Why I LOVE Quinoa

  
My friends know it. My roommates especially know it. My family knows it. I adore quinoa.

You may be wondering at this point, ‘why exactly?’ 

I guess because it was a new ingredient/food that I discovered while trying to incorporate more protein-rich foods into my diet (as a vegetarian, I was finding it a bit difficult on a day-to-day basis). I can’t remember where I first heard about quinoa, but it was probably either a food blog or a health magazine somewhere. When I realized that it was a healthier alternative to rice and bread, I thought, I’d better try that out.

The first time I cooked with it, I used water and it wasn’t particularly flavorful. I think I also just threw in some saut√©ed veggies and maybe a sprinkle or two of black pepper. (I have since learned to experiment and liberally use my spices and sauces ;)). Instead of shoving the remaining quinoa to the back of my cabinet, I picked up a carton of veggie broth on my way home later that week and cooked it again. Boy, was that a good decision!  The broth made all the difference for me. Ever since then, quinoa has become a kitchen staple.

The top reason why I make it all the time is definitely the ease in cooking it. All you have to do is add two portions of liquid (veggie broth or water, your choice) to one portion of quinoa. So 2 cups of veggie broth to 1 cup of quinoa will create a yummy and fully cooked pot of quinoa.

Last week, while cooking dinner, I even boiled a portion of it specifically for lunch the next day. I let it cool, popped it into tupperware and left it in the fridge overnight. Before heading to campus in the morning, I just added in balsamic vinaigrette, grape tomatoes, basil and feta cheese for a simple, healthy ‘packed’ lunch.  But it’s also tasty when mixed in and cooked with sauces or tossed over with veggies for an easy stir-fry. 

So readers, have you tried quinoa? Are you a fan? Do you have any recipes you’d recommend?! I’d love to here your thoughts. ūüôā

~ Here’s to tasty cooking adventures,

The Healthy Lioness

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Balance Makes Me Feel #BosuStrong

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The #BosuStrong Challenge hosted by Fit Approach and Bosu has been incredibly inspiring and I’m so glad to be¬†following all of the action on Twitter and Facebook!

As I find my new normal here in the UK, it’s becoming easier to organize¬†my personal fitness and eating habits. ¬†Trips to the grocery store are less frazzling (because I’m not lugging back massive bags to stock up on basics anymore). And as I get back into cooking real food, I get excited over certain products like edamame, blueberries, and ginger snaps! Yes, I know, those are common items available in the UK, but hey, they remind me of shopping for produce and snacks¬†at¬†the local shops back in California. It’s amazing how finding a few simple items like those can calm anxieties and make you feel more at home.¬†[Shout-out to all of my #SweatPink sisters who have been a¬†phenomenal¬†support system, expressing their interest in my adventures and empathizing with my¬†experience of homesickness — I’m deeply appreciative of all of the love!]

So as this post’s title points out, today is #totalbodythursday. To give my body a much-needed workout that targets all of the core areas, I plan to perform the following moves by the end of the day:

– Mountain Climbers
– Planks (Because who doesn’t love a good plank?!)
– Squats
– Tricep Dips
– Jumping Jacks
– Burpees

And hopefully I can squeeze in ten minutes of zen-inspiring yoga. Ensuring that I prioritize time for both my body, including workouts and healthy eating, and my mind makes me feel #BosuStrong. I’m trying to focus less on how stressed I feel and transform¬†that¬†negative energy into positive energy.

On that note, let’s¬†spread a little extra positivity today.
~ The Healthy Lioness

London Adventures: Covent Garden & Soho

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Happy Sunday everyone!

Hope you’ve all been enjoying a re-energizing weekend wherever you are in the world. Right now, it’s about 5:30pm in London and most of my California friends probably haven’t even woken up yet. But those of us nearer to the Atlantic are just wrapping up our days, making the most of the sunlight that’s left.

Today I had the chance to travel into London by train and the tube (a.k.a. the Underground) with a friend who lives in the same university halls. Because I know many friends back home in the US would like to read about some of my UK adventures, I thought I’d share how today went while exploring one of the most dynamic cities in the world.

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We started off our excursion with the simple decision of making our way to the Covent Garden and letting the day take us from there. Our primary goal was to get a feel for the city of London and make the most of what would otherwise be a very lazy Sunday.  After topping up our Oyster cards at the local train station, we headed into the city, fueled with caffeine (as always) and prepped for just about anything. Once in the city, specifically the Westminister area, we were immediately struck by the presence of an extensive range of stores and restaurants outside of the Leicester tube station.

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After walking around the corner towards the Covent Garden, I quickly realized that our destination wasn’t actually a garden at all,¬†but was¬†an expansive¬†cluster or ‘piazza’ of shops, restaurants, and market stalls. With hundreds of people browsing through the stores, listening to the live music, and enjoying the great food,¬†the marketplace would be¬†a great place to do Christmas shopping. Ranging from small trinkets, hand-painted portraits, clothing and jewelry stalls, the small and large shops offer gifts perfect for just about anyone. Our favorite store was an adorable place called “Sass & Belle” that offered cute little shabby chic trinkets. I would have bought just about everything in the store if I could!

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Next, we headed down the street to Picadilly Circus¬†where the iconic tall¬†plasma screens line one side of the street, overseeing a bustling crossroads bursting with people, cars and buses. The number¬†of cool stores and restaurants, like M&M World, was amazing. We spent a great deal of time walking through the streets, taking pictures (how could we not?!), and being extremely touristy haha. Then we took a detour into London’s China Town, which was also abuzz with lots of people and aromas of delicious food.

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After regrouping during lunch, which consisted of yummy, hot soup & pie at a casual restaurant¬†called EAT, we decided to venture into Soho, renowned for its array of high-end shops. It. was. huge. With street upon street of stores like Zara, Burberry, and John Lewis, it’s a very dynamic (and slightly pricey ;))¬†area. If only we had the money to go shopping¬†at such expensive places! ūüėČ

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All in all, we did a lot of walking, weaving in and out of crowds and dodging large groups of fellow tourists. ¬†About mid-afternoon, we decided to call it a day and head back. ¬†I’m now ending the day with a cup of coffee – pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, which tastes like Autumn – and writing this blog post. ūüôā

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For this evening, I’m going to take some inspiration from the great play-writer and poet Shakespeare, and dive into a novel.

How are you spending your Sunday?
~The Healthy Lioness

Jumping in on the #BosuStrong challenge with #SweatPink!

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Hey there fitness friends & bloggers!

Super excited to be sharing a brand new &¬†FUN¬†mad lib today, as I join in on the second week of the #BosuStrong challenge headed by SweatPink & Bosu. Although I don’t have a Bosu to use right now (being away from home and halfway across the world makes that pretty tough!), I always need more work on improving my balance. Though I do wish I had a Bosu here in the UK – everyone’s Insta shares make the workouts look like so much fun!

Alright, here we go:

Mad Lib: 6 ways I stay balanced

If you forgot to join me last week for the #BOSUStrong challenge or just weren’t up for the cardio, make sure you join me this week as it’s all about the balance! We’re standing on one leg, lunging, and BOSU squatting our way through the week.

But balance means more than just being able to stand on one leg, it also means being able to do what you love while making healthy choices at the same time. It means putting in the work and still finding time for watching Suits on Netflix. Or eating all of the the creamy Cadbury chocolates but balancing it out with quinoa & veggie mixes. Or yoga (workout) and HIIT workouts (workout) at home when you can’t make it to the gym.

Here are the 6 ways I stay balanced – what are yours?

I make time for myself by sticking to a to-do list and rewarding myself with a sweet treat & tv time when I’ve checked most things off.
My favorite me time is sleep, a good book, and netflix.
My rule when it comes to a balanced diet is to include sources of protein & veggies with all meals.
I make fitness a priority by making daily tasks, like a trip to the grocery store, into a workout; I opt to walk instead of taking the bus and climb up the escalators instead of just riding them up.
When I get stressed or overwhelmed, my go to is chocolate.
I do try to stay active and as stress-free as possible to help my family stay balanced. I try to cook healthy foods to lead by example and introduce new meal options to my family.

So I want to know Рare you #BOSUStrong? Copy and paste the above, fill it in and make it your own and then tag me in it and share with your friends! Let’s all be #BOSUSTRONG.

Now I’m off to do some yoga and squats!
~ The Healthy Lioness

Refocusing on Proper Hydration

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As I sit here in my dorm¬†pondering how to begin today’s late night post (it’s midnight in London), I can’t help but want to start by briefly explaining how I came to write¬†on this subject of hydration (yet again). For the past few days, I’ve had moments where I suddenly remember that yes, I have indeed set healthy living and fitness goals and am¬†ready to focus on them. But then either something comes up, making me lose my train of thought, or I simply lack motivation in the moment; as a result, I never¬†implement steps to help achieve those goals. So this post is basically a way of reaffirming my commitment to healthy living, by evaluating my hydration situation.

Now, I do understand how important water is to our bodies. Not only is it essential for survival, but it’s crucial to staying optimally functional and healthy.¬†So why haven’t I been consuming enough of it in the past two weeks?

I keep reminding myself that it is something that I cannot forget about or put on the back-burner, yet I still manage to overlook it. It’s partly because between all of the traveling, moving, and adjusting to London that has been taking place recently, I haven’t really had the¬†chance to monitor or evaluate my nutrition intake. When I do feel thirsty, I often opt for a hot tea because, well, it’s really cold here in the UK compared to the west coast, so I crave warm beverages over cold ones. But I don’t think hot tea is¬†as hydrating as plain water because of the caffeine that comes in¬†the tea leaves. And while I’ve been trying to avoid eating too many chocolates, biscuits, pastries, etc., I haven’t been so great with meals. The past few days have been full of a lot of bread and cheese.

Doubling down¬†and focusing on my healthy living goals has become a more prominent aspiration today because I can feel the effects of dehydration. I’m feeling tired all the time, can’t get out of bed in the morning, and lose motivation to get work done each day. ¬†And since¬†I’m about to take on an intensive course studying at a¬†post-graduate level, I really cannot allow myself to let my health fall to the wayside. If I stay healthy and active, it’ll positively impact my work capabilities¬†and studying, rather than take away from them.

That is why today, I went and bought myself two large bottles of water to tide me over until I can find a nice reusable water bottle to take with me everywhere. One is sitting on my desk right now where I will always see it. ¬†If the bottle is¬†in my line of sight constantly, I’m more likely to consistently drink the water.

So that’s that. I’m going to actively focus on consuming more H2O to improve my mental clarity, fuel my body naturally, and support my healthy living goals. And I’ll start by finishing this glass of water before heading to bed.

Goodnight y’all!
~ The Healthy Lioness

Battling Homesickness Halfway Across the World

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It’s been about a month since I last posted anything. The reason why? I originally had planned¬†to document my experience traveling and adjusting to the UK as each day passed, but the first week¬†was¬†pretty rough. After I initially left home, I had no desire to share because I suddently felt¬†unsure about the decision¬†to come here. But my outlook is currently¬†more positive in regards to¬†the present and¬†future.¬†The¬†emotional¬†rollercoaster ride that brought me here¬†has become¬†a part of my healthy living journey and I’m at a place where I would¬†like to share my experience.

I’ve been here to to the UK to study before, previously for a shorter period of time, but have never experienced the overwhelmingly gut-wrenching homesickness that I felt during the first week after arriving this time. Even though I’m quite lucky and have family that lives about a 40 minutes drive away from my current university, I still felt really out of place. I know that other students also feel this way when they go abroad to study, but if I’m honest, I never thought I’d feel this way. So when it did happen,¬†I was unprepared for it.

The sadness and feelings of displacement really hit me during¬†the first few days that I was in the halls¬†(aka dorms). I kept questioning whether I could really live here for an entire year. What if the course I’ve chosen turns out to be nothing like I expect or what if I can’t accustom myself to the different style of teaching and learning here? The first night in the hall¬†was especially hard. I forced myself to start unpacking right away just to make the room more homey and cheerful. It was better than sitting and lingering on unhappy thoughts.

Thankfully my mom was always available via Skype to calm me down – she knew exactly what to say. What I appreciated the most was the fact that she kept telling me that even though I was here, the door wasn’t closed and that if it really wasn’t what I wanted, then I could always come back. But I needed to at least start the course and give it a chance because if I didn’t, I’d regret not giving it a go later. While classes haven’t started yet, I feel better equipped, mentally and emotionally, to take on the new course, work and level of studying. And I’m going to work extremely hard to take advantage of all of the opportunities available here in London.

Right now, my biggest concern in regards to health is what I’m eating. After being pretty shocked at the small size of my flat’s kitchen (to be shared amongst 6 people with only one tiny refrigerator!), I didn’t want to cook. At all. So I’ve been going out for food and snacks. ¬†But I really do love to whip up healthy meals. It’s just going to take some time to get into a routine and learn how to function within the new space, but I definitely want to meal prep. It’ll save me time during the hectic weeks and hopefully will mean fewer dishes to wash each day.

If there’s anyone out there who’s abroad studying, whether undergrad¬†or postgrad, and feeling homesick, take comfort in knowing that almost everyone who goes abroad or faraway from home feels homesick at some point but it does pass and gets easier. Just stay busy and try to make yourself comfortable where you are.

That’s all for now. Hope all you bloggers, writers and readers are having a great weekend!

~The Healthy Lioness

Moving Forward & Achieving Goals with the #7daystretch Challenge

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Even though the #1MillionMinutes challenge and movement is over, the #SweatPink community isn’t letting any of our steam run out because we’re starting a brand new challenge with a #liveinprAna #7daystretch , partnering up with prAna once again!

It all¬†starts today (Monday, August 24th) and ends at the end of the week (Sunday, August 30th). Join in on the fun ‚Äď answering daily prompts (see below) ‚Äď or if you‚Äôd prefer to lurk, you can follow along on FitApproach or through the hashtags: #liveinprana #7daystretch #sweatpink!

We’ll be talking about how we (the community) embrace a prAna lifestyle (#liveinprana) and are challenging ourselves to stretch a little deeper, farther and more mindfully for 7 whole days (the #7daystretch). And we’re not just stretching our bodies so you don’t have to be pretzel to join in, we’re also stretching our minds and souls!

I’d love for you Amanda [person] and Ivanna [person] and Sarah [person] to join me for this fun challenge. Complete the fun mad-lib below and let’s get this PARTY started!

We‚Äôre nearing the end of August and even though the summer is coming to an end, I‚Äôm super excited about the Fall because I can wear boots & scarves. In fact, my very favorite thing about Fall is the changing season aka colorful trees and warm things. I can imagine myself wearing the Quinn Top¬†[item from prAna website / include a hyperlink if you can!] while I practice¬†yoga¬†[activity/verb] because it’s nice fitted tank.

If I had one goal for the Fall, it would be to increase my flexibility¬†because the cold often makes me inactive – uh oh! ūüėȬ†To achieve it, I know I will need to practice yoga/workout at least every other day. And of course I want to look great doing it so have the Vignette Sweater¬†[item from prAna website / include a hyperlink if you can!] on my wish-list‚Ķ..

What are you most excited about for Fall?

Join us for the #liveinprana #7daystretch. Here are the daily prompts to get you started!

Monday, August 24: It‚Äôs Monday, make sure you get up and stretch ‚Äėdem legs! Show us your favorite quad and / or hamstring stretch(es)! #7daystretch #liveinprana #sweatpink @FitApproach @prAna
– Bonus: We want to see you JUMP it out. Give us your BEST #jumpjoymonday! #7daystretch #liveinprana #sweatpink @FitApproach @prAna

Tuesday, August 25: Backbends. Any backbends. All backbends. #benditlikebackbend Show us how you get bendy! #7daystretch #liveinprana #sweatpink @FitApproach @prAna
РBonus: It’s #transformationtuesday y’all, whether you’re bendier than you used to be, more adventurous, or even faster, we want to see! #7daystretch #liveinprana #sweatpink @FitApproach @prAna

Wednesday, August 26: It’s our mid-week stretch it out, show us what’s getting you through your hump day? #7daystretch #liveinprana #sweatpink @FitApproach @prAna
-Bonus: It’s #workoutitwednesday. Show us how you worked it today! #7daystretch #liveinprana #sweatpink @FitApproach @prAna

Thursday, August 27: Show us a #tbt to a time when you stretched outside of your comfort zone. #7daystretch #liveinprana #sweatpink @FitApproach @prAna
– Bonus: Show us your favorite stretchy pants (shorts work too) #7daystretch #liveinprana #sweatpink @FitApproach @prAna

Friday, August 28: Happy #freefriday y’all! We want to see what makes you feel the most FREE? 7daystretch #liveinprana #sweatpink @FitApproach @prAna
-Bonus: Show us how you are celebrating #forearmfriday! Forearm planks, dolphin pose, forearm stands or maybe just forearms on the table? ūüėČ #7daystretch #liveinprana #sweatpink @FitApproach @prAna

Saturday, August 29: Saturday side stretch! Show us your fave side stretch(es!) #7daystretch #liveinprana #sweatpink @FitApproach @prAna
– Bonus: #sunsalutesaturday. Show us how you are saluting the sun today! #7daystretch #liveinprana #sweatpink @FitApproach @prAna

Sunday, August 30: What are your favorite ways to restore your mind, body, & soul? #7daystretch #liveinprana #sweatpink @FitApproach @prAna
– Bonus: Show us your favorite zen space. Where do you find peace & tranquility? #7daystretch #liveinprana #sweatpink @FitApproach @prAna #sundayzenday

Disclosure: this post was sponsored by prAna. All opinions are our own. We so appreciate you supporting the brands that support Fit Approach and the Sweat Pink community!

Weekend Fueling

It’s the weekend everyone!! Who’s as excited as I am for this break? ūüėČ

I¬†took a break from working out yesterday because I was a bit too sore from Thursday’s elliptical session and abs workout. So I’m back at it today and fueling up with a protein shake!

Never did I ever think that I’d be someone who would use protein powders, but I received some free from Puritan’s Pride about a month ago, and finally had time to experiment in the kitchen with it to whip up something tasty.

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I tried this on Thursday too and loved it! Basically I blended in a spoonful of the Chocolate Whey Protein Isolate with one banana, about half a cup of milk and lots of ICE (not pictured haha).

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It turned out quite nicely Рand I even splashed in a bit of coffee at the end to give it a hint of a cafe mocha taste. Needless to say, I enjoyed it and it is great for refueling after my workout.

I’m also snacking on protein-filled Wild Friends Nut Butter — tried the peanut butter one recently and it’s obviously scrumptious! And the vanilla espresso almond butter gives a nice crunch.

Disclosure: I received free products from Puritan’s Pride and Wild Friends, but all opinions expressed are my own.¬†

Why I Love the SweatPink Community

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I’m so happy with today’s #1MillionMinutes prompt to end the challenge. It’s simply the perfect way to capture what the entire movement has been about this whole time — support and community.

[Prompt: We want to know what community means to you – show us how #1millionminutes has helped keep you on track and accountable this summer! #liveinprAna #sweatpink @prAna @FitApproach]

I’ve been a SweatPink ambassador and team member for over 2 years now and have loved my time since the very beginning. I joined because I was immediately struck by the incredibly open and non-judgmental atmosphere that founders Jamie & Alyse have taken such great care to foster. The positive¬†and happy vibes permeated from the whole organization, which made me feel very welcome despite my lack of knowledge in fitness and healthy living. Because everyone has been so supportive and helpful,¬†I’ve really been able to learn from them all¬†and grow my own understanding of fitness and healthy living, adapting it to my own lifestyle.

The #1MillionMinutes movement reminded me of how great everyone is with motivation and inspiring each other. Even though the primary way SweatPink ambassadors¬†connect is over the internet, the supportive atmosphere is clearly evident on the web as much as it is when you meet in person! ¬†Thanks to the awesome #SweatPink network, I was able to keep going this summer and reach my goal of 1000 active minutes! ūüėÄ

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Whether it’s a movement like #1MillionMinutes or a big, life-changing event like college or a job, I feel as though it’s always at the end of things that you fully understand the immense impact something has had on you. Today, I’m deeply grateful to be an active part of this amazing group of women and men who strive to lead healthy lives while sharing their progress and wisdom in hopes of helping others¬†succeed too.

Of course, there will be more inspiring movements hosted through the SweatPink community and I wholeheartedly look forward to participating in them!

Just want to end by giving a HUGE shout-out to¬†Jamie, Alyse & Liz¬†for being such awesome teammates. You’re all crazy-inspiring. Thank you for everything. ūüôā

Disclosure: this post was sponsored by prAna. All opinions are our own. We so appreciate you supporting the brands that support Fit Approach and the Sweat Pink community!

My Favorite Moment of #1MillionMinutes

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It’s the second to last prompt and day for #1MillionMinutes today! Where did the time go???

Here it is: What has been your favorite moment of the #1millionminutes challenge? Show us! #tbt #liveinprana #sweatpink @prana @FitApproach

I think my favorite moment from the past 2 months of the #1MillionMinutes challenge has got to from¬†BlogFest. ¬†Not only did I learn SO MUCH¬†in that 4 day weekend, but I was able to meet a ton of¬†SweatPink ambassadors and make so many new friends¬†—¬†it was AWESOME!

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The workouts with Gabby Reece, Beto Perez, and Nikki Warren were especially stellar and definitely left me super sore, but it was totally worth it! Those minutes that I was able to count from those events were probably my favorite for #1MillionMinutes.

Oh also, I ran. Well, I actually attempted running.

I think I’ve been talking about starting to run for a really long time now but never actually did it. ¬†So about a week ago when one of my friends asked me if I wanted to complete a short morning run up to a cool viewpoint overlooking the Bay Area/SF Golden Gate, I said YES.

Little did I realize how steep the route was and how far 2 miles actually was¬†haha.¬†My¬†running buddy was a totally gem. She¬†adjusted her speed to match mine and didn’t mind when I needed walking breaks, which thankfully broke up the running intervals and let me catch my breath.

The burning in my chest told me that I really need to do more cardio and strengthen my heart. But overall, it wasn’t as bad as I originally thought my first time would be. So hopefully, the second will be better and I’ll build up my endurance slowly. ūüôā

Disclosure: this post was sponsored by prAna. All opinions are our own. We so appreciate you supporting the brands that support Fit Approach and the Sweat Pink community!