Haitian Heritage Month Highlight: Kettly Mars

Haitian Heritage Month Highlight: Kettly Mars

Today’s feature is Kettly Mars, an award-winning Haitian poet and novelist. I wanted to feature her for a very specific reason, besides her talent. She worked as a administrative assistant for several years and didn’t begin to pursue her writing until she was in her 30’s. I love that she knew it wasn’t over because she started down one path and had the courage to go down another. She has written seven novels and several poetry and short story collections including young adult. She writes in French but her work has been translated into Kreyol, English, Italian, Dutch and Japanese.

 

My hand and the stone (as translated by Alexander Best)

.

My hand and the stone,

sage rebellion of noble particles

gripped in my palm.

I’ve made my own her reality:

grey, heavy, oval.

Millennial stone

whose cry

lays claim to nothing other than a

defiance of oblivion.

 

Meatless Mondays: Pho with Mushroom Broth and Broccoli

Meatless Mondays: Pho with Mushroom Broth and Broccoli

I came home from the movies yesterday and decided it was high time we cooked the Pho waiting for us in the cabinet. Any kind of soup or stew is Hubby’s specialty so I let him have at it. It wasn’t a traditional Vietnamese Pho although he did use the rice noodles and the seasoning packet that came with it.

He started by using a little oil in the pot. He then added onions, hot sauce, minced garlic, red pepper and celery with Himalayan sea salt and peppers. After they caramelized, he added 4 cups of mushroom broth and then 4 cups of water. He brought it to a boil and then added  3/4 cup of broccoli. Three to five minutes later, he added the rice noodles and let boil for 2-3 minutes. Cilantro was added to garnish the dish. The spice combination was fantastic! We are excited to eat it again, tonight. Sometimes, leftovers is what’s best for dinner and that is always alright with me!

Meatless Mondays: Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing

Meatless Mondays: Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing

The days are getting longer and hotter and it’s the perfect time to try new salads. I found this recipe at the minimalistbaker.com. I was especially excited to try making another salad dressing. The fact that it includes oranges made me even more curious. Instead of mixed greens, I chose spinach leaves. I also used the sweet Cara Cara oranges in the dressing and to adorn my plate. The sweetener brand used was Truvia. We loved the combination of sweet and savory on the plate and will definitely try again!

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients
SALAD
  • 5-6 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (red or white)
  • 1/2 cup fresh or canned corn
  • 1 cup cooked black beans (seasoned with equal pinches sea salt, cumin, chili, + garlic powder)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 orange, segmented
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped or torn
DRESSING
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 large lime, juiced (~4 Tbsp)
  • 3 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1-2 tsp sweetener of choice (maple syrup, agave, cane sugar, etc.)
  • 1-2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder (or sub extra hot sauce or chipotle powder)
  • Healthy pinch each sea salt and black pepper
  • optional: 1 Tbsp fresh minced cilantro
  • 3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil

Instructions

  1. Begin preparing quinoa first by thoroughly rinsing 1/2 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer then bringing to a boil with 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare salad ingredients by chopping vegetables, segmenting orange, and warming black beans and seasoning with salt, cumin, chili and garlic powder.
  3. Prepare dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blending until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added more hot sauce, orange juice and salt. TIP: if you prefer a vinaigrette, leave out the avocado and simply whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  4. Either plate salad and serve with dressing on the side, or toss with dressing before serving. Pairs well with salsa, fresh lime juice and tortilla chips.
  5. Leftovers keep for up to a few days, though best when fresh.

 

Leaning In

Leaning In

Time for a wellness update. I am not sure why this one is so hard for me. I was thinking about why some weeks I work so hard to fight for my goals and others make me want to crawl under the covers and not come out for a couple of days. My couple of days was this past week. I found myself doing things I wouldn’t normally doing. I know I am not scared of success, especially if it brings me closer to my health goals so when I do things to sabotage my goals even if it only shows up as a 2 lb weight gain, what does that mean?

It may mean that I am close to a breakthrough which doesn’t happen often. And if it doesn’t happen often, the lack of familiarity makes me freeze up and want to run back to the comfort I know, even if it’s not the healthiest place.

The difference is I recognize it and want to lean into whatever breakthrough is coming, no matter the discomfort or the uncertainty that makes me feel like I am breaking apart and coming together over and over again.

Meatless Mondays: Vegan Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli and Hot Italian “Sausage”

Meatless Mondays: Vegan Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli and Hot Italian “Sausage”

I had a full day and when I stopped over at Whole Foods for lunch. While I was shopping, I saw Beyond Meat has started selling a few flavors of their “sausage”. I also spied an almond milk, soy an dairy-free version of ravioli by Kite Hill. I chose the Hot Italian flavor of the sausage and the spinach and ricotta for the ravioli. When I ate dairy products, cheese was one of my favorites so I have always been willing to explore the alternatives. Most brands get it wrong but I love what Kite Hill did with their nut cheese filling. The consistency and the taste were better than I expected. Tonight, I kept it simple. I boiled the ravioli and cooked the Beyond Meat sausages on a stick-free pan. I added some tomato sauce and basil and I was satisfied. As much as I love discovering new recipes, some nights call for discovering new products to cook quickly and have the rest of the night to yourself.

New Eyes

New Eyes

Every week, I try new plant-based recipes and explore ways to move my lifestyle away from “if it’s vegan, I’ll eat it” to “whole foods plant-based.” I can’t say I am always successful but I see the difference. For example, I cooked without oil for several meals this week and after a rigorous workout, I chose to blend a Honeydew lime smoothie with watermelon on the side.  It helps to eat something light but filling and I can sit here and write afterwards without a problem. I even managed to release 3.8 lbs this week and I know it’s because of a concentrated effort to adjust my habits and a willingness to adjust my attitude. There were (and sometimes are) times where I wouldn’t consider the fruit smoothie and melon as a worthy snack after exercise. My greedy eyes would be searching for a “real meal.”

I know this mentality is something that is learned and ingrained after a period of time. I believe making wellness a priority will change my eyes with many things. I am looking forward to it, especially as I get more busy with my writing.

Your turn:

Have you made any changes lately that has impacted your wellness? If not, what do you plan to do?

Commit

Commit

This past weekend I went to a wedding. Outside of the beauty of watching them become husband and wife, it had me thinking about commitment. What happens when you go from flirting with it to have it living on the insides, this willingness to attach, gambling with your heart, betting you will gain more than you could ever lose?

Writing feels that way to me. When I left a career a few years back, I was betting that I would not only brush past my fears, but that I would take them by the lapel, throw them to the ground and proceed to kick them into submission. It needed to be that serious for me. I saw how easy it could be. I could have spent the next 23 years at a job that admittedly had more lows than highs but I could have scraped by. I could always look forward to being in my mid-50’s and starting over again from there.

But I didn’t want to wait until I was worn down by years of stress and lack of fulfillment. The need to commit to finding out if I had what it took to do this far outweighed staying in misery, even if there was a level of comfort in that misery. I realize I am blessed to put in the work, even if half the time I am scared I am doing this only half-right or not at all. Even when it feels like no one is reading.

I will (and have) made my fair share of mistakes but I don’t have to live with wondering what could’ve happened if I never took a chance on myself.

If I never decided to commit.

Your turn: What have you recently committed to? How has it changed you?

Meatless Mondays: Easy Vegan Taco Bake

Meatless  Mondays: Easy Vegan Taco Bake

In our effort to do more gluten-free vegan dishes, I chose a vegan taco bake dish from buildyourbite.com. It was a relatively easy recipe that also did not use oil which I am also trying to get away from cooking with so often. Outside of the flavor of the dish, squeezing half a lime over it provided just the right amount of acid. I am so glad the recipe called for it. I would definitely bring this to our next vegan potluck. We also ate some broccoli to make sure we got our greens in tonight. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 large bag of tortilla chips (13 oz)
  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika (see notes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 of a lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups of salsa
  • sliced lime, for serving

IMG_20180430_201605 (1).jpg

Directions

  1. In a bowl, add drained black beans, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, and the juice of ½ of a lime
  2. Stir ingredients until well combined
  3. Get out a 9 X 13 casserole dish and lay down an even layer of tortilla chips
  4. Spoon evenly half of the bean mixture over the tortilla chips
  5. Cover with ¼ cup of nutritional yeast
  6. Add 1 cup of salsa, spreading out evenly
  7. Repeat steps of chips, beans, nutritional yeast, and salsa
  8. Top with remaining tortilla chips, crushed into small pieces
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until browned
  10. Serve hot with fresh lime juice squeezed on top
  11. Be sure to reheat any leftovers in the oven for best results

This was such a life-saver tonight as allergies are currently sapping my energy. I am going to have to look into more recipes from buildyourbite.com.

Steps

Steps

Outside of the morning routine habit changes I’ve made, I can finally say that working out has become a new real change for me. Even though I have generally rejected resistance training in the past unless with a trainer, Hubby has gotten me to embrace it, 2-3 times a week.  In the past at one time or another, I have been a running, walking, belly dancing, Zumba and Afro-Caribbean dancing, Bikram yoga attending, water aerobics taking, treadmill/elliptical machine addicted exercise person. I am still some of those things depending on which day or month you are talking to me. As more weight comes off (.6 lbs this week even in the midst of water retention!), I am anticipating what I will open myself up to next or be more willing to go back to again.

As I my weight crept up before starting my wellness journey again, it was becoming easier to retreat from high intensity activity and that can manifest as isolation. At least it did for me. Choosing to consciously take better care of myself taught me how to see when I was going down that road. Choosing to be alone is great when it’s truly a choice rather than avoidance. I have always enjoyed my life but it takes more effort and clarity to see how much I enjoy it in the company of people outside of my home and in new environments. It can be hard at first but 9 times out of 10, it’s worth it.

Every step I take towards wellness, towards the power of being complete and whole, is worth it.

 

Love Fest

Love Fest

This past Sunday I went to Love Fest in Hampton. It was a 4-hour festival of dance, specifically Mixxed Fit and Zumba. There were scores of teams performing and teaching routines from the stage and plenty of vendors. It was benefiting The Lupus Foundation and The Natasha House which I personally loved.  I had a wonderful time with my friends and danced so hard I was sore for a couple of days.

I have always loved dance and prefer it over many other types of exercise. When I go to the Afro-Caribbean dance class, I generally go alone (and enjoy it) but it was refreshing to go with a group of women and be among a crowd of people with such an electric energy.

It was an important reminder during this wellness journey to get out of my comfort zone and do more fitness activities that challenge me. I could have easily assumed the event was primarily for teachers and decided it wasn’t for me.

But how do I know if something is for me if I don’t bother to try.

MVIMG_20180415_141114.jpg
Smiling at Love Fest

I had an amazing time and will try another Zumba or Mixxed Fit class soon. When I weighed in today (I lost .8lbs), I actually thought about everything I did this week and was proud that part of this loss came from sweating at live dance fest in a city I do not call my home.