#TastyTuesday: The Best Guacamole Recipe Ever


Are you as obsessed with guacamole as I am? It tastes amazing (obviously), and it’s rich in healthy fats, potassium, and fiber. Even better, it’s so easy to make at home (and when you DIY, you know it doesn’t have unnecessary and unhealthy add-ins, like sour cream). If you don’t already have a go-to guac recipe, I highly recommend this one. The combination of smooth, creamy avocado, sweet mango, and spicy serrano chile is just perfect.

Mango Guacamole
makes 3 cups
adapted slightly from Martha Stewart

2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 serrano chile, minced (ribs and seeds removed for less heat, if desired)
1/4 cup fresh corn kernels
Coarse salt

In a medium bowl, combine avocados, mango, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, serrano chile, and corn. Fold gently, leaving texture chunky.

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Yoga on the Rocks with Core Power Yoga

When was the last time you did something totally 100 percent just for you—and not for anyone else? I almost never do, but this weekend is a big exception. I went to Denver to participate in Yoga on the Rocks with Core Power Yoga. The event was unlike anything I’ve ever done before—I did a sunrise class with a sold-out crowd of 2,000 people at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, an absolutely stunning location. Check out some of the pictures:

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Lately, I’ve been less diligent about practicing yoga—but this event was a good reminder of how much I enjoy it. I’m definitely going to make an effort to get to more classes when I return home—and if you’re in the Denver area August 9th or 16th, I highly suggest you come try Yoga on the Rocks for yourself! (If you won’t be in Denver, you may enjoy these tips on how to bring your yoga practice outside.)

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What’s Your Loose Screw?


I’m currently on a flight to Denver (to take a sunrise yoga class at Red Rock Amphitheater—more on that later!), and I was catching up on my magazine reading when something in the latest issue of O, The Oprah Magazine really resonated with me. The theme for this issue is breakthroughs, and one of the essays was written by a woman named Beth Levine who’s afraid of flying. After years of trying to force herself to overcome her fear (and guilting herself about all of the wonderful life experiences she was missing out on because she couldn’t board a plane), Levine eventually realized that her phobia wasn’t the problem—her attitude about it was.

“Everyone has a screw loose somewhere, and having a thing about planes happens to be mine,” she writes in the essay. Once the writer came to realize that there were other ways she could embrace new experiences that didn’t involve having a panic attack during landing and takeoff, she stopped feeling like she was missing out—and started taking advantage of other novel opportunities, like performing with a community theater.

“Life wasn’t passing me by because I couldn’t get on a plane,” she writes. ” It was passing me by because I was obsessing about what I couldn’t do instead of rocking the things I could.” It’s not just the breakthrough that really struck me, though—it’s how Levine says she felt in the years before she got to this breakthrough: “Along with fear came self-loathing: I was defective, weak, chickenshit. Why could everyone else just do this?”

I think we all have that thing (at least one) that we feel like “normal” people don’t have an issue with. For some people, it’s drinking in moderation. For others, it’s losing weight or controlling their spending habits. For me, it’s eating “like everyone else”—intuitively, and in a way where food doesn’t ever have the power to ever make me feel bad about myself. I’m working on it (which is why I devote a lot of time on this blog to things I think are helping me get closer to that goal!), but one of the factors that’s been a big source of comfort in this journey is knowing that everyone has their own loose screw that they struggle with. That doesn’t mean there’s anything nothing wrong with you—dealing with adversity (no matter what it is) is just part of being human.

Here’s hoping that this helps you make your own mini-breakthrough with whatever your loose screw is—I know I’m going to think back on it the next time I start to get down on myself about mine.

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Photo by Janus Bahs Jacquet

What Every Woman Needs to Know About Overeating and Weight Gain


Recently, a friend of mine came back from a weekend out of town and told me she’d been “so bad,” eating and drinking way more than she should have. So bad, in fact, that when she’d stepped on the scale the Monday after her trip, she suddenly weighed four pounds more than she had before the weekend. The thing is, it’s not as if this is the first time I’d had a conversation like this. And there have even been times when I’ve had this conversation with myself in my head. But here’s what I told my friend—and I make an effort to remind myself of the same thing when I start being too hard on myself about overindulging: Despite what the scale may say, it’s pretty much impossible to gain four pounds in two days.

Think about it: There are roughly 3,500 calories in a pound, and  14,000 calories in four pounds. Even if you ate an entire Pizza Hut stuffed crust pizza (with pepperoni), you’d only take in 960 calories—some of which aren’t even necessarily excess calories that would contribute to weight gain (after all, you need a certain number of calories for dinner). Are you seeing how difficult it would be to get to 14,000 extra calories?

Now, I know that there are a lot of other, more important reasons not to stress about indulging once in a while—namely that it’s just so much nicer to practice self-compassion. But when you’re in the throes of a post-binge panic attack and you can’t seem to muster the level-headedness necessary to see that potential weight gain and “bad” eating decisions aren’t worth beating yourself up over, remind yourself that your weight and overall health aren’t about one carb- and booze-filled weekend here and there. It’s about all of the little decisions you make and how they add up over time (speaking of which, you can also easily balance out overdoing it at one meal by being more mindful and eating a little less at your next several meals). Ignore what the scale may say—it’s probably reflecting increased water retention more than anything else. Once you convince yourself that you can’t possibly have done that much “damage” to your waistline, it’ll be easier to get to a mental state where you can treat yourself with kindness, regardless of whatever you ate the night before—I promise.

Do you have any other tricks you use to prevent yourself from freaking out after overeating? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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One of the Easiest Ways to Brighten Up Your Day (Plus, Links!)

Back when I lived on the Upper East Side, I used to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art about once a month (and sometimes a lot more than that). But since I moved to Brooklyn, I haven’t been the semi-regular that I once was. Yesterday, I went for the first time in probably eight months (I have two college friends in town visiting from North Carolina, so I wanted to take them). Before we got to the museum, I’d felt a little low-energy—after all, we’d been running around all weekend. But the second we stepped inside, I felt instantly re-energized and just generally at ease. I’m pretty sure I also had a goofy grin on my face a lot of the time we were there. Here’s a small sampling of some of the amazing pieces we saw there:

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Going back to the Met made me realize how much of a happy place it is for me—my mood improved significantly the moment we got there. Turns out, I’m not the only one who gets a little giddy around art. I found this article about a 2011 study that explains four of the top six happiest activities are arts-related, according to preliminary research out of the London School of Economics. Here’s the full list:

1. Intimacy/making love
2. Sports/running/exercise
3. Theatre/dance/concert
4. Singing/performing
5. Exhibition/museum/library
6. Hobbies/arts/crafts

Pretty amazing, right? All you have to do to be happier is take an art break. Of course, you don’t have to go to a world-class museum to get a happiness boost (although it can’t hurt if you have the chance!). I’ve noticed that I get a little lift even when I just stop to appreciate street art or look at some of my favorite paintings online. This week, I’m going to remember that when I need a mental pick-me-up. Here’s what else is on my health and wellness radar right now:

Have a well-intentioned week!

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#TastyTuesday: Super-Simple Cinnamon-Raisin Hummus


A couple of months ago, I wrote this fun article for work about how to add a few ingredients to a store-bought tub of hummus to make it taste way better. The concept was inspired by Blake Wollman, who’s invented dozens and dozens of out-of-the-box hummus flavors, which he sells through his company The Wild Pea. His creations are amazing—I’ve tasted his buffalo chicken, pizza, and the Asian fire flavors, among others—but my favorite has to be his cinnamon-raisin hummus (it’s also his signature variety). I know it sounds kind of strange to have a sweet hummus, but I promise it tastes so good. Granted, I don’t live in Baltimore, where Wollman is located and has managed to get his hummuses in lots of local markets. And while you can buy some of his flavors on Amazon, you have to commit to getting six tubs at a time (while I like hummus, I don’t go through that much of it).

So I came up with the idea to play around with creating my own cinnamon-raisin hummus at home, starting with a 12-ounce container of plain hummus from the store. And I have to say, I think I came pretty close to Wollman’s crazy-popular concoction. Here’s how you can make your own, too:

Cinnamon-Raisin Hummus
Inspired by The Wild Pea

12 oz store-bought plain hummus
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup raisins
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a bowl (or in the original hummus container if there’s room), and enjoy!

Super simple, right? Please let me know if you try it—I’m dying to convert more people into sweet hummus lovers!


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How to Exercise Intuitively (Plus, Links!)

Ever since I wrote about my recent fitness class fatigue, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of intuitive exercise. It’s something I first heard about while doing an intuitive eating challenge back in May; the idea is that, rather than dragging yourself to the gym and doing whatever will burn the maximum amount of calories, you should stay active in ways that you actually enjoy—and it definitely doesn’t have to involve doing the same exercises every day. Rather, just as you would listen to what your body is craving to eat intuitively, you should do the same with exercise and move in whatever way feels best to you in the moment.

Granted, everyone has those days when you don’t want to start working out because of sheer inertia—but are so glad you did afterward. Still, I’ve been making more of an effort the past several days to really ask myself, “What type of workout are you in the mood for today?” and make my decision of what to do based off of that. Today, I did a short bout on the elliptical at the gym (while reading The Silkworm; I know you’re not “supposed” to read while you’re working out, but I love it!). And I also biked to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden with my boyfriend. No, it wasn’t as intense as a cycling class. But it was way more fun—and I saw some gorgeous flowers! Take a look:

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I’m going to continue to make an effort to exercise intuitively (including not forcing myself out of bed at 6:30 a.m. when I’m really enjoying evening workouts more lately). Here’s what else I have on my wellness radar this week:

Have a well-intentioned week!

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Do You Ever Get Fitness Class Fatigue?


Lately, I’ve been taking a LOT of fitness classes. In fact, for all of June, my only workouts were at fitness classes because I had a free 30-day trial to ClassPass, a monthly service that gives users access to dozens of fitness studios across New York City. It was fun to try out lots of new places, but something funny happened; at a certain point, I started to miss the familiarity of just hopping on the elliptical with my iPhone. I missed going to my gym around the corner from my apartment and recognizing the people working at the front desk.

I thought it would be impossible to get bored when I was trying new classes regularly, but it became a little tiring going to new places all the time—and not knowing the drill at any of them. There’s definitely something nice about knowing what to expect and being in a setting where you’re comfortable. I’m not going to be giving up fitness classes any time soon (I particularly like booking them when I want to work out in the morning—I know I won’t skip exercising if I actually sign up for a class). But now I also know that I won’t be swapping my gym membership for fitness studio hopping, either. And for the next couple of weeks, I think I’ll be spending more quality time with my gym instead of booking any classes—I’ve missed it!

Have you ever burned out on fitness classes? (Or is it just me?) Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Photo courtesy of localfitness.com.au

#TastyTuesday: How to Turn Any Cookie Recipe Into a Cookie Cake

As I’ve mentioned before, I try to eat healthy most of the time—but I also love baking. I don’t think the two have to be mutually exclusive. And one of my favorite things to make are cookie cakes! Not to brag, but I’ve mastered the art of baking and decorating them—and they’re always a hit. Take a look at some of my creations:




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Pretty fun, right? And the nice thing is that they’re (a) super-easy to make, and (b) a cinch to transport (so, so crucial when you have to take your baked goods on the New York City subway system). Even better? You can really use any cookie recipe you love to make a great cookie cake; you don’t have to stick to chocolate chip like Mrs. Fields did. After you mix up the dough, just follow these steps:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Prepare the dough as usual. (If you don’t feel like doing this step, you can totally cheat and buy a log or bucket of ready-to-bake cookie dough from the store.)

3. Roll the dough out into a disc roughly 3/4″ thick and 12″ in diameter. (Hint: Use a clean wine bottle to do this if you don’t have a rolling pin.) If your dough makes a bigger disc than this, cut off the excess (you can use it to make extra cookies!).

4. This is the only slightly tricky part: gauging how long your baking time will be. Basically, you want to take the cookie cake out of the oven as soon as it starts looking golden brown around the edges. I recommend beginning to check around 25 minutes, then checking again every 2-5 minutes after that if your cookie cake isn’t done yet.

5. Let cool for at least an hour. At this point, you can either decorate your cookie cake or just serve it as-is. Either way is fun, but if you’re decorating, you’ll probably want some disposable pastry bags and decorating tips. I’d just recommend practicing with the frosting on some wax paper first so you can get the hang of piping it through the bag and plan out where you want your writing/drawings to go before you start on the cookie (it’s not hard, I promise!). 

Make sure to keep the cookie cake on a flat surface (if you put it on a plate that’s not completely flat, your cookie cake will crack, like the panda one I made above). And if you need to transport your festive dessert, ask your local pizza joint if you can buy (or just take) one of its pizza boxes. They’re perfect for this, as are pizza cutters. Enjoy!

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This Week in Wellness (Links!)

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend! I’ve actually been dealing with a summer cold, but I pretended I didn’t have one because I really, really, really wanted to go with my boyfriend to his boss’s lake house in Connecticut yesterday. It was so fun—and I even tried wake boarding for the first time! Here’s the view of the lake from yesterday:


It looks like something out of a painting, right? SO beautiful. (Maybe I should actually try to paint something based off of this photo…) Today, I tried to rest a bit, got a haircut, and cooked tofu and a bunch of veggies for salads for the upcoming week. It was pretty windy when I took this photo, but it gives a sense of what my style cut looks like:


Unfortunately, I’m still feeling pretty sick (I guess that’s what I get for trying to do water sports this weekend). I’m definitely going to try to load up on sleep the next few days in hopes that it’ll help me kick this cold. Here’s what else is on my radar right now:

Have a well-intentioned week!

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Do You Ever Make Themed Playlists?

At work, I write a column called “Your New Favorite Playlist.” The idea is that I get a playlist from a different fitness studio or class each week and share it with readers so they can use the tunes to invigorate their own sweat sessions. This week, the playlist came from the indoor cycling studio SoulCycle—and it was from a Michael Jackson-themed ride! And it gets better: I actually got to participate in the ride earlier today! Here’s a photo of me with Trammell, the instructor who came up with the genius idea to host a class featuring music from the king of pop:

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This is the second themed ride I’ve done; I also did a Frozen-themed SoulCycle ride back in March (yes, I love Frozen!). Going today reminded me how fun it is to work out to a themed playlist sometimes. It definitely adds a ton of energy when you’re in a group session—after all, everyone there is guaranteed to know and love the music—but even when you’re on your own, it’s a fun change of pace.

I know I’ll be working out to the playlist we used today in a future gym session (you can find the playlist on Spotify). And I’m feeling inspired to create my own themed playlists, too. The only tough part will be deciding which theme to choose: Train, Taylor Swift, Avett Brothers, ’90s movie soundtrack songs. There are so many good options! Do you have any themed playlists you’ve created that you love? If so, share them in the comments!

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Using Your Password to Change Your Life

Feel free to use this image just link to www.rentvine.com

Recently, I came across an amazing post written by a man named Mauricio Estrella who was going through a rough divorce in 2011. His workplace required him to change his password every 30 days, and one day, when he was feeling particularly frustrated with his current situation, his computer prompted him to change his password. He was annoyed—but then he remembered a piece of advice someone had given him: to use his password to change his life. What he did next is pretty powerful. Here’s an excerpt from the post:

It was obvious that I couldn’t focus on getting things done with my current lifestyle and mood. Of course, there were clear indicators of what I needed to do -or what I had to achieve- in order to regain control of my life, but we often don’t pay attention to these clues.

My password became the indicator. My password reminded me that I shouldn’t let myself be victim of my recent break up, and that I’m strong enough to do something about it.

My password became: “Forgive@h3r”

I had to type this statement several times a day. Each time my computer would lock. Each time my screensaver with her photo would appear. Each time I would come back from eating lunch alone.

In my mind, I went with the mantra that I didn’t type a password. In my mind, I wrote “Forgive her” everyday, for one month.

That simple action changed the way I looked at my ex wife. That constant reminder that I should forgive her, led me to accept the way things happened at the end of my marriage, and embrace a new way of dealing with the depression that I was drowning into.

In the following days, my mood improved drastically. By the end of the 2nd week, I noticed that this password became less powerful, and it started to lose its effect. A quick refresh of this ‘mantra’ helped me. I thought to myself I forgive her as I typed it, every time. The healing effect of it came back almost immediately.

Want to hear something even crazier? Mauricio says he changed his password to “Quit@smoking4ever” the next month—and dropped his cigarette habit almost overnight. Of the 10 motivational passwords Mauricio reports having used, all but one have worked to help him reach his goals.

The tip to make your password into a mantra that will effect positive changes in your life is so simple yet so smart—I can’t wait to start doing it myself! Do you have any other little tricks like that to help you reach your self-improvement goals? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!


photo via Learning DSLR Video

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