Whole30, Round 2

After the holidays, Justin and I decided we needed a reset on our bodies and a reset mentally, given the way we had been attacking every morsel of food in front of us. We were each down 30-40 pounds from two years ago when we first did Whole30, so round 2 began on January 17. We knew the deal this time – so it required no studying, just prepping.

If you haven’t heard of Whole30, join us from under your rock and visit this website. (Just kidding…but really, it’s exploded in the past couple of years). No prepared products, no gluten, no wheat, no dairy, no soy. Just good, whole foods – protein, good fat, veggies and limited fruit.

I got serious on Pinterest and pinned some amazing things and off we went to prepping. Again, the first time we did this I was so over feeling icky in my own skin. I was at my heaviest and just generally unhappy with myself. So I NEEDED to lose weight and this just jump started things. However, this time Justin and I both are much happier with our health and weight – we just needed a reset. And for that reason, this round of Whole30 royally irritated me, if I’m being honest. We know how to eat now – whereas we did not before. I thought it was fine to eat whatever then workout. But now, for the most part, we eat pretty healthy and Whole30 about 70% of the time. So dang it, if I want a peanut M&M in the middle of the afternoon, I want to have one. So where I needed the strictness of Whole30 the first round, I did not enjoy it this time. It aggravated me and made me want to bail completely. I honestly would have if Justin wasn’t shedding like 10 more pounds before my very eyes. He killed it.

But, despite my grumbling, we did find some delicious recipes. You can find most of these on my Whole30 Pinterest Board. We will definitely keep making a lot of these in the regular rotation.

I should also note that we made it 27 of 30 days until we ate this. And I’m not even mad about it.

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That chocolate piñata was delicious and I’d eat it again right now. Because you know, everything in moderation…even moderation.

Whole27 probably won’t catch on.

 

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Spaghetti and Zoodles

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Chicken Fried “Rice” (Cauliflower Rice)

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Tuna Stuffed Avocado Boats

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Chicken and Zuchinni Poppers with Homemade Cilantro Ranch

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Spinach Salad with Homemade Cilantro Ranch

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Costco (Kirkland brand) Smoked Pulled Pork, Sauteed Spinach and Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

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Sweet Potato Hash and a Fried Egg

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Grilled Salmon with Avocado, Cilantro Cream Spaghetti Squash

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Pork Chop with Orange Pecan Pesto

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Buffalo Chicken and Spaghetti Squash Casserole

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Grilled Mahi Mahi, Mango Salsa and Fried Cauliflower Rice

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Pork Egg Roll in a Bowl (probably our favorite!)

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Two Ingredient Pancakes (eggs and bananas)

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Spicy Ground Turkey and Green Bean Stirfry

XOXO,

Jenn

Official Nashville Hipsters

Hipsters — such an overused word. But still, as I approach my mid-thirties (gulp), I think I aspire to be one. #noshame

Since moving to the Nations, Justin and I have totally embraced being city mice — riding our bicycles as much as possible. Blazing new greenways. Tying the bikes up at the local watering hole, having a craft beer and cruising home. This weekend and its phenomenal weather set the scene just perfectly for another Nashville Hipster weekend. Bring your beard.

Friday night when Justin got home around 5 or 5:30, we tore straight out the door for the 12 South neighborhood. We had a Nashville Originals gift card from my amazing realtor, Frank J. Miles, and it was burning a hole in our pockets! We started with Happy Hour at Bartaco (best margarita in town – no joke) and then headed to Urban Grub for dinner.

Urban Grub. We sat right there by the fireplace. It was perfection.

Y’all — that dinner. We hadn’t been to Urban Grub! It’s rare to find a place that neither of us have been, so this was a treat. They fly their seafood and Oysters in FRESH, like that day, and dry age and butcher their meat in house. Justin had the most massive NY Strip I’ve ever seen. The menu says it’s 16 oz, but I’m not sure how that is possible. It appeared to be about 55 oz if I had to guess. I had the Lobster Casarecce (pasta), add truffle oil. YEP. Oh yeah, and throw in some grits with house-made bacon on top as our side. If you haven’t been to Urban Grub, I highly, highly recommend it. Just wear your stretchy pants and go for it.

Saturday morning, after sleeping off our food coma, we hopped on our bikes about 10 a.m. Justin needed a haircut — so first stop was Scout’s Barbershop in Sylvan Park, which is about 2 miles away. This place is dreamy, y’all. Justin got an old fashioned barbershop trim and a rinse for $15. YEP.

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Scout’s Barbershop

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Scout’s

Next up we cruised over to McCabe Pub right as they opened the doors for a quick lunch. McCabe’s is a staple in Sylvan Park and oh so good. I had the Chef Salad – Justin had the spicy chicken sandwich.

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McCabe Pub

My main priority this day was to get new tires on my bike. They were worn down (I purchased this baby off Craigslist about 4 years ago but it’s mostly been sitting in storage. Still, the tires were ready for a change. I’d already had one flat tube). ALSO, because I own a cougar cub masquerading as a kitten, my handlebar tape looks like this. WHAT did that tape ever do to you, Fiona!? I can’t be driving around looking like that.

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Fiona strikes again

So we left McCabe’s and headed to West End (a short 3-4 miles) to Cumberland Transit. I used to live almost right above Cumberland Transit and these guys are a staple in the Nashville outdoor arena. Fishing, biking, running, camping…they’ve got everything you need.

The guy was like “WOW…dog?” No, cat. He was impressed.

He was like “well, let’s pick out some tape — we have lots of colors.” I said “eh, probably just white again. The bike is orange so I’m not sure anything else will look good.” He said “well, you haven’t seen all the colors we have.” Boy was he right…SEAFOAM!! Seafoam and orange obviously go together.

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Seafoam!

While we waited on the bike (which really needs a name, I think), we went next door to Three Brothers Coffee. This really upped our hipster status. I mean, while we were sipping our lattes a guy came in chewing on a deer antler. Just, you know, chewing on a deer antler like it was a piece of hay or something. I think those are for dogs, but whatever dude. Maybe I should get a deer antler…

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Three Brothers Coffee

Most weekends we head South and see the McCombs family — Justin usually gets involved in some sort of brief manual labor with his Dad. This weekend was moving the grill, which we promptly broke in on the new deck.

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Sunday we finally went back to Crosspoint! We love Crosspoint Church so much. Now that wedding and moving craziness is behind us we can’t wait to get more involved and regular.

After some errands and a workout at Planet Fitness, we’d earned dinner  — so we hopped on the bikes and headed to the other side of the neighborhood for 51st Kitchen and Bar. Y’all. I love this place so much. And this Sunday was particularly special. They were having a neighborhood picnic/pop-up dinner with a guest chef and for $35/head it was all-you-can-eat gourmet picnic food. Like, the best mac n’ cheese I may have ever had. Grilled chicken wings with chimichurri. Homemade slaw with shrimp. I mean, it just went on and on. Delicious. Oh and $5 craft cocktails. YEP!

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51st Kitchen – Blood Orange Mule and a Malbec

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All you can eat? Yes please.

We finished the weekend on our back porch with the babies. Right where we should be. They cannot get enough of the back porch and watching the birds and eating bugs (OK, mostly Fiona. Dixie prefers eating mulch). We are loving life and loving Nashville so much. Don’t even deserve this beautiful life — but thanking God for every moment we get it.

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Our backyard oasis

XOXO,

Jenn

White Cheddar, Green Onion Pimento Cheese

I made this delicious pimento cheese over the weekend and posted a photo on the social medias, and several people asked for the recipe — so here you go!

I finally read my July issue of Southern Living and this is what happens. Since I couldn’t eat all of the watermelon, peach or cucumber recipes (since it’s almost October now), I opted for the year-round, ever-enjoyable cheese.

Disclaimer – this recipe is adapted from Southern Living’s. I say adapted, because I accidentally grabbed green onions from the store instead of chives. Win.

But I thoroughly enjoy green onions, so I’d do it again. If you want chives though, do 1/3 cup of chives instead of the 1/4 cup green onions.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 (12-oz.) block aged sharp white Cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 (4-oz.) jar diced pimiento, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Grate half of cheese using the large holes of a box grater; grate remaining half of cheese using the small holes of box grater. Stir together mayonnaise and next 6 ingredients. Stir in Cheddar cheese until well blended. Let stand 15 minutes. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 3 days.

XOXO,
Jenn

If Heaven is a Restaurant, it’s the Catbird Seat

For my 30th birthday, all I wanted to give myself (treat yo’ self, as Kim would say) was a dinner out at the Catbird Seat. For those of you who are living under a rock, the Catbird Seat is a restaurant in Nashville that’s been featured in Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Southern Living, Travel + Leisure, etc. It’s one of the top restaurants in the country, and I’d venture to say a trailblazer in putting Nashville on the culinary map.

So what’s all the fuss about?

The food. Dear baby Jesus – the food.

But the experience, too. You see, you don’t walk into the Catbird Seat and order some chicken fingers. You must have a reservation. You can only get a reservation within 30 days of when you’d like to go, and you must do it online. You cannot call from your prepaid cellular device. So if you want to go eat there 30 days from now, you get online at midnight and start clicking before the reservations are all gone…because they will be, in seconds.

Then you arrive 15 minutes apart from each of the other parties for that evening. And you sit at one of 32 seats at a square bar around the kitchen, where award-winning chefs greet you, prepare your meal and serve it to you while explaining what it is, how you eat it and then stand there and shoot the breeze with you about things like music and Amsterdam.

You eat 10 courses of the most delightful culinary treats you’ve ever experienced. You don’t order anything – it’s all chef’s choice. Oh, and you have a wine or cocktail pairing with each course. (insert drunk face here).

It is a nearly three-hour-long, foodgasmic party in your mouth where no one overstays their welcome.

And y’all. I don’t really get star-struck in this fair city often – but being the food lover that I am, I knew I’d totally GEEK out over eating here and seeing Erik Anderson in the flesh. In front of me. Cooking food for me. Serving food to me. Talking about food to me. I want to be his best friend and awkwardly show up for dinner unannounced every Sunday.

So we went. We ate and drank. And it did not disappoint. Here is the play by play.

The Catbird Seat.

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We arrived, were welcomed by the hostess and rode up the elevator with her babbling about I don’t know what because OMGI’MABOUTTOEATATTHECATBIRDSEATSHUTUP!

We were seated and then greeted by a tiny plate already waiting on us, with the chef’s version of Nashville’s famous hot chicken.

Crispy chicken skin and a “Wonder Bread” puree. Y’all.

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The wine and cocktail pairing is $40 per person and worth every dime. (Also, take a cab).

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This was another one of our “snacks” and part of the first course. I failed to take a photo of the others before I inhaled them. But this was a beef tartare. Amazing.

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Oh hey famous chef Erik.

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This was a melon salad. And you’re all like “oh melon salad, whatevs.” No. It was to die for. Those little melon balls almost changed my life. There was an avocado puree, some sort of foam and mint and salt something or another that made it to die for.

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This was a celery root that was served on a super hot plate with foie gras shaved over the top. (Foie Gras = duck or goose liver that has been especially fattened). That foie gras melted like butter on the hot root and hot plate and we were encouraged to eat it quickly. Um, no problem.
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Mashed potatoes. But not your grandmas. These had golden caviar underneath and cured sturgeon with lemon thyme. You know, like you do. Amazing, but probably the least impressive thing we ate.

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Now we’re getting to the good stuff. I had known three other friends/acquaintances who ate at the Catbird Seat and two of the three were served Pigeon. Make that three now, counting me. I was so scared and excited when this came up. LOOK at that claw.

And aren’t pigeon’s referred to as “rats with wings?” They are gross, annoying animals. But I would have eaten a frosted turd if Erik Anderson served it to me.

So, he put this in front of us and explained it and I had heard to ask a lot of questions, when you eat at the Catbird. So the best I could come up with was, “How far down this little claw leg can I eat?” Well played.

He said, “well, that’s a bone – so don’t eat it.” Sweet, dude. Y’all. A real, single tear came to my eye when I ate this dish. We will all be eating pigeon in Heaven. Real talk.

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After. Like a boss!

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This was maybe my favorite cocktail that got major points for creativity. It was sweet tea, but real tea leaves were infused in riesling instead of water. That’s how we should all be drinking our tea, folks.

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This was a top contender for favorite dish, as well. Wagyu beef ribeye that simply melted in your mouth. The watercress puree was really strong — watercress is just such a distinct flavor. I loved it, but it could have ruined it for you if it’s not a flavor you like.

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We should always have a cheese course – with every meal. This was harbison cheese, which was kind of the consistency of brie, but twenty times tastier – served inside a hollowed out shallot with a mushy cherry compote of some kind. I don’t know — but it was good.

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Hey drinks! And the first of three dessert courses. YES! Sweet corn ice cream, y’all. It was SO good. Served in a potato cone with shaved truffle on top. Truffle is such an overwhelming flavor when served in this quantity — but with the ice cream it was on point. This was a super savory dessert, as well.

IMG_2455Another savory-ish dessert. Maple, bacon, thyme custard served inside a real eggshell with a tiny real piece of bacon. I almost licked the inside of the egg.

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Finally — a little smorgasbord of vanilla cake, cherry crisp, oak wood ice cream and pineapple gelee. But the star of this show were the bourbon beads. Close up in the next photo.

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So that bourbon bead you see there was a tiny, gel casing that when bit into shot straight bourbon into your mouth. It was the craziest thing and I don’t know how they made them, but I could have eaten a million. I would have died, but it would have been sort of worth it. They were delicious!

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Lastly, a tunga vanilla espresso drink with an espresso ice cube. Eh, it was fine. I had a lot of food and alcohol by this point, so I would have enjoyed anything.

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Chef Erik, cutting some lady’s pigeon off the bone for her because the claw freaked her out. Really lady? This aint Burger King — you can’t just have it your way.

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The view of the restaurant from the door when you walk in. This is pretty much the whole thing.

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Lastly, here is a photo of our menu that they give you to keep as a souvenir. You can read all about everything here if you’d like. But I suggest you just fork over the cash and go yourselves. It was worth every penny. (FYI — it’s roughly $100/person plus the $40/person alcohol pairing plus service charge and tax, so…yeah).

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We decided we’d treat ourselves once a year to this kind of experience, if possible. The menu changes constantly, so hopefully each time will be new and different.

I love Nashville and I love food. I’m so glad the two have teamed up to make our great city a foodie destination, as of late. There’s so many new eats to be excited about.

Thanks, Catbird. We’ll be back.

XOXO,
Jenn

My Juice Cleanse Experience — The Juice is Loose!

juice. Nashville

**I preface this post by saying, I am not a doctor. What works for me may not work for you. This is my opinion and backed by no professional or medical knowledge about basically anything, ever.**

Several weeks ago I got serious about researching a juice cleanse. I don’t really know why – it was a combination of things probably. I have been really serious about trying to eat healthier foods, watch my calories and overall be healthier since the new year rolled around. I also read about it on Beth’s blog when she did it last year – and I pretty much trust that anything she says is awesome, will be awesome. The day I picked up my juice, she was there picking hers up too – for her third cleanse in six months.

Since it seemed to be the best around, I settled on Juice Nashville – a local company who does not have a brick and mortar storefront – they are a mobile, family-owned, cold-press juicery. That means no preservatives are added, no sugar, no nothing. The juice has a shelf-life of 3 days, so you get it and use it – or freeze it immediately. And if you open a bottle, you drink it within 8 hours. All this to say, it’s fresh, y’all.

So I placed my order for a the 3 day cleanse and was ready to pick it up on Saturday morning. I made sure I had no dinners planned, no fun events, etc. I was just going to hibernate all weekend with my juice and wrap it up on Monday at work.

I went to pick the juice up at the Nashville West Farmer’s Market where Wes (the husband half of the Juice team) sells on Saturdays. As he sifted through paperwork to locate my order, my juicy heart sank. He didn’t have it. Even though I had my confirmation email, something happened and my order was missing. I left thinking I might not be juicing after all – but Stephanie (the wife half of the team) called me as soon as I got to my car and said they were trying to figure out what happened to my order – not to give up yet. I went home and put on my PJs and Tweeted my feelings – and in true 2013 customer service style, Stephanie replied to my tweet in about two minutes and said that she was moving heaven and earth to find my juice.

WOW – customer service gold star for you ma’am. About 45 minutes to an hour later I got a tweet that said “found your juice! Calling you now.” And my cell rang. (I did drink a Naked fruit juice in the meantime that I had in the fridge because I was getting hangry = hungry + angry).

I zipped back down West and got my juice. I could have hugged Wes. I couldn’t believe they were so responsive to my juicing woes and were just so, so nice. Turns out, they had my order all along and the paperwork had just been misplaced so the two couldn’t be matched up.

So, let’s Juice.

The Juice Cleanse includes NO food. No drinking ANYTHING other than water or green tea. (I missed coffee dearly). You drink 5 juices a day (the same 5) and one almond milk a day.

The juices are:

 the cleanse 5 juices

I’ll be honest – I liked some of these more than others, but I hated none. I LOVED the C Ya – orange, apple, grapefruit and ginger. OMG. Snap – apple, carrot, ginger. Delish. But I think, crazy enough, the almond milk might have been my favorite. I love almond milk.

The Whoa (apple, beet, kale and ginger) was a bit harder to swallow. The Oh Yeah (apple, kale, collard and lemon) got old by the third day. But again, none were terrible. And the nutrients they clearly contain kept me chugging!

The experience:

Were you hungry? Not really. To know me is to know how much I love food. I love to eat. Food = love, to me. If you love me, cook me dinner. Buy me dinner. I love to eat. I exercise so I can enjoy food. Some people eat to live – I live to eat.

So a liquid diet with no chewing and salty food was a real challenge. But was I hungry? Not really. I did yoga Sunday night (day 2), and the calorie burn made me momentarily starve, so I ate a cutie (one of those tiny mandarin oranges). Juice Nashville says if you are desperate, you can have a raw fruit or vegetable.

By the third day I had a screaming headache, but I still think that may have been from three days with no coffee more than anything. I don’t think it was from no food as much as it was caffeine withdrawal. Although I will say, when that last juice was gone, I ate a spoonful of peanut butter straight from the jar. Sorry I’m not sorry.

How did you feel? I felt detoxed, just like they promised. I felt pumped full of vitamins and nutrients and I felt healthy.

Why did you do it? To detox. To cleanse the system. To purge the crap. I did NOT do it to lose weight.

But did you lose weight? Yes. I lost 4 pounds. It was an added bonus – yes. AND, it did jumpstart my fitness this week when I finished the juice. I wanted to keep that four pounds off. I worked out twice a couple days this week. I was determined. But I also ate pizza, which I did crave while I was abstaining from solid foods during the cleanse! Ha.

Let the record show – I just weighed myself this morning and gained every bit of those four pounds back this week. Even with two-a-day workouts and overall watching what I ate, I gained it back. So it’s my advice not to do this cleanse for that reason. Or any cleanse. Clearly.

How did it work for you and would you do it again? I think it totally purged my system. I was drinking a huge glass or two of water between each juice and I was peeing every half hour. My system was cleansed. I was so hydrated – TMI, but my pee was so clear you couldn’t tell I’d peed at all. It was insane. SO I would venture to say that a lot of the weight I lost was water weight and as soon as I started consuming regular food and salt again, it just came right back. I’m not near as hydrated as I was.

Would I do it again – yes. I would definitely buy their juice again and incorporate it into my regular diet, probably before I would juice again. They have lots of other flavors I want to try! But I would juice again if I started feeling sluggish and full of crappy crap. I’d do it again.

Can you work out during the cleanse? I’m no doctor, so I say just do whatever you feel like. I went to power yoga on Sunday evening, two days into the cleanse. This is a 400+ calorie burn class, so it’s intense, and I was totally fine. Again, you aren’t starving yourself – this isn’t a lemon juice and cayenne pepper cleanse. You HAVE nutrients in your system, so just do what you feel like.

How much is it? Lots of people asked me this. It’s not cheap – but when you realize how much fruits and veggies are crammed into every bottle, they can’t be marking it up that much, y’all. It’s quality product, so you pay for it. The three day cleanse was $123 with tax and the refrigerated tote that the juice comes in (which I’ll definitely be using again!). Full disclosure, in the name of stellar customer service, Stephanie gave me half off my juice cleanse because they misplaced my order. Thanks gurl!

So there you have it. Oh – one more thing. Again in the spirit of full disclosure, this juice cleanse did things to my bowels that you would not believe. And the worst day was on the third day when I was back at work. (You’re welcome, coworkers!) I mean, when you’re stockpiling fruits and green veggies in your system and they are in liquid form, there are going to be some touch and go situations. So, that’s all I’ll say about that. Just be prepared, if you do the cleanse.

Huge thanks to Juice Nashville for being overall awesome and wonderful to work with. I can’t say enough good things about Stephanie and Wes, how adorable they are, the customer service they provide and the product they deliver. They truly have it figured out. Nashville needs you – so thanks for being here.

XOXO,
Jenn

New Year–New Habits

If you read my last blog post, and if you know me at all, you know that in (at least the second half of) 2012 I was happy. Happier than I’ve been in a long while. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. However, I would trade the “eh – it’s ok – I’ll deal with it later” attitude I took toward eating that also came along with this happiness.

It’s something I only realized in hindsight, but I was just shoving whatever tasted good into my mouth and not thinking about the consequences. Whew. It added up in a big way. I also blame the amazing cooks at my office who brought in goodies during the holidays, but that’s neither here nor there. 😉

So on Jan. 3ish I got serious about keeping up with my Fitness Pal again on my iPhone and have a fitness goal (we’ll call it that, instead of weight loss goal) by May – our family beach trip.

I call it a fitness goal, because I know I’ll never be the skinny-mini I was in college and don’t really want to be – but I do want to go to work without the zipper on my skirts pinching my muffin top. There I said it.

And I want to just feel good when I look in the mirror.

The first serious week was this week – and I lost 2.8 pounds. We’ll go ahead and call that THREE pounds! I know it just gets harder, but damn – that was a boost I needed to stay on the program.

I’m sticking to 1400 calories a day and trying to work out at least every other day. I’ve also cut back on my wine intake, but still indulged a few nights this week if I had some calories to spare.

If you’re on Fitness Pal – add me and let’s encourage each other. I also love to see what other healthy things people are eating so I don’t get in a rut.

Speaking of – I made a delicious recipe last night from HandletheHeat.com. Curried Lentil Soup. Note – as Tessa did, I did not use the chutney either. I also didn’t find red lentils in the grocery store, so I just used regular dry lentils – Publix brand. Y’all – this dish was so good. It definitely has a lot of Indian flavors in it – obviously, curry – and was really, really good. And low calorie.

Here’s to a continued healthy 2013!

XOXO,
Jenn

Pedaling Off My Turkey

I hope you little turkeys had a lovely holiday weekend! Callie and I spent it in East TN with my family and it was so nice to be home with so many people (and fur people) I love in one room.

Callie made herself right at home in Mom and Dad’s house. Obviously.

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We ate well. I had leftovers for two days that were plates just full of carbs. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, cheese grits, stuffing, etc. It was all so good.

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Of course, as any holiday does, it turned into a Wade family pickin’ and singin’ party.

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Also, any time in Roane Co. that we can, we always catch Drivin’ Blind – my sis-in-law’s Dad’s rock band. Yes – that’s how we roll. Scott and the boys always entertain and we were super impressed with the new lead singer. 🙂

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We headed back to Nashville on Saturday afternoon so we could have whole day to recover from the family fun before heading back to work on Monday.

Sunday morning started with this family snuggle fest on the couch. Callie was such a good traveler, but so glad to be back in her own house! She always has to be a little extra on guard when she’s at her grandparents’ house – in case I try to abandon her there. So, she totally sacked out for about 24 hours straight when we got home – which meant I could sneak in cuddles while she was in a cat coma.

So, little back story. I’ve been sort of interested in buying a bike ever since watching my brother and Dad dominate in triathlons. I have no plans to dominate anything, except staying upright on both wheels, but I’d been sort of interested in maybe doing a Tri Sprint next year. I looked at one bike shop here in Nashville and got bike snobbed (“titanium this, carbon that, Trek schmeck), so I waited until I was home and had my resident experts take me to a couple shops so I could ride some.

Then, I surfed Craigslist and found a really nice Giant Avail that had been posted mere hours before. It was just my size, nearly brand new (for half off) and was colored “Tangerine.” Big Orange, y’all!

So, Kyle (the owner who was selling it for his Momma) and I met up this afternoon. After a quick spin or two around the parking lot and after running all the deets by my little brother, I put ol’ Tangerine in my back seat and headed for home. I looooove it!

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I’ve been over at Centennial Park cruising around on this beautiful day, figuring out shifting and what not. So, who wants to go for a ride!? 🙂

Also, since I work a mere .4 of a mile from my house now, I will soon be one of those dorks riding her bike to work.

Have a great week, little turkeys.

XOXO,
Jenn

Easy Pot Roast

I posted a photo of dinner on Instagram and Facebook and a couple folks asked for the recipe, so here you go.

This was compiled from several other recipes and seems to be super popular, so you may have seen it before — or some version of it. I think my Momma once gave me a pot roast recipe that used brown gravy and dressing mix, so I probably owe some credit to her for planting this in my head. 🙂 Thanks, Momma!

Easy Crockpot Pot Roast:

Ingredients:
— Beef shoulder roast (or some other pot roast worthy cut of beef). Mine was 2.5 pounds, so you might adjust the ingredients as necessary (and cooking time) dependent upon your roast. FYI — I may have made a pot roast one other time and it wasn’t that great, so I am intimidated when it comes to going to the ol’ grocery store and picking out a cut of meat. Fortunately Publix stuck a big orange sticker on this one that said “for POT ROAST.” Thanks, Publix. It cost about $12.
— Three baking potatoes
— One medium sweet onion
— Four large carrots, peeled
— A packet of brown gravy mix

— A packet of Good Seasonings italian dressing mix

— A packet of Ranch Dressing mix. (NOTE – this is the powdered mix. For the love of cooking, do not squirt ranch dressing in your crockpot).

— 2 cups of water

Directions:
— Put the meat in the bottom of your crockpot.
— Whisk together the three seasoning packets with the two cups of water in a separate bowl. Pour over meat.


— Turn crockpot on low and cook for 4 hours.
— After those four hours, chop potatoes, onion and celery into sizeable chunks and toss them in the crockpot.
— Lift the meat up with some tongs and let the veggies get on the bottom of the crockpot — put the meat back in on top. While you’ve got the top off go ahead and spoon some of delicious gravy on top of the meat.
— Cook on HIGH for 3 more hours.
— Remove meat, chop it up and toss back in with your veggies. Be a redneck and serve it straight outta the crockpot. EAT!

 

If you want to get real crazy, you could pour some of the juice out and make some gravy with it — but I won’t pretend to know how to do that.

Now, this cook time seemed to work out pretty well for me. The potatoes could have been a teency bit softer, but I didn’t want them in there the whole time because they would have disolved. So, you can adjust the veggie add-in time according to how your like yours. This cook time above kept the meat tender and the veggies just soft enough, but still with consistency.

Enjoy!

XOXO,
Jenn

See ya, Summer

Tell your friend Fall to hurry on over.

We’ve been enjoying the last days of Summer but craving Fall so much.

Here are some of our end of summer happenings.

I recently went to Atlanta for my friend Crystal’s bachelorette party. She is a sweet friend and Phi Mu sister from UT. I can NOT WAIT for her wedding in Austin in a few weeks! We had a blast in Atlanta. The crew was about half friends from college and half friends from her post-college days in Atlanta. So that was really fun. We all got along so well and had a blast – duh, Crystal picked us all as friends, so we’re clearly all awesome. 🙂 It was so much fun.

We spent Saturday “shooting the Hooch,” or tubing down the Chattahoochee River. So nice! It was like redneck tanning. Just laying in a tube, getting some sun and drinking from your floating beer cooler next to you. Yes indeed.

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Then, it was bachelorette time. On the right is Edgin and I – my freshman year roomie!

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There was a serious game of Jenga. Each piece had a question about the bride and groom on it or had a “drink three drinks” or “never have I ever” kind of phrase on it. It was hilarious.

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Me and the bride!

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OMG – dinner at Two Urban Licks. I had scallops over gouda grits. GOUDA! I love you.

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Jen Hester and I have a mutual friend back in Nashville – like, besides the ones who know Crystal. Small world.

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Beginning of night – end of night. 8:30 vs. 3:31. Wow.

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Back in Nashpatch, we went to Bartender Bash. Just as fun as I remember! But the drinks were not as yummy as last year. There were only a couple that blew my mind. The rest were just, eh, so so. But when you’re in good company, it doesn’t really matter.

Stud!

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Alice and I, and Samantha and I. Samantha, our month-long roomie, has moved back to GA since her rotation, and we miss her so! Hopefully she’ll do her residency at Vandy. 🙂

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Beautiful Union Station Hotel where Bartender Bash was held.

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End of the night – sorry so blurry, but things were…well, blurry.

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Also while Samantha was here, there was a Food Truck contest in Centennial Park across the street from our place. We headed over because Samantha won a spot as a judge! She got to try like 20 food trucks on her last day in Nashville. Jealous.

I ordered lunch from Riff’s Fine Street Food, my favorite food truck that I’ve tried.

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I had the shrimp and grits (OMG) and the salt cod fritters, which was their “tasting” portion available for the event. Y’all. I could eat those one more time, top it off with their cucumber basil (I think that’s what it was) lemonade and die happy.

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Look at Samantha and all her loot! Fortunately, she left a lot of it in our fridge when she drove back to GA the next day. Muhahahah. I ate it. All.

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Come on, Fall! I’m tired of sweating every.where.I.go.

XOXO,
Jenn

Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken with a Honey Ginger Marinade

BOOM. That’s what this dish will do to your taste buds.

And, I’m proud to say I made this one up all by my little self.

I’m totally into these “stuffed chicken” recipes where I stuff the inside of the chicken breast with some kind of cheese, herbs, veggies or whatever tickles my fancy.

This one was a real winner and we already had all the ingredients at home – big bonus.

Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken in Honey Ginger Marinade
Serves 2

Ingredients:

Two large chicken breasts

½ cup goat cheese

One tsp of dried rosemary

One tsp or dried thyme

Two big squeezes of the honey bear (about 2 healthy TBS of honey)

One TBS of rice wine vinegar (or rice vinegar)

One TBS of soy sauce

One tsp minced garlic

Drizzle (two swirls of the bowl) of extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp of ground ginger (more to taste)

Salt and Pepper

Directions:
Cut a pocket in your chicken breasts. On a cutting board, with the breast laying flat, start cutting at one end like you’re going to butterfly and lay it open. But just cut a pocket in it and don’t go all the way from end to end.

In a bowl, combine the goat cheese, dried rosemary and thyme in a bowl and use a fork to break apart cheese and combine with the herbs.

Stuff half of this mixture in each chicken breast. Close flap down over cheese as best you can. You don’t want to overfill, or it will ooze out on the grill.

This looks really gross — I understand.

Combine honey, vinegar, EVOO, ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Just taste this marinade, y’all. And if you like more ginger or more honey, etc. just tweak it to your taste.

Sprinkle chicken with a little bit of salt and pepper on each side, then throw on a medium/high grill. Note — we put aluminum foil down on the grill so the chicken wouldn’t stick and so what little cheese did ooze out didn’t muck up the grill.

As the chicken cooks, baste each side with the marinade every few minutes. Be sure you turn the chicken halfway through cooking and do the other side, as well.

So, maybe it’s not really a marinade, but whatever. Baste baste baste.

Cook until done (will vary for different grills, but about 20ish minutes).

Enjoy, chickenheads!

XOXO,
Jenn