Survey Thursday – Learn About Me!

Today I’ll be taking part in Survey Thursday. After getting some more followers – THANK YOU – I felt it may be helpful to answer some basic questions about me…so tune in (or tune out) for some things about me!

A is for Age: I’m 23 – Born January 3rd – proud Capricorn!IMG_4357

B is for Breakfast: I had a bowl of oatmeal (soaked overnight in greek yogurt) with chia and flax seeds, some raisins, and a little maple syrup. I also had a kiwi, strawberry, blueberry, kale, and banana smoothie with a scoop of Universal Greens.

C is for Current Craving: Sleep…I had a little too much wine last night. Umm, but I think that some Mac & Cheese sounds really good!

D is for Dinner Tonight: I’m going on a father-daughter date tonight, but planning on cooking up some chia seed noodles with asparagus and zucchini.

E is for Favorite Type of Exercise: Adventure sports – I like to play outside – hiking, biking, swimming…just get me outdoors! But I also love yoga and I’m starting to get into running.

F is for Irrational Fear: Someone slicing my Achilles’ tendon when I’m walking down stairs that are open (especially in apartment complexes) or from underneath my car…

G is for Gross Food: Mushrooms, olives, artichokes. I tryyyyyy but they are just so mushy. I also dislike artificial sweeteners, artificial fruit flavors, and ribs.

H is for Hometown: Washington, D.C. – best city in the USA!

I is for Something Important: My family <3 They are my rocks.

J is for Current Jam:  Wild Child – The Doors

K is for Kids: I don’t have any, but am looking forward to a few little rug-rats in the future.

L is for Current Location: At work, in Kalamazoo, MI.

M is for the Most Recent Way you Spent Your Money: A nice dinner out with a lovely lady friend of mine…had two bottles of wine, an antipasto platter, and a delicious chop salad…high price, but higher quality – so it was worth it.

N is for Something You Need: A good yoga session.

O is for Occupation: Communication and Operations Specialist at an herbal supplement company called Universal Formulas.

P is for Pet Peeve: I don’t really have many pet peeves…nothing seriously bothers me…but I guess…I get really irritated when people make an ad hominem argument…discuss the issue, not the person.

Q is for Quote: “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I ended up where I needed to be.” – Douglas Adams

R is for Random Fact About You: I am not a Democrat…despite what everyone presumes when they meet me. I do not identify with any political party.

S is for Favorite Healthy Snack: Cashews with dried cherries

T is for Favorite Treat: Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Health Bar Crunch

U is for something that makes you Unique: My upbringing…from a very diverse religious background and I’ve seen a lot, but never left the country. I feel cultured, yet there is so much more for me to explore and experience.

V is for Favorite Vegetable: Peppers…especially bell.

W is for Workout: I ran 3 miles yesterday, did some kettle bell exercises, and cooled down with some restorative yoga poses (should have done more).

X is for X-rays you’ve had: Ankle, back/neck/spine, brain (CT/MRI) scans.

Y is for Yesterday’s Highlight: So many highlights – great networking opportunity with the MISBTDC, met some awesome people and learned a lot about social media…cleaned my apartment after work…went for a run (first time in two weeks, so that was great!)…walked to dinner with my girlfriend. It was a great day…but they all are!

Z is for Time Zone: Eastern StandardIMG_3931

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Chia seeds, back pain, & graduating

I am hurting today. Yesterday, around noon, I just got a horrible migraine and neck ache  I thought it could be from poor diet (a little too much sugar for the past week)…maybe not doing yoga (haven’t been in the studio in a week, but have been doing some at home)…or from staring at this computer screen too much? Not really sure…but I do know that I hurt, my eyes hurt…it hurts to move my eyes in any direction…so that isn’t cool. I was hoping to get a massage before I graduate tomorrow, but both massage therapists that I trust are out of town and my mom is too busy. I may just take an epsom salt bath, drink lots of water, and do some deep breathing and HOPE that it will go away later today or tomorrow morning – as I have a BUSY Saturday and want to enjoy it!

I’ve been trying to work on budgeting and this month, I have spent over $600 on food (half going out, and half on groceries)…so this week, I’ve been attempting to live modestly. My trail mix has been helping – and sales on greek yogurt made breakfast pretty cheap too. As I bought chia seeds and other bulk goodies – I made a yogurt parfait – which was sooo good. It also helps with sweet cravings (because it is sweet)…and also has inspired me to make my own yogurt (which I’ll be doing next week, so be on the look out for that post)!

IMG_6864Base is Chobani Blueberry Greek Yogurt. It was my first time having Chobani (they were on sale at the PFC for 85 cents…so I went for it)…I added some walnuts, slivered almonds, chia seeds, raisins, and granola (from my trail mix recipe in the post below) and then threw a few frozen strawberries (because I didn’t have any fresh fruit) and ate up! It was tasty and once I start making my own yogurt (my mom already does) – I’ll be eating this way more often. Yummm.

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Tomorrow is the day I finally graduate college. After 4 years at Western Michigan University, I’m happy to be a bronco graduating with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Sociology and Organizational Communication (double major), Magna Cum Laude, a member of two honors societies, and a member of a wonderful community. Kalamazoo, Michigan is home to this great university, Kalamazoo College, and KVCC – three great academic opportunities for all types of people (not to mention of Kalamazoo Center for the Healing Arts, and other trade schools). I am looking forward to my opportunities in graduate school and hope that, one day, I am able to teach at a university like WMU.

So needless to say, I’m slightly stressed out and going through some major life changes. I didn’t realize that I was this stressed about graduating – I mean, I’ve been working since I was 16…living alone for a while now, and take pretty good care of myself. But I also, for 4 years, have been writing papers, doing research, going to class, walking around on campus, and enjoying a distraction from the work day – but it is all ending right NOW. All of a sudden, it was April and it was time to complete a 35-page final program design, a final personal analysis, and a 23 minute group presentation. All this while trying to heal my body, focus on my own growth, start working full-time, and coming to terms with the years of relationship turmoil I put myself through.

As this weekend rolls around, I’m doing my best to stay stress free. Deep breathing, eating nutritious food, and laughter are the biggest stress relievers for me. I get stressed with time schedules and budgets – for I’m starting to make some major living decisions and need to budget and schedule showings, etc. On top of my desire to enjoy the beautiful mother nature – I am stuck behind a computer screen for 8 hours a day…and I need to find a way to ensure that it doesn’t drain my energy. But with all this said, I’ve got to head to my parents house for dinner with my grandparents (in town to celebrate me!) and I’m so excited to see them!

Until next time, love yourself & others <3

 

Cleansing Complete…& the next adventure is…?

Friday was the last day of my Bepure cleanse – so this weekend was a celebratory weekend and I had a great time!

I noticed that I’m still having more energy than I had before I started cleansing – which is great! My body is feeling healthy and alive – not just being…but actually being able to feel well – which is such a blessing. I feel very thankful that I have the ability to be a healthy person, eat good food, and surround myself with people who have the same desire as me – to support food justice, healthy living, and a holistic approach to life in general.

On the last day of the cleanse (Friday), I went to the Annual Owner’s Meeting for the People’s Food Coop and had a blast! I helped them with some of the cooking, so the taco bar was even more delightful knowing that I had shredded 6 pounds of cheese, zested 60 limes, and minced 4 pounds of garlic (as well as other tasks) to make our veggie taco bar happen! Also, I had a delightful dessert treat of raw macaroons (which I didn’t make, but I will eat all the TIME). So delicious looking…right? And it has prompted me to go buy some shredded coconut and enjoy it in my oatmeal, smoothies…or maybe with some dark chocolate.

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And here is my Monday morning breakfast – after a Sunday full of unhealthy food…

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I’ll give you a little rundown on that. So Saturday night, my first day being off the cleansing “diet” (more like a lifestyle, which I will continue with) – I went out to a show and had a few whiskey waters. Then, around 1am, my best friend and I decided to go to a local restaurant and have a late dinner or an early breakfast – so I decided to treat myself to a plate of chicken fingers and french fries. It was so delicious, but I felt hung over in the morning (so I won’t be making that a habit). After waking up and going for a good hour and a half walk, I decided to stop a coffee shop and treat myself to a little caffeine. I enjoyed a double Americano with a splash of half & half…and a blueberry muffin because the top was covered in sugar and SCREAMING my name. Now, luckily here in Kalamazoo, our coffee shops bake their own pastries (so it was made locally, using pretty good quality ingredients) and organic coffee – so I think it is okay. But my dinner last night, after 5 hours in the library working on my final project presentation, wasn’t so good. I had a Vito from Jimmy John’s – consisting of salami, capicola, provolone,  Italian vinaigrette  and iceberg lettuce – all on some highly processed white bread – but it tasted so good.

Needless to say, I didn’t eat the best on Sunday, but it was a good end to a great cleanse and I’m ready for spring to be here (because it SNOWED yesterday in MI…but then it was 60 by midday). I’m getting ready to end my semester and graduate college – wooo! Very exciting, but before that happens, I’m heading to Denver, CO for a 72 hour vacation with one of my best friends.

I’ll update this later this week, with some updates on how I’m feeling after being done cleansing for awhile. I can already tell you that I’ll be having a little caffeine today to ensure that I’m on top of my game for my final presentation after work today. Soon enough, I won’t have to worry about classes anymore and hopefully get into a more stable routine, and then find a house to buy – but we will see! One day at a time.

Until next time – love yourself and others <3

Juicing, Jogging, & Joyful Living

For the past month or so, I have been doing volunteer work at the People’s Food Coop. I attend their cooking classes, take pictures, and tweet about them to help spread the word of these awesome cooking classes and the Can-Do Kitchen. Last night was the Get Juiced! class – where we juiced it up. I had attended this class back in January, when my ex and I were thinking about incorporating a juice bar into his brewery (the juice isn’t happening, but the beer is, and I’m not involved anymore). So, I have memories of going to juice bars as a kid and ALWAYS ordering watermelon and cucumber juice – yum – but I learned that I could probably just make that in a blender…so until I invest in a juicer, I’ll be blending whatever I can.

I’ve done a lot of research on juicers and as soon as I get my housing situation figured out (I’m hoping to own a home by mid-summer) I’m buying the best juicer that I can afford. I’m thinking of this Omega juicer – and maybe, with graduation gifts, I’ll be making that purchase soon! So anyways…here are the juice recipes we made last night:

JuicingRecipesThere were delicious! And they all turned out great – as expected. The class was a small one but had a lot of great energy! I love going in there and meeting new people, who all share something in common: supporting local, eating better, and living a holistic lifestyle. For me, I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to serve the community. I’m going back tonight to help prep some food for the Annual Owner’s Meeting on Friday! It should be a good time. So, this is what I wore last night, as I thought it may be ironic:

IMG_3626So before this juicing class, but after work, I went on a nice 2 mile run with my best friend. I have been running alone, but it felt good to run with someone else. He definitely kept me motivated and pushed me to do a little sprinting. The teacher of the juicing class is starting to train for a half marathon so we may try to run together. It makes me nervous to think about running with someone that has so much experience but…I wouldn’t mind trying to run a half marathon next year – that would be an epic goal! Also…after the run yesterday, we did a good 1/2 mile walk cool down and a little stretching – but not as much as I usually do…and I can feel it today. I’m definitely going to have to do some nice yoga stretches throughout the day so I can get back out there tomorrow!

After our run, I heated up some of my chicken broth and some matzoh balls – yumm – and I could eat this every day. It is such a comfort food but also full of nutrients – just add a big salad and it is the perfect dinner! My soup was smiling at me, and I smiled right back at it, and smiled inward to my soul.

IMG_3619So cute :) and delicious – I think what made these matzoh balls to flavorful was that I used chicken fat as my oil, instead of olive oil. I also added some dried basic and thyme to the mixture – so those herbs help boost the flavor.

Let’s see…what else is going on in my life? I quit smoking cigarettes, after…wow…7 years of light/moderate smoking…I’ll share this story quickly. I tried my first cigarette as a freshman in high school. A friend told me that if I didn’t try it, she’d kick me out of her house…so I caved and tried it – and it was DISGUSTING. But a few months later, and after all my friends started smoking, I just picked up the habit. I was never really “addicted” – I never smoked at work, or at breaks from school (even once I got to college) – it was mostly just when I drove or when I was around my friends…but still, any smoking has consequences on the body. So, for years, I said that I was going to quit by the time I graduated college and I’ve lived up to the goal (and I’m early)! I quit smoking in February and, as of TODAY, haven’t smoked a cigarette in 8 weeks! I’m feeling great and don’t even crave them anymore. The first few weeks after quitting, I had a pretty bad cough and lots of phlegm  That has settled down, but since I was congested last week, I feel like this cleanse is pushing out the rest of those toxins from smoking – as I’m still having some phlegm (but now it is clear, instead of dark brown). Studies show that after 12 weeks, your lungs heal themselves and go back to the healthy tissue of a non-smoker – so I’m 4 weeks away, and maybe then I’ll be running like a pro…either way, I’m happy I quit, and I will NEVER again smoke a cigarette.

I’m on Day 19 of the Bepure Cleanse and I’m feeling pretty good! I could have used a lot more sleep last night, got about 7 1/2 hours – but I feel like I could sleep all day long. Maybe it is the rainy/dreary weather? Perhaps. I’ve got class after work, before more volunteering at the PFC…so I hope I can get some energy before the rest of my long day drags and after doing some cooking at the coop, I’ll be joining a few lovely ladies for some wine at my favorite Wednesday restaurant – Webster’s (they have a blog too!).

Until next time, stay pure, stay happy, and love everyone, especially yourself. <3

 

 

Chicken Stock, Chilly Days, & Cleansing

Well, today is Day 17 of my spring cleanse and I’m feeling much better! Last week, I had a case of the sniffles…and congestion, and well…it sucked. I don’t get sick often, but I also feel like the cleanse may have been pushing toxins out of my body – and they came out in the form of mucus and nasal congestion. I didn’t have a cough, fever, fatigue, or anything else that usually comes along with colds/flu. So, I took care of myself and made some homemade chicken stock (I’ll show you my recipe and a few photos further into this post).

I hate to admit this, but I’m going to…I haven’t been as dedicated to a strict cleansing diet, such as my diet last year, and I have a few reasons for this. Last year, when I did the Bepure cleanse, I made a HUGE diet change, but since then, my diet has kept pretty clean so I didn’t feel like I had major changes to make. Sure, I cut out caffeine, processed foods, most added sugar, and white bread – but it wasn’t that hard for me, because I try to keep those things out of my diet anyways. Sometimes I have a white bun on a cheeseburger, but I only eat at restaurants that use organic and/or local ingredients – so we’re talking high quality whole foods – which is my diet. However, I do think that I could have done a little more – perhaps go completely vegetarian during the cleanse – but in my little kitchen, with my busy schedule, I didn’t have as much time and space to prepare, as I wish I would have. So, even though my diet didn’t change a ton (okay, I’ve had a little dark chocolate…but it was fair trade and organic) I’m still feeling great about the cleansing experience and I hope you did too!

Late last week, maybe Thursday, but maybe Friday, I talked to one of Universal Formulas’ customers about her cleansing diet. She was asking what I recommend, what I cut out, and how hard is it…so of course, I’m honest. It can be very hard to cut out things that we have been consuming for years and years. Soda, candy, white flour, and caffeine are the hardest. Not only are these so prevalent in our society, but they are also addictive. It is hard to avoid something that EVERYWHERE you go, you are surrounded by. I’ll share my personal story about this:

Saturday night, I stayed at my parents house. Now, my parents have always instilled in me the idea of holistic living, preventative health, and support local foods. You can read about that in my other blog posts…but Saturday was a different story. My parents got home late on Friday from a vacation and just planned on lounging around the house and watching the Michigan game on Saturday (Go BLUE!!!) so I decided to stay out there and hang out with them. My mom and I went to the local grocery store together and I had a hard time finding ANYTHING to eat. I settled on some sugar snap peas, a kiwi, a grapefruit, and some horseradish to go on matzoh. Nothing was available organic but I caved because I was hungry, and my mom wasn’t making anything more diet friendly. When we were checking out, my mom said she was so proud of me for not giving in to the aisles and aisles of crappy food that I could have chosen ..but I didn’t, because I feel better when I eat healthy – so healthy eating is my lifestyle…this isn’t a diet.

Which brings me back to my discussion with this customer…I reminded her that it isn’t about what CAN’T have, or DON’T need, it is about what you CAN have and what you DO need. Every person in this entire world NEEDS nutrients. So make cleansing about what you are adding into your diet, what you are getting more of, instead of focusing on what you can’t have – and I PROMISE that it will make life easier.

So, back to my chicken stock exploration. So I was reminded of my first error this morning – I forgot to add apple cider vinegar to the stock – which helps to leach out nutrients…so I’ll definitely be adding that next time. Here are my steps: buy a local, whole 2 1/2 lb chicken (I got Otto’s chicken at $1.49/lb from the People’s Food Coop) and cut it up – it doesn’t have to be super pretty, because, well it is getting cooked and only the meat is taken off the bone, so you aren’t actually serving the chicken on the bone or in certain cuts.

After you get it cut up, add all the chicken parts (especially the neck and feet, but mine didn’t come with the feet) into a stock pot and fill with water. I covered the chicken with water, and added about 4 cups more (okay, I didn’t measure, I just poured it in until I thought it was enough) and then I added some celery stocks and tops (the tops are the most important, so every time you get celery, keep the leaves for your next stock!), a red onion (I used red because I don’t really like onion, and thought it may help make the stock pretty), a few carrots, salt & pepper, and a sprig of parsley. I kept it pretty simple – as you can add a lot more of things, especially herbs, but for my first time, I thought simple was best. So here is what my stock pot was filled with:

IMG_6817Then, the next step is to bring the stock to a boil – which took about 35 minutes, and then skim off the foamy/frothy stuff on the topIMG_6823

…and then to turn back down to simmer for as long as you want – I did this for about 8 hours. So, quickly, let me explain what simmering is (because I just thought it meant a low heat) but it is about a gradual reduction in your burner heat, leaving a small, boiling stream in the center of the pan. So, after it is boiling, reduce the heat a little, and then a little more, and a little more, until you barely have a flame, but you still have those little boiling bubbles in the center (took me about 15 minutes of temperature adjusting to get to a simmer). So simmer away and start to notice the comforting aroma of chicken soup surround your kitchen (and my house, because my apartment is so tiny).

After you’ve let it cook however long you want, drain out the liquid into appropriate bowls/containers (glass for your fridge, good and BPA free plastic for the freezer). I actually made more than expected and had to run to the store to get more containers as my fridge is now overflowing with homemade chicken stock. I bought some Made in the USA, freezer safe, and BPA free large plastic storage containers – so I’ll be freezing a good amount, and keeping little jar full in my fridge (giving some to friends, some will be used for matzoh ball soup that I’m making after work today).

IMG_6836At the bottom of the stock pot, you’ll have all the non liquid ingredients left – so your cooked chicken, some mushy celery/carrots/onions. So, now it is time to save this chicken meat. Literally, it FALLS OFF THE BONE. And it is so juicy and tasty that I just wanted to eat it all right away. But, after discussion with my mom, I’m going to make some enchiladas and freeze them for quick meals (I’ll share when I get around to doing that) and freeze some shredded meat for anything in the future, as well as make some chicken noodle soup and freeze it. So I think my chicken meat will fill many empty stomachs in the near future, and remember this was all for $1.49/lb.

IMG_6832Which brings me to my next point…I will, NEVER again, buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Yes, they are easy to prepare but they are EXPENSIVE. Clocking in around $6.50/lb for a good quality, local chicken breast – I just can’t do it. From now on, if I want chicken, I’ll be buying the whole chicken, cutting out the breasts to use for whatever reason, or just making this stock and keep the shredded chicken for whatever I want. Also, you can roast the whole chicken, eat it, and then use the bones and extras for making a stock (fewer nutrients, but still a great way to use as much of the chicken as you can)! So, in other words, if you are afraid of using a whole chicken, just do it! It is so worth it and I’m excited to make my matzoh ball soup tonight and give some stock to friends. Also, I will never buy canned soup or boxed broth again. Here is to eating healthy, supporting local, and being economical!

Now, as I finish up the last week of cleansing, I add in the Restore formula – and rebalance my digestive system. I’ll continue without caffeine, sugar, and processed foods (and will continue with that even after the cleanse). I hadn’t done yoga in the studio last week, as I don’t think it would be a pretty sight with a runny nose (or easy to do yoga breathing, using your nose for inhales and exhales) but I’m feeling better and will be attending tonight – I can’t wait! You know something is an important part of your daily routine if you really miss it when you aren’t practicing, and oh, I miss it. Running is going well – so I’m keeping up with that and hopefully will have some updates later on about races I ran, or major milestones I hit! Currently, I’m running just over a 10 minute mile – averaging about 2.5 miles per run – so a drastic increase is up and coming, I can feel it!

Until next time – stay pure <3