Life Through an Instagram Lens {V-Day Edition}

Right now, I feel like I’m living a life of abundance. While there’s monotony sprinkled in, I feel refreshed and open to new experiences. One scroll through my Instagram feed and I know why – the people, places and things I have surrounded myself with are pretty incredible. But also, I finally landed on my core desired feelings (more to come on that) and worked through the personal exercises in my Day Designer - pretty life changing, my friends.

snowmobile
One of my CDF’s is ADVENTUROUS! If you know me well, I need this as a focal point in my life. I went snowmobiling with my friends visiting from Kansas and, though I was forced to ride behind the instructor because I was too slow, by the end of the journey I trusted him to lead me safely through the trails and ended up LOVING it. Isn’t the summit worth it, after all?

summit
I think so.

denverbeerco
This weekend wouldn’t have been complete without a true Denver pub crawl, starting at my personal fave Denver Beer Co, and ending with a crazy fun Thursday night dance party. Now that’s a life worth living. :)

moab
Ready to participate in my third half marathon. When I signed up for my first, who knew I would be here four years later! In terms of preparation, I’m not as consistent with training as I was for my first, but far more consistent than I was for my most recent (e.g. no training). I can’t wait to take in the beauty of Moab again and run through the Canyonlands. Admittedly, this will probably be my last marathon because I’ve realized that running just isn’t motivating for me. Being active should be FUN, not forced.

breck
lodge
Spending a beautiful, snow-packed weekend at an 18-person lodge in Breckenridge. The perfect blend of hard work (skiing in tons of fresh powder) and relaxation (apres ski is where it’s at). After a year of hating (if there was a stronger word, I would use it) skiing, I finally decided to get a lesson. I also bought this book because, let’s be real, I needed magic. After both, I finally had the confidence and free spirit to ENJOY a few days on the mountain. It’s all about letting go…and that adventure thing I mentioned earlier.

cravings
Participating in the #sdschallenge, a series of daily challenges to feed your soul and feel more alive. This is REALLY working, and there’s still time to sign up and get in on the goods. The above journaling exercise is designed to redirect cravings, but other daily challenges including choosing a theme song that automatically resets your mood and finally deciding to do something you’ve been putting off until XXXXX happens. For me, that’s finally scheduling professional headshots for my blog, LinkedIn, etc.!

butternutsquash
And a “day in the life” wouldn’t be complete without some delicious food. This gorgeous butternut squash and arugula pizza hails from True Food Kitchen, one of my favorite spots for a light, yummy lunch or a juice on the go (try the Hangover RX). They have locations in Arizona, California, Colorado and Texas.

maca
Heard of maca? If not, you should get to know this deliciously decadent superfood that, when paired with chocolate, is literally to die for. I got this sample from my friend and fellow RD, Elizabeth, who works with Vega. I also buy Vega‘s plant-based protein powder for smoothies.

sprouts
Simplest lunch = toasted Ezekiel bread topped with goat cheese, smashed avocado, smoked salmon and spicy sprouts.

lasagna
I rave about lasagna pretty consistently here on the blog. Casseroles of any kind work pretty well for the season we’re at in our life, because there are lots of leftovers for lunches. This version included lean ground beef, eggplant, onion, artichoke hearts and lacinato kale. Topped with a few pine nuts, of course. I have already eaten it three times this week, and actually look forward to bringing my lunch! That’s the key. If a salad doesn’t excite you, don’t feel obligated. There are plenty of other ways to get your veggies.

stirfry
Another veggie-heavy dish here that I attribute to needing to get rid of ingredients in my fridge before they went bad. I literally just threw things in the stir-fry as I went. First, sautee broccoli and cauliflower florets in coconut oil. Then, add ground chicken breast until cooked thoroughly. Toss in mushrooms, kale (or other greens, like bok choy) and sliced green onions. Scramble a few eggs in the middle if desired. Season with soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos), juice of 1 lime, red pepper flakes and a spoonful or two of red chili paste. Top with shredded coconut, sliced almonds and serve over a bed of brown rice. Delish!

voodooAnd I leave you with these candy-coated donuts that need no words.

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{Five Things Friday} and Why I’m Quitting

1. My first “thing” for the week is a big one. Over the last few months, I’ve been excited to add new bloggers to my ongoing list of daily reads. Feedly has made it so much easier to get all my updates in one place, which I really appreciate. But I also found myself wasting time and energy lusting after the material goods that are often featured on these blogs. Blogger X just got a $5000 table for her living room? Blogger Y has a new outfit (every day)? My friends, this isn’t real life (many of the goods are free for the bloggers) nor is a life centered around things something I believe we should aspire to attain. So I’ve eliminated every single home and fashion blog from my reading list – and that’s what I’m quitting. No offense if you blog in that space, but I’ve chosen to feed my mind with more positive influences, because it’s not about what you have, it’s about who you are, how you treat others and what you aspire to be. A few I recommend adding to your reading list are: MindBodyGreen, The Daily Love, The Wellness Wonderland, Lexi’s Clean Kitchen, Nutrition Stripped, Inspired RD, Eat, Live, Run and My Kind of Life.

2. I found the cutest meditation space in the Platt Park neighborhood, Mayu Sanctuary. I stopped in over the holiday break to learn more about the space and their program offerings, and ended up spending well over an hour talking to the owner (Cierra) about how and why she created Mayu. You can drop in anytime and pay only what you believe the experience was worth. I also picked up some incense and a cozy purple pillow for poses, which Cierra showed me how to use and choose based on my comfort level. She never made me feel like I didn’t know what I was doing, so I felt super comfortable asking her any questions I had. I love supporting small businesses, and great visionaries like her, so I know that I’ll be back.

3. How do you want to feel today? That is the main question my new book, The Desire Map, aims to answer. It flips the idea of goal-setting on its head and instead helps us understand how we want to feel. The five core feelings you define after reading the book and completing the exercises should guide every decision and action you make over the course of the year, until it’s time to re-evaluate and choose new feelings to guide you along life’s journey. In creator Danielle LaPorte’s words, “You will do much less proving, and way more living.” I will be going through this over the next few weeks and will report back on my own experience with the book.

desiremap
4. A new cookie recipe that I am OBSESSED with. Against All Grain’s “Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies” are made with almond flour, coconut sugar and (my favorite) Enjoy Life chocolate chips. While there is quite a bit of controversy surfacing over the use of almond flour right now (The Urban Poser has a good – rational – synopsis), I don’t eat near enough of it to really care. All I know is that these cookies were better than any cookie I have ever made, and that’s saying a lot.

realdealcookies
5. My husband has himself a new hobby – brewing beer! I got him a starter kit and book for Christmas, and he’s already on his second batch. I hear the first batch is rarely very good, but I was quite impressed with how his (a  wheat beer) turned out. I think I’m going to like this hobby, even if our back room has turned into a mini brewery of sorts.

aaronbrewery

 

What’s new in your world these days?

 

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Recipe Roundup: Skinny Slow Cooker Recipes

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One of my favorite wedding presents has to be our slow cooker. In fact, I’m using it right now to make Food52′s Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin while I write this post. Which reminds me, if you haven’t visited Food52 before, you simply must head on over to their site for so much more than recipes. My favorite columns are their “how-to” posts, such as How to Store Cheese and Making Your Own Nut Flour (Without Making Nut Butter). But, I digress. Back to slow cookers.

Ours is a basic 6-quart (I think) Crock Pot with high, low and keep warm settings as well as a programmable digital timer. Since one of my goals is to be a better meal planner and prepper while I’m in grad school (and beyond), the slow cooker is really becoming one of my best friends to have delicious meals ready by the time I get home from work. I love Sunday slow cooker meals too, because I can spend all day either relaxing or running errands and not really have to worry about dinner. And during these coldest of snowy days, what could be better than a warm, comforting meal with little hassle?

It can sometimes be hard to find healthy slow cooker meals, though. A simple search on Pinterest turns up loads of cheese and gravy-laden options, but those in this week’s recipe roundup are much lighter and even tastier.

pulled porkEasy BBQ Pulled Pork from Lauren’s Latest. This recipe is a no-brainer and can be personalized depending on which BBQ sauce you choose. I’m partial to Stubb’s BBQ sauce right now for the line’s clean ingredient list. Plus, it’s gluten free for those of you that need it. Now if they’d only create a Kansas City-inspired version…

Slow-Cooker-Thai-Chicken-Soup-FoodieCrush-50Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup from FoodieCrush. Juicy chicken marinated in a sauce of creamy peanut butter and coconut milk? Sign me up!

tmeatballs-3I’m always looking for ways to sneak plant-based foods, such as lentils and quinoa, into dishes like meatloaf and meatballs, so these Crock Pot Mini Turkey Quinoa Meatballs from How Sweet It Is need to be added to my rotation. This recipe requires a bit of pre-browning so you’ll need to dirty more than the slow cooker, but it’s a necessary step to create a meatball that holds together.

orange chickenSlow Cooker Sesame Orange Chicken from the Against All Grain Cookbook (which I have and love). Forget Panda Express or delivery – this is the real deal. Photo credit from Fit Paleo Mom, who recreated the recipe here.

crockpot-veggie-lasagna-3I have an unhealthy obsession with lasagna right now. Skillet lasagna, zucchini noodle lasagna and now…slow cooker lasagna! This version from Pinch of Yum is vegetarian, but browned ground turkey, chicken breast or beef could also be added. I also never put in as much cheese as is called for in a lasagna recipe. I use dollops of ricotta (try goat’s milk ricotta) throughout and only a sprinkling of hand-shredded hard cheese like Parm on top. If you’re grain-free, I love Capello’s  lasagna sheets. The texture is perfect!

What are your favorite slow cooker recipes?

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