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!

Scenes From Thanksgiving 2014

Time for a photo dump! I figure since it’s almost halfway into December and Tim and I got our Christmas tree last night, I should probably share some scenes from Thanksgiving.

Our Thanksgiving actually started the weekend before Thanksgiving because Slesh and Will hosted our annual Friendsgiving that Sunday. Tim and I spent a good part of our Saturday in the kitchen with music and red wine as we prepared lots of delicious food to bring over.

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

We made his and her stuffed mushrooms because we couldn’t agree on what kind to make. I made a Mediterranean version with quinoa, feta, walnuts, and sun-dried tomatoes, and Tim made a reinvented version of the bacon and blue cheese ones I posted eons ago. We also prepared a winter kale salad with homemade cranberry vinaigrette and this homemade cranberry sauce. It was fun having a day together in the kitchen, although I guess we do spend a lot of time in there anyways!

Quinoa & Feta Stuffed Mushrooms

Bacon and Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Winter Kale Salad

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Slesh and Will’s was really fun. It was full of friends, laughing, lots of food, festive accessories (from Bridget of course!), game playing, face timing with Erica, drinks, and more. I left feeling grateful for the friends in my life!

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

On Thanksgiving morning, Tim and I woke up early for a little workout action. We did a quick metabolic resistance workout that consisted of 10 deadlifts, 10 pushups, 10 weighted step ups, 10 single arm rows, and 10 kettlebell swings, AMRAP in 25 minutes. I posted this status on Facebook after our workout which pretty much sums it up!

Body Gratitude

Thanksgiving Workout

After our sweat sesh, it was time for family and food! We started at Tim’s aunts for the earlier part of the day and finished up at my aunt’s with my family. We brought more stuffed mushrooms to Tim’s aunts (we doubled the batch we brought to Slesh and Will’s so it would be one less thing to make the day before Thanksgiving), and I made brownies to bring to my aunt’s. My aunt has a nut allergy, and my uncle has a coconut allergy, and I never realized how hard it is to healthify a dessert without any nuts or coconut. My solution was black beans! They came out pretty good. I also tried to make a gingerbread pumpkin bar, but those didn’t come out as great.

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Black Bean Brownies

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

This was the first year that the timing worked out for us to get to see both families on the same day, so we were definitely grateful for that. The wine was flowing all day, and I got excited talking about wedding stuff with my cousin who is a bridesmaid in my wedding party. Of course it’s always fun to see my god-daughter who is getting so big.

The rest of my Thanksgiving weekend was a nice combination of friend time and Tim time. Liz and I taught back to back classes on Black Friday, and we grabbed breakfast with the gym crowd afterwards. Tim and I hung in together on Friday night, I got all the details for my Holiday Hustle Challenge ready, we went out to lunch with our friends who were in town on Saturday, and we saw Tim’s sister and her boyfriend for margaritas on Saturday night. Sunday I went to a baby shower and spent the rest of the day relaxing. It was definitely a much-needed break from the grind.

–Let’s chat–
How were your Thanksgivings and long weekends this year? Even though I’m a bit late with this, I want to hear about them!

I’m off to my monthly massage appointment tonight! Fits right in with today’s challenge theme of stressing less. Also, don’t forget about my giveaway for a free week of meals to your doorstep from Just Add Cooking. Not many people are commenting, so you definitely have a good chance of winning. Have a great night, you guys!

An Early Thanksgiving Dinner

I celebrated Thanksgiving a little early this year.  Not with family, as that will be next week, but with friends!  On Wednesday, my roommates and I had “Roomie Thanksgiving.”  The four of us are rarely ever home at the same time, so it was nice to have a sit down dinner all together for once.

We each contributed something to the cooking, and tried to make our selections as healthy as possible!

First up?  Drinks!

Pomegranate Sangria

As the designated apartment bartender, Miss Slesh whipped up some delicious pomegranate sangria for us to try.  I had a glass two glasses with dinner.  For the recipe and more details on this fruity cocktail, you should check out her blog post!  She’s Cait @ A Twist and a Shake.  I just can’t bring myself to call her Cait all the time (Who’s Cait?!).  But Slesh & Cait @ A Twist and a Shake are one in the same!

Next?  The meat!

“What do you mean you don’t eat no meat?!”  –My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Turkey Tenderloin

This was much easier than making a huge turkey in the middle of our busy week!  Trina just popped this baby in the stove and spiced it up a bit with sage, thyme, rosemary, pepper and garlic powder.  Great flavor!

The loins were very moist and tender.
(Sorry, couldn’t help myself).

Look at this slicing action, disabled hand and all!  Go Trina!

Now for the sides!  We made a lot.

Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese, Sage, and Toasted Pecans

Remember this recipe!?  Super delicious.  Combining all these flavors is like magic in your mouth.  I made this for the first time in October with Tim and wanted my roommates to experience the amazingness too, so this was one of my contributions.  Note – I decided to opt out of the balsamic reduction part of the recipe completely, and it was still just as good!  I think that replacing that reduction with a little bit of low-fat balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing would be just fine if you still wanted the flavor.

No Crust Spinach Quiche

Thank you to Mimi (Bridget’s grandmother) for this recipe!  I knew this one just HAD to be good since Mimi makes it.

Ingredients

  • 2 packages of frozen spinach (either two 10 oz or two  16 oz)
  • One small yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 package of sliced white mushrooms
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Saute the onions in a pan until they are clear
  2. Microwave the spinach for about 6 minutes
  3. Make sure to remove all excess water from the spinach
  4. Crack the 3 eggs in a separate bowl and whisk them together
  5. Mix ALL of the ingredients together – except for the salt and pepper
  6. Add the salt and pepper to the mix (not too much, but enough to taste)
  7. Pour the mix into a casserole dish
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes

Do-It-Yourself Green Beans

This recipe is extremely easy, and I’m super psyched for a new quick green bean recipe.  Usually I just make my Greek Style Green Beans, but now that Bridget has introduced me to these I’ll be having them more often!

Ingredients

  • 2 packages of green beans (Bridget used the microwaveable packaged ones, this could also be done with fresh!)
  • 1 package mushrooms
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Directions

  1. In a large pan, pour in some EVOO – about enough to drizzle the whole pan.  Don’t put too much in the pan, remember we are trying to be healthy!  If you don’t want to use EVOO, spraying Pam on the pan will do just fine!
  2. At a medium heat on your burner, add the mushrooms for about two minutes.
  3. Microwave your green beans for 2.5 minutes.  The package calls for 4 minutes but 2.5 will be perfect!
  4. Add the green beans to the pan.
  5. Sprinkle pepper and garlic powder over the mushrooms and green beans.  Use as much (or as little) as you want.
  6. Cover the pan for about 3 minutes
  7. Cook the green beans until they are to your liking (Bridge suggests taking them off the burner between the 5-7 minute mark).

Mashed Cauliflower

Otherwise known as the healthier version of mashed potatoes.  There isn’t really any specific recipe to follow for these – Slesh just steamed them in chicken broth until she could mash em all up.  She put them in a food processor, but you definitely don’t have to.  Also in this mix?  Some butter and shredded cheddar, and I’ve also heard of some adding some garlic powder or minced garlic for extra flavoring.  This is great for a lower carb option, and cauliflower is high in nutrients!

Stuffing & Gravy

Probably the least healthy option on our food menu?  Stuffing right out of the box.  But Slesh made it healthier by adding chopped celery and some Craisins.  Right?!  And we topped it with gravy.  ORGANIC gravy.  Obviously healthier.


Healthy No Bake Pumpkin Pie

None of us wanted to spend too much time or calories on a big dessert the week before Thanksgiving, so I opted for a healthy pumpkin pie recipe that I found on one of my favorite healthy living blogs, Run Eat Repeat.  Will you believe me if all this pie takes is mixing a cup of plain Greek yogurt, a cup of pumpkin, 1 box of fat-free/sugar-free butterscotch pudding mix, and a little pumpkin pie spice?  And then pouring the mixture into a store-bought crust?  Well, it’s for real.  You don’t even need to bake it – just goes right into the fridge.  Perfect for those days you need something sweet but are short on time!  Thank you, Monica, for the inspiration!

The Whole Spread

My Only First Plate

We had a lot of laughs, picked names for our roommate Secret Santa, and planned a fun Christmasy night to have with the boyfriends in mid-December.  Looking forward to it!

Be Thankful Challenge?  I’m thankful for fun friends / roommates.

Question(s) of the Day:  Do you have more than one Thanksgiving dinner?  Have you ever had a “friends” or “roommates” Thanksgiving?  Think you’ll try any of these recipes next week?  What’s your favorite way to make a traditional Thanksgiving dish a little healthier?

Happy Friday!  Make sure to tune in Monday morning for my next REALLY exciting giveaway!