6/22/14

Snacking on the Road with Pop Chips

Hey guys! Well, I finally got down to Asheville last week! My mom and I took a quick 2 day trip to go to my school, meet my principal, fill out paperwork, and the like. It was so much fun!

When I accepted the job, I had never even been to Asheville before, but from my research online and all of the information my friends gave me, I felt like it would be a good fit for me. I am happy to say that I think this city is literally tailored for me :) Also, all of the yoga opportunities.....you have no idea! I'm so excited to move.

The  drive down was 11 hrs...blech. I have spent a lot of time in the car lately, and one thing that I always make sure to prepare is snacks for the road! I don't want to get stuck halfway down on a road trip and have to stop at McDonalds. I mean, it happens, but if I can prevent it, I will! I'm a big "bar" fan (Balance is my favorite right now, unless I have time to make these delicious homemade ones!) but another favorite of mine is Popchips




Have you guys tried these? I actually have had them quite often....I used to work for an online publisher and edited publications for trade shows, and Popchips was a company that we wrote a segment for and they sent us samples to the office. I was addicted to the barbecue ones! And the seal salt ones, and the sweet potato ones...

Popchips are a great alternative to regular chips. They aren't fried, or baked. The company is committed to making a healthier option and not adding anything fake to their recipe:

"our pledge: no fake colors, no fake flavors, no preservatives, no fluorescent orange fingertips, and no wiping your greasy chip hand on your jeans. no, really. we only use ingredients you can feel good about eating. and we leave out the bad stuff, like hydrogenated oils and msg, that give snacking a bad name. because popchips have no preservatives, make sure to get a good chip clip after opening the bag to keep our popped chips fresh. or better yet, just eat them all at once."**


I am not a big chip fan, and I think that's why I like Popchips so much. I don't miss the greasy, fried part that many people like about chips....there are many unhealthy foods I love to indulge in (BIG MACS ANYONE) but chips aren't one of them. These chips are perfect because they're just so light! 

I try not to snack too often but I don't feel bad when I eat these. The small bags are perfect for stashing in your work drawer, or taking on the road, like I did last week!

What's your favorite on-the-road snack?



**http://www.popchips.com/popchips/what-are-popchips/

***I was given product to try for this post, but all opinions are my own!

6/11/14

What I Ate Wednesday: Illinois Edition

Well. I can't remember the last time I did a WIAW post! I miss those posts a lot...I also miss Marvelous In My Monday. I'm definitely a roundup kind of person, especially when it comes to blogging :)

My vegetarian project is still in full swing here in Illinois/Missouri. I am now almost 4 weeks without meat! I still continue to feel pretty great :) I haven't even really missed it very much. I'm wondering if I'll have a horrible craving at some point or if it will even matter. I feel like there are so many different alternatives and so many good vegan/veg options out there that it's possible I'll be just fine and not miss it that much at all. I've recently become obsessed with Oh She Glows and am planning on making a couple of her recipes next week!

So, here are some eats from my time with my parents/sister. My parents are into eating healthier too and are supportive of it. I don't think they're crazy about me not eating meat but after the initial conversation it hasn't been in discussion at all so that's good too! 




Lots of breakfast foods here! I've been loving this apple omelet lately...it's a change up from my regular veggie omelet. Also, a torn up slice of my mom's homemade wheat bread with almond butter.


Eggs, fruit, and chai tea for a rainy afternoon. My mom bought two watermelons from the grocery store that ended up being probably the best and juiciest watermelon I've ever eaten...can't get enough!


My sister and I made this cauliflower alfredo sauce last night (with peas!) and it was soooo good. The main base ingredient is cauliflower (obvs) so it's got that creamy texture without all of the fat that comes in white sauce. It was delicious.




And this berry smoothie! Pineapple, mango, strawberries, blueberries, spinach, protein powder, almond milk.


Ahhhhh....and dessert.....peanut butter, chocolate, banana quesadillas. Recipe to come soon...well I guess you know all of the ingredients but the technique can be a little tricky. This was my very first attempt and you can see how messy it can get :)

Can I just say I'm glad summer is in full swing again so I can be the smoothie queen??? Smoothies are great all the time but definitely more satisfying and comforting in the summer! I've been eating at least one every day (maybe two sometimes...don't judge me!) They have been my go-to for the last few weeks.

What food can you not get enough of lately?

6/8/14

Refreshing Green Smoothie

Good morning loves! I've had a nice week off from blogging but am happy to be back...for now! I have a very busy few weeks ahead of me. I will be going between Lincoln (where I'm at now), St. Louis, Chicago, and Asheville for the next few weeks! 

One thing I've been trying hard to do is stay on track with my eating while I'm here. What's helped is planning things ahead of time, to make sure my grocery shopping is as efficient as possible. This smoothie has been my go-to every morning for the last week!


Ingredients
1-2 handfuls spinach/kale
1/3 of a cucumber
One small apple
 Lemon juice
Ginger
Coconut oil
Protein powder (optional)
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Honey or agave
Water
____________________________________________________________

This is probably one of the best smoothies I've ever made, I think. It's kind of a hodgepodge of a few different green smoothies I've tried before. It's so delicious, refreshing, and is just the perfect way to start off the day on the right track.

Do you like green smoothies? They're a fantastic way to sneak in some of your greens for the day. I promise you can't even taste the spinach or kale! Since I've given up meat I've been focusing on getting my greens and veggies in every meal. This smoothie is the perfect way to knock a couple of those things out, with the greens and cucumber! 

Here are a few pictures as of late....it's been busy round these parts :)


















Obviously, lots of yoga. But! I ventured out of my comfort zone and ran a 5K with my family. It was pretty cool. Not just because it was for melanoma, which my grandfather has, but because my whole family did it. I finished last out of the 5 of us but luckily not by much :) I'm definitely missing the mountains but I am enjoying all of the green the Midwest has to offer!

Do you sneak your greens into your smoothies? Do you prefer kale or spinach?

6/2/14

26

An update: Welp today is my birthday!! I am 26 and living at home with my parents :) at least it's only temporary!!

Saturday afternoon my sister flew in and we left for Illinois!! Leaving Tucson was incredibly bittersweet and it still doesn't feel real...it feels like I'm on vacation. Anyway, I am staying here with my parents for a little bit, spending some time in St. Louis with my sister, and heading to Asheville for good next month!! Things were kind of drug out and now are moving so fast!!!! 

I went two weeks with no meat and was feeling amazing!!! My body was working off of plant based foods and feeling great. On the 26 hr road trip I did have a cheeseburger though...turns out finding healthy foods with no meat are impossible at fast food restaurants. However, now that I'm home I'll be back on track. 

So I've gone from this: 
To this: 

In a matter of one day! I miss the desert but I will admit it is nice to see green. And it's nice to be with my family. The one good thing about leaving Tucson is now I will see them more than twice a year :)

So today is my 26th birthday and I wanted to write a nice long profound post about all of the things I've learned in the last few years and how this is nowhere near what I pictured myself doing at 26 but honestly I'm kind of "insightful words" posted out. No, this isn't where I saw myself at 26. But it's even better. I learned a lot living in Tucson with Steven. I think I've got a lot more learning ahead of me, too. This is me. This is where I'm at right now, and it's fine. I'm happy to be 26...honestly, thinking back to the first 25 years of my life, I wouldn't go back or change a single thing. I'm very happy and content with this curve in the road. 

As I said in my last post, I will resume to regular recipes and workouts soon...but today is not that day! I am going to go enjoy being with my family for today :) thanks for sticking with me as I settle down and figure things out. Now, off to do a yogaglo class and walk Rodney around in real grass outside!! 


5/29/14

A Moving Announcement...

Hey guys! Well...I'm sitting in the middle of our torn up living room surrounded by boxes and THINGS (why do I have so much stuff?!) and while I'm nervous to be leaving Saturday, I am SO happy to announce that I am leaving Tucson with a job lined up for next year! No, I'm not going to Chicago...kiddos, I'm headed to...


Asheville, North Carolina!!

If you've been following me since March you might be thinking, "Um...what?"

I was pretty focused on Chicago. I wanted to be closer to my family (still do) but moving to central Illinois doesn't have much appeal for me. So I figured the city would be the way to go. I don't know about you guys, but I told you in this post last week that I'm a firm believer in things happening for a reason. And after three months of relentless applying to over 50 schools in the city alone, after numerous interviews, I never got an offer in Chicago. So I started looking elsewhere.

My mentor teacher during my student teaching is actually a good friend of mine. I went to college with his girlfriend (they're not much older than me) and I was VERY lucky to be placed in his classroom in Havana, Illinois in 2010. Well, I've kept in touch with them and they moved to Asheville last year and absolutely love it there. There was an opening at his school. They interviewed their in state candidates and none of them worked out. So the principal called me on a whim and apparently they loved me enough to immediately offer me a job! So, I will be working with him again, and living in a town with friends, and I'm SO EXCITED. 

Asheville is totally up my alley! Hiking, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, and the like. Tons of outdoor activities and also a thriving nightlife with a booming music community (and LOTS of yoga studios). I actually ended up with a few offers and had to choose between Denver, Colorado, and Asheville. I've been going with my gut this whole time in terms of the decisions I've made and I just feel Asheville is the place for me! It was such a hard decision but I feel very happy with my choice. Also, I'm only about 8 hours from home so it's MUCH closer than Tucson. Obviously. I really feel like this is what was supposed to happen.

Sooooooo finally I can say with confidence that all of the stress and crap was totally worth it. I'm ready for this new chapter! In case you've never heard of/been to Asheville, let me give you a little introduction...













So now you know what to expect from my yoga pictures in the future :) Anyway, I'm so excited for this move and ready for what the future will bring. It's a whole new chapter for me and Rodney! Thanks to all of you for your continued support. I really appreciate it. One day, hopefully soon, my blog will resume a normal routine! For now, I will post a couple times a week during this hectic part. I will be in Illinois with my parents for a little bit, then in St. Louis with my sister for a little bit, and then moving to NC sometime in July. 

Any moving tips for me?

5/28/14

Homemade Protein Bars

Hey guys! I swear I'm still alive...just trying to wrap things up at the house. I move this Saturday! I can't believe my time here in Tucson is up. I'ts pretty sad. Also daunting....I'll be honest, I still haven't started packing! Also, I got a few job offers in different places and need to make up my mind today, so there has been a lot going on here lately.

However, the one constant in my life for the past week has been these protein bars! I loooooove homemade protein bars. I used to make Jamie Eason's a lot, but lately have wanted something a little different. I've made something similar to these before, but this time I ground up the oats first, and personally that made a lot of difference to me. I like the texture a lot more!






Homemade Protein Bars
2 cups oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tbsp flaxseed
1 tbsp chia seeds
3 tbsp honey/agave nectar
2 scoops vanilla protein powder

Instructions
Ground up oats in blender with a few pulses. Transfer to bowl. Add in the other dry ingredients and mix. Finally, add in the peanut butter and honey/agave. Mix together! Put on a cookie sheet/baking pan and refrigerate.

These are my new favorite! They are so easy to make and don't require anything more than what I already have on hand in the pantry. Once they've been refrigerated for a couple of hours, you can slice them up and take them on the go!

What is your favorite protein bar recipe?

5/22/14

What's It Like To Be A Teacher? Let Me Tell You About It....

I'm writing this post on pure adrenaline and emotion :) I just got back from my 8th graders' promotion. This has, without a doubt, been the most messed-up and crazy year of my life. And I feel like it's kind of all culminated this week and built up and now everything is feeling very, very real.

First, thank you for all of your thoughts and comments and advice on going vegan! I am one week deep with no meat and feeling pretty great, actually. I'm doing the Buzzfeed clean eating challenge and just took the meat out of the recipes, which actually has left me feeling kind of hungry, so I've been adding whole foods in as random snacks. A handful of blueberries here, a few extra carrots there. I feel good. So, the no meat trial continues!

Second, thanks for hanging in there with me while I get my life together. I have a TON of interviews for schools next week and things are kind of coming to a head, and I have a feeling I will be finalizing and making a lot of big life decisions in the next couple of weeks. But first, teaching. 

Today was my kids' last day. I have to go in tomorrow to turn in my keys but essentially, I am done, finished, and have three years of teaching under my belt. But I have all of these thoughts in my head and I need to get them on paper! (Ok computer screen...same thing). 

Something freaking awesome happened this year. And today, it all came out in the form of words, tears, and gestures.

In case you didn't know, teaching eighth grade is hard. Like, really, it is. It's super tough. It's a rough age, but I have been drawn to middle school, and especially 8th grade, since I started block teaching five years ago. I love it. I love the kids, I love the age, and I love that they're still young enough to be interested, goof around, and have fun with me in class. Teaching is hard, though, for sure. I have lots of days where I think that I can't do this anymore, that this year is definitely my last year, that I literally might die from frustration with my students. I have days where I can't wait to get my yoga teacher training so that I can transition to teaching fitness. But, seriously, it's all a sham. Because teaching has to be, hands down, the best job in the world. And I believe this for fully selfish reasons. (by the way feel free to remind me of this post in October when I'm ready to tear my hair out over standardized testing :)

When my 8th graders came at the beginning of the year, I had not gotten good reports on them from the 7th grade teachers. I was pretty guarded when they came into my room. And, yeah. They were a rough bunch. Behavior issues, motivation issues, all of it. They frustrated me. They upset me. They were the biggest challenge I've had in my three years of teaching (and I used to work at an alternative school...). The behavior wasn't the big issue though. It was motivation. Apathy. Getting them to see how incredibly smart they were, and what amazing things could happen if they would open their minds and apply those smarts to what we were doing in class, and outside of it.

Anyway, to make a long story short, they got it. They did. They grew so much this year and they completely blew my expectations out of the water. I watched them change, think, interact. I heard the ideas that they had and the questions that they asked and in February I thought to myself, "Oh my God....they got it. They've got it. They've figured it out." And they did! And yeah sure there were still a lot of rough days, because, well, it's teaching. But I knew they had it. I knew it. 

And in the last week I realized how much I don't want them to graduate. I mean, I do, but I'm genuinely so sad that my time with them is finished. 

So that leads me to promotion. If you've read The Hunger Games, you know what the three-finger salute is. Basically, it looks like this:


Everyone holds out their left hand, with the three middle fingers up together. To quote the book, "It means thanks, it means admiration, respect, and good-bye to a loved one."

In case you didn't know, I'm a HUUUUUUUGE HG fan. I have taught all three books for three years straight and the kids at school tend to know me the Hunger Games teacher because they know how much I love it and by the time we finish reading the books in class I have successfully converted all of them into addicts as well!

Well. At some point this week (maybe today...I'm not exactly sure) my kids decided they were going to do this for me during the promotion ceremony, because they all know that I'm moving. So they organized it with the help of our wonderful math teacher, and during the promotion, they all stood up and saluted me. And...I lost it. I tried not to cry outwardly too much but I was so shocked and caught off guard and it was just AMAZING.

Highlight of my teaching career, for sure. Nothing they could have said or done would have meant as much to me as that gesture. It was powerful for me. And it made me realize why I love teaching, and there is just one huge, selfish reason: It makes me feel so damn good.

I've really struggled the last year with whether or not I want to continue teaching with this big move. I've thought off and on about getting into fitness as my career, but even if that did happen I know it probably wouldn't be soon, because I need to finish getting my certifications. Anyway, with all of the complaining I do, it's the stuff like this that solidifies my career choice and makes me realize that there's nothing I would rather be doing. In all three years I don't think I've gotten more hugs, more tears, more loving comments from my students than tonight. I've never felt so much like I made a difference. I do pride myself on being a good teacher, I know that I am, but tonight really made me realize how lucky I am to be able to work with kids. Having a 14 year old tell you that you made them love reading, that you were the best teacher they've had, that you "get them", and that they couldn't have made it through the year without you...those are probably the most rewarding things I've ever heard in my life. And the things they told me tonight made me completely forget about Steven, my breakup, my impending move. All I could think was, "How did I get this lucky to have these kids?"

I'm a BIG believer in things happening for a reason. Coming to Tucson, leaving Tucson, teaching, dating Steven for 5 years, getting Rodney, breaking up with Steven, all of these things happened for a reason. I'm also a big believer in timing. I think yoga came into my life EXACTLY when I needed it the most, I think the people I have met in Arizona all came in right when they were supposed to.... And so one of my kids said to me tonight, "Miss, I couldn't have made it through this year without you". And it really made me think. It made me think about how much fun I had this year with them. And how much I laughed with them, and how sometimes I would come in to school in a terrible mood because of the shit going on at home with Steven and when they came into my room they would immediately come say hi to me, high five me, put a smile on my face, and just turn my mood around. And it really made me realize that I had these kids this year for a reason. I probably couldn't have gotten through the year without them. Last year I even considered teaching at a high school in Tucson for this year because of the amazing reputation the school has...and I just couldn't. I couldn't leave the middle school kids...and then I got these kids. At exactly the right time, right when I needed them.

This is way long and emotional and I know it's pretty sappy. I'm not saying this year was perfect at school. It was the toughest, most challenging year for me so far. But I really think that's why what my kids did and said to me today and tonight meant even more to me. We worked really hard to get here....and now I have these wonderful memories to remember them by. And I learned from them. They changed me. I feel so different than I felt a year ago. And now I have a renewed energy and passion for what I do...it's always been there but today, I am feeling all of the benefits of the hard work I and my kids put in this year. Teaching is hands down the most rewarding job in the world. I'm so grateful for every single one of my students and for all they have done for me. 

Tonight is a night of reflection for me. This isn't where I saw myself at 26 (my bday is next week!) but as my birthday approaches I'm realizing how much I have to be grateful for. I have family and friends that love me, I'm healthy and happy. I have a positive outlook on life, I am dedicated to my job and my hobbies. I've got kids that love and appreciate me, and I'm in a situation where I can go wherever I want and be whoever I want to be and find more students to inspire and influence. I'm SO LUCKY and I think it's really important for me to get this stuff out (even though it is a wee bit sappy) for me to reflect on when things get tough. 

Thanks to you if you read this whole post! And if your'e one of my kids who found my blog (or one of the few who have been reading it for months now- Marcus, I mean you) thank you so much for everything you did for me this year, and I can't wait to hear about all the great things you guys go on to do in the future!