Musings.

Sweet Stuffing

I love stuffing, and while I prefer to relegate the savory dish to Turkey Day (keeps it special/sacred), I love playing around with the premise, and HOT DOG I hit a home run this past weekend with a sweet stuffing variation:

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From Fed Up to Well Fed

I'm sitting at one of the tallest summits of Park Guëll on a stone tower I've yet to explore in the north of Barcelona, Spain. The four mile hike to get here has left my feet, in $26 shoes not meant for excursions like this, pulsating (but surprisingly not in pain).

In my yoga classes, I typically begin by inviting the students to feel into their bodies. Feeling into the points of the body that are connected with the solid earth. Connecting the wandering mind with the grounding earth. Feeling into the bones. 

As my feet pulsate, it feels like the rhythm of Barcelona. As if with each step I felt into the city through the bones of my feet. Now they vibrate with the energy of Barcelona itself. 

As I climbed the steep hill of Avinguda del Santuari de Sant Josep de la Muntanya which led to a staircase ascending further to Park Guëll, one thought kept crossing my mind:

"How did I get here?"

Not in the way "how did I get here" sometimes crosses ones mind, when, say, you are one hour into your work day, and it feels like you've been there all of your life, and you wonder "how did I go from that excited, optimistic college kid ready to take on the world to expense reports, endless conference calls, and taking "mental health days" to stay sane--not THAT particular "how did I get here". Or, say, the particular case when "how did I get here" flits through your brain waves as you eat yet another bite of cake or ice cream, knowing you didn't WANT to eat the cake or ice cream--but somehow, invasion of the body snatchers style, you find yourself hand to mouth eating more and more--berating yourself for having no will power or self control. With the best of intentions seemingly up in smoke, you think, "how the hell did I get here".

No--this kind of "how did I get here?"--THIS specific thought is the sort we dream of and remember the moments we feel it forever. You realize you have somehow managed to get to the perfect place at the perfect time, and you can't imagine what in the world you did right (and maybe a little wrong) to get here.

The Sagrada Familia is framed perfectly by pine trees in the vantage point from where I'm perched, blurred by a slight smog (either from city pollution or something off the glistening Mediterranean--I can't be sure). But somehow... I was led in perfect time in a perfect way to this exact moment. 

 
 

The cranes are at work, finishing Sagrada Familia piece by piece. Construction is set to be completed in 2026, 100 years after Gaudi's death. 

It's very possible we'll see it done in our lifetime. 

It's very possible I'll return to Spain one day to see Gaudi's vision, and the architects who've done their best to see it followed, completed. 

"How did I get here?"

It's a question I keep coming back to on this pilgrimage of sorts. I came on this trip not only travel, but also to work. And for the work I'm doing, I must ask: how did I get here? The program I'm working on makes big promises:

"Go from fed up to well fed."

How did I move from fed up to well fed? I can tell you I've been on the journey for over six years now. How can I sum up in six modules and 12 weeks what I have learned and all I have put in place over the last six years?

From moving to a vegetarian diet after a life of laissez faire eating into a gluten and dairy free life (after multiple visits to the doctor and abdominal scans and tests proved futile, and for a gal with no insurance, I needed answers). Then to vegan and studying Integrative Nutrition (and losing my period for years in the interim, and getting diagnosed with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea). Practicing Bikram Yoga nearly every day for two years. Juice cleanses. Smoothie cleanses. Detoxes. Studying yoga, learning about alignment in the body, and yoga philosophy and getting certified to teach. Beginning to teach cooking lessons. Developing a gluten free cornbread mix and selling it retail. Working with coaches like Erin Stutland and Alex Jamieson, because even coaches need coaches!

When I look back over it all and wonder how I got here, I realize... all the seemingly disparate parts and pieces have come together. 

I was learning the language of my body. 

It doesn't speak in diets. 

It doesn't speak in cleanses or detoxes. 

It doesn't speak in exercise regimes. 

Control. Tyranny. Being a slave to rules. 

I've spent the last three days in Barcelona, the city of Modernism. The most famous modernist being the architect of Sagrada Familia, Gaudi, at which I look down upon now. 

Modernism --> no straight lines. Elements of nature in everything. All with a solid foundation of iron work. 

This perfectly reflects the language of the body --> No straight lines. Deeply connected with nature. All with a solid foundation of bones--we can't change those!

I've moved from fed up to well fed. I continue moving in that direction. 

It's my vision for all of us, and the path I choose to follow further. I invite you to join in!  Why the heck not!?

p.s. Six years of learning the language of my body--I'm collecting it all and creating The Fed Up Fellowship: the tools and techniques I practice daily, from food (what we can choose to eat and why) to moving your body through yoga. Twelve weeks. I'll be opening early enrollment soon with special introductory pricing! 

Sign up here: 

www.thesoulfoodprojectla.com/getthescoop

Butterfly Soup (aka Vegan Pho)

"Why do vegans insist on recreating meat meals and calling them 'vegan this' or 'vegan that'? Why are sautéed mushrooms 'vegan scallops' or grilled portobello 'vegan steak'?" 

Question posed to me by my meat loving guy.  

I considered this and realized he has a few good points. For vegans and vegetarians, it's my opinion that it's fun to try to recreate meals in a plant based way. It's nice to have andouille sausage made of beans and mushrooms or cheese made out of carrots and potatoes.

But for meat eaters?

Calling a portobello mushroom a steak sets the bar unrealistically high. That portobello mushroom will never live up to the sense memories called to mind. My vegan ricotta may be delightful, but if the recipient of the lasagna made with cashew ricotta, eggplant, and vegetables recently savored lasagna with REAL ricotta and meat and melted mozzarella... it simply can't compare. 

Which isn't to say that these vegan and vegetarian foods aren't amazingly delicious in their own right. 

His point?

Why not, if you're creating a WHOLE new recipe for something, name it something magical?! 

Like... Butterfly Soup or Unicorn Casserole.  

And so, when posing the idea of making a vegan pho for dinner, armed with the knowledge that he LOVES pho (made with bone broth and filled with meats galore), I said: "I'm going to make a vegan pho, but don't think of it as pho. I'm making Butterfly Soup."

Butterfly    Soup 

Yields 2 servings

Yields 2 servings

Ingredients

For the Broth:

1 qt vegetable stock (low sodium) 

1 jalapeño, sliced thin (seeded if you don't want the soup spicy)

2" ginger root, peeled and diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp miso

1 tbsp coconut aminos/tamari sauce

 

For the Soup:

1 zucchini, spiralized

1 carrot, sliced thin

2 shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin

1 leek, julienned

1/4 cup corn, off the cob

green onions or cilantro for garnish

 

Directions

1.  Bring vegetable stock, coconut aminos, miso, ginger, jalapeño, and garlic to a light boil in a medium pot. Reduce heat, stir well to incorporate the miso, and allow to simmer, covered, while chopping remaining vegetables.  

2. For Butterfly Soup:  strain the broth through a mesh strainer, discarding the ginger, garlic, and jalapeño. The miso will have melted into the broth. Return broth to pot, place all remaining vegetables in with the broth, and allow to simmer for an additional 5-7 minutes, depending on how cooked you want your vegetables. Distribute evenly between serving bowls. Sprinkle with green onions or cilantro (or both!)

3.  For Catterpillar Soup: distribute remaining vegetables evenly between serving bowls. strain the broth through a mesh strainer, discarding the ginger, garlic, and jalapeño. The miso will have melted into the broth. Return broth to pot and bring back to a low boil. Remove from heat and pour hot broth over the raw vegetables (this will lightly cook them).  Sprinkle with green onions or cilantro (or both!)

 

Note:  feel free to add as much to this as you want! You may want to add some roasted sweet potato slices, eggplant, or any other seasonal vegetables. Want to add shrimp? Okay, why not?!

Resolution Reboot 2017

 
 

New Year's Resolutions.  They carry SUCH a stigma.  I've had my own struggles with making, breaking, and feeling guilty over ditching resolutions, and ultimately, a few years back and early in my coaching career, I decided to cold turkey quit making resolutions.

Which led to the following, which is an excerpt from a post entitled "The Dark Side of the New Year" from my old blog--which was written when I decided to cold turkey quit making New Year's Resolutions.

I sat here for a while staring at the white screen. The little cursor blinking away at me with just... nothing. Nothing valuable in my head to share the week. Not about food. Not about philosophy. Not about exercise. To be quite honest, I was feeling pretty low and beginning to get annoyed.

The cursor continued to blink. I continued to get more annoyed. A Word Warp break on my phone seemed sensible. Try again. Still nothing.

My little well spring feels all kind of dried up. I’m feeling... empty.

I am the definition of blah.
— Brittany Lynn Kriger, January of 2013

In the post, I went on to explain that a post-holiday slump is a reality that hits us at the very same time we are trying to amp ourselves up for the fresh start that is the new year.  How it's okay to chill out and not plan and scheme and resolve to do better, be better, be MORE.

And YES.  Truth.  I agree with myself that it's okay to chill out and not plan and scheme and resolve to do better, be better, be MORE. So, while it was a valuable post at the time for where I was on my journey, I look back at it now and am so very glad I have new tools.  

That blah feeling doesn't strike me very often any more, and when it does, I know what I need to do to kick it to the curb.

I still don't believe in setting resolutions--too controlling, restrictive, and outwardly focused for my liking, and I am ever so grateful for the new perspective I have on setting intentions and goals for the New Year.  This perspective has been contributed to in large part by Danielle LaPorte's Desire Mapping process.

I sat down with my friend and fellow Integrative Nutrition Coach Amanda Sewell (of Aswell) in my sparkliest shirt with a champagne glass of water (before noon is a bit early to pour the champagne)  to dish on our best tips and tools for gliding effortlessly into the new year.

A bit about Amanda, from Amanda herself:

"Hi!  I'm Amanda.  I help women end the struggle. With their bodies, their time and their self care. They learn to take amazing care of themselves so that all areas of their life become more fun and fulfilling.  I believe that we put need to put our own needs first. No more comparing our bodies or feeling judged . We come back to real version of ourselves."

Amanda Sewell, ASWELL
www.amandasewell.com
Instagram @as.wellness
Facebook

Listen to the audio only version (download) and listen in your car/while you cook dinner or watch below to see Amanda's awesome hair and my sparkly blue shirt (we got snazzy just for you!).

 

1:10 min call | audio only (download) or video (youtube)
Snag the worksheet here and get more posts and videos like this delivered straight to your inbox.

xox

 

Turmeric Chai Tea

In our modern, Western society, herbs and Eastern medicine have garnered a somewhat negative connotation.  Using food as medicine, however, can be an effective way to boost your immune system and treat seasonal symptoms!

I tend to prefer holistic approaches to the sniffles and sore throats that appear when the seasons change.  I've always had adverse reactions to most over the counter medications (NyQuil PM has been known to make my pupils dilate and my mind race like I'm extremely caffeinated, while AM makes me drowsy McDrowserson).  When it comes to medicinal, over the counter conveniences... I'm a bit more wary.

My favorite foods as medicine for when I get a case of the sinus funk?  Garlic oil (in the ear and nose), Elderberry Syrup, Fire Cider, and the below Turmeric Chai Tea.  

I'll brew this tea and sip on it all day.  I beat the flu with this tea (and lots of rest, and I am not by any means saying that you should drink this tea and avoid the doctor if you get sick--get checked out and always follow your excellent doctor's advice if it is sound and in line with your beliefs.)

Turmeric has a long standing reputation in Ayurveda (traditional Indian diet/holistic approach to life) as being a cold cure all.  Along with cinnamon (used in Chinese medicine for hundreds of years and recently demonstrated as having anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects), ginger (anti-inflammatory), and local honey (antibacterial), this tea helps your body put up a good fight against seasonal invaders.

Turmeric Chai Tea
Yields 1 cup of tea

Ingredients

1/2 cup - 1 cup water
3-4 whole peppercorn kernels
1-2 tea bags (green tea or a rooibos tea)
1" turmeric root, peeled
1" ginger root, peeled
1/4 tsp cinnamon (or boil a cinnamon stick)
1-2 tsp raw, organic honey
1/4 cup almond milk

Directions

  1. Bring the water, peppercorn kernels, tea bags, turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon stick (if using rather than ground) to a boil in a small sauce pan over medium to high heat.  
  2. Remove from heat and strain liquid.
  3. Return the liquid to your sauce pan and reduce heat, adding honey and almond milk.
  4. Enjoy while it's warm to soothe your throat and unclog the sinuses.

Drink for enjoyment, as a preventative measure, or if you're always under the weather.

xox

References:

This plant plays a vital role as a spice, but its essential oils and other constituents also have important activities, including antimicrobial [17–20], antifungal [21], antioxidant [22–26], and antidiabetic [27–33].
— https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4003790/
In addition to important role of natural honey in the traditional medicine, during the past few decades, it was subjected to laboratory and clinical investigations. Antibacterial activity of honey is one of the most important findings that was first recognized in 1892; by van Ketel (39).
— https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3758027/
Test tube and animal studies suggest turmeric may kill bacteria and viruses, but researchers don’t know whether it would work in people.
— http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric
The majority of scientific evidence does seem to suggest that ginger and its various components have anti-inflammatory effects both in vitro and ex vivo.
— https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/

Pumpkin Lentil Stew

Pumpkin season runs in my house from about September 30 - February 28 (or 29)

This fall/winter squash warms ya to the bones, and they're high in fiber, Vitamin A, potassium, and iron, which means they promote digestion, healthy eye sight, and energy production.

Canned pumpkin is nearly as nutritious as preparing fresh pumpkin ourselves (with so much less work--the major nutrient lost being Vitamin C), and while canned pumpkin may be more a "squash medley" than 100% pumpkin, it tends to be more flavorful than the real whammajamma.  Make sure your can reads "pumpkin puree" as the only ingredient and not "pumpkin pie filling".

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Autumn Shepherd's Pie

This was one of my absolute favorite dishes growing up.  I fondly remember that oh so glorious melding of textures and flavors...

This is my vegan version with layers of fall flavors to delight the senses!

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Cacao-Nut Chew

Dates naturally sweeten this raw treat, providing antioxidants and fiber, while raw nuts throw in some healthy Omega-3 and 6 fats + protein.  Coconut and raw cacao also add a dash more protein, magnesium, and iron.  

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Mango Salsa

A sweet guac-substitute to pair with your salty tortillas.

Spice up your enchiladas with a saucy salsa.

Dip your vegetables and call it an afternoon snack.

Ultimate guacamole, here.  Leveled up from the norm.

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Chew

I, like a large percentage of American kids of my generation, grew up eating a fair amount of pb&j sandwiches.  My jelly of choice was always strawberry (hold the seeds, hold the strawberry chunks) and, when it came to the peanut butter, make sure it's creamy, please.

To this day, the nut butter and jelly combo makes my mouth water.

In moderation, peanuts are fab addition to our diet (providing heart healthy fat and protein) while dried cherries and dates provide enough natural sweetness (as well as dietary fiber, antioxidants, and Vitamin A) to make this an easy and inner-child pleasing snack.

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Nuts Faux Chicken Salad

As a tween and teen, I loved opening up a can of chicken or tuna, throwing in some mayo and relish, and calling it either chicken or tuna salad.  I felt terribly independent, making my own "grown up" dish.  When I was rocking the vegetarian diet 100%, I found myself yearning for that canned salad of my youth, so I decided to make a nutty seedy version of my youthful glory.

Featuring sunflower seeds, walnuts, pumpkin sees, and cashews, you're getting a healthy dose of great fats, protein, and deliciousness.

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Vegan Mayonnaise

Once upon a time I totally gave up eggs as an experiment.  I went totally vegan.  

It presented its own unique set of challenges; challenges that I was eager to take on. 

Like an egg free mayo.

Traditional mayo sold in stores these days (Kraft of Hellman's) are loosely based on original mayo of ole, anyway.

This cashew mayo may not taste just like Kraft of Hellman's... but I feel pretty confident that it's even better.

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Quinoa Fiesta Salad

This is one of my favorite quick and easy crowd pleasing dishes.

The main star here is the quinoa, which fluffs up nicely to a texture somewhere between rice and couscous. 

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My 23 Pound Experiment

When wearing my health coaching hat, one of the number one goals I hear over and over is "I want to lose weight".  It makes sense.  There's a lot of pressure on us ladies to keep it high and tight and maintain the illusion of youth and beauty (and super thinness) at all costs.  

I smile with a deep understanding, nod, and ask:  

What happens if you don't lose any weight?  

What happens if you stay exactly the weight you are now?  What happens if you gain weight?  

What happens if you don't lose weight, but you gain joy?

You see, I am not in the business of weight loss.  I am not in the business of dieting.  

Other things I'm not in the business of... 

restriction, 

deprivation,

self loathing,

going hungry,

or

cutting calories.

Me?  

I intentionally

gained weight.

23 pounds, to be exact.

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When the Dream Becomes a Drag

You dream and hope and wish and plan and work.  Your sights are set on one thing and one thing only.  

You're passionate.  

You're fired up.  

You're on FIRE.

Then one day you look up, and you realize: you are still working.  

You are working really hard.  

But... something has shifted.

You don't feel passionate.  

You aren't fired up.  

Your sights are foggy and unclear.

What happened to the dream?  The hope?  The wish?

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Apple Strudel Chew

Whether you're searching for an excellent afternoon snack or a delicately sweet dessert, this easy, bake free treat will satisfy your sweet tooth as it sneakily does a body good.

Dates act as a natural sweetener (providing antioxidants in the form of tannins--much like red wine--dietary fiber, iron, potassium, and minerals such as calcium, manganese, and copper).  Walnuts and almonds provide you with energy boosting omega-3 and omega-6 fats, and a healthy dose of cinnamon acts as another antioxidant.

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Pistachio Crusted Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin bread is one of those staples that is non-negotiable the second the leaves begin to turn and that familiar but long since forgotten crispness hints at my nostrils.  

...Actually, neither of those things happen until late Fall in Louisiana... so let me correct myself:  

Pumpkin bread is one of those staples that is non-negotiable the second the calendar turns from September 30th to October 1st.

Not only full of sugar and spice and everything Fall nice, pumpkins are rich in fiber, Vitamin A, potassium, and iron.  Pumpkins are blessed with their orangey glow by the carotenoids they are rich with, including beta-carotene, which your body will take care of and convert into the aforementioned Vitamin A (great for your eyesight). As for fiber, you get a solid 3 grams from one cup of pumpkin! Ever heard that a banana is a good source of potassium?  One cup of cooked pumpkin has more potassium than a banana (564 mg to a banana's 422).

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Lentil and Ricotta Stuffed Butternut Squash Ravioli

To be honest, making ravioli from scratch makes for a really long day in the kitchen.  Long, yes, but also adventurous, fun, and rewarding!

This ravioli has an earthy and delicate flavor and pairs splendidly with the citrusy tang of satsuma cream sauce.  

As for butternut squash, which is technically a fruit, this succulent squash is full of dietary fibers, low in fat, high in Vitamin B6, packs a potassium punch, and delivers a high dose of carotenoids.  This squash is also high in anti-oxidants (aka anti-inflammatory effects).

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