Eat Well Easily – Pantry Staples

Food really is the be-all-to-end-all. It gives us energy, it can alter our mood, heal our bodies. It can also cause disease, contribute to obesity, and destroy our organs. It’s all about what you do with it.

I cook 100% paleo 90% of the time. People ask me for my recipes often. And when I give them up I get these blank stares followed by a “really?!?”. I don’t cook much that is terribly complex. Doesn’t need to be. Here are a few ingredients you should have on-hand. It really makes putting together a meal super easy.

Oils

The oil you use to create your meal can really make or break it. There are places to use EVOO and places to use coconut oil (CO). You can also use grapeseed, avocado, or sesame, but you’ll find the EVOO and CO are your go-to. Here’s how I use them:

EVOO: Roasting, sauteeing, salads, frying
CO*: Baking, butter replacement, coffee/tea, frying

*I like to get the unrefined coconut oil, which does have a distinct coconut flavor. The refined oil is a little more versatile, but I like the flavored stuff better.

Spices

Cooking with spices allows you to make some very tasty dishes without getting overly complicated. I LOVE Penzeys, as they have many salt-free blends, they do not contain chemicals and preservatives, and you can find just about anything you want. Just make sure you read the labels, some of the blends do contain sugar.

If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can make your own spice blends. I make my own taco seasoning, breakfast sausage seasoning, and Montreal steak seasoning.

My go to spice cabinet staples are Penzeys Mural of Flavor, Herbs de Provence, Rogan Josh, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and oregano. What are yours?

Flours

Whether you’ve got a hankering for fried pickles, stuffed peppers, or a mug cake, you’re going to need friendly flours. My top 3? Almond flour, coconut flour, and tapioca flour/starch. I can do just about anything with these 3 on hand.

That’s it! If you’re getting into paleo or doing a whole 30, these are the main pantry staples I would keep on hand. I’ll get into the food next time 🙂

xo
c

 

 

 

The Pursuit of Happiness

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for – and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool – for love – for your dreams – for the adventure of being alive.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer

I had an interview yesterday that landed my foot into my dream career. When asked if I was actively pursuing a full-time corporate marketing career, I told her “I don’t think so. I’m looking for a position that sets my soul on fire, rather than something where I have to set myself on fire for someone else’s dream.” True story.

This year, I am daring to dream, to follow my hearts longing. Getting out of my comfort zone, teaching cardio kickboxing, freelancing my email marketing skills, networking with folks. A new outlook on life. A new approach to love, business, and life. I will ask for what I want. I won’t settle for what I know isn’t right. My worth will not be determined by someone who doesn’t even know who I am. I will not be someone else for your comfort.

And I owe it all to my former employer. If I hadn’t learned how I didn’t want to be treated, I may have never had the guts to go out and get what I deserved.

2017 is definitely shaping up to be the beginning of the rest of my life.

xo
c

Eggplant Güveç-ish

I have a confession. I just learned about the ethnic cookbook section of my local public library. 😦 Seriously. I don’t know why but I never thought to peruse the library for that kind of stuff. Doh!!

It makes it even more “DOH!” when I say that I LOVE ethnic food. I love eating it, I love trying to cook it, I love learning about the unique ingredients. I’m a little bit of a junkie. So having this free resource of any culinary ethnicity you could dream of, right at my finger tips, it’s like a 13-year-old boy finding dads porn stash. Goooood stuff.

I’ve been drooling over Persian fare ever since Caspians in Minneapolis. That there is some good shit. Subtle, comforting, warm, easy to eat. So when I saw a cookbook on Syrian, Turkish, Greece, and Lebanese, I felt like this was a good next step and I snatched up a copy of “The Ottoman Kitchen”. Ooooh yeah. Just what I was looking for. Eggplant 🙂

If you’re not familiar with middle eastern cooking, those beautiful people put eggplant in EVERYTHING. Sauces, stews, they stuff it and fry it and roast it. Yum.

I digress…

I found this recipe for Eggplant and lamb güveç. Simple, fresh, and something I knew the kids would like (which would open the door for more experimentation). It also didn’t contain grains, which is a huge bonus. The butter/ghee makes for a beautiful silky base.  The combination of veg and herbs satisfies every flavor family leaving you completely comforted. 

There were a couple things that I wanted to tweak right off the bat, but I don’t think it changed it enough to write home about. It did make it paleo and Whole 30 friendly though 🙂 Feel free to replace the ghee with butter and the date paste with honey, if that’s in your diet!

Without further ado…

C’s Whole 30 Eggplant Güveç

1lb of eggplant

1lb beef stew meat

1 large onion, chopped

4 tbsp ghee, divided

2 bell peppers

3 large beefsteak tomatoes, quartered

1 tbsp date paste

3 sprigs fresh thyme

Handful of fresh parsley

Olive oil

Peel your eggplant and slice the long way four equal times. Turn and slice into 1″ pieces.img_1114 Place cut eggplant into a colander, toss with salt, and set in the sink to drain 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile…

In a heavy bottomed pan (I use my cast iron dutch oven) melt ghee over medium heat. When melted, add chopped onions and saute until onions are soft and golden. Add meat and cook until meat is browned on all sides and liquid has evaporated. Remove from pan and set aside.

 

Next, rinse eggplant and pat dry with paper toweling.  Heat about 3/4 of an inch of olive oil in clean frying pan. To ensure the eggplant doesn’t absorb too much oil, make sure it is very hot. Fry eggplant in batches, browning each side. Remove from pan and set on paper towels to drain.

Return heavy pan to medium heat with remaining 2 tbsp ghee. Hurl, yes, according to the cookbook, you hurl in the peppers and cook until soft, 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and date paste and cook until the tomatoes start to break down.

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Return your meat and onions, top with thyme and stir in eggplant. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.

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Remove from heat when meat is tender, stir in parsley, and let rest for 20 minutes. Serve with rice or naan.

Mmmmmm. Damn good grub. Enjoy!

xo

c

 

 

 

Stuffed Peppers Whole 30 Style

We love stuffed peppers. L-o-v-e love them. How can you not?!? The peppers turn sweet and soft, the flavor seeps into the beef. They’re hearty and they fill that void that only comfort food can.

My oldest boy J wanted to learn to make them at 7. He mastered the “old way” by 10. But that old way was made with ketchup, oatmeal, and seasoning blends with all kinds of gnarly ingredients. Something had to change.

I didn’t want to take a page from the meatloaf playbook, this wasn’t meatloaf, after all. These were beautiful meat filled bombs of flavor. *drooling*


Isn’t it pretty?? With a side of baked mashed sweet potato and a big salad, that’s some serious 50 Shades food porn right there. Yes sir. So good. And you too can have this deliciousness. See below 🙂

Paleo/Whole 30 Stuffed Peppers

4 bell peppers, your choice of color

1 lb grass fed beef

3 tbsp almond flour

1 egg

1/2 can tomato sauce + more for drizzling

2 tbsp homemade Montreal Steak Seasoning

Preheat oven to 350

Lightly grease a round casserole or 8″ square baking dish with olive oil

Wish together egg, sauce, and seasoning in a med bowl. Add beef and mix well. I like to get in there with my hands, get everything evenly distributed. Add the almond flour, incorporating each tbsp well before adding another.

Form meat into a ball and divide into 4 equal portions.

Put one portion in each pepper, place peppers in baking dish. Drizzle with some more sauce.

Cover dish tightly and bake for 35 minutes. Remove cover and bake 10 minutes more.

Eat the shit out of it. Yum.

xo

c

Finding Your Yoga

It happens to the best of us. As we launch ourselves into a brand new yoga practice, we have this preconceived notion of what we think it should look like. This idea comes from what Instagram and Facebook and Google image search results of skinny, limber yoga models show us. This is our perception. Which also becomes our expectation of ourselves. And perception and expectation, these are the root of all disappointment. Fo’ real.

The thing that makes me sad about this is that yoga isn’t about a body type. It’s not about being thin or being stretchy. It’s about finding out what you need from it. Finding yourself. And just as that is a difficult practice, finding your yoga can be a difficult thing. There are many different ways to practice yoga. It can be the breath-and-movement. Pranayama. Finding your relationship with the divine. The only constant in all of this is beginning right where you are. Acceptance. Presence.

And presence is the hardest asana of all. Lemme tell you what.

When you are present, the what ifs, the expectations, the “I’m not good enough’s”, these all melt away like the last snow of the season. Your breath becomes the focus, listening lightly to the cues of your teacher, vaguely hearing the music, never seeing those around you. That’s what happens when you are truly present. When you have found your yoga.

Sounds like bliss, doesn’t it? It really is. When you can achieve it. And after all these years, I can nail it about 70% of the time. That’s it. So I encourage you not to expect it always or judge yourself on your ability to be present during every class.

Just this morning, I couldn’t just breathe for more than one cycle. I had this hair-brained idea to wake up my J. Let him get his stuff done early. Welllll…that woke up Cameron. They argued about the bathroom. Then Cam played his piano. John had his radio on in the shower. I heard Cam dump the cereal. Then knock on the door to use the bathroom. And J hollered when he flushed. It was chaos. And my mind was all over it.

Yet when I went to class at 9:15, I can’t tell you of one single thought I had. Except for the one about the really handsome gentleman who was leaving as I was going in. I turned to look at him and he was turned around looking at me. It was a great moment. I hope to run into him again 🙂

But anyways…

Find that which makes you present. Let go of expectations. Of outside thoughts. Focus on the inner. And quit wondering about the cute guy you saw before class.

xo
c

 

What Makes it Flow

I have been thinking a lot about sequencing. I know, I know. It’s a little early, as I’ve just sent in my scholarship application and can’t teach yet. At all. *sadness*
Still…When I start teaching, one of my goals is to make classes people want to come back to. I always think back to the teacher in Minneapolis, Mitchell. He was AMAZING. The class was active, bright, and sweaty. I wanted to kidnap him and bring him back to Oshberg. See, I’m a sucker for a good flow class.

There are a few teachers that are on yogadownload.com that really rock the flow, too. Christen Bakken, Outlaw Yoga, and Geenie Celento, just to name a few. Check them out. You won’t be disappointed!!

So. What (in my opinion) makes a good flow class? I’ll tell you…

  1. Good tunes
    SO IMPORTANT!! I’m sure you’re more than a little perplexed as to why this is at the top of the list, but one cannot flow to Poetic Lullaby or Ocean Mystery. Get some funk in there. Some house music. Yoga Journal has some sweet ideas for great flow music. Take a page from their playbook if you’re stumped for ideas.
  2. Short warm up
    Sure. It’s definitely important to get the body ready to flow. But 15 minutes of warm up is not needed. I’d rather do 10 cycles of Kundalini circles, 10 cycles through cat cow, and five sun a’s with some side bends and back bends than stretch 6 ways to Sunday for 10 minutes.
  3. Dynamic, not static
    When it’s time to go, let’s go! I would rather go through the sequence three or four times per side then sit in each pose for 5 breaths and only do the sequence once per side.
  4. Build it up
    Christen is great for changing up the sequence. She will cue the same poses through 2 reps then add on. And add on again. Granted, many of her longer (hour) classes build to a peak pose, but that’s awesome! At least no one gets bored. And when worked correctly, they can be an all levels class.
  5. Keep it fresh
    When your students can go through your class without listening to you, you know that you’ve lost them. As much as yoga is a place to lose yourself and not allow your thoughts to interfere, it’s also a place to challenge yourself and break away from the norm. Don’t let your class get stagnant.
  6. Find an inspiring text
    One of my favorite things a few of the teachers both here at home and on Yogadownload.com do is create a theme for the class. There are some great books out there with inspiring poetry. Find one. Read it. Build your practice around it. Talk about it during your warm up and read it during savasana. Your students will love it. I promise.

And there you have my recipe for a great flow. It may not mean much, as I’m not a teacher (yet), but as a student, this is what’s important to me!

What makes a class great for you?? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

xo
c

 

Let It Come, Let It Go

Have you ever heard it say that you hold different emotions in your body? Joy, pain, memories? I believe that to be true…

It has been just over a month since I had my adventure with Mr. Snoop and a month since we chose to not talk anymore. About two weeks later, I started letting go. About two weeks ago I felt like I had. And it’s been okay. Until today.

When I was in lizard, trying like hell to let all of the current shitty events in my life go, the whole experience with the aforementioned love came flooding back to me. I was remembering things I didn’t know I remembered. Things we saw. Details about our conversation. Hearing his voice that I had all but forgotten the sound of.  His eyes. The last hug in the room, where he pulled me against his chest. And there I was, all over again, tears streaming during yoga.

No one tells you this. No one tells you that you will feel feelings that you had buried a long time ago (or a month-ish, as it were). We talk about letting things come up and then letting them go, but sometimes it doesn’t work like that. Sometimes they keep coming. The memories. The feelings. They come up and just keep coming. And it felt kind of good to feel them again.

Maybe that’s the “let it go” part. That you feel them. I mean, really feel them. Acknowledge those feelings. Let it hurt. Let the pain flood from your damn hips right through to your sweet heart, out your eyeballs and BOOM. It’s out.

For good? Maybe. But sometimes I hope not. I don’t really want to forget. Not all of it.

xo
c

 

Positive Body

I have struggled with a negative body image for years. Like, 22 of them. Last weekend I body imagewent to mothers. She gave me a box of crap from my childhod. There were old report cards, poems and stories, school awards, and other miscellaneous stuff that parents feel the need to keep for thier kids. And this “The good and the bad of my life” list from 8th grade. And there, right in the middle of the bad list, was the following statement…”Size 8. Too fat”. I’m going to say that again. Size 8. Too fat.

I don’t know where it started. There is no memory of anyone in my family talking about their weight or obsessing about what is put into their bodies. I do know that my mom has been working out as long as I can remember. So has my brother. But there isn’t anything, at least not at that point, that I can pinpoint to the idea that a size 8 was too fat.

Enter my first husband. I was young, he was not. I was madly in love and wanted to do anything to make him love me back. I was a 114 lb size 2. He would look at me and tell me I was a little plump. Daily. This is where my current obsession with size came from. If only I was thinner…I could find love, I wouldn’t get pushed around, I could get a better job, I could change my life. If only I was a little bit smaller.

What a sad way to live your life.

Recently, like as in the last month, I have chosen to love my body just the way it is. My esteem in this department is still fragile, but I’m getting over it. I can do some amazing things with this body. I definitely take care of it, but only to take care of it. Yoga, walking/hiking, and a paleo diet make me feel fantastic. Yes, they keep my weight and size consistent, but I’m not worried about it. I don’t look in the mirror and thing “ugh. I need to get rid of that *insert ‘far part’ here*”. At least not often.

I have realized that there are worse things than being fat. Instead of trying to be skinny how bout we be kind? Helpful? Trustworthy? Friendly? Let’s be faithful and straightforward. Honest and Grateful. Fuck all that “size matters” shit. Only the size of your love matters. Make that shit huge.

xo
c

Wiser or Just Older??

I always thought that I would be somewhere other than where I am by the time I was 36 years old.

Two failed marriages, numerous failed relationships, and now I’m unemployed. What. The. Fuck.

I mean sure. I’m not, like, old. Yet. And I have spent the better part of the last 19 years raising kids, being a soccer mom. But one would think that I’d know something by now.

Which begs the question; have I gotten wiser? Like, at all? Or am I just getting old?

I figured that making a list of things I know/can do would probably help me answer this question. Then it seemed tedious. And silly. There are a lot of things I know and can do that don’t make me wiser, they just…round out my skill set if you will. And in that determination, I realized that there is certainly a personal opinion as it pertains to the word wise. How do you know if you’re wise? What makes it so?

wisdom2

Well, yes. But…

For me, this is a much easier question to answer. Wisdom is making good choices. Not following those seat-of-your-pants whims. Knowing when enough is enough, be it food, drink, or toxic relationships. Saving for retirement. Having goals and making plans to achieve them. Not worrying about keeping up with the Joneses. Or Kardashians, as it is this day and age. Taking care of yourself, mind, body, and spirit. Not caring what people think. Passing up the expensive shoes and buying the good brandy instead.

Reflecting on this list, I realize that there is nothing about having that perfect job or being married to the love of my life. And that I have about 3/4 of these traits/thought processes down pat.

I guess I am at least a little wiser than I feel. 🙂

xo
c

 

Song of the Week: March 26 – April 1

The unmentionable adventure of my life came flooding back to me during lizard pose the other day. It doesn’t happen much anymore, but then suddenly there he was in all his glory.

Fuck. I had really hoped I was past that. Apparently not. So here’s to Snoop. And the times we had. Miss you, fucker. But…

xo
c