Healthy, Protein Packed Turkey Burgers

Is this title a bit shocking?

I know I have a tendency to post recipes that fall slightly more on the decadent side…like Giant Oreo Cakes and Rice Krispie Treats loaded with browned butter, however, I feel compelled to share this super healthy recipe today!

For the longest time (and I mean YEARS) I’ve eaten the same boring lunch…day in and day out. A spinach salad with olive oil, vinegar and some type of protein. It’s always been kind of, meh. Lately though, I’ve found myself skipping lunch in favor of snacking throughout the day because I’ve been so sick of this salad. Of course, that’s not the smartest thing either because I’ll tell you right now I’m totally eating chocolate instead not snacking on anything as virtuous as spinach…or anything that remotely resembles salad. 

So the other week while grocery shopping I picked up a package of 99% lean ground turkey breast and thought, “what if I mix all my standard salad ingredients into this turkey and made loaded turkey burgers for lunch?”. I mean, it’s really just spinach and olive oil, right? How bad can that be? No worse than that awful, cold, boring salad…anything was better than that so I figured it was worth the shot.

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The first time I made these I chopped up a big container of raw spinach, tossed it with garlic and olive oil and mashed it into my turkey meat. It was really good, but I wanted to try it a few different ways before I declared my favorite version. This week I sautéed the spinach in olive oil first, then mixed the turkey meat into that and added some egg whites for extra moisture (I know, I’m shkeeving the word too, but come onnnnnn, even the synonyms for “moist” are offensive!) and protein. This version is sooo juicy and satisfying that it’s hard to believe that the calories and nutritional value are the same as that pathetic little salad I used to scarf down. 

These burgers are so good and so surprisingly satisfying! They’re incredibly flavorful and delicious hot or cold which is great if you typically eat your lunch while on the go, like I always do! I’ve eaten these between a soft, squishy whole wheat bun with a little bit of mustard, rolled up in a whole wheat tortilla, then pressed like a panini-wrap and straight up plain, wrapped up cold in a square of tin foil straight out of my cooler while driving to work.

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The subtle olive oil flavor is the star of the show and the vibrant green spinach flowing throughout reminds you that you’re fueling your body both deliciously and healthfully! 

Hope you give these a try and enjoy them as much as I do! They make a great mid day meal, dinner and even a post work out snack! 

Enjoy!

 

Healthy, Protein Packed Turkey Burgers

Serves 5

Ingredients:

- 1.5 lbs ground turkey meat (98-99% lean breast meat)

- 5 cups spinach 

- 1 or 2 (depending on taste) cloves of garlic, minced fine

- 1/4 cup egg whites (or the white of one large egg)

- 4 TBSP Olive Oil 

- 1/2 TBSP Sambal Olek (optional, but I love the added heat)

- Salt & Pepper, to taste

 

Directions:

In a large sautee pan, over low to medium heat, heat up the olive oil and garlic. Stir while it cooks until the garlic becomes fragrant (about 3-4 minutes). Add in all the spinach and give it a quick stir to make sure it is evenly coated with the garlic and oil. Stir as it cooks and the spinach wilts down, about 5-6 minutes. Once the spinach is completely wilted remove the heat and let it sit until it comes to room temperature (I usually pop it in the fridge for a bit). 

Place the room temperature spinach mix into a large bowl and add the egg whites, Sambal Olek, salt and pepper. Then, add in the turkey breast and mix by hand, careful not to overwork the meat. 

Using a kitchen scale, weigh each patty out to 5.5-6 ounces. This recipe makes 5 burgers. Place on a lined baking sheet prepared with non-stick cooking spray. Cook the burgers in a 400 degree oven for 8-10 minutes per side, or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.

 

Eat immediately or store in the fridge for up to one week! 

Enjoy!

xoxo

 

 

Summer Reading

For as long as I can remember reading has always been a big, albeit rarely broadcasted (in fear of sounding like a total dork), hobby of mine. Come the end of the school year I secretly always looked forward to the “Summer Reading List” sent by our soon-to-be teachers as each book gave me a new story, a new slice of fantasy, to look forward to.

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As I’ve gotten older my love of reading has increased..I’d say more so each year. Nostalgically enough, summer time is my favorite time of year to snuggle up to a good read.

Actually, I not-so-secretly enjoyed several or so “free reads” on my winter breaks as well. Here’s how I see it: Summer is a time to relax therefore, I enjoy mindless “chick-lit” (although, it’s hard for me to actually call it that, seeing as most of my “chick-lit” faves are New York Times Best Sellers…is it possible to get on that prestigious list with only female readers??) novels. I like the standard BEACH reads. Sue me. When I’m relaxing at the beach, my book needs to relax me too! Then, come fall, even though I guess I’m like…a legitimate adult now, I still gravitate towards non-fictions, self-help and educational books come fall. Then, of course, over the holidays I read two or three fun reads and go back to the brain-power-expanding books for a few months until the summer free for all hits!

So, in honor of my favorite season for reading (and to provide an active “list” for those of us who still crave guided summer reading..um, que the girl-raising-one-arm emoji, please) I wanted to share a list of the books I’ve read so far this summer and a list of books I recently purchased.

If you’ve read any of the following, please share your thoughts!
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Books I’ve Read Since June
1. Psychos, A White Girl Problems Book, by Babe Walker Ok, I told you I like to
turn my brain off come summer. Don’t judge, especially since I literally laughed out loud pretty much every other page with this one.

2. White Girl Problems by Babe Walker I know. I do realize I read the sequel first. It’s fine. If you’re going to read only one I actually recommend Psychos. I def enjoyed it more, it was funnier and it gave enough background that you didn’t feel completely lost if you hadn’t read this book first. This book is definitely the Twitter feed in novel form. Not that that’s the worst thing…

3. Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand AHHHHHHHOOmygosh I honestly don’t know why it’s taken me so long to join the cult following of Elin. She truly is the Queen of the Beach Novel and this first read sealed the deal for me. Like, when I finished I kind of set a goal for myself to read all her novels this summer…I think there are like 12, no big deal, right?

4. Ladies Night by Mary Kay Andrews I read my first Mary Kay Andrews novel (Summer Rental) last summer and I simply fell in love with her humor and writing style. The main character of this novel is actually a lifestyle blogger and I enjoyed the bit of blogging-background that it provided! Definitely a chick novel, but a great read nonetheless!

5. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne Ok, honestly, EVERYONE, literally EVERYONE should read The Secret and I’ll just leave it at that. Actually, I’ll add this—I cannot believe it took me THIS LONG to finally read it. Read it. Do it, now.

6. Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand This one just assured me that Elin’s novels are where it’s AT come summer time. As a lady who recently got married, with a whole boatload of family drama attached, this was the PERFECT book for me! If you have been through a wedding that included family drama, whether you were the bride, groom, MOH, friend, bridesmaid or standby guest…this book is MUST READ. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a deep hearted romantic and I even I enjoyed the blatant cynicism in this book.

7. The Happiness Projet by Gretchen Rubin Ok, I’m cheating a bit because I actually read this book in May (at the tail end of my reading-for-education season!!). I plan on reading this book again this summer because it was that inspiring. Who couldn’t stand to be a little bit happier? As a philosophy major and happiness seeker this book was right up my alley.


Books I’ve Recently Purchased/Started:

1.Ghosts of Boyfriends Past by Carly Alexander Which one of these is not like the other???? Ok, so this book was given to me in a big gift bag on my bridal shower. I can’t leave a book unopened so I decided to give it a go this week. I started this book on Friday, as in two days ago, and I’ve got 20 pages to go. To say it’s an easy read is being generous. I know I said that I like mindless reading in the summer but, come on, I need a LITTLE depth! Not to say that this book is terrible, it’s just…well, I would have enjoyed it in middle school. Maaaaaybe even the 9th grade. Basically if you’re under 15 and reading this blog…check out this book! Maybe over winter break though since it is a Christmas based novel.

2. The One and Only by Emily Griffin I adore Emily Griffin! I’ve read all of her novels thus far and this one is her latest. I actually just bought it today and I’m so excited to crack it open as I’ve heard stellar reviews!

3. The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand Dan and I went on a book-buying-binge at Target today and this was the first book I selected. Obviously. I am in love with this novelist and this one is supposedly one of her best. I’ve heard that I may possibly cry while devouring this.

4. Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews Yes, I adore MKA. Her novels are such fun, easy, funny and entertaining reads! Again, as a Newlywed and finally over the stress and trauma of planning my own wedding, these wedding novels really appeal to me!

5. Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky I’ve never read a book by this author before but I found it in the “New In Fiction” section and the beachy vibe of the cover, title and description drew me in. Hey, this is the same way I discovered Mary Kay Andrews and Elin Hilderbrand so why not?! I’ll report back and let you know my feelings!

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I think it’s worth mentioning that while on our book buying binge my husband picked up the latest from Dan Brown, his favorite author. We totally epitomize the typical boy and typical chick readers and I’m totally cool with that. I will tell you though, this man is quite the book worm and I love that about him. Aside from the Dan Brown novels, my husband reads a lot of educational and non-fictions, and a few documentary-in-book-form reads. I have a tendency to raid his “library” during the fall, winter and spring months when I’m doing my grey-matter-expanding reading. ;)

I hope you enjoyed this list and if you have any favorite books or must reads please, please, PLEASE comment below!!! I’ve been blowing through books this summer and recommendations are ALWAYS welcome!

xoxox

26th Birthday Reflections

This week, Wednesday June 25th to be exact, was my 26th Birthday! Or as I like to say, 21st….point five….my 21st birthday, you know, again. For the fifth time.

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It was actually a wonderful day. I’ve always had this superstitious belief that whatever your actual birthday was like was sort of a premonition of the year to come. Very similar to the superstition I believe about Halloween where whatever costume you dress up in, the traits of that character/person/thing are the ones you’ll subconsciously manifest within yourself in the following year (which is exactly why I was a tiger this Halloween, I needed a FIERCE year where I went out and took what I wanted). Do you think I’m crazy yet?

Anyway, this was a great day full of love, family, bright sunshine and warm summer heat. I felt loved, I felt beautiful, I felt happy. 

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And I got birthday lovin’ from this lil dude, so…win.

I also realized a couple of things…

Every year on my birthday I like to set a goal, or rather an intention for myself of what the predominant focus of the year will be. I started this on my 20th birthday. As I headed into a new decade I decided that I would set some sort of intention that would benefit both my physical and mental health, my relationships and my happiness/wellness. Something I could focus on each year, even if it was just a small something that I could build upon each following year and carry into the next decade.

On my 20th birthday my intention focused on my fitness. I promised myself I would make fitness a priority so that I could build the foundation of a fit, muscular, developed and healthy body that I could maintain into my 30s. I set a goal to run my first half marathon shortly after my 20th birthday and decided I would set a fitness goal every year to keep myself on track. I’ve stuck with it and have since run four half marathons, one Tough Mudder and competed in two (and one first place in both!) international fitness competitions. My intention for my 22nd birthday focused on appreciating travel and opening myself up to and learning about new cultures. My 23rd birthday focused on my relationship with Dan and narrowing in on my passions and finding things that truly made me happy. I narrowed in on my favorite hobby, working out, and competed in my first fitness competition. My 24th birthday focused on finishing school and planning a wedding.

 

My 25th birthday was the toughest. It was a transitional year in EVERY sense of the word and I am not great with transitions. My 25th birthday included the shift of an “early twenty-something” to a “late twenty-something”, the shift from single to married, the shift from student to wife/adult/resident of the real world. My 25th birthday was a LOT about learning how to stand on my own two feet, discovering who I was, owning it and defending it. That was actually incredibly challenging because at the time I honestly was not sure of who I was or what, exactly, it was that I wanted. However, it seemed like the sand in my hourglass was down to only a few tiny pebbles and everyone I knew was hovering over me shouting out multiple different directions and screaming at me to PICK ONE!

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That’s EXACTLY what this passed year has felt like. It’s been a rocky road of “establishing” myself. However, I wasn’t really sure WHAT I was establishing. It was as if I was building a house. Granted, I had a GREAT foundation. The only problem was that, somehow, that great foundation of mine got hit by a reeeealllyyyy bad hurricane, a hurricane SO bad that the foundation sort of shattered. I realized two things that may not make sense. First, my foundation wasn’t exactly as strong as I thought it was. Secondly, I was a lot stronger than I thought I was. My foundation had shattered, but it hadn’t completely crumbled. The pieces that were left were still fairly strong in their own right. Now it had become like a puzzle and it was up to me to figure out HOW the pieces went back together. Of course, everyone was telling me different ways to put it back to together but at the end of the day it was my house and I was the one who had to live in it. So, I lived in that shattered foundation for a while and felt it out. I needed to find the pieces that I really loved. I realized that it didn’t matter what anyone else said, it didn’t matter how it looked to others…all that mattered was that I used the pieces that I was truly and unconditionally passionate about. No matter how strong they were, no matter what pieces I used, if I didn’t build that house with love and passion it would never stay together.

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This may sound abstract. It kind of is. It also didn’t make sense until I put it all together and I didn’t really realize I was doing it until it happened. I realized that my 26th year is the year of my career.

I spent years upon years upon years working towards what I thought was a career. For some reason, I never really believed that a career was a choice. My whole life it seemed like everyone who worked just worked. They scrambled to get there in the morning, they spent the day there, they complained about it, they were happy to be home, they referred to “the real world” as some empty black hole that was ominously approaching, so “enjoy your youth while you can!”. It seemed like a “career”=a sad, empty cubicle, time spent around people you don’t even like and an overarching sense of dull misery, not enough to make you outright depressed but enough dim the lights.

That’s life?

So I went to school. Sometimes I loved it, sometimes I hated it. Every single day I asked myself, if I do this all day, will I be happy? Most often the answer to that question was another question…I honestly don’t know. In college I chose two majors-Philosophy and Psychology, because those were the two subjects I enjoyed reading about and learning about the most. They were the classes in which I didn’t dread going to class and writing papers for. At the time I chose my major I also started a new job at a gym as a personal trainer. I did my school work and for fun I spent countless hours reading books about workout progressions, body building and nutrition. In between my classes I’d run to the gym for a quick workout or run and return to class in sweat soaked clothes, wet haired and red faced. More often than not I found myself sitting in class wishing I could be at work at the gym instead. The gym was my happy place. I couldn’t wait to get there.

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Nevertheless, come my senior year of college I filled out the applications for graduate school. I went on to earn my masters degree in Applied Psychology. At first the classes were challenging, as was adjusting to a new setting. Quickly though, they became boring and repetitive. Once again I found my release at the gym. I ran a couple more half marathons, I competed in fitness shows, I identified myself more as a “fit girl” and a “trainer” than I did a “psych major” or “grad student”. Then I did my first internship in applied psychology where I spent the mornings before my intern hours crying in my car because I dreaded going in. While I was there I miserably counted down the hours. As soon as my hours were up I would race to the gym and work out. This was the year I immersed myself in the world of Spinning. I needed a community outside of the world of mental health. Spinning was my release. It got me through the day. I wasn’t just an intern, I wasn’t just a therapist in training, I was a Spinning Instructor, I helped people get fit and healthy.

What was supposed to be my  job, my career made me utterly miserable. I told myself I would always teach Spinning. It would be something I’d be able to do on the side, not even for the extra money but for the happiness it brought me. I would always have that to lean on while I simply got by at my miserable job.

Then I graduated from graduate school, got my masters degree, turned 25 and completely lost it. I wasn’t going to be happy. I wasn’t even going to be making that much money AND I’d be miserable! Where in God’s name was the silver lining? What was I doing? I couldn’t do it. I refused to look for a job. I needed time. I couldn’t sit at a desk. Everyone who worked at the agency I interned at seemed miserable. Unhappy. Stagnant. That couldn’t be my future. That couldn’t be me. I picked up some more private training clients that summer. Training made me happy. I didn’t care where it was, I didn’t care what time I did it, I loved it. I started working at a gym again, a different one, training and teaching group fitness. Then we got married and I started working at a cycling studio. Work didn’t feel like work! However, that was because it wasn’t work. It wasn’t full time, it didn’t offer me any room for growth, I was bouncing around between multiple places and had no “home”. I was happy, but still anxious. In the back of my head I knew it was fleeting. This wasn’t a career. 

I kept at it though. I loved it. I was actually pretty good at it too. While teaching classes I found myself connecting to people and actually, really helping them in the ways I always wanted to but never could during my internship. I was helping people find goals, work towards them and reach them. I was seeing progress, I was seeing HAPPINESS. Why did this have to just be a hobby?

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I tried to stay positive, or delusional as my husband thought. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that if I really loved this, if this truly was my passion, then if I just kept at it I would eventually get there. Although, I wasn’t quite sure where “there” was.

For whatever reason though, I’ve found it. I’ve been doing it for seven years. All this time it has been right under my nose. I spent so much time listening to others and doing whatever I thought I was “supposed” to do. What about what I want? I want to connect with others. I want to be a part of a community where I’m inspired and motivated by others and they’re inspired and motivated by me. I want to help people be the best version of themselves and I want a career that I l0ve; one that never feels like work.

The career that I want is the career I’ve had all along. It’s the one I’ve always written off as just a “job”. Maybe because of the influence of others. Maybe I listened to the outside voices more than my heart. I only shifted my focus completely on to fitness recently and already I’ve made incredible progress. I’m doing something I never thought I’d be doing, in a place I NEVER thought I’d be. I do believe that if you truly love something and work at it, it will find you.

26 is the year that I’ve found that focus, that purpose. This is the year that I narrow in on it and work at it. Finally, I feel like I have a direction to work towards and I’m diving in, swimming forward and never looking back.

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I almost bought this Dream Catcher as a birthday gift for myself…I may go back and get it this week just as a reminder to continue to chase my dreams.

 

Cheers to 26 years!

xoxo

 

PS…I did set a physical intention for this year too….to WALK more. ;)

Whole Wheat Morning Glory Muffins

First off, can we define Morning Glory Muffins? Because…I kind of just pulled this name out of my you-know-what for a lack of better things to call these muffins.

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Because what they really are is a big ‘ol miss mash of stuff I really friggin like in my muffins. As tempting as it was to call these “Stuff Lindsay likes in her Muffins, but All Together in One Muffin with a Slight Case of ADD”, I decided to just stick with Morning Glory…despite the fact that these kind of really aren’t Morning Glories at all. Kind of?

I do believe a Morning Glory muffin is kind of like a carrot cake/bran muffin situation? All I know is that it has fruits and nuts and THIS muffin also has fruits and nuts! AND coconut! And CORN MEAL!

What?

I just really like corn muffins. Like, they’re kind of a fav.

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So, basically, what you have here is a whole wheat corn muffin with mixed berries, raisins and walnuts, topped with coconut. Oh, they are also fairly low in sugar and fat and are basically completely customizable. As in, make base batter and throw in whatever your heart desires/whatever is lurking in your pantry/fridge/freezer/purse/etc.

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What, you don’t keep a stash of raisins your purse?

How about stop listening to me babble and go make yourself some MUFFINZZZZZ (in just ONE bowl!! I hate to cause you loads of dishes to do..).

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Whole Wheat Morning Glory Muffins

Loaded with healthy fats & energizing carbs, these muffins make an EXCELLENT pre-workout snack!! Try them toasted with a little drizzle of coconut oil!

Recipe inspired by THESE muffins.

Ingredients:

- 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour

- 1/2 Cup Cornmeal

- Scant 1/4 Stevia [ can substitute regular white sugar or coconut sugar ]

- 1/4 Brown Sugar [ NOT packed ]

- 2 teaspoons baking powder

- VERY scant 1/3 cup Grapeseed Oil or Coconut Oil [ I get mine from Trader Joe's at a great bargain price! ]

- 1 Egg

- 3/4 Chopped Walnuts

- 1 Cup Mixed Berries [ I used the frozen mixed berries from Trader Joes, I mixed them in while still frozen and they baked fine! ]

- 1/2 Raisins [ I used a mix of regular and golden, for color, and the fact that I adore golden raisins ]

- 1/2 Cup Skim Milk [ can substitute almond or coconut milk ]

- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

- 2 TBSP dehydrated coconut flakes

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray a regular sized muffin pan with Coconut Oil cooking spray, set aside. In a large bowl mix flour, corn meal, sugars and baking powder. Stir with a whisk until fully incorporated. Pour in oil (if using coconut oil, make sure it is melted), milk, vanilla and egg and mix with a spatula until combined but not over mixed. Stir in nuts, berries and raisins. I kept my berries whole but feel free to break them up too!

Scoop batter evenly into muffin pan and top with a heavy sprinkle of coconut. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

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Enjoy!! xox

 

Get Fit Like Fido!

You know how all of these “holidays” seem to pop up on a regular basis? Like, National Margarita Day and such? Well, I’ve always been amused by this but I recently found out about one of the coolest ones, National Pet Appreciation Week. Now THERE is a national holiday I can certainly get behind! Growing up with pets my entire life I believe every week should be an appreciation week for them but the fact that there is a legitimate week dedicated to our furry lil’ friends who enrich our lives so incredibly is pretty darn rad!

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In honor of National Pet Appreciation Week (which was last month, but I’m all for celebrating and appreciating our pets every day of the year!) I’ve teamed up with the lovely people at DogVacay.com to share a fun and invigorating workout inspired by our favorite active animals! If you are a dog owner who leads a busy life (like most of us do!) you should definitely check out DogVacay.com. It’s a fantastic online community where you can interact with other dog owners and meet others in your area and find out the best options for your lil four legged buddies for things like Doggy Daycare and even pet boarding!! It is such a wonderful resource for pet owners who love to travel. When I was growing up we always had pets (three dogs at once, multiple cats, a brief stint with bunnies..you name it!) but we were also a family that loved to travel. Finding boarding for our pets was quite the challenge because as any pet owner knows, you never leave your animal at a strange kennel that you know nothing about! Having a resource like DogVacay is incredible because by connecting with others and networking through the site you can find the best place for your pets to stay. I wish this was available years ago!

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What the awesome people at DogVacay have done is teamed up with fitness expert Julia Chan to develop this great workout program called Get Fit Like Fido. This is so cool! It utilizes movements inspired by your dog’s movements to create this heart pounding circuit workout that can be done practically anywhere! Bonus points if you complete it WITH your four-legged workout buddy!

As a trainer I know that pup-inspired movements are not a farfetched thing. One of my personal favorite warm up moves on leg day is called The Fire Hydrant. It’s a great move for the core and glutes inspired by a dog doing…well, you get the visual, right? Next time you go to work out give The Fire Hydrant a try, go for 15-20 reps on each leg. Tell me you don’t feel the burn and it is a great way to warm up the hips before a killer leg workout.

Now, let’s get to it, here is the “PAWsome” circuit workout, Get Fit Like Fido:

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What I love about this workout is that it’s one you can do literally anywhere. It’s a great image to save to your phone to rely on when you’re in a workout rut. The other thing I love is that it incorporates circuit training which is one of my favorite ways to train!

I especially like doing circuits for lower body because there are so many different plyometric options to incorporate which gets my heart rate up immediately. I love incorporating things like jump squats, kettle bell swings and jumping switch lunges in between supersets. Another way I get my heart rate up is by incorporating sprints. Sometimes I’ll do a superset (two different exercises back to back for 3-4 sets), then head to the treadmill and do 4-5 30 second sprints with a 2 minute recovery light jog in between. Then, I’ll go on to my next superset. I’ll typically do 4-5 supersets with 3-4 sprint intervals in between. That way I’m able to get my weights and cardio in all at once. It’s a quick yet intense workout that never fails to leave me completely drenched in sweat!

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One last thing worth mentioning about this image is the incorporation of a cool down! I see a lot of quickie workout images all over Pinterest and Instagram but I’ve never seen one that actually incorporates a cool down! The cool down is an essential part of any workout. When I teach my cycling classes I always devote my last song (a full 4-5 minutes!) to the cool down which brings the heart rate back down in a deliberate, controlled manner and eases you out of the intensity of the workout. When I’m weight training I cool down with a brief, easy paced walk on the treadmill for 5-10 minutes and some stretching/foam rolling.

I hope you (and your pup!) give this great workout a try and if you do let me know how it went!! :)

 

xoxo

 

Exploring NYC – UWS Sweets

Growing up in Westchester, a suburban county outside of New York City, my mother made sure to take advantage of our close proximity to the city with frequent day and weekend trips. She made sure that my sister and I were exposed to just about everything the city had to offer from from museums to trips to the giant FAO Shwartz to Broadway musicals to shopping (literally EVERYWHERE) and a plethora of restaurants. We probably spent more time visiting Manhattan than we did in our own home town, I even took art classes at the Met while I was in middle school. 

As an adult I’ve continued to spend quite a bit of time in the city including attending graduate school there. Although I spent a lot of time there in my adult years something was just different than when I went down there as a kid and I could never quite put my finger on what the difference was. Until yesterday. 

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The past few years I have only really gone into the city when I’ve had an obligation to be there whether it was a dinner reservation with Dan or friends, a casting/photoshoot or class. I would head down for whatever that purpose was and then I’d be out-in my car or back on a train high tailed up to Westchester. Yesterday it just hit me that when I went down there with my family while growing up there wasn’t always an obligation. Of course sometimes there were the dinner reservations/show tickets/etc. but even then, my mom would purposely head down way earlier than said obligation and/or stay way later. Why? Simply to walk around. I mean, when we went to the city we did a lot of walking. LOT. Sometimes my mom had an agenda like taking us to a new store or seeing a certain museum exhibit but somehow she always crammed in all this extra….exploring. We walked everywhere. We would wander into cute little shops and boutiques, eat lunch at a random cafe because a specific style of decor caught my mother’s eye. We stopped into literally every coffee shop we passed. That’s what I missed….that random exploration. In such an overly congested city with an abundance of shops/restaurants/etc. there is an abundance of exploration to do and it literally never gets old, there will always be a surprise and something new. 

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Yesterday I made my way down to the city for a specific obligation. I had a photoshoot in the afternoon for a new studio I’ll be working at. I took the train from my apartment to Grand Central and then a subway to the shoot’s location. The location was in the Upper West Side, a few blocks from the subway stop. As I was walking there I wasn’t thinking of anything in particular and somehow found myself in this complete deja-vu where I was transported back to my childhood, wandering the UWS with my family, eventually, possibly heading towards The Museum of Natural History. My mom was ogling over every single building, stoop and detail of architecture. My sister and I were climbing people’s fences and darting across the side walks. It was incredibly bizarre but calming at the same time. 

In all honesty, I’m not the biggest fan of NYC so it was definitely out of character for me to feel such warmth, attachment and rootedness, even, to a city I’ve never really felt natural in. If that makes sense. It doesn’t really make sense to me either, but that’s what happened.

Regardless, I went on to my obligation and had a great time at the shoot. When it was over I was starving so I sat on a bench by the park to eat a snack I had brought with me (egg whites, a kiwi and a handful of almonds). It was still early in the afternoon (a little after 2) and I had no where to be so I figured since I’ll be working down here anyway I might as well take a long walk to a subway stop further away to start familiarizing myself with the streets. I winded my way through the blocks heading downtown, simply following whichever one looked the most interesting to me…probably the same way my mother guided us years ago. As I was walking down Amsterdam I saw The Treat House, a little shop that I had seen on Amanda’s blog before. I had to stop in. 

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As soon as I saw the shop I remembered Amanda’s post about touring NYC and stopping at all these cute little dessert places. I decided that I wanted to walk around and pretend to be a tourist in my own backyard. I remembered a couple other spots she mentioned that were in the same area so I figured I’d keep walking until I found them.

It was incredibly hard to choose specific flavors at The Treat House. You could purchase them in singles, 4 packs or 8 packs. Since I knew I’d be hitting up some other places I decided to go with the 4 pack so I could get 2 flavors for me and 2 for Dan. I got the Cookies & Cream and Original for Dan (he always likes things “as is” so no outrageous flavors for him). He liked the treats but declared a legit home made version infinitely better. To him, these were too sweet. Yeah, I know….the eff does that even mean? And why is it a problem??

I selected the Birthday Cake and Reese’s Peanut Butter for myself. I was between the S’mores and Reese’s but the girl behind the counter told me the Reese’s was the better choice….smart chick. 

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I have to say, I was disappointed by the Birthday Cake treat. The “birthday cake” flavor really wasn’t strong at all. I’m not sure if there was any extra flavor in it…I’m pretty sure it was a standard rice krispie treat with rainbow sprinkles. Also, I thought that blue topping was actual frosting….so imagine my disappoint when I bit into blue marshmallow. It was just plain marshmallow. No birthday flavor and definitely not frosting, like, not even a marshmallow frosting. Just marshmallow. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it kind of is when you’re expecting frosting. I’ve made Bday Cake treats before and I dumped about half a bag of yellow cake mix into my butter/marshmallow mix then stirred in rice krispies and topped with rainbow sprinkles. That tasted exactly like cake mix and that’s what I was expecting here. It was a great treat, just not the flavor I was expecting. However, it’s worth mentioning that what it lacked in flavor it definitely did make up for with appearance, I mean, that little fucker is adorbs. 

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Please note the finger indentation in the chocolate topping of this treat. Before I even snapped the photo I had to try the frosting to make sure my heart wouldn’t shatter a second time with a hit of colored marshmallow. I was absolutely delighted to find that it was dense, fudgey chocolate frosting and NOT plain marshmallow! The Reese’s flavor 100% made up for the boring Birthday Cake. It was super peanut-buttery with crushed up pieces of Reese’s Pieces throughout. It was topped with a decadent fudge frosting and huge sugar sprinkles which actually yielded a surprising little crunch that I really enjoyed (these treats are super soft). Of course, half a Reese’s cup totally sealed the deal. So good. I’d go back just for that little square. And to try the S’mores. 

Oh, and I’m totally trying my hand at making a bunch of these flavors myself. We all know Rice Krispie Treats are my second favorite summer dessert….after S’mores. I would say after ice cream, but who am I kidding, that’s my favorite year round. 

About 8 or so blocks down from The Treat House I found Sugar and Plumm, another go to place per Amanda’s NYC recommendation

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Oh my gosh, I wanted to live inside this place! It’s an adorable little cafe with indoor and outdoor seating. When you first walk in there is a counter with a glass display of a rainbow colored assortment of pristine french macarons. To the right are some tables and a shelving area of beautifully sculpted chocolates. There were high heels, buildings, Oscar trophies, frogs and pretty much any shape/thing/object you can think of molded into chocolate. The perimeter of that display was a candy shop wall! Tons of different chocolates and gummies, like the old school fill-your-own-bag candy shops. I was dying to make an outrageous bag of gummies but gummies are my weakness and I knew if I got a bag, I’d certainly fill the whole thing up and certainly devour the entire thing before the sun even set. So, I quickly walked away. I did snag a creme brûlée cookie because Amanda’s photos and description of it made me feel like I simply needed it in my life. Dan and I split the cookie when I got home (our pre-dinner snack) and it was insanely delish. It was a bit cakey for me (I definitely prefer my cookies soft and chewy and basically just barely baked) but I didn’t mind because the gooey creme brûlée pudding-like center and oozy white chocolate chips very abundantly scattered throughout provided enough of that gooey texture for me to feel perfectly satisfied even for a cakey cookie. I would definitely go back there for brunch as I’ve heard they have a great one. Plus, perusing candy bins and decadent cookies post brunch sounds like the ideal Sunday to me. 

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After window shopping through the colorful world of Sugar & Plumm (I know…who window shops at a restaurant? Stop..) I made my way down a few more blocks to the next subway stop to high tail it back to 42nd street. The subway took me to Times Square and I decided to walk from there to Grand Central instead of taking the shuttle; it was a gorgeous day and I figured extra walking would justify all the desserts I was soon to consume (it totally did). I cut through Bryant Park and took a second to look around and appreciate the beauty of this city that I’ve certainly taken for granted.

Of course, I snapped a few pictures and sent them to my mom with the caption, “can you guess which part of the city I’m in?” She responded with my exact location without hesitation and proceeded to use the photo I’d sent her as her cover photo on Facebook. 

I got home just before dinner time and Dan and I enjoyed a bottle of wine along with my random exploration treats. I really can’t think of a better way to have spent a Tuesday.

 

xoxo

Red Velvet Rice Krispie Treats for MDW

For those of us who have been miserably waiting out this lingering winter that has far overstayed it’s welcome, Summer is finally here…almost. 

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The first official day of Summer may be June 21st, but we all know it really begins Memorial Day Weekend. It’s as if the gates open to the long lost world of sandy beaches, warm breezes, neon colors, the shortest shorts, highlighted hair, melty ice cream cones, outdoor dining and outfits consisting of all white everything. My favorite way to spend MDW is to start off the mornings early with an outdoor run in a pair of shorts, followed by a long day spent relaxing at the beach and ending at someone’s house for a delicious outdoor grilled meal complete with a smorgasbord of desserts and way more pink wine than anyone should consume in one sitting. 

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Not much beats a summer BBQ. Friends, family, dining outside under the stars, alcohol flowing, unstoppable laughter and great food all in the comfort of a warm, relaxing summer night.  Seriously, is there anything better?

Well, maybe these rice krispie treats. Because, red velvet. Oh, and because a close second to the combination of amazing things I just mentioned is the heavenly combination of rice krispie treats + cream cheese frosting. If you have never experienced the combination of these two things together, understand that you’ve been missing out on a vital form of bliss and make these NOW. 

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I hope everyone has some sort of BBQ or get together planned for this weekend and if you do you may want to offer to bring dessert so you can include these. Rice Kripsie Treats are literally the PERFECT dessert for summer cookouts (besides S’mores…obv) because no oven heat is necessary. Who wants to open up a 350 degree oven in the dead of summer? These treats are also great for MDW because they’re festively patriotic! Take it a step further and top them with blue sprinkles or a drizzle of blue icing! I promise you, if you bring these to a BBQ, cookout or any summer party you will be the absolute hit of the night! 

You can find the recipe for these Red Velvet Rice Krispie Treats here. Now, go forth and make this show stopping summer treat!!

 

Enjoy! xoxo