Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Grain-free chocolate chip and banana muffins

I've been wanting to bake some muffins for a while now, so when the fitnessista's grain-free chocolate chip muffins recipe popped up last week, I bookmarked it right away and looked forward to making them on my day off on Friday.

Since I had a ripe banana, I tweaked the recipe a bit by adding a mashed banana, which in turn added more time for them in the oven. That was ok though because the end result was delicious and healthy!

It was a delicious treat with a cup of coffee!

They may not look pretty, but they sure are tasty!

Grain-free chocolate chip banana muffins

by Lisa, adapted from the fitnessista blog
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 25
Keywords: bake breakfast almond meal
Ingredients (6 muffins)
  • 1 container of organic cinnamon applesauce (127g)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ripe mashed banana
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with muffin papers.
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well-combined.
Divide the mixture evenly to pour into six of the muffin papers.
Bake for 22-25 minutes at 350 degrees.
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Monday, May 26, 2014

Kite Festival and Lunch at Pizza Man

The holiday weekend fun continued for us on Sunday when we went to the Kite Festival at Veteran's Park and then to Pizza Man for lunch after.

I didn't get any pictures of them, but the festival had a few drones flying around, which Craig is obsessed with. He'd like one for his birthday. Yeah, I don't think that's going to happen.

We stayed at the festival longer than expected because we waited for the noon kite launch. It was cool to see everyone's kites up in the sky, including a huge octopus one that isn't shown in the photo below.

Pizza Man restaurant is very popular in Milwaukee. We both had never been before, so we were looking forward to trying somewhere new.

The pizza we ordered, Topher, was delicious and unique tasting. It was topped with jalapeƱos, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, and tomato sauce. Craig's half had sausage. What a fantastic combination of ingredients!

If it wasn't so caloric/fattening, I'd put cream cheese on pizza all of the time!

I'm already looking forward to going back to Pizza Man to try another type of pizza. Their artichoke based one sounds fantastic! Now I just need to go with someone who likes artichokes (Craig thinks he doesn't, but I don't think he has ever tried them).

After lunch, we browsed Boswell Books and I contemplated whether or not I wanted to sign up for the Elizabeth Gilbert event there on July 9th. 

Finally, I went into Whole Foods (I found that steaz tea) for a few things while Craig stayed in the car. I ran into my friend Jenny there randomly, so that was a fun surprise! 

Pizza Man
2597 N Downer Ave
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53211

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Aztalan and Water House Bistro, Lake Mills

It's been a busy holiday weekend for us! Yesterday, we went to Aztalan State Park and Lake Mills. Both of us had never been to the park and the city, so it was fun to check out someplace new!
We hiked around most of the park. Aztalan is the site where an ancient Mississippian culture lived from the 10th through the 13th centuries. They were known for their mounds, which likely did not serve as burial sites.

We were there around lunch time, so I had my heart set on eating at Water House Bistro in downtown Lake Mills. Craig chose fast food instead. Water House was featured on Wisconsin Foodie recently too!

Craig normally doesn't drink iced tea or tea of any kind, but he loved this drink as much as I did! I want to find this in the store and buy more for a refreshing summer drink to keep in the refrigerator (they're available locally at Whole Foods and Woodman's).

I ordered a hummus wrap, which had garlic hummus, avocado, Hook's cheddar, and fresh vegetables in a whole wheat tortilla. It was very delicious!

One of the reasons I wanted to eat at Water House was because they support local farmers and suppliers! Check out this huge list.

They also sold so many local products (including Oskri bars, which I love).

I wanted something sweet after my meal, so I bought a cherry scone. It was one of the best scones I have ever had. So moist and tasty!

I wish we lived closer to Water House, because I know I would love to hang out there, sip coffee and read (while eating another scone, of course). 

My cousin Lynn lives in Lake Mills and her and her husband run two businesses there. She saw we were at Aztalan and messaged me via Facebook to let me know she was working at her store that day, so we stopped by to say hi and visit! It was really nice to connect with a family member who I don't get to see that often and I know she felt the same way.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Long Weekend So Far

How is your holiday weekend treating you!? Mine has been super busy, but in a good way!

On Thursday night, Craig and I played tennis for the first time in two years! I love tennis and yet we didn't play last summer, because I didn't want to injure my ankle even more before my surgery. We're always pretty bad in the beginning of the summer, so we didn't play a proper game and just hit the ball around.

I had off on Friday, so I started my day with a much needed pedicure. Love the bright pink OPI polish!

I went grocery shopping after and found this to try out later that night. It was ok.

I rocked out to the Summer Hits of the 2000s while baking!

I baked some muffins, which I'll post a recipe for on the blog sometime soon. It's adapted from another blogger's recipe.

Since the oven was hot, I roasted up some broccoli with nutritional yeast on top. So good. 

I made sure to leave some time to read a book outside and I enjoyed a three berry bowl while I did so.

Since I was reading a book about moving more (The Body Book), I decided to listen to Cameron Diaz's advice and get myself moving on a walk around our neighborhood.

I listened to a few podcasts, including a new to me one, Jazzy Vegetarian. I am not quite sure how I feel about this podcast yet. I'll listen to a few more episodes and decide then.

The kitties were absolutely crazy mid-morning and then were wiped out later in the day. 

When Craig got home from work, we ran to the mall because I had some free money to spend and I couldn't pass up that offer!

It's been a productive weekend! I just wish I had more time to read and bake a strawberry rhubarb crumble, but perhaps that will come on Monday when it's supposed to thunderstorm.

Food Truck Thursday, Milwaukee

I bring my lunch nearly every day of the work week, so I decided to be a little adventurous this summer and try some of the food truck options near the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

I walked to "Food Truck Thursday" this week and checked out the selections. There were more trucks there than in years past and that meant a much better variety. I also found more vegetarian options, which made me so happy!

Simmer Truck served soup, but I also spotted a Quinoa salad with black beans and kale on their menu. I will be back for that in the future, especially when I am really hungry and craving that sort of thing.

Both The Fast Foodie and Terri's Cafe had nice selections as well.

Eventually, I settled on American Euros. It is a gyro stand (and they have a restaurant on the East side of Milwaukee), but they had a vegetarian and vegan option. I asked what was on the vegan one and it sounded delicious: olive paste, roasted red peppers, onions, Sriracha, lettuce and Greek vinaigrette. Unfortunately, they went a little heavy on the last two ingredients and not on the others. It was still tasty, but super messy.

When I got back to work, I wanted something sweet so I bought a fruit cup from our cafe.

The Journal Sentinel recently had an article on the new food trucks showing up around town by dining critic Carol Deptolla, so check it out! Bubble Tea Fusion is mentioned in it and they were at Food Truck Thursday. I have heard from non-native Milwaukeeans that it is difficult to get bubble tea around here and I hadn't heard of it or tried it until I lived in California.

Has the food truck craze hit your city?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

West Allis Farmers Market: A Weeknight Experience

I'm giving myself a little challenge this summer and fall--get to as many Milwaukee area farmers markets as possible and blog about my experiences!

I've been to the West Allis Farmers Market before, but never on a weekday. I decided to stop there after work tonight and check out what was in season and for sale.

According to the website, the market has been around since approximately 1919! Wow!

If you're looking to start your garden, now is a good time to get to the market and check out their plants.

Craig and I purchased a strawberry plant hanging plant at the market two years ago and while we only got about one piece of fruit per day, it was fun to grow fruit for a change!

There were lots of pretty flowers to check out!

Seeing this group of colorful flowers instantly put me in a good mood!

I ended up picking out this pretty pink dahlia plant. I never get to buy flowers or receive them as a gift because of the cats, so I really wanted to grow some this year.

Besides flowers and vegetable plants, I found hanging flower baskets; Apple Holler donuts, pies, bread, salsas, jellies; a beef stand; asparagus; and rhubarb. 

Since it's early in the season, I didn't expect to find a huge market full of vendors, but I really look forward to when it fills up a little more! 

West Allis Farmers Market
Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon to 6:00 p.m.
Saturdays, 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Monday, May 19, 2014

My First Time Working Out with a Personal Trainer

Even though I became certified as a NASM personal trainer last fall, I haven't trained anyone myself yet. My physical therapy office recently offered me a free trial of a nearby gym and a fitness assessment and one personal training session. I didn't need the gym membership, but I was happy to be able to work out with a trainer for free!

Fitness Assessment

Four days before my actual training session, I met with the trainer assigned to me for about a half hour for the fitness assessment portion. She had me fill out the PAR-Q to see if I had any medical conditions she should be aware of, particularly any undiagnosed or diagnosed heart conditions.

We moved onto her asking me about my goals for the session and with my fitness/body in general. Like most people, I'd love to lose some weight and admitted that maybe I am not working hard enough at the gym. My trainer said that we'd work my entire body, but I told her I wanted to focus more on core and arm exercises.

Next, we discussed nutrition and she wanted to know what I ate in a typical day. I told her I was a vegetarian and she said it sounded like I was getting enough protein.

My least favorite part came last--the weigh-in, body fat calculation and measurements. Now I know how clients would feel about this emotionally, especially since I don't typically have issues with my body.

The training session

We met for a 45 minute workout. Admittedly, I was a little nervous! I only completed two sets of these exercises, but she recommended three total sets of 15 reps.

  • plank on a Swiss Ball for 60 seconds
  • pass throughs
  • back extension
  • Roman chair
Total body and legs:
  • Kettle bell squat
  • walking lunge
  • step up shoulder press
  • Incline pushup
  • bent over row
  • lat pulldown
  • tricep pushdown

I recovered with one of these drinks, which my mom purchases at Costco. It tasted great and has a whopping 30 grams of protein!

For the next two days, I had DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and I'd say that the trainer did her job!

I never told my trainer that I was recently certified myself, as I wanted to ask some questions about her career, the long hours, the fulfillment she gets from helping people, etc. In the end, I concluded that I would love to train people part-time, but shouldn't ever consider it for a full-time job because the long hours and weekends would probably frustrate me.

I plan to incorporate the exercises she taught me into my regular routine and I think that if I feel bored at the gym ever again, it would be fun to hire a trainer.

Have you ever worked out with a personal trainer?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Nasty Fall

I worked yesterday morning, so my weekend was cut short a little bit. I made sure to enjoy every minute of the rest of it. Thank god this week is a four day one for me and then I have four days off thanks to the holiday!

After I rested at home (I punched into work at 5:45 am), we decided to visit the new Buca di Beppo at Southridge Mall for lunch. Craig had never been to a Buca restaurant before, so he really enjoyed the fun interior and hilarious photos inside. He said I could use the silly photo of him imitating the guy eating spaghetti.

Craig ordered lasagna and I had eggplant parmigiana with spicy roasted broccoli on the side. Both were delicious!

Later on, we visited Stein's Garden and Gifts for some plants. We started with purchasing three different tomato plants and a pepper. I love getting our garden started!

We wanted to get out on another long bike ride today, so we packed up and prepared for it mid-morning. I just purchased these amino acids via Vitascost and we shared a couple of glasses of it to fuel our workout. The flavor is pretty good! I like using amino acids for summer workouts.

Luckily, when I was packing, I decided to randomly bring three small band aids, just in case one of us fell and needed them. Unfortunately, I must have been a bit psychic. 

Instead of picking up where we left off last week, we started further down on Drexel Avenue, where a bike path existed. We biked from 13th and Drexel to Grant Park beach. It was cooler out, which was perfect for a ride.

The path wasn't our favorite, mostly because it wasn't a straight, smooth one and we had to go up and down a lot of curbs throughout the beginning of our trip.

We were almost to Grant Park when I experienced a nasty fall. I was trying to get up an uneven part of the pavement and Craig was ahead of me. My tire slid into the concrete edge and I fell onto the pavement and braced myself with my hands. Luckily, I fell in a way that prevented me from breaking my arm, so it could have been worse. I have a huge red gash on my right knee, I tore my pants, bruised and hurt my left leg, by the ankle I just had surgery on, and I think I sprained my pinky finger. I really hope it's not broken (I can't quite bend it all the way). Craig ran over to help and get me bandaged up. While I hurt all over, I decided to continue riding. I was so freaked out from the fall though so I proceeded to be very careful the rest of the trip.

Finally, we reached Grant Park beach and walked our bikes down the huge hill! We rested there with gorgeous views of Lake Michigan. This time, I brought lots of food and an electrolyte drink!

On our way to the beach, we saw a Dairy Queen and I gave into the temptation on the way back! I needed a chocolatey and comforting treat after that fall!

Craig wanted me to document what a weird ride it was--we had to constantly stop and start because his cyclometer wasn't working, we saw a guy sleeping in a hammock behind the DQ dumpster (gross, must have smelled awful), I saw a dead baby bird when I came out of the bathroom by the beach, we saw people foraging for something in the woods on the trail (we made lots of conclusions about what they could be looking for, my guess was ramps or mushrooms) and we saw a couple of creepy dudes along the way.

We are so close to being done with the main parts of the Oak Leaf Trail. There is just a tiny section near Downtown Milwaukee that we have to cover. It's been so much fun to challenge ourselves to biking different parts.

Our total mileage was 15.09, not bad!