October 2011 / Carmen Varner // Lifestyle Blogger & Social Media + Blogging Coach


Pita Pocket of Perfection

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pita Pocket of Perfection

1 whole wheat pita
1/2 an avocado
1/2 a tomato
1/2 cup spinach
1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts

Add mustard, garlic salt, & pepper to taste.

No directions necessary. This is another easy healthy vegetarian recipe, especially for all the starving college students out there. Take a break from your normal sandwich and give this Pita Pocket of Perfection a try instead! The whole wheat pita tastes fabulous if you warm it up on the stove first. Plus, this pita sandwich packs several veggies in one serving. Spinach is low in calorie and nutrient-dense, including vitamins A and K, fiber, folate, and magnesium.  Normally, I despise tomatoes, but I added a few pieces to mine because I know how good they are for me. I could barely taste it because the amazing avocado invaded my taste buds. Avocados have nearly 20 essential nutrients. Seriously, just add an extra vegetable to your meal and you'll supply yourself with that many more of your daily nutrients. Try it out this healthy vegetarian recipe as soon as possible! Bon Appétit!

pita pocket

pita pocket

5 Tips for Better Living

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Have you been feeling stressed, overwhelmed, fatigued? Are you physically or mentally drained?  It's time to change your day-to-day lifestyle habits! Most of your daily health concerns can be combated with good nutrition and regular exercise. Therefore, the majority of your health is in your hands. The foods we eat, the exercise we don't do, the products we use, all influence our wellness.

These five daily health tips cover aspects of sleep, nutrition, stress, positive thinking, and fitness in order to help you attain your highest level of overall well-being. Health is a balanced concoction of several elements including: physical stamina, smart eating habits, psychological stability, positive social interactions, environmental influences, and even spirituality.

Basically, our physical and mental condition is everything! Only you have the power to keep yourself at an optimal level of health. Read these five simple tips over and you'll be that much further on your journey to wellness. Here's to a happy, long life!

1. Get 7+ hours of sleep

daily functioning
Daily Functioning, itscarmen

If you're one of those people who says: "I work totally fine with like 5 hours of sleep." You're very wrong. As an adult, you need 7-9 hours hours of sleep each night, and people who don't get enough zzz's don't perform as well on mental tasks. It's all too easy to get caught up in the moment: staying up until 4 a.m to cram for that tricky midterm, going to bed at 3 a.m. because you went out with friends, using StumbleUpon until you look at the time and it reads: 2:39 a.m. Yeah, it happens to the best of us, but this is a habit we must break! Sleep is imperative for our daily functioning. If you're sleep deprived, you're more at risk to develop diabetes, heart problems, weight gain, depression or substance abuse. Maybe kids shouldn't be the only ones with a bedtime. Determine what time you have to get up (for school, work, church, social activity, etc.) and count 7-9 hours backward so you can establish when to hit the hay.

2. Eat more earthy foods

earthy foods
Earthy Foods, itscarmen

By earthy foods, I mean food from the earth. The closer it comes from a tree, the better. Well, it doesn't necessarily need to be a tree; it could be from a bush, the ground, a flower, you get the drift. Fruits and vegetables decrease your chances of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer, while increasing your gastrointestinal health and vision. Wow, sounds like a miracle food! Choose natural foods rather than boxed or microwavable goods. Chemicals belong in a lab, not in a body. You are what you eat. Do you want to be monosodium glutamate or powdered beef? I'd rather be a pineapple or maybe a mango.  Next time you go to the grocery store, commit to buying two more types of fruits or veggies.  Experiment with citrus: clementine, orange, tangerine. Buy some berries: blackberry, blueberry, raspberry. Go green: spinach, broccoli, cucumber. You're doing this for yourself, for your health, for your future.

3. Stress less

The Basic Purpose, itscarmen

The first thing you need to know about stress is that it's all a matter of how you perceive a certain situation. Stress can be both good and bad for you. In moderation, this element of pressure can be positive in terms of building character and helping to cope with future experiences. We've all had those crazy, traumatic, stressful events in our life that seemed unbearable at the time, but in the end, we ended up gaining a valuable lesson from. However, stress in excess and over a long period of time is very unhealthy. Problems associated with stress include: headaches, migraines, panic attacks, ulcers, muscle tension, lower back pain. Or worse, stress may increase your risk of heart disease, or high blood pressure. In times of stress remember to: stop, drop, and roll.
  • Stop fretting and start changing your attitude. 
  • Drop everything you're doing and take a moment to step back and breathe.  
  • Roll with the punches and learn from the every day trials and tribulations of life.

4. Think positive

Never Give Up!, itscarmen

Positive thinking and stress are correlated. A positive attitude can help relieve stress, increase your lifespan, and better your physical and mental health. Time and time again, I've learned it helps to have an optimistic attitude rather than a negative one. Your outlook doesn't particularly change the outcome of a situation, but it does improve your quality of life. Someone who sees the good in people, places, things, ideas, can live a more colorful and generally happier life. Negative self-talk may result in ruined confidence or poor performance. So really, there are no benefits to thinking negatively, while positive thinking has the power to boost your confidence, lessen your stressin', and help your health. Start putting out those good thoughts!

5. Be active for 30-60 minutes

Moment of Movement, itscarmen

In this world of technology, traffic, and advertisements, it's hard to find the time and motivation to exercise. But you need to do it! Get your body moving in any way, shape, or form. At least 30 minutes of activity each day, lowers your risk of blood pressure and diabetes, maintains your weight, and improves your cholesterol, stamina, and energy. You don't strictly have to hit the gym seven days a week in order to satisfy your daily exercise requirement. Try something new and spice up your fitness regime.  Go on a walk through the park with your dog. Take an instructed fitness class such as cycling, yoga, or Zumba. Go to the beach, run in the sand, wade through the water, boogie board. Just get up and move! Exert energy! Go do something!

What did you think? What do you need to work on? Leave a comment below! :]

Up the stairs and all of Athens

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This is Part VI of Journal of my Journeys, a diary of my travels from country to country in summer 2010. To read up on previous entries, here's a handy-dandy guide:

Part IV: Never give up

June 30, 2010
We left Tel Aviv early this morning (4:30 a.m.) and took a taxi to the airport, Ben Gurion Airport. Our flight was at 7:15 a.m. and we flew over to Athens. The flight was a little less than two hours long. We were greeted at the airport by my uncle and were taken to his apartment. I met his wife and son. We had a delicious meal made from Phyllo dough, mushrooms, onions, and cheese. Wow it was fantastic! We took the metro to downtown and walked around. It was busy for being so late at night. There was a lovely view. We walked up the stairs and saw all of Athens.

Skies Over Athens, itscarmen

phyllo dough
Oh So Delish, itscarmen

black warrior
Black Warrior, itscarmen

All of Athens, itscarmen
ancient ruins
I Spy...Ancient Ruins, itscarmen

July 1, 2010
Firstly, I'd like to say that Athens is lovely. Seeing old structures that are older than America is enthralling. I always get a kick out of it, really. However, I haven't seen too much in terms of sights, not yet. Started off the day with bread, jam, cheese, and tea. An ideal breakfast. Then we took the metro downtown to the tourist shop central of Athens. I got a ring with the classic Greek design and worry beads. I was hoping it'd fit as a necklace but it didn't. 

locked in love
Locked in Love, itscarmen

greek ring
The Greek Ring, itscarmen

I counted how many dogs were strolling/sleeping around Athens. The tally is as follows: 9 sleeping dogs, 8 awake dogs. I counted 17 throughout the day. I had gelato (pomegranate and Mamma Mia!; I forgot what flavor the lady said it was supposed to be) and walked all over looking at tourist shops. I hope tomorrow is more eventful.

Starving college student recipe

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

If you're anything like me, you're a very busy bee. You don't have an extra hour to cook a nice meal for yourself, nor do you have the money to purchase an abundance of fancy ingredients and products. You go to school several days a week to broaden your knowledge. You labor for hours on end to earn your dollars. In addition, you have a social life you try your best to maintain. 

Life is busy, but that doesn't mean you have to eat poorly! You want an easy and healthy vegetarian recipe, because you don't want to slave away for an hour in the kitchen. I've come up with a really quick, simple, and healthy recipe for you to enjoy. Always keep in mind that health is in our hands. Since experimenting with veganism, I've been eating noticeably more natural foods. I haven't used the microwave in a couple of weeks. I make everything fresh. And I love it! I feel great.

I was inspired by the items in my refrigerator for this healthy vegetarian recipe. It's fast and boy, is it scrumptious. Try it out!

Soyrizo Surprize
  1/2 package of Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo
1/2 of a green bell pepper
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup shredded carrots 
1/2 cup mushroom

  1. Add soyrizo to a hot pan.
  2. Add everything else.
  3. Mix around.
  4.  Cook for 5-7 minutes on medium heat.
It's literally that easy. The soyrizo has an amazing, slightly spicy taste. It's ideal for any healthy vegetarian recipe, especially breakfast. The veggies add flavor, texture, and vibrant color. The ingredients are fresh. It's something different. You can leave out any vegetable. You can add any vegetable. You can add anything, really. Or you can leave it as is!

This healthy vegetarian recipe takes under 15 minutes to prepare and cook. That's pretty time-friendly for a person who's always on the go.  I make Soyrizo Surprize during my 2-hour long break between classes; then I make tea with my roommate and we watch something quick on Netflix. This recipe is quick, so you can have time for what's truly important in life. It's simple.

"That smells good." -my roommate's friend
"Not only is it so bright and colorful, the spiciness it what really makes it special." -my roommate

Bon appétit!

Happy travels in Haifa

Sunday, October 16, 2011

This is a continuation from Journal of my Journeys, a series of journal entries from the Europe trip I went on last year. I wrote everyday, just as a way to help me remember. I brought a small tape dispenser, a bottle of glue, a brand new journal, and a plethora of colored pens. A trip like that needed proper documentation! Hope you enjoy this or get some inspiration. Happy travels!

June 28, 2010
Today we ate breakfast at 77 (I have realized I've probably been eating  sour cream every day for breakfast...barf). We woke up at 7:45 a.m. and went to Akko until 11:45ish, then explored Akko a little bit more. Luckily, I bought a ring, something I had wanted to get. It was only 15 shekels. I love it!! Looove it! We trekked across Akko trying to explore but it was hot. 

haifa, marketplace
Marketplace of Ideals, itscarmen

We roamed around trying to get a bus back to Haifa and finally, after much time, we found it and got on. Thankfully the bus was rather cool. We went to the mini Panorama mall, bought Magnum 60% dark chocolate ice cream, then chilled at the hostel. I forgot to mention we got fantastic walnut bread and some nutty cheese. The cheese was like a mix of goat and something else. All in all, yummy. We watched parts of a couple soccer games and I ate pizza for dinner.

hawk of haifa
Hawk of Haifa, itscarmen

June 29, 2010
This was our last day in Haifa. We walked around Haifa and found a pretty cool section where we bought delicious pizza with mushrooms, olives, and corn (weird, I know). The crust was soft and fantastic. There was a sweet shop in which we got a few cookies with a sweet rosewater taste. Definitely can't describe it. 

haifa, sweet shop
Sweets Shop, itscarmen

We took a taxi all the way to our hotel in Tel Aviv. It's nice; kitchen, balcony, t.v. We checked out the beach and it had an excerise area. Pretty neat. I collected seashells again. The water was so warm!  I can't believe the warmness of water at the Mediterranean. I also found a key and a hairpin. I like collecting souvenirs. I suppose that's all.

tel aviv
Tel Aviv Film Nite, itscarmen

No flaws, all is divine

Friday, October 07, 2011

A Divine Masterpiece, itscarmen, 2011

These saintly creations are a perfect vision. Here there are no flaws, all is divine, a masterpiece. I inhale the landscape with all my senses. A sweetness enters my lungs--it's a mixture of fresh air, chirping seagulls, and a million living organisms.

Shift Your Focus, itscarmen, 2011

I understand at this instant, in all the time that has ever passed, that even at my loneliest hour, the spirit and soul of every life form which ever existed bonded as a united force, to create me. I am daughter to Mother Nature and Father Time. I have no future for I'll be alive for always.

Peace & Incense, itscarmen, 2011

I peer at my shadow, my hair waves and greets the rushing air. I stop for the last time and smell the roses. I wish I could bottle the scent and keep it with me for eternity. Instead I pluck one petal from its perfect form and lock it in my mind.


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