A Green Smoothie to Get This Friday Going.

Is it just me, or does the Friday before a long weekend always seem longer than other Fridays? I haven’t even finished getting ready for work yet and the day is already dragging. Maybe my coffee will help speed things up?

Or, maybe I’m just excited because Devin has a surprise date planned for us tonight. It’s Devour Downtown time here in Indy, which means a lot of the well-known restaurants have special deals. It’s the perfect time to try a restaurant that we wouldn’t otherwise throw money at, outside of a special occasion. My lovely husband knows that I love Devour Downtown (and food in general), so he made a reservation for us – but he won’t tell me where. Which is so sweet and wonderful but I have NO idea what to wear. Struggles.

Long weekend and dinner plans aside, it was very hard for me to get out of bed this morning. I needed something to start the day off on a good, healthy note. So, in addition to my usual eggs and coffee, I made my favorite green smoothie.

Smoothies are a great way to get an extra serving of veggies in, without having to work very hard – and I’m all about that. Continue reading

Snack: Almond Butter Banana Bites

Snacks are essential for me, and for pretty much anyone around me because hanger is a real thing. Not only do I feel grumpy when I let my hunger go to far, but I find it much more difficult to focus too.

Snacking on healthy foods throughout the day is also a good way to keep the metabolism up and steady. This means more calories burned. The key here is choosing the right snack. It’s way too easy to grab a snack that actually contains the calories of a meal. It’s even easier to grab a snack that nearly reaches an entire day’s sugar recommendation. I’m looking at you, cereal bars.

When I look for a healthy snack, I usually try to grab something with 100-150 calories. Then, I look for a decent amount of protein and fiber. Try to aim for 8 grams of protein, and at least 2 grams of fiber. Protein and fiber satisfy your stomach and keep you full. Plus, fiber is great for your digestive system and the majority of people aren’t getting enough!

Today, I found myself (as usual) wandering in the kitchen for a snack. I wanted something sweet, so I decided to make one of my favorites:

Almond Butter Banana Bites.

Mmmm

Things I love about this snack:
1. It is sweet and delicious.

2. It takes less than one minute to prepare – perfect if you’re impatient like I am.

3. It provides healthy vitamins and minerals, fiber and some protein.

I should warn your that your dog may try to steal this snack when you eat it on the couch. Mine did. Then he stared at me like this:

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Just one bite, mom. Please?

It’s that good.

All you need is a banana (easy) and your choice of nut butter (easy). I chose to use my favorite, Justin’s vanilla almond butter. The vanilla is subtle and super yummy, and the almond butter is just grainy enough to provide good texture. I have found it in most of the grocery stores around Indianapolis, and it comes in these cute little packets if you don’t want to spend $12 on a jar want to try a small amount before you buy the jar.

Just cut the banana into slices, and top each slice with a little almond butter goodness.

Each packet contains 180 calories, so I use half of the packet on half of a large banana. Honestly, sometimes I just eat one of these packets as a snack if I’m in a pinch.

Combined with the 1/2  banana, this snack gives you around 150-180 calories, 3 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. Yum!

Motivation: Move It!

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You heard me. Move it! …Okay wait until you’re done reading this post and THEN move it.

“Working out” doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to spend an hour at the gym if you don’t want to. Just get moving, and avoid vegging out on the couch with a pint of Talenti Caramel Cookie Crunch to recover from your long, exhausting Monday What? No, of course I’ve never done this. Anyways, one thing I have learned is that even on the most grueling day at work, if I keep myself moving I don’t really feel like such a slug.  BUT – as soon as I hit that couch… game over. Big time slug.

So, avoid the slug life by finding an activity that gets you moving and gets you sweating even on those days when a structured workout sounds like too much. In other words, they key is tricking your wannabe lazy slug mind into working out. Needs some ideas? I’ve got you, friends!

1. The productive workout

When you really scrub your shower or vacuum the entire downstairs, have you ever noticed that by the time you’re done you’re almost always sweating (or at least about to be)? I’ve learned the hard way to never take a shower before cleaning. Cleaning can be some physical work! Hey moms out there: how many times do you have to bend over every time you pick up the toy room (or your living room that has now become a toy room)? Get the idea? Turn those dreaded chores into your workout. The longer you work around the house, the longer you’re staying active and avoiding the couch! I think my all-time favorite around-the-house productive “workout” is yard work. Did you know that spending an hour working in the yard (think planting flowers, laying new mulch, trimming trees, mowing grass -PUSH mowing that is) burns anywhere from 150-300 calories? Vacuuming for 20 minutes burns only 63 calories, but combine this with 30 minutes of other general house work and you’ve burned 130 calories without even knowing you’re working out. Bonus points if you move furniture to clean around it!

2. The playful workout

Have kids or pets? Play with them! Chase your kids around the house (or outside to avoid any destruction or boo boos). Walk them to the park and let them play. Take your dog on a walk (he/she will love you for it!), or to the dog park and run with them. Chances are you’ve had to spend your entire day acting like an adult, so spending a little time playing and letting out that inner child will not only release some stress, but will also keep you moving.

3. Youtube is your friend.

When all else fails, dance. There are thousands (literally) of videos on Youtube of Zumba classes that you can play and dance along to. Plus, if you’re intimidated by actual Zumba classes, this is a great way to learn the basics in the comfort of your own home. Try a few songs, and before you know it, an hour (and over 200 calories) has passed. Try this video of “Boom Boom Boom,” by the Black Eyed Peas, and check out this channel to get started.

Hopefully these ideas will help on those days (usually Mondays for me) when a non-workout kind of workout is needed (does that even make sense?). The options really are endless! If you want a little more structure, or if you don’t have a a gym membership, Popsugar always has great workout videos too, for all levels of fitness.

Now get up and get moving! What is your favorite go-to activity for the days when working out doesn’t come easily?

❤ Bre

Anniversary Adventure Part I, Continued

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Sorrento from our window

For Part I of our trip, click here.

Day 4 – Pompeii and our Anniversary Dinner

After our long, adventure-filled day in Positano, I wasn’t sure I would be able to move for like a week. But then I remembered that I was in Italy and I can sleep when I’m dead. We did take it easy on day 4. We spent the morning stuffing our faces at the breakfast buffet (I had two full plates and 3 cappuccinos – seriously), and then we spent some time exploring Sorrento.

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Here I am, “taking it all in.”

We did some shopping, scoped out the ferries to Capri for the following day, and eventually waited for our ride over to Pompeii. Our driver (again, so fancy) was like a tour guide. He told us about how fertile the soil is in this area, which is why everything is locally grown and can grow year-round. As a nutrition/food lover, I thought this was incredible and immediately wondered if I could move there.  But, my thoughts were interrupted by a crazy moped driver weaving in and out of traffic. The driving is crazy in this area of Italy, and not once did I see a cop patrolling it. On the other hand, I never saw an accident either. Interesting.

Pompeii was a really cool place to visit. The small town was buried in ash when Mt. Vesuvius erupted back in AD 79. Think about how long ago that was. They are still excavating! Its amazing. Although many people had time to escape, thousands died when Mt. Vesuvius erupted. Years later, many of the bodies were found frozen exactly where they died. Many buildings still stood as well. Its like the city was preserved by the ash.  I thought a couple of hours would be plenty of time to see the whole thing, I really wish we would have had more time. Had money not been a factor, a private tour guide would have been wonderful as well – and we wouldn’t have looked so nerdy with our audio guides ;).

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The original road of Pompeii, with buildings on the left and right.

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How to look like a tourist.

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One of the bodies found “mummified” under the sand. Pretty cool.

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This was actually taken in Sorrento, but it’s cool to see Mt. Vesuvius looming. It is still active, and is considered one of the most dangerous active volcanoes.

After visiting Pompeii, we had reservations at a restaurant called Doña Sofia. The restaurant is difficult to find, so they send someone to pick you up at your hotel. That may have been the craziest ride of my life, and Devin and I thought for a second that we were maybe being kidnapped. But, we eventually arrived at Doña Sofia and were seated out on the vine-covered patio. I did notice that most of the majority of the restaurant patrons were American, which is a something we like to avoid normally (we do our best to find popular place among the locals). We didn’t mind for this meal, because it was so, so delish.

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I’m a little ashamed to admit this was my first gnocchi experience.

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Excuse the horrible pictures, it was dark. This is a crusted fish – very tasty.

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Limoncello. I was so full and this house-made limoncello was so strong that I could hardly stomach it. Props to the hubby for talking me through it.

Not pictured: Tiramisu. I got a little carried away and dug in before I took a picture.

We tried to do the traditional Italian meal with all of the courses, and I wanted to fall over by the end. I would have been just fine with gnocchi…and the dessert. But bruschetta, gnocchi, fish, stuffed zucchini flower, wine, tiramisu and limoncello? That spells food coma.

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Have you noticed that my hair is up in every picture? That’s because my straightener wouldn’t work with the power adapter and/or I was always hot because we walked everywhere. Glamorous.

Day 5 – Capri

Our day in Capri began in a hectic way and ended in a hectic way. When we arrived on the island, all we could see were crowds. We wandered. We wasted time. We were grumpy (eek). After getting our bearings, we decided to take a boat tour around the island, with a stop at the Blue Grotto.

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The ferry ride is NOT glamorous. But it IS cheap.

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I love lighthouses.

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We went through the Faraglioni!

Okay. Regrets are a no no for me when I travel BUT if I were to go to Capri again, I would do something different (that might be the definition of regret – oh well). There were banana boats for rent for a very decent price that you take out yourself for two or four hours. They even came with coolers for snacks/drinks. I was leery of these tiny boats because 1. The guys renting them out seemed shady, 2. It is a very tiny boat in a very large ocean and 3. I was feeling like a wimp I guess. When we were out on our large boat full of people on a tour, we saw SO MANY PEOPLE on the tiny banana boats. Oh, it gets worse. These non-wimp people were able to stop and swim wherever they wanted – including the grottoes (minus the blue grotto). We were not allowed to swim on our tour. I feel like we missed out on such a cool experience. So, next time. Next time the banana boat is MINE.

Next time we will also see the Blue Grotto, because did not end up seeing it on the tour. The wait was so long that our boat would not hang around and wait for us to go in. Another bummer. Another reason to return and probably again get the banana boat.

After our boat tour, we jumped on a very crowded bus and headed to Anacapri for the shopping and the chairlift. There was a short wait, but it was worth it.

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This chairlift is a single-seater with one little bar to save your life 😉

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Looking over Capri

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There is a gift shop and restaurant at the top, with great spots for pictures.

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See the Faraglioni in the background?

Again, we found ourselves waiting for the last buses of the evening to get back down to Capri – only this time, everyone was waiting for the same buses. Europeans are notorious for cutting in line, and we saw this first hand in line for the bus. It was mind-blowing (and frustrating) to see them sneak their way to the front.

I have to say, I expected to love Capri more than I did. My dad had visited back when he was in the Navy, so I was excited to see the island he always told me stories about. Don’t get me wrong – Capri is gorgeous, but it was also crowded and touristy. Maybe we needed more time to explore (we were only there for the day). Maybe we should have done as others suggested and spent the night on the island – there are many “day travelers,” so a lot of travel bloggers claim the island is best seen at night when the day travelers leave. I totally believe it. Either way, I wouldn’t say I disliked Capri in any way and I would love to go back and see more of the island.

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Capri in the evening- the crowds had already died down quite a bit. I loved the little boats and the colorful buildings.

That brings us to the end of our time in Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. We were so sad to leave, but excited to get to Rome!

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Anniversary Adventure Part 1 – Amalfi Coast

Devin and I got married right in the beginning of my dietetic internship.  So, we decided to go on more of a mini-moon at the time, and save our wedding money for a big trip for our anniversary. The wait was definitely worth it. Neither of us had ever been out of the country, so we decided it was time to see the world. Our two-week trip included Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast and Rome in Italy, as well as an unforgettable week in Santorini, Greece.

Here’s a summary of the first leg of our trip: Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.

Amalfi Coast Road

The Amalfi Coast Highway

Day 2 – Naples and Sorrento

You may have noticed that I skipped a day. That’s because day 1 was spent entirely on an airplane! Nothing interesting there, unless you want to hear about how much sleep I didn’t get and what movies I watched. I say we just move on to the good stuff.

As soon as we landed in Naples, our driver (fancy, right?) took us to the most beautiful winery in the foothills of Mt. Vesuvius for lunch and wine tasting. We were jet-lagged and had that “I don’t know what to do with my hands” feeling at first, but it was the perfect welcome to Italy. We had fresh bruschetta, bread, salami and Parmesan cheese as appetizers, followed by a huge plate of spaghetti. We both thought the plate of appetizers was the meal, so we were already full, but there’s no turning down food in Italy. Oh, and then there was cake. It was all so, so wonderful.

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Appetizers at the winery. I can still taste that bruschetta.

After eating, drinking, and taking a short tour we made our way down the coast to our hotel in Sorrento. It was a beautiful drive, although I had to enjoy it on my own because poor Devin passed out almost as soon as we left. Hello, jet lag! We took another much-needed nap once we got settled into Hotel Conca Park. The rest of the night included mostly wandering and gelato, because…priorities 🙂

Day 3 – Positano, The Path of Gods, and Amalfi

Devin and I agreed that this day was probably our favorite day. Don’t get me wrong, every day was amazing in its own way, but for a reason that I can’t really explain, this day was perfect.  Maybe it was because the bus ride from Sorrento to Positano on the Amalfi Coast Highway was breath taking and terrifying at the same time. Or, maybe it was because Positano is a town built straight from a dream.

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Positano

 

 

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Yes, this place really exists.

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Surely it wasn’t because we hiked up 1700 stairs (no, I’m not exaggerating) to the most charming little town of Nocelle, and the beginning of the Path of Gods trail.

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Shaky legs aside, I would recommend taking the stairs to anyone able. There are plenty of places to take a break and take in the view (the first picture of Positano was taken on one of our many breaks). Once you get to Nocelle, 1. Channel your inner Rocky and 2. Take on the Path of Gods. We only planned on walking a small part of the trail because uh duh, we just walked up 1700 stairs. Our plans changed because once we started we couldn’t stop.

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I think I’m starting to remember why this was our favorite day 😉

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There are a few different ways to go about this hike. We hiked from Nocelle to Bomerano, and then took the bus down to Amalfi. Obviously, it was well worth a few hours of hiking (it was around 4 miles from Nocelle to Bomerano). We grabbed pizza in Amalfi, looked quickly at the famous Duomo, and rushed back to the bus to go back to Positano so I could shop for the region’s famous handmade sandals before catching the last bus of the night to Sorrento. I will admit that was a handful of stress just for some sandals, but it all worked out and we did not get stranded. Plus, we were making memories, people!

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Duomo in Amalfi

I feel like I should admit that I almost (ALMOST) shed some tears on this perfect day, but I had good reason. First let me tell you that Positano is buit into a cliff. You climb stairs to get everywhere. I’m telling you, the people who live here have calves of steel. So, after climbing 1700 stairs, hiking 4 miles, waiting an hour for a bus we weren’t sure was coming, and rushing around Positano for shoes, I reached my breaking point when I remembered that the bus stop was at the top of Positano. More. Stairs. Did I mention that we had to run to avoid missing that bus? See. Good reason. But remember, I said I ALMOST cried. Because this day was perfect.