag of the satchets and always give some to friends and co-workers to try. I browsed for another flavor and went with the chocolate mint tea (which was not my favorite but great for any chocolate lovers trying to curb those cravings). They are also located in SoHo, NYC if you live in the city check it out!

Try making your own tea with different spices or buy loose leaf tea and brew different mixtures!


1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tspn cinnamon, 1/2 tspn ginger powder
Fill cup with hot water and stir. The ingredients tend to settle so you need to stir before you sip.

Finding fitness solutions

As many athletes will say, there are “no days off”. The same goes for you. We only get one body and one day at a time so why not make it look and feel great #yolo20130826-014604.jpg
Last week when I was on vacation I actually ran more than I normally do back at home. I love exploring places and what better way to do it than running in the morning before the crazies come out. I use the mapmyrun app with which I have become slightly obsessed. Morning workouts make the rest of the day seem so easy and guilt free. It allows me to worry less and relieve anxiety as thousands of research studies have proven.


Top – tricep dips
Middle – Inverted pushups
Bottom – Less intense version of the inverted pushups

   It also helps if you and a partner are committed to the early workouts. I had my brother to motivate me and we both went for long runs, completed short ab and arm circuits (pictured above) at a park as well as in the condo, and even came across a free yoga session on the beach.
If you’re thinking, “well I can’t run where I live,” or “I don’t belong to a gym,” try to stop and figure out a solution. As my counseling theory implies, create ways to overcome the problem and think about what has or has not worked in the past for you. For myself, I live in a very hilly neighborhood and off of a busy and windy road that makes it difficult for me to run outdoors which I enjoy. Instead I either run on my treadmill and lift in my basement, save my run outdoors for when I visit my boyfriend in the city, consider going to the local track, or attend a basketball practice for some cardio.

What ever you decide, use what you have, not excuses.20130826-020912.jpg

Produce Pet Peeve’s (PPP)

If I were to think about a produce pet-peeve (PPP) it would definitely be how little berries stay fresh.  What’s your PPP?
So today my dad bought 3 cartons of raspberries for under $3 which is another great deal, but they go bad so quickly.  I thought I would try soaking the berries and carton of strawberries we purchased in a distilled white vinegar and water mixture which I read helps prolong the shelf life.  I filled up a large bowl with water and poured ~1/4 C of the vinegar.  After 20 minutes I drained the fruit and thought the raspberries were mushier than before so I researched some recipes on Pinterest and began unloading the cabinets with my mom’s handy dandy appliances.
   Jam: 1 C fresh raspberries, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1-2 tspn honey  –
blend together in food processor

   Muffins: Set oven for 350 degrees, 4 eggs, 1/3 coconut oil**, 1 banana, 1/4 cup honey, 1 tbsp vanilla extract – mix together then add dry ingredients 1/2 C coconut flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tspn sea salt then fold in 1 C raspberries.  Bake in trays seen above with paper cupcake holders.

**After I let the muffins cool I took them out of the trays and noticed there was a decent amount of oil on the bottom of each – so I placed them on paper towels to help soak up the excess.  I would try using less coconut oil next time.  Either way, I obviously had to try one and it was sweet and tart at the same time.  The bottom of the muffin did get stuck to the paper a bit so just beware of that or bake for a bit longer.  Also, I’m not sure if I would lessen the amount of raspberries since the middle was a bit saturated – I plan on cutting them in half tomorrow and toasting them in our oven which will help with that issue.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even spread some of my homemade jam on it too.  Party time!

Feelin’ fresh

One of the most helpful places to shop when you are trying to transition to a healthier lifestyle – the FARMERS MARKET!  This one is an all-year-round indoor market.  What I meant by helpful is that there are no junk food, processed, candy isles in the majority of most farmers markets.  The toughest decision you have to make here is how much or how little to buy, especially because of the incredibly low costs!  I have to travel ~20 minutes to get here but it is well worth the trip.
I understand that it is tough to find access to local, low cost produce especially living in a city, but there are ways around it.  Look for local markets that pop up throughout your town or city – I have yet to go to the one in Hoboken but I know it’s offered.  Produce can be very expensive so you have to be smart about what you are choosing and only get what you know you will use that week – or simply find what is on sale and base some of your meals around those options.
Try breaking away from your normal routine.  My brother has told me to avoid those ‘crave-laden’ lanes and to only shop in the produce, meat, and dairy section, which is an interesting concept.  Personally, I like to peruse the health-food isles to see if something new might be on sale.
Today my dad and I did some Sunday food shopping for the week at the market and purchased the following produce: Raspberries, red peppers, assortment of apples, carrots, oranges, peaches, pineapple, kale, arugula, avocados, jalepeno, lemon & limes, celery, grapes, plums, portobello mushrooms, fresh mint, and fresh cilantro… phew!  All for a grand total of $36.00.  Divide that by each day of the week and you have yourself less than $5 a day for a few healthy option snacks, side dish for dinner, or what you see below…
Ready, set, start juicing!  Okay, I’m not going to tell you that you should or shouldn’t try an all-juice cleanse, I just know that it would not last me very long.  This is a simple way to give your body some good old Vitamin K without the nauseating thought of having to eat 2 lbs of cooked mushy carrots 😐 It does require you to have or to borrow a juicer, which would not be a bad investment since you are headed down this cleaner path. (that just sounded like wedding nuptials) Listen, the carrots were 3 packs for $1 so why not?  Start by peeling and chopping the end of the carrot which leads to a lot of peels so I did it over a sink then put the scraps in a bag or in your compost (which my mom won’t let me do, but would make me feel sooo organic).  I add green apples because just plain carrot juice is a bit rough; it gives it some acidity.  I peeled the apples and sliced up into the juicer.  I had half an orange in the fridge too so I killed that – I would recommend juicing more oranges as well and having this drink in the morning.  The last time I had orange juice was is in a mimosa because of all the sugar and lack-thereof actual oranges.  I don’t want my previous comment to sound pretentious but it is all about making those small lifestyle changes and your body will become used to not craving all of that sugar. I used to love me a tall glass of OJ.