Monthly Archives: March 2013

Dark Chocolate Drizzled Strawberry Cheesecake Graham Cracker Mini Pies

Happy Easter! Hope that everyone had a great weekend and holiday. Boy, do I have a fun dessert recipe to share with you all…

One of the best parts about California living for a foodie like myself is all of the local produce that’s available. As you may recall, living in San Diego I frequently talked abut weekend Little Italy farmers’ market trips. And now, living in a small town outside of San Jose, little farm stands are plentiful. I’m obviously loving it!

The idea of a dessert featuring strawberries first entered my mind upon spotting cartons of the fruit at a market last week. Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits, and I can almost never resist getting them.

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My original thought was to do parfait cups with a cream cheese dip, drizzled chocolate, and graham cracker crumbs, but then I came across these guys at the food store:

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Is it just me, or do mini sized things always get your attention too? I wouldn’t even glance at a normal sized graham cracker crust, but individual serving cups? Yes please!

And so last night, after a day spent unpacking, hiking, motorcycling riding, and stopping at a winery, creating mini strawberry dessert cups seemed like the perfect way to cap off a very nice Saturday.

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I even got fancy and paired the cups with glasses of champagne, courtesy of my friend Jackie who gave me a bottle of it as a San Diego parting gift (Thanks again love!).

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These babies are like perfectly proportioned slices of heaven. Dark chocolate, ripe strawberries, a sweet creamy filling, toasted slivered almonds for a bit of a crunch – what’s not to love? And if you can’t find mini graham cracker crusts, just modify the recipe to my original idea and sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over all the other ingredients in dessert cups.

Dark Chocolate Drizzled Strawberry Cheesecake Graham Cracker Mini Pies
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 4 mini graham cracker pie crusts
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 4 oz light cream cheese
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 3 TBSP powdered sugar
  • 2 TBSP dark chocolate chips
  • 2 TSP almond milk
  • 1 TBSP plus 1 TSP slivered almonds
Instructions
  1. Evenly distribute the strawberries into the pie crusts. Try to arrange the slices on the outsides of the crust, leaving a hollow hole in the center.
  2. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar until smooth. Dallop the cream cheese mixture evenly into the center of each crust (a bit over a TBSP into each).
  3. Lightly toast the slivered almonds, then sprinkle a TSP into each mini pie.
  4. In a small saucepan over medium low heat, combine the chocolate chips and almond milk. Continuously stir as the chocolate melts. Once smooth, remove from heat and drizzle over top each cup.
  5. Serve all on their own, or pair with a glass of wine, port, champagne or whatever tickles your fancy.
Notes
If you don't have mini graham cracker crusts, use graham cracker crumbs instead. Simply put all other ingredients in a parfait cup and sprinkle 1 TBSP of crumbs into each one.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 pie, Calories: 270, Fat: 14 g, Saturated fat: 6 g, Carbohydrates: 32 g, Sugar: 19 g, Fiber: 3 g, Protein: 4 g,

A Body in Motion

Staying active looks different to different people. For some, it’s that daily long walk with their dog. For others, it means regularly going to CrossFit, boxing, running, biking, weight lifting, and the list goes on and on. I think that as we go through different phases and stages of our lives, our fitness regimen sometimes changes. There’s nothing wrong with that friends, as long as we keep on moving.

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I find that I go through phases of being into different types of exercise. While last year I was at the gym almost everyday, lately I’ve hardly been there at all – even before I moved last weekend and actually had a gym that I could go to (must join a new one soon!). Instead, I’ve been more into outdoor workouts – mainly hiking, tennis and biking.  Those workouts have just felt more fun to me these days, and I’m fine with that as long as I’m sweating and getting some form of exercise in.

Today my hubby and I had a tennis session together. When we got to the court down the street, a man and his son were playing. Once they finished, the man asked if they could watch us play so his son could get a better idea of the game.

The view from the top of Kwaay Paay Summit in San Diego

View from the top of Kwaay Paay Summit in San Diego

I was slightly horrified at the idea of people watching me play tennis, since I mostly don’t even attempt to have the correct form (or even know what that entails for that matter!). My hubby and I don’t even keep score when we play! After a few minutes they left, and we joked about how quickly they disappeared once they saw our (lack of) skills. I think that the man wanted his son to learn the proper form and rules, and we’re not very good examples! So why do we play tennis together if we’re not very serious about it? Because it’s fun, it’s a workout, and we get to be outside and be together!

The point of me telling you this is to stress the importance of finding something active to do that you enjoy, whether you’re great at it or not. As long as you’re having fun and working up a sweat, who really cares? Most of the time, you get better the more you do it anyways. When I first started hiking, I thought my heart was going to explode during some strenuous hikes. But the more hiking I did, the easier a lot of it seemed. If you dread your workouts, chances are you won’t stick with it. On the flip side, if you actually look forward to exercising,  you’re more likely to make it a habit that you’ll keep – so find something (or in my case, a lot of things!) that you love to do, and go out and DO IT OFTEN!

I came across the below chart about the ways that regular exercise can enhance your life, and I think it’s a great way to showcase how working out isn’t just a thing we do to burn calories. Check it out:

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May you have a happy, active weekend! 

 

Plum Tomato & Goat Cheese Quiche

I love to experiment in the kitchen, but sometimes life gets just too hectic to spend a lot of time playing around creating meals. This was certainly the case the past couple of weeks with preparing to move, and now, getting all unpacked. When you’re not sure where your plates are or have to go digging through boxes to find a knife to work with, meals tend to be pretty simple.

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That’s why lately my dinners have included some quick, staple meals – including brown rice with veggie quesadillas, salad with pasta, and grilled cheese  & homemade sweet potato fries. I can’t wait to get all settled in so that I have the tools and energy to be more creative in the kitchen again. Just another day or two and I’ll be there!

Even when I don’t have a big life happening going on like a move, some days just get really busy and I need to whip up dinner easily and without much thought. That’s where my go-to meal ideas come in handy. While some of them aren’t quite as simple as a grilled cheese, they all require minimal prep work, and I know I can count of them to be tasty. This brings me to today’s recipe:

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This quiche takes about 10 minutes to prep, then you can get things done around the house, squeeze an at-home workout in, or perhaps relax with a glass of wine while it bakes in the oven. Quiches are also great as leftovers – whether it be for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Plum Tomato & Goat Cheese Quiche
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen deep dish pie crust
  • 5 plum tomatoes
  • 4 oz crumbled goat cheese
  • ½ TSP fresh basil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup [low-fat] milk
  • ¼ TSP salt
  • ¼ TSP pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Place the pie crust on a large baking sheet.
  3. Thinly slice the tomatoes, then arrange evenly around the bottom of the crust.
  4. Evenly sprinkle the goat cheese over the tomatoes.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the milk and eggs. Whisk to combine well, then pour into crust.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Bake until lightly browned, 35-45 minutes.
  8. Allow to slightly cool, then cut into 8 slices.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice, Calories: 170, Fat: 9 g, Saturated fat: 4 g, Carbohydrates: 15 g, Protein: 7 g

 

Moving on Up to the Bay Area

Hi friends, long time no talk. We have a lot to catch up on!

Life has been, shall we say, chaotic the past week… and I’m now officially a Bay Area resident! Between setting up the move, working, finding time to enjoy my last few days in San Diego and the friends I’ve made there, exercising, and packing,  I was going nonstop. I felt like there weren’t enough hours in the day!

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The view from our new town

One of the many things I had to prepare for during the move was driving up to Nor Cal with Harley. My dog is quite possibly the worst canine to be in a car with. She continuously whines a very high-pitched screech, insists on putting the window down with her paw (regardless of the temperature), and then when I lock it, freaks out until I put it down for her. She also likes to jump from the front to backseat about every 15 seconds, forcing me to close her leash in the backseat car door to prevent her from doing that, knocking into me, and causing an accident. Unfortunately, this results in her constantly getting tangled in her leash, which is always fun and results in yet more whining. Because of all of this, I decided to call my vet to get a prescription for a sedative. I felt kind of bad thinking that I was going to be drugging my dog, until we took her to Coronado Beach one of the last days we were in San Diego… and she was whining as if someone was slamming her paw in the car door the entire 20 minutes. I was reminded that it was either I knock my dog out a little or lose my sanity!

Here are some shots from our last beach trip in San Diego, at least for awhile:

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After packing Friday afternoon late into the night, waking up early and packing more, loading everything into the Uhaul in the afternoon, and cleaning my apartment, the last thing I wanted to do was drive up to the Bay Area on Saturday evening by myself with Harley. What would have been around a 7-hour drive took over 9 hours due to horrendous LA traffic. Luckily, the meds helped to calm my puppy in the car and keep her anxiety levels somewhat low. She did do some whining, but it wasn’t constant, and she alternated between that, looking out of the window quietly, sleeping, and putting her paws on the center console while pressing her face against mine (not sure what her deal is!). We had folded the front passenger seat up and put her bed in the back so she could stretch up, but she obviously laid like this the whole time instead:

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She’s so funny, I can’t help but love her!

We safely arrived into the San Jose area late on Saturday night, and since then, I’ve been busy getting settled into our new place. Instead of living in the middle of the city, we elected to get a place a bit more in the country that is WAY bigger than our place in San Diego. It’s so nice to have more space, and it’s something I really can appreciate after living in smaller apartments these last bunch of years.  A big garage is something very exciting to my hubby and me! We’ve also had the chance to start exploring the area a bit.

Yesterday Adam, Harley, and I found a nearby park to hike around, and it was pretty interesting. Between walking around deserted horse stalls, listening to Adam go back and forth with a random turkey hanging out at the park, and seeing not another soul during our entire 4 mile excursion, I turned to my dog and said, ”Harley, I don’t think we’re in San Diego anymore!” 😉 It’s certainly different than anywhere I’ve lived, and boy, is it beautiful here!

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Today after I worked through the morning and afternoon, Adam and I took a motorcycle ride around our area. I knew there were wineries near us, but I pretty much had my mind blown when we pulled up at Clos LaChance Winery,  a stunning winery not even THREE MILES AWAY! I was so excited to find out that they do a lot of live music events, allow you to picnic on the property while enjoying their wine, and have a wine club. Sign me up!! We each did a tasting, then drove around in the crisp evening checking out the wineries, farms and rolling hills of our new town. It’s a Tuesday evening, why not enjoy it right?!

I’m positive that we’ll be frequenting Clos LaChance often:

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How ridiculously gorgeous right!

In our new home, I’m particularly excited about a few things: my extra large closet, which I have already filled with what Adam refers to as an unbelievable amount of clothing (can’t say I disagree!); our spacious living room where I can do at-home workouts without moving all of the furniture around (score!); and my newer, nicer kitchen, where I am psyched to create recipes and whip up delicious meals in. With these couple of crazy weeks, I’m looking forward to getting back to more normalcy — including long regular workouts once I find a gym and time to cook. I’ve so missed blogging the past week, and it reminded me how much I love it. I’m looking forward to exploring the Bay Area and sharing my adventures with you!

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill La Jolla

Happy first day of spring!

As a vegetarian and healthy eater, I’m usually able to find a thing or two on the menu at a restaurant that seems to be both somewhat nutritious AND delicious. Fortunately, more & more I’m finding places that seem to be dedicated to including lots of menu items for health conscious diners. One restaurant in my area that’s doing this is Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza & Grill. The restaurant has numerous locations throughout California and Nevada. I was recently invited me to come try out some of their new healthy dishes at their location in La Jolla. With website taglines including: Eat Well. Feel Good.; We Like it Fresh; and Serving Healthy Global Cuisine, I knew it was a place I could get behind.

Last night, Adam and I headed to Sammy’s for a health blogger dinner. We chatted with a couple of cool bloggers, and had a great time trying out their yummy grub. I started off with a glass of Sicilian Pinot Noir:

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Immediately the food started coming out. First we tried hummus with lettuce cups, which was a nice, light app. I make hummus often and typically eat it with pita chips or carrots, but I like the idea of hummus lettuce cups. For someone like myself who enjoys ordering a little something to nosh on before my main entree but doesn’t want to add an extra 800 calories to my meal, this type of plate is perfect.

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 Two salads were served at dinner, both of which I loved. One was a chilled roasted vegetable salad, which included spinach, fresh mozzarella, edamame, artichoke, yellow tomato, red bell pepper, red onion, basil, lemon, balsamic vinegar and EVOO:

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The other salad was a red quinoa dish, and included golden beets, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, wild arugula, parsley, almonds, mint, scallions and citrus chili vinaigrette:

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Next up were the pizzas, both of which were veggie, but one I couldn’t eat because it had eggplant on it (silly food allergy!). The nice thing about their pizzas is that they offer nonfat cheese and gluten-free and whole wheat crusts. One of the pies, which included spinach, mushrooms, garlic, and red onion, was served with nonfat mozzarella and a gluten-free crust. Personally, I like my pizzas with a thicker, gluten-filled crust, but for anyone with a gluten sensitivity or who just likes to stay away from it, this is a nice option for you.

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The other pizza had grilled eggplant, red onion, zucchini, red bell pepper, tomato, garlic, and smoked provolone on a whole wheat crust:

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For all of you healthy meat eaters out there, here are the non-veggie menu items offered at the dinner:

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My meat eating other half really liked the pasta with bolognese sauce. Mental note: Try making brown rice pasta sometime soon!

For dessert, we tried their orange blossom honey & sheep’s milk cheese pizza. As much of a cheese fan as I am, I typically don’t go for it for dessert. However, I do have to say that the combination of the sweet honey, mild, creamy cheese, and flaky crust made for a flavorful dish.

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A big thank you to Sammy’s for having me as a dinner guest last night!

Irish Soda Bread & Sauteed Rosemary Potatoes

Happy Monday! It’s crazy how fast the weekend – our last one living in San Diego – flew by. I had planned on getting a lot of packing done, and while I did make some progress, have tons to do this week for our move up to northern California. I wanted to enjoy my last weekend here, so things like the beach, hiking, and meeting up with my parents’ friends who are in town took up a lot of my time. But I had a lot of fun this weekend, and think it was worth the tradeoff for my probable hours of midnight bubble wrapping this week. I’m not too worried though – it’ll get done at some point, right? 😉

With all of the busyness going on, I totally forgot to check out St. Paddy’s Day parades going on in San Diego. Being partly Irish and from New Jersey, it’s a holiday that I grew up celebrating every year. Since we missed out on any nearby festivities this time around, I decided to recognize my Irish roots by making some themed fare: Irish soda bread and potatoes.

While Irish soda breads typically is made with buttermilk, this bread is a healthier version of the traditional recipe. My mom relayed it to me over the phone and I only modified a few things, so I can’t take credit for coming up with it. The trick is to cook the bread for the perfect amount of time – undercook it and the middle will be doughy, overcook it and the bread will brown too much and dry out easily. Sometimes this is hard to master!

Irish-Bread

Irish Soda Bread
Author: 
Serves: 16
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole wheat all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP plus 1 TSP sugar
  • 2 TSP baking soda
  • 1½ TSP salt
  • ¼ cup [light] butter
  • ⅔ cup raisins (I used golden)
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup milk
Instructions
  1. First, you'll need to plump the raisins. Do so by placing raisins in a bowl of warm water, then letting them sit for awhile. I left mine for 2 hours before proceeding to the next step.
  2. Mix flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Cut the butter into the flour mixture, cutting until the butter pieces are very small and mixed in with the flour.
  4. Add in the raisins.
  5. In a small bowl, mix the white vinegar and milk, and let it sit until it curdles.
  6. Add half of the vinegar mixture to the flour mixture, then use an electric mixer to blend it quickly.
  7. Add the rest of the vinegar mixture and quickly blend again with the mixer just until combined.
  8. Place dough on a floured surface. With flour dusted hands, lightly knead the bread about 10x.
  9. Shape the dough into a loaf. Place onto a greased baking sheet.
  10. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Check on bread, and if the center is too doughy, bake for 5-10 minutes longer.
  11. Let the bread cool on a wire rack, then cut into 16 slices.
Notes
Make sure to pay close attention to the bread if you're baking it over half an hour. There's a fine line between undercooking and overcooking it!
Nutrition Information
Calories: 150, Fat: 1 g, Carbohydrates: 30 g, Sugar: 8 g, Protein: 4 g

I also whipped up sauteed rosemary potatoes. I don’t think this recipe is particularly Irish, but it still seemed to stick with my St. Paddy’s Day theme:

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I found this recipe in my Essential Vegetarian cookbook. It was easy, only required a few ingredients, and came out flavorful and tasty. I’m definitely keeping this one in mind for the next time I’m looking for a starchy vegetable side.

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Sauteed Rosemary Potatoes
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1- 1 lb 10 oz bag of Dutch yellow potatoes
  • 1.5 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 oz [light] butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 TSP sea salt
  • Black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Wash the potatoes and cut them in half. Boil in a large pot just until tender, then drain.
  2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying back over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the potatoes and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Toss every few minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the potatoes with minced garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss to evenly combine, while cooking for another minute.
  4. Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 190, Fat: 6 g, Saturated fat: 1 g, Carbohydrates: 34 g, Fiber: 3, Protein: 3 g

I’m off to meet up with my friend Jackie for dinner. She just got back from New Zealand and I’m dying to hear all about her trip & what it’s like there. I’m pretty sure that New Zealand is on my list of places to travel to one day! Good night!

Lessons I Have Learned as a USMC Wife

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Yesterday marked the end of a major chapter in my life. My hubby is no longer an active duty Marine, and never say never, but at this time, I am no longer a military wife. This day came with a lot of reflection on the past 4+ years. What an adventure it all has been!

When Adam decided to become an officer in the Marine Corps, I had no idea what was to come. I was finishing up college, and we had been dating for a bit over 2 years. At first I wasn’t even sure if I could endure being a military girlfriend, but I remember the exact evening while he was in training when I made my mind up that I was going to stick it out with him, through whatever craziness came our way. This was hands down the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. There were plenty of people who made me think that we couldn’t make it through, but I listened to my gut and did what I felt was the right move for me. Lesson #1: Listen to the advice of others, but ultimately follow your heart. And, lesson #2: Do whatever you can to keep the people who make you happy in your life. 

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Spending time with Adam in Quantico, 2009

At first, deployments seemed like an impossible feat. Though we had dealt with a long distance relationship, I couldn’t image spending months on end apart. I wasn’t so sure I could deal with it…. until I had to. At that point, I had to change my mindset from ”I can’t do this” to ”I can and I will get through this,” which is exactly what I did – for two long deployments and several shorter ones. Lesson #3: You can do whatever you put your mind to. And, lesson #4: A good attitude can only help you.

USMC ball in 2009 while we were living in Florida

USMC ball in 2009 while we were living in Florida

I’ve always been a pretty outgoing & independent person, but I became even more so when we move 2,500 miles away from my homestate to San Diego. I attended events where I didn’t know a soul, joined clubs to meet people, started volunteering, and explored the area as much as I could. When Adam deployed a bunch of weeks after we arrived in California, I spent a lot of time dating myself. Somewhere along the lines, I realized that I had come to know myself better. All of that self-exploration made me more conscientious of the person I wanted to be, how I wanted to spend my time, and the people I wanted to surround myself with. Lesson #5: Dating yourself allows you to build a stronger relationship with you. 

At a Marine Corps event in 2011

At a Marine Corps event in 2011

I participated in a lot of USMC wives’ activities and met some beautiful people, but also came across some kind of snobby characters – women who thought they wore their husbands’ rank. I like to refer to them as 40-year old characters from Mean Girls. I felt a bit like I was the new kid on the block in grade school getting picked on by these women, and it bothered me at first. I didn’t understand why anyone would act bitchy just because I was younger than them and newer to the squadron, or because my husband hadn’t been in the military as long as theirs. But at some point, I realized that if someone acts nasty for no reason, it has everything to do with them and nothing to do with me. I stopped caring if a wife wanted to be anything less than nice, and focused on the ladies I had become great friends with and just being myself. I think this change of attitude also had to do with lesson #5 – I had become more comfortable in my own skin, liked who I was, and didn’t mind if not everyone else did. Lesson #6: Accept that you can’t control and won’t always understand how others treat you, and lesson #7: No one can make you feel inferior without your permission. 

With my friend and fellow Marine wife Angi at the USMC ball in 2010

With my friend and fellow Marine wife Angi at the USMC ball in 2010

Adam and I have spent a lot of time apart during these years, and it has helped me to see more clearly what’s important in life. I hear people complaining about trivial things with their significant other and think, Would they realize how silly these things are if they had to spend 7 months apart from their spouse? I’d take my hubby being home with me and messy any day over living in a nice clean apartment alone! And if something does bother me enough, we talk about it and figure out how to move forward in a positive way. Life is short, and there’s no time to waste being angry over unimportant things.  What matters most is that we’re together, and I never take that for granted. Lesson #8: Don’t let petty things annoy you enough to ruin your day, or even part of it, and lesson #9: Always, always cherish the one you love and the time you have together. 

USMC ball 2012

USMC ball 2012

Being a military wife has forever changed me. I feel like it has opened up my world and given me new perspectives. Over these years, I’ve gotten a lot of sympathetic looks and comments, and I know that people sometimes pitied me -for having my spouse gone often, for living on my own, for being so far away from my family. Though they probably meant well, I never needed their sympathy. Why? Because I’m part of a proud group of people who have lived and breathed what it’s like to be a USMC spouse. I won’t deny that sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes you just want to know what the hell is going on, but you have no choice but to be patient. A lot of times plans quickly change. But when your spouse comes home, or you get to meet him during a deployment, or even when you get an unexpected phone call during a deployment, the feeling is like no other. There a lot of highs and lows being a military spouse, and I developed a sort of mental toughness through it all. I have girlfriends whose spouses just came home from long stints in Afghanistan, one new mom whose man just deployed with a week’s notice, and one whose waiting to hear where they’ll move to next. As Marine Corps wives, everyone rolls with the punches as best they can, which brings me to lesson #10: USMC wives are TOUGH women!

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Our civil ceremony in 2009

My time as a Marine Corps spouse is something I’ll take with me for the rest of my life. I would never trade this experience, and think that my relationship with Adam has been tremendously strengthened because of our time in the military world. For the rest of my life, I’m going to live each day like he deploys tomorrow!

Product Review: Polar FT40 Heart Rate Watch

A few months ago, I reviewed a heart rate monitor from Sportline that I wasn’t too happy with. After writing that post and knowing that I needed a better watch to work out with, I reached out to my fellow Girls Gone Sporty ambassadors to see what their picks were. I received some great feedback from some women and decided to go with a Polar heart rate watch, or what they refer to as a training computer.

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If you’re curious as to how wearing a heart rate monitor during exercise can benefit you, check out an article I just wrote on FitKit on this subject here.

I’ve been reluctant to try a sport watch with a chest strap, for the simple fact that I was convinced it would annoy me. I guess I’m weird in that I hate things bothering me during workouts. For instance, my iPhone armband sometimes falls down or my headphones get in the way, and I found it pretty bothersome. Another annoyance is when I wear workout pants that constantly fall down. Continuously pulling up pants is the worst! I was trying to avoid the chest strap for this reason, but after hearing so many people rave about Polar watches, I decided to just give it a try.

The Look: When I received my watch in the mail, I couldn’t wait to try it out. I actually liked the look of the watch better in person. Online it looked kind of bulky to me and bigger than what I usually like, but in real life, it’s kind of cute.

The Setup: The watch was really easy to set up. It took me around 5 minutes from start to finish to get it up and running. This is a nice change from some complicated workout gear I’ve dealt with in the past.

Wearing it: The first time I wore the chest strap, I wasn’t sure where to place it – is it better below my sports bra or underneath it? After using it a bit, I decided that I like to tuck it into the band of my bra better. Though I do feel the strap when I wear it, it isn’t necessarily uncomfortable to use. A couple of times I have felt like it’s falling down a bit and I’ve had to adjust it, but besides that, the strap really isn’t bad at all. The watch itself is really comfortable to wear, and I really like the band.

Continuous Heart Rate: Besides the one new watch I know of out there that has the ability to continuously monitor heart rate without a chest strap, there are 2 options available: to wear a chest strap and have continuous heart rate measurement, or just wear a heart rate watch and constantly have to take your HRM-2pulse for it to be somewhat accurate. After using the Polar F40 for a couple of weeks, I think it’s definitely worth it to get one with a strap to wear for continuous heart rate measurement. I find having to put my finger on a watch to measure my pulse in the middle of a workout to be distracting and annoying. It also takes away from the intensity and speed of my workout, so not having to worry about it is great! It also gives you more accurate results, since it’s continuously monitoring your heart rate instead of just when you take your pulse.

The other day I went mountain biking, which is a workout that I’ve found nearly impossible to measure calories burned in the past with my other watches that didn’t have a chest strap. It’s just tough to take your grip off the handle bars to put your finger on your watch and wait a bunch of seconds for it to measure your heart rate. On the other hand, with this watch it was awesome! I just put my strap and watch on, pressed start, and never needed to bother with it until the conclusion of my workout, when I pressed stop and checked out my workout summary.

Fun Features: The obvious way I’ve been using the watch for the most is the calorie burn feature. I know that people tend to overestimate how many calories they’ve burned during a workout. Though my estimates for a lot of my activities were pretty spot on with the watch’s results, there was one exception to this – during lower impact workout days when I do ab exercises, stretching, and some moderately intense cycling. I’ve learned beast-mode-300x300that according to my Polar FT40, I burn only around 300 calories for 50-60 minutes of this type of workout, when I had previously thought it was more like 400-500 calories. This obviously isn’t counting a post-workout burn and revved metabolism, but it’s interesting to note.

The Polar FT40 is really easy to use, and also has some cool individualized features to help improve your workouts. For instance, the watch has a EnergyPointer feature that tells you what heart rate you’d need to be at to turn your training from the ‘fat burning’  into the ‘fitness improvement’ zone. It’s also water resistant, which is really neat if I’m ever swimming or partaking in water sports like kayaking.

Cost: With the price listed as $180 on the Polar website, it might seem a little steep if you’re just looking to try out a heart rate watch and see if you like using one. However, you can find it for a lot cheaper on other sites like Amazon or Heart Rate Monitors USA.

The Gist: This watch is pretty damn awesome! The Polar FT40 watch is a great tool for measuring the amount of work you’re putting in during workouts, and I think it’s worth the cost. This gadget is definitely one way to make exercise more interesting!

Green Juice of the Week: Pineapple Sunrise

After taking a few days off from making green drinks, this morning I broke out my juicer to whip up a new concoction. The juicer is quite a bitch to clean (okay, I may be exaggerating here – it probably takes 3 minutes to clean, but it’s still a pain!), but I’m a fan of getting so much goodness in one little drink and starting my day off healthily!

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I just lovvveee pineapple. It brings me back to my trip to Thailand, where I ate some of the fresh fruit probably every day I was there. This drink may look green, but all I could taste was a yummy combo of pineapple + orange. I’ll definitely be making this one again soon!

Pineapple Sunrise
Author: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups of fresh pineapple
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 cup of kale, center ribs removed
  • 1 navel orange
  • A large handful of raw spinach
Instructions
  1. Combine all fruits and veggies in a juicer.
  2. Chill in the freezer for a few minutes, add a few ice cubes and enjoy.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup, Calories: 245, Fat: 1 g, Carbohydrates: 159, Sodium: 100, Fiber: 20 g, Protein: 6 g

My First Taste of San Jose

Why hello there!

I can’t believe it’s Monday night already. The weekend and today just flew by. My weekend was a bit of a whirlwind and a lot of fun! I kicked off Friday evening meeting my friend Angi, her hubby John, and their baby Zoie with Adam for dinner in Coronado:

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Angi lives in Arizona now and I haven’t gotten to see her awhile. I also got to see her baby girl, who is getting big so fast and is absolutely beautiful. I miss my friend and it was great getting to chat face to face a bit!

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Saturday morning I awoke bright and early to take Harley to the pet resort (who was not a fan of waking up early or going there!) and get on the road for San Jose. Adam’s job starts up there in just a couple of weeks, so we traveled up there to scope out the area a bit and find a place to live. It was a 7-hour drive, and we went through a lot of mountainous terrain and farmland. The main forms of entertainment during the trip were belting out the Les Miserables soundtrack and checking out all of the cows, sheep, giant tumbleweeds and tons and tons of (what looked like) cherry blossom trees. I’ve never seen that many of them before! My car was bombarded with bees dive bombing into my windshield and the front of my car. They were getting caught in my windshield wipers, and I think they must have been cherry drunk. Ha.

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Our hotel was in downtown San Jose, so we got to walk around and experience the city a bit for the first time. We ate dinner at a restaurant called Mezcal Mexican Restaurant and Bar. For an appetizer, we enjoyed some fresh guacamole. The server came over and mashed avocado, cilantro, onion, and salt right in front of us, which I was a big fan of. I love avocado!!

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I was hoping dinner would be just as awesome as the guacamole, but we weren’t that impressed. I first ordered a tri colored salad, which lacked flavor and wasn’t anything special. For my main entree, I got veggie quesadillas, which were deep fried and really heavy. Luckily I had only ordered an appetizer portion of them, so I didn’t waste too much food. Adam and I decided that this place was very traditional Mexican, not so much Tex Mex. To be honest, I decided awhile ago that I think I like Americanized Mexican food more!

After dinner, we walked to a wine bar I had read about called Vino Vino. It was located in a really fun area:

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The market had live music, was jam packed, and seemed like a hot nightlife spot!

Vino Vino was a cute little wine bar that offers local wines on tap and fun cheese, crackers, & bruschetta type of food. We ordered a bottle from J. Dowd Cellars,  a little winery in the Santa Clara Valley we had never heard of before. We chose this one partly because the wine, Melanie’s Special Blend, sounded tasty, and party because Melanie is my mother-in-law’s name. 😉

JDowd

I was a fan of the relaxed vibe there, and it just may be a new fun spot for us to frequent!

Around San Jose is super Sound of Music-like: rolling green hills everywhere and very scenic.

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I kept seeing signs for everything garlic, and when we stopped at a random farm stand to check it out, I was informed that Gilroy is known as the garlic capital of the world. Apparently they have a big annual garlic festival every summer that they’re famous for.

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I’m not sure if garlic ice cream is something I could get behind, but I’m definitely planning on checking out the festival this summer! At the farm stand, I nabbed a couple of things, including avocados and a jar of raspberry cherry cranberry preserves.

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Overall, I’m looking forward to moving up to the Bay Area and think it’ll be a new adventure for us. The trip and our house hunting went really well, and hopefully we’ll have a lease locked down in the next few days (fingers crossed)!