Discover The Spice: Sumac

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Sumac - SpiceI’ve been meaning to share a find I recently made: the spice Sumac.  My friend Mastaneh had us over for dinner a few months back and we had seriously, the most delicious grilled chicken kabobs. They were flavored with Sumac. I had never heard of it — but apparently it’s a commonly used spice in the Middle East.

From my research, The sumac bush, native to the Middle East, produces deep red berries, which are dried and ground into coarse powder. The spice was long used in Europe to add tartness to many dishes until the Romans introduced lemons to the area. While it’s less common, the berries may also be sold whole. Ground sumac is a versatile spice with a tangy lemony flavor, although more balanced and less tart than lemon juice. A small sprinkle also adds a beautiful pop of color to any dish.

It also has antioxidant health benefits and is an anti-inflammatory. I was able to find it at Whole Foods, but like almost anything – it can be found online via Amazon too!

I sauteed chicken thighs, onions and garlic and add Sumac to the chicken as they are cooking. It’s so so good even my kids like it. And the leftovers even keep their flavor which is a bonus. Here are some ideas for using Sumac when you are cooking!

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Get Out There and Socialize

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Halloween Party 2016I went to two get-togethers last weekend — I had so much fun. I was told quite a few times how in shape I looked.  It was a much needed affirmation that the hard work I’ve put in has been working. I’ve found, at least for women- we need visual proof before we really believe that we lost weight or toned up. Well – the pic on the right gave me the visual proof that I needed to see my results. (and that’s my friend Tank with me!) And, make no mistake — it’s been tough. Varied training 5-6 times a week and watching what I eat. Could I be even more careful with what I am eating? Yes – but I need balance, so it will have to do for now. I’m not training for the Olympics or anything. It’s important to keep your perspective in check.

Live Fit and Sore -FriendsI also was reminded that I need to make sure to spend more time with friends. I get so focused and busy with work, kids and ‘life’, that I tend to brush off plans friends try to make with me. I know it’s shocking but I think I am an extroverted introvert when it comes down to it. I really do love being around people but it drains me –so I also love spending time alone so I can recharge.  And Napping – napping is my favorite. But I felt so happy and loved being around friends. So, I’ve made a commitment to step outside of my comfort zone and accept more invites to hang out with friends. It’s so easy to decline –so I’m not going to go the easy route. It’s a lot less fun.

Halloween

And of course Halloween was yesterday! Here are my kids’ costumes. Each year, HB makes her own and this year was the best yet. She was a pineapple!! And I’m sure you can guess what Nate Dogg was…

Halloween 2016

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Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Your Hamstrings are Tighter Than You Think

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A Prayer for Yom KippurI am not super religious but take this day (Yom Kippur) to take stock of things and see where I can improve, and think about situations where I could have been kinder, could have helped more, could have been more understanding.  Yom Kippur means “Day of Atonement,” and it’s a day set aside to “afflict the soul,” to atone for the sins of the past year.  Some Jews fast and/or refrain from using technology.  So, as a way to atone for my sins, I hit up an afternoon class at Solidcore.  I struggle through each minute of the class and am generally uncomfortable, so I thought it wasn’t an inappropriate way to acknowledge Yom Kippur.

One of the moves we do during the class hammers the hamstrings. Not many people realize that tight hamstrings cause a lot of people’s lower back issues. And I have super tight hamstrings, so every time we do something that focuses on them – my back starts to feel uncomfortable. You know how to prevent that though? Specific stretching for the hamstrings!

Here are some great hamstring strengthening exercise resources:

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Working Off a Bad Diet is a Myth

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Calories in or Calories OutThis weekend I took a trip to NYC.  A huge part of my mini-vacation was eating. Pizza, Pizza, Pizza, Cannolis, and Drinking. I swear I gained back a ton of weight just over the weekend. And then I got to thinking about how hard it is to maintain a healthy weight even though I workout hard regularly.

I, like so many of you, grew up thinking if you work out enough you can compensate for eating a ton of crap food.  I have since found out that’s not necessarily completely true. It doesn’t tell even half the story of how it all works. If it was, I would be stick thin with how much I work out. And as I have shared here, I struggle each and every day to focus and make the right choices to fuel my body.

So, I decided to Google the topic and found this really good post by Authority Nutrition: Why “Calories in, Calories Out” Doesn’t Tell The Whole Story by Kris Gunnars. Gunnars really breaks it down in a way us layman peeps can understand. Here are a few of the standout points he makes:

  • The food we choose to eat on the regular is just as important as how many calories we actual eat.
    Depending on the food, the metabolic and hormonal impact varies depending on the person. So it’s a lot more complicated than just thinking a calorie is a calorie.
  • Weight gain can change your physiology. That change can make you crave more, which in turn means increased caloric intake.
    If your body has more weight to support, your body may crave more to keep the train running. So the idea that increasing caloric intake drives weight gain, but the gaining of fat actually is driving the need for increased calories.

This whole notion of calories in = calories out incorrectly simplifies a very complex topic and can set up so many of us to fail. We have these unrealistic and unattainable expectations. There are so many influences involved in maintaining a healthy body. Knowing about them can help us make the right choices to live our healthiest life!

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Cold Water - Justin Bieber

Well Fed, Healthy and Happy

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Well Fed - Melissa JoulwanI came home to a special package from Melissa Joulwan.  If you aren’t familiar with her, she’s the author of the popular blog The Clothes Make the Girl, which is now renamed to just her name alone and her Well Fed book series.  I’ve been a supporter and fan of Melissa’s for years now and have recommended her first Well Fed book before. If you are looking for really good recipes that meet Whole 30, Paleo, Clean Eating guidelines – look no further than her cook books.  Her recipes are by far the top of the top in terms of just being good food.  When people ask me for advice on going “paleo’ or starting a Whole 30 program — the first thing I recommend is to buy her cookbooks. Honest.

Want to buy the Well Fed books? Here’s a link to her online store and you can buy them through Amazon as well.  If you are looking for even more Paleo and Clean Eating resources, visit my Paleo/CrossFit resource area.

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Watch Kevin Hart and Conan O’Brien Do Crossfit Together

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Believe in yourself - Norman Peale

Stop Fearing Fear and Use It To Your Advantage

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I had no idea when I mentioned how my boxing place was closed for a death in their family, that would mean that they would close permanently but I got the notice a week or so ago that indeed they are closing their doors. I’m pretty bummed about it but can you imagine in the course of a few weeks the life shock that family has gone through? My heart breaks for them as they figure out how to adjust to their new life. With that said, I have to figure out another cardio/strength option now that there are no close by boxing places for me to move on to….

Change is good

Boss: ‘Change is good!’ Employees: ‘Who’s getting fired?’

And change must be in the air because it looks like my long term contract that I had is probably coming to an end early December. It’s been a great experience, and my original boss was awesome. She taught me so much, was fun to work with and had perspective about the work we were doing. But, she left this past spring and as usual, with new management and changing of the guard – they want to bring in their own people. So, come end of the Fall, I will be looking for more consulting work. I’m not going to lean into the fear though. I have sent out some emails — and have some meetings already set up. And, I keep repeating to myself —what’s the worst that can happen? to help keep the fear at bay and get perspective.

Don’t Get Stuck in a Fear Loop

In this article about using fear to your advantage, they suggest reminding yourself that most of your fears are irrational, that you will get through the situation that is making you uncomfortable, and most times getting through it will make you stronger.  A while ago, I shared some info about Tony Blauer’s fearloop, and how you need to be aware of how it works so you don’t get stuck in it and become paralyzed by fear.

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Ordinary People

September 21, 2016 is St. Jude Day at Chili’s

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Chilis and St Jude - Childhood Cancer Awareness MontHead over to Chili’s restaurants today for lunch or dinner and support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® by participating in their #CreateAPepper campaign!

Chili’s proclaims Sept. 21 as St. Jude Day and will celebrate by giving a minimum of $100,000 donation and an upcoming naming ceremony for support of the school program.

More info: CHILI’S MAKES $30 MILLION COMMITMENT TO ST. JUDE SCHOOL PROGRAM

Life is Damn Short and Fragile

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Here I am at 530a sipping on my coffee – My plan was to head to a boxing session at 6a but just found out that my boxing gym is closed until Monday. The owner died unexpectedly. I didn’t know her well. We met just a few times. She was the mom of three grown boys and one of the boys ran the gym, so she wasn’t in the place all that often. I’m not sure why I’m sharing it — other than she was a mom who in my mind, was the glue that held her family together and now she’s gone. My heart breaks for them. And it’s another reminder how short and fragile life. None of us has tomorrow guaranteed. Do what it is that you need to do today. Share how you feel, reconcile with those you love, demonstrate your affection – you never know what can happen and you miss your chance.

 

Life can change in the blink of an eye

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Do what Makes You Happy

Bacon Bonding with My Dog

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Dogs Life - Bacon - Trooper One of the greatest things that has happened to our family this past year is adopting our dog, Trooper, the white German Shepherd (IG: TroopertheWGSD). Although he is a ton of work – it’s like having a toddler living in my house again – he has brought so much joy and fun into our family life. The big joke among Scotty and the kids is that every time I go out to run errands I bring Trooper a toy. HB likes to say “I’m obsessed with him”.  She’s right but who else is that happy to see me all the time? His eyes light up every time I get him a new treat or play toy. He doesn’t complain about it being the wrong color or size. He appreciates it for what it is. And in my book that’s a win/win.

 

Having Trooper has improved our health as well. The kids get outside more than ever, taking him for walks, to the park, or just in our backyard to throw the chuck it ball – over and over and over and over again.  That boy loves to play fetch.

Pup-peroni’s new Filet Mignon & Bacon Flavors

I was recently sent Pup-peroni’s new Filet Mignon & Bacon Flavors treats so Trooper could properly celebrate International Bacon Day–and what do you know? Trooper loves BACON too. These treats are made with Angus steak with bacon-y flavoring (that’s what the box says anyway!) And Trooper loved them.

To share ways you and your pooch bond over Bacon, use #woofyeah or leave me a comment below!
And it doesn’t need to be said but, even though I don’t need any more reasons to love him, his love of Bacon makes him that more lovable!

Trooper with Bacon Treats

 

 

Please Note: Thanks to Pup-Peroni for sending me a bag of these treats for Trooper. They did ask me to include a link to their product but there was no expectation on their part to influence my review. My opinions here are my own.

3 Good Reasons to Live a Healthier Life

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Sometimes I take a few moments to remind myself why I took the steps to live a healthier life all those years ago. And I figured, we all can use the reminder – so lucky you! You get to read it too!

Right or Happy? You choose. As most of you know 8 years ago last month – Scott and I heard the scary words: You have cancer. He was 37 years old, no family history and cancer invaded his colon and our lives. You never know what can happen in your life at any given time, so you need to do whatever it is you need to do to live your best life. Do you want to be that senior citizen that we all know that has a hunched back, needs help taking a crap, is immobile?  I certainly don’t. Taking steps now to strength train so that your heart and muscles are strong is important. There are so many stories of older people, who strength train and workout, that look younger and don’t suffer from many of the ailments that others their age do. One hour of your day – to do what you can to ensure a healthier aging process.

 

Do you have kids? What message are you sending them when you don’t take time to practice self care? In my mind, you are telling them that you aren’t as important.  When you put your fitness and health at the top of your priorities, you are teaching them that you do matter. You are showing them that being healthy and finding time for exercise can happen even if you work full time and run your house. Is it hard to find the time? Yes. Sometimes it requires outside of the box thinking – asking a friend to watch your kids, carpooling to soccer practice, asking your spouse/kid to take on extra so that you can go workout.  I have heard from so many women – oh you are lucky that your husband helps you. Luck has nothing to do with it. We talk about it and I share with him what I need to make it work.  He and I talk about how important that time is to me -I’m happier and feel and look better. It’s rare to find a spouse or partner that wouldn’t support both of those things and step up to the plate when asked. The key is you HAVE TO COMMUNICATE what you need. Oftentimes, men don’t get it looking at it face value. You have to actually spell things out — which can get frustrating but my mantra when I start to get mad or resentful:


Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right? You choose. 

 

And lastly, remember when you were single and started dating your partner? You had hobbies, you had interests, you looked a certain way. Are you still all of those things (hopefully improved)? What happens many times is that we get so wrapped up in being something to someone else, that we forget who we are. We become so wrapped up in being a soccer mom or <fill in the blank>, that we no longer pay attention to that person our partner fell for. I’m not saying that being a soccer mom or whatever shouldn’t be a part of your identity, but I have seen it become a person’s ENTIRE identity. What will happen when your kids become the adults they are destined to be and you are left there, with your partner? You need to nurture and tend to your own self and the relationships you are in. Too often, we let ourselves go for the sake of our kids. Make sure you are practicing self-care. The person you were when your spouse fell for you is important and valuable and needs to be remembered always.

 

Hopefully my reasons resonate with you as well. Life is so short — none of us know what the future holds but we can do our part to ensure that we have the best foundation to handle whatever comes.  Now get out there and move your body!

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