THIS BLOG HAS BEEN MOVED

Hello to all my readers! I just wanted to inform you guys that my blog has moved to an official domain (BlackZenMama.com). Awesome right?!  I want to thank you all for being with me on my journey and I hope that we will continue this journey together over at the new domain. Click the link or photo below to visit. See you there!

-bzm

Click Here To Visit

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What Mama Cookin: Easy Butternut Squash Soup

One of my favorite things about the Fall season are the chilly nights outside. Sitting on the front porch wrapped in a cozy blanket with a cup of hot cocoa is my idea of a dream “mini getaway”. I’ve been so excited to try some new Fall themed recipes and this one is sure not to disappoint you!

This butternut squash soup is super easy to make because it doesn’t require that many ingredients and it’s so delicious. You’ll love it! The original recipe comes from the blog “My Cooking Hut” and I will post the link below so that you can check out their awesome site. (:

What You Will Need:

– 1 butternut squash

– 1 white onion, chopped (I used pre-cut onions from the grocery store to save time)

– 2 medium russet potatoes

– 2 tbsp of olive oil (I used canola oil)

– 1 litre of vegetable stock

– salt and pepper

 Instructions:

– Peel butternut squash and potatoes with vegetable peeler or a really sharp knife

* I didn’t have a veggie peeler and my knives didn’t meet the requirements for this job so instead I cut my squash in half, placed in a baking pan with a little water and roasted it in the oven for about 15 minutes. The skin peeled right off! 

– Chop butternut squash, onion and potatoes into cubes

– Heat up a large pot or skillet with oil of your choice. Add in onions and cook until soft.

– Add in chopped squash and potatoes. Cook for about a minute, stirring vegetables occasionally.

– Add in vegetable stock and simmer for 30 minutes.

– Transfer vegetables from pot to blender and puree until smooth.

– Season with salt and pepper

As you can see from the picture above, I served my soup with wheat thin crackers and it made for the perfect combination-I highly recommend it! I will also add that my soup turned out a little thick but I prefer it this way so if you want to avoid thick soup add in water to help make it thinner. Check out the original recipe here.

Want more soup meal ideas? Then check out my Pinterest board on all things soups and stews. Smiles and hugs!

-bzm

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Strawberry Pineapple Spinach Smoothie Recipe

Smoothie Deliciousness!

Strawberry Pineapple Spinach Smoothie

Love smoothies? I know I do. This smoothie has just about everything in it and it’s so friggin’ delicious!

Here’s what I used:

– 2 celery hearts
– 5 organic strawberries
– a bunch of fresh pineapple chunks
– a handful of spinach leaves
– 1/3 of a banana
– a big splash of unsweetened coconut milk

Instructions:

– Blend, blend, blend all the ingredients in a blender

– And enjoy your smoothie deliciousness!

Now, of course you can play around with this recipe and if you do please let me know!

Smiles and Hugs!!

-bzm

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Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Sandwich {Adapted Recipe}

Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Sandwich

Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Sandwich

So who doesn’t need quick, healthy lunch ideas? I love this one that I adapted from the Two Peas and Their Pod blog.

Mommies and foodies alike, you must check out this UH-mazing food blog! They have some of the easiest and mouth-watering recipes you just have to try!

What You Will Need:

– 1 ripe avocado

– 1 can of garbanzo beans

– spinach leaves

– sandwich bread of your choice

– lime juice

– cilantro

– salt and pepper

– a bowl

– a fork

Instructions:

– Open can of garbanzo beans and drain in a strainer (I kept the skin on my beans)

– Transfer beans to bowl and mash with fork

– Add in avocado, cilantro and lime juice (I added lemon juice instead and didn’t use cilantro)

-Season with salt and pepper to your liking

-Mix it all together

-Spread that awesome yumminess onto bread (I chose Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread)

– Top with spinach leaves

Easy, peasy right!? You could even mix in classic hummus with the avocado to really save time! *I think I will try that next time for my one-year old*

Smiles and Hugs!

-bzm

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Fitness Friday Inspiration: Colleen Novotny

Today’s fitness inspiration comes from a busy mom of three kids (ages 10, 18 and 19). I had the pleasure of “meeting” her on my Instagram page about a month ago. Her enthusiastic attitude about everything health and fitness is so addictive! Colleen’s high energy emits from the screen and I’m amazed at how she stays so fit at age forty-two! She’s been so supportive of me on my road to better health and I’m more than happy to share her awesome story. Please enjoy! 

Meet Colleen Novotny!

Meet Colleen Novotny!

BZM: How did you start your weight loss journey?

Colleen: I’ve always loved fitness every since the age of sixteen; running on the beach was my favorite thing to do. After having three babies my body changed and although I was going to the gym three days a week, I wasn’t seeing any real changes being made.

A friend introduced me to [the workout DVD] Turbofire and Insanity!! I lost ten pounds and got my pre-pregnancy weight back! It was tough but worth it; Beachbody changed my life.

BZM:  You mentioned the term ‘Beachbody’ and you’re a  Beachbody coach. What is that exactly?

Colleen: A Beachbody coach is someone who wants to make a difference in people’s lives. I host free support groups, use the [Beachbody] products and share what has worked for me. People need to know that they are NOT alone in their fitness/weight loss journey. I get to work from home, get paid weekly and I’m surrounded by positive, like minded people. 

BZM: Wow, that’s amazing! Describe yourself using one word. Why?

Colleen: Wacky!!! I am not your average mommy. I love to be silly, have fun, dance, laugh and be different. It keeps me young!

BZM: So, what is your main tip(s) for losing weight?

Colleen: It’s so easy! Exercise thirty minutes a day, six times a week doing cardio and use weights with your workouts. Eat lots of healthy foods and stay away from the pantry; nothing healthy is in there usually!

BZM: Do you believe in cheat meals? If so, what is your favorite?

Colleen: I do cheat bites daily. For example when my family orders nachos at our fave Mexican restaurant, I will have several bites of them. I could never order a whole cheat meal but that’s just me. We all work hard and deserve a cheat; as long as you do this once a week and exercise hard the rest of the week, you should be OK.

BZM: Any last words of motivation?

Colleen: Do it for YOU! Be your biggest motivator and don’t look at others or compare yourself to them. It’s you verses you!! Remain consistent; it takes four weeks to see a good change and eight weeks for others to notice. Most people give up too soon but you have to STICK WITH IT by finding a workout you actually enjoy. I have many [workouts] for all type of people that I can recommend. Write your goals on sticky notes and post them everywhere!!

BZM: How can others reach you (Twitter, Facebook ,etc)?

Colleen: You can reach me at the following:

Personal Email: leanwithcolleen@yahoo.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/colleen.novotny.3

Instagram: http://instagram.com/colleennovotny

Website: http://www.teambeachbody.com/colleennovotny

 

-bzm

 

 

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Fitness Friday Inspiration: Aretha Taggart

After having baby number two, I became determined more than ever to achieve optimal health. I started searching for ways to kick start my journey by reaching out to like minded individuals in my community for support. I’m so happy my paths crossed with an amazing woman by the name of Aretha. I met Aretha via Facebook and was awed at her vibrant personality. She’s a wife of eighteen years, a mom to five children, full time student and a Zumba instructor! She’s been such a huge inspiration to me and I know she will be one for you as well. 

Meet Aretha Taggart!

Meet Aretha Taggart!

BZM:  How did you start your weight loss journey?

Aretha: I’d received my yearly physical exam at the doctor’s office and wasn’t happy with the results. My doctor recommended that I start exercising thirty minutes a day and that’s exactly what I did. I started with cardio exercises then added in strength training; I also attended Zumba classes at a nearby gym (Rise & Shine Fitness in Boston, MA). Later on I hired a personal trainer to help me with nutrition and diet control.

BZM: You mentioned attending Zumba classes as part of your weight loss regime. Now, you’re a Zumba instructor (and one of the best in the city, might I add)! How did you make the decision to become one?

Aretha: Thank you for that compliment, I appreciate it! Zumba was my favorite thing to do at the gym; I loved it. My [then] instructor encouraged me to become one as well and I thought about it before making my decision. I surprised her by becoming a licensed instructor and started a fitness program at my church called ‘Faith Fitness’ in Boston. I’ve never looked back since then.

BZM: Nice! Describe yourself using one word. Why?

Aretha: It’s interesting you asked this question. I guess if I had to pick one word it would be giving because I love to give priceless gifts to people (i.e. quality time, encouragement).

BZM: What is your main tip for losing weight?

Aretha: Coming from experience, my main tip would be prayer. I’ve always prayed before my workout sessions and still pray for my students before hosting a Zumba class. I believe that God will give us strength to do anything. We have a responsibility to take care of our temples and maintain our health.

BZM: Do believe in “cheat meals”? If so, what is your favorite?

Aretha: No, not necessarily. I look at cheat meals from a life perspective; you must have balance. If you are trying to reach a weight goal then it’s best to refrain from all unhealthy foods. However, once you reach your weight goal and have learned how to properly maintain your weight then it’s okay to have the occasional piece of fried chicken. (:

BZM: Any last words of motivation?

Aretha: I’m a wife of eighteen years, mom to five kids [was a stay-at home mom for sixteen years], full time student, and a Zumba instructor. You have to make time to exercise and take small steps to reach your weight/fitness goals. Learn your body and know what works best for you. I still set fitness goals for myself and thanks to my trainer Corey Ellis at Resolution Fitness in Montgomery, AL I know that I will meet them.

An added weight loss tip: Strength conditioning exercises will help you shed fat faster so incorporate them with cardio and you will reach your weight goal much quicker.

BZM: How can others reach you (Twitter, Facebook ,etc)?

Aretha: If you’re local, check out my Facebook group ‘Zumba Fitness With Aretha’. I post class schedules and it’s a place where my students can communicate with one another.

 

 

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Momspiration: Author Joi Miner {Vices Cover Reveal}

I’ve been blessed to meet so many inspirational women in my life. Moms that take care of their families and are entrepreneurs as well truly motivate me to never stop dreaming. I’m passing on the inspiration in hopes that it will offer encouragement to you and ultimately bring some light into your life.

My first ‘Momspiration’ interview comes from Joi Miner. Joi is a working mom, wife, full-time student, owner of Poetic Advisory LLC and a published author! I’m totally excited because she has allowed BlackZenMama™ to reveal the cover of her first fiction novel entitled, ‘Vices’.  Keep reading to find out more about Joi and her upcoming project!

Published Author Joi Miner

Published Author Joi Miner

BZM: You’re a working mom, wife and [full-time] student. What’s your most favorite thing to do for yourself?

Joi: I love to read and write; they are the ultimate escape. Writing gives you that release from all of the pinned up stress and frustration that we supermoms often bottle up. Reading allows you to escape your reality, even if just for a little while. You can be somewhere and someone else; it makes reality bearable.

BZM: When did you know that you were destined to be a writer?

Joi: I have always loved to write, but I think I realized I was meant to do more with my writing when I started to get paid to write poems for my classmates in middle and high school. My high school Creative Writing teacher once accused me of plagiarism because she claimed that my writing was too good to have been written by a senior. I took her accusation as motivation and dedicated my first poetry collection to her.

BZM: What was the best advice you have received as a writer?

Joi: The best writing advice that I have ever received was to never take writing advice. Everyone is different; no one can tell you how to be your most original self.

BZM: You recently finished writing your first [erotic] fiction novel! Yay!! Tell us a little about your book. 

Vices is an erotic drama. The main character, Bonnie Jones, takes you along her journey to rediscovering herself after leaving an abusive marriage. You witness her get into some very interesting fixes, get her heart broken, and find herself massaging away the pain and case of the “lonelies”with her vice of choice, sex.

Vices is what I like to call “autobiographical fiction.” It’s my life with a little bit extra thrown into it. It’s a very raw story, but I feel like it’s relatable. We all have been where Bonnie is or know someone who has.

It’s my first novel and was picked up for publication by Nayberry Publications. It’s set to be released on October 31st of this year, my 33rd birthday. (Gasp, I just told you my age)

BZM: Nice! I know you to be an excellent writer, poet and friend. Tell me something I don’t know about you. 

Joi: I would say that I’m a geek. A Star Wars fanatic, science loving, nerdy laughing goofball of a geek. (Oh well, now the secret’s out lol)

BZM: What advice can you give other mamas that have a dream that they want to make reality?

Joi: Don’t quit. Being a mommy causes us to put ourselves, our appearance, and our dreams and desires on the backburner. But you have to keep something for yourself or you will lose who y0u are and you won’t be any good to anyone. If you want to write a cookbook, write a blog, design clothes, paint, sing, dance, whatever, find the time to do it. Steal a few moments and do something just for you.

It may take longer than others (it took me 8 years to finish Vices) but you will get it done. We are all given superpowers when we become mothers, one of them is the ability to stretch time or create it where it otherwise may not exist. Use your powers for you, just like you do your little ones.

BZM: How can others reach you and learn more about your upcoming project (Twitter, Facebook ,etc)?

Official website: http://www.joiminer.com

Instagram: @joihen

Twitter: @joiminer

Facebook Fanpage: http://www.facebook.com/joiminer2

Personal Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/joiminer

Also visit my publisher, Nayberry Publications’ website and Facebook page:

http://www.nayberrypublications.com

https://www.facebook.com/nayberrypublications

 

Vices will be available October 31, 2014 on Amazon, Joiminer.com and NayberryPublications.com. Preorders are available as of today! If you are interested in preordering ‘Vices’ please comment below so that the link can be provided. 🙂 

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What Mama Cookin’? {Stuffed Acorn Squash}

I have a thing for squash lately and wanted to share this super easy recipe because well, I’m awesome like that (smile). Don’t have alot of time to spare in the kitchen? Want to prepare a filling and healthy meal for you and the fam? I got you covered.  Introducing: Stuffed Acorn Squash.

What You Will Need: 

–  Medium acorn squash

– A large kitchen knife

– A large spoon

– Cutting board (optional)

– Medium sized frying pan

– Aluminum foil

– Boca veggie “meat” crumbles

– Daiya shredded cheddar cheese

– Olive oil

Instructions: 

– Prepare your “stuffing” by browning meat crumbles in pan with oil of your choice on medium heat.

– Once meat is done cooking, sit pan off to the side.

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

– Wash acorn squash with luke warm water to rid any residue and pat dry with towel.

– Take large knife and cut the top of squash off.

– Take your spoon and scoop out seeds. It should look something like this:

– Pour a little olive oil in your hands and rub the inside and outside of the squash.

– Next, take your spoon and stuff the squash with cooked “meat” crumbles.

– Add the shredded cheese on top. (I actually layered the cheese and meat crumbles so I alternated between the two until squash was fully stuffed)

– Wrap with aluminum foil and place squash on bottom rack. (I don’t use a baking pan because I find that the squash cooks better without one)

– Cook squash for 30 minutes and dinner will be served!

SUPER easy, right? Now, the prep time may be longer if you are preparing for a larger family but once those bad babies are in the oven, you’re good to go! You can experiment and stuff your squash with whatever veggies your family likes to eat. Some good ones are: rice, lentils, and corn kernels.

Let me know how it turns out for you! Smiles and hugs!

-bzm

 

 

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Spanking Ain’t Cool: A Southern Black Mom Speaks

There seems to be so much hype and controversy over the Adrian Peterson child abuse case that as a Black gentle parent, I only felt compelled to write this piece.  The following words are entirely in my opinion and aren’t meant to offend anyone. 

~

Photo Credit: Google Images

I’m a young Black woman and I’m from the South so the news of Adrian Peterson spanking or “whooping” (as we say here in the South) his four-year old son isn’t something new to me. Our culture has (sadly) embraced the theory that spanking a child helps them become better people in our society when in fact they couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has found that, “the use of physical punishment to discipline children has been linked to a range of mental health problems” not only that but experts on the Psych Central blog tell us that “it can damage a child’s self-esteem, affect their learning ability and teach them that violence solves problems” among many other things.

My husband and I agreed early on in our marriage that we wanted to break several traditions when it came down to the way we would parent our kids. Spanking was number one on our list; it got us strange looks from our parents but its our ultimate decision and that’s all that matters.

As a young child, I didn’t receive many spankings but remember being very confused as to why I received them when I did. Around the age of twelve, I started to receive verbal abuse from an uncle and once physically fought my mom. After our fight, my mom took on a more relaxed approach to her parenting style because she realized that hitting a child doesn’t work. Never has and never will.

I know a great deal of my peers who received “whoopings” and only rebelled worst against their parents; it’s human instinct to react in this way however the vicious cycle continued. These same peers suffer from severe emotional instability in their adulthood and some treat their kids the same way. Again, the vicious cycle continues.

I feel bad for Adrian and ultimately his son because 1) the parent is unaware of alternative and effective methods of discipline and 2) the child can’t fully comprehend why he was treated the way he was. Parenthood in no form or fashion is easy and there aren’t any shortcuts to making it easier.

As a Black mom of two, my goal is to break the vicious cycle that I was once apart of. It’s challenging being a gentle parent but as far as I’m concerned, it’s worth it.

-bzm

Links:

http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/Spanking-Linked-to-Mental-Illness.aspx

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/08/16/why-shouldnt-you-spank-your-kids-heres-9-reasons/

http://www.handinhandparenting.org/article/whats-the-problem-with-spanking/

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What Mama Cookin’? {Baked Italian Zucchini}

So, I’m back with a recipe that is sure to delight your taste buds. I absolutely love sharing photos on Instagram (I mean, who doesn’t?) but what I love the most is connecting with other people who are not only positive but are foodies just like I am! Sharing recipes has become my addiction; this one comes from a user on IG who was so kind to share it with me and now I’m sharing it with you!

It doesn’t have a name so I formally named it Baked Italian Zucchini. Sounds appropriate and you’ll see why. *wink*

Baked Italian Zucchini Slices

Baked Italian Zucchini Slices

What You’ll Need: 

– 2 medium zucchini

– Italian seasoning

– Olive Oil

– Parmesan cheese

– Marinara sauce

Instructions: 

– Preheat your oven to about 350 degrees

– Slice zucchini into halves

– Lightly oil the front sides of your squash

– Season with Italian seasoning

– Place zucchini slices into oven on a baking pan front side up for 15 minutes

– Take slices out of oven and sprinkle cheese over the top (my fave part!)

– Place slices back into oven on broil for about 2 minutes or until cheese has melted

– And BAM! Dinner is served! You can bring on the marina sauce at this point and ENJOY yourself!

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