What I’m eating right now

Happy Thursday! I have been having overall success with my weight loss goals so today I thought I would share the things that have been working for me and one major challenge.

While I am definitely down on the scale, I was in a rut for the past month or so, gaining and losing the same 2-3 pounds over and over again. It was very disheartening. To get over this and start making progress again, I decided to try my best to stay within my calorie limits every day and not overcompensate on weekends, like I had been doing. I also started waking up early on weekday mornings and doing yoga which was a challenge but felt really good. I did it all five days last week. This Monday, I hit a snag in that I wanted to nap instead 🙂 but it’s all about getting back on that horse so I started again on Tuesday morning.

tofu
Tofu, butternut squash and bok choy

So now to what I have been eating! It’s basically a whole lot of vegetables, whole grains and protein. A lot of protein, in fact. I made a goal on the Lose It app to get 25% of my calories from protein and I think it has made a difference. If I am hungry at night, I have noticed the best thing for me to eat is some sort of protein (like a leftover chicken cutlet or some deli roast beef). It always seems to do the trick. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I haven’t had too much trouble avoiding things like cake and candy. If I eat sweets it’s usually chocolate of some kind. That’s not to say I don’t love a good dessert, I just don’t find myself craving it most of the time.

In terms of meal planning, I have had a lot of success choosing nearly identical meals to eat for breakfast and lunch in a given week. I just buy or make a bunch of the same ingredients on Sunday and bring them to work for the week. I often eat similar dinners too, but sometimes I go out, so dinner changes depending on my plans. You can see below what a typical weekday of eating looks like in my life.

sample_eating_plan

You will note that I have included wine and/or whiskey 🙂 I often stop for a drink at the local bar after work. Which brings me to my major challenge. I love to go out with my friends and have a few (or more) cocktails. It always starts out innocently enough, but can quickly snowball into a calorie bomb of old-fashioneds and rosé. Knowing this, I’m trying to be more aware of how much I am drinking and drink water in between cocktails as well. I am also trying to be realistic and work drinking into my eating plan, hence why it shows up in my “snacks” section.

eggs
Scrambled eggs with jasmine rice and cucumber salad

On the weekends, I am more flexible. I recently recreated one of my favorite restaurant breakfasts which included jasmine rice, scrambled eggs and cucumber salad (with sesame oil, vinegar, chili paste). It was delicious! The restaurant includes steak but I didn’t have any and the dish was fine without it. I try not to eat eggs except on the weekends, because I suspect they may upset my stomach, but they are a favorite of mine. I have also been avoiding dairy during the week for the same reason.

chickpeapasta
Chickpea pasta with beans and broccoli

I also recently tried chickpea pasta, which I really liked. I combined it with black beans and broccoli and a little basil oil and it was delish! I like trying new products and different fruits and vegetables. It breaks up the monotony of watching what you eat and makes it feel like a fun experiment. I am obviously obsessed with toast and the combo of beet hummus (store bought) and cucumbers shown in the featured photo for this post is one of my new favorites. I have also made my own zucchini hummus which is great on toast as well. I think vegetable hummus is a sneaky way to incorporate more veggies into your diet and it is delicious. In general, I don’t like to follow recipes except for special occasions. I typically just wing it, which I find much less exhausting and much more fun than staring at a recipe on my phone. Still, taking a little extra time to make things look pretty has made a world of difference in how I think about the food that I eat. I highly recommend it!

How about you? What does your typical week look like food-wise? Have you tried any fun new foods recently?

Happy eating, xoxo

Anna

zucchini_hummus
Homemade zucchini hummus on sprouted toast

3 days in San Jose

IMG_6137
Trip to the Sarapaqui River

Hello! I’m back and happy to share the highlights of my recent trip to Costa Rica. I’m going to break the trip up into two posts. Today, I’m sharing what I did during my three days in and around San Jose.

San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, is a busy, noisy, interesting city. It’s a little overwhelming at first, but I found a lot of beauty and hidden gems during my explorations.

Day 1-Arrival, concert at El Cuartel

IMG_6029
A busy street scene in Central San Jose

After arriving in San Jose and settling into my Airbnb, I walked around the center of the city for a while. I stopped at a couple of shops and bought some brightly-colored fabric and lace. I ended up at the Mercado Central, which is an enclosed market with all sorts of different food and craft stalls. It was fun to wander around and see everything being sold. I bought a variety of food to go including empanadas, fruit and chicken.

At night, I decided to go to The Public House, which was described as an Irish Pub. Uber now works in San Jose, so I gave it a try and was able to get a car right away. Unfortunately, since there are no real addresses in San Jose, we couldn’t find the pub. I ended up going to El Cuartel de la Boca del Monte, which is a bar, restaurant and music venue in Barrio la California. I stumbled into a band rehearsal for Easy Rider, a classic-rock cover band. I was welcomed warmly and even got a shout out from the band during their concert, which was extra special. I also tried a traditional Costa Rican dish called Chifrijo. It is a mixture of rice, tomatoes, beans and fried pork pieces and it is insanely delicious. I loved this bar so much that I returned on Monday evening for their famous music night.

IMG_6052
A booth at Mercado Central
IMG_6047
Spices at Mercado Central
IMG_6066
Chifrijo at El Cuartel

 

IMG_6135
Tropical flowers

Day 2-River cruise and horseback ride, movie

For Day 2, I booked a river cruise and horseback ride in the jungle. It was an easy, relaxing day. We were transported by boat along the Sarapaqui River, where we saw monkeys, iguanas and crocodiles. We ended up at a lovely house in the jungle where we ate lunch and could choose between horseback riding or zip lining. I chose horseback riding, which was pretty comical as my horse, Paloma, clearly did not want to be doing the tour and keep trying to run me into low-hanging branches. It was still enjoyable, though. After that, we took the boat back to our original location and headed back to San Jose.

There are so many tours you can book out of San Jose including zip lining, hikes through the cloud forest, hot springs, volcano tours and so much more. I had originally booked two tours, the river cruise and a combo tour of the Arenal Hanging Bridges, Volcano and Hot Springs. When the second got cancelled, I decided not to book another tour, which I think made for a more relaxing trip, but I was a little sad not to see the bridges and hot springs. And, while I enjoyed bumming around San Jose on Day 3, I feel like I missed some of the more exciting adventures that Costa Rica has to offer. I guess I will just have to go back 🙂

IMG_6124
Paloma going off trail
IMG_6141
Our boat on the Sarapaqui River
IMG_6162
Cine Magaly in Barrio la California

At night, I went back to Barrio La California and saw Lady Bird at Cine Magaly. It was a beautiful theater and a great movie (conveniently in English with Spanish subtitles). I ended up liking the feel of this neighborhood quite a bit and would recommend a visit to anyone spending time to San Jose.

IMG_6184
Museo del Jade

Day 3-Museo del Jade, walking around and craft shopping

On the third day, I went to the Museo del Jade. It had some interesting exhibits featuring pre-columbian life in Costa Rica. I especially liked the top floor which had shelves and shelves of fantastic pottery. I enjoyed the museum but I’m not sure it is worth the entry fee of $20.

IMG_6193
Pottery at Museo del Jade

After the museum I walked to the Museo National de Costa Rica. It was closed, but it has a beautiful park (Plaza de la Democracia y de la Abolición del Ejército) on one side and on the other side is Calle 17, a pedestrian street with fantastic murals (see the featured photo for this post). From there, I made my way to Chieton Moren, which is a fair-trade craft store I had read about. Each piece in the store is labeled with the name of town and craftsperson who created it. They had a great selection of interesting hand crafts in a range of prices. After shopping, I had a late lunch/early dinner at a small restaurant across the street. Casados are offered by most restaurants and are a typical Costa Rican dish. A casado is a large plate with meat, rice, beans, salad and a vegetable stew (not really sure what this was but it was delicious). At around 3500 colones ($6.00), they are a good and filling budget option.

IMG_6240
Chieton Moren: A great fair-trade craft store
IMG_6233
A delicious casado de pollo
IMG_6279
A fountain near the Teatro National
IMG_6242
Afternoon sunlight over San Jose

After eating, I walked past the Teatro National and through Plaza de la Cultura and made my way back to my apartment. In the evening, I went to Stiefel Pub, which was cute and has a large selection of craft beers. On my way to the pub, I walked past groups of political demonstrators who were voicing their opinions on the hotly contested and polarizing Costa Rican presidential election, which was to be held on April 1. It was fun and interesting to get a glimpse into local politics.

In the evening, I went back to El Caurtel de la Boca del Monte and enjoyed the music and had a shot of chiliguaro, which is a local liquor called guaro mixed with tomato juice, hot sauce and lime.

IMG_6298
Political demonstrators

San Jose may not be the most picturesque city, but I enjoyed it immensely. Everyone was friendly and welcoming and very patient with my very basic Spanish language skills. The food was fresh and delicious and the nightlife was interesting. It is not recommended to walk around alone at night, but I had a very positive experience using Uber to get around. It was cheap and reliable and made me feel safe going out at night alone.

How about you? Have you been to Costa Rica or San Jose? What was your experience?

And stay tuned for my next post on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

xoxo Anna

A salad to brighten winter days

February and early March are always a little difficult to get through in New York, with the lingering storms and grey days. You can feel spring right around the corner but it hasn’t materialized yet. But, this salad is so fresh and light that it made me immediately think of warmer, sunnier times to come.

It is also super simple and delicious. You can use any lettuce you like. I chose butter lettuce because it is my absolute favorite. Lately I have been eating a salad almost every day for dinner with the basil oil vinaigrette below, a handful of pumpkin seeds and sometimes an avocado. If you haven’t tried basil oil, I highly recommend it. For today’s salad, I decided to add a blood orange and a little crumbled queso fresco. I really liked the results. It also fits nicely into my current healthy eating plan. I am not usually a fan of fruit in salads, but the blood orange paired nicely with the other components and it certainly is photogenic 🙂 Try it out and let me know what you think.

salad4

salad1

 

Butter lettuce salad with blood orange, avocado and basil dressing

(makes one to two servings)

Ingredients

Butter lettuce

1 blood orange

Queso fresco (crumbled, about a 1/3 cup)

1/2 an avocado (sliced)

Handful of sprouted pumpkin seeds (I use these)

Vinaigrette

1 part white wine vinegar

2 parts olive oil

2 parts basil oil (I use this)

salt and pepper to taste

salad2

Preparation

Wash and dry your lettuce and set aside or use a packaged variety to save time (which is what I did). Peel the blood orange and cut horizontally into 1/2 inch slices. Set aside. Crumble the queso fresco. Slice avocado. Layer salad starting with lettuce base then adding blood oranges, avocado, cheese and pumpkin seeds. Dress with desired amount of vinaigrette. Add a sprinkle of sea salt and fresh ground pepper if you like.

Enjoy!

xoxo Anna

salad5

 

Elimination diet here I come

dinner
Gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free dinner

Confession time… my stomach has never been great 😦 But recently things got to a point where it was actually interfering with my life and work. I felt a major shift was in order in the way I approached food and stress, as stomach problems can definitely be caused by the later. So for the next 3 weeks I will be following a basic elimination diet; no dairy, no gluten, no alcohol, no added sugar, no soy. Those are the big ones but there are a few more random things as well. Wish me luck! I have to say, once I made the decision I felt relieved and had fun shopping for new and interesting alternatives to my usual go-to foods.

I’m also cutting out caffeine because, why not! I stopped drinking coffee about a week ago and found that it really helped my stomach as well as my ability to relax. I have  been a die-hard coffee fanatic since college, drinking somewhere between 2 and 4 large cups a day. I was always the one at meetings with a coffee cup in hand. I didn’t hate tea, I just didn’t think of myself as a tea drinker. Truthfully, I think I was a little suspicious (insert side-eye) of anybody who would choose tea over coffee. But now that I am a week in to my new tea-drinking life, I have to say I’m feeling happy and liberated. Tea comes in so many varieties and it is fun to shop for. I have been sticking with herbal teas rather than decaf teas and coffee because I think there is still some caffeine in decaf. I haven’t been missing the caffeine that much and it seems like I might have more energy and focus, which is counterintuitive but I have heard sometimes that happens when you give up caffeine. I also made my own herbal iced tea (pictured at top) with 3 packets of peach tea, one packet of raspberry tea, some lemon juice and agave nectar. My next purchase will be a nice tea pot. Any recommendations?

In terms of stress, I have started meditating in the morning and doing yoga. I have been using the Headspace and Gaia apps. I have meditated/done yoga before but never regularly but I hope to change that. Plus the Headspace app has a great British man leading the meditations who is somehow so soothing to listen to 🙂

How about you? What are your thoughts on elimination diets, tea vs coffee, and stress-reduction strategies?

newproducts
New products I will be trying
avocado
Avocado for healthy fats
tea3
Tea for morning, noon and night!

xoxo Anna

Easy sweet and sour pickled veggies

img_3735

img_3733

The older I get the more I like, (am obsessed with?) pickled vegetables. This recipe is simple and inspired by the daikon radish pickles served at Korean restaurants.

Ingredients/Equipment

Organic cane sugar

Vinegar (I used a combination of brown rice vinegar and champagne vinegar because that is what I had 🙂 In the past I have also used rice wine vinegar.)

Vegetables (I used carrots, daikon radishes, and red cabbage)

Turmeric (optional)

Glass jars for pickling

Process

This is a fairly loose recipe. The first thing to do is prepare your vegetables. I grated my carrots, thinly sliced my daikon using that thing on the side of the cheese grater, and finely sliced my cabbage. I used the size of the pickling jars as a guideline for how much of each vegetable to cut. Once vegetables are cut, I packed them somewhat loosely in my jars.

The next step is to determine how much pickling liquid you will need. I do this by adding up the volume of the containers that I will be pickling in. This gives you a rough idea of how much liquid you will need. You will probably have some left over because the vegetables take up some of the room in the jars. For the pickling liquid, you will make up half that amount with vinegar and half with sugar. So if you need 16 oz (2 cups) of liquid use 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup sugar. Place your vinegar and sugar is a stock pot. If you are using turmeric add in a small amount at this point. A teaspoon should be enough unless you are making a really large amount of pickling liquid. Turmeric will give your radishes a bright yellow color, so I use it for them but not the other vegetables. Bring the mixture to a boil stirring to dissolve sugar and turmeric if you are using. Remove the mixture from the heat. Let it cool down a little. Pour slowly over your vegetables in their jars. Close jars and refrigerate overnight.

After they have spent the night absorbing the pickling liquid, your pickles are ready to eat! Here are some ideas for how to use them:

  1. Make a grain bowl with pickled vegetables, tofu, sesame oil, sautéed kale and peanut sauce.
  2. Serve pickles over an arugula salad with tahini dressing, burger patties and feta cheese.
  3. Add them to lettuce wraps with lentils, coconut rice and cilantro dressing.

How about you? Have you made your own quick pickles? If so, how did you use them?

img_3734.jpg

img_3738

IMG_3743

IMG_3745

IMG_3746

img_3763

xoxo Anna

Nice and Paris highlights

IMG_0734
Cap D’Ail
IMG_0617
Salade Nicoise

From Dublin, I made my way to Nice, France. You can read about my time in Ireland here. I was originally supposed to meet a friend in Nice but because of a travel snafu, I ended up flying solo for my week on the French Riviera. Here are my favorite moments…

Watching locals jumping off the pier at Castel Plage

I spent a lot of my time in Nice at the beach. Following tips I read on the internet, I splurged on private beaches. The going rate for a towel and beach chair was around 20 euros for the day. Since I was alone, it allowed me to safely leave my belongings on my chair and go for a swim. On my first day I went to Castel Plage, conveniently located at the end of the Promenade des Anglais. I felt pretty chic sunning on my beach chair, drinking mojitos and watching acrobatic locals jumping of a nearby rock outcrop. My only complaint (really more of an annoyance with myself) was that I kept forgetting to bring reading material. Oh well, I guess I’ll get another mojito and people-watch some more! Most beaches in and around Nice are composed of pebbles of varying sizes. Some are large, like rocks, and some a tiny and more like sand. Castel Plage had the first, making it a little uncomfortable to get in and out of the water. My favorite beach for swimming was Beaulieu-sur-mer, which I went to on my second day. This was a tiny pebble beach and was very comfortable to walk on. After Beaulieu, I visited Villefranche-sur-mer which has a lovely old town. I had an excellent dinner at Les Garcons followed by coconut gelato overlooking the harbor.

IMG_0671
Fresh vegetables at the market in Nice
IMG_0641
Villefranche-sur-mer

Eating socca and farcis

Socca is a crispy, thin chickpea pancake and a traditional street food in Nice. Farcis is vegetables (I had tomatoes and zucchini) stuffed with a ground meat mixture. I sampled both of these classics at Lou Pilha Leva at Place Centrale. After ordering at the counter I settled at one of the communal outdoor tables to eat, where I was immediately engaged in conversation by the other guests. I had a fun time practicing my French with actual French people in actual France 🙂

IMG_0712
View from the citadel in Entrevaux

A rainy day in Entrevaux

The Train des Pigne runs from Nice through Haute Province to Digne-Les-Bains. I decided to take the train to Entreveaux, a small medieval town along the route. The views along the way were magnificent. Entreveaux itself is a sweet, little walled village with winding, narrow streets and a high citadel. For a small price you can take a self-guided tour of the ramparts and visit the citadel. The ramparts contain a strange, somewhat comical museum of sorts which has dioramas about the history of the town. It started to rain while I was exploring. I dodged into a small shop to avoid the rain and ended up having an extended and lovely conversation with the shop owner in broken French. When the rain subsided I hiked to the top of the citadel and explored the ruins. It was quite a hike, but well worth it for the views and the citadel itself. There were no restaurants open inside the town so I ended the day at a small café across the street from the entry bridge. They were not serving dinner but the shop owner made me the most delicious jambon et beurre avec cornichons (ham and butter with pickles) and I sat on the porch drinking coffee and watching the rain for quite a while before catching the train back to Nice.

IMG_0733
Cap D’Ail

Getting lost on the way to the beach in Cap D’Ail

On my last day in Nice, I decided to go to Cap D’Ail by train. When I got off the train, I tried to make my way to the beach, but couldn’t find it. I figured if I walked in the direction of the water I would find it, but ended up getting more and more lost. I was wandering along a random road when I spotted a local driving by and asked for directions. They instructed me to climb over a fence and some rocks to get to a pathway that ran right along the sea. The path turned out to be magical, running up and down along rocky outcrops with the turquoise Mediterranean waves splashing below. Unfortunately, it ended in a locked gate. The gate was high and I couldn’t climb over. To get around I would have to scale the side rail and suspend myself over a 30 ft drop to the water before climbing over the side rail on the other side. I had spent 20 minutes on the path and didn’t want to turn around and go back. A woman passed by on the other side and tried to help (I’m pretty sure I looked mildly crazy clutching the bars) but there really wasn’t any way so she moved on. Finally, I decided to risk it and climb around the gate. 30 or so seconds later, during which I questioned all my life decisions, I was over and on my way to the beach. The beach at Cap D’Ail was stunning and I quickly forgot my adventure in haze of swimming, sun and more mojitos. Comically enough, on the way home from the beach I found out there was a stairway that went to the beach just a little further down the random road I was walking on. Oh well!

From Nice I flew to Paris for the last 3 days of my trip.

3 relaxed days in Paris

I ended up meeting my friend in Paris. It was so nice to see a good friend after all my solo adventuring. We had both been to Paris before and had covered most of the major touristy stuff, so we had a relaxed three days wandering around shopping and eating. We were staying in Bellville near the Parc de Buttes Chaumont so we had a picnic there (which involved a trip to the local grocery store, one of my favorite things to do on vacation). We also had a fancy dinner at Pirouette in Les Halles (super!) and found a bunch of really cute boutiques to shop in. I am guilty of buying some clothing at H&M. However, I am convinced I made different decisions because I was in Paris, and my purchases have mostly stood the test of time.

IMG_0784
Pigeon for dinner at Pirouette
IMG_0798
Rosé for days at the supermarche

I also got a tattoo 🙂 I had been wanting to get a tattoo in Paris since the last time I visited and spontaneously decided to do it. However, I didn’t choose the best place and the tattoo didn’t stand the test of time. Instead of a tiny heart (so cute!) it ended up looking like an amorphous blob on my wrist (not so cute!), so I recently had to have it touched up (cute again!). No regrets, tho!

IMG_0828
Last meal in Paris

Then it was back to my other favorite city, NYC. I will be sharing details of the souvenirs I bought in Ireland and France, as well as my strategies for choosing souvenirs and gifts while on vacation, in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!

 

Pear sauce fizz

IMG_3178

IMG_3181

I had it in my head to make a cocktail using canned pears. Oddly enough, I couldn’t find a can of pears at either of the stores I went to. However, I did see this jar of organic pear sauce (think applesauce but with pears) and this drink was born. My taste testers labeled it “cracktacular” and I would have to agree. It is refreshing, but at the same time sort of earthy, making it perfect for all seasons. The measurements are approximate and can be adjusted to suit your taste buds. Try it yourself and let me know what you think!

IMG_3183

Ingredients (makes 4-5 cocktails)

1/2 C white sugar

1/2 C + 2/3 C water

handful of fresh rosemary plus more sprigs for garnish

1 C pear sauce (I used this)

1/3 to 1/2 C rum (I used Due North, which has a slight whiskey taste)

 

lime wedges

bottle of chilled Prosecco (I used Terra Serena, which is a great option for the value)

IMG_3188

The first step is to make a rosemary simple syrup. Begin by combining the sugar with 1/2 C of water in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and boil briefly until the sugar is all dissolved and a syrup forms. Remove from heat. Crush up the rosemary in your hand to release the natural flavor, then mix with the simple syrup and let rest for 20-30 minutes. Drain the syrup through a strainer and set aside.

In a large glass or metal bartenders cup mix pear sauce, 2/3 C water, rum, and 5-6 T rosemary simple syrup. Squeeze a quarter lime wedge into the mixture. I recommend stirring and tasting as you add each ingredient to see if the drink suits your taste. I started out with 1/3 C of rum then decided to add more. I did the same with the rosemary syrup, adding a T at a time until I could just taste the rosemary.

IMG_3309

To build the cocktail fill your cocktail glass 1/3-1/2 full with the pear concoction. Top with prosecco to fill the glass and garnish with a rosemary sprig. I squeezed a little extra lime on top of each cocktail and didn’t regret it 🙂 Happy sipping!!!

IMG_3318