Things I’m Loving 3!

Click here to read Things I’m Loving 1! and Things I’m Loving 2!.

Now for Things I’m Loving 3!

1.) All your comments yesterday on my blog post about making good girlfriends as an adult. Thank you! It’s nice to see I’m not the only one struggling with this. Now, if we could just find an easy way for everyone to connect.

2.) This infographic I found on the web yesterday. I would never have understood this 6 months ago but I know it all too well now. Although we’ve yet to have that day in March, this is exactly how the seasons in New England feel.

Seasons Screengrab

[Source]

3.) Coconut Oil: I originally bought this to cook with but I’ve been reading a lot about the benefits of using coconut oil as a natural moisturizer. I love the idea of not putting a bunch of random chemicals and fragrances on my face so I thought I would give it a try. Turns out, I love it! Besides smelling amazing, it’s not as greasy as you’d expect, much less so than mineral oil. It makes my skin super soft and I might be making this up but I think it’s smoothing out some little wrinkles near my eyes too. It’s also unbelievably cheap. For $4.99 a jar you get months of moisturizer.

There are a ton of articles on the benefits and other uses for coconut oil. Here’s just one.

One caveat: I have extremely dry skin so I found this perfect. If you have oily or combo skin you’ll have to experiment with whether it’s too much.

trader joe's coconut oil

4.) The Soda Stream!

Michael and I love bubbly water. We used to buy 12 huge bottles every time we went to the store. Not only was it a pain to lug all those bottles upstairs, it’s wasteful and not very green. We bought a Soda Stream a few months ago and haven’t looked back since. It’s not cheap, we bought ours for about $120 at Bed, Bath and Beyond and the CO2 cartridges run about $30 a pop. We get about 30 bottles out of one cartridge averaging out to about a dollar per bottle. Pretty much the same as if you buy it at the store. But the ease and the green factor completely outweigh the costs. If you love bubbly you may want to consider it.

Soda Stream

5.) Writing for WalkJogRun. In the past couple of days I’ve shared two articles with their readers and thought you might like them too.

The first is how to pick the right yoga class for you. It’s a brief overview of the different styles and how to find the right studio and teacher. Check it out if you’re interested in yoga but feel overwhelmed by all the options.

yoga

The second is a smoothie recipe. Really refreshing and light!

breakfast smoothie

6.) A couple of weeks ago we saw the jazz band People vs. Larsen play. They were really good and are on Itunes. They are Brooklyn based so if you live in the NYC area check out their performance schedule.

People vs Larsen

That’s it for today’s list.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Keeping Up Appearances

On Friday night I met my friend Kristy at a bar near downtown for happy hour. It was definitely an after work kind of place with lots of guys in suits and girls in pearls. Most of which were checking emails while having a much-needed drink and talking to their co-workers. True multi-taskers.

Trade

While looking around at everyone, I mentioned to Kristy that one of the disadvantages of working from home and teaching for a living is that I never really get dressed anymore. Not even just dressed up, I mean dressed. I spend all my time in yoga pants with my hair in a bun. I haven’t worn more than a little mascara in months, my blow dryer died two weeks ago and I’ve yet to replace it and the only laundry I’m ever doing is spandex and sports bras. It’s become a problem.

Part of the problem is that I save my workouts for the afternoons, after I’ve written a blog post or an article. Which puts off doing my hair or showering or any of the other things normal people do in the morning. It’s left me feeling rather disheveled, frumpy and lazy.

Time for an intervention.

This morning, right out of the gates, I laced up my new, very awesome running shoes and headed out for a run with the pups. It was a cold morning but it felt really good to be out and about that early. We made a loop by the river and then came through the Commons. We did about 4 moderately paced miles (I didn’t actually track it) with a little time spent saying hi to all the other dogs out for their morning walks.

Morning run

Spring is coming, I don’t care what anyone says.

Eli

We stopped off at the grocery store afterward to grab green smoothie fixings and some peanuts, more on that later this week.

Once home, I showered, changed into real clothes, straightened my hair, put on some makeup and felt like a new woman.

These are obviously not ground breaking events, nor really all that blog worthy, except that they made such a big difference in my day and helped to remind me that keeping up appearances shouldn’t be for the sake of someone else. Looking good can just be for you!

Eli and Me

And maybe the dog, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care that I straightened my hair!

With that, off to make some food. I have a bunch of new recipes I want to try out. I’m hopeful that some will be good enough to share this week.

Happy Monday.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Hippie Life: Juice and Meditation

I realize that sometimes this blog makes me seem like a free-loving, bell bottom wearing hippie with all its yoga and veggie talk. This post will do nothing to dissuade you of that assumption. I’ve come to peace with that!

Today’s post is about juice and meditation. Both of which have been pretty non-existent in my life lately.

First, the juice:

I can’t remember the last time I dusted off my juicer. I definitely go in phases with it. Sometimes having 3-4 a week, then waiting weeks before I use it again. This morning I looked in the fridge and realized I had a lot of odds and ends sitting around. This is going to sound ridiculous but I take great pleasure in using up the random broccoli stalks, the last cup of kale or the other half of the pear I didn’t eat with breakfast yesterday. There’s a feeling of accomplishment that comes with finishing the food I buy and knowing it won’t go to waste. Sort of like checking off a to-do list.

Luckily, all those bits and pieces ended up making the perfect juice and drinking it out of a wine glass made it all the better.

green juice

Here’s the “recipe”.

1/2 an orange, 1 lemon, 1/2 a pear, 1 big handful of kale, 1 broccoli stalk, 1 cucumber, small knob of ginger, small piece of jalapeno.

Fresh, bright, green goodness. Now, if only I didn’t have to clean the juicer.

Second up, meditation:

I’ll be honest, I don’t have a meditation practice. I want to. I know it would be beneficial but I can’t seem to find the self-discipline, which is incredibly frustrating because I have loads of self-discipline in many other aspects of my life. I have little problem with eating well, exercising often, getting enough sleep. I don’t know why sitting still and clearing out the chatter is so hard for me.

Then, last week, I ran across this on Twitter. A 21-day meditation challenge presented by one of my favs, Oprah! I actually ignored it the first time I saw it, but then it surfaced again two days later elsewhere on the web. It got me thinking that maybe the universe was telling me something. So I signed up and did my first guided practice yesterday.

meditation challenge

The whole meditation took about 15 minutes and wasn’t nearly as hard as it usually is when I go it alone. I’m going to try really hard to complete the whole thing and will report back when I’m through. If you’re interested you can still sign up and start with yesterday’s practice today. If you decide to try, let me know how it goes for you.

With that, this hippie is off the drink her juice, do some yoga and clear her mind. Om shanti.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Yoga Updates: Article, Workshop and New Classes

Just a couple of exciting updates to share today if you haven’t already seen them both on Facebook.

My first article for WalkJogRun went live last night. In it I outline the benefits of yoga for runners. If you run and are dabbling with the idea of adding yoga to your training, hopefully this will give you the extra push you need. If you’re not a runner, feel free to check out the article anyway, I’d love your support as I continue to build my writing career.

WalkJogRun Article

Secondly, if you’re in the Boston area on Saturday, March 30th I’m teaching a Fearless Back Bending Workshop at All One Yoga from 1:30-3:30. We’ll working through the fears associated with back bending to deepen your practice.

Back Bending Workshop

Lastly, my teaching schedule will be changing in the next few weeks as I add some classes at All One and shift classes from Crossfit Back Bay to a new studio in Jamaica Plain. I’ll update my teaching schedule page when everything is final and sorted.

Self promotion done.

Back to the food tomorrow. I’m currently working on a millet dish and a quinoa casserole that has huge flop potential but might be worth the gamble.

Have a great Wednesday.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Week of…

Blogging is a funny thing. I originally set out to chronicle our life here in Boston and share some of my favorite recipes. But like most endeavours, it has turned into something much larger and better than I thought it would. I love sharing my creations and thoughts here with you all, and I love connecting with so many wonderful people, both those I know and those I’ve never met. However, sometimes I struggle with what to write. Some weeks there just aren’t enough new recipes to share or the recipes were flops. Sometimes there aren’t enough Things I’m Loving or enough Little Bits of Random. This is when I contest with whether to write nothing at all or to write about nothing. Yesterday I did the former, today the latter.

I apologize to those of you who follow for the recipes, maybe just skip posts like these? And for those of you who ‘read’ just for the pictures (Sarah, who probably didn’t even get this far), there just aren’t many of those this week either.

Maybe someday I’ll look back on posts like these wishing I hadn’t babbled on about nothing but what can I say, I like to write, I like this blog, I like all of you, so write I will, even without a cohesive theme for this post beyond what happened this week.

Here’s a snapshot.

A Week of Workouts:

There isn’t much rhyme or reason to my workouts. I try to do something active everyday like walk to and from my classes but I purposefully workout five days a week. I try to switch it up and attempt to get in two structured yoga classes a week in addition to my home practice. Running and the gym fall into the other days.

Monday was a rest day except for walking Eli and a little home practice with Guy.

cat yoga

On Tuesday I took to the treadmill. I did an incredibly tedious 4 mile run. I hate the treadmill. Every mile feels like 10 and I’m not one who can cover up the time with a towel and just run. So I watch every minute tick by in agony while I play games with myself like, “run until you hit 1.25 miles then you can stop”, at which point I move the goal to 1.50 miles or to running for 18 minutes or whatever the next milestone is. This trick actually works really well for me but it’s a painful process.

On Wednesday I took a hot hatha class after I taught. It’s pretty much a Bikram class but only 75 minutes and not as hot. I’m not a huge fan of Bikram but it was nice to change it up.

Yesterday I got out for a much more enjoyable run. I headed down to the river and ran 3.25 miles at an 8 minute pace. I thought I was going a lot faster but my watch told me differently. Regardless it felt good to stretch my legs again.

Today I plan to make it over to Baptiste for a power class this afternoon.

A Week of Bites:

I had a lot of Starbucks this week. I’m not sure why but I was craving lattes. This is from Wednesday. Sometimes I like to write and do work away from home, gotta love Starbucks for the free wifi and never kicking you out. It’s also amazing people watching.

Starbucks Soy Latte

I also made a lot of sweet treats.

Beyond these

peanut butter chocolate tart

I also tested a banana cake recipe for my friend’s cookbook. I saved a few slices for myself and shared the rest with my 4:30 yoga class yesterday. I was helping a student with arm balances right after class so I didn’t get a chance to ask how they liked it but the entire cake was gone in two minutes so it must have been good. If any of you are reading from that class please let me know what you thought so I can report back.

banana cake

I also made some banana raisin oatmeal bars. I smothered them with my new favorite Bonne Mamam jam: Apricot Raspberry (Flo, it’s almost as good as the plain Raspberry, almost).

oatmeal bars

Earlier this week I also attempted a not so sweet and not very good cashew cream. I haven’t had much luck with cashew creams. I think it might be my lack of a blender?

cashew cream

Anyhow, that’s about it for the week. Thanks for reading the babble if you got this far.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Things I’m Loving 2!

If you missed Things I’m Loving 1 you can find it here.

I sort of love this series. It gives me the chance to find awesome things on the internet or in the world that don’t make much sense to share on their own and make them into a cohesive post.

1.) First up, a birthday gift from my lovely friend Kate. I couldn’t believe it when I opened it. A gold kale leaf! It’s now become a permanent part of my key chain and I smile every time I open the door. Thank you Kate!

kale leaf key chain

2.) I know we’re like 8 years behind the times but we just started the Dexter series and can’t get enough. It’s such a good show, I don’t know how I can root for a serial killer but I love him. Michael C. Hall is brilliant! If you haven’t already watched it, you should.

Dexter

3.) This mini-workout. I found it on Pinterest the other day and did it after a run. It was fun to add a little something different to my usual routine.

Victoria Secret Workout

4.) This book. Unbeknownst to me I downloaded it from the library before realizing it’s about 800 pages long. I’m about 50% through, finally, and although sometimes it can be slow I’m now very invested in these Hungarian characters.

The Invisible Bridge

5.) These Athleta yoga pants. I have been a big Lululemon fan for as long as I can remember and really love their stuff but the prices are a little high, especially on a teacher’s salary. Now that I’m teaching some community classes at Athleta, I thought I’d try out a pair. And then another. And another. I’m loving their pants. They fit great, don’t ride or bunch and are less expensive than Lulu. I also bought a pair for my sister for Christmas and she’s a huge fan for running. Worth a try, you can return after a workout if you hate them, no questions asked.

Athleta pants

6.) The city by the bay. Tickets are booked! We’ll be home the first weekend in April. Let the countdown begin. Napa, Urban Flow, Gracias Madre, fog, friends and family here we come.

Golden Gate

Enjoy and Exhale!

Winter Running and Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothies

I haven’t talked much about running in the last few weeks but I’m still at it. I try to get out 2-3 times a week regardless of the snow, wind and extreme cold; although I do pay a lot of attention to the weather and try my best to run on warmer days when there won’t be ice on the ground. I’ve found the trick to surviving the cold has been to get a good running hat and layering up on top. Personally, too many layers on my legs is more annoying than helpful.

I can’t say my times have been particularly good but my main goal these days is just to get out there and not worry too much about the pace. Here are some of my latest stats. For some reason I can only get the time on my latest workout to show but I’ve put the pace below the other two.

This was the first run I’ve done without Eli in a long time. I thought I would be faster without him but it seems his excitement fuels us along.

IMG_3747

Run 2. Pace 8.28.

IMG_3748

Run 3. Pace 8.09.

IMG_3750

As you can see, I’m holding steady, not really improving my pace right now. But my hope is that all this winter running will make my summer running faster when the weather improves. We’ll see.

From my love of running to my love of smoothies.

Even with the cold weather I’ve been making a ton of smoothies. They make meeting my daily calcium quota so much easier and the flavors are endless.

The smoothie below has quickly become my new favorite. I’ve made it two days in a row and it was just as good today as it was yesterday.

It tastes a lot like a chocolate milkshake with much healthier ingredients. I’m sure you could add a handful of kale to it as well without affecting the flavor too much if you’re looking for some added nutrients.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Smoothie (vegan, gluten-free)

1 banana

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

2 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp natural peanut butter

1 cup unsweetened or vanilla flavored almond milk

3-4 ice cubes, depending on how icy you want it (see note)

————

smoothie ingredients

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until combined.

Note: I often have almond milk that is about to expire. When I have extra I freeze the milk in ice-cube trays then store in Ziplocs. I often use a couple of almond milk cubes in place of the ice cubes. If I use almond milk cubes, I cut back the fresh almond milk to half a cup.

Also,the glasses pictured below are teeny tiny, this recipe yields enough for one smoothie.

Chocolate Peanut Butter SmoothieChocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie DSC_0127

 

Dessert for breakfast.

Enjoy and Exhale!

The Calcium Challenge

My mom, in true mom fashion, still wants to make sure I’m eating healthy, sleeping enough and getting adequate vitamins and minerals.  While she was in Boston over the holidays I must have heard her say ‘make sure you’re getting enough calcium’ about 50 times. To be honest, she’s been saying this for years and I’ve sort of brushed it under the rug assuming that the copious amounts of cheese I was consuming were enough. Now that I am eating less and less dairy, I find myself wondering where my calcium is actually coming from. I’ve never tracked it before so I really had no idea.

Before I get into my findings I’ll preface by saying that I am not a medical doctor nor do I pretend to be. Everything below is based on my own research and understanding of said research (which is debatable). As it pertains to your own diet, please use your best judgement. Okay, now that I’m done sounding like a disclaimer for a drug ad, let’s move on.

I know I’m not the only lady (or man) out there who assumes they’ve got this calcium thing covered but aren’t totally sure how. Hopefully this helps.

How much should we be getting?

Most sources recommend 1000 mg/day for all the below important bodily functions.

Calcium Infographic

[Source]

Where can I get it from?

A glass of milk right? Isn’t that what every kid would say if you asked?

The most common misconception is that you should get your calcium from traditional dairy. But, I’ve read enough to know that dairy isn’t the only source of calcium. Many plant-based foods are great options as well. You can get high levels of calcium from non dairy milk and tofu but certain vegetables, seeds and beans are also good sources such as artichokes, kale (hooray!), sesame seeds, chia seeds and hummus.

Calcium Protein Sources

[Source]

There is also the option of calcium supplements but for those of us with family histories of kidney stones, taking supplements isn’t necessarily the smartest idea. Plus, I believe it’s best to get your nutrients from whole foods whenever possible so I won’t talk supplements here.

Below are a couple good lists of plant-based sources of calcium.

One Green Planet

Harvard Health Services (scroll down a bit for the plant sources)

Vegetarians In Paradise (scroll to bottom of page)

What’s my average intake?

Like I mentioned above, I had no idea where a normal day’s diet would put me on the intake scale so I spent a few days doing calculations without changing anything. Here are my totals:

Day 1 900 mg

Day 2 800 mg

Day 3 600 mg

Day 1 and 2 weren’t horrible but they weren’t 1000 mg. They also both happened to include a soy latte. Although this is fairly typical for me, it’s not an everyday occurrence. I have Starbucks 2-3 times a week, mainly on weekends. On days when I don’t have coffee I have tea without milk, which offers 0% of my daily calcium. Without the latte I am severely under my calcium quota. Day 3 reflects this.

The Challenge!

With my new knowledge in hand, I thought it might be fun to create a challenge.

(If you haven’t figured it out already I like to make up fake challenges for myself, see the Sweet Potato Challenge of 2012, ha).

Can I consistently, key word, consistently, get 1000 mg of calcium a day eating only plant-based foods?

Over the next few weeks I’ll focus on my calcium intake more closely. I’ll try to share how I’ve better incorporated it into my day-to-day diet. I’ll work on some calcium rich recipes that will help close the daily deficiency in my diet and possibly yours and I’ll hopefully quell some of my mom’s worries. 🙂

Anyone else up for the challenge?

Some Kind of Sunday

To start, I’d like to take a moment to remember all the innocent lives lost in Newtown on Friday. Healing and understanding of loss are such personal journeys and everyone grieves in their own way so I will not pretend that I can offer much guidance. However, I do believe in the power of collective voices. So I ask that as you move through your week, may you use your voice as an offering of love in a way that feels authentic to you: chant an Om, say a prayer, dedicate your practice, sing a song, say I love you, sign a petition for gun control, offer light and hope to those around you, especially as we head into this week before Christmas. It might not seem like much but who are we to say that adding a little compassion to the world won’t help?

candles

[Photo Source]

It’s cold and gray here, if not a little bit lonely too. Michael left for South Africa yesterday for work and will be enjoying some 90 degree weather, leaving me and the boys to freeze our tails off. Determined not to let the cold weather get me down I took Eli out for an early 3.5 mile run this morning. We went very slow in comparison to last weekend, part of that was definitely due to the chill, the other to a dog that felt compelled to sniff every tree as we went along. I try not to get too attached to the pace of my runs, many times not even tracking, but sometimes I’m bringing my phone along in hopes of a good photo opportunity anyway so why not Map My Run while I’m at it?

Regardless, here are the stats, if you’re interested that sort of thing.

Map My Run Sunday

When we got back I drank the hottest tea I could muster and searched fruitlessly for recipes to try this week.

I was hoping a new recipe would kick the ugly habits I’ve reacquired from my bachelorette days since Michael’s been gone. I’ve had two back-to-back meals of tomato, basil, cheddar paninis, read countless magazines and watched one very awful Lifetime movie. Michael puts up with a lot of bad TV but Lifetime movies are not tolerated. This was my chance to watch movies like Finding Christmas Eve Under the Mistletoe and Very Merry Holiday Love. I made both those titles up but you get the point. They’re so bad but so addicting. Ladies you feel me right?

I suppose this is my round about way of saying I don’t have a recipe to share. But I can tell you that Dr. Oz highly recommends that getting more calcium be on your new year’s resolution list, that Haylie Duff is not a very good actor and that it is possible to waste an entire afternoon browsing food blogs!

I sincerely hope that you are enjoying your weekend and that it’s been a bit more productive than mine.

Enjoy and Exhale!

And Exhale?

 

yoga

I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog title as I’m sure you have too :). Overall I feel really good about the Quinoa and Kale part, although I do owe you a few more kale recipes but that’s for another day. Right now it’s the exhale part that’s got me bothered.

When I started this blog I sort of resigned myself to allowing my MindBodyGreen articles and occasionally talking about going to or teaching a class to cover the exhale/yoga but I’m starting to think it’s not enough. I spend so much of my day reading, thinking about, practicing, and teaching the exhale part that it seems sort of odd not to talk more about it.

The problem is my own low self-esteem when it comes to yoga. I have been practicing for many years and although there is more to learn (side note: there is always more yoga to learn), I feel fairly confident in my own asana (or physical) practice. Unless of course I get around Michael’s sister-in-law who officially has no spine and makes me feel like an 80-year-old woman, though that’s besides the point.

But you see, the physical practice is only one of the eight limbs of Patanjali’s yoga and its main purpose is to set you up for a meditation practice, which I’m still struggling with. And then there are six other limbs that I am only now beginning to explore. Plus, the philosophy and the history and the ancient texts and the teachings and the chants I know some of the words to but not the meanings of, and, and, and you can see that I know very little about all of this and I don’t want to seem like a big, fat fraud.

yoga mat

Though the more I contemplate it the more my gut keeps telling me not to shy away. I have learned something about yoga, however little that might be, and I think there are some really valuable lessons to be shared. Everyday concepts that are easy for anyone to grasp, not only those who have dedicated their lives to the practice or live in ashrams or even those who’ve step onto a mat. So I’m going to do my best to cast aside my egoist fears and start talking a little bit more about what I now do for a living and my own personal journey with yoga. Everything may not be 100% correct but it will be 100% heart-felt and genuine to my life, practice and experiences.

Now that we have that out of the way, yesterday I read the following quote from Eastern Body, Western Mind and it struck a chord with me, especially in this time of technology obsession (btw, I have that too)!

“Disconnection from the body is a cultural epidemic. Of all the losses rupturing the human soul today, this alienation may be the most alarming because it separates us from the very roots of existence. With jobs that are degrading, routines that are automatic and environments that annihilate our senses, we lose the joy that arises from the dynamic connection with the only presence we are guaranteed to have for the whole of our lives: our body. To lose our connection with the body is to become spiritually homeless. Without an anchor we float aimlessly, batter by the winds and waves of life.”

I shared this quote in one of my classes last night and asked that my students stay really present in their bodies for the full 75 minutes, not letting their minds run off to their to-do lists and dinner plans, not setting themselves to autopilot. Of course, this was more easily applicable to a yoga class but what about everyday life?

Can we be a bit more present in our own bodies? Can we set aside the constant stimulation of technology and just be, even if for a minute or two? Can we take a moment to scan our own bodies to see how we really feel? Especially this time of year when we’re supposed to be cheerful, joyful, all holiday’d up, is it possible to be honest with ourselves about how we’re really feeling and be okay with whatever emotion comes up? Can we breathe a little more fully? Eat a little more slowly?

As I mentioned, I’m guilty of neglecting all of the above as well. So this morning I took Eli out for an extra long walk. I left my cell phone at home. I took a couple of deep breaths into the December sun, I gave my dog my full attention and my body a little time away from a glaring screen. Of course I’m back here typing but I offer this up as a simple reminder. Do with it as you please.

And if you read this far (bless you), check out this amazing story from a blog I came across yesterday, it’s a true depiction of the holiday spirit.

Happy weekend all and with a new sign off…

Enjoy and Exhale!