Embracing a healthier lifestyle

I shocked myself last week. During one of our beautiful, mid-70 degree days, I knew I needed to fit in a workout, and instead of turning on one of the many YouTube fitness videos (I do love those) part of my regimen, I had the sudden urge to just lace up my running shoes and hit the pavement. THAT HAS NOT HAPPENED IN YEARS. In high school, I ran cross country, but after a few years, asthma started to plague me. Even more recently, what was once deemed “exercise-induced asthma” turned into a more round-the-clock version. Yay! Running in the South also requires a certain ability to get up before the sun, and the temps hit 90+. This night owl scoffs at that thought. The few times I’ve done it, though, I was super proud of myself. So, there’s that. 

I’ve turned to other forms of exercise to chase a healthier lifestyle throughout my 20s, which is why I was surprised to have the urge to run. Even more surprising? It felt awesome! Sure, I still huff and puff like I might keel over any second, but my body responded positively. And, this “29-going-on-30-year-old” really appreciates that. What better way to usher in a new decade than to return to something I thought had peaked in high school? World…watch out! New trails are about to be blazed… 😉 

If you’re not into running right now, check out this incredibly effective kettlebell workout

Healthy lifestyle? Gotta have a healthy recipe on hand...

Deconstructed Taco Salad

deconstructed taco bowl | chickpeas, quinoa, black beans, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, and avocado

Deconstructed Taco Bowl

Melanie Lorick
Fresh ingredients are the key to this zesty and filling deconstructed taco bowl. A spinoff of Chipotle's ever-popular salad bowl, you can enjoy this all year and feel no guilt!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Salad
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 2 people



  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt for quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Roasted Chickpeas

  • 1 15 ounces can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 1 ounces taco seasoning packet
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Pico de Gallo

  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lime zest
  • pinch coarse sea salt

Salad Bowl

  • 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce substitute with lettuce of your choice, if desired
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese substitute with cheese of your choice, if desired
  • 2 limes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 avocado thinly sliced


Pico de Gallo

  • Chop tomatoes, removing seed membrane and chop remaining vegetables.
  • Combine tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, vinegar, lime juice, lime zest, and coarse sea salt in a small bowl.
  • Add more vinegar or salt, if preferred. Allow to sit in the refrigerator while you prepare the remaining ingredients.


  • Rinse quinoa under running water using a strainer and continue rinsing until the draining water is clear.
  • Combine quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil on stovetop over medium-high heat. Once the quinoa boils, reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes, or until the water is mostly absorbed.
  • Remove lid and remove the pot from the stove, allowing the quinoa time to sit for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and stir in salt and garlic powder, or any other seasonings you prefer.

Roasted Chickpeas

  • Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  • Drain and rinse chickpeas in colander and allow to dry, or pat with a towel until excess water has been removed.
  • In a bowl, stir taco seasoning, olive oil, and salt until thoroughly combined.
  • Spread evenly on non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven and stir. Return to oven for another 15-20 minutes or until the chickpeas are crispy. Allow to cool.

Black Beans

  • Rinse and drain black beans. Warm over low heat until ready to serve.

Deconstructed Taco Bowl

  • Plate ingredients next to each other. Divide all ingredients evenly on two plates. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt, lime juice from the lime wedges, and serve.
Keyword salad, taco, taco bowl
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

By a show of virtual hands, how many of you love Chipotle’s chips?   Those are one of my weaknesses in life. Though, if I’m being honest, most restaurant chips should probably find a way to run and hide when I’m close. Case in point, my first date with Cliff was at a popular restaurant in Tuscaloosa, and I was so nervous that I absentmindedly munched several BASKETS of the free chips (plus my meal…). The waiter just kept bringing fresh chips, and I didn’t notice a thing until Cliff started to chuckle. Here I am, trying to look pretty and sound witty, and the entire time I’m shoving chips in my mouth like I’d never eaten a meal in my life. 

In all honesty, though, we both had our moments that evening. Cliff kept getting green margarita salt on his upper lip…we were a match made in heaven, and the world of Mexican cuisine. 

Lately, I’ve been making more of an effort to eat healthier, and “cleaner.” I’ve started making my own salad dressings (primarily, balsamic vinaigrette) to avoid the preservatives and extra calories in store-bought dressings. And, I’ve had to face the fact that even though a veggie bowl from Chipotle is a relatively good selection, I can’t restrain myself from munching on those salty, hint-of-lime pieces of goodness. I ask Cliff to take the entire bag of chips away from me once I get close to seeing empty space at the bottom of the bag. NOT GOOD! 

A few tips for the perfect deconstructed taco salad

  1. I did not cook the quinoa in vegetable broth. Rather, I threw in some minced shallot and garlic cloves to add flavor. 
  2. We added canned black beans (not the best from a sodium perspective, but baby steps, right?).
  3. Cliff and I aren’t fans of raw tomatoes (gasp!), so I decided to make my own version of the recipe and thought a version of pico de gallo would be perfect. I chopped a large tomato, and added minced cilantro, shallots, and a splash of white vinegar. 
  4. Be sure to remember the lime wedges and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt…we almost forgot. I sprinkled the lime juice over everything on the plate, and the Greek yogurt almost tasted better to me than sour cream. Yum!
  5. Extra chickpeas do make a healthy snack for later. We are all about dual-purpose cuisine in this house!

Final step: Relax and Give Back

Obsession of the week: Glassybaby candles and drinkers

An Armistead family favorite for years, Seattle and Berkeley-based glassybaby products are beautiful in their stunning color. Votive candle holders (I use tea lights) and drinkers are hand-blown, so each product is slightly unique. Once a candle is lit, the entire holder glows with warmth and adds a sophisticated pop of color to your home. Since spring has arrived, I’ve pulled out my pink glassybaby, but transition to red in the fall. 

pink glassybaby candle

Best of all, 10% of each glassybaby purchase is donated to a variety of causes. For example, March 2017 proceeds were donated to organizations helping those with pediatric cancer. Not only are you purchasing the perfect gift for yourself, or a friend, but helping others. 

For my Alabama friends: glassybaby just created a new line of candle holders with the most adorable elephant painted on the glass, called “tembo.” You can choose from three varieties, and 10% of the proceeds will be used to help save the elephants from poachers worldwide. Can I get a “Roll Tide” to that?

Lend a Helping Hand: AWARE (Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort)

Did you know that April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month? Therefore, each post this month will include an idea about how you can help animals; both domestic and wild. I learned about a neat program in my own backyard this week, called AWARE (Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort), located at the base of Arabia Mountain in DeKalb County, GA. This program has been in operation from 2006 and works to rehabilitate or injured or sick wild animals and return them to the wild. Those that cannot return to their native habitat are kept at the center as “ambassador” animals to help educate the public about their importance in our environment. Want to learn more about their fantastic efforts, and how you can help/visit? Just click on the above title!

One of the most important factors to preventing cruelty to animals is education. Just a basic understanding of how important animals are the balance of our ecosystem (let alone the fact that being humane shouldn’t be too much to ask) would go a long way in preventing harm, extinction, and more. I have always believed that if someone is cruel enough to harm an innocent animal, they are capable of doing damage in other ways, too. 

What animal rights organizations have you supported, and what ideas would you like to share? <3 

I would love to hear from you! If you have any current obsessions, recipe requests, or ideas to share, please like, follow, or comment. If you’ve decided to try any of the recipes, let me know your thoughts! Sending you <3 <3 <3 from GA! 

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