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!

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

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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Hiking in central Maine on the Appalachian Trail 

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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?

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.

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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. 😉

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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!

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

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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!

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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).

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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?

West Coast Recap: Food and Fun in Portland, OR

….And I’m back!

If you follow along on Instagram, you got a few glimpses into our awesome trip to Portland and San Francisco, but now it’s (finally) time for a full recap!

We ate far too much delicious food and saw way too many great places for me to recap ALL of it, so consider this more of a highlight reel. And highlights they are — I swear, I’ve never eaten more than I did during the 9 days of this trip. Multi-course meals turned into the norm, and dessert was almost a constant. Good thing we were getting an average of 14 miles of walking per day! (Not kidding). All of that walking probably saved my waistline and my sanity, and I truly believe that walking is the best way to see a new city, no matter how much you’re eating.

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Stepping madness! No wonder my legs were tired by day 8! 

The City

If I had to describe Portland in 3 words, I would say Chill, Vintage, and Roses. I know, I know, strange choice of words, but they all fit. The vibe in Portland is so chill that I felt instantly relaxed and at home there. In fact, it was in such a stark contrast to the uppity nature of New England (a place I love, and have lived all my life), I couldn’t help but fall in love instantly.

Vintage, because it seems that everything new in Portland is actually old, and everything old is new again. There are vintage shops pretty much everywhere, many restaurants/bars have a  very vintage vibe, and the general aesthetic was that of days past. Again, this plays into the chill factor.

And now for the roses. Portland is the Rose City, something I never knew until visiting. There are gorgeous varieties of roses everywhere, in most front yards, in parks, even along the highway. They are everywhere, and they are beautiful! And not only were there roses everywhere, but there is so much beautiful vegetation as well. Most people’s front yards were overflowing with beautiful jungles of plants, vines, flowers, and greenery– I was having so much yard envy it wasn’t even funny.

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Bottom line is, I loved it and I felt at home in a place that combined my love of the city and also beautiful nature scenery all in one place. I don’t think there are many cities that can combine both so seamlessly!

The Food  

Now for what most of you are interested in, right? Food. Let me tell you — food was abundant in Portland, and all of it was delicious. We ate at a mix of different types of places in all different neighborhoods, trying to get a feel for as much of the city that we could. Ready for some of my favorites?

SweedeedeeThis was an amazing little breakfast/lunch spot on the Northeast side of the city. We actually walked 4 miles there for breakfast the first day — not a bad way to work up an appetite, huh? Everything on the menu looked delicious, so I ended up ordering a couple of what I thought would be smaller breakfast dishes. Boy was I wrong! I got the house-made yogurt and granola, along with a breakfast sandwich. Both were out of this world, but the breakfast sandwich was served on what was some of the best bread I’ve ever had — house made molasses bread. It had the slightest hint of sweet, but was so soft and pillowy it made the perfect base for an egg sandwich.

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Seriously, this breakfast was so good, at the end of the trip we got mad at ourselves that we didn’t go back there a second time! If you are in the Portland area, I HIGHLY recommend this for breakfast or lunch.

Donuts. We knew going into the trip that donuts were going to be a must in Portland. With the famous Voodoo Doughnuts as well as Blue Star Donuts in the city, we knew we had to hit up both. And they didn’t disappoint! Voodoo is definitely more about the experience and the weirdness/”wow”-factor of the donuts, while Blue Star is more about gourmet flavors and ingredients. At Voodoo, I had a “no-name”, which is smothered with chocolate, rice crispies, and peanut butter sauce. It was ridiculous, and also ridiculously filling. At Blue Star I ended up choosing the Coffee Coconut Cheesecake and Will had the Blueberry Bourbon Basil. Both were delicious, but I must say I preferred Will’s over mine, and I’d probably try something different next time!

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Doughnuts from Voodoo and Blue Star (description). Bottom left is Will and his Voodoo “doughnut” that was actually bigger than his head.. 

Le Pigeon. One of the best dinners we ate on the trip was at Le Pigeon. We sat up at the chef’s counter, which I love doing because I love watching everything that goes down in the kitchen. Anyway, the highlight of that meal was actually the pigeon breast starter that we ordered — I had never had pigeon before, and never intended to, but it was absolutely wonderful! Not too gamey, in fact to me it tasted more like filet mignon than poultry, which was a pleasant surprise. I also ordered lamb shoulder for my entree, and we finished with a decadent flourless chocolate cake for dessert. We left stuffed and happy that night for sure!

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Food Trucks. The food truck/cart scene in Portland is out of this world. Sure, in Boston the food truck world is growing, but it Portland it just seems to be a part of their culture. We happened upon so many little “villages” of food cards with open seating areas, they were just everywhere, and they all serve amazing food! It was often hard to choose between them, and we definitely made some good choices when we chose to hit up the food carts instead of traditional restaurants for a few meals. One of my favorites (and one of my favorite things we ate in Portland overall!) was Fried Egg I’m In Love. All I had was a breakfast sandwich, but it was a darn good breakfast sandwich, probably one of the best I’ve ever had.

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My FEIIL breakfast sandwich, and another food cart “village”, with some delicious Korean/Mexican fusion. 

Salt And Straw. I’m a bit of an ice cream fanatic, so whenever we travel we try to find the best ice cream in the city. We found it here, and we loved it so much we came back a second time before we left (and we were only there for 4 days, so that should tell you something)! Salt and Straw makes gourmet, unique ice cream flavors with local organic ingredients. If you go there, expect a line down the block, but don’t let that deter you because it is well worth the wait!

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Everything Else

As I’ve said a thousand times already, I fell in love with Portland instantly. We stayed on the southeast side of the city, in the Buckman neighborhood, and it was perfect. Wandering through our neighborhood and others, and venturing into downtown, I felt comfortable and at home everywhere we went.

Home to an amazing array of coffee roasters and breweries, Portland also had something to offer no matter what mood we were in. We made it to about 1297 coffee houses (give or take a few), two breweries, two cider houses, and the coolest little smoothie shack where I blended the smoothie using the pedal power of a bike. How cool is that?

The city was extremely walkable, in fact we only ended up taking public transportation once the entire time. The rest of the time we walked (and boy, did we walk!). It was an amazing city over all, and I would go back there in a heart beat. In fact, we both agreed that it is somewhere we could definitely move — it’s just that whole pesky moving clear across the country thing that would stop us.

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Samplers from Reverend Nats (If you like cider and you visit Portland…GO HERE!!!), Storm Breaker Brewery and Deschutes Brewery 

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A delicious meal at Pok Pok, an incredible and authentic  little Thai restaurant. 

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Probably the weirdest thing we ate on the trip. Sea Urchin Creme Brûlée at Bamboo Sushi. Dinner here was amazing… this dessert… not so much. Will loved it, but I couldn’t get past the first bite! 

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And the coffee… There was a LOT of coffee. 🙂 

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A few scenes from our hike to Multnomah Falls, and a little bit of the hiking trail beyond the falls, which was breathtakingly gorgeous. 

Readers: Have you ever been to Portland, OR? If you live in Portland or have been there, what are some of your favorite restaurants? And most importantly, Blue Star or Voodoo?

On Food: Letting Go Of Shouldn’t

This weekend was full of great times with friends, but it was also full of decadent foods. Will and I went out to dinner with friends on Friday night at Bondir, a lovely restaurant in Concord, MA. It was an amazing 4-course meal, including dessert. Granted, each of the plates/courses was quite small, but it was 4 courses nonetheless. The entire meal was absolutely delicious, full of rich flavors and interesting pairings, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t leave a morsel of food on any of my plates. It was a wonderful dinner, but with great conversation flowing and a few cocktails, I probably consumed more than I should have at one meal.

The following morning, I went out with some girlfriends to the Langham Hotel’s Chocolate Bar for a birthday brunch. Yes, you read that right — a Chocolate Bar. There was basically a whole room full of all of the chocolate and desserts that you can imagine. From truffles and cookies, to mousse and pastries, to crepes and a chocolate fountain — it was like a chocolate lover’s dream. And even for someone with an impressive sweet tooth like myself,  it was almost a little bit too much.

I ended up filling my plate with lots of yumminess (although the pictures I took didn’t come out great, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one), and took a few bites of each selection. Since there was so much to choose from, I really just had a little bit more of the things I loved, and passing on those that I didn’t love as much. Even with this strategy, I ended up eating more chocolate and sweets than one should eat before noon on a Saturday. Trust me, I paid for it in the “sugar shakes”, and it’s not something that I’d do regularly every weekend. But for a treat once per year or so? Chocolate me up.

As a “healthy blogger”, is this something I should have done? Should I have followed up a 4 course meal with a chocolate bar the next morning? Probably not. But would I do it again? Probably, with the right circumstances. As I mentioned above, this is not a typical weekend of eating for me; I would not do this on a regular basis, because honestly it didn’t leave me feeling great. But the experiences with friends made it worth it, and the way that life works means that I can’t always control timing when it comes to dinners out, birthday brunches, etc. Sometimes, schedules only match up so that we end up over-doing it for a few days.

What if after dinner on Friday night, I had called my friend and told her that I would no longer be going to her birthday brunch because I had had a big dinner the night before and I “shouldn’t” go to the chocolate buffet? No, we don’t always have to eat cake when it’s offered to us, but missing out on experiences with friends just because you “shouldn’t” do this or that seems pretty sad to me.

On the flip side, there are those times when we’re offered a treat that we know won’t make us feel great, or maybe we’re doing really well with healthier eating and don’t want to be de-railed by a mediocre cupcake. These are the times when “shouldn’t” tends to escape our mouths, but might that be doing us a disservice?  IMG_0018

If you’re constantly telling yourself that you shouldn’t have something, you’re putting an awful lot of negative connotations around certain foods. That tells your brain that the next time you do have a delicious cupcake or slice of birthday cake, that you’re breaking the rules and doing something bad. We’re conditioned to think that when one breaks the rules, punishments are necessary.

Congratulations, you’ve just entered yourself into a damaging negative feedback-loop with food, all because you told yourself you “shouldn’t eat that”.

So how can we go about changing this mindset? How can we avoid the negativity, the punishments, the self-berating for eating something that you “shouldn’t”? The answer, simplistically, is that it’s all about perspective.

If you are offered a treat that you don’t think will be amazing and worth every bite (because those are the ones that are worth splurging on, in my opinion), instead of the “S” word, try using a phrase that puts you in control, instead of letting some set of arbitrary rules control you.

“I choose not to”

Yes, giving yourself the control over what you do and do not eat will help you to believe that you are not allowing/disallowing foods because of rules, rather you are doing what is best for you. You are choosing to eat what makes you feel good, you are choosing to treat yourself to those things that you feel are truly worthy of your splurge. But more importantly, you’re choosing not to shame yourself out of eating certain foods, and you’re choosing not to shame yourself when you do indulge.

So let go of “shouldn’t”. Take it out of your food vocabulary, and take back control of what you choose to eat (or not). Your choices are up to you, what you put into your body and how you treat yourself are under your control and your control only. The only thing you shouldn’t do is shame yourself for the choices you make.

Good Eats In Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

I know that people love looking at pictures of food, and trust me, I ate plenty of food while on our trip to Mexico last month! I promised you guys a post with some of the delicious things we ate, so here we go.

As I mentioned before, breakfast and lunch was always at the resort. Since we were staying at an all inclusive resort, we wanted to make the most of what we payed for. We did travel off of the resort several times, but during the day we generally had our meals there. One of the things I thought about going into the trip was whether I would get sick of the food, eating at the same places over and over again. Thankfully, the answer was no! I’m a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast, so that was no problem. And the main restaurant that we chose for lunch each day had so many options that getting tired of them would have taken a long time!

Another thing a lot of people worry about when eating at a resort like this is going overboard. It definitely takes a certain awareness to know your own food limits and not stuff yourself silly when you have endless options available to you at every meal. If you are someone who has problems with portion sizes and self control at meal time, a specific game plan might be a good idea when going into a situation like this. I knew that I would want to keep most of my breakfast and lunch options lighter, especially because I didn’t want to lie around the beach all day with a belly full of heavy food. Most of my “vacation indulgences” happened around dinner, with the exception of the drinks from the swim up bar at the pool, of course 🙂

Breakfast and Lunch:

I’m not a huge hot-breakfast person, so the choices here were easy for me. I generally had a bowl with plain yogurt, fruit and granola, with some bacon on the side. I don’t eat bacon every day in real life, but bacon every day on vacation? Yes please.

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Lunch was often a plate with bunch of random things in some form of a salad, often with grilled veggies on the side as well. Chips and guac somehow ended up on my lunch plate a lot, and once I discovered the chicken fajita station, it was all over. Basically for lunch I ate a lot of jicama, a lot of grilled veggies and grilled pineapple, and a lot of tortillas and chicken.

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Those chicken fajitas… So good and the perfect light but delicious lunch!

Dinner – At The Resort: 

Our dinners at the resort were all delicious! There were several different types of restaurants — Mexican (of course), Italian, Japanese, Indonesian, French, etc. We started the first night with the Mexican restaurant — exhausted and delirious from our travels, this was a wonderful and relaxing dinner. I didn’t get many pictures at the resort restaurants, partially because lighting wasn’t great for photos, and partially because I was just trying to enjoy everything, not worry about photos of food.

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Waiting for our table at dinner the first night… The only picture I took at that meal!

We also ended up having great dinners at the Japanese and French restaurants — and believe it or not, the French was probably the best dinner we had at the resort! It also happens to be the one I got the most pictures of. The food was beautiful as well as delicious, and believe me when I say we ordered a true 5-course meal here.

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Mushroom mousse on a crostini, stuffed sea shells, french onion soup, and filet with potatoes. 

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And of course we finished this meal with a flaming dessert! (Baked Alaska)

Off The Resort – 

Even though we were staying at an all-inclusive resort, and could have truly had 100% of our vacation food and drink paid for, we wanted to go into town to have some authentic, local Mexican food. We went into Playa Del Carmen 3 separate times, always coming back stuffed and happy!

The first time we went into town, our food mission was tacos. When in Mexico, right? But we didn’t want some americanized tacos that we could get at home, we wanted some true, authentic Mexican tacos. We decided to go away from the super touristy area in order to really get an authentic food experience. We ended up at a little street-side place called El Fogon, and we knew we were at exactly the type of place we wanted when there was no English on the menu — or anywhere for that matter! I ended up getting a delicious Sangria, along with 2 chorizo and one pork taco.

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That’s the pork that was being roasted by the brick oven fire behind it– YUM! 

The great thing about tacos there is that they are not covered in all sorts of things to create different flavors, they really let the meat speak for itself. There were no extras needed — no lettuce, sour cream, etc. All I put on these was a little bit of extra salsa, and they were absolutely amazing.

A couple nights later, we went back into town with the goal of getting dinner at a small Venezuelan restaurant, Kaxapa Factory, for some Arepas (we both love arepas). We ended up making a pit stop before dinner at a small restaurant/bar called La Perla for a drink, but when we saw Roasted Grasshoppers on the menu, we couldn’t resist a “snack” before dinner.

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Mezcal… Mmmmmm 

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We ended ordering a bowl of the grasshoppers by themselves, which came served with cactus, and then a bowl of grasshoppers over guacamole with chips.

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I know, I know, the grasshoppers look pretty atrocious. And the first bite for me was pretty difficult to get over the mental aspect. But believe me when I say that first bite was amazing! They really are just a tangy, salty, crunchy snack — and mixed in with the guac they were even better. We ended up eating all of both bowls of grasshoppers, plus the complimentary bowl of chips and salsa that we got at the bar. Oops, so much for just a snack!

Honestly though, the grasshoppers were so good we even ended going back a second night to get more of them! We also ate a full dinner there on the second night, which was just as delicious. Unfortunately, I didn’t get photos of our meal the second night because it was just too dark in there. It did include more grasshoppers, stuffed chiles, squash blossoms, and some other new-to-us foods!

We did finally end up making it to the Venezuelan restaurant after we left Perla and the grasshoppers on the first night. The food here was great too, although by that point, we were too full to enjoy it as much as we should have. We still wanted to try a few things, and the waitress and her father, who owned the place, were just delightful. It was so hard to say no when they kept trying to feed us more food! Hence the reason why we both ended up over-stuffed and uncomfortable that night, but for all that amazing food, I’d say it was worth it.

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Arepa con pollo and queso (chicken and cheese). If you’ve never tried Arepas before — put them on your list! 

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This was very good too and I wish I remember what it was called. It was basically a “sandwich” where the “bread” was made out of mashed plantains. We were so full, but had I been hungry I would have been all over this! 

Overall, the food in Playa del Carmen was wonderful. I was so happy that we got to try some authentic Mexican food off the resort, and I was also happy to be able to try some very new-to-me foods! One of my favorite things (besides the grasshoppers of course) was a little snack we bought while walking in town one day. It was called a Rollito, and was basically a very lightly sweet, airy dough formed into cylinder, and coated with cinnamon sugar or coconut. We chose coconut of course! This thing was so good — especially when eaten alongside some cappuccinos.

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Readers: What’s the best “strange” food you’ve eaten on vacation? Have you ever had roasted grasshoppers — do you think you could try them? Are you an adventurous eater when you are in a new culture, or do you stick to your favorites? 

A Mini Thanksgiving

This past weekend Will and I had some of my family down for a nice meal before Thanksgiving. For the past few years, Will and I have spend Thanksgiving day with his family, and then Christmas Day with my family. It is a trade off that has worked well for us, but I also want to make sure to get in some quality time with my mom and grandmother at Thanksgiving time! We didn’t do a full turkey dinner, in fact we didn’t do a turkey at all, but we just wanted to invite them down for a nice meal and a nice day together before the craziness of the holiday season goes into full swing. We wanted to make it a delicious meal, but still stay true to the types of ingredients and foods we enjoy in our daily lives.

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This was the biggest meal we’ve ever prepped together (not sure what that says about us), so planning and timing was a bit up in the air — we did end up serving about 45 minutes later than planned, but I guess that will help us learn for next time!

Our menu for the day was a perfect medley of fall flavors:

Roasted Chicken – This was delicious, a locally raised (giant) chicken that we bought a couple of weeks ago. We bought two at the time and did a test run last week — I must say, that this one turned out even better!

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Butternut Squash Soup – This is something that Will makes throughout the fall, but I think this was his best batch yet. He followed this recipe, and we actually “cooked” it in our Vitamix. That thing really is a miracle! The soup was delicious and extremely flavorful, it was a huge hit with my family.

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Green Beans with Caramalized Onions and Almonds — For this I followed Tyler Florence’s recipe, and it was my first time cooking green beans this way. If you’re looking for an alternative to the traditional (and very heavy) green bean casserole, this is absolutely wonderful! Also a huge hit with my family, we’ll definitely be making these again. Next time, I’d probably use yellow onions instead of red, and would make sure to slice them thinner.

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Mashed Potatoes — An old classic, nothing special about this dish. Boy were they good though! We used both white and red potatoes, and kept the skin on as usual. That’s the way that I grew up having them, and I really love the texture of the skins mashed into the flesh of the potatoes.

Cranberry Sauce — Will made this, and the great thing about this recipe is that it’s made with honey, not a ton of refined sugar. Yes, honey is still sugar, but we also use organic, pure honey so it makes me feel a little better about eating it. This was not your traditional super-sweet cranberry sauce, so if you like something a little more tart, this is a great option! We ended up adding in a little bit more honey at the end, and it was perfect.

Apple Crisp – I always follow the classic Betty Crocker recipe when I make this, and it has never failed me. I like to use a mixture of Honeycrisp and Granny Smith apples in crisp, which I did here (4 honey crisp and 2 granny smith). The recipe only calls for 4 apples total, but I decided to plump it up a little bit more! This was served with vanilla ice cream, of course!

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 Readers: What’s a unique item on your Thanksgiving Menu? Do you host or do you travel elsewhere? Happy Thanksgiving! For my non-US readers, I hope you have a wonderful weekend! I’ll be away with family and won’t be posting again until next week.

 

 

Life Lately

Life in General Lately

My brain is so scattered I don’t even know where to start! So I guess I’ll start with that. Anyway, the reason I’m so scattered is because…. I’m getting married in just a few days! Yes, by Saturday evening, I’ll be Mrs. Rondeau!! As you can see, I haven’t been posting very much for the past few weeks, mostly because I’ve been so consumed with doing last minute wedding stuff that I haven’t even had time to think about the blog. I haven’t been reading or writing lately, but I think it’s fair to say that my focus has been elsewhere. Our wedding is very DIY, which is fun but has also been keeping me extremely busy! I don’t know about any other DIY brides out there, but it seems like every project that I think will take no time at all ends up taking me several hours. Cue spending the last few days having to finish things up that I thought I would be done with weeks ago!

Not only have I been working on wedding crafts, but I also had my bridal shower and bachelorette all within the last month. My shower was at my mom’s house, and it was such a lovely day with so many great people, I seriously couldn’t have been happier. My bridesmaids did so much to put it all together, and I am so, so thankful to have all of them in my life!

Shower1One of the adorable projects that my bridesmaids put together! 

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Because when in Maine, you’ve gotta pose on a tractor, right? Bridesmaids and good friends 🙂 

My bachelorette was a weekend in Newport, which was seriously one of the most fun weekends ever. I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say that I have never laughed so much, eaten so much, and danced so much in one weekend. Oh, and there were a few cocktails had too 😉 We had the best time, and I was so sad when it was over! Again, a huge Thank You to my amazing bridesmaids who planned such a perfect weekend. I love all of those girls so much, and am so excited to keep celebrating with them next weekend!

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Seriously, can you beat this view for cocktails? 

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Some Newport strolling on Saturday afternoon 🙂 

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One of my fave pics from the weekend. Best Bach weekend ever!! 

This week will be spent finishing up all of my crafty things, manicure and pedicure appointments, and just finalizing things at the venue. Everyone keeps asking me if I’m nervous or anxious for the big day, and the truth is, I’m not! I’m just super excited. Because I know that even if the day itself doesn’t go perfectly, at the end of the day we’ll be married, and that’s what really matters, right?

Ok, enough about the wedding, because that’s not what you read here for.

Training Lately:

I will admit – my training focus has changed a lot over the past 4-6 weeks. Being away from work (I have June and July off — how awesome is that?) means that I’m not in the gym every day (I work out at work). And to be honest, going into work just to work out makes me feel like I’m not having time off at all, so I have not been following my normal lifting schedule. I’ve been doing a lot more conditioning, stadium runs, actual runs, KB workouts, and park workouts. I’ve been in the weight room a little bit, but sparingly. At home, I’ve been doing a lot of body weight work with the rings and pull up bar, as well as some KB and sandbag strength workouts for lower body. Am I improving my deadlift PR? Nope, but I’m staying in great shape and I’ll get back to that in August when I get back into the weight room more regularly.

Another new addition to my training lately has been…

…wait for it…

…running!

New Balance approached me to run in the Falmouth Road Race down on Cape Cod in August. It’s a 7 mile race, and although I was very hesitant at first, I eventually decided that it’s a challenge that scares the crap out of me, but I think that means that it’s something that I can’t pass up. I’ve heard that the course is very hilly and tough, but also one of the most beautiful courses and a super fun race too, so why not challenge myself with something new? I’ve been running fairly regularly for the past month and have been feeling pretty good. I still can’t say that I love running, or that I’ll ever hit the runners high, but it has been a fun change of pace for the summer months. Plus, I think my regular stadium runs have helped to keep me in decent cardiovascular shape throughout the year, so I wasn’t starting at square one as far as running goes.

Run1My new NB kicks! I love them to death, plus, they make me faster. 😉 

Food Lately:

Food lately has been pretty similar to food always. I have cut back on alcohol besides my bachelorette weekend, and I’ve also been conscious of avoiding too many treats. As I said this weekend, I’m not trying to get “skinny” for the wedding (that’s just not me), I’m just trying to de-puff! During the summer months with the 4th of July and all of the awesome BBQs and get togethers, it can be tough to keep nutrition in check. My strategy is to never go into full-deprivation mode, because when you’re faced with so many options it can make you crazy to say no to absolutely everything. I choose treats that are absolutely worth it, enjoy a moderate amount of them, and enjoy every second of it. Besides that, I’ve just been trying to keep things fresh, enjoying lots of summer corn, fresh veggies from the farmers market, and even some new snacks (because snack time is my favorite time)! Here are just a few pics of some delicious eats lately..

Some great meals out..

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This is an amazing steak salad that I got while at Perform Better in Providence. Steak AND potatoes on a salad? Yes please! 

Some simple meals at home..

Food4Lettuce wraps for lunch have been the usual lately! With a Grillo’s Pickle on the side, of course! 

Some delicious new snacks…

Food1Um… These are like heaven in a bag. If you like coconut, and you like caramel, these are for you! I could snack on these all day long if I’m not careful. 

And some new hydration options!

Food3Maple water is seriously good. With just a very light hint of sweetness, I actually prefer it to coconut water! 

And that’s my life in a nutshell lately. Have your training patterns changed with the warmer weather? Have you tried any great new foods lately? Anyone else getting married this weekend? 🙂

I can’t promise I’ll post again before the wedding, so if not… I’ll see you next week as Mrs. Rondeau!