Friendly Food – Pizza

It is not uncommon for me to invite myself over to my friend Jason and Brenna Profit’s home for dinner. Jason is a good friend from college, and Brenna likes me enough that she allowed me to officiate their wedding several summers ago. :) That’s right, in addition to my ever growing culinary skills I am also a wedding officiant, technically I could invite myself over for Friendly Food one night and cap off the evening with dinner nuptials. Any takers??

Jason had prepared a menu of fresh baked pizzas using Trader Joe’s pizza dough. Honestly, I am fairly new at this whole cooking thing but I don’t know how healthy our meal really was. I am pretty sure the pizza dough was better than your average processed dough and the toppings consisted of fresh veggies and cheeses, but there was cheese and ham….everything in moderation they say, though, I did go back for additional slices.

There were two delicious pizzas that I helped Jason create, and by create I mean I occasionally popped up from my chair to spread sauce or add ingredients to the pizzas. The first had a tomato sauce with ham, onions, mushrooms (I insisted they were only on half, I am not a fan) mozzarella and topped with basil. The second pizza was an olive oil garlic base with goat cheese, prunes, and caramelized onions also topped with basil.

I brought ingredients for my favorite salad, mixed greens, wild smoked salmon, avocado (we had to nix this as it wasn’t ripe enough), apple and feta cheese.

I had no doubt that the evening was going to be fantastic, good food, good wine and even better friends! Also, it wasn’t a bad idea for us to do this prior to the arrival of their baby this summer!

Congrats and thanks Jason & Brenna!

Friendly Food 1 friendly food 2 Friendly Food 3

Friendly Food – Thai Tofu Salad Wraps

I remember as if it was yesterday, having just moved back to Seattle I was looking for a new hair stylist. I was sitting in a chair nervously glancing around at the surrounding stylists with brightly colored hair and tattoos, the cape was already snapped around my neck making a run for it difficult. My new stylist, Jennifer Cassady, sensed my unease, placed her hand on my shoulder and said “we do normal too”. A friendship was born and twelve-ish years later I am standing in her kitchen asking her to teach me her favorite recipe.

I arrived at Jenn’s house and Parker her five year old opened the door, greeted me and before long was taking me on a full house tour. It was time to get down to the business at hand, dinner. Jenn had already pre-marinated the tofu making this a very easy meal to create.

We placed the marinated tofu cubes into the oven to broil for fifteen minutes, taking the time to turn them every five minutes. While the tofu was broiling we prepped the salad ingredients. Easy peasy, clean, chop and toss.

I think the most difficult part of the meal was creating the salad dressing, and by difficult I mean it was more involved than opening a salad dressing bottle and pouring, I actually had to zest!

We were able to squeeze in a game of Cat in the Hat before dinner, that had me jumping around a thingamastick with Parker while Miller headed to bed.

Dinner, was delicious! It was vegetarian, fresh and filling! We took individual lettuce leafs and filled them taco style with our salad mix and marinated tofu.

Since the end of my road trip I have really been missing these moments, hanging out with friends in their space, playing with their kids, really getting to know them, getting a glance at their home life, Friendly Food is giving me a chance to continue connecting with my friends and for that I am grateful!

On another note….if you are looking for a great hair stylist/salon check out Jenn’s new salon Arrow Hair & Beauty located downtown Seattle.

Tofu Marinade:
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for broiling
2 tablespoons Thai red chili paste
2 teaspoons sugar

Salad Items:
1 head living lettuce
2  cups cubed cucumbers
2 cups green beans, chopped
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh Thai Basil leaves
Cilantro leaves for garnish
1 small Thai red chile, seeded and thinly sliced, for garnish

Juice of 2 limes, plus zest of 1 lime
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

cassady 1

Cassady 2

Thai Tofu Salad recipe Tofu Marinade Recipe

Friendly Food – Mediterranean Feta Lamb Burgers

This was mFriendly Food Logoy second “Friendly Food” and I have to say that I really think I am on to something here. Catching up with great friends, learning new cooking skills and recipes and getting to feast on tasty food is as close to a perfect night as it gets in my book.

This particular night had me at my friend Ariane and Darren’s house. I have known Ariane for over ten years, we became fast friends at work and even had the opportunity to travel to Spain together. I have known Darren for approximately the same amount of time, having met him through mutual friends. I remember going to a birthday party for these mutual friends and seeing Ariane walk through the door, color me confused! It turns out two spectacular people in my life found each other and were soon to be married, become parents to Sienna & Blake and have me over to cook dinner with them!

After some cuddle time with Baby Blake and a scene which had Darren giving Sienna a mint in the other room without us knowing and then us chasing after her to get the “little blue pill” that she had just popped in her mouth we decided to get down to some serious cooking business.

Ariane had laid out all the ingredients in little dishes which again had me mentally pretending I was on my own cooking show. We started by making homemade tzatziki sauce out of greek yogurt, lemon, garlic, cucumbers and dill. We tested the mixture before deciding that it could use a little more garlic which I remedied with four more cloves, perhaps a tiny bit of overkill. I was next instructed to put on gloves to dice the jalapeno pepper and mix the ingredients into the lamb. I have NEVER liked the feeling of raw meat on my hands or the burning of my eyes after rubbing them after playing with peppers, these gloves are brilliant! We rounded out the meal with sweet potato fries and a everything but the kitchen sink salad.

I left with a full stomach and a happy heart and some new tricks up my cooking sleeves.

Big thanks to Ariane and Darren!!


Ariane & Darren

Lamb Sliders

Tzatziki Sauce

Baked Sweet Potato Fries


What is Friendly Food?

“Friendly Food” is a blog feature; combining social hour with hands on learning that culminates into a well crafted meal, an expanding recipe collection and ever growing knife skills.  I am inviting myself over for dinner at friend’s houses (or at least heavily hinting until they invite me), asking them to pull out their favorite healthy recipe and playing the role of sous chef.











Friendly Food – Cauliflower “Bread” Sticks & Eggplant Pizza

Friendly Food Logo

I am constantly inviting myself over to my friend’s Jayden & Marco Godina’s house for dinner so I thought this would be the perfect first stop for “Friendly Food”.

I walked into a kitchen prepped with the ingredients in little bowls, it felt so official, the only thing missing was the camera crew! We quickly got down to business, they entrusted me with a knife and I was soon sous “cheffing” my way through the meal. I chopped eggplant, cauliflower and basil before hopping over to the food processor and “ricing” the cauliflower into small bits for the bread sticks. I was only asked once to hand the knife over for a knifing tutorial.

The meal was wonderful, quite easy and something that I would definitely make again, you can find the recipes at the bottom of this post.

This was the perfect launch of “Friendly Food”, I spent quality time with two great friends, learned new skills and some new recipes. I didn’t win at the game of Life but I certainly feel with nights like this that I am winning at Life.

A huge thank you Jayden & Marco! XOXO


My fabulous hosts: Jayden & Marco Godina


The friendly ingredients


Eggplant slices, salted to remove moisture and wiped clean, ready to bake in the oven.

Marco Instruction 1

Friendly lessons. Marco instructing me on what 3/4″ really looks like.

Sarah Smiles

Patting the cauliflower mixture into the pan to bake, apparently this is funny.


Cauliflower “Bread” Sticks ready to be “sticked”


Eggplant Pizza





Lunchbox chewing on the sandwich I brought him.


Friendly Food turned into a Friendly Game of Life.

Cauliflower Bread SticksEggplant Pizza


What is Friendly Food?

“Friendly Food” is a blog feature; combining social hour with hands on learning that culminates into a well crafted meal, an expanding recipe collection and ever growing knife skills.

I am inviting myself over for dinner at friend’s houses (or at least heavily hinting until they invite me), asking them to pull out their favorite healthy recipe and playing the role of sous chef.

Me and Reiki

Saturday night, dimmed lights, relaxing music and lit candles…..and me laying on a massage table in the middle of my friend Jenny’s living room.

Jenny recently completed her certification in Reiki and invited me over for a session. Typically, the two of us get in a room and its all puns and giggles but this time there was business to be done. I settled in to the bed and immediately relaxed, closing my eyes to let her do her magic. She started first by placing her hands on my stomach and ensuring me that she would not be touching me in any inappropriate places, phew, that was a concern!

I first encountered Reiki about six years ago and really enjoyed the experience but with a limited budget didn’t make it a part of my regular routine. I did take away the practice of “grounding” myself though and have used it countless times in the years since.  When I was in New York I met with a nutrition counselor and the subject of meditation and grounding came up and when I told her how I had learned to ground myself in a Reiki session years ago she told me that my whole demeanor changed, that my face lit up when describing the practice. It made me realize that I need to spend more energy on things that effect my energy.

Back to the scene, Jenny is moving through my chakras and asked if I wanted to hear what entered her mind while working on me. Penny for your thoughts…or in this case Jenny for your thoughts! She asked me if I had seen the movie or read the book “Wild“. I indicated I was in the middle of the book, she told me that while she was up at my throat chakra she couldn’t stop thinking about “Wild”, she tried to clear her mind and it kept creeping back into her thoughts. Throughout my journey I had several people tell me that my story reminds them a bit of the book and now the movie. I haven’t finished the book to know but I believe the similarities lie in having lost a mother and going on a journey to focus on one’s personal health and growth. I have thought throughout the past year about writing a book and it is still on my list of things to do (really though, don’t we all think we have a book in us?). When I shared this with Jenny she told me that the throat chakra (Vishuddha) represented my voice which immediately initiated chills and since our appointment I have heard from no less than three people that my story reminds them of “Wild”.

On my list of things to do, finish reading “Wild” and write a book. No problem!

Jenny is working towards opening her own practice, until then I hope to be on her table as often as she will have me. Once she is up and running I will let you all know where you can find her.Jenny O


I love this lady!



Image taken from



Last night in the city: Goodbye Seattle

Marriott Pion 1

I was all packed up, personal items in storage or shoved into every nook and cranny of my car, and as I locked the door to my home one last time I realized I was now without a home base.  I was staying with friends in Issaquah when I received an email from the General Manager at the Courtyard by Marriott Pioneer Square inviting me to stay with them prior to my departure.  I was ecstatic, one last night in the city? They wouldn’t have to ask me twice!  I had cultivated a great relationship with the hotel and its management during my last job.  They were always wonderful to work with and I knew that my stay with them would be enjoyable.

The Marriott Pioneer Square lives in the old Alaska Building built in 1904.  You will find many original elements of the building still in tact including a gorgeous marble lobby and staircase carefully mixed with modern new amenities.

I arrived at the hotel and was given a warm welcome including a cold beverage while I checked in to my room.  They had hooked me up and put me in a King Suite which was a corner room overlooking Elliott Bay! I could gaze into the eyes of my beloved city one last time before I skipped town.

I left my car with the valet and headed out for a nice dinner with friends for the evening. I had all intentions of waking early for a workout in the onsite gym but old habits die hard and I burned the midnight oil a tad bit and missed my opportunity.  Change takes time people.

I will miss my interactions with the group at the Marriott Pioneer Square.  If you ever have a need for a hotel in the city you should definitely consider this hotel.  The modern decor coupled with the historical bones makes this a very interesting place to stay.

Courtyard Seattle Downtown/Pioneer Square . 612 2nd Avenue . Seattle, Washington 98104

Marriott Pion 2Marriott Pion 3Marriott Pion 4 Marriott Pion 5marriott staircase

An Introduction: Jason Balajadia

Jason B CollageJason Balajadia/Jason & Sarah after a strenuous workout :)

Preparing to hit the road and blog about my food and fitness challenges couldn’t be done cold turkey.  When a good friend asked me if I would join her in a workout with her trainer my immediate answer was yes, of course, this is what the next few months of my life will need to look like, let’s do this! The confidence I spoke with was in direct conflict to the growing anxiety in my stomach. While I felt confident that I could step up to the challenge I was nervous about working out with someone I didn’t know.  Would he be nice? Would he be open minded and not judge me? Would he accommodate my injuries? The answer to all of those was a resounding YES!

I met Jason and my friend Patti at Bassline Fitness in Kirkland, WA (  He was incredibly friendly and interested in my upcoming trip.  I gave him a quick run down on my hopes and dreams for Losing Weight Off the Interstate and when he replied with enthusiasm and support I felt at ease.

Prior to beginning the warmup Jason took a few moments to chat with me about any issues or injuries that I had. I sadly was dealing with both an ankle and knee issue and he took that into consideration when creating our workout.  There were a lot of similar elements to the workout with Jason and the workouts I had been doing with David Wheeler, at one moment I was even teased for showing off by how I lifted a sand bag into my arms.

During this workout I felt the sweat on my forehead but more importantly I felt pride knowing that I was up for the challenges that would be presented in the upcoming months.

Thank you Jason for taking the time to workout with me and for the support you showed!

Jason Balajadia –

An Introduction: Sync Fitness

sara dean (2)

I remember the moment when I first decided to try a personal training program; one of my closest friends pressured me to try the “6 Week Total Body Transformation” program being offered by Sync Fitness which was created by Sara Dean, a fellow Zag (Gonzaga University Alumni).   I was hesitant to sign up for many reasons, namely I knew that six weeks would be a tiny pebble in the mountain of rocks that would be my weight loss journey.

This six weeks; however, turned out to be a turning point in my view towards personal training and my body’s capabilities.  I was shocked that I survived and lost fifteen pounds, but more importantly I realized that my body and mind could be pushed to the limits I set for it, survive and even succeed.

The classes at Sync Fitness are hard; there are a lot of blood sweat and tears happening, though I might have been the only one crying.  Sara gives her clients the tools to succeed in a lifestyle change, providing guidance with food and nutrition as well as an adaptable exercise program to all people regardless of fitness level.

When the six weeks were over and we were given an opportunity to sign up for Boot Camp classes, I turned to my friend and told her no way in hell could I ever survive a Boot Camp, she just laughed and told me that is what we had been doing for the past six weeks.  What? I had been fooled!

When I left Sync Fitness I half heard Sara warn us about old habits resurfacing and the slippery slope of weight gain. I brushed it off, I had this, no worries!  That was several years ago and several pounds ago. It turns out it is quite the slippery slope, and once again I should have listened to my trainer.

Sara has been a personal trainer in the Seattle area since 2003 and is the owner of both Sync Fitness and Fit Healthy Moms.  She offers a plethora of classes for all sorts of fitness levels.   Sara’s programs are not just for local Seattleites, there are several programs available online, additionally she has loads of interesting and helpful tips on her websites.

Sync 206-354-7480

Fit Healthy Moms.

I asked Sara the trainer questions and her responses are found below. Additionally you will be able to see a summarized version here:

Q. How long have you been training?

A. 10 years! 

Q. What is your fitness philosophy?

A. I believe in giving people hope and quantifiable results.  Most people who come to me are frustrated and unsure of how to get what they want physically (and sometimes emotionally.)  I teach people exactly what to do to get real, lasting results. 

Q. Why did you become a strength coach?

A. I became a trainer after being overweight my entire childhood and youth.  Finding fitness as an adult helped me feel comfortable in my skin for the first time in my life and I wanted to be able to give that same experience to as many other people as possible.

Q. How do you customize your program to adapt to different fitness levels?

A. In our classes and programs, my trainers and I structure workouts in a way that people can work at their own pace.  Additionally, we teach people how to modify moves and ask for help when needed.  There is no shame in being at a different fitness level than the person next to you.  You both SHOWED UP, therefore you’re both awesome.

Q. What do you do in Seattle to stay in shape outside of the gym?

A. Running on sunny days.  It’s such a treat to put away the rain gear and run in the sun in Seattle! 

Q. What do you do to continue your fitness education?

A. I’m a conference freak and a social media junkie.  So I am constantly learning from my colleagues online and at events.  I have a professional network that expands the globe, allowing me to learn from professionals who do an amazing job changing lives.  This is really fun and exciting for me.

Q. Do you have a success story you are most proud of?

A. I have so many clients who have impressed me over the years.  I have many clients who have done things they never thought possible – losing a ton of weight; running 5Ks, half marathons, marathons; climbing mountains; completing 100 days of Boot Camp or simply becoming a regular exerciser.  I think I’m most proud of my clients who change the way they see themselves as a result of what they have achieved in our programs.  It becomes life changing for them and it is amazing to watch.

Q. What is your favorite workout soundtrack or song?

A. Currently – Fun.  And anything from Bootie Mashups (

Q. What is your most embarrassing gym moment?

A. I don’t embarrass in the gym anymore – I have no shame.  But years ago, the first time I got on a step mill (the rotating stair climbing machine, with actual steps) I thought I’d be tough and make it go really fast.  Once I got it going super fast, I couldn’t reach the buttons to make it stop or slow.  So, I to yell for help and have someone else stop it for me.  It was not pretty or graceful.

Q. Do you have any specials that you offer your new clients?

A. I offer all prospective clients a complimentary trial class.  But more, importantly, we offer all clients, new and old, a comfortable place to come push yourself.  We want folks of all abilities to feel welcome and able to work to the best of their abilities that day.