7 Dimensions of Wellness

7 Dimensions of Wellness
7 Dimensions of Wellness

Monday, November 2, 2015

Meatless Monday: A Twist on Cha Cha | A Southern Tradition

Southern Cuisine aka Soul Food, by way of my Granny, gave me my first lessons in the kitchen. One of the dishes I learned to make was a condiment called “Cha Cha” or known as “Chow Chow” in some areas on the U.S. I know what you’re thinking, what is this “Cha Cha” this lady speaks of? Hold tight. I’ve got a story. redCabbage3
Cha Cha is magic. It’s hybrid of a relish/condiment/slaw. It’s a combination of hearty vegetables like cabbage, tomatoes, onions, spices and vinegar, and are blended together to make a tangy topping for your chicken, greens, cornbread, etc. In my eyes, its a slaw, relish, salad, side dish, all of the above. This little slaw type mixture can go really far. Growing up, my Granny made Cha Cha by the ton, it’s truly a standing tradition in my family. My uncle has taken over where my Granny left off, and I know she would be proud. Cha Cha is such a unique flavor. Spicy, Tangy, Sweet.  I just love the components of Cha Cha, and one day I thought, “Why not pull this together somehow and create this in a side dish form.?” Insert my twist on Cha Cha.  This is a dish that pairs perfect with rice, pasta, pork or chicken. It versatile. For my twist on this classic, recipe I used a red purple cabbage, and turned this into a dish that screams “comfort meal.” Thanks Granny, for inspiring this one.  Oh, it Vegan Friendly. :)
Grab the recipe below.

Granny's Cha Cha-revamped
Comfort defined. A popular condiment under goes a revamp. Sweet, savory cabbage side dish.
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
  1. 1 Large Red Cabbage, halved, and chopped slaw style
  2. 2 carrots, diced
  3. 1 medium onion, diced
  4. 1 celery stalk, diced
  5. 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  6. 1 Tablespoon Grapeseed Oil
  7. 1/2-3/4 cup Water
  8. 3/4 cup Apple Cider Balsamic Vinegar
  9. 1/4 cup White Sugar
  10. 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  11. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  12. Heavy pinch of Black Pepper
  1. In a heavy bottomed pot, heat grapeseed oil.
  2. To the pot on medium heat, add cabbage, vegetables, and fennel seeds, stir to combine.
  3. Add Sugar, Salt, Pepper, Water and stir until well combined and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat, and cover with lid and cook for 1 hour until tender.
  5. In the last 20 minutes of cooking add Apple Cider Vinegar and stir well to combine.
  6. Serve and Enjoy!

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Have you had your mental and emotional check up lately?

This time of year I often start getting emails from both my medical provider and company benefits group reminding me that it is that time of year again.

  • Time for me to get my annual physicals.
  • Time for me to take a look at my 4-1K to insure I'm still making the right financial decisions for my future.

All though these things are very important, just as important is my regular mental and emotional check up. How many of us stop every so often to really evaluate where we are emotionally and mentally?

There has been a lot of discussion going on lately about mental health care in the light of recent shootings. Questions about how come these individuals were not flagged sooner.
Well we may never know the answer to this, but it doesn't mean that we should not be doing our own personal and emotional check.

It is a good thing to be aware of your emotional and mental pulse, and we should not make it a habit to wait to focus on these areas in our life when they hit crisis mode.

There is nothing wrong with taking time out of your busy days and lives to stop to asses where you are at emotionally.

The truth be told it is very difficult to focus on how to become  successful financially and physically when our emotional and mental life are in a constant turmoil. So give your self permission to find that quite place and check out where you are.

If you don't like the diagnosis, then start to put a plan in place to change things. Do what's necessary to make this happen.
If it is Yoga, quite walks in the park or making an appointment to talk with someone, go for it.

Don't neglect your mental and emotional health because sometimes in life it is all we have.
By Yolanda M. Askew

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Mean Girls! Bullying In the Workplace and its Impact on Your Health

My oldest daughter is a junior in high school when she comes home to tell me that she's quitting the soccer team. I'm confused and suspicious. Anne loves soccer and has played every year since the age of 5. After some probing into why she made this decision, I discover that the source of her issues are a couple of soccer teammates who are unhappy about her successfully making varsity. Instead of welcoming her to the team, a key senior player makes a comment implying that she did not fairly earn her position and that she was only on the roster because they needed the diversity.

She tries to let it go and play her position on the team anyway. However, after a few weeks of sabotage (ex. not passing her the ball when it was strategically the best option) and social isolation, Anne quits. I support her decision and agree not to go have a talk with the team coach. But I do advise her that her troubles are far from over. "These same mean girls will grow up and become your co-worker or even worse, your boss. When you've got bill bills to pay, quitting isn't always an option."

Bullying doesn't stop with kids!

Forbes makes an interesting connection between school aged bullies and workplace bullies and finds that "in addition to intimidating their victims, they may spread rumors to tarnish a coworker's reputation, or fail to invite an employee to a key team meeting." The Workplace Bullying Institute estimates that up to one-third of employees may be victims of workplace bullying, "a systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction that jeopardizes your health, your career, the job you once loved. Bullying is a non-physical, non-homicidal form of violence and, because it is violence and abusive, emotional harm frequently results."

While bullying is not limited to one particular gender, men are more likely to be equal opportunity bullies, abusing both men and women. However, women tend to favor bullying other women 70% of the time. Why? Gary Namie, Ph.D and co-founder of the Workplace Bullying Institute explains that "They're often less confrontational when attacked...They tend to turn their backs on bad behavior in a way that men might not."

Raising Awareness

During the month of October, schools and organizations across the country come together to observe National Bullying Prevention Month with the goal of encouraging communities raise awareness about bullying and cyberbullying, its prevalence and its impact on the health and safety of our children. I applaud this effort. However, children who bully other children do grow up and often continue their behavior in other areas of society. I would like to see the campaign expand to include bullying in the workplace.

The impact of workplace violence goes far beyond the individual being targeted. Businesses suffer in both productivity and morale. Families suffer the second hand stress in addition to the economic consequences of a caretaker having to either navigate a hostile work environment or quit altogether.

3 Things You Can Do.

  1. Know your workplace policies on bullying and other forms of harassment. 
  2. Take responsibility for the energy YOU bring to the workspace. 
  3. If you or someone you know is being bullied at work, try to find alternatives to quitting. The Workplace Bullying Institute is a great place to start. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Meatless Monday: Smoky Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese is one of those dishes that brings out the best or the worst in people. To Kraft or not to Kraft? Baked or Stove top? So many sides to this cheesy coin. Full, drawn-out wars could be fought over it. Okay, maybe not wars, but Mac & Cheese is a staple dish in my home. I make it often. In my family, I’m known for my baked mac & cheese. It’s hand delivered to every holiday gathering and usually made by the TON. Last Thanksgiving, I made 5 pounds. Yes, 5 pounds of ooey, gooey, butter baked mac and cheese.SmokyMac_FLT1
Recently, Mr. Foodlovetog decided to get in the kitchen and try his take on my classic recipe out of the blue. When I tell you I feel like my crown has been threatened… This man’s mac and cheese was perfection! After dinner, we swapped recipes and came up with something fantastic. There’s even a shocker of an ingredient: BBQ sauce, yep! As fate would have it, the woman with condiment issues marries the condiment king. Whenever I make Mac and Cheese, Mr. Foodlovetog puts bbq sauce in it… It’s his favorite way to eat it. Sounds crazy, but when added to the cheese sauce, it kicks the dish up at notch! Grab the recipe below, you’ll be glad you did! 
Smoky Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
43 min
  1. 3 Cups Elbow Macaroni Pasta
  2. 4 & 1/2 Cups Shredded Cheese ( 1 cup each Monterrey Jack, Queso, Sharp Cheddar, Mild Cheddar)
  3. 5 Tablespoons Butter, diced
  4. 4 Tablespoons Flour
  5. 1/4 Cup Sour Cream
  6. 3 Cups Half & Half (warmed)
  7. 2 Tablespoons of Hickory Smoked BBQ Sauce
  8. Black Pepper (several cracks)
  9. Salt (pinch)
  10. Paprika (heavy pinch)
  1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare an oven safe dish by coating in with 1 tablespoon of butter.
  3. Boil Pasta for 8 minutes, drain and set aside.
  4. In a heavy bottomed pot, melt 4 Tablespoons of butter.
  5. Stir in flour, pinch of salt and black pepper stir well to combine.
  6. Cook flour and butter mixture until golden blonde in color.
  7. Whisk in warmed half and half.
  8. Continually stirring, add Shredded cheese 1/2 cup at a time, until well blended and the cheese has melted. Reserve 1/2 cup of cheese for garnish.
  9. Turn off flame.
  10. Stir in Paprika, Sour Cream and BBQ Sauce, stir to combine.
  11. Add pasta to cheese sauce.
  12. Mix well and pour into prepared oven safe dish.
  13. Top with 1/2 cup of shredded cheese
  14. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until golden and bubbly.
  15. Serve and Enjoy!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

My Big "A" Race-IM 70.3 Augusta

September 27, 2015

Last year, Center of Wellness for Urban Women's (CWUW) founder, Rhonda Bayless tagged me in a post of one of her friends finishing the IM 70.3 Muncie triathlon. I cannot remember what she said exactly, but it was something like "LaWanda you should do this."

On September 27, 2015 I did just that, I completed a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run...ALL IN THE SAME DAY. Here is the story of my race day. 

I actually did not sleep well, mostly because I was concerned that I would oversleep. My alarm
sounds at 4 am, but I was already awake. Brandi and I chat for a bit and finally get up to start collecting our things. I realize that I had not applied my “tri tats” so I grab wet paper towels and apply the “44” and the M-dot (the Ironman brand) to each calf. As I check my handy work, I realize that I applied the “44” vertically and not horizontally…don’t judge, it was 4 am…lol I begin to laugh at myself and shared my blunder with Brandi, she offers to apply my arm tats and I agree to apply hers.

Tat blunder #2, I forgot to remove the backing from one of Brandi’s sets and it stuck to the paper. I actually cried about that one, I felt so bad. I apologized profusely and her reply “we’re TriTwins, so since your shoulder is taped and you have to write your bib number on the KT tape, just write on my arm.” Reason number 1, 345, 298 why I have the best TriTwin ever.
We head down to meet Richard and Carlos to head over to transition; I could not shake the feeling that I was forgetting something.  As we got closer to transition I see a lady take a drink from her water bottle and boom… ALL OF OUR BOTTLES were in the refrigerator at the hotel. I immediately share my revelation with Brandi and Richard and he reassures us that he will get our hydration…no worries. He returned with bottles before I was satisfied with my transition set up.

 The Start

The Best. Husband. Ever!
I was very emotional as we headed down to the swim start and very happy that my family was there. I hug and kiss my husband, hug my father and stepmother who flew in from Indiana to watch me race, and hug my daughter, Tiara. They were all wearing the shirts I designed with my bib on the front. We snapped a few pictures and continued our way to the start. Dorian took so many pictures and captured some candid moments, many of them caught Brandi and me crying.

The Swim:
I line up with my wave and see Veronica Wright; she has such a sweet spirit. She shares that “everyone” is there and she will point them in our direction so we can see them before we start. Before I know it here comes a portion of the Black Triathletes Association Support Crew-Valerie, Tasha Mack, and Tony. We hug, take pictures, and I line up with my swim wave. Janelle, my soror is volunteering! Dee, is racing and is in my wave. I was really happy to see them too. BTA was rolling deep in Augusta!
As we walk to the dock, I am really having a good time, just being silly. We make it down to the dock and I get into the water to fill my wetsuit and wait for the gun. Some chick says to me “move over.” I reply “no, I was here first, you walk down and find a spot.” She scoffs and stands there. I shrug and I inform her “you better not jump on me.” She walks away. The gun goes off.
I hang back as my wave starts and allow others to go, I still am not comfortable swimming with the pack. Once things clear a bit I start my stroke; after about 8 strokes I suck in water, panic, and flip on my back. “Okay, get your shit together, Elle.” I flip back over after a couple of minutes and hear Carlos say “buoy to buoy!” I nod and begin to swim…buoy to buoy. I finally settle in and all of a sudden something I feel something touching my foot. Shit, it was the wave behind me…the men! I was so afraid of them swimming over me that I kicked a little harder when someone touched me and my stroke was a little wider. I did that for a while and the rest of my swim was uneventful. I exit the swim. Yes!!!

Goal: 41:00 Actual: 44:25
I'm Out!!

T1: Swim to bike-8:49
OMG, the run from the swim exit to transition was so long. My legs felt heavy but I felt good. I spotted the wetsuit strippers and they had my suit off in seconds…that was fun. I run to my bike and change into my gear. I felt like I was moving in slow motion. My helmet felt weird, it was on backwards. My hands were shaking. I begin sipping on Infinit and head towards the bike exit. Oh shoot, my Garmin was still on my wrist. I take it off, put it on the bike and off I go.

The Bike:

I LOVE THE BIKE. LOVE THE BIKE. I felt so good. I had a strategy for my nutrition and how I would tackle this 56 miles. I set my Garmin to alert me when it was time to drink and I would take it easy on the hills. I had an idea of the course, I rode it during the summer. I had reviewed the YouTube video of the course, and I reviewed the course sheet Brandi made for us.  I slowed down my pace; I knew what was waiting for me…DISRESPECTFUL HILLS!
Mentally, I clustered the 56 miles into 5 sets of 10…plus 6. After every 10 I would say out loud “Elle, you have 4 more sets…3 more sets…etc.”  I was passed… a lot. I passed… a lot. I got tickled when I called out “Elle on your left.” I cursed the hills, I remember crying around mile marker 44 as I rode through the Wounded Warriors memorial, and I remember smiling as I saw Janita around mile marker 50. I had a good time.

Goal time: 4:15:00. Actual: 4:07:22

T2: 4:41
I was still feeling so good; I was diligent with my nutrition and finished my bottles (Infinit Custom Blend). My legs felt heavy, but I wasn’t concerned, the feeling was familiar. I changed my shoes, grabbed my hand held water bottle, and visor.

The Run: 3:22:20

I am not a fan of running, but I am happy because this is the last leg. I see Richard and Carlos; Richard shouts out words of encouragement and shares where my family and BTA are located on the course. Richard also shares my time and that Brandi is about 15 minutes ahead of me. I ask Richard and Carlos to get away from me because I don’t want a penalty, they drop back.
The run course feels flat and it is lined with spectators, everyone is cheering. It was amazing. I start my 3:1 intervals and they lasted all of 4 miles, after that, the fun was gone and the misery began shortly thereafter.

Mile 7sh, I check my time and I am on pace to finish in about 8:20:00ish, but then it happens, “The Gush” happens. The freakin’ Gush of urine. I pee on myself. I am mortified because I did not feel the urge to go. I run to a port o potty, struggle with clothes, the flood gates open, I struggle with clothes again. I feel so relieved. I can’t believe I didn’t know I had to pee. I continue on my run and grab water at the aid station and douse my girl bits. Shoot, now my shoes are wet. I am worried about the time I lost.

I see my husband and he calmly says, “baby, you need to pick up the pace” (or something like that). I reply, “okay, it’s time to finish this shit.” I remember Melana, Diana, and several other BTA folks began to chant, “finish this shit! Finish this shit. I smiled. I love my BTA Family.
I change my watch to the time of day vs. elapsed time; this gave me a better understanding how much time I had. I remember thinking “Elle, you have to keep a 15 min/mile.” I pray. I actually beg for strength to push.  I remind myself “you need to finish by 4:36pm. You can do this. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up. Don’t DNF.” I see my dad and Jessie; they are ringing the cowbells and cheering. I see Carlos and I ask him how much longer until the finish. He explains the last bit of the course and I yell for him to get away, I cannot afford a penalty. He moves…I think.
I finally pass the finish line…again heading into the final loop. I pass the Marriott…the aid station, turn the corner, and another, then I see the finish chute. I look at my watch. I run a little faster. I give high 5s. I begin to cry. I cross the finish. I see Brandi and she puts my medal on. I am done. I am done. I see my baby girl, T’Lai, my son, Christopher, and Lai’s friends. I cry more. I am so excited. So tired. I am finished. This is how my story ends.

Goal finish time 8:29:59  Actual: 8:27:37 (I actually had to finish the entire course 8:30:00 or I would have been received a Did not Finish...DNF)

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that my Infinit custom blend is the best. Other than sucking on an orange slice to taste something different and a couple cups of water, Infinit was my only source of nutrition once I got on the bike. Prior to my swim, I used 3 scoops of UCAN. The only issue I had was a side stitch heading into the final couple of miles on the run.

Monday, September 14, 2015

#MeatlessMonday | Roasted Eggplant and Marinara

I live for roasted veggies. Simple. Hearty. Delicious. Easy. Did I mention easy? It is almost impossible to just mess up a great roasted veggie. This week I decided to roast Eggplant and pair with my my favorite marinara sauce. Veggie lovers, this is for you. Check out the recipe and photo guide below.

Roasted Eggplant & Marinara

1 Fresh Eggplant



Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 cups Marinara Sauce recipe here

Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese to garnish

Sheet Pan

Non Stick Cooking Spray

Pre-heat oven at 350


Rinse/Wipe down Eggplant

Slice off ends and discard

Split eggplant in half, slice again in oblong slices about ½ inch thick.

Lightly spray sheet pan with non-stick cooking oil.

Layer eggplant on sheet pan

Lightly season with salt and pepper

Drizzle lightly with Extra Virgin olive oil

Bake in over for 25 minutes until tender.

Ladle a generous portion of marinara sauce onto a plate and layer roasted eggplant on top of the marinara sauce.

Sprinkle with cheese as a garnish.

Serve hot and enjoy.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Myth of the Superwoman

As I sit here in pain, unable to participate in the activities I’d planned, I had an epiphany.  The shame and guilt I feel are ridiculous.  Those feelings cropped up because I started comparing my life to my friends’ lives.  Somehow sitting on the couch was making me falling behind as if we were all in some competition.  

I also started thinking about other friends who pushed themselves until they ended up in the hospital.  They too have chronic medical conditions.  They too have Superwoman Syndrome.

What is Superwoman Syndrome? 
It is the belief that we as women have to do it all.  If we don’t do it, fix it or handle it then the world as we know it will cease to exist.  I’m using dramatic language, but this condition requires it.  Ask for help?  No, that’s a sign of weakness.  Superwoman doesn’t ask for help!!

Times have changed

When I was younger, the women in my community helped each other.  The kids would congregate at a different house on the weekends.   In retrospect, it was probably to give each other a break.  They planned events together.  They carpooled all the time.  There was always some sort of interaction between them.  Positive interaction. 

This sense of community is needed now more than ever.  The information age has brought with it a need to be everywhere and everything to everyone.  However, we can take control of our lives.  What are some of the ways we can learn to lean on each other?

Self-care is self-love.  You have to take care of yourself first.  If you aren’t 100%, then you can’t truly give to others.  Find time to recharge doing the things you love whether it is reading, taking a walk, exercise, etc.  You may find that the first step is to rediscover your passions.

Respect one another.  Honor each other as women.  This is our common ground.  From there, get to know each other.  Listen and share your stories.  Our lifestyles may be different, but at the end of the day we all want to be understood.

Resolve conflicts.  You want to be considered mature and wise?  Learn how to resolve conflicts in a productive manner.  It is important to understand different perspectives.  The result may be that you agree to disagree, but this is possible without harboring resentment and bitterness.

Look for ways to serve others.  A small gesture can go a long way.   Maybe you notice someone appears weary.  Make an extra portion of dinner and deliver it to them.  You could send them flowers or a hand written note.  Most times, we just need an empathetic ear and someone to reassure us that it’s going to be alright.

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head.  Share other ways that we can build a stronger community or how you have achieved this yourselves.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Meatless Monday: Mushroom & Spinach Lasagna Rolls

Lasagna has always been a comfort meal, and I wanted to do a quick change up and try a meatless version. Well this recipe turned out so well, my husband requests it more than my meat filled version. 
Grab the recipe below. 

Mushroom & Spinach Lasagna Rolls

Yields 12
Meatless, Hearty, & Chunky. A great meatless dish for someone looking to add more meat-free dishes to their recipe box.
1.      12 Lasagna noodles
2.      16 oz container of Ricotta Cheese (I use whole milk Ricotta)
3.      1 Large Egg
4.      1 & 1/2 cups Fresh Parmesan Cheese
5.      2 cups of Fresh Spinach
6.      1 Container of Baby Bella Mushrooms diced
7.      1 Large Shallot Diced
8.      Marinara Sauce- (grab recipe on the site) allow to simmer on low while you're making the rolls
9.      2 Tablespoon Butter
10.    Salt
11.    Pepper
1.      Pre-heat oven to 350
2.      While oven is preheating boil water for pasta
3.      Boil 12 Lasagna noodles for 7/12 minutes, drain and allow to cool on a sheet tray
4.      Heat butter in a skillet
5.      Add diced mushrooms and shallots and saute until soft
6.      Combine Ricotta and large egg, stir until smooth.
7.      Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese, Season with Salt, Pepper & set aside
8.      To build rolls
9.      Lay each lasagna pasta flat and spread Ricotta Cheese Mixture evenly across pasta
10.    Layer with spinach leaves length-wise
11.    Layer mushroom and shallot mixture
12.    Once complete, roll the noodle and its goodies to create a small circular roll shape.
13.    Spoon half of marinara sauce in the bottom of 9x13 pan
14.    Create a single layer of lasagna rolls
15.    Spread remaining Marinara Sauce atop rolls
16.    Sprinkle remaining Parmesan Cheese atop rolls
17.    Repeat until 12 rolls are complete
18.    Bake at 350 until Golden and bubbly, typically about 30 minutes.
19.    Serve and Enjoy!

- Candace is an Indianapolis native who blogs good eats and food for the soul at foodlovetog.com