Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Paleo Lunch with Sweet Lemonade

Next up in the Paleo line-up of meals...Lunch. The salad can certainly be used for dinner, but makes an excellent lunch pairing with the lemonade recipe.

Chicken Waldorf Salad
Original recipe taken from one of my very favorite cookbooks, The Garden of Eating, by Rachel Albert and Don Matesz. 

I altered it slightly to make it work for me. Have fun with it and try one of the options, below, for a different flavor.

2 medium chicken breasts 
1 1/1 large tart-sweet apples: gala, braeburn, jonagold
1/2 cup finely minced sweet white onion
1/4 cup unsalted lightly toasted almonds, pecans or walnuts
2 celery stalks
1/4 cup raisins, optional
1 tsp dried dill or 1 tbsp fresh, minced dill
1/2 cup Vegenaise 
8-10 cups spinach or tossed salad greens

1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except salad and toss everything to coat evenly. Add more Vegenaise as needed.

2. Add greens and mix everything together.

3. Share with your friends...3 of them, to be exact, as this will serve 4 total.

For a richer taste, increase nuts to 1/2 cup. You can also replace the apples with 2 cups of halved, seedless red grapes.

This next recipe,  Sweet Herb Lemonade, is taken from Rachel's fantastic website, The Healthy Cooking Coach. I did the lemonade and the orangeade and enjoyed them both. Mine were slightly different than her recipe, which is below, as I made a larger portion for each and made them a bit sweeter. This is where you'll need to play around with them. Like she says, add a little stevia, taste, then add and taste as needed.

In case you're not familiar with stevia, it's a pretty simple and incredibly beneficial sugar replacement. For one thing, it's entirely natural, as long as you buy the true stevia and not the fake, chemically altered ones. What's that point of replacing any sweetener if you're just replacing it with another fake one, right? Right. The one she lists, Nu Naturals, is safe and gluten free. Another benefit is the amount you use, which is practically nothing. You can replace entire cups of sugar in recipes with just a teaspoon here and a tablespoon there of this because it's incredibly powerful, being 200-300 times sweeter than white sugar, thus the reason you only need a little. And a little is much better than a lot, in this case, anyway.

Sweet Herb Lemonade  

Prep: 10 minutes/ Yield: 1 quart + 1/3 to 1/2 cup

If you love––or once loved––lemonade but don’t want the sugar or artificial sweeteners found in conventional recipes and commercial products, try this. All the sweetness comes from the leaf of a South American herb that tastes 100 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. 

To avoid a bitter flavor, you need to measure carefully and use it in minuscule amounts. The biggest mistake people make is using too much. Brands may differ in flavor and concentration, so always start with less than you think you need, taste, and adjust in minuscule amounts as needed.

FYI: Look for pure stevia extract powder. For cooking, baking, and all of my recipes, I recommend against brands that contain fillers that dilute the stevia making it difficult to impossible to know how much to add, particularly in cookies, cakes, pies, pastries, frozen desserts, and sauces. Note: I avoid all stevia products that contain FOS, a pre-biotic that not only dilutes the herb but adds something to feed the friendly flora in your intestines. For many people FOS causes gas and bloating. See notes above for more on this!
Caveat: If you do use Nu Naturals stevia packets (these contain a filler to make the volume of the packet like that of a sugar packet), you will have to add, taste, add, and taste to get the right amount. You might need an entire envelope for each 1/2 to 1 quart of lemonade, depending on your tastes and sweetness preferences.
4 cups filtered water  (1 quart)
1/3 to 1/2 cup freshly juiced organic lemons, seeds removed (about 3 medium lemons)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract powder or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon clear stevia extract liquid (I like Nu Naturals stevia extract powder & liquids and Wisdom Naturals/Sweet Leaf stevia liquids)
  1. Combine water, lemon juice, lemon pulp, if desired, and stevia in a tall glass pitcher or quart jar. Whisk well. Taste and add additional stevia, 1/16th to 1/8th teaspoon at a time, if a sweeter taste is desired. If too lemony, dilute with additional water.
  2. Serve over ice if desired.  Cover and refrigerate. Use within 1 week. 

  • Sweet Herb Limeade: Replace lemons with the juice of fresh limes.
  • Sweet Herb Lemon & Gingerade: In the master recipe, add 2 tablespoons juice from finely grated, squeezed fresh gingerroot or bottled ginger juice, or, replace 2 cups of water with 2 cups of strongly brewed and cooled Ginger Tea. 
  • Sweet Herb Orangeade: In the master recipe, replace 1 cup cold water with 1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice, then reduce stevia by one-half. Taste and adjust as needed. 

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Mantra: I Will Be Thankful

A 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 will be thankful for what I have been given

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. "
- Thornton Wilder

Last Thursday I went and volunteered with my friend, Nichole, at the V.A. Hospital in Phoenix. I didn't know what I would be doing, but I knew that if it was something Nichole had signed me up for, it would be something wonderful. 

And it was. 

The event was easy. Almost too easy. All we had to do was play Bingo with the residents, get them cookies to munch on, and keep them company for a couple of hours. Just that, in exchange for all they had done, didn't seem like enough. To them, though, it meant the world.

I sat at a table with a gentleman named Bob. He thanked me, repeatedly, for taking time out of my busy day to spend with him. He was kind, polite, and cheerful. He smiled- a lot. He laughed- a lot. I dare say he was jovial, even!

Bob was confined to a wheelchair. In fact, he couldn't care for himself at all. This man - whose hands were so bent and mangled that he couldn't pick up his own Bingo chips, let alone feed himself the cookies he loved - was one of the happiest people I'd met in a very long time. All he had done, all he had given up, and there he was, thanking me for moving his Bingo chips for him. I couldn't quite believe it. It didn't seem fair. 

The Bingo caller, George, was the other resident who left an impression on me. While he was restricted to a wheelchair physically, his spirit was free. He was full of zest, life, and excitement. He was bursting with joy. The most remarkable thing to me about George was how happy he was about everything- getting to call the Bingo numbers, hanging out with his friends, eating the cookies one of the volunteers had brought in. George was a ball of happiness and, even more so, gratitude.

Every single chance George had, he thanked the girl who had brought the cookies. By "every single chance" I mean, after every number he called he would say, "I really want to thank the lady that brought the cookies!" or, "That lady was so nice to bring cookies. Thank you so much!", over and over and over. 


Cookies had made his day and he, and all his friends there, had done so much more. Yet, there they were, happy and thankful for every little thing. Every single cookie.

I learned an important lesson from Bob and George that day. How you view your life is truly and soley up to you. If you allow life's challenges and lessons to beat you down and ruin you, they will. If you choose to rise above them, to wake each morning being thankful for the life you've been given, you will. 

When you stop to think about it, there are a million little reasons to be thankful. Like cookies. There are a million big reasons, too. Like freedom. So be thankful for what you have, every little thing, every single person. Be thankful for the life you've got. It was meant to be yours. It was meant for you. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Monday Mantra: Three Wishes

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 will wish for happiness

When I was a Sophomore in high school, my English teacher asked the whole class what we would wish for, if granted three wishes. One boy said, "A sports car, a million dollars, and an 'A' in this class."

The teacher then asked him why he had chosen those three things. He replied, "The car is cool, therefore I would be cool, I could buy whatever I wanted, and my parents would be happy I passed this class." 

The teacher dived a little deeper and asked, "How would you feel about all of those things coming true for you?"

The boy though about it for a minute and said, "Well...the car would be amazing, and if I can have whatever I want, then life will be good. If my folks are happy, well, then I'm happy, so...I guess I'd be happy about getting my three wishes."

"Then why" the teacher asked, "didn't you wish for happiness? Then -  no matter what happened in your life, no matter what you had or didn't have, did or didn't do - you would always be happy."

That made the entire room stop. All the giggles, all the "I would wish for that and this" stopped. 

Why didn't we all wish for happiness? 

Before that moment in class, I had never thought about what emotions came with what I wanted out of life. I never thought past the object, the desire, the want. I never realized it was all about how I felt or how I wanted to feel. 

That all I really wanted was happiness all along.

Every child's story ends with everyone living happily ever after. Every single day we seek out the things that make us happy. We would never choose our friends, our clothes, or our hairstyles if they made us anything but that.

In the end, happiness is the silent wish behind the spoken one. 

I invite you to think of your life, and what you want from it, with this question in mind: Will this bring me to my true goal of happiness?

Today my wish is for each of you to be happy. My wish is for your happiness, now and always. 

 What are you wishing for and why?

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A Paleo Breakfast

I'm sure you've all heard of the term "Paleo" now, either by reading this blog or just because it's become a very popular lifestyle, for not only people who want/need to be gluten free, but for those that desire a healthier life.

Paleo, broken down to it's very simplest form, is a lifestyle diet of meat, vegetables, fruit, seeds and nuts, and healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil). What is not included are starches of any kind and sugar. This is a very clean, very food-based approach to eating. There are many variations of the Paleo lifestyle. Some are very strict as far as what types of meat, what type of fruit and veggies, can be consumed. Those generally tend to limit all sugars, even honey, in some cases.

Some incorporate more homestyle cooking into their approach, with gluten free ways to make things like quiche or nut flour based breads. Those tend to be more favorable as they allow a healthy, yet very diverse range to what can be eaten. I, personally, fall into the second category. I like options and I've found a lot of wonderful recipes that are incredibly good for you and delicious. Whatever the approach is, a Paleo lifestyle does promote better health by eliminating unhealthy and processed foods.

Now to the recipes!

This first one I basically discovered one day when I was starving and out of my normal vegetables that I use with my scrambled eggs. I had plenty of eggplant left over from making my eggplant recipe the night before, so I added it in and WOW. I am now a huge fan of eggplant and eggs, scrambled up together.

Scrambled Eggplant Eggs 
Two Servings

6 large eggs
1/3 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil, for cooking
1 cup of leftover Eggplant Goodness

1. Heat the oil in a pan at medium heat.
2. Whisk the eggs and black pepper together, until blended well.
3. Throw the eggplant into the pan and warm well. Add the eggs and scramble 'em up together.
4. Chow down.

Easy, right? So easy.

Because breakfast is my favorite meal of the day - or the night, or the whenever -  I have to throw this one in as well. Remember that time I made Paleo Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes and I couldn't give you a picture because of my limited flipping skills? Yeah, well, they're still limited, which is why I have no picture for the omelet, below. I'm sorry. I tried...I did.

Savory Omelet
Recipe taken from one of my very favorite cookbooks, The Garden of Eating, by Rachel Albert and Don Matesz.

Two Servings

6 large, free-range chicken eggs
2-3 teaspoons olive oil, for cooking
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Rinse eggs, crack, and add to a small bowl with the vanilla, honey, and cinnamon. Whisk until well blended.

2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottom 12-13 inch stainless steel or cast iron pan. Tilt pan to completely cover the bottom and sides. When hot, but not smoking, whisk eggs again, pour into pan, and cook undisturbed, for 30 seconds.

3. Use a fork or thin bladed spatula to push edges of the egg mixture toward the center of the pan as they set; tilt pan so uncooked portion runs into empty spaces. Repeat. Remove from heat when eggs no longer run but are still moist and glossy, usually 2-3 minutes total.

4. Divide the omelet in half and serve immediately.

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

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Mantra: Listen Up

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 will listen, really listen

"More than cleverness we need kindness."
- Charlie Chaplin

This week a friend of mine posted a very inspirational video to my Facebook page, with a challenge to find one as equally awesome or better. I'm not sure I passed the test, because his video was pretty darn amazing, but I have to thank my friend, Noah, for giving me the inspiration (and the quote) this week.

Every now and then I hear something that gets me. Something that sinks in deep and awakens a thought, a question, an idea. Every now and then something is said so eloquently that it simply can't be ignored.

That's what this video did.

This young girl wrote a speech that, as is it listed in YouTube, silenced the world for five minutes. She wrote with no fear, no caution, no carelessly placed words. Everything she said was said from the heart. Every word was perfectly selected and carefully thought out. Each sentence hit home a little harder and, as you will see, silenced an entire room of adults who thought they had the world figured out.

The message she brought to the table is one that all should listen to. It's one that literally begs to be heard and then equally begs for action, not just empty promises.

Take a moment today to think about the last time you really listened to what someone was saying. Think about what message they were trying to convey, not what you were trying to hear. There is a difference. Then take action on what they were trying to tell you. Follow up with them. Let them know you really and truly heard them. Let them know you care. Show them by listening. Then show them by acting.

One small shift, one person at a time, leads to the whole world taking a new direction. We can do it together, we have to.

We just need to listen.

What or who are you listening to? What will you do?

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Monday Mantra: Expect Nothing
I Wonder...

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday Mantra: Choose Your Hard

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: Choose your hard

The reason I'm running late with this post today is because I was having a hard time figuring out what to say to y'all.  Then I was given this video link (thank you, Brian!) and I knew. 

I once read an article about a woman who had lost 100 pounds by, basically, not giving up. She lived by this motto:

Losing weight is hard. Maintaining weight is hard. Being fat is hard. 
Choose your hard.

I believe that this thought process can be applied to most everything in life. 

For example, my whole life I've been told how happy I seem and friendly and that it's actually kind of overwhelming to people sometimes which, honestly, makes me openly bust out into laughter and therefore leads to those people being even more overwhelmed. These people wonder if I ever get sad or if I am ever not laughing or smiling. 

Well, yes, actually. Yes. 

I get sad. I don't laugh all the time. Believe it or not, I consider myself more of a pessimist than anything else. Being happy all the time isn't easy. It doesn't just happen. It takes work. I choose to be happy, regardless, because for me, it's harder to be sad. This is my hard, this is my choice. 

Arthur is the perfect example of choosing your hard. He had options: Give up. Don't try. Don't believe in yourself because it's impossible to change your circumstances. Or ignore all of that and try anyway. So he did. And WOW.

Of course I like this because it's about yoga. I'm not going to front and pretend like that didn't win me over, but I LOVE it because it's about believing in yourself. It's about overcoming what you have been given. It's about making a choice. Arthur chose his hard and look where he is today. Not going to lie, I teared up a bit! Maybe it was the Coldplay song in the back that went perfectly with the video, but mostly it was just Arthur and his amazing dedication. 

Life is often challenging. Life is often hard. At the end of each day, it's up to you to decide. 

Choose your hard. 

What choice will you make?

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