Uniquely~Me

A Lifestylye Blog


Healthy. Easy. Delicious. That is exactly what this bowl is. This meal prep recipe is inspired by Love and Olive Oil's buddha bowl creation. My husband introduced and made many of these bowls for me this time last year when I was struggling to keep my head above the water working outside of the home at a nonprofit. Working while breastfeeding and pumping around the clock, raising an infant, lots of meetings all over town, community organizing, late nights grant writing and maintaining my relationships with the other people I love in my life really challenged and wore me down. Something as simple as having healthy food options that were affordable and grab-and-go style were so clutch for me.

Once the ingredients are prepped, they are easy to distribute to individual containers and stored in the fridge for a few days. I am actually enjoying one of my bowls right now as I write. This meal prep bowl is so well-rounded with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs. The flavor is amazing and refreshing. One of the special ingredients used in this recipe is black rice which is a fun unique varietal that provides additional Vitamin E to help with immune support in addition to skin and eye health. See Dr. Axe's article for more information on the benefits of black rice. More details and recipe are below!



Vinaigrette Ingredients


Recipe

Bowl- Makes about 4 bowls
2 cups chopped Dino Kale
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame 
12 ounces baked, chopped and cubed chicken breast (or protein of your choice)
1 English cucumber sliced into half moon crescents
1-2 avocados pitted and sliced
1 cup black forbidden rice
1 tbsp sesame seeds

Sesame- Sriracha Vinaigrette 
2 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sriracha (or more to taste)
1/4 cup avocado oil (or oil of your choice)


Preparation: Bring 1 and 1/2 cups of water to a boil and add black rice. Let cook for about 20 minutes until soft yet still firm. Cook edamame according to package instructions. While rice is cooking, mix all vinaigrette ingredients together well. The vinaigrette is the real source of flavor in this recipe. No extra salt is needed outside of what the vinaigrette provides.
       Some may prefer to massage the kale with oil or rice vinegar to tenderize it and make it easier to chew. I think Dino kale is quite nice and palatable as is and so I prefer not to do this; but it is an option and a nice idea. Portion cooked rice, kale, cooked edamame, cubed chicken, cucumbers and sliced avocado into individual bowls. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top for a nice aesthetic. Pour 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette atop of bowl when ready to eat and Enjoy!




Bon Apetit!








Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary and I am sure we can both agree that these past few months have brought so much healing. Our first wedding anniversary didn't go down quite as well and actually ended in a huge fight- the type that leaves you feeling just so defeated. This time last year we were both under major, major stress. Having Chaya so soon after getting married really impacted our bond and life was moving at what felt like a million miles an hour. I was working outside of the home as an 80% FTE and my husband was at home with Chaya. We both carried our own frustrations about that and I was so tired, sleep-deprived, overwhelmed, and felt like I was a chicken running around with its head cut off most of the time. We've experienced so much growth and a lot of that has been attributed to some of the habits I share below.


1) Asking: Can I Afford It? 
And I'm not just talking about finances here. I am talking about the stress, the negativity, and the responses and reactions we give to situations that upset us. Too many times I have responded with a reaction that has cost me a high price. Sometimes that price is a breakdown in the connection with my husband, a restless night of sleep, getting sick from being under so much stress, accidents and mistakes from being distracted by anger, anxiety, etc. I have been reading this really great book on Emotional Agility by Susan David and the point here is not to suppress our feelings and emotions but rather to respond externally or internally with a response that matches our value system; and to think of the cost vs the benefit that that response will give not only to the people in our lives, but also to ourselves and our own mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. I value connection, health, and peace. So I have been working really hard this past year to respond to situations that will be in alignment with those values. I fail many times, but I keep working at it. And just the commitment to being better in this area is already a response I am giving to a situation (poor emotional reactions) that aligns with my life's value system. I've decided that negativity is simply not in my budget anymore. I can't afford it.

2) Forgiveness 2.0 
Forgive, forgive, forgive. Forgiveness in marriage seems to take on a whole different level of strength and commitment. There are so many opportunities to be offended when you share your life so closely with someone. I've learned that being the first to say I'm sorry will always bless and benefit me just as much as it blesses and honors my husband. Maybe even more. I am not weak and my identity is not impacted when I apologize and forgive. When I am holding on to some resentment and blame, it never feels good to win. Instead there usually is this build-up of voltage that gets stronger and stronger until it feels like I'm going to blow. The act of forgiveness and apologizing first for any wrongdoings I may have contributed to the situation has really helped bring a tense moment from 100 all the way back down to 0 in a split second. It releases that voltage. It is disarming. And I need to do it more often.

3) Investing in Quality Time
Going beyond the date nights and planning extended periods of time together has been so important for us. This has been especially important with our little Chaya being in the mix. It can be so easy to overlook time together when distracted with caring for and raising her. Having fun trips planned ahead has helped give us some relief and something to look forward to when we're burned out and life is feeling a little busy. We don't always get the fancy hotels. We will AirBnb it or stay with a friend out of town. We're only just now getting better at doing this. 

4) Praying and Dreaming Together
There is something about dreaming together that connects us with our partners and puts a unified vision and mission on our purpose being married to one another. We've been seeing the beautiful and powerful destiny placed on what we get to accomplish together using both of our strengths, gifts and talents. We were brought together for a reason! And praying together regularly about that puts this excitement and hope in our lives and drives our thoughts and actions toward one another. Having a baby has really turned our world upside down and we are learning so much about each other in our new roles as parents.

5) Pursuing Learning and Growing Together
I highly encourage anyone and everyone to invest in regular therapy! And it doesn't always have to be when a problem comes up. We enjoy going when things are going well too. Zach and I can't always afford the therapy fees so we have had to get creative. We explore reading books together and most recently have gotten so much out of a weekly marriage class at a local church in the area. Many churches offer similar venues and it is such a great place to meet other couples, receive encouragement and know that we are not the only ones who have gone through certain situations that can feel isolating or discouraging. Many times, we learn just as much if not more simply by being around other couples who we admire and look up. Reaching out to other families and our community has enriched our lives beyond the cost and fees for therapy.

Tahoe Northstar Village on our Marriage Retreat

6) Being Each Other's Biggest Cheerleaders
Things have changed so much for me after getting married and having Chaya. Learning myself again as a woman and now a mother and wife has been a whirlwind. Being okay with that change and bringing my husband into the mix to support me as I step into my old and newfound strengths has been so healing in my postpartum journey. As a matter of fact, Zach has been my biggest cheerleader in encouraging me to get back to writing and sharing on here again. And I had to learn to do the same for Zach. We have pretty different jobs and it took me some time to accept and honor my husband for the work he does which is heavy in the sales department. For a while, there was a lot of pressure I put on Zach and it did not help at all. All it did was break down our connection and safety with one another. We both do so much better in our work when we root each other on- honoring each other for our hard work and faithfulness to our craft rather than micromanaging each others' success. And this is a big deal for entrepreneurs and those that are self-employed.

7) Celebrating (not just tolerating) Our Differences!
Many times those differences we once loved when we first started dating now drive us crazy in marriage. At a class we once attended, they shared the theory that the differences we see in a prospective spouse attract us because it complements weaknesses in our own person. And that over time we are subconsciously irritated by those differences because we are frustrated with ourselves for not being better in that particular area of their strength. Now that's pretty deep and not all differences are desirable or that deep. But it's something to reflect on. I'm sure many of us do not desire to be messy, OCD, forgetful, uptight, etc. But I have learned to celebrate Zach for all the ways he is different from me and it really changes the way I think about him, show him love, and hence react and respond to him. 
Tahoe Northstar Village on our Marriage Retreat

8) Prioritizing My Own Self-Care and Personal Development
This is probably the most important habit out of all the others. When I stopped expecting my husband to be the source of my happiness, I became happier and my joy was more deeply rooted. It kinda sounds counter-intuitive, but it is not up to my husband to be the ultimate source of my happiness. For me, self-care means making sure I spend meaningful time with God, getting enough sleep, hygiene, eating well, and spending time developing my interests/passions. When I am filled up in my own personal self-care, I can fully enjoy my husband to much deeper places of love and passion. Of course I share with him my needs in which I need his help fulfilling, but it comes from a much healthier place rather than a place of deficiency. 


Marriage has been a crazy ride! But it's also been the best journey and adventure I get to share being with the love of my life. I'm so thankful for this new year of marriage and that it keeps getting better and better










This Dish!! Let me tell you.... My husband and I really enjoy and bond over exploring new foods that offer complex and unique flavors. And because of that, we don't particularly enjoy the typical chain restaurants. They just don't seem to take too many risks in the flavor department. So we venture out to find that hole in the wall, scant lighting, living room feel kind of place. Although our appetites can clash at times, we can always for sure agree that we looove Peruvian food. But the bill doesn't always fit our budget. We decided to take on the challenge to create this same dish at home for much cheaper.

Lomo Saltado is unique. Lomo (beef) Saltado (Peruvian Stir Fry) carries a fusion of flavors with a combination of spanish-style mixed with asian influences. This sitr-fry is for sure a power punch of complex flavor in your mouth. It is light, refreshing and juicy from the tomatoes and white wine vinegar while still savory from the meat, soy and fish sauces. A fun treat where you feel like you are still eating out- but at home!

Making this sitr-fry dish is straight forward and not as intimidating as it may seem. But with an active toddler, fading sunshine for optimal photos and being a work-from-home mama, I was challenged! We had a spill of fresh, beautifully baked potato fries as my daughter pulled a pan of (may I grieve- perfectly golden and delicious) homemade fries from the countertop onto our dirty kitchen floor. **Sigh** I just had to roll with it, try to not cry, whip up another batch and keep it moving. 

See below for more pictures and the full recipe!











Recipe:

Lomo Saltado
2 lbs top round grass-fed beef steak cut into 1/2 inch (~2 cm)  strips
2 tablespoons high smoke point oil (we use avocado oil)
5 medium size julienned russet potatoes 
1 red onion sliced into half moon crescents
2 yellow chiles, seeds removed and finely chopped
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
5 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons fish sauce
4 tomatoes sliced into half moon crescents
2 cups of green onion chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
1 handful of chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon salt

Peruvian-Style White Rice
2 tablespoons high heat cooking oil
4 cloves finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons salt (we use himalayan pink salt)
3/4 cup water
2 cups jasmine long grain white rice


Preparation: 
Rice: In a medium-sized pot, heat 2 tablespoons cooking oil until hot. Add garlic and let simmer until soft but not too brown. Then add 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, add the rice and reduce heat to lowest setting and let simmer for 10-15 minutes until rice is soft. 


Lomo Saltado: Preheat oven to "broil" setting. Place julienned potatoes in mixing bowl and add 1 tablespoon cooking oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Hand mix potatoes until evenly coated with oil. Transfer potatoes onto oven pan even spread out. Place pan into preheated oven and let broil for approx. 8 minutes. Check occasionally to prevent over crisping as every oven varies. Once browned to your liking, set potatoes aside and let cool. 
       The top round cut is a very nice lean and tender option for this stir fry. Cook beef in 2 tablespoons cooking oil in hot wok (see wok pictures above) until browned. Add red onions, garlic, chiles, white wine vinegar and soy sauce and let cook for 2 minutes. Then add tomatoes, cilantro, and green onions and cook for another 2 minutes. Be careful to not over cook after adding tomatoes. The tomatoes should still maintain some shape and crunch. Once the beef and vegetables are finished cooking in wok, scoop and serve a portion over the homemade potato fries. Place a serving of rice on the side, pour a little spoonful of sauce over some rice and Enjoy!



Bon Apetit!

















 Hello and welcome back to my blog!

The Statement Bottoms

I want to admit that the category of fashion in the blog and social media sphere has been intimidating to me for quite some time. The reason being that since I've become a mom- and a self-employed mom at that- my wardrobe and clothing budget has been slim. Transitioning to motherhood, the changes my body went through, and the low energy levels I experienced navigating the 9-5 work life was extremely overwhelming to me. I think a lot of moms can relate to the feeling of "losing yourself". I went through a really dark time. And I think we as humans in general go through seasons of lows whether it be financially, emotionally, relationally, professionally, etc. that affect our outward appearance. Men and women alike!

I want to break the mold here a bit. I honestly have been living in these staple items. All. Season. Long. Why would I want to highlight to the world that I can't afford clothes and show one of the few outfits I know I feel good in so it can be recognized over and over again when people see me? There is this desire that I believe a lot of us have in not wanting to be seen in the same outfits many times over in one season. I love seeing some of my favorite bloggers release their latest hauls of accessories, sweaters, jackets, shoes, products, perfume- you name it. But it's more of just eye candy for me most of the time.

Consume, consume, consume. It's fun and we get to enjoy new things. But what do you do when that lifestyle doesn't match your reality? I've learned to be okay with living minimally. Now I didn't have too many clothes that fit my body well after having a baby. Things have moved around! And because my budget has been limited, I waited about eight months, cleared out my closet only keeping a select few basic items that I felt comfortable with, re-wore those items over and over, and saved up some money over that time until I had enough to bring some new items in. Rather than buying random clothes that although look good, many times they don't really go well with any basic items in my closet, I chose a few good quality statement pieces that I could build some of my wardrobe basics (tanks tops, sweaters, etc.) around. A statement item for me usually means it has some special flare, hardware or color pop to it.

My basics are versatile and items that I can wear across multiple seasons of the year. This maximizes the value of my closet. Here in Sacramento it is still 90 degrees Fahrenheit most days, but it can be quite chilly in the evenings as Fall approaches. So I'm pulling items that allow air flow yet still can be manipulated to provide coverage and warmth when needed- like this sweater. With this outfit, I am highlighting one of my statement pieces- the shorts! And these shorts have not failed to impress. I fit an above average, tall inseam (long legs- short torso) and these H&M shorts still provide great high-waisted tummy panels and go down long enough to provide really nice upper leg coverage. This is hard to find for us tall girls!

Next, I looked for other items I could dress around this statement piece. I only carry a handful of clothes and shoes in my wardrobe. What I've learned to do is rotate those items to create endless possibilities and combinations. Switch out the sweater here, try a different pair of shoes, or perhaps an alternative tank top color. We really don't need a lot of clothes when we handpick just a few special items that fit us really well for the stage our bodies are in at the current moment. Rock what you have! Over and over again! My mental energy has been so freed up by being okay with having less. I hope you are feeling encouraged knowing less truly is more too. If there is anything in your closet that doesn't make you feel confident and does not fit you right and comfortably, donate it and start from scratch. I did the same a few months ago and while I panicked on the inside (closet hoarder), I was so liberated afterward.

What are some of your favorite wardrobe basics items you are wearing to help transition from Summer to Fall?


*Shout out to my fantastic hubby for being the supportive photographer behind all my photos! Love him!




Wardrobe Items:
Sweater: H&M
Tank Top: H&M
Shorts: H&M
Sunglasses: Aldos
Sandals: Nine West




I deserve no credit of my own for this fantastic and easy guacamole dip. My husband is the one who taught me how to make this recipe and if he had told me what was in it before I tasted it myself, I likely would have been hesitant to eat

















Wow, it's been nearly three years since I've been here and a whole lot of life has happened. I met my best friend and husband, we got engaged (then got pregnant- note the order there. Cue the stress, guilt and shame). Next was marriage, baby, becoming a working mama, leaving my job to become a work at home mama for an awesome digital health start-up company, starting a few businesses- and life just continues to keep rolling on.

With all the love and joy and happiness I've been blessed with these past few years, a lot of it has actually been really hard. I'm looking forward to (and quite nervous too) to share my story and the lessons I've learned (and am still learning) about marriage, pregnancy, home birth, breastfeeding, motherhood, sleep training (or not), being a working mama and entrepreneur, baby modeling, health, nutrition, fitness and more! It will get raw, it will get gritty, but that's the real me and I hope you join me in reading along. There is so much power, freedom and healing that comes when we share our stories with one another. I want this to be interactive and am looking forward to your comments and hearing your story too as we journey along together. So, here we go! Stay tuned for weekly posts with some engaging topics coming right up!




3 John 1:2
Dear Friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.


wedding and baby photo credit: Nicole Sepulveda XSight
portrait photo credit: Zach Boyd

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