Thursday, March 31, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Hi Everyone, happy Thursday! :) 

There is something about Thursdays that I just LOVE! I think it has to be my favorite weekday. We're over the "hump," the weekend is just around the corner, but yet, the day is still filled with productive things.

What do I love more than Thursdays? Free stuff!!

So, let's cut to the chase...

Shortly after 9PM last night, I had my personal Vanna White mix up all of the "entries" in the pot.


Vanna's hands are looking very manly these days ;)

Then, I closed my eyes, to be fair...


And picked out the lucky reader!!


**KAMMERON!!** Congrats, girl! 

Send your current address to brighteyesandbushytales@gmail.com, along with your top two color choices for the CamelBak bottle, and let me know whether you want me to come up with the Larabar assortment (you get 5!), or whether you want to choose the flavas. I'll give ya a clue about the extra secret surprise -- it involves a lulu and a lemon!

Thank you so much for everyone who participated! I had a lot of fun with the giveaway and I'm SO glad to have you guys adding to the blog with your comments, because this would be pretty boring if it was just me yabbering on all the time.

For those of you who didn't win, don't fret, I promise there will be more special giveaways in the future, so stay tuned.

In other news, I was literally whimpering, out loud, at today's Barre Bee Fit class. My legs are SO SORE from all of this running going on! When we got to the seat section (aka da booty), I think I almost shed a tear.  Looks like I need to start eating some more bananers.

Last night, we did our "sprints" at the gym.  It was an experience.  It took us about 30 minutes to find a parking spot in the garage, and I had to wait another 15 minutes just to get on a treadmill. This, people, is one of the reasons I am excited to move to the suburbs.  On the bright side, living in the city and dealing with the crowds has helped me to build up an incredible amount of patience in situations like the one we were in last night.

Once I wrangled myself a treadmill, I did my "sprints" in an interval-like workout, which looked kinda like this:

1 minute walking @ an incline of 6, speed of 3.5
1 minute walking @ an incline of 8, speed of 3.8
1 minute walking @ an incline of 6, speed of 3.8
.25 of a mile (this required some math) or a little over 2 minutes @ an incline of 0, speed of 6.7
1 minute walking @ an incline of 6, speed of 3.8
1 minute walking @ an incline of 8, speed of 3.8
1 minute walking @ an incline of 6, speed of 3.8
.25 of a mile, or a little over 2 minutes @ an incline of 0, speed of 6.9
1 minute walking @ an incline of 6, speed of 3.8
1 minute walking @ an incline of 8, speed of 3.8
1 minute walking @ an incline of 6, speed of 3.8
.25 of a mile, or a little over 2 minutes @ an incline of 0, speed of 7.0
1 minute walking @ an incline of 6, speed of 3.8
1 minute walking @ an incline of 8, speed of 3.8
1 minute walking @ an incline of 6, speed of 3.8
.25 of a mile, or a little over 2 minutes @ an incline of 0, speed of 7.0
1 minute walking @ an incline of 6, speed of 3.8
1 minute walking @ an incline of 8, speed of 3.8
1 minute walking @ an incline of 6, speed of 3.8
.25 of a mile, or a little over 2 minutes @ an incline of 0, speed of 6.9
1 minute walking @ an incline of 6, speed of 3.8
1 minute walking @ an incline of 8, speed of 3.8
1 minute walking @ an incline of 6, speed of 3.8
.25 of a mile, or a little over 2 minutes @ an incline of 0, speed of 6.7
1 minute of walking @ an incline of 4, speed of 3.5
1 minute of walking @ an incline of 2, speed of 3.0

So you get the gist, I had to do 6 "400's," and did some walking in between @ an incline for some extra booty work.  It ended up being a pretty good workout: 


If you're looking for something new to do on the treadmill, give the above a try (don't forget to consult your doctor before starting new/strenuous exercise). Try making playlist with a "power song" (I like to roll with Britney or some techno) at each sprint.  Changing up the incline/pace really keeps you from getting bored and makes the time fly.  I only looked over at the person next to me, running like a nut @ a speed of 11, once! ;) 

I'm off to work & then my favorite enchiladas are on the menu for tonight! 

For all you baseball fans, happy opening day! Gooo White Sox :) I cannot WAIT to get to a game. 

xoxo

Jess

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Get Your Brain Food

Hi everyone! Happy hump day! :)

Thanks so much for all of your great comments yesterday!

I have been CRAVING some fresh fish for a few days now, and last night I was finally able to tackle (hehe) my craving.

My Granddad always told me it was important to eat fish because it was "brain food." Since I hold any advice my Granddad ever gave me in great esteem, I try to eat fish at LEAST once a week.

My (casual, I am not a registered dietitian or nutritionist) research has revealed, not surprisingly, that my Granddad was right.

Fish, in general, is healthy because it is high in protein and lower in total fat, saturated fat (aka "bad" fat), and calories, than a comparable portion of poultry or other meat.

As far as the "brain" benefits go, oily fish like salmon can help boost your memory and concentration vis-a-vis the omega-3 fatty acids. Um, I'd like an salmon IV while I am studying for the Bar exam this summer, please!

The American Heart Association also boosts the support of oily fishies, saying that omega-3 fatty acids benefit the hearts of healthy people, and those at risk for cardiovascular disease. This is tres (very) important, because heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

So, now that I have you all sold on this, how can you actually get your brain food?

I will be the first to admit that one of the MOST intimidating things I faced when I started to cook for myself (only about 2 and a half years ago) was the thought of cooking fish.  Fish was something I only really enjoyed at a restaurant on a beach vacation.  I loved it, but I was convinced there was no way I could cook it on my own and have it still be edible.

Enter my roommate from my first year in Chicago, Lauren, who eased my fears and showed me a great way to prepare our delicious water friends at home (thanks girl!).

I tweaked my approach along the way, and I have decided to share it now with you. You're welcome! ;)

So today I'm going to talk about the way I do salmon, I'll leave the other fishies for another date.

Let's talk first about where to get quality salmon. I all but refuse to get salmon from a cheapie grocery store. The thought just kind of grosses me out.  I prefer to buy salmon from either Whole Foods or directly from a fish market.  It is more expensive, so when I do it, it is a "treat."

Last night, I got my salmon from Whole Foods. I went up to the fish counter thinking to myself, "I know I'm supposed to get the wild salmon, but I don't really know why..." The fish genius then asked me what I wanted and I just said "some Salmon, two portions, with the skin off, please."  Of course, he asked the dreaded question, "What kind?" I then said, "I know I'm supposed to get the wild, right?"

To move this story along, he explained to me that they had an organic Icelandic fresh, farm-raised salmon or a previously frozen wild salmon.  The Icelandic salmon was antibiotic & hormone free, blah blah blah.  He basically told me that because it was organic, it was fine to go with the farm-raised, and it would have a more "mild" taste. The last thing I wanted was a fishy fish, I'd really rather have fresh fish, and this guy was pretty darn convincing (I have been told I am a marketer's dream), so I went with the farm-raised. I'm new to this whole organic business, so I'm not sure if he was right -- please enlighten me if you know more on this particular subject (organic farm-raise salmon vs. wild salmon).

On to the good stuff...

I've been on a barbecue salmon kick lately.  Since it is still cold outside and we have not had opening day for the patio yet, the only thing that is really "barbecue" about this recipe is the sauce...hey, you do what you can, right?!


Jessica's Dummie-Proof BBQ Salmon: 

1 tbsp. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil -- I can probably stop spelling this out now, right?)
1 tsp. of Dijon or Stone Ground Mustard
1 garlic clove, minced (or 1/2 tsp. of the minced garlic you might keep in your fridge, like me!)
Lemon Juice
Seasoning (your choice, I like Nature's Seasoning)
Salmon, with the skin off (I'd go with one, 6 to 8 ounce portion, per person -- our pieces last night were HUGE, but we had just finished our run and we were pretty hungry!)


Step #1: Now, in a large frying pan, over medium-high heat, add your EVOO, Garlic, Mustard, and fill it up so that the entire bottom of the pan is covered with lemon juice (this is a judgement call, see the picture below for some guidance), and stir it all around.


Step #2: While your oil & such are heating up, season both sides of your pieces of salmon (I sprinkle a little Nature's Seasoning on mine).

Step #3: Add your Salmon to the pan, and cook it for about 3 to 4 minutes on the first side (I like to start with the "icky side" down), depending on the size of your pieces. I like to cover my salmon with a lid while I'm cooking it (see below), to "steam" it and ensure it cooks all the way through the middle.



Step #4: Then you are going to flip them! The flipping is the HARDEST part. I try to use 2 utensils to avoid having the Salmon break apart, but if it does, it is okay! Don't fret, it still tastes the same :) There always seems to be a little skin left on the "icky" side, which I promptly (but gently) scrape off with a spoon and dispose once the Salmon is flipped.

Step #5: After you flip the pieces, cook the salmon on the second side for about another 3 minutes.  About 30 seconds or so before this time is up, take a pastry brush (or a small spoon) and brush (or spread) a small amount of the barbecue sauce on top of the salmon fillets.


Step #6: Flip the salmon over, once again, and brush (or spread) the other side with barbecue sauce. Let it cook for about another 30 seconds, and transfer the pieces, pretty side up, to a plate.

Step #7: Serve up your delicious brain food with your veggies/sides of choice!

(See ours broke a little, it's okay though, Justin still cleaned his plate!) 

We went with some green beans and my taters of choice for a little carbage:


Alexia's All-Natural Oven Reds with Olive Oil, Parmesan, & Roasted Garlic! These guys are pretty low in the calories & fat (8 potatoes for 120ish calories and 3.5 grams of fat), and reasonable in carbs (about 19 grams per serving).

I know it seems like there's a lot of steps here, but it's just because I wanted to give you detail. Trust me, once you make this meal one time, it's super easy to re-create, and you will be so happy to have this in your "tool box." Such a delicious, satisfying, brain-boosting meal.

**Something to talk about: Do you cook fish @ home, or only reserve it for restaurants? What is your favorite kind of fish to make @ home?

Don't forget -- today is the LAST day to comment on a post or start following me to get your name put in the pot for the giveaway (a CamelBak water bottle, $10 Starbuck's giftcard, Larabars, and an extra SECRET surprise!).

I'm going to pick the winner tonight at 9PM central time, and will announce tomorrow morning!

Today is full of classes, and we have our "sprints" tonight (eeeek!).

Have a happy & healthy day!

xoxo

Jess

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Slowing Down & Speeding Up

Good Morning Friends!

I hope you all had a great Monday full of happy little things!

I took the Zen Habits advice yesterday and ate my oatmeal sans TV, magazine, internet browsing, or blogging! It definitely made me mindful of what I was eating (my favorite oats + fresh mango from the eastern market!), when I was full (uhh...after the whole bowl?), and I just plain enjoyed it more.

This is not the first time I have received this distraction-free eating advice. Bethenny Frankel also preaches *paying attention* to your food in her famous book Naturally Thin, which I highly recommend to anyone who is looking for a good (un)diet book.


This is going to be a tough cookie for me to crack on a regular basis.  Who really has time to only do one thing at a time?? My life IS multi-tasking.  I've got a lot on my plate, besides food ;)

I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but I usually eat my breakfast while catching up on bloggies (or sprinting for the train), my lunch while working, and my dinner in front of one of my favorite tv shows.  Whoops.

Bethenny makes a good point in her book. She calls my bluff, urging that no matter how busy you are, you can take a FEW minutes to stop and give some thought and attention to what you are eating to nourish yourself. It is the food that gives you the energy you need to balance the bagillion balls in the air that you are juggling simultaneously each day. When you think about it like that, it does seem like it deserves a little more "respect."

So anyway, I'm gonna work on this commitment slowly, starting with breakfast, and see how it goes.


I'll keep ya posted.

Speeding things up a little...

As promised, I have a come up with a great running playlist for all you joggies out there!

This one is good for a 3-miler, which is what we have to do twice during this week (6 miles on Saturday, yikes!). I put a "power song" near the end to give you that last little push in the tukhaus, and a cool down song for stretching.

1. Georgia Clay, Josh Kelley (one of my current favorite country songs).
2. Stay Here, Lee DeWyze
3. Not Your Birthday, Allstar Weekend
4. Female Intuition, Jordyn Taylor
5. Top of the World (feat. Dev), The Cataracs
6. I Wanna Go, Britney Spears
7. Heartbeat (feat Nicole Scherzinger), Enrique Iglesias
8. On the Floor (feat. Pitbull), Jennifer Lopez
9. Landslide (The Sheryl Crow Remix), Dixie Chicks

As always, they're all available on iTunes right now. These songs could be great for any form of exercise, or just to get you pumped up for a full day of multi-tasking!

Hope you all have a fantastic Tuesday! Mine is school, work, run, cook up a delicious din din, you know the drill!

**Lets give em something to talk about: What do you typically do while you're eating? Or have you already mastered the art of distraction-free grubbing?

Only 2 days left to comment on a post or start following for the giveaway! I'm adding in an extra little SECRET surprise for the winner...so get on it! :)

xoxo

Jess

Monday, March 28, 2011

Girls Weekend

Hi everyone!

I hope you all had fantastic, relaxing, and fun weekends!

I had a GREAT time up in Michigan with my mom, grandma, and rosie (the pretty puppy).

Part of me really did not want to leave.  It was so relaxing, great to be with my family, and I got to sleep in a big princess bed all weekend! :)

Thursday night, as you all know, my mom & I went out to get our sushi fix.  We each had a little salad with ginger dressing (party in my mouth!), then shared 4 rolls.  The bunch included my favorite, the spicy tuna roll, which even had a little avocado in it, and a delicious crunchy spider roll.

Friday I did a little shopping while my mom worked.  I wanted to get some longer pants to run in since it was brr brr freezing there (and still is in Chicago too), so I picked up some longer grey leggings thinking they'd do the trick.  Not so much.  The leggings are super cute and comfy, but the waist is not tight enough for running long distances.  I was yanking them up the whole time I ran that afternoon to avoid a wardrobe malfunction... pain in the booty, literally ;)

Friday night we got into the deep dish pizza I brought up from Chicago.  My mom & grandma LOVE Lou Malnati's, so I surprised them with a 1/2 pepperoni, 1/2 cheese pie! We went to Costco after dinner to pick up some essentials (thanks, Mom!) and renew my membership.  Love that store, but it can be dangerous! We ended the night with some fro yo from Bloomberry and a little NetFlix! :)

Saturday was the best day.  I was so excited to spend the whole day with my mom! We went on a what I will call a "grocery" crawl.  First, we ventured our way down to Detroit (which can be an interesting enough experience in itself) to go to an Arabic grocery store (great spices, olive oils, & some falafel!) and a Mexican grocery store (picked up some pico de gallo, guacamole, and freshly made tortilla chips).

After that adventure, we went to the Eastern Market:


I picked up a some great items for the week, and had about a MILLION free samples.  I was a happy happy girl.

Just when I thought the day couldn't get much better...


CHEEEEEESEEE!!

I was like a kid (mouse) in a candy (cheese) store!

This little store in the market has a HUGE cheese selection (we're talking a 4 page, double-sided list-o-fun), and they let you have free samples of whatever kind you want before you buy! We picked up a blue cheese, Havarti (my favorite), and some creamy Gorgonzola.  Need I say more??

We were pretty tired after the market, but made a couple more stops before making our way home to devour some of our goodies from the day.

Saturday night was some more Netflix and snuggling with Rosie :)

Sunday I made the a little-bit-too-long drive home, and went to lululemon to solve the running pantalones problem.  I needed to get my 5-mile run in and I was determined to cover my ankles and avoid the yankage.  I tried to get my favorite wunder under in the full length, but they were WAY too long on me (I'm kinda a shrimp... 5 foot 3ish).  The lady at the store kindly told me they hem for free (which is amazing!), but I needed these pants pronto! Then she showed me these guys...


The Lululemon run inspire Tight.  They didn't have my size in this cool-as-a-cucumber color combo...so I opted for classic black.  I did end up getting my run in last night (5 miles woo hooo!), and these new running "tights" were a life saver.  I was able to zip my house keys in the back pocket, they stayed up the whole time (hallelujah!), they kept my legs, all the way down to my socks, warm, and I felt very sporty-cute! :) Good purchase.

I've got a busy day of class & homework ahead of me (only a little over a month left of school! cray-zay), but don't worry, I didn't forget your Monday pick-me-up...

As I am sitting here drinking my morning coffee (I got some Cinnamon-flavored coffee up in Michigan, it is incredible!) on the couch with the sun shining through my window (even though it is frigid out there!), I was thinking that it is sometimes the littlest things that make me feel happy. A warm cup of coffee, sleeping in a comfy bed with nice sheets, getting that adorable look (the one that says "pet me!!") from a doggie like rosie, singing along to some tunes on a sunny Sunday drive, I could go on.

"Enjoy the little things, for one day, you may look back and realize they were the big things." -- Robert Brault.

For some great tips on being more present so you can savor the little things, head on over to this article on Zen Habits.

Talking Point: What "little thing" makes you smile each day? Any tips to add to the ones on Zen Habits?

**Don't forget to comment on a post and/or follow to get entered for the giveaway, only a couple of days left! :)

See ya all tomorrow!

xoxo

Jess

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chicken Parm-a-mazing!

Good morning sunshines!

Happy freaky Friday! And, to all of you who have been working hard all week, we made it!!

Thank you so much for your great comments yesterday, I loved hearing from you guys! :)

The drive up to Michigan was really nice -- sunny and blue skies all the way! I jammed out to a little country, and got super excited for the warmer weather that is *hopefully* coming soon (hurrryyy!!).

I definitely got into my roadtrip snack pack.  I tried the Blueberry Muffin LARABAR for the first time and, I have to say, I didn't like it as much as the Lemon Bar flavor.  I'm going to try the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip next (thanks for the suggestion Christina!). My sandwich, on the other hand, was DE-licious.  The only thing missing was something crispy (perhaps those Special-K chips??).  I will have to remember that for the trip back.

When I got in, we headed straight out for sushi, it was ahhhh-mazing.

Today, I've got another great weekend night-in recipe to share! This one is a simple, healthy twist on the classic Chicken Parmesan.  It's as easy as pie, and it tastes SO good.  It's a go-to recipe for me when I am having an inner-chef block.

I have also included my favorite recipe for roasted broccoli, which I usually serve with the chicken parm, because it is the perfect way to round-out the meal with some greenies.

Before you get going on the chicken, you'll want to get the broccoli in the oven to get roasty toasty.


Roasted Broccoli with a Kick: (makes 2 to 3 servings)

3 cups of broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. basil
salt and pepper to taste

Step #1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Step #2: Put the broccoli florets in a medium size bowl.

Step #3: Add the remaining ingredients, one at a time.

Step #4: Mix it all up until the broccoli is evenly coated.

Step #5: Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.

Step #6: Transfer the broccoli to the cookie sheet and spread it out evenly.

Step #7: Let the broccoli roast for about 15 minutes.

Step #8: Toss the broccoli a little, and let it continue to roast for another 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve & Enjoy! :)


Chicken Parm-a-mazing: 

Boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (1 for each person you are serving, aim for 1/3 pound per breast)
**Note: This is extra delicious if you marinate your chicken breasts before coating, I have recently been using Lawry's Balsamic Herb Marinade -- it is perfect for this recipe.
Shake-n-Bake or Breadcrumbs (whatever floats your boat!)
1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes (I try to do no-salt added, but the fire-roasted are also amazing!)
1 small jar of the marinara or pasta sauce of your choice
Sliced or Shredded Swiss Cheese (I try to get low fat deli slices for this recipe)

Step #1: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (unless it already is hot from making the broccoli).

Step #2: Place your chicken breasts (if you didn't marinate them, you will need to moisten them with a little bit of water) and a reasonable amount of bread crumbs or shake-n-bake into a large ziplock bag.  Zip it up & get shakin!

Step #3: Once your chicken is well-coated, remove the breasts from the bag and place them on a greased (or PAMed) cookie sheet.

Step #4: Spread about 2 tablespoons of your marinara/pasta sauce on top of each piece of chicken.

Step #5: With a spoon, spoon out about 1/3 cup of the diced tomatoes (with a little of the juice), and place on top of sauce on the chicken.

So at this point, we should be here...


Lookin' good!

Step #6: Put the chicken in the oven for about 20 minutes (don't forget to keep turning your broccoli throughout this time if you're making that too!).

Step #7: Pull out the chicken and place 1 slice (or a small hand-full if using shredded) of the cheese on top of each chicken breast.  Put the chicken back in the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes (depending on the size of the breasts -- you know the drill, make sure they're not pink in the middle).

Step #8: Take the chickies out, let them cool, and serve them up with the broccoli!


We recently ate ours with some delicious, warm whole wheat bread from the bakery (a little butter?? yes please!), yummm.

So there you have it -- another weekend-night-in-worthy meal that won't break the bank or your jeans size.

What should you have to drink with this dish? Why not try another wine club-approved choice, Gnarley Head CAB:


This stuff is REALLY good.  It won our blind taste testing for reds at the Christmas partay!

I hope you guys have a fantastic weekend with family, friends, pets, your couch, a glass of wine... ;)

**Something to comment about {to get your name in the pot for the giveaway!}: What do you do for dinner(s) on the weekends? Cook at home, or eat out at restaurants? {We tend to do both -- one night in, one night out!}**

xoxo

Jess

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Road Tripping!

Good morning everyone!

Happy Thursday -- almost to the weekend!

I am about to take off on a little road trip for a girls weekend back "home" (aka Michigan).  I am SO excited to see my mom, my grandma, and rosie (the pretty puppy!).

Before I take off, I thought I'd share the little snack pack I made myself to take on the road so that I am not tempted to drive through McDonald's for that delicious Shamrock Shake :)

I also added some other goodies so that I can still have my favorite breakfasts/snacks while I'm there.  Just because you're away from home doesn't mean you have to completely abandon your routine!


Snack Pack Revealed...

1) St-RAW-berries :) My fave!

2) (In the tupperware) Turkey and Laughing Cow Light Cheese Sandwich on Whole Wheat Bread with Dijon Mustard (for lunch).

3) Lemon Bar & Blueberry Muffin (excited to try this kind for the first time!) LARABARs.

4) Quaker's Weight Control Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal (for the mornings).

5) I am also TRYING these packets of Justin's (what a name!) almond butter in my oatmeal. I am especially intrigued by the chocolate flavored pack ;) Here's to hoping they don't taste like straight tree bark!

6) To stay hydrated in the dry car -- Vita Coco Coconut Water (with a pink straw, for fun, and to avoid the spillage) + a full CamelBak!!

{What's that? You want a CamelBak too? Enter my giveaway by commenting on a post or becoming a follower before next Wednesday, and you could get your own for FREE!}

7) My latest purchase from lululemon...no, just kidding, it's my makeshift lunch box, since I left my real one somewhere in Chicago like a GOOF (not surprising, I tend to lose all things like this, like water bottles, umbrellas, I could go on...I'm working on it!).

And, at the last minute, I decided to add...


A couple of Dove caramel-filled chocolates -- for the inevitable chocolate craving! Clearly, I can cross hand model off the list of potential future careers.

So hopefully this will all keep me satisfied on the trip there and back!

Well, I better get a move on.  We're going out for sushi tonight, and I am supppper PUMPED. Spicy tuna roll here I come! :)

Don't forget to comment and/or start following for the giveaway, ya'll!!!

**Comment Idea: What are your favorite "healthy" road trip snacks??**

Have a great day and I will see you tomorrow, from Michigan, for freaky Friday (yay!).

xoxo

Jess

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One Month of Blogging Giveaway!

Hi everyone!

It's been a couple of gloomy days here in Chi-town, but it's not slowing this girl down!

So it has officialy been ONE MONTH since I started the blog.

I was a little apprehensive about staring a blog, but I must say, it's been a lot of fun so far! I hope you guys are enjoying it as much as I am :)

In honor of my one month blog-o-versary, and since I LOVE my readers, I am going to do a GIVEAWAY (yayy free stuff, yayy free stuff!).

Here's how it will work:

I'm doing a raffle -- If you comment on a post between now and next Wednesday, your name goes in the "pot" once.  If you sign up to "follow" me between now and then, you get your name put in twice! Woo hoo! I'm pretty sure if you follow me "anonymously" on blogger, I can't see it -- so don't be shy! Don't worry, if you are already following me, I'm putting your name in twice automatically (I got your back!). To get in more times if you are already a follower, comment away.

Ok, so what exactly is the prize?? Drumroll please...

If you win, I will send you:

1) A CamelBak Better Bottle (0.75 liters): As I explained, the bite-n-sip technology on these bottles is amazing for working out! Having this bottle on hand is the only reason why I am able to stay hydrated throughout the day. 


I will let you give me your 2 top color choices and I will see what I can find! :)

2) A $10 Starbucks Giftcard!



This should be enough to get you at least 2 SKIVIZZLES, or whatever other drinks you like!

3) Last, but not least, a small (I'm thinking about 5 bars) assortment of my new favorite LARABARs!


You can either tell me which 5 flavors you want (and I will do my best to find them), or I will come up with the mix!

If you win, you can just email me your address, and I will even take care of the shipping!

Also in honor of one month, I have set up a twitter account, which I swore I would NEVER do, so tweet it while it's hot @BEyesBTales.

AND...wait for it... the blog's got mail!

Email me at brighteyesandbushytales@gmail.com. If you ever have a question, a request for a post, or if you just don't feel comfortable posting on the "comments," feel free to email me at any time! I would LOVE to hear from you!

While I'm on that subject, how have I been doing? Comments? Criticisms? Something you'd like to see more of? Something you'd like to see less of? I want to make reading the blog as enjoyable of an experience as possible for you guys so I'd love feedback!

Thanks for reading friends! :)

xoxo

Jess

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Don't Gym it with the Grumbles

Hi Friends!

As I sit here with a little snackage prior to our night 2 of training, a great topic came to my head: to eat, or not to eat, pre-workout?

I've had a lot of people tell me they have sworn off eating close to when they go work out because either A) it gives them a stomach ache, or B) they think they're going to burn more fat on an empty stomach.

I'm of the opinion that a little nourishment before you get your sweat on is far superior to going to the gym with a growling stomach.

Eating a light, smart snack before your workout gives you more energy to help push yourself harder so you can burn more fat.

While, again, I have no formal fitness or nutrition training, a little research has helped me understand the following...

The "fuel" your body feeds off of when you work out is carbohydrate stored in your muscles and liver in the form of glycogen.  Before carbohydrate is tucked away in your muscles and liver, it enters your bloodstream as glucose (blood sugar), which your body can also use as a source of energy. So basically, if you eat something and provide yourself some carbs shortly before you work out, your body has not just 1, but 2 sources of energy to draw from -- the glucose that is still in your blood, and the stored glycogen.  The extra fuel will help you go stronger for longer.

One other thing to know is that the glycogen in your body gets depleted by as much as 80% after a long night sleep. This means it is much more important to eat something with some carbs before a MORNING workout, to ensure an effective sweat session.

Wow, don't you just feel smarter now?!

Ok, now onto the fun part -- what exactly should you eat before your workout and when?

To avoid feeling sluggish and getting a stomach ache DO NOT eat a large meal shortly before you go to work out. Duh.

With that said, the closer you eat to your workout, the less calories you should eat, and the more you should widdle down the fat and protein content because those things take longer to digest than carbohydrates.  So lets not stop by the McDonald's drive through for a breakfast burrito and hash brown on the way to the gym, capiche?

I like to have a good carbohydrate-rich snack about 90 to 30 minutes before I work out.

Here are my favorites:

1) Get your monkey on! Try eating a small banana -- it will give you good carbs for energy and potassium to help with muscle soreness.


2) A new favorite bar of mine is the LARABAR


These colorful bars-o-goodness are made from simple ingredients (the list is so short it's hard to believe--raw fruit, nuts, and a spice or two).  They are also both dairy and gluten free, have no preservatives, and no added sugar.

They also come in TONS of delicious flavors. My favorite so far is the lemon bar.

Right now I've been eating 1/2 of a bar before workouts, but I will probably bring it up to a whole as we start running longer distances.

If you are interested in giving these bars a try and don't feel like paying $2 a pop for them at the grocery store, you can order them by the box online. You can try the sampler box or if a whole bar is too much for you, consider a box of the minis. There's even a deal going on right now for 20% off your order, until March 31st (use the coupon code LARBIGL11 at checkout). Your welcome! ;)

3) 1/2 of a Whole Wheat English Muffin with Peanut or Almond Butter (I choose Jiff Natural and Thomas 100% Whole Wheat English Muffins).


4) A simple, low fat, smoothie with fresh fruit.  I really like Jamba Juice's Jamba Light Smoothies (I go for a small Strawberry Nirvana).


So if you don't already do it, consider grabbing a small bite to eat shortly before your workout, and see how it affects your performance.  I truly think it makes a difference.

Have a fantastic night, everyone!

xoxo

Jess

Monday, March 21, 2011

Check your symptoms...

Hi guys! 

I'm back (kinda later than I had hoped), as promised, for your Monday HAPPY post! :) 

I wanted to share something interesting I stumbled upon on one of my absolute favorite blogs, The Fitnessista. If you have not checked it out yet, head on over! 

Symptoms of Inner Peace: 


Be on the lookout for symptoms of inner peace. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to inner peace and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.

Some signs and symptoms of inner peace:

1) A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experience.

2) An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.

3) A loss of interest in judging other people.

4) A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

5) A loss of interest in conflict.

6) A loss of the ability to worry. (This is a very serious symptom.)

7) Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.

8) Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.

9) Frequent attacks of smiling.

10) An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.

11) An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to love them back.


I think I've got a pretty bad (GOOD!) case of symptoms 7, 8, 9, and 11, but I really need to work on 4 (I am professionally trained in over-analyzing), 6, and 10. 

What about you guys? What are your symptoms? Have you caught the "bug" or are you still working on it? 

Hope you all are having a relaxing night or sleeping soundly resting up for another great day.

See ya in the AM!

xoxo

Jess

Hitting the Pavement

Hi everyone!

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

I got to see my best friend & favorite workout buddy...


We had a blast with her & her fiancĂ© this weekend and were very sad to see them go. 


You might remember me talking about how they are training for their first full marathon.  Their training is almost done and the race is coming right up -- I know they're going to kick some may-jah booty!


Talking to them about their training really gave us the bug to go out and run another race.


After some looking around, I found a 1/2 marathon in the area this coming June and it looks like we are in! 


13.1 miles round 2 here we come!! :-) 


We're starting a 12-week training program TODAY -- the timing really works out perfectly. 


This time, we're going to try an intermediate training program, incorporating "speed" work to help us hopefully beat our previous times.  If any of you are curious about the program, you can find it here. We are going to"shift" the schedule a little so we don't have 2 runs on the weekends because those can be kind of difficult to squeeze in. 


I'm going to keep up the barre classes, using them as my strength & stretching part of the training.  Barre classes are great for runners because they incorporate tons of stretching, including IT band stretches.


During our training for the race we ran last October, I had a lot of problems with my IT band on my left knee.  It was so painful and I was really worried it was going to hold me back.  I bought a foam roller and started rolling out on it, which helped a lot. 


Ask me again in a few weeks, but right now I'm pretty excited because the weather is finally looking up, I will hopefully get some remnants of a tan from spending the extra time outside, and it will whip me into summer shape for...




Bikini I plan to live in on my post-Bar exam trip!!!! Cha-chinggg :) And no, I do not expect to look like that, I'm not delusional.  Just excited to tone it all up so I can enjoy a few extra pina coladas.  Priorities, people!


You guys can get excited too, especially if you like to run outside, because I will probably be posting quite a few running party playlists.  I know, you're jumping up and down, right?! 


I'll be back later today for your daily dose of happiness, so stay tuned...


xoxo


Jess

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fiesta Friday

Good Morning Everyone,

Happy Freaky Friday!

If you celebrated a little too hard yesterday, take a look at my recovery post from earlier this week.  I know our neighborhood was ba-nanas last night, I was dodging wannabe leprechauns all the way to the grocery store.

One thing thing that I often crave on weekends is...MEXICAN food! This girl cannot resist some chips, salsa, queso, guac, margaritas... Clearly, I could go on.

One of my favorite ways to healthify Mexican is to pull out my inner chef and get cooking at home.

One of my very best friends, Megan, taught me how to master the art of enchiladas my first year in Chicago. Thank you, Megan!! :) I've tweaked the dish a little along the way, to make it a little more waistline friendly since I do make it so much.

*The power is in the ingredients you choose and the portions you use.*

This one is definitely a crowd-pleaser and it makes for AMAZING leftovers.

HEALTHY-ISH CHICKEN ENCHILADAS: 




6 to 8 Large Whole Wheat Tortillas -- I use LaTortilla Factory's Smart & Delicious Tortillas (they're high fiber, low carb, and GOOD!)



Mexican Rice -- Ok, this one is kinda tough because I have gotten hooked on using this bagged high sodium, zero nutrition, rice because it tastes like a party in my mouth:


If you're really sticking to your guns, opt for some brown rice in this recipe.  If I'm being honest, I'm probably going to keep using my highly-processed rice, until I find a worthy alternative (suggestions welcome!). For now, I just limit it to 2 *small* spoonfuls of the rice in each tortilla, and I never end up using the whole bag for the dish.  No deprivation, people! :)

3 Medium Sized Boneless-Skinless Chicken Breasts -- Aim for about 1 to 1.5 pound, cut into small (1/2 inch) cubes.

Fajita Seasoning: If you're in a hurry, buy a low-sodium pack from the store, or, do what I do, make your own! It is super easy and you will feel chef-tastic.

2 tsp. Chili Powder
1 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp. Onion Powder
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1/4 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes (you can add more, depending on how spicy you likey).
1/2 tsp. ground Cumin
Salt to taste

1 to 2 Cups Lower Fat Shredded Mexican Cheese -- If you're a Dominick's shopper, I choose Lucerne 2% Shredded Mexican Cheese.

Small Container of Salsa -- My favorite is Jack's Medium Salsa, just can't get enough of this stuff.



Enchilada Sauce -- You know the drill, find something lower in sodium at the store (you'll need 1.5 cups), or channel your inner Emeril and make your own. Click HERE for my go-to enchilada sauce recipe.

Step #1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Step #2: Cook your rice.  Whatever rice you choose, just follow the directions on the box/bag/packet.

Step #3: In a 12-inch skillet spray some PAM or add 1 tbsp. EVOO.  Add the chicken and your fajita seasoning (if you bought a packet, follow the directions on there).  Cook for about 7ish minutes until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.

Step #4: Now you're ready to roll 'em up. WARNING: This can get messy!

Put about 1/4 a cup at a time of your enchilada sauce on a large plate.  Take 1 tortilla and dip both sides in the sauce on the plate until well covered.  Then, transfer tortilla to another plate or a large cutting board. Start with the rice.  Line about 1/4 cup of rice in the middle of the tortilla.  Top the rice with some of the chicken (maybe about 1/3 cup?).  Cover the chicken with about 2 tbsp. of salsa.  Sprinkle some of the Mexican Cheese (a couple of spoonfuls) on top of the salsa.

Now, take one edge of the tortilla and bring it over the top of the mixture -- and start rolling! If you're going for 8 enchiladas, your going to need to roll them tightly!  Once it's rolled, place the enchilada seam-side down into a 13 by 9 inch pan (I use a glass Pyrex pan).

Repeat times 6 or 8 depending on how many you're making.

Step #5: Once all of your enchiladas are in the pan, cover them with some more enchilada sauce (if you bought a little can, use the remainder. If you made your own, drizzle about 1/2 a cup at a time to your desired coverage). Then top off the whole dish with the remainder of the Mexican cheese.

Step #6: Pop your fiesta into the oven, uncovered, for 15 minutes, until the cheese melts.

Step #7: Let them cool, serve, & enjoy! :)  You can even top your enchilada with a small spoonful of low fat sour cream (I like Daisy Light).

If you'd like to sip on a margarita with this recipe, try this amazing invention from Bethenny Frankel: The SkinnyGirl Margarita!



Only 100 calories per serving! Where's my sombrero?!?!

If you can't find the pre-bottled stuff at your store, don't fret! You can order a bottle (or two!) online, or you can make your own SkinnyGirl margs with this recipe. So delicious and refreshing!


Hope you all have a fantastic weekend! Mine is set for some good times with some GREAT friends :) I'm pretty pumped!

xoxo

Jess

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Luck of the Irish

Good Morning!

Happy St. Patty's Day! Don't forget to put on something green to avoid the pinches! :)

Chicago is expereincing a heat wave -- 60ish degrees and sunny! Hallelujah! It truly feels like a different city, and I'm pretty sure I have been walking around with a goofy grin.

Justin & I got in a nice little run last night.  I broke out my go-to running shorts, and was not the least bit chilly. We half-accidentally ran almost 4 miles.  That's pretty darn good considering the running hiatus I have been on since our half marathon.  It was really nice to run while it was still light out so I could look in all the cool stores we passed along the way.  One of the great things about living in a city is that you can run down the same street hundreds of times and notice something new on every trip. One of the not-so-great things is running past about 10 pizza places and 20 hot-dog stands before dinner...pure torture!

After our run, all of the stretches at Barre class this morning were much appreciated.

So was this...



And this...



Mmm! Strawwwberries.  We have been out of peanut butter for 2 days now, no bueno :(

I'm in for a busy day at work today, followed by some fun at a little St. Patty's Day par-tay.

Hope you all have a lovely lucky day of the Irish!


This puppy is ready to party! ;)

See you all tomorrow for fuh-reaky Friday!

xoxo

Jess

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring Workout Wear

Good morning everyone! Happy Hump Day! :)

Spring is upon us, which means a lot of people are looking to put away their long pants and sweatshirts and bring out the cute tanks and shorts for their workouts.  

With that in mind, I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite workout wear for Spring!  

Victoria's Secret Girlfriend Tank: These tanks are one of my staples.  They are long and very flattering, super soft, and they are somehow amazingly shrink resistant in the wash.  I discovered these last summer and have a bunch of them that I wear over a sports bra to go work out, under other sweaters and tops for everyday wear, and for pajamas! They are usually $18 a piece, but you can get them online right now for only $12.50! 


They have a ba-gillion colors, and they just came out with these funky striped ones for Spring! 


Lululemon Push Ur Limits Tank: I recently picked up one of these tanks from lululemon after seeing so many girls with the CUTEST tanks from there.  I have not been disappointed.  I would usually never go sans-sports bra, but this top truly does have enough support to go freely.  It's also moisture wicking, which is great for activities like spin, involving the super sweats.  It looks like they only have the black available online, but I know they had tons of color options in the store when I was there last.  What is great about ordering online through lululemon is they offer FREE shipping! Woo hooo!


Look how great the back looks! Guaranteed to cause some work-out-gear-envy at your gym. 


Nike Tempo Shorts: I'm sure 99.9% of the women in the world who work out have discovered these amazing shorts, but I thought they still deserved some credit.  After years of searching for a good pair of running shorts, these came out, and I haven't looked back since.  They are super flattering, made from Dri-FIT material, and they don't ride up -- so you won't get the stares from everyone at the gym as you constantly "fix" yourself on the treadmill.  They have a MILLION different color combos. Nordstrom usually has some good options online, and they seem to have maybe gone down in price?? Only $28 a pair, not too shabby.


Lululemon Hot Move Shorts: If you're a fan of Bikram Yoga, you will love these lightweight shorts.  They are PRETTY short, but anyone who has done yoga in 105 degrees knows that less is more, and you will not be the one showing the most booty in these!


I have a pair that I bought last summer in the black/grey print, but I think the "Unicorn Tears" print could be kinda fun, especially for spring! They've also added a cool little draw-string to the side of the shorts now.

Lululemon Wunder Under Crop: If you're like me, you love to workout in capris, even in the Spring/Summer.  For spin and barre classes, lightweight crops are my go-to.  I discovered this amazing invention recently, and again, I won't ever be turning back!  Lululemon Wunder Under Crops are moisture wicking, which is great for spin, and there is something about the material that makes you look great in all the right places, kinda like SPANKZ! They even have a hidden pocket in the waistband that is perfect for a couple of $$ or small keys.


Goody StayPut Hair Bands: These are kind of a no brainer.  Especially as it warms up outside, every girl wants something to keep those fly-aways from buzzing in her face as she gets her sweat on.  These Hair Bands stay in place and they do not give you a headache or pull painfully on your hair. They come in both basic and fun colors! I pick some up every once in a while at Target.  


Lululemon Untwisted Headband (shown in "sprinkler ikat"): For you fashionistas, I recently stumbled across this pretty headband on the lulu website.  It gets great reviews for the luon fabric, which catches sweat and dries quickly.  It is also pretty good about staying in place, but best with a lower pony tail, and probably lower intensity workouts where you're not whipping your hair back-and-forth, like yoga or a barre classes.  It is also REVERSIBLE! The other side is plain bright blue. Funnnn. 


I am *trying* to generate some more comments from you guys...I know you all have great ideas to add!  So, does anyone out there have a great suggestion for spring workout wear?? Comment away! 

Have a great day! It looks like a sunny one here in Chicago! :) 

xoxo

Jess

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait?

Good EVENING everyone!

Blogging later than usual today.  Holy BA-geez, today was a crazy day! Tuesdays are becoming sneaky insane for me.  I had another big paper to turn in this morning and then I was swamped at work.  That's okay though, sometimes I think I thrive under pressure :)

So, since I was pretty much a waste of life on Sunday, I didn't make my usual grocery store trip to stock up for the week.  Bummer city.

To my surprise, I had a pretty pleasant mid-week trip tonight.

First little surprise:


StRaWbErRiEs! They're back!! :)  I am SO excited to have some of these back in my life.  Definitely having some in my oats tomorrow AM.

I stood in front of these guys for a good 3 minutes thinking to myself, "Do I dare??" I inspected them pretty carefully, and I must say, they looked pretty. darn. good.  Also, I'm a huge sucker for the 2-for-1.  We will be stocked up for a while now.

Speaking of strawberries, onto my next surprise:


CHOBANI Strawberrry Banana Greek Yogurt!

Trying to find this stuff is like looking for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

It is Justin's favorite, so I have been dilligently searching for it all over town.  I think I might have looked in 4 different grocery stores trying to get my hands on some in the last 2 weeks.  Lots of stores don't have it, and our Jewel has usually run out by the time I get there on Sundays.  I even looked into trying to order it online -- not successful.

Maybe going in the middle of the week is the trick.  I guess good things really do come to those who wait! ;)

I complain every week about having to go to the grocery store, but secretly I think I kinda love it.  I find it a little cathartic...go ahead, call me crazy! Who's with me??

Hope you all have a nice night!

xoxo

Jess