The Possibility of Having a Dream

 

I took photography as a hobby recently and discovered how much I love being outside, enjoying the peaceful mornings, nature, capturing moments forever…amongst other things. I realized that it’s beautiful sights like this one that make me feel so grateful and bring a smile to my face. (It’s the little things!) 

I’m reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and I came across this lovely quote:

“It is the possibility, of having a dream come true, that makes life interesting.”


So, what’s your dream? What do you hope to achieve someday? What would you do if money wasn’t a concern? (Or health?) How does your perfect day look like? What do you do on your free time that if you got paid for would be like heaven?

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These are just some questions I find to be quite necessary for us to ask once in a while; to get a feeling of how we’re doing, if we need to change anything, how the life plan is going, etc.

Unfortunately not many people ask themselves these questions; so they live their lives almost in autopilot – study, work work work, marriage, kids, retirement, death. There’s nothing wrong with that scenario, if that’s what you want. But if you don’tchange your situation. Ask yourself these questions. Move little by little towards your goal, your dream life, your perfect day. Don’t let anyone tell you what you *should* be doing.

Do what makes you happy… because life is to be enjoyed. 

Much love, Abby

Would you rather be happy or be right?

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” – Elliott Erwitt

I completely agree with Elliott’s description of photography (as a new photography enthusiast). Everyone can see something that’s the same, but experience it and see something completely different. And isn’t that wonderful? The differences are what makes us beautiful and unique.

Life can be like this too; it can be enjoyed, it can be suffered, it can be felt and seen an infinite amount of ways. . . And who is right? I heard a lovely and intelligent man (Nathaniel Branden) once say how humans a lot of the time will choose being right over being happy. Personally I’m not big on being right, and I’m typically the first to accept if I was wrong. Yet I have met people who fall under this trap of being right. . . And they’re typically unhappy. But they hold their ground and they’re “right” in their mind. I just wonder, what good comes from being right, that one would be willing to put happiness to the side? I certainly don’t relate to it but can see how it is a powerful emotion for people. Remember that being right is not everything in life; we can be wrong and be a good person, we can apologize, we can accept it and change.

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Happiness > Being right

It can be a really humbling and positive experience to accept that you’ve made a mistake. It makes you human.

Much love,

Abby

4 Quick Habits for Eating Healthier!

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be so difficult. Normally, we stray from our nutritious diets because there are too many temptations put in the way of us. If you get rid of temptation, you’ll find that eating a healthy and balanced diet is a lot easier to do. In fact, you could end up eating a lot healthier without even noticing! Here are four tips that can help do just that.

Hide Sweet Treats

If you see unhealthy foods, you are going to be constantly tempted by them. So take any cookies, chips, and candies out of sight. Hide any sweet treats that you have in cupboards that you hardly go in. Try to put bowls of fruit and nuts out on display on your kitchen surfaces. That way, you will reach for a healthy snack whenever your tummy rumbles.

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If you’re craving something sweet, make yourself some nicecream

Don’t Throw Away Leftovers

Throwing away uneaten food is a big waste. If you don’t finish your meal, keep the leftovers to have for lunch the next day. You can also keep ingredients that you didn’t use for another recipe. Leftovers usually have a good shelf-life when stored in a fridge. To extend this shelf-life, you should place them in your freezer. One way to keep them for a lot longer is to vacuum pack them before you store them in a fridge or freezer. To do this, you need a vacuum sealer. Try to get the best vacuum sealer (here are some with reviews) that can help you store food for a few weeks.

Use Smaller Plates

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One of the main reasons people have issues with their weight is because they eat large portions without realizing it. So to make sure you aren’t overeating, serve your food on smaller plates; here’s a great study that showed that we tend to overeat due to the size and color of our plates (shocking! I know). Be careful not to pile all the food up high on your plate, though! At first, you might feel slightly hungry after eating off smaller plates. That is just because your body is used to large amounts of food in one go. However, after a couple of days, you will get used to it and will feel full after a smaller meal. No matter the size of your plate, though, ensure half of it is taken up by fresh fruit or vegetables.

Drink Lots Of Water

Water is key for a healthy diet. You need to aim to drink at least eight glasses of pure water a day. The more water you drink means you won’t need to drink sugary or caffeinated drinks to stay hydrated. There are loads of ways you can encourage yourself to drink more water. One of the best ways is to keep a water bottle with you whenever you leave the house. That way, you won’t need to buy a drink while you’re out. If you don’t like plain water, try sparkling water. It tastes like a fizzy drink but doesn’t have all the hidden sugar.

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Hopefully, this guide will help you eat a lot healthier without even trying! You might be surprised how much healthier and happier these tips help you feel.

Much love,

Abby

 

Meditation: Achieving Peace Within Yourself

Why do people meditate? Do people enjoy ‘sitting and doing nothing for an indefinite amount of time’? What benefit does meditating give me? These are all questions we’ve all come across or have had ourselves. They’re all great questions. My goal is to provide you the information so you can make the decision; to meditate or not to meditate – that is the question.

People meditate for different reasons; some to calm their anxiety, some are searching for peace or happiness and some are just plain curious. Whichever reason it is that is motivating you to try it, I’ll tell you this: you won’t regret it. 

I once read that they asked Buddha “How shall we meditate?” Buddha replied, “Whatsoever you do, do it with awareness; this is meditation. Walking, walk attentively, as if walking is everything; eating, eat with awareness, as if eating is everything; rising, rise with awareness; sitting, sit with awareness. All your actions become conscious, your mind does not travel beyond this moment, it remains in the moment, settles in the moment – this is meditation.”

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Becoming a mindful person can be the best thing you do for yourself. Can you imagine life without wondering what you’ll be doing tomorrow, next week, where your next vacation will be or what holiday is coming up? Can you imagine just enjoying what you’re doing right now? Whether you’re on your commute to/from work, reading a book, spending time with your loved ones, at work, at the grocery store… can you imagine just being there? Without thoughts rushing in and out of your mind. Because after all, what does having all those thoughts in your mind do for you? They’re certainly not helpful thoughts if they have nothing to do with what you’re doing right now.

According to Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, due to “evidence that meditation had been associated with decreased stress, decreased depression, anxiety, pain and insomnia, and an increased quality of life” she decided to do brain scans and discover which parts of the brain get activated when people practiced meditation. What she discovered was that the brain actually changed after eight weeks of meditation practice.

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If you’re looking for motivation to start or feel like it will be too difficult; I’ve found a really simple guided meditation video that could help you! Meditation is not supposed to be just sitting in a room staring at the wall for 30 minutes; that sounds awful! A good way to look at it is a training of the mind. You are literally training your mind to enjoy the now, the moment, the present, to be aware and conscious. Just as we train for marathons by walking one kilometer today, two the next week, etc. or how we train ourselves to eat healthier by trying new ingredients, swapping ingredients, or changing a recipe.

As Buddha said, being aware and conscious is meditation. If you don’t feel comfortable sitting cross-legged (like the illustration shows) don’t, if you would prefer to have your hands on your lap, do so… It’s all about being comfortable and enjoying it. A lot of people think that they cannot think of anything during meditation – which can be extremely difficult given that we have such busy lives and we’re used to multi-tasking. This is not true. There are different ways of doing meditation, and doing the one that suits you will be the best one! I’ve read that one way to meditate is by actually thinking of a problem, giving it a shape, color, description (in your mind) and seeing it disappear. Other people simply will focus on the breath; in and out, 1 and two, and that will be enough. There is also no time limit; you may meditate for 10 minutes daily, 2 minutes, 17 minutes, it’s up to you. The point is to do it, which will help us become better at it.

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Just remember, we’re looking for awareness and consciousness, not perfection! And just in case you need a little bit more motivation, here’s a list with more benefits of meditation!

Happy meditating! 🙂

Much love, Abby

 

Should you feel guilty?

Guilt. The dictionary’s definition says guilt is: a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined. What I find interesting from the definition is that the guilt can be ‘real or imagined.’

A lot of times we treat ourselves worse than anyone else in the world for doing something as normal as eating pizza, having Chinese take-out, having chips as a snack, drinking soda or having a cheat meal of any kind. We rationalize the bad treatment by telling ourselves that what we’re saying will ‘motivate’ or ‘encourage’ us to do better next time. But it doesn’t. So we do it again…another trip to guilt-town where the main attractions are feeling awful about what we ate, counting the calories we shouldn’t have consumed, calling ourselves bad names (because we deserve it, in our mind), amongst other things.

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This behavior creates almost a never ending trend of ‘every time I eat XYZ I will feel guilty’ which won’t help the situation but will only demotivate me or leave me feeling awful. What we need to understand is that there is no “bad” and “good” food; there is just food. Once you take away the bad and good from food, the villain and hero can disappear because there isn’t a battle anymore. If you take away the “bad” connotation from the slice of chocolate cake and truly enjoy it, savor it and satisfy the craving, you won’t feel guilty.

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You can tell yourself with a smile, I enjoyed that treat! And that’s it.  

I’m not proposing it becomes a lifestyle for you to eat poorly on a daily basis, just for you to remember that it’s perfectly OK to have a treat and enjoy each and every bite. In the long-run, you will be grateful and happier with yourself if you stop the guilt trend and end the food battle. Remembering that we CAN have that slice of cake if we want, will a lot of times take the craving away. You have probably heard the saying “We all want what we can’t have” well I believe it’s true in the food department. We tend to crave what we “cannot” have – this is why taking the labels good and bad away can help immensely. This doesn’t mean you will stop being healthy and eating nutritious food, it just means that you’ve changed the way you look at things.

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If you’re having a trip to guilt-town because of what you ate…ask yourself, would you treat a sibling the way you’re treating yourself? Would you talk to a friend, a loved one, the way you’re speaking to yourself? Sure, it’s OK to admit that having 27 chocolate chip cookies was a bit too much, but does that deserve the guilt that you feel? The remorse? Is that going to change the situation? I know the answer; and the answers are no, you would not speak to a loved one the way you speak to yourself, and no, you do not deserve the guilt and remorse over 27 chocolate chip cookies. You are allowed to have those treats and you are allowed to continue loving yourself. You do not become less amazing because of the food you ate. Say goodbye to guilt. End the food battle, today.

Much love,

Abby

Veggie Bowl of Sunshine

It has been such a lovely weekend; with warm weather, life planning, tons of cooking and inspiring thoughts. I’ve been researching the link between willpower and food and I cannot wait to share my thoughts on the matter and give you some helpful tips! We’ve all been there, feeling like you “can’t resist” that cupcake (or anything tasty) only to feel bad about it afterwards. I hope to bring some light to your life with my research!

Now back to the veggie bowl! I thought of this dish because I wanted to increase my vegetable intake. I could just live off of avocados, toast and sweet potatoes (to be honest!). Given that this is (sadly) not an option, I looked for healthy recipes for a veggie dish that would inspire me. Being a Mexican food-lover I thought why not give this veggie dish a Mexican twist? I don’t want just veggies… let’s add a salsa! And let’s have guacamole on the side…why not? And this, is how it all started.

Ingredients for veggie bowl: 

  • 1 yellow onion – peeled & chopped to your preference (some people like their onion coarsely chopped & others enjoy it more minced)
  • 3/4 cup of zucchini – chopped
  • 3/4 cup of mushrooms – chopped
  • 1 large red or yellow pepper – chopped
  • 2 cups of black beans (you may use kidney or pinto, it’s all about making it your own!)
  • 2 cups of corn kernels
  • Handful of coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • 1/2 – 3/4 of shredded Monterey cheese (you may substitute for a different type of cheese or nutritional yeast if vegan)
  • Spices: 1 teaspoon of cilantro powder, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of chipotle powder.

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Ingredients for the salsa: 

  • 1 large tomato or 2 medium ones – chopped
  • 1/3 of a cup of red onion – chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of coriander (cilantro) – chopped
  • 1/2 lemon – use the juice of the 1/2
  • 1 jalapeño – finely chopped (remove seeds if you want to reduce spicy level or if serving to kids)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper (your preference)
  • Instructions for the salsa: add tomato, onion, coriander and jalapeño to a bowl. Mix together until combined, now add lemon juice. I recommend adding the salt and pepper after you’ve tried the salsa. You’ll realize that sometimes, you don’t need it.

Ingredients for guacamole: 

  • 1 avocado – smashed
  • 1/2 lemon – use the juice of the 1/2
  • 2 tablespoons of coriander (cilantro) – chopped
  • 1/2 of a tomato – chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper (your preference)
  • The instructions for the guac are this: smash the avocado as much as you like (again some people like their guac’ chunky and others don’t so go wild here!), add the tomato, coriander and lemon juice and mix gently until combined. That’s it. No fuss.

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Time for instructions!

  1. Preheat oven to 190C or 375F.
  2. Sauté onion, mushroom and zucchini with some olive oil.
  3. Once onion is translucent, add black beans, red pepper and corn kernels to skillet.
  4. Mix spices, cumin, cilantro powder and chipotle powder in a separate bowl.
  5. Add spices to skillet, stir and mix gently to coat all ingredients.
  6. Once ingredients have been thoroughly mixed with the spices, transfer them to an oven-proof bowl or casserole.
  7. Add salsa on top of the bowl carefully spreading it (a spoon or fork is helpful here).
  8. Finally, add the shredded cheese.
  9. Place casserole or bowl into the oven (uncovered) for 30 – 40 minutes or until the cheese is melted and/or bubbling.
  10. After it’s done, let it cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Tip: Take me up on not adding sea salt & freshly ground pepper until after you had a taste. With dishes like this one that come with spices, salsa and cheese, you truly may not need it. 

Tip 2: If you’re feeling adventurous or like having tacos, use this recipe! All you need is literally the corn tortillas and voila! You have veggie tacos and even guacamole to accompany them. 

This is a great dish to make for your family, friends or colleagues. During a potluck you can take this dish! (no need to make the guacamole if you don’t want do) I added it because I could eat guacamole with every dish! And to be honest, it tastes delicious with it too! 

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Much love, Abby

Sweet potato fries…a taste of heaven!

This has been a unique week; I am not only exploring and getting to know Australia’s rural side, I’m starting a new career (this beautiful project we call Yummy Habits!), I’m cooking more than ever before, I’m traveling from city to city every 5-7 days and dealing with surprises from time to time (having no cooking supplies, no stove/oven, a mini fridge that freezes your food, etc), and I’m also battling the traveling temptations that happen to all of us (you know, when the hunger strikes and you’re in a place you don’t know, with no mobile reception and only the equivalent of a seven-eleven to choose your food from). Regardless of the little obstacles that we may encounter sometimes, it’s always good to remember things aren’t as bad as they seem!

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I’ve also had some lovely and exciting adventures exploring; like this one.

As they say, it’s the simple things in life that can bring the most bliss sometimes. I am now in a stereotypical house; with a full kitchen, oven, fridge, blender, stovetop, microwave, toaster…and I feel like I arrived to heaven. It’s truly the little things.

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And now, back to those simple pleasures in life…sweet potato fries! They have easily become my favorite snack because they’re so easy to make and so delicious (who doesn’t like that?). I’ve been cooking them all week, multiple times per day; experimenting with different cuts, times, temperatures and spices. I read an infinite amount of recipes trying to find the perfect one but as we all know, perfection varies from person to person. I sometimes like my sweet potato fries very spicy! Would that be perfect for you? Maybe, maybe not. I want you to create your own version of perfect, hopefully with my guidance and support! 

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This recipe is the result of a lot of sweet potato fries making people happy and I hope they do the same for you!

  • Quick tip: Portion-wise, I’d recommend 1-2 sweet potatoes per person depending on how hungry they are.
  • Quick tip 2: Don’t add sea salt until the sweet potato fries are done, this will prevent the salt from potentially drying the fries.image3-1

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of Olive oil (you may use canola, grapeseed or melted coconut oil if you’d prefer)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground chili, cayenne pepper, paprika (it’s up to you! Any of these will do the trick to add some spiciness!)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder 
  • 1/2 tablespoon of cumin

Instructions:

*Preheat oven to 450F or 230C (technically its 232.2 but that’s tough to set on some ovens so 230C can do).

*Wash, peel and cut your sweet potatoes. You may also leave the skin on for some added crunch.

*Cut them approximately 1/4 inch thick (this is very important!) it makes a significant difference how big/small they are – if too big they won’t fully cook, if too small they will burn.

*Combine: pepper, your choice of spiciness (chili, cayenne, paprika), garlic powder and cumin. (here you may notice I didn’t mention the salt – that’s important!). 

*Place cut sweet potatoes in a bowl and add the olive oil; sprinkle it all around and use your hands to get it all over the sweet potatoes.

*Add combination of spices (remember, not the salt!) to the sweet potatoes and use your hands again to get it all over them.

*Place sweet potato fries in a non-stick baking sheet for best results. Don’t overcrowd them, place them about 1/2 a centimeter apart.

*Leave them alone to bake for 10 minutes, then take them out and rotate them carefully (don’t burn yourself, I’ve done it too many times due to excitement).

*Place them in the oven for another 10 minutes.

*Take out and add sea salt now!

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Much love, Abby.