Thankful Thursday: I might be a hippie edition

I have loads of things to be thankful for today… the beautiful weather, great friends, the fact that summer movies have started up again here in DC! Went to see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade al fresco last night…there’s just something about sitting outside in the grass without shoes on that just feels right

nomaAnd, like last Thankful Thursday I’m thankful for my kitchen abilities and adventurousness that might be leading me toward becoming a hippie! Today I got to taste the first batch of home brewed Kombucha my friend Joyce and I have been working on!

kombucha 2

We recycled some GT’s bottles for our own brew

Joyce procured us a very robust SCOBY (we call him Scooby Doo) and we’ve been brewing (or should I say fermenting, which kind of feels like babysitting) for about 2 weeks now. Today was the first day the Kombucha was finally fermented enough to try it out. We made a gingerberry flavor and regular ginger… SWEET SWEET SUCCESS!

Right now you’re either thinking one of two things… Scenario #1: OMG how did you do that I freaking LOVE Kombucha!  Scenario #2: What the heck is Kombucha?

Well, to kill two birds with one stone… Kombucha is simply a fermented tea. A “mother” AKA SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) feeds off of the sugar in a sweet tea base you brew up.

How did we make it? Brew up…

  • 2C hot water
  • 2 TBSP (about 5 tea bags) of any kind of tea
  • 1C Sugar

You take 3/4C of this base and 3 1/4C filtered water (all at room temp) and add it in with your SCOBY (we are doing continuous brewing and it’s super easy!) Save the rest of the base for later in the week. You add on a schedule of 3 days, 3 days, 4 days, until there is enough Kombucha to be bottled. Then, you drain some off into glass containers and add more base/water large mixture. The bottles need to sit for at least a week at room temp to ferment and get fizzy 🙂 which is when you can add your own flavoring…next stop for me is Strawberry!

What the heck is it? Kombucha came from China (altho the word itself most likely comes from the Japanese word for tea), spread to Russia in the early 1900s and then the rest of Western Europe. It’s medicinal properties are highly disputed and WedMD will tell you NOT to home brew because you can brew bacteria, but hey…they’re doctors…they have to say that! Down with the man! <—hippie comment I know!

But the hippies really knew what they were talking about…It’s dang good and (altho it’s disputed) dang good for you and your gut…

kombucha!

What does it do? The claim is that Kombucha has detoxifying properties because of it’s acidity. Our bodies are constantly fighting to maintain homeostasis, which also means maintaining a neutral pH. Since most of the foods we eat are acidic (meat, eggs, dairy, sugar, coffee, most processed foods, fruit, grains, yeast, etc) we should be eating more alkaline based foods (dark leafy greens and veggies) to balance ourselves out.

Kombucha and other forms of probiotics help in this pH neutralization quest because the “good bacteria” in them work with (and not against) the acids in your stomach and react with minerals such as Calcium, Sodium, Potassium and Magnesium in the body tissue and blood, to form alkalies.

Too much acid can be harmful though so 4-8ozs is the RDA (and if you’re supplementing with Apple Cider Vinegar, Kombucha should replace it for the day).

Ok enough science…

Have you ever tried Kombucha? Have another favorite health drink you swig every day? 

Thankful Thursday: #KitchenLoveAffair Edition

Sometimes I take things for granted. Like growing up with a mom who taught me how to cook! Thanks Mom! My dad cooks too, and I can remember the whole family in the kitchen for Thanksgiving hand mixing the stuffing (all three of us)…

fam

The padres spent Christmas with me in DC!

So this Thursday I’m thankful that I learned how to cook!

I was reading a few articles recently about the childhood obesity epidemic and one thing from a US News article by Yoni Freedhoff caught my attention…

“I’d argue that the simple act of cooking—a health-preserving life skill—is a skill that risks extinction. In some families, regular home cooking is a phenomenon not seen for three generations.”

When I was in 8th grade we took home-economics, which included a cooking section and a sewing section. I was surprised to learn that most schools (I think mainly due to budget cuts) just don’t have those types of programs anymore because I’m not that old! (or maybe I am but I won’t admit it 😉

And that’s what I hear from people a lot… “I don’t know how to cook!” Now, there are lots of healthy options that need minimal cooking, but how do you learn how to make this…

Black bean, tomato, & quinoa salad on top of a bed of spinach, with a taco seasoned tilapia filet on top (literally took 20 min to make!)

if you grew up eating this one or twice a week…

McDonalds_Meal

I really hope this was shared between a few people!

Both are tasty… I’ll admit, but if your tastebuds are hooked on the fats in fast foods, the sugars in soft drinks (it’s really called pop, but that’s for another post), and feeling of being overly-full because of the bloating that usually comes along with processed foods…where do you start on the road to health?

Personally, I think it comes down to prioritizing health over convenience and dedicating time and effort to really learn the basics of cooking (including how to season things so that health food doesn’t equal bland food). Sign up for a cooking class, ask a friend for some lessons (I’ll help you if you want!), or talk to your grandma (believe me… she probably did more cooking than a normal family does nowadays)!

Now don’t get me wrong…I’m no Julia Child! But neither is he…

And, there are still things that I’m scared to cook/bake (pie crusts are the bane of my existence!) But knowing how to cook has allowed me to be able to experiment with new flavors, create Cannellini Bean Ranch Dressing, and be confident in the kitchen with delicious results!

Did you take home-ec when you were in school? What’s the one thing that scares you in the kitchen? 

p.s. I started my cross fit classes this past Tuesday and all I can say so far is… I.can’t.feel.my.arms!

I did it! Thankful Thursday: runner’s edition

This past Sunday I ran my 3rd half-marathon in Pittsburgh and set a new PR of 1:58:15, which was a full 12.5 some minutes better than last year’s run (wooohooo)! I’ve run the race 4 years in a row now (3 halves and one full marathon) and each year I’ve been so honored to run for charity and with family and friends!

Me pghmarathon4

So, this #thankfulThursday I’m thankful for the ability to run and run for a reason! I’m thankful for the legs that carried me across the finish line (#heygirl inspired T-shirt and all)…

finish

Every time I go out on a run I think…there are people who literally cannot run! Whether it’s because of an ailment, amputation or lack of health. And remembering that pushes me to keep going, just like during the race so many people chose to #runforBoston

runforBoston

HUGE thank you and virtual hugs to everyone who donated, ran with me, cheered me on, and gave me props for finishing. And all I can say is… I was NEVER a runner! I started off running a 13-14min mile gasping for breath every step, but I kept on running, kept on pushing myself and now I truly believe in mind over matter 🙂

What keeps you motivated to run, swim, bike, hike, whatever you do!?

Thankful Twitterpated Thursday

#twitterpated by #spring

I think Spring may actually be here to stay! This Thursday that’s why I’m thankful. Spring is the reminder of a new beginnings as trees bud and flowers (esp my faves…tulips) bloom. And as I walk by picturesque streets here in DC I’m reminded that “God’s loyal love can’t run out, His merciful love can’t dry up…it’s new every morning” -Lam 3:23

And I’m reminded of Bambi and Twitterpation…

And I’m thankful for new recipes! I adapted a breakfast lentil recipe from godairyfree.com

Lentils

For 4 servings…Ingredients:

  • 1C red lentils (soaked overnight to reduce cooking time and ease digestion)
  • 3C brewed red tea (I used decaf Coconut Thai Chai Tea)
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp nutmeg
  • 1tsp stevia (or leave it out and add honey/maple syrup/etc to each portion)
  • Topping: splash of Almond Breeze coconut almond milk (or any kind of milk), chopped apple, crushed walnuts

Place the tea, spices and lentils over med-high heat and cook 20-30min or until soft. Top with apples and walnuts (maybe a drizzle of honey) and enjoy!

I ate mine hot in a new mug I #fabfound at Marshall’s the other day… LOVE! But I think it would be great cold and the topping choices are ENDLESS! Shredded coconut? Yes! Adding in healthy fats (coconut, coconut oil, walnuts, etc) is always a plus and lentils instead of oats in the morning definitely ups the amount of natural protein you’re taking in in the morning.

mug

Thankful Thursday #prayforBoston edition

On Monday as I got word about the bombings in Boston and tightened security here in DC

AND

On Tuesday when my Yogi SmarTea reminded me to…

SmarTea

AND

On Wednesday when ricin letters and mysterious packages were found just a few hundred feet away from where I live and work resulting in mucho media on our doorstep…

media

And today when I woke up with a heavy heart and breath in my lungs…

I prayed.

It’s something I do regularly, and would encourage you to do! Even if you’ve never done it before…even if it starts when you #prayforboston…even if you’re not quite sure about this whole God thing…even if you’re angry at God or can’t even begin to understand why tragedy exists…pray.

Why? 1. Because I believe God will answer you and 2. If nothing else this week should remind us that “you do not know what tomorrow will bring”(James 4:14) If you could say there is a silver lining to tragedy, I think it would be its galvanizing and sobering effect on how we perceive life…it’s short and it’s up to each os uf to decide if its bitter or sweet.

My life is sweet because I know the higher, bigger and better thing I live for…

do you? 

Thankful Thursday isn’t always easy… but it can be yummy

I try to write at least one post a week. Even though I’m not really sure anyone except my mom reads them (thanks mom), writing can be just as cathartic as a good workout. It helps me streamline my oftentimes jumbled and harried thoughts into what (I hope) are coherent ideas. And, just like after a good sweat session, I tend to feel great after finishing a post.

Then there are days when it’s not easy to write. Either because I feel like I have nothing to say or no sense of direction, I think who even cares what I have to think, or I know the direction but stubbornly refuse to go with the flow…like today!

It’s #thankfulthursday, but let’s be honest…being thankful isn’t always easy. Yes, there are about a BILLION things in my life that I can and should be thankful for, but sometimes I just want to have a pity party and say, “Woe is me, life sucks…I’m tired and sore AND I still have to teach spin class tonight…no amount of coffee or chocolate is going to make this day any better.”

The good news is (once again thanks to mom) that my pity party lasts about ten minutes. That’s how long it takes me to come to that pivotal moment that usually rears it’s ugly head around the 35min mark of a 2hr run or rep 8 out of 12 of what seems like the hardest workout of all time… that moment when I can either give in, let my day be full of negativity and just plain suck, or I can push through, suck it up and realize that being upset about #firstworldproblems and wasting precious time whining is just plain silly.

What’s it going to be? 

I choose thankfulness and optimism. So today I’m thankful for the promise that God has plans “to prosper and not to harm” us (Jer 29:11) and I’m thankful for the beautiful cherry blossoms that are starting to bud here in DC… a reminder of new beginnings all around us.

blossomsAnd… I’m thankful for memories like this #tbt one

tbt 80s

80s rollerskating for my 25th birthday…my family went all in and my “little” cousin came in full MC hammer mode. Love, love, love  them!

And… I’m thankful for whoever invented BBQ! I found this idea on a friend’s Pinterest Board and thought… why didn’t I ever think of this!

Meet BBQ Shredded Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes…

sweetsbbq

I made the BBQ Sauce from scratch and it was sooo easy!

Ingredients:

  • 1TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1C ketchup (I use Simply Heinz)
  • 1/4C Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4C water
  • dash Cayenne pepper
  • 1 TBSP Chili powder
  • 2 TBSP Paprika

In a small saucepan, heat oil & then brown garlic. Add remaining ingredients, stir and bring to simmer. Allow to cook for 15min or until thick. D-O-N-E!

I took two roasted chicken breasts, shredded them and stirred them into the sauce…that’s when it got serious!

Not going to lie, I had it last night for dinner AND a little more of the chicken for a snack and I will be eating it again for dinner tonight…if nothing else makes this day better that WILL! YUM!

So…What’s it going to be for you today, tomorrow, this weekend? And, what are you thankful for?

Thankful Thursday (plus a little throwback)

TGIT…It’s Thursday and I’m being a good little blogger and remembering that it’s Thankful Thursday! Today I’m thankful for 3, count ’em 3 things…

1…I’m thankful for my education! I went to a small, Christian Liberal Arts school in Canton, OH called Malone University. I recently got to meet our new President and his wife at a DC-area alumni event.  And now… I’m being featured in my alma mater’s alumni e-newsletter!!! How cool!

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 4.43.16 PM

Our Director of Alumni and Parent Relations visited me that same weekend and we randomly shot this video on the road in front of my workplace (completely on the fly). I was nervous that I NEVER got to see it before it was sent out to every alumni of my university AHH! If you wanna watch just click the picture, but be kind 😉

2…I’m thankful for good conversation over steaming cups of coffee! I had breakfast at Jimmy T’s (an awesome Capitol Hill diner-esque kind of place) with my friend Brian (you can spot him in the #tbt pic below). I strayed from my current vegan-vore diet and had an scrumptious spinach, mushroom, and feta omelette! It was so good I didn’t even stop to be a hipster and take a pic of it… use your foodie imagination!

So here’s to old friends you love to laugh with…my throwback for #tbt…

909373_617769010399_680997494_n

 A combo of staff members during the summer of 2008 that I spent working on the Eastern Shore of VA…what a summer…what a group!

3… I’m thankful for hope! It’s Easter weekend, and what could be more hope-filled than that!? Spring is (kind of) here, I get to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection with friends and family, AND I’m headed on a quick trip down south in hopes of taking another step toward becoming a Certified Health Educator!

What are you thankful for today? Any exciting plans for the weekend?