Let’s get this show on the road again

Hello, hello, and oh, my god.

I have so not been kicking ass lately.

Not at keeping this blog, at least. Lately, you can find me crossing off items on my DC bucket list (because there’s nothing like being a senior in college to kickstart a major onset of nostalgia).

But, I’m happy to inform you that, while I’ve been slacking in the ass-kicking department, I’m still eating veggies! And I think I’m ready to get this show on the road again.

I don’t have any new recipes to share with you today, but I am planning a trip to the farmer’s market this weekend. Or at least the grocery store – it’s cold out.

In the meantime, if you ever needed a reason to explain why eating veggies kicks ass (one that doesn’t come from a PETA pamphlet – the idea is to not scare people away), I recently wrote a blog post for Planet Forward all about how your diet impacts the planet. Turns out, you can cut your greenhouse gas emissions in half by eliminating meat from your diet. Don’t believe me? Follow that link.

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World Cup and a Cup of Caipirinha

It is the best time of the year. The time when all sports are played at their highest stakes. If, by all sports, you’re only considering basketball, hockey, and soccer (futbol!). And, well, basketball and hockey have been decided (I don’t want to talk about it). So that leaves us with… SOCCER!!!

First of all, WHO ISN’T PUMPED for this year’s World Cup? I mean, even if you aren’t a soccer fan, this year’s tourney has been the inspiration for some of the best commercials I have ever seen. Ever. In my life. Try to watch this, or even the Beats by Dr. Dre commercial without getting psyched out of your mind. You can’t.

AND you get to come together in the bars or at a friend’s place to root for the good ol’ U S of A. (or whichever flag you pledge allegiance to…Sorry Ghana).

Speaking of bars, there is one other thing making this World Cup exciting. Meet my new friend, the Caipirinha.

berry caipirinha from Tryst

I know. I spelled it wrong. and fucked up the hashtag. Blame the cachaca.

The caipirinha is the national drink of Brazil. Usually it is cachaca, lime, and sugar. If you know anything about me and drinking, you know that anything + lime + sugar is my jam. Well, the caipirinha pictured above is Tryst’s non-traditional twist: same ingredients, plus strawberry and mint. Brazillians and traditionalists, try not to cringe… It was quite tasty. As the games (and my tour de caipirinha) continue, I’ll definitely have to try an original caipirinha. I think I would like the drink even better if the lime stood out more.

Anyone know a place to get a great caipirinha in DC? Where have you been watching the games?

Healthy 10-Minute Tart Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

No pictures of these babies – I made a small batch ate them up too fast!

It’s no secret that I have a sweet tooth. The last day I didn’t have dessert was…. haha yeah right. I’ve gone through enough Ben & Jerry’s this semester for all the heartbroken girls in all of the chick flicks since 1990. Seriously, it’s a little pathetic. This morning I was craving sweets, and so I figured if I made something healthy, I can eat them before noon, right?

So, I checked the cupboard and saw what I had to work with. I had some quick-cook steel cut oats, a little bit of flour, some semi-sweet chocolate chips, and dried cherries my mom sent me in my Easter care package. Steel cut oats are a great source of fiber, chocolate has antioxidants (and makes everything delicious), and cherries have kick-ass anti-inflammatory properties, perfect since I am nursing a mild hamstring injury.

On top of that, I kept the sugar and fat amounts really low to make the cookies even healthier.

No recipe in hand, I tried to concoct something that tasted like a cookie. I preheated the oven while I was in the shower, and baked the cookies while I did my makeup, and so the whole process took up maybe 2 minutes of my day.

Ingredients

  • – Steel Cut Oats (half cup)
  • – All- Purpose Flour (half cup)
  • – Dried Cherries (however much you like)
  • – Chocolate Chips (whatever ya like)
  • – 1 Egg
  • – Sweetener of Choice (I used a little bit of honey and a little bit of sugar) (maybe a tablespoon or 2 of each)
  • – Cinnamon
  • – splash of Kahlua (or substitute Vanilla Extract)
  • – Vegetable Oil (or butter/fat of choice) — maybe a tablespoon or two
  • – pinch of salt
  • – pinch of baking powder

— This made a small portion, about 2 decent sized cookies and a little over a third of a 9×9 pan of cookie bars. For a group, double recipe —-

Directions

Stir everything in a bowl. Roll into cookies or spread across pan to make cookie bars. Eat them all and don’t feel guilty.

What March Madness Taught Me About Myself

I’ve always loved basketball. The fast-paced, high-scoring adrenaline. The squeaking of sneakers on the shiny wood floor. The chanting and cheering in the bleachers. The arms on Dwight Howard. I can hardly remember a time when I wasn’t a basketball fan.

The peak of my soccer career, circa 1998

The peak of my soccer career, circa 1998

If I think back reaaally far, I can remember when it all began. I was in third grade. Up until then, I’d been a soccer player. And a swimmer. And a dancer. And a gymnast. But I’d already moved on from swimming, and dance and gymnastics were week night activities, so soccer was the sport that dominated my weekends. But, you see, my teenaged sister also played soccer. High school varsity soccer, to be exact. And so it was in third grade that I decided to stop living in my older sister’s shadow. Soccer was her thing.

That’s when I decided that basketball would be my thing.

Now, if you don’t know me personally, I’ll go ahead and fill you in on something. As full grown 21-year-old woman, I’m 5’2” on a good day, and the only things keeping me above 100 pounds are my mandatory weightlifting sessions and (not mandatory) love for enchiladas. But in third grade, basketball was my calling. I signed up for co-ed YMCA basketball, and for a few years I was a pretty kick ass point guard (so I like to think). Insert ball handling joke here.

I stuck with it for a few years, but overall, my basketball career was short-lived. But true love never dies. During my stint as a baller (I even had a picture frame from Claire’s that said “Bball Chick”), my mom started a tradition of buying my dad and I multi-packs of tickets to Orlando Magic basketball games. That tradition continued throughout my high school years, and it established my loyalty as a life-long Magic fan.

Now THIS is what you call a fan...

Now THIS is what you call a fan…

It wasn’t until I became a college athlete myself, however, that I really began to appreciate college basketball. But once I got it, I got it. My enthusiasm for college basketball only sky-rocketed this past year as The George Washington Colonials kicked major ass all season and found themselves in the NCAA Tournament.

And this year, I filled out my first bracket. I’d always appreciated March Madness. I always tuned in for the championship, and maybe a few sweet 16 games, as well. But it wasn’t until I filled out my own bracket that I really understood the madness. I was addicted. I was watching every game; I even had my laptop open to the St. Louis/NC State game while I watched Scandal. I was obsessed with how my bracket was doing, and I didn’t even bet any money on it.

It was doing well – really well – for the first couple days of the tournament. And then, something happened.

I believe it began after the GW game. I had missed a few important upsets – Dayton over Ohio State, Mercer over Duke – but I had predicted a few more correctly, and I was fairing relatively well. But, in a fit of school spirit, I’d seeded GW to advance all the way to the Final Four. I mean, they are my team. I’m a Colonial. We fought a good fight, but that loss hit me hard. My bracket and I moved down a few spots.

Without my team in the running, things became a little less exciting. But the thought of being within reach of the number-one spot within my group kept me watching the games, checking back, even if I was now doing so half-heartedly. But each day, there were a few more losses, a few more wrong predictions, and I began checking back less and less. By the time Florida lost to Connecticut, I had no one left in my bracket to cheer for- no hopes at another victory. My once obsessive refreshing of pages turned into a complete afterthought. I lost my zeal.

I had never considered myself a competitive person. In fact, I always saw my lack of competitive nature as a flaw, especially as an athlete. March Madness taught me that I’ve been wrong this whole time. Maybe I am not addicted to competition, but I am addicted to winning. My flaw is not a lack of competitive flair – it is how easily I lost that flair. I didn’t avoid filling out a bracket for years because I didn’t care about the competition. I avoided filling out a bracket because I didn’t want to lose. But is there harm in choosing battles you can win?

No Such Thing As Free Yoga

Just stumbled across this gem in my drafts folder. Yes, I created this blog about a year ago… and then never posted. It didn’t take much perusing to realize that year-ago me was much cooler, and way funnier than present-time me. Basically, I want to be year-ago me when I grow up. (Except present-time me is better at yoga)

Spoiler Alert: The kick-ass friend I followed to yoga class in this post? She’s now a core-power yoga instructor, and even more kick-ass. Don’t believe me? Look at her Instagram. It’s the perfect level of awesomeness that leaves you unsure as to whether you’re inspired or feel bad about yourself. Ultimate kick-assery.(I’m not kidding. Look.)


You know what they say, “There’s no such thing as free lunch.” Well, I am coming to an end of my “free week” of yoga classes. Yeah.. I get it, I’m late to the game. I know what you’re thinking “I’m listening to this girl, who’s writing a post at 5 a.m., and isn’t even a regular yoga-goer (yet?) about a healthy lifestyle?” And to that I say… oh shut up.

Anyway, a new yoga studio just opened up in Georgetown. My friend and teammate (who happens to be, like, really intense at yoga) goes to the same studio back in her hometown, and because this girl is kick ass I obviously invited myself along to see what it was all about.

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Now, don’t get me wrong. This was not my first yoga class ever. Back in high school I actually used to voluntarily get up early for sunrise yoga before school with a friend and then-teammate of mine. (I know what you’re thinking- what a freak) But let me tell you something about sunrise yoga (at least sunrise yoga at my home gym — S/O Parrish Health & Fitness)… it’s relaxing. There is something really tranquil about welcoming the sun into the world with coordinated breaths and stretches first thing in the a.m. The level of difficulty may have had something to do with the fact that my friend and I were the only people younger than retirement age to take the class, but I’m not one to jump to any agist conclusions.

My first corepower yoga class was “yoga sculpt.” Wow. I consider myself to be a decently in shape person… but let’s just say I was about as unprepared as a seagull in a desert. I showed up with no mat, no towel, no water, and a false sense of confidence.

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“Sand? I got this.”

So, here are a few things I think everyone should know before their first trip to Corepower Yoga:

  1. Your instructor will kick more ass than you. But this is a good thing, right? Listen, this is how it goes. You’re gonna walk into the studio and see some really cute receptionist. She’s going to be in awesome shape and so you’re going to make the assumption that all employees get to take free yoga classes and that only someone at least vaguely obsessed with fitness would work at a yoga studio anyway. Be nice to the receptionist, because later, as you’re laying on your yoga mat ready to begin class, she will walk into the room and introduce herself as – wait for it – your instructor. If your ego is anything close to mine you’ll begin thinking about how you should become a yoga instructor. This thought quickly fades and halfway through the class is completely erased from your consciousness as your teacher jumps around yelling in an astonishingly cheerful tone while you slip in puddles of your own sweat. Where does she find the energy? Yep, she kicks more ass than you.
  2. Be Smart. Be Prepared. You think you can handle the heavier pair of dumbbells. Go lighter than your instincts are telling you. You’ll thank me halfway through the class as your quads are quivering.
  3. This is not a good first date. Seriously. You’re going to struggle. And you’re going to sweat. It’s not cute, so unless you are comfortable with looking like a wet cat – and smelling like a wet dog- around your date… invite someone else. Or just go alone.
  4. Have fun!! and GO! Your first week of classes is completely free of charge. They have mats and towels on location. And it’s not nearly as bad as I’ve made it sound… And it’s GOOD to have your ass kicked. Really, you have no excuse.

If you’ve been paying any attention, I know what you’re thinking now: “But you said there’s no such thing as free lunch yoga.”

You’re not going to pay a penny for your first week at core power. That’s the truth, no strings attached. But you’re gonna pay somehow. Me? On day 1, I paid with my calves. Ouch. On day 2, I paid with a nice, long 3 hour nap that afternoon. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little soreness and exhaustion. It means your workout…actually worked out!

Pre-Race Pasta with Protein-Packed Arrabbiata

Tomorrow is race day. I’ll be running my first 5k since November, and my first 5k on a track since 2012! I had to sit out last year’s track season due to some pesky injuries, so last weekend, when I ran the 1200 leg of the DMR, I participated in my first track meet in 2 years! It was also the first time I tried this new dish.

You see, I always like to eat pasta the night before a race. A typical runner’s carb-o-loading dinner. I get that I could eat any well-balanced meal and be fine, but I always feel like I need pasta. Superstition, I guess. It’s important to have protein, too, and usually I’ll make a vegetarian chicken parm with morningstar “chicken” patties, or put some boca crumbles in the pasta sauce. But Trader Joe’s has been running a little low in the fake-meat department, so I’ve had to improvise.

So, I worked with it. And honestly, what I came up with is better than any fake chicken parm. I DARE you carnivores to try this, too. I promise, it’s DELICIOUS. You won’t even know you’re eating tofu!

I knew I wanted an arrabbiata sauce – sometimes I like my pasta sauce to be a little spicy. Luckily, I still had half a jar in the fridge. I also had some baby bella mushrooms and capers, which, yum. I sliced the baby bellas up to small pieces and cooked them in the frying pan with some tofu.

Usually tofu is served cubed or sliced, but to make a meat-sauce like consistency I used a spatula to kinda of smush the tofu into a ground-meat consistency.

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For flavor, I sprinkled the tofu with ground red pepper and cinnamon, and a little bit of oregano and basil.

End result? A delicious, slightly spicy, and high-protein vegetarian pasta dish!

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If you prefer a milder sauce, replace arrabbiata with your favorite pasta sauce, and cut the red pepper from the tofu!

Pre-Race Pasta with Protein-Packed Arrabbiata

  • Linguine (or pasta of your choice)
  • Jarred Arrabbiata Sauce
  • Sprouted Extra Firm Tofu
  • Mushrooms
  • Capers
  • Red Pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Oregano
  • Basil

Directions

Boil a pot of water. While waiting for water to boil, heat olive oil in a pan. Pat tofu dry with paper towels. Slice into smaller pieces before putting into pan if you want. You’re going to break it into small, ground-meat (or scrambled egg) like pieces in the pan, so you can start with the big chunk if you want. Add the tofu in to the pan and use spatula to break into pieces, as in the picture above, or smaller. Sprinkle with ground red pepper (cayenne) and cinnamon. When the water comes to a boil, add the linguine. Cook as directed. Slice mushrooms into small, thin pieces. Add to pan with tofu. (add more oil if necessary) Sprinkle with oregano and basil. Cook the tofu and mushrooms over medium to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Drain linguine, and then put the noodles back into the pot. Add the tofu/mushroom combination, followed by the arrabiata sauce and then a few spoonfuls of capers. Stir/fold to mix. Serve, and Enjoy!

For some laughs while you’re cooking. I was skyping my boyfriend while writing this, and he asked to be featured in my blog. He even posed. So, here ya go. World, meet Chris. 🙂

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Arugula & Parmesan Ravioli with Mushrooms and Arugula

We all fall into funks sometimes. Little bumps along the road that jolt our tired minds and bodies just enough to make us realize that Netflix and online window shopping are no longer providing ample outlet for our “me-time.” You realize that your free time should be spent doing something you love. A hobby, so to say.

I recently had one of these moments. I finally finished gossip girl, and now my inner 16-year-old girl is content. I flew through House of Cards Season 2 weeks ago. And Orange is the New Black doesn’t come back out until June. Instead of searching for another show to binge on, I decided to take my free time and do something reasonably useful with it – do two things I love, but haven’t been doing nearly enough: Cooking, and writing.

So, I looked in my fridge to see what I had and I came up with…

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Seven Ingredients. Fifteen Minutes. One Easy, Delicious Meal.

Arugula & Parmesan Ravioli with Mushrooms and Arugula

Ingredients:

  • Ravioli (I used Trader Giotto’s Arugula & Parmigiano Reggiano Ravioli)
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms (I used Baby Bella)
  • Fresh Arugula
  • Parsley
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Bring a pot of waiter to boil. While waiting, heat olive oil in a pan. Throw in some garlic and a handful or so of mushrooms. Sauté, flipping and stirring impatiently. Decide water is taking too long to boil. Put lid over pot. When water is boiling, add the ravioli. Cook 3 minutes, or follow the directions on package. Drain ravioli, then put back in pot. Toss with mushroom, garlic, olive oil, parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. Plate and top with fresh arugula. Wah-lah! Bon Apetit! Tweak recipe as you like.