Surprises in Mindful Meals

“Fill yourself with passion and purpose
that enable you to offer your best to the world.”
-Oprah Winfrey

Collectedness.

Determined.

Peaceful.

Purposeful

My feelings.

I am in week four, day two of my Vegan challenge.  Although this blog is dedicated to more than my transition to a vegan lifestyle, I am sharing this journey with you because it is essential and my experience may help you.

My journey may be different from yours, but most of us are on some kind of quest.  The common theme is a lifestyle change.

Quit smoking. Stop drinking.  Start exercising.  Stop cursing. Be more positive. Eat better. Spend more time with your children.  Become more timely.  Or something else.

We often identify a behavior that we want to change.  The practice is often a mindless habit like brushing our teeth, driving our kids to school, or getting dressed in the morning. Our awareness becomes dull, and we mindlessly perform tasks. Converting to a plant-based diet requires a shift in consciousness, which is not automatic.

Giving up chicken, turkey, seafood, and dairy products require mindfulness.  Each week that has passed represent my success.  Every new week serves as an opportunity to improve.  I expect hiccups and when (not if) they happen, I won’t beat myself up.

I intend to share my successes, my failures, and my thoughts with you. I want to inspire you to do what you’ve wanted to do but lack the confidence or discipline to execute.

In the wellness profession, numerous models for change exist. To effectively implement change in your life, you’ll need more than a desire.  A plan with concrete steps will put you on the path to a lifestyle of improvement.  To help you with you the change you desire, stay tuned for a Guide to Life Improvement.

Keeping with the weekly theme of introducing new food each week, this week, I tried unfamiliar foods but also cooked and combined some of my favorite veggies that I have never paired before.

  • Red Quinoa – It has a nuttier flavor than the regular quinoa. I cooked 1 Cup in  2 Cups of organic vegetable broth, and 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.

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  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Acorn Squash.  The Acorn Squash is a first for me. I found a Youtube video to instruct me on the best way to cut the squash.  I don’t always measure so I’m estimating ; 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil, granulated garlic powder, 2 Tablespoons of Ponzu Sauce (Citrus Seasoned Soy Sauce), & some new (to me) Japanese spice I found, Shichimi Togarashi (Chilies, Sesame Seeds, Orange Peel, Salt, Garlic, Pepper, Seaweed, Ginger).  I combined all the ingredients in a bowl, stirred it well and placed the veggies on a cookie sheet. I baked them at 350 degrees for about 45 min or so.  The outcome?   Amazing!!

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  • Dinner!

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  • Lentils (plant-based protein) and Sauteed Kale – Nothing new here. Merely a combination of two of my favorites.  I cook the lentils in the crockpot.  Super easy.  Chop 1 Jalapeno pepper, 1 medium sweet onion and toss them in the crockpot.  Add lentils or beans of choice (black-eyed peas, black beans, etc..), season with a generous amount of garlic powder and ground ginger.  Add 1 1/2 carton (48 oz) of vegetable broth (prefer low sodium) or 32 oz of vegetable broth and 16 oz. of water.  Cover and cook on low (6 hours) or high (4 hours).  Serve plain, over brown or black rice, spaghetti squash, whole wheat pasta, or something else.

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  • Cauliflower & Carrots – I seasoned the carrots with Kerrigold butter (natural, grass-fed, hormone-free cows’ milk on cooperative dairy farms). Yup! As I melted the butter, I realized it is dairy, so eventually, I need to find a replacement.  Anyways, I seasoned the carrots with the Ponzu sauce, granulated garlic powder, and a little raw honey in a bowl, then placed them on a baking sheet.
  • I seasoned the Cauli with olive oil, garlic, a dash of salt, and the Japanese spice in a bowl, stirred them well and placed them on a separate cookie sheet.
  • I baked both at 350. I think they cooked for about an hour.  They still at a crunch.
  • For a blend of contrasting flavors, I combined the two.  Yummy!

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I remembered… when in doubt, substitute a vegetable for meat.  So here’s Monday’s dinner. It was delicious, but I have to watch my portions!  It’s time to get the scale out. Today we worked legs at the gym. The combination of kale, quinoa, cauliflower, and black-eyed peas gives me about 17 grams of protein. Not bad for a newbie needing protein.

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Finally, I made time to cook Kale Chips.  Crunchy baked chips are fantastic!  Olive oil, a dash of sea salt, and a sprinkle of ground cayenne pepper.  Lord!  These were my dessert!

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For more kale chips later in the week, I have extra kale already cleaned and cut. Heey!!

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One final note.  Earlier this week, I was tested at Longhorn.  My son and I always share the calamari appetizer.  He ordered, and I did not taste even one.  Yay!!!   Before we got to the restaurant, I mentally prepared and wasn’t in the least bit bothered.  I ordered my favorite strawberry salad without the chicken and the raspberry vinegarette on the side with an order of fries.

Passing on the calamari wasn’t a struggle.  I’m surprised and very pleased.  Who knows what this week will bring but I’m ready.  In one week, I will have gone an entire month for the first time ever without meat and dairy (except for the butter in my carrots, last weeks, dairy coffee creamer, and two weeks ago’s one piece of calamari).  I’m flipping thrilled because it has NOT been a struggle.

I feel fantastic and look forward to discovering more about myself on my vegan challenge.

Until next time!  Smooches!


Pay attention to the things you are naturally drawn to.
They are often drawn to your path, passion, and purpose in life.  Have the courage to follow them.
-Ruben Chavez

I am at conflict.  Like really feeling some kinda way.

Only two weeks into my journey, I promised myself that I would not to turn into a wacky extremest.  Hmm…  I am the only person in my household on this vegan trip.

No one is interested in a plant-based diet, so I have to cook two different meals, which isn’t new for me.  Right before I started training for my first figure competition, I began to eat clean (avoiding processed foods), so I cooked “clean” meals for me and regular meals for my family.

If you are not vegan, please; keep reading!  I am not trying to gross you out or offend you. I am sharing my private thoughts…that’s all.  You might have initiated some kind of change in your life and are facing a struggle with its execution.

To shift our behavior to more positive behavior requires some level of self-awareness and self-regulation (factors of emotional intelligence). Efficiently being aware of and managing our emotions can guide our thinking and our actions through the muddle and eventually achieve our goals. That’s what this post is about… me sharing my private thoughts with you and while sorting through conflicting emotions.  If this post helps one person, then it is worth my time and effort.

This blog is devoted to sharing insight on how to improve Health & Wellness (HW).  The food and beverage we consume impacts our physical, mental and overall well-being.

Chicken drumsticks

Ugh!

Anyways, while seasoning a pan of drumsticks for my peeps, all I could see where thousands of ill-health chickens squashed together in coop.

Then there’s the realization of the sheer volume of antibiotics and other chemicals that were injected… the thoughts produced feelings of guilt.  Yes. Guilt!

Why guilt?  Because I do the grocery shopping and cooking for my family.  If I prepare plant-based meals, they will be annoyed with me.

My 15-year-old son ain’t trying to eat plant-based…period.  Hubby and mom.  They enjoy meat too.

Knowing more about the effects of meat on the body, makes me feel bad.  I feel like I’m feeding them chemicals and contributing to future health problems.  I have to figure how out how to manage my unsettling emotions without passing judgment for their dietary choices. After all, other vegan family members have never judged me for sucking chicken off a bone or for eating a half dozen shrimp saturated in butter.  I’m merely trying to keep things in perspective.

Read More

Private Thoughts Of A Transitioning Vegan


Believe In Fresh Starts And New Beginnings

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

– George Bernard Shaw

Only two days after arriving in Georgia, I was giddy with excitement. We found ourselves walking around in amazement at Avalon in Alpharetta. Honey child!! I was flippin’ happier than a pig in… Well, you know the saying.

Avalon is a “luxury” residential community built in the heart of an eclectic outdoor shopping plaza. Resting atop Gap and other stores are brick and modern stucco condos with wrought iron enclosed balconies. At a different stage in my life, I could see myself living here.

Public shopping areas are litter free and have the ambiance of urban living but without the hassles of city life.

Plenty of diverse eateries offer indoor and outdoor dining and are conveniently located throughout the shopping center. I feel like an advertisement for the plaza, but I’m trying to give you a sense of what the place feels like.

Anyways, the need for a change of address stationery motivated me to visit Paper Source. PS, a small, cute, and fun store specializes in stationery but also sells cards, wedding invitations, inspirational books, customized items, DIY supplies, and more.

Habitually I am attracted to books, mainly positive, self-help, and inspirational reads. I’m always working on myself, so if someone has gems to share, I want in!

So here’s the interesting piece and the purpose for this post. A force leads me to the store. Then my eyes lock in on the book, believe.

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I have to tell you, with a title like believe, there’s no way in hell that I’m not going to snatch the book up and take a peek.

Although I did not look at the first page, I quickly scan and immediately recognize that the book was placed right there for me.

I realized that at that very moment, I stood exactly where I was supposed to be. I am 100% satisfied.  How did I know?

Whelp. Read the first page that I turned to?

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See! I told you!!

As I said to you in an earlier post, we have to LISTEN very carefully to the voice of the spirit. Messages from the universe and (God) is always timely.

Over the past year, I made a myriad of changes in my life and, in the newness of my current situation, God wanted me to know that I am on track, rest easy, and to continue to move forward.

Becoming more transparent in my writing is a goal, so to keep it 100% with you, I’m telling you straight up that I rarely attend Sunday services. However, I believe in the spirit of God and a higher universal power.

If you feel stuck in adversity, consider the fact that, you are reading this post at this precise moment, and this is no accident.  Today you were intentionally guided to reading this post.

Believe in fresh starts and new beginnings and understand that only you can launch the change in your personal and/or professional life that you desire. The day I started this post, my cousin’s facebook status read,

“If you want your life changed, you have to change your lifestyle.” CS

You initiate the change by working only on YOU not by working those around you. My advice is the following:

  • Find a quiet place where you can sit alone, even if it is only for 10-15 minutes. Do this every day. Your designated quiet time can be in the morning, afternoon, or bedtime. What is important is that the time works for you.
  • Withdrawing from all of the external noises frequently will provide an opportunity for you to clear your mind.


Image courtesy of Project Happiness

  • Familiarize yourself with meditation. Meditation requires no major tools or supplies. Some find that certain items such as a blanket, a block, a pillow, candles, or incense are helpful.  Nora Anderson describes meditation as a process as a “concept to stop the mental dialogue so that you can be without thought.”
    • Why meditation? Meditation can relieve stress, calm the mind, reduce anxiety, burnout, improve productivity, and more. Be open-minded and try it. Like everything, it takes practice. At first, your mind will wander all over.  Thoughts of the day’s task will come to mind, and you will have thoughts about your pets, your kids, work, dinner or something else. Just know that all of your random thoughts are normal.
    • There are also many guided meditations apps to assist you.
      • My two favorites are:
    • I have been using the Relax & Rest app for a while. It may cost $1.99 or something similar. The Calm app is new to me, but I love the variety of audio and visuals.
      • I like the apps because once downloaded on your Smartphone, you can discreetly use them anywhere at anytime. Keep a set of earbuds handy.
      • Stressed before a meeting… Got your feathers ruffled at work or you’re stuck in a traffic jam…. tap on the app and do a quick 10-minute session. It is an ideal way to gain clarity and to refocus your thoughts.   No matter who you are, everyone experiences moments of frustration, disgruntlement or irritability but the trick is to have a plan/routine/system to get you back on track.
  • Once you begin to create a space of solitude for yourself, you will start to gain clarity and can focus on setting new goals. To monitor your thoughts, keep a small journal or notebook nearby.   You will have many, and you’ll want to capture them all on paper. Of course, you can always use an app to organize your thoughts. I recently starting using Trello and I love it. If you are confused about the app, go to YouTube, and you will find all the help you need. I use Trello for personal and professional purposes.

Okay! I have gotten a little off track but felt like I needed to give you that information. I hope that it helps you to grow and to continue to work toward becoming the absolute best version of yourself.

Thanks for passing through!

Peace!

 


Singing… “It’s Our Anniversary!”

Books of all genres are published yearly and in various sizes.  Some books are small with a few chapters while other novels are written with over 700 pages. Novels can be captivating, heartfelt, insightful, emotional, adventurous, and enchanting; the list is endless. I can use many of the same words to describe the many chapters of our 34 year relationship.

anniver1Today we celebrate 29 years of being best friends, husband, and wife.  I don’t take the years lightly because when marrying at a young age, the odds for a happy and long-lasting marriage are stacked against you. I purposely use the word “happy” because a lot of couples are married and even for long periods of time, but they are unhappy.  Think about it.  How many times have you heard of marriages of 20 years long, ending in divorce?

Two years ago, I wrote Happily Hitched For 27 Years.  I listed 27 lessons that I learned from our marriage.  Last year, I added to the list and blogged Happy 28th Anniversary Us.   Yet I continue to learn new lessons. If you are in a relationship, married or have intentions of marrying, you should read my posts and share my lessons with your family and friends. I wish somebody had a told me these things beforehand.  Sure, we all make mistakes but some lessons can be learned from the mistakes of others.

As we celebrate our 29th anniversary, we are humbled and grateful that we are merely here to celebrate as one.

This time last year, I could have never predicted where we are today. 🙂

This month, we begin a new and exciting chapter of our life.  Hubby retired and I am on his heels– less than two weeks but who’s counting?  Lol! We put our beautiful home, our friends called “The Resort,” up for sale and it sold within 24 hours. Yikes!!A later post will provide more details.

My point now is to say that the strength of any relationship comes from having faith in one another and commitment to the values established the relationship.  Mutually Inclusive in the values are trust and honesty; which are the makings of any good relationship.

I’m told how “lucky” I am because I have a “good man.”  Well, he’s lucky too, because he has a “good woman.”  ☺

“The most important decision about your goals is not what you’re willing to do to achieve them, but what you are willing to give up.” -Dave Ramsey

Outsiders only see the fruits of the labor in the garden.  They never witnessed the sowing of the soil or the grueling work of kneeling in dirt pulling weeds for extended periods of time in the blazing heat.

In our case, some folk only see the homes, the cars, the vacations, and other stuff that really doesn’t matter. We are rich in health, love, family and loyal friends, but not one of those have anything to do with money.  We work like everyone else.

For 11 years and while working a full-time job,  I worked on my undergraduate degree. Hubby was supportive, encouraging, and picked up the slack at home.  Back then, vacations weren’t in our vocabulary. Someone once told me that I was “crazy for stressing myself out trying to get my degree.”   But… this same person didn’t hesitate to enjoy a margarita in the jacuzzi.  Smh…   They are no longer in my life.

Much earlier in our relationship, when hubby did not rank high enough on the fire department’s civil service list and wasn’t hired, he was crushed.  I stood behind him and pushed him to train and to study harder.  He may have doubted himself but I believed in his childhood dream of a career as a firefighter.  We wanted our own place but realized that we couldn’t afford it, so I lived at home and he lived with his sister.

When we decided to buy our first home (early 90’s), we needed to save a lot of money. We both worked full-time jobs and part-time jobs.  We never ate out.  We stopped buying snacks at Wawa (convenient stores in Jersey).  We only bought necessities. I remember wearing a nice pair of black pumps to work. The bottom sole was worn and there was a small hole in the bottom of the shoe.

I put cardboard inside my shoe so my foot wouldn’t be exposed to the ground.

Our jobs weren’t high paying but we sacrificed and worked our asses off.  In one year’s time, we exceed our goal of saving $7,000 and saved just over $10,000!

These are only a few of many examples of the sacrifices we’ve made and examples of how hard we worked for our family.

I didn’t sit back and expect him to do for me and he didn’t sit back and wait for me do everything.

Let me tell you, the grass always looks greener on the other side but you don’t know what folks are doing to keep that green and plush grass.  So as one of my favorite podcasters says, Keep your eyes on your own paper!”

We’ve both dealt with colleagues and/or so-called friends trying to entice us to cheat and that becomes messy.  Some couples rebound from infidelity while others do not.  It’s just not worth the agony that comes with it.

Marriage is a full time job.  Add kids to the mix and the job is even harder but we made it thus far!  🙂

We’re busy as hell right now but will reap the benefits of our labor later this month and as the year progresses.

Today we’ll celebrate by going out to dinner to one of our favorite restaurants, reflect on the past 29 years and pray for 29 more happy and healthy years.

Happy Anniversary to us!!

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Early 90’s

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Hubby’s 20th High School Reunion

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