5 Things Friday

Happy Friday!! I’m heading to the beach later today for an unofficial Tone It Up retreat in Virginia Beach so I am ready for the weekend to start! Before I head out, here are a few things I wanted to share.

fitbit alta pink
1.Have you seen this article about fitness trackers and weight loss? According to the article, fitness trackers don’t help with weight loss. In a small test, the group that wasn’t wearing a fitness tracker lost more weight than the group that did. Personally, I’m skeptical. It was a pretty small study and it doesn’t seem like the researchers even have much of a theory on why that would be the case. I do love my FitBit so maybe I’m biased? What do you guys think?

homemade kombucha diy

2. I’ve been on a kombucha kick this week. We haven’t brewed our own in a while (that photo is from when we brewed some a couple of years ago!) but I’m thinking it might be time to attempt it again. When in doubt, I usually go for GT’s Kombucha. I love the Trilogy flavor as well as the Gingerade one. Have you ever tried kombucha? Do you have a favorite flavor?

blogilates

3. I was taking it easy on workouts last week to give my body a chance to recover from some stuff and I found the Blogilates videos were perfect for a low impact workout! The Pilates-style workouts are easy to do in the living room and there are so many different videos, I can mix and match a bunch of them until my workout is done! If you live in an apartment and can’t do workouts that involve jumping, then you’ll love these!

apple


4. As much as I’m going to miss the summer produce, I’m pretty excited about apple season. I finally bought some Honeycrisp apples and they were worth every penny. But considering how many apples I eat, I might have to switch to a cheaper variety. Do you think Honeycrisp are worth the hype?

spaghetti squash (1)

5. I’ve been pinning fall recipes like crazy! I’m SO ready for soup and comfort food! I’ll still be eating plenty of smoothies and salads but I’m excited to add some hot foods to the mix! I’m planning to make this spaghetti squash lasagna soon, which is one of my favorite fall recipes! What are you pinning these days?

What is your favorite thing about fall?

What I Ate Yesterday

Can someone explain to me how it’s already Wednesday? I have no idea. Let’s just jump right into the food!

toast

Yesterday I was craving all the carbs so I started off with two pieces of Dave’s Killer Bread topped with a little butter. Nothing fancy but it satisfied my appetite! I also had a cup of coffee.

The morning was filled packed with meetings so even though I packed an apple to eat as a snack, I ended up not having time for it. I honestly didn’t even notice my stomach rumbling until noon! So around 12:15 I met up with a few friends in the cafeteria.

work salad

I had this giant salad piled high with veggies, topped with feta, chickpeas, and balsamic vinegar. Plus a few hummus and crackers on the side for good measure.

I ended up doing a decent amount of walking in the afternoon, going to different buildings for meetings. We have a pretty large campus so I was glad I got a few steps in, even if it was kind of gray and rainy out. I packed a few sugar snap peas and tomatoes to snack on in the afternoon.

peas and tomatoes

I only had a handful of each but I snapped this photo before I packed them up!

Once I got home, I had a little cheese while I waited for Alex to come home. Can you tell I’m a snacker?

cheese

I’m kind of obsessed with this Cabot cheese. I tried it a few weeks ago at Wegman’s and I really liked it. It has a nutty, tangy flavor and it’s super satisfying. That held me over until Alex got home from work. (We usually carpool to work but he had a super early meeting!)

I was in the mood for soup since it was kind of dreary out, so I made this Chili Verde with White Beans and Chickpeas. This is one of my favorite weeknight meals! It literally takes 5 minutes to throw together!

white bean and chickpea chili

This totally hit the spot! I also made a salad to eat with the soup since we had some lettuce that needed to be used.

After dinner, I nibbled on a few frozen grapes. Does anyone else love freezing grapes?

frozen grapes

I swear, they taste like candy! Alex doesn’t really like them frozen but I can’t get enough!

What’s your favorite night time snack?

I’m linking up with Laura for What I Ate Wednesday!

Coconut Mango Smoothie

Now that we’re in the middle of September, I thought it would feel a little more like fall. But the temperatures are still high so I’ve kept my smoothie bowls on repeat in the morning. Maybe I’ll switch it up once it starts to cool down but for now, I’ll just keep enjoying this deliciousness.

This coconut mango smoothie is like a tropical paradise in a glass! Blend it up and you've got a healthy breakfast on the go!

It seems like coconut is one of those things that people either love or hate. I personally love it. I love the flavor, I love the texture, and I love the healthy fats and fiber it contains!

If you hate coconut, you might want to try a different recipe. Maybe this peach cobbler smoothie? Don’t worry, we can still be friends. But if you do love coconut, give this recipe a try! I think you’ll love it.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Coconut Mango Smoothie
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • ½ cup ice cubes
  • ½ cup frozen mango
  • ½ cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 scoop coconut protein powder (or sub for vanilla)
  • ½ cup coconut water (or sub for almond milk)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
Instructions
  1. Add the ice, mango, pineapple, protein powder, and coconut water to a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into a bowl or glass and top with shredded coconut.
  4. You can also add additional toppings if you like. I love adding strawberries and chia seeds on top!

mango smoothie ingredients

I used Tone It Up’s Perfect Fit protein powder (they had a limited edition coconut flavor!) but Vega sells a coconut almond flavor and I’ve seen a few others! I’ve also used vanilla whey protein powder in this recipe that works too! It just won’t have quite as strong of a coconut flavor.

This coconut mango smoothie is like a tropical paradise in a glass! Blend it up and you've got a healthy breakfast on the go!

This past weekend was a busy one so thank goodness for quick and easy breakfast! Our weekend started with a trip to Oktoberfest, a 5K on Saturday morning, lunch with my family, another trip to Oktoberfest, game night with friends, a baby shower, and some church activities on Sunday. Can I have a weekend to rest up from the weekend?

Need a quick and easy breakfast? Try this coconut mango smoothie! Packed with protein and NO added sugar, it'll keep you going all morning!

What are your favorite smoothie toppings?

Easy Baked Gigantes (Giant Greek Lima Beans)

The first time I tried a version of Gigantes, it was at Stella’s, an amazing Greek restaurant in Richmond. (If you’re in the area and you haven’t gone yet, you must go.) Ever since I tried them, I kept thinking I should try making them but honestly, I had trouble finding the beans! They’re a little hard to find because they go by a lot of different names. Sometimes they’re called “large butter beans” sometimes they’re “giant lima beans” but basically you’re looking for really big white beans. Clear as crystal, right? (Here’s the kind I found at Kroger’s.)

The good news is, finding the beans is literally the hardest part of this recipe. The rest is simple! These easy baked Gigantes are literally the easiest weeknight side dish or vegetarian main dish.

white beans with tomatoes

Gigantes Greek Lima Beans
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main dish.
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 15oz can large butter beans
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp dried dill
  • ¼ tsp dried parsley
  • salt + pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425
  2. In an oven-safe dish, combine the beans, diced tomatoes, olive oil, dill, parsley, and salt and pepper.
  3. Stir gently to combine.
  4. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Serve with additional dill or feta. Eat with a spoon or with crusty bread.

 

butter beans and tomatoes

Our small group bible study just started up again for the fall season and we do a potluck style dinner together. Across the group we have someone that is gluten free, someone that is allergic to dairy, and me, a vegetarian. Needless to say, it can be a little tricky to think of a dish that satisfies all those restrictions, but this one nails it! If you’re not avoiding dairy, you can add a little feta on top.

white beans with feta

Personally, I liked it best just plain and simple! It’s especially good with a chunk of crusty bread on the side. That way you can get every drop of the sauce!

Gigantes is a Greek Lima Bean dish that uses giant butter beans for a satisfying vegetarian main dish or side dish! It's gluten free, vegan, and packed with protein and fiber!

 

Have you ever had these giant white beans?

What I Ate: A Day In the Life

I thought I’d do a little day-in-the-life style posts because I haven’t done one of these in awhile!

6:41- My alarm goes off and I hit snooze. I’ve been sleepy lately and I don’t really know why. I’d blame the weather changing but it actually still feels like summer.

6:55- I finally roll myself out of bed and go wash my face. I don’t have a picture of me rolling out of bed.

7:00- I put on some makeup and run a brush through my hair. I have a pretty simple routine, so nothing fancy. 99% of my make up was either given to me or recommended to me by Christina.

7:30- I head downstairs and make breakfast. I’m craving a smoothie bowl but I’m out of all my frozen fruit except for blueberries. So I settle for a bowl of Greek yogurt, berries, and granola. It’s pretty satisfying.

I read a few blogs and browse Pinterest while I eat. It’s a very soothing routine.

7:50- I decide to touch up my hair with the curling iron before heading out. This turns out to be a bad idea because I’m engrossed in a podcast and not paying attention to the curling iron. I grab the wrong end and burn my entire hand. This hurts. But I finish curling my hair.

8:00- We head out the door and I ice my hand while Alex drives us to work. At this point, it’s pretty red and swollen. I start to get worried.

8:30- I answer a bunch of emails and get a cup of coffee. Then I get nervous that my hand is going to fall off, so I run over to the health center at work. Luckily we have doctors and a pharmacy on campus so within a few minutes, they’ve given me some sort of ointment, wrapped up my hand, and I’m on my way. It finally stops hurting and I’m no longer nervous that my skin is going to fall off.

9:00-Back to emails and meetings. I usually have a snack in the morning but the day goes by really fast and I don’t even have time to think about it. The next few hours are just spent in meetings.

lunch
12:00- I head down to the cafeteria with a few friends and grab lunch. I’m starving so I make a giant salad piled high with veggies. I also have some pita bread on the side but it didn’t make it into the picture. This salad tastes so good and it totally fills me up.

1:00- The afternoon is filled with more meetings, more emails, more phone calls. No surprise there! But my job is really fun so the afternoon goes by fast.

4:00- My stomach starts to rumble so I grab a mini larabar for a snack.

larabar

5:00- We leave work and head to my grandma’s place! It’s my grandma’s very first day in Richmond. (She literally just moved here!) So we head to her place to get her all settled in. The place is really nice and everyone is so friendly!

5:30- We do a little unpacking and then have dinner. I had a giant fruit plate with some cottage cheese.

dinner

The fruit is so fresh. There’s nothing better than ripe fruit!

dessert
Alex and I also share a giant peanut butter & chocolate bar with some chocolate chip ice cream. It’s hard to see in the picture but it had two laters of peanut butter and a thick layer of chocolate! Soooo yummy.

8:00- We finish up all the moving stuff and play with my nephews at my grandma’s house. It feels kind of surreal to have my whole family in one place again!

8:30- Once get home, I’m kind of tired but I roll out my yoga mat and do a quick workout. It’s nothing too strenuous but it’s nice to get in a toning workout!

9:30- I’m so tired so I crawl into bed and read until Alex is ready for bed, too. I’m currently reading Richmond’s Unhealed History. The title is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s all about the back story of Richmond. It’s kind of sad but it’s really interesting to read about. Alex has already read it so I’m trying to catch up.

10:30- Alex comes to bed and it’s lights out! I used to be a night owl but now I’m usually tired by 10pm. Our sleep was a little thrown off over the weekend because of a late night at a wedding, so we’re still playing catch up! I’m trying to get back to earlier mornings.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

I’m linking up with Arman for What I Ate Wednesday!

Lightened Up Zucchini Bread

Can we just take a moment to appreciate how versatile zucchini is? It can be spiralized into noodles, sliced into fries, or blended up into muffins. Sweet? Yes. Savory? Yes. Healthy? Of course. Is there anything it can’t do? (Ok fine, I’m sure there are some things it can’t do.) Another bonus? It’s easy on the budget. I know healthy foods can start to get expensive so zucchini is a nice budget friendly way to get in some extra veggies.

Anyways, let’s talk about this lightened up zucchini bread recipe! I was craving zucchini bread but when I did a quick search online for a recipe, I found bread recipes that were loaded with canola oil and refined sugar. Ugh! I wanted something that would satisfy my sweet craving but if I wanted to eat something full of fat and sugar, I’d go for ice cream, not zucchini bread. Ya know?

low calorie zucchini bread

So I jotted down a couple of recipes that looked good and then I tweaked and tweaked (while plugging everything into a nutritional calculator) until I got something that I’d actually feel good about eating. If you slice up this loaf into 12 slices, each slice will be about 140 calories. It could be a little more if you add extra chocolate chips or walnuts but at least you’re starting at a good place!

low calorie zucchini bread

Low-Cal Healthy Zucchini Bread
 
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Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1½ tsp vanilla
  • 1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
  • Optional mix-ins: chocolate chips, raisins, or walnuts.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. If your zucchini is really wet, press it slightly to remove some of the water. You should end up with 1 cup of loosely packed shredded zucchini.
  3. Combine the zucchini with the coconut oil, maple syrup, egg, yogurt, and vanilla.
  4. Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  5. I added in ¼ cup mini chocolate chips at this point!
  6. Spray a 9x5 pan with non-stick spray. Pour in the batter.
  7. Sprinkle with brown sugar on top, if desired.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for the loaf to cool before you slice it. I couldn’t wait more than 5 minutes but it’s really best if you can wait an hour or so.

This lightened up zucchini bread is lower in calories, sugar, and fat but full of flavor!

Look at those little zucchini flecks! And those chocolate chips of course… Alex and I both enjoyed a slice of warm bread on Sunday afternoon. It was a nice little snack!

This lightened up zucchini bread is lower in calories, sugar, and fat but full of flavor!

 

What’s your favorite way to use zucchini?

Basil Pesto Hummus

Have you ever been to Zoe’s Kitchen? It’s kind of a fast-casual Mediterranean style restaurant and I’m obsessed with their basil pesto hummus. Then it occurred to me… why not make my own? So after a few attempts, I finally came up with a recipe that will satisfy my basil pesto hummus cravings! And the best part is, it’s pretty easy to whip up!

basil hummus recipe

Here’s the thing: If you want a super creamy, silky hummus… the trick is to peel the chickpeas. I know that probably sounds crazy but you basically just pinch the chickpeas between your thumb and middle finger and the skins pop right off. It only takes a few extra minutes but it really does make a difference. If you don’t want to do that step, I’ll forgive you. I’m lazy, and I get it. But if you really want a hummus that will knock your socks off, try it.

basil pesto hummus mixed

 Basil Pesto Hummus

5.0 from 1 reviews
Basil Pesto Hummus
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas, drained, reserving ¼ cup of the liquid from the can
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ tsp salt (or to taste)
Instructions
  1. Drain the chickpeas but reserve ¼ cup liquid from the can
  2. Peel the chickpeas by pinching them between your fingers until the skin pops off. Discard the skins.
  3. Put the chickpeas, liquid, basil, olive oil, garlic cloves, vinegar, and salt into a food processor.
  4. Blend until smooth.
  5. When serving, you can add a little olive oil or basil on top.

I’ve gone through three basil plants this summer (every time we’re out of town… it doesn’t survive) so I’ve been working really hard to keep this new one alive! Fresh basil just smells so amazing. You could try to substitute dried basil in this recipe but I can’t promise how it’ll turn out. Sometimes you just need the fresh stuff!

basil pesto hummus

I had mine with cucumbers and carrots but it would also be good scooped up with pita chips, massaged into a kale salad as a dressing, or eaten with a spoon. This basil pesto hummus is packed with flavor. I might have to make another batch this weekend!

This basil pesto hummus recipe is a Zoe's Kitchen Copycat! It's perfect with raw veggies & pita or on top of a salad!

Looking for a more traditional pesto recipe? Try this easy basil pesto!

What’s your favorite kind of hummus?

Follow along: Bloglovin // Twitter // Instagram // Pinterest // Facebook

Sweetest Stitch Boutique

I’m so excited to share this post with you because I’m doing something a little different today! I tend to be behind the camera (and next to the stove… or climbing on a chair, depending on the angle) not in front of the camera. So while this is a little out of my comfort zone, I’m glad I did it!

IMG_6938-1

Let me introduce you to Sweetest Stitch! They’re an online boutique and the owner, Niki, lives here in Richmond. I met her at a blogger meet up in DC and she’s so nice. I’d seen Megan styling some of their pieces on Instagram so I was excited to browse the shop and pick out an outfit! How cute is this loveable lace dress? They have tons of different styles and they’re all pretty affordable! You can read more about their story here. I love the background of how Niki started the boutique!
Sweetest Stitch

What you can’t see is the 100 degree temperatures when we were doing this shoot! Thankfully, this dress kept me cool! When I first slipped it on, I couldn’t believe how comfortable it was- just the right blend of structure and stretch. I could live in this dress! I’ve worn it to brunch at a friends house, out to dinner, and with a blazer over it for work. It’s so versatile!

IMG_6949-1

I’ve honestly had trouble figuring out what exactly my “style” is but I really love the vibe of all the clothes from Sweetest Stitch. I felt so good in this dress!

It was also a great chance to meet up with other local Richmond bloggers.  I’d met some of these girls in person before but others I’d only know through the ‘gram! The blogging scene in Richmond is pretty amazing. I’m so happy to be a part of this network! You can see us having just a little bit of fun in this video:

Make sure you check out the other blogger to see their style picks!

I’m already finding inspiration from their blog posts & Instagrams!

How would you define your style?

Current Favorites

On Friday I shared some of my recent grocery favorites but today I thought I’d switch it up and share some of my favorites outside of the kitchen!
labor day favorites

FitBit Alta

fitbit alta pink

Alex got me the Alta for my birthday and I love it. I had the Charge HR before which was great but I like how much smaller the Alta is and the interchangeable bands are nice. He got me the pale pink leather band which I wear 99% of the time. I also have the basic black band and a purple band which is nice to have when I’m running or working out. The features of the Alta are pretty similar to what I had, but I might write a whole post to compare them in case you’re in the market. But bottom line, I love this one. Here’s my original post outlining The Pros and Cons of the FitBit Charge HR.

Tieks

tieks

I spent hours researching the most comfortable flats. Since I’m obsessed with my FitBit (obviously) I walk a lot. Our campus at work is pretty big and we have treadmill desks that I can use during the day so it wasn’t unusual for me to get almost 10K steps, just at work. Unfortunately, I was starting get tendonitis in my foot and I think it was largely due to the amount I was walking I was doing in flat sandals with no support. I finally decided it was worth investing in a nice pair of flats and these Tieks are perfect. They’re definitely a splurge but considering how much I walk, I think they’re worth it.

tieks two

Essie Gel Polish

nail polish

I know gel polish has been around for a while but I love the new Essie Gel Polish which doesn’t require any sort of light or special remover. It doesn’t last as long as professional gel polish but I can usually go a week with minimal chipping. I love being able to do it myself and I can always just give it a quick touch up during the week if I need to. I’m wearing the shade “Model Citizen” in the above photo. I like it because it’s bright enough to show but light enough that chips aren’t as noticeable.

Alright, time to go get ready for a little Labor Day brunch! I’m making these vegan chocolate avocado muffins and I’m currently trying not to eat them all before I leave!

What are some of your recent favorite things?

Summer Grocery Favorites

You guys know I looooove the grocery store. I’d much rather browse the grocery shelves than clothing racks. Not sure what that says about me… but I can’t resist trying new products! I’ve tried some great ones and some not-so-great ones this summer so I wanted to pop in and share a few of my favorites! None of these are sponsored and there are no affiliate links or anything. I just wanted to share some of the winners so you can try them for yourself!

summer grocery finds

food favorites

 

one//two//three//four//five

 

  1. Warning: These cheddar crackers from Simple Mills are addicting. But you won’t eat the whole box in one sitting because they’re made with almond flour so they’re not just empty cards. Upgrade your cracker game and give yourself a satisfying combo of healthy fats + protein. The texture is a little different than a standard cheese cracker but I found it to be really tasty! P.S. These are gluten free!
  2. Ready for the easiest recipe ever? Get one jar of this Masala Simmer Sauce from Trader Joes and combine it with cooked red lentils. DONE. Seriously, that’s it. This is one of my go-to easy dinners when I just don’t feel like cooking and a freezer meal isn’t going to cut it. I usually cook up 1 cup of dry lentils and use half the jar of sauce and that’s enough for Alex and I!
  3. Ok, french fries might not be the healthiest thing on the menu but these crinkle cut fries from Alexia blew me away. They were crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. Plus, there’s something so nostalgic about crinkle cut fries, am I right? When you really need your french fry fix, bake up a handful of these and enjoy them with your veggie burger. Sometimes you just need to indulge a little!
  4. If you’re looking for a “clean” protein bar, look no further. These Rx bars sort of remind me of Larabars, but they have a lot more protein! The package literally tells you what’s in there, so you know exactly what you’re getting. I have a few of these in my desk for when hunger strikes. The chocolate sea salt is my favorite flavor that I’ve tried so far!
  5. Rao’s Tomato Basil pasta sauce isn’t new and I’ve been buying it for years but I just have to remind you how delicious this pasta sauce is. When I was heating up a jar last week, I found myself literally eating it by the spoonful. It’s thick, flavorful, and made with high-quality ingredients so it has a great taste without added sugar. It also has big tomato chunks in there which I love. Honestly, it’s good on any pasta (including zucchini noodles!) but I would literally eat it out of the jar.

Have you tried any good foods recently?