Monthly Archives: May 2013

Delicious Italian Appetizers

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Halfway through our trip, we found ourselves on the hunt for some fiber. We were on our way back to Rome to pick up my brother from the airport when my dad decided to pull off the highway into this random town we couldn’t find in the tourist handbooks. We discovered this very local (no english) restaurant that looked a bit questionable off the side of a major road. We had no idea what to expect.

Turns out this place is where all the locals eat, because we were definitely surrounded by lots of Italian businessmen and families. We felt vegetable-deprived, and we were so happy we found some appetizers with some fresh vegetables!

Pictured above:

  • Caprese Salad: I’ve never seen the milk ooze out of fresh mozzarella the way this cheese did. The tomatoes were so fresh and there was also a smoked mozzarella that was to die for.
  • Grilled Zucchini: I liked this one best. It was so simple, just grilled zucchini with olive oil and caramelized balsamic.
  • Eggplant Ragu: Eggplant sautéed in olive oil with tomatoes and onions.
  • Squid and Arugula Salad: This was super light and fresh. The contrast of the sweet crunchy squid and sharp distinctive arugula flavor was super nomz.

With bites of these as my meal for lunch, I didn’t feel guilty stealing a few big bites of my mom’s fettuccine alfredo (which I forgot to take a picture of, but was by the way, hands down, the best, most unhealthy delicious pasta I’ve ever had in my life).

Veggies First, Gelato Second

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I love the way a simple plate of grilled vegetables can be so gratifying. Because Italy’s climate is so similar to that of Monterey, CA (where I grew up) – the vegetables and produce are quite similar as well. I was sort of excited to order a plate of “grilled mixed vegetables” for lunch because I knew I would like the selection. This plate had grilled zucchini, carrots, eggplant, spinach, cauliflower and tomato. Pictured above is also a giant plate of gnocchi that my family ordered. I took a few bites and it was real good! Though I don’t recommend eating this gnocchi every day, too salty and too cheesy.

After another hour of walking and exploring the small town of Positano, I decided to get my first cone of gelato. I plan to purchase gelato only once while on the trip, so I went all out by ordering the Nutella and white chocolate flavor on a cone. I was proud of myself because I only ate half of it, yet still felt 100% satisfied. It was good, real good…

Yoga, Triceps, Leg Dips, Oh My!

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My sister and I took every opportunity we could to soak in the Amalfi Coast’s beautiful scenery and picturesque elements of nature. On our first morning, we hiked up and down the cliff (the hotel literally sit on the cliff) and that was a real life outdoor stairmaster. Felt good to get my heart rate going. On our second morning, we found a tiny remote beach and did a whole bunch of body weight exercises. This included lunges up the hill, tricep dips, push ups, leg dips, mountain climbers and ab circuits.

However, my favorite favorite favorite part was the fast-paced vinyasa yoga. We found a platform that sits on the ocean front (see top photo – the cement platform right above the water) and OMG it was so beautiful and incredible. The view was unreal, the sun was shining, and there was just a hint of ocean mist cooling us down. I literally felt like I should have been in one of those instructional yoga videos. Oh yeah, and all the local Italian men were definitely wondering what the heck we were doing – it was awesome.

Seafood on the Amalfi Coast

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The Amalfi Coast is a stretch of coastline on the southern coast of the Sorrentine Peninsula in the Province of Salerno in Southern Italy. Much like Big Sur, the Amalfi Coast Highway is a breathtaking road along dramatic ocean cliffs and buffs. This part of Italy is known for its fresh seafood. Looking for a lighter, less carby dish – I opted for the fresh seafood salad, which is boiled squid, mussels and shrimp topped with a dash of olive oil and lemon juice. It was so fresh and tasty and the best part was that I didn’t feel super heavy after I was done. Turns out you can have a totally delicious low-carb meal in Italia!

Authentic Naples Pizza

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Italy has most definitely treated me well. The pizza is…as good, if not better, than I know you’re imagining it to be. It is tough, real tough, to resist eating the whole thing – but totally worth every bite let me tell you. They say that true authentic pizza originated in Naples so our family made the trek to the city to try it for ourselves. Our parking spot was a little sketchy so we decided to order a few pizzas to go and eat them in the sun by our car. It was quick, fast and delicious. And, I got to watch the cook make the whole thing in less than 10 minutes!

Embracing My Inner German Side

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Mmmm spaetzle… My sister and I had a few hours to kill at the Frankfurt airport before finally reaching Rome, so we decided to go for an authentic German meal. I had just eaten a salad but really wanted to get something with some spaetzle because I remember loving it the last time I tried it. Spaetzle is basically small pieces of dough dropped in boiling water and then (often) sautéed with oil and herbs. We shared the grilled chicken breast, spaetzle and cabbage dish. I only had a few bites, but it was just enough to get my fix. My blonde hair, blue-eyed Dad would have been proud to see us embracing our inner German heritage. ‘Twas delish!

Healthy Eating While Traveling

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I’m leaving for Italy today! Woo! While I’m totally stoked to fully indulge in all the delicious Italian food, I’m still trying to be as healthy as possible up until I take my first step on Italian soil.

So, what did I pack for the 15 hour plane ride to snack on?

  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Kind Bars
  • Shrimp Chips
  • Lots of Water

Then, before boarding the plane, I bought myself two healthy salads. Yep, two of ’em. You see I’d much rather eat two super healthy meals than one of those $20 snack pax that’s often filled with unhealthy snacks.

I plan I blog about the food while abroad, but as a forewarning- my food selections might not be quite as healthy. I want to fully experience the Italian cuisine, and my goal is to practice eating in moderation. Wish me luck!

Guest Recipe: Stephen’s Green Smoothie

Easy Green Smoothie

Okay, so don’t judge me – I already drank half of this bad boy before finally taking a picture! Goes to show how delicious Stephen’s smoothie was, right?! Easy, simple and full of vitamins. If you’re just finishing up a workout- you can easily add protein powder to the mix as well. Blend the following ingredients together and you’re good to go!

Estimated Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • Banana – 1 small
  • Chopped Apple – 1 small
  • Spinach – 1 cup, lightly packed
  • Kale – 1/2 cup, lightly packed
  • Water – 1/4 cup

 

Easy Ratatouille

Ratatouille Stew

This is one of my favorites! It’s a super easy veggie dish, and it is both delicious and good for you. I had a pretty stressful day, so I went for a 4 mile run after work and was starving by the time I got home. Upon return, it took me 10 minutes to chop all the veggies and get the stew going. Then I took my shower while the veggies stewed, and the dish was done by the time I was showered, dressed and ready to go. Heaven!  I must say, a glass of tempranillo pairs nicely with this one.

Cooking Time: 30 minutes (10 minute prepping, 20 minute stewing)

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • Zucchini – 1 medium
  • Onion – 1 medium
  • Eggplant – 1 large
  • Bell Pepper – 1 medium
  • Canned Stewed Tomatoes – 2 cans (30 oz)
  • Corn – 1 cup
  • Garlic – 4 cloves
  • Oregano – 1 tsp
  • Italian Seasoning – 1 tsp
  • Chili Powder – 1 tsp
  • Cumin – 1/2 tsp
  • Cooking Spray – 1 spray

Chop all veggies into small pieces. With cooking spray, cook garlic and onions in a large pot for about 5 minutes; then add in the bell peppers. Cook on medium/high for another 3 minutes. Add in the zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, corn and seasonings. Cover and reduce to low [jump in the shower] for about 20 minutes or until all veggies have soaked in the red sauce. Yields about 1.25 cups per serving. Serve alone, with cheese or with pasta.

Weight Watchers Points Plus: 3 points per serving

Mother’s Day Hike: Big Basin

 Big Basin Hike - Mother's Day

Big Basin Hike - Mother's Day

For Mother’s Day this year, our family decided to celebrate our health! We chose to go on an all-day hiking adventure around Big Basin, California’s oldest State Park. Nestled in the redwood forests just outside of Santa Cruz, Big Basin has over 80 miles of trails and a good number of waterfalls.

Throughout the day, we did all sorts of extra exercise activities to increase our heart rates. We mixed in fun games like leap frog, cardio arm boxing routines, yoga pics and fast-paced walks up the elevations. Our mama, Shirl, asked for exercise- so we gave it to her!

I would definitely recommend Big Basin for a weekend camping trip because the place is huge. There are plenty of camp sites in really pretty settings, and lots of hiking trails to choose from. Aside from the windy road getting in, this is a new favorite!