Friday, June 5, 2015

Balsamic Roasted Almonds and A Return to Blogging

It's been too long since my last post but in an effort to get back into the blogging game, I want to share with you a recipe that I made a while ago but neglected to share. This recipe for balsamic roasted almonds puts a new twist on a well known healthy snacking staple...they are perfect just by themselves or even in a salad to add a good crunch as a better alternative to croutons, crisps, or even other candied nuts.

This year has been full of new and exciting things personally, and I hope to share more of them from now on, even if they don't necessarily involve recipes or cooking, which has in the past been my main motivation for posting. During the spring, I have been from New Orleans to Washington to Puerto Rico to California, and have worked and graduated and moved at the same time. This is just the warm-up for the rest of the summer, which I will be spending in Europe, and I hope to give you more travel-related updates in the coming months, whether they involve food or not. Anyways, like with all success, consistency is key and while I've clearly failed in the past, that's what I'm aiming for with blogging from now on. Things are calming down again for the time being, and I want to take this time to get reconnected and make posting a regular responsibility. We will see how it goes, but for now, enjoy this recipe and as always, please let me know what you think!

Balsamic Toasted Almonds


Balsamic Roasted Almonds

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of salted or unsalted almonds (approx.)
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (if using unsalted almonds)
  • Additional spices to taste (rosemary, thyme, even lemon pepper)
Balsamic Toasted Almonds

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 175 degrees.
  • Lightly spray a saucepan with olive or coconut oil, add almonds, and warm up over medium heat until pan sizzles when you sprinkle water on it.
  • Add balsamic vinegar, salt, and any additional spices and reduce to low heat
  • Stir constantly with a spatula until the balsamic vinegar starts to thicken and coat the almonds.
  • Once the balsamic vinegar almost completely transfers to cover the almonds, remove from heat.
  • Transfer almonds to a lined baking sheet (wax paper works best) and make sure that they are distributed over a single layer only to avoid sticking
  • Bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until the balsamic shell hardens further.
  • Let cool and enjoy! The more batches you make, the more you can play around with the balsamic/salt/spice ratio until you figure out what you enjoy the most. Best if stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container. 
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Friday, February 6, 2015

Embracing Uncertainty

Now that I have to consider myself a recent college graduate, I've been thinking a lot about this interesting and overwhelming state of being. I have a degree from a great university, and have been looking forward to getting this piece of paper for most of my life. Since the age of six I've diligently followed what I was "supposed to do" to get to graduation, and now all of a sudden I don't have a plan anymore to tell me how to be successful. Whatever I've been working towards this entire time is actually here...so now what?

I really don't have an answer. But maybe not being sure can be a good thing, and I'd like to share why.

I'm realizing more that being able to navigate through uncertainty depends on perspective. When I was busy following my plan, I didn't give myself the freedom to accept not knowing what the future would look like. Adjusting to uncertainty isn't easy after years of having an academic road map with the milestones neatly planned out, and the bubble of college life offering insulation from the bills and unexpected expenses of the real world. But now that we've technically learned how to be successful adults, we have to actually do it, and somehow do it well. At the same time, it's a unique situation to have the freedom to try new things without huge repercussions, figure out where our interests really lie, and not be tied down to anything else in the process. Having a positive mindset towards this can help us realize the potential benefits of not having everything figured out, and provide clarity in the long run. In a sense it's about being selfish in the best way possible, by taking the opportunity to actually try to find what we want, without paying regard to what we think we should want.

So how can we practice embracing these impending uncertainties?

1. Focusing on the present
It can be stressful not knowing whether an interest, a job, or a person is just passing or more permanent. Because it isn't always possible to assess the long term significance of something right away, maybe the best thing to do is to acknowledge what the experience has brought so far, and appreciate the value it has added in the present, rather than looking too far ahead. We can't know what the future will bring until we live it out, and until then thinking about the uncertainty of it results in wasted energy. If the situation hasn't brought any positive value yet, then it might be a good idea to step away from it, or find a way to turn it into a positive experience.

2. Being resourceful, not reluctant
It's easy to think that information will fall into our laps, but we shouldn't wait for it. If we want something, and think it will bring benefit in the long term, we need to figure out how to get there without hesitating until it's too late and someone else does it instead. If we don't know how to start, then we need to identify the steps and the resources necessary to get there. The hardest part is taking initiative.

3. Asking questions; it isn't stupid
People are a lot more empathetic, understanding, and willing to help than we give them credit for. They can be a great source of advice if we just get over ourselves and go talk to them. Asking questions was important in class to do well on tests, so the same might as well apply for "real life" tests too. I guarantee the majority of people will be willing to share their knowledge, and more likely than not will feel respected and flattered that we valued their opinion enough to ask.

4. Improving our outlook on change
It's easy to imagine our lives as straightforward, and when things come up that don't exactly fit into the path we envisioned, we tend to bucket them under impossible. But is there really a reason why these unexpected deviations shouldn't happen other than the fact that we have set mental boundaries against them? There's a good chance these changes can lead to different (maybe even better) scenarios than we planned for before. When we assess our opportunities without outside pressures and assumptions, we realize there is a lot more freedom in our lives than we give ourselves the option for.

5. Acknowledging the inevitability of failure
Once we actually become open to change, we make ourselves more vulnerable to failure of meeting expectations in the process. But even if things don't turn out they way we thought, the experience is usually more valuable than having to ask the sinking questions of "what if" later. It sounds more appealing to take leaps of faith rather than wondering in retrospect what could have happened instead. When it comes to making mistakes, in athletics we've been told to "flush it, fix it, and forget it" and I trust that this guideline is universally applicable. Shit is bound to happen, and as long as we learn from it, we can end up in a better place through the process of acknowledging it and moving on.

6. Identifying continuity
It's important to recognize the people we appreciate the most in our lives, listen to them, and give them our attention in return. The people who are there unconditionally will be willing to give us perspective when we can't find it ourselves. As other things shift or fall apart, we can trust, rely on, and support the people who are closest to us, and in that way find a lasting source of stability as a way to deal with changes and uncertainties.

Fog- Natural Bridges, CA




















As I experience this new phase, I can't say that I have any answers, but I'm excited to try and find some of them. Hopefully in the process my thinking can provide some perspective for you as well.


Thanks for reading!

Fog- New Delhi, India

Friday, December 5, 2014

Healtheasy Workout Series #1

As I've promised, I want to give a little bit more insight into the kinds of workouts I've been doing since ending my organized sports career...it's been a big transition for me that hasn't completely registered yet, but now that my thesis presentation is done and this crazy week is winding down, things are sinking in and I can finally turn my attention more fully to writing again. My goal is to work on maintaining strength, cardio shape, leaning out and toning, while staying efficient with my time. Check it out, try it, and share it...and please let me know what you think!

 Healtheasy Workout #1 
Speed and Resistance

  • Warm-Up Run
    • 1 mile
    • Increase speed from 7.5 to 8 to 8.5 to 9, building up to sprint finish
  • Treadmill Sprints 
    • Speed 9.5
    • 10 rounds aka 5 minutes of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off
    • Build on number of rounds moving forward
  • Back Squats
    • 4 sets of 10 
    • Weight progression by set from 45 lbs (the bar), to 50, to 55, stayed at 55 for last set
    • Generally stay on the lighter side for higher reps, but use bar or dumbells and work up/down in weight based on ability
  • RDL shrugs
    • 4 sets of 5 RDLs with a shrug at the end of each lift
    • 75 lbs 
  • Tuck jumps
    • 10 tuck jumps in between each set of Back Squats and RDLs
  • 10 minute abs
    • Including: 1 min plank, 1 minute side plank on each side
    • Russian twists with 12 lb weight
    • Toe touches w/ 12 lbs weight
    • Straight leg raises w/ weight behind head
    • Standing side bends with 25 lb weight
My disclaimer is this: I am no health professional, but operate on the assumption that I know what's best for my body. It is evident that what is best for my workout routine might not be best for yours, so listen to what your body tells you. While my goal is to push myself until I feel like throwing up or passing out, make sure you do not actually get that point. Rest when you're supposed to, work yourself when you're ready, and make sure you brush up on good lifting technique. Peace and blessins :) 

I also leave you with a roundup of some of my most recent Instagram posts that feature some Healtheasy snack/food ideas, in case you for some weird reason have failed to follow me up to this point ;) 

Roasted Squash and Red Cabbage
Roasted Squash and Red Cabbage
Greek Yogurt with Frozen Berries and Almond Butter
Greek Yogurt with Frozen Berries and Almond Butter
Roasted and Seasoned Vegetables with Cottage Cheese
Roasted and Seasoned Vegetables with Cottage Cheese
Please connect with me! 

                                                      


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fueling By Zero with Octane Fitness

Hey friends! Now that it's finally starting to sink in that my volleyball career is over, and despite it being a reason to celebrate, it is also bitter-sweet and makes me pretty nostalgic. I am, however, so excited to make my own schedule, workouts, and direct my focus on projects that I haven't had time for. One of the things I'm most excited for is that I can now exercise the way I know is best for me and won't further hurt my back and knees and every other body part that's been injured in recent years. I'm giving myself some time to recover and do as much low-impact exercise as I can to get back in good health.

As a result of finally having time to do what I am passionate about, I was able to attend an event in the city hosted by Octane Fitness last week, and it was a ton of fun! It was awesome getting familiar with the brand, and their new machine, the Zero Runner, in particular. It coincidentally is exactly something that would provide a huge benefit to me in this stage of fitness, as it is a workout and cross-training tool that offers zero impact running! Talk about how helpful that would be for my broken down body...a real "game changer"! The Zero Runner allows the athelte to simulate a running movement in place (which is great for focusing on technique) and offers an incredible cardio workout without the stress of pounding on the pavement or dealing with less that ideal running conditions outside. I got to test it out, and once I got the hang of it, it was a lot more fun than the elliptical and definitely more challenging, because there is no motor (it is sooo quiet) and I was moving the machine entirely with my own body!



It was great hearing what Larry Schmidt, longtime runner, marathoner, and Ironman participant, along with Olympian and five-time NCAA champion Carrie Tollefson had to say about the importance of embracing recovery, the evolution towards exercising not longer but smarter, and strategies for dealing with injury. Larry, who has run over 80 marathons, 17 ultra-marathons, and 5 ironman triathlons, is now able to log so many more miles with the help of the Zero Runner and most importantly, without the pain that the high impact of conventional running causes him. Carrie, who is also a mom and used the machine to stay fit while pregnant, touched upon the benefit that active recovery and cross-training can provide (the Zero Runner offers strength and flexibility training with its unique CROSS CiRCUIT program), and how quality technique as opposed to logging "junk miles" is crucial to staying healthy in the long run. As athletes, it is inevitable that we will face setbacks and injuries, but it is how we deal with them that will determine the outcome and future successes. Hopefully as more people begin to realize this, they will prioritize their wellbeing and the health of their athletes before anything else. With tools like the Zero Runner, active recovery and effective cross-training for injury prevention become so much more accessible, and not to mention trackable...you can even trace your running gait to make sure that you are getting quality miles in! The best part is, the benefits can be experienced by everyone, ranging from beginner to elite athlete, expectant mother to injured runner, running enthusiast, or somewhere in between. I had such a great time learning about the new technologies that are available with the Zero Runner, including an app that syncs to your machine for real-time feedback on your stride. This will allow runners to improve workout quality and efficiency and I can't wait to see the Zero Runner continue to grow in popularity! I was bummed when I didn't win the machine in the raffle at the event, but who knows, if my future dream job is right around the corner, I will be able to treat myself! You seriously get so much bang for your buck (or $3,299 bucks to be exact) and our bodies will thank us for the investment.



If you want to check out more, visit the Zero Runner page on the Octane Fitness website, or their Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts! Fitfluential will also be hosting a Twitter chat about the Zero Runner on December 2nd, so stay tuned and join in the fun to learn even more!

Looking forward to hearing you weigh in on what you think of this awesome new fitness tool :)
This post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Octane Fitness.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Protein Muffins

Happy Monday everyone!!

As part of my "get shit done" campaign for this week, and my greater comeback to the world of blogging, I'm sharing with you a very exciting recipe! It's perfect for the upcoming holiday, and one that won't derail you from your goals, or feel like you're missing out on any dessert action :) These make a great travel snack too, if you are journeying to visit family and don't want to waste time stopping at a mediocre rest stop, or if you get hungry and happen to be stuck in traffic. Just saying...trust me when I say these will come in handy :)

I have basically spent these past couple months of volleyball season perfecting this recipe, since it is the only thing I have really worked on in my kitchen lately, as you can see from my sad lack of blog posts. My team and my family (who visited last weekend which and it was incredible) have served as guinea pigs, and hopefully would agree that this is the best version!

Enjoy, and as always please provide me with some feedback when you make these! Blow up my social media sites with comments and pictures and I will be a happy camper :)

Pumpkin Spice Protein Muffins
Pumpkin Spice Protein Muffins

Pumpkin Spice Protein Muffins

Ingredients
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 heaping cup almond or cashew flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup vanilla protein powder (flavorless or vanilla)
  • 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
Directions
  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, and whisk together.
  3. Crack eggs, separating egg whites into their own bowl, and adding yolks into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
  4. Into the bowl with the egg yolks and dry ingredients, add the honey, pumpkin puree, coconut oil, and vanilla exract, and blend well with a hand blender or mixer until smooth.
  5. Whisk the egg whites by hand (or preferably with a mixer) until peaks form. Add into the bowl with the batter, and mix with a spatula until the egg whites are fully integrated. The batter should feel on the thick side, yet light and fluffy.
  6. Grease muffin tins with butter or choice of oil (I use reusable silicone tins so I don't need to and it is awesome) and fill until each is about 3/4 full.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes, then turn off and let cool in the oven with the door open.
  8. Enjoy!! 
Pumpkin Spice Protein Muffins

What are your plans for the holiday weekend? I want to hear about them, and whatever they are, I hope they include these muffins ;)

Please connect with me! 

                                                      



Friday, October 10, 2014

A New Approach to Healtheasy

I haven't had a lot of time lately to make new recipes- just kidding, I haven't made a lot of time. If I really wanted to, I could probably find a way, but I have been spread pretty thin and the motivation just hasn't been there.

But the more I think about my lack of new blog posts lately, the more I realize that the concept of Healtheasy applies to more than just food. From now on, I'll be sharing more of my thoughts on productivity, empowerment, positivity, and observations from my life that can help others assess their own and encourage taking action to make change. Beyond just recipes, that is what's been on my mind the most lately, so it's what I can offer to share in order to impact you in the best way.

I thought of this idea as I was procrastinating by getting ready for class instead of working on my thesis like I had set out to do this morning: You can't gain respect without taking action first. Because without work and results, you have no substance to show for your words. We strive to gain credibility and and admiration from those around us, but we can't expect this without first providing something valuable for others first. If you want others to regard you in a positive way, you have to act accordingly, and with consistency.

I always think back my triathlon coach when I was little on bike rides in the morning: If you're not going the extra mile, someone else out there is. You have to be willing to do what your competition isn't. And I can't think of a better concept that is relevant beyond athletics and into personal and professional life. Do what you want, and do it in a way that adds value that no one else can offer, whether that be by leveraging your kindness, drive, consistency, integrity, intensity, experience or time.

So get to work friends! I know I'm trying to.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cauliflower Gorgonzola Turkey Bake

I've been trying to get back on this blogging bandwagon for a while, but have been experiencing a little mix of distraction and lack of motivation. Between finals, a trip to China, starting an internship, celebrating my birthday, and enjoying the beginning of summer, I haven't made as much time for it as I would have liked, and there really is no other excuse.

Hopefully that will change however, beginning with this post! Sometimes all it takes is the first step to get the ball rolling again, which holds true whether it be blogging, starting a new workout routine, or making any other change. Personally, I will make sure to take better advantage of the opportunities I do have for cooking than before, since I might even be home for more than a couple hours at a time from now on. I just have to hold myself accountable and put equal priority to expanding this ongoing experiment and sharing more innovative, healthy, and easy recipes with you.

For now, revel in my comeback attempt with me by making this insanely easy recipe for current and future turkey and Gorgonzola lovers :)

You can make meatballs with this recipe too, or a classic meatloaf...same great taste however you like it ;)

Cauliflower Gorgonzola Turkey Bake

Cauliflower Gorgonzola Turkey Bake


Cauliflower Gorgonzola Turkey Bake

Ingredients
  • Approx. 1.5 lbs ground turkey
  • 4 cups fresh cauliflower (about 1/2 of a large head)
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (optional)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground peppercorn
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degreees.
  • Chop pieces of cauliflower into smaller, about 1/4 inch pieces (or pulse a couple of times in a food processor)
  • Place in a mixing bowl and add the ground turkey, along with all other ingredients.
  • Use a spatula (or your hands) to stir all ingredients together until they are thoroughly combined.
  • Grease a pan or baking dish that measures about 8x11 inches, and fill with the mixture (I sprayed with olive oil and used an oval pyrex dish)
  • Cover and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with additional Gorgonzola cheese if desired, and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked and bronzing.
  • Enjoy with spinach or kale, grilled vegetables, quinoa, or whatever else you happen to be making! Please let me know how you like it :)

Have you ever lost motivation, taken a break, and then come back? I'd like to hear about it, and what you did to overcome it! Please connect with me here and on social media...

 



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