It's the eve of Valentine's Day and I've found that there are two camps of thought about this holiday: love it and hate it. The first dives head first into all things Hallmark and pink and floral and sweet. The second live in complete denial this holiday even exists and intentionally wear all black, silently screaming "if you even glance at me in a lovey, syrupy way, so help me....!"
I get it. The love. The hate. V-day either allows us a day to exploit the love we have or is a brutal reminder of what we seem to be missing.
What if this specific day isn't about romantic relationships, or the lack there of, at all? What if we've all been hoodwinked in believing this day is about external love and have been blinded from seeing the day for what it is?
What if this day was about loving you - this messed up, crazy, never-has-it-all-together, beautiful, wonderful you?
Could you do it?
Could you believe you are worth a whole day to celebrate simply loving you?
It's so hard. So, so hard to believe all the unique things that make us who we are are worth celebrating. Most days we screw up. Most days we hurt those we love. We fail and cry and gossip and hate and fall into the trap of understanding life as meaningless. We believe the worst things we think about ourselves are actually true and everyone else is thinking them too.
And then February 14 comes around and our failures or successes in a certain relationship area are broadcasted. Or we're given 24 hours to reassess what we believe. We're given an entire day to repeat over and over again "I love me. I'm beautiful. I'm worth it. I'm perfect."
One day to shelve all the negative voices in our head that try so hard to trap us in living a life far less grand than what we were created to live. Voices that keep us small.
So maybe this Valentine's day you write a love letter to you. Don't hold back. Jot down everything you love about yourself or think you could love or dream you could be. Even if you don't believe it, write it down. Even if it scares you, write it down.
And then read it over and over again until may you begin to believe in the beauty that is found in every single ounce of you.
Because here's a secret: if you start to believe you're worth this kind of love and live from this place of acceptance and grace, others will too.
And you'll begin to find beauty and connection in everything.
So go on a date or spend time with friends. Rent a movie, go outside, watch the stars, or indulge in as many chocolate somethings you possibly can. Scream into a pillow or cry if you need to and then smile because you let yourself feel. Celebrate in a way that makes you feel most alive and loved by no one other than you.
But please. Please don't bash or banish this day. Please don't allow any bit of loathing to taint what could be. And please don't gloat. Please don't shamelessly flaunt whatever love you think you have and flash it around like a stack of 100s or diamonds or fancy clothes. Because all of this is simply that, glitter and glam that dies away. And because every time you do, every time you hide or deny or hate or gloat or flaunt, each time you miss the opportunity to give this special day a new name, a new purpose. And you miss the chance to completely revel in you. This unique, no-one-quite-like it, absolutely wonderful you.
No matter what, where you stand or think you stand, please celebrate. Because if nothing else, this world could use a little more celebration.
Happy Valentine's Day.
Now, a little about this recipe. In my head I think all I need to say is "you have to try it" and you will but somehow that's, rightfully so, not quite enough so I'll say a little more.
I was curious about combining molasses and cacao and found that the flavor combination is deep and rich and almost smoky. Sort of bitter but also sweet. A little like Valentine's Day if you think about it.
Here's the nutrition deal.
Blackstrap molasses is one of the few sweeteners with an abundance of minerals packed in. Calcium? Check. Iron? Check. Potassium? Check.
Translation, if you are pregnant or post-partum [even years after having your last baby] this is an awesome food to add to your diet as it gives you the minerals you and the baby need to maintain health and acts as a blood tonic after you've given birth, replenishing what has been lost.
Molasses works to reduce dampness and cold in the body which means if you're experiencing winter cold right now this might just help you warm from the inside out. A great treat after outdoor winter fun!
In addition to all this goodness, if you take a bit [1 - 2 tablespoons] of molasses in warm water an hour or so prior to bed it will aid the bowels and soften things up first thing in the morning. Super helpful for issues surrounding constipation. I'd nix the cacao though as it can be stimulating - not exactly what you want prior to catching some Zzz's.
Good for almost every digestive organ in your body, adding molasses really providess more than simply flavor to this hot drink.
2 c. boiling water
1 T. molasses
2 tsp. cacao or cocoa powder [or carob if you can't do chocolate]
2 pinches of each: sea salt, Ceylon cinnamon, ground ginger
Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan or tea kettle. While the water is warming, place the remaining ingredients in a large mug. Pour the boiling water into the mug and whisk until everything has dissolved into water. Top with marshmallows and enjoy!
Important Note: This is a slightly bitter drink until you add the marshmallows. If you forgo the marshmallows you may want to add a touch of raw honey or maple syrup until you reach the sweetness you desire.
I was visiting a friend of mine and found these on her counter. I haven't had a marshmallow in years for a host of reasons, mainly because on a basic level they are puffed chemicals. Admittedly delicious but still, disgusting.
And then there's these little babies. Simple, whole food ingredients without an ounce of chemical or processing. So, so good.
Because I love adding medicinal herbs to just about everything, try adding 1 tablespoon of marshmallow root powder to the gelatin and water. Marshmallow root is great for gut inflammation and adds an authentic mallow-y taste.
Head over here for the recipe!
Friday, February 13, 2015
Monday, February 9, 2015
So a little disclaimer. This is absolutely the opposite of a local winter meal. Fresh lettuce in winter? No. Cucumbers in the snow? No. Water chestnuts in the mitten state? Not that I can find.
And so it is what it is and the beauty of discipline in any area of life is that there is room for exceptions and straying from the rules actually keep us balanced and in a healthier place than stubbornness and rigidity.
I love this recipe because it reminds me of PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps and beyond that it reminds me of being in Chicago with my husband, newly married and newly gluten-free. Many people have memories surrounding food and this particular dish is one of the first I ate out after learning I had an allergy to gluten.
If you've had such a staple food like gluten removed from your diet you know the helpless feeling of looking into a menu and realizing a salad, hold pretty much everything, is the only answer. But then. Then you enter a restaurant that takes gluten free seriously and everything about the meal is suddenly transformed from desperate to beautiful and permanently impressed on your being.
Now I don't know how the higher ups at PF Chang's feel about GMO's or organic food or supporting local farms or animal confinement.
I hope they care.
What I do know is that in this one particular area they made a difference for me in a very hopeless situation and for that I am grateful.
This recipe was an absolute hit in our family. Most nights I come to the table with food prepared having no idea what the response will be. Translation, I have no idea how hard I'm going to have to fight to have said food consumed by a particular two and four year old. And by fight, I mean how creative I'll need to get. Obviously.
Coming into this meal was no different and truth be told, I expected the worst. Instead, both kids ate the equivalent of four wraps each [albeit running to and from the table]. Either way, a clear and delicious success![THE RECIPE]
Adapted from this recipe
1 lb organic, pasture raised ground turkey or chicken
1 - 2 T. extra virgin coconut or olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tablespoon of peeled and minced ginger
1 8-ounce can of water chestnuts, finely chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 T. raw honey
1 T. brown rice vinegar
1 cucumber very thinly sliced [using knife or mandolin]
raw apple cider vinegar
1 large head of bib or butter lettuce, rinsed and laid on towel to dry
cooked [and sprouted if possible] quinoa or rice, optional
green onions / scallions, chopped, optional
Warm oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey and cook until well done, breaking into very small pieces while cooking. Once the turkey is thoroughly cooked, add onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute over medium heat until onion is soft and transparent [5 - 10 minutes]. Stir in the garlic powder, tamari sauce or coconut aminos, honey, and brown rice vinegar. Let mixture cook for about 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to one third of the original. Add water chestnuts at the end and cook for 3 - 4 minutes. While the turkey filling is cooking, slice cucumbers and place in a glass bowl. Toss with enough cider vinegar to coat and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt. Mix well and place in refrigerator until food is prepared.
Once the meat is ready, either place meat, lettuce cups, marinated cucumbers, and quinoa or rice on the table or scoop filling into lettuce cups and top with cucumbers, quinoa or rice [if desired], and serve immediately.
Saturday, February 7, 2015
This past year I've found so much beauty and healing in slowing down, demanding less, giving up pushing and pulling and worrying and controlling, and instead quieting my mind in an effort to really feel my body and hear my soul.
When you're in the "health world" or routinely pick up a health-based magazine or see a fear-based health post or wonder which diet is actually the best, it's so easy to quickly become immersed in food-based fear and anxiety. Most of us want to feel good and live healthfully and we educate ourselves and change our diets and start working out. All good things. And yet there comes a point where the line between making some healthy lifestyle choices shifts to wanting to control it all and simply caring turns to obsessing. And fear of whatever the opposite of health is, or could be, becomes the driving force.
Here's what I've learned: no matter how healthy we eat, how much knowledge we gain, how many supplements we take, how much we care and do and give up, if "being healthy" causes anxiety and stress and fear, health will continually allude us.
Here's what I've also learned: it's okay.
It's okay to release all of the fear. It's okay to release all of the stress. It's okay to say no to the worry. It's okay to get to a point where we say enough is enough. It's okay to think we've failed. It's okay to not feel our best every minute of every day. It's okay to sit in the discomfort of life and experience the emotions that come with. It's okay to get sick from time to time. And it's okay to ask for help when being okay seems unbelievable.
So close the diet books. Discontinue the health magazines. Turn off the sound and chatter of the voices out there and begin to listen to the voice within. I know from experience that the voice of our true, honest, ego-less, projection-less self is infinitely wise and grace-filled and honest and compassionate and vastly inclusive and forgiving. Find someone who can help uncover this voice.
Give up the chatter and noise and meditate. Practice mindfulness. Breathe. Listen to really awesome music. Completely loose all sense of time doing something you love. Go outside. Seriously, even in the winter go outside. Connect with people you care deeply about. Be open and honest and vulnerable. Laugh. Laugh a lot. Let yourself stay up too late and sleep in too long from time to time and don't for a second regret it. And be present. Take all of the energy wasted on worry and fear and being anxious and focus on just being present. Right now. This second.
And forget about food. And health. And whatever you think you should be doing.
Because food matters. But it only matters as one small piece of the great big, beautiful, unique puzzle that makes up you.
So Crock Pots.
Let's be honest, Crock Pots are one of mankind's most amazing inventions. Well Crock Pots and electricity. And air travel. And indoor plumbing. And pacifiers. You get the point. I affectionately think of ours as Ms. Chef, getting dinner done when I don't have the energy, motivation and/or time to do so. For me, there is something about having dinner prepared before 9am that brings a sort of ease to my day. Feeding my family well demands a decent amount of my time and using a Crock Pot allows me to spend elsewhere the time I would be standing at a stove - hopefully on things that fill me up and give me life and allow me to be present.
Here is a week long meal plan using just the Crock Pot. Some meals are meat-less, some use meat, and all are based on whole, un-processed foods. You can choose to serve with the sides listed, create your own sides, or stick to whatever is in the pot. These recipes are great for cooler temperatures and the winter season.
May you find a little extra space in your life to slow down, take in beauty in whatever way you find it, and forget about food.
Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls
*prepare lentils for Monday by placing dried, uncooked lentils in a large glass bowl and covering with double the amount of water and a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar.
Serve with oat baguette, seed bread, seed crackers, or bread / crackers of choice.
Serve with steamed or roasted vegetables.
Butternut Squash Risotto
Serve with steamed or roasted vegetables.
*prepare black beans for Thursday by dried, uncooked beans in a large glass bowl and covering with double the amount of wate and a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar.
Black Bean Soup
Serve with fresh cilantro and roasted sweet potato or parsnip chips.
Modifications: Rather than cooking over stove, simply put all of the ingredients [including uncooked, pre-soaked black beans] in Crock Pot on high for 6 - 8 hours.
Creamy Chicken Soup using leftover chicken from Tuesday [click on link and scroll to "Meal 6"]
Serve with roasted cauliflower [click link and scroll down for recipe].
Serve on a bed of quinoa or rice and top with fresh cilantro, avocado, and freshly squeezed lime juice.
Recipe modifications: I used Cod in place of Tilapia and seasoned with freshly ground cumin and coriander seeds.