Travel Food: Making Smart Choices

Business trips are notorious for being glutton-fests. Not just in my industry but across the board. Google ‘Business Travel Healthy Eating’ and you’ll find a whole slew of articles and blog posts offering tips to ‘keep on track’ while you travel.

I fall prey to these notions too – we have to eat out because we’re traveling (wrong), it’s a special occasion! Get the fries! (wrong), we have to order/drink a beer/wine/mixed drink at dinner (wrong). Eating and being healthy away from home can be done – it takes a bit more planning but it’s very possible.

Because I usually am a bit more lax about what I eat and drink when I travel and I’m going to be away from home for 10 days this trip, I committed to myself before I left that I was going to make smart and healthy choices as much as possible.

To start, I packed some snacks in my bag for the airport and the week.


Last time I traveled, I asked you guys for new travel snack ideas – you said: nuts, apples (Calee), dehydrated fruit, jerky (Rochelle, Lauren) and granola bars (Poptart Yogini). I took heed and this time brought:

  • Fruit: bananas, apple, strawberries
  • 6 bags of Celestial Seasonings Wellness tea (not a coffee fan!)
  • 4 Kind bars
  • Sliced almonds
  • 2 brownies

Y’all were spot on with your recommendations! I ate a banana and the strawberries at the airport; the second banana held up well for 1 day (ate Sunday morning). Kind bars, apple and almonds have come in handy for a quick, healthy snack throughout the day.

When I got to Nashville on Saturday, our team had to hit up the grocery store for some other provisions and I took the opportunity to grab some yogurt and natural peanut butter cups.

I’m eating the yogurt for breakfast and supplementing with fruit from the hotel restaurant. The peanut butter cups have been excellent for mid-day snacks. (I love that it’s ‘all natural’ peanut butter too – only 4 ingredients!)

The real challenge for me when traveling for work is eating out. I’m really terrible at making ‘healthy’ choices when I’m out to eat. To me, eating out is a treat so I feel like I should treat myself. If I ate out only every once-in-a-while, that’d be an okay mentality to have. But eating out on business trips is a majority of my meals so I need to be more mindful about my food.

On Saturday night, we were busy with work stuff until 9:30 p.m. I was too tired to head out with the others and look for food so instead, I ordered room service (First time ever!). I REALLY wanted a cheeseburger but re-evaluated and ordered the Herb Grilled Chicken Sandwich.

For the same price as the burger, I got 2 large pieces of juicy chicken and french fries. A hotel burger is a hotel burger – I’ll save mine for a really great burger.

Sunday night was another dinner out – this time at a seafood/steak diner. Instead of french fries, I ordered a side of steamed broccoli and a salad for my sides.

Lunch at an Italian restaurant was veggie flatbread and a side salad.

Finally, so many business dinners and deals revolve around a drink – we take clients out for a drink, all of the conference functions hand out drink tickets, golfers were drinking beer on the course on Sunday morning. For conference attendees, these events are their one trip out of the office – a chance to cut loose. I get it and usually I participate – it’s expected. Not to get drunk but to entertain the clients.

I’m realizing it’s possible to pass on the alcohol without making anyone feel uncomfortable (why does it make people uncomfortable to have a beer with someone who isn’t also drinking?! I will never understand this).  Full disclosure: I did have a beer on golf course when offered. A Fat Tire and it tasted heavenly on a hot, humid Tennessee morning. And this (non-alcoholic) Sangria flavored push pop.

I’m not writing this to tell anyone how they should eat when they travel – you do what works best for you!

But this trip I wanted to change my usual travel behavior to be smarter and healthier about what I’m eating. And I’m really proud of myself so far – I wanted fries with my shrimp the other night but passed on it for a salad. I wanted a pepperoni pizza for lunch yesterday but knew I needed some veggies instead. I’m choosing better-for-me foods and my body is feeling really great.

Tonight, the real challenge will start – I head to Cincinnati for a weekend of celebrating and wedding appointments! Between my sister’s college graduation, final tastings of wedding food and cakes (yum!) and a bridal shower for me!

I will make smart choices, I will make smart choices, I will make smart choices.

Travel: Working on Sunday

It’s offically Monday. For me, the past 2 days have felt like Monday! Usually if I travel for work it’s on a Monday (this time, Saturday to Nashville) and I spent a full day working a golf event and then getting our company’s booth set up at our conference. My internal clock is all out of whack!

For working on a Sunday, I couldn’t complain too much.

Improvised spoon

I set up at a hole on the course and handed out little containers of sunscreen and water bottles with these fancy slap-koozies. Remember the slap bracelets of the 90s? Yeah, like that. They were a hit.

So as the rest of y’all enjoy your Monday for being a Monday, I’m enjoying my Monday trying to remember that it’s not Wednesday.


Fitness: Yoga Helps

This week has been nuts-o in lgsmash-land. Today, right now, I’m on day 1 of a 10 day trip – part work conference in Nashville, part work-from-home in Cincinnati. And as I type this at 11 p.m. on Friday night, I’m not packed at all yet.

My Friday did not go as planned – I took off from work after lunch to take care of personal and work errands for this trip but nothing went as planned and each errand took longer than it should have. Everything on Friday did not go as planned and really got to me. It’s one thing to have a stressful day in regular life but the added stress of being gone for the next 10 days got to me and I had a mini-breakdown. Sometimes a good cry just feels good.

I did cry on Friday. I gave myself 20 minutes to feel sad and sorry for myself, to get it all out and leave the tears on my shirt. At the end of those 20 minutes, I picked myself up, splashed water on my face and walked out the door for yoga class.

Only, my yoga capris were on inside out. And backwards. And I couldn’t help but to chuckle and thank the universe for giving me a smile after a rough afternoon.

I knew Friday was going to be stressful and had looked at the CorePower Yoga schedule early in the day – yoga is a magic ‘de-stresser’ for me and I knew I’d feel better post-class.

I went to the 5:15 p.m. class and set my intention to ‘Let Go’. Let go of all the stress, all of the distractors, all of the worry, all of the chaos. Our teacher guided us through with the intention that we should enjoy the journey and not rush to the destination – it was a perfect meld of messages.

Leaving yoga, I was refreshed and my mind was calm. I only had a few errands to take care of Friday evening – but only a few errands! Obstacles and tasks went from huge mountain ranges at 3 p.m. to gentle mounds to walk over by 6:30 p.m.

Yoga helps me realign my PERSPECTIVE (<– a word I’ve been forgetting recently). Yoga helps strengthen the power of positive thinking, of intention. Yoga helps calm and soothe. Yoga helps me conquer big and small issues in my life.

Today is day 1 of 10 crazy days. But post-Friday-night-yoga-class? I’m ready. Bring it, travel!

Food: Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

You know that one dessert that never fails to exceed your expectations and put a smile on your face? These brownies are it for me. In college, a roommate made them once and I was instantly hooked – they are so rich and thick and peanut buttery!

They really need a better name than Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies – the name does NOT do these babies justice.

I’ve made these brownies 3 times since that first fateful taste. Based on this recipe by Ina Garten, it’s kind of labor of love to make these heavenly treat but well worth it. 


And really, I should only make half of the recipe because it is supposed to make a full 12×18 pan of chocolately peanut butter goodness. I don’t have a pan that size so I improvised with 1 13×9 and 1 8×8. WAY more brownies than our apartment needs!


But that hasn’t stopped us from eating ’em.

(To be fair, I’ve given 1 row of brownies to friends at work)

If you’re looking for an extra special treat to share, make these. They are not healthy by ANY means but DAMN are they excellent!


  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter


  1. Preheat oven to 350; butter & flour a 12×18 pan (or 13×9 and 8×8)
  2. Melt butter, 1 lb chocolate chips, unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water; allow to cool
  3. In a large bowl, stir: eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, sugar; stir in warm chocolate mixture & allow to cool to room temperature
  4. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt; stir into chocolate mixture
  5. Toss 12 oz of chocolate chips in 1/4c of flour to coat the chocolate; stir into chocolate mixture
  6. Spread chocolate mixture into your baking pan(s); spoon peanut butter on chocolate mixture and cut the peanut butter through the batter with a knife
  7. Bake for 20 mins; rap baking sheets against oven shelf (or kitchen counter); bake for 10-15 mins additional (or until a toothpick comes clean)


(Corrie – I’m so glad our house doesn’t do Cookie Friday – I admire your baking but, man!, if I had a pan of brownies laying around each week…. bad news!)

Fun: Bon Iver!

Tonight, I’m going to Red Rocks to see BON IVER! and FEIST! I can hardly contain myself!

For those that don’t know Bon Iver, you may like their/his song Skinny Love – it was his breakout single a few years ago. So good.

And whether you know Bon Iver or not, everyone will enjoy this SNL skit (Justin Timberlake as Bon Iver at the end).

This song, Holocene, has been on repeat on my phone for the past 3 days. My fingers are crossed I hear it tonight!

Fitness: Memorial Day Weekend Hiking

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer across America and in Colorado, that means hiking, camping and all things mountains! Some of my friends hiked (or tried to hike!) 14ers (Heather, Paula, Heidi), others camped (Courtney, Lauren, Liz). My weekend was slightly less ambitious but it did involve some mountain time!

Our friend (and Alex’s best man), Alex V, recently moved to Albuquerque and drove up for the weekend. It’s very fitting to spend the weekend with Alex V. because he’s an officer in the Army. Coincidentally, we also got to spend last Memorial Day with Alex – a trend, I hope!

This weekend, we wanted to take Alex and a couple of my Alex’s friends (co-worker + co-worker’s visitor) who are newish to Colorado on a hike that would be really cool. Usually, I take my visiting friend’s and family to Boulder – it’s close to Denver and a relatively easy hike. Alex had a different idea – St. Mary’s Glacier.

We hiked (and glacaded!) this trail in March for Birthdaycation so I was pretty excited to see what the trail looked like without snow!

No snow!

This hike is pretty easy for non-altitude lungs. It is 3/4 mile to the glacier (only 1/2 to the glacier lake) and is sometimes steep but not super challenging.

(vs. March)

It was a warm hike (~60*) – no coats needed his time! We brought our pup, Philly, and even she was feeling the heat. She ran straight for the lake to cool off.

The dog had a blast on the glacier – we let her off her leash for a bit and she swam, ran and explored nearby. It’s so refreshing to see our very skittish dog have fun and wag her tail.

We hiked the additional 1/4 mile to and up the glacier and looked back.

(^^ click photo for full screen panoramic)

On Monday, after Alex V. had left for Albuquerque, Alex and I decided to head out to Golden for a short hike. He and Alex V. are meeting next weekend in Alamosa to backpack and camp so my Alex wanted to take his pack and new clothes for a hike to ensure it all ‘works.’

Now, I fully understand and endorse trying your equipment before a big trip – but this hike is the culmination of WEEKS of practice packing, unpacking, repacking and pack weighing. Every night, Alex spends about 30-45 minutes sitting on the floor, tinkering with his bag. It was great to see the pack finally in use after all that practice. :)

We hiked a trail just outside Golden, Colorado called Mt. Galbraith Park. We hiked 1.3 miles on the Cedar Gulch Trail into the Mt. Galbraith loop. The loop is 1.6 miles around but we decided to only hike part of the way around before turning around. We’d already hiked 40 minutes, the afternoon was getting late and Alex and I were both getting hungry. It took us about 1 hour and 11 minutes to hike 3.15 miles.

This was our turnaround point. After meeting a friend earlier that morning for a self-directed bootcamp at Red Rocks, I my legs were more than tired and I was very happy to turn around.

But while we’re talking about hiking – I found the most awesome hiking pants at REI last weekend! I’ve never hiked more than a few miles but plan to start hiking longer trails, conquering a 14er or two this summer, backpacking and camping.

We stopped at REI this weekend so the Alex’s could shop for more camping/backpacking equipment (surprise!) so I took the opportunity to try a few pairs of hiking pants on. I immediately understood the value in owning a pair of these pants – they’re light-weight, made of ripstop material (won’t tear!) and are really cute!

I loved these Columbia Just Right Modern Pants with a drawstring pant leg.

I also tried on an REI pair that I liked a lot that rolled up instead of drawstrings. I passed on both pants this trip and opted to buy a camping/backpacking/casual jacket instead. I’ve still got a few weeks before I’ll need hiking pants but I can use the jacket now.

Summer is definitely my favorite season in Colorado and I’m so happy to spend my first summer with Alex in Colorado – it’s the first year I can finally take advantage of everything Colorado has to offer and we’ve got big summer plans!

Wedding Wednesday: Living Together Before Marriage

Wedding Wednesday is a feature on my blog documenting our wedding planning process – thoughts, reflections, ideas, milestones. Follow along as we plan a wedding in our home city of Cincinnati while we live in Denver.

Living together before marriage seems to be something people feel very strongly about, one way or the other. I’ve felt strongly both ways and, ultimately, ended up with a compromise.

In college, I felt set in stone that I would live together with a boyfriend/fiance before we got married – how else would you know what it was like post-marriage?! If you could live harmoniously, if his living habits would mesh with mine, if we were on the same page with keeping things clean? Sure, you can see how someone lives when you spend a lot of time with them and see their own apartment but it’s not the same as LIVING with someone.

I have a distinct memory of an early date with Alex at Maccaroni Grill and we had a frank discussion about living together before marriage. Not that we were even thinking of our own marriage at that point but we were going to a wedding and I knew the bride and groom hadn’t lived together. At the time, I thought that was absurd and wanted to talk about it. I was pro-living together while Alex was firmly against it.

Fast forward 3-4 years and we’re out of college. I’m living on my own in Denver (Alex is in Cincinnati, Milwaukee or Florida – depending on the year). As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen friends live together with boyfriends they thought they would be with forever and then watched the relationship end. I’ve thought a lot about what I want for my life and my relationship and my feelings shift from WE-HAVE-TO-LIVE-TOGETHER-BEFORE-MARRIAGE! to not really being a fan of the idea.

Pos-college, I’d decided that I absolutely did NOT want to live together before marriage – have you seen the divorce rate of couples who co-habitate before marriage?! But more than that, I loved the idea that after we got married, we’d start our new life together in a new space to both of us. It would outwardly symbolize the ending of our lives separately and the joining of our lives together. Old fashioned but romantic to me.

During our many conversations about how we would finally end our long distance relationship (pre-engagement), I made it clear to Alex that if he moved to Denver or I moved to Milwaukee or Florida, I expected we wouldn’t live together – I could find roommates! He could have his own apartment and settle into life in Denver! I didn’t want to live together if we were just dating.

Last July, after we got engaged, the game changed and so did my opinion of our expected living situation. We were facing the reality of ending the LDR and (finally!) getting in the same city. With Alex quitting a job, the both of us paying to move him across the country and finding a new job, the expenses were adding up and it didn’t make sense to tack on the cost of a second apartment as well. We mutually decided that living together in my apartment was the best choice for us.

I felt very comfortable with Alex moving in – we were engaged and were committed to making our relationship and living arrangements work. Being engaged meant that if it got hard, we’d have to work through the hard parts – neither of us could bail. It made financial and emotional sense to both of us. So in September, after moving from Florida, Alex moved in with me.

It’s funny to think about how set I was on my views before we were engaged – it was either black or white for me. But now that we’ve lived together post-engagement, pre-marriage, I have to say that I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’m glad we didn’t wait until after we are married because in these past 9 months, we’ve worked through a lot of the ‘growing pains’ of living together.

Both of us had lived on our own (no roommates) for the past 2 years so having another person in our space, all of the time, and adjusting to his mode of operations took some time. But I’m so glad we’ve worked out those kinks pre-marriage so that after the BIG DAY (3 months!!!), we are already past bickering about the stupid stuff and are into the enjoying living together part.

By no means am I knocking anyone who does live with their partner pre-engagement/marriage – I know many couples who live together happily and harmoniously without the ring and that is awesome! Each person and relationship needs to examine what their views are and what works for them!

Food: Cookbooks & Paleo Clam Linguine

A couple of weeks ago, Alex and I walked up the street to Barnes and Noble to spend the evening browsing books. He looked at hiking/camping/backpacking books while I made my way to the cookbooks. I’m not very good at cooking things from my brain – I like having a recipe to follow – so perusing cookbooks/food blogs helps me understand new ways I can cook an ingredient or mix certain flavors together.

So when I found some Paleo cookbooks, I pulled a couple off the shelf and flipped through. I’m not a hardcore paleo eater but I do try to stick to the principles as often as possible. My favorite book was The Food Lovers Make It Paleo. I read the Clam ‘Linguine’ recipe and made a note to try it at home. It looked too easy!

With this past weekend being the unofficial start to summer, I wanted to kick off the summer grilling season with this meal on Friday. We always grill burgers, chicken, sausage, veggies but grilling clams was a new adventure for us.

(Recipe here)

The recipe swaps linguine noodles for spaghetti squash but when there was no spaghetti squash to buy at the store, I decided to try cucumber ‘spaghetti’.

I took one cucumber (regular sized – this plate is small) sliced it length-wise and then sliced those pieces length-wise again.

I was really excited about the clams in this recipe. My dad used to make us spaghetti + clam sauce as a kid and I haven’t had clams at home in a long, long time. I bought 12 ‘small’ fresh clams (they were pretty big for small clams!) from our local grocery store and fired up the grill!

I just put these guys on the grill and let them cook for about 10 minutes. As they cooked, the clams popped open.

It worked!

(FYI: any clams that are opened before grilling/cooking, do not eat! Any clams that don’t open during cooking, do not eat!)

I pulled the clams off the grill and added to the ‘linguine’ I made before grilling the clams (cucumber spaghetti, asparagus, mushrooms, shallots, garlic).

This meal was excellent! With no seasoning on the clams, they kicked ass. So fresh and flavorful!

Clams are definitely on my radar – they’re a bit pricey ($0.89 per clam) but they’re a nice change-up to my normal meals. 10 minutes on the grill and they’re cooked!

And that, my friends, is the beauty of cookbooks and food blogs – new meals and inspirations!

Food: It's Better Homemade

Some things are just better when you make them yourself.

I like making dinner, desserts, snacks at home because I know exactly what I’m putting into it and exactly what I’m eating. I’m not over the top about label checking or stressing about what I’m eating when I eat out but I do appreciate the value eating homemade brings. Especially when it’s super easy, too!

This week I’m enjoying 2 homemade treats and am making a very delicious homemade dinner and dessert tonight. But let’s get to the good stuff – snacks!

First – homemade peanut butter ‘cups’

These are so easy to make! I used a mini-cupcake pan so they’d be ‘bite-sized’.


  • Chocolate chips / chocolate of your choice for melting
  • Peanut butter


  1. Melt 1/2 bag of chocolate on the stove; I used 14 oz dark chocolate disks meant to be used in food ‘crafts’ and candy making.
  2. Spoon melted chocolate into bottom of cupcake spaces and shake tray so chocolate sets evenly; place in fridge to set for 30 minutes or until firm.
  3. Spoon a dab of peanut butter on firm chocolate in cupcake spaces – the amount and type of peanut butter is up to you. I used Kroger brand Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter.
  4. Melt rest of chocolate and spoon over peanut butter and shake tray again to set evenly; place in fridge for 30 minutes or until firm.
  5. Pop your peanut butter cups out of the tray and Enjoy!

** Store in the refrigerator! These melt quickly at room temperature. Natural peanut butter has zero preservatives in it so at room temperature, it becomes runny. I imagine this is the same reason why the chocolate melts in your hand (and mouth!).

You can use either a stove or microwave to melt your chocolate. Last time I made these, I used a microwave.

I do suggest that you use enough chocolate to cover the entire base of the treat. I initially left mine with some peanut butter showing and it was TOO gooey and very messy. When removing from the tray, I had to use a knife to pop these babies out.

I really like that these have 2 ingredients – melted chocolate and natural peanut butter.

 The second snack I’ve been enjoying is popcorn!

I’m sure no one is surprised. I’ve declared my love for stove-top popcorn on my blog before – I love that I can make it how I want to and that there’s no crazy ‘butter’ stuck to the side of the microwave popcorn bag. What is that stuff anyway?!

When I initially posted about stove top popcorn, some of you let me in on a little tip – I can make my stove-top popcorn in the microwave! This week, I tried it.

It worked! My mind is blown and my life is changed.. and I wish I was being dramatic!


  • 1/4 cup Popcorn kernels
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • Popcorn salt or other flavoring of your choice


  1. Place kernels in a brown lunch paper bag.
  2. Add oil and salt/seasoning to the bag and shake it up.
  3. Fold the top of the brown bag over a couple of times and staple shut.
  4. Place in microwave and microwave on high for 2+ minutes. (Bag will be oily – I put a paper towel under the bag to keep the microwave clean)
  5. Like with any bag of popcorn, remove from microwave when popping slows. (In my work microwave, this was about 1 minute)
  6. Shake it up, cut off the stapled part of the bag, let cool and devour.


I didn’t measure any of my ingredients for my experiment – I used the end of my bag of popcorn (a bit less than 1/4 cup) and the end of my canola oil (a bit more than 1 Tbsp). It was too much oil I think – the bag was really wet – but I put it on a plate to keep my desk from getting dirty.

Part of the beauty of this super easy microwave popcorn is that if you don’t finish the bag in one sitting, you can fold over the paper bag again and save it for later. I made my popcorn on Wednesday and am eating the rest today – tastes just as great! The other part is that I can make homemade popcorn in the microwave. I don’t have to make it the night before and bring it in anymore!

 What homemade snacks and treats do you love to make? Do share!

Wedding Wednesday: Honeymoon Booked

Wedding Wednesday is a feature on my blog documenting our wedding planning process – thoughts, reflections, ideas, milestones. Follow along as we plan a wedding in our home city of Cincinnati while we live in Denver.

We did it! We booked honeymoon flights!

Where, oh, where are we headed?

Seattle, WA!

We tossed around a few ideas (Costa Rica was a very close contender) but ultimately settled on a trip to the Pacific Northwest. It’s a part of the country that neither Alex or I have been before so it’ll be a lot of fun to explore new cities and mountains together. And we’ve heard that fall in the Pacific Northwest doesn’t suck, either.

When honeymoon talk first came up in our conversations, Alex pulled for the Pacific Northwest while I argued for Costa Rica. I felt strongly that we should do something ‘bigger’ than the Pacific Northwest for our honeymoon. We are not really sit-at-the-beach-for-a-week people. It’s nice for a day or two but it’s not our dream vacation. Costa Rica offers relaxing beach time but also active tourism (volcanoes, surfing, trails to hike, ziplining, scuba, etc). And we could pick an all inclusive resort where we wouldn’t have to worry about food or drinks. After all this wedding planning, not making more decisions sounds heavenly.

But a conversation I had at Blend with Lauren put my squarely on Team Seattle. She and her husband Greg went to the Pacific Northwest for their honeymoon (similar time of year, too) and they had so many great things to say.  They gave me recommendations for where to stay, what we should definitely check out, what to avoid.

The more we thought about it, the more sense the Pacific Northwest makes for us this year:

  • Reasonably priced flights: 2 tickets on Frontier were just slightly more expensive than 1 ticket to CR (and Frontier hooked us up with upgraded seats for our honeymoon!!!!).
  • Mountains + sea: we love hiking and being outdoors and already have a few hikes planned!
  • Beer: we love beer (we homebrew!) and we love drinking local beer. Lots of breweries in Seattle & Portland (and lots of wineries too!).
  • Seafood & local food: yum! Super fresh seafood is a real treat.
  • Weather: September should be excellent weather in Seattle – CR/Caribbean is rainy and it’s hurricane season in September; we’ll go to CR for spring break next year instead.

So last week, we bought our tickets and we are confirmed to go!

Now, we’d like your tips! Lauren and a few other Twitter friends (Hi Kristie!) have hooked us up with GREAT suggestions – but we’d love to hear your suggestions too! Any breweries you love? Must try restaurants? Things not to miss while we visit? Super swanky hotel we can stay at on our first night in Seattle??