becoming a foodie: the simple way.

Recently I’ve had a couple requests for some healthy recipe posts.  The other afternoon when I was visiting my dad, he asked me how to make a smoothie and what I typically ate in day and I knew this meant it was time for me to write something up!  I’m also completing The EveryGirl 30 day challenge and it has been my challenge to be ‘creatively healthy’ every single day.  So I present to you a healthy living post mixed with what I eat and why I eat it.  Now, let me be clear:  I am not a cook and I say this to you with a completely serious look on my face.  I’m not even remotely close to somebody that knows her way around the kitchen.  I strongly believe, however, that eating healthy requires two things, and being able to cook a gourmet meal isn’t one of them.

So, what’s my secret to eating whole and nutritiously?

  1. Keep things as simple as possible.  Like I said, cooking is not my thing and it will probably never be my thing.  Heck I made meatloaf from a recipe I found off of a Quaker Oatmeal box the other night and I hooped and hollered for hours!  Simplifying your cupboards and your meal plan is the real trick.  For example, when I make my smoothie in the morning, I use half of a banana and freeze the other half for the following day.  I use a quarter cup of dairy free yogurt and throw the rest in a tupperware for the following days.  At lunch, I alway always always add protein to my salads or I would devour our entire pantry by the time 3:00 came around.  I snack at least twice a day and if I know I’m not going to be at home, I pack snacks to bring with me (a lot of them).  I’ve never been the type of person that ‘meal preps’ every single Sunday because, to be honest, it completely stresses me out and makes me think that eating healthy and preparing meals is more work than what it actually is.  Foods, healthy foods, are readily available and if we really think about it, they don’t require hours of prep work.  Slicing an apple takes 30 seconds, preparing quonia takes 15 minutes, washing and slicing vegetables takes a minute or two.  Nutrition and all that entails, can be found all around us and I find it easier to live each day freely by listening to my body and what it wants during a specific time.  I spent many many years ignoring what my body was trying to tell me and I think that accepting that cravings and stomach growls are a very good thing completely changed my life.  Once you learn how long things take to prepare and what you typically like to eat on a daily basis, grocery shopping becomes a breeze and meal times become so enjoyable.
  2. Discover what works for you.  Eating healthy is trial and error.  Whether you’re an experienced chef or a 25 year old wife googling how to pronounce ‘Mignon,” healthy eating is 100 percent experimenting.  In addition to this, every [body] is different and therefore requires different things.  Yes, general health requires the consumption of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and water, however the details of nutritional requirements for all of us personally varies.  For example, we know that dairy is high in calcium, potassium, Vitamin D, and protein but for someone like me who is very intolerant to this food group, they have to get these nutrients elsewhere.  This also applies to Gluten and those who have Celiac’s Disease.  Some people can’t have nuts, which provide us with healthy fats and protein.  If you are pregnant or nursing, again, your nutritional requirements are going to be different than someone who is not, and the list goes on.  We all need to discover what types of foods respond well with our bodies.  Eventually you will find a plan that works and if you stick with that you can avoid all sorts of digestive, weight, and general health problems for your future.  I would also like to add that if you are one of those people that hasn’t quite figured out what ‘works’ quite yet: don’t give up.  Don’t look at food negatively (I’ve been there and it is a terrible feeling).  Start fresh with each day, or each meal even.  Swap out your bag of chips for some carrots, just this once.  Or even better, slow the heck down.  Eat your meal off a plate – a real plate – and visually see how much of each food item your are consuming.

What do I eat on a typical basis?  Below you will find my sample meal plan on a typical day where I’m both at home and running errands.

7 AM: Half caffeinated coffee with cream.  20 oz. of water.

8:30 AM: Berry Protein Smoothie  (1/2 banana, 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1/4 cup frozen cherries, a few frozen blueberries, one scoop vanilla protein powder, 1 cup almond milk, 1/4 cup ice cold water.  Every smoothie turns out with a little bit different consistency so I either add more water or add ice depending on what it needs).  Sprinkle the top of the smoothie with a few chia seeds and you’re good to go.  Hello Antioxidants, hello.

11:00:  Handful of raw nuts from my parent’s pantry or trail mix because I have a dangerous obsession with it, or a honey rice cake with peanut butter and an apple.  Water.

1:30:  Salad with Quinoa and Beans (Handful of Organic Spinach, carrots, zucchini, cucumber, grapes, tomatoes, 1/3 cup drained and rinsed pinto beans, 1/3 cup cooked quinoa.  I usually bake a large batch of the quinoa first and then use it through out the week.  I like the pinto beans and the quinoa heated up and then put on top of my salad.  I use Simply Dressed balsamic dressing or olive oil and lemon).  Water

2:45:  Iced Coffee while I’m running errands.

3:45:  Caffeine free tea, water, 1 cup of strawberries, couple bites of quinoa.

7:00:  Meatloaf and Steamed vegetables.  (I used grass fed beef, added oatmeal, and used as much organic products as possible (onion, etc.).  As for the vegetables, broccoli is my favorite and Nick likes cauliflower so I do a mixture of them both.  I also made some dinner rolls for Nick (I’m not the biggest fan of buns or anything that tastes like them because dough kind of grosses me out.  But my husband could eat them all day).

9:00: Spoonful of dairy free ice cream and a Dove dark chocolate just because.

As you can see, what I typically eat on a day to day basis does not require any sort of cooking skills.  Even the meatloaf was a huge mile stone for me as there are a lot of nights that Nick just grills me a veggie burger and I have it with a sweet potato or again, steamed vegetables.  Like I said earlier, nutrition is both trial and error and discovering foods that work well with your body.  Whether you are trying to lose weight, gain strength, or cure a sickness with Mother Earth’s medicine, your diet will directly impact your goals.  My advice to you would be to start slow.  For the first week, maybe focus on discovering a breakfast food that gives you both energy and satiation in the mornings.  I was with a girlfriend this morning who had oatmeal for breakfast for the first time in a while and she was hungrier much much sooner than usual.  She learned that a protein smoothie works better for her in the mornings in that very moment.  For another person, however, oatmeal might sit better with them, or for another maybe it’s eggs and toast.  The next week focus on lunches and so on.  Never restrict your calories, please please PLEASE!  And disregard any diets that are currently trending; they are your one ticket to failure.  Real foods and a balanced diet with consistent meals and snacking can save you from many physical, mental, and emotional problems and the minute you start listening to your body and what it wants is probably the same moment that you’ll be able to call yourself a ‘foodie.’  A beautiful and happy foodie.

I wish you a day that is filled with knowledge and an open mind, the happiest and healthiest kind.

to fall in love.

You know the one’s.  The kind of people you meet who by their very own nature, inspire you to do more and to be more.  The kind of people that change the world and somewhere along the way you’ve been lucky enough to let them change your life too .  He is one of them.  Him, up there, my husband.  Before him I often wondered what it would be like to be in love.  Any prior taste of it came from my family and from lousy college relationships that in some such way I’ll probably always be thankful for.  But this kind of love is more than that, it’s more than I ever could have hoped for actually.  It’s the kind of love that isn’t looking to be saved or fulfilled.  It is not needing nor impressive.  It is not unbreakable or free.  In a wondrous way, however,  all of these things are exactly what it ends up being day after day.  It is bigger than oceans and stars.  It is bigger than me.

This is love, and what it’s like to fall heavily into it.  These words are for all of you lovers and this moment is my chance to celebrate one year of marriage with the man I adore.  To my angel in blue jeans, this is for you.

You laugh and it’s my favorite sound.  A deep-set vibration that fascinates and captures me all at once.  Your smile is hesitant yet comforting.  Your eyes are soft like the water we stand in.  And then magic happens:  you laugh again and it makes me wish that moments like these were more prominent in all the world.  It’s full of emotions that are completely unexplainable.  But love, real love, doesn’t need to make sense because it’s everything.

It’s befriending a stranger with no questions asked.  It’s taking risks.  It’s tiny cafes and driving under the moonlight before the story begins and then it’s continuing to do it long afterwards.  It’s spontaneous but consistent.  It’s colorful but balanced.   It’s forever.

For me, it’s like holding your hand one thousand times but feeling something new with each and every touch.  It’s the way you dress, the scuffs on your boots, the tears in your jeans, the fact that you have a better sense of style than I probably ever will.  It’s the music you listen to, the beer you sip, the kindest of words you consistently choose to use not just because you love me, but because they’re who you are.

My love for you is unconditional.  I try to be better because of you and somewhere in a world of chaos I’ve found myself completely grounded.  I shine brighter, I smile bigger, and for the first time in my life I am unexplainably a different kind of complete.  I have fully discovered myself as a person not only because you exist but because you’ve become this part of me.  The part that a woman searches for her entire life.  The part when she feels like she is the person she knows she wants to be.  Patient, driven, thoughtful, like she can do anything in the world.

As a girl and a writer, I want you in one hundred different kinds of words.  I sit here, early this morning and look out into our tiny yard.  I think about you working – hours of labor just to keep us strong.  It’s 7 AM and you’re probably singing now because that’s what you do in the mornings.  I think about you driving home, sawdust flying out of your windowsill landing amongst the fields that I know you dream of one day exploring.  You pull in the driveway and our one year old pup rushes to the door to greet you.  Filling our house with the fresh scent of lumber, you bend to kiss her forehead.  I feel your chest press against my back while your salty arms surround my frame and I realize that you’re not just standing next to me.  Your pain is my pain.  Your dreams are my dreams.  As you walk to the fridge you ask me about my day, so simple yet so fantasy like.  I smile, settle into your arms, and read aloud from my journal as I smell the Budweiser melting off of your lips.  Like our interlaced hands, every day is the same, yet in a way, so brand new.  Moments like this, dreams like these, being in love is loving it all.

Today is our first anniversary.  We’re young.  You’re young and I am too.  We’re at the very beginning of this journey and as much as we think we are starting to know who we are and what we want, life has a way of changing people.  But just like the time when summer meets autumn, we adjust to it all.  I’m beginning to believe that being in love is getting to spend all of life’s changes with the person that makes you strong enough to handle them.  It’s dreaming, it’s soul searching, it’s wanderlust moments but it’s steady.  So this beginning I speak of is one that I will keep sacred in my heart.  For it was during this time that life and love became real to me.

Every day you remind me to express my dreams and to chase hard after them.  You teach me to spend more time working on the dreamer rather than the dream.  You’ve gifted me with a hopeful heart and a purpose.  You’ve taught me to listen and to trust.  You smile.  You Pray.  And you’ve given me a voice.

And for this, I thank you.  My dearest husband and friend, I am finally home.

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Vision.

It’s a rare thing to discover what you’re meant to do in life.  I cannot tell you the amount of joy my heart expresses when I’m holding a camera.  Making people smile, seeing things from a different perspective than somebody else, and using every ounce of energy I have to create an image makes me soar.  I also know that it’s a rare thing to discover what you’re meant to do in life and have it automatically happen.

The past two weeks without my full-time job have been an adjustment for me.  I began to fear the unknown.  The little knots in my stomach crept up my throat like jelly beans and I realized that the break in routine from going to work every day has left my heart feeling puzzled.  Did I do the right thing?  Did I quit my job at the right time?  

I’ve found myself praying about this more often than not lately and the only definite answer I have received is that it’s okay to dream.  It’s okay to have a creative vision with seemingly untouchable ambitions and poor judgement.  It’s all okay because maybe, maybe this is where life begins.  The kind of life you start living because it comes naturally; with no hesitation or comparison or doubt.  The kind of life that goes beyond your hobbies, friendships, family, and occupation.  The one where it’s just you and nothing else.  This act of freedom was a huge storm of sadness for me at first as I am one of those people that loves to work.  I like being challenged and completing projects and seeing that lists have been checked off.  I’m also a thinker, a wide eyed dreamer with a new business idea simmering up in the back of my mind at all times.  And so I’ve come to the conclusion that while I may not have a shoot lined up every day of the week or somewhere to go for forty hours, my full-time plan is to keep believing that I will.  Life is filled with opportunities and if one happens to cross my path in the next weeks ahead, I’ll compose my indecisive heart when it gets there.  But for now, trusting that faith brings happiness and a sense of security is the only place you’ll find my heart these days.

And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”  Luke 7:50

Are you ready to chase your dreams?  To breaks free from the monotony of your routine and discover something more?  Your creative vision starts with your deepest self.  Ask yourself, what are you good at?  What are your gifts?  How can you share them with the world?  When I realized that my gifts will never be found in a tiny cubicle with a 3X3 pillar in the middle of it, I also realized I am free.  I am whole.  I am love, and I am not afraid.Processed with VSCOcam with b3 preset

three tips to boost your health.

If you read my previous post you recently learned how in love with Minnesota I have become and also how in love lust with its state fair food I have become.  Last year I went to the fair six days before my wedding day and didn’t taste one single thing.  Not even a bite.  This was my version of healthy and it is pretty much how I chose to live every single day.

People can survive on cereal and celery right?  Wrong.  I was so selfishly wrong.  At that time, my future mother-in-law tried her absolute hardest to find me something to enjoy.  Researching every stand, looking up the nutrition content of a bowl of frozen yogurt with fruit.  Frozen yogurt with fruit.  Outside of the fair she went out of her way at dinner time [we were living in Nick’s parent’s basement at the time] to buy organic chicken, produce, and pretty much that whole section of the grocery store to make me smile.  And I still didn’t.

Food was my enemy.  Exercise was my medicine.  And somehow two of the most healthful things in life completely destroyed me.

One year and 17 pounds lost later, I walked into the fair having every intention to let my tastebuds explore.  It is natural for me to crave healthy foods so I was very thankful for salmon wraps and cold press.  I was also thankful for pork chops and lemonade and Sweet Martha’s Cookies, however.  Last year, I left the fair feeling hungry and tired and down right depressed with my life.  This year I am thankful for stretchy leggings and Mocha on a stick.  I’m laughing now because honestly, my life probably can’t get much sweeter than coffee on a stick.

Yesterday, we took Beretta to the park and walked the short mile loop by the river.  My body was feeling rather sore from my eight mile run the day before but it was also feeling malnourished.  I thought to myself, I have been resting my legs between runs and I have had my fair share of food lately, why do I feel like something is missing?  I sat on the grass, folded my legs, and took breaths.  I reminded myself what healthy feels like.  I thought about nutritious meals and shorter workouts.  I thought about routines.  I touched my belly, smaller than ever yet feeling embarrassed about some of the foods that I’ve given it.  Inevitably,  I looked at Nick and told him that it’s time to start fresh.  No more fair foods and no more long runs until I start giving my body what it needs.  Bless his heart.  He has dealt with more diets and more tears than I would ever like to admit yet somehow he has helped me dissect what being healthy really is and he has done so with more patience and support for every half a pound lost than I could ever ask for.  I smiled this time because instead of tears I was, in that moment, performing the very first act of living a healthy and balanced life.

  1. Listen to your body.  I sat cross-legged, one hand resting on my thigh, one hand  holding my sacred Starbucks coffee.  I felt my arms against my sides, my muscular legs against the earth.  It had just been one of those weeks where I hadn’t felt so hot about myself to begin with, but in the midst of things I was reminded that being sensitive and emotional can be a good thing.  What normally would have sent me into an anxious frenzy of restricting my calorie intake and exercising twice a day has left me with the ability to trust.  Trust myself to learn, to listen, to recognize what my body was trying to tell me and make adjustments when needed.  There I sat in my skin-clinging clothes, ones that show every curve my body reflects, and I listened.  Hearing what your body needs can be difficult.  Your emotions might be screaming for a run but your mind may need rest.  Your stomach might be growling for sugar but every part of you might need whole foods.  The trick is to listen, really listen, for what you need.  When we learn to listen we also learn to respond and with the right response comes results.
  2. Food is medicine.  Whether you’re fighting fatigue, searching for ways to boost your immune system, or recovering from an illness, doctors often recommend healthy lifestyle changes and most of the time this begins with nutrition.  Food is the ultimate healer and this is such an amazing claim that sometimes it’s hard to even believe.  Food is more than just what we crave and put into our bodies.  It is more than feeling nourished and energized.  It is how our skin looks.  It is how we feel both mentally and physically.  It effects our hormones and even more than that, every single system in our bodies.  From thousands of years ago to now, food is by far the most powerful and substantial part of life and I think this is something that is too often overlooked.
  3. Actions speak louder than words.  Understanding that you don’t need to run a marathon to be healthy can completely change your outlook on healthy living.  It starts with the decision to want to feel better.  Sure, we all want to look better and nothing will probably motivate a person more than actually seeing the results.  We need to recognize, however, that feeling better is just as powerful.   Let me ask you something.  If you decided to take the stairs instead of the elevator every day or park in the very back of the parking lot every where you went, would you necessarily look better after ten days?  Probably not.  You would probably begin to feel better, though.  Our society places such a high standard of what we should look like that people are willing to take drastic measures to get that way.  Health, true and vital health, comes with time.  It comes with making small decisions that will impact the bigger picture.  It comes with the act of doing and not seeing.  Again, if you walk one mile today it probably will not change the scale tomorrow.  It will, however, help you begin to feel better.  Instead of asking yourself how you want to look, focus on how you want to feel.

There you have it.  My three healthy living tips for the day.  Maybe this was more of a reminder for myself than anything.  Maybe this was me trying my absolute hardest to trust my heart and not my mind.  Which ever the case, I think it’s important to remember that there is always time to focus on our health because in essence, it is our state of health in this very moment that gives us life.

minnesota, yours and mine.

Minnesota.  The place I’ve called home for almost 26 years.  The land I’m loving more and more as each one of those years pass.  We’re not all just snow storms and lakesides up here (though I’m beginning to adore both of those things).  There is a sense of community and tradition and even more than that, a sense of family and feeling like you’re finally home. We are gifted with four seasons and matching cities and thousands of tiny towns in between.  Standing under city lights and deciding later that you’d rather journey towards a northern sky might be the most wonderful thing about this place.  And fair food, nothing beats the fair food. Minnesota, you are so incredibly dear to me.

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faith.

Today was wonderful.  So wonderful I should be thinking about every moment, every conversation, every smile that occurred.  I should be writing about standing on a paddle board and moving myself across a trio of lakes for the very first time in my life.  About the most beautiful brunch platter that my tastebuds have ever encountered; organic eggs with rice, bison sausages, light caramel coffee.  I should be telling you about how sitting in a sports bar with my favorite people in the world and discussing professional football players who’s names I can’t even pronounce for three hours might have been the best part of my week.  And I should be reminiscing on the last three days of my life, where the noon hours became warmer and the earlier sunsets turned sweeter because of the little hint of fall that I’m starting to feel.

Honestly, I should be doing all of these things.  But instead I’m sitting here, alone in my bedroom with the curtains closing off the only hour of light I have left this evening.  Would it be easier for me to post all of the adventurous photos from my weekend, cafe coffee’s and all?  Of course it would.  But right now my heart is just telling me to speak and to speak the truth.  Hiding behind photographs would only make my anxiety increase and I know this because I used to do it all the time.  I look back at those photos now, however, and I can visually see how terrible of a liar I really was.  Behind that smile rested fear; a fear that has found its way back to me tonight.

My word for this evening should probably be brave because bravery is what I seek.

I feel heat on my shoulders pressing me hard into my mattress, screaming that all of the pain in my body and mind have returned for good.  The tears in my eyes burn my paled cheeks even more so than the candle next to me.  Night trains blaring in the distance feel like my only way out of this gruesome nightmare.  I want to run but my body won’t move.  I want to disappear but my hands refuse to quit.  A moment passes.  I’m not ready to quit.

God has different plans for me.  I feel Him moving in me, pushing me.  I feel him whispering for me to just let go, to trust in Him.  I feel him living inside of me, the most desperate part of me.  I hear him saying to me, I’ve got you.  You are safe.  Breathe my child.  And as much as the tears keep sliding down I can feel him beginning to pick me up.

I have learned that when you say yes to God, He will provide you with everything you need when the unexpected starts to occur.  He will give you the greatest days and best people.  He will flower you with love and hope.  He will make you whole.  He will paddle you through city lakes and He will gift you with breakfast smack dab in the middle of Sunday traffic.  And then He will refill your empty heart, the one experiencing fear and worry and guilt, with infinite amounts of faith because that’s just what he does.

Anxiety is my demon and I want to be moved.  I am ready.
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writing your story.

This is a post for all of you that yearn to be free.  To run through fields with blissful momentum toward a setting sun and a rising moon filling your heart with freedom and grace.  Right now my loves, is the perfect time to chase your dreams.

It is the perfect time.

The common thing that we are all searching for, in essence, is happiness.  Chasing a dream, no matter how big or small, has taught me that while achieving your deepest desires, the key to happiness is having the ability to embrace each moment as it arises.  Each morning, each breath, the parts of your day that are both over consuming and perfectly still.  It is living well and making choices that reflect the person you are at the core.  Over looking the reactions of peers.  Soaring through any judgements.  Realizing that what is inside of you at this very moment is everything you need.

Two years ago, I met myself and I will be the first person to admit that any consistent practice with getting to know yourself is going to have hurdles.  Little moments, however, where you find yourself falling completely in love with your very own story are when you will begin to understand that no matter what happens in the pages to come will miraculously create a happy ending.

A lot of prayer and five jobs later, today marks my very fist day of working from home.  At least for a while anyways.  As I reflected on my evening last night, I realized that sometimes chasing your dreams make for the hardest good byes.  I keep laughing but I think it’s because I’m scared to death.  Scared of failure and scared of success.  Scared of never seeing those beautiful faces again but so in love with each of them.  It brought me rain showers and crying into the arms of my love.  Maybe rain brings growth and sunsets bring happiness though.  Maybe laughter and tears are the same thing.  Whatever the case, God is working and with open arms, I give thanks.

Living well starts with your soul.  It is consciously making an effort to understand who you are and what dreams rest within.  It is taking risks and it is scary and it is living one moment at a time and believing with your whole heart that they are all perfect.

And then it’s taking that person and those moments and doing everything you can to make them better.

I guess you could say I’m living my dream, or I’m on that path anyways.  Here’s to living and dreaming and being better.  But this post, it is for you.  The little darlings that continue to come back to these pages.  Take a deep breath, fill your soul with love, and go after your life with everything you’ve got.