Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cooking with Coconut Water

It's TIU Thirsty Thursday!

Today, I made 2 things with Zico Chocolate Coconut Water, and both turned out to be perfectly amazing!  For breakfast, I made steel cut oats with Zico chocolate coconut water, and for a tasty treat to enjoy later, I created raspberry-chocolate-coconut Greek frozen yogurt (CocoRazz Froyo).

Chocolate Coconut Steel Cut Oats

Cook oats according to package directions, but substitute Zico chocolate coconut water. 
After oats are cooked, top with 1 T natural peanut butter and banana.

CocoRazz Greek Frozen Yogurt

This recipe is EASY, DELICIOUS, and HEALTHY!

Chocolate and raspberries are two of my favorite foods to combine.  I first fell in love with this combination when I tried Chocolate Raspberry Truffle from Tic Toc Ice Cream Parlor in my hometown, Loudon, TN.  If you are ever in East Tennessee, Knoxville area, it's worth the trip, but they are only opened during the summer months. 
Today I created a healthier version of my beloved combination of chocolate and raspberries.

Only 4 key ingredients needed:
                                   1/4 Cup     Honey
                                   1 3/4 Cup  Zico Chocolate Coconut Water
                                   1 Cup         Raspberries (fresh or frozen - I used frozen)
                                   1 Cup          Stonyfield Organic Greek Yogurt
                                       optional toppings
                                    * Shredded coconut
                                    * Shredded chocolate
  1. Combine honey and 3/4 cup Zico chocolate coconut water in saucepan heat on medium until combined.
  2. In a food processor, or blender, dice the raspberries with 2 T of the honey coconut mixture.
  3. In a glass bowl, suitable for the freezer, co mbine1/4 cup of the raspberry mixture with 1 cup Greek yogurt and 1 cup Zico chocolate coconut water.  Put that in the freezer for 1 hour.  Put the remainder of your raspberry mixture in the fridge. 
  4. After 1 hour, or until edges are frozen, take out your yogurt mixture and whisk to break up clumps.  Freeze another 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes 
  5. Put the remainder of your raspberry mixture on top of your semi-frozen yogurt mixture and swirl.  Freeze until solid.
You can also add shredded coconut or chocolate to the mixture before freezing completely, or just put it on top when serving!

 What's your favorite coconut water creation?  If you haven't tried Zico chocolate, you are MISSING OUT! 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Booty Stepper Workout

I am loving Tone it Up Beach Week!

Today is Hump Day - aka BOOTY DAY!  The AM workout for Tone it Up called for stairs.  I don't have any stairs near my house, and I did not feel like going out at 4:30 in dark of morning to find a suitable outdoor stair case.  Besides that, I can't think of any parks that have one here, and I am not sure where else, besides schools, to look.  So I came up with my own 'Booty Stepper Workout'!

 I had a blast and burned 280 calories in 32 minutes

The original workout recommended by Tone it Up is posted here on their Beach Week schedule or found here for the YouTube video.

This was my 'stair stepper'.  NOTE:  I DO NOT recommend using one of these!  I highly recommend using a real stepper like those found at the gym or probably even at Walmart.  However, I was desperate in wanting to do some sort of booty stepping workout, so I used the  folding stool that normally helps me get to the top of my closet shelves.

The stool was already slightly cracked, and now it's a goner!

I finished my workout off with an absolutely delicious oatmeal smoothie.  I dare say it might be my favorite yet!

Blueberry Oat Smoothie
1/2 C plain yogurt
about 1 C frozen blue berries
1/8 C oats
1/2 banana
1 T peanut butter
1/3 C Almond Milk

Happy Hump Day!  Now work your booty off!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Green Goddess Grilled Cheese

After seeing a pin on Pinterest about a grilled cheese sandwich with pesto and avocado, I knew I had to give it a try.

After creating my version of the Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Sandwich, I thought I could die incredibly happy with my lunch devoured!

I am so thankful to have found this post on TasteSpotting

I didn't have all the ingredients on hand, but made the most out of what I had in my planter garden, Chives and Basil, and my kitchen.

My Quick Pesto
I couldn't spend a lot of time during my lunch break, so I used my food processor to combine the following:
2 garlic cloves
Handful of basil
2 long sprigs of chive
1 T of pine nuts
Dash of olive oil to get it a little liquidy
Finishing Touches on the Green Goddess Grilled Cheese
 1/2 an avocado, sliced
1 tablespoon or less of goat cheese crumpled on top
A thinly cut slice of Swiss or another melty cheese
The final product:  DELICIOUS! 
Even the puppies couldn't resist trying to taste the goodness found in the "Green Goddess Grilled Cheese"! 

Monday, August 27, 2012

August Workouts

This month has consisted of walks with the dogs and mainly of yoga. My friend and I got a month Groupon pass and I have since become addicted to Power Yoga! Read more about this month of yoga and where it has lead me mentally in this post.

July 29th-August 4th
  • Sunday - Beginner/intermediate yoga
  • Monday - Beginners yoga
  • Tuesday - Power hour beginner's yoga
  • Wednesday - off
  • Thursday - Beginners yoga
  • Friday - off
  • Saturday - Beginners yoga

August 5th-11th
  • Sunday - off
  • Monday - Beginners yoga
  • Tuesday - Power hour beginner's yoga
  • Wednesday - Intermediate/advanced yoga
  • Thursday - Beginner/intermediate yoga
  • Friday - off
  • Saturday - Beginners yoga

August 11th-18th
  • Sunday - off
  • Monday - Beginners yoga
  • Tuesday - Power hour beginner's yoga
  • Wednesday - Shape's May issue workout Fit in a Flash of 24-minute Blast & Core Challenge.  I wore my heart rate monitor and burned 386 calories in 46 minutes. The workouts took me a little longer since I was confused at first and walked the puppies in between. 
  • Thursday - Beginner/intermediate yoga in the morning
  • Friday - Renew and Restore yoga
  • Saturday - at the gym for a leg day

August 19-25th
  • Sunday - off
  • Monday - Beginners yoga
  • Tuesday - off
  • Wednesday - Intermediate/Advanced yoga
  • Thursday - I went for a small hike and jog at a local park and then went to beginner/intermediate yoga (this one was an amazing class mixed with 15 minutes of restorative yoga!)
  • Friday - off
  • Saturday - hiking Hemlock Cliffs with my hubby & a 'pub' ride at night with friends.  Since Neal is on a new workout, he didn't drink and I only had one beer for the evening, so I will still claim all the cycling as a workout ;)

August 26th - September 1
  • Sunday - at the gym for a 20 minute power run with sprint intervals, and then worked out chest and triceps
  • Monday - Beginners yoga
  • Tuesday - Tone it Up 2 a Days for BeachWeek!  I started with one round of both the Seashells Workout and Cowabunga, then I was still feeling good so I ran 40 minutes, 30 of them with the dogs!  I went to Advance Power Hour Yoga tonight! I FEEL GREAT!
  • Wednesday - AM workout Booty Stepper Workout PM Workout Power Yoga Intermediate/advanced
  • Thursday - AM workouts were 2 rounds of SunKissed Abs and 3 Rounds of Bikini Series Thighs found here at Tone It Up. My PM workout was a 20 minute interval run, also found at the link.
  • Friday -
  • Saturday - First Day of Sept!  Went hiking for about 2 hours.  Covered between 4-5 miles...not sure!

Dinners Aug. 26- Sept. 1

I have said this many time, I LOVE having dinners planned for the week!  It gives my husband and I something to look forward to in the evenings.  Cooking dinners beside him is rewarding in my book.  It gives us time to not focus on work, what events we have to go to on the weekend, and just be ourselves and make delicious, mostly healthy, meals.

This week we are using only meats that we have had frozen so as not to go over our monthly grocery budget.  We had $42 bucks left for this weeks meals. (oops - that means I overspent!)  Luckily, I made it out of the grocery store with about $11 to spare.  Phew!  I went to Aldi and Schnucks and only bought one thing that wasn't on my list, a jar of raspberry jelly.  I couldn't resist when I saw it on sale and checked the ingredients to only find raspberries, concentrated grape juice and fruit pectin (yay for no added cane sugars or fructose!)

On the menu this week:

Meal 1 - Turkey Burgers (see below)
Meal 2 - Fish Taco's
Meal 3 - Spicy chicken with Quinoa (based partially off this Rachel Ray dish)
Meal 4 - Shrimp Stir Fry
Meal 5 - Spaghetti - Neal's will be with marinara and mine with a mixture or spices since I still can't have tomatoes :(

Meal 1 - Turkey Burgers
Neal makes THE BEST BURGERS EVER!  Seriously, no other burger compares.  He puts garlic spices, salt, pepper, oats, siracha sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.  He never measures the ingredients, instead just going by what he 'feels' is the right amount.  These always turn out delicious!

For the turkey burgers, he cooked them on the stove.  If they are beef burgers, he will cook them on the grill.

Since I can't have ketchup (no tomatoes) I decided I would grate up some carrots and combine them with a little honey and balsamic.  I had some coarse ground mustard on the buns and some lettuce for more crunch and some feta cheese for a kick of flavor!


Meal 2 - Fish Tacos
I wanted some veggies to go along with our tacos, so on the stove top, I warmed up some corn, peppers and beans with a little spices.  I put a sliver of butter in another pan, enough to barely coat the bottom.  Then I put my tilapia on that pan and sprinkled seasoning as the fish cooked on one side, flipped, and seasoned again.  Served with sour cream on whole wheat tortillas.

Meal 3 - Spicy Chicken with Quinoa
YUMMY!  We made extras for lunches.
1 C dry quinoa
2 lbs chicken, cut in to bite sized pieces
1.5 T Oil - I used 1 T coconut and .5 T truffle oil
2 peppers (I had yellow and red)
Green chilies (I use the small can)
4 garlic cloves
1 t ground red pepper flakes
1 T Siracha sauce (or other hot sauce)
20 leaves fresh basil
1 T fresh chives
Cook your quinoa according to packaged directions. 
Warm a pan on medium and then add your oil and chicken.  Cook 3-4 minutes or until chicken turns white and is almost all the way cooked. 
Add your peppers, green chilies, garlic, red pepper flakes and siracha sauce.  Turn your stove down to low and let your dish simmer for at least 10 minutes, more if you want more saturated flavor.
Right before serving, add your basil and chives.  Cook until the basil leaves are wilted.
Serve over your quinoa.
I added 2 dollops of organic yogurt to mine so it wasn't as spicy...doctors orders :-/
Meal 4 - Shrimp Stir Fry
Stir fry is one of the easiest meals.  Take frozen veggies and heat them up in a pan.  Cook your shrimp, or take precooked peeled shrimp and add them to the pan once the veggies are thawed.  I like to add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some stir fry sauce.  I don't have a favorite yet and am still looking for a healthier sauce. 
Do you have a healthy stir fry sauce?

Do you enjoy cooking with other people, or are you a solo chef?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Personal Fitness Goals

What defines personal fitness goals for you? Is it benching a certain weight, running a mile in a certain time, doing more reps on abs than you did last time, making it through the whole workout video, holding that pose longer or 'better' than the woman across form you in yoga, getting more goals in your sport of choice than last year/game, perhaps it's running or walking a little further than last week? These were all once goals of mine. I am exceptionally competitive. I don't only compete against others, I compete against myself. This is something I am trying to tone down.

Instead of being so competitive and even hard on myself with my personal fitness goals, I am trying to accept where I am at and look forward to where I could be with patience.

I have started to realize all of this with my past month of yoga practice. I have been going 4-5 times a week after getting a month Groupon pass to Power Yoga. If you have read my blog in the past, you will see me mentioning P90X Yoga a few times because I love the workout so much. The Power Yoga classes are very similar to the P90X Yoga in terms of many flowing movements, rather than holding poses for long periods of time.

Numerous times I have heard our instructor tell us to not compare our practice to those of us around us and to joyfully accept where we are in our individual practice. It's something that can be difficult for me to grasp. My friend, Danielle, who has been going to class with me, has also had to remind me of this message.

I want to hold the pose deeper than someone else. I want to stretch further than the girl across the room. But I simply cannot. For my entire life I have never been exceptionally flexible, I couldn't even touch my toes until doing P90X in 2010. I am stronger and more flexible now than I have ever been in my life, and that's something to be happy about!

I have appreciated this new understanding and insight my yoga instructor has given me. I don't think anything other than happiness and health should affect my personal fitness goals. I will not completely lose my competitive side, but I will make a conscience effort to try not to compare my fitness to another's fitness in a way that can bring me down. I think it's healthy to aim for a fitness goal whether it be a distance, time or rep to hit. I do not think that it's as healthy to compare myself to another person, rather celebrate exactly where I am at today.

I am still going to post about my workouts to inspire you and keep myself accountable.  From these posts though, I don't want anyone to feel they need to compare themselves to where they are at as to where I am at in my life.  I want you to be inspired to wake up a little earlier & workout to get your heart rate going for yourself.   I want you to be inspired to make healthy choices after work to go on a walk, take a class, go to the gym, or do whatever it is that keeps you accountable for your health. 

Go, enjoy your day, and do something that benefits your soul, heart, health, and happiness!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

2 Year Adventure - Viking Assault

I have been so excited to share our two year wedding anniversary adventure, but there's been one small problem, the adventure left me with blurred and painful vision for two days!  So I am just now getting to share the 'fun'!
Post Viking Assault and one rinse!
On Saturday we raced in Viking Assault.  Many of you are probably more familiar with adventure races like Warrior Dash, Muddy Buddy, Color Run, and Urban Dare.  Each of those races seem to be outstanding although I have only tried one.  

Viking Assault is a muddy obstacle course bringing you through a maze in cattle stalls, scrambling up a slippery hill, running through the woods filled with muddy trenches, going over a pit via monkey bars and ropes, climbing over your choice of a 4, 5 or 6 foot wall, hurdling along a gravel path, sloshing through waist deep murky water in one of those massive trash bins and then doing 75 meters of a muddy run or crawl to the finish line. 

The finish line

 Post rinsing off, you get to celebrate with a complimentary beverage, a pig roast, and a concert!

Neal and I liked that the Bud Light truck was parked next to the Swine Barn.  Take out the S & N and it's my kind of fun - Wine Bar!

At the time of the race, we thought our only shortcomings were dirt everywhere including our ears (thank goodness for Q-tips!) a few scrapes and bruises, not a scratched eye.

So where exactly did my scratched eye come into play?  At the end of the race towards the finish line, Neal and I decided to do a belly flop into some muddy water.  Sounds fun, right? We thought so, until Sunday morning came around.  My right eye was in so much pain, I could barely keep it open.  I wasn't sure what was wrong, but even flushing my eye didn't help.  I needed to see an eye doctor ASAP.  On a Sunday, this made my choices slim until I recalled there was a LensCrafters in the mall!  They took me in, found I had 'dug' parts of my eye out in 6-7 places and there was still a small particle they had to get out after numbing my eye.  The doctor and staff were all amazing and got me feeling almost 100% in one day. 

The conclusion on my eye:  This was all the result of a piece of dirt, likely from our Viking Assault belly flop at the end of the race, they think may have gotten into a cavity in my eye and during sleep had moved.  Gross.

So next year, if we do Viking Assault, I think I will wear goggles!

Have you ever done an adventure race?  Ever wanted to try one?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

2 Year Wedding Anniversary

I am very excited to celebrate Neal’s and my two year wedding anniversary!  The past two years have been filled with love, celebration, happiness, adventure, and some trying times.  We have grown so much in our appreciation for one another, maturity, and outlook on life and what the future holds.  I am so very blessed to experience life with Neal!
 This past year we have:
  • made new friends
  • shared new experiences (like climbing a mountain)
  • got a little brother for Sasha (who broke his paw)
  • visited my mom in Florida and went to Disney's MGM/Hollywood Studios
  • laughed, loved and cried together
  • began to grow together in religion
  • constantly learned new things about one another
  • and grew in our love for one another

I want to take a look back at the day that changed our lives forever, our wedding day!

Even though our wedding was before the times of Pinterest, I feel I had a great handle on the DIY and budget savvy ways. 

Instead of having a 'board' to post wedding inspirations, I, like many brides before Pinterest, had links saved and a word document of all my inspiration photos created.
The majority of our wedding consisted of intricate details I put together; we will call these my DIY wedding details.  Some were done by me, some friends and family, and others lovely business owners on etsy.

Some details about the pictures below:
            Hand drawn by a friend and printed at a local print shop (less than $200 with postage!)  She took an image of our hand and drew it out. We used that throughout the wedding

Bridal party flowers
            Hand made by ­­­­Kraft Paper Scissors (I put together the cork board w/ the names of our attendants)

Bridal jewelry
           Handmade by BGBJewlery (etsy)

Bridal party jewlery
            Handmade by JoceyLynn

Ceremony announcement fans
            Designed by me and printed, cut and bound by a company online...looking for the info!

Burlap aisle runners
            Designed and made by my mom and me.  The burlap and petals were cheap.  Burlap bought with a coupon for a small price (can't remember) at Joann's and the petals off of eBay for 2 packages of like 1000 or so petals that came to less than $15 with shipping

Flowers for aisle seats
            Designed and made by me from leftover burlap and some DIY flowers made by me.  These flowers were then gathered and used as my tossing bouquet. 

Bubble tags
            Designed and printed at home and put together by me.  The bubbles were $15 for 100, I bought 200 so that was $30 plus twine I already had and printing from home.

Ring bearer and flower girls
           My pseudo grandmother made the ring barer pillow, and I found baskets at my dads house and put ribbon around them for the flower girls.  That make this part almost FREE.  I also made the girls' flowers in their har.

           The bridal party all arrived by horse drawn carriage.  I am not going to lie, I was totally against this, but finally gave in.  I thought it was to 'fancy' and 'hoaky' for me, but I absolutely loved it and the pictures we got of us and the bridal party.  I used the umbrella so no one could see me on the long carriage ride from the reception barn to the ceremony location.  I bought a cheap umbrella and put big pearls on it that I had found in the scrapbook or sticker section of a craft store.

Wine, box and love letter ceremony
          I found this online by searching for unique wedding ceremonies.  This, again, was before the time of Pinterest.  I found the ceremony wording, but no pictures.  This is how ours turned out!  We also added to this box, letters from our guests with words of encouragement - well wishes.  We have yet to have any trials and have not opened our box, but plan to do so at our five year.  Tradition of this goes, if you are having difficulty in your marriage to open the box and remind each other why you are together and mend what you can in the marriage.  I sincerely hope we do not have to open this until our planned 5 year...3 more years til that!

Heart and arrow
           My mother made this for us and it now proudly hangs on our front door!

Chalkboards for food and messages
          Designed by myself and my bridesmaids see here for more on the making

Flower petal and sparkle strands
           Very easy to make with hemp string, some gems, flower petals and glue dots!

Cake stands from tree stump and cake toppers
           My dad created the stands, I bought the shutters in the back (3 of them for $5 a pop at Goodwill) and spray painted them, then I used a wood burner to make the tops and our caterer decorated the cheescakes as well as provided a cheescake topping station.  We had Cheescake Factory cheescakes from Sam's Club for about $10 each, talk about doing it yummy and on the cheap!

My friend, Emily used the cake stands at her wedding too!  Her sister made the cake and wedding planner, Tiffany, decorated it!  So adorable!

We had GarrityGal on etsy create the Groom Cake topper, I love how Sasha is on it!  I made the sign 'The Honeymoon Awaits'.  GarrityGal is no longer on etsy.

           We bought 200 of these from a company online for less than $1 a piece

Bratton Sign
           On the bar area we had our hand image created into a vinyl by ten23designs for less than $25

Food and Catering
          We had an amazing caterer, this was a friend of a friend who has a business with her family.  We wanted a family style dinner:  one big bowl of salad to share, bread baskets, bowls of salad to share, all at a simple table with visibility of all guests for conversation.  She created all of this, including the table linens, for less than $14 a person!  Now that's a DEAL!

My garters
          Designed and created by me out of ribbon and elastic.  I loved how they turned out! 

And this is probably the best ever picture of our friend catching the garter!

One dress shot
           ...because I love it so much (Melissa Sweet, Larissa)

And the most important detail...getting a husband and friend for life!  I LOVE YOU NEAL!

What are some cost saving or DIY wedding tips you have heard or even have used?