Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Food Vacation!

Think about how much time is spent on all things that relate to food. 

Shopping for food.

Putting it all away when it gets home.

Preparing it.

Eating it.

Cleaning up after eating it.

And on and on it goes.

To have three days of not having to think about what to buy, fix or eat is such a gift. And how is that going to happen??? Easy, Nourish Cafe is preparing my food for the next three days!!

I am almost more excited about the freedom from food preparation than the cleanse! On my food vacation I will spend the next three days drinking the specially prepared blended drinks from Nourish Cafe, and the best part, is my husband is also doing this with me. 

I like the quote on their website:
  • Designed to reset your system back to its natural state, flushing out toxins, and creating a clean slate from which to start building a healthier and happier YOU!
Who doesn't want that???

Here's to day one - and the tools - of the Nourish Kick-Start!

I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Power of Motivation

Isn't it amazing what can be accomplished with a little motivation. What motivates you? Or maybe who motivates you? I found the following definition on the internet:

noun: motivation; plural noun: motivations
  1. the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
    "escape can be a strong motivation for travel"
    synonyms:motive, motivating force, incentivestimulus, stimulation, inspiration,inducementincitementspurreason;
    "his motivation was financial"
Lately I have lacked motivation. My "get-up-and-go" went. While I still worked towards a plant based diet, I felt like I was falling off that wagon too often. I found it hard to get back on the wagon because no one seemed to be there. So what happened? I began to gain weight. Just a little here and there and then before I knew it my clothes got too tight. Out the window went my energy. I got tired and sluggish. My stress level peaked. But I wasn't doing anything about it. I simply was not motivated to even think about making changes, even though I knew I was going down the wrong path.

And then it happened. Motivation. Blood work showing my cholesterol on an upward trend. Hmmmm. All the things the books say to avoid and not eat, I wasn't eating. So at my rheumatologist's suggestion I went to see a cardiologist. He, Dr. Richard Kacere, was the who for motivation, and the cholesterol numbers were the what! Instant motivation. I am now determined to get this show on the road! I am back on the wagon in the drivers seat and it doesn't matter if anyone is on the wagon or not, as long as I am!!

The apparent cause of this problem isn't so much in the food area. It is in the lack of exercise area. Lack - ha - lack would assume a little exercise. Exercise isn't even in my vocabulary let alone my lifestyle!! Well, I am officially changing that! Yeeee Haaa the wagon is on a roll!

First stop when I left the doctors office was Nourish Cafe, (now click on that link and check out this amazing place!!) which he and his wife own. Now what are the chances of finding a plant based cardiologist who isn't pushing Crestor or Lipitor at me, but rather telling me to exercise and continue to eat a plant based diet, and owning an amazing cafe to boot! Next stop New Balance for walking shoes.

I started walking that day. I have made a commitment to myself to walk 30 minutes a day. I am so out of shape! My hips, my thighs and my shins just ache! 

Luckily I have an arsenal of Young Living Essential Oils and they have helped big time. Deep Relief Roll-On  has been my go to oil, and alternately I have layered Valor, PanAway, Peppermint and Copiaba on my sore muscles.  It makes such a big difference. It feels good and really soothes the pain. Essential oils are part of my daily routine and lifestyle. If you are interested in learning more about Young Living Oils please get in touch with me and I would love to share my experience with you. Or just go to my website.
I spent Labor Day in the kitchen. (Except for my walk!) It is a therapeutic thing for me. And while I wear myself out, I love it. It was a productive day. The last of my veggies were finally dehydrated and I finished making my Organic Veggie Broth Powder. I love this stuff. Local produce. Organic. Less expensive and healthier than store bought broth. To make it check out my blog from last October. This jar will yield 576 cups of veggie broth!

To decrease my lunch prep time - so I can walk on my lunch hour instead of make my salad - I made my lunches for the week. Salad in a jar. I have done this before and it is really just a brilliant idea, even if I didn't think it up myself! First I prepared all the ingredients: washed, chopped, massaged kale and made salad dressing.

And then it is just a matter of layering the ingredients in the jar and lunch is made. It stays so fresh that the last jar of the week will be as good as the first one. Visit this website to see where I got my inspiration for these grab and go lunches!

Next up - smoothie preparation. After visiting Nourish Cafe and looking at their menu filled with variety, I was inspired to change up our repetitive smoothie choices. To save on time I prepared all the fruit, bagged it up and put them in the freezer after labeling them with what needs to be added to them in the blender. 

I am feeling pretty good about having so much organized for the week ahead. Taking a few hours to do this pays off one hundred fold once the week gets rolling along. It means I will make better choices too when it comes to eating! Oh, and one more thing: almond milk. 

I so love "home made" almond milk. It was the finale of my kitchen time. It will be great in one of the smoothies I have planned for the week ahead.

Yes, I am motivated!

I feel energized.



And as a result of getting in gear,
I lost 3 pounds and found my drive!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Costa Rican Experience

On my journey to wellness and renewed health, several people have had a profound impact on me. Kat Conrad is one of those people. Kat is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a Holistic Health Counselor, Nutritional Coach, incredible raw food chef, and best of all, my friend. Recently Kat went to Costa Rica, to the Tanglewood Wellness Center, and came back with renewed health, and some great raw food ideas. These ideas turned into a Costa Rican Inspired Raw Vegan Culinary Experience. And an experience it was!

I had the opportunity to be a helper, decorator, photographer and guest at this extravaganza. I took almost 300 pictures and had the hardest time deciding which ones to post!

While Kat and her Mom, Lynda, were busy doing magic in the kitchen. Stevie, Kat's roommate, an event planner at TASM, and I decorated. OMG, Stevie can make a weed look great. Out to the backyard she went, and in came cuttings of this that and whatever, and the house was transformed. It was so fun.

This is Stevie. She is such a beautiful person.

And she can stand on her own two feet. (Check out those shoes!!!)

Here are a few of the evenings decorations:

Kat's mom, Lynda, made the place mats and the napkins. 

Even the bathroom sink got decorated!

Now let's talk about the menu. I never heard of half of the things on the menu, but I am here to tell you I ate them all! Yes, this was a culinary delight!

Check out this pitcher. I want it! This was the drink of the night: "Chan Fresco"
This chia seed drink with lime juice and honey was excellent.

Served with a wedge of fresh pineapple, it was totally refreshing.

The First Course: Ceviche
"white fish" marinated in lime juice with sweet peppers, red onions and cilantro

The white pieces, the "fish," was made from oyster mushrooms and even tasted "fishy"! I loved the presentation. The chips were amazing too. 

The Second Course: "Guiso de Maiz"
Corn stew with "chorizo sausage" & "bacon"

This was my favorite dish of the night. You better believe I left none in my bowl!! The "bacon" and "sausage" topping totally enhanced this yummy stew. I will make this stew, soon!

The Third Course: "Flor de Calabaza Tamal"
Squash blossom tamale filled with creamy cheese & Anaheim peppers

The squash blossoms were fresh from the farmer's market and the filling was creamy and delishious. Another pretty presentation of the night.

The Fourth and Main Course: "Casado Tipica"
Marriage of typical Costa Rican foods: "Gallo Pinto" (rice and beans), marinated "beef," "white fish," sweet plantain, fresh green salad, avocado, mango salsa, sour cream and corn tortillas.

All plated beautifully on a banana leaf. What a combination of flavors and textures on this dish! And color!

This is Kat and her Mom. Two amazing ladies. 

The Fifth Course: "Arroz con Leche"
"Rice with milk" pudding with cinnamon, cloves, raisins and lime zest. The perfect final touch to this amazing eating experience. 

The square of chocolate was made by Kat's friend, Ronnie Landis, who is launching a chocolate line. It was awesome chocolate!

With dessert, Teeccino was served.

This is a really nice alternative to coffee. Here is the package in case you might want to try it.

So there you have it: a Costa Rican Inspired RAW Vegan Culinary Experience by Kat Conrad.

The flavors, the colors, the textures, the smells, the creativity, combined with some great people, made this an evening that truly was a culinary experience. 

Then of course, there is this. Holy cow. The clean up! Lynda is one hard worker in the kitchen.

And here is Kat, eating the fruits of her labor, at the end of the evening. She is just remarkable and one of the sweetest people I am fortunate to know.

And there is more . . . an ebook! Kat is giving each guest an ebook with every recipe she created to make this dinner. 

I can't wait to get mine! 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Vegan Veggie Broth Powder

This recipe for Homemade Veggie Stock Powder by Tales of a Kitchen (I love this site - do check it out!) was posted on Facebook. I thought it was a terrific idea so had to try it. It is so easy to do, but with dehydrating time it does take a while. I must say, the end result is definitely well worth your time!

I sliced or chopped all my veggies using my mandolin or a knife, which took no time at all, and dehydrated them for about 18 hours. They may have been ready sooner than that, but that is when I had the time to check them. I dried 4 small parsnips, 3 good size carrots, 1 onion, 1 zucchini, 2 portabella mushrooms, 4 tomatoes, 1 Hannah sweet potato, 1 large red bell pepper, 1/4 of a yellow pepper, basil and parsley. I did not have any cabbage or clove garlic as the recipe called for, so that was eliminated, and I added a zucchini and red and yellow peppers which were not part of the recipe. This is an easy recipe to make your own.  This is how it looked when the veggies went into the dehydrator,

and this is how it looked when they came out.

Once all the moisture is gone the veggies sure shrink up!!

I used my Nutribullet to process all of the ingredients into a powder. This is the blade that I used.

I did it in batches and just dumped it all into a bowl.

At this point I added spices: a tablespoon each of turmeric and black pepper, 2 teaspoons of garlic granules, and a teaspoon of nutmeg. I did not add salt at this time, but you could, however, I prefer to let the salt be added by the person eating it when it is served. I also did not add dill, because my husband doesn't like it, and I chose not to add the chili flakes either. That can be added if desired in the soup when it is made. I stirred the mixture and added it to a mason jar.

And that is how to go from this

to this!

It made about two and three fourths cups of veggie broth powder. I used one teaspoon of the powder to two cups of boiling water and tasted it. Then I added another cup of boiling water (that makes 3 cups to one teaspoon if you are counting) and the broth was still excellent. As a matter of fact I drank a cup of it! As you can calculate, this powder will go a long way!

Soon, very soon, I am making soup!!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Butternut Squash Spaghetti

Who says spaghetti sauce always has to be red? How about orange?

Hmmmm . . . this could be an OU or OSU competition!!!! You'll get that if you are an Okie!

One day, somewhere on the internet, I saw a recipe that combined pasta and butternut squash. I looked and looked for it again, and couldn't find it. I love butternut squash. It never disappoints me.

Today I had the opportunity to have some kitchen time and came up with my own butternut squash and pasta dish.

It really is quite simple to make. I started out by roasting a butternut squash that I got at our farmer's market. I peeled it, seeded it, sliced it, and after roasting it, cut it into 1/2 - 1 inch cubes. I am not sure of the quantity, since I didn't measure, but I would guess the squash was about a pound and a half to two pounds.

In a large saucepan I sauteed a chopped onion, two minced cloves of garlic and two sliced red Anaheim peppers until they were soft. I added salt, pepper and sage to it while it sauteed. Then I added a cup to a cup and a half of water and let it simmer for ten or twenty minutes.

These little orange tomatoes are some of my favorite tomatoes. Sometimes they never make it into a salad because I eat them like they are grapes! I used a cup or so of these, cut in half in this dish. After cutting them in half I put them in a bowl and covered them with a little more than half of the hot squash mixture. It was just enough to warm them up without cooking them and making them mushy.

Using my immersion blender, I pureed the remaining squash mixture, adding water a little at a time until it was the consistency I wanted. There it is, the orange spaghetti sauce!! It would even be a good soup. But today it is spaghetti sauce. While I did this, the spaghetti was cooking.

I rarely eat processed food. So as much as I love this dish, I probably won't make it often. Or if I do I will put it on greens rather than pasta. It was the first time I tried this pasta. It was quite good, and I liked that it was gluten free. I think this sauce would be good on any pasta. Actually, it would be good on anything!

The assembly: fill a shallow bowl with spaghetti, add sauce, and then top it off with the squash mixture. Add salt and pepper and enjoy. 

You may find yourself going back for more!

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