serenelysarah

Musings on healthy living


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I’m no Rachael Ray, but…

…I’ve got a 30 minute (or less) meal for you today!  I hate to out myself as I prefer for my husband to assume that I toil in the kitchen for hours and hours to produce our meals, but these recipes are just too flavorful and fast not to share.

Today I combined an easy baked tilapia recipe with roasted okra.  These are baked at the same temp in the oven, for the same amount of time, so it’s a breeze to throw this meal together.  If you have been feeling like you “should” be eating fish this would be a great gateway dish as the fish is mild and you get a lot of flavor from the other ingredients, including capers.  If you want to make it perfect paleo, just use coconut oil instead of butter.

A client gave me a bag of okra from her garden (my sister, horrified, “That wasn’t your tip, was it?”) and I was excited at the challenge to cook with a new vegetable.  I’ve had okra very rarely and only fried.  So I found an easy recipe for roasting it in the oven and it isn’t gummy or slimy at all (a common okra complaint)!  I like to add 1 tsp of garlic powder to kick up the flavor just a little bit more and make it more cohesive with the fish; I only used 1 tsp of salt, not 2.  Don’t be afraid to try new things!  Okra shares a lot of the same nutritional benefits as kiwi fruit, including high levels of folate and Vitamins A, C, and K.

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/baked-tilapia

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Roasted-Okra/Detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=okra&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&soid=sr_results_p1i1

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(Also pictured:  sweet potato which was microwaved for 6 minutes, then topped with raw coconut butter and cinnamon).

Now I’m headed out for a hair appointment and then I get to give veterans free massages tonight!  No one has time to slave away in the kitchen all day so I hope this inspires others that healthy food can also be “fast food”!

Be well!


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Serenity Now!

I’ve had to work a little bit harder on being serene lately.  While I enjoy fall, I’m also very aware that it leads right into winter, and the dwindling sunlight and cooler temps have left me feeling out of sorts.  I think there is a balance to be had in that I want to be compassionate for myself – winter just isn’t my season, and I’m not going to be at my best – while also reminding myself to control what I can and still be the best (diminished) version of myself possible.

So far, I’ve been pushing myself to jog on sunny, mild days, and I am also recognizing that this is a perfect time to commit to a consistent yoga practice.  While I concede that going to a yoga studio is great for hands-on adjustments and original sequencing, I am also very content with my DVD library at home as well as some online resources.  Staying in my pajamas and the fact that my husband is actually willing to do yoga with me are two big bonuses to the at-home option!  My favorite resource that I wanted to share today is doyogawithme.com; I’m simply amazed at the generosity of the diversity of sessions provided absolutely free.  While I haven’t done them all by any means (and have stayed safely in the “beginner” category thus far), I specifically wanted to share my current favorite, which is “bend and stretch” with Melissa.  Keep in mind that I personally really like yoga for meditation and flexibility purposes so this isn’t going to feel like a great cardiovascular workout per se, but it is a really delicious series of stretches that particularly focuses on the side body.

http://www.doyogawithme.com/content/stretch-and-bend

I just know I feel better, emotionally and physically, after doing it.  I’ll keep writing as I strive to discern and implement positive coping skills that AREN’T pasta and hot chocolate to get through the winter season.

Namaste!


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Zip a dee Zoodle

I have been traveling a lot lately and cannot even communicate how thrilled I am to be home.  I am excited for a return to routine and to be back in the kitchen, controlling what I consume!  My aunt gave me an Amazon gift card for my birthday and I knew just what I wanted…a spiralizer.  This is only the second kitchen gadget I have purchased since going paleo; the first being my food processor.

http://www.amazon.com/Paderno-World-Cuisine-A4982799-Tri-Blade/dp/B0007Y9WHQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1413766859&sr=1-1&keywords=spiralizer

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Yay!  I was even able to assemble it myself!  (note: this means it required nearly no assembly)  Then I just needed to find some recipe inspiration, so naturally I went to http://www.inspiralized.com and there I found a recipe for crockpot cauliflower “bolognese” – perfect!  I added some diced carrots and mushrooms to punch up the veggie content even more.

http://www.inspiralized.com/2014/04/14/crockpot-cauliflower-bolognese-with-zucchini-noodles/

Finally, my zucchini noodles, or “zoodles”:

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Whee!  Really easy.  Final dish was meat free, chock full o’veggies, and SO similar to the real thing that Chris was bemoaning his lack of garlic toast to mop it up.

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This is perfect timing as I’ve been kind of missing Italian food; I may try sweet potato noodles with meatballs next!  New kitchen tools are a great non-food reward for maintaining a healthy lifestyle; the spiralizer would also be a fun way to get kids involved in the kitchen and eating vegetables in a different form.

Be well!


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Hello Pumpkin!

Like pretty much everyone else ever, I love fall!  I don’t know if any other season has quite such a distinct “culture”, particularly in terms of food.  I’m sad to be losing the wide array of produce that was available to me in the spring and summer, but am embracing the seasonal change by eating yummy things like butternut squash soup and roasted fall vegetable salad with apple cider vinaigrette.   However, fall can be hard on a diet, particularly in the form of pumpkin “treats”; a grande Pumpkin Spice Latte has over 50 grams of sugar and no real pumpkin!  This year I wanted to find some good recipes that still felt like I was having a treat but also reaping the health benefits of pumpkin:  as one might anticipate given its orange hue, it has carotids to help prevent premature aging and cardiovascular disease, and it has a lot of Vitamins A and C, which protect the eyes and benefit the skin.

Here’s the best I’ve found so far!  First off, don’t be like me and try using the dusty container of pumpkin pie spice you bought 3 years ago for a Thanksgiving dessert.  Spoiler alert:  it no longer has any flavor, and neither will the food you make with it.   If you have a well stocked spice rack, you can easily make your own:

http://stupideasypaleo.com/2014/09/09/homemade-pumpkin-pie-spice

Of course I wanted pumpkin pancakes!  I found a great recipe which is dairy and grain free and has very little sugar (I do add the optional maple syrup but buy the real thing, grade b).  Note the coconut flour is listed as optional here, but I really recommend using it as it makes a big difference in getting good consistency.

http://balancedbites.com/2012/10/easy-recipe-pumpkin-pancakes-from-practical-paleo.html

I also have always loved chai, but no longer get chai lattes at Starbucks due to the aforementioned high sugar content in their beverages.  So I was really, really excited about finding a chai pumpkin bread recipe!  I made this into muffins instead of a loaf and it has been my husband’s favorite paleo baked good that I have made.  I used the new Tazo pumpkin chai tea bags so I got an extra boost of seasonings that way.

http://paleomg.com/chai-pumpkin-bread/

 

Finally, a savory recipe with pumpkin that is easy and delicious:

http://stupideasypaleo.com/2014/06/14/easy-paleo-chicken-curry/

 

Enjoy all that this and every season has to offer, and be well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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October is Om Month

I love to read, and my absolute favorite kind of book to read is what I will call the “experimental memoir”.  Basically, if you decide to do anything unusual for a finite amount of time and then write about it in a way that is amusing and thought-provoking, I will  be wildly entertained and thrilled to share the journey.  I have read about individuals who have bicycled across America, done something every day that scared them, cooked their way through a Julia Child classic, searched for a new best friend, read an entire Encyclopedia set, and lived literally by the Bible.  Why do I like these books so much?  I suppose I want the payoff – the wisdom and growth and self-awareness that will surely arise from these unique vehicles of discovery.  There’s something captivating about observing someone who does something extreme.

It suddenly occurred to me:  why just read when I can do?   I’ve overhauled a lot of different areas in my life, but the one thing I’ve been talking about for years yet never remotely committed to is meditation.  I think that’s sort of funny – I can do anything except sit and do nothing!   I’m going to embark on a challenge to meditate for at least 15 minutes every day in October.  For the most part, I’ll be trying to clear my mind, but I am also going to tackle a sort of deconstructed metta practice.  Metta means loving kindness, wishing others well, or “boundless friendliness”. Per the traditional stages of metta, week one I will focus on myself.  Week two I will focus on my dearest loved ones.  Week three I will focus on acquaintances.  Week four I will focus on people I do not like.   Week five I will focus on the entire world.

I’m certainly curious about what this experience holds in store.  I hope to be more mindful, more calm, more compassionate and more empathetic.  I hope to feel interconnected.  Thank you for listening, for holding me accountable, and know that I will be thinking of you, saying “may you be happy, may you be well, may you be free from suffering”.


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The Novelty Factor

My husband Chris and I recently went on vacation to Seattle and Glacier National Park.  We only had one day in Seattle, a city to which we had never been, and packed it full with all the things we wanted to do and see – Pike Place Market, of course, and the Space Needle, but also the EMP museum which has interesting pop culture exhibits and KEXP, my husband’s favorite radio station.  In the middle of the day we took a rest and just laid down in the middle of a park which is something I always mean to do at home but never do.

Then we went on to the park, and even though we have been to many national parks at this point, we were truly awed by the majesty and beauty of Glacier.  It is just incomparable.  I believe turquoise lakes nestled at the bottom of snow-capped glacial peaks may be my favorite landscape of all, and the wildflowers, big horn sheep, and mountain goats tipped the whole scene over to being just ridiculously perfect.  All the hikes we did found me in almost a state of befuddlement as I attempted to process the idyllic scenery as well as its history and evolution.  That’s the understood advantage of traveling – the “newness”.  You’re seeing things that are different than they are at home.

When Chris and I first got together, 13 years ago, he hadn’t traveled really at all.   When we started traveling together, I found him to be anxious, and he tended to rely on me to figure things out, which I didn’t like.  This impression solidified in my mind into a static aspect of his personality:  Not a Good Traveler.  On this vacation, I was jarred to realize that Chris is infused with energy, eagerness, and initiative when he travels.  He is intrepid and his only “anxiety” is to see as much as he possibly can!   He thrived on the novelty of it all…and I finally noticed.  And I stopped seeing my husband as he was 13 years ago and saw him as he is today.

On the flip side, I have a terrible habit of being so inspired during our vacation that I start planning future vacations.  I sometimes am not very good at being in the now.  On this trip, as we were hiking in Glacier, Chris remarked, “I’m proud of you!  You haven’t once brought up the future.”  I was thrilled that Chris noticed and affirmed my efforts to be more present (something at which he excels) instead of assuming I would remain mired in my old pattern.

I loved Seattle, and I loved Glacier, but I think the greatest gift of our trip was that I saw Chris anew, and he saw me too.

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Go Slowly

I recently learned that the standard Chinese goodbye translates to “go slowly” (much as we would say “take care”); I love this.  It makes me think about how we embark on change and want the sped up movie montage of improvement (with an amazingly perfect song for background music, naturally) instead of being kind to ourselves and allowing for organic transformation.

I began adhering to a Paleo diet in March. I’m not going to speak to what that entails in depth because the information is already out there if people are interested.  For me, I don’t focus as much on what I can’t have (although this is what bystanders tend to latch on to) but am more focused on simply eating as many different fruits and vegetables in a day as I possibly can.  I continue to do this because I have consistent energy all day, stable mood, clear skin, deep sleep, and a calm tummy.  It’s that simple – yet it has also been a time-consuming and expensive lifestyle transition.  It likely would not make for an arresting movie montage.  But whether we’re talking about a diet (and don’t we all want to eat a little better?) or virtually any other aspect of life, I think patience and compassion for ourselves is key.

Tomorrow, if you feel like making a change, why not tackle breakfast?  This is one of my favorite meals, but also one of the hardest I find in which to incorporate vegetables.  That’s why I am so excited about this new recipe I tried.

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As showcased in my breakfast from this morning, I present the zucchini pancake!  This is an easy and fast recipe (assuming you have a food processor for shredding the zucchini; if you don’t have a food processor, get one!  You will ask yourself how you went so long without.  I have a Hamilton Beach model from Amazon that was maybe $35).   It’s savory, is an easy way to get a vegetable serving at breakfast, is portable, and reheats really well.  I think kids would probably really like them as well so long as the little flecks of green weren’t a turn-off!  If you have a giant zucchini sitting in your kitchen and mocking you, as I did, this is a great way to use it up.  This recipe is from Diane Sanfilippo and is also included in her excellent cookbook “Practical Paleo”.

http://balancedbites.com/2011/02/easy-recipe-grain-free-zucchini-pancakes.html

Also, as Diane points out in the introduction to her recipe, these pancakes could make a really tasty burger bun substitute. We may try that tomorrow night for dinner.

Whether you try eating a better breakfast or an entirely different goal, I wish you success, and

Go Slowly!