Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 09/08/15

What Science Can Teach Us About Flexibility– A friend of mine sent this article over  to me the other week and with how busy life has been I am just now getting around to reading it. It is a rather long and science based article, but has a lot of really good information on stretching and flexibility. “In yoga, “flexibility” is an attitude that invests and transforms the mind as well as the body. But in Western, physiological terms, “flexibility” is just the ability to move muscles and joints through their complete range. It’s an ability we’re born with, but that most of us lose. “Our lives are restricted and sedentary, so our bodies get lazy, muscles atrophy, and our joints settle into a limited range.”

Why Are Millennials So Obsessed With Food?- It is true, my generation loves food. Living in San Francisco it is part of your DNA to have food be a major part of your life. Now I am not just talking about any kind of food. I am talking about organic, natural, flavorful, unique food. We are spoiled to live in a city where there is a million in one amazing places to eat at. Everything is an experience, from the taste to the way a dish is plated. “In a digital-first era, many people latch onto food as something that engages all of the senses and brings people together in physical space.”

5 Ways to Think Yourself Skinny: The Harvard Study That’ll Shock You–  Being mindful is important. It not only helps you to be present, but it helps to make sure you are really in tune with your body. “Your mindset mediates the connection between exercise and health — that you may not be reaping the full mental and physical benefits of the “exercise” you do each day, but that, with some mental practice, you can totally lower your BMI, blood pressure, etc.”

6 Things To STOP Doing If You Want To Lose Weight”– I read this article and throughout it kept thinking to myself, “Yep this is all true and makes perfect sense. Why dont I do more of this?” It is good to check in sometimes with yourself, great tips!

5 Ways to Pack a Better Work Lunch– I bring my breakfast and lunch every day to work, well 95% of the time. It does get tough figuring out ways to spice it up and keep it healthy. Once you get into a routine though it does make it a lot easier. This article has some solid tips in it.

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Colorado Let’s Get Physical!

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A couple of weeks ago Dustin and I were able to go back to my home state of Colorado for a 5 day trip. It is amazing how you can grow up in a place and never really experience all the city has to offer. I am not sure if others feel this way, but for myself coming back home as an adult is different compared to how it was in my youth. I have grown to appreciate my hometown in a way I never did when I was younger. Home used to just be a place to come and see family and friends. Now home has become a vacation. It has now become a place to not only enjoy time with the ones I love, but to also spend that time doing things I love with them.

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So what did 5 days of activities and fun look like in Colorado? Well Day 1 started with a 3:30am wakeup call to get ready for the airport. Now I am one who will stop at no cost to get a workout in the morning. I mean I have been known to get up at 4:00am to get a run in before a really early flight or work meeting, however we all have our limits and 3:00am was mine. If I am being honest I thought about working out all morning. When was I going to be able to get it in, how could I balance spending time with my family while also doing what I needed for me? Once the plane touched ground and I saw my parents waiting to eager and happy to see me, I decided being with them was way more important than any workout I could get in. So I just made this day my “rest” day for the week. Now this might sound like nothing to most, but for me it was a big step. One of many steps I am slowly making to learn how to balance my life more.

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Day 2 started with a morning at the gym. I went to an hour spinning class while Dustin hit the weights on the gym floor. Afterwards we headed home, ate some breakfast, and got ready to play golf with my parents. This was the first time I had made it out to the golf course this year and boy did it feel good. I forget how much I enjoy playing. I love being outside, being completely engulfed with concentration, almost into a meditation at times.  For me when I  play golf it is a true  mind-body connection. When I am out on the golf course I am thinking about nothing else but what I am doing in that very moment. If your mind is off then your game will be too. There are few opportunities we have in life to fully be present, to not have our minds wander. When I find an activity that allows me to do just that I love it.

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Day 3 was a day of running and hiking through Garden of the Gods. I grew up with this magical place practically in my backyard, well a 15 minute drive. In my adolescence I never enjoyed any of the outdoor beauty that Colorado Springs had to offer, so I am only grateful I have learned to love it as an adult. I try to make it to the beautiful red rocks every trip home I can. My run for the day was 5 miles, followed by a couple miles of hiking/walking. For me every time I go home to Colorado I never know how my body is going to react to the altitude.  The longer I have lived at sea level the more I feel a difference when I go home and attempt to run. Some trips are easier than others. I have found if a trip happens to be a hard one for me to acclimate then I need to listen to my body. This typically means a shorter run than usual, a slower pace, and if a break is needed in between miles then that is ok. What is important is I am out moving my body.

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Day 4 was maybe my favorite day of them all. I started the day with a 4 mile run around the neighborhood. I love this run, for the sole reason of every time I do it I get flooded with memories. I see the house of my best friend in 3rd grade where I had more slumber parties then I could ever count, the friend’s house where in high school on summer nights we would sit around a big outside fire pit, playing guitar, talking, and just hanging out. I run by the neighborhood pool where for countless summers I spent sun bathing while my friends had their first summer jobs as lifeguards. Then to bring the run home I end right in front of my elementary school where I spent years learning and growing. After getting home Dustin and I grab my parents bikes and do the 10 mile bike ride on the Santa Fe Trail to downtown Colorado Springs for breakfast and coffee. This trail is amazing. You go through the whole length of town seeing a vast array of views. You cross over multiple bridges and get waved at by every biker/walker/runner you encounter. It is a true heart of Colorado Springs in my mind. After breakfast Dustin and I saddled back up and rode the 10 miles back home.

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Day 5 was all about the Manitou Inline.  I am pretty ashamed to admit this, but I had never heard of the Manitou Incline till this past Christmas when chatting with my uncle. Even though I was not into fitness growing up, it feels like this should have been something I at least knew about. Either way once Dustin and I learned about it we decided next time we were out in Colorado it was on! Let me tell you a little about the incline. It is located in Manitou Springs, a quick 20 minute drive from my parents’ house. “Since its closure as a railway in 1990, the trail has steadily grown in popularity as a hiking trail and fitness challenge. The base of the Incline sits at 6,600 feet (2,000 m) and the trail climbs 2,000 feet (610 m) in just over 3⁄4 mile (1.2 km). Parts of the trail are extremely broken and steep and will require even the fittest of hikers or trail runners to scramble over the broken rocks and steep trail.”

I have to admit, I was nervous. Seeing pictures of how steep the trail was and just knowing how my lungs had not been cooperating with me on my runs all week, I was not sure how this hike was going to go. However regardless of my fear I knew I was physically capable of doing it and had a great partner in crime to do it with. We arrived at the trail head early Friday morning. We looked at the trail, looked at each other, smiled, and started our walk up. Was it steep, yes. Hard, yes. Did moments of rest have to occur, yes. But overall I would say it was a breeze and by the time we reached the top we were excited and marveled by the view. It is good to remind yourself from time to time you can do anything. We hung out for a bit and then hiked the 3 miles down the Barr Trail instead of hurting our knees trying to go back down the incline. All in all it was a perfect start to my Monday and a great way to end the trip!

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 08/08/15

Stunning Photos From Around The World Bring Yoga Poses To Life– If you are like myself you are fascinated with beautiful images. Obviously with the popularity of social networking apps like Instagram, people are a fan of sharing and looking at photos. I for one love photos of people doing beautiful fitness poses. This article is all beautiful images of stunning yoga poses around the world.

The Makeup Tax-I have never paused to sit and think about how makeup affects my life. I really enjoyed this article for making me think about something in a new way. “Makeup, in short, is a norm, and nothing ruins a first impression like a norm violation. Some women contend they only wear makeup to “boost their confidence,” but the reason they feel less confident when they don’t wear it is that there’s an expectation they will. Makeup, in short, is a norm, and nothing ruins a first impression like a norm violation. One study found that participants were more likely to award “prestigious jobs” to women who were made up than to the same women when their faces were unadorned. Male (but not female) restaurant patrons tip morewhen female waitresses wear makeup.”

Choosing the Right Running Shoes– I for one know the importance of having the right running shoes. Shoes that do not fit well can very easily cause injury. I know this from first hand experience. “Perhaps most unexpected, running shoes designed to somehow “fix” someone’s running form turned out often to be ineffective and even counter-productive. In a series of studies, when military recruits were assigned running shoes meant to control their particular level of pronation, those soldiers were as likely, or even more so, to sustain running-related injuries than soldiers given shoes at random.”

The Evidence Supports Artificial Sweeteners Over Sugar– The sugar debate is one that is very interesting. This is the first article I have read supporting artificial sugar over regular sugar. It is hard to know what is true when there are so many articles out there contradicting one another. What I gather from it all is to just limit my added sugar consumption. “The available evidence points to the fact that there appears to be a correlation between sugar consumption and health problems; none can be detected with artificial sweeteners.”

Whole Foods Launches Store For Broke People– Business and Health, two of my favorite topics to read. This article is short, but interesting on how Whole Foods is looking to re-gain sales and marketshare. “Walter Robb, co-CEO wrote, “[W]e are excited to announce the launch of a new, uniquely-branded store concept unlike anything that currently exists in the marketplace. Offering our industry leading standards at value prices, this new format will feature a modern, streamlined design, innovative technology and a curated selection. It will deliver a convenient, transparent, and values-oriented experience geared toward millennial shoppers, while appealing to anyone looking for high-quality fresh food at great prices.”

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Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 07/14/15

Shoppers Buy More Junk Food When They Bring Their Own Bags– Of course living in a city where you are pretty much required to bring your own bag everywhere you go, seeing this article sparked my interest. There are some pretty interesting facts in this short article. “They found that people are 13 percent more likely to buy organic products when they bring their own bags—and they’re also 7 percent more likely to buy junk food, such as chips and cookies.”

Too much to drink? Apps, devices could help-We use our smartphones for everything. Tracking our steps, how much we eat, where we are, so it only makes sense we would start to use them to track our booze intake. This article showcases some of the new technology and apps related to tracking alcohol consumption.

No More Red 40! General Mills Gets Rid of Artificial Coloring From Cereals– Just a quick article on how companies are moving away from artifical coloring and starting to use more real ingredients. It is about time.

In Defense of Fruit for Dessert-I really enjoyed reading this article. It takes the authors past and show’s how we can think about dessert outside of the normal cookies and cakes. I for one probably eat more fruit a day then a human should, but I just love the stuff!

How to make fruits and veggies last-Now that we go to the farmers market almost every week it is important to know how to store and take care of fresh produce. This article has some great tips, I for one am going to start practicing some of these when I get home.

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Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 07/05/15

Why We Get Sick and How To Get Well– I found Chris Kresser from my incredibly knowledgeable boyfriend. The more I read his stuff the more impressed I am. I for one started to see a holistic doctor last year as I felt I was not getting what I needed from my western doctor. Regardless of your opinion it is interesting to read.  “The modern diet, lifestyle, and environment affect the expression of our genes and lead to pathology, which in turn cause disease and symptoms in the patient.” “In conventional medicine, the focus is often on diseases and the symptoms; it works “from the outside in. In functional medicine, however, we work “from the inside out”.

How Caffeine Is Removed from Coffee– It was about 6 months ago I switched from drinking regular coffee to decaf only in an effort to help support a loved one kick the caffeine habit. I for one have never felt much of a “jolt” from caffeine. I could have a cup of joe right before bed and fall asleep just fine. Moving to decaf was not a problem, as long as I was able to continue to get that taste I loved so much then I was good. One thing I did find when I swapped though was how much better I started sleeping through the night. I used to wake up multiple times throughout the evening, but once I made the switch I woke up minimally. Currently after hearing some research that decaffeinated coffee might not be the best I am re-thinking, however I stumbled upon this article and thought it was interesting to share on how decaf becomes decaf.

Trick your brain to avoid ‘portion distortion’– Learning proper portion sizes and how to indulge appropriately are easier said then done. This article gives some tips on learning how to do proper portions. “Portion control isn’t about depriving yourself — it’s about eating just enough to stay fueled and full. The key to success: Don’t follow every tip about portion control that you hear. It’s really about finding the select techniques that fit your personality, sticking with them and enjoying the benefits.”

Don’t Worry So Much About Whether Your Food Is ‘Processed’– I for one even get confused on what “processed” food technically is. This article is just matter of fact, eat more fruit regardless. It is simple and easy to get. “I think it’s interesting, even the question ‘fresh versus processed’… as though they were opposites,” he said. “You can have something that’s fresh and processed and something that’s fresh and not processed.”

This Is How Your Face Changes After 30 Days of Drinking Water– I for one have been trying to drink more water. For my body and how much I work out I need 2-3 liters a day. Some days it is super easy, other days more challenging. I find if I am not keeping track then it is easy to not get enough. Not sure how credible pop sugar is, but after seeing this article it is making me become more religious about trying to drink more water.

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Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 06/20/15

F.D.A. Sets 2018 Deadline to Rid Foods of Trans Fats–  Although this does not fix all of the problems that exist with unhealthy food it is a great start. “The decision Tuesday was final and would effectively remove industrial trans fats from the American diet by 2018, a change that the agency has estimated could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year.”

Science Weighs In On High-Heels– I for one wear heels almost every day. Now not the stiletto type, mine tend to be more chunky heels. However I have wondered many of times if this is something I should be doing every day. This article is interesting as I have not seen a lot on the subject. “This difference between new and experienced heel wearers suggests that “wearing high heeled shoes may at first lead to adaptation and increased strength,” as the ankle responds to the stresses placed upon it by the unfamiliar shoes. But the senior women, who had been wearing heels the longest, showed weakening of those same muscles, compared even with the freshmen, as well as much weaker muscles along the front and back of the ankle and dramatically worse balance.”

How I Eat Vegetables Like a Californian (Even When I’m Not in California)– I was just commenting the other night over a homemade dinner fresh from the farmers market how I could not imagine my life without the deliciousness of roasted vegetables. I was not always a veggie eater, this was a skill I had to learn. However now I can barley eat a meal without them. I like this post because it gives great advice on how to bring vegetables from an occasional affair to an everyday relationship.

Is Virtual Reality the Future of Fitness?– Immersive fitness, a trend of the future? I love fitness classes. I was never one into team sports, more of a lone wolf when it came to fitness. However once I started getting into fitness classes I found my niche. Feeling like a part of a community while still getting to work out solo. Some of my favorite classes are spinning classes where rooms are dark, screens in front of you show real life mountain roads or music videos. I for one would try this trend for sure, however when you work in front of a computer all day it is nice to have your workouts be a place away from technology.

How To Eat Whatever You Want … Without Overdoing It– I have struggled with this. When I started incorporating “treats” back into my life after restricting food for so long I could almost never not binge. It has taken me years to learn how to balance food and emotions. This article has some great advice!

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Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 06/07/15

Meet the Pegan Diet: The Better-for-You Child of Paleo and Vegan– Maybe it is because I live in San Francisco a very health concise city, or maybe it is because I live with a personal trainer and spend a lot of time in the health and fitness world, whatever the reason I feel like there is a societal pressure to define how you eat. Are you vegetarian, vegan, paleo? Do you follow a Mediterranean diet, gluten free,  or farm to table? I have tried many times to define the way I eat. To fit into one of these clubs. At the end of the day I have learned I eat my own way with an emphasis on tweaking based off of what my body needs. However if I had to classify myself into a group I think it would be this new found pegan diet. This article is a great read and lays it all out. Big thanks to Dustin for sending this along.

A Drink for Babies Is No Hangover Cure– One of the reasons I drink alcohol less now then I used to when I was in my twenties is not because I don’t love the taste, in fact I love how wine tastes more now then I did when I was younger. The real reason is I hate how I feel the next day after indulging in one too many the night before. But what if there was a cure? After some celebrity endorsements the children’s medication Pedialyte helping to cure hangovers it is now trending.“The Pedialyte itself is truly helping because it is rehydrating,” she says. “But any non-alcoholic decaffeinated beverage will do the same thing.”

The Vegetable Butcher Explains Why You Should Always Wash Your Produce-I hate washing produce. It just feels like an extra step I never want to do. However it is important to do. This is a quick guide on washing fruit and veggies.

The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life– “Two new, impressively large-scale studies provide some clarity, suggesting that the ideal dose of exercise for a long life is a bit more than many of us currently believe we should get, but less than many of us might expect. The studies also found that prolonged or intense exercise is unlikely to be harmful and could add years to people’s lives.”

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Avocado Chocolate Cookies Recipe

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I have a sweet tooth. I have had it ever since I can remember. Growing up I always craved cookies, cake, chocolate, you name it. Every year for my birthday I would get an ice cream cake from the famous Baskin Robbins. My favorite part was when the frosting was cold and hard right out of the freezer. I would enjoy the cake on my actual birthday and would always have a piece for breakfast the next morning. In college I can remember having a whole summer where my lunch consisted of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s oatmeal cookie dough ice cream. Eating dessert like this never crossed my mind as a bad thing. It was just wanted I wanted and therefore I did it. Now with 20/20 hindsight I can see how much sugar I consumed and just how bad it was for me.

Now I almost never indulge in dessert. Not because I don’t love it, I do. I have just learned I still have no self control when I eat it. I will tell myself I will only have one bite, then I will have a second, third, I am soon licking the plate and laying in bed with a sick stomach. I will now save my dessert indulgences for special occasions like weddings, birthday’s, or when I place is famous a treat on the menu. However let’s be realistic, sometimes you need something sweet. This is where I have learned to make desserts that hit the craving, but also will not kill your waistline.

This recipe like many others I use I found on pintrest. My favorite recipes are the ones which are easy, fast, and have only a handful of ingredients. Did I also mention they need to taste delicious as well? This is a great go to if you are craving something sweet. The best part about it is you can also eat these cookies for breakfast as well. No need to wait till the end of the day. I enjoyed my cookie right out of the oven with a glass of cashew milk. A perfect end to a long day. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 avocado
  • ½ cup coconut sugar (I got mine at Trader Joes)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup dark cocoa powder
  • 50 g. dark chocolate chips (I didnt have any around, so I used walnuts instead)
  • ½ tsp. baking soda

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a bowl mix together avocado and coconut sugar until smooth. Add in the egg. ( I used my kitchen aid)
  3. Mix in the cocoa powder and baking soda.
  4. Add in chocolate chips or nuts
  5. Using a spoon place dollops of cookie dough in a baking sheet with parchment paper. This should yield about a dozen cookies.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies don’t stick as much to the paper as they did before baking.
  7. Cool down end enjoy! These cookies also taste really good cold, so you can put in the fridge as well

A Week of Food In Greece

I have been sitting here for a while thinking about how I would best showcase all of the amazing food I ate while in Greece. I could post each picture, each memory, with a detailed description of the meal from the first step into the restaurant to when I was so satisfied I was in a state of euphoria. I could go into detail about the ambiance in the restaurant, the presentation of each dish, the taste of the first delicate bite which you can never replicate no matter how many more bites you take. I could talk about the tips and tricks I took when ordering to try and stay healthy, how I watched my portions, while still trying every last thing I wanted. Ultimately I decided pictures speak louder then words. This is by no means every meal I ate on the trip, however it is some of the more memorable ones.

BREAKFAST

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As we know I am obsessed with yogurt. Whenever a restaurant or cafe had yogurt as an option it was a mindless decision on what I would be ordering. This breakfast was by far one of my favorite’s on the trip. Creamy, smooth, and an amazing collection of fruit. It hit the spot.

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 I love little treats, so I knew I was going to fall in love with Greece when every time I ordered a beverage I received a goody. On this day it was a little cookie with my morning coffee. Nothing like a little sugar to start your day.

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Just another amazing fruit and yogurt breakfast. This one came with a little treat of baked goods. I sampled a small bite of each. So good!

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 This was my only morning having eggs for breakfast. Dustin and I walked almost 2 miles to get to this cozy cafe recommended by our Air BnB host. The ambiance of this place was amazing just like their food.

LUNCH

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Over the entire trip we did not end up eating a lot of lunches. Instead we would eat a larger breakfast and an even larger dinner. Then we would typically split something as a snack throughout the day or enjoy a treat with our beverage order. Here is just one example of a beautiful salad we shared. The fresh citrus with the greens hit the spot.

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This was by far one of our favorite meals on the entire trip! Nothing like a big plate of gyro meat, pita, and onions after a morning run and walking. The meat just melted in your mouth.

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Stopping by a street vendor one day to share a pork kabob in a bun with ketchup and mustard. This is the Greek take on a hot dog, but way better.

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Overlooking the ocean we enjoyed a fresh crab salad for lunch. This place was recommended by my yoga teacher as one of her favorite places to eat in Santorini. We loved trying to eat only where the locals ate throughout the trip. I cant even put into words how refreshing this meal was.

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One day we took the bus to a little town Peza in Crete to do some wine tasting. Although the wine tasting was dismal at best, our highlight of the day was finding this local spot for lunch. Workers were on their lunch break ordering meat on a stick accompanied by bread and ketchup. We also stopped by a little market vendor to pick up some fresh strawberries and grapes to eat with it.

SNACKS

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Again I love how in Greece your beverages always come with a snack. When ordering wine fruit was paired, nuts or chips was common with beer, and a small baked treat with coffee. There were many afternoons where this snack and drink would hold us over till dinner.

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With every meal we ordered we received bread. For me this was heaven and hell since I love bread, but I also have little to no self control with it. However once I learned I would be getting bread with every meal it made me stop, pause, and eat only the bread I truly loved. If it was not amazing I knew another loaf would not be to far away.

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Wine tasting with cheese, olives, bread bites, and a tomato dip. A perfect afternoon in my opinion.

DINNER

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We wanted to make sure we got at least one very traditional Greek meal in. This was a platter of all of the different mezzes we are accustomed to in the states. The difference from back home to Greece is obviously the taste. There is really no comparison.

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This was my favorite greek salad on the trip. The produce was so fresh, it was swimming in olive oil, perfectly baked croutons, and cheese that melted in your mouth. The portion was huge and came in a giant wooden bowl. I could eat this salad every day for the rest of my life and be happy. It was that good.

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At the same restaurant as the best greek salad of my life was this amazing lamb dish. It was served with smoking sage rising and twisting it’s way up engulfing every last ounce. The presentation would have been enough, but yes the food tasted just as good as it appeared.

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I have never been one to eat anchovies, however Dustin loves them. We ordered this dish at the pier and although I was not looking forward to it as much as others I ended up loving it. The fish were salty and perfect. The olive oil and onions just made all of the flavors come together.

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Another amazing traditional greek salad. This one had a balsamic glaze on top. We paired it with the dish below.

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Our last meal on the trip. This was a pork dish in a sweet glaze. Tasty, but not my favorite on the trip. What made this meal so memorable though was the view we had while enjoying it. We were in Santorini watching the sunset as we finished off our last bite. A perfect date to end an unforgettable trip.

Health & Fitness Articles of the Week – 05/26/15

In Busy Silicon Valley, Protein Powder Is in Demand– This is one of the more interesting articles I have read of late. I had never heard of the drinkable meal Soylent until reading this article. At 500 calories a serving this meal replacement is suppossed to offer enough nutrients to replace meals. I for one am always skeptical of new products like this, however it will be interesting to see if this is just the begging of a new trend. “Boom times in Silicon Valley call for hard work, and hard work — at least in technology land — means that coders, engineers and venture capitalists are turning to liquid meals with names like Schmoylent, Soylent, Schmilk andPeople Chow. The protein-packed products that come in powder form are inexpensive and quick and easy to make — just shake with water, or in the case of Schmilk, milk. While athletes and dieters have been drinking their dinner for years, Silicon Valley’s workers are now increasingly chugging their meals, too, so they can more quickly get back to their computer work.”

Why Good People Do Bad Things – This article talks about temptation and how if we think about consequences before we are less likely to participate in bad behavior. This could be applied in many ways, including temptation with food.”We think part of the explanation for why people occasionally don’t behave ethically is their failure to confront and realize there’s a temptation,” Sheldon said. In addition to acknowledging the temptation, the study suggests that people have to see it as one they might have to struggle with repeatedly, and that could potentially jeopardize their reputation and integrity.”

5 Rules of Snacking Before Dinner– I for one have this issue. I love snacking. I do it before dinner and I do it after. This means for myself I am usually eating something relatively small for dinner. I love the tips in this article, simple, and easy to follow. I practice quite a few of these myself.

See Spotify Run– Spotify has unveiled a new app to help runners with their music. The app takes music you have listened to previously, takes your running pace, and makes a playlist for you. Spotify has also recently joined forces with Nike, so this is probably just the beginning of a new music/workout segmentation.

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