Easy Citrus Sangria

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I know it’s not officially summer yet but it’s been hot here so it definitely feels like summer. We had some friends over last weekend and I told you about the feta + cream cheese crackers I made but I did not tell you about the sangria! When Alex and I were in DC a couple weeks ago, I had the sangria at Catch 15 and it was awesome. I’ve been dreaming of it ever since so I decided the weekend would be a good time to test out some sangria recipes!

sangria ingredients

I kept this one super simple because I hate having to go to the grocery store for one or two ingredients. These are all things you probably have in your fruit dish + fridge so dive in!

SANGRIA PITCHER

4.5 from 2 reviews

Easy Citrus Sangria
 
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You can use any red wine for this but just make sure it’s not too sweet.
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 bottle of red wine (we used a red blend)
  • ¾ cup of orange juice
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 8-12 oz of soda water (optional)
Instructions
  1. Rinse the orange and lemon.
  2. Slice the ends off and slice the rest of the lemon and orange into thin slices, and halve the slices.
  3. Add the fruit, red wine, and orange juice into a large pitcher.
  4. Let sit for at least 3 hours before serving.
  5. If you want to dilute it a bit, you can add some soda water. If you like it stronger, you can drink it as-is.

 

sangria in a glass Cheers! 

Speaking of cheers, I’ll be raising a glass to my best friend as she ties the knot with the love of her life this weekend! I can’t wait to celebrate! It’s going to be a marvelous long weekend! It’s crazy to think that this time last year, I was getting married. Being on the other side makes me really appreciate all the effort that goes into a special day!

What are you celebrating? Spring? Coffee? A long weekend?

 

Tone It Up Meals: Week 6

I’m on week 6 of the Tone It Up challenge which means there are just a couple of weeks left! Honestly, the  asics of the plan have started to become more of a habit, which is awesome! I guess that’s the point, right? Here’s what Monday looked like:

greek yogurt breakfast  I can’t get enough Greek yogurt. Loaded up with basically as many berries as possible. With coffee, of course.

clif z bar

I had quick Clif Z Kids bar as a morning snack. I like the kids bars because they’re about half the size of a regular Clif bar but still fill me up!

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Lunch was a super random assortment of things I was trying to use up in the fridge that I packed for lunch. This was some white bean stew plus some cherry tomatoes and half an avocado. Maybe not the most typical lunch but it got the job done.

green apple

I munched on an apple around 2:30 and tried to drink a lot of water. I accidentally left my reusable cup at home which usually serves as my reminder to keep drinking so I had to keep reminding myself to get up and grab water!

After work, I met up with my friend Kate for dinner at Tazza Kitchen. Kate’s trying to “Tone It Up” too and we knew Tazza had some healthier options. (Their pizzas are awesome too but we managed to resist the temptation.)

I went with the kale salad which I love. The grana padano cheese on top might not necessarily be “Tone It Up approved” but ya gotta live a little. Right? I also had a side of broccoli and it was amazing. Seriously, I don’t know what they put on their broccoli but it’s roasted to perfect. It’s crunchy and crispy and perfect. I could eat it everyday.

When I got home, I munched on a few frozen grapes but I was pretty full from dinner so I didn’t snack too much.

For a workout, I did this HIIT workout followed by this full body toning routine:

I’m trying to really stick with the workouts this week since I’m in a wedding on Sunday! Nothing like the motivation of a bridesmaids dress, right?

What are you eating today?

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

5 Minute (Gluten Free) Appetizer


Ever since we moved into our house, I want to have people over all. the. time. I love it. I love having a house full of people. I try to keep a few easy snack ideas on hand for when we have guests over since I love cooking but I don’t like wasting time in the kitchen while friends are around. On Saturday, we had some friends over for a game night where we ended up playing Man Laws & Woman Rules. If you haven’t played, it’s basically a hilarious game that calls out ridiculous gender stereotypes and you either agree or disagree… and predict what everyone else thinks. Playing with your significant other only adds to the fun.

Anyways, I wanted to have a few bites on hand so I made some super simple snacks. These little appetizers are perfect for entertaining because you can whip them up in minutes. Literally I used Breton’s herb & garlic crackers  for the base of these, since they’re not only gluten free but they have a perfectly crisp texture and the herb and garlic flavor means it’s already good on it’s own! 

breton crackers

These little bites can be made in 5 minutes or less so they’re perfect for those nights when you’re entertaining friends and family and don’t want to spend the whole night in the kitchen!

Creamy Feta Bites
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 box of Breton Crackers (I used the Herb & Garlic flavor)
  • ½ cup crumbled feta
  • ½ cup cream cheese
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
Instructions
  1. Combine with feta and cream cheese in a bowl until smooth.
  2. Slice cherry tomatoes lengthwise.
  3. Top each cracker with a little of the cheese mixture, add the tomato, and sprinkle with oregano.
  4. Serve immediately!

easy appetizer idea

These are so creamy and delicious! Need a vegan idea? Try them topped with hummus! You can make this super creamy hummus recipe with just a handful of ingredients so you’ll be topping crackers in no time.  Breton actually has tons of different flavors (I’m loving the white bean with salt and pepper!) and they’re all certified gluten free. Pretty sweet, right? Excuse me while I go stuff my face with more crackers ;)

breton cracker snack

What’s your favorite cracker topping?

This post was sponsored by Breton crackers. Like everything else on here, I wouldn’t write about it if I didn’t love it! I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

3 Low Carb Vegetarian Meals

I’ve told you before: I’m a bread girl. I’m powerless against a fluffy dinner roll. I could eat an entire bag of popcorn in one sitting. I’ll steal all of the crackers off the cheese plate. I don’t know why I love carbohydrates so much but I do. It’s part of the reason it’s easy for me to be a vegetarian (pass on the hamburger, hand me the french fries) and it’s also the reason it’s hard to be healthy as a vegetarian. I’m not saying carbs themselves are bad but they don’t really keep you full like fat does and they don’t help you build lean muscle like protein does.

The basic principle of the Tone It Up plan is eat lots of protein, some healthy fat, and less carbs. That plan would be a whole lot easier if I ate meat… but since I don’t, I’ve had to come up with meal ideas beyond just veggie burgers. (I mean, I love veggie burgers, but I can’t eat them every day without going crazy.) So I thought I’d share a few of my favorite low carb (or, lower carb… vegetables do have carbs in them) meals that I’ve been enjoying a lot lately:

zucchini noodles and vegetarian meatballs

Zucchini noodles with nut “meat”balls  or zucchini lasagna. The zucchini pasta thing is trendy right now and for good reason! It’s delicious, low in calories, and super easy to make!

vegan cauliflower tacos Cauliflower is another trendy “lower carb” option and I love it because it’s so versatile! I’m sure you’ve seen cauliflower pizza crusts but I’m currently loving them chopped up like rice or roasted for tacos.

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A stir fry is an easy way to use up some leftover vegetables and this broccoli + tempeh recipe is loaded with protein!

Here are a few other easy ingredients to add to your recipes which will fill you up on protein and/or healthy fats but leave you room to spare in the carb department. (That means you have room for a dinner roll and some cake, right?)

low carb vegetarian foods

Do you have any low(er) carb vegetarian recipes to share? If so, leave a link in the comments!

Staycation Meals

My in laws are heading back home today which is sad because we’ve had an amazing time with them! It’s been fun showing them around Richmond and the time off work has been nice. I guess it’s been a bit of a “staycation” for me and Alex. I knew I wouldn’t totally stay on the Tone It Up plan while they were here since I wanted to be able to enjoy this mini vacation without stressing about meals, so here’s what Monday looked like.

I rolled myself out of bed and started the day by mowing the lawn. Since I was already pretty sweaty, I followed it up with with this Kettletoning routine:

Followed by one round of this full body toning routine:

My muscles felt like jello by the time I finished so I headed downstairs for breakfast.

green smoothie

I whipped up a smoothie with almond milk, 1/2 banana, 1 scoop of protein powder, a handful of spinach, and a scoop of peanut butter. I also had a glass of water and 2 cups of coffee. Lots of drinks for breakfast!

We took a quick trip to Lowe’s and I snagged a few hanging baskets of flowers for our porch. Now that we have our porch swing up, I wanted to have some flowers out there. Once we finished up our to-do list, we headed to Strawberry Street Cafe for lunch.

healthy lunch richmond

They have a huge salad bar so that made it easy to eat healthy. I paired it with a cup of black bean soup but I couldn’t finish the soup because it was so filling! I also had a small plate of fruit for “dessert” afterwards.

We did a lot of walking in the afternoon around the Capital building and Tredegar Iron Works. It was pretty hot out but I was glad to get in some steps! We came home and played a few more rounds of Euchre before heading to dinner.

Alex and I wanted to take his parents to our favorite pizza place in Richmond: Stuzzi.

stuzzi pizza It’s a wood fired pizza so the crust is the perfect balance of crispy and chewy. We used to go every Monday night but we hadn’t gone since I started the Tone It Up challenge, so it was fun to go back. We also split a piece of cheesecake between the four of us, but I didn’t snap a picture!

It was such a fun day of food and family! Now it’s back to work today and Alex’s parents have to head home. I can’t wait for another visit!

Have you ever taken a “staycation”?

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

Creamy Green Smoothie Recipe

Alex’s parents are here for a visit and it’s been so fun showing them around! We’ve packed our days with DC sightseeing and various Richmond adventures.

Oh hey there, White House! 

On our first morning, Jana made me an amazing green smoothie that I loved so I thought I’d share it!

IMG_8619

5.0 from 1 reviews

Creamy Green Smoothie Recipe
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Smoothie
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup green grapes
  • Handful of spinach
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (whey or plant protein)
  • ¼ cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • Splash of water or almond milk
  • ¼ avocado
  • Handful of ice
Instructions
  1. Blend everything except the avocado and the ice first until smooth.
  2. Add in the ice and avocado and continue to blend.
  3. Pour and drink!

I’d never done the avocado-in-a-smoothie thing but it’s further proof that avocado makes everything more delicious. I couldn’t believe how creamy and filling it was! This kept me full through the 20,000+ steps we walked in Washington D.C. Yes, 20K steps! We’ve been walking a lot. Which is probably good, since we’ve also been drinking lots of this:

Ok, I haven’t been drinking that much beer. But we did share a couple of beer flights at Isley. I’m not usually a beer drinker but when in Rome, right? These flavors were pretty crazy (peanut butter? coconut? Why not.) but my overall favorite was the Ginger Golden Ale. I pretty much stole that whole tasting and left the rest to Alex.

We’ve also been playing quite of a bit of Euchre.

Any other Euchre players out there? It seems like a very Midwestern game. It’s been so fun sitting out on the porch playing cards and chatting with Alex’s family. We still have a couple more days of adventures so we’re going to do a little more exploring in Richmond!

What’s your favorite card game?

 

My New FitBit!

I’m totally into the whole fitness tracker thing. I bought a BodyMedia band back in 2010! (Jawbone has since acquired BodyMedia, so they are no more.) Think back to 2010… no one was wearing fitness trackers. The trackers back then had to be worn on your upper arm, so they weren’t exactly descreet. I had multiple people ask me if I “was ok” because they thought something was wrong with me. It’s cool guys… just trying to track my calories here. Of course, back then I literally had to plug the device into my computer. It didn’t sync with a smart phone. Isn’t that crazy? Needless to say, they’ve come a long way.

So here I am, with the FitBit Charge HR! I picked this one because after doing some research (i.e. googling) it seemed like the most accurate and comprehensive tracker out there. I’ve only had it a few days but I’m loving it. It’s so motivating!

Look what just arrived!

A photo posted by Liz Thomson (@iheartveggies) on

If you’ve got a FitBit, add me as a friend (iheartveggiesblog at gmail dot com) and we can challenge & encourage each other! Fitness is more fun with friends ;)

It’s also making me much more aware of how I need to get up and move! I clocked in quite a few steps yesterday:

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Alex’s parents are in town for a visit and we walked quite a bit last night. We took them to see an art exhibit of John Lennon’s sketches and then we walked to a nearby brewery in Carytown called Garden Grove.

Once we got back I made this super easy baked ziti for dinner. Clearly, we needed fuel after all those steps!

baked ziti recipe

This recipe is great because you can make it a day ahead so you can spend less time cooking and more time hanging out with the ones you love!

Alright, I’m headed to DC for the day. Cheers to lots of walking!

Do you have a fitness tracker?

Tone It Up Meals: Week 4

I can’t believe I’m on the 4th week of the Tone It Up challenge! It’s been going really well and I’ve actually been sticking to the workouts! Sunday was an easy day to eat healthy since I was able to eat my meals at home. Alex was on a men’s retreat with our church in the morning so I had a quiet breakfast by myself while reading the paper. I was finally craving something other than yogurt so I went with a banana smoothie.

tone it up breakfast

This was 1 frozen banana, 1 handful of ice, 1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder, 1 cup of almond milk, 1 tbsp peanut butter, and a little stevia. It was so perfect. Freezing bananas ahead of time makes this extra thick and creamy! I ate the first half with a spoon until it melted enough to drink through a straw.

I did a bunch of cleaning and organizing in the morning and then I went for a run. I hadn’t run in forever so it was a big deal! It was a slow 3 miles, but you’ve gotta start somewhere! When I got back, I drank tons of water and ate a grapefruit while browsing the paper.

tone it up grapefruit

Gimme allllll the produce. I love this season! I played around in the kitchen until lunch time. Alex came home around 1:00 and we had some of this tomato & farro recipe.

tomato and farro risotto

It seriously tastes like a creamy risotto, but it’s vegan! We ate lunch on our deck and it was fun getting to catch up with Alex since he’d been gone for the weekend. Somehow, we ended up taking a nap. I’m not usually a nap person but I guess we were both worn out! We woke up 20 minutes before church started so we hurried out the door. I grabbed an orange and ate it as we were literally walking out!

Once we got back from church, I put a couple of veggie burgers and some chopped sweet potato in the oven. There’s something about this meal that just feels like summer to me! We ate dinner on the deck, too. I love eating out in the sun. The roasted sweet potato hit the spot and I love fresh avocado on top of my veggie burgers.

tone it up vegetarian dinner idea

I’ve been trying to cut back on night time snacking so I opted for small glass of wine instead of a snack. Progress? Maybe ;)

Are you loving any fresh produce this week?

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

Creamy [Vegan] Farro & Tomatoes

I spent most of Saturday running errands and getting the house ready because my in-laws are coming on Thursday! I can’t wait to see them and I wanted to try getting the house in some sort of order. After 3 trips to Target, 2 stops at Bed Bath and Beyond, 2 visits to Marshalls, 1 stop at TJ Maxx, and 1 trip to World Market, the guest bedroom is in a much better place. (Expect a guest bedroom update with photos soon!)

So when Sunday morning rolled around, I was excited to just chill out in the kitchen. But yesterday, I was striking out. I tried making some protein pancakes with coconut flour and they just didn’t turn out the way I hoped. I had lots of other ideas for recipes where I was missing that one ingredient. I was dirtying dishes and using ingredients and nothing was coming together. I started getting hungry for lunch and decided to try another farro recipe. I loved this kale and pine nut faux risotto so I thought I’d try something similar but with a tomato base. I wanted to keep it vegan so I used nutritional yeast to give it a creamy, cheesy flavor without actually using any cream on cheese. Nutritional yeast has the added benefit of protein & b vitamins which can both be a little challenge for non-meat eaters to get. I typically get my “nooch” from the bulk bins at the grocery store but if you can’t find it there, you can order it online. (Bob’s Red Mill is on Amazon and it’s great!)

Luckily, I didn’t strike out with this one:

tomatos and farro

5.0 from 1 reviews

Simmered Tomatoes & Farro
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dry farro
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1½ cups of tomato sauce (or marinara sauce)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup pine nuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. Add everything except the tomato sauce and the pine nuts into a large pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Let simmer for 10 minutes, then add in the tomato sauce.
  3. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes until the farro is cooked. (It should be a bit chewy but not crunchy.)
  4. Add salt to taste and top with pine nuts before serving.

I love that the nutritional yeast makes this super creamy! This totally hit the spot and it was nice to have a success after so many failed recipes.

tomato and farro risotto

In other news, I ran. Like actually ran. This hasn’t happened for… quite some time. Ever since I finished a half marathon in 2012 I haven’t really been in the mood to run, but the weather was so perfect I just went for it. Maybe it’ll become a regular in the workout rotation! We’ll see. This farro was a yummy way to refuel after logging a few miles!

What food are you craving?

Chia Almond Granola [Gluten Free]

This was not the recipe I planned on sharing today. This was the recipe I made while the recipe I planned to post was in the oven. This was like “well the oven is already preheated so I might as well play around” recipe, because you know once the oven is preheated you’ve gotta take advantage of it. Am I right?

But then when this came out of the oven, I couldn’t stop eating it. I eventually had to stuff it all in a mason jar and hide it from myself in the pantry so I didn’t keep eating eat. (I kept calling my name, but I managed to resist.) The thing is, I love crunchy granola. It’s all about the clusters. And the secret to clusters? Egg whites. Yes, really.

And even though this is chia almond granola, you can make it even if you don’t have chia seeds. It won’t be quite as cool & trendy as full of omega-3′s but it’ll still work. (I know, it’s hard to imagine someone not keeping their kitchen stocked with chia seeds.) So let’s get to that recipe.

chia almond granola

5.0 from 1 reviews

Chia Almond Granola
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Granola
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of oats (mine were gluten free)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tbsp egg whites
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325.
  2. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Stir in the melted coconut oil.
  4. Once combined, stir in the egg whites. Make sure you really get everything combined! The chia seeds have a tendency to want to clump.
  5. Spray a baking sheet with non stick spray and spread out the granola across the tray. It’s ok if it’s a little clustered together, since you want clumps, but don’t make it too thick.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until it starts to brown.

chia almond granola with coconut oil

I made a pretty small batch because I wasn’t sure if it would be good, but you can certainly double this if you want to make more. I’m kind of already wishing I’d made a double batch…

granola with chia seeds

In other news, I’m thrilled it’s Friday! I feel like our to-do list has been getting a little out of control so I’m looking forward to tackling some house projects this weekend. My in-laws are coming next week (YAY!!) so I want to get a few things in order before they come for a visit.

Do you have any fun plans this weekend?