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Warm Spiced Milk: the Perfect Evening Beverage

Warm Spiced MilkI have just discovered my new favorite nightcap. I have been listening to my teachers tell me for years to drink warm spiced milk in the evening. Something about it just didn’t appeal to me. I don’t drink dairy products and it seemed a little gross. But tonight I gave it a try and I’m wondering why I didn’t trust that this would be delicious.

Warm milk is easy to digest and the added spices increase the digestibility even more. The spices are very soothing and grounding. The whole combination is said to be nourishing and rejuvenating for the body and mind. The combination of warm milk and nutmeg is known by many as a sleep aid. I can see this becoming a regular thing.

Here’s the recipe for 2 servings:

  • 2 cups of whole organic milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp ghee (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • a couple of shakes of cinnamon
  • a shake of black pepper
  • dash of Himalayan salt
  • 2-3 strands of saffron (optional)
  • sugar, maple syrup, or agave to taste

Heat the milk, water and spices (except sweetener) just to a boil in a small pot. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes. Use a whisk or fork to stir frequently. Transfer the milk to your cup and add the sweetener to your liking. I used a teaspoon of maple syrup.

Good night!

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Gratitude for the Bounty of the Season

IMG_1011When we realize that we are a part of nature and not something separate from it, when we see that we aren’t protecting or destroying something different from ourselves, we can really start to sink into nature’s rhythms and enjoy a deeper connection with all that exists. There are days that this is clearer than others. Or maybe some days just allow us time to reflect on this more than others. The Autumn Equinox is one of those days. A brief period of time that light and dark are in equal balance. We can give thanks for our bounty and set intentions for what we would like to experience in the coming months. I suppose we could do this on a daily basis and I’m sure some people do just that, but for me, I tend to get caught up in daily living and I appreciate the reminder to create space, feel the connection, and move forward with a positive focus. Rituals are important to me as they set the structure and framework for my life. Everything else drapes around that foundation.

On a different note, but still working with the bounty of the season, I have started to ferment my own veggies so that I can reap the amazing health benefits. I started with an easy sauerkraut recipe. Previously I had only had pre-made sauerkraut purchased at the grocery store. I never liked it. I could never even stand the smell of it. I kept hearing and reading how delicious it is if you make your own. The recipe met all of my requirements to try which is a low number of ingredients and minimal time to complete. Besides, it seemed like a fun science experiment on my kitchen counter that I had to check daily. I enjoyed this process. The problem was that I still didn’t like it. I want to like it, but I don’t. In my determination to use what I had made, knowing that there is no way my family will eat it, I found a recipe for coleslaw made out of sauerkraut. It’s delicious!! I’m so happy to have found a way to use the homemade sauerkraut without cooking off the beneficial bacterial that tastes so good.

Ayurvedically speaking, these veggies are “cooked” through the fermentation process so they are great for optimizing digestion and building the digestive fire. This makes it a perfect food to incorporate as we move into cooler weather. I’m curious if you are interested in fermenting veggies and if you already are, what ways are you enjoying them?

Challenge for the week: Replace one toxic product

I recently ran a program that focused on overall wellness. We covered things like our mindset, nutrition, exercise and our environment.  I learned so much during the four-week course. I hope the participants learned half as much as I did. As the facilitator of the process, I had to take a good look at my own life and the choices that I make for myself. As you know, having knowledge of a subject and putting the knowledge to use are two very different things. I realized that I have a lot of room for growth in all areas. This isn’t something to be upset about, in fact, I’m glad to have things to work on and a direction to move in.

Seasonal Local DishI am inspired to take a closer look at the foods I am eating. I encouraged the women in the group to check out seasonal, local foods and find recipes to share with each other. My dish was Wilted Red Swiss Chard, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Quinoa sprinkled with Nutritional Yeast for added punch in taste as well as nutritional value.

I encouraged the group to continually return to their breath and create space in their day to just sit and focus on the breath for a few minutes. Talking about this reminded me to do it in times of stress or frustration.

I found myself looking for more opportunities to move my body and fit some fitness into each day.

One of the coolest things for me is putting more effort into making sure I am doing what I can to prevent using toxic chemicals in my home. Many products boast that they are green but are in fact causing harm to you and your family. My new favorite all-purpose cleaner is

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 20 drops essential oil (I’m using Purification from Young Living Oils but lemon works well too)

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Place in a large spray bottle. This can be used on counter tops, kitchen appliances, toilets, etc.

What are you working on? How are you challenging yourself? In what ways are you taking better care of yourself today than you were a year ago?

Balancing tip-Challenge yourself to replace one unhealthy (aka-chemically laden) product that you use either in your home or on your body with something natural this week. You don’t have to make it yourself, although there are many great recipes available for DIY personal care products as well as cleaning products that are effective and simple to make. Leave a comment about what you are replacing and what you will use instead. I will be posting my switches as well.

Overnight Oats

Overnight oatsI put this recipe in my newsletter but I wanted to make sure I added it here too. This is perfect for those busy, back to school mornings.

I recently found a similar recipe on Lauren Conrad’s website (you should check it out if you have a couple of hours to get lost in cyber space). As much as I love a warm bowl of oatmeal on a cold morning, this chilled version has been great during the warm months. I also enjoy the ease of being able to pack it on my way out the door. It met all of my criteria: delicious, easy, minimal number of healthy ingredients and a minimal number of steps.

  • 1/2 cup of dry uncooked oats
  • 2/3 cup of milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (plain or vanilla depending on your taste)
  • cinnamon to taste
  • optional: 1-2 teaspoons chia seeds

Combine all ingredients and cover. Place in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, you have a quick grab and go breakfast. You can easily mix in fruit,  raisins, or anything else.
Delicious, healthy, and easy.

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Oats and Nut Butter Snacks

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Oats and Nut Butter SnacksMy friend, Sara, submitted an awesome snack recipe for me to share with everyone. I really appreciate her contribution and would love to share more recipes or ideas that any of you have. These Oats and Nut Butter Balls were really simple to make and disappeared quickly.

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (or raisins)
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (I used 1/4 cup peanut butter and 1/4 cup almond butter)
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed (I used 1/4 cup ground flaxseed and 1/4 cup chia seeds)
  • 1/3 cup honey (more or less depending on sweetness of nut butters)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients and roll into balls. Refrigerate to set. Perfect for work/school lunches.

Balancing tip-Pause. Before you take the next bite of food, before you say something negative to someone you love, or before you purchase another item, pause. Take a moment, take a breath, be still. You may begin to make some different choices. Let me know what changes for you.

Easy, Breezy Zucchini

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Zucchini Dogs

Zucchini Dogs

In the hot summer months no one wants to be standing around the oven or stove cooking. I like to head out to my grill. It’s nice to be out of the kitchen and there is usually a lot less clean up. Unfortunately, BBQ foods tend to be a little meat heavy for me. Sure, I could through on some veggie burgers but I am trying to stay away from processed foods. Today I made Zucchini Dogs with Cole Slaw. It was really easy and satisfied my picnic food craving. This recipe made 4 sandwiches with leftover cole slaw.

For the Cole Slaw:

  • small head of cabbage chopped (I used 1/2 green and 1/2 red for a prettier picture)
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon honey
  • Juice from half of a lemon
  • Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes (I made mine a little spicy)

Mix the oil, vinegar, honey and lemon together. Pour over chopped cabbage and season to taste.

For the Zucchini Dogs:

  • 2 Zucchini quartered lengthwise
  • Preferred cooking oil (I used coconut oil)
  • Garlic (chopped, minced or even powder)
  • Hot dog rolls (I used millet and brown rice flour rolls)

Rub oil on the cut zucchini to coat and then rub with some garlic. Place on the grill for a couple of minutes on each side. Be sure to let it sit on each side for long enough to get the char marks. At the last minutes, toast the rolls on the grill.

Assemble zucchini and cole slaw onto the rolls. If your rolls are large, you may want to place two pieces of zucchini on each. Enjoy!

Balancing tip-If you feel like I have gone too far over the healthy line with this recipe, it’s ok. Maybe you can pull one thing out of this and add it to your usual BBQ. Maybe you NEED mayo in your cole slaw or maybe you can’t live without white flour hot dog rolls. Wherever you need to draw the line today is fine. This is not the recipe I would have made 5 years ago. And there is no way my family would have eaten this last year. Think of the recipe suggestions that I post as a buffet (everyone loves a buffet). You can take what you like and leave the rest.

Fresh Turkey Meatballs

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turkey meatballsI made these awesome meatballs for my family last night. Everyone loved them, which is very unusual for us. I would love to give credit for the original recipe but I can’t remember where I saw it. I know that the author referenced Gwyneth Paltrow’s cook book. I looked on her website, goop.com, and wasn’t able to find this variation. I also changed it for my needs. So here is my gluten free, dairy free variation on Turkey Meatballs:

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • few shakes each of basil, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper
  • 3 handfuls of greens (spinach, arugula, kale, spring mix, whatever you have on hand)
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • coconut oil
  1. Place greens in a blender or food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Place all ingredients except coconut oil in a large bowl.
  3. Gently mix with your hands until thoroughly combined.
  4. Form into small balls.
  5. Heat oil in a large pan and saute the meatballs in batches until browned and cooked through (approximately 10 minutes).
  6. Enjoy however you like. We had them with marinara sauce.

Balancing tip-Spend a little time this week finding out where you can purchase quality meat products in your area. Good quality meat not only tastes better but it is better for you. Here is a good article on why it’s important and what to look for when buying meat: Healthy Meats: What to Buy, by  Food Renegade.

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