F&F Friday Favorites ~ 07.25.14

I am so fuh-reaking excited to have a low-key weekend. It’s borderline pathetic how psyched I am to wake up tomorrow and ask myself what I feel like doing. I see date night, time spent outside, the farmer’s market, and some R&R in my future. <–much needed.

If you missed my posts this week, here you go:

Now sit back for another round of awesomeness from around the web:

Friday Favorites

Fitness

Recipes

Inspiration

Blogging

–Let’s chat–
How are your weekends looking? Busy or relaxed?
What was the best part of your week? What are three things you plan on doing today?

Three things for me today? Go out to lunch with Tim’s parents, organize all the returns I have to do, and play around with my new blog design coming soon! Happy weekend, friends.

Homemade Pretzel Bites with Honey Mustard Sauce

You know what the best part about having a boyfriend fiance who loves to cook is?

Homemade Pretzel Night

Fun homemade snacks just because.

Oh yeah, and there’s that whole he does more of the cooking so I can exercise and blog all the time thing. That too. But I totally benefit when Tim just feels like experimenting in the kitchen.

homemade pretzel bites

Homemade Pretzel Bites with Honey Mustard Sauce

Ingredients

For making the dough

  • 1 cup warm water (around 100 to 110 degrees F)
  • 1 envelope of active dry yeast (1/4 ounce)
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour + a little extra for work surface
  • 1 tbsp gourmet salt
  • 2 tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil + a little extra for the bowl

For baking the pretzels

  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • gourmet salt

For making the honey mustard sauce

  • 5 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

Directions

To make the dough

  1. Stir together warm water and yeast in a large bowl. Let stand until a creamy foam appears on the surface. This should take about ten minutes, but if the mixture doesn’t foam you should start over with a new yeast.
  2. In a smaller bowl, stir together the wheat flour, salt, and light brown sugar.
  3. Add the flour mixture and 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil to the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon and then your hands until it forms into dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough with your hands until it is smooth. This should take about another ten minutes, and you should dust with more flour as needed if the dough sticks to your work surface.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled large bowl and make sure it is all coated with the oil. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature until it is double its original size. This takes 2-3 hours. You could also let it rest at room temperature for 15 minutes, transfer to the oiled bowl in the same way, and let rise in the fridge overnight.
  5. Once the dough rises, punch down and divide into quarters. Form each quarter into 4 balls. Roll each ball into a 12 inch long rope. Cut each rope into six 2 inch pieces, and transfer to wax paper lined rimmed baking sheets.

To bake the pretzels

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F with the racks in the upper and lower thirds.
  2. Oil two large baking sheets.
  3. In a 4 to 5 quart saucepan, bring the water and baking soda to a boil. The mixture will be foamy at first, but it should go away. Add 12 pretzel bites and cook for 30 seconds. They should rise to the top immediately, and then you can transfer to the baking sheets with a slotted spoon. Quickly sprinkle pretzel bites on both sides with the salt before they dry. Repeat with the remaining pretzel bites, making sure to return the water to a boil between batches.
  4. Bake the bites in the oven, switching the sheets between the racks and rotating them halfway through. They should be deep chestnut brown after 8-10 minutes, but watch them in the oven toward the end so they don’t overcook. Immediately transfer the bites to wire racks to cool.

To make the honey mustard sauce

  1. Combine the honey, mustard, and rice wine vinegar in a bowl.
  2. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Serve with the pretzels and enjoy!

Homemade Pretzel Bites with Honey Mustard Sauce

These were the perfect Sunday-night-lounge-on-the-couch-not-wanting-to-go-to-work-on-Monday kind of snack. But they’re really only good for one day, so if you plan on making them, plan to gobble them up right away. These aren’t necessarily the healthiest of snacks, but they aren’t terrible for you either. Tim did use whole wheat flour in lieu of regular and the oil in lieu of butter, so an attempt at healthier swaps was made!

–Let’s chat–
Do your significant others cook or experiment in the kitchen? What’s a fun snack you’ve made or enjoyed lately?

P.S. The winner of my New Balance giveaway is Janice @ Cappytweet! Congrats, Janice! Please email me at fitnessandfeta@gmail.com to claim your prize. Thanks to everyone else who entered the giveaway and left such nice comments for my three-year bloggiversary. You guys rock!

Workouts Lately + Adjusting For A Busy Schedule

Hey guys, hope you all had a great weekend and a nice start to the week yesterday. I had a blast at Erica’s bachelorette weekend, and I can’t wait to share our festivities with you once I go through the millions of pictures we took. In the meantime, since today and yesterday have definitely been get back on track days, I want to talk about my workouts over the past month or so.

Running

My heavier strength workouts have been pretty hard to squeeze in lately. With summer weekends booked like crazy, it’s just HARD to get to the weight room as much as I did during the winter. Saturday and Sunday often end up as off days or days that I just go for a quick run or do a quick at home workout instead. Without either Saturday or Sunday (or both) to lift, it’s hard to fit strength training in among my teaching schedule, the classes I’m subbing, and the fun fitness events I’m attending during the week. That said, I haven’t been progressing as much as I’d like for my strength workouts, but it’s okay. I’m modifying my routine to fit what works for me right now, and I know once things calm down a bit I’ll be back on track with my goals. I’m also spending more time outside (kayaking, walking, running, etc.), so letting lifting take a back seat for a few more weeks is okay with me. I never want to feel stressed about something that I enjoy doing so much.

Kayaking on the Charles River

Before I get into some of the workout recaps, I want to share a Facebook status that one of my fitness idols, Molly Galbraith, posted a couple of weeks ago:

I recently took an informal poll asking a few audiences: “For those of you who have worked out for longer than 5 years, how many days per week do you work out?”

I can’t lie — was *secretly hoping* I’d hear the answer of 3-5 days per week, since that’s my general recommendation (that’s weights + cardio) for sustainability over the long haul. And yes. That’s what most people said… 3-5 days per week. But you know what they said that was even cooler?! Almost everyone who made a comment (beyond just listing the # of days/week) talked about MODIFYING IT FOR THEIR CURRENT LIFESTYLE/SITUATION, ie:

  • “In the winter I work out a little less, but I lift more. In the summer I lift less, but work out more overall, mostly hiking and swimming.”
  • “When I was in law school, I was lucky to manage 2 days a week, but now that I’m done, I’m hitting a solid 3-4 days a week.”
  • “When my son was born, I mostly just walked with him every day for the first 4-6 months, and maybe did a little body weight circuit at home. But now that he’s old enough for the gym daycare, I’m back in there 3 days a week, and I still walk with him most days.”

Freaking awesome! Each and every one of these people recognized that if they modified their routines and just did SOMETHING, that it was better than nothing and that they would still be doing something good for their bodies. None of this, “I can’t hit the gym 5 days a week so there’s no point” stuff. Just giving themselves grace about their situation and finding what was sustainable for them. Love it.

I feel like this describes my workouts lately perfectly. By no means am I slacking because I’m still making fitness a priority, I’m just making adjustments to fit in everything else. <—there’s your motivation for the day!

Here’s how my weekly workouts have looked for the past month:

Workouts: Sunday 6/22 – Saturday 6/28

Workouts

  • Sunday: Off
  • Monday: Full body strength workout
  • Tuesday: Taught (and did) my 6am class
  • Wednesday: Outdoor run. I had full intentions to run 3 miles, but it was way too hot and I felt dehydrated, so I listened to my body and stopped around 2.
  • Thursday: Taught (and did) my 6am class and then went to the June New Balance Girls Night Out event and did bootcamp
  • Friday: Subbed for Heidi’s 6am cycle and core class
  • Saturday: Off

Workouts: Sunday 6/29 – Saturday 7/5

Workouts 2

  • Sunday: Off for engagement celebrating
  • Monday: Off. Just didn’t feel like going!
  • Tuesday: Taught (but didn’t do) outdoor Tabata stations, then stayed after teaching to do a full body strength workout. Also went kayaking!
  • Wednesday: Full body strength workout + cardio finisher
  • Thursday: Off to head to the Cape
  • Friday: 3 mile run
  • Saturday: At home workout (my Baby You’re A Firework bodyweight circuit)

Workouts: Sunday 7/6 – Saturday 7/12

Run

  • Sunday: Off day
  • Monday: Lauren’s spin class
  • Tuesday: Taught (and did) my 6am class with two five move circuits, one for upper body and one for lower body
  • Wednesday: Ran a really hot 3.1 miles after work
  • Thursday: Taught (and did) my 6am class with three different upper body supersets and lower body/cardio progressions between each
  • Friday: Full body strength workout
  • Saturday: Off for Slesh’s wedding

Workouts: Sunday 7/13 – Saturday 7/19

Workouts 3

  • Sunday: Off for Slesh’s wedding
  • Monday: Off for the day after Slesh’s wedding
  • Tuesday: Taught my 6am class with one of my favorite formats, 10 strength reps + 20 cardio seconds, five different sets, four rounds each. After that, we finished with a stability ball core circuit.
  • Wednesday: Met Liz and Alice for a morning workout date at Studio Empower. At night, I went to an event at SoulCycle in Chestnut Hill and took a cycle class there.
  • Thursday: Taught my 6am class with the same format as Tuesday, just with different exercises
  • Friday: Off for Erica’s bachelorette
  • Saturday: Off for Erica’s bachelorette

–Let’s chat–
Tell me how you modify your workout schedules to fit your routines? Do you find that you make adjustments in the summer? How do you still keep fitness a priority despite busy schedules? Is anyone else going to the New Balance event tonight?

Feel free to share anything else workout related that’s on your mind, and make sure to check back tomorrow morning for my New Balance giveaway winner!

F&F Friday Favorites ~ 7.18.14

Holy moly, it’s Friday already. This was a super short week for me since I only had three days at work, and I spent any spare second I had either exercising or PARTY PREPPING for more bachelorette festivities.

This weekend is all about this dainty lady:

NYC 2011 072EricaErica and MeErica 5Cape Cod Weekend 2011 037

Before I head out with my friends Bridget and Ashley, here’s all my link love for the week!

Friday Favorites

F&F Posts You Might Have Missed

Fitness

Recipes

Foodie

Inspiration

Self Image

Humor

–Let’s chat–
Tell me about your weeks and what you have planned for the weekend.

I think it’s safe to say there’s going to be a lot of this in my future:

Erica Collage

Off to Newport!

Summer 2014 CSA: Weeks 4 and 5

Time to talk produce!

I skipped my CSA recap last week because Tim and I slacked a bit on using our week 4 farm share ingredients while we were on our staycation. I mentioned that we made sure to wash and store everything properly so that it wouldn’t go bad while we were away, and last week we focused on trying to combine items from both weeks into our meals.

Our week 4 stash included strawberries, squash, collards, lettuce, purslane, broccoli raab, spring onions, green chard, beets, lemon balm, and cucumbers. Our week 5 stash included lettuce, cabbage, escarole, squash, cucumbers, potatoes, spring onions, garlic scapes, parsley, kale, bok choy, and kohlrabi. I’m pretty sure we also had a few items left over from week 3, and one staff member also forgot to have someone pick up her produce while on vacation, so I snagged a few items from her. It’s been produce overload for sure, but that’s a good thing in my mind.

Summer 2014 CSA Week 4

We used the cucumbers for our 4th of July contribution, the almost Mediterranean chickpea salad I posted last week.

Almost Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

On the last night of our vacation, we threw together a salad to use up the butter lettuce that we had still from a previous week. We topped it with tuna steak from the farmer’s market and added tomato, avocado, and feta. We also used the lemon balm from our farm share to make a homemade salad dressing.

Summer 2014 CSA: Tuna steak salad

For lunches on our first day back to work, we combined the red leaf lettuce and purslane for a salad base. For toppings, we used barley, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, walnuts, and goat cheese. I’ve never heard of purslane before (did you know it’s a weed?!), and it was to die for. I need to find it again.

Summer 2014 CSA: Purslane Salad

Next on the list was tackling our zucchinis and squash. I recently posted this recipe for spiralized raw zucchini salad with edamame and avocado in one of my Friday Favorites, and it was the first thing that came to mind when brainstorming meals. Tim used our mandolin to slice the zucchini really thin, and we added grilled shrimp and feta to round out the meal. .

Summer 2014 CSA: Shrimp zucchini edamame salad

Our second squash/zucchini meal was steak skewers, squash, zucchini, and red onion. We enjoyed the skewers on top of more greens with tomato, grilled garlic scapes, and our last cucumber. I can’t remember if this was our escarole meal or not? I have a hard time differentiating between regular lettuce and escarole.

Summer 2014 CSA: Grilled Steak Kabobs

Our dinner on Thursday and Friday night last week was the grilled version of this chicken and black bean casserole, using farro instead of rice. We also threw in the collards and Swiss chard into this version so they wouldn’t go to waste. And yes, that’s MORE zucchini you see there. It’s peak season for sure!

Summer 2014 CSA: Chicken and black bean casserole

To use up the beets, we made our own version of this roasted beet and chickpea salad.

Summer 2014 CSA: Chickpea and Beet Salad

Unpictured in this post are the scrambled egg breakfasts Tim made for Erica, Chris, and I on Saturday morning before Erica and I left to get our nails done for Slesh’s wedding. We had a ton of eggs to use, and our mix-ins were mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash, collards, chard, and spring onions.

When we got home from the wedding, we got creative and grilled some cod, then topped it with a kohlrabi and cabbage slaw. On the side? More chard! It’s so good when simply sautéed with a little garlic. Tim plans to eat the rest of this slaw with some BBQ pulled chicken when I’m away this weekend.

Summer 2014 CSA: Cod with kohlrabi and cabbage slaw

Finally, here’s what I’ve eaten for lunch this week. Lots of simple salads over the past two weeks because we’ve been so busy!

Steak Salad

I won’t lie, we ended up tossing the broccoli rabe this week because we simply don’t like it as much (and it went bad). Our parsley went bad too, but I think we’re doing pretty well considering how much we’ve been away. This week is crazy for me since I’m focusing on party preparations for the weekend, but thankfully Tim is taking care of everything in the kitchen. I’m hoping next week I’ll be able to contribute more (I always feel bad when I don’t), and I think we’ll be pretty caught up by the time next week’s farm share delivery rolls around.

Let’s chat about zucchini and squash! What are your favorite recipes and ways to cook these summer staples?! Also, what do you tend to eat during busy weeks?

For more on my summer CSA experience:

Five Move Upper Body Burn

Hi friends!

Today I have a new workout for you that I think your upper body will appreciate.

Five Move Upper Body Burn

Links to the exercises:

The rep schemes I provided in the workout graphic are just a guide. I recommend heavier weights for the first three moves, but you may need to decrease the number of reps depending on how heavy you go. Make sure to do a dynamic warmup before jumping into the circuit, and modify as needed. A warmup + three rounds of this should take you about 30 minutes! If you do four total rounds, it might take a little longer, but it’s something to work up to.

If you give this one a whirl, I want to know about it. Post your upper body burn pics on social media and tag me @fitnessandfeta. I would love to see you guys in action!

–Let’s chat–
What’s upper body exercise always leaves you feeling the burn?

Don’t forget to enter my New Balance giveaway for new sneakers and a fitness bag if you haven’t already!

Fitness & Feta Turns Three! {New Balance Giveaway}

Can you believe it was three years ago (from Saturday) that I shared my first blog post with you guys?

I certainly can’t.

I think most bloggers can relate to this, but I always cringe laugh when I look back at some of my past posts. The waaaay too wordy workout descriptions, the awful pictures, and just the way I wrote some things? Borderline embarrassing. No wonder only my mom and my roommates read at the time. <—because I forced them to.

But it’s all part of the learning process. Through this hobby of mine, I’ve definitely become a better writer. I’ve become more confident. Through healthy living blogging, I have become healthier. Stronger. And I’ve definitely expanded my network, established some awesome connections, and made some great virtual AND real life friends.

By far one of the best connections that I’ve established through blogging is my relationship with New Balance. I always say I love the brand and what it stands for, and it’s been great to work with them on different fitness events, product reviews and promotions, and more. Today I’m teaming up with New Balance again so that we can celebrate F&F’s third birthday with a really awesome giveaway.

Ready?

One lucky F&F reader will win these two fabulous items:

Fresh Foam 822 Trainer
Inspired by our best-selling Fresh Foam running shoe, the Fresh Foam 822 women’s trainer bring the science of soft to the gym with a high-tech, high-comfort midsole and flexible yet supportive fit. The innovative midsole design helps provide lateral stability and cushioning during high-impact workouts — and foam pillows on the tongue and heel add even more plush comfort. And so you can move freely from studio to gym to boot camp, this women’s shoe flaunts flex grooves in the outsole that help your shoe and foot move as one.

Fresh Foam 822 Trainer

Wellness Tote
The New Balance Wellness Tote is the perfect bag to go from work to workout, accommodating your workout gear, laptop, files and more. Separate compartments for apparel and shoes keep you organized while a removable, washable cinch sack holds smaller items in place. The tote also features a padded laptop sleeve, cord organizer pockets, a document pocket, and straps to hold your jacket or yoga mat.

NB-6000 -D Wellness Tote

To enter the giveaway, you must do TWO things:

1. Leave a comment on this post answering either question A (what would you like to see more of on F&F in year four?) or question B (what is one of your favorite F&F posts from years past?).

2. Leave a second comment on this post after sharing the giveaway on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram). Example social share: I just entered to win some awesome fitness gear from @fitnessandfeta! Happy 3 years of blogging! http://wp.me/p1GYjo-3v2

This giveaway will be open until Friday 7/18 at 11:59 EST. The winner will be announced early in the week of 7/21, so make sure to check back and see if you won! A huge thank you to my friends at New Balance for donating these products for the giveaway.

Good luck!

For extra related reading material today, check out: