Friday Faves, yo!

It’s Friiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiday! It doesn’t even feel like it because Juno disrupted my work week. But it’s here! Woohooo!!! And that means, it’s time for my favorite post: Friday Faves! Here is what I’m all about this week:

1. Funny Workout Tanks

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These sassy workout tanks really make me LOL. Working out is supposed to be fun, isn’t it? I got an EVEN BETTER one but I’m going to make you all wait in eager anticipation, until the rest of my order comes in and my Tuesday early-AM workout crew can all wear them together and be matching while we’re dying doing burpees and mountain climbers (photo evidence to come). Yessssssssss! πŸ˜€

2. YakTrax Run Ice Cleats

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After reading tons of reviews on the wide varieties of ice cleats available for running, I chose these ones because of my specific needs. They perform really well on icy surfaces and snow covered plowed roads, not as great in deep snow or several inches of fresh powder over ice (and you definitely would not want to wear them on bare pavement). I usually run on snowy roads, plowed trails and sidewalks, so these seemed like the perfect choice for encountering ice in these conditions. Honestly, if it’s just fresh snow not more than a few inches deep, I’ll just run in my sneakers because I usually can get good enough traction in my Brooks Ghost 7’s. My long run last weekend was pretty slippery, and as I love to get up at the crack of dawn and hit the trails before they get busy, I am the first one to see the snow and ice. I’ve wiped out more times than I can count by being stubborn and heading out even when the conditions were sketchy, so I finally decided it was high time to take the safety level up a notch and stop gambling with the potential for injury. I am excited to try these out again this weekend! πŸ˜€

3. Petzl Tikka 2 Headlamp

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I just got this headlamp as my new and improved running safety feature number 2 (plus I plan on running the NYC Midnight Half this summer with my bff B and will probably need it then as well). I bought the basic version with LED lights (Petzl has really intense active, performance and specialized headlamps in addition to this one). Again, I did my research and found that even this “paired down” version was still great for running at night. I am fairly new to the night illumination running scene (mainly because I’m an idiot – don’t be like me and think you don’t need it!) and this makes a HUGE difference. It’s adjustable and fits on my head without slipping (my major concern was how annoying it would be sitting on my head, but you don’t even notice it once you get going – and I’m sure I’ll get used to it as I use it more often). These are the kinds of things that make me excited to get up and go for a run, whether it be at the crack of dawn or after work when it’s already dark outside. I’m sure that it will be stellar in the summers for camping/hiking/whatever as well. I’m pretty pumped about this! It really makes a big difference in nighttime runs. And dude, it’s purple. I mean – c’mon. It’s actually even cute!

4. Earthly Body Lip Balm

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I recently discovered this lip balm by Earthly Body and I’m obsessed. This lip balm is 100% natural, vegan, cruelty-free,Β  paraben-free and hemp oil based. Even PETA likes this company, which seems basically impossible (you can put down your cans of red paint now!). The best part about this product is that it actually works GREAT. And smells amazing too! I am a big fan of natural, cruelty-free beauty products and do my best to purchase those and support smaller businesses, but if it doesn’t work better than what I can get at the drugstore, I’m not going to use it (sorry, but real talk). I love discovering new brands that work as well (or even better) than the big name brands, and this one def fits the bill. Last week, I told you guys how my super sensitive redhead skin turns into the Sahara in the winter, and my lips are no exception. Not anymore! This lip balm is so dope.

5. This.

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I’m not going to an EDM show tonight, but I AM going to a concert, so take out “DJ” and replace with “band” and this meme would be 100% accurate. So pumped.

What do you guys have planned for this weekend? Tell me all about it Le Comments.

Hope you all have stellar weekends!

With warmth,

L ❀

L’s Kale and Chickpea Stewp

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Hi All! Well that was fun, wasn’t it? I seriously flexed my shoveling muscles yesterday and gave several clueless folks some lessons from L’s School of Snow Removal – Western New York style (I am the shovel master). I actually find shoveling kind of cathartic, and it makes you realize how small you are in the scheme of things (and shoveling for several hours replaced my intense boot camp workout yesterday). Anywho, all zen-ness aside, it was a fun snow day. Now, it’s back to the grind! I was one of six people (!!!) in spin class this morning (usually there’s a waiting list and passive aggressive territorial fights over bikes) and the rest of the gym was a ghost town at 5:30 am. Two feet of snow has never stopped me, and it’s not about to now! We had fun comparing shoveling stories and figuring out what weird parts of our bodies that are sore (for me, left tricep, obliques, and obvi the shoulders).

If you guys are freezing your rears off in the Northeast (it’s a balmy 12Β°F / -11Β°C here in Boston this morning), or if you’re just in need of something delicious, healthy and comforting, then you should def try this kale and chickpea stew-p (nope, that’s not a spelling error, but the term for a dish that straddles the line between being a stew or soup – see my Spanish-Style Lentils recipe for more info on this term). I went for a complete freestyle and threw this bad boy together a few nights ago, solely based on the contents of my fridge, and it turned out to be AMAZING. And, it’s vegan and gluten free to boot! Without further ado:

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All the ingredients you need for my Kale and Chickpea Stewp: spices, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, bell pepper, kale, sweet potato, onion, garlic, veggie broth, chickpeas. Oh, and that wine. Yeah, you’ll need a glass of that too while you’re cooking.

L’s Kale and Chickpea Stewp

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small yellow onions (or 1 large)
  • 2 heaping Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (plus a few shakes, if you like it hot like me!)
  • 1 6-oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 32-oz package of veggie broth
  • 1 bunch of kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 red or green bell pepper (I used several mini-peppers instead)
  • 1 28-oz can of diced tomato
  • 1 cup of dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and pre-simmered for 90 minutes* (or 1 – 2 15.5-oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed)

*I highly recommend you do this ahead of time, draining the chickpeas after simmering and storing them in a glass container overnight in the fridge like I did.

Directions:

Step One: Heat the oil in large saucepan. Saute the onion until softened, about 5 or so minutes.
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Don’t worry, I know that you guys have NO idea what diced onion looks like sauteing in a saucepan, so I will continue to provide shots of this in all my recipes. πŸ˜‰

Step Two: Add all of the spices, garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring for a minute.
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Coriander, Cumin, Oregano and Cayenne all ready to be added in (aka, basically the reason that the flavors of this stewp are elevated from basic to rad).

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You definitely don’t want to burn these spices, so if you’re not into stirring continuously for one minute, cut the time in half to 30 seconds. It’ll still be amazing.

Step Three: Add the broth and kale, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to wilt the kale.
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You definitely want to crank the heat up here to really wilt that kale (I’m also impatient as sin, so I stir constantly while the stewp is bubbling away to wilt the kale and I can move on to the next step).

Step Four: Add the sweet potato, chickpeas, tomatoes with their juice, and bell peppers, simmering the stewp with the lid ajar until the veggies are tender, about 25 minutes.
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Your kitchen should be smellin’ pretty bomb right about now.

Step Five: Adjust any seasonings as necessary (I personally did not add anything). Serve hot with a crusty bread and enjoy! πŸ˜€
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As you can see, I’m not a very successful kale de-stemmer. Whatevs. Here’s the stewp after simmering for about 25 minutes. SO GOOD!

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You’re going to want to dive right into this stewp after shoveling your car out for two hours.

This was awesome. It’s almost like a tomato soup with a spicy, earthy flavor kicked up a couple notches, and all your fave veggies and beans thrown in. It’s super thick and delicious. A bowl of this will warm you right to the bones. It’s perfect for the tundra conditions we are experiencing in Boston today.

Side note: I find it endlessly entertaining that there is a Boston PSA instructing folks to “Clean off Ya Cah!” I find this humorous because, in Western New York where I come from, this is not optional. What kind of d***head doesn’t clean the snow off their roof? Well, apparently enough people that it actually becomes serious issue and you WILL get ticketed if you are seen flying down Interstate 93 (or 95) with a Frozen-worthy trail of snow soaring behind your vehicle. So please folks, if you were just in the brutal snowstorm and Juno left you a little present on your vehicle: clean off ya cah. Charlie Baker and the rest of Massachusetts will thank you. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€ How did you guys fare with the snow?? Tell L all about it in the comments because you know I love that shiz. πŸ™‚

I hope you guys are safe, warm, and enjoying your day today. It’s hump day!! Woo wooo!!

With a little extra warmth today,

L ❀

GratiTuesday: Snow Day!

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Happy GratiTuesday, all! We are reporting live from Boston, where the snow is still coming down (on top of the 6 or so inches we already have – it’s hard to tell with the drifting). Today I’m grateful for every snowflake, and more specifically, having a snow day! It’s time to make hot chocolate, snow forts, sledding jumps and vegan baked goods. Wooohooo!!! After baking a batch of Vegan Pumpkin Power Muffins, drinking wine and watching chick flicks with my peeps last night, I wore my PJs inside out to bed just in case we didn’t get dumped on (obv it worked). πŸ˜‰ They are still predicting 18 – 26 inches total accumulation by Wednesday. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

 

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What are you guys grateful for this week?? Tell me all about it the comments! πŸ˜€

With (hot cocoa level) warmth,

L ❀

Vegan Paella

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L’s Vegan Paella

If you saw my wacky Instagram videos (you can find me @bubblesandbooyah, and if we’re not friends yet, we better be after you read this post), you would know that I made a bangin’ vegan paella Sunday night. It was AMAZING, as was the associated dance party. What is paella, you ask? Paella is a Spanish rice dish that originated in Valencia and is made with white rice and vegetables (like artichoke and peppers), and is seasoned with saffron, rosemary, paprika and lemon. Traditionally, it has local seafood and/or meat as well (obv as a veg, I don’t eat this, so in my version, I add more veggies, along with veggie sausage as the protein). These days, you can pretty much throw anything in there that goes well with rice (which basically excludes nothing). If you want to be legit as sh*t, you make it a huge, flat paella pan, and simmer the ingredients in broth over an open fire made out of orange and pine branches, and pine cones to season it. In my urban apartment, I don’t really have space for an open fire pit, so I just make it on the stove top. It’s DELICIOUS beyond words. I had the legit version when I went to Spain with my entire family (pre-veg, at age 11), and since then, every member of my family has been completely enamored with this dish. It is seriously unreal. I make my version with Arborio rice (which is Italian and sassy like me), which gives it a firm, creamy, and chewy texture (it’s also used to make risotto). My sister uses Bomba paella rice (aka the real deal) and that is even more amazing. It’s up to you. Whatever rice you choose (although it needs to be short or medium grain, because of its’ ability to absorb one and a half times as much water as regular rice without getting mushy) , there is no way around it: paella is nourishing, vibrant and straight-up killer. Serve with a Spanish Rioja and light salad and you have a super impressive, nutritious meal – so versatile that it’s perfect for date night OR a dinner party. Here’s what you do:

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Everything you need for Vegan Paella. Please note: Lightlife Sausages are NOT vegan, but they were my stand-ins until I could go to another grocery store and get the Tofurkey brand. Apparently the Boston area Vegans went to Stop N’Shop before I did and cleared out all the vegan sausages. πŸ˜‰ Check your labels if you are participating in Veganuary like me! πŸ™‚

Vegan Paella

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp Earth Balance
12 ounce packaged vegan sausage, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 16-oz can of marinated artichoke hearts, quartered
1 medium yellow squash, sliced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 cup matchstick carrots
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
6 to 8 saffron threads (or a pinch if you can spare it)
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 bay leaves
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
3 cups vegetable broth
1 small yellow onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemons for garnish

Directions:

Step One: Prep your veggies. To make life easier, I chop and prep all my veggies first. I put the artichokes, squash, carrots, asparagus, peas, tomatoes into a large bowl and set it aside. The onion and sausage I keep separate.
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I consolidate all vegetables to make my life just a tiny bit easier. Place them into a large bowl, and they will be ready to add to your saucepan with the browned veggie sausage.

Step Two: Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil and 2 Tbsp Earth Balance in large skillet, and saute the onion until translucent (about 8 minutes). Add the rice and spices and toast for 1 minute. After toasting, add 1 cup of broth to the pan, and turn the heat to medium low. Allow to simmer, stirring the rice and broth mixture constantly (this is important!), not allowing the rice to burn. After the rice has absorbed the broth, repeat this step, adding 1 cup of broth at a time until it is almost completely absorbed.
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Saute your onion in the vegan butter and olive oil. Mmmm, the smells!

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Rice and spices with broth added. Stirring continuously is important; it helps the rice to absorb the broth and doesn’t allow it to stick to the bottom of the pan.

Step Three: Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in large saucepan (Basically, I have to divide and conquer here because I only have one large skillet. Use what you have). Saute the garlic for a few minutes, and add the sliced sausage. Allow the sausage to brown. Add all of the remaining veggies plus the bay leaf to the saucepan and cover, cooking over medium heat and stirring every few minutes. Once the veggies are almost done, turn the heat off and remove from heat (if your rice happens to finish first, vice versa. Mine usually are done at about the same time).
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Veggie sausages and garlic browning away in the saucepan.

Step Four: Combine. Once the veggies are almost done, add them to the large skillet and stir to combine with the cooked rice. Allow any excess liquid to be absorbed, stirring occasionally over medium heat, uncovered. It’s okay if the rice on the bottom of the pan burns, that is the best part!
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The veggies (with the browned sausage) are just on the underside of being perfectly cooked before adding to the rice.

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Combine the rice and veggies and allow to cook over medium heat to absorb the last bit of liquid. Stirring a few times is good, but it’s okay to let the bottom bit of rice burn to the pan – it’s the best part!! πŸ˜€

Step Five: Season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve with squeeze of lemon and extra lemon wedges. Yum!!

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photo 5 (2)photo 3 (2)Perfection. The saffron gives this dish a gorgeous, golden hue, and the pimeton adds a smokiness that makes it acceptable to not cook this over an open fire (which to me, seems like a fire hazard). This has been one of my favorite dishes to prepare for years, and a great one I keep in my arsenal to impress a special someone, or a group of friends. Alternatively, if you have a pan big enough, it’s a one pot meal (just throw everything into your paella pan and stir occasionally). With a glass of red wine and a light, fresh salad on the side, you have the perfect, season-less, vibrant dish, one that is exotic and exciting, but nourishing enough to still be familiar and comforting. It really is the best of both worlds. I truly hope you guys enjoy this as much as I do – it’s a special one.

With love,

L xo

Snowy Weekend Recap

Happy Monday, all! Boston is in a panic today because of the looming blizzard (as a Western New Yorker myself, I just let all that crazy roll off my back). Yesterday I went to the grocery store after my long run and there were no parking spots, shopping carts, bananas OR tofu! Wtf. (My exact thought was “Ughhhhh…my legs are so sore. I do not want to deal with this.” But I sucked it up, and got all the things I needed for the week, and it was all relatively painless. Patience is a virtue). Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up the bus to Friday.

Friday night I had a luxuriously mellow evening. I also discovered Sons of Anarchy – um, hello Jax Teller. (If that reference is lost on you, I’m referring to the very attractive Charlie Hunnam who plays the tough and sensitive bad boy protagonist). Nothing that exciting happened. I was loving it.

Saturday.

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My Saturday morning breakfast: overnight museli with pomegranate, coconut and almond butter. Amaze balls.

Ah, Saturday. Usually Saturday sits in the place of glory as my favorite day of the week, but this one was not okay. My usual small group class had a make-up class on Saturday morning, before the back-to-back Spin/Body Pump craziness that is my usual Sweaturday jam. I put my cute gym outfit on, I ate my overnight oats I had prepped the night before, I even woke up extra early to brush the snow off the Marshmallow mobile.

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Saturday morning snow

As I was happily mid-brush (Wow! This snow is pretty!), I slipped on ice that was hidden under the few inches of freshly fallen snow. As I attempted to steady myself from falling on my ass, I stepped back on my right leg and somehow tweaked the spot on the back of my leg where your hamstring meets your glute. &%#@! I’m less than a month away from my half. I limped back upstairs to my apartment (with lots of cursing – don’t worry Mom I won’t share here), stuck a frozen bag of peas under my bum and starting sending out the S.O.S text messages to my trainer and gym buddies who were expecting me. I was so mad. At myself, for not being careful and paying attention to where I was stepping, and just rushing to get to class. I iced it for awhile and recovered my composure, and started to think this out. Stretching. Stretching would be good. I gave myself a little pep talk, “L. This is going to be okay. We’re going to stretch this out, and it’s going to feel better. The end.” I half dragged, half limped to a 90 minute hot Vinyasa class in the snow an hour or so after my internal pep talk.

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This is what you wear to Hot Yoga when you have to trudge through the snow. So many layers!

Buckets of sweat and lots of Ujjyai breaths later, I was already feeling better. After class, I approached the instructor and told him my predicament. “This hurts, right here,” I said, pointing to my right butt cheek. “Would you mind giving me a few poses to really stretch it? Impatient Annie over here slipped on some ice and pulled it funny this morning rushing to get to the gym.” He smiled and gave me an extra 15 minutes of stretching and showed me how to massage the muscle where it was feeling sore. I felt MUCH better. He also left me with this nugget of wisdom,Β “Maybe you should take a day off and rest. I think your body is talking to you. You need to listen.” Lesson learned: be patient, aware, and take rest when you need it. I’m not going to lie – this is a really difficult thing for me. Daily exercise, for me, is for mental clarity over all else (i.e. the physical benefits, like how you feel like a rockstar of life, and how smokin’ you look, etc). Running and exercising help me to clear my mind as I start my day, and my spirit feels like it sparkles a little brighter when I accomplish something physical in the morning right out of the gate. It is difficult for me to listen to my sore muscles and take a day off. Then, something like this happens and I am forced to take a day off.

So, I channeled my inner crunchy self, and listened to my body. First thought, “I need bread. Warm, fresh bread.” I bought a loaf of bread from my favorite bakery and ate the whole damn thing (…Over the course of the day, so don’t get your judge-y pants all in a twist – and it was a small bΓ’tard, not a whole round loaf. That makes it okay, right?). Second thought, “I need chocolate. Super dark, 85% cacao, melt in your mouth, vegan chocolate.” So I ate dark chocolate. And rested. All day. I did not attempt a short run, I did not collect $200, I did not pass “Go”.Β  I did not even go for a walk. I kept that leg elevated all day and sent positive, healing vibes straight to my right butt cheek. And you know what? I felt better.

Sunday Runday – aka the time I *almost* pooped my pants running 12 miles.

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In my pre-run bliss of not knowing lay ahead of me.

If I said I was too embarrassed to write this, I would be lying. After I walked in the door from my run and this situation was over (and no Lulu running pants were harmed), the first thing I did was call my best friend, and then my sister, and told them this story, as I laughed so hard, tears were streaming down my face. Here’s a little back story. When B and I were training for our sprint triathlon, we read somewhere on a “Tips” list that you should run with a plastic bag with an extra set of clothes in case you had an accident. An accident?! Like when could you not control that?! We found this hilarious and played out what to do with the plastic bag of clothes during your race. Do you carry it in your hand? Do you put it in a backpack? Anyway, that’s when I first heard of that (also it was the first thing B brought up when I told her my story, when she stopped laughing so hard she could speak again), I did not believe it could happen. The instance of long distance runners (how do I put this delicately?) not making it to the port-a-potty in time was confirmed when a friend told me she made her girlfriend a sign for her first marathon (as a joke!) that read, “E, DON’T POOP YOUR PANTS” which is hilarious, and I started to realize, an actual thing (Oh, and FYI: E didn’t poop her pants during the marathon). I never had any experience with this until my 12 miler yesterday. I’ll spare you the details and just say, at Mile 8, things were not cool. Lucky for me, I was running through a town center where there was cafe that I sprinted straight into, and straight into the restroom, to the bewilderment of the Sunday brunch crowd.

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Sunday was the perfect winter run day! The sun was shining and the trails were mine! Except…you know.

I did not think I was going to make it the remaining 4 miles home, but I did it! To add insult to injury, other bad things happened to compound my digestive issues: my phone started dying (which I then put on airplane mode to conserve battery for the tunes), I mistakenly paused my run at mile 6.25 on the Nike+ app trying to change the song so it stopped recording my pace, and at mile 10 I stopped caring where I was running and my feet were SOAKED from the slush. But I freakin’ did it. I made it. And even though I’m omitting the more colorful details of this story, I know you all are a bunch of imaginative folks that can fill in the gaps. Think: lots of swearing. Anyway – now you know, bad things can happen to anyone (even/especially to the people that make light of these situations which, had there not be a restroom where it was, may have ended up differently). But you just have to laugh at it, because life is too damn short to be embarrassed. Plus, that shiz is funny.

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I made it! And no Lulu running pants were harmed.

So…what did YOU guys do this weekend?? Tell me your life story in the comments.

Happy Monday all! Stay safe in the snow today, if you’re getting hit with that Nor’easter! I hope you guys have a great day and don’t poop your pants. πŸ˜› πŸ˜‰

With warmth,

L ❀

Work it OUT Wednesday

Woo woo! It’s HUMP DAY! We made it halfway. πŸ˜€ This morning I had my weekly Gym Buddy Workout with R and S. As per usual, it was wicked hard and spectacular all in one. Last week while I was wooping it up in Florida, I missed my small group circuit class, where we were doing pull-ups (I was legit bummed, because I really want to be able to do just ONE). Because R can successfully do 0.45 pull-ups and I can do 0.12 pull-ups, we added it to our laser-focused short list of areas of improvement (it will now sit alongside tall box jumps and super heavy sled pushes). If you remember, at the beginning of January, I encouraged everyone one to pick just one thing to focus on improving (whatever that may be for you – if you need a refresher, check out that post here). Well, after chipping away at it once a week, I believe I made a teeeeny tiny bit of improvement on my box jumps. Thanks S for capturing this special moment before 6 am:

photo 2I can now focus on the next stack!! Woooohoooo! And don’t worry, I will keep you all posted of my progress. Because even an inch of improvement can make you feel like a complete BOSS and add a little swagger into your day (especially when you can look at something and say “Hey! I did that all on my own!”).

R is a rockstar, so she put together our awesome WOD this morning, focusing on exercises that will help us achieve our specific goals. I can take zero credit for this, because I just participated. But R obv has the right idea: if you’re trying to focus on improving just one thing, do a little research and see what can help you to achieve your goal. Help yourself out! It makes complete sense, but I didn’t really think about it until this morning. Thus, our first round of exercises focused on helping us to accomplish high box jumps, the second will help us get better at doing pull-ups and the third was a great core workout (because you can never go wrong).

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Body By RS Workout of the Day

Warm up: Jog for 5 minutes

Repeat each round three times for (1) One minute; (2) 45 seconds; (3) 30 seconds, with a quick cardio segment in between.

Round One: To Improve Box Jump Height

  • Step-ups (on a tall box)
  • TRX jump squats (or frog jumps)
  • Hamstring curls using yoga ball

In-between each round cardio: (1) Sprints; (2) 3 sets of Stairs; (3) Sprints

Round Two: To Build Pull-Up Muscles

  • Bar hangs
  • TRX bicep curls (or bicep curls with 12 lbs dumbbell)
  • TRX high row

In between each round cardio: (1) Sprints; (2) Alphabet Plank*; (3) Sit-ups for 1 minute

Round Three: Core Blaster

  • V-Ups
  • Plank
  • Russian Twists with 12 lbs dumbbell

We skipped cardio in between each round for this last set because we weren’t feeling it (/we were dying). πŸ˜‰

Cool Down: Walk until your heart rate slows. Stretch and drink water!! πŸ˜€

So just to clarify: you do each round three times. The first time, you do each of the activities in the round for one minute, then you do your cardio, then you repeat the activities in the round for 45 seconds, then cardio, then 30 seconds for each, etc. Once you’re done with Round One, move on to Round Two! πŸ™‚

*Alphabet Planks: Plank with your forearms parallel to one another on a yoga ball, then write each letter of the alphabet using your arms to move the ball. It sounds easy but it is SO hard (and pretty fun too)!

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Here we are Alphabet Planking away. πŸ˜€

We had a fab time as usual. Working out with friends is great – you can encourage each other, give each other high-fives when you’ve aced your box jump, and laugh with you when you let go of the bar during the third round of your bar hang and proclaim “I’m dying a death right now!” And at the end of the workout, be completely red-faced and sweaty with, and cheers your accomplishment with fist bumps all around (additionally, you can text them to commiserate when you can’t walk up three flights of stairs at work because your legs are so done-zo). I hope you guys get out there today and kick some serious ASS. I hope that R’s workout has given you some inspiration to work towards your one goal – I know that getting my butt kicked by just hanging from the bar has stiffened my resolve to do that ONE SINGLE DAMN pull up. I will do it. Even if my hands get all blistered and callused from all my attempts (that’s what manicures are for, right?).

Happy Hump Day All! Hope you’re having a great day today. Kick some butt, eh?
With warmth,
L ❀

Farro with Tempeh, Leeks and Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

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Farro with Tempeh, Leeks and Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

This weekend I made a balls-to-the-wall amazing and hearty winter dish full of texture and flavor. When it’s cold outside, I definitely go for hearty and filling – there is only so much soup a girl can handle. When you’re in the mood for something healthy, hearty and full of “chew,” think farro. A lot of people have asked me, what the h-ll is farro? Farro is an ancient grain from the Mediterranean that is a distant relative to wheat, and is similar in taste to barley. In ancient Rome, it was used to feed the Roman legions and even used for currency (if that were still true, I’d be able to afford a lot more Lululemon). It’s still in the limelight as an Old World classic in Italy, where it is featured in tons of traditional dishes. Farro is the all-star here, lending a nutty, chewiness to the dish. And of course it’s good for you: it’s full of protein, fiber, vitamin B and E, and magnesium. Bonus! Here I’ve added roasted tempeh for an extra protein boost, along with savory leeks and roasted brussels to balance the sweetness of the balsamic. It results in a balanced, hearty and flavorful meal that is perfect for cooler temps. So lace up your gladiator sandals and let’s get cookin’.

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Ingredients for the Balsamic Roasted Tempeh: Tempeh, fresh ginger, tamari, sesame oil (or olive oil – I just had sesame on hand so I used it), balsamic vinegar and chopped garlic.

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The remaining ingredients: brussels, balsamic, leeks, rosemary, veggie broth, farro, olive oil and dijon mustard.

Farro with Tempeh, Leeks and Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz package of brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 1 8-oz package of tempeh, diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons of tamari
  • 1 1/4 cups dried farro
  • 2 1/2 cups veggie broth
  • 2 medium leeks, dark green part removed, quartered and sliced thinly crosswise
  • 2 pinches dried rosemary (or fresh rosemary, chopped)
  • 3 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • fresh ginger and/or minced garlic for tempeh (if desired – I had some so I used it)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Step One: Prep the Tempeh. Dice your tempeh into bite-sized pieces. Mix together 1 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbsp tamari in a small bowl (I’m aware this marinade sounds like a questionable combo, but trust me on this one – the finished product tastes AWESOME). Place your diced tempeh into a shallow dish or Ziploc baggie and toss with the marinade. Allow to marinade for at least one hour (more is better; overnight is ideal).
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Dice the tempeh into bite-sized pieces before marinating.

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I threw my diced tempeh right into a plastic baggie for marinating in the fridge; I mixed all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl before pouring over the tempeh. I added grated ginger and minced garlic because I had them on hand; the marinade will be equally awesome if you don’t include these.

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Toss the tempeh in the marinade and place in the fridge for several hours (or overnight; or if you’re short on time, at least one hour). Make sure all the tempeh has been completely coated in the marinade.

Step Two: Preheat the oven to 375Β°F. Prep your veggies. Toss the Brussels with 1 Tbsp each of olive oil and balsamic, and add sea salt and pepper to taste.
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I quartered the brussels and placed them right into a medium-sized bowl to toss with olive oil and balsamic.

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Throw the balsamic and olive oil right in there and stir to coat evenly.

Step Three: Transfer your brussels and tempeh to foil-lined (or parchment-lined, because I totally ran out of tin foil!) baking sheets and place into the oven for about 25-30 minutes. Roast until they are slightly browned. You can toss half-way through if you want, but it’s not a deal breaker.
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Brussels ready to go into the oven.

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Marinated tempeh ready to go into the oven.

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Brussels after roasting. Mmmm, mmmm!

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Tempeh after roasting. Try to not eat all of them off the baking tray before you can incorporate the tempeh into the dish. πŸ™‚

Step Four: Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon of olive oil in medium to large saucepan. Saute your leeks for 8 minutes, or until translucent.
photo 3 (2)Step Five: Add the farro and toast for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
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Don’t let that uncooked farro burn while toasting, or it will taste MESSED up.

Step Six: Add the veggie broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the farro/leek mixture to a simmer, and then mostly cover, leaving the lid slightly askew. Allow the farro to simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 25 – 30 minutes.
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While that guy is bubbling away, feel free to catch up on your Netflix, hug someone you love, or have an impromptu dance party in your kitchen.

Step Seven: Meanwhile, whip up a lil’ vinaigrette to pump up your farro. Combine the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, 1 – 2 tablespoons of balsamic, 2 pinches of rosemary (about 1 tsp), 1 squirt of dijon (about 3 tsp) and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until well mixed.
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Vinaigrette before whisking, just in case you want to know how big my pinches are πŸ™‚

Step Eight: Once the farro is done cooking, add the brussel sprouts and vinaigrette. Stir well to combine, season with salt and pepper, if desired. (Side note: I kept the tempeh separate because I was afraid the leftover tempeh would get a weird texture if incorporated). Add extra balsamic, if desired (um, I did. I dumped a whole bunch on my farro because I loooooooove balsamic). I threw a few hazelnuts on top just cuzΒ  was feelin’ it. πŸ˜€ Enjoy!!
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Dress the cooked farro with vinaigrette and stir well to combine.

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Voila! Finished farro. YUM!

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Farro topped with roasted tempeh. YUM SAUCE.

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Feel free to eat your dinner with Aiden Mathis, like I did (Is it me or is Aiden giving my farro the sexy side-eye? I wish there was a WordPress emoji for that!)

Um, this was amazing. The farro was filling and hearty, and the brussels and tempeh add even more texture to the already fantastic farro. Usually these quick vegan grain dishes are sometimes devoid of all “chew” factor, but this dish has both flavor and texture in bounds. It’s a great way to celebrate Veganuary, and would even fill up the most carnivorous meat-eaters. It’s also a great dish to eat while binge-watching Revenge. (Side note: What is going to happen next?! I just finished season three and my mind was blow. Emily Thorn, you sassy minx! πŸ™‚ ) I hope you guys enjoy this dish as much as I did! It’s a stellar warm, comforting and healthy dish to add to your winter repertoire. YUM. Can’t wait to hear what you guys think!

I hope that you all are having a great Tuesday – stay tuned for my #GratiTuesday post πŸ™‚

With warmth,

L ❀

PS: You know it’s a good one when you get excited to eat the leftovers before 10 am. πŸ˜‰