My Summer Fitness Plan

Last Thursday was the last day of school for Reese, and on Friday we booked it up north for a couple of days of R&R in a 100+ year old lodge where we binge watched Anne With An E and puttered around looking at pretty stuff and eating banana splits and blueberry pie. So today starts the first full week of summer break. It was also the first day of my Summer Fitness Plan®. You see, a few weeks ago I approached my next door neighbor and good friend Catherine and asked if she’d like to work out with me three times a week in the wee hours of the morning before our kids were awake. She immediately said yes, and we both agreed that it was going to be amazing and awesome.

Fast forward to this morning when I woke up at 4:00, 4:50, and 5:00 (excitement) and then for real at 6:00 to begin our Summer Fitness Plan®. This is the gist: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we will meet in our shared driveway at 6:15 and run/walk a couple of miles. Then we will use the Aaptiv app I’ve told you about before to do a strength workout. This morning we did our workout at the park in the wet grass while being feasted on by our state bird, the mosquito. There was also a for real boot camp happening and I felt like we were acting out that scene in Bridesmaids. We decided next time we will throw down yoga mats in the driveway instead.

Catherine proclaimed that by the end of the summer we will be bosses in every sense of the word (she didn’t really say it this way but it’s what I inferred so…). The first day was a success, in my book.

A couple of notes: I was worried that I would bonk if I didn’t eat anything beforehand, so I choked down a half of a banana. It’s almost two hours later and I’m still not hungry, so maybe working out on an empty stomach will work for me. Read about the research here. Also, next time I will spritz myself with bug spray. Thirdly, I have to say that if I’m awake everyday at 6:00 anyway, I might as well be exercising instead of laying in bed reading Twitter and stressing about the state of affairs. Who needs all that cortisol? I’m still 100% going to read the news, but an hour away from it isn’t a bad thing. Lastly, I will also be playing golf quite a bit, walking the dog, and doing some yoga and/or barre, but I think the bulk of my actual structured exercise will be from this plan.

What are your fitness plans for the summer?  Please comment and tell me!

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That’s A Wrap for the May Bee (And Why Drinking Coffee Cuts Your Risk of Dying!)

coffee

I came into the May Bee challenge feeling energized and excited about the opportunity to blog every day most days in May. I had felt like I had been slacking on my posts, letting other things edge out my time spent at the computer writing. So I really relished the idea of doing this challenge. And I’m so glad I did! Not only did I learn a lot about the topics I’m interested in, but I also got to share that love with you. So, thanks for coming along on the ride. Maybe I’ll do it again next year.

For my last May Bee post, I want to talk about one of my favorite things in the world — a cup of coffee. If you know me at all you know I relish my coffee with gusto. So I was excited to read this article in The New York Times about how drinking coffee seems to reduce your overall risk of dying. Yay for no dying! As the article states “Coffee drinking was linked to a reduced risk of death from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, neurological diseases and suicide, although not from cancer.” I don’t need any health reasons to drink my two to three cups of coffee a day, but I’m glad to know I don’t have to feel guilty about my habit.

And with that, I bid a fond farewell to May 2017 as I welcome what I hope to be a really fabulous summer for me, and for you. Maybe it’ll be the best one yet.

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Maybe Some Rice Noodle Salad For Dinner Tonight?

Maybe allergies are kicking my butt. I woke up yesterday with my ears completely clogged and everything sounded like I was underwater. I generally just didn’t feel great. So after I got home from picking up the 12 year old from school and it was time to make dinner, I was thankful I had planned on making this simple Rice Noodle Salad With Cucumber, Peanuts, and Basil. It took about 20 minutes from start to finish and there was absolutely no cooking involved. If you’re lucky, you have a kid that likes to cook and will make the dressing for you while you sit comfortably. This would make for a perfect summertime supper when it’s just too hot to turn on the stove. The recipe also fits with our Meatless Monday plans, which I would say we adhere to about 90% of the time. Going meatless once a week can reduce your risk of preventable diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce our carbon footprint. Plus, it’s generally cheaper to make a meatless meal. Win/win!

Asian Noodle Salad Meatless Monday

The original recipe came from Redbook Magazine but I made some changes to the recipe and adapted it, so here’s my version:

Rice Noodle Salad With Cucumber, Peanuts, and Basil

THE SALAD:

6 oz pad thai rice noodles

1/4 medium purple cabbage

1/2 sliced english cucumber

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

4 scallions, white and green parts sliced

1/2-1 cup fresh basil and cilantro, chopped

1 cup chopped peanuts, cashews or almonds

Sesame seeds

THE DRESSING:

1/4 cup lime juice (I love buying Santa Cruz organic bottled lime juice. It’s just so much easier)

3 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 tsp soy sauce

2 tsp honey

1/2 tsp garlic powder

HOW TO:

Pour hot water over noodles to cover and let sit for about 5 minutes, until softened. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, cut all the veggies up into thin slices, place the nuts in a baggie and whack them with a rolling pin to “chop”, and whisk together the dressing ingredients. Assemble the salads, drizzle dressing over the top, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. ENJOY!

NOTE: If you want more protein in your salad, it would be very easy to add rotisserie chicken, tofu, shrimp or any leftover meat you have. Maybe it’ll become a new family favorite.

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Vitamin D, The “Sunshine” Vitamin

sunshine drawing.png

This time of year, when the weather starts to hint at warming up in colder climates, you might think that you don’t need to supplement with vitamin D anymore. Or maybe you’ve never supplemented and think that because you live in a more temperate place like San Francisco or Kansas City that you get enough from the sun. But the truth is, if you draw a line from Atlanta across the U.S. and your city falls above it, you won’t get any meaningful vitamin D from the sun most of the year. Additionally, many people aren’t good “converters” of vitamin D, meaning they might get a lot of unprotected sun and still not have adequate levels of vitamin D.

It’s for all those reasons that supplementing with vitamin D is a good idea. And because so many of us wear sunscreen religiously throughout the summer, I don’t even stop taking my supplements in the warmer months (although I do cut back from about 3,000 IUs a day to 1,000 IUs). Read and print this informative page for more important vitamin D information.

***I am not a doctor and I am not qualified to prescribe any therapy or medication. Please always check with your practitioner before you start taking any new supplements. Vitamin D

Weekend Cocktails! The Cucumber Sangria

weekend-cocktails

The most astute readers of this blog will notice that this week’s Friday Cocktails feature is actually being posted on a Saturday. Gasp. Occasionally these things happen and I like to think that it keeps everyone on their toes.

But wait, there’s more! My very good friend (and ultra savvy fellow cocktail admirer) Catherine graciously agreed to write a guest post this week. It’s my first guest post! Catherine and I are equally ardent in our appreciation of a well-crafted cocktail. So when she texted me the other day telling me about a delicious new recipe she tried, I asked if she would write about it.  Read on for Catherine’s review of Cucumber Sangria:

I love reading the Cultivate Wellness Friday Cocktails series, and I have thoroughly enjoyed trying most of them.  (In fact, the most recent entry in that series — the Aviation — has changed my cocktail life.  It is a perfect, extraordinarily delicious cocktail.)  That is why, when I made the Cucumber Sangria I’m about to tell you about, I immediately texted Melanie to tell her that I thought it would be perfect for Friday Cocktails.  And I am thrilled to share it as a guest today at Cultivate Wellness.  Thank you for having me!  
This sangria is refreshing and the combination of the cool, fresh, grassy flavor of the cucumber and the sweetness of the honeydew is truly delightful.  The sangria also is not overly boozy, and since we were serving it on a weeknight for my sister’s birthday celebration, this was a perfect mix for us.  I love that the sangria uses seasonal produce, and I happened to have almost all of the ingredients on hand — cucumber and mint from our garden, and melon from our CSA.  I am sure that the sugary ripeness of the melon, which was perfectly in season, contributed to the success of the cocktail.  So, without further ado, here is the recipe for the Cucumber Sangria (click to link to the original recipe, featured in Better Homes & Gardens).
Enjoy your weekend! Cheers!
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Friday Cocktails: The Aviation

 

Aviation_cherry_(6127689536)

It’s Friday, and I’ve missed a couple weeks of Friday Cocktails but I am making it up with a whammy of a cocktail that I’ve recently fallen in love with. The Aviator was presented to me last Sunday evening and upon the first sip I knew it would be a keeper.

To back up a bit, I was given a bottle of Luxardo maraschino liqueur for my birthday by my neighbors because I love all things cherry.  Lest you think this is some neon-red concoction full of artificial everything, you should know that maraschino liqueur is a clear liqueur made from special maraschino cherries that has been produced by Luxardo (first in convents in Croatia, then in Italy) since the early 1800’s.  It’s got a fantastic flavor profile and while it is sweet, it’s not cloyingly so.

Since that fateful gift, I have sought out any cocktail I could find that features my new favorite liqueur. I looked at a cocktail menu last Sunday and there it was: The Aviator.  I love the bright flavor from the fresh squeezed lemons. I love the crispiness of the gin. And I love the sweetness from the maraschino liqueur. My  husband, who doesn’t love sweet drinks, thought it was really nice.

I am planning on making this for friends over the long holiday weekend and will look forward to hearing what they think.

One note: some versions of the Aviation include Crème de Violette to make it blue like the sky. I haven’t tried that version, and since I love the Aviation the way I tried it, I think i’ll keep it that way.

So, here it is. Buckle up, this is a strong cocktail that is best sipped! 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • Maraschino cherry (optional)

METHOD:

Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice.

Shake, and strain into a cocktail glass. I like to pour it over an ice ball so that it stays nice and cold.

Garnish with a cherry if desired.

NOTE: I have not been compensated for mentioning Luxardo in my post. I simply really enjoy the product!

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Friday Cocktails: The Caipirinha!

Friday Cocktails

This week I’m putting my obsession with watching Stranger Things (can we talk about that show at a later date? I mean, DAMN) and Gilmore Girls on the back burner for the XXXI Olympiad in Rio. I’m trying not to think about the disgusting lake water and uninhabitable athlete villages and instead focus on all the amazing stories of trials and tribulations that suck me in and make me cry. Oh, and also the level of athleticism is ridiculous. Fun fact: did you know Usain Bolt has never run a mile? Like, never? It’s too “far”.  So essentially I am a better runner than Usain Bolt.

Tonight we are going to a get together with friends to watch the opening ceremonies. Just as I was about to text my friend and ask if we should make Caipirinhas, she texted me first and asked the same thing. So yeah, it’s happening. Hashtag great minds think alike. You should also know it’s pronounced Kai-Pee-Reen-Ya. I have been pronouncing it all wrong in my head all these years.

This traditional Brazilian cocktail is reminiscent of a daiquiri, but the limes are muddled at the bottom of the glass and kept in. It uses a traditional Brazilian rum made from the fermented juice of sugarcane (rather than molasses as in the most other rums).

If you want to make your own at home, here’s the recipe.

Caipirinha2

CAIPIRINHA

2 fl. oz. Cachaça (pronounced Ka-Shah-Suh, like a woman’s beautiful exotic first name)
Half a lime, quartered
2 tsp. Sugar (preferably raw or turbinado sugar) or .5 fl. oz. simple syrup (click to learn how to make your own.)

Add lime wedges and sugar to a rocks glass. With a muddler (or the end of a wooden spoon if you’re simple folk like me) press down and crush the limes to release the juice and the oils from the peel. Add ice, then cachaça and stir the drink. Add more ice if desired.

Viva! Saúde! 

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