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My Adaptogen Potion

Ladies and gentlemen, I did it. It started with a simple google search “what is Ashwagandha?” The next thing I know, I’d fallen down the rabbit hole and had 6 adaptogens in my cart, I was sucked in eager to try everything. What started this new obsession?

It’s no secret, I am not a coffee person. Don’t get me wrong, I love the smell, I love the idea of coffee – the ritual of making it – but I do not have the palate for it. I only really started drinking coffee a few years ago, and I realized, I was only drinking it because I enjoy drinking the copious amounts of cream that I was putting in my cup. I LOVE dairy, it just doesn’t love me back. So I went back to my old roots: tea.

I love tea for the same reason I enjoy the idea of coffee. I love the ritual of it: boiling the water, waiting for it to steep . . . I am not a major caffeine junky, but like everyone else, I need a little kick in the morning and my dandelion tea, while great for detoxing the kidneys and liver, isn’t going to add any pep to my step.

As a result, I have been searching for an alternative. Something that will provide health benefits, while increasing my energy and doesn’t tempt me to add heaps of sugar and 1/2 a cup of cream. After falling down a deep internet rabbit hole (hours and hours of research) I stumbled upon an article on adaptogenic herbs. The hook, line, and sinker was that they labeled it as a “potion”. I am such a sucker for magical marketing and once I read that, I knew I had to find out what all the fuss was about.

What are adaptogenic herbs? Ginseng, aloe vera, and rosemary are well-known adaptogens. Adaptogens are natural substances that work with your body and help it adapt to stress. They help you deal with stress and fatigue by working to regulate important hormones. Depending on the adaptogen they can:

  • Offer a boost for the immune system
  • Support for managing a healthy weight
  • Increased physical endurance and mental focus
  • Reduction in discomfort caused by poor health
  • Encouraging a balanced mood

How do they work?  The chemicals that adaptogens contain help to normalize adrenal fatigue. If you’ve taken a yoga class, then you’ve probably heard a lot about adrenal function. Adaptogens calm and nourish and support the adrenal glands and support the processes that are controlled by adrenals: from blood sugar and immune system regulation to hormones and blood pressure. It is important to keep in mind that, while you are going to get an immediate “boost”, the real benefits come from long-term, consistent use.

Think of it this way, stress is a hormonal reaction, if you are stressed out most of the day, it’s going to throw your hormones out of balance and that can affect everything from your digestive system, your mental well-being, and your energy levels. If you know you’re going to encounter stress throughout the day, arm yourself with some adaptogens to counter the stressors.

Now that we have that out of the way, I have found that drinking my morning “potion” does help provide a boost of energy and I handle things like traffic, and annoying emails in a much calmer, composed way.

These are the herbs I take on a daily basis:

  • Ashwagandha: Benefits brain health. Protects the brain from degeneration and improves symptoms of Alzheimer’s, depression, and anxiety.
  • Reishi: Helps the immune system, treats anxiety, high blood pressure, hepatitis, bronchitis, insomnia, and asthma
  • Cordyceps: Improves respiratory health, increases oxygen uptake, boosts heart health, detoxifies the body, slows the aging process, increases energy, and improves the immune system.
  • Mucuna Puriens: Supports a healthy central & peripheral nervous system, helps the body’s ability to handle stress. Is a natural source of levodopa (L-dopa)*. Improves energy and endurance.

Keep in mind, these herbs do NOT taste good. They are earthy and can be strong, so it took some trial and error to find a recipe that I actually enjoyed drinking. Lucky for you, I will save you from the bitter taste tests and provide you my recipe:

My Adaptogen Potion (Or my chai recipe with Adaptogens)

  •  ½ teaspoon ashwagandha
  • ½ teaspoon cordyceps
  •  ½ teaspoon mucuna puriens
  • ½ teaspoon reishi
  • ½ teaspoon collagen
  • 2 servings of chai: I use Blue Lotus 
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla (vanilla powder works too)
  • 1 date, pitted
  • splash of almond milk

Boil some water, enough for a cup, add all of the above to a blender and blend until smooth and frothy. Drink slowly.

I am not a doctor, nor am I an herbalist or a nutritionist. Please speak with a doctor before incorporating any adaptogens into your diet. Most of my adaptogens are from Sun Potion, I got the reishi and collagen from Thrive Market.

There it is, do some research, find what you think will work for you. There are so many ways to consume adaptogens, you can take them in pill form, or add them to soups, you can make a matcha latte with them. The possibilities are endless. If you try my recipe above, let me know what you think!

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A Lazy Girl’s Guide To Healthy Living

Let me start by saying that I am not a nutritionist nor am I a health care professional. I am just a woman who loves to eat, nearing her 30’s and battling an ever-slowing metabolism.

That said, these are the tools/actions that keep me slim, healthy and happy.

Eating healthy and staying healthy is a STRUGGLE. We’ve all had our own variation of joining a gym, hitting it hard, eating clean, and for that first month we are on our best behavior but, over time, you start to slack off. You think “well I am seeing changes, one slice of pizza won’t hurt”. Then the next day you say “well. . . those nachos won’t hurt “. Then you do the one thing that puts the nail in the coffin – you skip the gym! The next thing you know, it’s been a month since your last workout and you’re back to the point where your clothes don’t fit, you don’t remember the last time you had a salad, and the only time your gym clothes are getting used is for those lazy Sunday’s binging on Netflix.

Sound familiar? This was my pattern. Now, I am not perfect, I have days where I overindulge. I have weeks where I only work out 3 times a week. And you know what? That is OK.

Step #1: Practice Self-Love

Please, stop beating yourself up. So, you ate some pizza, and ice cream and had a few beers. Did you hurt anyone? Did you hurt yourself? If the answer is “no”, you’re good. The minute you stop beating yourself up is THE very minute you step into the right direction of LIVING healthy. We need to have a positive relationship with ourselves. We need to have a positive relationship with food! We shouldn’t shame ourselves for treating ourselves to the food that we enjoy. Now, mind you – everything within reason. My motto is “everything in moderation”, but if you love pie, then go eat some pie! But consider this:

Step #2 Get to Cookin’

Bake that pie yourself. You’re less likely to funnel a piece or two of pie down your throat if you’re the one who baked it. You will savor it. You will share it. You will not overindulge, because you know the time and effort that went into that beautiful piece of pie – or cake- or cookies – or pizza.

If you want to be healthy and not drain your bank account, you have to LEARN TO COOK. If you’re lazy like I am, you’re not going to take the time out of your day to make pizza from scratch. Nah, I’d rather cook up some quinoa, roast some veggies and call it a day. Once you start cooking from scratch you’ll notice a difference in how food tastes. Soon all of those boxes of mac and cheese, and frozen meals will start to taste . . . like plastic (because they practically are). You have more control over what goes into your food and before you know it, you might enjoy cooking!

Not sure how to cook healthy food? Don’t worry, I get it. It’s intimidating AF. The first step is knowing how to shop:

Step #3 Shop the Perimeter

Avoid anything that comes in a box/package. Except for beans, butter, etc. Pass on that tasty, high sodium, preservative laced, chana masala package that you can throw in the microwave and in 5 minutes, BAM you’re in India. Don’t do it. I know it’s easy, but there are so many preservatives and added ingredients that go into pre-made meals. They might tell you it’s healthy – but guess what – that’s just MARKETING. Think about it. You should be questioning every label that tells you something is “healthy” or “natural”. If they have to tell you that it is good for you, it probably isn’t. When it comes to brands, just like people, you can always tell when they’re trying too hard.

I rarely shop the middle of a grocery store, unless I am buying my cooking building blocks like olive oil, or spices. How does this help? If I don’t keep it in the house, then I won’t eat it. Why? Because I am lazy. If it’s not within reach, it’s not going in my belly.

OK, now that we’ve addressed that, where do you go to find inspiration for nutritious meals? Find a company that sells healthy meals (for ex. Fit Kitchen). Look at their menu and copy it. They normally list all of the ingredients, so follow their lead. Pinterest is another great place to find motivation. Let’s be honest, this can be overwhelming. It can even be annoying and you might want to quit. That’s OK. Remember, be kind to yourself. Take a step back, treat yourself to some chocolate and try again tomorrow. Another great resource is the gym. If you’ve joined one, ask a trainer about healthy eating. See what they recommend. I guarantee they have a resource that you can use. Which takes us to our final step:

Step #4 Workout

You have to move your body. Our bodies are incredible. They do amazing things. Intimidating? Yeah. Worth it? HELL YEAH.

We’ve all been there. Even that yogi that can fly from crow to chaturanga was a beginner who couldn’t touch her toes and thought that binds were for those that didn’t have bones in their bodies. I remember walking into my first yoga class, my first barre class, my first HIIT class. It sucked. I didn’t know what to wear. I didn’t understand proper form, but I kept going back. I kept trying new things. Until I found a routine that worked for me.

There is no “one way” to work out – some people love boot camp style workouts, cool. Some people like Zumba, cool. Explore. Figure out what you enjoy and get into it! Don’t try to push yourself into a style that doesn’t work for you. Why? Because you’ll never go.

Have a bad day? Couldn’t quite get into the groove? Forgive yourself. Take a deep breath, thank yourself for GOING to the gym, treat yourself to some chocolate, and try again tomorrow.

But, please don’t give up. Don’t stop. You owe it yourself to keep going!

You’ve probably gone through this list thinking, “there isn’t anything lazy about these steps!” I hear you, but once you start to introduce these 4 things into your daily life, you’ll see it’s not that hard! You’ll find that you will be healthier and happier. You WILL start to see change. It won’t be overnight, so be patient and be kind to yourself. Just remember, everyone’s definition of “healthy” is going to be different, listen to your body, if something doesn’t feel right, stop doing it.

What are your “lazy girl” recommendations for healthy living? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear them!

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Atole – My Favorite Winter Breakfast


I know what you’re thinking, it’s May, why would I write about my favorite winter breakfast? On April 1st, my dad passed away while playing the congas. My father was a lot of things, an artist, a musician, a poet, but he was also a really great cook. My love for food has a lot do with him and his cooking. While he introduced me to so many dishes, it’s the memory of him making “atole” that I really hold dear. What’s atole? In the southern United States, you have grits. In Mexico and New Mexico, we have atole. It is usually made thick like a porridge or thin and drinkable. While you can make it using regular cornmeal, I grew up eating it made from blue cornmeal.

I am the youngest of 3 and by the time I was born, my mom was ready to go back to work, and my dad happily volunteered to be a stay-at-home dad. I was lucky to have this time with him. While I could go on for hours with memories and hilarious “dad-raising-daughters” mishaps (allowing me to dress myself – think polka dot shirts with contrasting striped pants and the ever present ” my dad did my hair” messy side ponytail) it is him making me atole that I will offer up today. After my sisters would go to school, my dad would make us breakfast and it was often our favorite – atole. No one else in the family liked it. My sisters were put off by the color, my mom didn’t like the flavor. My dad and I loved it, it was our thing. He would make it with milk, cinnamon and maple syrup (I would sneak extra sugar when he wasn’t looking).

As I grew up, he’d send me to school with a thermos of atole to drink until I graduated from high school. As time moves on, I find I am reflecting on “little” memories the most. The everyday moments we shared.

Every time I eat atole I will make a little extra for him.

So, here it is, an adaptation of my dad’s Atole:

Ingredients:

2 cups water
1 cups atole (blue corn meal)
2 cups milk (less for a thicker porridge style. I subbed almond milk because reg. milk doesn’t love me anymore)
Maple syrup and cinnamon to taste (you can sub honey, agave or sugar)

Bring your water to a boil in a saucepan. Slowly whisk the Atole in, avoiding clumping.
Bring to a boil and add the cinnamon and syrup; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk in milk as desired (no more than ½ cup for porridge style Atole).

You can flavor this however you want. Add vanilla? Sure! Make it savory? Why not!

 

My Favorite Granola Recipe 

Regardless of the season, this is one of my favorite, easy, go-to breakfasts. Not only is it comforting, but it’s so versatile – you can use any nuts you want, spice it to make it more season appropriate and add any fruit that you wish. I promise you, make this once and it will soon be a staple in your breakfast repertoire 😋.

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Combine the oats, pepitas, and chopped nuts

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Mix in the vanilla, maple syrup and melted coconut oil

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Top with salt and mix until combined. You have no idea how good this smells! Once it’s finished you can wait for it to cool or dig in when it’s warm and fresh from the oven.


I like to top mine with almond milk and pomegranates 😍

INGREDIENTS

2 Cups Whole Rolled Oats
1/4 Cup Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)
1/2 Cup Chopped Nuts ( I used Pecans)
2 Tbsp Melted Coconut Oil
2-3 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Large Pinch Fine Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350 and bake for 10-15 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when you start to smell it.

Journey to the North – Salta

I had hoped to post as we went along our trip but, knowing that we would have limited access to the internet and, in an effort to pack lightly, I decided to forgo packing my laptop. An effort I failed miserably at BTW.  I was preparing for what I thought was going to be a blistering cold journey, and if I had to bundle up, I wanted to look cute doing it. That said, in the back of my mind, I knew I would end up wearing the same things anyway. The vanity, the vanity. . . Luckily for me, I didn’t have to carry my bag much.

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Anyway – after about a 23 hour bus ride we arrived in Salta – tired, needing a shower, and hungry. After having asked a few people were we should go to eat, we got a little excited when everyone mentioned the same place – Panadería del Chuña. With all this hype, how could we NOT try it out? So, we showered and marched our hungry asses in search of what seemed to be a legendary restaurant. And, legendary it was. . .

Just east of the plaza we came upon the restaurant and each of us just stopped and stared in . . . amazement. Was the building huge? Yes. Incredible architecture? Meh. Beautiful? Not particularly. So what was the big deal? The wall opposite the entrance was lit up by a huge curtain of Christmas lights that changed colors. -_-

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There was a small debate about whether we should find another and then we succumbed because A) we were starving and B) “well, when in Salta”.

The food was mediocre at best – the empanadas were the smallest I’ve ever seen, the meat was the worst that any of us have had in Argentina, and the wine list was limited. At one point we were drenched in a savory blue lighting followed by a light show sure to bring on an epileptic attack. All the while there was a mix of Folkclorico dancing, singing, ANND a video of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World which included (of course) Iguazu Falls. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good cultural event – I did major in Anthropology in college with a focus on Cultural Anthro, but this was too much, even for me.

The strange thing is, we seemed to be the only non-Argentines there. And everyone was LOVING IT. They were clapping, cheering and dancing along. It was all a bit awkward, to say the least. I am sure Salta has some wonderful restaurants but this is not one of them.

Maybe it was the long bus ride, maybe it was the lighting that made my food look like black ink,IMG_6989 or that this place was INSANELY over priced (I am serious you can eat 10x better in Buenos Aires for less, and that is saying something) – whatever the reason we were eager to finish our wine and get some sleep.

All of that said, we still had a great time and it was an experience. At the end of the day, what more can you ask for?

**** I have had issues with loading images this week, thus the delay in posting AND the lack of pictures. But don’t worry, I will be providing images as soon as I can ;).

“A Few of My Favorite Things” – Revisited

Alrighhhht I have officially been here for 2 months! Therefore, I think it’s only right to do a 2nd installment of “A Few of My Favorite Things”. I think I am going to add to this list every month to keep me grateful 🙂

OK so starting from where I left off –

12) Running around the park, in monsoon-like rain, at 4am.

13) Alfajores dipped in chocolate – an alfajor is an amazing little sandwich cookie that will traditionally have a dolce de leche center – but you can get them in a variety of flavors. These are my new guilty pleasure – as in I literally just ate one 😉 shh.

Different types of Alfajor candies

14) The fact that if one is on a bus, or say in line at the grocery store, if there is a pregnant woman everyone will give up their seat/ place in line so she can go first!

15) That I can buy 2 bife de chorizo cuts – aka a NY Strip or Sirloin depending – aka the most delicous cut of meat – for around 30 pesos!! Drool. I successfully cooked a steak for the first time last night and it was perfectly mid-rare… *pats self on back*.

Buenos Aires 2009 - Bife de chorizo no Restaur...

16) That there are “verdulerias” practically on every block. A verduleria is a vegetable stand. If you can’t find one on your block keep walking and you’re guaranteed to run into one. Their veggies are always fresh and they pick out the best ones for you, so there is no guess-work!

Verdulería.

17) That looking natural is “in”. I love that the women wear very little makeup here. I haven’t worn, foundation, blush, or eye shadow in a few weeks!

18) La Bomba del Tiempo! Every Monday in Abasto 17 percussionists get on stage at the Konex for an improvisational jam fest! It’s so much fun they play everything from samba to Latin and African beats, Salsa etc. This deserves its own blog posting, and it will have it, so watch for it in the future :).

La Bomba de Tiempo

OK, that is all for now!!!! Again feel free to suggest additions to this list!!!

Food, Glorious FOOD!

Nothing makes me happier than a full plate of delicious goodness. I love to eat, I don’t trust anyone that doesn’t. Eating is my favorite indulgence. I like to think that I’m an adventurous eater. I will try anything once – I’m not scared – BRING IT ON. There isn’t a lot that I don’t like, well that’s a lie. I am not a fan of tofu, however, shout out to my girl Daya – the girl can whip up some MEAN tofu. She is a rare exception.

OK, back to the food I love. Pig ears? If crispy, love ’em. Sweet breads? Love ’em. Veggies? Love ’em. Pastries? Love ’em. Seafood? Love …

You get the idea.

I am also a huge a meat lover. Ahhh I love meat!!

– Go ahead and giggle at the dirty joke that just ran through your mind – I don’t mind – I went there too, and my12 yr old self also thinks it’s hilarious. 😉

But, seriously, there is nothing funny about meat. My grandfather was a butcher so there is no way I could ever be a vegetarian.

– I think bacon is the candy of the meats.

– Duck makes me giddy.

– Lamb can bring tears to my eyes.

– I’m actually not a big fan of chicken, unless it’s fried – then I am ALL about it.

But, if I was only allowed to eat one type of meat/dish, I would choose steak. Ahh – mid-rare, (warm and red throughout) a bit of lime and salt. Omg I die. It’s for this reason I was sooo excited about coming to Argentina – the place is known for its beef. AKA it’s heaven. 🙂

Last night the housemates and I had an “Asado”. What is that? Why a barbecue/cookout of course! It is also considered the national dish :). So, we bought a whole bunch of steak and chorizo (sausage – this isn’t like the chorizo we are used to in NM – there is no spice – it’s just sausage).

Literally, stacks on stacks, on stacks of beef :)

Literally, stacks on stacks, on stacks of beef 🙂

Drool.

Don’t worry we also bought some veggies…

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Ramiro was kind of enough to man the parrilla (grill). Throw in a great salad, chimichurri, a few bottles of Malbec, and semi-violent winds and you are one step closer to being in a blissful food-coma.

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Between 9 people we couldn’t finish all of it. Annnd on that note, I am going to go do some work on the leftovers! Salud!!

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