Starting the New Year right!

I love the week between Christmas and New Year’s when I get to relax with my hub and enjoy all the wonderful tasty treats we’ve been gifted by family & friends.

This year we received so many yummy gifts — bottles of red wine, Erik’s favorite Omaha Steaks, a tasty basket of goodies from Harry & David, and a unique gift from Zabar’s in New York, a Babka & Rugelach Crate. Even with the large crowd we had for Christmas, we’re still up to our eyeballs in treats — luckily much of this can be frozen and pulled out at a later date!

‘Tis December 31st and the night before January 1st. Uh-oh.

I’ll admit two things —

One: I don’t like resolutions, I prefer goals …

Two: Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had a few too many Hershey Kisses amongst other things (I’m looking at you snickerdoodles and gingerbread lattes).

It’s time to give my system a break, reset and recharge.

I’m no stranger to cleansing or as I prefer to call it clean eating (less scary, right?!). Cleansing is an excellent opportunity to slow down and focus on YOU for a moment! This is why I was beyond excited to receive my February copy of Whole Living featuring a clean eating 21 day action plan. This plan is fantastic as it includes a number of recipes to help keep you on track throughout the 21 days and … it begins January 2nd — no excuses. Can you say perfect timing or what!

The Cleanse

The No’s (I’m good at this word now, see puppy)

Just say NO to processed foods & beverages, sugar, dairy, gluten, caffeine and alcohol for 21 days. Stick with it! Crankiness may ensue but trust me within days you’ll be feeling better and will be glowing from the inside out!

Week 1: eat lots of fruits, veggies & plant-based fats (nuts, seeds, oils). For me this will mean green smoothies for breakfast and veg heavy salads for lunch and dinner. I’ll probably also treat myself to some of the delicious juice recipes included in the clean eating plan like this grapefruit, carrot & ginger juice — delicious!

Week 2: add back in seafood, beans & lentils.

Week 3: add back in gluten-free grains and eggs.

Some advice to keep you on track!

Stick to the perimeter of your market — everything you need for the next 21 days is right here.

H2O — drink it — lots of it! You’re going to be moving a whole bunch of toxins through your system and will want to flush them out quickly. Water will also keep you hydrated as you increase your fitness routine.

Recount & Reflect. Journal your food intake as well as set some fitness goals. Make reasonable goals like taking the stairs or drinking an extra glass of water. Jot down your ups and your downs throughout the 21 days. What was challenging? What surprised or excited you? Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up — just get back on track. Paper journaling is great or try a website like calorie count, an excellent and quite accurate online resource. Bonus — it’s free!

Tell everyone that is important to you that you’re cleansing! In fact, let everyone in on your secret — tell them why you’re glowing! Those around me have always been incredibly supportive in honoring my eating/exercise plan. Remember, these are the people who know how hard you’ve worked on your goals and want you to succeed. Rely on your biggest cheerleaders — I’ll bet many of them join in.

So … who wants to join me?

On that note, have a safe & enjoyable NYE!

I wish all of you the best for an amazingly fit & fabulous 2012!

Thank you for reading my little blog — it truly does mean the world to me. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Seasonal fun!

I love decorating my house for the holidays and this year is no exception. Each year on the day after Thanksgiving, I head to Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts to treat myself to some new decor as well as some new crafting items.

My friend Victoria, who writes the lifestyle blog vmac & cheese, hosted a gathering after Thanksgiving this year and I was inspired to recreate her beautiful DIY fluff lanterns she had displayed on the mantle at her home.

While the lanterns do take a little time to produce, they’re totally worth it and absolutely stunning. If you would like to recreate them for your home, you can check out Victoria’s instructions here.

I placed them on the piano and covered the cord with green garland and this red ball garland I picked up at Crate and Barrel Outlet. They look like big lit up snowballs — I love it!

Dr. O also needed a stocking so rather than buy a prefabricated one, I picked up a natural stocking from Target (puppy size of course) a red glitter pen from Paper-Source, and glue-gunned a star decal I had in my box of tricks. We’ll be able to fit a few treats from Santa and Mrs. Claus in there for the good boy!

Life is good!

Wow, I can’t believe Christmas is just a few days away!

You may be wondering what I’ve been up to since I finished the semester. Well … mostly this!

Meet Oliver — our newest family member. He’s a yellow lab that basically has an ON/OFF switch. In case you were wondering, he is OFF now.

Oliver (or Dr. O) is smart as a whip, adorable, cuddly, and growing like a weed! We absolutely love him and couldn’t have asked for a better boy. Even our cat Penelope is enjoying him (with conditions of course — she is a cat after all!) and I’m sure will grow to love him even more as time passes.

BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER!

Stay Tuned …

Due to finals week and a nasty cold catching me off guard at the worst possible moment — my blog is temporarily on hold!

Don’t fret!

I have some yummy recipes up my elf sleeve I’m excited to share with you before Christmas as well as some delightful decor tips that will knock your socks off! If you’re looking for something to soothe your winter chills, check out this delicious decaf caramel apple tea I’ve been enjoying from the Republic of Tea. It’ll keep your sweet cravings at bay and because it’s so wonderfully decadent, you’ll feel like you’re getting away with something all month long!

Stay warm and be well my blog friends!

The gift that keeps on giving

Looking for the quintessential gift this holiday season? Well, you’re in luck as I have the perfect idea!

How about a well-stocked pantry? Hands down, a pantry full of all the good stuff is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy diet and prepare delicious meals for you and your family all year long. While it may take a little legwork, my guess is many of you already have the bones to begin with and all you need is a little organization to build a fantastic pantry!

For those of you starting from scratch, take your time investing in quality ingredients such as spices (which add layers of fantastic flavor without the added fat) and pick up a few things here and there like nuts or condiments as they go on sale throughout the year.

Here is a list of what I like to keep in my pantry:

Pasta, Rice, Grains & Legumes
pasta (whole-wheat, stock many varieties like penne, rotini, spaghetti, etc.)
brown rice
quinoa
wheat berries
bulgur
whole wheat couscous
steel cut oatmeal
dried lentils

Canned Goods
whole & crushed tomatoes (I stock San Marzano – aim for no or low sodium)
tomato paste
chicken & veggie stock (choose no or very low sodium)
light coconut milk
cannellini beans, chickpeas, black beans, red kidney beans (no salt added)
tuna (oil & water packed)
salmon
sardines

The Spice Rack
allspice, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, chili powder, chinese five-spice, cinnamon (ground & sticks), coriander, crushed red pepper, cumin, curry powder, dry mustard, garam masala, garlic powder, ground ginger, herbs de provence, kosher salt, nutmeg, onion powder, oregano, smoked paprika, peppercorns, pumpkin pie spice, thyme, turmeric

Oils, Vinegars & Condiments
extra virgin olive oil
canola oil
vinegar (balsamic, red & white wine, apple cider & rice wine)
low-fat mayo
dijon mustard
ketchup
worsteshire sauce
cornichons
capers
kalamata olives
Asian ingredients: reduced sodium soy sauce, wasabi paste, pickled ginger, fish sauce, oyster sauce, chili-garlic paste, curry paste

Baking
granulated sugar
brown sugar
agave
powdered sugar
vanilla extract
honey
pure maple syrup
unsweetened cocoa powder
chocolate chips (semi-sweet & white)
rolled oats
AP flour
whole-wheat flour
pastry flour
baking soda
baking powder
cornstarch
cornmeal
plain dried breadcrumbs

Nuts, Seeds & Dried Fruits
walnuts
pecans
almonds
pine nuts
sesame seeds
peanut butter
almond butter
dried fruit (apricots, cranberries, prunes, golden raisins, figs)

Refrigerator
low-fat milk
low-fat plain greek yogurt
unsalted butter
Parmesan cheese
feta cheese
eggs
orange juice
dry white wine
Trader Joe’s steamed lentils
nutritional yeast

Freezer
frozen veggies: edamame, spinach, artichoke, broccoli
frozen berries
low-fat frozen yogurt
protein: chicken breast, whole chicken, ground turkey breast
Trader Joe’s pre-cooked brown rice

Staples (other)
celery, carrots, parsley, onions, shallots, lemons, limes, garlic

What are some of your pantry mainstays?

Give back this holiday season

Want to give back this Thanksgiving but not sure what to do or where to go?

Check out the following Bay Area Events!

CorePower Yoga in Berkeley will be hosting a 75 minute C3 donation based class — $10 is the suggested donation. This invigorating pre-turkey burn at 6:45 pm will be led in a round robin style by Carla, Lacy, and Natalie (check out Berkeley’s CPY website for instructor bios) with all proceeds benefiting the Homeless Action Center.

“HAC provides free public benefits advocacy to people who are homeless and mentally ill in Alameda County. In addition to helping clients obtain sustainable income and health insurance, HAC also works with community stakeholders to reduce the harms associated with a lack of housing and healthcare. Combining professionalism and compassion, HAC provides barrier-free legal assistance to the hardest to reach populations.”

Not only can you get a great workout in before the feast  begins, but, also give to a fantastic local community organization.

Yoga not your thing? That’s okay! Check out Glide in San Francisco for a few amazing opportunities to volunteer over the long holiday. Glide is one of the largest social service agencies in San Francisco and aims to provide nutritious meals to San Francisco’s underrepresented 364 days a year.

Interested in prep work? Glide could use your help then chopping, dicing, mixing and slicing as they prepare for their annual Thanksgiving feast. Wednesday 11/23 5pm-7pm.

How about serving meals? They could use your help there, too! On Thursday 11/24 Glide will serve almost 5,000 meals!

Here are the shifts available:

6am – 9am Breakfast
8:30am – 10am Dinner Service & Carving
9:30am – 11:30am Dinner Service & Carving
11am – 1pm Dinner Service & Carving
12:30pm – 3pm Dinner Service & Carving

Don’t forget about the day after the holiday — Glide is always in need of good volunteers! Breakfast resumes at 7am.

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.  ~Theodore Roosevelt

Have a safe & happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Healthy Holiday Tips!

I’ll admit it, I love all the rich dishes and cut out cookies the holidays bring. In fact, I love them so much that I have to remind myself not to sabotage all the hard work I do throughout the year. While the temptations might seem endless (I’m talking about you peppermint bark & pumpkin pie), I’m positive a balance can be struck. This year, I have a game plan in place so I can indulge without the added bulge!

Workout. I know, I know … However, I refuse to go to hell in a hand basket this year and spend my winter break fitting back into my skinnies. Yoga is my mainstay and I enjoy my weekly run club, but, it’s easy to “oversleep” on the holiday or punt due to day after coma. While I’m not advocating a massive workout session, use this opportunity to take a walk with a loved one and enjoy the fall foliage or join a local turkey trot like this one. Not only will you feel better for it, that pumpkin pie will taste all the more sweet!

Eat a healthy snack. I already know I am going to be tempted to pile on an extra spoonful of my mother-in-law Mia’s fantastic mashed potatoes that are reserved specifically for Thanksgiving. Chances are good I’ll make a few fruit kebabs like these (minus the mini brownie, though I LOVE that idea) to throw in the car for my husband and I to snack on before dinner. If you don’t want to snack before dinner, a few tall glasses of cool H2O should do the trick!

Bring a healthy dish. If you’re worried that Thanksgiving dinner may be a bit too rich for you with all that butter and cream, bring a healthy dish with a bit of decadence like this acorn squash. I like that the author includes a savory option as well as a sugar & spice version. Your host will appreciate the contribution to the dinner table and you can feel good knowing you contributed a healthy touch to the day.

Remember if you overindulge one or even two days, it’s okay. Don’t beat  yourself up and don’t use your overindulgence as an excuse to fall of the wagon for the rest of the holiday season. Just get back to your healthy eating habits the following day and move forward. Feel like you need a jump start? Try replacing one or two meals with a healthy green smoothie. They’re incredibly filling and super nutritious!

Let the festivities commence!

I love a good challenge!

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, Christmas on the horizon, and in between a family wedding, holiday parties, a birthday and finals, November and December are quickly filling up. Did I mention we’re getting a puppy?

I love this time of year for how wonderfully busy and exciting it can be. I get to reconnect with my family and friends, decorate the house and enjoy Christmas music that I wait all year patiently for and don’t officially bust out until after our family Thanksgiving meal is done.

What I failed to mention is fitting in my regularly scheduled workout. Fitness along with a healthful diet is often forgotten when we get busy with holiday preparations. Having a good fitness routine in place as we move into the holiday season is so vital not only for our mental well-being, but also for keeping our immune system strong during this time of year; as joyful as the holiday season ultimately is, sometimes stress can get the best of us.

That’s why I was so excited my yoga studio, CPY initiated a yoga challenge. Basically any yogi who averages 4 classes a week now through 12/14 will be entered into a raffle to win prizes. Who doesn’t love prizes?! Honestly, for me, it’s all about the neat sparkly star sticker I proudly get to add next to my name. Fun, right?! New folks get a free week of yoga, too. Check it out!

What are you doing to stay calm and healthy this holiday season?