Monthly Archives: May 2014

My Healthy Morning Routine

Happy Friday!

I can’t believe that I’ve been in my new house for almost 2 weeks already. You know what they say – time flies when you’re unpacking a million boxes of stuff, shopping for appliances and furniture, and figuring out how to take care of a pool! 😉

A few days after we moved in, I was ready to get back to my healthy morning routine. Life was so crazy and out of whack for awhile there, and I just felt like I wanted to start my days off on the right foot. It has been so nice to get into the habit of doing these three things when I wake up in the morning:

glass-of-water

(source)

1.) Drink a big glass of water. I usually wake up feeling thirsty, so the first thing I do after all of the normal wake-up activities is get a nice drink of H2O.

Yoga mat

2.) Move my body. I love to wake my body up right away, so I’ve been doing around 20 minutes of exercise in the AM. I like to switch it up, so sometimes it’s yoga, sometimes it’s a quick cardio/strength training DVD, and sometimes it’s a walk with Harley. It depends on what my body is craving that morning, but whatever it is, it’s something that benefits both my body and mind.

Green juice - fire pit

3.) Green monster time. After my mini workout, it’s breakfast time. I love to put my juicer to work and get in lots of vitamins and antioxidants early in my day. I don’t do a green juice every single day because then I kind of burn out on them, but a lot of days I make a green juice.

Questions: Do you start your day off with a healthy routine? If you only have time for a short workout, what type of exercise do you usually do?

Smoothie of the Week: Cherry Bomb

In the minds of many Americans, Memorial Day weekend marks the start of summer, even though summer doesn’t technically start for around another month.

It feels like summer to me because last weekend marked the first sunburn of the year for my light skin (with very odd tan lines might I add – I think I have streaks of lines on my arm where my headphone cord was hanging down!) despite putting on suntan lotion multiple times. Meanwhile my hubby got nicely bronzed, because sometimes life just isn’t fair my friends.

dog beach

When I think of summer, I think of things like the beach, sangria, backyard BBQs, and sundresses – my favorite attire ever. Of course there’s the summery food that comes to mind, which includes lots of seasonal fruit, corn on the cob, bright salads, and of course, refreshing smoothies…

Cherry Bomb-3For the last couple of summers, I’ve seriously craved all types of cherries: fresh cherries, frozen cherries, dried cherries, cherry Italian ice, cherry ice cream. If it’s cherry anything, I’m probably in.

Cherry Bomb-2

Well, I don’t think this summer is going to be any different, because last week while grocery shopping I had cherries on my brain. There weren’t any fresh cherries where I was, so a bag of frozen cherries it was…. and that bag of cherries is already gone because I kept using it to make this easy to throw together, nutritious, tasty smoothie!

Cherry Bomb-1

Cherry Almond Smoothie
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 4 oz plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 oz raw almonds
  • ¾ cup frozen sweet cherries
  • ¼ TSP almond extract
  • 1 packet/1 g stevia sweetener
  • Ice
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse until well combined. Pour into a glass and enjoy immediately!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 smoothie, Calories: 350, Fat: 14 g, Saturated fat: 1 g, Carbohydrates: 40 g, Sugar: 23 g, Fiber: 8 g, Protein: 20 g

 

What food reminds you most of summer?

Memorial Day Weekend Snapshots

Hi friends! I hope that all of you had a great weekend. To all of my American readers, I hope that had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and in the midst of your wonderful weekend, that you took the time to honor and remember all of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. 

In honor of the holiday, I wanted to share a link for a memorial fund for a Marine Corps family. Captain Nannen died in a plane crash in March, and the fund is to raise money for his wife and four young children. Feel free to check it out here to find out more.

American Flags, Lubbock, Texas, TX(source)

Weekend Recap

I kicked off my weekend around lots of Marines, as my hubby and I went to a reunion for the first squadron my Marine was in. We all met up for a Padres game in downtown San Diego and hung out at a bar afterwards. It was so much fun to catch up with wives that I’ve gone through deployments with. I totally failed to capture any people photos during the night but did snap one quick pic of the game.

Padres game

After living amongst lots of boxes all of last week, I was so happy to have a long weekend to get some unpacking and organizing done in my new house! This is what I’m most proud of in the house…

Wine Wall

…an entire wall in my kitchen for glasses and wine decor! I think there are 70 something wine glasses on that wall, plus some beer glasses and somewhere around 50 shot glasses, as I used to collect those in college. It’s quite a masterpiece, no?

Over the weekend I discovered a new favorite way to get my schoolwork done: on the beach. Getting my learning on with my feet in the sand and the waves crashing in front of me — not too bad right? I think I may listen to some lectures there every week!

iPad Beach

I also had some time in the sand with my beach bunny puppy, who I think was very happy to be back at the dog beach after a 15-month hiatus while we lived in the Bay Area.

Harley beach

Food-wise, I’m starting to get into the swing of things in my new kitchen. When I was traveling and moving, cooking that required more than a few minutes of work kind of got pushed to the side, so I’m happy to be able to devote more time to making dinner again! My first weekend dinner creation in our new home was rigatoni with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella with a light sauce of olive oil, balsamic and fresh lemon juice and crusty bread on the side:

Caprese pasta-1

Caprese pasta-2

YAY for carbs!

Over the weekend, I ate plenty of my new favorite nut butter:

Cinnamon Raisin PB

You guys, Peanut Butter & Co Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Peanut Butter = heaven! I’ve been enjoying it with fruit, and below I topped a bowl of chopped apple, banana & Kashi cinnamon crumble cereal with some.

PB Fruit Bowl

My hubby and I also went on our first fro yo adventure in this town. While the fro yo we found was delicious, unfortunately it wasn’t DIY, and as you can see, their regular size is quite a hefty portion:

Fro yo

I ate about half and called it quits — giving some to my hubby, a bit to my dog, and the rest to the garbage. I guess next time I’ll have to either find a place I can make a nice little cup myself or order their mini size. Very yummy though!

We also found our first hiking spot in the area. It’s only a few minutes from the house, and there’s a trail around a lake that takes a little under an hour — perfect for a low-key lunchtime hike!

OC Hike-1

One scary moment of the hike was almost stepping on this guy:

Rattlesnake

Yikes!! Harley didn’t even notice it until we stopped dead in our tracks and waited for it to slither by us. The thought of one of us getting bit by a rattlesnake is pretty terrifying… though certainly not enough to keep me off the trails!

I’ll leave you with a shot of Harley in her new favorite spot in the backyard…

Harley-backyard

I love that she has space to be outside in the fresh air now all day long if she wants!

Questions: Have you ever tried cinnamon raisin swirl peanut butter? Do you enjoy going to baseball games? Does anyone out there have as many wine glasses as me?? 

Experiencing Air Fit: Simulated High Altitude Training

Hi friends!

Before I moved last weekend, I had the opportunity to try a new type of workout trend that has hit the Bay Area: indoor high altitude training. Some supposed benefits of altitude training include:

  • More efficient workouts: Training 50 minutes at altitude is comparable to 90 minutes at sea-level
  • Increased red blood cell count
  • Decreased recovery time
  • Reduced overall stress and fatigue
  • Enhanced oxygen transportation to the tissues, muscles and brain
  • Stimulation of fat metabolism

All of this had me very curious when the folks at Air Fit, a new high altitude training facility in Pleasanton, CA – which happens to be the largest high altitude training facility in North America – invited me to come try out some classes. Unfortunately I was only in town for a few more days so I only had the chance to go one evening. I had planned on taking a strength and cardio class + a summit yoga class, but traffic from an accident left me late for the first class. Luckily I still got a great experience of simulated high altitude training from just doing the yoga class!

The Quad-3

Air Fit is part of The Quad, a 20,000-square foot gym. When I walked in the gym, I was immediately impressed. Not only does The Quad have the high altitude training room and a gorgeous regular gym, it also has a barre studio, a CrossFit gym and a boxing room. How amazing is that?!

The Quad-1

Air Fit mimics high altitude exercise – also called hypoxic training – at up to 22,000 feet by using generators that pump oxygen-reduced air into the room. When I walked into the room, I immediately felt a little lightheaded, but it felt like it subsided after a moment and I felt pretty normal. The yoga class was held in a simulated environment of around 12,000 feet.

The Quad-2

The instructor led a vinyasa-style yoga session in a pretty crowded class. I loved the instructor, Malia, and thought she gave off a great, very yogic vibe. The class was a nice combination of faster-paced moves and the holding of poses.

What I found to be really interesting was the amount of sweating I was doing during the class. Unless the room is really warm, I tend to not sweat all that much during yoga sessions. In contrast, at Air Fit I was glistening quite a bit. According to my heart rate monitor, I also burned a lot more calories than I typically do during vinyasa yoga:

The Quad-4

I burned 100 calories prior to the class warming up on the stair machine, but that still means that I burned 400+ calories in yoga, which is awesome! Although I love yoga, I tend to go for faster paced, more calorie-burning workouts a lot of the time, so I was a big fan of summit yoga. It felt like a “real” workout to me, thanks to the simulated high altitude environment making my body work harder to get into those poses.

All in all, I absolutely loved working out at Air Fit! The only downside to Air Fit and The Quad is that membership prices are pretty steep, but it’s all relative because most specialty studios are pricey. I think you get what you pay for when it comes to this type of thing. If I lived in the area, I would be very tempted to become what they call a mixx unlimited member so that I could have access to the gym, barre studio, boxing gym, and Air Fit classes for $220 a month.  I think I’d have a blast taking a different class each day of the week, and would probably even get around to trying CrossFit! 😉

AirFit logo

At the end of the yoga class, the instructor recited this beautiful verse, which she later told me was from a book called When Things Fall Apart by a Buddhist teacher named Pema Chödrön. I felt like the words really spoke to me. That night I was set to close on a house in the San Diego area near rampant wildfires, with the recent loss of my grandma still very raw, and was in the midst of packing up my life to move, yet somehow the class and those words left me feeling incredibly relaxed and peaceful. I found a few verses of it online and wanted to share it with you all, as I thought that it might bring you some peace of mind to whatever’s going on in your life too:

“We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect. But from the point of view of someone who is awake, that’s death. Seeking security or protection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self-contained and comfortable, is some kind of death. It doesn’t have any fresh air. There’s no room for something to come in and interrupt all that. We are killing the moment by controlling our experience. Doing this is setting ourselves up for failure, because sooner or later, we’re going to have an experience we can’t control: our house is going to burn down, someone we love is going to die, we’re going to find out we have cancer, or somebody’s going to spill tomato juice all over our white suit…

The essence of life is that it’s challenging. Sometimes it is sweet, and sometimes it is bitter. Sometimes your body tenses and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache and sometimes you feel 100 percent healthy. From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience. There is something aggressive about that approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and imperfections into a nice smooth ride.

To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. From the awakened point of view, that’s life…

We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

Aren’t those just beautiful words that can resonate with every single person in this world?

*For more information about Air Fit, check out the gym’s website here.*

Questions: Have you ever tried simulated high altitude training? If not, is it something you’re interested in trying?

My New Home

Greetings from SoCal!

Fortunately the move went pretty smoothly last weekend and I’ve been busy unpacking and getting things in order. Even though we’re living a good 45 minutes north from where we resided last time we lived in the area (for reference for any locals, we lived in Mission Valley before and just moved into Oceanside), I’m already starting to feel at home and am glad to be back!

Harley car ride

Harley ready for the car ride down to San Diego

I didn’t know many people in the Bay Area and am enjoying having friends again! The first day we were here, a couple of our friends came over to help us unpack and see our place. We drank some wine and caught up, and it was a nice break from the madness of moving. Last night, I got together and had some Greek food with one of the first friends I made when I initially moved to San Diego. Her Marine just got stationed in Texas and she’s moving there in a few days. I wish she was staying here but am glad I got to see her before she left.

beach walkway

So, let’s talk about my new home! This is the first time my hubby and I have bought instead of rented, so it’s obviously all very exciting and new to us. The house is a one-story place with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.

I thought I’d share a few pictures that were taken when the previous owners lived here. Full disclosure: my house looks nowhere near as pretty as these images right now. The current scene is boxes galore with no decor up yet! We’ll get there in the next few weeks though.

My favorite parts of the house are the kitchen, which is a wide open space and, very appropriately, wine themed….

Kitchen-1

Kitchen-2…and the backyard, which has a pool, fire pit and cabana to relax under.

Backyard-1

I definitely see us spending a lot of time back there! I plan on planting some herbs and produce back there sometime soon. We’ve always had a little patio, so I think that Harley is enjoying having a backyard for the first time ever.

Backyard-2

The house is located 6 miles from the beach, and you better believe that we’ll be spending a lot of time with our feet in the sand! 🙂

This next chapter of my life has begun, and I’m excited for SoCal living again! I hope that you all will continue to join me as I chronicle my eats, recipes, workouts, and life in general as I pursue a happy, healthy life in the San Diego area.

Question: What’s most important to you in a home?

For me, a really crappy kitchen is a dealbreaker. I also can’t deal with tiny closets!

Sayonara San Francisco Bay Area

Happy Friday!

San-Fran

It has been a little crazy around here because… I’m moving back to San Diego tomorrow! And I closed on my house there yesterday! The signing process got delayed a bit because of the intense wild fire situation going on there, but my new home should be safe from harm and is officially ours. 🙂 I’ll share pictures soon!

Oh, and have I mentioned that it has been so hot in Morgan Hill all week? It’s “cooler” here today, which means 90 degrees instead of yesterday’s 99 degrees. It’s May madness!

While I am so excited to be going back to San Diego, I have had a lot of fun since moving to the South San Francisco Bay Area 14 months ago. I thought it’d be nice to reflect on my favorite memories of living up here, so here we go:

Harley hiking-1

  • Hiking – This is the most rural I’ve ever lived, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of the trails and hilly terrain I’ve had easy access to here. I’ve certainly done a ton of hiking in the past year!

Stag's Leap

Winery

The view from Clos La Chance

  • Wineries – What wine lover wouldn’t enjoy being near tons of wineries? We made quite a few visits to our favorite one, Clos La Chance, which was only 2 miles down the street. I’m going to miss picnicking there! Although I would have loved to fit in more time to Napa and Sonoma, I’m glad I got to make the trip there at all (Napa recap here).
Muir-Woods

Muir Woods National Monument

Emerald-Bay

Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe

  • Vicinity to so many great destinations – Where I’ve been living is in easy driving distance of so many great getaway spots, like Muir Woods, Monterey and Lake Tahoe. I’m happy that we were able to do some fun trips!
  • My gym – I’ve belonged to a great little gym since I’ve lived up here and am going to miss it there!

Fresh fruit

  • Local fresh produce – With so much farmland around, I had access to lots of delicious fruits and veggies straight from the farm. Right down the street from me is a strawberry farm, and 2 minutes down the road a farm stand opens up when peaches, apricots, cherries and berries are in season.

IMG_1028

  • San Fran – I’ve been living an hour away from the lovely city of San Francisco, and while I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time there as I would have liked, I did enjoy getting to experience some of what the city has to offer.

mountain biking

  •  Mountain Biking – Adam and I found the most beautiful remote park that’s perfect for mountain biking. We always had so much fun riding around amongst cows, deer, and even fox, and loved going right before sunset when the scenery was breathtaking and everything seemed so serene.

Wish me luck finishing up packing and making the 7-10 hour trip (depending on lovely LA traffic) with Harley in the car. Hopefully she won’t be whining like crazy the entire time as she usually does when in the car, as I am planning on lightly drugging her as I did when we moved up here in order to keep my sanity calm her down a bit. Have a great weekend everyone!

Harley car

Harley hanging in the car

Question: What do you love most about where you live? 

I am really looking forward to being super close to the beach again. It’s our happy place where my hubby can surf, Harley can run around, and I can enjoy the sun and relax!

Coronado with Harley

At the dog beach in Coronado last year

[Virgin] Bananas Foster Waffles

If you read this blog at all regularly,  you know by now that I love pancakes. I usually whip them up a couple times a week, but once in awhile, I’m more in the mood for waffles than pancakes.
Bananas foster-1

This was the case a couple of weekends back, and so I broke out my waffle maker. But I wanted to make not just any waffles — I wanted to make decadent-weekend-treat-for-breakfast waffles.

Bananas Foster-2

In staring at my fruit basket, the idea of bananas foster came to my head. I haven’t had the scrumptious dessert of vanilla ice cream topped with bananas cooked in rum, banana liqueur, sugar, cinnamon, and butter in quite a long time — too long I would argue! — and so I decided to recreate the dessert with waffles as a most definitely delicious, kinda sorta acceptable breakfast (we can pretend right?).

Bananas foster-3

I’m not typically one to leave alcohol out of meals, whether it’s going in a glass or cooking in my pan, but I didn’t have any rum or banana liqueur on hand, so virgin it was.

While these waffles are not the healthiest recipe I’ve shared, they are so worth the splurge. Trust me! If I hadn’t packed my waffle maker up into a box of kitchen appliances last night in preparation for my move this weekend, I’d be tempted to break it out and whip these waffles up this very moment.

Bananas foster-4

If I ever own a restaurant, these bananas foster waffles will most likely find a way onto the breakfast menu….

5.0 from 2 reviews
[Virgin] Bananas Foster Waffles
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
For the waffles:
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup almond meal
  • 2 TBSP ground flaxseed meal
  • ½ banana, mashed
  • ¾ cup + 1 TBSP almond milk
  • ½ TSP vanilla extract
  • ¼ TSP salt
  • ¼ TSP cinnamon
  • 1 TSP baking powder
For the topping:
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 2 TBSP light brown sugar
  • 1 TBSP [light] butter
  • 2 TBSP maple syrup
  • ¼ TSP cinnamon
  • 2 TBSP chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, almond meal, flaxseed meal, salt, cinnamon and baking powder together.
  2. Add in the banana, almond milk, and vanilla extract, and mix together well.
  3. Pour batter into the waffle maker and cook until lightly browned.
  4. Meanwhile, to make the topping: melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add the maple syrup, cinnamon, sugar, and pecans, and stir until well combined. Add the banana slices and stir again. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and banana slices are tender.
  5. Place the waffles on a plate and pour the bananas foster sauce on top. Promptly enjoy!!

 

Questions: What do you prefer, pancakes or waffles? Have you ever had bananas foster? 

A Tribute to My Grandma

Happy Mothers Day!

I think it’s fitting to share a post about my grandma with you all on the day of the year dedicated to celebrating the wonderful mothers and grandmothers in our lives. I’ve been blessed with such an awesome mom, and am also lucky to have grown up with an amazing grandma, who passed away a little over a week ago.

With my grandma last Christmas

With my grandma last Christmas

I think that for a lot of people, a grandma is someone they see a few times a year at holidays, get weird gifts from that they’ll never use, and never have real conversations about life with. For me, when my grandma passed away, I lost one of the closest people in the world to me.

My grandma somewhere around 60 years ago, in what we've deemed her Austin Powers look

My grandma somewhere around 60 years ago, in what we’ve deemed her Austin Powers look

My grandma was such a selfless person. She worried about us before she worried about herself. She’d do anything for the people she loved, almost to a fault. If you happened to mention that you needed a new pair of boots or whatever the case may be, the next day she’d show up at your house with a pair of boots she specifically went shopping for for you.

Christmas Day at her house is one of my favorite annual occasions. It was borderline ridiculous with presents piled all over the living room from her, as she just enjoyed spoiling us.

Christmas 2012

Christmas 2012

Anytime any of us would walk into my grandma’s house, her first questions were always, “Are you hungry? Do you want me to fix you something to eat?” She was a quintessential little old Italian cook, always pushing food on you and never taking no for an answer. Everyone knew better than to go to her house with an already full belly.

My grandma was a little kid at heart. She dressed up every Halloween and scared all of us by trick-or-treating at our houses with creepy masks on so that we didn’t recognize her at first. When I was younger, we were having a snowball fight, and she ran in the house with new ball of snow to chuck at one of us, slipped, and hurt her wrist. She was a Peter Pan with an always youthful persona, and when things like that happened, we all shook our heads and laughed at her… because that was just grandma.

Grandma- little girl

My grandma when she was a little girl

My grandma was very politically savvy – a staunch Democrat who loved Bill Clinton without fault. She always had the news blasting in her house while she cooked, milled around doing things, or laid in her bed – always falling asleep and pretending that she had been awake when we walked in the room and woke her up by accident. She looked forward to working the election boards every time, and if I ever had a question about a political happening, she was my go-to source.

My grandparents on their anniversary last year

My grandparents on their anniversary last year

She had a way of making you feel special. Last year when she was in the hospital battling cancer and pneumonia, with a breathing tube down her throat unable to talk, she would jot down words to communicate with us. One time as I sat by her bedside, she woke up, looked at me, and pointed to the clipboard where she’d write.

She wrote down B-E-A….. and I responded, “Beautiful? What’s beautiful?”

And she pointed at me.

That was just how she was — always quick to compliment you, tell you she was proud of you, let you know that she thought you looked pretty or that she liked your outfit.

My older brother and me with my grandma before a wedding we were in

My older brother and me with my grandma before a wedding we were in

Speaking of talking, it was my grandma’s favorite thing to do. She was quite the chatty lady, always loving to gossip. During our phone chats, she let me in on all of the family secrets. As my cousin recently put it, she was a confidante that you could tell everything to…as long as you anticipated that everyone in the family would then know, as well as the boy at the local Acme, her mailman and the bank tellers down the street from her.

Getting ready for my wedding

Getting ready for my wedding

Her other favorite things to do were go out to eat – ‘gallivanting’ as she always put it – and to see shows on Broadway. Every restaurant that I love in my hometown reminds me of her. Growing up, the women in my family would head into NYC to see so many shows, including seeing Annie way too many times because it was my sister’s favorite, and going to Les Miserables a handful of times because we all love it so much.

In NYC after a Broadway show in 2008

With my aunt, mom, and grandma in NYC after a Broadway show, circa 2008

She was stubborn and she was a fighter. In the end, cancer took all of her strength until she had almost nothing left to give. The last words my grandma ever spoke to me was over the phone on Easter, ending our conversation by saying “I love you baby.” By the time I flew into New Jersey, she had been intubated because she was too weak to breathe on her own. It was so difficult to not be able to do anything for her. My mom deemed the past few months a “slow motion free fall” in that we all saw her deteriorating and it was all happening so fast, yet there wasn’t much we could do. She was so terrified of dying and she wanted so desperately to live, and I wonder if she knew that she was losing the fight. None of us had the heart to say anything about it, so we just held her hand and told her we loved her those last days.

Celebrating her 74th birthday in 2008

Celebrating her 74th birthday in 2008

The last gift I got from her was an Easter present: a bear with a scripted phrase starting with, “I love you forever,” chocolate covered almonds, and a magazine about Marilyn Monroe and the loves of her life. I was a Marilyn Monroe fan as a teenager, and have gotten countless Marilyn presents over the years from my grandma. T-shirts, Christmas ornaments, calendars, books… you name it, I have it. My grandma was an extremist, and if you ever were going to tell her that you liked someone or something, you better be sure that you’ll like it for a long time, as she never forgot a detail like that. We always joked that she either drove 30 miles over the speed limit, or 30 miles under it.

Wedding-ladies

With my cousins, grandma, sister, and mom on my wedding day

My heart aches. I feel like I’m missing a piece of my soul. I know that it isn’t just me, that a lot of people in my family that she was close with have a feeling of emptiness without her here in this world with us.

I’m not sure what I believe happens after death, but I like to picture her somewhere beautiful, free and happy, watching over us and reveling in all of the beauty of the world. I just have to believe that her energy somehow lives on. I think that a little bit of her lives inside of everyone in my family, that we carry her with us.

Rehearsal Dinner pic

At the rehearsal dinner for my brother’s wedding in 2009

And so gram, thank you for loving me, for all of the memories, all that you’ve done for me and for always being there. I’m going to try to carry on with life — to be excited and get ready to move into my new home this weekend, to love the people in my life like crazy, to keep working hard and pursuing my passions, to live a healthy and happy life — I think that’s what you would have wanted. But all the while, I’ll be missing you each and every day.

Kiss Me Organics Matcha Green Tea Powder

There are millions of devoted coffee drinkers in the world….but I, my friends, am not one of them. Instead of the caffeine from coffee giving me energy, it gives me headaches. It actually has a bit of an opposite effect on me. Case in point: Last week I had my first (iced) coffee in quite awhile because I was near a Dunkin Donuts in New Jersey, which are a rarity here in California, and I felt so tired an hour later that I took a nap. And I’m not a big nap taker.

IMG_0184

Tea on the other hand, is my coffee shop/hot bev/lazy weekend morning drink of choice. Green tea is my favorite. It doesn’t make me feel zingy, and it also doesn’t make me sleepy or headachy. It’s just nice and soothing.

So when Kiss Me Organics recently contacted me asking if I’d like to try their matcha green tea powder, I was all, Yes please! Grown only in Japan and made from top-quality leaves, matcha is the only form of tea in which the whole leaf is consumed. I had never had matcha before but was sold on the idea that it has 137x the amount of antioxidants of brewed green tea powder. That’s a lot of disease fighting goodness!

Matcha

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my matcha. My favorite thing to do with it is to throw some in smoothies and pancakes, where it adds just a subtle flavor. With that being said, I thought I’d share two recipes I came up with using matcha. The first is yummy vanilla yogurt matcha pancakes…

strawberry matcha pancakes

The above photo shows the pancakes topped with strawberry sauce and granola. I made the strawberry sauce by combining frozen strawberries, a bit of stevia, and water in a pan and cooking until the strawberries are soft and warm. The below photo shows the pancakes topped with warmed apple, cinnamon and honey. Both are awesome!
apple matcha pancakes

Another recipe I’ve made a couple of times is what I’m deeming my morning fruity matcha shot. It’s a combo of mango, mixed berries, banana, and matcha pulsed in a food processor. See below for both recipes!

matcha shot

Vanilla Yogurt Matcha Pancakes
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ TSP matcha
  • ½ banana
  • ¼ cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • ¼ TSP vanilla extract
  • ½ cup vanilla almond milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of stevia
Instructions
  1. In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour the batter onto a sprayed medium pan over medium heat, forming 3 pancakes. Cook until lightly browned, then flip over and repeat.
  3. Remove from heat and top with honey, syrup, butter, apple, strawberries, granola, or whatever else your heart desires!

 
Morning Fruity Matcha Shot
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup mango
  • ½ cup frozen mixed berries
  • ½ banana, preferably frozen
  • ½ TSP matcha
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  2. Pour into a small glass and enjoy.

 

In experimenting with this matcha, I’ve definitely become a fan and love incorporating it into my diet!

Have you ever tried matcha? What do you prefer, coffee or tea?

Disclosure: I received this product free of charge, but as always, all views expressed are solely my own. 

Kale Salad with Strawberries, Goat Cheese & Almonds

“Being a family means you are a part of something very wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life.”

The 10 days that I’ve spent in Jersey have been extremely tough for my family and me. My grandma passed away last Friday. To be honest, at the moment I don’t feel like writing about my heart aching. I’d rather talk about cute babies, my wonderful family, and a yummy kale salad, so that is what I’m sharing with you today.

On a positive note, going through this has reminded me what an amazing family I have. I am so grateful and lucky to have my wonderful family and to be close with them. Given the reason I flew to the east coast, I spent a lot of time at the hospital and hanging out with family members, and the quality time I got to spend with them was nice.

Bryce Collage

Brayden

Danny Collage

And seriously, how cute are my nephews?!

I got to meet the youngest munchkin this trip, and my oldest nephew (a 2/12 year old) and I had a lot of time to bond and hang out. He has the cutest personality ever, and seeing the babies has been a lot of fun.

Sunset with Bray

Enjoying the sunset with my nephew Brayden the day after my grandma passed

Given the circumstances, there have been lots of get togethers with loved ones — which means lots of good food with good company. I got to do a nice amount of cooking and baking, and it made me feel better because a.) being in the kitchen soothes me, and b.) feeding loved ones was my grandma’s favorite thing to do.

The day after she passed away, my siblings and their significant others and kids, my aunts, uncles, and grandpa all came over my parents’ house to celebrate her life by hanging out eating and drinking together. She loved us all being together and I think it’s what she would have wanted us to do. At nighttime, we all sat by my parents’ fire pit in the backyard and toasted to her with champagne.

Kale Salad

One of the things I whipped up for the occasion was kale salad with strawberries, goat cheese and almonds. I was determined to make a few people like kale who told me they weren’t so sure about it, so I made sure to do some extra massaging of the kale with the dressing to ensure it was nice and tender. It turned out to be a big hit, and I definitely think I’ll be making it again very soon.

Kale Salad with Strawberries, Goat Cheese & Almonds
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large bunch of kale
  • 2 oz of creamy goat cheese with honey (plain goat cheese also works)
  • 1 cup of strawberries
  • ½ cup chopped almonds
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • ¼ cup + 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Finely chop the kale. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Sprinkle a few shakes of sea salt into the mix.
  3. Pour the dressing onto the kale, and begin to massage the kale. Rub the dressing into the kale for at least 5 minutes to help it become more tender.
  4. Toast the almonds until lightly browned, then add to the kale. Slice the strawberries and add to the salad as well.
  5. Break the goat cheese into small chunks and add to the salad. Sprinkle more sea salt to taste and toss everything well.

 

Question: What’s your favorite salad combo?