Monday, September 2, 2013

Week One: Check!

Going back to school is a time of great anticipation and excitement, but sometimes a little anxiousness is thrown into the mix too. Personally, one of the aspects of college that I like most is the great changes that each semester and each year brings. There are so many clean slates that offer a boost of motivation to make positive changes. Whether the changes that you want to make involve your grades or your health, there are so many chances to start fresh.

Some of my goals for the new semester include the following:
  • Find ways to work out even when classes get busy
  • Incorporate a wider variety of healthy foods into my diet
  • Participate in more school run events
  • Get involved in a club
  • Try something new
After a very long summer break, adjusting to living at school again can be a tough process. Even after one week, I am not fully settled in. It takes a while to figure out the best times to hit the gym and the best times to hit the books. Although I am not a fan of a completely strict schedule, I do enjoy structure. By the end of my second or third week, I expect to have some sort of time frames in mind that will help me to perform my best. 

As far as week one goes, I was very busy catching up with old friends, meeting new people, going to my first classes, and participating in back to school events. I did manage to snap a few pictures of some of my lunches and a healthy snack though!

This first lunch is from a supermarket called Wegmans. Wegmans holds a special place in my heart and it will certainly be mentioned in future posts. Here is just a simple to go box I assembled after a long day of classes and meetings. It includes salad with lemon grilled chicken and Asian Wokery vegetables. Yummy!

I got this sandwich for dinner one day when I was meeting an old friend. Located to the side of the deluxe pasta station at my school is the "Bread Box" where you can order from a menu selection of sandwiches and paninis or create your own. I created my own with toasted 9 grain bread, turkey, avocado, spinach, tomatoes, and honey mustard dressing. It was very good and extremely filling. 

Here is a little pick me up snack that I made with some crackers and nut butter that I picked up at Wegmans. This brand of cracker is very tasty, organic, and whole wheat. Sounds good to me! The nut butter that I used was Justin's Maple Almond which came in a two tablespoon sized pack. This is great for times that you want nut butter on the go but don't have time to prepare a snack.

I can't wait to see what week two brings. I'll be sure to capture more of my "healthy eats" and share what exercise regime I've been working on.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Healthy Continental Breakfast

Hello again! It's that time of year again...back to school! As a university student, back to school means more than just that. It means back to my second home. There are so many great opportunities that are available through university life that I would never experience otherwise. I can't wait to share more about my sophomore year with ya'll!

Let's not get too ahead of ourselves though! Before moving in, my family stayed at a nearby hotel for a couple of days. After a not so great motel experience last year, a hotel was definitely the way to go. Besides the pool and hot tub, which are obviously the best perks, the hotel provided a nice continental breakfast every morning. The options were far more extensive than I imagined they would be, so I took on the challenge of creating the healthiest morning meal that I could. I poked around looking in every little tray and mini fridge before assembling my plate. Here is what I chose:


  • Black tea with skim milk
  • 1 hard boiled egg with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • Quaker's Instant Oatmeal (maple and brown sugar) with a splash of skim milk
  • Dannon's Light & Fit "mini" blueberry yogurt

I usually try to start my day off with a good amount of protein to keep me energized and satisfied for a long amount of time. At the hotel breakfast they had a variety of regular yogurts so I figured this would be an ok source of protein. In the past I couldn't stomach any yogurt besides flavored greek, but I've gotten less picky over the years. Greek yogurt still remains my preference because of its thickness and higher amount of protein, but regular yogurt will do in a pinch! I grabbed a little blueberry yogurt which must have been around 3-4 oz. Although it was a bit too sugary for my taste, it made a good side to the rest of my breakfast. 

The hard boiled egg was by far the most natural item on my plate, and added another source of protein along with some good fats and vitamins. 

The bulk of the meal was the Oatmeal. Of course instant oatmeal would never beat the real thing, but it is still tasty...especially if you choose the maple and brown sugar flavor! Despite all of the sugar in this oatmeal, you are still getting some fiber from the whole grain rolled oats and some protein. Not too shabby!!

And of course, some tea :)

So there you have it! Continental Breakfast with a healthy spin. Or you could be a little more traditional and just have this...

Bagels and Waffles
And what goes better with breakfast than a dip in the pool and the hot tub?!?

Do you see me way back there?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

My "go-to" Breakfast Shake

I am a creature of habit, and when I find a breakfast that I like, I can stick to it day after day. While some people may look forward to their morning cup of jo, my daily fix is a chocolate breakfast shake. Every now and then I've tweaked my "recipe" depending on what I'm in the mood for or if I had a hard workout or not. Here are the basics:

As you can tell, this is a monstrous shake. That cup is 28 ounces. I started out making this shake to have before camp counseling because I wanted something filling to last me until lunch time, but on the lower calorie side since I wasn't working out much those days. This definitely did the trick! 

What I like most about this breakfast is how easy it is, and how every person can adjust the ingredients to their liking. I personally love to use Silk's unsweetened almond milk (vanilla or original) because it gives the shake a nice consistency with a fraction of the calories as regular milk. I have made this shake with a combination of low fat milk and water when I've run out of almond milk which gives the shake a slight frothy texture. 

As far as yogurt goes, I used to be a Chobani girl all the way. Lately, however, I've been digging the Fage nonfat yogurt. It seems a bit thicker to me, which is one of the qualities I am always looking for in a shake. In the past I was really into using Friendship Whipped Cottage Cheese. I found that the whipped made it easier to blend in. Both yogurt and cottage cheese make great options. 

Now for the chocolate! I love chocolate. One of my most memorable Christmas gifts growing up was a whopping five pound Hershey Bar. While I still enjoy rich chocolate treats, I find that incorporating cocoa powder into my breakfast meal is a great way to satisfy my chocolate cravings. I use about 20-25 grams. Many times I add I spoonful of instant decaf coffee to create a mocha flavor. Mmmm! I used sprinkle in some Jello Sugar Free Instant Pudding, specifically the chocolate fudge flavor, which was deliciously chocolatey and made for a veryyyyy thick shake. However, I've been trying to slowly back away from artificial sweeteners and the cocoa powder is natural and tasty all the same.

I have been using Ez Sweetz in my shakes which comes in a dropper bottle since that is what my family has in the house. I've made these shakes with Truvia as well. I don't know how it would taste without any sweetener. 

Lastly, I use a lot of ice because I love a large and thick shake. I enjoy drinking it with a straw but also having to eat it with a spoon because it is so thick! I usually fill my huge cup nearly to the top with crushed ice and throw it into the blender after all of the other ingredients are mixed. Depending on your preference, you may or may not want to add less ice. 

So there it is, my favorite breakfast!! If only I lived somewhere where I could enjoy my cold shake year round! 


Friday, August 16, 2013

Mission: Montauk

Happy Friday everyone! I seriously cannot believe how fast this week blew by. I am starting to see the difficulties of consistently creating blog posts, but this is a challenge that I am willing to accept! Two days ago I went on a bit of an adventure with my mom to Montauk, Long Island. Driving out to the outermost tip of the Island was a highlight itself since it marked the longest amount of time I've spent at the wheel. I am quite proud if I do say so myself! 

I started off the morning with a short run around my neighborhood. Unfortunately I woke up later than I wanted to, but I was still able to squeeze in about three miles. With such a long day ahead of me I knew I needed some exercise for an extra boost of energy. I've always found it amazing how running makes me feel less tired throughout the day. 

Before heading to the very tip of Montauk, my mom and I decided to walk around the town to find a bite to eat. We stopped in a cute organic market called Naturally Good whose menu can be seen here. On our way inside, and exiting customer told with such enthusiasm how tasty the fish tacos were, that I was instantly intrigued. We ordered the Cajun Fish Tacos to split. Although the wait was rather extensive, the food was the perfect pick me up before setting off for the rest of our day.

First we went for a long walk across the beach and then visited a few shops on Main Street. Soon after we went to the Montauk Lighthouse at the true tip of the Island. It was so amazing to be engulfed by the beautiful water on all sides. I highly recommend the visit!
Headed up the lighthouse!

The breathtaking view from the top

Relaxing afterwards 

It was about 5:00pm when we finished up at the lighthouse, but the day was not over yet! Boy do I love how long a summer day can last :) Since we already walked through the town of Montauk, we decided to check out some shops in East Hampton. During the course of our window shopping, my mom kept noticing people with bags that read Citarella. I looked it up and it turned out to be the gourmet food market of the town. We had to go there ourselves! We ended up scoring some yummy almond paste cookies as well as an adorably small yet tall carrot cake for my brother's birthday celebration that is coming up. Looking at all the food in this place got our stomachs rumbling for dinner.

We came across a nearby restaurant with outdoor seating and settled there called Babette's. I wasn't expecting much, but as it turned out every single item on the menu appealed to me. This is not a common occurrence! The waitress had to come back at least twice before I was ready to place my order. My mom and I ended up splitting two entrees--one of the great perks of going out to eat with this wonderful lady.

Even the bread that they gave us was deliciously nutty and seeded. 

Lentil Vegetable Walnut burger served with sweet potato fries 

Salad with tofu, asparagus, olives, red potato, tomatos.

Although on the pricey side, we were in East Hampton and the meal was different and fun.

All in all a beautiful day and a great trip.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gray days and good attitudes


I woke up this morning with the fullest intentions to go for a morning run around my neighborhood. I had such a wonderful run two days ago, but when I looked out my window, I was disappointed to see dark skies. The Negative Nelly in me shouted "well there goes that!" but a long summer of brushing aside my passion for running and working out made me realize that ignoring my desire to get outside and be active will only lead to a disgruntled Ava.
Rain has a beauty of its own, doesn't it?

So, I laced up my sneakers and headed out the door. The lack of sun and light drizzle certainly didn't make for the most cheerful conditions, but I did keep cool which was a definite bonus. My pace was a bit slower today, but given that this is the first week that I've been consecutively working out in a while, I'm cutting myself some slack.

Experimenting with a new camera timer app---lol!
There we go! Post run--soaked!
I felt great post run, a reminder that I never regret a workout and should always get myself out the door despite any excuses that my silly mind comes up with.

During my run, I like to keep track of my pace with an app called Run Keeper. I'm sure there are many similar apps out there, but I find this one to be simple and easy to use so I've stuck with it for a while now. Every five minutes a robotic lady voice tells you your time, distance, and average pace. A great motivator in my opinion! It also has a GPS tracker which allows you to look at your route afterwards which is always fun to do. In addition to average pace, the Run Keeper also records the pace of each minute and of each mile. Here is one of the information screens of my run: 

So there we have it, my morning run! Cheers to an active morning and appreciating the benefits of a gray day!

Monday, August 12, 2013


About a year ago I discovered the world of health blogs and immediately fell in love. I certainly enjoy magazines and books, but something about reading a blog is so unique and personal. There is an element of connection with the people on the other side of the screen that makes the experience so special. Day after day I would be inspired by an array of posts, often thinking what fun it must be to create them. Then it occurred to me that readers or no readers, blogging was something that I wanted to give a shot. So here it goes! 

Me and my four dogs!!