Friday, March 29, 2013

Massaman Curry

Thanks to Kenny, one of my past authors who first introduced me to the unforgettable Massaman Curry at a small Thai place in American Fork, and even more thanks to Sam, my best friend, for passing on the actual recipe for Massaman Curry to make it for dinner any time we want. We love it!


Massaman Curry

2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons red curry paste
1 small piece ginger (approx. 3/4-inch thick), minced
3 tablespoons sucanat brown sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1/3 cup organic peanut butter (or sun butter if you're allergic to nuts)
1/2 cup cubed sweet potatoes (the white ones)
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup fresh green beans
1/2 cup chopped broccoli
1/2 cup chopped cauliflower
2 (13.5 ounce) cans coconut milk
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Steamed brown rice

1. Heat coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in curry paste and ginger. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.

2. Stir in sucanat, fish sauce, peanut or sun butter, sweet potato, carrots, green beans, and then the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10 minutes. Add broccoli and cauliflower, and cook until tender, about 10 more minutes.

3. Add lime juice and cook for an additional 5 minutes before serving. Serve over brown rice.

Just a heads-up: If you make this recipe without the sweet potatoes, make sure you not only replace them with another veggie but add in some other extra veggies. The potatoes absorb some of the sauce, so when you nix the potatoes there's a lot more sauce than usual.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Creating Balance in a World of Chaos

harold.lloyd / / CC BY-NC-SA
I don't know about the rest of you, but I have the hardest time slowing down long enough to eat! And I mean slowing down to make a healthy meal and then calmly eating it. I actually think that's why I married my husband, Will, because his daily priority is eating good food and enjoying it. I do love food, don't get me wrong, but it feels like such a burden to stop what I am doing even if I know it's what's best for me. Feeling okay about pausing to take care of myself comes down to self-love and trusting that I have an abundance of time, which truly is the root of living a balanced life.

And isn't that the ultimate goal, to create balance in our lives? I've been participating in the 21-Day Meditation Challenge by Deepak and Oprah, and in week 1 it helped me reflect on the divinity of my body and, now in week 2, on balance. Monday's centering thought was, "My outer world reflects my inner world," and it was great to take it a step further and think about what is happening right now in my outer world.
joiseyshowaa / Amazing Photos / CC BY-SA
(Yes, this is literally a shot of my outer world. I moved to India.)

Clutter was the first thought that came to mind—mental clutter, physical clutter, emotional clutter—anything that I am keeping in my life that no longer serves me. Once we get clear on our future and what we want, it is easier to let go of clutter.

We first have to know what clutter is to be able to let go of it.

Mental clutter could be put-downs or self-criticism, comparing ourselves to others and telling ourselves we're not good enough. Mental clutter could be thoughts that tell us "The world is a scary place," "Money is bad," "You can't trust anyone," or "I never do anything right." A lot of our mental clutter is made up of false beliefs that were engrained in us since we were little, so we've grown up tied to them without even realizing it.

Physical clutter may seem pretty obvious—a garage crammed full of old belongings, a closet spilling over with clothes that don't fit anymore, or an inbox filled with old and unopened emails. But what about physical clutter like unhealthy relationships, a stagnant job, and energy-zapping food? Physical clutter can take on all kinds of forms, but it basically is something tangible we have a hard time letting go of that is not making our lives better.
orangeacid / / CC BY
Emotional clutter is a much deeper kind of clutter, and interestingly it is often the cause of mental and physical clutter. Emotional clutter can be not letting go of a falling-out with a friend or a never-ending rerun in your head and heart of a bad break-up. Emotional clutter stirs up old feelings that provoke anger, sadness, guilt, whatever, rather than letting those feelings go and forgiving. Emotional clutter acts as a poison in our soul, refilling us with negativity every time we relive those horrible experiences.

Little by little as we clear away the mental, physical, and emotional clutter, we start to regain balance. One day, one thought, one emotion at a time.

Usually we know what we need to do to declutter our lives, but it's draining and slow going or we're inconsistent. Being inconsistent is my biggest struggle! The "not doing what I should be doing" reignites the mental clutter, telling myself, "Katie, stop being dumb. Just do it! It's your own fault you feel overwhelmed now and have a blaring headache." Not very nice, right?

I've found that if I do my "5 Pillars" every morning my day goes much smoother, I'm nicer to myself, and I feel much more at peace about the chaos around me. Even though I am sometimes inconsistent, I know that if I do my 5 Pillars I am laying a solid foundation for my day. You may have a variation on these 5 Pillars, so do what works for you. If you haven't created foundational pillars for your day, I strongly suggest that you do—it increases the inner peace you feel and re-instills clarity to know what you want your life to look like.
Stuck in Customs / Travel Photos / CC BY-NC-SA
My 5 Pillars

1. Green Smoothie: vitamins and oxygen to cells, energy, nourishment
2. Meditation: clarity, calmness, relaxation, perspective, peace, enlightenment
3. Prayer & Emotional Releasing: reconnection with God, peace, purpose, gratitude, help, releasing of emotions I no longer need and giving them over to him
4. Uplifting Reading: motivation, spiritual perspective, vision, grounding, focus, nourishment, peace, answers
5. Exercise in Nature: self-love, connection, peace, calm, adrenaline, energy, flexibility, wisdom

If you notice a trend in this list, seems like our lives attain balance when daily we do things that bring us peace. When we consider that 90% of all disease is caused or complicated by stress, it makes sense why these 5 Pillars help me feel so balanced. Guess I better stop all this blogging and go do yoga before the day's over!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

La arepa...both exotic and gluten-free

I was first introduced to the arepa 11 years ago when I moved to Venezuela. I lived there for a year, and from the time I arrived to the time I left I went from eating 1 of these bad boys a day to eating up to 3 or 4! It's an understatement to say I fell in love.

In the last few years I started making arepas a lot more frequently. When I became allergic to gluten 2 1/2 years ago, the arepa became an easy and safe go-to since it's made from corn flour. And my food-connoisseur of a husband has declared the arepa tasty enough to eat on a weekly basis, so after being married only 2 months I'd say we've had arepas 4 or 5 times for either lunch or dinner.

Where can you buy arepa mix? A local Latin market or even your local grocery store. I was pleasantly surprised to find some at Target!

What ingredients do you need to make an arepa? 
2 1/2 cups filtered water
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups harina P.A.N. arepa mix
1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil

What do you put inside an arepa?
Tuna mixture: tuna w/ chopped onions, tomatoes, and cilantro w/ a little garlic salt, mayo, and lettuce, spinach, or beet greens.
Tuna mixture: tuna w/ chopped kale and purple cabbage w/ a little garlic salt and mayo.
Replace mayo with veganaise, guacamole, or smashed plain avocado.
Organic nut butter and raw honey.
Other sandwich condiments of your choosing—some people love butter and cheese, others love a good ole turkey arepa w/ lettuce, tomato, and pickles.

How do you make an arepa? 
1. Pour water into a bowl and add salt.
2. Pour arepa mix into water and squish and knead together with your hand. (The water soaks in fairly quickly, so it's better to have the dough more wet than dry.)
3. Separate dough and form into 4 balls.
4. Then one at a time gently flatten the balls into your hand to form a patty, similar to forming a hamburger patty.
5. Warm some coconut oil or olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat.
5. Gently place the patties into the frying pan. Flip when golden brown.
6. Remove from heat when both sides are golden and let cool for a few minutes.
7. Using a knife, slice the arepa in half, forming a pocket. Sometimes the arepa separates completely, pulling apart and making it hard to keep it as a pocket, which is fine—it'll be more like a hamburger bun then with a top and a bottom. The dough on the inside of the arepa will be soft and sticky, so just in case you think it's not totally cooked, it is.
8. Add your choice of fillers.

I will always be grateful to Venezuela for introducing me to the deliciously wide-open world of arepas! Let me know what other great combinations you discover to put in your arepa.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Energy Balls for a Sweet Healthy Snack

A fast, easy snack that is packed full of healthy goodness. A no-bake cookie sprinkled with ground flax seed, packed together with nut butter (or sun butter in our case, for Will's nut allergy), and sweetened with raw honey and carob chips. This is definitely our top go-to sweet source of enjoyment, with the recipe sticky-noted on our cupboard.

1 cup dry oats (gluten-free for those of you who choose)
2/3 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup nut butter (I love organic almond butter, but sun butter works great for nut allergies, as it's made with sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup ground flaxseed (We grind our flax seed in our Blendtec.)
1/3 cup raw honey or maple syrup (The last few times I've used all-natural syrup and it's really good too!)
1/3 cup carob chips (or dried fruit if you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir it all together. It's a pretty good bicep workout, so plan ahead and on the day you make these maybe don't work out your right arm when you go to the gym. Chill in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes and then roll into balls. If the balls don't stick together very well, next time add a little less oats or a little more nut butter or honey. We roll ours into balls that are about 1-inch in diameter, which makes about 20 energy balls.