Mountain Monday…BYTOM

Before I talk mountains here’s some Monday Motivation for ya from Mia Angelou…she’s so smart! Reminds me of the lovely Powercakes mantra… #betruetoyou We all (men and women but maybe more women than men) need to like ourselves a little more!

angelousuccess

So on Saturday I crossed something off my very extensive bucket list… I climbed a mountain!

Old Rag

Specifically, a great group of friends and I hiked up Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park. To say it was amazing would be an understatement. I realized I don’t get out of the city nearly enough, and that perhaps in another life I was a park ranger (but I probably the girly kind who still painter her finger nails).

It was a BYOTM (bring your own trail mix kind of a day), which I did… a mix of Chex, craisins, almonds, marshmallows, and some cinnamon… but I also made a big pan of my homemade granola bars for the trek…my add-ins were sunflower seeds and craisins this batch.

banana oat bars

I always get asked for the super simple recipe…and I’ve modified the original recipe to be vegan! To make a larger pan its:

  • 1 large mashed banana
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp stevia (I use dry)
  • 1 TBSP (or more) cinnamon
  • 2-2.5C oats
  • Splash of almond milk (only if things doesn’t seem to be holding together enough)
  • Add-ins (whatever you want!!) I usually add in some protein powder (a mix of rice protein and pea protein so that they are a complete morning grab ‘n go meal)

Mash up bananas, add in vanilla and stevia. Mix oats and cinnamon together (you could add some ground flaxseed in if you want but remember to add a little more liquid). Add wet to dry (including add-ins) and mix. Things should hold together without being wet. If there’s a lot of loose oats add a splash of almond milk. Firmly press into a pan (the larger the pan the thinner the bars) and vice versa. Bake at 350 for 10-12minutes or just until the top is dry to the touch.

What’s your favorite grab and go breakfast? (ps I feel like commenting is confusing on here bc it’s the speech bubble at the beginning of the post! but I want to hear from you)

 

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The Best You Never Had

I would insert the appropriate Beyonce clip here buuutttt she’s pretty much half-naked in it the whole time so um no thanks.

But this stuff seriously might be the best thing you’ve never had… (well besides homemade Kombucha this is)

yogi tea

 

Yogi teas are delicious! I just got my Swanson Vitamins order and that Caramel Apple Spice Snack Tea was waiting for me in the box… Mmm Mmm! I put a little liquid vanilla stevia in it and it’s seriously a wonderful afternoon snack! You might be able to sneak a little ACV in there too for some probiotic power 🙂

The Mayan Cocoa Spice tea is hands down THE BEST after dinner “dessert” tea I’ve ever tasted. I sweeten it with a little liquid chocolate stevia and it’s a party in your mouth!

I also got a few birthday presents from Swanson… sharing the Yogi Tea and PB2 love!

swansonbday

I also realized today I haven’t posted anything about my Cossfit endeavors yet (I’ve been at it for two weeks now…loving it). Plank a Day in May is still going strong though. So, in an effort to Stop Instagramming My “Perfect Life” here’s my latest Challenge Loop post: after 2, 90sec medicine ball planks…mmm sweaty and sans makeup

planks

Have any items you always tell people…”You gotta try this!”? 

Plank a Day in May!

So, I mentioned yesterday to look out for info on my Plank a Day in May challenge via Challenge Loop! I totally meant to post this last night, but I got a free ticket to hear Isabel Allende (she wrote a stellar novel version of Zorro) and I couldn’t pass that up!

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It’s pretty easy to sign up for Plank A Day in May and all you need to complete the challenge is yourself and the floor!

What’s the challenge? One plank a day held until failure or for a set amount of time. For example, I did 2 planks for 1.5 min each yesterday morning with my feet elevated on an exercise ball. I chose to do two sets of knees to chest (still with my feet on the exercise ball in plank position), but you definitely don’t have to do any extras as part of the challenge.

Post the kind of plank you did (check out the challenge page for ideas on different types) and/or have a friend take a photo of you rocking out your plank.

What’s a plank? Good question! There are lots of different types of planks. The most basic looks like a push up that starts on your elbows…

Joyce

My friend Joyce rocking out her plank!

More advanced planks include extending your arms…

tracy plank

Then there are lots of variations in each position: like lifting one leg…

tracy plank 2

There’s also…lifting one arm, lifting one arm AND one leg together, elevating your legs, elevating your upper body, or even kicking it out in front of you and eventually trying to grab your big toe (whaaa! I know… a little nuts!)

Why planks? They are one of the easiest (no equip necessary) core strengthening exercises you can do! Plus, they not only work your abdominals, but also your shoulders, back, arms, quads, and calfs. Variations on the original can also focus on other parts of your core (i.e. side planks work your obliques, and elevated leg planks work your shoulders more).

Why a challenge? So the question should be…why not! You’ve literally got nothing to lose (except maybe your love handles) AND  you’ve got a free accountability partner right here to cheer you on! Plus, I’m working on a sweet prize for the winner (picked randomly).

Go, go, go! Plank plank plank! 

#KitchenLoveAffair (AKA creating Cannellini Ranch Dressing) & #plankadayinMay Challenge

First off…watch tomorrow for some info about #plankadayinMay a challenge to do a plank, any kind each day in May! Sign up through Challenge Loop HERE! I’m working on getting some super sweet prizes for the winners 😉

Second… Happy Monday! Here’s some late afternoon #motivationmonday love…

MM4.29

This quote really holds a dear place in my heart because even though I know I have special skills, I’ve never thought about myself as inherently talented in the sense that I’m not a great athlete or musician…I have no outstanding external talents that make people go ohhhhh ahhhhhh (that’s not a cry for pity… keep reading)

It’s taken me a long time to appreciate all the internal and amazing talents that I DO possess, that everyone possesses! The question is do we use them to benefit the world? Aristotle posits that that’s where we find our vocation (our purpose) and I would argue where we find true, passionate joy. Part of my joy comes from my #kitchenloveaffair

minnie cooking

This past Saturday I spent about 2 hours in my beloved Minnie Mouse apron prepping for the week to come with pretty awesome results! I’ll share the most absurd and highly creative of the recipes now, but I roasted some veggies, made quinoa burgers, pecan sandies cookies, oat bars, kiwi dressing, and…

brocc soupSuper Easy Broccoli Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 head broccoli (cut into florets)
  • Cheyenne pepper
  • Black pepper
  • lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Water to boil broccoli
  • Chicken/veggie broth

Place the broc in a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Allow to boil until you can stick a fork through the stems. Remove brocc placing it in a blender with the spices, a few cups of the water you used boil it, and a squeeze of lemon juice. NOTE: you could use broth to blend the soup for added flavor but either way, it tastes super fresh!

In the pic above I stirred some pre-cooked quinoa into the soup to make it a #powerbowl combo of veggies and protein.

I also made the most absurd sounding and amazing recipe I’ve ever created entirely on my own!

                                                                              Cannellini Ranch Dressing

ranchIngredients:

  • 1 can (15oz) cannellini beans, drained and throughly rinsed
  • 1tsp dried parsley
  • 1tsp black pepper (more if you want a peppercorn ranch flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4C almond milk (or use regular milk if you’re not #dairyfree)
  • drizzle of EVOO

Put all ingredients in food processor and pulse a few times. Then start to drizzle EVOO into the top of food processor until you have the consistency you desire. It’s not exactly like ranch, but it is a darn good substitute for dressing that actually adds protein and healthy carbohydrates to your meal! You’re welcome!

What the craziest thing you’ve ever created in the kitchen? 

And p.s…I also may have spent the vast majority of my Sunday trying to complete this…

#dontjudge

#dontjudge

Back in the Saddle SpinList

It’s TUESDAY! That means it’s back to teaching cycle tonight, and Tuesdays are usually pretty tough classes because the week hasn’t worn anyone out yet. And, I realized I haven’t shared a #spinning playlist in awhile! 

This is a simple climb, jump, hill, sprint loop that repeats 3 times, the catch is that each song gets progressively steeper until you reach the top of the hill song, then the weight comes off (not all the weight!) and we’re on a fast flat road.

I always start my students off by finding a “comfortable flat road” by pushing at least 6-10 gears onto their bikes (we have Keiser M+ Series bikes with computers on them, but that would mean knob at least 1/4 way up on a similar flywheel bike or 1-2 full turns on a Spinner bike). No weight=No work and we are there to “workout” right?

The “loops” are each a different color…

  1. Mama Said Knock You Out- LL Cool J (4:52) warm up song
  2. Back in the Saddle- Aerosmith (4:40) First climb, still warming up & then simple stretching
  3. In the Ayer- Flo Rida (3:40) Jumps: 1min of 8 counts, 1min of 4 counts, 30sec of 2 counts, 30sec rest, back to 30sec of 2 counts
  4. The Way you Move- Outkast (3:54) Stretch and then head up the first hill of the class  pushing on a few gears before standing…add 2 throughout song
  5. How Far We’ve Come- Matchbox 20 (3:30) Seated fast flat (2-3 gears heavier than “flat” for experienced) keeping RPM above 100 for a full 3min
  6. American Boy- Estelle feat Kanye West (3:57) Climb, out of the saddle with some surges (80% of speed) on the chorus, add a gear after each surge…keep the weight!
  7. Don’t Cha- Pussycats Dolls (4:33) 4position, 4count jumps (positions: climb, squat, run, sit…4 counts each)
  8. Flower- Moby (3:23) Hill time…this time seated, drop those heels and start pushing, add 1 on as each minute ticks by
  9. Pump It- Black Eyed Peas (3:33) Sprints! Back to our flat…30seconds on, 30 seconds off
  10. Nothin’ But a Good Time- Poison (3:44) Climb, come on up outta the saddle and we’re back to those surges! Adding one after each set. 
  11. We Run the Night- Havana Brown feat Pitbull (3:48) Hold that weight (or add a few) 4count Squat Jumps
  12. Beggin’- Madon (I LOVE THIS SONG!) (3:38) 30sec in the saddle 30 second standing ahead of the beat
  13. Smells Like Teen Spirit- Nirvana (5:01) Our Hill continues…flip the work 30 sec seated ahead of the beat, 30 second standing at the beat
  14. Beware- Panjabi MC feat Jay-Z (3:59) Keep that heart rate soaring! Fast flat all the way out
  15. Right Here- Justin Bieber feat Drake (3:24) Cool down, stretch

My other fave right now (and possibly forever) is Let’s Go by Calvin Harris…click to enjoy

Let'sGoCalvinHarris

What’s your favorite workout song right now? 

A confession…

I have a confession to make about an obsession that’s been creeping into my everyday life… I love smoothies! And as a part of my FebruHABITS  goals of incorporating more #Plantpower into my diet, smoothies are amazing!

I have to admit that I used to think they were a far cry from being healthy (some of the recipes out there use ice cream or frozen yogurt, tons of fruit and loads of added sugars) and I always thought who wants to drink their calories anyway?!? Not this girl!

Or so I thought! But then I saw the light (after all, all healthy things have their evil twins) and I’ve been converted by the good, plant-loving people at Thrive Forward to try to incorporate one plant-based smoothie into my diet each day…usually at breakfast. And guess what!?!

I LOVE THEM! I’ve found that if I drink it in the morning it gives me so much more energy than my usual cup of coffee (something I’m trying to cut back on). And, BONUS, you can incorporate loads of fruits and veggies into your day in just one meal….did I say meal? Yes, yes I did. That’s the catch…altho a positive one at that! You have to balance your smoothie  to make sure it has carbs, proteins, fiber, and healthy fats so it’s filling! I usually opt to drink half a recipe and make a meal out of that by eating one of my morning oat protein bars, or a buckwheat/oat waffle with some almond butter on top.

Here’s my go-to morning smoothie recipe:

Green Smoothie 101

  • 1 C unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4C aloe vera juice (this is totally optional, but I always drink some in the morning)
  • 1 C frozen strawberries (if they’re whole I usually add about 5-6)
  • 1 C fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 a ripe avocado
  • 1/4 tsp stevia
  • 1/2 scoop NOW Sports vegan pea protein powder (optional: and you can choose any other variety of powder)
  • 1 scoop Chlorella powder (again totally optional)
  • PLUS a little water if it’s too thick

smoothie

Add it all to the blend. Whir, whir, whir. ENJOY!

I actually had one this morning that consisted of beets, strawberries, cocoa powder, stevia, & some protein powder…YUM! Red deliciousness in a glass!

Do you have any killer smoothie recipes? Want more recipes? (I have lots of faves)

So incorporating more veggies into my diet has actually been really great! And, I’ve been getting in at least a gallon of water a day! yay! And, I’ve been reading a Proverb each day as well as learning how Pip has some Great Expectations ahead of him. Woot woot for progress!

How are things going with your FebruHABITS?

FebruHABITS

It’s almost February! AH! How did that happen?! February…hmmm…Will Phil see his shadow? Is it a leap year? And, what sort of sadist decided to lump all the holidays together where being single seems to equate you with a leper? But at least it means there’s only 6 more months until the Canfield Fair with my boo Deanna!

Canfield Fair

Ok, but seriously…February also seems to be a month where people start falling off the wagon in terms of their 2013 goals. It gets bitterly cold and dank out (altho this nice warm spell in DC is GREAT!) and I know I would rather sit on the couch in my comfy sweatpants than think about being social, working out, or trying a new recipe!

So, along with some other challenges that are floating (#Plantpower with Powercakes and the 2013 Challenge) a few friends and I have decided to band together to keep one another accountable and encouraged as we work on building new habits!

You may have heard that it takes 21-30 days to build a habit… I thought that was a cold hard fact! But, recent research from the University College of London suggests that the 21-30 day habit building ideal is actually a myth, saying that evidence for the 21-day cycle is purely anecdotal. WHAT?!? Then how do you build new habits effectively, and how long does it take? Welp, it depends on YOU! Everyone is differently, beautifully, and wonderfully made, so any kind of cookie cutter diet/fad/plan/etc will either leave you feeling like…

  • A: a CHAMP… you are already on step 9 of 12 and it’s only day 2
  • B: a WIMP… you don’t even know where to start and figure you’ll fail anyway
  • C: like CRAP… you started off great but it’s been 2 weeks and you’ve seen 0 changes

Sound familiar? For a long time I always ended up in category C… I start off with great intentions and then life happened, someone brought birthday cake to the office and I would feel like IT’S ALL OVER…today is shot, might as well throw in the towel and have a cheeseburger or Chic Fil-A (mmm Chic Fil-A waffle fries are made of 100% magic) right?

WRONG! Building a habit, a new lifestyle, a new diet (and I mean diet as in the way you eat NOT some unattainable fad you adopt for a month and then crash because you can’t live on cabbage), isn’t about beating yourself up. It’s about taking small steps FORWARD!

I started to see results in my own life (health and fitness wise as well as discipline wise) after really taking a look at what I was eating through My Fitness Pal, chatting with my friend Tracy about nutrition and exercise, and generally keeping myself honest with… well… MYSELF!

So what’s FebruHABITS all about?

It’s NOT just about HEALTH GOALS…although those are great and would be a good addition. It IS about setting small, attainable goals that you’re comfortable sharing with others, getting accountability to KEEP MOVING FORWARD in your pursuit of those goals, and CELEBRATING your achievements at the end of the month!

How does it work?

#1 you need to a pick a reward… that’s the fun part! Maybe you’ll get that new pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing, dinner at your fave restaurant, or a new piece of cooking equipment…whatever you choose, but make it something out of the ordinary.

#2 choose at least one simple daily goal! You can choose more than one (I broke mine down into categories, two small goals for each, 6 in total) but keep them S.M.A.R.T. & don’t go overboard!  It could be health and fitness related (do 25 push-ups everyday), spiritual (read a new Bible verse each day), or even interpersonal (talk to one stranger everyday!) They shouldn’t be… lose 5lbs, eat more veggies…that’s not specific nor measurable enough! (shoot me a comment if you need help developing your goals)

My goals…

  • HEALTH: Drink 1 gallon of water every day (that seems like a lot but I’ve been working up to 1gal for awhile now, so I know it’s attainable)
  • HEALTH: Make my daily food intake from #Plantpower with Powercakes except on Mondays
  • SPIRITUAL: Read a Proverb every day & Journal on Monday nights
  • PERSONAL: Read at least one chapter of Great Expectations a night (I have been trying to finish this book for FOREVER)
  • PERSONAL: Keep in touch with all of YOU by posting for FebruHABITS each week!

#3 Download the FebruHabits Calendar, put your goals at the bottom, print it off and hang it somewhere you see everyday… I’m guessing that for most of us that’s the refrigerator! AND post your goals below so we all know what you’re up to 🙂

calendaronfridge

#4 check off each day when you’ve completed your goals and start doing a happy dance as we sail through February! Miss a day? NO PROBLEM! Tomorrow is a new day! And you get 3 cheat days (that’s 90% success rate)…although no cheating is the preference 😉

#5 Be sure to check in each week to see what’s new, get some encouragement, and let me know how you’re doing! You can also follow me on instagram @spoonfulofsara and post your #FebruHABITS pics (maybe extra accountability? 😉

So…what are your FebruHABITs goals? Are you nervous, excited, both?