Weekend Recap + Mint Chocolate Smoothie

Happy Monday, Friends!

Hope you had a great weekend!

I drove to my hometown near Houston, TX for an impromptu visit this weekend. My dad was in the hospital fighting an unknown bacterial infection in his pinky bone. A couple surgeries and a lot of antibiotics later, the pinky is saved! Hopefully he will be released sometime this week, but infectious disease is keeping a close eye to ensure the infection is contained without spreading throughout his body.

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He was in good spirits, especially after his Astros beat the Yankees to win the pennant! He cried real, happy tears. If you’ve been an Astros fan for your entire life, I’m sure you understand- so many feels.

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View from Dad’s window- Houston has been through too much this year thanks to Hurricane Harvey. So proud to come from this strong, diverse, vibrant community.

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I love the Texas Medical Center- I’ve been a patient here, I’ve worked here, and I’ve volunteered here. There’s no place like it. Truly.

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We stopped by Pronto’s on Holcomb Blvd for chopped salad with salmon, one of my all time favorites by the med center. I also got a piece of tiramisu, and I highly recommend.

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Then we popped over to a hometown football game to watch my cousin’s homecoming halftime show performance (how cute is she though?!). LOVE small-town football!

The next morning my sister and I went through old boxes of keepsakes in the garage that my parents stored from our childhood. My mom wanted us to go through everything and decide what to keep…still not sure why…but it was entertaining. I learned that I am not particularly a sentimental hoarder about most things, but I did fall victim to Barbie nostalgia. Not pictured: Scuba Barbie, Shaving Ken, and Dentist Barbie.

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Then we found this quaint little spot right behind my old high school for lunch. WHY did places like this not exist ten years ago?! 421 Coffeehouse was fantastic.

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If you ever find yourself in West Columbia, TX, stop by this place! Their chicken salad was divine.

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I stopped by my older sister’s salon to wish her a happy birthday and updated her pricing board for her:

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And then we drove back to Houston to hang out with Dad some more. Sunday morning we began the long drive back to Oklahoma City. Oh- CHECK OUT MY COPILOT:

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Her name is Sophie. She’s 11 weeks old, loves to play fetch and cuddle, and I want to hold her every day. She’s my sister’s dog, and she did fantastic on her first long road trip!

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This morning I caught up on some (much needed) sleep and managed to whip up a mint-chocolate chip smoothie. I actually used some vanilla pea protein from Trader Joe’s for this recipe that was VERY affordable (but not my very favorite taste). Honestly, you’ll appreciate this recipe much more if you use some sort of chocolate-flavored protein. Because of all the nutritious ingredients like frozen cauliflower and frozen avocado (fear not- these are tasteless additions, I promise!), I was quite full after this smoothie.

Mint Chocolate-Chip Smoothie

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Print

A creamy, nutritious chocolate chip smoothie full of healthy fats, veggies, and tasty goodness.

Ingredients

  • high speed blender
  • 1 C almond milk
  • 1 C frozen cauliflower
  • 1 small handful of fresh mint leaves, trust me…
  • 1 frozen banana
  • ½ C frozen avocado (you won’t taste this ingredient, and it adds rich, creamy texture with healthy fats, keeping you fuller longer!)
  • ½ C ice cubes
  • ¼ C deep dark chocolate chips OR raw cacao nibs
  • one-two hefty, violent shakes of the ground cinnamon bottle
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein. (!!!This would taste better with chocolate protein though!!!)

Directions

  1. Pour milk, protein and remaining ingredients into blender
  2. Blend on “high” until thick and rich texture is visible
  3. Pour and serve. I like to top with melted deep dark chocolate or cacao nibs. Enjoy!

Let me know what cha think if you give this smoothie a shot!

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Cheers to a productive and great Monday! On the books for today: Organic chemistry, laundry, slow-cooker taco soup, banana bread, a 5k jog, and more organic chemistry.

-Stacey

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The Scale Bitch

I’m here to talk to you about something so absurdly unimportant, but still I hope it somehow resonates with you.

The scale. And that bitch is everywhere from the bathroom floor to the bedroom, from the doctor’s office to the gym. *to the windowwww, to the wall, to the wall*

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Three pounds down? You have an instant confidence boost, but just two pounds over? Now begins the self-shaming.
“I shouldn’t have had those four margaritas.” <- that’s actually probably true, Sandra, but you knew that before the negative self talk on the scale, now didn’t you?

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If your scale has that kind of affect on you, dump the bitch. You heard me. Get rid of it and start fresh. You are so much more than whatever a cheap box on the floor says you weigh. And don’t get me started on fluctuations- if your dinner is too salty or carb-rich, you’ll weigh a bit more the next morning because salty meals make our bodies retain water. Your weight will fluctuate throughout the day, too, depending on diet, water intake, medications, or activity level (one-five pounds in a day, give or take, is COMPLETELY normal!).

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I personally do not own a scale, even though I am an ulcerative colitis patient who experiences massive weight fluctuations at times. When I was diagnosed, I weighed 102 lb., which was far too low for me. In college before my diagnosis, my consistent weight hovered around 128-133 lb. Now my weight is even higher (140s?). I started weighing myself at the gym “I gained seven pounds!” and then I’d have to talk myself down, “Stacey, you can run several miles. You are strong. You are healthy. Don’t listen to the scale.” So rather than spending my own energy on the mental turmoil that I allowed a stupid scale to inflict on my psyche, I decided to just stop weighing myself altogether. Not for me. When I go to the doctor and the sweet nurse says, “140” or “146” I am thankful. I know what I can do. I know how strong I am. I know the crap that I’ve overcome, and all that means much more than a fickle little number on a scale. I try to focus how I feel, how I’m a focused little organic chemist of a grad student, what I’m working toward, what kind of great food I’m eating (salsa, always with a side of salsa), how great my jeans fit. So many non-scale victories!

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FYI, if you’re wondering why we even use scales at all:
Doctors use body weight to determine if you fall within a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index), and chances are that if you’re a swole athlete (because muscle weighs more than fat), your BMI will be a little high because it measures excess weight, NOT excess body fat. BMI also doesn’t take age, sex, or ethnicity into proper account (source). Note: Healthy goals are vitally important, and I’ll touch on other ways to reach these in a post soon 🙂

The moral of the story is to refuse to allow a silly, fluctuating number to define any part of your worth. You are smart, you are kind, you are hard-working, you are a friend, a mother (or father!), a sister (or brother!). You are here, and every other physical sensation, including your weight, is ever-changing…but you are constant, now, present, powerful. You are worthy. Don’t allow your significance to yourself and the world to be compromised by a number. You are fearfully and wonderfully made! Go live your truth.

Hope your Thursday is a good one 🙂

Stacey

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you REALLY want to know where your health stands metabolically, request a body fat evaluation or a DEXA scan to evaluate your bone mineral density.

Dogs & Health

This post is dedicated to those dealing with autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases, cancers, the flu, or the common cold. I hope this lifts your spirits!

When I was in college (against my parents’ wishes) I rescued Jaxon.

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Jaxon is some sort of maltese/poodle mix if I had to guess (Maltipoo?) and he’s deaf from being left alone outside for the first eleven weeks of his little life. The vet’s best guess is that grass mites actually ate his ear drums- poor, sweet guy! He’s been deaf ever since.
(side note: I’m certain there’s a special place in hell reserved for people who are mean to dogs)

Thankfully, my roommates were all on board to keep Jaxon, so we took turns feeding him nutrients via syringe depending on who was at the apartment from class. Before we knew it he was making his rounds to all the college parties, occasionally even sneaking into classes and workplaces. On more than one occasion I was walking him through West Campus when a complete stranger ran up to us, “Jaxon!!!!” He was quite popular.

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In the Fall of 2012 when I became sick and was diagnosed with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis, Jaxon slept on my face while I napped for hours at a time. He slept on my feet while I had symptomatic episodes from the toilet. He stuck his nose beneath the door when I locked myself in the bathroom. He knew I wasn’t feeling great, and he did his best to heal me.

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And in a way, I really think Jaxon has succeeded in helping me heal.

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Honestly, he’s Mister Independent most of the time. His favorite spot is alone on the back of the couch. But if he knows that I’m not feeling well he sleeps ON my face, and I swear I can hear his concern. When I was worried about symptoms, he was there to try to calm them, letting me pet his soft fur all through the night while he curled up into a tight ball by my stomach.

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And now that I’m feeling much better he’s still careful to keep a watchful eye, making sure his people don’t wander too far:

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Just knowing my little furballer was at home patiently waiting to greet me after doctor’s appointments, infusions, procedures, or just a regular day made all the difference in the world, and I’m confident that he’s a big reason why I’m able to be the positive patient that I am.

 

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For more, here’s an uplifting article about how pets can improve your health. Do you have any experience with an animal helping you better manage your disease or condition? 

To find a pet rescue near you, click here! Hope you consider adopting whether or not you’re ill; pets have a way of changing your life for the better!

Keep moving forward 🙂 I’m rooting for you! (and so are your pets)

-Stacey

PetCareChoice.com


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Monday’s Suck Less with Coffee Chocolate Smoothie

Hi, Friends!

Hope you had a really great weekend! We drove to Dallas this weekend for the Red River Showdown: Texas vs. OU- a football rivalry we look forward to all year long. I actually didn’t take one.single.photo. this year- BLOG FAIL! But it was so fun….even though we lost. I loved visiting my sister who lives in Dallas, her boyfriend who gets deployed next week, and my in-laws. All of my favorite people!

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I finally cleaned out the “office” room of our house, and now you get to see what kind of real life slobbery Zack patiently endures ^

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It’s going to be much more when I get done with it, but for now it’s a clean space that Jaxon enjoys, and that’s enough!

Speaking of Jaxon:

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He’s a great cheerleader, deaf fluff and all. Love his enthusiasm.

The real reason for today’s post: I’m going to give you a reason to enjoy Monday mornings, because I like a challenge and Mondays deserve love, too.

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This thick, creamy smoothie was created with one of my favorite plant-based proteins, and if you’re a regular around here you know that’s Vega. This recipe has coffee and other goodness, making it a great way to kick-start your day with a boost. Try to fit as many nutritious ingredients as possible into your smoothies, just like you would a meal. Keep in mind that smoothies don’t trigger satiety cues from the brain the same way that food does though, meaning that it’s more difficult to get a sense of fullness from smoothies. They’re great for pre or post workout with a small meal, or as a snack, but make sure they’re thick and creamy if you’re eating them as a meal, that way you can actually sit down and eat them slowly. Also- strive for as much nutrition from your meals as possible, because real nutrition should come from real food, not protein shakes.

Morning Coffee Chocolate Smoothie

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A rich, coffee and chocolate smoothie perfect for breakfast.

Ingredients

  • high speed blender
  • 1/2 C almond milk
  • 1/2 C freshly-poured coffee
  • 1/2 C ice
  • 1 C frozen cauliflower
  • 1 handful of fresh kale
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tbsp organic cashew buttah
  • dash of ground cinnamon
  • 1 scoop of Vega Clean Chocolate Protein

Directions

  • Pour milk, protein and remaining ingredients into blender
  • Blend on “high” until thick and rich texture is visible
  • Pour and serve. Top with melted deep dark chocolate, or homemade granola for added texture and fun!


If you have a tough time getting the consistency as thick and as creamy as you’d like, add more frozen fruits/veggies or ice. Try just a small handful at a time until it looks tasty. If it’s too solid, add a bit more liquid and blend it up again. Don’t be afraid to play with your smoothie though- a good one is worth the work, and usually all it takes is a few more seconds of your attention.

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Tomorrow morning is a 5K jog, followed by one of these. Let me know if you give it a shot- tell me what you think! Hope your Monday is pretty good for a Monday 🙂


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Weekend in San Francisco

This past weekend Sydney, a close friend from high school, and I traveled to San Francisco to celebrate a wedding. We had zero plans after our plane landed, so we decided to take a drive across Golden Gate to Sausalito!

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I actually thought Sausalito was a sleepy little harbor town in a quiet dreamland, but after breakfast the town started to come alive. We really loved walking around and exploring this place!

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We found a coffee and breakfast nook called Cibo that I HIGHLY recommend if you’re ever in the Bay Area. I had a smoked salmon panini with black coffee that tasted nutty and strong, and the prices weren’t outrageous. I’d give them 5 stars!

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Then we walked along the harbor, hitched a Lyft, and journeyed to Muir Woods, down and around switchbacks that our driver navigated at brisk, daring speeds growing faster as the curves got steeper, and Sydney and I both ended up carsick…

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…But seeing this forest was well worth it!

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These trees were sacred. I mean it. I felt so incredibly enchanted and peaceful walking through their cool shade, looking up high into the sky to see their leaves while tripping over their strong, gigantic root systems in my tiny shoes, laughing at myself. I thanked God for this magical experience.

Just as I was thinking, “I am so small and insignificant” I ran into my roommate from Houston, Christy (and the world suddenly felt even smaller)!!! I had NO IDEA that we were going to be in San Francisco the same weekend, and we had ZERO cell reception in Muir Woods, so we honestly couldn’t have planned our reunion any better than fate.

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Remember when I said we had zero cell phone reception? That also means no Lyft or Uber…so after Muir Woods we called a (very expensive) taxi cab driver from the Muir Woods Visitor Center to take us back into Sausalito…where we ended up carsick (again).

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But nothing a glass two glasses of California Pino Noir couldn’t fix.

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Then we ferried back across The Bay for an affordable $12 and met Christy for dinner…

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…after coffee and bookstores, of course.

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They didn’t have Rupi Kaur’s new book that I was looking for, “The Sun and Her Flowers” *womp*

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The next morning we slept in and enjoyed the sun beaming in through our AirBnB before taking a walk under the warm sun in the cool, windy air to breakfast.

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We walked through a nice, beautiful neighborhood with large, manicured yards, which seems to be rare in SF. Sydney said these trees “looked like giant broccoli”- ha!

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We went to Cafe Antigua in Japantown where I was pumped to drink this almond chai, and it was delightful. But I made the mistake of ordering a breakfast taco (sorry guys, the Texan in me strikes again), which I’m pretty sure made me violently symptomatic…or maybe it was the chai. Who knows!
The rest of the day was spent napping/recovering while Sydney bossed an economics exam.

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Followed by ice cream from Cream

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And then the wedding! So beautiful. This was my first time at a Muslim Palestinian wedding, and if I’m being honest- I have never felt more alive at a wedding reception before in my life! From hours of dancing to live drums and tambourines to the food-I loved every soul I met- the families were so hospitable and accommodating “be sure to dance all night long!” and celebrating Waleed and Amany until late at night was a real treat.

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I got a pic with the King! Groom Waleed and I met while we were both working at a hospital in Houston. He was counting down the days until he and his roommate got to move back home to San Francisco, but in the meantime he adopted me as his little sister, and I am so thankful. I couldn’t be happier for he and his Bride- she is a true beauty inside and out. So much happiness!

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The next morning we said “Goodbye!” to our sweet, little bnb and headed back to the airport.

I missed Zack (and Jaxon) A TON, so it was great to return home.

Until next time, California 🙂


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Clean Protein Chocolate Berry Smoothie

Hi, Friends!

This week has been graced by much-needed fall weather here in OKC, and I’ve been loving it! Yesterday I was craving a thick and creamy, rich antioxidant smoothie that wouldn’t send my blood sugar levels soaring and left me feeling satisfied.

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And I nailed it. This smoothie is perfect for post-workout, early mornings…or skip the workout and enjoy it anyway, guilt-free. It’s nutritious, creamy, thick, and satisfying.

Here’s how to make this Clean Protein Chocolate Berry Smoothie

Clean Protein Chocolate Berry Smoothie

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • high speed blender
  • 1 C almond milk
  • 1 C frozen cauliflower
  • 1 handful of fresh spinach
  • ½ C frozen raspberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tbsp organic cashew buttah
  • dash of ground cinnamon
  • 1 scoop of Vega Clean Protein (I used the chocolate flavor, for obvious reasons)

Directions

  1. Pour milk, protein and remaining ingredients into blender
  2. Blend on “high” until thick and rich texture is visible
  3. Pour and serve. I like to top with melted deep dark chocolate, raw cacao nibs, berries, or homemade granola for added texture and fun. Enjoy!

I should also add that you can’t taste the cauliflower, because I really don’t like cauliflower, and I enjoyed the crap outta this creation.

I like Vega protein because I never felt like it added to my UC symptoms, and I have tried LOTZZZZ of different brands. In addition, Vega products contain no traces of whey or dairy. While whey is an easily absorbed protein source, it can add to stomach irritation. Need I say more? Oh- there’s no added sugar in this stuff. Okay- done. If you’re interested in shopping my very favorite plant-based protein powder here it is:


New Vega 45 Serving Tub

Hope you’re having a great day, wherever you are! Let me know what you think of this smoothie recipe if you decide to give it a try!

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And for you food nerds in the house, here’s some additional info:
-cashews are among nuts that can lower inflammatory marker levels, such as C-reactive protein, but pick a nut butter without added sugar | source
-Make sure to eat a diet high in healthy natural fats to help tame your sweet tooth. Also, cinnamon is a great natural way to sweeten your smoothies without adding sugar! | source
-One cup of raw cauliflower will provide: 77% of daily vitamin C needs, 20% of daily vitamin K needs, and 10% or more of daily needs for vitamin B6 and folate | source

Keep moving forward 🙂

-Stacey

 

Disclaimer: I receive a small amount of commission from the product links in this post. Please know that I would NEVER share products on my blog that threaten my authenticity or compromises the usefulness of my blog as a resource for those I care about. I share good shit, because it’s what I like. 

Peanutbuttah Cinnamon Granola Time

I love being awake early in the mornings on the weekends. I feel like the day is mine; like I’ve discovered a world without lines at the coffee shop, trafficless streets, and running routes free from swarms of people. Mine.

This morning I woke up and it felt fall-ish, so I thought I’d bake some quick granola in the spirit of the changing seasons. For all you runners and fitness freaks, this is an excellent source of complex carbs, fats, and fiber, giving you energy and keeping you fuller longer.  Note that this stuff is pretty caloric, so proceed with caution before you eat it by the handful  faceful.

Peanutbutter-Cinammon Granola

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What you’ll need:
-3 cups of old fashioned rolled oats (here’s the kind I buy in bulk, but use whatever makes you happy!)
-1 cup mixture of unsalted sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sliced almonds
-a splash of cinnamon (or a hefty shake. If I’m being honest, I never measure cinnamon, and I know this will drive some people nuts. Live a little, you rule-abiding, recipe-following friends- I promise you won’t regret it in this recipe.)
-3 tsp honey (optional- tastes great without it!)
-4 tbsp vanilla extract
-1 cup peanut buttah- stick it in the microwave for 10-20 seconds to soften
-1/2 cup coconut oil- also needs to be softened justttt a bit
-an oven, preferably one larger than my miniature oven, set to 350.

*The secret to this stuff is to mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately before combining them*
-Spread mixture over a non-stick pan and stick in the oven for 5 minutes
-STIR and fluff with fork at the end of the 5 minutes- this will prevent the stuff from sticking to the pan and burning
-Stick it back in the oven for another 6 minutes
D O N E

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Serve over yogurt, in a smoothie bowl, or in your hands. Enjoy!
Store in an air-tight container. Today I chose door number two pictured above, and I added raw cacao nibs for additional fun and excitement.

Hope you all have a great Saturday :). Mine is full of organic chemistry, a 5k, and a wedding. SO MUCH LIFE, and life is good.