Sep 15

Happy Birthday Grandma & Grandma!

Posted by Lindsey.

Today, I’d very much like to wish both my grandmothers a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I am lucky to have two very sweet, wonderful grandmas who have been a very important part of my life. These two ladies are amongst my favorite people ever! And, it’s always been fun that they share a birthday!

Nadine Austin Robbins is my dad’s mother. She was born in 1919 and grew up on a farm near Mulliken, MI. She married Roland Robbins and had two sons. Growing up, she always took me out shopping and to lunch before the first day of school. She had sweets whenever we came over to visit but I prefer her zucchini bread. And when I stayed over with them, my grandma would let me play mail with her. I’d make an envelope on my door and she’d deliver “mail” to me. That, and I made them laugh practicing headstands in the living room! Most of all, she always has the best stories especially about growing up on a farm. Favorite stories are when she talked about grandpa and her going out dancing!  Today, she turns 91!

Helen Illig Pratt is my mom’s mother. She was born in 1920 and she also grew up on a farm but near West Branch, MI. She married Carl Sutherlund and had two children. He died in World War II, Battle of the Bulge. Helen remarried in 1946 to my grandpa, Arthur Pratt and they had my mother. Now, my grandma has three children, six grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren. Growing up, I remember trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s house because they lived out in the country north of Grand Rapids in Reed City, MI. My favorite thing to do with her is to play cards! We played cards every time I saw her and like my other grandmother, she tells great stories from when she was growing up. I especially love the one where she made my grandpa put shoes on the first time they met before she would dance with him! Today, she turns 90!

Nadine Austin Robbins and Helen Illig Pratt – Thank you so much for being such wonderful women, grandmas, and role models. You don’t know how much I miss you both. I think about you all the time and hope you are doing well. I love you!!!!

My Grandma Robbins and Me

My Grandma Pratt and me

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Sep 14

Measure Up: 30 Day Shred

Posted by Lindsey.

Well, after so long of reading about how good a workout Jillian Michael’s 30-Day Shred workout dvd is, I finally bought my own copy. For under $10 at Target, I couldn’t argue with trying it out. I also picked up a couple cheap 5lb weights. I know they recommend you start at 3lbs but I do a lot of strength training regularly and was pretty confident I could challenge myself better if I started with the heavier weights.

Main reason I decided to do the Shred workout is because I needed something more for my workout schedule. I run 3 days a week, take a flow yoga class, and do spinning. But, some of that requires I get home late. I didn’t want to add another class which would mean another late night getting home. Too much time away from Phil makes me a sad girl. 🙂

Also, I didn’t want to add more running. I’m trying to keep the impact on my legs to a minimum with focused, hard runs.

So, I thought why not add a workout at home for several days a week?

I’ve already completed two workouts. One at level 1 and one at level 2. I love level 2 more than level 1 but I’m going to keep mixing them up between the three levels. After the two workouts, I’ve had some good soreness and I enjoy the variety.

But as with anything, I took my measurements and I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

Have you done the Shred? How were your results? And with anything, if you can’t beat em, join em. I’d gladly welcome anyone wanting to take the challenge with me.

Let’s Get Shredding!

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Sep 14

Meal Profile: Salad & Soup at Work

Posted by Lindsey.

Introducing a new segment where I profile a recent meal I’ve had and any tips about what to do or not to do (if I go rogue with food choices).

Meal Profile: Salad & Soup from the work cafeteria

At work, we have a salad bar and a choice of two soups every day. Well, every now and then I give myself a treat and buy lunch instead of my packed lunch from home. I usually go to the cafeteria with the intent to get a light sandwich and some Food Should Taste Good chips, but I often see the salad bar and start drooling. So many delicious options and variety. More variety than I care to buy and make for at home. Even the veggies look really, really good.

On this day, I made a truly delicious salad and poured a cup of tomato bisque soup.

Some Tips from my Meal:

  • Eat the salad first. Not only will you allow time for the soup to cool from scalding hot to normal hot, but you will give yourself a chance to fill up on salad first. I only ate a fourth of the soup because I was so full from the salad. I saved the soup for another day and split up the soup’s calories since tomato bisque is often made with highly caloric cream.
  • You can’t see it in the salad, but I used three different types of lettuce. Don’t just add a bunch of Iceberg Lettuce. Iceberg is mostly water and while has almost no calories it also doesn’t contain a lot of nutritious elements. If you’re going to eat, eat something with benefits. So, I layered mine with a mixed greens, spinach, and some other mixed greens. Love it!
  • Add on a healthy balance of veggies but limit the starchy vegetables. I allowed myself only a few mini corn on the cobs.
  • Don’t forget the protein. I added grilled chicken, a little bacon spread out, and some eggs. Love protein from eggs! Also, by allowing a little bacon as protein, it meant a lot of added flavor! You feel like you’re getting more without as much. Just watch the portion sizes!
  • Add healthy fats. On this day I chose a vinaigrette dressing and sunflower seeds. Yum! Dressing on the side as well!!!
  • Don’t forget the crunch. Sometimes, how you eat a salad determines how satisfied you feel afterwards. I love a good crunch to my salad so I added these super garlicky croûtons but instead of the big pieces, I chose the smaller pieces and crumbles so it spread out more and made it more fun.
  • Don’t forget the cheese. Yah, I know you have to be very careful with cheese but I love it. So I choose the most powerful cheese and spread a little around. Strong cheeses, like proteins, add a lot of flavor but you don’t need as much. On this day, I went for bleu cheese!
  • If you like pepper, ground some fresh pepper over the salad!
  • And, lastly, if you’re silly like me. Eat a little of your salad with your hands by dipping your veggies in your tomato soup!

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Sep 13

Pardon my Hiatus

Posted by Lindsey.

Yup, as you can see I took a short break from blogging. Not on purpose though. Since I last posted, I’ve taken pictures of meals we’ve had, went to a few new restaurants, and been working out pretty regularly (except for a few days in there). I just never got around to the actual writing about what we we’ve done. But, I’m back with a few new ideas I’ll be debuting over the next couple weeks.

In the meantime, here’s a short recap:

  • Over Labor Day weekend, I got sick after eating at Chic-fil-a. Chic-fil-a is one of the few fast food places I’ll eat. I love their chicken. And, they are usually a very clean, friendly place but who knows what happened. Probably just bad luck. Either way, it’s definitely a reminder I need a break from fast food. I’m just not a fan.
  • Ate at Samos Taverna restaurant in Mt. Pleasant with Phil’s parents. Review to come.
  • Ran the bridge for the first time in a long time. It was hard!
  • Started doing Hour Flow Yoga at my gym. Each time, I sweat buckets.
  • Bought Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred and Yoga Meltdown workout DVDs. I was looking for a way to get some workouts in at home and both these DVDs were under $10 each. Very affordable option to try out. Reviews to come.
  • Friends came to town this past weekend. We had such a good time seeing Doug & Vicki and we can’t wait for their wedding in Buffalo in a few weeks.
  • Football season is back! We’ve watched two weeks of Michigan State and Clemson football and we’re more than thrilled that the NFL season is back. We enjoyed watching the games with our friends Dave & Jazmine yesterday especially when the Steelers won in dramatic fashion. It was heartbreaking for my Lions but still so impressed with how they are playing.
  • Phil and I are participating in Charleston Restaurant Week! Can’t wait for Saturday night!
  • And, we added a weekly run together. We’re going to run a trail near our house every week as a test to see if we are ready for our upcoming 5K runs. The route is about 3.5 miles long so it’s a good distance to keep practicing.

What have you been up to?

For one meal, Phil grilled some outstanding corn and asparagus!

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Aug 26

Product Review: Zevia Diet Soda

Posted by Lindsey.

How did I find Zevia?

The other day, I had to run to the grocery store during my short lunch break to pick up a few items for dinner. I couldn’t go after work because I had an appointment and I didn’t want the food going bad in my car. So, I made a quick run to Whole Foods where I picked up the veggies, Greek yogurt, chicken sausage, and a few other odds and ends. I finished near the hot bar where I surprised Phil by picking him up some Whole Foods barbecue for dinner. He loves it and who doesn’t want to make her guy happy? As I was about to leave, I looked in the cold drink section near the hot bar to see if I wanted to pick up anything cold to drink on way back to work or to drink with my lunch. That’s when I saw Zevia. I had seen it before and wondered… “would it taste good?” I thought now or never and picked up one of my favorite flavors, root bear!

Review?

The Ginger Root Beer was fantastic. I thought it tasted better than a diet soda but not grossly, teeth-rotting sweet like regular soda. I didn’t notice any weird tastes either which some say they get with stevia products but that may be because I am used to stevia. I use stevia in my coffee in the morning and I enjoy it in my Vitamin Water Zero. I love that it’s plant based and natural. We even grew some stevia in our backyard this summer when Phil’s father gave us a plant. You really can taste the sweetness right from the leaves. We tried it and were amazed at how powerful just one leaf is!

This drink is now on my to do list for drinking more often. I doubt I will drink it like most Americans do, several cans a day every day. But, I will remember it for special occasions. I’m just so happy there are good companies out there trying to do the right thing. Provide a quality, great tasting product with natural ingredients that doesn’t attempt to destroy your teeth or insides. Just say no to diabetes.

Either way, if you find a store near you carries it, I recommend you give the flavors a shot. At the very least if you love any kind of root beer drink, try this one! Love it!

What Flavors do they have?

  • ZEVIA Natural Cola
  • ZEVIA Natural Orange
  • ZEVIA Natural Twist
  • ZEVIA Natural Root Beer
  • ZEVIA Natural Black Cherry
  • ZEVIA Natural Ginger Ale

Where to get Zevia? Use their store locator on their website.

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Aug 18

Riojas Patatas

Posted by Lindsey.

This story starts out with a boy and a girl who travel to Chicago and fall in love with a restaurant called Cafe Iberico. This restaurant, a Spanish Tapas place, is somewhat dark inside but quite animated no matter if it’s a Thursday or Sunday night. People gather here, order plate after plate of delectable Spanish cuisine, and conversate over pitchers of sangria. On the second visit, they order a dish. This dish is one of the last to be ordered. Almost overlooked because of it’s seemingly simple approach – potatoes in a red sauce. The dish arrives and the boy tries it. He suddenly seems lost in the fantastic flavors of the soupy potato dish. He takes bite after bite slowly and proclaiming he could swim in this dish, even die in this dish. He allows the girl a few bites and she loves the flavors almost as much. But she can’t love it as much when she sees how happy the boy is to savor in the new tastes. She lets him continue on as she samples other delicious flavors. Meanwhile, he takes piece after piece of the bread, slightly toasted so it’s a bit crunchy, and dips it into the dish to absorb the juices. The girl feels happy inside to see the boy smile ear to ear.

Later, they leave the restaurant and walk back to their hotel room, hand in hand. The weekend spent away has been wonderful especially because of the discovery of their love for Spanish tapas food. In particular, the rioja patata dish stays with them.

Back in Charleston, they return to their normal routines. A few weeks go by. Then, a question is raised. “I wonder if we could try to make a riojas patatas dish?” Why not? The girl is excellent with research and the boy is excellent with cooking. Together, they pair up as a team. This strategy has served them well in the past – baked macaroni & cheese, homemade pizza, chicken pot pie, chocolate chip cookies, and all the other recipes they have made together.

The girl finds a recipe to try on a website, About.com of all places. It’s reprinted from permission of the author, Cocina Casera Espanola – Spanish Home Cooking by Miriam Kelen. Per the boy and girl’s style, they make some modifications. Here’s how they attempted their own Riojas Patatas.

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5lbs of new potatoes
  • olive oil (use as much as you need to cover the bottom of the pan)
  • 1 large yellow Spanish onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Pimenton (Spanish paprika) + a little more around the pan
  • salt and pepper
  • 12oz chorizo
  • 3/4 cup Spanish white wine (we used The Spanish Quarter)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups of low sodium chicken stock
  • small can of green chili peppers

Preparation:

  • Cut potatoes halfway through, then “snap” open.
  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat until hot.
  • Add potatoes; cook about 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
  • Add onion and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes or until onion is slightly brown, stirring frequently.
  • Stir in bell peppers, 1 tablespoon paprika, pepper, salt. Mix well and then spread some more paprika around the pan.
  • Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in chorizo and break up with the stirring spoon.
  • Add the wine and cook about 3 minutes or until wine is slightly reduced.
  • Add water and chicken stock to cover vegetables, about two cups each.
  • Add the chili peppers and stir well.
  • Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer until potatoes are tender.
  • Mash or break up the potatoes , stir occasionally, and allow the sauce to thicken.
  • Remove from heat and scoop the portions into individual flat soup bowls (if you have them, any bowl will do)
  • Enjoy!

We used our biggest pan

Tips:

  • Keep the dish covered until the end. We wanted to make sure everything was cooked and then when we reduced the heat to simmer we took the cover off to let the whole dish reduce down.
  • When you get to the simmer part, we recommend taking a potato masher and mashing up the potatoes. This releases more starch and helps the sauce thicken.
  • If you are sensitive to heat, don’t put all the chili peppers in. This dish definitely has some slow heat to it. We happen to love a little hot spice to a dish so we left it in.
  • We bought two kinds of bread to dip – sourdough french loaf and a Chicago style loaf we picked up at Publix. The key here is to use fresh bread!
  • You can toast or not toast the bread, we chose to not toast for the first round.

We loved the sourdough french loaf.

One small bowl will fill you up!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And so it goes, when this boy and this girl sat down to dinner last night after cooking this new dish in the kitchen together. They sat in awe and wondered, will it taste the same? It smelled good so their hopes were up. They told themselves if it was half as good, they’d be happy.

One kiss for good luck and they each took a spoonful. A collective “mmmm….” escaped their lips. Success! This dish not only lived up to expectations but transported them back to their new favorite restaurant. Until one day they could go back again, they would make this dish and perhaps attempt others from the  menu in the hopes of bringing more Spanish cuisine home.

Now for the rest of the story? The rest of the story involves more scoops of riojas patatas and several dips of fresh bread in until the very last drop of their bowls were gone. Not to worry, they had enough leftover for each of them to take into work tomorrow. The (happy) end! 🙂

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Aug 18

Adventures in Self Propelled Treadmill Land

Posted by Lindsey.

Tonight, I tried something new at the gym. I kept seeing these odd treadmills. People seemed to be running on them okay and well it was cool and new. They were self propelled and curvy. Turns out, it’s called a Woodway Curve Non-Motorized Treadmill. I liked the concept, you run at your own speed based on your movement/effort and not the forced speed of the treadmill. I was a little apprehensive at first as you can see below. It’s definitely not as straightforward when you hop on it.

I started out with five minutes of walking. I learned, the more you walk towards the front, the incline increases speed. After five minutes, I picked it up to a jog. The verdict? It’s actually pretty fun. You can fly on it if you choose but woah, you start sweating, breathing hard, and your muscles start to burn! Yup, it really seemed to work me harder than a standard treadmill. I could especially feel my thighs burn as I was focusing on stabilizing myself and finding the right speed.

My only issue the entire workout was finding my pace. It’s definitely something I will continue to practice and see if I can get better at. If I ran too far back the pace slowed down too much and if I leaned forward and ran with a longer stride hitting more of the curve I started going really, really fast. Wow, I couldn’t believe how weird the sensation was to run fast, feel a good workout, but my joints didn’t hurt. It has a soft landing to it because of the sloped incline. My knees and foot felt fine just my heart and lungs were complaining a bit.

On their website I can see why they advertise it as a great tool for interval training.

Here’s a video of the treadmill in action.

What do you think? Would you give it a shot?

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Aug 16

Restaurant Review: Coleman Public House

Posted by Lindsey.

Yesterday was a rainy day in the area but we managed to get a lot done and have fun. First, I woke up a little late but relished the sleeping in before I hit the trails for my Sunday morning run. The bad news is my foot pain came back and the humidity was extra thick but the good news is if I run faster, the pain isn’t as bad. Solution – run fast! lol

Then, my extra sweaty self washed up for a lunch with Phil’s family at a new restaurant in Mt. Pleasant. Coleman Public House is on Coleman Blvd (duh) and was designed to mimic the European Public House. Overall, the food was excellent especially the homemade bread in their burgers and flatbreads. I wouldn’t recommend going on Sundays just yet because service was a bit slow but we are anxious to try the food again on a normal restaurant night. Who wants to work on Sundays anyways 😉

Menu was unique. It was tied down to a board.

I loved the calming decorations of the place. The main colors were teal and dark brown. It wasn’t overly done and just seemed very nice.

Phil was excited because they had Bell’s Two Hearted Ale on draft! Yay for Michigan beer. I allowed myself to have one white wine sangria. I love a drink with fruit in it and this was very light and crisp.

Of course a lunch wouldn’t be complete without McCrae entertaining us. She’s a funny little girl but is growing up way too fast. She used a fork to feed herself lunch and it was so cute!

Meredith is being silly here with part of our appetizer.

For an appetizer, Phil and I ordered the Fried Green Tomato Napoleon. It was a stack of alternating fried green tomato, vine ripe tomato, and the goat cheese. The pesto was throughout and the balsamic reduction was on the plate. We were planning on splitting a salad but this took the place nicely. Yay for fresh tomatoes in season!

The table also split the Rosemary Popcorn. I didn’t really taste much rosemary infused oil and it was just okay to me. I’m not really much of a popcorn fan so I tried only a few bites. The rest of the table split it and as you can see above, Meredith used the rosemary sprig as entertainment for the little one.

Phil and I wanted to try a couple things so he ordered the California Burger. It had monterey jack, applewood smoked bacon, avocado, tomato, alfalfa sprouts, and creamy dijon. We split the burger half way and I also had a few of his fries. They were really good but I couldn’t eat that many, too oily. But the burger, that burger was delicious. When we go back, I’ll probably order the burger and a side salad. It’s that good (and not just the burger, the bun was really well done)!

Unfortunately, by the time I had my appetizer, a few bites of popcorn, half a burger, and a few fries, I wasn’t very hungry for the San Franciscan flatbread we also ordered.  I ate a couple slices though so I could try it fresh and it was outstanding. The flatbread had grilled chicken, applewood smoked bacon, bleu cheese, tomato, avocado, and scallion. We took the rest home and let me tell you, the two slices I had for lunch today were even better than yesterday! I love that it wasn’t overly drenched in anything, tasted fresh, and was a light meal (as long as you don’t chomp down the whole thing, lol).

Lunch with Phil’s family is always a good time and Phil was even a good sport to look up movie times for us on his phone while we relaxed after our meal.

That’s because I talked him into seeing…

Yup, he’s a good man to make his girlfriend happy 🙂

I was so delighted to see the movie (and no I didn’t expect it to be as good as the book) that I could have ended the day on that note. I just wanted to daydream about Italy and Bali. Who wouldn’t?! But somehow after all that we still managed to get groceries, eat dinner, and start watching season 1 of the Big Bang Theory (oh so funny)!

All in all, my heart and stomach were happy campers yesterday after a day full of good food, good people, and great experiences!

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Aug 14

Baked Green Tomatoes!

Posted by Lindsey.

Phil came up with a genius of a recipe. This post is all in honor of his wonderful new creation. He turned something I recently discovered as a favorite taste into a more healthier version. You see, here’s a secret about me, until a couple years ago, I could not eat tomatoes. I could only eat them in small cut up pieces as part of a larger recipe. I did not like the taste. But then something magical happened to my taste buds, especially in the last year, and I have been eating more and more tomatoes in all shapes and forms.  And then out at a restaurant on vacation, I finally tried fried green tomatoes. Oh so yummy!

However, the challenge was on to Phil because I rarely eat fried foods. One night he went for it and boy did he go big. These tasted so amazing that we’ve made it a few more times and now I’m on the hunt for more unripened tomatoes. I love them and when our tomato plants start producing again, I may steal a few prematurely to make more baked green tomatoes.

Here’s how we made Baked Green Tomatoes!

Start with beautiful green tomatoes. When they begin to ripen and turn red, they become too soft and risk falling apart. This one almost looks like a green apple doesn’t it?

Next, slice the tomatoes into thick slices. Or, you can slice whatever size you prefer.

Set up two dishes. A wet ingredients dish and a dry ingredients dish. In the wet dish: greek yogurt, mustard, hot sauce, salt, pepper and egg white.

In the dry ingredients dish: panko (for the extra crunch), cornmeal, italian breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and a pinch of salt.

Next comes the fun/messy part. Dip the tomato in the wet and then the dry ingredients. Make sure to really pack the dry ingredients onto the tomato with your fingers. You want a good coating.

See Phil’s fast hands at work!

And then, place the tomatoes on a baking sheet, covered in tinfoil, and spray with some non-stick spray.

Pre-baked, they look yummy!

I love how some of the green pokes thru.

All ready to be baked.

Sadly, I forgot to take an after picture because I ate them too quickly. However, a great idea we did, is we took some light pasta sauce and used it as a dip.

Here’s to turning a dish with a vegetable into a tasty treat for any meal. I love them and I hope you try them and love them too!

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Aug 13

Sweaty, Happy Girl

Posted by Lindsey.

This is me, last night 🙂

Post-Spinning Class (notice beads of sweat on forehead)

I was so happy!

Why? I’m officially back at my old gym in Mt. Pleasant and in two days I’ve taken an excellent yoga class and a very sweaty and tough (but enjoyable) Spin class. The Spin class was exactly as it should have been and my instructor Heather, was top notch. I hadn’t had a good, sweaty spin session since June when we visited friends in DC and Vicki took me to her spin class.

Ahhh… this is what working out should be. You should smile and feel happy afterwards. I loved the difference in attitude. Everyone I saw was sweating, determined, and focused on their workout. People were working hard (not standing around at social hour hogging the equipment)! I think I can now permanently forget about the bad gym and just be positive about all the good workouts in my future like the one I’m going to have after work tonight.

Best yet, Wednesday night after yoga, I had the best night sleep I’ve had in a long time. Every part of me was stretched and relaxed. I even stretched the muscles between my ribs! I felt so open and calm. Yay!

Returning to my old gym has reminded me of an important lesson. You need to enjoy your workouts to get the most out of them. Don’t do any exercise you don’t enjoy because life is short and wasting time with anything that you don’t like just sets you back. My new motto! When I design my upcoming workout plans, I’m going to only pick the types of exercises (inc. strength training) that I enjoy. Doesn’t mean I’m going to go easy on myself it just probably means I won’t hop on a stairclimber or take a step aerobics class anytime soon (or ever)!

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