A Healthy Lifestyle: Is It Worth It? Where I’m at Right Now.

I think it’s fair to say we all, generally-speaking, desire to live a balanced lifestyle.  Though, sometimes it seems like maneuvering such a lifestyle walks a fine line between managing a routine and increasing madness.  That’s right, I said it.  A healthy lifestyle can be hard.  As simple as it may sound to “just eat more fruit and vegetables”, that isn’t always the simple answer. 

a healthy lifestyle cauliflower rice burrito bowl
Cauliflower rice burrito bowl with black beans, tomato, carrots, corn, red onion, and cilantro.

I hold the belief that the food, exercises, behaviors, and even the thoughts we have are what determine our overall wellness.  If you’re just doing the exercise part, or, you aren’t mindfully connecting the food that you eat as being valuable to your health, then you may be missing out on some key parts of wellness.  These four areas are interconnected and, together, provide optimum health possibilities for you.  Here’s the catch: they require constant maintenance!

Recently, I began reading Alisa Vitti’s WomanCode.  The guidance outlined in the book addresses hormonal imbalance in women that perfectly aligns with the areas that I previously stated are (in my opinion) essential for overall wellness.  In addition to information about what the causes and signs of hormonal imbalance are (spoiler alert: they’re actually a lot more common than you think), Vitti provides an outline for food, exercise, and lifestyle choices that will best support women throughout their monthly cycle.  So, the adjustments that I’m currently making to sync with my cycle are my attempts to improve my health.   

a healthy lifestyle cycle calendar
Moon calendar of June which is representative of the woman’s four cycle phases.

I do believe that our bodies are ever-changing.  The sugary treats I used to eat on the regular as a kid don’t feel as good now.  Heck, even on a day-to-day basis, my mood can change and the kind of workout I am up for varies.  As far as my status of health and wellness goes, I feel pretty clear about what I want in my life and what I don’t (though, other areas of life, such as career paths, are something else).  I prefer to exclude food or activities that are toxic to my body and mind.  Instead, I’d rather place my focus on what does serve me and listen to the messages my body and mind give me. 

I started this post by saying how hard it is to keep up a healthy lifestyle.  There are several areas to juggle and sometimes it is overwhelming to keep trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  Along the way, it might require taking a break from exercise or over-indulging in a restaurant-serving of pasta.  #LIFE  Trial and error sucks but the learning experiences help me reinforce why I started my health and fitness journey in the first place: to feel like my best self.    

We weren’t designed to live in one constant state or rigid daily ritual.  Rather, each day is different and each day we can learn how to better ourselves. 

a healthy lifestyle

I actually got inspiration for this thought piece from Alexis over at Hummusapien.  She recently wrote a post about her decision to live intuitively day to day.  I admire her mindset and I recommend you go check out her post for another great perspective on the whole healthy living scheme of things.

Thank you for reading!  I don’t have all of the answers (though, I’ve never claimed to) so I appreciate you for taking an interest in my thoughts and sticking around this little blog of mine.  Does the ever-changing nature of your health and fitness journey confuse you, too?  Let me know.  I love reading your comments♥

Watermelon Spinach Salad

watermelon spinach salad

Happy hump day, folks!  Who else is planning their summer menu?  I’ve got the perfect recipe for barbecues, family potlucks, and all of the upcoming summer festivities!  Picnic or potluck style food used to be my jam.  I loved eating potato salad, cold pasta salad, deviled eggs—basically anything with mayonnaise. 😋 Though, why have mayo when you can have fresh, colorful food?!  The Watermelon Spinach Salad I’ve whipped up will be the game-changing healthy side dish or main to jazz up summertime meal spreads!

watermelon spinach salad

Occasionally, salads make an appearance at the average summer get-together but a big pile of green leaves does not usually appeal to people.  Add in a little texture and color and bam!  Suddenly the dish takes on a whole new kind of appetizing.  Watermelon is abundant and affordable during summer months so make sure you use a fresh and firm one for this salad.  Grainy or barely-sweet watermelon is not something we want in this salad.

Refreshing watermelon, briny green olives, and the texture of the quinoa and sliced almonds make this salad so satisfying!

It works great as a side dish but it’s also easy to turn into a meal.  Just add protein of choice like chickpeas (or lemon pepper tuna, if you’re like my mom) and then it’s a complete meal!  To coat the salad, I used an adaptation of a lemon dressing from Cookie and Kate that I’ve been head over heels for.  It’s seriously the best for drizzling on ANYTHING!  It is a subtle complement to make this salad come alive.  I know I’ll be making this again and again throughout the summer!

watermelon spinach salad

watermelon spinach salad

watermelon spinach salad

watermelon spinach salad

Have a great rest of your week!  Also, don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out on any of my new posts.  Subscribe via the right-hand side panel or at the bottom of this page. 😉

watermelon spinach salad

Watermelon Spinach Salad
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Recipe type: Main, Side
Cuisine: American
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
I've created a fun salad to take to all of the upcoming summer festivities! It's perfect for barbecues to potlucks, or simply enjoy at home with a glass of lemonade. Recipe makes 2 main salads or 3 side servings but can easily be multiplied.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder (Kate uses 2 cloves garlic, minced)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • A dash of black pepper
  • 5 cups packed spinach
  • 1 heaping cup cooked white quinoa
  • ½ cup sliced radishes
  • 4 large green olives from a jar (I used garlic-stuffed, marinated olives)
  • For serving: 3 cups cubed watermelon, 3 tbsp sliced almonds, and, optional, protein of choice—I went with ½ cup garbanzo beans
Instructions
  1. First, combine ingredients for the dressing in a medium bowl. Everything from the olive oil through the black pepper.
  2. Then, add the spinach to the bowl and lightly massage or toss to thoroughly coat with the dressing.
  3. Incorporate the cooked quinoa, radishes, and green olives.
  4. To serve, add the watermelon and sliced almonds. Plus, optional protein, if eating the salad as a main dish.
Notes
Salad is best eaten right away but can last up to a day if made ahead of time. If saving for later, store the watermelon separately so it doesn't water down the salad and combine when ready to serve.

 

Banana Tahini Shake – My current FAVE

Alright, alright, alright!  How is everyone doing today?  It is Tuesday and it’s time to break out the tahini! Can that be a thing?  Move over tacos, it’s Tahini Tuesday! 😆

Banana Tahini Shake

It’s no secret that smoothies are my favorite thing ever and if I can sneak some vegetables in them, that’s even better.  Too much fruit in a smoothie can spike my blood sugar and leave me crashing with hanger mid-morning.  That doesn’t mean fruit is a no-go, it just means I need to include a little something extra to stabilize my energy and keep hunger at bay.  A recent discovery that I’ve made in regards to my smoothies is the power of HEALTHY FATS.

I used to be so scared of using oil or eating peanut butter and avocados (not necessarily together), but now I know that a moderate amount of fat is A-okay!  I eat mostly plant-based so when I include healthy fats, I add a satiating element to my meals, too.

Banana Tahini Shake

So, back to the Banana Tahini Shake!  Technically it could fall under the “smoothie” category but it is so rich and comforting that it feels like a shake to me.  Shakes are usually loaded up with ice cream, dairy milk, and sugar but mine is sweetened with banana.  It’s more than healthy enough for breakfast for sure!  Plus, the addition of tahini really helps round out the smoothie/shake.  It is…

Uniquely satisfying,

Subtly sweet,

And perfectly thick.

I have been digging this for weeks now and I’m very excited to share it!  Let me know if you try it out 🙂

Banana Tahini Shake Header

 

Banana Tahini Shake
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Recipe type: Breakfast
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
Zucchini adds fiber, tahini adds satiating fats, and banana brings home the sweetness in this simple Banana Tahini Shake.
Ingredients
  • ¼ large frozen zucchini (about ½ cup chopped)
  • 1 med frozen banana
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • a dash of black pepper
  • ½ inch knob of fresh ginger, frozen (I like the zestiness of it but you can sub ground)
  • 1-2 tbsp of tahini,
  • 1 serving of plant-based protein powder, optional
  • ¾ cup - 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • Barbaras Bakery Puffins or other cereal, optional
Instructions
  1. Add zucchini, banana, and ginger to a blender or food processor and ¾ cup of almond milk. Blend away! Then add the spices, tahini, and protein powder. Add more milk, if needed.
  2. Serve the smoothie in a glass with some low-sugar cereal of choice, if desired. Best enjoyed with a spoon and straw.

No-Bake Almond Coconut Bars

I’ve got such a case of wanderlust right now; I can’t even handle it.  I want to be anywhere else but my hometown.  Has anyone else experienced this?

almond coconut bars

Every couple of months I get an overwhelming desire to move somewhere new.  A few years back in college, I was itching to head to Ireland for a semester abroad.  The experience surely would have been worthwhile but I played it (financially) safe and did not act on my dream.  Recently, though, all I want to do is move out of my hometown.  If you follow my Instagram, you might have heard me mention how I want to move out of California.  I currently live in the same hometown, or county, that I grew up in and I feel stuck.

Just yesterday I came across this article on Medium about how to live the life you want.  It might sound kitschy but inspirational articles and videos are all that get me by.  Anyway, the article’s author, Isaac Morehouse, stated something that really resonated with me:

“There’s something weird about staying in your hometown. It severely limits the definitions you accept for what makes you successful. Oddly, most of the hometown definitions of success have nothing to do with happiness. They have to do with becoming what everyone in your past expects or desires given who you used to be. It’s a sort of tether to a past self that no longer exists.”

 

almond coconut bars

As I read the article, and the above quote in particular, I felt understood like never before.  I really need a change from my same-old, same-old hometown.  It’s easier to say you want something to happen than to see it happen.  I’ve narrowed down where I want to go and have been applying to jobs left and right.  Unfortunately, I rarely hear back from any of the places I’ve put in applications. My guess is either:

A. No one wants to hire someone from out of state.

or

B. I’m oblivious of how under-qualified I am for the jobs that I’ve been applying for.

Ideally, I want to have some hope of acquiring a job before I move to the area I have in mind.  I’ve got some money saved up but not enough to keep me from wanting to play it safe.  (Thus, the reason I squashed my Ireland dreams in college).  Sigh.  It’s not an easy task to move out but I’m slowly working on it.

almond coconut bar ingredients

On a different note, something that is easy and does not require anyone to move (nice transition, right?) are these Almond Coconut Bars!  They are my ultimate favorite homemade snack bar.  They are inspired by the Balanced Goodness Coconut + Granola Go Macro bars but the ingredients are simplified.  You could totally make them into balls if you prefer small energy bites but I prefer larger bars, similar to the Go Macro ones.

almond coconut bars

They are ridiculously simple to throw together so if you make them, let me know! 🙂

No-Bake Almond Coconut Bars
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Recipe type: Snacks
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 bars
Inspired by Go Macro Balanced Goodness Coconut + Granola bars. These bars are only four ingredients, naturally sweetened, and don't require any baking.
Ingredients
  • ½ cup (about 15 Neglet) sticky, pitted dates*
  • 2 heaping tbsp of almond butter
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, puree the dates to a thick paste. Add the almond butter and pulse.
  2. Take the ¼ cup of rolled oats and add them to a nonstick pan. On a stovetop, lightly warm the oats until they smell/look toasted. Three minutes on medium heat should be enough.
  3. Add the warm oats to the food processor, along with the coconut, and process until combined.
  4. Mixture will look dry and crumbly but, as you pick it up with your hands, it should mash together. Add 2 teaspoons of warm water if the mixture does not mash together and process again (I didn’t need to add any).
  5. Separate the mixture into 4 balls and form into square-shaped bars.
  6. They will keep at room temperature for a day, or store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Notes
*If your dates have been stored in the fridge or freezer, or simply aren't sticky, soak them in hot water to soften. I like to heat up some water in a pot on the stove and let the dates rest in the hot water for 10 minutes.

Glyphosate in the Food Industry and Switching to Organic Produce

Delicious Seasonal produce

Lately, I hear more and more reasons why we should make the switch to organic food.  The organic label is thrown around a lot so I used to place little to no importance on it.  I figured it was good enough to be buying produce and eating as many colorful foods as I can.  Though, recent articles and news about glyphosate and its manufacturer have caught my concern.

Glyphosate is a chemical, known to most Americans by its commercial term, “Round Up”.  Agricultural industries used the chemical to combat weeds and also dry out certain crops.  Check out this article at Nature’s Path Organic for the full story on glyphosate and where it is used.

Sidenote:

Nature’s Path Organic makes delicious cereals and granola and they also have a wonderful blog.  It is filled with weekly articles on a number of plant-based nutrition, health, natural living, and other topics consumers should be aware of.  Even if you don’t buy Nature’s Path Organic brand products, you can still enjoy their educational blog posts and resources.

Anyway, there is a major problem in agriculture and the food industry when many crops are reliant on glyphosate.  Another recent article elaborated on the attempts Monsanto, a large manufacturer of glyphosate, has made to persuade the Environmental Protection Agency to label its product as safe.  Vani from foodbabe.com, goes on to showcase some leaked email communications between Monsanto and the EPA.  It is scary to think how many scientists have categorized certain products as safe for human use but are actually dangerous for us.  According to the same foodbabe article, glyphosate is a probable carcinogen that has become so ubiquitous in our environment that it does not stay on just GMO crops.  Glyphosate is sprayed; it goes into the air, possibly travels to organic crops, and suddenly there it is in a ridiculous number of products that we wouldn’t expect to find it!

The uncomfortable part is that, like I mentioned at the beginning, simply buying fruits and vegetables may not be enough.  Health is my highest concern and I make it a priority to nourish myself with only wholesome ingredients.  It is hard to hear that the bulk lentils that I buy or the whole grains in my favorite bread may have glyphosate traces.

It is likely that certified organic produce should be mostly-free of the chemical but is it even possible to go full-on organic for everything?

Personally, I have opted for organic in products (like tofu) that I know stem from major GMO crops (soy).  Still, it is difficult to make a change to buy all organic produce.  It can cost almost double to buy organic apples vs. regular apples but, in addition, there is a limited availability of organic produce.  Many grocery stores have an organic section that is a small fraction of the rest of the produce.  A limited budget and limited options make this consumer very concerned about how to proceed.

Had you heard of the glyphosate ordeal prior to reading this post?  What are your thoughts on organic produce?  Please share any thoughts in the comments.  I’d love to hear what you have to say.