Life Lately: November 2014

Time for a life post! I have to bring you guys up to speed on the last two months, but since December was chock full of holiday fun, I’m only giving you November for now. This way you don’t have to scroll and scroll and scroll.

Life Lately

Tim and I kicked off November with dinner out at Brio Tuscan Grille in Chestnut Hill. The occasion? Our parents had never met before! Can you guys even believe that? All went well, and our food was great. We wanted to have them meet before the holidays and before our wedding planning picks up next month.

Brio Tuscan Grille

Then we both traveled for work during the first week of November. I went to Minnesota to do a couple of Stress Less seminars for our staff out there and to be there for the MN health fair. Everything went really smoothly, I got to lead a plank contest and a stretch session during the event, and the wellness champions out there organized an after work 5k race. I just love our Minnesota staff members. Everyone is so active and engaged with the wellness program, which makes for a nice change of pace.

Minnesota Health Fair 2014

Minnesota Health Fair 2014

Tim and I both had a long day of travel home on Friday at the end of the week. I landed around noon, caught a cab home from the airport, went through emails while eating lunch, and then I had to shower and get ready to go back to the airport to get Tim and head to Worcester for wedding #7 of 2014. It took us three hours to get from Boston to Worcester, and we were both exhausted, but we rallied and somehow managed to find the energy to celebrate Pete and Andrea’s special night!

Pete and Andrea's Wedding Pete and Andrea's Wedding

The rest of that weekend we pretty much did nothing! We finally got to spend some fall time outside with each other on a long walk, and it was nice to just relax and rejuvenate.

Tim and Me on a Fall HikeThe Best Yes

The following week, I hosted a girls night for my friends Allison, Shannon, and Tracy from home on Thursday. We spent it drinking wine and catching up over a good meal. I made a gnocchi and squash casserole with greens (hard to please a vegetarian AND two picky eaters!), Allison brought a salad, Shannon the wine and cheese and crackers, and Tracy brownies. It was perfect!

Butternut Squash with Gnocchi and KaleThe following night I headed over to Slesh’s apartment to hang out while we waited for our friend Erica to arrive. Erica was in town for one of the three parties that Tim and I were triple booked for on Saturday, and since I knew I probably wasn’t going to be able to make it to the one Erica was here for, I wanted to make sure I got some quality time in with her! Slesh and I hung out and drank wine (seems to be a theme, huh?), got dinner ready, and talked about some wedding related things before Erica got there. The rest of the night was spent catching up with both friends, and I felt lucky having two really great girls nights in a row. Slesh also made the most delicious chocolate chip cookies!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

On Saturday, our friends Ashley and Bret had a housewarming party, so we went over there for party #1. We brought the cranberry avocado salsa that I posted the other day, and we spent a lot of time chatting with my gym friend Jess and her fiancé Chris. Both Chris and Tim are foodies, so we knew they would hit it off!

Cranberry Avocado Salsa

Ashley and Bret's Housewarming

After a couple of hours spent at Ashley and Bret’s house, we headed out to party #2. Our friends Cate and Joe were hosting people at their house for Cate’s 30th birthday before heading out to celebrate with drinks at Howl at the Moon in Patriots Place. We had a ton of fun, but unfortunately we didn’t make it to party #3 which was a goodbye party for other friends of ours who are moving to LA. It was just too much to do in one night.

Cate's 30th Bday

Finally, I wrapped up that weekend with brunch at Johnny D’s in Somerville with Slesh, Erica, and Bridget! I was happy to see Erica one last time before she headed back to New York. This is awkwardly the only picture I have from that morning, via Bridget’s snap chat. We are weird. Sorry, Slesh.

Snapchat

The next week was the Massachusetts health fair week, so work was very stressful, but like Minnesota, the event went really well. We opened the day with a big presentation in our auditorium, we had multiple ed sessions throughout the day, my friend Dawn won the plank contest, and we did yoga. I was so relieved when the day was over (in a good way). Planning a big event like that for hundreds of people is not easy!

MA Health Fair 2014

Note Tim awkwardly getting fitted for orthodics. Haha! After the health fair, Tim and I went out for a celebratory dinner and much-needed margaritas at El Centro, a new Mexican place that opened in Belmont center. Loved!

El Centro in Belmont

The rest of the weekend was exactly what I needed after the health fair craziness. On Friday, I worked from home and met up with Dawn for a Whole Foods lunch date, and then Tim and I stayed put on our couch that night.

Whole Foods Salad Bar

I was supposed to teach another Athleta class on Saturday morning, but unfortunately it got canceled. Instead, I went on a morning hike and out to breakfast with some of my gym friends.

Gym Friends Hike

Since we met before 8am, we were done with our workout and breakfast by 11ish. I loved having the rest of the day to run some errands, prepare for Friendsgiving on Sunday, and relax!

Thanksgiving 2014

Sunday was Friendsgiving at Slesh’s, which you guys already read about in my Thanksgiving post a couple of weeks ago.

Thanksgiving 2014

That week at work was a short week. On Thanksgiving Day itself, Tim and I did a quick workout before splitting the holiday between both of our families.

Thanksgiving 2014

The rest of the weekend was spent teaching a post Thanksgiving class, grabbing another breakfast out with the gym girls, and hanging in on Friday night. On Saturday, I got all the details for my Holiday Hustle Challenge ready, we went out to lunch with our friends who were in town, and we saw Tim’s sister and her boyfriend for margaritas back at El Centro at night. Finally, I wrapped up the weekend and month at my friend Nicole’s baby shower.

Nicole's Baby Shower

And that was my November! December and holiday update coming soon.

–Let’s chat–
I would normally ask how your Novembers were, but that seems like ages ago now. Instead, tell me what you guys have going on for New Year’s Eve tonight. Going out? Staying in?

Tim and I are going out to dinner at Solea on Moody Street, and then we are stopping by Hopsters to see what their Happy Brew Year shindig is all about. We wanted to keep it low-key without staying in. Whatever you guys are doing, have fun tonight! Be safe!

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

You GUYS.  I am having a serious problem.

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can’t stop eating these cookies!!!

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe inspired by and adapted from Meaningful Eats, makes 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup agave
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups almond flour or almond meal
  • 1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Cream together butter, coconut oil, and agave.
  4. Add the vanilla and eggs, and mix until incorporated.
  5. Mix in the baking soda and salt.
  6. Add the almond flour, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  8. Form the dough into tablespoon rounds and place on the lined baking sheet a couple of inches apart.
  9. Bake for 13 minutes, or until golden brown around edges.

I ran out of dark chocolate chips and needed to improvise with half dark chocolate and half white chocolate.  Next time I bake these, I think I’ll try replacing the butter to see how the taste comparison goes.  What would you guys recommend?  Unsweetened applesauce? Avocado?  Other ideas?

What’s a fun food (healthy or not) that you can’t get enough of lately?

Must…refrain…from…eating…for…breakfast.

Help!

My First Protein Cookies

I’m back with another recipe for you guys.  Two in one day… you lucky ducks.

Last week was one of those weeks where I had a few bananas that were way over-ripe and I needed to solve the emergency of potentially wasted food (the horror!).  I started browsing through all my bookmarked recipes, when I came across one for protein cookies that my friend Bethany sent around to some of the gym girls back in January.  I had yet to try it, so I decided to give them a whirl.  In fact, I realized I had never really made any type of protein cookie before!

Here’s how my version ended up looking.  I did alter some things slightly.

Protein Cookies

My First Protein Cookies

Makes about 16 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of oats
  • 2 heaping scoops of chocolate protein powder
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 bananas
  • 2/3 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup all natural unsalted peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup agave
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the bananas, applesauce, peanut butter, vanilla, and protein powder in a bowl.  It will look soupy – don’t fret!
  3. Stir in the oats (I put them in the food processor first).
  4. Then add the honey, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, flour, and agave.  Stir.
  5. Fold in the walnuts if desired, and give one last stir until all combined.
  6. Scoop spoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheets.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Protein Cookies

These came out pretty good for my first attempt at baking a protein cookie.  They had the consistency of a Clif bar, which I liked.  I felt like when I ate one, I was satisfying my craving for a snack without feeling like I consumed too much sugar.  I packed these for a snack on Marathon Monday in case I got hungry waiting for a table to eat lunch (I did), I’ve enjoyed a couple on the way to work to hold me over (yes! cookies for breakfast!), and they’ve been a nice after dinner treat as well.  If you want something sweeter though, this cookie isn’t for you!  It is meant to be healthier, after all.  Next time I’ll probably experiment with some different add-ins.  Raisins? White chocolate chips?  Thoughts?

Have you ever baked protein cookies before?  Ideas?  Thank you, Bethany, for this recipe!

I’m off to the Y!  I’m excited to be back teaching class this week, and with a themed playlist too.  Haven’t made a themed playlist in quite some time.  Yay!