Island Time | Block Island, RI

This past weekend, my fiancé and I visited Block Island to not only celebrate his birthday, but to bask in and appreciate our planet’s beauty, as his birthday falls on Earth Day.

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It was overcast and rainy when we arrived; this combined with the fact that it’s the island’s off-season made for an extremely low-key and quiet weekend.  We ferried the car over so we could explore the lesser traveled areas and admire the beach-front properties.

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We visited the bluffs and hiked down- and then up!- ten flights of stairs to the rocky beach.  We visited several other trails but didn’t do much walking on account of the rain.

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And you know I have to include at least one food pic!  We ate at one of the four restaurants open this time of year, the Mohegan Café & Brewery, for both lunch and dinner on Saturday (we were going to try another place for dinner, but they closed early, I’m assuming because there was no business).  Jeff ordered these delicious coconut shrimp- perfectly fried and crunchy and nicely complemented with a sweet Thai chili sauce.  The mixed drinks here were only okay, but we enjoyed all the food we ordered.

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We stayed overnight in the Honora Sullivan room at Dodge Cottage, a part of The 1661 Inn, the only place on the island that’s open year-round.  The room was clean and cozy and The Inn offered a delicious buffet breakfast (which was included in the cost of the stay) with eggs, pancakes, ham, baked goods and mimosas.  The staff was friendly and accommodating- we would definitely stay here again!

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Sunday ended up being a beautiful spring day.  We walked the beach to the North Lighthouse, and of course got some nice pictures along the way.

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Jeff and I have been to BI before during it’s peak tourist-season, but traveling here when everything’s quiet is a totally different experience.  It was the perfect way to celebrate love, life and the beauty that Earth grants us.

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Learning Not to Compare

Up until recently, I was an avid follower of Instagram-famous folk such as Iskra Lawrence, a woman with large hips and a flat tummy whose body-positive movement has gained her millions of followers.  She posts pictures of herself working out at the gym or wearing a bra and panties while eating a slice of pizza to encourage her followers not to restrict their diets and to promote a balanced lifestyle.

But here’s the thing: I exercise and eat pizza just like she does, but I do not look like her.  While I was drawn to her because of her curves and I felt I could relate, my stomach has never been flat and may never be flat.  But I would scroll through her Insta feed in an attempt to mimic her lifestyle and would only find myself discouraged and disappointed.

The truth is, Iskra is a model first and foremost.  She lives by parameters that are just not attainable for me.  Her body holds weight differently than mine, which is something that was determined at birth.  No matter how much I will myself to look like her, I never will.  Everything she eats, does and lives by is different from my own lifestyle, so why would I believe I could ever look like her?  I even see my friends and peers moving up in the world and getting healthier and I compare my own live to theirs and then feel saddened by the fact that I am not where they are.

LearningNottoCompareWhat I try to remember is that we are born to be different.  Every human’s thoughts and ideas- every human’s life– is different.  This is what has caused our society to grow and progress over time.  Imagine if we celebrated the differences in our bodies like we do our ideologies.  Each of us has experienced different things and has struggled through various situations to get to where we are.  Our lifestyles are all vastly different and so our bodies should all be equally as different.

Nobody wins when we compare ourselves to others; it only distracts us from our own journey.  No amount of progress that we make in our own lives will ever be enough if we continue to compare our individual journeys to those of our peers.  It is so important to discover what the parameters are for your life and to live by those.  Turning to others for inspiration may seem like a positive motivator but in many cases it only veers us away from our own path.

Focus on what you can do to better yourself instead of what you can do to be more like this person or that person.  Doing so allows you to recognize your own successes and that makes your life so much sweeter.

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My Weight, Disordered Eating & Where I am Now

I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember.  My feelings toward my body and food and the relationship between the two have always been skewed.  When I was in grade school, I was bullied for being overweight.  I couldn’t wear the clothes my friends were wearing because I couldn’t fit into them.  When I was maybe 11 or 12, my behavior with food changed; this was about when I started dieting.

I remember being on the South Beach Diet and Weight Watchers; there may have been other programs that I tried, but I can’t recall them.  The South Beach Diet was the worst- I ate bland, unappealing food and I don’t remember seeing much in the way of results.  I look back on Weight Watchers more fondly, because when I first started this program I lost 50 pounds.  Now that I’m able to look back on this time in my life with fresh eyes, I believe this is when my food addiction festered.

I treated food much like an alcoholic would treat their vice.  I would sneak food in the middle of the night so that no one would see me.  I would lie to my friends about what I was eating because I was embarrassed to admit the foods that I liked were “bad.”  I didn’t like to eat in front of others because I was so self-conscious.  Weight Watchers teaches accountability, and one of the tricks to the program is to write down everything that you eat.  At the time, I was so embarrassed by what I was eating that I would eat in private so no one would see me, and I would then pretend that it didn’t happen.  This went on for years, and I still struggle with some of these behaviors today.

As I got older, I developed breasts and thighs and started to gain back the weight I had lost in grade school.  I also stopped consciously watching what I was eating so I kept gaining.  Being a high schooler, my weight and my health weren’t a priority.  But people in my life would make off-hand comments about my weight.  I even had a boyfriend at the time whose friends mocked me for “exceeding his weight limit.”  I pretended that I didn’t notice these things or that they didn’t bother me.  This is when I started purging.

This period in my life didn’t last long; I at least had the mind to realize that purging wasn’t healthy and it wasn’t going to give me the results I wanted.  When I graduated high school, I kind of forgot about my weight.  I knew I was overweight, but I had a boyfriend who paid me attention so I wasn’t really thinking about it.  Doctors would voice their concern towards the correlation between my age and my weight but, again, it wasn’t a priority so I shrugged it off.

My behavior with food was still reminiscent of an addiction, but it truly became more of a coping mechanism.  During any period of stress, moment of anger or sadness or even happiness, I would either drown my sorrows in a bag of chips or reward myself with a chocolate bar (or four).  This behavior is still one I’m battling today.

In 2015, I began schooling to become a massage therapist.  Throughout the course of the program, I realized how important mind, body and soul wellness is.  It wasn’t until I graduated that I finally started getting serious about my health.  I started to incorporate exercise into my routine, but it was sporadic- one week I’d exercise six times, then nothing for 3 weeks.  When I moved out of my parents’ house, I started eating far less junk food.  I began introducing vegetables into my diet and drinking more water.  I felt better overall, but I was still overweight.  In late November 2016, I started Weight Watchers, again, and I’m still on the program now.

As I’m typing this, I’ve lost 31.6 pounds so far.  Four months ago I was the heaviest I’ve ever been at 221.2 pounds.  As I’ve been on this health journey, I’ve learned a lot and I’m still learning- not just about wellness, but about myself.sidebysidenovmar2sidebysidenovmar

The media and internet is so flooded with information about what’s “good” and “bad” for us, visuals about what we should look like and diet plans that guarantee you’ll lose 10 pounds in the first week or your money back!  I want to share my journey here so that perhaps someone will see a realistic, holistic and intuitive approach to bodily health and mind and soul wellness.  This isn’t a quick fix.  This isn’t a “Biggest Loser” success story.

This is me: a real woman making real changes to promote a balanced life.  It can be ugly, it can be raw, but I want to show that it can be done and it is so worth it!

Welcome to my journey.

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Spinach & Mushroom Alfredo (Vegan) | Kelsey’s Cookbook

Now that Fall is here, the season for warm, indulgent foods is upon us.  I mean, I want those foods year-round, but doesn’t it feel more acceptable once the temp starts to drop?

I love a good cheesy alfredo, but I don’t love the heavy, bloated feeling I get after I eat such a dish.  So yesterday I threw this together as a lighter, healthier yet equally delicious alternative!

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As I’ve been experimenting more in the kitchen and, in turn, learning more, I’ve grown to love foods that a year or two ago I never would have touched!  This has given me so much more confidence in the kitchen and has allowed me to come up with my own recipes.  Amidst a lot of failures there’s bound to be a few successes, and this spinach & mushroom alfredo is one of them!

This healthy yet indulgent dish does not contain any dairy which often sits so heavy in the tummy.  The spinach and mushrooms give this dish its creamy texture, AND they’re packed with nutritional value!  While spinach is high in iron and beneficial vitamins, mushrooms are high in protein and selenium, an essential nutrient found most often in animal-proteins, so that makes mushrooms ideal for vegetarians or for those who are vegan.  Selenium strengthens bone, hair, nails and teeth and it’s antioxidant properties strengthen the immune system* (which is important around flu season)!

This alfredo also contains nutritional yeast, which, as you may be able to tell from it’s name, has a high nutritional value.  In addition to also containing selenium, nutritional yeast, or nooch, is full of essential B vitamins, folic acid, zinc and protein.**  This is all well and good, but I love this stuff because it gives everything a rich, cheesy, savory flavor and it just enhances whatever you put it in.  You can find it at your local health food store.

If the nutritional value of this dish doesn’t hook you, it’s flavor will!  You won’t even miss the heavy cream or cheese- I promise!  I can’t say enough good things about this dish; try it for yourself and taste exactly what I’m talking about!


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Serves: 1
Ingredients

  • 3 oz (dry) pasta of choice
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced (about 1 large clove)
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • dried parsley, for garnish (optional)
  • scallions, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Start by cooking your pasta (don’t forget to salt the water!).  Cook the pasta until it’s about 3/4 of the way done; for example, if the instructions say to cook for 11 minutes, only cook it for 8 minutes.  When it’s done, DO NOT drain the pasta because we will be using the pasta water!
  • While the pasta is cooking, start the sauce by adding the olive oil and garlic to a large pan on medium heat.  Sauté until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and spinach and sauté until the spinach is completely wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper and give the mixture a final stir.
  • Pour the spinach mixture into a blender and add the nutritional yeast and about 1/4 cup of the pasta water.  Blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Pour your spinach alfredo sauce back into the pan and bring to a light simmer.  Add the partially cooked pasta to the sauce and add about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water.  Let the sauce and pasta simmer and continue to add more reserved pasta water, if needed, until the pasta is cooked to your liking and the sauce has reached desired consistency.
  • When pasta is done, add basil and oregano and stir to combine.  If desired, before serving sprinkle with parsley and add scallions.

Thanks for reading!  If you make this recipe, tag me on Instagram or Twitter @kelseyathome.  Until next time!  Xx

Love & light,
Kelsey


*Source: Health Benefits of Mushrooms
**Source: What the Heck is Nutritional Yeast?

Chocolate Cake Recipe (Vegan) | Kelsey’s Cookbook

I’m back!  I know that it’s been a while, but I am committed to posting regularly again.  I missed writing and sharing things here on the blog so I am excited to get back into it- and what better way to kick things off than with a recipe for something near and dear to my heart: chocolate cake!

But this isn’t just any ol’ cake recipe: it’s vegan, meaning there’s no animal by-products, but that doesn’t mean it skimps on flavor!  Many people around the world are making the switch to veganism, or at least reducing their animal product intake.  According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Americans eat, on average, 270 pounds of meat per year- which is more than double the USDA recommended maximum protein consumption of 125 pounds per year (Thug Kitchen).

Because we are so focused on getting our protein in, we often neglect the other essentials our bodies need; such as fruit, veggies and whole grains.  A research study conducted at the University of Southern California found that “people with diets rich in animal proteins were four times more likely than those who ate less of it to die of cancer (Thug Kitchen).”

I, personally, am not vegan nor am I vegetarian.  However, I sometimes eat meals that happen to be vegan or, at least, vegetarian.  But I also love a good grilled NY Strip steak or a creamy Alfredo sauce loaded with cheese (and I look forward to sharing a wide variety of these recipes with you here).  Regardless of what dietary title you give yourself, I think we should all be striving for a balanced diet.  Similarly to experimenting with new recipes, finding the optimal balanced diet that works for you takes a lot of trial and error.  This is something that I’ll elaborate on in a future post- but today, we’re just gonna talk cake!

What this cake lacks in animal products it makes up for in flavor!  I was so impressed with the texture and moistness (is that a word?  I’m going with it!) of this cake.  It satisfies the sweet-tooth without compromising the waist-line (no butter!).

I topped this cake with a rich homemade dark chocolate ganache (NOT vegan) because, well, I watch a lot of Food Network and wanted to give it a go.  And so I chose to make a one layer cake so that it would be the perfect ratio of cake to ganache; but, of course, to make a traditional two layer cake, you’d just double the recipe!

I will provide the ganache recipe I used, but if you’d like to make a vegan frosting, check out this post on Healthy Holistic Living, which is also where I found the original recipe for this cake.

This is a long post already- I guess I’m just that excited to be back!  Enough chatter; let’s get into it!


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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, mashed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease and flour one 9-inch cake pan.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  • In another bowl, whisk together olive oil, avocado, water, white vinegar and vanilla until smooth.  Once combined, whisk in the sugar.
  • Pour wet olive oil mixture into the dry flour mixture and mix until well-combined and smooth.  Pour batter into cake pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  • Allow cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes.  Use a butter knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan and gently transfer cake to a plate or serving tray.  Wait an additional 15-20 minutes before adding ganache or frosting, or enjoy as-is!

 


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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp butter

Instructions

  • Heat the heavy cream in a small pot over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  In a separate, heat-safe mixing bowl, add the chocolate chips and butter.  Bring the heavy cream to a slight boil and remove it from the heat.  Pour heavy cream over chocolate chips and stir until both chocolate and butter have melted and the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  • Pour ganache over desired cake and set it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes or until the ganache has cooled.

Thanks for stopping by!  If you make this recipe at home, tag me @kelseyathome on Instagram and Twitter.  Until next time!  Xx

Love & light,
Kelsey


Sources
Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook. N.p.: Rodale, 2014. Print.