Monday, October 20, 2014

End-of-Week Recap

I can't believe it is Monday already! Where did the weekend go? I was really pleased with how I did this week, even though we did go out to dinner three times. Here is a quick recap of the end of the week... Saturday We stayed over at my Mom's house on Friday night after a dinner at the Tokeneke Club. Such a treat! I got up at 6:50 to take Rusty for a walk with my Mom's dog, Lucy. We walked for about a half hour and then I came back to get ready for Crossfit. Our regular coach wasn't there, so our workout was a little different. Tons of box jumps, which I'm still afraid of. Not sure I will ever get over that! I really liked the WOD though. It was 3 rounds of 15 deadlifts, 15 box jumps (I used a stack of weights instead) and a 400 meter run. We were aiming for 9 minutes or less, and I finished at 10:06. I am still carrying a lot of extra weight, so I was proud of myself to finish relatively close to 9:00. I thought I would finish closer to 15. After I got home from my gym and Daniel got home from his, we had breakfast (which really ended up being brunch). OMG pancakes. The best!
After our delicious brunch, we got a little bit of work done around the house. At 4PM, we went to our friend Sara's art show. She is so talented! Her turtle pictures made me reminisce about snorkeling in Hawaii.
We stayed at the show until they closed and then we went to Mikro for dinner. There was a little bit of a wait, but the food was really yummy once we were seated. Daniel and I split a burrata salad to start and I had a burger for an entree. We went home after dinner and hit the sack. Sunday I slept until 8:00AM! So late for me. I am usually up with our dog, Rusty by 7:00, so this was quite a snooze for me. Daniel got up earlier and took Rusty for a walk while I caught some extra z's. When I got up, Daniel had breakfast re-heating in the oven (we have a mini-kitchen). For breakfast we had French press coffee, OMG pancakes from Saturday, leftover bacon, and some greek yogurt with blueberry jam.
The blueberry jam is homemade from our friend, Leslie. She gave it to us over a year ago and we have been savoring it ever since. There is nothing like those Maine blueberries! After breakfast, we decided to go for a walk in Devil's Den. It is a Nature Preserve just one street over from our street. It is so close by and this was only our second visit.
It is such a pretty time of year to hike at Devil's Den! No mosquitoes is a definite bonus. They love me and the feeling is not mutual.
Devil's Den is very clearly marked, and they have a sign-in post when you enter the park. They also have maps for visitors. We took one and kept it, in hopes that we will go there more often.
The fallen leaves were so pretty!
We hiked in Devil's Den for 3 hours. We are trying to get ready for our big trip to Peru in July.
My stomach was growling by the time we got back to the apartment. Daniel whipped up some chicken salad with leftover chicken, greek yogurt, a tablespoon of curry powder, 1 avocado, red onion, and some raisins. Such a perfect lunch.
I just needed a square or two of dark chocolate after lunch. I love this Trader Joe's dark chocolate. It is so dark that I only need a square or two to feel satisfied.
We cleaned up and did some more work and then our wedding photographer (and dear friend), Molly came over to discuss our wedding album. Before going over the layout for our album, Daniel and I made dinner. I put together a salad with mixed greens, dried cranberries, blue cheese, red onion, and walnuts. Daniel made a masterpiece on the grill. He marinated pork chops in soy sauce for about an hour. He grilled the pork and then melted a slice of gouda cheese on each piece. He served the pork with grilled slices of pineapple. It was so delicious, I didn't get a picture with a full plate.
Yup! I dove right in. Delicious! When Molly left, it was time for bed to rest up for my first graders. Such a nice weekend!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

2 Days in a Row

Part of my switch to a more primal diet has been reading blog posts on Mark's Daily Apple. Mark advocates practicing fasting on occasion and I had one such un-planned fast today. While Daniel and I had the best of intentions of cooking on Sunday and making meals for the week, we visited some friends instead. With all that has been happening over the last two months, I was happy to fit in some much needed friend time, even if it was at the cost of being prepared for the week. As a result, I didn't have lunch made for today, and my plan of ordering a salad at school got scrapped with a late arrival to work and a parent meeting at 8:30. When I realized I forgot to order lunch (just 15 minutes prior to my lunchtime) and I had a ton of work to do, I decided this would just serve as a mini-fast. I would just skip lunch. I was productive during my fasting lunch and wasn't that hungry. I used almond milk in my breakfast shake (instead of water) and I think that had something to do with my staying full and satisfied for longer. This might have to be a permanent change... While I wasn't that hungry after work, I was nervous to go to tutoring with nothing in my stomach since breakfast. So I polished off some Spanish Almonds from Whole Foods (I'm addicted - and they've been on sale).
I also finished half a bag of plantain chips. Whoops!
And tried four of these. I am not a fan - not worth the flour cheat!
Although it was a lot of snacking, I avoided Donut Delight. My tutoring gig helped me to develop a Tuesday afternoon habit of visiting Donut Delight. I would order a coffee and a glazed donut or a bagel toasted with butter. Tasted great, but packed on the pounds AND made me fall asleep at tutoring every time. So embarassing. Since I've cut out those Tuesday afternoon visits, I've stayed awake for every tutoring session. Dinner was just as unplanned as lunch today and Daniel and I made a quick trip to Whole Foods. I got kale salad, beet salad, and roasted butternut squash with peppers. When we got home, I had a few more plantain chips with guacamole, a Trader Joe's pork sausage and my roasted butternut squash. I was full before I could dive in to the kale and beets. Looks like I have a healthy lunch for tomorrow.
Of course I'm never too full for a little dark chocolate. I had 4 mini-squares from a Trader Joe's dark chocolate bar. Yum!

Monday, October 13, 2014

I ran my 2nd marathon...a year ago.

I recently met with a colleague to discuss some research ideas with which I've been toiling, and she advised that I pursue my research aspirations, but why not I start a blog in the meantime. I replied that I did have a blog! A long-neglected blog! One that I seemed to lose track of when I started teaching. Teaching has a way of doing that. Of taking over your life. I was warned, and I wouldn't change my decision to be a teacher, but I've noticed that in the last four years, since I went back to grad school, got my Master's and started my job as a first grade teacher, a lot of my interests have fallen by the wayside. I am hoping I can make a comeback this year. Not only with my neglected blog, but with my relationship with food and exercise habits. I realized that it was a year ago this weekend that I ran my second marathon.
It wasn't an easy race for me. I had grand aspirations of breaking my first marathon time, and instead, it took me about an hour longer to complete the 26.2 miles. Somewhere in our training my husband and I decided that we would be better off doing a run/walk combination. It got us through training and it got us through the race. I highly recommend it if you're considering. It just meant letting go of my goal. Although I didn't achieve my marathon goal last year, the race did help me reach a health and fitness goal that I had since college. I wanted to get my weight back down to 140lbs. Somewhere in between college, study abroad, living it up in Los Angeles, a second move across the country, and a career change, my weight and fitness level went through so many ups and downs and hovered around the 155 - 160 mark. With our wedding on the horizon, and a marathon two months before the wedding, it seemed like the perfect time to finally get rid of that extra weight. Through the marathon training, eating something similar to the Paleo diet, and lots of Core Fusion classes at Exhale, I got my weight down to 138lbs. I was so proud of myself! I expected to gain a little weight after the wedding. I was able to fit in my dress, so the pressure was off. We went on our honeymoon, sold our house, moved, and from February to June, we ate far too much fast food. The weight seemed to come back on a lot faster than it came off and before I knew it, I was back at 160. Our trip to Iceland and Germany in July packed on another 10lbs, and by August 2014, I weighed over 170lbs. The most I've ever weighed in my life. So on this anniversary of running my second marathon, it is hard to believe I was able to run or even run/walk that distance just a year ago.
I am hoping to reclaim this blog and visit at least once per week. I am hoping that writing about my progress will hold me accountable. I'm trying once again to eliminate grains, legumes, and limit dairy in my diet and I joined a Crossfit gym. My tiny victory today was not reaching for the danish sitting in front of me at Professional Development. Here is to many more tiny victories and achieving my goal again. I can do this. Baby steps.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sick Day

Work and jam-packed weekends got the best of me and I've been sick for a little over a week. I decided to stay home today to sleep for most of the day. Mission accomplished, but I had to eat. I purchased some broccoli last Sunday in hopes of making a broccoli salad for my work lunches this week. At least I got it done for Friday right? Better late than never. In attempt to look my best for our wedding (now in only 65 days!), I'm trying to focus on lots of veggies and fruit. This broccoli salad was calling my name. The recipe is from Primal Cravings, a Paleo cookbook, and while I'm not completely Paleo, the recipes in this book are winners. The recipe called for raw broccoli, but I decided to cook it for a short time to take the edge off. You need: 1 12 oz. package of bacon (I love Nature's Promise the best) 1 pound of broccoli 1/3 cup raisins 1/3 cup slivered almonds 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar I like to cook bacon at 350 for 23 minutes. Once the bacon has cooled, cut it into small pieces. Cut the crown of the broccoli into bite-sized pieces. In a saute pan, use some of the leftover bacon fat from the baking sheet to cook the broccoli over medium heat. I cooked the broccoli until it was a more brilliant green, but still plenty crunchy. Transfer the broccoli and bacon pieces over to a bowl. Mix in the raisins and almonds and pour the red wine vinegar over the mixture. Stir until coated. Enjoy right away or pack away in the refrigerator for lunches like me. Yum!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Back on the Wagon

It was back to Weight Watchers this evening after a week in Barbados eating copious amounts of food. On the menu this evening, Wild Scottish Salmon and Sweet Potato Spears, inspiration courtesy of the blog Carrots and Cake. The salmon was a little over done. I think next time I would cook it at a lower temperature for a longer time. The 4 oz. fillets were cooked at 325 for 20 minutes. Prior to putting the fish in the oven, I sprinkled some Whole Foods Jerk Seasoning on the top of each fillet. For the sweet potato spears, two sweet potatoes were cut into skinny wedges, tossed in olive oil (I used my fancy truffle olive oil for these guys), and then topped with a pinch of sea salt before going in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. We put them back in on broil for 3 minutes to get them extra crispy. It isn't flying fish in Barbados, but I'll take it. Yum. Happy 2013 all!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Estia's American

Wow! I can't believe I haven't blogged since December! Hard to believe it is already mid-April and I"ll be posting for the first time in 2012. Time is flying.

I am on April vacation for the week so my Mom treated me to breakfast at the new Darien, CT eatery, Estia's American. Although Estia's is new to Darien, they are also located in Sag Harbor, NY as Estia's Little Kitchen. My Mom and I split an omelet and blueberry pancakes. We went for the mushroom & goat cheese combination with whole wheat toast & fresh fruit. The omelet was even better when I had a couple of bites with Estia's homemade hot sauces (red & green). The blueberry pancakes were wonderful - the pancakes were fluffy and the blueberries were plump and just the right amount of sweet. We both had mugs of Kobrick's coffee, although I think I could have gone for an iced coffee on a warm day like today.

There is patio seating, but the interior is adorable and feels like home. Some of my favorite cookbooks sit atop table dividers in the middle of the space. Books by Alice Waters and chalkboards are usually an indication of good, wholesome eats.

I took a freshly squeezed beet & apple juice to go. Our waitress reminded me that beet juice is good for your blood. It seems that Estia's is good for me. I can't wait to go back...

Estia's American
Open for breakfast & lunch. Opening for dinner in May 2012
1020 Post Road
Darien, CT
(203) 202-7051

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rosemary Shortbread with Candied Walnuts

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap was a huge success in my book. I was very pleased with my creation and even more important, I got to eat amazing cookies from California, Maryland, and Minnesota. I can't tell you how excited I was to check the mailbox for the last week. I was so sad when my final dozen arrived, but elated that my last batch was inspired by one of my favorites...Heidi Swanson (

I was happy to send my rosemary shortbread out to:

Laura from
Naomi from
Kim from

It was such a coincidence that my Minnesota arrival was inspired by Heidi Swanson, since my cookie idea stemmed from my love of Heidi's recipe for Brown Sugar Rosemary Walnuts. I made the candied walnuts earlier this fall and wanted to incorporate elements of the recipe into my cookie swap idea. I adore shortbread and thought it would travel and keep well, thus rosemary shortbread with candied walnuts.

Start with the walnuts...

1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoons sea salt
2 large egg whites
4 cups (1 pound) shelled walnut halves

Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. You want the parchment paper - this is a sticky situation when these come out of the oven.

Mix the sugar and salt in a small bowl. Put the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk the egg whites to break them up. Pour the walnuts into the egg whites and mix until the walnuts are coated. Pour the sugar & salt mixture into the walnuts and toss until the nuts are covered.

Spread the nuts over the two sheets in a single layer. Bake for 25 minutes or until the walnuts are golden. Let the sheets cool for a couple minutes before moving the parchment paper to a cooling rack. Let the nuts cool while you make the shortbread dough.

Now for the shortbread...

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar

The oven will stay at 300 degrees F (hopefully you didn't turn it off).

Combine flour, salt, baking powder, and rosemary in a medium bowl.

Mix the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer at low speed, then add flour mixture and mix until dough resembles coarse meal. Gather dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead dough until it just comes together, about 8 times. Halve dough and form each half into a 5-inch disk.

Roll out 1 disk (keep remaining dough at room temperature) between 2 sheets of parchment or with a lightly floured rolling pin. If you used parchment, take off the top layer and use a biscuit or round cookie cutter to make rounds out of the dough. I didn't have my biscuit or cookie cutters handy, so I used a glass (which I also floured). Depending on the size rounds, this recipe will make close to two dozen cookies. After you transfer the rounds to your cookie sheet, place a walnut or walnut cluster in the center of each shortbread. Press down lightly.

Bake the cookies until they are golden brown, 20 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a rack and cool 5 minutes.

Package with rosemary sprigs when sharing with someone special...And yes, those are crumbs in the picture. I was sampling while packaging. I had to make sure they were up to par in order to share.

Recipe inspired by:

"Brown Sugar & Rosemary Walnuts" by Heidi Swanson, 2011

Rosemary Shortbread by Gourmet, 2002