Month: February 2015

Three Ways to Know for Sure if You are Living Your Purpose

I’ve learned throughout my relatively short time on earth that life likes to leave us clues. It’s constantly leaving breadcrumbs on our path that, if paid attention to, will lead every one of us to what we are meant to do in this world.

If you hate flying then your purpose is not going to be becoming a pilot. It sounds incredibly obvious and maybe even a little bit dumb, but I use this example because I heard a woman voice this fear and it struck me so much that I never forgot it. She was scared that what the universe has in store for her isn’t going to be what she wants for herself. She was really conflicted and I can bet that if she has this fear then others do to.

Here’s the deal: The universe’s plan for you will specifically match up with your passions and talents. That’s why God gave you certain passions and talents in the first place. The exciting and beautiful thing about living your purpose is that when you discover it, it feels like everything is in alignment, because it is.

Paying attention during something that lights you up is one of the clues to look out for. Does the time fly? Do you find that ideas or actions flow effortlessly, almost as if they are coming through you and not from you? When you find yourself in “flow” you are synced up to the Universe. You are the filter through which genius flows. It’s like a holy download. It’s a natural alignment between your talents and God’s plan for you.DeathtoStock_SlowDown3

Even right now, writing this blog post I feel totally in my flow. I usually need to keep a few hours open in my day if I plan to write because I know once I start, time flies and there is no way I am paying attention to the clock. If I schedule an appointment too close to writing time I will totally miss it!

Here’s another clue to look out for:

After you finish something of value to you, do you feel even more energy then before you started? When I was in college, the majority of my classes were dance, so while other students were sitting at a desk for 5-6 classes a day, I was dancing for those 5-6 hours with rehearsals in the evenings and shows at the end of every semester. Looking back, I’m amazed that I had enough energy to study for my academics and bar tend on the weekends! That’s what happens when you are living in flow though. Your purpose feeds you and generates even more energy than you knew was possible.

These days my schedule is packed. I wake up early in the morning and am at Equinox by 8am. All day I am learning and taking on new challenges. I have classes, meetings, sessions and workouts. It’s a lot, but it’s fascinating. I love the field I’m in and I leave feeling great. After Equinox I often go to my restaurant job and whereas before, I felt tired and bored, lately I’ve noticed I’m in a great mood. I have tons of energy and I don’t feel nearly as run-down as I used to. It baffles me because my workload is at least double what it used to be. I’m doing things I love and that makes all the difference.

Another way to know if you are in alignment with your purpose is to pay attention to how you feel after you finish something. Do you feel a sense of peace, or even elation? After I write I often feel like everything is right with the world (or at least with my world). I feel a sense of peace and after I hit “publish” I feel like I’ve reached the top of a mountain. It feels like all of my effort lead me to this moment and my heart is lighter for having followed it.

Paying attention to your heart is a pretty good way to live. These days I try to stay away from things that my heart says ‘no’ to. More often than not, they end up being things that take my focus away from what I love to do. My heart saying ‘no’ feels like a heavy burden or a contraction instead of an expansion. I also pay attention to my energy. If I feel tired, sad, bored or lost for too long I take a look at what I am doing and if it is bringing me closer to my purpose or farther away from it. It’s usually the later.

I challenge you, as you go about your usual day, to ask yourself whether you feel your heart expanding or contracting. Are you using your inherent unique set of gifts in your work? If not, it’s your job to ask yourself these questions and discover what makes you light up. And then go do it. Because living your life on your terms, with joy, inspires others to do the same. And I will tell you a little secret. That’s my purpose.

What’s yours?

 

Happy discovering!

With so much love,

Sam

 

 

Six Sneaky Uses for Hummus

Secret Ingredient Sriracha Deviled EggsHi friends!

Have you ever taken those magazine quizzes that tell you what kind of food cravings you go for? You know, salty, sweet, crunchy, creamy… how am I always all of them??? What does that mean!? I’m gonna go with it means that I love food and I don’t discriminate šŸ˜€

I’m a lover, people.

Because I love all food, but I also love to feed my body healthy things IT loves, I have come up with some pretty sneaky tricks and tips to satisfy my salty, sweet, crunchy, creamy cravings…yes, sometimes I have all of them at once.

Don’t judge.

Hummus has become my best friend and my go-to when a creamy craving hits.

  • Hummus’s mix of protein and fiber keeps us fuller longer and may also contribute to weight loss.
  • The fiber in hummus keeps blood sugar levels steady which helps fight hunger cravings.
  • Hummus also contains a nice bit of iron which is a known energy booster (so, you may be motivated to hit the gym. Bonus!)

And here’s a benefit that I didn’t know about:

  • hummus contains omega 3’s which are good for your brain and also your mood, so you will be twice as happy because you are eating something delicious and it’s making you happier as you eat it!

Even though I adore hummus, it can get pretty boring as a plain ol’ veggie or chip dip, which is why I’m going to share with you my all time favorite ways to use hummus, no veggie stick or tortilla chip required.

two-ingredient salad dressingSalad Dressing: I’ve been making this two-ingredient salad dressing since high school and I still love it. Super simple, (what’s more simple then two ingredients!?) creamy, quick and delicious. I feel silly even calling this a recipe, but here ya go…

Two-Ingredient Salad Dressing

Makes 1 serving

2 tbsp hummus

1 tbsp balsamic

Mix together. Pour on salad.

That’s it!

Secret Ingredient Sriracha Deviled Eggs 2Deviled Eggs: I can’t take credit for this one. My sweet, brilliant boyfriend came up with these when I needed a quick, healthy snack to take with me to work and I wasn’t excited about the mayo in traditional deviled eggs. He suggested hummus to replace the mayo and some sriracha for a spicy kick. They were phenomenal! True story: I packed up the ones in the photo for tomorrow’s afternoon work snack :)

Secret Ingredient Sriracha Deviled Eggs

Makes 6 deviled eggs

3 organic eggs

2 tbsp hummus

1/2 tsp sriracha

cilantro garnish (optional)

Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Carefully add eggs to the pot and boil for 8 minutes. Cool and peel eggs. Cut in half and scoop out yolks, saving 2 halves. In a small bowl mash yolks, hummus and sriracha with a fork until smooth. Add a tsp of water at a time if mixture is too thick. Spoon mixture into eggs, top with cilantro leaves and serve.

Secret Ingredient Sriracha Deviled Eggs 3Now that’s a real recipe.

Some other uses for hummus:

  • As a creamy pasta sauce. I’ll post a recipe soon, but I usually just make it up as I go. Some lemon juice, chili flakes and nutritional yeast usually make it into the bowl.
  • As a sandwich/bagel spread
  • In scrambled eggs
  • In chicken/tuna salad instead of mayo

Secret Ingredient Sriracha Deviled Eggs 1Hummus is amazing.

 

Do you crave salty, sweet, crunchy or creamy. All of them like me?

Do you have a favorite way to eat hummus?

What are some healthy snacks you like to pack for work?

 

With so much love,

Sam

 

 

 

The Wealthy Waitress: A Story About Emergency Funds

Hi friends!

I feel like I haven’t spoken to you all in so long even though it’s only been a week! I think it’s because without warning, I was thrown into Equinox Personal Training…training, haha and it’s totally upended my routine. Good thing I have an awesome planner to keep track of it all. If you look at the past weeks entries, a lot of stuff is crossed off and rearranged. It’s one big mess, but I made it work.

IMG_0373Pretty soon I’ll be sharing workout tips and maybe even some videos in my weekly posts. What do you all think? Would that be something you would be interested in? Also, any questions you have about fitness or health, feel free to email me at savvysexyself@gmail.com. Even if I don’t have the answer, I have access to the top trainers in the country (they are my co-workers. How awesome is that!?) and I am constantly picking their brains.

One of the first things I’ve learned, and a standard practice for all personal trainers is how to perform a fitness assessment. This includes testing blood pressure, body fat percentage, endurance and functional movement exercises to note imbalances and weaknesses. What this does is give us a clear picture of where each client is starting from so that we can create an effective, personalizedĀ  plan for them to reach their goals.

I couldn’t help realizing the similarities between a fitness assessment and my top tip for financial health.

I got a lot of enthusiastic feedback about my firstĀ  money post, and I’ve been wanting to do a follow-up post.

To recap briefly, the most important step to financial health is looking at where your finances are right now. How much money are you spending each month versus how much you are earning? What percentage of your spending is going towards rent, groceries, entertainment etc? How much debt do you have and what percentage are you paying in interest?

It sounds like a full-time job just to manage all of this and find the answers to these questions, but it’s really not. The beauty of the internet is that we have amazing resources at our fingertips so there is really no excuse. Sign up on Mint.com if you haven’t already, let it do the work for you and get familiar with where you are now.

You can’t move forward if you don’t know where you are starting from. It’s that simple.

If you have that step down, excellent! Now we get to talk about emergency funds. Yay, how exciting!

You probably know that you SHOULD have an emergency fund, but do you actually have one?

An emergency fund is different than a savings account. An emergency you don’t touch unless there is, well, an emergency. A general rule is to have 3-6 months of income saved up in case you lose your job. This is also where your risk comfort level comes into play. Do you feel uncomfortable with 6 months? Maybe 8 months feels better. Do you have a job that would take longer to replace?

What if you have debt that you feel you have to pay off first? In that case, aim to put $1,000 into an emergency fund. Leave it there and then go tackle your debt. Once you are in a good place, come back to your emergency fund and build up to 3-6 months worth. If you are wondering how I came up with this technique, I didn’t. Dave Ramsey, personal money-management expert has used it to get countless people out of debt.

You want to keep your emergency fund liquid, meaning somewhere you can get to it quickly. I keep mine in an online account that earns a tiny amount of interest, (bank interest rates are virtually non-existent these days though you can find some that offer 1-2%). If I need the money I just transfer it over to my checking account. It being online makes me feel like it is separate from my checking and savings, so I never feel tempted to dip into it unless it’s a real emergency.

This is a timely subject because we are coming up on good ol’ tax season. Btw, nothing makes you feel more like an adult than discussing your taxes with your friends, am I right?

So, last year I got a rude punch to the gut when I found out how much I owed back the government. I never owed before. I always received a return, but I knew 2014 would be different and I was prepared for it, I thought. I had asked the other servers and the managers at my restaurant what I should expect to owe and they all said around $1,500-$3,000. Naturally, I hoped for the lower end of that, but when I saw what it really was, I almost choked.

$5,000!

After I had a full-on freak out and realized that this was indeed real, I remembered my emergency fund and thanked my lucky stars that I had enough cushion saved up to pay this enormous sum and put it behind me. I didn’t have to dip into my checking account and I didn’t have to pay it down in increments. It was relatively low stress for what was realistically a high-stress situation.

And, what I learned next shocked me even more than that number up there: no one my age I spoke to said they would be able to pay off that amount. I was baffled to learn that many people don’t even have emergency funds!

Maybe part of it has to do with living in NYC. In a place where getting an apartment without a roommate is a marker of extreme career success and your commute is over an hour because you chose to use your prepaid metro card instead of taking a 20 minute, $20 taxi, I get that saving anything can seem close to impossible.

But, it is possible. It may be hard. You may need to cut down on some indulgences. You may need to start brown-bagging your lunch, but if a 20-something waitress living in NYC can do it, you can do it too. I promise you! And your 20’s is the time to start, if you haven’t already.

This is the foundation. This is your solid financial plan on which to build your wealth. If you skip ahead or leave these steps until “tomorrow”, you will never feel secure and financially strong. You will always be building on sand.

There are so many things I want to share about money:

  • The things you may be doing that you don’t know can hurt your credit
  • Sneaky ways to save without sucking the fun out of life!
  • How to tackle debt when you feel like you are drowning in it
  • How investing doesn’t have to be intimidating. Again, if a 20-something waitress can do it, you can to šŸ˜‰
  • The importance of setting up your own retirement fund, even if your company provides a 401-K.

Would this be something you would be interested in? Any bullet point in particular you want me to cover? Any burning questions you have about money that I didn’t mention above?

Let me know in the comments below. Let’s start talking about money people!

Here’s to your financial health,

With so much love,

Sam

Lightened Up Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

 

cauliflower mac and cheese 6Hi friends,

I’m back this week with my second cauliflower recipe in a row. This veggie just keeps amazing me! Like a baby that learns for the first time where his toes are and it’s the most exciting thing to a new momma, I just can’t stop showing off how incredibly talented and smart cauliflower is.

The winter in NY is really kicking it into full gear. It started a bit late, but we are definitely feeling the cold now. The last week has been all about chili, soup and mac and cheese. Anything to keep warm.

I’m a firm believer in eating for the seasons, and that goes beyond just eating root veggies in the winter and tomatoes in the summer. Where I live and what the season is determines, more often then not, what I eat and how I cook. I prefer to eat cool, crisp, simple meals like salads, gazpacho and raw foods in the summer and warm, slow cooked meals with lots of spices and warming ingredients in the winter.

There’s nothing better than an avocado shrimp ceviche in a tropical climate like Costa Rica. As much as I love it, ceviche would feel totally out of place and not really as satisfying in February during a snow storm.

I am definitely not saying that you should retire the salads until the temperature climbs above 60 degrees, but swapping some of your fresh produce for cooked may help you feel more nourished and satisfied during the colder months. cauliflower mac and cheese 1Warming foods don’t have to be heavy foods either. Roasted vegetables, spaghetti squash instead of pasta, lean meats, broiled fish and broth-based soups are all delicious, warm and hearty options.

Spices such as cayenne, paprika, turmeric and cinnamon are also an easy way to lend warmth to your meals.

Drinking hot water with lemon and ginger is a fantastic start to your morning-it’s both comforting and detoxifying.

And when the cinnamon in your coffee or the turmeric in your scramble is just no match for the sub-zero temperatures and your crappy apartment thermostat, make this mac and cheese. Soul-warming comfort food all the way.cauliflower mac and cheese

I realize that I ask you to trust me a lot on this blog. Do you?

I hope you do, because this mac and cheese is baby-learning-to-crawl incredible.

cauliflowerIf you haven’t figured it out already from the ginormous clue in the picture above, there is cauliflower IN the sauce… (Here’s where we find out if you really do trust me.) Not only is it in the sauce, the cauliflower IS the sauce.

cauliflower pureeAre you still here?

Yay!

Can I tell you that I barely ever make mac and cheese. I’ll eat a few bites here and there at a restaurant, but all of the butter, flour, milk and cheese keeps me from ever making it myself at home.

That changes today!

I had the idea to use cauliflower to replace the bechamel and it worked even better then I thought it would! The result is a lightened up, but still creamy, cheesy, gooey indulgent mac and cheese that wont leave you feeling like you ate a brick.

This mac and cheese is also super customizable. I used gluten-free pasta, not because I follow a gf diet, but because I wanted to experiment for you guys in case any of you do. Surprise number two: gf pasta tastes like regular pasta! I was not expecting that. I’m really glad I tried it and found out. I’ll definitely be cooking with more gf pasta from now on.

I’m also planning more flavor combinations for this mac and cheese. I see a mushroom thyme and smoked gruyere in my very near future.

You can use any cheese you like and the recipe will be vegan if you use a nondairy cheese. I added a bit of bacon crumbled on top. Since I took away a lot of the fat, starch and calories by using cauliflower I figured there was a little wiggle room for bacon. Isn’t there always a little wiggle room for bacon?

Yes. Yes, I think so.

cauliflower mac and cheese 5

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Serves 4-6

1 head of cauliflower (4 loose cups, chopped)

12 oz elbow pasta

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1/2 small onion or 1/4 large onion roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar (I used Cabot Super Sharp)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

salt and pepper

Optional Toppings

For a crunchy crust: 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

To make it extra delicious: 2 slices of bacon

To make it extra cheesy: 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (sprinkle before topping with panko)

For extra flavor: 2 tbsp parmesan cheese

For a kick of heat: as much red chili flakes as you want

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a tbsp of salt. Add cauliflower and cook for 8-10 minutes, just until fork tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cauliflower to a blender. Bring water back up to a boil and add pasta. Cook 1-2 minutes less than package instructs. (It will continue to cook in the oven later)

If adding bacon, cook in a 10 inch oven safe skillet until crispy. Drain off fat (but don’t wipe out pan) and blot bacon with a paper towel. Crumble and set aside. Add onions and garlic to pan with s+p and saute 5 minutes.

To blender, add onions, garlic, mustard, paprika, cheddar cheese and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth, season to taste with s+p.

Drain pasta and rinse with cool water. Add pasta to the skillet and mix in sauce until thoroughly combined. Top with desired toppings and bake for 20 minutes. Serve.

cauliflower mac and cheese 4cauliflower mac and cheese 3I heart you, cauliflower.

 

What is your favorite wintertime comfort food?

Are there any foods you sneak veggies into?

 

With so much love,

Sam