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Almond Milk Excitement

It doesn’t take much to get me excited.  I remind myself most of a puppy, a slightly overeager, joyful, curious, really loving puppy.  And when I discover something new that I love, I just can’t wait to share it with everyone.  This blog is in no small part my outlet for sparing my family and close friends from my nonstop effusive rants doing just that.

While doing the sugar detox last week, I had a follow up doctors appointment to review the results of some blood work I had done last month.  As it turns out, I have quite a few things going on, among which Lyme disease is back in force with some Bartonella, Babesiosis, and walking pneumonia thrown in.  All of which has triggered some high Epstein Barr results. It is nice to have an explanation for my fatigue and is reassuring that the doctor had a treatment protocol that combines traditional, homeopathic and herbal medicines at the ready.   To support myself during treatment I will be continuing with a no sugar, no dairy, no grain lifestyle.  Thankfully I was feeling so great from my week long sugar detox that that felt like a super easy decision.

Now, none of this news is very exciting, however what IS exciting is figuring out how I am going to have fun with  this new regimen.  For instance, I’d like to be able to treat myself with a cup of coffee once in a while, and I enjoy my coffee with skim milk.  One friend suggested that I adjust to having my occasional cup of coffee black, which I think I will try.  However, I wanted options, so I thought I would try my hand at making almond milk.  The almond milk that I have seen on the shelves didn’t taste that great to me, and had way more ingredients then seemed necessary.

I had a recipe that a friend had recently emailed me, all of the ingredients in the house, and some time between things on Saturday to give it a whirl.  What I didn’t have was a nut milk bag, but once I had decided I wanted to make almond milk, I was determined.  I couldn’t think of a local friend that might have a nut milk bag just hanging around to be borrowed (Note to local friends – I have ordered one, so I’m the person you can call from now on if you’re in this predicament).  I did have some cheesecloth, so I decided that I would make it work.

The basic recipe is super simple and super delicious, plus the whole experience was very satisfying.

Insanely Delicious Almond Milk

almond milk

  • 2 cups almonds (soaked for 3-5 hours)
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 dates (pit removed)
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 drop of almond extract

Put all of the above in your Vitamix and blend on high for 2 minutes.  Allow to sit for 15 minutes. Strain.

For those of you who, like me, are completely new to this rodeo, here are some additional bits of information from my experience this weekend.  This recipe completely fills a Vitamix, so if you’re using a different high powered blender, consider halving the recipe or making it in two batches.  I strained small amounts at a time.  The blended mixture is a thick liquid, so to extract most of the liquid through the cheesecloth I squeezed and twisted the cheesecloth.  Twisting the cheesecloth was a mistake, as it tore and much like a pastry bag began to extrude the almond pulp/paste.  The squeezing was the most fun part, because the milk smelled delicious and it was amazing how much milk there was even when the pulp looked dry.  Plan ahead and have something you want to eat your almond milk with ready to go as soon as you’re done, as well as something to store your almond milk in the refrigerator.

I had so much fun making the almond milk that the fact that it was absolutely delicious was an added bonus.  I decided to have dessert for dinner and made myself a huge bowl with what I had on hand, which was chopped mango and strawberry, walnuts, soaked Mila, bee pollen and cinnamon all drenched in almond milk.  It was completely insanely delicious.  I wasn’t patient enough to style the bowl before I took the picture, so this messy picture is a sign of a delicious meal :-)

mana bowl

Ever since, when people ask what’s new I have been replying with “I made almond milk, it is super crazy delicious.” And sometimes even when people simply make eye contact say hi I have the same response, because I’m excitable.  And it’s way more interesting than talking about the latest blood test results.

Are you going to make yourself some almond milk?  What has you excited right now that you want to share with everyone?

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Faking It

pesto pasta

Zucchini “Fettucini” with Pesto

I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time “faking it until I can make it.”  Lately  I have noticed that I’ve been doing some faking with my “get up and go”.  I find myself waking up and having thoughts about just going back to sleep (or getting the boys off to school then diving back into bed for an early morning nap, which I’ve never done I sometimes do).  And on the mornings when I entertain that thought process as I make breakfast and empty the dishwasher and feed the dog and pack lunches, I feel pretty miserable and all of those tasks feel heavy and the rest of my day tends to follow suit.  On the mornings that I banish those thoughts from my head when (or before) my feet hit the floor even though especially because I don’t feel like it and put a smile on my face, everything is a little different. I enjoy my morning small talk with my boys as I take care of the morning routine, which feels like an accomplishment as opposed to drudgery.  The thoughts in my head, as opposed to being ‘sleep, sleep, sleep’ are focused on the present moment, the still warm glasses I am placing in the cabinet, the smell of eggs (not my favorite) as I peel a hard boiled one for my son, the sound of rain on the kitchen window and the groggy blank stare of my son as I ask him about what he has on his schedule for the day.  If I stopped to give it some thought (or if magically I found out the the day was cancelled and the whole world had the day off) I would notice probably that I’m still a bit sleepy and that I’d love to be back in my cozy bed.  But if I don’t entertain those thoughts, if I simply replace them with thoughts of the present moment, somewhere around the time the boys have headed off to school I find that I am ready for my day as well and the bed is no longer appealing.  What’s more, it can actually get better than that.  On the days that I choose to “go big” and replace those sleepy thoughts with some really juicy thoughts about how grateful I am to have these boys and this dog and how excited I am to see what the day has to offer me – the process is accelerated and I’ve “made it” by the time I walk into the kitchen.

Faking it is like placing an order at a restaurant.  I describe what I want by my thoughts and then it is served to me as my mood/outlook/approach to the moment.  If I want to feel groggy and unmotivated, then I think groggy and unmotivated thoughts.  But if I want to feel motivated and alive and in love with my life (which is my version of heaven) then I think thoughts that match those feelings.  Not only do I feel better – but my feelings shape my actions and my day is more in line with where I want to be.  I know that I am pretty good at faking it because sometimes a groggy child will complain to me that I just don’t understand, they are really sleepy this morning and can’t possibly move any quicker.  I do completely understand, but I’m in the middle of faking it until I can’t understand because I feel so alive and ready for my day.

The first couple days of this sugar detox definitely were faking it kind of days.  When I focused on what I ‘wanted but couldn’t have’ I was not a happy woman.  I might have been really justified in not being happy – lot’s of people would agree with me and commiserate with me, however I didn’t want to feel like that, even with ‘good’ reason.  So I practiced faking it – and for me that meant focusing on the food that I “got to eat”.

This recipe definitely tops the list in the “got to eat” category because it was a fun one to make,  was easy to make for a quick lunch, and it really did fake my mind into feeling like a hearty ‘pasta’ dish.

Zucchini “Fettucini” with Pesto – serves 4 for lunch or as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pine nuts, pre-soaked and then drained
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4 medium zucchini, peeled (if organic, you can leave the skin on)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

Combine pine nuts through olive oil in a blender until well blended and smooth.  Add additional olive oil if necessary to achieve desired consistency.

And next comes the magic “faking it” part – cut your zucchini into fettucini.

zucchini

Using a mandolin or cheese slicer slice the zucchini lengthwise into thin strips.  After the zucchini has been sliced, stack the strips on top of each other and then cut the strips lengthwise into fettucini sized strips of zucchini.  Plate the zucchini strips and top with the cherry tomatoes and then pesto.  This looks so much like pasta when plated with pesto and tomatoes, even slightly chilled this feels less like a salad and more like a side dish.

Do you find that “faking it” helps you get where you want to go? What’s your favorite “fake” food?

 

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Jumping In

It amazes me how quickly and easily I can fall out of step with who, what and where I am. The distractions in this life are as enticing as they are myriad.  But what amazes me even more is how easy it is to step right back into line.

I’m pretty sure that there were a few days last week that a vegetable did not find its way onto my plate.  And I am saying pretty sure because I was eating unconsciously, living unconsciously – it was a bit of a blur.  I had a consulting project that I was finishing up and my oldest turning 13 and I lost track of myself in the midst of that and a whole lot more nonsense.

No big deal.  I’m doing something new today, I’m just jumping back in.  Happily for me I am doing it with a bunch of other awesome people in a week long Sugar Detox hosted here .  For me doing anything in community is easier than on my own.  I’m getting back on track, and perhaps being a bit more hard core than I plan to be on a regular basis. A great place to start.

Yesterday I did a bit of meal planning in my head and then shopped.  Today I woke up ready to go and excited to be back in line with what feels right for me.  I’m excited about some of the meal ideas that I have for the week.  I couldn’t wait for this one and made it for lunch today.  I loved the cool crispness of the vegetables combined with the smoothness of the avocado and the hit of sweet spice from the ginger and the dressing.

lettuce wrapsRaw Spicy & Crunchy Ginger Lettuce Wraps – serves lunch for two
  • 3 dates – pit removed
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 3 peppers – I used red, yellow and green
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 4-6 large romaine or Boston lettuce leaves

Blend dates through water in a food processor or blender until smooth. If it’s too thick, add more water, a 1/4 teaspoon at a time until its a consistency you like.

Wash and chop peppers.  Chop avocado and mix into peppers. Grate ginger onto pepper and avocado mixture and mix together.

pepper ginger avocado mix

Spread dressing on lettuce leaves and spoon pepper mixture over top.  * You’ll have extra dressing, save it for a dip or as a spread on something else :)

I’m glad to have my eating on track.  It didn’t require a whole lot of teeth gnashing or drama, I simply remembered what works for me and committed to it.  And the same goes for being more conscious in the rest of my life.  Losing track of myself is disorientating, jumping back into myself requires some effort but allows me to feel solid.  And take action.  It’s going to be a full and amazing week.

What are you taking action towards this week? Do you find yourself getting off track and pulling yourself back on track often? Any tips?

 

 

 

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The 7 Day Wheat Grass Plan

wheatshot

How it took me 7 days (well about 6 months plus 7 days) to
make this ridiculous face accomplish something I wanted to do

 

Over the past six months I have become increasingly interested in wheat grass juice.  Every time I turned around it was coming up in one way or another.  Many of the references have been positive, touting the many health benefits, however, I also came across some of the negatives, most often that it just plain doesn’t taste good.  Because I am continuing my healing from tick-borne illness (specifically Lyme and Anaplasmosis) and the extended antibiotic treatment of the illness,  I was especially intrigued by the health benefits.

When it came to the benefits, what I heard and read over and over again was that wheat grass juice is exceptionally nutrient dense, with as much nutritional value in an ounce as 2 and 1/2 pounds of fresh vegetables.  It is also known to be blood cleaning, healing, and an incredibly efficient way of delivering easily digested and easily assimilated nutrition to the body.  I am all for efficiency, so you would think that I would have just bought a shot of wheat grass at one of my local health/natural markets and given it a try, right?

Well, nope. That’s not how it went.  I could never bring myself to do it. I kept waiting for the ‘right’ time.  I had read that wheat grass juice was best assimilated and most impactful on an empty stomach and that it was best not to eat for up to 30 minutes after having the shot.  Well, when I am at the market either my stomach isn’t empty OR if it is, I would very much like to eat ASAP.  I was also pretty scared of drinking the shot and having it come immediately back up right there at the market, which isn’t exactly the public image I’m going for.  (And I had read that it was best juiced immediately after cutting and best consumed immediately after juicing…)  Yes, my obsessive diligent research had gotten me into a bit of a paralysis.

To get myself unstuck, I might have suggested that I grab a buddy, head out to the market and just get it done.  I chose a different strategy – the “7 day wheat grass plan”.  I grew my own wheat grass.

wheatgrowing

From seeds to grass in 7 days

I bought some seeds, some dirt and some trays. Planted the seeds, watered them, marveled at their growth and on the 7th day noted that the grass had reached the recommended height for harvesting and thus I was all out of excuses.  It was morning, my stomach was empty, I was in the privacy of my own home with only my family there to mock support my brave venture, and I had lovingly grown this grass and therefore felt pretty committed to seeing this through.  So I cut the grass, a handful at a time and fed it into the juicer.

wheatjuicing

 Imagine my surprise (and relief) upon harvesting and juicing that my
entire tray of grass yielded just over an ounce of juice.

The hand crank juicer was relatively easy to use, but I lost some juice because there was more dripping then I expected.  The worst part was that the smell as I cranked was pretty awful – my eyes were burning/watering and I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to see this through.  So when I ended up with only an ounce I was pretty happy, even though if you had told me ahead of time that each tray would only yield one shot I might have not been as enthusiastic a gardener.

After collecting my ounce of juice and properly photo documenting the moment, it was time to actually drink the juice.  Like the completely mature adult that I am, I made the scrunched up yuck face and downed the shot.  After months of anticipation with some dread mixed in, it was over in an instant, the taste wasn’t nearly as bad as the smell, and it didn’t have the aftertaste that my research had led me to fear (i.e. tasting “lawn” for an hour afterwards).  For the remainder of the morning, I was actually buoyed by a rush of energy.  The energy and ‘aliveness’  could have been the miracle of wheat grass or a result of the adrenaline rush of accomplishing something that had been months in the making.  Or both.

I’ve already started two more trays of wheat grass.  I don’t see a shot of wheat grass becoming a daily staple in my routine, but I can see it becoming a once or twice a week addition.  And, for now, I’m going to keep growing my own, mostly because I love having the daily excitement of watching it grow.  So few things in life change that quickly.  I think I might breathe through my mouth next time I juice it though :-)

Do you ever get stuck waiting for the “right” time instead of just doing something? How do you “unstick” yourself? What do you think about wheat grass juice – love it, hate it, terrified of it?  Let me know!

Marney

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Treat Time

apple cake

Raw Spiced-Rum Apple Cake with Coconut Cashew Cream

Recently I did a 6 day Sugar Detox Challenge hosted by the super cool MommyRunFast and then followed it with a 3 day Green Juice Cleanse. (I know, now you’re trying to figure out how that insanely delicious looking cake has anything to do with a Detox/Juice anything.  I’ll get there, I promise.)

The Sugar Detox was a very successful venture, while the Juice Cleanse was less so.  What really worked for me about the Sugar Detox Challenge was the support that was built in to doing something with a group of 100 plus people.  Every day people shared their highs and lows, their meals and their strategies via Facebook,Instagram or through the Google document that went with the challenge.  Feeling part of something bigger than just my meal plan for the week was more than enough to keep momentum going.  And the support of the group more than made up for any “what crazy thing are you doing now, Marney/mom?” looks I got from the locals.  I really enjoyed sharing my meals via picture every day, and the feedback I received from those pictures was one of the straws that broke me into blogging.food collage

When it came time for the Green Juice Cleanse, I was ready, willing and able.  I started strong – the first day I got a bit cranky because I wanted to chew.  The second day I felt amazing.  The third day I crashed and burned.  I had originally entertained thoughts of doing 5 or even 7 days, but after 3 days I was dragging physically and emotionally.  I felt alone and isolated, and I was surrounded by people telling me to “just eat”.  It was a great learning experience, having the contrast of going from lots of support to no support, and seeing the difference it made.  Had I been part of a group of people doing a Juice Cleanse, someone else would have probably had similar experiences to me, someone else would have had come upon a solution to my day 3 crash, someone else would have reminded me of the importance of taking it easy and not going 100 miles an hour when cleansing.  Left to my own devices, I didn’t have enough cards stacked in my favor for a better outcome this time.

I am more grateful than ever for the multitude of people who have my back.  I am a strong woman, an independent woman, a smart woman AND I am much more likely to succeed when I am connected with like minded people.  That was a whole lot of learning crammed into week and a half, and since then I have savored several cups of coffee, a nice piece of steak, and many other gifts from the food world.  Which brings me back around to the cake. It was surprisingly simple to make and every bit as delicious as I hoped (although next time I would go without the spiced rum, it didn’t add anything, and I think it took away from some of the flavors).

Raw Apple Cake:

  • 1 cup dates (pitted) soaked in 1/2 cup spiced rum (next time I’m going to use water or apple juice) then pureed in food processor
  • 2 large green apples, shredded (I left the skin on and used the food processor)
  • 1 cup Mila
  • 1 cup dried apple, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, finely ground
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded dried coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl.  Press dough firmly into large muffin tins. Chill.

I thought the cake was perfect without the coconut cream, but I made it just to see what it was like.  It was my first attempt at making coconut butter, and I wasn’t very successful.  I read that to make coconut butter, you simply blend dried coconut until the oil heats up and is released and the consistency becomes smooth.  I stopped blending when my Vitamix was hot, and although it was spreadable it was still pretty grainy/gritty.  I hated to blend anymore because all I could think of was how the heat was oxidizing the coconut.

Coconut Cashew Cream

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for a few hours and then drained
  • 3 tablespoons coconut butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut water

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

If you make the cake, or a variation of it, be sure to let me know what you thought of it. Where has having a community of support been instrumental to your success? Have you ever made coconut butter? Care to share any secrets to a nice smooth butter?

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Green Kitchen

My kitchen has become a makeshift greenhouse.  Which means that meals have become a bit sporadic.  Not because I can’t work around the soil and seedlings, but because I am easily distracted by them.  It’s amazing how quickly growth happens, it seems that every time I walk past, there is something new to see. On Sunday, I started two trays of wheat grass, one tray of sunflower shoots, one tray of pea shoots, and a mason jar of pea sprouts.  And already today the wheat grass and peas are looking like this

wheatgrass

I think that I am only 4 – 5 days from harvest!  I’m excited for the peas to grow more and to start seeing those pea tendrils, there’s something magical about them to me.  And just imagine now nutritious and life giving they are! Next time, I won’t start everything at the same time so that I can space out my harvests.  Meanwhile, the mason jar of sprouts is coming along even quicker

masonjar

While I was rinsing the sprouts this afternoon, several fell out and I popped them in my mouth.  They are already delicious – and I am looking forward to having a giant salad full of them!

In the meantime, I am enjoying watching the magic of the seed happen right in front of my eyes.  I started out only focused on having fresh wheat grass to juice and fresh sprouts and shoots to eat, which was reward enough for my efforts, I thought.  The added benefit of the nearly immediate gratification of having visible reward for my efforts is a nice bonus gift.  And the interruption of some of my regular kitchen routines, well it’s nice to have takeout be a little flexible now and again.

Have you ever grown sprouts? What is your best sprouting tip? I’d love to hear from you. If the Leave a Reply box isn’t below here, click on the heart icon at the top of the post to open up the Leave a Reply box.

 

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