Saturday Adventure Day

Way back in May, Tiffany and I started looking at calendars to pick a date for our planned “Adventure Day.”  With 2014 being the busiest summer ever, the first weekend where we both had a free day open wasn’t until August 2.  That seemed so incredibly far away, but we wanted to make sure we got it on the calendar.

Within a blink of an eye (because that’s how fast this year has been flying by), August 2nd arrived and we jetted off!

First Stop:  A Quick Brain Damage

You’ve probably seen me post on Instagram about the infamous Brain Damage coffee drink at Dazbog Coffee.  Well, during our Adventure Day, I wanted to make sure I introduced Tiffany to its deliciousness.

Dazbog Brain Damage | No Thanks to Cake

What is this amazing drink??  It is pretty much the best frozen coffee drink on the planet… and you can only find it in Northern Colorado.  They use mocha, shots of espresso, and the BEST part… chocolate-covered espresso beans.  All blended to perfection!  I also love that they make it fresh – no mix! – and you can customize it to make it “your way” – for me, that’s sugar-free, non-fat.  Delish!

The verdict:  My Colorado BFF loved this drink as much as I do!  What a great way to caffeinate for a long car-ride!

Next Stop:  The Shambhala Mountain Center

Our travels took us further north… not to Wyoming, but to Red Feather Lakes, CO to the beautiful Shambhala Mountain Center.  It had been about 10 years since I had travelled to this area, so I was excited to get back.  The Shambhala center hosts spiritual retreats, meditation classes, and getaways.  People travel from all over to see this beautiful place… and soon you’ll know why.

It’s tucked away from the main path, and I always think it’s a sign that I’ve left civilization when the roads are no longer paved.

Shambhala Mountain Center | No Thanks to Cake

About 2 1/2 hours from Denver, we arrived at our destination parked our car and started our trek into the property.  On our way to a very sacred spot in the mountains, the 20 minute walk/hike was totally worth it… even in flip flops!

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

The main attraction here is The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya Which Liberates Upon Seeing.  And, it is a breathtaking site.  

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

It’s hard to believe this shrine is tucked away in the middle of the mountains.  What stands out most when you see it in person is the brightly colored features and the gold accents.  So unusual to see in this natural backdrop.

As you approach the stupa, you first see an alter of sorts where many have left items behinds.  Offerings, gifts… and the most random of items.  We got close enough to see the items, but you don’t dare touch any of them… they were all placed there with purpose.  Who am I to alter them?

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

 

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

As we approached the stupa, I got really excited.  From my previous trip, I remember the energy inside being amazing and I was excited to get inside – - to spend a little time in silence.  But, a few pics before we walked inside…

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

From the Shambhala Mountain Center Website:  Stupas are said to promote harmony, prosperity, longevity, good health and peace. They bring blessings to the environment in which they are built, to those who build them, and to those who visit and venerate them. In this way, stupas ensure that the living quality of the Buddhist teachings will always be available.

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

Taking off our shoes and leaving them outside, we entered the stupa to find two others seated inside and a few others exiting.  It was quiet and perfect inside, and keep in mind… this is the first thing you see when you walk in the door.

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

So majestic, yet so peaceful.

I found a seat and settled in to meditate for a few minutes.  I’m not a master meditator, by any means; however, my yoga practice has taught me how incredibly powerful breath can be… and I love to practice.

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

After about 10-15 minutes in silence, my eyes opened up, feeling refreshed and just happy.  There is something about this place, I tell ya… the energy is fantastic.  Before leaving the room, I spent some time looking around… noticing all the ornate details… and just soaking in that beautiful energy.

We left shortly after, stopping to watch a video along the way… and then deciding to simply take a selfie instead of sitting through the video.

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

The walk back was gorgeous… with lots of wildflowers and beauty along the way.

Colorado Wildflowers | No Thanks to Cake

The Great Stupa| No Thanks to Cake

Third Stop:  Refueling in Fort Collins

When we arrived at the car, we were officially STARVING.  We raced back to Ft. Collins to have lunch at Coopersmiths.  Ready to refuel, we each enjoyed the Coopers Pub burger with a side of cucumbers.  I love that you can get a side of veggies and ranch, instead of fatty fries or onion rings.  Genius!

The Great Stupa | No Thanks to Cake

After lunch, we headed over to O’Dells Brewery.  They have a beautiful tasting room, and this was officially my first experience “beer tasting” in Colorado.  I know… I live in a beer state, but I’d never been!

O'Dells | No Thanks to Cake

And… while the tap room was cute and the beer was cold, I think I’ll stick to wine tasting.  Just not a huge fan of beer, but I was glad to have experienced O’Dells just the same!

O'Dells | No Thanks to Cake

After our stop at O’Dells, we made our way back to Denver convinced that we need to schedule another fun adventure day like this again soon!

 

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Jenny Volumizing: Chopped Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

One of the great things about having a weight loss blog is that I get to hear from a lot of you!  Whether you are just getting started, on the Jenny Craig program, or just stopping by to say hello, your messages are ALWAYS appreciated!  Thank you so much for reading and for saying hello!

Every once in a while, I get a message from one of my Jenny friends with a new volumizing idea… and that’s exactly where the inspiration for today’s recipe came from!  Check out Lexie’s email below…

Email from Reader Lexie | No Thanks to Cake

I share her email, as it’s just another example of how inspiration goes BOTH WAYS!  Receiving a note like this is INCREDIBLY inspiring to me, and reminds me that this is not just my journey… we’re in this together!

So, thank you, Lexie, for saying hello, keeping this girl motivated, and giving me an amazing lunch to eat on Sunday, while staying fiercely on plan.  Check it out below…

Jenny Volumizing:  Chopped Buffalo Chicken Sandwich | No Thanks to Cake

I made a few variations to Lexie’s original recipe, but a few things remain the same:  you’ve got the spicy goodness of buffalo sauce, a little light ranch to cool it down, and a MUCH more filling version of the Jenny Craig Grilled Chicken Sandwich to enjoy!

Try my version or Lexie’s… either way, y’all are in for a treat!

Chopped Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Jenny Volumizing:  Chopped Buffalo Chicken Sandwich | No Thanks to Cake

1 package Jenny Craig Grilled Chicken Sandwich entree

1/4 cup shredded lettuce (I used butter lettuce)

2 tsp. light ranch

1 Tbsp. buffalo sauce (I used Buffalo Wild Wings Spicy Garlic flavor)

2 cherry tomatoes, sliced

salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Prepare the chicken per the package instructions in the microwave.  Defrost the bun for 20 seconds, between a layer of paper towels.

2.  Remove the chicken to a cutting board and finely dice.

Jenny Volumizing:  Chopped Buffalo Chicken Sandwich | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Place in a small bowl and toss with buffalo sauce.

Jenny Volumizing:  Chopped Buffalo Chicken Sandwich | No Thanks to Cake

4.  In another small bowl, combine the lettuce and ranch.  Add freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Jenny Volumizing:  Chopped Buffalo Chicken Sandwich | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Toast your bun on low in a toaster.

6.  Slice your tomatoes, and place them on your freshly toasted bun.  Top with salt and pepper, if desired.

Jenny Volumizing:  Chopped Buffalo Chicken Sandwich | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Carefully add your chicken with a spoon.  Note:  This will make a voluminous sandwich, so stack carefully!

Jenny Volumizing:  Chopped Buffalo Chicken Sandwich | No Thanks to Cake

8.  Add the lettuce mixture to the top of the bun.

Jenny Volumizing:  Chopped Buffalo Chicken Sandwich | No Thanks to Cake

9.  Build your sandwich and get ready to be wow’ed!  Note: I cut my sandwich into two pieces to make it easier to eat.  I also kept a napkin handy… which I totally needed!

Jenny Volumizing:  Chopped Buffalo Chicken Sandwich | No Thanks to Cake

Jenny Volumizing:  Chopped Buffalo Chicken Sandwich | No Thanks to Cake

 

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Avocado Green Goddess Dressing

Last week, I got a HUGE shipment of avocados from the California Avocado Commission.  24 avocados… all for me!!!

California Avocados | No Thanks to Cake

You might remember that I won 2nd place in an avocado recipe contest earlier this year for my Grilled Avocado Caprese salad creation.  My winnings included this beautiful box of avocados and a $150 gift card to Williams-Sonoma.  OMG!!  Thanks to my friends at the California Avocado Commission… such a cool experience to participate in this contest, and so exciting to win one of the prizes!! 

Now, there was NO WAY I was going to be able to eat all these pretty, pretty avocados.  So, I gave about half of them away to friends and coworkers, made a bunch of new recipes using avocados (stay tuned), and used a Foodsaver to prepare and freeze several of them.  My first time freezing them!  I hope this works!

Food Saver | No Thanks to Cake

After perusing Pinterest, I found this recipe, and I knew that it would be a great way to use my yummy green avocados while complementing the other veggies I planned on eating for the week.  I love the idea of using avocado is dressings and dips as a base.  It’s thick, creamy and rich… and full of all sorts of healthy nutrients to allow for guiltless dipping!

Avocado Green Goddess Dressing | No Thanks to Cake

And the FLAVOR… it just pops with fresh herby goodness!  I even plucked some fresh basil from my mini-herb garden / window box to include in the recipe. Such a treat to have fresh herbs on hand during the summer!

I enjoyed the dressing on salad, but my favorite way to eat it was as a dipping sauce for freshly steamed broccoli and oven roasted chicken.  So delish!  I’ll be making this again…

Green Goddess Dressing

Adapted from Home Cooking Memories

INGREDIENTS

Avocado Green Goddess Dressing | No Thanks to Cake

1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled

1 tsp. dried basil + a few leaves of fresh basil (if you have it available)

1 tsp. dried parsley

     1 tsp. minced garlic

3 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 cup water (may use less or more)

         Salt and pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Place all ingredients in the food processor. Process until very smooth, scraping down sides, if necessary.

Avocado Green Goddess Dressing | No Thanks to Cake

Avocado Green Goddess Dressing | No Thanks to Cake

2.  Season with salt & pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Avocado Green Goddess Dressing | No Thanks to Cake

Avocado Green Goddess Dressing | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Serve as a salad dressing, or as a dipping sauce to your favorite steamed veggies.

Avocado Green Goddess Dressing | No Thanks to Cake

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Yoga on the Rocks {and a Breakthrough}

July was quite a month for me.  I was movin’ and shakin’ all month long.  Non-stop.  Every day, there was something.  Every weekend, I over programmed myself.

While it was a wonderful month, I came back from San Diego…. EXHAUSTED.

Throughout the month of July, I was a little more open to dining out… to having a cupcake… and to skipping the gym, en lieu of working at night.  Seriously, I don’t even know how I wrote content for NTTC there was so much going on.  Thanks for hanging in there with me, folks…

And, when the end of July arrived, I felt as though I had been changed…. in many ways, for the better, but in other ways, I had slipped back into an uncomfortable place.

Uncomfortable in an eerily familiar way… uncomfortable in that way where I didn’t know if I could get myself back on track.  Truthfully, I was worried.  Very worried.   Not only had my eating habits slipped significantly, but I also hadn’t been to the gym regularly since… well… Fitbloggin.

For the past month in regard to healthy living, I’ve felt like I was on the edge of an avalanche… where the ground feels unsteady, as though it’s about to crumble.

I knew I had agreed to go to Yoga on the Rocks bright and early on Saturday morning.  My friends over at Core Power Yoga offered me free tickets to attend, and I even roped my friend Erin into joining me… but, did I really want to practice yoga?  Most definitely, no.  I was out of practice and had felt lethargic for the past week.

What I wanted to do was sleep… but I’d committed to going, so I set my alarm for what I like to call “the butt-crack of dawn” on Saturday morning.  I’ll let you in on a secret amongst us friends… I am so not a morning person. Not even close…

Saturday morning came quickly, and I dressed and headed to Red Rocks Amphiteater for the event.  I’ve talked about Red Rocks here before both for a concert and for Film on the Rocks, but I realize that not everyone is familiar with my amazing state… so I’ll give you a peek at its amazingness.

Film on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

It is one of the best venues in the country for live music.  Surrounded by gorgeous red rocks, the acoustics are phenomenal… and then, there’s that view too.  I’m guessing that not every state has this little gem.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

When we arrived, Erin and I checked in… grabbed our free Core Power mats and orange sunglasses and went to find a spot to practice.  I knew I was in for a treat when I saw my favorite concert venue filled with brightly colored mats and yogis practicing their favorite headstand poses throughout the amphitheater.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

As we set up our area, I was still hesitant about how I my personal practice would go.  Knowing that I’d be practicing on unforgiving cement, I layered the giveaway mat underneath my Affirmats mat for extra support… as if those the words staring back at me weren’t enough support.  I love this mat… and I love that these words stared back at me for the next 60 minutes.  I needed them, and I repeated them throughout the class.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Can we again pause at the magnitude of this venue??

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

As the class began, Amelia Earhart kicked the event off… what an incredible and beautiful story she has.  If you’re not familiar, she recently just flew around the world!

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

She also reported that she is a huge fan of yoga… and spoke about her practice.  The instructor, Inanna Jessop, took over shortly after and we got to work.

Inanna described the purpose of the class was to “ground down in order to rise up.”  How beautiful is that?  And, truthfully, I feel like that is exactly what happened to me during the next 60 minutes.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

We warmed up, and then completed the most beautiful sun salutations and balance poses.  We spent some time working the core (they don’t call it “Core Power Yoga” for nothing!), and as we were working our way into savasana, I had that moment… the “I’m practicing my beloved yoga at freakin’ Red Rocks” moment… and it was then that I realized things had begun to shift.

When our time in savasana ended and Sam Smith stopped singing (love him!), I wanted more time.  When we sealed our practice with a collective namaste, I almost didn’t want to say that beautiful word… because it meant it was over.

Erin and I packed up our stuff to leave, and it took me forever to roll up my mats.  In that moment, I thought I was just too relaxed and not focusing… but in reality, I didn’t want to leave.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Something else happened that was incredibly significant… I realized that my body and my mind was craving yoga.  My cells hadn’t forgotten how this practice serves them.  It remembered, even when I took a month off… it remembered.  And, it responded.

I was energized, poised, and for the first time in weeks… empowered and inspired.  I knew that I COULD again… and with that, I knew that I WOULD.  

And what would I or could I do?  Ever since, I’ve felt the possibilities to be limitless.

Yoga on the Rocks | No Thanks to Cake

Since then, I’ve had a laser focus on being grounded, fueling my body with healthy foods, and setting intention of what will come in upcoming days, weeks, months…

This journey that I’m on has lots of ebbs and flows.  I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t… but the recent pause scared me.  After that beautiful practice on Saturday morning, I don’t fear a thing.  I’ve got too much that I want in my life to worry about fears… and it appears that when I get lost, all I have to do is get back on my mat.

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Thank you to Core Power Yoga for providing Erin and I with complimentary passes to participate in Yoga on the Rocks.  I can’t wait to join you guys again next year!

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