ashley nicole avenue

a journey to healthy balance

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!

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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.