Hey, at least I didn’t call this post Twerking Lent. You’re welcome!
So, today is Ash Wednesday, the official start of the season of Lent. Lent is the 40 days prior to Easter Sunday. It is known for being a time of sacrifice and reflection for the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the desert. I’ve observed the season of Lent for as long as I can remember. It is sometimes known more as a Catholic tradition, or at least that’s what people express to me, but I grew up in the Lutheran church and we always observed the season, so there you go.
Over the years, I’ve given up all sorts of things. The idea is to choose a vice, something you will really miss, so that you are constantly aware of your sacrifice and you are reminded to focus the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.
Listen, I’m not a religious historian, nor am I remotely an expert on the subject, so these are my interpretations as I grew up as a Christian. So while I’m sure I’m getting some of the details wrong, I’m focusing on what the season means to me.
This year I’ve chosen not to give something up, which I have always done in the past, from chocolate to sugar altogether. Last year I did “Paleo-Lent” where I was 100% strict with my Paleo diet (how I primarily eat anyway) for the entire season of Lent. There was nothing wrong with these sacrifices but this year I wanted to add something into my life instead of take something away. I want to infuse my life with something positive instead of a constant reminder of what I wasn’t allowing myself to have.
If you have been following my WritersButt’s program for any length of time, you know it’s about connecting the mind and body to be more creative and productive. To do this, I suggest everyone be well hydrated, eat a healthy, wholesome diet, get enough sleep, incorporate exercise into your daily life and to practice gratitude.
It’s safe to say I do pretty well on most of the elements of WritersButt in my own life, but I think I can do better. Even while I go through all the motions of all the key components, I have been feeling a bit displaced in my daily life. I’m distracted and avoiding things that are very important to me … namely my writing.
I’m not sure but I hope to find out. I do know one of the key things that never fails to derail me, is to allow my mind to get too busy, too insistent on doing it ‘all’ and do it all ‘perfectly’.
I’m looking for some balance!
In addition to my consistent CrossFit weight training, I’ve added daily yoga to my routine. (Way more about this adventure in a later post!) But, I have been saying for over a year that I want to add in daily meditation, to quiet my mind and let my soul just breathe and my body and mind just be. Maybe if I can quiet the constant, hammering noise of my thoughts, I can actually HEAR what a deeper part of me has to say?
So, that’s what I’m doing for Lent this year. A daily meditation time.
A year and a half ago, my husband and I took a fabulous trip to Mexico where we stayed at an amazing place called Present Moment Retreat. I still cherish every moment of that trip. While there, we learned how to meditate from the yoga instructor. (Hi Belen – HUGS from Texas!!))
It is not easy, and she suggests you start with just a few minutes. Here’s a great article with tips for a beginner starting a meditation practice.
I just did my meditation before writing this blog. It was less than 5 minutes. It felt like an hour at least. It’s so hard to sit, breathe, empty your mind and just exist with an open heart. My word – I need the practice.
Good thing I have 39 more days until Easter to get better at mediation so that it will become a lifelong habit. I hope it will help connect me back to doing what brings me such joy – Chasing My Dreams!
Do any of you meditate? Do you participate in Lent? If you do, what are you giving up OR adding in this Lent?
We are into November, the month of Thanksgiving. Once again FB has exploded with posts of gratitude, one for each day. They are called 30 days of Thanksgiving or something similar. Because ‘Gratitude’ is a vital component in the WritersButt program, I’m all over this. It’s not like I’m not thankful all the other months of the year. I most certainly am. But in November, I make a very concerted effort to recognize something specifically unique for which I’m grateful that day and share it.
So, on Facebook this morning, a friend posted an article basically bashing this idea of sharing things publically that you are thankful for. The point of the article was that it was fine and dandy to be grateful but to share it publically could be considered bragging and might even inflict pain and suffering on others. Basically it said to keep your thanks to yourself.
What the … what??
Examples from the article suggest that if you are thankful for your children, someone reading it might be battling infertility and thus be saddened. Or if someone expresses thanks for a happy home, someone might not have a happy home life or maybe even be homeless so that little ‘gratitude’ on Facebook might plunge them into depression.
Oh, come on! That’s crazy-talk. We are not responsibly for other people’s reactions to our gratitudes in life. I derive more good feelings for things my friends and family (heck, even strangers) are blessed with. It makes me feel good to see and feel their joy. It makes me hopeful.
I’m not going to link to the article because I suspect the author might not be very happy, and maybe is finding it hard to find things for which to be thankful. So I don’t wish to inflict any negativity in that direction.
But I will offer up a challenge that I truly believe could change your life. As I’ve said many, many times in this WritersButt journey, you should be grateful every day for the things, people, and experiences in your life, big and small. Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to experience the joy of being grateful.
Now I’d like to kick it up a notch with a new challenge. Every day, make it your goal to get on someone’s gratitude list. That is to say, go about your day in such a way that you are looking for opportunities to positively effect the lives of others. These don’t have to be grand gestures. Something as small as a compliment on someone’s shoes could make someone’s day.
Don’t be stingy with your smiles. You can’t imagine how many people need to have one shine on them. The smile you share could be something they remember and give thanks for at the end of the day.
What kind of amazing effect would the world have if we all acted like this? If everyone was trying to positively impact others, consciously and specifically … the ripple effect would be astounding.
Make it your daily goal to GET ON THE LIST!
And SHARE far and wide your Gratitude. Be a part of the wave of THANKS and ride it with joy.
Today for WritersButt Wednesday, I’m going to send you off to read something. But you have to come back and talk to me! I saw a link to an article from one of my Facebook friends titled:
“10 Simple Things You Can Do Today That Will Make You Happier, Backed By Science”
Pretty hard to resist clicking that! No brainer, right? So off I went and I was thrilled to find that most of the items are components in my WritersButt program. I mean, did they see inside my brain? You know what else was totally cool? I literally do ALL of those things, in some way or another. Boom!
Let’s see how you do. Go on … READ THIS and find out. I’ll wait right here.
Hey, welcome back. Pretty cool, right? Did you notice all the WritersButt approved items there?
Exercise (fast and effective!) – Sleep – Time outdoors – Meditation – GRATITUDE!!
These are truly simple things to incorporate into your life that will help you to be happier. It’s mentioned numerous times throughout the article that doing these things also make you more productive. A happier person is also more creative. I’ve already given you tons of back-up information and studies on how exercise and sleep and even certain foods boost your creativity. All of this goes hand in hand and it’s NOT hard! It’s not time-consuming. You have nothing to lose … and your happiness, health, creativity and productivity to gain!
My challenge to you is to make sure you are actively doing at LEAST 6 items on that list, commit to a majority of them. Make it a test for one week. See if you can incorporate a minimum of 6 of the following items into you daily (that means EVERY DAY) life and see if you notice a difference.
- Exercise more: Who is still doing their potty squats? How about some fast lunges or push ups. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and just move. Come on – you can do ANYTHING for 5 little minutes!
- Sleep more: You will not get more accomplished by sleeping less. I promise. You might for a day or two, maybe even a week, but your work will suffer and so will you. Squeeze in more sleep!
- Short commute: I suspect this one will be the hardest for some to do based on life’s circumstances. My husband commutes to work and it’s at least a 2 hour drain in his day. For years he’s worked an shifted schedule to lesson the time, going into work early and trying to get out of there before the onslaught of rush-hour. Maybe your employer will work with you on this? It’s worth a shot.
- Family and Friends: Surround yourself with people who bless your life and then don’t waste any chances to be with them. You are likely blessing their life too. Life is so uncertain, don’t miss any opportunity to be with those you love.
- Go Outside: I have given you all homework to take walks before. Get outdoors. Soak up some natural vitamin D – a mood booster!! Breathe in the fresh air. Feel the breeze blow through your hair. Turn your face to the sun and absorb the warmth.
- Help Others: Make an effort to actively help others. I call this, ‘getting into their gratitude journal’. If everyone kept a gratitude journal, how often would YOU or something you did be something someone else recorded as a gratitude in their life? Make their list!
- Practice Smiling: Smile your way to happy! It’s the easiest gift to give and it’s usually reciprocated. Back up your smile with a positive thought and really let your eyes lit up with joy! Challenge – see how much people you can get to smile back at you in any given day.
- Plan a trip: I love this one and do this all the time. I get daily Living Social and Groupon emails with deals. I’m on the ‘getaway’ list and love to check out vacation getaway deals. Just putting myself on a virtual vacation calms me and makes me smile. Dream!
- Meditate: For me, this is the very hardest one because I get going so fast that I don’t force myself to slow down, physically and mentally. My mind is racing. I am going to challenge myself to find 2-5 minutes a day to settle my mind and be calm with my body. When I have done this in the past, I’ve loved it. I know it’s a learned practice so I’m going to work on this.
- Practice Gratitude: My favorite!! Keep that gratitude journal. Send a message to someone, maybe even a tweet or FB status, to tell them you are grateful to them or that you are grateful for something they did. Help make Gratitude go Viral!!
So tell me, does any of this resonate? What are you going to work on? For me, I pledge to meditate daily and to take up my gratitude journal again in addition to physically reaching out and expressing my gratitude to someone for something specific every single day.
Have a great week!
Is it really Wednesday again? Wow! I’ve been a crazy little energizer bunny, only my batteries do indeed seem to be losing some juice. I keep meaning to add in more days to my blog, outside of my WritersButt Wednesday posts, only time slips away from me.
As a matter of fact, one of the new fun things to which I’ve given some of my time is a group blog with some of my favorite people on earth, some members of my 10+ years-strong critique group. We talk writing all the time and the publishing industry and whatnot. Because we are all voracious readers in addition to being writers, we also talk reading – and books – from a writer’s perspective and we thought we’d start sharing some of our conversations with, you know, anyone who’d like to chat with us.
Our new blog is … drumroll …
Reading, Writing, Raising Hell (or Heck!)
Now doesn’t that sound fun? I can tell you we are pretty cool and we’d LOVE for you to hang out with us by following our blog, which you can do by clicking the FOLLOW button from our site. Come’on, you know you want to. We are just getting started, so help us grow and talk books and reading with us!
All that said, why in the heck have I titled today’s blog ‘It’s All in the Bones’? Well, I’m going to tell you about a serious power food, like a super-packed-nutrient-bomb that is incredibly easy to make and cheap to boot.
It’s homemade bone broth. You can make bone broth from any bones; beef, chicken, turkey, pork, fish, etc. What you are going for is the minerals and nutrients from within the bones that you can extract through long (LONG) simmering.
Here’s an excerpt from Wellness Mama’s Blog about the benefits of bone broth:
Besides its amazing taste and culinary uses, broth is an excellent source of minerals and is known to boost the immune system (chicken soup when you are sick anyone?) and improve digestion. Its high calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus content make it great for bone and tooth health. Bone broth also supports joints, hair, skin, and nails due to its high collagen content. In fact, some even suggest that it helps eliminate cellulite as it supports smooth connective tissue.
But wait – did you read that last sentence carefully? Ladies, lean in here real quick, especially if you are someone who battles ~whispers~ Cellulite. Incorporating bone broth into your regular diet may actually help get rid of that cellulite, naturally and deliciously.
The following is from Balanced Bites regarding bone broth and the support of our cells:
But fighting a cold, combating disease and healing a leaky gut aren’t all broth can help to do: Dr. Cate Shanahan, author of Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food, explains in her interview with Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness that the collagen found in home-made bone broth is a “super-food” when it comes to cellular integrity and in reducing the appearance of cellulite. Yes! There is a way to naturally, and legitimately, reduce cellulite – and it’s as simple as incorporating bone broth into your regular diet. Dr. Shanahan says that “cellulite is fat that lacks collagen support” and that “people who have more collagen in their diet… are less likely to have cellulite in their fat.” It’s not about just losing the fat – it’s about getting back to a diet that will support the structure of your cells.
How about I show you my first homemade bone broth experience. I used soup bones from the ¼ of a cow that I recently purchased from a local cattle farm called Raising 5 Cattle. It’s a family owned cattle farm right in my hometown. The herd grazes freely on their land and is grass fed and family-raised.
I diced up some veggies I planned to use.
I put the onion in the bottom on my crockpot, threw in a ton of garlic cloves and a healthy handful of whole peppercorns.
Then I filled up the crockpot with filtered water and set it on high. This was around 4 pm. I let it come to a good simmer for a while. When I went to bed, I switched the crockpot to low. We woke up to our home smelling so amazing. At that point, the water had evaporated enough that I added in the rest of my veggies.
I covered it back up and let it simmer all day. Finally, at nearly 4 pm, so about 24 hours later, I turned it off and strained it. I poured it into a stock pot through a steamer basket. Then I strained it again through a wire mesh strainer into my 8 cup Pampered Chef glass mixing bowl, filling it all the way to the top with this nutrient dense broth.
It will stay fresh in your fridge for up to a week or so, or you can freeze it for month. Once it cools in the fridge, any sediment will sink, all the fat will rise to the top (called tallow) and the broth will ‘gel’. You can use the tallow to cook. I did the other night and the family went crazy for the flavor of our chicken sausages, which I’d sautéed in the tallow.
You can use the broth in many ways. You can obviously use it simply as broth, for soup. Add in veggies, meat, etc. It would make a mean French Onion Soup. You can use the beef broth in any recipe that calls for broth as a liquid.
We have just been drinking it, from a mug. I never thought I’d see the day that I’d even type that. But it’s truly delicious and basically a mug of savory, healthy broth/soup. I scoop out the gelled broth into my mug and heat it in the microwave, then sip my super-soup!
My 15 year old son is currently in 2 theatre productions and his throat felt scratchy. He sipped him some broth on the way to school today. Such a smart boy!
So, who’s going to try it?
Are your salads suffering unnecessarily at your hands? Are you condemning them to a life of humdrum mediocrity?
Just stop. Put your hands up. And back away from the iceberg.
Now listen to me. Salads do not have to be a boring torturous part of whatever ‘diet’ to which you are currently subjecting yourself. In fact salads are a fabulous opportunity to get creative and add in so many components of healthy eating on one plate.
I eat salads all the time. I’m a bit of an expert at this point and it’s the single most often requested thing I’m asked to bring to potluck parties. And I can tell you my salads aren’t made with iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes and a waxy cucumber, smothered in some crap dressing from a jar.
Do me a favor. If you are using dressing from a jar and it’s non-fat or low-fat, DO NOT TELL ME. You will kill a part of my soul.
As I was saying, creating a healthy, fresh salad is like staring at a blank canvas with a rainbow of paints to play with – and you don’t even have to be an artist! Last week, I posted a picture of my dinner salad on Facebook and was inundated with requests for the recipe. I’m a little embarrassed because it’s not really a recipe. Because I promised, I’m going to tell you what this particular salad consisted of, but then I’m going to give you all the ingredients, like those rainbow paints, and you can mix and match to make your own masterpiece.
Fresh Romaine lettuce – Fresh Figs – Honeycrisp Apple – toasted walnuts (toasted them myself) – small sprinkling of blue cheese crumbles. Dressing: Olive Oil, white wine vinegar, cracked fresh pepper. That truly is all it was. It tasted DIVINE!
Lettuce tips: I always have some form of fresh greens on hand. I will buy romaine hearts in 3 or 6 packs. TIP: When you go to make your first salad with your romaine, wash ALL the lettuce. Use what you want that night and then roll the remaining lettuce in a clean kitchen towel (or in paper towels), spreading out the leaves so excess moisture will seep into the towel. Store in a plastic bag in your fridge. It will stay fresh all week, at least! I will also use those pre-washed containers of greens like spring mix, field greens, spinach, etc. I do find I have to use them faster before they start to spoil. TIP: If you use those and they are particularly wet inside the container, roll a few paper towels around the greens to soak up extra moisture.
The Fixin’s: This is where you really get to have some fun and please don’t limit yourself to tomatoes and cucumbers. Not that there is anything wrong with them but there is so much more out there. Mix it up – Pun Alert! Remember, not all of the ingredients have to be cold and raw. I often add in sautéed or grilled asparagus or thin green beans, or even roasted beets! They add a warm layer of something awesome, trust me.
Savory Stuff: If you’re making more of a savory salad, you can add in your tomatoes and cucumbers, but also peppers – yellow, red and orange are fab for the color, snap peas, jicama, broccoli, cauliflower … anything!
Sweet Stuff: Very often I make salads that have a sweeter side which comes from adding fruit, like berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries), mango, pineapple, or apples. In the salad I showed up above, I used fresh black mission figs.
The fruit itself is beautiful in addition to tasting delicious.
Yummy FATS: Y’all know how important it is to incorporate healthy fats into your diet. Don’t deprive yourself of them. I always dress my salads in olive oil. I love the flavor. I add in fresh avocadoes most of the time too as well as nuts. While I don’t eat cheese very often, sometimes I will indulge and when I do, it’s usually in the form of goat, feta, blue or Gorgonzola and it’s very, very little. Just enough crumbles to add that little zing!
Protein: Usually a salad is eaten as a side with some sort of protein, like a steak or grilled chicken. I’m known for making a one-bowl-meal, especially if I’m pulling together a quick lunch for myself, so I incorporate the protein into my salad. I’ve used deli meats, eggs – hard boiled, scrambled or fried, dinner leftovers like chicken, sausage, steak, turkey. This way I’m getting my protein, fats and all those fabulous carbs in the form of greens, veggies and fruits. Complete meal!
Now it’s up to you. Mix and Match, experiment, taste, toss and ENJOY!!
Tell me what’s the most unique ingredient you can think of to have in a salad. If I haven’t used it before, and I can get my hands on it, I’ll make a salad with your ingredient and post the finished result and recipe here on my blog.
Happy WritersButt Wednesday!
Whew, it’s been a while, right? Well, I have a really fun and exciting announcement today as well as the most deliciously, awesome salsa recipe I have EVER made!
Let me start with my little announcement. Remember one year ago when I presented WritersButt at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference? Then the following January, I traveled to Sacramento to meet up with fellow writer and friend, Jansen Schmidt, to present my WritersButt workshop to her RWA chapter. Well, I had a blast both those times and I’d LOVE to do more traveling and presenting. (I really would – have your people talk to my people. And by my people, I mean me.)
That said, I can’t go gallivanting off all the time. I have my house natives who want to be fed, like every day, multiple times. (What is with that?) And I have a gym to run, classes to coach. But, I also wanted a way to offer my WritersButt workshop in order to keep helping writers (or anyone!) to make that fabulous mind/body connection. To focus on their health as well as boost their creativity and productivity.
This coming January I’ll be teaching this two-week Masters Class.
My favorite part of this class description:
Prerequisite: Must be considering a change in habits to become more creative and productive.
If you are not being as creative and productive as you’d like to be, then there is something(s) in your daily routine that you are not doing in order to accomplish that. To yield different results … a CHANGE in habits HAS to happen!
It may feel a little early to be thinking about a class in January but they have put a cap on enrollment for this class. It may fill up before you or someone you know grabs a seat! I love that this class is taking place at the start of January, at the dawn of a brand new year. What better time to establish some new habits and set up for a successful and abundantly creative year!
And now – Salsa Time!
This recipe comes from Michele Tam’s Nom Nom Paleo iPad App. I’ve recommended her APP before but it bears repeating. Even if you don’t eat a strict Paleo diet, this app is amazing! I’m not kidding. It’s gorgeous, easy to navigate and jam packed with delicious recipes. Let me add that my pictures turned out blurry and just ‘eh’ … Michele’s photos make you want to lick your iPad and I bet it even tasted good. If you don’t have an iPad or don’t like to have cookbook apps, you can always follow her blog – it’s also amazing!
Nom Nom Paleo’s SALSA ROJA ASADA
1 lb tomatoes
2 medium Serrano chilis (I used 3 and 4 and it was SPICY!)
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled (or more!)
½ tsp Kosher salt
Juice from ½ a lime (I used a couple keylimes from my tree)
1 lg shallot, finely minced
¼ cup chopped cilantro (or pretty much the whole bunch)
*Broil your tomatoes (washed and whole) on high for about 10 minutes, turning half way through. You want the skins blistered and blackened, and peeling off.
*Meanwhile, roast the chili peppers and unpeeled garlic in an ungreased skillet. Turn periodically for about 15 minutes until peppers are blackened/blistered a bit and garlic is soft. (You will find that peppers will finish first, take them out and let garlic finish.)
*Once the peppers and garlic are cool enough to handle, peel garlic and cut tops off peppers. I left in all seeds and ribs because I wanted the heat. You may remove them if you don’t like things spicy.
*I threw the peppers, garlic, and kosher salt into my Ninja blender (you can use a food processor)
*Add in your blistered, roasted tomatoes.
*Pulse until desired consistency.
*Transfer salsa into a bowl and stir in your shallots and cilantro.
It gets better as it sits. OH MY GOSH – our new family favorite. Thanks Nom Nom!!
Thanks for letting me share my news with you.
Have a GREAT week everyone!
Something happened last week that made me so happy, proud and hopeful, I have to share it with you all. It’s no secret that we as a society are inundated with the message that skinny or thin means healthy. All you have to do is flip through any magazine, pop onto any infomercial channel or even glance at the ads glaring at you from your Facebook page.
Everyone is telling you they can help you ‘lose weight’!
UGH – I’m so sick of it!
It breaks my heart when I see young girls, as young as elementary and middle school, worried about ‘getting fat’, not fitting into size 0 skinny jeans and Lord forbid their thighs should touch. ACK!!
This is such a warped sense of value, it damages a person’s self-identity, sometimes forever. I used to be those girls. I made the same mistakes I see clients in my gym make all the time. I drastically reduced my caloric intake, I eliminated any form of fat and I believed a number on a scale showed my worth.
It took a very long time to overcome this self-defeating behavior and thought-process and some days, I still have to remind myself to get my thinking straight.
Now, back to what happened last week. For many months I have been giving personal training to a couple of high school athletic superstars. Both girls are absolutely beautiful inside and out, and they both happen to be genetically thin. They would be considered what many girls strive to look like. They are what I wanted to look like in high school instead of my genetically muscular self.
For months now we’ve been working on increasing their strength for their sports. They are lifting very heavy weights in the form of squats, deadlifts and working hard on Olympic weightlifting. Consequently, they have acquired a lot of lean muscle. Their newly acquired strength showed up on the fields of their perspective sports as well. This was our goal. Success!
Then last week one of them mentioned she should weigh herself because she hadn’t done so since we’d started. I had a swirl of unease twist in my gut. I tentatively warned her that if she did weigh herself, she might find that she’d gained weight.
Her reply, “I know because I’m so much stronger now.”
See Ginger’s relieved and satisfied smile.
Both the girls then proceed to tell me they’ve never had as much muscle tone and they couldn’t believe how big their legs were now. One said she had to get rid of all her shorts from last year because her butt and thighs had ‘out-grown’ them and that …
IT WAS AWESOME!
Cue the Halleluiah music!
I was so filled with pride in them, for their hard work, their effort, their commitment and their vision of what is ‘awesome’ …
Strength in body, spirit and heart.
I adore these two girls and I hope they are the new wave of what is considered healthy and beautiful. I hope they never lose it. They inspire me!
As I prepared this blog post, I ran across this article through Facebook and have to share it because it hits the nail on the head. A couple parts of the article I particularly LOVE:
“After all, we live in a society that prizes female bodies that are small and compact while still having bigger breasts (but not too big, because that’s just obscene). Women eat salads, not meat. They adhere to low-calorie diets so they can keep their “girlish” figures. Diet pills, surgery, liposuction, powders you sprinkle on your food, books and segments on daytime television, superfoods, Skinnygirl margaritas and Skinny Bitch diet books…a billion-dollar industry aimed at Fighting Fat. We are taught to believe that the content of our dinner plates dictates the content of our character.”
And the article ends with a fabulous, bang:
“We don’t need a new “skinny.” We don’t need a new beauty standard, nor do we need yet another physical ideal hanging over our every thought and move like a little black cloud of doom. What we need to do is change the paradigm so that we value our bodies for all of the amazing things they let us do. We need to expand our standards of beauty to recognize that beauty shows up in all kinds of bodies. And we need to get over this idea that the most important purpose we serve on is to be beautiful for other people. We have a right to have healthy bodies, to take up space, to have appetites, to cultivate our strengths in whatever form that may take. Our time on this planet is precious and we will never, ever get it back, so let’s stop squandering it in pursuit of meaningless ideals we will most likely never attain anyway. We deserve so much better than that.”
I can’t recommend you read this article enough and share it …. Share it wide! (no pun intended!)
And because I know you all love recipes and good food, here’s a dinner I made recently that met with overwhelming approval and clean plates!
Asian Meatballs (from Nom Nom Paleo), nestled in mashed garlic cauliflower and snuggled up with wilted garlic, lemon spinach
Asian meatballs – This recipe comes from Michele Tam’s Nom Nom Paleo iPad app. (I’ve said it before but this is the best app I have. It’s gorgeous, easy to navigate and packed with all things delicious!) You can make any sort of meatballs you like but I do recommend these!
Cauliflower: Clean and roughly chop cauliflower in evenly sized chunks. I used 2 heads. Peel about 6 cloves of garlic. (I love garlic!) Steam the cauliflower and garlic in a steamer basket until it’s soft enough to mash. You can blend in a powerful blender or do what I did which was to use a handheld mixer. I seasoned with salt and pepper and added some full fat coconut milk, from the can.
Spinach: Slice a couple garlic cloves (yes more garlic) into slivers. Sauté them in coconut oil (or fat of your choice) until they are fragrant and a bit crispy. Zest 2 lemons and add some zest to oil and garlic. Dump in a ton of fresh spinach, rest of zest and juice of both lemons. A little salt and pepper. Then toss and turn with some tongs. This will be done fast, like 30 seconds. Do not over cook it or you’ll have a very small ball of cooked spinach instead of a pan of lovely slightly wilted spinach that still has a bit of crunch left to it.
Plate and enjoy!
Eating healthy does not have to be a boring helping of broiled chicken breast sitting forlornly next to a pile of broccoli. Even though I love chicken and broccoli, it is not the only option when trying to eat healthier.
As many of you know, with a few exceptions here and there, I mainly eat a Paleo Diet. It is sometimes also called the Caveman’s diet or even a Primal Diet. Basically, you eat as our ancestors did, before we started to process our food. They ate the meat of animals they hunted or fished. They ate vegetables and fruit, which they grew. And they foraged for nuts and seeds, or whatever they could find.
Now, while I think it would be pretty nifty to have my own huge garden from which to feed to my family, I live in suburbia, it’s not happening. I also couldn’t hunt my own meats. Yes, I’m one of ‘those people’.
So, I hop into my SUV and schlep the one mile to my local grocery store and get the healthiest meats, veggies, fruits and nuts I can find.
There is a plethora of information out there about the multitude of health benefits from following the Paleo diet. So I’m not going to list them all here. I will give you a resource though that I believe is fantastic and truly recommend! It’s a book written by Diane Sanfilippo called Practical Paleo. I enjoyed this book as much for the delicious recipes as I did for the easy to digest (no pun intended) information on WHY the Paleo diet is healthy and how it can literally change your health. What I particularly loved is all information on how eating Paleo can drastically help in the struggles dealing with auto-immune issues and other disorders.
Should you want to try to incorporate the Paleo diet into your life, I have another resource for you. It’s an iPad App written by Michelle Tam called Nom Nom Paleo. You guys, this app ROCKS! I’m not kidding. Whether you want to eat ‘paleo’ or not, this is packed with delicious recipes with gorgeous pictures and easy to follow instructions. I wouldn’t lie to you.
With all that said, I’m going to give you a couple of recipes I made recently. One is a salad inspired by one I had at a fabulous local restaurant last weekend. The salad at the restaurant had seasoned grilled chicken, figs, pears, spicy walnuts and blue cheese dressed in vinaigrette. My mouth watered reading the menu and I couldn’t resist trying it. I was not disappointed. It was one of the best salads I’ve ever had and I can tell you, I eat a LOT of salads!
My version is a little different. One, we had it on one of my ‘no cook’ nights, so I borrowed a little help from my grocery store and brought home a fully cooked rotisserie turkey breast. So right away we’ve switched from chicken to turkey.
What I used:
Mixed Greens plus some romaine hearts
2 ripe Bartlett pears
Walnuts – about ¾ cup
Crumbled blue cheese (a NON-Paleo item- but I only used 3 oz for a salad feeding 5)
*I couldn’t find figs in my grocery store, so I’ll add those next time.
Dressing: red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, cracked pepper and kosher salt
Directions: I seasoned the walnuts with the tiniest amount of olive oil and then some smoked paprika and chili powder and then roasted them in a pan on my stove.
While I kept a close eye on my walnuts, I chopped and dumped all the other ingredients into a large salad bowl. I added the warm nuts when they were done, sprinkled on some vinegar, seasonings and drizzled the oil and tossed!
Next I’m going to walk you through the steps I took to make the most delicious ‘breakfast for dinner’ that we had last night. I got the idea for the eggs nested in the avocado from Michelle’s Nom Nom Paleo App I mentioned above. It worked perfect!
Ingredients on hand:
Eggs – free range, farm fresh, organic … the best you can get if possible.
2 large avocados – washed because peel will remain on them for cooking
baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
fresh tomato, chopped
fresh baby spinach
Slice your avocados in half. Then make another slice about ½ inch on either side, all the way around, so that when you take out the pit, you’ll have an avocado ring with a hole in the middle.
Heat some fat in a pan (coconut oil, butter) and put in your avocado rings. Then surround your rings with mushrooms so they can sauté at the same time.
Crack an egg into the center of each of your avocado rings.
Add your chopped tomatoes to your mushrooms around the edge of the pan.
When you eggs have set a bit, flip the entire egg-filled avocado slice over to cook the other side.
*NOTE: if you like your yolks runny, like sunny side up, you can ‘tent’ or cover your pan and not flip the avos!
As the eggs finish cooking, sprinkle the fresh spinach over your mushrooms and tomatoes so it can wilt a bit.
Transfer to a plate and truly ENJOY!!
I interrupt the regularly scheduled WritersButt Wednesday post to ask you a burning question. And by burning, I mean raw, itchy, strawberry-allergy-nose, question.
A friend of mind who shall remain nameless, and it’s definitely not Liz Jasper, believes that Kleenex tissue with lotion is the best option for chronic dripping. I disagree completely. I firmly believe the only tissue that shall be allowed to wipe my tender allergy nostrils is Puffs Plus with Lotion.
You all have to help me set her straight. Tell Liz which tissue is best and make sure you answer Puffs Plus with Lotion.
And to make sure you feel sorry for me, so that you’ll absolutely agree with me, here’s a little video that clearly demonstrates what I’ve been doing since last week and only subsides if I self-induce an antihistamine fog complete with glassy, vacant eyes.
Something just happened in my day that compelled me to write this blog. I love how the universe works sometimes. Before I get into my story, I have a question for you all. In the past 16 months of WritersButt Wednesday, I have shared quite a lot of information with you on health, fitness and nutrition and how they can positively impact your creativity. When I come upon some nugget of inspiration or what I think is helpful information, I share it with you. I love sharing my family recipes with you. And I’ll never tire of inspiring you, if I can, to add more movement and fitness into your day.
What I want to know is … What do YOU want? I’d love to know what you’d like me to blog about in relation to health and creativity. Do you want more workouts? Do you want to learn more about healthy eating? More recipes, and if so, what kind are you most interested in? My goal with this weekly segment is to help, support and encourage you to live your life in the healthiest way possible to support your creative endeavors. This applies for all my writing friends, or other artists, or just anybody looking to become more fit and healthy.
So, if you have a topic you’d like for me to cover, or cover more thoroughly … let me know!
Now, back to what inspired me today. I had a phone conversation with a new CrossFit client who is going to start this week. She was so enthusiastic and friendly on the phone that I’m really looking forward to meeting her, and told her so. I even called my husband to tell him we have a really fun woman who will start this week.
This woman, why don’t I call her ‘Mary’, informs me that we have some common acquaintances, some clients and a couple friends. I remark that one of them is a very good friend of mine. Less than an hour after our conversation, Mary sends me a text thanking me for the encouragement and then tells me what a blessing I have in having one of our common acquaintances as a friend.
She proceeds to describe my friend using words like: genuine, kind, good and with a tender, precious heart.
I could not have agreed more with her assessment of my friend. It made me feel even more blessed to call this woman one of the dearest people in my life. It also made me think so highly of Mary … to reach out to an almost perfect stranger to shower another with kind words. What an amazingly giving thing to do, a gift from the heart. The first thing I wanted to do was tell my friend of these kind words, not only because they are true because I know it will make her feel wonderful.
It also made me consider how I live my life and how I impact others. What would someone say of me? I can be opinionated (and I don’t mind sharing them!), bossy, sarcastic and stubborn. I don’t think these traits are all bad, mind you, as long as they are controlled and never aim to hurt others. I do actively work at this.
But when I read Mary’s compliments, it made me want to be a better person, the best person I can be. It made me view myself through others’ eyes. That is not to say that I would live my life solely to gain approval or compliments from others. Not in the least in fact. But it did make me see myself from a different perspective and take note. Do my outward actions and words represent who I am inside? I believe you can be yourself, true and honest, and still offer genuine kindness and consideration and respect to those around you, like my friend does.
I’m going to try to be the sort of person who would receive the same kind of appraisal as my friend so richly deserved.
What about you? Have you ever thought about how others view you? Does is change how you act, your choice of words or how you interact with other people? Do you have someone in your life who makes you want to be a better person?
I can tell you, it’s given me something to think about.