ashley nicole avenue

a journey to healthy balance

Raise Your Glass! February 12, 2011

Cheers! What a fun night celebrating Amber’s turning 21 at midnight! WOOHOO!

Dancin’ in the truck on the way…

…to the bar…

…to get a lemon drop ;)…

…and maybe some Jack…

…to fall asleep to wake up early for some yummy breakfast and a mantra for the day ūüėČ

Overnight Oats in a Jar (maybe my favorite yet!!!)

When I travel, I love to have¬† an almost empty jar (ahem…it may have had a little more than 2 tbsp left) of Naturally More to pack for breakfast. In this mix,

  • Naturally More
  • 1/4 cup oats, almond milk
  • 1/4 scoop chocolate Sun Warrior (I’m a convert! Now, if I just didn’t have a HUGE bag of whey protein at home that will not go away. I think it multiplies as I use it.)
  • toppings: blueberries, 1/2 frozen banana (I thought I’d try the banana instead of mashing 1/2 of one up in the mix. It was so creamy this way. I’d definitely do it again!)

This was an amazing breakfast to give my body some normalcy after last night and prepare for the day ahead.

Workout today: BodyPump, BodyCombat

Family brunch at Amber’s favorite, Cracker Barrel. I have a hard time ordering here because they season their veggies with meat, but I did the best I could with 2 egg whites, lima beans, carrots, and turnip greens.

They sang to Amber and brought her a slice of Coca Cola cake a la mode.

I dashed off to Target to get an organic fuji apple. I needed some fruit in my life. Getting wound up for round 2 tonight!!!!!

And drink recommendations for us? I’m always up for trying something new? Have a wonderful Saturday!!!

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Reader’s Request: A Typical Workout Week for Me

This is what I normally do in a week as far as working out, just to give y’all and idea…

Sunday: Rest day or something light and easy, but I try to do nothing. It’s more of a restorative mental and physical day and catch-up day on other things.

Monday: RPM (45-minute format), BodyPump, BodyFlow, teach Zumba

Tuesday: teach Zumba, BodyCombat, Hot Detox yoga

Wednesday: RPM (45-minute format), BodyPump, BodyFlow, teach Zumba

Thursday: teach BodyPump and  Zumba, maybe hot detox yoga or BodyCombat if time permits.

Friday: 90-minute yoga with meditation

Saturday: RPM Plus (60-minute format), 20-minute core class, BodyPump

I hope this helps! Keep those reader’s requests coming ūüėČ

 

Fridays Are For Cleaning Out the Refrigerator

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 ūüėČ

  • 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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ

[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 ūüėČ

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! ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ

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‚Äôt 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 ūüėČ 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 ūüėČ 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?

 

Not Your Typical Black and Blue

Thank-y’all SO much for your patience! Grab your coffee/tea/whatever and get ready for this fun-packed post.

Breakfast yesterday was polka dots-and-stripes-style SIAB and hot tea ūüėČ

It’s 5:00 Somewhere Pina¬†Colada¬†SIAB

Ingredients

  • 1/4¬†cup raw soaked pistashios¬†
  • 1¬†cup¬†ice
  • 1/2¬†frozen banana
  • 1¬†tablespoon¬†light agave
  • a little purified water and coconut water

Directions

  1. Place ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth and frothy.
  3. Add some rum hehe
  4. Toppings: Nature’s Path Pumpkin Seed and Raisin cereal, blueberries, sexy spice.

Making breakfast at night has been wonderful this week as it saves me so much time in the mornings so I don’t feel like I have to rush as much to get ready for the gym.¬†I’ve realized a lot of my “stress” is self-imposed and therefore can be dealt with and conquered!

Workout: taught Zumba, took BodyCombat and a hot detox yoga class.

My friend Lindsay and I finally met up for a potluck lunch. It’s SO nice to have a good friend who “gets” the healthy food lifestyle and can inspire me and cook with me to try new things. What a blast to have someone who’s excited about PB2¬†and Sunwarrior¬†and black beans ūüėČ Hold on to your laptop! Lindsay is the best host, along with her PRECIOUS son Carter. What a cutie, and he’s learning the best eating habits at such a young age. What a lucky boy to have a Mom who is doing her best to teach him how to eat. I love my friends who are¬† moms. They’ve taught me so much!

For starters, a sample of Carter’s “Mom Knows How to Sneak Those Veggies In” smoothie (kiwi, banana, spinach, carrot, keifer). It was the perfect quick fuel after the gym while we made lunch.

Homemade Mexican Black Bean Burgers! (vegan)

(makes 2 patties)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 C black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1/2 C fresh spinach
  • 1/4 C whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp. oats
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 small garlic clove

 Optional toppings: sliced tomato, avocado, fresh spinach, ketchup, mustard

Instructions:

Toss it all into a food processor and whirl away!

 Once it’s mixed, form into two patties. Toss them onto a skillet coated with cooking oil/spray (we used coconut oil) and cook on medium high for about 5 minutes, flipping at least once until they have a bit of a crust on them. Serve atop salad or on a whole wheat bun with toppings!

We doubled the recipe so Lindsay would have leftovers, and we put our burgers over a salad BEAST with these ingredients…plus some homemade hummus and balsamic vinaigrette

Ta dahhhhhhhhhhh…salad beast for the day. Check!

Next course: Dessert: Black Bean and Blueberry Fantasy

1. Start with Black Bean Brownies

Servings: 9

Description:

Dense, fudge-y and ultra-healthy, these brownies are a great alternative to traditional brownies! It’s amazing how they taste like chocolate and fudge and not beans! Chef’s Notes: Rolled oats run through the food processor may substituted for the instant oats. Use optional sugar if your bananas are still green and not very ripe.

 Ingredients:

  • 15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 whole bananas
  • ‚Öď cup agave nectar
  • ¬ľ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¬ľ cup raw sugar (optional)
  • ¬ľ cup instant oats

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8×8″ pan and set aside. Combine all ingredients, except oats, in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, scrapping sides as needed. Stir in the oats and pour batter into the pan. Bake approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing. Chef’s Note: if you find these brownies are too soft or too fudge-y, add another 1/4 cup oats or flour

2. Top with Peanut Dreams Dessert Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions

  • Drain, measure, wash, and peel your chickpeas. (Peeling them isn‚Äôt absolutely necessary but it makes for the creamiest hummus and really is worth the effort.)
  • In a food processor, add the first 4 ingredients and process until the hummus is smooth and emulsified.

3. Place another black bean brownie to make a sandwich.

4. Top with a Peanut Buttercup Sauce of PB2 (my first experience with PB2…LOVED it!) and chocolate almond milk, blueberries, and sexy spice.

WOW! So, it’s not a blackened piece of meat with bleu cheese, it’s SOOOOOOO much better!!!! Seriously, after you finish this post, go make it! It was so filling. In fact, I beat myself up a little all day for the extra calories, but it was soooooooo good!

I definitely skipped snack with all that black bean protein, but I did have a vanilla rooibos from Starbucks while I studied.

For dinner, again, it was a thought struggle as we had Bible study right around dinner time. So, I ate a few snacks while we had an amazing study in Jonah…

We didn’t get home until 10-ish, but I thought it was better to go ahead and eat then skip a “real” dinner. It wasn’t the best choice probably for a late-night meal, but I really wanted my leftover nachos from the SuperBowl with the rest of my fresh guac and a little fresh salsa¬†(this is an appetizer plate).

Then, my stomach was so happy to get dinner that I found out how hungry I really was, and I wanted dessert. I went with a small bowl of blueberries and sliced strawberries, 1/2 a banana heated for 10 seconds in the microwave, a little greek yogurt, and a Ball of Energy to garnish ūüėČ

What a fun day for food!!! Lindsay’s house was like going to Whole Foods. She has all the foods I’m saving up to buy…SunWarrior, PB2, homemade hummus, nut butters, all of which I love! Thank-you Lindsay (and Carter) for being such wonderful lunch dates!

 

Too Tired to Type February 9, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — ansauls @ 4:09 am

Hey y’all!¬† I am so sorry for the late post, but I am exhausted after a crazy (but fun) day. I’ll post all about it tomorrow, but I didn’t want you to think that I forgot about you. Sweet dreams…

love,

me

 

Thanks for stopping by! February 8, 2011

Filed under: Welcome — ansauls @ 3:15 am

I previously blogged from http://ashleyave.wordpress.com/. Check it out if you are new. Thanks for coming by ashley¬†nicole avenue! Feel free to leave me a comment ūüėČ