Ingredients to add to your Morning Breakfast Shake

For the past three years, our breakfast has been a Nutritious Shake, which we have reinvented more than 10 times thanks to our relentless search to find the best ingredients. After so many changes we have chosen the following ingredients for their nutritional value.

Bananas are a healthy source of fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and various antioxidants and phytonutrients. 

Apples are high in fiber, vitamin C, and various antioxidants.

Blueberries are low in calories and fat yet provide decent amounts of healthy fiber and are a good source of manganese and vitamins C and K1. They also provide small amounts of copper, as well as vitamins E and B6.

Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. They are also a good source of several B-vitamins, vitamin K and potassium

Beets are good sources of vitamins and minerals, such as folate, manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C.

Parsley contains several important nutrients, such as vitamins A, K, and C. It’s also a good source of the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.

Kale is very high in nutrients and has many powerful antioxidants, including quercetin and kaempferol, which have numerous beneficial effects on health.  Kale is also extremely high in vitamin C.

Ginger is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Ginger has so many health benefits, from helping with digestion to brain functions and properties that can help fight infection.

Turmeric has been in use since antiquity for its anti-inflammatory (painkiller), carminative, anti-flatulent and anti-microbial properties. 

In addition to the above, the following are also the other ingredients which contribute good fat content and probiotics:  peanut butter, plant-based protein, coconut oil, olive oil, kefir, cayenne pepper, and granola.

Romanticism when your Partner is not a romantic!

I am of the opinion that we all have something romantic inside us, romanticism may manifest itself in different ways from the most romantic (dinners with candles and rose petals in bed ), to the most subtle romantics (coffee made in the morning), we are all romantic, but we all are to different degrees.

When I met my husband right away I realized that he was one of those “most subtle romantics”, he grew up without really knowing what romanticism is, and over the years we have learned to, by my side lower expectations and by his, put a little more effort.

After 18 years together we know more or less how romantic days like Valentine’s Day, Anniversaries, and Birthdays will unfold, usually by me planning something romantic and he trying to support me. I know that waiting for him to plan it all is not a fair expectation, but it is only fair that he be enthusiastic if I am the one who is planning the occasion.

When our partners are less romantic than we are, we have to have patience and understand how their minds and emotions work and work with communication so that they can understand what that special planned moment means for us (the more romantic kind).

For example, I may receive flowers once a year (if any), but he writes and calls me during the day, every day. He makes coffee early on Sundays and take care of the children or household chores so that I have my free time and enjoy them as I please. Those are the details that I have learned to appreciate because they come from a genuine loving place in his heart, and all the little candles in the world melt when compared to his daily attention to me.

My advice to you in the event that your partner is not so romantic is not to press for romanticism, but learn to see romance on a day-to-day basis and if you want your movie night, or fancy dinner, or bathtub filled with rose petals, then plan it yourself together with your partner and enjoy every minute of it.

When a simple Thank You will do

Last Friday night we went to bed a bit late since we had friends over for dinner.  I cooked the appetizers, side dishes, and dessert, while our friends did the most tastefully, tender, and juicy Brisket ever.  We laughed, and talked, and laughed some more. As I and my husband went to bed, although we were tired, we both acknowledged how lucky and thankful we feel for having great friends in our lives.

Sunday was the Super Bowl and my family has been anticipated the big game and I knew it was a special moment for them, so although I had a gazillion things to cook and prep for the week, I made the effort to cook them Chicken Wings and Nachos which they devoured while watching the game. After we put the kids to bed and as I am in the kitchen finishing cleaning up, my younger son calls me in to tell me that he really appreciates all I do for them and that the wings were amazing and the Nachos were the best he ever had and that he is so thankful for having me as a mom… I smiled, kissed him and told him the lucky one was me.

When we give the best to our families, and to our loved ones, and to ourselves, we do reach a level of satisfaction in our lives. At the end of the day, comes the amazing feeling that you are doing your best to stir your family in a happy direction, and when that gets recognized, and you are thanked for it… well, we are closer to the destination.

Stir Fry Ramen with Pork

Today recipe is a special one.  I make this on Friday night when we as a family are craving something different.  We try our best to eat meatless as much as we can, which is why this dish is a splurge when it comes to food.  It is a Stir Fry Pork Ramen and it is delicious.

For a full video, you can watch it on my YouTube channel @ Marisabel Park and below is the full recipe with pictures.  I am trying to get better at this so hopefully after a while the process is more understandable. I do have plenty of recipes to share and I am hopeful that with the videos and this blog the intention of providing you good and yummy recipes catered for the busy wife, husband, dad or mother, or just the busy you.

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp of avocado oil (or oil of your preference)
  • ¼ cup of soy sauce
  • ¼ cup of rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp of sriracha
  • 1 tsp of sesame oil (and more to coat the ramen once cooked)
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of chili garlic sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 boneless pork cutlets (cubed)
  • 2 zucchini (cubed)
  • 1 medium onion (sliced)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 3 bunches of green onions
  • ¼ cup of cilantro
  • 3 basil leaves
  • 1/2 ramen noodles

Hit your pan and add the oil, once its hot add the pork and cook for about 5 minutes until it is no pink anymore.  Add the onions and cook for about 4 minutes until it starts getting translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the zucchini and cook until tender (about 8 minutes).

Cook the ramen as per the package instructions and once is drained, coat with a teaspoon of sesame oil.  Set aside.

In a bowl add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce, sriracha, sesame oil, and sugar and mix well until all is well combined.

Add the sauce into the pork/veggie mixture together with cilantro and green onion.  Let the sauce get hot (2 minutes) and add the ramen noodles. Combine well and serve with a some green onions (the green part) on top.

Enjoy.  You are very welcome.

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Lessons Learned from my Mother

My mother has been a constant inspiration in my life.  She is kind, compassionate, realistic, assertive, composed and self-assured.  She is, by all I believe in, the wiser person I know. The use of “common sense” has always been her go-to-solution to all and every problem or situation and it is my goal to pass the “common sense” approach to my kids.

She has gone through the loss of her son, which is a pain that as I have learned, never goes away.   She has worked hard “38 consecutive years” as she says it, climbing up the professional ladder without holding back, always with loyalty, professionalism, honesty, and integrity. She has been, is and will be my idol. My go-to-person when self-doubt, fear, pessimism, and doubt snicks in my heart.

Through the years, I have seen her suffer, adapt, change, dream, conquering happiness and peace, learning over and over to enjoy life, be loving and caring (and patient) to my dad, and be 100% available to my needs and wants.  

After going through my own self-improvement program and in my pursuit to understand my life purpose, I have come to realize that she is not perfect, however, that realization just made me love her more since although she has her own challenging shortcomings, she has managed to be stronger than anyone I know.  She has taught me life lessons that today I am sharing with you:

  1. Balance it out.  My mother would always tell me to balance it out.  Put the positive on one side and the negative on the other and make decisions based on the outcome.  From professional decisions, to love, to friendship, to education, it can all be put in the balance and decisions are made knowing the positives and negatives of each possibility.
  2. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes: Before judging try your best to put yourself in their shoes.  We don’t know what that person has gone through, we don’t know the whole story. Kindness and compassion should be your first impressions instead of baseless judgment.
  3. Be strong.  My mother is a stoic person. She is the embodiment of what a strong mind and a generous heart and profound faith can do together.  Even when I have gone through my good share of very low moments she has been compassionate but very clear… you are strong, you are mighty, you are a force, you are what you need to be to overcome anything.
  4. Got to be humble.  We are no better than the person next to us.  What we own and what we do for a living says nothing about who we are.  Be humble and treat everyone with kindness and compassion. Always smile, always shake hands, always exchange kind words, treat everyone (including those that are clearly making the statement that they have more than you) with respect and kindness.  
  5. Honesty goes a long way.  She always believes she was sufficiently smart to get to where she was professionally when she retired, however, she was always very honest when she would say that along the way she met people far more qualified than her, but that it was her honesty and integrity that made her a solid candidate for every promotion she accomplished while working.  If you don’t have integrity in the workplace, people will see through it. You can always be trained in the job, but integrity is what you bring with you.

At any time of my day, during a good moment or a low moment, I remember my mom and imagine how she would react, or what would she chose, or how she would handle the situation I am in, and by following her example, I have been able to move forward and in the positive direction.  I am grateful to her. I am grateful for her heart and her soul. I am grateful for her love. I am grateful for her lessons.

Mom and me

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Tips for your Morning Routine that works!

Mornings can be tough… The eternal juggling of managing people, pets, and oneself so early in the morning can be quite overwhelming. I remember getting out of the house and sitting in my car thinking… I’m ready to call it a day, and I still have to go to work!! With time, I started to pay more attention to our routine , and with practice my family and I were able to make it work. Of course it is still hectic, but not as chaotic as before. It has a flow that we have gotten used to as a family, and when I get into my car to go to work I can catch myself smiling, choosing a new podcast for the drive with a sense of accomplishment.

So what are my tips? I’ll share them with you and hopefully it will give you focus during those early hours of the morning.

  1. Get Up Early: IT IS IMPORTANT! Waking up thinking that you are already late is THE MAIN INGREDIENT for a recipe for disaster. Waking up early helps with my sanity. There are several ways I use this “extra” time; for example I do exercise (yoga, HIIT workout, or a treadmill walk/run), meditation, check calendars (mine and my family’s), check my social media (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook), or read a self-help book. You can use this extra time for anything that is personal, or use it to do stuff that you don’t have enough time to do during the day.
  2. Pick your clothes (and your kid’s clothes) the night before: I pick my clothes the night before, including shoes and jewelry. I even make the decision on how my hair and make-up will be. I make it to where there’s NO decision to make in the morning. My kids have to pick their clothes too. Their shirt, pants, socks and underwear are ALL picked up the night before.
  3. Pre-prep the lunches: I prepare three lunches( for my two kids and my husbands). I make all the sandwiches and put them in the fridge the night before. In the morning I just put all the items together in their lunch boxes. I doubled the time I have in the mornings just by doing this simple night-before prep.
  4. Decide what you will eat for breakfast the night before: Just like the lunches, we know exactly what the breakfast will be. We usually choose either oatmeal, veggie/fruit smoothies, or energy bars. Just something simple we can prep the night before.
  5. Make the beds: It sounds like something that would be at the bottom of your to-do list, but it adds a sense of accomplishment once it is done. Not to mention that when you get back to your house after a long day and you see your bed done, it’s inviting and relaxing.
  6. Go to bed early: Studies show that the average person should be sleeping 6.5 to 7 hours every night. So if I wake up at 4:30 am I would go to bed at 10:00 pm. I do put the kids to bed by 8:00 to get time to reorganize the house, prep lunches and breakfasts, take long showers and do some reading or blogging.

Not every morning will be perfect , and we know it. A spilled glass of water, a grumpy/sick kid in the morning, even we can wake up on the wrong side of the bed sometimes, but when we put the organization into it, even the bad mornings become manageable, and most importantly LESS STRESSED!

Sometimes I do think that one day when my kids have gone to college, I will look back and see all those morning with gratitude. Each one of your mornings are a segment of your life timeline and should be enjoyed to the max. Maybe one day it’ll be just me and my husband waking up to a cup of coffee and those moments will surely be cherished and remembered.

The Power of Daily Goals

A few months ago I completed a self-improvement challenge and one of the new habits that I decided to adapt to my daily routine was having 1 to 3 daily goals.  I would write down the goals in the morning and kept them on my mind as my day unfolded and reflect on them at bedtime.

The goals are to be simple and attainable.  From working out to drinking more water, to listening to a new podcast, to limit time spent watching youtube, to have a conversation with my husband after we put the kids to sleep.  The idea is to feel in control of your actions, of your decisions and to make things happen.

I invited my husband to join me for the daily goals and he happily accepted, so we both, while getting ready or making breakfast will take the time to out loud say our goals of the day.  Then we invited the kiddos… and it has been a wonderful decision.

We all as individuals see and perceive things differently. I work as a marine engineer for the maritime industry and have been doing so for about 14 years, my husband has a contract to do home health so his industry is wellness and performance.  Then we have our 12 and 9-year-old whos live is mainly school, soccer (younger one) and running (oldest one), and home. So, the 3 daily goals are as different as they are surprising.

For me, my daily goals can look like: 

  • Taking a walk during lunch break
  • Drinking 6 glasses or more of water during working hours
  • Acknowledge a coworker (ask them how they are doing and do small talk)
  • Listen to a podcast while driving
  • Limit sugar intake / do fasting in the morning
  • Take a moment to write on my journal or working on my blog
  • Workout (in the morning or afternoon)
  • Have a smile when coming home after work

For my husband, they usually look like:

  • Try to rest when I come back from work
  • Have a healthy snack when I come back from work
  • Finish my water bottle during working hours
  • Have at least 1-hour work out (on gym days) which means less chatting more sweating
  • Call my wife mid-morning
  • Listen to a new podcast while driving
  • Be nice and offer any additional help to my patients
  • Stop by my mom house to say hi on my way home
  • Cheer for my son while at soccer practice
  • Have a 15-minute chat with my oldest son right before he goes to bed

For my two kiddos, the goals are usually:

  • Eat all my lunch in the lunch hour
  • Say thank you at least 10 times during the day
  • Be helpful with the teacher
  • Sit in lunchtime next to someone I don’t know that much
  • Do my homework as soon as I come from school
  • Tell my dad and mom a joke after school
  • Read 10 pages of the book I am reading
  • Give my brother three hugs during the day

We always try to discuss how we did with the daily goals, what we accomplished and we did not.  With the time I noted that we are all more open to trying new things, to set the bar higher as we accomplish these goals and also to be accountable when we don’t reach them. We are more self-assured and more confident and most importantly we are doing our best, personally and collectively to improve ourselves, to be better with ourselves and those around us.

De-constructed Dinner: an easy, quick, simple, and delicious solution to an un planned dinner

Sometimes, even when you have a weekly meal planner, dinner improvisation happens…  for example, last weekend my husband’s best friend came for the weekend to be with him for my husband’s birthday and after a full weekend of soccer games, late-night talks and dinners out, I found myself on Sunday afternoon without a meal plan and with no time to go to the supermarket, so Monday rolled over and I found myself in the improvisation mode.  I have been there before and when it usually happens, I have a to-go-meal that never fails: The deconstructed dinner.

What are the ingredients? Go to the pantry and open your fridge to find out… that’s right, the intention is to use ingredients that you already have.

In the picture is a clear sample of what I am talking about.  For example that Monday, I had a bag of frozen organic edamame, a can of each organic corn and chickpeas, a ripe avocado and a mixture of organic rice (black rice, quinoa, white rice, and bulgur). 

I cook each “main” ingredient with different spices.  For example, the edamame was cooked with paprika, salt, and pepper, the chickpeas were cooked with turmeric, cumin and cayenne pepper, and the corn with butter, salt, and paprika.  Each ingredient bringing a different flavor to the plate. I usually serve it in a bowl, with rice in the middle and the other ingredients around it. A boiled or fried egg is a nice addition on top with a splash of hot sauce.

I have used virtually every ingredient found in my pantry, fridge or freezer during this unplanned meals, including kale, broccoli, cauliflower, lentils, black beans (or any kind of beans), carrots, tofu, and chicken to mention a few.  The intention is that you can use anything you have and make it healthy, quick, easy and delicious.

The power of true friendship… looking into my memories

Memory Lane…

I grew up with a fantastic group of friends.  Some of them are part of my life since I was 5 years old (really we met in kindergarten!).  Others were added to the circle as we grew up, however, we, all together, go back since we were 12 years old.

We are now older, we would think smarter, definitely more experienced, we want to believe wiser.  We have stuck together through 25 years of friendship where marriage, divorce, kids, distance, and loss has happened.  But we are us, uniquely us, we encourage each other, we help each other, we give each other company, we complain about everyone and everything and we, sometimes, don’t see eye to eye (at all).  I am a very fortunate and grateful person for having them in my life.

I have personally a great story about what friendship is all about, what my friends have taught me with their actions.  I was 17 years old when I had a bad car accident. I broke my neck (C5) and back (L2 through L5), which meant I was so very fortunate to be able to tell the story, even more of fully recovering from it.  The recovery took months and one constant through all those months were my friends. They took turns coming to visit me, they learned how to help me with changing clothes or with shower and bathroom duties, they helped eat when I was not able, learned to clean my wounds (I had the halo), and most importantly where constant emotional support.

We were young, just graduated from high school, we had boyfriends and we liked to party. We were wild in our own way.  We were good kiddos that truly enjoyed going out and living life and so for the next few months, we held parties at my house so that I could be present, they slept in my house so that my parents could leave for the weekend to attend other commitments, they took me to therapy when needed and wherein the house the moment I would feel down and in pain. They were my rock.

I am so grateful for my friends for what the did during one of the most painful times in my life. I am grateful for their company, support, encouragement, compassion, and kindness.  My love for them has only grown stronger as the last 25 years have passed and we remain as close as ever. Even though I chose to leave Panama and come to live in the US and therefore my life took a different route than theirs back home, we talk every day through Whatsapp and phone, always fully invested in each other lives.  Always. That is what I call best friends forever (all 13 of them).

Treasure your friends, no matter where they are, no matter how different their lives look from you now, friendship is an infinite source of power and encouragement, but it needs to be nurtured, you need to pay attention to it, you need to be present and provide as much time as you can.  Call them, talk to them, listen to them, tell them how much their friendship means to you. Always.

7 Ways to reduce plastic use at home

About three years ago we consciously started to reduce the use of plastic in our home.   It has been a lengthy process, but in the pursuit to be more environmentally conscious and creating a sense of social consciousness in our kids we have come a long way.  Here are the ways we have reduced the use of plastic in our home.

  1. No more plastic straws:  This was a big one as we used to buy them regularly since we drink a lot of shakes (for the morning, lunch and sometimes dinner).  So we bought a pack of 4 stainless steel straws and we loved them. We got them about three years ago in amazon and I believe they are now available in most places.  Nowadays you can find silicon straws, glass straws, bamboo straws, and stainless steel straws and they come with their own cleaning brush so cleaning them is no problem.
  2. No more Ziploc bags (sandwich, or snack bags):  I do pack a school snack to both of my kids and I would usually put the pretzels or check mix or granola in a Ziploc bag.   Last year, before the school started I bought reusable silicone food storage bags and have been a game-changer. My sons actually prefer silicone food storage bags than the plastic counterpart.  I bought them in amazon and paid 13.99 for six quart-size bags which were actually bigger than expected. For what I have read the bags have an expiration date but so far they are still looking great. 
  3. Purchase food, like rice, pasta, and grains in bulk:   This is truly a double winner as you will actually save money when you buy in bulk.  I have glass containers at home where we store the rice, pasta, and grains. Whole foods have a great selection of grains in bulk where you find a variety of rice and beans, as well as granola and nuts.  
  4. No more plasticware at home:  I would always have plastic plates and plastic silverware at home for “emergency”.  About a year ago I stop buying them and use only the regular glass plates and stainless steel silverware. Yes, it may take longer to clean but I got used to it quite fast.  Additionally, although silverware may be cheap at the market, plastic plates are not and I have saved quite a bit in the last year by taking them out of the shopping list.
  5. Make your own cleaning products:  For the last three years we have made our own cleaning products and this has helped to reduce the plastic container that we would usually buy when buying these products.  We have one with vinegar-water and another one with alcohol-water and with these two we are able to keep the house clean, smelling fresh and disinfected.
  6. No more plastic scrubbers and synthetic sponges:  We started using natural cleaning cloths for cleaning around the house and the dishes.  It may take a bit to get used to it but now I love it more than the previous counterpart.  Additionally, this is another change that allows you to save money as well.
  7. Be conscious! Nowadays there is a lot of progress towards reducing the use of plastics and many companies from cosmetics to food to home goods are doing the best to reduce the use of plastic.  When buying products (makeup, detergents, soaps, lotions, etc) chose the one with the plastic alternative, from recyclable packaging to glass, if you have an option chose to be environmentally friendly, chose plastic-free and recyclable packaging.