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favorite things friday

15 Apr

I’m so excited it’s the weekend!

I haven’t been super productive today…unless you count spending hours browsing for decor inspiration as a major accomplishment.  Although I have done several loads of laundry and gotten in a really great workout, so I haven’t been all bad.

Anyway, for a little Friday fun I thought I’d share just a few things that I’ve been loving lately!

  • First up, the book I just finished this week – The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom.  Once it got going, I simply could not put it down. It was “one of those.”  I highly recommend it!

  • Simple and healthy homemade meals.  I’ve always loved to eat out, but lately I’m just really craving food from home, especially some of my old staples.  Today was lovely getting to be home rather than taking all my food on the go.

whole wheat bread with roasted garlic hummus, broccoli slaw and spinach

kashi, green yogurt, frozen blueberries

  • Apartment Therapy.  I’ve been getting tons of inspiration browsing this website for house decor ideas.
    The husband and I are contemplating what flooring combination to do – stained concrete, wood, tile – so many options!  I’m loving so many elements of this space right now.
  • These shoes I just bought to wear on Easter.  Yes, I’m 27 years old, and I’m still buying clothing items specifically for Easter.  Why not?  It’s a great reason to get some new staples for the beautiful spring weather!  Plus I just couldn’t resist the vintage modern vibe…and they’re comfy too:)
  • Dinners shared in the car with the husband while running house errands.  Actually, just being in the car with the husband while running house errands.  Who am I kidding?
  • And last, Dove dark chocolate.  Just one square (okay, two) does the trick:)

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

What is one thing you’re really loving right now?

let's talk raw – juices and smoothies

16 Feb

Yesterday was a big day for green smoothies in our house.   The husband drank his first one.

While he’s had sips of mine before, he didn’t really like it and has never shown any real interest in drinking them himself.  For starters he doesn’t like banana, and since that’s the main ingredient in mine every day, it’s no wonder he sort of turned his nose up at them.  But in the spirit of wanting to up the health factor in his diet, he decided to give them a go. And he’s actually really liking them!  He obviously knows the way to my heart:)

Unfortunately I didn’t get a pic, but I ended up buying a bag of mixed fruit – peaches, pineapple and strawberries – and using that for sweetness instead of banana.  I also added a big handful of spinach, soymilk, 1/2 scoop of Amazing Grass and ice.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m currently reading Kris Carr’s new book, Crazy Sexy Diet, and I’m loving it.  As a wellness warrior, she advocates eating only raw food, preferably liquids (juices or smoothies) until lunch.

According to Kris that means “green juice, green smoothies, purified water, and teas.”  But this doesn’t mean that you have to starve as you can have as many servings of them as you need.  And “if that’s not enough for you, no worries, solid foods are definitely an option.”   I’m not one to jump on unrealistic fad diets, but as I’m learning more about the benefits of raw food, juices and smoothies, I am becoming more and more of a believer that the more raw foods you can incorporate into your diet the better. I feel overwhelmed (in a good way) by all the information I’ve absorbed, and while I want to share it all right here right now there’s just too much!

For now, I will say that one of the best things about starting the day off with green juice or a green smoothie (after a big glass of purified water with lemon of course) is that it gives the body an instant shot of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, protein and oxygen, plus a major hydration boost.  And the body barely has to do anything to digest it!  Little work + lots of healthy stuff = pure energy and vibrance.

One thing to remember though is that when our bodies are used to digesting and storing more acidic foods, it will take a sort of short detox phase to adjust as the body gets rid of toxins.   During that time you may in fact feel less energetic…but just give it a few days to a week and you’ll be so glad you did.  It took about 3 days for me, and this morning I felt noticeably more energetic than previous days.

There was a time when I didn’t understand how juicing was so good for you.  Doesn’t it remove all the good fiber?  Won’t it raise my blood sugar if the fiber isn’t there to balance out the natural sugar in fruit?  While it may raise blood sugar a bit, it won’t be a big deal as long as the overall ratio of veggies to fruit is about 3:1, as fruit has more natural sugars.  And make sure they are vegetables that are low on the GI scale – like cucumber instead of carrots.  A great one to start off with is 1 whole organic (or peeled if it’s not organic) cucumber, several stalks of organic celery and a small apple.  But have fun playing around with different combinations!

Coming full-circle now, let’s talk smoothies again.  Smoothies are almost just as amazing for the body as juices…and they also keep you full longer. The body does have to work a bit to digest them, but still not nearly as much as with solid food, and the fiber provides longer lasting fullness and energy.  Plus, they’re easier to make.

As Kris explains, “the difference between a juice and a smoothie is that a smoothie leaves no pulp behind – it contains all the fantastic fiber of the ingredients.  The tough cellulose structure of the produce is broken into tiny pieces that are easy for your body to digest and assimilate.  Think of it as a pre-chewed blast of optimum nutrition.”

My green smoothie was just a smidge different than usual this morning. In an effort to keep it 100% raw, I subbed in water for my usual almond milk.  I was kind of concerned that it would loose it’s delicious creamy factor, but I could hardly tell a difference!

2 big handfuls of organic spinach + 1 banana + 1 cup water + 1 scoop of Amazing Grass (with a side of folded towels:)

As I talk more about raw/vegan food, I want to make it clear (as always) that whatever each individual can do that improves their health and quality of life is like gold.  If that means introducing green juice or green smoothies once a week or eating three raw meals a week, then that’s great!  The fact is that no one is perfect and the more we put pressure on ourselves to be perfect – in any area of our lives- the more we’re setting ourselves up to fail. I’m currently trying to eliminate sugar from my diet as much as possible, but yesterday afternoon I got a serious craving and nothing but the vegan peanut butter cookies I’d made for the husband would do.  So I ate one.  And it was delicious.  It didn’t lessen the healthiness of my morning and I can definitely tell you it improved the healthiness of my mind because it reminded me that perfection is overrated and food is to be enjoyed.  The thing I’m realizing though, is that the more I use food to take care of my body and promote energy and vitality, the more I do enjoy it.

Amen?

This morning I’m spending some time going through my yoga class for tonight.  I only have two classes left!  I’m really going to miss teaching and am hoping I can get a new position asap.  Also on the schedule for today is three tutoring appointments and of course…packing.  I probably don’t even have to say that anymore, huh?  It’s kind of a given that there will be packing going on here during any down time for the next week and a half.  Crazy times.

Hope you all have a great Wednesday – the week is almost halfway over!

*Note that I’m only talking about food intake up until noon.  Kris doesn’t necessarily advocate eating a 100% raw diet.
**I also want to add that while I am really enjoying Crazy Sexy Diet, and I feel like I’m learning a lot of valuable information, Kris writing style is very forward.  At times she uses language that could be a bit offensive to some, and while I personally don’t like it, I choose to look past it because for me the information is worth it.  Just an FYI if you’re considering reading the book.

friday photo fun

28 Jan

Happy Friday!

Am I the only one who feels like this week has seemed sort of long?  I’m so glad it’s Friday!

I’m off to teach PiYo this morning, and then I have a tutoring appointment right before lunch.  The rest of the day I’ll be just working around the house – Outbox, moving etc.

While this week has seemed long, it has been great as far as food is concerned. I’ve incorporated so many more juices and raw fruits and vegetables, and I feel great for it!  It’s cool the way your body starts to crave those things when you give it lots of them. I’ve been craving fresh juice and green smoothies so much this week.  The only downside is I’m going broke over produce.  But it’s so worth it.


I’ve also been eating a lot of salads, which is not usually my cup of tea in the winter months.  Almost every lunch this week has been a plate of fresh greens with lots of toppings.  The key is to make a really full, great salad with lots of textures and flavors.


I made a batch of tahini salad dressing that I found in Crazy Sexy Diet, and the creaminess has left me craving more after every meal.  It’s so basic – a mixture of 1 cup tahini, 2 tbsp lemon juice and 1 minced garlic clove. Whisk it all together, adding water until you reach the desired consistency.  I love simple ingredients that create a lot of bang!

I’ve switched my additions up a little bit each day, but it’s been some combination of tons of spring mix and spinach, pinto/black beans, chopped carrots, chopped bell pepper, onion, unsweetened dried cranberries, corn, diced avocado and chia seeds.  Perfect!  It has helped a lot for me to make a large batch of the dressing ahead of time and even pre-chop all the veggies (except the avocado)…then all I have to do is throw it together and it’s done!

I’m thinking I’ll probably top off the week by having another one for lunch…I really might turn into a big lettuce leaf.

Switching topics.

Remember last Friday when we talked about geese, and I told you all that I used to catch ducks when I was little?  Well my Grandma has come through with the evidence (thanks Grandma!!).

These showed up in my mailbox yesterday and gave me quite a laugh.

Photo 1: candice luring the duck to shore.

Photo 2/3: the catch.

is it just me or is that a very large duck?

I love side bangs, don’t you? I should totally rock those again.

Photo 4: HELP!!

thank you mom and Cristen, for being completely oblivious to the duck attack;)

Photo 5: Quote from my grandma – “This one has nothing to do with ducks.  Tom was a big cat.  Seems you’re trying to lift him.”

looks like it’s not going too well….for me or Tom…

There are many things that are funny to me in these photos, but one in particular is that in my quest to grow my hair out – the image in my head of what I want eventually is uncannily close to photos 1 and 2. ha!

Happy weekend ya’ll!

What is something funny or crazy that you did as a child? What are you most looking forward to this weekend?

peace in heart and body

25 Jan

Well, I’m coming in a day late with my recap of the weekend. The husband and I spent most of the weekend in our new city, and I spent this morning playing catch up with some of the things I didn’t get to even think about doing.

On Friday I really enjoyed hearing all of your stories about geese!  I had no idea that so many people were afraid of them, ha!  It seems that several of you have some kind of scarring memory about a run-in with a goose as a child – never knew they could be such ferocious creatures.  In fairness I think I must clarify that I was catching the smaller, cuter white ducks…not the geese as shown in the picture.  And it sounds like it’s a good thing based on all your stories!

As I mentioned on Friday, we went to a party with our Sunday school class.  We played a game that Jonathan and I had gotten for Christmas called What’s Yours Like?  I was a bit skeptical about it in the beginning, but it ended up being pretty fun!  Everyone had brought different desserts, and there was definitely no shortage of sugar.  I took cupcakes as planned, and I’m excited to share them with you tomorrow!  They were a hit.  No one knew they were vegan, and our friend Greg went back for a second which let me know that they truly passed the test:)

Saturday we got up and after doing some tasks around the house, headed to the city.  We had plans to drive through our future neighborhood to get some ideas for the exterior of our house.  Jonathan carefully crafted a fun design that resembles a craftsman style, and now we’re just trying to get inspired about a color scheme.  While we recognize that building a house is going to be a lot of work, we are pumped to get to pick out everything and make it unique to our style as much as possible. We also met with our builder and signed our contract! Our names are written in blood…there’s not turning back.  Yay!  Building should start in the next month, and we’re looking at about 4ish months until it will be done.

gotta love that Oklahoma red dirt

The biggest decision (of many) that we are trying to make right now is where we’re going to live between now and the time our house gets done, which will be around the end of June.  Both Jonathan’s parents and my mom and step-dad have graciously offered to let us live with them.  We are so thankful for family who are supportive and will sacrifice to help us out. But the big decision is looming of which one to go with.  Jonathan’s parents live about one hour and fifteen minutes from his job, so he would have to commute back and forth everyday, which would be really taxing on him.  Especially considering he’ll be working on Outbox in the evenings as well.  My mom and step-dad only live about thirty-five minutes from his job, but the situation is such that Olive cannot live with us there.  So, we would need to figure out somewhere else for her to live, and it will be really hard for us to have to be away from her for 4 months.  I honestly cannot imagine it right now.  I know some people probably think that is crazy, but those of you who have pets surely understand…right?  But living with my family would be so much less draining of a commute for Jonathan, and more convenient all around (i.e. dropping by our house to check progress, finding a church to get involved in in the city etc).  If we are unable to find somewhere for her to live, then that will obviously make our decision…but even if we do find somewhere we are still torn as to what to do.  Too many decisions!!  The good news is we love both of our families, and living with either one, while being an adjustment, will be great.  We are very blessed. I’m hoping to get some new perspective from you guys on this!

Anyway, so Saturday night we headed to my hometown and got to watch my little cousin play basketball.  I hadn’t seen her play in years, and I had the best time!  I was a super proud cousin too because she played so great.  I think she scored the first ten points of the game all by herself!  She’s super cute, too:)

My sister played on the state championship team when she was a junior, and now a giant picture of her team hangs in the gym.  We got a huge kick out of taking our picture with the Cristen of 1998…I’m sure anyone walking by thought we were ridiculous, but that combined with my cousin being so embarrassed was what made it quite funny.  Maybe you had to be there.

The husband and I partied late with my family and didn’t get back home until late. We spent Sunday morning at church, and then headed to the city once again to meet my mom and step-dad to show them our lot and walk through a house that has our floor plan.  It was fun!  But I realized one thing really quickly – looking at houses after you’ve already signed a contract for yours is like looking at wedding dresses after you’ve already made the purchase for your big day.  Not a good idea.

All in all it was a busy busy weekend, but I’m pretty sure that’s becoming the norm these days….and we’re okay with that. I’m really making every effort possible to stay in a routine in the important areas of my life during this super chaotic time.  I’ll be sharing much of the journey with you as the months go by!  And for starters, that’s going to mean getting a lot more sleep.

The last few days I’ve been focusing more on getting a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables in my body.  When things get busy, stressful and/or crazy, the first thing I tend to slack on is having fresh food around.  While we were in the city I picked up Kris Carr’s new book, and I’ve really been enjoying it the last couple of days.  Sometimes a little inspiration goes a long way!  I’ll share more about the book as I keep reading, but so far it has really helped me get back on track.

I’ve been starting each day off with some warm lemon water, which is great for your skin (and we all know I need that!).

Green monsters have also been a daily staple.  Unfortunately the other day I ran out of spinach, so I got creative and decided to try broccoli!

I wouldn’t recommend it.  The only way I got the entire thing down was to chase each sip with water and picture all the amazing nutrients coursing through my veins with every swig.  It was not pretty.  I think I’ll stick to leafy greens for now.

I also had an apple mid morning

For lunch yesterday I threw together a concoction I haven’t had before, and it totally rocked!

baked sweet potato, Earth Balance, black beans, salsa, broccoli

I’ve always thought I only like sweet potatoes baked as rounds or fries, but those days are long gone!  I do think the key for me was having different foods mixed in with each potato bite – it helped break up the mushy texture, and all the flavors worked so well together.  Delicious!

Unfortunately, last night didn’t exactly go as planned.  The husband and I got a late start to the grocery store, and by the time we got done with all our shopping it was 9pm.  I was so tired and hungry, so we stopped at our favorite mexican restaurant.  I ordered two black bean tacos and ate a couple handfuls of tortilla chips.  Not exactly clean fresh food on the chips, but not a bad choice for a restaurant either!

One thing I love about Kris’s book so far is her stance on perfection.  It coincides exactly with my thoughts on the topic.

“The crazy sexy diet (not a diet, but a lifestyle) is an optimum way of life.  Let it be your foundation, a home base to come back to whenever you veer off.  The cleanse is intended to give you freedom from obstruction and liberation… It’s not meant to create or support more stress in your life.  As I said earlier, there’s no such thing as perfection.  Perfect is beige.  Obsessing over every bite is completely contrary to the purpose ans spirit of my book.  Your overall goal is to have a peaceful feeling in your heart and in your body.

With that, I’m off to bed…I hope you all had a great weekend and are enjoying the start to the week!

Any advice on our living situation?  What would you do?
Less than half the commute, but being separated from our baby?  Or a much further commute, but keeping our little family together?  Ahhh!

What was the best moment of your weekend?

cinnamon rolls!

18 Jan

Well, in true Candice fashion I was up until 2am last night baking away.

But first, let’s back up for a second.  It’s time for a little honesty.  Over the last couple of weeks I have really been slacking with my workouts and with putting energy into eating clean.  My workouts have consisted mainly of the classes I teach and a couple sporadic short treadmill runs, and my eating has included a few too many Amy’s frozen burritos.  There has been so much going on here as of recent, and I’ve been hanging on by a thread as far as taking care of myself.  I’ve been getting an average of about 6 hours of sleep a night among other things….and it’s really starting to wear on me.

So this morning I got up with the best intentions of really making the extra effort to treat my body really well and start replenishing my energy. As many of you know, I believe that just because you slack a little in any area of healthy living for awhile, doesn’t mean that you should give up or be discouraged. It’s all about whether (and when) we get back on track.  There’s no way I’m going to eat, sleep and exercise perfectly for the rest of my life, so I’m adamant about cutting myself some slack when life gets crazy.  But there is definitely value in getting back on track when you feel like you’ve derailed a bit.

So, things started off really well this morning in regard to eating; I made up a bowl of oats cooked in water, and then added a few spoonfuls of soy yogurt and a sprinkle of Kashi Go Lean Crunch.  It definitely was lacking a bit in the fruit and veg department, but otherwise made me pretty happy.

The rest of the day continued on a pretty good track, but then I started feeling a little crazy, oh…sometime after dinner.  I got this serious craving for a cinnamon roll. How do these things happen? lol.

Even though it was nearing 9pm and I still had some tasks to complete before bed, I naturally started brainstorming how I could get some vegan cinnamon rolls stat.  Oh boy.

After a few moments I suddenly remembered this recipe from Project Food Blog several weeks ago.  At the time I thought it looked awesome, but I just wasn’t feeling cinnamon rolls. But this is the kind of thing that I tuck safely back in my mind to be pulled out on a perfect night such as tonight.  While I realized that this recipe would no doubt be outrageously delicious, I didn’t realize just how involved the whole process would be.  Let’s be real…do I ever?

But once I get started on an idea like this…there’s nothing that can stop me.  And for the next 3ish hours I was mixing, chopping, kneading, sifting, stirring, rolling, flossing and of course baking.  And man oh man was it worth it.

These rolls were like everything that is good in the world being wrapped up in a soft and doughy little spiral, baked at 350 degrees and coming out just the right shade of golden brown.  They were chewy and hot, with the mingled flavors of pumpkin, cinnamon and butter baked into the inside.  To. die. for.

I used this recipe…and only made a few changes like maple syrup instead of vanilla extract, organic cane sugar instead of regular white, soy milk instead of almond milk. I also replaced two cups of white flour with bread flour, and I did not put Earth Balance in the Pecan Cinnamon Streusel filling (I was buttered out!).  It still worked just fine!  Lastly, instead of the cream cheese frosting on the recipe, I simply mixed a little bit of powdered sugar with some soy milk for a nice, thin glaze.

Hey – at least I did have a green monster on the side this morning.  I am trying to clean it up around here after all.

Obviously my biggest problem now is how to not eat the entire pan in the 48 hours.  Thankfully, I do have a few ideas up my sleeve.

So, aside from sabotaging myself by staying up until 2am making cinnamon rolls, I am really trying to step it up and take better care of myself, even during these crazy times.  Because when it seems that so many things in life have been turned upside down, my health is the one thing I can still control. The one thing I can still hold onto that makes me feel sane.  And vibrant.  And like I can take on anything.

So tell me, what are your tricks for keeping these things in order when life gets crazy?

Are you a cinnamon roll fan?  What’s your favorite morning baked treat?


quinoa is the new turkey

30 Dec

At our first Christmas with my family, I made an amazing quinoa dish per my mom’s suggestion.  Believe it or not it was the recipe straight off the back of the box with maybe a couple of tweaks.  I was a bit hesitant at first because it just seemed too simple, but it ended up being so delicious and I’ve still been enjoying the leftovers ever since.  The simplicity is what makes this dish.

Quinoa Pilaf

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • sea salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Cook quinoa according to package directions
  • Melt Earth Balance in a frying pan over medium high heat.
  • Add garlic, peppers and onion and saute until tender.
  • Combine cooked quinoa and sauteed veggies and mix well.
  • Add sliced almonds and mix thoroughly.
  • Season with sea salt and pepper and serve hot or chilled.

This is one example of how I try to stay healthy throughout the holidays.  I simply cannot depend solely on the food provided at family gatherings, even considering my grandma always provides several healthy options.  It has nothing to do with being overly paranoid about my food as some people may think; it has everything to do with feeling the best I can throughout the entire holiday season.  I still sampled a little bit of my mom’s mashed potatoes and my grandma’s vegetarian dressing, and I didn’t feel deprived at all.  But I filled my plate mostly with healthy foods that were still delicious!

Another reason this was a great dish for me is because quinoa is one of the few vegetarian complete proteins.  Quinoa is the new turkey:)  I’ve definitely learned that the only way to make sure I have plenty of food options that taste great but also make me feel great is to take my own.  The added bonus is that everyone in the family usually (key word:) ends up liking them too!  win win.

I’m off to enjoy the evening with my two favorite people.  “People” being used very loosely of course.

The husband and I are both off work tomorrow, so it’s like a double Friday night.  Love it when that happens!

See you this weekend for more recipes from the holidays and more talk about enjoying the holidays and still coming out of them feeling great!

Did you try any new dishes this holiday season?  What were the big hits with your family?

hello from texas

23 Dec

Hello!

Well, we’re finally in south Texas!

On Tuesday we left home and headed to my hometown to see my grandma and grandpa.  We went and grabbed some dinner with them and then ended the night at their house opening gifts together!  It was such a great time spending the evening with them – it’s not everyday we get them all to ourselves;)

It was also a perfect example of how sometimes there are sacrifices involved when eating vegetarian/vegan.  There are a lot of ways to plan ahead and avoid less than ideal food situations, but sometimes there’s just not much you can do.  The restaurant we went to was mexican, and I wasn’t too worried about it because usually mexican restaurants have options – I usually go for black bean tacos (just ask them to sub out beans for meat) or veggie fajitas.  But this particular restaurant didn’t have black beans and their refriend beans and rice were not vegetarian.  They did have fajitas, but they were twelve dollars and I just couldn’t bear to spend that much.  So I went with the guacamole and ate it with a flour tortilla and some chips.  I wasn’t there for the food anyway:)

Anyway, the next morning we got up fairly early and hit the road, heading south.

After a long, but fun day of driving, we finally arrived in south Texas around ten o’clock.  We started out at about nine thirty in the morning and ended up in Dallas around one o’clock where we stopped at the mall to make some exchanges and grab some lunch.

For Christmas my mom gave me running shorts from Lululemon (insert excited squeal:), but after trying them on I decided I needed a different size.  I have to admit it was so hard to go in the store and not want to buy ten other things, but thankfully I resisted.  I did get my shorts exchanged though, and I can’t wait to wear them – they’re my first pair of running shorts from there, and I’ll definitely do a review over them soon!

For lunch I grabbed a salad from one of those salad places I love so much.  Sadly, this particular one just did not measure up – they didn’t chop up everything in the salad before putting it into the bowl, so there were giant leaves of lettuce, giant nuts, giant artichoke hearts (I broke them up into pieces myself) etc.  I was a bit disappointed, but o’well.   The rosemary roll that came with it pretty much made up for it though – it was delicious!

After lunch and shopping we got back on the road for the last five hours of our trip.  Here is a little hello from the road that I tried to post yesterday, but due to the remote country roads of south Texas, it didn’t quite work out like I planned:)

As you can hear we jammed out to the husband’s new Sarah Bareilles CD, which we both happen to love, and the trip went by fairly quickly.

First things first this morning, I headed out for a quick speed walk, just to get my blood flowing a little bit.  I have to be really careful when we’re visiting family for an extended period of time.  If I don’t make a point to get some exercise and eat well I end up not enjoying our time here quite as much and I go home feeling less than stellar.  So, after my walk, I showered and headed to the store to get some healthy food to have around.

Just the basics…you know:)  Later we stopped by the store again and I grabbed a sweet potato, some broccoli and squash and a couple of Amy’s frozen burritos.  This is a meat/seafood eating family, so I always need something on hand for meals. I really wish I had grabbed a couple cans of Amy’s soup from the health food store before leaving town.  It really like it a lot better than the frozen foods, but I can’t find them here, so I’ll make due!  I usually plan ahead so much more, but I just completely ran out of time this year.

Anyway, today has been a fun first day – we’ve gotten to see a lot of family and just enjoy spending time hanging out.  Unfortunately my MIL is really sick and we ended up in the emergency room with her for a little while this afternoon.  She seems to be feeling a little better tonight, and I’m praying she wakes up feeling better tomorrow.

For dinner tonight we stopped by the best little restaurant – Geo Burrito – have you heard of it?  It’s basically kind of like Chipotle or Qdoba, but I think it’s even better.  Any mexican restaurant that offers brown rice and vegetarian refriend beans is a win in my book:)

I ordered a bowl with brown rice, refried beans, black beans, corn, lettuce, pico, salsa and guacamole

I seriously wish we could get this place in Oklahoma.  The guy who works at Chipotle told me the other day that they’ll be getting brown rice soon.  I haven’t seen it yet, though, so I’m not holding my breath:)

Anyway, before I go I wanted show you guys the cookie cutters I used for the sugar cookies and gingerbread men since several readers have asked about them. I bought the set of at William Sonoma, and even though I debated about the purchase for a half hour in the store that night, I definitely have not regretted buying them.  I love using them, and it has been so fun to personalize cookies for Christmas gifts!

They are super easy to use and even easier to clean.

As you can see, the set comes with premade phrases as well as all the letters in the alphabet plus extras of the most common letters.  You simply slide the letters you want to use into the grooves and then use it like you would any other cookie cutter – it’s that simple!

It seems that they are all sold out online, but I’m sure they still have them in the stores.  There is also a set that is not Christmas related that could be used year round!  I may have to splurge on those as well:)

Halley mentioned that she spotted them the other day and bought them as a last minute Chrismtas gift for her mom – what a great idea!

And while we’re on the subject of the cookies, I’ll be posting the recipe for the delicious vegan gingerbread cookie recipe tomorrow – you have to make them if you like gingerbread at all.  They are soft and chewy with just the perfect amount of gingerbread flavor – perfect for Christmas afternoon with a cup of hot tea:)

Only two days left until Christmas – hope you are all enjoying every moment!

By the way, don’t forget to stop by Ecolissa and use the 20% discount offered to ChiaSeedMe readers!  Use code “vegan20” to get your discount.

note: I am not being compensated in any way by William Sonoma – I simply love them and wanted to share!

cheesy noodle dish + blog reading tips

2 Dec

Hi!

This morning Jon and I hit the gym a little late, so I did a really quick interval run.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to get the motivation to kill it on the treadmill, but when I do it’s nice because I get done so much faster and I feel so good!  Unfortunately I didn’t have time for weights or ab work, but later I did spend some time running through my PiYo class for this week.

I also spent some time catching up on some of my favorite blogs over breakfast!

1/3 cup oats, handful of frozen blackberries, 1 tbsp chia seeds cooked in 3/4 cup water for 2 minutes.  Add a couple spoonfuls of soy yogurt and another sprinkle of chias (just for fun:) = best oatmeal ever. creamy. thick. delish.

I hate when I get behind and I feel like I don’t know what’s going on with everyone.  This morning was like catching up with friends…I love all my blog friends:)

One thing I’ve been having a hard time with lately, though, is time.  No matter how bad I want to catch up and comment on everybody’s blogs, I just don’t have enough time.  I can sit for an hour at some point in the day, reading and commenting, and still feel like I’ve only gotten through about half, which for me is about 15 or so. I just feel like I don’t have much more time than that to give to it, especially by the time I post on my own.

I feel like I see so many bloggers who comment on tons of blogs, and I just don’t see how they have time to do it.  Is there a secret that I don’t know about? I use google reader, but by the time I click out of it to comment, I’m not sure how much time it really saves.  What gives?

I’m hoping I’ll get some tips from some of you on how to read and comment on more blogs in less time!

Moving on.

For lunch today I made one of my favorite meals, but in about 1/4 of the time it took me to make it last time!

Cheesy “noodles” and brussel sprouts

Instead of cooking the spaghetti squash in the oven, I poked holes in it with a fork and put it in the microwave for about 12 minutes.  When I took it out, it was just the right amount of softness and I sliced it open with ease. In less than 2 minutes, I had cleaned out the seeds and then scraped out the “spaghetti” strands into a bowl.

this is what it looks like after being cooked and cut in half

and after separating out the strands

While preparing the squash, I placed a bowl of halved brussel sprouts in the microwave with just a little bit of water for about 1 minute and 30 seconds.

Next, I mixed together 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, 2 tbsp hummus and about 1.5 tbsp water.  I whisked it until it had a smooth consistency.  Last, I combined about a cup of spaghetti squash and 1/2 cup of brussel spouts before pouring the sauce over top and mixing it all up.

I added a dash of black pepper and ground red pepper for some kick!

Delicious!  This is one of my favorite meals.  The credit does not go to me though – I think I originally saw this idea on Heather’s blog, and I think Gena actually came up with the sauce idea.  I know some of you may think it sounds like a crazy idea for a recipe…when I took this to work for lunch last year, my coworkers thought I had lost my mind.  Try it before you knock it though.  It honestly tastes like a big bowl of creamy, cheesy pasta!  Added bonus: it took me less than 15 minutes to make, and it heats up well too if you’re looking for lunch to take to work.

I know some people have a problem with using microwaves.  Honestly, I haven’t done enough research to voice an opinion, but I try to choose my battles.  And right now, that’s one I’m going to choose not to worry about.  If I had more time, I would just cook the squash in the oven, but on days like today I’d rather have microwaved spaghetti squash than none at all!

I’m off to meet a new tutoring student.  This is my first student who is not an adult – he’s a fourth grader!  I’m not used to this, so I’m crossing my fingers it’ll go well.  Hope you all are having a great day!

getting back on track

1 Dec

Amidst the busyness of the last few days, there have been some really sweet highlights.

Yesterday I received a mysterious box in the mail.  I always get so excited when an unexpected package comes, but usually I open it to find junk mail of some sort.  But not this time.  I opened the box, peered inside and saw this:

and this

My mom, step-dad and sister bought me this cute little scarf and mailed it to me as a surprise.  How sweet is that?  It totally brightened my entire day and made me feel so loved and happy. I have the best family:)

Another highlight came today when I finished a project that I’ve been working on.  My friend, JJ, facebooked me about a week ago and asked me if I could make a couple of tag blankets for some friends of hers who are having a baby shower this week.  I made a tag blanket for JJ’s baby right before he was born, and she says he takes it everywhere with him, so she thought it would be a great gift for her friends!

I of course happily obliged, but unfortunately my sewing machine was not quite as willing.  Yesterday took all the patience I could muster as my machine jammed over and over and over.  Finally, after about 4 hours of working, I finished them up!

tag blanket numero one

and numero two

If you’re wondering what a tag blanket is, allow me to explain.  It’s a small, soft blanket for babies that has loops of ribbon coming off of it – it’s great for cuddling, pulling, chewing and just all around good fun:)

Anyway, regardless of my frustration with the sewing machine, you really can’t beat an afternoon of sewing while jamming out to Christmas music and sipping a hot latte on a frigid winter day.  Can I get an amen?

Another thing you can’t beat?

baked apples with cinnamon and a splash of agave

and spinach lavash wraps with hummus, chia seeds and veggies.  with a side of ceramic birds:)

So, I mentioned yesterday that I would be back to talk about getting back in a healthy groove after veering from it for awhile.  The last couple of weeks or so I have just gotten a little lazy with eating clean.  Between the stresses and busyness of the everyday and the extra craziness of the holidays, I’ve been eating a few too many chips and cookies, and not nearly enough veggies.

I definitely have my ups and downs when it comes to living healthy.  I go through phases where it seems I just get on a roll of eating too much junk and not making it to the gym.  And once I start slacking, it can be sooo hard to get back on track.

But no one can be perfect all the time, and the important thing for me is to focus on the fact that I do always get back on track. Instead of beating myself up and regretting what I’ve done, I am so much more successful overall when I just dust off my behind and jump right back in the game.  Dwelling on what I’ve done in the past only serves to drag me farther down, killing any remnants of mojo I have left and leaving me feeling discouraged and sad.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve really stepped it up and gotten back on track with food and exercise.  Tonight I was thinking through a few things I’ve done to help, so I thought I’d share them with you!

  • I re-read a book that has been motivating to me in the past.  This renews my energy and refreshes my perspective of why it’s important to me to make healthy choices.  This time around it was Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean book.  Absolutely love this book – if you haven’t read it, put it on your Christmas list stat!
  • I took a few minutes to write out some goals/reasons why I want to do what it takes to feel great and be healthy. These change from time to time, so it’s really important to me to keep them fresh and current in my mind.
  • I got a partner! Turns out I’m not the only who has been slacking since the holidays started.  Talking to someone else and sharing ideas, struggles and goals together really pumps me up to make some changes.  Plus, I get instant accountability for my choices!
  • I wrote down a mantra and memorized it! Every time I start to fall back into bad habits, whether by skipping the gym multiple days in a row or by eating another handful of chips rather than some raw vegetables, I immediately repeat my mantra in my head.  It focuses me instantly!
  • I perused blogs and jotted down some new fun meal ideas that I can get excited about! Sometimes I just get in a rut and become tired of the same foods I always eat.  There’s no better place than blogs to get new inspiration for workouts and meals.
  • I pretended I felt better even before I did.  Sometimes it really does work to “fake it till you make it.”  Even though I felt sluggish and kind of weighed down, I began to act and think like I felt healthy and alive.  This got me through for a couple of days until I really did start to feel better!

These are just a few of the things I did – nothing groundbreaking, but yet these never fail to help me get back on course when I seem to have strayed far away.

I’d love to hear any ideas you have for getting back on track after being in a rut.  What do you do when this happens to you?!

Hope you’ve all had a great Wednesday!  Onward!

takin' me back

15 Sep

Today was another successful day of Operation: Get Clear Skin. Successful being used very loosely of course – meaning I pulled out all the stops by sticking to the list I posted yesterday…but my face is technically still not clear at all. I honestly do think I can see a glimmer of improvement, though, so my hopes are high.  Thank you for all the supportive comments and advice.  You guys rock!

Actually, the drama with my face brought back a memory of Thailand for me today.  It was Valentine’s Day of 2008, and Jonathan had planned a one night getaway for us at a hotel in Chiang Mai.  It was really only about 15 minutes away from our apartment, but had air conditioning, a bath tub and was gecko free as far as we could tell:)

this little guy welcomed us to our kitchen the day we moved in – little did we know his entire extended family + all his friends lived in our house as well.

flowers the husband bought me from the market

hotels like this are fairly inexpensive for Americans

I seriously stayed in this tub for hours on end.  It was like I was back in America.

The next morning he took me out to breakfast…

and then it was time for the big surprise.

He had booked me a massage and facial (also really cheap in Thailand – I could get a manicure for about three dollars)!

I remember laying on my back, feeling like I had died and gone to heaven as a sweet Thai woman massaged things into my face.

You see where this is going.

The next morning I woke up and throughout the day this rash began to show up on my face.  It was like my entire face was completely overtaken by blemishes…seriously beyond anything I’ve ever experienced in my 27 years.  I wanted to hide under a rock and never come out.  And I kept asking myself “what could have possibly made you think it was a good idea to let someone rub not only their hands, but also various other unknown concoctions all over your face?!”

Needless to say I haven’t had a facial since.

And that’s where memory lane ends.

Back to today.  I started off again with a delicious breakfast juice before doing an hour session of yoga in preparation for my class tonight.

The goods.  Parsley, escarole (leafy green I picked up at Whole Foods last week!), 1 plum, 1 organic carrot, 1 beet and 1 apple

aren’t beets so pretty?

a spry little sprig of parsley

and the finished product

After yoga and some light house keeping, I was ready for a snack.

apple and almond butter

I haven’t had an apple and almond/peanut butter together in a long time…but I think it is time to bring it back! holla.

I also sipped on a Pom spritzer (a few ounces of Pom juice mixed with seltzer water) on the side.  This little drink was so refreshing to me today.

A little while later lunch was a green monster just like yesterday’s, except with almond milk – yay for a stocked fridge!

After meeting with a new student whom I will be tutoring now as well as student I’ve been tutoring for awhile, I came home craving exactly what you see above: homemade salsa (recipe coming soon!), baby carrots, sugar snap peas, spelt pretzels and spicy garlic  hummus.  This snack plate was so filling and it took me forever to eat it, which is a plus in my book:)

Dinner was a little more carb heavy.  I somehow failed to get a picture, but the husband and I made Mexican Fiesta Pasta. It was hot, mexicany, spicy and it really hit the spot!

I must be off to bed now…I’m planning to make it up in the morning in time for a run, but I’m a little worried seeing as how tired I am right now and how late it is.  Must. Get. Sleep.

G’night!