Help Me Win A Once-in-a-Lifetime International Ambassadorship

Back in 2011, I traveled to Germany for the first time on my "Round The World Trip".

I was lucky enough to get the chance to explore the beautiful city of Berlin. It was such an amazing adventure to be on!

Taking in a different culture and seeing another part of the world filled with so much beauty and eye opening experiences was unforgettable.

I would LOVE to go back to Germany but this time as a social media ambassador for the German National Tourism Office.

And YOU can make it happen!!

Now until August 22nd, you can vote for me DAILY in the #ComeToGermany Social Media Ambassador program! Not only would partnering up with such a big tourism agency benefit me professionally but it would also be a dream come true to explore more of Germany! 

VOTE HERE!

WHAT WILL I DO AS AN AMBASSADOR?

I’d work for the German National Tourist Office, traveling throughout Germany for one week, blogging, Instagramming, Tweeting, and Snapchatting about the country. The top two bloggers with the most votes will win an all-expense paid trip to Germany. And of course I'd LOVE to be one of them.

My blogger bestie Annie, from Annie A to Z, is currently in second place. We would both love to go and share this one in a lifetime experience together! You can vote for her here.

HOW OFTEN CAN YOU VOTE?

You can vote for us on Facebook or Twitter — or both!

To vote on Facebook: click here, and then click “Vote” on my picture and Annie's.
You can vote once a day, every day until August 22nd, on Facebook.

To Vote on Twitter: Compose a tweet that includes my name (@MetanoiaLiving) and the program’s hashtag, #Come2Germany. Your post has to be public in order to count.
You can vote once a day, every day until August 22nd, on Twitter, even if you’ve already voted on Facebook!

Click the link below to automatically post your vote on Twitter.

@@I vote for @MetanoiaLiving in the #Come2Germany ambassador contest!@@

Thank you so much for taking the time to vote!! I greatly appreciate your support in making this dream become a reality!

Can't wait to hopefully share all the amazing pictures from the trip!!

Posted on July 26, 2015 .

Chipotle: Eat (Red). Save Lives Avocado Hummus

It's no surprise I am a huge Chipotle fan!

Their fresh ingredients, flavor and involvement with their community, doesn't come close to rivaling any other food chain out there.

Earlier this month, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced a new partnership with (RED) to support the fight against AIDS. This partnership includes teaming up with 11 celebrity chefs and television personalities to create special recipes to support the EAT (RED) DRINK (RED) SAVES LIVES campaign.

The list of participating chefs includes:

  • Chipotle culinary manager Nate Appleman ("Next Iron Chef")
  • Richard Blais ("Top Chef")
  • Rocco DiSpirito (chef and author, Cook Your Butt Off)
  • Graham Elliot (chef, Graham Elliot Bistro, "Masterchef")
  • Jennifer McGrother (author, The Nourished Kitchen)
  • Andrew Zimmern ("Bizzare Foods with Andrew Zimmern")
  • The hosts of "The Chew," Mario Batali, Carla Hall, Daphne Oz, Michael Symon and Clinton Kelly.

Each unique recipe has been inspired by Chipotle's ingredients.

I'm most excited to try Chef Elliot's Avocado Hummus recipe!

I normally purchase my hummus premade, but last week I had the opportunity of making it from scratch at a local restaurant. With a pilón and everything! I was surprised on how easy it was to make and wow, the flavor! You can't beat that fresh taste!

Now add avocado to it and I think we have ourselves a winner!

INGREDIENTS (Makes about 4 cups)

  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and drained 
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling   
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 3 medium ripe avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp allepo (Optional. See note.)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes  
  • Shaved radish, for garnish
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish
  • 3 to 4 pita bread wedges 

STEPS:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the chickpeas, garlic, jalapeño, olive oil and tahini until nearly smooth.
  2. Add the avocado, lime juice, sumac, allepo (if using), and cumin and process until the hummus is smooth.
  3. Scrape the hummus into a bowl and season to taste with salt. Fold in the chopped cilantro, parsley and red pepper flakes. 
  4. Serve garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and shaved radish, cilantro, and sesame seeds. Serve the pita wedges on the side.

"We are so thrilled to have Chipotle coming to the table for EAT (RED) DRINK (RED) SAVE LIVES in 2015. Not only is the brand loved and enjoyed by young people around the world, it's fantastic to see Chipotle rallying its customers to join the AID fight as part of this campaign," said Deborah Dugan, CEO at (RED). "The impact is huge - Chipotle's contribution alone can provide more than a quarter million days of life-saving HIV/AIDS medication for those who need it most in sub-Saharan Africa."


ABOUT (RED) ®

(RED) was founded in 2006 by Bono and Bobby Shriver to engage businesses and people in the fight against AIDS. (RED) partners with the world's most iconic brands that contribute up to 50% of profits from (RED)-branded goods and services to the Global Fund. (RED) Proud Partners include: Apple, Starbucks, The Coca-Cola Company, Bank of America, Beats by Dr. Dre, Belvedere, Claro, SAP, Telcel and Live Nation Entertainment.


Posted on June 26, 2015 and filed under Food & Entertaining, Charities.

Freeing Voices, Changing Lives - AIS Gala 2015: Honoring Ed Sheeran

This year I had the honor of attending the American Institute for Stuttering's Freeing Voices, Changing Lives 9th Annual Benefit Gala.

As most of you may know, I attended their intensive 3-week program last August in New York. I didn't realize it at the time, but going through this program completely changed my  outlook on stuttering and acceptance. Thanks to them, I no longer feel prisoned in my own wall of shame.

In fact, I'm more open than ever about my disfluency. My mission is to hopefully educate others on what stuttering really is and how it affects millions around the world.

For that same reason, I applaud when celebrities use their influence to bring awareness for charity events such as this one.

This year, world-renowned singer/songwriter, Ed Sheeran was honored with the Annual Leadership Award, in recognition for his achievements and inspiration to those who stutter.

Actress Emily Blunt served as the mistress of ceremonies, a role she gladly takes on every year for AIS.

Many may be surprised to learn both Ed Sheeran and Emily Blunt struggled with stuttering early in their childhood. Even I wasn't aware until a few months ago. This just goes to show that no matter what difficulty or setback one may face, we have the power to rise above it and not let it dictate our future.

This message was reinforced by everyone who graced the stage during the ceremony.

Gala co-chair Arthur Blank (founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons) talked about the positive impact AIS has for people, like himself, who stutter.

A video message from Vice President Joe Biden was played for the audience. Mr. Biden expressed his support for AIS and shared about his struggles with stuttering growing up, which resulted in him becoming a more compassionate person and gave him that determination to succeed in life.

"Our stutter doesn't define us, we define ourselves." - Joe Biden.

Past AIS clients, Jack age 11, Molly, age 10 and Rahima Dosani, took the stage to share about their experiences and the help received in their intensive programs. AIS Director, Heather Grossman, introduced these speakers and shared how inspiring it was to see people who stutter turn “I can’t” into “I can” and “I will.”

The most touching part of the night, besides Rahima's incredible speech, were the three words she said to me before going on stage.

You see, when I found out she was going to be the next speaker, I turned to her and said, "Wow, I'm so proud of you! I don't think I could ever get up there in front of all these important people and give a speech!"

She looked straight into my eyes, smiled and simply said, "Yes, you can!"

And you know what? She's absolutely right!

“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” - Christian D. Larson

The man of the hour, Ed Sheeran, gave an inspirational acceptance speech for his Leadership Award. He actually didn't  know he was receiving the award up until that evening. He thought he was just there to support the cause.

His humble down to earth personality mixed with his courageous words, made me an even bigger fan of his.

"I wanted to not necessarily shed light on stuttering or make it a thing, but stress to kids in general to just be yourself, even if you have quirks and weirdness, embrace them because there's no one in the world that can be a better you than you."

"And from a stuttering point of view, don’t treat it as an issue—work through it and get the treatment that you want to get, but don’t ever treat it as an issue, don’t see it as a plight on your life, and carry on pushing forward."

During the auction portion of the evening, a surprise item was offered: a C. F. Martin & Co. Ed Sheeran X Signature Edition guitar, signed by Ed Sheeran.

The money raised during the auction, goes directly to fund the scholarships for the AIS intensive programs.  If you would like to make a donation to the American Institute for Stuttering, please click here.

The gala concluded with AIS Chairman, Nolan Russo giving thanks to everyone who helped make that night come into fruition.

Ed Sheeran then showcased why he's one of the biggest artist in the world.

Ed played his hit songs, “Thinking Out Loud", a mash up of  “Don't/No Diggity” and a traditional Irish pub song, “The Parting Glass."

To listen to more of Ed Sheeran's songs, click here.

The evening was filled with so many special and unforgettable moments. I left feeling inspired and motivated to continue on my journey of acceptance.

The AIS past client speakers, Board of Directors, Ed Sheeran, Emily Blunt, the sponsors, and everyone involved in making this gala a success, earned my respect and admiration that night.

This event helps bring hope and resources to those who live in fear or embarrassment of the way they speak and for people as myself, that have attended the intensive program, a sense of reassurance in the belief that we are capable and deserving of greatness.

A special thank you to my AIS family for believing in me every step of the way. Even living hundreds miles away, I still continue to feel their love and support. Without their guidance, I wouldn't be the person I am today.

Photo Credits: AIS


Posted on June 26, 2015 and filed under Charities.

Lunch with Chipotle at Lake Meadows Naturals Farm

A few days ago, Annie and I were invited by Chipotle to have lunch with their team at Lake Meadows Naturals Farm located in Ocoee, Florida.

Even though I live only 20 minutes away from the farm, I didn't know of its existence. Thankfully, after having the opportunity of touring their facility, I'll definitely be paying them a visit from now on.

Lake Meadows Naturals is a local farm that sells cage free chicken and duck eggs, grass fed beef and goat, Berkshire pork, honey, and fresh herbs. Everything is clean and organic, which is the main reason Chipotle gets most of their fresh ingredients for their Florida locations from there.

Lake Meadows Natural's mission is to supply the area with great tasting and high quality food, while at the same time educating their customers along the way.

Their mission is perfectly aligned with Chipotle's "Food with Integrity" motto.

Did you know that Chipotle is the first and only fast food chain to ban GMOs from their menu?

"This is another step toward the visions we have of changing the way people think about and eat fast food,” Steve Ells, founder and co-chief executive of Chipotle, told the New York Times. “Just because food is served fast doesn’t mean it has to be made with cheap raw ingredients, highly processed with preservatives and fillers and stabilizers and artificial colors and flavors.”

It's always nice to discover new places, especially a great find like Lake Meadow Naturals, that supports Chipotle's movement.

The owner of the farm, Dale, gave us a private tour around his property and explained to us in great detail everything that goes on in the farm.

We started off the tour by getting up close and personal with these little guys.

How cute is that face??

After falling in love with the baby chicks, we went inside the incubator room to see the baby turkeys.

A little baby turkey hatched while we were there!

After they're born, Farmer Dale puts them in the incubator to keep them warm.

We later entered the quality control/packaging room.

The eggs are placed on a conveyer belt that is lit up in order to see if the eggs have any imperfections. If they pass the test, they are washed and ready to be packaged. You can purchase these eggs in their farm market store.

Now came the fun part.

Picking our own eggs!

What a multitasker. Picking her eggs while vlogging!

Mission accomplished!

It was harder than it looked but I successfully picked my dozen eggs.

If you're up for the challenge, you can pick your own every Saturday.

Before leaving the coop, we had to take a picture with our new friends.

And a selfie!

Now onto the rest of the tour.

First time trying a mulberry.

Look at that smile!

Farmer Dale offered us fresh green beans straight from his garden.

How gorgeous is his house!!

Gorgeous views of his land from every angle.

Farmer Dale was nice enough to have us in his home for our delicious lunch sponsored by Chipotle.

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Chef Tonda Corrente from La Femme Du Fromage prepared our meal.

The peach cobbler was pure perfection!

A perfect ending to the day.

Make sure when you visit Lake Meadows Naturals, you stop by their farm market store. It's filled with fresh produce, assortment of cheeses and plenty more!

After attending two events sponsored by Chipotle, I think it's safe to say Annie and I are practically BFF's with them.

Ok, maybe not, but at least we made it into the team's group picture.

Huge thank you to Chipotle for including us in this inspiring lunch event and a special thank you to Farmer Dale for his generous hospitality.

Can't wait to whip up something delicious with the eggs I picked out!


Posted on May 15, 2015 and filed under Mind & Body, Food & Entertaining.

Reggae On The Block Party!

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If you're a reggae fan, or just a music lover like me, and didn't attend the Reggae On the Block Party, you definitely missed out on a great show!

The Reggae On The Block party is an annual block party, located in the center of downtown Orlando at the corner of Washington St. and Orange Ave, that features some of the best reggae artists playing from early afternoon until the late hours of the evening.

This all-day event is filled with good music, food, and positive vibes.

My blogger bestie, Annie, asked me to join her for this awesome event sponsored by Chipotle.

Obviously, there was nothing to think about. Anything having to do with Chipotle, I'm there! 

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For someone trying to become healthier and more conscious of what they eat, I appreciate Chipotle's "Food with Integrity" mission, which they pride themselves in providing to their customers. All their food is organic, responsibly raised, and free from artificial flavors or fillers.

Just last month, Chipotle became the first fast-food chain to ban genetically modified foods, known as GMOs, in all foods served in its restaurants.

Incredible!

Just when I thought I couldn't love them any more, our friends at Chipotle went ahead and hooked us up with VIP/Media passes! 

                                                                                                      Annie rocking her VIP badge!

                                                                                                      Annie rocking her VIP badge!

The VIP tickets included access to two air conditioned patio areas next to the stage, drink tickets, goody bags, and catered food provided by Chipotle throughout the day!

We devoured our Sofritas Tacos!

Sofritas is organic shredded tofu braised with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos, and a blend of aromatic spices. 

One word: Delicious!!

Even if you're not vegan or vegetarian, you'll still enjoy this mouthwatering meal. I didn't even know I was eating tofu until I finished my last bite. It honestly tasted just like chicken!

There was such a chill energy throughout the whole event. Everybody was having a fun time and enjoying all the vendors and watching the artists perform .

There was a total of twelve bands that played throughout the event. The band I was looking forward to seeing the most and one of the two headliners, was Iration.

I was first introduced to their music four years ago. After one song, I was a fan! I completely fell in love with their feel good sound.

Every time I listen to them, I envision myself in a nice tropical island with a big Piña Colada in hand.

This time I wasn't transported to that beautiful tropical island. Instead, I was sitting front row, just a couple of feet away from the stage and band!  

I mean, the island is nice and all, but our VIP/Media tickets trumped my paradise dream.

Iration even posted a picture of us sitting in our cozy seats on their Instagram!!

How cool is that??

A photo posted by Iration (@iration) on

Our media passes enabled us to get these close up shots!

Even the security guard was jamming out with all of us!

                                                        Ariel Photo Credit: Anthony Lombardi

                                                        Ariel Photo Credit: Anthony Lombardi

After Iration performed, (which by the way, they killed it!) we were able to meet and take a couple of pictures with them.

The highlight of our night!

After the event, Annie and I left with huge smiles on our faces. So happy we were able to experience our first Reggae on The Block!

Thank you Orlando for giving us perfect weather and venue and Chipotle for being so good to us!

Can't wait for next year!


Posted on May 14, 2015 and filed under Playlist.