The Importance of Being Reese: May 2015

Southwestern Black Bean Salad

Allow me to introduce you to this delightfully nutritious and ridiculously delicious Southwestern Salad. This salad is one of my go-to salads because it's quick, packed with hearty greens and completely gorgeous. As a bonus this southwestern salad is low in saturated fat and packed with antioxidants. It goes great as a side dish for grilled meat, fish or chicken. I typically pair it with a light caesar or balsamic dressing, but this salad is so versatile that you can basically match it with any dressing.

Large head of romaine
1 package of spring mix
(1)15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 roma tomato
2 cups corn
1 onion (I prefer purple)
Optional: avocado, feta cheese, cilantro, tortilla strips

Cook beans and corn, allow to cool. In a large bowl, combine beans, corn, tomato, onion, cilantro, salt and pepper. Sprinkle mixture on top of the romaine and spring lettuce. Serve with a smile. Enjoy!

Like this recipe? Repin for later, retweet for to your friends, or leave a comment below.

Until next time,

3 Chili Shrimp and Corn

Warmer weather in our home typically dictates lighter, healthier meals. There's something about being overly warm that makes us want to avoid heavy meals. Enter my 3 Chili Shrimp and Corn recipe. Simple, healthy and delicious. I first stumbled upon a similar recipe a few years back. After some modifications and experimentation, I created a similar recipe with a few flavorful twists that keeps my family coming back for more.

But be forewarned, this recipe is SPICY. It's not for the faint of heart, so if spicy food is not your thing, you may want to leave now while your taste buds are still intact.

4 teaspoons olive oil
3 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1.5 teaspoon salt
1.5  cup chopped onion
1  cup chopped red bell pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 small bag of  frozen whole-kernel corn
1 small can of diced tomatoes
1.5 cup chopped green onions
1 (1.5) pounds peeled shrimp

Combine sugar, chili powder, and salt in a bowl. Add shrimp to mixture and toss well to coat. I like to use a simple tupperware bowl with a lid so I can shake the mixture for an even coat.

After you're done combining the shrimp and spices, add 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onions, and bell peppers to the warm pan. Sauté  veggies for about 3 minutes or until soft. Add remaining 1.5 teaspoons sugar, tomatoes, and corn to pan. Cook for an  additional 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a separate pan, heat 1 teaspoon of oil in pan on medium-high heat. Add shrimp to pan and cook about 3 minutes or until done, turning once. Plate shrimp on top of corn mixture. Serve with a smile. Enjoy!

As always, if you loved this recipe, be sure to tweet, repin or comment below.

Until next time!

5 Social Media Rules Every Blogger Should Follow

Be Kind
Drama in the blogosphere is just as pervasive as drama in high school. It lurks in the corners of the interwebs--beckoning you to get involved. Don't. Seriously-- stay out of it. You never know who's watching, and it can be a huge turnoff for brands to see you behaving like a character out of Mean Girls. My rule of thumb-- if I have to think twice about posting, it probably isn't a good idea. Keep it clean.

Give More Than You Receive
This is the biggest of them all. Please, please, please, share posts from other bloggers within your niche. This is a major faux pas I see from far too many bloggers. As a general rule, I aim to keep a healthy ratio of my posts vs posts from other similar bloggers. And I always, always add their handle so they know I'm retweeting them. This helps me build relationships with bloggers within my niche, and sometimes, they even return the love. Always be willing to give more than you receive.

Be Consistent
You don't have to post 20 times a day, but keeping an active social media presence makes it easier for people to notice and keep up with you. It also makes it more likely that someone will stumble upon your blog- increasing your traffic in the process. There are some great automated tools to help with this--Hootsuite and Buffer just to name a few. Do a little research to find out which options best fit your budget.

You Can't Be Everywhere.
This was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. The thing about blogging is it's not just enough to have a blog, you have to have an active social media presences. One of my biggest mistakes was attempting to be everywhere at once. This led to a major burnout. After nearly a year of debating, I finally cut the tethers on my Facebook Fanpage. It was a tough decision, but I ultimately decided that I couldn't keep up with Facebooks ever changing rules/pay-to-promote methods. With Instagram taking the forefront of the top sources of blog referrals, I decided to let Facebook go and dedicate my time to Instagram. In the month since I returned from my hiatus, I've gained 500+ Instagram followers. It has taken A LOT of work, but I'm pretty happy with the results.

Always Give Credit Where Credit is Due
Are you using photos from other bloggers without giving them credit? This is the ultimate no-no. It's almost akin to going into someones home, sleeping in their bed, eating their food, and then waltzing off without thanking them. Not only is it illegal, but it's just plain rude. As bloggers, we spend an absurd amount of time creating and editing photos to help tell a story, if you'd like to use one of our pictures, just give us a shout out. You'll earn more friends by giving us credit then you will by trying to pass of others content as your own.

What do you think of these social media rules? Do you have any that you would add to this list?

Birthday Cake Smoothie

Question of the day: What's better than birthday cake?

Answer: A birthday cake smoothie. Or rather, a healthy birthday cake smoothie. Until last week, I didn't think it was possible for birthday cake and healthy to be used in the same sentence. A bit of experimenting taught me otherwise.

Yesterday we celebrated Little J's fourth birthday. Sometime in between looking at her old baby photos, smelling her old onsies and sobbing hysterically, I managed to whip of a batch of this ridiculously delicious Birthday Cake Smoothie. Don't get me wrong, cake was still had this year, but in an effort to remain somewhat healthy, it was a bit on the smaller side.

1 cup vanilla almond milk
2 large banana, sliced and frozen
½ cup plain yogurt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract

Sprinkles (optional)

Add ingredients to blender (sans sprinkles) Blend well. If your smoothie is the not the right consistency, add additional vanilla milk as needed. Top with sprinkles. Serve with a smile.

Simple enough, crazily healthy and oh so delicious.

Like this smoothie? Check out more of my delicious smoothies recipes, Retweet to your friends, or Repin for later!

Until next time,

Baltimore is Burning

Baltimore is burning, and I've been watching from afar as the flames of distrust and hate threaten to swallow the city whole. Over the course of a few days I've watched as my Facebook feed has predictably filled with rants from well-meaning people--the "good people."

Not long ago I quietly watched those same people rail against the protesters in Ferguson. But then the Department Of Justice released those damning reports, highlighting the severity of the systemic racism found throughout the police department, and those same voices were noticeably silent. People went back into their corners to rest up for the next time. Just as they will when the fires burning in Baltimore finally smolder out.

These past few days I've been watching the coverage of Baltimore with a mixture of compassion and disbelief. On one hand, a very real part of me understands why this is happening. What's happening in Baltimore is something that happens in nearly every city, in every county, in every state. It lurks on the street corners of the seemingly perfect neighborhood. It rests on the lips of those who "don't see color," and "have that one black friend."

And although that part of me understands why the streets of Baltimore are filled with the chant "no justice, no peace," the other part of me hates that it is. In many ways, I feel like I'm at war with myself. I'm fighting for what I know to be true, versus what I want to be true, and it's not a good place to be in.

I've put myself in the shoes of Freddie Gray's family many times. I've tried to imagined what it must feel like to have lost a son. To feel powerless and helpless. To cry out, but to have your voices drowned out by people who decided who your son would be from the moment he took his first breath.

I've watched the media coverage from both sides. I've listened to the media pundits toss around inflammatory words like "thugs" and "animals"all while simultaneously avoiding those who are peacefully crying out. They are in pain. Baltimore is in pain.

The truth is, what's happening in Baltimore is not just about Freddie Gray. It is so much deeper, much more visceral than that. What's happening in Baltimore is about the state of things that led to someone believing that Freddie Gray's life was somehow less important. What's happening in Baltimore isn't just about racism--it's about poverty, circumstance and our inability to empathize with that which does not directly effect us.

There is plenty of blame to be passed around.

Freddie Gray grew up in poverty. He was the son of an absentee father. He raised by a mother who suffered from severe substance abuse and could not read. The apartment building he spent his formative years in was so riddled with lead paint, that in a 2008 court settlement, it was deemed that both he and his sisters would never lead "normal functional lives" because of the levels of lead that was present in their blood. He had been arrested 18 times.

Freddie Gray grew up in a society where he was 21 times more likely to be killed by the police than young white man. He was born into a society where a former U.S Secretary of Education can say things like, "If you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose -- you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down." He was born into a society where the school-to-prison pipeline continues to rob children of an opportunity to do better for themselves.

The truth is Freddie Gray never stood a chance. Freddie Gray is now a statistic that will be used in arguments about the prevalence of racism in our society. But ultimately, Freddie Gray was someone's child. He was someone's brother. He was someone's best friend. He was someone and his life mattered.

Baltimore is burning. And eventually the flames will die down. But it's only a matter of time before another city is ablaze. We'll begin this same dance--this same routine. The question is, what will we have learned?

Image Credit: Chris Weiland