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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 Chains of Habit

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After being intimidated by yoga for many years, I took a deep breath and jumped into it this past winter.  From my first awkward and challenging beginner class, I was sold.  There is a lot that I love about my yoga practice – the way that it rapidly transformed my relationship with my body, the extreme mental concentration it requires, the community of people I am honored to spend 75 minutes with several times a week and the amazing gift of being completely focused in the present moment.

An added benefit is the thoughtful wisdom that is integrated into my days as a result of the opening thoughts shared at the beginning of each class. One of the recent themes that Kessiah at Bright Heart Yoga introduced was centered on the idea “The chains of habit can be too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”  Since hearing that, I have been on the lookout for the evidence of this in my own routines/habits, especially the routines and habits that are in line with where and who I want to be.

I have been creating a routine of drinking warmed water with lemon and cayenne first thing in the morning.  It’s been nearly a month and I had been doing it every day.  Then I missed a day, a single day.   Before I even noticed, 5 days had gone by and I hadn’t had it once.  Clearly, the chains of that habit were so light that I didn’t notice their absence one bit.

It strikes me that new habits and routines require extra protection and support while those chains get stronger.  Much like the way I would protect a young seedling by placing it in a favorable location, nurturing/feeding it and protecting it from being stepped on, nibbled on by some wildlife, or scorched by the sun.  Helping the chains of my habits grow strong requires that same vigilance:

seedling

 

Placing them in a favorable location – keeping them in my line of sight where I won’t easily lose track of them.  One of my favorite ways to support myself in a new routine or habit is to track it.  I use a simple app on my phone and check things off as I do them.  This can also be as simple as leaving the new supplement or food out on the counter, leaving my sneakers by the front door, or the book on my bedside table.

Nurturing/feeding the habit – creating supportive thoughts and ideas around the habit that keep me on track.  What works for me is to create some joy or excitement about the new habit.   For starters, I like to have a clear idea of the short and long term results that I am intending from the new habit – the why.  And the why has to be better than “I should drink more water” or “it’s good for me”.  Not a lot of spice in those thoughts.  So I like to dig deeper – to things like “more energy” or “better skin” or “radically improve my relationships” (you get the idea).  And then, because I like carrots WAY better than sticks – I like to build in added incentives or little treats. When I started increasing my daily water intake, I treated myself to a glass water bottle which made those initial days a lot more fun because I was loving that water bottle and bringing it with me everywhere I went. 

Protecting the habit – ensuring that the young habit is safe from sabotage.  Many of the new habits that I create are replacing other habits that are no longer in line with where I am headed. So it is important for me to be sure that access to the old habit isn’t going to get in the way of the new habit and squash my efforts.  When I replaced morning caffeine with warm lemon cayenne water, I tossed the coffee that was in house put the coffee pot away in the back of a cabinet.  I also protected my new habit from the nibbles of others by only sharing the routine change with people who I knew would be supportive because when I hear “what’s one cup of coffee going to hurt?” too many times I tend to lose focus on my why and become derailed.  And finally, scorch protection for me means that I don’t embark on a massive overhaul but make fine tuning changes on a regular basis.  I am likely to burnout and give up on all of my new plans if I embark on a dozen new habits at once.  What I have found works for me is to be continually adding one or two more minor shift into my days, gradually correcting my course and continually bringing myself into line with where I am headed.

My seedling habits right now are my yoga practice (3x a week), blogging (2x a week), lemon/cayenne water (every day) and blocking out dedicated work time (as opposed to fitting working in between folding laundry, walking the dog, driving to baseball practice and starting dinner). What habits/routines are you currently working on adding into your life? What helps you forge a strong chain of habit?

Marney

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