Life Lately – Fitness, Food and Fun

Well, well, well. Remember me?

Yeah, it’s been a while. I have noticed lately, though, that many of my Boston blogger friends have taken a bit of a step back– is there something in the water this time of year?

Anyway, every time I take one of these mini breaks from writing, eventually I realize that it was necessary, but now it’s also necessary to begin writing again. Was there anything big and exciting that has kept me away? Nope, just life (sorry to disappoint).

I’ve just been grooving along in life, riding the stress roller coaster at work (aren’t we all?), and taking my time away from work to do a couple things:

  1. Enjoy life with my husband and friends
  2. Be a lazy sloth

Take your guess on which I’ve been doing at any given moment, but it feels like my brain just needed a break from going going going.

So now I’m back and ready to go again! In this time away from the blog though, don’t worry, I’ve continued to eat some really delicious foods and have kept up with some killer workouts that I will keep you updated on as well. so for a glimpse into my radio silence, keep reading.

Food lately:

My food game lately has been STRONG. I’ve been going a little kale crazy and making massaged kale salads each week for lunches — I’ve been mixing up the add-ins, but have a few go-to’s that I have repeated a few times. Now that the weather is turning, though, it might be time for some hot cooked lunches, but I don’t see these salads going away for good any time soon. It is just SO easy to prepare and “massage” a bunch or two of kale at the beginning of the week, and add in my toppings as I go along. Unlike other greens, kale stands up over time even when already dressed, so it makes a great base to prep at the beginning of the week. Each morning I can just grab a salad and go — saving some serious time on those mornings that I just can’t get going!


A little mediterranean inspiration.. Kale, cucumber, tomatoes, feta, hummus and falafel 


A refreshing summer salad! Kale, bulgur, goat cheese, peaches, pecans 

I’ve also tried some great new snacks lately. My work day often leaves me stealing bites of food in between patients, (sometimes in between sentences), and I rarely have time to sit down and eat without interruption. Because of this, grab and go foods are essential for me during the week, so I’m always on the lookout for something new!


These Bricks bars are amazing. Will picked them up a couple of weeks ago, and I was very skeptical at first. I mean, a bar made of meat? What am I, an animal? I’ll tell you though, it was love at first bite, and it doesn’t hurt that this turkey one tastes like Thanksgiving dinner in a bar. Seem weird? Yeah, but don’t knock it til ya try it. And if you’re in need of some quality protein without turning to sugary bars full of soy, this is a great choice!


I’ve been wanting to try these 88 Acres bars for a while now, since they’re local to Boston. My favorite flavor out of these three was the Chocolate Sea Salt, but all of them were delicious! I highly recommend these if you see them in the bar section of your local grocery store or market.

Another thing we’ve been making a lot of? Acai bowls — I just can’t get enough. Although something tells me that I’ll be craving these a little less with the cold weather that has arrived!


My fave toppings for these are bananas, berries, granola, and of course peanut butter! 

Training Lately:

Training lately has been a huge mash up of whatever I feel like at the moment. I’ve been running a lot of hills, am back to running stadiums here and there, and have been getting myself on the spin bike at least once per week. I’ve also been in the weight room, although not as much as I would like, getting in about 2 full body lifts each week. My big lifts have definitely all gone down a little bit, but I’m trying to maintain strength right now instead of build it, due to my schedule. My schedule lately has looked a little bit like the following, with some changes depending on what else I have going on on any given day:

Sunday – Rest, Run or Hill Repeats

Monday – Spin workout (on my own, not a spin class) followed by upper body lift or full body lift (this is not a super heavy day)

Tuesday – Run bootcamp in the morning, possibly do the workout with the ladies

Wednesday -Stadiums or full body lift

Thursday – Bootcamp again, possibly do some of the workout with the ladies

Friday – Full body lift

Saturday – Off

Because I run bootcamp on Tuesday and Thursday, unless I do the workout with my ladies, these days could end up being additional days off. It’s all been a little bit all over the place, and as I said, I’m not able to get into the weight room as much as I would like to. With winter right around the corner though, I’m sure I’ll be in there more and outside less, so I’m sure things will be shifting again very very soon!

I’ve also had a few fun and totally random fitness days lately — an awesome day of stand up paddle boarding and a lovely hike in Maine a few weekends ago. Sometimes these types of fitness days are my favorite — just getting out of the gym, having fun and enjoying nature, all while getting a killer workout! Can’t beat it.


Hiking in central Maine on the Appalachian Trail 


Because when you’re SUPing…why not do a few pushups? 

Life in General Lately:

I really can’t complain, life is pretty great. When I’m not at work, Will and I have been going out to eat a lot, enjoying the beautiful weather lately, and just enjoying time together when we can since we’re both so busy right now. We also have a trip to California coming up for  a wedding, so that will be nice to get one more weekend of sunshine before New England really goes into hibernation mode!

I’m still running bootcamp, which I am so happy about and am feeling very lucky that I was able to extend this class into fall with some amazing ladies who have been working incredibly hard. Our last day of bootcamp until the spring will be October 15, and while I’m sad it will be ending, it’s been a great run for my first year. The hope is to start up again in May, so if you’re in the Boston area and are looking for an outdoor workout group, stay tuned for the return of Rondeau Group Fitness once Boston has thawed from what will hopefully be a fairly mild winter.  (fingers crossed!)

So that’s it for me. What have you all been up to lately? What are some new snacks you’ve tried lately? How did you enjoy the last few weekends of warm weather before the cold?

The Stress-Fitness Balance

We’ve all heard of work-life balance and how important it is to our overall sanity. Well, as you can tell by my lack of posting for the last two weeks, mine may have been off a little bit. Or, I guess more accurately, my attempt to keep my work life balance led to me staying away from the blog for a little bit (you know, to live my life).

But keeping a balance between our day jobs and our personal lives isn’t the only thing that matters, and it’s certainly not the only thing that can make our break our healthy living goals and fitness plans. Sometimes even the best laid plans go awry, and we find our selves just trying to get through a stressful couple of weeks, or a month.

For me, the end of August and beginning of September is a very busy time at work, and if you look back through my blog archives you’ll see that there are a couple of periods throughout the year such as this one that I typically blog a lot less because of this. In fact, I haven’t checked, but if you look back through my archives, you’ll probably see posts similar to this around this time each year. Oops!

But beyond work-life balance, as important as that is, when we are in busy or high stress times, we also have to take into account another type of balance: the stress-fitness balance.

For most people, once things get a little chaotic at home and/or at work, something has to give, right? We’re not all robots that can exist on a specific schedule of sleep, eat, gym, work, etc. when things in our life get a little crazy. And the one thing that usually gets thrown out the window? Fitness. Gym time can be scarce when work takes over with longer hours, and motivation can be hard to find when life is throwing curveballs at you from every direction.

On the one hand, we don’t want to overdo it with fitness during times like these, since exercise itself is a form of stress on your body. Yes, it’s generally a good stress, but when it’s compounded with a lot of “bad” stress and becomes a bit more than your body can handle, the scales may tip so that your body responds to exercise as yet another “bad stress” in your life, and that is exactly what we don’t want. That’s when we end up sore, cranky, lethargic and fatigued — and far less than motivated to keep moving.

On the other hand, however, getting away from your fitness routine entirely during times of high stress can backfire as well. Although exercise is a form of stress on your body, in the right doses and circumstances, it can be a great stress reliever. It can also just distract you from the chaos that is work/life/whatever, and bring you to your happy place for a moment. I also find that keeping exercise in my life keeps me structured and focused, as though when there’s a lot going on, at least I know that that giant hill is right outside my door. I can go run up and down it a few times, and all will be right with the world again. (right? RIGHT?)

So somewhere in the middle of those two options we find ourselves right in the middle. Right at the stress-fitness balance. The place where we can keep ourselves sane, but we’re not breaking ourselves down into puddles of sweat and tears (those two things do not go well together. Too much salt for one body to handle.)

So how do I keep my stress-fitness balance in check during overly busy times? Well, for starters, I do whatever the heck I want for my workouts, and whatever I have time for. 20 minute hill run session? Sure. 15 minutes with my KB and pull up bar? Awesome. 90 Minutes in the weight room to think about NOTHING ELSE for a while? Perfect. It’s all about what feels good for me on that day, and what will fit into my schedule without turning me into a stressed out, raging lunatic.

My work schedule has just reached the point where it will calm down for a little while, but for the past 2-3 weeks, I said goodbye to my structured, perfectly planned workout schedule. I did a whole lot of impromptu solo spin sessions, some full body lift days in the weight room (because planning out upper/lower splits was out of the question), and a  couple of hill run sessions when things had to be quick and close to home. The key to all of these workouts were that I didn’t push to make something fit into a day when it didn’t belong, I made sure to allow myself enough sleep, and I didn’t allow any room for feeling guilty about doing a little less than usual.

Because guilt, like exercise and work, just leads to more stress. And isn’t that what we’re trying to avoid?

One last big thing that deserves mentioning here is the importance of sleep, especially when it comes to stress management. There must be a component to your stress-fitness balance that allows for enough sleep, otherwise the balance is going to swing way too far into the stress end of the equation, and stay there. This might mean sleeping for an extra hour and skipping your workout after a particularly stressful day, or maybe even just sleeping for an extra 30 minutes and cutting that workout short. It may mean getting creative with your workout times so that you can catch some quality Zzz’s.

But whatever this means to you, it has to be a priority. If you’re not getting enough sleep (minus those of you who have babies at home, because that’s just the way of your world right now), you’re doing yourself a disservice, and you’re climbing a steep up-hill battle to reach your stress-fitness balance sweet spot.

Readers: How do you keep your stress-fitness balance in check during those crazy times in your life? How do you keep sleep as a priority?

High Intensity Bootcamp Workout

Hello, friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a workout for you, so that’s what we’re doing today. This is a killer workout that my bootcamp ladies completed as their “Summer Challenge” workout in the end of July. This coming Thursday, they will repeat the workout, in the hopes of improving their time from trial 1 until now.

What point are tough workouts if we’re not seeing progress, right?

And to celebrate that progress, the lucky RGF lady who improves her time by the largest margin will be winning a pretty amazing prize — the entire outfit below, courtesy of my friends over at New Balance!

This includes the “Shapely Shaper” sports bra (amazing), this fabulous NB Dry top and bottom, AND the crazy cute Fresh Foam trainers.

It’s all from the New Balance fall line, and might I say that I am OBSESSED with every piece here. The Fresh Foam trainers are so incredibly comfortable, and the color palette here couldn’t be better. I’m so happy for whoever wins and I hope they love this outfit as much as I do!

This is a workout that requires very little equipment, so it’s easy to do on your own or with a group. You do need a little bit of space — a field where you have 100 yards of running space will be fine. You can also substitute the exercises I have listed here to suit your needs better, so it really is something that anyone can do!

So go ahead, lace up those sneakers, and let’s give this a try!

RGF Summer Challenge

Equipment Needed

5 cones or place markers

Sandbags or kettlebells (as many participants as you have)

Relatively light resistance bands (as many participants as you have)

Relatively heavy resistance bands (as many participants as you have)

The Set Up

Set up the 6 cones in a straight line, with 20 yards in between each one. The first cone is the starting point. Place the lighter resistance bands at the 40 yard cone, the sand bags at the 60 yard cone, and the heavier resistance bands at the 80 yard cone.

Lets Get Started

Starting at the first cone, run 20 yards to the second cone. Complete 10 jump squats. Run to the next cone, completing 10 reps of bicep curls and tricep extensions with the band. Continue running cone by cone, completing 10 reps of each exercise. When you have completed 10 reps of Plank Up-Downs, run 100 yards back to the start. Take as little rest as possible and continue. Now run to each cone, completing 9 reps of each exercise. Continue in this fashion until you get to ZERO reps of each exercise, which means you will run straight to the 100 yard cone and back.

The Moves

Jump Squats – Self explanatory. Go down into a body weight squat, keeping your weight back on your heels. Jump up as high as you can, landing carefully and softly back down in your squat.

Bicep Curls and Tricep Extensions – We completed these with resistance bands, Bicep curls standing on band, and tricep extensions 1/2 kneeling on band, raising band above and behind head to an extended position.

Weighted Rear Lunge – We did these as a sandbag lunge. Holding the sandbag (or weight) in front of you, step one foot back into a lunge, rotating your torso to swing the weight over the leg that is forward. Return to standing and switch legs. This is one rep.

Sumo Squat w/band – Stand with feet in a wide stance, toes pointed out slightly. Standing on a resistance band, hold the band with both hands on the outside of your legs, as close to your ankles as possible. The closer you are to your ankles, and the tighter the band is, the more resistance you will get.

Plank Up-Downs – Start in a high plank position (on hands and toes). Bring one arm down to rest on your forearm, immediately followed by the other arm. Bring the first arm back to high – plank position followed by the other arm. Continue alternating between high and low plank position continuously, with a cycle of one up and down as one rep.

The Timing

This took my boot campers anywhere from 30 minutes to 35 minutes, and let me tell you, it is a TOUGH 30 minutes! Even if you are used to longer workouts, there is no need to supplement with anything at the end of this. My bootcamp ladies can attest to that!

If you try it out, enjoy, and let me know your time!

I want to give a HUGE thank you to New Balance for supplying the winner of my bootcamp challenge with such an amazing prize. Check out their website for more of their awesome fall line — I’m pretty sure I want every new piece they have! 

Why ‘Eat Less Move More’ Doesn’t Work

We’ve all heard it. You want to lose weight? It’s simple, just eat less and move more! If it sounds easy, that’s because the concept is a little bit too simple to be true.

Yes, for someone who eats calories in excess and leads a sedentary life, the ELMM mantra can be useful to guide them towards a more healthy life. It can even help them on the beginning of their journey to weight loss. In the beginning, going from 3500 calories consumed to 2500 calories consumed and adding in a daily walk is a perfect recipe for weight loss. But what happens when your muscles adapt to a daily 30 minute walk?

Eventually, this walk must get longer, include more hills, or otherwise progress. Our bodies are adaptive creatures, and the exact same “movement” every day will stop producing results at some point. The same can be said for calories. As you begin on your weight loss journey, a caloric deficit may be easy, but what happens when your caloric intake gets down to 1800? What happens when you stop losing weight at 1800, and now have to move down to 1500 calories per day? What happens when you’re moving more, but are now down to eating 1200 calories per day?


…but only at the beginning 

Eat Less Move More is not a finite solution, because our bodies don’t work that way. Metabolism can be a tricky creature, one which you do have a good amount of control over, believe it or not. And at a certain point, that ELMM way of life will actually become what hurts your metabolism and causes you to stop losing weight, usually once you get to that last 5, 10, 20 pounds that you want to lose.

First, let’s look at the “Eat Less” portion of this. At some point in time, women came to believe that the magical number for weight loss was 1200. Women of all ages believe that they need to eat no more than 1200 calories per day to lose weight. This is ridiculous for several reasons, not the least of which is that there is no magical number by which every woman on the planet can lose weight. What determines the number of calories you should be eating to lose weight? Your RMR, or resting metabolic rate, combined with your activity level.

And what determines your RMR? That would be your age, size, and activity level. Keeping that in mind, a 5’8″ muscular woman can eat a lot more calories (and still lose weight) than a 5’2″ sedentary woman with the same goal. It’s also worth mentioning that there is a point at which caloric intake (or lack thereof) can cause a decrease in RMR, as well as hormonal problems which make weight loss more difficult.

Now, imagine that you’ve been on the weight loss train for a while, or even that you’ve just started. You’re consuming 1200 calories per day, because some women’s magazine told you that’s what you need to do to lose weight.  So, will you lose weight? Heck yes, of course you will. You’ll also lose a significant amount of muscle mass, decrease your metabolism, and increase your levels of the dangerous stress hormone Cortisol.

What you’ll also do is without a doubt, set yourself up for failure. 1200 calories is not a sustainable amount of food for just about anyone, especially someone who is physically active (move more, right?). At some point, you’re going to reach a point where you can’t move more because you’re not consuming enough calories to support that movement. Then what? You can’t realistically and healthfully eat less than this, so how are you supposed to continue on your weight loss journey at this point? Eating less only works to a certain extent, for a finite amount of time.

So what do we need to focus on instead of eating less? Eating smarter. Consuming nutrient dense foods, avoiding an over abundance of “empty” calories, avoiding overly processed, artificial ingredients. These are the things that we need to be doing to become healthier — less is not always the answer.


See this? Eat healthy… not “less”

Now let’s pick apart this whole “Move More” aspect, although I do think that this is the more realistic part of the equation. As I mentioned before, our bodies adapt to the stresses we place on them, that’s just evolution. The first time you run a mile, your body is working hard to accomplish that mile. However, if you continue running one mile, three days per week for a month, that distance will become much easier for you. This is because your body has adapted, and has made running one mile much  more efficient. This means that you are expending less and less effort (calories) to cover the same distance as you were when you first started.

So while yes, I do believe that as a whole, we need to more, it’s again not the end-all-be-all of weight loss. There may come a certain point where you don’t necessarily need to move more, but you may need to move a little bit differently. If you’re a jogger, it may not be realistic for you to move “more” than the 3 miles per day that you’re already jogging, due to time constraints and other responsibilities.

(Wouldn’t it be nice if our only responsibility was staying fit?)

So if you don’t have time to do more, does that mean that you’re doomed to stay the same weight or size forever? Absolutely not. Maybe more isn’t the answer in this case, maybe you just need to be moving differently. Adding in some strength training, switching out a couple of those jogs for weight lifting sessions could make a world of difference. In that case, you’re not necessarily moving more, rather you’re just moving in a better way.

Your muscles and bones need to be challenged in order to stay strong, and to grow even stronger. Progressive weight training can help you to create these challenges without spending hours and hours per day on your fitness routine.

That being said, overall movement is very important, and is the reason why this is the part of the equation that I actually agree with. We should all be walking more, standing more, and just moving our bodies more. Park farther away, take the stairs, get off the train a couple of stops early — whatever it takes, just move your body on a regular basis.

So, what should we call this one? Move more efficiently? Move better?

When all is said and done, yes, Eat Less Move More will work for a very finite amount of time. But is it the ultimate answer to weight/fat loss and a healthier body? Not necessarily, depending on your situation.

I would be totally on board with changing it up just a little bit though — Eat Smarter, Move Better.

It might not flow as nicely as Eat Less, Move more, but you will get more out of it.

Rondeau Group Fitness – Extended into Fall!

I have exciting news — Rondeau Group Fitness will be extended into the fall!


I originally planned to run this group through the summer months only, but I have recently decided that we will keep going into the fall. At least through September and probably October, weather permitting! We may get a little chilly at some point, but all the more reason to warm up with some killer workouts, right?

I love, LOVE, teaching this group. There are some amazingly strong, talented, successful women who come to work out with me each week, and they bring it every time. I would like to take this opportunity to invite YOU to join us, if you’re in the Boston area!

We meet every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30 am in Franklin Park. Please click here for more details if you or a friend might be interested!

Here’s a little bit about what we do at RGF:

We smile

We work hard

We sweat

We encourage eachother

We welcome ALL levels of physical ability — just starting on your fitness journey? Great! Just ran a marathon? Wonderful! Somewhere in between? PERFECT!

(And we occasionally do burpees…Shhh.)

Things we don’t do at RGF:

Tear down our bodies or anyone else’s

Give up because we don’t think we can do something

Mountain Climbers (seriously, you won’t do them with me, I hate them).

And don’t forget that you get your very first class FREE. All I ask is if you enjoy it, tell your friends who may be interested too. The more the merrier, especially when it comes to Plank Chains (join us to find out what that is!)

*If you want a sneak peek into what we’ve been doing, sign up for the Rondeau Group Fitness Newsletter HERE!*

So if you’ve been feeling like it’s too late to start on your summer fitness plan (it’s not), or  you have a friend who has been putting off a fitness routine for one reason or another, this is the perfect time to join Rondeau Group Fitness. Finish out your summer and head into fall with the strength, power, and confidence you’ve been looking for. And join a fantastic          group of ladies as icing on the cake! (Men welcome too, of course!)

Please share this with anyone you think might be interested, and join us soon if you’re interested yourself! Drop ins are welcome, or sign up for specific classes here. See you soon!

Fitness Lately: New Balance NBGNO and Turnstyle Rave The Roof

It is August? Whaaaaaaaaaat? I know I sound like a broken record every year, but the summer seems go by quicker and quicker with each year that passes.

I think this year it had something to do with the unexpected move that took over a good portion of June and July, but oh well. Here we are!

There is so much going on in the fitness world right now, and it’s pretty awesome. There are group workouts popping up all over the place, pop-up studios, and some of my favorite studios opening new locations. It really is impossible to stay on top of it all, but the good news is that it gives people so many options, so many opportunities to find the right fitness fit for them!

Gone are the days when all we had to choose from were Planet Fitness and Gold’s Gym, now you can probably find anything you want that relates to fitness.

And along these lines, recently, I’ve been to some amazing workouts that I just have to tell you guys about. A couple of weeks ago, I went to yet another New Balance Girls Night Out (NBGNO) event. They are simply the best, and this was no exception — in fact, this was one of my favorites that I’ve been to!


With a couple of my favorite blog ladies, Athena and Sherri

This event was all about trying new things, and boy did that end up being true. Each NBGNO event has a 3.6 mile fun run around the city, as well as an alternate workout that changes each month. This month, the alternate workout was a Surfset workout with Stefanie Lograsso, and boy was it tough! Tougher than I expected, that’s for sure.


If you haven’t heard of it (I hadn’t), Surfset is a workout you do on actual surfboards that are basically attached to something like Bosu Balls, meaning that you are wobbling and stabilizing the entire time you are on that board. With all of the lunges, planks, push ups, and even jumps (!) that Stefanie had us doing, I was a sweaty mess by the end, but I had a blast.


The rest of that evening was just as fun as always, catching up with some real life friends, and some of my favorite Boston Blogger ladies. I love spending time with so many inspirational women at these events, as each one of them motivates me to work even harder in my own life and fitness endeavors.


The host of this particular NBGNO was Sherri from Fun Fit Flavor, who is always charming, funny, and down to earth. She did a wonderful job hosting and I can’t wait to see her at the next event! As the host, Sherri gave a brief talk to the crowd about what trying new things has meant to her. Her story was awesome, detailing a pretty bad injury that lead her to trying things other than running, and now because of that “set back”, she’s doing more fitness wise than ever before. Pretty inspiring, I’d say!


Sherri doing her hosting gig… I was OBSESSED with her outfit. How cute is this NB combo?? 

These events are always a blast, so I highly recommending trying one out if you haven’t in the past, or coming back if you’ve been away from the NBGNO scene for a while. I hope to see you at the next one!

Rave The Roof 

The other amazing workout that I attended, actually the night after NBGNO, was put on by my very favorite indoor cycling studio, although a spin bike was nowhere to be found! This was Rave The Roof, an outdoor, roof top bootcamp put on by the team at Turnstyle Cycle.

(I have to apologize for my lack of quality photos for this event… it just didn’t happen!)

Turnstyle just happens to have two of my very favorite instructors in Boston, Laura and Caroline. They are both incredibly energetic, strong, powerful women, and they know how to kick your booty in a workout while making you feel empowered at the same time! I honestly feel lucky to know them and to be able to train with them from time to time — they are both just amazing.


Caroline showing us some upcoming tricep work! 


Laura demonstrating at the legs station.

The workout was the kickoff to Turnstyle’s new studio at Ink Block, a trendy new area of the South End here in Boston. Lucky for me, this is much closer to work than their studio in Kendall Sq, so I’ll be able to hit up Laura’s and Caroline’s classes more often now! (#winning).

The theme for this bootcamp was neon, so the outfits were outrageous, and there were many tubes of neon body/face paint floating around the place.

The workout was a station-style bootcamp on the roof deck/pool deck, and I must say, the view was awesome as the sun set, it was so nice to be gazing at the pink clouds in between sets rather than a gym ceiling! The workout was high energy, and each of the Turnstyle instructors that were there put us through some grueling stations. I had so much fun, and as I said am SO excited for Turnstyle to open up the new indoor cycling in this location!


Check out this view for the workout.. can’t beat it! And that up there is a pool deck… yep, it’s a roof deck AND a pool deck workout. BOOM. 

For now, definitely check out their schedule to get your booty to one of these amazing roof deck bootcamp sessions — you won’t be disappointed, trust me.

Readers: What awesome workouts have you done lately? Have you noticed the insane amount of groups/studios that are opening up in the Boston area? Were you at either of these events with me?

**All NB pics in this post are courtesy of New Balance. <<< Click on the link to see the rest of the photos from the event!

Sweet and Savory Salad: Massaged Kale with Farro

I don’t know about you guys, but when the summer temps start creeping up into the 90s, the last thing I want for lunch is a hot meal.

I find myself turning to salads a lot more, and sometimes even just a snack plate. Just a couple of days ago for lunch I had 2 rice cakes with peanut butter, some sharp cheddar cheese, and some homemade pickles. Weird combo? Yes, but snack-lunch is the best lunch!

But when I’m feeling a little bit more civilized and don’t want a random collection of snacks to make up my meal, I do enjoy a good, hearty salad as a meal option, for lunch or dinner. This latest creation was a huge hit, and was inspired by a Saturday trip to the farmer’s market here in town.

I came home with a huge bundle of kale, with absolutely no plans what to do with it, so it was time to get creative. I ended up deciding to make a massaged kale salad, but I knew I wanted to include some delicious grains in there to make it a little bit heartier, so that it could be a full meal instead of just a side dish if we wanted.


The first question you may be asking yourself is “what the heck are you doing massaging your kale?” But trust me, it helps this coarse, bitter green turn into a softer, sweeter version of itself in just 5 minutes of massaging. All you have to do is drizzle a little bit of olive oil, a dash of salt, and some lemon juice to really bring out those sweet notes in the kale, and get your hands in there. Massage it like you love it, and it will love you back. ;)


After about 5 minutes, my kale was softer, brighter, and ready for the rest of the salad. And this is where you get introduced to my creation:

Sweet and Savory Kale and Farro Salad

Forgive me for the lack of stellar food pictures — I am not usually patient enough to wait for the right lighting, nor do I have any kind of know-how when it comes to food photography. So please let the recipe speak for itself, and give this a try!


1 bunch of kale

3 cups cooked farro (more on this below)

3/4 C chopped cashews

3/4 C dried cranberries

3/4 C crumbled feta

And for the Lemon Vinaigrette: (Adapted from this vinaigrette recipe)

1/4 C Apple Cider Vinegar

1/4 C Olive Oil

Juice from 1-1.5 lemons (start with one, add to taste)

1.5 tsp honey


With your kale already massaged (as described above with olive oil, salt, and lemon juice), place kale in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Prepare farro (I prepared about 1.5 C dry faro to produce the 3 C cooked grain). Add farro, cranberries, pecans, and feta to kale, stir to evenly distribute salad toppings. Mix together ingredients for vinaigrette, whisk or shake in a mason jar, and pour amount desired over salad. (I ended up using almost all of it because I made a massive salad). Serve immediately.


This dish is also great to make ahead if you are going to a potluck or preparing lunches for the week — many greens will not last once already dressed, but kale is hearty enough to stay structured for a few days in the fridge even with dressing already added. The flavors might have even been better the next day with this one — letting the farro soak up the other flavors made for a very tasty grain!


With this recipe, I ended up making a massive salad. It was enough to be had as a side dish (for 2) at two separate dinners, and lunch for 1 as well. And at one of those dinners, Will had seconds of the salad so it actually made 6+ servings! (I add the + because we had pretty large servings — can’t get enough kale, so with smaller serving sizes, it could feed a larger dinner party as a side no problem).


So now, why farro? 

You might be asking yourself why I decided to use farro, the reason is quite simple. I wanted to add something to this salad that would make it hearty enough to be a meal on it’s own, and farro is a wonderfully hearty, nutritious ancient grain.

Not only does it have a wonderfully nutty flavor and provide a satisfying chewiness, but it is also packed with protein, B vitamins, and zinc. There are several different ways to prepare this grain, and it all depends on what type you have bought (whole, pearled, or semi-pearled).

I won’t go into all of those here, but if you do give farro a try (and I recommend you do!), a quick Google search will help you out. I used the “whole” variety, but you could use any for this salad.

Readers: Do you tend to eat more salads in the warmer months? Have you ever tried massaging your kale? Do you enjoy cooking with farro or other ancient grains?