Mindful: Eating

Above: where we start our day, every day.

The holiday season is the perfect time to assess my relationship to eating. While I try hard to feed myself and my family whole and healthy food, I rarely think very deeply about the actual process of eating while I’m doing it. It can be such a mechanical, necessary task that I forget to experience the pleasure of enjoying food beyond its functional purpose. On the flip side, I also have an insatiable sweet tooth, which often sabotages mindful eating – I can never have just one bite (and Lord help me, it’s baked goods season!).

A few things I’m focusing on to eat more mindfully this time of year:

Pause and ask. From the last bites of sandwich I finish even though I’m full, to the random bites on my toddler’s abandoned plate, I often automatically consume something just because it’s there. Then I wonder where that afternoon energy slump or blah feeling in my stomach came from. Just pausing for a moment to make a conscious choice about what I’m about to put in my mouth (i.e., Will this cold mac and cheese actually taste good or nourish me? Probably not.) is the most helpful eating habit I’ve come across (although remembering to do it is half the battle! haha).

Resist the lie of scarcity. When faced with so many comforting and nostalgic food choices of the season (PSLs! Casseroles! Pie!), I’m aware of my goofy, subconscious belief that I have to eat all of them, all at once, and all at the same time before it all disappears forever. When I stop and remember that there will always be another opportunity to eat this or that, I can decide if I actually want what’s being offered, and then enjoy a small serving or pass until next time.

Taste it. God could have easily created us to be sustained only on water and air; instead he blessed us with food that nourishes and satisfies us on so many levels. Most meals, whether from forgetfulness or necessity, I rush through each bite without taking time to experience the smells, tastes, and textures. This season I want to enjoy and be thankful for each bite.

Be with those I love. Sharing food with loved ones is a sacred practice, and I miss out on precious moments with my family when I eat hurriedly over the sink. I’m challenging myself to sit down with my boys during breakfast, and ask my husband thoughtful questions during dinner. And when we’re seated around a family table for holiday meals, I want to take a deep breath and be present with those I love.

If you have any more tips for mindful eating this season, I’d love to hear!

Fall Bucket List

In southern California, “fall” is a very loose term. A few trees turn golden in our neighborhood (including one the Mr planted in our back yard last year), and the air takes on a barely perceptible crisp feeling… and that’s enough to get me excited about enjoying the new “season.” :) To make the most of it, here are a few things we are looking forward to this fall:

Baking. I’ve never been much of a baker, but there’s something about this time of year that makes me want to put something warm and heavenly-smelling (and easy) in the oven. A couple of my favorites are Trader Joe’s beer bread and coffee cake.

Apple picking. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, and now that we have little ones who would enjoy it it’s the perfect time. Julian is famous for it’s apple picking (and apple pie!), so we’re planning a day trip soon.

Decorating. My favorite, simple go-to for fall decorating is mini white pumpkins. We don’t have a mantel or a lot of shelves in our main living space, so the round tray on the dining table is my fall decorating spot. I throw in a pumpkin candle, and I’m done!

Beach bonfires. These are fun year-round, but much more cozy when it’s actually cool out!

Visit the library. Since the boys are only 2 and 3, we have yet to experience back-to-school season. But the older they get the more they seem to enjoy reading, so I’m excited to take them and check out their first round of library books.

Cozy drinks (of course). We make most of our coffee at home, so buying coffee out is a treat for us. I’ve been dreaming of a PSL (half the flavor shots – anyone else think they’re wayyy too sweet?) and can’t wait to indulge in one (and this cocktail).

Happy Fall! How will you be enjoying the season?

Smoothie Series: Summer Peach

peach-smoothieThis simple, tasty smoothie has been a favorite as of late, since I’ve been able to take advantage of our peach tree in the back yard. You can add more protein powder or plain yogurt to add more substance if you like, but I really enjoy the sweet, slushy, summery goodness of this one on its own. Enjoy!

In a blender, combine until smooth:

1 fresh peach (or 1/2 cup frozen peaches)

1 medium ripe banana

1/2 cup orange juice

8-10 ice cubes

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Be sure to take a peek at the other two smoothies in this series! And tell summer to slow down… I’m not ready to say goodbye!

Do you have any smoothie recipes you love?

Best All Around: Coconut Oil

coconut-oilCoconut oil seems to be popping up everywhere lately (or maybe I’m just behind the curve), and I’m constantly surprised at how versatile this little jar of melt-in-your-hands magic can be. When I first bought some at Trader Joe’s, I got a secret thrill from using it in the kitchen to sauté veggies or make my favorite treat, then taking it to my bathroom shelf to slather some on my face before bed.

Here are a few recipes and finds I’m looking forward to trying:

The Savory:

Lemon Rosemary Coconut Oil Roasted Vegetables

Coconut Oil Spaghettini

Chocolate Coconut Kale Chips (Don’t these sound crazy? Would you try them?)

The Sweet:

Coconut Oil Rice Krispie Treats

Peanut Butter Cacao Fudge Bars

The Beauty:

Coconut Oil Salt Scrub

5 Beauty Uses for Coconut Oil

Are you into coconut oil? Do you use it in the kitchen, or on your body? Or both?

Image source

Smoothie Series: Berry Green

berry-green-smoothie

While this smoothie may not be as rich as this one, it packs a ton of nutritional power. No matter what else I may eat during the day, it’s good to know I’ve gotten a fair share of fruits and veggies when I make this good ol’ standby for breakfast!

Berry Green Smoothie 

In a blender, combine until smooth:

1 cup frozen mixed berries

1 ripe banana

1 handful of spinach

1 cup almond milk

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

If you have smoothie recipes you love, please share them!

(ps – in case you missed the first smoothie of this series.)

Smoothie Series: Java Chocolate Peanut Butter

java-chocolate-peanut-butter-smoothie

I love mornings. And while I don’t love pulling myself out of bed, once I’m up, I relish my daily ritual of pouring a cup of freshly ground coffee, making a piece of toast and sitting quietly on the back porch, reading and enjoying the stillness of the morning.

I love this part of my day so much that other morning rituals (like getting dressed and ready for work and making breakfast) usually take a back seat. Enter: the smoothie. It has been one of my breakfast staples for years, and since the Mr’s schedule keeps us from enjoying breakfast together during the week, I like to keep things simple and easy.

This smoothie is a decadent, protein-rich breakfast that will keep your engine running all morning long. It’s an inexact recipe for sure – remove/add any ingredients you like, and don’t worry about exact measurements – just wing it until you love it.

Java Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

In a blender, combine until smooth:

6-8 ice cubes

1 banana

1/4 cup plain greek yogurt

2 Tbs natural peanut or almond butter

1/2 cup leftover morning coffee

1/2 cup almond milk

1-2 Tbs cocoa powder

1-2 scoops vanilla protein powder

1 Tbs honey (or sweetener of choice)

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing my favorite smoothie recipes with you. I hope they make your mornings easier (and tastier)!

Do you have smoothie recipes you love? Share them with me!

Perfect Summer Meal (for the Girls)

shiitake-mushroom-and-asian-lentil-tacos

Every week, my two best friends and I enjoy a homemade dinner together. We rotate houses each time, and although we love trying new and daring recipes, there are a few staples that just keep coming back into the rotation. And we’re totally okay with that.

One of our favorites that we can’t get enough of is shiitake mushroom & lentil asian tacos from Sprouted Kitchen. It may sound out-there but trust me, you would not believe the explosion of flavors that come bursting forth from these little tacos (hellooo miso herb sauce). They will make you want to go outside and dance in a sprinkler, or something else equally summery and joyful.

Sprouted Kitchen is one of the most stunning food blogs I have ever seen (and her photos are much prettier than mine). We love adventuring into her book too. If you are looking for fresh, healthy, shockingly delicious fare, you should pay her a visit.

(ps – the little cocktail you see above is a serendipitous and inexact blend of vodka, sparkling lime mineral water, muddled strawberries and basil, simple syrup and fresh grapefruit juice).

Here’s to weekends, tasty food and summer just around the corner!

You Must Try: Turkey Meatball Sandwiches

turkey-meatballs

Since the hubby is gone yet again for another several weeks of training (sigh), I haven’t been cooking much. But I did want to share this amazing recipe (slightly adapted) that has become one of our all-time dinner favorites. You should really give it a try!

Turkey Meatball Sandwiches

1 lb ground turkey

1 egg

½ cup finely grated parmesan

1 Tbs dried oregano

1 tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

3 cups tomato sauce

Ciabatta rolls

1 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese

Fresh basil, julienned

Olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, peeled

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a simmer. Mix the turkey, egg, parmesan, oregano, salt, and red pepper in a medium bowl. Roll into medium-sized meatballs and set aside.

Place the meatballs in the water until they are just cooked through, and float to the top of the water. Remove with a strainer and reserve.

Use the saucepan to heat the tomato sauce, add the meatballs and simmer on low until they are warmed through.

turkey-meatballs

Split the ciabatta rolls, drizzle with olive oil, and toast until golden. Rub the toast with a clove of raw garlic.

Fill the rolls with the meatballs, and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and fresh basil.

turkey-meatball-sandwiches

Once the Mr gets home, we’ll be enjoying this hearty meal again for sure. I am forever grateful to Heather Christo Cooks for this weeknight staple! xo

The Best Fudge You’ll Ever Have

healthy-peanut-butter-fudge

I should start off by saying that I have an ENORMOUS sweet tooth. In fact, all of the teeth in my head might possibly be sweet. And while I enjoy most sweet things, there are a few treats out there (like this and this) that straight up turn me into a five-year old who has no concept of moderation and willingly eats it until I am sick.

I have now found another such treat.

And not only is this the best fudge I’ve ever had, but it is also the HEALTHIEST fudge I’ve ever had.

I know. Nuts, right? But it’s true! These lovely delectable bites are so silky and rich and decadent, but made with whole and clean ingredients.

Healthy Peanut Butter Fudge

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey (or natural sweetener of your choice)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor. Pour into paper-lined muffin tin cups and fill 1/2-inch full. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, or in the freezer for 10 minutes, until firm. Store in the fridge. Makes 10.

You can find the original recipe here.

Enjoy, and happy Friday! xo

Weeknights Around Here: Salmon-topped Polenta

salmon

Sometimes no matter how well-intentioned I am about planning 2 or 3 weeknight meals (and even buying all the ingredients), the unpredictability of life and the spontaneity of my husband (which is usually way more fun than my obsessive planning, trust me) can completely foil my best efforts. Often by Friday, I’m left with a fridge full of slimy herbs and questionable chicken breasts. And anyway, who wants to cook a meal on Friday night? Certainly not me.

On the nights I am actually able to pull off a nice meal, salmon-topped polenta has become a regular favorite. I usually have all the ingredients I need on hand, except for the salmon, which I can easily pick up on the way home.

Salmon

Place filets, skin side down, on a foil-lined baking pan.

Brush with olive oil, and squeeze lemon juice on top (I like to arrange thin lemon slices too).

Broil about 10 minutes, or to desired done-ness (depending on the thickness of the filets).

Parmesan Polenta (adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe)

4 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
1 cup yellow polenta, preferably stone-ground
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
¼ cup half and half
2 tablespoons (¼ stick) unsalted butter

Place the chicken stock in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and cook over medium-high heat until the stock comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and very slowly whisk in the polenta, whisking constantly to make sure there are no lumps. Switch to a wooden spoon, add the salt and pepper, and simmer, stirring almost constantly, for 10 minutes, until thick. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan thoroughly while you’re stirring. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, half and half, and butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve salmon filets on top of the polenta.

salmon-polenta

Is weeknight meal planning always on schedule in your house?

(ps – how AMAZING is this polenta party?)