Waste Not: Chickpea Juice for Dessert

During this strange, strange time in our collective history, one smart way to make each shopping trip stretch just a little bit longer is to reroute some previously discarded food scraps into future meals.

You know, like turning your once-wasted kale stems into pesto or pickles. Or saving your carrot peelings and onion skins in a freezer bag to simmer into stock. Or, if you’re a die-hard thriftster like me, collecting the three tablespoons of rock salt at the bottom of the jumbo-sized pretzel tub and using it as a finishing salt on savory dishes. Don’t judge me.

She’s judging me, isn’t she.

But there are some throw-away food scraps that simply can’t be turned into palatable dishes, like banana peels. Or egg shells. Or the “juice” from a can of chickpeas. OR SO I THOUGHT. *dramatic mic drop*

Folks, as crazy as it may sound, the leftover water from in a can of garbanzo beans is the perfect ingredient for making – stick with me here – super decadent chocolate mousse.

I know, right?

Canned chickpea juice, smartly rebranded as “aquafaba,” or bean water, by a savvy marketing team somewhere, has been a staple of vegan pastry chefs for years. Because of its texture and the way it whips into peaks, it’s an easy substitute for eggs in dishes needed air bubbles and lift.

I’d been hearing about aquafaba for some time, but it wasn’t until a global pandemic forced me to double down on my depression-era frugality and I finally put it to the test. And man, was it worth it.

I basically followed this recipe, except I didn’t have cream of tartar, so I swapped in a half teaspoon of lemon juice to help stabilize the stiff peaks. The second time I made it (proof that it was good enough to repeat!), I used freshly squeezed orange juice instead.

Here’s how it worked:

  1. Melt almost a cup of chocolate chips/chunks in a double boiler. I used dark chocolate ones, but milk would probably work. Let it cool, for real, like 20 minutes.
  2. Whip the liquid from a can of chickpeas in a stand mixer if you have one (will take 4-5 minutes) with 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, or, if you’re me, a half teaspoon of citrus juice. Mix until it turns white and forms stiff peaks (i.e. you can flip the bowl over the stuff doesn’t fall out.) You can also do this with a hand mixer but it will take a whole lot longer, the internet tells me.
  3. Add the melted chocolate to the mixer on low. Scrape down the sides to mix it together.
  4. Pour into bowls and cool in fridge an hour+.
  5. Amaze your friends.
6. Lick bowl.

Now if only I couldn’t figure out how to reuse those banana peels.

Hey, New Runners: You’re Doing It Wrong

For better or for worse, this whole quarantine situation has many of us trying out things we’d never even imagined back in the ancient era of February.

For some, that means cooking at home instead of ordering delivery or streaming a workout instead of hitting the gym. For others, that means home-schooling children while fielding sales calls or cultivating your own sourdough starter as yeast goes scarce. From baking a red velvet cake in a crockpot (my brother) to planting radishes from seeds (me) to drinking bleach (NO ONE! PLEASE DON’T DO THIS, EVEN IF THE PRESIDENT SAYS IT’S OKAY!), we’re all testing out previously unthinkable new hobbies and recipes and pastimes in an effort to stay sane.

Heck, even Lucille has traded her salon visits for DIY blowouts.

“Do not expect a tip.”

And what if, during this strange time, you’ve picked up running?

First of all, welcome! It’s a wonderful sport, which, if done right, can relieve stress and nervous energy while allowing you to stay socially distant.

Second of all, you might be doing it wrong. (I’m sorry, but someone had to say it.)

Now I don’t mean you might be wearing the wrong shoes (you can fix that) or ramping up mileage too quickly (you can fix that) or passing your neighbors a little too closely for comfort (you can fix that, too.) No, the biggest mistake new runners are making in abundance – and I know because I see it daily with my own two eyes, or four eyes when I wear glasses – is running on the wrong side of the street.

In case you didn’t know (and it’s not your fault! They don’t teach this in drivers’ ed!), proper running etiquette dictates that when you exercise on the roadway, you always walk or run AGAINST traffic. That means in the U.S., on the left side of the street, in the U.K., on the right side of the street, and on the moon, no rules.

I am a (U.S.- based) artist.

Facing incoming traffic may sound counter-intuitive to those of us more used to riding in cars than logging miles by foot, but there’s good reason for it: If you’re running in the shoulder and need to step into the street quickly to avoid a pothole or stick or roadkill, you can easily become roadkill yourself when the cars are approaching from behind.

It’s much, much safer to see them coming toward you – that way, you can choose when it’s a good time to edge further into the roadway to avoid an obstacle, or when to step deeper into the grass if they’re passing a little too closely or – most importantly – when to offer a smile, nod and wave to any magnificent driver who slows down and gives you a little extra space as they pass. Bless you.

Once you get the correct-side-of-the-road-thing right (or left, if you’re in the U.S.! Homonym jokes!), the rest is easy. Lace up, get out there, and move. Congratulations: You’re now a runner!

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Join the club!

 

We’re All in a Pickle Here

If I learned anything last year, it’s that people LOVE to ask pregnant women what they’re craving.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t give the people what they wanted for I wasn’t really craving anything at all. It was actually the opposite: I’d suddenly developed a severe aversion to all vegetables.

“That’s such a strange coincidence,” my cousin JJ quipped when I told him. “I’ve had that same symptom for the last 30 years!”

But really, all the things pregnant women are supposed to want just didn’t do it for me. Ice cream? Hurt my sensitive teeth. Chocolate? Gave me heartburn. Sushi? I’d just order a cooked eel cucumber roll and scratch that itch. Pickles?

Oh well, duh, of course I craved pickles. But that didn’t have a darn thing to do with being pregnant. I would have been driving down Route 9 with an open jumbo jar of dills between my knees whether or not I was carrying a small human inside of me. Pickles are just a way of life for me.

Truly, I’ve loved pickles for as long as I can remember. From fighting over who got to drink the leftover pickle juice as a kid (as my father bellowed “it will put hair on your chest!”) to ordering entire cured cucumbers on a stick at state fairs to walking into my friend Meredith’s house and going straight for the condiment shelf, I’ve never been able to resist a good veggie in brine.

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Other things I couldn’t resist at Meredith’s house: borrowing a stranger’s trucker hat during a raging party we threw during college.

And what’s not to love? They’re sour and crunchy and salty and tart, and they can transform a flabby hamburger or soggy grilled cheese into a textured masterpiece. Through various diets, I loved pickles for their low calorie count, and through my late 20s, I loved pickles for their post-whiskey-shot relief. But today, I love pickles for a whole new reason: they’re a fantastic way to preserve food during this strange period in world history, thereby limiting waste and curbing trips to the store.

If you’ve never tried making your own pickles, might I suggest you use this extra time on your hands (don’t lie to me, I know you’re sitting at home) to give it a go? It’s easy and fast, and the results are delicious. It’s a great way to use up fresh vegetables when you’ve bought too many, and even though pickles can be a salt/sugar bomb, making them yourself helps you control just how much sodium you’re putting in.

I prefer to make refrigerator pickles, which don’t require a pressure canner and can hang out in the fridge for a few weeks (if they last that long before making it into your mouth). I’ve tried a few recipes, and this one from Cookie + Kate is my favorite to use as a template and adapt. It’s good with radishes, but I’ve tried with red peppers and carrots and garlic and even leftover kale stems (now THAT’s ingenuity) to roaring success.

Last week’s batch.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 bunch thinly sliced vegetables (use a mandolin if you can, or just cut them thin and uniform)
  • ¾ cup vinegar (to maintain color, use a clear one like white vinegar, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar, etc.)
  • ¾ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup (I’ve also used white sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Optional add-ins: red pepper flakes, mustard seeds, garlic cloves, peppercorns, fennel seeds, etc. I never have things like this at my upstate home, so I’ve tried sprinkling in Harissa or whatever else I have on hand. These pickles are good even without a spice element.
  1. Slice the veggies uniformly and thinly and pack into a glass jar – I use an old mason jar or an empty salsa jar or whatever else is clean and in the recycling.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, honey/maple syrup and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the salt dissolves. Then pour the mixture over the jar of vegetable slices. Totally cover them in liquid.
  3. Let it cool to room temperature, then leave in the fridge overnight. Consume.

Give it a try and report back. Lucille and I will be waiting to hear the results!

“Have you tried pickling bones yet?”

A Runner Returns

I moved to New York City fresh out of college, but it wasn’t until January 16, 2012 – at the ripe old age of 26 and two months – that I finally felt like an adult.

That night – instead of searching out free happy hours, discount chicken wings and the poor life decisions of a 20-something enjoying independence and a paycheck at the same time – I tagged along to a Kathleen Edwards concert at Tarrytown Music Hall with some of my older/wiser/more cultured friends. There were no cheap beers, no sparkly tops and no next-day hangovers, and it felt like the most respectable, grown-up outing I’d attended since relocating to (and quickly adopting the mantra of) the city that never sleeps.

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In fact, here I am at a boozy costume party just months before with two random co-workers, one of whom I would eventually marry. 

My friends Beth and Karsten probably remember the evening in Tarrytown for the great music, the fantastic company and the fact that Edwards cursed so fervently between sets that the radio station hosting the event feared it wouldn’t get enough material to string together a PG-13 show.

But what has stuck with me most these last eight (8!) years was something else entirely: a seemingly inconsequential conversation with my friend Karsten on the drive to Westchester County. I don’t know why it’s so seared into my memory, but I vividly recall him asking as we left Manhattan what I’d done that day.

“Oh nothing,” I remember telling him. “I just ran four miles.”

“Four miles isn’t nothing,” he insisted. He was adamant that my Central Park loop was an impressive distance and something worth celebrating.

I disagreed. I was gearing up for my first marathon, regularly clocking 12-milers before breakfast, and I knew he couldn’t possibly mean it. Four miles was child’s play, I remember thinking. Four miles was embarrassing. Four miles was n-o-t-h-i-n-g. I spent so much time obsessing over distance running in my mid 20s – reading blogs, tracking mileage, comparing my training logs to strangers’ – that I truly, honestly thought four miles of running didn’t. even. count.

Oh, how wrong I was. But it took a life changing year to understand it.

Also a life-changing year for concert-goers Beth and Karsten, turns out.

After almost a decade of running, I stopped cold turkey last spring when I got pregnant. My doctor didn’t make me, but I felt heavy and tired and bloated, and my favorite sport simply didn’t appeal anymore. And after an entire year off, getting back into the swing of things with a new body has been tougher than I ever imagined.

Last month, after getting the post-partum clear from my doctor, I went out for a crawling 15-minute jog – and was subsequently sidelined for the next week with searing pain near my C-section scar. When I finally worked up the courage to try again, I only made it a mile then walked back home. I asked my doctor’s office whether there was a solution to my running-related abdominal pain, and the nurse’s response was a slap in the face: “Well, maybe you just shouldn’t run then.”

So I took off a few more weeks, focusing instead on stretching and strength and recovery. And eventually, I made it on a full 1-mile run, without pain. Then I did a 2-mile run. Earlier this week, I notched it up to a 3-mile run.

And today, pulling off a feat that seemed impossible just a month ago, I hit that elusive 4-mile mark.

Coach Lucille checks the splits.

I don’t care about my pace — all I know is that did it. And you know what, Karsten? You’re right. It’s not nothing after all.

It’s something.

We’ve Trained for This: The Coronavirus and Me

I may have forgotten to mention it: Did I tell you I’ve been training pretty hard for the past three months?

Training for a fifth marathon, you ask? A community 10K? A speedy half?

No, dear reader. I’ve been unknowingly training for a whole different kind of event: social distancing. And MAN, am I in shape.

For those of you who haven’t experienced it, the first few months of parenthood can be a downright solitary time. Sure, friends and family pop in for precisely timed 90-minute visits between feedings and naps, but until your newborn has his two-month immunizations, many pediatricians advise avoiding crowds of any sort. That means no restaurants, no bars, no coffee shops and no birthday parties. Sure, you have an infant to keep you company, but it can get pretty lonely if you aren’t careful.

All alone, as usual.

But it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of ways to keep yourself healthy and sane during a social lockdown, whether you’re caring for a 13-pound human or responsibly hunkering down until COVID-19 slows its spread. That doesn’t mean it’s easy — it’s not, especially for all of you with mobile children to care for, too — but if you’re in a position to stay home these next few weeks, here are my best tips for maintaining morale when you’re forced to rip up your routine.

  1. Continue to exercise. Your gym is closed. Your barre studio is shut down. Your running club has halted group speed work. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit on your couch. Working up a sweat will help you feel better and keep anxiety at bay — you’ll just have to get a bit creative. My at-home workout of choice during Charlie’s first fiscal quarter out of the womb has been Barre 3 online, where you can choose 10-, 30- and 60-minute body weight workouts. Not for you? My local yoga practice has been streaming live classes for $10 a pop, and I bet other fitness centers and dance studios are doing something similar. (Heck, even Peloton husband looks pretty smart now.) My advice: find something you like and try to do it every day. (My baby personally recommends a play gym.

    This gym’s security is no joke.
  2. Get outside. If you can do it safely, try to get some fresh air away from crowds. We’re lucky enough to be hunkering down upstate, which means long walks with the dog are still on the table. If you’re in a densely populated area, you may have to think outside the box. Call us morbid, but Charlie and my favorite place to walk during his first few month in the city was a nearby cemetery — no crowds, wide paths and plenty of sunshine. Just be sure to wash your hands after pushing your apartment building’s elevator buttons, so when you visit the graveyard, you can stay just a guest.

    Baby on board.
  3. Cook something delicious. It’s tempting to survive on pop tarts and powdered sugar when quarantined indoors, but challenge yourself to make something homemade if you have the ingredients. It’s a particularly good time to cook something that takes all day, like chicken stock or stew. In case we’ll be inside a long time, cook up the fresh stuff first (I made chili yesterday to use the bell peppers), then start experimenting with pantry staples like you’re in an episode of Chopped. (Hint: Pasta, salt, canned sundried tomatoes in oil and Italian seasoning make a deliciously simple dinner.) If it’s your thing, it’s OK to have a drink, too, even if you’re camping out solo.
    Stockpiling, Baltimore style.
  4. Prioritize mental health, too. Eating well and exercising is important, but so is self care. Take a bubble bath. Read a novel. Bake some homemade bread. Plant a garden. Write a letter. Call your mother. Hug your dog. And most of all, try to stay off Twitter (and if you succeed in doing that, please tell me how.)
    More walks, please.

What are your best tips for healthy living during this turbulent time?

My 2019 Marathon

The phrase “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” may be one of the most overused cliché expressions in the world, alongside the cringeworthy “everything happens for a reason,” the phony “I hope you’re well,” and the totally deceitful “I don’t want fries – I’ll just have one of yours.” Sure, pal. One.

Don’t get me wrong: Advising a friend to think like a marathoner and not a sprinter makes sense in theory – take it slow, make a plan, think long term, etc. But when the idiom pops up everywhere from PR pitches to HR trainings to boozy nights out, it starts to feel a bit stale. Case in point: Having run four 26.2-mile events and attended countless bachelorette parties – both of which are said to be marathons, not sprints – I can assure you they have very little in common besides a desperate need for Gatorade the following morning. And the clever t-shirts. And the high-fiving strangers. And the inevitable post-event cheeseburger. Ok, fine, I guess they’re the same thing after all.

Still, I was surprised when I after nine months of waiting, I arrived at the hospital in mid-December and everyone kept telling me I was actually there for a marathon – which I guess is overused idiom-speak for a baby. (Did I mention I was having a baby?)

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Reluctant big sister.

First, the nurse in triage suggested I get some sleep because the birth process isn’t a sprint. Then one in the delivery room ordered rest for the very same reason as my contractions hit the 12-hour mark. After a third offered identical advice as I took some of my first post-delivery steps, I started to wonder if I was hallucinating all the blatant repetition (those epidurals ARE magical after all.)

But the more I think about it, maybe they were right. I mean, no one gave me a medal or a poncho at the end of this particular “marathon,” but I did get to shuffle home in excruciating pain with a memento to help me remember it all (in this case, our son), so I guess there’s some overlap there after all. And maybe that’s not all. Behold: why having a baby is like running a marathon, written by a poorly rested new mother, so please be kind:

  1. You’ll spend months preparing for the big day but that doesn’t mean it will go according to plan. Much like a marathon, you’ll want to go into childbirth with several tiers of goals. For races, I usually have an A goal (a new PR), a B goal (a sub-4-hour finish) and a C goal (smile at a bunch of strangers and try not to die.) Same for labor. My A goal was to have a baby in just four hours like my mom had me (fail) and B goal was to deliver a healthy baby with no weird complications (also fail). Luckily, I achieved my C goal, which, consequently, was the same for both events – smile at a bunch of strangers and try not to die. Success!
  2. Recovery is no joke. Marathoning wreaks havoc on your body, and apparently so does having a 9+ pound child sliced from your womb. Give yourself time to heal and be patient with your progress.
  3. In both races and childbirth, someone entrepreneurial will take advantage of your weakened state and try to sell you overpriced photos after the fact – and you’ll cave because you don’t feel like photoshopping the watermark out of the free teaser images.
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Honestly, what do I need with all these professional photos of tiny feet?

But the main reason labor is basically channeling your inner Pheidippides? Because they say you aren’t ready to run a marathon again until you’ve forgotten the last one, and boy, do I have a lot of forgetting time left! 🙂

A Barre Class Built for Two

Friends, remember how, at the onset of summer, I had just joined a barre studio and was extolling its virtues? (I’ll remind you: I wrote about it here, before going MIA for pretty much the remainder of the season. My bad. And here I thought my ghosting days were behind me.)

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Me! In the past!

Well, I’ve now been a card carrying member at Barre 3 for SIX months, and boy, has my body changed.

Although Barre 3 is adamant you won’t find a scale inside — it preaches balance and strength instead of inches and pounds — I imagine a lot of members still go into a cardio/free weights/pilates class like this hoping for some serious toning — or at least better fitting jeans. And who can blame them?

Since joining in April, I’ve religiously suited up two to three three times a week for these 60-minute workout classes, including more 5 a.m. wakeup calls that I can count. I estimate I’ve done dozens of planks, hundreds of crescent lunges and thousands of sumo squats in the past two quarters, hands down. And let’s not forget those hours and hours of ab work.

You saw the before photo above.

Now brace yourself for the after photo:

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Me! This morning!

SURPRISE! I’m having a baby.

If I haven’t told you yet in person, you might have pieced it together from the fact that we just moved apartments or from my suspicious May confession that the idea of vegetables made me want to puke. But mostly, no one would blame you for having no idea, because, let’s be honest, I’ve kept it really, really quiet online.

Why, you ask? Maybe because I’m terrified of jinxing things. Or maybe because I’m a pretty private person, blog be damned. Or maybe because I wanted to tell Lucille before the rest of you, and despite ALL my attempts to spell it out for her, she’s remained blissfully oblivious to the big change that’s coming her way.

Seriously, though. I’ve tried everything.

I’ve tried showing her all the puppy, I mean baby, sized clothing we’re collecting:

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I’ve tried introducing her to the other puppies, I mean babies, in our life:

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I’ve tried putting her in charge of puppy, I mean baby, kick counts:

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But no matter what I do, something tells me eight weeks from now, she’s going to be very, very surprised to realize how much her life has changed.

Then again, so are we. 

A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place

Given the chance for a do-over in life, I’d probably take it.

Now I’m not talking about the big stuff, like who I’d choose to marry or what profession to pursue or whether to stream Queer Eye Season 4 as slowly as humanly possible to savor every last corgi scene. But there are literally hundreds of little things I didn’t do right the first time around that just nag at me, and I’d love the chance to start over with a clean slate.

Stuff like investing fully in my 401K as a 22 year old, or collecting airline miles consistently, or making exercise part of my routine decades before I did. From wearing my retainer at night (R.I.P. American smile) to maintaining my language skills after a semester in Madrid, it wouldn’t have been that hard at the time, but at this point, change just feels like a lost cause. 

“What’s the point of it all?”

Of course, I know that’s not a healthy way to think. Just because you haven’t been, say, eating well in recent months doesn’t mean there’s no point in starting now. I mean, you wouldn’t refuse to go to a doctor just because you haven’t been before, right? But for the littlest stuff – the habits it SHOULD be easiest to tweak – it’s easy to see change as futile. As Barney Stinson tells his father in a 2011 episode of How I Met Your Mother, I’m too far gone.

But lo, sometimes life DOES throw you a do-over. Welcome to our new apartment.

I’m a sucker for a good arch.

Our old apartment, where we nested for three view-filled years, was great for a lot of reasons, but I felt like I never got it set up quite right. The closets were deep (which should be a good thing) but it meant I could never reach the things I’d stored in the back. Same in the kitchen – bakeware stacked high in deep cabinets isn’t that accessible, and I found myself shying away from home-cooked meals if I knew the recipe called for any tools not on the top of the stack. I suppose I could have taken everything out and done a massive reorganization, but the task just felt so daunting that I sucked up, left things unchanged and ordered a lot of saag paneer take-out. (Thank you, Raj’s Indian Kitchen, for sustaining us those 1,095 nights.)

But last week, our lease expired and we opted to move to a charming new apartment, and GUESS WHAT THAT MEANS, FOLKS: a clean slate. That’s right: a rare chance to do it all over again, from the start. And I’ve taken it to heart.

    I’ve Marie Kondo-ed my drawers. OK, probably not well, given I’ve never seen the show and didn’t get rid of enough joyless stuff, but I did stack my clothes vertically so I can always see what’s there without digging.
Oh shirt, I have a lot of stuff.
    I’ve stored my tupperware and lids together, like god intended. Why have I never done this before? Right, because I’ve lacked space and, fine, patience.
Please tell them at my funeral someday I once lived like this.
    I’ve found a place for everything inside my closets [yes, you read that right, I have two], and I’m committed to always putting things back where I got them, even if it seems like more work now. And if I mess up, I have this vicious closet enforcer to remind me.
Reporting for duty!

Is there a chance in two months, I revisit this post and realize it’s all gone to hell in a handbasket? Yes, that’s a very distinct possibility. But a little organization sure feels nice right now. And hey, if it gets messed up, we can always move again, right?

What are your tricks for keeping organized that don’t involve, you know, having less stuff?

 

 

 

Raising the Barre

Whether or not you know her, it’s time I lay it out there: I trust my friend Rogan’s opinion on just about everything. Not only does she have excellent taste in NYC roommates and undergrad liberal arts colleges, but I also defer to her on all red wine selection, white wine selection and Irish fiddle etiquette. And let’s not forget her burgeoning political career. Yessiree, (Sheriff) Rogan’s going places.

I generally trust Rogan’s good judgement without question, which is why I was so startled when she revealed to me several years ago that she traveled most weekends ALL THE WAY TO THE WEST VILLAGE to take her favorite barre class, Barre 3. “But there are studios literally 45 minutes closer to the Upper East Side,” I said to myself, and likely, also directly (and full of judgement) to my friend’s face. “Why would you ever take yourself out of the city’s grid structure voluntarily for some workout that can’t possibly be better than other barre classes?”

And then I took a Barre 3 class. Dear reader, I was wrong.

Unlike other barre classes I’ve taken, which tend to make me feel inflexible (when the instructors say things like “and now everyone do your version of a split!”) or weak (when I can’t hold 2-pound weights for the duration of strength training) or furious (when my grippy socks make it hard to plank on carpet), Barre 3 classes do for me exactly what I want: they make me feel sweaty and energized and empowered.

And like taking super awkward photos.

So what makes it better for me? I’ve been trying to put into words what I like about this specific workout, which in theory isn’t all that different than other ball/barre-based pilates-like classes out there. I think it comes down to these things (but, let’s be honest, it also may come down to the fact that a gorgeous new studio just opened a 7 minute walk from my apartment):

  1. There’s a lot less tucking. In other barre classes, I’ve found there’s a lot of emphasis on the pelvis and whether it’s tucked correctly. But here’s the problem – how can you possibly tell if your pelvis tilt is right when it’s nothing you can see? I find it insanely frustrating to spend so much of a class doing an invisible exercise and not even know if I’m doing it correctly. In Barre 3, no one’s mentioned my pelvis once, and for that, I’m grateful.
  2. There’s more of a cardio focus. In addition to barre staples like glute and core work, there’s always a long section of combo work intended to get the heart rate up – think 80s aerobics class mixed with vinyasa flow. Mixing up the barre-staple “move small” movements like pulses with “move big” breaks like crescent lunges helps make the 60 minutes bearable.
  3. There’s a lot of body positivity and mindfulness. This class always ends with a few minutes of breath work in shavasana, which – let’s not lie to ourselves – is everyone’s favorite part of yoga. I’ve been in other barre classes where half the class sneaks out after core and skips stretching, but at Barre 3, it seems nearly everyone wants to stay through to the end to unwind and relax her mind. It’s a healthy mindset, and a good reminder that exercise isn’t just for the physical muscles.
  4. My studio is so damn cute. I like succulents and exposed brick and natural wood like the good millennial I am – so sue me. But I’ve also now been to the equally adorable Toronto studio, and I can attest that the aesthetic is good everywhere – as is the friendly vibe. My studio also has free coffee. Win.

I am a studio member, at least until I move out of Long Island City when our lease is up (RIP view), meaning I can bring first time guests free, so hit me up if you want to see it for yourself. Or we can just meet at the bar.

Have you tried Barre 3? And does this sound like sponsored content? I swear it’s not!

Oh, Canada: Toronto Vacation for the Win

I was standing on a busy street corner last week when a strange man I didn’t know leaned in from behind. “Nice sunglasses,” he crooned. Well-trained NYC women know not to engage with random weirdos offering compliments, so I murmured a sarcastic “thanks” – just shy of the “thanks, creep” I wanted to say – without turning around. As the light changed and I went to cross, I glanced back. Turns out he was a uniformed police officer, wearing the same exact sunglasses as me, which he’d wanted to point out. He smiled and waved. He wasn’t a creep at all.

He was Canadian.

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And he lived here!

I don’t know if you’ve recently traveled to our neighbors to the north with their charming apologies and their decade+ of marriage equality and their adherence to the Paris Agreement, but MAN there’s a lot to like about it.

Sure, they have a handsome president prime minister, but they offer so much more:

  • Their fast-foot joints sell delicious meat alternatives.

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    This is a Beyond Meat sausage egger and cheese from A&W and it’s amazing.
  • They’re all about reducing waste.

    IMG_1566
    This friend of a friend’s store, Pretty Clean Shop, has refillable laundry detergent so you never have to throw away an empty container again.
  • You don’t have to give away your peanut butter cups if a guy names Reese comes asking.

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    They aren’t possessive here! No wonder Canadians don’t understand that Mitch Hedberg joke!

During a week in Toronto, we experienced so many delightful things: delicious Thai food, fantastic dim sum, barrels of Timbits, buckets of Caesars (i.e. a Bloody Mary with Clamato juice), and, oh yeah, some non-eating memories too. But hands down my favorite thing about the city was how damn active it allowed us to be.

While I never once put my running shoes to use while visiting “The 6ix” (thanks, Drake), I was still able to keep moving in this walkable, pedestrian-friendly metropolis. By trekking around the waterfront, hiking over to Kensington Market, and exploring the islands on foot, we were able to log 8 or 9 miles a day most days, making me feel slightly less bad about all the pineapple pizza I was eating (don’t @ me).

AND I was able to supplement that walking with some other forms of exercise (plus wedding dancing!), which may sound like vacation torture to some other people, but to me, it was a perfect way to relax on a week off from work:

  • BARRE: I belong to a Barre 3 studio in Queens, so I emailed the Toronto franchise to ask if I could pop in, and they offered me a free class! Huzzah! The moves were essentially the same, but the 80s and 90s inspired playlist was to die for.
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Show Me Love! Though I’ll admit the American Beauty soundtrack during stretches DID creep me out a bit.
  • YOGA: It’s hard to call a restorative class a workout, but considering I fell asleep in every single posture, it seems I really needed it. I went to two different sessions at Toronto’s Yoga Tree studio, and those naps were worth every Canadian penny (which don’t exist anymore, but you know what I mean.)
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I’ll give you ZZZZZen.
  • BIKES: Is a 4-seater bike ride still a workout? Unclear, but it was super fun cruising around Toronto Island with my friends, especially when the journey ended at a lakeside bar.
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EYES ON THE ROAD, BOYS.

Well done, Canada. Until we meet again. ❤

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