Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 - Goals n' Stuff

Do you realize that Prince's 1999 was released 30 years ago?

You let that sink in.  I'll wait here.
What?  Come Again?  30 YEARS?!
I always associate that song with New Years and I found myself singing it as I watched the fireworks explode over Sydney Harbor on tv this morning.   30 years?  If I had been this obsessed with New Years goal setting back then, I'd probably be a kick ass media mogul by now!

This year I'm setting goals for January 1 through June 30 and then we'll do a little recap & reevaluate for the remainder of the year.  

1.  Publish 26 blog posts by June 30, 2013.  
I wrote more in 2012 than any other year but considering all that I read and learn about, you'd think I could pump out at least one post per week consistently.  It's not like I'm ever at a loss for words! Stop snickering.

2.  Get my half marathon time under 2:10.
I might not have any official races to run before June 30 but I'm just as happy to get it on a long run.  When I do, I'll snap a picture of my Garmin for proof.

3.  Simplify our 'stuff' in anticipation of moving. 
By my estimation, we have 15 legal size boxes of paperwork, 6 closets, 4 dressers and 12 months of VAT submissions to deal with.  I want these numbers cut in half by June 30.

4.  Pass my Precision Nutrition exam and get my certification.
This is going to be awesome to have but the test is no joke.  I was a study monster up until we left for the marathon but I've totally dropped the ball.  Time to crack the books and get back to it.

5.  Send a card for every birthday in our our family.
This might be the single most challenging thing on my list.  I am AWFUL at sending anything in the mail.  I wasn't this bad in the States but dealing with a small APO that doesn't stock stamps or mailing supplies makes mailing anything sink to the bottom of my pile.  And at the bottom of that pile is guilt and shame.

6.  Complete all 25 miles of The Great Train Run on February 13, 2013. 
I'm really looking forward to this run.  You can see my experience from last year here.  I don't have much trail experience and the heat makes this run a killer.  Mark and I are registering as individual runners (you can register in teams) with the agreement that if one of us falls apart, we'll start trading off segments and finish as a team.  The course starts in the capital city of Bridgetown and follows the old train tracks all the way across the island to the upper most corner.  I got to run 8K of the coastal segment a couple of weeks ago with a small group...
Gorgeous, right?

As I went over this list with my husband on the beach yesterday, I kept returning to the fact that none of these goals scare the bejeezus outta me.  Nothing even comes close to the terror and excitement I felt about Western States last year.  This feels more like a laundry list of tasks.  Mark's advice:  "Keep training hard so that when 'scary' comes along, you're ready!"  Sage advice from the old ball & chain.

Wherever you are in this beautiful world, I hope you enjoy ringing in the New Year!  Remember to take a breath and a moment to look back on 2012 with love and reverence for this amazing gift of life!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Goals of 2012 - A Painfully Honest Review

I'm already laughing as I sit down to write.  This oughta be good.

Last Sunday I asked my yoga girls to think of a few goals for 2013 and then share them at class this morning.  Everyone had a wonderful spirit about their goals - "be a better me", "be a more patient mother", "get back to my wedding weight", "spend more quality time with my husband".

Then there's me with race dates, time goals, blogging requirements and business ventures.  I felt like The Enforcer while my beautiful friends floated above me on fluffy clouds.  Two words:  Lighten up.

So before I unleash fresh goals onto the world, let us enjoy a recap of successes and shortfalls of 2012.

2012 Goals
1.  Learn to swim for real.
Technically "I did it" and could swim a couple of laps in the pool or a decent distance at Pebble Beach but all in all - not what I thought it would be.  Not peaceful, not awesome.  If I devoted a lot more time, perhaps a romance would develop but for now, the box is ticked and I'm moving on.  Thank you Rachel for every ounce of patience I squeezed from your soul!

2.  Devote one hour per day to talk with loved ones.
This shouldn't be hard but it is.  I definitely put in more time on the phone than in 2011 but the numbers of people I want to stay in touch with has also grown exponentially.  This year my nephew was born, my amazing grandmother passed, and some of my closest friends had pretty big issues.  Those three items alone were responsible for hours and hours of talk time.  I'd say I accomplished this goal 50% of the time.

3.  Develop one discernible abdominal muscle.
I did this.  I worked down to a weight that made my face look bad - as the old adage says "You can save your ass or your face.  You cannot save both without surgery."  As I worked on this goal, I  discovered a five pound window.  At the bottom end, I have a few visible abdominal muscles and a Skeletor face.  At the top end, I have softness in my face and a mini muffin top to match.  In the end, I choose a softer face and to work like hell on the mini-muffin.

4.  Get three restaurants to offer a vegan option on their menu.
Ummm... I didn't do this.  I didn't do nothing in regard to advocacy but no, I never got a restaurant owner to change their menu.   I did talk with the manager of my grocery store and thanked him for stocking vegan cream cheese and organic tofu.  I extolled the virtues of Daiya cheese and tempeh (he nodded blankly) and I taught two of my favorite checkers how to press tofu.   I also worked my butt off to promote a new vegan restaurant here on the south coast called The Good Life.  I got to know the owner and then started taking lunch orders on Wednesdays from my co-workers and shuttling the food to the Embassy.  Regardless, I failed on the goal.  Wah-wah.

5.  Train to be a pacer at the Western States 100.
Completed!  I trained, I went, I supported, I was blown away, I cried, I was moved beyond words, I ran, I almost got ran over by a bear, and then I went RVing!   In a nutshell.  Definitely not the way I thought it was going to go but wow! A life-changing experience.  Thank God I said 'yes'!

There you have it - an approximate success rate of 65%.  I knocked off a couple points for not continuing to swim and not keeping the ab muscle visible.

I've got 24 hours left to ponder the goals for 2013.  Wait here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Shake It, Don't Break It!

I'm pretty much bowled over by the response to my EnerPrime post.   Honestly, I wasn't writing a sales pitch but I am over the moon at the number of you who are willing to give it a try!

Here are my tips for making EnerPrime shakes a part of every day:

1.  Give the EnerPrime canister a good shake before opening every time.  Some of the components weigh a little more than others and can sink to the bottom.

2.  Always use a dry spoon as the enzymes in EnerPrime are activated by water.

3.  EnerPrime can be taken in just water or any juice so don't let making a shake deter you on a busy morning.  Just toss a tablespoon into any unsweetened juice and give it a stir.

4.  These shakes travel pretty well if kept cold in a cooler bag.

My daily blender makes two 16 oz shakes:

2 medium bananas
2 tablespoons of EnerPrime
2 tablespoons of Udo's 3.6.9 Oil Blend
1/2 cup unsweetened Cloudy Apple & Pear OR Pineapple Juice
1 1/2 cup cold water
1 handful ice

I add Udo's Oil Blend to add Essential Fatty Acids and calories to my shake to help tide me over.  I need all the help I can get to make it through my days.  Lord knows, I won't take a pill with any consistency so I just dump it in the shake. Done!

If you don't tolerate bananas, substitute 1/4 cup of almond, soy or rice milk OR soak 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed in a small cup with a few tablespoons of water.  This creates a "flax egg" and is used in place of egg in vegan baking.  It will help thicken up the shake and add valuable Omega 3 fatty acids to your shake.  Add a small sliced apple for even more texture and thickness.   Continue with the juice, water and ice in the quantities above.

All this said, don't get hung up on quantities, recipes, etc.  Any fruit (fresh or frozen), any unsweetened juice, water and ice.  Some will be better than others but it's all easy-peasy!  FYI: Blueberries will turn your shake a funky purplish-grey but it's still yum!

Frequency and timing are up to you.  What will you do every day?

I am a runner and I teach kickboxing for a few hours each day.  On run mornings, I make the shake immediately after the run.  Exercising creates tiny tears in your muscle fibers and those fibers repair and grow best when they get protein (especially easily digestible liquid protein!) within 45 -50 minutes after exercise.  If it's not a run morning, I still make the shake for breakfast.  I'm a creature of habit!  Occasionally, after a particularly rough food day, I'll make an extra shake at night after dinner.  I love thought of the proteins and enzymes going to work as I'm going to sleep!

Bottom Line:  It doesn't do you any good if you don't get it in your body.  My multivitamins can sit in the cupboard untouched for weeks and yet if you asked me, I would say "Yes, I take a mulitvitamin!" Uh, no you don't!

Make your shake when it's convenient for you and your family - everyday - and then really evaluate how you're feeling after a month.  Have you stayed healthy?  Are you going to the bathroom more regularly?  Are you less sore after a run or the gym?  Are you more focused?  Are your cravings for sugar and caffeine dissipating? Are you sleeping better? Is your acid reflux calming down? Are your headaches going away?  Is your body craving the greens?

USE THIS as a time of self-evaluation and healing.  Greens are wonderful for you on so many levels.  I can't' wait to hear your story!

You can check out EnerPrime here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's EnerPrime Time!

I had a wonderful time with my family and friends who visited over the past 10 days!  It's a madhouse during trips like that but I have to embrace the madness because when it's over... the house is too quiet, the dog is depressed and all that excitement grinds to a halt.

Between the tours, the beach days and the laughter, I got to share a lot about my veg lifestyle with my loved ones.  It's easy to bore or make people uncomfortable when talking about eating animals.  I tried my best to keep the words to a minimum and my actions cranked to maximum:  Don't talk about tofu - make tofu!  Better yet, teach how to prepare tofu.  Set out almond milk for coffee like there is nothing to discuss.  Lay out a bowl of taco "meat" next to the chicken with no fanfare.   It just is.  My brother-in-law commented that he wasn't sure what I was I feeding him but it all tasted good!  Bingo.

My sister-in-law suffers with horrible frequent migraines and it was on my mind for weeks before her arrival.  I read up on migraine triggers and (more importantly) "What NOT to say to people with migraines".   Apparently, peppering them with stories of every person you've ever known that gets migraines and the myriad of ways they were cured is not appreciated?  So I thought about the problem the way I know best - nutritionally.  What could I do to make her feel good?  True, the sunshine and general awesomeness of Barbados would go a long way to making someone from Syracuse feel good but I needed to feed her from the inside out.

I use (and now rep) a nutritional greens product called EnerPrime which is manufactured by a small company in Northern California.  My friends Wayne and Angie introduced me to the greens back in June on our Western States RV adventure.  They have been using EnerPrime for 16 years and credit much of Wayne's recovery from two bouts of very serious cancer to the product.  Of course, his team of surgeons saved his life but even they couldn't explain the healing effects of EnerPrime on Wayne's battered body.

We started taking the greens six months ago and haven't missed a single day.  When we started, my husband's face broke out all over the place and I've never seen a blemish on that man.  My "EnerPrime Initiation" resulted in a LOT of time in campground bathrooms.  In fact, I'd like to personally apologize to KOA campgrounds in the Northern California region.  Sorry!  As we purged our bodies of toxins and residual "God knows what" in our digestive systems, we both had to admit that we felt great.  We kept it up during our travel for the marathon and used it within hours of the start and finish of the race to speed recovery.  In 12 years together we've never done anything this vigilantly but it's easy and the benefits are undeniable.  While I'm not much of a "rep" person, our household usage was getting to a level that needed a discount!  With a bit of reluctance (I gotta be honest!), I opened an account with the company so we could afford to keep chugging the "green stuff".

On the first morning of the family visit, I presented everyone with a shake upon waking.  No explanation. "Good morning.  Here's your breakfast!"  The sleepy sheep took the bait!  Taste is not an issue (read: my shakes rock) but I was worried that it wouldn't hold them over until lunch and the toaster might get dragged out for bagels and butter.  Why clean out the gut to immediately re-clutter?  So I started loading up the shakes with extra Udo's 3.6.9 Oil, ground flax seed, extra bananas and sliced apples.  Anything to bulk it up.

It worked like magic!  As I started to open up about EnerPrime and the effects it's had on our health, my sister-in-law started to see how it could change her situation.  She took her migraine medication on the first day of the trip as a precaution and had no signs of migraine for the next 10 days.  I taught her to make shakes for her and her husband and we came up with all sorts of variations that would satisfy them both.  I sent her home with enough EnerPrime to last for a month and now I'm holding my breath to see what happens as she returns to "normal" life.

I'm sharing all of this because a) I want to document my sister-in-law's story in some way.  If this sort of fundamental nutrition even just lessens her headaches, it will be a great gift in her life and yet another testimony to the power of the plants that God created for our use.  And b) I want to encourage you to take a look at your daily nutrient intake and make improvements. Are you getting 10 servings of veggies every day?  If so, BRAVO!  If not, join the other 99% of us and consider trying a greens powder.  I think of it as filling the cracks in my foundation with live green sand.  Before we treat symptoms, perhaps it's wise to fill the cracks and operate from a place of wholeness first.

When using a greens powder, a good rule of thumb is to identify a thickener (banana, ground flax, avocado, chia seeds soaked in water) and a sweetener (pure fruit juice, fresh or frozen fruit, a touch of honey or agave nectar) and then water and ice.  Any extra spinach, kale, lettuce, celery that's about to 'go" in your fridge can also get tossed in. Honestly, it takes less time than making toast!

There are many greens products on the market and many ways to make green smoothies using no supplementation at all.  If you'd like to try EnerPrime, give me a shout or click here. Otherwise, Google 'green smoothies' and get your blenders hummin!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Pink Beans - I Love You

With the marathon safely in the rear view, it's time to get back to cooking, writing and staying up past 8:30 p.m.  Yes!

We have two couples coming to visit for 10 days in December and that spells opportunity!   This is a chance to let my veggie kitchen shine.  The keys to success as I see them - quantity and ease.  I'm not used to feeding six adults and I would be a fool to sacrifice island time with my friends and family just to hole up in the kitchen all day.

How many yummy, filling, and easy to prepare vegetarian meals/side dishes can I bang out for six adults?  That question will be the focus of the next few posts.

Pink Beans

My bean loyalties shift throughout the months but the pink bean has become a true favorite and a weekly staple. Plus, they're pink!  How can you go wrong?

Some beans maintain their integrity when canned but not the pink bean.   For any light colored bean (except garbanzos!) just remember - "Mushy and bland when placed in a can."  Get the dried beans and soak for at least four hours on the kitchen counter.  This recipe is not complicated (or even very original) but it is delicious and feeds a clan!

1 bag of dried pink beans
1 small or 1/2 medium finely diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon of dried cilantro
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (if you're a heat junkie like me - also toss in red pepper flakes and chili powder)
1 teaspoon of Complete Seasoning or Nature's Seasoning Salt
1 cup vegetable broth or 1 veggie bouillon cube disolved in 1 cup water
1 cup water
1 garlic clove - grated

Cover the beans with at least an inch of water and boil (lid on) for about 40 minutes - until the beans are al dente.   Note:  Pink beans don't create a lot of "foam" while boiling.  Any of the foam you can remove will reduce the gas content of the dish.

Remove from heat, drain and rinse.  You might wonder why we're dumping the thick juice that's been created at this point.  Because it's full of gas and gas is not attractive.

Rehydrate a tablespoon of dried cilantro in two tablespoons of water - set aside.  I never thought to use dehydrated cilantro but fresh is rare here and the dried version is surprisingly flavorful when rehydrated.  Give it a sniff, you'll see.

Place the pan back onto the stove and sauté your onions in a tablespoon of olive oil until they're golden.

Dump the beans onto the onions and add the veggie broth, an extra cup of water, cayenne pepper and Complete Seasoning.  Bring the mixture to a boil (keep a lid on the pan or you'll just have to keep adding water) for around 30 minutes or until the beans are softened to your liking.

Turn off the heat and stir in the reconstituted cilantro and grate a clove of garlic into the pot.  Pop the lid on the pan and walk away.  The sauce that's created in the pan will thicken up within about 30 minutes.

These pink beans are perfect for taco night, served over rice or as a bed for your favorite veggie burger.