Weekend: Piano Bar, Brunching & Running

What more does one need?

I guess an extra day in the weekend to recover from all the fun, but don’t we all wish that…

Matt and I started out the weekend by heading on an impromptu trip to Milwaukee on Friday night. First stop: Transfer Pizza for dinner. We’ve eaten there twice and both times loooved their pizza. My favorite so far is the “Katalina Pizza” — it has a garlic cream sauce, cheese, artichokes and salami. Definitely not a healthy option, but oh-so-delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I didn’t even take the time to snap a pic before devouring it…

After chowing down, we met up with my friend and then cabbed it to Lucille’s Piano Bar in downtown Milwaukee. This is our favorite place to go when we’re in Milwaukee. Dueling pianos are theeee best! If you have never been to a dueling piano bar, basically two people are playing at pianos/singing across from each other. The audience can take up their song requests (with some money to speed along their place in the queue). It’s popular for birthday parties, bachelorette parties, etc. because you can make the guest of honor sit up on stage while the piano players sing and play them a special song. You can imagine how this can be interesting (and hilarious) for the bachelor/bachelorette parties! Ha

Funny moment, off the bat, was when someone paid them $5 to play “Oh, Canada”—then someone brought up $10 to make them stop and play the US National Anthem instead. And because this is Milwaukee, you bet everyone stood up, put their hand over their hearts (with beer in their left hand) and sang along. Haha!

Singing the National Anthem at Lucille's Piano Bar

Singing the National Anthem at Lucille’s Piano Bar

We were out late, so Saturday morning had an equally late and slow start. Nursing some slight headaches, we headed out to brunch at a new (to us) place: Café Centraal.

Brunch in Milwaukee at Cafe Centraal

Uhhh, amazing brunch! I mauled the Chile Rojo Corn Cakes: Cornmeal pancakes topped with fried eggs, chorizo, white cheddar cheese, chile rojo, salsa verde, housemade pico de gallo, and chipotle sour cream.

Brunch in Milwaukee at Cafe Centraal

Sooo tasty. Kelsey got a yummy omelette, but Matt’s French Toast stole the show and we helped him eat it: Fresh berries on top of cinnamon coated challah French toast, layered with creamy mascarpone cheese and topped with basil.

Brunch in Milwaukee at Cafe Centraal

Last vestiges of the best french toast ever…

OMG, best french toast any of us had ever had. Go. Try it.

After brunch, Matt and I headed home for some errands and grocery shopping. We made dinner (Matt’s specialty, beef stroganoff) and then watched American Hustle. WOW, what a funny and great movie! I know it’s gotten all sorts of acclamations but it really is all it’s cracked up to be.

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And I love J Law. And Bradley Cooper…

Ended the night reading some of my latest book, A Thousand Splendid Suns.

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Had to force myself to put it away to go to sleep!

Snoozed away until this morning, then I spent a little over 3 hours (!!) getting in my long run for the week. Rest of the day’s forecast: Eat, take a nap, and relax! I’ll just leave all that house cleaning for, uh, tomorrow I guess… Why can’t the weekend have three days in it?

– – –

What was the highlight of your weekend?
Favorite book/movie of the moment?

Return to Normalcy (and a gigantic cookie)

It’s been nice to get back to normal this week. No longer feeling under the weather, I’ve been able to get my butt up when my earlyyy (5:45) alarm goes off and do Pilates in the mornings. I hate the early wake-up call, but it’s nice to have some “me” time before trotting off to work to cater to the rest of the world all day. Just sort of helps center myself before jumping into the day-to-day doldrums.

I’ve also enjoyed a few runs outside this week, which makes me happy! It’s finally gotten up to 40 degrees a few afternoons. Hotttt. Ha. Tuesday night, a group of about 8 ladies got together and I ran a solid 4 miles at a decent pace. It felt good, and easy! Crazy how these days a four-miler is my “easy” run.

I had a rather boring 2 mile run (was supposed to be 4 miles) on the treadmill yesterday. Slacker, but I got my 7 mile run done tonight so I’ll give myself a big pat on the back for that.

And this huge ass cookie.

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Because clearly my diet is back on track, errrr…

Happy almost Friday, friends!

The D-Word: Weigh-In #2

Two weeks down & good news to share!

021114-weigh-in

Week 2 Weigh-In:
Starting weight: 163 lbs.
Last week’s weight: 161.4 lbs.
This week’s weight: 158.4  (-3 lbs.)

Holy moly, three pounds! I was pretty surprised when I saw that number. I did well on my diet & exercise most of last week, and didn’t cheat as much over the weekend, so I figured I’d lose 1.5 pounds as planned…but I was stoked to see 3!

I’m sure that won’t happen every week (and it probably wouldn’t be too healthy if it did) so I’ll take it for now. 😉

I added in more strength work this work, so I wonder if the extra muscle building is upping my metabolism? I guess I better keep it up!

Obstacles this past week:
• Being car-less made getting to the gym tricky, but instead of skipping a workout, I made my at-home circuit workout to do one night instead.
• My sweet tooth. I didn’t really indulge, minus a cupcake on Saturday night, but my sweet tooth is starting to nudge at me for chocolate. I’m going to try to find a “healthy” version of a dessert or snack so I can satisfy it this week. Any ideas?? Maybe these?
• Fatigue. I’ve been more tired this past week, because I’ve gotten into a habit of going to bed later over the last couple weeks. It’s starting to catch up with me! I need to be better at making sure I get enough shut-eye.

Achievements of the week:
• I tempered my inner-wino! 😉 Only had a few glasses of wine over the weekend, and none during the week. The easiest way to cut back on empty calories is to cut back on the booze.
• I stayed positive and ran a relatively enjoyable 10-mile run on Saturday.
• I went out for sushi one night, but chose healthier options: Edamame pods as an appetizer, over our usual fried dumplings; and tuna & salmon nigri sushi instead of spicy/tempura/other less-than-healthy rolls.

dreamy sushi

dreamy sushi

Some other yummy eats from the week:

minestrone + added spinach

Minestrone + added spinach. Easy to make, tasty & easy to transport to work for a couple lunches.
turkey wrap with veggies

Turkey wrap on low-cal, high fiber wrap with lots of veggies and hummus. Yum!

blueberry, goat cheese and sunflower seeds saladThe best salad combo ever! Romaine, blueberries, goat cheese crumbles and sunflower seeds. Topped with balsamic vinaigrette.

sloppy joe and almonds“Skinny” sloppy joe, and sour cream & onion almonds from NatureBox. Mmm! I am working through this sloppy joe recipe to share with you all in the next couple of weeks, hopefully.

– – –

Any suggestions on “healthy” sweet treats? 
What are your favorite transportable meals to take to work?

The D-Word: Weigh-In #1

weekly weight in, week 1

Okay, one week down since I started my d-word last week….

Week 1 Weigh-In:
Starting weight: 163 lbs.
Last week’s weight: 163 lbs.
This week’s weight: 161.4 lbs. (-1.6 lbs.)

Yay! My number on the scale is movin’ down, right on track.

– – –

I did a lot of things to set myself up for success this past week.

First of all, I knew my workout game plan for the week. Every day, I knew whether I was going to the gym or not—no hemming and hawing. I could also plan those burned calories in my daily caloric intake, which I tracked with the Livestrong MyPlate app. It was easy to eat enough to ensure I was being healthy and would have energy to run, but also cutting enough to lose weight.

Secondly, on Sunday, I did some meal planning & prep for the week’s lunches and dinners. This included my Healthy & Hearty Turkey Chili, which I cooked and then ate for lunch or dinner several days. I also wanted to have a couple salads, so I bought all the fixings & chopped them up so they’d be at arm’s reach.

Thirdly, I packed my breakfast and lunch most days for work. When I got hungry, I had healthy snacks to grab. Come lunch time, when I slowed down enough to realize how hungry I was, I had something healthy to heat up quick. No running out to grab something to-go that’s less-than-good for me.

And here’s a random sampling of eats from the week!

Breakfasts:
Whole wheat toast with Justin's maple almond butter
• A piece of whole-wheat toast with Justin’s maple almond butter. Omg, forgot how delicious the maple almond butter is! I need to get more.
• Kind brand oats & honey chewy bar + a sliced apple to munch on later in the AM.
healthy breakfast: whole wheat toast and a fried egg
• A few extra minutes one morning: An over-medium fried egg on a piece of whole-wheat toast.

Lunches:
turkey chili and crackers
• Most days, I brought in my turkey chili + a serving of Wheat Thins crackers.
• After several chili meals, I changed it up but kept it quick & easy with a Kashi frozen meal from my freezer.
• One day, I went to lunch with some co-workers to Qdoba, where I got a Naked Taco Salad (lettuce, beans, corn salsa & pico de gallo) with grilled chicken. So tasty, and actually pretty good for you (just leave off the sour cream & cheese).

Snacks:
• Fruit—sliced apple, banana, mandarin oranges.
kind nut bar
• Kind brand nut bars. I love that these are non-GMO, made of ‘real’ stuff you can see, and tasty to boot!
• Dried fruit (peaches & pineapple) from NatureBox

Dinners:
salad and cottage cheese
• Salad with veggies, hard boiled egg & ham + 2% cottage cheese
• Turkey chili + 2% cottage cheese
• Mostaccioli with homemade meat sauce (a small portion, Friday’s pre-long run dinner)

Indulgences:
I don’t want to deprive myself of all indulgences, so I tried to balance them when I could. If I had an especially long workout (like Thursday’s 5-miler) and burned a lot of calories, I let myself have a treat as long as it still fit into my daily intake.That said, I totally splurged too much over the weekend!

• Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies. These sat on my counter for four days before I ate any! I had three of them on Friday night since I knew I was running so many miles Saturday morning. 😉
• Buffalo Chicken Pizza – definitely not healthy, but it was a yummy Saturday lunch after my 9-mile torture run, so I didn’t care. Balance!
• Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake, made by my friend Liz, for dessert Saturday night. Ridiculously indulgent and made my taste buds sing.
• A Hoegaarden beer (Friday night happy hour) + glass of wine; two cocktails Saturday night; a couple glasses of wine during SuperBowl Sunday

Overall, week one wasn’t so bad. When you plan ahead, it makes it much easier to eat healthy and stay on track. I think my biggest challenge is the weekends. I want to have some drinks, or go out to eat, and it’s tough to do any of that while being on a diet. I know I can afford some less healthier choices sometimes, so if I can keep that to only a handful of times on the weekend (not every meal…), I think it will all balance out just fine!

Healthy & Hearty Turkey Chili

Let’s sum up this day in two words: Chilly. Chili.

The polar vortex is back, but this time I’m arming myself with a warm, hearty chili!

Healthy and Hearty Turkey Chili

This lightened-up turkey chili recipe is super easy and quick to make, and will only cost you 200 calories per cup—yes, really! It’s delicious, and of course, good for you, too: With the mix of lean protein from the ground turkey, and fiber from all the beans and veggies, you’re stomach won’t be growling for hours. It’s the perfect bowl of comfort food on a cold night—whether you’re watching what you eat or not.

Healthy & Hearty Turkey Chili
Makes 10 cups
Per cup: 200 calories / 25g carbs / 4g fat / 16g protein

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 15oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 15oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 4oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 1 15oz. can chili beans
  • 1 15oz. can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 packet chili seasoning (we use McCormick Original Chili)
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika (optional)
  • ½ tsp. oregano (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a soup pot over medium heat, sauté onion, bell pepper, garlic and celery for 5 minutes.
  2. Add ground turkey; cook until crumbled and no longer pink.
  3. Stir in diced and crushed tomatoes, mushrooms, chili beans, and kidney beans. Bring to a boil.
  4. Stir in packet to chili seasoning. For a little extra heat and flavor, add in cayenne pepper, smoked paprika and oregano.
  5. Reduce chili to a simmer, leaving the lid off to boil away excess liquid.
  6. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes to meld flavors.
  7. Serve & enjoy!

healthy recipes - turkey chili - low calorie, low fat, high protein

Psst… Don’t let the toppings get the best of you:

healthy chili toppings: plain greek yogurt, low fat shredded cheese, green onion

Switch out the usual suspects with some healthier options, like a dollop of plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream (you won’t notice the difference), low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, hot sauce, or chopped green onion for some extra flavor.

– – –

What are your go-to comfort foods? 
What other kinds of healthy recipes would you like to see?

Cupcakes and Cosmos and Mexi – Oh my!

Let’s take a look at some food porn, aka, what I ate last week.

A post that will start out deceptively healthy…and then you see that, eh, perhaps not so much.

I started out the week well enough.

healthy banana oatmeal muffin

I made these banana oatmeal muffins on Sunday night, to eat for breakfast in the mornings. With bananas, oatmeal, and applesauce in place of oil, these little babies were guilt-free and tasty.

I also chowed down on coconut vanilla greek yogurt, which I’m obsessed with. It’s so freakin’ good.

coconut vanilla yogurt

I topped it with French vanilla granola and praline pumpkin seeds (from my NatureBox haul—the best snacks!).

I did takeout for lunch one day at work: Vietnamese food for the win.

shrimp bun

This Shrimp Bun (pronounced “boon”) is the best. I want to try to make this at home—rice noodles, cucumbers, tomatoes, romaine and tasty shrimp topped with a little sweet & sour sauce.

Okay, let’s get to the bad [good?] stuff.

Birthday dinner #2 last Tuesday at one of my favorite restaurants. Matt and I started with some duck wontons.

duck wontons

Delish! And yeah, a Cosmo on the side. Heh.

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For my main dish, I had chicken breasts [healthy!] wrapped in bacon […not healthy?], topped with pepper cheese and a deep fried jalapeno. I could totally recreate this dish at home, and I plan to!

Of course, no birthday dinner would be complete without…

chocolate raspberry cupcake

A birthday cupcake! Homemade by my friend Liz: Chocolate cupcakes with raspberry buttercream. Heavenly.

You can’t follow up a birthday dinner like that… Except with maybe a fiesta the next day!

Matt and I made homemade “lightened up” enchiladas (so, kinda healthy?) from the HowSweetEats blog.

homemade enchilada sauce

I was nervous about making a homemade sauce, but it was pretty easy.

We scarfed down taco dip while we waited for the main dish to cook.

taco dip

So very un-healthy but so very yum.

By the way, photographing enchiladas in a pretty way = impossible.

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And that is why I’ve lost no weight this past week.

But hey, for my first week as a 27-year-old, I think I’m livin’ the good [eats] life!

What good eats have you enjoyed lately? 
Any healthy recipes you recommend or can’t wait to try? 

Two Weeks of a Lovely Life, in Pictures

Hiya, friends. It’s been a busy couple of weeks!

C2 Graphics web training course

C2 Graphics web training course

I finished my web design training up in Milwaukee at C2 Graphics. Love that place, their instructors, and the learnings I walked away with.

Followed up training one night by meeting my good friend (and bridesmaid!) in the Third Ward for dinner and drinks at the Milwaukee Ale House. I drank the Sheepshead Stout beer, “a robust Irish style oatmeal stout with distinct roast chocolate notes and a creamy smooth finish.”

Milwaukee Ale House | Sheepshead Stout

Milwaukee Ale House | Sheepshead Stout

It was oh-so-good!

I also got to see the new Anchorman 2 movie a day early, thanks to the lovely Jockey undies that were featured in the film.

Anchorman Briefs from Jockey

Anchorman Briefs from Jockey

You can buy these online, and I think it would make a great gag gift for the fun dudes on your list. I bought this pair for our one buddy who loves Anchorman. He might also like to remove his pants and play guitar when he’s had one too many drinks. Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

Was Anchorman 2 as good as the first? You’re probably wondering. I have to say, for being a sequel, it was pretty swell. It had as much randomness and funny one-liners as the first movie. (“It’s chicken of the cave!” And let’s not forget, Doby.) I think the first movie is so funny because all those quotable one-liners that we all picked up afterwards. This has that same potential. But, in the beginning of the movie, I did feel like it was trying too hard, but maybe I was scrutinizing it too much.

Moving along…

I’ve been chowing down on [too many] Christmas cookies.

Snickerdoodles Christmas cookies

Snickerdoodles

Like these snickerdoodles I made for work. I got lots of compliments on how delicious they were. Matt stole and ate a bunch before I even got them to work. Psst…They’re made out of the bag from Betty Crocker. 😉

Peanut Butter Blossoms with mini hershey kisses

Peanut Butter Blossoms

And finally, these peanut butter blossoms that I made last night. Matt had made dinner…

Matt's Homemade Lasagna

Matt’s Homemade Lasagna

(My FAVE!)

So I had to make dessert (his fave).

I’ve been very healthy lately, you can see.

Here’s more proof:

Cosmopolitan, please.

Cosmopolitan, please.

Kicking off a 9-day vaca (!!!) Friday night with a Cosmo martini at our nearby martini + tapas bar.

People must know we like wine and booze, because we were showered with these housewarming gifts at our Housewarming Holiday Party last weekend:

Housewarming Booze

Housewarming Booze

YUM, Rumchata. Thanks, everyone!

We were so glad to have many friends over for our party, to celebrate our new home with us and get in the Christmas spirit. We had tons of yummy food; there were two tables filled with it, and I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture—but then, I didn’t really have time to even think of that for the first few hours! We also had the drinks flowin’, the Christmas music playing and the lights shining…

Heart our Christmas tree

Heart our Christmas tree 🙂

And I think everyone had a blast. We sure did. Thanks for celebrating with us!

With all that in mind, I haven’t been working out much, but I did bite the bullet and hit a treadmill yesterday, since we got hit with freezing rain & ice Friday night.

Running on the dreadmill, I mean, treadmill...

Running on the dreadmill, I mean, treadmill…

It’s kinda blurry, but I was trying not to look like a huge tool at my new gym for taking a pic of my machine.

I always run way harder on the treadmill, so I can get done faster, so I’m sore today…but it feels good. Glad to be back at it. More posts on the running & workout stuff to come soon!

– – –

Happy holidays everyone! What are you doing to celebrate?

How are you fitting in your workouts over this hectic holiday season—or are you not, and just eating cookies like me?