Pittsburgh Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

The first thought I had walking up to The Phipps was, “WOW! THIS HAS TO BE A MOVIE!” It is flawless, and delicate. I was basically walking into Frances Hodgson Burnett’s, The Secret Garden. In my mind, before even looking it up on the internet, or stepping anywhere near Schenley Park, my vision of it was so minimal to what it actually is.

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Here I will post the flowers that stuck out to me the most, the flowers I wanted to learn more about and as well as the fruits! (Okay but the dark red banana tree, you HAVE to check out, it looks…. Royal … you’ll understand what I mean when you see it 😉 .)

If you live, or come to visit the Pittsburgh area, I highly suggest checking The Phipps out.

&Thanks for checking my blog out on The Phipps!

Oncidium Orchid- Sharry Baby

This was definitely my favorite because of its scent! Smelling just like chocolate!! Although they say many people actually pick up a vanilla chocolate scent, I myself picked up the cocoa smell! The fragrant is very strong through the daytime, and is not fragrant at night. This orchid looks very delicate and light, but actually has a pretty rough leathery feel to it. The Sharry Baby can take up to 3-4 months to bloom, and the flowers stay bloomed for only about 2-3 weeks. Its’s said if this flower is in a smaller area (home, smaller rooms) the smell can make you nauseous. Planting in a larger area would be best!

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Encyclia Orchid

Best known as the “Octopus” Flower because of it’s dangling petals, can actually bloom for several consecutive months! I find this one so cool, although it didn’t have much of a scent, just seeing the shape and how wild it looks caught my attention! These flowers do well in a very lit area and up to 85 degrees. Patio, backyard, pool area… but also likes screening protection. Also, these flowers roots like to get wild, and can grow underground creating new plants elsewhere. phipps 24 use this one

Epicatanthe “Gold Rush”

They say this flower blooms forever! Growing to 12 inches tall, and 2 inches across. The lips are yellow, with sparkle of red inside. They do bloom best in spring and summer, but you can also keep them bloomed with just the right amount of lighting/temperature, and overall care.

ephipps 22 use this one

Cattlianthe Orchid “Little Suzy”

This flower has very large flowy petals, it has a very strong smell, and has over 100 species in its family. They all range in different bloom size, color, scent, and root size. They bloom in fall, typically in October- early November.

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& Now just take a look at these beauties ! (Heart eye emoji insert!)

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I found some pretty awesome plants I’d love to share too !

Parry Agave

This agave stood out to me because of its dark navy blue edges! Native to Arizona, New Mexico and Northern Mexico, it is not in the cactus family, however it does look deceiving…

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phipps 4.jpegphipps 28These plants were amazing! It is so cool to see how all the leaves are different! Color, size and design. Some are plain, some are spotted, and many have streaks. The vibrant colors were my favorite about this plant specifically!

The Phipps has a Fruit & Spice room, which is awesome! If you head over to their website WWW.PHIPPSCONSERVATORY.ORG They have a section of which plants they have during whichever month we are in.

Carambola – Star Fruit

I have always loved the star fruit. I’ve used it for juicing, purees, and simply just eating it! It’s funny because before seeing it at the Phipps I never looked into it. Never did I realize it is Native to the Philippines, and here I am, part Filipino. It all makes sense now. LOL.

The fruit is popular through-out Southeast Asia. Many areas grow them for ornamentals, not really for consumption. I would be the complete opposite! It has an oval shape but has 5 streaks going down the fruit which is why it is best known as the “Star Fruit”. It is crunchy and firm, but has such a sweet juicy taste to it! The entire fruit is edible. Its best to pick when they are slightly green and as soon as they turn yellow, EAT! 🙂

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So my ABSOLUTE plant is The Musa.

Dwarf Red Banana Tree: Feeds off of a tropical feel, well known in souther Florida but also West Indies and Central America. The tree grows quick and sprouts very large leaves that many say are absolutely perfect for shade, and creating your own mini private jungle! The bananas have a dark red color, I say they are very royal looking. The shine and glow it has is unreal! They are also sweeter and softer than your typical yellow banana. Some also say it has a mango flavor to it but can also be described as “earthy”.

The red banana has more Vitmain C and beta carotene (which your body breaks down to Vitamin A) than the yellow banana. it contains 3 types of sugars, sucrose, fructose, and glucose.

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Turkey Chili

While working all day and hearing the rain dumping down outside, my hunger built up quick and I immediately thought about chili. Turkey Chili! I’ve made it once or twice before and in the crock pot, with me being off work at 5:00pm, and just then realizing that’s what I wanted, I sacrificed the crock pot and just used my good ol’ heavy duty pot and stove.

So if you’re looking for a semi-quick chili recipe, I have it here for you !

Ingredients:

  • 1 LB lean Ground Turkey
  • 1 15 oz. can White Chili Beans
  • 1 15 oz. can Chili Beans
  • 1 15 oz. can Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 10 oz. can sweet corn kernals (if you can’t find 10 oz. thats okay use what you can find!)
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans green chilies (around 5 oz. each can)
  • 1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 celery sticks chopped
  • 1 white onion chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves thickly chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chopped
  • 1 1/2 TBSP black pepper
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Chili powder
  • 1 1/2 TBSP oregano
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1 TBSP cayenne
  • 1/2 TBSP salt
  • FOR GARNISH AND TOPPINGS: Avocado, greek yogurt, cilantro, tortilla strips, and jalapeños.

 

I also enjoyed this with a side of sourdough bread 🙂

DIRECTIONS: Brown your ground turkey with your olive oil in a large heavy duty pot. Leave on for about 10-15 minutes-stirring frequently. Once you see it browning almost full way, add in your garlic, chopped onion, celery, jalapeño, bell pepper, chicken broth and all seasonings. Stir frequently and let cook for 10 minutes.

Stir in your white chili beans, chili beans, and red kidney beans, diced tomatoes, 2 cans of chilis, and sweet corn. Cover and simmer/low heat for 45 minutes. I stir about every 15 minutes.

It will be hot, so you can let it sit for about 10 minutes, and then serve …or if you’re super hungry eat right away just be careful 😉

Granish and top it off with avocado, cilantro, greek yougurt, a few small slices of jalapenños, and tortilla strips!

E N J O Y ~

❤ JESS.

 

 

Meal Prepping Gone RIGHT

I find it interesting foods can determine how you feel, and how it truly designs your body. Not always good though, right? But by now I think we understand good foods vs. bad….. Or maybe not? So today I’d like to touch on Meal Prepping.

BASICS : 

First I’d like to dive into the basics. Have a plan! Find a day of the week that works best for you. I’d love to meal prep every Sunday but my schedule just doesn’t work out that way. My days off are very random. Sometimes you can catch me meal prepping on a Sunday, other times it can be on a Thursday. As long as it works for you, go for it.

Now that you know which day your prepping on, lets step in your kitchen! Go through your pantry/fridge and see what you already have, and lets be honest- what you need to throw out, AKA expired products, LOL. Meal prep days also gives me the time to clean my kitchen, not to mention doing dishes about 3 times! TUPPERWARE OVERLOAD Haha. Now that thats done you can choose what your meals are going to be.

Oh wait, do you need help deciding? Well, down below I have a list of foods that will help you create the most beneficial meals! Including protein, carbs, and veggies! I’m an advocate for REAL food, locally grown, organic and clean. so I highly encourage you to buy and eat clean. Not only for your health but to help continue USAD Organic products to be on shelves at stores and markets. &Here are two sites to help you find local raised foods:

  • LocalHarvest.org
  • EatWild.com

If you do not eat meat or like me very minimal, try filling your plates up with beans, grains, and vegetables. Plus it is cheaper skipping out on the meat every now and again 🙂

YOUR GROCERY LIST:

PROTEIN 

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (about 139 g per 1 LB)

Ground Turkey(4 oz 22g)

Salmon(40 g 0.5 g fillet)

Ahi Tuna(3 oz 25 g)

Talapia (23 g 1 fillet serving)

Shrimp (3 OZ 19 g protein)

Tofu(3 OZ 12 g protein)

Beans

Chickpeas

Lentils

Hemp Seeds

CARBOHYDRATES 

Brown Rice (43 g carbs)

Potatoes (about 37 g carbs)

Sweet Potatoes(27 g carbs))

Steel Cut Oats(27 g carbs)

Quinoa(20 g carbs, about 1/2 cup serving)

Ezekiel or wheat bread (14 g per slice)

Beans (black beans 116 g 1 cup serving)

Veggies with a higher carb intake : Brussels Sprouts 8 g, Kale 6 g, Med. Zucchini 6 g.

 

VEGGIES 

Brussel Sprouts

Broccoli

Cauliflower

Collards

Kale

Spinach

Lemon grass

Winter Squash

Green beans

Mushrooms

Bell Peppers, GREEN, RED, YELLOW, ORANGE.

Carrots

Onion

Squash

Zucchini

 

&HEALTHIER FATS THAT I USE FOR SNACKS

Peanut butter, fruits, hard boiled eggs, turkey jerky, protein bars/shake, nuts; cashews, almonds, walnuts.

 

I always have at the least one from each category as a meal.

Here is my example of what I eat in one day.

Breakfast: Overnight oats, 1/4 Almond milk, 1/2 greek yogurt, 1 tbsp flax seeds, 1 tbsp chai seeds, 1/2 pr 1 tbsp of peanut butter, sprinkle of chopped walnuts or pecans and sliced up banana. With a protein shake not too long after.

Snack: Peanut butter and celery sticks.

Lunch: Baked chicken breast, side of brown rice, and brussel sprouts. And a side salads. I LOVE MY SALADS 🙂

Snack: A serving of Cashews.

Dinner:  Same as lunch.

I really hope this helps you out with making your meals for the week! Also, really understanding whats digesting in your body. Our bodies were design to eat these foods. When your body aches, feels heavy or uncomfortable its mainly because we’re not feeding it correctly. Try changing your diet up to a more clean food based lifestyle and I can guarantee you will feel and see changes.

As always, Jess ❤

 

REAL Food- Your Best Decision

As I’ve said before, real food speaks volumes to me. I get inspired by natural ingredients and making delicious meals through them so you get that true authentic flavor. I attempted a small garden this year, the first house my boyfriend and I have had together so it’s been exciting. But like I was saying- I attempted a garden this year, it was amazing to me, growing my own food couldn’t feel any better! I hope one day to have a large enough yard to grow as much as I want! This year I grew bell peppers, jalapeños, banana peppers, cucumbers, butter lettuce, parsley and tomatoes! All of the bell peppers smelled so crisp and fresh, I can’t wait to grow more next year! The tomatoes were a challenge for me…. especially due to deer eating them as soon as they would turn red!! (Happy to feed the animals, bummed I couldn’t make salsa).

My meals are sometimes, well mostly, simple because I don’t add all the high and heavy saturated fats/additives in the mix. You definitely don’t need that in your recipes. I can remember a handful of times eating not the best foods/meals and quick after feeling terrible. My left abdomen would be in pain due to the toxic foods, I’d be so bloated, and I would just be in pain. Not to mention the anxiety build up. These are just a few reasons why I turned to gaining knowledge on nutrition.

There are many substitutes for any ingredient that you want to start cooking without. Here are just a few in example:

Ingredient                               Substitution 

                                                 Butter                               Olive or Coconut Oil/Coconut Butter

  Milk                               Almond Milk

Sour Cream                             Greek Yogurt

          Cream                            Coconut Milk

Mayonnaise                           Greek Yogurt

                    Sugar                           Stevia or Pure Honey

   White Rice                         Brown Rice/Cauliflower Rice/Quinoa

White                           Bread Ezekiel/ Sprouted Bread.

Pasta                            Quinoa/Squash Noodles/Brown Rice

Bread Crumbs                     Crushed Nuts

 

I use many of those substitutes daily so I can live a healthier life. One of the steps to changing my everyday food intake was cleaning out the kitchen. And as always, I encourage you to buy organic, it might be pricey and I get it, but I rather pay now than later 😉 My next blog will be on what should be stocked in your kitchen! So please stay tuned 🙂

JESS ❤

Loaded Vermicelli Soup

Typically used in Chinese dishes, vermicelli rice noodles are one of my favorites! The noodle it’s self is very tasteless- lets be honest, however with just the perfect seasonings and ingredients, you can really win! I also realllyyyyy love soup! So one night, I realized just how much stuff I had in my fridge, and wa-la this soup was made!

If you don’t like one of the veggies or don’t want to go out and get one of them, its okay. Its very easy to just cook without it because it is very loaded. I just happen to have a lot in my fridge that week! However, I highly recommend this soup, your tastebuds will be happy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Package of Vermicelli Rice Noodles
  • 32 OZ Vegetable or Chicken Broth (I use Natures Basket Organic Broth)
  • About 5-6 Leaves of Bok Choy or you can use baby bok choy
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 4 Carrots
  • 5-6 Celery Sticks
  • 1 Yellow Onion-sliced into long strands
  • 1 Jalapeño
  • 3 Slices of Fresh Ginger
  • 4 OZ of Water Chestnuts
  • Mushrooms
  • 16 OZ Sprouts
  • 1 TBSP Black Pepper
  • 1/2 TBSP Ginger Powder
  • About 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP Sesame Oil
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Olive Oil

 

Directions:

First I chop everything that needs to be chopped! Green pepper, carrots, celery sticks, yellow onion (remember to keep this in long strands), jalapeño, ginger slices, and mushrooms. Set aside.

Use large frying pan or WOK, add 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil  and about 1/2 tbsp of the sesame oil. Add carrots, ginger, celery, jalapeño, and bell pepper. Cook on medium for about 8-10 minutes, check and stir occasionally. If heat is too high, cook on low.

While veggies are cooking I used a large spaghetti pot and added 3 quarts of water, ONCE that boils add in your noodles and cover. Set your times for 3 minutes and your noodles should be done! Yes, that fast! Turn off the heat and pour half the water down the sink.

Cut your noodles with cooking scissors, they are very long and stick to each other!

Add your veggie or chicken broth, black pepper, and ginger powder to the noodles. In my opnion the more seasoning the better 🙂 Also, you want to make a very tasteful broth , I’ve used chicken broth so I’ve also added about 3 cubes of chicken bouillon cubes. Or can make chicken broth by scratch 😉

Add sprouts, water chestnuts, and more sesame oil to the veggie mix. Mix and cook for another 8-10 minutes.

Pour in noodles.

Add your chopped bok choy and onions. Cook on low and stir every so often. Cook on low for 30 minutes.

ENJOY~

JESS ❤

Sweet Autumn Peach Chicken

As most, I have been super excited for Fall!! & It is here! So, HAPPY FALL! Today I decided I was going to make a run to Hobby Lobby, and get my house decked out with autumn decorations. What better day to do it than the official first day of fall?! And lets be honest I cannot DIY anything! So I just simply purchased already made decorations and pride myself on where I place it, LOL.

I also grabbed some beautiful light maroon MUMS, and ready to get some more! First one so I need to make sure I take care of it and don’t let it die on me.

So I was also thinking how I needed to make fall dish ~ Something sweet but tangy and a pinch of harvest. Peaches came to mind. Fresh peaches, with chicken, and potatoes. I went to the local grocery store Aldis, found perfect organic medley potatoes, and organic rainbow bite sized carrots! Yes, I said RAINBOW!

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This was m first time building this dish! If anybody else cooks, please comment below and let me know what you think! My boyfriend and I love the puree I made, so make sure to saturate your chicken and let sit in fridge for about 30 minutes to soak up all the goodness!

Ingredients:

  • 3 LB Skinless Boneless Chicken Breast
  • 2 Peaches
  • 1 TBSP Honey
  • 1/3 Cup Water
  • 2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 TBSP Cinnamon
  • 4 Whole Cloves
  • I did add in about 1 TBSP of FlavorGod Jamaican Jerk Seasoning, you can add your own jerk or own seasoning. If I didn’t have FlavorGod I would use cayenne, paprika, black pepper and salt.
  • 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Medley Potatoes
  • Bite Sized Carrots
  • Mushrooms

Directions:

Cut your peaches into chunks, add in your blender along with honey, water, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, whole cloves, and seasoning. Blend until smooth, set aside.
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Cut chicken into thin sliced. And marinade with mixture for 30 minutes, if you can go an hour, then the longer the better!

While this is marinading chop your medley potatoes in halves, and add to an oiled glass pan. Add in carrots, mushrooms, and olive oil. Ensure it is all oiled up and add any seasoning to that. I used the jamaican jerk and black pepper.

Set oven on 350

Once your chicken is done marinading, add to a separate glass pan and if you have any leftover puree add on top of chicken.

Bake chicken and veggies in oven for 30 minutes, broil for 5.

E N J O Y your fall dish!

Jess ❤

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Sweet & Sour Chicken

I really do love me some sweet & sour!! A friend told me to make it, and of course I tweaked what I should do, and added a jalapeño pepper sauce, that was to die for !!! (This was store bought, but is on my list to make homemade!) &Of course I’ll blog that too haha. But for now here is my recipe of Sweet & Sour chicken!

I also made a Tofu version of it, exactly the same way I made the chicken, just made with Super Firm Tofu from Nosoya Organic. With 11 g protein 3 oz.

Ingredients

  • 2 LB Chicken Breast
  • 2 Cups cooked brown rice, or you cauliflower rice.
  • Pineapple chunks (about 1 1/2 cups, I like a lot of pineapple)
  • 1 Green bell pepper
  • 1 Red bell pepper
  • 1 Sweet onion
  • 5 OZ of a Jalapeño pepper sauce/jelly. (Does not make this dish spicy)
  • 1 Tbsp Pure Honey
  • 1 Tsp of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp of Soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tbsp Black Pepper

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Directions :

Chop green and red bell peppers, and onion into thicker slices. Set aside.

Make your mixture, get a large bowl and add your sauce/jelly, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, honey, black pepper, and garlic powder mix together.

Cut your chicken breast in cubes and add to your mixture. Let sit for 10 minutes, while that is marinading start cooking your rice.

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Grab your frying pan and add olive or coconut oil. Cook your chicken on medium heat for 20 minutes stir occasionally.

Add your pineapple, bell peppers and onion to your chicken. Cook for another 5-10 minutes depending on how your chicken is doing, you don’t want to cook your chicken too long with the scare of drying it out, so I added the veggies a little RIGHT before the chicken was going to be done that way it can all cook and be finished together. I also like my veggies a bit more on the crunchy side especially for this dish!

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When done, add over your rice.

 

E N J O Y~

JESS ❤

 

 

 

Favorite 8 Pull Exercises

I can honestly say Pull is my favorite gym day!! Not sure exactly why, but I just feel badass pulling heavy weight! As simple as that? Pull ups are my absolute favorite, each one I can truly feel myself growing and I just never want to stop haha!

When you’re working on pull, you are working your back/back of shoulders and biceps. You grow these muscles by simply using the pulling motion in your exercise. Here are 8 of my favorite pull work outs I do.

I want to post pictures of examples, until then please message me with any questions so that I can go more in depth with which ever work out.

  1. Neutral Grip Lat Pulldown (2 handles) 10 Reps x4
  2. Neutral Grip High Row 10 Reps x4
  3. Wide Grip Lat Pulldown 10 Reps x4
  4. Low Row (2 hands) 10 Reps x4
  5. Cable Curl (single arm) 10 Reps each x4
  6. Standing Cable Curls with a low pulley 10 Reps x4
  7. Pull Ups (My FAVE!) 12 Reps x4
  8. Rotating Dumbell Curls Neutral Grip to Pronated Grip 10 Reps x4

Favorite 8 Push Exercises

When I first started working out I really didn’t know where to start. I found myself on the treadmill often, which is fine if you are looking to drop weight. However, I didn’t physically know what else to do, how to properly use machines, what part of the gym I should be using. It all actually sounds pretty silly now but its true, I wasn’t confident at all! Well that finally changed. Now that we have Google, Pinterest, etc… It’s easy to learn and teach yourself. So I’m hoping I can add to that. I’m going to be posting some of my favorite work outs I do. If you want to follow along go for it 😉

A Push exercise will train all of your upper body muscles by using the pushing motion. This will be working your chest, shoulders and triceps.

Depending on the weight you will be using, your reps and sets may differ than mine since everybody is different.

  1. Stability Ball Chest Press 15 Reps x3
  2. Standing Military Press SG 15 Reps x3
  3. Resistance Band Press 15 Reps x3
  4. Inclined Alternating Dumbell Press 20 Reps x3
  5. Seated Alternating Dumbell Press 20 Reps x3
  6. Hammer Strength Shoulder Press 10 Reps X3
  7. Hammer Strength Chest Press 10 Reps x3
  8. Tricep Extension 10 Reps x4

Easy Baked Chicken Breast

Have you ever ate really, really moist meat? Like right out of the oven, so juicy and full of flavor? Isn’t it the BEST?! Well I’ve definitely had my fair share of dry meat, and I believe thats why I’m not a huge meat lover. So when I discovered a secret ingredient (okay not really secret) I was so happy and felt relieved that I can meal prep this juicy chicken breast in less than 30 minutes.

This is easy to pair with any type of veggies, brown rice, potatoes, or a fresh crisp salad.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Serving Size: About 4

Nutrition

4 oz chicken 26.3 g protein, 1g fat, 111 calories

1 cup chicken broth 1g protein, 5 calories

1 Tbsp natures basket organic butter 4.5 g protein, 8.5 g fat, 2.5 g carbs, 105 calories

Ingredients

  • 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
  • 2 Tbsp Olive or Coconut Oil
  • 1 Cup Chicken Broth (AKA Secret Ingredient)  I use Natures Basket Organic Broth
  • 4 Thin Slices of Butter
  • 1/2 tbsp Black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Salt

You can add any seasoning you’d like, but this is just the very basic version. You’ll notice I use this same technique of cooking chicken but for many different dishes that come with so many different flavors!

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice chicken in half vertically to get two thin layers. Oil your baking pan, and place chicken in pan. i usually drizzle a bit more oil on top of the chicken and rub it over. Add your seasonings.

DRUM ROLL PLEASE (okay I know, I know. Im making a big deal out of this damn broth, however is it amazing and you’re taste buds will dance with joy!)

First get your 4 slices of butter and align the 4 sides of your pan. Then pour your cup of chicken broth around your chicken.

Bake for 25 minutes.

E N J O Y~

JESS ❤