My First Blue Apron Experience

Every now and again, we fall into the same old dinner routine. Because our time is so pressed during the week, I usually stick to something quick and easy. Rotations usually include salmon, chicken, spaghetti squash or zoodles with marinara and meat. Always served along a side of vegetables. I try to avoid eating out during the week. The 21 day sugar detox helped mix things up a bit and even added some new “go-to” items to our weekly menu.

When I first heard about Blue Apron, I was intrigued. I had read about it on a few other blogs and decided to give it a try when one of my favorite bloggers had a coupon code available. I loved the idea of having fresh ingredients delivered to my house ready to cook up for a delicious meal. A while back, I tried out Pairdd, a local company that had the same concept except all there meals were gluten-free. They’ve since gone out of business :-/

The box was delivered on Wednesday. My sister was actually at my house watching Madelyn while it was delivered and she sent me text asking if she should put it in the refrigerator. I told her no, I’d take care of it when I got home. Everything came pre-packed over dry ice and was still ice cold when I got to it.

I was sent two meals for a family of 4 for $49.94. If you break it down, it comes out to about $6.24 per meal. Not too bad. I’m glad we opted for the family of 4 instead of two because we had more than enough food left over to take for lunch the next day.

The first meal that I made was Coconut Fish Curry.

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It was delicious. Everything came portioned out, so there was no measuring. I just had to do some prep work and chopping and the recipe was very simple to follow.

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I like how the recipe cards are printed out on large pieces of card stock so they’re very sturdy for the kitchen. On one side, there’s a picture of the meal and what it should look like. On the other side, there’s step by step instructions along with pictures. I loved this! It made it easier to follow along and made me feel better that I was following the directions correctly.

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Overall, the meal took a little less than an hour to make with all the prep work involved and it being my first time. Not too bad for something that tasted so delicious. I was a little hesitant about making this meal because I’ve been kind of sick of fish lately (mostly salmon), but the coconut curry put a different spin on things.

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I would definitely use Blue Apron again. I do wish they had dietary restriction options (gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, etc) but the meals overall appear to be fresh and healthy. I like that everything came pre-packaged and no food went to waste. A lot of times I’ll buy something and only use a little bit of it before it goes bad. Blue Apron does seem to cost a bit more than say going to Trader Joe’s, but the ingredients are really fresh and it saves me from having to put any thought into what we’re making for dinner when weeks get really hectic.

Have you ever used any food delivery service like Blue Apron? What was your experience like? Another meal planning service I really liked was CookSmarts. This generated weekly meals for you based on dietary restrictions. It provides you with recipes and grocery lists-you just have to do the shopping!

2015 Goals Status Update

It’s already April. Four months into the new year. How did that happen? Since we’re about a quarter of the way into 2015, I thought I’d go back and look at the goals I set for the year.
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1. Focus on one thing at a time. I had lots of ideas floating around my head at the beginning of the year, but I knew before I got myself into anything, I needed to finish studying (and pass) a big test (2 parts) for work. I can proudly say that after 16 months of on and off studying, I have passed both tests and I am free to move on with my life. I can now read, catch up on Scandal and blog without feeling guilty about not studying. To say I’m thrilled is an understatement. And  All. The. Home. Projects.
2. Read one Book a Month. Has not happened yet (see above!). If anyone has any good book recommendations, please feel free to send them my way! The last good book I read was ‘Heart of The Matter’ by Emily Giffin. I hear she has a new book out!
3. Get more sleep. This has slightly improved. But needs to get better. I find that tracking my sleep on my activity tracker actually makes it a little bit more fun. I feel like I’m always in competition with myself to get more sleep than the night prior.
garminsleep4. Take a Photography class. I’m all signed up and ready for my 4 week camera course at a local camera store. I can’t wait!
 5. Set a new PR in my half marathon. Last year, I ran a lot. Between training for a few halfs and a full, I think I mentally and physically burnt myself out. This year I decided that I would just run when I wanted to-not when I had to, and to run for the pure joy of it. No goals for myself. Just get out there and run.
6. Stay passionate about cooking, nutrition and fitness. This has been about the same, which I guess was the goal :-) I signed up for my first Blue Apron order. I can’t wait to make my first meal and tell you guys about it.
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7. Successfully Complete The 21 Day Sugar Detox. Done! And I felt absolutely wonderful afterward! I think round 2 might be in the near future.
8. Complete one race or try out a new to me workout class each month. I’ve tried out two new classes so far this year so I’m two for two on this goal. I attended my first Pure Barre class and I tried out a new Crossfit gym while I was deployed.
9. Stay more organized (with my Erin Condren Planner!) in my day & spend more quality time with Madelyn. I was really good about tracking my food in my planner while on the 21DSD, but since then I’ve been lacking and keeping track more via myfitnesspal. I don’t really track calories in myfitnesspal but more of the nutrient requirements to make sure I’m getting enough protein, carbs, healthy fats, etc throughout the day. As for spend more time with Madelyn? Done. Have I mentioned how much I love the age of 2? Sure she has her moments and major meltdowns. But there’s nothing better than taking her to go see Disney Princesses at the Domes and having her say “Thank you mama for taking me.” She’s the sweetest, funniest, most loving little girl and every day she does/says something that amazes me. Her little brain is a sponge that doesn’t turn off (especially at nap time). Our days have been spent at the zoo, running around playgrounds and playing puzzles on the living room floor. We even talked about taking her to her first baseball game this summer since she’s currently obsessed with Miller Park. That game should be interesting!
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What goes have you accomplished so far this year? What are you hoping to achieve in 2015? I really want to finish up my collage wall for our living room. I have some pretty cool frames and art pieces and I’m trying to figure out how to tie them all together before I go and hammer nails into our walls!

Pure Barre Whitefish Bay

Hey guys! I’m finally back from Guam. It was nice to get away for about two weeks to soak up some sun, relax and work of course, but it feels good to be back with my munchkin! It’s amazing how much she has learned and changed in just the few weeks away.
Happy Toddler, Tired Mama

Happy Toddler, Tired Mama

 Jet lag the week I got home was a killer.  All I wanted to do was sleep but someone else had other plans for me:
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 Now that I’m back to work and into my routine, my energy level is as normal as it’s going to be for right now. One thing that I didn’t skip a beat on was working out. I was back at it the very next day. When I’m super tired, working out always makes me feel ten times better. It’s counterintuitive, but it helps so much.
Running and barre have always been my two favorite workouts to do. They go hand in hand with one another and I’m a strong believer that barre is the reason I remained completely injury-free during my last marathon training cycle. Since moving back to Milwaukee from Chicago, the Milwaukee area now has THREE barre studios. Barre is here to stay folks.
The latest studio to open is Pure Barre-Whitefish Bay. It’s located just north of the city near The Bayshore Town Center. I first heard of Pure Barre while I was taking barre classes in Chicago. I never got a chance to try it while I was there, so I was excited to be given the opportunity to try out a class at the Whitefish Bay studio.
The Space
 When you walk in, you almost feel like you’ve stepped into a place located in the North Woods. The retail space has a very woodsy, cozy feel. The actual studio itself is carpeted (Just like the Bar Method studio I used to attend), and off of the studio is a prop closet. It looks like the props stay the same for each class: two sets of weights (one heavy, one light), a ball and a band.
pbretailWhat to Expect in Class
The class began with a warm-up. For our warm up we did a series of leg lifts with alternating arm raises. We moved right into arm work using both sets of weights and our band. Next, was core followed by thighs, seat, abs with round back and flat back against the bar and wall, finally ended it with seat dancing and a cool down. The class is 55 minutes long and it moves along very quickly. There is a stretch session after each muscle group is worked. Along with the instructor leading the class, there were two other instructors taking class that we were instructed to watch in case we got lost in class. This particular class I took was a little bit lower energy than what I am used to, but it could be that the energy of the class varies by instructor. Although I left feeling like my muscles had been worked, I found the thigh section to be a bit shorter than what I was used to. Short, but yet still effective.
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Pros
-Class went by incredibly fast! There was a lot packed into those 55 minutes.
-Hands on corrections. I know some people don’t appreciate being corrected, but even the slightest move can make a world of difference in that muscle and prevent potential injury.
-Positive reinforcement. Just when I wasn’t sure if I was doing a sequence right, the instructor said, “Great job Maria!” So I kept with it. I once read somewhere that people really enjoy hearing their name. I think that’s why Bar Method is so adamant that the instructors learn the clients name so that they can use them in class.
-Lights out during back dancing and stretch. I felt like I was in a yoga class during stretch and I LOVED that! The instructor came along and gave us gentle pressure, getting us deeper into the stretch. It felt really great because my hamstrings are super tight.
-Controlled mic volume. The instructor had a device in her hands that allowed her to lower the sound of the music while she was setting up the move so hearing her was never a problem.
Cons
-It’s Expensive. A single class is $23. They do offer a 1 month new client special for $99 so that you can decide if it’s something you want to invest in for the long haul.
-Small changing area. I can see that being a problem for the after work crowd.
-The music. It wasn’t so much the genre as much as it was that you heard the same song repeatedly during a set. If a song ended in the middle of thigh, the instructor just repeated it instead of moving onto another song.
Overall, I think that Pure Barre is a great studio in a good location. It’s a little far from where I live and not at all on my way home from work, but parking didn’t seem to be a problem which is always a plus. It’s located in Whitefish Bay, so there’s plenty of residential parking and I believe they do have a parking lot in the back. It reminds me a lot of The Bar Method, which is where I found my love of barre workouts. It’s a little lower energy & gentler than what I’m used to and the only class they offer are barre classes. If you’re in the North Shore area, and looking to see what this barre craze is all about, I highly suggest checking it out!

At It Again

Hey guys! It’s been quiet around here lately, sorry about that. I’ve been busy with work stuff and I’m currently away on a little work trip. As much as I’ve been enjoying the lovely weather and just focusing on myself, I can’t wait to get back to my family and to whip up some delicious meals in my kitchen. DFAC food is wearing on me and I’m officially sick of eating out.

One advantage of going TDY is that I have all the time in the world to workout. I’ve been hitting up the gym a lot and trying to run outside as much as I can rather than on the treadmill, but the heat and the sun has made it tough. My body just isn’t used to it considering I wen’t from a climate of -10 degrees to over 80 degrees! I think my longest outdoor run here has been about 3 miles.

The other day the gym was closed for maintenance so I decided it would be an outside run day instead. When I got back from my run, someone told me about a Crossfit gym on base they went to that offered FREE classes! She told me that they start you off with 6 On Ramp classes to get your familiar with Crossfit and the proper techniques. My sister, a coworker and I all decided to give it a try today.

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This experience was much better than my last one. The instructor went over what Crossfit was, the pyramid-reminding us all how nutrition is key to everything we do, and then got into the 9 basic moves of Crossfit. For today’s workout, he had us doing three exercises AMRAP. He went over each move, explaining what proper form looks like and things not to do. He watched us do each of the exercises and corrected us as needed. We did the three movements (10 Air Squats, 15 sit-ups, 20 broad jumps) as many times as possible in 8 minutes. I was able to get through 4 rounds plus 3 sit ups. After that 8 minute workout, he went over cool down techniques and great hip stretches to do against the wall. It felt wonderful! One thing I’ve been lacking during my workouts is a good stretch session. My hips & glutes were super tight.

I would LOVE to be able to complete all six On Ramp classes here, because they’re free but I’m not sure that time will allow it. After today’s session, Crossfit is something I can definitely see myself getting into with the right gym and the right instructors. I feel that because you spend so much one on one time with the coaches, your personality definitely has to jive with theirs. I love the community that they have built and I think it’s awesome that they’re certified coaches doing it for free, simply just to help people.

Anyone try any new fitness classes lately? I think all my cardio work from The Barre Code helped me kill it today in those broad jumps!

Caramelized Sweet Onion Dip with Bacon

Tomorrow is the BIG GAME! And while I’m still sad that my beloved Green Bay Packers blew their chance to be a Superbowl team, I will still be tuning in to tomorrow’s game if not for the game, the commercials and half-time entertainment.

One thing I love about football Sundays is relaxing with my family and consuming yummy food. Although I enjoy eating wings, chips with guacamole, and all things delicious, I try to make a conscious effort to make sure that the food is somewhat “healthy”. To me that means as wholesome and void of any added “junk”.

I was THRILLED when the people at Chobani reached out to me and asked if I’d be interesting in creating a healthy game day recipe using Chobani as the main ingredient. I said, “Yes!” of course because not only do I love Chobani yogurt, I love using it as a substitute for cooking on a regular basis. My favorite thing to use it for is sour cream. Instead of using sour cream for tacos or chili, I substitute it with Chobani Greek yogurt. You can hardly taste the difference and it’s so much better for you.

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So for the big game tomorrow, I bring to you a Caramelized Onion Dip with Bacon. I used a sweet onion and added balsamic vinegar for an original taste. I’m a huge fan of onion dip with potato chips and well, who doesn’t love bacon?

Caramelized Sweet Onion Dip with Bacon 

Ingredients:
1 Sweet Onion Large-Chopped
2 tsp Ghee
1 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup chobani greek yogurt
1/4tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce
3 strips of cooked bacon chopped

Directions
1. Chop the onion
2. Heat ghee or butter on a skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until they turn translucent and start to brown. Roughly about 8 minutes. If at any point the cooked onions start to stick to the skillet, add a tsp of water to help loosen them up and continue to stir.
3. After 10 minutes, stir in the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, pepper, sea salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and worcestershire sauce.
4. Lower heat and and gently cook for another 15 minutes or until the onions are caramelized.
5. Remove the onions from the heat and let cool. In a separate bowl, mix together the Chobani greek yogurt, mayonnaise. Stir in the caramelized onions. Add in 3 strips of cooked bacon and stir all the way through. Serve with chips and enjoy!



IMG_3236What is your favorite game day appetizer?  I’m also a big fan of taco dip :-)

21 Day Sugar Detox Recap

Happy Monday friends! Where have I been you ask? It’s been a very eventful few weeks over here at our house, but mostly I’ve been busy whipping up some fantastic food in the kitchen! I love cooking and it’s nothing new to me, but making my own jerky, almond milk, ghee, and bone broth is totally uncharted territory. Those are staple items I usually buy, but since embarking on the 21 Day Sugar Detox (#21DSD), I’ve been getting a little bit more crafty in the kitchen. I never realized how much sugar they put in EVERYTHING! I could not find one single pasta sauce at Target that did not have added sugar. Cuh-razy!

So what is the 21DSD? It’s a program designed by nutritionist and New York Times best-selling author Diane Sanfilippo, BS, NC. It is, in her own words: “A clear-cut, effective, whole-foods-based nutrition action plan that will reset your body and your habits!” She starts the book off telling about her story and her relationship with sugar, then moves into why sugar is a problem (the refined, nutrient-poor carbs that cary calories but are totally void of nutrition) and how it effects a person’s body. I felt like I was reading an A&P book that actually made sense to me without having to really think about it. The program offers 3 different levels with modifications for athletes, pregnant/nursing moms, pescetarians, and people with autoimmune conditions. Based off of the results from the quiz that I took, I was best suited for level 3 with an energy modification. This meant no grains whatsoever and no dairy.

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What in the Why?!? Why would I ever think to do a sugar detox? Overall, I’m a fairly healthy eater. I try to eat as clean and whole-foods-based as possible and feed my family the same way. I ventured into the world of Paleo eating at the beginning of the summer and it worked out great for me. My skin cleared up without the help of topical solution, I had more energy, I leaned out, and I felt better overall. I kept it up pretty well, until I started logging very long marathon training miles and I thought I needed to “carb load” to keep me going. Initially, it started out only eating grains the night before long runs. I ran my marathon in October, celebrated with a deep dish pizza and beer, and since then I’ve gained back about 5 to 7 solid pounds. My mind knew that I couldn’t keep eating as much as I did while I was training, but my appetite was still in marathon mode. Then the holidays came around and I was consuming cocktails and cookies like nobody’s business.

cookies!HASHTAG, EatAllTheSugar.

The Prep. The key to a successful detox. After reading the guide and looking at the yes/no foods list, I got busy ridding our kitchen of any of the “NO” foods on the list.

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I kept Madelyn’s snacks but threw out anything that we weren’t supposed to eat. I ended up tossing a lot but it felt great to purge all the food that needed to go. I looked through the 21DSD guide and the cookbook and got busy planning meals for the week. For the first and second week I planned out every single meal. Normally, I plan out what we’re going to eat for dinner each week and that’s it. It’s normally fend for yourself for breakfast & lunch, but I knew that if I was going to keep this up and be successful I had to prep some other breakfast items besides just hardboiled eggs.

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On the first Saturday before starting the detox, I cooked up a storm and prepped all breakfast items for the week. The egg muffins are so easy to make a freeze. Pop them into the microwave when you’re ready to eat. I made broth, beef jerky, almond milk, and buffalo chicken egg muffins.

21dsdprepI went through the cookbook and picked out the easiest/quickest meals to make for the week and saved the more time consuming recipes for the weekend. Who knew my oven could even make dinner on Friday nights? I also purchased some beef jerky from Steve’s Paleo Goods and can’t wait to buy some more paleo treats from them. The jerky was delicious and part of the proceeds go toward a wonderful cause. You can read about it here. I love supporting businesses with this kind of mission.

Another thing I did was purchase in bulk. In our first week, we went through so many nuts! The second week we went to Costco and purchased them in bulk and they have lasted us past the detox. So definitely get to a Sam’s or Costco and stock up! It will save you a lot of money and random trips to the grocery store.

I always had a snack with me at work so that when temptation hit, especially the first week coming back from the holidays, I was able to stick with the plan.

The Food. The food was nothing short of amazing. There was ONE recipe that sticks out in my mind that I wasn’t a huge fan of, but I think it may have been user error. I purchased The 21 Day Sugar Detox Guide along with cookbook. The cookbook wasn’t necessary to complete the program but I’m glad I purchased it because it came with recipes like this:

IMG_3213SUNBUTTER BROWNIES for the WIN! 

I only made two desserts in the whole 21 days and both were delicious. I’m looking forward to trying more, especially the macaroons. If you want to see more foodie pics, you can head over to my Instagram feed, I took a lot of them.

Eating Out. I ate out three times in the past three weeks. All three times have been for dinner and I planned out what I was going to eat ahead of time. The first Friday, my in-laws came in from out of town and wanted to go to a German restaurant called, Cafe Bavaria. I asked for the gluten-free menu and ordered from there. I had a bunless burger with all the toppings and asked for a side of sautéed asparagus instead of the salad. Luckily, hubs had to work that night, so he couldn’t have a beer even if he wanted one. The second time we ate out was the following Friday. I ordered my standard chicken salad with all the guac, no rice and no beans.

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My final meal out was our girls night dinner on Saturday. Just 1 day left before the detox ended, and I wanted a cocktail very badly with my friends. I ended up drinking club soda with muddled mint which was actually very refreshing and ordering a scallops entree and asking for a garlic butter sauce instead of the wine sauce that they originally had come with. I found that at all the restaurants, the waitstaff were very accommodating and really friendly about any questions or requests I had. Don’t be scared to eat out on the detox! Just look at the menu, plan ahead and stick to it. If you’re going to a place that has a bread basket, think of how you’re going to avoid it or better yet, just ask whoever you’re with if it’s okay that they don’t bring it. My in-laws ordered a giant pretzel when we were out and neither of us were even tempted to have any.

The Support. Everyday, I received an e-mail from Diane Sanfilippo with advice, motivation and a recipe to make if you weren’t following the book plan to a T. The 21DSD also offers online support for an additional purchase. I may look into next time around. There is also a Facebook group that goes along with every detox group. I was in the January 2015 group and the people in there were awesome. Anytime I had a question about something, I resorted to the group if I couldn’t find the answer in the book and someone there had it. I was one of the lucky ones who also had her husband along for the ride. I felt bad for so many women who had such unsupportive spouses and families. My mom and my sister also participated and we motivated each other along the way. They were ultra supportive when times got stressful and all I wanted to do was sit on my couch with a  glass of wine and my feet up. Madelyn ended up having to do an impromptu overnight stay at Children’s hospital and my lovely sister brought me all sorts of 21DSD snacks and meals I could eat while I was there. She’s pretty amazing.

Would I do it again?  ABSOLUTELY! And I would recommend it to anyone looking to eat better and feel better overall. Diane goes through a list of short term and long term side effects of sugar in her book and it’s astounding (memory loss, fatigue, mood swings, PCOS, infertility!). Today was 1 day post detox and I ate pretty much like I would have if I were still doing the detox. I did have a handful of animal crackers while I was giving Madelyn her snack today. Not a ton of sugar in the serving, but my stomach hated me afterward anyway. I’m guessing it was the gluten. I had some ginger tea and I felt a little better. Definitely not worth it, especially for animal crackers.

The detox is NOT A WEIGHT-LOSS plan!! It’s clearly meant to reset your body, habits and taste-buds. With that being said, I was hoping that I’d lose some weight along with inches, especially with how much I work out. I lost 8lbs and an inch and a half off my waist. Hubs lost 7 pounds. But overall, I feel great. For the first time in forever, I haven’t had to snooze my alarm clock which is huge for me! I used to be that girl that would have to set her alarm early just so I could get out of bed on time. I still set it for the same time, now I just have more time to get myself together in the morning instead of feeling rushed. I’ve decided to get back to a more paleo way of eating with the exception of my few glasses of wine per week. I feel great eating real food and it’s the first eating plan where I lost weight naturally. I love it and I feel great! I high recommend doing the 21DSD, it will change your body and the way you think about food.

Goals for 2015

Happy Monday guys! I’m finally settled in from our NYC trip and have some time to sit down and write a blog post.

We had a blast in NYC and I can’t wait to tell you all about it, including the details of how we spent our NYE :-) But first, I’d like to chat about my goals for 2015.

doit2015

I’m about goals vs. resolutions in the new year. Each year (really DAY) is another chance to get it right and do what you’ve been wanting to do. So here are a few goals I have for 2015:

1. Focus on one thing at a time. Last year, I got in over my head with some things and ended up not doing what I wanted to do. I learned that instead of working on a bunch of things all at once, it’s okay to say no to something while working on something else. You can have it all, just maybe not all at once. I feel like as women, moms especially, we’re made to multi-task but sometimes we can get in over our heads. This year, I have a list, and I’m crossing things off as I go.

2. Read one book a month. I love to read and I’ve acquired some really great books over the past year that I have yet to read. I hate using the excuse that I don’t have the time to read because that’s not true. The hour before I go to bed has now been reserved for reading books as opposed to catching up on social media–which keeps me up way later than my bed time…which brings me to my next goal.

bookclub

3. Get more SLEEP!!! I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never get 8 hours of sleep during the week. In order for that to happen, I would have to be in bed at 8:30pm. My new goal is to be in bed no later than 9:30 on “school” nights.

4. Take a photography class. I set this up as a goal last year, but never succeeded. I really want to learn to use my camera properly and all the lenses that came with it.

5. Set a new PR in my half marathon. Last year, I ran a 2:03 half, making it my fastest one yet. Maybe a sub 2 this year? We shall see! I can confidently say that I don’t believe that I have another marathon in me again this year. Chicago 2014 burnt me out. I want to focus on getting faster, learning to fuel with REAL FOOD, and enjoying every mile because I like to run.

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6. Stay passionate about cooking, nutrition and fitness. I’ve been wanting to make my own almond milk and bone broth for a very long time but was never motivated to do so, until I decided to do the 21 Day Sugar Detox. I can confidently say, I will always make my own almond milk from here on out. Amazingly delicious. 21dsdprep

7.Successfully complete the 21 Day Sugar Detox. 21 days of whole, unprocessed foods. No dairy. No gluten. No wine. Wish me luck, day 1 starts today!

8. Complete 1 race or try out a new to me workout class each month. I love trying out new things, so this gives me the opportunity to seek out new races and classes in my local area.

9. Take a cooking class with hubs. This has been on my list for YEARS now. YEARS!! Time to cross it off.

10. Stay more organized (with my Erin Condren Planner!) in my day & spend more quality time with Madelyn. I can’t believe she’s almost 2 1/2. Time goes by so fast it’s not even funny. It almost makes me want to cry.

ecplanner2015

What goals do you for 2015? I have lots of little house projects I’d like to complete (a photo wall in our living room and finish decorating our office/guest room just to name a few).