Last week I saw this guy I work with drinking a Naked Juice, and I got a little too excited over the fact that he bought it in our very own cafeteria. They are my favorite but I never think to buy them in the grocery store (plus they are too expensive so I usually skip right over them), but on Thursday, I needed a little pick-me-up with lunch so I decided to grab one. I didn’t think I’d ever tried this Green Machine version until I looked it up, but I’m not surprised because (like all the others I’ve tried) it was totally awesome.
I know I’ve said this before but I love that the bottles list all the ingredients and their proportions, so now that I actually have my own juicer, the plan is to save the bottles so I can recreate them at home.
But that’s my old obsession… my new one is with Larabars.
Have you tried these things?
If not, you must because they, too, are totally awesome.
I don’t usually eat any kind of bars, which is probably why I’ve never tried them before, but I read somewhere the other day that they didn’t have any artificial ingredients and I was a little bit intrigued. The website says:
LÄRABAR® is a delicious blend of unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices. Made from whole food, each flavor contains no more than nine ingredients. Pure and simple, just as nature intended.
I decided to check them out in the grocery store a couple days later, and honestly, I was blown away. Aside from chocolate chips (which are made from a couple different things but I’m okay with eating them occasionally), the ingredients are all things that I could (and probably do) have at home. For the ones I’ve tried so far:
- Banana bread = Almonds, dates, bananas
- Cashew cookie = Cashews, dates
- Chocolate chip brownie = Dates, chocolate chips, almonds, walnuts, cocoa powder, sea salt
- Chocolate chip cookie dough = Cashews, dates, chocolate chips, sea salt
- Peanut butter chocolate chip = Dates, peanuts, chocolate chips, sea salt
- Peanut butter cookie = Peanuts, dates, seal salt
Get the picture?
Some of them are sweetened with fruit juice (and clearly dates), but I haven’t seen any with added sugars (besides in the chocolate chips), which is pretty cool. And because the ingredients list is so minimal, they end up being gluten-free and dairy-free too, which is extra cool.
The only downside is the price: $1.49 each. Between the $3.50 for the Naked Juices and the $1.49 for the Larabars, I could end up blowing my whole food budget in just a couple of days!
Luckily, I am an expert at trying to be a copycat chef, and the very first thing I did after seeing the ingredients lists was Google “homemade Larabars.” Apparently a lot of other people had the same idea, and there are all kinds of recipes out there, but the basic premise is to take the ingredients you want in the bar, mash them up in the food processor, mold it into a somewhat appealing shape, and eat. I can totally do that!
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, so I hope Naked Juice and Larabars will take my attempts at recreating their masterpieces at home as a compliment.
I’ll keep you posted on how close I get to the originals.
Have you tried Naked Juices or Larabars?
What foods/recipes do you try to recreate at home?
I always love coming home to see my family, but this weekend was especially packed with fun.
Yesterday morning, I took my mom to get a massage for her birthday. It was only my second time ever getting a massage, but I don’t think it will be my last. I had two huge knots in my back that seriously hurt coming out, but overall, it was quite the amazing hour.
After we were all relaxed, we picked up my cousin and headed to Panera for lunch. I got the strawberry poppyseed chicken salad with chicken, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, Mandarin oranges, pecans, and poppyseed dressing and it was absolutely delicious. My cousin made a comment about how he would never think to mix fruit and veggies into one salad and I agreed that I never used to either, but now I love doing that. The sweet fruit is such a good addition and I’d definitely get this one again.
On the side, I also had chips, a tropical hibiscus iced tea…
And of course a chocolate chip cookie.
After lunch, we went back to my mom’s house to make some food for my other cousin’s graduation party. I was asked to bring Oreo truffles, so I decided to give them a little school spirit and decorate them with purple paw prints.
After we were finished cooking, we hit the party store for balloons and stopped by the grocery store for some dinner ingredients. We were all craving Mexican (obviously), so we decided to make our own at home instead of going out. I did the cooking and made tacos with all the toppings plus chicken and cheese quesadillas.
I had a couple tacos with ground beef, lettuce, and salsa, a couple quesadilla slices, and a whole bunch of sautéed red peppers. It was a seriously filling meal and we all pretty much agreed that eating it at home was even better than going out.
After dinner settled, we headed off for dessert (obviously, again) in the form of ice cream. I got orange sherbet in a chocolate dipped waffle cone with chocolate sprinkles, and it was pretty dang awesome. My sister and I (and my cousins, mom, and aunts…) worked at this ice cream place in high school and college, and they never had chocolate dipped cones when we worked there, but they’ve been getting more and more creative over the years.
As a chocolate-lover, their innovations make me pretty excited.
Time to get ready for the graduation party… Hope you are all having a fabulous weekend!
What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Have you ever gotten a massage?
You know what’s dangerous? Hiding chocolate from yourself.
I think I could go without any and all junk food for the rest of my life and feel perfectly fulfilled… except dark chocolate. Seriously. I think I have a problem.
The other day, I remembered that I’d bought a dark chocolate pound plus bar from Trader Joe’s and stashed it in my freezer, and it was like remembering you’d buried gold in your backyard. I’m not kidding; I was so excited.
The problem was that a couple of days ago, I ate way too much sugar before bed and didn’t sleep a wink. When you don’t have sugar or caffeine very often, a little goes a long way. Especially when you’re already sensitive to it. (My mom didn’t let me drink Mountain Dew as a kid because I’d be up for days after just one can.) Anyways, after that happened, I swore to myself I wouldn’t go eating a bunch of sugary crap before bed again. But wouldn’t you know, that promise just so happened to coincide with my dark chocolate discovery. So there went that!
Hopefully I’ll remember the feeling of caffeine and sugar pumping through my veins when I’m trying to go to sleep next time I get the urge to break off a chunk. (Or maybe I’ll just have to start eating it for breakfast instead.) We’ll see…
Luckily, the rest of my meals this week have been quite healthy and substantial. They’ve also been quite repetitive; I had almost exactly the same meals Monday and Tuesday and didn’t even realize it until I got to dinner.
Breakfast: Roasted chicken and broccoli
Lunch: Turkey meatballs with peppers, spinach, and carrots
Afternoon snack: Pear slices and homemade almond butter (recipe coming soon!)
For dinner, I did get a little wild and switch things up a bit. Monday was steak with asparagus (yummy but boring) and Tuesday was leftover bacon meatloaf and green beans.
Evening snack: Banana bread muffins toasted with butter and berries
Dessert: A little too much of the aforementioned dark chocolate…
Workouts this week have been much more variable than food has been… which is pretty much the norm. I don’t mind eating the same thing every day, but if I have to do the same thing in the gym everyday, I get bored really fast.
Monday’s workout looked like this:
- Warm-Up + Stretch
- Back squats:
- 15 @ 45#
- 12 @ 95#
- 10 @ 135 #
- 8 @ 155#
- 5 @ 175#
- 3 @ 195#
- 1 @ 205#
- 5×5 @ 155#
- 10×10 Overhead squats @ 35#
- Workout (21-15-9, run 1 lap before and after each round):
- Push presses @ 55#
- Step-ups @ 25#
- Burpee box jumps
- 10 Hanging knee lifts
- 5 Handstand push-ups
- Cool-down walk
Those burpee box jumps? Killer!
And Tuesday’s workout looked like this:
- Warm-up & stretch
- Push presses:
- 15 @ 35#
- 10 @ 55#
- 8 @ 85#
- 5×5 @ 105# > New PR!
- 5×5 @ 85#
- Workout (8 20-second tabata intervals (as many reps as you can) of each exercise with 10 seconds of rest in between each one):
- Wall balls
- Hollow rocks
- Run one mile
- Cool down
Push press day continues to be my favorite day in the gym, and I cleaned and pressed more weight this week than I ever have before. It’s definitely not all I can do though, so I’m already looking forward to working on them again.
This week is flying by, and I’ve got quite a few fun things scheduled over the next few days, so I’m looking forward to it. I hope your week is going well also!
What one food could you not live without?
What thing could you never do the same very single day? What don’t you mind doing the same every day?
For a while now, I’d been hearing about cauliflower crust pizza, and I’d always really wanted to try it. It seemed like a lot of work, so I’d never quite gotten around to it, but when the craving for pizza hit on Saturday and I had a little extra time, I decided to give it a shot.
And I’m really glad I did.
Not only was it not nearly as much work as I thought it’d be, but the results were absolutely awesome. It wasn’t quite as doughy as a traditional pizza dough, but it didn’t taste like cauliflower at all. The edges were crispy, the middle was chewy and, well… it tasted like pizza! And that’s exactly what I was going for.
I used this recipe as a guide, but I modified it a bit, and I couldn’t have been happier with how it came out. I hate soggy pizza, and although I was a little nervous this might turn out that way, it didn’t at all. I even heated up the leftovers the next day in the toaster oven, and they were just as good the second time. I couldn’t imagine how it would stick together and hold up, but somehow, it managed to!
The only trouble I did have was with the crust sticking to the pan, but luckily that’s an easy fix. If I had used a nonstick pan, a pizza stone, or coasted the pan with a little cornmeal, I think it would’ve been fine. (All I own is a crappy old set of cookies sheets that everything sticks to and I’m way too cheap to go out and buy parchment paper.) My mom has a pizza stone though, so I’m definitely going to try this one again the next time I’m at her house. I can’t wait to have her try it either because I honestly don’t think you would have any idea what it was made of if I didn’t tell you.
And what better way to justify eating a big cheesy pizza than to have it be made with a vegetable crust?!
- 1 medium head of cauliflower
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon almond flour
- Spices to taste – Oregano, basil, crushed red pepper, garlic
- Preheat oven to 450*F and place cookie sheet or pizza stone in oven to warm.
- Cut cauliflower into pieces, removing stems and leaves.
- Pulse cauliflower in food processor until it’s in tiny little pieces – the smaller, the better.
- Place the cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 4-5 minutes.
- Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean towel and allow to cool until it is able to be handled.
- Once cool, use the towel to ring out as much water as possible. (The more you can get out, the better, so you might have to work at it!)
- Dump the cauliflower into a mixing bowl and add all other ingredients. Mix well using a fork or your hands.
- Once “dough” is mixed, pull the hot pan/pizza stone out of the oven and coat it in a little bit of olive oil all over. (Some people use parchment paper here, but I didn’t have time for all that and mine worked out just fine without it, besides the aforementioned stickage.)
- Shape the “dough” into your desired shape on your cookie sheet/pizza stone. Pat it down so it’s about 1/2” thick in all spots.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown.
- Remove crust from the oven and add your desired topping. For my toppings, I used sauce, mozzarella cheese, peppers, and spices. (I wanted to also add chicken and spinach but apparently I was too excited about the crust actually working out that I forgot.) I made the sauce by mixing tomato paste (from a can, with one ingredient: tomatoes), water, and Italian seasonings.
- Put pizza back into the oven and bake for another 5-10 minutes, depending how crispy you like it.
- Once finished baking, remove from oven and let cool for several minutes.
- Slice with a pizza cutter and enjoy!
Give it a try and let me know what works for you and what doesn’t because this is one recipe that I definitely want to master!
This weekend was a little bit backwards from how my weekends normally go – mostly because of the weather. Saturday started off cloudy and rainy, and I had to go into work for a few hours in the morning, so I decided to get all my weekly chores out of the way right off the bat.
After work, I headed straight to the gym to get in one more workout for the week. Being at the Y on a Saturday morning between 9 and 11 is really not fun to me because of how crowded it gets, but luckily by the time I was finishing up, it was clearing out.
Despite the crowds, I do love Saturday workouts because they often mean I can spend as long as I want in the gym. I can move slower, spend more time on things I want to work on, and practically get as much in as I feel like with nothing pressing to rush off to. That’s definitely how it went this weekend, and it was good to spend some extra time stretching and working on some new moves that I’ve been trying to master.
Here’s what my Saturday workout looked like:
- Warm-up + stretch
- Back squats:
- 12 @ 95#; 10 @ 105#; 8 @ 135#; 5 @ 155#
- 5×3: 185#; 155#; 135#; 105#; 95#
- 15×3 @ 35#:
- Shoulder press
- Upright rows
- Front squats: 5×5 @ 95#
- 1 Snatch + 5 Overhead squats x10 @ 55#
- Squat cleans: 5×5 @ 553
- Sumo deadlift high pulls: 5×5 @ 55#
- RDLs: 5×5 @ 55#
- Snatch drills
After my long workout, I headed home to clean my apartment and do my laundry, stopping for lunch in between. I wanted Mexican, so I cooked up chicken and peppers in a pan on the stove with chili powder and cumin, and had some chips and salsa on the side.
The rest of the day was spent shopping for new workout pants (found a pair at TJ Maxx) and running errands. And while I was out… all I was thinking about was pizza. I haven’t had pizza in quite a while, so I was thinking about stopping to pick one up, when the idea hit me: cauliflower crust pizza. I’d been wanting to try it out for a while, and with some time to kill and a craving for pizza, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. It came out absolutely wonderful too, so I’ll definitely be sharing the recipe later this week.
I woke up early on Sunday and started the day off with a big batch of extra-green spinach banana pancakes with syrup, berries, and bacon. I’m not quite sure what went wrong this time, but they all stuck to the pan and it was rather devastating. Luckily they were still delicious (even if they weren’t that pretty), but I think it might be time to buy a new, non-burnt pan…
After breakfast, I hurried off to meet up with a couple friends to hike Mt. Monadnock. It was the absolute perfect day for a hike – sunny and warm but not brutally hot.
Apparently a lot of other people had the same idea as we did because the parking lot was packed, but luckily the trail didn’t feel crowded at all. We took a trail I’d never done before, which seemed far less-traveled than the main one, and we only passed by a few other groups the entire time.
The clear skies made for picturesque views all around, and I took it all in from the top. I’m severely directionally-challenged, but on a clear day, they say you can see Boston from the summit.
How lucky am I to live in such a beautiful place?! (The correct answer would be: pretty dang lucky.) I absolutely love it here.
Once we made it back to the base, I headed home and spent a couple hours out lounging by the pool at my apartment. It wasn’t quite warm enough for me to want to take a dip, but it was nice to get a little sun.
And the last stop of the day was the kitchen for some meal prep. Since I did groceries on Friday, my fridge is absolutely filled to the brim with food… Chicken, steak, eggs, fruits, and veggies galore!
This week, I decided to take the easy route and make one batch of meatloaf filling and turn it into two different types of meals. Sometimes I make a meatloaf that lasts me practically an entire week, but I’m so sick of it after a few days that I’m shoving it in just to keep from wasting it.
To avoid that, I combined a pound of ground turkey, two plum tomatoes, one green pepper, one egg, about 1/4 cup of almond flour, and a couple tablespoons of tomato paste (ingredients: tomatoes), to make the base. Then, I put half of it into a loaf pan and topped it with bacon, and made half of it into meatballs. I baked both in the oven, cooked up some green beans to go with the meatloaf, and peppers to go with the meatballs (I’ll probably add fresh spinach when I actually eat them), and voila – two very different meals.
I don’t usually add tomato paste to my meatloaf, but I tried it out for dinner last night, and I think it was a great choice. I had it leftover from Saturday’s pizza, and it definitely gave the meatloaf an extra kick and made it nice and moist.
I also had quite a few bananas laying around, so I made a batch of banana bread muffins using three bananas, six eggs, about 1/3 cup (maybe?) of almond flour, a big tablespoon of coconut flower, a pinch of baking soda and baking powder, four teaspoons of coconut oil, and a crapload of cinnamon. (I’m so precise, I know.) Since the loaf pan was occupied with the meatloaf, I used my individual brownie pan, and they came out wonderful. It made six pretty large muffins, which would be perfect for either breakfast or dessert!
So between working and spending too much time at the gym and shopping and cooking and hiking and napping by the pool… this weekend certainly flew by. Sometimes though – like in this case – that’s the sign of a really good weekend, so you won’t hear me complaining. We’ve only got so many summer weekends to enjoy, and I think I’m off to a good start!
What did you meal prep for this week?
What did you do this weekend?
Do you like hiking?