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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Food Tuesday: Edamame and Mung Bean Fettuccine and Roasted Cauliflower



Today, I tried edamame and mung bean fettuccine. I saw it at the store a few weeks ago and grabbed it on a whim. It's been sitting around waiting to be tried since then. I have to say, I regret waiting so long! To prepare it, I followed the cooking instructions and tossed in diced tomatoes sauteed in olive oil and minced garlic. I also seasoned it with salt and pepper. I served it with roasted cauliflower (which I prepared on the off chance I wouldn't like the pasta). To prepare the cauliflower, I tossed it with avocado oil and Himalayan sea salt and popped it in the oven for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. I like my roasted veggies pretty brown (looooooove the buttery flavored crunchy bits). You can cook it for a little less depending on your preferences. 

The end result was delicious. I didn't need the cauliflower but I loved it. I enjoyed every bite and will be making this pasta part of my pantry favorites in 2015. It fills my pasta craving while still allowing me to eat clean. Win! Cheers! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday Quotable




























I knew at the end of 2014 that this year would bring about great changes in our lives.

I'm finally moving into a place of gratitude and freeing up my life for all the blessings 2015 has to offer.

As for the January's goals, stay tuned. I'll update you on the next Monday Quotable. Here's to grabbing life by the horns.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Food Tuesday: Butternut Squash "Risotto"




























I've been on a super clean eating plan over the past few weeks. It was one of my goals in kicking off the year. The exercise hasn't been going as well as I'd have liked (I've been a stranger to the gym) but I am getting in some at home routines. I'm proud of myself for hanging in and I've gotten some positive results in terms of weight loss (I'll take 4 pounds).

All of that shiny happiness aside, I confess to missing ooey, gooey comfort food especially when it is 9 degrees outside. It was that feeling that made me desperately look around my kitchen for a way to fake it. I settled on fake risotto. To make it, I cooked red quinoa, which I'm obsessed with these days, and tossed it with leftover brown rice. Then, I added butternut squash puree and kept adding it a little at a time until I was happy with the creamy consistency I was craving (it ended up being about 2/3 cup). I spiced it up with salt, pepper, garlic powder and a little turmeric. It was almost there but something was missing. I finally decided it needed a little brightness so I added lemon. Then, I finished it with a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar. It added the hint of sweetness that I'm used to with butternut squash soup or bisque. I garnished with parsley and sesame seeds.

It's not the wine or veggie stock soaked variety I love but you know what? It did the trick by satisfying my cravings, filling me up (I was STUFFED) and leaving me no worse for the wear in terms of my clean eating goals. AND, it was delicious.

The whole experiment made me want to develop more ideas for using butternut squash. In the past, I've used it on pizza, in stews, and certainly in soup. What's next? Sauce for zucchini noodles? Butternut squash curry? Mushroom or lentil and butternut squash veggie burgers? The possibilities are swimming around my head but don't worry. I am not going to turn this into a Bubba Gump moment and start posting butternut squash dishes every week. Ok, I'm done saying butternut.

What "cheater" recipes do you use to trick yourself when you're craving your high fat, high calorie faves? Leave links and recipes in the comments! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday Quotable



Today's quote is one from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that you may not have seen before. This year, I decided to go with one of his lesser known statements but a powerful one, nevertheless. It has been said repeatedly that in one of the richest countries in the world, there should not be so many people struggling with homelessness. There are roughly 19 homeless people for every 10,000 people in the general population. The number is even higher among veterans (27 homeless of every 10,000 people). It's wholly unacceptable and clearly something needs to change to lower those numbers.

The quote also goes beyond the context in which it was said. It can apply to any problem for which you feel empathy. Every cause from human trafficking, police brutality, rape and domestic violence to skewed beauty standards and cuts in education need supportive voices rallying behind it.

Since today has become a day of service, why not spend time thinking about your ideal world. That should help you identify the things you feel "ugly up" the world. Next, brainstorm things you can do to advance change.  Maybe you can even join groups/charities that have your same goals in mind. It's all about making the world a better place--healing wounds rather than covering them with bandages. You may only be able to take small steps initially but who knows what it could lead to down the road. The point is to stay focused on change and living in a better, kinder world. Happy Monday. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Artist Spotlight: Niykee Heaton




























This week's spotlight is on Niykee Heaton. You know how you come across YouTube artists whose channels are full of awesome acoustic covers and suddenly your favorite ratchet music is a chill sing-songy balad that you need to hear all the time? This week's artist's channel is no exception. Niykee Heaton has moved well beyond YouTube, however. Last year, she released an EP (Bad Intentions) on All Def Digital, which was founded by industry heavyweights, Russell Simmons, Steve Rifkind and Brian Robbins. There was virtually no label-funded promotion for her project. Instead, she relied on self-promotion through social media, and of course, her talent. The result was a spot in the Top 10 charts for iTunes and on the Billboard + Twitter Trending 140 chart. Her hard work also got her music to TV, which is where I heard her for the first time. While she is being called a pop artist, there is something distinctively urban about her approach. I'm looking forward to hearing more from this artist. You can find plenty of her music and her stellar covers on her YouTube channel. And of course, here's a playlist.




Thursday, January 15, 2015

Work.Out.

Last week, I promised this week's workout would be all about arms. Let's get rid of our "bat wings" shall we?

The first set is with very light weight and a large amount of reps. Don't be scared off by the number. Get through as many as you can!!




































If that's not enough, here are a couple of videos from some of my favorite YouTube fitness channels (Fitness Blender and Blogilates). You'll notice there's a tank top arms workout and you may think, "It's Winter!" I assure you, Summer will be here before you know it. Happy Thursday!



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Love List




























1. The Breathometer is a little contraption that can tell you if your breath is bad. It can also tell you about your hydration level and whether bad breath is possibly linked to larger health problems. (Indiegogo)

2. Tina and Amy are back together and not just to host a show! They are putting out Sisters this year. You can see the trailer here. (People)

3. Gweneth Bateman did a social media experiment where she would respond to messaged compliments from men with nice answers in which she accepted and agreed with the compliment. It's amazing how the tables turned. You can read all about it here. (Buzzfeed)

4. As you know, I've been eating whole foods and am planning a juice cleanse for the end of the month. I'll admit to going through sugar withdrawal and not feeling great but I know it's for a great purpose. In looking for recipes, I came across this 3-day reset. I think it will be good to do once a month after I get through January. (The Coveteur)

5. I know I included concealer tips in my last Love List but I found an even better list to share. I can't get enough concealer tips in this season of hard work and little sleep. (Cosmopolitan)

6. The New York Times has a library of cooking tip videos and I'm sold. (New York Times)

7. I love squash but I've just about exhausted my recipe file. I was excited to find ten potential new go-to recipes to add to my collection. (The Everygirl)

8. I hear Trivia Crack is THE new game app. I downloaded it but haven't given in to the addiction yet. That said, I love a good trivia game and millions can't be wrong. (Business Week)

9. 5:31 Jérôme is the brainchild of Jérôme Lamar. He describes the look of his line as polished, playful, glamorous and feminine with a focus on tailoring and street style. I love it (and this tailored yellow vest in particular). (5:31 Jérôme)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Food Tuesday: Winter Quinoa



This week I made a mixture of red and white quinoa because I just a little of both. When the quinoa was cooked (make sure to salt the water!!), I sauteed a minced garlic clove in a tablespoon of olive oil then added 2 cups of chopped kale into a deep skillet. Once the kale was sauteed, I added the quinoa to the skillet with some pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. I seasoned the finished product with a touch of garlic powder, coarse himalayan sea salt, fresh ground black pepper and a garlic and wine seasoning I purchased from a restaurant. The finished product was pretty delicious. I think I'm doing ok with this whole eating clean thing. Happy Tuesday! 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Monday Quotable




























Ash and I set a joint goal to finally eliminate ALL of the clutter from our lives in 2015. I really believe that your house is a reflection of your life and since I'm trying to open my life up to peace and blessings, I figure my house needs to follow suit. This weekend, we attacked out closets and dressers. We tossed everything we don't currently wear save for the items that have sentimental value (i.e., my wedding dress).  We have 4 huge garbage bags full of clothing items for donation. We have another bag of shoes and a bag of bedding.







































When we finished going through clothes, we attacked our office. Another two huge bags of junk. Notes I made while brainstorming locations, old pay stubs, empty prescription bottles that I was supposed to mark the address information off of months ago, tons of unlabeled CDs with who knows what on them, Pantone paint chips left over from a craft project, pens, highlighters and markers that don't work. You get it. JUNK. We tossed it all.

The project is time consuming and tiring but the pay off will be great. We are vowing to release our inner pack-rats and close out that chapter of our lives. It has been something we've been trying to do for years in stop-starts but we've always let the clutter creep back in. We'd clean and reorganize the pantry after a fit of "I can't believe we already had [enter almost any food item here]!!" We'd stare in awe at the clean pantry and find things with ease. Then laziness creeps in and things get pushed to the back or they're put in the wrong section and suddenly, we're buying penne and there are 3 boxes already in the pantry. We're also mail hoarders. I have huge stacks of mail in the shredding pile. I don't know the last time I sat down at our crappy shredder to slowly feed 1 envelope at a time into the machine and watch it slowly (oh so slowly) come out shredded on the other side. I also have stacks of catalogues. I dumped them all last night and it felt great!  

Friday, January 9, 2015

Artist Spotlight: Ella Henderson

Ella Henderson is this week's Artist Spotlight. I can't remember where I first heard her music but I know it was December 2nd and the single I heard was Glow. Yes, I can be that specific. I loved it so much, I wrote it down. I later discovered she was blowing up with her single Ghost. Both songs and everything else this 18-year old artist has put out so far is great. The soulful underpinnings are right up my alley and I'm excited to hear more from her.

Here is a playlist of her music and a short interview. Enjoy and Happy FRIDAY!!!



Thursday, January 8, 2015

Work.Out.

This weeks workouts are from Fitness Blender. One is a short core workout and the other is a fat burning lower body workout. Both are great and will definitely build up your sweat equity for the week. If you've been following me on IG this week, you know this week has been all about the core and the lower body. Stay tuned for some upper body development next week. I decided sometime mid-week that I want to take a repelling class. Gonna need the guns (ha!) for that. Happy Thursday!







Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Love List




























1. I love a good makeup tip. You can find great tricks for your concealer here. (Refinery 29)

2. One of my goals this month is to sign up for an improv class. I think I found what I need at Improvolution. Can't wait. (Improvolution)

3. I read and re-read You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero in the last 2 weeks. It was a great way to kick off the year and has given me more than sufficient inspiration to make 2015 an awesome year. Get your own copy at Amazon or Audible. (Jen Sincero)

4. I'm shopping for ear cuffs this month. It's my new favorite accessory and with this pair from Zara, you can add a delicate yet edgy touch to any look without breaking the bank. (Zara)

5. In the journey to better health, I've been researching juices, tonics and smoothies. I'm trying this lemon turmeric tonic this week for its anti-inflammatory properties. (MindBodyGreen)

6. We're preparing for a big change in our lives, which is requiring us to finish the never ending purge project. By month end, we will have gotten rid of everything we don't need and/or love. These tips are helping. Time to make room for bigger blessings. (Living Well, Spending Less)

7. The cold Winter weather wreaks havoc on my hair and skin. Static much? This article provides over 100 tips to cure seasonal skin and hair woes. Someone pass the moisturizer. (PopSugar)

8. I know it is weird to find Google on a love list. It's like, DUH! Everyone loves Google. That said, with all the changes I'm making and experiences I want to have in 2015, I've been cozying up to Google for hours at a time in the last few weeks. So, it makes the list whether its a given or not. (Google)

9. I'm sticking to whole, clean foods this month (have I said that enough yet?).  I'm tired of my go to items so I'm searching for recipes everywhere. I stumbled upon Leslie Durso's blog after seeing a vegan junk food video on Buzzfeed. (Leslie Durso)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Food Tuesday: Balela Salad






















As you know, one of my goals for the month is to eat clean, whole foods. It makes shopping a bit of a chore. I read more labels on Sunday's trip to the grocery store than I care to admit. One good thing did happen as a result, however. As I read certain labels, I thought, "I can make this myself!" And that is exactly what I did. The first of what will likely become several recreated recipes is Balela Salad. I'd never heard of it before but it contained so many things I love (and use as a staple), I had to try it. It came out good and tastes better with each passing day because the flavors have more time to marry. I've had it for dinner with vegan stuffed grape leaves and alone (with a little scoop of hummus to offset heat) for lunch. The best thing about taking time to make it at home? You can control the flavor balance. I don't like too much spice so I dialed down the jalapeno. I love the brightness of lemon, so I added more juice. I also added about a 1/2 teaspoon of cumin. I'm putting the basic recipe I found online (www.thesavory.com). Play with it to suit your needs.

Balela Salad
Ingredients 
4 cans of garbanzo beans
4 cans black beans
1 cup of parsley
1/2 cup mint
1/2 small red onion
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 finely chopped jalapeno
1 finely chopped garlic clove
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Put all dressing ingredients into a food processor and blend them up.

* I placed everything except the beans in the food processor to "blend them up" and then tossed it together with the beans. I also let it sit for about an hour before eating it. Like I said before, it gets better the longer you let it sit (within health guidelines, of course). Bon appétit!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Monday Quotable



























This is the time of year where we focus on the resolutions we just made and try to create new habits so we don't give up mid-month.

Last year, I used a guide I found on Pinterest to set goals for myself. I totally bombed. In fact, the only things I saw through to completion were reading a book a month and eating more raw foods. That 2 out of 9 and a bucket list full of things like taking an improv class that I didn't get around to. Besides being busy at work, I don't have an excuse. I certainly spent more time in front of the TV than should be allowed.

I'm not going to wallow in shame. I'm letting go of the past and creating space for the future. Once principal will guide this year: Renew Your Commitment Everyday.

I started the year by reading "You Are A Badass" by Jen Sincero. It has given me a push to re-dedicate myself to my writing and to start pushing myself towards a life that is going to make me happy. I've carved out some specifics to make that happen and am excited for a year with very little downtime but one that is filled with things I WANT to do--not those I'm obligated to do.

I'm holding myself accountable by going a monthly check-in here on the blog. My projects for the month are:

1. Eat clean, whole foods; complete one three-day juice cleanse
2. Sign up for an improv class
3. Finish purging items we don't need
4. Try two new restaurants
5. Get back in the gym on a regular schedule (at least 4x/week)
6. Complete expansion of blog phase one (vlogging)
7. Create debt elimination and savings plan for 2015
8. Attend one networking event

I think these are pretty lofty goals for the first month of the year but life if short and I have a lot I want to do. Here's to writing a great story for 2015.