ashley avenue

a journey to healthy balance

More Than I Can Ask or Imagine January 13, 2011

What’s up, buttercups? After a SUPER FUN Zumba class tonight full of hard work and laughing (gotta love a party good workout), I made a random dinner of turkey chili, a glass of Duplin Christmas vino, a plate of steamed broccoli with nutritional yeast (new ingredient for the day…I’m trying to up the B12), and a NM&J (Naturally More and jam) Rise & Shine muffin. I had to get in my daily dose of Naturally More. 😉

So yummy and full of flavas!

And dessert…an orange and my last square of 100% cacao. I’m not a huge fan on those chocolate oranges that you crack open, but this was a great mix! Plus, I had some Starbucks caramel coffee 😉

Maybe it’s the early morning Pump, but I have been draggin’ today, and I am NOT a napper. I feel guilty and like I could be doing so much more productive things.

I also wanted to just take a moment and say THANK-YOU so much for reading my little blog. It means more than y’all know. I began this as a writing “project” to keep me accountable, and I love writing. I can’t believe that you actually read it and support me and live life with me. Y’all are truly amazing and such an encouragement. This community has been beyond what I can imagine, so thank-you!

Ephesians 3:20-21 has been coming up daily in my life for the past 2 weeks. It says, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Not only y’all, but there have been so many situations, conversations, experiences that have truly been more than all I could ask imagine!!! I have news that I’ll explain when I can ;), the support I’ve received for my South Africa trip has already been a rollercoaster ride of blessing, friendships, and all the answered prayer that I forgot that I even asked for. For example, my Mom joined a Bible study and has been going to church with me. My parents have an amazing group of Christian friends whom I love. I also fell in love in 2010. I fell in love with Christ. He answers prayers in ways above what I can’t ask or imagine…

Do you have an experience that has been above what you asked or imagined?


Learning to Listen

Filed under: almond milk,breakfast,coffee,lunch,veggies,Zumba — ansauls @ 3:47 pm
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Hey y’all! Happy Thursday! How’s your day going?

I teach Pump at 6 a.m. on Thursdays, so I knocked that out with some fun ladies this morning. On my way home, I was thinking about breakfast and could NOT decide what I wanted (except coffee!), so this ended up happening:

Breakfast “Cereal”

  • 3/4 cup Nature’s Path Pumpkin Seed & Raisin cereal
  • sliced nanner
  • 1 Tbsp  Sunflower Butter
  • some Trader Joe’s Cranberry Apple butter
  • 5 raw almonds
  • a few goji berries and cacao nibs
  • crumbled Rise & Shine muffin (no breakfast is complete without one hehe)
  • just a little almond milk to wet the muffin and cereal (I do not like ‘smushy’ cereal. I like the crunch!)

Amazing texture.  I can’t believe I used to be OK with “normal cereal” for breakfast…if I’d only known what I was missing!

I had a great quiet time in Experiencing God and studied most of the morning. I learned a lot about fats today…trans fat, saturated/unsaturated, and omega 3 and 6. It’s so interesting but difficult!

When my tummy started growling, I headed down for the lunch I’d been dreaming of all day! I knew exactly what I wanted (YAY!)…leftovers! It looks like a lot of food to me.

  • Brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 sweet potato with organic baked beans
  • the other half of the Trader Joe’s “Chicken-less Pulled Chicken”

YUMMMMMMMMMMY! And very little prep and clean-up work!

Back to studying and planning for tonight’s Zumba class until savory snack time 😉

I started with this, but ended up only eating a few pistachios, 8 carrots, a little Moroccan hummus (not too much the carrots were just so good by themselves!), a few pieces of celery (the Angus Barn crock may or may not have made a little appearance). I just ate until I was satisfied, not too full and I didn’t make myself eat exactly what I pulled out. Learning to listen to my body is a 2011 goal…getting there! Sorry that I didn’t put it on a dish. I’m in a lazy  I don’t want to do the dishes mood today 😉

I’m teaching a dance to Waka Waka by Shakira tonight! Woohoo!!!

What are y’all up to tonight?


Naked Lunch January 12, 2011

Hey y’all! Productive day. How was your day?

Breakfast today was the usual, and really yummy! 😉

The polka dot bowl was full of:

  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats, water, almond milk, keifer
  • 1 tsp chia seeds, peanut flour
  • sprinkles of sea salt and cinnamon
  • drizzle of maple syrup (my new ingredient today…I didn’t like it as much as maple extract, but it was worth a shot)
  • toppings: crumbled Rise & Shine muffin, dollop of Naturally More, blueberries, blackberries, Trader Joe’s cranberry apple butter (the tartness is perfect in the sweet mix!)

I. love. breakfast!

I met Amber in Chapel Hill today to take her some stuff from home, and we did our standard Carolina sister date…Qdoba and Yogurt Pump, more affectionately called “YoPo.” I rolled with a naked (yes, I said it!) chicken taco salad (no dressing) with corn and black bean salsa, pico de gallo, fajita veggies, and salsa verde. Pretty colors!

At YoPo, I had peanut butter and Tahitian vanilla in a HOMEMADE small waffle cone with rainbow sprinkles.

It was AMAZINGLY good. Seriously, one of my favorite cones ever!!!

Snack while studying about acids, bases, and buffers,  along with some decaf for Starbucks!

When I took this photo at Barnes & Noble, a guy asked me why I was taking a picture of a bar. When I explained about the blog, we got into a conversation about eating clean. He told me that he recently read that due to all the preservatives in our diets now, dead bodies are taking longer to decay. Crazy, huh? What do y’all think?

I met one of my friends from college who is about to leave the country for 6 months on Christian missions. We went to Panera, which was kind of our “place” at Carolina. I had a cup of the “new” all-natural chicken noodle since it was the soup with the least calories ( I really like how Panera puts the calorie count on the menu now). I asked what “new” meant as they’ve always had chicken noodle and was informed that there is now celery in the soup and better quality ingredients. It sounded good to me, and it was. They chicken does taste leaner and the noodles less “doughy” than before. I had a whole grain baguette on the side…so, chewy in the center and toasted on the outside! I always get bread at Panera!

It was just not enough. When I got home a few hours later, I had a late night snack of 3 pieces of celery with Angus Barn cheddar, 5 carrots and hummus, and a Fuji apple with peanut flour banana dip 😉 and some half caff.

Workout today: practiced BodyPump 76 for launch and taught Zumba at One Heart Yoga.

I went by cupcake bite to tell Gina “Hey” after my class. They were closed, but I saw that S’mores is the flava of the week! I WILL be going back ASAP to get one! She is so cute and creative and can make a cupcake!

Now I’m watching Off the Map. Anybody else tuned in?

With all my extra time not blog reading, I’ve been able to pray a lot about my trip and for the members on my team. My prayers are for my focus to stay on Christ and the cross, to know what’s true amidst spiritual warfare, and for our team that our hearts would be knit together even now, and knit to the people of South Africa that we’ll encounter. I’m praying that God will prepare all of our patients and conversations even now.

Side note: do y’all have an opinion of lululemon vs. Athleta yoga gear? What do you like best?


Fasting January 10, 2011

Hey y’all! Happy Monday!!!! How was your weekend? Let me know!

My tummy was growling this morning after a wonderful time in the Word. I knew EXACTLY what I wanted…some Rise & Shine oats!

In today’s mix:

  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats, water, almond milk, greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp chia seeds, peanut flour
  • sprinkles of sea salt and cinnamon
  • 1/2 smashed banana
  • toppings: Rise & Shine muffin, blackberries, blueberries, Naturally More, Trader Joe’s cranberry apple butter (I think I said it was cranberry orange before, but no, it’s apple, and it’s so so so good!) 

WOW!!!! I wish you could have had some 😉

Today was the usual Monday workout of RPM, BodyPump, with a twist of Flow Yoga (with Margee…one of my favorite teachers!). Margee always challenges me, and she really brought it with core work today! WOO!

When I ran in from the cold came home for lunch, I did NOT know what I wanted. I can’t stand when I’m not craving something not :(. so I ended up with…a little mug of vegetable soup (green beans, okra, black beans, corn, lima beans, veggie broth)…

with some seasoning (crushed red pepper flakes and mixed seasoning from the Farmer’s Market.)

…the rest of my Amy’s pizza (roasted veggie with no cheese) and some carrots, cucumbers, and celery with Moroccan hummus.

Plus a Fuji apple with peanut flour banana sauce. I figured y’all were tired of that photo 😉 with some 1/2 caff to warm my bones. It’s starting to snow here, so I cancelled Zumba for tonight 😦 I will miss my ladies so much!!!


Also, I need to tell y’all about a decision I made. I am participating in Awake 21. I have felt the Lord calling me to fast for a couple weeks now. I did not think it was wise to do it with food right now, so I’ve been seeking what to fast as I want to spend extra time praying for my trip to South Africa, the country as a whole, its people, my team, and for the financial support that I still need to raise. Besides food, I thought about what I spend a lot of time doing that would mean A LOT to me to sacrifically give up for 21 days…

  • TV – it’s become the 1 family activity that my parents and I do together and talk about every week, and I don’t think it’s wise or healthy to give that up with them right now as they’ve been so sweet to me through my crazy journey these past few months.
  • Food – I need to nourish my body and didn’t see it as healthy to forgo food for 21 days.
  • Exercise – it’s my job right now, so that’s a no go
  • Reading blogs – sadly, this is what I feel is best.

I am going to continue writing my blog so that y’all can walk with me through this process and pray with me; however, I am taking a 3 week fast from each of your wonderful lives. I feel so selfish asking you to continue reading Ashley Avenue when I am not going to be reading back, but I hope that you do. Feel free to leave me comments on my blog about your lives as I’ll still be reading and responding to those. I’ll be back to reading on February 1st, but for now, that’s a HUGE chunk of time that I can be spending preparing and praying about my trip and the funds I need to get there. God’s already BLOWN MY MIND with the support that has come in, and I have NEVER before raised $3000 for anything, so it’s totally in His hands.

If y’all would like to help support me, or have a creative idea for how I can raise $, leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail (ashley dot nicole dot sauls at gmail dot com). I am trying to get creative. Thank-you in advance for understanding and for always being so gracious to me. Y’all mean a lot to me!




A Breakfast Challenge January 9, 2011

Good morning, y’all! As much as I was looking forward to that repeat bowl of oats this morning, I am sticking to my goal of stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things. I was inspired by Ashley’s post entitled “melty gooey chewy bananer oat goodness.” I like all those words! Plus, I had a little more time this morning than most days as I AM TAKING A REST DAY aka doing NOTHING pertaining to exercise, so it’s a good time to take a little extra time to cook.

Get ready for this, y’all!

I’m taking votes for a title for what to call this creation, besides a foodgasm, of course!

  • 3 Tbsp rolled oats
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax meal
  • 1 Tbsp almond milk 
  • 1/2 smashed banana
  • 1 tsp sexy spice aka cinnamon
  • splash of maple extract
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • optional peanut flour sauce, cacao nibs and blueberries, for toppings

1. Mash banana until wet with a fork.

2. Mix in all other ingredients until holding together. (It’s essentially a breakfast cookie that you’ll cook…interesting. I LIKE it!)

3. Heat + grease a pan over medium heat.

4. Plop the scramble into the pan and shape into a patty, about 1/2” thick.

5. Cook for about 3min until browned. (The “blob” is easier to mold once it cooks for a little bit.)

6. Toast bread or whatever you want to eat it on, like an english muffin. I just did 1 slice as I wanted mine to be open face 😉

7. Flip + cook until the other side is browned.

8. Put a thin spread of organic mixed berry jam on the toast.

9. Top “cookie” on toast. Slather with peanut flour banana sauce or other nut butter and whatever other toppings you’re feeling. I used cacao nibs and blueberries. WOW! It lived up to all of Ashley’s descriptive words!

 And some STRONG half caff…

My cute little helpers…

Now my computer keys are sticky as I ate and typed to get this to y’all. hehe Jets/Colts game was a nailbiter. Lots of football today! What are y’all up to?


To Rest or Not to Rest January 8, 2011

Hey y’all! What a day! How was your Saturday?

I woke up this morning without an alarm at 6:30 after going to bed at 12:30 a.m. My intention was to sleep in today and then go to an hour RPM (a Les Mills cycling class) at 8 a.m. After doing my quiet time, I battled back and forth with going as I was exhausted from the Dance Party last night and 5 hours of sleep (not rest) the past 2 nights because of early classes.  My options were to take a day off or go to yoga at 10 a.m. I wasn’t starving as I usually am when I wake up and was running out of time as I was trying to decide what to do. I struggle with how many calories I’d burn today (this is SO vulnerable and scary to put out there…whew!) since I knew my family was going to Carraba’s for dinner.

In the end, I laid back down on the couch for a little less than an hour, then got up, made some yummy breakfast and went to 10 a.m. yoga. I want to encourage y’all and ask your advice on your mental battles. Do you ever have mental conversations with yourself on body/nutrition/exercise issues?

 I’m trying to stick with my goal listening to my body this year. I know it’s important to take time for your body to repair and get rested for your next workouts, but I have a difficult time with full days off and am praying for God to teach me how to prioritize and take care of the one and only temple I’ll ever have. I’d love to hear anything y’all have to offer on this issue of rest days. What do your rest days look like…doing nothing, a little stretching, etc.?


My yummy breakfast was a bowl of oats with a muffin crumbled on top! Oh, how I have missed this goodness in my life. ANNND these muffins were even better than the last batch! You can really taste the apple pie spice since there’s not a lot of other competing flavors. Observe Exhibit A…

In the mix:

  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats, almond milk, water, Kiefer (NEW INGREDIENT of the day!!!)
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp peanut flour
  • 1/2 smashed banana
  • sprinkles of salt and sexy spice
  • toppings: crumbled Rise and Shine Muffin, blackberries, 1 Tbsp Trader Joe’s cranberry orange spread (another new AMAZING ingredient!), a little Naturally More (for digestive help!)

Today’s new ingredients as you can see were keifer and the cranberry orange spread. I tried keifer because when I use greek yogurt, I like to liquid stuff on top in the morning mix because of the little liquid consistency, so i figured I’d just try keifer, and it turned out great! I was afraid that it would be too liquidy…nope! Perfect consistency! The peanut flour in the mix really balanced it out well. My other new ingredient was the cranberry orange spread from Trader Joe’s. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!!! It’s the perfect flavor combo at breakfast. I tried it since I like their pumpkin butter so much, and it did not disappoint.

Is it bad that I’m already excited about a repeat in this polka dot beauty tomorrow morning?!

Oh, follow-up from yoga. It was great! I loved Mira’s flow today. I was really challenged, and it felt great to stretch out my muscles from yesterday. It didn’t matter that I didn’t burn all those calories from RPM. I challenged myself in a different way, and I discovered that I love binding poses. We did a bound tree fold today that felt great! And we did a flower pose…so pretty!

I went to the store with Mom then came home for lunch. I cooked a massive bunch of kale on the stove top with a little EVOO and garlic and 1/4 cup of water. The bunch was taking up so much room in our frige that I just decided to cook it. It’s amazing how much smaller it is cooked down hehe. Plus, I had enough for leftovers for later this week.

For lunch, I just put some on a plate as a bed for a Morning Star veggie burger (love these!) topped with roasted red pepper hummus…

…and a small organic cameo apple with peanut flour sauce and a Rise and Shine muffin. The muffins are SO good!

Plus some Starbucks Caramel coffee. Perfect lunch! This coffee is really good. I don’t use coffee cream, so having flavored coffee is a great treat!


Summit was incredible tonight, especially worship! Our sermon was on Isaiah 11:19-30, and we were challenged on how respond to how God is working and not becoming too complacent or enjoying glory that belongs to him. I was challenged to examine where I can more sacrifically live and give.

As I mentioned, we had dinner plans for Carraba’s…

I started with a glass of red wine (the Sangiovese-Merlot blend). Yummy!

An Italian side salad (thank-you, Carraba’s, for not drowning the salad with dressing!)

And Chicken Bryan (with no butter) and green beans.

I didn’t want dessert tonight (gasp! I know!). I guess I’m just looking forward to breakfast!

Saints lost 😦 Watching the Jets and Colts play now…

Thanks for reading, y’all, seriously! I look forward to your comments on rest .


The Queen of Multitasking

Hey y’all! How’s your Friday going so far? Mine’s been productive. I love multitasking. It’s just the way my brain works.

I got up at 4 a.m. to be at the gym by 5 a.m. for cardio before my 6 a.m. Pump class. 😉 Those people make getting up early SO worth it. They are such a blast!

I don’t know why, but I have been extra hungry the past few days (if anyone can look over my posts and see how to help, I’d appreciate it. I feel like I’m gaining weight, and I am actually hungry, not emotional or boredom eating.)

I didn’t know what to feed my growling tummy this morning, so I ended up with a smorgasbord of 1 piece of cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread with peanut flour banana sauce spread on it, an apple with some Naturally More spread on it (I really needed some fiber and digestive help, so I went for it!).


And a small yogurt bowl of greek yogurt with ½ sliced banana and blackberries. All was garnished with sexy spice!


And some half caff coffee in the ol’ “inspiration tumbler,” of course!

When that was scarfed down and my quiet time done, I got to multitasking.

Side note – I had an amazingly enlightening time in the Bible this morning about how God uses are circumstances to speak to us. I am not sure of my future plans, though I have a plan to get where I want to go. He will clue me in on His plan for me if and when I need to know what the amount of detail that I need to know. He has a great perspective that I do, and He knows how it ends. I don’t. My circumstances now by the world’s standards call me a failure, but I know He’s developing my character for what’s to come and allowing me to know Him in a different way than I ever could without going through these specific circumstances. I just really wanted to share that with y’all because I have seen a lot of relevant posts recently.

Back to multitasking:

I am trying to do a facial mask once a week for my skin this year, but I hate having to put it on and wait for 10-15 minutes before washing it off, BUT it’s the perfect thing to do while baking 😉 So I put on my mask, and went into the kitchen. My Daddy thought I was having a bad make-up day.

I miss my muffins in my oats in the morning and have not made time to make anymore since my “Everything But the Kitchen Sink” ones ran out, so this happened.


 This time, I went with Eat Clean Morning Glory Muffins, but adapted the recipe a little to this, what I’m calling the “Rise and Shine muffin”…

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 cup peanut flour
  • 2 Tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Flaxseed Meal
  • 3/4 cup Nature’s Patch pumpkin and raisin oat cereal
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup Sucanat
  • 1 tsp apple pie spice
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1/3 cup dried cherries

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 banana mashed
  • 2 Tbsp applesauce
  • 1/4 cup egg whites 
  • 1/2 cup plain keifer
  • 1/2 small organic Cameo apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


  • Put all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well.

  • Put all wet ingredients in a medium bowl and mix.

  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients without over mixing.
  • Fill greased or lined muffin tins about ¾ full with batter.

  • Bake at 425*F for 15-20 minutes (I baked them convection style for 15 minutes, and my toothpick came out clean as a whistle!)

  • Enjoy, feast, gawk at, anticipate how lovely they’ll be in oats tomorrow morning 😉

While those were in the over, I got dressed for lunch and curled my hair with hot rollers. While the rollers were setting, I cleaned the bathrooms in our house.

Whew!  Multitasking is fun…it’s like a game 😉

I had lunch with a group of ladies that I worked with high school at a local boutique. They are all in their 60s, but we have a blast together and try to get together for birthdays. We were celebrating one of their birthdays today at a local restaurant called Cooley’s (if it’s your birthday you pick where we meet), which does not have a lot of healthy options, but one can get creative.

One thing I love about lunching with these ladies is that we always have Chardonnay no matter where we go.


We sat for over 2 hours just chitchatting over our meal. I had a garden salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and red onion (no cheese or croutons, please!) with a sun-dried tomato basil vinaigrette on the side. By the time we ate it was close to 2 p.m., so I easily demolished it.


I had a dental cleaning appointment that went really well. They sandblasted my teeth with fluoride since I have a coffee addiction affinity that I’m not willing to give up. They feel clean and smooth now. I ran a few errands to pick up the essentials…Larabars (which I can NOT find on sale anywhere! grrr) and Naturally More. I can only find Naturally More at Wal-Mart, which I detest going into, so I really stock up when I go. You should see the checkout people when they ring up all my jars of Naturally More 😉

One of the gyms I teach at had a two-hour Dance Par-tay tonight that included Zumba and two Les Mills programs BodyJam and Sh’Bam.


What a blast! I was a sweaty mess when I left there, and the time flew by!

The lights were off except for strobe lighting and twinkle lights all around the room. It was a night club at the gym, and we let the booty shake, if you know what I mean 😉


For dinner, my family went to one of our favorites, Bass Lake Draft House. We used to come at least once a week in the summer but have slacked off some. We always sit in the bar area and have made friends with the staff. They have a great selection of beer on draught as well as vino and cocktails.


I tasted Magic Hat’s Winter Ale, but I didn’t like the taste. I thought about ordering Woodchuck Pear cider, but I knew that I wanted dessert. I just went with a little water instead to save the calories.

I had my usual there for dinner. ..grilled salmon with double veggies and no rice.


And the dessert I’d been so excited to order:

CHOC’LATE LOVIN’ SPOON CAKE – giant mouthful of chocolate pudding between two layers of dark, moist chocolate drenched chocolate cake.  WOOOO! I had some decaf too. No meal is complete without decaf at the end in my opinion.

Are you a “multitasker” or a one-thing-at-a-time kind of person?