Morning Water

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Health and wellness trends pretty much mean nothing to me. Plain old health and wellness, period, are super important in my world, but it’s trends themselves that I’m skeptical about. I’ve jumped on board to plenty of them in the past (juice cleansing, Bikram yoga, juice cleansing, carb cutting, and juice cleansing, to name a few), but I usually end up burnt out or frustrated or on the verge of insanity (is this normal?) from a lack of results.

Speaking of juice cleanses, if you’ve ever done one, you know what I mean by feeling frustration by the end. There is nothing more downright ANNOYING than depriving your body of solid (beautiful, delicious, decadent) food for three-plus days while drinking fruits and vegetables in the hopes of slimming down and detoxifying your body.

I always came out of a cleanse feeling extra-toxic, ironically, from the hangriness that had been stewing inside me for those few days. Plus, any weight I might have lost by starving myself from real nutrition always came back immediately, and then some…

Because obviously you need to treat yourself with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream for making it through a juice cleanse.

 

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From Vegetarian to… Non-vegetarian: An Entirely Too-Long Post to Answer Your Questions

The question I got for six years: “Why are you a vegetarian?” The new question I’m getting: “So why do you eat meat…now?” 

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Until a couple weekends ago, I’d been a vegetarian for nearly seven years. SEVEN. Actually, I was technically a pescatarian for the majority of the time (which means I still ate seafood but no land or air animals). Occasionally I’d feel pangs of guilt toward sea creatures, though, and would stop eating them, too, but that never lasted long. (I really love sushi.)

Most people didn’t care about my lack of meat-eating — except for friends and family in the Midwest who loved to give me a hard time about it. My paternal grandparents made their living off a pig and livestock farm, for crying out loud! So I was basically an alien to everyone up there.

No one else seemed to mind, though, even my Texan, hunting-loving boyfriend. So when I came to the decision to give up vegetarianism about two weeks ago, I made the choice myself, without outside influence. And — this might seem silly — it was really hard.

I stopped eating meat the day after Thanksgiving when I was a junior in high school after a conversation with my brother’s then-girlfriend about her refraining from eating meat products. She told me it was weirdly easy for her to give up, which made me think, Maybe I can do that. I’ve always been a crazy animal lover (can you tell?), and didn’t eat meat too often to begin with, except for occasional burgers or bacon or chicken. I figured it was okay to not be eating most of those foods, anyway, so I quit meat cold turkey.

Except for the first month — when I’d have days I REALLY wanted an In N’ Out burger — it was mostly easy for me to stop eating meat. Sure, certain things would smell good, but never good enough for me to need to try them.

I’ve also always had issues with self control around food, too, so I think this was a way for me to taper certain cravings in a healthy way. Instead of ordering the cheeseburger and fries at a restaurant, I had to get the vegetable dish. It was a dietary restriction that didn’t feel too much like a restriction. After all, I could still have ice cream or cheese or bread — you know, all the important nourishments. (We won’t go there with the one time I tried veganism, which ended tragically quickly after two days of torture.)

For once, I had to choose animal-friendly options and consider what I was putting in my body more than I ever did before. Did I have enough protein today? Is this going to keep me full long enough? After a while, I had a routine down, and it was fine. Great, even. It worked well for my life for nearly a decade, but like many routines, it began to get boring.

My boyfriend will tell you I’ve been boycotting any kind of baked, sautéed, or pan-cooked fish for a couple months now. (I think it’s annoyed him since he only had so much to work with when making dinner with me — and I chopped out most of our options by refusing fish.) I’m honestly just tired of it! I still like seafood, but for easy, nutritious weeknight meals, I was running out of ammo. You can only eat baked salmon so many times.

And so, slowly, a few months ago, the idea of eating meat again crept up on me. At 24 years old, I feel more secure in my health habits than I did at 17. I no longer feel like food controls me like it did when I became vegetarian.

And, like everyone, my palette has changed. Things like a chicken salad, which I used to feel indifferent about not eating, now looks freaking amazing. Don’t even get me started with the smell of bacon. (Things other than meat have become alluring in the past few months or year, as well, like olives… Just so we’re clear I haven’t become this ravenous, meat-craving freak or anything.)

But even though my food attitude has improved, and my palette is different, there was still the whole guilt thing to approach. When I told John I started considering eating meat again, he got so excited and asked if he could make my first meaty meal in celebration. That made my stomach turn. I know he was just being sweet: He loves to cook, and I’m sure he’s dreamt about a day when I might eat meat again. But for me, I didn’t want to celebrate my failure of saving animals! (I understand that one person being a vegetarian does little to save animals or negate cruel slaughterhouses, but still, guilt is guilt, and I had it big time.)

I’m still wrestling with that part of it, but for now, I plan on eating grass-fed, ethically-raised, pasture-raised, organic, hormone-free (you get it) meat. At least as much as I can help it. I don’t see myself eating meat at many restaurants, either, unless I know it’s a place that really cares about the quality of its fare. (Side note: if anyone knows the best grocer to get the most ethical and pure meat, please let me know! I’ve only hit up Whole Foods so far.)

There you have it: my weird, entirely too-long story about going from a longtime veggie to a full-blown carnivore, with standards. I’ve had a lot of questions about both choices — the choice to become a vegetarian way back when, and now, the choice to not be one — but if there’s anything I didn’t address, please reach out! I’m happy to answer and open a discussion in the comments below (or email me at audrey@frecklesandfigs.com).

Spicy Roasted Pepper + Ginger Salsa

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Homemade salsa, y’all. Need I say more?

Okay, I’ll say more (since this is practically its own food group in my world). I don’t think I’ve met a salsa I don’t appreciate because, well, how could I? What is there not to appreciate? Blended tomatoes and peppers and onions and whatever else you want to throw in, really: that’s what I call perfection. However, I’ve never made it until this week. That was a major mistake on my part — the not making it until this week — since, oh my goodness, homemade salsa tops all of the salsas. I’m not even tooting my own horn here.

The feeling that comes with making something so tasty, yet so easy, is really insurmountable. I’ve made pico de gallo and guacamole for years, but this is a whole new level, you guys. If you don’t own a food processor, I demand that you go out and get one (or at least borrow one from a friend) and make this rendition of a tangy, mouth-on-fire-in-the-best-way salsa, like, yesterday. Put it on your eggs, dip your (homemade) chips in it, or just spoon it by the mouthful. However you eat it, you won’t be disappointed. And that’s a personal guarantee.

PS! These simple halfway-handmade chip recipe comes straight from my smarty-pants boyfriends’ brain, and I totally recommend it if you want to switch up your chip game. Another personal guarantee from yours truly that you’ll be more than pleased. And you’ll impress anyone you’re selfless enough to share these babies with.

Recipes below!

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Salsa Ingredients:

  • Coconut oil spray
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 serrano pepper
  • 1 habanero pepper (skip this and use less jalapeños in exchange for 1 extra red bell pepper if you want a less spicy mix)
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 3 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 white onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 9 tomatoes on the vine, halved
  • 2 limes, halved
  • 1.5-inch piece of ginger, skins cut off
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • Black pepper and sea salt

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Wash all peppers and place on a coconut oil-sprayed baking sheet with the onion and garlic cloves. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven. Flip all vegetables over.

Arrange tomato halves and lime halves on another baking sheet. Sprinkle with black pepper. (It’s okay if you have to layer some of the tomatoes on top of the first layer if you run out of room.)

Place tomato/lime tray and pepper/onion/garlic tray in oven for 15 minutes. Remove pepper/onion/garlic tray from oven and let cool until touchable (5 minutes or so). Keep tomato/lime tray in oven and turn on broiler.

Add ginger piece to tray and broil tomatoes, lime, and ginger for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven.

Cut stems off peppers. Peel serrano and poblano peppers by scraping a knife against the skins (it should flake off fairly easily).

Remove seeds from inside the red bell pepper and poblano peppers.

Place all vegetables in a food processor and blend as much as you can at a time. Squeeze the broiled lime halves over top of some vegetable you are about to blend. Pour processed veggies in a large bowl, and add more veggies to the processor, blending finely until everything’s been mixed thoroughly. Don’t forget to add the cilantro into the processor with the veggies.

After all’s been blended and poured into the bowl, grind black pepper and sea salt over top and mix salsa with a spoon.

It’ll still be warm from baking, so place bowl in fridge for at least two hours, and then serve!

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Chip Ingredients:

  • 12 pack of 6-inch corn tortillas, each cut into 6 triangles
  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • Juice from half a lime
  • Sea salt (as much as desired — a lot for me!)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix ingredients in a bowl so tortilla pieces are covered with oil, lime juice, and salt. Arrange on baking sheets so that the tortilla triangles lie flat and only barely overlap.

Bake for 10-15 minutes. (Check often after 10 minutes; the doneness depends on your oven and on your preferences. I prefer extra-crispy chips.)

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Noruz Organics Skincare Products For One, For All!

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I am very particular about what I put on and in my body (unless it’s chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream; in that case, I have zero standards and will eat it all). But really, I like to consume as many organic, fair-trade, non-GMO foods and beverages as I can — without breaking the budget, of course — and I prefer my skincare products to be just as wholesome. There is a difference between treating your body with natural nutrients and products versus pumping yourself with harmful chemicals. You can feel the difference, and you can see it.

That’s why I was so excited to partner up with Noruz Organics. It’s a Dallas-based, organic (as the name implies) skincare company whose products are so good for your skin while also making it feel like its dreamiest version. Trust me. I got to sample two scrubs, the Cinnamon Sugar Scrub and the Green Tea Scrub. I used the latter on my face two to three times a week, and my skin felt significantly refreshed afterward. Green tea is an antioxidant, and antibacterial (good, especially, if you’re prone to breakouts like I am), and it soothes the skin while reducing inflammation. Love.

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I used the Cinnamon Sugar Scrub, which by the way smells like the best coffee cake you’ve ever tasted, on my entire body. Not only did I smell like a Yankee Candle every time I used it, I also sloughed away dead skin on my whole body while the raw sugar moisturized and exfoliated and the cinnamon restored suppleness. It’s just as heavenly as it sounds.

The best part is that you won’t find one lick of chemicals in any of Noruz’s products. It’s all organic essential oils, vitamins, and herbs that moisturize, scrub, and anti-age your skin to its most luminous state. Like, where was this stuff in my adolescent, horrible skin-awkward stage? Next on my list to try is the Coffee Scrub, for the obvious reason that I would love to smell like coffee all day, and also because coffee beans help with cellulite and evenness of skin tone. (I’m not too high and mighty to admit that I could use some more help with each of those.)

Enough bragging about my experiences with these fun skincare products. I want y’all to try them out, too! Go to NoruzOrganics.com to browse the rest of their yummy products (they have moisturizers and body butters, too), and get 10% off of your purchase by using the code FRECKLES at check-out!

(Giveaway details below.)

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I’m also hosting a giveaway to win a sample set of all four Noruz Organics scrubs — green tea, coffee, rose petal, and cinnamon sugar — for you AND a friend each on my Instagram! Follow these rules to enter:

  1. Follow me (@frecklesandfigs) and Noruz Organics (@noruzorganics) on Instagram.
  2. Like my Instagram post featuring a photo of me with my Noruz products (posted today).
  3. Tag a beauty-junkie friend who you’d like to get a sample set in a comment on the IG post.
  4. BONUS: repost my photo for an additional entry to win!

Contest ends at midnight central time on Sunday, March 20, and I’ll announce the winner Monday the 21st! Let’s make our skin happy. Good luck!

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