ashley nicole avenue

a journey to healthy balance

Catch-up and LARABAR Review March 3, 2011

Filed under: My Life,Salad Beast,Veggies — ansauls @ 10:11 pm
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SURPRISE!!!! I have missed y’all so much and needed to respond to some sweet readers who have requested an update. While it has been a nice break of not photographing every morsel of my food and giving myself some freedom,  I do miss writing. However, my creativity and adventure in the kitchen is back, and I am going to go with that…for now 😉 hehe Y’all are some convincing sweeties! Don’t worry, I’ve been making your recipes like crazy and having oodles of fun reading about your lives. It’s funny, I’ll think of something I’d write about or a recipe I’m craving and one of you will post about it that day. Maybe we’re all somehow connected. I’d like to think so 😉

 As weird as it is to start photographing your food when you start a blog, it’s equally as weird to stop hehe. SOOOO, here’s some fun things I have done in the kitchen.

1. Favorite dinner so far: I had never tried a stuffed pepper with lentils, so I did a yellow sweet bell pepper with green lentils one night for dinner. I added sautéed onion and celery with garlic to the lentil mix for some flava! I’ve done this in the past with quinoa mixed with dried cranberries and almonds. It’s a good dinner for Fall. I have also started treating myself to a 1/2 glass of wine when I make a fancy schmancy dinner (aka not leftovers) if I want it. It’s a treat for being creative and having fun with new ingredients!

2. It’s still important to “set the table for yourself,” even if you’re eating on the go. hehe

3. Favorite breakfast: I made the most amazing pancakes EVER…get this: Peanut Butter Flour, ,maple, dark chocolate chip, banana, blueberry pancakes. It was seriously all my favorite flavors in one. Super healthy, and topped with peanut flour sauce. WOW! If you really want the recipe, let me know. Sooooooo yummy!

4. Favorite lunch: I’ve been wanting to try Socca but keep forgetting to buy the right flour/some of our stores don’t have it around my little town. I was really craving pizza the other day and wanting to clean out the refrigerator before I leave for Disney World!!!!! Soooooo, ta dah!!! Thank-you Carrie for sweet potato Staple Sunday because I DID have a sweet potato.

 I made pizza crust out of my sweet potato, some homemade quinoa flour (another fun new thing for me), and a few other easy ingredients. It was great! I was able to make 3 small crusts to have leftovers on throughout the week. I ended up making another pizza with one and crumbled 1/2 another on a salad beast, and I topped 1/2 with Trader Joe’s Superfruit Spread. So many options here!

The pizza I made was mostly veggies (I promise the crust is under there!)…artichoke hearts, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, Bragg’s nutritional yeast, Garlic Gold nuggets, mushrooms. I just used the crust, topped it with a little bit of organic pasta sauce sweetened with agave that I needed to use up, then sautéed the veggies with a little EVOO and minced garlic and plopped them on top. Pizza craving…check! And SO much better than delivery or fast food! Watch out, Amy’s Roasted Veggie No Cheese Pizza, Ashley Nicole Pizza is purdy good!!! hehe

That’s just a little of the fun I’ve been having. Creativity is definitely back for me as cooking has been for me 😉 Thank-you so much for your support!!!

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EXCITING NEWS!!! Erica from LARABAR sent me some goodies to review. As y’all know, I LOVE LARABAR and am solely loyal to them for at least 1 snack a day hehe

This review gave me a chance to get creative in that LARABAR can be a lot more that just a snack bar…

1. Jocalat (I had never tried a Jocolat before!) Chocolate Mint…My thoughts for this were to use it as a topping on Katie’s Raw Mint Chocolate Chip Milkshake. I mean, it is Girl Scout Cookie Time, and we all have a little girl scout in us somewhere, right? 😉 What a great dessert!!!!

2. Jocalat Chocolate Coffee…I’m thinking “what a good micro-brownie?!”

Microwave Brownie Trick:

  1. Unwrap a Chocolate Jocalat bar, and place on a microwave-safe plate.
  2. Microwave for about 15 seconds, then open the door and turn.
  3. Then microwave 10 seconds.
  4. Open door (to let some heat out) and microwave 10 more seconds if you want it really melty.

Perhaps with a cup of decaf coffee? Hmmmm…yes please!!! This bar would also be great crumbled on a chocolate coffee smoothie or frozen for about 30 minutes to make fudge. So many options here, especially for a girl-on-the-go. I am a semi-homemade kind of girl during the week, and this is a quick yet healthy dessert option. SO worth it!!!

3. Cashew Cookie …like I said, I’m a homemade kind of girl. I read all about your fun desserts but do not make time at 9 p.m. to drag everything out in the kitchen for raw cheesecake or a fun tart; HOWEVER, cashew cookie to the rescue! You can heat this one up with the micro-trick, roll it out to make a “crust” and top it was “raw cheesecake” or any other tart you’d want to make (key lime pie perhaps?!). It’s a quick easy Single Lady Crust that is a perfect, healthy dessert for 1. Try it and let me know what you top it with.

4. Blueberry Muffin…We STILL do NOT have this delicious flavor anywhere around me yet. What a treat from Erica! I ate this one as a “blueberry muffin” for breakfast with a “Purple People Eater” (mixed berry/frozen banana/avocado/almond milk) smoothie. It was fan-tastic!!! Oh, I hope it comes to the stores soon!

In short, have fun with your “LARAs.” I can’t wait to see what Miss Erica sends me next!!! They are so much more than a snack bar. Thanks, Erica!!!

 Leave a comment! I miss y’all!

Love and health,

ashley nicole

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Calling YOU Out February 17, 2011

What’s up, buttercups? It’s been a day! Let me just tell y’all about it…

First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY LINDSAY!!! Thanks for your friendship…it’s been a blast!

Now onto today’s eats…check out the morning-after Blueberry Muffin “Larabars®”. Looks good to me! They were a little “wet” still, so I’d definitely recommend rolling with dried blueberries, but I could not find any that weren’t sweetened in our little grocery stores in town. (Note to self: buy at Whole Foods next time, or make some myself!) I liked the texture though. Perfect for crumbling 😉 hehe (insert sneaky smirk here)

I crumbled 1/6 of the “Larabar (R)” container on top of pumpkin oats with some real blueberries…

Check out this mug shot 😉 + Naturally More dollop.

Then I topped that with some Trader Joe’s Superfruit Spread. It was one of those days when I kept going back in the refrigerator for toppings.

Workout today: BodyPump, RPM, BodyFlow. I got “called out” today for overdoing it, but I truly felt great and had a great mix of cardio, weights, and flexibility training. When you’re a fitness instructor as a job, it’s important to keep up with your own fitness to be a good example for your participants. I would have left if I felt tired or sluggish…promise! I told the man who stopped me that he needed to check out my blog to see that yes, I do eat. It just really stuck with me today.

I came home to make this beast of a lunch in my baby plate ;)…Ashley Nicole Avenue salad beast and 1/2 sweet potato “Clare” style 😉 (I tried it FINALLY, Clare!)–with black beans, fresh salsa, and some ripe avocado. It was different for a change, but my tastebuds like baked beans on top better.

Dessert lunch: 1) Celestial Lemon Zinger hot tea (if you can’t say something nice, don’t! I miss my Yogi tea), 2) a square of 85% cacao chocolate…not as good as 100%, but it did the trick, and 3) the BEST smoothie! It tasted like ice cream + I added 3 slices of frozen banana…

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Place ½ cup water and the almonds in a blender.
  2. Cover and refrigerate until the cashews have softened, at least 6 hours (and up to overnight).
  3. Add the ice, banana, and maple syrup.
  4. Blend until smooth and frothy.

After 3 hours of studying about metabolism of glucose and insulin, my tummy said: “Snack time, please!” So, went with 1) organic pink lady, a Ball of Energy (with Maranatha raw almond butter, Twister Power Powder from Whole Foods, unsweetened coconut, honey, rolled in some more coconut), and some Green Juice…

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Place the grapes, spinach, ice, and coconut water in a blender.
  2. Let it fly!

 

I went to chat with my friend Mira who inspired tonight’s dessert ;), practiced for Zumba and getting ready for my Zumba party at One Heart Yoga!!! If you’re in town, please come by for some or all of it. Here’s the deets…

“ZUMBA PARTY!!!: Friday, February 18th from 6:30-8:00 pm. Zumba instructor Ashley Sauls will lead us in over an hour of hip rolling, salsa dancing, clapping, laughing fun all while building our core strength and giving us a great cardio workout. In lieu of the regular class fee we will collecting donations for Ashley’s medical missions trip to Africa. She will join a team of 30 medical professionals, students, and pastors. Their group is partnering with a local ministry called Emoyeni, which takes care of orphans whose parents died of AIDS. For more info check out: (www.emoyeni.org) Hope to see you there!”

Dinner was a grain bowl!!! Oh, how I have missed these. I just wanted something really clean!

In the bowl:

  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • black beans
  •  edamame
  • green beans
  • steamed mixed veggies (carrots, cauliflower, broccoli)
  • seasonings: nutritional yeast and Garlic Gold Nuggets

Soooooo yummy and super quick!

Dinner dessert: Mira-inspired Single Lady Spicy Hot Chocolate

  • 2 tbsp + a little more 100% cacao powder
  • 1/8 tsp Truvia
  • sprinkle of sea salt
  •  a little lot of cayenne pepper ( you pick your spicy!)

I have never tried one of these before. It was different. Definitely not sweet, but the cayenne complimented the cocoa well. Hmmm…I may need to play with this one some more (or go to Mexico and get a Mexican hot chocolate 😉 )

Plus, some grapes, a black bean brownie topped with some cookie dough hummus 😉

I’m fully satisfied! Definitely not stuffed but content.

Have you ever been “called out” at the gym? How do you handle it? I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

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Reader’s Request: If you could look back at yourself at 16 years of age, what would you say to yourself/What advice would your give yourself?

( I have to indulge the birthday girl today!)

Well, for starters, I’d say…

  • Lose your dreams! Open yourself up to what God has for you. It’s so much better than what you had planned for yourself.
  • GET HEALTHY! and enjoy eating REAL food…go get some raw nut butter NOW!
  • Start saving for a VitaMix ; ) hehe
  • Get out of your comfort zone at least once a day!
  • Get off the couch and go outside, take a walk, dance barefoot in the grass, life is too short. (I used to come home from school, eat way too many snacks and watch TV until dinner while doing homework.)
  • Outer beauty is not everything, but a healthy balance is important.
  • Love who you are and embrace it. Don’t roll with the “popular” thing your friends are doing or who they want you to be.

I’m sure there’s a lot more, but that’s what came to mind first. Thanks for the request, Linds!

 

Dark and Bold…Just the Way I Like it! February 16, 2011

What’s up, buttercups?! How’s your day been? Mine’s been pretty good. My brain hurts from Biochem…any tutors out there? All these pathways and enzymes are a lot to handle. You gotta be BOLD! hehe

Having breakfast ready (or almost ready) in the morning has really helped my time management! Try it…you might like it 😉 Today’s SIAB for breakfast was very refreshing! I did a Pretty-in-Pink Smoothie (strawberries, keifer, banana, ice) topped with blackberries, blueberries, 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats, and 1 tbsp raw almond butter. ahhhhhhhh!

Then it was off to the gym to teach Zumba and do some abs 😉 Gotta look good for that swimsuit in 2 weeks and 4 days, but who’s counting?

After a quick wardrobe change ;), it was off to the temp job. Pre-made lunch of leftovers from Sunday night plus some extra spinach just ‘cuz I needed some more green with those spinach noodles 😉 on a makeshift placemat (aka lunchbag).

I re-heated it all together (why are leftovers SO good?!), so the spinach was wilted with the pasta. Yummers!

And, even though it was a quickie lunch, it’s important to set the table for yourself and enjoy your meal. You made it! You earned it!

And every meal deserves dessert…an organic pear and a black bean brownie dessert sandwich with dessert hummus in the center. WOW!!! I left it in the frige all morning…seriously, it was like cookie dough (oh, how I’ve missed cookie dough. If I’d only known it was possible in healthy way 😉 )

Snack was an unphotographed Cashew Cookie Larabar. Since I missed my Hot Yoga class today because of work, I did an afternoon workout of 1 power hour of Power Yoga to stretch out really good. Zumba has me tight these days.

After a loooooooooooooong day of daydreaming about recipes studying, I took some time to cook tonight since Tuesdays are my night off from teaching Zumba. Out came the blender and food processor (a VitaMix would make life so much easier…maybe one day my fairy godmother will deliver one hehe).

1. Emergency Smoothie. I always try to keep one made for “emergencies”/ my-stomach-is-growling-and-I-need-something-healthy-now! (Impatient a little? hmmm!). Plus, it’s a great way to use random ingredients that I need to finish up. I’ll tell you more about it when it’s consumed 😉

2. Since-They-Won’t-Bring-Blueberry-Muffin-“Larabars®”-To-Me, I’ll-Make-Them-Myself

Ingredients

Servings: 6 bars

  • 1 cup(about 20) pitted dates
  • 1 cup almonds (mine had been soaked overnight)
  • 2 tablespoons shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries (all I had was fresh ones, so I used 1 cup)
  • 1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (or sexy spice or apple pie spice)

Directions: Put all this goodness in the food processor (or VitaMix or BlendTec–Lindsay!, if you’re so lucky!) and let it fly. Mine are now in the refrigerator setting up. I’m thinking they may HAVE to appear at tomorrow’s breakfast. I licked the spatula as I was scraping the mix out…WHOA!!! Hey, half the fun of “letting it fly” is licking the utensils! (I’m in a sassy mood tonight..watch out!)

3. Thank-You, Lord for Making Brownie Batter (yes, I said it! Brownie Batter) hehe

  • 4 tbsp soft coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp (or more!) dark cocoa powder
  • scant 1/16 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp sexy spice
  • 1/2 a frozen banana heated in the microwave for 20 seconds to soften
  • optional: Feel free to sweeten, if needed (not needed for this chica!)

Blend everything (or mash with a fork).

I cut the recipe in half because it was for my dessert tonight, and I knew having extra around would be dangerous!

Then, I finally tackled tofu in the oven. Usually, I’m so hungry by the time it’s dinner time that taking the time to sit tofu on a paper towel THEN bake it THEN broil it is simply too much torture, but I had time tonight.

4. Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Energy

I made them this time with raw almond butter, unsweetened coconut, and honey and rolled them in coconut and cacao nibs.

Why-Have-I-Always-Been-So-Afraid-of-Tofu?

  • Press extra firm tofu with cookbooks or something heavy between paper towels for 30 minutes.
  • Bake at 400*F for 35 minutes.
  • Broil for 5 minutes.
  • Season with WHATEVER…BBQ sauce, oil and spices, etc. (I used mixed herbs and balsamic tonight.)

 But, I started with a small salad beast (herb mix, edamame, carrots, celery, cucumbers hummus, balsamic).

Now enters the tofu, 1/2 sweet potato sexified, some steamed green beans (about 1 cup) with Garlic Gold nuggets. Yummy!

Daddy brewed coffee tonight, and it smelled SO good that I had to have some while I watched my Heels play Wake Forest. It’s been a while since I had coffee all day long ;), so it really was dark and bold (and 1/2 caff)…just the way (uh huh uh huh) I like it! It’s nice to have it as a treat now and not all day long like I was before.

And finally…BROWNIE BATTER!!!! It was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good!!! topped with strawberries and blackberries. (Thanks, Katie!)

Valentine’s Day got me thinking about a couple of things I wanted to toss out to y’all to see what you think…

1. Sweet Stuff

Since I am out of agave, I did some reading today on sweeteners so I could have a substitute for my Balls of Energy. I came across this article and am interested in knowing what you think…what’s your favorite sweetie? why?

2. Shopping as a Single Lady (or Man)

How do cut the cost of grocery shopping while shopping for 1? I mean, so many places suggest shopping in bulk, but it’s not worth it to let food go bad if you can’t finish it all…how do you shop for 1?

Keep those reader’s requests coming for the giveaway!

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Reader’s Request: My Essential Foods

My typical grocery list looks a little something like this…

  • raw nuts (I switch up which kind. I’m always up for something new)
  • raw nut butter (clearly a staple. I usually don’t splurge on fun flavors (unless I get a sample packet) because I can’t afford it, but ILOVE reading y’all’s combos.)
  • a grain (quinoa, brown rice, etc.)
  • blueberries/strawberries/blackberries
  • organic apples/oranges/pears (whatever’s on sale)
  • Larabars (I always stock up when they’re on sale!)
  • organic spinach and some type of mixed greens
  • organic baby carrots
  • almond milk
  • 0% fat greek yogurt
  • keifer
  • plain hummus
  • organic canned beans (black, garbanzo, baked 😉 )
  • avocado
  • sweet potato
  • steamed veggies (green beans, brussel sprouts, broccoli, etc.)
  • edamame
  • 100% unsweetened chocolate
  • new ingredient that I’ve never tried before so I can make some new recipes and get creative so my palate doesn’t get bored  🙂

Hope this helps! Sweet dreams, loves!

 

Valentine’s Day for One…and a GIVEAWAY! February 15, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day, my loves! I don’t know why the post I typed up last night didn’t post, but I’ll fill in as best I can 😦

This morning started with One Night Stand Breakfast Cookie Dough Cereal (because this process actually started last night hehe)

1. Make a breakfast cookie the night before…

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/4 scoop SunWarrior (this is all I had left…usually, I roll with 1/2 scoop)
  • 1 tbsp Naturally More
  • 4 slices of frozen nanner…so good morning after 😉
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • toppings: blueberries and goji berries

Sit it in the refrigerator overnight.

2. WAKE UP SOOOOO EXCITED that breakfast is already made from your one-night stand ;)!

3. Top with 4 soaked raw almonds for crunch and blackberries and 1/2 cup almond milk.

Workout today: BodyPump, RPM, taught Zumba

I got called to my temp office job, so I threw together a quick lunch of the rest of my tahini garlic dressing, carrots, cucumbers, celery, and herb mixed greens. It’s nice to have the “dressing” in the bottom so that all the salad gets mixed in. It was a quick and dirty lunch but yummy!

Quickie lunch: brussel sprouts and 2 mini black bean burgers.

I was so full from this lunch!

I wasn’t really hungry for a snack, and I had a tummy ache, but since it was going to be 8 hours in between lunch and din din, I decided to eat an organic pink lady and a Love is Not a Green Monster…

  • 2 cups organic spinach
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon flax
  • 1 banana
  • a few blueberries and strawberries
  • ice

Put in the blender, and let it fly!

After Zumba, I was huuuuunnnnngry! I rolled with leftovers from last night’s meal (see below..again, sorry it didn’t post for some reason 😦 ) and a small Ashley Nicole Avenue salad beast (herb mix, cucs, carrots, celery, edamame, hummus, and balsamic). Since I use these ingredients all the time, I’m officially naming this the beast of this blog 😉

So, last night’s dinner that disappeared into blog world…a romantic meal for 1 (with leftovers hehe)

1. Start with a small skillet of EVOO and garlic.

2. Add artichoke hearts, organic tomato slices, mushrooms, and some mixed spices and herbs. Cook on medium high heat and simmer down to low. Simmer to desired consistency.

3.  Add organic tomato sauce to veggies. Simmer a little longer 😉

4. Pour the simmered mixture over spinach noodlios. Mix well and let it sit to soak up all the flava!

5. Top with Garlic Gold Nuggets and FEAST!

Back to tonight…the highlight of the day was definitely tonight’s dessert. Since it is Valentine’s Day, I decided that some chocolate was in order 😉 hehe

a little almond milk, a black bean brownie, and a bowl of cacao nibs, mixed berries over MOUSSE!!!!! Chocolate mousse is one of my favorite indulgences, so I rolled with a clean version…

I used this recipe, and you should run, not walk (don’t throw your laptop) to your food processor and make some for you and your sweetie (or just you hehe), or you can have both servings. I just made 1/3 of the recipe for me.

Now I’m sipping some Bedtime tea, watching the Bachelor, and eating a 100% unsweetened chocolate square…still not full? hmmm…

What did you do to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Any romantic plans? Shouldn’t every day be Valentine’s Day?

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Our first GIVEAWAY!!! Fast, Fit, & Fab Cookbook

One of the clubs I teach at has a fabulous trainer in Florida who’s written an amazing cookbook. She told me she heard from several clients over the years that they didn’t have time to eat healthy, so she worked on developing a lot of healthier recipe options with minimal effort and minimal prep time! 🙂 It is a FANTASTIC cookbook with lots of “clean” options. It’s broken down into categories (breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner, desserts and smoothies). YOU have the chance to win a copy.

  • Just leave me a comment with a reader’s request.
  • Link back to this giveaway on your blog and let me know.
  • Both.

You can enter as many times as you’d like between now and Thursday night. I’ll pick a winner Friday morning!

 

Fridays Are For Cleaning Out the Refrigerator February 12, 2011

Hey y’all! I’m glad that y’all are liking the reader’s requests…keep ’em comin’! So, on Fridays I try to clean out the frige from all the leftovers from the week to come up with fun combos….so that I can make more over the weekend hehe

Enter: morning oats! These were REALLY good. I wish the bowl could’ve multiplied 😉

  • usual pumpkin-banana-chia seed oats
  • toppings: blueberries, Trader Joe’s cranberry apple butter, Naturally More

With some Yogi Get Regular Tea…it’s working 😉

Workout today: a 90-minute yoga/meditation class. How do you feel on ‘light’ workout days? I always feel the need to go “balls to the wall” with working out, so I feel weak when I just take in yoga on a day as my workout, but I did enjoy the stretching, and I’m hoping it’ll get me revved up to get a hardcore workout in tomorrow. I did try to push myself in the poses and got my heels to touch down in Down Dog for the first time. We did a restorative savasana (did I spell that right?) on a pillow with our back up like a ramp. I’ve never done savasana this way before. Meditation is a challenge for me as well as I have a hard time just being. I try to use that time to listen to God. I talk to Him a lot but rarely feel like I just sit and listen without my brain going in a million different directions. Yoga has become an integral part of my workout, and it’s challenging to my body (and mind) in a different way.

Lunch: everything that was in my refrigerator that was a vegetable ;)…a bed of kale chips (re-heated in the toaster oven for 3 minutes), celery, carrots, mushrooms, cucumbers, fresh salsa, edamame. I needed something quick, so I just dumped it all in a bowl. It had beautiful color and texture and crunch. I topped it with 1 tbsp of the tahini garlic dressing I made. Yummers!!! Salad beast for the day. DONE! Plus, the refrigerator is cleaned out 😉

I tried to be so good today because Amber and I have a traditional birthday dessert that we split that I knew was coming tonight.

Dinner: Champp’s. I went online to check out their nutritional info before I got to the restaurant so that I knew exactly how many calories I was getting into. Based on what I saw there, I ordered a side greek salad ( no dressing) and a side of roasted dinner vegetables. It was a  good mix for dinner.

I knew this was coming…

Mile High Ice Cream Pie: Rich French vanilla, mocha-almond fudge and classic chocolate ice creams, layered on a chocolate cookie crust and topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce and toffee pieces.

Oh yeah, Amber and I can do it all by ourselves…

Y’all pray that I’m not paying for this later.

Do you check nutritional information online before going out to eat?

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Reader’s Request: Wedding Planning

Yes, I am a wedding planner on the side. My business is … A Little Black Dress Event by Ashley Nicole Sauls. I thought all the way through college that I was going to be a wedding planner as a career and started this business my Junior year.

Event planning for me began when I saw The Wedding Planner and thought “I could do that.” I mean, Matthew McConaughey wasn’t too bad to look at 😉

[Source]

I joined the International Special Events Society the summer before beginning college and started networking with local event professionals. This landed me an internship as an event coordinator at the NC Museum of History where I learned so much and was able to really build my resume as they allowed me to run a lot of events on my own. Most of my events were wedding receptions, but I also was able to do proms, legislative events, receptions, birthday parties…and even able to do some writing and public relations for the museum.

I also worked with A Southern Soiree as an intern, which taught me a lot about the business side of things and how to own my own event planning company. Both experiences taught me so much, in different ways.

I had a couple other internships doing various other event planning for UNC General Alumni Association, bridal shows, wine experiences/showcases.

From there, I was able to start my own company as well as help out my girlfriends who were getting engaged and married.

What a ride! It’s a ton of fun! I can’t think of a better college internship…

Dancin’ at a reception. Yes, wedding planners can have fun too…after the cake is cut

When I got to the end of Senior year and approached graduation, I realized that this was something that I was good at (I hope that doesn’t sound selfish) and enjoyed but not something that I wanted to make a career out of. I still enjoy doing it on the side, and there is nothing like leaving a wedding reception after a long day and see the difference you were able to make in the lives of a couple, even if they have NO idea all the fires your had to put out (that’s what you prefer actually).

One of my favorite couples

I just felt called to make a difference in a different way in this world. Long story short, that’s how I ended up deciding to apply to physician assistant school. I learned that you can’t make every passion a career. I still like doing event planning on the side and in life in general…it’s a part of who I am, but I am so excited to be on the journey to becoming a PA if that’s what the Lord has for me.

 

GASP! Oats Without Nut Butter February 11, 2011

I woke up after 4 hours of sleep (thanks to the caffeinated coffee I had at dinner) to snow flurries, so I knew warm oats were in store…

It’s Snowing Outside (Blueberry Pumpkin Breakfast) Parfait

Layer 1: 0% fat greek yogurt sprinkled with apple pie spice on top

Layer 2: Blueberries

Layer 3: Maple Pumpkin Oats

  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats, almond milk, water, organic pumpkin
  • 1/2 smashed banana (this really helped make it sweeter than last time)
  • splash of pure maple extract
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • sprinkles of sea salt and apple pie spice

Repeat until glass is overflowing full. It was delicious!

Plus some Yogi Get Regular Tea to keep my bones warm on this chilly morning 😉

After studying, I got called into work (I’m doing a quick temp job where I have to be on call for 5 weeks.), so I had to throw together lunch quick. For starters, I made a sandwich out of 2 toasted slices of Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread that I with peanut flour sauce in the middle. I made the sauce without any real PB in it, and it was lacking, but I was trying to forgo the extra fat.

I hardly ever do sandwiches, but this was tasty!

I had about 2 tbsp of hummus left in a container, so I made a quick salad beast on the go ;). I poured a little balsamic on the hummus and topped the mixture with celery, edamame, sliced cucumber, carrots. It was quick, but don’t knock it! 😉

And even a girl on the run needs her dessert…some seedless white grapes and my last Ball of Energy sexified!

Snack time: an Apple Pie Larabar

I could believe how hungry I still was even without working out this morning, but I was hungry as usual. My workout today was a 30-ish minute Zumba practice sesh and then I taught a Zumba class.

 

I couldn’t wait to make dinner tonight! My thing-to-try today was savory oats. I’ve seen Angela make them before, then Clare, so I decided it was time to try oats without nut butter for a change. GASP!

“Cheezy Oats”

In my mix:

  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats 
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup soy milk
  • 1 tsp EVOO 
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • dashes of cracked pepper and garlic salt

Toppings:

  • brussel sprouts 
  • edamame
  • fresh salsa

To make: I put the oats, water, soy milk, olive oil, nutritional yeast, and spices into a pot and brought it to a boil and let it get frothy. Looks like this…

You may have to play with the heat (I started with medium-high and worked down to low) and stir frequently as the oats thickened up. It took about 10 minutes.

When it got to a desired consistency, I poured the oats over a bed of kale chips.

Then I topped the mix with brussel sprouts, fresh salsa, and steamed edamame.

YUMMY!!!! I LOVE savory oats, and I feel like I FINALLY got the cheesy taste I’ve been looking for from my nutritional yeast.

 What a great grain bowl!!!

And to drink replenish from Zumba, a Emerald Green Juice. What a pretty color! It made me want to put on my Dorothy shoes and click my heels, but I’m already home 😉

In the blender:

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Place the grapes, spinach, ice, and coconut water in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth and frothy.

Lots of frothy things tonight. I am checking off those Real Simple smoothies 😉

And dessert, of course, was a black bean browine topped with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Cookie Dough, a sliced strawberry and blueberries. I can’t get enough of this combo! I mean, protein for dessert, are you kidding me?! I had a little almond milk too.

There’s lots of giveaways going around now, so I figured why not have one for Ashley Nicole Avenue. I am now working on details from OUR FIRST GIVEAWAY!!!! Get excited!!! I’ll share ASAP!

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Reader’s Request: How I Feel About Carbs, Fat, and Calories

So, for those of your who have been around for a while, you know that sometimes I struggle with thinking about portions of food and wondering if I’m getting enough (I’m trying to get an appointment with an RD) based on the way I exercise and what I need to properly fuel my body. I really just learned how to eat at age 23. Yes, I know what carbs, fats, and proteins are, but the milligrams and percentages don’t mean a lot to me. I just need a meal plan that tells me what to choose from. Lately, I’ve been struggling with wondering if I’m eating too much, even if it’s “healthy.” Am I getting too much of a good thing. Do you know how to tell when you’re full? Or 75% full to stop eating? How do you fuel for your activity level?

Maintenance weight thoughts are a lot different from weight loss thoughts. I definitely bought on to the “Light and Fit” diet of low-fat and no carb way of eating when I first started losing weight. It’s amazing how the media has us fulled. It wasn’t until I started eating REAL food, full fat nut butters, and raw carbs that the plateau in my weight loss was overcome. I was a Public Relations major in college and took a lot of advertising classes, so I know how it works and what’s on the front of th package should be discarded. Flip the package over and really read the ingredients.

To wrap up, I am all for eating real food, having good fat and adequate carbs to fuel your body and help with digestion. Calories for me are a struggle as I get so caught up in numbers. It’s still a work in progress, but that’s my 2 cents for now.

 

What is “regular” anyway? February 10, 2011

What’s up, buttercups? How’s your day been? Mine’s been bueno!

Making breakfast ahead of time ROCKS! This morning’s SIAB included my first sample of chocolate SunWarrior, and I am in loooooooove!!!!

SIAB of Looooooooove

 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup keifer
  • 3/4 cup mixed berries (black, blue, and straw hehe)
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 tablespoon natural almond butter (only raw almonds ground in food processor)
  • 1 tablespoon light agave nectar

Directions

  1. Place the keifer, berries, banana, almond butter, and agave nectar in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth and frothy.
  3. Top with cacao nibs and a few raw old-fashioned oats.

and a blueberry muffin. Not the baked kind, the RAW kind.

Yes, I couldn’t wait any longer. And, of course, this is my favorite Larabar to date, and it’s no where to be found ’round here. WOW! So yummy. Thanks again, Steph. I was hoping this wasn’t too much for breakfast! :/

Workout today: BodyPump, RPM, BodyFlow.

When my stomach started growling in BodyFlow, all I could think about was lunch. So much for concentrating on breathing hehe

However, some cooking got in the way when I got home and lunch was a little postponed.

For starters, black bean brownies for my sister and Mommy’s birthday dinner tonight. Then…

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Cookie Dough

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chickpeas (1 can)
  • 1/4 cup natural almond butter
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup crushed 85% cacao chocolate

Directions

  • Drain, measure, wash, and peel your chickpeas. (Peeling them isn’t absolutely necessary but it makes for the creamiest hummus and really is worth the effort.) For the sake of time, I didn’t peel my chickpeas, and it wasn’t as creamy as Lindsay’s, but it’s still amazing!!!
  • In a food processor, add the first 4 ingredients and process until the hummus is smooth and emulsified.

I licked a few blades and spatulas and spoons that held me over until I could make lunch 😉 Hey, I had to test it! I’m so excited to finally have a cookie dough replacement. I’ve missed it since I’ve started eating healthier. In college, it was a staple for my girlfriends to go on late night cookie dough tub runs.

My (chopped) salad beast of the day on the baby plate (tabouli, celery, carrots, edamame, cucumber slices, tahini garlic dip on top). This plate is really helping me with portion control 😉 In addition to the beast, I rolled with brussel sprouts with Garlic Gold nuggets and an organic apple with apple pie spice. Plus some red chai for dessert because I was about to go study, and it has ginger and cloves in it, which it claims helps with concentration and memory, and I’ll take all the help I can with Biochemistry.

Tonight we had Mom/Amber’s birthday dinner at my grandma’s. She always makes us a birthday meal. Mom like Baked Goulash with Pineapple Cake, and Amber likes Ranger Casserole with Fudge Brownies. I took my black bean brownies and dessert hummus and blueberries over to her house as another dessert option. However, I just sucked it up and ate her main courses. Yes, it was white rice and pasta with real cheese. Sometimes making Mama happy is just worth it! Our spread…

We began with a salad. I brought carrots, cucumbers, celery, and balsamic vinegar to dress it with.

My main course plate: (plus I had another serving of steamed veggies)

My Dessert: a recreation of a Black Bean Blueberry Fantasy with my I Can’t Believe It’s Not Cookie Dough, blueberries, and sexy spice. I also had some coffee since Mama made it, and I am feeling the caffeine now :/ It’s amazing how it never used to affect me.

My Mom and sister did try a black bean brownie. Now I’m watching UNC vs. Duke. I’m nervous!

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Reader’s Request: Digestion

Disclaimer: This could be TMI.

This is really vulnerable, but I have been asked lately about digestion, so I decided to share a little about my story. Since I started really cleaning up my eating, my regularity has gone a “irregular.” I was to the point where I had to go on Beano with every meal/snack because I “gassy” (sorry if this is TMI). My PA told me to try the refrigerated probiotics (I got mine at Whole Foods), which have helped so much; even the next day I felt better. My gas has gone away, except when I get hungry (do y’all experience this?), and regularity is getting better.

I also started drinking Yogi “Get Regular” tea. I really like the Yogi brand of tea (and the inspirational messages that are on the tabs). I’ve tried Bedtime, which has really helped me rest better at night, and Get Regular,which has aided in my digestion–both of which taste great. Other brands I’ve tried (i.e. Celestial) are not as tasty to me.

[Source]

I heard from a pediatrician that sometime babies aren’t regular because they use all of the nutrients they get in breast milk, so I’m not sure if I am using all the nutrients from my food and don’t have as much waste until my body builds it up and is ready to get rid of it.

I’ve also read that healthy fat helps, and I’ve definitely had more nut butter and EVOO lately on veggies (i.e. butternut squash and kale chips), so maybe that’s helped as well. I’m definitely NOT an RD, so discuss any digestion issues with someone who knows what they’re talking about. This is just my experience. What is “regular” anyway?

I’d like to hear your input.

Do you have any other reader’s requests?