Have you subscribed to my new blog?

Hey guys! Just wanted to make a quick reminder that I have switched over to a new blog host and if you are following me on this WordPress blog, you will not be receiving any more emails coming from the new host! I’d love for you guys to stay in touch and check out my new recipes and a GIVEAWAY that I have going on right now.

Head on over to www.sensualappealblog.com and subscribe on the right sidebar and let’s stay connected ❤

Okay I’m done now! Thanks for the support!

 

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NEW BLOG!!!!!!! :)

Hey guys, sorry for the super obnoxious headline but I have finally gotten myself to a self-hosted blog…

http://www.SensualAppealblog.com

Here’s what I ask of you please… if you have already subscribed to my blog, please go to my new one and subscribe once more so that you get emails. The shift of email subscriptions doesn’t happen and has to be re-done manually by you guys 🙂

If you used feedburner to subscribe, then you don’t have to do anything.

So please go ahead and check the new blog out and subscribe! 🙂

My First Adventure with Spaghetti Squash & the Health Benefits of Spaghetti Squash

I purchased spaghetti squash after seeing numerous recipes on blogs using it. I had no idea what to expect. What it would taste like. Whether I would like spaghetti squash.. no idea. But no way for me to form my own opinion if not by buying it and making it, right? So I did! It sat on the counter for about a week… or maybe two… until finally, I decided to make something of it.

While I had a bunch of recipes saved and pinned that used spaghetti squash my silly brain decided not to use any of those but rather to just go with the flow. I did what I remembered from them and just went for it. First, I poked some holes in it and tried to cut it in half to cook in the microwave. It didn’t go all the way through… the knife got stuck! Finally after getting it out, I stuck it in the microwave for 2 or 3 minutes to cook. Then I tried to cut it again and finally after a whole lot some difficulties, I managed to cut it in half. Kinda. So I got all the seeds out and stuck it in the microwave again for another 2 minutes. Then I saw it was pretty warm and I was afraid it would explode… especially since I didn’t remember how long I was supposed to put it in for. Why didn’t I use Google for this? No idea.

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The Mental Nature of “Fat” Days

Hey guys, today is a very spontaneous post which was inspired by Lisa’s post about “Fat” days. I wanted to piggy back on what she talked about in her post because I agree with her thoughts on the matter and I had some thoughts to contribute as well.

A little background, Lisa is a beautiful lady blogger over at Lisa Lately and she blogs about food, health, fitness, etc. She is Canadian and has a huge love for oat bran and spaghetti squash, both of which I tried thanks to her encouragement and making it look just so darn yummy. Anyway, Lisa talked about “fat” days in today’s post. She talked about a well-known feeling to most women; one that ofte comes when we wake up tired and groggy, which doesn’t set the right tone for our days. On those days we are likely to pass a mirror and take glimpses of ourselves and unwelcoming negative thoughts might creep into our heads. “Wow, I look so fat.” This a feeling I know all too well. Here is an excerpt from Lisa’s post about her thoughts on “fat” days:

“Feeling fat” is a common phrase among plenty of women. Fat is not a feeling. There are many emotions we may be experiencing when these days happen. Perhaps you are stressed at work, tired, angry, or upset. Which in turn can make you perceive things negatively, including your body. Fat is not something you are able to feel.When this happens, it’s important to take a step back. These days aren’t about your looks or size. Realize that this uncomfortable feeling is coming from an underlying issue.”

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Benefits of Oat Bran + PB&J Oat Bran Breakfast (vegan/high protein)

I have fallen in love with oat bran. Ever since making my banana cream pie parfaits, I couldn’t believe where it was I was hiding that I haven’t tried oat bran before. It’s consistency is so deliciously creamy… plus the whole thing expands so much, making you actually feel like you’re eating a lot (unlike rolled oats, which don’t expand very much, imo).

I thought I should make this post to line out some cool facts about oat bran, just to deepen my new-found love for the product. We already know oats are great for us, no matter if they are rolled oats, oat bran, or steel-cut (I stay away from instant though). I have seen a cool review that Heather did on her blog how oat bran stands up against rolled oats. Impressive. She said:

“I was pleasantly surprised to learn that oat bran has a better nutritional profile when compared to rolled oats. Because oat bran is the outer husk of the oat grain, it contains the bulk of the dietary fiber, along with a large amount of useful minerals. “

After doing some research online, the basic info I found out about oat bran is that:

  • Whole grains have a high dietary fiber content, but oat bran provides more than rolled oats. A 100-gram serving of dry oat bran contains just over 15 grams of fiber, while rolled oats provide 10 grams. Fiber improves cholesterol levels, regulates blood sugar and also helps to fill you up.
  • Oat bran provides much more protein and a wee bit less carbs than rolled oats. A 100-gram serving of oat bran contains about 17 grams of protein and 66 grams of carbs. This same serving size of rolled oats contains about 13 grams of protein and 68 grams of carbs.
  • Oat bran and rolled oats have moderate amounts of total far, but both are low in dangerous saturated fat, which is known to cause heart disease. A 100-gram serving of oat bran has 7 grams of total fat and just under 1.5 grams of saturated fat. Rolled oats contain about 6.5 grams of total fat and just over 1 gram of saturated.
  • Oat bran is higher in B vitamins than rolled oats. A 100-gram serving of oat bran contains 78 percent of the daily value of thiamin, 15 percent of pantothenic acid and 13 percent of riboflavin. The most notable B vitamin in rolled oats is niacin — a 100-gram serving contains 1.1 milligrams. B vitamins play a key role in the breakdown of macronutrients for energy. They are also vital for red blood formation and nervous system function.
  • Oat bran has a higher iron content than rolled oats. A 100-gram serving of oat bran contains 30 percent of the recommended daily intake and this same serving of rolled oats contains about 13 percent. Iron is used for oxygen transportation in the system, and it also helps with energy production.

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Dealing with Anxiety

Monsters Under my Bed

None of you know this (many of my friends don’t either) but I have been dealing with anxiety for the past year and a half. I was diagnosed with panic disorder back in February 2011. I’m pretty sure I have gotten it well managed and under control and I have been panic attack free all year (some times, it’s gotten close to one, but I managed to keep it at bay). Most of my anxiety that I deal with comes from heightened sensory perception. Ironic, huh, since the name of my blog is sensual appeal..

Having a heightened sensory perception basically means that a person is overly conscious of body functions that usually go unnoticed because they are automatic, for example breathing. When I was in the beginning of dealing with my new-found anxiety, I found it hard to manage. I was overly conscious of how I was breathing, constantly thinking I wasn’t breathing the right way – which freaked me out further, making me think I’m gonna die, which would in turn spiral me into panic mode. It was a never-ending exhausting cycle. It was terrible. Eventually though, I have learned to control it more and more. I am happy to say that I have been a lot less anxious over the past couple of months, which I am also indirectly linking to this blog. It has helped me talk about whatever was on my mind and focusing on being healthy instead of sitting in my head and overanalyzing everything that might be wrong with me. It’s needless to say that I have also become a hypochondriac over that time and still am to an extent. Google is not helping here, of course. With searching for symptoms and their possible reasons and the diseases that could be linked to these symptoms, anxiety can only get worse, not better.

The reason for writing this post is because I was feeling pretty anxious tonight. I felt light headed during my second workout, slow cardio (which I don’t really even call a workout, it’s just a way for me to get more movement in my day since most of my day is spent sitting). I got home after ending it a couple of minutes early and I went straight to the fridge to make myself food. Food helps. It’s comforting and I have been on a lower calorie range (but not too low) and I thought it might have been because my body is adjusting to the increased movement and decreased calorie consumption. Thankfully tomorrow is a rest day and I am not planning on doing anything but walking (when necessary). I need the rest.

So I wanted to share with you guys some ways in which I deal with anxiety, especially when I start thinking about my body reaction and sensations and my hypochondriac self starts thinking I might be having a heart attack/gonna pass out/etc, so that I don’t freak myself out further and therefore not going into panic mode. Here are some things I do that help me take control of my anxiety in those situations:

  • Drink some cold water, making sure you don’t gulp, take small sips instead.
  • Breathe in and out… slowly. Close my eyes and slow my breaths out to make them relaxing and soothing.
  • Do some calming yoga poses. I usually just do some simple hatha poses and stretches. I especially do forward folds and this pose a lot. Not sure why, it just calms me down a lot. I tend to stay away from child’s pose when I feel anxious because scrunching up in a ball makes me even more nervous. I need to feel more open instead in order to release the tension.
  • Make myself a warm cup of caffeine-free tea. There are calming and relaxing tea blends out there as well but I find that any warm tea works well for me. I’ve been drinking Throat Coat tea lately because of its delicious sweet flavor; it’s comforting.
  • Smell some relaxing scents. I purchased a relaxation essential oils blend (which includes lavender oil, balsam fir, needle oil, patchouli, palmarosa oil, geranium oil, and chamomile) that I sniff and put a few drops on my wrists so that I can smell it as I go about doing my activities. As far as I know, the best and most well known relaxation scents are lavender and chamomile, but there are many others with calming powers as well. 
  • Tell myself that it’s just me freaking out for no reason. I’m too young to die and I am too healthy for something to happen (like a heart attack, come on, now, really?) 
  • Listen to music that relaxes me. Sing along. I usually listen to Lykke Li, the XX, Radiohead, Bon Iver, Sigur Ros, or Explosions in the Sky. Pandora mixes it all up well for me. (Hope you enjoy the songs I posted up in here 😉
  • Take a GABA supplement
  • Take a magnesium supplement

Now here’s a question for you:

If you feel anxious, how do you deal with it? 

Spinach and Egg Strata (high protein)

As you might have noticed my favorite kinds of recipes to do are desserts, snacks, and breakfast. Sweets are a given, even if they aren’t always the easiest thing in the world to make (but oftentimes they are), but breakfast food is just another meal that I simply adore. Although I don’t eat breakfast food at breakfast necessarily. I don’t know, is that weird?

I never feel like spending so much time in the morning to prepare my breakfast. Since I work out on empty stomach right as I wake up, when I’m done and sweaty, I want to be able to eat right now. I don’t have time to make eloquent baked oatmeals and eggs. My post-workout breakfast is usually a delicious protein shake or overnight oats. Sometimes also a parfait, because those are quick to make too.

Truth is, breakfast food isn’t meant to be only eaten in the morning (or at least it isn’t in my world). You cannot tell me you wouldn’t love to eat pancakes or baked eggs at any time of the day, I know I would. And I DO! Don’t try telling me to do otherwise because I won’t listen anyway 😉 This recipe has been saved on my Pinterest board for a long time now. Probably since I started blogging back in March. Finally I have come around to it and made some (small) adaptations. Credit goes to Erin, fully. She rocks.

Ketchup on top… Keepin it classy.

When I was eating it, I was transported back into childhood. I have no idea why, I’ve never eaten a strata before as far as I can remember. But when I put ketchup on it, some feelings of comfort took over. This warm casserole egg dish was so comforting, so warm and cozy… it would be perfect for a rainy day. Thankfully it’s cloudy today so it worked well. I could actually imagine my future as I was eating it, seeing my future kids enjoying this and asking me to make it for them on a cold rainy day, similarly as I used to ask my grandma or mom to make a dish I liked because it was comforting. It was a really bizzare feeling to be thinking these thoughts because I have never thought about my future that far ahead. Heck, I wasn’t even sure if I want kids! Ah… the power of food.

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MIMM #6: Another Piece of My Heart and Events

It’s a marvelous feeling to see my body changing and improving day by day. I have progressed so much already even though the scale isn’t necessarily much lower than I’d hope, I can actually see improvements in my body and by what I’m accomplishing in the gym. My motivation is higher than ever and I absolutely love getting in shape.

Side planks for #plankaday

Here’s a marvelous book I read recently:

Another Piece of My Heart“Another Piece of My Heart” by Jane Green was an awesome book. I was unsure if I should read it because it seemed like something that wouldn’t necessarily interest me. I am only 22 and I tend to stay to books that have characters around my age or a little older, just because I can relate easier (there have been exceptions of course). This was another exception to my comfort-level and I am so glad I made this choice. The book is very engaging, it is extremely complex and it really made me feel like I was there with the characters, experiencing everything with them – I felt very connected to the characters and I felt like I was watching a TV series. Not a movie, a TV series – because there i a lot of stuff going on in this book to fit in one movie. The only thing I wasn’t too crazy about was the constant sudden change of voice and perspective of the narrator – sometimes it’s this person talking, sometimes it’s someone else, sometimes it’s an all-knowing 3rd person narrator. It can get a little confusing at times but that might have been what really connected me to the book and made me feel like I knew the story from all the different perspectives.

I don’t want to spoil anything by summarizing the book in case any of you decide to read it. But let me tell you, there is so much more to it than I thought there would be from reading the description. This book is a lot more complex than that and the twists and turns of events shift the focus entirely. That’s a good thing. Here’s Amazon’s description:

From the New York Times bestselling author of JEMIMA J, and THE BEACH HOUSE, comes Jane Green’s most emotional and powerful novel yet:  a story that explores the complications of a woman marrying into a ready-made family, and the true meaning of motherhood.

Andi has spent much of her adult life looking for the perfect man, and at thirty-seven, she’s finally found him.  Ethan–divorced with two daughters, Emily and Sophia–is a devoted father and even better husband.  Always hoping one day she would be a mother, Andi embraces the girls like they were her own. But in Emily’s eyes, Andi is an obstacle to her father’s love, and Emily will do whatever it takes to break her down. When the dynamics between the two escalate, they threaten everything Andi believes about love, family, and motherhood—leaving both women standing at a crossroad in their lives…and in their hearts.

ANOTHER PIECE OF MY HEART is a novel that illuminates the nuances and truths about relationships and is Jane Green at her absolute best.

I will gladly give this book a rating of 5 out of 5 stars. It’s a much recommended and marvelous read.

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Another point I want to make today is that it’s marvelous how health conscious business are becoming and that there is an increasing number of healthy lunch spots popping up all over the place. Last week, my co-workers and I made a lunch trip out to Freshii. After checking out their website and drooling, we decided we had to finally make the trip. Although I can’t say I was exactly overjoyed with the place – it was expensive and the food was pretty bland, we all agreed on the boring bland taste factor. I tried the Wild Pacific Salmon salad which was pretty dry and boring; my friends had a rice bowl and a noodle bowl, both of which they said they could have easily made themselves and it wasn’t anything to write home about, it was actually rather disappointing. I realized that it might be a better idea to just create your own salad/bowl when you go there because they offer a vast numer of unlimited veggie toppings, many of which I was interested in. If we make our way out there again, I will make sure to create my own salad and base my opinion off of that trip as well. Everyone deserves a second chance!

I went to two marvelous events this weekend. P-FIT is a fitness meet-up in Chicago that I found randomly, it is an evening outdoor pilates class in a park downtown Chicago and it is free. Any free fun fitness class is something I am totally interested in, so naturally I RSVP’ed! The class was led by a young female instructor who recently came here from Turkey. She spoke pretty good English but some stuff she didn’t say correctly and she wasn’t very good at instructing because of that, we were sometimes finding ourselves confused. Plus this one guy came who was totally annoying me – no only did he wear JEANS to work out and he looked like a homeless person overall (his whole look, his hair, his face, his everything) and he wouldn’t stop talking! Like shut up and let us workout, stop talking, stop being creepy! Sigh. I decided to walk back to my apartment because it ended at dusk and it’s my favorite time of the day so I thought it would be a wonderful chill walk, especially since this wasn’t all that far from my place. The walk took me around 35 minutes and I got some nice pictures of the city. The beauty of Chicago’s downtown still takes me breath away ❤

Another marvelous event was Pamper Me Fabulous yesterday. I did a review of KLUTCHclub box in June, a subscription fitness-focused monthly box, and they had me down as one of their members in their database. They sent me an email inviting me to attend this event for free (normally the price is $42) as a thanks for supporting them and living in Chicago. The email was sent to all Chicago members. Since I had no previous plans for Sunday, I RSVP’ed and decided to go (alone, dun dun dun, I know, I’m such a loser..) I came pretty late and didn’t stay long. I did manage to squeeze in their 20min hatha yoga session which was perfectly relaxing. It took place in a marvelous art studio with different art pieces hanging on the walls.

yoga and art

I sampled some cocktails by Godiva and Qream and wow, so so so good. Probably caloric as heck too though. Then i got some free samples of Think Thin bars and my gift bag. I doubt I would have come if I had to pay- you had to pay for everything in there again so I’d personally rather just go to Macy’s or Nordstrom to get the same kind of deals on skin products.

gift bag contents

Have a marvelous Monday everyone!

Baked Sweet Potato Chips with Yogurt Mustard Dip

Finally. Yes, finally. I am so excited about this. Literally, I smiled so much. I purchased sweet potatoes and made my own homemade sweet potato chips out of them. Is that lame? Of course not. I will never be ashamed of being excited about something little like this. I am, after all, a big dork 🙂 I don’t mind it.

Truth is, I have never bought sweet potatoes before. My parents have. My mom loves them. I love them. She makes them all the time as a side (savory) to dinner when I still lived at home and sometimes when I come to visit. I haven’t ever bought them for myself though. Not sure why. I’m not a big starchy fan overall, I can go months without any pasta or rice or potatoes. It’s just not that special to me. I’m sure the fear of gaining weight has a lot to do with it though. I guess I’d rather not like them to be safe. But it’s okay.

Clearly, though, I haven’t sworn off starchy foods and I am open to eating them. I just don’t do it that often. But when I do, oh baby, it’s on- I might as well make the most of it and make it deeeelicious. Well, duh. 🙂

This is barely even a recipe. But it’s so good it deserves it’s own post. Mmm. I decided to add a yogurt dip on the side so that the protein offsets the high GI of the sweet potato and therefore the combined GI index is smaller.

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