Posts tagged ‘summertime’

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

July 15, 2013

Quick and Pretty Summer Dinner

old wine

The best part about summertime for me is the long, dusky evening before the sun sets. The blue sky fades to pale pink, then gold, then sometimes peach and purple. Every now and then, we get a searing orange-red that burns your retinas as it lights up the horizon. What a show! During these long summer nights, I also love kicking off my shoes, opening up all the windows in the kitchen, and putting on some gorgeous music as I cook. My life works better in every way with a soundtrack accompanying it—for bustling around in the kitchen in the evening, I prefer classical mixed with a little opera, especially if pasta and wine are involved. Here are some of my favorite soundtracks that are perfect anytime you need beautiful music: No Reservations (especially apropos when cooking), Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, or Becoming Jane. I’m happy just thinking about this music!

sheet music

First, a nice big salad. Aim for 1½-2 cups of your favorite salad greens, the darker the better. Then unleash your creativity: add as many sliced or chopped veggies as you want, maybe a little bit of fruit too. Then add a healthy fat, and drizzle an oil/vinegar/lemon juice mixture or your favorite low-fat dressing over your creation. Don’t forget to top with fresh-ground pepper if you like a bit of bite!


Next, an elegant pasta dish. If I’m going to have pasta, I like Barilla Plus (a multigrain pasta packed with protein, fiber, and plant-based omega-3s). I like to cook a whole box and then use the pasta for leftovers for a few days—easy meal prep! Here’s one of my favorite recipes for summertime.

Spicy Citrus and Avocado Farfalle


  • 1 c. farfalle (bowtie-shaped) multigrain or whole-wheat pasta
  • ½ Morningstar Buffalo Chik Patty, heated and chopped (or favorite protein source)
  • 4 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • ¼  green onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ avocado, roughly chopped
  • ½ Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, pinch to taste
  • Sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper, pinch to taste
  • Grated parmesan, sprinkle (optional)

Cook pasta according to the directions on the package. Add the chik patty, tomatoes, green onion, and avocado to the pasta. Then add olive oil, lime juice, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper and stir well. Add grated parmesan immediately before serving, if you like.

summer pasta dish_good



May 24, 2013

Get bikini ready the healthy way

I took the hard road but years later I have finally learned how to get bikini ready the healthy way.

I took the hard road but years later I have finally learned how to get bikini ready the healthy way.

We all want to look and feel our best this summer. I know that many people still think that by skipping meals, you are doing a good thing. It’s always a hard concept to grasp that eating more and more often can actually help you lose weight. Only eating lunch all day is not a good thing.  I think that’s just unfortunately a mentality many of us women have had since our youth.  We often equate no eating to weight loss.  Yes, of course you can lose weight if you don’t eat, but you feel terrible and you’re not setting yourself up for success long term. Trust me I know this all too well, I had an eating disorder in college.

I was a National Champion track and field athlete at LSU and the pressures to have my body a certain way for competition were fierce. If you weren’t performing as well as you were expected to, losing weight was usually one of the first things that was said needed to change.  For example, “she’s not running fast enough I think she needs to drop some weight”.  Problem is that when you’re training and competing at such a high level, you are hungry non-stop and your body needs so much fuel.   I would of course try not to eat much, which in turn would typically set me up for a binging episode later on that day.  I used to have four hour workouts in the middle of the day, and was being to only eat a couple of fruits for lunch, to try and help me drop the pounds.  I look back now and wonder how I allowed myself to take that direction seriously.  During our extensive warm-up routine one day I was doing walk over hurdle drills and can vividly remember having to stop because I was having such bad hunger pains. When I expressed out loud why I stopped, I was told that it was normal and that my stomach was just shrinking and that it would eventually go away when my body would got used to it.  WHAT?  Why did I actually try to do this? This is when my unhealthy relationship with food started.  I was trying so hard not to eat that all I could think about was food. I am that person who never gives up to a fault and I tried that mentality even with my “not-eating”.  I wanted so badly to excel at the highest level and any direction I was given I took to heart and tried to 100% implement. However, even at that time I couldn’t stop myself from my binging ways. I was hungry and my body screaming for energy.  Therefore this started an unhealthy bulimic struggle for me, which I did a lot of work on then to overcome. The beauty of going through something like that is taught me some valuable lessons and since learned so much that I don’t struggle with that disorder anymore.  I also learned the right ways to keep my body healthy and looking/feeling its best. Am I sometimes still guilty of mindlessly eating? Yes. However, when I find myself getting in that emotional-eating place, I work really hard to stay present while eating; instead of trying to solve my emotions while binging on comfort foods.  In case you have never experienced it, eating basically a whole tub of ice cream does not make you feel better.

With all that being said I understand, all too well, the pressures of trying to obtain the ideal body and how the pressures of trying to do so can often times can create us to have unhealthy relationships with food. Bulimia didn’t do anything except for make me look bloated and feel terrible. I also saw first hand how not eating enough caused me to lose that precious muscle that I had worked so hard to build.  I needed my muscle to compete my best.  Even if you’re not a hard core athlete, muscle not only makes your body look healthier and pretty, but also the more muscle you have the more your metabolism increases.  I could talk about this subject for hours. However, to get back to the main reason I started this blog; in order to lose weight, you need to snack regularly to keep your metabolism up.  I’m not talking about any snack but healthy snacks. My go-to’s used to basically consist of a protein shake or almonds, and occasionally fruit. Marzia has a helped me to really expand my snack options, along with my own research and experimenting.Remember that in order to keep the muscle you’re working to gain, it is important to combine a lean protein with a clean carb together at each meal.

I often get asked what some good, quick snack options are and here are some of my favorites. I am on the go a lot because I am in sales, so I pack my snack in the morning and then keep in my car.  With my protein shake I will put the powder separated out in one of those kid snack containers. The one I use is perfect for carrying the protein powder. It has three compartments and an opening that makes it easy to pour out the powder. I am a picky eater so keep that in mind as you read my top five favorites options:


  1. A piece of fruit and a kind bar
  2. Green drink (my juicing mix of fruit and veggies) and almonds
  3. Almond butter (I like Justin’s and it comes in travel packs) with celery or apple slices
  4. Whey protein shake and a handful of almonds
  5. Turkey slices (not packaged of course) and carrots (or any veggie)

Looking at different snack options always helps give me ideas that I then tweak and make my own.  I hope you enjoy a great, long holiday weekend.  Remember that planning ahead so you don’t skip meals is key.

Loren Silas

May 7, 2013

Summertime and kids….

So summer is fast approaching and that means your kids will no longer be in school. So the question comes up…what do with those energetic little people all summer long. We certainly don’t want them cooped up inside watching television, playing video games, and listening to their iPods. But, summer camps can also be extremely expensive, especially if you do more than one of them and have more than one child. So what are some free or inexpensive things you can do with your kids this summer to keep them active and engaged and not driving you crazy!

First, I found this website that has 120 different free things to do with your kids that you should definitely check out.

Next, check your local library. They often have summer reading programs that include activities and crafts. You can also research the area where you live…I know where I live some places have dollar movie days, or discounted days at the zoo.

Are you friends with other people with children? Take turns watching them or taking them to the park or the pool so the other parent can have a day to relax kid free.

A great place to check out ideas for the summer…PINTEREST! You can find just about anything on Pinterest, so I would highly recommend searching some kid friendly summer activities on there while you are browsing boards.

Hope this helps you and your children have a fun, filled summer!Image