Author Archives: Melissa @ Nourished & Vibrant

About Melissa @ Nourished & Vibrant

Creative | Multipotentialite | Writer | Running, Fitness & Gluten-Free Food | Eat Well, Travel Often, Sweat Daily | Bay Area Living

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

slow cooker kalua pork

Today’s message is: “fake it ’til you make it.”

I’ve never been to a Hawaiian luau, and I’ve never seen nor enjoyed any bit of a whole pig smoked in a sand pit, but I made this kalua pork in my slow cooker yesterday and shamelessly admit to having firsts, seconds, and an extra bite or two as I wrapped up leftovers. Is this recipe authentic? No. Is it tasty. YES.

slow cooker kalua pork

Kalua pork is traditionally smoked in a sand pit with sea salt, banana leaves, and koa wood. When you don’t have the luxury of a sand pit, a slow cooker and a little natural liquid smoke can be a girl’s best friend. Simply toss three ingredients in a slow cooker before work (pork roast, Hawaiian sea salt, and liquid smoke), and by evening you’ll be saying mahalo to yourself for making such a smart, delicious decision.

slow cooker kalua pork

I was way lazy with this dinner, so I just paired the pork with sautéed bell peppers, a little quinoa, and some gluten-free soy sauce, which was perfect. Next time I make it (which will probably be sooner than I’d like to admit) I’d like to be more ambitious and try my hand at a pineapple quinoa “fried rice” to go along with it.

You can always slow cook the pork overnight too. In fact, the longer you cook it, the juicier and better it’ll taste. I’m going to use my leftovers by scrambling the shredded meat with eggs and veggies for weekend brunch.

Now go make this!


  • 2-3 lb pork shoulder or butt roast, fat removed
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke, hickory flavored
  • 2 tsp Hawaiian Sea salt


FYI, I just kinda eyeballed it with measurements. Wash and pat dry the pork, and place it in the slow cooker. Pierce the pork with a fork (that’s a funny thing to say), sprinkle with salt, and pour the liquid smoke evenly over the roast.

Close your slow cooker, and set the time for anywhere from 8-12 hours on low. When done cooking, shred with a fork and ENJOY!

Falling for Fall

autumn quote

Every year, from May through August, I say, with conviction, that I am a “summer girl” who thrives on sunshine and never wants to give up afternoons spent lying barefoot in the grass, sipping on ice cold cider in a summer dress.

Then, fall comes, and I excitedly swap out my sandals for riding boots, become BFFs with my slow cooker once more, and find nothing more enjoyable than curling up with my cat on the sofa while the pitter patter of rain makes music with apartment’s window sills. Like that, I realize how much I love navy blue sweaters and infinity scarves, and how amazing it feels to come home and crawl into sweat pants. I drop my love of summer like a graduating high school senior leaving his junior girlfriend at home and quickly embracing Thursday night fraternity parties and co-ed dorms.

running shoes in the fall leaves

It really is beautiful though.

be present

28th Birthday Core Desired Feelings & Goals

birthday cupcake

In all its chocolate and peanut butter glory

So, I’ve been 28 years old for a full two days now. Does that make me “late twenties official?” Or was I already there?

When celebrating birthdays in my early twenties, the morning after was often spent sleeping in after a lateeee night out and enjoying leftover chocolate birthday cake for breakfast (don’t judge). This year, I woke up super early on the my morning of my birthday (and the day after) to go to bootcamp at the gym. *Wah wah*

And, no, there was no massive cake to enjoy for breakfast throughout the rest of the week. I had a green smoothie in the morning to balance out my birthday treat: one chocolate and peanut butter gluten-free cupcake that I happily devoured in record time. Any more dessert and my late-twenties metabolism probably would have kicked it.

Despite these differences, there’s at least one thing that always remains the same. Every year around my birthday I focus on what I’ve learned throughout the past year and what I want to embrace in the coming 12 months. It’s like giving myself a head start on new year’s resolutions.

This year, instead of starting with a list of concrete goals, I took some advice from Danielle LaPorte and decided upon the five feelings that I want abundant in my life as a 28-year-old woman aka “Core Desired Feelings.” For me, these are: healthy, connected, confident, creative, and honest. Check out her thoughts on and list of Core Desired Feelings. They’re pretty awesome.

From there, I thought about what I can do to feel those emotions. What can I do this year to feel healthy? What can I do to feel creative? What can I do to be more honest with myself and others? You get the idea.

So, here’s my list of things I want from this year that will help me feel healthy, connected, confident, creative, and honest (in no particular order). Some are specific, some are unquantifiable, and I like it that way.

P.S. Sharing this list totally makes me feel honest. Whoop.

  • Get AFAA certified
  • Run a sub 1:50 half marathon
  • Run 3 total half marathons (including at least one destination race)
  • Get published
  • Become a morning workout person (again)
  • Draw/doodle/photograph daily
  • Podcast with Michel
  • Practice yoga regularly
  • Meditate regularly
  • Connect with more creative people in Oakland
  • Let myself be more vulnerable
  • Join (for realsies) a running club
  • Connect with more fitness professionals
  • Practice hand lettering/calligraphy
  • Make/give more gifts to people
  • Stop the “deer in the headlights” attitude
  • Take 1 new, fun class/month
  • Read 1 non-fiction & 1 fiction book per month
  • Practice living with more intention
  • Think less, act more
  • Be mindful
  • Focus on quality over quantity
  • All the trips and adventures
  • Banish “I don’t think so”
  • Talk about my passions more
  • Enjoy more vegetarian/vegan dishes and sustainably raised meat
  • Don’t flake on people
  • Be more generous
  • Get some stinkin’ abs
  • Introduce and accept more creativity in my everyday life
  • Don’t sweat the little things
  • Sweat everyday
  • Be flexible with my schedule

Do you make lists like this for yourself? Shout out if any of these resonate with you; we can cheer each other on!



Bye, Halloween & Hello, November!

thanksgiving dinner invitation design

I have a feeling I’m going to crush hard on the fall season this year. I excitedly mocked up Thanksgiving invites this morning without being totally sure that I’ll be the one hosting dinner this year, and I’m dying to make this leaf garland from Love Paper Paint.

Oh, and I’m still obsessing over Halloween weekend and how much I loved following Studio DIY’s Pizza Slice + Delivery Boy Couples Costume tutorial. (My version is gluten-free, of course.)

pizza costume from studio diy

This week, I’d like to test a couple gluten-free, naturally-sweetened fall treat recipes to be used as gifts and/or party desserts. Let me know if you have any favorites!

Workstation Popcorn

Laptop in Coffeeshop

Where’d all the coffee go?!

Workstation Popcorn: It’s a real thing invented to keep coffee lovers supremely caffeinated throughout the day as they jump from cafe to cafe/workstation/pub, working on specific, premeditated tasks at each stopping point.

I recently read about this technique from Entrepreneur and decided to test it out today.

Essentially, you start your day with a clear to-do list and break it down into “task chunks”. You allot a few to-dos to be completed in different environments, moving from point A to point B only once A’s allotted tasks have been finished. For example, I gave myself the tasks of sending my new business cards to print, updating my website homepage and researching for a few upcoming blog posts at coffee shop A. Then I moved onto stop B to cross three more tasks off of my list.

I’m currently at coffee shop C (my final stop for the day), and I found the exercise to be refreshing. It gave me the opportunity to stand up, stretch and walk around in between the day, and, most importantly, the chance to talk to and observe different people in several environments instead of staying “stuck” inside of my own world, aka my laptop.

Plus, I found myself totally focused on goals, rather than just looking at the clock to see how much time I had left in my workday.

This weekend I plan on trying it even around my own apartment and, weather permitting, outdoors (which always gets my creative juices flowing).

Is “Coffee Shop Popcorn” a tactic that anyone else practices to get more done?

Blue Skies are Coming


Arizona landscape

New Mexico Landscape

New Mexico Landscape

Abandoned Arizona Trading Post

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. - Rumi

The only time I ever consider not living in a big city is while I’m in New Mexico. Little rivals the beauty of a Santa Fe sunset, and there is nothing like standing below massive blue skies in the middle of nowhere.

Unfortunate circumstances brought me back home to this beautiful place this past weekend, but I’m thankful to have returned feeling cleansed, rejuvenated and thankful.

This Rumi quote has been stuck in my mind lately, and with so many new beginnings in my world right now, it felt to play around with watercolor effects in Adobe Illustrator and create something inspirational to hang in my home office.

On Drawing

melissa and the purple crayon

I grew up with a purple crayon in my hand. Literally.  Just ask my mom about the time I scribbled added my artistic point of view all over our brand new washing machine…and sofa set…and anything else I could get my hands on.

I was that kid in school who, whenever we had the opportunity to do non-conventional book reports, came into class with a massive graphic poster I had slaved over for weeks, magic marker stains still fresh on my fingertips.

I had my own comic strip series by age 7, was the appointed class caricature artist throughout all of elementary school and nearly cut my finger off with an X-ACTO knife while mounting my final graphic design project during my junior year of college.

Sadly, over the last few years adulthood has set in (*womp womp*) and I’ve spent an increasing amount of time analyzing email campaign open rates and less time drawing – and I’m worried my creativity and idealism has suffered because of it. So, I’m trying to change that by doodling for at least a few minutes each day and sharing more of my artwork with the world. Expect more doodles, probably with a focus on the things I love (food, the outdoors, exercise, furry friends and food), but who knows where this may take me. All I can say is, I’m excited to have picked up my purple crayon again.

Cute & Geeky Workout Shirts

I’m so happy that I’m living in an age where wearing a shirt with a massive cat on it is totally socially embraced.

While my weekend wardrobe has its fair share of tanks and tees featuring some of my fave animals (foxes, dogs, kittens and the like), my workout wardrobe is seriously lacking in cuteness.

As I begin training for my second half-marathon, I thought it’d be appropriate to expand upon my boring repertoire of boring tech shirts with some fun and inspirational shirts that I’ll get excited to sport on my daily runs.

Check out some of my favorites below, and let me know if there are any other sweet shirts that I MUST buy.

i only date beasts tank shirt

“I Only Date Beasts” Tank from Human

"Such Workout, Much Burn" Doge Tank from noteesshop on Etsy

“Such Workout, Much Burn” Doge Tank from noteesshop on Etsy

beast mode workout tank

“Beast Mode” Tank from Activate Apparel

check meowt tank

“Check Meowt” Tank from NobullWomanApparel on Etsy

"I'm Not Working Out, I'm Leveling Up" Tank from Human

“I’m Not Working Out, I’m Leveling Up” Tank from Human

"Workin Off My Lumps" Tank from Human

“Workin Off My Lumps” Tank from Human

Top 5 Fit Disney Characters (and How They Got Their Rockin’ Bods)

Every girl has crushed over her favorite Disney prince and has an opinion on the most beautiful princess, but I’ve never heard anyone discuss who would place first in a triathlon or outlift Beast. Pretty faces aside, here is my list of the top five most fit Disney characters and musings on how they achieve their inspiring physiques.

Gaston – Crossfit

Sure, Gaston knows how to handle his blunderbuss, but no man gets that ripped just by holding a gun. That physique has to be the result of a diehard crossfit regimen. Gaston must spend hours in his local box, killing his burpees and perfecting his clean and jerk. (You saw him effortlessly pick up that bench with three bimbettes sitting on it, right?) Plus, the man eats five dozen eggs each day, exemplifying his dedication to the paleo diet.

Esmerelda - Zumba

Original Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Esmeralda – Zumba

With hips that don’t lie and the shimmy to drive any man out of his belltower, Esmeralda was born to dance. Fusing salsa, hip-hop and more, Zumba is likely her go-to workout that allows her to unleash her free-spirited and sultry self while getting a great cardio sesh in.

Aladdin – Parkour

Jumping from building to building while defying all the rules, this agile street rat knows just how to run, climb, swing and jump from place to place in order to escape danger or punishment. A true parkour athlete (with the abs to prove it), Aladdin understands that there’s a whole new (exciting and obstacle-filled) world out there if you think beyond the treadmill.

Image by Rooster82 via DeviantArt

Image by Rooster82 via DeviantArt

Pocahontas – Barefoot Running

Yeah, she knows how to paint with all the colors of the wind, but this fit beauty is so much more than an artist. The girl can move. She runs the land gracefully and effortlessly, as swift as a gazelle, without the need for footwear.

Shang Martial Arts

Original Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Captain Li Shang – Martial Arts

Captain for the Chinese Army in Mulan, this “pretty boy” is a martial arts maven, whipping a crew of wannabe fighters into serious shape as he teaches them combat techniques that require punching, kicking, stick fighting, archery and more. Boasting physical strength, agility and discipline, he has the abilities and physique of a true warrior.

Inspired to hit the gym yet? (Or hit the DVD collection and re-watch Aladdin?)

Who makes your list of most fit Disney characters?

Why I Love Running

Running Race Bibs

Fact: I get really emotional at the start line of a race.

Looking around at people of all ages, sizes and backgrounds, coming together to run one unified course and do so to (usually) support a good cause is a mesmerizing display. In my opinion, it’s the utmost proactive statement of community and dedication to well-being.

For whatever reason you began running, whether it’s to get in shape for summer, prevent disease or just prove to yourself that you can, most people, myself included, began running with relatively self-centered motives.

Leave it to race day to put you back in place and remove the focus from yourself. When you’re standing in a crowd of thousands of people at a start line, all ready to run the exact same course as you, it registers that, while this whole time you’ve been acting and thinking for yourself – reaching for PRs and scheduling “you time” to train on a regular basis – every other person out there is striving to achieve the exact same goal as you: make it across the finish line.

As you’re waiting for the race to start, everyone’s adrenaline and energy intertwines and magnifies, and the energy becomes infectious. Massive speakers blast pump-up music, large groups in matching outfits cheer and whoop and onlookers congregate to cheer you on as you run down the streets, holding hand-written signs with encouraging words.

You look around and see the variation in the group. Young and old run side by side. Runners for decades prepare to race down the same course as someone running her first race ever. Couples, families, solo runners and packs of friends have all came here, ready to accomplish the same thing as you.

At this moment, you realize that you’re a part of something bigger than yourself. You’re a tiny moving cog in this massive world. You realize that while you’ve always seen your efforts, your training struggles, your victories – both in and outside of your running routine – as more important than anything else, there are countless others struggling with, reaching for and achieving the exact same things you are.

Seeing streams of people who have decided to push themselves, train for weeks, begin to transform their entire state of health or, at the very least, show up really early on a weekend morning, is a moving and powerful display of human strength and capability that I hope everyone can experience at least once during their life. Seeing so many people come together, all with varying motives, but all with the shared end goal of crossing the same finish line, is phenomenal to think about.

Yes, the actual race can be exhausting and painful, both mentally and physically. You may curse the day you decided to sign up for it and, with every atom in your body, want to stop halfway through, give up and call a cab.

But whether you dash across the finish line with a 5 minute mile or practically slither your body over it, you’ve made it, along with everyone else and participated in something larger than yourself.