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~

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!

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.

Best Zucchini Bread Ever + July Push-Up Challenge

I have been determined to make amazing zucchini bread since I messed up the muffins so bad a few weeks ago. I want my bread sweet, but not full of white sugar. I want it light and fluffy, but made with good whole wheat flour. I want to see the zucchini pieces in it and feel the different textures of the ingredients. This 4th of July when everyone was out watching fireworks I perfected my zucchini bread! I started with a basic recipe from king arthur flour and modified it to suit my taste, but not TOO much like last time!

Start with fresh, organic zucchini squash. Commercial zucchini and yellow squash come from genetically modified crops so I definitely avoid these in the grocery. I bought these at my local farmers market and spoke with the guy who had just picked them that morning.

summer squash

Ingredients:

2 large eggs
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup turbinado or brown sugar (I combined them)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 oat flour (made with whole oats in blender)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini
4 chopped up dates
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Combine eggs, molasses, sugars, vanilla  in separate bowl.

Stir together and add zucchini, nuts, and dates.

Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

It was PERFECT!!!! And NO white sugar or white flour. I enjoyed it this morning with my angry bluebird cup of tea.

whole wheat zucchini bread

MY JULY PUSH-UP CHALLENGE: Dating a trainer has many benefits and getting good workout tips is one of them. He has challenged me to 30 days of 100 push-ups a day every other day. At first I was like “WHAT???” But then he told me they can be broken down into sets of 10-20 spread throughout the day. I can handle every other day like that. I am on day 5 already and it’s really fun to feel so strong, especially at the end of the day when I know I’ve done 100! And these are not “girl” push-ups on my knees, they are arms wide apart, toes on floor push-ups. Who wants to join me??

Clean Eating Vacay Part 2

The beach in Mexico was full of interesting offerings- check out this fresh fruit cart with cucumber, jicama and melons:

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And this beautiful photo I got at the end of the day…..wish I was still there….

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While in Mexico I tried to eat small meals spread throughout the day. I loaded up on bottled water and perused the markets for local ingredients to try. I got freshly made corn tortillas at the local supermarket the first day there and made my own chips rather than eating the packaged greasy ones.

I cut them into triangles while they were still warm and soft.

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Then spread on a cookie sheet to go into an oven at 325

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I checked often to make sure they didn’t burn

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The guac was easy with such fresh ripe ingredients: Avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro and pepper

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I added a fresh squeeze of lime after mixing. Perfectly Clean!

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I may or may not have had a fresh lime margarita with these chips and guacamole……….

I was completely spoiled with fresh fruit everyday for breakfast

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And enjoyed delicious local fish tacos one night

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I actually had a bite or two of these as well. They were so pretty!

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Back to reality and the gym!

My Clean-Eating Mexican Vacation

I’m back after a beautiful, sun-filled week in Manzanillo, Mexico! I’m lucky enough to have family with a beautiful home down there and am able to visit whenever I want! I prepared well by packing some of my own food. You never can be sure what items  will be available in another country and I didn’t want to be stuck without my favorites;  oatmeal, almonds, herbal tea, dried cranberries, peanut butter, and rice cakes. I packed all these in my suitcase along with my bathing suit and shorts.

I was greeted by the sight of this pineapple top that I had planted the last time I was there. It had grown tremendously and now had it’s own baby pineapple!

grow your own pineapple

The first morning there we went to the weekly open air market and I was overwhelmed by the displays of fresh, local produce! It was a shopping frenzy for me as I stocked up for the week on vegetables and tropical fruit that I would never get at home.

These fresh fruit cups were less than a dollar each

These fresh fruit cups were less than a dollar each

I kept saying “At Whole Foods, this would be $7.99!” “At Whole foods that would be $9.99” It made me sadly realize how long and far produce has to travel -only to be marked up to an exorbitant price- before it ever hits our mouths.

The busiest stand was the freshly picked blueberries and strawberries, and for good reason- they were incredibly sweet and juicy!

Pick and bag as much as you want

Pick and bag as much as you want

I wanted to a huge hefty bag full of these beauties!!

I wanted to a huge hefty bag full of these beauties!!

There was more tropical fruit around the corner- mangoes, pineapples, papaya, watermelon…..

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The local mexican pineapples are a bit smaller and MUCH sweeter than the ones shipped in unripened from hawaii to the grocery.

mexican pineapple

I got some tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, onion and plenty of avocados to prepare guacamole later. I also found white sweet potatoes which are difficult to find where I live. They are sweeter than yams and used a lot in island cooking. No fresh corn tortillas at this market but we scored some the next day and more a few days later. I could LIVE off of the freshly made tortillas from Lulu’s……

mexican peppers

The last time I was in mexico I picked up some type of bacteria that my system couldn’t tolerate so I was really careful what I ate this time. I didn’t eat any animal products except a little bit of yogurt once or twice. I stayed away from meat and eggs entirely which wasn’t hard since I’m not eating meat lately. I also took digestive enzymes the first few meals to give my system some help with breaking down all the different foods. I felt amazing the whole time and enjoyed the produce and much more healthy eating all week long!

Coconut Chocolate Crisp Bars

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day so I was definitely in a “sweet” mood. I made homemade cookies for my Valentine using real butter, eggs and sugar. Even though he usually eats really clean, I know he wanted this exact cookie without my usual “healthy” variations. I know this because of his reaction to my tahini cookies– which I dearly love!

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What a sweet gift, right?

They were Oatmeal-Raisin- Orange-Cranberry and fun to make. Luckily I don’t love raisins so I wasn’t tempted to eat them all- but when does one EVER grow out of eating raw cookie dough? I dodged the raisins and got in a couple good finger scoops of that.

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Then I experimented with some other ingredients in my kitchen for something a bit healthier. I came up with these rice crisp/oat/date/coconut/chocolate bars. Very little white sugar (just the small amount in the dark chocolate bar), no flour or dairy. WOW- They are incredible!!!!

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I didn’t take too many photos because it was more of an experiment and I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but I must share this recipe with you to try!

It is a variation of the rice crisp bars I posted here.  I was able to put my coconut manna to good use too.

Melt equal parts peanut butter and brown rice syrup over low heat until soft. Add in a dash of vanilla.

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Pour over rice crisp cereal.

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I used cocoa flavored rice cereal this time- Yum! Add in whole raw oats and mix well, pressing down firmly to form a crust.

Next, chop up 4-5 large pitted dates and place on top of crust

For topping melt about 1/3 cup of coconut manna and stir in some unsweetened coconut and quality dark chocolate. I used just 2 small squares from a trader joe’s bar and it was enough.

Sprend evenly over bars, place in fridge to cool.

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My kind of treat!

The coconut and chocolate form a nice “shell” and the dates give it some gooey texture while the cereal and peanut butter provide a substantial base for it all.

What did you enjoy SWEET for Valentine’s Day?

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