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a “re-epiphany”

First things first, people.  As I mentioned yesterday, I made Averie’s Vegan Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Bars.  They are TO DIE FOR.  So good!  They are gooey and soft, and for me the bitterness of the carob is the perfect compliment to the sweetness of the dried cranberries.  All of the flavors mix together in just the right way.  Her recipe is pretty flexible, so lemme tell you what I put in them.

- one ripe banana
- 1.5 cup oats
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup carob chips
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup natural pb

- 1 scoop of the only protein powder (soy) I had on hand
- 3 tbsp sliced almonds
- 2 tbsp milled flaxseed – Walmart didn’t have whole flaxseeds.  I think whole would do much better.
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract

I mixed it up just like Averie suggested.  If you notice, I omitted the coconut, which may have made my bars more gooey – not that that’s a bad thing!  I certainly have not skipped a beat in slicing off a piece each night;)  Definitely try these out if you’re looking for a healthy, vegan sweet treat!

Today I had an epiphany.  Funny thing is, this isn’t the first time I’ve had this epiphany.  I’ve realized, though, that sometimes in my life I have to learn things over and over.  Bad habits tend to come back randomly, and I have to relearn my new, good habits.  Here’s the story:

Usually when I come home from work, I run in the house, change clothes as fast as possible and race to the gym.  I like to get my workout in and get back home before Jon’s been home from work for too long.  Today, as I was driving home I was realizing that my body…and mind, for that matter…were just not feeling a workout.  Now, for me there is a difference between just not wanting to get on the treadmill or weights and me really needing a rest day.  I could feel it in my bones muscles, and I knew that I needed to take a day off.  Plus, I was completely mentally drained.  This week has just been extra busy and strenuous, and I haven’t given myself a chance to recoup.  So, I was going back and forth in my mind between two things: burn calories and get a good cardio workout in OR give myself a mental and physical break.

I started feeling guilty at the thought of not going to the gym.  I was telling myself that I needed to go to the gym no matter what because I needed to burn those calories.  Then Jon called.  He was headed home early from work and would be home any second.  Talk about making a hard situation harder for me.  Now I wanted to stay home to be with him, really wanted to rest, but the guilt was warring inside my head.  I haven’t done this to myself in a long time.  I honestly thought I was past the point of feeling guilty over working out and focusing way more on calorie burning than mental, emotional and relational (when I’m feeling guilty it affects my entire attitude, even toward Jon) health.

So, to make an already long story a little shorter, Jon coaxed me into staying home and resting, but not without a lot of whining and “bad mood” from me.  Because of him, I went to lie down for a bit.  I started thinking about the whole situation with a little more clarity.

Our physical health is not more important than our mental or emotional health.  Sometimes I make the mistake of putting more emphasis on my physical health because it’s outwardly evident.  If I gain five pounds, other people will notice and my jeans won’t fit quite as well, however, if I completely exhaust myself, other people don’t have to know.  It’s a lot easier to ignore.  So, I decided I’m making a commitment to start focusing equally on each area of my life.  I’m always striving to find that balance, and while I did have a setback today, I also took several steps toward becoming more balanced.

Do you ever have trouble finding balance between everything that is important in your life?  Do you often feel that you don’t have time to take care of every part of your life?  How do you try to maintain balance?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Well, it’s about time for me to skidaddle (sp?:) to bed.  Jon is trying to coerce me into staying up late with him, but I’m not sure how long I’m going to make it!  See you tomorrow for a review of the homemade vegan black bean burgers we made tonight.  Good night!

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almond sauce stir fry

Hi!  I had the best dinner tonight!  I was actually going to talk about my green monster from this morning first, but I’m so happy about how dinner turned out that I just can’t wait.

After work today, I headed straight to the gym to do some lifting.  When I got back, I was already starving, but Jon had to head back to work for about 30 minutes for a meeting, and I wanted to wait on him to eat.  So, I threw a great combo of cucumber, carrot, apple and lemon into the juicer – it turned out pretty good.  I’ve only used my juicer a handful of times since I got it at Christmas (review to come!), and I still haven’t figured out my favorite combination yet.  Any fun suggestions?

Anyway, so I sipped on my juice and started chopping up some veggies while I waited.  I seriously was craving a huge plate of vegetables….but, I’ve been really focusing on getting more protein into each meal, so I decided to try something new by incorporating protein and healthy fat into my “sauce.”  I tossed cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, onions and mushrooms in my big skillet and began sautéing them in just a bit of EVOO.  Using Thai peanut sauce as my inspiration, I put in a tablespoon of almond butter and a splash of tamari and mixed and heated it through.  I did have to add just a touch more EVOO as well to eliminate dryness.  When it was all done, and hubby was home of course, I laid the vegetable mixture on a bed of quinoa (more protein!) and tadaa!  It was time to eat!

Let me tell you, this meal was so good.  It had a bit of an Asian flavor with just the right amount of AB and tamari…and a sprinkle of seeds of course!  I could seriously have this meal every night…but I won’t.  Gotta keep things interesting!

Before I go, let me tell you really quickly the best thing that happened this morning.  I’ve been drinking green monster, thanks to Angela, for about a year now.  My sweet hubby gets up to make it for me before I leave at 6am.  Ever since school started back up, there has just been something…off…about the texture.  I couldn’t figure it out.  I had switched from soy to almond milk in an effort to limit my soy consumption a bit, so I thought that may be the problem, but we switched back and saw no improvement!  So, I suggested that this morning he should try adding a little more milk and leaving out the flaxseed…and it worked!  You have no idea what a happy girl I am to have my beloved monster back to normal…it’s my livelihood at 6am!  Yea!!

That’s it for now.  I am so looking forward to the weekend already, and it’s only Tuesday!  Have a great night☺

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spaghetti squash

Hi all!  How’s your Monday night going?  Jon and I are feeling a little more tired than usual, probably just because it’s the first day of the week.  I did, however, muster up enough energy to try a new food out tonight – one that I’ve been wanting to try forever – spaghetti squash!

I stumbled upon Abby’s blog the other night, and took it as an opportunity to get some fun and fresh meal ideas for the week.  And that I did!  One meal she mentioned having was spaghetti squash.  That was all the motivation I needed to go track one down and give it a try.

I was initially a bit worried about the one hour cook time, but  I somehow managed to work it into my schedule so that it turned out perfect!  I had to stay late at school today, so the second I left I raced home, threw on some gym clothes, tossed the squash in the oven and headed to the gym.

About an hour later, I came home just in time to take it out…and it was perfectly cooked!  I let it cool per Abby’s recommendation, then sliced it in half, scooping out all the insides.  It seriously has to be one of the coolest foods I’ve ever seen!  The only problem I ran into was trying to get all the seeds out.  Any ideas? It seems like there has to be an easier way.

Anyway, I had Jon pick up some “veggie crumbles” at Walmart, and I had an organic marinara sauce waiting in the fridge.  I cooked the crumbles and added it all together, then sprinkled some cubes of avocado on top (gotta have that healthy fat!).

This meal was fantastic.  I will probably have it at least once a week.  Although, there is a downside.  Seeing as how I’m still new at this whole vegan thing, I never considered that there might be dairy products in the soy crumbles.  So, this meal was not as vegan as I thought it was going to be, and while I’ll finish off this batch of crumbles, I won’t buy them again.  Any ideas on how to add protein to this meal?

I’m off to make a new seating chart for my hoodlums, seeing as how I promised it to them a week ago.  Hope you all have a great start to the week!

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