Friday, August 29, 2014

My next adventure awaits in Bali!


I'm so excited I love traveling to South East Asia! I went to Bali when I was only 10 years old so I don't remember anything. The name 'Bali,' means a fierce warrior.

I read the book Eat, Pray, Love years ago and then saw the movie and it inspired me to want to go back to this beautiful country! I loved the scene where Julia Roberts is biking through the countryside, that is definitely something I want to do passing by rice paddies. I'd like to visit beautiful temples, eat some delicious vegetarian food, take yoga classes in an open air studio, relax on the beach and get some spa treatments. I took surfing lessons in Hawaii so maybe I'll try kite surfing in Bali or watch night surfing. There's no direct flight to Bali so my choices for a layover include Qatar, Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore, or Bangkok. What would you pick? I went with Bangkok, this will be my fourth trip there! It'll be a 22 hour flight to get there.


I've been shopping for maxi dresses because your legs have to be covered at Hindu Temples in Bali.
The dresses also need to be light clothing in natural, breathable fabrics, nothing that will wrinkle when I sit down and sweat. So I'm slowing building up a wardrobe for this trip. I'll also be packing lot of insect repellent with me!

I read that one of the great joys of life is having something to look forward to.  So I'm using a countdown app to countdown the days to my vacation. This season the Real Housewives of OC vacationed in Bali which made me more excited to go! Tamra and Heather bicycled through the rice paddies, the girls got fish pedicures, took an elephant ride and visited the monkey forest.








Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pina Colada Popsicles


I used to make the most awesome frothy and rich pina coladas from scratch. However in watching my calories I haven't made it in a few years so I thought I'd make a pina colada popsicle instead. This recipe only requires three ingredients and is super easy, healthy but creamy.  The key is to not let the pineapple overwhelm the batter. To cut back on sugar I use Ideal sugar for all my recipes.  If you don't have Ideal you can use banana to sweeten this recipe, I'm just not a big fan of bananas and always think they ruin any smoothie they are in. Other good additives are rum but just a tad because it doesn't freeze well. Or you could use rum extract, coconut extract if you don't taste enough coconut in these. For an added kick add some ginger beer.

Ingredients

  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 cups chopped pineapple 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Blend all ingredients together in a blender, until smooth.
  2. Pour into popsicle molds, and freeze.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cherry Vanilla Popsicles


It's cherry season and I've really gotten into eating them since I bought a cherry pitter. I've made this recipe a few times now as it's become one of my favorites. I've tried it with honey but thought the honey's taste was too strong for this recipe. I've also done half and half with coconut milk for a richer taste. The vanilla is the key ingredient, don't forget it, and taste your batter to make sure it's flavored perfectly before freezing in your molds. Don't use vanilla yogurt, it has added sugar in it. You can add a drop of liquid stevia to this if it's still not sweet enough for you.

Ingredients
  • 1 cup fresh cherries, pits removed 
  • 2 cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt 
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds 
  3. Freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight

Recipe Source: thechicbrulee

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sesame Veggie Stir Fry




I've been eating tofu since high school and thus am very particular of its taste. I used to freeze tofu to get a firm texture. Then recently I started baking tofu to get it to be chewy.  I've tried many brands of tofu over the years and now only use Twin Oaks because they've already squeezed out all the water for me and it's the firmest tofu I've tasted on the market. It's grown on a farm in Virginia from organic, non-GMO soybeans. It my favorite brand because of the wonderful taste straight out of the package, it's like nothing else on the market. I came across this recipe which has been a game changer for me. So for those of you who say you would never eat tofu or didn't like, you must try this recipe with Twin Oaks tofu (available at Whole Foods). The key to delicious tofu is marinating it in a sauce overnight. You can find toasted sesame oil at Trader Joe's, it's absolutely delicious and you only need a little bit.

You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand for this. I found that half a head of red cabbage yielded a ton of food, while still being so low in calories. I made this recipe with quinoa, but you can use any carb that you prefer. I measured dry what 5 servings would be and cooked according to the directions, then I divided equally between my glass containers to take to work. Likewise I divided equally the package of tofu which coincidentally is 5 servings among my containers. For the protein and carbs I felt I needed to eat exactly one serving of but I freely added vegetables making one huge plate at work. I always make my lunch for work on Sundays because it's so easy to just pull out the fridge every morning my lunch ready to go.


Ingredients
1 container extra-firm tofu
Quinoa
Broccoli, florets
1 red bell pepper, chopped
½ head  purple cabbage, chopped
carrots
1/4 cup tamari sauce (or soy sauce)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
juice from 1 lime
1 large clove garlic, minced
½  teaspoon fresh ginger, minced 
Couple dashes black pepper
dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
sesame oil (for frying)
toasted sesame oil (for flavor)
black sesame seeds 

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together tamari sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes.
  2. Chop tofu into chunks and  add to bowl with marinade. I prefer to let this sit overnight flipping the bowl around a few times.
  3. Pour 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a  large pan and turn on heat to medium-high. When pan is hot, remove tofu from bowl (draining the sauce and saving for later) and brown tofu on all sides until golden. The tofu will not brown if you poured the sauce into the pan. 
  4. Once tofu is golden brown (after about 6 minutes), remove from pan and set aside on a plate. Add sesame seeds to the tofu and flavor with a little toasted sesame seed oil.
  5. Next cook your vegetables, once done flavor with your remaining sauce from the tofu.
  6. Serve veggies and tofu over quinoa.


Nutritional Analysis
368 cal, 22g protein, 11g fiber


Here's my lunch at work when I dump the food out of my containers into a plate. Can you believe this is just one serving of food? When you spread the more nutritious food to cover your plate it looks visually full, so eat as many healthy vegetables as you can.

Recipe Source: theglowingfridge



Monday, August 25, 2014

Cucumber Spa Popsicles


One of my favorite things about spas is cucumber infused water! Cucumbers have a high water content and are moist and help cool you in the summertime. I packed some in my bag for the beachDid you know that kiwi has more potassium than a banana, one kiwi has more Vitamin C than an orange, contains tons of fiber, and enhances energy levels too. Kiwis are my mother's favorite fruit and I used them in my chia pudding recipe. These popsicles are healthier and cheaper than store bought popsicles, plus I use reusable sticks! The food for these 5 popcicles cost me only $2.48 plus the sugar (I use Ideal no calorie sugar). You should always taste the mixture as you go to determine how sweet you want yours. I've made these a second time adding a cup of green grapes instead of water and lemon juice and it was as sweet as candy!

ps you could add some Moscato to these popsicles if you wanted, just saying...


Ingredients
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 Kiwi
  • 2.5 TB lemon juice
  • Zest of ½ a lemon
  • 2.5 TB Ideal
  • ½ cup cold water
  • pinch of salt (optional)
Directions
  1. Peel strips off the cucumber leaving on about half of the of the dark green skin.  
  2.  Zest the lemon. 
  3. Mix all the ingredients together in a blender  
  4. Taste and adjust sweetness & saltiness. 
  5. Pour into popsicle  molds and freeze overnight.

Makes 5 popsicles

Linking Up With: Sunday Edition

Friday, August 22, 2014

Which Kitchen Gadgets Are Worth the Money?

I know there's so many gadgets out there that you think what's the point, the old fashioned way works just fine. Well let me tell you these gadgets get a lot of use of me and make things so easy!

I've been eating so many cherries this summer because of this pitter. It's just so much enjoyable to throw a pitted cherry into your mouth so all you focus on is enjoying the flavor instead of fishing out the seed with your teeth. I've been eating a lot of cherry topped oatmeal so this makes it easy for me to prep the cherries for it.


I bought this lime squeezer for a party I was throwing to make margaritas easy but I've found that I use this very often. A lot of recipes call for half a lime and this makes it an easy squeeze. If I cut a lemon in half I can also use it in this. My favorite lime recipes are cilantro lime salad dressing and this alcohol free cocktail.

Yes I could cut the top off a strawberry but once you try this tool that makes it quick, easy, and pulls the hole thing out you'll want to use it all the time! 


I use this container to store cut lemons in my fridge.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Orange Creamsicles


Remember those delicious Orange Creamsicles from your childhood? Here's a healthy recipe to make them. It's even creamier if you add some coconut milk to it!

Ingredients
2 cups unsweetened orange juice
3/4 cup plain Greek Yogurt
2 TB raw Agave Nectar
¼ ts vanilla extract
5 tall drops of liquid stevia

Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Taste mixture and adjust sweetener as needed.
  3. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for 6 hours or overnight.

Makes 6 popsicles




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Stylebook


I've completed my 31 Day Closet Challenge and had fun shopping my closet doing so. My goal was to not buy any clothes for a month and I only cheated once when the Autumn Mustard collection went on sale. I used the Stylebook app to keep track of what I was wearing every day to make sure I didn't repeat any outfits to work for a month. I challenged myself to wear all dresses. It's been said before but I've never met an app more perfect for me than Stylebook! It's the best $4 I've spent on an app! 

Stylebook has inspired me to wear things I had forgotten all about. I love having a photo catalog of my closet! Remember when I remodeled my shoe closet? Well I took a picture of all of my shoes to catalog into the app and discovered that I hardly wear any of them. I put my shoes into this bookcase so I could see them because there's no point in having a lot of something if you're not using it. Now I'm thinking about donating half of them and gradually getting new pieces that fit my style better. The app also calculated how often an item of clothing has been worn which is something that will help me purge of unworn items.                                                                                                                                                   I love planning, organizing, making lists, and taking pictures of outfits. You may think it's a bit overwhelming to photograph your closet, but I've done so slowly. The shoes I did one evening while watching a movie, I set up a backdrop to do so. For the clothes, I do it daily, I photograph just the outfit I'm wearing that day. One quick snap then some editing later in the day. The app categorizes all of my clothes by tops, bottoms, accessories, etc and then later you can search by color! When you buy something new, you can just take the picture from the store's website (however I've found that the app makes those pictures smaller than one you take yourself). 

This is exactly what I will be needing when making packing lists for vacations! Previously I used to take pictures of me wearing every outfit but now everything is already categorized in my phone so its much easier to play stylist. 

The app only works on iphones and ipads. The tech supports answers questions quickly plus if you follow them on facebook they often post tips on better photography. If you're worried the app will take a lot of space on your phone they said that "Stylebook optimizes your images to fit on your device. Even closets with over 100 items can fit in less than 200MB." I highly recommend you download this app!


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Face Contouring


When I was in Los Angeles I visited the NARS makeup store and saw they had a new contour blush. Later I checked out the videos on their website on how to apply cheek contouring which led me to research what's the best brush to use for this which lead me back to MAC. All my makeup brushes are from MAC and any makeup artist will tell you that the brush makes the makeup artist. The experts say that cheaper brushes really are just that, the quality, how it feels on your skin, and the shedding. I own the 168 Large Angled Contour Brush and the 129 Blush Brush and use NYX brush cleaner.

I spent a couple evenings watching makeup tutorials on youtube and honestly I haven't done that in years because I've really perfected my eye makeup look so I just haven't had a need to look back. I know eyeshadow looks go in trends so I try to keep up my style with what's popular at the moment just by seeing what other women do, switching up my look just staying fresh. If you ever end up with a broken eyeshadow check out this tutorial on how to fix cracked eyeshadow.

Kim Kardashian made cheek contouring popular because that's her signature look - the high cheekbones, but anyone can have that look with the right makeup. I bought this contour kit from Anastasia the famous brow makeup artist but you're in luck, groupon has this on sale for half price!


KimK wears a lot of foundation (on top of this), but I don't even own any. So here's my condensed version of how to do this look. I don't do the whole under eye concealer like she does because I find it hard to do right and always ends up looking too white (on myself and others).

You really do need a contouring brush to do this because it's more narrow. I start with a good face moisturizer, I find it helps hold my makeup better. Then you pick one of the brown shades from the compact, based on your skin shade. Next suck your cheeks in and draw a line where you cheeks naturally suck in.  I use L'Oreal Magic Lumi Highlighter at the top of my cheekbone for my highlighter. It's an awesome drugstore find! Then I apply my blush in the area in between the brown line and the highlighter. Finally I use the middle yellow powder on top of the highlighter. I use a sponge to blend it all together. It's pretty simple to do!




Monday, August 18, 2014

Weekend Edition



Beach, sand, sunshine, summertime, can't believe we're halfway through August already. I went to Ocean City beach this weekend with a group of friends and had so much fun! A lot of firsts happened on this trip: my first visit to this beach, ran 4 miles on the boardwalk, practiced yoga on the sand and played beach volleyball (something I've been wanting to do for a long time)! All of those were amazing experiences! There were 40 of us and we had the stereo set up on the beach blasting out music! I felt a sense of stillness that surrounded me and how it soothed my soul, it's nice to just appreciate the simpler things in life, better than any retail therapy. Some people smoked hookah, drank shots and played twister on the beach. I got some reading in while eating all the healthy snacks I packed.  



Even though I put on sunblock and wore my Panama hat, I still managed to get sunburned. The weather was only 80 degrees but it felt like it was 100. And then we got a short surprise shower but the funny part was when I looked straight up at the sky I saw blue, no clouds! It was the weirdest thing ever!  lol  I came home feeling relaxed with lots of wonderful memories. On the drive home I watched the sunset straight ahead as we crossed tall bridges and then saw fireworks. It was the best day ever!


that's my empty towel in the middle






Friday, August 15, 2014

How to Turn a Scarf into a Vest


I bought this gorgeous gold foil dot scarf on clearance at  New York & Company last month. I stumbled upon this genius idea someone came up with to make your scarves into vests. This way you make your scarves more versatile for you by providing light support against cool breezes yet don't take up much space when say packing for a vacation. This picture of me was taken on a windy summer day.

It took me a couple tries to get the hang of it but all you do is fold the scarf in half lengthwise, then grab the top two corners and tie it into a small knot.  Here's a youtube video that will give you a visual.

If you're looking to buy some new scarves, here are some suggestions all under $50. 

Summer Scarves




Thursday, August 14, 2014

Grapefruit Rosemary Popsicles


Ruby Red Grapefruit has always been one of my favorite fruits! These taste absolutely amazing! I think grapefruit gets a bad rap for being a sour fruit, but if you remove all the white pith around the flesh all you will taste is sweetness. Grapefruit is high in Vitamins A & C and is a metabolism booster. I peel grapefruits like I do oranges and eat them that way. After my coconut peach popsicles, I wanted something else exotic and the rosemary added the perfect flavor compliment to this!  If you don't have a juicer you can make this in your blender but really take the time to section the grapefruit and remove as much of the white pith that you can.

I made this recipe twice with different no calorie sweeteners, once with Ideal sugar and once with Zsweet which I've used in other recipes. I found that Ideal really lives up to its claims of acting like sugar, because it melted properly in the water unlike the zsweet and thus both batches of popsicles came out tasting different. You can read here why I don't use splenda. I like to make small batches of popsicles so I can change flavors often. Also I've found that depending on the size of the fruit I use my recipes make different volumes and your popsicle molds may be smaller than mine so it's not an exact science.

Ingredients
  • 1 large ruby red grapefruit. 
  • ¼ cup Ideal Sugar
  • 2 TB water
  • 1 ts fresh rosemary leaves
Directions
  1. Peel the grapefruit and puree in your blender. 
  2. Combine sugar, water and rosemary in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves and bring to a boil, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse and cool for 30 minutes. 
  4. Remove the rosemary from the water and mix the rosemary infused water with the grapefruit juice in your blender. (This is the most important step, if you don't cook it look enough you will get no rosemary flavor)
  5. Pour into popsicle molds. Check back in one hour because the water and grapefruit juice separate in the molds so be sure to mix them up again sticking a knife into the molds.
  6. Freeze the popsicles for 6 hours or overnight. 
Nutritional Analysis:
Makes 3 or 4 popsicles
63 cal, 5g sugar (from the grapefruit)

ps you could add vodka or St. Germain liquor to these popsicles if you wanted, just saying...


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Summer Running Playlist



Need some music to help you run faster and power your run? I chose some fun songs that motivate me to run faster. This playlist is a mix of dance of music except the first song which is hip-hop and my most motivating song to pick up speed to. I'm a slow runner, I run a 5.5mph or  according to my Nike+ app a 10'44/mi. If you don't have this app you should get it, it's really been pushing me to run more and walk less resulting in burning more calories. 

ps like my new shoes? lol They're Nike LunarGlide 5 that I couldn't believe I got on sale! I switched out the insoles for the Superfeet that I wrote about in this post


Migos - Fight Night
John Legend - All of Me Tiesto Remix
Magic - Rude
Jeremih - Don't Tell 'Em
3LAU & Bright Lights - How You Love Me 
Afrojack & Wrabel - Ten Feet Tall 
Avicii - Addicted to You
Calvin Harris - Summer 
Lana Del Rey & Cedric Gervais - Summertime Sadness
DJ Sammy - The Boys of Summer
Global DJs - What a Feelin
Naughty Boy -  La La La
Christina Perri - Human
Metro Station - Shake It

Also check out the  reggae playlist I made back in April. This $4 speaker is the best investment I've made! 
I was at a bbq and we were all sitting around chatting and decided we needed some music. But we couldn't hear the music from our phones over the chatter. So I bought this speaker that is just a plastic shell, it's a genius invention! It totally ramps up the volume and good for bike rides too. It shipped from China but only took 10 days to get here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Glo Run - race recap



The highlight of my weekend was running the Glo Run with the same friends I ran the Color Me Rad race with. I was curious how the Glo Run would compare to the Electric Run I ran last year. Both have loud music, bright flashing lights, glow in the dark stuff, and night time running. I’m not someone who normally runs in the dark, but this being my second night time race, I have to say I enjoyed running in the cool evening breeze. The afternoon of the race the forecast for the evening was supposed to be heavy rain, but it cleared up by race time and it was a pleasantly cool August evening in the low 80s without humidity.


I was pretty excited to sign up for a race in the city, however they made the packet pickup location 30 minutes away in the suburbs, not even near the subway line. Pretty inconvenient. When I arrived at the race I saw a lot of people were picking up their packets there, and then had to return back to their car to drop off the bag and change their shirt. Oh and they charged $15 for parking on top of the race price.

The swag for the Glo Run included a pretty cool reusable bag, the option of a neon pink or grey t-shirt and sunglasses (which no one wore). At the race we received 2 glow necklaces and 1 glow sunglasses.

It was really strange having the entire day ahead of me on Saturday. So I went to the movies and saw The Hundred Foot Journey. I took the subway to the race which was kind of awkward because everyone was staring at me wearing this bright outfit and probably thinking to themselves who has a race at night? lol The race started at 8:40pm and took place in a parking lot that was pretty well lit which I was happy about because the Electric Run was done in a mixed terrain area and I was worried about tripping in the dark.


Many people got creative with their outfits with tutus and neon pants/tights. One man dressed up as Madea! It was fun to look at what everyone came up with. The DJ was blasting fun tunes and getting the party started. They didn’t have an official photographer but told us to use their hashtag so they could find it to make a video out of it. We had fun taking a bunch of ridiculous pictures with the cool stuff that was set up. The race did not start in waves (5 minute intervals between groups) like other fun races I’ve done so we started off walking because there was so many people.



I thought the Electric Run had more glow stuff on the race course then the Glo Run did. The water station on the run was at the .75 mile mark, I would have preferred it been in the middle of the run. Still I jogged my way through some pretty awesome tunnels where they had a bubble machine, laser light shows bounced off the ceilings and strobe lights flashed to music. The volunteers cheered us on at every corner. This was definitely a fun run/walk with lots of families so it was a slow moving crowd, and I managed to finish in 32 minutes. When the race ended it wasn't clear that they even had water, until after awhile I heard the DJ say where to find it. We grabbed some free snacks - Nature Valley bars and Welch's gummy fruit snacks. There were food trucks there and the popular ones were the funnel cake and pizza trucks, not exactly healthy food options after burning calories. One thing to consider is even though they had a bunch of port-a-potties there, its pitch dark inside it at night so you won’t be able to use them.






Overall the Glo Run was a fun experience and I’d probably do it again. Although next time I’d get some glow in the dark face paint and shoe laces. After the race I went home and showered, and headed out to a birthday party! 



After a weak performance at the Color in Motion 5K  in April, I had been training hard for this race this summer with my running essentials, new workout clothes, and indispensable hair products. Tomorrow I'll post my summer running playlist. It's funny how I've evolved to become a runner. In September last year I said in this post:
I know that the treadmill will never, ever fully prepare you for running outside so on my fourth run I ventured outside because it was such nice weather. However I was reminded why I enjoy running inside: it was too distracting having everyone stare at me. lol The run felt so much longer and harder. I had to keep pushing myself to get through it and maintain a slow steady pace. I was thankful for every stop light and was super careful when crossing the street with my earphones in as just a month ago I read about a jogger that was hit by a bus. At one point I was so excited to see a water fountain that someone was drinking from until I got up close and found it had bird droppings all over it. #fail If I ever run outside again (highly doubtful) I need a handheld water bottle. That evening, despite stretching, my thighs hurt when I tried to sit down as if I had done a zillion squats.
In April this year I wrote a review about the handheld water bottle I started using. lol

Advice I wrote from the Color Me Rad race:
Have a small backpack or fanny pack to keep your belongings in. I ran with a plastic bag that contained my purse, not too convenient. lol 
Yes I wore a stylish fanny pack for this run that actually is worn on my back, which I took off for all pictures. lol Actually on the way there a drunk man on the subway carrying a wig inquired if I was wearing a fanny pack as if it was some offense. lol 

So if you're a beginner runner, have no fear, sign up for a themed run to get you started! If you need inspiration to run, check out this book I read titled Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run written by a British woman who just started running in her 30s.






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