Crop Tops & Kale http://www.croptopsandkale.com Chase feeling good. Fri, 28 Aug 2015 01:37:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 7 Healthy Mason Jar Salad Recipes http://www.croptopsandkale.com/healthy-mason-jar-salad/ http://www.croptopsandkale.com/healthy-mason-jar-salad/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 20:28:05 +0000 http://www.croptopsandkale.com/?p=3638 You look up from the email you’re typing and wowza, it’s already 2 pm! How did that happen? Acknowledging your hunger, you make your way to the office kitchen. But you already know. There’s nothing to be found other than… Continue Reading

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Tropical-Sriracha-Chicken-Salad-4

via The Healthy Maven

You look up from the email you’re typing and wowza, it’s already 2 pm! How did that happen? Acknowledging your hunger, you make your way to the office kitchen. But you already know. There’s nothing to be found other than a carton of Greek yogurt and a piece of day-old birthday cake that Pat from H.R. has already claimed.

We’re not above running out for a quick bite – in fact, you can see our favorite healthy NYC lunch spots right here. But make a daily habit of it and that’ll put your bank account in the red.

So, how to keep it interesting when you either A.) don’t have access to a few healthy joints to choose from, or B.) are tired of eating the same damn turkey & swiss on rye every single day?

Enter: the mason jar salad.

Easy to make, portable, and nutritious: the trifecta of healthy lunches. Also, who doesn’t love a mason jar? It’s just too cute, food in a jar. So Instagram worthy.

The key here is layering, and there’s a specific order that works best. Let’s take some notes from Pieces in Progress:

If mornings are crunched, you can assemble your salad the night before and grab it from the fridge on your way out. You’ll want to pack the ingredients as tightly as possible and follow the layering order. Otherwise, the dressing gets all up in the greens and you’re stuck with a soggy salad. Nobody likes a soggy salad.

To recap, here’s how to layer it:

  1. Dressing on the bottom: 3-4 tablespoons (assuming you’re using a quart-sized jar – for pint-sized jars use 1-2 tablespoons)
  2. Base layer produce (these won’t absorb the dressing): tomatoes, carrots, snap peas, peppers, cucumbers, cauliflower
  3. Next layer of produce (absorbent vegetables): avocado, cabbage, celery, onions, sprouts, squash, zucchini, peaches, strawberries, fresh herbs, etc.
  4. Optional carb or protein: brown rice, quinoa, black beans, chicken, etc.
  5. Leafy greens: arugula, spinach, kale, romaine, etc.
  6. Optional nuts or cheese: a crumbly or soft option like goat or feta works best

Come chow time, just give the jar a good shake and either pour it into a bowl or grab a fork. Easy!

Now, for some recipe inspo:

Tropical Sriracha Chicken Salad, The Healthy Maven

Pomegranate and Pear Salad, Fake Food Free

Mango Avocado Black Bean Salad, Green Plate Rule

Sunny Kale Cruncher, The Lunchbox Bunch

Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad, Food and Other Stuff

Chickpea Veggie Salad, The Blonde Buckeye

Burrito Bowl Salad, StrictlyDelicious

P.S., should you find yourself throwing one of these bad boys together, we sure wouldn’t mind if you shared a pic. Tag us on Instagram and use #ctkeats – we wanna see your healthy mason jar salad masterpieces!

 

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You Can Drive Your Motorcycle Across China If You Want http://www.croptopsandkale.com/long-term-travel/ http://www.croptopsandkale.com/long-term-travel/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 21:50:05 +0000 http://www.croptopsandkale.com/?p=3611 It’s been two full weeks on the road now. After a couple of years of planning, our three-month vagabonding life sabbatical is in full swing. ‘Vagabond’ kind of has a negative connotation to it, doesn’t it? Well, I really don’t… Continue Reading

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IMG_0515

It’s been two full weeks on the road now. After a couple of years of planning, our three-month vagabonding life sabbatical is in full swing.

‘Vagabond’ kind of has a negative connotation to it, doesn’t it? Well, I really don’t think it should.

You see, I read a book called Vagabonding once, written by a real cool dude named Rolf Potts. I read it a few years ago and it sparked something inside of me; the idea of intermittent long term travel. It appealed to me. It just made sense.

There are no doubt benefits to stepping back from our day to day life, to gain a new perspective and grow a bit through adventure. Surely everyone can benefit in some form from escaping their routine.

I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that I’ve never really liked any of the jobs I’ve had but, I thought to myself, if there are other people doing this then why can’t I?

So as our trip approached, I read the book again. I wanted to get in the right mindset.

One part in particular struck a cord this time. Potts writes about Charlie Sheen’s character in Wall Street. In the movie, he’s on a date and he tells the woman that he’s staying in the money game just long enough to retire young with millions, so he can drive his motorcycle across China.

Rolf points out the stupidity of that statement. Anyone working for even a modest wage in the U.S. could save enough money in a few months to drive a motorcycle across China. You don’t have to be a millionaire to do it.

This really got me thinking about how our society sees long-term travel; as a luxury or an activity for adventurous college students, the idle rich, trust funds kids or retirees exclusively. The rest of us, have to work. We’re not really expected or encouraged to go on adventures, at least not adventures longer than your average two-week vacation.

As JB and I make our way North and West through the mountains with Jacko in the back seat and our Airstream in the rear-view, I’ve been reflecting on this concept.

Why haven’t we been encouraged to go on adventures? Why is it that our society is set up in a way that makes us (Wait, is it just me?) feel that the only life trajectory that is “successful” is to go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, have babies and retire … and then maybe do what you want. Is it any wonder that self-help is now a billion dollar industry? There are a lot of us out there for whom this equation just doesn’t add up.

JB and I have encountered many other travelers on our path. Most of them young families with kids on summer vacation, Asian tourists by the busload, bikers, solo and in packs, and lots and lots of retirees, traveling the country in RVs much nicer than our Airstream and finally getting to see the country. We affectionately refer to this group as “The Gerri’s,” short for geriatrics and we love them.

We’ve yet to encounter anyone doing what we are doing though. We know they must be out there (actually, we see some on Instagram); we just haven’t met them yet. Maybe we’re not sick enough of each other yet to try to seek out new friends.

My mom has informed me that it’s actually because there aren’t a lot of others like us doing what we’re doing. We are strange, to use her language. And although she’s been very supportive, I can tell that she’s just kind of appeasing me, waiting for my return to the real world of mortgages and babies. I know she thinks I should just get this out of my system and try to find a new job, one I’ll like this time. And who knows, maybe I will. Maybe I will realize that the grass was greener back over that fence and that would be fine with me too.

But the thing is, and the thing that BShan and I are so adamant about here at CTK, is that we don’t have to do life the way we’ve been told we do. We can design whatever life we want. We can take chances and go on adventures and change things that aren’t working.

Maybe for you it’s not long-term travel, maybe it’s quitting your job to knit little caps for dogs. Maybe it’s going back to school to be a teacher after a decade of producing television. Whatever it is, it’s possible and you can make the choice to do it.

It probably won’t happen overnight. It will probably be way more difficult than you think but, it’s always your choice to go after it or not.

We really can do what we want with our lives.

We don’t have to wait until we make millions or retire, as Gerri’s, to see the country. We don’t have to stay at jobs we hate or in cities we don’t like or in relationships that don’t feel right or anything else for that matter.

We can do what we want.

There will always be consequences to our choices and some of those consequences might be deal breakers but, the fact remains, we are free, we have a choice.

We might have to accept a higher level of uncertainty. We might have to deal with unpleasant outcomes. We might have to accept the fact that we can’t have it all. But I think if we get clear, we will realize that we don’t actually want it all. We just want what we want, which is different.

JB and I have made the choice to accept a higher level of uncertainty than we’ve faced in the past so that we could go on an adventure together.

We’ve chosen to live with less money for a while. We’ve chosen to live in a tin can for a while. We’ve chosen not have a real home for a while. I’ve chosen to have to turn the water off as I wash my hair in the shower and maybe shave my legs a bit less for a while. It’s not always easy and sometimes I get nervous about it all, of course, but it’s a choice nonetheless.

You can do, have, and be anything you want in life. You just have to decide what it is and then take the action and make the choices, some of which might not be easy.

To be honest, I have no idea what’s going to happen in the coming months. This could all be a giant mistake. I just know that at one point, I read a book called Vagabonding and deep in my little, dramatic soul I said, “I have to do that.”

Now, a few years later, here I am. I am literally vagabonding through the country with my husband and my dog. I had lunch on top of a mountain next to a lake yesterday. I’ve made it happen. I’m living a cool life that I read about in a book once.

IMG_0589

No matter what happens in the future, we made this trip happen. We decided we didn’t necessarily have to do things the way we’ve been told. We decided we didn’t have to wait to retire to see the country.

And guess what, you don’t have to wait to retire to do whatever your version of driving your motorcycle across China is. You can figure out a way to make it happen sooner than you think.

We always have a choice. We just have to know what we want, believe that it’s possible, and make the choice to go do it.

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Sweet Potato Tacos http://www.croptopsandkale.com/sweet-potato-tacos/ http://www.croptopsandkale.com/sweet-potato-tacos/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2015 14:17:49 +0000 http://www.croptopsandkale.com/?p=3596 Sometimes I think the name of this blog should be Crop Tops & Sweet Potatoes. CTSP doesn’t have a very nice ring to it though, does it? I have a new sweet potato recipe for you today. If you think… Continue Reading

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Sometimes I think the name of this blog should be Crop Tops & Sweet Potatoes. CTSP doesn’t have a very nice ring to it though, does it?

I have a new sweet potato recipe for you today.

If you think I’m out of control with the sweet potatoes now, just wait. Looking at you, fall.

I love them so damn much. You know what else I love? Tacos. Especially when they’re stuffed with things one typically wouldn’t stuff tacos with (New Yorkers, if you haven’t tried Empellon’s Brussels sprouts tacos you are missing out big time).

You can guess where this is going, right?

sweet potato tacos

This recipe is perfect for summer, despite the sweet potato stuffing. Inspired by the vegan geniuses over at The Purple Carrot, there’s a mango chili salsa, so you just know it’s going to be good.

Let’s cut to the chase, shall we?

Sweet Potato Tacos 

Adapted from The Purple Carrot, makes 12 tacos

Ingredients

1 large mango

1 red onion

1 jalapeño

1 avocado

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/4 tsp cinnamon powder

1/4 tsp chipotle powder

1 tbsp cumin

4 garlic cloves, peeled

12 corn tortillas

1 bunch fresh cilantro

6 cups of sweet potatoes, cubed

1 1/2 cup tomatoes

4 tbsp olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel and dice the mango and discard the put. Mince the garlic. Peel and dice the red onion. Slice the jalapeño pepper in half lengthwise, discarding the top, inner membrane and seeds. Mince the pepper and use as much as you like, depending on your affinity for heat. Slice the avocado in half lengthwise, discard the pit and set aside. Remove the cilantro leaves from stems, discard stems and roughly chop the cilantro. Slice the tomatoes in half.

Place sweet potato in medium mixing bowl, drizzle two tablespoons of love oil and add the cumin, chipotle, cinnamon and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper to taste, toss and spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until potatoes are slightly browned and soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño, mango and garlic in a medium bowl. Add cumin and toss well to incorporate.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave for 30 seconds. Spread a tablespoon of avocado (using a fork so you can mash it) onto the base of each tortilla shell. Add a tablespoon of potatoes and a tablespoon of salsa onto each tortilla. Garnish with cilantro. Repeat for all 12 tacos.

Enjoy!

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Is “Everything in Moderation” the Right Approach to Health? http://www.croptopsandkale.com/is-everything-in-moderation-the-right-approach-to-health/ http://www.croptopsandkale.com/is-everything-in-moderation-the-right-approach-to-health/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 19:10:26 +0000 http://www.croptopsandkale.com/?p=3586 I’ve been thinking a lot about whether or not “everything in moderation” is solid wellness advice, or a big ole cop-out. Conventional wisdom tells us we should strive for “everything in moderation.” But if moderation is what we’re after, does… Continue Reading

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I’ve been thinking a lot about whether or not “everything in moderation” is solid wellness advice, or a big ole cop-out.

Conventional wisdom tells us we should strive for “everything in moderation.”

But if moderation is what we’re after, does that leave our lives, well … moderate?

My mom was in town over the weekend, aka: “LET’S GO TO EVERY GOOD RESTAURANT EVER!” – Me and my brother.

And man, did we eat. There were chips and guac, and tacos, and ice cream, and cheese, and fried chicken, and muffins. Not to mention margaritas, and wine, and coffee, and beer.

Everything in moderation.

We walked all over Brooklyn, burning some of it off, but I’m going to level with you guys: I felt like crap. It’s not like we were snacking on Doritos and Sour Patch Kids all weekend long, and we weren’t necessarily overeating. But I certainly strayed from my usual habits, albeit moderately.

Is "Everything in Moderation" the Right Approach to Health

As a society, we freakin’ LOVE moderation. It allows us to reach for just about anything, so long as we limit the intake.

But here’s the thing. I am an “abstainer.”

According to Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, that means I’m an all-or-nothing kinda gal. I find it far easier to give something up entirely than to indulge moderately. Put a bottle of wine and a cheese plate in front of me and watch as I transform from a mellow, classy woman to a loud, monstrous lady-child four glasses later, limbs flailing for a piece of Brie like it’s the last piece of cheese on Earth.

Would I like to be able to just have a small amount of wine and cheese and be cool with it? Um, does the Pope wear a funny hat?

It’s just not going to happen.

There’s a lot of controversy around this concept of moderation, and outside of what I can gather from my own habits, I’m still a little undecided.

Here’s what I know for sure: when I stopped eating processed food altogether, including dairy and gluten, with one “cheat day” a week (more on that here), I felt amazing. That’s evidence enough to make the case for abstaining on a regular basis.

On the other hand, I love good wine and cheese, and part of living a rad life is enjoying things that we love (and not feeling guilty about it). I’m also not a fan of restriction.

So what’s an abstainer to do?

I suppose there is no correct solution, but if we’re not feeling our best and we want to (as opposed to remaining in a constant state of “moderate”), then we probably need to make some changes. Maybe the key really is a cheat day? Or cutting out things that make us feel crappy while choosing to indulge occasionally, if we’re cool with the consequential hangover/bloating/indigestion/etc.

Regardless of the approach, it does help to understand your nature before making any decisions or changing your habits. Here’s the lowdown, according to Gretch:

You’re a moderator if you…
– find that occasional indulgence heightens your pleasure–and strengthens your resolve
– get panicky at the thought of “never” getting or doing something

You’re an abstainer if you…
– have trouble stopping something once you’ve started
– aren’t tempted by things that you’ve decided are off-limits

Which one resonates with you? I’d love to hear: does “everything in moderation” make sense for you?

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How to Get More Out of Life Through Learning http://www.croptopsandkale.com/how-to-get-more-out-of-life-through-learning/ http://www.croptopsandkale.com/how-to-get-more-out-of-life-through-learning/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 13:32:28 +0000 http://www.croptopsandkale.com/?p=3571 I was a mediocre student in high school. I wasn’t in the top percentile of my class, but I didn’t fall toward the bottom either. I skidded by in a few honors classes, but I haaaated the work. Subjects like precalculus drove me crazy,… Continue Reading

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the importance of learning

I was a mediocre student in high school. I wasn’t in the top percentile of my class, but I didn’t fall toward the bottom either. I skidded by in a few honors classes, but I haaaated the work. Subjects like precalculus drove me crazy, and even then I suspected a truth which life has yet to dispute: that distinguishing between a rational and irrational number might not be critical to our survival. I couldn’t wait to go to college where I could focus on things I actually wanted to focus on.

Then I got to college, and found out I had to enroll in a bunch of bullshit courses like geography and, get this, precalculus! Ugh.

So, I did what any typical college student would do and worked my little tail off so I could graduate early and start working. Oh yes, I had big plans. I was going to be a serious career-driven lady thankyouverymuch.

I don’t regret working hard in college and I’m glad I got some experience under my belt while I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. But when I look back, I do wish I had recognized and appreciated the value of just learning. Four years of straight up learning! That sounds like a gift to me now.

The good news is, we’re never done learning. We keep learning every single day. And guys? Learning is really freakin’ cool. Call me a huge nerd, I’ll wear that badge proudly. If you look at anyone who’s killing it at life, you’ll notice a trend. They’re always learning and growing in one way or another.

Why’s it so important to exercise these brain muscles of ours? ‘Cause knowledge is power, baby. The more we learn, the more we have to work with. The more we learn, the more we can apply to ourselves and our own lives. We acquire new skills, thoughts and methodologies, and grow confident in our abilities, which can help us achieve more and get the most out of life. We start to realize we can do anything we want if we just decide to.

While we can’t all haul it back to campus, there are so many things we can do exercise our minds. I’m not here to tell you what to learn or what to accomplish, that’s up to you. What I can offer is a few go-to tools for learning and working that pretty little brain of yours:

1. Books. Read, read, read. Read everything you can get your hands on. Fiction, non fiction, whatever you fancy. You can check out some current faves here, and while we’re on the subject, The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin a great one to start with. It’ll change the way you approach things that are new.

2. Documentaries. If books aren’t for you, how about documentaries? Netflix is loaded with good ones, ranging in topics from cooking to business to psychology to travel. I love working through the TED Talks: Life Hacks or the Inside [insert company/person/industry here] series.

3. Podcasts. Oh man, I’ve proclaimed my love for podcasts around here, right? Right. I think it’s incredible that we have free, instant access to experts in so many fields, and many of them are just brilliantly produced. You can find great ones on EVERY subject, but a few favorites of mine for learning and personal development include TED Radio Hour, This American Life, StartUp, The Tim Ferriss Show, Invisibilia, and The Nerdist.

4. Taking classes. They aren’t just for the college kiddos! Online learning has never been easier. Check out CreativeLive, General Assembly (which also has live classes in NYC) or even YouTube. There are also good options at local libraries, museums, gyms and coffee shops if you’re looking for live, in-person action. If you’re local to NYC, Brooklyn Brainery is awesome.

5. Talking & traveling. That’s right, the ancient art of having a conversation! Remember that? Something that really bums me out is when I’m hanging with a group of friends and all of sudden everybody ends up on their phones. I lumped this in with traveling, because I believe conversation with people from other cultures is not only the most interesting way to learn new things, but probably the most fun too. Whether it’s with people we know or complete strangers, we can learn so much by talking to each other. Rolf Potts makes the case for traveling (and learning about ourselves) far better than I can in his book, Vagabonding.

Do you have a preferred method of exercising your brain muscle? What’s something you want to learn? I’d love to hear from you below in the comments!

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6 Reasons You’re Tired All the Time http://www.croptopsandkale.com/6-reasons-youre-tired-all-the-time/ http://www.croptopsandkale.com/6-reasons-youre-tired-all-the-time/#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2015 17:33:42 +0000 http://www.croptopsandkale.com/?p=3557 Hey gang. Long time no talk, I know. My bad! You may remember last year, when I tried to use moving as an excuse for being so MIA around here. Well, shit. I’m about to do it again. Because, yep.… Continue Reading

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tiredallthetime

Hey gang. Long time no talk, I know. My bad! You may remember last year, when I tried to use moving as an excuse for being so MIA around here.

Well, shit. I’m about to do it again.

Because, yep. I moved. Again. Apparently it’s a favorite pastime of mine.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, but Lucy, my roommate and I are settling into our new pad in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Despite a few hiccups (cough, our movers showed up four hours late, cough), and a temporary sauna-like situation sans air conditioning, things are looking good.

I’m also feeling good. That’s new – feeling good during transition.

Last year around this time I was incredibly stressed, and the result was a constant state of exhaustion, so I was determined to do it differently – better – this time.

I’m taking care of myself. Working out in the morning, saying no to things I don’t want to do (and not feeling guilty about it), eating well with a side of nightly vino.

I didn’t buy a ton of new shit. I spent enough time at IKEA last year to hold me over for about 15 years. #minimalism4lyfe

I also took care of things right away. Oh man you guys, this is big for me. Last year I dragged everything out: nailing down Lucy’s daycare situation (aka me at my desk all day thinking about how sad and lonely she must be), organizing my room, hanging art, changing my address, etc. etc. etc.

I was thinking about it all this morning, and realized that while these seem like things that are specific to a move, they actually aren’t at all. These (plus a few others) are habits we can get into everyday to feel better and have more energy.

Next time you’re feeling exhausted and not exactly sure why, ask yourself a few questions. If you answer “no” to any of these, you can nail down why it is you’re tired all the time, and how to adjust.

1. Are you sleeping well?

This is a biggie. Aim for 7-8 uninterrupted hours (or however many you need), in comfortable conditions. Try shutting off any technology an hour before bed. Trading the TV for a book can make a big difference.

2. Are you exercising regularly?

It can be reeeeal tough to get a workout in when you’re tired, and it can be really easy to blame moving for not exercising (I haven’t joined a gym yet, I’m too busy, etc.). While you shouldn’t compromise sleep, fitting in 30 minutes can actually help you feel more energized.

3. Are you saying “no” to things that drain you?

We’ve talked about the importance of saying “no” and why it matters for your well-being, but this doesn’t exclusively apply to activities or events. This could also include things that are mentally draining, like toxic relationships (is every conversation tiresome?) or stressful work situations (are you always working weekends?).

4. Are you hydrating?

This one is often overlooked. Not only does the amount of water we drink affect our energy levels (aim for more than you think you need), but the amount of other stuff we drink does, too. I love my coffee, but I know when I have more than one or two cups a day, it affects my shut-eye. Too much caffeine can lead to a massive crash when you’re already tired. If you feel reliant on it, try going one week with a cup less than your regular amount, and then another week with another cup less. See how it affects your sleep, and stick to that intake no matter how tired you feel.

5. Are you eating well?

I know … duh. But you’d be surprised at how much a lack of sleep affects our eating habits. That means, when you’re tired you are prone to eating poorly, which leads to a vicious cycle since eating poorly affects the ability to sleep well. Bottom line? Cut back on sugar as much possible. If you’re really struggling, eliminating gluten can help with energy, and of course, our old pal alcohol plays a major role here. The more you drink, the less energy you’ll have (…the next day that is. You’ll be just fine powering through that karaoke duet.)

6. Is your home clean and clutter-free?

This may have a bigger effect than you anticipate. If any space you live in, work in, or spend time in is cluttered, it can really drain your energy, no matter how Type A or B you lean (and that’s coming from a serious B-er). It’s a quick fix that’s majorly worth it: clear out all the crap.

Do you have any habits or tips for increasing energy? Share ’em below!

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Dealing With Anxiety and Fear http://www.croptopsandkale.com/dealingwithanxiety/ http://www.croptopsandkale.com/dealingwithanxiety/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 17:56:33 +0000 http://www.croptopsandkale.com/?p=3495 I’ve been thinking a lot about fear lately, as the departure date for our three-month, cross-country road trip draws near. Because well, I’m afraid. Last week at a bar in NYC, some dude I’d never met before asked me if… Continue Reading

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Fear

I’ve been thinking a lot about fear lately, as the departure date for our three-month, cross-country road trip draws near. Because well, I’m afraid.

Last week at a bar in NYC, some dude I’d never met before asked me if I was going to bring protection. At first I thought he was talking about condoms and I was confused. I wanted to ask him what his deal was, but then I realized he was talking about a gun.

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if we were bringing a gun, I’d have like, six dollars.

Now listen, I don’t own ‘a’ gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate…

Why would I need a gun? Stop it. You’re giving me anxiety.

My mom’s boyfriend gave me some bear spray. That stuff seems legit. Says it can take out a bear at 30 feet! 30 feet! A bear! I should be good, right? That’s what I thought but, some people don’t seem to agree.

Wait do people really have guns? Jesus.

More than one person has flat out told me that I should be scared too, as if it’s never occurred to me before.

Um, no shit. Thanks. Have we met? Of course I’m scared. Do you want me to list off everything that I am actually, physically afraid of? How much time do you have?

We can start with my legitimate fear of the dark at the age of 32. I don’t know how many times I have to say it but, I’m really not joking. JB bought me a night light alarm clock so that we don’t have to sleep with the bathroom light on anymore. Didn’t work. We still do. Now there’s just a night light on too.

Oh and I just read that New Yorker story about “the big one” hitting the West Coast sometime soon. Yeah, apparently we’re 215 years into a 243 year cycle of epic earthquakes and any day now, boom. Something else to trigger my anxiety, now I don’t even want to go to Seattle.

Regarding our specific trip though, I’m mostly scared of rattlesnakes. I just read Wild. By the way, you couldn’t pay me enough to do what that chick did. Walk around in the woods for months on end all by myself. Sleeping in a tent. In the dark. Alone. Hell no.

I’m also scared of bears. We saw one at my mom’s house just the other night. It was kind of cool but, also very scary.

And let’s see oh yes, your occasional, run-of-the-mill, serial killer just lurking about on open stretches of road in the middle of nowhere waiting for our truck to break down. That’s how most murder movies start, right? In the woods … with a car breaking down … murder.

Come to think of it, we definitely should not have sex on this trip either. Everyone knows that the people who have sex in murder movies are the absolute first to get themselves chopped up, especially the chicks with big boobs. Oh no … You guys … I have huge boobs.

See what I mean? This is legitimately how my mind works if I let it run amok.

JB on the other hand, seems to be scared of very little. Not of the dark. Or bears. Or rattlesnakes. Or even serial killers. He keeps talking about “chances” and “the likelihood” and “percentages of people who actually get chopped up by serial killers”.

Actually, he is scared of being tickled. In fact, the guy is terrified of it. Really doesn’t like that at all.

The point is that my world is inhabited by a decent amount of fear.

And honestly, if something were to happen to JB out there in the wilderness of say, Alberta, I would be screwed. Before I met him, my personal definition of “outdoorsy” was sipping Sauvignon Blanc on the beach. I do have a right to be scared.

All of this being said though, fear is a actually big motivator for me. I’d really, really like to cease being such a giant pansy and I believe that taking action is how to do that.

Taking action in the face of fear is how we overcome it. The more we do it, the easier it becomes and the richer and fuller our life experience can be.

The bottom line is that I’m scared of a lot more in life than I need to be, as I think most of us are. Most of the fear we face is inside of our own minds.

As this trip approaches, fear is rearing its ugly head big time. I am beyond excited but, that excitement comes with a side of anxiety.

It mostly consists of shortness of breath, elevated heart rate, clammy hands and feeling like my throat might close. There are moments when I wonder if I’m making a giant life mistake and want to crawl under my desk and breathe in and out of a paper bag.

As the date comes closer, these moments have become more intense and more frequent but, being the well-trained self-help junkie that I am, I get it. I know what’s going on here.

It’s called a comfort zone breach and I’m steadily approaching it.

My ego is telling me to run along and freak out, chop, chop, go back to where I’m safe with dental insurance and the ecology of my life is not being changed or expanded in any way.

But after much experience and observation, I’m aware that these moments are going to come and then they’re going to go. The only thing to do is press on because, life is about feeling the fear and doing it anyway, amiright?

  • Going on that first date after your last break-up
  • Hitting the gym when you feel like you’re too fat and everyone will make fun of you
  • Making the phone call you’re dreading
  • Taking the chance
  • Asking him out
  • Quitting the job

Whatever your version of this road trip is in your own life right now.

If we’re on this road of growth, expansion and happiness, we know that any experience worth having is generally on the other side of the clammy hands and racing heart. It’s always on the other side of fear.

So, we have two choices. We can either shrink back and stay where we are or, we can feel the fear and do it anyway.

In my experience, most of the fears are unfounded anyway. In my experience, it’s always best to feel it and do it anyway. Ya know?

Here are some great tools to help you move past your own fear, if you’re struggling with it.

Okay. Here we go. I really hope I don’t get chopped up.

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Is ‘The Secret’ A Bunch of Bullshit? http://www.croptopsandkale.com/is-the-secret-a-bunch-of-bullshit/ http://www.croptopsandkale.com/is-the-secret-a-bunch-of-bullshit/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 20:32:34 +0000 http://www.croptopsandkale.com/?p=3443 My friend Blair stood up at my rehearsal dinner and told everyone that we became close when we first bonded over a book called The Secret. Lots of eyes rolled in the room at that moment. I’m sure of it.… Continue Reading

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My friend Blair stood up at my rehearsal dinner and told everyone that we became close when we first bonded over a book called The Secret. Lots of eyes rolled in the room at that moment. I’m sure of it. I could feel it. I was quasi-embarrased but, I also firmly believe in The Law of Attraction so … as my co-worker Jen would say, “go effya’selves”.

I think most people equate that book, or the better known movie, with the bullshit idea that you can think your way into owning a Lamborghini, living in a mansion or swimming around in a pool full of gold like Donald Duck. Not true. And not what the author is actually saying.

I also think a lot of people were offended by the suggestion that one could think their way out of cancer. Also not true. I don’t agree with that at all. And, like all self-help books, I think it’s best to take what works and leave the rest.

Aside from those two, I think there are a lot of misconceptions about the true lesson in it, though, which is: ask, believe and receive what you want from the Universe with authentic gratitude.

The reason I love the book so much, is because it introduced me to the idea that the way you think dictates your experience in life. If you have an abundance mindset and expect good things, most of the time you will experience abundance and good things. If you come from a place of fear, worry, scarcity and disbelief, you will experience those things instead.

I firmly believe this. Our entire reality and experience in life depends on how we perceive our circumstances.

It’s the Law of Attraction and pretty much every, single self-help, personal development and spiritual text I’ve ever read has repeated this message in so many words. Ask, believe and receive. It’s that simple. What makes it difficult is cultivating that authentic gratitude and truly surrendering to faithful expectancy.

We’re taught to worry. We’re not taught to relax and have faith.

So, let’s discuss what The Secret is actually teaching, shall we? I’ll use an example of my own ‘manifesting’ in life. I use the term ‘manifesting’ while slightly wincing. I’ve tried that phrase on a few times, and it’s still a little short in the sleeve, tight in the crotch, a bit ill-fitting just yet but, I’ll go with it here.

Ask. 

Ask means that we clearly articulate to the Universe what it is that we want. We focus on it. We set a conscious intention that we want whatever it is that we want.

I’ll use one of the many examples from my own life. I wanted to quit my job and attend a month-long Yoga teacher training (not this job, the last one I quit). I wasn’t sure exactly how I would do it or pay for it but, I knew that was what I wanted.

So that is exactly what I asked for. I said “I’d like to quit my job and go to Yoga teacher training in June, please. Thank you.”

Believe.

Believe means to honestly believe that the Universe is conspiring in your favor. That the stars are realigning to give you want you want. We have to have ambition and expectancy. We have to believe that not only is it possible but, it’s a sure thing.

So, after asking, I did a little experiment. Every day on my commute to work for the month before I wanted to quit my job, I pictured myself going to Yoga teacher training without any stress because the Universe had delivered the extra money that I needed to go. I cultivated a big ass smile on my face and a swell of gratitude in my chest as I envisioned randomly coming into a bunch of money. I kept saying things to myself like “See, the Universe provides!” “Life is so easy!” “I’m so lucky and thankful.” Just for shits, I mean, why not right? Yolo.

I decided I was just going to expect it and be pumped about it before it even happened. I literally had nothing to lose. I was going to go to teacher training somehow, it would just be a whole lot easier if I had some extra money. I decided that I was not going to worry about how it happened but just be thankful, as if it already had.

Receive.

This last step can be the hardest part. You just have to relax and let the Universe do its job.

Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t do anything at all but, it means you operate under the faithful assumption that what you want is happening, that the Universe is conspiring in your favor, that it will take care of the how, you just do what you think is right to move yourself forward and know that it’s all coming together.

In the Yoga teacher training case, I bought my new Yoga mat and signed up for the course. I went ahead and gave my notice at work. I told friends and family about my plan. I did not transfer any money from my savings into my checking because I came to fully expect a windfall.

The result….

Wouldn’t you know it, a couple of days before I owed the final balance, while walking to work, I got an email from my accountant. I had assumed he would tell me how much money I owed for taxes because I’d worked for myself the previous year and hadn’t paid a dime. Instead, he informed me that between the New York State Government and the Federal Government, I would be receiving a refund.

Guess how much? $5,027.00.

Guess how much teacher training and living expenses for the month of June cost? $5,000.00

I shit you not, friend. And no, I’m not complaining about the extra $27.00.

Coincidence? Sure, maybe. If you choose to believe it.

But it’s a hell of a lot more fun to think of it as my having co-conspired with the Universe, that I attracted it to myself consciously by asking, believing and receiving.

And guess what? It’s my life and my perception so…

I do what I want

I’ll also say that I believe ‘coincidence’ is a misunderstood phrase. I mean, who do you think is behind ‘coincidences’ in the first place? The big, bad Uni, in my humble opinion.

There are countless other examples in my life where this same process worked as well, from sports to relationships, to apartments to parking spaces. To even just last week when I decided I wanted to be a professional writer and the very next day I got an email from someone who wanted to discuss my potentially writing for them.

No, it has not worked every single time I’ve wanted something but, I’ve noticed that the times when I could honestly say that I got extremely clear about what I wanted, and then cultivated a sense of true expectancy and gratitude, that it has.

It makes me wonder how different life would be if I practiced this more often, instead of just freaking out and worrying. Maybe I could become a real-life, manifesting, miracle worker, like our girl Gabby B. Now, wouldn’t that be something…

What do you think? Have you read The Secret? Quackery or the dumbfounding wisdom of the ages?

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Black Bean & Sweet Potato Enchiladas from The Purple Carrot http://www.croptopsandkale.com/black-bean-sweet-potato-enchiladas-from-the-purple-carrot/ http://www.croptopsandkale.com/black-bean-sweet-potato-enchiladas-from-the-purple-carrot/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 02:36:39 +0000 http://www.croptopsandkale.com/?p=3426 Raise your hand if you went a little hard on the black + blue burgers this weekend. Yeah … same. No biggie, friends. Time to bounce back. If you’re a regular around these parts, you know we’re not big fans of… Continue Reading

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Raise your hand if you went a little hard on the black + blue burgers this weekend.

Yeah … same.

No biggie, friends. Time to bounce back. If you’re a regular around these parts, you know we’re not big fans of cleansing in the stop-eating-solid-food kind of way, but what we do respect, is a good food-based detox to reset the digestive system.

You know what’s even better than a detox? One that comes in the form of ready-to-cook, plant-based ingredients. That’s right, ready to cook. Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it? Enter: The Purple Carrot.

Here’s why this organic meal delivery service is awesome: you get to try fun new recipes, made with delicious, fresh ingredients, and they’re all portioned out! That means no thinking, just cooking. All the meals are vegan and made without GMOs or processed food (hello, detox).

I am a major creature of habit when it comes to cooking at home, and while I love trying new recipes when I have the time to, there are always a few things on repeat (ahem, eggs, greens, sweet potato and avocado). I hate, hate, hate buying new ingredients for one recipe just to watch them go to waste, which happens more often than not during busy weeks. So, when the kind folks at TPC offered to send over a few meals that were pre-measured and came with easy-to-follow recipe cards, I couldn’t give them my address fast enough.

All I had to do was sign up, select a delivery date, choose from two out of four meals, and a few days later, a refrigerated box arrived at my doorstep. I opted for Black Bean & Sweet Potato Enchiladas, which I’m going to show you how to make in just a minute, and Cashew-Spinach Pesto Linguine with Burst Tomatoes & Mushrooms. Bonus: you also get ingredients for a healthy snack recipe to last all week long! My order came with the cutest little Cinnamon Apple Energy Bites and oh man guys, these were good. TPC delivers Tuesday-Saturday and ships throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.

Okay, onto the enchiladas – but first: good news. All Crop Tops & Kale readers can get 50% off on their first order! All you have to do is enter the code “CTK” when you sign up. The offer expires on July 30, so hop to it!

This meal was ahhhhh-mazing. Really filling and flavorful, and yup, totally plant-based. I made them for dinner one night and had leftovers for a few days. That’s just the best, isn’t it?

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Enchiladas

Makes 8 enchiladas, prep/cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

2 large sweet potatoes

3 cloves of garlic

1 jalapeño pepper

1 can black beans

1 can diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon of chili powder

1/2 tsp oregano

2 cups of fresh salsa (1 container of Nola’s Salsa Fresca was included – bomb!)

8 whole wheat tortillas

2 tablespoons olive pol, used in two steps

salt and pepper to taste

Method

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Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse and dry the produce. Chop the sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss them with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Lay the potatoes flat on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

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While sweet potatoes are roasting, wash and dry all produce. Mince the garlic. Remove seeds and mine the jalapeño pepper, discarding the stem. Drain and rinse the beans. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skilled over medium heat. Add the garlic and jalapeño, using as much or as little jalapeño as you like, depending on your affinity for spice. Stir and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the beans, diced tomatoes and their juices and oregano and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the roasted sweet potatoes and summer for five minutes. Set aside.

Lightly oil a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with another tablespoon of oil. Spread a thin layer of salsa over the bottom of the dish and set aside.

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Place a tortilla on a flat work surface. Spoon a portion of the sweet potato mixture down the center of the tortilla and roll it up. Place the filled tortilla in the baking dish, seam side down, and repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling mixture.

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Spoon any remaining mixture and any extra salsa on top of the tortillas. Cover the dish aluminum foil and bake in you 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. I had some avocado to use up, so I tossed a few slices over the tortillas when they came out of the oven. Serve hot and enjoy!

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Want five simple steps to feeling really good? Download our free Feel Good Formula.

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Fourth of July Recipe Roundup http://www.croptopsandkale.com/fourth-of-july-recipe-roundup/ http://www.croptopsandkale.com/fourth-of-july-recipe-roundup/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 00:23:47 +0000 http://www.croptopsandkale.com/?p=3418 The Fourth of July is just the best. It usually involves sunshine (knock on wood) and some body of water or another. A good excuse for a striped crop top, perhaps? Oh man, the food can be tough though. Chips, dips, hot… Continue Reading

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via Gimme Some Oven

The Fourth of July is just the best. It usually involves sunshine (knock on wood) and some body of water or another. A good excuse for a striped crop top, perhaps?

Oh man, the food can be tough though. Chips, dips, hot dogs, and lotsa beer.

I’m not saying you should go crazy with the restrictions this weekend, that’s not our style. But most parties or picnics require a potluck-style dish, and guess what? That’s good news. That means you get to control it! That means you can eat your hot dog with a side of spiralized vegetables.

Instead of stopping on the way to your BBQ for a box of star-spangled cookies, why not bring a fun creation of your own? Here are a few easy, feel-good ideas we’re loving for the holiday weekend:

Sparkling Red, White and Blue Sangria, topped with the cutest apple stars from Gimme Some Oven.

A killer cheeseboard (with pickled strawberries and herb roasted cherry tomatoes… drooling) from Half Baked Harvest.

Just about alllllll of the recipes in this spiralized recipe roundup from Inspiralized.

Black + Blue burgers with a side of rosemary sweet potato fries from The Yellow Table. Because burgers, there must be.

Cherry-Strawberry Chia Seed Fool from Oh She Glows, made with seasonal cherries, ohhh yum. The recipe is intended for Canada Day, but it’ll work just fine.

Hope you all celebrate America’s Big 239th in style. Check back after the holiday weekend for a fun offer we’ve got for ya. I’m not sharing any spoilers, but it involves enchiladas and a 50 percent discount. Intrigued? Yeah, thought so.

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