My New Year’s Resolutions

Not everyone believes in resolutions and some would say they are detrimental because they set us up for disappointment when they don’t last.  But I love any time of year that makes us stop to look at ourselves and make conscious choices about where we want to go. As I look back on 2012 and see how much I’ve experienced and learned,  I am  grateful for all the amazing things that transpired and came my way.  I now look ahead with hope, optimism, and  intent on growing and enjoying life even more.

2013 is your year to create the life you want!

2013 is your year to create the life you want!

Some of my new year’s resolutions are:

1. Practice Patience. This is a big one for me. It seems to be the area where all my lessons originate. Whether it’s an injury that won’t leave my body quickly enough, planting seeds and waiting for them to sprout, or the  elusive search for my ideal job.  I am always being taught to “Wait and be Patient….”

My long awaited moonflower

My long awaited moonflower I started from seed

2. Explore new foods: Hemp seeds, acai berries, cacao powder, macha tea, and more local, seasonal foods. I keep meaning to try all these amazing foods I learn about so this year I will experiment more with new foods.

My awesome neighborhood farmers market

My awesome neighborhood farmers market

3. Smile more. For no reason.

My happy chihuahua

My happy chihuahua

4. Invest in myself. This is also a big lesson for me. I sometimes overly tighten my budget and do without things I really want or need in the name of “saving for a rainy day”.  Hoarding of any sort simply blocks the energy from flowing freely to come into our lives. It also promotes fear which is a huge block to ALL good stuff coming our way.

Energy flows in our lives as freely as water in nature

Energy flows in our lives as freely as water in nature

5. Get rid of things I no longer use. I do this several times a year but every time I do it I am reminded how GREAT it feels to clear out stuff and create space. I don’t believe in holding on to things that no longer “feel good” in my life. Instead of stashing them in a hidden closet like I sometimes do, I will remove them permanently to create space for new and better things.

What are your hopes and intentions for yourself in 2013?

Post Christmas Clean-up

Christmas has come and gone and we are now left with the few remaining days of 2012. Soon we will begin a new year, a fresh start, and the long winter season of introspection.  Like most, over the holidays I indulged in things that my body isn’t used to: white flour, red meat, sugar, alcohol….and am now feeling the effects. I feel bloated, sluggish and heavy. Granted, my portions were small and I treated these foods as a “treat” not a staple of my diet, but still my body is craving my normal clean eating. I am literally dreaming of fresh colorful fruits and vegetables…… 

I want to live here for awhile....

I want to live here for awhile….

The last couple of days I’ve drank more water than usual, had a daily green smoothie, and have cut back on my portion sizes. I’ve had fish, nuts, seeds, squash, broccoli, greens, oats and apples. I’ve also gotten a lot of sleep by going to bed early. I want to go into the new year feeling clean and light. When our body is light, our mind and spirit can be light as well. I honor the new year by reflecting on the past and intending for the future. I’ve come to love my ritual of writing down goals, intentions and hopes on a fresh clean sheet of white paper every new year’s eve. For me it’s a powerful time to create what direction I want my life to take and also to let go of what no longer serves me. Yoga is a great way to do this as well. In fact, yoga on new year’s eve might just be a great new tradition!

How are you preparing physically, mentally, and emotionally for this transition?

Apple Cranberry Crisp

Happy Holidays!

My gift to you is this cleaned up version of old-fashioned apple crisp. You’re welcome!  The original recipe appeared in Clean Eating Magazine and I modified it to fit the ingredients I had on hand. I also added in cranberries for color and tartness.

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Thinly slice 5 baking apples, I used fuji. I always leave the peel on after washing well. Mostly because I am too lazy to peel all that fruit plus I think it’s pretty.

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Mix apple slices with the juice of 1/4 lemon, 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup and cinnamon and nutmeg. The lemon keeps the apples from browning. Make sure you are using 100% PURE maple syrup and not the stuff on the store shelves that is corn syrup with fake maple flavoring and artificial color. Real syrup is more expensive but it will change your world and pancakes forever.

Set apples in a baking dish and top with fresh cranberries. I used about one cup.

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Combine 1 cup rolled oats, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup turbinado sugar. I actually think this is too much sugar so next time I will cut it back to 1/2 or 3/4. I don’t like fruit desserts overly sweet.

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Add 2 egg whites and 2 tablespoons melted butter.  I rarely cook with butter but when I do, I make sure to use real butter, not margarine or other fake “spread” made from hydrogenated fat and chemicals.

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I added chopped walnuts and gently mixed all ingredients. Spread topping evenly over apple/berry mixture and bake for 45 minutes in 350 degree oven.

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It came out Delicious!! Moist, crumbly, sweet and tart.

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Have a healthy holiday! Christmas dinner posts coming soon- I’m very excited about what I will be preparing.

Winter Greens

The coldest day of December so far- this morning was 32 degrees outside and windy. Inside the farmer’s market was even colder, only a few of the stands were up and running. There was a lot of citrus fruit and packaged nuts but I was looking for the local, in-season vegetables.

Right away I spotted this awesome fresh broccoli grown within miles.

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Home grown broccoli tastes better than the tight store-bought kind for some reason. I picked the stems with as many green leaves still attached, I like to use those too.

The next stand had 2 favorites- Freshly picked kale and homegrown spinach!

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Both of these excited me enough to stand in the freezing cold and dig through for the darkest foliage.

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Why do I get so excited about fresh greens???
1. They are FULL of phytonutrients- living cells that promote LIFE

2. Greens provide us with more calcium than milk and our bodies are able to absorb it better.

3. Great source for Folic acid, Vitamin C, and Fiber

4. I love supporting local farmers/gardeners and I love knowing where my food came from. The shorter the route from the ground to the body is always a good goal.

These will be great in my smoothies and also sauteed with coconut oil.

Savory Turkey Meatloaf

Even though our weather is mild for this time of year my body craves warmth and protein. If we eat with the seasons, as nature intended, it makes sense to begin to build up stores of energy for the winter by eating root vegetables, dark greens and animal protein. The earth provides us what our body needs to function for every season throughout the year.

I made this meatloaf the other day and was reminded of my childhood growing up in Minnesota where meatloaf was a staple of our bland, yet hearty, midwestern diet. We never used ground turkey though, that would’ve been pushing the envelope. I still have the old mixing bowl our family used forever ago.

I love this retro bowl!

I started with a fresh ground turkey blend of white and dark meat. All white is too lean and dry for meatloaf and burgers. I added 1 egg, chopped onions, chopped garlic, a dash of tamari and red pepper flakes.

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I add whole grain oats for texture and fiber. In the garden I found some Sage, Parsley and Oregano and snipped those up as well.

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I smashed it all down into a baking dish, covered with foil and put in oven at 350 for about an hour.

I paid homage to my midwestern roots with a squirt of ketchup on top

I paid homage to my midwestern roots with a squirt of ketchup on top

It came out firm and juicy- just like I remembered, but with way less grease than ground beef. It’s also less expensive to eat seasonally and not pay for imported, out of season produce or products. The cost of the turkey was just over $8.00, the vegetables around $5.00. I got 4 servings of this meal for under $15.00.

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I served with golden acorn squash, rutabaga and kale with roasted pumpkin seeds. A perfect pre-winter dinner!

3/4 of the plate is vegetables, meat is a side-dish

3/4 of the plate is vegetables, meat is a side-dish

Happy Winter Solstice!

5 ways to get better sleep

When I started to experience insomnia this last fall I took immediate steps to fix it. Sleep is one of my favorite things in life. I mean the good quality, deep, not-waking-up at 3am kind of sleep. That’s when our bodies renew cells, build and repair muscle tissue and take care of all the inner workings of our amazing bodies.  It’s been recommended that 7-8  hours is  the amount of sleep we need per day but everyone is different. Listen to your body and begin to notice the natural rhythms of sleep. During times of stress, both physical and mental, it’s a good idea to get more rest than usual. The following things have worked for me:

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1. Prepare your body for rest. Eliminate caffeine in coffee, tea and chocolates late in the day. Read how I quit coffee here. Sip some warm herbal tea a couple of hours before bed. Chamomile is a good choice or I love “Sleepy Time” blend by Celestial Seasonings. The herbs will relax your nervous system and the warm water will relax your body. Avoid eating too much before bed, the digestive process will spike your blood sugar and cause restless sleep. If you are hungry try a spoonful of cottage cheese, yogurt or some raw almonds. Incorporate some gentle stretching and yoga breath into the end of your evening.

2. Avoid mental stimulation. Turn off the phone, television and/or computer at least 30-60 minutes before going to bed. And if you have a TV in the bedroom, consider removing it for good.  Watching TV in bed may FEEL relaxing but the reality is it can cause insomnia, not to mention nightmares if you watch the news.  Computers give off light that stimulates the brain and increases alertness so shut it down early. Avoid mental stimulation that may cause stress. Instead, listen to relaxing music and do some gentle stretching.

Don’t most cats like to stay up all night? Not a good bed partner choice

3. Keep pets out of the bedroom.  Most people love to cuddle and sleep with their furry friends but nothing has changed my sleep more than giving my pets their own room. My night is now not interrupted with  dream-barking and clawing, digging in the sheets, odd smells, or licking and grooming. Pet fur and dander can also exacerbate allergies. I know this one is sadder than removing the TV but it works!

My dream gypsy bedroom

My dream gypsy bedroom

4. Create a comfortable, clean sleep sanctuary.  Flip your mattress every 6 months, launder bedding often, pick up clutter from the bedroom space.  Keep your bedroom cool and dark. Too much heat or just a little light can disrupt sleep patterns or wake you up. I turn my thermostat down before going to bed and make sure all lights are off.

5. Begin a night-time ritual. Any repeated activity done before bed that signals your brain this is the time to prepare for sleep. I began using lavender oil every night on my skin. When getting into bed I rub several drops on my temples, wrists, and neck while listening to some meditative music. Lavender is relaxing and calming and the ritual itself is a nice way to unwind.  It could be a warm bath, prayer or meditation, or light reading. Anything that becomes a habit will trigger sleep.

Let me know if you have favorite ways to get a good sleep

High Protein Pancakes

I like to say “Food is fuel, not entertainment” and these are definitely a good example of that.  Of course everyone is familiar with the old-fashioned pancakes made with butter, white flour, sugar, etc. But those are a thing of my past. They always left me sluggish, fatigued and hungry quickly. I now eat clean and feed my body what it needs to function, build and repair muscle, and feel great. Try these before a workout and see how well they sustain you.

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In a blender combine:

2 scoops whole oats (blend on high to create a powder)

1 scoop protein powder (I use whey vanilla flavor)

1/2 scoop whole wheat flour

1 heaping tablespoon cottage cheese

1 egg

dash of cinnamon

coconut milk or water to moisten. Amount will very depending on how thin/think you like your pancakes.

Blend all on high and pour onto HEATED skillet/griddle

Serve with  any of the following: fruit, agave, honey, sliced bananas, walnuts, almonds, greek yogurt.

These are packed with protein and whole grains that will keep you full for hours. Just be careful how much sweetener you use so that your blood sugar doesn’t go all whacky while you’re in the middle of your workout.

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