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Laura Kay’s October Workouts: Barry’s, SoulCycle, F45

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F45 Gym
A glimpse of the F45 gym

The first quarter of business school has been a whirlwind.  But, in theSTRETCHEDlife fashion, I have still managed to squeeze in some great workouts.  I arranged my class schedule such that I do not have any classes that start before 10:30am.  This allows me to get a workout in in the morning, even if I stayed up late the night before studying, socializing with my new b-school friends, or networking with one of the many firms recruiting on campus.

I’ve been having fun taking advantage of new student discounts and trying out the studios in my new city.  Here are a few of the highlights.

Barry’s Bootcamp

Chickpeainthecity at Barry's
@chickpeainthecity at Barry’s (because apparently I didn’t manage to take any photos myself)

Kellogg’s Run-Bike-Swim club secured an insane promotion to this infamous fitness studio.  I had seen Barry’s all over my Instagram feed, but there wasn’t one around when I was living in Atlanta.  (Of course they literally opened one the second I left).  Thus, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to go to 2 Barry’s classes every week during the month of October for only $30.

Barry’s is a little bit of a drive (or train ride) away from Evanston, but the workout is worth it, and commuting there with fellow fitness-lovers was a great way to make new friends.  For those of you haven’t tried Barry’s, it is similar to Orange Theory (or BLAST for my Atlanta readers).  It just has a different vibe – think dark retro box gym with pumping music.

SoulCycle

Cat and Laura at SoulCycle
After my first SoulCycle class with my friend Cat!

This is another infamous studio that somehow has not yet made its way to Atlanta.  I always just assumed SoulCycle was similar to Flywheel and other cycling studios that I’d tried.  I was so wrong.  If Flywheel is a ballet class, SoulCycle is a hip hop class.  SoulCycle is all about feeling the beat and there is always new choreography that incorporates your whole body.  There are no numbers or scoreboards like there are in Flywheel and many other studios.

I am still trying to decide which style I like best.  I definitely see pros and cons to each.  Some people need the numbers to know if they are pushing at the right level, while others like to feel it out themselves.  Either way, I’ll definitely be hitting up SoulCycle more in November as the aforementioned Run-Bike-Swim club has secured yet another amazing promotion.

SoulCycle class with my sectionmates

F45

Kellogg ladies pushing it to he max by doing wall squats after our complimentary class

So this is one studio I hadn’t heard of before, but it’s such a perfect fit for me that I have actually paid for a monthly membership (*gasp*).  F45 Training was started in Australia and offers 27 different 45-minute high-intensity, circuit training workout classes.  Every day there is a different circuit laid out and two instructors, supported by screens with timers and demos of each exercise, guide you through the workout.

I love that, if I wanted to, I could go to only F45 and cover nearly all my workout goals – cardio, strength, endurance, agility.  It also helps that it’s literally across the street from my apartment so I can roll out of bed at 5:45, throw on some shorts and have a complete workout done by 6:45am : )

F45 Gym
A glimpse of the F45 gym

Running for Beginners

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Meg and Friend 1

Note from Laura Kay: This is a guest post from Meg Session, one of my favorite friends and creator of Session Spiels.  All her content is amazing, but I found this piece especially relevant to theSTRETCHEDlife and I had to share it with you all!  The original post from September 10, 2017 can be found here.  If you like what you see (how could you not), I encourage you to follow her blog.

If you are interested in being a guest contributor, please contact me.  I love to switch it up!

Back in January, I decided I wanted to run a 5K every month of the year after completing (not necessarily running) two the September and November prior (2016).  And my main goal over time was just to run an entire one.  I figured if I ran 12 in a year it would be bound to eventually happen.

Well, I ran the entire one in January and just decided the goal had been met so I was done (I am so determined and great at follow through).  Anyways, a couple months later I ended up hiring my trainer, Kevin, and have been working out extremely consistently since March.  And when my friend, Liz, offered to run a 5K with me in November—and then talked me into doing a 10K instead, we decided we should do a 5K midway through our training.

The training program we’ve been using is just a basic 10K running app we downloaded and we have been pretty consistent.  And in turn, I managed to shave off 4 minutes of my January time!  This isn’t saying too much because in January I could have walked faster than I ran, but still!  Logistics aren’t important here!

Meg and Friend 2

I feel like a total rockstar today and I am so ready to take on the 10K in November.  Even though my feet are sore and I could sleep for a week and a half.

Since I was never a runner and still wouldn’t necessary refer to myself as one, I think I am qualified to share some tips.  So here is what works for me.

Advil.  The only reason I think I can make it through my longer runs are because I pop two advil 30 minutes before I start.  This is probably unhealthy or something, but I do it anyways.  It might not actually help at all.  If that’s the case, do it for the placebo effect because it definitely is working for me.

Read Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley.  This book transformed my entire mentality about running.  It turns out when you see people running down the street (by choice) they aren’t necessarily pain free and straight up loving life like I thought you were always supposed to feel!  It will always be hard (ish).  I will always be tired!  But, it’s mental!  And realizing that totally transformed things for me.  And it was nice to read a book about a girl who also wasn’t a runner at all.  And, like, actually not a runner.  Not someone who says they aren’t a runner, but then can run 6 miles if they have to.

Blast that Rocky theme song like a champ!  Or maybe play it on repeat the whole freaking time!  I did that in January.  Today I just played Pandora, but when I got to the last stretch, I pulled my head phones out and blasted Eye of the Tiger followed by the Rocky theme song so literally everyone around me could hear it.  Like, unplugged my headphones, and half ran/danced to the end.  Now, people around us totally sped up.  It just could have been because we either motivated them…or annoyed them.

Last, but not least, get yourself an awesome support system like Ryan!  When I am done with my 5Ks he acts as if I ran a freaking marathon and it makes me so happy.  He is my biggest cheerleader (read this post from January to see what I mean).  I love that man to death if you couldn’t tell already!

Okay, I am going to go enjoy my freshly made bed and snuggle with my pup!  Happy Sunday, friends!  And, as always, thank you for reading!

Getting Back on Track

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Track

This is officially the longest I have gone without posting (over a month *gasp*!).  Many of you have even asked if I am going to continue blogging while in school.  The answer is YES, absolutely yes!  And I am sorry to have left you hanging for so long!

theSTRETCHEDlife is all about balance.  Previously, I was balancing long work hours (many of which were on the road) as a consultant with maintaining friendships, family, and my health.  My friends often asked how I did it and I loved sharing tips and tricks so I decided to start theSTRTECHEDlife.

Laura Kay at Kellogg
Laura Kay in her brand new business school

Now, I am entering a new chapter of my life and facing a new balancing act challenge.  As an MBA candidate, I have slightly more freedom to make my own schedule, but managing priorities gets real.  Do I want to sign up for eight clubs that sound interesting to me or become an effective leader in one of them?  Do I want to go out with friends Tuesday night or be able to make my Wed 8am spin class?  Do I go to the company networking night at the wings place or do I want to come home and eat the healthy dinner I meal prepped with my SO?

The list goes on and on.  For the first month at school, (which included a party trip to Croatia with new peers, a week-long orientation, and completing two courses over a two-week pre-term) I have just dived in trying to get to know the people and culture as well as possible.  This resulted in consuming more pizza and beer than I had in the entire year-to-date, but making connections early on was important to me and my MBA experience.

The Fall quarter officially started yesterday so I am starting to have a little more control over my schedule.  But from what I’ve seen so far there will always be more activities available to me than I can imagine and the FOMO is real.  With the first week of classes upon me, it is time to refocus on my goals and think of creative ways to fit in everything I want to while also keeping a healthy mind and body.  Maybe that means just meeting friends for one drink (or a soda water!) on Tuesday night so I can make my Wed 8am spin class.  Maybe that means having a healthy snack before the company networking event and then having a healthy dinner later at night.

I look forward to sharing new stories and advice with you as a result of my new experience and encourage you to continue to share yours with me and theSTRETCHEDlife community!

Mango Salsa that’s Worth Trying

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Mango Salsa Close Up

So, I have a confession.  I don’t love mango salsa.  I’ve always liked the idea of it.  I love mangoes… I love salsa… why shouldn’t I love mango salsa?  Turns out I do, but only sans many of your typical salsa ingredients.

Store bought mango salsa often just tastes like regular salsa with mangoes added in.  I basically just feel like sugar has been added to my salsa.  That, combined with the fact that my SO doesn’t like mango salsa in the least (or at least so he thought), has kept me away from it for a while now.

Skinnytaste-slow-cooker-jerk-pork-with-mango-salsaBut then, I found a mango salsa recipe that I can’t get enough of!  I knew I wanted to do a slow cooker dish the other week and the SO was craving some pork so I pursued the blogs for a good, healthy pork slow cooker dish.  I landed on Skinnytaste’s Slow Cooker Jerk Pork with Caribbean Salsa.  The recipe didn’t have too many steps and looked fairly healthy for a pork dish.  That, plus the fact that Gina (Skinnytaste author) said her husband loved it, made it a no brainer.  I didn’t even really think about the fact that the Caribbean Salsa meant mango salsa until later.  But the fact that it was just mangoes and no tomatoes was a good sign because my SO actually does love mangoes – just not mango salsa!

The pork had to cook for 9 hours so I put it in Monday night and prepped the mango salsa Tuesday morning.  I then put everything aside in the fridge until it was time for Tuesday’s dinner.  Or at least that’s what I thought.

Mango Salsa on Tilapia TacosShortly after prepping the salsa, it was time for lunch.  I had some leftover tilapia from the night before I needed to use up but wasn’t sure how.  The taste of the mango salsa came flooding back into my mouth (obviously I had a few bites while prepping it!).  The mango salsa would be the perfect fit for my tilapia.   And it was Taco Tuesday so I had to run to the store and buy some corn tortillas to wrap it all together.  Best lunch of the week by far.

Not only did Skinnytaste’s Caribbean Salsa pair well with the pork like planned, it became a lovely addition to my meals throughout the week.  The mango, the avocado, the lime juice… the flavors were mouthwatering and I was pretty disappointed when I ran out.  But the SO also loved it so I’ll definitely be making it again, whether it’s with the jerk chicken or something else entirely!

Mango Salsa Tossed in Bowl

Caribbean Salsa Recipe

(from Skinnytaste.com)

Ingredients:

  • Mango Salsa Ingredients1 Haas avocado, diced*
  • 2 large ripe mangoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped*
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  • Combine all the ingredients in a bowl
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper
  • Refrigerate salsa until ready to serve

Mango Salsa Ingredients Before Combined

*The key to making this salsa so delicious is making sure you have ripe avocado and mango.  If they aren’t ripe yet, it’s worth waiting!  To speed up the ripening process, store the fruits in a brown paper bag in your kitchen.

Arbonne Party Treats

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Arbonne Party Treats

Last week, I co-hosted an Arbonne Facial Party with some friends from work.  I needed some treats for the party and thought this was the perfect time to try out protein balls for the first time.  After all, I keep drooling over them on Instagram.  Plus it would give me an opportunity to share Arbonne’s protein powder with the girls!

I had some carob chips in the pantry and found a protein ball recipe that would use them up.  The recipe was so simple that I honestly wasn’t going to post about it.  But then Laura B., my co-host (and name twin), showed up with another delicious treat filled with Arbonne protein.  And now I can’t stop munching on my Carob Chip Protein Balls or Laura B.’s Vegan Almond Joy Protein Bars and I have to share these two recipes with you!

 

Carob Chip Protein Balls

The Carob Chip Protein Ball recipe came from POPSUGAR.  As you’ll see, it is super simple.  All you have to do is mix together almond butter, oats, protein powder, egg white, stevia, and carob chips.  You then roll the mixture into little balls and pop it into the oven for six to eight minutes.Carob Chip Protein Balls

The recipe on POPSUGAR only makes six balls.  Trust me when I tell you you’ll want more.  Just go ahead and double the recipe.

For the protein powder, I used the Arbonne’s vegan, plant-based vanilla protein (which I am obsessed with).  But any protein powder will do.  I am even considering trying this recipe with my chocolate protein powder!

To make this a completely vegan treat, you could substitute the egg white with a vegan substitute such as aquafaba.

 

Vegan Almond Joy Protein Bars

This is the second time I’ve had Laura’s almond joy bars.  The first time was at an Arbonne Wellness Open House, an event that focuses more on Arbonne’s nutrition products than skincare lines.  I remember the bars being incredible, and when I tried them again last week I had to ask for the recipe.Vegan Almond Joy Protein Bars

Laura B. found her recipe on The Healthy Maven.  While I haven’t yet made it myself, it also looks fairly simple.  I especially love that there’s no baking involved – making it the perfect treat for the summertime!

Like the protein balls, the almond joy bars do not contain any refined sugar so they are much lower on the Glycemic Index.

Plus, they have protein to keep you full and help repair your muscles!  Laura also used Arbonne’s vanilla protein, but any protein powder will do.  The Healthy Maven recommends Epicure’s Sweet Coconut protein, which I imagine would give it an even stronger coconut taste.  You could definitely still taste the coconut in Laura B.’s recipe though, so don’t fret if you don’t have coconut-flavor!

 

More Healthy Party Snacks

I put out a few other snacks alongside the protein treats to complete the spread for the Facial Party:

  • Baby carrots and hummus
  • Light White Cheddar Popcorn
  • Alyssa’s Healthy Vegan Bites (I recently found these at Publix and everyone I’ve shared them with is always blown away by the fact there are only 45 calories per cookie!)
  • Brownie Bites… because 80/20 rule : )

Arbonne Party Treats

These healthy-ish snacks only took a few minutes to pull together and could easily be used at any small gathering of friends.

Share your favorite healthy party snacks in the comments and let me know if you try either of the protein treat recipes.  I’d love to hear about the different variations you come up with!

 

**Laura Kay is an Arbonne Independent Consultant. If you are interested in learning more about Arbonne’s safe, pure, and beneficial products please contact her directly via email: laurakay@thestretchedlife.com.

Wanderlust Festival: Laura Kay’s Key Takeaways

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Wanderlust wristbands

When I started thinking about writing about Wanderlust Festival it was somewhat overwhelming.  At Wanderlust Festival Stratton, I went to over ten classes in two days and I took copious notes on many of them.  The classes ranged from running a 5k with the first female American to run 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days to Dharma Yoga with legendary yogi Sri Dharma Mittra to cooking classes on how to use fiber for detox.  And that’s not to mention the many informal, mind-opening, interactions in between with musicians, wellness vendors, and fellow Wanderlusters.

Wanderlust - The Greatest Place sign
Wanderlust really is one of the greatest places ever

I mentioned to Alexis, the friend I went to Wanderlust Festival with, that I didn’t know how I would remember all the amazing insights from the weekend.  She then reminded me of what Seane Corn told us during “The Yoga of Awakening.”  The inspirational and internationally celebrated yoga teacher told us during our practice to not worry about remembering every single piece of advice we receive during the weekend.  Instead she encouraged us to keep ourselves open, take it all in, and see what stays with us a few days later.

So, lucky for you, I won’t be writing a ten-page blog post on every detail of my amazing weekend at Wanderlust Festival.  Instead I’d like to share with you some of the thoughts that have resonated with me one week after Wanderlust Festival.  I can’t explain why these are the insights, ideas, and advice that have stuck with me, but here they are!

 

Laura Kay’s Wanderlust Festival Takeaways

Community is king.  My Wanderlust Festival started with an early morning run alongside Becca Pizzi, the first female American to complete the World Marathon Challenge.  There were just a handful of us so we really got to know Becca and learn about her incredible experiences.  (And don’t

Ultima Samples
Ultima electrolyte samples from Becca

worry, she slowed down the pace for us!)  After hearing Becca’s story about running 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days I couldn’t help but think that running must have been the easy part.  The logistics of making sure she arrived in each continent before the start of each race (no, she did not have a private charter plane), finding a place to shower after each race, and securing armed guards to run alongside her in unstable countries were overwhelming.  Luckily, it sounds like Becca had a fantastic team supporting her along the way and different family members met her in each country.  Becca’s community in Boston even stepped up to take care of her daughter whom she had to leave at home for ten days, the longest they had ever been apart.

 

Stop waiting on someone else to and give yourself a massage.  At the end of the first day, Alexis and I went to “Rolling in the Deep (Fascia): Full Body Surrender Self Bodywork.”  The class included live music by Ida Jo, instruction by David Vendetti, and self-body work tools.  The self-body work tools included magical balls and rollers that provided relief to my muscles from head to toe.  Imagine foam rolling, but more intense.  While I was definitely in a little pain after the class, my whole body felt lengthened and the idea of doing this every night was quite appealing.  And as David (one of the funniest yoga instructors I’ve ever had) said, “You’re not going to find someone that loves you enough to give you a massage every day, so go buy yourself some self-massage tools.”

Class in the Shala
Class in The Shala

Stretch every day.  This is so simple, and something I should already know given my obsession with stretching is one of the reasons I named my blog what I did.  And I do already recognize the importance of stretching, but Wanderlust Festival was a timely reinforcement of just that.  I had not been stretching as deeply the past few months and only had gone to a handful of yoga classes this year  After just two days and six yoga classes, I came home feeling rejuvenated.  My body was of course a little sore, but it was the kind of sore that felt good.  Not to mention I was much more flexible!

Don’t mix fruit with starch.  While showing us how to make Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding, Christa Orrechio shared a number of insights on how certain foods can affect your body.  She spoke about getting enough fiber, the right mix of omegas, etc., but the most surprising thing she shared was that you should never mix fruit with starch.  Did you immediately think of your banana on your peanut butter toast or the blueberries in your oatmeal?  I sure did!  Apparently when you mix starch with fruit the starch cuts off the fruit from digesting and the fruit begins to ferment.  This causes most people to think they have gas or IBS, but, in reality, they just need to keep starches and fruits 30 to 60 minutes apart (30 minutes if the fruit is first, 60 minutes if the starch is first).  Who knew!

Nicole Centeno Cooking Class
Nicole Ceneno leading “The Slow Down Meal”

Mindful eating can be a meditation.  Nicole Centeno really spoke to me.  It was pretty obvious why once she gave a little background on herself – a type-A, career focused woman that struggled with eating during college and then discovered mindfulness.  When she started feeling anxious again later in life she tried to go back to the traditional meditation she had learned as a coping mechanism in college, but this time it did not work for her.  Instead, she found meditation in cooking and eating.  I could already totally relate.  Today Nicole makes a conscious effort to eat one meal a day by herself in complete silence.  This reminded me of how much I love waking up before everyone else and having my breakfast in silence.  But Nicole takes it a step further – she turns her phone to airplane mode and puts in headphones.  The idea of trying to fit this into my life is a little daunting but I can totally see the benefits of it and would love to at least try doing it a few times week.  Not only would it allow me to meditate, but it would also allow me to really focus on my meal and how it makes me feel.

Yoga can still be tough without chaturangas.  On Saturday afternoon we went to a class called “Look, Ma—No  Hands” with Sara Clark.  Sara knew we’d be doing a lot of chaturangas and down dogs throughout the weekend so she designed an entire practice without any of those.  I suspected the class would be a little easier, a bit of a break, but Sara still found a way to lead us through a challenging Vinyasa flow.  I still got sweaty and it ended up being one of my favorite practices of the weekend! Note: there were so many amazing practices throughout the weekend that focused on different aspects of yoga – I’ll likely need a separate post to share the highlights of each of them!

Believe in your Gut sign at Wanderlust Stratton
Believe in your Gut sign at Wanderlust Stratton

Believe in your gut.  “Believe in your Gut” was the tagline on the chalkboard outside the “Find Your Food Fork” (or food demo) tent that was constantly serving up Tropicana’s new probiotic drink.  This theme was carried throughout many of the cooking demos and Speakeasy talks throughout the weekend.  The theme even carried into one of my yoga classes.  While we moved through one of the more intense Vinyasas I’d ever experienced, Lauren Imparato shared her story around how she learned to trust her gut after the book publisher she was feeling uneasy about ended up screwing her over.  It was ironic that this was the theme for Wanderlust Festival because it has also been a theme of my year.  2017 has been all about following my gut instinct – from starting this blog to choosing to leave my job and pursue my MBA in a new city.  This year I have also been more in-tune with what I am putting in my body and how it makes me feel (see my posts on giving up sugar for Lent and taking a break from caffeine).  Without going into too much detail, I’ve found that the better the food I put in my mouth moves through my body, the better I feel overall.

Okay, so this still ended up being a pretty long post, but I hope you learned something from it as well!  And final disclaimer – I can’t promise that I’m not also going to write separate posts about individual speakers and classes that moved me : )

Love for Leftovers

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Chicken Pesto Wrap and Beet Salad

I’ve recently come across a few people who don’t like leftovers.  I absolutely cannot understand it.  I practically survive on leftovers.  Not only do they save time and money, some leftovers taste better than they did the day before!

Crock-Pot Leftovers

Thai Peanut Chicken and Greens Bowl
Thai Peanut Chicken and Greens Bowl

Crock-Pot recipes are pretty much designed for leftovers.  You can make a huge pot on Sunday and have it all week.

Simple dishes like pulled chicken can be used in a variety of ways – on tortillas, on salads, on buns.  Even unique dishes, such as this Thai Peanut Chicken can be surprisingly versatile.  I ended up having it with noodles, on brown rice, in a taco, and on nachos!

And then there are Crock-Pot dishes such as chili and soups that straight up taste better a day or two later.  As the dish sits, the ingredients combine and create so much flavor.

If you can’t finish your Crock-Pot dish within a few days, you can even save the leftovers in the freezer for later!

Restaurant Leftovers

If you’ve ever tried dieting, I’m sure you’ve heard the trick about boxing half your meal before you start eating.  I don’t usually go as far as asking for the box up front, but I rarely end up eating my whole meal at restaurants.  I’m a small girl and the portions are just so big these days!  If you have a little self-control, the oversized portions can be a blessing though.  You can basically get two meals for the price of one!

Cheeky's Chicken Fajitas
Cheeky’s Chicken Fajitas

You don’t have to save exactly half of everything either.  Oftentimes, I’ll enjoy all the fresh vegetables in a dish while I’m at the restaurant and save half the protein for later.  I can then add the protein to some mixed greens and my salad is ready to go for lunch the next day.

While I love leftovers regardless, it is always nice to add

something fresh to them.  Mixing leftovers with greens into a salad is easy, but it’s not the only option.  The other day I had leftover fajitas from Cheeky’s and I added some fresh avocado to them when I got home.

Homemade Leftovers

Leftovers don’t have to come from a Crock-Pot or a restaurant.  Most nights, I’ll make four servings for dinner.  This gives my hungry SO an extra portion that night and me an extra portion for lunch the next day.

Kale and Shrimp Salad
Kale and Shrimp Salad

One of my recent favorite leftover salads was one I made on a day that I was trying to clean out my fridge before going out of town for a week.   I had made Skinnytaste’s Sheet Pan Shrimp with Broccolini and Tomatoes a few nights before and didn’t want to let that shrimp go to waste. I chopped up the shrimp and broccolini, placed it on top of my remaining baby kale, added in leftover cauliflower rice, sprinkled on a little feta cheese, drizzled on my last sliver of lemon, and tossed it all up.  It was surprisingly delicious and I was able to use up multiple leftovers!

Your leftovers may not always magically pair together like they did for my Kale and Shrimp Salad.  But that doesn’t mean your leftovers have to spoil.  Think about if there’s a side dish you could buy or make to enhance the leftovers you have.  The other night we had an awkward amount of chicken teriyaki stir fry leftover.  It wouldn’t have filled both of us, but we didn’t want it to go to waste.  We decided to order a sushi roll to complete our meal.

 

What are your favorite leftovers? Share in the comments!

A Week of SkinnyTaste

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Naked Greek Feta-Zucchini Turkey Burger

I have been a little MIA lately. Work trips, family emergencies, and apartment searching has left little time for my blog.  But I guess that’s why it’s called theSTRETCHEDlife!

I am currently on my way home from a trip to Arizona and wanted to share with you all some lovely meals that I prepared while I WAS at home.

I knew I would be in town the week leading up to Memorial Day so that Sunday I picked three recipes from SkinnyTaste to try.  Of course I didn’t ended up making each dish the night I planned because life/work happens, but by the end of the week, I had tried them all and had leftovers to enjoy!  Each recipe was delicious and kept me full, but not too full.  Even better, these SkinnyTastae dishes were simple to make.

 

Naked Greek Feta-Zucchini Turkey Burger

Of the three recipes I picked out, this one was by far the most time consuming so I made it on Sunday night.  It was still pretty simple though – just a matter of shredding the zucchini, chopping a few vegetables, and measuring out the seasoning.

Shredding Zucchini

I ate the burger as recommended – no bun, Greek salad on top.  For my SO, I toasted up two slices of wheat bread to act as a bun.  He needs to eat a little more than I do!

Turkey Burger Prep

The burger must have been pretty good because my SO had a second that night and I enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next two days.  I simply threw some mixed greens into Tupperware and topped it with the Greek salad mixture and the chopped-up turkey burger.  I then mixed it up with some Tzatziki as dressing.

Naked Greek Feta-Zucchini Turkey Burger

One Pan Parmesan-Crusted Chicken with Broccoli

This recipe couldn’t get much easier.  I had chopped the broccoli on Sunday so when I got home from work I just had to chop up the parsley and garlic.  Once that was done, I threw everything in a pan and did a Tone It Up video while it cooked.

Skinnytaste Parmesan Crusted Chicken Prep

My chicken breasts were on the larger side so they took closer to 45 minutes to cook.  This was perfect because my workout video was 30 minutes and I wanted to make cauliflower rice to go with the chicken.  I had shredded the cauliflower on Sunday and was able to rice it following Minimalist Baker’s instructions while the chicken finished.

Skinnytaste Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Broccoli

Sheet Pan Shrimp with Broccolini and Tomatoes

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any easier than the Parmesan-Crusted Chicken, I fell in love with this one pan shrimp and broccolini recipe.  I defrosted frozen shrimp in the fridge while I was at work and when I came home I pretty much just had to remove the tails from the shrimp, chop the ends off the broccolini, and halve the tomatoes.

Skinnytaste Shrimp and Broccolini in Sheet Pan

I served this one with quinoa and my SO liked it much more than I expected.  The fresh lemon added a lot so don’t forget that at the end!

Skinnytaste Shrimp and Broccolini Close Up

 

 

What’s your favorite SkinnyTaste recipe?  Share in the comments below!

Cashew Carob Chip Cookie Bars

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Cashew Carob Chip Bar Recipe Image

The Inspiration

Rachael's Good Eats Cashew Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet

I had seen this decadent skillet cookie all over Instagram and was so excited to finally try it when Sugar Free Lent was over.  I ended up making a few tweaks to Rachael DeVaux’s recipe and decided that my creation would be more accurately called Cashew Carob Chip Cookie Bars.

Cashew Carob Chip Cookie Bars Recipe

Cashew Carob Chip Cookie Bars

Recipe Highlights

Carob Chips for Cashew Bars

  • Baking Dish: Part of the glory of Rachael’s original recipe is that it’s made in a skillet.  However, many of us, including myself, do not already have a good baking skillet.  Thus, I went with an 8×8-inch glass baking pan.
  • Baking Time: I originally thought that the height of my batter in the 8×8-inch glass baking pan would be similar to Rachael’s in her 8-inch skillet and that the baking time would be similar.  It turns out the glass pan needed some more time.  When I took it out after 21 minutes it was still very gooey.  I would recommend leaving it in for at least 25 minutes.  Once the inside is a little firmer, you can go ahead and turn the broiler on for a minute or two to give your bake a crisp top.  Just be sure to keep an eye on it in the broiler!

Cashew Carob Chip Cookie Bar in Glass Pan

I knew it was a good recipe when I came home from work just two days later and saw this:

Remains of Cashew Carob Chip Bars

My SO who claims he doesn’t like sweets, and has definitely never expressed interested in dairy-free, gluten-free, or grain-free desserts had devoured the dish.  There’s not much more rewarding than that : )

Tone It Up Bikini Series: Two Weeks In

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Tone It Up

Karena, Katrina, and their massive Instagram following (#tiuteam) convinced me to try the Tone It Up Bikini Series.  If you haven’t heard of Tone It Up, here’s a clip from their website:

Karena and Katrina, the founders of the Tone It Up have brought a fresh approach to fitness with their fun, energetic, girlfriend-to-girlfriend method of getting fit.  Since founding Tone It Up, they have built a brand of fitness products, community, retreats, nutrition plans and have graced the pages of Shape, SELF, In Style, Women’s Health and featured in Forbes and People.

Their Tone It Up Nutrition Programs and beach workouts inspire millions of women to live the life of their dreams every day.

Happy So Far

The 8-week Tone It Up Bikini Series started 2 weeks ago and I’ve enjoyed it so far.  Karena and Katrina, two energetic Southern California beach babes, can be a little overwhelming at first.  But you quickly start to fall for them when you start to realize how positive they are, how much they motivate you, and how hard they kick your butt each day.

The first week, I was barely able to do any of the workouts because I was working until 8pm or later every night and was on the road for two days.  I typically try to work out on the road but when you stay up until 1am working on a presentation for the next morning, sleep becomes more important.

TIU Live 5-6-17
Live Workout on Saturday 5/6 with Karena and her hubby

This past week I really got into it.  I was in town all week and my schedule was manageable.  I was impressed by how challenging the Tone It Up workouts were.  When I woke up to work out Tuesday my legs were a little sore from the HIIT workout the morning before.  After finishing the 35-minute Coachella Booty & Abs Workout that morning (I’d subbed this for the live workout, unsure I’d still be motivated to work out at 7:30pm), I was nervous I wasn’t going to be able to walk.  I then still had to do 15 minutes of totally toned with Katrina.  And to be sure, Katrina’s workout included more glute and ab exercises!

While there are no rest days in the Bikini Series (I know, I’d never heard of this either!), Karena and Katrina did give me some breaks later in the week.  Thursday I was finally able to let my legs recover with some yoga, and on Saturday part of the workout was just a “walk with friends.”

The Downside

The biggest complaint I have so far is the Tone It Up website.  There is content everywhere and I find it difficult to navigate.  Sometimes I even find myself googling “Tone It Up + (whatever I’m looking for)” because that gets me their more quickly.

Also, I reached out to their customer service over a week ago and still have not heard anything back.  I accidentally created two accounts using different email addresses.  My downloads are on one and my profile is on the other.  I’d really like to merge the two but can’t seem to get in contact with anyone!*

*Update: Two days after originally posting this article, Tone It Up support reached out to me and fixed the issue with no questions asked!

Looking Ahead

TIU Workout Setup
My Simple Tone It Up Workout Setup

Despite the website challenges, I am excited for the next five weeks of the Bikini Series.  I am already thinking about how the Daily Workout will be a great resource for me even after the Bikini Series on days that I am just not sure what I want to do for exercise.  I love that most of the workouts only require a light set of hand weights.  I can squeeze them in at home or on the road.

Now, whether or not I can continue to fit in a Bikini Series workout everyday is the big question.  The fact that the workouts are only posted for 24-hours helps motivate me to get them done, but it also doesn’t leave me with much flexibility.  I’m not sure how I’ll fit all the workouts in during crazy work weeks.

While I continue the daily workouts, I am also planning to look into their Nutrition Programs.  I’m not sure I’ll sign up for the full nutrition plan just yet, but I’m sure I can find some good inspiration from their Recipes.

Stay tuned for more updates on my experience with the Bikini Series and Tone It Up!

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