Kimchi Bowl with Red Curry Almond Sauce

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Happy Tuesday all! I’m right in the middle of a crazy week of research but made this recipe last night and it was SO good, it’s a must-share. I love the idea of “throw it all together” bowls – an easy, stress-free, busy weeknight meal (as you know, lots of recipes around here follow a pretty simple formula: grain + veggies + protein + delicious sauce = booyah). My sister was the one who gave me the idea to make rice bowls for dinner when I’m super busy during the week. As a working mom of a two-year-old, she knows what’s up. She recommended that I get myself a rice cooker, as it’s a no-brainer: it eliminates one step in the prep process. You throw the rice in there, don’t even have to pay attention to what it’s doing, and it will always come out perfect. If you’ve been following along the past few years, you’ll know that I love me some quinoa, and quinoa works perfectly in a rice cooker too. SLAM DUNK.

I originally saw this recipe posted on Shape.com and found it comes from a cookbook called Vegan Bowl Attack. Right up my alley, right? I changed a few things in the recipe: I used way more lime in the sauce because I’m obsessed with lime and there is no such thing as too much citrus IMO, and I substituted black quinoa for brown rice (just cuz I felt like it). When I made it the first time, I added sautéed mushrooms and used Romanesco instead of regular broccoli. Either way – it’s damn good.

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Kimchi Bowl with Red Curry Almond Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup black quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water*
  • 1 pound broccoli florets
  • 1 can (15 ounces) adzuki beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon liquid aminos
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 2 – 3  limes, juiced
  • 1 cup store-bought vegan kimchi
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

Directions:

    1. Place the quinoa and water in a rice cooker and cook for 20 minutes or until the quinoa is soft.
    2. Bring water to boil on the stovetop to steam broccoli. Place the broccoli florets in the steamer basket and cook for 5 minutes, or until bright green and slightly crunchy.
    3. In a small pan over medium heat, mix the adzuki beans with the liquid aminos and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
    4. To make the red curry almond sauce, whisk all water, almond butter, red curry paste, and lime juice together until smooth.
    5. Divide the quinoa and broccoli among 4 bowls. Divide the adzuki beans among the bowls. Place one-quarter of the kimchi in each bowl and drizzle the red curry almond sauce over the top. Garnish with the black sesame seeds and serve.

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This recipe was STELLAR. The sauce is amazing, and it’s super simple: everything is ready in less than half an hour (which also reduces the likelihood that I will eat an entire container of hummus before my dinner is ready). And when you’re super busy (as we all seem to be) and trying to eat healthy, nothing is better than being able to whip up something super delicious with minimal prep.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 🙂

With warmth,

L

Doing Your Best

…is what life is all about. Obviously, I slightly fell off the face of Earth this summer juggling my workouts/getting back into the healthy eating groove/grad school/research/life’s responsibilities/as much fun as I can pack into every summer weekend. I’m happy to report that, despite not blogging every step of the way, I did indeed stick to “Fat Camp” aka Operation Booyah. Not every day was perfect, as you can imagine. But I didn’t give up, and even though there were many days where I did not feel like doing my workout, I managed to find a way to be active and feel like I did something toward my goal. Instead of my typical “PUSH THROUGH IT” modus operandi, I embraced a gentler, more go-with-the-flow attitude. If I had Leg Day scheduled, picked up the barbell and just didn’t feel like it, I didn’t force it. When you’ve been a fitness fanatic for the past 3 years, it’s not that hard to come up with something else to do on the fly. I learned some things throughout this process of getting back into my groove. And now I’m happy to share them with you. 🙂

  1. Fitness should be fun. Don’t force it if you’re not feeling it (maybe your body is telling you something, like take a rest day). Being active should be joyful, refreshing, challenging, and empowering but not something you dread. If you’re dreading your workout, you’re doing it wrong. Approach being active from a positive place instead of feeling obligated to stick to some kind of insane punishing workout, and your whole mood will change. Life is hard enough as it is, you don’t need to torture yourself to be active.
  2. Perfection is overrated. I did my best to stick to a consistent healthy eating plan, but I also ate birthday cake and sipped on some fancy cocktails. Hello, I’m not a monk. During the week it was a breeze, but I spent a lot of my weekends traveling to visit friends/family. Logging my meals into MyFitnessPal helped me stay on track for the most part, but I didn’t beat myself up if I missed a day or two. Life is about being flexible. And eating two loaded veggie burgers at your sister’s BBQ if you want them, damn it. 😉
  3. Stick to your mental game. When I realized I needed to change my eating and exercise habits back in May, it was easy to slip into a negative headspace. Let’s be honest, when you can’t zip up your favorite pair of pants, it’s hard to come from a Pollyanna place of self-love and see the positive side of things. Monitoring your progress in some way, and looking back to seeing how far you’ve come helps keep your head in the game.
  4. Do not let anyone else’s opinion besides your own stick in your head. I heard a lot of comments about my recommitment to healthy eating and fitness. Things like “You’re exercising too much”/ “Do you always eat that healthy?” / “It looks like you’ve lost a lot of weight” / “I could never do that. It must be so boring to eat so healthy all of the time” / blahblahblah. You’ve gotta put on your Zero F***s Given Glasses and just let all of that stuff rolllllll offfff your shoulders. Guess what? Those people don’t live in your body, only you do. You do you, and to hell with anyone who stands in your way.
  5. Celebrate each milestone on the way to your goal. Acknowledge your hard work and accomplishments, and  allow yourself to fully appreciate how much time, effort and energy you put into working toward a goal. That is not a small thing.

Since I started back in May, I have lost 8.5 pounds and one dress size, can now squat and deadlift 110% of my bodyweight, and box jump and burpee to my heart’s content. All from sticking to guns, following through with a healthy eating plan and committing to consistently working out. Changing my approach to self-love instead of self-ass kicking totally revamped the amount of stress and pressure I felt to get back into shape. Now that I’m back, I’m looking forward to creating more fun, joyful workouts and experimenting more in the kitchen.

I hope all of you have had a peaceful and fulfilling summer.

With warmth,

L

OH PS: I’ve got some sick Rosé hair now 😉

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Day 5 of Operation Booyah

So far, so good! Here are some things that have happened since Fat Camp started on Monday:

  1. My skin looks amaze. I started downing water like a pro, and not only do I get extra steps in because I have to walk to the bathroom to pee every hour on the hour, but it helps me not feel so hungry (it’s turned into my own drinking game, every time I feel something that resembles hunger, I drink aqua first). The water – it’s soo, sooo good.
  2. My body has fallen back into a very set schedule. I’ve always been like this – not only a morning person, but someone who thrives on consistency. I fall asleep at around 10 pm, I wake up at 5:50 am (almost on the dot, it’s uncanny). Which is why I’m awake, writing to you folks at 6:30 am on a Saturday. Eye-roll.
  3. Biking to campus for “work” (aka grad school, I still think of myself as part of the workforce and not really a student, since I go in during normal work hours) has been a game-changer. Not only does it wake me up and make me feel energized for the day, but it is so, so relaxing. I don’t have to worry about traffic, I don’t have to worry about getting a good parking spot, I don’t have to worry I’m going to be late because I have to get gas, etc. It is meditative. Since I leave pretty early (around 7 am), the morning dew is still sparkling on the grass, my animal friends make me feel like an animated character in Cinderella, and it’s so, so quiet. At the end of the day, there is nothing better than getting outside in the fresh air after being stuck inside all day. Some days I feel a little grumpy about it, and my car keys sitting on the counter are quite tempting, but I have stuck to it every day and have no regrets!
  4. Tracking my calories/macros is not as annoying as you’d think. MyFitnessPal is a dream come true in an app, for a Fat Camp participant. The best thing? It syncs with my Garmin Vivosmart for step counts and activities (such as runs), and then adds the extra calories I’ve burned for me to eat when I’m active (which I am). Hallelujah! As for sticking to my diet, Volumetrics is the name of the game here – I’ve been eating lots of large volumes of low calorie foods so I don’t feel starving throughout the day.
  5. The mental benefit has been the best. Even though I don’t really “look” different after only 5 days of working out and watching what I eat, I feel totally different. I have more energy, and more joie de vivre – I’m back! My muscles are sore in a good way, my insides feel better when I eat all the green things, and all those endorphins flowing are just spectacular.

The fact that I want this, and am approaching this situation from a place of love makes it different from all of my other endeavors in healthy eating/working out. I want to feel strong. I miss the feeling of being really fit – like I could run a 5K at any moment, go on a super long hike in the White Mountains without wanting to die, do a double header of classes on Saturday morning at BSC with my fave gym ladies. I miss all of that, and I want it back. So working hard for it and sticking to my macros has not been nearly as difficult or soul-crushing as I anticipated. I am working towards the best version of Booyah.

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With that, I’ll wish you all a happy weekend! It’s my first rest day since I’ve started and daaaang do I need it. 🙂

Warmth and love,

L

Day 1 of Operation Booyah

Hi, hello and happy Monday! L here, reporting live from the ground at Operation Booyah, aka Day 1 of Fat Camp (from now on, I will be referring to my journey to get back into tough as nails shape as Operation Booyah). Blogging about this journey seems to be the best way to hold myself accountable, and I will take you through my highs and lows as I continue to share recipes, tips and motivational boosts.

In order to help this process along as efficiently as possible, I’ve started tracking my meals and striving for a goal of being active for 1 hour a day, six days a week. Active doesn’t mean doing an insane HIIT session for 60 minutes every day, but includes things like hiking and even just going for a walk after work, and taking rest days when I need them. I’m optimistic but not insane, I know that going from 0 to 60 is going to be hellish (aka, I’ll be moving around like a robot) until I get over The Hump and exercise comes easy once again.

Some notes so far: 

  1. It really, really sucks to not be able to blob on the couch after work, watch Netflix in my comfy pants, drink as much wine as I feel like and eat waffle fries covered in Frank’s Hot Sauce for dinner. Even though I’m a student again, my 19 year-old metabolism is a thing of the distant past so that’s no longer an appropriate stress reliever (or something that I can do most nights without repercussion – see not being able to button my pants in my previous post, oy vey).
  2. I forgot what it felt like to be ACTUALLY hungry. If I felt distant pangs of hunger, I would eat a snack, procured from the infamous snack drawer in my office that was mostly filled with candy (Food Science people always have candy around, dammit) . Now, I am being more thoughtful with those feelings, and giving them a closer look. Why do I want to eat? Am I bored? Sad? Stressed? Thirsty? Or, am I just really hungry? Instead of shoving food in my face to satisfy those pangs, I’ve been going with the “water first” policy to reassess. Fun? Nope. Necessary? Yeahhh…
  3. Working out DOES make you feel good. See: endorphins. When you get in a rut, it’s hard to remember how rewarding it is to absolutely smash (or at least put your best foot forward toward) a workout.
  4. I’m still L. No matter how I feel, I am still the strong woman who kicked ass and ran a half marathon under two hours, crushed a Tough Mudder, had the strength to up-end my life in Boston to start grad school, all in order to work toward my goals and live a rewarding life. I will get there. It may take time, be a total effing pain in the ass, and at times not that fun, but I will get there. I am determined. Let’s keep movin’ forward.

I’ll be back tomorrow to give you my meal plan for the week. Happy Monday, all!

With warmth,

L

 

Little Miss Booyah Goes to Fat Camp

When I was in the midst of half-marathon training, push-up crushing and generally owning life, I donated all my fat pants. You know, those pants you wear when your muffin top is busting out of your normal clothes, after holidays and vacations or extended breaks from the gym. I was so deep in Booyah that I was totally in denial of thinking I would ever need those pants again. Why would I ever stop working out consistently? It made me feeling amazing, strong, empowered – I slept like a champ, I could fit into all of my clothes with room to spare. No need for those pants now that I was firmly planted in Booyahville.

Wrong, oh so wrong. When do you need your fat pants? Maybe when you stop working out because you’re in grad school and have no time or mental energy to devote to staying fit. Or maybe when you stop eating fruit/vegetables at every meal and replace your meals with Earth Balance Mac N’Cheeze and waffle fries because you just don’t have it in you to cook up something healthy that actually takes time, planning and thought. Basically, when you give up just so you can make it through your semester in one piece. Yeah. I’m there!

I did in fact make it, and crush my first semester (with only one A- ruining my perfect 4.0, 3.95 isn’t too shabby, though). And I’ve made it to summer, where my only focus is on my thesis project and doing research during normal work day hours, and my free time comes back to me in spades. Since I had only really been wearing Lulu pants, it didn’t dawn on me that I gained weight until I tried to button my favorite skinnies and it wasn’t going to happen. Well, sh*t. I made some half hearted attempts during the past two weeks to getting back on track, but this is it: I’m not going to magically recover my upper body strength or running stamina by giving it 50%. Oh no sir – we are going for it, Booyah-style.

The confounding factor here is that my asthma and allergies are at an all-time high: I get winded quickly, and now that I live in the woods the pollen is about 153198% worse than it was in Boston, so this will be an uphill battle. But I’m stubborn AF and this is happening, dammit.

With no big races on the docket, the only thing I’m training and eating for is a better and healthier ME. One that can run a 5K on a dime, do manual labor without being sore to the touch the next day and feel glow-y inside and out. So here we go, Booyahs. Get pumped. I will be tracking my meals and workouts, and focusing on being active every single day in some way, and planning my meals in advance. Back to Booyahville we go. Buckle up!

With warmth,

L

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Do you ever have a day where you feel like biting into a chocolate chip cookie warm from the oven would dissolve your stress and make you feel waaaaay better about life? Today I had that day. This week was a long one – full of exams and general school/life stress. It’s the final push to the end of my first semester in grad school, and I needed to whip up something good to help me to keep powering through. After not being a student for six years, you quickly forget what it’s like. 😉

Being in the kitchen is my number two favorite way to relax (clocking in right behind going for a long trail run), and I find baking to be especially soothing. These chocolate chip cookies are sooo delicious – they would fool your Grandma into thinking you made them from the Tollhouse recipe. Not only are they completely dairy and egg free, but they don’t have anything weird in them – so they are easy to whip up with ingredients on hand. I hope you enjoy this vegan treat as much as I did. 🙂

L’s Delicious AF Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips (or the whole 12 oz bag, whatev)
1 cup chopped pecans, if you feel like it

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 or 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat (if you don’t have either of those, no worries – they work fine on regular ass baking sheets).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a kitchen mixer or hand mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, sugar, water, and vanilla until fluffy. Slowly beat in the flour mixture in portions. Once the flour mixture is incorporated, add chocolate chips and pecans.
  4. Scoop about 1 rounded tablespoon of dough at a time onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each scoop. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Let cool on the pan and serve.

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I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

With warmth,

L

Getting Back to the Grind

Hey guys and dolls! I’ve recently had a reader request for my best tips for getting back into working out/eating healthy mode while still working 40+ hours a week. You’re in luck, as I’ve turned that into an art form over here at B&B. 😉 We all have had our moments of falling off the Booyah wagon, but what you may not realize is that it’s really not difficult to hop right back on (I swear). Here’s how to get right back into it:

  1. Realize that you don’t have to be perfect. Make your workout/eating healthy goals achievable, and gradually work up to bigger and tougher. Start out by setting a weekly goal that you can totally crush, such as “work out three days a week” instead of “wake up at 5 am and work out before work every day this week.” Being realistic with your goals when you’re trying to get back into it helps motivate you and gives you something to strive for. Writing them down helps, too! You can track your progress and reflect on what you’ve accomplished each week. Once you feel comfortable and start crushing those weekly milestones, reassess your goals in order to keep pushing the limits. It’s okay to start off slow – if you set the bar too high straight out of the gate, it’s tempting to get down on yourself when you can’t achieve goals that are simply unrealistic. Be nice to yourself, and acknowledge it will take time to get there – and that is totally ok. 🙂
  2. Meal prep the shiz out of your weekend and week nights. IMG_2693.JPGIt’s easy to disregard this as unimportant, but eating well goes hand in hand with exercise. I’ve definitely found a correlation between eating healthy and being motivated to work out regularly. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but I prepare my lunch and breakfast for the next day every single night during the week. It takes less than 15 minutes and is one of the single most important ways to follow through with your healthy eating goals. Not only will it save you money and time from having to buy your lunch, but you will have something healthy and delicious to eat that will power you through your day. It is definitely worth the one hour per week to thoughtfully plan out all of your meals, make a grocery list, and get your rear to the grocery store to get everything you need to make your awesome meal plan come to fruition. I usually cook up an extensive and epically delicious feast on Sunday nights, so the leftovers can sustain me for several nights that week. With a little planning ahead, I can choose something quick, easy and uncomplicated to whip up if and when I run out of leftovers. When it comes to eating well, preparation and planning is the name of the game. And it’s seriously the easiest thing you can do to get your head in the game at the start of each week.
  3. Choose something you like to do for a workout and grab a workout buddy. photo 1.JPGIf you hate running, don’t choose to run as your workout. Pick something that you look forward to, or an activity that excites you. This should be a no brainer – life is too short to suffer through something you absolutely hate, when there are plenty of fun options to choose from. If you’re dying to shake your booty while listening to some Pitbull, hit up a Zumba class. If you had a less than stellar day and you want to kick the sh*t out of something, find a solid kickboxing class. Better yet, recruit a gym buddy to go with you to workout – you are so much more likely to stick with it. It may be tempting to skip your workout if it’s just you, but you’re not going to bail on your friend! Using the buddy system for your workouts is a huge motivating factor – you can cheer each other on and help each other stick to it.
  4. Plan your workouts. Like, literally put them in your calendar. Only you know the best times for you to get workout in, so pick what is reasonable and works for your schedule. Physically writing them down in your calendar and allotting a block of time for you to exercise is a concrete and productive way to commit to your workout. Now that I am a grad student, my days can be pretty long. I may not always have control over what time I get home at night, but I do have control over what time I wake up in the morning, so scheduling a first-thing-in-the-morning workout helps me sidestep the “shoot, it’s 10 pm and I didn’t get a workout in yet!” moment. Some days I even break up my exercise into two 20-25 minute sweat sessions. The possibilities are endless: you do what works for you.
  5. All the healthy snacks plus a water bottle. tritan-all_2.jpgOne of the best things I’ve ever done to help me stay on track with my healthy eating goals was to bring a reusable water bottle to work and keep it at my desk. If you’ve just eaten a solid meal and you think you’re still hungry mid-morning or mid-afternoon, try taking a good long drink of water first. Your body (that devil!) can trick you into thinking that you are hungry if you are simply dehydrated. Once I started setting goals for the amount of water to consume per day, I found that I was snacking out of boredom less, and generally felt more alert and awake (bonus: it makes you get up and walk around more, because you will literally have to pee 20 times a day when you’re well hydrated). Then there are those days when you might just be really, really hungry.  It happens! I avoid becoming Hangry L and eating all the food within reach by pre-portioning healthy snacks – trail mix, popcorn, fruits and veggies, you know the drill – and stocking them in a drawer at my desk for when the hungry horrors hit. It’s much easier to just say no to the candy jar when there are healthy and delicious snacks on hand.
  6. Make it easy. FullSizeRender_1.jpgIf it’s easy (no matter what “it” is), you are so much more likely to do it. I’ve already touted the benefits of meal planning, drinking lots of water and stocking healthy snacks, which are super easy ways for you to make solid healthy eating choices. I’ve suggested grabbing your gym buddy and finding a way to sweat that doesn’t make you want to dramatically avoid exercise at all costs – the easiest way to stay accountable and motivated for your workouts. Now, be honest with yourself, take a good look at your exercise/eating habits and attempt to eliminate any other hurdles that may deter you from accomplishing your goals. Everyone is different, so I may not be able to pinpoint yours, but I can share some that have helped me:
    • Pack your gym bag the night before
    • Lay out your gym outfit for the next day
    • Bring a snack to get you through the 3 pm hangry zone if you’re planning to exercise after work
    • Stock extra headphones, hair elastics, water bottles, socks, whatever in your car or work bag so there are no excuses to bail on a workout
    • Plan out what you’re going to do before you get to the gym, so you’re not wandering aimlessly
    • Make a new playlist
    • Come up with a motivating mantra to help you kick your workout in the teeth

Basically, make it difficult to come up with an excuse to skip your workout. Additionally, remove temptation that prevents you from sticking with your healthy eating goals (like getting rid of junk food that you have difficulty eating in reasonable portions – I know that I can and will eat an entire Family Size bag of tortilla chips in one sitting, so I chose to not keep those snacks on hand). If you make the choice to work out and eat well simple and attainable, it becomes a no-brainer to stick to the plan.

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7. Get enough sleep. So important, but also very difficult with how crazy our schedules can be. If you don’t get enough sleep to get you through your day, it’s going to be tough to work out on top of that. Prioritize your sleep.

8. Be your own best friend. No beating yourself up, and treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. Changes take time, and if you approach them with a positive attitude, you’re more likely to get through the rough patches and stick with it. You can do this!

I hope that these tips have helped you get pumped up and motivated about getting right back on the Booyah Wagon. Sometimes it may seem insurmountable to get back into the workout/healthy eating routine, but I promise these are tried and true methods that I incorporate into my daily life to help me stick to my active lifestyle. Break it down day by day, and you will get there. I’m human; there are days that I can’t seem to get it together – we all have them – but planning ahead and focusing on your goal will help you get right back into it. And remember: it’s never too late to start. Best of luck, I know you’ll crush it. 😀

With warmth,

L