Tag Archives: review

City Row Review

I tried City Row once over the summer and last week with Ashley, so it’s definitely time for a review!  Let’s do this.

Source: NYRacked

Source: NYRacked

Logistics are always important to me when considering a workout and City Row gets an A+ for ease of use.  The studio is less than a 10 minute walk from my apartment, so I can get up 30 minutes before the class and still make it on time. Hu Kitchen being right next door is a nice bonus too!

The studio itself is small, but sleek.  There is a check in desk with friendly staff and a small hallway with coat hooks leads right to the studio space, a big room with about 20 (estimate) ergs.  There is also a small bathroom and cubbies for shoes and bags right in the studio, so you don’t have to worry about locks.  It’s a very well laid out functional space and I really like the great views down 5th Ave and 14th Street.

The workout: I’ve tried two classes, the Signature Row and the Row+Flow.  Descriptions here.

Source: NYRacked

Source: NYRacked

The signature class alternates 6 minutes of hard core rowing with 6 minutes of strength.  I love how you are constantly alternating, so the class never gets boring.  Even if you’ve never rowed, it’s pretty easy to pick up the basic motion and even add some fun oblique twists.  In my classes, you were often rowing for short bursts to achieve as certain amount of meters or split times–sort of HIIT-style. The strength was tough also, even the light weights really burned as we did a full body circuit by the end of the class.

The signature class was a great mix of sweat and strength, the short intervals, kept it interesting and I felt like I got a good workout in.  I also think Frank would really like the class, and I love any workout we can do together.

The Row+Flow class started with about 15 minutes of rowing followed by 30 minutes of yoga.  The instructor was equally good at teaching both row and yoga, she paid lots of attention to form and expected us to row at challenging pace. However, I prefer the signature class to row and flow, 15 minutes of rowing didn’t seem like quite enough time to really get my sweat on, although I did like that the 30 minutes of yoga was short yet effective.

Price: Classes are $32.  Typical.  But they are on ClassPass, so you can get a bit of a discount that way.

Will I try it again?  Yup. I’d like to try the SignatureX and Signature Row–Core Focus classes as well!

 

You Asked: My favorite Veggie Restaurants

I know I am posting a lot about food lately, but one of my Ask Anything questions was:

“what are good vegan restaurants in the city?”

I have posted about my favorite restaurants and healthy restaurants (mainly ones focused soley on places that cater to vegetarian and vegan preferences), but here is an updated list that includes all of my favorite vegan and vegetarian places, as well as places that have an abundance of veggie options even if they are not strictly V.  That said, restaurants in the city are typically more than willing to prepare foods to your taste and ethics, so I find that most of my favorite restaurants are not soley veggie, but have at least a few stunning veg-friendly options.

My Favorite Budget Friendly Finds:

Most of these places you can grab a meal for $12 or less, especially if you stick with specials and opt for tap water or have your Sigg in tow.  *

Taim—one of Gweynth Paltrow’s favorites.  A small, hole in the wall with a menu of delicious middle eastern salads and interesting smoothies.

Snice—best panini ever!

Bonobos—raw, vegan, affordable with a side of granola.  What’s not to love?  The coconut chai has many devotees. This picture is from Gena’s blog, clearly she’s a fan.

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Angelica Cafe—the standard for vegan restaurants.  The menu offers simply prepared foods and mouthwatering specials.  Don’t leave without trying the cornbread!

Kashkaval—probably one of my favorite spots in the city.  Simple small plates, affordable wine.  Everyone I bring becomes addicted—no joke.  Another bonus, your meat loving male friends won’t even notice there are almost no meat options on the whole menu!

Little Atlas-great for a light lunch on the run.

Atlas—a bigger version with LOTS of seemingly sinful vegan desserts

Caravan of Dreams—has both raw and cooked vegan options, an abundant salad selection, and a generous dash of cruchiness, but prices and flavor that will have you coming back for more.  Bonus: it’s where I met Gena for the first time!

Dojo’s-dirt cheap and not bad for a quick bite.  Don’t miss the carrot dressing!

7A-super cheap with a variety of vegan and vegetarian options.  Great brunch menu. My Dad is beyond obsessed with this place!

PB and Co.—the vegan option with many a gourmet twist.

Maoz Vegetarian—I just love to get the salad box and load up on pickled cabbage, gingery carrots, sauteed broccoli and cauliflower and a host of other yummy delights.  While I usually skip the falafel.  The warm, thick whole wheat pita is my favorite in the city. Of course an international fast food chain from Holland would be healthy!

Pita Grill-lots of yummy options

Benvenuto-my favorite place to toss a salad.  For around $8 you can pick 7 toppings to add to your greens!

Bamboleo—I love the steamed vegetable whole wheat burrito.  If you’re having a rough day at work, stop in for their awesome margarita lunch special.  Who says vegetarians can’t drink? Ole!

Cosmic Cantina-a little on the greasy side, but yay organic mexican

NY Dosa—cheap, cleanly prepared and startlingly famous

Baoguette—these sandwiches are becoming more and more popular—NYMag and Time Out both rave.  The sandwiches can only be described as toothsome. The new vegetarian sandwich is divine piled with all kinds of pickled vegetables and your choice of spice intensity.  This is probably my faux meat exception, but they also have a catfish available for pestarians.

Great Jones Spa and Juice Bar—huge juice selection and lots of light and energizing sammies and salads in a very zen local.

Liquiteria—my favorite juice bar.  great baked goods and some sandwich options as well.  Their norwalk pressed juice is like an IV of health into my system, but the $8.50 price tag keeps me away more than I would like!

Hummus Place—this chain has quite the following and numerous locations

Nanoosh—great hummus place with a larger menu and great soups. I wish there was one downtown!

Upscale Venues

These places are generally $20 or more for a meal, but certainly worth it on special occasions!  If you want a more frequent mini splurge, I find it helpful to order a big salad as an entree and split an appetizer and dessert or to make a meal out of appetizers and sides to keep my budget in check—as long as the appetizers aren’t fried, it’s usually a healthy option as well.  Whether you are trying to save or not, make sharing your best friend; I find there is always more than enough food and it’s fun to try a lot of courses.

Pure Food and Wine—my one and only.  I have never left this place not feeling more energized and refreshed, even when I am stuffed to the gills with the classic raw sundae!

Quintessence-I have always been impressed with the yummy raw offerings at the original nyc raw restaurant

Gobo-simple and clean

Hangawai-if you are an Asian food fan, this is your place for food and a dining experience, wear matching socks because you will have to take off your shoes.

WISH LIST

Places I want to try

Quartino Bottega Organica

Blossom

Jivamuktea

Peacefood Cafe

Free Foods NYC

Soeun

Dirt Candy

Candle Cafe

Sprout Craft Cafe

Tiffin Wallah

Vegetarian Tasting at Per Se or Daniel—that won’t happen any time soon! However, I should mention that O stopped into Per Se a few weeks ago after having drinks at Clo Bar, they can meet any dietary requirements you have if you request again, gluten free, vegan, etc.

Wild Ginger

Teany

I realize there are many many places I left off the list.  I had a huge debate about Candle 79, for some reason it has never been a favorite of mine, but it is one of few upscale vegan places, so it is hard to leave it off the list.  It is Paul McCartney’s favorite restaurant for goodness sake.  So I will qualify by saying that these are just my top picks.There are places I left off the list because I am not a huge fan—Counter—but there are also just too many places to list and plenty of places I don’t even know about!  However, all of the above have my stamp of approval.  Just fyi, I am not a big fake meat or soy fan, so most of these places were selected for the beauty they bring out in whole grains and fresh produce.  However, there a host of places that provide mock meat dishes that impress even the most carnivorous. So if that is what you are looking for, places like Kate’s Joint, Village Natural and Red Bamboo are hugely popular in the city.  Just fyi, I consider ambience, service, and cost into the equation, but taste is my main concern–obvi.

A Weekend of Restaurant Reviews

Happy Presidents Day! It’s a gorgeous day in NYC to have off!  My gym  happens to closed for the annual cleaning, which provides good impetus to run outside at some point this morning!

This weekend I have the opportunity to try several new restaurants, so I thought I would share my reviews!

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera on Saturday night (bullocks), so I don’t have pictures from Little Branch or Babbo, but I will search google images and do my best to describe!

Little Branch (20 Seventh Ave)

I have been wanting to try Little Branch for a while, and Saturday night I had my opportunity!  Little Branch is part of the Milk and Honey franchise, but unlike M+H, it’s fairly easy to get into.  Interestingly enough, I spent last valentine’s day at the Milk and Honey in London. Last night, we arrived a little after 8, entered an unassuming door and the junction of 7th ave and Leroy and walked down a fairly steep staircase—at least when you are wearing 4 inch heels.

While I had envisioned the old boys club, speak-easy feel with jazz filling the air, I didn’t expect it to be PACKED.  It was a young crowd in an old-school, boozy bar.  It did clear out after about 10 minutes, but when we left, there was a line out the door.  Tip: it opens at 7PM, arrive on the early side and you can avoid lines!

While the bar area was packed, there are several tables if you are willing to wait.  However, the real action happens at the bar.   Watching the bartenders craft your drink is a show in itself.  Each drink is created with no consideration taken for granted.  For the adventurous, you can order the bartender’s choice and be surprised.  Our bartender’s choice was two kinds of rum with pineapple and ginger served with a stirrer straw and lots of ice. I was kind of boring just got a glass of champagne, but I marveled at all the drinks being shaken and served around me.

Little Branch definitely made me want to try Dutch Kills, which is by the same owners but in Long Island City.  It is the same idea, but the drinks are about $4 less.

Babbo

Babbo is Mario Batali’s signature restaurant in NY.  It is notorious for being tight with reservations and fairly exorbitant for italian, but also worth it for many.

I was pretty excited to try it.  I had been for a glass of wine years ago, but never had a chance to try the Batali creations that are known to melt my heart for chubby red-headed men in orange clogs  everywhere.

The restaurant is simple, but elegant.  We were ushered up a grand center staircase to the top floor, where we greeted by a gracious and gregarious waiter, who we instantly decided was fabulous.  Service is definitely what sets good restaurants apart from great ones in NYC.  The better restaurants I have been to always have several people orchestrating the meal, attentive service, lots of knowledge without pretension, and a grace and ease that creates a seamless flow to the evening from first pour of water to the last bite of dessert.

All right, on to the food.  I am so mad for not remembering my camera! But managed to find google images for almost everything!

We started with a quartino of Freisa d’Asti (red wine)and the Winter Vegetable Salad with Goat’s Milk Ricotta and Pumpkin Seed Oil.

It was very yummy, small but intensely flavorful. The mix had potatoes, squashes, and micro greens and was topped with a piece of crostini with warm ricotta and lightly dressed with pumpkin seed oil and a divine balsamic reduction.

Between courses we received a crostini with marinated chickpeas.  They were covered in herbs and had a nice kick to them.

We decided to create our own pasta tasting menu and split four pastas.   Yes, we order 4 entrees.  It was a bit ridiculous, but Babbo reservations are hard to come by.  I was pretty happy that I had managed to eat lightly, but sensibly throughout the day, so that by our 9PM reservation, I was hungry, but not hangry.

First up was the dish I had been most curious about:

Pumpkin “Lune” with Sage and Amaretti (recipe here)

It was pumkin ravioli with sage and then a grating of amaretti cookie done tableside. It was very sweet, but yet hearty in a savory way.  I very much enjoyed the small serving, but do not know if I would have wanted a full plate of such a sweet pasta.  That being said, the ravioli portion was much smaller than the other pasta, obviously with that in mind.

Next we tried the

Black Spaghetti with Rock Shrimp, Spicy Salami Calabrese and Green Chiles

I hadn’t been paying enough attention when we were deciding on dishes because otherwise I would have noticed this had red meat in it.

However, I somehow missed this, and was surprised when a large plate of black spaghetti adorned with a bit pile of chopped meat was set in front of me.  It was fortunate that it was pretty easy to remove the said meat pile from the top and enjoy the pasta and shrimp.  I definitely consumed a bit of bacon here and there, but I wasn’t about to make a scene and I made 2-3 meat exceptions a year, so this will be one of them. I am glad I did because that was actually my favorite pasta of the night.  The spaghetti was so rich and grainy, almost like soba noodles, it was delicious.  So delicious in fact that I forgot to save room for the remaining two dishes and nearly cleaned my plate.

Next up was the second dish I chose:

Spaghettini with Spicy Budding Chives and a One Pound Lobster

GOOGLE IMAGE

This was a simple dish.  Cleanly prepared with a subtle marinara sauce.  The lobster was sweet but ever so slightly overcooked.  I ate the lobster but left the pasta because I was stuffed by this point.

The final dish I hadn’t planned on trying as it was

Chianti Stained Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu

I was assured it was phenomenal, but most of it was taken home because sharing 3 plates of pasta is no easy feat, let alone four.

And yet we weren’t done.  Our waiter had recommended the special of brussels sprouts, and B sprouts have always been one of my very favorite foods.  Growing up my brother and I would fight for the last of the brussels sprouts. However, I literally couldn’t even try one without popping a seam in my dress, so we took them to go.

The evening ended most deliciously.  While we passed on dessert, we appreciated the small plate of meringues and biscotti arrived with our check. Next time, I will have to save room!

On a side note, we were fascinated by the soundtrack at Babbo.  We listened to Nirvana and the entire Phoenix album!

Brunch at Cookshop

Somehow my appetite had returned by 12:30 on Sunday, and I was excited to try brunch at a new place: Cookshop.   I had walked by it on the way to Chelsea Piers a few times and found myself intrigued by the understated ambiance and the seasonally, locally inspired menu.  The menu changes very frequently, so the menu online was very different than the menu yesterday, but delicious options abounded nonetheless.

The brunch was hopping, but I had a reservation and we were seated immediately.  While there were several things I considered ordering, a lighter meal was in order and I decided on the (and I had my camera!)

Mixed Grain Porridge with almonds, golden raisins and brown sugarvday 002

and a seasonal fruit salad

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Delicious, it may have been the best grapefruit I have ever had.

I also got to taste something that was hard to resist ordering myself:

Semolina Raisin French Toast with vanilla mascarpone, poached pears and almonds.vday 001

I often find french toast far too eggy, but this was sweet and delicious! If you are a french toast fan, you have to try this one!

Another thing I loved about Cookshop was that the coffee can with steamed milk on the side.  I hate when milk makes my coffee cold!

I definitely like Cookshop more than Five Points, which is by the same owner.  Although it is a bit of a hike, it happened to be right next to the following item on our agenda, ice skating at Chelsea Piers.

I was happy to get some informal exercise in and managed to leave the rink unscathed for the most part.

Later that night, I went to see Valentine’s Day.

I was VERY skeptical, but apparently reading bad reviews set the bar really low, and I actually enjoyed the movie for what it was.  It was not complex or thought provoking, it did not have me rolling out of my seat, but it had a few chuckles, some relateable scenes, and a very likable cast of characters. The NYTimes was right about Taylor Swift–“Country-music lovers might be happy to know that Taylor Swift makes her first and quite possibly last big-screen appearance here.” Horrendous performance, painful to watch.  What happened since SNL?  All in all, I found the movie amusing enough. Not to mention that the cast was certainly gentle on the eyes all around!  Although I did see some guys in the theater literally covering their eyes in disgust. haha

BARBOUNIA

After the movie, we made one last stop for a light dinner at Barbounia.  I have passed Barbounia at least a thousand times and always take a second to glance in at the open, opulent decor.  Despite how sexy it looks and the interesting menu, I had never heard enough about it to actually commit to going.  I am glad we did because everything was great. It’s a great date place if you like greek mezze!

We just had the hummus which came with olives and the richest flatbread ever.

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And the tuna tartare which had blackened tahini, beets, cilantro and avocadovday 009

The dessert menu sounded insane, and was hard to resist, but I had no room left!  In the end I was content to sip some chamomile—my new obsession!

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Workout DVD Fail

There are times to save and there are times to pay a few extra Bens for what you really want. Yup, learned that lesson the hard way.

I was relunctant to pay $59ish dollars for the Physique 57 DVD set, but really wanted it, especially after Diana’s amazing review.  When searching for it on Amazon, where I would get free shipping, The Bar Method DVD came up.

The amazon reviews were great, and I have always had luck with amazon reviews, so I thought, this might be the solution.  In fact, one of the reviews said it changed her body far more than the Shred!  I find the Shred pretty challenging, so I was totally on board.  I spent about $12.60 with S+H and eagerly anticipated the arrival of my new P57 substitute.

It arrived while I was hope for thanksgiving, so I took it for a spin last night.

Meh, this is like Physique for kindergartners.  There were a few challenging moments and moves, but nothing like the thigh shaking, stomach burning Physique and Core Fusion classes.

Interestingly, every single move in the video, I have done in Physique 57 classes, but they were the easiest versions done with low intensity and very few reps..

The DVD had a few saving graces; it certainly wasn’t horrible.  The instructor gave very clear instructions, so you knew you were doing the move perfectly and I also found that the stretching really helped lengthen out.  And all told, the 45 minutes FLEW by.  But it wasn’t what I was expecting and it certainly wasn’t super challenging.  Definitely not $12 well spent, but I guess that is the cost of 1/3 of a class at Physique, so maybe I broke even.

Que sera sera.  I did just receive an email for free shipping on the p57 DVD set, so I think that will be my post-exam treat to myself!  The code is SHIPP57 if you want your own set.  12/15 seriously can’t come soon enough! Until then I am going to stick to my Core Fusion and Results Fitness DVDs.

Let it Rock

Wow, it’s been quite the weekend!

Last night I hosted a South Africa Reunion for the people who went on my study abroad.  Unfortunately the weather was terrible and what should have been a great roof top barbeque became an indoor soiree.  I have to say, I went beyond overboard with food!  I made like 10 dishes (tortilla espanola, spinach artichoke dip, smore brownies, a huge cheese and prosciutto platter, gorgonzola agave bruschetta with dried cranberries, edammame dip, hummus, mexican lay dip, chips and bread and crackers, caprese salad skewers, tons of crudités,sweet and savory trail mix; I also bought some premade TJs stromboli and feta and caramelized onion phyllo cups that I didn’t even serve.) Oh well, it was the first time I had cooked in a while, and I do love entertaining.  It was fun to see so many people from the trip, including our amazing professor, who stayed until 1:30AM! 

In any case, I had to be at Grand Central by 7 to meet Katherine for our long run, so I didn’t get much sleep.   I was excited to have company, and I knew I would need it.  I also wore my Obamathoner Running Shirt for good luck.

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As I mentioned yesterday, I have been really concerned about the pain in my foot that I had at the end of run.  So how did the big 2-0 go?  Well, it was the hardest run of my life, I am not going to lie.  From mile 1 there was pain.  However, it was not the sharp excruciating localized pain that I experienced at mile 17 last week.  It was a dull, mild, yet present ache in my left ankle and knee.  There was some pain at the top of my foot for maybe half of the run, but it came and went and wasn’t too bad.  The bigger sneakers helped this immensely.  So I am really hoping that most of the pain is just left over from running in sneakers that all of the sudden became way too small.  I am not really sure what the deal with the ankle and knee pain was all about, but that can also be due to ill-fitting sneakers.  I still don’t know how after 2 years and 5 pairs, my sneaker size suddenly changed, but i guess it is summer and heat and distance cause swelling.

So back to the long run, Katherine and I decided to do an around Manhattan run.  Starting at 42nd and Lex and running east to the promenade then heading uptown to 110th then crossing all the way west to Riverside Park before heading south all the way down the west side and around the very tip of the island and back up the east side. 

The route was great for a few reasons:

  1. I got to see Cathedral Street for the first time, which is just at the top of the park.  I have seen it from the top of the great hill loop in Central Park a million times, but never actually run down it.
  2. I got to run through Riverside Park, which was really beautiful with lots of shade and great views of the sail boats on the water. 
  3. We got to check out a few of the NY400 events going on down around Battery Park City
  4. I got to run up the east side for the first time in years. I actually forgot there was even a path all the way up the east side.  Although I have to say, it is not nearly as immaculately groomed as the west side.  There was a lot of tree debris that made the surface very uneven, and that was when the surface was fairly level, there were a lot of place that were in desperate need of paving with innumerably pot holes, loose grave and haphazard patching jobs.  It’s funny up on the west side and in the park, runners are so well-groomed with their fancy running gear and coordinated outfits, on the east side path the running clientele had a much more jerry-rigged wardrobe.

Overall the run was a struggle, I have never had any pain while running and I was kind of in shock that I suddenly had to deal with so much discomfort.  I used to start runs with the tight lead leg feeling, lately I have started my runs with my legs totally fine, but now I am dealing with something far worse. 

Beyond my own personal left leg and foot issues, running with Katherine is always amazing.  She is a bit stronger than me, but she is very generous in moderating her pace for me and being encouraging when the going gets tough.  We both were feeling it (not pain, just tired legs) around mile 15, so it was great to cheerlead each other through the last 1/4 of the run. 

We decided to use the Galloway method, which Katherine had used on her 18 mile run last week to great success.  I had vaguely heard of the Galloway method, but never used it.  However, I remember that someone told me that the Galloway method is guaranteed to improve your time on all runs, if you run 10 minutes walk 1. There was actually an interesting NYTimes article on the G-method recently.  We ran the first 5 miles straight and then switched to run seven minutes, walk one.  It was a change from last week when I ran the 18 miles straight through stopping briefly twice, once to refill my water bottles and once to loosen my laces.

Results: Well in ways, I thought it would be hard to stop and start.  I mean restart your ipod a bunch of times and you drain the battery, wouldn’t people be the same? Isn’t that the purpose of interval training?  However, it wasn’t too bad, the first minute was rough, but our times were way faster than when I ran without walking!  So weird, but true.  When we were running, it was under ten minute miles, whereas last week I ran at just under 11 minute miles.  I am not sure I will keep using it this training session, but it was definitely intriguing!  And I think it was better for my foot too.  Has anyone else used the Galloway method?

Fuel consumed: seven 6-ounce water bottles and a cherry pie larabar.

Total distance: 20.05 miles

Post-run: While I have described in detail my body feeling during the run, after wasn’t too bad.  I could definitely feel soreness in my knee and ankle, but I iced like crazy all afternoon, took two advil and feel pretty good right now.

Preventative Measures: I am anxious to talk to a doctor and/or podiatrist to make sure that this is just a mild sprain/injury.  I did read that ankle and knee pain is often related to weak quads.  So I am adding strength work for my legs back into my routine stat!  The strength makes me sorer at the beginning of my runs, but clearly it is worth a few miles of tightness for stronger, safer running overall.  I am also going to see how I feel tomorrow and maybe swim or bike for cardio.  Finally, I am going to wear my compression band for a while and see if that helps stabilize my ankle, since it took a beating on all the uneven surfaces today.

Oh, I have to thank Caitlin for her awesome song recommendation!  I downloaded Bombs Over Bagdad (B.O.B.) after seeing it on her 5K playlist.  Wow this is a great running song.  It is so intense!  It is great for the end of a run or race.  I am not even sure what they are saying, but wow is it fast!

Okay, so I said I would announce my new review today, but since this post is so long, I will announce it and go into much greater detail tomorrow.  I am trying Nu-Kitchen for 5 days starting tomorrow!  I am really excited since I was recommended to me by Dara Goddfrey and by friend Sue, who used it to great results after our marathon.  Nu-Kitchen is hands down the best food delivery system out there in my opinion, well not accounting for taste since I haven’t tried it.  But it appeals to me for several reasons:

  • The food is completely fresh, natural and delicious looking and the menu changes every week—unlike nutrisystem which looks like dehydrated dog food in the ads
  • It is affordable by NY standards, nu-kitchen is about what I spend on a day’s worth of food or one moderately priced meal out.  Any where from $11 for lunch or dinner to around $29-39 for  a day with three meals and two snacks depending the special and plan option
  • Lots of plan options, you can do a la carte, a few meals a day or a full day of meals and snacks.  You can even just do a day or two a week if you want!
  • You pick exactly what you want for each meal through a very simple online system
  • Nutritional information is provided for every single item on the menu

So I will explain more of my own personal reasons for wanting to try a meal delivery system and of course review each meal and snack tomorrow!  Yay for my first real food blogging experience.

Summit Swag Bag Product Reviews!

blogger summit and boston 046

I thought I would recap some of the products I have sampled from my Healthy Living Summit Swag Bag so far! As I mentioned, I was thrilled with the caliber of the swag items, the companies were thoughtfully chosen and the products reflect a truly wholesome lifestyle approach.

Mariani Ultimate Apricots!

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A+  I always hated dried fruit, and then, one day I decided to try a dried apricot and my world changed.  I now really enjoy apricots, prunes, golden raisins and dried cherries.  Any of these with a bit of goat cheese on a salad are simply foodgasmic.

Mariani’s were amazing.  In fact, they were the only product that didn’t make it home from Boston with me! Yum.

A Glow Bar Classic!

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Wouldn’t you glo it?  These were fantastic.  I ate it in thirds to prolong my enjoyment.  I was seriously impressed with how fresh and delicious they were.  They reminded me of those 25 cent little debbie oats and honey granola bars I used to love so much!  Great job Angela, these are to die!

Probar Fruition Cran-Raspberry

My bag didn’t come with the regular pro-bars, but that is okay, because the Fruition Bar meets my nutritional needs quite nicely. I was really impressed with the Cran-Raspberry ProBar Fruition. It was like a raw nutri-grain/fig newton-ish bar but better.  It was also much heartier than I anticipated for 160 enjoyable calories. I would definitely buy this if I saw it in a store, and am curious to check out the other flavors.  Whole foods, plus sustenance and a yummy taste=win, win ,win.

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Barney Butter

blogger summit and boston 045

The much raved about Barney Almond Butter.   I have to say, things with such build up can not usually live up to their reputation.  I tried about 1/3 of a packet, and I found it to be rather dry and not too enjoyable.  I will definitely try another packet of Barney Butter just to be sure it wasn’t a fluke.  But I have to say, I really enjoy my raw almond butters (I think MaraNatha Raw Almond Butter is one of my favorite discoveries of the millennium.) much more than my first BB sample.

Amazing Grass Bar Greens Super Food Energy Bar

Um, yuck. I am so sorry. I truly appreciate all companies that try and create healthy, whole food based, natural products, but I ate one tiny bite of this and had to stop. I threw both bars out, the regular and chocolate.  It may just be my tastebuds, but there is a very distinct flavor that I could not tolerate.  It is similar to the flavor of All Greens bars, which I also do not enjoy.

Pure Bar Chocolate Brownie

Chocolate Brownie

I have had this flavor of Pure Bar, and several other Pure Bar’s before.  Chocolate Brownie is not my absolute fav—I prefer trail mix and cherry cashew, but it does have a nice smoky dark chocolate flavor to it.  I tried Pure Bars several years ago when I desired a larabar alternative.  I love the company’s mission and the quality of its ingredients. I hope they expand their flavor options and product line soon! When it comes to raw/rawish chocolate flavored bars, I prefer Clif Nectar Bars, Jocolat bars and the Cocoa Mole Larabar.

Those are the products I was most excited to try from my bag.  I may get around to the rest down the line.

I also received a summit related copy of the Thrive Diet.  I am only a chapter or so in, but I like Brandon’s discussion of the relation of sleep and stress to the body’s overall health and energy so far!

If you are interested in learning more about Thrive, you can join the Thrive Challenge here.

Pure Delight!

I am so pleased to introduce Sofia of Crunchy Granola Girl.

Sofia is a fellow NYC running/yoga/ health food enthusiast and a new blogger!  Woo-hoo!  Please check out her review of a Iyengar class at Pure Yoga!  I have reviewed a few classes at Pure, and loved them.  I am thrilled to have a new opinion and another Pure Yoga classed reviewed on the blog.  Thanks Sofia! 

This morning I made the hour long trek from my new apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn, to the Upper East Side to take an Iyengar Yoga class at Pure Yoga. First, a word about Pure: Pure is an internationally renowned Yoga studio with locations in Asia and New York. At the New York studio, there are nineteen different yoga styles to choose from in what I would describe as an ultra-modern-urban-chic setting. The interior, which is below ground after the ground floor entrance, is adorned with stone fountains, angular couches, and marble showers and countertops, all in a grayish color scheme. Pure strives to find the best instructors from all different schools of yoga; there are many favorites whose classes are the subject of locker room discussions. Because it is a members-only studio (with the opportunity to take certain classes at a drop-in rate of $25-30 – can’t remember the exact price), many of the class attendants recognize each other from their favorite classes. This sense of camaraderie, which I also find at other studios, seems a bit stronger at a place where members can register for years at a time.

Iyengar Yoga, according to IYAGNY is a complete approach to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual transformation, bringing physical health and vitality, mental clarity, wisdom, and emotional serenity. Iyengar Yoga uses the physical reality of the body to know our minds and the deepest parts of ourselves as human beings.  The infinite perfectibility of the postures or asanas provides a pathway into the development of our intelligence and our ability to concentrate and sustain focus.  This intelligent practice develops our ability to grow and to separate what is worthwhile and productive from what to leave behind.

If these Iyengar people know what they’re talking about, this style of yoga sounds like something myself and many others need in life: to learn how to let go of what brings us down (“what to leave behind”) and to hold onto what is “worthwile and productive.” Reminds me of my best friend’s tattoos, an anchor on one foot (hold on) and a dove on the other (let go). Neat idea, huh? Oh right… back to the yoga.

My Sunday morning Iyengar class was small in attendance — there were six or so other women in the class. The instructor, Cara, guided us through the asanas in great detail and with great patience. She asked of everyone’s name and to inform her of any injuries they may or may not have. I notice that many teachers make an effort to introduce themselves to their students. I can say that I appreciate this custom most days of the week — although I do have my introverted moments in which I’d prefer to be left alone, but I remind myself that being reached out too in a simple way is healthy for the soul, and most especially when one is feeling anti-social and introspective.

Anyway, the class began with a simple shoulder opening stretch: we were instructed to lie on our backs with a rolled-up blanket at just about the middle point of the back. We were in this position for a few minutes, which was a slow but rejuvenating way to begin the class. We then got on our hands and knees, stretching out the back and shoulders some more. Cara repeatedly explained the opening of the shoulders and how we needed to let our shoulders sort of curl back onto the spine to allow for maximum opening of the chest and heart. We spent several minutes focusing on this, all the while I was wondering So, um, when are we gonna do our first downward dog?! Of course my impatience gets to the best of me. I’m the yogi always wanting to jump a few steps ahead of all the steps it takes to get to a certain pose. I constantly am reminding myself to slow down and let myself arrive at the posture when my body is conditioned and ready for it. Again, I make many connections here with my own life: always wanting a path, having to know what comes next, and just wanting to get to a certain place without having to go through the process of getting there.

When we finally got to downward facing dog, Cara instructed us to sink deeply into our shoulders and to allow the elbows to bend slightly, allowing for the deepest possible stretch. Obviously, as the most talented yogi to ever walk the face of the earth, I looked like this:

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Well, not quite. Pictured above is B.K.S. Iyengar, the eighty-six year old founder of Iyengar yoga. I think I have quite a bit of yogic dedication and spiritual practice until I’m ever that flexible.

In order to obtain the deepest stretch, we spent a good deal of the class working with partners. I was paired with a friendly older woman named Linda who was a bit taller than myself but had a similar body type, so we worked well together. I was a bit hesitant about working with a partner — as a new student of yoga, I am only just starting to vary my yoga diet and haven’t done much partner yoga. I’ve taken classes in Vinyasa, Jivamukti, Ashtanga, Bikram (does this even count?! I question whether Bikram is just a fad and not a true yoga practice, but maybe I’m too much of a snooty Purist, no pun intended), and now Iyengar. This was maybe my second time working with a partner, but it was a fantastic experience as the posture we were attempting to deepen was certainly aided by the help of a partner. We were instructed to get into downward facing dog with our heels almost flush against the wall, forearms on the ground, like so:

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The partner is in a modified boat pose facing the head of the yogi in downward dog, pushing on the shoulder blades with the balls of the feet. This was an extremely challenging pose, but especially for the partner in boat pose — or maybe that was just my experience, as my yogic achilles heel is boat pose and I can barely hold this pose for more than a few seconds without bending my knees and sinking my head and curling my back. In this position, however, our knees had to bend a bit to provide leverage and flexibility for the movement of the partner in down dog. We were instructed to push their shoulders up, not back, in order to lengthen the spine and stretch the shoulders in the most optimal position.

We also used blocks against the wall as leverage for our arms. We moved the blocks up and down the wall with our backs against the wall and our partners facing us, holding our elbows and creating pressure from both the inside of the elbows and then from the outside. Though this sounds and appears to be a simple movement, the block lifter must focus on numerous things simultaneously: peeling the shoulders back, keeping the shoulders relaxed, engaging the core to stabilize balance and arm movement, keeping the butt aligned with the back and not sticking out too much. This is conjoined with the fact that there is a random person standing in front of you guiding your arms as you try to stray your eyes to the side so as not to look awkwardly into theirs — you did just meet fourty minutes earlier. Hah.

After a few more stretches against the wall, the most notable of which was an arm stretch that was incredibly opening and will probably make my shoulder very sore tomorrow, we got on the floor to do bridge pose with a block. This then turned into shoulder stand with a block, which seemed like a daunting undertaking at first (I lack in the balance and coordination departments) but eventually was a very stable and safe posture for me. Finally it was time for savasana, which lasted for a few more minutes than the average savasana I’ve experienced. I actually almost fell asleep, which I’ve done a few times before back in my days at the Jivamukti studio in Union Square. I left class feeling very relaxed and sufficiently stretched. Even though I didn’t break a sweat, I am feeling the burn already in my arms and shoulders. Tomorrow I will try to work only my legs (maybe a Prospect Park bike ride) and leave my upper body alone, as today it was sufficiently tested by the Iyengar yoga method.

I would definitely take this class again on a day I feel that I need a relaxing and strengthening yoga class. However, I am a very curious yogi and wish to take other types of yoga classes before I repeat anything besides what I consider my most comforting form (good old Vinyasa!). Stay tuned for next week – I may stray from Pure for a class in order to fulfill my Brooklyn exploration project and try out a hot yoga class in Park Slope. Or I’ll just stick to what I know is good and hit up the awesome Hot Ki class  at Pure. In the meantime, the working week looms and I may have to sacrifice yoga for a few days in order to finish up unpacking the contents of my life and exploring my new neighborhood. In closing, I am happy to say that my weekend yoga project ended on a positive note: I feel calm, present and ready to take on whatever Monday brings!

Thanks for the great post Sofia.  Good luck on the BK exploration project!

Best Week Ever Recap

Wow, I am getting very use to this no school thing.  I took a full long week to enjoy my freedom before starting to prepare for my summer courses. While I relished the simple abundance of every moment, I thought I would share some of the notable highlights.

 

The week started out full of NYC pride, as I had my first visit to the new Yankee Stadium…magnificent!  My friend looked like she had found the promised land, she was so excited.

TUESDAY:

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Wow, those mowers deserve some props!

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And then we watched our Yanks kick some Oriole butt back to Baltimore.

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WEDNESDAY:

The rebirth of Washington Square Park…

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In case you didn’t know, and actually care, WSP has been closed due to very controversial construction.  This construction involved moving the fountain about three feet left to be in line with the arch.  This kind of broke my heart because the park is basically the closest thing NYU has to a campus or “college green.”  I can’t imagine my undergraduate years there without it, it’s where we congregate and graduate.  So the incoming classes haven’t had access to it, and the last two graduating classes had to hold all University graduation at the old and new Yankee Stadiums.

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Young and old celebrate the grand opening…

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I have to say, the park is already back to its alive energetic self.

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BEAM GREEN

While I was very excited for the park to reopen, my Wednesday night activity was even cooler.

Gena was sweet enough to invite me to a Beam Green event.  First off, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to go to Tavern on the Green for the first time.  While many people rag on it for being a tourist trap, I couldn’t help but want to experience the fairyland atmosphere for myself.  It was even more extravagant and opulent than I could have imagined, yet elegantly so. Check out the chandelier:

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Beam Green was simply fabulous…I was actually a bit skeptical at first! BG is a social club with a focus on educating the community on achieving a healthy, organic and eco-conscious lifestyle. The club holds monthly meetings and events featuring prominent health and nutrition experts.  I have been a long time fan of Natalia Rose, and I could not wait to hear her speak!  We also had a great presentation from Dr. Ginger on how to progressively detoxify your diet, body and lifestyle.  It was funny that she mentioned Tiger Balm, which I recently reviewed, as the safest pain reliving cream.  Apparently, many other brands have ingredients that are dangerous when they enter your body through the skin, but Tiger Balm is an all natural and safe alternative!

Mary K. Boehmer is Beam Green’s gorgeous, generous and tireless founder.  Mary truly inspired me last Wednesday; I couldn’t get over how contagious her energy was and how flawlessly she put the evening’s program together.  Her passion and generosity are clear. Team Beam Green is on a mission to help educate the world on eco-conscious living and natural health and well-being, and at only $20 a month for membership, Team Green is the best bargain in NY!

The evening started with amazing delectables from Liquiteria, Babycakes, Whole Foods brown rice veggie sushi, a huge grilled and raw veggie platter with yummy dips, and non-soy coconut ice cream from Stogo.

Below: The tables on the left show “fake health” products according to Dr. G.   And the table on the right was filled with this month’s raffle prizes!

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Mary sweetly encouraged us not to be shy about taking home the leftovers.  Here is Gena taking home some kale and veggies! Another great dress Ms. Gena!

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I have to say I couldn’t wait to get home and devour the info provided in the Beam Green packets!  Oh, yeah, and two breakfast’s worth of green juice!

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THURSDAY:

No picture, but I had a cool opportunity to go visit the 50th floor of 7 World Trade Center for an event orientation.  OMG the views were amazing!  I have never seen such a gorgeous view of NY! The Brooklyn Bridge looked so tiny! With a pang of sadness, I must admit I can’t even fathom what the view from 110 floors must have been like!

Friday:

Blogger Meet Up with Gina the Fitnessista! Wow, I was so excited to meet Gena, a fellow fitness-focused blogger. You won’t  believe it but, she was even more drop dead gorgeous and charming in person.  Not only did I get to meet Gina, but I also got to meet/see again,  Ashley, Meghan, Gena, Brooke, Megan, and Katie.

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Seeing this photo, I hate myself for not wearing heels!  I am so freakishly short!

It’s all the fault of these:

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Yeah, I need to accept that I am midget and must always wear heels on most if not all social occasions, even if that means forgoing my favorite flats.

So anyways, swiftly moving on from insecurity, lunch was fabulous.  Unfortunately, my lunch hour was more than over before the food was served, so I had to ask them to package it up for me, so I could eat it at my desk.  I am sorry if I was rude girls, but I hate when people take lunch hour and a halfs, and I figured a lunch hour and fifteen was about as far as I could comfortably push it! Despite being desk-side, lunch was super yummy.  I feel bad for calling Caravan of Dreams too hippy dippy.  Their food is holy yum and holy cheap to boot! And the waiter was really nice to put up with my time paranoia!

I had the Ecuador, which was carrot pasta with tomato jicama salsa, pea shoots, scrummy guac, juicy mango chunks and two flaxseed chips.

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And a surprise treat:  my co-worker had bought me a green juice from organic avenue!  This one was the strongest I have had yet, it was as “meaty” as a juice can get!  Thanks Claudia!

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FRIDAY NIGHT:

No real photos (thanks google images), but I had a fun night at Harry’s Water Taxi Beach with my roommate and a few of our friends.  Plus, Ashley and Bo (the bears) happened to be sitting at the table next to us, so it was one big beach party!  While I had a great time, the drinks were seriously strong, my vodka sodas were basically huge shots with a splash of soda.  So after I was forced  heavily persuaded to get a third, I went to bed with the room spinning around me.  I woke up about 3 hours later and couldn’t go back to sleep, so it was a rough day.  Oh well, it was fun at the time! Maybe I just need some proper training…jk :)

SATURDAY NIGHT:

Gena and I went to Pure Food and Wine to celebrate her promotion, huge success in the raw food world, and much belatedly, her blog!  An evening at Pure is always a great one, and this was no exception.

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We split the sushi rolls, and I had a delicious salad of the day for my entree.

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It was light and delicious.  The tomatoes were absolute divinity and the salt and pepper on the watermelons was genius! The balsamic reduction was very yummy, I didn’t try the pistachio oil, but I am sure it was good!

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SUNDAY:

I invited one of my girlfriends over for dinner, and decided to prepare a tapas spread.   While there were many more things I wanted to make—roasted Brussels sprouts, grilled asparagus, spinach artichoke dip—since it was only two of us, I tried to restrain myself.  Here is what did make the menu:

Caprese Salad—recipe from Everyday Italian Cookbook.  I made this specifically for Laura, since I typically don’t like cold cheese (except goat and cottage), but OMG, this fresh mozzarella di buffalo was the best I have had since Capri two summers ago.  I couldn’t believe how it melted in the mouth! And the yellow heirlooms were so sweet and mild!

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I dressed it with a teaspoon EVOO, half a juiced lemon, a short drizzle balsamic vinegar and S+P. perfect and light!

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I also made a very simple baby spinach and cucumber salad.

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This is another Everyday Italian cookbook recipe, Sun-dried tomatoes and chickpeas spread. I cut the EVOO from 1/4 cup to 2 tsps and added water to make up for the missing liquid.  This tasted just like sundried tomato hummus.  The only problem, I forgot that I don’t actually like sundried tomato hummus; in fact, I really only like Cedars Garlic Hummus—I’m something of a purist. But if you do like sundried tomato hummus, you will like this.

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Next, Moroccan Spiced Carrots from Matthew Kenney’s Mediterranean Cooking.  This came out great!  I substituted cooking spray for oil.  Too much oil tends to be the only thing that bothers my otherwise resilient tummy, which is one reason I always ask for dressing on the side.  I also hate my greens being wet or soggy, it really bothers me as a huge texture person.

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Also on on the menu, but not pictured: Marinated Baked Tempeh.  I just marinated half a cubed  log of flax tempeh in soy sauce and garlic powder for a couple hours and then baked it in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes, turning once.  Very yummy!

Finally, I saw this on my way out of the store and decided to try it: Sabra’s Caponata.  Eggplant caponata is one of my favorite foods and I make it a lot.  However, I was tempted to see how this compared.  It was good, less chunky than most, with the exception of whole olives throughout.  I don’t like olives, but they were easy to pick out.  It was good, and since I don’t like Sabra’s hummus, I was happy I took a chance on their other products.  Mine is way better, but this was way faster!

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All of the above was served with pieces of warm, toasted whole wheat flat bread and a WW wrap. And a very nice Riesling that Laura brought.

 

For dessert, I enlisted Laura to help me taste test some of these great Guiltless Gourmet Dessert Bowls I received quite a while back.   Here’s the deal, they come in three enticing flavors: hot chocolate brownie, black velvet brownie, and banana’s fosters cake.

They have several great features right off the bat,

  1. they are portion control
  2. they take under a minute to make with NO mess (see below)
  3. they are much healthier than any other fudge covered cake I have seen on the market, and they taste very good.

The ingredients like is quite recognizable, we’ve got some sugar and non-whole grain flour, but nothing artificial or scary at all.

Ingredients
Ingredients: Brownie Mix: Evaporated Cane Juice Crystals, Wheat Flour, Cocoa Powder, Nonfat Yogurt Powder (Cultured Nonfat Milk), Palm Oil, Eggs, Kosher Salt, Baking Soda (Leavening), Natural Flavor. Fudge Sauce: Evaporated Cane Juice Crystals, Evaporated Cane Juice Syrup, Water, Cocoa Powder, Nonfat Dry Milk, Cornstarch, Kosher Salt.

The nutrition stats aren’t bad for a warm gooey dessert:  200 calories, 3 grams fat, 3 grams fiber, 4 grams protein

What did we think?  Laura and I sampled the chocolate varieties.  I had the black velvet and though it was really good, natural tasting, certainly not health tasting and very filling.

Laura had the hot chocolate brownie and said it was yummy and super chocolaty!

About a month ago, I tried the Banana Foster’s Cake:

 

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Basically, you just dump the mix into the bowl mix with 2 tablespoons of water and nuke for 30-40 seconds.

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Presto: drizzle and enjoy.

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While I loved the cake part, I didn’t love the sauce it tasted very very banana to me, and not in a good way, I am not a huge banana person…not even banana bread, so while the sauce was too strong, the cake was awesome.  and again, very filling.

Bottom line: These are a great alternative to a rich dessert, if you want to feel like you are indulging, but don’t want to go hog wild on the “real thing.”  Personally, I think these are great for an occasional treat, but I wouldn’t eat one every night because they are pretty rich and a bit high in sugar, and regular flour for a daily indulgence.  But these are not tiny, so at least you know you will stop at one.

MONDAY:

Breakneck Ridge Hike! (previously described)

Monday night post-hike: 10 minutes in the sauna and then I covered myself in Tiger Balm before passing out!

 

Wow that was a lot of info!

Giveaways: Element Bar @ Hangry Pants

Blog Makeover from Zesty Cook

Running decisions, recipes, and reviews

 

Another long week behind us!  Yay.  It’s finally starting to feel like summer  is on the  horizon!  For some reason the word horizon just reminded me of a quote from one of my favorite books, Their Eyes Were Watching God, "Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see."

So anyways, I decided to sign up for the Brooklyn Half marathon at the end of the month.  I won’t really have time to do long runs in preparation, but I think I will be okay with a fair amount of quality training runs over the next two weeks. I was convinced to do it because it is supposed to be a fun, flat, beautiful course.  Any run with both Prospect Park and Coney Island in its course has to be scenic and fun!

For everyone doing the Healthy Kidney run this weekend—GOOD LUCK!

So on to some reviews.

First, Tiger Balm

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I had kind of heard of Tiger Balm when I was offered the chance to try it, but didn’t really know what it was. However, upon arrival I instantly loved the marketing materials, who doesn’t want a massage on the go? 

So in case you are also new to Tiger Balm, here is what it is supposed to do:

Tiger Balm Neck & Shoulder Rub is great for executives on the go, providing fast, soothing relief to neck and shoulder aches and pains anytime and anywhere. Simply massage this topical remedy onto the affected area, and its pain relieving properties will work quickly to deliver the desired relaxing effect. This water-based cream gives a clean, non-greasy feel to the skin, and the calming fragrance makes it even more pleasant to use in any stressful situation.

I do love the clever marketing integration, relief for sore office workers!  Check out the results of a survey of 500 New Yorkers who live and work throughout Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs was commissioned by Tiger Balm and conducted by Promark Research:

  • Three-quarters (74%) of New York office workers feel they are under more stress than those who live elsewhere.
  • Two-fifths (43%) of respondents feel they are working harder or working longer hours now compared with a year ago because of the economic crisis, and 61% say they are currently feeling more stress than they were before the recession began.
  • Though all respondents spend a portion of their day sitting behind a desk and/or computer, the majority of workers surveyed (60%) spend six hours or more at a desk and/or computer.
  • More than half (53%) of office workers believe that spending time at a computer causes stress on the body and related physical pain.
  •  The largest number of office workers who are experiencing work-related stress and pain feel it in their neck and shoulders (39%), while 29% feel it in their back and 15% feel it in their arms.
  • Approximately one-quarter (24%) of office workers experiencing work-related stress and physical pain say that it is affecting their productivity at work.
  •   New York office workers are cutting back on luxuries and indulgences, including self-pampering activities such as manicures, hair maintenance and massages (57%). They’re also using coupons and relying on sales to save money (48%), and limiting the number of days they buy lunch at work each week (45%).
  • A large majority of New York office workers (69%) think that a regular massage, concentrating on the neck and shoulders, can help them manage stress and relieve associated pain. However, a relatively large number of respondents volunteered that they didn’t know if it could or not.

I definitely related to the ones in blue!  I think we all our more worried about job security and feel the need to step up our game at work! As for spa treatments, I would say I am less likely to go to a fancy spa and still with the cheaper, low frills places for waxes, nails, hair, etc.  I rarely splurge on massages, so I think that will remain the very infrequent treat.

As I know everyone in my office was feeling the end of academic year push, and we have all been pretty stressed lately, I brought Tiger Balm to several of my co-workers.  They were all really excited.  One person did ask me, “do i look like I am in pain?”  But a few days after I brought it in, people were coming to my desk asking if I had any more for their stiff necks!blueprint cleanse, tiger balm 015

I tried Tiger Balm on Tuesday night.  I followed the suggestion for neck and shoulders, and since it also said joints, I rubbed some on my knees as well.  As soon I opened it, it reminded me of Bengay and Icy Hot.  It was not as greasy, fragrant or intense as either of those products.  While I wouldn’t call it a massage, it definitely relaxed me and there was a nice tingly, pain relieving sensation for hours and hours after I put it on.  I really liked the menthol-esque smell.  I woke up and could still feel it working.  As I didn’t really have much pain before, I am not sure if this would be effective for someone with significant neck pain, but for my stress-related soreness, it did it’s job.

If you are looking for a massage with a sweet ending, I wanted to post the recipes for the Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Date Muffins and Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies I recently made, that you may have seen on Meghann’s blog.  I got a few requests, so I thought I would share.  I adapted both of these recipes from ones I found on the web.  I thought they both came out great, especially considering how healthy the ingredients are for the most part.  While I never worry about making cooking healthy, there is always a slight hesitation that baking was meant to be gooey and indulgent, but my worries were put to rest with the first bite.  I was also shocked that they held up through trips to Florida and Ohio—I sent some to my sister for her birthday!

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The WW Sweet Potato Date Muffins were very closely adapted from the recipe on The Wednesday Chef.  I had been wanting to make these forever, and was happy to find even with less butter and sugar, they were delicious. Next time I make them I may add more sweet potato and make sure to have all the suggested spices on hand, so I get an stronger flavor. 

Whole-Wheat Sweet Potato Muffins
Makes 12

1/2 pound sweet potatoes (also known as yams)-I used 1.5 huge ones, could have used 2.
Vegetable oil spray for coating the tins
2/3 stick butter+2 TBSP applesauce
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 TBSP Pure Maple Syrup
3/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup soymilk+1/2 TBSP lemon juice
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
9 Medjool dates, pitted and cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces-I should have added some raisins to make up for having less dates on hand, use the full 12.

I followed the directions on the Wednesday Chef website with minor changes to the ingredients, as you will see above, they also only took about 22 minutes to bake.  As I said these were very yummy, and I think will be out of this world with more sweet potato, spice and dates—and even less butter!

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

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While not the prettiest cookies on the block, these were pretty addicting. I kept the in the fridge, so they maintained their fudgy richness.

I had been wanting to try  Ellie Krieger’s Breakfast Cookie recipe, but it had a lot of ingredients I didn’t have on hand, so I did some googlin’. When I came across this bfast cookie recipe, it sounded so good, I couldn’t resist.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Cookies
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa
  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1-1/4 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 of a bar Newman’s Own Organics 70% Cocoa Super Dark Chocolate-chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup PB and Co. Crunch Time Peanut Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together the first nine ingredients (through the chocolate chips) in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, vanilla, applesauce and peanut butter together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well.

Roll dough into 16 to 20 balls, pressing down to flatten in the shape of a cookie. Place dough on cooking spray coated cookie sheets one inch apart. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes.

Makes 16 to 20 cookies. (I made about 22)

That Newman’s Own Organics Dark Chocolate is amazing btw, it rivals my long time love of Dagoba.

And just in case you don’t have time to bake, I recently tried Enjoy Life Soft Baked Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies and was shocked by how yummy and healthy they are!  I am a chewy cookie girl and these were large, soft and dense, just how I like ‘em.

 

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While I have to admit I didn’t recognize the first ingredient—sorghum flour—a wheat free grain, these cookies are 100% natural and you can certainly feel good about eating them! They contain some sources of sugar, but come on, they’re cookies! They are great for vegans and those with gluten, nut or soy allergies as they contain to wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, or soy.

ingredients:

Sorghum Flour; Grape, Apple and Pear Juice Concentrates; Brown Pure Cane Sugar; Date Paste; Chocolate Chips (Evaporated Cane Juice, Chocolate Liquor, Non-Dairy Cocoa Butter); Expeller Pressed-Vegetable Oil (Safflower Oil and/or Sunflower Oil); Water; Natural Rice Dextrin; Xanthan Gum; Baking Soda; Salt; Vanilla; Rosemary Extract

While the texture has a very subtle graininess, I thought they were delicious and very satisfying, you certainly can stop at the serving size of two. Two cookies contain, 130 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1 gram protein and 2 grams fiber

Enjoy your Saturday kids!

Running Question and Review!

Wow, this has been the best monday in a while!  I got a lot accomplished, a great package in the mail (more on those two things in another post), got quite a bit done on a paper, and had a great workout!

In honor of the upcoming fashion week and to fill the void of no new Gossip Girl, I am dedicating a GG song from the Serena Also Rises episode as workout song of the day: NYC Gone Gone

As I have mentioned, I use this for sprints or if I am doing an interval workout that calls for one minute of a given exercise. 

I got a good running question today from Ashley:

Quick question that many runners may have. Can you help me understand what the difference between my speeds should be. I just realized yesterday during my run that I run every run at the same speed which is crazy… Assuming that 9:45 or so is my current race pace, what should I set the treadmill to during tempo run days? 

This is a great question, first of all a lot of runners only have one speed, so don’t feel crazy.  A lot of my TNT friends, who have done multiple marathons and half iron mans, joke that when the coach says run at your 5k pace, they are like, dude I only have one pace.  Personally, I am extremely consistant with my pace. However, if you are looking to improve your speed, it helps to break out of your comfort pace.  Tempo paces are best described as comfortably hard.  Meaning you can say a few workds, maybe a sentence, but you aren’t really in the position to have a conversation.  Basically, you want to run at the fastest pace you can sustain consistantly for the given distance.  So if you are doing a 3 mile tempo run, you will be running faster than if you are doing a 5 mile tempo run.   For example if you are doing a 3 mile tempo run and 6.5 miles per hour is the fastest you speed you can maintain without slowing down for the entire workout but you feel very happy to stop when you hit 3 miles, your 5 miles tempo pace should be slower.

To be more specific the Runner’s World Book has a chart to explain tempo paces based on your 5K time–they have it for every 5 seconds, but I will just give a few examples:

5k time     short tempo  mid tempo    long tempo    easy

22:30          7:32MPH        7:47MPH       8:02           9:07

26:15           8:44                    8:59                9:14          10:19

30:00         9:56                  10:11                  10:26         11:31

So reviews:

Core Strength Vinyasa Power Hour with Sadie Nardini DVD

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I really liked it.  I much prefer taking yoga in a studio than in my house, and this was the most enjoyable home workout I have ever done.  My friend who took the class at Pure Yoga with me, also loved the class and  bought the dvd the day we went, but just couldn’t get into yoga at home.  Usually I agree, sometimes I can’t even make it through the 20 minute yogadownload workouts. 

This is a different style of yoga, that focuses on the core and building energy in the body.  I would encourage you to watch the video first because there are a lot of non-traditional yoga poses that you have to see to understand.  It’s hard to see when you are in down dog.

I think the reason I like Sadie is that she is very good at explaining poses.  During her class I was just following her directions, and before I knew it, I was in crow’s pose.  I had never gotten one toe off the ground in the pose before, but when I didn’t know it was coming, it was effortless.  This video is a good strength workout, there is not a ton of jumping around, but I did manage to workout a little bit of a sweat.  I think I will probably do this in halves in the future because when I do yoga at home, a half an hour is enough to kind of refocus and relax.

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Today I did the Oxygen “run it off” workout I saw on Gina’s blog.  It was good, I was glad Gina suggested it because I don’t read Oxygen.  It kind of scares me.  Not because I have a muscle woman fear, it’s just a bit hard core for my personality.  I am best described as type z.

Anyways, the workout FLEW by, it is only 25 minutes, but it felt like 15 tops.  I found the sprints easy, but the uphills very challenging.  Since I don’t have a heart rate monitor, I base the intensity on how grossly red and splotchy I look when I get off the treadmill. This was about a 6.5 out of ten–ten being drenched in sweat and a combination of beet red and yellow in complexion—aka total hottie.

After the run I did 30 minutes on the elliptical, about 10 minutes of abs and maybe 10 minutes of stretching.  I should mention that I definitely felt the lower body workout I did yesterday, the hammies were screaming this morning!

Elise! I am so excited you are doing the race, you’ll be fabulous!