Monthly Archives: February 2016

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins [vegan]

In my household, we eat a lot of bananas. We’re not quite up to par with some plant-based eaters that I’ve come across who routinely eat 10 bananas in a day (whoa right?), but my hubby and I go through around a dozen bananas a week together.

bananas

I primarily eat them in smoothies, with nut butter, or atop yogurt and smoothie bowls. My hubby usually eats them in his protein shakes or on their own, especially to refuel after he’s gone for a run or bike ride. Since we love our naners, it only makes sense that we both dig banana bread!

banana bread muffins-2

Last weekend I wanted to make a chocolate chip banana bread as part of a gift for our friends’ birthday party for their 2-year old – who I remembered loved my banana bread the last time I shared one with them. I have a go-to vegan banana bread recipe that I’ve made many times, but I wanted to try making a couple of healthier swaps this time around.

banana bread muffins-1

I wanted to make a bread to keep for ourselves, but had the idea to come up with a batch of banana bread muffins instead, because a.) I find banana bread to be so yummy and addicting, so portioning it out into muffins seemed like a good idea, and b.) I wanted to bake both the banana bread and the muffins at once, since I only have 1 bread tin and was short on time.

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Total Body Cycling Circuit Workout

Happy Friday friends!

What’s on the agenda for your weekend? A few things I have going on are a party to attend, plans to go to brunch with my hubby, and the final evaluation of the 6-week fitness challenge that I’ve been participating in happening. I’m looking to beat all the numbers I had set at the beginning evaluation of the challenge, but more on that to come!

backyard backbend play

Speaking of working out, today let’s chat about exercising at home. While I often workout at my HIIT studio, exercise outdoors, pop into my yoga studio or try out a new gym, I also enjoy being able to workout at home sometimes. My guest bedroom also doubles as my fitness room, and it’s nice to have the option to just pop in there for a quickie workout when I don’t have a lot of time to sweat.

Typically I do workout DVDs or YouTube workouts when I exercise at home, but the at-home workouts in my household got more serious and flexible recently…

bike trainer-1

…with the addition of a new bike trainer that allows my hubby and me to make our road & mountain bikes stationary. It’s so nice to be able to hop on the bike for a quick cardio workout while watching TV. I’m diggin’ it!

bike trainer-2

Right now the bike in our living room because we’re redoing our fitness room, and as you may be able to tell, my pup thinks that cycling time = playtime. She takes out all of her toys when I get on the bike and patiently waits so that she can jump on me and try to play once I step off of it. I’m not sure what it is about the bike that gets her all riled up, but she’s such a nut!

She also runs full speed at me to photobomb a yoga pose photo!

She also runs full speed at me to photobomb a yoga pose photo!

Earlier this week I came up with an interval workout that uses the bike. This workout alternates between 5 minute cycling rounds and rounds of 4 different exercises – simple but effective moves like pushups, squats and planks. It works the entire body, and takes about 30 minutes to complete.

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Split Personality Eating: Is it Beneficial or Harmful to Our Health?

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

veggies
Are you a person who does a juice cleanse one day, then goes out for 4-course indulgent meal that weekend? Then you, my friend, are not alone.

Recently I read an interesting article in Shape magazine about the recent trend of ‘split personality’ eating patterns, such as egg whites & spinach for breakfast, followed by fettuccine alfredo for dinner, and I thought it would be interesting to chat about it today. After I read it, I kept noticing the examples of extreme eating all around me.

A nutella donut pic that came up on my IG newsfeed... and might I add that it looks heavenly!

A nutella donut pic that came up on my IG feed… and might I add that it looks heavenly!

Businesses geared towards healthy living, like juice bars and healthy meal delivery companies, are on the rise at the very same time that donut shops and gourmet cupcake spots have become all the rage. My Instagram is a mix between clean eating & workout pics vs. indulgent dessert and food porn. Extreme eating is even present on my DVR with taped shows like My 600 Lb Life and The Biggest Loser (though those shows obviously focus on people who have lost control into only one extreme direction).

Making green juice in a Jim Beam glass yesterday... how's that for polar opposites?

Making green juice in a Jim Beam glass yesterday… how’s that for polar opposites?

We have a tendency to be fixated on extremes, so it’s no surprise that people are really into healthy food, like green smoothies, while at the same time being infatuated with indulgent foods, like gourmet cupcakes. So is this so called Polar Opposite Diet helping or hurting our health?

One definite pro that I see to these foodie times that we’re living in is that some people are now sophisticated consumers truly interested in the latest new foods and trends. Looking at our society as a whole, we aren’t invested enough in where our food comes from, what’s actually in it, and what it does to our bodies, so I for one am loving this rising trend of sophisticated food culture.  Food isn’t just something to stay alive, eating can (and I think, should!) be a whole fun experience.  Just look at the rise of farm-to-table dining. It gives us consumers totally new ways to connect with the food that we’re putting into our bodies.

A recent post-workout mint chocolate protein smoothie from a local juice bar

A recent post-workout mint chocolate protein smoothie from a local juice bar

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La Jolla Day Date: Everyday California’s Kayaking Whale Watching Tour + Lunch at Trilogy Sanctuary

I’m always up for an adventure, and living in the San Diego area, there’s no shortage of fun to be had. With our year-round sunshine and moderate temperatures, I love taking advantage of the weather and getting outside as much as I can.

headstand play at sunset

Headstand play during a picnic last weekend

From my frequent hikes and walks along the coast, to mountain biking excursions and sunset beach picnics, I get outdoors as often as possible in my free time. One of my co-workers recently remarked that I’m always outside on the weekends, and it’s true! Being in nature makes my soul happy.

mountain biking

Mountain biking a couple of weeks ago

That’s why recently when local company Everyday California reached out and asked if I’d like to go on one of their adventure tours, I gladly accepted the offer. My Marine was away for training over Valentine’s Day weekend but we both had off of work for Presidents’ Day last Monday, so it seemed like the perfect belated V-Day date for us to have an adventure in the Pacific.

Everyday California

Everyday California is a board/kayak/snorkel rental, apparel, and adventure tour company located in the heart of La Jolla. We had actually been to their store before to go standup paddleboarding last summer, but had never done a guided tour with them. A couple of years ago we did a kayak sea cave tour in the very same area with another company, so I was interested to see how this tour compared.

Everyday California Adventures

We chose to do their whale watching kayak tour, which runs only in the winter from December-March when Grey Whales migrate south all the way to Mexico from Alaska to have their babies.

The day of our tour wound up being an absolutely perfect day weather-wise. It was 80 degrees (We’ve been getting a bit of a gorgeous winter heat wave!), sunny, and the ocean wasn’t too rough. We arrived at Everyday California to check in and get life vests and helmets. The store also offers lockers to store your stuff and dressing areas to change. Once the guides introduced themselves and got the tour started, we all walked down to the beach together.

Everyday California kayak tour

Image via Everyday California’s website

Since the conditions when we went paddleboarding were really rough with larger than average waves, I was a little bit nervous about getting out into the ocean this time. While I wound up getting crushed by a few waves getting out (It somehow happens every single time!), our tour guides assisted everyone in getting their kayaks out past the break, and made sure that everyone cruised back in okay as well. I get a little freaked out by wild waves, so it was nice having the assurance of the guides there.

A GoPro shot from my last La Jolla adventure

A GoPro shot from my last La Jolla adventure

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Mini Pretzel Twists with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Happy Friday! Ooooh, do I have a yummy recipe for you guys today! pretzels-1

So, I think that part of being a foodie is often getting mildly obsessed with a certain food or meal. For me, this can go 2 ways:

1.) Sometimes I get a craving for something, and I simply must eat it because the yen just doesn’t go away. I eat it once, feel satisfied, and then I’m over it.

2.) I get really into a food/recipe, and I just want to keep making it. I can eat it every week for months on end – such is the case for almond butter, this orzo veggie soup I’ve been into this winter, or the protein pancakes I’ve been making every week for heaven knows how long.

pretzels-2

This leads me to today’s recipe. I hadn’t had a soft pretzel in years and years, and then my hubby and I went on a weekend adventure to Big Bear Lake, where we randomly ordered hot pretzels with some sort of beer cheese sauce.

Ohmygoodness, how it hit the spot…and from then on, I’ve been in love with warm, doughy pretzels. I’ve ordered them at a few football games, and began my foray into making them at home by trying out this pumpkin beer pretzel recipe. And then I started experimenting with making pretzels on my own, and came up with this deliciousness for New Year’s Eve…and then again for the Super Bowl. Obsessed, I tell ya! pretzels-10 Continue reading

Dating Myself This Valentine’s Day Weekend

Hi friends!

Well, last weekend marked 2016’s holiday of love… and while I love any excuse to celebrate my relationship with my husband, I also like taking time around each Valentine’s Day to show myself some love.

Self-love is a topic I’ve written about probably a dozen times, and it’s a subject that I like to chat about with you guys because it is so important. You can’t have a truly healthy life without having a healthy, positive self-relationship.

love yourself first

Sometimes we’re all so busy running around handling our business and taking care of everyone else in our life, that we forget that we deserve to be taken care of too. We need to love ourselves first, because a healthy self-relationship forms the backbone of all of the other relationships you have in your life.

The concept of “dating yourself” is unique to you as an individual. The idea is simply that you take time out of your busy schedule to treat yourself to something that makes you happy – something that you don’t do all the time and that feels a bit special. The only requirement is that it’s something that feeds your soul, makes you feel good, and is beneficial to your health – mentally, physically, emotionally.

Carlsbad sunset-Feb 16

The sunset in Carlsbad last Friday

What do you do when you go on a typical date? You do something fun that you’re interested in. You do something relaxing that makes you feel more centered and happy. You have great conversation with the person you’re on a date with. You find out more about the other person. The same things go for dating yourself. I usually do things that I find calming and fun; I treat myself; I give myself an opportunity to think more about the person I want to be and to celebrate the woman that I am; I practice mindfulness.

Last weekend was the perfect opportunity for me to treat myself and have some “me” time. My hubby was away for Marine Corps training, and with it being V Day, the idea of love was all around me. Here are some of the ways that I dated myself:

Carlsbad sunset-Feb 16-2

I even got Harley to lay down and check out the sunset for about 30 seconds before she got antsy!

I took my dog for a long sunset walk along the coast. It was relaxing, meditative, and a great way to start my weekend… plus how pretty was the sunset?!

Candles & Moscow Mule Mugs

Check me out in the reflection of the mugs 🙂

I went shopping. I’m not a huge shopper and hadn’t done my Christmas gift returns yet, so I headed to the mall for some exchanging. I wound up getting some cute clothes from my favorite clothing store, Express, and also popped into Bed, Bath & Beyond for some home goods.

New Baking Pans

I wound up getting a couple of new candles (I’m always burning candles in the house!) and Moscow Mule mugs that I totally didn’t need, but have had my eye on for awhile. I also nabbed two new baking sheets since my current baking sheets were old and dingy. I’m going to be able to bake a ton of cookies on that huge pan!

Newport Beach Hike-2

I went hiking. I met up with my cousin Michelle to hit a trail in Newport Beach on Saturday. We had planned on doing a 2-hour hike, but wound up getting kind of turned around on the trails and hiking for 4+ hours & over 10 miles!

Hiking with Michelle-Feb 16

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San Diego Restaurant Week 2016: Lunching at Del Mar Rendezvous & La Jolla’s Brockton Villa

Happy Friday!

I hope that you all have some fun things planned for your weekend. I’m definitely looking forward to mine, and I have off from my publicist job on Monday for Presidents’ Day so it’s a long weekend for me!

Backing it up a bit, a few weeks ago was San Diego Restaurant Week. It happens twice annually, and is a fun chance for foodies like myself to try out new restaurants at discounted prices.

SDRW 2016

I missed the last SDRW due to travel, so I was excited to check out a few new eateries this time around. I wound up going out to lunch twice during this SDRW – which is kind of interesting since I rarely dine out for lunch – and thought I’d give you all some SoCal flair and share my thoughts on the restaurants today.

Brockton Villa

First up was lunch at La Jolla’s Brockton Villa with my hubby. I had passed this restaurant many times but never dined at it before. A historic building located in the heart of La Jolla Cove, the restaurant offers ocean front dining… and we definitely enjoyed the view!

La Jolla-Jan 16

I started off with a Greek appetizer that had feta, kalamata tapenade, cucumbers, tzatziki, and some other goodies with grilled pita wedges, while my hubby tried their “Epic Chowder” – a clam, crab and potato soup.

Brockton-Greek app

I think that I just love any Greek food! My diet is like a vegetarian Mediterranean diet for the most part, and I would happily eat that appetizer daily.

Brockton-portobello sandwich

For my entree, I ordered the portobello mushroom sandwich, which was loaded with tomato, red onion, pepper, spinach and goat cheese on multigrain bread. I’m usually up for a sandwich loaded with veggies! My hubby ate grilled fish tacos that he was a fan of.

I give the food a thumbs up, plus I think that Brockton Villa is a fun eatery choice for its location alone. You can stroll around La Jolla, watch the seals, and then conveniently stroll over to the restaurant to grab a bite to eat while staring off into the Pacific – which is precisely what we did that day.

La Jolla seals

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Weight Is Only Part of the Equation {Beets BLU Smart Scale Review}

When it comes to shaping your body through diet and exercise, sometimes people put too much emphasis on their weight alone (I’ve been guilty of doing this in the past too!). Of course weight tells you part of the story, but it’s not the whole picture.

Women's Health-Food for Thought

(Source: Yahoo Health! via Shutterstock)

Case in point: There’s a woman whose 5’6″ and weighs 140 pounds. She sporadically eats healthy but mostly eats a diet high in simple carbs, saturated fat, and sugar, and doesn’t get consistent exercise. Perhaps she’s lucky in that she has good genes allowing her to easily maintain a healthy weight, but she might also be “skinny fat” and have some internal things going on with her body that she’s not yet aware of (like high cholesterol or being at risk for Type 2 diabetes).

On the other hand, there’s another 5’6″ woman that weighs 140 pounds, but she eats a diet plentiful in whole foods and healthy fat & carbs. She also maintains an exercise schedule, and has an athletic build.

Woman 1 may look completely different than the second woman even though they share the same height and weight. The second woman is probably much healthier than the first with better health biometrics, including a higher percentage of muscle mass.

Eat Well Move Daily-quote

So you see, weight isn’t everything – and thanks to new technology available to us health conscious consumers, we can get on a scale and see not only weight, but other data like fat percentage, muscle mass and body water.

Enter the Beets BLU Smart Scale. A couple of months ago, the company sent me the scale to try. If I had to share my thoughts on it in one short sentence, I’d say: It’s kind of awesome.

Beets BLU Smart Scale Review

One thing I absolutely love about the scale is its ease of use. I had previously owned another scale that monitored similar data, but it was much harder to use. I had to push buttons to switch users from my husband to me, which sometimes wasn’t all that easy. Although this other scale kept track of past weigh-ins, it wasn’t simple to access that history, so instead I would take pictures on my iPhone of my weigh-ins for future reference (annoying).

With Beets BLU Smart Scale, the data from my weigh-ins automatically sync to my iPhone as soon as the scale gathers the info. It keeps tracks of all previous weigh-ins so that I can easily access them to do things like compare where I was 3 weeks ago from today. The app shows me my weight, fat percentage, muscle mass, BMI and water weight.

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My Top 5 Hot Breakfast Ideas

I absolutely love starting my day on a healthy note, which is why my mornings always include a nutritious breakfast. There’s a reason why our morning eats are called the most important meal of the day: Breakfast breaks the fast that your body has been enduring overnight, gives you energy, and gets your metabolism revved early in the day.

In honor of February being National Hot Breakfast Month, today I’m sharing 5 of my favorite hot morning meals with you guys. Let’s get to it!

protein blueberry pancakes

1.) Protein pancakes. A week never goes by without me making pancakes of some sort! Here’s one of my go-to protein pancake batter recipes:

Combine the following in a blender just until combined, then form into a couple of pancakes on a griddle over medium-low heat. Cook until lightly browned on each side, and pair with your favorite toppers…. such as sliced strawberries, blueberries cooked in the batter, some dark chocolate chips thrown in, banana slices + peanut butter topper… the possibilities are endless!  

  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ banana
  • ½ cup almond milk or milk of choice
  • 2 TBSP whole wheat flour or other flour of choice
  • ½ scoop vanilla protein powder
  • ¼ TSP cinnamon
  • Dash of salt & sweetener (I use either stevia or honey)
  • ¼ TSP baking powder

avo toast with apple

2.) Avocado toast. I’m kind of obsessed with avocado, and love incorporating it into this simple breakfast: Mash some avocado on a slice of freshly toasted wheat bread, and add a squeeze of fresh lemon & a sprinkle of sea salt. I often pair it with a sliced, cinnamon sprinkled apple.

Vans waffles with baked apple

3.) Van’s apple cinnamon waffles. I first started eating Van’s waffles when I had a brief stint with trying out a gluten free diet, and ever since then a box of them can often be found in my freezer. My favorite variety is their apple cinnamon waffles, and my go-to ways to eat them are a.) with baked apple chunks and honey, or b.) with banana slices, nut butter & honey:

Vans waffles with banana & nut butter

Van’s waffles are such an easy breakfast to throw together when I’m in a rush. Yum!

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Chocolate Pretzel Almond Butter Granola Bites

Happy Friday!

Let’s kick off the weekend with something sweet, shall we? chocolate pretzel granola bites-5

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I’ve been finding myself with dessert on the brain. I just can’t help it!

Also, my hubby and I are celebrating our friend’s 30th birthday tonight, and I can’t let a friend’s birthday pass without baking them some sort of sweet treat…  #foodieproblems

Nektar chocolate covered pretzels

Recently Nektar Naturals sent me some of their new dark chocolate covered pretzels dusted with honey crystals to play around with, and I came up with this fun granola snack:

chocolate pretzel granola bites

Does anyone else love mini-sized foods? I find them to be so cute and fun, so instead of making regular granola bars, I cut them into little squares for granola bites. Made with oats & hemp hearts and sweetened with honey, dark chocolate chips, and a couple dark chocolate covered pretzels, these babies are great to grab on-the-go, throw a few on top of a yogurt bowl, eat as a healthy sweet treat, or to enjoy with your morning tea or coffee.chocolate pretzel granola bites-1 Continue reading