Smokie Mountain Day Trip

Smokie Mountain Day Trip

Towering trees framed with glistening streams and waterfalls are just some things you can look forward to when going to Smoky Mountain National Park. Nestled between Tennessee and North Carolina, the Smokie Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country, with over 9 million people vising annually.  With only one day to explore, I rented a truck after landing in Chattanooga, Tennessee and drove to the park. Worried about the notorious traffic as families are vacationing for Spring Break, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was an easy 2.45 hour drive. Instead of going through the main tourist town of Gatlinburg, I went through the less know entrance through the charming quaint town of Townsend to see the Cades Cove, an early European settlement dating back to the 1800’s.

Make sure to see John Oliver Place, one of the first settlers to call Cades Cove home in 1820’s. As I sat on the porch steps, it’s hard to believe the wealth of history present at this beautiful rural land.

If you are looking to get some hiking in, stop for a hike to Abrams Falls, about midway through the Cades Cove driving path. You are rewarded with a 20 foot waterfall after a relatively easy 5 mile round-trip hike. The entire hike should take 3 hours or less to complete, stretching your legs and enjoying nature.  If you are looking to see Clingmans Dome, the highest peak in the park, it is completely doable if you start you day early. Since I arrived at the park at 3:30pm, I opted out and enjoyed some short hikes instead.

Ideally, I recommend spending at least 3 to 4 days do you can enjoy nature and camp at this beautiful park. After going to Yosemite during the summer time, I recommend coming here during off season, even if it is cooler. You would be able to enjoy nature without having to sit in rush hour like traffic with hoards of people every where you look.

Francis Coppola Winery in Sonoma

Francis Coppola Winery in Sonoma

One of my favorite things to do when travelling to San Francisco is to tour the vineyards in the California Wine Country.  After much contemplation, we decided on Sonoma and spend an afternoon at Francis Coppola Winery.  Founded by Francis Ford Coppola, the Academy Award-winning director, this breathtakingly 100 acres is nestled between mountains and a sea of grapevines.  Our group arrived before sunset on a chilly November afternoon.  If you visit during the warmer season, make sure to relax by their 2 massive pools, where there are bocce ball courts and even a pool cafe.   Being winos, our focus was exploring the wonderful wines, after taking a bunch of pictures, of course!  If you have time, make sure to dine at their full restaurant, which has an amazing selection of meals perfectly pared with wines.

The beautiful autumn colors were the perfect backdrop.  The fresh brisk air was a nice change of pace from the busy San Francisco city life.  After our drive in from San Francisco, which was about 2.5 hours due to traffic, we wanted to stretch our legs, which also meant taking a ton of pictures.

Inside the main building, we walked through the Movie Gallery, displaying a extensive collection of Francis Coppola’s authentic movie memorabilia. If you are a “Godfather” fan, make sure to see Don Corleone’s desk from The Godfather.  For car fanatics, the original Tucker 48 from Tucker: The Man and His Dream sits impressively in the showroom on your way to the wine tasting room.

 

Some of my favorite wines included the 2014 Director’s Cut Merlot, $23, which has a nice supple mouth feel with rich fruit flavors.  Some key highlights from Fracis Coppola include:

  • Exceedingly juicy in character with distinct spice notes, a plush texture, and supple tannins.
  • Featuring a beautiful tapestry of rich fruit flavors framed by beautiful smoky wood nuances and well-integrated tannins.

I’d love to hear what your favorite vineyards are in the United States.  I loved Sonoma Valley and really enjoyed tasting many wines from the Lodi Region.  If you like big fruit forward red wines, try a few from Lodi.  Being from Texas, make sure to explore the Texas Hill Country for some exceptional wines.  One of my personal favorite Texas Vineyards is Woodrose Winery in Stonewall, Texas, just outside of Austin.  Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of trying New Mexico wine, which has a very interesting flavor palete.

 

I hope you enjoyed traveling with me to Sonoma Wine County.  Until next time, happy travels.

Eat Healthier When Traveling

Eat Healthier When Traveling

Is it possible to eat healthy while you are traveling?  There is always a new restaurant to try, tasty appetizers to share, fun conversations followed by a drink or two (or three!).   It’s almost impossible to resist taking an extra bite of that tasty meal, event though your stomach is about to explode.  And when the waiter brings out the dessert tray, you think, #yolo. Well, after a few months of trial and error, the answer is yes, you can eat healthy while you travel, but it will require you to make a few changes and rethink what a typical “meal” should look like.

I will confess, there was a time when I first started traveling where I was eating breakfast tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner (I know, absolutely tragic). It turns out that finding “the green” stuff has become even more challenging. There’s not a lot of really great selections at airports, and even less selections at gas stations. After about 2 months of traveling, I noticed that I gained a little bit of weight around my stomach.  Part of the reason was because my exercise level also dropped down significantly during this time.  Before when I worked from home, I was working out 4 to 5 days a week.  In my typical travel day now, I am lucky to even walk a mile or two because of my new lifestyle.  What’s even more scary is that I’m probably sitting 95% of the time in my day.  According to an article from the Mayo Clinic, “Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.”  Yikes.

Since 80% of physical health starts with the types of foods consumed, I started tweeking my eating habits.  I had to how figure out how to find healthy meals without having to cook or meal plan.  Since I’m eating about 90% of my meals each week while travelling, looking for healthy options was an active challenge.  I knew I was missing many nutrients which I use to get when I cooked, such as Omega-3’s, which I use to get from consuming seafoods like salmon and mackerel.  While I am not a huge fan of relying on supplemental vitamins, sometimes you have to do what you have to do to, especially when your only options are fried chicken or gas station pizza.  Clearly, the best form of nutrition is through the whole food itself, but if you don’t have time or do not have the selection of food readily available, I recommend using supplements.

I started adding an omega 3 supplement, algae (which you can also get from seaweed), collagen (which has a plethora of benefits including cardiovascular health AND healthier nails and hair) and royal jelly (boosting immune system and a helps with ton of other chronic ailments). If you look at my travel bag, you would laugh. I look like a pill lady.  I carry this zip lock bag of pills.  I am waiting from the day TSA pulls me aside to ask me about my “drug problem”.

Looking at my old eating habits, I used to eat only 15 to 20% of my total calories as carbohydrates.  My new diet while travelling consisted of breakfast tacos and sandwiches, closer to 40% carbohydrates.  And most of the carbs were refined carbs and bread.  Obviously the tacos had to go.  Instead of a breakfast taco or sandwich in the morning, I now have a salad for breakfast.  Now, it may seem weird eating a salad first thing in the morning, especially when it is 5:30-6 o’clock in the morning and everyone else is having a breakfast taco at the airport.  However, when you look at the components of a Cobb salad you’ll notice it has is the same types of foods you would normally get from breakfast:  Hard boiled eggs, bacon, avocado (healthy fats essential to our overall well-being), and healthy green vegetables. This is a wonderful low-carbohydrate breakfast option.  On days where I need a little extra substance, I will have a banana or apple as well.  The morning cup of coffee, which is absolutely critical to my well-being, is part of my morning meal.

For lunch, I started off by swapping the wrap or sandwich for foods with more fiber and healthy fats.  On days where I can find  salmon or some kind of seafood with a lot of omega 3’s, I’ll skip the omega 3 supplements.  If I’m really craving carbs, I’ll have a very small serving of potatoes, sweet potatoes, or black beans usually two or three tablespoons.  If they have avocados, it is definitely on my plate.  The rest of the plate consists of steamed vegetables or a salad.

I stopped snacking because I really didn’t need the extra calories, since my activity levels have decreased substantially.  If I’m really craving something sweet, I’ll dig in to my bag and grab an  an organic apple, or an orange, which travels quite well.   As much as I like bananas, I quickly realized they do not travel well (hello banana scented iPad case!)

Dinner is probably one of the easiest meals for me. Almost every place will have a seafood or chicken option.  The easiest thing to do is to substitute out any carbohydrates with a double serving of steamed vegetables.  Get dressing on the side with salads and have the sauce from any entree on the side as well.  This gives you the flexibility to add as much or as little as you want.  I often find restaurants tend to drown the salad in dressing.  A hardy salad with steak or salmon on top is a favorite of mine.  Avoid temptation by having the bread bowl removed from the table.  A squeeze of lime or lemon gives an extra flavor boost as well as add in some antioxidants and vitamin C.  I try to eat dinner earlier, around 5:30-6:30 if possible, because if you eat too late, it’s harder for you to digest.

Instead of carbs, I now add in more healthy fats, such as coconut oil, avocado, and even bacon.  The healthy fats keep me energized.  Since I’ve been on this new regiment, I have lost inches off my waist line with no exercise and very limited activity.  People have noticed that I am visibly slimmer and it has given me a lot of energy.

Funny thing is now, the other day, I had a cake ball in my moment of weakness and immediately I could feel the sugar crash.  I also felt sick to my stomach after about 10 minutes because my body is not used to all of this heavy, refined, processed foods anymore.  Bad foods definitely affects how you feel.  Despite having only 2-4 hours of sleep on a week day,  I still have lots of energy and am in good shape.  Obviously, sleep is important and it is something I’m going to start incorporating more it into my day to day routine, but I wanted to share this just to give you an idea of what a healthy day while traveling can look like. If you have any questions or if you are looking to know how you can get some ideas for healthy meals on the road that you can easily purchased, feel free to drop me a line and a comment.

Thanks, and make it a healthy day.

Easy Avocado Toast And Egg Breakfast

Easy Avocado Toast And Egg Breakfast

 Breakfast is one of my favorite meals because it is easy to make, and most important meal of the day. Starting the day off right gives me the energy to going as well as gives me the will power to ward off junk food. I love making avocado toast. It is such an easy dish to make and has such a beautiful presentation. Plus, everybody I have ever made it for loves it.
Ingredients: 1 servings
12-15 minutes
1/2 avocado
1 egg
1/3 cup of mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup greens like spring mix or micro greens
1-2 slices of sourdough bread
2 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat up the pan with 1 tbsp butter and fry the egg while you toast the bread. Slice the avocado. Put the toasted bread on the plate and covered with avocado slices. Put the egg on top of the avocado or if you are using two pieces of bread, put the egg on the other piece of bread. Add the other tablespoon of butter in the pan with the mushrooms and sauté from 4-6 minutes until cooked. Garnish to plate with greens and mushrooms and add salt and pepper to taste.
What are some additional ingredients you like to add into your avocado toast? I love trying new things!

#breakfast #foodies

Thanks #nourishedbykale for sharing this wonderful meal!  #food #healthyfoodporn #foodblogger #brunch #healthylivingjunkie via Instagram http://ift.tt/2ASNr07

Make the Most of Each Day

Make the Most of Each Day

Each morning we wake up and we are faced with a new day.  In order to make the most of each day, you have to stop holding on to the issues that are holding us back.  It could be hurt feelings, or anger at a friend or family member.  Perhaps you are still mad at yourself for last night’s binge eating.  Maybe you are feeling guilty from skipping a workout.  Whatever it is, let it go.  Decide to be positive and take a happier outlook on life.  It’s a new day and anything is possible.  Just like you pick your clothes each day, pick your attitude for the day.  Decide what you want to achieve and make it happen. Make a commitment to live each day to the fullest and enjoy the moment.

Make the most of each day

No matter what you are going through or problems you have that’s weighing you down, you can decide how you are going to face them.  Deciding to be positive and looking on the bright side is the best way to make the most of each day and find inspiration in our lives.  It allows us to find happiness and face our challenges with humor and grace.

#healthylivingjunkie #fitspiration #inspiration #weightloss #weightlossjourney #fitlife

Healthy Energy Drinks Homemade

Healthy Energy Drinks Homemade

Why spend $4 on energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster when you can make your healthy energy drinks HOMEMADE own for pennies?  In this video, Allison Ramsey, a Natural Health Practitioner, shares with us her favorite DIY Homemade Natural Energy Drink Recipe.

Besides, these natural ingredients also help cleanse your system and detoxes while giving you a boost of energy.

The primary ingredients in this homemade energy drink is turmeric, ginger and cayenne pepper.

Turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb.  Turmeric is also a natural anti-inflammatory and have tons of antioxidants.  It also helps gives you a boost of energy without the typical energy drink crash.

Ginger is used in China for over 2,000 years.  It also gives you a boost of energy and also helps with nausea and motion sickness.

Cayenne Pepper helps boost your metabolism and helps burn excess amounts of fats.  It also helps soothes an upset stomach, sore throat, and well as has potential cancer fighting properties.

So in addition to getting tons of energy, this DIY Homemade Natural Energy Drink will also give you tons of health benefits as well!

Add a touch of honey or Stevia for taste.

Shout out to Allison from https://www.gonaturalistic.com/

#healthylivingjunkie #weightloss #weightlosstips #fitness #diy #healthyrecipes #workout #energydrinks #anniechang