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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Visions And Fragmented Thoughts

Parts of compelling posts sit in my draft box collecting cyberdust, waiting for fresh words to complete them. Good intentions will eventually compel me to sit still long enough to edit and publish my drafts.  

I started this post the weekend or just after the Super Bowl.  Umm… Today is February 27th.  Seriously this is my umpteenth attempt to publish it.  Lol!  I tell myself it’s Life girl… Don’t take it too serious.  I am thinking, 

If I don’t publish this piece today, it probably won’t happen.  😦

Why?  Next week I start Grad school!  I am so excited!!  I found a program that has my name written all over it:  Wellness & Lifestyle Management.  🙂   School will affect my down time, so I know it may cut into my social media /blog time.  But all is well. I will continue to post when I can.

Meanwhile, this post includes snippets of wandering thoughts culminating from the start of the new year.  

D i s a p p o i n t m e n t    

I am  a little disappointed with myself. Why?  Fowl play… Look!!!  OMG!
 

A non plant based protein source!
  
 

The yellow gadget is new.  I stumbled on it at BJ’s for $5 and change.  This pretty little object is a juicer.  I have not seen one before but it’s very effective and super easy to use.  Slice a lemon in half and place face down in juicer.  Press the lever and squeeze.  The juice–not the seeds–flow like you are pouring it out of a juice bottle.  Love it!  #goodfind

My good intentions of going Vegetarian lasted about five weeks. I was doing exceptionally well. Eating only fish, legumes, quinoa, and other protein sources. I did experience a weak moment one day with my friend Michelle. I cheated and ate one… or two, well cooked, juicy and flavorful honey barbecue wing flings.  

Super Bowl weekend rolls around and… I want to blame my actions on lack of time, however, the fact is, we make time for what is important to us, so I am owning my choice to buy, cook, and eat the chicken breast. It is so much easier to blame our decions on someone or something, but I shouldn’t. So, there. I said it.  

On Saturday (the day before the Super Bowl), I felt bad and I felt guilty about buying the meat. 

Fear of not consuming enough protein in the upcoming week stirred up feelings of desperation. 

Muscles are built in the kitchen. Throwing weights up on the gym floor is only a part of the equation. 

On Sunday, as I squeezed fresh lemon juice on the chicken breasts, I tried to come to terms with my decision. I asked myself, 

“Why are you trying to be so damned perfect?  And why are you stressing?”

I realize that becoming a vegetarian is merely a journey. 

journey – [jur-nee]

1.a traveling from one place to another, usually taking a rather long time; trip:

2. a distance, course, or area traveled or suitable for traveling:

3.a period of travel:

4.passage or progress from one stage to another:

“…from one stage to another.”  

Training for my first figure competition was a journey. I experienced ups and downs and made adjustments along the way.

The process of going natural involves many stages. Determining one’s hair type. Finding the right product and product combination. Discovering techniques that work. Gains and failures… you push through it.

I don’t why I thought transitioning into the world of vegetarianism would be any different. I understand now. This week chicken. Next week I will return to plant based protein.

F U N

We shunned the traditional Super Bowl party this year. Instead a handful of close friends came over to watch the game with us.

Since I enjoy healthy and clean eating, no one expects to get any real sweets and treats from me, but on Sunday I surprised them with a Pinterest inspired mini candy station.  🙂 

   
   

To appease the fans on both teams, I bought a cake which displayed both team logos. Hubby’s birthday was the following day so during half time, we sang him Happy Birthday.  

P R O G R E S S    

   

                                                                            This picture was taken last week (January 2016).

My shoulders are growing!  Yay!  

I have been mostly working out alone, without my friend, so I have learned to push and challenge myself more.  I WILL  compete again; probably in the spring so I’m working hardER to better develop certain areas such as my quads.  Each time I walk on stage, I want to look better than the last time. 🙂

V I S I O N S

Right before the new year, me and a few friends hooked up to create Vision Boards.  With everyone being so busy with kids, family, work, grandkids and more, we decided to start 2016 out by having more focus.

A vision board is a visual creation of your goals and your dreams.  Using pictures, images, or whatever you find to create a reminder is what you set out to achieve.  There is no right or wrong way of doing it. My one friend purchased a large picture frame [excellent idea], so she could hang hers in her bedroom.  I used a foam board, my daughter cut hers out… It doesn’t matter, as long as it works for YOU.  

      

      

  
 

Creating the vision boards was a fun, relaxing and a productive activity. We’re all chipping away at our 2016 goals. My board is in my bedroom.  

Seeing the board every morning motivates me to do at least one activity each day, which will move me closer to accomplishing a goal. 

M O R E  F U N

The best Christmas present ever!  When I opened the box, a few weeks ago, I was surprised to learn that the telescope needed assembly.  But I am proud to say I put it together all by myself.  Assembly is usually hubbies department. 

Since I took an astronomy class in college, I have wanted a telescope.  For Chrismtas,  hubby gave me one.  I didn’t think he was paying attention when I said I wanted one.   How cool is that? 

I am excited because our backyard is the perfect backdrop for viewing the skies.  To help us to learn learn the what’s,  the why’s, and the how’s, friends bought us an astronomy book. I told our son, that we must read the book first, then we can get busy with viewing the stars. 🙂

I am officially ending this post.  

Happy Saturday and thanks for stopping by!   Smooches!


Loc Journey Update

October 17, 2015, I started my loc journey.

Perms. Tracks. Braids. Twists. Loc extensions. Full weaves. I am certain  I have worn just about every style available to women.  Today women of all shades, colors, ethnicities can enjoy a plethora of hair styles. Pick whatever style that makes you walk out the door feeling like a million bucks, and it is yours.

On second thought.  That statement isn’t 100% accurate. Although I have the freedom to choose hair style, length, and color, others still do not.   Depending on your profession, your boss and the organization you work for, the conservatives  may  constrict your choice of style.

After my daughter’s employer updated their grooming standards.  She was given this directive.

Do something to your hair or don’t come back to work.

She sports a cool Mohawk. 

  
The style is some what of a coming out for her. She is conservative.  To wear a style that brings attention to her is something  mom does, not her.  Hehe! Finally in her mid twenties, my girl gives authentic living a try and breaks out with a cut she loves.  #happymom  

Within five months, the party is over.  :0(

Been there done that. 

__________________________

Growing up in a small predominately white town, where at age 12 mom sat in the car and I walked into the liquor store to buy her Tanqueray and Pall Malls with no questions asked, wasn’t a town where I saw anyone wearing locs. 

I have racked my brain to remember my first sight of locs. Probably Bob Marley. I doubt that I saw the style  in Ebony Magazine.  

Charlotte, I think, was the first loc wearing sista who I had any kind of relationship with. I met her through a mutual friend. Her locs hung down her back. They are beautiful, I recall thinking.  

Eventually I thought, by the age of 40, my hair would be loc’d.   

My estimate was off by 10 years but finally I started my journey. 

You might be wondering, what was the deciding factor?

Inspiration from my son, my cousin Curtis and my stylist and KinHairitage Salon owner Victoria. While my son is cultivating and exploring his sense of swag, Curtis and Vicky’s funky and brash styles envigorate me.  I can’t wait!!  I tell myself daily, patience girl!   At my high school I see more boys and girls confidently strut the hallways then I have ever seen before. I tell them they inspire me to stay on my journey. They graciously thank me. 

   
 

  

My favorite cousin… He’s so cool! 🙂

Everywhere I turn my head, I see short locs, long locs, red locs, blonde locs, foe locs, and more.  I love it!  Perhaps a more relaxed work environment paved the way for women and men to take the big step. We’ve come a long way, but I still don’t see any news anchors on the major news channels with locs. 

In the early 90’s, a former co-worker, Flo, sued an Atlantic City Casino who denied her the right to wear box braids and won. We scored!!! I wanted to wear braids but they were against company (another casino) policy. The thought of suing never occurred to me. I was happy she won her case. Flo’s win was for all the black women working in the casinos who desperately wanted to wear braids but were paralyzed by fear. Fear of losing ones job.   

Back in October, I walked out of KinHairitage feeling confident and excited about my next hair journey. My Locticican and salon owner, Victoria is my inspiration. Her locs are beautiful. She is beautiful. Her funky, eclectic, and cool sense of style is admirable. Did I mention, she knows her shit!   

 

  

  

After a week of spin class and lifting weights at the gym, my hair looked a hot mess. My best friend’s mom died and I could not bring myself to show up and support her with my frizzed out hair.   

No amount of lipstick, mascara, or eye shadow was going to fix my attitude toward my hair. I looked a hot mess. 

My hair looked bad. I thought I was ready for this part of the journey, but I really wasn’t ready.  

“Hair Heaven” is what we call it.  Another friend hipped me to this beauty supply store. You are greeted at the door with floor to ceiling hair. I am for real! Floor to ceiling hair… All around the store.   

I am NOT a wig person. Hot flashes make it difficult to wear a hat, but desperation will have you do things that you thought you would never do.   

Since that day, I have accumulated three favorite hats… Hahaha! Wigs. Responses to the wigs have been favorable. Even better, my locs hibernate nicely. All I do is moisturize and cover.  

 
My hair is washed retwisted an braided up.    

The back of my hair is shaved but has grown some since this pic. When the weather warms, I will shave the back again.

   The back of my hair. 

  

My first wig!!!

 
After wearing this one for a month, I ventured back to “Hair Heaven.”

 

Never did I think RED hair could work for me. Surprise!!

  

I found these fun shades by shoopbogaboga on Instagram.


  

This day it was COLD out. Pulling a hood over big hair is tricky.

  
 In this picture, I had just level work. I am in my car headed to the gym.  While sitting at a traffic light, I snatched the wig off and put my scarf and hat on.  🙂

I grew comfortable with the vivactious red and went back to the store for another one.  Lol!

   
 

My cousin took this picture during our family Christmas gift exchange. 

Today is 3 months and 13 days that I have my locs.  A week went to see my stylist for loc maintenance.  I am surprised by the growth and they are budding nicely. Allowing my locs to nest under a wig is helping the process.

 
I love my parts.  As my hair grows, the parts will give me greater styling flexibility. 

  

This is the back of my head

 
   
 
Love is in the air!  I’m starting to dig my hair.  My next visit will involve color.  🙂 

Will I wear a wig again?  

Mostly likely but only because, when I work out, I sweat terribly and my hair gets wet and messy looking. 

Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to the freedom of the frizzy and untamed look, but my hair hasn’t completely loc’d yet.  As the summer near, the wigs will disappear.  Yay! 

Thanks for stopping by!  Happy day! Smooches. 🙂


Taking It All In Stride

Life is a song-sing it.  Life is a game–play it.

Life is a challenge–meeet it.  Life is dream–realize it.  

Life is a sacrifice–offer it.  Life is love–enjoy it. 

                                                          — Sai Baba

                                                                  

According to our plans, we should have been out of New Jersey five hours ago. Instead as I’m writing this, we’re about 5 miles from the Delaware Memorial Bridge.  

4:30 yesterday afternoon, we went to pick up the rental car.

…it didn’t happen.

“We are expecting your car around 8 p.m., we’ll call you when it arrives.” 

Seven-thirty the phone rings.  Yay!! The car is ready!!  :0) 

WRONG!!

“Your car won’t be availalbe until tomorrow at noon.  The person who rented it was suppose to return the car today, but they did not bring it back.”

At 8 p.m., we start a new search for a similar vehicle but with a different company.  

….found one in Philadelphia.  We’re set! 

We leave the house close to 4 a.m., pick up my cuz and head an hour away to philly.

Around 6 a.m., we arrive at car rental agency.

“I’m sorry, the vehicle you requested is no longer available.” :o(

They  show us another vehicle, which is the same size of what we drove up in.  Well that ain’t gonna work.

….get back in the car and drive about 45 minutes away to Vineland, NJ.  We’re back tracking now.  Lol!!

…pull up at rental car agency at 7 a.m., but they don’t open until 8 a.m., but we spot a handful of cars and only ONE shiny and new SUV (Tahoe)  in the parking lot.  Finally!  Light at the end of the tunnel.

An agent from the original company (who screwed up our reservation)  supposedly called, faxed, and reserved a a large SUV that we requested.

To kill time, we drive to Walmart.

…7:45 a.m., we greet the regional manager, store manager, and two other workers.

“I’m sorry, ALL of the vehicles in the parking lot are already reserved.”

WTH!!!  Is this some kind of joke?  Are we on some kind of hidden camera show?  

Sigh!

Once again, we explain the culminating mishaps…

He has a minivan available.  We’re all looking like, we don’t want no damn minivan!

We walk out to the van.  It has two rows of seats–but there are 5 of us. One look at the small rear comparment confirmed it was too small and would never fit our luggage.  Ugh!  

I instruct the manger to follow me to our vehicle and I pop the trunk.  Lol!!  He looks at our bags, eyes widen, and he realizes we need a larger vehicle and promises to figure something out.

We’re pissed off, disappointed (again), exasperated, tired of looking for a vehicle and just want to get on the road.

Back inside the office, the manager quietly speaks to the regional manager… we anticipation, we helplessly wait.

“We have a 2015 Expedition that a representative is driving over.  We just have to clean it up and it should be ready for you in 15 minutes.”

Finally!!!!  :0)   

 Because of our situatiton, the manager (Tom) decided to honor the rate of the original agency. Tom also waived the fee for filling the vehicle.  His nickname is “Terrific Tom.”

So last night, initially I was angry with the agency and wanted to give them a down home cussin out.. because this is the second time they messed up our reservations.

But after blowing off my frustration, I felt like it wasn’t meant for us to be on the road as we planned.

After this morning’s circus, I’m CONVINCED that God had a plan to delay our road trip.  No matter what we tried to do to leave early, the road blocks kept coming–one after another.

I couldn’t even get mad.  I only knew that it was time to go with the flow.

God and the universe’s energy guides us.  Sometimes we listen; other times we don’t.  

We secured a car at the time it was okay for us go.  We just cleared the Harbor Tunnell with 653 miles to go.  We’re all in a good place, no tension, relaxed, talking, laughing, and enjoying an easy breezy ride.  🙂 There is no way we would allow a series of hiccups to destroy the blessing and joy of our family trip.

This morning, we sang the song, met the challenge, played the game, made the sacrafice, and we’re still loving life.

   
   

Regardless of the challenges we face in life, it is important to remember that life is a journey. The highs lows, the peaks and  the valleys are part of the journey, and can make us stronger and wiser.   The choice is ours; which do you choose?

Life is good.  Stay fit, be blessed, and enjoy every day.  

  
Make it a good one!


Try Something New!

I like to challenge myself. I like to learn – so I like to try new things and try to keep growing.

-David Schwimmer

I loooooove to try new things; it’s scary and fun!

If you are on a journey to live healthier, whether it is to eat better foods, get into better physical condition, or just to adapt a healthier lifestyle, it begins with having the courage to be open-minded to trying new things and a willingness to view life through a different lens.

I am so excited! Why? Because today I am trying not one, but two new recipes!! Heeey! I’m dancing around the kitchen. Lol!

To eat healthy and clean (as clean as possible), you have your staple food items (avocados, leafy greens, brown rice, quinoa, and more). However, the six meals a day can get boring really quick, so just like fitness, you’ve gotta mix it up!

This is suppose to be a quick post, so I’ve got get back to cooking, but check out the ingredients. I forgot to include the black beans and two other spices in the recipe, but everything else is included in the picture.

These ingredients may not look like much, but oh… wait until you see the results!

ingredients

I’ll chat with you later!  🙂