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Why I Lift

Fitness is a big part of my life whether it is spinning, running, yoga, barre, or weight lifting, I have always done some combination of the above.  I generally do not have specific goals but getting out and moving makes me feel better mentally, emotionally, and physically.  When I was in NYC my fitness routine involved a lot of cardio: running in Central Park, spinning, and barre classes when I could fit them in.  During my last year in the city when I was working non-stop, getting on a bike at Soul Cycle for 45 minutes was my one outlet, it helped keep me sane!  In addition to cardio, I would try to squeeze in barre classes or weights at home, usually a daily burn video – https://dailyburn.com/landing or a tone it up workout – https://www.toneitup.com/.

I did not start lifting weights regularly until I moved to Edmonton.  Prior to moving, when I visited Bradley in Edmonton I would join him at the gym and would struggle through his weight lifting routines.  It was tough and uncomfortable, but I enjoyed the challenge and was motivated to improve my form and build strength.  I started to incorporate a bit of weight lifting into my routine in New York, but it was sporadic.  Years ago, I had a trainer for a summer and learnt how to lift properly so I was able to pick it up again fairly quickly.  I highly recommend having someone teach you to lift properly before diving into serious weight training to avoid injury and prevent bad habits.

Bradley always says regardless of your fitness goals you should pick up heavy things and put them down.  As usual, I think he is right.  I feel stronger than I have in years, maybe ever, now that I have incorporated consistent weight training into my routine whether it is low weight and high reps or high weight and low reps.  I notice a difference in my strength and endurance in spin classes, when hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, and in day to day life.  I feel like my body can tackle anything with relative ease.  I think maintaining a consistent cardio routine is also important and contributes to my overall health.  Bradley shies away from too much cardio (interferes with building mass or something ;)).  I notice when he is not including cardio in his routine, he does not have the same level of endurance and struggles when spinning, hiking, or when we incorporate HIIT into a weight routine (sorry for calling you out).  For me, a combination is the best of both worlds. 

Typically, Bradley is doing some sort of weight lifting plan 5-6 days a week and will join me once a week for spin.  I join him a few days a week weight training and spin the rest of the week.  Working out together is our “thing”, we enjoy having that hour or two together, but have yet to establish a routine to do together.  So, we have been working on a schedule that incorporates both spinning and weight training.  This is an effort to incorporate both of our interests and a goal of building strength while maintaining cardiovascular health and endurance.  We plan to incorporate yoga as well, something we currently are not doing, as we both need to stretch more and yoga has many other health benefits that will add to a balanced fitness routine such as toning, muscle strength, flexibility, and posture. 

Why are body weight exercises so hard!?

We are starting our plan the first week of March.  The plan will be six weeks, as we want a few weeks afterwards to trim for vacation.  In order to accommodate life and unpredictable work travel, the weekly routine will cycle through four workouts, instead of dedicating a week day to a particular workout. I.e., instead of Monday is chest day, we will start the program off with the first of four workouts, and cycle through them. If we miss a day, we will just do that workout the next time we are in the gym.

The lifting routine will follow a four-day split:

  1. Lower Body
  2. Upper Body Pull
  3. Upper Body Push
  4. Full Body

This allows for targeting individual muscle groups once per week with a couple dedicated compound exercises and a few isolation exercises, and provides a full body day to hit every muscle group a second time each week. The full body day will focus on alternative compound movements for each muscle group.  We will also incorporate two spin classes and one yoga class per week.

I will post the workout plan on the blog before we start and will track our progress as we go 🙂

Turkey Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash

We recently signed up for truLOCAL deliveries [https://www.trulocal.ca/]. We have talked about finding local meat for a few months now, ideally we would like to purchase a 1/4-1/2 cow, fresh chicken, turkey, etc., and stock our freezer.  In the meantime, we came across truLOCAL and decided to give it a try. TruLOCAL “connects you to high-end, locally-sourced meat products – delivered right to your doorstep.” You customize the meat selections in your box and choose the frequency of delivery. We received one box and are very happy with the product so far. Our second arrives in a few days!

In our first box we received lean ground turkey and decided to make turkey meatballs with spaghetti squash. I do not have a go-to meatball recipe, but came across Gordon Ramsay’s recipe [https://www.gordonramsay.com/gr/recipes/courgetti-spaghetti-and-turkey-meatballs/.] We did not include onions in the meatballs, substituted fresh tomatoes for canned, and used tomato paste instead of tomato purée. We also added one cup of diced bell peppers and 1/2 a jalapeño pepper to the sauce. The Gordon Ramsay ingredients and instructions with our modifications are below or you can use the link above for the original recipe.

FOR THE MEATBALLS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g lean ground turkey
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp Italian breadcrumbs
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Put the turkey into a mixing bowl with the garlic, Worcestershire sauce, beaten egg, breadcrumbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix everything together until thoroughly combined.
  2. With wet hands, roll the mixture into 20 meatballs and put them on to a plate. Cover with saran wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. While the meatballs are chilling, prepare the sauce (see below)
  4. To cook the meatballs, place a frying pan over a medium heat and add a dash of oil. Once hot, brown the meatballs in batches, turning frequently so they colour on all sides. Transfer to the pan with the tomato sauce to cook for a further 10 minutes until cooked through, turning from time to time. If the sauce becomes too thick, add 50–100ml of water.

FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 800g chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 1 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1 jalapeño pepper finely diced
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp balsamic vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place a large frying pan over a medium heat and add a dash of olive oil. Once hot, add the onion and sauté for 5–6 minutes until soft, then add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
  2. Stir in the tomato paste and continue to cook for 2 minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Stir everything together and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, until slightly thickened. Add prepared meatballs.

We paired this with spaghetti squash, an easy healthy alternative for pasta. To prepare, simply cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and discard, coat the inside with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, place cut-side down on a pan covered with parchment, and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes. The squash is done when the cut-side is browned and can be easily pierced. Use a fork to scrape out the squash.

Enjoy!!

Chicken & Yam Madras Curry

This recipe was inspired by a jar of Mini Kitchen Madras Curry spice that I picked up at a holiday market in Edmonton. I decided to attempt a chicken curry and added some yams as well. It turned out really well and a friend asked for the recipe. I had not followed a recipe, but jotted down what I did for her. It is a simple recipe with few ingredients that we usually pair with cauliflower rice or farro.

Ingredients:

Directions:

Cut chicken into cubes and cook in 1 tsp of coconut oil until browned and cooked through. Remove from pan.

Sauté onion for about 5 minutes in 1 tsp coconut oil. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes. Add chicken back into pan with spices, tomatoes, coconut milk, chicken broth, and yam. Bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer until yam is soft but not mushy.

Add chili pepper or jalapeño if you want extra spice. Use a cornstarch and water mixture if you need to thicken and add more broth or water if you need more liquid. Serve over rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa, farro . . .

Enjoy!!

Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry Recipe

Stir fry is a quick, easy, and healthy dinner option.   I usually make it on a whim because I have vegetables in the fridge that I want to use up or I see something inspiring at the grocery store.  We like to spend Sunday afternoon in the kitchen prepping lunches and dinner for the week, but last weekend we got tied up, didn’t have time to prep, and had to hit up the grocery store on Monday with no dinner plan in place for the week.  We didn’t have a ton of time and wanted something quick and easy.  I came across baby bok choy and decided to make a chicken and vegetable stir fry with cauliflower rice.  Stir fry is a great way to easily get a healthy serving of vegetables and, if you add chicken, some protein. I don’t add a lot of sauce so the end result is a delicious and filling combo of juicy chicken mixed with fresh vegetables! 

There is something very satisfying about chopping and combining all the vibrant colors of many different vegetables!

Ingredients:

Cauliflower Rice:

  • 1-2 heads of cauliflour
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Vegetable Stir fry:

  • 1 jalapeño
  • 4-5 carrots peeled and sliced
  • 3 bell peppers sliced (yellow, red, orange, or green)
  • 4 bunches of baby bok choy
  • 5-7 oz bean sprouts
  • 1 large head of broccoli florets
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 5 large cloves of garlic crushed or finely chopped
  • 1-inch piece of ginger finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce (low sodium)
  • 1 tbsp of Sriracha
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Baked Chicken Breast:

  • 5 boneless and skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cayenne pepper

Directions:

Cauliflower Rice:

  • Cut head(s) of cauliflower into chunks and either grate with a cheese grater or put in a food processor using the grater attachment
  • Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil (or olive oil) in a large sauté pan and add cauliflower, water, and salt and pepper
  • Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender

Cauliflower rice is a fantastic low calorie and low carb substitute for regular rice. I have also tried roasting it in the oven, but prefer the texture when cooked on the stove top as it is closer to regular rice.

Stir fry:

  • Add olive oil, garlic, and ginger to a wok over low-medium heat and sauté for 5 minutes
  • Add carrots and water, cover and cook for another 5 minutes
  • Add broccoli, peppers, bok choy, bean sprouts, soy sauce, sriracha, and salt and pepper
  • Cover and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are tender but still have a bit of crunch

Baked Chicken Breast:

We baked a pan of chicken because we wanted to use some for lunches.

  • Prep tip, chop extra veggies as well for lunches!

Coat chicken with olive oil (we love our Misto Sprayer – http://www.misto.com/), salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Bake at 375 degrees for approx. 35 minutes or until internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.  

You can also slice the chicken and add it directly to the stir fry.  Cook the chicken first in a tbsp of olive oil over medium heat until browned and cooked through. Remove and follow the instructions above. Once the vegetables are almost done, add the chicken back into the wok.

ENJOY!

This recipe made enough for 8 meals total, 4 each for Bradley and me.

TURKEY CHILI RECIPE

In the fall and winter I love to make pots of stew, soups, and chili that we can stockpile in the freezer for easy meal options.  Over the holidays we made a ham and used the leftover ham bone and meat to make a split pea and ham soup.  I also recently made beef stew with yams instead of regular potatoes, a tasty and healthy substitute.  This weekend we made Turkey Chili, see my recipe below.  I tripled the recipe because we had four packs, 2.1 kilograms, of extra lean ground turkey.  This was too much for my french oven so I had to split it into two pots.  The result was dinner for the week and three large containers went into the freezer for later.  We put on some tunes-today’s theme was classic rock-The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix, popped a bottle of Prosecco, and started chopping.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb extra lean ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed or finely chopped
  • 1-2 diced bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, or green)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper chopped (optional)
  • 1- 15oz can of kidney beans
  • 1- 15oz can of black or pinto beans
  • 28oz of diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • 2-3 tbsp of chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cups of water or chicken stock
  • salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven, add turkey and cook over medium heat until browned. Remove turkey from pot and add garlic, onions, carrots, and celery, sauté  for ~5 minutes. Add bell peppers and jalapeño pepper and sauté for a couple more minutes. Return turkey to pot and add spices. Add beans, tomatoes, and 1 1/2 cups of water or stock (until meat, beans, and vegetables are just covered). Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, and simmer for 45-60 minutes.

Note to self, a triple batch does not fit into my french oven

If Chili is too thick, add more water or stock as needed.

We like a bit of a kick to our chili so add a whole jalapeño, you can use more or less as desired.

Ready to freeze. We also made a chicken, vegetable, and lentil soup.

Happy chopping!!

I love my Le Creuset French Oven and use it all the time. They are pricey, but often go on sale and are stocked at places like HomeSense at a discounted price. Definitely worth the investment – https://www.lecreuset.ca/cookware/french-ovens/ There are also less expensive options out there.

Making Memories and Good Food

When Bradley and I first starting chatting (I was living in NYC and he was in Edmonton) we bonded over fitness and food prep.  These have continued to be a big part of our life now that we live together. 

NYC Apartment Kitchen

Food prep in NY was interesting.  My kitchen was the size of my closet now and I had about a square foot of counter space.  I would put a large cutting board on my coffee table in my living room, sit on the floor, and chop veggies while watching TV.  Bradley’s sister and I were recently talking about blogging and she joked that instead of writing about cooking in a small NY apartment like Smitten Kitchen – https://smittenkitchen.com/ (one of my favorite food bloggers), I could write about cooking in my spacious suburban kitchen.  All jokes aside, having space to cook has been an amazing luxury and I am excited to keep cooking with my handsome (sometimes obstinate) sous chef.

Each weekend we prep lunches and dinners for the following week.  By the time we get home from work and the gym it is after 7:00pm and we are tired and hangry.  Having meals prepped is a huge time saver and gives us something healthy and fulfilling to eat.  When we are short on time on weekends, food prep consists of baking a pan of chicken breasts and roasting some vegetables, however, when we have more time we enjoy cooking together and trying new things.  I have a tendency to use what we have available and just throw things into the pot without following a recipe or paying attention.  This is part of the fun of cooking, but when something turns out really well I have no idea what I did.  So, I am going to start jotting down what I do and will share some of our creations here.  In addition to food prep, I hope to dig into my numerous and largely unused cookbooks and try some new recipes.

Happy prepping!!

The Journey Begins

Eight months ago I uprooted my life and moved from New York City to Edmonton, Alberta (said no one else ever!). I left my first real job and the city where I started my adult life. I loved NYC, the energy of the city, the experiences I had, and the lifelong friendships I made.  But, after 6+ years it was time to move on.  I moved for my sanity, for my health, for family, and for love.  I live in Edmonton with one adorable and sassy cat, Chiquita, and one adorable and lovable Fiancée, Bradley.  I am a small town island girl at heart and am happy to be closer to home and the beautiful outdoors that Alberta and British Columbia offer. 

In NYC I worked around the clock; work-life balance was a fallacy. I have more time outside of work now than I ever did in NYC and am striving to achieve the elusive work-life balance. I am starting this blog as an outlet, as a means to hold myself accountable, and to figure out what my new YEG life looks like.  My goal is to live my new life to the fullest with my little family. I have no idea if this will stick, but here it goes.  

Thanks for joining me!

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