Posts tagged ‘healthy’

May 2, 2014


My transformation

My transformation

Hey all! I’ve been absent a few weeks from the blog, but I’m ready to share my progress, my crazy life, my words of wisdom and my new successes with you all!

So proud of how hard I have worked to get my post-baby body back!

So proud of how hard I have worked to get my post-baby body back!

Where to start? First of all, Beau is doing MUCH better! He’s off of his liver medication finally and he’s smiling and doing cute baby things. Bryan and I are very grateful for this!

Beau is finally feeling better! This smile makes me happy!

Beau is finally feeling better! This smile makes me happy!

Training is going great! I have seen SIGNIFICANT changes in my body! My muscle definition is coming back, I’m lifting heavier weights, I’m no longer ready to pass out after jogging 1 minute on the treadmill (I can now do 45 minutes non-stop!), I feel more confident in myself and I’ve nearly lost all of my post-baby weight!

I’m wrapping up week 7 of working out and I’ll be entering week 8 on Monday. While I’m more than excited about the progress I’ve made to-date and the progress I’ll continue to make, it hasn’t always been easy. I’m human and have days that I don’t feel like I’m getting the most out of my workout and days when I don’t feel like I’ve made as much progress as I think I should have. I sent Marzia a text one morning feeling discouraged. I was in week 6 of training and feeling like I should have more definition in my abs area. She reassured me that the definition will come and that HELLO! – I JUST HAD A BABY! It takes time for the body to heal and transform. I spent 9 months stretching it out. It will take more than 6 weeks to get it back. Reality check? Yes. What I needed to hear? Yes. I, like everyone else working on getting into shape, have to remember that TIME is the key. And patience. But sometimes I’m not so good with patience. Haha!

Finally seeing my some muscle now!

Finally seeing my some muscle now!

Due to my crazy schedule and new responsibilities as a mom, my workout time comes EARLY. My alarm goes off at 4:10 a.m. and I’m at the gym by 4:45 a.m. And trust me (or ask my husband), I’m NOT a morning person! But, that’s what best fits my schedule, so that’s what I’m doing. Make time, not excuses, right?

I’m still eating clean. I’ve found all sorts of new ways to creatively eat clean and enjoy my favorite meals. My go-to’s are stuffed bell peppers, spaghetti squash, zucchini “sushi,” and Portobello mushroom pizzas. Sundays have turned into our grocery shopping days. We bring everything home, get it sorted, rinsed, in storage bags and put away. Monday nights I do my meal prepping for the week while Bryan plays with Beau and the dogs. It takes me a few hours, but it saves me TONS of time later in the week. It also keeps me on track. If I have something made and ready to go, then I don’t need to go out for fast food or hit the candy drawer. I have everything I need. Bryan has been amazing with my eating habits. He tries everything I make and, to his surprise I’m sure, has liked almost everything so far (except Portobello mushroom pizzas – that’s too much mushroom for him). And if we have a date night and decide to go out for dinner, he’s very mindful of what I can and can’t have and makes suggestions based on that. At the least, a decent salad has to be on the menu for me. No chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes and gravy for me. I may have a bite of his every now and then, but I’ve come to not even really want it anymore. It may taste good, but the effects of several meals like that aren’t worth it to me. I prefer to keep my body happy and healthy, not feeling heavy and greased down.

An example of one of my snacks

An example of one of my snacks

I eat a cheat meal for dinner on Friday nights. I plan it ahead of time as my “treat.” And even then, I’m conscious of what I’m eating. We went for pizza last week. Instead of loading it with pepperoni, sausage and cheese, I had them load it with veggies, minimal sauce and minimal cheese. I’ve learned, too, that not eating heavier, greasier meals or candy and junk food for an extended period of time makes you not WANT to eat them anymore. I don’t crave them. I can easily pass them over, even when others are eating them right in front of me.

Meal prep is important for me to stay top of my health

Meal prep is important for me to stay top of my health

I still blog on my Facebook fitness page ( and now also blog and interact on’s “BodySpace.” It’s the Facebook for fitness junkies. And I won’t lie, I love it! It’s everyone working on their fitness goals encouraging and motivating each other along the way. I’ve come to be friends with some inspiring people there who encourage me to keep going after my fitness goals!

My day look at the law firm

My day look at the law firm

I also still work full-time at my law firm. Monday-Friday 8:30-5:30. It makes for a crazy day sometimes by the time I get up, go to the gym, come home and get ready for work, help Bryan with Beau and either he or I take him to the sitter’s house, drive to work, work all day, drive back to pick up Beau and head home, take care of the dogs, make dinner, get Beau settled down and ready for bed… It’s a LOT. I’m blessed to have my husband, though. He helps with it ALL. Well, all except the cooking. I love him, but he’s not a cook. Haha! But he makes up for that by helping with laundry, picking up the house, taking care of Beau, playing with the dogs, packing Beau’s diaper bag, etc.

Love my husband!

Love my husband!

AND, I’m still a distributor for It Works! I joined Marzia in this business adventure and it’s been amazing! The It Works wraps and stretch mark cream have been instrumental natural supplements to my working out and clean eating. They tighten, tone and firm the skin, ridding the body of toxins and help you lose inches! I use one once a week and it’s helped my tummy come around! And I see definition there now! The stretch mark cream has been amazing with my tiger stripes from Beau! They’re drastically less noticeable! Now I’m using their Hair Skin Nail product to grow my hair out. And it’s growing like crazy. As well as my nails. It’s a nice change!

The products that helped me get my post-baby body back!

The products that helped me get my post-baby body back!

Not only do I enjoy the products, but I’ve met so many people who love them and have amazing results with them! My gym is now introducing them through me, I’ve got a team going under me that’s loving them and spreading the word about them, and Marzia and I are taking Dallas by storm to let everyone know about them! If you’re looking for something natural (herbal/botanically based) to help you on your health/beauty/fitness journey, I HIGHLY recommend It Works products! You can get them at my website or message me about them at

My results using the wraps and stretch mark cream

My results using the wraps and stretch mark cream

Overall, I’m one busy lady. But, with the help and support from my amazing husband, I find time to do it all. And I love it. I love my crazy, busy, fitness filled, healthy living, life. And even more than that, I love my husband and Beau. They drive me to be the best me and to keep going. I’ll make my bikini competition this year. I’ll inspire at least one person to follow their dreams. I’ll find my calling in the fitness industry and make the career change. I’ll be successful and make an extra income to live on with It Works! I’ll do it all. Because I believe in myself and because I have a support system that believes in me.

Working out, eating right, and wrapping tight keep me in shape after my baby

Working out, eating right, and wrapping tight keep me in shape after my baby

I highly encourage you all to find that support system for yourself if you haven’t already. It’s amazing. I also encourage you all to remember that you can do ANYTHING you want. In fitness. In health. In beauty. In LIFE. Just go for it!

Until next time,


Ashley Casalini! Garcia

March 24, 2014

Healthy Housewives Live Transformation Ashley Casalini Garcia Progress


Check out my progress since having Beau!

Check out my progress since having Beau!

Hey there! It’s Ashley! I am now 10 weeks post-pregnancy, 4 weeks into eating clean and going into week 3 of training mean. I feel GREAT! I’m learning so much about myself and my body.

I have such a new found respect for working women and mothers, both in and out of the fitness world. Even as a woman who constantly stays busy, as a new mom, I’m discovering what it’s like to juggle so much and still make time for myself. It’s not always easy and I’m SO blessed to have the support system around me that I do! Between Marzia, The Healthy Housewives, my husband, my family and my friends, I’ve been given nothing but love and support. This has allowed me to both be there for my baby, Beau, and husband, Bryan, without having to give up on myself, my dreams and my goals.

I am in competition with myself to live the best life I can!

I am in competition with myself to live the best life I can!

Here is a glimpse of my daily life. As of March 19th I’ll be done with my maternity leave and headed back to work, so this will change slightly. The eating clean will remain the same, but instead of going to the gym in the afternoons/evenings, I’ll go before work in the mornings.

I have to prep my meals to stay on top of my health!

I have to prep my meals to stay on top of my health!


I wake up anywhere between 7am and 10am, depending on how many times and how long I was up with Beau during the night (he’s still not sleeping through the night). Once I get up, the first thing I do is drink a glass of water mixed with 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar and the juice from ½ a lemon. Then I feed my 2 big dogs so that they’re happy pups!


Breakfast is either egg-whites and oatmeal with berries or egg-white muffins and protein pancakes with berries. And of course, water!

Egg white muffins and protein pancakes are my typical breakfast

Egg white muffins and protein pancakes are my typical breakfast

The fun/interesting part about ANY of my meals is that I’m either enjoying them by myself or I’m balancing a fork in one hand to feed me and a bottle in the other to feed Beau. As a mom, I would definitely say that I’m taking the art of juggling, balancing and multi-tasking to a whole new level!

I also open up my Facebook fitness page and say Good Morning to friends and new followers, post breakfast photos and/or a motivational message.


I try to keep Beau happy and entertained long enough to throw a load of laundry in, empty/fill the dishwasher, clean bottles and/or generally pick up around the house. Sometimes it works out great. Sometimes not so much! Sometimes trying to find time to get anything done, including simply taking a shower, is a real challenge!

Of all my responsibilities, I love being a mommy first!

Of all my responsibilities, I love being a mommy first!


For a snack I really enjoy celery, cauliflower and carrots with hummus or Greek yogurt with blackberries and KIND brand vanilla blueberry oat clusters.

Since Beau had such a rough start to his life, he still has doctor appointments each week. It may only be one or it may be more than one. He goes between a gastroenterologist for liver issues, the hospital to get blood work done and his pediatrician for general check-ups. If I take him to the gastroenterologist, I also take him for blood work the same day. This means bottle feedings at doctors’ offices, diaper changes in restrooms and eating while I’m out (I’ll get to this in a minute).

If I’m not at any doctor appointments, I’m continuing with Beau duty, updating my Facebook fitness page, doing chores or working out. Since I’ve been a runner my whole life, I enjoy putting Beau in the jogging stroller and going outside for a run and/or taking him with me to the gym and letting him hang out in the “Kid Zone” while I go through my workout.

I run while Beau sleeps

I run while Beau sleeps


I’m a HUGE fan of meal-prepping, so lunch is pretty easy for me, whether at home or on the go (more on this soon…). I have either 3 oz. of grilled chicken or 3 oz. of turkey burger and 2 cups of steamed or sautéed veggies. Sometimes I add homemade sweet potato wedges or brown rice. And, of course, water!

A typical meal that fuels me for life

A typical meal that fuels me for life


I usually have a simple protein shake for my afternoon snack or one of my pre-made raw veggie snack bags.


If I didn’t get a chance to work out during the afternoon, I go to the gym in the evenings when Bryan gets home from work. He takes over on Beau duty and I get “me” time to focus on my fitness! I drink water throughout my workout and a simple protein shake after. Then once I get home from the gym, Bryan goes and gets his fitness on! I take care of Beau, play with the pups, update my Facebook fitness page and have dinner.


My happy baby Beau! :)

My happy baby Beau! 🙂

My happy baby Beau! :)

My happy baby Beau! 🙂



Dinner is either another one of my pre-made meals or a portabella pizza. I’m a HUGE fan of pizza, so I really enjoy making portabella pizzas. I simply take a large portabella, clean it out, cook it a little, stuff it with veggies and turkey pepperoni (think supreme pizza) and top it with just a sprinkle of cheese and throw it in the oven until the cheese has melted…YUM! And, as always, water with my meal!


Depending on how much exhausted I am from Beau and my workout, I may make it to one last snack before bed. If I do, it’s Greek yogurt and blackberries.


On Sundays I spend a few hours doing meal prep. I grocery shop, clean and cut veggies and fruits and weigh out my meat proteins. Then I steam, grill, sauté and bake everything. I use simple seasonings like parsley, lemon, rosemary, paprika, cinnamon, garlic and red pepper. No salt. No sugar. I portion out meals for the week and snack bags of fruit or veggies that are easy to grab on the go (like when I go to doctor appointments or out to run errands). This makes life SO much easier for me and keeps me eating healthy! I have no excuses to stop for fast food or junk food when I already have healthy meals and snacks ready for me!

If you buy good food, you will eat good food!

If you buy good food, you will eat good food!


Here is an example of one of my leg workouts:

2 sets/15 reps
Around the world lunges (front, side, and back-both sides)
2 minute jump rope
Plié squats
2 minute jump rope
Bulgarian split lunge (both sides)
2 minute jump rope
Single leg deadlift
2 minute jump rope
Repeat from the top until you have completed 2 sets

I have a while to go to get to where I want to be, but I’m enjoying every minute of it. Fitness has always been my passion and I’m excited that I’m taking steps to make it my career. I’m also excited to share my journey with others and to hopefully continue to inspire others to chase their dreams, whatever they may be!

I’m doing everything I can to do my “homework” and learn as much as I can about all aspects of the fitness industry, including reading about clean and healthy eating and the benefits of all types of healthy foods, researching fitness photographers, reading stories and workouts from women in the fitness industry, following bikini competitions and the women in them and reading about all types of different workouts (TRX, pilates, yoga, weight lifting, stretching, Zumba, rock climbing, running).

I pack healthy snacks so I am not tempted to make a bad decision!

I pack healthy snacks so I am not tempted to make a bad decision!

HOWEVER, while fitness is my passion and I want to make it my career, I am first, and foremost, a mommy and a wife. I love taking care of my little man, playing with my dogs and sharing my love, friendship and faith with my husband. His support means the world to me and continuously inspires me.

I LOVE my husband!!

I LOVE my husband!!

Until next time, eat clean, train mean and follow your dreams! It’s NEVER too late to start!


Ashley Casalini Garcia

Follow my journey on Facebook!

March 3, 2014

Sweet Nékter

interesting juice pic

Just what I needed–beautiful purple juice (The Cure)!

Hi, Friends! It’s Brooke here, and I want to share with you my latest addiction: Nékter Juice Bar! I sure do love my caffeine, but I know I drink too much of it. So, I’ve been trying to figure out how to nourish myself enough to step away (gradually) from my beloved stimulant. I love how happy, fresh, and alive I feel after drinking a fresh-pressed juice, so I started looking for juice bars near my neighborhood. Whole Foods makes amazing juices, but they are pricier than I’d like. And if I had more sense and time management skills, I would plan ahead and juice more at home. But when I’m on the move and I need some TLC, it’s Nékter to the rescue!Healthy History


Nékter Juice Bar founders, Steve and Alexis Schulze, opened their first store in 2010 with the simple idea of providing a neighborhood juice bar where everyone could enjoy delicious, healthy fruit and veggie juices at reasonable prices. Turns out people were starving for stellar nutrition on the go—Nékter now has 26 stores and counting! Thankfully, the only store outside of California just happens to be down the street from me in Dallas—yippee! One of my client friends even surprised me with a Nékter gift card out of the blue. What a beautiful gift of health—pure plant love.

Recently, as I prepared to get out of my car and grab a juice, I watched customers come and go from the store and I was struck by Nékter’s resemblance to a hummingbird feeder, with creatures zipping in, alighting briefly for nourishing sweet nectar (!), then buzzing away. Somehow, things just feel right when life imitates nature.

Smoothies, Cleanses, and Other Treats

The Cure and spicy kale chips--nutritious and delicious!

The Cure and spicy kale chips–nutritious and delicious!

In addition to the fresh juices, Nékter offers raw vegan smoothies as well as bowls of blended fruit with bananas, granola, and other tasty bits. If you need a good crunch to offset the smooth juices, they offer nuts, trail mix, and my favorite—spicy kale chips! For an easy way to detoxify your life and kick start your path to better nutrition, Nékter offers 1-, 2-, 3-, or 5-day juice cleanses with a handy cooler thrown in. Be sure and check out the Snider Plaza location (near SMU): You’ll be SO happy you did. 🙂

Homemade Delight

My favorite juice is The Cure, and I love getting it when I’m beset by allergies or changing weather, which is often. It’s a gorgeous deep purple-red color, it’s bursting with antioxidants, and it’s delicious! Here’s my take on this tasty treat:

The Cure

(Makes 16 oz. of juice)

  • 1-1½ small beets, raw and scrubbed
  • ½ small head of broccoli, with stem
  • 1 large handful curly parsley
  • 2-3 kale leaves
  • 1 red apple, small
  • 2 handfuls red grapes
  • 4 celery stalks, with leaves

Cut produce to fit the feeder tube of your juicer. Add pieces of fruit and veggies to your juicer, collecting the juice in a medium-to-large measuring cup or pitcher. Once finished juicing, stir and enjoy!

Here’s to health, love, and juicing,


grow through life


January 30, 2014

New App I Love! Popsugar Active

 Hey everyone! Kathy here! Just wanted to share a quick fitness app that I found and love. 

Its the Popsugar Active App which makes working out convenient and fun.  There are tons and tons of workout videos that are continuously updated.  I love the Victoria’s Secret Booty Burn Model Workout and the yoga workout for back fat.  

You can create and customize your own fitness routines with all of the videos which range from strength training, running yoga and more.

Below are some screen shots from the app.  



Wish I had more to share this week but I am completely and creatively drained! The days leading up to the photo shoot can be stressful and now I’m straight into completely my final weekend for Gyrotonic training.  That’s a wrap!




November 25, 2013

Surviving Thanksgiving (as a Healthy Vegetarian)

thankful for vegetarians

Happy Monday, Friends! Brooke here. Thanksgiving is just around the corner . . . so close I can taste it (but not the turkey, of course!). A day devoted to gratitude, love, and sharing a delicious meal is a beautiful one, appealing to our better natures and reminding us to give thanks for our blessings. Plus, every now and then, a much better cook than you ends up doing most the cooking for everyone—jackpot!!

You may wonder how vegetarians manage to find a square meal during such a meat-centric holiday as Thanksgiving. Never fear! We veggies are a creative and resourceful lot, accustomed to finding our own way around buffet tables and family gatherings. When one chooses to take a road less traveled, one must rely on oneself for rations and supplies. As many vegetarians or vegans already know, you cannot expect your family and friends, no matter how loving, to cater to you alone when Thanksgiving dinner is served.  So help them out, ok?

Be a Gracious Guest

  • Ask your host or hostess what you can bring to dinner. Simply asking what you can do to help may relieve an enormous amount of pressure for your dinner planner. There’s a very good chance she’s been concerned about your meatless meal. And if you make your offer even before she asks you about your dietary preferences, you may become her favorite dinner guest ever!
  • Bring a healthy, veggie-friendly dish of your own. I would suggest doing this, even if your host tells you to just bring yourself and your appetite. This is a win-win for everyone involved: 1) you will actually have something clean to eat if you discover everything at the table is spiked with chicken stock or other “natural flavors” (more common than you think); 2) your impeccable manners will be noted and appreciated—you may even get an invite back next year; and 3) you can prove to any naysayers (usually these are family members) that your clean, compassionate food is much more delicious than the wallpaper paste that they all suspect it tastes like. Go ahead—wow ‘em!
  • Eat a snack beforehand. If the big meal is hours away and your stomach’s already growling, be sure to eat a little snack to tide you over. You don’t want your healthy eating to be destroyed when your plunging blood sugar drives you to fall crazily upon the sweet potato casserole! A nice green juice or smoothie plus some nuts or trail mix are excellent options—the veggies and fruit lift your energy while the protein and healthy fat in the nuts help fill you up and slow down that appetite. Another idea is Greek yogurt mixed with fresh berries and nuts or a protein shake with almond milk and a piece of fruit, such as a banana, grapes, or apple. This plan also works for weddings and other functions, where the promise of food is vaguely (cruelly) dangled sometime after the main event.
  • Be smart when you fill your plate. Mindful portion control (and healthy snacking ahead of time) is the key to avoiding the dreaded holiday food binge. Help yourself generously to green salad (and less generously to the dressing), steamed or sautéed vegetables, greens (if not cooked in meat stock), and the relish dish. Ah, what memories . . . the relish dish and I have become indifferent friends over the years. “Oh, look—something I can eat. Raw broccoli and carrots again . . . yippee.” You need more fuel than just green veggies, so have a moderate helping of quinoa or couscous if they’re around (maybe they will be, since you brought them!), rice, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or stuffing if it’s meat- and meat stock-free (that’s a big if, usually). As for dessert, go ahead and enjoy a slice of your favorite pie. It’s Thanksgiving after all, people. Live a little! If you’ve been eating clean in your everyday life, you can handle a little holiday fun. Just keep your helpings in control, enjoy, and don’t feel guilty. The Stepmill will be waiting for you when you get back home.
  • Grin and bear it. If all else fails and you arrive at dinner without a meat-free or healthy fallback, do the best you can and do it with a BIG smile. Be kind and gracious if anyone voices concerns on your behalf—you don’t want to ruin dinner, do you? “Are you kidding? These green beans are amazing! And this cornbread is delish!” See? It’s easy.

May you always run out of time before you finish counting your blessings,


October 23, 2013

It’s Okay!

Its OK3Do you feel the pressure lately? Always? I’ve been doing pretty well with the ol’ balance game lately, but something happened to me yesterday. I walked into a store to fulfill some to-do list items and saw it. The Christmas section. A dagger of panic struck me and sucked me into a “running behind” feeling; almost like I did something wrong because I hadn’t yet thought about the holidays or decorating for Christmas. Then I looked to the left and saw the Halloween section still on steroids. I felt some relief. You realize we do this to ourselves, right? I started to wonder how much of the life pressures I feel are self-inflicted? Sometimes, it’s okay that we haven’t… fill in the blank. Does the world end? Chances are, no.

For the remained of my day, situations kept happening that elevated my concern. Internally, I replied, “it’s ok.” After a while, I made myself laugh because of how often I had to “talk myself down from a mini-panic.” I’ll share that I may have a problem here, but I am on it. So, in my A-personality, planning nature, I made a list of reasons it’s all going to be okay.

It’s okay if your house isn’t decorated for every holiday.

It’s okay if you skip a year of holiday cards.

It’s okay if you don’t post ‘Happy Birthday’ on Facebook for everyone.

It’s okay if you don’t check your email, social media, or voicemails on the hour.

Further more, it’s okay if someone waits for an e-response for more than a day. If it’s really important, they should call.

It’s okay if you spill something on yourself. Instant conversation starter!

Repeat to yourself, “It’s not devastating.” 9 times out of 10, it’s not, and if it happens to be that unfortunate, still say it to calm yourself a bit.

Its OK2It’s okay that you had to cancel. Apologize once, sincerely, and don’t make it a habit.

It’s okay that you’re milking another week out of your hair color/highlights; Create new up-dos.

It’s okay that you missed a workout. That becomes your rest day, and you’re still on track.

It’s okay if someone misunderstood you. You can’t control other people. Address if you feel it’s appropriate, or just let it go. Chances are, it’ll pass without effort.

It’s okay if you trip; laugh immediately. You’ll feel better.

Its OK

It’s not okay to be mean. Don’t be mean.

Peace friends—Lacey

September 19, 2013

Koa Water. Drink your Fruits and Vegetables!

Hey! I hope everyone is having a wonderful week! Well I’m always on the look out for nutritious and delicious beverages which for me consists of water (preferably Essentia), organic brewed teas, kombucha, coconut water and fresh pressed juices.  I quit drinking sodas and bottled juice long ago when I realized it was basically gmo sugars, food coloring, preservatives and lots of other chemicals.

If you live in or around Dallas you may have seen Koa Organic Water in the cooler of your favorite juice bar or studio.  I saw it too and was skeptical about something labeled “organic water” and wondered if it was just another marketing ploy devised by some big company not very concerned with my health.

Whats inside Koa?



Well, I’m happy to say I was way off. Today I met with Jonathan Rosenberg, Co-Founder of Koa Organic Water and asked him what exactly is Koa Organic Water? Well its not actually a water but water squeezed from 100% organic fresh fruits and vegetables.  There are no added dyes, sugars or chemicals. The organic fruits and vegetables are squeezed in a way that maintains all the natural vitamins, minerals and polyphenols. Sounds good to me and I have to say Koa Water is very refreshing and has an almost has a silky texture.  Also Koa Water is not run by another big company but by two Dallas entrepreneurs with a big dream of becoming the world’s healthiest beverage company.  I can get behind that.  Their bottle including the cap is 100% bio-degradable.  For more information check out the links below and their Kickstarter video.

Here are a few other food and beverage related links and videos I feel compelled to share!

Food Babe’s take on Coco Cola’s new ad campaign

Article on Coco Cola Beverages

New Chipotle Commercial – So worth a view, please check this out!

Kathy, Fit Fashionista

September 10, 2013

Dare to Be!

Image“I dare you.” Your 11-year old self still cringes at the sound of those three words. Or is it just me? It was definitely popular around South-Central Texas in the late 1980s to taunt friends and enemies alike with challenges, most of which I took, and from which I endured bruises, scrapes, and two rounds of stitches (that I can recall.) Then, as a teenager, the game “Truth or Dare” made its rounds at the parties I attended, and within my social circles. Oh, don’t gasp with innocence, you know you participated that one time. I digress… 

By the time I was in college, I got really good at being a dare-devil. I started the dancing on the dance floor. I wore yellow when everyone else was in black. I ran long-distances when everyone else slept in. Once I applied for a scholarship that marketed only to a specific race, of which I was not, simply to take a stand for equality–true equality. Basically, if you told me I couldn’t do something, I wanted to do it even more. And I did. Thankfully, I survived. 
As an adult, I recall taking less risks. The older I got, the less I challenged myself to step outside of my comfort zone. When did I lose my edge? Sure, maturity took care of some of it (e.g.; no more shot games of any kind. Period. Oh, and racing across a football field in your PJs (shorts and tank top) with your girlfriends on a snowy day isn’t cool anymore either), but a friendly challenge between you and your spouse, coworkers, friends, or even just challenging yourself every so often, reminds you that you’re alive. As long as you’re not harming yourself or others, get after it! For additional fun, grab a dare-devil buddy to dive in with you. 
My niece decided on her own that the time was right (and she was tough enough) to get her ears pierced. She faced her fear, and now she sparkles even brighter than before with added confidence (and bling.) 
Folks, I think it’s time to bring back the “I dare you.” Perhaps, we can bring back the “I double-dog dare you.” (Who’s subconscious just recalled the movie, The Christmas Story?) What’s on your bucket list? What project are you going to finish before the end of the year? What race will you enter this fall? What karaoke song are you signing up for? Take the plunge! You weren’t born to sit on the sidelines and observe your life away. Get in the game! Face your fears! Challenge yourself to be comfortably uncomfortable! Go ahead… I dare ya! –Lacey Pruett 
August 13, 2013

Fresh and Fast: Veggie Burritos

summer heat

Wow, it’s hot outside! Surviving the month of August has always felt like an endurance sport to me. When even the mosquitoes are worn out from the heat, you know summer’s getting pretty serious. The last place you want to be is stuck in front of a hot stove cooking dinner, right? Well, I have the perfect dish for you! It’s delicious, healthy, involves almost no cooking, and makes enough leftovers for several lunches—yippee! These veggie burritos have become a favorite of ours, and I bet your family will love them too.


Veggie Burritos

  • 2 cans (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 c. brown rice, cooked
  • 3 green onions, white and green portions, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, or 3-5 small tomatoes, chopped
  • small bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • ½ c. shredded Pepper Jack, Monterey Jack, or nondairy cheese (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp salsa
  • 3½ Tbsp lime or lemon juice, fresh
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp cumin (optional)
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • sea salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • whole wheat or corn tortillas
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • white mushrooms, sliced
Looking good already!

Looking good already!

Drain and rinse the black beans, then put in a large mixing bowl. Add the brown rice to the beans. If you are really pinched for time and don’t have a batch of rice on hand, just use a package of frozen brown rice and heat it up—a total lifesaver! Add the green onions, tomato, cilantro, shredded cheese, and salsa to the rice and bean mixture and stir.

Fresh and light

Fresh summer veggies over rice and beans

In a separate bowl, combine 3 Tbsp lime or lemon juice, minced garlic, cumin, crushed red pepper, sea salt, and black pepper. Using a small whisk or a fork, stir the canola oil in to the lime dressing. Then pour the finished dressing over the rice and bean mixture, stirring thoroughly. Tasty trick: Drizzle the remaining ½ Tbsp lime or lemon juice over the sliced avocado, and then add a bit of sea salt. Set aside.

Rice and bean mixture--ready to go

Rice and bean mixture–ready to go

If you like, warm the tortilla, and then spread 2-3 Tbsp of the rice and bean mixture down the middle of the tortilla. Arrange the avocado slices along the mixture, then add the slices of mushroom. If you like (and I always like), drizzle some extra salsa and cheese across the top before serving. If you make this dish for dinner, you will have even tastier leftovers for several days that make lunch prep a total snap!

Other Yummy Additions

When it comes to adding veggies and fruit to jazz up the flavor, the sky’s the limit. Be sure to add the extra bits at the very end or after heating up the rice and beans for leftovers. That way, the additions keep their cool sweetness and crunch. Here are some great ideas:

  • Shredded carrots
  • Matchstick-sliced radishes, zucchini, squash, jicama, or cucumber
  • Sliced mango
  • Mango salsa (yum!)
  • Sprouts
  • Baby spinach leaves or other raw greens

Mmmm . . . I’m hungry already. Enjoy and stay cool!

XO, Brooke

August 7, 2013

‘Tis the Season for… Cinnamon!


‘Tis the season… for cinnamon! I promise I won’t chat holidays just yet, although who doesn’t like a warm house filled with the aroma of cinnamon apple pie? That yumminess aside, I love knowing about the benefits of one of my favorite spices: Cinnamon! Nothing reminds us of the holidays quite like cinnamon does, but let’s not save such greatness for just the holiday season. I dare you to incorporate cinnamon year-round. Here’s why!


Cinnamon is one of the world’s oldest-known spices and has healing properties that rival many other products on your spice rack. It’s natural anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties make it easy to have a love affair with cinnamon. Go ahead! Smell it, taste it, wear it… indulge! Try to incorporate it into your everyday routine to reap the most benefits. Not sure where to start? Here are some suggestions:

Brain Power Booster

It was found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory. Carry a cinnamon stick around with you, and take a whiff every so often to keep you focused at work or school.

Pain Reliever

Cinnamon is used to treat pain because it reacts with the hormone-like substance prostaglandin, which contributes to the contraction and relaxation of muscles. Sprinkle some in your bath water!

Diabetes Treatment

Studies have been conducted on diabetic patients, whom were each given one-quarter of a teaspoon of cinnamon over 40 days, researchers observed that patients’ blood sugar levels fell as much as 30 percent.

Weight Loss

Because of cinnamon’s effectiveness in reducing insulin resistance – research reports that cinnamon triples insulin’s capacity to metabolize blood sugar – the spice can thus reduce hunger and sugar cravings, which leads to weight loss.

Menstrual Aid

Cinnamon has been used for centuries to help women with heavy menstrual bleeding. (You’re welcome!)

Circulation Booster

Cinnamon is commonly used to thin blood, which in turn increases circulation throughout the body. This not only helps to reduce pain in troubled areas but promises that oxygen is being supplied to the blood cells. Cinnamon is also a great dietary complement for heart attack survivors.

 Complexion Enhancer

Due to its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial qualities as well as its antioxidant power, cinnamon is effective in treating acne and skin blemishes. Mix 1 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon with 3 tablespoons of honey, apply to the skin, and let the mixture sit for a few hours or overnight. Wash off with warm water.

Cold and Flu Reliever

Cinnamon is commonly used across East Asia and Europe as a warming herb for conditions involving the body to become cold. In these cases, cinnamon is combined with ginger to treat a cold or flu.

Yeast Infection Fighter

Cinnamon can be used to stop medication-resistant yeast infections. High blood sugar levels can lead to candida overgrowth, and cinnamon is helpful in lowering blood sugar levels. Cinnamon’s anti-fungal properties are also helpful in combating the effects of a yeast infection.


My Favorite Cinnamon Uses


If you have no time…

  • Add cinnamon to your vanilla protein shake
  • Sprinkle Cinnamon on apple or pear slices, dipped in cashew butter
  • Put cinnamon in your morning coffee to start your day off with zest
  • Having a spinach salad for lunch? Sprinkle some cinnamon on it!
  • Cinnamon on baked chicken shakes up an otherwise bland protein option


If you have the time, here’s a favorite recipe…

Cider-Glazed Roots with Cinnamon Walnuts


  • 3 pounds assorted root vegetables, peeled (see Tip) and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Make yourself a warm cup of herbal tea.

2. If using parsnips, quarter lengthwise and remove the woody core before cutting into 1-inch pieces. Whisk cider, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish until the sugar is dissolved. Add root vegetables and toss to coat. Cover the baking dish with foil. Now, add cinnamon to your cup of herbal tea, and sip.

3. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and stir the vegetables. Continue cooking, uncovered, stirring every 20 minutes or so, until the vegetables are glazed and tender, about 1 hour more. Ask someone about their day… husband, children, or call and put a friend on speaker phone. Tell her you’re cooking but wanted to chat–you’ll make her feel important and special.

4. Meanwhile, place walnuts in a small skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and add butter, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Stir until the butter melts and the nuts are coated. Spread out on a plate to cool slightly. Tell the family something fabulous is coming!

5. Transfer the vegetables to a serving dish and sprinkle with the cinnamon walnuts. Give your favorite pup (or husband) a taste and celebrate their gratitude over such a yummy treat.

 (recipe compliments of plus my own additions)