Weekend Adventures

I haven’t done much of a “life catch up” on here in awhile so I thought I’d show you what we were up to this weekend!

Friday night, we went to Christina’s birthday party where I’m pretty sure I saw half of Richmond. (Including fellow blogger Whitney!) It was fun catching up with so many friends!

Christina's birthday party

Saturday was jam packed. I had to get up early because I had a little segment on ABC 8 here in Richmond! I did a quick segment about packing a healthy lunch. I was a little nervous since live TV sounded a bit scary but everyone at the studio was so nice and it was easy to talk about vegetables!

photo 3 (9)

You can see the clip here:

photo 4 (9)

After the show, Alex and I ran some errands (i.e. went to Lowes and Kroger) and stocked up on a few groceries and I took a quick walk to Carytown.

Once we got back, we headed over to Adrienne’s fantastically Floridian birthday party which involved a pool and pina coladas. Enough said.

photo 2

This was actually my first pina colada ever. What was I waiting on? This was delicious. P.S. Adrienne is the one who makes these awesome paint by numbers kits! You can see my colored pencil attempt here.

We went straight over to Aricka’s birthday party where we spent the evening hanging out with family and friends. Honestly, I didn’t have a chance to snap a picture of the party because I was too busy hanging out with the little ones! My contribution to the food was this Skinny Spinach Dip recipe.

skinny greek yogurt spinach dip

Hint: It’s made with Greek yogurt!

I did snap a picture of her gift before I wrapped it.

Spiral slicer

Because obviously, if you love someone, you get them a spiralizer.

Weekends like this make me so happy to live in this city filled with so many friends and family! The summer is going by quickly, but we’re making the most of it!

What did you do this weekend?

FitBit Charge HR: Pros & Cons

I got a FitBit a few months ago and I love it. (Ok, Alex would probably say I’m a little obsessed with it.) I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to tracking and quantifying health related things, so it’s not too surprising that I fell in love with it quickly.

FitBit recommendations

My dashboard keeps me motivated during the day!

Since I’ve had it for a little while, I thought I’d share the pros and cons of the FitBit Charge HR!

Pros and cons of a FitBit Charge HR

Pros of the FitBit Charge HR

It’s a great motivator! Actually, it’s almost crazy how motivating it is. (I think at one point Alex had to remind me that steps still count even if they’re not tracked with the FitBit…) I love hitting my step goal and it was one of the reasons I was so excited about my DIY Treadmill Desk!

The silent alarm is a nice way to wake up. It vibrates in the morning to wake me up a minute or two before my alarm. It’s a nice way to start the day, rather than relying on a jolt-you-out-of-your-sleep-siren noise.

The challenges are a fun way make it social. My coworkers and I have had more than one “Work Week Hustle” challenge which tracks everyone’s steps Monday-Friday. Maybe I’m just competitive… but I think it’s a fun way to keep each other accountable!

I actually like having a watch. That probably sounds silly but I’ve never worn a watch before so having the time on my wrist is handier than I thought. That’s not a reason to buy one of these but I’ve found it’s kind of nice!

Fitbit challenges

Challenges with friends and coworkers are a good way to stay motivated!

 

Cons of the FitBit Charge HR

Sometimes I love it a little too much. I get a little crazy if I don’t get my 10,000 steps for the day. I know that it’s more about the overall trends rather that one specific day but… I get kind of disappointed if I can’t hit my goal!

It doesn’t track all my steps. If I’m pushing a cart, for instance, the steps won’t register (because my wrist is still) so it’s not always accurate. It’s not a big deal, but it’s a bummer when I use my treadmill desk because it doesn’t count all those steps when I’m typing!

It’s not exactly discrete. Since it’s on my wrist and it’s not very small, it stands out a bit. I’m so used to it by now that it doesn’t bother me, but one day I’ll look back at this period in my life and laugh that I have it on in every single picture.

Overall, I’m really happy with it! I had a fitness tracker about 4 years ago but back then, the technology was pretty poor, you had to manually plug it into the computer to get a read, and it was even less discrete than the wrist band (if you can believe it).  It’s pretty cool to see how far these things have come in just a few years! If you like being able to track your steps, calories, and sleep, I definitely recommend it!

Have you ever worn a fitness tracker?

(Mostly) Sugar Free Meals (Week 4)

After a few weeks of no sugar (except for the occasional piece of fruit) I’d say we’ve started sort of adding sugar back in. Still just in the form of fruit, but there’s a little more fruit going on now. The crazy thing is, I swear grapes tasted sweeter than I remember. Maybe it’s in my head? I don’t know. But anyway, I wanted to do a quick recap of meals for What I Ate Wednesday (or in this case, Saturday):

We woke up weirdly early. I’m talking like 6:15am early. That’s not unusual for a weekday but we typically sleep in until around 7:30 on the weekends. It was kind of awesome being up early though because we got so much stuff done. I started cleaning the house and got the lawn mowed before I finally sat down to some breakfast and coffee!

breakfast yogurt

Typical plain Greek yogurt and berries. I also added some coco nutty granola on top. The recipe is from the I Quit Sugar cookbook and it is fantastic! It’s “sweetened” with a bit of brown rice syrup but sweet might be a stretch ;) Still, it’s delicious and I love the crunch it adds to my breakfast! If you love coconut, definitely give it a try.

After breakfast I hit the grocery store. I think early morning Saturday grocery shopping might be my new thing. I usually just order groceries from Relay Foods online but if I have to go to the grocery store, early morning is where it’s at. No lines, no crowds, just a quiet peaceful store. YES.

Once we finished up our to-do list, my brother, sister in law, and nephews came over for lunch. It was SO fun having them over and I was glad I got to cook for them! I made channa masala with rice and naan and I finally didn’t make it too spicy for Alex ;) #iheartcayenne

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After lunch, we did the last bit of cleaning and got our TV mounted over the fireplace. Soon after, I was back in the kitchen, playing around with some homemade Larabars. Larabars are actually one of the few snack bars that don’t have a laundry list of ingredients so I have no problem eating them, but it’s a little cheaper to make them at home and I like being able to make mini bars.

easy homemade larabars

I made these with just almonds and dates! Doesn’t get much simpler than that. It seems like most recipes online recommend a 1:1 ratio of nuts to dates but it tasted too sweet to me so I added slightly more almonds. I wrapped each of these individually so we can grab them on the go! Obviously, I had to taste test one of these…

Once dinner rolled around, I wasn’t in the mood to do much more cooking since we were having people over later so I didn’t want to dirty up the kitchen again. We decided on a pretty easy dinner of kale salad and Trader Joe’s macaroni and cheese. I made this spicy kale salad recipe which is so easy and delicious. (Kale cancels out the macaroni and cheese, right?)

kale salad with chili pepper

After dinner, we had some friends over to play games which resulted in a hilarious round of Heads Up. If you haven’t played it, it’s worth downloading the app! I snacked on some chips and salsa between games with a little white wine. Not a bad way to end the day!

tortilla chips snack

For more sugar free posts, check out these:

Do you like sweet treats or salty snacks?

Fruity Chia Smoothie

This fruity chia seed smoothie is packed with protein, fiber, and healthy fats! Although it has no added sugar, it still tastes like a sweet treat!

Since Alex and I are on this no-added-sugar kick, fruit has been the only source of sweetness we’ve really had. That probably sounds a little sad (no fro yo!?) but it’s actually been way easier than I thought. The other benefit? Fruits naturally taste sweeter than they did before!

So while we haven’t been eating many “sweets”, the things we are eating are sweeter than ever! So when a craving does hit me, I usually reach for some berries. They’re perfect for a smoothie because it’s easy to keep a bag of berries in the freezer and they’re still a low-sugar fruit. So while I’m giving up Sweet Frog… I’m still enjoying fruity treats!

healthy smoothie with chia seeds

5.0 from 2 reviews

Fruity Chia Smoothie
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup almond milk (I used unsweetened plain Almond Breeze)
  • ¼ cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries (mine were blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and cherries)
  • ½ cup ice
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
Instructions
  1. Add everything to the blender and blend until combined!
  2. You can use fresh berries if you don’t have frozen ones on hand, but your smoothie won’t be quite as thick and chilled.
  3. If you don’t have chia seeds, this smoothie will still taste the same, but the chia seeds add a nice kick of healthy fats and fiber!

Fruity berry smoothie with almond breeze

I’ve been known to eat this for breakfast… or dessert. It seriously tastes like a fruity sorbet! I think we’re going to start eating more fruits this week, but we’re still avoiding added sugars.

berry chia smoothie close up

For more sugar free posts, check out these:

This “Easy as Breeze” post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk. For more “Easy As Breeze” recipes made with five ingredients or less, visit Blue Diamond Almonds on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

Sugar Free Chocolate Truffles

We’ve been “sugar free” for a few weeks now and my sugar cravings have subsided a lot but every once in awhile, I just want some chocolate. So after being inspired by  this recipe from the I Quit Sugar website, I decided to make my own version. Admittedly, these are not necessarily sweet. If you have been eating sugar on the regular then you might want to add a little sweetner. To me, they honestly tasted chocolate-y but I think if your tastebuds are used to something sweeter, you may want to add something. I Quit Sugar would recommend a tablespoon of brown rice syrup but maple syrup or agave would work, too. 

dark chocolate sugar free truffles

5.0 from 1 reviews

Sugar Free Chocolate Truffles
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • ¼ cup unsweetened protein powder, plus extra for dusting
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Sweetener to taste (optional)
Instructions
  1. Melt the coconut oil and almond butter in a small bowl.
  2. Add the vanilla and stir until combined.
  3. If you want to add a sweetner, stir it in here. You could use 1 tbsp maple syrup or a few drops of liquid stevia. I didn’t add any extra but if you’re used to eating sugar, you’ll want to add a little something.
  4. Stir in protein powder, cocoa powder and salt.
  5. Pop it into the freezer for a few minutes until it hardens a bit.
  6. Shape into small balls and roll in cocoa powder to coat.
  7. Store these in the freezer!
  8. It should make about 10-12 balls. They’ll have around 120 calories each.

i quit sugar recipe ideas

Alex thought these tasted a little bitter, since I didn’t add any sweetener to ours, but I loved them! With a pinch of stevia or a bit of honey, I’m sure these would taste plenty sweet for anyone. I’m going to make another batch of these to store in the freezer for when a chocolate craving hits. These are packed with healthy fats and protein!

Craving more healthy chocolate? Try one of these:

chocolate zucchin muffins

Double chocolate zucchini muffins

healthy cookie dough bites

Healthy Cookie Dough Bites

We haven’t decided how long we’re going to continue this sugar free thing but I think we’ll give it another week or two. I don’t feel super different although I do think I’ve had more energy in the afternoons!

We’ve got a busy weekend ahead so I’m glad it’s Friday! We might try to tackle a few house projects but I think it’ll be a social activity kind of weekend. Those are my favorite kind of weekend. ;)

Do you like dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

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

Sugar Free Meals (Week 3)

We’re wrapping up our third week of a sugar-free “detox” which basically means we’re avoiding any added sugar and cutting back on our fruit intake. It’s been an interesting journey so far. I’d say my sugar cravings have subsided a lot but I can definitely still feel it right after lunch and late at night. (Since gum has artificial sweetener in it, I’ve cut that out too. That one has been harder than I thought!) So let’s talk about what I am eating:

breakfast greek yogurt and berries

Breakfast was Greek yogurt with berries. For the first 2 weeks, I didn’t use stevia, but I’ve started slowly adding it back in, just a bit. I didn’t want to lean on stevia too much since I’m trying to retrain my tastebuds so I added just a few drops. After eating plain Greek yogurt for a while, it really did taste pretty sweet!

healthy sugar free lunch

For lunch, I packed an Amy’s burrito and some veggies with hummus. The Amy’s burrito and the Sabre hummus are two brands that didn’t have added sugars. (Well, not in these two particular items.) It was actually kind of hard to find hummus that didn’t have added sugar. I ate this lunch at my desk during a meeting. So glam.

blue diamond almonds

As I mentioned on Monday, nuts have been my best friend! They’re such an easy snack. I have been trying to cut down on sodium a little, since salt is the natural craving if I’m not having sugar and I didn’t want to go overboard. These low sodium nuts were perfect! I just keep the can at my desk so I can grab a handful when I start to get hungry!

After work, I met up with Kate and Lindsay for a glass of wine at Travina Wine Bar. I’d never been there before so I was excited to check it out! Plus, I hadn’t caught up with these too ladies in a while.

travina wine bar

Is there anything better than chatting with girlfriends over a glass of wine? No, there isn’t. Kate and I split some Burrata cheese that was delicious.

veggie-bowl

Since I was getting home a little late, I picked up a burrito bowl from Chipotle. Alex and I split this with some chips and salsa. This was brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, corn salsa, tomato salsa, guacamole, and lettuce. SO GOOD.

All in all, it was a pretty delicious day. I was so full after eating Chipotle that I didn’t even need a night time snack!

For more sugar free posts, check out these:

What’s your go-to snack?

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

Sugar Free Traveling

Alex and I went to Southern Ohio this past weekend for a family reunion. It was so much fun spending time with my parents plus my extended family! It was also a great excuse to test out my selfie stick for the first time. 

Maybe a little blurry but I’d call it a success.

Alex and I decided to keep up our little sugar free experiment through the weekend and I definitely learned a few things about traveling sugar free:

sugar free traveling

Nuts were my new best friend. We packed almonds, pistachios, cashews, and peanut butter with us and we ate these often. They’re portable, tasty, and actually kept us full. (They were also one of the few healthy snacks that didn’t require refrigeration.)

It’s easy to eat too much salt. Any snack that isn’t sweet is probably pretty salty. We ate a lot of popcorn. We also snacked on pretzels… which are basically empty carbs and probably not much better than sugar. Whoops! We did eat a few clementines and things like that, but we were trying to keep our fructose low so it meant we ate lots of salty snacks.

Eating out is impossible. Ok, not impossible. If we were in Brooklyn or San Fransisco, they’d probably have some paleo cafe with quinoa, kale, and no added sugar but when you’re in the middle of no where in Ohio, your options are limited. Sometimes pizza was our only vegetarian option and there was probably a bit of sugar in the dough and sauce but I wasn’t about to interrogate the server. We had to make some unintentional compromises but we avoided sugar when possible.

I turned down a lot of sugar. Cookies, cake, milkshakes, chocolate, crackers…. And I also realized that I don’t even care for things like french fries if I can’t have ketchup, so I ended up making healthier choices because of that, too. It made me realize how often we’re offered sugar!

 

I think we’re going to keep this sugar free experiment up a little longer but we’ve already learned a lot about sugar free grocery shopping and sugar free cooking!

Sugar or no sugar, this weekend was awesome! Not only did we have fun catching up with family, but one of my cousins had a surprise wedding! They set up a simple ceremony and my great uncle performed the wedding. It was awesome! Definitely a fun weekend! For more sugar free posts, check out these:

Did you do anything fun this weekend?

My DIY Treadmill Desk

Last weekend was full of house projects and random things on our to-do list, but let’s talk about the best part: Alex built me a treadmill desk.

DIY cheap treadmill desk

Yes, a treadmill desk!

I’ve been dreaming of one of these for a while, since I hate spending any more time than I have to sitting at the computer. Having a day job at a desk and a hobby that requires a lot of computer time means it’s easy to spend the whole day sitting. This little treadmill desk means I can get steps and work on the computer! I’m seriously thrilled!

Easy DIY Treadmill Desk

We ordered this treadmill from Amazon a couple of weeks ago and it arrived on Thursday! It was quite a workout getting it up the stairs, but it only took about an hour to get it all set up.

basic treadmill

It’s currently in the guest bedroom although the future plan is to move it into the sunroom. We’re squeezing it in by the bed for now!

We picked out the wood from Home Depot on Friday morning and by Friday night, I was walking and typing at the same time. We were originally planning to use oak for this but particle board was lighter so we thought it might be easier to take it on and off. We got a sheet (it was about 2′ x 4′ x 1/8″) and Alex made the cuts with our table saw. He measured around the handles in order to build a box around the sides, to make the tabletop more stable. Every treadmill is slightly different, so you’ll have to take measurements for your specific treadmill, but here’s the basic outline of how Alex did it:

Treadmill desk plans

  •    For the top two pieces, measure the width of the treadmill arms, plus about 1/2″ extra (since the arms will have to go over the sides.) Basically the extra has to be 2x the thickness of the board you’re using. So if your board is 1/4″ thick then it needs to be 1/2″ longer than the treadmill width. 
  •    You’ll want to cut these first, since these are the two largest pieces. These will be stacked on top of each other, to make sure the desk is thick enough.
  •    Next, cut 2 “arm bottoms” from the scrap wood leftover from one of the top pieces
  •    Then cut the four “arm sides” from the scrap wood leftover from the other top piece.
  •    The rest of the wood, shown above in grey, will likely just be leftover wood. Alex used some of this scrap wood to continue to reinforce the desk, but you may or may not need it.

Here’s a close up of how the side pieces fit around the handle of the treadmill:

treadmill corner

Obviously, it is easier to do this with a table saw and a nail gun but you could probably still try it with a hand saw and some screws, it just might take a bit longer.

The trick was, everything had to be pretty exact for it to slide on and off properly. It’s seriously perfect! And it only cost about $10 to build this desk on top of the treadmill!

Would you work on a treadmill desk?

Sugar Free Meals (Week 2)

Alex and I have been on a “no added sugar” kick for a couple of weeks now. We haven’t been super strict (meaning, the bread at a restaurant could have a pinch of sugar in it but we’re not going to interrogate our waiter over it) but we’ve followed it as close as we can. We didn’t give up fruit entirely (as recommended in the I Quit Sugar book) but we are trying to limit our fructose and I’m mostly sticking to berries and grapefruit as my fruit options.

So let’s take another look at some sugar free meals! This was my day of eating last Thursday.

breakfast yogurt

Breakfast was plain Greek yogurt with berries. I was honestly almost scared to eat Greek yogurt without stevia or any sweetener but it actually wasn’t too tart. The berries helped give it some natural sweetness and I think my body is getting used to things being less sweet. Stevia is technically “ok” according to the book but I’m trying to keep it out, at least for now. I think it’s helping my tastebuds recalibrate.

greek salad lunch

I worked through the morning and didn’t have time for a snack so by the time I got home, I was definitely ready for lunch. We had all the fixings for a Greek salad so I was pretty excited… and then terribly disappointed when I realized I accidentally bought fat free Feta. Fat free cheese is so not worth it. The crumbles were so dry and flavorless. Such a bummer. But the rest of the salad was delicious!

  tortilla chips snack

Our treadmill arrived shortly after and we spent part of the afternoon putting it together. Carrying it up the stairs was quite a workout. Around 3:00 I was feeling snack-y so I had some tortilla chips and a spicy pico de gallo from Trader Joe’s. this was so good. I could eat that pico de gallo with a spoon.

For dinner, I decided to try to recreate my favorite dish at Cava Mezze, which is like the Mediterranean version of Chipotle. I really wish we had this chain in Richmond because it’s one of the few “fast-ish food” places where you can get some healthy options! So I snagged their quinoa tabbouleh and their tzaziki from Ellwood Thompsons and set to work on recreating my Cava Mezze order!

homemade cava mezze  I made this super easy vegan falafel and some brown rice and then just topped it with the quinoa tabbouleh, tzaziki, and some hummus. It was so delicious. I’ll definitely be making this again!

This kept me pretty full for the evening, but I did end up snacking on a little air popped popcorn later on. Overall, it was a pretty delicious day!

For more details on our little “sugar free experiment” you can read about the documentary that inspired this adventure and what our sugar free grocery list looked it!

Fat free cheese, yay or nay?

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

Creamy Ricotta and Zucchini Pasta

I’m a huge fan of zucchini noodles but sometimes I just need some pasta. So I thought, why not both? Plus, this recipe doesn’t require a spiralizer since you can simply thinly slice the zucchini for this. Adding some veggies to your pasta is the perfect way to bulk up your dinner so you can enjoy a sizeable serving without totally carbo-loading.

ricotta pasta with vegetables

I had some ricotta on hand because I was planning on making zucchini lasagna but I decided to use it as a pasta sauce instead. This almost has an alfredo-like creaminess but it’s a bit lower in calories.

vegetarian pasta with zucchini

5.0 from 1 reviews

Creamy Ricotta and Zucchini Pasta
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, mashed or minced
  • 4 oz whole grain pasta
  • ¾ cup ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion.
  2. Let it cook for 5-10 minutes until it begins to carmelize.
  3. Slice the zucchini into thin half moon pieces.
  4. Add to the skillet and cook for a few minutes until it begins to soften.
  5. Add in the cherry tomatoes and garlic and cook, covered, over low heat for 5 more minutes.
  6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package.
  7. Once the pasta is done, add in the ricotta, salt, pepper and vegetables.
  8. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve!

  pasta with ricotta and vegetables This meal came together so easily, which was nice since we had kind of a crazy weekend! We tackled about a dozen lingering house projects and it feels so good to have them crossed off the list! We finished up trim on the stairs,  bought a new TV,  sold the old TVs on Craigslist, purchased the supplies for a bar cart project, converted one of our kitchen cabinets into a hidden trash compartment, fixed the top drawer of the dishwasher, bought and assembled a bookcase for the sunroom. Alex did the hard parts but I tried to be a good assistant!

Oh, and we got a treadmill!

basic treadmill I’ve always wanted a treadmill so I’m still pinching myself because I can’t believe it’s here! It arrived on Thursday afternoon and by Thursday night, it was all set up! Just wait until you see the desk that Alex built for it…

Did you do anything fun this weekend?