Self Care Exercise

Note:  This is an exercise from the Self Care Project over at Deepening Wisdom.  We have over 120 women committed to the daily exercises of the New Year Self Care Challenge.  You can join anytime!

Today’s exercise is a contribution from nutritional counselor and healer, Sharon Rosen.

Eat.

Now you get to love your body by eating — yay! But it’s not about gorging or indulging or “treating” yourself. It is about feasting in a very specific way on one individual piece of food, so you can enter into a true relationship with it on every level.tangerines

How often do you fully experience every nuance of what you are eating as you are eating it?

Your task:   While you can bring mindful awareness to any meal, for this exercise you’re going to do it with a single piece of fruit.

  • First, take the fruit you have chosen and hold it in your hand. Feel the weight of it, the texture of the skin, the shape of its contours.
  • Then look at this piece of fruit; really see the gradations of color and size, examining the stem end that was once connected to a tree.
  • Next bring it to your nose and inhale its fragrance.
  • Is it a fruit you can simply bite into or does it need to be peeled? When you take that first bite, bring all of your awareness to the activity and stop at one.
  • Feel the texture of what has just come into your mouth — let the juiciness and flavor play on your tongue and palate. Chew slowly and thoroughly, until the texture becomes something different. Wait until you have gotten all you can from that one bite before swallowing and moving on to the next.
  • Take each bite as if it is the first…breathe and enjoy engaging fully with this ripe, delicious, life-giving piece of fruit. Experience it as it goes from your mouth down your esophagus and into your stomach. Envision it sending vitality and nourishment to all of your cells. Enjoy every delicious nuance!

Step it up:  If you already do this exercise every day, call me!  If you really enjoy it try it again.  Bring mindful awareness to other meals throughout the day.

What was this like for you?  Which fruit did you smell/taste/experience?  What did you notice?

xo

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Hearty Soup

INGREDIENTS:  1 onion, 1 leek, 2 tbs. olive oil, 1 lb. organic chicken (optional), 2 tbs sofrito, 1 medium turnip, 4 medium carrots, 1/2 celery root, 2-3 cloves garlic, 1-2 cups pearled barley, 1 head escarole, 12+ cups of water or stock

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  • On high heat, saute diced onions and leeks in heavy stock pot with olive oil.
  • Add chicken and sofrito (you can substitute with adobo or granulated garlic for flavor).
  • Reduce heat and cook until browned (10 minutes).  Stir the ingredients occasionally.
  • Add chopped turnips and carrots.  Keep stirring so ingredients don’t stick.
  • Add 8 cups of water.
  • Add slices of celery root, two whole cloves of garlic and 4 more cups of water.
  • On high heat, bring soup to a boil.
  • Add pearled barley. (If you want a really thick soup use 2 cups barley).
  • Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30-40 minutes.
  • Check soup and that barley is fully cooked. Add up to two more cups of water, if needed.
  • Add 1 tsp sea salt or adobo (not both– most adobo blends have a high salt content)
  • Add chopped escarole and turn off heat. Greens will wilt in the hot soup– no need to overcook.

Enjoy!

xo Eloiza

Easy Recipe for Greens!

I made greens with leeks because that’s what I had in the fridge and ended up loving how it came out.  I tested it out on a couple of friends a couple of weeks later and got the seal of approval.

What you need:

2 bunches of greens (collards, kale, mustard greens)

1 leek

salt

1/4 c. olive oil

1/8 c. balsamic vinegar

Chop the leek and saute in bottom of large pan on medium-high heat.

leeks and olive oilChop greens v e r y thinly, using a large sharp knife.

Add chopped greens to leeks.

** The trick is to keep turning greens over so that they get cooked but are not just simmering in the pan. Your goal is to coat the greens in the oil/leek mixture and cook greens just long enough until tender but NOT so long they lose their precious color and nutrients…

You’re done.  Enjoy!

Fall Harvest Roast

Every time I share this meal I get rave reviews.  I first learned this wholesome recipe from my friends’ mom, Madeline, who had us over her apartment in Brooklyn.  It was so yummy and sounded so easy I had to try it– now it is a family favorite!

Ingredients:

3-4 lb chicken

2-3 medium sized potatoes

1 medium turnip or rutabaga

2-3 large carrots

1 small acorn squash

1-2  medium yams

1 medium onion

2 tsps adobo seasoning (or salt, pepper and garlic powder, paprika)

olive oil

2 cups water

The last time I made this I simply added what I had leftover from our last CSA delivery.  This included a purple potatoes, a rutabaga and 2-3 smallish kohlrabi.  This recipe is really foolproof.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Chop all the veggies in to bite-sized pieces (except for the acorn squash which can be quartered).

Place about half of the chopped veggies in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Sprinkle with 1 tsp of adobo.

roaster uncookedRinse the bird and then sprinkle with seasonings. Place the chicken in the center of the pan.

Add the rest of the veggies to the pan.  Place the squash in the corners of the pan.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Add 1-2 cups of water to the bottom of the pan.

Cover with foil and place into the oven. Cook for 1 hour.  Remove the foil and roast until chicken browns.

All you need is a side of a green vegetable and you have an entire meal!

roasted chicken

Green Party a Success!

This is a follow up to 5 Ways to Transform Your House Party into a Green Party

To put it short, the party was a blast!

One friend had this to say after reading the original post:

I felt all warm inside reading this.  I just had the chance to AFTER attending this party and can only say that what this woman is talking about it the real.

The party was fantastic.  We were there for 5 HOURS!  Me and my husband -oh yea- and the kids, haha, had a blast.  The food was amazing.  There was a little dance party with dress-up dresses and an audience, there was lot of great conversation and connecting with adults and kiddies. And I am pretty sure Elo had a small amount [of garbage] to throw away.

A party to remember forever and ever,  Amen!

Photo Credit: All photos shot by Rebecca Willett.

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This is what I wrote to our guests afterwards:

Dear loves,

We want to thank you for making [our daughter’s] day so special.  This was her first “real” birthday party and your kindness and generosity made it memorable for our entire family.

We are grateful, first, for you just being there with your smiles and hugs.  The adults were so helpful in keeping the children occupied (and safe). And it warmed my heart to see so many of you engaged in (what looked like) deep conversation! The children got along so nicely and it looked like they had a blast!

We are also grateful for the food you brought to share:  fruit, desserts, birthday cake, bread, salads…  And, although we didn’t expect any gifts, she received some really thoughtful ones: cute clothes, two great books, a pair of sneakers, a pair of earrings, some puppets, a toy.

Last but not least, the party would not have been the same without the princess dress up clothes– they were a hit!

So thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing with us.  It was beautiful to celebrate with you, our loved ones.

Much love,

E

5 Ways to Transform Your House Party into a Green Party

Birthday Girl
Birthday Girl

It was my daughter’s 3rd birthday last week and we are planning a Green Birthday Party this weekend.

Five Ways to Make Your Party Green(er):

1.  Make PEOPLE the Center of the Celebration. This is the number one rule for good reason.  Bringing this goal into your awareness should make the gathering more enjoyable all the way around.  Plus, it lets you off the hook when you feel the pressure to plan an elaborate theme or go all out for your guests.  It seems like common sense but, for example, we’ve all been to kid’s parties when the adults don’t get to enjoy or interact.  When the guests sit around watching the birthday kid open gift after gift.  Or when the hosts are so frazzled about the theme or activities that you wonder, I thought parties were supposed to be fun!

Although the guest of honor is my three year old, I am considering the adults’ experience as well.  We have a train set, puzzles and other games that the kids can play with and I’m keeping in mind the parents’ enjoyment too!

2.  Consider a Gift-Less Party or Shower. Welcome gently used hand-me-down games, books or clothing.  It’s amazing what great stuff you can find and it is cost-effective too.  Some guests  are really uncomfortable with the idea of attending a party and coming empty handed.  I usually suggest that they bring a dish to share or something my child really needs like a pair of sturdy shoes for school.  For a baby shower you could suggest starting  a fund to help the mom hire a birth or postpartum doula. Or maybe pay towards a housecleaning service for the first months after the baby arrives.

My parents have offered to buy my daughter what she needs for nursery school.  My sister is agreeing to bring a  dish.  My friend is planning to bring some fun fairy dress up clothes for the kids to play with.

3.  Make your party memorable by having yummy homemade food and even better music! These Malcolm in Party Bagtwo party ingredients will take you a loooong way.  If cooking all that food seems daunting then, by all means, make it a potluck!  And when I say potluck I mean just have guests bring a favorite dish without worrying too much about who is bringing what- you’d be surprised how well it turns out!  Having homemade food is healthier and requires less wasteful packaging than buying processed store-bought foods and sweets (think about all those candy wrappers and plastic containers).

I am planning on providing homemade rice and beans, hummus, guacamole, fruit salad and brownies.  Guests can bring a side dish or juice.  My mom is baking the birthday cake!

4.  Use real dishes, silverware and cloth napkins OR buy biodegradable plates, cups and cutlery. Nowadays it is pretty easy to find paper plates and napkins made of 100% post-consumer products.  There are compostable plates and cutlery made out of renewable sources including corn, sugar and bamboo.  Click here for an online search for Biodegradable Disposable Plates.

I plan to have the adults eat from the “real” plates and have the kids eat from the recyclable and biodegradable paper products I buy.  I don’t plan to buy juice boxes either. I’ll offer the kids small cups of juice diluted with water and pray that we don’t have too many spills!

5.  Rethink or nix the party favors all together! Guests rarely truly appreciate these tokens of appreciation and most folks certainly do not expect anything when they go to a party (except maybe to be fed and have some fun).  A memento can be nice- consider printing a card on recycled paper or a gift like a small bottle of an essential oil or lavender sachet…

I know that those plastic little toys my kids get at parties are lost or broken before we even make it home from a kid’s party.  And it is such a relief to me not to have to worry about buying one-more-thing.

** To make your gathering even more significant and  memorable consider consciously created rituals or a ceremony to mark the milestone you are celebrating.  Bringing your attention back to why you’re celebrating in the first place adds meaning and beauty to the festivities.  I am still high from a attending a Mother Blessing this past weekend– look for a new post on ritual design coming soon!

Beans, Beans, Beans YUM!

pinto beans

Protein, Fiber, Antioxidants, Vitamins, Minerals– What more can you ask for?

Here is a step-by-step recipe that is as easy as pie (but much better for you!)

  • 2 cups dried pinto beans (chick peas and black beans work with this recipe too)
  • 2+ quarts  water
  • 1 small onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons sofrito (or add extra onion, garlic and fresh cilantro)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste- to thicken (diced tomato will work too!)
  • salt to taste

1.  Soak 2 cups of dried beans in water overnight (or at least 4 hours)

beans in water to soak

2. Drain beans and add to heavy pot (changing water is supposed to reduce gas)

drain beans

3.  Add about 2 quarts of water to soaked beans and bring to a boil

beans in pot4.  Boil beans until soft (about 1 hour)

boiling pintos5.  Meanwhile, chop onion and crush garlic.

garlic and salt in pilon

6.  Saute with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

saute garlic and onion7.  Once beans are softened, reduce heat.  Add sauteed onion & garlic and tomato paste.

onion and tomoto added to beans8.  Last but not least, add the sofrito and salt to taste.

adding sofritoAccompany with brown rice or quinoa, add to a quesadilla, serve with chips… Whatever you choose, this is a quick, easy and tasty recipe.

My favorite meal:

favorite meal
Collard greens, brown rice and pinto beans

Bacalaitos

No, I had no business making these on a hot July day.  For some reason I was craving them…  Nothing compares to bacalaitos (cod fish fritters) deep fried and eaten seaside in Puerto Rico.  Alas, I had to give those up when I gave up pork (they are fried in lard, yes, lard).

Unfortunately, the other thing is that I don’t think I’ll be in PR anytime soon.  I remember when I was there with my husband several years ago we searched far and wide (as far and wide as you can go on an island 110 miles long) for bacalaitos fried in oil.  I asked a woman at one of those seaside kiosks and she scoffed at me saying (in Spanish, of course), “Oil? Oil is too greasy!”  Oil, greasier than lard.   Imagine that!

The other thing about my Puerto Rican brethren (besides the annoying use of lard in everything) is the use of Sazon Goya.  When I was younger I was taught this was an essential item in our cuisine.  That is, until I found out that it is basically MSG and food coloring.  Trust me, you can make it just as good (or better) using plain ol’ garlic, onion and salt.  With some adobo and sofrito (made with organic and/or fresh ingredients) you can’t go wrong.  This recipe is really easy and you can adjust it to your liking.

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Puerto Rican adobo seasoning
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups water*
  • 1 teaspoon (or more)  sofrito
  • 1/2 cup (or more) of soaked, shredded and deboned Bacalao (salted Cod Fish)
  • sea salt ( to taste)
  • oil for frying

Soak the salted cod overnight (or at least 5 hours).  Change the water at least twice.  Boil for 10 minutes and drain.  Shred into smaller pieces and remove bones.  Set aside.

Mix the dry ingredients.  Add water and mix well.  Next, add sofrito and fish then stir.  (Check the batter to see if it needs salt and add to your liking).

(Some people refrigerate the batter for an hour before hand. I didn’t and it was fine, just thought I’d share…)

Heat canola oil on high and then reduce the heat to medium once the oil is ready.  (Test the oil by dropping some batter into it to see if it bubbles.)  Spoon the batter into the hot oil and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Turn the fritter over once bubbles start to form on the top (again, like pancakes).  For the best consistency and flavor, let them brown just a bit.

Drain on paper towels and serve hot!  Enjoy!

* Use only 1 cup of water if you want the fritters to be thicker. Some people like using less water and less fish-  reminding me of Jamaican cod fritters.  The way my family makes them is with more water and more fish- like lumpy pancake batter.  I encourage you to experiment with it!

Mangu Recipe

This is a traditional dish from the Dominican Republic.  I first tried it during college while visiting my dear friend Mirta’s Dominican family.  It is often served with fried eggs, salami and/or fried cheese.  This vegan option is delicious and really easy.

You’ll need:platanos, red onion, evoo

  • 4-6 green plantains (not ripe)
  • a little more than 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar
  • water for boiling  (2 cups reserved from cooked plantains)

Non-vegan options: Use butter instead of olive oil.  Or add 1/2 cup grated cheese (Gouda or Sharp Cheddar)

Start with 4-6 plantains (depending on how many you are serving- 1 platano per person is my guess)

Cut and peel the plantains.  Chop ends, make a slice lengthwise, use thumb to separate thick skin from fruit.

Cut plantains into chunks, place in large pot, cover with water and bring to boil.  Once water starts to boil, plantains should be done within 10 minutes.  (You’ll know when they change a deeper yellow color and you can easily insert a fork into a piece.)

raw platanos
before
after

While you are waiting for plantains to boil.  Slice one red onion.  Saute in skillet in 1/4 cup olive oil.  Once onions start to become translucent add vinegar, stir, let simmer for a couple more minutes and remove from heat.

cutting red onion

Once plantains are done. Remove cooked plantains from water (save 2 cups of the water to add while mashing).

mashing platanos

Mash cooked plantains.  Gradually add  water, 1/3 cup olive oil and salt.  Continue mashing and mixing until smooth (some lumps are okay- the plantains will stiffen as they cool).  Top with  sauteed onions and serve immediately.

Mangu with onions

Note:  So, since I was reminiscing about when I first had mangu at Don~a Fabia’s house I HAD to make queso frito to go with it. Oh yes I did make fried cheese… and it wasn’t organic… and it wasn’t vegan… and it was delicious.  Will I be making it again any time soon? No.  But in case you want to try it here is the link:  queso frito

Vegan Rice Crispy Treats

Much thanks to Elise for sharing this great recipe!  I modified it just a little and encourage you to experiment too…

What you’ll need:

  • 6 oz package of organic puffed rice cereal (no sugar added, just rice)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice syrup
  • 3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 3/4 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup  raisins
  • 1 cup  grain sweetened dark chocolate chips

Heat the butter, oil and syrup over high heat until liquefied.  Stir until well blended.

In large mixing bowl, add alternate amounts of puffed rice and syrup and stir well.  Once the rice and syrup are well blended,  stir in raisins.  Next add the chocolate chips (if still hot, the chips will melt- if you don’t want that wait to cool before adding).

Press the mixture in a large casserole dish and let cool.  If you’re in a hurry, place pan in freezer for  30 minutes.  Cut into small squares using large knife or pizza cutter.   Let us know what you plan to add to your treats!

Vegan Caramel Popcorn

I like plain popcorn with salt and a  little butter but my husband (and his big ol’ sweet tooth) bugged me about making  caramel corn.   The recipes I found involved mixing lots of butter with lots of sugar- yummy and disgusting at the same time.  Anyway, I don’t claim this is a low-calorie or low-fat version-  this just might not spike your blood sugar as fast.

Pop about 8 cups of organic popcorn kernels– about 1/2 cup dry. (It is difficult to measure popped corn so I just go with the 1/2 c. un-popped as my guide.)

Coat bottom of 3-4 quart pot with thin layer of canola oil (about 2 tablespoons) and set burner to high heat.

Put 3-4 kernels in pan.  Once those kernels pop the oil is ready.

Add the kernels to the pot and cover.  Shake or wiggle the pot over the burner while popcorn pops (about 3-4 minutes).

Once popping begins to slow, remove pot from heat.  Set popcorn aside.

In a saucepan mix:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup (or 1/4 c. rice syrup + 1/4 c. agave nectar or  honey)
  • 1/4 cup almond butter (peanut butter would work too)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat ingredients until liquefied (about 5 minutes).

Stir until well blended.

Slowly pour mixture over popcorn while mixing.  Let cool.   Enjoy!

** The caramel corn will keep longer if you toast it in oven for 5- 10 minutes.  Transfer the popcorn mixture to a glass baking pan andbake in the oven at 350 degrees.  Be careful not to scorch it– check every 3 minutes or so until slightly browned and crunchy

Moussaka

I had this dish at my Egyptian friend, Hala’s house one evening.  She shared her recipe and I experimentemoussaka ingredientsd with it.  This is my version of the Middle Eastern version…

This versatile stew is great warm or cold and can be served with crusty bread, pitas, rice or pasta.

  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4-5 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 carrots
  • 4-6 oz mushrooms (baby bella)
  • 2 zucchini (or yellow squash)
  • 1 1/2 c diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 2-3 tablespoons tomato pastecooking moussaka
  • 3 tablespoons sofrito
  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup water or veggie stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 tsp oregano

Cut all vegetables into bite-sized chunks (I cut as I go along).*

Heat olive oil in medium-sized pot (medium-high heat).

Add chopped onion and crushed garlic and cook until onions translucent.

Add eggplant and balsamic vinegar.   Then add 1/4 cup water or veggie stock so it doesn’t stick or dry out 1/4 c.

Add diced tomatoes, sofrito & spices.

Add  carrots and peppers plus 1/2 c of water (or stock) .

Add tablespoon of tomato paste to help thicken and mix well.

Turn down heat and let simmer.

Add chopped zucchini, mushrooms  & remaining liquid and stir.

Continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to blend together.

Enjoy!

*The vegetables that need the least amount of cooking time get added last.

Creamy Coconut Kale with Noodles

kale with coconut milk, garlic and gingerThis is another creation using sofrito.  I enjoyed the kale with coconut recipe and  noticed my kids liked it too.  I wanted to incorporate the kale into a meal that everyone in my family would enjoy (I added the shrimp  for my spouse- if you’re vegan then nix that part!).  This meal is tasty both warm and cold.  The coconut milk makes it creamy and decadent without any dairy.

This is what you’ll need:

2 bunches lacinato kale

6- 8 cloves crushed garlic

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger root

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cups light coconut milk ( 15 oz can of organic & unsweetened)

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 limes

16 oz package rice noodles (or less)

2-3 tablespoons sofrito

1 lb uncooked, peeled jumbo shrimp (optional)

pinch of cayenne

Step 1

In a large pot, put water to boil.  Add teaspoon of oil, if desired.  Put frozen shrimp to defrost in colander in sink.

Step 2

Using a large, sharp knife cut kale crosswise v-e-r-y thinly.   On medium heat, saute garlic in 1/8 cup olive oil.  Add fresh ginger and stir. After 4-5 minutes (being careful that garlic doesn’t burn) add rinsed, chopped kale.  Stir to coat kale with the garlic oil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add 1 cup coconut milk.  Cook for 5-10 minutes until greens are soft.  Last, add salt and juice of 1/2 lime.  Set aside.

Step 3

Add pasta to boiling water and cook for 7-10 minutes or until done.  Do not overcook.  Remove noodles from heat, drain and rinse.  Put back in large pot.  Add sofrito and  remaining coconut milk  and mix well.

Step 4

In large decorative bowl, combine noodles and kale and mix well.  (You may want to cut noodles into smaller pieces for young children.)  Set aside.

Step 5 (optional)

Rinse  and drain shrimp,  making sure they’re defrosted fully.  In a large  skillet, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Cook 3- 4 cloves of crushed garlic 1 or 2 minutes or until softened, not browned.   Add shrimp, salt and cayenne. Cook until shrimp are pink and firm.  Do not overcook. Turn off heat and add juice of 1/2 lime.

Garnish with slices of lime and enjoy.

Creamy Coconut Kale with Noodles

Recipes Using Sofrito

Here are links to the variety of recipes on this blog that use sofrito.  These can be made without this convenient mixture of cilantro, peppers, garlic and onion- using sofrito just make the recipes easier and more delicious.  I recommend you make a batch and reserve in separate containers- you can keep one in the back of your fridge for when you need and the others in the freezer.  The more recipes you discover and invent that use sofrito the more often you’ll need to make it!

Enjoy! And please share YOUR recipes…

Creamy Coconut Kale with Noodles

Hearty Soup

Bacalaitos (Cod Fish Fritters)

Black Bean Recipe

Vegan Feast

Pinto Beans

Thai Cole Slaw

Garbanzos and Brown Rice

Thai Gumbo

Homemade Guacamole

Middle Eastern Moussaka (eggplant based “cooked salad”)

Vegan Feast

I love it when I get the urge to try something new in the kitchen (especially when it works).  I started to get bored with rice and beans e-v-e-r-y week and did NOT want to resort to ordering out- too costly and unhealthy.  This is a new favorite meal for my family.  Enjoy! Please share your cooking creations too!

Garbanzo Stew

3 cups cooked garbanzo (or 2 cans)

1 chopped onion

3-4 cloves crushed garlic

3-4 medium diced potatoes

4-5 diced carrots

1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes (or 1 can)

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger root

3 tablespoons sofrito (or add 1/2 bunch chopped cilantro)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup of water or veggie stock

1 teaspoon sea salt

Sautee the onion in olive oil in a large pot.  Add crushed garlic and stir, being careful not to scorch it.  Once onions start to become translucent, add the chopped potatoes and carrots and stir.  Add tomatoes, sofrito and ginger and stir.  Let the mixture simmer on high heat for 5-7 minutes (adding a little water if it starts to stick).  Next, add the beans, stock and salt.  Reduce heat to low and let cook for 15-20 more minutes (stirring occasionally).

Serve with Curry Quinoa (as an alternative to couscous or brown rice).

Bring two cups of quinoa, four cups of water (or stock) and 1/2 teaspoon of curry spice to a boil.

Reduce heat and cover.  Let cook for 15 minutes, fluff and serve.

Kale with Coconut Milk

2 bunches lacinato kale

3-4 cloves crushed garlic

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup light coconut milk (organic & unsweetened)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Juice from 1/2 lime

Using a large, sharp knife cut kale crosswise v-e-r-y thinly.   On medium heat, sautee garlic in olive oil.  After 4-5 minutes (being careful that garlic doesn’t burn) add rinsed, chopped kale.  Stir so the kale is coated with the garlic oil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add coconut milk.  Cook for 5-10 minutes until greens are soft.  Last, add salt and lime juice.

** Thanks to Mary M. and Bonu for the inspiration!

Fabulous Apple Cake

fairy helper
Fairy Helper

My family has been making this recipe for years and it never fails to please our guests.  We make it often around this time– apple varieties are plentiful where we live and we  love to give small loaves or muffins as gifts.

I’ve experimented with making this a no-sugar recipe (using agave nectar instead) and non-wheat (almond meal) but I’ll share the standard recipe  here.  I baked vegan muffins for a friend recently so I’m posting that option and new secret ingredient that makes the cake even more smooth and tasty.

  • 1  cup canola oil
  • 2 cups turbinado sugar
  • 1 cup of fresh or canned pumpkin (secret & optional)
  • 3 large eggsapples

vegan option:  in place of eggs 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed whisked together with 4 tablespoons water

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 to 4  apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups) (no need to peel apples and any kind will do!)
  • 1 cup chopped assorted nuts  walnuts (optional and recommended :))
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a Bundt pan with cooking spray; set aside OR Use muffin pan with cupcake liners (24 muffins
  2. Sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, and salt in large bowl and set aside
  3. In a separate bowl,  combine  oil, sugar,  eggs (or flax seed and water mixture) and pumpkin until smooth
  4. Gradually add in flour mixture.  The batter will be thick and gooey.
  5. Add apples and  nuts and mix to combine.  Add vanilla.
  6. Pour batter into pan, and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 75 to 90 minutes (less for muffins).

6 Simple Ways to Save Money (and be Green too)

Some of the items on this list you’ll remember from 10 Easy Ways to be a GREEN(er) Mom.  These are tried and true ways to save your family money.  And, not surprisingly, many of these choices are healthier and better for the environment too.

  1. Make Your Own Household Cleansers (or buy Eco-friendly ones)– It is amazing what you can do with castile soap, vinegar, baking soda, essential oils and water. Some of my favorite green items include Oxo-Brite (bleach alternative), Tea Tree Oil Castile Soap (tea tree oil is an antiseptic, anti-fungal and antibacterial) and  Lemon Essential Oil (also an antiseptic and smells great too).
  2. Buy Bulk– Buying bulk items such as beans, rice, oats, nuts and raisins will save you money.  This also reduces wastethe larger quantity you buy the less packaging required.You can store bulk items in glass containers in your cupboard.
  3. Join or Create Your Own Co-op– Join together with friends or community members to buy bulk items together or trading babysitting duty.  Instead of spending cash at a restaurant, exchange meals with friends or host regular potlucks.  You’ll eat healthier and better for less than half the price of a meal at a restaurant.
  4. Start a Buying Club—  This suggestion actually combines the previous three.  Join with community members and friends to buy bulk,  get green household items and purchase gifts  at wholesale prices.  Click here for more detailed info.
  5. Buy Second-Hand— It is amazing the great deals you can find on Craigslist or Ebay.  A couch, a new luxury car seat, a toy carpenter set, a double stroller, a reliable used car– these are just some of the items my family has purchased through Craigslist and Ebay.  The best part (besides saving money) is that you also reduce waste by reusing perfectly good items that might otherwise end up in a dump.
  6. Get Rid of Your Cable Bill— Okay, so this might be a hard one– especially if you like to watch Pay-Per-View sporting events.  However, with the advent of TV networks making episodes of many popular shows available just hours after they’ve aired, it is much easier to do without cable.  Plus, it is much less expensive to rent movies and TV series through Netflix.  (I’m catching up on season one of Dexter on Instant Movie Viewer  as we speak.)  Is getting rid of cable green?  I’m not so sure, but I like that I can save the $100 per month that I would have spent on cable to treat myself to a green gift like fair trade chocolate or an organic cotton scarf.

Moist Pumpkin Loaf

This is a great tasting pumpkin bread you can make with fresh or canned pumpkin.  I modified the original recipe to make it sugar free and it is really good!  Making small loaves are great to give as gifts for the holidays.  Enjoy!

pumpkin loaf
pumpkin loaf

2 cups cooked pumpkin (butternut squash is great too) OR 1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil (I suggest canola or coconut oil)

2 cups brown rice syrup

1/2 cup agave nectar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tsp sea salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmegpumpkin

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground or fresh ginger

 

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease four small loaf pans (about 6 x 3 “)

In a large bowl, mix (using an electric mixer works best) pumpkin, eggs, oil and syrups until well blended.  In a seperate bowl mix together flour, soda, sea salt and spices. Sttir the dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture until blended.  Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 45 minutes.  Loaves are done when a fork inserted in center comes out clean.

Note:  Make muffins with leftover mixture.  Or I used the batter to make yummy pancakes too.

Thai Gumbo

Thai Gumbo
Thai Gumbo

Thai Gumbo

This is another easy recipe using sofrito.  If you don’t have sofrito on hand add cilantro, extra onion and garlic to the recipe.  This dish is great over rice or rice noodles.

Thai Gumbo Ingredients

veggies
veggies

  • 1 medium onion
  • 4-5 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb of white fish (sole, orange roughy, flounder, tilapia)
  • 2 lbs of shrimp, calamari, scallops (any combination of the three will do)
  • 1 can of light coconut milk
  • 3-4  heaping tablespoons sofrito
  • 4 cups mixed vegetables
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Grated rind of one lime
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (or splash of hot sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp Ground Ginger root
Fish, Scallops, Shrimp & Calamari
Fish, Scallops, Shrimp & Calamari

In large pot sautee onion and garlic in olive oil.

Add white fish and sofrito .  Let simmer and break apart.  Next, add other seafood.

Let simmer for an additional 7-8 min until cooked through (fish opaque, shrimp pink)

Add 1/2 can coconut milk.

Add mixed vegetables (bok choy, green beans, mushrooms, carrots, corn)
[I cheated with some frozen veggies. If you use fresh you might need to cook a little longer– carrots generally need more time and bok choy and mushrooms less…]

Add rest of coconut milk, lime juice, rind and spices.

sofrito, limes, coconut milk, rice noodles
sofrito, limes, coconut milk, rice noodles

Let simmer several more minutes on low heat just so gumbo absorbs all the flavors of the sofrito, coconut milk & lime.

Serve over cooked rice or Thai style rice noodles.

Arroz Con Dulce

I have fond memories of my Titi Elba’s Puerto Rican style rice pudding.  It is traditionally made with coconut milk, spices and loads of sugar.  This version is sugar free and it is yuuuummmmy, I promise you.  (It also happens to be vegan and gluten free.)

It is very easy to make and tastes great cold.

Ingredients for Arroz con Dulce (aka Arroz con Coco)

rice, agave nectar, coconut milk, cinammon, ginger root
rice, agave nectar, coconut milk, cinnamon, ginger root
  • 2 cups uncooked white rice (I like Jasmin or Basmati)
  • 2 15 oz cans light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of almond milk or other non-dairy beverage
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp ground cloves (my Titi used to use whole)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger root (or fresh would work too)
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup (or less) rice syrup or agave nectar

Soak rice in water for at least 2 hours.

In a medium sized caldero (cast iron or other pot for cooking rice), bring milk and spices to a boil.

Drain rice and add to milk.  Stir and bring mixture to a boil again.

Reduce heat to low and let cook for 12-15 minutes (uncovered).

Add agave nectar and raisins and stir.  Continue to cook for an additional 12-15 minutes.

Transfer rice to a glass pan and let cool completely.

Cut into squares and serve!  (This is great refigerated too…)

arroz con coco
arroz con coco

Thai Inspired Cole Slaw

This is a great tasting and easy slaw recipe.   You can likely find most of these ingredients at your local farmer’s market or CSA.  Cabbage, cilantro, peppers, carrots, radishes and scallions are all in season this summer!

ingredients for Thai slaw
Ingredients for Thai Slaw
  • 1 half cabbage, shredded
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 3-4 medium radishes, sliced thinly
  • 3-4 medium carrots, shredded
  • scallions
  • 1/2 papaya or 1 large mango
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of prepared sofrito (or add chopped cilantro, 2-3 cloves of garlic and chopped onion)
  • 1 tsp ginger root (ground or fresh)
  • juice of 2-3  limes
  • salt, to taste

Shred the cabbage and carrots.

Slice the peppers, scallions, radishes and fruit into bite-sized pieces.

In a small bowl mix olive oil, lime juice, sofrito, and salt to make dressing.

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl.

Enjoy!

Cole Slaw with Papaya
Cole Slaw with Papaya

10 Easy Ways to Be a GREEN(er) MOM

Healthy Baby Drinking Fresh Carrot Juice
Healthy Baby Drinking Fresh Carrot Juice

There are many surprisingly easy ways to take good care of your family and be eco-friendly.  It is admittedly difficult to be perfect– even the most conscious individuals make certain guilty concessions to make life a little easier.  What makes being a “green mom” so compelling is that what is good for Mother Earth is usually also really good for the proper growth and development of our lil’ ones…

If this list seems overwhelming, challenge yourself to make one change at a time.  Ain’t nothing to it, but to do it!

  1. Welcome Hand-Me-Downsit is amazing what great stuff you can find and it is cost-effective too.  If you don’t have access to friends’ hand-me-downs try a consignment shop– they very often carry brand names.
  2. No More Juice Boxestry a thermos or sippy cup…this also allows you to dilute the juice.  Your kids consume less sugar and you don’t dispose of hundreds of nearly impossible to biodegrade paper/wax/aluminum containers.
  3. Make Your Own Baby Foodhere’s the secret:  feed your baby what you eat.  First, this forces you to be mindful of your diet.  Second, you don’t dispose of so many glass containers.  Keep a small food processor, food mill or just a plain ol’ blender handy to make it easy.
  4. Throw “Gift-less” Baby Showers and Birthday Partieswith all the great hand-me-downs you are
    Make Celebrating the Focus of the Party-- NOT the Gifts
    Make Celebrating the Focus of the Party-- NOT the Gifts

    getting, who needs all that “stuff” anyway. Some ideas are to ask guests to bring a home-made dish, contribute money so  mom-to-be can hire a doula, or give a second-hand book or toy your child would really appreciate.  Make people (and food) the focus of the party, not things. Read more.

  5. Rethink Conventional DiapersDisposable diapers take an estimated 500 years to decompose and they contribute to 70% more waste than cloth diapers.  Now, now I know for a lot of us cloth diapers are out of the question… The second best choice are gDiapers, and the next best choice are 7th Generation Diapers.   (Elemental chlorine-free diapers are better for baby and better for the environment than your average disposable diaper. Totally chlorine-free means dioxin-free (dioxin= carcinogenic byproduct))
  6. Reduce  Consumption of Meat— “At about 5 percent of the world’s population, we ‘process’ (that is, grow and kill) nearly 10 billion animals a year, more than 15 percent of the world’s total (NYT 1/08).”  Challenge yourself to eat meat only every other day or once a week.  Substitute other proteins in your diet like beans, nuts and eggs…When you DO choose to eat meat buy local, free-range and organic livestock.  You can find local, sustainable and organic foods here:  www.sustainabletable.org
  7. Make Your Own Household Cleansers (or buy Eco-friendly ones)it is amazing what you can do with castile soap, vinegar, baking soda, essential oils and water. Some of my favorite green items include Oxo-Brite (bleach alternative), Tea Tree Oil Castile Soap (tea tree oil is an antiseptic, antifungal and antibacterial) and  Lemon Essential Oil (also an antiseptic and smells great too).
  8. Buy Bulk this reduces wastethe larger quantity you buy the less packaging required. You can store bulk items like beans, rice, oats, nuts and raisins in glass containers in your cupboard.  This also saves you $$$.
  9. Eat Locally Grown Foods as Much as Possibleeat healthier, support local farming, help the environment. Amazingly, it is also a good way to build community–by  getting to know those who farm and produce your food or by getting to know local food co-op members in your town.
  10. Read Labels!eat less processed foods and, of course, avoid the no-no’s:   high fructose corn syrup, sugar, hydrogenated oils, and  preservatives. Also be conscious of what you and your family absorb through cosmetics.  Avoid:  parabens, Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA),  Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate, Petrolatum, to name a few… Read more.

Go for it! (You might find it is not such a difficult sacrifice- or at least one you can easily get used to…)

What tips can you share for other a Green Moms??

Need inspiration? Watch this:

Springtime Holistic Healing

Spring is here!  Change, growth and transformation is happening all around.  Aliveness.

So how about you?

Are you allowing yourself to enter into the energy and vitality of this season?

What is lying dormant that’s ready to spring forth?aiveness

What wisdom is wanting to emerge in the world?

What color are you blooming?

What shape are the petals?

How deep are the roots?

Are you twisty like a vine, reaching ever upwards?

Thorny with a tough bark with vibrant petals?

**********

Let me be clear, it’s not about more striving or making a better plan.

It’s not about self-improvement.

It’s about pausing, going deeper, listening to what’s being called forth.

What’s asking for attention?  What would really make you happy(er)?  What helps you feel alive?

Have no idea?  That’s good!  Even more of an indication that checking in with the wisdom of your heart, your body, your spirit, your higher self is what’s necessary.

Loosen the hard earth, water the roots,  tend to the saplings, remove the weeds, examine the richness of the soil…

It is scary stuff and  infinitely more satisfying than going forward blindly, unconsciously or asleep, I promise.

***********

Need some support transitioning into this season of growth, expansion and blossoming?

I am offering a special coaching package for the month of May.  Your first session is complimentary.  The next three sessions (one per week) you pay what you choose.  Seriously, anything between $1 and $500 a session.

Why flexible fees?  I am so passionate about this work and sharing the gifts of greater authenticity and connection.  And money should not be an obstacle to growth and healing.  I want to connect with women who are needing support in  uncovering more beauty, passion, aliveness, laughter, hope, and action in their lives…  xo

CLICK HERE to get started.

Apple Crisp

honey and maple syrup

Shh, don’t tell anyone it’s made without any sugar!  This yummy recipe is made with maple syrup and honey instead.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Start  with 7 – 10 apples (I substituted two Bosc pears for two apples).

apples and bosc pears

Chop into bite-sized pieces and layer in a 9×13 casserole dish.

chopped applesSprinkle 1/2 tsp ground ginger,  1/2 tsp cinammon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg plus 1/4 – 1/2 cup maple syrup (use at least 1/2 cup of liquid, add water if you use less maple syrup). Mix well and set aside.

coconut oil and almond butter

Melt 1/2 cup coconut oil and 1/4 cup almond butter in small saucepan.

oatmeal and flour mixture

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix 1 cup flour and 1 1/2 cups rolled oats.  Add 1/2 tsp ground ginger,  1/2 tsp cinammon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg to dry mixture.

apple crisp- uncooked

Pour melted ingredients over the dry ones and add 1 tbs vanilla and 1/2 cup honey. Mix well.

just out of oven- apple crisp

Evenly spread oatmeal mixture on top of apples.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Enjoy!

Bowl of apple crisp


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