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5 Ways to Workout While Traveling

Are you someone that completely gives up on their workout and diet routines when you travel?

While traveling is plenty of fun, maintaining a workout routine on-the-go is difficult. Being in a new environment presents its own set of challenges, and it’s hard to be motivated to work when I really just want to play. Since I order my ice cream by the “no topping left behind” motto though, fitness is a necessary evil, and just like I do at home, I’ve found ways to work out on my trips that I can actually enjoy and take in as part of my overall experience.

Here are my 5 favorite ways to sneak in a workout while traveling:

#1 Go for a run.

Running is my favorite approach to working out when I’m traveling, and I usually like to take a jog the first day I arrive somewhere new. After spending 12-24 hours rushing to make our flight time, floating through crowds at the airports, ensuring all our belongings have safely arrived, and searching for transportation to our hotel stay, taking a jog gives me time to clear my head and feel more grounded in my new environment. Plus, it’s great for cities and rural travel.

During my first visits to Barcelona and New York City, running was #1 on my agenda for my first mornings there. By jogging aimlessly through the streets, I gained a feel for the neighborhood and local markets. Larger cities (especially in Europe) tend to operate on a later schedule, so if you head out for a jog around 8 am, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find only moderate crowds. Alternatively, the scenic views will make a run through the countryside worth it if you’re visiting a less-trafficked area.

#2 Find local yoga or fitness classes.

Finding local yoga or fitness classes is as easy as googling your destination, so I think this is a pretty simple way to incorporate fitness into your already busy travel schedule. If you’re traveling for business, this can also be a great way to make sure you’re giving enough time for your workout. Between fitness studios, local gyms, and other resources, you’re sure to find an option that you can make time for.

Pro Tip: Yoga and fitness studios typically allow per class payments, but most offer a first-time discount such as $30 unlimited for the first month. If you’re visiting somewhere for a week or so, take advantage of this by signing up for the discounted month. Considering your cost will probably be $20-$30 per class, you’ll be sure to save if you attend even just two classes.

Also, don’t forget about what you already pay for! If you’re a remember of a national chain like LA Fitness or Gold’s Gym, they may also offer free classes for members plus you can get in some weightlifting. Call ahead to find out what’s available!

Lastly, take advantage of free resources. Yoga with Adriene is one of my YouTube go-to’s, but in some places, you can find free yoga during the right time of year. Check out this list to see the free local yoga in NYC.

#3 Look for local pick-up games.

Have you ever asked to join in on a pick-up game?  Beach volleyball is not an easy sport, and you can pretty much guarantee that locals will have a game going at most beaches. You can always ask to join in, but AirBnB has starting offering activities they call “experiences.” I’ve found beachfront yoga, tai chi, pilates, beach volleyball, and more by searching through there, and most of them are more affordable than the studio classes. They also have a ton of other experiences available, but I’d highly recommend giving this a try for fitness specifically!

#4 Do a quick HIIT workout in your hotel gym or room.

HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. In layman’s terms, this is exactly the kind of workout you need for traveling. HIIT combines endurance training with high impact exercises, so while you can’t workout for as long of a period, you’ll build muscle and enhance your cardio abilities in half the amount of time. Plus, it won’t take much time out of your day, so you can get back to exploring.

I’ve been known to bring resistance bands with me, and those can be useful when doing workouts like this in your hotel room or outside. Hotel gyms are normally equipped well enough to at least get in the basics too!

#5 Try something new!

The whole basis of traveling is to try something new, so why not combine the two? New places mean more activities, and you can always sign up to try something new. Surfing, paddle boarding, hiking, and sailing are just a few things I can think of to keep you active on vacation. I also mentioned AirBnb experiences earlier in this article, and it’s an excellent resource for this as well. Search for a surfing lesson, and get out in the waves to get your ass kicked! It might be hard, but you’ll have tried something new (plus worked out muscles you probably never knew existed).

I’ve got a few posts in the works on the exact workouts I do, so let me know what questions you have or want more info on!

XX,

Cassie

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Vegan Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

Did you make the decision to go vegan, and all of a sudden realize. . .  what about alfredo sauce? Well, I’m here to offer you a solution. Since it seems like cauliflower is a substitue for all of our plant-based needs lately, let’s stay on trend with this cauliflower alfredo sauce. Inspired by Crunchy Creamy Sweet’s recipe, use this to replace that cheesy sauce and keep it vegan.

When I made my Garlic Shrimp & Asparagus Pasta recipe, I needed a sauce to go with it. After searching through aisles at the grocery store, I decided I’d have to make one on my own, and this is where I ended up. Try it on other recipes, and let me know your thoughts!

buying the ingredients

I’m not brand loyal to a specific kind of vegan Parmesan cheese, but I would suggest searching at Whole Foods if you’re hoping to find a good quality one. I’m sure Kroger, Trader Joe’s, or other chains that carry organic options will have a few items to choose from.

health benefits

My pasta recipe focuses on ingredients like shrimp and asparagus that are high in antioxidants, so while there are many health benefits to cauliflower, I’d like to focus on the nutrients. Like the other ingredients mentioned, cauliflower has a high concentration of phytochemicals that will help fight the damage done to cells by free radicals. Combining this recipe with my Garlic Shrimp & Asparagus Pasta provides an antioxidant-packed yet quick and easy dinner option.

cooking tips & tricks

You may also use vegetable broth if you feel it’s a better flavor than the broth used to cook the cauliflower in. Keep an eye on your consistency here as you don’t want to make the sauce too thin or leave it too thick either.

 

Vegan Alfredo Cauliflower Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Temp: Med-High

Cook Time: 10-minutes

Yield:  1 Mason Jar

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 7 cloves roasted garlic
  • ½-1 cup broth (from cooking cauliflower)
  • ¼ cup vegan parmesan cheese
DIRECTIONS

  1. Follow these instructions for roasting your garlic.
  2. While garlic’s roasting in the oven, bring water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Add chopped cauliflower to water, and cook until cauliflower is extra tender.
  3. With a straining spoon, remove cauliflower pieces from the pot, and add them to your food processor.
  4. Add garlic cloves, vegan parmesan cheese, and broth from boiling the cauliflower into the food processor. Blend until sauce becomes the right consistency adding more broth as needed.
  5. Pour sauce into a mason jar for storage.

BONUS:

I think this recipe would be delicious if it included roasted garlic AND red peppers. I’ve not given it a try yet, but let me know if you do! I’d be happy to feature your recipe on my page 🙂

How Plant-Based Is This Recipe?

This recipe is made with all plant-based ingredients! Keep in mind that if you decide to sub the vegetable broth with any kind of animal broth that it will no longer be vegan. This recipe gets a 10!

Plant-Based Rating Scale
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
No Plant-Based Ingredients Partially Plant-Based Ingredients Entirely Plant-Based

Nutrition Facts

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Garlic Shrimp & Asparagus Pasta

It feels like pasta is never healthy, but this pescetarian-friendly version brings a creative twist to a few of your favorite ingredients. Inspired by Primavera Kitchen.

Recently, I’ve felt more inspired by Italian and Mediterranean dishes. Since I eat a primarily plant-based diet though, that means I have to get creative. I read through several recipes similar to this one before coming across the Garlic Shrimp Asparagus Skillet recipe I’ve linked above. By switching up a few things and combining this with my Vegan Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce, I came up with a delicious yet quick and easy weeknight meal.

buying the ingredients

While you could easily substitute this with regular coconut oil, Nutiva’s butter-flavored coconut oil will tie all the flavors together. I haven’t found this at any grocery store aside from Whole Foods yet, so I’d suggest ordering it online if you don’t have one nearby. You’ll find that I use it in a TON of my other recipes too. It’s a great substitute for vegan meals, so you never have to sacrifice flavor!

health info

While you may not expect it, shrimp and asparagus are both excellent sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are capable of protecting your cells from what’s called “free radical” damage which can occur from certain chemicals, smoking, or as a result of your metabolism. Asparagus has a high concentration, but make sure not to over or under-cook it as that can affect its cancer-fighting potential. While shrimp has other nutrients as well, four ounces of this seafood contains 100% of your daily value of selenium, one of the key antioxidants to fighting aging and disease.

cooking tips & tricks

As I said above, don’t under or overcook the asparagus for the sake of its nutrient value. I would say the same about the shrimp but more for the sake of taste. All in all, this is a pretty easy recipe to make, but I’d love to hear any suggestions you have on improving it!

 

Garlic Shrimp & Asparagus Pasta

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Temp: Med-High

Cook Time: 10 -15 minutes

Yield:  4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound medium-sized shrimp (shells removed)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3 tablespoons butter-flavored coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 bunch asparagus (chopped)
  • Freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 box fettuccine pasta noodles
  • Sauce: Vegan Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce – you could also use store bought Alfredo
DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook noodles according to instructions on box.
  2. In small mixing bowl, whisk onion powder and minced garlic together. Toss shrimp in the spices making sure it gets well-covered in the mixture.
  3. In a cast-iron skillet, add butter-flavored coconut oil, and once it’s melted, add seasoned shrimp to skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side until shrimp appear to be cooked through. Remove shrimp, and set aside where they will keep warm.
  4. Add asparagus to the skillet, and cook 5-6 minutes or until asparagus become tender. Stirring occasionally. (Add a little extra garlic here if you like it). Put shrimp back into the skillet, and mix well to combine.
  5. Fill bowl with pasta plus shrimp & veggie mixture. Top with Vegan Alfredo Cauliflower Sauce and fresh parsley. Enjoy!

BONUS:

If you want to check out Primavera Kitchen’s recipe, she included mushrooms in hers which I think would be delicious. We’re just not huge mushroom fans in my house.

How Plant-Based Is This Recipe?

The only ingredient that isn’t plant-based in the entire meal is the shrimp. Eventually, I’ll post an option for making this recipe with tofu. For now though, I’d give this a 6 on my plant-based scale.

Plant-Based Rating Scale
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
No Plant-Based Ingredients Partially Plant-Based Ingredients Entirely Plant-Based

Nutrition Facts

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Tiny House in a Vineyard

While tiny homes have been featured on HGTV for years now, we’ve only just begun to witness their impact on tourism over the last couple of years. In 2015, we had a population of 1.2 billion international travelers, and this number is expected to rise to 1.8 billion by 2030. These projections have led the United Nations to focus on eco-tourism, and “glamping” could be part of the solution. Tiny homes not only decrease waste, but they also offer a one-of-a-kind vacation experience. When we came across this gorgeous tiny home, we knew we had to book a stay there immediately, and we are so glad we took the time to venture out of Barcelona to see the Penedes wine region. Between the convenience of the area, the wine tour, and the relaxing atmosphere, we couldn’t have asked for a better stay with Serena House.

how to get there & what to do

Driving. I would highly recommend driving to the tiny home if possible. Parking is available at ArtCava, and the winding roads are gorgeous to drive through on a sunny afternoon. You’ll have more flexibility to visit other nearby wineries as well. We were already road tripping along the eastern coast of Spain, so we drove from Peniscola to the wineyard. You’ll only be ~an hour from Barcelona, and if you have the time, only 45 minutes from Montserrat. Driving allowed us to visit Montserrat mountain in the morning which is another adventure I would highly recommend.

Train or Bike. The Lavern-Subirats train station is also not far. For a fee, you can have someone from the ArtCava staff pick you up. Bike rentals are available near the station though, and it’s only a 20 minute ride to the tiny home. 

Bike Rentals & Wine Tours. The ArtCava staff played a large role in making this the most relaxing stay of our trip to Spain. Since we arrived earlier in the morning, they were extremely helpful with our request to explore other wineries before our final stop at ArtCava and even coordinated a cycling tour for us (from the Lavern-Subirats train station). After viewing the roads though, I knew I wasn’t experienced enough to bike that mileage AND make it to all the wineries in time. I had recently gotten into a bicycle accident, and the staff was understanding when I canceled our rental. I would highly recommend scheduling a cycling tour through them if you’re more experienced than me. We took the guide’s suggestions on which wineries to visit and made the tour by car. Each place had its own style, and it was interesting to spend the day chatting with those that worked at the wineries in the area. Many of the people we met had families with rich history in the wine industry or had moved to Spain after their first job working for their family’s winery in central or south America. The conversations made for a lovely afternoon with Albet i Noya being our favorite winery aside from ArtCava.

wine tour & check-in

If I thought the staff was helpful in scheduling the bike rentals, they were even better when it came to scheduling our ArtCava wine tour. We were able to arrive a few hours before our tiny home check-in, and they even scheduled it outside of their normal hours to accomodate us. The tour was the perfect combination of history and wine. The winery has been passed down for seven or eight generations since its beginning in 1730, and the original family dwelling remains an integral part of their wine-making process. Ramon enthusiastically walked our group through each room explaining the renovations that had been made to the home throughout the years. His candid tour made me feel as if I was stepping back in time to the origins of cava, the Spanish version of champagne. After explaining the layout of the home, we were able to tour the cellar as well as witness the bottling process. If you’re not familiar with cava or not very knowledgeable on wine, ArtCava is a perfect place to start. The wine tasting was laidback as is the culture. You won’t be following unfamiliar tasting rules but rather enjoy tossing back small glasses of cava. The drink’s not only meant to help you relax after a long day, but it’s also for sharing and enjoying with others. We felt more like we were making friends more than going to a wine tasting.

After the tour wrapped up, we continued enjoying the delicious cava from our tiny home. Ignaci brought over our key and walked us through the rows of grape vines to our humble home. After he ensured we were comfortable, we were left to enjoy the scenery on our own which included a welcome bottle of cava.

an outdoor sunset & dinner

When I talk to people about tiny homes, most of the initial questions involve what accomodations are available. Tiny homes designed for tourism as opposed to everyday living can have a luxurious design, and in our case, we were greeted by a king bed, large couch and dining table, quaint kitchen, and a bathroom that included a full shower. On our first night, we headed to a local Mercadona to grab supplies for dinner. I made fresh salmon with potatoes and vegetables which is an excellent indication of how easy it was to cook in the kitchen as well as the location’s close proximity to markets.

After cooking dinner, we enjoyed our complimentary bottle of cava on the small patio attached to the tiny home. Overlooking the rolling vineyards and Montserrat, I couldn’t have asked for a better sunset, and as it got darker, we played some board games (which were supplied in the tiny home) and watched a movie we downloaded in the incredibly comfortable bed as we dozed off to sleep.

an indoor sunrise & breakfast

As you can imagine, the large window gives you no choice but to wake up with the sun. While I didn’t snag any pictures because my hubby was still asleep, this was one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve seen, and I witnessed it from indoors! After spending a few days in Barcelona and then Valencia, waking up to the stillness of the morning was so relaxing, and we were both awake in time to see one of the ArtCava staff drop off a basket for breakfast. This had to be my favorite part of our entire experience here.

This medium-sized wicker basket fit perfectly with the overall motif and came fully stocked with delicious granola, milk, fresh fruit, and a baguette (in true European fashion). We took advantage of the patio one last time, and enjoyed our breakfast while admiring the mountain we were about to visit from afar. Dropping off the key was convenient as well, and we were able to head off for Montserrat right on time. I don’t have enough good things to say about the ArtCava staff as well as this experience, and like most places I visit, I wish we could’ve spent more time here.

Book your experience now !

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Lakeview at Fontana: Treetop Cabanas & More

If you watch my Instagram stories, you saw it there first. 🙂 I got plenty of questions from people about this place, so here’s a few notes about our trip and what you need to know before booking yours!

Nestled near Bryson City, North Carolina and about an hour from Asheville, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find Lakeview at Fontana Inn & Spa.  The name says it all considering this secluded resort overlooks  Fontana Lake and offers breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. This beautiful scenery will be well worth the drive to get there, and if you choose to stay at Lakeview, your experience will include all of their wonderful amenities. Between the wine tasting, luxury spa, and treetop cabana, I can honestly say it was an exceptional experience, and my husband I certainly plan to visit again.

how to get there & what to do

You’re approximately two and a half hours from the Knoxville – McGhee Tyson Airport and one and half hours from the Asheville Regional Airport. If you’re planning to drive in from the Tennessee side of the Smokies, double check the route the GPS is taking you. One of the most direct drives in will be the The Tail of the Dragon, an 11-mile stretch of highway with 318 curves. Discovery’s named this one of the top ten motorcycle rides in the country, so if you’re feeling extra adventurous, I would give it a try. After living here most of my life though, I will preface this by saying I hear stories of fatal accidents happening there regularly. Personally, I opt to take the extra 20-30 minutes to come in via the Cherokee Indian Reservation since we currently live in Knoxville (to each their own!).

The area itself is more secluded than most other places I’ve been near the TN/NC border but still provides an array of activites for couples and families. If you love the great outdoors like me, you’ll find plenty of options for whitewater rafting, hiking, etc. While we didn’t have an opportunity to take part, Lakeview also offers private yoga classes as well as a daily 9 am class that I wish I would have had the chance to do.

You’ll also be roughly 15 minutes from Bryson City and 20 minutes from Cherokee. The former has a few good restaurants, and you could also check out the up and coming Nantahala Brewing Company. Their beers are fantastic, but their restaurant wasn’t open yet when we were there. Let me know if you give it a try! If you have more time, you could also take this opportunity to visit the Cherokee Indian Reservation complete with casinos and other tourist attractions you might already be imagining. It would certainly be a fun place to visit with the whole family.

wine hour & massages

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to stay in the beautiful rooms they have, but you can guarantee I’ll be back. Booking accommodations with short notice leaves me in this kind of situation sometimes, but I like to stay on my toes. When we drove up the winding road to Lakeview, I immediately noticed the European feel to the buildings as well as the restaurant, and the staff was so welcoming. We’d purchased a spa package which included an invite to their cocktail hour complete with white AND red sangria plus a variety of snacks like gourmet pretzels, olives, cheeses, and nuts. All of which was perfect pre-massage, and we had the opportunity to enjoy them on their terrace overlooking Fontana Lake.

After a glass (or two) of sangria, we were able to make our way down to the spa for our massages. This small building with an entrance winding around the side has some wonderful massage therapists, and they made me feel very comfortable. I don’t have enough compliments to write to explain, so you can read all about their spa services here.  🙂

the treetop soaking cabana

           

Can you believe there’s MORE to this beautiful haven? Last but not least. . . we began our extremely brief hike to the Treetop Soaking Cabana. Yes, you did read that right. This exquisite setup took me by surprise. If you choose to book the complete package with champagne, rose petals, and calming music, someone will have this setup for you ahead of time, so your entire cabana experience is truly secluded.

For an hour and a half, we were able to enjoy the view from our little treehouse, and there’s even a small patio where you and whoever you’re with can enjoy that champagne. Choosing to go at sunset was perfect timing, and I’d highly recommend booking around that time. It also will make your experience more enjoyable in the North Carolina heat 🙂

conclusion

Are you from east Tennessee or western North Carolina? You HAVE to make this road trip! Not only will Lakeview be perfect for any special occasion or a weekend getaway, it’s also incredibly affordable considering the amenities you receive.

Would you need to fly in for this experience? Make an entire vacation out of it, and visit Asheville while you’re there. Boasting tons of breweries and exceptional restaurant options, you’ll need to make more than just your reservations at Lakeview ahead of time. We failed to call any restaurants beforehand on our last trip there, and most places were PACKED. Enjoy a few days in the city and make the hour drive to spend a little time at Lakeview at Fontana. Let me know if you’re considering this, and I would love to answer any questions you have about the area!

 

 

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A Night & A Morning in Valencia

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain with a population of 1.7 to 2.5 million depending on how the metropolitan area is defined, and the Port of Valencia is the fifth-largest container port in Europe. All of this aside, my biggest regret from our trip along Spain’s beautiful eastern coast is not allotting more time for the authentically, breathtaking city of Valencia, far different from the tourist-packed streets of Barcelona. For the one night we spent though, I’m glad we chose to make it a relaxing one including all the essentials: tapas, wine, and a wholesome breakfast the following morning.

Getting to valencia

We drove 3 hours down the eastern coastline of Spain from Barcelona to Valencia. Driving allowed us to see landscapes we otherwise wouldn’t have, but I would strongly encourage taking the more scenic routes to avoid tolls. We ended up paying quite a bit on our way down, and it only saved us an hour. Plan ample time if you’d like to make the drive or stop half-way in between. On the bright side, driving in Valencia was pretty similar to Barcelona which meant it was manageable, but parking was hard to come by. Fortunately, our AirBnB host had given us instructions to a parking garage nearby. It really wasn’t too bad, but it’s something to be prepared for and research ahead of time!

Tip #1:
” . . . I would strongly encourage taking the more scenic routes to avoid tolls. We ended up paying quite a bit on our way down, and it only saved us an hour. Plan ample time if you’d like to make the drive or stop half-way in between. “

 

The evening

After we dropped our luggage off, we were ready to explore. Valencia is one of those cities where you can stumble upon wonderful places. Cafe Infanta, the restaurant we found for dinner, proved to be just that with authentic tapas and deliciously cheap wine. We procrastinated planning the next day at a dimly-lit corner table surrounded by plenty of cinema memorabilia.  After leaving, we stocked up on wine for the evening and walked back towards our AirBnB. To provide fair warning, the closed restaurants made finding our new place challenging. Restaurants with plenty of outside seating in front whose large, garage-like doors were previously open had now closed, and their tables stored for the night. With the corner restaurant on the street being the landmark we were searching for, it’s safe to say we might have taken a few wrong turns. . . or several. I’d suggest making sure to drop a pin on Maps any time you’re in a city with narrow, winding streets and sidewalks like Valencia has. That’s just one more element of the adventure though!

Find Your Flex - Dinner in ValenciaTip #2:
“I’d suggest making sure to drop a pin on Maps any time you’re in a city with narrow, winding streets and sidewalks like Valencia has. “

The morning

Since we typically wake up early at home, we had a hard time sticking to the late-morning schedule of Spain. Luckily, El Mercat Central opens early, so we headed there to grab supplies for breakfast. The market itself is an architectural landmark of the city with its construction beginning in 1914 and completed in 1928. The first day of building and the day of opening both warranted large celebrations in the city of Valencia. If you go, I would suggest going early (around 8-9 am). You’ll have the opportunity to see the many shop and restaurant owners opening up around this time; some of whom will be out with their soap buckets flooding their front sidewalk to clean it before their customers arrive. More importantly though, you’ll have the benefit of freely shopping the many rows of fresh seafood, pastries, cheeses, smoked meat, fruits, and veggies.

Find Your Flex - Quick & Healthy Omelette Find Your Flex - Bread & Mandarin Jelly Find Your Flex - Bowl of Fruit Find Your Flex - Croissants & Pastries

Tip #3: 
“If you go, I would suggest going early (around 8-9 am).”

To see what I made with solely fresh ingredients from this market, check out my Quick & Healthy Omelettes recipe. While I didn’t have time to make anything more interesting before heading off to our next city, it was so relaxing to spend the morning enjoying a home-cooked breakfast on the terrace.

Find Your Flex - Cooking Quick & Healthy Omelette

Conclusion

When it’s all said and done, I would’ve planned more time in Valencia if I would’ve known how much we’d love the town, but it was a perfect stay either way. If you’re planning on visiting there and have any questions about my post, please reach out to me! I’d love to help give you suggestions for your trip.

Find Your Flex - Eating Breakfast in Valencia

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+ Find Your Flex - Quick & Healthy Omelette

Quick & Healthy Omelettes (Made With Fresh Ingredients)

Do you ever visit the Farmer’s Market in your local town on a weekend? If you’ve been struggling to kick off a healthier diet regimen, this could be a great place to start.  For this quick and healthy omelette recipe, I’ve used only ingredients that I purchased fresh that morning from El Mercat Central in Valencia, Spain, and it’s pretty simple to make too.

buying the ingredients

Like I said, all these ingredients were purchased at the local market that morning which means this was freshhhhh. Seriously.  I didn’t use anything that you couldn’t purchase at your local Farmer’s Market as well, so you can replicate this at home and probably navigate your market much faster than we navigated the massive labyrinth that was the beautiful El Mercat Central. If you live in Valencia or the surrounding areas, the market has a home delivery service as well.

health info

This one’s pretty straight forward, but since I don’t see people shopping at local markets enough, maybe I’m wrong. Like I said, these ingredients were crazy fresh, so in turn, they were crazy healthy too. When we buy produce from a  supermarket, we have no way to tell how long it’s been in the store or how long it took to get there. If that little orange you’re eating was picked three weeks ago, jumped on a semi-truck to travel to your local grocery store, and then hung out with his other orange friends for a few days before YOU finally purchased and consumed it, you’re not getting nearly as many vitamins and nutrients as you would from a fresh orange. You can obviously make this with normal produce, but it’s worth noting that you could probably purchase all of this at a local, fresh market on a Saturday morning.

cooking tips & tricks

Find Your Flex - Cooking Quick & Healthy Omelette

While the ingredients are pretty simple, omelettes can be tricky to make without breaking, and it’s easy to have a scrambled eggs situation. I’ve always preferred to make omelettes one by one in a skillet, because by nature, it holds their shape. You could also use a griddle, but I haven’t done this very often. Let me know if you try it and have tips!

Quick & Healthy Omelettes

Find Your Flex - Quick & Healthy Omelette
Prep Time: 10 minutes

Temp: Med-High

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield:  2 omelettes

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp. olive oil.
6 eggs
1/4 cup onion (sliced)
1 clove fresh garlic (minced)
1 green pepper (cut in quarters)
1 red pepper (cut in quarters)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Turn stove top to med-high heat. Add olive oil and a couple slices of onion from 1/4 cup into medium-sized skillet.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk 3 eggs in a medium-sized bowl until they almost seem fluffy.
  3. By this time, the onion slices should be translucent and the olive oil hot. Slowly pour the whisked eggs into the skillet.
  4. Once the egg begins to bubble (similar to a pancake), carefully lift the edge to see if it’s ready to be folded over. It should take about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Once it seems almost ready, spread peppers, garlic, and onions evenly across the omelette. Don’t overload it, or it might break in the folding process.
  6. Use your spatula to gently fold the egg pancake in half, and press down. Let it cook with the vegetables inside for a minute or two more.
  7. Remove from the skillet, and repeat this process with the next omelette!

BONUS: 

Add on some fresh greens, grape tomatoes, and a lemon if you want to make a refreshing side salad like you see in my picture. Simply slice the tomatoes, top the fresh greens with them, and squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the top.

How Plant-Based Is This Recipe? 

Considering there are 3 eggs in one omelette, I’m going to give this recipe a 4 on the palnt-based scale.

Plant-Based Rating Scale
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
No Plant-Based Ingredients Partially Plant-Based Ingredients Entirely Plant-Based

Nutrition Information

 

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His & Hers Smoothie Bowls

Does your significant other have a slightly different taste than you? For instance, Scott loves strawberries while I’m more of a blueberries kind of gal. Part of being flexitarian is finding meals that work with your day to day lifestyle. When we first started eating vegan, breakfast became a huge challenge, because we were no longer eating eggs. INSERT SMOOTHIE BOWLS! These babies are packed full of stuff that’s good for you, and you can personalize it to your taste easily. Tweak this recipe to each of your taste buds, and let me know if you do! I love to hear new ideas (especially for yummy smoothies!).

buying the ingredients

As far as ingredients go, smoothie bowls are pretty simple. Obviously, you can buy all the fruits & veggies in the produce section of your local supermarket. If you’re struggling to find chia seeds, I would ask where the organic section is as I’ve found that most stores have started sectioning them off there. You can purchase the protein that I used by clicking the links below! There are a lot of great plant-based proteins out there, but Arbonne’s has become my favorite. Before you point it out too, I know that this collagen isn’t vegan. Haha. I don’t use it all the time, but vegan collagens are expensive. This one’s a good buy if you’re only going to use it here and there.

Arbonne’s Vanilla Protein Powder

Arbonne’s Chocolate Protein Powder

B0011DJ71I

NeoCell – Super Collagen Powder – 7 Ounces

 

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health info

Want more detail on why these smoothie bowls are great for you? Well, here we go. Berries have a long-standing reputation as an excellent source of antioxidants which have shown to lower blood pressure as well as improve memory with age. Read more on that here.  Collagen has proven itself as a reliever of joint pain and a secret to beautiful hair, skin, and nails. If you choose to use Arbonne protein like I have, you’ll save yourself from many of the harmful metallic ingredients that the animal-based protein blends contain. If you don’t wan to purchase a full bag of protein now, contact me here to inquire about ordering samples of products.

cooking tips & tricks

While there’s no real cooking with this recipe, you can easily make your smoothie too watery which isn’t great for bowls like this. If you prefer this to be more like a yogurt consistency, try using all frozen fruits and veggies. Your smoothie will be thicker and tastier!

His and Her Smoothie Bowls

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Temp: N/A 

Cook Time: N/A 

Yield:  2 smoothies

INGREDIENTS

Her Smoothie Bowl Ingredients:

1/3 cup blueberries
1/3 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 cup spinach
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
1 scoop Arbonne chocolate protein
1 scoop collagen

His Smoothie Bowl Ingredients:

1/3 cup blueberries
1/3 cup strawberries
1/3 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
1 scoop Arbonne vanilla protein
1 scoop collagen

Toppings for Both: chia seeds, chocolate chunks, sliced bananas, sliced strawberries, blueberries, granola, or shredded coconut

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add ingredients for the first smoothie into blender, mix until desired consistency, and pour into bowl.
  2. Add ingredients for the second smoothie into blender, mix until desired consistency, and pour into a second bowl.
  3. Sprinkle each with the toppings of your choice, and enjoy!

How Plant-Based Is This Recipe? 

If you include the collagen or use an animal-based protein powder, I would give this a 7-8.

If you use plant-based collagen and protein though, this is for sure a TEN!

Plant-Based Rating Scale
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
No Plant-Based Ingredients Partially Plant-Based Ingredients Entirely Plant-Based

Nutrition Information

Her Smoothie Bowl His Smoothie Bowl

**Not including toppings

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Running Doesn’t Have to Suck

Why do you run or want to start running? I’m guessing you clicked on this article, because you’re a runner now or have hope to be. In any case, more often than not I feel like I hear people complain about running. People DON’T run, because it’s too hard. People DO run, but complain about the mileage. Running doesn’t have to suck. You just have to learn to respond to your body and educate yourself a little if you want to get started as a runner.

Running Doesn't Have to Suck -2

Running exists in more forms than a steady pace for as many miles as you can endure in the mornings, and in all truth, you’re not doing yourself much good to reach your goals if that’s all you’re doing. Whether you’re running to train for a race or to be healthy, I’ll explain a few different workouts you can do to give your routine more of a kick.

Switch up your terrain. If you love your routine and want to stick to basic mileage each day, start changing your terrain. If you’re typically a road runner, ask some buddies where some nearby unpaved trails are located. In turn, run on the road a little if you’re typically on the trails. Pavement is great for timing and intervals, and trails can help develop those stabilizing muscles that you don’t engage on pavement. It’s good to test yourself every once in a while, and a change of scenery makes the miles go by quicker.

Visit a local track. Do you hate running a ton of mileage? Then don’t. You can see some great results just by getting yourself to the track a few days a week. It’s the perfect environment to work on your mental state as you’re striving to hit the perfect times as well as know you’re testing yourself at adequate distances. Go warm-up, and run a ton of sprints. There’s plenty of different kinds of interval workouts. I’ll be sure to do another post on that soon 🙂

Running Doesn't Have to Suck -1Run hills and marine circuits. Work a little harder on your lower and upper body by doing either hill workouts or marine circuits. Doing several intervals on a steep hill nearby can be the literal kick in the ass you need to get over your workout hump. Marine circuits are where you run a half mile to a mile, take a break to do pushups or other variations of ab workouts, and get right back at it. After a few of those, you can be pretty worn out, but every step is worth it. It’s another way to switch things up and avoid mileage.

Since I ran track and cross country in high school, I’ve always loved running, but one of my biggest pet peaves is how hard runners are on their bodies in training. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to listen to your body. Get in a quality hill workout if you didn’t get enough sleep to run those miles for your marathon training. Do an easy run if it feels way too hot out to run hills. Do what makes sense, and running doesn’t have to suck. 

I hope this article helps you find some inspiration, and feel free to reach out with questions 🙂

xoxo,

CM

 

 

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8 Reasons You Should Go to Bali

Bali Edited-190.jpgAfter plenty of research and debating where to go for our honeymoon, my husband and I took off for Bali, Indonesia in October 2017. Neither one of us were experienced travelers, and we knew we were in for a treat. Since we were coming from the United States, the travel time was the most daunting part considering we’d literally be flying to the opposite side of the world. It was an exactly 12 hour time difference, and we took what some conventional honeymooners would probably consider a risky route.

We flew from Knoxville, Tennessee to Chicago, Illinois. From there, we endured an almost 14 hour flight to Doha, Qatar. After missing our connection in Doha, we were given hotel, meal, and travel vouchers (I would highly recommend flying Qatar Airways if you haven’t yet). We then hopped on a sketchy, 85-mph bus ride to the hotel and enjoyed dinner in Doha which was a surprisingly fun experience.

From there, it took 9 more hours to get to Depansar, but we both agreed the flight was well-worth it. Case in point though, the travel to southeast Asia can be intimidating, but you won’t regret enduring the long flights for the experiences you’ll have! So, here’s why I think you should give it a shot.

1. THE People

Until you are able to interact with someone, I don’t think you can ever assume what they will be like. Our research indicated that the Balinese people were incredibly kind and friendly, but I was surprised by how true this was. The hotel staff at Maca Villas in Seminyak could not have done a better job, and they even surprised my husband with chocolate cake on his birthday.

Other people we met at restaurants or on excursions were more than willing to explain the culture to us and seemed excited to meet people from the United States. Even if you were turning someone down who wanted to sell you something, you’d receive responses like “Ok, thank you. Maybe tomorrow?” Due to the Balinese religion and the general belief of happiness and gratitude throughout the island, it truly is an enjoyable place to spend your time.

2. Food

Bali Edited-137.jpg

The quick expansion of tourism on the island created a delicious array of western-style restaurants, but fear not! Local cuisine is still prevalent for those searching for more cultural cuisine, or you can be like us and try it all! The Seminyak area proved great for any restaurant you’d like and was much quieter than Kuta. We weren’t disappointed with anything that we tried there. On the other hand though, Ubud offered more traditional, Balinese cuisine as did the neighboring islands. These options were not what I expected as I’d not been exposed to much island food before. If you enjoy spicy meals, be careful with the peppers!

 3. Cost

Prices in Bali made the expenses for the long flight easier to digest.  We were only disappointed in the cost of alcohol as it’s more expensive to import into the island. It cost less than $60 USD to have a driver for the entire day who took us to three stops in Ubud as well as Tanah Lot. We could each get a 2-hour massage for about $25 USD, and the most expensive meal we had included appetizers, drinks, specialty entrees, and dessert for only $60 USD. I’m not one to enjoy being tied to the resort for an entire trip, because you don’t get to experience much else. The low prices in Bali made it much less stressful to skip the all-inclusive option and enjoy the local restaurants and bars.

4. Religion & Culture

Bali Edited-38.jpg

Like I said before, the religion and culture of the Balinese people play a significant role in the hospitality you’ll experience. With the majority of Indonesia following the Muslim religion, Bali is an outlier island that predominantly practices Hindu. This unique sector of Balinese Hinduism believes in three caste levels: animal, human, and spirit. No one person is better than another. We were fortunate to experience Galungan Day which is the Balinese version of traditional Hindu Diwali. If you’re Christian, this is essentially their Christmas. Ceremonies were taking place all over the island, and locals showed us how to make the decorations they put on their homes. Check out the Bali Events Calendar to see what ceremonies you can check out while you’re there!

5. Balanced Activities

If you’re traveling with your spouse, family, or other friends, the amount of options available made Bali more fun. We wanted to relax with more tourist-type activities occasionally, but I also wanted to enjoy the native culture. Staying in Seminyak allowed us to stay in a quieter, tourist area with an easy trip over to Ubud. In my opinion, this is more “true Bali.” We were able to take two full days there that were well worth it, but we also took two lazy days on the beach or by the pool at the resorts.

6. Salon & Spa Options

By far, one of our favorite tourist activities were the salon and spa options. I already mentioned the low cost, and we were able to get massages, manicures, pedicures, etc. at an unbelievably low price. We went several times while we were there, and it was excellent after a long day of activities to be able to go enjoy that together, especially since we were on our honeymoon.

7. Outdoor Activities

After a couple of days on the beach, I get tired of sitting around pretty quickly. We wanted to have some sort of activities that we could take part in. Specifically, I love to hike. Unfortunately, Mt. Agung was on alert at the time, and we opted not to do the sunrise hike to the volcano due to the potential eruption. There are a ton of options for trekking though as well as surf lessons, white water rafting, etc. The majority of these are located on the northern side of the island, but it’s not a bad drive to get there.

8. Neighboring Islands

Bali Edited-170.jpg

We booked a last minute trip over to Lombok for a day, and it was definitely worth it. Based on everything the locals told us, we really missed out on the Gili Islands. All in all though, the neighboring islands of Bali are beautiful, and well worth any excursions you’re considering. We enjoyed some snorkeling, lunch, a banana boat ride, and a little more time on the beach. A pretty great day finished up with dinner in Seminyak.

When it was all said and done, we were in agreement that we’d be traveling back at some point but hopefully for a much longer than two weeks. I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions or if you’ve been to Bali yourself! I’m considering making this a series, so let me know if you’d be interested in that 🙂

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Delicious, Vegan Tacos

Do you LOVE tacos as much as I do? If you ask me where I want to go out eat, 9 times out of 10 you’ll get Chipotle, our local Mexican restaurant, or another variation of spicy food. When I first started eating vegan, not having a solid crunchy taco was a struggle. So, I created a little variation for you! Even my hubby loved these, and the homemade slaw takes the edge off the spice.

 

about the ingredients

You probably wouldn’t think to use mushrooms as a replacement, but they absorb the spice well. I’ll spare the exact details, but mushrooms have some solid nutritional benefit as well. Here’s an interesting article about it. 

I found this slaw at our local Kroger, but you could create something similar with a food processor.  It was just cauliflower, broccoli, green onions, and carrots. The perfect way to add some veggies to the tacos! If you can’t find it, I’d venture to guess you could take about 1/3 a crown of broccoli, 1/3 a crown of cauliflower, a couple carrots, and several green onions and process them. Let me know if you try it! I’d love to add it to this recipe.

cooking tips & tricks

Make sure you keep a good eye on the mushrooms while you’re cooking. They’re excellent on the tacos, and they certainly replace the texture you’re probably looking for. They can dry out pretty easily though.

Other than that, I don’t have much else to say about this recipe, because it was so easy! I hope to get a post up soon about the homemade guacamole and salsa I did with this. Let me know if you have any suggestions for homemade salsa recipes!

Delicious, Vegan Tacos

Difficulty Rating: 3 out of 5

Plant-Based Rating: 5 out of 5

Ingredients
Taco Filling & Shells
– Cremini mushrooms
– Yellow onion
– Olive oil
– WaterTaco Seasoning
– 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
– 1/2 Tablespoon Cumin
– 1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
– 1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
– 1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
– 1/2 Teaspoon Oregano
– 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
– 1 Teaspoon Pepper
 

 

Toppings
– Cauliflower, broccoli hash
– Frozen corn
– Cilantro (finely chopped)
– Salsa
– Guacamole
– Lettuce
– Daiya Cheese

Temp. 450 F Prep Time 10 min. Cook Time 15 min. Yield 4-5 servings
Directions:

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Place entire container of cremini mushrooms and yellow onion in food processor and blend until finely chopped.
3. Heat stove top to medium-high heat and add olive oil to skillet.
4. Add onions, mushrooms, and garlic to the skillet, and sautee until the mushrooms become a darker brown.
5. Add water and taco seasoning mixture. Bring to a boil, and quickly reduce heat. Let the mixture simmer until most of the water cooks off.
6. Meanwhile, place the soft tortilla shells into the oven for 4-5 minutes.
7. While the tortilla shells are cooking, mix together 1 cup of the broccoli hash, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1/3 cup frozen corn, and a little bit of olive oil.
8. Take the “taco meat” mixture off heat, and remove tortilla shells.
9. Top with the homemade slaw, salsa, guacamole, lettuce, Daiya cheese, or whatever else you like!

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Should You Try Plant-Based Skincare?

What’s your main concern when it comes to your skin? We all have insecurities and deserve to feel confident. Common brands like Revlon, CoverGirl, Estee Lauder, and more work against us though by mass-marketing products with harmful ingredients.  Factors such as lotions, makeup, nutrition, hydration, outdoor exposure, hormones, water pH, and more play a role in the health of our skin, and now, the products you choose have a significant impact. So, what can you do? Take a plant-based approach to your skincare routine! No matter your skin type, you can benefit.

Does It Help Sensitive Skin?

YES! If you have skin that’s prone to redness, irritation, or small breakouts, drug store products are overflowing with ingredients that could be causing all of it. To give you an example, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) can be found in many personal products, and it derives from a synthetic preservative that’s classified as a carcinogen by the National Cancer Institute (Staszczak).

While the companies add this to make hard water soft, EDTA serves a secondary purpose as a “penetration enhancer.” This means that it opens your pores quicker and wider, and it’s not selecting only quality ingredients for absorption. You’re getting ALL of it including petroleum byproducts, animal byproducts, and other harmful ingredients.

After using plenty plant-based, vegan solutions, I’ve finally settled on using Arbonne’s “Calm” set for my everyday use. I’d also suggest using this cleanser if you’re someone who is acne-prone or uses anti-aging products. Combining the “Calm” cleanser with other products yields excellent results for most. It “foams up” well, and if you’re frequently in the outdoors, it can be great to reduce any redness from general irritation.

Calming Collection

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.

 

I use this set every morning and every evening. I’ve struggled with acne-prone, sensitive skin for years. Breakouts used to be painful, and it felt like nothing worked. I was so relieved to find this and want to share it with you!
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Does It Help Acne-Prone Skin?

Absolutely! 95% of boys, and 83% of girls will suffer from “acne vulgaris” making it a universal disease. In recent years, acne-causing bacteria have become increasingly resistant to various forms of bacteria fighting drugs (Patel). You’ve probably used some of the common solutions including retinoic acid, clindamycin, or benzoyl peroxide, but these have recorded side effects. Not to mention that everything I said about sensitive skin applies to acne-prone skin as well! It can really feel like the cards are stacked against us.

I recently read a study done by the Journal of Pharmaceutical Science and Bioscientific Research (JPSBR). It reviews the effects of herbal drugs used to treat acne. In treating a 23-year old vegan, male patient with digestive herbs for three months, they saw a moderate decrease in his symptoms, and after one year, his acne was almost completely gone. Similarly, why not take this approach to topical skincare?

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Does It Help Side Effects From Aging?

Of course, it does! People using anti-aging products commonly fall victim to the use of unneccessary, harmful ingredients. To provide one example, hydroquinone is commonly used in anti-aging products to lighten skin or remove dark spots, but its topical side effects include redness, itching, and burning. How does that make any sense? It’s banned in the European Union, used under specific restrictions in Canada, and the U.S. Cosmetics Ingredients Review Panel does indicate that it’s unsafe. Lax enforcement though leaves room for its continued use, and no policy requires it be listed on the product label (Staczyack).

Here’s where plant-based products come in! If you’re looking for solutions that will help reduce the appearance of aging and reduce scars/dark spots, you can use plant-based, vegan products that won’t come with the terrible side effects of chemical products. The products below are a perfect start to plant-based, anti-aging skincare.

RE9 Anti-Aging Skincare

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If you want to reduce signs of aging, the RE9 Anti-Aging Set is excellent if you want to get started with all the basics for plant-based skincare.  I plan to switch between this and the calming set.
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RE9 Advanced Lifting and Contouring Eye Cream

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I use this cream every single night, and I’ve seen a significant difference in my dark circles. I’d highly recommend it!
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Genius Nightly Resurfacing Pads

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Every single client I have sold these too so far has loved them, and I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from others.
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Conclusion

No matter what you’re self-conscious about, plant-based skincare can help you find confidence again and reduce your long-term risks or short-term side effects.

Do you have concerns in all three categories I talked about? Take my Skincare Questionnaire, and I’ll reach out to you with personalized product recommendations! If you just have questions in general, feel free to reach out to me here! I’d love to connect.

References
  1. Staszczak, Cherry. There’s A What In My What???: Our Toxic Relationship With Personal Care Products . Benchmark Press, 2016.
  2. Patel, D, et al. “A Review on Herbal Drugs Acting Against Acne Vulgaris.” A Review on Herbal Drugs Acting Against Acne Vulgaris, vol. 5, no. 2, 2015, www.jpsbr.org/volume_5/JPSBR_Vol_5_Issue_1_htm_files/JPSBR15RV2022.pdf.
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