I’ve Missed You Blog World!

Well   Hello   There   Everyone!!!

I am back and settled(ish)!  Cooper…is another story, but we will get to that! 

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Let’s see…since last we chatted, life has been BUSY…

We packed up our entire house.  And by we, I mean myself and my parents.  The BOY did pack one full box but before you think he did nothing, he was in charge or organizing our last minute move on a holiday weekend. Not an easy job!

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July 1st was a gorgeous day and our movers were amazing and efficient. Before we knew it, were standing in an empty home.  Full of emotion, of course, as the excitement of our next adventure begins with the nostalgia of having 10 years of memories in this house (including our first kiss!).

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I was super grateful for the assistance of my P’s but even more thankful that they took us in to their home when we had none without question.  The three of us traded in our 3 bedroom home for a bedroom.  The first few nights were rough as we couldn’t find a thing and had Cooper crammed in with us.

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But Saturday night we had a BBQ with my bestie and her family and it really did feel so good to be home!

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The rest of the weekend was catching up on life, unpacking, getting organized, laundry, and grocery shopping.  The 4 us had a meeting to meal plan out the week, which has been very successful.  My dad found a white board to keep track of everything and has also added a countdown until our move out date : )

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Which brings me to the excitement of the week. We signed a lease for a Chicago apartment (and there was much rejoicing!) but it’s not available until September 2nd…

So we are living it up with my parents, appreciating the home cooked family meals (including my dad’s famous stir fry) and laundry service and hoping that Cooper can adjust to living with 4 adults as opposed to his usual 2. There has been a bit more hissing lately!

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#trainselfie

The BOY and I are also commuting together which might be an even bigger challenge than moving in or planning a wedding : )

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On the yoga front, I am LOVING my training.  We had some time off but are probably about half way done and I am already feeling sad for when it will be over.  I am reading a ton and learning a lot.

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I am doing way more yoga than running and feeling really good about it.  Comfortable with myself as I am growing each day of this journey that I know (hope) is just beginning.  This past weekend we taught each other which was exciting and nerve wrecking!

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And if that’s not enough excitement…the Tour de France started this week (more rejoicing!!).  I’ve got the entire family watching and cheering on my favorite riders.  Between that and the Olympic trials, our blooming social life, and trying to capture a few minutes of down time, life has been plugging along!

But I’ve miss you guys!  Tell me what’s going on with you…

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Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

It’s Monday and my 4 day weekend continues…woo hoo!  I think that I really needed a little time off to take care of some business and catch up on sleep.  Today isn’t as relaxing as I’d like.  I mean, ideally I would just nap on the couch with Cooper and watch hours of the tour.  But, it’s still a no work Monday!  I woke up around 8am, brewed a cup of black tea, and took my shopping list to the grocery store for a week of meals.

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When I got back, I made 2 Ingredient Sweet Potato Pancakes for breakfast and changed for the gym.  After another tough arm workout (this seems to becoming a pattern), I drove back home.  I did a quick, but effective Ab Blaster (while watching the tour), showered and ate lunch.  My plan was to get dinner set in the crockpot, but I ran out of time before I needed to head back out the door.

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This time, I drove to the train station and settled in with a book for the hour journey into Chicago.  I was probably only in the city for 90 minutes, and got caught unprepared in a wicked rain storm, before grabbing a tea and settled back in with my book for the ride home.  BUT, it was totally worthwhile though because my fiancé and I got to pick out our wedding bands!

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There was plenty of time to make dinner and binge watch today’s stage of the tour when I got back home!  I was already pretty tired and I have a busy week ahead. I am trialing some new strength classes at a boutique gym by my house in the mornings.  Plus, work is busy with patients and yoga.  The BOY had to work late tonight, so I had a quiet afternoon…secretly jealous of Cooper who can nap all day and sleep all night.

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Sadly, the BOY missed out on this delicious dinner!

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This recipe is super easy and really, REALLY good!  Since he missed out, I promised that I would make it again real soon.

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I added some extra veggies to the original recipe and the combo of taste and textures makes this my new favorite crockpot recipe!  I also left out the rice that’s in the original recipe, and I can’t say that I missed it.  Ok then, I’m going to call it an early night, tonight! 

 

What are you eating this week?

 

Meal Planning 7/05/15

Monday: Slow Cooker Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Tuesday: Turkey Taco Meatoaf

Wednesday: Pork Chops and Veggies

Thursday: Leftovers

 

Slow Cooker Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Adapted from Cooking Classy

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ground chicken
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and finely chopped (I used half red and half yellow)
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (8 oz) can diced water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 2 heads iceberg lettuce

Directions

Place chicken and garlic in pan, sprayed with cooking spray.  Cook until no longer pink.   Drain off liquid and pour mixture into a 5 – 7 quart slow cooker. Add bell peppers, celery, onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and toss mixture. Cover and cook on low heat 2 – 3 hours until chicken is tender.

Stir in water chestnuts, cook until heated through 3 – 5 minutes. Separate iceberg lettuce leaves and serve with chicken filling.

New Month…New Goals!

The BOY and I had an ‘Us’ weekend!  We spent Saturday morning hiking, picnicing, and napping (in that order) and then relaxed a bit as I soaked in the start of the Tour de France time trials.  The BOY grilled dinner and we sat out back enjoying the gorgeous summer evening with one of our favorite wines.

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And then we crashed the neighbors party for a couple more cocktails.  We did the responsible ‘go to bed around midnight’ thing, and I was happy because I had biking plans with a friend Sunday morning.

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I woke up feeling a little more tired than I would have wanted (perhaps I had too many drinks with our neighbors).  I packed up my car and pulled my bike stuff together.  It’s been too long since I’ve gone for a bike, ride and I am way out of practice.  I had to turn around twice because I forgot my helmet and bike lock.

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I met my friend at a forest preserve to do a BRICK. She is doing a triathlon and has an interesting training program that involves intervals of biking and running.  Which is what we did for about an hour and then continued to bike for another 45 minutes.  It was a gorgeous day for a bike ride and my head cleared up quickly.  Afterwards, we went for coffee and supplements at the Starbucks/Whole Foods.

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I returned home feeling super tired, but dove into my never ending house and wedding to do list.  I also noticed that my bike chain is rusted and needed to make an appointment to bring it in.  It felt amazing to start crossing things off, and I was reminded about why it was so important to have some down time this weekend.  I also used my time to watch more of the tour, loving the views of the Netherlands and the thrill of the sprint.

I did a big Bucket List post yesterday, but then remember that I had more short term goals to think about…so here we go!

 

June Goals

Eat Clean, Train Dirty– I cleaned up my diet this month and have been exercising often and hard.  The benefits…my clothes fit better, I have more energy, and my stomach has calmed down.

Cook and Bake– I got myself back into the kitchen after a bit of a ‘lack of time’ induced hiatus.  This month, I shared some new dinner recipes and of course some incredible ice cream recipes!

Drink More Water– My water bottle has been with me all day every day.

Slow Down and Enjoy Every Moment!- I had a great talk about this with my friend during our morning bike ride.  It’s always a challenge, but well worth the effort.  There were some great moments to enjoy this month!

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July Goals

Strength Train 2x Each Week

Keep it Clean, Add in Green

Stay the Course with Wedding Planning (and Stay Calm!)

Have the Best Bachelorette Weekend!

Beginnings…

The Tour de France began today!  If you follow my blog then you know that this brings lots of excitement to our house…and by our house, I mean me! (Insert eye roll from BOY who claims that the tour is boring but seems to know a lot about the peloton).  For the second year in a row, I was up before my alarm on the 4th of July.  I came straight downstairs to turn on the TV and dive into the tour.  I only caught the pre race updates on teams and the ‘Big Four’ while I sipped tea and whipped up eggs.  The BOY and I planned to go to Starved Rock today, but flooding led to parking lot closures and we didn’t want to drive almost 2 hours and not get to hike.

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Instead, we drove 45 minutes to Waterfall Glen.  This area is more of a path than a state park and from where we parked, the waterfall was quite a ‘hike’…especially since we started off in the wrong direction.  The path was well used but not crowded as we passed bikers, dogs, and runners.  There was a good amount of shade as we made our way towards the waterfall.

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We were tired when we arrived and stopped to rest our feet a bit and sip some water.

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I must say that the waterfall was cool, but I was hoping that there was more than one!  The bugs made it tough to stay still, so after a quick break we hiked back to our car.

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By the time we reached our car, which was packed with a picnic lunch, we had walked over 6 miles.  There wasn’t a great place to pop a squat, so we decided to drive back towards home.  There is a great park, where I run in the mornings, a few blocks away from our house.  We pass it almost every day and always talk about picnicing, but never do.  We settled under a shady tree by the lake on this perfect day.

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With a full tummy, I could have fallen asleep on our blanket!

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Instead, we waited until we were back home to cuddle in (with Cooper, of course) for an afternoon nap!  Then, woke back up to watch the beginning of the Tour!

I can’t believe that it’s July and the beginning of the second half of the year (like my glass half full attitude?).  It occurred to me yesterday that meant I needed to check in with my bucket list!  This year has been so busy (work, wedding, life) that I barely remember what’s on my bucket list!

2015 Bucket List

LIFE

Set and follow a budget (for real!)- Oh man!  I swear I am super organized, but have totally struggled with this!  Something to focus the next 6 months on…saving up for a honeymoon!

Pass my test– Woo hoo!  All of that library time paid off.  I am know a Pediatric Clinical Specialist (PCS), which has me smiling from ear to ear!

Have a fun stress free wedding day– Yea, so some days are easy and some days my heart beats a little faster.  We’ve had more drama with planning than I would have liked (just found out the planner at the hotel we have been working with since October quit)…BUT, above all the marriage is the most important thing and the BOY and I are in this together!

Stay healthy– Other than those two weeks where I was REALLY sick, I have been feeling pretty energetic and healthy this  year. I’m hoping that continues through the end of the year.

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BODY

Do a triathlonThe decision has been made that this won’t be a big racing year…so no triathlon.  And I am A-okay with that!  I am broadening my horizons a bit with exercise and doing tons of yoga!  This decision is helping me feel more balanced and less stressed, and we’ll just have to see what 2016 holds for races and tri’s.

Feel confident in a bikini- Work in progress!

Continue to build muscle strength– I think that my arms are definitely getting stronger and I am able to do 1-2 pull ups!  I’m hoping to continue to build my strength with the goal of adding in a consistent second strength day each week.

Keep my skin healthy– Success!  My focus on eating clean and drinking water, plus regular facials has paid off!

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MIND

Be present– I have been soaking in every moment, big or small!  Case and point, feeling the wind in my hair as I drove the boat along the lake in the picture above.  I know that more excitement awaits around the corner, and I look forward to experiencing it all!

Teach more yoga/take yoga trainings- I think this may end up being more of a 2016 goal. I’d love to do a yoga retreat AND my adult yoga certification.  I was able to talk about kids yoga on a Podcast, which is something I never would have even dreamed of in January.  It’s fun to see where the year takes you…

Read good books– Check!  I started the year as a reading machine.  With work getting busier, I have been staying up later and reading less, but plan to devour a few more books from my ‘to read’ pile before the year is done.

Give back and volunteer- Ugh! Major Fail here!  I have been donating food, money, and clothes, but not as much of my time as I would like.

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I know I say it every year, but this year has FLOWN by!  There have been some unexpected highs and a huge loss to our family as we said goodbye to our patriarch, Grandpa Al.  I know that there are more celebrations to come as we are less than 100 days from starting our life as husband and wife!  There is also a lot of non wedding excitement, vacations, and moments, and I am planning to breathe deep and appreciate all of the joy and gifts in the year ahead.   Stay tuned for June goals (and Tour de France updates) as this post is already way too long!

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2015 First Half Highlights

Lots of Kids Yoga

Bounding with my SIL

Taking engagement photos

Friendsgiving in April

Playing tennis with the BOY and my family

Wisconsin Weekends

Our first wedding shower

 

How’s your 2015 bucket list coming along?

What’s your ‘first half highlight’ of 2015?

I’m Still Addicted to the Tour!

After not getting to watch much of the tour this week, I arrived home from work last night with Chipotle for dinner declaring that I would be watching hours of the tour to catch up before today’s time trials.  The BOY was too exhausted to fight and knew that not only was he outnumbered (Cooper is now a fan) that he really should be studying!

My triathlon friend had a last minute change of plans and invited me to join her on her longest BRICK this morning.  I confessed that I was nowhere near 100% and with my company may come a few snot rockets.  She didn’t seemed phased and we agreed to meet at the River path near my house.

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As I fell asleep last night, it occurred to me that I didn’t have anything to eat for breakfast and was lacking the usual fuel I would bring along for a training ride.  When I woke up, I decided to go to one of my favorite training breakfasts, the Dough Boy Smoothie.  Typically, I would set everything up the night before, but instead, I threw the ingredients (using a peach and some blueberries instead of banana) into the blender first thing this morning.  Then, got about feeding Cooper breakfast and pulling together my gear for the BRICK, before blending it all together.

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Breakfast was lacking some protein, but super delicious and exactly what I knew my stomach would need on a day like today.  And, I found a few Kind Bars in the pantry to nosh on during the ride.

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I met my friend at the Dairy Queen and we took a quick pre ride selfie before riding north.  This is the same path I rode a few weeks ago at the start of the tour.  I made it farther north today than last time, but still didn’t find the mountains : )  We had a time goal instead of a mileage goal, but after 3 hours, we had almost 33 miles behind us.  We rode a pretty slow pace, which was perfect for my body, but I had more energy than I expected.  Finally, some benefit of sitting on the couch for a few days!

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It was quick switch out of helmets before making our way back to the trail for a 30 minute run jog during which we talked books.  I raved about Reconstructing Amelia and she told me how funny Bossy Pants was.  I need to pick that up before our trip to California!  I was definitely tired when we strode back into the Dairy Queen parking lot, but not nearly as wrecked as I expected.

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Post Brick Selfie

I stopped at my favorite sandwich shop (Which Wich?) on the way home to grab a warm chicken pesto on wheat that I devoured during the start to today’s tour on the DVR.

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After lunch and a shower, I wanted nothing more than to sit back and watch time trials.  But I had a first birthday party to attend!  I was able to watch Tony Martin and saved the rest for tonight, which I knew might take some convincing when the BOY returned from the library.

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The First Birthday Fiesta was super fun!  It is always wonderful to catch up with my high school friends and clown around a bit. 

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On a fun note, the uncle of the birthday boy is a chef in Napa Valley.  He and his girlfriend cooked up the most incredible fiesta meal complete with homemade churros.  Of course, I introduced myself and they had a few suggestions for our mostly unplanned upcoming trip.  The BOY returned from the library with food on his mind.  I’m sure you guessed it, but he called in an order for Thai food, which I happily scooped up on my way home.  Even though I ate at the party, I always have room for a few bites of Thai.

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We ate dinner in while watching the nail biting finale of today’s time trial, and I’m sure I won’t make it up late tonight after this morning’s LONG workout.  I am looking forward to a revitalizing morning yoga class.  On a totally different note, thanks to everyone for the pep talk after my running woes. I have no expectations for this upcoming half marathon, but appreciate you letting me vent about my lack of training and cheering me right along!

 

Have you been following the tour?

What was your workout today?

I am Not the King of the Mountains

I was so inspired by the first half of the Tour de France Stage II this morning, that I had to get out on my bike!  After our Saturday night festivities, nobody was jumping out of bed this morning.  Slowly but surely, my brother and his fiancé emerged and joined me watching the start of stage II.  My brother is just as into it as I am and his fiancé thinks he’s just as crazy as the BOY thinks I am!

 

As everyone made their way out the door, it was just me and Cooper watching the TV.  Feeling encouraged by the extreme athletic accomplishments of this hilly course, I pulled myself together with thoughts of a longish bike ride.  I paused the tour about half way through and decided to drive out to the Fox River Trail.

 

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I think it’s been about 2 years since I’ve been riding or running out in this area.  I kind of remembered how to get there and find the trail.  What surprised me was how close the trail actually is to my house (only about a 12 minute drive).

 

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I began riding north planning to go about an hour and then turn around and head back.  My bike computer is still out of commission, so I wasn’t sure how fast (or slow) I was going or what my exact distance would be.  As I rode into McHenry county, it appeared that they’ve redone their trail.

 

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The pavement was smooth and the views beautiful as I weaved away from the river and up north towards the big open fields.  The clouds were dark and thick, threatening rain, so I was tempted to turn around at about 30 minutes when I saw a trail detour.  Instead, I pressed on knowing that there were big hills ahead.  I have vivid memories of walking my bike up these hills as they may be the biggest I’ve seen in this area.

 

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Before I got to the big hills where I was planning to ride for the polka dot jersey, the skies got darker and the wind stronger.  At about 50 minutes, I decided it was smarter to turn around leaving the hills for another day.  With the wind at my back, I sailed back south towards my car.

 

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I cruised back appreciating the views on this rustic trail.

 

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When I arrived back at my car after about 95 minutes of biking, the sun was shining and I forgot that I was ever worried about the weather.  Despite having 3 strength training days prior to today’s ride, my legs felt surprisingly strong.  My next stop was the bike shop.  I have an appointment this week for typical maintenance.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had my hybrid fixed up and after much thought, I decided that I would take it in this summer instead of my road bike.  Mostly because I am not doing a triathlon this summer and also because the people I have been and will be riding with don’t have road bikes, it makes the most sense to spend this season on my hybrid.

 

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Then, it was back to the grocery store before returning home for lunch, a shower, and of course the second half of this morning’s Tour de France.  I can’t wait to see who really is the king of the mountains!

 

 

Is anyone else watching the Tour de France?

What did you see on your bike/run today?

Guess What Starts Today???

The Tour de France!

I am so excited that I am bouncing on my couch watching the first day of this epic race!

 

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By 9am, I had already been awake for 3 hours, gotten in an intense strength training session with my trainer, picked up pre studying bagels for the BOY, and attempted to go back to sleep.    When that didn’t work, I ate breakfast and then remembered what an exciting day it was and immediately turned the TV on to NBC Sports.  This is Cooper’s first tour in our house and you can see that he was extremely engaged in the action.

 

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After the tour, I drove out to Geneva to do some errands.  I desperately needed to go to the Spice House and am pleased to have a restocked spice cabinet.  After lunch, I found myself napping on the couch with Cooper back on the purple blanket snuggled between my legs.  When I woke up, my brother had called to say that he and his fiancé were in the neighborhood.

 

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I had stopped by the farmer’s market earlier in the day and invited them to come over for shrimp on the barbie with pineapple and mango salsa.

 

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The BOY had reminded me to use our salsa maker before he left for the library…like I was going to chop everything by hand?!  Ha ha!  I used an online recipe as my guide, but didn’t really measure anything out and added in some mango with my pineapple.  I’ve never made a fruit salsa before and I was pleased with how delicious this one turned out!  This could be a fantastic appetizer, and I know that it will be a beautiful topping to our BBQed shrimp.

 

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Our game plan is to serve cilantro rice, shrimp, and salsa for tonight’s dinner…with bubbly and beer of course!  I’m looking forward to spending tonight with my bro and future SIL just 1 week before their exciting wedding day!

 

Ps Just in case you were wondering…dessert is left over Red, White, and Blue Trifle!

 

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Mango and Pineapple Salsa

Based on this recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod

 

Ingredients

2 cups diced fresh pineapple and mango

1 cup diced red pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

3 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded

1 clove garlic, minced

Juice of 1 large lime

 

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine pineapple, red pepper, cilantro, red onion, jalapeno, garlic, and lime juice. Stir until well combined. Season with salt, to taste. Serve at room temperature or chilled.