Blueberry Bonanza Smoothie

Kind of a silly name, but it’s more fun to say than “blueberry muffin smoothie” (hello, generic).  This one’s a bit thick, so the blender may have to work a little harder.  Feel free to throw in some spinach, too!

Blueberry Bonanza

Resolutions Revisited

Seeing as the “first quarter” of the new year just ended, I wanted to take some time to reflect on the goals and changes I so excitedly put together at the beginning of the year.  By this time, most people have let their resolutions fall by the wayside, especially if they involved strict diet plans or weight loss goals.  I’m definitely focused on change this year, but I all but forgot about my specific written goals until I sat down to streamline all my files and lists into a logical system (a topic for another post).

 

Remember this?

Remember this?

Aside from conscious changes, a lot has changed for me since January 1, in ways and timing that I wouldn’t have bet on.  Many of the resolutions I made focused on developing Balancing Active—posting regularly, getting representative photos of myself, and writing revolutionary content.  However, this was assuming I would be blogging on the side of my full time accounting job, and that it would serve as my main creative outlet after 10 hours of monotony.  Little did I know that I’d have the opportunity to leave my accounting position and set out making a living doing what I love—cooking.

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Dinner for a Week (#3)

I went on a bit of a gourmet spree for this menu–two of four dinners are pretty involved, but at least the other two are relatively simple!  My latest issue of Cooks’ Illustrated was taunting me for a couple weeks, and by the time we returned from vacation I was itching to cook up the succulent beef tacos featured in the March/April ’14 issue.  Now I see Steve’s motivation in getting me this subscription for Christmas…sneaky sneaky.  To his credit, it’s working out to his advantage.

Dinner for a Week #3 menu

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10 Steps to Recipe Following Success

How to Follow a One Dish Recipe

Recipe Following Steps 1

It’s harder than it sounds, right?  If you ever find yourself stressed while following a “simple” recipe, I guarantee you’re not alone.  Even now, after 20 years (yeesh!) of following recipes, I’ll get completely flustered midway through cooking because, oh my gosh, I forgot to chop that garlic I’m supposed to add now.  Raise your hand if you can relate.

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Disappointing News about Olive Oil

Last night, I attended an olive oil tasting at the beautiful Olivette specialty food store.  It was a lot to take in for an amateur, but a few points stood out to me.  Want the bad news first?  Okay.  When it comes to shopping for extra virgin olive oil at a supermarket or grocery store, there is no way to know for sure if your oil is blended with other plant oils, or to determine the oil’s quality without tasting it.  No, not even price is a consistent indicator.

 

In fact, we blind tasted an oil that retails for $29.99 per bottle, relatively expensive, and was among the worst we tasted (see below for what constitutes “bad”).  I used to think that, if nothing else, a more expensive bottle of oil would be the best bet, hands down.  The only other time I visited Olivette, just before Christmas, this was my assumption.  When I saw that many of their medium sized bottles of EVOO sell for under $20, I actually questioned the quality.  The owner’s knowledge and passion for her product put my fears to rest, and I think it’s safe to say that rather than winging it at the grocery store, I’ll purchase my EVOO, at least those I intend to use raw, from Olivette or other specialty stores.

Meeting the chefs/owner at some of my favorite CT restaurants (The Whelk and LeFarm) after class!

Meeting the chefs/owner at some of my favorite CT restaurants (The Whelk and LeFarm) after class!

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Dinner for a Week (#2)

When I created the menu for this week of meals, before writing out the grocery list, I thought the shopping list would keep me stuck at the grocery store for two hours and explode my budget, because there were a lot of ingredients and a lot of dishes, especially taking into account the pot luck party snacks I was making for Super Bowl festivities.  Don’t be intimidated, though!  I was pleasantly surprised at the overlap of ingredients between meals, from vegetables to rice (prepared on Monday for the whole week) to spices.  Pantry staples abound as well–if you have a decently well-stocked baking supply, you won’t need many additional ingredients to make these rich (and tipsy) brownies.

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What I Ate on Vacation—without Gaining a Pound

Well hello, Balancing Active—long time, no see!  We just got back from vacation and I’m finally getting my bearings to get back on the blog train.  It’s been way too long, and I have lots of posts swirling around in my brain (and on random Post-It notes everywhere), so look for more to come soon.

We're on vacation!

We’re on vacation!

To start, I wanted to share the results of what was kind of a forced experiment in eating while on vacation.  I say forced because we were “confined” (poor us) to a cruise ship for about five of our days away, which limits the options as far as what to eat, even more so than vacation normally would.  You hear stories of cruise-goers gaining a pound a day on vacation, and I really did not want that to be me, especially given the amount of time I’d spend in a bikini.  My workouts would also be limited, as I wanted to focus on enjoying an action-packed music festival style ship, rather than on getting to a (crowded and hot) gym everyday.  Running on the treadmill while trying to get my sea legs and going from 15 to 75 degree weather?  No thanks. Continue reading

At Home Strength Workout 1: More Fitness Bang for Your Buck

If “buck” = time.  Prior to June 2013, I was as much a cardio loyalist as most girls in the gym.  The rise of crossfit is changing the landscape, but I think many women, if they need or want to lose weight, still turn to running, the elliptical, spin, Zumba, etc.  My bum knee has continued to not cooperate, however, so I’ve been involuntarily experimenting with more lifting and less traditional cardio in my fitness regimen to stay fit and toned without subjecting myself to a diet of lettuce, lettuce, and more lettuce (which, by the way, I do not recommend no matter what your workout routine is or isn’t).  And guess what.  It’s working.

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