photo dump: food prep


….I’m tired.

It’s been a busy Wednesday so far! I am about half way into a 12 day stretch of work, so all my spare time right now is being spent keeping my home life organized. Markus had to be at work at 6 this morning, so we got up around 5:30. When I got back from dropping him off, I got back in bed for a bit, but couldn’t sleep, really, so I got up and went to have breakfast.

Initially, I had planned on going to BodyPump at 10 am, but last night my $6.49 dumbbell bargain steal was delivered by UPS! And since I just vastly prefer working out on my time rather than the gym’s schedule, I decided I would begin my home weightlifting workouts today! Today I started with back and shoulders. I did the following workout:

super sets: 3 sets, 15 reps each

I would love to tell you what I mean by “BodyPump rotator” above, but I have no idea what the real exercise is called. Hehehe. Total fail, I’m sorry… I’ll look into it and get back to you all. 🙂 I also started with a short plyometric warm up to get my body prepped. I just love weights! By the time I was finished, my shoulders were definitely burnt out.

After my workout, I put myself straight to the kitchen to start prepping all my food for the week.

Yesterday I did my grocery shopping at Whole Foods. If I calculated correctly, I shouldn’t need to restock at all this week, except for maybe bananas. I spent $53.90, a mere $3.90 more than my goal of $50. Woohoo! It was also a “heavy” grocery week, in that I needed some staples like apple cider vinegar and oats, etc, that bumped my total up. But those are things I won’t need to buy again for a while, so it’s all good!

the haul

One of the things I did this week was to buy dried chickpeas instead of canned. It is way cheaper. One bag costs about what 2 cans would, but you probably get somewhere around 4 or 5 cans worth of beans. #winning

So last night I soaked my chickpeas and this morning I cooked them while I worked out.

cook while you’re sleeping! rinse and soak your dried beans overnight.

it takes 1.5 hours to cook garbanzo beans. put ’em in the pot and leave ’em to do their thing while you do chores, homework or a workout!

I really enjoyed the process of getting these beans ready to eat. I likened it to baking bread. It’s a long process, yes, but you get to really understand how your food comes together and what goes into the bag or can of product you buy at the store. I find this very meditative as well: watching, noticing, staying aware of the state of your food. It’s beautiful.

Once my chickpeas were cooked, I decided to make a batch of hummus and Tone It Up! garbanzo patties.


I used this recipe for my hummus. It’s pretty basic and quite yummy, but moving forward I will tweak it to be more my liking. (Read: more garlic! Less lemon! More tahini!)

Tone It Up! garbanzo patties from their nutrition plan!

I prepped these bad boys and then put them in the freezer. All they’ll take is a few minutes on a skillet and they’ll make a quick, delicious protein option. I did alter the recipe a bit, using almond meal instead of flax and adding curry to the flavor profile.

I used 3.5 cups of garbanzo beans between these two recipes, and I swear I still have another 2.5 cups left! I put those in the freezer as well, and will use them later this week or maybe even next week! (Can I get a woop woop for stretching that budget?!)

Next I made black bean patties, also from the Tone It Up! recipe plan. (Confession: this week I resorted to my Tone It Up! nutrition plan for lots of my meals. If you’re new to clean eating, or even if you aren’t, I highly recommend trying their plan out. They have some super awesome vegan recipes and I always consider it to be some of the best money I ever spent.)


I used my last can of black beans to make these, and a can only makes 3 patties, but that’s just fine. Next week you can bet I’ll be buying dried black beans and prepping them just like my chickpeas today!

Up next! Carrot salad is going to be a major player in my lunches this week. (This recipe, again, is from Tone It Up!… sorry if I’m alienating anyone, but these recipes are all so simple and if you really wanted something close to them, feel free to just google yourself a recipe… or buy the plan!)

carrot salad

I made several days worth of salad and that will be perfect for me as I head into the weekend at work. Such a simple and easy  lunch to take to work with me, along side a black bean or garbanzo patty!

At this point, I was famished. I was ready to actually eat some of the food I was making. So I whipped up this deliciousness:

Vegan Waldorf salad on a bed of spinach with a side of baked Japanese yam “fries.” So simple, so easy, so delicious.

I can’t even explain to you how good it felt to sit and eat. I’d been in the kitchen for over 2 hours by this point and my belly was so happy I had finally stopped tempting it with yumminess and finally gave it something to do. 🙂

And now you find me writing you this post from my side of the bed, with the blinds closed and the lights off. That can only mean one thing: it’s nap time. I have to work tonight and since I had such an early morning, I think a nap would only be wise.

Enjoy the rest of your day, Swagsters!


mighty me

It’s Tuesday, and if you’re reading this you survived Monday, so HOORAY FOR EVERYONE!

My good mood and positive outlook are still with me today, as you might be able to see, even though the sun is not exactly shining today.

My morning routine was a little scrambled today, as I had an appointment to get to after taking Markus to work. So instead of going right into my morning workout, I woke up and did an 8 minute mediation before heading downstairs to breakfast. I decided I would workout after my appointment, when I had more time. Plus I had a big idea that I would go for a run today. I’ve signed up for the Rhythm Race on August 18th, so I figured I might as well prepare myself by, um, running.

My workout started with the Whistle Workout from BodyRockTV. I love this work out. It’s 16 minutes instead of 12, and those extra 4 minutes are killer.

I’ve done this workout 3 times now and I’m so glad that I started writing down my reps because today I saw some improvements I was not expecting! Check it out:

Here’s a list of the exercises. It’s 24 rounds of 10:30. (For full explanations of exercises, see the link to the video above.)

1. Surfer kick-outs
2. Alternating upright row with a twist
3. 5 high knees + 1 half burpee
4. Back lunge with kick (right)
5. Back lunge with kick (left)
6. 5 star pushups + 1 burpee
7. Ninja jump tucks
8. Exploding pushups

The first time I did this workout my reps looked like this:

1. 7/7/6
2. 15/15/15
3. 5/5/5
4. 13/14/13
5. 13/14/14
6. 2.5/2/2
7. 7/7/7
8. 8/14/13 (I ended up doing these on my knees after the first round so I could maintain form)

Now, after doing this workout 3 times over the span of a month, my reps looked like this:

1. 11/10/10
2. 15/14/15
3. 8/7/8
4. 12/13/13
5. 13/13/14
6. 2.5/2.5/2
7. 8/8/8
8. 14/12/13

I highlighted my notable improvements.  I was SO proud of myself when I saw this. It felt so good to see that my hard work is paying off. I’m getting stronger and faster. A lot of my (and most people’s) fitness adventure is kept alive on faith and trusting that changes will happen, aesthetically. That’s well and good, but sometimes we (myself included) forget about the changes in physical strength. It was a good reminder to me of what happens on the inside. Plus, having tangible results every now and again is just so inspiring! And I couldn’t not pat myself on the back. Not even my little negative voice can deny that I’ve made improvements!

After I caught my breath a bit, I hit the pavement for that aforementioned run. I have a little almost-2-mile path that I do in my neighborhood and I decided I’d go with that default run today. For not running very consistently, it went really well! I even went a little farther, since the run ends at my front door, and I wanted a chance to walk and cool down a bit.

woop woop!

Today’s been one of those days that reminds me why I actually work out. Not just to have toned muscles and a strong, healthy body. But to pat myself on the back, to build confidence. To stop and say to myself, “Wow, Jenny. That was impressive.” “Wow, Jenny. You are strong.” And to mean it. To see how hard I work and push and then see how I survive it. It becomes a metaphor for life. It’s how I get my swag and take it into my real world.

I can do anything. I am Mighty Me.

Have you done anything lately that makes you feel mighty?

Are you running any fun themed races soon? 

the perks of sleeping soundly

I took it way easy last night. After dinner I pretty much planted myself in bed with my kindle and the rainstorms. As I previously mentioned, my friends and I have started a little book club and our first book is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I’m already about 1/3 of the way through it and holy cow… I have half a mind to call out of work so I can keep reading today. I’ve been completely sucked into this. It’s so good!

comfy cozy rainstormy night

I fell asleep a little after 10 and woke up organically this morning, without an alarm at 7. My alarm had been set for 8, though, so I took the time to have a nice long wake up. I laid in bed til about 7:45 doing my morning phone-errands and listening to NPR. It was a total #jadorelavie moment.

When I got myself out of bed, I was feeling more than ready to workout. Admittedly, I’m a bit sore from yesterday’s return to weight-lifting, but not too sore. The kind of sore that benefits from moving, know what I mean? So I went with the most recent BodyRockTV workout. It was tough, but my joy of being back in my routine helped me push through.

Last night I also scored a major win. I happened to have a $25 gift card to Overstock, and I’ve really been wanting to get heavier dumbbells for my house. I only have 5lbs right now and those don’t cut it for my weight lifting needs. As much as I enjoy BodyPump classes, working out at home has spoiled me and I would just rather do it on my time instead of the gym’s schedule. So I meandered over to Overstock and scouted things out. I found a set of adjustable dumbbells that max out at 40lbs. Well that’s well more than what I need. After my gift card and using a free trial of the Club O in order to skip shipping, I was going to get these babies for $9.99. Then inspiration struck and I searched the web for Overstock coupon codes. Swagsters… I nabbed this dumbell set for $6.49! I practically feel like I’m an extreme couponer. This is the next step in ridding myself of my gym membership and saving $25 a month. Next on my home gym wishlist is an equalizer, but we’ll give it a bit more time before I invest in that. 🙂

Speaking of saving money, however, I made my budget system last night! I figured out what I need each month, each week and even each shift at work, assuming I work 5 days a week. It includes bills, rent AND my contribution to the savings Markus and I decided we need to get a new apartment in a year. It is so beyond doable and I’m really excited to get started. Hooray! I feel really empowered now, and really in control of my situation. Such a good feeling. 🙂

Having all of that figured out was a major contribution to my finally being able to sleep last night. What a relief!

Last thing before I go: a new breakfast recipe!

Banana Bread Breakfast Protein Pudding

Recently I’ve been thinking about trying to omit tofu from my morning breakfast pudding. Now don’t go thinking I’m hopping on the “soy is bad” bandwagon because I am not. I personally think it’s a crock. I love soy-based proteins and I will not shy away from them. Ever. But for the sake of diversity in my diet, I’d like to change it up and free up tofu for other meals during my day. At the same time, I like a nice, thick, creamy breakfast pudding. This yummy breakfast just sort of… happened. I was officially out of silken tofu for the week and, to keep within my budget, I don’t plan on buying more. I did a quick run through of what I had available to me and this meal was born. And it is GOOD. The full recipe is on my ReciPage and so I’ll leave the link for you right … HERE.

Well that’s it for today, my friends. I hope you all have a great Friday! I’m off to work in a bit and planning to have a nice night in with my Kindle and the Olympics Opening Ceremony!

Are you reading a book right now that you just can’t put down?

Do you workout at home or a gym? 

Do you have any fun weekend plans? Are you going to watch the Olympics? 

pride for days

Hey hey! We’ve made it to Thursday!

Last night I worked and it was wayyyy busier than I thought it would be. But that meant more $$$ than I was expecting so that was a total bonus. After work, I went to Cuvee, a martini lounge around the corner from my work. It was my friend’s birthday, and I wanted to make sure I popped in to say hi. I sipped on water…

sober fun is still fun!

…a most welcome drink considering it was ridiculously muggy and humid last night, and socialized with my friends until about midnight, when Markus and I headed home.

I was exhausted!  I’m almost NEVER up that late. I think I might have actually fallen asleep before my head hit my pillow last night. Since it was such a late night, I allowed myself a lie-in this morning. I woke up close to 8:30 and decided to head straight to the coffee maker instead of to my workout room. In general, I prefer working out right when I wake up, but I knew I had time today, and it’s just another way of listening to the body when it says, “ummmm can we hold off for a couple hours, please?”

When I did make it to my workout, I was excited to get moving. Since yesterday was yoga day, that meant today was back to BodyRocking! I warmed up with this Lite workout, before hitting up this bad boy: Whistle Workout. This ended up being one of those workouts that made me want to vomit, cry, quit, runaway and never come back. But because I’m a Swagster, and we are such badmamajamas, I finished it and I felt like a champion!

right after bodyrocking… you can still see the fear of death in my eyes. 😉

sweaty shoulder blade stains after lying and panting and recovering

The rest of my day is a mixture of noms and cleaning. I’ve never been so excited to clean my apartment. All the fun visits from friends happening this weekend has me riding an anticipatory high!

After my workout and my first round of cleaning, I needed lunch!


I finished off the last of my refried beans with some guacamole over greens and sweet potato frites on the side. So yummy and satisfying! I’m so glad the heat wave finally broke! My body thrives on warm food and it felt good to put some in my belly!

Mid-week updates!

Let’s check-in with each other, swagsters! How are you doing this week? Have you been keeping a list of reasons you’re proud of yourself? I know it can be awkward at first if you aren’t used to it, but it’s such good practice! If you’re having trouble with this at all, allow me to share some of the things I’ve applauded myself for this week:

1. I make yummy recipes that people appreciate/want to try/have tried and love.
2. I laugh at myself for being klutzy instead of telling myself I suck.
3. I asked for what I wanted from my doctor instead of standing by while she made choices for me.
4. Even if I get off to a rough start at work, this week I’ve been able to turn my attitude around.
5. I went out with friends and stayed sober, proving to myself I am in control of my actions and I can have fun without drinking.
6. I listened to my body and adjusted my workouts appropriately.

Easy, peasy! It can be a big deal or a little deal, but all that matters is you take a moment to say, “Job well done, Self!”

Feel free to share with me in the comments any of your goals, even if it feels awkward. This is the judgement-free zone, Swagsters and if YOU’RE proud, I’M proud.

I’ve gotta wrap it up now, some more cleaning to do, laundry, my daily meditation, maybe a nap and then off to work for the night! See you tomorrow!

the heat wave

Happy hump day Swagsters!

Usually Wednesday being hump day doesn’t really do much for me. Working in the restaurant business kinda steals that away from you. But this week, I get a rare opportunity to enjoy this weekly phenomenon because after work on Friday, I’m officially on stay-cation until the following Tuesday! Yippee! I have lots of fun things planned starting with dinner at my all time favorite restaurant It’s Only Natural, in Middletown with two of my all time favorite people: Heather and Cait. Maybe you’ve heard me talk about them once or twice. 🙂 The next morning we’re going to a huge outdoor community yoga class in the middle of West Hartford Center. Saturday is also the day that my college best friend Holly comes to town! I can’t believe I haven’t seen her in nearly 3 years. Time flies, sometimes. Holly pretty much made my college experience amazing. We live very far apart now, she’s working on her PhD in Columbia, Missouri and is around my area attending a professional conference, so I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to see her. We have a lot of fun stuff planned as well, and I can’t wait to share it all with you! (Speaking of my college, Murray, KY was just named the Friendlies Town by USA Today Best of the Road 2012! Hooray Murray and MSU!)

Moving forward…

Let’s talk fitness. I feel like my workout routine is beginning to shift just a bit. It seems to have begun to do so pretty organically, on it’s own, and the past couple days I’ve been mulling over the ways in which I’d like to refine it. I’ve really been into doing BodyRockTV workouts lately. I love how intense they are, I’m always panting like a dog afterwards and even though they only last 12 minutes, I feel like I just worked for an hour. The problem I’ve encountered is that as much as I love to do high intensity almost every day, it’s a lot on the legs and after a couple days of HIIT, I need a break. But that’s the truth about HIIT workouts. They are called intense for a reason and your body needs adequate time to bounce back from that. So, for the sake of adding structure to my weeks, I’ve officially decided that for now, I’ll do two HIIT days followed by one yoga day. If I’m feeling it, I may throw in some upper body focus on yoga days. Rinse and repeat. I like the idea of this. It seems like a nice mixture of strength and flexibility!

So… it’s really hot. Again. I hate winter, I really do, but it’s hard not to wish summer away when I break a sweat making coffee in the morning. You’d think Mother Nature would be a little more considerate of those of us who don’t have the luxury of central air!

Because of this current heat wave, there is no part of me that wants anything to do with hot food. My lunch was hot yesterday, and it was sure tasty, but afterwards I knew that I had to keep it cool for the rest of the day. When it came time to think about dinner there was only one real option: salad. But I didn’t want just any average salad. I wanted something that was going to be interesting and memorable. Immediately I thought of that mango, coconut and pepper marinade sitting all cool and inviting in my fridge. But it’s kind of thick, so the bag of spring mix lettuces I had, I knew, wouldn’t stand up to it. What to do, then?

Enter: Jicama.

hello, lover.

I was impressed with my own genius on this one. Crunchy, light, and just a little sweet, jicama makes the perfect base for a summer salad.

I had planned to use the whole jicama, as it’s not very big, but as I got to slicing/shredding, I had a huge mound of salad after getting through just half of it. I also decided to shred some brussels sprouts into the mix. I almost never eat brussels sprouts any other way than crispy, roasted and lightly dipped smothered in ketchup, but I felt like going raw tonight was my only option. The last two components of my salad would be toasted coconut and tofu. Here’s what I ended up with:

the heat wave salad.

I call this baby The Heat Wave Salad, for more than one reason. First off, it’s PERFECT on a super hot day, when cooking seems like it could only lead to your own spontaneous combustion. Secondly, it’s SPICY thanks to the marinade.

This salad was so. good. It was so satisfying for being so light. I loved the raw, shredded brussels sprouts and definitely plan to eat them this way more often. The jicama was amazingly refreshing and the flavor profile of this marinade continues to blow my mind. Enjoy, swagsters!

The Heat Wave Salad
1 serving

1/4 block of extra firm tofu, pressed.
2 tbsp coconut flakes or shreds
1/2 medium jicama
4 brussels sprouts, stems removed
3 tbsp Cindy’s Kitchen Mango, Coconut and Pepper marinade

Cut your tofu into bite-size pizzas and place in a ziplock baggie with 1 tbsp of marinade. Set in the fridge to marinate while you prepare the rest of the salad.

Shave, shred or slice (to matchstick size) the jicama and set in your salad bowl. Cut the brussels sprouts in half, length-wise and then shred, working from the top of the sprout to the bottom. Place in your salad bowl and toss with jicama by hand. Pour the remaining 2 tbsp of marinade over jicama and sprouts, toss once more and set to the side. In a small skillet over med-high heat, place coconut shreds and toast until aromatic and browning. Careful not to burn! Once toasted, pour over your salad. Finally, remove tofu from the fridge, spray your skillet with non-stick spray and sautee your tofu. Careful, the hot pan may cause your sauce to spatter a bit. I took a few hits to the arm but nothing major. If you’d rather, use a new skillet that isn’t already hot as to avoid potential burns. Sautee tofu until it is crispy on all sides and pour over the top of your salad.

Eat, swoon, and look longingly forward to your next opportunity to munch on this baby.

Last thing for the day Swagsters… if you’re going along with me and listing 3 reasons you’re proud of yourself every night, keep going strong! I know it’s awkward at first, but it’s such great practice. It’s important to remind yourself you’re praiseworthy every day!

the good kind of hulksmash

Hey swagsters!

I hope you’re all having a case-of-the-Mondays-free Monday. I know I am! When I woke up this morning, it was the first time I’d felt “normal” and on top of my game since last Friday! I had such a fun weekend, but man did it require some recovery time! I finally slept really well last night. When I woke up this morning, I had these massive pillow marks all over my face. I joked on twitter this morning that it looked like I was the Phantom of the Opera when he takes his mask off!

I was feeling so good this morning, I decided to tackle ZWOW 23 again. And in case you didn’t know, that means I decided I was up for doing 100 burpees and 200 squats. That’s what I’m saying, y’all. I was feeling GOOD this morning. It’s one of those workouts that leaves me feeling so energetic, that when I was finished, I was approaching hulksmash energy levels. I was really looking forward to seeing if my time had improved from the first time I did this workout, however, I was so amped up afterwards that I literally didn’t remember to turn my stop watch off until I was half way through my breakfast. #jennyfail Regardless, I pushed myself so hard and every time I do this workout, I am filled with pride. I must be one strong mamma-jamma to be able to do 100 burpees!

I’m working in a couple of hours, so we’ll see if I decide a p.m. workout is necessary. Since I am a server and my job requires so much energy, I don’t usually do two workouts on days I work. However, if my energy continues to ride this high, I might as well capitalize on it!

I’m also really excited because the place I work for has begun a company-wide wellness challenge. It’s a really cool thing that is meant to inspire us all to live healthy, happier lives. You join teams and earn points by completing weekly goals that you set for yourselves, quizzes about health and mini challenges, like getting up and doing 10 lunges, or even just smiling for 30 seconds. It’s great because it focuses not only on fitness, but on overall wellness. There’s other perks like reductions on our insurance premiums next year (super exciting!) and there’s also cash prizes for the teams that earn the most points throughout the challenge. Markus (my boyfriend) and I ended up each joining separate teams. I was kinda bummed at first, but then I realized that this could actually make for a fun little competition between the two of us. So it’s game on in our house now!

Moving onto my favorite part of my posts: the foodporn. Today I am really feeling nice, light meals. After my weekend out, followed by Vegan Pizza Day (and leftovers the day after!),  I was really feeling lean, clean and green for lunch today. So when it was that time (and let me tell you, after 100 burpees, that time comes quickly…), I knew it had to be a salad. And then this baby was born:

Roasted Chickpea Salad

I roasted half a cup of chickpeas sprinkled in nutritional yeast until they were nice and crispy. Then I topped them on a simple salad of mixed greens, broccoli, carrots, cashews and a little bit of Amy’s Lite Goddess dressing. This salad is the perfect example of my food philosophy: keep it simple! It doesn’t have to take a long time in the kitchen to make something delicious and nutritious. In addition to that, I just don’t believe in long ingredients lists. Don’t get me wrong, I love spices, but I also love letting food taste like what it really is. After all, I want to be loved for who I am, why shouldn’t my broccoli get the same treatment? 😉

Not pictured is the half a sweet potato I also roasted and enjoyed. Am I the only person who eats their sweet potatoes a little on the odd side? I like to eat the meat of the potato separate from the skin. I just think they are two totally delicious culinary experiences and I want to enjoy them both!

That’s all I’ve got for now. There’s laundry calling my name and I’ll have to prep dinner to bring to work with me tonight, too!

Does your employer offer any incentives for improving your health and wellness?

Are you as obsessed with the flavor of sweet potato peels as I am?