8/29: Friday’s Favorite Things

Hello and Happy Friday! I’m blogging from my Mom’s house in New Jersey where I am visiting for the next few days. We started off the Labor Day weekend with a nice family dinner at a local restaurant last night after I got settled from a day of traveling. I say dinner was nice because it was a treat to see my mom and sister. However, it was one of those weird restaurant experiences where the waiter seemed totally out of it and brought me a fresh salad that was somehow completely wilted. It was a totally lackluster meal so needless to say it was not a standout this week. On the flip side, below are a few things that I am really loving this week so let’s focus on those shall we?

Instagram Videos – I had no clue you could easily add videos to your Instagram feed! Social media sometimes overwhelms me so I always believe that all these extras are only for the super savy. Well, it turns out it is very simple to do. You record your video on your phone, and then Instagram helps you to edit it down to 15 seconds which is very cool. Scott and I have had some fun recording a few training sessions recently that I have posted. This is a just a picture of one we did a few weeks ago, but not the actual video. I learned how to take a screen grab, but not embed video yet. Baby steps, my friends. :-)

Instgram Video Screen Grab

Next challenge is figuring out how to add some music and get a little fancy.

The Food Babe – The Food Babe is a bit of a clean food pioneer who is campaigning to rid our foods of pesticides, GMO’s and other unwanted additives. I admire how she is putting herself out there this Fall in a crusade against Starbucks and their Pumpkin Spice Latte. I have always secretly wondered what was in their syrups to create their specialty coffee drinks. People love their seasonal brews with a serious passion from what I see on the interweb. The Food Babe has been following up with Starbucks to get more information, but alas they seem to be putting her off quite a bit. She is also calling them out on the fact that they do not use organic milk. I used to drink a lot of skinny frappucinos and the like, but now if I am at a Starbucks I stick with an Americano or unsweetened tea. I prefer to know what it is in the beverages I am consuming. One member of the “Food Babe Army” shared the below recipe to create your own PSL at home to preserve your health and save a bit of cash too.

Food Babe PSL

Iced Green Tea – Speaking of unsweetened tea, I have been having iced green tea daily almost all summer. I have never been a huge fan of the taste, but I was reading again about the numerous benefits it provides and thought I would give it another whirl. I definitely enjoy more as an iced beverage than a hot one. Plus, my Kombucha habit was getting a little expensive so I decided to give it a go. I take three tea bags and add almost boiling water to an extra large mason jar and then let it sit for about 15-20 minutes so it steeps. Do not leave the bags in too much longer because it becomes somewhat bitter. If I am feeling like a need a little change up I add some lemon. I know…I am a wild one.

Iced Green Tea

Tumeric – I do not buy as many spices as I used to because they are insanely expensive, and I would totally overdo it. A spice may not necessarily “go bad” but it certainly can be affected from having it sit on your cabinet shelf for an eternity. Now I focus on organic and buy much smaller quantity. This article I was reading from Mind Body Green recently was identifying the numerous benefits of turmeric as an anti-inflammatory agent in the body and a natural detoxifier of the liver. I made this salmon with turmeric recently and the flavoring is perfect.

Salmon w. Tumeric

Personalized Stamps – Scott’s sister, Betsy, is getting married in Duck, North Carolina this upcoming spring and she and her fiancée have been a little on the fence with registering for gifts. Scott and I wanted to get them a present to celebrate their engagement so I asked Scott’s mom for suggestions. One of her suggestions was a personalized stamp which I thought would be an awesome gift. I felt it would save her time and effort on engagement, wedding shower and wedding correspondence. We ordered one via thestampmaker.com and shipped it out last week. Betsy was so happy with it she decided it could be body art too. :-) This was her group text pic to us when the package came in the mail.

Personalized Stamp

Magazines – I used to have a subscription to every magazine on the planet. I was such a victim of the sign up for two magazines or the $9.99 a year deal. So much so that I was completely overwhelmed by the number of magazines I was receiving on a regular basis. I could not even keep up and some were getting recycles before I could even read them. I missed spring fashion, but summer was around the corner so no use back tracking right? I let most of those subscriptions lapse so now I only buy an issue at the store if it catches my eye with articles I want to read or if I am traveling. Since I need a fix yesterday I bought two at the airport, and enjoyed reading them in full. Time to sit and read a magazine cover to cover is a big positive for traveling in my book!

Magazines

Question of the Day: What is one thing you are loving this week? Please feel free to share in the comments section.

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End of Summer Playlist

“In summer, the song sings itself”….William Carlos Williams.

Good morning!

I was up bright and early today in order to pack and get ready to leave for the airport. I am hanging out at the airport with my iced coffee and waiting for my flight to board. I am off to New Jersey for the Labor Day weekend to visit with my family. There are no big plans on the agenda except a trip to the spa, dinner out and getting outside to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. I cannot believe this weekend already marks the end of summer. It certainly flew by in a flash.

Going to the gym is something I do on a regular basis, and I do like being able to zone out and be in my own world for a bit. Music is a huge factor that helps me to separate from reality even when the gym is crowded like it was last night. I read a lot of blog posts and magazine articles where a lot of runners and such say they love being sans music because it gives them time with their thoughts. I certainly appreciate that sentiment, but I would feel lost without it as a distraction. I have been really making an effort to update my I-pod more frequently though since I have a tendency to repeat the same playlists. These are some of my favorite tunes I have been listening to on the regular lately to get me during my workouts.

EndofSummerPlaylist

You can check them out by clicking and listening to the links below. Hope you enjoy!

I Can’t Stop – Flux Pavillion

Sparks (Turn Off Your Mind) – Fedde Le Grande, Nicky Romero, Matthew Koma

Evacuate the Dancefloor – Cascada

0 to 100/The Catch Up – Drake

Church – T-Pain featuring Teddy Verseti

Drinking from the Bottle – Calvin Harris featuring Tinie Tempah

Timber – Pitbull featuring Kesha

Tonight is the Night – Outasight

Am I Wrong – Nico & Vinz

Castles in the Sky – Ian Van Dahl featuring Marsha

Apollo (Original Mix) – Harwell

Hold It Against Me – Britney Spears

Good Feeling – Flo Rida

Started from the Bottom – Drake

Rock Your Body – Justin Timberlake

Trumpsta (Dejuro Remix) – Contiez

Without You – David Guetta featuring Usher

Wake Me Up – Avicii

Dirt Road Anthem Remix – Jason Alden featuring Ludacris

Question of the Day: Is music a must for you during your workouts?

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WIAW #7: Packin Veggies

Hello! It’s a bit of a hot one deep in the heart of Texas today. Although it is August, and all the days lately are on the extra warm side. I am still in the process of adjusting to the higher temperatures, but everywhere I go people say this is one of the nicest and coolest summers Austin that has experienced in years! I am clearly a newbie to the South. I’m running around a little bit today to wrap up and get packed to head to New Jersey Labor Day weekend. I have no big plans other than relaxing and catching up with family. It’ll be so nice to see them!

Trip to Ireland a few years ago with my mother and sister. Feels like forever ago!

Trip to Ireland a few years ago with my mother and sister. Feels like forever ago!

I have been participating in WIAW as a way to hopefully inspire you to try some new foods, and to give you a glimpse into my daily eating habits. I typically try to snap pictures of my meals, snacks and drinks on Tuesdays so that I can share them. Jenn of Peas & Crayons started this link up many moons ago, and it is huge across the healthy living community. Let’s be honest – we all love just food! So here we go…

WIAWbutton

My first meal of the day was oatmeal and egg whites with spinach. This may sound like a really large meal, but I was extra hungry for some reason. I put protein powder in my oatmeal a lot, but lately I have not really been enjoying the texture as much. I feel like oatmeal alone does not have that much protein so I ended up with what looked like two breakfasts or a large brunch. I cook most of my food in coconut oil, and I make sure there is always some fat at every meal. I put a little Kerrygold butter on the egg whites, and added MCT oil and pecans to the oatmeal along with cinnamon and Stevia for some sweetness. There was coffee present too. Always coffee.

Egg Whites & Oatmeal

Egg Whites & Oatmeal

I went to a hot yoga class at 11:00 and afterwards I did a little light cardio and a few of my booty exercises from last week’s workout post. The cardio may sound like overkill, but I have not been getting up early enough to walk in the mornings. The cardio was a little way of just fitting in some extra movement I’ve been missing. It gave me 10 minutes to zone out, and listen to some music. When I got back home from class I opted for a protein shake while I started to put lunch together.

I opted for a chocolate flavor version of my typical shake to mix it up a little. The shake included organic unsweetened almond milk, chocolate Sun Warrior protein powder, raw chocolate powder, Collagen Powder, Amazing Greens and MCT oil with some ice. The chocolate flavor was a yummy change.

Chocolate Protein Shake

Chocolate Protein Shake

Lunch came in the form of a large salad which included organic romaine lettuce, radishes, cucumber and grape tomatoes topped with tuna. I tried a new variation with tuna salad which was simply substituting Greek yogurt with avocado. I simply mixed tuna fish with ¼ of the avocado (mashed), mustard and added salt and pepper for seasoning. I dressed the salad with a bit of white wine vinegar and olive oil and went out to our deck. I took a picture and them promptly turned around to go back inside. Way too hot!

My "Green Theme" lunch

My “Green Theme” lunch.

Dessert came in the form of more coffee and a few chocolate squares.

Coffee & Chocolate = Awesome combo

Coffee & Chocolate = Awesome combo

Afternoon Snack – I started to get a little hungry again late in the afternoon as I was doing some work on my computer. I took a quick break to enjoy another batch of coconut yogurt that Scott and I made over the weekend. I will be sharing the recipe here soon. Every time we make it the process gets easier.

Homemade Coconut Yogurt

Homemade Coconut Yogurt

The yogurt was heavier than expected and I found I was not hungry again for a while so I put off make dinner until fairly late. I was getting off the phone and cutting up sweet potatoes for fries around 8:00. I am not a huge fan of eating so late, but it does happen sometimes. Scott also called me in excitement during my dinner preparations to share that his gym is finally built! It looks awesome, and I will be sharing more about it next week. I am really proud of all the work he has put into this project. The effort on his part has been amazing. Here’s a little sneak peak…

Like a G6 folks!

Like a G6 folks!

Our meal was pretty simple with Grass-Fed burgers, the sweet potatoes friends and roasted cauliflower. I was glad that I managed to get in a decent amount of vegetables. It can be a challenge so I try to mix it up by having a variety of salads as well as cooked veggies. After a few more pieces of chocolate, I was done with the kitchen for the day!

Burgers

Dinnertime with burgers, sweet potato friends, cauliflower.

If you liked this WIAW post, head over to Peas & Crayons to view lots of others or to add your own!

Question of the Day: How many servings of veggies do you eat in a day?

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Organic Beauty Finds on the Cheap

Make up is the best right? It can cover up a multitude of sins such as dark circles under our eyes, skin imperfections or days when we are feeling a little dull in our sparkle. I have always loved make up which includes reading, finding and sampling new products. Since I am still on a hunt for a job, my makeup shopping has undergone a bit of a budget cut these days. Sephora purchases are totally my favorite thing, but I have opened up my eyes to more options as of late. There is a lot of makeup out there that is less expensive, but I try to buy the best products I can find. While I am not perfect I cannot in good conscious buy items that are laden with tons of additives or chemicals since I do know better.

Natural Beauty

As I explained in a prior post you can read here my concept with makeup and skincare is to “move towards green.” The good news is that there are more products available at a lower price point, and they are readily available at Target or major drug stores. This is an area I find very interesting because I think women vary widely on what they are willing to spend. The funny thing is that with skill you will sometimes never know who paid $8 for their lipstick or $30. As with many things, the key is presentation.

Even Target is getting on board…check out these snazzy displays from my last visit there!

Boots Botanics

Boots Botanics has a variety of skincare and make up products. I was not really in need of anything at the moment, but saw that they have base, eye shadow and blush. They also have an eye cream I was checking out. A lot of their other skin care items looked on point. You can read more about their story and order items online here. Boots is also really focused on sustainability and recycling which is very important for the environment as we all know. I will be checking out more of their products as the need arises.

There were also some lovely displays for Yes to Carrots and Burt’s Bees.

Frame

I picked up my Yes to Cucumbers facial wipes for removing makeup. They are an Allure Award Winner and I have always had success with them in the past. At $5.99 I feel like they are a pretty good value. Burt’s Bees has pretty much makes the best lip moisturizers of all time. Now they are expanding into more options for color. Love it.

IMG_1282

My other new makeup purchase was Physician’s Formula mascara. I did a google search to see what was out there in the way of organic choices and this is what the internet provided me. I love Tarte’s mascara, but it is on the pricier side and I wanted to see if there was something that could come close. Mascara is a more frequent purchase for me since the experts always say you should replace it every three months. I picked up the Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Mascara at around $8. I do not remember the exact amount, but it was about a third of the cost of Tarte. It is not quite as good, but I am liking it enough for now.

Mascara

So those are my finds for now, but I will be sure to report back with any winners!

Question of the Day: Do you feel organic make up is important? Any beauty product recommendations?

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The Tor-Chuy: A Tortilla for “The People’s Champ”

Chuy Chuy Chuy…Oi Oi Oi.

Such is the chant of the hardcore Austin Aztex Soccer supporters, led by Eberly’s Army. Scott worked as the Speed & Strength Coach with the Aztex this past season, and their breakout star was definitely Chuy Cortez. Chuy became known as the “people’s champion” and thrilled crowds with his late game heroics. He was also voted Most Valuable Player by the fans and Offensive Player of the Year by leading the team in scoring. Pretty darn impressive.

Go Chuy!

Go Chuy!

Chuy training with Scott.

Chuy training with Scott.

Our weekend started out on a fun note as Scott and I set aside time to make almond flour tortillas together for dinner. Scott has been training Chuy this offseason and the subject of tortillas came up recently – the reason behind this menu selection, of course. Chuy had completely embraced Scott’s unique approach to training & eating, and so experienced a remarkable difference in his health & performance. Chuy was buying pastured eggs and grass-fed meats, cooking with coconut oil, eating grass-fed butter and trying to rid his diet of all corn, soy and wheat.

As Chuy felt and saw the difference in his body & life, he wanted to bring some of this back to his family. In Mexican culture, it is common to consume tortillas with every single meal. That is definitely a lot of tortillas! Chuy wanted to try and find a healthy replacement recipe for his family.

Scott joked that he would get his girlfriend on the case – Chuy had loved the Pumpkin Paleo Pancake recipe I had passed along to him awhile back.

I did a little bit of searching online, and found a recipe for almond flour tortillas that I felt we could use as a guide and a starter concept. I decided to make an at home date night of it, and Scott was on board.

Date night in our kitchen.

Date night in our kitchen.

With some country music blaring in the background we set up to get started … for Chuy. :-)

Ingredients: almond flour, coconut oil, eggs, cayenne pepper ad salt.

Ingredients: almond flour, coconut oil, eggs, cayenne pepper ad salt.

Ingredients:
- 2 Cups of Almond Flour
- 2 Large Pasture-Raised Eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan Salt (Adjust to taste)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons Coconut Oil (for “greasing” smack-pan & for cooking)
Preparation:
In small bowl combine all ingredients. Mix well with spoon then use hand to kneed dough.
Frame w ingredients
Mix up the ingredients with a large spoon into a dough.

Mix up the ingredients with a large spoon into a dough.

Dough should be elastic and hold together. If dough too dry add small amount of water as needed.
Forming the dough into a ball shape.

Forming the dough into a ball shape.

Divide dough into 3 equal balls (about the size of a nectarine or slightly smaller than a lacrosse ball).
Forming the balls into three similar shaped sizes.

Forming the balls into three similar shaped sizes.

Roll each ball and place on parchment paper.
Place the balls on parchment paper and get ready for the fun part!

Place the balls on parchment paper and get ready for the fun part!

Use a small fry pan to “smack” balls into flat, round tor-chuy’s. A rolling pin is okay, eh but not quite as cool. Make sure to “grease” the bottom on the small pan with coconut oil to prevent the stick factor.
Make sure the pan is greased on the bottom and then flatten the dough.

Make sure the pan is greased on the bottom and then flatten the dough.

Peel off with a super thin spatula (metal works best).
Peel tortilla off of pan with a metal spatula.

Peel tortilla off of pan with a metal spatula.

Place coconut oil in skillet and bring to medium heat. When hot, place tort-chuy in pan and cook each side for 30 to 40 seconds. the longer the cook time the crispier the finish.
Tortillas cooking up on the stove.

Tortillas cooking up on the stove.

Remove and dampen with paper towel. Place on a plate to serve.
IMG_1744

The finished product!

While Scott was busy with his meat cooking job….

Scott on meat cooking duty.

Scott on meat cooking duty.

I chopped up zucchini, onions and peppers and cooked them in coconut oil to go with our tor-chuys.

Always eat your veggies!

Always eat your veggies!

Our lovely tor-chuy dinner.

Our lovely tor-chuy dinner.

The tor-chuy’s were delicious! They do not fold up like a traditional tortilla so you will have to serve them on the side and pile on your ingredients. They are a a great alternative to flour tortillas. Let me know if you decide to try them out too! They are soy, corn, wheat and dairy free.

Hope your week is off to a good start!
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8/22: Friday’s Favorite Things

Write down what it is that you really want, and what one thing made you happiest today.

Change the mantra in your head…..Elizabeth Gilbert.

Alas a good reminder and great advice from the author of Eat, Pray, Love. I have been putting a focus on positive literature, and goal-setting as of late. This year has been such a transition time for me between being downsized at my job and moving from New Jersey to Texas. My mom shared this quote that she heard this week, and it really resonated with me. When we are faced with challenges we should look inside and truly assess what we really want and not just go through the motions. Turn those desires into goals, go after your goals, and believe in yourself and the ability to make them a reality. Silence all the negativity in your mind that you could be holding onto. It is a waste of space in your head and your time.

Scott and I just started a new tradition this week. While adjusting to living together the negativity of daily living has a tendency to creep in a bit. I never knew you always (insert anything about the dishwasher, bathroom or laundry), and it was becoming negative. Well, we started sharing one thing every night at dinner that makes us grateful about the other person. It has been a positive change that I really like. Speaking of dinner, we are experimenting with gluten-free almond flour tortillas tonight. Stay tuned for a review on Monday as to whether or not they make the grade! Now onto Friday’s Favorite Things.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – I have loved seen this grow virtually where it was popping up on my social media feeds here and there. Then it became more and more prevalent and then – hold the phone – I saw a video of Oprah doing it and challenging Steven Spielberg and a few other famous people. Say what? This was catching on like wild fire and it has been great to see creative videos and bear witness as ALS has continued gain momentum and raise money for research. My favorite video I have seen so far is the Zack Brown Band really taking it to the next level. You can watch the video here.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Mario Bedusco – Mario Bedusco is simply the best skin treatment of all time. I have been using it for years because I was reading in every magazine that it was THE product to have on hand for breakouts. Due to changes in my diet and lifestyle my skin is usually worry-free. Mario has been sitting in my bathroom vanity for a long time. This week, however, the heat and humidity in Austin hit me like a ton of bricks, and I started having skin breakouts everywhere. Mario has come to my rescue, and I cannot recommend it enough if you are in a similar predicament.

Mario Bedusco

This Picture – Holy blast from the past! I took an improv comedy class in at the UCB in New York City six summers ago, and it was a real joy. The class got along so well. Everyone had a great attitude, and it made it such a wonderful experience. We would get together to do extra class work, attend comedy shows or simply hang out over a few drinks. One class member was truly a standout, and I remember thinking that he could go onto really great things. Over the years, I have seen him consistently booking shows on the stand-up comedy circuit. I received an email this week from one of my old class members saying that she was going to go to his show at Caroline’s and did anyone want to join her? Caroline’s is where Seinfeld was always doing his thing in the introduction of his show. Such a big deal! It was so amazing she reached out to us after all this time, and she included this picture in her email which immediately took me in a time capsule back exactly six years ago.

UCB

Weight Lifting Shoes – So I officially feel like a bad ass now. No…not really at all. Scott recommended I get lifting shoes a few weeks ago for my squat and deadlift workouts. He of course ordered a pair too, but if you look closely mine have the purple stripes.

Weight Lifting Shoes

I am getting used to wearing them since they are hard and need to be broken in a bit. They also have a little heel which is an adjustment too. If you do any type of lifting then these types of shoes could serve as a benefit. You can check them out on the Muscle Driver website here.

Orange is the New Black – My sister loved this show and raved about it for a while. I watched the first season in a blur, and I am slowly making my way through the 2nd season. It is a little slower and I have been busy in the evenings with a few projects I am developing. The show is very entertaining and I am enjoying it way more than I thought I would. After all it is a show about women in prison. I love having a show I am watching where I can control how much I watch at one time. Typically I am a binge watcher of such things, but it is cool to have option to pace myself.

Orange is the New Black

Question of the Day: What is one thing making you happy this week?

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