So, I thought maybe it wasn't fair to everyone who didn't comment that I was hoarding the amazing salad recipe I gave away to commenters a few weeks ago. I found this salad at a delightful little restaurant in Palm Springs (that I can't for the life of me remember the name of) last February and have been obsessed with it ever since...I recreate it with my own little tweaks about every 6 weeks, it seems. If you like what you see, leave a comment about other recipes you'd like showcased here and I'll see what I can do!
Yam and Arugula Salad w/ Citrus Dressing
Serves 8 as a side salad, or 4 as a main course
8 c (or one pound package) of baby arugula
2 large yams, baked, peeled, and cooled
⅓ c crumbled feta cheese (organic, if possible)
½ c chopped cilantro
1 large, organic green bell pepper, diced
1 recipe citrus dressing
In extra large bowl, layer half the arugula, half the yams, half the feta, half the bell pepper, and half the dressing. Repeat. Serve cold but store any extra salad undressed.
¼ c ruby red grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
¼ c extra virgin olive oil
1 t grated ginger
½ t sea salt
½ t ground black pepper
Happy Friday! I'm so glad you stopped by. I'm continuing with Honoring the Vessel today: a series in which we get to know people who have made breakthrough in health and how they did it. If you didn't catch Part 1, you can read it here.
Meet my dear friend, Beth. She's a wife, student, auntie, and full-time administrative assistant. Beth was raised in Virginia and went to college in Tennessee. When she and her husband were married nearly four years ago, Beth had already begun her health journey. She had dealt with the common struggle of losing childhood weigh in adolescence and was feeling good! Once she married though, she gained about 45 pounds and got to a place where she was no longer feeling healthy in her body.
Beth struggled with joint pain and self-esteem issues as a result of her weight gain, but probably the biggest disappointment she faced was looking at someone in the mirror who didn't look like "her". Feeling miserable and fed up, she made attempts at weight loss, but it was difficult. It wasn't until she began connecting the dots between the nutrients she was eating, the stress levels in her life, and the lifestyle choices that didn't match up with her intentions for good health that she began to see change.
Last year, Beth became very committed to eliminating refined sugar from her diet. Getting rid of this simple ingredient that was a unique kind of poison to her body made a night-and-day difference to her joint pain and energy levels. Ignited with momentum because of this change, she began to set more advanced goals for herself and opened herself up to a modified elimination diet. Some mystery symptoms, like stomach pain and mood swings were leading to a gluten suspicion and Beth took herself off of gluten for a time. Before she knew it, she realized that she was intolerant of it! No wonder she had been feeling so miserable for so long!
It wasn't until Beth had the courage to change some of the diet habits that are harder to break that she began losing weight successfully. Once Beth was freed up from negative symptoms like joint pain, digestive issues, and fatigue that were being caused in part by sugar and gluten, she actually had energy to follow through on goals like getting more exercise and eating more vegetables.
Beth recognizes the importance of a steady health goal and is still working her way to an optimum place. She is able to do this confidently now because she has some really powerful tools under her belt! I admire Beth's faithfulness to herself and her God in this journey as she continually recognizes that she is a whole being who needs to be healthy spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. She is hard-working, kind, strong, and incredibly creative and these character qualities will continue to serve her well in her health journey.
Cheers to you, Beth! Congratulations on the breakthroughs you've already made in health and here's to continued success! Thanks for letting us be encouraged by your story.
It's simple, really. Vegetables make up basically the healthiest food group that exists. They're densest in nutrients, lowest in sugar, really high in fiber, and typically really low in calories. I'm as far from being vegan as a dog is from being a chocoholic...but the vegans are onto something! (Note: feel free to ask me why I'm not a vegan and why I'm also still friends with them.)
But eating vegetables is hard.
So here's how I do it:
-I dislike wasting groceries, so I buy lots of pretty, beautiful vegetables even when I'm not in the mood just so they're in the fridge. Shopping for veg is the best! It's almost as pretty as shopping for flowers.
-I prep snacking veggies at the beginning of the week (Ever had a cucumber stick? Way more fun than a cucumber circle.).
-I eat lots of loaded salads. Toppings are the best! (Pictured here is my Red and Green Christmas Salad)
-I incorporate veggies into one-pot wonders like soups, chilis, or whole grain veggies dishes.
-And when all else fails, I hide them in smoothies. Hello, spinach.
What's your favorite vegetable? (Maybe if we're super affirming of them, we'll actually indulge this week...) If you comment, I'll send you a fab salad recipe. For real! Try it!
Time for another recipe! One of my most helpful methods for staying on track with my lifestyle diet is to have healthy treats on hand. My family is in from out of town this week which means there are going to be so many opportunities for celebrating through food. However, for my own health, I need to get back on track after the holidays and a time of travel. Today, I'm sharing a dessert recipe that I almost always have in my freezer...Freezer Fudge, or as I call it more often, "Fudgies". So simple and delicious! When my family cuts into another pie or whips out another platter of cookies this week, I don't just have to say, "No thanks." I can run to the freezer and celebrate through food right alongside them...
Makes 12 portions-less than 100 calories in each square!
¼ c no sugar added, natural peanut butter
¼ c coconut oil
¼ c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T raw honey
1 t vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in large bowl with a whisk. Pour mixture into a flat, rectangular tupperware, secure with a lid, and lay in a flat space in the freezer. After 1 hour, take a butter knife and cut the fudge into 12 squares. Fudge will defrost quickly-in about 2 minutes when brought to room temp, so store in the freezer ‘til ready to eat. Enjoy!
Less than 10% of Americans stick to the New Year's Resolutions they set for themselves. Does this surprise you? And why is this so? My theory is that most of our resolutions are too complicated, immeasurable, and difficult. Take, for instance, the year I decided to limit myself to two warm, half-caf, low-fat beverages per day and one treat beverage per week...I found this resolution in a journal from 5 years ago and honestly can't tell you what I was thinking when I wrote that out nor if I accomplished it. Complicated!
But other than a few resolutions like that one from my past, my personality type generally thrives on creating and sticking to goals. I thought I'd share with you today what my New Year's Resolutions were last year and how I accomplished them (or, sometimes, didn't). I'm doing something similar this year, but haven't yet nailed down the details. If this post is helpful to you, let me know in the comments and I can turn in into a series, allowing you guys to follow me through my 2016 resolutions.
In 2015, I had a few things I wanted to make time for. Two of them for sure were cooking and reading as therapeutic practices. But there were so many others that I couldn't quite decide how to compile them into one resolution. So, I decided I was going to focus on one aspect of self-discipline per month as well as making a simple and intentional plan for cooking and reading each month. On the first of the month, I would chose a word and write a few sentences in my journal about how I'd like to grow in that area, as well as a few sentences on what recipe I'd like to try and what book I was currently reading through. This was such a helpful way to tackle the many goals running through my mind one-by-one!
How did it go, you may be wondering? Well, not perfectly, but rather efficiently at the same time. Some months, I wrote up my word late or didn't think of one at all (like in August). But I consistently made time for checking in at the end of each month to talk with myself about how I did or didn't grow in the particular area of self-discipline. Here's a snapshot of one of those months:
My other words last year were: health, prayer, Sabbath, beauty, Summer, budget, work, faith, gratitude, and Advent.
So with this reflection in mind, my top three guidelines are as follows...New Year's Resolutions (and all goals, for that matter) need to be:
1. My goals were simple. In addition to trying out a new recipe and spending time reading each month (things I love to do anyway, but was just trying to make a more regular part of my life), I focused on one word every month. It was not hard to remember what I was working on!
2. My goals were measurable. At the end of the month, I knew whether or not I had read the book I wanted to read (just by looking at the location of the bookmark!), tested the recipe (again, duh), and grown in the particular area of self-discipline because I was really clear about what my intentions were at the beginning of the month.
3. My goals were doable. For example, in January, when my word was "health", I didn't challenge myself to workout every single day, but rather 5 times per week. I got into this routine very quickly because having 2 days off ever week felt like a luxury!
So if you haven't nailed down a New Year's Resolution yet this year, I challenge you to do so. I understand that my method, while simple enough for someone as detail-oriented as I am to follow, may be a little complicated. Don't do it that way, then! Maybe you will choose one word for the year and set a reminder at the beginning and end of each month to check in and ask yourself how you're doing with it. Maybe you'll simply work out one goal at a time without a timeline until you feel ready to move onto the next goal. Get clear about what goals have and haven't worked for you in the past and replicate the method you employed for the successful ones. Simply having a goal you're working toward is an important aspect of holistic health, whether or not it's a specific "health" goal.
Happy New Year, friends. Today is a new chance to honor the vessel you were given...let me hear in the comments below your plans for making 2016 count. Just getting it out there, even anonymously, will help you to feel like what you intend to do is meaningful. Because it is!