Monday, September 8, 2014

Celebrating 1 year of Dad's New Heart -- with a little help from ENELL

Walking at 5am... I never thought this would be something I'd enjoy!

Today marks 10 days that I've gotten up super duper early (well at least for ME... I know other people do this all the time! God Bless You!) and spent 45 minutes - an hour or more taking a daily walk.

I've been doing this mainly to practice for a 5K that I'm walking this upcoming Sunday, September 14th in honor of my Dad. It will mark 1 full year since my Dad received his "new" heart. Dad has had a lot of ups & downs since receiving his heart.

His body has had to readjust to life with new medications, recovering from bouts of illness (due to taking immuno-suppressants, etc..), and now recovering from a broken ankle with more major surgery. My Dad is truly a miracle man. He's survived more than most people could and I'm so proud of him these past few months as he's managed to maintain a positive attitude despite having to live in a rehab facility and learn how to walk again... on TOP of all the health/suppressed immune system challenges of having a new heart.

Dad you're amazing! 
I hope you realize what a miracle you are and how inspiring you are to me 
(and SO many others)! 

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about being a new ENELL Ambassador. ENELL is a sports apparel company for well-endowed women. Their goal is to help women of ALL sizes to have sports bras & t-shirts that are made just for them to help them feel both supported and comfortable in their health & wellness journeys.  When I was chosen as an Ambassador (rather shockingly to me!) I decided that if I truly wanted to represent this company I needed to faithfully use the equipment and seriously get started on my journey to health.

So I've started a daily practice of walking. My general goal every day before work is to walk two miles. I live in a small neighborhood in a rural area in eastern NC. I'm surrounded by tobacco fields, cotton fields, sweet potato fields, cantaloupe and watermelon fields (all depending on the seasons!) horse & cattle farms, etc...

This week when my first package of ENELL sports gear came in, I was honestly too excited to wear it. The new sports bra is part of their seasonal limited edition color series and it is shiny teal SCUBA BLUE! Along with it came a black warm up jacket (wayyyy too warm for that yet!), a super breathable hat, and the coolest work-out t-shirt I've ever seen! "I'm kind of a BIG DEAL!" ENELL you are so awesome!

By day 4 of my morning walks, I had to try out the new sports bra & t-shirt. Let me tell you, this is the MOST comfortable sports bra & t-shirt I have ever worn when working out. ENELL's products are such high quality that they actually help you WANT to go out and take a walk! I love not only the chest support that the bra provides, but it's really awesome back & core support as well!

And on my walks I try to get at least one picture of the morning sky... here are a few of my favorites over the past 10 days...

So far in 10 days I've walked 27 miles, more than I've done in the past 2 years! :-) I've been able to stick to it (probably more because I HAVE to get up early since my work schedule has changed... so we'll say that's a POSITIVE outcome of having to open the library every day! lol)... and Michael has even joined me on several mornings.

Next Monday I'll recap the 5K that we're walking in celebration of my Dad's first year with his new heart and share more about my daily walking practice and future 5K's we plan on participating in!

Do you have a daily practice? 

GLG Disclosure: 
This post is part of a new series sponsored by ENELLThe ENELL Ambassador program provides fitness apparel and pays for fitness event registration fees in exchange for blog posts shared about the blogger's  fitness experience. The opinions in this post are completely my own. I , and other bloggers in the Enell Ambassador Program are not monetarily compensated for any blog posts written for/or about ENELL products. 

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Celebrating Local NC Food: Baby Back Ribs with the NC Pork Council

This month's signature cut with the NC Pork Council is RIBS! OTHER than my husband (who isn't a fan of any meat on the bone....I know... I have no idea...???)... WHO doesn't love ribs?

I love them! And honestly, I don't make them as often as I should. Especially in the summer, as ribs just seem like the ideal hot summer meal.

I've chosen my slow cooker as my cooking element of choice for these recipes with the pork council! I love using a slow cooker, it's so easy and since we don't grill out much, it's a great option. Also, proteins are not my cooking specialty and it seems like whenever I go the easy route and make them in the slow cooker, they're always perfect!

When I think of ribs, I generally think of savory, crispy pork slathered in a tangy barbecue sauce. I didn't have any barbecue sauce on-hand and I wanted to go in a different direction. I wanted to do something with an Asian flavor, so I started looking up recipes in my cookbooks at home.

I ran across a recipe in "The Food Lover's Make it Paleo" cookbook by Bill Staley and Haley Mason. The recipe sounded good to me because it had Asian flavors, but also didn't use soy sauce, which is really helpful since I'm allergic to soy.

I changed the recipe a bit, just adding several additional spices that we enjoy. You basically make an easy rub for the ribs and then several hours into slow cooking you drizzle a sesame ginger glaze over them.

The ribs caramelize will then caramelize a bit and with the fat that cooks through, they have a wonderful flavor and texture. When they have finished cooking they are fall-off-the-bone delicious. We served the ribs with slow cooked collard greens &amp (made in another slow cooker) and cinnamon sugar sweet potatoes, which I covered in foil and placed beneath the ribs. The sweet potatoes cooked right underneath the ribs, a technique I love using with root vegetables and even ears of corn. (You can find both of those recipes in my Everything Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Cookbook.)

That's another fun thing about using a slow cooker, you can cook several components of a meal in addition to one-dish meals! Super easy peasy and kinda fun as well!

Slow Cooked Chinese Spiced Ribs
adapted from a recipe in "The Food Lover's Make it Paleo" by Bill Staley and Haley Mason
free of gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, and nuts
printer-friendly recipe

Rub Ingredients: 
  • 3-5 pounds baby back ribs
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar or crystallized maple sugar or coconut palm sugar
Glaze Ingredients: 
  • 3-4 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup coconut aminos (a savory substitute for soy sauce, if you're cool with soy, use GF soy sauce!)
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger root, minced
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses or brown sugar
  1. In a large bowl of a bag mix together Chinese five-spice powder, curry powder, ground ginger, ground cardamom, Saigon cinnamon, and brown sugar. 
  2. Pat the rub generously over the baby back ribs, that have been cut into portions. Place the ribs into a greased 4-6 quart slow cooker and cook on LOW heat for 4-5 hours. (Alternately, you can cook on HIGH for 2 hours)
  3. Around the 4-5 hour mark mix the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Pour evenly over the ribs and continue to cook ribs another 2-3 hours on low heat. (Alternately, IF you are cooking on HIGH heat, around the 2-3 hour mark, mix the glaze together, pour over ribs and cook an additional 2 hours on HIGH heat.)
  4. When ready to serve, cut slow cooker off and allow ribs to cool for 30 minutes before serving. We served with slow cooked collard greens and cinnamon-sugar sweet potatoes. 

Previous Posts written in conjunction with the NC Pork Council

GLG Disclosure: 
This post is part of a new monthly series featuring local NC pork products sponsored by the North Carolina Pork CouncilThe NC Pork Council provided me with a gift certificate to purchase pork products and create a recipe to share. The opinions and photography in this post are completely my own.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

"Perky" News: I am an Enell Blog Ambassador... YIKES!

So what's this all about?

Well, Enell is a company that makes sports bras and apparel for (shall we say) busty gals... And I am a very busty gal. Always have been. I can thank my grandmother and many aunts for these beauties. And I haven't always been happy about them. Large breasts, big boobs, honkers, basketballs (Boinga, boinga!)... Yep, I've heard it all. And if you've been doubly blessed as well, you've probably heard most of it too.

It meant getting noticeable breasts at a very young age, it meant having to ask for a bra before any of my friends had one (I was 8 or 9, I think?)... it wasn't always the most pleasant gift to have.

As I got older, bustier, and gained weight...I really started to hate underwires. I mean HATE underwires. I still HATE underwires! I would buy super fancy, super expensive bras to hold these ladies up... and the first thing I'd do is cut out the underwires... So those expensive bras never lasted very long... and I always hated my shape in them.

I discovered Enell apparel a little over 10 years ago (I think??). It was right before I was married and when I was working at a popular "for ladies only" fitness gym. (Yep... I used to work as a fitness "expert"... sort of blows my mind since I'm anything but....) I remember a lady who worked out there regularly and she told me one day about the sports bra she was wearing. She said it held her in like nothing else ever had before. Even 10 years ago the bras were a bit out of my price range, but I remembered the name "Enell" and several years later I researched them and bought one! And I LOVED it. NO WIRES, and yet this bra was super form fitting and had everything in the right place. That lady wasn't kidding... these Enell sports bras held those big suckers in! Held them in TIGHT! and I could exercise without feeling like I was bouncing all over the place. (Stop giggling, this is seriously an annoying issue for big-busted gals! :-) Okay fine, giggle... but it's annoying! lol) 

Several years after I bought my initial Enell sports bra, the company started producing the Enell Lite version of the bra which was comfortable enough for everyday wear also WITHOUT wires! The Lite version, doesn't hold you in as tight as the sports bra, but is shapely, very comfortable, and is extremely supportive. And while this is probably WAY more information than you'll ever need to know... the Enell Lite bras have become everyday wear. Actually they are now the only type of bras I ever buy. You're welcome, you can live a little easier now! :-P

So several months ago I read that the Enell company was looking for bloggers to act as Ambassadors for the company. As an Enell Ambassador you would be required to participate in 2-4 fitness events a year (such as a 5K) and blog about your experience. Enell would pay the cost of your registration fees for the event and provide a t-shirt and of course a great sports bra! Even though I've never really shared publically my love for Enell, I thought why not? And I hoped this would give me the incentive I needed to REALLY get back into an exercise routine. I NEED an exercise routine. I'll share more about that in another blog post... but that's basically why I thought this might be a good fit.

So I filled out the application and sent it in. Now, if you've been a fan of my blog for any length of time you should know that exercise is not really my thing. I will fight tooth and nail before before going to the gym or God-forbid taking a Zumba class. I've DONE it... but I have never loved it. And while I'm not really sure that will CHANGE, what I do want to change is a willingness to be active. I love walking. I'm not a runner and I doubt that will change in the future, but I want be willing to be active at least in an activity I enjoy. And I truly enjoy walking, especially when the weather is cooler. 

Well, a few months went by and honestly I completely forgot about the Enell Ambassador program. Apparently they had hundreds of applicants for 17 spots and I really didn't think I would fit the qualifications. 

Except... about 2 weeks ago I received an email telling me Congratulations, you've been chosen as an ENELL AMBASSADOR! 

taking a walk with my friend Amy and her daughter Amelia, May 2014

And the first thing I did was absolutely PANIC! 

HOLY MOLY... so this means I am going to HAVE to exercise if I want free bras lolol... and maybe gain some physical health in the process... holy cow... what did I get myself into? 

So I thought about it for a few days. I wasn't sure I was ready for a commitment like this. But after talking with my nutritionist and pondering a few more days... I decided that this was a really good opportunity. I'm not big on promoting products in the first place, but having the opportunity to not only earn free apparel, but to promote a company that I truly love is a good motivation to get movin'! 

As I learn more about the program and choose the events I will participate in, I'll share more about Enell and my own health journey! I hope you'll join me! (I'll need all the support I can get... AND not just from the bra!! Would you people stop giggling... geez! :-P)

Please check out these recent posts from other ENELL Ambassadors:

GLG Disclosure: 
This post is part of a new series sponsored by ENELL. The ENELL Ambassador program provides fitness apparel and pays for fitness event registration fees in exchange for blog posts shared about the blogger's  fitness experience. The opinions in this post are completely my own. I , and other bloggers in the Enell Ambassador Program are not monetarily compensated for any blog posts written for/or about ENELL products. 

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