Archive | September, 2012

What is your purpose? Super Soul Sunday on OWN

30 Sep

Since I have quite a bit of food stored up in the freezer for next week (including my Bulgur Chicken Stew and curried chickpeas with quinoa), I had a free Sunday. I spent a majority of the time watching football with my family (the in-laws came up), and reading Lauren Groff’s new book Arcadia.

But there was just a little something missing today. The night before we went to the casino and I won $200 at a Sex and the City slot machine.


This certainly made me happy since I never win at the casino. Then my husband won $100 on another slot machine. After that we went to the buffet at the casino and then to the bar for a drink. I will have to admit, I did not keep up with my clean eating this weekend, and now I’m paying for it. I feel lethargic, I have a headache, and I just feel bad. But rather than beat myself up over it, I just have to start anew right now.

Since I was feeling off, I thought I would watch a show that always cheers me up and gets me thinking. As you k now from one of my posts last week, I’ve been slightly obsessed with Oprah lately. I’ve been DVRing her Super Soul Sunday shows for weeks now. This particular show featured Caroline Myss. I’d never heard of her, but as I’ve learned from watching many an Oprah show, that was no reason to write her off.

Caroline focuses on spirit (as she describes it, spirit is the hope in you, the part of your mind that won’t give up hope) and  your own path in life. Within the first fifteen minutes of the episode, I had light bulbs going off everywhere. One particular quote I liked was, “If you have life, you have purpose.” I’ve often thought, “Why am I here? What is my purpose for being here? Am I living the life I was supposed to?”

Caroline believes we each have a purpose in our life, but some people don’t know their purpose? Oprah was asking, “How can you not know your purpose?” They discussed that in this time period in our society, we tend to get lost. We want to live someone else’s life, someone else’s purpose.

This really struck a cord with me, as it was a topic I discussed with a dear friend of mine a couple weeks ago. We don’t live near each other, but have known each other since middle school and try to connect as much as we can. I was telling her about my frustrations about not being happy but not knowing the reason. She was sharing her challenges with me. But after watching this episode of Super Soul Sunday, I realized the things that were problematic for us, were things that aren’t necessarily “ours”. They were things that belonged to other people, and were perhaps part of their purpose. For example, I was telling her about my frustration that we weren’t ready to have children yet, and I was feeling a little lost in my goals for the future career-wise.

It all goes back to the quote Iyanla said on Oprah’s Lifeclass, “Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against oneself.” My friend and I were comparing our lives to others, when that wasn’t even our purpose. Lightbulb!

How do you get to your life’s purpose? Caroline Myss says, “Have no judgments about yourself, no expectations, and give up the need to know what happens tomorrow.” WOW. It’s like a big red flag telling me to LIVE IN THE PRESENT. I’ve heard this for weeks now, and been reading it for the same amount of time.

I caught myself doing it today when I was relaxing with my family this morning. I kept thinking, “I should really test that pumpkin protein pancake recipe for my blog now. I should make some tomato soup since I have all those tomatoes in the fridge. I should be watering the plants.” I caught myself doing it, and stopped! I said to myself there was plenty of time left in the day and if not, there is always tomorrow. I have plenty of food in the fridge and freezer to get me through the week. There is nothing else that I “should” be doing or “have” to be doing. I can choose to do those other things or I can choose to relax with my family. I chose my family.



28 Sep

If fall lasted all year long, I really don’t think I would mind. Don’t get me wrong, summer is great! But fall has those great temperatures in the 60’s, gorgeous colors, crisp air, and that smell. I can’t even describe it, but you can just smell fall in the air.

Fall also means craft season for me! This summer I reupholstered a bench at our house, made some pillows and a dog bed, but football Sunday gives me plenty of time to knit, crochet, scrapbook, and sew.







Birdie Pillow

My husband literally dominates the TV all Sunday, and watches almost every game. He doesn’t leave the house, and it’s actually a miracle if he sets foot outside! But it’s nice because I can take the day for me. I get food ready for the week, read, and craft. Today on my lunch break I bought a plethora of yarn for some projects. As I mentioned before, quite a few people I know are pregnant right now or just had babies. I decided to knit all the moms-to-be this adorable little owl.


I also recently finished this sweater for my friend’s brand new little boy, Jackson.

Knitting (or really any craft project) is great when you are trying to keep fit. I know that may sound a little strange, but it honestly helps. If I’m watching TV and knitting, I can’t be eating. My mind and my hands are occupied. I find sometimes when I’m in the middle of a knitting or sewing project, I can’t stop until I’m done. This prevents me from mindlessly snacking. My self-esteem is also boosted because I can say, “Look what I created!” When I am happy and feeling good about myself, I treat myself better with good food and exercise.

Since I plan on starting some crafts tonight, a quick dinner is in order. I discovered a Greek Chicken Burger recipe from the show Drop Five Pounds with Good Housekeeping. I decided to try it, even though my husband is the world’s pickiest eater. Turns out, this is one of his new favorite recipes! Instead of putting my burger into a pita, I crumble it on top of mixed greens or spinach. Then I use the minty yogurt sauce as my dressing.

Off to craft! Enjoy your Friday evening.

Living in the moment

27 Sep

I’m not going to lie–I love Oprah. One night when my husband was out-of-town and there was nothing on TV, I stumbled upon Oprah’s Lifeclass on OWN. The lesson was with Iyanla Vanzant, and it was about relationships between women. The show was pretty eye-opening, especially a statement that Iyanla said, “Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against oneself.” I was hooked to OWN for the rest of the weekend! Oprah also said something that weekend that stuck with me. Oprah had a dog that was constantly moving and never slowed down. One day the dog went after a ball, choked on it and died. Oprah was devastated, but she looked for the lesson from the experience—slow down or you will wear yourself to death! She said, “I believe everything happens for a reason, and we are meant to learn from it.”

I believe I saw that episode of Lifeclass for a reason. Lately I’d been comparing myself to other people, especially when it came to parenthood. It’s not like I am unable to have children, but my uterine fibriods could have an impact. This is not the right time for my husband and I to have a child; we aren’t there just yet. But in the next year we will start trying. However, I kept comparing myself to other people my age or younger raising children, having children, and getting pregnant. My head says, “That’s not fair. Why can’t I have a child now? What if I won’t be able to get pregnant”, etc. I also know everyone lives life at their own pace. But I was not connecting the two. I’ve finally come to accept that it will happen when we are ready and when the time is right. I will only hurt myself and possibly my relationships if I continue to compare myself with others.

This morning I watched a Lifeclass episode I recorded last weekend about living in the moment. How strange I should happen to pick this episode?! I had a particularly rough day at work and was thinking about things that happened in the past. This is something I tend to do quite a bit, as well as think of things I have to do in the future. I rarely live in the present! Even when I’m getting a massage or taking a run, I’m constantly checking on a mental list of things I have to do. It’s terrible. The part of the episode that especially touched me was when they brought in a mother who was burned in a plane accident over 80% of her body. She said when she was in a coma she heard a voice saying she could choose to live a difficult life or die. She chose to live. They paired her with a mom who was dissatisfied with her life and the little things. They spent the day together and she saw how much the mother with injuries struggled with opening things, not being able to hold her children, and the pain of her wounds. She said it really opened her up to appreciating every moment with her children and to be present when she spent time with them.

When I am at home tonight with my dogs and my husband, I’m going to live in the present. I’m going to appreciate them and focus on that moment. I’m not going to worry about work, having children, or the dishes on the counter. I’m going to enjoy the ones I love.

Enjoy the moment!

What Did You Accomplish Today?

24 Sep

Mondays…they often feel like such a challenge. But instead of complaining about it, I decided this morning, I was going to grab Monday by the you-know-what! I posted this status update to my Facebook page, “Happy Monday! Think of all the possibilities and things you can accomplish this week!” It really put me in a better mood. I started to think of all the adventures, challenges to face, obstacles to overcome. I’ve been in a very mundane mood lately. Get up, go to work, go home, make dinner, go to bed. I’ve been focusing on the monotony and not the great things, like the way the fog looked on my walk this morning. Or how good I felt after doing a workout this morning. Or how comforting it is to have a pup lay by your side. Or how my husband makes me laugh every day.


Enjoy the scenery!

To change my attitude around, I’ve been retraining my brain to think positive. I read an article recently about a psychologist who recommended treating that negative voice in your head like the mean girl in high school who wants nothing but bad things to happen to you. I’ve also started saying daily affirmations, which I thought sounded a little hokey at first, but I think they honestly work. You are training that negative voice in your head that says, “You’re stupid!” to say “You are smart!”

I’ve also learned that you won’t get as much affirmation at work or home that you would like. So instead of relying on other people to lift me up, I’m going to rely on myself. At night, I think of three things I did well at work and I e-mail them to my work e-mail. That way, I’m thinking about it right before I go to bed and it’s one of the first things I see in the morning.

As far as accomplishments, I got a lot done today at home and at work. This morning I took the girls on a 30 minute walk, and did some mybarre3 workouts at home. If you haven’t tried this workout, I highly recommend it. It helps with your posture, gives you a great stretch, gets you toned, and is quite challenging! This is my primary method of toning besides yoga with my back injury, and I feel like my back is getting better. My muscles aren’t as tense all the time and I wake up less sore. Right now I’m just doing 10 minutes of toning per day and 10 minutes of stretching. After I do this for a few weeks, I’ll move up to 20 minutes, etc. mybarre3 has monthly subscriptions you can purchase if you don’t have a studio in your area. The price is $15 a month and you get access to 40 workout videos ranging in time from 10-60 minutes. They even have pregnancy and post-pregnancy videos!

Did you accomplish something that surprised you or made you proud? Please share!

Have a wonderful evening!

Sunday (the day of rest?) and a New Recipe–Bulgur Chicken Stew

23 Sep

This weekend was jam-packed with to-dos. But luckily, I was able to squeeze in a few of my favorite things to celebrate the first of day of fall, my favorite season!

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

Saturday started bright and early at 6:15am. The girls had important appointments; one at the vet and one at the groomers. I dropped Edie off at the vet for her dental cleaning and check-up, while Eve and I went for a trail run/walk before heading to the grocery store. I thought the leaves would be a little more colorful on our run, but it was still great to be in the crisper air.  After indulging in a homemade pumpkin spice latte, I put on my orange skinny jeans (another ode to fall!) and dragged Nathan into town. We dropped Eve off for her trim, and continued on with our errands.

The aftermath of the girls’ day was mixed.

Eve’s trim was a success

Edie was pretty doped up from the dental cleaning

After enjoying a fun dinner with friends, I called it a pretty early night. Since I was laid up with the flu last weekend, quite a few things were piling up at home.

Since my back has felt better, I decided to risk a two-mile run with the girls. I didn’t go very fast and felt a little pain on the run, but I stretched a good ten minutes when I got home. So far, everything is feeling good.

From 10am until 2:30pm, I was on my feet cooking, baking, and doing laundry. I started out making some Multi-grain Waffles from Tosca Reno‘s The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook 2. Since my husband’s friend spent the night, I made the boys “normal” waffles; my husband is a picky eater and I pick and choose when to make him go outside the box. It’s all about compromise! I put the rest of my multi-grain waffles in the freezer so I can just pop them in the toaster.

I like to make homemade bars and snack bars when I can. Sometimes they cost as much as $2 at the grocery store. I haven’t tallied up how much it costs to make them on your own, but I know it’s certainly cheaper than that! Plus, you get the added benefit of knowing exactly what goes into your food. I found a great recipe from a fellow blogger for homemade Kind bars. The first time I made them, I knew I had to Pin the recipe. They honestly taste so much like Kind bars, I’m not even sure I would be able to tell a difference! You can check out the recipe at The Whole Kitchen. I used pecans (my parents live in New Mexico and send me some since they are grown there), almonds, pepitas, and hemps seeds.

I also made some granola from a Clean Eating Magazine recipe and some Blueberry Oat Protein Muffins from EatCleanDiet.Com. I followed the Blueberry Oat Protein Muffins recipe exactly (except for adding a pinch of cinnamon), using frozen blueberries. I would recommend using fresh blueberries or thaw blueberries the night before and make sure all the liquid is drained out. I chose to defrost my this morning and my muffins were a little too wet, but they still taste wonderful.

Muffins pre-oven

For the granola, I replaced the cranberries with apricots since I have quite a few on hand. That’s what I like about nut bars and granola–you can switch up what kind of nuts and fruits you use depending on what’s in your pantry. I also only baked the granola for 30 minutes; when I did 40 last time, the granola burned. The recipe makes about 12 1/2 cup servings.

Tons of granola!

And now for a new recipe! I like to make stews and soups in the fall/winter. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it’s a great way to get in some lean protein, lots of veggies, and healthy carbs all in one. Plus, if you can cook it in the slow cooker, even better–saves you time and clean up.

Bulgur Chicken Stew

(After plugging everything into, I estimate the soup yields eight 1 1/2 cup servings at about 300 calories)

1 large sweet onion, diced

3 carrots, diced

2 celery sticks, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 1b chicken breast tenders, diced

1/2 cup black-eyed peas, dried and sorted

1/2 cup whole wheat bulgur

6 medium baby red potatoes, diced

32-40 ounces chicken stock (reduced sodium)

1 tsp each, dried oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cups baby portabella mushrooms, sliced

1) Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add sweet onion, carrots, celery, and garlic cloves to pan. You could also add the chicken to the pan to brown a little if you like. Heat for a few minutes until onions become translucent.

2) Begin to add all ingredients through the bay leaves to your crock pot. Set on high. Cook for two hours.

3) After two hours, add the baby portabella mushrooms (depending on the size of your pot, it can get pretty tight in there!).

4) Cook for another two hours.

Divide and enjoy!

Stew for the week!

The bulgur becomes soft, making the stew almost creamy. Delicious!

Get set for the week! Plan your meals, portion out healthy snacks and your lunches. If you have your food ready, you’re more likely to pick something healthy. Enjoy your bites!

Taco Salad

20 Sep

The day started off like most of the days in our home—Edie ate a homemade protein bar. On the advice of our vet I went home to check on her at lunch. Of course, she was perfectly fine. The vet was concerned about the bits of dark chocolate that were in the bar and the protein powder, but our little pup was napping on the couch when I came home without a care in the world.

After work today, I took the girls to our local off-leash park for a walk/run. The sun has been bright the entire month of August with no rain, and it’s carrying into September. In Washington, we have to take advantage of every minute!

Yesterday I made my Tropical Smoothie with a brand new ingredient, baby kale! I tried a smoothie at Robeks a few weeks ago that had kale and pineapple. It tasted amazing, and kale is a nutrient powerhouse.  It packs in a large amount of Vitamin K, C, & A, and also is a good source of manganese. Why does that matter?

–Vitamin K helps to regulate normal blood clotting

–Vitamin C does more than assist your immune system; it’s a powerful antioxidant that promotes skin repair and may help protect against cancer

–Vitamin A helps promote good vision, and keeps your bones, skin, and teeth healthy & strong

–Manganese plays a role in the digestion of protein and carbohydrates, which are included in the smoothie

Kale is pretty fibrous, so baby kale is a great way to incorporate this wonderful veggie into your smoothie if you don’t have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix (in my dreams).

Now onto dinner!

Nathan asked me why I haven’t made tacos in a while the other day, and I thought that was a darn good question. I LOVE Mexican food, however, if you aren’t careful it can pack on a lot of calories and fat (another reason I like to make dinner at home, rather than go out to eat). I make tacos for Nathan and transform my taco into a taco salad. When you add everything up here, it’s about 500 calories, but if you would like to eliminate the taco shell, you save about 100 calories. I must have my shell; I love the crunch it adds. Food is more appetizing and satisfying when there is a combination of textures.

We use ground turkey since I don’t eat beef. I also use a small can or about ½ cup of tomato sauce to keep the meat moist. After browning the meat and adding the sauce, I put in homemade taco seasoning. I use the recipe from A Sweet Pea Chef, but replace the ginger with 1/8 teaspoon ancho chili powder. Then I assemble my salad!

                1 handful mixed greens

                1 handful baby kale

                About six tbsps. of Paul Newman’s Pineapple Salsa

                ¼ an avocado

                1 taco shell heated up and broken into pieces

                4 oz turkey meat

                2 tbsp reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese blend

I’m off to do some yoga stretches while watching Project Runway. Have a wonderful evening!

New Smoothie and Garlic Ginger Stir-Fry

18 Sep

Since I haven’t blogged since December, I figured I owed you a few recipes.

Tropical Smoothie

One cup mixed frozen fruit (pineapple, mango, strawberries)

Two big handfuls of baby spinach

One serving of brown rice protein powder

One tablespoon ground flaxseed

Two tablespoons oatmeal

One banana

One and a half cups vanilla almond milk

Directions: Whip up in a blender for 30 seconds. Enjoy!

If you are ever short on time and have some cooked chicken in the house, I highly recommend this recipe. It literally took me about 15-20 minutes from start to plate.

Garlic Ginger Stir-Fry

About one and a half cups grated carrots

Couple of handfuls of frozen broccoli

One cup of frozen edamame

One tablespoon coconut oil

One teaspoon five spice blend

A tablespoon or two of peanuts

8 oz cooked chicken, diced


One teaspoon of grated ginger (I run it over a microplane)

Two cloves garlic, minced (I also run this through the microplane)

Three tablespoons peanut butter

1/4 cup of chicken stock

One tablespoon of soy sauce

Pinch of cayenne or chili flakes

1) Heat one tablespoon of coconut oil in a wok on medium high.

2) Add frozen broccoli and edamame after the coconut oil has melted. Cook for about four minutes. I also added a splash of chicken stock.

3) Add the grated carrots and chicken; cook for another three minutes.

4) While the veggies are cooking, whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.

5) Add one teaspoon of the five spice blend. Cook for another few minutes.

6) Add the peanuts and cook for two minutes.

7) Add the sauce and cook until heated through.

And then you are done! I ate mine with no rice. You could eat the stir-fry with quinoa for some extra protein if you are watching carbs.

This makes two servings and the sauce recipe is enough for four servings. I had to make my husband’s sans veggies.