What? Paella Fest
When? June 7, 2010 (yeah, I know, it’s a little overdue)
Where? Water Taxi Beach, NYC
Who? Me, husband, a few friends
Having spent considerable time abroad in Spain, I love all things Espana… namely Rioja wine and some tasty paella. Lo and behold, there’s a festival for us right here in Manhattan (they’ve thought of everything, haven’t they).
Here’s how it worked: we bought tickets in advance ($40/per). The $40 included a paella tasting from each vendor there (8 in total) and all you can drink wine. YES, ALL YOU CAN DRINK VINO. Obviously an insane deal. But it’s so hard to not see all you can drink wine as a challenge… haha.
Once we got to Water Taxi Beach (if you haven’t been, it’s by the… and below the Brooklyn Bridge and yes, it does have sand, like a real beach ), we were each given 8 tickets and a wrist band. The wrist band was to score free booze, and each ticket would be used to get a paella sample. Thus, you could get a sample of each… or just keep going back to a few that you liked. Also, we were given ballots to cast our vote for the winner.
It was awesome. And all the free wine and delicious paella totally distracted me from keeping track of which was from where and prevented me from voting, but whatevs. I’m definitely down for making this an annual affair.
What awesome local food festivals have you hit up? Any to recommend? (I’m willing to travel…)
When the forecast looks like this every day:
And you don’t have air conditioning (or, maybe you have it in your bedroom but can’t justify using it all day), a girl needs to make some changes. It’s times like these that the thought of any sort of hot food is enough to make me queasy. Since I’m home all day in the heat this summer vacation, I thought I’d offer a few pieces of advice that keep me (relatively) calm, cool, and collected.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. This seems like a total no-brainer, but I find that I sometimes don’t want to do anything when it’s this hot. I love regular old water, but I also hit up the coconut water, iced green sencha, iced yerba mate, and sparkling water to mix things up a bit.
- Coconut water is awesome. I drink it quite a bit when it’s super hot out, and almost always to hydrate after workouts. I’ve heard it described as “nature’s gatorade” since it’s loaded with potassium and other goodies to replenish what you’ve lost in sweat.
- Iced teas are easily my most refreshing “discovery” this summer. Yeah, I know iced tea is not exactly a discovery, but I’ve only recently stumbled upon it’s excellence. I like my tea straight up, so I invested in a few glass pitchers.
- Bookend your day. The “coolest” parts of the day are obviously going to be the early morning and the nighttime. Plan most of your activities accordingly. I prefer to workout outside, so on these nasty-hot days, I’m up at 5:30 and running. I’ll try to do housework (laundry, cleaning, etc.) in the morning too. At night, it’s usually really nice. That’s a good time to finally head out, enjoy the summer for a walk, or some drinks outside.
- Eat seasonal food. Okay, so this isn’t specific to heat necessarily, but it could be. I think there’s a reason that there are so many fruits and veggies that are in season right now – they taste awesome raw. I keep the heat down at home by eating salads, raw veggie kebabs, and smoothies. Here’s a tasty raw corn salad I made with CSA corn and onions.
- If you must cook, time it well. It’s times like this that I really love my steamer, slow-cooker, and toaster oven. I can use each (early morning or late at night, of course, since I bookend) without totally heating up the kitchen too much. This is also a good time to make large batches and hang on to leftovers. I’ll steam a ton of brown rice and use it throughout the week for different dishes.
- Suppress the urge to workout like a maniac. Even if you’re used to workin it out like a maniac, summer is not always the time to do it. Neither is a heat wave. And neither is the middle of the afternoon. If you’re following the other rules, you should already be hydrating and bookending your day. So as long as your workouts are early morning or in the latter half of the day, you should be okay. Now my pitch for early morning workouts: if you live in a major metropolitan area (like here in NYC), smog and pollution levels tend to be at their lowest first thing in the morning and build throughout the day. (And if you’re interested in morning workouts, check out my post on starting them). Just sayin’. And while I hate treadmills, they become a good friend on days like this. Here are some great tips on working out in the heat:
- Siesta, baby. This is perhaps my favorite rule of all. On days when I’m home, I’ve really gotten accustomed to a post-lunch nap. Not necessarily a long one, but just 30 minutes to refresh myself. Other days, my “siesta” may just be a matinee at an (air-conditioned) movie theater, a few hours in a nice cool coffee shop/bookstore, etc.
So that’s how I keep cool! What do you do to beat the heat?
As I’ve mentioned, for the last six weeks or so, I’ve maintained regular early morning workouts. Yes, I still have to talk myself into getting up sometimes (like this morning), but that happens more and more infrequently. I’ve grown to love and look forward to my early morning workouts. And with summer here ( = heat and humidity here in NYC), the wee hours are the only ones that I can comfortably work out.
Several friends and co-workers have said “I wish I could work out in the morning..” or “I’d love to do that but…” you get the idea. The truth is, you can do it! In fact, for those of us with busy schedules, who often find dragging ourselves to the gym after a full day of work gets skipped over, morning workouts are perfect! Here’s how to get started:
- Define early. How much time do you really need in the morning? Set a loose time line. For me, I like to walk out the door for work by 7. To do this, I need to get in the shower by 6, which means my workouts need to begin at 5-5:15 on any given morning.
- Once you set your time table, you can realistically see what parts of your morning routine you can shave down. For me, this means making my whole lunch the night before, laying out my work clothes (underwear, socks, the whole deal), and sleeping in my workout gear. I know that the minute I have any time to think, I may decide not to go. The idea is to take any thought out of your morning routine.
- Set your workouts. Mix up your strength and cardio as you see fit. Jillian’s 30 Day Shred is great is you are tight on time. On-Demand channels have many workout videos that you can often order for free (see FitTV, if you have it). I typically run outside 2 days/week, do circuits 1 day, and mix up the other two days with gym workouts (easy elliptical or strength stuff). It will take some trial and error to see what works best for you.
- Just do it. Really. Commit to at least a full week. It may take you a little time to adjust. Make sure you hit the hay earlier the night before and prep all of your clothes/food/etc…
- Reward yourself. Sure, I know as well as anyone that the true reward for being fit and healthy is, well, just being fit and healthy. But I also know that I love getting presents. Even if I’m getting them for myself and they are things that I’d buy myself anyway. It’s positive behavior reinforcement. Complete your first full week? Treat yourself to a new magazine, or latte at Starbucks – whatever floats your boat. Up the reward ante as you gain some momentum. The lure new workout gear keeps me going…
People who workout in the morning tend to have more energy throughout the day, and are more consistent in their exercise routine than those who workout at other times of the day (SparkPeople). My biggest reason? It frees up my evenings for social activities (I hated trying to juggle dinner plans with gym time).
Tomorrow’s post? How I eat for my early morning workouts.
So how about you – do you exercise in the morning? Would you like to? Will you try it?
Great read from the NYTimes about the “new” generation of foodies who are making a go of local farmer’s markets and festivals. Check it out!
As a teacher, my summer ends when I have to go back into the classroom. That’s today. Officially I don’t start until September 8, but as of today my carefree summer mornings are gone and will be replaced with manual labor in my poorly ventilated classroom.
Breakfast today was the usual summer special: smoothie (soymilk, berries, pomegranate juice), handful of almonds, and some chamomile mint tea.
I haven’t decided what I’ll do for lunch yet. Depending on how productive my morning is, I may come home for lunch to recharge. Workout tonight will be pilates (yes!) and I think I’ll leave it at that since I’ll be working hard in the classroom all day.
I’ll hold up my smoothie and cheers to a great new school year!
This is arguably my favorite summer-time meal. I have always hated mayo for some reason, but I loved the flavors and idea of chicken salad – so easy and tasty you just slap it on some bread and done-ski!
This really couldn’t be any easier. I usually use left-over chicken breast or (even faster) the chicken breasts from a store-bought rotisserie chicken. I chop the chicken into small cubes (some people prefer to shred – whatever). I toss them in a bowl, chop some onions (or scallions, what ever you have on hand) for it too. The onions add that necessary crunch. Next, mix a vinaigrette of smooth dijon mustard (like Grey Poupon), red wine vinegar, and olive oil. Toss with the chicken and onions. I top it off with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and herbs de provence (you can use what ever spices you like). I toss it again then put it in the fridge. It gets even better the longer it sits melding flavors in the fridge.
I’m kind of a purist (usually just onions and chicken), but you can add lots of stuff: celery, apples, walnuts, raisins, etc… or even switch up the vinaigrette.
Regardless, it’s super-easy and delicious. It’s a great cool sangie for the summer!
I got 4 cucumbers from my CSA last week. I wanted to try something new and easy. I was thinking of a cold cucumber soup, but I didn’t have any dairy products – which pretty much all the recipes I found called for. So I looked to Cooking Light and found this interesting recipe for granita (and only 2 ingredients)!
A granita is a frozen dessert. Sort of like a slushie, I guess. While ice cream, and sometimes sorbet, contain dairy, a granita is just ice. The Cooking Light recipe is quite simple. First roughly chop the cucumbers. I had to de-seed mine first (see first picture). Next, toss them in a blender or food processor with a little honey to taste. Finally, pour the mixture into cheesecloth and let sit in a bowl in the fridge overnight. Note: I didn’t have cheesecloth. Instead, I put a silicone steamer insert in a bowl, put a paper towel on top, then poured the cucumber on. You can get pretty creative here.
Anyhow, once that has sat overnight, pour the mixture into a container and toss it in the freezer. You can periodically scrape it with a fork so that it does turn into some sort of ice block.
Well, maybe something went horribly wrong… but I wasn’t getting that summery delish dish I was hoping for. I think since I forgot to scrape the mixture every hour or so, it froze a bit too much for that granita consistency that makes it so good. I think I also would have added more sweetener.
I haven’t given up on trying the granita, though. Any tips?
After a wonderful July 4th weekend (finally a few beautiful days here in NYC!), I came home very tired and in need of something easy and healthy after a weekend of picnic food.
I rounded up a bunch of leftovers for this one. Earlier this week I had sauteed some summer squash and zucchini in garlic and olive oil. I also found some whole wheat pizza dough from Whole Foods (really cheap and versatile – good to have on hand). I rolled out the whole wheat dough on cornmeal so it wouldn’t stick. I greased a casserole dish and placed the dough in the bottom. I layered the zucchini/summer squash on top, then chopped up some red peppers (I had one floating in the fridge). To round out the meal, I beat 4 eggs in a bowl and poured them on top and added sea salt and freshly-ground pepper.
I baked the dish at 350 for about 20 minutes, then added some shredded parmesan cheese and put it back in for ten more minutes. With a nice salad and some vino, this turned out to be great meal. Even better, the leftovers were delicious cold for lunch.
In case I haven’t mentioned it, I love summer. I’ve officially kicked off my summer this weekend, and hope to make this a great one. In the past, I’ve used the summer as an excuse to try new things (private pilates sessions, kayaking, etc.) I’ve found it’s been a great way to make summer a little extra special and treat myself to things I may not always have time to do during the year.
This summer, I have some great things planned. Each month (June, July, August) I’m going to try a new fitness program (one part at home, one part at a facility) in addition to my regular run/bike/swim. For the remainder of May and all of June, I will:
- Do ten sessions of bikram yoga at Bikram Yoga Harlem. I’ve done a handful of sessions in the past, but I’m eager to see the results that regular practice yields.
- SELF’s “Effortless Abs” workout. (See video below). I LOVE SELF magazine, but don’t always do the monthly workouts included. I think I will this summer. My goal for this one is to do 3 sessions/week – preferably in the morning before work.
I already have my programs picked out for July and August, and am very excited to get through all of them. I’ll keep you updated on how they go — AND (maybe more importantly) what kinds of results they yield at the end of each month!
Memorial Day weekend has always been my official start of summer. My friends, most of whom get “summer hours,” and I made Friday happy hours in the park a regular thing last year. It was one of my favorite parts of the summer (second only to my wedding and honeymoon, haha). Well, today marked the first Central Park picnic. We each bring our own snacks and stuff. I thought I’d review our spread this week instead of the usual restaurant.
It’s nice that there’s a Whole Foods right at the park. I biked down and stopped at WF to grab some snacks. My go-to strategy for these BYO picnics is:
- bring as many fruit/veggie-laden foods. You never know what else will be there
- bring a nice big bottle of… water. Haha, Pellegrino is my pick. It’s a little more special than tap
- a deck of cards lends itself to endless possibilities
- sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen
This was an excellent kick-off. Enjoy some of my pics below. Happy summer!