Sunday, September 28, 2014

Breakfast of champions: Gluten-free on the go

Sugar-free skinny vanilla latte and a bagel with cream cheese. It's quick and delicious. Unfortunately, it's also expensive. And full of gluten, lactose, and sugar. And devoid of almost any nutritional value. So I guess I should be grateful that discovering my allergy forced me to overhaul my morning routine. 

When I first went gluten-free, I relied almost entirely on packaged breakfast bars with "gluten-free" on their labels. There are several decent brands, and I'd be happy to give some suggestions if anyone wants that, but eventually I grew tired of them, and I began to wonder if there was a more nutritional and cost-effective way to begin my morning. Since I also need to avoid dairy, and since I usually wake up around 5AM, I originally struggled to find something quick and easy to start my day. But I finally have a method that works for me and I wanted to share in case it helps anyone else. 

Every few weeks, I buy several of these foods, and prepare them on the weekend so they're ready to grab-and-go each morning. Truth be told, I usually start with one breakfast bag or almond milk container while driving to work and I finish off a second choice during a break around 9AM. I also usually stick with the same single item or combo for the whole week, but I included them all in the picture for easy reference. 

I usually drink almond milk, not soy, but I didn't want to go back to the store to exchange today's accidental purchase, so I'll be drinking soy this week. You can also find individual packages of almond milk and coconut milk in most grocery stores. When considering alternatives, it would also be easy to make this more environmentally friendly by using small Tupperware containers; I just don't have any in that size. But I do reuse some of the bags from time to time! 

Here's my preferred menu for your consideration. It's important to include a variety of proteins, fruits/veggies, and carbs, so look for the balance that's best for you! 
Snap peas
Raw almonds, or smoked almonds
Almonds with honey and sesame seeds
Honey roasted peanuts, or plain peanuts
Sunflower seeds
Cinnamon Chex cereal
Chex granola
Hard boiled eggs
Turkey bacon 
Soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk
And don't forget to start your day with water! 

If you have a quick trick for starting your day off right, I hope you'll share! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's a dance thing...You wouldn't understand ;)

Last spring, a fellow coach asked me to help her with a special goal. After several decades of seeing the growth and success of the Moses Lake Dance/Drill program, she wanted to hear it named to the WSDDCA hall of fame. I eagerly wrote the following letter, and last week, the announcement finally came! Now I can officially offer my congratulations and my gratitude to Molahiettes, coaches, and supporters from throughout the years!


     At the banquet following my first year on the Molahiettes, Coach Skinner applauded our captain’s dedication by saying, “Drill team is her life.” A nearby mom scoffed.  How could a person be so consumed by drill team that they allowed it to define them?  But after three years as a Moses Lake dancer, I learned that it’s not about being defined by drill or dance; it’s about being so passionate and dedicated that you exude the ideals of your team and you inspire others to do the same.  
     Long before the state and national trophies, back in the days of the sparkly competition leotards, the dancers and leaders from Moses Lake established a foundation of vision, dedication, and teamwork.  When I joined the Molahiettes at the end of my freshman year, I couldn’t even imagine the technique, skills, and confidence I would one day be able to demonstrate… but the leaders of our team envisioned those things in me, and in the dozens of dancers who would become my family over the next three years.  As a freshman with little dance experience, I learned to trust my team leaders and to study dance as a pursuit of details.  I learned that with enough focus, perseverance, and “Positive Mental Attitude,” individuals with wildly different skills and styles can come together to look—and feel—like a unified team. I realized that group visuals like the ripples, lifts, fans, rowboats, fallbacks, and kick lines set dance/drill apart from other forms of dance, and that those group visuals are the most exciting reward of a cohesive team like ours. By my senior year, the team was raising the bar in creativity of choreography and leading the state in competition scores.
       In recent years, the team has received national attention for their amazing performances, but I am grateful to know the history that has led to this recognition: They are achieving the legacy that past generations had envisioned, and that is due in part to years of dedicated dancers, parents, administrators, community supporters, and coaches like Theresa Skinner, Michele Kittrell, Lori Baker, Peggy Earl, and others along the way.  Moses Lake dancers don’t just work hard so they can win trophies; they win trophies because they work so hard, and that’s all because they love dancing and they love their team. 
      Because of the love I developed for dance in high school, I dedicated myself to studying dance in college, and as soon as a coaching position opened at the Spokane high school where I now teach, I signed on.  I quickly realized that I had experienced a rare kind of dedication in Moses Lake, and for the last ten years, I have worked to inspire my dancers with the same type of passion and commitment that I learned as a Molahiette.  Many MLHS alumni have also become dance teachers, choreographers, and performers, and our dance students are continuing the tradition of excellence that we are able to teach them because of our time on the Moses Lake team.
      Because our graduates still maintain their pride in teamwork and tradition, I have enjoyed the warm welcome that the recent dancers still give us as alumni, and I’ve been blessed with support from their current coaches and former teammates who want to help my Spokane team as well.  Seeing that we still support each other, even as competitors, all these years later has been a wonderful confirmation of the sportsmanship that I learned as a Moses Lake dancer. In the last few decades, hundreds of dancers have graduated from Moses Lake, still chanting our team song, “But we’re more than just a drill team, it gives us spirit too. We dance all day with PMA and that is what we do! M.O.L.A.H.I.E.T.T.E.S!”  
      In the last eighteen years, my life has become more enriched than I had ever imagined it could be. My dance skills, my confidence, my friends, my teaching and coaching ability, my passion for inspiring others. And it’s all because of those first three years when the Moses Lake Drill Team was my life. 

      I humbly and happily submit the Moses Lake Dance/Drill program for the WSDDCA Hall of Fame. 
 ~Miranda Leigh Hein (Dorris)