Here’s Why You Should Keep Quinoa in Your Kitchen

Do you remember, Bubba from the movie Forrest Gump? Shrimp was everything to him. “You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. Dey’s uh shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir fried (shrimp). For Yáll shrimp lovers, you may get some ideas from Bubba. As for me…

I am that vegan chick.

Bubba loves shrimp.

Tanya loves quinoa!

In less than 15 minutes, I cooked two cups of quinoa. I kept it simple by only using vegetable broth (16 oz.), olive oil (1 Tbs), garlic powder (1 tsp), black pepper (1 tsp), and granulated ginger (1 tsp).

These days, quinoa is the God of grains for me. The mild flavor of quinoa makes it a solid foundation for countless dishes. Quinoa fried rice, garlic mushroom quinoa, quinoa avocado spinach, Mexican quinoa, quinoa salad, Mediterranean quinoa salad, grilled chicken (not for me) and quinoa burrito bowls, quinoa cakes, vegetarian quinoa chili, banana quinoa muffins, and more!


I love quinoa’s texture!


This dish may not look like much, but let me tell you, this meal is popping! My bowl is an example of why I begin the week with a large pot of quinoa. Using quinoa as a base, I can still create a variety of meals.  The variety prevents boredom. Boredom is your enemy because, with any attempt to change, boredom will take you off course. Keep it fresh!

Yesterday I cooked two pounds of split peas. Today I topped the grains with the split peas. I also like to add roasted veggies like the ones below over it.  Your options are endless, and for vegans, it is an excellent source of protein. One-quarter cup of quinoa has six grams of protein, which is equivalent to a medium-sized chicken breast. Who said you can’t get protein from a plant?  They don’t know.

My favorite Vegan go-to in Jersey is a place called Greens & Grains (GG).  GG needs to come to Georgia ASAP.  If not, I need to open my own restaurant.   I recreated my version of one my treasured menu items from the restaurant. Quinoa and kale.  Their plate also includes broccoli and hemp parm, but I’m still working on finding the hemp parm.  I did find a recipe that I’m going to try. Although this wasn’t GG’s dish, it was similar and delicious and yet another example of pairing the grain with other foods. IMG_8074

Four months have passed since I started my Vegan journey and I haven’t looked back on my omnivore lifestyle.  I’m not conflicted about becoming a vegan and embarked on this journey purely from intrinsic motivation and I laugh often at others knee-jerk reaction to veganism.

There’s this idea of eudaimonia–being true to one’s inner self.  You identify your values. You cultivate them. And you live in accordance with your virtues. When you make the choice to live this way, you are practicing wellness.

Alike veganism and wellness are not a destination.  The two are a pilgrimage, where you challenge your attitudes, values, and beliefs. And if you are honest with yourself, you notice the need to make changes in your life such as the type of foods you put into your body, your environment–the people, the places, your job, and the energy around you, and finally your mind–the activities you engage in–what you read, your choice of tv shows, and your conversation with others. The journey is cyclical and worthwhile but you will experience change and growth.

Pleasure usually comes when called, but not happiness.
                                                                                     -Mason Cooley

Whatever your journey, stay inspirited.  Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you.  Know that you will experience setbacks but that this par for the course, so get back up and keep it movin’.

Thanks for stopping by.  Smooches!





In The Name of Wellness: Why Your Words Matter

The concept of total wellness recognizes that our every thought, word and behavior affects our greater health and well-being.  And we, in turn are affected not only emotionally but also physically and spiritually.  -Greg Anderson

While ironing a shirt for work (do people still iron?) you mentally drift. The tip of the iron touches your left hand. Ouch! It burned your skin. There is strong possibility that the burn will leave a permanent mark. Years later, you can recount the story of your injury.

Words leave scars too. >>>>>>>>

While visiting my bestie in Texas, I bought an authentic pair of cowboy boots. I wore them for the first time today. As I slid them on, I was reminded why I purchased them–good quality leather, comfort, and stylish. Looking in the mirror, I thought, Damn girl, you’ve got big feet. ‘Dem boots look big as hell!


Sipping on a green smoothie and reflecting on the boots.

Mentally, I traveled back to my awkward and gawky pre-teen years when my lanky arms and boney legs were disproportioned. My family would remind me daily that I had BIG feet. Mom would make me wear specific shoes that were orthopedically sound but ugly as hell.

Double time to today. My mom’s words have clung to the inner parts of my psyche, resurfacing without solicitation at the opportune time and trying to steal my joy.

Yup, the red boots look super-sized! I could have got them in black. Black looks smaller. Women with big feet probably shouldn’t wear bright colors…right? The truth is, does anyone really give a damn? Even if they do care, what does it matter?  My personality is vibrant, and so are my color choices in clothes, sometimes shoes, and everything else. I bought the red because they are me and I loved them. I adore them just as much today.

When I wear the boots today, someone might glance at my feet and think, damn, she’s got some big ass feet!! And if they do believe that, what changes? Nothing! The world continues to evolve. I look the same….fabulous! I feel the same…marvelous! Worse case scenario, someone thinks I have big feet, and it’s true. Hehe!

The truth; the reality is that someone will always have an opinion about you.  You do not have power over the thoughts of others.

You do, however; have the POWER to govern your own thoughts and it is YOUR thoughts that matter most.  Incessant chatter is the term Michael A. Singer uses in, the untethered soul. You have the choice to become crippled by your thoughts, but you also have the option to acknowledge the notions and to move on.   Once you are paralyzed, you start to miss out on the abundance of pleasures life has to offer you.

If I had listened to the inimical chatter in my head this morning, I wouldn’t have worn my boots.  I would have missed out on the joy of high stepping with my eclectic Jersey swag through the streets of Gwinnett County. Although I wasn’t dressed up, I felt special wearing my Ariat cowboy boots.

I don’t know if anyone took note of my boots, but if they did, it might have been because it seems stilettos are more popular than cowboy boots in Georgia or merely because they thought my footwear was cool.

Anyways, I have to points here. First, to remind you that words matter. When speaking to children, know that everything you say is heard by them. Repeated messages hang around and take up mental space and can influence the child’s behavior well into adulthood.

And second, to encourage you to try something that you’ve wanted to but are afraid to do. It can be something small like wearing a brighter color nail polish, applying for the next promotion at work, taking a dance class, getting your first tattoo, or something else.  Just do it!



I couldn’t resist jumping around in my boots. 🙂

Wellness is more than exercising and eating well.  If you search wellness, you will find many definitions.  My favorite definition of wellness is:

…the experience of living life with  high levels of awareness, conscious choice, self-acceptance, interconnectedness, love, meaning, and purpose… living consciously in ways that improve your health and well-being.    – Michael Arloski

Make each day count!


Mind Your Sugar This Holiday; You’ll Be Glad You Did

December is the time of year when we splurge on delightful deserts a little more than usual. We attend office parties, end-of-year celebrations, family dinners, and banquets. These celebratory events besiege us with sugar-coated treats that have you feeling like a kid in a candy store. But you know what? If the holiday sugar feast isn’t your norm, then it is okay to indulge a little.

This post is not about encouraging you to avoid your holiday favorites. I only want to inspire you to remain mindful while you enjoy the holiday season. How do you live mindfully?

Stay Present.

To remain present means to observe everything that is happening to you. If you are present, you are in the moment; not thinking about tomorrow, what someone else thinks, or grappling about an incident that occurred yesterday. Being mindful means to:

  • Actively listen to the sounds around you. When listening to music, try to pick up on the background instruments.
  • Observe (but don’t judge) the colors, shapes, sizes in detail that is around you.
  • When eating, concentrate on the color, flavor, texture, smell, taste, and temperature of the food.
    • When eating, take smaller bites and avoid multi-tasking (watching TV, reading, surfing the net, etc…). The aftereffect of mindless eating is overindulging.
  • When communicating with others, focus on their words not what your response is going to be.
  • When driving, observe the cars and the roadway.  When was the last time you were driving down a road and the next thing you know, you arrived at your destination and don’t remember passing familiar streets and landmarks?  A wandering mind is reasonable; however, the trick is to catch the thoughts but then reject it and return to your focus.

We are hosting Christmas dinner, so as I began to think about the menu and desserts, I realized that the one common bothersome ingredient comprised of most holiday main course meals, desserts and beverages is sugar.

Sugar is an addiction. The more we eat sugar, the more we crave it. So, as you approach the dessert table, be mindful… How many trips have you made? Are you eating because you’re hungry or are inattentively shoving food in your mouth? Just something for you to think about.


Image courtesy of Me_living (Instagram)

Eggnog Martini, White Christmas Martini, Santa Clausmopolitan, Jack Frost Cocktail-– Look them up on Pinterest; there are many!   Do I indulge? Absolutely!!  But the solution is to sip consciously.  Drink a glass of water between drinks. Go ahead, enjoy one sweet cocktail but if you decide to take a second drink, order it without the sugar on the rim, or just have your favorite spirit on the rocks.


Image: CDC (Center for Disease Control)


Even if you don’t consume alcohol, still think about the non-alcoholic eggnog, the punches, sodas, and juices.  When the news reported this week that the current U.S. President drinks 12 cans of diet coke each week, I cringed.  The label on diet coke shows zero “0” sugar, but it does contain aspartame. Too much of anything, especially, a GMO ingredient, is not good for the body.

Sixteen days remain in 2017, and I am still going Vegan strong!  My holiday festivities will undoubtedly include cocktails (mainly cabernet) but will exclude meat and dairy products.  I made it through Thanksgiving, so Christmas and New Year’s should be a breeze.

Happy Holidays!

Gaining Clarity In A Vegan Life

You could easily argue that I picked the worse time of year to partake in a Vegan Challenge.  Strangely I never considered the approaching holidays.  I had already been thinking about eliminating meat and seafood from my diet.  The dairy thing was a last minute bonus.

I am an athlete.  Athletes are competitive spirits.  We like to win. Success is our addiction. The natural progression was to make the choice to take the personal challenge myself.  I went back to read more about plant-based living, and dove in.


In three days, December 14, 2017, I will celebrate two months of a plant-based diet!! Yay!!  It has not been a struggle. Since the challenge, (and one slip up in early November), I have dined out at several wonderful restaurants. Hubby and our dinner dates devoured meat but I was cool and passed on it.

Lately, my hands roam the spice rack with a strong desire to add a punch to ordinary food. My latest infatuation is turmeric in my veggies! Below is a delightful dish of turmeric cauliflower. Eat them as a snack while watching a movie or a good game of football (as I did when the Eagles won) or add them to your dinner plate.


My infatuation with turmeric leads me to a new discovery… I bought two heads of cabbage and, in a pan,  layered most of the cabbage with sweet onions and other seasons. All of the cabbage did not fit in the pan. Creativity kicked in and, before I knew it, my hand was on the turmeric. I hesitated. Maybe curry. No. Turmeric. I ran out of onions. But added one jalapeño pepper, freshly minced garlic, season salt, and olive oil….covered and cooked on low.

Dang or Yay!! I’m laughing out loud because I added too much turmeric and needed a starch to absorb some of the spice. What’s a cook to do? I added some leftover brown rice to the pot, a little more garlic powder, (God forbid it’s bland), and stirred well. The pan was drying out so I poured a little (about a half cup) of low sodium vegetable broth.


The dish looked pretty but lacked protein. Garbanzo beans would make a perfect addition but I was out of them. I did have one can of organic black beans. So I rinsed them well and added them to the rice and cabbage.


This was delicious!!!


img_6484While rummaging through the fridge, I found two large sweet potatoes. Since the oven was on, I quickly peeled them, cut the potatoes into large chunks, melted coconut oil, sprinkled a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, and stirred them well. I placed them in the glass dish and baked uncovered at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes.

Folks!! Chile!! Peeps! The coconut oil enhanced the flavor of the sweet potatoes and they were unbelievable!!! Even hubby liked them. 🙂

Last night’s dinner was a hodgepodge of freshly cooked and leftovers, which brings me to an important point. If you’re going to attempt a plant-based diet or any new diet plan, you must have extra food on hand. And when I say extra I mean the type of food that’s in your new plan.  If you don’t have food prepared, at some point, you’re going to get jammed up and will end up with a setback. Even if you have a setback, they are normal… Don’t look back–look forward!!

Above is my post-leg workout meal from yesterday morning. Steel oats, coconut almond milk, blueberries, and plant-based protein. A side of zucchini bread and homemade cooked apples.   I finally decided on a plant-based protein.  It’s much lighter than the whey protein. The vanilla flavor is milder than what I previously used.  The biggest difference is I’m used to buying a 5 lb. tub for $47.  This one was $37 and is just over a pound and half.  Yikes!


Overall I continue to feel well. As a result of the Vegan diet, I have not noticed a change in my performance at the gym and wasn’t expecting a change, but only time will tell.  As far as my physique is concerned, in the past week, I have lost inches not pounds.  I am paying close attention to muscle development.  Why?  I want to participate in another figure competition.  It has been a few years and although I am older, my body remains conditioned–I am confident that I can do well in another competition.

I know that I am not getting enough calories but that has nothing to do with a vegan diet.  Moving to a new state and not working outside of the home has me feeling discombobulated. I am used to a busy and jammed-packed schedule. But now, I don’t have that.  The free and unstructured time is negating meal-prep and my routine of eating every three hours. Perhaps I needed the six-month downtime because it has been one hell of a year.  Selling one home, buying a new home, moving south with hubby, our son, and my mom.

As a result of my vegan diet, in a previous post, I wrote about having more clarity.  I realize that for the first time in my life, I can do anything I want–I mean, I don’t have all the restrictions of a 9-5, my son’s football scheduled, or hubby’s work schedule.  I’ve also figured out that to accomplish my personal and professional goals, I must add structure and discipline to my new lifestyle.

Now I can easily do some of the things I have always wanted to do– I wouldn’t be honest with you if I didn’t tell you that chartering unfamiliar territory (again) is still scary.  But so was walking on a stage in 5-inch stilettos, wearing an itty bitty suit and years ago, quitting a job without another one and vacationing in Disney, but I did it well and landed on my feet.

I am living as I encourage you and everyone around me, and this is to live mindfully.  It may sound like a fad or a cliche but I assure you it is not and takes focus and practice.  Doing so will heighten your hedonic capacity–your ability to experience positive feelings.  In less than one month, people will be absorbed by the hype of celebrating the New Year.  My New Year already started, I couldn’t wait until January 1, 2018.

We are hosting Christmas dinner at our home but are expecting fewer than the 31 family members who filled our home for Thanksgiving but we’ll still have a house full. 🙂  Meanwhile, I am scouting out both vegan recipes and dishes for the carnivores (without judgment).

Making it through Thanksgiving was relatively simple; I don’t foresee a challenge during the remaining weeks of the year. While I’ve given up meat, seafood, and dairy, I continue to indulge in my favorites… 337 , Darkhorse and a few others.

Until my next post…  Smooches!