Archive for September 2015

Fertility, Rites, and The Blood Moon

My friend Erin has a simple and great response when I asked her why I am so drawn both to the Catholic faith and druid/pagan folklore: “Um, because you’re Irish!”

So today is the convergence of all those things because I had my first rite of welcome at Mass and I’m performing a fertility ritual under the full blood moon tonight. If you haven’t read about the tetrad of blood moons that have occurred over the last two years…well, most likely you have. The Full Moon is absolutely linked to fertility of the earth, as I mention in my moonstruation post.

Tonight, my ritual is for all my friends who have entrusted me with their desire to become pregnant (you better hire me as your doula!) but it’s also in honor of anyone else out there who has great faith and great desire for the same thing.

Traditional items for your (outdoor) altar: white candle, rose quartz, and something that represents your desired child (a flower, doll, poem, anything!)
Then you just get as many female friends as possible to gather or send you positive energy from afar to concentrate and meditate on the fertility power of the moon goddess and wish all good things for you. This ritual is so positive and full of blessings that it will leave you feeling absolutely wonderful, regardless of how well it actually works for fertility! It is a way for us to bond, rather than compete, as women, and that is the very best part!

Autumn Favorites: More Paleo Lovers Recipes

autumn favorites paleo

We had a rainy fall weekend here in NC, which is one of my favorite types of weather! We went on two long runs with our dogs and I finally got to whip up one of my favorite fall recipes: Bison & Acorn squash Chili. My recipe was featured on Mind Body Green this year, so go on over and check it out on my favorite health blog.

We were supposed to go apple picking this weekend, but our outing and my paleo apple bread got rained out. Instead, I whipped up some Paleo Pumpkin-Banana/Peach bread with the 8 brown bananas I had frozen over the last several months. I went a little crazy with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, but this definitely tastes like fall, so I recommend to all! This is my own recipe, and if you haven’t noticed, I like to keep it simple with the measurements and ingredients. We are not all Chefs out there and I don’t think that arrowroot powder or palm and coconut sugars benefit my digestion. So if you ever have questions  about steps or ingredients because of my focus on simplicity, please comment! I will respond quickly!

Autumn favorites Paleo

Ingredients

1/2 cup Almond Flour
1/2 cup Coconut Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
Lots of pumpkin pie spice or: cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger
3 eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup organic pureed pumpkin
3-4 ripe bananas or peaches ( I made a loaf with each and left out maple syrup with peaches)
* Walnuts would be excellent in this bread! I just have an allergy 🙂

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix your first 4 ingredients in a bowl (dry ones)
  3. Mix your last 5 ingredients 9wet ones) in a separate bowl until smooth
  4. Combine all ingredients into one bowl and mix until all is incorporated evenly
  5. Pour into bread pan and bake for 35-45 minutes.
    Disclaimer: Traditionally, this should take 45, but I have a hot oven and take everything out early! Know thy Oven!! And know thyself: I like REALLY moist bread that falls apart.

Celebrate the Autumnal equinox

Cairn T at Loughcrew Neolithic Tomb complex. The door through which the rising sun shines on the equinox is partially hidden by the stone circle in the foreground. Photographed by a friend of mine.

Today is one of my favorite days of the year– the autumnal equinox. Today the length of the day and night are exactly the same, and Oktoberfest and other Harvest celebrations are underway. My soul feels deeply connected to harvest celebrations and winter preparations. Perhaps that’s why I was so drawn to the Neolithic passage tombs in Ireland when I was in graduate school. Some of you know about the Newgrange passage tomb that is aligned with the Summer and Winter solstices, but not everyone knows that this is part of a larger complex of monuments and other passage tombs that belonged to the same people–built thousands of years before the pyramids. Other megaliths and monuments at the Boyne Valley Site seem to be aligned with lunar phases, in compliment to Newgrange. A similar megalith complex exists in Loughcrew, a site I visited with my favorite professor. It is less famous, but Cairn T has an equally magnificent illumination on sunrise on the equinoxes. I love to tell people about these magical an monolithic calendars, and watch their eyes light up in wonder that people were capable of such wisdom, foresight, and incredibly sophisticated intelligence and technology so early on. Neolithic people were pretty amazing; launching themselves into a movement from hunting/gathering to sustainable agriculture and using this new intelligence and sociological development to highlight their profound relationship with the earth: the sun, first and foremost, but also the moon, and the seasons. How can we reconnect to the earth in such a profound way? What could we ever create that could inspire wonder and amazement in 5000 years? Happy Autumn My Friends!

Super Soul Sunday

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This quote from the fabulous Brené Brown spoke to me for many reasons. If you don’t know Brown’s perfect, honest wit and wisdom, then you should make The Gifts of Imperfection your next read! Obviously, I love and appreciate the midwife reference, especially since the midwife here is the representation of faith – how true! But I also truly love this sentiment, and think it reflects the rawness of Brené’s writing, and the experience I’ve had so far in this crazy life. Faith really isn’t what carries you through your turmoil, unscathed; faith is the thing (the midwife, the Doula) that holds your hand while you fight through the pain of bearing that turmoil. How lucky we are to have such companions along the way. Hope you’ve had a beautiful Sunday!

Crispy Cauliflower Pizza Crust the right way

crispy cauliflower pizza crust
This is a legit good recipe. Who wants soggy fall apart crust? I want crispy cauliflower pizza crust, don’t you?! I was a little shocked when I was perusing online for a cauliflower pizza crust recipe. So many included starches or creamy cheeses (what?!) and one I actually tried (with 3 eggs in it) tasted more like an omelet. I hope this one is fine-tuned enough that it’s just perfect! It’s hard to trust recipes on the internet these days, but I think the pictures are justification! This is also a note about staying AWAY from the gluten free crusts on the market. They may help with gluten intolerance, but they are too often packed with bad ingredients that result in higher calorie and fat content, so they are DEFINTELY not for the person looking to stay slim.

Ingredients

1/2 head of cauliflower (I rice the entire thing and freeze the other in baggies for use later)
2 tablespoons of coconut flour
1 egg
1.5 cups of Parmesan (sub with non-dairy cheese if necessary, but Parmesan has TRACE amount of lactose)
dried italian herbs
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* I don’t use salt because I usually use salty ingredients like homemade pesto, prosciutto, or anchovies. You can salt it to tastes if you like.

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Break cauliflower into florets
  3. Lightly blend until you get a “rice like” consistency- (makes about 2-3 cups)
  4. Using a cheese cloth or a dish towel, squeeze excess water from cauliflower (should get 1/4 to 1/2 cup)
  5. Transfer cauliflower to a bowl and combine remaining ingredients
  6. Heat cauliflower “dough” mixture in a double boiler until cheese is melted and it is warmed through and sticking together {it wont be as sticky as normal dough ;)}
  7. Take dough and spread VERY thin 1/4 -1/8 inch onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper
  8. Bake crust for 20-25 minutes until edges are dark brown
  9. Add your sauce and toppings and heat under a broiler for 3-5 minutes
  10. My toppings include: homemade pesto, prosciutto, more parmesan, and leftover veggies from previous dinner! if you like tomato sauce, then Trader Joe’s has some great natural options with no additives.

A Week of Whole 30 prep: salads, snacks, and meals

a Week of whole 30 prep Practice makes perfect when it comes to paleo and whole food recipes, so after almost 2 years on a Paleo-ish & Selective Carbohydrate diet (SCD), I have an easier time with the few things I do have to give up. I know it’s hard when you are doing a 30 day challenge because it almost feels as if you finally get the hang of cooking, planning, and filling yourself up after that month. Hopefully, the groove you get in after about 3 weeks is what keeps you going down this path, eating more of what we were meant to eat as a species, for your improved health and thriving! Here are some of the tricks of the trade to get you through your first full week of our 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge.

  1. Planning ahead is key. I make a Large salad on Sunday evening, and there are some fabulous options all over my blog, like this one. This week, since I try to east seasonally, I mixed up an entire head of Tuscan Kale (which is my favorite because it is so hearty and stands up to creamy dressings), a bag broccoli slaw veggies, which is essentially julienned sliced broccoli and carrots, and raw Brussels sprouts that I shredded in my food processor by pulsing for a few minutes. I pre-dress this salad with with a cup of homemade salad dressing since these are all hearty veg. Tuscan kale either needs to be “massaged” or softened in dressing before eating it raw. This salad will be my base for all lunches this week, and I’ll add variety to the meal by changing up my protein anchovies, tuna, free range chicken, etc. Before dressing and dividing it up, I took out a sheet pan’s worth to coat in olive oil and roast for our dinner tonight, alongside bison patties.
  2. Every time I make soup or chili, I make a huge pot in my slow-cooker, and store half in the freezer immediately. This week, I get to take out 2 soups and a bison chili, and each will provide us with at least one dinner. This means my only prep for dinner those nights is to a) make a few bacon wrapped dates  to go on the side of my cauliflower soup, b) chop up some cilantro and green onion for my curry soup, and throw them in a green salad to go on the side  and c) slice some avocado for my chili.
  3. During Whole 30, I always have a large head of cauliflower in my crisper, ready to be called upon for my other dinners This week, I will take a sharp knife and cut the head in half. One half will be pulsed in my food processor until it is a grainy rice, and will be pan fried in one egg then mixed with vegetables, shrimp, coconut oil, and coconut aminos for my cauliflower fried rice. The other half will have a bit more processing to go through, when I turn it into my cauliflower pizza crust recipe, coming to the blog tomorrow!

This is a really simple way to get all your lunches and dinners out of some good produce and minimal prep.  I go with smoothies or smoothie bowls packed with fibrous chia and flax to keep me full in the morning. If I do get hungry before lunch, My array of mid-morning snacks include: 1/2 cup of macadamia nuts, pistachios, 2 soft boiled eggs, extra bacon wrapped dates from dinner, almond butter on celery, 1 piece of fruit,  or a palm full of plantain chips.

Ok, get to prepping! I hope this was helpful for a week of whole 30 prep!

Super Soul Sunday

When I think about why I love Robert Frost, it’s because I love teaching his poetry. Its complexity can be a little complicated for high school students, so that’s why I love that a simpler read of Frost is also possible. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening is actually my favorite Frost poem because of the evocative imagery, but The Road Not Taken will always speak to me in an eery way. Free Will has got me all tied up in knots sometimes, thinking about all the possible outcomes and permutations of the choices I’ve made and will make. It’s no secret that we survive by telling ourselves that the story we are writing or the path we are choosing is the “right” one, and that we create justifications  for our choices along those paths. In the end, happiness and strife are found with any road, and the human struggle continues despite our wisest or poorest decisions. My wish on this Sunday is that we be content with the roads we choose and live the life born of those choices as fully as possible each minute. For me that means longer meditations, slower walks, more intentional conversations and loving, and more teaching and learning. What does it mean for you?
PS- Check out this article if you want to more about Frost’s pom

 

Weekend Motivation

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Paleo on the Go: 3 simple and filling lunch ideas for the woman on the move!

Today’s post is brought to you buy the 3 S’s of our modern lunch time: salad, sandwich or soup (or one of each). I don’t have as much time in the kitchen now that I have 3+ jobs and my sanity to keep, but these are some paleo on the go items that keep me happy and healthy!

  1. As of late, my go to lunch is a Paleo Caesar Salad with this amazing dressing from Primal Palate and anchovies on Romaine. My favorites are only 1.69 per can at Trader Joe’s and 120 calories per can with 8 g of protein! WHAT!? If you don’t have a taste for anchovies, acquire one! Seriously, if you are missing potato chips or salty fries, then this is a great way to curb that craving! prepare the dressing the night before. You can even use this recipe in a “mason jar salad” if you like. Just remember! Dressing on bottom, lettuce in between, anchovies on top!
  2. Cabbage leaves and Collard leaves are the new sandwich wraps to reach for. No more iceberg! Yesterday I had two cabbage leaves filled with Dijon, sliced turkey breast, tomato, and avocado and dipped them in homemade mayo (egg yolks +olive oil). It was decadently delicious. I use the collards more frequently with larger wraps like turkey burgers and bison burgers, It adds amazing flavor and nutrients, but those do need to be cooked (or at least blanched) There aren’t any excuses when it’s as easy as making a sandwich.
  3. It’s that time of year again when we can warm up soup for lunch and try not to drip it on our snuggly sweaters and scarves! My freezer is stocked right now with bison chili, cauliflower soup, and lemongrass pumpkin soup because I have to have back up. Here’s another quick option for you if you aren’t as over-prepared as me for a September blizzard 🙂
    Roasted Root Veg Soup
    -Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On one pan, roast: 2 sweet potatoes, 1 large yellow onion, 2 lbs of carrots (1 bag), and one head of garlic for 25 minutes. Cover vegetables with olive oil and sea salt.
    -In small batches, use a blender, immersion blender, or food processor to incorporate 4 cups of chicken broth and 3 tbsp. pure maple syrup
    -Season with herbs of your choice!

low-fat roasted winter vegetable soup recipe | writes4food.com

 

Welcome to your 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge!

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It’s our first day of our 30 Day Clean Eating challenge! And I have some special things planned for you. So many of us splurge and indulge in the summer months, so this is the perfect time to get back to wholesome, seasonal, healthy eating before the holiday trifecta–halloween, thanksgiving, christmas– oh my. The rules of the challenge are pretty simple: You will only eat ingredients themselves, you will eat nothing with a list of ingredients.

If you’re looking for more help with your overall health and weight loss, it’s still not too late to sign up for our nutrient supplement package for your best results, which includes daily meal replacement shakes (I use mine for breakfast with fruit), juice for a weekly dinner to dinner fast, essential vitamins,  a supply of daily nutrient booster, and a complete meal planner and recipe guide from Nutrition Experts, Liz and Sara Germain. In general, you may have heard that we are undernourished and overfed. This 30 day clean eating challenge addresses our need for balanced nutrition, and the supplements really help.

I’m preparing some exciting recipes for the days to come, but in the meantime, I want to give some helpful hints for getting started!

1) It doesn’t have to be hard if you prepare in advance. Seriously, I didn’t feel like cooking tonight so I wrapped turkey and homemade mayo in a cabbage leaf with avocado and tomato  slices. I hit all my food groups in less than 5 minutes!

2) Get the junk out. You are going to make this challenge so much harder on yourself if you keep junk food in your house. Seriously, get it out. It’s not benefiting anyone who lives there. They will forgive you! (Matt still loves me!)

3) You can still eat out! Sort of 🙂 I’m going to Whole Foods for dinner tomorrow, where all ingredients are listed on their salad and hot bars. They have chicken, beef and fish with no additives to add protein, and great drinks to supplement your meal, like kombucha or green tea! I haven’t gone out to eat without looking up the menu first in years. If you are planning on being out of town or meeting friends at a restaurant, then just investigate beforehand, and figure out what you can order (with minor additions/subtractions).

4) You will slip up. Forgive yourself. I am probably going to eat a gluten free pizza or something chocolate in the next 30 days. It happens. What you must do when you slip up is just file it under “whoops” and move forward, unscathed. When you feel guilty, you sabotage yourself by thinking you should starve to make up for it or give up all together. Let it go.

5) Keep it Simple Sweetheart. I used to make crazy extravagant paleo meals when I first started and then I started following some experts {@againstallgrain @paleokrate @thebeautyofrealfood @autoimmunepaleo @zenbelly}  and I noticed a common thread… No one was trying to get fancy and replicate some elaborate recipe. The point is to showcase the beauty of real food. You need one palm-sized protein, seasoned well, with 2+ vegetables and some good fat in order to absorb all those other nutrients. This 30 day program should NOT be more expensive (unless you’re only eating ramen), it should not take more time to prepare. It’s all about simpler living with Whole Foods. So have fun!

Bison Chili with Avocado

bison chili with avocado

You can read all about my passion for bison chili and reasons that it is better for you in burger or chili form than ground beef in my article on Mind Body Green.

Acorn squash isn’t quite in season yet, so I used the last of my summer squash and zucchini for this recent addition to the foods I’m freezing for my Whole 30 Challenge starting next week!

Additional ingredients? Aromatics: celery/carrots sauteed in ghee go into any chili I make, and I threw in some of the gorgeous hot and sweet peppers I got from my CSA.

Chili is all about generous seasoning, so I do healthy shakes of my garlic salt, cayenne, turmeric for health, and chili pepper. Most people like onions in their chili but they often cause bloat and are hard on digestion (FYI)

Finally, you have to mix in a large can of organic tomatoes, such as this from Trader Joe’s, 1 can of black beans, and a can of your broth of choice (beef, chicken, vegetable) I just do whatever I have on hand, which happened to be beef this time.

I like to garnish my Chili with several avocado slices and/or jalapenos! What do you guys think?

 

Super Soul Sunday- Whole 30

Who is joining me for 30 days of healthy living this fall? We start THIS Thursday, September 10th, and I am so excited for the transformations ahead! If you crave change in your life, your health, your body, your relationships, then you have to start doing things differently. Happy Super Soul Sunday- Whole 30 edition.

Super Soul Sunday- Whole 30

My 5 Favorite Healthy Pumpkin Recipes For Fall

healthy pumpkin recipesHealthy recipes are hard to come by when talking about traditional used of canned pumpkin. Canned pumpkin by nature is healthy– it is naturally sweet, fibrous, and energy-giving– and is legal on our Whole 30 challenge this month.  It is the combination of that can of pumpkin with things like evaporated milk, pastries, and sweeteners that detracts from your overall health. Check out these pumpkin recipe obsessions of mine. these are on my repertoire all fall!

5. Grain Free Pumpkin Pancakes. My age old trick is simple: Use the Against All Grain Banana Pancake Recipe, but replace the banana and chocolate chips with 1 can of pumpkin puree!! #foolproof

4. New Isagenix flavor Pumpkin Spice lean protein! Literally one of the best pumpkin spice flavors I’ve ever tasted, let alone the best protein shake I’ve ever tasted! I look SO forward to  having this every morning this fall with almond milk after a workout! Paired with a piece of fruit, it becomes the perfect 400 calories breakfast to energize your day and keep you full until lunch!

3. My Pumpkin Lemongrass Soup might be the recipe I am most proud of. It is so simple, wholesome and absolutely flavorful and delicious! Please make it this month!!

2. Massaged Tuscan Kale Salad with dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and homemade Caesar dressing. I add a can of anchovies from Trader Joe’s to this beautiful Fall Salad for my lunches every day! To massage the kale, you just want to pre-dress it with your dressing of choice and lemon juice and massage the leaves to soften them. You can also shake it up in a tupperware.

1.My Paleo Pumpkin Spice Latte is pretty famous for being delicious, healthy and low in calories. A Starbucks PSL contains some dangerously unnecessary additives and packs about 400 calories. Mine is more like 120 and contains only canned pumpkin, fall spices, maple syrup, coffee,  and light coconut milk.

Getting More Fiber on your Ancestral Diet

Chia Seeds

Chia Seeds

Dietary Fiber is incredibly important to  balanced health and macros and a healed gut. SO many popular sources of fiber are in cereals and whole grains, though, which my body seriously can’t handle. As I’m becoming more and more aware of macros, I found that I needed some more fiber in my diet, as MANY people do. you see fiber helps with all aspects of the digestive system and regularity.  Fiber helps control blood sugar levels, which is great for PCOS, diabetes, and weight management. t can also lower cholesterol and regulate bowel movements. These are the ways that I am packing more fiber into my diet without relying on “whole grains.” I’ve numbered my suggestions chronologically, with the most fiber per oz first! I hope you find this useful if you need help getting more fiber on your ancestral diet!

  1. Chia Seeds- This superfood is at it again, packing more than 5 grams per tablespoon! I incorporate chias into my diet by adding 2-3 tablespoons to my yogurt or smoothie in the morning. They also go wonderful with desserts like chocolate pudding or a fruit parfait.
  2. Flaxseed- I eat flaxseed in it’s ground or powdered form as apposed to its seed form because the fine powder makes it more versatile for use in my cooking. at 3.8 grams per tablespoon, this can be added when baking (one tablespoon dissolved in water replaces on egg), in your smoothies, or sprinkled into sauces easily.
  3. Lentils- Just discovering whether or not I can eat these, since not everything in the lentil family sits well with me, but since they pack 15 grams of fiber per cup, I’m trying them out in a new recipe coming to the blog soon!
  4. Blackbeans– Have as much fiber as lentils! (15 grams a cup). I miss nachos something fierce, so one of my favorite
  5. Avocados– yum! I sprinkle salt and cayenne on mine (sometimes with a spot of homemade mayo) at 6.7 grams of fiber for 1/2 of an avocado, we know why it’s a superfood!
  6. Barley– because I’m Irish. and it’s a grain I can eat….and I think this is so because Barley grains are like Oat grains in that they are more of a “bran.” 6 grams of fiber/ cup
  7. Oats- Hotly debated as appropriate for AIP (Autoimmune Paleo) diets, I do use oats sparingly in baking, when I need some fiber….though I can not down them on their own, personally. 4 grams of fiber a cup!