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California Food Adventures

I’m currently in California. I may be 400 miles from home still, but there is something comforting about being back in my home state.

It’s always weird to me traveling and then coming back. I always imagine a ton of different realities for myself. What if I was living there? What would my life be like? This trip was definitely some of that—I was really close to a college I got recruited to for softball for undergrad. I even went on an overnight recruiting visit there! (Which I had totally forgotten I had gone on until my mom reminded me!)

My layover was in the Dallas Fort Worth airport, and I actually found some good options. I got a caprese salad with chicken, artichoke hearts, olives, and fresh mozzarella.

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Dinner in SoCal was really exciting though. I was looking at nearby places and discovered one of my favorite East Coast chains was 10 minutes away! Le Pain Quotidien. I went there twice on my trip to DC for the Cherry Blossom race.

I got the grilled chicken and mozzarella tartine on gluten free bread. Their GF bread is really great and seedy. Lots of texture.

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Man, I missed California food. And dessert? OMG. Best thing I’ve eaten in a REALLY long time. I have had essentially no non-packaged GF baked cookies since coming to St. Louis. But there was a pie place in SoCal, I Like Pie, that offers a daily GF option.

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Honestly, I didn’t have very high expectations for this (I was expecting it to be dry) but it was insane. It was a mini cherry pie.

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I brought it to the hotel to eat during baseball and was still really full from dinner, but couldn’t stop eating it. It was so buttery and moist, with delicious cherry filling. The crumb top was of course amazing as well.

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I went to bed with a VERY full but satisfied belly!

Monday morning I went for a run first thing. Well, technically I waited around for it to get light out first. The neighborhood of my hotel was borderline sketchy, and safety first!

You know you’re in SoCal when…

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Scenes from my run:

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Afterwards I sat down for a hotel breakfast. For some reason egg sounded good, so I had some egg substance with a mini blueberry chobani and honey nut Cheerios. How much nut is actually honey nut Cheeries? It says it contains “natural almond flavor.” I guess we’ll find out haha.

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For lunch, I picked up some chicken vegetable soup the previous night at Le Pain Quotidien, which came with more of their delicious GF bread.

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You better believe I did my research for dinner as well, and it did not disappoint. I went to Last Drop Cafe in downtown Claremont. I got the vegan sandwich on GF bread. The sandwich had all kinds of delicious veggies and dressing, but of course what won me over was the avocado.

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Even better? It came with a cookie, and they offer a daily GF cookie option. This was a pumpkin snickerdoodle (!!!) which was the perfect way to celebrate Halloween! OMG so freaking good.

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To continue the Halloween celebration through food, since the cookie was small, I decided to get some froyo—pumpkin froyo!

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With some white chocolate raspberry and chocolate. Topped with mini m&ms and some hot fudge.

I love cute little downtowns:

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I was a little sad to spend my favorite holiday alone in a hotel room, so I tried to quell the feelings with some chocolate from the hotel. And then food network holiday cake competitions which made me want more chocolate, so a Luna bar would have to stand in for a chocolate gingerbread haunted house.

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This was my Tuesday morning:

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Yayyy for 6am flights! I actually woke up before my alarm. Go me? I guess 3:55am pacific time=5:55am central time which=late for Crossfit.

Apparently getting to my gate super early is becoming a habit for me…plenty of time for breakfast though! I had a bar that I brought, and supplanted with “fruit.”

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Lunch in Dallas was also good. I found a Southwest salad (with avocado!) plus part of a GF brownie. Yum!

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I made it back to St. Louis in time for Crossfit.

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Sidenote: I don’t understand St. Louis weather. It was 85 degrees when I got back. How is it over 20 degrees colder in SoCal than Missouri in November?? And how can it be 40 one day and 80 the next??

At Crossfit we did 1 rep max sumo deadlifts, and I fit 220 pounds. It was probably the slowest deadlift I’ve ever done but I got it up! For the WOD we did Annie with some push ups added in. Annie is 50-40-30-20-10 of double unders and sit ups. My double unders have seriously gotten so much better over the past year.

And how I’m blogging with the kitties and baseball 🙂 I can’t believe I’m only in St. Louis for 2.5 more weeks though!

Where is your favorite area to eat?

Animal Kingdom

Hi friends! I’ve been meaning to post all week, but somehow time got away from me! I want to catch you all up on workouts+food+fun (and animals because that is my life.) Yoyo is currently flopped out next to me, helping with the blogging process clearly.

First, I wanted to talk about Monday’s Crossfit. We did the Crossfit Total, which is finding the 1 rep max of back squat, press, and deadlift. Since I’ve had 1001 injuries lately, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew my squat wasn’t going to be a PR. I surprised myself by hitting 190# on the squat! I don’t think I’ve lifted heavier than like 165 since hurting my foot, so I was super happy with that. I hit 80#, which tied my max on press (definitely not my strongest lift), and fell quite short of my max on deadlifts at 225, which was to be expected because I haven’t done heavy deads in a while. My total was 495#. I looked back at the last time I did this, New Year’s Eve 2013, and I actually got the same total! Given my deadlifts were pretty low this time (I PRed deads that day), I was happy with my squat progress! I’ll take it!

Other workouts—running! 3 miles is feeling good on my foot right now, so I’m starting to slowly build a little speed (as in, I pay a tiny bit of attention to it.. I ran my first Garmin run this week! The first 3 mile run felt awful, but the second felt better, and my time even improved a tiny bit. I honestly don’t care about how much speed I’ve lost, because I knew that was going to happen. I’m ready to slowly build back up that endurance!

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It was a good week at the zoo. The weather is finally cooling down to be quite pleasant, and I’m just hoping that sticks around!

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The Tasmanian Devils are my favorites. They’re nocturnal and are usually sleeping when I see them, so it was a treat to see them up and moving around!

I’ve also been enjoy a lot of downtime snuggling with the kitties, Scooby and Yoyo.

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Food:

Sunbutter and jam with my Aunt’s homemade blackberry jam! I needed some things from home and the shipping fee was a flat rate, so my parents there in something heavy!

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I’m on a huge spaghetti squash kick right now. This is spaghetti squash with marinara, avocado toast, and broccoli.

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I finally found watermelon yogurt! It’s good! Topped with granola and sunbutter.

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My typical work lunch for now if it isn’t a sandwich is a peach, goat cheese, and chicken salad. Plus a savory granola bar. I like these. I thought the concept was a little weird, but they’re basically like crackers.

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The zoo has Dole pineapple whips (soft serve) and I’ve been eying them since I got here! Friday during lunch was finally the time! So good.

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Weekend happenings:

Friday afternoon my roommates invited me to go watch a big local bike race that evening, so I stopped by the grocery store on the way back from work to pick up some beer to bring. I happened into a pretty big free fall beer tasting, which was pretty cool! I ended up buying one of the beers, and it was really delicious!

Then, we headed over to the park to watch the races. They’re so fast!

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We hung around for a few hours before heading out to dinner at a place by the house.

Saturday morning began bright and early, though brighter and earlier than necessary thanks to the aggressively needy Yoyo who figured out how to open my door, and subsequently found his toy at 5:30am. Then, it was off to teach spin! It was a good class, but small thanks to the gorgeous weather and the holiday weekend.

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The main event Saturday was meeting up with my really good friend’s sister, who happened to randomly be in St. Louis! We met up at Rise for coffee, and it was great to catch up with her and meet her friend! They’re both dental students, so it was interesting to compare their experiences with all the vet stuff.

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Sunday definitely did not go as planned. I was planning on going to Open Gym at Crossfit to make up the Saturday WOD that I missed, but when I got outside, I was greeted with a flat tire on my rental car. I ended up Ubering to Crossfit because I didn’t think the rental car place was open yet, and did the following workout:

heavy set of 3 sumo deadlifts (It was supposed to be 1rm but I probably haven’t done sumos in a good 2 years)

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box jumps

wall balls

I wanted to do this one because it was pretty friendly to my hand, which is still pretty painful.

Then it was time to deal with the car. I was especially sad because I really liked driving that car–it was the same kind I drove in TN! The whole process was honestly pretty painful.

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But now I have wheels again, so I can’t complain. I don’t have much going on the rest of the day. I have to work Monday morning so I’ll likely keep it low key! I might head to a park with a book, because my allergies tend to get a little bad after being around the animals all day!

What did you do for the long weekend?

WIAW-St. Louis Adventures

Hello, and happy first WIAW from St. Louis! Thanks as always to Jenn for starting WIAW!

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If you haven’t gathered, I’m in St. Louis! I moved here for 3 months, and I’m starting to get settled in. I had my first day of work yesterday, and Tuesdays I have off, so I took the time to explore the city a little bit more. So let’s dive in!

Breakfast:

I woke up hungry and had a few crackers and strawberries while I made my yogurt bowl, which was 2% plan greek, cinnamon KIND granola, sunbutter.

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Plus a really, really good nectarine. I was pretty surprised, to be honest. The few I bought were looking pretty sad.

Coffee:

While I do have an extra day off during the week, I also have online class(es) to work on, so I decided on my day off I will “commute” to the best coffeeshops I can find and work on my schoolwork. I have a list of coffeeshops that I intend to hit up. Today’s choice was Blueprint Coffee in Delmar Loop, near Wash U. Watch their video<-to know they’re legit! Coffee is a cherished process at Blueprint, and it did not disappoint.

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As per usual, I had a decaf cappuccino and it was amazing. I would HIGHLY recommend Blueprint. Another plus? I was able to park on the street right out front! I spent a couple of hours there making sure my vet apps are in order, signing up for said online class, and looking into some spin teaching opportunities for while I’m here.

Around 11, I decided I didn’t want to overstay my welcome, so I walked around the neighborhood a bit. So cute!

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Lunch:

I didn’t have too much else to do in that neighborhood, so I decided to make one last stop for lunch: Kayak Cafe. This was another cute little coffeeshop. I had a sandwich on GF (toasted!) bread with turkey, swiss, spring greens, tomato, and herbed cream cheese. Yum!

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It was interesting being basically on another college campus. I feel like I saw the college experience I didn’t have. I originally wanted to move out of CA, and I always pictured myself curled up in coffeeshops in the snow studying. I guess maybe this fall! Ignore the fact that my wardrobe is totally unequipped for snow…I spent the next hour and a half or so driving around exploring Clayton, Maplewood, and some other areas.

Snack+unfortunate situation:

When I got back, I had a few bites of Birthday Cake Halo Top, and then proceeded to lock myself out. I’ve been here 2 days…

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I was taking my roommates dog to go out, which normally she would be let out the back but I couldn’t figure out how to open the door, so I took her out front. I didn’t think it was possible for the door to lock the way it did….so I was stuck outside with no phone or keys, just dog!

It took me about 30 minutes to find a way back in, but I did it! There’s always a way. I was SO happy to be back inside—my roommate wouldn’t be home for another 3 hours!

I decompressed from the situation with a peppermint Luna bar, 2 kitties, and Netflix.

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I ran out to do some errands—joined a gym+grocery, before it was Crossfit time!

I went to my new box for the first time! It was sort of hard to find. It’s on a side street down an alley…It was a pretty small box in terms of people, probably the smallest I’ve been to. Definitely not a bad thing, just a little different! One big plus is that it seems to be in a good neighborhood, which honestly was the top priority for me.

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I had a good workout! For strength we did close grip bench press. I’ve never benched with close grip before, so that was a bit of a challenge. My left side weakness was pretty apparent here! The WOD was a benchmark that we are going to retest in 4 weeks.

Baseline: 500m row, 40 air squats, 30 sit ups, 20 push ups, 10 pull ups

The push ups were definitely my weakest point, and slowed me the most (especially after bench!). I finished in 6:32.

When I returned, it was dinnertime!

Dinner:

I snacked on some watermelon while I started to get things ready, as per usual. I actually ended up eating most of this throughout the meal and cooking.

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For dinner, I was planning on making some kind of scramble with spinach…and then I realized I forgot to buy spinach. Oops. This was my first time actually cooking here though! (Yesterday I microwaved soup…) Instead, I settled for an omelette and side salad. It came out pretty well! I used goat gouda and Italian spices. I also had avocado toast on the side.

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I got the garlic powder from Whole Foods and it is POTENT. It has a super fine, almost powdered sugar-y texture, and tastes just like fresh garlic!

My companion:

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Dessert:

I tried some of these chocolate rice cakes. They were underwhelming. Plus a spoon of Halo Top.

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Have you ever been to St. Louis? Any recommendations on things to see/eat?

WIAW: #Bootlife Nostalgia

Today on the way to teaching spin at my undergrad campus, I listened to an album that I listened to a lot last spring. Immediately it took me back to all my boot workouts: grinding it out on the bike, learning new leg machines, endless dumbbell presses. I actually miss the boot in some strange way. Obviously, it’s nice not having a broken foot. But many good times were had in my boot. While wearing a giant boot with a broken foot was painful and made it hard to get around, I didn’t let it hold me back from doing anything I wanted to do and from enjoying my senior year. And not going to lie, I definitely felt super tough doing some of the things I did in a boot. I tried to make the most of it and have fun with it. Protip: if you go out and don’t want people to step on your broken foot, lighting up your boot works fabulously. The big silver lining of #bootlife was that I spent 2 months working on pull ups like a mad woman, and now I’m busting them out in workouts like it’s no big deal. (I did 50 kipping pull ups on Monday in sets of 5 the whole way!) Being optimistic is who I am; I may be sarcastic and pessimistic about humanity, but on a case by case basis I always look for the bright side.

But again, I think a lot of the good times that were had in the boot were because of the awesome people I was with. I’m missing my college friends like crazy now, and while I’m excited for a new opportunity in a new city, I’m sad I won’t see them every day. I think it’s finally getting real that I won’t be going back to Stanford this fall.

Sigh.

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(Featuring: Boot goes to the beach, boot goes win tasting in Napa, boot goes to the Giant’s game, boot goes to senior nights, boot goes to a Stanford baseball game, boot ‘graduates” from my sorority, and boot does murph.)

After that absurdly long introduction, let’s get into WIAW, shall we? Thanks as always to Jenn for starting the fun all those years ago.

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For breakfast, I had a few crackers alongside a smoothie bowl. I recently bought Quest salted caramel protein powder, and so far I don’t hate it. I want to try it in waffles/pancakes at some point though!

In the blender went 1.33 bananas, milk, cocoa powder, and protein powder. I topped it with some KIND Raspberry granola.

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I taught a noon spin class on campus. It was a class I made when I had a broken foot, and it was fun to actually be able to do the full class for real (I couldn’t stand before).

I had some business to attend to on campus, so I packed a lunch because I knew I would be hungry post-spin. I had a Trader Joe’s chicken, goat cheese, and beet salad, and a few crackers.

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When I got back, I had snack part 1: a farmer’s market peach that was absolutely delicious.

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Snack part 2 was a new purchase: a Flapjacked muffin. I saw these the other day and actually am not allergic to anything in them, so I was excited to try them out! Plus, given my physical activity for the day I knew I wanted plenty of protein, and these pack 20g in.

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I overcooked it a tiny bit. When I originally took it out, it seemed too soft still so I added a few extra seconds and apparently that was too much. It was good though! The cinnamon chips were a good touch!

Before dinner, I attended a spin class. Normally I would never double up spin, but since it’s my last week and I had one spin credit left to a local studio, I wanted to go to one of my favorite teacher’s classes. It was a fun one! I always like her music.

For dinner, we had roasted corn and spaghetti squash mac and cheese.I haven’t had mac and cheese in forever so I was excited!

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I love the idea of using spaghetti squash. Honestly, I’m not a huge pasta person. I’m all about the sauce! And who doesn’t love sneaking in extra veggies? This may be my favorite way to eat spaghetti squash thus far!

For dessert, I had my final 2 leftover grad cupcakes: chocolate with caramel frosting, and caramel with chocolate frosting.

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A little while later, I had another snack. Because, hello, 2 spin classes, I needed the calories! Another thing I was super excited to try? Pumpkin spice cheerios! We finally found them! Yes, they are good. And I’m ready to dive headfirst into pumpkin. I was crazy into pumpkin a couple of years ago, but less recently. I think I’m due for another year of being crazy into pumpkin. And clearly I’m starting off strong with 2 pumpkin items in one day!

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I also had a few milk chocolate chips to cap it off.

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Have you had any pumpkin yet? What’s you favorite fall food?

I love pumpkin bread!

WIAW-My Shoulder is Cranky

Guess who is back for WIAW? I’m trying really hard to blog more old-school HLB style these days since I have more time. (Or am I just procrastinating vet school apps? We will never know.)

Thanks to Jenn for starting this party all those years ago!

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Before I get into my full day of eating, I wanted to share some things from Monday night.

We made a rosemary chicken, bacon, and avocado salad, although I left the bacon off of my portion!

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I usually try to build my meals my having a protein, a carb, a vegetable/fruit, and sometimes a fat. Thus, I added a slice of gluten free toast on the side. My biggest health tip is to use fresh herbs generously. They really boost the flavor of the dish and add nutritional value, without extra calories/sodium.

We had some extra ripe bananas (I am NOT a spotted banana eater), so I tossed them in a pan with Earth Balance butter substitute (I like the flavor more than butter, actually), a spoonful of brown sugar, and cinnamon.

They sautéed up perfectly, and tasted decadent. The fruit naturally caramelizes, so it doesn’t take much sugar/butter for these to caramelize right up. I enjoyed my portion with some vanilla frozen yogurt. I like having the cold stuff in a separate bowl, otherwise I feel pressure to eat quickly before the ice cream all melts!

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Now, finally, onto the full day of eating!

My morning began with my gummy vitamins and 2 gluten free crackers before Crossfit. Only 2 crackers because I wasn’t super hungry, and I was running late, but I like to have some sort of carbs in my belly before lifting heavy things.

At Crossfit, we worked on reverse hypers and pistols (onto a box for me). Reverse hypers are basically back extensions on the GHD. Fun fact: 3 years into Crossfit later, last week I finally learned what GHD stands for: gluts-hamstring developers. Who knew.

The WOD:

12 AMRAP:

5 deadlifts 155#

5 handstand push ups

The scale for handstand push up was strict press, and I of course took that option. I used 55# for the presses.After yesterday’s pull ups, my shoulders were pretty sore. My upper back actually got pretty tired from the deadlifts, something that doesn’t normally happen. I got through 10 rounds.

My shoulder is cranky though. I partially dislocated it a year ago, and while I can do everything now, it gets tight and painful if I use it a lot.

I wasn’t feeling yogurt for breakfast, so I decided to take advantage of my access to a Vitamix and make a smoothie. It was super simple, but super delicious: 1 frozen banana, cocoa powder, nonfat milk. I topped it with some raspberry KIND granola.

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Because #nutrition, I do want to note that in my food choices, I do make an effort to stay pretty low fat. This has absolutely nothing to do with what I think the health merits of fat are—I think whole foods are extremely nutritious, including whole milk and olive oil, and in the past I’ve eaten a lot more fat and felt great. However, a lingering effect of my illness last year (I seriously need to do an update soon on that) is that I can’t handle much fat without feeling sick. So I choose the lower fat options as much as possible to stay feeling good.

I spent the morning doing vet school apps—I’m slowly but surely getting there!—before breaking for lunch.

On Sunday night, we grilled up a TON of chicken, so it’s been featured in pretty much every meal lately. I heated some up (and dipped it in catch up), and served it with a caprese salad. We were gifted homegrown tomatoes, so I chopped one up with fresh basil and fresh mozzarella, which I topped with salt and pepper. This is another example of choosing lower fat options—in the past, I might have topped this with olive oil, but I enjoyed it plenty without!

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I also ate some gluten free crackers on the side, plus a couple of squares of mint dark chocolate.

I sent some emails and then went to the grocery to buy granola bars and things for dinner. An exciting new find was KIND dark chocolate granola, which I can envision on top of a chocolate banana smoothie bowl! I’m a big fan of KIND granola—the nutrition facts really can’t be beat. Also, a little goes a long way! It’s part of a great breakfast when paired with protein, such as yogurt!

Of course, I had to try some as part of my snack.

 

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On the side was a farmer’s market plum and a NuGo bar. At this point, I basically eat exclusively Luna bars, but got a different brand to mix it up today. It was delicious, but honestly a little too much dark chocolate for me—I felt a little jittery!

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I went to a spin class with one of my favorite instructors that evening. It’s a class with lots of choreography and push ups on the bike, but I really love her playlists!

Dinner made use of some of the food we had on hand.

Watermelon salad with mint and feta. Literally mint, watermelon, and feta.

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Also, roasted garlic-parmesan zucchini and tomatoes. We topped them with basil, and this dish was incredibly delicious. The parmesan got brown and bubbly, and the vegetables were bursting with flavor.

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All with BBQ chicken!

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For dessert, I tried a Blueberry Yasso frozen yogurt bar. I had Yasso bars most nights in Tennessee. I LOVE the salted caramel, and like the mint chocolate chip a lot as well. The blueberry was good too, but the salted caramel still holds the main place in my heart.

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(Check out the puppy in the background! She’s always there—she’s at my feet right now as I type this up!)

My family and I started watching The Gilmore Girls tonight. We finished our show last night (The Good Wife), and couldn’t find anything else we were in the middle of on Netflix, so we decided to give it a try. I like it well enough so far, and it’s quite a blast from the past (2000).

I was a little hungry, so I snacked on a little bit of KIND Dark Chocolate granola, and a few freeze dried grapes (they’re really fun—they were on sale at CVS!)

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And now I’m planted in front of the Olympics. So far I’ve seen a couple of swimming finals, both of which I already knew the results of. It does make it less stressful though!

What is your favorite granola/protein bar?