Mocha Berry Smoothie

I have been a smoothie fanatic these past couple of weeks. The mixture of the blazing hot weather and the fact that I can take breakfast on my way to work, has definitely added to the appeal of smoothies. I usually make 3-4 each week, and try to vary the flavors a little bit each day. My regular rotation of flavors include: bananas, peanut butter, cocoa powder, and coffee. If I want something a little heartier, I will also throw in some oatmeal or spinach. Every once and a while I will try a new combination. Sometimes it’s not a combination I would ever replicate: banana chocolate coffee-I thought it sounded good, but it wasn’t! And occasionally it is delicious enough to make again and again. Until I realize that I really should blog about my success! Today’s flavor is Mocha (blue)Berry, and it is perfect as a fruity treat with a little caffeine kick!

  

 

Coffee is becoming more of a smoothie staple as I become addicted to caffeine (I blame the K cup machine in the office), but I rarely want to sit down and drink a cup of coffee. I usually workout in the mornings, and freshly brewed coffee does not help me cool down and stop sweating enough to put on make up. However, I have gotten in the habit of turning off the warmer and letting the java cool while I work out and shower. When I am ready to make my smoothie before heading out the door, the coffee is room temperature and great as a smoothie addition. Obviously if I had an espresso machine I would use it in a heartbeat, but coffee is working just fine for now! I actually got the idea for this flavor combination from a coworker who ordered a raspberry mocha from Starbucks (on the sad sad day that the K cup machine broke). I sampled his drink and was surprised how well the coffee and berries blended.

Mocha Berry Smoothie

makes 16 oz

3/4 cup cooled coffee

3/4 cup almond milk

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 scoop protein powder

Pour the liquids and blueberries into the blender. Top with protein powder and blend until smooth!

***No camera yet, so Flickr pictures will have to suffice for a while!

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Striking a Balance

Happy Monday!

It feels like forever since I last posted on the blog!

I am alive and well; life has just been so crazy. I am still figuring out this whole work-life balance thing. I haven’t talked much about work on the blog, but I am getting to a place where I am enjoying most of everyday. The office is quite young (I would say the median age is in the late 20s) and everyone is energetic and lots of fun. We eat lunch together, have happy hours, and forward funny videos. I especially appreciate that everyone seems to genuinely enjoy the work, and just generally has a great attitude about the job. I loved being able to take my first business trip last week. It was totally unexpected (my boss asked me on Monday if I wanted to leave Tuesday night) and I jumped at the opportunity to actually meet clients in person. However, I didn’t return home until 10:30 on Wednesday evening, and then had to go to work in the morning as usual! My job is not a 9-5 deal, and I feel a little pressured to get in early and stay late. Thankfully, I am getting to a place where I feel pretty competent and am actually enjoying (most of) what I do, so the hours spent at work aren’t too painful.

The biggest downside about spending lots of time at work is that it cuts into my friend-making time. For the first time in my life, I do not have a built in friend group from just being in school. It has been an adjustment trying to seek out people with common interests and trying to be their friend, without appearing too desperate. I do have a few friends/acquaintances in Charlotte, as does my roommate, and between the two of us we almost have even people to form a friend group lol. In addition to meeting people through mutual friends, I am attending a church and its associated young adult group. I am thinking about maybe joining a gym/yoga studio, but I might have to wait for a Groupon 🙂 I am looking forward to relying on a solid group of people that I can call if I find an interesting event to attend, or just want someone to hang out with on a weekend.

All this friend searching has caused me to choose socializing over sleep in the short run, in hopes of building friendships for when I am not so tired. I don’t know if that makes sense, but basically I find myself going out with people when all I want to do is sleep. However, thus far Friday nights have been reserved for 10-12 hours of glorious sleep.

Okay, so I realize that this may not appear as a “healthy living” post at first glance, but I do think that having friends, a fulfilling job, and adequate sleep are all important in living healthy…so that’s how I am going to justify it 😉

Side note: My camera refuses to work and claims there is  a “lens error” whenever I turn it on! I am going to try and borrow my roommates camera for the next couple of weeks, until I cave and buy a new camera. Also the track ball inside my BlackBerry decided now was a great time to loosen and randomly fall out of my phone…so a new phone is probably in my near future.

Workout to Work Ponytails

Today I am blogging from a hotel room on my first business trip!! I am so excited to get out of the office for a couple of days and meet some clients 🙂

As I transition into the working world, I am realizing how important those extra minutes of sleep can be on the week days. In college, I could stay up late or get up early, and then take a nap or realize after classes. However, at work I need to be well rested and alert all day long.

Exercising in the mornings has definitely helped me wake up in the mornings and gets me going before heading to work. I love feeling like I have already accomplished something before 8! One downisde is that I have to be very efficient in showering and getting ready in order to maximize my sleep time. I do the normal things like prepare my lunch, pick out clothes, and pack my bag. But the biggest time saver for me is putting my hair in a ponytail or bun. This way I don’t have to bother with drying, straightening/curling, or hair spraying in the morning. These are my three favorites:

All of these styles work great with wet hair, and can be done in minutes! I think they look better with longer hair, but I can still get my shoulder-length locks into presentable ponytails. My sister, Claire, graciously let me use her long hair for demonstration purposes. This is my first hair related post, so if anything is unclear please please let me know 🙂

1. Twist: Pull hair into side part. Grab a section close to the center, and start twisting away from face. Incorporate sections of hair as you twist.

Then use a bobby pin to pin the end of twist to secure it behind the ear.

Pull your hair into a ponytail as normal.

2. French Braid: Pull hair back without a part and french braid down the middle of your head.

Braid until you reach the nape of the neck.

Secure the ponytail with an elastic.

3. Fish Tail: Make a low, loose ponytail and create a separation in the middle.

Flip the ponytail inside the separation toward your head and pull through.

Tighten the ponytail to hide the hair tie.

Any other tips to get out the door in the mornings?

Kiwi Lime Quinoa Salad

I got the idea for putting Kiwi in a quinoa salad from Iowa Girl Eats. I love sweet juicy kiwis, and I think they pair well with lime and banana. The tartness and sweetness of the lime and the fruit balance each other out for a light, summery dish. The bright greens also make for a very attractive dish.

Kiwi Lime Quinoa Salad

serves 2

Ingredients

2 cups quinoa, cooked and chilled

2 kiwis

1 banana

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

dressing

2 Tbsp lime juice

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions: Peel and dice the banana and kiwis (I used a potato peeler for the kiwi). Combine with the bell pepper and quinoa. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing over the quinoa mixture and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Giveaways and Sunday Brunch

I meant to share this earlier, but congratulations to Ericke for winning the Slow Cooker Giveaway!

SlimKicker has contacted you for your address 🙂

Also, I am so excited to have won Taylor’s PB Crave giveaway this week as well!


I have heard a lot of great things about their products, and I can’t wait to try it!

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This weekend, I drove back to Raleigh to spend time with the family for a couple days. One of my grandmas was also visiting this week, so I got to see her as well.

One of the best things about having my grandma over is eating her delicious food. [side note: she was so impressed that I knew how to cook bitter melon]. However on Sunday, my mom took over the cooking for a Mexican/Colombian/American brunch.

Chorizo, a mexican sausage, scrambled with eggs

Arepas, a Colombian cornmeal patty, stuffed with shredded mozzarella.

Southern cheese grits

and lots of pancakes! I decided to opt out of the pancakes, since I have been eating them all week in order to test my vegan pancake recipe.

Any exciting weekend eats?

Vegan Pancakes

I am a huge breakfast person. I love pretty much every possible breakfast food, and will eat breakfast foods at any time. Of course, my favorite is definitely oatmeal (I actually brought some overnight oats for lunch yesterday), but pancakes take a close second.

Well, technically pancakes are tied for second with eggs and bacon. The competition is rather fierce.

Regardless, I have been on a serious pancake kick this week. In five days, I have made pancakes four times. With all of this experience, I have crafted my favorite vegan pancake recipe. They are vegan mostly because I have run out of eggs and am procrastinating grocery shopping (thus why I made oatmeal for lunch).

I decided to use all whole wheat flour for this recipe (instead of half and half with white flour), and the pancakes are still light and fluffy! But if you are not a fan of heartier pancakes, I would use a blend of white and wheat flours. I am weird and top my pancakes with heaps of applesauce and greek yogurt, drizzled with maple syrup; which should explain the pictures.

Vegan Pancakes

makes 4 pancakes

2/3 cup whole wheat flour

1 T baking soda

1/8 t salt

1 packet stevia

2/3 cup+ 2 T almond milk

1 T coconut oil, melted

Directions: Mix and sift the dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together the milk and oil, and pour onto the dry. Stir until just combined. Heat and lightly oil a large frying pan. Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan. Cook until brown on both sides and serve warm.

Half Marathon Training

Since I am currently four weeks into my (first) half marathon training, I thought it would be a good time to check in and talk about how it is going so far.

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Currently, I complete most of my workouts in the morning before work, with the exception of my long runs which I do on Sunday afternoons. So far I have been staying inside in the gym for pretty much all the runs.

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It’s funny because I used to hate running on the treadmill and could never motivate myself to stay on for very long, but over the past couple of months I have really grown to appreciate it as a training tool. Manipulating the speed on the treadmill is a helpful to help me increase my pace and to become more aware of my speed in general. Running in the gym is also very convenient. I don’t have to worry about the weather, water, my keys, or getting lost.

Despite the benefits of being indoors, I do miss running outside.

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The treadmill can make me feel like a hamster, going nowhere fast. I often have to watch Sports Center for at least 30 minutes, which gets old really fast because the show seems to be on a ten minute loop. When I am outdoors, the changing scenery keeps me interested and hills challenge my heart and lungs. The main reason I don’t run outside now is that I am still finding my way around the area, and have gotten lost every time I run in neighborhoods.

I really need a GPS attached to my wrist! I usually see a cool road or place I want to explore, so I decide to go down the road “just a little ways” and end up running rather far away. Instead of retracing my path, I reason that there must be a quicker route back to the main road and then with only a few turns, I am totally unsure of my current location and have to ask for directions from someone sleepily picking up their newspaper from the driveways.

This week I am going to resist the urge to explore and stay on my predetermined path in hopes of getting some solid running time outside.

I hope you all enjoy all the random images 🙂 I rediscovered pinterest last night and went a little crazy.

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