My all American experience in Washington DC!

I’m not going to lie, the day Ted accepted his new position in Washington DC my heart throbbed a little. We have spent a decent amount of time apart during the months that we have known each other, but to be honest…I think it has shown me a lot about myself that I didn’t previously know. I miss him every single day- but it makes the moments we have together that much sweeter.

Enough about that!

Ted living in DC gave me the opportunity to see the nation’s capital city and boy did it not disappoint!

I flew into Ronald Reagan Airport where Ted was there waiting to pick me up. I had been keeping a close eye on the weather that way I knew what to expect when I arrived, luckily I was wearing leggings AND jeans because when I walked out of those airport doors- damn was it cold! We drove back to Ted’s house where he gave me a quick neighborhood tour since he would be working the next day- leaving me to explore the city solo!

Day 1!

Ted lives about a mile away from the US capital building, in a cozy little basement apartment below a family. It is most definitely not a quiet place to live, with the stampede of children upstairs bright and early every morning, and as soon as you walk outside you are tossed straight into the hustle bustle of the city. This was quite the experience for me- I have never lived in a large city! That first morning I walked outside and caught myself standing in the middle of the sidewalk just taking it all in. All of the business professionals  wearing suites and hurriedly walking through the crisp morning air on their way to the metro station (luckily the closest metro is less than a 5 minute walk!) However, on this particular morning I decided I was going to walk instead of using the metro.

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I wandered through the nearby neighborhood with the capital building in sight! I have to admit- that view never gets old! I had walked about ¾ a mile when I decided I needed to find a place to warm up. Let’s not forget I am a Floridian used to the warmth and it was a chilly 35 degrees in DC that day! My first stop was at the Smithsonian National Museum of American Indians. I did not spend much time here, but the warmth was welcomed! Next, I found myself exploring the Hirshhorn Museum. If you haven’t been to the Hirshhorn, you’ve got to go and check out the “Pulse” exhibit! It uses your heartbeat to adjust the beat to the lights, play music, and so much more. It was my favorite exhibit in the museum by far.

Then, I ran across the National Library. Wow. It is SO BIG! Unfortunately I didn’t go inside and venture around- but there is always next time! Finally I made it to the Nation’s Capital building! I stood in awe of this building just thinking about all of the important decisions and significant people that had stood right here in this building.

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I walked through the gardens of the Smithsonian Castle and found myself standing in front of Ted’s office building. Ted took his lunch break with me where we walked to see the Washington Monument and he gave me directions to visit the White House! I explored the WWII monument and found myself at the Lincoln Memorial. Standing at the Lincoln Memorial had been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. It was even bigger than I had imagined! As I was walking past the reflecting pool a squirrel chased me down and attempted to crawl up my leg! A lady sat on a bench as I passed her running from the little guy laughing and said I was “Cinderella”) ha!

Last stop of the day was to find the White house! What a good spot to sit back and “people watch.” I’m not sure if I have mentioned before but people watching is one of my favorite past times. Here I watched people from all walks of life stopping to take selfies in front of the White House- let’s just say, not all of their photos were…appropriate- if you know what I mean. By this time I had walked 10 miles, my feet where killing me (clearly my foot ware was not appropriate as evidenced by the 4 blisters I had on my feet.) I found the metro station and made my way back to Ted’s with about 30 minutes to relax before Ted made it home. It had been a long day for both of us so we decided to find a nearby spot to have dinner and call it a night. We walked to a place called ‘Ted’s Bulletin’ where I ate the best fried chicken I have EVER eaten in my life. After all- calories don’t count on vacation, right? I have to say- day one was a successful solo day in DC!

Day 2!

We decided to cook breakfast tacos at home and get a later start to the day. For a city that wakes up early- nothing is open until close to 11 o’clock! We caught the metro and started our exploring at the Holocaust Museum. What a heart wrenching place. This museum was such an eye opening experience. Next we explored the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. I still cannot believe how many museums there are in DC and how big they all are! By the time we finished there it was getting dark and we were off to explore the National Zoo’s Christmas light display! This brought me back to my childhood growing up on a zoo and for the first time in 8 years- it finally felt like Christmas time.

We explored Dupont Circle and enjoyed pizza at a cute little place called Pizza Paradiso. Can we say- YUM!? We ended the day with nearly 12 miles of walking!

Day 3!

img_6418We started day 3 with brunch at Ted’s Bulletin where I ate the best homemade blueberry cheesecake poptart known to man.  We also had some yummy chicken biscuits here! Then we were off to the Eastern Market before the rain set in! What a cute little market with fresh plants, produce, crafts, and other goods! Sadly, at this time the rain began so we ventured back home to watch football and relax.

Once the rain let up a bit we took the metro in and explored the Museum of American History. I have got to say- this may have been my favorite museum of the trip!

We explored awhile and found ourselves enjoying a drink and nomming on the BEST buff-chicken dip in the city at The Ugly Mug. Sadly the rain stopped us from watching the National Boat Parade at the Warf.

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Day 4!

The weather was still not great- but at least it had warmed up a bit! We explored The Warf, had lunch at the Shake Shack (umm, YUM again!) What a cool spot to hang out!

Next stop- Old Town Alexandria! This cute town had all kinds of shops and the streets were lined with Christmas lights. This town felt homey and welcoming. I can see why people want to live here- that’s for sure!

After making back home to relax for a bit- it was time to go see the National Christmas Tree! As we were walking to the metro we noticed a lot of activity happening at the local park. We stopped to see what all the commotion was and there was a gathering for the lighting of the Menorah! They were handing out hot chocolate and goodies to everyone. Finally we made it the National Tree! Surrounding it were multiple smaller trees representing every state and region associated with the United States. Here the National Menorah was also being lit. We saw the White House lit up at night and just took in all the sights (and or course did some people watching, because Ted is just as much into that as I am. But who isn’t?!) 😉

We grabbed a quick sandwich at the Organic Market and called it a night.

Day 5!

img_6524My last day in DC was also a solo day. I woke up early and had to pace around the house listening to the kids stampeding around upstairs. I caught the metro and made my way to China Town. Let’s just say- nobody warned me about how sketchy this area was! There wasn’t a lot to see so I explored a while and made my way to the Museum of Art and the National Portrait Gallery. Outside the museum the Christmas Market had come alive. I strolled through the market and indulged in a Dulce De Leche churro. Next, I found Ford’s Theater and did some shopping at a few local tourist stops.

Next stop- Arlington National Cemetery!

I took the metro in and walked through the cemetery that houses the remains of so many individuals that died for our country. What a humbling experience this was. I was able to witness the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and see President Kennedy’s grave. Standing on the top of a hill and looking down at graves as far as you can see does something to you. It makes you feel things that you can’t quite explain.

My last night in DC was by far the most memorable.

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I happened to be walking past the Capital Building when I noticed hundreds of people gathering to watch the funeral procession arrive for President George HW Bush. As I watched the procession arrive and drive around the capital I realized how lucky I was to be a part of such a moving experience. President Bush was a great man, a hero, the epitome of an  American. I stood behind the cannons as they shot off the 21 gun salute in honor of our 41st President.

That night Ted and I waited in line for over 2 hours in the crisp air outside of the Capital Building in order to pay our respects to President Bush. Hundreds of people were lined up in rows inside and outside of the building- some had been waiting for hours before they let anyone inside! We stood at his casket and witnessed the changing of the guards from every unit of the Armed Forces of the United States. Standing along side the casket of an American legend, a man with such integrity and courage left me feeling such gratitude. I am grateful that this man once led our country and I was given this opportunity to pay my respect to him as he left this world. We stood in silence for probably 15 minutes just absorbing the moment and taking it all in before we left and signed our names in the book of condolences.

What.an.experience.

It was a sad day to lay a President to rest, but I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to experience this moment in history first hand. I will remember this night for the rest of my life.

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And just like that- my trip to DC was over! We nommed on some yummy tacos at District Taco and finished the night with over 15 miles of walking! I 5 days I was able to eat all the good food and soak in so much history, culture, and of course Ted time!

I had to be at the airport at an early 6am where I had to say yet another hard goodbye to Ted as I flew back to Florida.

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Until next time DC!

Baked Delicata Squash!

I have been waiting all dang summer for it to be fall so that I could get my hands on a delicata squash again. If you haven’t experienced the goodness of this squash- trust me, you have been missing out! Delicata squash is the king of all squash, its time to up your squash game! I’m all about seasonal eating. Why would I eat strawberries in the middle of the winter when I know they won’t be at the top of their game? Well with fall comes pumpkin, apple, and squash season!

Delicata squash is suppppperr easy to cook, and has a sweet flavor that leaves me swooning every single time I make it! Unfortunately they are not the easiest produce to find. However, Trader Joes never disappoints with my fall time favorites and I even spotted them at Whole Foods last week too!

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First, throw that sucker in the microwave for about 2 minutes so that it’s soft enough that you can cut it in half without also cutting off one of your limbs…trust me- this is necessary. Now, scoop out all the seeds and it’s ready to bake! Drizzle your squash with your favorite EVOO and toss it in your oven [I use my toaster oven] at 350 for about 8 minutes. Then it’s time to fill that bad boy up!

The good thing about delicata is that you can eat the skin! It bakes really well and becomes very tender. My favorite way to cook delicata squash is with an Italian spin. Here’s what I used on mine!

 

Ingredients

While your squash is cooking, cook your meat! Then scoop it into the squash with the mozzarella and top it with the marinara! Now, time to bake for about 10 minutes. I took mine out after 10 minutes and added a little more sauce and cheese on top and then broiled it until the cheese got melty and brown (a couple of minutes give or take.)

 

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Wahh-laaa! Easy peasy! And its’s great as a meal prep because it heats up well and doesn’t get all soggy!

Enjoy! And tag me if ya make it! #katiescardiokitchen @kburg21

PMA Fresh Summit Recap

I often send snaps of myself at the local produce stand and jokingly say I’m “at my happy place.” But honestly, I really do get excited when I walk into the produce market and pick out all the fresh foods that I will get to incorporate into my meal plan for the week. When NatureFresh approached me about attending the PMA Fresh Market Summit as a social media influencer I was beyond excited! I mean…c’mon, the PMA Fresh Summit is one of the largest produce conventions in the world, of course I couldn’t turn down the opportunity (even if it did mean I had to face my fear of driving on the interstate)!

Rewinddddd. So my boyfriend is always giving me a hard time about how I have made it 28 years without driving on the interstate. Technically- I made it 2 weeks short of 28 😉 and that takes dedication! But in all seriousness, interstates and traffic just don’t fend well with me. So when I decided to make the trek to Orlando, I knew this was going to be a ride for the books! Everything started out smoothly…packed up the car (as I was arriving a day early to stay with a local friend) and off I went! About 40 minutes in to my 2.5 hour drive my phone spontaneously turns off and I was unable to turn it back on. Hello anxiety. Luckily I had programmed the address into my car’s GPS. 10 minutes later…the car next to be blows a tire and there are debris flying all around my car. I tried to remain calm as my heart began to race and my hands gripped the wheel with angst. All I could think of at this time is that if I drive off the road I don’t even have a phone to call anyone! Luckily…I made it to my friend’s house (but not without a few more bumps in the road along the way) and her husband was able to fix my phone. Thanks Toby!

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Finally, Friday –which means it’s time for the Summit!

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We arrive at the Orange County Convention Center only to find there is no parking in the west wing. I was unaware of the size off the convention center. We parked on the south side and had to take a shuttle to the west wing. Why would you have to shuttle from one side of a building to another you ask? Yeah, I asked the same thing…the building is literally.that.big. Anyway…. we made it! Our tickets were ready for us at registration and we eagerly entered the doors to the Expo.

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“ahhhhhhhh” Yeah, that was the sound of the angels singing as we entered the land of produce. Could it be true that I was in a room with hundreds and hundreds of companies representing the global produce and floral supply chain from supplies, producers, growers, packagers, transporters, and everything in-between.

Our first stop of course was to visit NatureFresh! I am in complete awe of this great company. Firstly, their tomatoes are AHH-mazing! Their tomberries (the smallest tomato in the world) is also in my opinion the best tomato in the world 😉 It was such a pleasure to finally meet  Kara and have the opportunity to talk with Peter, the president and founder of the company as well as Ray, the director of business development.img_4290 Standing in the middle of this great event, chatting about health and changing the world was a very memorable experience for me. It was so refreshing to be surrounded with such positive people. I am humbled by the opportunity that I was given by this company and I cannot thank them enough for inviting me to tag along! All I can say is, wow. I was thoroughly impressed. I’m excited to watch this company grow more and can’t wait until I can buy all of their goodies at my local grocery store!

 

Now it was time to explore! I have never eaten so.much.guac in.my.life. I promise. And I’m not complaining! Guac on hot dogs, guac on tacos, chips, crackers, vegetables, blueberry guac, guac.on.guac. Sign me up! I tried it all! We had everything from bloody marys, to vegetable jerky, to carnival grapes, apples, BLTs, caprese salad, kraut, chocolate covered everythinggggg, coconut water, fresh nuts, fruits, vegetables, salads, seasonings, fruit juices, fresh cider, and soooo muchhh moreee. Let’s just say- I didn’t leave with an empty stomach 😉

Five hours of exploring the land of produce until my heart was content. I met some really awesome companies that I’m excited to work with and create some yummy new recipes for y’all! Starting with these yummy breakfast tacos I made this morning! Details are linked in the picture on my Instagram!

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Goodfoods

Twang

Happy Cooking!

 

#katiescardiokitchen @kburg21 #freshsummit #pmafreshsummit

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shout out to all these yummy companies for providing me with snacks for daysssss!

Cheesy Taco Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers have become one of my go-to low carb meals over the last year. They are just so versatile and you can pretty much stuff anything inside of a pepper…leftovers, chicken, vegetables, cheese, pork, beef, rice, quinoa…did I mention cheese…because we all know cheese is the way to my heart…along with tacos..so what’s better than a cheesy taco stuffed pepper? The correct answer is nothingggggg! HELLO YUM!

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Here’s what you’ll need!

1 lb Mighty Spark Food Renegade Chef Blend (beef, beef sirloin, beef brisket, and beef short rib blend)

1 cup of Trader Joes multigrain blend with vegetables

1 tbs FreshJax taco seasoning

4 large bell peppers

Latourangelle grapeseed oil

½ cup sliced grape tomatoes

½ cup cubed jalapeno jack cheese

Redmond’s garlic salt

2 Green onions sliced

BOOM that’s it!

First, cook your beef blend on medium until there is no pink. While the meat is cooking- cut the tops of the peppers off and clean out the seeds. Drizzle the peppers with the grape seed oil and sprinkle with garlic salt. Once the meat is finished cooking you can add in the taco seasoning and mix in the multigrain blend.

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Now it’s time to assemble these bad boys!

I like the bottoms to be extra cheesy so I stuff some a few cubes of cheese into the bottoms of the peppers before adding in the meat and grain blend and then evenly distribute the tomatoes and the rest of your cheese into the peppers and you’re ready to bake ‘em!

I tossed mine into the toaster oven, but you can use a regular oven if you don’t have one. Cook them at 400 for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is browned on top and the peppers are a little soft. I don’t like my peppers to be too crunchy so I tend to leave mine in a little longer to assure they are thoroughly cooked. Now toss your sliced green onions on top and whaaa-laah!

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And just like that- dinner is served! Protein, carbs, and vegetables all in one easy dish!

Enjoy!

 

As always- tag me on Instagram if ya make ‘em so I can see!

@kburg21 #katiescardiokitchen

September 3rd- What is means to me…

You know how certain dates kind of hit home- they bring up old feelings, remind you of past experiences, celebrations, moments of pure joy and mile stones for accomplishments. We celebrate birthdays, wedding anniversaries, sobriety, holidays, and then we countdown the days until we get to celebrate them once again. But there are also those dates that remind us of difficult transitions, of loss, and goodbyes.

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My hippie momma!

 

For me- September 3rd is a day that resonates with me. To me- it’s a day of celebration as well as a day of mourning. Because on September 3rd, 2013 I lost my best friend, my confident, my world came crashing down around me in a matter of seconds. On September 3rd, I unexpectedly lost my mother. Fast forward 2 years and September 3rd, 2015 I made the biggest life decision I have ever made. I had weight loss surgery that forever changed my life. You see… every day of the year marks the beginning and the end of something for someone out there…and for me…September 3rd marks both the start of a new life and the ending of another- in more ways than one.

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September 3rd, 2013

The day my world changed. I was a new grad nurse and had just started my first day of orientation as a Registered Nurse in Florida. My parents were back in Indiana spending the summer at their lake house and had just closed up for the year. Sadly, my cousin had just passed away from undiagnosed condition known as myocarditis. She was a young nurse back in Indiana and it was a total shock to everyone around her. My parents were on their way back to our hometown where the services were being held. They were driving two cars and like any other trip back home they always stopped for ice cream at the halfway mark. They had only been back on the road for 10 minutes when my mother’s car left the road, hit an embankment and plunged into a tree. I cannot fathom the feelings my father must have felt as he witnessed this unfold before him. And just like that, in the blink of an eye, my mother was gone. We will never know what caused her car to go off the road. There are so many unanswered questions that will forever go through my head.

The days following her accident are all a blur. Flying back to Indiana. Saying goodbye to my mother for the last time. Days passed by..months…a year…2 years…

Rewind a few years…

I had always been the bigger girl…in middle school…high school…I had convinced myself that I was built that way. That I had a larger frame than the other girls I knew. I tried dieting. I tried exercising. I fell off the wagon time and time again. I felt like no matter what I did I would always be “big.” I would spend weeks losing 20 pounds and felt like it only took a few days to gain it right back. Each time I failed I become more and more discouraged with myself. And when I lost my mother I totally gave up on myself. I fell into binge eating. Fast food ruled my life. My life was spiraling out of control and I had no one to blame but myself. Until one day something clicked inside of me. I wanted better for myself. And my mother would have wanted that too. That was the day I decided I was having weight loss surgery.

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As many of you know, you don’t just decide you are having surgery and then you have it the next week. There are months of supervised diets, psych evals, dietary consults, weigh ins, insurance approvals, and mental preparation that go into having  surgery. I think that the scariest decision I ever made was actually deciding to have surgery…and the second was the day I decided to tell my family. I was terrified that they would not be supportive, afraid of being judged and scared that they wouldn’t approve of my decision. I know that my father (having lost 100 pounds without surgery) was not thrilled with my decision, but he supported me regardless of his reservations. Today, I can confidently say that he would agree that having gastric sleeve surgery was the best decision I ever made for myself.  I still remember getting the phone call from my surgeon’s office stating that I was approved for surgery and that they scheduled me for September 3rd. Of all days. September 3rd. I wasn’t sure how my mother would have felt about my choice to have weight loss surgery. For me- this was the sign I had been looking for. I felt like this was her way of telling me that I was making the right decision and that she supported that.

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September 3rd, 2015

The day my life changed….again!

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The day of surgery!

I arrived at the hospital at 5 am- full of every emotion from one end of the spectrum to the other-fear, excitement, anxiety, joy, and hope.  I spent months preparing for this day. For the day that would change my life forever. And all I could do was hope that I was making the right decision. My hospital stay did not go as smoothly as anticipated. I spent countless nights in the ICU with kidney failure after having an allergic reaction to medications. I don’t remember much from those days because I was so ill that I could barely think. But I can tell you if I had to do it all over again- I wouldn’t change a thing. My experience as a patient taught me so much about being on the other side of the hospital bed. As a nurse it’s difficult to relate to patients when you haven’t experienced being a patient yourself. My entire experience has helped be become the person I am today. I am beyond grateful for that.

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Finally out of ICU and pug came to visit!

 

September 3rd, 2018

Today! Today marks 5 years since I lost my beautiful mother. My mother was a saint in all of its meaning. She was the bravest, strongest, most awe inspiring woman I have ever known. I never met a soul that didn’t admire her. She had the most contagious smile with a laugh that could fill the whole room. The lady that taught me how to live and more importantly – how to love. They say that time heals. That eventually it doesn’t hurt as bad. But that’s not true at all. I’ve learned that although time doesn’t heal the wounds in my heart from losing you- I have gotten stronger over these past 5 years. Growing up we don’t anticipate life without our parents until much later in life. I’ll never understand why you had to leave us so early. But I’ll forever cherish the years I did have with you by my side. Thank you for teaching me all the important things during your lifetime but also for the lessons you taught me after you left this earth. Since you’ve been gone I’ve learned how truly special life is. Life is precious. It’s temporary and should never be taken for granted. The present moment is where life happens. Right here, right now. Take a deep breath and experience life in the present time. You can’t spend your life second guessing your past or waiting to live your life in the future. All you have is now. This moment. Loss can bring unexpected blessings into your life. When you experience enormous losses you open up your soul for healing love from new sources. I am in awe of the resiliency of the human spirit. Love is the true meaning of life. It’s so easy to get caught up in school, careers, and material items. But really all you need is love. Love is what matters. Love is what’s remembered. And love will last forever.

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Today I am 3 years post from my gastric sleeve surgery. I am down over 120 pounds and have been maintaining here for 2 years. The weight did not magically fall off. It took a lot of discipline and hard work to get to where I am today.  I lost a lot in order to gain so much more. This experience has not only given me my health- but it’s given me an entirely new outlook on life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I not overcome the obstacles I encountered to get here. It’s taken me a long time to realize that my weight does NOT define me. All the negative feelings I once felt about myself did not magically disappear when I lost weight. I had to take it upon myself to look within myself and find the love that I so desperately needed. We are all creators of our own happiness. Love who you are today and tomorrow will become easier.

 

September 3rd is an emotional day in my house. It symbolizes the last day that my mother walked on this earth and it represents a new beginning in my life. The day my life changed- in so many ways.

That’s what September 3rd means to me- every day has a significant meaning for someone. What’s your day?