7 Things I Simply Can’t Live Without.

IMG_4707After a recent road trip up the coast with limited space and 10 days to pack for, I was forced to really appreciate what it is I can live with, and without.

Not surprising, there’s not that many things that are absolutes. I can totally relate to the whole minimalism concept (particularly when I venture into my over-crowded purse) but I have to admit I’m a chronic over-packer.  I hate the idea of missing something, so I bring everything.  Not surprisingly, I use very little of what I bring (which drives my husband nuts).  Will this ever change?  I don’t think so.

But just for fun, I thought I’d share the few things that never a day goes by where I don’t love, eat or admire every one of them.

  • Dry Shampoo – I have a cow lick (what a crazy stupid term) in the back of my head that needs taming every day. I also have long, high maintenance hair that ends up pulled back to some degree or another and a little dry shampoo can stave off a wash for a good 4 days. Love this stuff.
  • Quest bars – because they are low carb, high protein and totally awesome tasting. This is the best protein experience of my life (next to ProCakes of course). I also adore the founder and kinda stalk her on social media. She keeps me motivated to grow my business and stay focused.
  • Lululemon Cropped Yoga Pants – I live in these pants. I mean, I seriously wear very little else other than stretchy yoga pants every day. Fortunately here in California, I can get away with the cropped ones pretty much year round. To me, the greatest success in my life is that I can wear these everyday. I hope that never changes. They also make my butt look great, so there’s that.

lululemon crop pants

  • My Laptop – it goes everywhere with me. It’s my business portal, my social outlet, and my connection to the greater world. Google has been my biggest teacher.  Seriously, there’s nothing Mr Google doesn’t know. My laptop is also my creative medium. I write, edit images, record podcasts and brand my business all on this little Macbook Air. Amazing.
  • Gel Manicures – I used to have those long acrylic nails. I wore them more because my own nails were so weak then because I liked the way they looked. They always looked great for the first week, then downhill from there. Now I get gel manicures which don’t destroy your nail beds, but still provide enough strength and coverage, that it keeps them strong and looking great for weeks.
  • Nut butter – Any kind is good, but man I happen to love me some macadamia nut butter. I always make my own now as I’ve become such a snob about what goes into it. Most store brands are loaded with sugar and palm oil. Thumbs down on both! I make mine with vanilla extract, a little honey and loads of flax and chia seeds. Oh, and I don’t eat it as a spread, I eat it as a snack, on a spoon and I can blow through a whole jar dangerously quick.

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  • Mac Lipstick – I am cheap, so I will divert to drugstore brands now and again and I’m always disappointed. Yes, Mac lipstick is expensive, but it lasts, it looks great and I heart it. I’m typically wearing a fully made up face of makeup when I go out (to offset the stretchy pants), but I find that even just a big pair of dark sunglasses and my Viva Glam II and my face looks ready for public consumption (my hair is another story).

mac lipstick and glasses

These are the things I don’t leave on a trip without. Everything else, I can live without.

What about you? What are your top essentials when traveling or otherwise? I’m always curious to know what things people value most.

Much love to Amanda at Running With Spoons for hosting Thinking Out Loud.  

Superfood Cashew, Almond & Peanut Butter Recipe

Superfood nut butter, almond, cashew , peanut, chia, flax
 I’ve become a certified nut butter snob. I blame this girl for setting the bar so damn high on what a peanut butter SHOULD taste like. Now Trader Joes brand sadly disappoints me. It’s true of most things… once you go awesome, you can never go back, and nut butter is no exception.

So, I’ve been making my own lately. Trader Joe’s has an enormous assortment of bagged nuts, so I just grab whatever and make magic with my food processor.

I’ve blogged about the macadamia nut butter that’s almost better than wine and chocolate (almost), but today I’ve got another blend that might actually exceed by love for wine and chocolate. This would be a hard pair to beat. They are my go tos when someone asks me what three things I’d would want to have with me if I were stranded on a desert island. That third thing would be yoga pants btw. If I’m going to be stranded and possibly tipsy from all the wine, I’ll probably want to be comfortable too.

I digress….

Superfood nut butter, vegan, east, chia seeds and flax

Today I made a cashew, almond peanut butter blend that was pretty mind blowing if I must say so myself (and I’ll have to since no one else has tried it yet). I just tossed a bunch of nuts in the blender, including the last remains of my last jar of sad Trader Joe’s peanut butter. I added a few things to jazz up the flavor, and low and behold, I might have to give up my yoga pants so this could be the third thing I bring on my stranded island adventure. I mean, nobody really NEEDS pants to be happy. Nut butter, wine and chocolate? Without question.

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Fitness Instagrammers I’m Loving Right Now

I posted this over on my ProCakes blog, but I wanted to share it here too, as I love sharing inspiring peeps that are doing good things on the “internets”.

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If you’re not on Instagram yet, then you’re missing out on the Facebook experience of about 5 years ago, before it got all spammy and weird.

I love Instagram, both as a mindless escape and also as a great way to follow influencers and tastemakers and really get a visual feeling of who they are. For ProCakes, Instagram is a great way to post recipe ideas, fun quotes and behind-the-scenes images of the not-so-glamorous life of running a food biz.

It’s also great for fitness inspiration. When I see people I can relate to getting their sweat on at the gym or heading out for a run – it makes me want to do the same. I’m not talking about the glute and bicep selfies in the gym mirror pictures (I’m kinda over those), but the ones that make me say to myself – time to get my sweat on too.

So here’s a short list of who does that for me.  Who are you following?  I’m always looking for new people to follow, so feel free to share your handle in the comments and I’ll look you up!

My top 9 Instagrammers for Fitness Motivation

Shonda1020 

With over 1.2 million viewers, she’s not exactly a best kept secret, but she’s got some great workout videos, fit food inspiration and I love that she’s a mom in her upper 30’s.

Lindsay Cotter

She has a way of making fitness look fun and doable. Hmm….maybe is all those pictures of wine sprinkled throughout all those healthy food shots :) If she loves wine,  I love her.

Nicole Wilkins

Not only is she a 4 time Figure Olympian athlete, she’s also incredibly humble and giving. Nicole is an inspiration because of her dedication to her sport, and her fans. A true #girlhero if I’ve ever seen one.

Neghar Fonooni

If you long for beach and waves, then look no further. Neghar’s profile fuses fitness with sand and sun. She also has the cutest Bulldog and the most elaborate collection of awesome yoga crops I’ve ever seen. Very jealy.

Bee Inspired Yoga

Hands down she’s got the coolest yoga moves (and again an enviable collection of yoga tights).

Skinny Runner

Long gone are the days when this gem used to blog. Her dry sense of humor and crazy marathon habit made her a cut above the fray. Now we only get to see her on Instagram and Facebook, but she’s still well worth the follow. We miss her blog terribly tho :(

Stephanie Keenan

A Nuclear engineer turned fitness guru. There’s a story there for sure. She’s got a great smile, a healthy attitude towards fitness, and the cutest lab retriever. WARNING: She’ll make you want to take up paddle boarding!

Jill Fit

Fitness meets mindset right here. Jill knows her reps and sets, but she’s more focused on how mindset and behaviors impact our ability to stay lean and active. Follower her for sound advice on how to get your mind right about being healthy.

Tuna Melts My Heart

Okay, not exactly a fitness inspired account, but Tuna is good for for the heart in a different way. Follow this handsome peanut just because he’s adorable. That is all.

Who do you love to follow on Instagram?  Share your favorites below and also your own Instagram handle if you have one!  I’m always looking for new peeps to follow!

Sugar Free Pumpkin Butter Recipe

sugar free pumpkin butter, paleo, vegan

Okay, it’s pumpkin season, I give.

In the midst of everyone else in the blogesphere doing all things pumpkin, I’m a little reluctant to join. Typically I prefer to zig while ya’ll are zagging, but I had to make pumpkin ProCakes for a photo shoot and it was a really big can of pumpkin puree that I opened, so I had to do something.

Actually, other than my protein pancakes, I have no idea what you would eat with pumpkin butter. Would you put it on toast? Besides the fact that I don’t actually eat toast anymore, I think it would just make the bread soggy.

And yet, everyone makes it.

Can someone enlighten me on how to consume this stuff outside of pancakes or just straight up with a spoon?

Anyway, regardless of it’s limited accompaniments, it’s actually really good. Very dessert like without the guilt.

In Other Big News….

I thought you might like to know that the lovely Diatta over at Femme Fitale Fit Club is hosting a wee giveaway staring ProCakes! There’s a few more days to enter, so giddy up – especially if you’re going to make this pumpkin butter.  They belong together.

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I’m linking up to a new recipe par-tay today.  Check out Tasty Tuesday for more nom nomables.

Cheesy Kale Nacho Salad Recipe

Cheesy nacho kale salad, healthy, paleo, veganCheesy Nacho Kale Salad

You will LOVE this. It really does taste like your eating a gooey plate of nachos minus the amazing crunchy texture which I’ll be honest, is not replicable in a salad (sorry guys).

But you’ll love it nonetheless and it’s super easy.

I can’t take full credit for this clever idea. Lori Harder was the first to bring the cheesy nacho flavor into my world, but she did so with a kale chip. Feel free to take that route if it floats your boat. I never seem to get them right, so I’m just sticking with what I know I can’t screw up.

Do what works for you.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:2] Cheesy Nacho Kale Salad Recipe

WIAW – Could you live unprocessed for a month?

HEALTHY ROAD TRIP SNACKS

During the month of October, Eating Rules hosts an “eating unprocessed” challenge. For one month, participants are to eat nothing that they couldn’t make from scratch in their own kitchen. So, pretty much all packaged food is out.

Think about that for a minute. How would that impact your life if you were to do this? It would pretty much wipe out all dairy (unless you’ve got a cow near by), all protein powders in my case (#idie), and most sauces or anything else that lives in the pantry or on the shelf door of the fridge would immediately go away.

So what would you eat?

In my own world, it would be easier to do now, then it would be in the past, but there would still be some tweaks.

Breakfast

I still have milk in my coffee every morning even though it’s processed and I know it doesn’t completely agree with me. But it’s just one cup, then I switch to Yerba Mate with Almond Milk, and that’s something I know how to make in my own kitchen. But given that I don’t know how to make tea, that’s a moot point. Our coffee maker DOES grind fresh beans, so I guess that’s a pass!

Most days for breakfast I have my protein pancakes, but if I’m forced to give up whey protein (the primary ingredient), then my fall back would be eggs and greens. I’ve been digging sautéed pea tendrils lately.

ProCakes gluten free protein pancakes

fried eggs and pea tendrils

Lunch

I’ve been eating the same thing for lunch for about 3 years now. Ever since I’ve banished bread from my life, a Big Ass Salad is the midday meal of choice. It’s typically a toss up of arugala, cherry tomatoes, olives, fermented veggies and a sprinkle of cheese with olive oil and balsamic. I guess those last three things would have to go and I’d use a cashew based dressing instead. I typically have a couple of hard boiled eggs at lunch – but i’m going to assume eggs are okay since they’re pretty much straight from the chicken’s neither region.

arugala salad

Dinner

Dinner at my house is typically a piece of fish and some veggies. I use butter, coconut oil or olive oil to cook with, so that would have to change. I guess I could still get away with coconut oil (I think), but I have no idea how to make butter or squeeze oils out of olives, so those would be out for sure.

mike's curry sauce

OMG, I have no idea how this would impact my love for wine, but let’s just say it’s not going anywhere and nobody will get hurt, okay? Wine can be homemade. I don’t do it, but it can be done. Leave it at that.

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As for my Trader Joe’s Chocolate Covered Almonds – those I’d have to pass on, but I do have homemade backups that are just as good.

healthy chocolate, raw vegan, paleo, no sugar, sugar free, antioxidant

{RAW CHOCOLATE COCONUT RECIPE}

So overall, my food life is pretty unprocessed. It would be a minor alteration of little things – mostly condiments and sauces, but it wouldn’t be undoable. What about you?

Check out Eating Rules’ parameters for the challenge. How far would you have to go to alter your eating habits to become completely unprocessed? It’s a good barometer to measure the current quality of nutrition that you’re getting!

Check out Peas and Crayons for more What I ate Wednesday (WIAW) themed posts!

A 37- minute blissful state of invincibility

This is something I’m reposting from my old blog, The Skeptic Yogi.  It’s no longer an active blog, but I still have the archives and once and a while, I mine through it for great content.  This one, is particularly relevant to my life right now as I constantly vacillate between being a ballsy entrepreneur, and a total chicken-shit otherwise.  

PS – I have no pictures of me running this race, but this is a shot of me in my Vegas finest, after many post-race cocktails.

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This weekend I ran the Las Vegas Half Marathon shy of 2 hours and 10 minutes. I have ran half marathons in the past with better timing, but I was especially under-trained and over-injured for this race in particular, so my expectations weren’t high. I was assuming a likely time of around 2:20 or greater. But the race ended up going much better than expected, and aside from being proud of my accomplishment overall, I have a few nuggets of wisdom to pass on from the ah-ha moments I experienced during and after the race. Enjoy.

Focusing on the negative will weaken you. At some point around mile 9, I believed I was going to have bad race based on the throbbing pain in my legs. I was sore and I was slowing down. At that point, the BFF joined me for a half mile until I broke away to hit the water station. When I looked up, she was so far ahead I couldn’t see her, so I rushed to catch up – for 3 miles. The key here was the distraction of my pain in favor of focusing on catching up with D (who I never ended up finding). Before I knew it, I had increased my pace considerably, and I was now in the last mile of the race.

To build quick and dirty confidence – set baby goals, and crush them. In the last mile of the race, I had given up on finding D and focused on keeping a good pace to the finish line. I found two girls dressed in green that were clearly faster than me and I immediately focused on being in front of them. It hurt, but suddenly I was running full tilt right past the girly-greens and soon they were eating my dust. From there I started picking out and crushing runners that were ahead of me, one by one. With each crush, I felt more and more empowered – and faster.

What you believe, is. I must have ran past people that were 10x faster and stronger runners than me, but because I had it in my mind that they needed to see nothing more than the back of my head, that’s exactly what happened. In that last mile of the race, my brain was so consumed with competitive focus and people-crushing that there was no room for thinking that anyone had me beat. If I could only maintain this laser-like focus in the rest of my world, I’d be completely invincible at everything.

But the best part of the whole experience occurred once I headed back to hotel for a little post-race snooze. As I lay in bed staring at the ceiling and reflecting on my experience, I basked in the feeling of knowing that I could accomplish anything I set my mind too. Clearly the endorphins had lasted long after my recovery shower and I was still lingering in that last mile mind-set of shear invincibility. I thought about my career, my dreams and my goals, while Cruella-the-nay-sayer was nowhere in sight. I had left her at mile 8 with my sore legs. The experience of daydreaming without self-attacking thoughts was sheer heavenly bliss. I became so aware in that moment of the child-like joy that can be derived from actual thinking, without the exhaustion of negative influencing thoughts, which tend to take away the fun of being in your head.

I took one more glance at the clock before drifting off into a light slumber. I had been reveling in my post-race bliss for about 37 minutes before I fell asleep. But when I woke up, life was back to normal, and Cruella had caught up to me from the water station at mile 9.

Next time, I’ll just have to run further.

How to crack a coconut (the fancy way)

This may sound like a pretty straight forward thing to do, but I assure you, it’s not.

I bought a full coconut at WholeFoods in Venice, CA when I first moved to SoCal. I was inspired by all the health nuts around me, shopping in their spandex and Lululemon hairbands. I took it home and had no idea what to do with it and eventually tossed it once it looked like it was ready to sprout legs and run away on its own.

But recently Melissa’s Produce sent me a couple of coconuts to crack and I decided it was high time I figured this damn thing out as it’s too cute and tasty to pass up.

So I Googled it and low and behold…..I found a way!

how to crack a coconut

The downside is that it was some pretty lame dude instructing the how-to, so I figured I better add a little of my own coconut cracking pizzaz to the internets.

And so it goes…. How to crack a coconut in 30 seconds or less – with a ninja voice and a not-so-sharp knife.

Yer welcome!

How to be healthy on a road trip – and other tips to keep it fun.

HEALTHY ROAD TRIP SNACKS

If you’ve ever driven the long, 6 hour commute along I5 from Los Angeles to San Francisco, then you’ll understand when I say that the lack of healthy snacks (and good scenery) is an understatement. Every rest stop is a random smattering of gas stations, Taco Bells and maybe a Starbucks (if you’re lucky).

HEALTHY ROAD TRIP SNACKS

Unlike my husband who needs a pee stop every 45 minutes because he drinks buckets of fizzy beverages the whole way up, I prefer to challenge myself by stopping as few times as possible and packing a little healthy meal for the trip so that I don’t have to resort to fast food (I’d rather starve to be honest).

So the morning of my trip, I pull the following out and this time, I actually remembered to take a picture so I could share!

Note – the wine and ProCakes are intended for the destination….unless the traffic is REALLY bad…. just kidding :)

Other random great things that make road trips more fun include:

  1. A good audiobook – this time I’m hearing In Her Shoes
  2. Comfy clothes – Lulu crops and a tank (obvi)
  3. Boat loads of gum – I have a slight addiction I think
  4. Cell phone charger – because my battery has a 3 minute lifespan these days. Who’s getting the iPhone 6???

Now there’s a reason that I”m heading north this weekend and it’s not for Napa with the girls this time. I can’t wait to share all the cool things that are on the horizon, but I’ll wait till all my proverbial “i”s are dotted :)

Meanwhile, have a fantastic weekend!!!
XOXO

This post also appears over on Jill Conyer’s Fitness, Health and Happiness.

How to count macros & how many calories should you eat?

I’m sharing a post I wrote over on my ProCakes blog because I think it’s such an empowering concept to understand.  If you’ve got this – you’ve got a skill that will provide long lasting, sustainable health and weight management.

A quick disclosure before we get into the nitty-gritty of macronutrients.  I’m a certified Personal Trainer working on advanced training in nutrition, but I am not a doctor, and I’m not a dietitian.  I think knowing the basics about nutrition (such as macro nutrient balancing) is a key tool to fat loss and a healthy diet, but my advice is clearly no match for medical advice, especially if you have a health condition.  I know you know this, but just putting it out there to appease the powers that be :)

COUNTING MACROS, CALORIE COUNTING, HOW MANY CALORIES SHOULD I BE EATING

Now onto the good stuff!

Macros (macronutrients) are fats, protein and carbs. Most foods have a combination of all 3, but typically there’s one overriding macro (ie, bread is almost entirely carbs, but has some protein and a little fat). If you have no idea how many grams of protein are in a 5 ounce chicken breast or how many carbs are in a 1/2 cup of broccoli, not to worry. That’s also why you’re doing habit 5 – to learn this stuff. Once you know it, you can pretty much trust yourself to figure out your own diet for the rest of your life.

How many macros should you aim for? That’s again, up to you and only you can know best. General guidelines suggest that most  people looking to lose weight should eat somewhere around 10 to 12 times their bodyweight in total calories and starting fat calories at least 35% to 40% of your total diet, then splitting carbs and protein between the remaining 60%. Again, this isn’t a hard and fast rule, but a baseline to start from. You can tweak from there based on your energy and hunger levels.

So, as a 135lbs woman, my total calories might look like this:

135lbs x 12 = 1620 total calories per day:

  • 50% of that are fat calories, which is 648 calories
  • 30% of that are non-starchy carbs which is 486 calories
  • 30% of that can be protein calories which is 486 calories

A quick tip about calorie counting – a gram of carbohydrate is 4 calories and so is a gram of protein. A gram of fat is 9 calories and a gram of alcohol is 7. So based on the quick math I did above, 648 calories of fat divided by 9 calories per gram = 72 grams of fat per day and you would divide by 4 with protein and carbs.

PS – if all this feels like too much math, just track your food on myfitnesspal.com and it will do the math for you. Easy peasy.

Ultimately you should find a balance of macros that works for you, but the key thing is to choose non-starchy carbs, so say tootleloo to grain-based bread-like things, avoid potatoes (for a while) and stick with green or brightly colored veggies instead.

Basically, if it is, or comes from something that can be white (like bread, pasta, rice, noodles) then avoid it. If it comes from a grain, look the other way. If it has added sugar – run, don’t walk in the opposite direction. If you want treats, look for high protein, low carb options with no added sugar. They are out there, I assure you.

Want to learn more? I think this article sums it up really well.