Beet, Yellow Tomato, and Feta Salad with Citrus Dressing

Beet, Yellow Tomato, and Feta Salad with Citrus Dressing

Happy Friday!

You know what I love about summer? All the fresh produce in the stores! So many types of fruit and veggies come out of hiding (or at least I just notice them) and I feel so creative on what I can do with them.

This was one of the “AHA!” moments where I was digging through my pantry and looking for anything to use up in my fridge. I kept seeing my yellow tomato on my counter all week and went back and forth in my head: 1.) why did I buy it and 2.) what I could do with it besides just put in a sandwich or salad.

I had seen a recipe somewhere about a citrus dressing and the minimal ingredients it called for and once I put two and two together, I knew I had to just go with it and see what happened!

BOOM! This salad was born!

I feel this is the perfect way to welcome summer. Nothing says summer like fresh produce tossed together in a light, refreshing dressing on a hot summer day. Who want’s to be standing over a stove or in a hot kitchen this time of year anyways? If you’re like me, want something quick, fresh, and healthy so you can get back outside! Another reason this salad is great. It’s travels well so it’s great for picnics and BBQs too.

I used reduced fat feta cheese to watch the calorie intake and jarred beets since they’re packed in a tangy vinaigrette that enhances the flavor of the salad. Use what you have though. This is an easy salad that would sure to please anyone no matter what you put in it!

This makes one serving, so double up if you’re bringing for a crowd.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp of reduced fat feta cheese
  • 1 small yellow/heirloom tomato
  • 1/2 c baby carrots, chopped
  • 1/4 c jarred beets (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 medium celery branches, chopped
  • 1/4 c chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Salt and Pepper

Method

  • Mix carrots, celery, tomato, beets, chickpeas, and feta together in a bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, combine olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper
  • Pour dressing over veggie mixture and toss together

Grab a fork and enjoy!

Your Turn:

What is your go-to summer side dish?

What are some healthy pantry staples you like to keep on hand?

What is your favorite thing you love about summer?

 

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Why I’m Tracking My Food via MyFitnessPal (Again)

Why I’m Tracking My Food via MyFitnessPal (Again)

*This post isn’t sponsored by either Weight Watchers or MyFitnessPal, I just want to share my experience with both programs! All opinions are my own.*

It’s time I make my way back to my Friday posts! 😉 Took last week off to enjoy Labor Day weekend at home and it was much needed. First weekend at home since May the night before heading to Costa Rica. A full THREE DAYS of being home never felt so good! And at a good opportunity too since we had crazy rain from Hermine, it was time to get outta dodge. I did get home safe despite the four hour drive!

As of the past couple weeks, I’ve hopped back on the bandwagon of logging my food. I used to think this was the most tedious task EVER. In fact, it was a pain in the ass to do this because it did take time and was “another thing to think about.” So yes, I get it.

Going backwards: I learned to initially log my food through Weight Watchers in high school. Yep, I was on Weight Watchers.

I wasn’t a chunk, but I was about ten pounds heavier then I needed to be. Being 5’2 and relatively small-framed, I gave it a shot. The most ironic thing was that I ran cross country so I exercised everyday, but that mentality of “I ran x amount of miles, I can eat that” happened way too often. Hence, my mom gently bringing up the fact that, “I would be happier being ten pounds lighter”–yep, mom’s words I still remember. It wasn’t like I was rolling on the floor, but I figured why not? My mom was also doing Weight Watchers so she said she could fill me in on how everything worked and we could do it together. I never saw myself as heavy or that “this is a problem and I need to lose weight” it was more of an opportunity to learn how to eat healthy and be aware of what I’m eating with a small weight-loss goal in mind. A little bit of tweaking of my diet and measuring my portions (a weakness I still work on daily) I saw the pounds come off. It took two months, but it was a VERY worthwhile two months of learning.

Today, I still use some of what I learned from WW from time to time! I love how it educates the person on eating healthy and being aware of how to enjoy little indulgences without saying NO. It is one few things out there that I agree with among all this weight loss program BS and what I recommend to my clients for those looking to lose weight. You can eat real food! Measuring and tracking keep you aware without sacrificing what you love. I’m not gonna rant about WW, but to get a better idea, check this out.

Anyways, back to the current topic.

It’s been since 2011 since I tracked my food via WW writing it all down. I jumped back on board after high school using MyFitnessPal. After a bit I got the hang of it, so I stopped until three weeks ago. After letting the fat kid in me have what she wants for the past month, I decided I needed to clean up my eating habits and got back into using MyFitnessPal.

I started logging in MFP and it has OPENED MY EYES to how I was eating. Not bad, but I needed improvement. As much as it was tedious to get back into logging my food, it is worth it. Now I enjoy seeing my numbers change throughout the day haha! and I feel more in control of my eating habits.

Below are my reasons WHY I chose to jump back into food logging:

1.) Keeps me aware of how I prioritize my macros (carbs, fats, proteins)

-Knowing I had x amount of calories throughout the day gives me have a better understanding of how to prioritize my meals while keeping me on track.

2.) Re-learning portion control

-I’ve always been good about measuring, but it can be a pain in the ass. I eye-ball certain things, but I seem to always over-estimate…go figure haha. Portioning out certain things helps me know what I can still enjoy without overdoing.

3.) Exercise ALWAYS counts–no matter how small

-We all know this, but no matter how small, it all adds up. Sometimes I kill it with a great speed workout and weights. Other times I wiped and just run a mile as fast as I can. I count those. One thing I have to be mindful of, is that although you get calories added back, it isn’t a free for all.

4.) Breakdown of micronutrients

-Not something I constantly monitor, but I do check occasionally. I love seeing the amount of fiber, sugar (the closest one I monitor), sodium, and various other vitamins and minerals change throughout the day. Best part is that MFP will remind you if you have met or exceeded your daily allowance.

5.) MyFitnessPal Blog is GREAT!

-MFP has come a long way since 2011. Now it acts as social media hub in a way with a “newsfeed” to see blog articles and “friend’s” accomplishments and exercise they’ve completed. Of course you can set your preferences to not have your diary, exercise, etc. be posted, but it is fun! I especially love some of the fitness articles they post regularly. Their recipes always look good (haven’t tried any yet) and their workouts are creative and are pretty basic to follow along. A great start for anyone looking to try a new recipe or exercise routine.

Even as personal trainer and as someone who loves fitness, we all are human and mess up. I enjoy indulgences as much as the next person but now I’m aware of WHAT and HOW MUCH I’m putting into my body. Learning as I go helps me share experiences and lessons  with clients, family, and friends in hopes someone can learn something!

YOUR TURN:

-Have you had a recent setback or comeback into fitness or healthy eating?

-Do you log food? Is it on MyFitnessPal or another app? OR do you write it down?

-What is your favorite indulgence or dessert?

What I’m Loving Lately: Trader Joe’s Cocoa Nibs & Three-Layer Hummus

What I’m Loving Lately: Trader Joe’s Cocoa Nibs & Three-Layer Hummus

*I’m not affiliated with Trader Joe’s and have not been sponsored for this post, I just love sharing my recent items with all of you!*

I’ve always loved shopping at Trader Joe’s! Or what I like to call TJ’s 😉 I love it there because of the wide variety and creative products they sell as well as the quality of their produce, meats, coffee, etc. Basically TJ’s knows what’s up. I actually like it better in some ways over Publix. Although Publix is great for quick, essential items, I feel most creative with my grocery list when I go to TJ’s. It’s like they promote being creative! Which I like. Don’t get me wrong, Publix has a place (namely their pub subs), but my go-to for big grocery trips will be at TJ’s.

We got our TJ’s here in Tampa a couple years ago and we have one in the Tampa area. Best part is that it’s not far from me either! However, if you have been to TJ’s then you know the parking is TERRIBLE but well worth it every time. Over time I’ve learned to accept it the distrastrous parking and go when it’s less busy during the morning or in the evenings. I found a pattern when I went into the TJ’s in Delray Beach (where I’m from) and in Portland, OR when I went for the first time and BOTH places also had small parking lots. Hmmm…anyways, they may not have the parking situation down at their locations, but they sure do have the food part down!

When I go into grocery shop, I keep in mind the grocery shopping rule: stick to the perimeter first. If you haven’t heard of this “rule” basically it means all the healthy, quality type foods (produce, meat, dairy, etc)  are around the outside and the “less quality”(processed snacks, bread, chips, soda, etc) for lack of better words because its all good in moderation 😛 is in the middle isles. I find this consistent in all grocery stores, and believe quality still exists in the middle to an extent. Nut butters, whole grains, canned beans, nuts, dried fruit, etc. are also there! You just have to pass the various types of cookie butter to get to them in some cases. *begins drooling*

So according to the topic of today’s post, I did have to pass through the middle isles a bit to explore a couple new items that I’m really excited to share! The first item being cocoa nibs. OMG. I love love love chocolate and when I saw these little morsals, I thought of a few things they would go SO well with beyond just keeping them as a sweet. If you haven’t seen them before, they kinda look like the nerds candy. They’re crunchy and delicious and satisfy that sweet crunch. Even without putting them in or on top of anything, I’ve poured some straight into my hand and throwing them into my mouth as is! Simply delicious.

When I’m not just eating out of the pouch, I’ve put them on top of plain yogurt mixed with peanut butter for a little indulgent snack, put some in trail mix for a salty sweet taste, or on a mug cake! (blog post still TBA on this one, can’t quite get it yet). The list goes on, but this is basically what I’ve enjoyed the most using them for! Putting them on oatmeal, baking with them, smoothie bowl toppings, ice cream, etc. A decent amount in a pouch too and not too expensive either. A good buy to make whatever you eat a little more indulgent without going overboard.

The other item is three-layer hummus. Now this wasn’t in the middle isle because of refrigeration (of course) but the idea of three flavors in ONE container got me. I really enjoy their beet hummus as well, but hummus can be flavored so many ways, I figured I’d give this one a go. IT WAS AMAZING! To be honest, I’m more of a traditional hummus fan. However, I love garlic flavored anything too. Garlic though was NOT a flavor of the three. From bottom to top: spicy, cilantro jalapeño, and traditional on top. No so much into spicy, but it was tolerable and something I did get used to! Cilantro Jalapeño also spicy, yet tangy, and somewhat savory at the same time. Lastly, traditional because it’s just my favorite and also a winner.

Perfect for dipping carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, celery, etc or dipping tortilla chips or veggie sticks are some of my favorite things to dip into! Using hummus as a spread in place of mayo or replacing the yolk in a hard-boiled egg are some of my favorite combinations. One of my favorite breakfast go-tos is to use hummus on toast with an egg on top! A feel-good easy breakfast idea.

So many variations for both items, each to pair with something different! Enjoy!

YOUR TURN:

-Do you have two new grocery items you’ve been loving?

-What are some items you’ve been pleasantly surprised with or have been ultimate disasters?

 

Roasted Broccoli & Red Onions With Garlic & Thyme

Roasted Broccoli & Red Onions With Garlic & Thyme

Hey Hey! It’s FriYAY and I’m excited to share with you this yummy weeknight vegetable side to use with basically anything all week long. So when I started to come up with my meal prep and veggie ideas last week, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. So I just walked around the produce section at Trader Joe’s until I found something remotely appealing to me. Sometimes that’s how I shop, FYI. Not all the time because I do go into the store with some kind of game plan, but I took the opportunity for the veggies to find me, so to speak, lol.

Broccoli spoke to me that day! It was also a good price, which helped. Then I remembered that I had a red onion I could put with it and saw the colors of the two of them together and knew that was it. I’m all about throwing whatever into a bowl and calling it a meal anyways, so I figured roasting could work the same way. I ended up roasting the two together with olive oil, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper and called it a day!

Best vegetable side in a while if you ask me! Super easy too since the oven did all the work for me. I just cut up the onion and broccoli then lined the baking sheet with foil and took care of the cleanup too. Ultimate WIN. The whole process took me about twenty minutes with prep and clean-up. If you ask me, THATS how you meal prep. Or as I like to call it, minimal meal-prep. 😉

Since this is pretty versatile, I found myself throwing this onto a salad or having as a side. You can also eat this warm or at room temperature. Anything goes with this if you ask me!

Roasted Broccoli & Red Onions with Garlic and Thyme

  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Sprinkle of thyme (fresh or dried)
  • Sprinkle of garlic powder (or fresh)
  • Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a cookie sheet with foil. Chop broccoli into pieces leaving it in bite size chunks. Cut red onion into chunks. Spread onto cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil over veggies and toss to combine. Shake thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and toss again. Put into oven for 15 minutes until broccoli and onions are slightly browned. Enjoy warm or at room temperature! (Note: coconut oil would be a good option too!)

JOIN THE CONVERSATION!

-What are your favorite summertime vegetables?

-What are your favorite toppings for a salad?

 

 

Get Your Greek On: Three Greek Inspired Snack Ideas

Get Your Greek On: Three Greek Inspired Snack Ideas

*Disclaimer: Thanks to affiliations with the Tampa Bay Bloggers and Louis Pappas, I was able to attend an intimate, complementary tasting of Greek food for this post and social media love. All opinions are my own.*

Hey All! Happy Forth of July weekend! To say I’m excited for this three day weekend is an understatement. I’m see a few friends from UT over for a BBQ in St. Pete and I’m pumped! I’m bring a patriotic fruit salad, think raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Someone has be bring a healthy side dish right? Leave that one to me hahah. I’m always the one to bring one of those. No shame! 😉

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Baklava & Rice Pudding

A few weeks ago, I was able to attend an intimate tasting with the Tampa Bay Bloggers at this cute Greek cafe in South Tampa called Louis Pappas Greek Cafe. It’s so cute inside and very authentic! They had a great spread for us to try too. I mean REALLY good. A few options from each off their menu. I planned on basically having dinner there since there was so much and it was all so good! They didn’t fail to disappoint.

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Cinnamon Sugar Pitas with Plain Greek Yogurt & Bread Pudding

I’m not so much of a huge Greek fan. I don’t crave it as much as I do pizza or Chipotle. Those two are my favorite cheat eats ;P but this place is definitely a good place to grab a quick, healthy bite for a mid-week break from the usual. Although everything about it was delicious, my favorite was the greek salad. I’m a sucker for a good salad, and THIS was amazing. It was all so evenly chopped with such good flavor. The cool part about this salad was that it had a scoop of potato salad at the bottom. Yeah. Potato salad. Who would have thought right?? I asked what that was all about and the owner said that was a staple for when they first started to make it filling. The potatoes add that extra filling component that was surprisingly good. YEAH. They offer it without as well, but the potato salad was what they called “traditional.”A family recipe they called it. I said I would eat that for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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Stuffed Grape Leaves & Spinach Pies

So, onward to the snackage. Namely the hummus with homemade pita, stuffed grape leaves, and delicious Baklava. I’ve come up with some inspired greek inspired snacks you can make in your own kitchen! No special ingredients needed. I went to Trader Joe’s or Publix and found them there. Enjoy these snacks at home and if you’re in the South Tampa area, be sure to check out Louis Pappas!

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Front Salad: Traditional Greek Salad with Potato Salad and Non-Traditional without Potato Salad
  1. Hummus with veggies and pita bread.
  2. Plain Greek yogurt with peanut butter or honey
  3. Chopped Greek Pasta Salad by dishingouthealth !
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Definitely making it back here in the near future!

 

Meal Prep: How You Can Fit It In & Not Be Overwhelmed

Meal Prep: How You Can Fit It In & Not Be Overwhelmed

Happy Friday! Meal prep seems to be a common thread everyone seems to be battling with at one point or another. It also can be intimidating AF because where do you start?? I’ve had a few thoughts, which have turned into excuses:

  1. I don’t meal prep AT ALL and I end up paying for my laziness by eating out and choosing less then healthy options
  2. I’m not sure what I’m in the mood to cook
  3. I’m not in the mood to prepare it
  4. There’s other things I’d rather be doing and meal-prepping isn’t one of them

Have you had these thoughts? I have, but have limited them and have changed them for the better. Once I meal-prep, I can officially consider myself set up for success. I spend less money, feel the need to not waste food, and having it prepared for me gives me ZERO excuses for eating healthy. Three killer reasons why I make these reasons alone the reason I *try* and do this every week.

On the other hand, life happens and this doesn’t always get done. And guess what? Does the world end that I didn’t meal prep? NO! Does that mean I’m not gonna be set up for success and therefore fail with my meal choices? NO! It just means I have free reign…both good and bad 😛

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Roasted sweet potato with salt, pepper, olive oil, and cinnamon; hard-boiled eggs

So the question is, how do you fit it in?

I start by figuring out what I’m in the mood for that week. Sometimes I know instantly what I want. Other times I look through my Meals on The Run cookbook from Runner’s World, use Instagram for inspiration (check out #bgbcommunity on Instagram–you’ll be drooling over your phone in no time HA!), or tbh–the grocery store itself, although I try not to do that too often. I find flavors or ingredients that interest me or I look at factors of a recipe like time and servings to decide.

For me, I prep on Sundays. It’s a slower day for me usually so I grocery shop then come back and whip up whatever I’m making so its fresh and ready to use. I like one-pot meals a lot or one-bowl type dishes like salad since they’re both something you heat up or assemble in as little as a half hour and it’s ready to eat! I don’t have time to stand in front of a stove and cook fresh every. single. night. and I’m sure you don’t (or want to) either. So why make it tougher then it should be? Meal prep for the week ahead and you’ll have a fresh, healthy meal at your finger tips!

There are weeks I don’t have time to make a full blown meal with all the fixings on a Sunday, or I simply just don’t want to. But instead of not doing nothing at all, I pick one or two items that are quick cooking so I have at least some kind of snack, vegetable, or carb ready to be thrown in to something during the week. Recently, I love cooking hard-boiled eggs, which take about fifteen minutes, and sweet potatoes which take about twenty. Both go at the same time and you don’t really need to watch either too closely! Between the two, both are done in about an hour or less. Seriously, NO EXCUSES! And even though it isn’t “meal prep” it’s more like “meal prep-prep” it’s still setting you up for success in one form or another right? Isn’t that the whole point??

Another thing that doesn’t always come with the actual prep, but something to keep in mind, is how much food you’re really getting out of the food you’re making. I cook for me, so I pick dishes that have about four servings in them. That number works for me because I get bored of eating it as the week goes on–for real though and once I get bored of it, I tend to waste it which doesn’t do my wallet any good. Any dishes six to eight servings, I tend to not look too closely at just because it feeds too many for just me! Looking at how many you’re cooking for and who you’re cooking for (hungry husbands, a family, someone who always traveling/on-the-go) is one factor I feel is most important when it comes to meal prep.

Now the type of person you’re feeding is another whole topic in itself since you want to please whoever you’re feeding too. Getting the kids, husband, whoever involved will make meal-prep an easier thing to tackle. If it just you, like it is just me, make whatever you want!! #perksoflivingalone

The funnest part of the whole meal-prep idea is the CLEAN UP! lol…just kidding. It’s my least favorite part of the whole thing to be real, but it’s gotta happen. You can make it easier by using foil or parchment paper to make clean-up easy too. Here’s a tip: DON’T use Parchment paper to broil hahaha. I made that mistake and I created a small fire in my kitchen one night making mini english muffin pizzas. All is good!! I put it out but instead of Parchment paper, use foil instead *face palm*–no flames to worry about with that. Anyways, clean-up is cut in half and makes the whole meal-prep process that much smoother.

Hoping this post leaves you feeling more inspired to try meal-prepping! Taking it step by step and not feeling intimidated is key. See it as a learning experience! Either you’ll enjoy learning to cook new things or you won’t…and in the latter case you know you at least made an attempt!

Good Luck and Happy Meal-Prepping!

YOUR TURN:

-What are you favorite go to snacks or dishes to meal-prep?

-What is one thing you want to work on or try with meal-prepping?

-Any fails with meal-prep or kitchen disasters? LOL

Kick Off Summer at the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival

Kick Off Summer at the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival

*Thanks to affiliations with the Tampa Bay Bloggers and Big City Events, I was able to attend the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival and fun run for free as well as give away two tickets in exchange for blog posts and social media love. All opinions are my own.*

Happy Post Memorial Day weekend! I was at the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival this weekend kicking off summer with a cold margarita in my hand. I mean it’s the drink of summer, how could you not?? It was hot as HELL here in Tampa Bay so it is definitely feeling like summer. It got hot and humid quickly, so the ice cold drink(s) and water hit the spot.

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I’m not always a big drinker, but this event also came with a run which was a fun way to kick off the festival plus a drink for participating so I couldn’t say no! A 2.5 mile run along the Tampa Riverwalk plus a complementary drink and medal that doubled as a bottle opener…totally joining in! However, it was pretty steamy at 11am when it started so there was a fair share of both runners and walkers. Everyone got a medal, cold water, snacks, plus a t-shirt, and drink. A fun way to get a workout in and earn your margarita. I got to meet up with a few other Tampa Bay Bloggers post race which was fun too. It’s always a fun time to catch up with other bloggers in real life then from screen to screen. 🙂

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Tampa Bay Bloggers killed the fun run!

After the run I cleaned up and my mom and I went back down later in the afternoon to enjoy our complementary drink and enjoy the festival. They had at least fifty types of margaritas to choose from each from a different brand, flavor, or frozen or unfrozen. I had the Tito’s classic margarita and my mom had the watermelon one. Both we’re awesome and oh so refreshing! The music was great too, all local bands throughout the day, including Blue’s Travelers from 9pm till close.

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I’m not even a huge fan of vodka, but the Tito-Rita was really good

When you weren’t enjoying the margaritas, you could take the water taxi on the Hillsborough River to bar hop down the Riverwalk and be able to re-enter the festival for a second (or third) round if you chose 😉 Even if you needed a break from the heat, the breeze from the ride felt refreshing. Although the water taxi wasn’t part of the admission to the festival, it was pretty cool seeing the other parts of Tampa via the river. My mom really enjoyed it and so did I!

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Aside from the tasty drinks, they had a great selection of food and had plenty of places to sit down and chill, either under an umbrella or on one of their outdoor couches! If you didn’t sit in one of their seats, you could have brought in one of your own and snagged a spot in front of the stage.

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Besides the hot weather, the event was definitely worth attending again. Music was good, people watching was great, and of course the margaritas were THE BOMB. A perfect way to kick off summer! Next time they’re in town, I’ll be there!

Four Favorite Pre-Workout Snacks

Four Favorite Pre-Workout Snacks

Hey All!! It’s almost half way through the week. YAY! I’ve been trying a few new ideas for my pre-workout snacks as well as adding my usual ones. Try these out to fuel your workouts for the week!

When picking healthy snacks, I typically pick something that has a good balance of carbs and healthy fat mixed with a little protein. Nothing heavy or anything that requires much prep because remember its a SNACK–something small to get you through without weighing you down. Let the weights take of that instead. 🙂 They’re filling, easy, and full of only the good stuff. If you can, prep these in advance so you have them all week long.

These snacks can all be swapped for something vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegetarian. I do like dairy and don’t have a nut allergy, which is what I typically used for these snacks. Feel free to use what you have in your pantry. No special grocery trips here. 🙂

Trail Mix

-I love this mix because you throw everything into a bowl and that’s IT. A salty-sweet crunch with healthy fats from the nuts, easy digestible carbs from dried fruit, and whole grains from the Cheerios. I like Trader Joe’s selection of nuts and dried fruit for this mix the best. When measuring each into a bowl or bag, I’d say less is more. If you over fill the bag, your portions get large fast! (if you’re doing single servings). I try and keep this is mind because of the nuts since the healthy fats are usually dense in good calories. This makes enough for one serving so it’s perfect for pre-portioning and having them ready through the week! Just remember to store them in a cool, dry place.

  • 1/4 cup Trader Joe’s mixed nuts lightly salted and roasted
  • 1/4 cup Trader Joe’s dried pitted cherries
  • 1/3 c Multigrain Cheerios
  • Handful of Semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional but completely worth it)

Celery & Peanut Butter with Pretzels

-For peanut butter, I buy whichever one is on sale so I don’t have a brand preference. I love to hate peanut because of the price (BOGO is my friend at Publix) and the calorie content *insert crying emoji face* such a tease because it is SO good! The pretzels are really good with it too. Its a great salty-sweet crunch that’s hard to beat!

Hard-boiled Egg on Toast with Gouda Cheese and Salt and Pepper

-I cook my eggs in advance so they’re the perfectly convenient way to get in protein. Sometimes I even have this for breakfast its so good and filling yet light. Gouda cheese is my favorite, no other reason. Bread-wise, I buy Rudi’s Multigrain Gluten Free bread. This would be good on an english muffin too.

Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt with Multigrain Cheerios, Honey, & Fresh Fruit

-I never used to like plain yogurt, in fact I rolled my eyes because it reminded me of sour cream. I didn’t actually starting liking it until I saw how much SUGAR was in my flavored yogurt. It was basically dessert for breakfast. So there went that idea. Now, I sweeten my plain yogurt myself with real flavors. 😉 Multigrain cheerios give it a crunch, honey adds a naturally sweet flavor (of which you don’t need much) and fresh fruit for added antioxidants, fiber, and color.

All The Coffee: Enhance Your Endurance & Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival

All The Coffee: Enhance Your Endurance & Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival

*Disclaimer: Thanks to the Tampa Bay Bloggers I was able to attend the Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival with a friend for free in exchange for social media love and this post. All opinions are my own.*

This past Saturday, I was able to attend the Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival! As soon as I got word on this opportunity, I knew I had sign up! I mean it’s COFFEE plus tastings and demos, art, live music, and food, you can’t go wrong! A portion of the proceeds went to Bay Area Foundation for the Arts (BAFA), a organization that helps students and teachers further their knowledge in fine and performing arts. I brought a friend and we both had a great time. Great tastings and brews. It was from 6-9pm, first thought: “YES! Coffee!” and second thought: “Late night coffee?…not gonna stop me though.” Took on the brews like a champ and didn’t have *much of a problem sleeping* 😉 worth it though!

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It was inside at the Noise Box, a local venue in Brandon, FL . They had a variety of local vendors such as pottery, art, books, home decor, etc. They had a corner with baked goods to pair nicely with your brew too! All good looking options of course because what else would you pair it with? At each corner of the venue they had four tastings. All unique with different flavors. I tend to like medium roasts, so my favorite was the Colombian.

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They featured a local company, Zeal Coffee Roasters. My first time having their coffee and their cold brew was AMAZING! I don’t always go for the cold brew since it is a little strong for me, but their ‘s was heavenly with a little cream that made me melt–PUNS… get it cold brew, melt…okay I’m done. SO GOOD!

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After having walked around, tried the tastings and had our drinks, we were ready to head out. Since it was a three hour event, the event really took us an hour and half to get through because it was on the smaller side. I heard that it sold out, which I wasn’t surprised about considering a great turnout! However, there was only one roaster, which I feel wasn’t enough. Adding a second or even a third roaster each offering something unique would make it good to compare to. Overall, I would attend this event again because it offered great coffee culture, something I really enjoy and appreciate. Coffee really is an art!

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If you haven’t already noticed, I LOVE coffee. Hence, me jumping at this opportunity to blog about my experience! Aside from the tastings, demos, and info sessions, coffee has other benefits besides the caffeine kick. Although they’re are many benefits to your brew (a load of antioxidants, lowers your chances of certain types of cancer, fights depression) this reason is my favorite: Enhances endurance and improves workout performance! <— Can I get an HELL YEAH??

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For particularly tough workouts either running or a strength day (like a HIIT workout), I grab a cup a couple hour before if I can. Having that boost of energy before your workout puts that energy kick to work! When you have as little as eight ounces, the caffeine travels into your bloodstream and surpresses neurotransmitters in the brain. Once kicked in, the caffeine takes over and masks the effort you’re putting into your run or workout. Result, you can push longer and harder. Read more about it here.Who needs pre-workouts right? Pair coffee with some easy digestible carbs and a little fat and you have the perfect pre-workout snack! My favorite is pretzels and peanut butter and an 8 oz cup of plain coffee with a little stevia. During my marathon, I made sure my GU contained some amount of caffeine and I saw a noticeable difference in that, just as I did when I tried the ones without caffeine. LOL. Wasn’t quite on my A game during those training runs.

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I’ve noticed an equal kick in a grande latte from Starbucks too, so amount is dependent on you. Make sure you have water along that coffee though! Coffee is a dehydrator so I tend to double fist my Camelback thermos with water and coffee in the mornings.

Make sure you attend the Tampa Bay Coffee & Art Festival the next time, enjoy your coffee, then workout afterwards and kill three birds with one stone (or cup) ! 😉

Enjoy!

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Two Favorite Ingredients Lately: Lentils & Sundried Tomatos

Two Favorite Ingredients Lately: Lentils & Sundried Tomatos

Hey Guys! I’ve been going through my pantry and taking some mental notes of recent ingredients I been into lately. Of course I have my staples I buy every week like yogurt, eggs, fresh veggies, meat, etc. but some of the meal prep I’ve been doing involved a couple new additions. For a while I wasn’t great about meal-prepping every week because I simply didn’t feel like it. Lately I was going through some blogs, namely The Blissful Balance, my girl Christina’s blog and Cooking Light for some inspiration for meal prep ideas, because we all need a little motivation to spark our interest right?! 😉

I’m a carnivore and really enjoy meat, but I wanted go on the lighter easier side and go meatless for a change. I also felt super lazy when it came to cooking meat and keeping an eye out as it cooks. Not feeling it. I saw how lentils are a meatless alternative and found a great one-pot dish for it. The dish lasted me the WHOLE DAMN week! All dinners Sunday  through Thursday and I didn’t get tired of it because it was THAT good! With wilted spinach and parmesean cheese (which can be opted out for dairy-free if vegan) on top, it was easy to reheat and enjoy (almost) every night of the week.

Aside from being an easy/convienent dish, lentils are great for you. They’re full of fiber, high in protein and iron, and have a meaty satisfying feeling to them. They’re also great with most things and can easily be used as a side among other ingredients. I can see how vegans and vegetarians really enjoy them. As delicious as they are too, they’re CHEAP! I mean really. Not a bad price for a 16 oz bag. I think $2-3. I don’t remember an exact number but I don’t recall cringing at the price. Filling up on a budget, that’s what I like to call it.

Another favorite has been sundried tomatos. They come jarred and if they’re an option, picking the ones in olive oil is your best bet. They’re full of flavor and go well in anything! I love them in salads or snacking on them among mozzarella cheese and crackers or bruschetta *drooling*. Going Italian and I’m not complaining, note: not one bit of me is Italian…lol! I was disappointed when I ran out when making my mini english muffin pizzas and realized I couldn’t use them. SO SAD. Thinking of having the tomatoes as a staple for last minute ideas since they have a decent shelf life as well. I love the flavor they have, that roasted and savory flavor! Packed with goodness, its an item that’s gotta be on your shelf. Aside from how great they are to have in your kitchen, tomatoes are a great source of antioxidants, are full of water keeping you satisfied, and is a fat free food, just to name a few!

If you’re thinking you wanna try these two ingredients, here is the lentil recipe I used from The Blissful Balance. Again, very filling and it went along way! I also included another recipe using lentils but in a greek style type salad that is ready to eat straight outta the fridge thanks to Cooking Light. Hope these two ingredients and recipes sparked your interest as they did mine. Enjoy!