Can I Get an “HLS”?

I don’t need rest.  No, really, it’s alright.  I function very well on minimal sleep, caffeine and residual adrenaline.

Yeah, I’m lying.

The past two weeks (between Seattle last week and HLS this weekend) have been non-stop and I’m exhausted, but I’ve had fun!

I had a great time at the Healthy Living Summit.  It’s been said a million times (or maybe 225 times by the bloggers that were at the conference), but it was really fun to meet all of my “blog” friends (and some new ones!) in person.  We share a special, slightly obsessive, bond that I think is a rarity in our otherwise hectic lives.

Since I jumped on the recap bandwagon a little late (I was just too wiped out last night to post), I’ll share some of my favorite recaps posted by other HLS-lovin’ bloggers:

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Jenn from Eating Bender

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Andrea from Can You Stay For Dinner?

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And Amy from Second City Randomness

Yes, the hot mess in the orange Hooters shorts is me.  Try not to swoon.

I noticed some definite themes during the conference.

#1.  Don’t feel pressure to adhere to what other bloggers are doing or how they write. I think a lot of bloggers that consider themselves part of this crazy “healthy living/food/fitness blogosphere” would agree that there are definite trends in the community.  Examples: hot yoga, chia seeds, green smoothies, use of the words “epic” and “fail”…I could go on.  Some of these things are great (I mean, when you publish an epic post about your green monster, you don’t want to downplay its health benefits.  That would be a fail.) and some are not so great (like shrugging off your 9 mile run as just a light workout).

For me, I’m not so much into yoga.  There was a group trip to a yoga studio and a yoga session during the conference, both of which I passed on to take part in other things.  I tried not to feel pressure to jump on the yoga bandwagon because I know it’s not my thing and I’d feel uncomfortable.  It’s fantastic that so many people find yoga to be a great workout as well as calming and therapeutic, but I’m not one of those people.  And that’s A-Okay.

#2.  Strength training is all kinds of good for your body and booty. As Chandra informed us during one of the breakout sessions, you can’t just do cardio.  You have to work resistance training into your routine so that you don’t lose muscle.  Decreased muscle = slowed metabolism = bad news bears.

In honor of Chandra’s session, I got my fix of Jillian bright and early this morning.

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I don’t care what anyone says.  I like my little butt kicker.

#3. Everyone should learn to cook and try to eat as cleanly as possible. It’s a no-brainer.  We all know that there are things we feed our mouths with that aren’t good for us- full of chemicals, altered fats and artificial yuck (sometimes delicious artificial yuck, I will grant you that) and by learning how to make our own meals at home we can offset some of the not so perfect things we consume while raging out on the town.

I took a page from this book tonight.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Nacho Average Veggie Burgers!

Wow.  Just. Wow.  So, here’s the background: last night I decided to throw some ingredients to make stuffed peppers (which were great, by the way).  I had a ton of filling leftover, so I decided to make a veggie burger out of it.

1 can drained, rinsed black beans

1/4 cup sour cream

3 T. chopped cilantro

2 T jarred salsa (you could make your own, but let’s face it- that’s a lot of effort)

3/4 cup cooked brown rice

1 oz. sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 small yellow onion, chopped finely

2 small carrots, peeled and chopped

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 1/2 T. chopped jalapeno

1 t. cumin

1/2 t. chili powder

1/2 t. oregano

8 crumbled corn tortilla chips

Heat a small skillet over medium heat with a bit of light colored oil.  Add onion, carrot, garlic, jalapeno and spices and cook until sweated out and tender.  Turn off heat, reserve.

In a bowl, combine black beans, sour cream, salsa and cilantro.  Mash together with a fork until about 1/2 of the beans are smooshed and some are still whole. Stir in onion mixture.  Add shredded (or torn, if you roll like that) cheese, brown rice and crushed tortilla chips and stir to combine.

Now, here you can stop.  This was my filling for the stuffed peppers.  All I did was half a bell pepper and add the stuffing, then I threw them in a 375° oven for 25 minutes, then I threw some more cheese on top and broiled until they started to brown.  Good stuff.  Enough of that, here’s how I made the burgers.

Put about 1 cup (give or take) of the filling mixture in a bowl.  Add one egg and about 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and stir to combine.  Form into 2 large patties.  Preheat grill and once hot, turn the flame down to medium-low.  Grill for about 5 minutes on each side, turning carefully once making sure they don’t fall apart.

Oh man.  I’ve outdone myself.  These were surprisingly sturdy and didn’t fall apart on me at all.  Not to mention, they were addictively good.  (No, “addictively” is not an “actual” word.  So??)

I made some brussels sprouts on the side.  I made a brown butter sauce (by cooking about 1 T. of regular butter in a skillet for about 3 minutes until it starting browning and then adding a few T. of hot water) and added a pinch of cinnamon, a dash of salt, and some dried cranberries, then tossed in my steamed brussels.

Glistening and lovely like a hunk on Baywatch.  Only with more fiber.

I served it all with 1/2 a Trader Joe’s whole wheat pita spread with a little organic mayo.

I can’t talk about it anymore, it was too good.

Lastly…

#4.  Take whatever part of the blogging community that makes you feel good and use it! This is the best part, and what I LOVE about this lil’ blogosphere of ours is the people.

SOOO, a few of us Chicago-based bloggers that were at this conference decided that we should get all of the local bloggers together to hang out/drink wine/drink beer/get a lil’ crazy.  If you weren’t at the conference (or didn’t hear us squeaking about it), email me and I’ll get you in on the action!  It’s gonna be….epic.

Do you have a blog?  What are your favorite parts of being a blogger and the blogging community?  What about things you don’t like about it?  Go ahead, vent.  You’ll feel better. 😉

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Feast Before the Storm

Tonight, I feasted.

Caesar salad.

Marinated chicken breast and sun-dried tomato chicken sausage from TJ’s (my lover).

Fresh farmers market corn-on-the-cob (yup, I added some real buttah).

My parents also had some of this pretty caprese salad that my dad prepped:

Unfortunately, I’m the chump who never acquired a taste for raw tomatoes so I didn’t eat any.  (shame me if you must)

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HEADLINE!! We’re sorry to interrupt this blog post, but we’ve just received an email notifying us of Megan’s impending 5th year college reunion and she’s having a small embolism.  How did FIVE years go by already?  Jeepers!  Ok, Megan, breaaathe…

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post.

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The reason for this large (and delicious) meal is that I ate with my parents tonight and we prefer to either go big or go home.  Especially since the weather was gorgeous and the grill was hot.

Plus, I’m going on a trip tomorrow morning!  I’m flying out to Seattle at the butt crack of dawn for the wedding of two of my friends (ok, the boyfriend’s friends- but they’re my friends now, too! 🙂 ).  I always like to have a good meal in my estomac before I leave on a trip- call it tradition, call it superstitious, call it “Megan’s always hungry”.

I also like to plan out some sustenance for the trip (especially since this one’s a doozy with a layover in…PHOENIX!?*&%!).  Here’s what I packed:

A couple of Z bars, as per usual.

Raw, unsalted almonds for protein.

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**Braisified Tip**

Don’t pack overly salty snacks/meals when you travel.  The excess sodium causes bloat, which will make you très uncomfortable.  Plus, all the salt will make you thirsty and if you drink too much you’ll annoy your seat partners with your constant bathroom trips.  I’ve been on both ends of that situation, folks.  Never fun.

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Des bluets.

And some blackberries.

Should be a good trip. 🙂

I’m not bringing my computer with me on the trip so I probably won’t post again until I get back (although I’ll try to if I can!), but I’ll definitely be tweeting! Are you following me yet??  Just do it!  It’ll feel good, I promise.

Oh, and guess what came in the mail today!!

My lentils from USA Dry Peas, Lentils & Chickpeas! I can’t wait to get cooking!

Have a good weekend everyone!  🙂

No Case of the Mondays

Today was not your typical Monday.  My office had a staff outing to Six Flags!  I’m not a huge fan of big rollercoasters, but it was still a fun day and a great way to help our staff bond.   Plus, there are other rides at the park that aren’t terrifying!

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Included with our tickets was a meal ticket to use for lunch.  I think we can all agree that theme parks aren’t the best place to find healthy meal options, but there are ways to at least do some damage control.

1. Get a workout in before you go. I was tired this morning, but I made myself get out of bed to go for a run.  I ran on the treadmill (which I haven’t done in a while!) and used the outing as an excuse to push myself extra hard.

2. Take advantage of the opportunity to walk. It’s easy to pick up a map of the park grounds and take the most direct route to the rides you want to go on, but since you’re going to be standing in lots of lines anyway, why not meander?  Plus, you might stumble upon a ride or two you didn’t know you wanted to go on!

3. Only eat what you’re really craving, and stop when you’re full. If you’re going to be forced to eat something that’s not so healthy, at least get what you really want! Then, don’t over-do it.  The portions at theme parks are often HUGE, so eat until you’re not hungry anymore and then stop.  Rollercoasters+overeating = pukey.

After my workout this morning, I inhaled this:

I may be obsessed with these Saturn peaches.  They are a little bit more floral than a regular peach, and dare I say- slightly milky?  It sounds kind of weird, but they are really good and so funny to eat! (I must look strange eating them in public- it sort of looks like I’m eating a sandwich because of the way I hold them.)

I also inhaled some trail mix.  It was pretty crucial. (M&M’s before 9 am?  It happens.)

Since my eats this afternoon weren’t exactly the pinnacle of good eats, I’ll leave you with last night’s dinner:

I marinated some boneless, skinless chicken breasts for dinner.  I need to marinate more!  This chicken was really, really good.  Not only did it have a lot of flavor, but it stayed really juicy.  Here’s the marinade recipe for a little less than a pound of poultry (I had 2 huge breasts that I butterflied in half).

1/4 cup tequila (I didn’t use a super high quality tequila.  It was Cuervo.  What?  Don’t judge me!)

1 lime, juiced

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 t. chili powder

2 T. chopped jalapeno (I used the jarred, pickled kind.  I think they’re spicier!)

1 T. minced garlic

1 t. ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a dish and add chicken.  Cover and refrigerate as long as you can stand it.

I made a little sauce out of sour cream, salsa and cumin to cool off the chicken.  Simple but good!

Check out my grill marks!  I’m a pretty skilled grillmaster these days.  Come visit me in Chicago and maybe I’ll prove it. 🙂  It must have been good, in all honesty- the boyfriend went back for 2nds!

I made some roasted broccoli and garlic toast on the side (with leftover bread from the farmers market).

D. E. Licious.

Are you a fan of amusement parks?  What do you do about the eating situation while you’re there?