Month: February 2014 (Page 1 of 2)

Not Your Mama’s Brussels Sprouts! 3 Recipes You Have to Try

On behalf of anyone who has ever subjected you to boiled, steamed, or otherwise overcooked Brussels sprouts…

I apologize.

Image

Many of us had traumatic experiences with certain foods while we were growing up and have written them off as adults, and rightfully so. Overcooked Brussels sprouts are often one of those foods, and when they are boiled to death, they do smell (and taste) pretty terrible!

Here’s the good news – Brussels sprouts have been reinvented and taste completely different than they did when we were kids. I promise. Those of us who have sworn off these stinky little cabbages since childhood are giving them a second chance as adults…and are loving them!

Not only are Brussels sprouts delicious, but they incredibly good for you! They are:

  • A source of over 20 essential vitamins and minerals our body needs to function at its best
  • Potent cancer fighters. Check out this post for more about the amazing cancer-fighting properties of green, cruciferous veggies like Brussels sprouts
  • Chock full of fiber. You know, that stuff that keeps us full, controls our blood sugar, and keeps us “regular”

Check out 3 of my favorite Brussels sprouts recipes below!

The first one, in particular, will convert even lifelong Brussels sprouts haters. I prepared it for Thanksgiving last year, and someone who had only had Brussels sprouts boiled tried them and LOVED them. He told his wife he would eat them if she prepared them this way. Happy Cooking 🙂

ImageMaple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts. This is my absolute favorite way to prepare Brussels sprouts. The recipe is super simple, too! Follow these tips/tricks for optimal results: flip Brussels sprouts over halfway through cooking time (at the 10 minute mark), so they cook 10 minutes per side. Do not overcook them – they should still be a brighter green (vs. a dull/muted green). These are SO good! You have to try them.

IMG_3345

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Shallots. Inspired by the mini Brussels sprouts and shallots I received in my Hometown Harvest bag last week, I made up this recipe.

Ingredients & Directions: 2.5 cups Brussels sprouts, left whole (mini ones, if you can find them!); 2 shallots, sliced; 2 cloves of garlic, minced; 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted; sea salt & black pepper, to taste.

I mixed all of the ingredients together and then roasted them on a baking sheet in the oven at 400F for 18-20 minutes, tossing them around in the pan at the 10-minute mark. They were really tasty! The shallots added a subtle sweetness. Bill and I devoured the whole bowl at dinner.

Smoky Lemony Shredded Brussels Sprouts – Smoked paprika has a delicious, deep flavor and is something we just started using last month! It can be tricky to find, so you might have to order it online or find it at Whole Foods, Fresh Market, MOMs, or Wegmans. I modified a few things in the recipe (but feel free to follow it “as is”):

IMG_3374

  • Used coconut oil instead of olive oil since coconut oil is more heat stable
  • Added 1/4-1/3 cup low sodium vegetable broth to help the Brussels sprouts cook down. I did this after the Brussels sprouts had been cooking for a few minutes. Just add it in a few tablespoons at a time until the Brussels sprouts soften.
  • Used 2 cloves of garlic instead of 1 (I love garlic!)
  • Added in 1/4 cup of toasted, chopped walnuts for some crunch!
  • Added closer to 1 tablespoon of lemon juice instead of 2 teaspoons (3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon)

What is your favorite way to prepare Brussels sprouts? Feel free to share your recipes below!

Not Your Mama's Brussels Sprouts! 3 Recipes You Have to Try

On behalf of anyone who has ever subjected you to boiled, steamed, or otherwise overcooked Brussels sprouts…

I apologize.

Image

Many of us had traumatic experiences with certain foods while we were growing up and have written them off as adults, and rightfully so. Overcooked Brussels sprouts are often one of those foods, and when they are boiled to death, they do smell (and taste) pretty terrible!

Here’s the good news – Brussels sprouts have been reinvented and taste completely different than they did when we were kids. I promise. Those of us who have sworn off these stinky little cabbages since childhood are giving them a second chance as adults…and are loving them!

Not only are Brussels sprouts delicious, but they incredibly good for you! They are:

  • A source of over 20 essential vitamins and minerals our body needs to function at its best
  • Potent cancer fighters. Check out this post for more about the amazing cancer-fighting properties of green, cruciferous veggies like Brussels sprouts
  • Chock full of fiber. You know, that stuff that keeps us full, controls our blood sugar, and keeps us “regular”

Check out 3 of my favorite Brussels sprouts recipes below!

The first one, in particular, will convert even lifelong Brussels sprouts haters. I prepared it for Thanksgiving last year, and someone who had only had Brussels sprouts boiled tried them and LOVED them. He told his wife he would eat them if she prepared them this way. Happy Cooking 🙂

ImageMaple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts. This is my absolute favorite way to prepare Brussels sprouts. The recipe is super simple, too! Follow these tips/tricks for optimal results: flip Brussels sprouts over halfway through cooking time (at the 10 minute mark), so they cook 10 minutes per side. Do not overcook them – they should still be a brighter green (vs. a dull/muted green). These are SO good! You have to try them.

IMG_3345

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Shallots. Inspired by the mini Brussels sprouts and shallots I received in my Hometown Harvest bag last week, I made up this recipe.

Ingredients & Directions: 2.5 cups Brussels sprouts, left whole (mini ones, if you can find them!); 2 shallots, sliced; 2 cloves of garlic, minced; 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted; sea salt & black pepper, to taste.

I mixed all of the ingredients together and then roasted them on a baking sheet in the oven at 400F for 18-20 minutes, tossing them around in the pan at the 10-minute mark. They were really tasty! The shallots added a subtle sweetness. Bill and I devoured the whole bowl at dinner.

Smoky Lemony Shredded Brussels Sprouts – Smoked paprika has a delicious, deep flavor and is something we just started using last month! It can be tricky to find, so you might have to order it online or find it at Whole Foods, Fresh Market, MOMs, or Wegmans. I modified a few things in the recipe (but feel free to follow it “as is”):

IMG_3374

  • Used coconut oil instead of olive oil since coconut oil is more heat stable
  • Added 1/4-1/3 cup low sodium vegetable broth to help the Brussels sprouts cook down. I did this after the Brussels sprouts had been cooking for a few minutes. Just add it in a few tablespoons at a time until the Brussels sprouts soften.
  • Used 2 cloves of garlic instead of 1 (I love garlic!)
  • Added in 1/4 cup of toasted, chopped walnuts for some crunch!
  • Added closer to 1 tablespoon of lemon juice instead of 2 teaspoons (3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon)

What is your favorite way to prepare Brussels sprouts? Feel free to share your recipes below!

It’s Taco Tuesday! Walnut Tacos & Dairy-Free Sour Cream {Vegan, Raw, Gluten-Free}

I originally wrote this post in February 2014, but since then I have made some tweaks to the recipes to make them my own and improve them. I served these at a workshop I did today, and my coworkers LOVED them. One person even said she likes them better than regular tacos 🙂

——————————————————————————————————-

My husband Bill and I saw The Lego Movie last week, which inspired me to bring a raw taco recipe to work this week for our Real Food Challenge and to celebrate Taco Tuesday!LEGO Taco Tuesday Guy Set 71004-12

When I think of tacos, I think of the crunchy, salty Old El Paso shells filled with seasoned ground beef and variety of other toppings, like cheese, salsa, and sour cream. Some of those toppings are healthy, but others aren’t. Instead of giving up tacos, why not put a new, healthier spin on them?!

One of the things I enjoy most about what I do is reinventing our favorite comfort foods, so they are healthier but just as (if not more!) delicious and flavorful.

I prepared the “meat” and “cream” for today’s Taco Tuesday lunch for my coworkers, and it was a HUGE hit! Skeptics and believers alike raved about these tacos and dairy-free sour cream, so I’m going to share with you the recipes for how to make them!

The secret ingredient in the “meat”? Walnuts!

raw walnut tacos taco meat closeup

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch cayenne powder
  • 2 tablespoons tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) – You can find this in the Asian section of most grocery stores or online. Use coconut aminos to make this dish paleo.
  • 1 head of baby Romaine lettuce (use one leaf as the taco “shell”)

Add your own toppings, including but not limited to the following:

  • Dairy-free sour cream (below!)
  • Black or pinto beans
  • Brown rice
  • Diced onions
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Diced avocados
  • Diced tomatoes

Directions

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it resembles the size and texture of ground meat!

Now, on to the sour cream! 🙂

whole taco

Since I stopped consuming milk products a few years ago for health reasons, I’ve had to find alternatives to the creamy goodness of dairy, and I’ve been happy with the recipes and options I’ve tried. I will be devoting several blog posts in the future to some of my favorite deliciously dairy-free recipes, but for today, we’re going to spotlight a recipe for sour cream…without the cream.

The secret ingredient? Cashews!

Cashews can be used as a base for creamy, dairy-free sauces, dips, spreads, and even cheesecakes (Zia’s makes the best!). When you soak cashews overnight in water, they get really soft and can be blended together with savory ingredients to create a delicious, dairy-free alternative to sour cream.

words sourcream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and then rinsed and drained
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice (start with 2 T then taste and add a third if needed. I prefer just under 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 teaspoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup water (or more for desired consistency)

Directions

Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. I had to use the tamper for my Vitamix to push it down.

**If you don’t have a high speed blender, you will likely need to stop a few times to scrape down the sides and might need to add a bit more water to thin it out.

The taco “meat” should be able to last a few days in the fridge, since there are no cooked ingredients in it, and the sour cream will likely be good for up to a week.

Enjoy!

Walnut Tacos with Dairy-Free Sour Cream

I originally wrote this post in February 2014, but since then I have made some tweaks to the recipes to make them my own and improve them. I served these at a workshop I did today, and my coworkers LOVED them. One person even said she likes them better than regular tacos 🙂

——————————————————————————————————-

My husband Bill and I saw The Lego Movie last week, which inspired me to bring a raw taco recipe to work this week for our Real Food Challenge and to celebrate Taco Tuesday!LEGO Taco Tuesday Guy Set 71004-12

When I think of tacos, I think of the crunchy, salty Old El Paso shells filled with seasoned ground beef and variety of other toppings, like cheese, salsa, and sour cream. Some of those toppings are healthy, but others aren’t. Instead of giving up tacos, why not put a new, healthier spin on them?!

One of the things I enjoy most about what I do is reinventing our favorite comfort foods, so they are healthier but just as (if not more!) delicious and flavorful.

I prepared the “meat” and “cream” for today’s Taco Tuesday lunch for my coworkers, and it was a HUGE hit! Skeptics and believers alike raved about these tacos and dairy-free sour cream, so I’m going to share with you the recipes for how to make them!

The secret ingredient in the “meat”? Walnuts!

raw walnut tacos taco meat closeup

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch cayenne powder
  • 2 tablespoons tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) – You can find this in the Asian section of most grocery stores or online. Use coconut aminos to make this dish paleo.
  • 1 head of baby Romaine lettuce (use one leaf as the taco “shell”)

Add your own toppings, including but not limited to the following:

  • Dairy-free sour cream (below!)
  • Black or pinto beans
  • Brown rice
  • Diced onions
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Diced avocados
  • Diced tomatoes

Directions

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it resembles the size and texture of ground meat!

Now, on to the sour cream! 🙂

whole taco

Since I stopped consuming milk products a few years ago for health reasons, I’ve had to find alternatives to the creamy goodness of dairy, and I’ve been happy with the recipes and options I’ve tried. I will be devoting several blog posts in the future to some of my favorite deliciously dairy-free recipes, but for today, we’re going to spotlight a recipe for sour cream…without the cream.

The secret ingredient? Cashews!

Cashews can be used as a base for creamy, dairy-free sauces, dips, spreads, and even cheesecakes (Zia’s makes the best!). When you soak cashews overnight in water, they get really soft and can be blended together with savory ingredients to create a delicious, dairy-free alternative to sour cream.

words sourcream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and then rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup water

Directions

Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. I had to use the tamper for my Vitamix to push it down.

**If you don’t have a high speed blender, you will likely need to stop a few times to scrape down the sides and might need to add a bit more water to thin it out.

The taco “meat” should be able to last a few days in the fridge, since there are no cooked ingredients in it, and the sour cream will likely be good for up to a week.

Enjoy!

What Nourishes Your Soul? Retreat Reflections Part 2

While so much of what I’m passionate about centers on nutrition and food-based nourishment, I was reminded this past weekend about something I learned in nutrition school – that there is another kind of nourishment, one that isn’t focused on what we eat.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I just returned from a women’s retreat and have committed to stop using “busyness” as an excuse to be disconnected and emotionally, mentally and spiritually malnourished.

One of the questions Tracey Meeks, this weekend’s speaker, asked several times during the retreat that stuck with me was this:

“What nourishes your soul?”

When’s the last time you asked yourself that question and really stopped to think about the answer? The food-based nourishment is great, but if it’s delivered to a soul that is malnourished, it will not be nearly as helpful, healing or restorative.

This “non-food nourishment” is so important in our lives…yet it’s often something we overlook and neglect.

During the Sunday morning session, as the weekend was coming to a close and I was reflecting on what I had learned, I thought about what made this retreat time so special, so restful, and so refreshing.

The conclusion I reached was this – I can take much of what I learned on the retreat with me and apply it to my life beyond an idyllic weekend away.

My roommates at the women's retreat, including my mom!

My roommates at the women’s retreat, including my mom!

Here are 10 lessons I learned from the retreat about how to nourish our restless, “too busy” souls:

1. Disconnect. No TV. No computers. Minimal, if any, cell phone time. It’s amazing how refreshing it is to take a break from technology.

When we disconnect from technology, we begin to connect to each other.

My dad recently wrote about this topic as it applies to the workplace, and I think he makes some great points worth reading. What can you do to disconnect?

2. Show authentic & focused attention. When we’re unencumbered by all of our gadgets, to do lists and schedules, we can sit down, give each other our undivided attention, looking into each other’s eyes, share our stories, trials and joys and listen. We feel heard when someone takes the time to truly listen to us and to give us his or her genuine attention. What changes can you make to be more authentically attentive?

3. Be vulnerable. So often, we put up walls that keep people away from truly knowing us. We keep ourselves safe by holding our fears, worries, and frustrations inside. When we are intentional about being vulnerable to people we trust, we create opportunities for growth and renewal. Each of us has an innate desire to feel known, heard and validated. What can you do to be vulnerable with the people in your life that you trust?

4. Have fun & laugh. We spent a lot of time laughing and having fun this weekend from doing Zumba and playing games to making jokes about ourselves and our funny tendencies (like the woman who packed 7 pairs of shoes for a day and a half retreat or the fact that there was a recycling bin in the bathroom…think about that one for a second). What is something that makes you laugh? Spend more time doing that thing.

5. Add in physical touch. Touch has always been known to have healing powers, but in this era of being over stimulated, hyper connected, and always “on,” we often miss out on the power of physical touch. Whether we were hugging a friend, putting our arms around each other in prayer, or rubbing someone’s back as encouragement or support, we were nourished by the gift of physical touch. How can you incorporate physical touch in to your life?

6. Be in community. There are many things about being a woman that are unique and worth celebrating. So often, we reject or abandon our uniquely feminine qualities and gifts that make being a woman so fun and fulfilling. I am going to be more intentional about creating these opportunities, whether it is having friends over for dinner, going on walks on the nearby trails, or grabbing tea on a Saturday morning. What can you do to be in community?

7. Listen to music. I’ve always loved to sing. My husband and I first connected over music and singing, and we are on the worship team at our church. Music is also an integral part of the retreat weekend, and we spend at least two hours singing and listening to music together. During our small group sessions, music came up several times, as several of us commented how the perfect song tends to come on the radio just when we need it. A couple of weeks ago, I was having a stressful week, and while I was driving to work (which gives me the opportunity to listen to 2 songs max), this song came on and really encouraged me. Music can help us unwind, relax, and recharge. What can you do to add music in to your day?

8. Spend time in nature. Over the course of the weekend, so many women mentioned how nourished they feel by being out in nature, in the wilderness. Something about us comes alive when we spend an afternoon hiking in the woods, take an evening walk and admire the changing colors of the trees, go for a run along a pier, soak in the warm rays of the sun during a lunch break, or play outside with kids. We spend so much of our time indoors that we often miss out on nature’s nourishment. What can you do to spend more time in nature?

9. Move. Whether it’s taking a Zumba class, trying an interval training session, or upping our heart rate and energy through a boot camp, the retreat weekend gives us lots of opportunities to move our bodies, something most of us don’t do enough. Some of us took advantage of the beautiful weather outside and went for a walk or run. Since many of us sit at work or at home for hours each day, taking time to move our bodies – something we were designed to do – is energizing, restorative and healing. What can you do to incorporate more movement into your day?

10. Rest & relax. This is the hardest thing for me to do.  I feel like my mind is always “on.” Getting massages, snuggling with my husband, and soaking away my stress in a relaxing bath are a few ways I relax. One of the verses Tracey shared over the weekend that captured this idea of rest perfectly was from Mark 6:31: “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 

For me, time away from everything – being physically away from the demands and stresses of my every day life – helps me feel rested. What do you do and where do you go to nourish your soul and find rest? 

 In which of those areas do you feel adequately nourished? Undernourished?

Consider picking one area to focus on as you make strides to reconnect with people in your life and nourish your mind, body and soul.

I’m Turning In My Busyness Badge: Retreat Reflections Part 1

I was going to write about Brussels sprouts today.

I had it all planned out – spotlight three tried and true recipes featuring one of my favorite vegetables.

And then I went away for the weekend on a women’s retreat.

I’ve been inspired to write about something else. I’ll write about Brussels sprouts another day.

As important as eating what is nourishing and avoiding what is toxic is so important to our overall health, avoiding disease, and feeling our best, there is something we often overlook in this seemingly unending quest to “be healthy,” and that’s the power of rest.

Every year in February, my mom invites me to go on a retreat with her church to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with about 400 other women.

I’ve been about six times so far…and every time, I’m so glad I’ve heeded that gentle nudge to register.

I almost didn’t go this year.

Why? Well, you know, I’m just so busy, and besides, I could find plenty of other ways to spend the money.

With some encouragement from my husband, who knows I don’t do this whole relaxation and resting thing very well, I decided to go.

The main speaker was Tracey Meeks, who lost her husband of less than a decade to an inoperable brain tumor several years ago and is now raising her two children as a single mom. The stories and perspectives she shared were gripping, inspirational, and inviting.

One of the things she said that really resonated with me was this: “When we’re in constant activity, it’s like we are living while only exhaling.”

Let that soak in for a moment.

How many of us feel that way? We are going, going, going, constantly exerting energy, rarely taking a second to stop, to breathe in.

Most of us suffer from “hurry sickness.”  And this perpetual state of busyness robs us of our sense of wonder and can be kind of numbing.

We proudly wear our “busyness badge of honor,” and in doing so we forego connection, avoid vulnerability, and miss out on truly living.

I’m as guilty as the next person of proudly donning my busyness badge each day at work, at home, at church, and with my friends and family, constantly telling everyone how busy I am.

It is the result of my choices that I feel so busy…and I realize it is doing me more harm than good.

When “I’m busy,” I miss out on admiring the beauty of a stunning sunset.

When “I’m busy,” I ignore the subtle urgings to reach out to a friend and see how he or she is doing.

When “I’m busy,” I pass by a coworker having a less than great day with a “hey, how are you?” and don’t stop to hear his or her response.

When “I’m busy,” I prioritize my to do list over spending time with my husband.

When “I’m busy,” I don’t make time to rest, to relax, to retreat.

Being away this weekend made me realize something…I’m tired of being busy.

Does each of us have a lot going on in our lives? Sure. I don’t mean to diminish the complexity of life and the many hats that we wear and roles that we play on a daily basis.

But I also don’t want to use busyness as an excuse to avoid connection, intimacy, vulnerability, and life.

Taking time to rest, reflect and reconnect is one of the most important things we can do for our health.

More than anything else in my health journey, I struggle to set aside time to rest and renew myself, but I know I’m not alone, and that encourages me.

As much as it scares me, I’m going to commit to making a change because I know it’s good for my health, my relationships and my soul. I pledge not to use “busyness” as an excuse to distance myself from others but to see it as a gift, an opportunity to invite them in to support me, to connect face-to-face, and to be reminded of what really matters.

I’m turning in my “busyness badge.”

In Part 2, I will share lessons learned on the retreat about some non-food nourishment for our too-busy souls. 

I'm Turning In My Busyness Badge: Retreat Reflections Part 1

I was going to write about Brussels sprouts today.

I had it all planned out – spotlight three tried and true recipes featuring one of my favorite vegetables.

And then I went away for the weekend on a women’s retreat.

I’ve been inspired to write about something else. I’ll write about Brussels sprouts another day.

As important as eating what is nourishing and avoiding what is toxic is so important to our overall health, avoiding disease, and feeling our best, there is something we often overlook in this seemingly unending quest to “be healthy,” and that’s the power of rest.

Every year in February, my mom invites me to go on a retreat with her church to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with about 400 other women.

I’ve been about six times so far…and every time, I’m so glad I’ve heeded that gentle nudge to register.

I almost didn’t go this year.

Why? Well, you know, I’m just so busy, and besides, I could find plenty of other ways to spend the money.

With some encouragement from my husband, who knows I don’t do this whole relaxation and resting thing very well, I decided to go.

The main speaker was Tracey Meeks, who lost her husband of less than a decade to an inoperable brain tumor several years ago and is now raising her two children as a single mom. The stories and perspectives she shared were gripping, inspirational, and inviting.

One of the things she said that really resonated with me was this: “When we’re in constant activity, it’s like we are living while only exhaling.”

Let that soak in for a moment.

How many of us feel that way? We are going, going, going, constantly exerting energy, rarely taking a second to stop, to breathe in.

Most of us suffer from “hurry sickness.”  And this perpetual state of busyness robs us of our sense of wonder and can be kind of numbing.

We proudly wear our “busyness badge of honor,” and in doing so we forego connection, avoid vulnerability, and miss out on truly living.

I’m as guilty as the next person of proudly donning my busyness badge each day at work, at home, at church, and with my friends and family, constantly telling everyone how busy I am.

It is the result of my choices that I feel so busy…and I realize it is doing me more harm than good.

When “I’m busy,” I miss out on admiring the beauty of a stunning sunset.

When “I’m busy,” I ignore the subtle urgings to reach out to a friend and see how he or she is doing.

When “I’m busy,” I pass by a coworker having a less than great day with a “hey, how are you?” and don’t stop to hear his or her response.

When “I’m busy,” I prioritize my to do list over spending time with my husband.

When “I’m busy,” I don’t make time to rest, to relax, to retreat.

Being away this weekend made me realize something…I’m tired of being busy.

Does each of us have a lot going on in our lives? Sure. I don’t mean to diminish the complexity of life and the many hats that we wear and roles that we play on a daily basis.

But I also don’t want to use busyness as an excuse to avoid connection, intimacy, vulnerability, and life.

Taking time to rest, reflect and reconnect is one of the most important things we can do for our health.

More than anything else in my health journey, I struggle to set aside time to rest and renew myself, but I know I’m not alone, and that encourages me.

As much as it scares me, I’m going to commit to making a change because I know it’s good for my health, my relationships and my soul. I pledge not to use “busyness” as an excuse to distance myself from others but to see it as a gift, an opportunity to invite them in to support me, to connect face-to-face, and to be reminded of what really matters.

I’m turning in my “busyness badge.”

In Part 2, I will share lessons learned on the retreat about some non-food nourishment for our too-busy souls. 

Super Simple Curry Roasted Potatoes

For most of my life, I ate a pretty bland diet.

Sauces, spices, and condiments? No, thank you. I will have it “plain.”

“Plain” was safe, familiar, predictable.

My seasonings of choice were, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” spray, parmesan cheese, and black pepper…and maybe a pinch of oregano or basil every now and then. That was it.

As I’ve gotten more comfortable exploring new foods, I’ve been exposed to dozens of flavors and tastes that I never knew existed. Food used to be boring, but now it’s exciting and filled with variety!

One of the cuisines that I resisted eating until very recently was Indian food.

I did what I had done many times before and made up my mind that I didn’t like Indian food, even though I had never tried it. I made the assumption that all Indian food was spicy and the funky colors and strange-looking dishes were not appealing to me as a picky eater.

I had no idea what I was missing!

Though it likely started as a combination of ginger, turmeric and garlic, the origin of a signature Indian spice blend, curry, has been traced back thousands of years to the Indus Valley Civilization in modern-day India. Most likely rooted in the South Indian term for sauce (kari), British traders adopted the more familiar word curry to categorize these spice blends. It has evolved and been adopted by other cultures since then.

curry

Curry spice blends vary widely, depending on which region they’re from and based on people’s personal tastes, but some of the most common ingredients include turmeric, ginger, fenugreek, coriander, and cinnamon. Other varieties include cayenne pepper, cumin, mustard seed, and cardamom.

Many of these spices are highly anti-inflammatory, and many health experts agree that inflammation is at the core of a lot of disease and our struggles to lose weight. In addition, curry is full of warming spices, so it’s perfect for this cold weather we’ve been having.

After learning which spices were actually in curry (and realizing that I liked all of them), I’ve been on a huge curry kick, adding it to recipes to completely change the way they taste. You can find curry powder in the spice aisle at your grocery store. Bill and I are absolutely loving it!

We used the red potatoes and onions we got from our weekly delivery of produce and made curry roasted potatoes and onions. This recipe is so simple and delicious, it will become a staple at our house.

Curry Roasted Potatoes & Onions

IMG_2796

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds red potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Let stand, tossing occasionally, for 15 minutes so flavors can be absorbed.
  3. Arrange vegetables in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet (I used parchment paper, so they wouldn’t stick).
  4. Toss every 15 minutes for even browning and to prevent burning.
  5. Bake potatoes and onions until golden brown, 30–35 minutes.

Want to change it up? Try subbing in sweet potatoes or cauliflower florets instead of red potatoes!

How I Lost 20+ Pounds, Got Back to My High School Weight & Kept It Off

Four years ago, I was almost 25 pounds heavier than I am now.

IMG_2767I had gained weight post-college, as I was juggling two jobs, in the midst of my first dating relationship, and trying to figure out “who I was” outside of school.

Ask anyone, and they would have said I was “healthy.” To the outside observer, based on everything most of us have been brought up to believe about eating right, I was.

Each morning, I had a big bowl of oatmeal with a generous handful of raisins and a hefty spoonful of peanut butter. A few hours later, I had a snack of some sort, like a meal replacement or granola bar, a handful of almonds or Triscuits and cheese.

For lunch, I ended up eating pretty much the same thing every day – a turkey breast sandwich on a whole wheat sandwich thin with a small piece of provolone cheese, a smear of pesto, and a piece of lettuce. If I was feeling adventurous, I would throw on some sundried tomatoes. I usually finished off lunch with a creamy Greek yogurt and some fruit.

Dinner had the most variety but soon became routine – whole wheat pasta with veggies topped off with more than just a dusting of parmesan cheese, baked chicken with steamed veggies and brown rice, and occasionally breakfast for dinner, or a bowl of cereal if I wasn’t feeling particularly motivated.

Based on everything I had ever learned, I was doing the right things – eating whole wheat products, getting in enough dairy so I’d meet my body’s calcium needs, and avoiding fast food and fried food.

I thought I was eating healthy.

But why was I overweight? 

I had been the same weight for about eight years and didn’t think it was possible for my body to weigh less. I had just decided that I was “that size,” that it was because of “my bones,” and that I couldn’t change.

Though I was intentionally moving my body on a daily basis, the key to losing weight wasn’t about spending hours upon hours at the gym. I liked Zumba, running, walking and some group exercise classes like BodyPump, so it was easier for me to stick with them instead of doing exercises I “should” do but didn’t like (i.e., spinning).

Although important and necessary, exercise was only about 20% of the answer. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t out-exercise my diet.

In May 2010, I began to do things differently and noticed changes for the first time in a long time.

I used an online database to track everything I was eating and drinking for about 8 weeks. Using this system, I found out that my diet was deficient in a lot of nutrients and that I was eating more food than my body needed to reach my goal weight. I never thought of myself as overeating before, but I was. 

What and how much I was eating were the key factors driving my weight.

IMG_2794

Little by little, I made a series of changes, and I’ve never looked back. I have kept the weight off for almost 4 years, even in the midst of planning our wedding, finishing graduate school, and buying our first house.

This truly has been a “marathon” and not a sprint; I didn’t make these changes overnight. I continue to learn more each day and tweak things as I go. I have learned to listen to my body.

Here are the dietary changes I have made to get back to (and maintain) my high school weight:

1. I upgraded my diet by eating A LOT more vegetables. This was the single most important thing I did. Vegetables have more nutrients per calorie than any other food and are high in fiber and low in calories. They fill us up and nourish us. I started making vegetables the base of my lunch, choosing a salad over my traditional sandwich, and treating veggies more as an entrée than a side dish at dinner (roasted, sautéed, and in salads and soups). I ate more vegetables at every meal.

IMG_2676

2. I ate less food. For most of us, our body tells us it wants more food because the processed foods we are eating are lacking in nutrients…so we keep eating because our body thinks it will eventually get the nutrients it needs. As crazy as it sounds, we are overfed yet undernourished! Once I started eating more unprocessed, unpackaged, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and even beans (for the first time in my life!), I ended up eating less because I was finally giving my body the nutrients it craved.

3. I started “crowding out” processed food. Prior to losing weight, I was eating a lot of “healthy” processed food, like whole wheat bread, string cheese, Vitatops, granola bars, and Wheat Thins. Once I started to realize how few nutrients (and how many non-food ingredients and sugar) were in those foods, I started eating less of them and replacing them with whole foods (see #2 above).

4. I cut out dairy. I know, I know. Milk, cheese and ice cream are the holy trinity of deliciousness, and I am evil for even insinuating we can/should go without them. I grew up loving dairy products. I had mint chocolate chip ice cream cake every year for my birthday, yogurt every day for lunch, and some form of cheese at dinner. In the winter of 2012, I cut out dairy for a couple of weeks and noticed something incredible.

Dairy products (cheese, milk, ice cream, etc.) trigger inflammation, and when we are inflamed, our body holds on to weight. Reduce inflammation, and your body will release excess weight. It’s amazing. As a bonus, I felt less bloated and gassy, my sinus congestion stopped, and I didn’t come down with my typical seasonal bout of bronchitis. Over time, my skin started to clear up and I rarely got pimples! Curious how you might feel without dairy? Cut it out for a few weeks and see what happens!

IMG_08415. I nixed whole wheat products and am gluten-free most of the time.  Gluten sensitivity and intolerance are linked to everything from frequent bloating and gas, acid reflux, and irritable bowel syndrome to joint pain, brain fog, fatigue, depression, anxiety, eczema, and acne. Gluten (the sticky protein found in wheat, barley and rye) can also trigger inflammation, and inflammation makes us hold on to weight. I don’t have celiac disease, but my body is sensitive to gluten. I started eating more brown rice, quinoa, millet and buckwheat – all non-glutinous grains. To learn more about how gluten might be affecting you and your weight, check out this brief quiz or video and article. Talk to your doctor to get tested for a gluten allergy or sensitivity if you suspect you might have one.

Amidst all of those changes over the past four years, the conclusion I’ve reached is this – the way I am eating is sustainable.

I’m not on a “diet.” I’m not counting calories. I don’t feel deprived.

I am eating real food, not too much, mostly plants, and my body is responding by maintaining a healthy weight.

What has worked for you to lose or maintain weight? What is your greatest challenge? Feel free to share!

How I Lost 20+ Pounds, Got Back to My High School Weight & Kept It Off

Four years ago, I was almost 25 pounds heavier than I am now.

IMG_2767I had gained weight post-college, as I was juggling two jobs, in the midst of my first dating relationship, and trying to figure out “who I was” outside of school.

Ask anyone, and they would have said I was “healthy.” To the outside observer, based on everything most of us have been brought up to believe about eating right, I was.

Each morning, I had a big bowl of oatmeal with a generous handful of raisins and a hefty spoonful of peanut butter. A few hours later, I had a snack of some sort, like a meal replacement or granola bar, a handful of almonds or Triscuits and cheese.

For lunch, I ended up eating pretty much the same thing every day – a turkey breast sandwich on a whole wheat sandwich thin with a small piece of provolone cheese, a smear of pesto, and a piece of lettuce. If I was feeling adventurous, I would throw on some sundried tomatoes. I usually finished off lunch with a creamy Greek yogurt and some fruit.

Dinner had the most variety but soon became routine – whole wheat pasta with veggies topped off with more than just a dusting of parmesan cheese, baked chicken with steamed veggies and brown rice, and occasionally breakfast for dinner, or a bowl of cereal if I wasn’t feeling particularly motivated.

Based on everything I had ever learned, I was doing the right things – eating whole wheat products, getting in enough dairy so I’d meet my body’s calcium needs, and avoiding fast food and fried food.

I thought I was eating healthy.

But why was I overweight? 

I had been the same weight for about eight years and didn’t think it was possible for my body to weigh less. I had just decided that I was “that size,” that it was because of “my bones,” and that I couldn’t change.

Though I was intentionally moving my body on a daily basis, the key to losing weight wasn’t about spending hours upon hours at the gym. I liked Zumba, running, walking and some group exercise classes like BodyPump, so it was easier for me to stick with them instead of doing exercises I “should” do but didn’t like (i.e., spinning).

Although important and necessary, exercise was only about 20% of the answer. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t out-exercise my diet.

In May 2010, I began to do things differently and noticed changes for the first time in a long time.

I used an online database to track everything I was eating and drinking for about 8 weeks. Using this system, I found out that my diet was deficient in a lot of nutrients and that I was eating more food than my body needed to reach my goal weight. I never thought of myself as overeating before, but I was. 

What and how much I was eating were the key factors driving my weight.

IMG_2794

Little by little, I made a series of changes, and I’ve never looked back. I have kept the weight off for almost 4 years, even in the midst of planning our wedding, finishing graduate school, and buying our first house.

This truly has been a “marathon” and not a sprint; I didn’t make these changes overnight. I continue to learn more each day and tweak things as I go. I have learned to listen to my body.

Here are the dietary changes I have made to get back to (and maintain) my high school weight:

1. I upgraded my diet by eating A LOT more vegetables. This was the single most important thing I did. Vegetables have more nutrients per calorie than any other food and are high in fiber and low in calories. They fill us up and nourish us. I started making vegetables the base of my lunch, choosing a salad over my traditional sandwich, and treating veggies more as an entrée than a side dish at dinner (roasted, sautéed, and in salads and soups). I ate more vegetables at every meal.

IMG_2676

2. I ate less food. For most of us, our body tells us it wants more food because the processed foods we are eating are lacking in nutrients…so we keep eating because our body thinks it will eventually get the nutrients it needs. As crazy as it sounds, we are overfed yet undernourished! Once I started eating more unprocessed, unpackaged, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and even beans (for the first time in my life!), I ended up eating less because I was finally giving my body the nutrients it craved.

3. I started “crowding out” processed food. Prior to losing weight, I was eating a lot of “healthy” processed food, like whole wheat bread, string cheese, Vitatops, granola bars, and Wheat Thins. Once I started to realize how few nutrients (and how many non-food ingredients and sugar) were in those foods, I started eating less of them and replacing them with whole foods (see #2 above).

4. I cut out dairy. I know, I know. Milk, cheese and ice cream are the holy trinity of deliciousness, and I am evil for even insinuating we can/should go without them. I grew up loving dairy products. I had mint chocolate chip ice cream cake every year for my birthday, yogurt every day for lunch, and some form of cheese at dinner. In the winter of 2012, I cut out dairy for a couple of weeks and noticed something incredible.

Dairy products (cheese, milk, ice cream, etc.) trigger inflammation, and when we are inflamed, our body holds on to weight. Reduce inflammation, and your body will release excess weight. It’s amazing. As a bonus, I felt less bloated and gassy, my sinus congestion stopped, and I didn’t come down with my typical seasonal bout of bronchitis. Over time, my skin started to clear up and I rarely got pimples! Curious how you might feel without dairy? Cut it out for a few weeks and see what happens!

IMG_08415. I nixed whole wheat products and am gluten-free most of the time.  Gluten sensitivity and intolerance are linked to everything from frequent bloating and gas, acid reflux, and irritable bowel syndrome to joint pain, brain fog, fatigue, depression, anxiety, eczema, and acne. Gluten (the sticky protein found in wheat, barley and rye) can also trigger inflammation, and inflammation makes us hold on to weight. I don’t have celiac disease, but my body is sensitive to gluten. I started eating more brown rice, quinoa, millet and buckwheat – all non-glutinous grains. To learn more about how gluten might be affecting you and your weight, check out this brief quiz or video and article. Talk to your doctor to get tested for a gluten allergy or sensitivity if you suspect you might have one.

Amidst all of those changes over the past four years, the conclusion I’ve reached is this – the way I am eating is sustainable.

I’m not on a “diet.” I’m not counting calories. I don’t feel deprived.

I am eating real food, not too much, mostly plants, and my body is responding by maintaining a healthy weight.

What has worked for you to lose or maintain weight? What is your greatest challenge? Feel free to share!

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