One Skillet Turkey Sweet Potato Dinner

Hey friends! I’ve been in quarantine for over seven weeks, and have been cooking up some delicious meals I find on Pinterest or Google! I should have shared all of my creations, but I haven’t done that because a lot of recipes I’ve followed very closely to their original, and didn’t want to take credit for someone else’s meal. This recipe, however, I doctored and cooked differently than the original recipe directed. I also added a few ingredients to expand the taste, so I wanted to share what I created. It was a hit with my family and very easy to make!

You will need:

1 lb ground turkey (93-99% lean)

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 white onion, diced

4 cloves minced garlic

2 large sweet potatoes diced (or 3 cups worth)

4 tablespoons of olive oil (two for the pan, and two for the potatoes)

1 tbsp fresh rosemary

1/2 cup of shredded low-fat mozzarella

1 tsp chilli powder

1.5 tbsp cumin

2 tsp Soul Seasoning (you can buy this online here)

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

*Optional* 1 and 1/2 tsp of chopped parsley, cilantro, or chives – your choice

To begin, mix your diced sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Toss until coated. On a parchment paper lined cookie tray, roast the potatoes at 400° farenheit for 25 min.

Next, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a 12 in cast iron skillet. Add garlic and let the skillet and garlic get hot and fragrant about 3-4 min. Add ground turkey. Cook on medium heat until no pink shows 6-8 min.

Add cumin, chilli powder, red pepper flakes, and soul seasoning to season the turkey. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then add your small diced onion and yellow pepper. Let the onions cook until they’re translucent.

Now this is where your preference plays a role in your cook time. If you want your potatoes crispier, you can add a few tbsp of water to meat mixture to avoid the meat drying out as you wait for the taters to crisp up. You can lower the heat on the stove top while you wait. But I found the potatoes were cooked and somewhat crisp after around 25 min.

After potatoes are finished, immediately transfer them into the meat skilled and mix everything together. Top with your mozzarella cheese, and then take the whole skillet and stick it in the oven. Set the oven to BROIL for 1.5 min to brown and melt the cheese.

Take the skillet out of the oven, and top with chopped parsley or chives or cilantro! Or serve plain! Your choice!

Serve immediately and enjoy 😉

The end result is savory with a little kick of heat at the end, but the sweetness of the potatoes offsets the spice. It’s SO good, and low-fat!! I served this with corn muffins as a side, and it was very filling to feed my family of four (mom, dad, brother, and myself!). If you have a larger family, you can definitely double the recipe and cook it in two skillets or one larger pan!

I hope if you try this recipe, you enjoy it! Enjoy your meals with your families and loved ones, and stay healthy and safe!

Xoxo

Gluten-Free Protein Pancakes

Hey loves! I wanted to share a yummy recipe for all my quarantine-folk who want to try something different for breakfast! These gluten-free protein pancakes are also vegan because I use a vegan protein powder and unsweetened coconut milk, but feel free to use whey protein and dairy milk if you so choose!

The recipe is fairly simple, and you can doctor it to your liking. I add frozen blueberries to mine, and mix in half of a mashed banana, and slice the other half of the banana on top when they’re done. I’ve added chia seeds in the batter as well for even more protein, but you can also just add them on top afterwards for texture.

For this recipe, you will need:

2 scoops of protein powder
(I used 1 scoop of vanilla and 1 scoop of chocolate Arbonne protein powder which you can buy here)
1/4 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
2 tablespoons of almond flour
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 egg whites
Optional toppings You can add whatever kind of fruit, seed, or sweetener, like maple syrup or honey! Feel free to mix any kind of nut butter in the batter, or spread it on top! Yum!

Mix all ingredients and add-ins in a bowl. I add a spread of coconut oil into a non-stick pan and cook the pancakes until they are light brown on both sides and not liquidy on the inside. You’ll be able to tell by taking a spatula and pressing down gently on the pancake. If nothing spills out, the inside is cooked.

The texture of these pancakes will not be a normal pancake texture. They’re a little softer/squishier, and less “cakey” than their traditional, glutinous counterparts. They’re still delicious, and keep me full for hours! This recipe yields about 4 silver dollar sized pancakes. Perfect single serving!

If you try this recipe, I hope you enjoy it! Any and all variations will probably turn out perfect! Stay healthy and happy my friends! ✌️

Xoxo

Why You Shouldn’t Compare Your Body to an “Instagram Fitness Model”

Hi everyone,

In wake of my Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living, I’m inspired to write this piece about the importance of recognizing what we see on the internet as staged, superficial, and anti-reality. I wanted to write this article a while back, but because it is January and this month “diet culture” becomes synonymous with “New Year’s Resolutions”, I want everyone to keep some things in mind while they strive for their 2020 goals – specifically if they are related to health and fitness.

Also as a disclosure – this article is in no way shaming men and women who are dedicated to health and fitness, and/or those who make their business/money from that online. This is for all hard-working people who care deeply about their health and physical fitness, who feel they cannot “live-up” to the standards they see on social media.

Let’s get one thing straight – Instagram is a galaxy of humans young and old wanting to display their BEST selves to all of their peers, colleagues, and family members. Yes, people post for themselves, but deep down people post for validation for the things they are doing. As a member of this generation, I don’t see anything wrong with it. Social media has completely changed the course of online marketing, business, and self-promotion. If I have a great photo of myself, or something I did, ate, drank, saw – I will probably post it somewhere online.

That being said, do I ever post photos of myself I feel ugly in? Of course not. Do I untag myself from friends’ photos I don’t like of myself? Of course I do. No one wants to be seen in their “worst light”. I will add, a lot of the time we are all our own worst critics, so many times what we feel is “ugly”, we don’t actually look ugly. However, the point is, people post the best version of themselves online. And there is nothing wrong with doing that.

Nonetheless, the greatness of social media comes with a sleu of other issues. Seeing everyone’s best version of themselves online every day, at any time of the day can become mentally and emotionally exhausting. It can make you feel like you’re not “doing enough” or “being enough” – either for others, or even yourself. Being recovered from anorexia, I see my favorite dancers and fitness professionals online everyday and think to myself,

“I am not doing as much as their doing. That’s why I haven’t reached their level of success.”

Or their level of beauty. Or their level of fitness, technicality, etc.

It makes me feel terrible if I don’t keep my thoughts in check – If I don’t sit back and take a second to recognize that these images and videos I am seeing are not that person 24/7. No one can uphold the “Instagram standard” every day, 24 hours a day, every day of the week. We are all human and we are all FLAWED (physically, emotionally, mentally – in all capacities). And flaws can be and are beautiful too.

Here is an example. Before I started my 30 Days to Healthy Living, here is an image I took of myself on Snapchat immediately following a HIIT workout.

The image depicts me at a moment where I felt “fit”, at an angle where I felt “showed off” my body in a great way. I had compression pants on and felt put together. The lighting was good, and photo editing apps make filtering the photo to be more appealing really simple and easy.

Is that what my body looks like all the time? No. Now here are some images of me first thing in the morning, before I ate anything, PMSing, hadn’t worked out in three days.

I took these images the first day I started my cleanse last week. These photos were snapped three weeks after the gym photo – totally unrelated to each other. These photos of me I do not like. I wouldn’t really think to post them anywhere because I do NOT like the way I appear in them. Also, you’d think if these were a “before and after” shot, the more recent photos would be first and the gym photo would be most recent.

Reality is – a good angle and good lighting can make anyone appear “better”. Im also not being self-deprecating. I love my body, and I’m a firm believer that muscular definition wouldn’t appear in photographs if it wasn’t truly there. Meaning, the main way to look muscular is to have muscle. So if you see muscular definition, it’s because it’s there. That being said, good lighting and nice filtering can enhance the definition of our muscles or our appearance. We can smooth out fine lines/wrinkles, shrink waistlines, make our skin appear tanner or fairer, etc. Heck, I even increased the color saturation on these photos before I put them into this article!

So next time you’re scrolling through Instagram and see your favorite dancers, athletes, models, whoever – remember their life is not always that glamorous. It is not always picture perfect, with a friend on standby ready to snap gorgeous “candid” photos of you at your best angles in your best light. Instagrams are carefully curated by each owner, and they are meant to display us “living our best lives”.

Wherever you are in your journey – of life, fitness, health, and your goals – you are exactly where you are supposed to be. You are ENOUGH, and no one is uniquely like you, even if their Instagram makes you feel like you’re not in the gym enough/working hard enough. Comparison is the killer of all dreams, and never compare yourself to others because of what you see. Everything online is surface level.

Xoxo

My Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living Cleanse

Happy New Year beautiful people!

2020 is here, and it is a fresh decade! New beginnings are all around us! I wanted to share with you I recently joined Arbonne as an Independent Consultant, and will be completing their 30 Days to Healthy Living cleanse for the month of January! I’ve been debating on whether or not I wanted to invest in this cleanse since August. However, recent problems with my health and my stomach have inspired me to finally dive in.

My goals for this cleanse are to reset my gut health, reduce my bodily inflammation (hopefully helping the health issues I am dealing with), cut back on my dependency on sugar/coffee, sleep better, and reduce my anxiety. I also would like to lose about 5 pounds.

All of the symptoms and health conditions I’ve been dealing with, the 30 Days cleanse targets to resolve. The cleanse is supposed to reduce symptoms and signs of physical toxicity. Physical Toxicity is the state in which the body accumulates toxins from the different foods and alcohols we consume. These toxins build-up in the gut, and over time cause the body to be in a state of physical toxicity. The symptoms can include/are not limited to some or all of the following:

Acne/skin issues, bloating, insomnia, anxiety, inflammation, nausea, mood swings, PMS, difficulty concentrating, difficulty losing weight, brain fog, bad breath, low energy, headaches/migraines, fatigue.

Arbonne discusses the cleanse as a “cellular reset” – unclogging the “kitchen sink”- the “kitchen sink” being your gut. The cleanse eliminates inflammatory foods and food groups and sugar, and supplements your diet with clean protein (no sugar, gluten, dairy, animal byproducts, soy, or GMOs) and clean caffeine replacements; increases your fiber intake; and detoxifies your gastrointestinal tract.

They provide all of the nutritional products and supplements (you can choose your flavors), and provide you with support the entire 30 days. You’re given recipes, meal preparation tips, food shopping lists, tips for maintaining the cleanse while you travel, or if you go out to eat. You’re even added to a Facebook group with other women and men who are doing this month’s challenge with you, so if you don’t have a partner to do the cleanse with in real life, you have an online support system. The Facebook group is monitored by a registered dietician who can also help answer any questions you might have.

I spent only $222 (with free shipping!) for this cleanse (that’s the price as an Independent Consultant), and was also gifted over $200 of free products for signing up. I am trying two of their skincare products (their RE9 Facial Cleanser and RE9 Nightly Resurfacing Pads), their Metabolism Support powder, and will receive a free gym bag. I am most excited to try their protein out! I haven’t found a clean, vegan protein powder that was affordable in a long time.

I am looking forward to eating clean and feeling better in 2020, and I have a really good feeling this cleanse will help me and help my health issues that are not getting better.

I will be taking progress pictures along to the way, so stay tuned for a follow-up!

If you are interested in the cleanse, you can take a peak at my shop which I will link below. If you have ever completed the 30 Days to Healthy Living, I would love to hear your feedback and results.

http://juliaobrien.arbonne.com

xoxo

Long2 Final Showcase and My First Solo Performance

Hi beauties!

If you recall, around this time last year I was invited to join a second company in NYC. Our season ran from October 2018 until March 13, 2019 (last week), and I wanted to share some photos and thoughts about that experience.

Related: My First NYC Dance Job Starts This Fall! (2018)

Photography Credit: Marisa Augustine
Alvin Ailey Studios February 27

Long2 is the second company to Vanessa Long Dance Company which is based out of New York City. The opportunity to join came the day after I was cut from her main company audition. It was such a thrill to be asked to participate.

We performed a studio showing at the end of February at the Alvin Ailey studios in NYC, and our final showcase was at the Tank Theater in NYC on March 13. Not only did I perform choreography and repertory from her company and other choreographers who set work, I also performed my first SOLO ever which happened to be self-choreographed!

Photography Credit: Marisa Augustine
Alvin Ailey Studios February 27

It was a very empowering experience to perform a solo for the first time – in a NYC theater – that was self-created. My solo is titled “Joe” and is a dance celebrating my grandma and grandpa’s relationship and love for each other. The dance is set to the song I Can’t Believe You’re In Love With Me by Billie Holiday. I edited and mixed an interview with my grandma over the track as well. In the song, my grandma tells a story of how she realized my grandpa liked her back as they bonded over playing piano at their school.

This weekend, I am performing with my other company in Hudson Valley, NY. I have the opportunity to perform “Joe” again, and I am very excited to do so! I changed some of the choreography, and I will be dressed in 1940s/1950s fashion which will fit the theme of the piece much better than what I wore for the show in NYC.

Photography Credit: Marisa Augustine
Alvin Ailey Studios February 27

This experience was fun, and has connected me to the NYC dance network better than I could have imagined. I am very grateful and thankful for my time with Long2, and look forward to new auditions and opportunities that will arise this spring. I will also be auditioning for her main company again in April!

I hope to take good footage of “Joe” at my show this weekend, and if I do, I will post it to YouTube and post the video in this post. Dance is such an amazng part of my life experience, and I am forever grateful for the way it heals me.

Photography Credit: Marisa Augustine
Alvin Ailey Studios February 27

Write again soon!

xoxo