Quick and Easy Chicken & Veggie Pasta Bake (gluten free!)

A few weeks ago, my sister and I ended up both being home at the same time on a Sunday night. We had been texting earlier in the day with regards to what we should make for dinner. She had picked up some new-to-her pasta at Target, so I suggested that we use that and the veggies I had leftover in the fridge to make a pasta bake. She was bummed that she bought a gluten free pasta on accident, but we both agreed that you couldn’t tell the difference whatsoever!

The beauty about pasta bakes- similar to stuffed peppers– is that you really can’t go wrong. You use what you have in the fridge for veggies and go from there. If you don’t have meat, no biggie- make it a vegetarian dish! I happened to have half a pound of ground chicken in the freezer so I was able to defrost that and it was perfect.

gluten free chicken and veggie pasta bake

Ingredients

  • 1 package of gluten free pasta (regular, if you didn’t accidently by gluten free like my sister did 😉 )
  • veggies of your choice- we used onion, red pepper, zucchini and summer squash- probably 1/2 cup of each
  • Ground meat- we used 1/2 lb. of ground chicken, but you could use turkey or beef or none if you wanted to have a vegetarian dish
  • 1/2 jar of marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup of cheese (mozzarella was our choice)

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 350*. Cook pasta according to the back of the package.

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2. While the water is heating and the pasta cooking, cut up and sauté your veggies. When the veggies are soft, remove from the pan and add in the ground meat. Sauté until completely browned.

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3. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to a big bowl. Add in the veggies, meat and sauce and mix so that everything is coated with sauce. Pour in a 8X8 or 9X9 casserole dish and bake at 350* for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has a golden brown appearance.

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We broiled ours a little and this was the end result:

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This meal hit the spot on a cool Sunday evening. It was also a dish that- surprisingly- reheated really well! I’m not a huge pasta person, but every once and a while I crave and enjoy a nice pasta dish.

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Questions for you: Do you ever make pasta bakes? What are the ingredients you like to add? Have you ever had gluten free pasta?

 

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Wednesday Workout: Run the Bases

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I taught my own outdoor bootcamp in Wakefield for a few months over the summer/early fall. What I loved about the bootcamp was it gave me the ability to a. workout outside and b. get creative with the workouts and formats since I didn’t have any weights or traditional gym equipment to use. Before my first class, I asked you guys on Facebook for outdoor bootcamp suggestions. Athena and Cara had some great suggestions and this workout was inspired by Athena’s Baseball Diamond Bootcamp Workout that she posted a while ago. The funniest thing is that I didn’t look at the workout before I made mine, yet I somehow picked the 1st 2 traveling exercises that are identical to hers… oops! We are apparently more similar than we thought!

The idea behind my workout, which is a different from the format Athena uses, is you do the designated exercises at each base before moving on to the next base. We all started at different bases (2 to a base- could be more if you have more people doing this) and went around until we all completed the exercises at each base. Before we repeated the workout, I had them do 25 burpees 😉

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I tried to incorporate strength, cardio and core at each base, with the easier exercises at 25 reps and the harder ones at 10. For every exercises where you do things on the right and left (lunges, skaters, dead lifts, etc.), perform the number of designated reps on each leg. Also, for the second round we did 12 reps of each exercise rather than 10 and 25- so yes, this made the 25 reps seem much easier but the 10 rep exercises much harder!

Although we all got super dirty, we agreed that this workout was really fun! I hope you try it…and Athena- thank you for the inspiration!

Questions for you: What’s your favorite way to workout outside? Have you ever done a baseball diamond workout?

Weekending: Party, Party, Party!

Hi there! I know I say this often, but last weekend was SO MUCH FUN! Starting with a gym friends party on Friday night, continuing on to my party and then a Sunday full of errands, laughs and “Sunday Dinner” with RM, it was pretty awesome.

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy our “gym friend” get togethers. I’ve got a lot of friends from various groups, but my gym friends are a group of girls that get my intense workout mindset, love of trying out new classes, and can relate to my crazy schedule. After the week I had last week, the combination of those things, as well as some amazinggggg (healthy!) food and drinks helped relax me from the week and get me excited for the weekend. The cause for this gym friends party was to celebrate Jen’s birthday. Jen is a huge inspiration for working out and eating healthy- she has lost so much weight over the past couple of months and looks truly fantastic. She has been doing two-a-days and eating healthy and you know what? It’s paid off BIG TIME. I’m so proud of her!

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I made these and they were a big hit!
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I finally slept well on Friday night- I can’t tell you how happy that made me! Kickboxing was a blast- the crowds are back and I loved that I will be there for the next 2 weekends. Burning 531 calories in under an hour is a great way to start the day 🙂

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After my class, I went home and got into full party prep mode. Thankfully my sister was around to help! I made a crockpot chili, we made Stromboli’s and buffalo chicken dip and we had a bunch of veggies, crackers, hummus and some cookies. Oh… and a lot of wine 😉 We were SO LUCKY that the weather was warm and sunny because there certainly wouldn’t have been enough room in my apartment if we were all stuck in there! I loved that it was kind of a random group of people who came… well, random in that there were friends from multiple different groups: gym, college, home, RM’s family… the best part was everyone was having a great time mingling with each other, which makes “hosting” easier 😉 Big thanks to everyone who came- and thanks for the wine, too!

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Sunday was a busy day for RM and me. We woke up and had some healthy pumpkin protein “pancakes” before hitting the road to check out a health food store in Quincy. Good Health was amazing! If you’re in the hunt for a fully stocked healthy food store, you should definitely head to Quincy- they had everything!

From there, we did food shopping at Whole Foods, car shopping and then had Sunday dinner at his brother and sister-in-law’s. It was fun re-hashing the party with them 🙂

I finally got home and sat down to relax around 7:30- and I was definitely in bed before 9 and I loved every minute of it!

Questions for you: What was the best part of your weekend? Did you get outside to enjoy the beautiful weather on Saturday? Do you like hosting parties?

This Week: Workouts, loving my rest days & things I’m looking forward to

Good morning and happy Monday! How about the weather this weekend?! It was a very welcomed change after a super rainy week last week, that’s for sure.

My gym friends and I got together on Friday night (more on that later!) and we were all talking about our crazy schedules and our workouts and teaching and all those things that we all have in common. I mentioned that I’ve been better about resting for at least 2 days each week and someone said she noticed that and was proud of me. I’m starting to get to the point where I’m LOVING my rest days and I really look forward to them. At first, I’ll admit- it was hard. I wanted to be working out and I felt guilty when I had a day where I didn’t do it. Looking back, I hate that about myself… but- I love that I’ve been able to get through that and have learned to really cherish my time off from the gym or any type of workout. Last Thursday, for instance, I planned to have a rest day from the gym. The fact that I didn’t need to pack up for the gym was an awesome feeling. And, during my normal after work gym time, I was able to run a bunch of errands and start prepping for the party I had on Saturday. With crazy busy weeks, it’s nice to let my workout time fall off my plate so that I can do other things.

Last Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- I went for a 3.5 mile run after work on Monday. I also did some weights and core work when I got back to my apartment. I’m trying to take advantage of the weather while it lasts and take my workouts outside.
  • Tuesday- I subbed a double at the South Station BSC. It was cardio kickboxing and then UXF Burn. I know I’ve said this before, but when I sub a double, I’m quickly reminded at how great my decision was to drop my double over the summer. They’re so tiring!

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  • Wednesday- I did the cross trainer for 25 minutes before teaching UXF Burn.

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  • Thursday- Rest day
  • Friday- I went to the gym during lunch and ran for 10 minutes before completing a shortened version of the workout I taught on Wednesday- it was killer.

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  • Saturday- I taught my cardio kickboxing class at the Oak Square YMCA. The fall crowds are back and I love it!! We worked super hard and I was crazy sore on Sunday. What do you think of my new shirt? Super deal at Lulu.

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  • Sunday- Rest day #2

This Week’s Workouts

  • Monday- I will have taught my 6am Muscle Mix class by the time this post goes up.
  • Tuesday- I’m not sure. I might go to the bootcamp class at the Wellington BSC that I went to a few weeks ago.
  • Wednesday- I will probably run before UXF Burn. It’s supposed to be like 70 something degrees out so hopefully I can run outside!
  • Thursday & Friday- One of these days will be a rest day. I’ll likely decide based on how I feel from my workouts earlier in the week.
  • Saturday- I’m subbing for Missy, so I’ll be back at the Oak Square YMCA for cardio kickboxing.
  • Sunday- Rest day. My parents will be here and I have book club so it will be a busy day.

Things I’m Looking Forward To

I’m looking forward to a quieter week- last week was insane and there just weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. I’m only teaching 3 classes this week, so that helps a lot. I’m also looking forward to my parents coming on Saturday. They are meeting RM’s family for the first time and I can’t wait!

Questions for you: What was your best workout last week? How do you take advantage of rest days? What are you looking to this week?

My first New Balance Girls Night Out event

Hi! A few weeks ago, I was finally able to attend a New Balance Girls Night Out (NBGNO, for short) event. They always fall on Wednesdays, which doesn’t work for my schedule because I already teach on Wednesdays, but after reading recaps on various blogs (Athena’s, to mention one), I made the decision to get a sub for my class so I could finally attend one of the events. Boy, am I happy I did that- the event was such a wonderful experience, especially this heartfelt one that was centered around Breast Cancer Awareness.

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I was so happy I had my bright pink Lulu pants because they were perfect for a pink-themed event! IMG_9033

Sherri, from fun fit flavor opened the event with some words about what this event meant to her and the story behind New Balance’s #LaceUp365 slogan. Sherri’s sister was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, so it was an emotional start to the night listening to her speak.

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If you’re not familiar with #LaceUp365, it’s a program that was created last year to mark New Balance and Susan G. Komen’s 25 year partnership anniversary. The idea behind it, is that breast cancer awareness shouldn’t just be during the month of October- it should be a yearlong thing. With #LaceUp365, you are able to dedicate your workouts all year long to a breast cancer survivor or someone who has been diagnosed. During Sherri’s intro, she asked us to all think of someone we know who has been affected by breast cancer and dedicate our run to them. What a powerful way to go into a run.

With that said, we laced up and headed out.

New Balance GNO
Sherri’s photo

I went with Sarah, from Blonde Bostonian, as she was leading the 4.5 mile group. My sister joined Caroline for the 2.2 mile run.

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Our run was so fun! I was able to meet and chat with new people, as well as finally meet Sarah in real life. We ran through the city and Cambridge and it was perfect weather to do that.

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Every bit of the run was great… that is, until I totally wiped out at the end! The worst part is that I was at the front, so a few others tripped over me, haha I’d like to say I was super embarrassed, but I actually wasn’t. My phone was fine, my pants were fine and I knew my knee injuries were merely external (unlike last time I fell while running and broke my elbow!). My knee was pretty painful, but after a glass of wine and some snacks, the pain subsided a bit.

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Once we were all back at the store, Sherri spoke again and we also heard from Dr. Priscilla Brastianos, who is a woman on the mission to find a cure for breast cancer. I wish I could put into words how amazing her speech was- it had everyone’s attention.

The rest of the event was spent mingling, eating and drinking. I was so happy to have my sister there, as well as blogger friends!

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As if the run, inspirational speeches and food and drinks wasn’t enough, we walked away with some pretty sweet swag boxes, including a sports bra, coupons, #LaceUp365 laces and a workout log. Seriously, they spoiled us!

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I’ve worn the sports bra a few times now and LOVE it. While I wasn’t sure about the padding at first, I realized it’s super supportive and I like that it’s all built in so you don’t have to deal with stupid bra pads in the washer, which happens to me with all my lulu tops!

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All in all, the event was so awesome. Not only were we working out for a good cause and to raise breast cancer awareness all year long (with the ultimate goal to cure it), we were able to learn more about the program and meet so many amazing women. I challenge each of you to dedicate your workouts this week… and the year… for someone you know who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

And, the best part?? They are hosting another one on Tuesday, November 4th at the Westin Copley. The theme this time is “staying fit on the go”, which is something I’m very passionate about (I’ve shared my Tips to Stay Healthy While on the Road, as well as many on the road workouts with you before) so I’m super excited for this event. Not only that, but my friend Caroline is hosting with Sherri again. This time, they’re offering a bootcamp AND a run, so you can choose what you’re more interested in. Are you hooked yet? You can sign up here if you are. I’ll warn you, though- these events fill up fast!

Thanks again, New Balance!

Questions for you: Have you ever been to a New Balance Girls Night Out event? Have you heard about the #LaceUp365 program? Have you ever fallen while running?