Yesterday, my friends and I had a blast celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I made a shamrock shake to start the morning off on a festive note, then invited a few neighbors and a friend over for soda bread and a plant-based stew for dinner. It was hard to narrow down a movie to watch because they’re so many great Irish movies out there. We ended up watching Brooklyn with Saoirse Ronan and Banshees of Inisherin with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.
As far as eating healthy all day, that didn’t happen 🙂 We had a lot of sweets that evening that my neighbors brought over. I’ll get back on track tomorrow. Thankfully its another sunny day. I’m sure I’ll burn off lots of calories playing ball with my neighbor’s son like I promised. Well…I’m off to prep the veggies and fruit for platters that I’m making for a birthday party. I hope you enjoy the shamrock shake. It’s a twist off of a friends recipe for mint “nice cream.” Continue reading “Shamrock Shake – Day 40 of Challenge”→
I caved and baked cookies when I got home 🙂 So much for my diet today. I’m still learning how to navigate diet and exercise with having sweets every once and a while. The only solution I could come up with is to bake and give away most of what I make to my two neighbors with little ones.
By creating plant-base options for cookies, I found it eliminates a lot of the cholesterol that you may find in baked goods. I used Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer for this recipe and they still turned out chewy and delicious. You just have to be careful and not over bake them or else they get too crumbly and dry.
Now for a bit of tea, meditation, and reading a good book out on our rooftop garden (it’s finally sunny!). Tomorrow I plan on going hiking on my day off. Let’s hope the sun continues to shine.
It feels like forever since I’ve blogged. Work and other things got in the way last month. I’m happy to report that my Mediterranean challenge of eating plant based meals and living a more mindful life has paid off. First of all, my sleep is so much better at night. I think this is because I walk everywhere unless its snowing or there is ice. My house plants have survived the low-light of winter. I love gardening outdoors but it’s been fun to watch my plants grow in the home. Archie, my little emotional support kitty, is such a joy to come home to and wake up to. Pets are the best! The B-12 and multivitamin supplements my doctor recommenced has given me more energy. And weight loss has been going as planned. I lost 7 lbs so far. Overall, I’d recommend the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle once you run it by your doctor. It’s super easy to follow and there’s so many benefits.
I’ve been coming up with some new recipes and got two-thumbs-up from a few of my friends for my super easy vegetarian enchiladas. I combined fresh tortillas, cilantro-lime rice, jalapenos, kidney beans, and a non-dairy Mexican cheese blend from Violife with red enchilada sauce to make a fresh and healthy weeknight meal.
Wow, already Wednesday! I made a super quick and yummy dinner using leftover lemon rice and an Indian sauce that I’ve never tried before called Spicy Vindalo (by Maya Kaimal). I sauteed 2 roma tomatoes and 1/2 a yellow onion to add to the sauce (next time I’ll blend it after cooking). Then I just threw the ingredients for mint raita in my blender. Yum is all I can say! I love making a big pot of rice for the week because everything else comes together nicely when you don’t feel like cooking.
I had a therapy session today. It’s something that I’ve been doing once a week for almost a year this June. For those just tuning in on my blog, I was diagnosed with PTSD due to a life threatening surgery and stay in the ICU during the peak of the COVID pandemic. I know there is a stigma about PTSD, but I am living proof that if you work with doctors, (in my case surgeons too), and go to therapy, you can reduce your symptoms exponentially. 🙂
I had an amazing 50 min hike today. The weather was so nice and sunny this afternoon. So far, aside from 2 chocolate truffles a friend gave me today, I’m still on track with my goals. Continue reading for the Mint Raita recipe. Have a safe and cozy night!
Today, I woke up thinking this challenge was a mistake 🙂 I know I’m doing it for myself, but I really wanted to bake cookies when I got home this evening. As I pushed all of my plants by the window to get some sunlight for the day, played with little Archie, and made a smoothie this morning, I told myself that I got this. I know that once I lose the weight, it will be easy to maintain and that gets me through it.
I surpassed my steps today and enjoyed shopping with a neighbor early in the morning. She’s teaching her daughter how to cook and wanted to do something with pork. I gave her a great recipe from college for Greek Souvlaki that you can grill on a skewer. When she invited me for dinner, I couldn’t say no. Here’s the dilemma – how do you eat vegetarian only meals as a guest when meat is the main course?
I offered to bring the sides: a simple cucumber and tomato salad along with today’s recipe Greek Lemon Rice with Turmeric. I also added a little Violife feta to it and chopped herbs larger than I usually would so that her daughter could scoop it off if she didn’t like it. (She scooped them off 🙂 I got two thumbs up for the rice though. So, lesson learned. If you have a specific diet, find out what the host is making and offer to bring a side dish or two that complements the chef. Night everyone!
Today was the first day of my 90 day challenge. Was it a success? I think so. I went to bed little later than usual but got 5 hours of solid sleep. This is progress for someone that suffers from chronic insomnia. I think the melatonin helped. I’m excited to see if the challenge improves my sleep. Tonight, I plan on reading a book that I borrowed from my neighbor called House Plants for All by Danae Horst. The plants seem to do better if I push them directly under the windows when I am gone for the day. I know that might be a pain once I get more plants. For now, Archie loves watching me do it. It’s almost as if he is directing me of each plant placement by hovering over me 🙂 I think I need to get out more lol.
I clocked in 45 minutes of brisk walking and made sure to go up and down steep hills. It felt great not to be confined to a treadmill. I also walked to the grocery store. Editing my manuscript at night is going well. You always have your doubts but I was like that with my dissertation and I got extremely high marks. Why are we our worst critics? Anyways, this morning I made it a point to stand outside with a neighbor to wait with her kids at the bus stop. She’s had to deal with meanie moms. It gave us a chance to catch up and I can see why it’s so important not to isolate yourself as we had to do in COVID lock-down. Part of the Blue Zone theory is that one key to longevity is to socialize outside of work daily. So for me, it was a successful first day that didn’t take much effort. It was fun.
Now for my passion…food! This evening I made briam or briami. It’s Greece’s version of roasted vegetables including, but not limited to: tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, red onions, and parsley with lots of good-for-you olive oil. I like to pair it with my tzatziki and couscous, however, switched over to quinoa for the challenge. That will take some getting used to. I have a secret ingredient for braim so be sure to click read more for the recipe.
Happy Sunday! I hope you all are enjoying the weekend. Today is a big day for me fitness wise. My birthday is coming up and I wanted to give myself the gift of wellness. My manuscript is really coming along and I finally found the perfect pitch for my novel (its essential when querying agents). That being said, it will be a waiting game no doubt with a lot of rejection. So I knew I had to be at my healthiest. Previously working with the World Health Organization had its advantages. I worked on projects preventing non-communicable diseases (mainly heart disease and diabetes in villages throughout Fiji) I have an idea of what to do health wise to prevent myself from NCDs. After getting the okay from my doctor, I gave myself 90 days starting this Monday to loose 20 lbs. This would bring me back to the weight I was at 19 and a very healthy BMI. I had to promise to take my multivitamin with iron and B12 supplement, and check in with her religiously 🙂 She’s the best!
By sticking to the Mediterranean diet and incorporating what we know about Blue Zones where people live the longest in the world, I hope to document how this helped me loose weight and achieve happiness. As you may know, the Mediterranean diet consist of a proportionally high consumption of unprocessed grains, legumes, olive oil, fruits, and vegetables. And although the identified Blue Zones lack extensive scientific study, it made sense to me. Those that lived longest were close to family and friends, practiced mindfulness whether that was through meditation or therapeutic acts of gardening, walking (a lot!), eating primarily a plant-based diet, and getting plenty of rest.
My 90 Day Goals
Yesterday I had a trial run on my daily goals. On average, without hiking or going on a long walk, I walk about 5,500 steps. That means I need to take the stairs instead of the elevator (6 flights!) and go on about a 60 min brisk walk to meet my initial wellness goals. For gardening, I decided that my new hobby of houseplants would suffice. After all, houseplants have been proven to reduce stress, boost mood, and help purify air. Not to mention my little Archie loves being around nature and misses the outdoors. Speaking of Archie, I’ve been trying to talk to him on his level more – pet goals. Yesterday, I headed to Trader Joe’s to get another little plant to add to my new apartment. This leads me to food, my favorite part of my 90 Day challenge. I was with a friend yesterday so my plant-based meals had to be American food friendly 🙂 – protein packed plant-based smoothies, tacos, and pizza! Spending the day with someone I loved…check! I can already see how this 90 Day Challenge will be amazing. I just have to work on my sleep. My doctor recommended no caffeine after 2 😦 and a melatonin supplement. So there you have it. I’m off for a walk before it gets dark. Read more for yesterday’s recipes.
I just wanted to give you a peek into my weekend so that you can get better acquainted with me. I always start my days off from work with picking out a small bouquet of flowers. Last weekend, I found one with a cute little butterfly that hovers over the rose. As a granddaughter of a florist, I appreciate little details like this. It instantly brightens my day.
It snowed on Saturday morning, so I prepped a few photos for the blog. I have a 5 second rule with photos. I take everything from my phone, quickly crop and adjust lighting if need be, and that’s it. I spend maybe 10 minutes max per shoot. I’m sure it shows, however, I never intended my blog posts to take up a weekend. The photos are supposed to be fun and real.
Anyways…on to the recycling center nearby. I live in a brand new eco-friendly complex that’s super energy efficient. I think I pay about 30 US$ max on electricity per month. That being said, they really lack on a recycling center for glass and cardboard. No worries…my loyal friend and I braved the cold and recycled everything that I had collected, feeling good the second I returned home to a clean and organized pantry (another perk of this place is a huge walk in pantry that holds my recycling bins).
Next, over to Target to pick up new bedding. I’ve been saving for this amazingly soft and luxurious comforter set all month. It’s designed by Justina Blakeney, one of my favorite bloggers. You have to check out her fabulous blog! At Target, I went back and forth for a while on committing to a color palate, my friend waiting patiently by. In the end, I decided to go for the same golden yellow tone that I have in my bathroom. The rest of my place is modern and white so this just seemed right.
Back home, I treated my friend to a yummy Spanish meal that he deserved. Saturday night movies included one comedy, one action with plenty of snacks that I’m testing for a future blog post. At the end of the night, Archie (my little rescue cat) and I went to sleep in the softest bed you can imagine.
Sunday was a rest day. I’ll blog more about my new Sunday routine in a later post because it really helps with the anxiety of starting a new work week. I planted my new house plants, finding them a new home near a large window. At night, I finished off my weekend with reading the last chapters of “Cilka’s Journey” by Heather Morris. I plan to review it this week for you all.
The sun will set soon in the Pacific Northwest. Gotta go capture the view. It’s finally sunny today.
Yesterday morning, Archie, my little rescue cat, woke me up to see the snow falling outside. He was so sweet. It was beautiful and melted just in time to convince a loyal friend to brave the cold and join me on a trip to the recycling center. After feeling eco-friendly, we then headed off to Target to pick up a comforter set by my favorite designer and blogger Justina Blakenay. As a reward, I cooked a Spanish dinner that was easy to put together on a whim.
My version of Spanish beans and rice is inspired by the Spanish cuisine of incorporating soforitos (a base of garlic, onion, peppers, and tomatoes cooked in olive oil), herbs, paprika, spices, and legumes. I love this recipe for its versatility. You can add toppings like plant-based sour cream, cheddar cheese shreds and/or scallions. It really depends on your taste and what you have available.
Before I get to the recipe, I want to give a shout out to everyone that’s been viewing my post these past weeks. Thank you! It motivates me to keep posting and living a healthy and happy lifestyle. OK…Vamos! Lets get cooking. Continue reading “Spanish Rice and Beans”→
After last week, I realized how important family was. A beloved member of my godmother’s family suddenly passed away. She was an incredible teacher full of hugs, wisdom, and kindness. Being around my godmother’s family reminded me of what enduring love is.
As a writer, you often shut the world out to focus on your craft. I know too many incredible writers that do just that. I guess that’s why I developed this blog. After all, what’s the fun in cooking a meal if you can’t share it with a loved one, friend, or neighbor?
I went home after the service and made a large serving of my favorite pasta salad knowing I’d share it with my neighbor and her daughter. You can eat it warm or cold, add other veggies that you prefer such as zucchini or bell peppers, and its mild enough for even little ones to love (just leave out the onions and garlic). Choose the pasta you like gluten free or plain. And you can make it dairy-free now that we have feta and Parmesan options through brands like Violife. You just have to try different brands available to you until you find the ones you love.
Remember to be kind to yourself, especially when grieving the loss of someone you admire and love. Listen to calming music and make a dish that you can share with someone so you don’t feel alone. I hope this recipe inspires you to eat healthy both mind, body, and soul. Continue reading “Greek Plant Based Pasta Salad”→