Holiday Love

Sharing the spirit of Love with all of you this Holiday Season!

Christmas Love

Christmas is over and for me it came and went without a lot of fanfare. It was a quiet day spent with those I love and we enjoyed some delicious home-cooked food and presents, of course. I got a beautiful bell to use for yoga. I am starting a little collection of chimes and bells it seems. I think the Universe is sending me these things as a sign.

chimes and bellls

I met some new friends, saw some old friends and listened to a TON of Christmas music.

I baked and baked and baked and shared the goodies with friends, family, and neighbors.

I bought a tiny tree that I plan on keeping as a houseplant. I know Norfolk pines are fussy and can get dry, but I am hopeful. I would like to keep this guy for awhile.

norfolk pine

And now it’s back to teaching, yoga, writing, coaching, and working to take CreateWholeHealth to the next level. But I never really stop doing any of those things, even when on holiday. To me, it’s a lifestyle, it’s a love, it’s who I am; I’ve never thought of it as a job. I keep thinking “I should get a real job” but then nothing sounds as fun and exciting as what I’m doing right now- so here I go!

It’s ok to not always try so hard to be somewhere that we aren’t. Sometimes where we are is exactly where we are supposed to be……

Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Love

~Carole-Ann~

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Holiday Baking Love

This year I decided to bake some homemade Christmas gifts for friends. As usual, most everyone expects something super healthy from me: “Is it gluten free?” “Is it vegan?” “Are these whole wheat?” And the answer to all of those was “Nope”. I wanted to go old school and make holiday classics with simple, real ingredients like sweet cream butter, eggs, sugar, flour, and spices. I wanted to bake everything with love and intention and hand deliver them. To me, those things are just as healthy as omitting certain ingredients from our diets.

I believe that how we FEEL about the food we eat and how we FEEL while we are eating it is an important component in how we digest and react to certain ingredients. I’m not saying some people don’t have allergies or sensitivities to different foods, but something causes those reactions and our state of mind and attitude contribute greatly to our overall health on all levels, including digestion.

sweet cream butter

The first 2 of these recipes is from theKitchen, an awesome blog I subscribe to that always has tons of interesting recipes and cute interior design stuff too.

Snickerdoodles were my first batch. I love the simple sugar and cinnamon flavor of these and I know it’s an all-time favorite of a lot of people. Plus the name is fun!

snickerdoodles

Then I made Irish Shortbread Toffee Bars which I chose because the recipe was found in an old (1950’s?) cookbook from my town. I felt like a true junior league-er as I pressed out the crust and stirred away at the warm caramel filling. Spreading the warm chocolatey topping on was sort of meditative too.

shortbread toffee bars

These hardened up just enough to stay together and be firm. Half candy, half cookie.

shortbread toffee bar

My next recipe was Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies from the Minimalist Baker which features really healthy recipes. This recipe was gluten free so I went to the original source which was none other than Martha Stewart.

Mmmmmmm these are exactly what I envisioned- warm, chewy, soft, and buttery.

chocolate chip cookies

What made these extra good was the vanilla I used that I got in Mexico in the spring. It was SO strong and sweet that it gave them a different flavor. And I used dark chocolate chips rather than milk chocolate.

christmas baked goods

Packed and ready to be delivered with love to the lucky recipients! Please check out both of these wonderful blogs- they are definitely worth subscribing to if you love to cook.

PS Yes, of course I sampled. But now I am ready to get these out of my house they are SO good!

10 Things to Love about the Season

1. The Winter Solstice is a time of returning light. This means after Dec 22nd the days will once again start getting longer and daylight will begin to increase.

winter solstice

2. Things slow down….or they should this time of year. We have extra time off work to celebrate the season and rest. Use this time to slow it down and draw inward as nature does, rather than inviting more chaos into your precious time. Read here on how to not self-sabotage during the holidays.

snowy meditation

3. Hearty, Warming Foods. Slow roasted root vegetables, thick stews, hot soups, and savory meats are all winter foods that give us grounding energy and stability. Enjoy the warmth of these.

homemade chicken noodle soup

4. Reconnecting with old friends. Christmas gatherings, parties, or cards allow us to catch up with friends and family we may not see other times of the year. Welcome these connections into your life.

5.  Contemplation. This is when we reflect over the last year and note the areas of our life that were gratifying, fulfilling, and productive. It is also when we can resolve to leave behind that which no longer serves us as we move into the new year.

peaceful wish

6.  A New Fresh Start. Everyone feels recharged and ready to make positive changes January 1st. Setting goals and creating vision boards is exciting this time of year when the future is truly a blank page. Be creative!

new year7. The Christmas Spirit. Whatever Christmas means to you, there is no doubt that a lot people are happy and joyful right now and that can be contagious. Absorb that good energy while it’s here!

8. Curling up and staying warm. What’s more comforting that thick socks, a warm blanket, hot tea, and a fire? This time of the year just begs for us to feel cozy, soft, warm, and nurtured.

sleepy kitty

9. Hot tea. OK, I drink hot tea all year long but it’s especially good this time of year. Warming from the inside out and enjoying spicy flavors like chai and cinnamon is just better in the winter.

hot tea

10. Dark, leafy, winter greens! Full of phytonutrients and calcium, dark leafy greens grow best in colder weather.

kale

*11. Bonus reason: My birthday is right around the corner! And that means cake.

*12. Extra bonus reason: The pretty falling snow that WordPress provides!

It’s Not a Diet, It’s a Lifestyle

I changed my way of eating in October to include more calories from real food. I began eating 5 times a day and include a lean protein, complex carb, and healthy fat in each meal. The results have been phenomenal as I have lowered my body fat from almost 29% to 18%. I’ve written several posts on the topic and shared tips on clean-eating and meal prepping. So……now what? I don’t want to go back to my previous way of eating that gave me lots of fiber but not enough muscle building protein.

It’s time to begin to incorporate my new way of eating into a lifestyle. The good thing is: It already is! I have been shopping, cooking, packing, and eating like this for 11 weeks and it really is my lifestyle now. That’s the secret, you don’t ever go back! And why would I want to? I am enjoying everything I want and indulging once a week in something that wouldn’t be on the plan. Sometimes it’s thai food, or gelato, or maybe a yummy muffin from a favorite coffee shop. And those treats are so much more special now than when I mindlessly indulged.

pumpkin nut muffins

It’s not a diet, it’s not restricting, and there is not end date. It’s a new way of nourishing and feeding myself that works WITH my body, not against it. When people go on a diet and have an end goal, there is always a feeling of great accomplishment, followed by celebration, followed by a lack of commitment, followed by a regression to old behaviors, eventually ending up back in the same place they started. Then the cycle starts all over again with a new and different “miracle” diet.

The next time you are tempted to try the next trendy diet or fast that the media is promoting try this instead:

Eat to fuel your body. Eat when you’re hungry and eat real, whole foods. Stop eating when you’re full. Break up your meals to eat several times a day. Choose home-cooking over restaurants. Eat simple foods without the sauce, butter, or salt.  Begin to make small changes that you can fit into your lifestyle. Remember, there is no time limit, you are trying to change how you eat for life, not 7 weeks.

take care of yourself

If you are interested in exactly what I ate everyday please contact me and I will share more with you, or  you can read more on www.createwholehealth.com

10 Ways to Get Uncomfortable

I  love being comfortable. I like my yoga pants, thick socks, blankets, and heated seats in my car. I like comfort food: sweet creamy gelato, warm baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon, hot chicken soup, and my beloved overnight oats. I like my gym that feels like my 2nd home. I like going to a yoga studio and teacher that feels familiar and I don’t have to figure out where to put my jacket or what her teaching style will be.

I liked my comfortable job that I no longer have. I liked knowing that I was really good at it and didn’t have to prove myself anymore. I liked the paycheck and the predictability of my lifestyle. It was all very comfortable.

At some point, either willingly, or kicking and screaming, we will all be faced with stepping outside of our comfort zones. When this happens we can react  2 ways:

1. Freak out and panic

2. Embrace the change and grow.

There is a saying that goes like this:

comfort-zone

The magic sets in after #2 and it takes awhile, but it happens. This past year I’ve done things that have made me very uncomfortable and with each experience I am growing and learning what I’m capable of.

We  might find we actually can run more than 1 mile on the treadmill. We can make new friends in unexpected places, we can find new work that fulfills us in new ways, and we can learn to feel at home in a new gym or without a gym at all.

This week  try practicing deliberately  stepping outside of your comfort zone and see what magic you might find. Here are some easy ways to start:

-Take a new route on your way to or from work, be aware of your surroundings.

-Talk to someone new that you’ve never talked to before. Be the first to start the conversation.

-Sign-up for a 5k or a fitness event in a different neighborhood or community center.

-Attempt a new recipe from Pinterest you think looks exciting but wouldn’t normally try.

– Take a class in something you’ve never done that has no purpose other than pure joy. Mine would be ballet.

images-2

-Wear something that makes you feel beautiful, even if you aren’t leaving the house.

-Change your sleeping habits. Go to bed earlier, or stay up later. Sleep in later on a weekend, get up earlier on a weekday.

-Take your spouse somewhere unexpected without telling them. Don’t blame me if this backfires, but it’s worth a shot.

– Try a new way of eating to see how your body responds.

-Read a book on an unfamiliar religion or spiritual practice.

The more you practice being uncomfortable, the less it will be.

 

Herb Stuffed Turkey

I know Thanksgiving is over and everyone is probably tired of turkey but not me. I’ve eaten so much chicken and fish in the last 8 weeks that my holiday turkey was a welcome change. And I don’t want to wait for a whole year to make a turkey again, why do we do that? It’s such a great source of lean protein with a richer flavor than chicken. Plus I love the fact that I can eat it for about 4 days and it still tastes just as good.

I made a clean version using fresh herbs from my garden and some lemons. Super simple!

1. Wash and remove any extras from the bird including plastic bag with giblets.

2. Pat dry and place in a large baking pan.

3. Stuff bird with a bouquet of fresh herbs, stem first. I used about 10 stalks of rosemary but thyme, oregano, and sage would also be really good.

Herb Stuffed Turkey

4. Place one lemon cut in half inside next to herbs. Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over bird and sprinkle skin with garlic, herbs de provence and cracked black pepper.

5. Cover with foil and place in 350 oven for about 3-4 hours depending on size of turkey, mine was 12 lbs. Read the instructions on the packaging for accurate cooking time. I also watched the little pop-up thingy that comes up when it’s done. Remove foil for last 20 minutes to allow skin to brown slightly.

roasted turkey with herbs

The lemon and herbs gave the meat a nice, subtle flavor without overpowering it.

I  found this magic wand of brussell sprouts at TJ’s and roasted them with olive oil after using it to cast a spell  on my chihuahua. But she still barks.

brussel sprouts wand

All in all it was a  relaxed day with very little over-indulgence. I am not as tempted anymore to go crazy over foods that I once thought to be “forbidden”.  It’s amazing how our bodies really want to be treated and fed well and reward us with health, energy, and vitality.