Saturday, November 9, 2013

Love and healing to the Philippines

Love and healing to the Philippines during this difficult time. I try to remember: I am you and you are me.

Friday, November 8, 2013

'Tis the season for pumpkin dessert smoothies

I love experimenting with my culinary creations. Now that Thanksgiving is around the corner and pumpkin everything is popping up all over the place, I went ahead and bought a can of organic pumpkin, not sure of exactly how I wanted to use it but knowing I was craving that seasonal taste. Tonight, I developed a very simple, yummy dessert smoothie that is also healthy, as pumpkin is a nutrient dense food. Also, I think it would be a great option for parents who want to sneak some nutrients into their child's treats. In which case, why not call it a pumpkin milkshake? Try it out, and let me know what you think!

Add to a blender:

1.  3/4 cup of canned pumpkin
2.  1/4 cup of vanilla soy ice cream
3.  3/4 packet stevia (Please only use stevia or a natural sweetener. Artificial sweeteners are very dangerous to consume.)
4.  Original almond milk
5.  Two ice cubes
6.  Blend and enjoy!

Health benefits: This smoothie is a delicious treat, while also vegan and full of nutrients. Almond milk is high in calcium, nondairy, and vitamin-rich. And what about pumpkin? It's a total superfood! 3/4 a cup of canned pumpkin contains only 60 calories, less than 1g of fat, 15g of carbohydrate, and 5.25g of fiber. Fiber is a nice bonus, as traditional desserts are not usually high in fiber. It also provides 570 percent of the daily value of Vitamin A, along with a decent dose of vitamin C, calcium, iron, and potassium. But, let me repeat that: 3/4 a cup of pumpkin contains 570 percent of the daily value of Vitamin A! Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant, infection fighter, and immunity booster. It also fights against cancer and heart disease, helps your eyes in multiple ways, is great for your skin, and helps your body build proteins. Basically, it is awesome. If you aren't sold, check out this fun and informative video about pumpkins!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Friday, October 4, 2013

After seven years, I decided to leave teaching

Last June, at the end of the school year, I decided to resign from education. When I began telling people that I was leaving teaching after seven years to pursue something new, I got a myriad of responses. Some were supportive. A bunch were surprised or impressed. And, many went like this: What about your growing pension? Are you SURE? The job market is tough out there. There are no jobs! You make a decent salary; do you really want to give that up? Can't you just do whatever else you want to do on the side? But you are good at what you do!

I felt awe-struck by the majority's subtle insistence on taking the safer option and simultaneously realized why they call following your heart the "road less traveled." Society trains us to think that we must grapple and struggle for security, and once obtained, that we should hold onto it for dear life! After all, the "unknown" could turn into something uncomfortable! I guess it seems to some that it is better to be safe and feel as though there is more assurance that we will survive than it is to risk it all in order to THRIVE. But, I wonder, what is it exactly that we would be risking? 

In the previous paragraph, I said "survive." Is that really what we are afraid of - that we won't survive? When I examine this more closely, I think the truth is that being "comfortable" is what's at stake, rather than survival. So, again, what is it that I would really be risking? Well, I could fail. This is true. And, what does that look like? Worst case scenario - I would default on my bills, be unable to afford a place to live, and not have money to buy food. I could, potentially, end up on the street with bad credit. Hmmm. I decided I could live with that. It would be a much better alternative, in my opinion, than waking up years from now and wondering, "Why didn't I follow that calling deep inside? Why didn't I see that the Universe gave me that calling for a reason? Why didn't I take a chance? Why didn't I live my life?" 

While we are all trying to secure our tomorrows and be comfortable, who then, I ask, is securing our todays? Don't you want your life to be an adventure? Don't you want to live as much as you possibly can? Don't you want to realize your full potential? Don't you want to know the deep joy that comes from fulfilling your dreams? The future is just some concept out there that, let's face it, never turns out the way we thought it would anyway! Will I really, really end up on the street, starving? Probably not. So, why, I ask, would I stake my "now" for something that might happen "then"? 

I chose not to.

I always told my students, "Follow your dreams. You can do anything your heart desires. Don't live small. Don't hide your light." And I meant it. What kind of educator would I be if I didn't lead by example? If I were a hypocrite of my own credo? That's not the kind of educator I wanted to be. That's not the kind of life I wanted to live - one with an ember burning inside that I ignored. If I can do it, then they can too, and so can you.

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined." (HDT) 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Green smoothie love

I tend to drink a lot of smoothies for breakfast when summertime comes around. They are super easy to make, and a super great way to pack in a lot of different nutrients that you might not otherwise be able to get in your morning meal. For example, how many of us could easily incorporate kale and spirulina into our breakfast routine? Check out my latest favorite smoothie recipe below for a yummy breakfast treat.

Add to a blender:

1.  Kale (avoid the stems)
2.  Half an avocado
3.  Cold almond milk (or your favorite dairy alternative - flax, hemp, coconut, etc.)
4.  Dash of spirulina powder
5.  Fruit, frozen if possible (Banana, blueberries, watermelon are all good options that I've tried in this recipe. If the fruit is not frozen, add an ice cube to the blender.)
6.  Heaping spoonful of peanut or almond butter
7.  Dash of stevia (Please only use stevia or a natural sweetener. Artificial sweeteners are very dangerous to consume.)
8.  Blend. If not mixing properly, add a little more almond milk. Taste and add more stevia as needed, but be careful - a little stevia goes a long way.
9.  Enjoy!

Health benefits: This smoothie is a perfect balance of healthy fat, fiber, carbs, protein, and nutrients. Almond milk is high in calcium, non-dairy, and vitamin-rich. Spirulina is full of protein, iron, vitamin A, and other nutrients. It improves digestion, fights free radicals, and more. (I use Earthrise Spirulina Natural powder.) Kale is a wonder plant. No joke. Check out my blog post "Incredible, wondrous kale" to learn more about the benefits of this leafy gem. Avocados are good for your heart, high in fiber, have anti-inflammatory properties, are high in phytonutrients, and so on, ad infinitum. Yes, they contain fat, but it is AMAZING fat that is super duper good for you. Trust me, eat them. Finally, depending upon what fruit you choose, it will have various vitamins and nutrients that it provides you. As always, try to buy organic fruits and veggies. Avocados and bananas have thick peels, and so are slightly less damaging bought non-organic (I don't buy them organic), but no pesticides always equals healthier people.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

You can't help but smile

Here is a little sunshine to brighten your day. This little girl is so excited to ride a train for her birthday!

Thursday, January 24, 2013