The Fruit vs. The Fitbit

Brian tricked me the other day. He said he wanted to go into the Apple Store to look at the new iPhones. He was interested in an upgrade. But when we got there, he bee-lined for the Apple Watches and I looked at him with rolling eyes.

I have been pretty anti-Apple Watch since they debuted a year ago. Reviews were so inconclusive depending on who wrote it and I just did not feel the need to be so connected. I already feel like my iPhone is a ball and chain sometimes. This Apple Watch thing would literally be like a handcuff! Shackled to anyone who wanted to get a hold of me or advertise to me.

I’m all about the idea of fitness trackers though. I had the original fitbit when it came out back in 2011 or whatever. And for the past 6 months or so, I’ve been using the Fitbit Charge (no heart-rate monitor). I’ve loved it (aside from the slightly bulky and utilitarian feel). It works consistently, gives me the data I need and doesn’t try to be something it’s not.

A couple of the main Cons I feel the Apple Watch has are the following:

  1. No GPS – Why the hell not?? You’re an Apple product! You couldn’t find some way to shove GPS in there? Not having GPS means you can’t leave your phone at home and still get accurate results when mapping your run or walk
  2. No Sleep Tracking – Again, if developers can take what you give them to make third party apps that are third rate… why not take a few more months to have your Apple developers make a sleep tracking app?
  3. Oh wait, here’s why: Battery Life lasts only ~18 hours. If you’ve worn the Watch all day there will be no charge left when you’re about to go to sleep. (Fitbit boasts 4-5 days before needing to plug in)
  4. Unable to remove Default Apps – I abhor Apple Maps. I don’t look at Stocks (Brian keeps me up to speed there), I’m not going to use the Passport/Wallet feature. Yet, they have to remain on the Watch, taking up valuable space.
  5. Too Many Options, Not Enough Customer-Friendly Customization – Let me explain. When B and I went into the store, we saw laid out before us a beautiful array of watches with different bands and color schemes. This was exciting for my brain! I could choose the watch face and the band I wanted and have the perfect custom combo that fit my style. Wrong. The way Apple set it up is that – if you want the gold Watch face, it comes with the white plastic band initially – you can’t swap it out for the black leather one if that’s what you truly want. No, instead you have to spend $50+ more on the band you want and basically toss out the band it comes with (unless you like white plastic bands). In short, there’s a lot of variety. But to take advantage of that variety you have to spend a lot more money (or buy cheap alternatives at Amazon that don’t match up in quality).

I should probably stop here. I don’t want this to become a big negative post about the Apple Watch. It’s beautiful and functional. It has been fun getting notifications of texts while I’m at the grocery store and don’t want to lug my iPhone 6S Plus out of the bottom of my purse. It’s almost kinda fun that I don’t have to have my phone next to me all the time to get notifications. That’s the big draw here, especially for women who are juggling a lot at once. You don’t need a whole hand (or two) to check a text or see who’s calling – just flip your wrist toward the sun and keep movin’.

For those interested, I did a small and unscientific sleep tracking comparison last night.

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Fitbit Charge / Apple Watch

I wore my Fitbit Charge and the Apple Watch on the same wrist and slept with the trackers going. I was curious to see if the Sleep++ app for the Watch could match up to the Fitbit. Check out the images below!

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Sleep++ screenshot

 

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Fitbit App screenshot

The Fitbit:
This little device tracks my every move – but not in a creepy way. It knows when I go to bed and when I fall asleep (I swear, it’s really not creepy!). It knows when I get up in the middle of the night and when I finally get out of bed in the morning. And it does all of this automatically. All I have to do is get in bed and sleep.

The Apple Watch:
This device doesn’t track sleep. But this is a sleep tracking comparison so there’s gotta be a way. I downloaded the Sleep++ app on my iPhone, went to the Watch app and installed it to the Watch itself. Then, when I was ready to snooze, I opened up the app from my Watch and hit the “Start Tracking” button.

The image below has a side-by-side comparison of my sleep last night via the Fitbit (left) and Apple Watch (right). They are actually quite similar. The Apple Watch detected a lot more movement, as you can see from the more plentiful light-blue bars. But it didn’t really know I fully woke up around 6:15 to use the bathroom, it just thought I was moving around a lot. Fitbit calculated all that movement as actually being awake… because, I was quite awake for those few minutes! No sleep-walking here!

While the Apple Watch seemed to catch most of my movements and tossing/turning, the Fitbit took only the biggest movements and restlessness into account. I’m satisfied with that, especially since it did register when I woke up for a potty break.

The other item to note is the total sleep time difference. Sleep++ probably calculated the whole time between when I initiated the tracking and when I stopped it, which clearly was not all the time I actually slept. One perk of this app is you can edit down the time. Say you woke up at 8:00am but forgot to turn it off until lunchtime. You can trim off those extra hours for a more accurate calculation. But that process makes the automatic tracking of the Fitbit a lot more appealing. There’s something nice about Fitbit just knowing.

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In summary: The Fitbit blows the Watch away when it comes to sleep tracking, in my opinion. The details are better and it seems more efficient.

However, I really think there’s an argument for both devices. If you’re really into tracking fitness I’d go with the Fitbit Blaze. The Blaze tracks heart rate, sleep, activity, and receives notifications from your phone (texts, phone calls, calendar updates) and much more. It does not have GPS tracking. I’ve been using the Fitbit Charge which lets me know when someone is calling me by a quick vibration and that has been really great. Compare all the different Fitbit styles here.

If you want a more well rounded smartwatch and you’ve got the iPhone, give the Apple Watch a try. You’ll need to do your research regarding apps and it takes a good day or two to figure it out. Sleep++ is the best rated sleep app specifically for the Watch. If you want GPS tracking, you’ll need to arrange to bring your phone with you everywhere – maybe this will bring fanny packs back in style?

Leave your thoughts or questions below!

Open Letter to Inspiration

Hello there, Inspiration.

I know you’re floating around out there somewhere. Elizabeth Gilbert says are you an entity all your own. I think, deep down, I always knew that; and it seems so right – that you have been just waiting for me to be ready to accept you back.

You feel like an old friend whom I parted ways with, but I want to get to know you again.

I know I’ve been very headstrong in believing I can only write when I’m unhappy. And then, still, I don’t write when I’m unhappy. Clearly there has been something missing.

And I think that “something” was you. I pushed you away. I actually felt that I didn’t deserve you so you kept your distance until – hopefully – now, when I know I deserve to have you back in my life. I’m going to work really hard at accepting whatever you give me, if I feel I’m up to it.

I’m sure someone else has written you an open letter like this already. But they haven’t used my words or my soul to say it just like this. It may not be an original idea, but it is an authentic letter – written to you because I needed you to know I’m still here and I still want your gifts of ideas and magic.

If it’s poetry you want to get written, I can be your girl.

If it’s a blog post, I can be your girl.

If it’s an article about whatever, just tell me – I can be your girl.

Hit me with the tingles or deja vu. Find a way to communicate with me and I promise I will be listening. Choose me.

I miss the nights we used to spend awake until 2:00am in our pjs blogging and writing with all the angst a 17 year old could muster. Let’s get those days back.

Your Old Friend,
Heidi

No Measurements Monday

I’m still not good at consistently taking photos of food. As I’m spooning or shoveling food into my mouth I realize – shit – I was supposed to take a picture of this. *resumes shoveling*

So, in advance: Sorry for the lack of photos.

Tonight I’m initiating a new series of posts called No Measurements Monday. I’ve seen similar types of ‘recipes’ around the internet and the concept makes so much sense to me. These focus on whipping up a quick and healthy meal without all the hassle of multiple measuring spoons and cups (less dishes to wash!! Yay!!!).

Welcome to the first No Measurements Monday or #nomemo as it’ll be known on social media.

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This week’s NoMeMo is a pasta dish with a creamy garlic mushroom sauce. It’d be easy to make even if I did want you to get the measurements exact, but I’m giving you a pass to skip the precision and just go with your gut and trust your tastebuds.

The below instructions are for two generous servings, increase your ingredient amounts proportionately if you’re serving more people (ie: double or triple my suggestions). Don’t worry – you can’t mess this one up – unless maybe you dump in too much salt!

Ingredients:

Cooked pasta
Butter
Minced Garlic
Mushrooms (I used Crimini)
Other veggies chopped, if desired
Heavy Cream or Whole Milk
All-purpose flour
Herbs De Provence
Salt & Pepper
Grated Parmesan Cheese

  • First, get your water boiling with a generous amount of salt. Cook pasta according to package directions. (I used capellini which cooks super fast: ~4 min). Once the pasta is al dente, mix  in a little olive oil (I actually used white truffle oil to enhance the earthy flavor I wanted) into the pasta and set aside.
  • While the pasta cooks, melt a good amount (about 2 tbsp) of butter in a non-stick skillet. When the butter has started to brown just slightly, toss in some minced garlic (this is optional – we love garlic in our house so I did one oversized clove!). Let the garlic sauté until fragrant (1 min).
  • Once garlic is stinking up your house real good and fending off Kristen Stewart, throw in a nice big handful of Crimini mushrooms (more or less, depending on your love of ‘shrooms) into the butter. Let these sauté until golden brown.
    • If you want to make this a hardier meal, feel free to add in additional veggies. Onion, bell pepper or zucchini would be great additions. I suggest cooking these before the mushrooms, since mushrooms cook a lot faster. I did peas in one variation of this meal and it was amazing.IMG_5828
  • Now, the fun part! The cream sauce… awwwww yissss. Pour about half a cup (give or take depending on the serving size you’re aiming for) of heaving cream or whole milk into the skillet with butter and mushrooms. Add about a tablespoon of all-purpose flour to the mixture and whisk together until combined. Then add a generous dash of Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper to taste AND grated parmesan cheese (as much as your little heart desires). Mix this up real good and let simmer for a few minutes on low heat until the sauce has thickened up to your liking, stirring often so not to burn it. What’s worse than spilt milk? Burned milk.IMG_5829
  • Toss the sauce in with your pasta and mix well. Serve in a bowl with a little extra parmesan on top and, voila! You’re done.

Get creative with this dish. Experiment with seasonings and different veggies. It’s an easy and cheap way to get a delicious and people-pleasing meal on the table.

Thanks for your attention and I hope you enjoyed the first No Measurements Monday post.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please leave them below or email me!

 

A New Tradition: Homemade Pizza Night

I got it in my head yesterday that I wanted to make homemade pizza and I wanted to use the fresh sage from my tiny herb garden. We also had this amazing Italian truffle cheese in the fridge. I’ve been obsessed with that cheese since we bought it and I thought it’d be great on pizza.

I ran to Trader Joe’s to pick up some ingredients (including their dough because why try to improve what’s already good and easy?).

What I came up with was a sweet and savory, buttery and crispy pizza that has me drooling as I type. There is something about the truffle flavor that gets me in a tizzy. Mesh that with some sage and oh my gosh caramelized onions. HEAVEN. Then top it with a little Prosciutto and BAM – favorite pizza ever.

Let me tell you, I have not stopped hearing Brian talk about this pizza. He said he woke up thinking about it.

Without further ado…!

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First, we gotta prep the onions and get those cookin’. I used one yellow onion for this pizza and it was plenty. Cut onion(s) into strips from top to root or dice. Heat butter in pan on Medium heat and toss in the onions, stir to coat them with the butter. Stir every 3-5 minutes – it will take a while for them to caramelize so while they’re cooking start prepping everything else. Eventually, you’ll start to see dark residue on the pan. This is the fond. Add a little water to the pan (2 tbsp) and scrape the fond off the pan and stir into onions. This is what helps give the onions rich flavor and color. For more info on caramelizing onions click here.


I used Trader Joe’s Wheat dough but here’s a good how-to if you want to make your own. For the TJ’s dough, let it sit at room temp for about 30 min. Preheat your oven to at least 450º (the higher the better – I did 475º) for 30 min. Lightly dust your work surface (I used a wood cutting board) with flour. Stretch and pull the dough into desired shape and transfer to your pizza stone or a flat rimless baking sheet. Brush entire surface of dough with the truffle oil and sprinkle with sea salt. I then par-baked the dough for 3 minutes while I finished up the onions.

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I layered on the onions and cheese (for the cheese I cut cubes of fontina and Italian Truffle cheese and spread evenly). Then I baked the pizza for 8 minutes.

During these 8 minutes I melted about 1 1/2 tbsp of salted butter until it began turning brown and added the sage. The sage fried until crispy.
I also tore a slice of prosciutto into small pieces.

After the 8 minutes I drizzled the butter & sage sauce over the entire pizza (especially the crust!) and added the prosciutto. Then cooked it for 3 more minutes in the oven.

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Then it was ready to eat!

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For being a fairly involved recipe, it was easy. I was able to sip my wine and take bites of cracker and truffle cheese (just can’t get enough) while I cooked.
We also had no leftovers. 😦

Here’s the recipe. Post your comments and questions below!

FULL RECIPE
Ingredients:
1 yellow or red onion
4 tbsp butter, divided
Pizza dough of your choice
1 tbsp Truffle Oil
Sea Salt to taste
8+ Sage leaves
1/4 cup cubed fontina cheese
1/4 cup Italian truffle cheese
Small handful of proscuitto, torn

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 475º for 30 min.

2. While oven is preheating, melt 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cut 1 onion into slices and toss in the melted butter. Let cook, stirring & deglazing fond occasionally, until caramelized to your liking.

3. Flatten and shape dough on a lightly floured surface. Season crust with truffle oil and sea salt. Par-bake crust for 3 min.

4. Load up the pizza crust with caramelized onions and cubed cheese. Bake for 8 minutes

5. While pizza is baking, melt remainder of butter in a small pan and fry sage for 3-4 minutes.

6. Remove pizza from oven and drizzle butter sage sauce over crust and toppings. Top pizza with proscuitto and bake for 2-3 more minutes until proscuitto is slightly crispy.

Little Shop of Groceries

Who loves to try new foodie things?

Me too!

One thing I kept waiting to try was a charming little grocery store I had heard of. Finally, I decided to pop in yesterday for a visit and (hopefully) a good cheese.

Cookbook LA is the teeniest little store I ever did see. It sits between a few other boutique shops on Echo Park Ave. in Echo Park, Los Angeles, California. Honestly, if you blink while walking or driving past it – you may miss it. So PLEASE for Heaven’s sake, don’t blink.

Upon entering, I was surprised by how small the store is. But this discovery made me giddy! Can you imagine the curating that goes into a store like this? The owner and buyer must work diligently to find only the best and tastiest produce and pantry items.

I had salmon in the fridge at home and wanted something to pair with it. I bought some gorgeous little red potatoes – just enough for a meal for 2 and some leftovers for breakfast.IMG_5652

Brian wanted to try a cheese (okay, so did I), so we asked one of the young employees what her favorite was. She suggested Brebirousse d’Argental, a french soft melty-brie-like cheese made from sheep milk. That stuff was incredible. A people-pleaser cheese that will cause “mmmm’s” to come from the mouths of your guests. The orange-y gold outer rind looks like a vintage pillow and when you cut into it and expose the inner goodness… oh yeah. That’s the stuff.

We also got a salami from Portland’s CHOP BUTCHERY & CHARCUTERIE. We opted for the Abruzzo which has a slightly spicy, full flavor. Highly recommend.

Here’s a picture of our half eaten haul…

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I can’t wait to go back and grab more goodies from these guys. They specialize in local and seasonal produce, boutique chocolates and coffee, and even some freshly prepared foods and gift items like these adorable little cups.

Hop to it!

Best Eggs Ever

Super Short Sunday Post:

I was craving a breakfast burrito this morning, but I wanted to get the eggs right.

I hate eggs, very much. If I need to eat them they have to be scorching hot and right off the pan – basically so hot that I’m too focused on the heat to taste anything.

The only eggs I remember really enjoying were the ones my Grandma made when I was a kid. Somehow they were the smoothest, creamiest eggs and utterly delicious. I’ve been trying my whole adult life thus far to duplicate those eggs.

Today, I did thanks to this amazing How-To from The Kitchn

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Step by Step directions via The Kitchn

They were perfect all the way down to the smell. Buttery and sweet.

Try them tomorrow and impress your family!

 

 

Note: I did not add any milk to this process, so don’t feel like you need to either.