Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Salsa Salad

3 large red leaf lettuce leaves (or your favorite green substitute),
   chopped into bite-size pieces
1 cup soaked & cooked garbanzo beans
1 cup  soaked & cooked black beans
1/4 onion, chopped very fine
6 baby carrots, chopped coarsely
1 avocado, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped very fine
1 tablespoon olive oil
Dash cayenne pepper (tasting as you dash as to not over do it)
Salt to taste

Optional: tortilla chips

This creation was inspired by my graduate professor Cheryl, who always knew the perfect day to bring food for the office—the days I forgot lunch or had no food at home to bring! Replace the garbanzo or black beans with Great Northern beans, pinto beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans . . . whatever you prefer.

Combine all ingredients and devour. Tortilla chips can be crunched up and added to each personal salad or used to scoop up the salad for eat bite.

A Master Enjoys the Present

A few months ago I went to a Body Mind Spirit workshop given by a dear friend of mine, and this week I've been rereading the materials she gave us, searching for answers as to how I can rise above physical pain, which basically means emotional pain—new paths, new perspectives, connections. Basically, I'm searching for truth. In the process I came across a list of powerful descriptions of victim behavior, survivor behavior, and master behavior. I've referred to it several times a day this week, so I figured if it's helped me this much, it's gotta be of use to some of you! It's enlightened my perspectives, helped me reach for something higher, and given me specific reason to process and release certain emotions that I know are holding me back and making my body act out in pain.

Today I'm sharing #8 with you because it's root emotion is FEAR, which is the most common negative feeling in the world right now. The antithesis of fear is safety, peace, trust, faith, flexibility, and power.

VICTIM BEHAVIOR: Victims are driven by their fears. Their focus on the past creates regrets. Their focus on the future creates worry. Their health and energy are often compromised as they feel powerless and helpless.

SURVIVOR BEHAVIOR: Survivors discipline the mind to live in the moment. They know that guilt, worry, resentment, and other negative emotions rob them of their health and precious energy. They practice trusting the universe (God) in order to let go of fear.

MASTER BEHAVIOR: Masters have an ability to enjoy the present moment, allowing life to just happen, rather than manipulating things to "make" them happen. They are able to manifest their reality as they choose and trust the flow of life.

We compromise our health when we allow ourselves to fear, either reliving the past or mentally creating a worrisome future. To release fear, tell yourself that you are in control of your life. You are powerful beyond your own comprehension, and you have placed your trust God, who you believe will never fail you. You are safe, and you have complete faith that everything will work out. You are flexible and open to new ideas that may lead you down better pathways and increase your joy in life. My mantra for this year is "I am open to everything and attached to nothing," and it has saved me time and time again and led me toward the greatest blessing I would've normally been closed off to.

Today's message: Enjoy the present and allow life to happen. You are the master of your fate. You are courageous, powerful, and fearless!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Homemade Granola

This healthy granola is yummy! (Please excuse the poor quality picture) And guess what? It does not contain refined sugar or any other processed ingredients!

4 cups rolled oats (not instant oats, which are a processed food)
1/2 cup raw wheat germ
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 cup nuts (I used macadamia and sliced almonds)
3 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon

Mix well.

Heat these ingredients on stove until just melted.

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Grade B maple syrup
1/4 cup water
optional: 1/4 cup coconut oil
optional: 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Pour over dry mixture and stir until evenly distributed. Bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes, preferably on a cookie sheet. Stir halfway through the baking process. Keep in pantry for up to 2 weeks, or refrigerate for up to 6 weeks. Enjoy! (You can serve this with almond or rice milk, and sprouted raw sunflower seeds)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Room for Indulgence

By nature I am a stickler, a rule-abider, a promise-to-the-death kind of a person. I never realized how powerful my self-control was until people were in awe at how I changed my diet so quickly a year ago and how I did it so "effortlessly." They'd ask me about treats and I'd say, "I don't need them." It took a while for me to get it, but I recently recognized that too much self-control can stifle your spirit and deprive you of joy in life. Who needs joy, right? All I need is health. Interestingly joy and health go hand in hand. Balance. Moderation in all things. Self-control is fabulous as long as you indulge wisely every once in a while.

My indulgence? Halloumi cheese. A Cypriot native, halloumi cheese is the only cheese that can be grilled without melting, and it tastes divine in a fork-full of lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber. It is worth its weight in gold, but if I'm going to indulge my taste buds and bring a little joy into my life, halloumi cheese is worth the price.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summertime Pasta Salads

Of all the gluten-free pastas I've tried, hands down, Mrs. Leeper's is the best. I buy the organic rice vegetable twists, and actually just started ordering them in bulk on Some of the other rice pastas I've tried are so temperamental to cook, hard on the inside and mushy on the outside, but not these ones. Although beware that I have tried the Mrs. Leeper's corn pasta, and I'm not a fan. See what you prefer, but I recommend sticking to the rice pasta.

To throw together a pasta salad I mixed together the following:

gluten-free pasta twists
olive oil
cucumber, chopped
tomatoes, chopped
green bell peppers, chopped
black olives, chopped
Parmesan cheese (vegan option is Vegan Grated Topping)

This is another combo option I tried just yesterday:

gluten-free pasta twists
olive oil
spinach, chopped 
tomatoes, chopped
avocado, diced
Romano cheese, crumbled

Maybe throw in hicama, cilantro, parsley, orange, red, & yellow bell peppers, asparagus, grated carrots, chopped kale, or cashews. Have fun making your own salad combinations. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cookie Mix on Trial

Many, many months ago I put the Namaste Chocolate Chip Cookie mix on trial. Read what I thought of them here. Since that time I've found an even better tasting gluten-free and dairy-free cookie mix. The Cravings Place: Chocolate Chunk Cookie. Try them. You won't regret it. Just look at these guys (see mouth-watering photo above)! Again, my long-standing recommendation to you is to make all your food from scratch, but it's nice to have an emergency backup just in case.

Why these cookies over the Namaste ones? They are more substantial and fluffy. Are those good descriptors? I'm not sure they are, but the Namaste cookies would not stay together. They were wimpy and thin. I literally crave these Cravings Place cookies, and it's great to have a treat that has only 4 grams of sugar from beets as opposed to 16 grams of refined sugar. Use coconut oil where it calls for dairy-free margarine. One time I added apple sauce to this mix instead of  coconut oil, and they ended up way too sweet and way too dense.

WARNING: Sugar depletes the body of minerals because of its acidity. To regain pH balance, our bodies pull minerals from our bones and teeth to neutralize the acid in our systems. Be wise and eat sugar in moderation.

Cupcake Mix on Trial

I work with children on the Autism Spectrum, and we are careful what we feed them. Many of them are allergic to tree nuts, casein, and gluten, so we often go the vegan route when preparing snacks for them. Recently we made cupcakes for a celebration we had with their families, experimenting with the Namaste Vanilla Cake Mix and Cliff's Best Gulten-Free Brownie Mix. As always, my long-standing advice is to make all your food from scratch, but it's nice to have an emergency backup just in case you need a gluten-free or vegan dessert in short notice.

In the end, the vanilla cupcakes the boys had grabbed ended up in the trash. Very disappointing, but oh well. Now we know. The vanilla cupcakes tasted more like bran muffins while the chocolate cupcakes could've passed as any of their regular white-flour cupcake friends. Even though Cliff's are a brownie mix, their consistency is more like cake, so they worked great as cupcakes.
WARNING: Sugar depletes the body of minerals because of its acidity. To regain pH balance, our bodies pull minerals from our bones and teeth to neutralize the acid in our systems. Be wise and eat sugar in moderation. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Babies Are Growing!

I don't think there's anything quite like watching little sprouts appear out of nowhere from simply planting a seed. It's miraculous! For the first time in my life I have my very own garden, and I suddenly feel like a protective parent . . . and a surprised parents: "You won't believe what my chard did today! They're growing all on their own! And the turnips have the cutest little leaves on them now!"

Because of the winter weather that crept right in the door meant for spring, we planted in cycles. And also, I admit, it was because I was lazy. Planting everything in one or two days seemed impossible, so I just barely planted the beets, spinach, and cilantro. The chard does its own thing and is already sprouting up everywhere, as you see in the picture. Behind the chard in the picture are beautiful purple flowers of our chives. Our turnips, radishes, lettuce, cauliflower, carrots, all kinds of squash, tomatoes, bell pepper, zucchini, and potatoes are healthy, so now it's time to watch the beets, spinach, and cilantro to see what they do. Okay, Mother Nature. Do your thing.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sweet Potato Tacos

Many thanks to Aunt Cynthia, who introduced me to Sweet Potato Tacos. I could eat them any time of day, and leftovers are just as good. Prepare yourself—these seriously are to die for.

2 medium sweet potatoes (not yams), baked
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups black beans, soaked and cooked
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic (but go crazy and add more if you love garlic)
1 1/2 chili powder
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cilantro, chopped
Tortillas (corn or sprouted)

Optional additions: corn, tomatoes
Optional toppings: tomatoes, spinach, avocado, lettuce, fresh salsa

Put the coconut oil in a large frying pan and saute onion and garlic for about 15 minutes. Add beans and seasonings. (I actually have never added chili powder and ground mustard, and the recipe has still turned out amazing.) Stir. Add vegetable broth. At this point I usually add frozen or fresh corn and cilantro. Simmer with lid off until almost all broth has cooked off.

Mash the sweet potatoes with their skins on. Spread some of the potatoes in the middle of the tortilla and top with the beans. Add whatever other toppings you'd like.

What do you want?

How many of you have heard the phrase, "Ask and you shall receive"? Maybe the better question is, how many times have you hard the phrase, "Ask and you shall receive"? And how many of you sometimes sit baffled, skeptical, or indifferent when you hear those words? Like you're missing a vital piece of the equation. Like you must not be worthy of what you want because you sure have not gotten it and have actually stopped asking. Like it just must not be something you'll ever have, so you should just accept it.

Some people say "It's all in the Lord's timing," to make themselves feel better that they haven't gotten what they wanted. Sure. That's an easy excuse. (Sorry to be harsh.) Do you really think a loving God would withhold a righteous desire from you? Instead of saying "the Lord's timing" we should say, it's our timing—we're not yet in a place to receive. What it really comes down to is, do you truly believe that you can have what you're asking for? Now I know your initial response may be to get frustrated and start flinging your sweat & tears at me—I've been there plenty of times myself, so please feel my support, but again, if we've heard the scriptural phrase, "Ask and you shall receive," hundred upon hundred times, it must be important and true. So let's do a little experiment, since that's what this blog is all about anyway, right?

Think about something you really want. You don't just want this if it's convenient, you want this no matter what. This could be physical health, freedom from an addiction, an iPod, peace of mind, some good lovin', thick healthy hair, a new dress, piano lessons for your son, or a dream job. What do you want more than anything?

Now, think about how much you believe you can have this desire. I'm not asking if you deserve this desire, I'm asking if you believe that you can have it. At this point logic often starts to creep in. "Well, I've had bunions for 12 years, so I don't really believe they'll ever go away. And they're hereditary, so I'm stuck with them no matter how much I want them gone," or "I have no clue how I'd be able to afford piano lessons for Joey. We're barely scraping by each month, and I don't see how any extra money will be coming in," or "I've survived my job this long, I guess it's not so bad. I should just feel lucky to even have a job." What do we call these? Cop outs!! Dig deep. Keep going. If belief is your roadblock, now you know where to put your attention.

The desires of your heart and your beliefs must be on the same vibration for you to get what you desire. What does this mean? This means that your desires and your faith must match in strength or you will never get what you want. You either (1) don't believe that it's possible even though you have a lot of desire or (2) don't want it enough even though your faith is strong. Or (3) you have neither strong enough faith nor adequate desire yet. Again, please don't throw rocks until you've processed this information and experimented with it in your own life. Desires are realized at different speeds depending on where we are on the spectrum of belief and the spectrum of desire.

One more fascinating thing to consider: like attracts like. When I said that our desires and beliefs must be on the same vibration for us to get our desire, our thoughts and words must be focusing on what we want, not on what we don't have (i.e., focusing on how fat you are instead of on how you're going to get thinner: "I'm so fat. Nothing fits. Oh my gosh, my hips are so huge. I wish I were as skinny as Sheila," vs. "I'm ready to eat healthier because I deserve to look good and feel good. I look so much healthier than last month! I love myself for being determined to change.") Whatever you put your attention on, you will get—either exactly what you desire or more longing for what you don't have. It's up to you.

For me this part is especially hard because I sometimes feel like I'm flat-out lying to myself. If my whole body aches and I can't move my arm without shooting pain, do you honestly think it's easy to tell myself I'm getting healthier and that my hard work is paying off? Number one, I didn't say it was easy. But it is actually pretty comical at times—I love telling myself that I am the healthiest I've ever been when I'm lying in bed because my hip joints are in so much pain. But even better than being comical at times, it works. I've experienced it. Even this morning I had a good long talk with myself about some emotional issues from last night that triggered pain in my hip and elbow. To be honest, I dread those self-talks. Why? Because it means work and change and doing hard things. It means doing things I don't always want to do, like confronting my inner demons. But if I remind myself that I am working through emotions to keep my body from hurting and to ultimately get what I want, it's not brainwashing or telling lies to myself—it's ultimately focusing on what I want rather than on what I don't want. It's making my beliefs and desires strong enough that by natural law—God's universal laws—I have to get what I desire.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

It's True

I just wanted to add to what Katie said in her 'To Be Super Human' post about Vitality. The supplement is amazing! I have been taking it for about a month and a half now. In that time I have doubled my weekly running mileage to about 30 miles a week, and it hasn't even phased me. I feel like I have more energy and am not as tired. Here's a link to my running log: (I didn't run as much last week because I had the flu.) I have been working hard to get where I am currently with running, but I also feel that Vitality has helped me have the little extra I need. I feel like a teenager again!