Thursday, April 17, 2014

2014 Goals Check In

At work we are checking in on our yearly goals since it's the end of quarter 1. I figured this would be a good time to reflect on my personal 2014 goals as well!

1. Focus on diminishing bad habits:
I'm doing really well with pen chewing and diet coke avoidance....I still haven't taken ONE sip of the stuff. I can't believe it! I'm embarrassed that my attempt at making flossing a habit has failed. I go through stages where I'll floss diligently for weeks, but then if I miss one day I'm off the wagon for a while. I will keep on keeping on with this one.

2. Come up with a password system:
I did this! I officially have a new password system and different passwords for almost every website/app/etc. that I use. The hardest part has been coming up with a second system for when I have to change my passwords. So glad I did this.

3. Create a savings plan:
I haven't done this at all. Like I said back in January, I'm a good saver so this isn't totally essential. I do know I could do a better job of tracking where my money is going, but I'm not really worried about this yet.

4. Increase fitness level:
I have definitely done well on this one! I've exercised 4-6 days a week since January and just feel more active in general (e.g. walking more often, standing at work, etc.). Gettind down into the specifics:

- Run a half marathon: I signed up for the Run to Remember on 5/25, we'll see if I can run it (pending foot problems).
- Run 5 races (including the half): so far I've ran two races and have signed up for two more including the half. Well on my way to this one!
- Knock off at least two items from my Fitness Bucket List: I've already knocked off one (take a hot yoga class) and have another coming up in a few weeks (Harpoon 5 miler).
- Keep strength training - come up with a plan and associated goals: I have continued strength training but have been pretty casual about it. I don't find it necessary to make a plan/set specific goals just yet.

5. Keep eating real food:
I've been doing really well with my eating and Tom and I have started up the garden again! I feel like I talk a decent amount about this progress wise so no need to go into it in too much detail here.

6. Lose weight:
- Since the end of October I am officially down 29 pounds, which is pretty freakin' crazy to write down. I still have a ways to go, and I'm not totally sure if I'll reach my DietBet goal. I've lost a lot of inches and am finally feeling more towards my "normal" again, which is an amazing feeling!

7. Be a great friend, girlfriend and family member:
This is hard for me to judge, but I know I am making a consistent effort to keep in touch with friends/family near and far. I know I can always do better, so it's nice to get this reminder. I think Tom still likes me too :)

8. Travel:
- I wish I had more to update here. I haven't really done any traveling this year, besides an overnight in Saratoga and a few trips home to New York. Luckily, I've been doing A LOT of fun stuff here in Boston, but I definitely want to make some time to travel the rest of the year. Here's what's on the calendar so far:

- May 10 weekend: St. Louis wedding
- May 30/31 weekend: New York weddings
- Week of June 2: work trip in Philadelphia
- July 26 weekend: Berkshires wedding
- Weekend in the summer: Zoar Outdoor overnight with Tom
- Weekend in the summer: Washington DC and/or friend's Berkshire's lake house?

9. Go to the doctor throughout the year:
I got my annual physical and have seen the doctor a few other times. I just realized my insurance only covers an eye exam every 24 months.

10. Read and write:
- Read 30 books: On #11 and on track to reach this goal!
- Write ~100 blog posts: I have 54 posts so far so I'm more than halfway to this goal! My posting definitely slows down in the fall though, so I'll have to keep this pace up if I want 100!
- Be a good Elite yelper! I've only attended 1 or 2 yelp events so far this year and have written about 10 reviews. I do think my reviews have improved in quality over the years, so I suppose that counts for something!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Simple Lightened Up Penne alla Carbonara

I've always been intimidated by pasta carbonara. I have no idea why. It's so easy! I felt like making something quick for dinner on Sunday night and knew I wanted pasta, so I found this recipe and went from there using what I already had in the house.

Penne alla Carbonara

Ingredients:
1 egg
1 tsp of olive oil
Lots of freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
2 pieces of turkey bacon
3 oz of whole wheat pasta (I used penne, but whatever is on hand is fine!)

Directions:
1. Boil water
2. Put an egg into a bowl with room temperature or warm water to warm it up a bit (this is so the sauce isn't too cold and doesn't get "shocked" in the hot pan later)
3. Chop the turkey bacon and cook it in a pan coated with nonstick spray. Once it's crispy, transfer to a paper towel.



4. Add pasta to salted water once boiled.
5. Prepare the sauce: whisk the egg, olive oil, cheese and pepper together until well mixed.


6. When the pasta is done, reserve a bit of cooking water in case you need it, and drain the rest.
7. Add the pasta, bacon and sauce into a pan on very low heat. Stir constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. If you need to, add a bit of pasta water to the sauce.
8. Mix until all of the pasta is well coated, and serve!



I ate this with some raw veggies on the side because I needed some greens.


I think this would be awesome with some peas mixed in. I will definitely be adding them next time!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Priorities (and Half Marathon Training Week 7)

Monday, 4/7
Hot yoga: 60 minutes

Tuesday, 4/8
Rest

Wednesday, 4/9
Yoga: 60 minutes

Thursday, 4/10
Rest

Friday, 4/11
Yoga video: 30 minutes

Saturday, 4/12
Hot yoga: 60 minutes
2.5 miles casual walking

Sunday, 4/15
2 mile run (24 minutes)
30 minutes foam rolling

An excerpt from my brain this weekend:

"Screw everything. The moment I started to feel confident in running, the moment I suddenly realized I had dropped a few pants sizes, the moment I started to excitedly tell people I was running a half marathon in May..."

I think my foot pain is more than I'm making it out to be. After my long run last Sunday, I consulted a friend/physical therapist and she suggested taking a few days off from running/impact. I begrudgingly followed her advice and did nothing but yoga all week. Today I decided it was time to try out running again and did two miles on the treadmill. My foot was 100% fine while I was running, but as soon as I stopped it started to feel weird. First, it felt like my shoe was way too tight, then it just started to mildly hurt all over. I spent about a half hour foam rolling after the run and rolled out my foot a lot. I'm hoping that will help. 

I feel extremely upset and deflated over this. I'm nervous because I've felt similar pain before in my feet from running. I don't know what to do. My half marathon is in 6 weeks and I know if I take a few weeks off from activity I will not be able to do it. I don't know if I'm feeling ACTUAL pain or if I'm just being hypersensitive and making normal aches out to be something bigger. I don't know if I should go see a doctor or if I should just ignore it. I don't feel pain at all while running and I feel like I should just suck it up so I can run my race, but I'm nervous about making it worse and doing serious damage to my foot. I don't understand how this is happening. I spent a long time building up my fitness before training and I wasn't even running that much! I bought new shoes, I've been stretching a lot, I've been keeping up with my strength training. Why is this happening??? 

Unfortunately my negative emotions fueled some pretty bad eating this weekend. I ate out too often and spent a lot of time snacking while watching TV. Anytime that little voice came into my head asking if I really wanted to eat that, I quickly shut it off. I don't know how this "all or nothing" attitude still exists in my mind. My brain was basically saying all weekend, "well, you can't run and you're not going to be able to do the half marathon, so you might as well fill your body with shit food and sabotage 6 months of hard work!"

Every time I write a post like this I stop and consider deleting it. I feel like such a drama queen spewing my #firstworldproblems into the interwebs. I'm well aware that my potential inability to run this half marathon because of a foot injury is minuscule in comparison to the many problems faced it the world, and yet, I can't help but feel like I'm going to burst into tears at a moment's notice.

So the point of the post was to get all of my crazy emotions down on the page so I can make a plan and move forward. I need to remember what my priorities are:

1. Lose weight
2. Develop long term healthy habits
3. Live a consistently active lifestyle

I need to focus on #1, and I can do that with or without running. Yes, running is a huge help in my weight loss efforts (I truly believe nothing can transform my body like running), but I CAN do it without it. To do this I need to get immediately back on track with healthy eating and figure out ways to incorporate more non-running, low impact exercise into my week. Here's what I plan to do:

Monday: Hot yoga
Tuesday: Total Body Strength (take it easy on any jumping, etc)
Wednesday: Yoga
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 2 mile run
Saturday: Hot yoga
Sunday: Rest or long run if foot is fine

I want to run this half marathon. I can't believe I'm saying that since I was hesitant and nervous for so long. I've been enjoying training and seeing my progress. I don't want to stop now. I'm hoping taking it easy for another few days will help. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Restaurant R & D: Liquid Art House

A few weeks ago I was looking through some local blogs and read about a new series at the Boston Center for Adult Education. Through the series, the BCAE invites local restaurateurs into their kitchen for a little "research and development" before opening their new venues: "It's a win-win. Chefs get to test their fresh ideas with eager audiences, and diners get the first tastes of the city's newest establishments while also enjoying rare opportunities to provide feedback about what they've eaten."

This sounded right up my alley so I didn't hesitate to sign up. The cost was only $35 -- definitely worth trying out! The series kicked off by featuring Chef Rachel Klein of Liquid Art House, which is set to open on Arlington Street in early May. The restaurant will also be part art gallery, and the menu will focus on global street food with modern twists.

The event started at 6:00 on Thursday. It was my first time at the BCAE, and I was excited that the location was right between where I work and where I live. I've always wanted to take a class at the BCAE but have hesitated in signing up. This was a great way to see the space and meet some of the folks that run the center before committing to a class.

The room was set up cocktail style -- there were a number of high top tables and a large open kitchen in the back of the room. There was also drink station where you could get white or red wine, seltzer or water (all included in the price of the ticket). I loved how cute the space looked -- it had a bit of a summery picnic feel with yellow flowers, fun straws, wooden utensils and checkered oven mitts.



We started off the evening with a welcome from the BCAE staff, then we heard from the lead staff at Liquid Art House. Owner Ruta Laukien and Chef de Cuisine Ensan Wong both told us a little about themselves, their visions for the restaurant, and what they are most excited about with the upcoming opening.



Once all of the introductions were done, the food started pouring out!

I expected the food to be set out at stations, so I was happily surprised that the chefs were cooking each course to order, then bringing every person their own plate.

The first item we tried was the wild mushroom dumplings (mushroom consomme, sour cream, shitake chips). I really loved these dumpling! The flavor was almost reminiscent of gourmet French onion soup and the shitake chips gave the dish a great extra crunch.


In between courses I went over to the kitchen area to check out the chefs in action. It was incredibly cool to be able to see them working together and navigating the kitchen as a staff for the first time!


The next menu item we tried was the corn & honey dumplings with Brussels sprouts, aged gouda, and Asian pear. I really liked the unique dumplings in this dish, but it was probably my least favorite out of all of the ones we tried. I would have liked a bit more of a savory flavor mixed in and just wasn't getting it from the gouda.


Next on the list was pork belly with yuca, chicharrones and pico de gallo. I loved this dish -- it was the most creatively presented and the pork belly was cooked perfectly. Check out those rounds of pico de gallo! They were encapsulated in jelly so you broke them apart before eating. So fun!



The next dish was a mini spicy lamp skewer with a puffy pita, Turkish salad and sheep's milk yogurt. I'm a huge fan of lamb and this skewer had the perfect amount of spice. The presentation of the pita was pretty cool, but I wish it had been a little softer and easier to eat. 


The last savory item we tried was the Georges Bank seared scallop with gigantes beans, leeks, passionfruit, chorizo oil and cilantro. I never order scallops for myself but I would definitely order this one! The scallop was seared perfectly and I loved the passionfruit "caviar" on top. If I could change one thing about this dish, I would add more leeks (there was only one served under the scallop -- it was delicious).


For dessert, I got to try something brand new to me: rice pudding! This dessert was gorgeously presented and looked like something straight out of Top Chef (my photo doesn't do it justice). The coconut rice pudding was layered with a Thai basil cake, compressed mango, black sesame crunch, passion fruit and sorbet. It was SO delicious and I finished every bite.



I was totally stuffed after dessert, but couldn't help myself to the final small bites the staff handed out. I can't remember what they were, but they were a wonderful way to end the evening.


We finished eating around 8 and then were in for a very special treat! We all grabbed our coats and walked a few doors down to the space where the restaurant will be -- they are still working on it so it was exciting to get a first look! The restaurant space is huge with an open kitchen, super tall ceilings, a beautiful circular marble bar and a gorgeous 11-foot long blown glass chandelier. I could not stop taking photos of the chandelier and I'm so glad someone asked for the back story. The chandelier was created by Fabio Fornasier, who was actually Chihuly's teacher! I remember when the beautiful Chilhuly exhibit was at the MFA, so it was cool to make that connection. The restaurant will be featuring different art that will change every six weeks. The first display will be themed around street art and will showcase work from artists both locally and around the world.




We were invited to stay as long as we liked and to explore as much of the space as we wanted to. I (of course) ran right into the kitchen to get a closer look. I felt like a kid in a candy store with all of the brand new appliances, including a vintage-looking rotisserie!









The whole night was awesome from start to finish. Besides getting to be one of the first to try the new menu, it was so cool to get to give feedback to the Liquid Art House staff. From the chefs to the general manager to the front of house staff, everyone was so eager to hear our opinions and the pride and passion they had for their restaurant was contagious. To top it all off, the Liquid Art House sent each person off with a parting gift...



...a $25 gift card! I will definitely be going to L.A.H. once it opens -- I can't wait to try more of the menu!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Will Tweet For Food

To celebrate the 3 1/2 year anniversary of this little blog, I've given it a twitter!

Follow me @FoodLoveFitness :)


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Asian Cucumber Salad

Who doesn't love Bed, Bath and Beyond? A few months ago I was in the store picking up something with Tom and of course, got sucked into the kitchen gadget area. I needed to buy SOMETHING, so I picked out a julienne peeler for $10. I had been seeing recipes all over the place for zucchini noodles, so I figured I'd try it out.

Months later, I finally used my peeler for the first time! I was trying to think of a less boring veggie side dish for my dinner last night and did some google searching for inspiration. What I came up with was this super easy, awesome, cucumber salad that tasted straight out of a Japanese restaurant!

Asian Cucumber Salad


Ingredients:
- 1/2 a large or a whole small cucumber
- 2 tbs rice vinegar
- 1 - 1.5 tbs sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- pinch of salt
- red pepper flakes
- sesame seeds

Directions:
1. Julienne the cucumber until you have a pile of thin strips. If you don't have a julienne peeler you can just use a knife or cut them into thin circles. I stopped peeling once I got to the seedy middle.
2. Combine the cucumber, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, and salt in a bowl and mix. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
3. Remove from fridge and strain out any remaining liquid. Top with sesame seeds and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Serve!

I ate this last night with two ground turkey tacos which made no sense. I don't mind eating things that don't go together (which is obvious if you've been reading for a while!) so I was fine with it, but some people might want to save this salad to go with sushi, a stir fry or something a little closer in flavor.


On another note, our Hopster's labels came yesterday and look amazing!!! So cool to see them on the bottles!



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dumpling Cafe - Chinatown

Me and Tom talk about going into Chinatown a lot, but we rarely actually do it. Chinatown is SO close to Southie and there is a bus that takes us straight there, so there's really no reason not to go. Last weekend I was itching to get out of the house and wanted to do a little bit of carb loading before my Sunday long run, so I suggested we take the short trip into Chinatown. After a bit of yelping we decided on Dumpling Cafe.

The restaurant was pretty busy on Friday night but we only had to wait about 10 minutes. We were sat at a long table in the middle of a bunch of groups. It was a tight squeeze but it was fun!

TKO looking very comfy :)
I always feel rushed in Chinatown, so we tried to take some time to look over the menu and order in stages. Despite our efforts the food came out in minutes!

We ordered a few dishes to share:

Udon noodles with vegetables. I loved the flavor of these noodles, but for some reason they were all chopped up into tiny pieces. It made the dish very difficult to eat and I was super jealous of our neighbors who had long noodles. Not sure what that was about!


Beef with string beans.


Xiao long bao aka soup dumplings! Check out that steam when Tom took off the top.

I love soup dumplings and these were awesome. I'd take a trip to this Cafe just for a few orders of these!


I wasn't planning on dessert, but I was intrigued when Tom suggested sharing a bubble tea. I always thought bubble tea was served hot, and was basically just tea with little balls inside. Man, was I wrong! We ordered a mango tea and it was amazing!! It was basically a slushie with little pieces of tapioca mixed in. It was so fun to slurp up the bubbles and I was freaking out. I think bubble tea is going to be a summer staple for me!


Dumpling Cafe is located at:
695 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111
(617) 338-8859