Body Reboost Salad

I don’t know about you but I had a wonderful holiday week.  Actually, it is going to continue a bit this weekend with a little New Year’s celebration.

Admittedly, I overindulged.  I knew what I was doing and I was okay with it at the time.  Generally speaking, I eat very well.  I enjoy eating healthy but also enjoy a little sweetness in my daily routine.  However, I ate a lot and I ate a lot of some not so healthy foods last week.  It was fun.  But now I feel a bit puffy and sluggish.

Nothing feels better after a little overindulging, than to get back on the healthy bandwagon.  One thing that is great for your body and belly is beans.  Beans are a powerhouse of nutritional goodness.

When we walked in the door from a week away, we had very few things in the refrigerator or cupboard.  However, anytime I got to the grocery store and they have a sale on canned goods, I stock up.  Mary loves chili and I love that she is a fan of beans.

I quickly went to town making this “salad.”  I knew she would gobble it up. I also knew that it would fill the rest of us up and leave our bellies feeling a little better.  One thing that happens when I eat a bit differently than normal is that I get horrible heart burn.  Giving your belly a little “reboost” can help to reset your body.

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This recipe is super simple and likely already in your kitchen.  Here are a few benefits of this fun “salad.”

Black beans: are packed full of fiber, potassium, Vitamin B6 and folate.  They are low in cholesterol and heart healthy.

Garbanzo beans:  are high in fiber, protein, magnesium, potassium, and iron.  They are low in fat and calories and again are really great for your heart healthy lifestyle.

Kidney beans: are high in protein, fiber, iron, potassium, maganese, Vitamin B1, and folate.

Corn: is also high in fiber, and a wonderful antioxidant.  Antioxidants help repair damage from cancer causing agents in our bodies.  Chemicals in this vegetable also help improve vision.

Red onions: continue on our healthy eating plan by packing in calcium, folate, thiamine, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamins C, K  and B6.

Our bodies rely on a variety of these minerals and vitamins.  Getting an abundance helps to ensure that we keep our bodies functioning and healthy.

So how do we make this super simple salad?  

Ingredients:

1 can black beans, drained

1 can garbanzo beans, drained

1 can red kidney beans, drained

1 can sweet corn, drained

1 small red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon EVOO

Salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic vinegar (optional)

Directions:

Drain all of the canned vegetables and rinse in a colander.  Chop the red onion and add all ingredients to a bowl.  Toss with EVOO.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  You can also add a little balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar to give a little kick.

I love adding this on top of my green salads.  It also tastes delicious with a little salsa and a dash of cheese.  This is a great one to make a big batch and add to other dishes throughout the week.

Dining Out And Treating People Well

Happy Wednesday!  I hope you had a wonderful weekend (clearly I’m a little slow this week).  We enjoyed a lovely few days of sunny weather, leaf cleaning, running of course, and some family time.

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Shorts in November is the way to my heart!

As new parents, we have been avoiding going out to dinner.  For awhile, Mary was testing her vocal chords and attempting to see how much attention she could get in public.  These days, she just likes trying out her new words and waving/blowing kisses to everyone.  She’s adorable but also a ticking time bomb.  At any moment, we know everything could turn into a nuclear meltdown.

Just over three years ago, Rock and I got married.  Among the lovely gifts we received was a gift certificate to a restaurant.  That card has survived multiple moves and shifts among different bags and wallets.  We finally decided to go out and use that gift as a family and cross our fingers.

At the perfectly hip hour of 5:00pm on a Friday night we arrived for dinner.  It had been a long time since we had been out for a family meal.  I was looking forward to not cooking or cleaning up and also having a nice big fat steak.  It was going to be my splurge night.

Mary had a blast eating our appetizer and coloring with crayons.  It was great.

The couple across from us ate their dinner and had a pleasant conversation.  Then they asked their server to bring over the manager.  Having once worked in the restaurant business, this always piques my interest.  We run a business where customer service and satisfaction are essential.  We both leaned in a little bit to hear what was going on.

One of the patrons at the other table explained to the manager that while they love this particular restaurant, their entree was overcooked and it was not what they were looking for.  The manager kindly mentioned that they finished the entree and asked how they had asked for their meal to be prepared.  The patron responded that they wanted a steak made medium well.

The manager was gracious and didn’t even bother pointing out that a medium well steak might be tough. They were given a new meal to take home and not charged for that entree. We then overheard the customer hand over a gift certificate for three times the price of their dinner.  They asked if they could tip from the gift card and then stated they would be generous and leave the server $2; less than 10% of the cost of the meal.  Let me also note that they mentioned several times to the manager that they had fantastic service.

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Here is where I have an issue: Why would you eat your entire meal and then flag down a manager after you were finished to let them know that your meal wasn’t satisfactory?

Restaurants are in the customer service business.  It is their job to make sure you are having a great experience.  My first job ever was as a hostess of a very nice Italian restaurant.  I am still forever grateful to that company for taking a leap and hiring me.  The general manager was a wonderful man who taught me so much about customer service.  He graciously showed me how to answer a phone in a pleasant and professional manner, and how to deal with multitasking and “difficult” customers.    It is not a surprise to me to see that he is now a top restaurant manager in Las Vegas for a large corporation.

Here is what I learned:  When you go out to eat, your server basically makes no hourly wage.  It works this way because the industry assumes that you the consumer will compensate by tipping.

I know this infuriates some and you say that the restaurants should compensate the server so that you don’t have to.  That is how it works in Europe and other countries.  While that is a great concept, our government has not made that a law.  Employers can pay servers $2 or $3 per hour, meaning servers rely on your tips.

This works in your favor because most servers want your gratuity.  They are going to do everything in their power to give you a wonderful dining experience.  This also means they are freaking out when the kitchen is working slowly or providing you with subpar food.

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Here is what you get:  When you dine at a restaurant, you are paying for the experience.  You are paying to view a menu and choose what sounds good at that moment.  You are paying for someone to call in your order, bring the food to you, clean up, and make sure your drinks are full.  You don’t have to cook, clean, or do the dishes.

There is also a full staff working with your server.  Bartenders, bussers, and assistants delivering food to your table are all part of the team.  Your server often has to share a portion of their tips with all of these people.   So when you stiff their tip, everyone is getting slighted.

Please be patient and considerate when things aren’t perfect.  Sometimes we get bad service.  When this happens, it is important to sit back for a moment and look around.  Does your server have 10 tables and everyone is asking for something or waiting for their meals too?  Is the meal taking a long time?  Remember that your server doesn’t have control over a slow kitchen.  Keep in mind that sometimes a hostess can get a bit hasty and seat too many people in your server’s section at once and they are bogged down or overwhelmed.

I honestly believe that most people are good and they want to do well at their jobs.  Your server is likely not trying to provide you with a poor experience.   They want your tips and want to do well by you.

If you see that they are trying but  very busy, maybe new, or perhaps the kitchen is at fault, please don’t discount the tip.  These people are working very hard and rely on your gratuity.

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My golden rule for going out to dinner is that if we are going to afford paying for drinks and food, we walk in knowing that we are also paying for the gratuity.  If we can’t afford to properly tip, we shouldn’t be dining out.

How do you feel about tipping or dining out?  Have you ever worked at a restaurant?  Do you have a toddler (or other family member…haha) that you fear will erupt at the dinner table?

Blue Apron For The Win

Happy Monday and congrats to all of the runners who had big races this weekend.  I had a blast tracking so many people at multiple marathons.  You guys are all rockstars!

A few weeks ago I saw a coupon code on Facebook (are you following me @runonhealthy?) for $40 off of your first order on Blue Apron.  I had read a few reviews on various blogs and I did a little Googling to see what other’s had to say.  I couldn’t find a bad review, so I decided to give it a try.

How it works:  I simply signed up online and gave them my credit card info plus my $40 coupon code.  Each week that you choose to use Blue Apron, you pick 3 meals to be delivered to you.  Each meal costs $9.99 per person for a total of $59.94 per week for 3 meals for two adults.  Meals are delivered at your door in an ice packed box every Friday.

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Inside the box you will find cards with directions and pictures.  All of the ingredients are also provided except for olive oil, salt, pepper, and water.  Otherwise you receive “knick knack” bags that include all spices and other essentials.

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You can skip weeks or put your orders on hold.  You also can earn free meals to share with friends.

What we got:  The first week we received 3 meals and I gave one of my meals to my brother and sister-in-law to try because we had a busy schedule and couldn’t make everything.  We received the Paprika Shrimp and Cheddar Grits, Spicy Hoisin Chicken Stir-Fry and Sloppy Joe’s.  We shared the Sloppy Joe’s and made the other two meals.

How it went:  The ingredients we received were of excellent quality.  Fresh corn on the cob, beautiful and plentiful shrimp, and perfectly picked produce were stocked in our refrigerator.  I’ve never used tomatillos before and had a blast trying new ingredients and spices.

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The directions were spot on and we were both pleasantly surprised by how delicious the meals were.  Both meals took about 20-30 minutes from prep to finish.  The cards we were provided with had excellent directions along with estimated cooking times and calorie content.

I wouldn’t regularly make grits but having made this once, I will absolutely recreate it again.  I love that we received meals and ingredients we typically wouldn’t make or try.  The stir fry was also of restaurant quality and we saved both recipe cards for later.

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Shrimp and Cheddar Grits

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Spicy Hoisin Stir Fry (you control the spice).

We made a second order:  The first time went so well that I made another order a few weeks later.  This time we received Pork Chops with Spicy Chow Chow, Seared Chicken with Caramelized Vegetables, and Basque-Style Cod.  This time we had three major winners!

I loved the Basque-Style Cod and enjoyed the chance to try freekeh (essentially a young wheat loaded with protein and fiber) for the first time.  The cod was topped with a delicious relish made of chopped parsley, garlic paste, olive oil, and chopped almonds.  The combination of flavors were new for me to use with a fish.  But I will be repeating this one again for sure.

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The Seared Chicken may have been my surprise favorite.  I absolutely loved the homemade, simple mashed potatoes topped with caramelized onion and fennel.  This is the perfect simple dinner to make for family and friends on a winter evening.

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Seared Chicken with Oven Roasted Tomatoes

I mentioned the spicy sweet potatoes that I loved with the pork chops in an earlier post.  You can find the recipe here.  I have made this quick and delicious side several times and love making extra for adding the leftovers to my salads.

The low down:  For about $60 a week you can receive restaurant quality meals delivered to your door.  I believe that for the price of food and delivery, you receive a great deal.  For the moment I have my orders on hold but will continue to order from time to time.

I was not contacted by Blue Apron.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this post.  If you would like to try this service out for yourself they are currently offering 3 meals free on your first order.

Have you ever tried Blue Apron or another meal delivery service?  

Accidentally Delicious Asparagus

I love asparagus.  It’s delicious when prepared properly and so incredibly good for you.  Needless to say, we eat it at many meals.  I am so glad my husband and daughter like it too.

This past Saturday we were getting ready to head out to the lake and Mary and I took off for a quick trip to the grocery store.  The plan was to keep it simple.  The idea was to do easy dinners on the grill and not buy a ton of ingredients or spend a lot of money.

I came across beautiful pork chops that were pre-seasoned and quickly gave my mom a call to see if my parents would like to join us.  The chops were on sale, seven for around $7.00.  All we needed to do was add a few quick sides.  I grabbed a salad kit (I love the chopped kale and brussels sprouts with pepitas and dried cranberries), and some asparagus.  Perfectly simple dinner.

While Rock was grilling the pork chops, I pulled out the asparagus, washed, and then chopped it.  You need to cut the stems off because they are hard and inedible.  Miss that step and you have a huge asparagus fail on your hands!

I looked in the cupboard and realized we didn’t have any spices at the house.  I typically love to throw a few spices with garlic and finish with some shaved parmesan.  But we were out of luck.  I once tried a recipe that called for maple syrup, but we both agreed that we didn’t like the finish of the flavors.

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So I threw something new in the pan and gave it a go.  My mom later told me that when she saw me making this, she was afraid she wouldn’t like it.  But everyone agreed that this was a winner.  This is such a simple and easy side that you can add to any meal.  The best part is that we had a little bit left over to throw on top of salads the next day for lunch.  The combination of vinegar and honey gives a tart and sweet finish all at once and the honey gives a nice caramelized finish to the veggies.

Ingredients:

1 bunch asparagus (rinsed and stems cut off)

Olive oil

1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 tablespoon Honey

Salt (to taste)

Directions:

In a pan, add the asparagus and a small amount of olive oil.  Begin to cook on medium high.  After 2-3 minutes, add in 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon of honey.  Toss to coat and allow to simmer.  The vinegar and honey will begin to caramelize, creating a beautifully sticky coating on the veggies.  Simmer until done (3-5 minutes).  Don’t let it go too long or it will go quickly from caramelized to charred.  Add a touch of salt to taste if you prefer.

Do you like asparagus?  What is your favorite way to prepare it?

“It’s Greek To Me” Chicken Recipe

It has been a long time since I have done a recipe.  But we are finally back in a place where we have a kitchen.  Here at our lake house we don’t have a lot of space, but let me tell you, it is a huge improvement from our tiny studio in NYC.  Let’s just say that there was a lot of take out going on in the Dudek house.

I have a major thing for Mediterranean food.  I am still trying to replicate my favorite beef shwarma.  But the other day I had a hankering for something Greek.  While this might not be a traditional recipe, it was quick and delicious.  Rock doesn’t even like artichokes and he ate every single bite and went back for seconds.  He said this is a keeper.
This recipe is delicious, healthy, and whips up in a snap!  Pics definitely don’t do this one justice, so you might just have to trust me on this one.
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“It’s Greek To Me” Chicken:
Prep: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Several cloves of minced garlic
1 medium sized container of low-fat or nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 small jar pitted kalamata olives
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 small jar sun dried tomatoes
Optional: feta cheese
Directions:
Pour Greek yogurt into baking dish, add in minced garlic and stir.  Chop kalamata olives and add to yogurt with a tablespoon or two of the olive juice from jar.  Slice the sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts and add to yogurt mix.  Stir everything together.  Add chicken breasts and thoroughly coat with yogurt mixture.  Cover and keep in fridge for an hour or up to a add to allow the flavors to really work their magic.
Bake for 30 minutes at 350°F or until done.
Rock suggested topping the baked chicken with feta after it comes out of the oven for a little bit of an added Greek flavor.  I recommend going crazy with the garlic.  For me, the more there is, the better.
We had this with grilled vegetables and it was the perfect healthy dinner!
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Well, then I found this gem in the pantry and had to eat it.  Perfect finish!

Slow Cooked Gingerbread Oatmeal

I love sweets.  It is a serious issue for me.  After I stuffed my face on Thanksgiving and woke up craving gingerbread cookies, I knew I was in trouble.  It was as if my body sensed the holiday season had begun and it was time to start eating cookies.

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A little cookie love from last year.

I wanted to give in but since it was breakfast I set out to find a version I could eat anytime.  However, let me be the first to say that cookies are an anytime food.  I love cookies with coffee for breakfast!

I did a few searches to see if I could make oatmeal that tasted like gingerbread and the results were simply awesome.  I gave it my own twist to make it a little healthier, and also added a little “icing” to my recipe to give it a touch of sweetness.  Put this in the slow cooker on low for four hours and you will have a tasty meal and your home will smell festively fantastic!

Gingerbread Oatmeal

Ingredients:

4 cups of water (I did 3 cups of water and put a cup of apple cider in because it sounded like a good idea and I had it leftover from Apple Cider Margaritas.  For the record, it was a great idea!).

1 cup of oatmeal (go for steel cut)

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

Directions:  

Place all of the ingredients in your slow cooker.  Give it a good stir and set on low for 4-6 hours.

Eggnog Icing:

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons Silk almond milk eggnog (left over from my Spiked Eggnog)

Directions:

Stir the two together to make a paste.  You can add more of either ingredient to get your preferred consistency.  Drizzle a little bit over your oatmeal before serving to get the full gingerbread cookie effect.

Do you love gingerbread cookies?  Am I lazy that I dread making them because of all of the rolling and cutting?!

Slow Cooker White Bean Soup

I have finally accepted that fall is here (although the weather lately isn’t very fall like).  And with that, I had a hankering the past few weeks for bean soup.  Not just any bean soup, I wanted something nice and thick and almost stew-like.  But I also didn’t want to spend a lot of time hanging out over a stove.  So many demands!

So I looked at a few different recipes online and then decided to whip up my own version.  There are oh so many things to love about this recipe.  Not only is it simple and makes your whole home smell fantastic, but it is also very friendly on the budget.  I made this recipe for under $10 and it lasted us for at least six big meals.  This is also a vegetarian recipe with the option to add a little meat too.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. dry white navy beans

6-8 chopped carrots

4 stalks chopped celery

1 large onion diced

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 can tomato paste

Dash of salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon each of dried parsley, basil, thyme

8 cups of water

Optional: Diced pancetta

Directions:

Give your beans a quick rinse.  Add all of the ingredients into your slow cooker and set it for 8 hours on low.  You can speed this up a bit and do 4 hours on high, but I think it is so awesome to let those flavors sit in there and really combine.

This is a great vegetarian/meatless meal.  However, I love the added flavor that ham can bring to a bean soup.  But I am lazy and didn’t want to find a chunk of ham so I grabbed a package of diced pancetta and this was the perfect addition.  I just threw it right into the mix and let the flavors combine.

I also added a little parmesan cheese on top at the end for a nice salty addition.

What other soups do you like to make in the slow cooker?  Are you starting to get in the mood for fall too?

One Pot “Burrito Bowl”

When I was in college this was a recipe staple for me.  I prided myself on making this up and used it for cheap and easy meals and also because it was a great filler yet still quite healthy.  I have since then revamped it thanks to my knowledge of spices and seasoning, which helps to make it even more flavorful.

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As a new mom with a one month old (can you believe that?!) I love this recipe because everything goes in one skillet and from start to finish takes only about 15 minutes maximum.  You can mix and match your favorites and I swear this is a heck of a lot like the burrito bowls you would get at Chipotle.  You certainly can’t beat that.

Double this up and store leftovers in the fridge or freezer and you can get several meals out of this one.

Ingredients:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 can black beans

1 can of corn (or hominy)

1 jar mild salsa

1 packet steam in bag rice

Taco seasonings (I like to use a pinch of chili powder, cumin, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, and Smoked Tomato Seasoning from Spice Merchants and a tablespoon of brown sugar).

Optional: Shredded cheese, plain Greek yogurt, guacamole, cilantro, any other yummy veggies you can think of.

Directions:

Cube chicken breasts and add to skillet over medium-high heat with a tablespoon of olive oil.  In a small bowl combine your seasonings and mix.  Sprinkle over the chicken and allow to cook through and for the brown sugar to caramelize.

Drain the beans and corn and then add to the skillet along with a jar of salsa.  Allow everything to simmer for a few minutes to combine the flavors.

Then some place rice in bottom of a bowl and then top with “burrito mix.”  Top with cheese, guacamole, cilantro and anything else your heart desires.

Side note:  This is a wonderful way to get filling veggies into your diet.  If you are vegetarian this dish would be delicious without meat or with seasoned tofu.  Rock also put his inside a tortilla and had an actual burrito.  Nothing is better than a super simple dinner!

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Mary gives this one a thumbs up!

What would you add to your bowl?

Holy Pesto! Baked Chicken And Fresh Salad With Homemade Dressing

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This blog has been long overdue for a recipe.  It isn’t for lack of wanting to share and there are an abundance of recipes I have ready to post.  Somehow life has just got a bit crazy and we haven’t been home very much lately which means I haven’t been cooking.  Boy did I miss it!  I love cooking so much that when we moved to Chicago my main request was a nice kitchen.  I love to spend time in there trying out new meals and especially desserts.  A few weeks ago I threw this meal together using some of the ingredients we had left in our refrigerator.  It was as big a hit as it was easy.  Even better, it is pretty healthy.  Last night I paired it with a simple green salad topped with my favorite homemade lemon mustard vinaigrette.  I added my usual go to accompaniment of roasted asparagus because I just love its detoxifying qualities.  While the chicken baked I just drizzled the asparagus with a tad of truffle oil and some sea salt and put it in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Pesto Baked Chicken

Ingredients:

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1 package of organic chicken tenderloins (about a half pound to a pound)

Eggs (I used Egg Beaters because it is simple)

Italian seasoned bread crumbs (panko works well too)

Small jar of pesto

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Turn oven to 350º and coat a baking dish with spray.  Side note: I found coconut oil cooking spray at Trader Joe’s and I about started jumping up and down in the store.  Place egg whites and bread crumbs in separate bowls.  Dredge tenderloins in eggs and then in breadcrumbs.  Make sure they are evenly coated and then place in baking dish.

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Place a spoonful of pesto over each tenderloin.  Once you have pesto on each piece of chicken spread the pesto evenly with a spoon.  Don’t do this until you have put all the pesto on the chicken, you don’t want to put the spoon back in the jar once it has touched the chicken because of cross contamination.

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Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Pull the chicken out 5 minutes before it is done and spread cheese over the chicken.  Continue baking until the chicken is done and the cheese has melted.

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Fresh Salad With Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette

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Ingredients:

Fresh salad mix

1 red onion thinly sliced

Goat cheese

1 lemon

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. mustard

(You can also add a bit of minced garlic to this but I forgot it!)

Directions:

Place salad mix and sliced red onion along with a tablespoon of goat cheese on a plate.

Mix together the juice of one lemon, olive oil, vinegar and mustard.  Drizzle over salad.

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We topped our salads with the baked chicken and it was a delicious combination.  This dinner is a great combo of healthy carbs, fresh greens, and healthy protein.  The dressing has just enough healthy fat to help your body absorb the nutrients of the salad but isn’t full of excess fats or calories.

You can have this dinner done in less than a half an hour and it is pretty budget friendly to feed a family, or a small army!  This is a guilt free meal you can have for lunch or dinner.

Finding My Inner Ballerina, and More Cake!

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Today was another freezing day in the Midwest and I spent it inside again.  I was feeling a bit restless and wasn’t in the mood for another yoga class so I decided to do some research and try some new online classes.

The cuter side of Hercules.

The cuter side of Hercules.

My husband and I are going to Aruba in less than 3 weeks and I would like to do some post holiday reining in of the diet and tone up for some beach time.  I have been reading a lot about all of the different barre classes that are offered and figured why not take advantage of my extra free time and turn the kitchen counter into my ballet studio.  Note: you can also use a chair or a dresser as your barre.  I spent some time reading reviews of free online classes that are offered and chose 4 that were highly recommended.  Below are some highlights of the 4 classes I took today.

Barre3 Online Workout Video: Standing Slim:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_IUHHdm7-Q

This was a nice 30 minute workout lead by Sadie Lincoln.  My legs were burning just a few minutes into this video.  She uses a combination of ballet and yoga, although it seems a bit heavier on the yoga than other videos.  To do this class you will want a set of free weights and a small exercise ball (I didn’t have one and it was just fine).

Barre3 will work both your legs and arms equally.  I found this class to be engaging and fun.  I would try it again but I was looking for something a bit more focused on legs.

This video is taped with just the instructor so it feels a bit more one-on-one.  She does a great job of explaining each step and how to properly execute each move.

Barre Concept- Ultimate 20 Minute Barre Exercise Workout:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xzgc-h5ObhA

This class was 20 minutes long and more leg focused than the above video.  Barre Concept is much more ballet heavy leaving my legs burning which is just what I wanted.  Some arm strengthening was involved but not as much as the Barre3.

This video had my heart pumping which was nice to feel like I was incorporating some cardio into this strengthening class.

Barre Concept is taped at a studio in the U.K. and I definitely enjoyed the energetic British teacher who lead this class.  This video is taped with the instructor and 4 other women doing the class.  It worked well, allowing her to show proper technique with the other students as well as modifications for making moves easier or harder.

Ballet Beautiful Lean Legs and Buns:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfP1OG7rs_o

This video was 16 minutes long and done entirely on the floor as a bridge class.  Word of warning, the instructor is truly a ballerina.  When Mary Helen Bowers tells you to stretch, you feel silly because she can pull her legs into the craziest of positions with complete ease.  At the beginning of the video she recommends coming into a simple stretch (pigeon pose) but there is nothing simple how she goes about it.  Don’t be put off by her extreme flexibility and gorgeous ballerina legs…just imagine that’s what you will get after her 16 minute workout!

Ballet Beautiful is heavy on the stretching but I noted that this would be an excellent workout to use as a start to your day.  The light piano music in the background was very peaceful and despite being on your back the entire workout my legs were really feeling it.

This class is filmed with just the instructor.  I thought she seemed very sweet and had great explanations and modifications.

Barre Body- Get a Dancer’s Body:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UG2h8G8p5Wc

This 12 minute workout was good but I noted that it was just ok compared to the others.  What I did like was the instructor mentioned that all classes are based on an interval method to help boost your metabolism.  Barre Body uses a combination of ballet, yoga and pilates which is probably why I enjoyed it the least.  I was mostly looking to find a leg toning ballet concept class but that is not to say that you wouldn’t enjoy this class.

The instructor however, was very engaging and gave great explanations for each step.  I personally just never felt any cardio during the class, nor were my legs getting the burn I was hoping to find.

Cake:

It was so good that is what is left from the cake the night before last.

It was so good! That is what is left from the cake the night before last.

This was not a video, otherwise it would have been marked my favorite.  Yesterday I mentioned that I made Bethenny Frankel’s How Is This So Moist Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze.  A few people asked me about this so I am adding this recipe.  It contains no eggs or butter and calls for oat flour (although I used regular flour because that is what I had) making them gluten free and an option for vegans.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups oat flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup warm water

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º.  Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and stir to combine.  Pour batter into a loaf pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake 40-50 minutes until done.  Once cool cover with glaze.

Glaze ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbsp. canola oil (I used vegetable but I bet coconut oil would rock this)

2 tbsp. soy milk (I used almond)

2 tbsp. creamy peanut butter

2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine and stir, pour on cake and eat!

Side Note:

I still have moments where I am amazed and in love with being in the Midwest.  This is the latest.

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That my friends, is the Chicago style of valet parking.  Apparently when you dig yourself out in the morning you put out a chair or something else to mark your spot and people respect it enough to leave it for you to return.  This amazes me because in New York someone might steal a cab from an elderly woman if she didn’t sprint to hop in.  You gotta love this place!