Winter Wrap-Up + Snowday Cookies

It’s March and winter won’t let go! Yesterday we had ice and snow and today the snow has stayed because it’s so cold. That is not normal this time of year. It seems all I’ve been doing the last few weeks is trying to stay warm! I’ve been gravitating towards warm, comfort foods and vitamin C packed citrus. (Oh and the snow day prompted me to bake cookies!)

My yoga student brought me some oranges and grapefruits fresh from an organic grove. I’ve been cutting way back on fruit since following my lean meal plan, but I couldn’t not try these. I split the grapefruit in half, sprinkled a small amount of brown sugar on top, and broiled for 3-4 minutes to let the sugar caramelize.

broiled grapefruit

It was so good and juicy! The oranges were like candy and I limited myself to 2 of those.

I’ve also been enjoying healthy bowls of food for simple lunches and dinners. My boyfriend isn’t a fan of this, he likes a knife and fork,  but I love the idea of throwing everything together in a bowl and sprinkling with nutritional yeast. It’s simple and easier to clean up. I start with rice or a grain, then add a protein, and top with cooked veggies. I’ve made this with tempeh and tahini and called it a “Buddha Bowl” 

Buddha Bowl

Lola got a spring haircut a bit too early. She is shaved down to a slick coat and it’s still pretty cold out, but I think she loves it- her energy level is way up and she’s acting like a puppy. She’s been curling up with us on the furniture whenever possible as if she knows how cute she looks.

Peke haircut

The ultimate snowy day activity for me is baking! I have not baked in a long time and yesterday it was so fun to make these chocolate chip/oatmeal/peanut butter cookies.

oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Recipe:
1/4 stick butter, 1/2 cup coconut oil, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 peanut butter, 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, 1 teaspoon each of salt, baking soda, baking powder, 2 cups rolled oats, 1 cup chocolate chips, 3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut.

Mix all wet ingredients, add flour, coconut, chips and oats. Drop on parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes at 375.

They are SO good and I love that there is no white sugar or white flour in them. Check out my other healthy cookie recipe for Tahini Cookies 

Enjoy!

Nashville’s BEST Hot Chocolate

Since before Christmas I’ve been a little obsessed with hot chocolate. For me, it was about finding the perfect hot chocolate; dark, sweet, but not overly sweet, steaming and comforting. Since giving up coffee, I have been drinking only tea which I love, but something about cold, grey, wintry days makes me crave the rich sweetness of hot cocoa. I set out on the quest to find the best.

I started in my own neighborhood that has lots of great coffee shops.

Portland Brew. I love the quiet atmosphere and the industrial decor. They take their coffee very seriously here too. The hot chocolate was mildly disappointing. It was chocolate syrup pumped into a cup of steamed milk. Too sweet, too bland. I enjoyed the whipped cream on top but couldn’t finish it because it was too sweet.

Eighth and Roast is another newer coffee shop that we go to a lot. In the summer they make home made fresh strawberry lemonade that is to die for. I ordered hot chocolate and had to ask for whipped cream on top. It turns out they just heat up chocolate milk and serve. Bummer. Not what I was looking for. The whipped cream was freshly made from a local creamery which was a treat.

I was getting frustrated. 2 great coffee shops and 2 very mediocre hot chocolates. I did some research……

Bang Candy Company: When I googled “best hot chocolate” this is the place that came up. Known for making marshmallows and candy, I was pretty excited to see what they offered for hot chocolate. I ordered a medium hot chocolate and got my choice of marshmallow flavor- I chose spicy cinnamon. Sadly, I was disappointed at the weakness of the chocolate flavor. My drink literally tasted like hot milk. The marshmallow was bangin’ but the cocoa not so much. Cute shop and super nice people!

Starbucks: I don’t like going to starbucks. I don’t like the corporate feel or the food they serve that’s been pre-made and shipped in. In my opinion, they are the Wal-Mart of coffee shops- BUT I had a gift card which trumps integrity. Plus the BF loves his caramel macchiato’s. I asked how they made their cocoa and was told “Dark syrup, vanilla, and milk” The Dark Syrup piqued my curiosity. Again, I had to special request whipped cream- I thought that was a given??? The cocoa was oh sooooo disappointing. Watery, sweet, blah. I was ticked off that I wasted my gift card on it.  I threw a tiny fit in the truck and left it sitting there and to be fair, it actually tasted a little better after it cooled down.

I took a few more passes at more shops, a bakery, and friends well-meaning suggestions. My eyes glazed over as I envisioned finding my perfect cup of cocoa. I wanted to stumble across a little thatch-roofed shop where people wore cute hats and wooden shoes as they shaved curls of bitter dark swiss chocolate into gently boiling milk,  stirring it up with a long handled spoon. I wanted exotic spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and REAL vanilla sprinkled lovingly into the hot goodness. I wanted a big white fluffy cloud of fresh whipped cream cooling my mouth from the top of the cup………….

Fantasy over. I took matters into my own hands. I’m a good cook, why couldn’t I make the perfect cup of hot chocolate exactly like I wanted? On a rainy afternoon I made the city’s best hot chocolate in my own humble kitchen. And I wasn’t wearing wooden shoes.

photo (91) hot chocolate photo (93) photo (94)

I cup milk (I used lowfat but almond/coconut could be used)

2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 large scoop unsweetened cocoa

dash of cinnamon or nutmeg

Bring all ingredients to a slow simmer (just til milk begins to bubble) over medium heat, stirring constantly. I think the stirring really blends the flavors together perfectly.

I topped mine with Peppermint Whipped Cream- from a can. We can’t have it all…..

Clean Turkey Chili

It’s cold. Everywhere. The holidays are over and normal activity has returned. Here is a super simple recipe to make for a winter’s night meal that will not get you off track of your clean-eating meal plan. Start it early and let it cook while you go to the gym!

Clean Turkey Chili

Brown 1 lb Extra Lean ground turkey and 1/2 white onion in skillet.

In a slow cooker combine:

1 can no salt kidney beans

1 can no salt crushed tomatoes

1 can no salt tomato sauce

Add browned meat/onion mixture

Stir in:

2 Tbs Chili powder

1 Tbs Cumin

1 Tbs Garlic Granules

Dash red pepper flakes, black pepper

Cook on high 3 hours. To cook longer (for more gym time) set to low.

Serve topped with plain greek yogurt if desired, or spoon over brown rice or quinoa for more complex carbs.

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~

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!

Leave Room for Growth

A couple years ago when I parted ways with my longtime corporate career, I had a huge amount of new found space in my life. Not only was my calendar clear, so was my head, my ego and my agenda. I literally had no plans or aspirations and it was a scary feeling. Thankfully, it was beautiful fall weather and I decided to create a new perennial bed in my front lawn.

A lone, scraggly lilac bush stood in the area by the curving walkway to the front door. I began fervently digging up clumps of crab-grass in order to make room for new plants. I didn’t plan or design the space, I just wanted to be busy and not focus on getting my life in order. The garden became a metaphor for where I was at the time; unplanned, uprooted, and not sure what was going to take hold or even blossom.

I moved perennials from my backyard to this new space as well as buying some bargain bin plants at the local nursery. I hastily shoved root balls into the hard ground and shoveled dirt on top, ready for the garden to be up and blooming soon. I needed some type of movement in my life, I was counting on these plants.

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Fall turned into winter and the plants began to die back for the season. The space now just looked like a big patch of ugly lawn that someone had haphazardly taken a shovel to. The weather eventually killed any sign of green and I began to regret what I had done. I didn’t think it would ever recover.

The following season, to my surprise, most of the perennials came back. Not big and strong like I had envisioned, but they survived. I enjoyed a couple coneflowers and my little rosebush gave out more blossoms in it’s new home than before. Again in the fall, I covered the new bed with dried leaves and let it rest while I went about my business of still trying to figure out my life.

This spring, just as things in my life are really beginning to take root and put forth lots of new growth, so is my garden! The little lilac is now a sweet smelling large shrub, the yellow rose has about 100 buds on it, and the other perennials are thick and lush! Everything has filled in so nicely and evenly, it’s hard to believe this was once a bare plot of land I had created out of nothing.

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It reminds me that when things seem slow or empty to not be in such a big hurry to fill them up. To not cram our schedules full of appointments so we leave no room for spontaneity. To leave space and room for things to happen naturally, in their own time, without being crowded out by our own plans.

Creamy Vegan Broccoli Soup

March has come in like a lion with windy, cold weather. The one thing good about it is making hot soup. I haven’t made nearly enough soup this year and I miss it. I usually make at least 6 or 7 kinds throughout the winter.  I threw this together with some leftover steamed broccoli and was able to use the rest of my nutritional yeast which I will be buying more of now that I’ve figured out some good uses.

Broccoli

I started by softening some garlic, onion and baby carrots in olive oil

baby carrots and onions

I added equal parts water and unsweetened almond milk

The steamed broccoli was added in after the other veggies had cooked. I used some lemon pepper and a small dash of nutmeg. Salt is optional, I added just a tiny bit.

broccoli soup

The nutritional yeast adds a “cheesy” flavor without the dairy. It’s not a substitute for real cheese, but definitely adds a tangy sharpness

nutritional yeast adds cheesy flavor

I blended some whole oats in the blender until they were fine and added in as a thickener. A good way to avoid flour.

oats as a soup thickener

I scooped out the broccoli and blended well before adding back into the pot. You can leave the pieces whole if you prefer a chunkier soup.

creamy broccoli soup

After it was cooked I added the juice of a half of lemon for some tartness

Vegan Broccoli soup

What is your favorite winter soup?

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