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Joshua Tree National Park

A giant Joshua tree with the moon overhead.
A giant Joshua tree with the moon overhead.

Here are a few more images for Joshua Tree National Park that I am just now uploading.

Here I am standing on boulders at Joshua Tree.
Here I am standing on boulders at Joshua Tree.

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Above is a short slideshow of the amazing boulder formation at Joshua Tree National Park.

Here I am taking photos at Joshua Tree National Park.
Here I am taking photos at Joshua Tree National Park.
The silhouette of a Joshua Tree near a boulder formation.
The silhouette of a Joshua Tree near a boulder formation.
A Joshua tree is directly behind me.
A Joshua tree is directly behind me.
In nature boulders are not always organized, which is the beauty of it all.
In nature boulders are not always organized, which is the beauty of it all.
This vertical image shows the magnitude of the boulders.
This vertical image shows the magnitude of the boulders.
Joshua trees and bushes in the foreground, with more Joshua trees in the distance.
Joshua trees and bushes in the foreground, with more Joshua trees in the distance.
Part of a Joshua tree next to a large boulder.
Part of a Joshua tree next to a large boulder.
The tip of a Joshua tree with a large boulder formation in the distance.
The tip of a Joshua tree with a large boulder formation in the distance.
The Joshua trees grow all around the boulder formations.
The Joshua trees grow all around the boulder formations.
The Joshua trees in this cluster almost look like a group of tourists taking pictures.
The Joshua trees in this cluster almost look like a group of tourists taking pictures.
Joshua trees go way up into the hills.
Joshua trees go way up into the hills.
Joshua trees near boulders.
Joshua trees near boulders.
Late afternoon sunlight on the Joshua tree.
Late afternoon sunlight on the Joshua tree.
Little bushes growing in between the cracks of a boulder.
Little bushes growing in between the cracks of a boulder.
Trees growing near the boulders.
Trees growing near the boulders.
A valley filled with Joshua trees.
A valley filled with Joshua trees.
The pointy leaves on a Joshua tree in foreground.
The pointy leaves on a Joshua tree in the foreground.
A baby Joshua tree in the foreground, with an elder Joshua tree just beyond.
A baby Joshua tree in the foreground, with an elder Joshua tree just beyond.
Joshua trees near the upright boulders.
Joshua trees near the upright boulders.
Here I am looking at an object to photograph.
Here I am looking at an object to photograph.
Posing for the camera with the Joshua trees in the background.
Posing for the camera with the Joshua trees in the background.
Various shapes of large boulders.
Various shapes of large boulders.
The place where two large boulders meet.
The place where two large boulders meet.
Jet stream in the sky above Joshua Tree National Park.
Jet stream in the sky above Joshua Tree National Park.
Various shades of colors on the boulders.
Various shades of colors on the boulders.
The boulders all all stacked up.
The boulders all stacked up.
Looking through the Joshua trees.
Looking through the Joshua trees.
Erect rocks and Joshua trees.
Erect rocks and Joshua trees.
In the afternoon at Joshua Tree.
In the afternoon at Joshua Tree.
Joshua trees and vertical boulders.
Joshua trees and vertical boulders.
Two rocks in between boulders look like two little eggs.
Two rocks in between boulders look like two little eggs.
A Joshua tree silhouetted against the boulder formation.
A Joshua tree silhouetted against the boulder formation.

Strawberry Banana Orange Smoothie With Blueberries On Top

Today I made a strawberry banana smoothie with blueberries on top. I pureed several bananas with strawberries and some small Mandarin oranges. Almond coconut milk was used to help blend the fruit, which makes this smoothie vegan.

The strawberry banana orange smoothie was pureed with a bit of almond coconut milk. Frozen blueberries were added to the top for aesthetics and flavor.
The strawberry banana orange smoothie was pureed with a bit of almond coconut milk. Frozen blueberries were added to the top for aesthetics and flavor.

Riding My New Purple Huffy Beach Cruiser

View of orange trees riding my new purple beach cruiser on the biking trail.
View of orange trees riding my new purple beach cruiser on the biking trail.
The purple beach cruiser comes with a fun beverage holder.
The purple beach cruiser comes with a fun beverage holder.
The late afternoon sunlight on the bike trail.
The late afternoon sunlight on the bike trail.
I like this white fence on the biking trail. It reminds me or a rural setting within the city.
I like this white fence on the biking trail. It reminds me or a rural setting within the city.
The front wheel of the bike.
The front wheel of the bike.

The video above shows a few snippets from my two mile ride on the biking trail.

The Orange Clementine Smoothie And The A To Z Reflection

The orange clementine smoothie was created by pureeing together several pieces of fruit by this name, a couple of bananas, and a few strawberries with almond milk.
The orange clementine smoothie was created by pureeing together several pieces of fruit by this name, a couple of bananas, and a few strawberries with almond milk.

Designing the orange color for this clementine smoothie, I simply used a higher ratio of this fruit to the bananas and strawberries. As I drank my smoothie, I was thinking about what I gained from the A to Z Challenge. This blog is mostly about my photography, which documents the world according to my eyes. Also, my photograph serves as inspiration for my art projects, so taking pictures is something I really care about.

I always meet some fascinating people during the years I participate in the A to Z Challenge, and it is enjoyable having new people visit your blog. This year my theme was vegan food and Southern California photography because those are two things that define who I am. One thing I enjoy conveying in my blog is how easy it truly is to be a vegan, and share the health benefits and mental clarity I have gained from this lifestyle. I highly recommend the vegan way for those who are mildly curious and suggest checking out Dr. Barnard’s  and Dr. Greger’s Facebook pages if you want to know more about nutrition and meal ideas. I do not claim to be a health guru, I just know veganism appeals to me.

Also, I enjoy sharing photography from my nature walks and daily bike rides because I believe being physically active is possible without having to purchase an expensive gym membership. Even if you really are not able to exercise outdoors, there are other things you can do, such as cleaning your house. That might not sound strenuous, but have you ever took the time to really just the top of your fridge and cabinets? Being active and eating real food has really helped to improve my physical well-being, and it is something I highly recommend. In my late twenties and early thirties I started eating more pizza and drinking soda, and even though I still ate fruit and veggies, at this age I put on weight I just could not lose.

I wanted to get down to a healthy weight range, but I did not want to go on a diet. In 2009, I upped my physical activity and started walking many miles per week, but I just could never drop down to a weight that was healthy. I always cringe when people shame people for being overweight, and I remember when I was in my early thirties it hurt my feelings when a man posted on my Hubpages profile that fat is not pretty. I had always been athletic, and I did not enjoy being overweight. On the same token, I did not fit in with the crowd who post pictures of themselves in bikinis, but I knew something had to change. In my presence other women have praised each other for how small they looked in a certain outfit, and back when I was larger I took this as a dig. I realized over time what people say is more about them than anyone else, and there is nothing wrong if someone wants to talk about how they feel good looking a certain way. What is more important is you feel good and healthy yourself.

In 2014, I started eating a whole foods vegan lifestyle, and I have not looked back. Along the way, I learned that I could eat carbs like potatoes and rice, and still lose weight. For me, it was taking the chicken, dairy, soda, and copious amounts of bread out of my diet that made the difference. Vegan food is amazing because it fills you up, but it is not calorically dense. So you can eat a large salad with hummus or beans and feel full. It always looked so grueling when I heard diet recommendations about just consuming only an egg and two pieces of bacon for breakfast, and I so prefer a smoothie and something plant based.

So I am not always a perfect vegan eating bean salads and smoothies all the time. Sometimes I do have cliff bars and fries, but even with these indulgences, I have lost and maintained a healthy weight for over two years now.  I never could do this back in my twenties when I cut my calories and was running many miles. Now that I am older the fact that a whole foods plant diet is doing this for me in conjunction with exercise is quite encouraging. I also am so pro-vegan these days because I do not like animals to feel pain and suffering, and I know it is possible to get all the protein I need from plant based sources. Why am I am able to push heavy carts and ride miles if vegans are “so weak”? So ignore the naysayers who say being vegan is not good for you, and follow doctors like Dr. Barnard and Dr. Greger who illustrate how it is a very viable and healthful lifestyle.

As a disclaimer, I grew up vegetarian and became semi-vegetarian in school due to social pressure to eat meat. I really only ate chicken a few times a month, so I was always very veggie-centric. I dealt with my share of opinionated people who felt it was their place to tell me I was lacking protein, or how they enjoyed their meat. People complain vegans are opinionated, but the truth is everyone is, and I had a lot of first-hand experience with this growing up, and even as an adult.

It is refreshing because for all the criticism of the millennials, one thing I will say is they get certain things, and are more open-minded and tolerant about letting people just be who they are. They do not care if someone is vegan, and many of them are even realizing how wonderful this lifestyle is. So I am a little older than the millennial generation myself, but I will say personally I do not care if someone is vegan or not, I am quite libertarian in my stance on this. All I want to say is if a plant-based diet appeals to you, do not like the detractors derail you from exploring this.

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Smoothies in action are enjoyable, so watch the video, if this is your thing.

 

 

The Strawberry Banana Date Clementine Smoothie

The strawberry banana date clementine smoothies with a picture of Waikiki Beach in the background.
The strawberry banana date clementine smoothies with a picture of Waikiki Beach in the background.

To make this smoothie I first put bananas, dates, and strawberries in the blender. I added put of almond milk to help purée the smoothie.

Strawberries, bananas, dates are in the blender with almond milk.
Strawberries, bananas, dates are in the blender with almond milk.

After I pureed the fruits in the blender I added the clementines, and then I pureed it some more.

 

 

Z Is For Zemene

I had no clue what to write about for the letter Z, so today I decided to write about a zemene smoothie. The word for strawberry in Latvian is zemene, so this is the topic of my last post for the A to Z Challenge. Yes, I blog about strawberries frequently, but these are in season at the moment, so why not share this delicious fruit that I enjoy putting in my smoothies.

Zemene is the Latvian word for strawberry, which is fruit in this smoothie.
Zemene is the Latvian word for strawberry, which is fruit in this smoothie.
I added the clementines and bananas to the strawberries and almond milk, which had already been pureed.
I added the clementines and bananas to the strawberries and almond milk, which had already been pursed.

The video illustrates how I made the strawberry, banana, orange smoothie from start to finish.

 

 

Y Is For The Yellow Banana Orange Smoothie

The yellow banana was sweet and delicious.
The yellow banana was sweet and delicious.

Today the letter Y is for the yellow banana orange smoothie. To create this smoothie, I added four bananas and one orange along with some almond milk. This helped to ensure the smoothie was yellow so I would have something to write about for the letter Y.

 

What I have discovered over the last two years is that satisfying my sweet tooth with fresh fruit works best for me. In the mornings, I make delicious smoothies, but once or maybe two times a month I like to bake a desert sweetened with fruit. In the past I always used sugar, but recently I decided to try using fruit in a cake only, and it definitely works. The plus is you do not have that ugh feeling after eating a piece of cake sweetened with fruit, which is something I usually get with processed sugar deserts.

Yesterday I used pureed raisins and a banana along with carob to make a sweet yet not overly saccharine cake. I find bananas are one of my favorite fruits these days, and having these on hand is a much more nutritious way to deal with my sweet cravings.

Tonight I made #vegan #banana #raisin #carob #cake, which has no refined #sugar. The raisins and banana sweeten it.

A photo posted by Julia Hanna (@sweetbearies) on