Enjoying the Beauty of Becoming

It has been 374 days since my last blog post.  I have continued on with the writing program at SCAD, expanded the weekly meal program to more than 50 families, gotten engaged, gotten un-engaged, catered many fun social events including a Buckhead roof top social of 300 people, catered the most beautiful wedding, my strong beautiful daughter graduated from high school and my sweet Lauren May left G&H after almost three years to work at a great internship.  This has been a fun-filled and heart breaking year, to write the very least.    I have so missed sitting down and writing about it.

I went a little off course, again.  The roads that led to beautiful moments only lead to more roads with the journey that is never-ending.  I lost sight of what I wanted out of life.  I had gotten to a point where I felt angry and disgust for so much – politics, murder, bigotry, oppression, family dynamics, traffic, cancer, my own mistakes and even simpler things such as burnt toast.  These things are black in my soul that follow me unless I write about it.  I was putting so much pressure on myself to be the best mother, the best partner, the best personal chef and business owner, the best student, the best friend, the best daughter and sister.  I hated myself and this beautiful earth we live on.  I hated who I was trying to become, this little miss perfect.   Trying to be the woman everyone else wants me to be- gross.  Or at least what I thought they wanted me to be- even grosser.  She isn’t the woman I am destined to be, but I know her and I hate her more than anything.  My stomach hurts by writing the word hate- such a nasty word.  And, I’ll not kid myself, I was so far from perfect.  I fought with friends and family.  I snapped at annoying but, harmless business calls.   I screamed at the girls.  I continued to bury myself deeper out of sight so that when it was forced upon me to look at myself, I had no idea where or who I was anymore.  The humiliation of this person I had become is, well, excruciatingly painful.  Everyone seemed to know what I refuse to see.  I wonder if there is no wonder.

As we were catering this beautiful wedding back in May, only a few days after my own engagement ended, the question was asked if the yard had been sprayed for mosquitos and I thought for a brief moment of rolling around in the grass to see if I could be eaten and taken off by them.  This event turned out to be such a gift.  The universe will not let me go my own scared way. It was a peaceful union of two people who adored each other and they certainly aren’t perfect in everyone’s eyes but they are authentic and loving and so imperfectly perfect in my eyes.  I am so glad I got to be there to see their union and feed them well.  The positive energy and love was palpable.   Everything about it was the opposite of what I was living and that gave me the truth to start living differently.

Grief, as every emotion, is relative to whom is feeling it. My biggest loop in my head has been “it is my fault this is awful” and I have gone over and over how I could have changed the inevitable.  But, there is no way and god and everyone else knows I have tried.

Now I am trying to flow with the current that is the least resistant.  I have been known on occasion to believe I have to struggle like hell instead of just flow with the nature of things.  Haggard and disheveled, I kick and scream against my own current and for what?  To feel absolutely beaten down.  Everything is easier said than done.  So glad that my friends are not quitters and want to throw in the towel with me.  This does not mean that I don’t have to work hard to evolve.  As M. Scott Peck says love “requires the extension of ourselves, love is always either work or courage.  If an act is not one of work or courage, then it is not an act of love.” But as I start to let go, stop the struggling internally, have faith in myself again, it does feel easier to trust.  It feels so much easier and I think I may even be loving myself a little bit for it.

Where do I go when I feel I have hit the bottom?   I look up and kick like hell the glass ceiling to get out.  Through one tear (or three), one smile, one laugh, one friendly chat on the phone, one weekly meal, one delivery, one hors d’oeuvre, one dinner party, one movie night with the girls, I get up and brush my knees off.  Sometimes I surprise even myself.  Mosquitos would have been a long and painful death.

I have seen in some eyes that they wish I would stay down.  Or we see in some eyes, “you deserve what you get”.  Someone just recently told me I should get a “real job” instead of my “dream job.”  It’s funny, that was always his encouragement and why he is where he is in his own journey.  This job isn’t my dream, yet.  It is still forming and molding.  My children will not need me at home when I can live my dream job.  For now, it is my value.  I can live no other way without that.  There are people out there that do not want the best for others.  And those people, we have to ignore and let go.  I work like hell to have compassion for those who want to harm and hurt just to make themselves feel better or for their “justice”.  I must forgive them, move on, know that I am still loved, so loved and love those who want to be loved.  This is so difficult for me to do.  We can not make people like, love, understand or accept us. I have tried and so desired it but only getting hurt in the trying.  That is my struggle I must let go of.  Accepting that putting my eggs into a basket for it only to be thrown on the floor to break just hurts myself.  So, I choose not to do that.  I give my egg basket to those who want to handle them with care.  What a corny metaphor!  My professors would have a field day with that.  I am so grateful for those professors that encouraged me to keep going this last quarter.

As I went into a yoga class yesterday, my mantra was to love myself so that I can love others.  I said it over and over through deep breaths.  I felt it through my rib cages sucking in just a little more air to fill the cracks.  I could not help but notice and admire this woman who was fit, beautiful and graceful in her movements.  I quickly wished her love and went on about my practice, not wanting to wish myself to be her.  After class, I grabbed my things and noticed she was leaving in front of me.  I chuckled to myself because I noticed she looked like me but with blonde hair.  Then I noticed when she got into her car, it was the same as mine except a different color.  I smiled again at the universe showing me my mantra.  I drove around to leave when I passed her and noticed she was born in April, like me, from her tag.  I didn’t know this woman and who knows what her story is.  But I know me, and I want to really love and admire fully who I am, the dark and the light.  I could admire this strange woman and not even know her, but admiring myself has always seemed selfish.  This was a little moment of self-love to me.  I have always confused that  self-love was selfish but I do know if we don’t give any to ourselves we are empty.  And empty to give anything to anyone else.  I believe this is an epidemic amongst women, not just in me, that I would love to see gone, forever.  If anything, I will try my damnedest to not pass this on to my own daughters.   I will claw tooth and nail to omit it- really.

One of the biggest things that fills my heart, and I get to share it, is having dinner parties and writing.  I’ve known this but I wasn’t doing it.  So a couple of weeks ago I invited a couple of girlfriends over to sit on the front porch and have dinner.  I had forgotten how much I loved having people over.  I had forgotten how much I loved cooking for people.   My home isn’t big or extravagant.  Since I sold my house I think I have been holding back because it isn’t perfect.  In fact, my neighbor has put a couch out in our front yard that the city of ATL has yet to pick up over the last 3 weeks.  My neurosis are totally kicking in but allowing my imperfections to be seen at the front of the driveway is so much easier than hiding them under my pillow or worse, my heart.   I think the last time I blogged was the last time I had someone over for dinner.  My writing is also so imperfect but it is imperfectly me and that feels so good.

I made a most wonderful, healthy, summer salad with organics from the farmer’s market and grilled chicken breast for our dinner party.  This is my ultimate favorite food, fresh out of the garden.  Can’t you just taste the sweet sun ripening the tomatoes?  We sat outside with a citronella candle to keep any mosquitos from trying to take us away.  If I could encourage others to do one thing, the thing I wasn’t doing, is to do what you enjoy, do what you love and share that light.  Don’t put negative people in your life that want to squash that.  Enjoy moments with loved ones over a meal.  Go write.  Call me if you want to have that dinner but don’t have the time to cook! 😉 I will do that for you and love myself very much for giving you that moment.  Here we are full circle.  My wish is for you to enjoy this summer with friends, a good meal, and sweet peace of mind.

 

Summer Salad with Warm Shiitake Mushrooms and Lemon Mustard Dressing

 

For Salad

Red Leaf Lettuce

Radiccio

Canned Artichoke Hearts in water

Cherry Tomatoes

Cucumber sliced

Shiitake Mushrooms

Grilled Chicken Breast or Grilled Shrimp

Goat Cheese

 

For Lemon Mustard Dressing

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 cup good olive oil

 

 

For salad: Sauté your shiitake mushrooms in a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  After 3-5 minutes take of heat and allow to cool for a few moments.  Pile your other ingredients as big and high with all your veggies and protein that you desire.  Top with shiitake and goat cheese.

For Dressing:  Whisk everything but oil.  Then slowly, while whisking, add oil.  You can add as much or as little dressing as desired to your salad.  Toss, serve and enjoy.

 

This journey of life is far from over, ups and downs, over and under, but I am so glad I can share it with you.  Please feel free to send me your story so that together we can share it with those who may be looking for answers.  May your summer be a glorious one!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Long Rough Roads That Do Lead to Somewhere

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Lighthouse Beach, Eluethra


I went on a fabulous trip with my wonderful, amazingly patient partner in crime.  We did some traveling along the roads of a small island in the Bahamas called Eleuthra.  There is one main road that travels the distance of the island that is paved.  Then there are tiny dirt roads that branch off if you want to explore towards any one of the many beaches.

One of our road trips was to a beach we had read was the most beautiful.  It was on the very southern tip and about an hour away.  After traveling the main road (about 45 minutes) we turned onto the this jarring and rugged road with tree limbs that reached out scratching the sides of the car and reaching inside the car to smack our faces.  We began our journey towards the Lighthouse Beach on this uninhabited dirt road.

Now, the tires on the convertible Chevy Tracker we rented were also so timeworn that they looked white.  I couldn’t tell if it was that color because of the sand or because the threads that were so exposed.  I was a little concerned our vehicle wasn’t up for the excursion.  It didn’t matter, we were on our journey.

This car ride to reach this amazing beach is like my own personal journey I’ve been on the last few years.  I feel like I have been on a road of rough terrain but believing this road will come to my own understanding, happiness and peacefulness.  I know people who have gone before me on this journey, which gives me some relief that I am not alone and a lot of gratitude for their stories.

My personal road seems to keep going on and on and on just like the road to the Lighthouse Beach with Stephen.  Is it ever going to end?  I feel car sick.  Will I get there?  Then, just when we level a hill and look out on the horizon, I think maybe this is it and then I see it goes on further.  This road seems to go on longer than I had anticipated.  Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten on this road had I known how difficult this journey was going to be.  Then I surprise myself with how determined I am.  Believing is what keeps me looking at the next hill towards the horizon.  Is it here?  No.  I keep going.  We keep going.  Another 45 minutes had to have passed.  I know that this road ends and a beautiful place exists.  It has to.

Just when I think I will crumble and I want to quit, I see it, a beautiful beach.  I immediately get out of the car and walk towards and into the water to cool off.   I touch the earth to keep my stomach from turning because of being car sick.  I am so glad to be out of the Tracker that any where would be better than the car.

I look over to Stephen and something is troubling him.  I have a feeling I know what is wrong but I don’t want to say anything.  Please just ignore it, I think.  It is a beautiful beach and I am happy to be here with him.  He says it.  “I don’t think this is it.”  Shit.  I really don’t want to get back in the Tracker.  I really don’t want to continue this journey.  But, the water is really rough.  There isn’t a lot of places to swim and snorkel.  It doesn’t look like what we had been told.  It isn’t what we believed it to be.  I saw myself starting to settle.  I was nauseous and satisfied to be “almost there”.

My sweet friend and lover says, ” we need to go a little further.”  I am so glad I listened and believed.  I’ve learned there are no short cuts and believe me, I have tried them.  I’d like to think my journey will become my story and those who travel it after me will know they too will get there.  And once we have arrived, we will know it.  It is breathtaking.  It is paradise.  It is heaven.  It is a state of mind.

We did get back in the car that day.  It was the shortest leg of the journey.  I thought our little Tracker would tip right over going through some of the holes in the road or those tires would just pop.  But we made it.  When we did arrive, we both knew we were in the right place.  We made it together.  We made it to our paradise.  The water was the clearest I have ever seen.  It was clearer than pool water.  We saw hundreds of fish, a sea turtle, and miles of coral and white sand.  It was really stunning.  And to think, I was almost ready to quit and settle for rough waters.

Now, after traveling so far, you will of course need some nourishment.  What better than a picnic lunch?  If nothing else, we all need a little food to keep us going.  Stephen and I loved this Beet Sandwich that we discovered at a cafe called Da Perk in Governor’s Harbour.  Here is my recreation of this healthy sandwich.

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Beet Sandwich from Da Perk

Ingredients

Multi Whole Grain Bread (cut into 4 thick slices)

2 Red Beets

Hummus

1 Onion sliced

1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

Lettuce

Tomato

Goat Cheese

Directions

Preheat your oven to 4oo degrees Ferinheight.  Place your washed beets in foil paper with a drizzle of olive oil and pinch of kosher salt.  Bake for around 20-30 minutes or until you can easily poke with a toothpick in it.  While your beets are roasting, saute your onions until they are wilted and carmelized.  Add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to your onions and a pinch of salt.  Spread a bit of hummus on one slice of bread.  Stack your sandwich high with the slices of roasted beets, balsamic onions, lettuce and tomato.  Spread the soft goat cheese on the other slice of multigrain bread and place on top.  Viola!  Now you have a delicious, healthy, meatless sandwich!  This is perfect for a picnic to the park if a beach isn’t your destination.

Here is to going the distance!  For all of us who think on occasion we can not walk another step in our journey or that this is not the place we belong, I tell you, keep going, you are almost there.  Just pack a healthy lunch, it can be a long jaunt.  Cheers!

 

 

 

The Doctor Is In!

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Arugula with Walnuts, Grapefruit, Goat’s Milk Blue Cheese and Lime Dressing


Today we received some wonderful news!  My dear client, Becky,  that I have been working with for a year in January has gotten her lab results back from her cardiologist.  Our goal was to lower her cholesterol without having to take medication.  Her LDL Cholesterol was a high 156 and is now a low 126!  When people have high LDL thier arteries build up with plaque causing higher risk of a heart attack.  So on top of this great news, Becky also learned that she had no plaque build up in her arteries!  She took control before the build up.  Way to go Becky!

One way Becky wanted to tackle her high cholesterol was to eat healthier, which is why she called me.  We worked together to find the right things that she enjoyed eating but with a healthy twist.  I began making her breakfast, lunch, dinners and snacks.  I had her eat a breakfast of healthy granola, greek yogurt and fresh berries or smoothies.   I made salads with sockeye salmon or lean meats for lunches that she could bring into work.  Dinners ranged from Mediterranean Grilled Chicken with olives and capers to Asian Stir Fry’s with as many fresh vegetables as possible.

This is such great news for all of us looking to take control of our lives with out the quick fix of a pill.  Now, I won’t go ranting about my personal opinion of drugs, because I have taken my fair share.  However, I will say, the magic pill isn’t always the answer and, we as individuals have to decide what is best for ourselves.  In my humble opinion, it does take time and giving yourself that is most important.  This is not the easy way out.  This takes dedication and patients to see great results.  Good news though!  There are no strange side effects of eating healthy other than looking at yourself in the mirror wondering who the stud is staring back!

Becky and I continue to work together to keep her happy, healthy and out of the Doctors office.  I have added new clients this year that would like help with their diets, too.  We all want to feel good and that starts with eating and sleeping well.  If we are on a mental journey of wellness, it is super hard to focus when our belly hurts!   I encourage all of you to start your journey to wellness and reach out to someone who can help you on the path.   G&H would be thrilled to help you with your meals!  It is super easy.  Many of us don’t have time to plan, shop and cook.  Some of us just don’t want to do the planning, shopping or cooking!  Either way is ok!  That is what I am here for.  And, you get to continue on with your life but in a healthier way.  And, selfishly, I get to fulfill my desire to help others with something I know a little bit about!

Today I am sharing one of the most simplest of salads but so beautiful and delightful.  I like it because it is simple to make and beautiful to see but mostly because it is mouthwateringly fresh in the mouth.

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Grapefruit Segments

 

Arugula with Walnuts, Grapefruit, Blue Cheese and Lime Dressing

Ingredients

1 large bunch Arugula

1-2 Pink or Yellow Grapefruits (or both) cut into segments with out skin or peel

Handful of Walnuts

3 ounces Maytag’s Goat’s Milk Blue Cheese

1 Lime Juiced

1/4 cup Good Olive Oil

pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Mix Lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Set the dressing aside.  Assemble a nice pile of your arugula on a plate.  Then sprinkle some walnuts, blue cheese and segments of grapefruiton top.  Drizzle your dressing over the salad when you are ready to serve.  Now, that is simple, fresh and delicious!  Just the way G&H likes it.

We are all on different journeys in our lifetime.  Life can be terribly difficult and wonderfully satisfying all in the same week.  One thing we all need though is food.  Here’s to taking control and living and eating wholeheartedly!  la vie est belle!

 

So Delicious that it Can’t be that Healthy!

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Shiitake Mushrooms and Dinosaur Kale

Shiitake Mushrooms and Dinosaur Kale

Ingredients

8 ounces shiitake mushrooms sliced

1 bunch dinosaur kale chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic minced

1 tablespoon miso paste

Directions

In a saute pan, add kale, shiitake, and oil and sauté on medium high heat until kale becomes slightly wilted.  Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds.  Lastly add miso and 1/4 cup water and mix well.  When the water is mostly evaporated, you are done!

This is a great snack, a fabulous side dish, or a great addition to soups or an omelet.  And, as you see, so simple and easy.  But hold on, let me tell you about what I have learned about the health benefits of these ingredients.  I have been making this because I think it is delicious.  Then, I was given this list of healthy foods to cook and eat for 2015 and guess what?  Every one of these ingredients where on the list!  Phew, I feel so grateful not to add eating healthy to the long list of resolutions.  We were already on our way to healthy eating!

We know that kale is good for us and it is packed with fiber.  It is all over the place right now as the new health trend.  It’s a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and cancer-fighting phytonutrients says Men’s Fitness Magazine.  The Shiitake  Mushrooms are just as beneficial.  I have heard a number of times from people who thought mushrooms where just a fungi that added calories with no health benefits.  This is far from the truth.  The American Cancer Society mentions that there are more studies that need to be conducted but that they should be a part of our diets.

Studies in animals have found antitumor, cholesterol-lowering, and virus-inhibiting effects in compounds in shiitake mushrooms….Shiitake mushrooms are promoted to fight the development and progression of cancer and AIDS by boosting the body’s immune system. These mushrooms are also said to help prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels and to help treat infections such as hepatitis…

Garlic has been around for 1000 of years as has Shiitake Mushrooms.  Reader’s Digest says that garlic is another antioxidant but may also keep mosquitos away if you want to rub it on your body.  I am going to go a step further and say that it may keep some people away if you want to go bathe in it!

Lastly is the health benefits of the miso.  Now, I don’t usually add miso but its fermented soy sister tamari (no wheat soy sauce).  But because my best bud took my tamari from the fridge and hasn’t returned it, I only had red miso paste.  I like the miso better but if you don’t have any handy, use a dash of tamari.  Miso has vitamins and minerals and studies show it is good for digestion.

Now if I haven’t convinced you to make this dish with all the health benefits, you must because it just tastes so dang good.  Go for it!  Be crazy in 2015 and feel great while doing it!  Enjoy and cheers!

 

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Heaven on Earth

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Sonoma County

The saying “Ive died on gone to heaven” keeps coming into my mind. When we arrived in California, the air was the first thing to take my breath away.  It is so clean and crisp in San Francisco.  It brought me to the thought of if we are stuck in a place where we don’t experience anything more than the four walls around us, we may only think that those four walls are all that exist.  When I was growing up in the small town of LaGrange, Georgia, I didn’t know what else was out in the world.  LaGrange was a lovely place to grow up but it is also very sheltered from other parts of the country not to mention, the world.  My father wanted me to be close to home when I left for college.  I could have traveled over two states to Mississippi (I know, crazy far) to attend school but one of the reasons I chose not to was because my Dad didn’t want me so far away.  I really didn’t want to be far away from them either out of fear.  But, I remember vividly my first trip past the Mason Dixon line.  I had traveled to Nantucket and we were at a cute little restaurant in the town of Nantucket but, the waitress was from Switzerland.  I began a conversation with her and she explained to me how she and many of her friends traveled every summer over to Nantucket to work.  My eyes grew big at this new thought.  That thought was – there are so many beautiful places to see and experience in this world and there is nothing to be afraid of.  How simple is the thought?  This thought had never occurred to me and it isn’t something that can be taught, only experienced.  People are mostly kind and generous no matter where you go.  I feel lucky and grateful to have learned this.  I do know, not all of us get to travel to far away places, but if we can, I recommend it.  If anything, it teaches us to appreciate our home that we return to.

We began driving north on “the 101”  into the Alexander Valley.  The view alone is spectacular.  Our destination was a beautiful estate on a vineyard that is over 5,000 acres.  There really is nothing like it that I have seen.  In my mind, this is what heaven would be like.  Your eyes could look out in every direction and see beautiful rolling hills, blue sky, white clouds, and green grape vines.  The vegetable garden is probably 4-6 acres large with every food imaginable growing.  There are very few bugs because of the dry air.  We pulled strawberries that were the deepest red, different varieties of pears, peaches, and apples that were the sweetest, most flavorful, juicy fruits to ever come into my mouth.  I never understood the love of figs until I ate one from a fig tree and added a little almond butter and dark chocolate.  My eyes and my mouth are watering with the joy these simple things brought to me.  I want to cry with joy now as I write about it on a plane back home to Atlanta.  It was and is such a special place.  We broke off leaves of dinosaur kale and ate them right on the spot. They weren’t so bitter that you needed something to wash it down.  They were refreshing and warm with the taste of the sun that was just hitting it.  I believe we can have this in Georgia.  It inspires me to crusade for farm to table food and better food in our lunch rooms for our children.  There is no reason why we cannot have more of this here.

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Everything tangible was so heavenly, but what really hit me to be so angelic, were the people.  We were in Northern California for a wedding.  I had never experienced a wedding so beautiful before.  And I don’t mean beauty with the eyes, even though everything was beautiful to my eyes.  I am talking about two people, whom I had never met, exuding love to each other and to all those who had come to share with them their love for each other.  It was amazing.  When the female minister spoke, it was so soothing and more like a meditation than a service.  The wind that blew in the air and rustled in the trees while the couple made their own vows was like a whisper from god blessing them and all of us lucky enough to share in their moment.
There was also the family we stayed with during our visit.  Tara can make you feel as though you had known her for a lifetime.  She has this beautiful way of showing you a comfort and a feeling of being right at home 3,000 miles away from it.  She must have had a thousand other things on her mind and exhausted from being up all night with her little ones,  but she never showed it.   She inspired me to be a better woman, mother, partner and friend.

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Sweetness 

All of this experience, the vision, the tastes, the warm hearts, it is what heaven on earth is to me.  I was lucky enough to experience it.  This, I will bring back with me to Atlanta.  This, I look forward to sharing with all of you.

There is no recipe for this.  Here is to the simple tastes of eating right from the garden, to the mouth, and straight to the heart.  Cheers!

The Smallest Cell is Smiling, Let’s Start With That!

Finished Juice

Fresh Juice

Do you ever just find yourself wanting to get to the finish line, only to start all over again?  It has many names – Rat Race, Daily Grind, Treadmill, Vicious Cycle…  Arianna Huffington quoted Alan Watts in her book Thrive stating this very dance.

No one imagines that a symphony is supposed to improve in quality as it goes along or that the whole object of playing is to reach the finale.  The point of music is discovered in every moment of playing and listening to it.  It is the same, I feel with the greater part of our lives, and if we are unduly absorbed in improving them we may forget altogether to live them.

The majority of our lives are spent doing the mundane of driving to and from work, driving to and from school, cooking this meal, cleaning up after that meal, snuffing out that fire at work, vacuuming up the dog hairs, cleaning the ring around the toilette, drinking this cup of coffee to get up, and drinking this glass of wine to wind down.  Oh, it feels so tedious.  But this is life.  This is our story and how we play out our story is of most importance.  It isn’t the begining or the end.  It is what is in the middle.

As I make my fresh juice this morning I am reminded of how much I love this life I am living.  As I drink the juice, and feel it traveling down into my body, I can feel my cells singing with joy.  They are alive and happy.  What we put in our body is so important.  We are handed so many things in our lives that are either joyful or sorrowful.  It is constant, the yin and yang.

So many times I hear painful stories in life.  We can not avoid it, but how we live during it is key.  Let’s build our foundation on the sweetest simpliest taste of fruits and veggies getting soaked into our body.  We can all do this simple task.  This way when the going gets tough and the music is difficult to hear, our foundation of fresh goodness can kick in to support our bodies to dance on. It is more difficult to dance when we are sick and our bodies don’t want to function at all.

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Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Juicing

Ingredients

2 Fresh Peaches pitted and halved or apples cut with out seeds

1/2 cup carrots

2 celery stalks

1/2 jalapeno

1/2 cucumber

1 inch fresh ginger root

1 lime

Directions

Place all your ingredients one at a time into your juicer except the lime.  After all your fruits and veggies have been juiced, squeeze the lime on top and stir together to mix all the ingredients to get the perfect blend of sweetness from the fruit and spice from the jalapeno and ginger.  Feel free to mix it up a bit by adding spinach and kale,  or omit the jalapeño if it is too spicy for you.  During the summer months peaches are great but now that fall is approaching,  apples are in season and are perfect for juicing.  Sometimes I only have an apple, carrot, and ginger in the fridge so that may be all I add to my juice and it is still delightful.

Can you feel your cells smile?  Start your day off with this great foundation and let the music soar throughout the day.  Cheer’s to living!

 

 

Egg White, Spinach, Mushroom and Gruyère Quiche

Egg White Quiche with Spinach Mushrooms and Gruyere

Egg White Quiche with Spinach Mushrooms and Gruyère

This month is already beaming with surprises.  I love this time of year so much!  There are celebrations everywhere.  Graduations, outdoor festivals, weddings, and bridal showers are all on the calendar for this month and I will be sure to share them with you.   Spring is in full bloom!

As I sit outside typing away, I feel a breeze that is just lightly brushing my skin and the sun is warming my core.  A day like today calls for brunch outdoors with friends and family.  I have the best Quiche recipe for you and your loved ones to enjoy.  It will not disappoint. This is easy to throw together, healthy for our bodies and your guests will love it.  It is delicious to they eyes and mouth.  Feel free to mix in different vegetables.  Just use the same egg and milk ratio.

This filling can be used for 8 smaller Quiche or one large Quiche.   I am using a store-bought pie dough.  There is a time and place for making pie shells but not today!  It is too beautiful outside to be stuck in the kitchen cooking all day.

Ingredients

8 ounces chopped mushrooms

1 small shallot minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic minced

2 handfuls of fresh spinach

6 large egg whites

1/2 cup milk

1 cup grated Gruyère cheese plus extra for sprinkling on the top

1 Pie shell

 

Directions

Warm your olive oil in a saute pan and add the mushrooms and shallots.  Saute until the mushrooms are soft and then add the garlic and spinach.  Remove from the heat after a minute and the spinach is wilted.  Let this completely cool.  In a separate large bowl, mix your egg whites, milk, cup of Gruyère cheese and a pinch or two of salt and pepper.   Add your cooled mushroom and spinach mixture to the eggs.  Pour your filling into the pie shell or shells and sprinkle the top with your remaining cheese.  Bake the smaller Quiche for 20-25 minutes and the larger Quiche for 35-40 minutes or until the egg is cooked through but don’t overcook the eggs.

There really is no need to have a pie shell if you are looking to leave out a few extra calories.  You can cook the filling in a glass pie dish but it will not take as long!

Serve this with your favorite fruits and a mimosa.  Here is to more beautiful days to come and healthy eating.  Cheers!

 

Worthy of a Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

My dear friend came over for dinner last night.  We sat outside, had a bottle of white wine and a wonderful dinner of Healthy Chicken Pot Pie that I had frozen earlier in the week.  She is in a hard place and I understand it because I have been there too.  She feels unworthy of happiness.

What could be better than some wonderful soul food to heal us on a soul level?

Ingredients

2 tablespoons real unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

cup chopped carrots

cup chopped celery

8 ounces chopped mushrooms

3 tablespoons flour

1.5 cups home-made chicken broth

1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast or tenders

salt and pepper to taste

1 disc Martha’s Perfect Pate Brisee

Directions

Saute your onion, celery, and carrot in your butter and oil.  The oil will help the butter from burning but also keep the delicious buttery taste without adding another tablespoon of it.  When the vegetables are soft, add the mushrooms and cook for a minute or two until cooked through.   Then add the garlic.  Don’t burn the garlic!  Simmer for a minute and then add the flour.  Cook this mixture for another minute before adding the broth and whisking at the same time to incorporate.  If your mixture seems to thick or thin, add broth or subtract broth according to your own desire.  Lastly, mix in cooked chicken and salt and pepper to taste.  After everything is incorporated, pour your mixture into a pie pan and top with your Pate Brisee.  By only adding a pie topping, you are cutting out half those calories but you will never notice.  Promise!  Bake your Chicken Pot Pie for 30-45 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  This also freezes well.  So, double the recipe and make two.  One for a night with a friend and another for a week night when there is no time for cooking.  Don’t thaw the Chicken Pot Pie when taking it out of the freezer and cook it for about 30 minutes longer or until your crust is golden.

This post is on a little more personal basis of health.  I had been struggling with feeling worthy for a long time.  I am not even sure when this misconception began for me.  I was talking to my dear friend and healer, R. Brian Keith, and he said something that has been on my mind and so poignant that I wanted to share it with you because it is so true.

As I sat in Brian’s office, I told him how I could see this “destination” of worthiness.   I said, “I feel so close.  I feel like I can see it, touch it, smell it.  I want to grab hold of it.  But I can’t quite grasp it.”  And that is when Brian said to me, “Mandy, worthiness is a state of being.”  It isn’t a destination, it is a “state of being”.

Worthiness could mean so many things to so many people.  Am I worthy of a loving partner? Worthy of a job I enjoy?  Worthy of being paid well?  Worthy of food on the table?  Worthy of health?  Worthy of money?  Worthy of dreaming?  The list goes on.

My joy has always come from my daughters.  My joy also comes from cooking and entertaining.  When I can bring that to someone’s home, it gives me great satisfaction.  I can do things physically that heal me, like running, yoga, and cooking with healthy ingredients.  But all of this isn’t enough if I don’t feel worthy of it.  

I also thought that I could reach this “destination” at a certain timeline.  I felt like, if I do this, I will feel this.  If I don’t do this, I won’t feel that.  If I do too much of this, I will feel terrible!  Well, I don’t think there is a timeline anymore.  Because, if so, I have totally missed the boat.  I think that is what is meant by the saying “the journey of life”.   It’s not the destination.

I am not sure why I didn’t feel worthy.  I don’t think any one person has made me feel unworthy.  I think I had been in a “state of being” and that had brought people into my life to confirm my own negative thoughts.  Even those that have come into my life and thought of me as an admirable person had been ignored because I didn’t believe it.  I don’t believe myself unworthy anymore, because it just isn’t true.

I wanted to share this with you because I talk about getting healthy with the foods that we ingest.  However, as we all know, this is only a small part of our journey to living a healthy lifestyle.  And we want to do this because it helps us to feel really good on this journey of life.  But, no matter how may healthy grains, or healthy fruits and vegetables we eat, if we don’t believe in ourselves as worthy, admirable, and loved individuals, we will never be healthy.

I say today, remind yourself how worthwhile you are and remind those that are dear to you, too.  A simple way of doing this is by sharing Chicken Pot Pie with those you love.  You are a beautiful being.  You have to believe it before anyone else can tell you how lovely you are to them.  Believe it.  That is the “state of being”.  It feels really, really good when you do.   Cheers!

Healthier Granola

Healthier Granola

I love to try new things.  Sometimes a dish can turn out delicious and satisfying.  Sometimes it can turn out bland and missing that certain je ne sais quoi.  Sometimes that dish may have loads of cream and butter that is so devine that I cannot stop eating it, only to feel sick afterwards.  There have been times that I have tried something new with guests over, only to feel embarrassed because it wasn’t what I had expected and I disliked the impression of mediocre.   There are times that I will try a different brand of food.  Even though I know, the one I always buy is wonderful, only to deside never to stray from my brand of food again.  My brand never fails and more expensive doesn’t always mean better.  However, I usually get what I pay for.  Phew, I think I just confused myself.

Sometimes, I’ll learn from my mistakes in the kitchen.  For example, I don’t try new dishes out on my guests anymore.  I believe Ina Garten once said not to do that, but I’ve always had to learn things the hard way.   My Father likes telling the story of when I was a little girl and I  placed my hand on a hot stove eye.  He had told me numerous times that it was hot.  That was the first, of many times, that I have gotten burned in the kitchen.  

Sometimes I will try at something until I am in tears.  I am terribly stubborn like that.  I tried making a Black Bean Dip once using dried black beans.  For whatever reason, those pesky things took three days to get soft and edible.  I could have gone and gotten a can but that would have been too easy.

In keeping with trying things out, I have concocted a new Healthier Granola.  I love my original Granola recipe from Neiman Marcus Taste cookbook but, it is like candy, as my friend said to me.  It is made with brown sugar and vegetable oil.  There is definitely a time and place for it, like when Lingering Sunday Mornings.  However, this Healthier Granola is good, really good (which says a lot because it does have to compare to the sweet one).  And, I feel good after eating it.  There is no sugar in it.  So, no early morning sugar crashes.   I found the original recipe in the magazine Clean Eating.  They had a wonderful article on Glorious Granolas.   I tweaked the recipe a bit by adding more goodies to the granola, like walnuts, flax-seed, and pumpkin seeds.  I  don’t use the sunflower seeds they suggested because I couldn’t find them shelled and unsalted at the farmers market.

I do make this for my client who is working to lower her cholesterol.  This is a great way to start the day. Add a little greek yogurt and fresh berries and make a granola parfait.  Yum-

Ingredients

1 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup chopped roasted hazelnut

1/2 cup ground almonds (also known as an almond flour)

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup honey

2 tbsp chia seeds

2 tbsp hemp seeds

2 tbsp freshly grated ginger

2 tbsp flax seeds

Zest and juice of one lemon, lime or a grapefruit (just use half of the grapefruit for juice)

1 cup dried cranberries (I do use the sweetened ones, unsweetened can be hard to find)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together first seven ingredients and then spread them on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Stir around half way through.  After baking, mix in your citrus and cranberries.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

The trials and tribulations of the kitchen remind me of the Serenity Prayer.

“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
courage to change the things we can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”

I am still learning and attaining more wisdom, mostly, by trial and error.  Isn’t life grand?  Here’s to enjoying a Healthier Granola, with a little not so good for you Granola spinkled in every once in a while.  Cheers to trying new things and coming out on top!

Healthy Eating

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I have a new and exciting project going on at G&H.  I have been working with a client for a few weeks on this and I am really enjoying it.  A client called after the new year to see if I would be interested in working with her to lower her cholesterol.  She is a very busy and successful woman who doesn’t have the time to plan her meals and cook.  (Remember when I said we all need to divvy out those things we may not be good at??  For me it is my taxes, and someone else will be handling those.)  Anyway, she has asked me for help in eating better and to see if we can lower her cholesterol with out introducing a prescription drug.  What an exciting challenge!

This is something I believe in whole heartedly.  I am not a scientist nor a dietitian but I know how food makes me feel.  Don’t get me wrong, I love eating pizza but I don’t eat it very often.   After many years of learning my mood swings, I see sugar is not my friend.  It is great for the moment, but as soon as my sugar drops, look out!  I get cranky!  Then after indulging on sugar for a week, let’s say around Christmas time, I begin to feel physically lethargic.

My excitement and passion for this is immeasurable.  My client was so excited that she had already lost three pounds and she is feeling great!  She will see her Doctor in May to see what her cholesterol has done.  And, I will keep you posted on that result.  Creatively, this is great too because I am trying out so many different recipes.

One of the soups that I have made for her and for an oyster roast last week was a Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Soup.  It is not made with cream but it is so creamy, delicious and filling.  The 45 guests at the oyster roast loved the soup and no one there (that I knew of) was on a diet.  They loved it!  You don’t have to be on a diet to eat great foods.  We do it because it tastes great!   AND, we feel great!

Ingredients

One bag of cut cauliflower

2 heads of garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small chopped onion

3 cups chicken broth

Directions

Place your cauliflower on a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add a half teaspoon of kosher salt and mix around before baking at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  You want your cauliflower to get a little browned and soft.  Put your garlic heads on foil paper, and drizzle another tablespoon of your olive oil over the bulbs and sprinkle with a little kosher salt.  Then wrap your foil around the garlic and roast it while you are roasting the cauliflower.  They take about the same time.

When your garlic and cauliflower are done, let your garlic cool so that you can handle it.  In a large pot, sauté your onion with the remaining olive oil.  When your onion is soft, add the cauliflower and broth.  If the broth doesn’t cover the cauliflower fully, just add some water to cover.  Peel and squeeze your garlic out of the casings of the bulbs.  When it is cool enough to handle, it should come right out.  It will look like a paste and smell divine.  Simmer the soup for around 30 minutes then transfer to a blender to puree.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

The garlic in the soup gives it a hearty and meaty taste.  I just love it and think you will, too.

We have all gotten ourselves into habits that aren’t great for our bodies at some time in our lives.  I know I have countless times.  Recognizing them and moving towards healthier habits can be challenging but so rewarding.  If I can help people to feel physically great and better about themselves, that is better than awesome.  Again, I will keep you posted on the final results in May.  Here is to feeling great, looking great, and eating great!  Cheers!