Finding My Flow

9/13/2013 Update:

I took about a year off from blogging to give myself more time to enjoy life. After a while I missed writing and sharing through a blog, so I am back at it with my soon – to- be husband on our site livingez.us. I am still blogging about fitness and healthy living (no recipes yet, but surely some to come in the future), along with sharing our love and life in Charlotte, NC.

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Happy Friday!

On Tuesday night I went to a great yoga class at Dharma Lounge in south end Charlotte (Maybe it’s not in south end…I still haven’t mastered all the neighborhoods in Charlotte).

Regularly going to yoga is something I have been meaning to establish in my routine. Kath and I used to be regulars at a morning yoga class while we were at school, and I loved the combination of stretching, toning, and breathing exercises.  However, in the evenings I get home from work and just want to relax.

I forgot how relaxing yoga can be.

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I left the class totally refreshed and calm. Also my arms felt like jello.

It was a vinyasa flow class which means that we cycled through several basic poses. The instructor added poses at certain points and paused to deepen the stretch at others. Vinyasa is known for being more of a “fitnessy” type of yoga because of the speed at which you go through the movements (you also do approximately 3,555 tricep push ups).

Here is a lame 90s infographic that I found online that was the best demonstration of a Vinyasa flow. Unfortunately the colored penciled illustration of a girl in a blue unitard does not do justice to the amazing feeling of really getting into the flow.

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I loved feeling the movement through my body, and being able to focus on my breathing. It also provided an opportunity for me to clear my mind for the first time in a while. I love being busy and going from one activity to the next, but sometimes it is great just be still and not think about anything.

Of course, there were times during the class when my arms were on fire. Or moments I did not think I could hold a pose for one more second. But it all added up to  a great way to relax and revive myself-I am looking forward to next week already 🙂

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Spinach Berry Salad with Curry Dressing

Tuesday night I attended an amazing yoga class (more on that tomorrow). I didn’t have too much time beforehand to eat a real dinner, so I left the class rejuvenated…and hungry! I was craving something light but flavorful, and remembered a recipe I found online a couple weeks ago but had never tried. Luckily my weekly farmer’s market visit’s ensured that I had all the ingredients.

 

I followed this recipe more or less, and was happy with the result. It yielded a dynamic and fresh salad. I liked the contrast between the lightness and sweetness of the berries with the deeper flavors of the curry dressing.

 

 

Today I am on the road again for client meetings. I am still so very sore from yoga, therefore  the goal of today is to not look like an eighty year old as I walk around. I think I will be okay as long as  I don’t need to kneel beside someone or have to reach for something high on a shelf.  🙂

Heirloom Tomatoes

Shopping at the farmer’s market has become part of my Saturday morning routine. I love selecting fresh, local fruits and vegetables. I enjoy the open air environment and getting to speak with the vendors, who are consistently more friendly and knowledgeable than the people who work in the produce section of grocery stores. I often talk to the vendors and ask them to select ripe fruits for me, or generally teach me more about food. I am always up for trying something new, and even the weirdest looking vegetables don’t scare me away.

So when I noticed heirloom tomatoes in many stands, I could not help but be curious.

At first I brushed them off, because let’s be honest-they are so ugly! The skin is cracked and discolored, and the fruits are often weirdly shaped-almost monstrous. None of the fruits boasted the perfect rounded shaped or bright red color that I associate with ripe tomatoes.

However one morning, as I was picking through some green beans, I heard one lady say to her companion, “Have you ever tried a heirloom tomato? These are the best tasting tomatoes you will ever eat!” This assertion caught my attention, but I did not take the leap of faith and buy any heirlooms that day.

A couple weeks later, I had the chance to talk with a very enthusiastic tomato grower at the farmer’s market about heirloom tomatoes. He explained that heirloom tomatoes are not hybrid breed like the commercial varieties in stores. Hybrid tomatoes are bred for disease resistance, greater number of fruit per plant, shape, size, color, and longer shelf life. The seeds are not able to produce progeny with their same traits, so growers have to buy new seeds each year.

In contrast, heirloom tomatoes are open pollinated; therefore the collected seeds are able to bear fruits which resemble those of the parent plant. These plants have greater genetic variation than the hybrid plants, and also lack the gene that provides the red color. Scientists recently speculated that this gene may be associated with lower sugar levels, which could cause store bought tomatoes to be less flavorful (see NY Times article below).

The vendor went on to say that, “Heirloom tomatoes today include the same varieties that Thomas Jefferson grew in his garden;” that statement stuck with me more than anything else he said. These tomatoes are like antiques (thus the name heirlooms); seeds that are passed down for generations. And while a lot of the genetic and biology stuff went over my head, I can appreciate tomatoes with great taste over perfectly shaped red spheres.

If you are interested:

http://aob.oxfordjournals.org/content/100/5/1085.full (This one is science-y, but very informative)

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/science/flavor-is-the-price-of-tomatoes-scarlet-hue-geneticists-say.html?_r=1

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jun/30/science/la-sci-tomato-taste-20120630

New Camera Fun!

I got my new camera (Canon Rebel XT) in the mail on Thursday, and since then I have been wearing it around like a necklace! I just can’t get over how amazingly clear and focused all the pictures are, and how much I have to learn!

I have been dreaming about buying a DSRL for quite some time now, I just did not want to drop the several hundred dollars necessary to purchase one. However, when my old camera suddenly died on me a couple of weeks ago, I just could not survive without a decent camera. At first I thought about getting buy for a few more pay checks with a cheapo point and shoot, but once I went to amazon and saw the DSRL’s I could buy for only one hundred more…yeah, it was over.

I bought my camera used from amazon, and have not regretted it thus far. Yes, the camera body is a little scratched (which was noted on the description), and it is not the newest model, nor does it have all the high tech features. But it is a huge upgrade from my canon powershot (a camera that I absolutely loved, and will probably buy again just to have the convenience of a point and shoot), and the price was reasonable for my budget.

While I love making healthy meals, and the community and friends I have gained from blogging, I think the biggest enjoyment I get from the whole process is the photography. I love taking pictures of food! I think it is so much fun to manipulate the food, lighting, and accessories to produce a picture that is good enough to eat.

Shooting in manual mode is a lesson in patience and trial and error right now. I definitely still have a looonng way to go in improving my pictures, but I can also tell such a big difference from where I began only a few months ago.

Here are some of my favorites from this weekend:

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Recent Finds and Faves

I wanted to take a post and share several little things that have been keeping me happy and healthy over the past few days. I didn’t think each one on its own could constitute a post (especially not without a decent camera), but I did want to share.

Indian Spiced Cauliflower– I saw this recipe from Everyday Maven featured on Food Stories Blog. I love roasted cauliflower and curry, so I knew it would be a favorite. I was not disappointed!! It basically constituted half of my dinner last night.

PB Crave– I won Taylor’s giveaway, and was so excited to get three flavors of PB Crave in the mail a couple days ago. I love it way more than I ever thought I would!! All the flavors are  great, without any artificial ingredients or sweeteners. My favorite flavor is the Razzle Dazzle-a raspberry white chocolate blend. Sadly, Im almost out!


Bread Pudding- I used the last hunk of my homemade wheat bread to serve as the base of this bread pudding. Bread pudding was my second  favorite dessert at the dining hall in college (I think I was the only person who ever ate it), the first being the frozen yogurt machine. When I noticed my bread getting stale, I just knew what I wanted to bake. While my version was not nearly as sweet, it still turned out pretty good. I was afraid the bread would be too dense to soak up the coconut milk and egg mixture, but it was fine. I also wanted an excuse to use these cute rose ramekins that I bought 😉

Tazo Green Tea– This weekend I realized how addicted I am to coffee; I rarely make coffee at home, but I gave into the headaches and make a pot on both Saturday and Sunday. I hate to be dependent on anything (I’m kind of a control freak), so I decided to cut it out this week. I’ll admit that Monday was really tough, and I felt like a zombie all day. It took all my will power not to go to bed at 8pm. However, each day has gotten a little better! I do allow myself one cup of tea each day, and this Zen tea by Tazo is one of my favorites. In contrast to other green teas, I find that these tea does not become bitter, even if I steep the bag for…all afternoon (I pretty much never take out my tea bags before I finish drinking tea-thus, the bitterness). I also like the mint and lemongrass flavors, which make it lighter as well.

Anything making you happier and healthier this week?

Pina Colada Smoothie

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I have another great smoothie recipe to share with you all today! It combines two of my favorite tropical fruits: pineapple and coconut. The pineapple provides lots of natural sweetness, and the coconut milk adds a thick, creamy texture. Think of it as a virgin pina colada…. with protein powder.

This is a more high-calorie smoothies than I usually featured, and would not be helpful for those of you looking to lose some weight. The coconut milk contains a lot of fat (which is why it is soo delicious). If you want to slim this recipe down a little bit, substituting coconut water for the milk would still provide a subtle coconut flavor without all the calories. Coconut water is a great source of hydration, and is packed with potassium. However, I personally do not love the taste and somewhat slimy quality of coconut water. I will be sticking with my fatty coconut smoothie or nothing at all 😉

Pina Colada Smoothie

1/4 cup coconut milk

3/4 cup water

1 banana, frozen

1/4 cup cubed pineapple, frozen

1 scoop protein powder

Add the liquids and then the solids to a blend. Blend until smooth.

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***In case you were desperately wondering when my camera will arrive as much as I am (which I’m guessing no one is), it officially left Miami yesterday at 6pm. I will be continually refreshing USPS in search of its latest location!

Hiking Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Due to camera issues, I never got around to posting pictures of the little trip that Perry and I took to the NC mountains last weekend. While I generally consider myself more of a beach person, hiking in the mountains was a great experience as well.

We decided to go along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and found some awesome hiking trails off of the highway.

 Waterrock Knob was our first hike. The trail was paved most of the way, but the hike up the knob was a bit strenuous. It felt like we climbed stairs continually for most of the journey; Perry and I both gasped for air at the top of the ledge. We also found a little side trail that followed the high way for about one mile, and enjoyed exploring. The views were incredible!

I loved that the weather was almost ten degrees cooler up there, even though we were only a couple of hours away!

The second place we hiked (and swam at) was Graveyard Fields. We did not have time to make it to the Upper Falls, but the Lower Falls were only .3 miles down the trail. Perry convinced me to jump the pool at the base of the falls. The water was freezing, and I was hesitant at first. But after my legs and feet went numb, swimming around wasn’t too bad ;). Graveyard Fields also has tons of wild blueberry bushes. Lots of people were picking the berries, so Perry and I picked and ate our fill!

Unfortunately, before this hike is when I realized that my camera was no longer working. However, I did get a great last shot.

 

My resolve to wait to buy a camera lasted about 5 days. On Friday I ordered one online; now I am obsessively checking my email to see when it’s going to be shipped!!

In other technology-hates-me news: my headphones broke a couple of days ago, and I used them almost exclusively for running. I decided to get a pair of running head phones in hopes of having something that will stay in my ear better than my old ear buds. I bought this pair from Sony.

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I’ll let you all know how they work out in my next couple runs!