Monthly Archives: April 2013

Layered Mason Jar Salads

I might be a little late to the Mason Jar salad party (salad party…whaaat?) but I am happy that I finally tried it out this week. Isn’t this beautiful? (Well, not my photography skills. I have a lot to learn and need a lot of practice. )IMG_1693

I take a salad to work for about 80% of my lunches. This has meant cleaning and chopping veggies nearly every Sunday, and dividing those veggies into multiple separate containers. You see I don’t like to premix my salads. There is just something unappetizing to me to have all of the beautiful colored veggies and proteins at the bottom of a bowl of wilted lettuce. So I typically portion out a daily serving of protein in one container, and then all of the mixed veggies for the day in a separate container, and my greens in a third container. For 4 days of salad this meant 12 containers (Impressed with my math skills? Why, yes. I AM an engineer)hogging room in my fridge, not to mention the constant experiment of how to best bring salad dressing.

This week I did the same prep of cleaning and chopping but layered my ingredients nicely in a jar for my Monday-Thursday lunches. The lettuce was still crisp and the salads were very fresh. Here’s a quick how-to for Mason Jar Salads.IMG_1691

Mason Jar Salad Directions:
It is really important to make sure your jar and all ingredients are dry before layering so you don’t end up with a soggy salad. I used the wide mouth quart-sized jars. It might not look like a huge jar but it completely fills a restaurant size bowl. I also dump my jar into a bowl rather that eating directly from the jar. Seems easier to eat and I like having the layers mixed together.  After some research and planning this is what I have found to be the optimal layering method:
1. Bottom layer – dressing
2. Second layer – hearty vegetables (think cucumbers, peppers, beets, carrots, onions, etc.) These vegetables will marinate in the dressing so keep that in mind when picking your dressing and veggies.
3. Third layer – proteins (beans, eggs, or meat). You could also do a grain here if you wanted.
4. Last layer – greens.

For my first salad I used:
1. 2 Tbsp of a homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing
2. Cucumbers, peppers, red onion, grape tomatoes
3. Chickpeas
4. Chopped romaine lettuce

I didn’t think cheese would be great in the jar so cheese is one of your favorite ingredients I would recommend brining it separately. I love avocado on my salads but it is definitely an ingredient that I like fresh so I will bring it separate when I decide to incorporate it.

Very easy way to get lots of fresh vegetables in your week and a very easy lunch to grab from the fridge on your way to work. Matt likes salads too but rarely takes one to work. He said I could sign him up for a couple next week. I think this will become a regular lunch in our house, so again I would love suggestions. What are your favorite salad combinations?

Homemade Lärabars

It’s funny – I had essentially no sweets cravings during pregnancy.  (But don’t even ask how many bags of frozen green beans I consumed or how many times I suggested some sort of beef dish for dinner)  But, unfortunately, my sweet tooth came back and I am trying to tame the beast.  I was trying to satisfy my sweet tooth with a piece of fruit after lunch but that really wasn’t cutting it.

After my friend, Megan, posted about her homemade Lärabars I thought they could be the perfect solution.  Lärabars are so yummy and have a very simple list of ingredients:  Dates, nuts, mix-ins, spices.  So last weekend I finally tried out a couple of variations.  These bars can last for about a month in the fridge so I made a couple of types so that Matt could take them for lunch too.

Apple Pie Homemade Lärabar

(adapted from this recipe at Rawified)

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • ½ cup dried apple rings, diced
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 3 tbsp cinnamon

Directions:

  • Combine the nuts and dates in a food processor.  Process for about 2 minutes, or until the ingredients start to form a sticky “dough.”
  • Add the cinnamon to the dough and combine for another 30 seconds or until you can see the cinnamon throughout the dough.
  • Add the dried apples and raisins and pulse until combined, making sure not to overprocess or liquefy the dough.
  • Get six pieces of plastic cling wrap ready
  • Divide and shape the dough into six equal sized bars, and wrap in cling wrap.  Store wrapped bars in an airtight container.Food ProcessorApple Cinnamon

I love anything cinnamon so I knew that this would be a hit with me.  Matt likes chocolate so I made a chocolate chip version too.  Same basic directions as above but with these ingredients:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Lärabar Ingredients:

  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • ¾ cup chocolate chipsCookie Doug

And because I had coconut on hand, I made these two as well:

Choco-Coco Lärabar Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mixed almonds and walnuts
  • 1 cup dates
  • 2 Tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Key Lime Pie Lärabar Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup dates
  • Juice of 3 Key Limes
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

The verdict? Finished Products Matt loved the cookie dough bars and is working his way through the six.  I decided he liked those so well I wouldn’t try them and would leave all for him.  I love the apple pie bars and really liked the choco-coco.  I’m just so-so about the key lime pie.  Despite a good amount of lime juice, the almond flavor was overwhelming.

 

Do you have a favorite Lärabar flavor?  I’m looking for flavors to try out after this stash is gone.

 

White Bean, Kale and Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers

Hope your Saturday is great so far!  I taught City Spin at City Gym this morning (love those people!) and went to brunch with my favorite boys at You Say Tomato.  We were trying for Succotash but the line was too long and I didn’t think Jack would enjoy a wait very much.

I am sitting down to do a little menu planning before grocery shopping but wanted to first get the awesome veggie burger recipe to you from last weekend’s post.  (I’m sure you’ve been on pins and needles waiting! ha!)

White Bean Sweet Potato Kale Veggie Burger

(adapted from this recipe at Making Thyme for Health)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans white beans (15 ounces each), drained and rinsed
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 medium cup onion, diced
  • 2 cups kale, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked
  • 1 ½ cup oatmeal (I used old fashioned oats but quick oats would probably work fine)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • Lime juice from 3 key limes
  • 3 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs

Directions:

  • Dump one drained & rinsed can of white beans in a large bowl
  • Next, add the kale, bell pepper, onion and garlic to the beans and stir together.
  • Puree the other can of drained and rinsed beans in a food processor until still slightly chunky.  Add to the bowl of other mixed ingredients.
  • Then add the cooked sweet potato (removed from the skins), through  salt and pepper to the bowl and combine together.
  • Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes (or for as long as it takes to change your baby and get him down for a nap.)
  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • Take handfuls of the bean mixture and form burger size patties with your hands. (I got 9.5 burgers out of this recipe)
  • Place the patties, one at a time, into the bowl with the breadcrumbs so that the outside of the burgers are slightly coated.
  • Place burgers on lined baking sheet and bake for 13 minutes on each side.   Sauté the burgers on the stove with olive oil for about one minute on each side to give them a nice crunchy finish.veggie burger mashveggie burger

This is one of the best veggie burgers I have made to date.  The Sriracha gave a welcome kick that will make even the biggest meat eaters appreciate them.  I had enough for a weekend lunch, my lunch throughout the week, and froze the remaining burgers in two packs (fully cooked to microwave later) to have for an easy lunch or dinner in a busy week…and aren’t they all busy weeks?

Even though this is a quick iPhone picture, aren’t the colors beautiful?  Enjoy!

Happy Friday

I hope you are heading into a wonderful weekend.  We are getting ready to head to a doctor’s appointment for Jack.  Wish us luck!  Shots!

I though I’d share yesterday’s workout in case you’re looking for a good equipment free workout for the weekend:

0.25 mile run
25 push-ups
25 squats
25 sit-ups
Repeat for a total of 5 rounds

It was a great one!

Yesterday Jack said he would like a dog4.19 big:

But I told him that Daddy says no dog until he is old enough to help take care of one.4.19 cry

 

 

 

 

 

But a couple of rounds of “How much is that doggy in the window? made Jack happy again.4.19 ok

 

Friends with Benefits

No, no, no. Not THAT kind of friends with benefits. I am referring to the benefits of being involved in the fitness community in Kansas City. One of my dear friends/running budding/favorite TRX instructor/Lululemon Ambassador, Jenny, invited me to a Lululemon Fit Session at the Country Club Plaza location.
Lulu asked Jenny to find some of her favorite fitness instructors/trainers that don’t wear a lot of their clothes to come in the store to try on lots of stuff with no pressure to buy. I have a couple of pairs of Lululemon yoga pants that I love but have always been hesitant about spending the money any of their clothes to get drenched in sweat from spinning or running. Their super fun staff helped me pick out clothes that fit for my activities (mainly spinning and running) and asked for feedback about what I liked most about the items I tried.  And what a funny coincidence! Kellen, who helped fit me, took my spin class that morning. So he saw me in action during the morning and knew just how sweaty I get!

My favorites of the day included the Cardio Kick Tank, pictured below.

cardio tank

I really like the fabric “Luxtreme” because it is amazing at keeping me dry during a really sweaty spin class. And the pattern on the shirt flattering for the waist. I think I will like this shirt a lot for spin classes and other cardio or weights classes. I have worn and washed it a couple of times and have been impressed with well it has washed.
I also tried on and liked the Run: Back On Track Tank. run tankThe color is bright and fun and the fit is so comfortable. The length is especially nice in a spin class because it does not ride up. It has a drawcord that will make sure it does not ride up on outside windy runs either. The material is super soft.
I also picked up another pair of the Wunder Under Crops. I already have a pair but have reserved them for yoga. They are such great pants, though, that I decided I would get another pair for spin classes and running. I am loving them!

Be sure to check out Lululemon Plaza’s facebook page for new products and events at the store – like the Monday night run group from the store (LOVE!) and the awesome weekly Sunday yoga classes (free!) taught by some of the best yogis in the city.
(Disclaimer: Lululemon gifted me the Cardio Kick Tank to keep and try. I loved the other two items and purchased them with my own $$)

Prepping for the Week

Hello!  I hope your weekend was great.  Mine was so refreshing.  Matt and I had our first big night out (longer than 1.5 hrs) since Jack was born just the two of us (Thanks to our wonderful friends Rachel & Dave) last night.  It’s amazing how much more we were able to really talk…even if half of our topics involved Jack.

So after a great night, I woke up ready to have a productive day.  I did more extensive menu planning on Thursday night so that I could get groceries on Friday afternoon.  So with the kitchen stocked I started some food prep.  On the menu for the week:

  • White bean kale burgers (recipe to come later this week) over romaine
  • Beef braised in wine with onions (based on this recipe) With sweet potatoes and steamed asparagus
  • Chicken stir-fry with bell peppers, onions, snow peas, and broccoli

Lots of veggies in these meals so I cleaned and chopped all of the veggies this afternoon so that our evenings will be a bit easier and so that we can have dinner on the table quicker.  Jack is really interested in dinner time lately.  He likes to imitate us chewing so we are trying to have dinner before his 8pm bedtime so he gets plenty of big people practice.

A couple of time-saving tips:

  1.  I almost always make a 4-pot serving of steel cut oats on Sunday and individually portion them out so that I can have an easy breakfast.  Today I added cinnamon to the pot as they were cooking.  These oats smell heavenly!
  2. I “cooked” the asparagus quick method.  I chopped the stalks in half, put them in a microwave bowl, added about ¼ cup of water to the bowl, covered in saran wrap and mircowaved for 3 minutes.  Perfect texture.

While the burgers were baking I put my workouts on my calendar to make sure I planned a variety of workouts and would make them a priority.

Monday:  Strength training/Dirty 30
Tuesday:  Run group
Wednesday:  Spinning
Thursday:  Run group
Friday:  Strength training
Saturday:  Teach Spinning (at City Gym)

Now that I’ve typed it out I feel even more committed.  All of these are morning workouts which works best for me.  You see, I have this funny little guy at home and I have an impossibly hard time leaving his side after the work day.  Here’s a video of his new vocalization:

Any big plans for the week?

A Week of Gratitude

Happy Saturday!  I’m checking back in because I want to document a little bit of this week.  A year ago this week we found out that our little family was growing.  I knew I was pregnant before taking the test.  It’s strange…I was traveling for work and wanted to wait for Matt but when we talked at night I told him I had never been so sure of anything.  I just felt it, which was such a welcome feeling.

I’m a pretty private person (sounds odd coming from someone who blogs) but I really didn’t share our journey of wanting kids with many people.  I don’t know exactly why…but I think women often take on the guilt burden in many fertility issues even if there is no diagnosed issue, as was our case.  I’m also a pretty upbeat person, but these were some very dark months for me.  Now that Jack is here it doesn’t seem like it was that long of a wait but 19 months of praying and hoping for your little miracle is very trying.  We were prepared to undergo major fertility treatment but our  Jack decided to make his appearance.

And even on the sleepiest morning, I go into his room overwhelmed with so much gratitude.  Overjoyed doesn’t even come close to describing how I feel that he is all ours.  And to some very special friends out there praying for your little bundle of joy please know I’m praying along with you on your journey.  I know you too have a lot of love to share.

Before I get too heavy with emotion I thought it would be fun to do a quick look back at the last year.  Matt was so great at documenting the pregnancy through photos.  The fruits/veggies showed Jack’s size for that particular week.

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Isn’t the female body amazing?  I was more appreciative and amazed with my body over the last year than I would have ever imagined.  I am so grateful that my body could grow such an amazing little human, and I am so grateful that I was able to bounce back.  Today’s 5K was so much fun!

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Please share something you’re grateful for this week in the comments!

4 Month Update

Another month gone in the blink of an eye!  It has been a very exciting month around here.

We made our first trip as a family of three back to Illinois last weekend for Jack’s baptism.  Generations of Matt’s family on both sides have been baptized at St. Anthony’s and with all of our family in Illinois it was a perfect choice for us.IMG_1405

Auntie Kate and Auntie Tina are Jack’s Godmothers.IMG_1440

Even though Jack has no cousins he is blessed with 4 very loving grandparents and 5 amazing great-grandparents.  What a lucky little boy!IMG_1453

Matt’s sister, Tina, and her husband, Brandon came home from Italy and met Jack.  Jack was pretty smitten with Auntie Tini – and has requested some cousins when they live in the US again.  ;)   And Matt’s brother, Doug, came home too.  Doug might not be a “baby” person but I know he and Jack will be fast and furious friends through his toddler years.

It’s really amazing how quickly babies grow and change.  I had coffee with friends today and I found myself saying, “Oh yeah, Jack would do that when he was younger.”  Younger than 4 months?!  They really do change.  The giggles and shrieks of joy are the biggest descriptors of the month.  I look forward to his laughs more than anything.  Matt gets the best shrieks when he picks Jack up from day care.  We can tell that he really knows us now, and loves entertaining us.  He is becoming more independent and is happy to play quietly in his crib or playmat too.  Such a big boy!IMG_1581

IMG_1594Check out the 3 Month Update for comparisons.  By the way, I walked into his nursery this morning before heading to the gym to make sure he was still asleep.  Somehow he had turned on his mobile!  (Must have pushed the button with his little feet!)  Something new with Jack every day.

Mommy update after 4 months:  I have been back at work for about a month and have adjusted really well.  I am working 4 days a week (I am so lucky!) so I have been put on great projects but also get an extra day of Jack time.  Fitness-wise things are going really well.  I am back to early morning workouts for the most part, which means that I can make my workouts a priority and get in about 5 a week.  I’m working on getting faster and stronger every week.  And tomorrow I have my first postpartum 5K.  I’ll give you all an update after the race.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

Good Eats

I’m one of those people who would like to look in other people’s shopping carts at the store but I hold myself back so that I’m not too rude.  I can get some good ideas from snooping though and that I would give you a virtual look into my weekend groceries.

I stopped in at Trader Joe’s over the weekend.  Usually I look at a couple of my staple grocery stores ads to see what is on sale for the week and start to menu plan.  I really did not have my stuff together before Saturday but when I had the opportunity to go to the store I thought I had better grab it planned or not.  This trip was not as planned out, but I think planning on going heavy on produce is a good strategy in our house.

IMG_1280I always start with the fruits and veggies section of a store so that I give good cart real estate to the good stuff.  The winners:  a couple of bags of romaine, baby spinach, kale, broccoli slaw, carrots, avocados, snap peas, tri-color peppers, cherry tomatoes, oranges and frozen peas.

IMG_1281Followed by bananas, Greek yogurt, feta cheese, shredded mixed cheese, pizza dough, horseradish, black beans, pasta sauce, a few soups, a couple of boxes of crackers and chicken sausage.  IMG_1282

Followed up with dates for some baking next week, two frozen entrees (Indian and Mexican), pecans, granola bars, and TJ’s nutella.

I stopped at another store for a standing rib roast (Matt’s request for his birthday dinner).  The TJ’s trip set me back about $120.  As I look at the pictures I can see a lot of waste in the packaging, and can see ways that I could save money by getting less convenience food (packaged lettuce, pre-cut veggies).  But all in all I was happy to have so much beautiful produce that will help fuel our week.

Interesting combination of the trip?  Greek yogurt with prepared horseradish is delicious!  It was so good with the standing rib roast and I could see it being a great dip for veggies.IMG_1284

Jack thought Free State was the most interesting find of the trip.

Any Trader Joe’s favorites I need to add to my next trip?

No Fooling

Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband, Jack’s loving daddy.  Matt’s mom put together some comparisons of Matt to Jack at roughly the same age.4.1.134.1.13 2

Matt was a cute enough baby, but turned into one of the most handsome men I have seen in person (in my humble opinion).  It will be so fun to see what our little guy will look like when he grows up.

Today’s workout was inspired by Matt’s first day of being 31 and saying goodbye to 30.

Dirty Thirty

For time:
30 Box jump, 24 inch box
30 Jumping pull-ups
30 Kettlebell swings, 1 pood
Walking Lunge, 30 steps
30 Knees to elbows
30 Push press, 45 pounds
30 Back extensions
30 Wall ball shots, 20 pound ball
30 Burpees
30 Double unders

This is a Crossfit workout that is super tough but so much fun.  Check out Crossfit’s website if you’re unfamiliar with any of the workouts.

Now off to enjoy a skillet cookie with the birthday boy.  What’s your ideal birthday dessert?