Themes for 2015

Happy January Y’all. Tis the season, of Inventory, resolutions, and motivation.  Last year I listed off several goals/resolutions/projects… and like most people they kinda fizzled out a few months in, though I did use my juicer SO many times, and I did succeed in taking January off from beer drinking. Alas, I still haven’t seen a nutria in real life (and I’ve been told by a few people that if this was my goal, I need to dream bigger.. but whatever… I did some pretty amazing things in 2014, I don’t think having the goal of seeing a giant gross water rodent should deter from all the awesomeness that transpired last year. And lets be honest, a Nutria is pretty much the closest thing to a Rodent Of Unusual Size I’m ever going to see, so I still maintain, it was a legitimate goal… clearly I need to get up earlier and hang out by more water… anyway I digress.)

Last year I also decided that I wanted to draw inspiration and focus on a few key words and ideas in my daily life, and for me this was a much better approach to the whole New Years thing. Because, setting an intention and seeing how that unfolds in your life is just as rewarding as setting a tangible “I’m going to do this specific thing.”  To some, I’m sure it doesn’t feel as satisfying as saying “I’m going to run a half marathon” or “Be a vegetarian” or “Floss my teeth twice a day” and typically I am a giant fan of tangible lists, but when it comes to setting goals and intentions for the year, I’m more of a right-brained individual.

This year, I have 3 major Themes that I’m trying to focus on and I’m excited to explore where they will take me.

Themes for 2015

Themes for 2015

1) Self-Care
The same people who are skeptical about Nutrias have also commented “What are you talking about, you are great at self care! You go to yoga, you eat healthy.”  And these things are true, but a few weeks before Christmas I was sitting in a restorative yoga class (literally strapped in and propped up in a supported boat pose) and I just couldn’t shake the idea that I needed to start taking better care of myself. Not just in the physical sense, but also mentally and emotionally.  Yes, I DO teach yoga and barre, and I DO try to eat healthy, and I am oh so very good at letting myself put my feet up and relaxing with a glass of wine when things get stressful, but I think there is more to it than that.  For all the aspects of self care that I’m really good at, there are others that I’m pretty terrible at. I don’t get enough sleep, I sleep with my cell phone and laptop next to me, I don’t push myself to exercise daily, I drink too much coffee… the list goes on… and overall I don’t think these things are terrible, but I know there are times when I could be making a better effort to take care of myself… I’ll probably still eat boxed mac and cheese from time to time, and let’s be honest, the coffee isn’t going anywhere, but I’m excited to explore Self-Care as an overall theme for the year. (afterall, I’m turning 30 in 2015!) And I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t know exactly what this is going to look like, but I imagine it will involve drinking a lot more water, and a little less booze. Being outside more, making meaningful connections, and taking more yoga classes. Spending more time in meditation, drinking a little more green tea, and a little less coffee. Incorporating essential oils into my daily life,  reading more books, taking more introverted re-charge moments, and also pushing myself out of my comfort zone more. It’s giving myself permission to say no, and inspiring myself to say yes. It’s going to bed a little earlier, and turning off technology at 10pm (ish). Its taking  occasional Spa days, and grown up vacations.   And what I love most about this idea of Self-Care, is that I know it’s going to look different every day. It’s not an all or nothing thing that says “You have to do ABC to achieve XYZ”  It’s more about tuning in to how I’m feeling in each moment, and giving myself the support that I need physically and mentally.

 

2) Authenticity 
This year I’m going to try and focus on being the most authentic version of myself. I’m not saying that I have a tendency to be fake or in-genuine, this blog is pretty real!  but Authenticity is another word that keeps coming to mind when I think about 2015. It’s interesting, because I feel like there is so much encouragement out there to celebrate what makes you unique (and I fully agree with this!) but sometimes I think maybe We (I’m using the general WE here, and) are a little guilty of pushing our uniqueness on people. Maybe pushing isn’t the right word… Let’s say we tend to lead with what makes us different, as a way to stand out to make an impression. And overall, I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with that. I think people need to own their quirks and what makes them different and celebrate their unique view of the world, but I think sometimes in doing that it is easy to lose other parts of yourself. I know that I sometimes play to my audience, I highlight areas of my personality that I think other people will be interested in, I post photos on social media that I think other people might like etc… And its ridiculously easy when we are building our own personal brand to put a spotlight on a few key things we want people to remember, while we squirrel other things away. Again, I’m not saying that I have this secret life, and that I’ve been creating a false persona… But I am saying that in 2015 I’m not going to worry about playing to my audience or pushing things into the foreground. I’m going to focus on having authentic interactions, I’m going to own my opinions, (even if that means jumping on some bandwagons) and I’m going to let my authenticity be the thing that attracts people.

 

3) Gratitude
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Gratitude is a game changer, and this year I’m going to try to focus more on the things that I’m grateful for. Big stuff, little stuff, totally random off the wall stuff. Whenever those little nuggets of negativity start creeping in, I’m going to try to focus on the good and have a sense of gratitude.
What are some of the themes you are wanting to focus on in 2015?

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Easy Appetizer: Winter Endive Bites with persimmon and pomegranate

Winter endive bites with persimmon and pomegranate

Winter endive bites with persimmon and pomegranate

Happy National Appetizer Day!  (What? Really? There is such a thing? I had no idea until Sunday night when I saw a sign announcing it at Trader Joes, but since I had already been mentally composing this blog post about my favorite go-to appetizer, I thought it was kismet.)

I’ve always thought that as an adult, one should have a go to, meal, dessert, and appetizer in his or her cooking repertoire. Ideally the dishes should be easy, tasty, and just a little bit unique…  ( Mine are: endive bites, coconut oven fried chicken, rosemary thyme sugar cookies. ) Even if you don’t cook for yourself on a regular basis, you still need to be able to have those meals you can pull together to impress a date, the in-laws, or survive a work potluck or bake-sale.  These items don’t necessarily need to be cohesive, and they most certainly don’t need to be complicated… but having these go to meal components up your sleeve will most definitely come in handy.

Tangent: You might also want to consider adding a vegan dish to your repertoire.  Because lets face it, we all have vegan friends, and they like to eat delicious things too, and though they are choosing to miss out on things like crème fraiche, you also don’t want to be the friend who serves them things that taste like cardboard because you can’t figure out something delicious and plant based to make. Fact: Cooking vegan is NOT THAT HARD… and yet I know so many people who down right panic at the idea of eliminating meat, and dairy.  Last year I had two Vegan and gluten free friends over for dinner… we had a delightful meal of black rice, raw zucchini noodles and tahini dressing with roasted vegetables…(ok, confession, I rarely cook meat a home, because it grosses me out, and since I rarely cook it it makes me nervous… so when I’m at home I’m mostly a vegetarian… so I’m allowed to go off about how vegan cooking isn’t that hard… because  if you take eggs and cheese out of my diet… I pretty much live in a land of quinoa and roasted veggies…) and as we sat there, they told me about all the dinner party horror stories they had from people who just couldn’t quite get a grip on vegan cooking. Here is a hint… just because you are limiting your ingredients does not mean you have to limit the flavor.  Plants are delicious, seasonal plants are even more delicious… you can still use things like salt, and spices, seeds and a myriad of other things to make your food taste awesome.

Also, to all my vegan friends out there. Don’t freak out when you cook for non-vegan people. You don’t need to defend how you eat or what you made for me… and don’t sit around fretting about if I’m going to be satisfied with the meal, or if I am judging you… I will be satisfied, and I’m not judging you (and most other people probably aren’t either). Fact: you eat this way, and it satisfies you, Cooking for someone is a wonderfully nice thing, and educating someone on new ways of thinking and eating is pretty neat too. Just because I choose to eat eggs and cheese doesn’t mean I think you are crazy for choosing not to eat those things.  So just relax, keep doing what you do…

But I digress, and this IS supposed to be about appetizers.. and is, in fact, not a lecture on life skills and eating habits….  So onto Winter Endive Bites.

Here is what I love about endive bites. Everything.   They are ridiculously simple, but  seem a little bit fancy, so you kind of get extra bang for your buck. You can make them in about 5 minutes, put just about anything in them, and they act as their own cup, so they are a completely self contained nibble that works great for passed apps, or stationary h’orderves.  The endive is crunchy, so you automatically have texture built in, and the bitterness of the green is remarkably versatile.

You could come up with hundreds of different fillings to put in endive bites, but one thing to consider is texture, color, taste and overall presentation. (another favorite is roasted beets with walnuts and blue cheese… or blood oranges with fennel, parley and chévre) What I love most about this particular recipe is the marriage of sweet and savory. The persimmon has a little sweet nuttiness to it, and the pomegranate is simultaneously sweet and tart. The pistachios add some texture, and then the gremolata brings in a little zing.  There are a lot of flavors at work, but they all meld together to present this really gorgeous bite.

persimmons, cubed.

persimmons, cubed.

IMG_0547

Winter Endive Bites with persimmon and pomegranate 

Serves 5-6

  • 2-3 heads of endive
  • seeds from ½ of a pomegranate
  • 2 persimmons
  • 1 handful of shelled pistachios (pulsed in a food processor a few times, or lightly smashed)
  • 2-3 spoonful’s of gremolata*
  • olive oil (I recommend using a slightly fruity olive oil in this recipe. I used the 2013 olio nuovo Koroneiki olive oil from The Oregon Olive Mill… which was very ripe, and has a lot of green banana flavor. )
  •  Finishing salt to taste (obviously I use Jacobsen Sea Salt Cause it’s amazing.)
  1. Cut the bottoms off the endive and separate the leaves. Wash and dry the endive leaves and set aside.
  2. Cut the persimmon into small chunks and place in mixing bowl with pomegranate seeds and pistachio. Lightly mix together and then add 2-3 spoonful’s of gremolata. Drizzle with olive oil. Taste, and add salt as needed.
  3. Scoop the mixture into endive cups, and serve immediately.

IMG_0548 IMG_0523

*Gremolata

  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced.
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped.
  • Mix gremolata ingredients together in small bowl and set aside.

*Gremolata is one of my new favorite things. It is great in soups, on salads, mixed in with rice, on fish… the list goes on. For this recipe, I recommend making it separately and adding it to the rest of the filling, that way you can keep the excess gremolata to garnish other dishes throughout the week.

Note. The gremolata will last a few days in the refrigerator but due to the texture of the persimmons, the fruit mixture doesn’t keep as well.

5 tips for at home juicers

 

$141 worth of produce

$141 worth of produce

Here we are, day one of Juice Cleanse extravaganza 2014 (It’s a working title) I’m going to spend the next five days not eating solid food, living off of juice, water, tea, and coconut water! Hooray! (no really, I’m excited) This will be my 3rd juice cleanse, and by far the longest, and though I’m a little nervous (I work in a restaurant surrounded by amazingly delicious things all the time… hello temptation) I’m mostly just ready to get this show on the road.

I wrote out menus for each day, made a grocery list, and made a few decisions about what sort of cleanse I was going to do.  After giving it a lot of thought, I decided to try and do all organic. I’m not about to get on my high horse and preach the benefits of organic eating, but eating organic whenever possible makes a lot of sense to me, and especially when juicing. Juice allows the nutrients to enter into your blood stream rather quickly, because your body doesn’t have to break down any fiber etc. Call me crazy, but it seems like anything that is essentially going to be directly entering your blood stream should be organic (I know my logic is flawed. But so what!)

And even though I’m on a tight budget I figured I would let myself splurge on organic. After all, I don’t have a family to support, I won’t be going out all week, and I won’t have expenses like coffee, takeout, and sadly I won’t have Wine Wednesday.  I set a budget for myself, and shopped around a little and tried to find the best bargains. This was a little labor intensive, and I ended up going to 5 different stores, but overall I was successful.  (I know five stores sounds like a lot. I could have narrowed it down, but I knew some stuff I wanted to get in bulk, some stuff I could only find at Whole Foods, some stuff I knew Trader Joe’s had at an excellent price… This is why planning is key. ) I couldn’t find organic grapes, and I opted to get a case of Meyer lemons at Costco rather than conventional organic lemons. I also did not buy organic fennel bulb ( I feel like I’m confessing my sins… but its my blog, so I’m not going to justify why I bought the fennel that I did..) And I was able to get everything I’m going to need for 5 days (and then some) for $141. I This breaks down to $28/ day.  Manageable. (my professional juice cleanse ended up being about $50 a day including delivery, so I’m thrilled with $28).

 

super delicious OM juice from Portland Juice Press

super delicious OM juice from Portland Juice Press

golden beets, meyer lemons, ginger and turmeric root, kale.

golden beets, meyer lemons, ginger and turmeric root, kale.

I’m not planning on eating anything, though I might supplement with chia seeds, coconut oil and, depending on how the first few days go, nuts.  I’m also going to practice oil pulling while I’m on my cleanse. I haven’t done any research about a combination of the two, but it seems as though they would go hand in hand. (you can read more about oil pulling here.)  I know that my hardest day will likely be Tuesday, since I’m working a 10 hour shift. If I can make it through a day at the restaurant, and a staff meeting where everyone is drinking beer and eating cheese, than I can make it through anything.

I thought a bit about what I wanted to say in this post, and decided that I’m not going to ramble on about how wonderful juicing is, why I’m doing it, the health benefits, the pros and cons etc. I’m not a nutritionist /doctor/health coach/ expert in any sense of the word, and there are about nine gazillion other websites and blogs you can visit to get menus, facts, benefits etc. I really like the way juicing makes me feel, and after the holidays my entire life feels like it needs a mini-detox.

I am going to offer up 5 pieces of advice for anyone who is embarking on, or thinking about embarking on a juice cleanse, and hopefully these little nuggets of information will help make your life a little easier.

1)   Do your research. Whether you are going to be juicing at home, or juicing through a company, you need to spend a little time looking into things. How much will it cost? Do they deliver? what kind of juicer are you going to get? How long will the juice last? Do you have time to juice?  These are all pretty basic questions, and all things you should probably have a pretty good grasp on before you commit to a cleanse.   My first 3 day cleanse was through Portland Juice Press, and I really cannot say enough good things about it. They were so wonderful to work with, they offered a group rate, delivered it all the way to us in Dundee, and the best part is that there is no mess. You don’t have to spend hours a day making juice and cleaning up, you just open up your fridge every few hours and reach for the juice. They even tell you what order to drink them in. The flavors were really interesting, the juice was satisfying, and the entire process was pretty much painless.   From there I became a little addicted, and since I’m an hour outside of the city, I decided to invest in my own juicer.  There are countless different brands, makes, and models out there, so again you really have to know what it is you are looking for in a juicer. My priorities were juice quality, and easiness to clean.  I ended up with the Omega 8006 juicer, and I’m so in love. A little on the pricey side, but it has 15 year warrantee, is super easy to clean, and it is what they call a masticating juicer. Essentially it crushes the juice using a very slow rpm, which helps keep the juice from oxidizing, and it maintains more of the healthy enzymes and benefits. Juice from a masticating juicer also has a longer shelf life, so you have up to 72 hours to drink your juice (other types they recommend consuming the juice right away or within 24 hours) This type of juicer is perfect for doing a cleanse because you can make juice for a couple of days in advance. Once you know what you are wanting out of a juice cleanse/ juicer it is easier to commit. Also keep in mind that juicing is not a quick process. You are going to need to block off some time to make the juice (its like cooking) you have to chop everything, juice it, clean the juicer etc… If you are going to be juicing for the entire day, it could take up to two hours ( including all the prep and clean up…masticating juicer do go a little bit slower, but they also extract more juice.)

2)   Make a Plan: sit down and write a menu. Seriously, treat it like you would a dinner party. List out all the days and exactly what juices you are planning on making (you can always switch it up) and from there make a grocery list. Its easy to see exactly what you are going to need once everything is listed out, and once the grocery list is made its easy to write out notes about where you are going to look for each item. Spending 15 minutes making a menu and grocery list will make it so easy once you are actually out shopping, especially if you have to go to multiple stores, you will know exactly what you need to get.

3)   Plan Ahead (this goes hand in hand with Make a plan).  Though I’m sure there are people who just jump into a detox like this, I think you will be a lot happier with the results and the entire process if you take a little time before and after the cleanse to make some minor changes to your diet and lifestyle. For me the biggest things to cut out in advance are alcohol and caffeine.(  Of course it is recommended to cut out dairy, meet etc. beforehand, and to try and eat a clean and unprocessed diet at least a few days in advance) All I know is that I drink a lot of coffee, and the last thing I want to do is be on a juice cleanse while suffering from caffeine headaches. Save yourself the headache (sorry, couldn’t resist) and get off caffeine a few days before you start. I switched to tea about a week ago, and stopped caffeine entirely two days before.  Look at your calendar, because the last thing you want is to be in the middle of a juice cleanse while you are out at a birthday party, wedding, or other social engagement. I mean its fine, its not like you are on house arrest when you are juicing, but if everyone around you is drinking, eating, and having a grand old time, you will probably hate your life a little bit, and be tempted to cheat.   Also, clean out your refrigerator before you go shopping.  You are going to need to place to store the produce, and all the juice, and it takes up quite a bit of space.  How are you going to store your juice? (I personally use mason jars, they are the perfect size for one 16ish oz serving, and they fit well in the fridge) Are all your jars clean?

4)   Drink so much water. Seriously. Drink it. You are essentially releasing a ton of toxins from your body, and they need to be flushed out. They are looking for any way to get out of your body, and chances are they are going to be flooding out of your pores (breakouts, and bad breath are common side effects of juicing because of this) drink water, drink water, drink water.   (this is probably the hardest part for me. Especially when I’m at work, and literally have to get someone to cover my station every time I go to the bathroom. Its not like I can discretely slip away and have no one notice, I actually have to tell someone, sometimes multiple people “hey I’m going pee, cover the front”  On normal days this is fine, but on busy days there are lines out the door, and sometimes abandoning your post, even for a 2 minutes bathroom break, just isn’t happening. )

5)   Make your own rules, and give yourself a break.  Juicing is hard, and you know your body. If you need to eat, then eat. You have just stocked up on all this great stuff to put in your juice, if you absolutely need a snack, then eat one of the oranges, have a handful of nuts, do what you need to do, and don’t judge yourself for it. I always carry a handful of almonds in my bag when I’m doing a juice cleanse, just incase I need a little boost of texture and protein.  Maybe on your juice fast you juice during the day and have a healthy meal at night. Maybe you eat nuts and solids all day. Maybe you are just juicing as a supplement. Find what works for you. Also have fun, try some new ingredients! Have you juiced asparagus? Tumeric root?

*Side Note:  Because I feel like it has to be addressed, because everyone always asks me in person: Does a juice cleanse make you poop a lot/ give you the runs? Though it seems of-putting to be talking about brown-towning in a blog about juicing/ being healthy, I get why people ask that question.  My simple answer is: everybody poops. Lets just think about it… you are drinking liquid for days… what do you think that would do to your bowel movements? Everyone’s bodies and eating habits are different, and I think if you eat enough fiber on a regular basis you aren’t going to really notice a big difference.  Some days were looser than others, and I’m just going to leave it at that. I never felt like I had to stay close to a restroom, or like I couldn’t go out and do things, there were no emergencies.

 

And just because I don’t want to end a blog post with everyone thinking about bowel movements here  is a recipe for one of my favorite juices .

5 carrots

¾ of a red bell pepper

1 apple

1 inch of turmeric root

 

cranberry, orange, fennel bulb, pomegranate

cranberry, orange, fennel bulb, pomegranate

 

golden beet, carrot, orange, fennel bulb and ginger juice

golden beet, carrot, orange, fennel bulb and ginger juice

Accessorizing my oatmeal: a little healthy breakfast pizazz

I wouldn’t say that I’ve been on a health kick necessarily ( yeah, I’m still eating bacon cookies and cheese pizzas at work with some frequency) but over the last few weeks I have been trying to make a conscious effort to cook and eat healthy while at home. The green smoothies are evidence of that, and as my work days get longer, I’m realizing that the best thing I can do is set myself up for a successful day with healthy food. There are an onset of 12 hour days in my future, and I’m also training for a half marathon… IE my body needs to be fueled appropriately… ( sometimes with pizza & bacon cookies ok! )

This morning I came home from a run and was racking my brain as to what I should eat for breakfast. I was laying on the floor next to the pantry and glanced up into the shelves to see if I could get some inspiration… Quinoa? Cheerios? Toast? And then my eyes fell upon a mason jar full of oatmeal. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had oatmeal, but on this overcast morning something warm and filling sounded perfect.

I decided immediately to add a little pizazz to my breakfast, and immediatly went to my freezer and pulled out almonds, walnuts, and flax seed, blended together with a dash of cinnamon, this created a nutrient dense and delicious topping. I then took it a step further by adding in some chia seeds and coconut oil, and just a splash of agave for some sweetness. Can you say power house breakfast? Loaded with fiber, protein, omega 3s, B vitamins etc. ( ok yes, also a fair amount of fat from the coconut oil & the nuts… But it’s the good kind! ) this was just what I needed to fuel my body post run/ pre-yoga.

I might not always eat as healthfully as I should, or as healthy as I would like, but you have to start somewhere, and today I started with supercharged oatmeal.

Recipe:
( I pretty much just eyeball everything, so use your best judgement/ make to taste)

1/2 cup oatmeal prepared normally

Topping:
Small handful of walnuts
1-2 TBS golden flax seed
2 TBS sliced almonds
Cinnamon to taste
1 TBS chia seed
Spoonful of coconut oil.

Blend flax seed, walnuts & almonds together ( I used the magic bullet, but a food processor or coffee grinder would work) add in cinnamon & pulse a few more times.

Add topping to oatmeal, along with chia seeds & coconut oil.

Mix & enjoy! ( add milk or soy milk if desired)

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