avocado, cooking, essential oils, garlic, health, home, kitchen, kitchen aid, oils, young living

Kitchen Staples

So everyone who cooks at home has a few things they always have on hand and use on a regular basis. When you’re a beginner, you start with a few basic spices and accessories and then add as you go along. So now that I would say I am an intermediate home cook, I have definitely figured out what my staples are.

Garlic (fresh and powder)- The rule in our house is that you can never have too much garlic. Plus, if we’re both eating it then it we don’t even notice when we kiss. Garlic taste good in pretty much everything and has so many great health benefits! Adding more flavor to my food and not using any fattening or high calorie sauces is great. We use mostly fresh garlic and I throw it in my ninja and 5 seconds later, fresh chopped garlic. When it’s for eggs I tend to use the garlic salt. Garlic taste great in burgers, cauliflower mashed potatoes, steak, eggs, etc.

Avocado- Considered a major superfood, avocado has so many health benefits and is delicious. You can add it to breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert! We always have a few on hand and it always makes a great addition in health and taste. No, I am not thrilled with avocado shortages (thanks Mexican drug cartels!) but it is worth the high price sometimes to have such a great food on hand. It’s even great in smoothies, so weird but true! Plus just slice it, add some lime juice or garlic salt and it makes a great snack

Kitchen Aid Mixer-Really any mixer will do but there is just something about owning a Kitchen Aid mixer. I got mine about a year and a half ago as a birthday gift and I am obsessed! Joey got mine from Williams-Sonoma in Raspberry Ice. I use it for cookies, pie dough, banna bread, whipped cream, dips, etc. It makes life a million times easier and has so many awesome attachments. I want the meat grinder next but that will wait until we do a meat CSA and get a freezer.

Food Processor- I have the Ninja Pulse and am obsessed! It’s funny because I didn’t use it that much when I first got it and now we use it daily. I use it for chopping garlic to making pesto to making smoothies and even almond butter. With the different attachments it comes with and then the little cup for single serve smoothies/juices, it is a life saver. It is easy to clean, store, and makes prep work a dream. We used to spend forever chopping garlic and doing everything by hand and now it’s all done in a matter of minutes. Averaging about $80, it is a great investment!

Spices-I know I already mentioned garlic but there a few more spices that are great to have in your arsenal. Besides, it usually takes a while to go through this and they last a long time so it’s not much to invest in great flavor. So try to always have: (himalayan) salt, pepper, paprika, oregeno, chilli powder, and onion powder. Depending on what you like, don’t forget basil or rosemary.

Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning- This is my new favorite staple hands down!I know a lot of people are really into FlavorGod seasonings and I will probably check them out but I don’t think they can beat Tony’s amazing spice blend. No MSG, just a delicious mix of spices to adda kick to any meal. I love it on chicken or in my eggs and I have been adding it to my burgers to make a fabulous dish. We started using Tony Chachere’s for the deep fried turkey on Thanksgiving and now I am hooked.

Oils (including Essential Oils)-Keep Olive oil and coconut oil on hand, and even some vegetable oil. I don’t like spray in my pans, why have the extra chemicals when you can use olive oil? As for essential oils, they are great for cooking as well. I love using peppermint for baking or adding a little lemon or rosemary to a dish. Pure and simple and a little goes a long way.

 The great thing about cooking at home is that you can experiment and try new things and not worry about being judged. Unless you’re a home cook on Master Chef, then good luck! I like being able to find healthier alternatives to some of my favorites meals so cooking at home really helps with that!

I know my friends Samantha and Michelle love their immersion blenders and make great soups so that’s on my want list. I also want a new spice rack to hold all the fun spices were acquiring.

So what are your kitchen staples? What are your ‘must have’s’ to cook with?
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body, health, healthy, paleo, thankful, yoga

The best is yet to come: my 2015 goals!

Well, so much for blogging more during the holidays! Really though, like everyone else, there was just so much going on. Sometimes I feel guilty that I don’t have any children and work normal hours and still don’t seem to have time for everything I want to do. Thinking about all the things I want to do and need to make time for naturally got me thinking about the upcoming year and the goals I am setting for myself. Since accountability is a grand thing indeed (and sometimes the devil), I am going to post my goals and hope you all can help keep me on track in the upcoming year!

The Goal: Invest in My Health
Normally I might just say I’d like to lose another 20lbs and be done with it but that is not the goal I have anymore. My goal is really and truly to be healthy. To invest in my health. To look at what I am eating and really care about what I am putting in my body and how it will affect my future. So how can I consciously and consistently invest in my health? How much am I willing to give, of myself, of my finances, and of my time? Because that’s really what it comes down to,  the changes that will effect where I go, how I shop, how I feel about myself and so much more.
Step 1: Live 80/20 
One of my favorite things about eating healthy and following a Paleo diet is that it is 80/20. So you try to eat 80% of your meals following the guidelines and then 20% of your meals are whatever you want. By allowing a few meals that aren’t paleo and working with moderation, I am able to be realistic about my food intake and goals. I love the above quote from Bobby Flay because it’s simple but to the point. I don’t need to eat fast food; there is nothing good about it for my body and quite frankly, I don’t enjoy the taste at all. That doesn’t mean I am not going to eat a decadent desert but at least if I am going to eat decadent I will use better quality ingredients than just junk. I want to be able to not let food control my life and over the last two years I have made that change sucessfully. 
Step 2: Don’t beat myself up when I am not perfect. 

Eating moderately helps me maintain a healthy relationship with food. I don’t break down if I have a brownie, I just make sure I don’t have one with every meal or make sure I hit the gym a little harder. I am not going to be perfect and I am more than okay with that. Perfect means that nothing needs to change and I always want to change, grow, and keep learning. So I am going to recognize there are moments I will fail and will eat something awful. I will not always make it to the gym for as many days as I would like that week. It’s inevitable. What I will strive for is accepting these moments and remembering that Scarlett O’Hara was a badass who never quit and always knew that “after all…tomorrow is another day”. This doesn’t mean that I will think my excuses are valid but it allows me to look at why I made a mistake and learn from it. Maybe I didn’t got to the gym because I was so tired and had to listen to my body. Maybe the reason I am so tired is because of lack of sleep. That lack of sleep causes my body to not function as well as it could and leads to overeating as well. So what I learn is to get more sleep and listen to my body.
Step 3: Be consistent with Paleo
I made mention above about following a Paleo diet. A Paleo diet means not having grains, dairy, or artificial sugar. There are a lot of nuances about it and different people follow different levels, much like there are pescatarians, vegetarians, vegans and so on. I have been pretty bad about following this lately so I need to get back on track. So starting January 2nd I will resume my 80/20 Paleo lifestyle which means: no dairy, processed foods including sugar, no legumes, starches or grains and no alcohol. Instead you eat lean meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and healthy fats, You can check out Nom Nom Paleo for more info! Cooking at home and meal prep is the best tool to stay on track and eat paleo. It also saves money so it’s a triple threat. Plus, watching JoeyWaffles cook, grill, and try new recipes is pretty hot. When I followed Paleo consistently I was leaner, had more energy, and really just overall felt better. It’s little changes that can make a big difference: making my own maple bacon instead of buying the Oscar Meyer version; reading the back of everything I buy so I know what I’m putting in my body; and just staying away from unnecessary foods like Doritos, fast food, and such. I still will have a Reese’s or enjoy a Coke Slurpee but it might be once a week or every few weeks. It makes me feel better when I know I am giving my body good fuel and investing in a better future.

Step 4: Control my food portions 
Sometimes I think like the girl who weighed 80lbs more and feel a compulsion to order a ton of food. I usually remember I am not and start to order like a normal, average, adult. Usually after the fact when it’s too late to change my mind, I remember I have lap band and need to only eat a kids size portion. It’s kind of crazy to think that often, especially going out, a kid’s size portion is really more appropriate for an adult and that we really have huge over sized meals. It’s not even about over eating, it’s really about wasting food and money because I never eat what I think I’m going to and end up wasting it or giving it to JoeyWaffles. That doesn’t work because it means he ends up eating a meal and a half which isn’t good for him either and I want his health to be optimal as well (total Rick word!) So I resolve to order more appropriate sized meals when I do go out and when I am home, use a smaller plate and grab smaller sizes.
Step 5: Use more Young Living Essential Oils in my life
Since getting more into oils and learning a lot from Kristen @ Naturally (un)Balanced, I really want to use more essential oils in my life. There are a lot of oils out there and feel free to do research but this is a great video about the difference between companies and the oils they produce. Thanks to Kristen, I have replaced my toothpaste with Thieves AromaBrite toothepaste, clean my house with a Thieves spray, use lemon oil to get anything stuck with adhesive off, diffuse with eucalyptus and purification for Joey’s asthma, and more. I am just learning and the more that I can replace toxic products with essential, all natural, and organic oils I am all for it. So this year I strive to replace more products, educate myself more on the oils and share my knowledge. Diffusing is so great when I sleep and the epsom salt and Oils baths Kristen recommends are amazing! I also have a roller ball of Stress away that I use when I am feeling…stressed lol
Step 6: Take more Yoga classes
Yoga is amazing. I am so lucky the company I work for offers it once a week thanks to our amazing CEO. Without my work offering it I would have never tried it and found out how truly amazing it is. Everyone is all about weights and I think they have their place but simply adding yoga into my routine has made a huge difference in my muscle definition. Yoga makes your body flexible, stretching alone has so many great benefits and when you add in the peace of mind, it really is something special. Being able to take an hour out of your day and connect with your body and mind is special and often something we neglect. I have a great CorePower Yoga near my house and my goal is go there there a few times a month in addition to my practice at work. The first month of two or even three of doing it I was still unsure if I was doing it right of some of the moves but the great thing about yoga is no one is judging you because they are all in their own state of mind and thinking about themselves (in a good way). I can’t believe how much more flexible I am and how much I enjoy my body after yoga. So treating my body better doesn’t just involve the food I do or don’t put it, but how I use my body as well. As White from America’s Next Top Model once said, “my body is a temple…and my temple wants cheesecake” Mine too girl but sometimes it wants yoga as well so I feed it both!

Steps 7, 8, and 9: Stay Organized, Buy a Meat Cooler, and Keep on smiling!
These are really simple little odds and ends I would like to accomplish. I strive to always stay organized and keep the house clean (enough) and not become a pack rat. JoeyWaffles hates throwing things out but has gotten a lot better so the house is coming together. Along with cleaning I would love to be able to buy into a meat CSA and have a cooler for meat so we only use that. It would be great to know exactly where our meat comes from and have access to quality food all year round. This also includes hitting up the Evanston farmer’s market more. Along with these changes I just want to keep having a happy and positive attitude and keep on keeping on. Life is what you make it and I want to keep on living, loving, laughing, and learning.
I can’t wait to make one of these for 2015!!
So, what are your goals? What are you hoping to accomplish in 2015?
budget, cooking, cranberry, health, healthy, paleo, recipe, salad, steak, thrifty, tilapia

Three under $20 meals for a healthy body and budget

So cooking is something I’ve never been very good at. My family all are great cooks and there’s just never been a need to really learn until recently. I’ve learned it’s more fun and better on the budget to cook for two. JoeyWaffles and I cooking started more in the last year and it’s going well. 

We try to eat little to no bread save a bagel here and there, low sugar, minimal dairy, basically a modified Paleo. Being healthy is something we both actively strive for so cooking at home is a great way to make that happen.

Everyone says that eating healthy costs more and while that is true, it’s an investment in your health and future. Trust me when I say you don’t have to break the bank to have a meal that’s tasty, healthy, and look fabulous. Here are 3 dishes that are under $20, healthy, and easy to make! 

So everyone needs a go to dish. Something you can bring to a party or a potluck that everyone likes and makes you a hit. So what’s my easy go to? This under $20 Cranberry Goat Cheese mixed green salad with pecans. So how do you make it? Easily. Very Easily.

North Shore Poor’s Fancy like Iggy Azalea Any Season Salad

Grab
-1 container of mixed green or spinach. $5
-1 package of Fisher Nut Pecans $5
-1 package of crumbled goat cheese $4
-1 package of dried cranberries (8oz will do) $3

For a dressing I usually mix
-olive oil
-lemon juice
-balsamic vinaigrette
-some minced garlic, salt, and pepper
-Dijon mustard

Directions (5 minutes or less total time)
For presentations sake, I don’t mix this but put the ingredients on top.
-Place the salad greens in your desired container
-sprinkles pecans, cranberries, and goat cheese on top.
-artfully arrange
-leave dressing on the sides
-voila! you’re done!

As you can see above, that took me about 2 minutes to make and I didn’t even take use a different container. Place in a fancy dish and you are all set!

North Shore Poor’s Easy like a Khardashian Steak Dinner

Sometimes you just want an easy dinner. You don’t want to spend an hour in the kitchen but the idea of picking up fast food holds no appeal for you. If you’re like me, it’s actually not even a last resort. Well, unless it’s a DQ blizzard, then that’s always good. So instead of hitting up a fast food joint, here’s what I do:

First, I figure out the nearest grocery store to me on my way home from work/the gym. I go in, grab a my ingredients: steak, an avocado, and some cous cous. I pick a small but good steak, usually grass fed/organic, I eat a lot less because of lap band and I always want quality over quantity. An avocado completes any meal in my opinion. You can get out of the store for under $20 even at Whole paycheck Foods, I usually have a glass of Pinot Grigio or Tempranillo in my fridge but feel free to skip the wine.

Directions (15 minutes total time)
1. Follow directions on cous cous box. Usually involves boiling water with some olive oil and the spice pack. I use Near East Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil.
2. Chop 1-2 cloves of garlic.
3. Coat steak with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder
4. Make a few shallow cuts in steak and put in cut up garlic
5. Flip steak and repeat.
6. Grab a pan and turn stove on medium heat with a little olive oil, I lie adding a little lime juice over mine but that’s a personal preference. Try it once to see. You will no be disappointed.
7. Check on cous cous and continue to follow directions. When the water is boiling add the cous cous, cover and remove from heat I believe, I don’t have the box in front of me but I’ve made it enough,
8. Place steak in hated pan.
9. Start cutting up avocado. I l ike garlic salt and lime sprinkled on mine but it can be plain or even with some lemon juice and/or salt. Again, a preference.
10. Cook steak 3-4 minutes on each side should get you to a medium rare, add more time to get your temperature preference.
11. Plate the avocado and cous cous.
12. Add the steak and enjoy!

North Shore Poor’s I Want to Binge-Watch TV in my Pj’s Tilapia 

I love any and all seafood. I guess this is from my Italian side because my Dad absolutely abhors any kind of fish. This just means at the Japanese steakhouse I get his shrimp which is a win for me. A quick and easy seafood meal is great for being low cal and delicious! Tilapia is great dinner and easy to cook without smelling to fishy.

All you need is:
-cabbage, which can you can get pre-shredded if you feel like it
-olive oil
-mayo
-lemon (bottled lemon juice is fine)
-tilapia filet
-avacado
-lime (bottled lime juice is fine)
-handful of cherry tomatoes
-1 egg

Directions
The Israeli Cabbage Salad (5 minute prep)
1. Chop us a quarter to half of a cabbage and out in bowl. Otherwise use the pre-shredded stuff.
2. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half and add to bowl
3. Add a tablespoon or so of mayo
3. Add salt and pepper to taste
4. Add lemon juice, enough to wet the cabbage
5. Mix.
6. Put in fridge. Doesn’t matter covered or not since it will only be there about 15 minutes.

The Tilapia
7. Get a shallow bowl and crack egg into a bowl
8. Mix salt, pepper, garlic powder and put on a plate
9. Coat filet in egg and then dip in spice mixture, evenly on both sides
10. Get pan ready with a little olive oil and medium heat
11. Add filet and cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes, until flaky.  I like a char so I use a higher heat for about 3 minutes. Put on plate.

12. Cut up avocado, plate, add lime and/or garlic salt
13. Take Israeli salad out, mix, plate.
14. Eat and enjoy! Use lime juice for added flavor.

Simple easy meals are the way to go to stay healthy and well fed. When you start cooking and realize how easy it is, it becomes a lot easier to make a great meal at home with fresh meat/seafood than go to a restaurant where half the time it’s poor quality and frozen. When I do go out to eat, I make it count and this weekend was no exception. Joey took me to Sabatino’s on Sunday night and I had amazing garlic tilapia and a nice glass of Pinot Grigio followed by a decadent chocolate mousse cake. Quality food in a romantic setting made for a wonderful Sunday night.

Sunday morning was even better.  JoeyWaffles went to t-mobile with his brother and took my phone while I went into home goods. I assumed he was asking about a new case or battery life or something with our plan. I met his up at Potbelly’s and he told me he got me a new case. He handed me my phone in a new case and then I realized it wasn’t my phone, it was the new Sony Xperia Z3. Besy boyfriend ever. I love surprises and I have been getting sick of my phone since I have too many pictures and no memory card slot.

Sabatino’s + new phone + seeing our friends Rick and Sara who came in from Indy= a perfect weekend.

So how about you? What are your easy to make go to recipes? Anything fun happen to you this weekend?

avocado, bacon, breakfast, caveman, chorizo, eggs, food, health, healthy, paleo, recipe

Avocado and Bacon and Chorizo, oh my!

I don’t always want to leave the house on a Saturday morning to spend $40 at Walker Bro’s or some other North Shore breakfast hotspot (see: Sarki’s, Kauffmans, etc).  I also try to follow the Paleo lifestyle (no grains, dairy, or artificial sugar) and try to eat pretty healthy. So when it’s Saturday morning and I don’t want to get dressed or spend money, I look at what’s in the fridge and JoeyWaffles and I start making things up. 
Submitted for the approval of the internet recipe society, I call this recipe:
NoShoPo’s Saturday Carnivore Scramble
Ingredients
for the scramble 
2 organic egg whites
1 egg yolk (organic)
A handful (or to your taste) cilantro chopped up
1/2 ripe avocado cut up into small cubes
a few shakes of garlic powder (to taste)
a few shakes of salt (to taste)
a few shakes of pepper(to taste)
for the chorizo
6oz of chorizo 
1/2 onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, diced (add more or less depending on taste)
smidgeon of oil (olive, coconut, butter if you want)
for the bacon
1 package of organic bacon
1 cup Organic Maple Syrup
Directions
Start with the chorizo first
1. Grab a skillet
2. Turn stove to medium heat and warm the pan up
2.5 So I add the oil here but I have no idea if that’s right so if you want to add after it’s warmed up, go right ahead
3. Make sure you have some good music playing and something good to drink, coffee or juice is nice
4. When the pan is warmed, throw in your onions and garlic (add oil if you haven’t already)
5. Dance a little around your kitchen and enjoy yourself
6. Keep singing to the radio and stir/flip/move around the onions and garlic
7. When the onion look softer and the garlic browns some, add the chorizo
8. I sort of use my flat stainless steel spatula to break up and move around the chorizo in the pan
9. Using the spatula, mix the chorizo around with the onions and garlic
While the chorizo is cooking, you can start the bacon
10. Open bacon package
11. Cut in half for shorter strips, leave whole for longer
12. Place bacon on a different pan and turn heat on medium to high
13. Stir chorizo, make sure to get the food on the sides mixed in
14. Check on Bacon
15. Sip coffee/juice
16. The chorizo should be done, so turn off the heat ad move into a bowl
17. Check on bacon, flip if looks ready 
While the bacon is cooking, start the egg prep
16. Crack a egg into a bowl
17. Crack another egg and separate yolk.
18. Throw yolk out unless you want, I just try to only use one. 
19. Put egg white in bowl.
20. Add in chopped avocado
21. Dance some more and check on the bacon (definitely flip if you haven’t already)
22. If bacon looks halfway done or you just want to do it now, open the maple syrup and drizzle it on the strips, to your liking, I like a lot so on it goes!
23. Turn on a fan/or keep the heat low so as not to smoke out the place.
23.5 Joey never makes the house smoke, I tend to so…it’s probably me. Keep the heat lower then high. Medium-ish works.
24. Take a bite of chorizo to taste-test and feel proud of yourself for such deliciousness
25. Monitor bacon and get a plate ready to put said bacon on (not a paper plate!)
26. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste to the eggs and beat to 
27. Add cilantro to the eggs
28. Bacon should be about done so transfer to plate (I like mine pretty crispy)
29. Use chorizo pan if you want (I usually do for the added taste and no need for oil) or a new pan and warm it up for a minute
30. Add in eggs and scramble to preference (mine is about 1 minute, barely cooked and delicious)
Voila! You have a delicious scramble with a good meat to protein ratio. 
Completely paleo. Completely delicious.
This is easier then it seems and really fun to modify. You can leave out the chorizo or leave out the bacon, you can use regular bacon without the maple, etc. You can add roasted red peppers, onions, or whatever you want to the eggs. Take whatever you have in your fridge and make your own version and enjoy!
So tell me, what do you like in your scrambles? 
What are your favorite Saturday morning meals?

body, cardio, contest, health, healthy, influenster, la fitness, product review, voxbox, working out, yoga

North Shore Sports Bra?

So two days ago I went to the gym after work to get my sweat on. Sexy, right? But hey, the more you sweat the more you…are sweaty. It’s not attractive or enjoyable but it does mean you’re doing something right. So nothing was new about the workout, same gym, same shoes, same-oh, wait…I had NEW AMAZING WORKOUT CLOTHES!

Thanks to Influenster, I received my second #VoxBox and I’ve been so excited ever since they sent me the email saying I qualified for the #VSSportsBra voxbox. In fact here’s me opening up the best mail I’ve received all year (bills are no fun and while i love birthday cards, they’re not from Victoria’s Secret usually lol)

So, long time Victoris’s secret buyer and customer, first time Incredible sports bra wearer. Trying on the new sports bra, let me give you one very helpful hint: unclasp it. Otherwise you will feel silly trying to get it on over your boobs. Once undone, it went on like a dream and held the ladies in. It fit tight and there was no breast jiggles, no movin or shakin. I might not have as big of breasts as I used to but they’re nothing to sneeze about and my 36dd’s were feeling right at home (even though we were at the gym). I put on the knockout long pants, a first for me since I usually work out in shorts or capris but with Chiberia 2.0 lurking around the corner, I am very grateful to have some long workout pants. I also work out in the VS Boyfriend Sports bra which is mint and adorable and great for yoga.

I can’t make any scientific claims as to the how or why of these knockout pants but let me tell you, as evidenced by the pictures above, my butt looks amazing. You have to factor in I have a large and already nice butt but still, these pants held me in and made me look great and feel amazing. There’s nothing like feeling hot when you’re at the gym trying to get hotter and then sweating your butt off. I also have the capri version which are just as great for my booty.

Time to get real for a second and talk about something that might be gross but happens to every active lady. Boob sweat. It’s real and it happens to us everyday. After 45 minutes of intense cardio, I was expecting the usual puddle underneath and in the middle of my bra/bust/whatever you want to call it and to my surprise, there was none. Picture me with my Home Alone face, hands on cheeks, mouth open. No boob sweat? No booty sweat? Even with an incline of 10? I was SOOOO happy and so was my car since when I leave the gym, I don’t change clothes.

My friends were extremely happy to get the 25% off coupons I received and my co-workers too. The prices are reasonable but who doesn’t love a deal? I plan to get another pair of pants and another bra because honestly, I look great, feel good, don’t have boob sweat and I love feeling sexy when I need to get my butt in the gym when I really want to go home and watch my DVR’ed Teen Mom 2…don’t judge me…

So good bye to any ancient nautical sports bras or bras that weren’t on point, good bye boob sweat and hello dry breasts. #sportsbrabreakup

(this is a sponsored blog post. Influenster provided me with complimentary Victoria’s Secret products to test and review as part of a contest)

body, fit, goals, happy, health, healthy

North Shore Healthy!

So I had a really amazing thing happen on Sunday. I went into American Eagle and bought a pair of size 10 shorts. This might not be a big deal to some people and it might even be bad news for others but for me it’s amazing news. If you don’t know me in real life, you don’t that I used to be really heavy. 75lbs heavier to be exact.

I was a skinny kid, average teen (a little on the chubby size but I could fit into abercrombie, the obvious benchmark of late 90’s ‘cool’) and then I hit my 20’s. One bad relationship where I gained 40lbs + and I was just used to being heavier. It never stopped me from dating so I never thought much about being “bigger.

Around 2009/2010 I realized I was not feeling any kind of good about my body. I hated getting dressed, changing outfits 20 times to feel “skinny”. I could never just grab something and go. I started feeling really self conscious and hating to go out. I would be late to events because I felt ugly in every single thing I wore. It didn’t help that food was comfort and fast food was easy, cheap, and delicious. I ate crap, loved sweets, and always ate the free bread at meals along with a desert. I was a Ranch dressing addict and always wanted the potato, not vegetable options. Every choice I made was the unhealthy one and I never thought I ate bad. Sure chicken with broccoli is a great dinner but ranch to dip both in does not a healthy meal make.

My immediate family are all average weight, no obesity, mostly average with a small propensity for chubby at times. My mom works out a bunch, loves pilates and learning about healthy eating. She always offered advice, help, encouragement, and anything she could think of to help me to healthy weight. My Dad had became really fit and what is known in the gay community as a “bear”, working out and watching his diet so he’s a big muscled guy with a goatee. No matter what they were saying to me, until I really felt ugly and unhealthy, nothing stuck in my brain.

Around the time I met Joey, when I felt my worst, I tried a personal trainer. After a few months with little results, I gave up. I was just sick of trying so hard and not seeing results. I finally realized I needed real help to kick start a healthy lifestyle before I turned 30. I just didn’t want to enter the next part of my life heavy and unhappy and unhealthy. I talked to my mom and we started looking into my options. After a long process, we decided that lap-band surgery would be a good option. We looked into Chicago area doctors and found Day One Health.

I can really say that with Dr. Elli and the Day One staff, my life changed. I had my consultation, they handled the insurance and all the paperwork. I waited 6 months, learned healthy eating tips, saw a therapist and got ready for my life change. I did the 2 week liquid diet and had my outpatient surgery. The picture from August 2009 about was about a month after the surgery and 20 lbs down.

Lap band is not a miracle cure. It does not make you skinny by doing nothing. It is a tool but many people don’t use it correctly and only lose a small amount of weight. Some gain it back and some stay stagnate. Lap band is a tool that helps you feel full faster and longer. You can’t drink when you eat and junk food is much easier to digest then healthy food. When I lost the first 20 lbs I was inspired. It made me want to lost more. Over the course of the first year I ate less and ate better, I lost another 25 lbs or so but I still was starting to plateau. Then I realized hey, eating well and working out will get me healthy, toned, and feeling great. Duh Tiffany! I re-activated my LA Fitness membership and started eating Paleo. Through my excellent job I started taking the free Yoga class once a week. I also take CorePowerYoga classes which I love!

Another 25 lbs later and here I am. Toned, happy, healthy and fitting in a size I haven’t seen since I was 15. It feels amazing. It feels good to eat healthy and good. Besides my cheat day s’mores blizzards I don’t eat fast food. I never go to Wendy’s, McDonald’s, BK, etc. When I’m hungry in a pinch I can grab a quick steak or chicken to grill. If I’m out to eat, chicken or salad with lemon and salt for dressing is my go to. I love avocado and eat with with all my meals pretty much. When I want a free ice cream from work, I eat it knowing my workout later needs to be harder/longer. I eat for fuel and taste buds.

Fitting into a pair of shorts that a few years ago wouldn’t have gone up past my knees is huge. I work out 4 days a week, eat well, and love that I have changed my life. I am happy, healthy, and feel great knowing I can grab anything clothes I own, throw it on and leave the house. Did I have a toxic friend or two that didn’t want to help and would constantly try sabotage me, yes. Did I drop them along with the weight? Absolutely. Did it suck really liking someone that I finally understood never had my best interest at heart? Yes but did I gain when I lost (har har har), I sure did. I love investing in myself and my health.

Loving my body isn’t about what other people see, it’s what I see and how I feel. Loving my body is giving it what it NEEDS, not satisfying wants. I love my body and want it to feel great and function well. It’s an investment in my future self. I was fat and it was my own fault and I changed it. Fat isn’t a bad thing but it was unhealthy. I don’t need to be a size 2 and I am still fat to some I’m sure but I know I’m healthy. My next goal to lose more fat % and tone up. I would like to ultimately get down about 15lbs more but it’s really about how my clothes fit and getting toned.

Last years goal: wear a bikini proudly?

Check.
food, health, healthy, restaurant review, reviews

North Shore…Vegan?

So I love meat. Yes, that IS what she said. It’s true. I am the kind of girl you take to a steakhouse and actually eats a steak, not a salad or a side of chicken but a damn good filet. So yeah when someone mentions seitan (fake meat substitute), in my head “satan” pops right up. I love vegetables but i just feel like my meal isn’t complete without meat.
I was wrong.
Like really really really REALLY wrong. 
One of my best friends has been raving about Kitchen 17 in Lakeview. The thing is, lord knows I love Rick but he can pretty enthusiastic about things and I wasn’t sure if this was just another flavor of the week for him. The weeks went by, turning into months and I was like, okay let’s give this place a try. 
It’s in Lakeview, on Briar near Belmont and Broadway. It’s aesthetically pleasing from the outside, nice big window, wood trim, clean and elegant. It didn’t have some dirty hippie vibe or weird feel, so my #noshopo attitude was in check as I ventured in. The menu is written on a chalkboard, clear, easy to read and not overwhelming. 
Apparently the nachos were a must have and as you can see below, they look amazing. Honestly? Some of best nachos I have ever had. Fresh fresh fresh! The guac was awesome and the chips crisp. I really couldn’t tell that the cheese and meat weren’t “real”. I am a  *cough* little bit of a picky eater and am very visual so I really didn’t want to try them at first. Then I realized I was being a total weirdo and just decided to have one and yeah, so tasty. I think just the fact they didn’t taste greasy or over processed and just tasted fresh, made the difference. So after the nachos, I needed a main course and the decision was a bit daunting. I mean, there were options but I wasn’t sure how to order because I couldn’t see what it looked like.
I decided on a burger, the “california”, because I fully maintain anything with avocado has to be good. I don’t like kale so we omitted that and literally THE BEST BURGER EVER was had. It was fresh, tasty, crispy and soft. The ranch, and I am a ranch aficionado, was phenomenal. The “burger” was crisp on the outside, soft in the middle but NOT mushy.  Seriously, I didn’t want to share with Joey and I always give him a bite. Not this time boo, this burger was all mine.

Rick and Sarah had the pot roast and had ever last drop of gravy. There wasn’t much food sharing because we all became pretty territorial about our delicious food. Joey had the breakfast burrito and pretty much devoured it and then my tomato cucumber salad.

Don Clements is the owner and a truly wonderful guy. He doesn’t like spinach, I don’t like kale but we liked each other. He is funny, smart, and the brains behind this wonderful place. He made me crack up, made vegan ranch I could take home, and offers free coffee. Can you really ask for more? Truly, for a North Shore girl like me, I am not not the most open about things but with great friends who help me open my mind, I am becoming more adventurous. Hey, if the rewards are a meal I am still craving to this day, count me in for more shenanigans! Considering I’m writing about this because I think everyone should go and try this place at least once, go check it out. Feel free to invite me to tag along 🙂

(myself, Don Clements)
please ignore how awful I look and admire Don and also my dimple