Cure for a case of the Mondays?

Sometimes surviving a Monday, especially one plagued by snowy traffic jams and a to-do list large enough to smother you, deserves a little treat–but after successfully conquering the gym and not so much as even thinking about a grande non-fat no foam latte from Starbucks, I thought it was only fitting to reward myself with some chocolate.

In good conscience, I decided to spruce up my sugary indulgence with my new favorite, the chia seed, and a fruit that I have admittedly received 3 times in my Boston Organics weekly box, and shied away from using each time–the pomegranate. So far my New Years resolution to conquer new ingredients is off to a good start–first the fiber-packed chia seed and now the beautifully bright pomegranate. After watching a few YouTube videos on how to tackle this fruit–I finally felt confident enough to proceed.

For those Martha Stewart and Ryan Seacrest fans out there, here’s a humorous how-to: How to Open a Pomegranate

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Chocolate Bark with Almonds, Pomegranate & Chia
1. Line a 9″x9″ glass baking dish or other shallow dish with wax paper

2. In a microwave-safe glass bowl, melt 2 cups of dark chocolate chips (I used the Ghiradelli dark chocolate melting wafers)–making sure to melt the chips in 20 seconds increments; stirring in between. You can also melt chocolate over the stover–I’ve used a medium saucepan with 3 inches of bowling water and a glass mixing bowl set on top–stirring constantly

3. Once melted, evenly spread the melted chocolate over the wax paper-prepared dish

4. Let your imagination run wild–I used sliced almonds, pomegranate and chia seeds — sprinkle toppings over melted chocolate.

Other ideas– pistachios, shredded unsweetened coconut flakes, sea salt, dried cranberries, and for those who are still hanging onto the holidays–there’s the ever-popular crushed candy canes

5. Place dish in refrigerator to set for a least 1 hour; for storage, continue to store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week

Make sure not to waste any of the remaining chocolate–in order to polish off the last of the fruit from the organics delivery, we peeled a tangerine and dipped the ends in chocolate. Place them on a wax paper-lined plate to set up in the refrigerator alongside the bark for 1 hour. These made for a tasty afternoon snack and one that didn’t leave me regretting the hard work at the gym earlier that day–finding a tasty dessert that doesn’t contain a full stick of butter is challenging but not hopeless.

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I recently received Clean Eats, by Alejandro Junger (found here on Amazon: Clean Eats) and while this week’s simple indulgence doesn’t necessarily align with the book’s message- I’m eager to dive in and find more creative ways to spice up everything from dinner to desserts–more to come and if you’re not ready to take the $25 plunge on Amazon, there are several great Clean-inspired ideas on FoodGawker (Clean Eat Recipes

Up next–a book report on how the January no-spend challenge has been progressing and some helpful tips–many thanks to my friends for hosting no-spend-friendly events, such as last Saturday’s Patriots game pot luck

Cliches, Crunches and Chia

Looking for a 2015 mantra? “Life is about preparation meeting opportunity. When destiny comes calling, you’d better have taken the proper actions so you can rise to meet it, or you could blow it” – Jillian Michaels

As we approach New Years Eve and in the spirit of the Blog’s mission, I can’t help but feel compelled to establish a handful of resolutions. In order to develop these resolutions, I thought this workaholic should stick with a structured system that most of us are all too familiar with–SMART goals. The wonderful folks at MIT, have concisely articulated the parameters here, for the curious readers out there: http://hrweb.mit.edu/performance-development/goal-setting-developmental-planning/smart-goals

1. Cliche resolution – I will exercise at least 4 days a week–this will consist of more than just the treadmill and crunches — I have faith that my trainer Paul will ensure I don’t develop a case of the New Years slump in early February.

I could tell Paul and I were a good fit after he called me out on taking it easy the first few sessions–as you can imagine, when I arrive at 6:00am for our weekly training sessions, I’m a step above a zombie, sans coffee, so working myself until I can’t pull a shirt over my head in the locker room to change isn’t always preferable–and I would even admit sometimes I take the easy way out. Although recently, each session I hear the voices of former coaches in my head pushing me across the finish line each time and have managed to shock myself at some of the small accomplishments made before most have even woken up. After all, even at 31 the old college lacrosse mantra holds true–no guts, no glory.

2. Starting next week, I will leave work by 5:30pm at least one night per week, if not more–ever have those last minute nagging tasks that you seemingly put off every day? This workaholic is in fact that perpetual prostrator of all things menial but meaningful and will wait until 4:30pm to try and clean the skeletons out of the closet–bad idea as we all know this typically leads to 2-3 hours of additional work in a desolate and empty cube farm. I affectionately refer to this period each evening as a Lifetime movie waiting to happen–especially considering that I clutch my iPhone and purse for dear life on the walk to the poorly lit parking garage, with my over-active imagination in full swing;

3. I will read at least 1 book per month –amusing/simple idea for many, but for someone who spends > 10 hours in meetings and drafting emails each day, the thought of picking up anything else to read, makes me a little queasy, despite buying what seems like every bestseller advertised on Amazon.com. I’m always open to suggestions on thoughtful, interesting, and/or edge-of-your-seat selections–feel free to leave suggestions in the comment section below.

My first order of business– “Unlimited: How to build an exceptional life” by Jillian Michaels–I’m sure my chance encounter with an episode of The Biggest Loser a few weeks ago had something to do with me searching to see whether the ranch’s trainers had memorialized any of their words of wisdom and life lessons. A copy of the book can be found here

4. Try a new ingredient at least once per month- I’m hoping the wonderful folks at Boston Organics will provide ample opportunity to achieve this with my weekly organic produce deliveries at work. One of this month’s adventures– chia seeds.

During a recent boycott of the breakfast staple, eggs, I was in search of an early morning revelation and stumbled upon what appeared to be another article in the sea of Facebook pages coaxing bored and virtually vulnerable surfers to click on its link here

I have made a concerted effort over the last 20 years to get behind the yogurt parfait movement, but found it to be rather anti-climatic–great sugary burst and then starving 2 hours later. However, Rebecca Judd’s quinoa breakfast parfait–featuring clever little chia seeds, has recently changed my entire breakfast routine; even resulting in a cheeky art installment that magically appeared on the counter after prepping almonds and chia seeds for the week (Chris’s masterpiece- the leaning tower of chia). The combination of the quinoa, Greek yogurt, almonds, berries and chia seeds have been a welcome change–and something that keeps me full until the lunch hour.

As we quickly approach the onset of a new year and fresh start, have you given any thought to what you will contribute to the universe this next year?

So, let’s raise a glass to a year of surprises, challenges, lessons and successes–bring it on 2015.

Happy (early) New Years!

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