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Thriving Thursday: Magic Water

Every morning I wake up and have a warm glass of this Magic Water. It boosts my immune system, detoxifies my digestive tract, balances my alkaline, and starts me on the track towards a hydrated day. It was recommended to me by my naturopath last year and I didn’t bring it into my normal routine until last month.

Ok, ok, I know you’re itching to hear it what it is … LEMON WATER! Believe it or not, lemon water provides all of the following benefits:

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1. Balances your pH. Most modern humans are horribly acidic. They absorb all the toxins in the air and food and it provides the perfect environment for diseases and other problems to grow. An acidic body is ripe breeding ground for inflammation, allergies, arthritis, skin problems, depression, digestive problems, stress, and chronic disease. Although the lemon is acidic, when metabolized by your body, it has an alkaline effect. For more info on the value of an alkaline body, check this site.

2. Detoxifies your digestive tract. Lemon is a natural diurectic meaning it make you pee! More urination clears toxins and unwanted material from your body. Warm water stimulates your digestive muscles and helps the solids flow more freely (if you know what I mean).

3. Detoxifies your blood (and skin). Lemon juice promotes the function of your liver, the organ that cleans your body. In the long run, this means cleaner blood. Happy, clean blood makes it harder for diseases to spread and helps the skin and hair stay healthier and clearer.

4. Boosts your immune system and other intangibles. Lemons are full of Vitamin C (anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, immune system booster), potassium (stimulates brain and nerve function), Vitamin B (energy production, tissue repair, growth, and development) and important minerals that help build strong bones and teeth. STOP. wait. read this paragraph again…

5. Keeps your mouth busy.  Lemon juice is full of pectin fiber and will keep you full for a few hours. This means I can start my day off with lemon water and Grainless Granola and don’t get hungry until about 5 hours later. Pretty incredible. Also, as mentioned above, the lemon juice stimulates your liver. A slow running liver makes for slow metabolism but a quick and healthy liver means move over Beyonce, I’m slimming down!

6. Keeps you off the bad stuff. Throughout the morning many of us need a pick-me-up. When I drink the Magic Water, I no longer need a coffee or even a cup of tea. For those of us drinking coffee (or energy drinks) laden with sugar and dairy, Magic Water can be a great option.

There’s no way you’re not convinced by now, so here’s what you do.

Instructions

  1. Fill an 8oz glass with warm water. I do 1/2 cold water then 1/2 boiling water because the water in Peoria is no good.
  2. Squeeze 1/2 a (real) lemon into the water. Fake lemon can have sulfites.
  3. Stir and drink up!

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You can bring it to work, you can drink it while you’re getting ready, just factor it into your routine!

Sources
My Naturopath – Dr. Kelly Austin of California Natural Health
http://factslist.net/2013/01/why-you-should-drink-lemon-water-in-the-morning/
http://www.livestrong.com/article/215380-drinking-hot-water-lemon-in-the-morning/
http://lajollamom.com/2011/01/drink-warm-lemon-water-in-the-morning/

 

Workout Wednesday: Don’t Eat Too Soon Beforehand

Happy Wednesday Ya’ll! I had a smoothie way too close to the beginning of this workout and it threatened to come up for 20 minutes after I was done. Whoops! So just make sure you have a relatively clear belly and are ready to work those muscles until they fatigue!

Beginner through intermediate (12 minutes)

– 20 seconds on/ 20 seconds off

– each exercise 3 times in a row

Advanced (16 minutes)

– 30 seconds on/ 10 seconds off

– each exercise 4 times in a row

Exercises:

LowJacks1LowJacks2

 1. low jacks

TriDip

2. tri dips (beginner-bent legs, advanced-straight legs)

PlieSquat

3. plie squat

crunches

4. crunches (feet on the ground, legs 90°, or legs straight in the air)

MountainClimber

5. mountain climbers

PushUp

6. pushups

+ Fit Minute. Choose one of the following exercises. Do it for a full minute at 100% effort. Count how many you do and record it. We’ll be doing these after every workout from now on:

  • Level 1 – side to side steps or jumping jacks
  • Level 2 – push ups
  • Level 3 – burpees

I hope you all have wonderful Wednesdays! 🙂

 

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato fries. I’ve only had them once or twice in restaurants but I ALWAYS love them. So when I saw this post from Snack Girl, I figured I’d try it. Holy Bajolies these things are good. I did it a tiny bit differently from Snack Girl’s original recipe so here is my version:

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We ate them with Santa Fe style scrambled eggs: eggs, almond milk, red pepper, spinach. Then salsa and avocado on top. YUM.

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Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (yams)
  • coconut oil or grapeseed oil (because it’s high heat)
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Peel sweet potatoes then cut them into thin lengths. The thinner the cuts, the more crispy and delicious the fries.
  3. Lay out the sweet potato in single layers on the baking sheets.
  4. Sprinkle them with oil then with all the spices. Be conservative with the spices.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes then grab some tongs (or burn your fingers) and flip every fry. Continue cooking for 5-10 minutes or until the fries are golden brown.
  6. Enjoy!

Ashley Life Update: It’s snowing here again! The second storm in a week! Since I can work from home most mornings and my workouts are all here too, I’m loving this. I can just sit at our dining table, working and looking at the pretty snow 🙂

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“The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food”

I’m not the only blogger or author writing about health, wellness, and design. There are others; thousands of others. Sometimes it makes me feel tiny and insignificant but then I realize: this is awesome! These people are so passionate about health and wellness that they take the time (a lot of it) to research and educate others.

Their articles are interesting and, a lot of times, align perfectly with subjects that I’d like all you to know. I consider myself a source of information, motivations, and amusement for you guys. So … from now on, Monday posts will be articles (or links to articles) written by other people.

I don’t want you to think I’m copping out. I love writing for you guys. But if someone else wrote it better than I ever could, why don’t we boost that person’s traffic and feedback instead?

So here is my first Spread The Knowledge repost. Mike passed it on to me after one of his marathon internet-learning sessions. I was hesitant to use it as my first repost because it is LONG. But even if you only read the first page or two, it will be worth it. It is dense with hard-earned research. Michael Moss gave me information that I never would have known without his intensive detective work. I’m impressed. The article has changed the way I think about the Standard Westernized Diet. It’s awesome. So just read it.

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food 

– Michael Moss (New York Times)

Special Happy Birthday

I don’t usually post on Saturdays but today is a special day. It is the birthday of my Mom AND my best friend. So I had to let the world know that these two amazing women are turning another year older and wiser.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM AND TISH!

You are two of the most supportive, influential, and inspiring women in my life. I couldn’t chose two better women to become my backbone. I love you both SO much.

Also…here’s a little extra happy for your birthday 🙂

SexyMan2

DIY Friday: Cheap and Easy Framing

Large picture frames are expensive. Sometimes you can find deals in standard sizes but when you have a photo or poster of weird dimensions, forget it. Custom frames can cost $100+. So when I found this sweet wrapping paper (yes it’s supposed to be wrapping paper) at Paper Source, I bought it and decided to figure a creative way to frame it. Another cool thing is that the wood is heavy so it weighs down the poster and keeps it straight.

Tip: when you take it off the wall to move, all you have to do is roll it up! And use this for multiple frames. It’s really easy to do once you collect the materials.

Total cost (including the “poster”)$15

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Materials:

  • A poster worthy of framing
  • 1/4″ x 1″ trim, the length of your poster
  • wood stain and a brush (optional, you can keep it raw wood)
  • 8-10 flat thumbtacks
  • 4-6 wire brads (skinny nails)

Instructions

  1. If you don’t have a saw at home, when you buy the wood, ask the hardware store to cut it for you. With only 2 or 3 cuts, they usually do it for free.
  2. Optional: Stain the wood. Let it dry in open air before proceeding.
  3. Pin the top and bottom of the poster to the back of the wood.
  4. Nail it into the wall with the brads.
  5. Admire your handy work 🙂

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Let me know how it goes. Or just send me a photo! 🙂

Thriving Thursday: Zucchini Boats

Grains and sugars before bed are bad. Grains hit your tongue and turn into sugar. Sugar is digested and stored in your body until you use it. If you don’t it turns into fat. In that vain, I’ve been trying to cut pasta and other grains out of our dinner plates and limit the amount of dessert I have. How do you make a delicious dinner with a base of vegetables rather than pasta??

Most of the recipes I have posted fulfill this requirement but Zucchini Boats are some of my favorite. (check out the panel at the top of this page for “recipes”) Zucchini Boats are fun to make, really tasty, and the name is just awesome. I adapted this recipe from my Maximized Living Nutrition Plan book.

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Zucchini Boats (2-4 servings, I doubled it for the next night)

Ingredients (As many organic as possible! Especially the meat)

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 3/4 lb ground turkey
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Butter or line a baking pan with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. Trim the ends of the zucchini then cut them in half lengthwise.
  3. Scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/2″ thick shell. Chop the pulp.
  4. Over medium-high heat, cook zucchini pulp, ground turkey, onion, mushroom, and peppers. For about 10 minutes, until meat is brown. Drain the juice.
  5. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well.
  6. If you’re saving some for tomorrow, seal up half the boats in a glass container (or plastic if you must)
  7. Place the remaining shells in the baking pan. Spoon the mix into all the zucchini shells.
  8. Bake the boats for 20 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

 

Workout Wednesday: Post New Year Blues

Are you getting them? The feeling at multiple points in the day of “Ugh, I just don’t want to get out of bed, or make the drive to work, and now I have to workout?!”

Yes, yes. I’m right there with you. After so many wonderful holidays for the last 2 months, reality is hitting hard. My day-to-day life is actually pretty awesome. I’m fortunate enough to have a comfortable and interesting existence, but sometimes I just don’t want to get out of bed!

Then I workout. My energy comes back, my mood is lifted. And I get to dance around in my pajamas for my warm up. And all that mood-boosting only take 16 minutes. So I will now post this workout and go do it! The blues only get you down if you let it happen.

Beginner through intermediate (12 minutes)

– 20 seconds on/ 20 seconds off

– each exercise 3 times in a row

Advanced (16 minutes)

– 30 seconds on/ 10 seconds off

– each exercise 4 times in a row

Exercises:

High Knees

1. high knees (advanced: higher knees, quicker steps)

SquatSideKick

2. squat kicks (advanced: with weight held over your head)

RussianTwist

3. russian twist (beginner: with feet on ground)

Fire Hydrants

4. fire hydrant (switch sides half-way through each interval)

Lunge

5. speed lunges (small, quick bends w/ feet locked in place. switch sides halfway through interval)

plank(better)

6. plank (with kicks if you can)

Let me know how it goes. I hope you’re having a wonderful day 🙂

 

Tasty Tuesday: Gran’s Veggie Soup

Have you ever tried to make soup? The ingredient list can be long but the process is so easy! Soup is delicious (especially in the winter), freezable, and cuts way back on the dishes. I encourage anyone with a big pot and cutting board to try it. This specific recipe is from my Gran.

My Gran is incredibly healthy. She could kick my tail in the gym and sticks to eating mostly veggies and other deliciousness that keeps her immune system rock solid. She’s definitely an example for me and where I want my health to be over the next couple decades.

A few weeks ago she sent me this recipe. It’s for a low-heat Veggie Soup. It doesn’t look that yummy but I made a massive batch and Mike and I have been guzzling it down. So tasty!

Gran’s tips: If you can, buy organic pre-cut veggies or bring in some extra help (in the form of a boyfriend or husband?); the chopping can take a long time. Cook a double batch and freeze the extras for soup next week!

So without further ado, here it is:

VeggieSoup

Gran’s Veggie Soup (6 servings)

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 small carrot
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups veggie or chicken stock
  • 2 lbs broccoli
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1/8 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 5 oz spinach, fresh
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom (only buy what you need, it’s $79 a lb!)
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Chop up the onions, carrot, broccoli, and tomato into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Cook water, onions, carrot, and garlic in a large pot over low heat for 10 minutes, until wilted.
  3. Add the stock, broccoli, tomatoes, and parsley. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Add the spinach and all spices. Cook for 1 minute then remove from heat.
  5. Let cool for 5 minutes then blend/puree everything.
  6. Return it to the pot. Add lemon and serve it warm.
  7. Enjoy!

Thanks for this one Gran! Everyone else, let me know how it goes 🙂

 

Marvelous Monday: Hot Dogs, Museum, and a Luxury Hotel

Living in a relatively small city immediately after graduation was (and still is) a big shock to me. It’s not because of the different types of people and it’s not even because I’m far from home, it’s the lack of variation! I realized it when I was walking around Chicago this weekend. No one stares at me because I have short hair and am wearing a gorgeous red coat. I know this sounds hyperbolic but I’m totally serious. I’ve found myself toning down my level of “urban” and it wasn’t until this weekend that I fully realized it.

Needless to say, it was wonderfully liberating to be in Chicago again this weekend. I met my best friend in the entire world, Sarah. She flew from North Carolina to meet me and, of course, it was epic. Somehow, when we get together, we manage to find the most incredible deals on some really swanky experiences. So instead of writing it all down, I’ll show you some photos!

*Credit to Sarah for most of the photos. Pick them out by spotting the good ones.*

Day One:

858717_10100863993292329_723608124_o^ This restaurant is called the Pump Room (in the Public Hotel). Before we got here, Sarah found a voucher for a gourmet meal on GiltCity.com. Mixology cocktails, tuna tartare, apple and brie toast,  lobster ravioli, and a caramel corn salted sundae. We ate until midnight and then collapsed in our hotel room.

Day Two:

We obviously had to see The Bean (cloudgate). This is by far my favorite monument in any city that I’ve seen. It is really a gorgeous shape and it brings together every view of the inside of the city. Also, it’s REALLY fun to take pictures with it.

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We both felt like absorbing a little culture (and keeping out of the freezing weather outside) so we checked out the Art Institute. The building was very beautiful and the exhibits were right up our alley (they even had one of Studio Gang Architects).

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Then we ditched the cultural stuff and headed about 15 minutes outside the city to Hot Dougs. This place serves the most unbelievable hot dog I’ve ever seen. We checked out the reviews online and decided on the following: Duck dog with foie gras and truffle aoili, rabbit dog with ricotta cheese and raspberry preserves, 2 normal dogs with all the toppings, and cheese fries.

We had to wait outside in 20°F for ONE HOUR to even get inside this place. It was packed. But once we did order, it was pretty affordable and the dogs were to die for. The only time Sarah and I are ever quiet is when we are hungry and when we are mowing down food like this.

IMG_1022 ^ We even got to meat (haha) Doug himself!

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That night we stayed in and enjoyed our most luxurious hotel room and some deep dish pizza.

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This hotel room needs some further explanation. As I mentioned, Sarah and I find the most amazing bargains. I found this hotel room at Swisshotel (they are usually upwards of $200) for $110 a night on Bookit.com. It was SO worth the effort. This place was so nice that we WANTED to stay in and enjoy it. I took photos of the tiny details so you would understand.

IMG_1030 ^ Bedside table: light switches for the whole room, an alarm clock AND ipod player, and outlets on the lamp. Perfection.

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^ A CLEAN tub and a shower. Also, please note the phone next to the toilet. If you’re wondering, of course I used it.

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^ When the maids came in, they straightened up our shoes and toiletries and the room was sparkling.

IMG_1031^ There was a Keurig coffee maker with free K-cups. And wine glasses and bottle openers. These people knew we were coming.

We spent Sunday chatting and doing some shopping (aka bargain hunting) before Sarah had to fly out. It was MUCH too short of a stay but absolutely wonderful all the same. There’s nothing like the company of your best girlfriend 🙂