ashley avenue

a journey to healthy balance

Go BIG, Go Local, Go Home December 31, 2010

Hey y’all! Happy New Year’s Eve! So sorry for the late post. Here’s a quick recap of my life since our last visit…

After I came in from teaching Zumba (what an amazing class!), this was happening via Chef Dad…fajitas! I’m so proud of him…yummers!

My plate (which I had twice): a bed of peppers and onions with a little chicken and shrimp, 1 piece of steak, black beans, homemade guac, freshly sliced tomato, melted cheddar-style Daiya

And dessert….a Fuji apple and a slice of amazing-melt-in-your-mouth Angus Barn’s chocolate chess pie.

Plus some almond milk in my “A is for…” almond cup ūüėČ

Hmmm…which slice is different?

We ate while we watched the UNC bowl game. GO HEELS! What a game…double overtime! And I have to give a shout to and Stanford fans out there…what a game against UCONN. Way to go ladies! Even though I completely respect the UCONN program, the 90-game winning streak had to be broken.


I woke up at 4 a.m. to be at the gym by 5 a.m., did the cross trainer for 40 minutes, taught BodyPump, then came home for breakfast. In celebration of my Heels, I made a true breakfast of champions. It seriously is my favorite breakfast I’ve made in a long time. I could not decide between pancakes (really just maple syrup), oatmeal, or a parfait, so I just had all 3!

Blueberry Pancake Oatmeal Parfait

How to layer:

  • sexy greek yogurt (greek yogurt with cinnamon)
  • maple syrup oats (1/4 cup oats, almond milk, water, 1 tsp chia seeds, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a pinch¬†sea salt, 1/4 tsp maple flavoring)
  • Peanut Flour Banana sauce
  • blueberries
  • sliced banana
  • pumpkin banana granola


It’s a lot of flavor in small doses, which is my favorite way to roll! Great texture that way too!

Mom and I went for facials ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh today ūüėČ What a way to end 2010! Guess where we went for lunch? Nils Bakery! I can’t get enough! Do you have one of those places that you could literally go to everyday and order something different because the menu is just that good? or the same thing because it’s just your fave? hehe

Today I tried something new (proud?)…Greek salad, and I was NOT disappointed. Like I said, the couple is from Turkey and knows how to do it up right!

The salad came with drizzled balsamic (so thankful it wasn’t drowning the salad!),¬†fresh feta, olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh lettuce, and a grape leave (dolma) garnish. The balsamic was especially yummy! I left the bread alone today.

We walked around Varina to check out the little shops, and guess where we ended up?! Cupcake Bite!!!!

I’ve been anxiously awaiting their opening. I found out from Gina (the owner) today that they use all natural and organic products. I love them even more now!

Isn’t she the cutest?! She is going to “audition” for Cupcake Wars! I hope that she makes it! Mom got a cookies and cream cupcake, I got a banana cupcake pop (how could I resist…it’s so cute!), we got Daddy 2 coconut pops, and Amber a flavor of the week (mint!).

Mom opening the cute little pink box…

We took our cupcakes to the local Starbucks to enjoy over coffee. What a pretty day to sit outside. I had a grande Pike Place.

Once you pop…

The fun don’t stop…

WOW! Gina, I loved the real mashed¬†banana in with the cake mix dipped in chocolate. Banana and chocolate are one of my favorite combos. Add some peanut butter to this, and you could call it the “Ashley Avenue” hehe The pop is the perfect size! Or maybe I should have gotten 2 ūüėČ Oh, and Mom thought her cookies and cream was amazing…real Oreos crushed¬†in the icing.

After some errands getting ready for tonight soiree, a snack to hold me over…

Off to try to come up with something fabulous to wear tonight. Happy New Year, y’all! Be safe, don’t drive if you shouldn’t, take care of your friends and family, MAKE SOME MEMORIES & HAVE FUN! Bring in 2011 right. Let me know how you do it.


Christmas Magic Continues!!! December 29, 2010

What a day!

I did it…no working out, and I didn’t feel guilty about it, but I am ready for the gym tomorrow! Thank-you for your prayers and support!

Once upon a time (this morning), there was breakfast…

in today’s mix:

  • 1/4 cup of old-fashioned oats, water, almond milk,¬†0% fat¬†greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • sprinkles of pumpkin pie spice and a little extra cinnamon
  • toppings: Peanut Flour Banana sauce, 2 little cranberry orange muffins, ¬†blueberries

and Christmas blend Starbucks coffee (a Christmas present from my sister! Thank-you, Ams!)

I was nervous about maybe not feeling hungry today as I planned not to work out, but I was hungry for lunch (YAY!). We met my Daddy’s side of the family (great uncles) for lunch at McCall’s, a country cookin’ buffet.

My plate: a piece of BBQ chicken (I just ate the white meat and picked off the skin and wiped off the sauce), 2 bites of “salad” (it was kind of pathetic, but it’s not what they’re known for), 1 hushpuppy, a little lima beans, field peas, green peas, pulled pork, cole slaw, cooked cabbage, a bite of turkey (it was really dry, so I gave it to Mom). I’m learning that it’s OK not to eat everything you get on your plate. It’s wasted in your body if you don’t want it.

The veggies were so yummy!

And what’s our rule around Ashley Avenue? Say it with me! “Every meal deserves dessert!” hehe¬†I rolled with a sampler platter (hey, what else are buffets good for besides being indecisive?!) of a fruit/marshmallow/green “salad,” HOMEMADE banana pudding (the good stuff!), a couple bites of warm chocolate pudding (the “crust” in the bowl was really sugary and grainy, so I left it alone), and vanilla soft serve. Plus decaf. WOOHOO!

It was a great visit with family, full of laughs and fun stories and reminiscing. This time of year is so wonderful because of that, and I hope that each of you get to be around the love that I was surrounded by today. Here’s a tour around the table…

I definitely take these wonderful people for granted!

OK, are you sitting down?! When I got home, I had a gift from Angus Barn!

with a sweet note…

There was squealing, red crinkle wrap flying everywhere, and jumping up and down…of course not by¬†me! ūüôā

My favorite crackers!

More smiling/squealing/paper rattaling/crinkle throwing opening

My very own crock with the best cheese ever!

AND…their signature chocolate¬†chess pie!!!!!!! Yes, I did share with my family!

For those of you who are new to the blog, read this recap of the AMAZING/DELICIOUS/DELECTABLE meal. I e-mailed them to tell them thank-you for a true dining experience, and Ms. Van Eure was kind and generous enough to allow me to have a piece of my experience at home.

I had made myself a turkey burger with hummus over spinach, 2 tomato slices and carrots before I opened the box…look at the cool garnish. It looks like a pretty flower, but it’s just the bottom of a celery stalk…who new? How fun!

However, this dinner was handed down to my sister because all I wanted was celery, Angus Barn cheese and crackers…yummy!!!

While we were re-creating our experience as best we could, we corked the bottle of Riesling that Amber got Mom for Christmas.

Fun story: This is my Mommy’s FAVORITE wine in the entire world. We can only find it at Angus Barn, so she ALWAYS gets a glass..or two ;). SO, Amber wanted to get Mom a bottle for Christmas from Angus Barn after we found out we could at our Christmas dinner. She isn’t 21 yet, so we had to get our uncle to meet her out there to buy it so Mom could have it as a Christmas surprise. She was shocked Christmas morning.

My first sip as I couldn’t bear to take a drop from Mom at the restaurant as it’s such a treat…

It was the most incredible Riesling that I’ve ever had…WOW!

And, of course, Mom was a happy girl!


And my at-home experience was completed with a slice of chocolate chess pie ūüėČ a little warmed with some Christmas blend. I felt like I needed the Angus Barn coffee in the cute red mug in my hand, but my red¬†tumbler had to do…and my “a is for…” cup with almond milk cup.

Perfect! Ms. Van, thank-you from the bottom of my heart! I’m saving up to come back for a special occasion. If y’all are ever in NC and want an amazing dining experience (so much more than a meal), go visit my friends at Angus Barn, and tell ’em Ashley sent you…and call me to join you! One of my 2011 goals is to attend or host an event at The Pavilions and Wine Cellar.


Break the routine!

Hey y’all! SO sorry for the late post. It was one of those days that after-Christmas errands were run, maybe a little shopping ;), a 3-hour Bible study, and dinner at 11 p.m. ūüėČ It’s difficult for me to break the routine usually, but I’m just rolling with it tonight.

I woke up early this morning to do an hour¬†of Pilates. I’ve missed the as part of my workout the past week or so as all I’ve had time for is cardio and weights.

I came down to make some breakfast…

I finally used my last EBTKS¬†muffin yesterday (they store well in the frige), but, luckily, I only ate 1/2 of my cranberry orange muffin at Cracker Barrel yesterday, so I could use the other 1/2 this morning. It was a great morning muffin…love the orange and cranberry flavors.¬† I also topped the whipped banana chia seed oatmeal with cacao nibs and some Peanut Flour Banana sauce:

  • 1/2 banana
  • pinch of sea salt
  • almond milk for desired consistency
  • 1 tsp Truvia
  • Trader Joe‚Äôs Peanut Flour
  • Naturally More
  • sprinkle of cinnamon

and the essential staple…

Mom and I ran errands returned some stuff and bought some more. We were famished by 2 p.m., so we stopped at our favorite lunch place lately, Sweet Tomatoes. I had a salad beast with all kinds of goodness and the muffin top to a Fruit Medley muffin…plus a little more salad. What is it about the muffin tops that are just so perfect?

I was saving up¬†for¬†the dessert that’s included with the cost of the meal, so you have to indulge…fro yo!!! Mom had vanilla with nuts and caramel, we split a chocolate muffin, and I had a mix of dark chocolate and vanilla plain…plus a little more vanilla.

It’s SO good and creamy. I don’t know how they do it. It tastes like custard.

Mema, Mom, Amber, and I all went to Bible study tonight. It was so challenging and encouraging. We’re still working through Jonah (this is week 2 of 6), and we discussed tonight that the “Interrupted Life” is the “Challenged Life.” It’s a good thing to live a challenging life; it means God is working in you, calling you outside your comfort zone so that You can bring Him glory while giving you the blessing. I took so many notes and really was challenged myself to be obedient to His will, knowing that He’ll equip me based on how I’m called.

Ms. Tammi, who is the sweetest hostess had yummy snacks and water and coffee. She’s always so kind to consider “eating clean” for me. It really means so much for someone to go out of their way to accomodate unnecessarily. She’s amazing!

Bible study snacks of 1/2 caf, grapes, celery, carrots, 7 pistachios (my first try), and cucumber slices.

This was just intended to be an appetizer for dinner when I got home. We got into some great discussion and prayer tonight, so dinner did not happen until around 10:30 p.m., which is super late for me, but I rolled with it. I had a glass of Finca¬†Roja¬†Malbec,…

¬†…a sweet potato with ground cinnamon, some collard greens, and a little oven roasted rotisserie chicken.

A little different than late night dinners in college.

And since no meal is complete without dessert (even a late night meal), I made some “cereal,” the perfect late night snack, in my opinion.

In the cereal mix:

  • raw almonds
  • pistachios (I bought some today to try…I like ’em!)
  • 1/2 square 100% chocolate
  • cacao nibs
  • goji berries
  • dried cherries (also a new purchase…love ’em!)
  • organic pumpkin raisin granola

No cereal is complete without…sexy almond milk (with cinnamon!).

Yummy to my tummy! Now it’s time for beauty sleep…fun family day ahead tomorrow! And I’m going to try to take a workout day off!

Sweet dreams, bloggies!

Check this out:

  • Cupcakes for the beau¬†(or¬†belle…hey, I’m all in!)¬†in your life, Butch Bakery! I desperately want to fly to New York so that I can try these. Hey, beer runs and tailgates are for girls too! I hope that they start shipping down south! David, give me a shout if you do, and thanks for following your dreams!!!
  • Curly Girl Design…my newest love! I bought myself an ornament today. I get 1 new ornament every year to commemorate my year, and this seemed to fit. Leigh, you. are. amazing! I want¬† need all of your goodies (especially plates hehe)¬†in my life. What great inspiration! Thanks for sharing your creativity!

The Joys of Comfort Food December 27, 2010

With all the laying around¬†yesterday, I wasn’t really hungry last night around dinner time (grrr!), so I rummaged around in the pantry and found the ingredients for some soup (high volume, low calorie):

  • organic veggie broth
  • can of green beans, rinsed
  • can of corn, rinsed
  • can of black beans, rinsed
  • frozen okra
  • leftover lima beans with parsley from Christmas dinner

P.s. – I learned that there’s so much icky stuff in canned soup and canned veggies, so it took me a while or reading cans to find these veggies that were “clean.”

Yummy! I had a broiled turkey burger sprinkled with mozzarella-style Daiya and a spoonful of traditional hummus.

and some Finca Roja Malbec

Dessert consisted of peppermint mocha coffee, a Fuji apple, and a square of 100% chocolate. It has a yummy bitter taste.


I wanted some of my Peanut Flour-Banana sauce at breakfast this morning, so I made some to top my oatmeal with. Warm oats was the perfect breakfast with the chill of the snow still around.

also topped with EBTKS muffin and blueberries. And some half-caf coffee ūüėČ


My workout today was two-part: this morning I did BodyPump and 45 minutes of cycling, and I taught Zumba tonight.

We went to get my Mema today to bring her to our house for the week. On the way home, Cracker Barrel was calling our name, so I rolled with breakfast #2 (breakfast all day!)…what is it with comfort food this time of year?

Morning Sampler: 2 turkey sausage patties (I was wanting meat…weird!), 2 sunnyhappyside-up eggs hehe, cranberry orange muffin (amazing but huge! I only could eat half, so I brought the other half home), a pineapple and vanilla yogurt parfait with almond granola. It’s a little bit of everything!

and some decaf to drink, which was really good!

As soon as we got home, I changed and got ready for Zumba. Amber came tonight, wearing her new Zumba top I got her for Christmas.

We’re rocking the gear! And Mema came! She was so cute!


Also, I just found out that if you’d like to support my medical missions trip to South Africa, you can do it online.¬†You’ll need to simply create a profile to access the online giving. I have been promised that¬†this doesn’t spam or send out messages! We’re really pushing to get the majority of our donations online this year if possible. Thank-you for your continued friendship and support!


Fro Yo Snow December 26, 2010

Filed under: almond milk — ansauls @ 5:50 pm
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Today’s been a laaaazy day. We’ve been watching Prince of Persia and football. Have y’all seen Prince of Persia? It’s an interesting discussion of destiny, Disney style, and kind of reminded me of Aladdin ūüėČ

I hope that those of you who have snow are really enjoying it! When it snows around here, we always makes snow cream. My Mom’s recipe is just fresh, powdery snow…

…and Eagle Brand milk.

I wanted to “clean it up” a little bit. So, I mixed together snow, a little Keifer, a splash of almond milk, 2 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp Truvia…and got snow fro yo!

It was just OK, but a fun recipe to try. It reminded me of a “tart” flavor, so I gave it to Doc and had a bowl of the real stuff instead. Sometimes, you just gotta go for it, especially if you only get it once a year, if that, usually!

I am opening the floor for reader requests. Now that we’ve gotten to know each other a little bit, is there anything that you want me to tackle on Ashley Avenue?

Enjoy the rest of your evening…


BIG News…and Support!

Filed under: my life — ansauls @ 11:30 am
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¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† I have exciting news for y’all!¬† I have been praying about my purpose in life and God‚Äôs will for me, and have made a big decision.¬† From May 6th-16th, 2011, I am going on a Christian medical mission trip to South Africa!

            Our team of 30 medical professionals, students, and pastors, will partner with a local ministry called Emoyeni (, which takes care of orphans whose parents died of AIDS.  Over 24% of South Africa’s population is HIV positive.  Where we will be, in Mpumalanga, over 36,000 children have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS.  In addition to the AIDS epidemic, children are dying every day because of childhood diseases that are preventable and curable. 

The purpose of this trip is to minister to the spiritual and medical needs of the people of Badplaas.¬† For the past four years, 1-2 medical teams per year have been sent to this same area and have succeeded in providing ongoing medical care for over 1,000 people in a few villages there.¬†¬† We bring with us a huge mobile clinic, with over $100,000 in medications, surgical equipment, and supplies.¬† We give everyone free medical exams, treatments, dental care, glasses, any needed medication up to a year‚Äôs supply, and minor surgeries ‚Äď whatever they need.¬† Many of the children have parasitic infections that can be cured with one pill, but without our help they would never be able to afford it.¬†¬† We also teach them about sanitation, how to avoid transmission of HIV, and much more.¬†¬†

While meeting the physical needs of South Africans is a major goal of this trip, the primary purpose is to share the love of Jesus.  Our desire is to bring hope to the hopeless, to minister the peace of Christ to those who live in daily turmoil, to bring joy to the people who know much sorrow. As we seek to bring physical healing to the villages of Mpumalanga, we are praying that God would use us to bring spiritual healing as well. 

I am very excited about what God is going to do in my life and in other people’s lives through this ministry.  To do this, I need your help.  The trip is being funded entirely through donations and by we who are going on the mission trip.   I need to raise $500 by January, and $2,600 by April 1, 2011.   If you would like to be a part of my support team, no amount is too small.  Most importantly, I need your prayer support.   I know that God honors our prayers and will bless his children in South Africa. 

As the Lord leads you, let me know if you would like to be a part of this awesome opportunity РI know that you too will be blessed.

Thank-you in advance for your prayers and support.  May God richly bless you.

Here’s the trip’s blog from last year if you want an idea of what I’ll get to do…



Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Filed under: breakfast,coffee,eggs,fruit,ham,oatmeal,working out — ansauls @ 11:16 am

I woke up early this morning and peaked out the window to this beautiful scene…

A few inches of snow that has now turned into 7 inches, and it’s still snowing! I can’t remember a snow like this in a looooooong time. It’s a beautiful white day-after Christmas.

Nobody was up at my house at 7, and my tummy was growling, so I just went for it! For breakfast this morning, I made some oats…the usual topped with blueberries, an EBTKS muffin, almond creme, and 1/2 sliced banana.

and some coffee, of course!

My workout today was just 45 minutes on the Treadclimber while I read the newest issue of Real Simple and 15 minutes of abs.

I came downstairs to my family making their breakfast around 10, so I sat to eat a little something with them. A little slice of ham with eggs…

…and a side of mixed fruit.

I’m looking forward to making some snow cream later!!!!! Do y’all have any fun snow plans for today?