Eating Healthy on a Dime with Little Money or Time

As a full time working mother who exercises five times a week, tries to read at least two books a month, and spend quality time with my family trying to find the time to provide my family with a healthy, nutritious, and tasty meal that won’t chain me to a stove for hours could appear on surface to be a struggle. However, in reality it never has been because I follow some simple tips and strategies. Today’s dinner was an ideal example.

I became a pescetarian for health reasons when I turned seventeen so chicken and fish comprise a heavy part of my diet. Normally I always cook the night before when I am working so that I can go to the gym immediately after work and then pick up my son afterwards and eat our precooked dinner as soon as we get home. I strongly recommend this for every working mother or father who does most of the cooking for it really frees up your time. Because I am out on summer vacation, I now just wait and cook the same day. At any rate, today I seasoned and stuffed a whole chicken with raw onions and green peppers. I covered it with aluminum foil so it could cook in its own juices on 400 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours. While it cooked, I was free to wash clothes, clean, and take a quick nap.

For sides, I purchased and washed a bag of Morningstar precut and washed collard greens. Collards are extremely rich in vitamins A and C and are loaded with calcium. Normally, this dish is cooked with pork; however, I boiled smoked turkey in a pot of water for an hour and then dumped the washed collards to cook along side the smoked turkey for another hour and a half on low. I added salt for added seasoning. Once again, I was free to perform other jobs while this was cooking .

I topped the meal off with some brown rice. Prep time for all of the dishes took no more than 15 minutes at the most.

Not only was this meal yummy enough for my four year old to ask for seconds, but it was low calorie and low cost. The store brand chicken was only $8.47, the collards were at the most $3.00, and the rice was $4.00 for a large bag that will last at least two to three weeks. In total I spent around $15-16.00 for a nutritious meal that served as dinner today and will be lunch tomorrow for three people and took only 15 minutes to prepare. If you can’t wait the two hours, consider popping it in the oven the night before so all you will have to do is reheat the day you plan to serve it for dinner. According to my Fitness Pal, this meal was only 319 calories 🙂

Good luck!

“Good Hair”

Tips for loving and caring for natural hair

I grew up in a family where my parents constantly reminded me that the hue of my skin was not a curse but an honor that held stories of men and women who came before me and triumphed over unquantifiable obstacles. As a result, I largely escaped the thorns of colorism that still pierce so many people of the African diaspora today, and I will forever be grateful to my parents for that. However, growing up, there was one insecurity that I did fall victim: the issue of hair. Ever since I was a child, I had what so many people in the Black community would label as “bad hair.” My hair was ridiculously thick, dry, and tightly coiled. Not knowing what to do with my hair, my mother permed it when I was seven years old. I grew up being allergic to sweat and water and a slave to what many of us jokingly deem “the creamy crack.” Even with countless hours in a salon chair trying not to cry from the burning sensation on my scalp caused by the chemicals on Saturdays while I watched my non-black friends go to the beach , I was just grateful that I could get a comb through my hair .

And then the 90’s hit. I immersed myself in the neo-hippie movement. I would have traded my left kidney for Lisa Bonet’s locs. I also started seeing women with short afro’s and I fell in love. I fell in love with the beauty of their natural hair, but more importantly I fell in love with the freedom they enjoyed. They were free from chemicals, salon visits, and a fear of their hair reverting back to their natural state.

Queen Lisa Bonet

It was a long rode until I gathered the courage to chop of all of the chemicals. But when I did, I felt the most beautiful I had ever felt in my life. I have been natural for over 16 years and I have never once looked back. I have rocked short and long, black, brown, and auburn tresses.

7 day old twist out
Rocking my little afro in London and Beijing. I absolutely loved my short afro and wore it like that for over 10 years.
Trim day… Just call me Cousin It
My shrinkage is real!!! I love going to an unsuspecting beautician who thinks that straightening my hair will only take 30 minutes. It takes me at least 1 hr to 1.5 hrs to get through all of this .

A day does not go by where I am either stopped by strangers, my coworkers, or students and asked about the products I use or my regiment. I am still a tomboy and keep my regiment and products pretty simple. If there is any advice I would give to someone considering going or is currently natural it would be to deep condition on a weekly basis and find your hair type. I have low porosity which means my hair does not maintain moisture easily. I need the assistance of heat to penetrate my hair shaft. Deep conditioning under the dryer does wonders for my hair and assists with moisture retention. I also realized that my hair abhors proteins. As a result, the first thing I do when I consider trying any new product is to look at its ingredients. I run if I see any protein variant. I rarely straighten my hair, get regular trims, and eat a nutritious diet. Twists outs are my friends and I always sleep with a satin bonnet. My go to products are listed below.

My go to deep conditioner. I comb it through my hair after a wash with a paddle brush, cover with a plastic cap , and sit under the dryer for 30- 45 minutes every Saturday night.
I always mix my conditioner with olive oil for an added boost of moisture .
After I rinse the conditioner out of my hair, I comb argan oil through my hair before I apply my leave in conditioner below.
This leave- in is the truth for people with thick tresses like myself.
Learning to love your hair
Nothing holds my hair like pure African Shea Butter . I use this to twist my hair. I have tried countless other twisting agents but my hair only responds to pure shea butter. After I twist my freshly washed and deep conditioned hair, I let it air dry over night, leave it in twists the next day, and take them out on Monday and fluff for work 🙂

Feel free to email me if you have any additional questions. A review of Lalita Tamedy’s Red River is coming soon.

Because Mommies Run Too!

Finding time to work out when you work full time can be stressful, but when you add the responsibilities of motherhood you find yourself working with even less viable time. I have worked out five days a week since I turned 18 for numerous reasons. First, I recently took author Gretchen Rubin’s personality quiz and realized that I am an “Upholder.” According to Rubin, Upholders are those individuals who rise to inner and outer expectations. Looking back, my dedication to working out makes sense. When I graduated from high school, the state of Florida had just implemented a new law that required all freshman college students to take a health and wellness class. Needless to say, it was the first real health class I had where I felt the professor really broke down the science between living a healthy life comprised of effective nutritional choices and purposeful exercise.

I quickly set my own inner expectations to live a healthy life and 22 years later have not looked back. I also love a routine and my gym is less than two miles from my job and home. Membership dues are quite reasonable and include extremely small classes with personal trainers. As soon as class ends for the day, I bolt out of the door, change sometimes in my car on the way to the gym, workout hard for 40 minutes, jump back in the car and dart towards my son’s daycare.

Finding time to run is a little more difficult because there are not any tracks or trails on the way to my son’s school that I am familiar with. The weekends are really the only times I can run and I am usually so tired and just want to sleep in. However,I regret not engaging in some type of physical training , because the deep sleep that I enjoy the nights that follow a hard workout during the week elude me on Saturdays and Sundays. Also, I absolutely hate running and I would like to feel like I accomplished some obstacle by getting myself on a track or trail on at least one of my days off.

This Saturday I tried a new strategy that worked. I woke up at 6:30 am which is about 45 minutes earlier than I normally would on a Saturday. I cooked breakfast while my son was still sleeping so when he woke up his food would already be waiting for him. My husband wakes up at the crack of dawn on his days off and was already headed out the door to run errands. Normally, I plan my Saturdays around everyone else but today I got suited up in my workout gear while he was out and met him at the door when he returned. Today I did not ask “If he would be free to watch our son so I can run.” Today I said, “I’m going running and will be back in X time.” Breakfast was cooked for everyone and he already ran his errands. Thus, there was no excuse for me not being able to go. Although the run was hard, the weather was exquisite and I had time to focus and distress. All it took was 45 minutes -a 15 minute drive back and forth to the track and a 30 minute run. Afterwards, we took our son to the local farmer’s market and then to see ” A Secret Life of Pets 2.” When we returned home and ate lunch, we all took a nap, but my nap was the deepest 1 hour sleep I have had in a while on a Saturday. Mommies suit up and set your time because mommies need to run too!! 🙂

Happy Hour at the Creek. . .

TGIF family! I don’t know how your week has been but I didn’t think I was going to make it. When you are a working mom and wife, it seems that you are always going. Every morning I rise at 5 to make sure I can prepare hot lunches for the family and a hot breakfast before we all leave. DMV traffic alone is no joke and between taking my son to daycare and then fighting to make it to my job across town by 8 am, I spend a good three hours each day stuck in traffic. Work can be just as taxing, for as a high school teacher, I am always on my feet. Life does not slow down at 3 pm for as soon as work ends, I jump in my car and zoom to the gym which luckily is only ten minutes away where I work out hard for 45 minutes with an amazing trainer. I then jump back in my car to pick up little man. Thank God dinner is always already prepared for I religiously cook the night before while everyone sleeps. As soon as we are done eating and describing how our day went at the dinner table, I bathe, read him a bed time story, and then pass out shortly after putting him to sleep. Doing this five times a week is tough. And despite the fact that I am a true early bird, for some reason I woke up in the absolute worst mood today.

Needless to say I was overjoyed when my husband said he was going to pick up my son this afternoon. I almost did not know what the hell to do with the extra two hours! I thought to myself “Mom’s love getting their nails done so maybe I should get my nails done. ” As I looked online for salons near my house, I thought to myself, “I really don’t feel like sitting in a confined space and then being stuck not able to do anything with my hands that might mess up my polish.” Believe me, four hours later, I will ALWAYS find a way to mess up the polish. Then I thought to myself, “My husband and I are going out for date night tomorrow and maybe I could surprise him with a new outfit. A lot of moms love to shop.” However, I really did not feel like spending money or dealing with a crowded mall. Truth of the matter, the one gift every mother and wife wants is to be left alone and allowed to take a nap in the middle of the day. This last option was truly enticing ,but I could not ignore the amazing weather outside and in the end, I settled my self down and finally listened to what I wanted to do.

I dusted off my bike, hooked it to my car, and headed for the creek. I come here all of the time in the summer when I am out of school and my son is in daycare. Peaceful is too weak of a word to describe how I feel when I ride along this creek. It was just what I needed. I returned home, energized, and ready to show my family love.

Today taught me two lessons: (1) Stop following the crowd and trying to fit into a stereotype. I have never been the chic to spend hours in a salon or rush to get my nails done every week. When I truly feel the need to do that, I will but I will not attempt to use activities along those lines as a one size fits all for my happiness and (2) Make time for activities I love. I thought the fact that I rode almost every other day during the summer when my son was in daycare and I was out of school was a great way to stay true to who I was before I became a mom and continue doing that which brings me joy, but today the only event that gave me happiness was my ride through the creek. I would never have been at peace and rejuvenated to be the mom and wife I want to be if I had not made time today for that ride. I truly found my happy hour at the creek 🙂

One of my favorite spots. The sound of the water helps to clear my mind and silence any worries and insecurities.

Feeling like a bad ass because I had the courage to make time during the week for me 🙂

Running for my Life

This past weekend, I ran for the second year straight in the D.C. Prince v. Michael Jackson 5 K race. All of my close and not so close friends know that I am a Prince fan to the 100th degree and have been since I was a little girl. Before I go on, I have to admit that I neither love nor like running. I would much rather be on my bicycle riding through the Everglades or any of the many creeks where I currently reside. However, I love fitness and I love physically pushing myself. I had eagerly registered for the race four months ago and had my Prince playlist ready a week before to get me hype for the run. But, when I woke up the day of the race, the winds were clocked at 40 mph and it was 53 degrees outside. Such conditions were not ideal for this born and raised South Florida girl. In addition, my 4 year old son was just getting over an annoying tussle with an asthma outbreak and recently diagnosed with an ear infection, my husband was making me feel guilty by complaining about being unable to go to a martial arts class because the time conflicted with the race, and my bed looked like my only place of solace after a really hard week at work.

After rolling myself out of bed and making my cup of tea, I decided I was going to tell my husband forget it and I would just do it next year. But then I remembered the quote I had recently written on my chalkboard by Eleanor Roosevelt which says, ” Do something everyday that scares you.” I rushed and cooked everyone a breakfast, packed my son’s inhaler and new Star Wars light saber, and husband in the car. I made it there minutes before the race began and literally had to run to the starting line. I finished in 34 minutes.

I know for many avid runners, a 5k is child’s play, but for this soon to be 40 year old it meant everything to me. I purposely did something for me and added another memory to my “you are one bad little momma” bank. I am realizing that it is not the new pair of shoes, dress, jewelry, car, or bag that gives you confidence. I firmly believe that confidence and an undeniable glow comes from life experiences and events that serve as proof that you can presevere and finish strong. Don’t be afraid to try something scary, something new, something no one else is doing, or something you thought you could never do.

Saturday I ran for my life. I ran for my happiness. I ran for my confidence. I ran for me 🙂