FOOD

Munchie Monday: Taco Salad Recipes

Hi and welcome back to Life in Progress! Recently I made a ridiculously good Taco Salad so i figured i would briefly share how I made it! Below are the ingredients I used.

  • Brown Rice
  • Dried Black Beans
  • Frozen Organic Corn
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 1 Head of Romaine Lettuce
  • 1 bag of Spinach
  • Trader Joe’s Soyrizo
  • Trader Joe’s Fiesta Cashew Queso Dip
  • Trader Joe’s Chili Lime Seasoning
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Salt

Basically, I combined the brown rice, corn, half the onion (chopped), and the seasonings in a rice cooker and cooked those for an hour stirring occasionally. While that cooked I added 1 cup of the dried and rinsed black beans to a pot of boiling water and reduced it to a simmer and covered it. I let that simmer until there was almost no liquid left and then proceeded to season it to my preference and mash the black beans to create homemade refried black beans. While the black beans simmered in a skillet I fried up half of the onion in a splash of olive oil with some minced garlic. Once the onions were almost translucent I added in half of the Trader Joe’s Soyrizo and let it cook through. Once it was cooked through and my rice mixture was finished I through it together and mixed well. I set that aside to cool before storing it in the fridge. While waiting, I rinsed a whole bag of spinach and a head of romaine lettuce. Once rinsed i roughly chopped them and set aside in a bowl for easy access.

I stored everything in separate containers so I could construct the taco salad to my liking each day. I started with about a cup of greens as the base, topped with two spoonfuls of the rice and soyrizo mixture. Then I finished it off with a small scoop of the homemade black beans and Trader Joe’s Fiesta Cashew Queso Dip. I would heat it in the microwave at work for about a minute and then throughly stir to combined all the ingredients. This meal was so good I could eat it for an entire additional week if I had more. The only downside I would say is that the homemade refried black beans took all day to simmer down and that was after they had been soaked overnight in water. I will definitely be making this recipe again, maybe even adding more veggies to it. I figured I would share since it was quick, easy, and healthy. Let me know if you’ve ever made taco salad and how it differs from mine!

LIFE

Superfood Review

Hello and Welcome to Wellness Wednesday! Today I will be reviewing a superfoods blend I recently purchased to increase my overall health. I decided to try the Amazing Grass Green Superfood blend. It comes in a powder that is supposed to last for 30 days. You add one scoop to water, juice or smoothie once a day. I chose the Green Superfood blend mainly because it contained spirulina, chlorella, maca, and a pre and probiotic as well as many other superfoods. I was specifically looking for spirulina, which is a form of bacteria that is high in nutrients and supports immune health. Chlorella is a form of green algae that is known to clear out toxins from your body. I also wanted a pre and probiotic to support gut health. This particular blend had all that and more. I decided to try the berry flavor thinking it would mesh well with smoothies if need be. I have been taking the blend every morning for the past 2 weeks and it is disgusting. It comes out a swampy green color and does not dissolve well. It has a faint taste of berries but mostly just burns my throat. I have resorted to mixing in some crystal light so I can actually drink it. I have tried it in a smoothie once or twice which did help conceal the flavor but not completely. There was still an undertone of ick that I cannot identify. I have noticed that my gut health might be improving because TMI ALERT I have been going to the bathroom more regularly. Overall, I think it is working but it tastes disgusting so I would maybe try it in different flavors.

fitness

Fit Friday: Barre Update

Hello and Happy Friday! Today’s post is going to be an update on my experience taking barre classes. I signed up for Barre classes at a local studio called Studio Barre when they were running a special. It was a 3-week new member unlimited class membership for $59 plus the cost of grip socks. I signed up in person and they were super helpful about talking me through all the options and asking me what my goals are. They even have a cute boutique in the lobby of the studio as well with workout gear including grip socks which is where I got mine.

I started taking classes that weekend and I definitely felt out of place my first class. I was lucky and there was another new student in class the same day so we shared the feeling of awkwardness. The instructor Mel got us set up with the equipment we would need for that class and explained what equipment you would need to grab every class. Once we had our equipment she asked us about our experience with Barre classes or lack thereof. Then she proceeded to explain what the fundamentals of Barre are. She explained that Barre is tiny, targeted movements that focused on one particular muscle to strengthen. She said the main movement of their Barre class is called a “tuck” which is where you squeeze your bellybutton in towards your hips and push your hips forward to align the spine and create a straight back. Simple enough, that move was easy for me to grasp after watching her demo. Then she moved onto explaining what the “seat” was which is the muscles right under your butt on the back of your thigh. Basically you use tiny movements and your mind-body connection to move the muscles in your “seat”. This one is harder to grasp for me because it is not as obvious as the other movements. You have to really focus on what part of your body is squeezing while keeping up with the tiny movements as well. I have taken 8 classes so far and I still feel that I have not fully grasped how to properly work your “seat”.

With that being said I have really enjoyed taking this Barre classes. We start with a warm-up that works your arms and shoulders and then move on to working thighs then seats and then butt and end with abs. I have not experienced a class that I did not shake or feel sore or want to quit in the middle of a movement. Throughout the whole workout, start to finish, you feel your muscles working and know you’re going to be sore. The workouts are difficult but low impact which causes less sweating and is easier on my joints. I still have four more classes to take but I do recommend you try at least 10 classes of Barre because it is a whole different type of workout. I always thought you had to be going 100% all out about to puke to be working out or exercising properly but this has shown me that is not the case.

The studio I attend is also a great community. After I attended my first class they sent me a hand written card welcoming me and offering assistance if I had any questions. Every instructor or front desk attendant knows everyone’s names and things about their life. This is the first place I actually feel a part of a community and not just another membership fee.

Have you ever tried Barre? If you have what did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below and keep an eye out for more posts next week!

FOOD

Munchie Monday: Fiesta Cashew Dip Review

Hey there! This Munchie Monday I wanted to recommend one of my new favorite products that I cannot stop eating! It’s the Trader Joe’s Fiesta Cashew Dip and I am obsessed. It is made from all plant based ingredients with minimal added salt, sugar, and oil. This cheese is thick and creamy and so delicious. I have used it with burritos, tacos, Mexican rice, taco salad, etc. The first time I bought it I almost started eating by the spoonful. It is similar to the type of cashew cheese you can make at home but thicker. It costs around $4.50 at my local Trader Joe’s store but I’d say it is well worth it. Now anytime I make any type of Mexican related dishes I will be adding it to my ingredient list. Because it is so think I don’t think I would just use it as a regular chips and crackers dip. I prefer a runnier consistency for chip dips but mixing it into rice or a taco is perfect!

Let me know below if you have ever tried Trader Joe’s Fiesta Cashew dip and what you thought!

fitness

Fit Friday: OrangeTheory Wrap Up

Happy Friday! Today’s Fit Friday topic is wrapping up my month of OrangeTheory! After my two weeks of sickness I got right back at it and took 4 classes for the last two weeks. They were all really great classes and I thoroughly enjoyed them. There were two types of class setups that really pushed me and my dramatic self thought I might die or puke. The first was called RowGo where you row as hard as you possibly can for 4 minutes straight aiming for at least 800 meters. Once the 4 minutes are over we moved to the weight floor and proceeded to do the sets given. After that we went back to the rowers to row for 2 minutes straight were the goal was to reach at least half of what you got during the four minutes. After the 2 minutes we were back on the weight floor until the last set which was a 1 minute all out where you try to get at least 200 meters. This format made me feel exhausted and so sore. I think it is because you push yourself for each round and then only have a few minutes to recover on the weight floor before going back at it at basically an all out pace. The next type of class that pushed me the hardest was the Tornado Thursdays. Our format for these classes were actually similar to the RowGo where you went all out until 200 meters then did a floor exercise like jump squats and then repeat the cycle increasing the number of reps for the floor exercise each time. Despite feeling like I was going to puke for half the class in these instances I always felt like I left everything I had in the class and did not hold back.

Overall, I find Orange Theory to be a great workout out. I always left out of breath and was sore the next day. The coaches provide great enthusiasm, encouragement and feedback throughout the entire class. It is easy to follow because there are other people doing the same thing as you but there is always a heavy emphasis on focusing on yourself and not competing with those around you. I learned new exercises and techniques that I can apply in the gym or even doing an at home workout. I also noticed that I improved in some aspects after my 30 days. I can do more ab work then I used to such as bicycle crunches and longer planks. I also increased my all out pace from around 3.7 to 4.3 at a 15% incline. I think if you stick with OrangeTheory long enough you will definitely see more results. I had so much fun doing OrangeTheory and had such a good mindset while doing it I did not cancel my membership opting instead for 4 classes a month. I would highly recommended you try OrangeTheory at least once, especially if you enjoy high intensity workouts.

With my month of OrangeTheory over it is time to announce March’s workout! This month I wanted to try something that seemed near impossible at my level of strength, flexibility, and fitness so I choose to do Barre! Barre combines yoga, pilates, and ballet movements to increase strength and flexibility. It focuses on small movements and specific muscle groups to shape and tone your body. I was nervous to try this because it is a lot of ab work and I have zero abdominal strength. I cannot even complete a proper sit-up which is why I have never felt like I could complete a class like Barre. But here we are! So keep an eye out for an update on how my first few Barre classes go and my takeaways!

LIFE

Wellness Wednesdays!

Welcome to Wellness Wednesday! I want to start posting about health and wellness more so every so often I am going to share some tips and facts about wellness! This Wednesday I wanted to give an update on one aspect of my life. Over the last couple of years, I have had a growing interest in health and wellness. I showed an interest in becoming a dietician but this January I decided the next step in my journey was to enroll in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition! IIN is an online health coaching certification course that is a year long and based around a holistic approach to health. The graduates of IIN go on to do a plethora of things ranging from health coaching, investing a product, opening a restaurant, and more. I have not decided what I would like to do in the future but I have been toying with opening a wellness education center or restaurant where people can come have a healthy meal, get one-on-one health coaching, or provide education to the public about health and wellness. Whatever I choose I am looking forward to this journey.

“The thing that is scariest to you, is the thing that is most important.”

FOOD

Munchie Monday: Vegan Chopped

Hello and Happy Monday! This past week I set up the Vegan Chopped Challenge and had two of my friends each pull two random ingredients. The four ingredients they chose were mushrooms, peas, artichoke hearts, and peanut butter. The obvious choice was to make an Asian style rice dish with a peanut sauce but I thought that would be cheating since I have made that recipe several times before. I asked a few of my co-workers what they thought and they mostly recommended Asian style dishes as they would be the easiest. However, I took the next week to mull over what to do when I got curious about something. Many vegan cheese sauces use a base of cashew but people often swap out the cashews for other nuts. My question is could you make a vegan cheese sauce with a base of peanut butter? I decided to find out by creating a vegan cheesy vegetable rice dish.

The most complicated part of this “recipe” is making the cheese sauce and that is mostly blending things together. I purchased the ingredients for the recipe and another meal for the week which was very affordable. I believe I spent a total of $28 dollars for everything which means the rice dish would be even less than that. I purchased two russet potatoes, a bag of white onions, a bag of baby carrots, all natural smooth peanut butter, vegetable stock, brown rice, a can of artichoke hearts, frozen peas, and a carton of mushrooms. Below are the main ingredients I based the recipe off of.

I used the potatoes, carrots, onions, and peanut butter as the base of the sauce and simply played with the spices I put in. I used about half the potatoes, carrots, and onions with a fourth a cup of peanut butter. I added garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, nutritional yeast, liquid smoke, salt, and pepper. At first, the peanut butter was overpowering the rest of the ingredients so I added more nutritional yeast, salt, and a little white miso paste. Eventually, it started to taste more like a cheese sauce but with a much stronger nutty undertaste than usual. I added it to some partially cooked rice with the peas and chopped artichoke hearts and mushrooms. I baked it in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes to finish cooking all of it and then topped it with the leftover cheese.

I ate it for the first time reheated in the microwave and it was good. I enjoyed it and think it would work in a pinch if you don’t have cashews but I still think I prefer cashews as they have less of an impact on the final taste. Most people either use potatoes and carrots as a base or soaked cashews, not both but I like to combine them to add protein and healthy fats to the recipe. I think the taste of the recipe was not a problem and would work again but I always forget that vegan cheese sauce does not reheat like normal cheese. It is more of a dry consistency especially if you reheat it. If there was a way to reheat it with more of a realistic cheese consistency I think I would love it. Below is a picture of a serving I took for lunch and reheated.

Let me know what you would have made with mushrooms, peas, artichoke hearts, and peanut butter!