Friday, March 27, 2015

RASPBERRY-ORANGE CHOCOLATE PUDDING

Today I thought I would balance my last post with something delicious in a much less virtuous, "my brain hasn't disintegrated into kale and weird green stuff" way.

I've been writing a lot about balance and finding the happy medium between many extremes: in health, time, family, parenting, mind talk, body talk, soul talk and the multitude of other areas in each of our lives where it can seem we walk a tight rope. There is so much noise about diets, parenting styles, yoga and meditation styles, exercise, supplements, vaccines, religious beliefs, political stances and a number of controversial issues we are faced with today. In fact, it's almost impossible to scroll through Facebook or click on a news website without seeing something that ignites anxiety, fear, a sense of shame or failure, and anger.

Years ago I decided to stop watching the news on a regular basis. Sure, I was being educated on the happenings of the world but at the same time I was being influenced by a station's take on a certain situation and it was almost always pumped up with verbiage and adrenaline in an effort to increase my attention span and emotional reaction. Unfortunately, it's an effective technique. I was confused by conflicting stories and increasingly frustrated with the amount of fear I was being traumatized by. So I turned it off. And I really never looked back.

About a year ago, I realized the health world was quickly having the same effect on my mental and physical health. I had turned down the noise of one voice only to allow another to take over. Instead of worrying about national safety, global warming, and the local crime, I had taken to wringing my hands over supplementation, vaccines, and signs of disease.

Now, a little older and a teensy bit wiser, I'm learning to turn this off too. But this time I'm filling the quiet with things that my soul and open my heart. I listen to music that speaks of joy and beauty and healing. I read books that do the same. I meditate. I play outside. I giggle with my girls. I worry much less about being a good parent and have faith that I am. I trust the people in my life to hold me accountable to the things they know I value and am trying to do less of that myself. I'm working at walking away from judgement of myself and others and walking towards compassion.

And I eat this pudding. Not all the time but as a delicious and special reminder that life, a good and beautiful and balanced life, holds a little of everything: discipline and spontaneity, a bit of fear and a lot of joy, blessing in many forms, laughter and grief, health and indulgence, questions and faith, confusion and understanding, humanness and holy. Without one we truly can't enjoy or learn from the other.

The amazing thing is, and the blessing in it all, all of these can be teachers, guiding us towards wisdom and grace.

[BREATHING BEFORE EATING]

A quick note about breathing before I get to the recipe.

One of the practices I've come to fully embrace is breathing before a meal. I used to rush through a prayer, usually as a quick "check it off the list, let's eat!" routine. Then I sat around our friends' table, friends whom I respect and trust, and had an honest conversation about praying before meals and why we do it. They were in the process of working through a faith established for them as children, questioning what they had been spoon-fed for years. So far they've landed on holding faith and questions in an open palm and tapping forks or spoons in gratitude for the meal. I loved it. And I began to ask questions too.

Then recently, a friend I've been seeing for energy and bodywork mentioned they breathe as a family before their meals in an effort to center their minds and prepare their bodies for the food they're about to eat. I loved this as well.

Here's the thing about being vulnerable about the questions we ask - it gives others the freedom to do so as well and put a name to the doubts we hold.

And so we've moved our mealtime routine in a direction that finds us where we are. We're working at remembering to take three deep, intentional breaths before our meals as a way of acknowledging our food and breath and everything around us as a holy gift. We're teaching our girls to honor our bodies with the food we eat by eating as if we mean to eat. As if it's worth paying attention to. As if each meal is special. And sometimes with words, mostly with our breath, we say thank you - thank you to the one who created us, thank you for each person around the table, thank you for our food, thank you for this breath.

[THE RECIPE]

5 oz. dark chocolate chips
5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. frozen raspberries [or berry / fruit of choice]
1 13.5-ounce can regular coconut milk
1/2 c. coconut butter
1/2 - 3/4 c. honey
1/2 - 1 tsp. orange flavor [or flavor of choice]
1/2 tsp. sea salt
appx. 7 - 8 small, 4-ounce glass jars with tight fitting lids

Optional additions: chopped walnuts, sliced almonds, toasted coconut, splash of Amaretto or almond extract.

Place raspberries in a medium size saucepan and warm over medium-low heat until very soft [appx. 10 minutes], stirring occasionally. Pour the soft rasberries through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl. Using a wooden or metal spoon, gently press the raspberries into the strainer to extract as much as the juice as possible from the seeds. Compost or discard the seeds.

If seeds remain in the pan, rinse out the pan used to heat the raspberries. Return the strained raspberries to the pot and add remaining ingredients.

Warm over medium-low heat until all of the ingredients are melted and the consistency is very smooth. Remove from heat and pour into small glass jars. Secure lids tightly onto the jars and place in the refrigerator for 2 - 4 hours or freezer for 1 - 2 hours or until the consistency is just firm.

Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.











Wednesday, March 25, 2015

GREEN MILK WITH MORINGA

A really close friend of mine has recently entered into my [not so normal] health world. The other day I was sitting with her and another close friend of ours talking about increasing potassium - you know, like you do. We practically pummeled her with ideas ranging from molasses to coconut sugar to chlorophyll. Now the weak of heart would bail upon hearing chlorophyll but my friend gave it a go after we assured her it really wasn't so bad.

The next time I saw her she looked me straight in the eye and asked what the hell I had just told her to drink.

Ummmmm.

Lucky for me she's both forgiving and has a fantastic sense of humor. Our friendship remains in tact.

However, it did cause me to pause for a second and consider the words that so easily fly out of my mouth.

Chlorophyll - it tastes great!

Molasses in hot water - sure, you'll begin to crave it!

Beet sauerkraut - I eat it all the time!

Apple cider vinegar in water - first thing in the morning, baby!

I now see sentences like these are just not normal. It's taken me years to detox my body of the many artificial flavors and ingredients so beautifully disguised as food and rewrite what I consider delicious. And let me tell you, I didn't start with chorophyll or molasses or a good number of things now kept as staples in my pantry and fridge.

My point? It's a journey. A long one and it's so easy to forget how long when these things finally click from crazy and weird and flat out disgusting to normal, even tasty.

The most important thing is to just stick with it. Maybe it's adding more local, organic veggies to your diet. Maybe it's a piece of fruit in place of candy. Maybe it's taking a shot of chlorophyll and cursing my name for the next couple days. Whatever it is, stick with it and keep going because it will get better. Maybe not tomorrow or next week or even next year but at some point something will click deep within you and crazy might just seem, well, normal.

[A MOMENT FOR MORINGA]

I thought, while we're on the topic of not-so-normal, I'd give a shout out to the Moringa Tree. I was introduced to moringa a while ago by some friends of mine who support ECHO, a truly amazing non-profit farm based in Florida. More recently, I came across moringa while researching another non-profit and just a bit ago stumbled across the powder in my local health foods store. So, here we are.

Moringa has long been dubbed "the miracle tree". My tendency is to take claims like this as slick advertising and immediately revert to skeptic mode, sure I'm being duped.

But.

But then I read that this particular tree, and all it's parts, is being used to resolve a host of issues in undeveloped countries crippled by disease, malnutrition, economic instability, and environmental degradation. And it's also packed with a loaded punch of nutrition [potassium, protein, vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc] while boasting all the essential amino acids necessary to call it a complete protein. And it's safe for general use. Seriously?! 

I've run out of reasons not to add it to my repertoire of weird, amazingly good for me, will take some getting used to, foods.

You can read more about moringa here and here, and I really, really hope you do.

So, a drink. Moringa has a sort of earthy, grassy taste. I've chosen to make this a simple, no-fuss green milk I can easily whip up at any point in the day. However, if this health-stuff is new to you [and your taste buds], add a bit of cacao or cocoa, an avocado or frozen banana for thickness, some fruit, or a little ice to make this "medicine" go down a little smoother.

[THE RECIPE]

2 c. nut or seed or milk of choice
2 tsp. morning leaf powder [you can find here or here or check out your local health foods store]
2 - 3 tsp. pure maple syrup
pinch of sea salt
small pinch of raw stevia leaf powder [optional]

Place all ingredients in blender and blend on high for thirty seconds or until combined. Serve immediately as is or over ice. A note about ice: I tend to not use ice as it can reduce digestion and cool the body too much however, sometimes it can make drinks more palatable.
 


Friday, March 20, 2015

SPRING FIRST LAYERED JELL-O GUMMIES

Happy Spring First!

What, might you ask, is Spring First?

Well, it's the first day of spring of course! And the perfect day to celebrate.

In our home, my girls look for any and every reason to have a party, maybe receive some presents, and celebrate all day long. We make a big deal of absolutely every holiday and throw in a couple made up ones as well.

Today is such day. After giving a nod to Franklin the Turtle [from whom we were inspired], we got right down to the business of par-ttt-yyyy-ing!

Waffles? Check. Potatoes? Check. Bubbles? Check. Chalk? Check. Layered spring-inspired Jell-O? Check. Grandparents? Check and check. And this only takes us to 11am. The day sort of unfolds as it will as we follow our present desires and dreams for what this holiday should hold. No planning. No fuss.

Our only rules?

Simple, smiles, and sunshine [the sunshine being negotiable].

Here's the thing about made up holidays: they give the present a special magic and adventure. A normal day becomes anything but normal, yet it's the normalcy that makes it so wonderful.

So take a day, make it a holiday, and celebrate like you really, really mean it. Do whatever comes to mind and don't think about anything else. Go outside and play like a child or drive to the beach or find some swings.

Whatever you do, smile because you're making normal so very beautiful.

Happy Spring First everyone!

[THE RECIPE]

Note: We like our jell-o a little on the tart side but if you prefer sweet [for picky eaters this may be helpful], feel free to add maple syrup or honey as desired.

To begin, prepare an 8 x 8 inch glass baking dish by rubbing a thin coat of coconut oil along the entire inside of the pan to grease. Set aside.

I warm all of the layers in separate pans at the same time prior to pouring into the baking dish but it also works to get the first two layers prepared, pour one into the pan to chill, and start working on the third and fourth layers.

If you don't have the fruit I've listed on hand, simply sub in any other fruits. Mango, and blackberries, strawberries all work well. The only fruit to avoid is pineapple as it reacts with the gelatin resulting in mush.

First Layer:

2 c. frozen blueberries
1/2 c. cranberry juice
1/2 freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch sea salt
maple syrup [optional], to taste
7 T. gelatin powder

In a medium size saucepan over medium-low heat, combine berries, juice, lemon juice, salt, and syrup if using. Cook until warm and berries are have soften just a bit. Turn off heat and pour berry mixture into a blender. Blend on low. While the blender is running, slowly add gelatin powder. Replace the blender top and blend on high until mixture becomes creamy and smooth. Pour mixture into the prepared 8 x 8 inch baking dish and place in the freezer for about 10 - 15 minutes or until just firm but not hard.

Second Layer:

1 c. Tigernut or coconut milk
1 T. vanilla extract
3 - 4 T. maple syrup
1/2 - 1 T. lucuma powder [optional, this adds a malt-like flavor]
pinch sea salt

In a medium size saucepan over medium-low heat, combine milk, vanilla, lucuma powder, salt, and syrup. Cook to warm. Turn off heat and pour mixture into a blender. Blend on low. While the blender is running, slowly add gelatin powder. Replace the blender top and blend on high until mixture becomes creamy and smooth. Pour mixture evenly over the first layer and return to the freezer for about 10 - 15 minutes or until just firm but not hard.

Third Layer:

2 c. frozen raspberries
1/2 c. pear juice
maple syrup [optional], to taste
7 T. gelatin powder

In a medium size saucepan over medium-low heat, combine berries, juice, and syrup if using. Cook until warm and berries are have soften just a bit. Turn off heat and pour berry mixture into a blender. Blend on low. If you'd like to remove the seeds, pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer using a spoon to gently push it through. Rinse out the blender and return the raspberry puree to the blender. While the blender is running, slowly add gelatin powder. Replace the blender top and blend on high until mixture becomes creamy and smooth. Pour mixture over the first two layers and return to the freezer for about 10 - 15 minutes or until just firm but not hard.

Fourth Layer:

2 c. frozen apricots
1/2 c. apricot juice
maple syrup [optional], to taste
7 T. gelatin powder

In a medium size saucepan over medium-low heat, combine apricots, juice, and syrup if using. Cook until warm and apricots are have soften just a bit. Turn off heat and pour apricot mixture into a blender. Blend on low. While the blender is running, slowly add gelatin powder. Replace the blender top and blend on high until mixture becomes creamy and smooth. Pour mixture over the first three layers and either return to the freezer to firm completely [about 20 minutes] or place in the refrigerator for 1 - 2 hours.

When the jell-o is completely firm, cut it into small squares using a sharp knife. Gently pull from the pan and tear apart where needed. Store in a tightly sealed glass container in the refrigerator for 1 - 2 weeks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

RELEASING ROUTINE


Prior to let's say January 1, my days were defined by routine. I had my morning routines, my afternoon routines, and my evening routines. I had my food routines and bedtime routines and exercise routines. It seemed to be working really well until I began to see [and feel] the cracks. I started noticing if one of those little pieces [like not making the bed first thing in the morning] was off, I struggled with balance the rest of the day. I was living under the illusion I could somehow create perfect and then maintain it day in and day out. My life was organized and predictable and comfortable and safe and, to be honest, for the most part I really liked it that way. But those cracks in my plans began to widen and show. My body started screaming at me in ways I couldn't understand or fix on my own. My anxiety level was at an all time high and emotions on the proverbial roller coaster. I'm certain the people closest to me shouldered a good chunk of this burden, feeling the pressure to live up to my imaginary standards. What I thought was complete control was anything but and it was bleeding into every bit of my world. I started asking if maybe there was a more whole way to live - a way not racked with as many self-inflicted demands and rules.

So, of course, I hopped on my pendulum and swung in the opposite direction.

Around the coming of the new year I decided maybe it was time to try on a new look for the season. I allowed myself to sink into winter with reckless abandon [or what felt reckless to me]. What I mean is I threw out many of my routines, slept in and stayed up late, spent a lot of time cuddling in the morning with my kids, and sometimes stayed in jammies until late into the afternoon. I half-heartedly meal planned, mostly relying on last minute forages through the refrigerator, and served my kids chips with hummus and guacamole sided by some raw veggies for a good number of lunches. Sometimes we ate popcorn with dinner or watched a movie. I went to bed with the house a mess, left dishes on the counter until morning, permitted much to much screen time, and allowed the laundry to pile up to enormous proportions.

Here's what this stint in the carefree life taught me:

It's as amazing and as horrifying as it sounds. 

What I found is I wasn't truly me in either scenario. Being driven by routine robbed me of the opportunity to feel spontaneous and placed a burden on me to live up to my own contrived expectations. And that way of life was making by body, mind and soul sick.

On the other hand, a life without routine seemed horribly imbalanced to me. Without any sort of expectation it was much to easy to fall into mediocrity, sort of fumbling through the day. I felt scattered, untethered, and unprepared which zapped me of energy in a way I hadn't expected. I relished the guilt-free space to do nothing, to take naps when I was tired, to plan less and live in spontaneity a bit more. But I also found that to be the best me I needed both and I had to find a way to walk the line between rigidity and carelessness.

The problem [blessing?] is, there isn't a map on how to walk this path of balance. It's fraught with mistakes and pain and over-extending. Anxiety and fear and exhaustion and complete confusion. At the same time this road is lined with so much grace and humility, forgiveness and freedom and I've found it to be truly the only way to compassion and wisdom.

But that's the work of life isn't it? To enter into the core of who we are, set dynamite to what needs to go, dig through the rubble, rebuild where necessary, and let that self shine.

And so these days I'm re-establishing my morning routine of a little yoga and energy work to shake me from my sleep and encourage me into my day. Sometimes I make the bed and other days I don't. My kids dress themselves as part of their own creative expression and I celebrate that creativity. If we're up late I sleep in and look forward to being woken by two little bodies crawling into my bed for some morning snuggles. Other days I set my alarm and embrace the quiet hours of the early morning. I meal plan but hold it loosely, understanding that at any moment the day may interrupt these plans. We still have popcorn with dinner from time to time and I can't seem to take back the hummus + guacamole + chips for lunch, although it's enjoyed far less often. I make some lists but not as many. I try to meditate daily as my soul is so full when I do. I'm slowly learning to release perfect in an effort to be fully present [as my friend Jen will say]. My body is healing and my soul finding peace. The laundry still piles up and sits for days and I continue to struggle with when to trump work with play. But I'm fumbling through, learning as I go.

And now, on most days, life feels balanced and it's an amazing thing to sit in the freedom and strength of facing and letting go of the things I held onto most desperately.

May you be empowered to create routines where you need them and release rigidity where is necessary. May you find joy in the simple, power in the struggle, and have the courage to walk a road that may be foreign but trust the journey anyway. May you travel deeply inward in order to shine outward. 

And may you leave the bed unmade from time to time.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

FINDING A HOLY PLACE AND THE ONLY TWO GLUTEN-FREE BREADS I EVER MAKE

The other day it was warmer than it has been in months. It was 40 degrees and sunny and beautiful. If you live in the Northern hemisphere you may know of a specific phenomenon that happens on the first warm day of the year - on the day that follows months of cold and winter and quiet and burrowing in.

Everyone around you comes out of hibernation and the sense of communal happiness and relief and energy is palpable. We wear t-shirts and shorts, roll down our windows, and can't help but smile at everyone we see.

It was on this day I drove out to the lake, to my Holy Place, to celebrate the coming of spring and the gratitude that comes with it.

Here's what I mean by Holy Place:

It's the first spot that comes to mind when I'm overjoyed or devastated with grief or consumed with anger and confusion. It's where I go to work through emotions, think through my deeper thoughts, meditate, or simply sit and watch. I take my kids sometimes but most often go alone or while my youngest naps in the car. Sometimes I bring things to do and on other occasions I play the music really loud. Sometimes I just sit and soak up the silence.

This spot beckons in a more powerful way when the days are short and temperatures keep me cocooned indoors. I drive out to my Holy Place when it's almost blindingly sunny yet the air has an icy chill and the wind is biting. There, in my spot, the world seems so large and luminous while at the same time filled with peace and balance.

It's my Holy Place because it's the space where I most strongly sense the presence of God and the Spirit within myself. It connects me to something larger than me yet grounds me to the present moment happening immediately around me. 

It's the space that embraces me as me - no projections, no demands, no expectations.

No matter what baggage or praise I bring to this place, it accepts me. And it reminds me that life is larger than most of the chatter in my head yet is as small and intricate as the tiniest grain of sand.

Here's the thing - I didn't always have a Holy Place. In a way it sort of found me. One day, a normal kind of day, I had this intense feeling I needed to drive out to the lake. I didn't know why but followed it's call. Ever since, this place keeps pulling me back to remind me that we live in a holy, beautiful, unbelievably large, and unbelievably small, world. And to help me remember to live in the present moment as if it is the most precious gift. I have been changed by this space - this very regular spot I call holy and claim as my own.

And that's the gift isn't it?

Any place can be holy if you have eyes to see and a heart ready to experience it's wonder.

May you find and notice and answer the call of your Holy Place and may it connect you to this deep well of love and acceptance and grace that is yours for the taking.  


[THE RECIPES]

Here's why I love these recipes. First, both are unbelievably simple with a short ingredients list. Clean up is a cinch which is important to me. I'm not particularly in love with baking. To take on the task and have major clean up after is mostly more than I can handle and will quickly talk me out of the recipe before I begin. These recipes take a bowl or mixer bowl, blender [opt.],  one teaspoon, one tablespoon, a measuring cup, and maybe a spoon. Baking bliss.

CHEWY OAT BAGUETTE BREAD

This bread is great for sandwhiches, French toast, croutons, breadcrumbs, and really is a great multi-purpose bread.


Notes: 

I find that putting the water, milk, and vinegar in a blender or mixer, and then slowly adding the psyllium husk powder while it's running on low - medium makes a better [less chunky] gel. 

For a molasses or dark style bread, I replace the honey with molasses. 

Once I've mixed the dough, I let it sit for a few minutes while I clean up the very minimal dishes [seriously, less than 5 minute clean up]. I find this firms even dough that is a little on the wetter side and gives me a better gauge for adding additional flour. 

I almost always double the recipe. After the loaves have cooled, I thinly slice and freeze one of them.

 LIFE-CHANGING SEED BREAD

This bread makes awesome whole-grain style toast, especially with seed butter and raw honey or a favorite jam.

Notes:

I use pumpkin seeds in place of hazelnuts [for a nut-free option] and like to really grind / finely chop the pumpkin and sunflower seeds to a chunky flour. 

I like to use quinoa flakes in place of oats. I find this makes a bread that sticks together better than with the oats but really both work great.

I almost always double the recipe. After the loaves have cooled, I thinly slice and freeze one of them.

I've found that making a double batch can be useful in another way. This recipes asks you to really press the dough down into the bread pans. I use the extra loaf pan to press on top of the dough [place a piece of parchment on top of loaf being pressed]. It seems to give me more leverage and force. 

When the recipe calls to remove the bread from the pan and continue to bake, I place them loaves on a cookie rack rather than directly on the oven rack. It makes for an easier removal of the loaves from the oven.



Friday, February 13, 2015

GINGER MOLASSES HOT CACAO + HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS

It's the eve of Valentine's Day and I've found that there are two camps of thought about this holiday: love it and hate it. The first dives head first into all things Hallmark and pink and floral and sweet. The second live in complete denial this holiday even exists and intentionally wear all black, silently screaming "if you even glance at me in a lovey, syrupy way, so help me....!"

I get it. The love. The hate. V-day either allows us a day to exploit the love we have or is a brutal reminder of what we seem to be missing.

Unless.

What if this specific day isn't about romantic relationships, or the lack there of, at all? What if we've all been hoodwinked in believing this day is about external love and have been blinded from seeing the day for what it is?

What if this day was about loving you - this messed up, crazy, never-has-it-all-together, beautiful, wonderful you?

Could you do it?

Could you believe you are worth a whole day to celebrate simply loving you?

It's so hard. So, so hard to believe all the unique things that make us who we are are worth celebrating. Most days we screw up. Most days we hurt those we love. We fail and cry and gossip and hate and fall into the trap of understanding life as meaningless. We believe the worst things we think about ourselves are actually true and everyone else is thinking them too.

And then February 14 comes around and our failures or successes in a certain relationship area are broadcasted. Or we're given 24 hours to reassess what we believe. We're given an entire day to repeat over and over again "I love me. I'm beautiful. I'm worth it. I'm perfect."

One day to shelve all the negative voices in our head that try so hard to trap us in living a life far less grand than what we were created to live. Voices that keep us small.

So maybe this Valentine's day you write a love letter to you. Don't hold back. Jot down everything you love about yourself or think you could love or dream you could be. Even if you don't believe it, write it down. Even if it scares you, write it down.

And then read it over and over again until may you begin to believe in the beauty that is found in every single ounce of you.

Because here's a secret: if you start to believe you're worth this kind of love and live from this place of acceptance and grace, others will too.

And you'll begin to find beauty and connection in everything.

So go on a date or spend time with friends. Rent a movie, go outside, watch the stars, or indulge in as many chocolate somethings you possibly can. Scream into a pillow or cry if you need to and then smile because you let yourself feel. Celebrate in a way that makes you feel most alive and loved by no one other than you.

But please. Please don't bash or banish this day. Please don't allow any bit of loathing to taint what could be. And please don't gloat. Please don't shamelessly flaunt whatever love you think you have and flash it around like a stack of 100s or diamonds or fancy clothes. Because all of this is simply that, glitter and glam that dies away. And because every time you do, every time you hide or deny or hate or gloat or flaunt, each time you miss the opportunity to give this special day a new name, a new purpose. And you miss the chance to completely revel in you. This unique, no-one-quite-like it, absolutely wonderful you.

No matter what, where you stand or think you stand, please celebrate. Because if nothing else, this world could use a little more celebration.

Happy Valentine's Day.


Now, a little about this recipe. In my head I think all I need to say is "you have to try it" and you will but somehow that's, rightfully so, not quite enough so I'll say a little more.

I was curious about combining molasses and cacao and found that the flavor combination is deep and rich and almost smoky. Sort of bitter but also sweet. A little like Valentine's Day if you think about it.

Here's the nutrition deal.

Blackstrap molasses is one of the few sweeteners with an abundance of minerals packed in. Calcium? Check. Iron? Check. Potassium? Check.

Translation, if you are pregnant or post-partum [even years after having your last baby] this is an awesome food to add to your diet as it gives you the minerals you and the baby need to maintain health and acts as a blood tonic after you've given birth, replenishing what has been lost.

Molasses works to reduce dampness and cold in the body which means if you're experiencing winter cold right now this might just help you warm from the inside out. A great treat after outdoor winter fun!

In addition to all this goodness, if you take a bit [1 - 2 tablespoons] of molasses in warm water an hour or so prior to bed it will aid the bowels and soften things up first thing in the morning. Super helpful for issues surrounding constipation. I'd nix the cacao though as it can be stimulating - not exactly what you want prior to catching some Zzz's.

Good for almost every digestive organ in your body, adding molasses really providess more than simply flavor to this hot drink.


[RECIPE]
Serves One

2 c. boiling water
1  T. molasses
2 tsp. cacao or cocoa powder [or carob if you can't do chocolate]
2 pinches of each: sea salt, Ceylon cinnamon, ground ginger

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan or tea kettle. While the water is warming, place the remaining ingredients in a large mug. Pour the boiling water into the mug and whisk until everything has dissolved into water. Top with marshmallows and enjoy!

Important Note: This is a slightly bitter drink until you add the marshmallows. If you forgo the marshmallows you may want to add a touch of raw honey or maple syrup until you reach the sweetness you desire.

[HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS]

I was visiting a friend of mine and found these on her counter. I haven't had a marshmallow in years for a host of reasons, mainly because on a basic level they are puffed chemicals. Admittedly delicious but still, disgusting.

And then there's these little babies. Simple, whole food ingredients without an ounce of chemical or processing. So, so good.

Because I love adding medicinal herbs to just about everything, try adding 1 tablespoon of marshmallow root powder to the gelatin and water. Marshmallow root is great for gut inflammation and adds an authentic mallow-y taste.

Head over here for the recipe!

Monday, February 9, 2015

PF CHANG'S STYLE TURKEY LETTUCE WRAPS WITH MARINATED CUCUMBERS



So a little disclaimer. This is absolutely the opposite of a local winter meal. Fresh lettuce in winter? No. Cucumbers in the snow? No. Water chestnuts in the mitten state? Not that I can find.

And so it is what it is and the beauty of discipline in any area of life is that there is room for exceptions and straying from the rules actually keep us balanced and in a healthier place than stubbornness and rigidity.

I love this recipe because it reminds me of PF Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps and beyond that it reminds me of being in Chicago with my husband, newly married and newly gluten-free. Many people have memories surrounding food and this particular dish is one of the first I ate out after learning I had an allergy to gluten. 

If you've had such a staple food like gluten removed from your diet you know the helpless feeling of looking into a menu and realizing a salad, hold pretty much everything, is the only answer. But then. Then you enter a restaurant that takes gluten free seriously and everything about the meal is suddenly transformed from desperate to beautiful and permanently impressed on your being. 

Now I don't know how the higher ups at PF Chang's feel about GMO's or organic food or supporting local farms or animal confinement. 

I hope they care. 

What I do know is that in this one particular area they made a difference for me in a very hopeless situation and for that I am grateful. 

This recipe was an absolute hit in our family. Most nights I come to the table with food prepared having no idea what the response will be. Translation, I have no idea how hard I'm going to have to fight to have said food consumed by a particular two and four year old. And by fight, I mean how creative I'll need to get. Obviously.

Coming into this meal was no different and truth be told, I expected the worst. Instead, both kids ate the equivalent of four wraps each [albeit running to and from the table]. Either way, a clear and delicious success!

[THE RECIPE]
Serves 4
Adapted from this recipe

1 lb organic, pasture raised ground turkey or chicken
1 - 2 T. extra virgin coconut or olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tablespoon of peeled and minced ginger
1 8-ounce can of water chestnuts, finely chopped
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 T. raw honey
1 cucumber very thinly sliced [using knife or mandolin]
raw apple cider vinegar
sea salt
1 large head of bib or butter lettuce, rinsed and laid on towel to dry
cooked [and sprouted if possible] quinoa or rice, optional
green onions / scallions, chopped, optional


Warm oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey and cook until well done, breaking into very small pieces while cooking. Once the turkey is thoroughly cooked, add onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute over medium heat until onion is soft and transparent [5 - 10 minutes]. Stir in the garlic powder, tamari sauce or coconut aminos, honey, and brown rice vinegar. Let mixture cook for about 10 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to one third of the original. Add water chestnuts at the end and cook for 3 - 4 minutes. While the turkey filling is cooking, slice cucumbers and place in a glass bowl. Toss with enough cider vinegar to coat and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt. Mix well and place in refrigerator until food is prepared. 

Once the meat is ready, either place meat, lettuce cups, marinated cucumbers, and quinoa or rice on the table or scoop filling into lettuce cups and top with cucumbers, quinoa or rice [if desired], and serve immediately.