True Beauty.

I feel like a walking germ,” I thought to myself, walking down the hospital hallway.  “I feel like a walking germ with Rudolph’s red nose.”

I’ve been fighting this cold for a little over a week now.  A burning throat turned into a throbbing head turned into a coughing, sneezing, walking germ.  Not even the best concealer would ever cover up the bags under my eyes or the red encircling my nose.  Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly feeling at the top of my game on this particular day.

(And, if we’re being totally honest here, my attitude wasn’t exactly pretty at the moment either.  Irritability seems to have come with the cold. ;) )

“Well, what’s a pretty girl like you doing wanting to talk to an old man like me?”

An elderly patient of mine lit up the hospital room with his sweet and friendly smile.  I smiled back.  Well.  As much as I could, anyways.  (It’s really not that easy to smile when you can’t breath from your nose.)

“You’ll have to excuse my red nose,” I laughed, “I’m getting over a cold.”

“All I see is your smile,” he said with a wink, before preceding to tell me about his gorgeous wife who he had been married to for 55 years before her passing from cancer.  “You remind me of her a little,” he said.  “Make sure yon’t settle for your future soul mate.  He’ll love you through anything and everything.  Through sickness and through health,” the elderly man said softly.

I left the room with so much on my mind, so much on my heart.

For one thing, we as women are told repeatedly how we must look, act, feel a certain way in order to achieve true beauty.  Let’s be real.  Any one of the many women magazines lining the shelf will tell us exactly what kind of hair men want (short? long?) and the very same magazine will offer us guidelines on how to become that woman.  Beautiful.

Sitting here typing away with my reddened nose and makeup-less face, I quite honestly don’t feel very beautiful.

And yet.  One has to wonder.

What is true beauty?  Is beauty having the longest, thickest lashes?  Is beauty having shiny, luxurious hair?  Is beauty having flawless, polished skin?  Is beauty having a size 2 pair of jeans?

I would argue that true beauty is found in the love between a man and his wife of 55 years.  True beauty is found in the laugh lines because of “too much smiling” (and no, I don’t want a miracle cream that will erase them.)  True beauty is found in an elderly man sitting in the hospital, sharing his smile and stories.

Before you start thinking, “Sarah, get off your high horse and come back down to reality!”, let me assure you that I’m not saying that I don’t love dressing up, putting on makeup, trying out the latest blush.  I do.  It’s fun!  But to prove my point, think of the most influential, most well loved woman that has existed in your life and ask yourself what it is that has made her so beautiful to you.  Is it her perfect skin?  Her flawless fashion?  Her designer shoes?

Or is it something else, something deeper?  Something that not even the magazines could ever hope to achieve.

True beauty.

Who is one of the most influential, well loved woman in your life and why?

What does “true beauty” mean to you?

 

Warm Weather.

My body feels as if it has been craving sunshine and warmth all winter long.

Early morning runs in sub zero temps.  Layers upon layers of mittens and jackets.  Warming up the car a good 10 minutes before work.  Winter has felt really long and spring has come at just the right time (although I wouldn’t argue if it came in February now and then!)

The trees are still bare.  The ground is still brown.  But spring is in the air!  Soon there will be leaves and flowers (and vegetables to eat!)  This is putting everyone in a good mood these days.

Winter’s remains. ;)

Here’s to hoping it feels like spring wherever you are too!

Photo Friday.

My early morning runs mean a lot to me.

The sun is just starting to show its face.  Dark, nightly shadows still dance with a splash of mystery.  The world is fast asleep.

It’s just me and my sneakers.  I think, I wonder, I pray, I run.  This morning’s 4-mile run was no different…it left me wonderfully refreshed.

I Could Eat It By The Bowlful.

Dear Granola, I could (I can, I do) eat you by the bowlful.

Granola is just one of those foods that makes me swoon with utter delight.  Yep.  It’s right up there with lemony garlic olives, medjool dates, sourdough bread and smoked salmon (preferably not all in the same meal…although, who knows?)

Unfortunately, most of the commercial granola’s lining up the grocery isles are packed to the brim with more than just flavor.  Granola is oftentimes a very dense source of sugar, fats, and calories.

So, long story short, if you’re like me and think granola is just the next best thing since sliced english muffins, then you’ll be happy to cook up this recipe!

My brother’s girlfriend shared this recipe on her blog No Gluten, Yes Vegan.  I knew I had to try it as soon as she posted it.

The recipe is completely up my alley.  (She had me at the word “crunchy!”)

And I liked the nutrition side to this granola as well.  Very little sugar.  No added oils (just whole foods in the form of nuts, flax and peanut butter.)  High in protein and fiber.  Flavor galore.

I couldn’t wait until breakfast to test out the granola, so I poured a little into a bowl, sliced up some bananas and poured on some unsweetened almond milk.

First thought: crunch.

Second thought: subtly sweet.

Third thought: addicting.

Final thought: granola, as always, I love you.

Homemade Granola - as seen on No Gluten, Yes Vegan

Kelsey recommends serving this with fresh fruit and almond milk in the morning for breakfast.  I like her thinking and plan on doing just that!  This would also be delicious served with warm milk and mixed berries.  The options are endless!

  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (original version calls for brown rice syrup but I improvised with what I had on hand!)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 6 Tbps. unsalted peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1 cup millet (uncooked)
  • 1 cup almonds (original version calls for slivered; I used whole, as this is what I had on hand)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Line one very large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients.
  4. In a small bowl, combine wet ingredients.
  5. Combine wet and dry ingredients.
  6. Spread mixture over the parchment paper and place in preheated oven.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring once half way through.
  8. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving/storing.  Store in an airtight container.

Nutrition notes: Makes about 9 cups.  A 3/4 cup serving size provides 320calories, 10g protein and 7g fiber.

Weight Maintenance: The Incredible, Edible Balancing Act…

…Or…

“How To Say Goodbye to Diet Monday.”

You know the drill.  You plan on eating “good” all week, but then someone rolls out the birthday cake and you tell yourself you’ll give in just this one last time (and then you’ll be “good” once again on Monday.)  This is what we, of course, know as Diet Monday.  Before you know it, the scale starts creeping up and you find yourself wondering why maintaining your weight is just so gosh darn hard!

Let me introduce you to what has worked for me.  What I fondly refer to as The Incredible, Edible Balancing Act.

First an explanation of what this roughly drawn map of my life actually means…

The middle line represents absolute, 100% balance.  The place where I am eating exactly the same amount of calories that I burn (through exercise and/or just my average, daily activities.)

The middle line is, actually, a totally unrealistic place.

No two days are ever exactly alike, after all.  Some days I eat cookies and pizza (note: the dotted line goes up.)  Some days I forgo dessert in favor of orange slices (the dotted line goes down.)  The important thing is balance.  If I eat a lot for a couple of days, I’ll make it a point to eat a little less for a day or two afterwards.  If I know a party is coming up and I’ll be enjoying some wine and appetizers, I might skip my nightly chocolate for a couple days ahead.

I mentally try to keep myself as close to the middle line as possible, but since the middle line is (in all actuality) completely unrealistic, I allow myself to veer off now and then.  As long as I have a few low days to make up for the high days, everything evens out.

How to make this work for you…

  • It’s important to never let the dotted line go so low that you find yourself entering starvation mode.  Starving = overeating.  The point is just to shave off some excess calories here and there.  Repeat after me:  Do NOT enter diet mode.
  • Don’t use this concept so that you can binge one day and under eat the next.  The underlying principle is balance, health, and happiness.
  • In figuring out which excess calories to shave off on “low” days, cut out calories that you could care less about.  For example, use 1 Tbsp. dressing on your salad instead of 2.  Have 1 medium scoop of potatoes with dinner instead of 2.  Etc, etc, etc.  Don’t let yourself feel deprived!
  • Don’t focus on the logistics of this principle.  Just understanding the idea behind it and then implementing those ideas will go far in helping you maintain your weight.

QUESTION: What are some tips that have worked for you in maintaining your weight?

Photo Friday.

Have I ever mentioned how happy Humphrey makes me?

I’m pretty sure that he’s part dog.  Which is great, when you’re actually (in all honesty) a dog person, who happened to stumble across a certain tuxedo cat and then just so happened to bring him home.

He grunts.  He wiggles.  He snores really loudly.  He runs to greet me at the door.  Yep.  I’m pretty sure he’s part dog.  And he makes me ridiculously happy.

Happy Friday!

Trader Joes & Whole Foods Food Finds

Nothing makes me quite as happy as traveling to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to stock up on what I call my quintessential grocery staples.

Like almond butter.  Life needs more almond butter, wouldn’t you agree?

When I was a freshman in college, I would save pennies and dimes so that I could indulge in the Whole Foods salad bar once a month.  Now that I’m a working gal, I’ve ironically found myself being more of a financial penny pincher and I indulge less often in eating out (aside from coffee…there is always room for a starbucks latte now and then!)  And I definitely still buy my favorite items, especially when I know I’m getting a lot of bang for my buck, so to speak.

This is what I stocked up on during my latest shopping adventure…

Breakfasts and Meals

  • Kashi 7-Grain Pilaf
  • Baby Kale
  • Nature’s Path Heritage Flake Cereal
  • Nature’s Path Coconut Chia Granola
  • Trader Joe’s whole wheat pita bread
  • Trader Joe’s smoked herring

Snack Foods:

  • Chocolate Somersaults
  • Trader Joe’s light cheddar cheese sticks
  • Whole Foods kerrigold cheddar cheese (noticing a trend here, people? ;) )
  • Medjool Dates
  • Whole Foods Deluxe Mixed Nuts
  • Trader Joe’s walnuts 
  • Trader Joe’s almonds
  • Trader Joe’s almond butter (not pictured)

Whole Foods Bulk Bin:

  • Barley
  • Oatmeal (local from Maine!)
  • Quinoa

Other:

  • Daffodils!! :D

QUESTION: Do you live near a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s?  What do you consider your “quintessential items”?