Parent Visit and My First Martial Arts Class

It’s been a busy week of research. As always, I have so many ideas floating around in my head, and I find myself chasing after all of them. Or at least, too many of them. I’ve spent the week post-work and post-Zumba looking up twitter bootstrap templates, wordpress themes, and hip hop videos. It’s been an interesting mix.

Anywho, I wanted to share some photos from last weekend – some about eats and a visit to see my family.

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I picked up these beautiful radishes at Atherton Mills market. I sliced them and added them to romaine lettuce, and boom…I had a much more interesting salad with that simple addition. The radish slices added great crunch and flavor. As a bonus, the salad was more pretty and colorful, too!

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Spaghetti…always a classic dinner, at least in our house. We got these meatballs at Earthfare and just cooked them with some bottled marinara sauce.

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We got to my parent’s house pretty late since we had to pack and leave after work on Friday. I brought workout clothes in case my sister wanted to do a Zumba class or something, but she had a different idea. On Saturday, she took me to my first martial arts class! Actually, I did two classes – Wing Chun and Muay Thai. Both classes were really great in different ways, and I enjoyed the teaching style of the instructor at Raja Academy. I got to throw my sister around and kick the crap out of some punch shields. Just kidding. Ok, I did, but I also learned some basic Wing Chun and Muay Thai moves, both defensive and offensive. We practiced some blocking moves and then punching, kicking, kneeing, and elbowing. I had a blast and hope to try martial arts again soon. I think I’d only have time to focus on one, and my sister thinks Wing Chun would be a good fit for me. We’ll see!

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Mom and dad were really excited to show me their garden updates. They’ve added some hydrangeas.

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Their kale (curly and dinosaur) are really growing great.

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The garden is currently a mix of spring and summer vegetables.

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They have a bunch of squash and zucchini coming in.

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Plus, they added a whole other garden section. They’re really going to have a lot of vegetables this year!

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Oh, and they have fruit now, too! I think this is their first strawberry of the season.

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We picked some of the kale for dinner.

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Dad is thinking about going vegan for his health, so my sister and I made a big batch of vegan chickpea and barley soup with lots of vegetables, based loosely on this soup.

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I served the soup with salt I brought back from from The Ritz at Amelia Island from our recent Florida vacation. I bought my parents a small box of the pink Himalayan salt.

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On Sunday, we headed downtown to look at some of the art galleries.

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Unfortunately, the galleries were closed, but we did take a pit stop at the tea shop, O-CHA Tea Bar, by the river.

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And another plan was thwarted when we tried to go to Pita House for lunch. Who knew they were closed on Sundays?! Luckily, another family fave was open – Saffron Indian (warning – site has sound on for those of you at work or other quiet environments).

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Sis and I both started with hot tea.

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And then, we hit up the buffet.

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Plus, we had plenty of naan. Love this stuff! Yay carbs!

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My parents sent me home with lots of fresh veggies – zucchini, squash, cucumbers, and kale. Can’t wait to eat those up!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Garden Recruit

Hubby and I headed out of town Friday night to visit my fam for the weekend. I was sad to have to miss Saturday morning Zumba, but I was excited for some QT with my family.

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There’s nothing like waking up to a homemade breakfast.

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After breakfast, hubby got recruited to help in the yard.

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I helped my mom in the garden. Look how big it’s getting! Here are some photos from this morning…

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We picked a bunch of veggies for dinner – green beans, wax beans, cucumber, squash, and zucchini. Apparently, they’ll have tomatoes soon!

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Sis and I ran a couple errands in the afternoon and stopped by a local pizzeria for a snack. Of course, I noticed the interesting-looking dessert behind the counter. It’s a sfogliatelle – a pastry with an orange-scented cream filling. I had to try it.

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I brought it home, re-heated it in the oven, and enjoyed. It was so good! I wonder why I haven’t seen more of these before. Better yet, I wonder if I could re-create these sometime? It’s worth trying, right?

Next up – Father’s Day and Birthday dinner and playing with new recipes.

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Loving Local Ingredients

First of all, I’m so excited so many of you volunteered to be official TCL recipe testers. It’s just further proof that my readers rock!! If anyone else is still interested, click here to check out the post where I talked about it.

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Exciting things are happening in The Chic Life garden. Things are finally starting to grow big enough to eat!

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I’ve harvested the first veggies – tri-color green beans. Plus, I got some chives and parsley for breakfast.

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I made a spinach-egg scramble using chives and parsley instead of fresh dill (check out this recipe for something similar).

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With some lightly buttered whole wheat toast (Honey WW from Great Harvest), it made for a great start to the day!

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I was able to WFH on Wednesday, so I had the pleasure of cooking at the house. I decided on some kale chips using the kale I got at the farmer’s market this past weekend.

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I know I owe you guys a recipe for this, and I promise one is coming soon. I’m getting my a$$ kicked at work this week, so as soon as I get the chance, I will type it up.

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The kale chips were fantastic with an open-faced turkey sandwich (also on GH bread) with Earthfare turkey and cheese.

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I like my kale chips straight up, but I have a couple fun flavors in mind for you all! ;)

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After work, I was super excited about teaching Zumba again. I missed both my classes last week since I was at the beach, so I was really forward to being back with my class this week. We had a rockin class!

My favorite Zumba songs were:

  • Give It to You
  • Danza Kuduro
  • Looking for Paradise (cool down)

And after class, hubby and I whipped up a quick dinner – chicken rubbed with Mediterranean spices, frozen veggies cooked stove top with the green beans from the garden, and the local rice we got at the market last Saturday. It was my first time eating local rice, and it was great! The rice was a lot more sticky than the kind I usually get at the grocery store, but I just love that it was locally grown.

As for locally grown, we have a banana pepper almost ready to eat in our garden. And I think I saw my first baby squash growing! I hope the chipmunks and rabbits don’t get to it first! There are also a dozen or so tomatoes that will be ripe in the next couple of days. I can’t wait!

Also, I’m really happy with all the local food I’ve been eating lately. Between weekly trips to the farmer’s market, finally finding restaurants that source local ingredients, and growing my own in my garden, I’m turning into quite the locavore. ;)

Any fellow locavores out there??

Do you strive to eat local food? What local ingredients/foods do you most often consume/purchase?

BBQ Chicken + Grilled Collard Greens

Ah Monday…my dreaded foe. I often dread you, but today, you are my Friday. That’s right. I’m going on vacation for the rest of the week! I win! Booyah!

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Although I WFH today, I was super busy!

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I decided on a quick, no-cook bowl of vanilla Oikos with a sliced banana and almonds (Project Veg-Up fruit serving…check!)

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Speaking of Project Veg-Up…I’m hoping these babies will help.

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My squash plants are flowering!

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I’m really hoping the critters don’t get to my future veggies before me.

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And look what found its way into my garden – a cicada. Yikes!

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And how about something a little less scary now – baby green beans!

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I decided on tempeh for lunch.

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I did another TCL-style noodle bowl, similar to this one.

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I swear, these things are such lifesavers!

This time, I tried boiling the tempeh instead of steaming it, to see if I could prepare this meal with one less pot. It worked pretty well, so I may continue with my boiling method in lieu of steaming. PS boil for about 5-6 minutes.

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Lunch dessert – orange! Project Veg-Up fruit serving numero 3.

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I ended up working late today, which really screwed up my plans. I had a lot to do after work to get ready for my vacay, so I was hoping to leave early. Too bad I forgot I had a 5-5:30pm phone conference and then ended up on the phone till just before 7pm.

I ended up missing Zumba tonight *extreme sad face*

But I did manage to get a batch of these delicious, raw, dehydrated coconut macaroons prepped before dinner.

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Hubby and I had something yummy planned for dinner.

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BBQ chicken, made with the last of the homemade BBQ sauce from last week, plus whole wheat cous cous and grilled collard greens, using this recipe.

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They were pretty good, but I love the flavor of my collards braised!

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Post dinner, Bailey helped me pack for my vacation.

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And these bad boys are going to dehydrate overnight. The smell of them in the kitchen is absolutely intoxicating! I can’t wait to dig into them! I’m thinking breakfast? ;)

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Have you seen the latest Zumbawear??? Does this “Daydreamer” top look familiar to you? Hmm…

It looks just like my hip hop style workout tank! Click here for a tutorial on how you can make yours out of a regular ole’ unisex t-shirt. I feel so trendy! ;)

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I bought my ticket to the Healthy Living Summit today! Are you going? I’d love to meet you! :)

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Catch ya from the beach!

Reader question: What snacks do you like to take to the beach (for enjoying whilst chillin at the hotel or actually on the beach)?

Vegetable Garden Babies and Green Eggs & Havarti

My, my, my…the garden is really growing up fast!

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I’m really excited to be eating fresh vegetables straight from my own backyard! I only wish I had a bigger garden! lol. Maybe one day. For now, I will admire the baby vegetables slowly starting to form.

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Let’s see…we have future cherry tomatoes.

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And the green bean plants are starting to flower, which means I’ll have tri-color green beans, soon!

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And my banana pepper plant has a couple little mini peppers slowly forming.

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On the other side of the yard, my squash plants are getting bigger and bigger every day!

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And are those future squash blossoms I spy?

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I also have a huge assortment of herbs growing in various pots near the house. On Friday morning, I plucked a fresh sprig of dill, which I used as the inspiration for my veg-i-ful breakfast.

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You guys know my usual egg and bagel breakfast? Well…something’s been missing for awhile now, and thanks to Project Veg-Up, I’ve figured it out. I needed to add in some fruit and vegetable servings! Now just look at how much more well-rounded and nutritious this meal is. It took only a handful of minutes longer to put this together, but this is a far more power-packed plate of goodness. Don’t you just want to dig in?

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The eggs look like green eggs and ham. hehe. I’ve seen people doing that with pesto, but this baby is just comprised of spinach as far as greens go. Ooh, and that dill.

Green Eggs and Havarti (with Spinach & Dill)

This take on the classic egg scramble ups the ante with some fresh and flavorful dill and easy-to-access frozen, chopped spinach. For my vegan friends, I bet this would be equally amazing as a tofu scramble!

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion (or do 1/8 if you don’t like a lot of onion)
  • 1/4 cup spinach (frozen, chopped)
  • 2 eggs, preferably local or humanely raised
  • 1 sprig fresh dill, chopped (about 1-2 teaspoons)
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped havarti

Directions:

  1. Heat a small non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Add extra virgin olive oil and onion. Cook onion till it starts to turn translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add spinach and cook till defrosted, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Crack eggs into pan and stir to scramble (or you can crack eggs into a bowl and whisk with a fork, but my method is for the lazy chef – less mess! Winking smile ). Once eggs are mixed together, stir occasionally and cook to preferred texture (everyone has their own doneness preference).
  3. When eggs are nearly done, stir in dill and havarti. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until havarti is just melted.
  4. Serve with whole grain toast or a bagel and fresh fruit.

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I actually didn’t count the veg as 1 serving for Project Veg-Up, but it was still worth throwing them in for flavor alone.

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And the fruit made for a great breakfast-dessert – so refreshing!

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And just wait till you see the amazing lunch I threw together. I used stuff I had around the house and greens from the farmer’s market and my garden. It was a very tasty surprise! 

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This morning’s lesson: So, even though I usually try to shoot to include fruits and veggies with every meal, I was reminded with today’s breakfast just how easy and delicious that can be!

What about you? Do you try to include fruits and vegetables in every meal or do you try to get your servings in at certain times of the day?

Fresh Picked Parsley for the Pot Luck

Before I dig into the post, did you notice I gave TCL a mini-makeover with a new header image?! Hope you like it! Ok…moving on…

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After not getting raptured on Saturday, I had all day Sunday to enjoy with my friends.

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First up, I met up with the Charlotte Food Bloggers for a pot-luck style get-together at the park.

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I dug into my garden to gather ingredients for my dish.

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Beforehand, I grabbed a huge bunch of curly parsley from my garden and hardly left a dent in the plant. It is still gigantic! Guess I need to cook more with parsley. It’s funny how big the parsley plant is considering I actually planted it last year, it died over the winter, and randomly popped up again this spring. Tough little thing!

Anywho, having done many-a-potluck meal thanks to many food blog get-togethers, I know savory dishes are usually the minority. So, I’ve been trying to bring simply savory sides that are veg/vegan friendly so far to help balance out the eats. (My inner sweet tooth is itching to make something sweet, though! Maybe next time?)

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Anywho, I must say, of all the potential hobbies out there…food-related ones have to be one of the best. Sure, we could get together to talk about video games or bird watching, but when you get together with foodies you get to enjoy delicious eats!

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Lots and lots of them.

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We all quickly dug in and filled our plates up.

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I overdid it last time, so I kept my portions small first round, knowing I could always get more.

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When the Southern Cake Queen showed up with cupcakes, I kind of forgot about any possibility of savory plate #2 and dug into the cupcakes and the other sweets I’d been eyeing – Julie’s pie and Katie’s raw brownies.

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Photo session!

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Nommm! Another pot luck with yummy foods!

In attendance, we had: Taylor, Julie, Kelly, Katie, Julia, Ensley, Alison, and Crosby (who is brainstorming a future blog as I type).

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And you won’t want to miss my next post. I blog about a fun (and tasty) play date for me and Bailey…plus details on this delicious creation pictured above (hint: it’s a Cake Mini – a new flavor and one you requested!). Helloooooo gorgeous! ;)

What’s your pot luck style? Do you like to bring a certain type of or specific dish?

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