Sunday, February 26, 2012

Monday Mantra: Have Patience

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Have Patience

I beg have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer...

- Rainer Maria Rilke

I never think to live life in the question itself. To love it. To see where it leads me. I always want the answer. I want the who, where, what, when, and how. I just want to know. And normally, I want to know now

In the past, when I was in need of an answer and wasn't finding what I wanted, I would think back to something I once heard in the movie I, Robot. Will Smith plays the detective who is trying to solve the murder of Dr. Lanning, the inventor of the robots. The doctor leaves behind a hologram image of himself which is designed to assist in solving the mystery. For it to work, certain questions have to be asked. The detective doesn't figure this out for a while, but when he does the good doctor says, "That, detective, is the right question."

The right question. I can't tell you how many times I wondered what wrong questions I had been asking all along, but now- now I see it differently. All of it. There isn't necessarily one right question. There is a multitude of good questions, but without having lived the lesson you're meant to learn from them, you'll never get the key that unlocks the door. There is a wisdom that grows within you as you live through the doubts and the thoughts, and one day you'll wake up and realize you lived your way right to the point of it all. Straight to the answer.

I say this because it's happened to me. A lot, actually, and more so recently than ever before. I'll have all of these, "What if this?" and "Oh no that!" thoughts and then finally - weeks, months, years down the road - I know. Everything suddenly fits, like a giant puzzle that has finally and successfully been put together. It's always when I least expect it, when I've stopped trying to solve it, when all I've done is to live life. And that's the point of all of this- to live life, questions and all.

So I beg you, if you have anything unresolved in your heart, in your head, in you anywhere at all- have patience. There is an answer. It may not be time for you to find it right at this very moment. Now might be the time for you to learn the lesson, to grow as a person, to see exactly what you're made of, but...when the time is right you will become aware of everything you've searched out and sought after.

Find pleasure in the journey to the answer. Find peace in the wondering. Be content with every question that pops into your head and know that one day, at whatever moment you're meant to know the answer,  you will.

Believe it.

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Recipes: Paleo, Paleo, Paleo

Ladies and gentleman, I have some new recipes for you that I've been testing out. All Paleo, all Gluten Free, all pretty darn good.

First up from my current favorite cookbook, Ham and Egg Cups. As much as I love the quiche recipe, I was getting a little tired of it, so I gave this new one a try. I like it because, again, as with all recipes in this book, it's easy. The egg cups are convenient and last for the week so you can take them for breakfast in the morning. Nice and quick. One thing on the ham you should know- most processed meats contain nitrates. Nitrates are bad. You can buy sliced meat without them, but you have to go to a health food store like Whole Foods. Just something to keep in mind.

I decided to play around with this recipe a bit to see what I could come up with. I wanted the cups to be a bit bigger in size, so I bought a large 6 cup muffin pan and omitted the ham for bacon. I added more veggies and did two eggs per cup. I did not, however, sauté the veggies. In the original batch it almost seemed like the flavor was cooked out after everything was said and done, so I let the veggies bake with everything else. It worked out great because it's really like an entire meal all in one egg "muffin". Two eggs, two slices of bacon and veggies. Perfect. I had my mom taste test it and she gave her seal of approval. The original recipe is below followed by my variation on it.

Ham and Egg cups with
my banana smoothie = yumminess.
Ham and Egg Cups
Taken from Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie & Charles Mayfield

1/2 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped
12 large eggs
12 slices of ham

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Saute shallots and mushrooms in skillet with butter
3. Coat muffin pan with olive oil and place ham slices in cups. You may want to cut a sliver in each ham slice to allow it to fold over itself when placed in the round muffin cup.
4. Spoon out the sautéed mushroom/shallot mix into each cup.
5. Crack individual eggs into the ham cups.
6. Cook for 15-16 mins or until edge of ham is slightly crisp. (It took me about 20 mins to get the edges crisp)

Bacon, Egg and Veggie "Muffins"
1/2 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
1/4 cup chives, chopped
A few spinach leaves, per cup
12 large eggs
12 slices (nitrate free) bacon

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
2. Coat skillet and muffin pan with olive oil.
3. Cook bacon in skillet for about 5 mins, just to get it going a little bit. Dry off all fat and oil from bacon and layer, two pieces at a time, into each muffin cup, covering entire cup. 
4. Spoon in equal parts shallots, mushrooms, chives. Layer spinach leaves on top. 
5. Crack two eggs onto each cup.
6. Bake for 15 - 20 mins, or until bacon is crisping and eggs are fully cooked.

Variations: Mix up the veggies. Add bell pepper, kale, asparagus. Get creative and have fun!

On to the next one...

Remember how I tried out the Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes and the Easy Chicken BLT's from Eat Well, Feel Good: Practically Paleo Living by Diane Frampton? Well there was one more recipe I wanted to try. 

Da na na na na na...I give you: Thai Coconut Chicken. I switched this recipe up quite a bit from the original, which can be found here. The reason? I wanted to work with what I had in my kitchen and I was too hungry to be patient and go buy the rest of the ingredients. That being said, one day I'll probably try it the original way, but I really liked it this way. It had an Indian flavoring to it and I love me some Indian food. One thing I would suggest is that you could use more coconut milk to give it a richer taste and to have a little more left for the sauce. I didn't do that this time around, but after it was said and done I wished I had a little more left.

Thai Coconut Chicken, Carrot Souffle, and Veggie Salad
Thai Coconut Chicken

4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup Tamari
1 TBSP ginger
2 TBSP's coconut oil
1/2 TSP salt
1/2 TSP cardamom
1/2 TSP cumin
1/2 TSP black peppercorn chipotle

1. Combine coconut milk, tamari, ginger, cardamom, cumin, and black peppercorn chipotle in a Ziploc bag and shake well to mix.
2. Remove half the mixture from the bag to a bowl and set aside.
3. Place the chicken breast in a Ziploc bag and marinate for at least two hours.
4. Heat a medium sized skillet. Add coconut oil and sear the marinated chicken breasts for about 4 minutes per side.
5. Remove chicken from skillet. Place on a cutting board and cut into large-ish bite sized pieces.
6. Place reserved coconut milk mixture into the skillet. Add salt and simmer to a low boil.
7. Add chicken pieces back to the skillet and continue cooking on low until chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes. 
8. Eat.

Last, but not least, Carrot Souffle. In one of the many past lives I'm not sure I lived, I think I may have been a rabbit, due to the large amounts of carrots I consume. Therefore, I had to try this. Someone else I know actually tested this out before I had and in their review they thought that the soufflé had come out greasy and salty, so I altered it to adjust what they had encountered. 

Overall it was pretty good. Not necessarily my favorite, but that might be because it was so different. I would suggest giving it a try and seeing what you think.

Carrot Souffle
Taken from The Food Lovers Make it Paleo by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason

2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1 quart organic chicken stock
1/2 cup coconut oil (I used 1/3 cup)
2 TBSP's fresh lemon juice
3 eggs
1 TSP salt (I used 1/2 TSP)
1/4 TSP ground cinnamon
1 TBSP coconut flour
1 TBSP vanilla extract
2 TBSP's minced onion

1. In a large soup pot, boil carrots in chicken stock until soft, about 20 mins.
2. Preheat oven to bake at 350 degrees.
3. Drain carrots from chicken stock and place in a food processor or blender.
4. Puree carrots until smooth.
5. Add coconut oil, lemon juice, eggs, salt, cinnamon, coconut flour, and vanilla to food processor/blender and continue to blend until smooth.
6. Add minced onion and blend again just enough to evenly distribute onions.
7. Pour into a 2 quart souffle dish, lightly greased with coconut oil.
8. Bake uncovered for 45-60 mins. Souffle should be firm to touch before eating.
9. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.

Enjoy folks. Let me know what you think!

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Mantra: Lose Sight of the Shore

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Lose sight of the shore
Kauai, Hawaii
Photo Credit: Melia Metikos

"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore." - Andre Gide
At the beginning of the year I wrote down two things I wanted to focus on: To be brave and to be adventurous.

I had various ways I was going to accomplish these things. Like working on old friendships and making new ones. Or going new places, like the Body Art Expo, where you can not only get every orifice of your body pierced, but tattooed as well. And you can get a shirt saying you did all of that at "The World's Largest Tattoo Expo - 2012!" It was fascinating, to say the least.

I believe adventures can come in all shapes and sizes. They can be something small, like going out for a walk and taking a different direction. Or something big, like going somewhere you've never been before, miles and miles away from the familiar.

I think bravery is the same. Courage shows up in all different aspects of life; Being honest, with yourself and others. Standing behind your word. Doing the right thing.

For some things to happen the brave piece has to come into play before the adventurous one can. Like when I went to India. Alone. Or when I decided to try paintball again, even though I was pretty sure I hated it. And yeah, I still don't enjoy paying to have someone shoot me. I have to give that ten year old kid some credit, though. He had amazing skills.

I think one of the main parts to living life is simply that- to live it. Fully. To not quarantine yourself to only what you know. It's the ability to find adventure in everyday things and yet still challenge yourself to go beyond those into the new, the unknown, the big and the small. It's confronting your fears head on and continuing until there is nothing left to confront. Which in my case might take a while, since I am never, not ever hanging out with a pack of wolves in Alaska. Liam Neeson is on his own.

I feel like I have a new lease on life and I intend to make the most of it. Which means I have a lot of shores I need to go out and discover. I made myself a list of ideas to help me accomplish this. Next up is another trip by myself, somewhere far away. And did I mention my upcoming lessons at the shooting range? Be afraid...of my coordination, more than anything else.

Make your own list. It's whatever you want it to be, so don't hold back. Then go forth and lose sight of your shore. 

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

CeraAHH!mics Update

Photo Credit:
Things in the land of pottery making have taken a turn for the worst. Right now my pact with Abby is the only thing keeping me in class. My bucket list clearly states "Take a pottery class." A, as in one, not a semester's worth. I believe I have fulfilled the requirements, thank you very much.

Last week I learned how to glaze. Again I was fooled by the seemingly easy, piece-of-cake demonstration that the teacher put on: Take pottery, dip into glaze, let dry, done.

Pffft! Easy? I think not!

You have to use industrial sized mixing equipment to stir the glaze up. By "you" I mean me, the student, has to mix it up. Why, I ask, do we have a teacher's aid? I'm just saying. For one thing, the mixing spoon thing is as tall as me. For another, I sort of, possibly, might have overpowered an innocent water bucket with it, causing a huge sound explosion while the teacher was giving a presentation. Maybe.

I also might have given up after I glazed my hand instead of a "mug" and decided to paint the glaze on. I'm sure that's illegal, but don't tell. It will be our little secret.

Glazing: It's hella hard, y'all. Hella hard. Poor Mustache Man. I have no idea what the final product will look like, but I'm scared for him.

This week things got even more awful. I had made one really, truly beautiful vase. Even the teacher was in awe of it, and that doesn't happen much. But, when I went into class on Thursday, I discovered that it had broken. My little pottery making heart is filled with sadness. On top of that, I messed up my wrist. For the third time. Which, by the way, I feel pretty stupid about, considering how I just said how strong it had gotten. Sheesh. In my defense, I didn't see this one coming. I would like to say that I got in a Ninja fight, but actually, I was attacked by a hoe. And by "attacked" I mean that I tried to do yard work and it backfired on me. And by "backfired" I mean that I may have gotten a little crazy with the hoe and things may have gotten out of hand and my hand may have gotten in the way. Maybe.

 Hoes: Can't live with them, can't live without them.

Anyway...obviously to make pottery you need hands and wrists and strength to put behind them. I can't even brush my hair like a normal person or pump soap from a dispenser right now, let alone knead that darn clay seventeen thousand and one times. I can type and hold things and even still do some yoga poses, but when I try and put pressure on it and simultaneously turn it- pain. Just pain. The good ole' essential oils aren't working this time either, which tells me the hoe won this fight.

I attempted one-handed kneading, which took me an hour and resulted in a square shaped thingamajig. I tried to center the square and make it into a bowl, however, the clay came flying off the wheel and almost hit my friends in the face. Guess that won't work. At some point I loudly let out the sound of a wounded animal without even realizing it, causing stares and laughter aimed in my direction. At least I'm entertaining everyone.

So...since I was officially a project behind with the broken vase, and since I now have to make four bowls, I may or may not have bribed my teacher into kneading, centering, and starting the bowl for me, with the promise of me baking that chocolate chip brownie dessert and bringing it to class next week. He may or may not have taken pity on me and actually agreed to that. I can neither confirm nor deny any of this.

Three bowls to go. I really need to start thinking about who else I can bribe with food. That, or I need to hire an assistant just to pass class. It's going to be a long semester.

On top of all of this, I recently decided to be a brunette again, which has nothing to do with pottery except for the fact that all of these tragic things happened in the same day. By "tragic" I mean the highlights the salon put in really didn't want to leave the first time I dyed my hair, which resulted in me somewhat resembling an oompa loompa, orangish wise. By "orangish" I mean it may have looked like my head was on fire, a little bit. The second bottle of dye did the trick, mostly. I am now a brownish-redish on top, and brownish-blackish on bottom, brunette. I could probably get into a motorcycle gang pretty easily. I'm going to pretend like I planned that.

I'm glad this week is over.

Anyone interested in going to school with me to do all of my work and not actually get a grade for it? Anyone? Bueller? 

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Monday Mantra: I Love You

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: I Love You

Every year at this time I can't help but think of my friend, Ben. I can't help but miss him and wonder what he would be like now as an adult. What he would look like, where life would have taken him, if he would be one step closer to his porch with the rocking chair and the view. I can't help but think about him because that's the only option I have. I can't talk to him, visit him, call him on the phone. I can only remember him, and remember him I will.

The world has been an emptier place since he died. There is a hole that will never be filled because no one will ever be Ben. He was one-of-a-kind and the magic of who he was went with him when he left.

I posted this a year ago, but I wanted to bring it back one more time. This week holds the big day when we buy chocolate and flowers and say "I love you" to all of our significant others. I suggest we say that to everyone we love. Every day, all the time. Don't wait for a holiday to let the people in your life know that you care about them. Tell them now. Tell them often.

To all of the wonderful people in my life: I love you. I am blessed to have you and am thankful for you every single day. I may not have a chance to talk to you all the time or spend as much time with you as I would like, but you are always in my heart. You are always with me.

I'll be by to see you soon, Ben. I miss you. I love you.

I Remember You

"Friends are the family you choose for yourself." - Sicilian Proverb

When I was 16 I got my first job as a Subway Sandwich Artist. Subway taught me more than just how to make an excellent sandwich. It taught me about life, learning to understand all different kinds of people, and how very important friendships are. There I made new friends, learned important life lessons, and met a boy named Ben.

The first time I met him was when I was taking my friend, Jen, over to someone's house. When we arrived, there on the living room floor, passed out face down, was a guy in all black. I looked over at Jen and asked her who the scary guy on the floor was. In his defense, he was taking a nap, but I was kind of sheltered back then and had never met anyone while they were so very seriously passed out napping and also all clothed in black, so scary was my term.

The next day at work this familiar, somewhat goth looking guy walked in. He looked at me, smiled and said, "Hi, Scary Girl."  That was the moment our friendship started along with our new nicknames and over the next three years I got to know the real Ben.

The real Ben would wait for me to get off of work or come and spend the afternoon at the store so I would have some company. The real Ben would tell me jokes and make me laugh. The real Ben always had a smile that would light up the darkest moments. I came to know that the real Ben wasn't just some guy in black, but an amazing, brilliant, kind and loving guy who would leave an impact on me forever.

I remember being at Jen's house one night and seeing him dressed, unexpectedly, in white jeans and a plaid shirt. A first and last where I would see him not in his traditional black clothes. I also remember finding out that one of his favorite artists was Tim McGraw, another shocker since normally he would blast Korn out of my SUV while waiting for me to get off work.

There were the funny moments, like the times he would go jogging with me and Jen when I went through this "I love running" phase. There we would be - me, Jen with the baby in his stroller, and Ben in his black clothes and chains - jogging down the streets. Neither one of them loved running, but they did it for me and it's only now that I truly understand how kind and wonderful they were. Especially Ben. He was always up for anything I wanted to do. One time it was just him and I and some friend of his (also in non-jogging, black, chain hanging clothes) who went for a run and while on this run discovered a tarantula, with which the two of them chased me down the road. I laugh now. I screamed then. But those are great memories - precious memories. Regardless of the day or weather, whenever I wanted to go for a run I could always count on Ben to be there with me. I could count on Ben for a lot of things, actually.

There were the serious moments, like when he had just gotten a new car and we went for a drive to the park. We sat on a bench and he told me what he wanted to do with his life. How one day he wanted a house with a porch and a rocking chair, where he could look out at his grandkids playing in the yard. That same night he followed me home to make sure I made it there safe and sound and in doing so, he cut my mom off in traffic. This did not go over well until I fully explained his intentions to her. From then on she loved him. She still does.

There were also the sweet times, like when I was going to visit one of my best friends in Wisconsin and I was terrified since I had never flown before. The day before I left he brought me flowers and gave me one of his amazing pick-me-up-and-spin-me-around hugs, the likes of which to this day have not been topped.

Then there's the memory of our birthdays when we both turned 17. Mine was two weeks before his and he surprised me with several CD's of my favorite rapper, Eminem. Two weeks later I gave him his gift- a black (of course) Eminem shirt that simply said "Remember Me" on the back. I had debated and debated and debated over getting that shirt for him. I almost didn't, but at the last moment I decided he would love it. It's funny how that moment, so small and insignificant at the time, would later mean so much more.

There's also a memory I can't quite grasp, can't fully remember. I'm pretty sure I've just blocked it out, and that may be for the best, but it still haunts me that I can't remember everything about it. One night we got in a fight in a parking lot over something someone said and I laughed at, when I'm pretty sure I should have done anything but laugh at that moment. You see, when I get nervous I laugh. When I don't know what to say, I laugh. When I have no idea what's going on, I laugh. I am Anthony from Designing Women.

Maybe the fight is even worse than what I do remember, maybe it's not. I can't be certain. At some point we made up, but we were never as close as we had been before. Then again, it had only been a short amount of time that had passed. I guess I always thought we had more of that thing- time. Time to get over it. Time to sort it out. Time for us to get back to being Scary Guy and Scary Girl. Plenty of time for this small blip in our wonderful friendship to pass. Still, I have always felt bad about that moment and if I had the chance to go back in time and change it, I would. Or I would at least have apologized for it better. You see, on February 15th, 2002, Ben died.

I still don't quite know the whole entire situation, whether it was ruled to be murder or not, but that's mostly my fault. I couldn't believe it. I still can't sometimes.Things like that shouldn't happen to people like Ben. People like Ben are meant to live long, wonderful, happy lives. I couldn't even go to the funeral back then. I have dealt with a lot of death in my life but losing someone so young was unbearable. Knowing on top of that, that everything happened only a few houses down from my grandparents, where I most likely was that night, also makes it hard.

If only I had known, if only I had helped somehow. If only, if only...those are always the thoughts that we, who are left behind, plague ourselves with. 

After the funeral Jen took me to his mom's house. She was having a horrible time, understandably. I had met his dad and picked Ben up from his house before, but never met his mom or been inside his home, so I was a little nervous. It was beautiful, as was his red-headed mom who laughed when she saw me and told me she had heard a lot of stories about me. She said Ben had particularly loved my red hair when I'd returned from Wisconsin with it's wild color. I guess maybe I looked a little like her for that small amount of time, and that's a nice thought.

His mom took us upstairs to see his room and on the way up I spotted something I was not expecting. There, framed and hanging on the wall, was his Eminem t-shirt. I gasped and went over to it. His mom came over to me and told me that when she was digging through his closet for funeral clothes she saw it and at that moment she knew what they would put on his tombstone. She didn't know I had given it to him and started crying when I told her about our birthday gift exchange years earlier. She hugged me and told me he loved that shirt, that it was his favorite, and that he wore it all the time.

That one moment killed me and healed me all at the same time. I've always felt bad that I never went to the funeral, never said my goodbyes. On the day of the funeral Jen came to my new job and tried to get me to go, but aside from not wanting to believe the truth, somehow I felt like I didn't deserve to be there. That three years wasn't enough time for a friendship that good, so I didn't go. I felt like maybe I had made it all up, all of it. Thank goodness Jen later made me go to see his mom and thank goodness to this day she's there to reminisce with me. Thank goodness for Jen.

While at his house his mom took us into his bedroom which was my last discovery of the real Ben: a greenish room with fishing wallpaper everywhere. No black, no anything like I imagined, which I really should have expected since he always did surprise me like that. Later, Jen and I went to his grave site and sure enough, on the tombstone was his name with the words "Remember Me".

Him not being here still gets to me. I recall specifically five years after he had died when I had this moment where I had decided he could not be dead. He just couldn't. What if he was just in the witness protection program? That was fine, but being permanently removed from my life forever was not an option. I had the scenario all worked out in my head...

I would somehow bump into him at an airport, unplanned, accidentally, and we would recognize each other. I would start to say his name and he would show me his hands to prove to me it really was him, since he had unique pinkies that were bent just slightly. This would be how I knew, how I knew he was OK. How I knew he was still here.That, of course, could never happen.

To this day when I go home I wave at his old house as I pass it by on the highway and when I can, I go visit him at the cemetery. It makes me feel better knowing he's buried there with my dad and grampa, like he has a little family with him, even if it's just mine.

Ben taught me many things over the three short years that I knew him, but most importantly he taught me two things that I will never let go of.

One day I had asked him why he wore black all the time. He told me it was so that people would make an effort to get to know the real him and not just judge him by what he wore, what he looked like. That was the first lesson. Thanks to Ben, to this day I make it a point to  get to know anyone who dresses or looks differently. As true as it was with him, no one proves to be what they appear.

The second lesson, really the most significant one,  was to always make sure your friends know how important they are to you. The saying, "You never know what you have until it's gone" is true. I had this amazing, wonderful, kind person who will never be replaced. There will never be another Scary Guy. There will never be another Ben.

So, to all of my friends, I want you to know this: You are important to me. I will never fully be able to explain just how important you are. Each and every one of you are wonderful, amazing, talented and unique. There is no one else like you and you cannot be replaced. I am better for knowing you and you have helped make me a better person. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for everything. I love you.

Update---> Sorry guys, this is the final version. The old one is what was accidentally posted. My bad or Blogger's bad, really. Or mine. Anyway, I wanted to add some more to the story to really let you see Ben and who he was. There are some edits on the online version vs. what you were emailed.

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Honey Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas

I don't know about y'all, but in my opinion hummus is kind of awesome. So, when my friend sent this to me I had to give it a go. I mean really, if the chickpeas can be that good all mixed up, they have to be good with honey and cinnamon. 

And yes. They were.

In the original recipe, which can be found here, it calls for granulated sugar, but I left that option out because the honey is a good enough (and more healthy) sweetener. I also did this the hard way and cooked the chickpeas, mainly because I didn't read that part about buying them already cooked. I assume it is a million times easier to buy them canned. That being said, my friend tried it with the canned chickpeas and she thought they came out weird-ish, while she thought mine came out good, so keep that in mind.

These are great for snacking on, for kids, for a pick me up after a hard work out at the gym, or if you're just plain hungry.

Honey Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas
2 (15 ounce) Cans - Chickpeas or 4 cups cooked chickpeas
2 TSP - Ground Cinnamon
1/4 TSP - Nutmeg
4 TSP - Olive Oil
4 TBSP - Honey (2 for baking, 2 for after they're baked)

If you are going to cook your own chickpeas, keep reading. If not, skip to step 8.

1. Soak them in water for 12 hours. 
2. Drain and transfer them to a cooking pot.
3. Cover them with two times the amount of water and bring to a boil.
4. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
5. Test them to make sure they are soft, then drain the pot.
6. The shells will be coming off, so put them in a towel and roll them around in there to loosen the shells and then rinse one more time.
7. Let them sit out and dry for a bit.
8. Preheat over to 375 degrees.
9. In a medium sized bowl mix together the oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 2 TBSP of honey. Add chickpeas and toss until coated evenly with mixture. Spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet.
10. Roast them for 35-40 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. The chickpeas should be crunchy and no longer soft when done. 
11. Put them in a bowl with the 2 remaining TBSP of honey and coat them evenly. Lay them back out on the baking sheet to cool and dry. 
12. Eat and share with your friends. Sharing is good. 
These can be kept in an airtight container at room temp.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Monsanto: News You Need to Know About

Monsanto is back at it again. Technically they never stopped being ruthless and horrible, but there's been a ton of media around them lately because apparently it's gotten worse.

Which is, of course, why I'm informing all of you.

Let's start with this picture. I don't know how current or not it is, but I do know that this is exactly what they do all the time to pass their horrible and unsafe food practices. One person works at Monsanto and initiates a new product or proposal. Then they go work for the government in a role where they can approve their own proposal! That right there, ladies and gentleman, is what we call someone being The Judge, Jury, and Executioner. It's completely unfair and, might I add, morally and ethically wrong. Clearly they don't have morals or ethics. Anyway, they do this often and sometimes the other way around, but regardless, they do it because it gets the job done. For them. How awful is that?

Now get this...The USDA (which is supposed to protect us from bad food) has forced Whole Foods, one of the super healthy grocery chains, to accept Monsanto's practices. This is not good news. Read the whole thing here.

And one of my friends posted this link on Facebook, so you might as well check it out because honestly, I wouldn't put it past them. It sounds a little crazy, but let's think about it for a second. They currently could care less about giving us contaminated un-real food. They've already messed with Mother Nature, so why not ruins the bees, which we need in order to pollinate our food, so that they then control everything? I feel like this is a real life Umbrella Corporation kind of situation. I just hope we get an Alice out of it, now rather than later.

What can you do? Go HERE. This link takes you to a site where you can tell President Obama to cease ties with Monsanto.  Also, buy organic foods as much as you possibly can. I know they're expensive, but they're real. And it seems like the only way to get through Monsanto is to hit them where it counts; their pocket books. The less money we give them, the better.

Also, like I said before, if you never hear from me again it's because they killed me or silenced me or something horrible and terrible. If there is no Monday Mantra next Monday, please file a missing person report. I'm just saying...

What do you think about all of this?

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Monday Mantra: Breathe In, Breathe Out

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: "Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out."  - Thick Nhat Hanh 
When you own your own breath, nobody can steal
your peace.  - Unknown

This week has been crazy busy. The kind of busy where I can't even contemplate how I ended up getting so busy or even develop a strategic plan around how to handle my crazy schedule for one week, let alone one day. It seems like a lot of people are in this same boat with me lately. That being said, I'm keeping this post simple. 

In moments like this I find that reminding myself to breathe is always the best remedy for pretty much everything. 

And there will be moments like this. There will be days or weeks where our schedules become incredibly time challenged and that's OK. That's life. That means we're still alive, still going, still waking up and living this crazy thing called life.

Remember - without your breath you wouldn't be able to do anything. Not one single thing. So when you feel like you can't do one more thing without going completely mad, come back to the basics. Come back to your breath. You don't have to set aside special time on your already busy schedule to breathe. You just do. You do every moment of every day without even thinking about it. Now is the time to think about it.

Close your eyes and give yourself five minutes of breathing time. Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out. Focus on your belly. With each inhale it should rise. With each exhale it should fall. This is natural breath. Do this and you'll find that you feel more calm, more ready for the next challenge, more alive with each moment. 

Repeat as necessary.

If you have more than five minutes, read this meditation and focus on it.

Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.
Breathing in, I see myself as a flower.
Breathing out, I feel fresh.
Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain
Breathing out, I feel solid.
Breathing in, I feel myself as still water.
Breathing out, I reflect things as they are.
Breathing in, I see myself as space.
Breathing out, I feel free.
Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.
As my in-breath grows deep,
My out breath grows slow.
Breathing in makes me calm.
Breathing out brings me ease.
With the in-breath, I smile,
With the out-breath I release.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.
Feelings come and go, like clouds in a windy sky
Conscious breathing is my anchor.

Taken from

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Eat Well, Feel Good: Practically Paleo Living Review and Recipes

I had been looking into some new cookbooks, but was having a heck of a time deciding whether or not to buy them because...are you ready...there were no pictures in them. Yes, I am like a five year old who needs pictures in her cookbooks. It helps me know what the food will look like.

Instead of buying them and never using them, which is what I do without some kind of a visual aid, I found the website for Diane Frampton, who wrote Eat Well, Feel Good: Practically Paleo Living, and I tried some recipes. Honestly, not bad at all. Here are the two I've tested out.

First on the list, Paleo Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes. Just try saying that five times fast! No really, try. It's not easy.

This one was good, however, I have come to discover that I am a horrible pancake flipper. Therefore, I do not have a picture for you because, well, I am a horrible pancake flipper. I tried two batches and they didn't really look like pancakes by the time I was done. Instead I give you this photo from a coloring book. Look how lovely and pancake like it is. If any one of you are amazing pancake flippers and want to send me your picture, I will post it on here, but...I give up.

That being said, they're very good. You usually only get pumpkin flavors around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but these keep the spirit alive- for breakfast, at least. Plus, they're gluten free, all natural, and simple to make. Gotta love that. I put some sliced banana on top of mine and it was extra amazing. I also tried one batch without the pecans, which I do not recommend. The pecans really give it a little something-something.

Photo Credit:
Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes
1/2 cup pumpkin canned puree (not the pie filling kind)
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 eggs
2 TBSP honey
1 TBSP vanilla
1 TSP cinnamon
1/4 TSP ground nutmeg
My Optional Variation: 1/2 sliced banana

1. Preheat a  nonstick skillet on medium high heat.
2. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
3. Pour small round pancakes into skillet. (Small is key here. Just trust me.)
4. Let them cook for 2-3 minutes. Pancakes will start to bubble and cook on the edges when they're ready to flip. Flip and cook another minute or two.
5. Add bananas, if you so desire, and syrup. Eat.

Next up I tried Easy Chicken BLT's and look- I have a picture for you! Yay.

OK, these were gooooood. Also, easy to make. Instead of the mayo I used Vegenaise as it is a much healthier option. Up to you, of course. These are a great lunch or dinner meal. I even had one for breakfast, just because I can.

Add a romaine leaf on top and call
it a day.
Easy Chicken BLT's
Chicken from a rotisserie chicken or leftovers (I used a roasted chicken breast)
1 pound bacon
2 romaine hearts with leaves separated
2 tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup organic mayo (I used vegenaise and made it as a 1/4 cup serving instead. It was plenty.)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from one lime

1. Cook bacon in skillet. Place cooked bacon on paper towels to drain excess fat. Set aside.
2. Mix mayo (or vegenaise) with cilantro and lime juice. Set aside.
3. Clean chicken meat off of rotisserie bird or break up left over chicken into pieces.
4. Layer each romaine lettuce leaf with a teaspoon or more of the cilantro lime mayo, a piece of bacon, some tomato, and some chicken.
5. Add the other leaf on top and chow down.

Up next to try is the Thai Coconut Chicken. I'll let you know how that turns out.

Happy Eating!

P.S. I also updated the Sunflower Seed Pate and Nori Wrap recipe with photos because, like I said, pictures make everything better. And because I finally made them again.

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