A Banana on a Fancy Plate

Pretty random blog post title, huh?

Last Friday, I wrote a bit about my President’s Day Weekend adventures in Vermont.  I promised you I’d break down some of the specifics of all our fun, so here’s my next installment.  And yes, it’s going to be out-of-order.  What of it?

But first, I’d like to thank all the people who pointed out the hysterical error in my original post.  Yes, I wrote Lake CHAMPAGNE instead of Lake CHAMPLAIN.  Two things:

  1. Yes, I did that by accident.  Maybe I had alcohol on the brain?
  2. No, I didn’t really think that was the name of it.

Funny mistake!  🙂

Vermont Culinary Weekend Getaway:  Saturday Morning Breakfast + Workout

Being the huge fitness nerd that I am, when I found out we were staying at the Essex, I immediately went online to check out what kind of workout options would be available to me during our stay.

This is what I found:

Our state-of-the-art fitness center features the complete line of cardio and strength equipment from Technogym, a recognized world leader in fitness and the official equipment supplier of the last four Olympic Games.  The Fitness Center at Spa at The Essex is also proud to be one of only two facilities in the world to feature the unique free-weight system designed by Precision Athletics.  Specially-designed by an orthopedic surgeon, the system allows quick and easy transition from barbell to dumbbell, saving you time and effort and allowing you to keep your focus on the reps.

The Essex also has a movement studio, perfect for yoga, Pilates, or some time for quiet reflection.

If you are interested in visiting a larger gym, take our 3 minute shuttle to our sister facility HammerFit Athletic Club, featuring HammerStrength Equipment.  Day passes are available.  Hammerfit also offers zumba, fitness, pilates and yoga classes multiple times a day.  Check out our activities calendar for more information.

That would do!

I told Tim that I only wanted to squeeze in one workout while we were there, and the other day could be my off-day.  Friday night wasn’t going to be too crazy, since we were all pretty tired and in bed by midnight after our first cooking class.  So we decided Saturday morning would be our workout time.

Before our workout, we went to The Tavern for a quick bite to eat.  We didn’t want anything too heavy, but we did need fuel to give our bodies energy before our workout!  The Tavern had a lot of healthy options to offer and of course some probably not-so-good-for-you breakfast dishes, but we didn’t want anything too filling.  So instead, we awkwardly asked our waitress if she could bring us each some wheat toast and one banana to the table with some peanut butter.  She didn’t seem pleased with our request (I mean who asks for that at a culinary resort, really?!) but she obliged.

This is what she came back with:

LOL!  Look at that whole fancy plate and setup for just a silly banana!

But this did the trick.

Side note:  I often get a lot of questions on advice and recommendations for eating healthy while at restaurants, traveling, or not making your own food.  My biggest piece of advice is to just NOT CARE.  That meaning, who cares if you ask for something that’s not on the menu?  Who cares if you mix and match salad options, or put together something that is healthy and still tasty that will make you happy?  Hence this banana & PB toast.  Maybe it sounds or looks lame, but I was a pretty happy camper after I got what I wanted.  You are the only one who will regret it later if you don’t at least try!

Moving on!

On the agenda for our workout sesh was Workout 4 from my personal training program.  This completed Workouts One, Two, and Three from that week.  Once again, all credit goes to Tina for these workout ideas.  🙂

Nerdy index card workout, pre-written from Friday morning:

Instructions for this workout:

  • Do a proper 5 minute warmup plus stretching.  I did 5 minutes on the elliptical and some active stretches.
  • Go through all strength moves shown above, in this order, one time.  Then repeat through the circuit for a second time.
  • Then it’s cardio time – do 20 minutes of steady state cardio, with your mode of choice.  Elliptical for me!
  • Finally, a 5-10 minute cooldown and more stretching.

We did have to make a few changes with this (the facility didn’t have a bosu), but I think we modified just fine!  Boy, were we sweaty by the end of this.  Maybe extra sweaty because I think we were sweating out a couple of cranberry mojitos each from Friday night?  😉

The workout facility wasn’t anything special, but it was WAY better than your typical hotel fitness room that usually has 1 treadmill and a couple of weights in it.  If I go back to The Essex, I would want to check out that yoga space as well as maybe take a class at their sister facility.  Fun!  Regardless, it was a fantastic way to start the day before lunch and shopping and touring downtown Burlington.

More Vermont adventures coming soon!

Do you ever plan workouts for when you are traveling or away for the weekend? Do you look up the available fitness facilities ahead of time?

Happy Wednesday, you guys!

Quinoa with Kale, Mushrooms, and Sweet Potatoes

How have I never eaten kale before?!

When I announced my recent boredom with lettuce, my roommate Katrina suggested I try kale instead for a new and tasty leafy green option.  I’m always up for trying new things, so I did.

Before I share my first kale recipe with you guys, did you know that kale is not only extremely tasty but also really good for you!?

Here are some of the reasons why.

Health Benefits of Kale

  • Low-calorie!  1 cup of kale has only 36 calories.
  • Fiber-rich.  With 5 grams of fiber in each serving, you get 20% of your daily recommended fiber value and all its benefits:  promotes regular digestion, prevents constipation, lowers blood sugar, and curbs overeating.
  • It’s a nutritional powerhouse!  Kale is PACKED with vitamins and minerals.  It has 15% of your daily recommended value for calcium and Vitamin B6, 40% for magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K.  It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
  • Contains important anti-oxidants.  For example, carotenoids and flavonoids are two powerful antioxidants found in kale that help protect our cells from oxidative stress.
  • Cancer-fighting.  Kale has glucosinolates, which have been shown to prevent colon, breast, bladder, prostate, ovarian cancers, as well as gastric cancer.

Convinced yet?

For more on the health benefits of kale, take a look at these related article sources I used to get my info:

Recipe time!

It’s a quick and easy one too.  Bonus.

Quinoa with Kale, Mushrooms, and Sweet Potatoes

Recipe inspired by RealSimple


Makes 4 servings

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 or 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into smaller pieces
  • 10 0z. mushrooms
  • 1 bunch of kale, leaves torn and stems discarded
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine


  1. Place the quinoa and 2 cups water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and mushrooms and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden and beginning to soften, 5 to 6 minutes.
  4. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the kale, wine, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  6. Cook, tossing often, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Steamy!  🙂

This was delicious, and made yesterday’s lunch fantastic.  Great combo of flavors if you ask me!


And now I’m pumped for the other 3 servings I still have left over for the rest of the week.  Trina, you were right!  Kale is way tastier than lettuce.

Questions for you!  What’s your favorite leafy green?  Ever tried kale before?  Do you like it?  What’s your favorite way to make it?  Recipes welcomed!

Have a fab Tuesday, all.

Guest Post! A New Found Love for the Gym

First, thanks to Athena for inviting me to be a guest blogger!

Second, I don’t blog so be kind to me.  🙂

While sitting on a beach in Mexico recently, I couldn’t help but notice the number of people who were in awesome shape.  I kept thinking, “They MUST go to the gym.”  When I got home I had trouble breaking the “eat whatever I want because I am on vacation” habit.  I am sure some of you can relate.  This expanded things I did NOT want expanding.

Well, now that I am nearing *gasp* 30, my body isn’t exactly bouncing back like it used to.  So I opened my very first gym membership.  That’s right!  I did it!  Terrifying, frightening, sheer panic pulsated through me as I clicked the button to open my new account at Work Out World.  That was it… now I had to actually GO TO THE GYM.  Like physically get off of my lazy bum and sweat in front of strangers.  This was so not my thing.  For those of you that know me, I NEVER go to the gym and I mean NEVER EVER EVER EVER.  Mainly I think this was because:

  1. I don’t tend to do well with large groups of strangers
  2. I was happy on my couch, and
  3. I just didn’t want to… seriously… just leave me here, watching my TV, thank you very much.  My husband, an avid hiker, had to bribe me with pizza and beer (we’re not talking cheap crap here either) just to get me hiking up a mountain.


I decided to be motivated I had to actually pay money, thus ensuring I would go.  I started off with something fun… “I’ll try Zumba,” I thought.  I had always heard it was fun.  Admittedly, going to the gym alone for a group class was scary, but if I can give you any advice here, this is it:  GET OVER IT.  Just get in the car and go there.  You will survive… I promise.  People will even be nice to you!  Anyways, I got into class, located my “spot,” a.k.a. a place towards the back where I had enough space to not punch or kick anyone, thus ensuring I would not be the newbie who knocked someone unconscious, and I waited for things to begin.  People of ALL shapes, sizes, and ages were there, which made me happy because I had feared that I would be surrounded by, I dunno, a whole bunch of Barbies.  The class got started and was over before I knew it and it was SO. MUCH. FUN!  Like ridiculous amounts of fun.  And when I got home I felt good!

Anyways, this one short 55 minute class had me wanting more, so then I took a Boot Camp class, and then I decided to try Total Body Melt.  Each class has come with new trainers, people, and moves.  Since someone is leading you, you aren’t watching a clock tick down time.  Personally, I tried P90x in the past, which is a lot of fun, but once I knew the DVDs I found myself remembering what I didn’t like and why I didn’t want to do it… and before you know it I stopped pushing play.

If you are thinking of joining a gym and getting into working out here is my advice:

  • Find one that you can stop at on your way TO or FROM work.  It won’t seem like such a big deal to stop if you aren’t making a special trip to go to the gym.  Once you start going and start feeling good, you will start wanting to take the trip… Trust me.  (This is a STRANGE feeling.)
  • IF possible get a friend to join and go with you.  I wasn’t lucky enough to have this, but I am sure someone helping to motivate would be a good thing!
  • Start off with something that will be fun, like Zumba!  This was a great way to get myself going.  You really learn to laugh at yourself in these classes ladies.
  • JUST DO IT… Stop coming up with a million reasons why you shouldn’t go.  Just get in the car and GO.

The bottom line is everyone needs to find what is right for them.  The major factor is usually finding your motivation and then following through.  Instead of spending the morning sleeping off the pizza hangover, try getting up and moving.

Your body will feel better and if you keep at it look better too!

Now for my shameless solicitation!! 

With my new-found love for working out (as my sister said; “Who are you and what have you done with my sister?”) I have signed up to run in the Warrior Dash New England on June 9th.  I am running as a St. Jude Warrior, meaning I am raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in support of the mission of St. Jude — finding cures and saving children. Your gift will help the doctors and researchers at St. Jude find new treatments for cancer and other deadly diseases.  So while I am running through the mud and obstacles, making a general mess of myself, I’ll also be supporting a cause I believe in.  I am working to fundraise as much as I can.

To donate:  Simply go to this link.  You can even donate anonymously!  🙂

For more information on the Warrier Dash itself, click over to the website and take a look.

Thanks for any and all contributions!

Question of the day to you all – what is your biggest “how to just get started” piece of advice? 

Thank you, Jamie, for your guest post on your new found love for fitness, your story is very inspiring!  Good luck with your fitness goals and upcoming Warrier Dash!