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!

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This Happened Today

In yesterday’s post, I shared a particular moment with my son showing his grandmother a compelling video of the harmful effects of cigarette smoking. Tailor is on a mission to help her win the war against tobacco addiction and, from the back seat,  I am cheering him on. Who am I to tell my son to leave his grandmother alone?  Nope.  I won’t do that. I am a spectator enjoying the parade.

Well. After dinner today, my mom and my son walked to the mailbox together. It took some coaxing on his part, but she agreed.

The walk to the mailbox was short but possibly the beginning of a change and the start of a new habit.  Their walk to the mailbox replaced mom’s after-dinner cigarette.

Grandchildren make the world

a little softer, 

a little kinder, 

a little warmer.


Good Things Really Do Come In Small Packages

When you are a fanatic about living a healthy and fit lifestyle, you become a prowler for healthy treats. New and exotic fruits, enticing vegetables, or an appetizing sweet treat is good things that you just cannot get enough of.

The Vitamin Store is one of my go tos for organic loose leaf tea, my protein powder, and a few other items.  Today, like no other day, while at the register, I did a quick scan of the shelf by the cash register. Look what I found!  :).  Yeah I know, coconut is high in fat, but in small portions, it’s all good.

The first thing I always do is READ THE LABEL.  No matter how delectable and pretty the package is, I always read the label.  This package is so darn small, I couldn’t see sh** on the label.   Ugh! My glasses were in the car.   Hehe!  A few weeks ago,   I got scammed on a green tea latte.

I asked the cashier to read the nutrition facts. Only three (3) grams of sugar. Nice. I’m all smiling now.  60 Calories for one treat, not bad.  Zero grams of sodium. I CAN do this.   One last check; the ingredients. It’s a real gem.  I’m humming The Pointer Sister’s tune, “I’m so excited!  And I just can’t hide it..”

For real.  I get excited over stuff like this. Friends often shake their heads and wonder why I get so happy and energized when I talk about working out or eating healthy.  It’s hilarious, but I can’t help myself.  This stuff is fun. 🙂


You might laugh at me.   This treat is only a half an ounce, but I don’t need to eat an entire bag of candy to satisfy my appetite for a sweet tooth.  Okay.  you’re gonna die laughing when you see the size of this amazing treat, but trust me, it did the trick.

The key to indulging in your treats is to sit down.  Eat mindfully slow.  Don’t talk on the phone. Avoid distractions like FaceBook or other social networks.  If you have kids, please, wait until they are in bed.  Don’t even read.  Just take small bites and savor every bite.  🙂     Think about Janet Jackson’s old song, Control.    Trust me, you’ll get better with practice, but you have to want to control yourself.

I’m glad I tried it. It delicious and I highly recommend it. Oh, I bought six and I only ate one.  :).  They are sold in individual packets.  Oh and by the way, unlike the green tea latte, this treat really is lightly sweetened.  

What are some of your favorite healthy treats?  I’d love to add some more goodies to my stash.

Thanks for stopping by.

Make your day magical.  🙂  Smooches!


Why I Stopped Eating Poultry: It’s Not What You Think

quote

Jason Silva

 

One insignificant decision, good or bad, can alter the course of one’s life forever. The changes occur like a domino effect. One domino tilts forward causing a forward motion and for as long at another lie ahead, the movement is continuous.

 The “domino effect” is a great metaphor for how we choose to live. I say “choose” because the action is voluntary. Throughout our life, we can opt to remain unchanged and hold on to our conceptual beliefs, moral convictions, and unwavering attitudes or we can decide to open our mind and open our heart to the unknown.  For me, the later is working its magic!

Four days remain for me to finish reading, The Happy Vegan by Russell Simmons.  A goal for 2016 was to seek more education, so I chose (there’s that word again) to work on a Master’s degree.  Monday ended my first class and the second course starts in four days.  Simmons book is a quick read.  I enjoy his style of writing. He is practical and deliberate and precise.

I am reading the book because I need clarity on what it means to be a vegetarian.

My domino effect goes like this.

In 2014, I competed in my first figure competition. The training took my already wholesome diet to a more sophisticated level of eating clean (insert link). Building muscle mass requires more than throwing up weights.  Depending on your fitness goal, increasing muscle mass requires eating significant amounts of protein.  Because I don’t eat red meat (since 1994), my go to was poultry and seafood.

Toward the later part of 2015, I was getting tired of eating chicken and turkey.  Thoughts about giving up both on a regular basis occasionally plagued my brain, but I wasn’t quite ready to give up the likes of homemade turkey burgers and turkey chili.

January 2016 rolls around, and without doing much research, I take the plunge.  I decide to give up the chicken and turkey and go with more seafood and more plant-based protein.

I was consistent until February 7th, SuperBowl 2016.  The weekend was busy and for the first time in a month, I failed to plan— I was stuck for meal prep.  In a haste and, in spite of my goal, I bought chicken breast.  For the next two weeks, I ate chicken.  Then something happened.

The unexpected.

The hot flashes returned!

HOTFLASH

HOT FLASH!

 

For most of 2015, I experienced hot flashes from hell!  From deep within, an insane and intense radiating heat ignited then spread to every part of my body extending to my scalp. I’d look like someone threw a pot of water in my face.  By 8:30 in the morning my clothes were sweat-stained. As sad as it was, I don’t believe in hormone replacement therapy or any types of medication.

I was just going to adjust my wardrobe and deal with shit.  Since the summer was only a few months away, I could dress half-naked when needed.

By the end of January, I noticed less frequency-almost no hot flashes, but I did not make an immediate connection.  The ah-ha moment was after Superbowl weekend when I started eating chicken breast again.  The hot flashes returned with venom.  They increased in frequency and in intensity.

How on earth could chicken breast affect my hot flashes??  I searched online for a connection between chicken and hot flashes.  Nada!  Zilch!  I could not find a connection.  Furthermore, I was buying Lancaster County Poultry from a nearby Farmers Market. “Lancaster County has the highest density of organic farms in Pennsylvania and one of the highest in the country.” Their chickens are said to be all natural, free of growth hormones, pesticides, and fed a vegetarian diet.

The effects may be a coincidence, my body is rejecting the meat, or perhaps something that is in the chicken.  I don’t know.  The fact is that currently and since I stopped eating poultry, the only time I sweat profusely is during a workout. When the intense summer heat arrives, I will see what happens.

Also, when I get more time, I plan to read, Eat Right 4 Your Type. The premise of the book is that not all foods are suitable for all blood types and based on one’s “genetic code” and “characteristics,” they are predisposed to certain illnesses. It is an interesting theory that I will certainly explore.

Okay I know, I got off track.

After two weeks (February 21, 2016), I returned to plant based, and seafood as my protein source and the intense and unbearable hot flashes have almost entirely disappeared.  I no longer walk around looking like someone threw a bucket of water in my face.

Is this a coincidence?  I don’t know.  Only time will tell, so for now, I chose to stay away from poultry.

More of the domino effect.

Two and half months have passed. Since I stopped eating chicken, turkey, and pork, which I never ate much of, I decided to continue eating hard-boiled eggs, omelets and scrambled eggs.

One problem!

At work one day, while eating my hard-boiled eggs, I started gagging and was so confused. I managed to eat three but tossed the fourth egg and have not eaten a hard-boiled egg since.

After the boiled egg incident, I tried an omelet but added about one and a half cups of Tuscan kale.  I was okay with that and wolfed it down.

So for now, no more hard boiled eggs.

All of the diet changes have led me to consider eliminating all animal-based foods from my diet but I need clarity.

Does that mean I will be a vegan, vegetarian, or something else?  Hmmm… Heck at this point, I don’t even know what to call myself. Not that I need a label, I am just curious.

Low and behold I found http://www.vegsoc.org.    The Vegetarian Society, who defines a vegetarian as:

“Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses (what’s that?), nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits with, or without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.”

Pulses are beans and lentils. 🙂

This definition may be debatable for some; I was curious from hearing people declare themselves as “vegan” or “vegetarian.”  At this point, rather than get hung up on a label; I am proceeding slowly. As I sort through the particulars of plant-based protein sources and diets, I will continue my diet without the poultry and eat seafood as needed and continue to educate myself on meatless meals.  Plans include more figure competitions, so I still need a daily intake of a substantial amount of protein.

My fitness plans include more figure competitions, so I still need a daily intake of a substantial amount of protein. I need to continue researching and find out what will work for me.  I believe there is no cookie-cutter approach to diet (lifestyle) and nutrition.  What works for one does not work for all; therefore, I have lots of tweaking to do.

Are you vegan? Are you a vegetarian or another identify with another label?  Are you a bodybuilder or gym rat who lives on a plant-based diet?  If so, I need you.  Please comment and share your experience or advice.

Thanks for stopping by and make it a great day!


Adjust Or Go A Bust

“Remain flexible and teachable so that you can make necessary
adjustments in life.”
Mz Liz

Adjust 

[uhjuhst]

  1. to change (something) so that it fits, corresponds, or conforms; adapt; accommodate
  2. to put in good working order; regulate; bring to a proper state or position

 

Today marks the end of my third week of grad school. Whew!!  Adding reading assignments, papers, and projects to my already busy schedule is a challenge– challenging but not impossible.

This weekend is about adjusting.  I am making the new addition to my routine fit.  I am adapting my weekly routine.  I am accommodating new tasks.  I am deleting some things from routine (less social networking time) and putting others (my son’s tutoring, basketball, etc..) in order.

Accomplishing anything good in life required adjustment.

If you can’t adjust, you will certainly a bust!    -tfc

Sunday is my meal prep but last week did not work too well, so I had to adjust my routine.

I moved the majority of my shopping day on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning to Friday evening. The change frees me up for Sunday.

The second major adjustment is my cooking day. To free up more time to read and to write, I moved cooking from Sunday to Saturday afternoon… umm… I just looked at the clock.  The “afternoon?”  I started cooking at around 5:30 p.m…. the current time is 8:33 p.m., but it is done.  In between cleaning up the kitchen, letting the food cool down, and putting items away, I’m snapping pictures.  🙂

What’s cooking?  A hodgepodge of quick dishes for me and my peeps. The only menu items left to cook are veggies and I’m working on those.   I don’t have enough time to write recipes and all, but I wanted to give you an idea of what’s happening in my kitchen.

 

spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash… it is quick and easy to prepare.


mexican quinoa

Mexican Quinoa is a hit with hubby, is loaded with protein, so it works.


black rice

This black rice will pair nicely with the black-eyed peas.


black eyed peas

My first attempt ever at meatless black-eyed peas.  I add extra goodies like garlic, jalapenos, and substituted water with vegetable broth, so the peas should have a nice 


sweet potatoes

I can’t go wrong with sweet potatoes.


sausage dish

Mom will love this!  Sweet hot sausage and turkey kielbasa cooked in a fire roasted tomato sauce.  Whoever want to indulge can enjoy it over whatever style of pasta they choose, just don’t touch my black rice.  🙂


crock pot

I would be lost without my crockpots!  The third crockpot is full of steel cut oats in the fridge. 

 

The point of this post is to remind you that when trying something new, you have to be flexible.  What works for me may not work for you.  Also, what worked for me yesterday isn’t working for me today.  So no worries.  Take in a deep breath–slowly release the air and keep it moving.  I have a ton of work to do and must go. See Yah!

Happy day to you!! Smooches!

 

 

 

 


Sharing Is Caring

We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community…Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.
— Cesar Chavez

Sunday I hosted the first of a year long series of Sharing is Caring Wellness Workshops. The topic, Food Prep 101 is often linked with bodybuilding, but anyone can benefit from the model.

workshop Me speaking

Thirteen enthusiastic and eager family, friends, current and former colleagues attended. Today I am bursting with gratitude. The feedback is nourishment to my heart and to my soul. The responses confirm, what I already know:

People really do care about their health and well-being.    

Life often gets in the way and, like a drifting swimmer being pulled by a strong current, swimming back to the shore seems futile. Fatigue sets in and the determined and hard-wearing current wins.  

Careers, spouses, partners, children, aging parents, and extended family can constantly pull and tug at us. If we live void of mindfulness,  we slowly drift with the current into a world saturated with stress, sadness, depression, failed relationship, and life altering healthy issues. Daily life turns into simply trying to stay afloat. 

I understand the struggle–Have been there done that. But I have also learned from my experiences, which is why I willingly share my knowledge with others.

My entire life, I have had a passion for fitness; always eager to know more and to do more and always willing to indulge in something new.

When I reflect on my life, I find it remarkable of how plunging into each new activity has moved me and stretched me to new and unimaginable directions. I realize (now), but I did not in the past, that each adventure served a specific purpose and has widened my perspective.  

Somedays I feel like a tree branch. There’s lots of budding going on and I am growing. I am focused and think I know what direction I am going; however, each new endeavor surprises me with a curveball. I go with the flow of the energy and am often surprised at the path and the amazing results. 

Awe man. I’ve gotten off track a bit, but my point is don’t be afraid of trying something new. Just do it.  

When I was a high strung 20 something years old,  I NEVER imagined myself as Manager of Training & Development at a gaming hall.  I NEVER imagined myself working in a high school influencing teenagers to do better.

Even ten years ago, I NEVER saw myself walking on stage in stilettos and competing in body building competitions.  NEVER did I suspect I would host a series of wellness workshops!  Oh my.  The surprises are endless!! 

If I can come from a plastics factory worker father, who grew up in the islands, with no high school diploma or GED, and from a hot-tempered, quick to whoop some ass mother, with 12 siblings growing up dirt poor in a shack in the deep woods of Weymouth, with no electricity or running water, and the only expectation of me was to not have a baby, to get my high school diploma, get a job, and not ask for shit, and become who I am today, then any damn thing is possible!

For Gods sake, please venture outside of your comfort zone and try something new.

Anyways, back to my workshop. 🙂

It was delightful!

To comfortably accommodate everyone, my husband and daughter helped me to rearrange the basement. Thank you peeps!!

workshop set up

My daughter checking lighting.

I never want to force my lifestyle on anyone, so for the first session, I invited only people who have ever sought fitness related advice from me.  

My objective was simple: to give each of them at least one piece of information that would help them to make a positive change in their lifestyle.  

They arrived with bright smiles and eager to learn.  

The group had different lifestyles. Married with kids. Single with NO kids. Single with kids. Divorced. Working two jobs and going to school. They shared one common thread. A desire to live better. Beautiful! 

I covered the basics of food prep, answered questions, and welcomed suggestions for future sessions.

Workshop participants

My talented daughter videoed the session for me. Thanks Shaina!!

They indulged in light healthy snacks and a new wholesome and nutritious dish that I blogged about last month. [insert link].

Positive energy filled the cozy space and I could not have been happier.

A section of our basement is dedicated to hubby’s Man Cave.  All of the women were forbidden by hubby from entering the cave.  

What’s a woman to do?? 

Break the rules!!!! Fist pump!!

man cave

Although some people left already, there were enough women left to make our point.

Crash the cave with a group photo! Ohm gosh!! The perfect ending to a productive, educational, and rewarding afternoon. Nothing but laughter…..

What’s next?

Rest and figuring out a topic for March’s meeting.  

Last weekend was non-stop.  My son’s tutoring- an hour away, an informative two-hour meditation class, preparing for the workshop, my own food prep and organizing myself for my first graduate class in a M.A. in Wellness and Lifestyle Management program. Whew!  

We know that knowledge is power, but even more empowering and rewarding is caring enough to “include the aspirations and needs of others.” 

Happy Day to you!  🙂