A Gentle Reminder

A Gentle Reminder

As I was leaving the gym last night, I passed by a sign I assume that’s been for quite some time but I was just seeing for the first time: “Eat Food, Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” Even though I subscribe to “Eat Food, Not too Much. All Plants”, it was a great reminder especially the “Not too Much” part. I had a one pound loss this week and although I am always happy to be going in the right direction, I know I have to be more aware of eating too much. I have big health goals for 2018 but I need to focus on balanced eating AND balanced thinking. There is an extreme part of my personality that is attracted to those plans that promise 30lbs in 30 days but there is nothing balanced about those plans. That is also “too much.” So while I will pause now and again at the lovely reminder at the gym, it will also remain a gentle reminder to aspire to achieve a balanced mindset, too.

Your turn:

Any reminders lately that got you back on the right track?

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?

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

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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.

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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.

Meatless Monday: Vegan Pesto Pasta with a Honeydew Lime Smoothie

Meatless Monday: Vegan Pesto Pasta with a Honeydew Lime Smoothie

Tonight, I decided to do things a little differently. Hubby and I are big smoothie lovers and I realized I’ve never featured any on my Meatless Monday posts. I decided to make pesto for the first time, too. I definitely had become a little too dependent on tomato and vegan Alfredo sauces so it was time to change things up. I got the recipe from greenevi.com and the Honeydew and Lime Smoothie was inspired by a YouTube video from Health with Kisha. I don’t remember her exact recipe but I remembered Honeydew melon and limes and I figured I could adjust according to my own taste.

We used a container of honeydew that was 1.17 lbs, the juice of 3 limes and blended it with ice.

Here’s Hubby hard at work juicing the limes for me:

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We used organic red lentil penne pasta for our vegan pesto pasta. We love the Explore Cuisine brand for red lentil and black bean spaghetti.

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Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS
  • Pasta of your choice
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup of pine nuts
  • 1 cup of fresh basil (tightly packed)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 1-3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt, pepper
  • ½ lemon (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Prepare your pasta according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile roast pine nuts in a skillet until lightly toasted.
  3. Add basil, garlic, toasted pine nuts, nutritional yeast, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a food processor and blend until smooth. Mix pesto into pasta and add cherry tomatoes. Enjoy!
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Pine nuts toasting
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All the ingredients. I blended them instead of putting them in the food processor but the pesto still came out great!

Hubby has already said he wants to me cook everything again next week. I fell in love, too. The honeydew and lime smoothie was incredibly refreshing. I can see making that regularly especially when summer hits.

Let me know in the comments if there are any new plant-based recipes you have tried or want to try.

 

 

Progress

Progress

In these last few months, I’ve learned how much I need accountability. Not just with my writing. I’ve always known a lack of discipline was a problem for me that bled into a couple areas of my life. I found last year if I took writing class or attended writing groups, I was more likely to–that’s right you guessed it–write!

I wrote last week about accepting the number no matter what it is especially for the purpose of accountability. I am still learning the lesson. This week I lost 2.8 lbs and I noticed I worked out much more frequently and strenuously the last couple of days before I weighed in. I realized I have a fear of not seeing a loss. I think that’s natural but the intensity associated with it leaned towards obsessive. I didn’t know there would be so many things to confront regarding acceptance but there it is.

So that leaves me here, trying to have some perspective on this journey–the length, the ups and downs and the acknowledgement that it took some time to get here so it will take time to get where I want to be and even feel comfortable when I get there.

This week I took my first set of progress pictures. It helped me to appreciate where I’ve been and to get a little more excited about where I’m going.

Here they are:

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Before on the Left and After on the right

So that’s Thursday’s wellness update!

Your turn:

Have you made any strides in your health lately? If so, please comment. I would love to read about your journey!