Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fitness Essentials: 7 must-have workout tools

I tend to keep my yoga practices and workouts separate, but for the sake of this post I have combined elements of both. As a certified yoga teacher and fitness fanatic, here are some of my favorite things: 

1. Lululemon The Mat: As a yoga teacher, I practice yoga a lot and need a durable, reliable mat that I can count on. I love this mat because unlike other mats, it won't slide around on hard floors. I also tend to sweat a lot and this mat has a special coating so you won't lose your grip, even when you're sweating. It's also thicker than your typical mat so it's more supportive and protective. So if you're serious about yoga, I would highly recommend this mat. 

2. Nathan Sonic Boom Armband: Whenever I run or use my elliptical, I love to listen to music. Holding your phone in your hand can be annoying and you will get your phone sweaty. Using an armband is the perfect solution for handsfree running. 

3. Foam Roller: I love to roll out my muscles before and after every workout. Using a foam roller is a great way to massage your muscles and release tension or tightness. It also works wonders on sore muscles.  

4. Lululemon Namaste Yoga Tote: If you practice yoga away from the home, you may want to consider a yoga mat carrier. Not only does it keep your mat from unrolling and getting dirty, but it can store your water bottle, keys, towel, and other items. Plus, it's easy to carry by just sliding it over your shoulder. 

5. Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness: I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys yoga whether you are a beginner or a teacher. This book is really easy to understand, has very clear images, and I love how deep it dives into meditation. If you struggle moving past yoga being only physical, this is the book for you. 

6. Lululemon The (Small) Towel: When you sweat during workouts or yoga practices, it's always nice if you have a towel with you so that you can quickly wipe down and get rid of sweat dripping on your face or hands. Any towel will do, but I like these because they are super absorbent and soft. 

7. Thera-bands: Thera-bands are great for resistance training and strength building. When I was a ballet dancer, I would use these every single day to gain strength in my ankles and feet, and I haven't stopped using them since. There are so many exercises you can do with these to work every part of the body. 

I didn't put numbers with these because they are pretty standard, but also pictured are small dumbbells and wrist-weights; I like to use these during certain exercises and on the elliptical. Let me know if you want to see any of my workout routines including foam roller exercises, thera-band exercises, and yoga sequences! 

Friday, January 24, 2014

10 Ways to Live More Sustainably

1. Avoid disposables - This is a broad one, but it is one of the most important. Our society has gotten into such a bad habit of using disposable products - using something just one or two times and then throwing it away. This creates so much unnecessary waste when one could, instead, just invest in reusable items. Doing so will also save you money (imagine using a disposable coffee cup every day for a year; that's 365 cups you would have to pay for as opposed to a one time purchase of a reliable, travel coffee mug). Here are examples of ways to switch from disposable to reusable:
  • Use a glass or BPA free water bottle for water, and filter your own water.
  • Bring your own reusable utensils when eating out or taking your lunch on the go.
  • Use glass tupperware instead of disposable plastic tupperware and plastic bags. 
  • Use washable cloths and rags instead of paper towels (or if you use paper towels, compost them!)
  • Drink and bring your own water instead of buying bottled soft and sports drinks.
  • Take reusable bags to the grocery stores. 
  • Take your own coffee mug to coffee shops (I know some places, including Starbucks, will give you a discount when you do this).

2. Be conscious of your water usage - Be aware when you're using water, and try to use as little as needed.  Saving water will also save you money! Here are some examples of how to reduce water usage:
  • Don't leave the water running while brushing your teeth.
  • Use a water saving shower head. I use the evolve shower head. It stops the water flow after the water gets to a warm temperature (95º fahrenheit), so the water won't keep running once it's warm. When you are ready to get in the shower, you just pull a cord and the warm water flow resumes. Unfortunately for me, my shower takes a couple minutes to warm up, so a feature like this really comes in handy. On top of that, it also saves water while the water is running, about 8 gallons for every 5 minute shower compared to standard shower heads.
3. Recycle! I have lived in a lot of apartments that didn't offer a recycling service, and there are ways to work around this so you can still recycle. Most cities have a drop off recycling center that you can find through your city government's website. If you can't find one, there are usually recycling programs through schools and other organizations that will take your recycling as well. You'll just have to search a little bit. These are also good alternatives if you don't want to pay for the recycling pick-up service. 

4. Compost - Disposing of food waste properly is important. Did you know that about 1/8 of solid waste is from food scraps? What most people don't realize is that it is harder than you would think for food to biodegrade once going to landfill. In order for biodegradable items to actually biodegrade, they need the right conditions - light, oxygen, and water. Because landfills are so tightly packed, even biodegradable items can stay preserved for many years. Many cities now have food waste roadside pick-up, and if you don't want to pay for that service, you can always just compost at home! Another great benefit of composting, aside from making good soil, is your trash can won't smell! 

5. Sort your trash - going along with recycling and composting, have specific divided areas for all of your waste. A good way to sort your trash is into these categories:
  • Recyclables
  • Compost 
  • Landfill
  • Hazardous Waste (batteries, lightbulbs, thermostats, electronics, etc.)
You can find places that will take your hazardous waste like Lowe's. Once you sort your waste, you will be surprised how little is actually going to landfill. Also, instead of putting unwanted items like old clothes, furniture, and other items in the trash to go to landfill, find ways to reuse them by taking them to thrift stores, donation centers, etc. 

6. Be conscious of your energy usage - Try to conserve energy. While not everyone has solar powered houses, there are still ways to cut back on energy spending. Get in the habit of being energy friendly; this will also save you money! Here are some tips on how to do this:
  • Turn off your lights when you're not using them.
  • Unplug appliances when you're not using them. 
  • Wash your clothes with cold water.
  • Line-dry your clothes.
  • Dress warmer and keep your thermostat colder in the winter. 
  • Keep your thermostat higher in the summer time. 
  • Make sure your house is well insulated. 
7. Bike, walk, and bus - try to use your car less by using public transportation or finding energy friendly ways of getting where you need to go. This should be no surprise, but this, too, will save you money!

8. Grow your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs - If you live in an apartment, you can still grow your own herbs and a couple other things in pots or you can upcycle milk and orange juice cartons into an herb container by cutting out one of the sides. 

9.  Eat a plant-based diet - Meat industries are a major source of emissions. 

10. Reduce paper usage - Here are some ways how:
  • Most companies now have an eco-friendly paperless option for bills, statements, etc. Use this!
  • Cancel your newspaper and read online. 
  • Switch to electronic methods for calendars, note taking, etc. 

If you have any ideas or other ways of living green, I would love to hear about them in the comments! Have a great weekend everyone! 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Agave Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cranberry Wild Rice

I made this recipe last night for my parents, and they could not stop eating it because it was so good! I adapted this recipe from The Veggie-Lover's Sriracha Vegan Cookbook. Although it was my first recipe that I've made from this book, it was so good and I can't wait to try more. This book is filled with so many creative recipes that all look fantastic. Personally, I love sriracha and I probably put it on too many food items, but what's great about this book is the recipes can stand alone without adding the full amount or even any of the called for sriracha; they're just solid recipes. This particular recipe is the perfect recipe to incorporate sweet and savory elements into one, cohesive creation. 

Servings: About 6 or 7

Cranberry Wild Rice
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup sweetened or unsweetened cranberries 
  • Whole bag of wild rice blend (I used Lundberg's), about 2 1/2 cups
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons dried or minced fresh rosemary 
  • fresh ground pepper
Brussels Sprouts
  • About 1 lb of fresh brussels sprouts
  • 1/4 cup raw blue agave syrup (or grade b maple syrup)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Small squirt of Sriracha (original recipe calls for 3 tablespoons or you can omit this step)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons liquid aminos

  • Add 2 tbps oil to medium pot and heat on medium-high heat.
  • Add onion, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring with wooden spoon so onion doesn't burn. 
  • Add garlic and rosemary and mix everything together for about 30 seconds.
  • Add rice and mix until everything is evenly coated and mixed.
  • Add 1 cup of your broth to deglaze pot, scrapping bottom of pot. 
  • Add the rest of your broth and the cranberries.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about an hour.  
Brussels Sprouts
  • Preheat oven to 375ºF
  • Trim and cut brussels sprouts lengthwise (This is a great tutorial if you've never done this before)
  • Combine oil, agave syrup (or maple), sriracha, lime juice, and liquid aminos in a large bowl.
  • Stir ingredients until well blended
  • Add brussels sprouts and coat evenly.
  • Using slotted spoon, transfer brussels sprouts to non-stick baking sheet.
  • Roast for about 20-30 minutes.
To finish
  • Add walnuts and dried rosemary to rice without stirring, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Stir rice, add brussels sprouts on top, serve, and most importantly, enjoy!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Quinoa with Steamed Kale, Broccoli, and Carrots

This recipe is simple, super tasty, and you can make it quickly. It's hearty, yet it's light enough so that you don't feel heavy after eating your meal. And the best thing about this recipe is that it's incredibly healthy. Let's just talk a little bit about the benefits of what's in this dish:

First, we have quinoa which most people know is a complete protein on its own. This means that it contains nine of the essential amino acids our body needs. Quinoa is also rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, and riboflavin or vitamin B2. On top of all that it contains the antioxidant manganese. 

Next, let's talk about how wonderful kale is. Kale contains many antioxidants which aid our body in preventing various cancers. It also contains vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and nearly 700% of our daily intake of vitamin K. Just like quinoa, kale is packed with iron and fiber. And if all that isn't enough, kale is an excellent natural anti-inflammatory. 

Then, we have broccoli, which is another great anti-oxidant and anti-cancer vegetable. Broccoli is also rich in fiber, vitamin K, calcium, and it even helps to alkalize our body to make it less acidic. And just like in kale, broccoli has omega 3 fatty acids which work as an anti-inflammatory.

Last, let's talk about carrots. When most people think of carrots, they think of them being good for your eyes. This is because they contain the antioxidant beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A is used in the retina to help with vision. They also contain vitamin K, C, B2, calcium, and potassium. 

With all that being said, I'm sure you can see why this meal is great for our health, and an added bonus is it tastes delicious as well. 

Here are the ingredients you're going to need:

  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 small head of broccoli
  • about a cup of kale
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 1/4 - 1/2 jar of your favorite marinara or pasta sauce (try to use one with little to no oil)
  • Cook quinoa according to the package of quinoa that you choose. 
  • While quinoa is cooking, wash and clean the kale, carrot, and broccoli.
  • Chop the kale and broccoli, and slice the carrot into small slices. 
  • Then, using a steamer inside a large pot, bring the water to a boil. 
  • Add the kale, broccoli, and carrots to the steamer and steam for the shortest amount of time to bring out the flavor and colors of the vegetables. I steamed mine for a little less that five minutes. 
  • Once the quinoa is done, add the marinara sauce. You can use as much or as little as you want. 
  • Add the vegetables to the quinoa, and you're done! Add pepper as desired. 
  • Enjoy!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Reusable Utensil Set

I recently got these reusable utensil sets, and they are fantastic! They are made from bamboo and include one knife, one fork, one spoon, and a set of chop sticks. These are great because they come with a portable case that fits easily in a purse or a bag. They even have a carabiner on the back if you would rather clip them to your backpack, lunchbox, or something similar.  

What's great about these is by carrying a set in your purse, you'll never have to use and dispose of plastic utensils when you eat out or eat your meals on the go. Not only does plastic cutlery contain chemicals that are harmful for our bodies, but they are terrible for the environment as well. Many recycling programs don't even accept plastic utensils, so most of them just end up going to landfill. 

A good idea to do with these would be to fold up a small reusable cloth napkin and either wrap your utensils in it or tuck it in behind, that way you wouldn't have to use paper napkins when eating out either. I have to admit, it's very difficult to bring your own utensils when you're just taking them out of your utensil drawer from home: they get lost, they don't stay in place where you put them because they aren't in a case, and they're heavy (heavier than bamboo at least). These are from to-goware.com and are available in many different colors.

Together, let's reduce and reuse! 

Pumpkin Pancake Recipe

While this is not the healthiest recipe, I made these back in the fall and never blogged the recipe so I thought I would share. Considering this is from the fall, it is also apparent that I have not been doing a good job in general of blogging lately! I know excuses are just excuses, but I have been extremely busy with school and preparing for the GRE which I took just this morning! Yay! 
I will now, hopefully, have a lot more time to post more frequently! Let me know if there is anything specific you would like me to blog about; otherwise, I have a lot of ideas I'm excited to share with you all. 
Now, back to the recipe! For this recipe you will need the following: 


  • 3/4 cup Pancake Mix (I used Arrowhead Mills Multigrain Pancake & Waffle Mix)
  • About 1/2 tsp cinnamon or to taste
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4  cup and 2 tbsp pumpkin spice coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh berries or 1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional, I served my fresh berries on top of my pancakes)

As usual, I created this recipe on the spot and didn't measure out my ingredients exactly so keep in mind that my measurements are approximate!

  • Stir all ingredients together until there are no lumps. Do not over stir!
  • Preheat pan lightly oiled with grapeseed oil, and cook pancakes, flipping when edges get crusty and you can see bubbles forming on top. 
  • I used a slight amount of organic blue agave syrup on top or you can eat these plain.
  • Serve and enjoy!


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