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

Friday Faves

Missed me, did ya? Don’t worry – I’ve got the low down on all the things I’ve been feeling lately. Let’s begin, shall we?

  1. Lisa Frank Workout Gear unicorn crop.jpg

Say whaaaat! You’ve gotta know that my obsession with Lisa Frank runs deep (#90schild), and this workout gear is super fun and a little bit over the top ridiculous – but working out should be fun, and your gear should be too. Loving it. I would 100% wear that unicorn crop top while getting down and dirty at the gym (and probably in real life too). Check out more here.

2. Proudly American Balega Socks

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Balega socks are some of the best running socks in the game, in my opinion. Super comfortable, plush, cushiony, breathable, easy to pull on and they hold up wonderfully in the wash. If I had unlimited funds, I would throw away all my crappy socks from Target and fill my drawer with Balega socks. Also, who would not want to support their country on their feet while getting their sweat on? I love the patriotic flair. Check them out here.

3. Garmin Vivosmart HR

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Sadly, my 2.5 year old Garmin Vivosmart watch died a tragic death this weekend, and since I depend on that bad boy to let me know when to get off my rear and get some more exercise during the day/sleep quality/a rough estimate of calories burned/etc, I felt compelled to immediately get the new generation of Garmin Vivosmart, with heart rate monitor included. IT. FREAKIN. RULES. Okay, so I’ve only had it for one day (and right now I’m having trouble syncing it with my phone, ugh the struggle!). But the design is an upgrade, with an actual watch closure instead of a snap closure that tends to fly off (say, when you’re doing box jumps and your watch catches on the side of your workout pants and goes flying off toward your friend – sorry, Rel!). The display is easier to read and use, and now includes weather data, which I find to be useful. AND it comes in three muted colors that aren’t as obnoxious at the first generation (I got the dark purple, obvs). If it ends up totally being a POS, I will let all of you know that. But so far, so good! 🙂

4. Athleta Semi-Annual Sale

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YAY! Now that I’m a grad student on a tight budget, I have sworn off my obsession with Lululemon (their price increase on their pants last summer did not help, either) and have become increasingly obsessed with Athleta. Their athleisure is very approachable (I’ve gotta some really cute non-workout things), and some of their workout gear is totally Booyah-approved. I may or may not have scooped up this dress:

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You can check out their sale here.

5. Work From Home – Fifth Harmony

 

This song has been in my head for two days. You’re welcome.

Happy Friday, all!! What are you up to this weekend? Tell me all about it in the comments!

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 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

 

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

Simple

It’s past 11 pm. According to my calculations, I should be deep into REM sleep by now. All of my things are ready: my gym bag is packed, my breakfast and lunch are sitting side by side in the humming darkness of my refrigerator. My teeth are brushed. But here I am. Wide awake.

Sometimes things don’t go the way we want them to. I could fill this white page with the clichés: you make plans and the universe laughs at them. Or something like that. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt a true aching need to tap tap tap on my keyboard, illuminated by the glare of my computer screen in my dark bedroom and let the words flow out of my fingertips. A loooong time. I’ll tell you something: I used to write a lot. When I couldn’t sleep, I would sit propped up in bed, a spiral notebook and a ballpoint pen, writing until I finally fell asleep, hoping that I didn’t wake up with ink stains on my bed sheets. When the words built up behind my tongue and buzzed up and down my nerves trying to tumble out, I would commit them to paper. When it seemed nothing made sense, or my mind wouldn’t quiet itself, with unspoken phrases pressing on my temples, I had to liberate my thoughts and manifest them somewhere physical. Spew them out. So let’s do this.

While I was walking to retrieve my laptop out of my impeccably packed work bag, I was thinking of what to write to all of you. Part of me wanted to apologize for not creating new recipes frequently enough. Or providing my detailed workouts on a weekly basis to inspire your own workout/activity. Instead I want to climb right outside of the box and share a (non-vegan, non-active) slice of my real life: change.

Let’s recap. At the end of 2015, I quit my job, left my life behind in Boston, moved to a new state and started graduate school. The first and most immediate adjustment was not being in a real job anymore. No one here cares if you wear a t-shirt that last came out of your dresser in 2006, or roll into class without showering after taking an 8 am spin class. It is so unnatural to not be Ms. Bostonian Senior Scientist anymore – my hands were constantly fiddling, looking for some work to do. The first few days I was here I felt like I was playing hooky from work and would eventually get caught, my manager calling me into his office. Just typing it out – that I’m a student – continues to be so weird and so foreign to me. I still consider myself a working professional, and have to fight the ingrained need to dress in business casual in order to attend Dairy Foods Processing Lab just to learn how to make yogurt. The second, and much deeper adjustment was the quiet. No, I’m not just talking about the fact that I packed up all my sh*t and moved to the woods (I did, in fact). I’m talking about the time available to reflect. My days were always full in Boston, a constant, reassuring cycle – I had my friends, my job, my home – that I took great pleasure in. Leaving all of that was a jolt, a break in a comfortable routine, making room for something new to arise in its place. Here there is time, quiet, and space to reflect on where I am heading and the present that I am creating for myself. My main man Alan Watts really says it best. It has been ages since I’ve read any of his work, until I came across this quote:

The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everyone rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves. 

Raises hand* Guilty as charged. For the past two and a half months, I was running around in a panic feeling the need to do, I forgot to just let go and immerse myself in the change. Sometimes we forget that. All of the things swirling around us – over analyzing, over thinking each and every one of them – cloud what is really in front of us (it’s simply us). We are only a tiny speck in the universe. We forget to embrace it, to go out and simply enjoy this beautiful experience.

Life is not so serious. If there is any way to do it right, it is simply to live life joyfully, and not worry so much about the other stuff. Create a present that you love.

 

With booyah zen 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