F&F Friday Favorites ~ 10.25.14

Good morning, and happy Friday!

Before I get into my favorites from the week, I want to share two things with you.

First, THIS:

all about them weights[source]

HAHA, get it?

Second, a FREE four-week online fitness and lifestyle challenge with you guys. One of my main sources of inspiration, Neghar Fonooni, is hosting the Fall Freedom Challenge beginning on Monday 10/27 and running right up to Thanksgiving. It’s designed to help women find freedom from food and fitness obsession. I joined for the four weeks worth of workouts, motivational emails, and community, and I hope you will too! Please note that I am not getting any type of affiliate income from promoting this challenge. I just honestly think that the world needs more Neghars! :)

Did You Miss Any Posts This Week?

If you missed any F&F posts from the week, play catch up!

And now it’s time for another round of link love. Enjoy!

Friday Favorites

Fitness

Foodie

Recipes

Worksite Wellness

Blogging and Social Media

Self Image, Life, and Inspiration

–Let’s chat–
Are you going to join the Fall Freedom challenge? What links did you love around the web this week? What’s up for your weekend?

For me: Gym friends get together tonight, overbooked on Saturday, and Patrice’s wedding on Sunday!

Sweet Potato Quinoa with Thai Chili Dressing

Hello! I have a new recipe to share with you guys today.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad with Thai Chili DressingSweet Potato Quinoa with Thai Chili Dressing

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch discs
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 ears of corn
  • Half a red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Cooking spray

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp thai chili paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, and turn the grill on to medium heat.
  2. Add the quinoa to 2 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes or until done.
  3. In bowl, toss the cut up sweet potatoes in the tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and then spread on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking oil. Cook for 20 minutes or until fork tender.
  4. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, grill the ears of corn until fork tender, turning the corn to char on each side. In total, this should take around 8 minutes. You can cook the corn however you want (stove top or in the oven), but we chose to grill.
  5. In a small bowl, mix all the salad dressing ingredients together. You could also do this step in a mason jar and shake well.
  6. Once the quinoa, sweet potatoes, and corn are all done, combine in a large bowl with the pepper, red onion, and parsley, then season with salt and pepper.
  7. Toss with the dressing, and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Quinoa with Thai Chili Dressing For a cold salad, the warmth of the thai chili paste in this meal comes through pretty prominently without being too spicy. This is definitely a fresh salad thanks to the parsley and pepper, but you still get a nice hearty feel through the sweet potatoes as well.

Sweet Potato Quinoa with Thai Chili DressingIt’s perfect for a packed lunch during the rainy week we’re having here in Boston. Plus, FIVE of these ingredients are from our CSA. Go us!

–Let’s chat–
Do you ever cook with thai chili paste? What have you been eating for lunch this week? Is it raining where you are?

P.S. Wondering how to have a healthier Halloween? Head on over to the Fitfluential site to read some tips written by yours truly. It’s a fun one. :)

OAKtoberfest 5k Race & Taste

On Sunday, I ran in the OAKtoberfest 5k Race and Taste at the Oak Square YMCA. This year the Y asked me if I would like to create a Fitness & Feta team to promote the race in exchange for a couple of free race entries to give away, so of course I said yes. I won’t lie, I wish I decided to get a little more creative with my team by creating t-shirts or something, but I just didn’t have it in me this year with everything else I’ve had going on. Next year, you guys!

Oaktoberfest Race & Taste: Y Sign

We got to the Y around 9am to pick up our race numbers. I foam rolled and did a quick dynamic warmup, then found some of my F&F team. Here’s me with my gym buddies Mary, Missy, and Alice:

OAKtoberfest 5k Race & Taste

And here’s one of my dedicated 6am class members, Alanna, with her roommates. They went all out and dressed up as superheroes! Love it.

OAKtoberfest 5k Race & Taste

Before we knew it, it was time to line up.

Oaktoberfest 5k Race & Taste

Oaktoberfest Race & Taste: Tim and Dad at start

And then we were off!

Oaktoberfest Race & Taste: Start

Oaktoberfest Race & Taste: Start

My first mile was a little rough. My legs felt heavy, which I attribute to doing my warmup too early and then getting cold again right before we started running. The two huge hills at the beginning didn’t help either, but I can feel the difference in my incline runs from lifting heavier this year. I didn’t get into a groove until those hills were behind me, so I must have made up some time on the downhills and flat road.

Oaktoberfest Race & Taste: End

I ended up beating my time from last year by 8 seconds and finished at 24:38, which is a new PR for me. I was psyched!

OAKtoberfest 5k Race & Taste

Tim came in next with a time of 25:37, and my dad finished right behind Tim at 26:10. My dad won second place for the 60+ age group and won a New Balance gift card!

Oaktoberfest 5k Race & TasteOaktoberfest Race & Taste: Tim and Dad at end

Oaktoberfest 5k Race & Taste

Soon behind Tim and my dad were my friends Missy and Mary. I am so pumped for Mary whose goal was to run in under 30 minutes. She did it!

Oaktoberfest 5k Race & Taste: Missy and Mary

Oaktoberfest Race & Taste: At the end

We weren’t expecting my mom to finish as quickly as she did, but soon enough, she was right around the corner! My mom was planning to just walk the entire course, but she said once she started she felt inspired by some of the other people who were jogging around her. She ended up doing walk/run intervals and surprised us all! So proud!

Oaktoberfest Race & Taste

Oaktoberfest Race & Taste: Mom at end

After the race, there was a little after party with a live band, and local Brighton restaurants were offering free samples/tastes. I still miss having the little health fair party after the race, but that’s okay. We took a lot of pictures and just hung out for about an hour. I had fun chatting with everyone, especially Kaylin! She came back to join us for the morning.

OAKtoberfest 5k Race & Taste: FamilyOaktoberfest 5k Race & TasteOaktoberfest 5k Race & TasteOverall, Team F&F came in 2nd place out of all the teams. Way to go, guys!

Once things started wrapping up, my family went out for a post race brunch at a new restaurant in Newton, Cook.

Cook RestaurantEven though my brother and sister didn’t run in the race, they joined us for breakfast. I ordered the mushroom omelet for my meal, and we also ordered a side of apple french toast to share among the table. It was a great little fall flavored treat, and everything hit the spot after our run.

Cook Restaurant

All in all, it was a nice little Sunday funday! Oh, and photo credit to RaceMenu for some of the pictures I snagged for this post.

–Let’s chat–
What’s a recent race you participated in? What’s one you’ve always wanted to try?

Tim and I are on the hunt for a good turkey trot to run in on Thanksgiving morning! Do you guys have any favorites?

Erica’s Last Sail Before the Veil

This summer, I helped throw my friend Erica a bachelorette party in Newport, Rhode Island. Since we were going to be on the water all weekend, I suggested we have a nautical theme. After some brainstorming, we decided to call the weekend Erica’s last sail before the veil. Bridget and I spent the three days after Slesh’s wedding and before Erica’s bachelorette weekend in full blown errand mode. There’s no such thing as too many party props, right? Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: PropsI took Friday off from work and drove down to Newport with Bridget and Ashley. When we arrived, we checked in (party props in tow) to our hotel, The Newport. Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: The NewportWe decided to head down to Bowen’s Wharf and eat an early lunch before settling in to the hotel. We went to The Lobster Bar, and I enjoyed a lobster salad and a cocktail with a view. It was a perfect day, and the ocean was gorgeous. Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Lobster BarErica's Last Sail Before the Veil: The LandingErica's Last Sail Before the Veil: The Landing After lunch, we went back to the hotel to decorate and set up before everyone else arrived. First we put the party bags filled with champagne, leis, snacks, koozies, straws, and more out on display. Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Party BagsNext we strung thongs, condoms, and a pair of bride underwear across the room. Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil We also got busy with balloons, streamers, and other decorations that I probably shouldn’t post on this blog. Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: DecoratingWhen Erica arrived there was a lot of screaming and giggling. And a one piece pajama set to go nicely with the underwear. Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: PajamasOur first destination once everyone arrived was the Castle Hill Inn. Holy gorgeous waterfront. We spent a couple of hours just lounging on the lawn with fun cocktails, catching up, and enjoying another beautiful view. Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Castle Hill Inn Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Castle Hill Inn Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Castle Hill Inn After our lovely afternoon, we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner at the Gas Lamp Grille. The dress code for the night was Erica in red, everyone else in black! We also sported light up rings from the party bag. Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Friday Night During dinner, Erica’s sister gave a little toast, we drank out of inappropriate straws, and we clinked cheers many times! Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Gas LampAfter dinner it was time to dance! We walked over to Studio 3, which is a nightclub that has a CATWALK. Let’s just say a lot of time was spent up there. Here are some gems from the night: Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Studio 3Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Studio 3 Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Studio 3Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Studio 3Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Studio 3It was such a fun night! When we got back to the hotel, there was a lot of snacking and snuggling before we all went to bed. Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: BedtimeWhen we woke up on Saturday, it was a little overcast, so we took our time getting up and at em. Bridget and I did a bagel run for everyone, and eventually we all made our way to the beach. We spent the afternoon just lounging, snacking, drinking mimosas, and playing a fun bachlorette game that Erica’s sister put together where she asked Chris to answer questions ahead of time, and we had to see how many Erica would get right. Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: MimosaErica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Beach DayAfter our beach day, it was time to get ready for the second night of festivities. Our Saturday night dress code was even more intense than Friday’s. Enter matching tank tops and sailor hats. Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Tank TopsWe had a few drinks at the hotel while playing a few more games and taking a look at the scavenger hunt that our friend Eileen put together for the night. Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Scavenger HuntThen we were off! Next up on our agenda was a sunset cruise. While we were waiting for our boat to arrive, Erica did some scavenging. Yes, that’s one of our party props you see: Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Scavenger HuntOur outfits were seriously a huge hit among passerby! Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Matching Sailor OutfitsErica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Me and TrinaWe boarded our boat, The Rum Runner, around 7pm for an hour long cruise around the harbor. The boat had snacks and rum punch, and it was a really fun activity to add to our night. Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Rum RunnerErica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Rum RunnerErica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Rum RunnerErica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Rum RunnerErica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Bridal partyErica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Rum Runner Newport After our boat docked, it was time for dinner at Jo’s American Bistro. We didn’t just take any transportation to dinner though! Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: Carraige I could not stop laughing the entire ride sitting on Katrina and Kelly’s laps! Dinner that night was perfect, and I’m bummed I didn’t take any pictures during it! The food was great and right up my alley. I ordered the salmon, and it was served with couscous, red quinoa, lemon and feta cheese, kale, and a citrus salad. Another bachelorette thing we did during dinner was take turns going around the table to each say something we love about Erica. Mine was how she is always up for a fun activity – no matter what!

After dinner, we concluded our night at a couple of different bars. First up was the Boom Boom Room, which made me feel super old. They had a TV at the bar that showed footage of the dance floor, and it was hilarious to watch! We only went there for one drink before heading to One Pelham East to dance to a live band for the rest of the night. Erica’s sister even got to go on stage and sing with the band for Billy Jean! So cool. Erica's Last Sail Before the Veil: One Pelham EastOn Sunday, those of us who didn’t have to leave early did one last brunch at the Atlantic Beach Club before heading home.

Erica’s bachelorette was such a fun weekend, and everything went so smoothly! I know I’m a few months late in recapping the weekend since it took place in July, but it was fun going back through my pictures while writing this post. I still have shower and all my besties’ weddings to write about, but I’ll save those for another time.

–Let’s chat– Have you ever been to Newport? What’s your favorite thing to do there? Tell me about the bachelorette or bachelor parties you’ve been to this year, if any!

For other bachelorette fun, check out:

New To Me Whole Foods Finds

Today I’m here to share a whole bunch of foodie finds with you! Whole Foods in Arlington generously put together a bag of new to me goodies for me to sample.

Whole Foods Finds

Talk about the most exciting grocery store stop ever since I got to leave with a stash with my name on it! Whole Foods made sure to give me a combination of both products from their 365 value brand and other name brands they carry.

Whole Foods ArlingtonWhole Foods ArlingtonI’m curious if you guys have tried any of these products or brands before. Here’s what I got:

Chocolate

Whole Foods Chocolate Bars

  • Taza stone ground organic chocolate: I was psyched to see Taza in the bag because Tim and I toured the Taza factory back in the day and had a blast. Their chocolate is the real deal (none of this processed Hershey’s crap), and 70% dark is my preferred cacao level.
  • Sweetriot’s kickin’ coconut: This bar was one of my favorite goodies of them all! Seriously you guys, this brand is life changing. Paradise in my mouth. The coconut flavor isn’t overbearing at all. I’m sure you can assume that I had a lot of trouble limiting myself to one serving at a time with this one!
  • Whole Foods 365 brand dark chocolate with almonds: This one wasn’t bad, but it was definitely my least favorite of the three chocolate varieties I received. The texture seemed a little grainy to me!

Coffee

Whole Foods: Organic CoffeeTim and I do really well with eating mainly organic produce now, but I never really stopped to consider drinking organic coffee. After sampling a couple of different Whole Foods 365 coffee flavors (organic breakfast blend city roast and organic colombian cup vienna roast), I’ve tried to buy organic k-cups more often so I can at least drink organic coffee at home. Drinking organic coffee all the time would be unrealistic, but I can taste the difference in quality! I liked the Vienna best since I prefer a medium roast. Coffee snobs out there, do you have any recommendations for me?

Bars

Whole Foods BarsWhen it comes to granola bars, protein bars, energy bars, etc. I find myself very skeptical. I used to swear by certain bar brands, but the more educated I become about food and nutrition, I find the sugar content too high in unless I’m in a bind while traveling. Or hiking up a mountain? If I’m not making a homemade bar, I usually stick to Kind bars or Larabars because I trust in the ingredients.

Here’s the rundown on the brands I tried from Whole Foods though:

  • Bobo’s Oat Bar: I think I was bias toward this one as my favorite of the three because this company is located in Boulder, one of the coolest places I have ever traveled to! I received the original flavor, and I couldn’t even tell that this bar was wheat free or vegan. The sugar content wasn’t out of control, and Bobo’s boasts being organic, having no artificial ingredients, and coming in gluten-free flavors as well.
  • Bonk Breaker Bar: I wouldn’t go as far as to call this one the “world’s best energy bar” like their packaging claims, but the ingredients are all real, and all Bonk Breaker bars are gluten-free and dairy free. Fun fact: these are actually the official bar of the Ironman triathlon series and of USA Cycling! Obviously I liked the chocolate and peanut butter combo, but I’m not sure my workouts are intense enough to need an energy bar like this for my pre-workout fuel.
  • ProBar: Finally, I also received a ProBar meal replacement bar (not pictured). I think I had a few bites of this one and then handed it over to Tim. I don’t like to use bars as meal replacements because eating full meals makes me happy. Why have a packaged bar when you can eat a delicious breakfast and savor each bite?

Oils

Whole Foods Arlington: Oils

I was really excited to receive new oils because Tim and I don’t really experiment with that many oil varieties. We pretty much stick to extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and grapeseed oil, so almond and pumpkin were certainly new to us.

  • Whole Foods 365 brand almond oil: I had to research what to do with this one! I learned that it cooks at a high heat, improves vitamin E level, and actually has a lot of uses for at home skin and hair remedies! So far we’ve only used this for salad dressings, but I’d like to try it for under the eye circles or in other kitchen ways. Ideas?
  • La Tourangelle toasted pumpkin seed oil: This is perfect for all you pumpkin lovers out there! We’ve mainly used this for salad dressings too, so I guess we still need to expand our oil horizons. Over the weekend I drizzled some of this on vanilla ice cream with pumpkin seeds for dessert though. I highly recommend it!

Other

Whole Foods Arlington: Snacks

  • Whole Foods 365 brand cashew butter: Yes, yes, yes! This definitely did not disappoint. In the nut butter world, I mainly stick to peanut butter and almond butter, but cashew butter was DELICIOUS. I enjoyed the variety for my pre-workout fuel of choice: cinnamon raisin Ezekial bread with nut butter and sliced bananas. It was also a great snack right from the jar!
  • Whole Foods 365 brand vanilla whey protein powder: Protein powder is something that I still don’t feel comfortable with. I’ve used a regular whey kind from Trader Joe’s in the past, and I’ve used the vanilla from Whole Foods (unpictured) since I received it in my goodie bag. I’ve mixed it into smoothies and made energy balls and cookies with it, but I still don’t know enough from a nutritional standpoint about regular whey, whey isolate, and casein. I recently opened this question up on my F&F Facebook page and received a ton of comments and opinions!
  • Ancient Harvest quinoa flour: I am embarrassed to admit I haven’t tried this yet! Does anyone have any recipes that call for quinoa flour you can recommend?
  • Whole Foods 365 brand summit seeker trail mix: I loved that this trail mix wasn’t too salty. I’m a sucker for salt, so having an unsalted variety helped me keep my snacking in check. This is a trail mix that I can easily replicate making on my own!

Aside from all the above, Whole Foods was also generous enough to leave a $20 gift card in the bag. Tim and I put the money to good use for a sushi and seafood night on a Friday night in together.

Whole Foods Arlington: Sushi

I know sometimes Whole Foods gets a bad rap for being so expensive, but I think it’s just a matter of putting in a little effort. At work, we recently organized foodie field trips to another Whole Foods store so staff could learn tips for shopping at Whole Foods on a budget. During the tour, they talked a lot about the 365 value brand as well as how to navigate the weekly sales flyers. They also talked about their options for buying in bulk at 10% off or paying by weight as to not buy giant containers of things you only need a bit of. Finally, I always try to remind myself that even if I’m paying a little more for my groceries, I can trust in the quality of my food and I’m investing in my health. That’s worth it to me!

–Let’s chat–
What is something at Whole Foods that you’ve always wanted to try? Have you guys tried any of these products before? What do you think? What are your tips for shopping on a budget at Whole Foods? Do you love or hate grocery shopping?

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this post, but Whole Foods Arlington provided all the products in this post at no charge in exchange for writing this review. As always, all opinions are my own. There are no affiliate links within this post.