embrace-the-bowl

When New Becomes Normal

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the frequency of my posts has dwindled.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still clean eating. I’m still drinking a smoothie every day. I’m still exercising daily. I’m still a zealot about all of it!

But….somewhere along the way, this new way of life became normal. It’s no longer as wondrous and exciting to me. It just is.

I no longer struggle over what to eat or how I’m going to handle a situation that might not have “my” kind of food. I’ve gotten so used to bringing my food with me, or being creative with what is available.

How can you make clean eating your new normal?

I think too much emphasis is placed on having a meal. The traditional plate of food has lost its purpose. Especially because very little of what America puts on their plates anymore is food. It used to be a selection of a meat, a vegetable and a starch. And none of these are bad. But more and more they are coming out of boxes and bags and are made from powders and processed to the point of not even resembling what they started out as…

Well, really. What’s the point?

Tweak it. For me, it seems easier and healthier to have a selection of fresh foods available and to combine them how you wish. If it’s there and it’s ready to eat, you’re going to eat it. Take the time to have a few staples ready to go along with your fresh fruits and vegetables, and it will make all the difference. Quinoa, legumes, sweet potatoes, seasoned chicken….these are all wonderful staple items to have cooked and ready to mix with your fresh ingredients to make a healthy and delicious bowl of food in very little time.

I made a food bowl the other night with fresh spinach, quinoa, sweet potato, fresh pineapple and fresh blueberries. It was what happened to be in the refrigerator and it was delicious!

Healthy Food Bowl
Healthy Food Bowl

My point is, it doesn’t have to be difficult. It doesn’t have to be a fancy recipe. This was just a bunch of healthy food thrown into a bowl. And to be completely honest, I added the blueberries as an afterthought because it was all orange, yellow and brown and I thought the blueberries might look nice!

I find myself grazing more and more. I eat pretty much all day long. Ask anyone I work with. I’m shoveling food into my mouth from the minute my butt hits my chair until the minute I leave in the afternoon. But it’s real food. It’s not processed crap. It’s fruits and vegetables and seeds and nuts and water. Always water.

My weight has plateaued again. After my initial 20 pound weight-loss down to 103, I gained muscle weight back up to 108, and I have stayed there for about 9 months now.

Do you hear what I’m saying? I eat all day long, but I don’t gain weight. I work out every day, but I don’t lose weight. I’m healthy. I am maintaining my perfect body size because I am feeding it the perfect foods.

Step outside the dinner plate. Embrace the bowl. Make a new normal.

#notmylimitations

 

blubancac

It’s Not a Chocolate Shake…

…but it sure does taste like one!!

I drink green smoothies for breakfast every day. A green smoothie is typically a HUGE salad, add almond milk or coconut water, and blend it down into a 32 ounce drink. I know I don’t have time to sit down and eat a huge salad for breakfast every morning, but by making a smoothie out of it, I’ve got all of the same health benefits in an easy sip & go container!

Of course, it’s not always straight salad. I add lots of fruits, seeds and extras to make it yummy.

After my workout this morning, I started throwing stuff in my Nutribullet and this is what i ended up with. This tastes every bit like a chocolate shake, but without all of the unwanted calories, fats or sugars.

Try this delicious Blueberry Banana Cacao Smoothie for breakfast, post-workout, or anytime!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1 large handful spinach
  • 1 date, pitted
  • 1 tsp. cacao powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan pink sea salt
  • 1 tsp. maca powder
  • 1 cup almond milk

Instructions

Add all ingredients to blender or Nutribullet and blend until smooth. Pour into cup and enjoy!!

#notmylimitations

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Acceptance

My yoga journey has been as meandering as the rest of my life. It’s something I love, but it’s something that I don’t always make time for.

I have a natural affinity for yoga, and when I was younger, I often found myself doing more advanced poses because my body could do the advanced poses. They came easily to me, but as often happens with things that come easily to us, I had no appreciation or understanding.  I was just doing.

I wasn’t breathing through my practice, I was just breathing. I didn’t want to make sounds with my breath…that’s just embarrassing. Yoga was a class that I went to every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Just because.

The time I spent away from yoga due to a back surgery led me to appreciate my practice all the more when I finally returned to it about 10 years later. Of course I was, by then, much older, and maybe my maturity and life experience had something to do with it, too. But I’ve found since I’ve come back to my practice that it is a much more emotional experience for me.

I gravitate towards strong, fast-moving classes. It is definitely still all about strength and challenge for me. But underneath that, there is now my breath.  Along with my breath, there is now sound. Along with my breath and sound, there is a calm. A centeredness I don’t experience anywhere else in my life. I actually enjoy savasana now. It used to be a struggle for me.

I went to a power vinyasa class this morning that was taught by a guest teacher. During our practice, she spoke of bringing all of you to class. The parts that you like and the parts that you dislike.

How often do we even admit to ourselves that there are parts which we dislike? How often do we give ourselves the opportunity to embrace the parts of ourselves which we dislike? To stop judging ourselves, and just accept?

This was on my mind during my practice this morning, and I found myself returning to it over and over during the hour.

Quite a few times during my practice, I found myself tearing up, but I dutifullly bit the inside of my cheek to gain control. By the time savasana rolled around, I could no longer deny my emotions, and found myself with tears streaming into my ears.

I can’t explain the emotional release that yoga provides for me. It’s not something that happens for me with any other physical activity. Yoga not only releases my physical stress, but the emotional, too.

Somewhere, buried deep within all of the inhaling and “hah-ing” and downward dogging and extending and opening, there is a quiet cleansing of my soul.

An unparalleled restoration of my spirit.

A recognition of the Divine spark within me.

Namaste.

#notmylimitations

Yummy Energy Bites!!

There’s a vegan cafe in Lafayette that I absolutely love that has a refrigerated case full of vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free desserts. Every time I go there, I leave telling myself I’m going to experiment more in the kitchen with making raw desserts.

Apparently, Saturday was that day.

I am not a chef, but I know the basics of this. You need some nutty stuff, some powdery stuff and some sticky stuff…right?

And so I began.

The result, while not very photogenic, is delicious. My perfect not-too-sweet-but-just-enough-to-satisfy blend of nutty, powdery and sticky!!

These raw, gluten-free, dairy-free Yummy Energy Bites are so full of goodness! I hope you love them, too!

Yummy Energy BItes
Yummy Energy BItes

Ingredients

The Nutty Stuff

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/3 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

The Sticky Stuff

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

The Powdery Stuff

  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup goji
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp maca powder
  • 3 tbsp cacao powder

Instructions

Line a baking sheet or baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.

Take all of the Nutty Stuff and put it into a food processor. Pulse until well-combined, but still chunky. Pour into a medium-sized bowl and set aside.

Take all of the Sticky Stuff and put it into your Nutribullet or a blender. Blend until well-combined. Pour the Sticky Stuff into the Nutty Stuff and mix well.

Now start mixing in the Powdery Stuff. Keep stirring!

After everything is well-combined, transfer it onto the prepared parchment lined sheet or dish. Push it down to desired thickness. Mine were about 3/4 inch thick. After it is nice and flat, place it into the refrigerator to harden.

Refrigerate for 2-3 hours. Remove from refrigerator and lift out parchment paper. Place onto hard surface and slice into small squares.

After cutting, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

#notmylimitations

Peach Cobbler

Peach Cobbler

Something I’ve noticed since I started getting farm boxes, I no longer care if my produce is perfect. As a matter of fact, I kind of enjoy the fact that it arrives with a little dirt on it, or is a funky shape, or maybe has a bruise or two.

To me, these imperfections mean that this is real food.

I find myself using these foods differently, too. I try as hard as I can to use up all of my farm box produce in a week, but sometimes it’s just not doable. If something starts nearing its squish date, I’ll cut it up and freeze it. If it’s fruit, sometimes I’ll throw it in my Nutribullet and pour the liquid into ice cube trays and freeze them. After they’re frozen, I put them in Ziploc bags to store in the freezer to add to smoothies. In my before life? I would have just thrown it away.

I have more respect for my food now. I know the people that grow my food. I know the hard work that goes into producing these tasty little miracles. I appreciate it so much more.

My farm box this week had three peaches. One of them was bumped and bruised. All of them were ripe. I’m talking “eat me now because I may not make it another day”.

And all I could think about was peach cobbler.

It’s just me and my girl, so the idea of cooking a whole baking dish full of peach cobbler is just ridiculous. But three peaches? Oh, I got this.

Traditionally, cooked fruits are thickened up with sugar, but I don’t use sugar anymore. I’ve used chia seeds before to thicken up cooked fruit when I made my Strawberry Chia Seed Jam, so I thought, why not?? It worked out great, plus I get all of the added health benefits of chia seeds!

This cobbler doesn’t have the traditional cakey topping because we’re gluten-free, but I used some delicious Udi’s Gluten-free Vanilla Granola which gave it a nice crunch.

Oh. And how could I forget the whipped cream? Have I mentioned we’re also dairy-free? This whipped cream is an amazing alternative!

Peach Cobbler
Peach Cobbler

Ingredients

  • 3 peaches, pitted and cubed
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup granola

Whipped Cream

  • 1 14 oz can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

For the cobbler: Place peaches, water, chia seeds and nutmeg in a small saucepan over high heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

For the whipped cream: Open the can of milk. Do not shake first! You want to be able to scoop the solid part of the coconut cream off of the top and into a bowl. Add maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon and whip with a hand mixer until fluffy.

To assemble: Divide the cooked peaches into two bowls. Top with granola. Add a large scoop of the whipped cream. Enjoy!!

#notmylimitations

sugar

Warning: Clean Eating Post!

A friend asked me to get them a cup of coffee the other day. Four creams. Two Equals.

There is so much wrong there, but let’s just concentrate on the Equal for a moment, shall we?

I countered that Equal was poison. They acted shocked and said, “Really? So I should get sugar?”

Really?

I don’t drink coffee. I never have. I tried it for a while in high school and just didn’t like it. I feel like I want to like coffee. I feel like I would like the ritual of coffee. But I just don’t like the taste. So, I don’t drink it.

I stopped using artificial sweeteners long before I began clean eating. Let’s just begin by looking at the name – artificial sweeteners.

I won’t get all scientific. We’ve all heard that artificial sweeteners may cause cancer, weight gain and migraine headaches. But I’m not a scientist, so I’ll just stop at the word “artificial”. And that’s enough reason right there to not put it in my body.images (3)

So would I recommend sugar instead? Well, I wouldn’t really recommend artificial sweeteners or sugar, but if I had to choose? Sugar. At the very least, it has connections to something natural, and that is far better than the chemical shitstorm that is Equal.

Since I started clean eating, I don’t use sugar anymore either. If I need to sweeten something, I use honey or maple syrup. Occasionally, I’ll use coconut sugar in a recipe, but for the most part, I just don’t find it necessary anymore.

Y’all, this is coming from a former 4 Coke-a-day person….a glazed-donut-eating, sweet-tea-drinking sugar-holic.

Sometimes all I can do is look back at my former self and shake my head.

Since I switched to drinking only water, my tastes have totally changed. Even when I drink hot herbal tea now, I don’t sweeten it at all. I find that I love the taste of the herbs and it isn’t necessary to cover the flavors with sweetness.

Our addiction to sugar can be difficult to break. I can tell you though, there is an endpoint to the addiction and the benefits are amazing. Just by quitting drinking Coke 2 years ago, I lost 9 pounds in about 2 weeks.

Here are a few ways to break that sugar cycle:

  • Eat lots of fresh, whole fruits
  • Stay away from artificial sweeteners
  • Clean out your pantry! Sugar is hiding everywhere!!
  • Go cold turkey! One bite usually leads to two…

I know it’s not easy. Believe me. I know it’s not easy. I did it. But once that sugar craving turns off, it turns off.

To go from literally craving Coke and sweet tea as my drink of choice all day long, to not even being able to imagine taking a sip of either is astounding. I feel so much better, too.

Sugar is a known inflammatory. Chronic low-grade inflammation can contribute to a number of conditions. Some of these are:

  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Acne

Wait. Acne? Yes, acne. My skin was never awful, but I often found myself lamenting the random, well-placed zit on my face. I’m an adult! Why am I still getting acne??

Our skin is the largest organ in our body. It only makes sense that our nutrition would affect the way it looks.

Clean eating = beautiful skin!

I overheard a conversation the other day at the grocery store. A clerk was talking to a customer and she was explaining to the customer how she was doing a sugar detox. The customer reacted pretty typically:

The horrified “No sugar at all?!?!”

The clerk responded that she could eat fruit, but that no, she was not eating sugar in any form. She said that it was hard, but she was 13 days in and she was feeling really good.

The customer then said the one phrase that I absolutely cannot stand:

“I wish I could do that.”

UGGHH!!!

Then do it! This doesn’t require superpowers! If you want to feel better, it is literally in your own hands. Every piece of food that you carry to your lips is an opportunity to make a better decision.

We look to big pharma to cure us, when our diets are the ultimate panacea.

This is about your health.

I can’t think of a better reason.

#notmylimitations

DORSAL TALUS

The Way Things Happen

I finally got to go rock climbing again the other night. It’s my favorite activity, and I don’t get to do it nearly as often as I would like.

I was starting a route in what is known as a “sit-start”. You basically have your hands on two holds, your feet on two holds, and you are usually in a sideways sitting position. The first major reach was pretty long, and I was on my fourth try to grab it. As I pulled myself out of the sit-start and reached for the rock again, my fingers barely grazed the rock, I lost my grip on the wall and stepped back with my right foot, closely followed by a step back with my left foot.

And that’s when my ankle rolled.

I’m not an ankle-roller. Some people are prone to it. I’ve never done it before in my life. I walked it out. It stung a little bit, but I kept climbing. Every once in a while my ankle would start to tighten up and I would stretch it out, but for the most part, I babied it and ignored it.

After I got home, I iced it and fell asleep.

I woke up at 3:00 am to go to the restroom, and couldn’t put any weight on my foot at all. Like, none. I hopped into my office, dug up a pair of crutches from when my daughter was younger and made my way into the kitchen to get another ice pack. I crutched my way back to bed, Googled some stuff about ankle sprains, and fell asleep with my ice pack on.

The next morning was not much better and while I was at work, I made the decision to have it checked out. I went to a walk-in clinic (ha!) and had my ankle x-rayed.

When the doctor came in, he was palpating all around my ankle and asking me if each spot hurt. When he got to the outside of my ankle bone, he asked if it hurt and I said no, but then I explained that that was one of my “dead spots”.

Let me explain.

Eleven years ago, I had major back surgery. I had a herniated disc at L4-L5. But it was an 11 mm central protrusion, so the surgery was a bit more involved. I had a discectomy and laminectomy and everything went very well. After the surgery, the surgeon explained that he had to be pretty rough with some of the surrounding nerves in order to access the herniation. During my recovery, I discovered I had some spots in my left leg that were “fired up”. They felt like pins and needles. Over the next few months, these sensations gradually gave way to my dead spots. The back of my left calf, the outside of my left ankle, the ball of my left foot, and the bottom sides of two of my toes.

Flash forward to Friday, when I was explaining this to the doctor. He sat back and looked at me and said, “Well that explains your x-rays.”

He said that my x-rays looked weird, but he couldn’t figure out why. He told me to hold both of my legs out straight and look at my ankles. I don’t know why I’ve never noticed this before, but my left leg dips way in right above my outside ankle bone. He pointed to that area and explained that on the x-ray, he could see that the muscle in that area was completely atrophied. And now he understood why. If the nerves to that area are dead, the muscle isn’t receiving any messages to respond, so it atrophies. And that is likely why my ankle rolled in the first place, I have no muscle there to support it.

I’ve never really thought I had motor problems with my left leg before, it’s mostly been sensory, but now that I think about it, if I stumble on the treadmill, it’s because my left foot dragged a little.

Watching myself do squats in a mirror, my left knee wobbles and drifts a bit and I have to concentrate hard to stabilize it.

And now I know why.

There’s nothing to be done for it. If the muscle isn’t being enervated, it atrophies. But it’s nice to be aware of it. I can continue doing whatever I want, but maybe just a bit more cautiously.

So for now, I’m in a sexy, black boot, awaiting the official reading of the x-rays. I have a possible hairline fracture, or just a sprain. Either way, I now have information I would never have known had I not rolled my ankle.

Squats are out for the time being, but I figure, by the end of this, my arms, back and abs will look amazing!

Silver linings, guys, silver linings!

#notmylimitations

Chanterelle Quesadillas

Lovely Chanterelles

Every once in a while, there is an item in my farm box that I am unfamiliar with. Liiiiiiike this one:

Chanterelle Mushrooms
Chanterelle Mushrooms

You may be sitting there going, “Well, that’s a chanterelle.”

And I’m happy for you.

I was sitting there going, “What the….”

I mean, give me a little credit. I knew it was a mushroom. I just didn’t know what kind. Or what to do with it.

So I hit the internet to check it out.

I found out that chanterelles are best cooked, and, well, it was lunch time…..

So I cooked them!

Um, I kind of made the most amazing quesadilla. You’ll have to try it!

Chanterelle Quesadillas
Chanterelle Quesadillas

Ingredients

  • 5 chanterelle mushrooms
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 2 slices fresh mozzarella, chopped
  • 1/8 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large tortilla (I used Udi’s Gluten Free)

 

Instructions

Melt coconut oil in small skillet. Add chanterelles and saute until lightly browned. Add chopped onion and continue to cook another 3-4 minutes, or until onions are soft and translucent. Remove chanterelles and onions to a small plate, and slice the chanterelles.

In a small bowl, combine cheeses, thyme and pepper. Add chanterelle and onion mixture and mix well with a spoon until well-blended.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add tortilla and warm on one side. Flip tortilla over and spoon ingredients onto one half. Fold the other half over to make a half-moon. Heat for 1-2 minutes. Flip and heat other side.

Remove from heat, cut into wedges and serve. Enjoy!

#notmylimitations

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Leaping

I was at work today, standing by the front door, watching the endless rain…I looked down at the black door mat that I was standing on and there was a fly hopping around on the mat. Which was weird for a fly. I opened the door and squatted down to help him out, only to find out that it wasn’t a fly. It was the tiniest black frog!! So cute! I let him hop onto my finger and then went outside to set him under a bush.

When I got home from work, I walked up to my front door, and saw another tiny black frog hopping around!!

So of course I took his picture!!

IMAG0291_1

Okay. You know me…

One frog. Cute and random.

Two frogs?

Well that requires some research!! So off to the internet I went….

I found out that frogs are a sign of rebirth or renewal. Seeing a frog is said to be a sign that it is time to make some changes or begin a transformation.

Just understanding the life cycle of a frog gives meaning to this belief. Frogs go through so many changes in such a short period of time to reach full adulthood, it is no wonder the ancients chose it as a symbol of transformation.

Frogs are also believed to be a sign that you are working to enhance your intuition and strengthen your connection with the spirit world.

And the frogs I saw were in doorways which is just super cool!! What bigger sign for a transition is there than a doorway?!?!

I love that, even after the extreme changes that I have been through in the last two years, I can still be excited and look forward to even more changes and transitions!

I have no idea what I am leaping toward, but I can’t wait!!

#notmylimitations

Chai Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl

Chai Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl

I had one pre-cooked sweet potato left and was prowling the kitchen looking for a good post-workout meal. I grabbed the container of quinoa that I keep in the fridge and as I was closing the door, the carton of chai caught my eye…

Hmmm…

I’m not a fan of coffee, or caffeine in general. My general hot drink of choice is an herbal tea, but occasionally I will enjoy a chai.

Chai is a wonderful combination of black tea and spices. The most common spices used are cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and pepper. I love hot chai in the winter time for it’s warming, soothing effects. But I also like cold chai in the summertime! Chai can be a great digestive aid and give you a comforting sense of well-being.

You can buy chai in different forms, but I prefer to buy it in concentrate form. It’s the black tea and spices pre-mixed in a carton and you just have to use a little bit and add milk to make a yummy drink! We use almond milk and its sweetness means that no additional sweetener is necessary.

So. I grabbed the chai. And the almond milk. And the almonds. And the cacao nibs.

Chai Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl
Chai Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl

Ingredients

  • 1 cooked sweet potato
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 tbsp chai concentrate
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/8 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs

Instructions

Add sweet potato, quinoa, chai and almond milk to a bowl and heat in the microwave for 2 minutes. If you are not using a microwave, place the ingredients into a small pot and reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

When first four ingredients are fully heated, top with almonds and cacao nibs and enjoy!

#notmylimitations