Looking forward….

Our last snowy pic of winter 2015 by the amazing Ana Photo!

Our last snowy pic of 2015 by the amazing Ana Photo!

It seems unbelievable that just a week ago we were taking snowy pictures with the amazing Ana Schechter.

It feels like Spring is finally on the horizon now. We hit the playground for the first time this week, and despite slushy puddles and wet pants and socks by play’s end, it was nice to be out, feel the sun on our face, and feel hopeful that winter (and snow) is just about past!

In teaching yoga this week, I’ve been paralleling the natural elements around us, and asking students to consider what we need to let thaw in our own lives. What can we let go of in order to prepare space, and prepare ground where new seeds (and we) can grow?  It’s necessary, and worth considering for anyone who wants to bring in the new, fresh and better stuff in life.

In a practical sense we’ve also been preparing, thinking about next year and our plans for living in the city (or not). Kelcey Kintner, who I adore and seem to be living a parallel life of some days (minus 4 kids of course),  recently wrote about how she lost a piece of herself in leaving NYC (her blog Mama Bird Diaries is a must follow). I’m sure many of us NYC moms battle with the question of going or staying. I know I’ve been for quite some time.

For now, we’re still keeping our love (some days hate) affair with NYC going. Pre-K applications open on March 16 for all the NYC moms out there, and I’m hoping the process is not too painful. Apparently, with the new Pre-K for all initiative, there are many more seats available, but it’s still important to get the application in ASAP.

So, here’s to Spring and many new things on the horizon. Let the sun shine on your face today, and enjoy it!

We are so lucky…

A particularly grateful moment! We are SO lucky to have family in Florida!

A particularly grateful moment! We are SO lucky to have family in Florida!

So, gratitude is a big thing that I try to instill in Aria. And myself. “We are so lucky”, seems to be my catch phrase these days. So much so that just the other day, Aria called me on it and said, “Mom, you say that ALL the time!” And indeed I do.

But realizing how lucky we are is something that I want her to know. I want her to look for all the good in every situation, and always focus on the positive that life hands her. To know that she is fortunate and blessed and to hold on to that.  To not be spoiled or complacent,  but really appreciate every good thing that our life holds.

Quite often she and I will run through all the good people we have in our life– those who love her so much, as well as all the good things we have. Or we recap our day and talk about how lucky we are to spend so much time together doing fun things.

I don’t think we could ever wear out the phrase “we are so lucky.” My hope is that she will always feel gratitude and realize the good and wonderful things life holds for her. After all, we are so lucky.

A Simple Green Smoothie That Will Change Your Life

Ok, so it might not change your life, but this smoothie will indeed make your mornings a little sweeter.

Last summer I got both a Vitamix and Nutribullet (which I LOVE incidentally– read more on that here), and my go-to morning brew is now this simple smoothie. It’s filled with good stuff and the splash of apple juice and ice (surprise–who says green juices need to be room temp?) make it refreshing and oh-so-good.

Kid Tip: Sometimes, after I pour out half for me I’ll throw in some banana and a few frozen berries and blend up the rest for Aria. Totally toddler approved.

green smoothieIngredients:

1-2 Celery Stalks cut up.

1 Persian Cucumber (or about 3-4 inches or so off a regular one. I find the persians sweeter and tastier).

1-2 cups of baby kale or spinach or mixed smoothie greens (often baby kale, chard, and spinach).

1/4- 1/2 cup of Apple Juice (depending on sweetness desired)

1-2 ice cubes

*go organic on as much as you can!

Directions:

Throw it all in blender of choice and blend! Pour into a pretty glass (adds to the enjoyment) and indulge in the deliciousness.

Imperfection is the new perfect.

So, as we start off a new year, amongst other things, I look forward to being more diligent with updating this blog. I got on here today thinking about reposting holiday memories and pictures or posts I intended to do weeks ago– like our fun trip to Botanical Gardens Train Show and thoughts on how the magical wonder of the holidays comes back when you have little ones– but, alas, it is 2015 and it feels like nobody has the need or desire to revisit the holiday season or the year past.

So, instead I sit and think about why it is that I so often have good intentions of writing but then don’t. Sure, time is one factor, and the very un-endearing quality of procrastination that I possess another, but bigger yet is my perfectionism. As great as it is to expect top quality from myself, it’s also my biggest barrier. How many posts have gone unwritten, videos unedited,  projects ended before they began, and great ideas never taken off the ground because they were not “good enough” or “thought out enough”(when indeed they were likely over thought), and, ultimately, how many opportunities have I missed because I never put out there what was imperfect (or at least imperfect in my eyes)?

So in 2015, I say imperfection is the new perfect. Over thinking and perfecting is so 2014. Instead, I look forward to many more posts (grammatical mistakes may be included), and following up in action where my many ideas take me… imperfect and all.

 

Lessons From The Yoga Mat: To Everything- turn, turn, turn….

just be seasonLaying in savasana (final resting pose) today I started to hear a far away tune start rolling through my head. Why the Pete Seeger and The Byrds had suddenly entered my yoga practice was a bit humorous at first, but, of course, the gentle chorus repeating within held deeper meaning.

“To everything ( turn, turn turn) there is a season (turn turn turn)””

It wasn’t the fact that autumn was mentioned at the start of class, nor that this time of change was referenced in the sequence that was heavy laden with twisting that brought on the tune. Yes, we are in a literal season of change, but the directive was bigger, yet more personal, than that.

Aside from the catchy melody, the message of being still and enjoying this season (of life) was pressing loudly. Quite often in the quiet of savasana, after I’ve disconnected from all the busy-ness and noise in my head, I hear the clearest. From within, I was reminded to really enjoy this season, and to stop worrying about the things to come or times of past.

I’ve been pondering my place as of late, and the ever-neurotic part of me  wondering if I should be doing more. I am blessed to now have motherhood as my full time job, but the driven little being inside me always seems to nag, that I should be doing more– producing more, working on more projects and pushing towards more “success”.

Just pre-class I had even found myself scanning TV jobs wondering if it was time to make my way back in that direction. Often, I’m also “nagged” to be doing more with my “first child,” HealthyStyleNY.com. “Why haven’t you gotten to this point yet? Why haven’t you done more with that?”, that annoying little side of me (aka Ego) taunts.

But then when all is quiet, I hear the Byrds singing and of reminded of my truth. That I don’t need to  worry and indulge all the useless noise. That I’m not going to miss anything, except if I don’t enjoy this season. For everything there is a season. And a purpose.  I know what my purpose is for this time. It’s confirmed every time I look into her big blue eyes. Why part of me tries to steal or diminish that joy (and importance) is infuriating. But then again that’s why I do yoga. To be reminded and hear truths, in whatever form they come.

 

Mini Oat Banana Bread Loafs (& muffins)

After Aria devoured the Simple Banana Oat cookies (recipe to come) I baked over the weekend, I went to make more and realized I didn’t have enough oats. I had plenty of ripe bananas though so I went for a simple banana bread recipe. I combined a few I found online– my main goal was keeping down the sugar (no need for it as ripe bananas are super sweet and the last thing kids need is more sugar). I did however throw a few semi-sweet chocolate chips in some of the batch as a special treat for her since I chucked the chocolate chip cookie the enamored diner waiter gave her yesterday.

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 11.07.48 AM

INGREDIENTS
3 RIPE mashed banana
1/3 cup honey
1 egg
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or regular, soy, coconut, etc)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat or better yet whole wheat pastry flour
1/2a rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter or oil (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl combine mashed banana, applesauce, honey, egg, almond milk, vanilla and oil/butter (if you choose to use). I used a smidge of melted butter and a teaspoon or so of coconut oil just to ensure moistness. Combine all until wet ingredients until creamy.

In separate medium bowl whisk together whole wheat flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined (don’t overmix).

Pour into loaf pan, mini-loaf pans, muffin tins. Sprinkle oats over top (if desired), and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean with a few crumbs attached.

Time for baking in a standard loaf pan is 60m but I had no time for that and found my mini-muffins and mini-loafs were good to go in about 15-20m.

Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely. Keep bread/muffins tightly wrapped to maintain moisture. They will last a few days and likely be sweeter on the second day!

Whole Wheat Mixed Berry Muffin

Aria is by far a muffin queen– requesting one each and ever time we walk into a coffee shop or out to lunch. I’ve told her one can’t exist on muffins alone but she doesn’t quite seem to understand. Often we grab a Chia Muffin from Le Pan Quotidien which I feel is better than most, but unfortunately, most muffins out there are filled with sugar and fat (and have very little nutritional value).  I recently decided to bake some myself modifying a typical blueberry muffin recipe with whole wheat flour and a few other healthier alternatives. These are still moist and delicious and make me feel a whole lot better about passing them into her little muffin grabbing hands. They also freeze very well!

Very Berry Whole Wheat  Muffins

Ingredients
very berry healthy muffins wheat 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup of light brown sugar (optional)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (or 6 oz of plain greek yogurt for a healthier version)
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 pint (total) of fresh raspberries, blackberries & blueberries (frozen organic mixed berries from Trader Joe’s work great also!)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.

Whisk vegetable oil, egg, milk, and applesauce together in a separate bowl until smooth, and stir the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture until moistened. Lightly stir in the blueberries. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them 2/3 full.

Bake muffins in the preheated oven until they rise and the tops are golden brown, about 20 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean.

 

Abundance: Bringing it Forth

So, although it seems like the only thing that is overly abundant as of late is snow (oh and all of Aria’s toys that seem to be constantly underfoot or all over the floor for me to pick up), I know that abundance exists beyond what we can see. This morning I was baby-free so I took advantage of it by going to a yoga class at Living Yoga. The theme (my how I love my yoga lessons) had me thinking beyond the 75 minute class.

TREE OF LIFE ABUNDANCEAbundance is something that’s been circling around my head lately. I recently watched on of Marie Forleo’s videos with guest Kate Northrop, both of whom I know and respect greatly. Their focus was abundance in finances and beyond, while this morning at yoga it was about a release of holding back or hoarding (whether energy or ideas or material possessions), and in turn allowing abundance to come forth.

In all, abundance really comes back to our energy, intention and faith in the renewal process. It’s this idea that when we give or empty out, abundance is right there behind us ready to fill in that space. The idea that there is plenty for all, and the Universe just needs us to release in order to give it right back to us, and our holding on to anything too tightly not only hinders that process, but in fact cuts us off from abundance in our lives

All great teachings from the Buddha to the Bible re-iterate this, and my experience in life has shown me it’s true. Yet, whether ego, “sense”, or fear of being without, there are still there are days I hold on too tightly and hamper the little voice within that knows better. So, today I appreciated being reminded of the abundance that exists when we let go and choose it. Abundance is ours…we just have to bring it forth.

New York Snow Over Florida Sunshine: My toddler made me do it.

20140203_150714-SNOW

This morning we were supposed to head out on a flight to Florida. Ah, yes, the warm Florida Keys where 80 degree temps and flip flop wearing days await. Instead, I sit at our lake house, watching snowflakes swirl — grateful for warm socks and good decision making.  You see, back in the day (pre-Aria) a little snow (or talk of it) wouldn’t have had me rescheduling flights. I would have grabbed my carry-on and headed to the airport, trusting that our early flight out would beat the first flakes in. However, with a little one in tow, everything changes. All the time.

I have to laugh at how the carefree traveler in me has been totally replaced by Miss. Play-it-Safe. For there is no easy delay with a toddler in tow. And hopping in a cab home (if said delay turns into cancellation) is not easy breezy with a two year old, car seat, stroller, suitcase, etc. etc. (and forget getting them all back up our 6 floor walk up in the city). Gone are the days of chancing it to make sure I get in as much sun as possible. These days I choose to watch the snow fall with a little one toddler napping in her crib, knowing that Florida isn’t going anywhere (and neither is my sanity).

Quinoa Veggie Meatballs for my little meatball.

I recently came across this whole foods recipe for quinoa and beef meatballs and knew I had to try them. First of all, I love quinoa and all it’s healthy benefits, and secondly, Aria seems to be addicted to pasta and meatballs, so any way that I can make them healthier helps. These contain chopped veggies (zucchini, carrots and onion) which sneakily kick up the nutrition even more.  They turned out delicious, and it’s a recipe I will definitely go back to.

quinoa beef meatballs

Ingredients
1 pound (95-percent) lean ground beef
3/4 cup cooked quinoa (use frozen 365 Everyday Value® Organic Quinoa, or cook it from scratch*)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup grated zucchini
2 tablespoons ketchup (I didn’t have any so just threw in a few tablespoons of crushed tomato)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce (some people substitute amino acids instead)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 egg, lightly beaten

Method: 
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until well combined. Shape into 16 balls and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Roast until cooked through and golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Serve hot.

(*Note: To cook quinoa, bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small pot. Pour in ½ cup quinoa, cover and simmer until water is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside off of the heat for 10 minutes then fluff with a fork. Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Use 3/4 cup in this recipe, and reserve the remaining for another use.)

Nutritional Info: 
PER SERVING:150 calories (45 from fat), 5g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 75mg cholesterol, 470mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate (1g dietary fiber, 2g sugar), 17g protein
Special Diets:
Dairy Free
Sugar Conscious

Top Photo: Whole Foods