Twisty Burrito Bowls


Ok, before I go any further let me explain the “twisty” part of these burrito bowls. They’re meatless. And rice-less. But hear me out. You will not miss the meat when you’re done. There’s so many flavors and textures to entertain your palette and leave you extremely satisfied. I use quinoa because 1. Added protein and 2. And most importantly, rice recently started killing my stomach. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how well quinoa substitutes! I will also add, my husband loves this meal and always raves about it after dinner. Lastly, and I’ve said this before, don’t judge the recipe by the picture. I promise it’s so much more delicious than my sloppy food picture suggests. I should take a class on capturing food. Is there such thing? Probably.

So here it is. Twisty Burrito Bowls

 

Black bean corn pico de gallo:

Handful cherry tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup)

1 garlic clove minced

One small red bell pepper, chopped

1/4 cup diced red onion

1 fresh jalapeño seeds and ribs removed, chopped

1 cup canned fire roasted corn

1 cup rinsed black beans

1/8 cup chopped cilantro

Juice of 1 lime

1/4 tsp salt

Few dashes cumin

 
Cilantro lime quinoa:

1 cup quinoa cooked according to package directions.

1/4 tsp salt

Juice of 1 lime

1/8 cup chopped cilantro

 

Sautéed veggies:

1 sweet potato (peeled) diced into 1″ pieces

2 cups carrots 1″ piece

2 cups chopped asparagus

2 squash chopped

2 zucchini chopped

1 jalapeño seeds and ribs removed for mild taste

1-2 garlic cloves minced

3 tbs (divided) olive oil

1 packet taco seasoning

 

Toppings (optional)

Sour cream

Monterey Jack cheese

Avocado

Hot sauce

 
Directions:

Chop all your veggies to be sautéed first. Then get quinoa going, cooking according to package directions. Once cooked, stir in salt, cilantro, and lime juice.

Heat a deep skillet over medium heat and add 2 tbs oil. Once warm, add sweet potatoes, carrots and jalapeño. Sauté about 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Add remaining tablespoon of oil and remaining veggies to be sautéed. Stir. Let cook for about 5 minutes. Add packet of taco seasoning and a splash of water to loosen and coat veggies. Stir. Reduce heat to medium low, cover stirring occasionally until veggies are tender. About 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Grab your bowl. Fill 1/2 with cilantro lime quinoa, add desired amount of veggies, top with corn bean salsa and other toppings of choice. Dig in!

 

Options: 

You can pretty much throw any veggie in your pan that you’ve got. I’ve made it with broccoli, cauliflower, onion and peppers. Just whatever you have on hand! But be sure to add softer veggies in the second half of cooking so they don’t get mushy before potato and carrots are tender.

Enjoy! 

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Categories: healthy eating, Uncategorized, vegetarian journey, yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Courage. Faith. Determination. Patience. Persistence. Surrender. Reward.

When you take a leap of faith. Change the direction of your future. Change the direction of your career or lifestyle. Change. Of any kind. You will need: Courage. Faith. Determination. Patience. Persistence. Surrender.

Pretty much in that order. Throwing in some fear, excitement, discouragement, uncertainty, joy, self fulfillment, anxiety, failure, overwhelm, pride. To name a few.

I have been a busy bee and felt inspired to update my blog on my yoga journey since returning from Thailand. How I’ve fared going through the motions.

5 months post yoga certification:
I spent the first few months after returning from Thailand feeling like I was wandering and lost. Didn’t know which way was up. Had no idea where I wanted to go, let alone how to get there. I didn’t feel prepared to teach. Didn’t feel confident or worthy of a position to teach anywhere. Started researching more training. After having little direction and vision and an abundance of frustration realizing building a business would not be a quick or easy feat, I surrendered. Not to be confused with giving up. Just surrendering my relentless nature to force or control the future. For the first time in my life I surrendered to “going with the flow.” I stopped worrying about “what’s next” and stressing and being anxious about not making forward progress. I decided to take life one day at a time. I put myself out there, sometimes at the risk of stepping outside of my comfort zone and into precarious “yogi socials” (a story for another time,) and made myself available to opportunity. And guess what… It came knocking. Just short of falling in my lap. You know that feeling when the stars just seem to align for you?

For the past two months I’ve been subbing at Sisters Yoga studio. (I was told this is the first step in teaching yoga. Check that box off.) Basically picking up classes on an as-needed basis and building relationships with students. I have been able to gain confidence and also experience. But I yearned for more. It’s not easy showing up to a class and having to fill someone else’s shoes. When students walked in and saw me for the first time in place of the instructor they expected I received a look of disappointment and sometimes, “oh… is _____ not teaching today?” Nope. You got me. Then I spent the next hour in my head hoping I was not going too hard on them or being too soft. Completely consumed with anxiety. But this too subsided with experience and students telling me how much they enjoy my classes.

No one wants to settle for only being a sub for other instructors. But I have been patient- still persistent- while having faith that “what’s next” would present itself on its own… without me forcing anything. As it has, in hindsight, from the very beginning of this journey. [To be honest, while writing this I had to count how many months have passed since I completed my certification and I can’t believe it’s only been five. I’m proud of where I’ve made it in such a short amount of time. But will admit each week felt more like a lifetime.] It sounds a bit corny and probably cliche, but this has been a true testament to the theory, “you get out what you put in.” You know, that whole karma thing. I made a commitment to myself to accept every subbing opportunity, reasoning that, how could the universe give me more when I don’t accept what’s right in front of me, right now? I needed to do my time.

Naturally, since I first began subbing I daydreamed about my next milestone. Having my own class. The opportunity to build a following, express myself through my yoga and have the freedom to explore my creativity. My class! I told the owner of the studio for the first time this past Saturday that I hoped she would consider giving me my own class should the circumstances arise.

*Crickets*

Hey, I tried. There was no longer any doubt in my mind if there was any doubt in her mind about what I wanted from my experience at her studio.

Two days later she texted asking if I’d be interested in taking over Monday night classes as the current instructor had just put in her two weeks notice. I’m getting two classes a week! My own classes! Freedom to teach the yoga my heart so desires to! Students will come to the classes expecting me. I’m sure to an outsider this doesn’t seem like a big deal. But this is huge for me. Unfortunately, I learned rather quickly the yoga world is a dog-eat-dog world and you’ll likely not get even a push in the right direction from a fellow instructor. It’s difficult to get your foot in the door with a market flooded with yoga instructors and most are looking out for number one. But I started this journey just me, myself and I… how naive of me to think that would change any time soon. It’s quite empowering, really.

That being said, I’ve been so fortunate to have an amazing friend/mentor along the way. She told me back before I even knew how I would afford to get certified that anything is possible. She said, “make a vision board. Look at it every morning. And watch it all unfold.” And unfold it has. She has reminded me ever since I completed my certification to be patient. That happiness and contentment go hand in hand. That all I have to do is be present; in the now. Enjoy where I am now. The journey. I’m so grateful to have a friend to remind me chill the fuck out. To breathe. To just be.

I’ve learned (and remind myself often) there’s plenty of time for growth. But for now, enjoy THIS step. Today.
I. am. right. where. I. am. supposed. to. be. right. now.
I will always have my eye on the sky… I can’t help it. But hope to never reach the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Onward and upward!

Next up, branching out. Networking. Do Work!

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Tex Mex Turkey Burgers

I took a hiatus from blogging my food adventures over the holidays but the kids are back in school tomorrow and I’m back to business! And I’m ringing in the new year with a banging recipe you’re going to love… It’s not vegetarian but I don’t care. It’s SO good!

I call them, Tex Mex Turkey Burgers. These burgers were inspired by laughing spatula’s chicken avocado burger recipe. Which is also paleo. Thumbs up. I found their recipe sounded a little bland so I made a few changes starting with the chicken… I bought turkey. But only because I couldn’t find organic ground chicken. I followed the recipe’s directions for one avocado, a jalapeno (seeds  and ribs removed), salt, pepper, panko and doubled the garlic. I also added a couple tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon-ish of cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon-ish of onion powder.

My man threw the patties on the grill with swiss cheese while I made fresh green beans and garlic Parmesan sweet potato fries to accompany our burgers. We strayed from the paleo path and put our burgers on buns with your usual toppings… lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayo. Hot sauce would probably be a great condiment too.

They were delicious. That’s all you need to know. So much flavor with the avocado and cilantro. And the crunch of the fresh jalapeno gave it excellent texture. These are a must make. So just do it. Enjoy!

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“Better than Olive Garden” Minestrone Soup

To be completely honest I’ve never had minestrone soup from Olive Garden. I’m all about that zuppa toscana. BUT since I’m on this whole meatless journey… minestrone it is. And I’m not complaining. I love veggies. In fact, if I could get my hands on an imitation garden vegetable soup recipe from Panera, it’d be an amazing day. (I’ve looked… didn’t find one that sounded quite right. But it’s been a while. Will search again.) Anyway, I can neither confirm nor deny whether or not this minestrone soup recipe is in fact better than Olive Garden’s. But I will say it was pretty tasty. It made a humongous amount of soup and to be frank, I was sick of it before the leftovers ran out. I’d advise either inviting friends or family over to help eat it or cut the recipe in half.

So here’s my crock pot ready to rumble (pre veggie stock. And beans, zucchini and pasta. They come later.)

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You’ve got your tomatoes and paste, onion, celery, carrots, fresh garlic and rosemary, some seasonings and pesto. I sort of strayed from the recipe on the pesto. It called for sun-dried tomato pesto and 1. I didn’t have time for making it homemade and 2. not even sure it’s a real life thing sold in stores. I intended on buying basil pesto and learned upon starting my soup I actually bought basil-kale pesto. It was delicious. Used leftovers on pasta.

And the finished product… drum roll please…

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On a scale of inedible to 10… I give it a 7. It was good but to me not fulfilling enough to be the main entree. But that’s just my personal preference. I like options with my meals. If I were to make it again, it would be a side.

Husband ate it but did not rave or eat it again leftover. So consider that his rating.

Enjoy, folks!

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Kale and Black Bean Burrrrritos

I’ve never been a big fan of the idea of kale on my tacos in place of iceberg lettuce or romaine. And I love kale. HOWEVER, these were delicious. The original kale and black bean burrito recipe called for feta cheese (which I didn’t have but think would have been really good.) I used Monterey Jack because it’s what I had on hand. Additionally, I added tomato… just because I like tomato.

I feel like what really made this taco come together nicely was the seasonings on the kale. It was “citrusy” and flavorful. The recipe called for the kale to be tossed with fresh cilantro and jalapeno (which you can’t have too much of either. Well, maybe jalapeno), lime juice, chili powder, cumin and salt and then set aside to marinate for a few minutes. I’m pretty sure I could eat just the kale with that marinade as a salad. I used half a jalapeno fresh from my garden and found I could have used a little more heat. I would use a whole jalapeno for that amount of kale next time. Also important to note, this recipe has a major pet peeve of mine… “a pinch of this, a dash of that.” I prefer to be precise and accurate. Call me anal or slightly (majorly?) compulsive. So, when it came to the powdered seasonings, I just sprinkled evenly and generously.

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Rather than just throwing some cold black beans into a burrito, as the name suggests, I really liked how the black beans were heated and smashed with sauteed garlic. Brought some extra flavor to the somewhat bland black bean. Once that was done, it was just a matter of layering all the goodness into the tortilla. I only had taco sized tortillas on hand and in hindsight, I really needed a burrito sized tortilla. You’ll see what I mean.

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These were really fantastic. I can’t think of anything I’d do all that differently next time aside from more jalapeno… But I will say, these were lunch for us. I’m not sure I would have been fulfilled had they been dinner.

I’d rate these a 9.

Husband rated an 8 saying, “I liked them. I’d eat them again.” So, I’d say they were a success.

Next week, Olive Garden mock Minestrone soup.

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Faux Balls

Here’s the deal. For a while now I’ve been toying with the idea of adopting a diet leaning more towards the vegetarian side. What does that mean, you ask? Basically, I could never commit (nor do I want to) to becoming vegetarian but I’d like to limit my meat intake and add more meatless meals to my family’s dinner menu. Every time I think I might actually make it happen I just sort of don’t make it happen. It’s like I’m unsure what the first step is. Do you make a strict schedule and force yourself to stick to it? Or do you just play with the concept of one vegetarian meal per week and see where it goes from there? That’s the no-man’s-land I’ve been in for over a year now. I love food. I love good food. And I love meat. So, maybe my lack of commitment is simply stubborn, cold feet.

I spent four weeks in Koh Samui, Thailand getting my yoga teacher certification this past October 2015. At the resort, Vikasa, we were provided a vegetarian/pescatarian/vegan buffet twice a day. While I would prefer not to see prawns again for at least a year, I really enjoyed the “cleanse” from meat. And the food was really good! For breakfast there was usually some variation of eggs, fresh fruit, salad, yogurt and granola, bean salad, tofu sandwiches, vegan pancakes and porridge. Dinner typically consisted of a fresh salad, some sort of hot or cold bean salad, fried rice, soup, tofu stir-fry, noodle dish, edamame, and chickpea salad. What I liked most was how many options I had every night. If I didn’t like something, it was okay… there were various dishes to choose from. And it’s not like I had to fill up on one plate of chickpeas and spinach with a garlic butter sauce.

So, that’s all fine and dandy when someone else is basically preparing an entire restaurant menu for you twice daily. But what happens when you’re at home and want more than one vegetarian option for dinner? Do you spend a million dollars on groceries and your whole day in the kitchen like Julia Child? I struggle with the idea that I can whip up ONE vegetarian dish that will be delicious, affordable, and fulfilling. This is where Pinterest and a practiced palette come in. I have decided to pin a crap ton of vegetarian recipes and then cook my way through them. I will then share the original recipe with you as well as my review and any changes I might have made. I’ll snap an share some pictures but full disclosure, I’m not a professional photographer, chef, or food plater (is there such thing?) so bare with me and spare me the judgement.

So…! Tonight was spaghetti and skinnytaste.com’s eggplant “meatballs.” But first, let me share a story with you. My husband has been extremely supportive of my vegetarian meals idea. He even made his own Pinterest board and started pinning recipes that appeal to him. (One link he pinned was something along the lines of “manly vegetarian meals.” I’m not kidding. I couldn’t make that up.) However, he stands firm that he does not like eggplant. Not. In. Any. Form. Not on a train, not on a plane, not in a car or in a bar. Buuut, I call bullshit because I have never made him eggplant in the (almost) eight years we’ve been married and therefore he simply cannot know for sure that he does not like eggplant at this point in his life! He may actually be a huge fan in waiting.

That being said, I had to refuse to tell him what exactly these “meatless meatballs” were made up of. But I’ll tell you: sauteed eggplant, breadcrumbs, egg, romano cheese, parsley, basil, garlic and salt and pepper. That’s what the recipe called for. I added in about 1/4 cup of diced red onion and 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes.

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They looked normal- to me- at the point of preparation when he came into the kitchen. See below.

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Threw the meatballs in the oven on 350 for about 25 minutes flipping once (not soon enough) to brown both sides… without success.

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The meatballs were then simmered in a basil marinara sauce and spooned over piping hot spaghetti.

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On a scale of inedible to 10, I give this recipe an 7.5. I really enjoyed it. I found that the texture of the meatballs wasn’t overly enjoyably… almost mushy, but when I ate smaller bites of meatball with more pasta it was just right! Flavor was great. I think the texture thing is just something I will have to get used to. Also, it’s possible more breadcrumbs or a longer cook time could have helped dry out the meatballs a bit.

Hope you consider giving these faux balls a try!

Edit: a friend asked my husband’s take on the meatballs and I wish I would have thought to include it originally. So he gave them a 6. “I’d eat them again but I wouldn’t ask you to make them.” I had one kid gobble down his entire bowl and one kid take two bites. In the meatballs’ defense, she wouldn’t have eaten beef meatballs either. 

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Let’s talk about boobs

Yes, boobs. I feel like there is a lot of emphasis put on boobs in our country. For those of you who have not experienced the wonderful “boobs after babies” phase, let me enlighten you, they are nonexistent. Naturally, I had a pretty big problem with this change that wasn’t reversing itself any time soon… or ever for that matter. I researched plastic surgeons hoping a stack of money would land on my doorstep to pay for a breast augmentation. I bought ridiculous Victoria Secret push-up bras that could break someone’s rib should you hug too tight and even experimented with turtle necks. I was always worrying about not having enough cleavage to wear low-cut shirts. My overpriced (and underachieving) bras would hollow out as if I were five again wearing my sister’s 38DD bra waiting to be stuff with socks. I was so self conscious I didn’t even want my husband to acknowledge my boobs. Of course he’d tell me I’m beautiful in every way and he wouldn’t change a thing but I kept feeling like I needed change to make me happy. To make me love myself.

Then I found yoga. I went from NEEDING a boob job to questioning if I would actually follow through if I had the opportunity. The deeper I dove into yoga, the clearer it became. I started living in sports bras… which make me resemble something of a ten year old. But, for the first time, I was comfortable in both my clothes and my skin. My confidence was growing. Not because my chest could make heads turn but instead because I felt myself becoming stronger, more flexible. I was physically, mentally and emotionally challenging myself and seeing real life results, instant gratification that was building from within. I have since accepted my flaws and imperfections because I’m stuck with them and they’re stuck with me!

Yesterday, my husband sent me this picture and I laughed so hard. YES!!Image

I had this epiphany. Instead of feeling sorry for my sorry boobies, I’m realizing I appreciate them. Lord knows I would not be able to do half of the yoga poses I do with big tots in my face. It may be a different kind of beauty but yoga can be so beautiful. I’d rather someone appreciate the shapes I make than the shelf my boobs make. So, here’s to a lifetime with my low fat ladies. May every woman feel beautiful in her skin just the way God made her.

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Find what makes your soul happy- then make time to do it.

First, I have to acknowledge the elephant in the room: my guilt. Guilt because all I want to do is write… uninterrupted. I want to listen to music that gets my creative juices running, but my three year old cannot do a single activity on her own. At least not for more than three minutes once I’ve finally found something to entertain her. In thirty minutes, she has had me put on kid’s yoga for her, print her out preschool worksheets, and turn on her leap frog tv game console. Each activity took me five to ten minutes to prepare for three minutes of her entertainment. In order to keep one’s sanity, we must have time to ourselves. Children do not understand this concept.
Onward and upward.
I’ve found that in life I struggle with contentment. I’m always looking for the next project, hobby, past time, whatever it may be, that will keep my attention for a brief period before I, much like my daughter but on a larger scale, lose interest and become bored with meandering through life, getting by. Eyes on tomorrow. What will tomorrow bring? I try my best to wear many hats; caring wife, nurturing mother, reliable friend, present daughter and so on. It’s rare that I stop and think, what makes me happy? What brings me pleasure? Not just entertainment but actual pleasure. Something that makes the heart and soul happy. Something that brings peace to mind, body and soul alike. Is it accomplishment, faith, music, meditation, yoga, traveling, the sound of the ocean, warm sun on my skin? All of the above?
A couple weeks ago we decided it was time to skip town for an extended weekend at the beach. Not just any beach, but San Diego. A bucket list city while we are living in California. (Note: accomplishment, travel, sound of the ocean, warm sun on my skin and yoga. I’ll explain.)
On the way home from San Diego, Nic and I spent 20 minutes of our five hour car ride trying to find the right word to describe what the weekend did for our minds and souls. We couldn’t find the right word. Maybe if you could smash together soul cleansing, refreshing, redefining, contentious and serene, you could properly describe the calm we felt somewhere down deep during and after our trip. A sense of euphoria. I realized long into the debate that Nic had lost interest. I was still reading synonyms for “content” to him from my dictionary.com app when he admitted he had already forgot what we were talking about.
[Although I abandoned the journalism major my sophomore year of college, I’m still a writer at heart. I still find it necessary to find the precise words to translate to others my thoughts and feelings without any misunderstanding. It’s lead me to some pretty deep soul searching and resulted in getting to know myself (some attributes and some vices) quite well.]
Back to the weekend getaway. It was amazing. Not because the weather was perfect or the view in every direction gorgeous, but because for the first time in a while we picked up and left town knowing we needed rejuvenation. The kids have finally reached ages where we weren’t bound by naps or needing to pack like the Clampetts just to go down to the beach for a few hours. We went down south with a destination but no agenda. No expectations (with an exception to tacos). Just flying by the seat of our pants. My favorite.
We started out Friday morning in San Clemente with the hotel’s continental breakfast and then made our way to the beach to meet up with family who lives in the area. Seemed everyone in town had the same idea to play hookie from work to enjoy sun, 75 degrees, warm sand and good surf. We spent the day watching the kids run from the frigid and icy waves lazily rolling in. Then they’d take a break for frolicking, sand castle building and seagull chasing. Later, we freshened up and then returned to our family’s house for barbequed kabobs and beer. We laughed about parenthood, reminisced about the days before parenthood and daydreamed of the days when we’ll have adult time again without having to pay for it. It was a very enjoyable, carefree evening.
Saturday started bright and early, piling into the car for a day trip down to San Diego. Upon arrival, we stopped at a local cafe for a quick breakfast. I bought fresh green juice, kids got a smoothie and Nic, a latte.

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I love local cafes. I actually love all little local businesses. Something about supporting the small guy makes me feel like I’m giving back in a small way.

Next up, 90 minutes of yoga on a grassy cliff overlooking the ocean.

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What. An. Experience. About 150 people took time out of their Saturday morning to show up and bask in the zen (and sun) of outdoor yoga. The fact that so many strangers shared a common interest with me gave me this feeling of unity. Each of these 150 people valued something yoga has to offer enough that they dragged their butts out of bed and to the beach for exercise. Additionally, there was no charge to participate. The program is donation based. I don’t know why it’s so difficult for me to wrap my mind around this concept. Enough people honor their practice of yoga and well-being that this program is possible, solely dependent upon donations. Amazing and so inspiring.

Aside from all that, every yogi should do beach yoga at some point in their life. Yoga is already my time to clear my head, focus on my breathing and my practice, and frankly, to enjoy time to myself. But being outside in that atmosphere took things to a whole new level. While in savasana, or corpse pose, I closed my eyes and concentrated on taking in my surroundings via auditory perception alone. I wanted to remember that moment long after it would be gone. A secret place I could go to in my head later on. I remember hearing the palm fronds dancing in the wind. There were birds chirping cheerfully somewhere close by, singing sweet songs of freedom. The ocean was just distant enough that the waves rolling in sounded more like wind rushing by my ears. Somewhere off in the distant you could hear children’s shrieks of laughter and pure enjoyment. I remember feeling the sun trying to penetrate through my eyelids, warming every inch of my skin like a sauna. But I wasn’t hot. The wind balanced the sun’s heat perfectly. It was like this pure moment wrapped up like a gift with a big bow on it just for me.
After yoga, we decided we’d rent beach cruisers and go for a bike ride. We stopped when we passed a place that looked intriguing and had a beer or an appetizer. We went where the wind blew us.

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Sunset was at 7 PM so we grabbed chips and salsa to-go from a taco shop. We went back to the yoga cliff and laid out a towel and snacked and sipped on a bottle of wine we packed with us while watching the sky go from pale blue to bright yellow and then slowly to a deeper and deeper orange until finally the sun was red like a ruby red grapefruit and barely visible on the horizon. Naturally, I had to take in the beauty and the opportunity to do a fun yoga pose with God’s canvas as my backdrop.

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Once again, many strangers had the same idea as us. They gathered with their children or dogs (and some alone) to watch the sunset. There’s just something about that that really hits me. There’s something to be said about “beach life.” People stop and smells the roses, so to speak. They slow down for a bit and appreciate simple pleasures in life. When is the last time you’ve had “watch the sunset” penciled in on your agenda? My husband isn’t even out of the office early enough on weekdays to see the sun set.
After the sun set, we headed back to our hotel for a much needed night’s rest. We were up with the birds Sunday morning. We found another local cafe, RJ’s. While waiting to be seated we walked to a nearby local juice shop and I treated myself to another fresh green juice. Then, we indulged in a delicious breakfast of biscuits and gravy, pancakes, eggs and potatoes with cheap coffee. I love cheap restaurant coffee out of tiny mugs. I don’t know why, but it makes my heart happy. During breakfast, we decided we were going to rent paddle boards before starting our trek home. Best decision. We had a blast while getting in a really good full body workout. I may want my own now…

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We turned in paddle boards after a couple hours and then it was time to head home. We had a jam packed weekend of fun, so for that reason I was ready to get home and rest. But it was definitely bittersweet leaving such a beautiful place knowing we would also be leaving behind the peace we found while there.
So, here I am. Back at home in central California trying to figure out how I can replicate the peace of mind I had while down south. I have finished three DIY projects, painted my daughter’s room, made two loaves of homemade bread, attended a few yoga classes, bought myself a new dress, and here I am. Something is still missing.
I’ve decided I need to find what makes me happy and leaves my soul at ease anywhere I am. I need to find the hypothetical beach yoga and sunset of Fresno.
And I shall document my journey… starting by focusing more on the now and less on tomorrow. I will bridge the gap between more and enough. I will practice gratitude for all the things I already have and accept new things without expectations.

 

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Meet my new boyfriend, Yoga.

“When we were finally finished, I was lying in a pool of my own sweat. Yet I remember feeling truly happy and free for the first time in my life. My mind cleared, my breathing deepened, a soft smile crossed my lips, and a pulsing sensation arose in the base of my spine and traveled all the way up to the top of my head. My soul seemed to have an answer to questions it had been asking for years. My heart felt at home in my own skin.” – Kino MacGregor in the introduction of her book The Power of Ashtanga Yoga. I hadn’t even gotten to page one and it was as if the author was writing about my first experience with yoga.

I’ve had multiple friends inquire about my interest in yoga recently since posting a few pictures of goals I’ve accomplished on Facebook. Questions like how I got started, why I got started, where I practice, what programs I follow, etc. It’s funny because not too long ago I was asking someone else those same questions.

I tell them, I started yoga ultimately because I was drawn to the poses. I was in gymnastics when I was younger and was very flexible. Back then, had I been introduced to yoga, I’m confident there wouldn’t have been many poses I couldn’t do. As I approach the big 30, I guess you could say I’m having a mini midlife crisis. I’ve always made fitness and health a priority so yoga was initially intended to be another outlet for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I started out attending a yoga class my gym offers once a week. I liked it. It was pretty basic coming in as a beginner. I quickly picked up the basic beginner poses like warrior I,II, and III, down and upward facing dog, plank and so on. Pretty much anything with both feet on the ground, I was good to go. But after a few weeks, I wanted more. I needed more challenge. I skipped going to class for a couple weeks. When I went back, it was like the instructor had read my mind. She finally introduced new poses and pose modifications adding various degrees of difficulty. That was the first day I gave crane pose a try. Which looks something like this:

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At first, I was shocked that I was even able to get my feet off the ground. Then, I heard the instructor say, “and for those of you who want more challenge, try tapping your toes together.” About that time, I leaned a little too far forward and almost collided face first with the wood floor. Fortunately, I have catlike reflexes (I’m a mom, I have to) and was able to catch myself with a loud “thud!” of my hand meeting the floor first. Thought to myself, well… that was embarrassing. But I’ve learned it takes falling to learn to keep your balance. So, I tried again playing it a little safer the second time. Later that week, I practiced the crane pose at home. Next time in class, I held it the entire 30 seconds. Then, mentally patted myself on the back. It was such a rewarding feeling to have accomplished what seemed impossible a week earlier. From there, I moved onto handstand poses. This one to be specific:

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Eventually, I started going to yoga at my gym twice a week. The second class was taught by a different instructor and I was pleasantly surprised I liked her better. She put even more variety into her class. She also brought more to the table than just poses and a work out. She taught breathing and posture, and sort of introduced the spirituality of yoga; being present and focusing your attention to that moment. She explained, nothing that happened earlier that day or anything that may happen in the future is as important as the moment at hand. It was then that I took the most away from practicing yoga. I have a very busy mind and yoga calmed it. I felt any stress and anxiety from the day melt away as if being pushed out with every exhale. With every inhale, I imagined breathing in happiness, love and contentment. I left class feeling lighter. Each breath came and went easier. My mind was more at ease instead of pacing through the day’s events. There really are so many benefits to yoga aside from toning your body.

I have since set goals for flexibility and poses I’d like to accomplish. I researched getting certified to become an instructor, only to learn it would cost me an arm and leg (so that will have to wait just a bit.) I decided I’d self teach. I went to my local library and checked out as many books as I could find relating to yoga and clean eating. I also downloaded an app on my phone which I have since recommended to a few people. It’s called All-in Yoga. It’s $3.99 (and I rarely pay for apps) but has been the best investment. Since my son started soccer, I haven’t been to yoga at the gym in three weeks. That’s just unacceptable. This app has 45 different programs so you can practice yoga at home. It breaks the classes down by level, goal, and duration. Some days I pick a class focused on balance. Some days I go with flexibility/stretching. I like to mix it up and this app is perfect for that. It also has a ridiculous amount of poses and a short video showing you how to do the pose. Great for beginners!

If yoga interests you even to the smallest degree, try it! Don’t be afraid of embarrassing yourself because you’re not familiar with poses. Chances are, if you’re going to a beginner class, you are not the only first timer in there. In fact, 90% of the classes I’ve gone to the instructor asks who is new in the class. Take that opportunity to look around and realize you’re not alone! Additionally, most instructors will tell you which pose to do next and then describe how to move your body to get into that pose. Eventually, you’ll become familiar with the names and find yourself getting into the right position on your own. Lastly, practice practice practice! Don’t be discouraged when your body gives you a gentle reminder that you’re no longer as flexible as you once were. You can get back there. Yoga is excellent for stretching and using your body weight to build muscle. You’ll be long and lean in no time!

Yoga has become near and dear to me so I love that I am able to share my experiences and also that I have inspired friends to give it a try. I hope to be able to follow you on your journey as well!

And an ending blurb from the book previously mentioned that is really inspiring to me, “The practice of yoga is a decision to believe in yourself against all odds. It is a choice you make to walk down a self-empowering path toward your own liberation from suffering. As you train your mind to remain steadfast, you unravel cycles of misery and follow a path that leads toward true freedom.”

Categories: healthy eating | 1 Comment

Cilantro-Lime Shrimp Tacos with Mango-corn salsa (and way TMI on my upside down week)

It has taken me entirely too long to get this post written and posted. The most bizarre things have been happening in my household lately. Last Friday I learned we have adopted a new family member. Not something you just learn overnight, right? We like to call him Stuart Little. He’s little and brown with a long creepy, hairless tail. We had been debating adopting a new family member, only we were thinking of something more in the form of a dog… not a mouse. So, the mouse ran past my toes in the bathroom and straight into my nicely sized walk-in closet. After squealing like a lunatic (attracting both my children and dog to the bathroom) and sitting on the toilet with my feet raised for an inexcusable amount of time, I closed the closet door and put a towel down at the crack where the door meets the 1 inch gap before the floor.

Next up: Home Depot. Not only did I buy way too many sticky mouse traps, I decided I’d buy bug bombs too. Let’s not even discuss the size of the black widow my husband killed in the garage a couple weeks ago. And on that note, I feel like I should add, I swear I don’t have a dirty house. It just so happens we live in a house surrounded by fields. I hear that is to blame for the mice. As for the spiders… well that’s just a good ole benefit to living in California. Back to Stuart Little. We set up like 4 traps in the closet. Saturday morning we found a tiny little footprint where he stepped down and said, “hey, this may be a bad idea. I think I’ll pull my toes off and head back to camp and roast some s’mores instead.” So, we added peanut butter in hopes of luring him back. Day two: still no Stuart. So, I sent my husband and dog into the closet to force him to surrender. Joke was on us. That turd was gone. Nowhere to be found. Basically, we’re now six days in and he’s MIA. Which is far more unsettling than believing he was trapped in my closet. I even avoided going in my closet for clothes until today. (I finally ran out of shirts in my dresser.) What’s even more pathetic, I took my son to a doctor’s appointment Friday with no social security number on his paperwork and explained to the receptionist that Stuart Little was in my closet (along with the card) and they were going to have to see him without that information. She looked at me like I had lost my mind but they were still able to see us. Thank goodness. Positive my husband would have never let me live that down.

In addition to our new addition, our one year old boxer, Ellie, has convinced herself there will be more additions to our family. Have you ever in your life heard of female dogs having “false pregnancies?” Well, friends… it is a real thing. About the time Stuart so rudely introduced himself, Ellie had started to become withdrawn. She sleeps all day. All day. She’s even started carrying around her toys and some of the kids’ toys as if they’re her babies. The worst part? She’s already a temperamental dog… now she’s become aggressive. Women… Before I realized what was going on with her, I called up a trainer and made arrangements to start a training session this Sunday. Now, I have to decide if we should still pursue training with her acting like a weirdo.

I don’t even know which way is up at this point. I’ve got a mouse in my house and a crazy dog thinking toys are her babies.

Earlier this week we missed soccer practice in order for my 3 and 4 year old to meet their teachers. (This will be my daughter’s first year in preschool and my son’s first year in transitional kindergarten. As a parent (and child), that’s a pretty big deal.) Not only did we miss soccer, I missed my yoga class. Prior to this week, practice was at 6:30pm and my husband and I were doing a sort of tag team. I’d take our son to soccer and stay until he arrived to tag me out and then head to yoga. I have since been informed that soccer is now Monday and Wednesday at 7pm. Same. Time. As. Yoga. Yup, my luck. Buuuut, our tag team could still afford me the opportunity to make it to yoga, right? Not anymore. I found out today that my dearest husband will now be working until 7pm every night. Goodbye yoga, hello grumpy mom.

This is where I give advice I’m still learning to accept myself. Regardless of how crazy your life becomes at times, still make time for yourself and exercise. Tomorrow, instead of watching Kelly and Michael while sipping hot coffee (and finishing it while it’s STILL hot), I will head to the gym. I may also finally try out an at home yoga video. Who knows, maybe I’ll like it better than the instructors I’ve been going to.

Now, for the good stuff. Food. More specifically, shrimp. Shrimp are bottom feeders and that weirds some people out (cough, my husband, cough) but what most people don’t know is that they are an unusually concentrated source of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient called astaxanthin. So, why not throw them in a taco and call it a day? Below are my recipes for shrimp tacos and a delicious mango-corn salsa for topping.

For the mango-corn salsa you’ll need:

3 ears of corn, grilled

2 mangoes, cut into bite size pieces

3/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

2 jalapenos, chopped- seeds and ribs removed

2 garlic cloves, minced

juice of 1 lime

salt to taste

optional: before putting the ears of corn on the grill  season each with your preferred spices. I chose cumin for a smokey flavor, Pico Limon for heat, and salt because… well everything tastes better with a little salt.

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Start by seasoning the corn (if you prefer) and putting them directly on the grill over medium heat. Once they have some grill marks, remove from grill and then cut the kernels off into a bowl. From there, add all of your other ingredients and stir it up… little darlin’ stir it up. Like Bob Marley because every little thing is going to be alright. Anyway, cover salsa and place in the fridge until you’re ready to dig in.

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For the tacos you’ll need:

1/2 lb shrimp

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbs cilantro, chopped

3 tbs taco seasoning

1/4 tsp salt

dash of red pepper flakes (optional depending on your spice preference)

juice of 1 lime

corn tortillas

Marinate for at least 30 minutes

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You’ll saute the shrimp in skillet over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Be sure the shrimp are not overlapping. They are finished when they have turned bright pink and the flesh is opaque white, rather than translucent.

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While the shrimp are cooking up, in a smaller skillet over medium heat warm your corn tortillas one at a time. Use a little non-stick cooking spray. About a minute on each side or until they turn a little golden.

Once your shrimp and tortillas are ready scoop in some shrimp, mango-corn salsa and hot sauce. Enjoy!

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 Stay tuned for updates on Stuart Little.

Categories: healthy eating, soccer mom | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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