Planning For Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving dinner

I’m currently planning out our Thanksgiving feast and creating my shopping list.  Both Scott and I have work commitments the week of the official holiday so we’ll be celebrating a little early this year.

Of course there’s the basics like turkey, gravy, and mashed potatoes that we always have, but I want to try a few new dishes as well.  Things we haven’t had for a while that I’m going to recreate in a more healthy and primal way.

The above picture was taken several years ago (and yes Off Her Cork was an old site of mine) and features items we don’t have at the Thanksgiving table now.

No rolls, while delightful we have found we’d rather eat more food than bread.  That means stuffing is out as well. Sweet potatoes are saved for dessert in the form of pie.  There’s always fresh whipped cream to go with it!

This year I’m hoping to create a more primal inspired Thanksgiving dinner. Alcohol, while not primal at all, will be around.  It’s the holidays and that makes for a great time to experiment with cocktails and recipes!

Our holidays are always laid back.  The table and presentation might look fancy, but I assure you we are sitting down to dinner in our PJs.  Comfort is most important here at the HQ!

I’ll be sharing more about our holiday later and what was on the table.  So tell me, what is your favorite dish for Thanksgiving?


October Update

Morning Light

Welcome to October! The months are flying by but I can’t say that I’m upset about this.  Fall is my favorite time of year and I’m completely in my element right now.

The blog has been silent for about a month at this point and that was half unintentional and half intentional. I needed a break from blogging to get grounded and gain some stability.

I started a new job in August. A job that I have been working towards and trying to get ever since we moved to Fort Collins over 3 years ago.  While I have a passion for healthy living, I also have a huge passion for craft beer and everything involved with it.  Once I realized that I could actually work at a brewery (this was a new concept to me 3 years ago), I have been doing everything I can in order to help build my resume and my craft beer knowledge.

In August I got a job at a brewery.  Whoo hoo!  Hard work does pay off! I work in the taproom and it’s been a huge adjustment.  Not just learning the work but also getting used to a new schedule.  The change in schedule was the biggest challenge to get used to.

I love my job (seriously cannot stress this enough) and the people I work for, they have been amazingly awesome to me right from the start.  Plus they encourage my desire to learn more and patiently put up with my never ending questions.

After two months I feel a lot more grounded and solid.

Which means that I hopefully can get back to blogging regularly.  Don’t worry, the blog is going to still be about healthy living but with a slight twist.  It’s going to be about how I still maintain a healthy lifestyle while working at a brewery and working nontraditional hours and days.

My goal is to blend these two passions and showcase them a little more.



Mussels with Pesto and White Wine


Mussels with 2014 Cultivar Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc

The 2014 Cultivar Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc  immediately because I will admit up front, I’m not a huge sauvignon blanc fan so I was curious about what this wine was going to be like.  Sauv Blancs that I’ve had in the past have been really tart with some strong grapefruit flavors, which are off-putting flavors for me.

The 2014 Rutherford is not even close to tasting that way. In fact, this wine blew me away and has made me rethink Sauv Blancs, willing to give them more of a chance.  This wine has some deep and complex characteristics to it.  The oak shines through but doesn’t over power.  There is some light citrus notes but they are mellow and smooth. This is a great wine for sipping and savoring.

To balance out the oak I thought this wine would be great paired with some steamed mussels. I added some pesto and sun dried tomatoes for some added depth.  The slight salty nuttiness of the pesto enhanced the richness of the wine.

This meal looks fancy but comes together in about 15 minutes.  Quick and delicious!

Andrea’s Mussels with Pesto and White Wine

  • I used this recipe for pesto. You can sub in spinach for kale if you like.
  • 2lbs of Fresh PEI Mussels, cleaned
  • 1/4C Chicken Stock
  • 1/4C White Wine
  • 1/4C Pesto
  • 1/2C Chopped Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • 2TBSP Olive Oil for cooking

In a large high sided sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add in the pesto, stock, wine, and tomatoes. Gently stir then add in the mussels.  Cover and allow the mussels to steam until they open and are cooked.  About 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve with crusty bread.  Garnish with parsley and additional parmesan if desired.

I also sliced up a baguette and spread some of the pesto on the slices.  Baked at 400 for about 10 minutes until the slices of bread were crispy and the pesto had become bubbly.

The wine worked beautifully with this dish!  The slight sweet brininess of the mussels combined with the rich and oaky wine made for a fantastic date night dinner.

If you’re interested in trying out Cultivar Wine, as a reader of Food Embrace, you will be given 10% off your order.  Use the code, FoodEmbrace at checkout.

I am part of the Cultivar Wine Bloggers Club and receive some bottles of wine quarterly to sample and pair with recipes and foods.  This time I decided to pair the 2014 Cultivar Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc with fresh PEI mussels.


Disclaimer: I’m required to disclose a sponsored partnership between our site, Food Embrace, and Cultivar Wine. I have been compensated in exchange for this post in the form of product or experience. All opinions and recipes presented are my own.


Running Free

Horsetooth Reservoire

Last week I decided to kick running up a notch to see how I would handle back-to-back runs.  I accidentally (trails were blocked off and so I ran more than planned) ran just shy of three miles on Wednesday and then ran 2 miles on Thursday.  I did well!

The three miles went really smoothly.  My hip wasn’t any more sore than after a 2 mile run so I’m considering that a gain.  I stretched really well afterwards and was pleased with how my hip was holding up.

After the run the following day, my hip was a little tight and a little more sore but nothing that would cause me any concern.  I really was hoping that I could push it and go for another run on Friday but that wasn’t going to happen.  When I woke up, my hip was tight and a little stiff.  I didn’t want to risk a run so I went on a 4 mile hike instead.

So far I’m very happy with the progress that I’ve made with this stupid hip issue.  I can still run and even though there is some slight soreness afterwards it’s not a big deal.   As long as I continue to work on stretching it out and do strength exercises I should be back in tip top shape pretty soon.  I’m also going to start rotating in some three miles runs.  It may sound silly but I’m super excited about that!

Hopefully I’ll be able to add running back to my routine full time!  I love working out but nothing makes me feel as awesome as running does.


Grains and Gains

cheese danish from farmer's market

Recently I talked about how I was going to start adding in some whole grains back into my diet to see how I handle them.  I’ve been focusing on old fashioned oatmeal and whole grain breads.  So far things have been going well with that.  Those grains aren’t causing me any sleep or digestive issues.  This means I can get back to eating oatmeal (I do love it!) and having a sandwich on occasion.

I pressed my luck and splurged a bit.  I got a cheese danish from the farmer’s market last week and had that for breakfast with coffee.  It was delicious and decadent.  And it caused me a lot of problems.  Booo

It left me feeling bloated and crappy.  Plus I couldn’t sleep that night.  The bloaty feeling stuck around for two days after eating that danish.  Bleck!  So while delicious, I know that those are the types of things I need to stay away from.  I can have a few bites if I really want it but otherwise, white flour based treats are out.  Which is fine because I typically don’t gravitate towards that stuff anyway.

My gains are with running and this makes my heart sing!  I took some time off running since it was starting to bother my hip.  Instead I started focusing more on HIIT workouts (Insanity Max 30) and weight workouts with 21 Day Fix Extreme (21FX). Both of these have helped me get back on track and being able to start running again.

Max 30 helped me keep my endurance and cardio levels up.  21DFX helped me strengthen my core and work on my leg strength.  That program has a lot of one legged exercises (think one legged squats) that helped me with balance and to make my legs and hips stronger.

I started running again last week and it went well.  My hips were only a little sore after the run but the soreness didn’t last. It did not linger through the next day and I could walk up stairs without limping.

Score!  This is amazing!  Running is so much my jam and we have so many amazing places to run here.  I love getting up early in the mornings and knocking out a run.  Nothing makes me feel as amazing as a run does.  It always puts me in a good mood and starts the day off on the right foot.  I love it.  I can’t go run every day but right now I’ll take something over nothing.

Where do I go from here?  Still going to focus on eating whole grains on occasion and keeping that in check.  Along with adding running back in a few days a week.  I’m also getting ready to start a new workout routine called CIZE.  I have a challenge group that starts next Monday and it’s not too late to join in.  CIZE is a hip-hop dance focused workout routine.  No burpees and no weights.  Just shakin’ the booty and getting exercise at the same time.  There’s still time to join the challenge group if you want in.  Give me a shout and I’ll send you all the details!

How are your workouts going lately?




Testing The Waters

Pizza From Nick's

I have been following a pretty steady primal focused diet since February of this year.  I’m at a point now where my diet is pretty solid and my digestive tract is healed up and in a good place.  Because of this I’ve decided to test the waters and see how I do with adding small amounts of grains and wheat back into my diet.

I’m not a big bread or pasta eater.  I don’t get addicted to or crave carbs. I have always been this way, big plates of pasta are just not appealing to me because they always leave me feeling like crap.

I typically lean more towards a minimal wheat lifestyle just because that is what makes me feel top notch. However I would like to be able to enjoy some oatmeal or some bread on occasion.

Because I used to be able to handle these items without issue before, I feel like I can get back to that status.  Lately I’ve been eating small amounts of wheat and whole grains and making notes in my food journal of everything.

I don’t have digestion issues or suffer from stomach cramps when I eat wheat.  Instead I’ll become a little bloated and it will cause me to have insomnia.  Sometimes depending on how much I’ve had, I’ll have “wheat sweats” during the night.  Those are my symptoms.  Everyone handles food differently and intolerances can have multip symptoms. These are mine with wheat.

So far I’ve been able to handle whole grain bread without issue.  If it’s kept in small amounts it does not affect my sleep or cause me to have “wheat sweats”.  I did have some pizza recently and had the sweats but was able to sleep decently.

I consider this huge success and progress.  I would not be in this position if I didn’t take charge of my health and go down the primal road for several months.

My goal is to be able to enjoy a few slices of bread or some oatmeal on occasion without causing my body too much distress.  I think that I’m on the right track and making great strides.  If you follow me on Instagram you’ll start seeing more and more of these items pop up the more I experiment and keep tracking my eats in my food journal.



Keeping A Food Journal

Keeping A Food Journal

I currently keep a food journal and I have all my coaching clients keep food journals as well.  I don’t do this to track calories, macros, or food amounts as they are not things that I feel are important or necessary.

Food Journaling is to provide more of an insight in to what we eat, why we eat it, and how it makes us feel.  Along with logging how we slept and what our bathroom habits are like.  Yes I went there.  Yes I feel that is important because it can provide insight into how our bodies handle different food items.

Keeping a log of what we eat can help on so many levels but there are three that I feel stand out the most.

1. It Helps Us Stay On Track

Perhaps you’re just starting out on a new healthy lifestyle journey or maybe you have set a goal for yourself.  By keeping track of our daily eats and habits this can help us stay on track and reach our goals.  You will have a visual of how you did that day and how it made you feel.  It provides a way for us to stay focused and work towards our goals, whatever they may be.

2. It Helps Us Spot Intolerances

Because you now have a daily log of what you’re eating, you can flip through and see if you notice any patterns. Food intolerances are varied and not the same for everyone.  You might notice that every time you have cheese you break out on your chin.  Or you sleep poorly that night.  Or you get a headache later in the day.  Journaling is a way for us to physically see how food effects us which then allows us to create an action plan to address it (if we so choose).

3. It Helps Us Be More Mindful

Of our eating and our daily habits.  By journaling, we learn more about the way our bodies handle food and stress, as a result we tend to become more mindful of what we put into our bodies and how we choose to live our lives.  Life tends to become a little clear and more focused when we have dialed in our nutrition and can help reduce the stress in our lives.

I love keeping a food journal.  It’s a no judgement zone.  It’s not meant to make us feel guilty about what we eat or to put pressure on us to eat a certain way.  It’s a learning tool.  Journaling helps us work through any issues we might be facing and paints a clearer picture of the situation allowing us to create a plan to address it.

Have you ever thought about keeping a food journal?  Perhaps you should give it a try and see how it goes!  Just give yourself a goal of doing a food journal for 7 days.  That’s not too long and after 7 days you can see if you want to keep going with it.


Life Currently

Salad with a mahi mahi burger and smoothieThe radio silence around here is because Scott and I are working hard on launching a beer related site along with getting a podcast up and running.  It pretty much has my whole attention at this point.  Summer is also jam packed with beer events that we have been covering and attending as well.  Our beer life is super busy at the moment.  Not that I’m complaining!  But life is a little hectic right now.

I have not been out for a run since I decided to take some time off from it.  The weather has been amazing lately and finally free of rain so I’m really bummed that I’m missing out on these glorious mornings.

I’m back to doing Max 30 when I don’t get sucked in to doing website stuff.  Sometimes it has been taking up my whole day and my workout slides.  I’m at a point where I need to take my own advice and start scheduling the workouts into my day like an appointment so I don’t miss out.

Eats have been going strong.  You can follow me on instagram to see the meals we have.  I am sticking to a mostly primal diet with the occasional gluten free bread.  I have also been experimenting with adding oats back into rotation to see how my body reacts.  So far the results are inconclusive at the moment.  I have had bites of a few gluteny things here and there.  One or two bites and I’m done.  Usually the item isn’t worth me dealing with bloat and insomnia to keep going.

I’m also starting to keep a food journal which is something I’ll be talking about fully in another post.  It’s something that I feel is crucial when starting a healthy lifestyle.  I have all my health coaching clients keep food journals as well.

This is life currently!  Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon because I have lots to talk about plus several reviews to share as well.

Tell me what life is like on your end!


Running Is On The Back Burner, Again

Fort Collins Trail

I haven’t said much about this because I was actually hoping it would just go away.  But it hasn’t and now it’s time to address the situation.

I have been having trouble with running and it’s an issue that has reared it’s ugly head again.  Back in 2011 I was having a problem with my right hip hurting after a run.  Not the joint, but a muscle or tendon or something.  I went to PT for it and everything.  They couldn’t pinpoint what the issue was, gave me a few exercises I could do and sent me on my way.  I eventually gave up running when we moved here because I was struggling with elevation not hip problems.

Fast forward to now, I’ve been running for a few months at this point and my hip is back to being a problem.  Not only my right hip but my left as well.  The right being the worst.  It doesn’t hurt during runs only after and it hurts a lot.

It hurts to walk and especially to go up stairs when I have to put a lot of weight on that side.  It even hurts to touch the area.  The pain will last for several days after a run.

I can’t even tell you how much this pisses me off because all I want to do is be a runner again.

Is it a shoe issue?  Is it because I’m running on trails with uneven footing?  I don’t know and I really don’t want to have to go to PT again because I didn’t think it helped the first time around.

Stretching and foam rolling are a part of my routine and it helps some but not completely.

For now, I think that I have to put running on the back burner.  Again.  And focus on some other exercises to help build up some strength in my legs and core.

At least this is what I’m hoping is going to help.  I’m going to focus on that for about a month and try running again to see how it goes.  Then keep the days that I run to a minimum while still focusing on strength and other cardio workouts.

That’s the plan anyway, fingers crossed it works!


Non-Food Related Weight Loss Goals and Rewards

Short purple hairRewards are a big part of the whole diet and weight loss cycle.  “If I do X then I can have Y.”  Which doesn’t seem that bad but a lot of people rely on food or drink as their rewards.  “If I workout all this week, I can have fries this weekend!”

I’m all about rewards but feel like we should start moving away from food/beverage rewards and start focusing more on non-edible rewards for our hard work.  Maybe a massage?  Or a new outfit or pair of shoes?

Setting rewards definitely helps keep us focused and to stay on track.  I don’t think it’s bad or counterintuitive to set rewards.  I do feel that we should make these rewards something that are also going to make us feel awesome and keep us on track with our goals.

I have set up several rewards for hitting my weight loss goals.  There was a time when I didn’t even think that I would make it to any of those rewards.  It seemed so far down the tunnel that I didn’t know if there was light at the end.

This month I have hit one of my goals and was able to reap the reward.  It was amazing!

I have always wanted purple streaks in my hair but never pulled the trigger and got it done.  Lots of reasons why but the most recent one (and most silly!) was because I thought that I was too chubby to pull it off.

Because of that reasoning, I made it one of my rewards.  Something to work towards because I really wanted that purple!

And I made it!  I’m down 25 pounds thanks to working out and eating well.  That was my goal, once I was down that amount, my reward was to go and get some purple in my hair.


Now I have awesome purple hair (it’s hard to capture in a picture but it’s rad, I promise) and I feel amazing thanks to all the hard work I’ve been putting in.

Do I have more goals?  You bet!  I have several for when I reach my happy weight and I can’t wait to get there because I will get to do all these awesome things.

So do you have a reward for hitting a weight loss or workout goal?  If not, set one today and keep a note of it somewhere so you have a visual of what you’re working towards.