Glazed Rainbow Carrots

One of the things I love about roasting things is how easy it is to let the magic of time in the oven, without a lot of supervision, create a masterpiece.  The second thing I love about roasting vegetables specifically is that it’s easy for those dishes to pull double duty.  What’s fantastic as a side dish for dinner is sometimes even more tasty the next day when I throw it into a salad!  Roasted glazed carrots are one such item – they caramelize as they cook, and the natural sugars make the carrots practically taste like candy when they’re done.  The sprintz of lemon gives the carrots just the right amount of acidity to add a small punch at the end. When you use rainbow carrots, the result is also just incredibly pretty. This is what healthy living looks like!

Glazed Rainbow Carrots

 

(4 servings)

2 lbs rainbow carrots

Salt & Pepper

1/4 teas ginger

4 Tbls olive oil, divided

2 Tbls honey

Lemon wedge

2 Tbls Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Peel the carrots and cut them into ½ inch disks.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet, and then place carrots in one layer.  Don’t worry if the carrots are touching each other.  Drizzle the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the carrots and then salt and pepper liberally.  Sprinkle the ginger on the carrots and roast for 25 minutes.  Flip the carrots, drizzle the honey over the carrots, and roast for another 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven, spritz with the fresh lemon, and garnish with parsley.

 

Nutritional Info: (per serving)

Calories           299 kcal

Carbs               32 g

Fat                   19 g

Protein            0 g

Sugar               21 g

California Poppies

Lately it seems like making “positive choices” is not moving the needle in any direction whatsoever…and when that happens for me, I start to question if my choices are worth the effort. Choices like buying organic (it can be more painful for my wallet), or choices like walking at least 3 miles a day (not exactly sore muscles, but I don’t see a difference in muscle definition or tone), choices like actively finding educational books to read to expand my mind (it takes more “work” than reading pop culture magazines). None of these things are bad.  I don’t regret choices to read something that expands my understanding and challenges my assumptions or to fuel my body with food that I know is more healthy.

Today I was reminded that sometimes even when we can’t see a difference being made every day, doesn’t mean work, growth, or change isn’t happening.  I’m talking about the poppies in my yard. I have always thought of myself as being a notorious black thumb; once I almost killed a cactus because I didn’t water it enough. I have felt for a long time that plants see me coming and immediately commit suicide as an easier means to death than to suffer my nurture. My neighbors, on the other hand, are naturals; if they just think about planting it in their amazing yard, the plants thrive. Inspired by their success, (albiet slightly intimidated), last summer, I planted a dozen seed packets around the yard, near the walkways, in patches by the fence, in the healthy unused outside my front door.  I figured that if something grew, I could be delighted, and if nothing grew, no one would know that I’d attempted, and therefore, couldn’t give me a hard time about the short life span of plants at my house.

To my delight and surprise, the poppies grew around my flagstone walk, but there weren’t any flowers, just the green plants.  That was ok, I’d managed to grow plants, and in my mind, that was a win right there! The season turned and winter came to Colorado; everything died amid the snow and cold. Then a month or so ago, little sprouts started to appear around the flagstone walk, and I was once again delighted to see that my poppies were going to come back. Next door, the neighbors’ poppies were in full bloom, and mine were still just the straggly plants, but they were getting bigger.  Yesterday, it was all fronds.  Today, there was a flower.  Just one flower, but it was a flower, and in my mind it was perfect!  All the work, the patience, the care, the watering, the sun, the consistency….it paid off.  Today there was a flower.  And next door is a promise of many more to come. Consistency in life – there is a payoff, and it’s worthwhile.  This is what healthy living looks like.

No Dressing On The Salad?

Everyone knows that salad is healthy, and it’s a great way to give your body the nutrients it needs. The problem I hear with salads is that it’s boring – iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and maybe some mushrooms. There is no real texture, it’s bland looking, and the only way to get more flavor is to add dressing which usually negates the healthy intentions of a salad in the first place! Salads are a perfect place to be creative. Remember that your palette desires sweet, salty, savory, and texture. Leafy greens, which are high in iron, calcium, and vitamin a to name a few, form the base of your salad. By adding natural sweetness and juice from fruits, salt and protein in the form of cheese, and using nuts as additional protein and texture, you won’t even need any dressing. This salad is healthy, quick to assemble, beautiful, and tasty – this is what healthy living looks like.

 

It’s Almost Summer Salad

2 cups of loosely packed greens*

½ cup blackberries, washed

1 blood orange, peeled and sliced into disks

1 oz cambozola cheese cut into chunks

¼ cup pistachios

 

*I use a mixture of whatever I have on hand – spinach, green leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, etc. I have found that for this salad, using more mild greens compliment the fruit and cheese better. But by all means, if you have kale or arugula and want to use that, go for it!  The goal is to incorporate dark green lettuces rather than an iceberg variety which is mostly water.

 

 

Nutritional Info:

Calories           396 kcal

Carbs               33 g

Fat                   27 g

Protein            13 g

Sugar               18 g

Balance

If you ask, it seems like everyone has The Answer; the one way to be healthy, the one way to eat, the one dietlifestyle you should follow, the one thing you should omit, the one thing you should add, the one exercise regimen that works, the one supplement package that is right for everyone, everything in pursuit of The Answer to lose weight/gain weight/add bulk/trim down/sleep better/get stronger/become more flexible/look younger/feel better/be more healthy. But is that the right way to find the answer…?

Maybe it’s actually the wrong answer. Maybe instead of one universal answer, there is simply an answer that’s right for you.  Because you are unique – your gender, age, metabolism, work requirements, habits, family, genetics, and DNA. You are special. Instead of trying to make everyone fit into the current fad or lifestyle de jour, maybe it should be about Balance, and finding out what works for you.  Don’t get me wrong – for every fad, lifestyle, diet, or exercise/training plan, you will find a kajillion testimonials, and chances are, those testimonials are true!  People share them because they found something that worked for them, and they want others to feel and experience that same kind of health and wellness. There’s nothing wrong with that, but at the end of the day, no one knows you better than you.

So consider Balance – in your work, your attitudes, your eating choices, your exercise habits, your excitement and your calm…in short, consider Balance in your life, and how that might be part of your answer.

Committed to Healthy Living

A commitment to healthy living is more than just a diet or commitment to exercise; a commitment to healthy living means to do, act, and be as healthy as you can be.  It is not, or should not be, a set of rules that you chain yourself to, at the cost of your own sanity.  For some, rules can be helpful, and for others, rules feel like the ultimate test of winning and losing – follow the rules, you are successful, miss the mark even once and you have failed completely.

I believe a commitment to healthy living should be more like what’s described in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl on the subject of the Code of the Brethren.  Upon being chastised for what he should or should not do, Captain Barbosa says, “…the Code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules. Welcome to the Black Pearl, Miss Turner.”  Well said, for a pirate, I think.  It’s the principle of the matter – guidelines are good, and often necessary, but they aren’t written in stone or blood.  Know your guidelines and then move on, get on with the business of living.

The fact is, you can’t just eat whatever you want, whenever you want, as much as you want, without exercising.  Doing that for one day might not hurt you, but a lifestyle of that behavior will affect your health and wellness.  At some point, the calories, the fats, sugars, and sedentary living will catch up with you in the form of higher weight, decreased sleep patterns, skin problems, joint pain, or loss of energy to name a few. Healthy living is about making and owning your conscious choices. Healthy living also means taking your whole life into consideration – the wellness of your body, mind, soul, and spirit.  Healthy living is not restrictive – it’s liberating because it takes the whole of the person into consideration.  It is the balance of needs and desires, it is where I want to meet myself, it is balancing in order to thrive and not just survive in this world.

I am committed to living out Healthy in the coming year. A healthy body that is intentional about the nutrients and fuel I give myself, and the exercise I do. I will choose to move on a daily basis, not just because it’s good for my body, but because it’s also good for my soul and well-being. I will engage my mind in new endeavors, new topics, new books, and new skills. I will keep writing. I will care for my soul by allowing myself to have space and grace, I will continue to find stillness and quiet times that allow my spirit to refresh.  I love people, and I love spending time with them, but I also know that for me to be in my best possible place in life, I have to have my own downtime.

Do you know what you need to maintain a healthy balance in your life?  Do you need more social interaction with community? Do you need to allow yourself more downtime?  Do you know what fills up your soul and ignites passion in your life?  Have you thought about what foods truly make you feel good to be alive?  When you know the guidelines for your own life, you have a blueprint for your own healthy living.  Join me. #LiveIntentionally

 

 

New Beginnings

The last time I posted a blog was a fictitious letter from my dog to me.  I had no idea at the time that he would pass away nine days later, and it truly broke my heart. Let me be clear, he was almost 15 years old and had lived an amazing life…it was time.  But it was the first time I truly experienced tangible grief in my life from “someone” close to me dying.  Part of my coping meant I took a break from writing.  Then I forgot why I wasn’t writing. Then I forgot to write.  Then it faded as something that I used to do….and then I’d write once in a while and forget to post to the site.  Yet, every time the renewal came up, I kept the site, knowing in my heart that one day, I was going to start writing again.

So here is to New Beginnings. Here is to starting fresh, celebrating the past and anticipating the future with joy. Here is to launching anew, a new chapter and new goals.  Here is to continuing to evolve into the person I am becoming. Here is to being Brave.

If we are not growing and changing, we are decaying. There have been lessons and stories, choices and decisions…. Today is a new day, and now is when we go from here.  Where is your “here”?  Join me.  Come with me on a journey….discover what the best self might be.  Struggle with balance.  Challenge yourself further than you think possible. Be inspired. Love. Your. Life.

 

Dear Mom… (a letter from my dog)

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Dear Mom,

I was just thinking about all the fun times we have together. There have been so many. I think I am the luckiest dog that I got to live with you. I know you weren’t sure at first, but I’m really glad you kept me. And I have really tried to be a good dog as much as I can. I know I have trampled your gardens, and sometimes I make the house dirty. I have tried really hard to always pee outside, and when I get into the garbage, it’s only because it smells so INTERESTING. I get a little distracted and forget that I’m not supposed to open the lid. I’m sorry. And, I want to state for the record, that it wasn’t me that at your Dansko clog – that was Molly. And I NEVER would have tried to eat that turkey and avocado sandwich if Molly didn’t first. It was all her fault. I have to be honest, Mom. I wasn’t crazy about Molly. But you and me? I think we have had some of the best times a dog and his girl can have together.

Hey! Hey!! Remember the time that you took me to that lake, and we swam and swam? And I got to get the Frisbee when you’d throw it? And then I got to chase the ball? And then I was so tired I had to rest a minute and we got to do it again? Do you remember?

What about the time we watched movies together on the back patio on the Big Pillow? Do you remember that? I might have snored a little bit, but the movie was so loooong. Do you remember?

Do you know what it’s like to go to Camp Cheese? I trained Grandma real good….she always gives me breakfast and water and lets me out and sometimes she makes me GrandmaSnack Cookies! If I know that she has them, I’ll stay up by the fence extra long and not come back in the house until she offers to give me one! She stands at the back door, and she calls, ‘Draaaaake…come here! Drake, come inside!’, and I wait a little bit…and then I sniff around the fence for something – there’s always new smells with all the people walking by – and then she says the magic words, ‘Drake! You want a GrandmaSnack? Come-on!’ And then I come running! Not so fast anymore. In my heart I’m still a puppy and I can outrun anybody, but my legs just don’t work so well anymore, so sometimes I have to take it a little slower.

The rabbits and squirrels know it, too, and sometimes they tease me a little bit. Especially the squirrels. The bunnies are just flat out obnoxious, so I chase ‘em out of grandma’s flower beds, but those squirrels! I think they plan it out…they’ll see me laying in the sun, and come down the tree and scamper towards me… hop, hop, scramble, pause….and they check to see if I’m watching. If I’m not, they chatter at me a little bit, just sort of to poke me I think. I whip my head up and narrow my eyes and I bark at them to let them know I might be old, but I’m not deaf! I don’t bother chasing them so much anymore…they’re just being ornery. But I let them know that I’ve got their number, and I’ve alerted Grandma and Grandpa. No siree, there will be no squirrels in our house!

Sometimes Grandma gets distracted and forgets to give me a cheese snack before bed. So, I remind her. I talk to her a little bit, and then she gets it right. You never give me cheese, but Grandma does every night. And I know you say they spoil me, but I don’t think that’s true. It’s not spoiling when I only get the most delicious snacks ever once in awhile!

I will say this, Mom, you are great about getting me toys. There was this one – it was a box that had squeaky balls inside, and I had to get them out! The squeakers were pretty damn annoying, too, so I had to really chew on them to get them to stop. You always say, “be NICE to the squeaker”, but I don’t think you really understand. What if the squeaker is really a small version of the squirrel – I have to make sure! I loved that box though. I’d carry it around the house with me and sometimes I brought it to bed. I have some dragons, and they are pretty cool. There was a duck once that I loved. I would groom it, lick his feathers, and keep it safe, he was my best toy ever. The new monster is pretty good, too. He makes funny crackling sounds AND has a squeaker. I like that.

The times when I got to ride in the car were amazing. And I always knew where we were going. I think sometimes you sort of forgot how to get places, and that’s the only reason I’d start talking to you in the car. I just wanted to make sure you knew, that I knew, that you knew how to get there. And if you didn’t, I was ready to help.

The time we went camping was epic. Yeah, I mean, it’s great being a city dog, but I think I could have been a country boy just fine. I’m not complaining! But going up to the mountains or out on the plains, rivers and grasses and sooooo many smells….yeah, those were good times.

But my best times were always with you. It didn’t matter what we were doing, just that we could do it together. If you were working and I could just take a nap in the same room, that was good. I love going for walks with you. And watching you cook. I love it when people come over because they give me all kinds of attention, and sometimes, they give me extra snacks….I like being in the middle of everything though. And with all those extra people around, I don’t want to somehow lose you, so I stick close, just in case. But it’s because you are my person. You are my world. You are everything. And I don’t ever want you to think that I might love someone else more.

So Mom, I just want you to know….I am the luckiest dog and I am happy. I have had such a good life. And every day I get to spend with you is the BEST day of my life. So let’s just keep being happy, for every day we still have left. Because until I can’t make it down the stairs anymore, I will always be ready to go for a walk with you. And I will always smile when you come home. And I will always love you best.

Finally, Mom, here are a couple things I don’t want you to forget, even after I’m not here….

  1. Always greet people with a smile and tail wag – you gotta let people know that you love them. Don’t hide that.
  2. Never turn down a snack. You never know if it’s the last one that will be offered.
  3. Work hard and sleep hard. Life it tough, so go after it all with gusto. It’s ok, there is time to sleep at the end.
  4. Five minutes of playing can turn your day around.
  5. This one is hard sometimes, but always try to mostly follow the rules. Nobody really likes a rebel who just causes trouble and makes other people clean up after him.
  6. Be loyal.
  7. Don’t be afraid to tell someone what you need, whether that is help, a listening ear, or that you are hungry or need to go out.
  8. Don’t forget that we are meant to be a pack, we are meant for community, so don’t try to do everything by yourself. The lone wolf howls at night because he is alone.
  9. Life is better when you risk a little bit. You’ll never get that proud feeling of saving the house if you don’t take on those fierce squirrels.
  10. When the time is right, let go. I will always live in your heart.

I love you, Mom, and I will always be your very best buddy. Nobody can take that away.

Love,
Drake

Coming Back to the Mat

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During a yoga class this week, my instructor said, “Everybody has a reason to come the first time, but what brings you back to the mat? Why,” he paused, “do you keep…showing up?”

It’s a powerful question that I have been pondering for several days now. People come the first time for a variety of reasons – because they got a Groupon or Living Social deal, for fitness or flexibility, for the social aspect or because a friend asked them, because of curiosity…. I have had guy friends tell me they went to see the girls in the cute little yoga outfits, sticking their booties up in the air, and girlfriends tell me they go because of the cute yoga instructor up front. I went mostly kicking and screaming, with great skepticism and trepidation.

In my mind, yoga was for the people who already knew how to do yoga, because if you didn’t already know the Sanskrit words for the different poses, if you didn’t know how to do the different movements, if you couldn’t keep up, then they would look down on you in distain. In short, it was a special club, that you either already belonged to, or you weren’t invited to join.

Last summer, I ran a marathon on an injury, and when the event was done, my team of coaches and trainers all told me that if I wanted to be able to keep running long term, I couldn’t run for a minimum of two months to really let my body heal. After two weeks I was stir crazy for something active to do. The only thing they agreed that I could do without further injury, was yoga, and only if I promised to do it at 50-60%.

So no one was more surprised than me, when I realized that I still wanted to show up regardless of injury. It went from being the only “allowed” exercise, to realizing that it was fun to see what crazy poses I was able to do. Then that changed to something even deeper, which is learning that it is less about perfecting poses (although I do like to strive towards looking pretty), and more about just being. It is the challenge of accepting myself in whatever condition I come to the mat, and choosing to be present for that hour or so. It is remembering the wonder that comes with doing things I had no idea I could do.

Anything worth doing in life usually takes some effort, and unless you find a deeper reason than what you started with, chances are that you will give up on it. This is true in relationships, diets or lifestyles changes, exercise, work patterns, and yoga. Eventually, the Groupon expires, the novelty wears off, it’s a lot easier to look at a yoga magazine than to show up and do the hard work in class if you want to see pretty people, and injuries do heal.

Yoga may have started out as an end unto itself for me, but it became about reflecting and finding inner peace and breathing. It became about the mat itself, letting that be my own space, where there is no judgment, except the judgment I bring to it. It is the smiling at myself, and giving myself grace, and listening to my body, and challenging my mind, and laughing when I fall, and choosing to get back up again. I come back to the mat because the mat will always meet me wherever I am.

“Peanut” Satay Chicken

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Last night I had a real craving for peanut satay chicken. There are two problems with this when you are adhering to Whole 30. First, you aren’t supposed to have peanuts. Second, traditional satay has a whole lot of brown sugar in it. So, I decided to get creative. By using sunflower butter, I found the nutty flavor I was looking for, and the coconut milk added the touch of sweetness it needed without actually adding a sweetener! I’ll be honest, it’s not the perfect replica, but it was pretty darn close! I served it over fried cauliflower rice, which was the perfect compliment!

(Serves 2)

  • 1/3 cup sunflower butter
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teas dried minced onion
  • ½ teas garlic powder
  • ¼ – ½ teas cayenne powder
  • ¼ teas ancho chili powder
  • ½ teas lemongrass
  • ¾ teas salt
  • 1 chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbls coconut oil
  • Cilantro for garnish

For the rice:

  • ½ head cauliflower, whirled in a food processor to create rice like consistency
  • 1 Tbls coconut oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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  1. Slice your chicken breast across the grain into very thin slices
  2. Put your sunflower butter, coconut milk, onion, garlic, cayenne, ancho, lemongrass and salt into a medium sized sauce pot and whisk together. It may look grainy with the coconut milk, but do not fear! Heat over medium heat whisking occasionally.
  3. While your sauce is warming, melt your coconut oil in a frying / sauté pan over med high heat.
  4. Add the chicken to the coconut oil and cook just through while stirring, approximately 4 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken directly to the sauce and let it simmer while you make your cauliflower rice, or up to 45 minutes with the lid on and the head turned down low.
  6. Make your cauliflower rice by melting the coconut oil over med high heat, adding the cauliflower, salt and pepper.   Stir and flip occasionally until your rice is cooked and browned to your liking.
  7. Serve the chicken over the cauliflower and garnish with the cilantro.

10 Keys to Starting Whole 30

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I have a number of friends who like to do New Year’s Resolutions. They often involve a new exercise thing, joining a gym, going on a diet, giving up cake, starting to spend more time outdoors, or committing to reading a certain number of books in a year. One of my friends wanted to do the Whole 30, which is, in essence, a paleo cleanse. She is more or less gluten free, but she really wanted to do a “hard reset” on her diet for the new year, and she asked me for some advice since I’ve done it in the past. I offered to do the 30 days with her to support her efforts, and also because I think it’s a good form of discipline for myself. Her questions and initial apprehension in getting started made me realize that there are some easy tips to put her on the path to success.

  1. Set your mind in the right place before you even start – that means deciding from the outset that you can and will do it. If you doubt yourself, you will have a hard time. Your mind is powerful, so use it to your advantage. It also means choosing a date to start, and well, then, just start. There is always a good reason to put it off or wait or something…the fact is, making a different in your routine is hard, and that’s what you’ll be doing.
  2. Hold it lightly. What I mean is, decide that you will do this, prepare, be committed to it, but if something happens on day 10 and you have a piece of bread, don’t beat yourself up, get back on the horse.
  3. Set aside one hour each Saturday or Sunday to prepare for the week ahead and write down what you plan on having for each meal, list some snack ideas, and identify the prep work you need to do. For instance, note that you need to take the chicken out of the freezer on Tuesday that you are going to use on Friday.
  4. As you plan your week ahead, spread your “left overs” out across several days and don’t try to eat it all in 3 or 4 consecutive meals. Your body and mind likes variety and it will keep your food interesting. Another idea is to make your left overs into “new” food. If you make a roasted chicken for dinner one night, repurpose the left over chicken into lettuce wraps for lunch the next day.
  5. If you are doing this with a partner, plan your meals together. So, if you are deciding what to have for dinners, I suggest that you pick two meals and your partner picks two meals that you definitely want to have that week. The other three meals can be leftovers or “pick up meals”. Your partner’s buy-in and involvement will keep him or her invested in the effort, and will help you in the motivation department, too!
  6. Also as you are planning, take into account your “busy” days, and don’t try to do too much. I have a yoga class on Tuesday nights, after work. So between getting home, taking care of the dog, changing clothes, getting to class on time and fighting rush hour, I have very little time to prep a meal. Tuesdays are a great night for me to use the slow cooker, or to have left overs, and I put that into my plan.
  7. Speaking of too much, don’t try to start lots of new things when you embark on the Whole 30. I know it’s tempting to decide that you are going to turn over a BIG new leaf and start Whole 30, a new exercise regimen and getting up 45 minutes earlier every day to take care of all those house chores first thing, all in the same week. Don’t put yourself under this kind of pressure to make so many drastic changes all at the same time. Be proud that you are making one change, and be confident that when you are ready to add more change to your life, those new changes will still be waiting for you!
  8. Don’t plan to make big decisions in the first 7 days. Your body is getting used to a new routine, and may be going through some withdrawal. It’s possible that you will be irrationally cranky.   Don’t add to the stress that you are putting on yourself by artificially adding to that, if you can avoid it.
  9. Set up your pantry and put away all the unnecessary stuff. I put all my baking supplies (sugars, flowers, chocolate chips, etc) away in a plastic bin and put it downstairs. Out of sight, out of mind! It’s amazing how this works – it’s not that I actually forget I have it, but it has been moved so it’s not as easily accessible. This means it’s easier to overcome the temptation to eat that snack or bake some cookies.
  10. Lean on resources that are fun, full of ideas, and easy to use! The first time I did Whole 30, I thumbed through the Well Fed cookbooks by Melissa Joulwan almost every day. I also visited the Nom Nom Paleo and The Clothes Make the Girl website regularly. Both of these had Whole 30 specific plans and tips that were really valuable.

Finally, decide you are going to have fun – yes, I know this makes 11, but this should be more of a general guiding principle of life, don’t you think? We can do pretty much anything for 30 days…make it an adventure, and you never know, you might even create a new habit!