Just Another Storm

All that panicking over Hurricane Irma was for nothing, folks.  We have lots of water to drink, which won’t be a problem, and BOY am I glad we didn’t buy anything else in bulk.  Thankfully we never even lost power.  That said, being stuck inside with hubs and kids for a couple of days, I was probably more in danger of losing my sanity.

Menu:  Vegan-ize all the things!  After my second bout of stomach flu in about a month (I know, right?!) I decided to go into “Immunity Improvement Mode” and eat all the fruits and veggies I could get my hands on.  I generally feel better when I cut out meat, which I do a few times per year, sometimes for weeks and sometimes as longs as 6 months.  Normally I do it as a cleanse or as a way to raise my energy and vibration.  Try it, it works!  Even the mood is lifted, which I think has something to do with the hormones in our food and the emotions of the animals before and during their slaughter.  I know what you’re thinking and yes, I’m basically the Mister Wizard of nurition.  Sha-zam!  [All of that said, I’m really not promoting one way of eating or lifestyle over another and I don’t call myself vegan at any time because it’s offensive to people who actually live it 100%.]

Music:  Tchaikovsky!  Particularly the Sleeping Beauty Ballet.  If you’ve never heard or seen it, that’s basically a crime against humanity and your parent and/or guardian should be punished.  Allow me to rectify this situation:

Also, I learned this week that the song in Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, when Aurora is singing in the woods, “I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream…” is from Tchaikovsky’s Ballet.  Isn’t that cool?  Yes it is.

Travel:  The Great Wall of China has just been added to the list.  As I type this, though, I’m reminded how badly I’d like to go and see Hadrian’s Wall, which stretches across parts of Ireland and England and has great historical significance as well.  It’s also the wall seen in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.  Hmm.  Which Wall?  I guess it depends on where Kevin Costner is at the time?

 

Gym Rat:  I took a break this week and did mostly yoga and sleep. It was glorious.

Soul: With Hurricane Irma being in the forefront of everyone’s minds this week, I wondered (out loud) whether in times of crisis people are more or less in tune with each others needs.  I think both are true. Some of us are natural caregivers, so when disaster strikes we are even more empathic than usual.  Others of us are selfish, and panic amplifies that selfishness to a degree that makes it difficult for us to even see other people.  Just my opinion, though.

Dreams:  Nothing I’d like to share this week.

Photographing:  Also nothing to share.  (What? We were prepping for a storm!)

Movies and TV:  Law and Order: SVU and all the marathons on all the channels.  What can I say? I love it.

Library:  Aside from GQ magazine, not much.  The current issue has an interesting interview with Steven Soderbergh and a pretty good profile on Robert Pattinson.  Both of them are pretty talented and I enjoyed reading.

Tech: Two new apps this week: Stone, which is fascinating and wonderful and very, very useful if you are into and own a lot of gemstones (which I do).  Stone is a user-friendly guide to gemstones, with photos, historical factoids, and what each gem can be used for.  The other is Golden Thread Tarot.  It’s a fun digital tarot deck that does much more than just give general readings.  It explains each card and even allows the user to log and journal about cards and readings.  I don’t know anything about tarot, and I like being able to choose emotions to go with my daily card, like “hope” or “frustration” and knowing I can later search for cards or readings by emotion.

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Nuun, Ruuns, and Fuun

Hi Guys!

I’ve been absent for a while, I know.  Here’s a quick update:

I’m now a Brand Ambassador for Nuun Hydration and I LOVE it.  I’m currently training for fitness only and varying my running surfaces more.  Treadmill, road, and trail.  I am also using the stair machine a few times a week to gain strength in my hamstrings and glutes.  I can tell a difference after a couple of months of consistently doing this.  My legs are more powerful and I can run a bit faster.

In addition to working full-time, I have a 7 year-old scientist and a 1 year-old bulldozer who share my space (and most of my food).  Life in our home is CRAZY.  With Summer fast approaching, I hardly have 2 minutes to myself, let alone time to write.  PLEASE STAY TUNED ANYWAY!  I will be launching a series of book reviews soon, so you won’t want to miss it! (And thanks for your support.)

Also on the way: A recipe series starring my son, who is an aspiring chef/astronaut/storm trooper.

Music for the day: Anything from the Revivalists Pandora station. SO good.

Book I’m reading: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

Thought for the week:  Let the fire inside you burn brighter than the fire around you.

MAKE TODAY GREAT!  LEAVE ME SOME LOVE IF YOU FEEL SO INCLINED.

 

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Chocolate Chip “PanCrepes”

Most of my ‘best’ dishes happen by accident.  I love feeling like a mad scientist in the kitchen – creating, substituting, and usually not measuring or following any specific recipe.  I call it ‘guerrilla baking’ in jest, but in truth it’s the most freeing way for me to cook.  Tonight I made something in between pancakes and crepes, using applesauce instead of vegetable oil (blech) and Ghirardelli semi-sweet morsels.

My husband sent me a “Good News!” text, and once I heard what the good news, I decided to celebrate.  Hence, cooking with chocolate.  What makes a heart (or tummy) happier on a cold winter’s night than something buttery, gooey, and chocolatey?  I certainly can’t think of anything.

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So I put a pat of Plugra Unsalted butter (my favorite, hands-down) and got to work.  These are the result. They are not as thin as crepes, not as fluffy as pancakes, just the right ‘in-between’ of sweet and savory, with melted chocolate in the middle. They may not be pretty, but my taste buds are not complaining.   I don’t have a recipe, though if I did I might not share it, as I like to keep my Franken-Dishes to myself.*

These ARE vegetarian – they ARE NOT vegan but could easily be modified.  (Which I may do for myself tomorrow!)

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*Alright, boys and girls – after several requests I’m going to post a ‘rough’ version of the non-recipe:

1/2 C milk or non-dairy milk

1/2 C all purpose flour

dash of baking powder

pinch of salt

pinch of cinnamon

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp applesauce (or vegetable oil)

1 Tbsp butter or margarine (you really want to use butter here)

1 large egg

Any chocolate you like.  Dark chocolate will give a more bitter taste, so if you want sweet go with milk or semi-sweet chocolate. You could also add vanilla (I was out).

Preheat a pan or skillet and drop a small ‘pat’ of butter.  (Just a LITTLE bit is fine – this adds flavor and thins out the batter a little.) Mix wet ingredients in a bowl. (Egg, butter, applesauce).  Whisk together, then add dry ingredients.  Mix well (mixer not needed, just do it by hand.)   Pour batter in pan as you like – I started small to ‘test’ then got bigger.  Makes 4-6 PanCrepes.

My Growing Vegan Pantry

(Not to be confused with the following post at Oh She Glows:

My Vegan Pantry

However that one is one of my favorite blog posts, ever, and I highly recommend viewing it.)

I am pretty committed to meatless eating.  This way of eating is not exactly new to me, in fact it’s my “default” get-well from a cold diet, feel better when I’m in a slump diet, clear up my skin diet, sleep better diet, faster workout recovery diet, make sure I’m regular diet… it’s THE best way to eat, I am sure of it.  WHY it’s taken me so long to make it permanent, I couldn’t say.

The commitment part of this is new to me.  I’m used to storing away thoughts, way in the back of my mind, that I can have diet soda any time.  I can eat a big, juicy hamburger if I want to.  I don’t know why this kind of thinking comforts me, but it does.  I guess it’s because of the freedom – or perception of freedom – is something I need psychologically.  Breaking away from that will be challenging, but it’s helped by how good I feel being vegan.

The more I eat this way, the better I feel.  Physically, see above.  Lots of benefits almost immediately.  Internally, spiritually you might say, I feel lighter. I feel enlightened. I feel joy.  There is some serious smiling going on over here, and sometimes I can’t even help or explain it.  Yes, I’m sure it’s because of cutting out animal products but no, I cannot explain how I know that.  Just take my word for it.

So tonight I took a couple of pictures.  The first one is a cell phone picture of the “beginning” of my new pantry.  Here it is:

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Tri-color couscous, wild rice, quinoa, oats.

I am SUPER excited about this.  Perhaps disproportionately so.  I took the next couple of photos while preparing my food for work tomorrow:

Banana, kiwi, orange, and medjool dates.
Banana, kiwi, orange, and medjool dates.

This is my afternoon snack.  It’s fresh and alive, full of nutrition and nourishment.  As much fruit as I might have eaten in 2 or 3 days before.

Steamed green beans, ripped spinach leaves, kidney beans, steamed zucchini and steamed squash, tomatoes, and some Amy's veggie soup on top.
Steamed green beans, ripped spinach leaves, kidney beans, steamed zucchini and steamed squash, tomatoes, and some Amy’s veggie soup on top.

This is my lunch.  With these two combined I’m eating 10-12 different types of NOURISHING, nutritious, plant foods.  Now, as these photos illustrate, I am what I have come to call “guerilla vegan”.  Meaning, my style is less organized and more, “throw lots of flavors in a bowl and wolf it down”.  I don’t slice precisely, I don’t measure or count anything, which I think is fantastic. That’s just what I do, I know everyone has their own style, but this works for me.

This weekend I hope to get out and pick up more vegan “staples” and start organizing my spice rack.  One of the best things about eating vegan or vegetarian that I’ve yet to mention?  The cooking.  OH, the culinary places you’ll GO!  Places you never even knew existed or that previously only existed in your wildest imagination.  At least, this has been my experience.

So… what’s in your pantry?  What’s your “go to” staple?  What’s the best “quickie” veggie meal?  What is the one item you can’t live without?  If you are vegan or vegetarian, what has been the biggest benefit?  How have you stayed on track?  Do you think there are any drawbacks to this way of eating or lifestyle?  I love comments.  Leave me some.

It’s What’s Inside That Counts ?

“Who are you, really?”

I ask this person in the mirror, who asks me the same question.  I think she’s mocking me.

There is a battle waging within me, between my heart and my head.  It’s about my job.  It’s about my purpose.  It’s about quitting my job and finding my purpose.  My heart says “FIND YOUR BLISS!  FOLLOW YOUR PASSION!” while my head screams, “PAY YOUR BILLS! PASSION DOESN’T BUY GROCERIES!”  (Which, in most instances, is true.)

Can I please have both?  Is there a way to make a career out of something I love?

The job I’m in now, I’ve been in for 5 months.  It’s fine.  It DOES fulfill certain things I felt I was lacking, such as a solid group of girlfriends, and helping people.  However it is too “full time” for me, too mundane for my bohemian-mommy lifestyle.

What kind of job is ideal for me?  The kind that offers freedom.  The kind where I create.  Make.  Express.  So… writing, cooking (especially baking), painting, crafts and using my hands, photography…even pottery if I knew how to do that.  A job that feels creative and free and that is like an extension of myself.

Lately I’m reading lots of abundance materials. Law of attraction. Motivation, inspiration, emails and newsletters about being who you were MEANT TO BE.  I am so inspired by them.  At the same time, I feel like I am having an internal crisis.  Society tells me that if I want a new home, I have to slave for 30 years and then buy it.  I can’t just ask for it.  The unwritten rule book of “the way it is and always has been” states  that I must go to work Monday through Friday from 7-5 and sit at my desk and answer the phone and earn my [meager] paycheck and be content with that.

My soul is asking me to jump off a cliff and I can’t see what’s at the bottom.  I’m a planner, a list-maker, I check my bank balance each morning before I head out the door.  I like preparation.  How can I just trust and take the leap?  How do I even know where to jump?

I know that all the greatest figures in history MADE history because they were brave, willing to step out into the unknown and live the life they’d always imagined [paraphrasing Thoreau, whose Walden is one of my favorite, most refreshing reads].  I want that for myself. I think am ready to be who I really am.

Please comment if you’ve got advice or stories or anything to share.

The Meat of the Matter

Reading the title causes me to immediately sing (in my head) “The Heart of the Matter” by Don Henley, except with the word meat in it.  Anyone else?  Bueller?

Moving on…

Primal/Paleo is difficult for me some days.  I crave potato chips when I’m watching a movie with my family.  Stress makes me want to pick up some french fries and ice cream and lose myself in their salty, sweet, carb-filled comfort.  I walk past the bakery and the scent of baguettes stops me, mid-stride.  The smell is enough to make me weak in the knees and question my resolve.  Thankfully, some days (the majority, I’d say) are easy.

Today my husband was home for lunch, so we had sirloin cooked in Plugra butter (the BEST butter, if you ask me) with fresh steamed green beans.  There was dark chocolate after.

Today was an easy day.  Today was delicious, squared.

Two gorgeous hunks of cow.
Two gorgeous hunks of cow.

When I looked in my thesaurus at synonyms for “meat”, I found words like “core”, “crux”, and “essence”.  Fitting, I thought, since meat really is the center of a Primal dieter’s food pyramid.  Protein and fats, amino acids, iron, all found naturally in steak and all good reasons to include it in your weekly meal plan.  I have found that without the extra starches, my runs are easier, my sinus issues have disappeared, and my skin is less acne-prone.  Beyond that, the thing that astounds me, is that my recovery after hard workouts is off the charts.  I ran sprints this morning, and I’m getting faster and faster at it, and my body is adapting incredibly well.  I don’t have that “thickness” in my chest, I’m not gasping for air, in between sets.  As a woman, I feel compelled to mention that my belly looks much less bloated than it used to.  I know that’s superficial, but hey, nobody wants to put on their jeans to find that they look pregnant (when they aren’t), you know?

The perfect lunch?
The perfect lunch?

Now, I’ll admit, most of my life I have identified as a “meat and potatoes” girl.  This is still true.  I love meat.  I love potatoes.  I grew up eating celebratory dinners with my parents, family, and friends, at various steakhouses.  I always got a big steak and I always ordered a baked potato on the side.  However, asked to choose between the two for the rest of my life, steak is the obvious choice.  A good steak is an amazing thing.  It’s so filling and satisfying, I don’t even miss the potatoes.  A good baked potato, even with lots of toppings, without a good steak, on it’s best day is just “meh”.   Am I right?

I’m enjoying all this cooking.  I’m thrilled to have found something that satisfies my foodie taste-buds, satisfies my nutritional needs as an athlete, and satisfies my vanity as a woman.  If you’re thinking about trying Primal Blueprint, go for it.  The benefits far outweigh a few potatoes.  Or breadsticks. Or bagels…

Calamity Cookies

Sounds exciting, right?  Ooh, I promise, they are!

This evening after dinner my husband decided to cut the grass.  Our lawn is rather large, so I knew it would take him a while, and I figured I’d use my free time to bake something.  Usually, the mood to bake strikes at a time when I am not able to go to the store, and tonight was no different.  As a result, I end up foraging in the pantry and fridge to see what I can put together.  This accidental mash-up just happens to be a masterpiece.

Here are the ingredients I found and mixed together.  I didn’t do any exact measuring, sorry. I don’t really cook that way.

Calamitous Ingredients
Calamitous Ingredients

[Preheat oven to 350 degrees.] I started with one medium-ripe banana, mashed with a fork.  Add some oats.  Eyeballed, I’d call it 1/2 cup.  Sprinkle some cinnamon, because I put cinnamon in everything.  Cut up some Green and Black’s Organic 85% Dark Chocolate, wipe drool from face, wash hands, continue.

Mmm...chocolate
Mmm…chocolate

Add a generous serving – maybe 2 tsp – of Agave nectar.  [Not pictured is a packet of nuts from a popular fast food chain.  It was really just a handful of pecans, so I chopped them up and added.]   As the ingredients fall into the bowl, this mixture already smells amazing.  I don’t really love the idea of chewing raw oats, otherwise I probably would have just eaten it all with big spoon, no baking required.

Smells even better than it looks.
Smells even better than it looks.

I suppose you could put these on parchment paper, if that’s your thing, but like I said before these were spur-of-the-moment fluke cookies, so I just lightly sprayed a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and scooped them out.  I ended up with 6 cookies.  Perfect.  Five for me, one for husband if he finishes mowing the lawn in time.  Maybe.

Before baking
On the cookie sheet and ready to go.

Place the cookie sheet with these divinely aromatic balls of sweet misadventure into the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes.  Mine took closer to 15 minutes.  Be careful not to leave them in too long expecting them to harden like cookies do.  These are made of banana.  They are supposed to be squishy.  Scoop onto a rack or plate and allow to cool [if you can stand the wait.]  Me, I ate one piping hot and it was worth the burn on my lip.

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I must say, particularly for something I didn’t mean to do, these “Calamity Cookies” are one of my finest culinary achievements.   Pros: they took all of about 20 minutes, start to finish.  There’s virtually no clean-up.  And the nutrition!  These cookies are totally healthy, great for kids’ snack or for when friends pop over.  I made sure to scribble on a notepad a rough estimate and description so that I can make them again one day.  Oh, and if you’re wondering, Husband did finish his chores in time to try one.

A photo of deliciousness.
A photo of deliciousness.