Thursday, November 26, 2015

Three Sisters and a Happy Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving Friends!  

For those of you who do not live in the United States, you may be asking yourself, “What is this girl talking about?  What is Thanksgiving?!”

Thanksgiving is a tradition steeped in myth and legend and meant to be a celebration of the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving in 1621.  Legend has it that on this day, Native Americans and Pilgrims hunted and gathered and feasted together to celebrate the harvest season. Click here to learn more.

Many of the traditions we enjoy today were more than likely not even accessible to Native Americans or Pilgrims in 1621.  For example, potatoes and sweet potatoes had not made it to America yet (those are on every table at Thanksgiving today).

One thing that has kept tradition is the meaning behind the celebration; being thankful for all the abundance on the table, for friends and family, and for life in general. To me, it is important to bring back some of the history that may have been lost through the years.  Although not all the accounts of the 1621 Thanksgiving can be backed up with fact, we do know that the Native American tribes on the East Coast shared their land (and on some occasions their homes) to the foreign Pilgrims.  To respect and honor Native American culture, I have found a wonderful legend to share with you.  It is called the Legend of the Three Sisters.  Click here to read the Legend.  Then join me in making a Three Sister’s Stew this Thanksgiving!  Recipe below:  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Becoming an Acrobat

Hi friends!

I would like to share with you today a little story.  Recently, amongst the many hats I wear in a day, I noticed that I have not been taking as much time for myself as I should be.  Yes, I am still eating healthy and taking moments out of the day to get up and walk to get some tea; but I have not been practicing yoga as much I would like.

I know how good yoga (any physcial activity for that matter) makes me feel.  It makes me feel amazing!  After a good bout of exercise, I feel like I can do anything.  I love how I can progress and get stronger, more flexible, and more confident.  Yes, yoga makes me feel confident!!

If you have been following this blog for awhile, you may know that I love the Renaissance time period.
Me(on the right) with my best friend Kristin (from Entertainment Rant) at the Bristol Renaissance Faire.

I even attend a local Renaissance Faire every summer in Bristol, WI and my favorite act to see there is Barely Balanced.

Barely Balanced is a trio of acrobats who are absolutely amazing at what they do and add some great wit in their act as well.  Each time I watch them preform, I am inspired.  I get inspired to improve my own athletic performance and keep striving for greater achievements!

I am working on getting a good schedule down and possibly even breaking up my workouts into quick 20 minute sessions 2-3 times per day.  This way, I won't have an excuse of "not having time".  To be honest, I do have the time, I just get lazy...So, in addition to 25 days of blogging n December, I am going to be adding in one 15-20 minute yoga routine each week!  Each week will have a different focus whether it's strength, flexibility, meditation, etc. and I hope you will join me!

Please leave a comment below letting me know how you stay motivated to exercise when the days get shorter and colder!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Most Comforting Cuppa!

Hi friends!!

Just a quick post today.  Since I posted on Monday, my week has been a bit thrown off (which is why I am posting this one later than usual).  Either way, I am coming to you with a yummy recipe!!

Besides pumpkin, chai is another popular flavor blend this time of year.  More than likely, it is because the spices used in chai are very warm and comforting.  With it's blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and more, it is the perfect spice blend to add a bit of comfort to any recipe!
Comforting Chai Tea:  Serves 1-2

    • 2 tsp (or 2 bags) plain black tea
    • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
    • 1 cup water
    • 1-2 T sugar or maple syrup
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 1 tsp whole cloves
    • 1 pod star anise
    • ½ tsp cardamom
  • In a medium sized pot, pour in the milk and water.  Heat on medium and add the sugar.  Mix until dissolved.
  • Once the sugar is dissolved, add the spices and bring the whole mixture to a simmer.
  • When you can see tiny bubbles around the edge of the pot, turn off the heat and add in the tea.
  • Let the tea steep for 3-4 minutes.  Then, strain out the tea and spices and enjoy!!
    • Note: If you do not have all of these spices and do not feel like investing in them, feel free to just use cinnamon and cloves, or use pumpkin pie spice!  The more variety of spices you have, the better the result.
    • Second note: You can use this same spice blend in baked goods too! Simply drop all the spices in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind until powdery. Then, add 1-2 teaspoons of the mixture to your next batch of muffins, pancakes, or really anything you'd like!!

What is your favorite flavor during the holidays?! Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Holiday Party Survival Guide: 6 tips to maintain a health during the Holidays!

    Hi Friends!
    This time of year, there are loads of parties to attend (or at least there will be soon).  So, I compiled SIX of my top tips to help you maintain your health during the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holidays.
    Be sure to leave me a comment of the one thing you do to stay healthy this time of year!
  1. Get involved: If the party is at a friend’s house, ask the host if you can help out by bringing a dish to share.  More than likely, they will thank you because who would turn down help like that?!  Not only are you helping a friend, but you are also bringing a healthy dish for everyone to enjoy!  
  2. Come Prepared: Be sure to eat your normal meals throughout the day so you can make better choices while dining outside your own home.  It is much easier to skip the calorie dense dishes when you are not famished from starving yourself all day.  I see this way too often during Thanksgiving, where people will not eat anything all day just so they can stuff themselves at Thanksgiving dinner.  Not good on your digestion or waistline...
  3. Take a good look at the spread before diving in:  Enjoy all the sights and smells of the food.  Take your time to pick and choose which foods appeal to you most.  There is no reason you need to put a bit of everything on your plate just because it is tradition.  If you don’t like something, walk right past.  You should 100% feel good about the food you put on your plate and enjoy each bite you take!  Your body is worth it; and will thank you!
  4. Use the buddy system: Going out to a restaurant?  Share a meal or dessert with a friend.  This way, you are less likely to over eat and there is less food waste!  Everybody wins.
  5. Be mindful of seasonal drinks:  First of all, there is a healthy recipe to practically all holiday drinks out there:  Vegan Nog, Hot Chocolate, Peppermint Mocha, and more.  So, make your own if you have the opportunity.  If not, be aware that these drinks can pack a fat punch and are typically loaded with dairy.
  7. Fill your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables first to reduce cravings for the not-so-healthy options:  This one is a no brainer to me.  Fresh produce is the biggest nutritional bang for your buck.  When you fuel your body with these foods first, your cells are already so full and happy with nutrients, that they forget that craving for the third helping of stuffing or second...third...ok...fourth cookie!  Try this tip out and let me know how it goes!  People might think you are a little crazy at first, but who cares?  You are fueling your body with the healthiest foods.  Just because it is the Holidays, doesn’t mean your body needs to pay for it!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2 things very close to my heart!!

Hello there my beautiful friend!

I am going to share two topics that are very close to my heart.  Each one plays a very important role in my own life and I want to help you to understand why.  With the weather getting cooler, the leaves falling off trees, and mother nature preparing for her winter coat of snow, it is still very important to be outside.
Disclaimer:  this topic and resource was originally posted on Nutrition Stripped.  I found her post inspiring, so I read the article she posted about and am posting my own responses here.  Check out her original post to find out more.

Link to original article

From my own experience, getting outside on a daily basis helps me to keep my sleep rhythm in check, breathe some fresh air, and unwind from the oh-so-hectic days that fill this season.  Feeling the chilled air on my skin and forcing my body to acclimate also helps me to feel content no matter the temperature.

I've actually done a little unofficial experiment with my husband.  He really does not like the cold (to put it in a nice way...)  So, one day, I challenged him.  I asked him to leave the heat off in the car (unless it was needed to un-fog the windows), wear a lighter jacket, and just deal with the cold.  It may sound harsh and it can feel torturous at first, but after a few days of this, he noticed a difference!  He no longer felt as cold when he got out of his car to walk into work or home.  He could handle the wind tunnel by our condo better.  He even bought snow shoes for us to go hiking this winter!!!  That one was from left-field...I really did not see that one coming!!
 Now, in the article linked above, several studies were discussed.  Each one had found a health benefit ranging from reducing symptoms of ADHD to diabetes and helping substance addicts.  The one thing that all the studies had in common, though was the fact that people were going out into nature to play.  It makes so much sense to me that simply being in nature and enjoying the vastness of life can induce a sense of awe and happiness.  Read the article yourself, then take a walk in a local park.  Stop to look at the trees and the birds, feel the wind on your face and the sun on your back, breathe in the air, notice how you feel when you are surrounded by nature.  Breathe deep.  Try this on several occasions; maybe take your exercise or meditation outside (even if it is cold!).  Notice how you feel compared to when you do those same activities inside.  Then, leave a comment on this post to let me know your thoughts.

The second thing I wanted to share with you is a Chai Tea Recipe!!!  I love sipping this tea in the evening or while on nature walks.  All the earthy spices make me feel even more connected to Earth.  Make it ahead of time and bring it with on you nature outing!!

Chai tea recipe (serves 1 or 2):
2 tsp (or 2 bags) plain black tea
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup water
1-2 T sugar or maple syrup
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp whole cloves
1 pod star anise
½ tsp cardamom
If you do not have all of these spices and do not feel like investing in them, feel free to just use cinnamon and cloves, or use pumpkin pie spice!  The more variety of spices you have, the better the result.
  1. Place the almond milk and water in a small sauce pan and turn the heat on low.
  2. Add the sugar or maple syrup, stirring until dissolved.
  3. Add the spices and bring the mixture up to a light simmer.
  4. Once small bubbles have formed around the edge of the pan, add the tea and turn off the heat.  Let the tea brew for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Strain the tea and spices, pour into a thermos and you are ready to take on the world!
Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter to hang out with me every day!!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

World Vegan Day

Hi friends!

Did you know that today, November 1st, is World Vegan Day?!  How cool is that?!  This day also kicks off World Vegan Month (November).  What a great way to kick off the holiday season with some healthy plant-based meals.

I am going to just throw it out there and ask you all to take a one day vegan pledge.  For just one day during the month of November, find some delicious plant-based recipes or restaurants and dig in!  Feel free to make the pledge longer if you'd like, but all I am asking out of you is one day.  It is really simple, if you follow the guidelines I've listed below.  Also, check out a day's worth of meals you could have as well!

NOTE:  The meal plan I created below includes some vegan "junk" food so that a person who eats the Standard American Diet can still enjoy meat-like substitutes.  I do not eat this way, but that is because I enjoy the high-carbohydrate plant foods like beans, rice, fruits, and veggies and I understand these foods are not interesting to everyone.

5 tips to make plant-based eating easy:
  1. Plan ahead
  2. Use beans, rice, and potatoes as "fillers"
  3. Add mushrooms for that umami flavor
  4. Check labels (you'd be surprised what they put milk and eggs in!)
  5. Do it with a friend or family member!

Plant-Based Meal Plan:
Breakfast:  1/2 cup rolled oats, cooked, topped with pure maple syrup, sliced banana, and cinnamon
Lunch:  Vegan burger with lettuce, tomato, vegan mayo, ketchup, and mustard and an apple and potato chips on the side
Dinner:  Vegan chili (great recipe here!) with either vegan homemade corn bread or brown rice.
Snack ideas:  nuts, seeds, dried fruit, fresh fruit, veggies and hummus, vegan granola/granola bars

In just one day, you can save the life of an animal, save a ton of water, save some money, and do something great for your body!!  Remember, it is just one day.  Be sure to tag me @TheYogiRD on Instagram and Twitter so I can see all of you who are taking this pledge and even offer advice throughout the day, if you'd like!!

Ask questions and let me know how it goes in the comments below!!