Category Archives: Dining Out

Gone Fishin’ + My First Blue Apron Meal

Good morning, coffee lovers! In case you missed it, yesterday was National Coffee Day. This is a serious holiday on my calendar which required careful calculation and strategy for hitting up the main coffee shops without over-caffeinating myself ;)

Dutch Bros. is a main coffee drive-thru in the PNW and as part of their National Coffee Day celebration, profit from every drink went to our local Boys and Girls Club charity. PLUS customers were given a full “punch card’ which can be redeemed for a free drink on your next visit. Another coffee hut was offering 4 drinks for $10, and my office even created their own coffee bar in the break room. There were flavored foam pumps (I did not even know that existed!), whip cream, fancy creamers, sprinkles, and coffee-flavored chocolates. My heart was very very happy yesterday.

The coffee love just KEPT ON COMING this morning because a brand new coffee shop literally right down the street from me had its Grand Opening today. They advertised free coffee all day, so of course I pulled in on my way to work. I expected the free drink to be black coffee. Nope! ANY drink, fancy as you want, all for free. They have Oreo Chillers and Rockstar Freezes and Pumpkin Spice Lattes and something called a “Caramel Blondie.” Creature of habit, I went with an iced nonfat vanilla americano but I just might go back after work for something a little more festive. Depends on if I feel like going for a run first or not ;)

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Anyways, what I’m REALLY here for is to share the last bit of fun from my weekend that included a fishing trip and my very first Blue Apron meal. Last summer, my family vacationed in Mammoth Lakes, California and went fishing very early in the morning. I caught nothing. This trip, I caught so many fish that I had to take a break to let my dad fish without having to continually re-set my line! :)

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We mostly caught trout, and threw them right back in the river (after snapping a picture first, duh. It’s 2016.) It was so peaceful to stand in the river, look out into the forest and just appreciate the autumn day.

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That night, we got home feeling drained and lazy. Then I remembered that my first Blue Apron box had arrived on Friday and I had 3 different meals to choose from! I love that they come in refrigerated boxes with all of the ingredients pre-portioned. The recipe cards are so detailed and I really appreciate the photos of each step. I picked the “Summer Pepper Shakshuka” with eggs and za’atar. This was the first time I’ve ever cooked a Middle Eastern dish myself, and I think it turned out pretty dang close to the picture!

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There was something relaxing about dicing up all of the fresh vegetables. I threw them into a large pan and added the seasonings that came with my delivery. The best part? PITA BREAD. You know how much I love my carbs. The actual pita was already cooked, but it came in a circle like pizza crust. I got to slice it into triangles, toast in the oven and add the za’atar seasoning. They came out flavorful and toasty, just like they should!

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Fresh pea shoots brought some color into this dish! The protein came from farm-fresh eggs that were added to the pan at the last few minutes. It seemed like a savory breakfast-for-dinner meal, but breakfast is my favorite so I was completely onboard for that!

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My favorite part of cooking Blue Apron meals is how aesthetic they are plated! I know I’m not the only one who’s always proud when I serve a dish that looks restaurant-worthy. Especially with the Instagram food porn that makes a bowl of oatmeal look like pure art. Taking an extra minute for the presentation is one of those simple little things that is so satisfying, and I think every Blue Apron meal includes a very beautiful presentation.

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A little feta sprinkled on top and voila! I think the whole meal took between 30-40 minutes to create. It was bursting with flavors that were somewhat foreign to me. I’d never cooked with za’atar, shallots, or pea shoots before. Cost-wise, Blue Apron meals are considerably less expensive than eating at a restaurant. The meals are less than $10 each, but seasonal specials and discounts are always popping up in my inbox. Plus everything is delivered to your door and pre-measured. I’m at that weird transitional phase between an on-campus college student with a meal plan and dozens of campus dining options to living completely on my own and “fending for myself.” Since health and nutrition are so important to me, I hardly want to get into that bad habit of resorting to microwave meals for dinner every night.

I learned about Blue Apron through fellow bloggers PBFingers.com and HungryRunnerGirl.com & I think it is the perfect transition for me to start learning to cook whole nutritious meals!

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There are two more new-to-me meals from my last delivery to create this weekend and I can’t wait to try the Summer Udon Salad! (I opted for the vegetarian meal plan.) After a whole week of 5:00am workouts, I want nothing more than a lazy Friday night at home with yoga pants, Grey’s Anatomy, decaf coffee, and some time in the kitchen with a new healthy recipe. Plus all those Udon noodles will serve as my carbo-loading for tomorrow’s long run! Shelby, my running teammate, and I are going to try to get in 13 miles before the weather turns dreary tomorrow morning.

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Happy Free-Coffee-Friday!

XO Kenz.

 

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My First Guest Interview: Kelly’s 25 lb. Weight-loss Journey

When you live for the weekends, a Monday holiday is like finding an extra $20 in your pocket. Even more so when they involve visits from college buddies, new juice bars, 15-mile runs, and frozen yogurt.

But I’m not here for a weekend recap (surprisingly enough!)……

I have my first (hopefully of many more to come!) guest interview for you and I’m pretty excited about it! I would LOVE to have a whole series of interviews with inspirational guys & girls on their own fitness perspectives and stories.

*Okay, okay full disclosure: today’s guest interview is Kelly a.k.a. my mom. With good reason! Kelly has been an active and balanced health-conscious woman for my entire life, but noticed after her 40th birthday that the indulgences went up and the workouts went down. When her company office kicked off it’s own Biggest Loser competition, she competed for 14 weeks against 20 other women to WIN the title and LOSE approximately 25 pounds. Two months later, she’s kept the weight off and increased her running from a 5k to a half marathon!

After feeling like she was stuck in the same rut with her weight and running for 5 years, she shattered her personal goals for both during the 14-week competition. What’s most impressive is her commitment to running, cooking clean and leading a well-balanced healthy lifestyle after the competition. Her determination and success inspired ME and I wanted to share her story so that she can inspire you too :)

So with that introduction, here is my interview with Kelly!

Strong Like My Coffee Guest Interview Kelly's 25lb. Weight Loss Journey Stronglikemycoffee.comStrong Like My Coffee: Hi! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. Your steady weight loss and weight maintenance over the past 5 months is incredible. As your daughter, I can tell that you are more confident in a bikini, workout clothes, and tight dresses, which is so great to see. Can you please provide a brief summary of the details surrounding the Biggest Loser competition you participated in?

Kelly: The women in my office create their own “Biggest Loser” contest once a year. It’s 12-13 weeks, $20 to enter, and a $5 penalty if you gain weight at a weekly weigh in. The weekly weigh-in results are sent out in e-mails and those results definitely helped to keep me motivated. The top 3 winners (biggest percentage of body weight lost) split the ending pot. I had my own goal of getting back to a weight that I hadn’t seen in the last 12 years. For me it was about size and comfort. I wanted to look like I did when I was in my early 30’s and I wanted to dress like I was in my early 30’s!

SLMC: Congratulations on reaching your goal! What was the turning point where you thought “I need to make a healthier change to my lifestyle”?

Kelly: My clothes were getting tighter and tighter so I started wearing loose and baggy tops to hide my growing muffin top and when this became my normal routine I felt very frumpy and knew I had to do something about it. I wasn’t comfortable with my added weight and I’m too young to dress frumpy!

Guest Interview with Kelly -- 25lb. Weight Loss, Training for a Half Marathon, and Indulging in Moderation Stronglikemycoffee.com

SLMC: In total, how much weight did you lose? Where did you notice the biggest improvements to your body?

Kelly: I lost 23 pounds. At first it was my upper body that showed the most change. My arms were getting significantly smaller and then it showed in my waist as my pants were now baggy and too loose.

Kelly's Guest Interview 25lb. Weight Loss Journey and Running Success Stronglikemycoffee.com

SLMC: Aside from weight and numbers, you saw amazing improvements in your fitness level throughout this process. I watched you go from struggling to run 3 miles to now easily logging 8, 9, 10+ miles on Sunday mornings. You pushed past that plateau! What are some of the biggest “milestones” you hit during this period?

Kelly: The milestones came every few weeks; I used to dread the stair master and could only do about 10 minutes without taking a break, but during this contest, I pushed myself to 20 continuous minutes. The stair master still kicks my ass but it pushes me the hardest, and therefore I do it at least once a week.

Another challenge for me was the ability and stamina to continuously run 4 to 5 miles. When I first started running, I plateaued at a 5k. For years I hovered around that 3-mile mark.  I have made dramatic progress in the last several weeks pushing myself from 3 to 4 miles; then 5 miles right to 7; the next week I pushed myself to 9 and this week I’m looking to crush a 10 mile run!  It’s actually fun to see just how far I can push myself and it’s extremely exhilarating to conquer such an intense goal.
Guest Interview with Kelly 25lb. Weight Loss Journey, from 5k to Half-Marathon, and Daily Meal Plan Stronglikemycoffee.com

SLMC: That is incredible, and obviously I love to hear another family member describe running as “fun.” ;) I don’t know anyone who has gone from 3 to 10 miles so quickly. You inspire me!

During the contest, what are some of the things that kept you motivated to continue losing weight for 12+ weeks?

Kelly: I was originally motivated to lose enough weight to fit back into some favorite clothes that no longer fit, as well as to buy some new outfits.  About half way into the contest I was in the top 3, which then motivated me to move from 3rd place to 2nd and then of course from 2nd to 1st.  I found that I have a competitive side that I didn’t know existed and it really took over the last month of the contest.  By the end of these 3 months, I could see that my endurance level had definitely been kicked up a few notches.  It felt great to push myself to new limits, reach my original goal, set higher goals, and crush those goals as well. The last week of the competition was high intensity cardio twice a day and I pushed myself harder than I thought possible.   It literally paid off!

SLMC:  Of course when you are working to lose those “last few pounds,” you have to really tighten up the nutritional quality of your daily snacks and meals. I know that you re-evaluated some of your little habits and decreased your sodium/sugar intake. What was the most difficult habit to break?

Kelly: Munching on ‘leftovers’ as I packed them up, or if there wasn’t really enough to save, I would eat it to avoid throwing it away. Kinda like when I used pack your lunches in elementary school and you only wanted a half or 3/4 of a sandwich and I would eat the rest of it to avoid tossing it.

Night out in Savannah GA (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

SLMC: You say that you never fully deprived yourself and enjoyed many splurges during the Biggest Loser contest, but still managed to consistently lose weight/body fat. What are your typical indulgences?

Kelly: I HAVE to have a daily dose of dark chocolate – no exceptions.  My go-to is either Dove Dark or Girahdelli dark chocolate squares. I always have a bag on hand. I love iced coffees and thanks to you, I now order the Americano with sugar free caramel or sugar free vanilla which is only 15 or so calories and tastes like heaven! During the 13 weeks of the contest I must have eaten out at least 15 times. Sit down restaurants, fast food joints, parties, as well as BBQ’s with friends. Just about every restaurant now offers a healthy or light menu and to me those options are as perfect as they are filling. I love trying new foods and dishes so it was fun to choose something different from each menu. Following some of these indulgences I would of course feel a little guilty about the upcoming weigh-in so I upped the interval cardio to burn more calories in a session and off-set those additional treats.

Brunch with Mama at Sarahbeth's (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

SLMC:  What is your typical breakfast/lunch/dinner?

Kelly: Breakfast is Coaches Oats – hearty oatmeal and I add in a heaping spoon of cinnamon and either banana slices or strawberries. Lunch varies since I don’t like the same thing day after day; a yogurt parfait (yogurt, almost slices, cinnamon and fruits such as banana, strawberry, peach/nectarines) and some sort of crunchy snack like pretzels, sun chips or Peppridge Farms Goldfish crackers. I always eat an apple in the morning and in the afternoon – keeps me from eating candy and/or other junk food. I love plain rice cakes smothered in PB Fit and dinner is always a veggie, a salad and some sort of protein (Chicken, chickpea burger, salmon, or black bean burger).

Our weekly go-to is spaghetti squash with my homemade turkey/veggie balls and a light marinara sauce. Veggie stir fry makes it’s way into our weekly rotation quite often too. A typical healthy dessert has been an 80 calorie Yoplait yogurt with a few berries and a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips or a 40 calorie fudgsicle. So light in calories and yet satisfies the dessert cravings.

 

Healthy Teriyaki Turkey Burgers with Grilled Pineapple | Stronglikemycoffee.com Blog

SLMC: How did you celebrate your victory!?

Kelly: I had been craving a loaded pizza from BJ’s with a pitcher of beer for quite some time, but when it came to victory night, I had no desire for the beer and while the pizza was good, it didn’t live up to the hype in my head.

And now a lightning round:

  1. Cocktail or Chocolate – Chocolate every time!
  2. Sweet or Salty – Salty and preferably crunchy!
  3. Morning Workout or Evening – Morning, it feels so good afterward and makes for a better day.
  4. Burpees or Plank – Hmmm, both kick my butt but I can do both pretty damn good now, so I’d say Burpees.
  5. Flavored water or plain – Definitely plain.
  6. Coffee or tea – There was time when I would have said iced tea, but thanks to you, I’ve become quite adicted to coffee now.
  7. Weights or cardio – Depends on my mood when it’s time to work out, but I probably lean more towards cardio.
  8. Strong Like My Coffee of Facebook {trick question ;)} HA, Stronglikemycoffee hands down every time!

Thanks, Kelly! You’re a rock star!

***Kelly’s diet and exercise plan were successful for her but everyone is different! My interview isn’t intended to promote her meal plan, but rather her discipline and determination to reach a goal, as well as the confidence her success brought!***

One more thing that Kelly said in our interview that I absolute HAVE to share:

“When I was running, of course it was hard and I was trying not to give up. And I just thought, ‘we know or we hear about so many people who are sick, who have cancer, who are fighting diseases, who have some physical disability, and here I am with a healthy and able body. I better enjoy it and challenge it because I CAN.’ And I’m thankful for that.”

Hope you liked this little change-up, but I’ll be back with normal workout/recipes again this week :)

XOXO Kenz

Surfing (kind of), Acai Bowls, and Cold Brew Coffee

I need more weekends like this past weekend.

Persian cats, happy hour boat rides, salt water snorkeling, and one of my best college buddies.


There has been a constant theme in my summer so far and it has to do with energy….

I’ve never been one to really buy into the whole ‘spiritual realm,’ but I am starting to believe that our positivity or negativity towards situation will affect the outcome. A ‘you-attract-what-you-emit’ type of thing…

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Huh?? Well, it seems that during circumstances where I adopt a go-with-the-flow attitude and truly believe that everything will work out actually do work out better than I even imagined (like my Southern Road Trip!). A positive outlook brings a positive experience. Similarly, when I am skeptical or pessimistic about my day, it naturally tends to go downhill.

This weekend, one of my best friends from college Chelsea invited me to visit her and her family and it was so perfect and refreshing! Chelsea is such a patient and positive person, and I think that our go-with-the-flow/we’re-going-to-have-fun-no-matter-what attitude made the weekend such a blast. So on Friday I happily packed up the adventure backpack and headed towards Orange County!


I spent half of Friday, Saturday and Sunday with Chelsea’s family in a very water-filled weekend that also included many “firsts.” First time surfing, first acai bowl, and first cold brew coffee. But the weekend began with a little visit to a friend where I met this photogenic little guy… (Too many captions come to mind for his expression, I can’t pick one!)

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In the evenings, we took a walk around the lake and saw so many friendly people walking their dog. Chelsea has an extra surfboard and wet suit that I could borrow so we started planning our beach day….I was a little shocked when she suggested we start our Saturday at 6:00am. (!!!) Monday through Friday I wake up before the sun to squeeze in a workout before work. I have to give a disclaimer to any friends I have sleepovers with…my bedtime is somewhere between 9 and 10pm. #proudgrandmastatus

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We compromised, setting our alarms for 6:30am ;) Starbucks made it a little easier, and we were westbound with an americano in hand before 7am!

Chelsea suggested hitting up Doheny State Beach because it’s known as a ‘beginners’ beach for surfers. The sky was grey and overcast and the water was flat. I got a little tutorial for paddling, standing up, and surf etiquette on the shore before we pulled on our springsuits and paddled out. I was nervous that the water would be freezing but it actually felt so comfortable!

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There were looooong lulls of flat water between sets, so we spent lots of time just paddling, floating, sitting in quiet with other patient surfers, taking pictures and appreciating the morning.

When the sets of waves did come in, they were little baby waves crashing close to shore. There wasn’t much to catch with the board and we never stood up on the board. But somehow, four hours flew by and before we knew it, it was noon! We have no idea how the time passed so quickly as we floated on our boards.

All of that not surfing worked up an appetite ;) I’ve been eager to try out the trendy acai bowls but I’ve been told to hold out for the REAL DEAL at a specialty shop rather than a chain restaurant’s knock off. Chels and I loaded the boards in her car and drove to Laguna Beach for Bonzai Bowl where I ordered the Shark’s Cove Acai Bowl —> Acai, hemp milk, and frozen bananas blended together and topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries, goji berries, bananas, coconut, granola and honey.

IMG_8444Now that we were full of super-food yumminess, we were re-energized to get back into the water! This time we used Chelsea’s snorkeling gear to check out Diver’s Cove. The water was SO CLEAR and blue, it was a gorgeous day. Chelsea brought her GoPro (so many fun toys!) and we took some fun underwater pictures.

I guess we weren’t done with the water yet so our evening consisted of a happy hour boat ride around their community’s lake, some snacks and good music. I felt so grateful for such a beautiful perfect relaxing day, where the toughest decision was which smoothie toppings I should pick ;) Even though I also had my first cold brew coffee that afternoon (which was STRONG), we crashed early again. Being out in the salt water and sunshine drains ya!

Weekends like this deserve a little extra appreciation. It was a total recharge going into this next work week. :) And now we’re all caught up! See you here again soon XOXO

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