Chocolate Protein Shake

11282689_1656925587859863_1578550085_nThis is one of my go to’s. I’ll drink it as a snack, breakfast, or post workout small meal. This chocolate shake is great because it has protein and curbs my sweet tooth cravings. I have a vegan alternative recipe I use now because of my milk allergy and a regular that I’ll make for my husband. This was another one of the things I make for him a night when he has a “hankerlin” for something sweet. I add greens to it like spinach or kale. I told my husband and he said he could tell, but it still tasted good.

Vegan

  • frozen banana
  • almond milk
  • chia seeds
  • almond butter
  • quinoa
  • ground flax seeds
  • vanilla extract
  • cocoa powder]
  • leafty green like kale or spinach

Non-Vegan

  • frozen banana
  • vanilla protein powder
  • peanut butter
  • cocoa powder
  • skim milk
  • leafy green like kale or spinach

For the vegan version, before hand I put the chia seeds, quinoa, and flax seeds in a coffee grinder and make into a finer, powdery like substance. Put all ingredients into a blender, and blend until smooth. Add more milk if smoothie is too thick. I hope this brings you as much join as it brings me.

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Fit Bit or Nah?

5323977667_3b7f591e8d_o (1)I apologize for being M.I.A. the past couple of days. I went out of town to visit back home, which is a 4 hour drive for us. Its always enjoyable to see family and friends, but when there isn’t a holiday or an extended weekend it takes a lot out of me. I attempted to post last night before bed, but decided against it. If I had, there’s no telling what I would have typed up in my half comatose state. Since beginning my quest for healthy living I’m always trying to find the right tool or practice that will keep me motivated. Whether its been doing the free online weight watchers on and off or the MyFitnessPal app.  This year I gave some very subtle hints (by that I mean not subtle at all) that I wanted a Fit Bit Charge for Christmas. Low and behold, that’s exactly what I got. I was more excited than our 21 month old on Christmas day, which isn’t actually saying much because he had not quite grasped the concept of the day yet. I hastily, opened the box and began fiddling with it. I installed the app, put all my information in, and linked it with my MyFitnessPal app. I was ready to go out and concur weight loss.

For a couple of weeks it was bliss. I’d enter my workouts and on a day I was teaching PE I’d already have a 300 calorie exercise credit on my account by lunch. Then I’d go do my actual workout and have even more. I’d occasionally check a forum or put in a search for a problem, such as how to turn on the call notifications. I really like that feature, because while I was at work I could check phone calls just in case of an emergency call from my husband or daycare without taking my phone out in front of students. Once I found that answer to my question, I would read on to see what others thought of the product. It actually had some pretty mixed reviews. I wasn’t prepared to see this. I thought having a fit bit put me up there with serious fitness addicts, that it was the golden standard. I also started wondering if I should have waited to be able to afford the Fit Bit Surge or a Samsung Galaxy smartwatch. The smartwatches incorporate more than just fitness, it kind of a less than pocket sized computer. I knew could not get a new watch because it would be like telling my husband I didn’t want his Christmas Gift.

Another issue that I was having, was not losing weight. I wondered if the numbers from the fit bit were accurate. Whether they were accurate or not, the Fit Bit kind of indirectly encouraged me to overeat. I’d have like 1000 extra calories by the end of the day. That would then make me decided “Oh, I can have a couple of cookies.” Then I couple of cookies turn into an entire sleeve and my 1000 calorie surplus turns into a 300 calorie deficit. So, while the Fit Bit encourages me to increase my activity level, it also encourages binge eating, for me. Has anybody else experienced this dilemma? So I’m having to make a decision. Do I not eat to make up for the extra calories and just lose weight quicker? If I do that will having 1000+ calories extra put my body in starvation mode meaning that I could end up gaining weight? I feel as a health and fitness expert of sorts, I should have everything figured out. But even people who went to college for this, like myself, don’t have all the answers.

My decision at this point is to be smarter about my choices. I know that I can’t just eat 2 cookies, so if I have a huge calorie surplus eat something healthy to feel those calories, like a smoothie with almond butter. The healthy fat will give enough calories but not encourage binge eating. I can also “bank” those calories for the weekend when I know I’ll being eating more and getting less activity from not walking around at work all day and eating out while running errands. As far as wanted another device, I’ve decided to use my Fit Bit, because that’s what I wanted and I do enjoy it. When it breaks, or becomes VERY obsolete I’ll replace it with my upgrade at that point. So I guess I do have some of the answers. Now I just have to use my common sense and will power to follow through.

Why did I go natural?

179895_488744731745_3801917_nThis is a question I get asked all the time. Some people chose to go natural because its just the popular thing to do. Others, because they had unhealthy hair. My reasons weren’t really any of those.  I’ve been natural for 5 years and I’d like to think I went natural before it was a fad and EVERYBODY was doing it. I wasn’t the first out of my circle. My roommate started going natural our freshman year, and thought it was nice for her, but not for me. I was bound to the creamy crack. Fast forward to the summer of my senior year. I was well into my healthy living when I decided to make my whole self healthy.

I decided to transition from a relaxer to natural hair the summer before my senior year. One day while I was on a trip in Costa Rica, it just clicked. That school year I had to take swimming, as it was required for Physical Education majors. I was stressing that whole semester about my hair. I did not get relaxers the whole time. My mom kept it braided and my hair GREW. Once I was done with the swimming class, I headed straight to my hair dresser to get a relaxer for all that unruly new growth. My friends that did not know me before that semester marveled at how long my hair was that had been in braids all semester. I began to question why people but so much into a woman’s hair? And why is it established that straight, flowy hair is more attractive than curly, kinky hair? While I was in Costa Rica, I once again had braids, so I would not have to deal with the humidity and my straight hair. I took the braids out at the end of the trip and enjoyed my curly crop. I thought to myself, I could do this all the time.

After that trip to Costa Rica, I did not return to my hairdresser to get another relaxer. I started spending hours on the internet searching for the best products, I was well on my way to becoming a product junky. I asked other naturals what they did and imagined what my hair texture would be like, since I had not been chemical free since 4th grade. My original intention was to transition slowly without doing a big chop, because I treasured my long thick hair. I don’t know when or how it happened, but I realized I was going about this all wrong. I was hoping and praying for loose bouncy curls or “good hair” and hanging on to my length as long as I could. During Christmas break of my senior year, December 2010, decided to leave it all behind and did the big chop. I left behind the idea of “good hair” and the thought that long hair is beautiful hair. I went to my hairdresser, who said, “I can’t believe your cutting off all that hair.” But I didn’t care, my mind was made up. I had my TWA (tiny weenie afro).

I loved and embraced my natural hair. I was also very thankful that my husband loved and embraced it just as I did. I feel like I was lucky, because not every man understands why women have natural hair and many prefer that typical standard of beauty. I straighten my hair once a year to see my growth. I went threw a period when I dyed my natural hair. I decided that too was contradictory to the idea of natural hair. So I grew that out cutting it off slowly each month. 5 years after my original big chop, and growing out color my hair is close to the length it was when I went natural. Sometimes I get comments when I straighten my hair like, “why don’t you keep it straight” or “I bet your husbands happy.” But they don’t phase me. I went natural because I felt it was the healthiest, most practical choice for me. Natural hair to me means freedom. Freedom from being chained to a salon chair for an entire Saturday every 6-8 weeks, freedom from that $60+ bill, freedom from fear of humidity and water, and freedom from other peoples thoughts of what beauty is and should be. Now I am free to be naturally me!

 

Recap: Naruto Shippuden Episode 455

25560312204_c541bdea2c_oItachi’s Story- Light and Darkness: Moonlit Night

My husband and I love Naruto. It is the show that brought me to love anime. This love has led us to make Thursday nights (when new episodes post on crunchyroll) Asian night. I prepare some Asian dish, sometimes inspired by Naruto itself. Tonight I made Onigiri with a spicy tuna filling and vegetables. Naruto makes you fall in love with the characters and the story lines, even some of the fillers like this current arch. Filler episodes in anime are something I’ve had to adjust to. Just when you get hooked on the action and can’t wait for the next episode its something completely unrelated and sometimes not even in the same time sequence. I do however enjoy fillers that give background information on specific characters. The current story arch is telling Itachi’s story. We’ve heard his story several times throughout the anime and each time there something rich to add. Its to the point that my husband and I realize that Naruto is the main character in the spotlight, but this anime and the Ninja world within are all driven by Itachi’s master plan inspired by his best friend Shisui.

To catch everybody up. At this point in Naruto Shippuden the entire Ninja world is under Madara’s Infinite Tsukuyomi, except team 7: Naruto, Sakura, Sasuke, and Kakashi. We call this the “matrix effect”. Everyone else is trapped in this alternate reality. Within this reality the ninja world exist as if war had never happened. Team 7 are protected by Sasuke’s Susanoo. So we come to that point, to enter fillers that show everybody within the alternate dream world. Once those fillers are over, we enter another saga that is once again retelling Itachi’s story, which I have no problems with whatsoever.

The previous episodes showed Itachi’s childhood and rise to power within the shinobi of the Hidden Leaf. He was always a prodigy even among the talented Uchiha clan. With his talent and quick ascension in the shinobi ranks he began to question life and the motives of his fellow clansmen. Much of it started seeing dead shinobi on the battlefield and a brief but powerful conversation with Orochimaru. I wondered if Orochimaru planted those seeds within Itachi’s mind on purpose solidifying his fate before any other influences. But mostly the death of his friend and teammate, awakening his sharingan had changed Itachi, to who he know him as today. Before this occurrence he was a normal, but gifted, young shinobi. Itachi was able to meet another friend, Shisui, a gifted Uchiha shinobi much like himself. The two became like brothers. Itachi continued to increase his skills and earned a position in the Anbu (pretty much the ninja worlds B-613).

This episode showed how he begins to question whether his alliance should be with the village or his clan. As a memeber of the Anbu, he protects the village by whatever means necessary, even if that means doing things the Hokage has not approved of. The other Uchiha are tired of their isolation and being treated like enemies in their own country because of the actions of Madara Uchiha many years ago. They are planning a coup d’etat, to overthrow the current leadership making Itachi’s father the Hokage and the Uchiha respected leaders of the village. In order to prevent their clan from their own treachery Shisui sacrafices himself and gives Itachi his Sharingan, awakening his Mangekyou Sharingan. Itachi has decided to turn his Uchiha brother-in in and tells the Hokage and village leaders of the plan. He is given the task of slaughtering his entire clan, except his brother Sasuke in order to protect the village. He sees this as saving his clan, since they will not go down in history having started civil war, thus ending the dark shadow the clan was carried its entire history. He calls upon Obito, pretending to be Madara, pretending to be Tobi, to help him with the task (although I don’t know if Itachi knew he wasn’t Madara). He leaves with “Tobi” to join the Akatsuki as a rouge ninja.

This episode like this entire story arch shows emotions and thoughts that we never knew of Itachi. We knew about what he did for the village already, because he told this to Sasuke within the Ninja War, but we did not see the agonizing process of him making this decision. I don’t understand how the Uchiha saw their plan as a solution. It would pretty much prove everyone’s fear of them to be valid. The other villagers would still fear their rule and see them as tyrants. They’d have to continue killing and wiping out all those loyal to the previous regime once again solidifying there sinister outlook. Why were only Shisui and Itachi able to see the truth? Maybe it was there connection to other rest of the shinobi world due to their skill. They were not confined as ninja police. They were able to be loved as shinobi by the other villagers. So the blame comes back around to the village for ostracizing them. Which was the same thing that lead Madara to his deep bath of darkness. It was all a cycle that Itachi alone had the responsibility of breaking.  Up until now Itachi just seemed like this all knowing omniscient person among all these other “bigger” people. If I didn’t know it before, I know now that Itachi is the true hero of the Hidden Leaf Village. He did everything for his clan, village, family, and brother. My heart hurts for him, because he did not get to be the big brother he wanted to be. He had to carry the burden caused by others, and everyone but him gets to reap the benefits of his and Shisui’s sacrifice. Shisui, got the easy part. He pain was over, while Itachi lived on many years with his hurt, pain, and sacrafice. He’s like the ninja world Batman, not the hero they needed, but the hero they deserved or maybe its backwards, but you get the idea. The episode ends with his joining of the Akatsuki. I’m interested to see him participate in their Akatsuki terrorism, knowing now that he’s really a hero. Itachi is one of the people I would like to see somehow able to come back to life, where’s Nagato when you need him?

Movie Review: Batman vs Superman

26125750001_372e2a06fa_oFirst, I will go ahead and say that I know I am late with a post on Batman vs Superman being that its been out for going on 2 weeks. I just started my blog and had tons of ideas swirling around in my mind and it didn’t come to me until today to do this. I spoke about my views on the movie a little in one of my earlier post, but now I will go into detail.

The movie seems to take place after the events of “Man of Steel”. Some people worship and are thankful for Superman, while others believe he is a false god and should take responsibility for the destruction he causes. This is an age old issue within the world of a superheroes. I really see it as an allegory of how people think of the military, particularly the United States military in other countries and territories.  Here’s the big bad USA coming to save the day, and in their eyes we could be cause more destruction than aid we’ve given. But we don’t stop them because we need them to save our asses in the event that a terrorist attack occurs or some other catastrophic upset to our society. Same thing in the movie. Batman was among those that thought Superman was bad news. The main villain is Lex Luther who purposely put them against one another, with the intention for them to kill each other. Instead they end up coming together and saving the day.

Lets do a compliment sandwich; start with the positive, negatives in the middle ,and end with something mean again. Hands down the best things about the movie where the visuals and special effects. I always try to see sci-fi/fantasy movies in IMAX  3-D if its an option. So it was a fun, entertaining experience with that respect. I like the daydream scene, all the foreshadowing of a Darkseid villain in later movies, and the appearance of The Flash. This scene did bring me back to the scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron, when Iron Man see’s the Ultron controlled world, sorry I couldn’t help the comparison. There was also I sneak peak into the other heroes such as Cyborg and Aquaman. My favorite part of the movie was Wonder Woman she was OP (over powered). Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was exotic, sultry, intelligent, and powerful. Exactly what an Amazonian warrior should be, I can’t wait for her movie in 2017.

Now lets get to the inside of the sandwich. What didn’t I like about the movie? I did not like Lex Luther. When I first saw the trailers for the movie I thought he was the Riddler. This is not the Lex Luther I know. Upon further research I found that Lex Luthor did at one point have long red hair and a larger than life personality. So it was their choice to use this depiction of Luther in the movie. Maybe after his prison stint now that they’ve shown him bald he will be the familiar Lex Luther character. That was another thing that confused me a bit. The movie seemed to have a young Lex Luther and Superman, but yet an older Batman. Maybe its may ignorance of the DC world, so somebody please clear that up for me is this accurate to the DC Universe timeline.  Once again, I’m a Marvel, specifically X-men junky. I’m just trying to be open minded and embrace this DC universe. From the beginning I have not liked the way it seems they are jumping into a Justice League movie. It seems like they’re hanging on the coat tails of Marvel. You have Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Doomsday all wrapped up in the same movie. When I saw Doomsday jump out in the trailers, I was like “Are you serious?!”, “They’re taking it here already!”  From what I know the creation of Doomsday was incorrect as well. Doomsday is a baby that was continuously tortured, killed, and brought back to life. Maybe his appearance in the movie was one of the reincarnations, or they just concocted some reason to add him in the mix. The movie was also very slow. I understand building backstory, I really do, but there had to have had it that way. The main action occurred so late in the movie and it was lack-luster. Batman was pretty much hiding the whole time and pretty much said I cannot even play along with these people. He did not play his normal super detective solve the mystery self. He did snap back until Lois Lane told him Superman’s mother’s name is Martha too. OMG, we can be friends. The whole movie he was being played by Luther and in the end Superman saved the day. God I hate that! I really do not like Superman.  He has super strength, speed, lazer vision, x-ray vison, the list goes on and on. To me he’s boring and lame.

Although I mentioned disdain over DC seemingly are rushing to get to a Justice League movie. The end with Batman saying he will find them, left me with pleasant thoughts of all the stories not told yet. So yes, there were some issues in my opinion but overall it was still a good, not great, superhero movie. It did somewhat intrigue me enough to do more research and try to give DC heroes a fare shot, although I still doubt they can pull me from the Marvel side. Some may argue “Why choose?” and those that do know the ends and outs of DC can probably post a reasonable rebuttal to all of my critiques. But it is what it is. And I like what I like.

 

 

Apple Nachos

Every night without fail, after our son has been put to bed, I’ve made lunches, and gotten things organized for the next day, my husbands asks “Do we have anything sweet to eat?” And look at him rolling my eyes and say, “we have fruit.” Remember how I said on my “About” page that I didn’t want to be the annoying person who shoves being healthy down peoples’ throats?” Well, that rule doesn’t apply to my husband. He has no choice in the matter, I didn’t get married to end up a widow by the age of 40 due to him having a massive heart attack or stroke. Nevertheless, I grew tired of his pitiful face, thus apple nachos (and a couple more brilliant ideas that I will share later) were born!

It really is quite simple. You just chop your favorite kind of apple into slices, for me nothing beats a honeycrisp. Melt a 1-3 tablespoons of peanut butter, depending on how peanut buttery you want it. Melt 1-2 dark chocolate bars. I use 70% dark chocolate, that’s my limit any darker and it tastes like charcoal. I use the microwave the melt in 10 second increments, making sure the chocolate doesn’t scorch. If you want to be fancy you can use a double boiler. Take a spoon and drizzle the peanut butter and chocolate over the apple slices. I also drizzle a little honey for added sweetness and dust with cinnamon. So now both parties are happy. I’m happy because we have a healthy snack and he gets something to satisfy his night time sweet tooth. He still ate fruit, though.

apple nachos

Bringing Harry Potter to the gym

16035134456_58a90c5ee4_oMy students know well by now that I am a nerd. I say many things like, “If you need a pencil let me know now, otherwise you’ll have to get it done via telekinesis.” Or when students are talking I’ll say something like, “you should not be talking, if you have a question ask me, help will always be given at Hogwarts for those who ask for it.” I get all sorts of weird faces. After one of geeky references, a student asked, “are you an undercover, geek?” Another student responded, “No she’s an undercover freak.” Needless to say that student received an unpleasant phone call home that afternoon.  Nevertheless, I never miss an opportunity to expose my students to my geeky interest.

Last year I introduced my students to a new sport, Muggle Quidditch. I teach a non-tradition PE class, that focuses on a lot of group and individual activities such as Yoga, Martial Arts, and Zumba. I am still required to teach team sports objectives, like offensive and defensive strategies, so I decided to find an activity that would cover that but not be the basic soccer, basketball, and volleyball. I each brought the librarian to do the introductory lesson for it. The school I teach at is a inner city, low performing school. Most of the students are Hispanic and African American, so some of them had seen at least 1 of the Harry Potter movies, and hardly any had read the book. I was very happy to see that after we went over this, some of the student had checked Harry Potter books out from the library. They can see that I’m just bubbling with excitement as I’m discussing the rules of the game, recalling examples from the story. I also tried to hook them by saying that universities like UNC and Duke have Quidditch teams that participate in championships, and a few of our high schools have intramural teams as well. After my first time teaching the unit last year it was a huge success. Mainly because of incorporates aspects from so many sports.

For those that don’t know in Muggle Quidditch you obviously can’t fly, but you still run with a broom stick between your legs. We use hockey and lacrosse sticks, since we don’t have a class set of broom sticks lying around. There are 3 chaser, that score 10 points by throwing a quaffle through the goal. In official Muggle Quidditch they use volleyballs as the, we use gator balls. We made the goals from volleyball standards with a hula hoop duct taped on the side. Keepers defend their teams goal from the other teams, chasers. Beaters use a bludger to get people out. In the official game they use dodgeballs, we use smaller soft foam balls. Then there’s the seeker who catches the snitch which awards there team 30 points and ends the game. If you don’t know Muggle Quidditch you’re probably wondering how we have a snitch, since its a small, gold, flying ball. The snitch in this case is a neutral player, with a tennis ball hooked to them in a sack or bag. In the college games it hangs over their butt, no way I’m doing that with middle schoolers. They tie it to their belt loop instead.

This year effective lesson planning and having activating strategies has been a big push in our district. For those not on education an activating strategy is used to get the focus and attention on what you’re going to teach. It should gasp upon prior knowledge they can connect to what they learn. So I decided to do “mix-pair-share”. Student mix and walk around the gym randomly. While they walk I play Harry Potter theme music in the background. When the music stops they pair with the closest person to them. Then share the answer to this question, “If you had magically powers what would you like to be to do the most?” Some student said things like be super strong, speed, teleportation was a biggie. I then explained that when I see movies or read books I often wish I could do the things they are able to do with magic. With Quidditch we can experience a part of the fantasy world.

My 7th and 8th graders had been asking thoughout the year if and when we would be playing Quidditch again. The librarian gave me a quidditch book. I offen get dibs on new sci-fi/fantasy books that come through the library given my interest. I haven’t read it yet, but I hope it can give me new ideas for my 7th and 8th grade classes. My 6th grade classes seemed intrigued. They had to get the whole presentation and take notes since they’d likely never had played it before. I enjoy bring some of my world to my classes. Any showing them that their are no barriers. Hispanics can play basketball, and blacks can play soccer. And a chubby
black girl can be a nerd, like me.