Summer Book Club- The Ultimate Guide

A well-read woman is a dangerous creature- Lisa Kleypas (but it is also a form of meditation, a get-away, a way to connect with others and understand perspectives)

My June intention was to read more and, boy, did I. I read so much that I forgot to stop and write about it. The culmination of this month was to also start a book club with my girlfriends and they did NOT disappoint.

Recommended Books

5 STARS Thriller/Mystery (from the first chapter to the last sentence)

A Stranger in The House by Shari Lapena was my first experience with this author, but it only took me one chapter to realize how much I enjoyed her writing. I was at the beach with a friend while reading this book, and my gasps, comments and eagerness to finish this book made her desperate to read it as well. I read this twisty mystery in just 4 days and passed it along to 3 other friends who also couldn’t put it down.

Knowing I really enjoyed Shari Lapena’s writing style, I searched for more of her books. I downloaded “The Couple Next Door” on audible and have enjoyed the discoveries, confessions, and suspense of this book just as much.

4 Stars ( probably would have been 5 Stars if I were still on the beach reading)
5 STARS (I didn’t see any of it coming)

Delia Owens’, Where the Crawdads Sing, is such a wonderful read about a young girl who fights through abandonment, heartbreak, forgiveness, and abuse. All the while, an investigation of a high school star athlete hovers over the small North Carolina town. This book has been passed to two of my colleagues that have highly recommended it as well.

4 STARS

This month’s Book Club Book was chosen with the help of Reese Witherspoon’s book club “hello sunshine– she hasn’t let me down, yet. Thank you Reese.

This story hit a cord for every One of us in our book club in a different way. The themes in this book include motherhood (all the different kinds), girls growing up/coming of age, family dynamics, race, class and love/heartbreak. It follows four different families with contrasting lives and circumstances. The different turning points are brought to a crescendo. We were all disappointed in the ending because so much was left to our own assumptions. It didn’t close up in a nice little bow, but the overlapping storylines made for a intriguing read.

A memoir for the FAN

I have been a fan of the podcast “My Favorite Murder” for over a year. when I found out that Karen and Georgia were writing a book- and Paul Giamatti was reading sections of their audio book- I HAD to read it. It was a quick read, and the audiobook made me feel even closer to my friends from the podcast. This book gives fans an even deeper insight, making you feel even closer to them. They are advocates for true #selfcare and make their journey with therapy a very ‘normal’ and much needed part of a healthy lifestyle.

Self Help

Brene Brown has become a true idol for me- and a personal therapist. Her words of wisdom, storytelling, and ‘real’ reactions to life have helped me with my anxiety and perfectionism. This book was recommended to me by my actual therapist, and it has allowed me to embrace the ‘wholehearted’ idea. It has also helped me connect more with my children, open up even more with friends, have compassion for myself, and courage to be imperfect. It is a journey, and her words help.

Book club the Right Way

This book club was a first for three of us, and I wanted to make it fit our style. So. ..Each member of the club drew the name of 2 characters from the book. With that, each person had to come with a DRINK and a FOOD/Appetizer that represented that character from the book.

I was the host for this first meeting, so I created the questions (thank you http://arlenesbookclub.com.

My friends went above and beyond to make this a club never to forget; Julia dressed in the century of the book – (while I dressed in Pajamas). Deanna researched and created a REAL lemon pie from the town in Cleveland along with a Moody Blues shot that rocked my world. Courtney was the only other member of the group that has participated in an adult book club, and she said “this was the first time she was in a book club that actually talked about the book.”

So, all in all, it was a great night, AMAZING book and we enjoyed it so much we chose July’s book and the meeting date.

Join us for the July book – It’s Always the Husband by Michelle Campbell

Key to Happiness: Hygge Manifesto

“Danes are the happiest people in Europe according to the European Social Survey” (The Little Book of Hygge). Denmark is also known as one of the happiest countries in the world.  Why?  Hygge (pronounced   hoo-ga)

This month, I am on the journey of hyggestund – A moment of hygge- ‘well-being’ and happiness.  I plan on incorporating the 10 ideas of hygge in my life this month as I pursue a month of gratitude and savoring the simple pleasures in life.  In short, I plan on finding the happy. First, I must get my environment and mindset ready for a month of COZY!

1. Atmosphere

turn down the lights

use natural lighting (fireplace, windows, let the natural light in)

Use dim lighting (candles, lamps)

2. Presence

meditation of mindfulness

turning off my phone alarms

3. Be kind to yourself- give yourself a treat and give yourself a break

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Sun Salutation A

4. ‘We’ over ‘me’

Sharing tasks – cooking, laundry, cleaning

5. Gratitude 

show it to your tribe, co-workers, challengers, and self

say ‘Thank you’

Smile

journal

6. Harmony 

finding balance in your physical and mental health

find your Sparkle

Do everything with Passion

7. comfort

cozy blanket

warm bath

music

yoga pants

8. truce

End the fighting within yourself

leave the negative, the drama, and the hostility

9. Togetherness

Focus on your village, your tribe

Find time to build relationships, connect, and be together

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 reading nook

10. Nook- hyggekrog 

comfy space

So, my plan is to spend time outdoors gardening, hanging-out with my village, evenings with my family, Sundays working together on chores, and reading in my nook. I plan to Continue my yoga practice.

I am also going to start a macramé wall art project and prepare for an evening with my friends- outdoor fire, BBQ, TREATS, and being together.

All of this in the hopes to bring together all of my favorite things into 1 month of gratitude, well being, and HYGGE!

I hope you follow me on my journey this month. Please send me pictures of your HYGGE on Instagram. 

@omnivore2herbivore #hyggelife

Life: A Balancing Act?

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Balance is something that I struggle with EVERY SINGLE DAY!  I feel as if it is more of a trade off than a balancing act.  There are times I realize that I have been placing too much attention on my career and my marriage suffers.  Then, there are times that I am focused too much on myself, and my sons suffer.  I have come to the realization that Life is NOT a balancing act, but more of a give and take- even feeling like a tug-o-war sometimes.

I do have it all.

I have a wonderful marriage (a true partnership).
In my eyes, a successful career- one that keeps moving in the right direction.
Two great sons that remind me of what fun and true love really is every day.
Friends that celebrate, cheer and comfort me.

“Women can have it all- a successful career, happy marriage, and motherhood. It’sIMG_0024 not one or another. It’s about being able to fit it all in with stride. A strong woman can have all this because we were built for it.” – Strong by Kailin Gow

Being in the moment, present enough to celebrate the highlights is what I struggle with. I focus a lot of my attention on the future, my failures, and my NOW what- always have.

I have become a ‘To do List’ master.  My accomplishments come down to crossing off the task on the post-it note or scrap of paper.  Too many vision boards, too many bucket lists, too many things I would like to accomplish.

“To a chronic multitasker, everything is a task. Soon, the things in life that are really important to them are in the same list as everything else.” – Stephen R. Covey

This month my intention is on my yoga practice.  I have successfully taken time every single day this month (so far) to roll out my mat, taken time for me to be present and mindful in the moment.  At first, it was an item on my list- it has successfully become apart of my day, a routine, a habit.  I have realized my time on the mat is my practice of mindfulness, a time to slow down and appreciate ALL of the Moments of the day.

IMG_0020“We don’t need to strive towards balance, we rather need to work on the obstacles that are preventing the natural flow of balance.”- A.A. Alebraheem, When Life Makes Sense

I want to be a loving mother that prepares my sons for their lives.
I want to be a supportive, caring wife that is forgiving, understanding, and giving. 
I want to be a friend that motivates you, celebrates you, and cheers for you.
I want to be successful in my career; someone who is known for the impact that I am leaving. 

All of the obstacles that prevent me from believing that I am not any of those things messes with my equilibrium.  But, it is the time that I spend in reflection, the time I spend on the mat that helps me analyze all of my failures and successes equally.  I am given just enough time to realize what is important at the moment, push aside everything else that doesn’t matter and focus in on my priorities. Yoga gives me a peace of mind.

“We cannot find balance because it’s a continual action with ongoing adjustments, just like the tightrope walker who constantly moves.” – Tina Hallis, Sharpen Your Positive Edge

Life is not a balancing act.  Life is about being in the moment.

I am grateful that yoga has given me the willpower and fortitude to prioritize my values.  I am a work in progress and yoga is very forgiving.

Just like life, if you fall out of a pose, get right back in it. 

It is a practice based on self-awareness, self-love, and mindfulness.

 

 

Vulnerability: Weakness or Strength

This month, my intention was set toward sobriety.  I was able to reset, gain awareness and accomplish a sense of empowerment that I never could have imagined. I do feel amazing, but I want to continue the year with the intention of moderate, mindful drinking.  This experiment allowed me to dabble in a place of vulnerability that Had always scared me. Being that open has always been a sign of weakness, risk, or uncertainty for me. Allowing others to see what I consider my short-comings is scary and it makes me feel powerless. This month I realized by allowing myself to be vulnerable- I am also allowing myself to be courageous, empowered and STRONG.

I invite you to show a little vulnerability in these last few days in February. I challenge you to take a risk and show others how strong you are.

Start by Asking yourself this question “Vulnerability is _______”.

When I ask myself this question, I answer it many different ways…

  • singing karaoke
  • dancing
  • running a half
  • saying goodbye to loved ones
  • racing in a triathlon
  • crying
  •  parenting
  • standing in front of a faculty of 60 teachers and presenting professional development
  • apologizing for making a mistake
  • admitting I was wrong
  • confessing that I have an anxiety disorder
  • becoming a vegan
  • admitting that food was the enemy
  • asking for forgiveness
  • teaching
  • coaching
  • talking to a stranger
  • letting someone get to know you
  • falling in love
  • Adulting
  • blogging

When I look at my list of ‘vulnerability’, I don’t see weakness. I see courage,

I see a risk taker

and I see strength .  

I see a list of accomplishments.  

If this weren’t my list, I would admire this person for their bravery.

Now, ask yourself “How does vulnerability make you feel?”

  • like butterflies
  • like a rollercoaster
  • I can’t breathe
  • sweaty palms, shaking cheeks, jaw clenched
  • jumping off the high dive
  • all in
  • fear
  • encouragement
  • where fear and courage meet
  • ah-ha

Every one of these emotions is what truly makes me run and hide from vulnerability.     and brings all the emotions of anxiety OUT in the open.  But when I am witnessing true vulnerability from someone else, I am in awe.  When I watch students perform, present information, or overcome obstacles I am brought to tears because it is in their bravery that they were able to accomplish something so awesome.  When I watch my 2 boys jump into the pool, run on the soccer field or go in for a touch down, I am overcome with emotions.  Their courage allowed themselves to achieve greatness.

Finally, ask yourself “What is worth doing even if you FAIL?”

  • alcohol experiment
    • I wasn’t completely successful, but the coping skills I have learned have been completely worth it
  • running and training for a half marathon
    • My hips hurt, my knees hurt, my arches hurt, BUT crossing that finish line was so worth it
  • My job
    • Every single day I am vulnerable, but every single day I know what I am doing is important
  • Being a mom
    • My two boys don’t have a perfect mom, but my world is so amazing because of them
  • Being a wife/partner
    • We don’t always get it right, but I get to do life with my best friend.

I don’t completely look forward to my vulnerabilities that are in my future, but I will embrace them as a sign of my strength and not my weakness.  I look forward to the challenges, the risks and the uncertainties that they will bring. I am grateful for the tools I have learned already this year.

Embrace your vulnerabilities, see them as your strength.

(This reflection was sparked from Rene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly)img_2716

Eat Your Water; Top 15 Hydrating Foods

As you all know, my intention this month has been on hydration, and in just 3 weeks I have already noticed a change in some of my habits.

A. I used to go to sleep dreaming about my 1st cup of coffee 

B. Now, I wake up eager for my glass of salted, citrus water

A. I am used to having a glass of wine 5 out of 7 days of the week (don’t judge). 

B. This last week, I only had a drink 3 out of the 7 days (and I didn’t miss it)- so, I might be ready for my February intention.

A. Drinking water used to be a ‘chore’

B.  Now, it is just apart of everything, and even a little interesting. 

This was a tough week as I have been dealing with, NO battling, vertigo all week.  I was in denial early on in the week, but after three days of dizziness and nausea (and a difficult 15k,) I decided to finally stop trying to WILL it away and get some help.  One of the side-effects of vertigo is dehydration due to the constant nausea and sometimes being dehydrated can be a cause, so I made sure to be very intentional this past week with the food choices I was making because drinking a lot of water made my stomach very queasy. Here are just a few things I did to make this a bit easier and better for me…

  • I intentionally packed soup and salad in my lunchbox every single day for a hydrating lunch
  • took out some of the dehydrating foods from my diet (list is below)
  • Premade my ‘Quench Your Thirst’ smoothie on Sunday for an easy snack throughout the week
    • I purchased an $8 water carafe for my bedside table
    • Added a humidifier to our bedroom (the heater was drying us out)

The top 15  hydrating foods one should add to your weekly diet…

  • Cucumber
  • coconut
  • Celery
  • Romaine
  • Tomato
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberry
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Green pepper
  • Pineapple
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cantaloupe
  • Raspberries
  • Spinach

I created 3 recipes this last week that added as much from this list as possible

quench your thirst smoothie 

  • green apple, cucumber, celery, coconut milk, spinach

instant pot cauliflower potato soup

  • spinach, cucumber, tomato

Top 10 dehydrating foods you should cut from your DAILY diet – These should be foods that are used with caution and in moderation. 

  • coffee – Use Coconut milk to cream your coffee
  • alcohol – a great alternative is to add a tonic or sparkling water to whatever you are drinking 
  • asparagus – this is why it alters the smell of your urine
  • bacon
  • ham
  • sausage
  • soy sauce – great alternatives are Coconut aminos or liquid aminos because they have less sodium
  • popcorn (this was one of the hardest for me to hear) – try air popcorn or Quinns sea salt Popcorn – stay away from the microwaveable buttered popcorn. 
  • fried foods
  • sugary drinks (soda, diet soda, Gatorade, Capri-sun, JUICE)

Please, leave a comment and share this post if you find this information useful.

Thank  you

Smarter Hydration

This past week my intention was on EZ Hydration Habits with a focus on hydrating at key times throughout my day; when I first wake up, 6-8 ounces before every meal, and a ‘smart’ drink after running.  

Thank you for the comments, the questions, and the inquiry from my last post. I was very surprised with the amount of feedback I received from my last post, and it made me realize how important this topic was for everyone.  I know we are all looking for an easier way to stay healthy, feel better, and manage stress, And hydration is something everyone can start to focus on TODAY. No need for new workout clothes, a membership to an expensive gym, and (The best part) no diet restrictions!

Some of the concerns that came up through my conversations were…

addition of water = increased restroom breaks 

addition of salt into the diet – I thought sodium was bad.

Is Gatorade a good option for quick hydration?

Is there such a thing as Too much water?

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia

Chia seeds aren’t just good family fun, they are THE smartest way to hydrate.  When you drink a glass of water with chia seeds in it (1-2 TBSP), the chia seeds will absorb the water and help the water remain in your body longer.  This allows your body to balance the electrolytes which will aid in stamina and endurance (great for distance athletes) and give your body time to soak it all in!

  • Add 1-2 TBPS of chia seeds to 6-8 oz of water and let it sit in the water for 10 minutes or overnight (even better) allow the seeds to absorb the water and become gel like.  Shake the water before drinking. 

img_2551.pngThis should slow down the amount of ‘potty’ breaks within the day, and it will allow your body to maintain hydration instead of washing out (something that can occur if you drink too much water).

Sodium Confusion

From my last post, I talked about the morning glass of water having a pinch of one of these salts.

Himalayan Salt

Sea Salt

Rock Salt

Celtic Salt

When it comes to adding salt to your diet and your water it is QUALITY not Quantity. These salts contain trace minerals that your body may have lost throughout the night.  This small step allows your body to balance the electrolytes needed to stay hydrated.  Start salting your water NOT your food.

Better Than Gatorade (When Water is not enough)

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I have experimented with a few drinks this week to replenish after running.  They both tasted great, kept my muscles hydrated, and helped me recover quickly.  Even if you aren’t a runner, these drinks helped my husband recover from a fun evening and my own children from a day of bicycle riding.

Instead of giving my family a sports drink that contains a ton of glucose (125 calories and 35 grams of sugar), I chose to…

add a Nuun tablet to 12 oz of filtered water and 2 tsp of chia seeds- the                  boys loved the strawberry lemonade flavor.  

I mixed 4 oz of our favorite Kombucha, 2 TBSP of chia seeds, pinch of sea salt, and 12 oz of filtered water after my long run on Saturday.  

Low sugar options that hydrate with fast acting carbohydrates and electrolytes that allowed everyone to recover from dehydration symptoms. FYI – Sugar requires a lot of hydration for your body to process and filter.

Water Intoxication

img_2552.pngThere is such a thing as too much water.  This can cause lowered sodium and potassium levels, muscle cramps, and can strain the kidneys and heart which can make you feel tired.  Who would have THOUGHT?  This does require a healthy person to consume a liter of water within an hour, so I am sure many of you aren’t chugging 33 oz of water, but I just want you to be aware of all the facts.

Smarter Water Options

Switch from Almond milk to Coconut milk

img_2535(Try 4 oz coconut milk with 12 oz of warm water , 1 -2 tsp of Cardamom and cinnamon to your coffee- Tasted like a Chai latte)

Drink coconut water instead of Gatorade

Explore the different flavors of the sparkling water craze- Waterloo Cherry is my favorite

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This upcoming week, my focus will be on Eating my Water. (look for my post next weekend.) I plan on adding hydrating foods into my daily diet and pulling out some of the dehydrators that are causing some of the symptoms that are still sticking around.

I hope you are joining me on this adventure.  Let me know how it is going.  I want to hear  about your goals, your swaps and how it is affecting you.

Share and leave a comment

Quench Your Thirst: Hydration Habits

Eight years ago I suffered from severe dehydration.  I was teaching multiple aerobic classes throughout the day during a 100 day heatwave in Texas.  My husband had to rush me to a Care Now facility after vomiting for a few hours in terrible pain, where I proceeded to vomit and then pass out.  As I sat in the emergency room of the hospital hooked up to an I.V.  shaking from the rush of fluids entering my body, I realized at that moment how important hydration was.

75% of Americans are dealing with Chronic Dehydration

Symptoms may include (are not limited to)…

fatigue

moodiness

brain fog

constipation

Thirst

skin’s lack of elasticity

poor circulation – fingers and toes are often cold

headaches

This is due to…

desk jobs

fast food laden with bad sodium

SODAs and Sports drinks and Juice and COFFEE

bookI have been reading Quench by Cohen and Bria these past few days and have already learned so much about how to hydrate correctly, when to hydrate and what to eat to keep me hydrated.  This book takes the general rule of 8 glasses a day and flips it completely upside down.

 

 

 

Just a few habits I have tried to start in this first week of my January intention; optimal hydration, include…

A glass of lemon water when I wake up with a pinch of sea salt

I sliced a lemon and added water to a large mason jar and placed it in the fridge. Each watermorning I pour 8-10 oz of water into a FANCY cup (wine glass usually) and add a pinch of sea salt or Himilayan salt to the water.  I gulp it down while my coffee is brewing.

Why lemon?  Helps rid toxins from your body

Why Sea salt or Himilayan salt?  Just a pinch to add sodium, micronutrients and minerals back into your system.  Over the course of the night, a % of that was lost through breathing and perspiration. Stay away from regular table salt – as it does not have the minerals that your body needs.

at least 8 oz of water before every meal

This is two-fold: 1. you get your digestive system running smoother- adding water back into your bloodstream, which gets everything working again.  2. It fills up your stomach, so you aren’t eating on an empty stomach.

only 2 cups (16 oz) of coffee every day

Coffee is known as a dehydrant and mild diuretic but it does affect your hydration levels until AFTER you drink 24oz.  According to my calculations, You can consume 300 mg of caffeine before your body starts to show affects of dehydrations (that is equivalent to 2 tall lattes from Starbucks). I don’t recommend that much, as it is still a diuretic but I get the need for a nice tall latte.

Use of a Brita water filter

fridgeThis is just pure convenience.  If water is cold, and I don’t have to sit for a long time at the fridge door for a full glass, I will drink more.  This filter was only $20- it holds 12 cups and the filters (3 ) were also $20- the filters are good for 2 months each.

 

 

 

Carry around a cool water container 

I’ve had this water container since the start of the school year.  I like the small incremental goals which make me feel accomplished every hour.  I bought this from Uncommon Goods. ONLY $20

bottle picfunny

Humans are made up of about 60% water, and we lose about 10% of that water daily JUST through breathing, sweating, and urine/bowel movements.  Now, if you workout, drink a lot of coffee, or alcohol- it is even more.  No wonder, just a few changes to my lifestyle has helped make a few noticeable differences. 

In just 1 week- actually just 6 days.  I have more energy.  I ran 18 miles in a span of 5 days and never felt that CRASH that I normally do. Believe me, my legs were tired but I had enough energy to organize play rooms, rearrange bedrooms, and meal prep for the week.  I have noticed that I haven’t really been that hungry, and my cravings for BREAD has gone down quite a bit.

I am training for a half marathon and my long run was on Saturday which was completed in record mile pace!  I am not completely sure if that is my training or the hydration- maybe a combination of the two, but I felt really proud.

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I am feeling pretty accomplished this week.  Setting my intention was the easy part, Skimming the shelves at Barnes and Noble for a book that would educate me and set me on the right track was also pretty easy. Now I just need to stick with it.

 

 

 

Setting My Intentions

best of 2018.jpeg

On New Year’s Eve I look ahead but also reflect on what 2018 gave to me.

Before I can set my intentions for the 2019 year, I need to look back at what 2018 was.  After scrolling my picture feed, observing my Facebook photos, and making my list (18 for 2018) I was surprised at what I had already forgotten.  We have a tendency to look forward, set new goals, and shoot for the best year… YET all the while ignoring the previous year’s accomplishments, losses, and adventures.  Please indulge me as I take a brief moment to reflect before setting my new intentions.

Unfortunately, 2018 Brought us loss…

We lost our first pet- Phinnaeus Charles Steinbrink – a lovable golden retriever that my husband and I got together before we were married.  He was with us to watch us move into our first home, helped us manage two young boys, and brought me solace when I lost my father.  Losing Phinn was a very difficult time for us.

We celebrated the life of our Poppa Charlie- my mother’s father.  He was a tough man of 92, diagnosed with lung cancer 2 different times in his life, but he managed to not just Survive but LIVE.

We traveled…

Luke and I celebrated our 10 year Wedding Anniversary in Costa Rica at a Yoga retreat.  This was everything I hoped it would be and MORE.

We traveled to the Lake over the summer with friends, to the ocean in Portland with family, and to the pool in Kansas to celebrate 4th of July.  Each trip gave us time to relax, recover and recoup.

2018 gave us so much to be thankful for…

My boys have grown up! It happened in a blink of an eye.  Both boys are in school (kinder and 2nd) learning like crazy.  Unfortunately, that does come with some lessons of how to use what they are learning appropriately with Mom and Dad.  They are as different as salt and pepper, what they love to do, what makes them excited are so very different.  I am learning to navigate their differences and learning more about Legos, books, football, and the army every single day. Being a boy mom is one of my favorite parts of 2018.

I also achieved a milestone this year – 1 year as a ‘vegan’ – Again I use quotations because I still follow the 80/20 rule most of the time with plant-based flexitarian as the true definition of my diet, but that is a mouthful and I already get strange looks and comments when I say ‘I am a vegan’ so I can’t imagine what people would say if I said, ‘I am a plant-based flexitarian’  Come on! =Right?

I have a lot to be thankful for- my family is happy, healthy, and safe.  2018 was a great year!

2019 will be even better-  This year I am not creating a resolution or setting goals, I am planning a year of transformation through Monthly intentions; an aim, a plan.  I hope to gain something from each month that will improve my mindfulness, health, and forethought.  I have chosen each intention specifically for my needs, and I have arranged them to keep me driven throughout the 2019 year. (I won’t go into great detail with each one right now, but I will give you my reasons in this blog)

January – WATER!!!! 

IMG_2428.PNGThis should be something I do naturally, but it is not.  I know you have heard this, but if you were to change anything in your diet – WATER is the one thing that should be added- for better health, digestion, weight loss, healthy skin and heart, reduces cancer risk and boosts energy and gut health.  For those reasons ALONE, this is my number 1 intention for the year, so I thought I would start the year off with this simple change to help affect the rest of my year. The key to the correct water intake is take your body weight, divide it in half, and that is the amount of water in ounces you should drink daily.  My intention for this month is to wake up and drink at least 8 oz BEFORE coffee and consume at least 60 ounces throughout the day.

February – No Alcohol- 

I’ll admit, this one will not be easy- AT ALL!  I love a glass of red wine or 2 almost daily.  But with water being my #1 intention, I thought I should try a month without the dehydrator to see how my health can improve.  This will take a lot of mindfulness but since February is the shortest month- I thought it could be doable 🙂 I have also recruited my best friend in making this her intention for February as well.

March – Yoga Challenge

In February, I am running the half marathon and I can only imagine how all that running will tighten up my muscles. Also, March is a very difficult time of the school year for teachers, and I am sure I will need a form of stress relief.

April- Triathlon Training

I have signed up for an Olympic Triathlon for the month of May- of course I will be training in the previous months as well, but my intention this month will be on the training process.

May – carbon footprint focused

I would like to work on my carbon footprint during this month. Focus on what I throw away, making eco friendly decisions and getting rid of the plastic!

June- Book Challenge

As the school year gets wrapped up, I always look forward to my time with books in the summer.  This month I want to focus my time on reading as much as I possibly can.  I have a few trips planned for the month of June, so this will be a great time to dive into professional books, fictional mysteries etc…

 

July- Weight ( lifting) Challenge


(Update) self careSelf Care; 4 Tips to an Effortless Morning Routine

August- Sugar Detox

I don’t consume a lot of extra sugar, but I do know that sugar is cancer’s best friend.  I have always had the intention of letting my children know the harms of sugar, how it affects our attitude and health.  For this month, I want to be as intentional as possible while the new school year begins.

September – Tidying up challenge

with the new school year starting, I believe this is a great time to weed out clothes, organize kitchen, kid rooms, and make sure I still only have 1 junk drawer! I plan on Marie Kondo being very proud throughout my process.

October – Family Focused
This is one of my favorite months of the year.  After the start of school, We tend to get a little bogged down, a little too in-sync with our schedules and ‘family time’ drifts.  I want to be intentional this month (as I do every month) but this month I want to be as intentional as possible about family dinners, time together, LISTENING.

November – smoothie Challenge

The month of FOOD! Do I need to say more? With a new smoothie recipe every day (that I will post in my weekly blog) I hope to dodge the bloat, the weight gain and the stress of this month.

December – Meditation 

December gets a little crazy with events, travel, buying, food. I wanted to set an intention that would help me navigate through the stress of this month and help me reflect with forethought for the new year.

Each month has a focus, each month has a reason and I hope that each month will lead toward new perspectives, better health, and the best year… YET! Continue to read, and I hope you will follow me or even JOIN me on this journey of set intentions in 2019!.

Taste and Smell of Fall (Vegan Breakfast)

It is Labor Day, and the weather is on my side.  It has been raining since 9 a.m. So, on my way home from my workout I stopped at a grocery store to pick up 4 cans of pumpkin puree.  All I could think about was getting my diffuser going with the scent of Fall; zucchini pumpkin muffins, pumpkin quinoa oatmeal and veggie soup and my Amazon Prime queue going.

I found a great recipe at ‘the pretty bee’ blog for Vegan Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread.

I made a few tweaks to enhance the protein content and make it ‘to go’ friendly for our breakfasts at work.

Ingredients:

1 Cup Buckwheat Flour- IMG_1178gluten and grain free with more protein, fiber and B vitamins than oats or whole wheat (cooking with just buckwheat can make breads dry, so add in moisture when you can)

1/4c hemp seed (this adds in extra moisture AND protein)

1/2 c whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground clove

1 tsp Himilayan salt (great alternative to Kosher salt, as it contains many minerals and vitamins)

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp ginger and nutmeg (add more if you like the taste)

( mix these together with  a whisk )

3/4 c pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling) (Adding pumpkin to this bread allows me to leave out the egg that most breads and muffins call for, PLUS, the smell in my kitchen is worth using my can opener)

1/4 c Coconut butter  (measure it out, then pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds and stir and repeat until melted) (I love Coconut Manna- you can find this in the aisle) (Since, the coconut butter contains the meat, or copra, of the coconut which adds more nutrition and less cholesterol) * You could also replace this with 1/4c applesauce

1 c zucchini (shred in your food processor (about 1 zucchini)

1/4 c maple syrup

1/4c water

(if you like your breakfast breads on the sweeter side, go ahead and add coconut or date sugar about 1/2c )  I like mine without the sugar bc the dark chocolate chips add a little something extra to my mini muffins.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Fill up the muffin tins- I Use a mini muffin tin for bite size convenience, add 3-4 Vegan Dark chocolate chips before placing in a 350 degree oven. Bake between 30-40 minutes

While the smell of pumpkin was filling my house, I pulled my pressure cooker out of its hiding place for a quick, no FUSS pumpkin quinoa oatmeal recipe I found from Plant Based Gabriel.  Again, I added in a few more items to increase the crunch factor and natural sweetness. – sometimes the texture of oatmeal deters me from eating it.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 c water

1 can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

1 c steel cut oats- great source of fiber and protein

1/3 c quinoa – adds a different texture to the oats and proteinIMG_1180

1 c almond milk- you can use oat milk, soy milk or coconut milk from a can if you prefer

1/4 c maple syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp clove and nutmeg (I added more b/c I LOVE both of these flavors)

Place everything into your pressure cooker or instantpot, mix with a whisk and set for 25 minutes and allow for the cooker to release naturally. (so about 30 minute cook time)

Once the oatmeal is complete, I added a handful of pecans, a handful of walnuts, about 1 1/2 c almond milk and drizzled date syrup.  – the combination of healthy fats from the nuts, the protein from the oats and milk- I am usually feeling pretty satiated until lunch.

Once everything has cooled, I place each of these in our take out containers and add fruit to the muffin tin and Kite Hill yogurt to the oatmeal (I love mixing my yogurt into my oatmeal for a rich and creamy taste and texture)

Fall is not here until September 23rd, but this girl was certainly grateful for the rain and cooler weather today.

sidenote- —— If you don’t know what DATE syrup is- GO out and find it now.  Someone had the genius idea of taking Medjool dates, soaking them in hot water, smashing them, filtering out the pulp, and boiling the liquid until it becomes syrup.  Even if you don’t like dates- this is worth the trip to the store or Amazon to purchase a container to add to breads, oatmeal, recipes to replace honey etc… DELICIOUS and the fiber content – and since the syrup is plant-based, you can feel good about using it.  A great recipe at Simpleveganblog.com shows you how easy it is to make.  

Plant Based Snack Time: (Kale Chips, Bruschetta, Hummus, and Salsa Recipes)

Recently, I had the pleasure to join my friends on an adult trip to the lake. The babysitter was scheduled, boat and jet ski rented, and snacks were planned.  It had me thinking about the top plant-based snacks that I try to keep around for a quick pick-me up. Of course, some of those snacks include no preparation …

  1. Fresh fruit- I like to keep grapes washed and stemmed for a quick handful for easy access.  My kids and I eat melons of all kinds; watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew.  Berries line a shelf in my fridge for smoothies, a quick snack or just a side to a quick lunch.
  2. Vegetables- In my fridge you will find prepped cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, snap peas, and broccoli in large mason jars for an easy go-to snack.  I strategically place these at eye height for my two boys to see first (trick of the trade). I also like to keep tomatoes; Roma, cherry, steak, vine-ripe sitting out at all times for snacking with hummus. (one of my favorite things) My husband will grab a tomato and eat it whole just like an apple.
  3. Nuts– We keep raw and roasted nuts of all kinds in our ‘snack drawer’ which both of my boys can easily access. The combination of protein and healthy fat makes this a no brainer. * a handful of Raw cashews are great in a smoothie in the morning. 

and some snacks that take 10 minutes or less to prepare…

  1. Homemade salsa– The other day, I noticed my garden was getting a little img_0722overgrown with cilantro and jalapeños (a ‘terrible problem to have, right) even with the 21 days of 3 digit temperatures.  This is one of my favorites to make at home because it is quick, I have the ingredients on hand for most of the year, and my husband and I can add salsa to just about anything.

fullsizeoutput_58bHummus- Hummus can be found at any grocery store in almost any flavor; chocolate (great with pretzels), red pepper (my favorite) and beet (haven’t ventured out that far).  But, this is also one of those snacks that can be prepared on the fly- if you are plant-based, I guarantee you have all the ingredients.homemade_salsa-2

Bruschetta– This is made very Quickly and another bonus- basil is so easily grown and img_0723once it is in your garden or pots it takes hardly any effort at all to keep alive. – The basil in my garden has almost taken over an entire plot- can’t complain because the smell when I water it is pretty amazing. I like to add bruschetta to toasted French bread, baked sweet potato, pasta for dinner, an avocado for a quick snack or mix with chickpeas for a salad. A very versatile condiment and stores easily in the fridge for over a week in an airtight container- I like using a mason jar.

homemade_salsa-1

Kale CHIPS– I love everything about kale.  I love how it regenerates in my garden, how easy it is to grow, the earthiness it adds to smoothies, and the way it makes me feel when I add a few chips into my day.  I have never found a bag of kale chips from the store that I have liked, but I have discovered how easy it is to make them at home. Plus, the flavor options are endless; salt and vinegar, parmesan and garlic, red pepper (my favorite) coconut oil, and hippie dusted (nutritional yeast and garlic powder mix).

homemade_salsa

Homemade almond butter– The BEST part of this snack is that it only requires 1 ingredient – roasted or unroasted almonds.  Add 2-3 cups of almonds to your food processor and process for at least 5 minutes, scrape the edges process for 3 more minutes, scrape the edges and process for 3 more minutes. DONE!!!!! Add to baked sweet potatoes, Artisan bread, pretzels, bananas or JUST grab a spoon.  The fat and protein combination makes this a perfect snack- plus, the kids LOVE it.

So, if you are anything like me or my family- you LOVE to snack.  I hope that you find some of these recipes and snack ideas helpful.

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On the beautiful boat, Sueno.

On our boat trip yesterday I was able to bring the salsa, hummus, and bruschetta.  I can tell you the bruschetta was a hit.  The funniest thing about the entire trip was when I realized how ‘adult’ I was when I thought of making jello shots, but I chose to make homemade plant-based snacks instead.  You know you are an adult when…