Friday, March 19, 2010

On the Road

Jane was on the road!

Yes, Boston, I cheated on you over Spring Break. I got some sweet little love notes from your brother on the other side of Connecticut, and spent some time getting to know Brooklyn, midtown... even downtown. But no trip would be complete without some serious food indulgence, so here I document some of my tummy's fave highlights of the trip.

Champion Coffee Shop

Greenpoint, B-lyn.

Ok, so my sister lives directly above them. But they are still have the sweetest staff around, and boast a kick-ass back patio with plenty of sunshine, trees, and birdies.
AND, this massive cup of fresh fruit/greek yogurt/amazing granola that kept me full for hours was just blissful when enjoyed in the morning sunshine in the backyard. Their coffee is also pretty addictive - shots of espresso, no coffee maker in sight - so that this morning in Boston, I mourned the fact that I had to settle for Dunkin' on my way into the city. Cambridge needs a place like this!


Greenpoint, B-Lyn

Holy heck, I am full on cray-cray obsessed with this place. It started innocently enough over 4th of July weekend this past year. My sis and I strolled down for a little brunch, coffee, no big deal. Uhh, Big Deal indeed. We sat outside near their take-out coffee window and people watched on the sidewalk, and the egg sammy w/cheddar and sage was so out of this world scrumptious I made it at home three weekends in a row. I literally have been dreaming about corner gem ever since.
So on St. Paddy's, we hit it up. And my tentative toe-in-the-water vegetarian side went screaming away from the shore after splitting the 5-Leaves burger w/sis. Pickled beets, fried egg, and grilled pineapple. YES. We also split a huge salad with radicchio & butternut squash that was quite lovely. Also, it was 2-fer-1 Guinness.

Happy St. Paddy's, indeed!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunshine Chips!

Just two weeks ago, the sun started shining it's brightest for the first time in what felt like truly forever. I feel like I was still suffering windburn, frostbite, and soggy socks after the lovely winter we had on Appian Way. So, a few weeks ago, yellow happy rays coaxed me, huggable dogs, too-cute babies, and some of my fellow grad-slaves to bathe in Vitamin D and nosh on some snackies next to the Charles River. It was a necessary excuse to wander out of the library and blink into some happy sunlight! Even though it was a leeeetle windy by the Charles, and there were a few close-calls with the frisbees and our *ahem* heads, the fresh air and warmth was totally cathartic. I packed along some homemade rosemary pita chips & hummus, and they disappeared so fast, I had to share how so incredibly simple & easy it was to throw together such a yumtastic snack. They went so well with fresh-air lounging, I've forever renamed them my "Sunshine Chips". They're awesome alone or with some hummus for dipping. Enjoy, sunshines!

Sunshine Chips

Day-old pita bread

Olive oil

Salt & peps
Dried rosemary

Pre-heat oven to 400.

Mix together olive oil, s+p
Cut pita into triangles, separating at "seam"

Very lightly brush olive oil mixture on top of pita triangles and arrange in a single layer on cookie sheet

Sprinkle on dried rosemary
Bake for about 6-8 min, but watch these chippies carefully so they don't burn

IMO, best enjoyed outside. Pack in a reusable bag with some hummus, and take them into the sunshine.

Photo from

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy Place

Hi there.

A few days back, the Huffington Post shared some sweet little tidbits on finding your own inner happiness and balance. Thought I'd share my faves. All good things to work on!

"Follow a plant-based diet - Plants are miracles, just like we are. The facts are pouring in each and every day. I think we can intelligently say a plant-based diet is better for our health and our environment. Try to have the majority of your diet be plant-based.

Exercise - I cannot begin to tell you the incredible impact cardio workouts have had on my outlook and general well-being. Whether it is yoga or running, rebounding or cycling, get out and get it done. Exercise releases chemicals in the brain that actually calm us!

Foster a spirituality that includes meditation - Whether you believe in God, Buddha, the universe, etc., at the end of the day, having faith that there is something bigger than us brings a certain peace of mind.

Spend time in nature - I am an acknowledged tree hugger. Again, plants are alive, and miracles just like us. Hug a tree and feel the energy. Take some deep breaths in a forest ... feel the peace pouring in. Even if you live in a big city, spend time in a park. [YES! Studies have shown that living near a park or greenery helps keep depression at bay. And sometimes, NOTHING beats a long hike on a crisp day. -NYAJ]

9- Simplify and release your attachment to material things - We are all overwhelmed with stuff. Living probably only requires 5% of the things we have. Stop for a moment and think about everything you own in this way: Does it serve a purpose? Will it help me achieve an ideal life? If not, toss it or, even better, donate it."

via Huffington Post

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wellness While You Work

Real Wellness goes beyond weekends

Fletcher, VT - October 2009 - photograph by Meredith Crowley

For me, the dire need for personal "real wellness" came to a head during fall semester of graduate school. I thought I needed to spend every waking second getting something done for school or work - reading, writing, workshops, etc. I figured I needed to prioritize school above exercise, and very rarely made time for my own well-being.

As a result, it was hard to gain perspective... mainly, about what I (really) wanted to get out of my time at Harvard. So as you know, this semester I joined the gym, I'm training for a 1/2 marathon, I practice yoga regularly, and I feel much more centered and focused. I am a big believer in "work smarter, not harder". Taking breaks out of my day to do these things leaves me feeling refreshed and ready to go!

So as you can imagine, I am loving the mindfulness exercise my Teaching Fellow guides our Leading & Managing Organizations class through each week. I think it's crucial to remember that leading and managing requires us to face frequent challenges, and leaders do no one any favors by pushing themselves beyond normal limits. There are so many SIMPLE things you can do throughout your work day to keep yourself refreshed and in perspective:

1. Take a hike! Even just 10 minutes away from your desk and OUT of your building does wonders. I've come up with some of my best ideas when not thinking about projects.

2. Be Left Aloooone. Unless you need to be at the beck & call of some hotshot via hotmail, turn that little envelope guy on the right corner of your 'puter screen OFF. Too distracting. I don't even need to explain why. Instead, carve out specific times to check and respond to emails throughout the day. This also ensures no emails are read on your blackberry and then promptly forgotten once you check your inbox online. You've all done it.

3. Eat. Please. Really. I'm one of those people that "forgets" to eat lunch, and by 3pm I'm a complete crank-face: ie, massive headache and a hankerin' for something with salt and grease. Gross. Make yourself leave your desk to eat your lunch at a normal pace. Better yet, pack healthy snacks (homemade pita chips, veggies, hummus) to avoid the vending machine temptations.
3a. DRINK WATER. Just do it.

4. Have a Life. In The practice of adaptive leadership:
Tools and tactics for changing your organization and the world
, Weick & Sutcliffe recommend surrounding yourself with communities of care beyond the work setting. Join a book club, make times for friends & family, start a hobby or set a personal goal (yay 1/2 marathons!). You'll feel well-rounded, and you'll be less likely to take professional setbacks personally.

(Above excerpted/adapted from my post to the "Mindfulness - Meditation" Forum for Jerry Murphy's Leading & Managing Organizations class)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gym & Omelets: CONQUERED

Not Your Average Jane has has Not Your Average Amount of SchoolWork to do, so please accept my most sincere apologies for lack of blogging lately. Y'all know I love to blog-it-out.

But let's get past our little silent treatment episode, because I have happy news to share with you on this Valentine's Weekend. After being a member of the Harvard gym for over month, I have considered it CONQUERED. Yes, that's right folks, I have defeated the annoying treadmill sign-up rules. Then, I did a little high-kick and surmounted the impervious, testosterone-soaked nature of the (gasp) weight room. And when I mean soaked with testosterone, I'm not kidding. Those dudes sweat a lot.

But, today, after wrapping up a fabulous run on the treadmill (which was 12 minutes over the time limit for treadmills, *high fives* for beating the system), I felt like a billion bucks (which is more than a million, FYI). So down I went, and sweat along with the best of them. Good feeling!

This effort left me completely ravenous, of course, so when I got home from the gym I set my mind on making a scrumptious, healthy egg white omelet. And... I. Did. It. For someone who is hardly able to deftly maneuver a spatula over medium-high heat, this is indeed a Big Deal. To boot, it was freakin' good, guys. Like eat-at-the-kitchen-counter-so-I-don't-have-to-wait-30-seconds-to-bring-it-to-the-table-good.

Post-Gym Egg White Omelet for Lovers (it's Valentine's Day, dudes)
1/2 cup egg whites (from about 3 large eggs)
salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup green peppers, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
handful of shredded cheddar cheese (no orange nastiness, plz)
1/2 pitted & cubed avocado

heat 1 tsp of olive oil in 8" frying pan on medium-high heat (heat that sucker up good)
whisk eggs, s&p, water
pour into hot pan
let set: scrape sides of pan w/rubber spatula every so often, letting mixture spill under
after ~2 or 3 min, sprinkle cheddar, green pepper, & red onion on top
carefully fold in 1/2 and immediately transfer to plate
top with salsa & avocado it at the kitchen counter.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Fave Recipe, Finally!

Happy Groundhog Day!

Whew, I have been such a busy little bee the past two weeks with school starting up again. Yet, my classes are GREAT, so I don't mind filling my days with thought-provoking readings and stimulating, practice-based discussion. And - drumroll please - I joined the Harvard gym. I just simply couldn't take stepping outside and expecting my body to run over 3 miles in 13 degree weather any longer (thanks bunches, groundy-hogger). More on my woes and wins at my impossibly small and awkward new gym in upcoming posts... like my frequent incredulous looks at those who read (and highlight) their textbooks on the elliptical. Thank goodness for yoga classes!

So, it's a wonder I haven't scurried to my Macbook earlier to provide you with one of my absolute most favoritest (I get to invent words, you'll learn to love it), simple, delicious, fulfilling, and WICKED good meals. Especially during the impossibly chilly evenings here in New England, this warm roasted vegetable and goat cheese salad consistently makes my belly happy. Bon Appetit!

Roasted Vegetable & Goat Cheese Salad

You'll Need:
1 head of Boston lettuce
Veggies for Roastin': I like sweet potatoes, carrots, zucchini, & red onions
Crumbled goat cheese
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

1. Cut up veggies into bite-sized chunks (I like to quarter the red onion, leaving the layers intact)
2. Toss with about a tablespoon of olive oil, salt & pepper to taste (I like lots of pepper!), throw on baking sheet, and bake at 400 for about ~20 min (they should be a little brown and tender)
3. Whisk up 1 part olive oil, 1 part balsamic vinegar (about a tablespoon each should do it), add salt & pepper
4. Toss lettuce with dressing, add goat cheese.
5. Top with roasted veggies

Enjoy the YUMFEST. You're welcome!


PS, I apologize for the zero food pics on this blog. I'm usually far too hungry to whip out the powershot while the foodz get cold... but I'll try some self-restraint for next time! =)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

namaskaara (Good Morning!)

This morning I decided to look into the language of yoga - sanskrit - to learn more about the beautiful words that are used to describe some of my favorite poses, like Virabhadrasana (Warrior), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose), and Vrksasana (Tree Pose). Anyway, sometimes just saying the words immediately calms me to that yogi-state.

Could you tell I took an ACTUAL yoga class this week? I finally took advantage of Harvard's super cheapie gym membership rates and met some ladies for a Friday afternoon power yoga session. Our instructor was quite wonderful and my previous public mat-posing fears were finally overcome. Friday afternoons will soon become my restorative, happy-place time, especially as skool starts up again and I find myself holed up in a dark corner of Gutman library, gettin' my
Hackman on.

So this morning, as I faced the ginormous mess that is my dining room (thanx 2 a newly renovated back room, all of our doodads and trinkets are now dispersed ever so non-carefully around the dining room table), I took a deep breath, a sip of coffee, and listened to the chanting (kirtan) of
Krishna Das. The combination of a little tiny bit of organizing your personal space (like making your bed? I SWEAR I will do that more this year), a good cup of coffee, and really, really good music is sometimes just the best way to start your day. My newest happy-place music happens to be chanting (it's not as goofy as you think, check out "Hara Hara Mahadev"), but yours could be whatever gets your blood flowing.

Tapping into the simple power of music is one of my absolute fave ways to be well, simply! What are YOUR favorite tunes to invigorate with, drive to, run to, or start/end your day with?

Be Well,


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Supa Soup! (Snoop a Loop?)

Happy Tuesday!

I'm finally just starting to get back into the swing of things for the second semester, which means no more AM yoga at 11am, Today Show marathons (so long, Ann Curry), or borrowing my friend's treadmill for a 2pm run on a Wednesday. It feels nice to have more of an actual schedule, though - hopefully that means fitting in an actual training plan for this 1/2 marathon I'm supposedly running in April. Ohhh, goals. So easy to set, yet so hard to fulfill when you can watch EVERY SINGLE episode of LOST online.

But I'm excited!! New running shoes coming in the mail soon, and warmer weather on its way *fingers crossed*. Until then, New England will probably be graced with pretty fat white snowflakes that quickly turn to slippery slush, that then require a "galoshes only" rule for outdoor adventures. What a great opportunity to cook up some hot, healthy, and hearty homemade soup! Today I had a few hours between class shopping to come home and cook Ross & I an early lunch. The soup I made was SO easy and really quite divine. And I have to admit, I've had soup on the brain ever since! If you think about it, the options are literally quite limitless: vegan, spicy, chock-full-of-vegetablesy, proteiny, you name it. And... you can bring it to work/school in a cute thermos the next day! Hooray!

So I will make it my end-of-winter quest to come up with some adventurous, delicious, and SIMPLE Supa Soup Snoop a Loop recipes to share. Get at me if you have a fave of your own. And bring your green hat!

Chicken Apple Sausage Soup
adapted from

Pasta of your choice (preferably whole-wheat)
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
Veggies of your choice, frozen or fresh (try lima beans, carrots, peas, spinach...)
6 ounces of organic low-fat chicken-apple sausage (about 2 links), cut up
2 handfuls of chopped fresh basil
Freshly baked cornbread (optional)*

Drop It Like Its Hot (Soup)
Cook pasta al dente, according to package directions
Drain pasta and let sit in colander
In the same saucepan you used to cook the pasta, simmer the broth over medium heat
Add veggies - if frozen, cook for 5 minutes
Add sausage and pasta, cook until heated through
Remove from heat, stir in basil

Serve immediately or transfer to an adorable thermos for lunch that day! Try some grated Parmesan on top after you've re-heated.

*I love cornbread, so I baked up some muffins by totally cheating and using a mix. But finding a great from scratch recipe would be totally worth it! Like this healthy version.

Bon Appetit!

And please please PLEEZ share your fave soup du jour...
à bientôt!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


So now I have an irrational fear that I am allergic to any of the following: quinoa, spinach, feta cheese (see previous post). I think it might actually have a lot more to do with my failure to follow my brand-new, strict rule for 2010: Never allow bagged spinach to sit in your fridge for more than three days, and do not mix it into the medly of "Empty Fridge Dins" ever, ever again. When in doubt, throw it out! (And be sure your fridge stays below 40 degrees at all times. Another trick learned from my Today Show addiction). Needless to say, I was bed-bound for a bit there, but no fear - she's back!

And by "back", I mean slowly sipping tea in the back room, curled up in the one little splash of sunlight that's made it's way onto my futon, warming my vitamin-D deficient body. As an aside, I have finally bought into the fact that as Northerners, we need to supplement vitamin-D into our bods since our exposure to sunlight is so limited. Future post for sure!

Speaking of rebounds, came up with some interesting (and allegedly simple) tips to get yourself in gear for the new year. A few stood out as NYAJ's faves...

...Like shaking out the 2009 dust bunnies in da house:
"2. A CHANGE OF SCENERY: One of the easiest and most inexpensive projects for reinvigorating your surroundings is rearranging the furniture. David Bromstad of HGTV’s “Color Splash’’ says to take another crack at your living room or bedroom with a different setup. The rule of thumb is that the biggest pieces of furniture should sit along the largest walls. If your inner Todd Oldham needs expressing, try floating the sofa away from the wall.

...Or find yourself giving complete strangers high-fives on the street. (Or a little smile. Can't hurt. And it gives warm fuzzies):
"5. INSTANT STRESS REDUCTION: G Spa tailors its services around busy people who only have a few minutes (and dollars) for a spot of quick indulgence. Its menu of massages are cheaper than a couple of cocktails at the W, and you can target your trouble spots of choice. Options include Head Rush (scalp/neck/shoulders) and the Shopaholic (feet/ankles/calves). The massage is $25. 35 Newbury St., 617-267-4772,

13. GET AN ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT. If you want to make yourself a more valuable employee, start by being more positive. “Complainers and naysayers are tiring,’’ says Varelas, of Keystone Associates. Better yet, think about ways to improve your company, instead of pointing out flaws. “When you see a problem, present a solution - or a number of solutions.’’

...And then (if more than 12 minutes of fresh air brings risk of frostbite), get all endorphined-up while catching up on LOST!
"15. GYM-LESS WORKOUT: Instead of lounging in the TV room, local trainer and Beantown Bootcamp owner John Wayman suggests a few simple exercises to keep yourself active while watching “Beautician and the Beast.’’ He offers a series of eight exercises - four cardiovascular and four strength-building. Do each exercise for one minute, then proceed to the next. (See next four items.)

See all 20 tips here, thanks to

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Empty Fridge Dins

So after my revitalizing Exercise TV Pilates workout tonight, I was sta-haaarving. For realz. Of course, I managed to do everything BUT grocery shop this weekend. Luckily, I was ready to try my hand at the infamous "Empty Fridge Dins": finding just a few, random ingredients I still had kickin' around to somehow create a fulfilling, healthy yumfest.

Luckily, I had some pretty good-for-me stuffs to work with, which gave me lesson #1: stocking up on veggies, whole grains, and proteins like beans or veggie burgers when you DO have time to shop is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, I live in New England, which means zero access to fresh produce via farmers markets in January, but this is what I DID have to work with:

From the fridge:
Bag of spinach

Kickin' around in the cupboard:
Leftover Great Northern Beans (from some AMAZING Quinoa Burgers I made last week)

Whole-wheat pita bread (toasted, for a little sustenance on the side)
Greek dressing* (see note below)

And I pretty much just threw it together in bowl. I rinsed and "quick soaked" the beans while I got my pilates on and prepared the other ingredients (it takes a little less than an hour - just boil them in some water, then cover and let sit). Now that the salad is sitting my belly, I kind of wish I had replaced the beans with chickpeas - but let's be honest. This chick(pea) hasn't purchased an actual chickpea in her life. Not yet, at least... it's only my third post!

The quinoa (which is actually a seed, who knew?) is just SO good for you and is really easy to prepare. I've just started learning all the fun uses for it - it did taste a little "eh" plopped on top of a salad though, so stay tuned for other ways to incorporate this wonder food into your mealsies.

*Ooohh and the dressing. Sigh. I bought a bottle of Ken's Greek Dressing eons ago and felt just shameful putting it to waste... otherwise, I would have cheerily made a homemade, simple dressing for this salad: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, black pepper, and maybe a little mustard. Yum! And you just need a teensy bit to coat your greens.

Yumfest indeed.


PS- Ok I confess. I usually have a hard time having ONLY salad, no matter how big & tasty, for a meal. So I grilled up an Amy's Texas Veggie Burger (wicked awesome if you throw some red onion in the pan with it and top with cheddar and some bbq sauce) to get that "yes I am full" feeling. Ohh and it worked.

PPS- I also completely burned the bottom layer of quinoa while getting sucked into The Biggest Loser, which made the house smell like... well, really burnt quinoa. And I didn't even get Jillian Michaels' "answer after the break" health quiz correct: "Does snacking in between meals inhibit weight loss?" (Hint: It does. Darn!)

2010 Y'all

Illustration by Jim Stoten (

I once shunned NYE rezzies, a bit appalled by the commercialization of wellness "tips" that cost mucho benjamins but usually fizzle out by Valentine’s Day. I should probably mention here how much I despise those Bally’s commercials featuring swimsuit models and tanned, buff (sometimes headless!?) bods with those little fake beads of sweat pumping iron in unison in little leotards. But I digress.

But it is a new decade, after all, and I think it’s time for Not Your Average Jane to jump on that oh-ten happiness train. This actual blog was inspired by one run on a friend’s treadmill; so I’m all for some simple action steps to feel WELL – Simply! Personally, one of these simple steps is (admittedly) plugged into my cable box. I’m one of those Janes who loves to slip on some super comf yoga pants but never really feels like opening my front door to the frigid New England air in order for my little muscles to shake (even in down-dog) in front of a class of buff Harvard ladeez. So, enter Exercise TV Fitness On-Demand. This is not a joke. Meghan Townsend’s “AM Yoga” is literally 15(!) minutes of stretching, breathing, a little sweating, and oodles and oodles of happiness. My favorite part is Meghan’s cheerful “Good Morning!” as my kitties purr around my feet in my own living room. If you’re beach-bod training already (yowza), Jillian Michael’s “trouble zone” work-out is. really. hard. And amazing. I love her. More on my girl-crush on JM in later posts, I’m sure.

But if you were like me this morning and skipped the On-Demand button (for a pj kitten cuddle party, perhaps?) to get your daily Today Show/Ann Curry fix, then you've probably heard of the NY Mag feature, “50 Simple Steps to Happiness”. Even if you’re not an NYC lady, some of these tips are just SO exhilaratingly basic that I just could not help but share. A few of my favorites… (read all 50 ways here)

2. “Make your bed. Go figure, but outer order contributes to inner calm. Especially if you’re living in a small space—but even if you’re living in a gigantic loft. Start each day with a concrete, albeit tiny (and therefore manageable!), accomplishment.” —Gretchen Rubin, Author, The Happiness Project

4. “Leave your mouth in that slightly upturned position it takes after saying ‘Cheez Whiz.’ It’s a relaxed, confident look that will convince other people you know what you’re doing.” —Debra Benton, Executive Coach

8. “Never show up for drinks on an empty stomach, or for that matter let yourself get so hungry you’ll eat street meat.” —Kristin Mcgee, Pilates and Yoga Instructor

33.“Start an old-fashioned correspondence with a friend. Handwriting a letter forces you to express yourself in a totally different way.” —Jonathan Arnold,General Manager, Dempsey & Carroll Stationery Engravers

44. “Think like a shark, act like a 5-year-old. Our bodies are meant to be in motion. Don’t stay in the same position for more than 30 minutes at a time.” —Dr. Jeffrey Gross, Rehabilitation Medicine, NYU School Of Medicine

49. “Pause. Allow your neck to relax, your nose to slowly lower, and the crown of your head to rise. Release your whole spine into length. Notice extra tension and release it. Breathe fully and slowly; smile. Begin your morning with this, end with it, use it as many times during the day as possible.” —Mark Josefsberg, Alexander Technique Teacher

Read more: 50 Steps to Simple Happiness -- New York Magazine


Not Your Average Jane

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Simple girl, simple wish – to Be Well. Simply.

Welcome to 2010, and the first installment of Be Well. Simply.

I'm Not Your Average Jane. I’m a full-time person: Student, professional, girlfriend, roommate, friend, sister. My day is filled with 24 hours of competing identities, challenges, triumphs, with hardly any time to commit to any regimented exercise program, carefully planned diets, or even a gym membership. I’m no expert on wellness, exercise, or nutrition by any means, but I think an awful lot about what works for me on my silly, hectic schedule. I learn something new every day about just being well, simply. Fifteen minutes of yoga to stretch and wake up in the morning. A good green tea when I need a reboot. An impromptu dance party with good friends. And most importantly – community. The sharing between fellow women adds a whole other dimension to “wellness”: expanding a network of recipe-finding, 10k-training, adventure-seeking, yoga pant-loving, green, friendly fellow women who find ways every day to be well. Simply.

So, here we are.