There’s Something About…

There’s something about carrying three backpacks to campus that reminds me of front-packing in Italy.

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There’s something about carrying a large box of vegetables around all day that makes others stare a bit.

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My friend Lauren orders a box of produce from Ward’s Berry Farms every week, but she very generously gave me hers last week since she was out of town! This thing had SO MUCH PRODUCE. The only thing was that I had to pick it up in the afternoon, carry it to class, to a fitness class, to Trader Joe’s, and on the bus. Talk about functional fitness.

There’s something about taking a fitness class with fellow healthy living/fitness social media influencers that makes me feel empowered and humbled at the same time.

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Last Thursday, Colby invited me to take a “Firestarter” HIIT class taught by her friend, Sam (@wellbysamantha), at Equinox (holy LUXURY gym!) in the financial district. It was a quick, sweaty and super fun class!

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My dear friend Christina (@foodietunes) was also present and kicking butt!

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There’s something about pizza (even if it’s just a frozen one from Trader Joe’s) on a Friday night.

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There’s something about finding a beer you enjoy.

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There’s something about said beer that makes me slightly loopy (not the primary reason I enjoyed it, just a side effect).

There’s something about caring friends who give me bread rolls to eat when seeing me loopy.

There’s something about the Game of Things that makes my friends and me cry of laughter every time.

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There’s something about people who say thank you when you hold the door open for them that makes your day just *that* much better.

There’s something about eating a smoothie out of a bowl that makes it 10x more satisfying than drinking it from a glass through a straw.

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There’s something about getting random texts from your friends about little things like tacos (@Sarah) that makes me so grateful for friendship (and technology).

There’s something about boxing that is addicting. I don’t think I’ve loved a form of training so much so quickly!!

There’s something about vegan ice cream that seems wrong to me, but it is still very so delicious.

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Confession: I bought this for Colby on the fourth of July since she eats dairy-free, but she left before dessert, so I took it for myself.

There’s something about the Vermonster from Ben & Jerry’s on National Ice Cream Day that feels so right (slightly gross, but overall so right).

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Alright, so the Vermonster. Twenty (yep) scoops of ice cream, four toppings, four whole bananas, caramel, fudge, four cookies, a brownie, and a mountain of whipped cream. In a bucket.

It took six of us (although we definitely could have used 8-10 people) plus a lot of rallying from Ben to finish it.

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We got five flavors (four scoops of each), but they all muddled together anyway. It was a delicious mess.

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Gluttony? Yep. Good for your health? Depends on how you look at it. Happiness? Yep. Doing it again? Probably never.

This summer is bringing a lot of ice cream into my body.

There’s something about great friends who are great study buddies that makes school fun.

There’s something about listening to old songs I forgot I loved (Natasha Bedingfield’s “These Words” and “Love Like This“) that makes me smile.

There’s something (infinite things) about how God works that is mysterious, not always what I want at the moment, yet always more beautiful than I could imagine.

So tell me:

“There’s something about…”

Have you recently rediscovered any old songs you loved?

Did you celebrate National Ice Cream Day?

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Thoughts On “Getting Back On Track” After Vacation

It’s only been a week since we got back home from vacation, and we’ve gone through two bunches of bananas already.

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I didn’t ask a question, but thanks for the answer anyway, Madre 🙂

Last week was as great a week of work as any could have been after vacation. I am so grateful for wonderful coworkers and mentors who make my job so enjoyable.

Let’s talk about “getting back on track” after a vacation.

After having three (or five) course meals for dinner every night on the cruise and heavier-than-normal breakfasts every morning, I was looking forward to a little bit of a break from endless food (although, I definitely chose to indulge in more food on the cruise). You could say that I was looking forward to “getting back on track”.

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my first meal back at home was classic avocado egg toast

But when I think of “getting back on track”, the first things that I’m tempted to do are:

  • Cut out all desserts for the next month.
  • Eat “clean” (whatever the heck that means) 100% of the time for the next month.
  • Compensate for the amount I ate on vacation by cutting down the amount/density/volume of food I eat.
  • Be strict about exercising and doing the “right” kind of exercise to maximize calorie burn.

Hear me out: These are just the first things that pop into my mind when I get back home. However, I’ve learned that this kind of absolutist mindset does me a huge disservice, and it stresses me out more than anything, which I don’t need for my digestive health or overall health.

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Pop and I went out to dinner the night we got back because we didn’t have any groceries yet // vegetable bibimbap + Kalbi beef short ribs to share

I definitely did NOT eat “clean” 100% of the time before the vacation, so why do I need to change anything after vacation? I’m still working, exercising, doing my activities of daily living, etc. Those still require fuel. I also often like to eat something sweet after a long day of work, so I don’t really want to deprive myself of that.

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still lots of sweet breakfasts (that sometimes had ADDED sugars in them *gasp*)

This doesn’t mean that I still want a three course meal with a decadent dessert every night. All I wanted was dried figs (which have quite a lot of sugar in them, even if it’s natural sugar) with Greek yogurt for a few nights last week, so that’s what I had.

Other days, I did still have some not-as-natural sugars. Like a slice of homemade banana bread at work, a Reese’s egg…also from work, and this snickerdoodle ice cream sandwich for National Ice Cream Day.

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You might be thinking, “Sure, Alison. But what if I actually gained a lot of weight on vacation?”

Well, I am in agreement with many wise RDs (like Robyn!) and healthy living bloggers; without too much thought, our bodies tend to naturally shift back to our happy weight. You’re going to be hitting your regular workouts again, which I presume worked well for you before vacation. You’re going to be back to your own kitchen, and you’re not going to have access to as much food as on vacation anyway.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with consciously and deliberately eating healthier and/or lighter foods after vacation. I just don’t think it’s helpful to shift to any kind of extreme “cleanse” mode. 

You went on vacation to get away from everyday routine for a little bit. Let yourself enjoy that during the vacation, but don’t let it haunt you after the vacation.

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spicy honey chicken thighs (based on this recipe) + roasted green beans for a dinner last week ➔ this was SO GOOD!

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turkey quinoa taco bake with avocado and cilantro (and Greek yogurt added post-photo) based on this recipe for another night ➔ this was ALSO SO GOOD

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avocado egg toast + salad with homemade honey mustard dressing

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hunk o’ asiago sourdough

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quinoa with teriyaki chicken thighs + chicken spinach sausage + sautéed green beans a la Madre

It’s nice to be back in the kitchen to make our own nutritious food, but it was nice that none of us felt the need to eat oil-less, dry chicken breasts with steamed vegetables and brown rice every day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s kind of sad if you feel like you need to do that as “recompense”. I know I used to feel that way.

If you do want to “get back on track,” maybe focus more on the quality and nutrients of your food rather than the calories or amount. Eat what you know you need and what you know makes you feel genuinely good, whether that’s kale or chocolate cake. Treat Trust yoself.

Needless to say, I still indulged in some sweets and rich foods this week. For the most part though, I’ve been eating foods that I normally love, which are generally nutritious and delicious. As for workouts, those have also been the same (a post about my workouts is coming soon!).

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I got Ben on the overnight oats train *high fives*

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lots of perfect cado-avos

My family even decided to go out for a rather fancy dinner on Saturday night after Mass. We were planning on using a Groupon (of course) at a Thai restaurant, but it was closed. Thus, we were diverted to a nice Greek restaurant called MP Taverna that we had been wanting to try for a while.

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three dips to share // chickpea (with some extraordinary spices), eggplant, and cucumber yogurt

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“dumplings”: basically the fluffiest ricotta gnocchi you can imagine in a tomato-based sauce with spinach, lamb sausage, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, and feta #dead

Hooray for family time and outdoor lighting! 🙂

Yesterday I hung out with my good friend Joe from college in the city! We celebrated National Ice Cream Day with ice cream sandwiches from Melt Bakery on High Line.

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We ate lunch after dessert, which is extra acceptable on National Ice Cream Day. Joe actually suggested salads, which was shocking but welcomed.

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I think there were tomatoes, roasted red peppers, broccoli, beets and brussels sprouts in there with creamy sriracha dressing

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you literally asked for it, Joe

It was so good catching up with him and walking around, despite the fact that we were being slow-cooked by the NYC heat.

I hope you all have a fantastic week! Eat foods that are fluffy, cheesy, creamy, and spicy this week. Report back on Friday.

So tell me:

What are your thoughts on “getting back on track” after vacation?

Did you celebrate National Ice Cream Day?

Two things you did this weekend!

Things My Dad Says

This post is brought to you by Pop (aka my dad).

Pop and I had a very low-key weekend— nothing extraordinary, but everything a relaxing weekend should be. This meant that I got to spend lots of quality time with Pop and really listen to some of the insightful, ridiculous, and funny things he has to say (and do).

Our Friday night consisted of some slow cooker split pea soup, which was thick, naturally creamy, and reminiscent of my childhood.

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My dad is going easy on the carbs lately, so he’s been loving cheese and fruit plates with a few 34 Degrees crisps for “dessert”.

*FaceTiming with bro and mom*

Dad: “Alison’s making me a cheese plate! Just like on the cruise!”

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Natural 34 Degrees crisps with peach slices, dried figs, and goat chese

We woke up to a stormy morning on Saturday, and because I thought the world should know this immediately, I snapchatted the weather from my bed.

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Rainy Saturday mornings basically require hot oats for breakfast. A bowl for Pop and a bowl for moi.

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banana chia egg white oats with peanut butter

*Sky Full of Stars starts playing on my Spotify*

Dad: “Oooo! ‘Cause you’re a skyyyy, you’re a skyyy….’*starts raising the roof*

The rest of my day was pretty lazy. I did a barre workout from Youtube, caught up on blog reading, ate a delicious lunch, and used up some more Blend swag (STILL!!!).

*Dad sees my lunch.*

Dad: “Mmmm that looks really good!”

Me: ……… “Do you want the same thing?”

Dad: “Can you make an egg white version?” *smiles*

Me: “Mhmm.”

It makes me chuckle and makes me happy when he subtly suggests that he wants me to make him food 🙂

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avocado toast with a sunny egg + salad with maple mustard dressing + leftover Asian turkey

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afternoon smoothie with Gnarly vanilla protein powder (from Blend), milk, frozen banana, and peanut butter

I think this might be my favorite vanilla protein powder ever! (No sponsorship.)

Coming back from church….

Me: “I’m doing the barefoot mile tomorrow.”

Dad: (after a few seconds) “Barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen!…Have you heard that saying before?”

Me: “What does that mean?”

Dad: “I think it was an antifeminist saying during World War II or something.”

Me: “Hm, well it sounds like me.”

Dad: “What??”

Me: “The saying sounds like me.”

Dad: “You’re barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen???”

Me: “The barefoot in the kitchen part at least.”

Dad: “Oh! I was about to have a heart attack! I thought maybe you knew something that we didn’t!”

Me: “DAD! No!”

Later at night….

Dad: (Excitedly) “Do you wanna help me sign some checks?” [for church collection]

Me: “…..Kayyyyy.”

Dad: “We’ll have a check signing party!”

Me: *nods* “Yeeeeep.”

P.S. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about with the barefoot mile, the wonderful and inspiring Emily invited me via Facebook to Joy International’s Global Barefoot Mile on Sunday. Basically, you walk a mile barefoot in solidarity with all the children in Cambodia and other third world countries who have no shoes and who are victims of sex trafficking.

You can donate at Joy International’s website!

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It hurt, but that just made the walk more meaningful.

It’s also been HOT and HUMID this weekend!!! You step outside and you can’t breathe for a second.

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to cool down on Sunday afternoon: Quest peanut butter protein powder (from Blend also) blended with ice and milk

Dad and I made a trip to Costco to stock up on essentials for the next couple weeks, and our pickup included this beautiful wild caught salmon. I baked it at 400F for 12 minutes with some olive oil, balsamic, honey, and black pepper.

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Yep, lots for leftovers for the week! Served with soba noodles and maple mustard salad.

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In the words of Emeril: BAM!

Dad: “That salmon was so amazing, I can’t believe it!”

Me: “Oh thanks…” *nervous laugh*

Dad: …….. “I meant that it’s incredible how good it tastes. I didn’t mean it like that. That wasn’t meant to reflect you. You brought out the freshness of the salmon.”

Me: “I’m glad you liked it.” 🙂

Last but not least, my friend Michael took Daliza and me to Dairy Queen for our first time ever last night! Appropriate for National Ice Cream Day, eh? (<—Canadian side emerging.)

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The place was hoppin’ at 9 PM on a Sunday. Maybe because it’s one of two Dairy Queens in our tristate area. Maybe because the heat compels people to get ice cream.

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Mint Oreo Blizzard jeah jeahhhhh. They didn’t do the flip-the-cup-upside-down to show you how thick and creamy the blizzard is. I’ll forgive them though because the heat was making the ice cream melt faster than the Wicked Witch of the West.

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And that, my friends, is my weekend in a {rather large} nutshell. I love you, Dad ♥

Hope you all have a fantastic week ahead!

So tell me:

Do any of your parents, aunts/uncles, grandparents say funny things all the time? My mom is also a hoot.

Did you celebrate National Ice Cream Day?

Was it hot in your neck of the woods?