Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fitness Friday: Arkansas River Trail

Little Rock really is a great place to live, especially if you like the outdoors.  The Arkansas River Trail extends from it's inner 15 mile loop in the city all the way out past Pinnacle Mountain.  You can ride over the Big Dam Bridge, the Two Rivers Bridge, the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, as well as other small ones.

Since I am training for a 50  mile ride during Tour de Rock, last Saturday I set out on my bike to get some fresh air and see the city.  I rode from my house down to Burns Park, then across the North Little Rock side to the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge.

I love my bike.  Vetta is a 1983 Cannondale, one of the first with an aluminum frame.  I got her at a bike shop in Rogers, Arkansas, right after I graduated college.  I paid about $100 bucks for her, and have since put about another $200-300 back, including tune ups.  She doesn't climb very well, because she's built for flat roads and doesn't have the low gears to tackle big hills, but she's fast.  Check out my sexy bike shorts, haha.

I set out at about 10:30 am and rode the 10 miles downtown to the bridge.  It was a hot day, but the air felt great as I sped through the trails.  The North Little Rock side of the trail is way more developed, so I turned around at the Clinton Bridge and came back that way.  The Little Rock side cuts off and stops, and it can get confusing for someone that doesn't know the trail.  Don't let that dismay you from riding it, though.  It's great to hit the Riverfront Park and speed your way down to the Big Dam Bridge.

They're constantly working on the parks, and it's wonderful to see them full of people on a Saturday morning.  I haven't been giving my bike a lot of love lately, but that really needs to change.  I forgot how much I love to ride, so I'll be hitting the trails more all summer.

 Can you spot the classy Bud Light can tucked away in a flower bed?  I'm going to blame it on Riverfest, which was going on that weekend.

I'm very happy that Little Rock has such a vibrant cycling scene.  This recent addition to the Clinton Presidential Park is a really beautiful walking trail.  I'm hoping to get some great pictures there during our wedding.

Do you have places in your town or city where you love to exercise?  

Loving Lately: Smoothies

I drink smoothies almost every day, and a lot of times I repeat them.  I've definitely developed some favorites, and I'd like to share them with you.  My mornings are usually fruit smoothies, and my afternoon ones tend to be more greens heavy.

Post Bike Ride Protein Punch

2 scoops vanilla protein powder
2 tbs organic peanut butter
1 tbs maca
2 tbs raw cacao powder
1 1/2 cup almond milk
1 tbs chia seeds
2 cups ice

Blend and love it!

Blueberry Blast

2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup blueberries
1 tbs maca
1 tbs chia seeds
1 cup almond milk
1 cup ice

Blend and love it!

Add 2 tbs of raw cacao powder to the blueberry blast to really start your day!

Peaches and Greens

2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1 cup coconut water
2 cups spinach or mixed greens
1/2 cup peaches
1/2 cucumber
1 cup ice

Blend and love it!

Carrot Cake Breakfast

2 scoops vanilla protein powder
2 carrots
1 cup almond milk
1 tbs maca
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 tbs chia seeds
1 cup ice
1 tsp maple syrup

Blend and love it!

Spirulina Greena

2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1 cup coconut water
2 cups spinach or mixed greens
1/2 cup strawberries
1 tbs spirulina
1 carrot
1 cup ice

Smoothies, such an easy way to cram so much nutrition in your meals.  What's your favorite?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Product Review: Tea Forte

This post is not sponsored.  I purchased Tea Forte and am reviewing it because I think it's a good product.  All opinions are my own.

A few weeks ago, I read this post on Produce on Parade about Tea Forte.  I have their large tea pot at home, so I knew the brand was high quality.  I was intrigued and incited, especially for the tea mug, so I hopped on over to amazon and ordered some tea to try.  I haven't gone back to coffee since the Arbonne Detox, and I've only just barely started going back into green tea.  I have decided that it's probably healthier for me than the fizz sticks, so I needed some tea.

I got an herbal pack and a green tea/white tea/herbal tea mix.  For the price, they give you a lot of tea.  They all say single steep, but I have been giving them a second steep.  The flavors are really tasty, and when you open the pouch, you can smell how fresh it is.

My favorite thing is the tea mug.  It's very thick, and the pattern on the edge has a nice feel.  I have been brewing with it all day long at work, and it works great, especially when I don't want to break out my tea pot.  I think this would be fantastic for traveling.

Are you a tea or a coffee drinking, or both?  What is your favorite kind of tea?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Subscribe and Save

I do most of my grocery shopping at Kroger and Whole Foods, but there are also a lot of things that I order online.  If you live in an area where you can't get certain items, or they're very expensive, then Amazon's Subscribe and Save might work well for you.  I looked into making an Amazon store that I could link to on the blog, so you could see what items I recommend and the blog could make a percentage off the sale, but Arkansas is one of the few states that doesn't allow you to do that.  Oh well.  I'll still let you know all the cool stuff that I order.

If you have several items that you buy regularly, then it makes sense to have them delivered to you on a monthly or semi-monthly basis.  I have found that many items I buy all the time are much cheaper on Amazon.  For instance, I drink two smoothies a day, so I'm always buying coconut water, chia seeds and maca.  I found that getting these delivered was way easier.  Plus, you can get high quality, organic items for much less than you'll find at Whole Foods.

My first item was pure coconut water.  I got this box of 12 for just under $16.  It lists higher on the website, but if you bundle 5 or more deliveries, Amazon knocks another 15% off of all the items in your order.  That's definitely a clever way to get you to buy more stuff, but if you need 5 items, it's handy.

The next item I got was maca powder.  This was $14.40 after the 15% discount, which is amazing.  I tried to buy a bag smaller than this at Whole Foods for $30!  I put maca in my smoothies every morning, so I go through a bag pretty quickly!  I have tried a couple different brand names now, and they're all pretty good.

Raw cacao powder is a recent addition to my smoothies, and I love it so far.  This whole bag was $6.37.  I put two heaping spoonfuls in my smoothie on Friday, and I was practically buzzing with energy.  I think it will definitely be a staple in my morning smoothies.  Who needs coffee when you have cacao?

I buy chia seeds regularly at Kroger, but this bag, at about 10 dollars, is twice as big for the same amount.  I put a tablespoon in my smoothies every morning, plus they're great in baked items.

I don't just get my food from Amazon.  I also get all my vitamins delivered to my office as well.  These vegan prenatal vitamins were $8.49 for a 90 day supply.  Now, don't let the prenatal throw you off;  Josh and I are not wanting to get pregnant right now.  However, it's something we talk about talking about in the next year or so, so I want to make sure I'm getting what I need now.

I have been taking this B12 sublingual every since I went vegan, and I love it. Unfortunately, a few years ago, they took it off of the subscribe and save program.  So, when I get low, I just order a 2 pack for around 16 bucks.

My calcium/magnesium vitamin is another item that I used to subscribe to, but now I just buy it when I need it.  It has a lot of great stuff like Vitamin D and zinc as well.

There are a couple items that I also order from Amazon, like spirulina and tea, but I don't subscribe to them as of now.

Do you subscribe to any products online, or do you prefer to shop for everything locally?

This list has been compiled without any outside compensation.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Weekly Recap: Live and Let Diet

I'm feeling really good these days.  I haven't been giving a full recap of eats, but I have been sticking to my morning smoothies and trying to make healthy dinners.  I've been mixing it up at lunch, but I'll be writing about that later this week.  The scale is moving down again, but to help it along, I'm coming up with a new, healthy eating plan to get myself back on track.

Summers are the worst when I'm trying to stay on track.  All the socializing, drinking and bbq'ing does not help a girl diet.  The Arbonne Detox was wonderful, but I've let myself slip a lot in the past few months.  Recently, I got very motivated by an episode of Good Eats.  In the episode, Live and Let Diet, Alton Brown describes the rules he stuck to in order to lose 50 pounds.  They're sensible, scientific and easy to follow.  He has a philosophy about food that I really enjoy, which is fill your diet with good things, and you won't have room for all the bad.  He details items you should eat every day, eat a few times a week, eat once a week, and never eat.  Of course, his aren't vegan, but you can tailor it to you.

These are his items to eat every day, and I think they're great.  I've decided that green tea can be a wonderful part of my diet, and although it has caffeine, I'll be having a glass every day.

Alton's weekly foods are pretty great too.  Now, I don't eat oily fish or yogurt, but I think broccoli, sweet potatoes and avocados are a great part of any diet.

His once a week is the real key to my plan.  Instead of trying to cut alcohol or pancake Sundays completely, they should be relegated to once a week.  That way, you get to indulge, but not too much.  I think that's pretty key for any long term plan.  This isn't a "diet" in the modern sense.  It's a way of living.

His nevers are spot on, too.  I don't really drink soda or eat fast food, and canned soups give me a stomach ache.  So, these are pretty easy to stick to.

After all of this, I developed my own rules!

Perhaps the best, and most fun, are the "eat every day" foods.  Since I'll be trying to cram in all these great foods, I won't have any room for junk.

I will be trying to get in healthy fats a few times a week.

I have no real problem getting in the "eat every day" column, it's the have only once a week that will be the tough part.  I need to save my treats for once a week.

I have identified my "never" foods this year as things to stay away from, so I don't think that will be a problem.

So, that's what's going on with me.  I'm feeling great, working out, and eating moderately well.  How are things going with all of you?

I'll be posting some food recaps in the next week or so of things that are not as "diet" friendly, but after those, I'm going to try to focus on some really healthy meals to kick off the summer.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Finding a Home for Sir Reginald Watson

For the past month, our indoor/outdoor cat, Bodhi, has been acting strange.  Usually so quick to bolt outside, she has been very cautious of her cat door.  Josh and I decided that there was probably an animal living under the house.  We didn’t know what it was until last week.

I came home from work one night last week to find Josh and Bodhi working in the back yard.  We were in the yard for about 15 minutes when this cat comes bouncing over towards us, following our cat.  Skittish at first, it only took about 10 minutes of crouching and calling for the cat to come over to us.  It was dark, and as I rubbed on this new cat, I noticed a large, matted area on his neck.  He had a nasty bite on his neck, and it did not look tended to.  He was incredibly friendly and cuddly, but he was not neutered, so we assumed he didn’t have a home.  We put some cat food out on the back porch and went in for the night.

Over the next few days, we put food out and watched for the cat.  Eventually, we started calling him Sir Reginald Watson, or Reggie Watts for short.  Josh and I made the decision to get this cat cleaned up and try to bring him into our home. It wasn't an easy decision. We spent several days trying to figure out if he had a home, but in the end, he was starved, infected and dehydrated.  We made an appointment at our vet and brought him inside the night before.  We made sure to isolate him from Bodhi, because we still didn’t know his health condition.  Josh and I sat with him in our front bathroom before bed, and Reggie went back and forth between our laps, purring and getting head rubs.

I brought him to the vet the next morning to get cleaned up.  The doctor called me at work to inform me that Reggie’s fever, caused by his neck infection, was too high to do vaccinations or a neuter that day.  She said she would do his feline leukemia and FIV (feline hiv) tests, and then we could bring him back in a week for his shots.  Josh and I had already bonded with Reggie, and we were excited to bring him back to health.  Then, the vet called back.  She started with, “I have good news and bad news…” and that’s when I knew there was a kink in our plan.  She said Reggie had passed his feline leukemia test, but he had FIV.  I was broken hearted.  FIV is a condition that can be spread in cats through bites, so our kitty Bodhi would be at risk.  You also have to keep FIV cats inside, which is not how we have raised Bodhi.  She assured me that cats can live long, healthy lives with FIV, but he should not be in a house with another FIV negative cat.

Josh and I went to pick up Reggie that night, and we had another conversation with the doctor.  She was hopeful that he was in great health and would make an amazing companion.  He is incredibly friendly and loving, and he deserves a good home.  We are currently nursing him back to health, and his neck is healing wonderfully.  We keep him isolated from Bodhi, and we spend a lot of time sitting with him and cuddling.  It breaks our heart that we can’t keep him, but we would love to see him find a good home.

He’s such a cool cat, and he has awesome battle scars.  He’s a tough kitty, but he’s also a total softie.  If you know anyone that is looking for an awesome cat, who can keep him inside, and doesn’t have another pet, and you live in Central Arkansas, please msg me!