What is Your Body Telling You?

This was not the post I had in mind for my re-entry into the blogging world.  I’ve written many posts in my head over the last few months but unfortunately “in my head” doesn’t translate well to the screen!  So, in the interests of this being an online record of my health & wellness journey I want to start putting “pen to paper” more often even for quick posts.
The last few days I’ve been feeling “stretched” which usually translates to “stressed”.  In the absence of taking the time to plan what I wanted my week to look like, it’s just kind of “happened” to me instead.  I’ve not been eating well (yes, yes, I know…I should know better!  But just because you know better doesn’t mean you do better!), not been sleeping well, and generally feeling at the end of the day that what I did was not the same as what I’d wanted to do.  I know that life happens, even when you plan, but at least with a sort of “roadmap” I’d be able to stay on track a little better.
I’ve been trying to be more aware of the messages my body is trying to tell me.  When I hurt somewhere it’s not a message for a band-aid, but a “pay attention to what’s going on in order to heal”.  When I wake up after not sleeping enough and I’m cranky, maybe the message my tired brain is trying to say is “go to bed”!  So I did!  After getting Young Son on the schoolbus I went back to bed.  I wasn’t able to go back to sleep, but I gave myself the opportunity to rest.  Then, when trying to think of what to eat, I didn’t want to cook but I did want something that would fuel my brain…other than coffee!  So, the result was a yummy bowl of greens, leftover salmon, some avocado, hemp seeds, and a drizzle of lemon juice over it all.  Than, I took it out onto the deck and soaked up the fall sunshine.  That’s what my mind and body needed… and because I took the time to slow down and listen, I was able to enjoy a day that originally started out not so promising!
What do you do to turn around a “not-so-good” day?  Food?  Sleep?  Ditching the plan and reading a book?  Meeting a friend for coffee?  Do tell!

“Build Your Own” Sweet-Potato ‘n Egg Pots

Sometimes it feels like I need to be a short-order cook in order to please the palate and schedule of each individual in our household…one won’t eat anything green unless it’s peas, another will eat anything but is often gone for work at a time when we usually eat the evening meal, and then there’s another who’s off to work, or rehearsal, or homework parties, or…you get the picture!  I guess that’s part of a family growing and changing and I’m learning (slowly) to adjust.  I’m looking at this as an exercise in ME becoming more flexible and embracing the challenges that come up.  I’m finding that the ideal of  all four of us sitting down together around the table in the evening is becoming more of an “event” rather than the “norm”.  As much as I fight that, kicking and screaming, I’m realizing more and more that it’s the reality of where we are at in our lives right now and I might as well accept it and embrace it.

So here I am with a solution to one of my challenges…picky eaters!  This started out as sweet potato egg boats , minus any vegetables so that Kidlet #2 would eat it, and when I had leftover sweet potato and egg mixture I couldn’t stand the thought of my yummy farm-raised eggs going to waste.  Plus, I really wanted some vegetables in mine! Since then I’ve made this into an “in-and-out of the kitchen quickly” kind of a meal.  And who couldn’t use  more of those?  The essential part of it being quick is to already have the sweet potato cooked, so if you don’t have any left-over make sure you throw one or two into the oven earlier in the day so it’s ready when you need to assemble these. This is also great for using up odd bits and pieces of veggies left in the fridge!  


Sweet Potato ‘n Egg Pots (serves 2)

1 cup sweet Potato, roasted & mashed
1/2 cup spinach, washed & roughly chopped
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
3 mushrooms, sliced
3 eggs
2 tbsp cream cheese, room temperature
sea salt
Cheese (optional), grated

Directions

Spoon about 1/2 cup of mashed sweet potato into the bottom of each ramekin.  Smooth it out and sprinkle lightly with sea salt.  Layer spinach, peppers, mushrooms and any other vegetables on top.

Mix room temperature cream cheese and eggs together.  Pour over the top of vegetables.

Bake in 350 oven for 35 – 40 minutes, until egg is set.  Top with grated cheese, if using, and broil for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes and dig in!

Rice Paper Spring Rolls & Almond Dipping Sauce

Okay, raise your hand if you know you should eat more fresh veggies.  Lots of hands raised, hmm?  I know that I certainly need to eat more greens & reds & oranges & yellows, but for some reason it always seems like more work to make a salad than a sandwich… know what I mean?

I’ve seen recipes like this in several places over blog and print land lately.  This is my version, based on our tastebuds & what was in the fridge.

What’s the appeal?…it has every color under the rainbow (again with the “pretty”), you can use whatever ingredients you have on hand, you can make extras and have lunch ready for a few days, and it’s what happens when a salad & a sandwich join together!  Give it a try and see if you agree:-)

Veggie Spring Rolls

Print this

6 rice paper wrappers
2 cups sprouts  (I used alfalfa, but use whatever kind you like)
1 red beet, trimmed & julienned
1 medium carrot, peeled & julienned
1 cucumber, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 avocado, sliced lengthwise
1 cup (or so) of baby spinach

Soak one rice paper wrapper in warm water until softened and pattern in paper is less noticeable

Very carefully (believe me when I say these are very fragile), pull the rice paper out of the water, allow excess water to drain, and lay out on a flat surface

Arrange veggies in a row along the center of the rice paper.  Add greens last.  Leave about 1 ½ inches at both ends.

Fold ends in and roll tightly (but very carefully!) to wrap up the sides.

Repeat the soaking, removing & draining with a second piece of rice paper.  Lay on a flat surface, place roll along center of second piece and wrap.

Almond Dipping Sauce (from Raw Food Made Easy by Jennifer Cornbleet)

½ cup raw almonds (or almond butter)
¼ cup water
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp tamari
½ tsp crushed garlic
¼ tsp fresh ginger
Dash cayenne
Dash salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

Will keep in a stored container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

What’s in Your Tool Kit?

Tool KitFor a while now I’ve been hankering after a pink tool kit.  Not like the tools you see here, but a pretty pink kit filled with pink screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches, pliers, tape measure…all the basic tools that a girl might need for basic home repairs and maintenance…and they’re pink so none of the boys in my household will take them and forget to put them away!  Anyways, this post really has nothing to do with home repairs.  Promise.  It’s about having tools, everything we need, and never taking them out of the box.

I have a computer full of tutorials, videos and e-books, shelves filled with books on subjects like health, fitness, mindset, business and marketing.  I always have the best of intentions and I’m very keen to get started…as soon as I get everything else done.  Well you know how that story goes.  The “everything else done” time never comes.  And all of those amazing tools, filled with the wisdom of many men & women, lie unused in the box (also known as “shelf-help”!)

Well, I’ve decided that it’s time to start using some of those tools.  I’ve been feeling low in energy, have some “winter body” stuff hanging on into the spring (not good), overwhelmed by my “to-do” list, and I don’t want to feel this way any more.  “Physician, heal thyself” is the motto here…take some of those tools out of the kit & use them!  Before I could do that, though, I needed to define the tasks that needed to be done & what tool might fit the job.

The first thing that came to mind when I spent some time thinking about what might help me feel better is Get More Sleep.  I read somewhere recently (can’t remember where I read it) that lack of sleep is the number 1 cause of disease.  Our bodies do the work of healing while we sleep, so it makes sense that a chronic lack of sleep would result in less than optimal health.  So, this is the #1 thing on my list, starting today.

The second thing that came to mind is Fuel Your Body With Good Food.  When life gets busy it’s easy to neglect this essential piece of self-care.  It takes time to eat nutritious foods…to shop, plan, prepare, & consume.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of grabbing whatever is quickest & most convenient but it’s not too long before our under-nourished bodies start to revolt.  How to make it as simple as possible to eat good food leads me to…

The third thing…Planning. Failing to plan is planning to fail, right?  If I can reduce the “mental chatter” by moving ideas & “don’t forget this” from my brain onto paper – and from there transcribed to a weekly schedule & a menu plan – it stands to reason that the feelings of overwhelm can be reduced at least a little bit, right?  Less overwhelm will enable me to be more effective in whatever I’m doing, whether it’s a work, home, family or self-care activity.

This brings me to the Tool I intend to learn about & use.  A few weeks ago I downloaded a program called Smart Diary Suite that was recommended by a friend.  There are 4 different editions of this program, each available as a free monthly trial.  If you decide to purchase it after the month’s trial all of your information is moved over to your registered account.  The edition that I purchased is Home.  It features a diary, schedule, task list, notes, nutrition…and much more.  (and no, I’m not being paid or perked for this in any way)

What I like about it so far is the capability of entering information (what I eat, life factors like how much sleep I get, etc), the program analyses it and creates a graph.  Is that not so cool!  I’ll be able to see the results of getting enough sleep, exercising daily, eating nutritious food, taking my supplements…no more wondering why I’m feeling “foggy” or what might be contributing to the extra spring in my step!  If I can measure it and see it I can do something about it.

It also has a schedule (self-explanatory) & a diary where I can upload photos, do some journalling & record the minutiae of life that I don’t want to forget.

So far, the only thing I don’t like is that there is no version for the Mac…and no app for the iPhone.  Hopefully this will be available soon as an upgrade.  In the meantime I’ll have to decide on a system for keeping track of important items & inputting them into the program once I’m in front of the computer again.  Any suggestions are welcome!

Okay then!  I’m off to schedule my week & prepare a menu plan.  I’ll let you know how it goes with my new “pink” tools:-)

 

Quinoa Patties…and a kiss of Coconut

Coconut Quinoa Patties

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for recipes that are quick, incorporate highly nutritious foods, and taste great as leftovers too.  Even better if they taste like the tropics!

A few days ago I was checking out Edible Perspective and discovered this recipe for Coconut Quinoa Patties with Spicy Honey Yogourt Sauce & Mango Salsa.  I rarely make a special trip to the grocery store for certain ingredients, but I hightailed it that day to pick up some mangoes and make this ASAP!

I adapted the recipe only slightly and my verdict is as follows…

…quick – yes, especially when I decided to bake them in the oven instead of pan frying them in small batches.

…incorporate highly nutritious foods – for sure!  Quinoa, coconut, garlic, lemon, cayenne all have great health benefits.  And who among us isn’t looking for new ways to use quinoa?

…taste great as leftovers – indeed.  They’re easy to reheat in a frying pan, the yogurt sauce & salsa keep great in the fridge for up to 3 days, and they even taste great cold!

…bonus – they’re so pretty!  I will definitely be making these again.

 

Coconut-Kissed Quinoa Patties

Print this

2 large eggs
1 tbsp raw honey
½ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
2 ½ cups cooked quinoa*
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
zest of 1 lemon
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2-6 tbsp quinoa flour

In a large bowl whisk together your eggs, honey & ricotta.

Gently stir in the cooked quinoa, coconut, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, salt & cayenne until well combined.

Add just enough quinoa (or other) flour to hold the patties together.  I used about 2 tbsp total.

Shape the mixture into the size of a golf ball and press between your hands to flatten them.  Place them on a silpat lined baking sheet.

Bake in a pre-heated 350 oven for about 15 min per side, until lightly golden brown.  Serve with Mango Salsa & Spicy Yogourt Sauce

 

Mango Salsa

1 mango, chopped
1/3 cup diced cucumber
1/4 cup minced shallots
3/4 cup chopped red pepper
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tbsp lime zest
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and stir to coat with lime juice.  Allow to sit for at least 1 hour for flavours to mingle.

Store covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 

Honey-ed Yogurt Sauce

1/2 cup plain yogourt
1 – 2 tsp honey
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of salt
dash of cayenne

Stir all ingredients together.  Spoon over quinoa patties and top with salsa.

 

And don’t forget…pause just for a moment to admire the pretty picture on your plate and then dig in!

Quinoa Patties

 

Welcome Spring…Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade

My calendar says that its spring.  There have been signs that it is, indeed, on its way, but the view out of my window tells me that I won’t be digging in the garden today…or even tomorrow.  The snow is still piled deep on the garden beds and it will be several weeks before I can expect to see rhubarb shoots poking though the dirt, or strawberry blossoms unfurling on vibrant green leaves.  Not to worryJ  I was a “planning ahead” little ant last summer and preserved my “taste of spring-time” in the freezer.  So while the sun shines brightly through the window I’ll turn up the heat, enjoy the blue skies, and have my spring in a cup…or a jar.

Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade

Print this

2 cups diced rhubarb
6 large strawberries
2 large lemons, juiced
3 cups water
4 tbsp raw honey (or to taste…I like mine tart!)

Blend.  Pour. Sip.  Enjoy the taste of spring.  (Bonus points if you make little floral ice cubes with itty-bitty strawberry pieces in themJ)

Green Power-ade – Vibrant Morning Wakeup

Well Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!  Today I’m going to be green on the inside as well as the outside…let me introduce you to my kool-aid of choice, the Green Power-ade.  I’m sure you’ve seen all sorts of recipes and articles touting the benefits of green food, and if you’re anything like the other occupants of my household just the thought of drinking green is rejected outright!  Whatever.  It just means more for me!  This is highly adaptable to personal tastebuds and whatever might be in the fridge.  No spinach?  Use kale instead.  A few lone strawberries left in the basket…throw them in too.  I also like to throw in my daily Vitamin C powder, probiotics and other homeopathics so I get everything down the hatch at the same time.

Green Power-ade

Print recipe here

1 banana
1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
1 cup water
1 scoop Amazing Grass green powder
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp acai powder
1 tbsp maca powder
Juice of 1 lemon
15 drops Ocean’s Alive marine phytoplankton

Mix in high speed blender.  Pour.  Slurp.  Feel vibrantly alive

A Whole Health Journey

Greetings, and welcome to the brand new Food to Flourish!  This blog has been percolating in my brain for a couple of years, mostly as an online space to record all the ordinary and extraordinary moments that create the content of a person’s life.  Now that I’m in the process of studying holistic nutrition and immersing myself in all things that contribute to a holistic lifestyle, it seems like a good time to get some of those posts out of my head and onto the screen, to share what I’m learning about food, nutrition, healing and all the other parts of life that make up the whole.

Holistic Nutrition…what is it…and why pursue it?

The question I’m always asked is “what is holistic nutrition”?  The dictionary definition of holistic is “relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts; holistic medicine attempts to treat both the mind and the body”.

Our health is determined not only by eating the right foods and getting enough exercise.  The analogy I like here is the whole health cairn as described by Dr. Lissa Rankin.  Everyone’s life consists of a physical body at the top of a stack of stones.  The other stones represent our inner pilot light (the core of who we are deep inside), our relationships with others, our work/life purpose, spirituality, creativity, sexuality, the physical environment around us, money, and mental health.  If any one of those stones is out of balance it affects the stability of the whole stack.  I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling sometimes like my stack is about to topple!

My quest for wellness began with food for the simple reason that we all need to consume food in order to sustain life.  No matter what other things we are doing right, if we are not starting with good nutrition then we’re hindering – if not completely sabotaging – our body’s efforts to attain optimal health.  The quality of the food we eat determines the state of our natural body…you really are what you eatJ

Bring back the FUN

So, what do you think of when you hear the word nutrition?  Do you think of the pleasure of food…how it tastes, smells, sounds…or do you think of what you shouldn’t eat, shouldn’t drink, how many calories to consume and the beneficial foods you need to choke down for the good of your health?  Do you even remember when the basic act of feeding your body became so strewn with obstacles?  Drink milk in order to have strong bones…kale is the new superfood you NEED to be eating…soy is good for you…OOPS! soy is bad for you…low carb is best…fat is evil…I think you know what I’m talking aboutJ

You know deep inside of you that the energy (and the shape!) of your teenage self didn’t transform overnight into the person you saw in the mirror this morning.  So, it stands to reason that having a picture in your mind of how you see your future self a year from now is not going to happen overnight either, right?  So, let’s set a goal (whether lofty or little) and start with a single “skip” in the right direction.  What I’ve tried to do for myself, and what I aim to do with Food to Flourish, is to bring back the joy and, dare I say, the FUN of feeding yourself and your family.  Yes, you will need to try some new foods and you will undoubtedly meet with resistance at some point (from your family or your own sugar-craving self), but you will also experience some successes – and every little bit helps, right?

So, start wherever you are today and make one choice that will move your health in the right direction.  It might be as simple as swapping lemon and sea salt for the bottled dressing on your salad.  Your amazing body-machine will not have to work so hard to process the less-desirables, it will use the good things from the lemon and sea salt, it will have what it needs to eliminate toxins, your mind will know that you’re doing something positive, your emotions will improve, and who knows, you might have more of a spring in your step!