Feta Asparagus Salad

by Melissa on April 16, 2014

When I think spring produce, I think asparagus.

My mom didn’t really make this much when I was a kid, but once we discovered how delicious it is steamed, it became a regular.  Steamed, roasted, sautéed, and grilled.  Doesn’t matter.  Just don’t give it to me canned.  PLEASE.

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The idea for this salad came when I purchased some Herbs de Provence feta at the farmers market on Sunday.  I had some asparagus in the fridge and needed to use it – quick.  Also, I love making a large pot of something to have throughout the week for lunches.  A pasta salad sound perfect for the warm weather we’ve been having.  I might gag if I see another thing of soup.

feta cheese

I will probably return every week to buy cheese from this farm.  It was salty and flavorful and a little went a long way in this salad.  I might recommend adding more to this recipe if you’re using regular feta.  

roasted asparagus

I cut the asparagus in 1/2 inch pieces and roasted.  Unfortunately, it was also 80 degrees that day and I refused to turn on the air.  While the asparagus roasted, so did I.  All in the name of delicious food. 

To keep it healthy, I used whole wheat orecchiette pasta (means “little ears”) for the base.  Any small pasta will do.  If you’re gluten-free try using wild rice.

The dressing was kept light and fresh consisting of lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and chives.

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FETA ASPARAGUS SALAD

  • 1 pound asparagus, cut in 1/2 pieces
  • 1/2 pound small pasta, whole wheat
  • 3 oz feta cheese

for the dressing

  • 3 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 TBSP fresh chives, chopped

Cook pasta according to the directions.  Drain and let cool.

Heat oven to 425*.  Drizzle asparagus pieces with olive oil and roast for 10 minutes.  Also let cool.

Toss pasta with asparagus, feta, and dressing.  Top with fresh ground pepper and a little fresh chives.  ENJOY!

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This would make a great picnic dish or even a dinner on a hot summer evening.  For now, this is a staple in my lunches this week.

What is your favorite spring vegetable?

Today’s quick quote of the day:

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Spring DC Adventures

by Melissa on April 14, 2014

So I might be falling in love with DC.  Shhhhh….

Winking smile

Spring is probably my favorite, followed in close second by Fall.  And the copious amounts of sunshine, warm weather, and beautiful scenery made this weekend completely awesome.

Saturday, I completed my first obstacle race in Virginia with a few folks from work.  Yeah, I work with some awesome people!

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It was the Fitathlon challenge which has multiple races across the country.  What drew me to it was the fact there wasn’t any electrocution, fire, or mud.  Well a little bit of mud.  The 5K route had 17 obstacles including tire flips, a wheelbarrow push, wall climbs, a rucksack run, monkey bars, and balance beams.  I was a little nervous for a few of the obstacles because heights really freak me out.  But I went in with the mindset to at least try each obstacle.  I gave each a go and walked past the rest if I just wasn’t feeling it.  Mostly I walked past the wall climbs – I ended up freezing when I got to the top of the first.  I’m pretty sure the guy manning that obstacle got a little nervous seeing me just sit there staring at the ground.  Poor guy.

My favorite obstacle?  The tire flip!  It was so stress relieving!  Maybe I’ll join Crossfit just so I can do that more often.  Yeah….

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It was nearly 80 degrees by the time we finished and some of us were feeling a bit crispy (and hungry).  We stopped for some food at Jason’s Deli and found out there were free soft serve cones with every meal.  SCORE!  Nothing like a swirl cone to give you a little nostalgia.

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It’s Cherry Blossom season here in DC and because it’s my first year living here, I HAD TO SEE THEM!!!  Yep, typical tourist actions.  But I knew that in order to beat the crowds, I’d have to go early.  So I enlisted Nikki and we set out for an early morning run along the tidal basin and monuments. 

At first, we didn’t see any and I got nervous that I screwed up in mapping out our route.  Well good thing Nikki is always up for an adventure because we had to do a little re-routing to see these beauties.

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The blossoms were a lot bigger than I imagined and even at 7:30am there were still quite a few people out to take some pictures.

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I think my face was as pink as the trees…it was warm this morning!

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We continued our run along the Mount Vernon Trail and through Georgetown.

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Iced coffee from Starbucks was well earned Smile

Nikki had to coach a lacrosse game and I had promised Maria I would meet up with her at the Dupont farmers market, so we hurried home.

An hour later I was back in the district ready to do some serious food shopping.

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Its still pretty early in the season. so the selection was mostly lettuce and root veggies.  Surprisingly, I ended up really enjoying the dairy farmers selections and purchased cheese and yogurt.  I have a delicious recipe coming on Wednesday with the feta I purchased!  Be on the look out!

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I also didn’t eat much more than a scoop of peanut butter before rushing out of the house, so I stopped at a brick oven pizza vendor at the market for a fresh foccacia egg sandwich.  UM DELICIOUS!!!!  I definitely recommend stopping by Dupont’s farmer’s market if only to have one of these sandwiches or other delicious pizzas they make fresh for you on the spot.

It was such a beautiful weekend.  I hope you’ve enjoyed some spring like conditions where you are!

What were your spring weekend plans? 

Have you ever run an obstacle race?

A quick quote of the day:

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Spring Fitness Favorites

by Melissa on March 31, 2014

At the turn of every season, I’m always looking at fashion.  Not the typical fashion you may think.  Others may be dreaming of days with sandals, maxi dresses, and light weight trench coats.  While I love all of that, I’m usually daydreaming of running shorts, sports sunglasses, and cute yoga tanks.  Warm weather, please stay!

spring fit favs

And with every turn of the season, the industry does a wonderful job of offering us fun new finds in beautiful colors.  And like Icarus and the sun, I always step too close.  Only, I never really feel like I get burned – my wallet…yes – but these are items I use daily!

Here are my top favorites.  Both things that I have and things that I love.

Spring Favorites

 

1.  Lucy’s Crossback Tank

 

I recently found this at a steep discount.  It was in a beautiful shade of pink, however I absolutely love the purple as well.  It has a built in bra and a zipper pocket at the low back.  Already I love it for running but think it will make a perfect yoga tank as well.

2.  Feetures Elite Sock

 

As part of the ambassador program for Zooma Annapolis (join me!!) I’ve been testing out a few items from the sponsors.  Feetures is one of them and I’m not sure how I’ve worn any other sock for running.  I can only describe it as though you’re feet are getting a hug.  Plus, no rubbing and your feet stay dry.

3. Ultimate Direction Handy 10

 

This company was created by Jenny Jurek specifically for women.  This isn’t too big and fits perfectly in my hand during a run.  Again, through the Zooma Ambassador program I was sent this to try out since UD is also a sponsor.  I love trying out new running gear and this is one piece that will always be part of my training plan!

For 20% off use code ZoomaUD20  —– Who doesn’t love coupons???

4. UA Perfect Bag

 

This bag looks like it could go from boardroom to locker room in a flash!  Heck, I’d probably use it 24/7!  It has a tablet sleeve and a cross body strap.  Oh Under Armour you’ve done it again!

5.  Polar V800

 

This isn’t even available yet and I’m drooling.  Definitely a tech junkie and this fits the bill.  Heart rate – check,  GPS – check, waterproof – check.  I used to wear a polar heart rate monitor religiously when I taught fitness classes and now Heather is raving about the effects of using HR data for race training…hmmm might have to try!

 

What’s your favorite fit item lately?  Is there anything on your wish list right now?  Other than the Polar V800, I’d have to say a Vitamix is on my wish list & a Kitchen Aide.  Ok, yeah so those aren’t fitness related, but abs are made in the kitchen right? Smile

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Favorite Things: Meditation Edition

by Melissa on March 26, 2014

Starting on this 40 day meditation challenge was really like starting any healthy habit.

I had to decide when to start.

How long I wanted to do it for.

Find a place to meditate.

Then begin.

It was awkward in the beginning.  Even though we practiced meditation during my yoga teacher training and I’ve done random meditations in the following months, this was a bit strange.  At first I just sat there.  Anxiety built.  Blah – stupid monkey mind.

monkey mind

Ok.  So that wasn’t going to work. 

I tried a few online meditation albums of quiet rivers and the ocean in a rainstorm.  Instead of drifting off into the sounds I critiqued the track for how realistic is sounded.  On a scale of 1 – 10 this one is about 7, those really aren’t birds…

uggghhh

Ok, yes I have an over analytic, very active mind.

Time to try something else.

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Perfect.  Guided meditations are a focal point for me which is obviously exactly what I needed.  I’ve been following Heather Waxman on social media for awhile.  It wasn’t for about a week or two into my meditation challenge that I thought of her album.

I had received an iTunes giftcard and since I no longer own any Apple products, this was a perfect selection. 

Her Morning and Manifesting meditations are beautiful and uplifting.  Such a gift to start my day with these. 

And yes, I’ve decided mornings are the best time for me.  I’ve always been a morning exerciser, so this really should come at no surprise. 

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Since mornings are my ideal time, my (made) bed is currently my meditation spot.  I know most meditation experts may not agree with this – too easy to fall asleep – but with a warm cup of coffee in my hands and the comfort of the pillows, I can relax and let go for a few minutes here.  My living room reminds me of all the things I should be doing.  My desk is there, my to do list, my work bag, etc.  My bedroom is a bit of sanctuary.  I really don’t let work or computers into the room.

As a part of my meditation challenge, I’ve been binging on anything dealing with spirituality.  I MEAN BINGING!

I think I watched about 20 clips from Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday on Youtube, watched Gabrielle Bernstein clips, listened to Marie Forleo, and also bought one of Gabrielle’s books.

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I don’t have a complete review yet (coming!).  But I’m enjoying the preparation work for the start of her journey.  She also recommends 40 days.  So thank you Lent for being a perfect spiritual length Smile (who would’ve thought).

I’m not really sure where this meditation challenge is taking me yet, but I like it. 

I guess that’s the point – having faith in the journey.

 

Do you have a meditation practice?  If so, do you have a special place set up for it?

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40 Days of Meditation

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I don’t talk much about religion or faith on this blog.  It’s a healthy living blog.  But really healthy living is also about mental and spiritual health.  While I have no intentions on making this a faith based blog, I am being completely and utterly myself in this post and also honest   Every year […]

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Food From Around the Web

March 10, 2014

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SCW Philly Mania 2014

February 24, 2014

This past weekend I spent three days working out, sweating, and smiling from ear to ear!  That’s right, the harder the workout, the more I smiled! I’ve been teaching group fitness since 2008, and have done quite a few certifications, trainings, and moving from gym to gym (thanks to my crazy schooling).  But, honestly, having […]

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Pasta that will Melt Your Heart

February 17, 2014

I made one of the most delicious meals of my life last night.  Well, if I’m not counting all the meals I had while in Italy, then this would rank in the top 5 – real Italian food will always beat other food.  Fact of life. I stopped at The Fresh Market while I was […]

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A Sweet Treat for any Valentine

February 14, 2014

I will admit.  It’s only early morning on Valentines Day and I’m kind of sick of the holiday.  Maybe it’s because I’m single and want to vomit over the mush and gush (or maybe that’s just the leftovers of the stomach flu).  But I got into the spirit last night after 12+ inches of snow […]

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February Goals 2014

February 12, 2014

I’m not sure about you, but in the DC area, the flu has taken over.  I spent the better half of last week fighting off fatigue, body aches, and chills, and then this weekend succumbed to the full on stomach flu. But, I’m ready to be back to blogging and then I hope in the […]

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