Huevos Rancheros [Made Healthier]

Yesterday, I had the most irresistible craving for huevos rancheros. Weird, right? I mean, chocolate cravings make sense, so do chip/dip cravings, but huevos rancheros – who craves that?! This girl apparently. You see, when my best friend was visiting the other week, I did what any good New Yorker (yep, that’s right – I just called myself a New Yorker…more on that later) would do and took her to my favorite, guilty-pleasure brunch spot. The pancakes there are ridiculously good. Seriously, no joke. I’m not even a person who orders pancakes for breakfast/brunch. But they are THAT good. Ahh, the suspense is killing you, isn’t it? What is this magical place, you ask? It’s Clinton Street Baking Company & Restaurant, the (unofficial) brunch monarch of Alphabet City. Anyways, we did what any smart best friends would do and split two dishes rather than each getting our own – best of both worlds kind of thing. Now, I’ll be honest and admit that I was a little reluctant at first to share my precious pancakes, but truth be told, it was worth it.

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Our delicious, guilty-pleasure brunch!

My friend ordered the huevos rancheros and since I have never had it before, I didn’t know what to expect, but man was it good! I’m a fan of a smorgasbord of flavors and textures in my food, which is exactly what huevos rancheros delivers. If you don’t know, huevos rancheros (at least the one I devoured at Clinton St. Baking Co.) consists of sunny-side up eggs (which we substituted with scrambled eggs) with red beans, guacamole, jalapeno sour cream, salsa picante, and pepper jack cheese on a flour tortilla. Now you know why I was randomly craving it.

So, I vowed to recreate huevos rancheros in a healthier way.

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Huevos Rancheros [Made Healthier]

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

¼ red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, diced

½ green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium tomato, chopped

½ cup black beans, canned, drained (preferably no salt added or low sodium)

1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

½ tsp paprika

½ tsp chili powder

1 tsp sriracha (optional)

2 6” whole wheat tortillas

2 large eggs (organic and cage-free, preferably)

½ half Haas avocado, sliced

1 lime wedge

1 Tbsp cilantro,diced.

2 Tbsp salsa (optional)

Directions:

In a pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook for 3 minutes, or until they appear translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the green pepper and tomato and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the black beans and spices and cook for about 3 more minutes. Meanwhile, spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and cook the tortillas, one by one, for about 2 minutes. Afterwards, fry each egg as desired. Layer the vegetable and bean mixture onto the tortillas, dividing evenly and squeezing the lime on top, followed by the eggs, avocado and cilantro. And if you want more kick, add salsa on top. And voila, you have a (healthier) huevos ranchero dish!

This dish is great as a weekend breakfast or brunch, or if you’re like me, it’s also delicious as a light dinner. Hope you enjoy! Do you have a favorite huevos rancheros recipe?

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My Summer of Fitness Kick-Off

Since I moved to the city, I have been on a fitness roller coaster, starting at the top and then dropping so low that it was hard to get the momentum going to get back up on the workout wagon. I used every excuse in the book (to myself, of course) – mainly that I was too busy balancing school, work, and life to workout. Well… My mind listened, but my body did not. Not only did I gain a few pounds, but I became really sluggish. So I decided to change that this summer.

With my blogging internship for FiTMAPPED, and just being in New York in the summertime, I’m gaining the momentum that I need to make fitness a bigger part of my life. Luckily, living in such an expensive city has its perks – so many things are free! Whatever you’re into, there’s a festival or some kind of event geared for it. And with NYC being such an active, fitness-obsessed city, there’s fitness and healthy lifestyle events all the time, especially in the summer. And because of that, I’ve dubbed this summer my Summer of Fitness. And hopefully next summer and the summer after that.

And since the summer officially started last Friday, I’m proud to say I’ve been on quite a roll:

Solstice in Times Square: Athleta Mind over Madness, which you can read about here.
Ballet Class at Dokoudovsky New York Conservatory of Dance (as part of Dance Week)
Buns n’ Biscuits Bootcamp and Brunch (you can read about my experience here.)
Pilates Mat Class at Ballet Academy East (as part of Dance Week)
Outdoor fhitting room class (as part of FITiST & Lole Showtique Summer of Fitness at Hudson River Park)
Mid-workday lunch-hour run
Pilates Circuit Class at Studio Anya (as part of dance week)
A nice, 3-mile run passing the Williamsburg, Manhattan, and Brooklyn Bridges (talk about a view!)
Real Ride spin class at Revolve Fitness
One last evening run along the East River (to top it all off)

My favorite workouts of the 10-day kick-off, other than the ones I’ve already written about, would definitely have to be:

the fhitting room’s FHIX class at Hudson River Park

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(source)

This high intensity training class was challenging and fun at the same time. Eric and Ben, the trainers, made sure to introduce themselves to everyone (this is quite impressive given that there were about 70 people in the class), and double-teamed to make sure we sweat ALOT. Interspersed with burpees and planks was a relay-race including sprints, crab walks, bear crawls, you name it. It felt like I was back in 4th grade again, only this time my gym class was filled with fitness fanatics and the “gym teachers” made sure you gave it 110% effort. Of course, I’m sure their classes at the actual studio are even more intense, and I would love to try them out there as well.

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(a sweaty and wide-eyed me with the trainers)

Pilates Circuit Class at Studio Anya

The minute I walked into Studio Anya, I was captivated by the zen atmosphere. The Pilates Circuit class was no joke, and I’m not proud to say my former experience in Pilates classes and the reformer did not prepare me for this, probably because my core hasn’t been worked like this in quite a while. Pilates has a fabulous way of activating muscles from their very core, rather than on a superficial level. The circuit class included exercises on the reformer, wall, and chair, all which worked different muscle groups and in different ways. Following the class,  I had a greater sense of my alignment and more control of my core.

Studio Anya(source)

Real Ride spin class at Revolve Fitness

This class was INTENSE! Taught by Kristin Kenney, who is HUGE in the fitness world, this class was no joke. I was dripping sweat almost immediately. She led us through a stimulated route in Sicily, and we alternated between high resistance and high speed. There were times when I was struggling, but Kristin had a great way of motivating everyone to keep going, so I tried my best to give 100% effort throughout the entire workout. 

Revolve Fitness(source)

What I’ve learned from the past 10 days: always give everything you do 100%. The best workouts I had was when I stopped holding back and just went for it. I never realized how strong my tendency was to hold back and conserve energy, but what I realize now is that its not worth it. There’s a fine balance between conserving energy for endurance and going all out for intensity.

This is just the start to my Summer of Fitness, but I’m confident that it will give me the motivation I need to keep going. Are you making this YOUR Summer of Fitness as well? Let me know!

Solstice in Times Square: Athleta Mind Over Madness

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(All my fellow Times Square yogis)

Can you believe it’s already summer? Where has the time gone? It feels like I just moved to the city a few weeks ago, not months ago. Ahhh! I kicked off my the first day of my (first!) summer in the Big Apple by taking off of work early and heading to Times Square to do some yoga. In the middle of Times Square. Yep, you read that right. In the middle of the mayhem, part of the hectic, tourist-invaded Times Square. Mind over Madness, right?

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(My sweet new yoga mat from Athleta)

Athleta teamed up with the Times Square Alliance to provide free yoga classes led by master yoga instructors throughout the day, in honor of the first and longest day of summer – the summer solstice. The first 1200 people received a free yoga mat and an Athleta goodie bag (hence me leaving work early). The yoga areas were sectioned off so that tourists couldn’t walk all over us while we were doing our savasanas, but that didn’t stop them from taking pictures – I can only imagine how many random Facebook albums I’m going to be in doing a Warrior pose!

But once the session started, the tourists were forgotten about, and my mind started to take over the madness. During my session, I was lucky enough to have Colleen Saidman Yee and Rodney Yee leading the yoga class. They were great teachers and complemented each other in a very harmonious way. And since we were in the middle of Times Square, their voices had to be projected via jumbo-trons, which almost reminded me of the Hunger Games (don’t ask), but in a good, peaceful, meditative-Hunger Games kind of way. I guess a better way of describing it would be that the sky was telling me to breathe in and out as I flowed through the poses. Still weird? Oh well, you get the drift.

At one point, Colleen said, “You have to be grounded in order to fly,” and this definitely resonated with me. How many times in dance class have I been told to be more grounded? Too many to count. And I feel like, in life, everyone could benefit tremendously from being more grounded.

All in all, it was an amazing experience, leaving me rejuvenated as I battled my way out of Times Square.

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(Mind over Madness)

How did YOU spend the first day of summer? Let me know in the comments below!

Two-Ingredient Banana Pancakes

You know that Jack Johnson song, “Banana Pancakes?” It’s one of my favorite rainy day songs, and always makes me want banana pancakes. No matter what time of the day it is. Heck, it makes me think that if I were eating banana pancakes, the rainy day wouldn’t be so bad. And today feels like a rainy day, in fact, I’m 60% sure (according to my phone) that it’s going to rain sometime later today, most likely at a time when I need to trek outside to get to my next destination, most likely in a way that will leave me absolutely drenched. And so, to keep from getting upset at the possibility of an unfortunate rain, I’m going to think about banana pancakes. And you should too. Why, you ask?

Well, what if I told you that I had a banana pancake recipe that wouldn’t break your calorie bank? And that it was high in protein, and [gasp] had no wheat (meaning gluten-free for all my gluten-sensitive friends)? And, as if you’re somehow not convinced yet, that it takes less than 10 minutes and 2 ingredients to make? Are you sold yet? I thought so.

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Two-Ingredient Banana Pancakes:

Makes 1 serving of pancakes

1 ripe banana

2 eggs

*cinnamon, dash (optional, but HIGHLY recommended)

*Another optional add-in: crushed walnuts – to up the healthy fat content of these pancakes and keep you full longer.

In a small bowl, mash the banana with a fork. Add the two eggs (and cinnamon, if you dare), and whisk the ingredients together with the fork. Spray a heated pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon a desired amount of the “batter” onto the pan and cook until golden brown. And try, just to make this little nutrition fanatic friend of yours happy, NOT to pour syrup or any sweetener on your pancakes. Your body will thank you for it!

What’s your favorite rainy day meal? Comment below and let me know!

Sunday Morning (or any morning!) French Toast with Homemade Raspberry Sauce

Welp. It’s not Sunday, but life has been a whirlwind and will continue to be a whirlwind all week (a good whirlwind though – no worries). But I couldn’t resist and I HAVE to share this recipe. It’s simple AND satisfying, and one of my favorite weekend breakfast/brunch dishes. Or any day that I’m not rushing through my morning routine.

I’m sure you read the words “French toast” and thought of the typical indulgent breakfast favorite that is sure to leave you with a sugar rush rather than setting you up for the day. I’m not going to lie, French toast is one of my brunch weaknesses. But, I have to admit, it’s usually more of a dessert than a well-balanced breakfast dish, drenched in syrup and topped with even more sugar-laden goodies.

So, of course, I had to recreate it. I mean, a girl with a love for French toast simply can’t go without for too long, am I right? But you won’t find any added sugars in this recipe…what you will find is a well-balanced breakfast, complete with whole grains + fiber, complete protein, healthy fats, and fruit + antioxidants.

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Sunday Morning French Toast with Homemade Raspberry Sauce:

Makes 1 serving

1 piece of whole-grain bread

1 large egg

1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen

2 Tbsp almonds, chopped or slivered

dash of cinnamon, to taste

Whisk the egg and cinnamon together in a bowl. Soak the bread in the egg mixture, flip over and soak the other side. Spray a heated pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place and cook the bread in the pan until golden brown. Flip and cook the other side. Meanwhile, in a heated pan, toast the almonds until they are golden-brown, 2-3 minutes. Microwave the raspberries for: 30 seconds if they are fresh, 45-60 seconds if they are frozen. The raspberries should melt and form a sauce, but still be mostly intact. Top the French toast with the raspberries and almonds. And voila, you have healthy French toast that is firm on the outside, soft on the inside, creamy and crunchy on top, and both cinnamon-y and with a naturally sweetness from the raspberries. Delish!

What’s your favorite healthy Sunday morning breakfast? Leave a comment and let me know!

The Weekend Update with Alena

Happy Friday everyone!

Though the weather in New York is anything but pleasant at the moment, this weekend is swarming with fitness events happening in the city. You can read all about them in my blog post for the FiTMAPPED Blog here.

I, myself, am planning on attending the Buns n’ Biscuits event, which combines bootcamp and brunch (who can say no to brunch?) and the Wanderlust Yoga in the City event, which features outdoor yoga classes taught by local instructors, live music, and post-savasana dance parties, taking yoga to another dimension.

What fitness events stand out to you? What do you do to keep fit on the weekends? Comment below and let me know!

The 5-Minute, Out-the-Door, Summer Salad

Think you don’t have time in the morning to prep your lunch for the day? Think again.

I must admit, I’ve been lacking in the “food-prep-the-night-before” department this week. Sure, on Sunday I had good intentions and cooked a large batch of wild rice meant to last an entire week, chopped up a few fresh vegetables, and bagged up pre-measured carrots and almonds to grab as hunger-striking snacks throughout the week. But alas, it is Thursday and and no, yesterday I neither prepped my breakfast OR my lunch for today. Yikes! Eating out for lunch today certainly didn’t fall into my [NYC-dwelling, NYU-student] budget so I had to think fast. And that I did. I grabbed the cutting board and the most accessible vegetables in my refrigerator and went in a chopping frenzy. All together, this salad literally took 5 minutes to throw together.

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The 5-Minute, Out-the-Door, Summer Salad:

Makes 1 salad
1 small cucumber, diced
2 radishes, sliced 
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
1 vine-ripened tomato, chopped
1/2 cup spinach
1/4 cup light feta cheese, cubed
1 Tbsp Tessemae’s Lemonette Dressing*

Layer the ingredients in a to-go container as follows (from bottom to top): dressing, cucumber, radishes, tomato, feta cheese, spinach. When you’re ready to eat, shake the container with all your might (or just shake it normally…the end product is the same).

*Usually I make my own dressing, but Tessemae’s dressings are a great alternative to homemade dressings. They’re all vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free (READ: paleo-friendly), and can be found in select Whole Foods stores.

If you want to make your own lemon dressing, however, no need to fret. It’s simple and easy:

In a small dish, combine 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 lemon (juiced), 1 clove of garlic (diced), and a pinch of black peppercorn. Whip the ingredients with a fork, and you’re good to go. See, that wasn’t too bad, was it?

From start to finish, the salad took me less than 5 minutes to put together. And, might I add, it was delicious, filling, and healthy, just like lunch should be.

What are your favorite quick and healthy lunches? Leave me a comment and let me know!