Catching up {Workouts and Life}

As I read other healthy living blogs, I’m happy to see that I’m not the only one feeling like there just isn’t enough time in the day or week to accomplish everything on my to-do list. Sometimes blogging just has to take a back seat, and even though I sometimes feel guilty about it or stressed to get posts written, realizing it’s OK to take a break is so refreshing. Sarah wrote a post earlier this week that hit me hard. It was as if I was writing it myself! I’m finding myself in a recent job change, increasing love for fitness and teaching and no longer just being on my own. Being in a serious relationship and moving to that “we” thing is awesome, but it’s also a big change for someone who hasn’t had that in a longggg time. My normal blogging time and teaching time and “Monique” time is just not the same as it used to be and I wouldn’t change that for the world. As we grow up, our priorities change, right? It’s such an exciting time, but sometimes it can be a little stressful! Sarah’s post was a great reminder to not let myself get stressed out over these types of changes, but to embrace them and live life. Blogging will always be here, but random nights with the bf or friends of family won’t- it’s more important to DO those things, rather than sit at home, writing a post because it’ll “screw up my schedule” if I don’t.

And, with that, let’s catch up on some stuff!

Workouts- Last week

Last week was my last week teaching my Thursday night double, which was totally bittersweet! On top of that, RM and I headed to Chicago with some friends so my weekend workouts were a bit different than usual. Overall, though, it was a great week of workouts. We did SO MUCH WALKING when in Chicago. Our hotel was about a mile from all the action (just in the wrong part of the city), so getting to and from anywhere was at least a 2 mile walk.

    • Monday- After work, I ran 3.5 miles and then did the workout listed at the bottom of this workout post. I kinda died a little…

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    • Tuesday- I went to a BodyPump during work since I had a hair appointment after work. What is it about BodyPump that gets me every time?!
    • Wednesday- I ran 3.5 miles on the treadmill before teaching (and doing most of) UXF Burn. I’m not sure what we did to get so dirty?

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    • Thursday- Last double:( In SHRED, we did 3 rounds of stations and then we did some across the floor cardio and partner ab stuff. We had a big group and everyone seemed to enjoy it! Kickboxing had it’s biggest crowd to date and we worked super hard!

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    • Friday- Nothing. We had an early flight so there was definitely no morning workout for me! We did do some walking, though.
    • Saturday- I got up and ran 4 miles, although I think my mapmyrun GPS wasn’t working because it was saying I was running all sub 8 minute miles… highly doubt that! After, I did some core work at the gym and then RM wanted to go for a walk so we went on about a 45 minute loop- we were walking so fast!

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    • Sunday- We had all intentions of going to the gym at the spa before our massages, but a late lunch got in the way of that. I did walk for about an hour in the morning while getting breakfast and Architecture tour tickets.

Catching Up- Life

The past couple of weeks have been so busy!! I feel like I’m on auto-pilot going from one thing to the next. Anyone else feel this way? I have a full recap of Chicago coming soon, but besides that, here are some things going on:

  • My garden is growing so much! Over the past couple of weeks I have picked kale and green beans, and both taste so fresh!

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  • I recently started reading The One and Only by Emily Griffin for a book club that my college friends and I started. It’s really just an excuse to get together to drink wine, but we decided to throw a book in the mix, too!

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  • I had to buy new Tom’s when walking around in Chicago and I’m actually happy about it because I’ve been meaning to buy a new pair for a while now. Love this blue!

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  • I’m heading to the Cape this weekend with RM and his brother, sister-in-law and their 1 year old son. I think the weather is supposed to be crappy… why can’t it be nice when I have time to go to the beach?!
  • My parents are coming next weekend for my mom’s birthday- any good meal suggestions?

Questions for you: When’s the last time you skipped workout for sleep? Have you had any garden-fresh veggies this summer? Do you read Emily Griffin books? Are you in a book club?

Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna

I’ll be honest: I haven’t done much cooking this summer. Between busy weekends, spending a lot of time with RM and cooking with him, having things after work and really just not having motivation to cook in the heat, I’ve been subbing out real meals with easy substitution meals (eggs have been a big hit here). But, a few weeks ago I made time on a Sunday night to make a recipe I found in the Hannaford’s “Fresh” Magazine. Have you ever read through one of those magazines? They are free with a purchase of $20 or $25 or more and always have the best recipes in them!

The recipe was really easy to follow and not overly labor-intensive (does anyone else feel like Cooking Light recipes are super labor intensive??) and I was a big fan of all of the ingredients!

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Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna

Ingredients (from Hannaford’s Fresh Magazine- Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna)

  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 11/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 (23 to 26 oz.) jar marinara sauce
  • 1 (8 oz.) pkg. part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese

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Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare the zucchini: Trim ends. Use a mandolin slicer or very sharp knife to slice zucchini lengthwise into long, flat noodles.

2. Layer zucchini on paper towels and sprinkle with salt, then cover with more paper towels to absorb moisture. Let noodles sit while you prepare the quinoa.IMG_7748

3. In a large saucepan, combine quinoa, broth, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, and oregano and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.

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4. Gently stir in cream cheese, pepper, and basil until incorporated.

5. Assemble the lasagna: Pour enough marinara in the bottom of an 8-by-8-inch pan just to cover the bottom. Wipe zucchini slices dry and lay about 4 slices over the sauce. Spread half the quinoa in a layer over the zucchini, then sprinkle with a third of the mozzarella cheese. Top with a third of the remaining sauce, then another layer of zucchini, remaining quinoa, half the remaining cheese, and half the remaining sauce. Top with a final layer of zucchini. Pour on remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

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6. Cover pan with foil and bake until zucchini is tender and cheese is brown and bubbling, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove foil during the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking so cheese will brown. Let rest for 10 minutes, then slice into rectangles and serve.

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Source: Hannaford fresh Magazine, May – June 2014

The only thing that I would change about this recipe is subbing out the 2 tbsp of cream cheese for a wedge of Laughing Cow Cheese. I thought the quinoa/cheese/sauce mixture was a little bland and think that by adding a flavored cheese the flavor would have been intensified. I would also add more seasoning to the mixture to jazz it up.  Otherwise, I followed the recipe pretty much to a T and really enjoyed eating it throughout the week.

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Although there’s protein in quinoa, if you wanted to add a little extra you could certainly add in some ground chicken or turkey or beef- I think that would be delicious!

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If you’re looking for other lasagna recipes, check these out:
Summer Squash and Zucchini Lasagna
Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms, Kale & Ground Turkey Lasagna
Butternut Squash, Kale and Goat Cheese Lasagna! (the pictures aren’t showing up in this post for some reason- I have to fix it!)

The Zucchini and Summer Squash Lasagna recipe is quite possibly the most popular recipe on this little blog!

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Questions for you: What’s your favorite type of lasagna? Do you like the traditional version or do you like to change things up? Where do you get most of your recipes from?

A Healthy Eggplant Parmesan Dinner

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the best way to get back “on track” after an indulgent weekend or few days is to make a veggie-heavy dinner that’s so delicious it reminds you how good it tastes and feels to eat clean, real food. On my way back to Massachusetts on Monday afternoon, I remembered that I had bought a baby eggplant the week before. Since I hate to waste food, and have been waiting for an excuse to take my dad’s homemade sauce out of the freezer, I decided that eggplant parmesan would be a great meal to make. Per usual, I knew I wanted to doctor up the sauce a bit, so I added in some browned lean hamburger (it was about half the price of ground turkey or ground chicken and it was 85% lean so I went for it) and extra veggies.

To cut back on carbs a bit, I cooked up a small spaghetti squash. This is one of my favorite healthy substitutions because if you have a good sauce and other things to keep your mouth happy, you won’t even notice that you’re not eating pasta! Lastly, a side of baked kale was the finishing piece of the meal… because you can never have too many veggies, right?!eggplant parmesan

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 small-medium eggplant
  • sea salt
  • approx. 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1/2-1 cup panko or bread crumbs
  • EVOO
  • 2 cups of sauce (store bought or homemade)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground beef (or turkey or chicken)
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1/2 lemon
  • herbs and seasonings of your choice

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Directions

1. Cut open the spaghetti squash, clean out the seeds and put it into a pot of boiling water. Boil for about 15-20 minutes. While that is cooking, place the sauce in a pot and add in the chopped veggies. When the spaghetti squash is cooked, remove from the water and use a fork to shred the squash. Set aside.

2. Brown the beef and add that to the sauce and veggies.

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3. Clean and cut up the kale (removing the stems) and massage with about 4 tbsp. of EVOO, the juice of 1/2 a lemon and herbs/seasonings of your choice. Place in a baking dish and set aside.

4. Preheat the oven to 350*. Cut up the eggplant into 1/4-1/2″ slices and place on a paper towel. Sprinkle some sea salt onto one side and let sit for a few minutes. Flip the slices over and sprinkle more salt on them. I heard that this helps to remove some of the excess moisture in the eggplant- anyone know more about this?

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5. Heat a pan with a little EVOO. Scramble an egg in one bowl and put the panko/breadcrumbs in the other bowl. Place the eggplant slices into the egg and then into the panko/breadcrumbs and then onto the warm pan. Cook on each side for about 3-5 minutes.

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6. When each side of the eggplant slice has browned, place a small spoonful of sauce and a sprinkle of cheese onto each and bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Place the kale in the oven as well, stirring halfway through.

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7. Serve yourself a bowl of spaghetti squash, topped with the meat/veggie sauce and eggplant medallions and a side of kale. Enjoy!

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This meal was so delicious and can be simplified even more by replacing spaghetti squash for regular spaghetti and skipping the breading process on the eggplant. I just had time and love being in the kitchen so I went all out!

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Enjoy!

Questions for you: Do you like eggplant parmesan? Do you make your own sauce? What’s your favorite green veggie?

 

 

Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms, Kale & Ground Turkey Lasagna

Well, well, well. I have quite the recipe for you today! I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m not a big fan of Italian food. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that there are so many other things I’d rather eat instead of a big ol’ bowl of pasta. It’s just not something that fills me up and keeps me satisfied.

But, last weekend I got a craving for lasagna. My dad had given me a big container of his homemade sauce and I had been keeping it in the freezer for a time when I knew I’d use it all up. Lasagna was the perfect dish to do that!

Although this lasagna has real noodles instead of vegetable noodles (and, ps, my Zucchini and Summer Squash Lasagna post is probably one of the most popular posts I’ve done. It amazes me to see how many people have repinned it on Pinterest. Seriously. It’s crazy!), I think it’s still relatively healthy since I used whole wheat noodles, part skim ricotta and kale. That makes it healthy, right? 😉

Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms, Kale & Ground Turkey Lasagna

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 – 3/4 lb of lean ground turkey. You can use beef if you’d prefer, or leave the meat out entirely if you want to make it vegetarian!
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cups of chopped mushrooms
  • 2 big handfuls of kale, rinsed chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 of a container of part skim ricotta (or whatever type you want)
  • 2-4 cups of sauce
  • whole wheat lasagna noodles (I think I used 6 in mine)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • seasonings to taste (I used sea salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash, Pampered Chef & oregano)

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Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 350*. Brown the ground turkey. I added seasonings as well. I also got to use my new meat utensil that I got from my Pampered Chef party… loved it! If your lasagna noodles need to be cooked before you bake the lasagna, do that now as well.

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2. While the meat is cooking, chop your veggies. When the meat has finished cooking, remove it from the pan and add in your onions. I “caramelized” my onions by adding about a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of brown sugar, BUT, Elle, who blogs over at Nutritionella recently posted an amazing looking breakfast skillet recipe in which she caramelized onions and if you want REAL caramelized onions, follow her instructions 😉 Once the onions are mostly caramelized, add in the mushrooms. Lastly, add in the kale when the mushrooms have softened.

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3. When the kale is finished cooking, you’re ready to start assembling the lasagna!

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4. I baked mine at 350* for about 30 minutes. Once it looked bubbly, I broiled it for about 5 minutes to get that pretty browned top.

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This was the perfect meal for a Sunday night and as I’ve re-heated it a number of other nights this week, I can say that it only gets better! Casseroles are my favorite “Sunday Night Meal” to make because they are so easy to heat up when I get home from the gym and am starving AND they continuously taste good throughout the week. Some leftovers don’t re-heat well, but casseroles, soups, etc. re-heat so well.

I hope you enjoy this- let me know if you try it!

Questions for you: What’s your favorite type of lasagna? Do you make your own sauce? Kale- yay or nay?