Category Nicole Leigh Photographs

2012 Party in Pink Zumbathon (with Tamara)

Last Saturday I was invited to take photos of Zumba with Tamara‘s Party In Pink. I’ve done a couple of Zumba events (click the links!) in the past, but it was really fun to involved with this one.

The Party in Pink is the Zumba way of raising money during October for breast cancer awareness and research. One hundred percent of the donation-only cost of this event went directly to the research and cure of this awful disease. I felt honored and privileged to do this.

The ladies instructing were so enthusiastic and the attendees were equally as excited. If every person got this geared up like this inspirational women this would be a much better place. I hope Tamara invites me back next year- I’m already revved up!

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Rock It Off With Laura Zumba Kick Off Event!

So, remember how I mentioned Laura got certified in Zumba? Well, she had her first class last Friday and I was more than happy to be there to snap a few shots. I don’t photograph many events as I find food is my true love, but every now and again I like to help a friend. I am so proud of this woman and cannot wait to see where she takes this.

Also, if you’re in the area and want to check it out here is a link to her MeetUp page. And her Facebook while I’m at it. :)

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Vegan Staples – Grilled Veggies!

* There are a few staple items I think any vegan should have at the ready. More than I think most of these staples are items any household should have at the ready. My first in this series will be the delicious, simple and healthy:

Grilled Vegetables

Each week I go shopping and pick up a lot of fresh produce and take a half hour or forty-five minutes and grill it. For the photos you’ll see at the bottom I cut these much smaller than normal. I also skewered them (which I normally don’t bother with). You can cut them in large pieces or small like I have. They are great for dinners alone, with your families or even parties.

I get 6-8 bell peppers, 1-2 red onions, 4-6 small squashes, 4-6 medium zucchinis and any other local, fresh or on small fruit and veg I feel compelled. I cut, oil, salt/pepper (and sometimes other delicious spices!) and grill these bad boys then package them up. I serve them as a side dish, topper for salads, vegetable paninis or pitas, pizza toppings, mixed into quinoa or couscous, etc. It is such a versatile item to have that I can no longer imagine not having them.

I strongly suggest that you block off the 30-45 minutes one weekend (soon), get your veggies grilled up and enjoy them throughout the week. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that you will incorporate this into your weekly routine going forward.

What you’ll need:

- produce of your choosing, cut into sizes of your choice, enough olive or grapeseed oil to cut them, salt/pepper and any spices (I use chili powder quite often!)

What to do:

- place your veggies on a medium hot grill, turning after five minutes and taking off when staring to “wilt”

Last photo taken by Jason (you can see my chipped nail, haha!)

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What being Vegan means to me

 

Dork. Cat lover. Photo Enthusiast. Panda. Gamer. Pseudo Asian.
VEGAN.

I started thinking this morning about how much I have enjoyed 2012. As every year starts reaching its later months (really autumn) I am more and more inclined to look back and see where I’ve been. This year is no different. This is a time of renewal, rebirth and growth for me. What did I do right? What did I do wrong? What can I make better for next year? As we wind down into the last four months of this year I find myself looking back and being really proud of myself and the accomplishments I have achieved.

Incidentally, ranking very near, and possibly topping the list, is my decision to go vegan as of March 1st. It’s been a few months now and there have been a couple of hiccups, though probably more accurately described “learning curves”, along the way, but my day to day life now is free of animal products I used to rely so heavily on. I find myself stronger physically, mentally and emotionally. When I sit down for my meals I do not feel any sort of guilt or remorse. I have been able to share my experiences and research with a number of people in my life and though I am no extreme activist I am leaving my footprint on the hearts and minds of the people I care about most.

I have been able to take photos, create recipes and share them with a community of people that has been both welcoming and inspirational. I have made new friends, improved my photography and learned about new foods, cuisines and styles that I might never have started to incorporate. I have ramped up my blog, started to network more thoroughly, share, inspire and learn. It has been an experience that has filtered into every aspect of my world. The way I shop, cook, live, talk, etc. From start to finish this has made me feel like a better human being. I am more patient. I am geared toward growth in healthy, stable, mature ways. I’m not perfect and there will be room for improvement for the rest of my life, but I feel like I’m on the right path.

I was sitting down with my friend and coworker Laura for lunch on Wednesday and as I’ve mentioned before I have started cooking for her. I make lunches for us four days a week and on Fridays we go to vegan friendly restaurants. She is in the middle of a huge weight loss journey (that I understand all too well) and it makes me feel like I can contribute and support her when I do this. Anyway, while we were talking she paused, looked at me and said, “You know…because of you I am only eating meat for one meal a day.” Apparently, I had inspired her to eat vegetarian Morningstar breakfast biscuits instead of her normal Smart Ones Weight Watcher frozen meals for breakfasts and with me making her lunch it was clear to be vegan! I thought on that for a moment and let it go. But it stayed with me. If you look at the Meatless Monday movement or what groups like PETA say about the numbers one person can make a difference. My little personal difference has expanded now. She is even starting a new Zumba class! Someone who swore she would never exercise is up and active in ways she never thought possible? A by product of her diet- absolutely! And I got to be part of that with my simple, meat-free, not judgmental philosophies. This is an incredibley rewarding lifestyle.

I’ve posed questions to my friends as I began to start eating no meat, cheese, eggs, etc. We would be eating sandwiches from Subway and I would order mine all veggies, no cheese and vinegar/oil. I would get the inevitable, “Ugh, it is so awesome you can do that- I could never give up my cheese,” as I watched the employee slap on some plasticy “cheese” triangles. So we would sit down and I would ask as my friend chomped away, “Can you taste the cheese?” Quickly I would hear and indignant, “Yes!” but as I saw the gears start to churn the answer was clearly: No. It’s unnecessary. Especially the ways in which we indulge.

I have asked similar questions about my own cooking when I share it with others. For example, I make a super simple Indian curry that takes four ingredients and four spices. I have asked people that try it, “Do you honestly believe adding something like chicken would make this better? Enhance the flavor?” More often than not a resounding, and inspiring, “No,” is returned. It’s not that meat is necessary. Meats are a vessel to deliver good flavor. Texturally they can be reproduced or even replaced with better items.

Like I said, I am not picketing businesses or anything like that, but I am making my stand and helping others make it easier to contribute. I am happy to be a member of the vegan community and look forward to sharing my knowledge with the readers of this blog, my coworkers, friends, family and others who are interested.

2012 has been a great year, friends, and I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that the last quarter of it will rock and lead us into a great 2013.

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What I Ate Wednesday – A Week of Nomz via Instagram

    

    

    

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