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Archive for the ‘Kitchen Scientist’ Category

tea

It’s so true what my morning “cup of tea” says… Life should be enjoyed at every possible moment but how many of you are struggling to find time to do even the simplest things such as sitting down and enjoying a meal with your family? No time to cook and tons of work and /or personal deadlines to meet? Luckily for me, I was able to team up with Diet-to-Go this year and take back my needed time to do the things that are important to me. If you haven’t heard of Diet-to-Go before you are really missing out on a cost effective way to save time, eat healthy and join a supportive community through many forms of social media with like minded folks. Still feeling unsure… read my review and check them out. 🙂 As one of Diet-to-Go’s Brand Ambassadors I was asked to be a part of their exciting summer campaign. What a whirlwind this past month has been for myself including travel for work and with family, forget about being tied down in the kitchen! Diet-to-Go also coordinated so many cool things like the twitter party (Don’t forget to follow them @Diettogo) and the Dietbet. I really hope all of you entered their June contest to win free meals on their Facebook page earlier this month. I have a feeling they are going to be hosting more of these events so stay tuned!

And here’s something yummy to get you thinking with that stomach of yours…
waffles
I got to start my morning off with WAFFLES! I added the fruit since it was hanging out on my counter but what a treat! No mess cleaning up a waffle iron at 6:30am.

In addition to all of these fun events, Diet-to-Go also joined the Google + Community: “Common-Sense Healthy Living” and many Brand Ambassadors including myself have been posting healthy ideas to get your Summer Skinny on with heaps of Common Sense. There are lots of great tips, articles, recipes and information to help keep you motivated to slim down in a healthy way. I mean really… what’s the point of crash dieting for the eight weeks of summer so you can fall apart like a hot mess in September… until you start stressing for all those work and holiday parties from November to January? Why not make your daily eating habits a lifestyle change and love what you eat as much as you love that hot bikini and adorable summer espadrilles? Don’t let all your cute clothes cry out lonely in your closet!

DTG makes healthy portions of food that I sometimes couldn’t finish and saved as a leftover snack later…
mexican
I love, love, LOVE Mexican style food!

That’s exactly why I feel like Diet-to-Go really makes such a helpful impact for those of us struggling to cook a healthy meal at 10pm after a week of traveling for work and finally getting everything accomplished and settled down for the night, only to have to wake up early and start all over again. While I personally love to cook I also just don’t logically have the time I used to have to cook those beautiful, healthy meals, hence a great meal plan from Diet-to-Go.

Are you feeling as hungry as I am seeing all these easily prepared meals??
veggielunch
This pasta salad with asparagus veggies is a complete win for me and the fresh taste made me wish I had more after I finished this meal. I should mention I’d never eaten asparagus before this and now I want more of those skinny looking trees in my diet!

I ended up choosing the Vegetarian meal plan again this time because I loved the previous plan so much. Diet-to-Go offers three plans, Vegetarian, Traditional and Low-Carb. You can also choose from plans that include breakfast, lunch and dinner or just lunch and dinner and also pick either the 5 or 7 day plan. Your meal plan will also be either equal to 1200 or 1600 calories daily to support your specific goals you might have in mind. My meals came packed in a large Styrofoam cooler with dry ice. So cool! (hehe!) The meals were all individually wrapped with cooking instructions and ingredients/calories on the bottom. I was usually in a hurry so I generally grabbed whatever I pawed first and ran out the door to work, as my busy schedule permitted.

Some days I just couldn’t decide which to eat first…
choices
Lots of yummy choices such as the Veggie Cassarole or a Hummus sammie with fruit salad!

Did you know that Diet-to-Go has been ranked by Epicurious as #1 for taste? They weren’t kidding!! I really enjoyed the meals with the exception of maybe one or two but only because I generally wouldn’t have eaten those items anyway but moving forward in the future I know I can contact them and do meal substitutions. All my meals were packed with sides and condiments as needed so really I had nothing to purchase or worry about for the week overall. There was no supplemental grocery shopping unless you count shampoo, kitty litter and toilet paper!! Easy Peasy! The breakfast muffins had a nice taste/texture and many of the meals were things I have not even tried cooking before so it was a nice treat to also try new meals such as a bean soup with a pesto grilled sandwich or the curried cous cous that had toast almonds and apricots in it.

One rainy day called for soup and a sammie…
soupsandwichlunch
Can I call this my sexy soup? It was delicious and the week of meals had me dropping two pounds!

So if you needed more reasons why I think Diet-to-Go does a phenomenal job of providing easy delicious meals, here are my thoughts on the Pros and Cons overall of using Diet-to-Go:

Pros:
1. It was so easy to do. I just grabbed a meal and went about my business.
2. Often times the meals were very filling and I wasn’t able to eat everything off my plate. I even lost 2 lbs! Many people have used this service to compliment a weight loss regiment.
3. If you find you don’t like certain meals you can do substitutions through their online customer tools prior to ordering.
4. Did I mention no cooking for the week? It’s like I had a personal chef hanging out in my freezer.
5. CHOICES – the variety kept me from getting bored, which for me would usually lead to unadulterated snacking.
6. You can also partake in the fresh pick up if you live by their locations or have it shipped to you frozen as I did.
7. The cost is competitive to others out there in the market and if you’re going to buy something for lunch or dinner, you’re going to likely spend less with Diet-to-Go and get food of healthier and better quality.

Cons:
1. I could see how something like this “could” be a little expensive especially if you are feeding a family but I would like to argue that over time by eating better foods you are probably saving on healthcare down the road so maybe this is also a Pro but I’ll leave that up to you to decide.
2. A few of the items had a high calorie count. If I was keeping to about 400-500 calories per meal, eating a 700 calorie lunch probably isn’t the best but I managed and it was only one of meals out of the week and I was full so I didn’t even snack before dinner.
3. I wasn’t particularly crazy about all the plastic packaging, I’m kind of green like that so I made sure to recycle everything possible, but I also understand I was doing this for convenience so I had to compromise somewhere.

Overall if you are looking for an easy plan and have some weight loss goals in mind I would recommend giving Diet-to-Go a try. It was easy working with their customer service and the broad selection of meals is pretty impressive for having something delivered to your home And while we’re at it, Diet-to-Go is letting us as Ambassadors share some of the savings with you our readers. For a limited time only we can share a “gift card” with you which is good for $50 off a week of meals. What better way to give them a try and save some cash for things like a cute new swim suit or summer shoes??

Ambassador_Giftcard

Here’s to more ways to eat healthy! My bikini and I thank you!

XOXO

These thoughts and opinions are my own. I was compensated by Diet-to-Go for this campaign, who provided me a week of meals to enjoy.

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If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’ve talked about Diet-to-Go’s easy meal program in the past. As a part of their Ambassador Program they asked me to try out their meals again and share my thoughts with you on them. I selected the Vegetarian meal plan because I’m not a real big meat eater unless it’s the occasional steak or shrimp kind of deal. I love my veggies and my crazy schedule loves Diet-to-Go and how easy it makes my life at meal planning and preparation.

DTG1

See?!?! Who doesn’t love common sense healthy meals with no fuss?

Before I get into the meals (which will be a longer review later this weekend) I wanted to again remind you to join their June Sweepstakes promotion. Head on over to their Facebook page and check it out. Don’t forget to “Like” their page also.

You have an awesome chance to win some prizes. Five lucky folks could win one week of free meals and the grand prize winner could win a whole month of free meals!! Can you imagine?!?! An entire month of no cooking, no grocery shopping or meal planning and prep!?!? It’s like a vacation the idea is so thrilling to me since my kitchen became a fun killer with my new work schedule. So please check out the sweepstakes and enter.

Diet-to-Go is also hosting a Summer DietBet game. The game will launch on June 28th and run for 28 days. You weigh in and submit a photo to be verified at the start and end of the game. For anyone who is shy or worried, don’t be! You can keep your weight and the photos confidential so only you see them. The cost to join is $25 and if you “win” your “diet bet” by losing 4% of your weight you spilt the total pot of money with the winners. It’s really simple and fun. Winners could also win a $50 gift card from Diet-to-Go.

Another way to interact with this great company is through Google + Community: “Common-Sense Healthy Living” Now admittedly, I am pretty new at the whole Google + Community, lots of sharing and circles which could make a newbie tech person like me a little dizzy, but I suggest you check it out. There are lots of great tips, articles and information to help keep you motivated to slim down in a healthy way.

And while we’re at it, Diet-to-Go is letting us as Ambassadors share some of the savings with you our readers. For a limited time only we can share a “gift card” with you which is good for $50 off a week of meals. What better way to give them a try and save some cash for things like a cute new swim suit or summer shoes??

Ambassador_Giftcard

So what are you waiting for?? Diet-to-Go saved me hours of kitchen time the first time I reviewed their delicious meals (I am totally not kidding about that statement!) and that time savings continues again. I can’t wait to share with you the new meals I’ve gotten to try this time.

I received a week of meals to review as my compensation and all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

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I decided I needed to do some speedwork this week.

I was really pressed for time and needed to hustle to get my workout in. Originally, I was hoping to run 5 solo, pick up the monkey in the jogging stroller and run another 4 miles or so pushing my paycheck eater most wonderful child on the planet.

What ended up happening was running a 10k PR. I had laid off pushing myself since returning from Michigan so my legs could rest and I could assess to make sure my foot and hip pain was not anything significant to worry about. I’m the person who will lay awake at night fretting over how a twinge of pain might impact my next race. I used to not really care and would push through runs and races, but having a child to chase after and really busy work days means I have to be 100% functional even injured. Anyway, I was pain free but limited on time. I ended up running my hilly loop from the house which is a good 10k distance. I didn’t have my watch charged so I had to rely on my phone to track my time. No watch meant no pace per mile or random calorie killing checks. I had to “go old school.” I checked the time on my phone and head out the door. Up and over some hills and decents just pushing myself with ease. I focused on my breathing and how my form felt. Halfway through I looked at my phone and saw I was only 22 minutes in at my informal 5k mark. HOLY CRAP! Seriously, I was just planning to push my self “just enough” and get these hills under my feet. I decided I might as well keep the current pace and see how I was feeling. By the end after stopping for traffic to cross the road I made it home in 44:50. Sub 45 minutes for a 10k. My previous PR was a 47 and change. This was freaking awesome!

I did however have some casualties and got a huge hankering blister under my big toe and cut it underneath the foot. Ouch! Probably some rock sliver that came home from Michigan in my sneaker bag. I figured the evening called for a celebration so I went out and bought new kicks. Some pretty Asics Gel Noosa Tri 8. Look at these bad girls! I think the color palate is: “Throw Uppingly Delicious!” Now I’ll have to run faster so I don’t look foolish in the bright hot mess.

GelNoosa

Hope ya’ll are treating your feet to some new kicks or flip flops even. Today, June 21st is National Flip Flop day. Look it up, it’s true! XOXO

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The marathon weekend… or as my family enjoys saying, “Oh look mom’s running away from our insanity again!” Started out a little rocky. Between coordinating airport rides and getting on our flight, I think everyone was running (no-punning! lol) a bit late. Of course that would mean in crappy weather our flight is somehow still on time and we had to mad dash it to get through TSA. I swear those TSA agents dislike me. I never see anyone else get stopped for having extra sneakers/shoes in their carry on bag! And I ALWAYS get the longer of the two lines… So after the hustle we finally make it to Detroit. I was kind of hoping I’d see something on the drive to Ann Arbor that looked like what I pictured of Detroit (i.e. dangerous city) but that never happened.

Dear Detroit,
That’s a lot of hype you’ve got going on and I never saw one bad thing about your city.
Sincerely,
Me

Oh wait, we hadn’t even ran the marathon or flown home at this point.

The Ann Arbor marathon is still small in size, this being only it’s second year in the running. Overall there were 406 finishers in the full marathon distance. They also had a half, a 5k and a 1.2 fun run. I hadn’t bothered to check the elevation map since I was planning to run this as a long training run and I’m kind of glad I didn’t. I think I would have just sat this one out. Seriously. I knew it was going to be a challenge to finish since my longest 20M run had been a month prior and I was fighting off some foot and hip aches and pains. Even the race FAQ’s talk about how there are hills everywhere in Ann Arbor. Duh.

Alright, so let’s chat about the course. The start and finish happen at The University of Michigan. What you should note is that the campus is GINOURMOUS. Something like 25,000 students attend this school. So when you finish at the “little” stadium, you are not near the “big house” stadium (that’s right! more than one football field for these kids!) which is almost two miles?? (ok maybe 1.5 miles) away from your parked car. That’s also a big walk UP a HILL. Postrace. #fail

The first few miles 0-2.5 take you through the University campus through downtown Ann Arbor and out towards a residential area of rolling hills. By miles 3-4 you continue in Geddes on quiet streets in the early morning heading towards more hills what almost feels like a “country run.” You end up in Gallup park and run along the river miles 5-8. The park is pretty and few spectators are out cheering you on. Every two miles or so there is an aid station and one or two port-a-potties. Which I may have stopped at least six of them during the race. Mile 8 is a big one though. The first pass for the marathoners find it relatively quiet at maybe an hour plus into the race. There is a band though playing good music and many signs with clever sayings to keep you going. My favorite was, “Chuck Norris never ran a marathon!” Up a *slight* hill runners find themselves having to do two out and back loops including miles 10-11 (Plymouth) and then miles 12-13 (Haywood). Back down the hill you cross the half way point and onto mile 14 which ends up being the mile 8 aid station area. At this point I was ready for this race to finish. I knew I had enough in me to get to mile 16 where everything was primed to “go to hell in a handbasket,” as they say. The half marathoners who began the race an hour after us joined us for a stint and it felt like there was atleast some fresh faces to keep us going. More hills reared their ugly faces and as I knew it mile 16 was the F-bomb. My body was pretty much finished at this point and I just kept telling myself “Ok I made it this far, what’s another 10 mile struggle?” Don’t answer that question because it’s a stupid one and two hours of struggling never feels good or rewarding at the end!! Anyway, the course has a small reprieve and miles 16 thru 18 having us running backs towards the University and through this really pretty garden/trail/hilly/woods called the “Arboretum.” Look it up. I swear it’s cool. At the top of the hill is mile 18 and some nice ladies with ice pops and kids cheering like crazy just rolling out of bed from last night’s frat party. I was taking anything I could get my hands on at this point. I was still running ahead of the four-hour-pacer but quickly falling apart. The next several miles towards the finish are pretty much hell and a disaster. Two miles of rolling hills back into the city and out to the Briarwood Mall loop, where the expo was held the day before. Miles 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 I wanted a bus to come run me over. No luck there except putting one sad foot in front of the other. At mile 23 the four-hour-pacer past me and that was it. Mile 24 is over the stadium sidewalk and uphill to mile 25. Another out and back (small one) to the finish in the “small” stadium…

The finish was kind of anti-climatic. I guess there had been a course change because we were suppose to finish at the “big house” instead of two miles away from the car and parking lot. Ah well, it’s another race under my feet and a medal for the wall. I finished in 4:04:53, 151st over all, 40th female and 12th in my age group (ouch lol).

racephotosD

I consider every race a learning experience and here is what I learned:

* The TSA hires only mean, grumpy people intent on making you miss your flight. I already knew this, however, it’s nice to have my assumptions reaffirmed often and completely.

* Mustard can help cramps. Long story but, look it up. I used it at mile 21 and felt pretty good. I also purchased a pre-race pretzle as a diversion technique so my friends could “get more” packets than was perhaps needed for one pretzle. Big Daddy has said he will not bail me out of jail for running shennanigans so my guilt complex cost me $3.75 and garnered two dozen mustard packets.

mustard

* Cats away from home are cute but not always a good sleeping companion. *Simba Rocks* This little devil made our stay very interesting popping air matresses and knocking lamps over at 3am …

simba

* Avocado on pizza tastes delicious. There are soooooo many good places to eat in Ann Arbor. So if you’re going to run there, remember to eat well.

pizza

* Detroit = worst airport ever I can’t say this strongly enough. Let’s just say the evening did not end well. The flight was cancelled after a huge ruckus and mechanical problems and we had to stay the night. (What kind of an airport has to call a maintenence guy, not a “crew” just ONE guy to drive four hours away in Chicago to come and fix the plane?????) The only bonus was the nice room we got for free and the “real” Starbucks coffee I was willing to commit unspeakable acts for.

PID

I never though I would be so happy to see Newark, NJ in my life but there you have it. Home Sweet Home!

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If you’ve been checking out all my food pics on Instagram and Twitter last week you’ll see I was recently asked to be a part of Diet-to-Go as one of their food Ambassadors. I am really excited about this because my time is very precious to me and right now the less time I can spend cooking and cleaning is time I have for my family. (I want one of those Roomba vacuums please!) Being a busy Mom who works fulltime and tries to squeeze in my love of running between pick-ups/drop-offs and the rest of my responsibilities this was like a vacation from my kitchen. I’m currently training for a 50k race in July and several, YES several fall Marathons. Did I mention how time saving and easy this was? 🙂 There was literally no meal planning involved and probably much needed hours, I said HOURS, of time I saved not having to grocery shop or cook. (When I knew I was to be a part of this campaign, I told my partner to try and figure out the meals for the week without me for him and our monster. HAHA! Don’t worry, nobody starved during this week and they ended up thanking me for all the effort I do put into making them meals and meal planning.) It was so nice to get home from work (sometimes at 10pm!!) and not have to worry about what I was going to eat and if I was going to have to grab something unhealthy. Sometimes grabbing a banana that late at night while it is healthy is certainly not fulfilling my taste buds, hence the return to the fridge for something sweet/salty and sadly unhealthy…

I ended up choosing the Vegetarian meal plan. Diet-to-Go offers three plans, Vegetarian, Traditional and Low-Carb. You can also choose from plans that include breakfast, lunch and dinner or just lunch and dinner and also pick either the 5 or 7 day plan. Your meal plan will also be either equal to 1200 or 1600 calories daily to support your specific goals you might have in mind. My meals came packed in a large Styrofoam cooler with dry ice. So cool! (hehe!) The meals were all individually wrapped with cooking instructions and ingredients/calories on the bottom. I kind of wish the box included a “meal plan” of what to eat on each day but I grabbed whatever I pawed first and ran out the door to work, as my busy schedule permitted.

Diet-to-Go has been ranked by Epicurious as #1 for taste and they weren’t kidding. I really enjoyed the meals with the exception of maybe one or two but only because I generally wouldn’t have eaten those items anyway but moving forward in the future I know I can contact them and do meal substitutions. All my meals were packed with sides and condiments as needed so really I had nothing to purchase or worry about for the week overall. Easy Peasy! The breakfast muffins had a nice taste/texture and many of the meals were things I have not even tried cooking before so it was a nice treat to also try new meals such as a lentil loaf or the curried cous cous that had toasted almonds and apricots in it.

Here’s a montage of some of my delicious meals:

DTG1
DTG2

Here are my thoughts on using Diet-to-Go:

1. It was so easy to do. I just grabbed a meal and went about my business. Besides making a cup of coffee in the morning there wasn’t much thought I had to put into the plan of eating each day.
2. Often times the meals were very filling and I wasn’t able to eat everything off my plate. Bonus! I even lost 3 lbs. the week I tried this. Many people have used this service to compliment a weight loss regiment and while that wasn’t really my goal it was a nice little bonus for me and my skinny jeans.
3. If you find you don’t like certain meals you can do substitutions through their online customer tools.
4. Did I mention no cooking for the week? It’s like I had a personal chef hanging out in my freezer.
5. You can also partake in the fresh pick up if you live by their locations or have it shipped to you frozen as I did. It was very convenient.
6. The cost is competitive to others out there in the market and if you’re going to buy something for lunch or dinner, you’re going to likely spend less with Diet-to-Go and get food of healthier and better quality.

Overall if you are looking for an easy plan and have some weight loss goals in mind I would recommend giving Diet-to-Go a try. It was easy working with their customer service and the broad selection of meals is pretty impressive for having something delivered to your home. AND for a limited time only, Diet-to-Go is offering a 25% discount on your first week of meals!! 25% OFF! (Just wanted to make sure you got that!) Simply enter the coupon code “summer25” at the check-out for 25% off your first order.

Here’s to more ways to eat healthy! My skinny jeans and I thank you!
XOXO

These thoughts and opinions are my own. I was compensated by Diet-to-Go for this campaign, who provided me a week of meals to enjoy.

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or basically what I had hanging out in my fridge… Yup that’s pretty much how I came up with this salad. In my never ending quest to live cheaply and play expensively (running all over the place!). I ransacked the fridge last night, around 10pm to be exact because that’s when I finally got home from work and was able to inventory my kitchen for the weekend shopping list. I try to clean out the fridge once a week because our family schedules are so crazy sometimes the fridge gets filled with take out boxes (yuck) and strange things the Mister brings back (I didn’t make that crap!) So… it needed a good cleaning and organizing as usual. I didn’t want any veggies to go bad and I had this random box of small penne pasta hanging around along with some garlic hummus pretty close to it’s expiration date… Hence, my leftover masterpiece! random salad
To make this salad I used the following:
half a box of random pasta, mine was small penne
half a head of broccoli chopped into bite sizes
handfull of vine tomatoes sliced in quaters
black olives
handfull of feta cheese
half a tub of 16oz. of garlic hummus, but you could seriously make your own
dash of italian dressing

To make the salad: I boiled water (duh) according to the pasta directions, about halfway through I added the broccoli and covered it. No need to make more dishes here! Once that finished cooking I drained it… and reserved about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. (This is why you need to read directions fully! lol) I then dumped that in a big bowl, added the tomatoes, black olives, feta and hummus. I then mixed it all up and used the reserved pasta water to thin out the hummus as I was mixing. It makes the salad have a nice creamy texture instead of a glob of cold refriderated hummus chunked through it. (smile!) Last, I added a dash of the italian dressing and presto! You now have a quick (took me like 15 minutes total!) salad that makes a perfect tagalong lunch for work or late night dinner. And the bonus, which I love is that I didn’t waste any food I had on hand but lacked in creativity to cook seperately. This made about four divided servings. Enjoy!

What have been some of your favorite throw together meals?

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I have tried so many different treadmill workouts such as interval training, incline training and just running balls to the wall crazy so that by the end of the workout I am nothing more than a disgusting puddle of hot mess awesomeness. Below is my favorite tried and true workout. It takes some time, about twice a week in the gym but it really helps me focus on increasing the duration of time I’m running at a good hard pace. So good in fact that every time I need to whip myself into shape this is what I do. Right now I am doing this workout slightly modified so I can PR at my next 10k in May. See below for my 5k ass kicking workout.

When getting back in shape after a holiday break, especially during the cold winter months I like to choose a 5k race about 10-12 weeks out from the time I get back into the gym. This workout is helpful for all levels but particularly beginners to intermediates as it can be easily adjusted.

Set your treadmill at a 1-2% incline this is to mimic outdoor running as closely as possible. I begin with a one mile warm up at an easy pace, depending on your fitness level this could be anywhere from an 8 minute mile to a 12 minute mile. Think about running at 50% exertion, so it’s a little more than a jog to warm up. Next set your speed about 10-15 seconds per mile faster than your most recent 5k pace. This is going to be the pace per mile you are working towards for your new PR. Your first workout at this pace will be run for 5 minutes continuously. End the work out by running an easy cool down for about 10-20 minutes. Each week over the next 10-12 weeks you will want to increase the time running your new PR pace by 1 minute per week. By the time the 10-12 weeks are over you should be able to run your 5k race at your new PR pace. I suggest doing this workout at least twice a week with two days of easy running in between.

The workout should take you about 30-40 minutes to complete. Should you experience dry heaves, tone it down or try to work through it as best you can. You certainly don’t want to get sick, but chances are you are not doing the workout correctly. I always feel funny the first 3-4 workouts until I get used to what I am asking my body to do.

What are your favorite workouts for getting back into PR shape?

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