The single greatest invention on Earth may be the spiralizer. I bought one on Amazon with a bit of Christmas money and since its arrival, it has become my absolute favorite kitchen items.
I had Finn spiralize 3 Zucchinis using a 2mm blade to make very thin zoodles. A 2mm blade will create zoodles the same width as Angel Hair pasta.
We decided to Make Zucchini Zoodles with Pesto and Marinara Sauce and for the record, Finn did not eat any of this but the fact that he's touching zucchini is an amazing start. That's the magic of a spiralizer.
From start to Finish - this meal takes about 30 mins and is incredibly easy and satisfying. Not to mention you get to use the Spiralizer which makes any meal fairly awesome.
A few Suggestions:
Over the holidays I did a massive amount of baking - churning out just a tremendous amount of pastries, cookies, dutch babies (best ever), marshmallows, chocolates, chocolate marshmallows, and many, many other sweet treats. In my next life I can only hope to be reborn as a Keebler Elf as spending each and every day making cookies and treats would be the most amazing thing ever.
However, what I love to make isn't necessarily what I love to eat (thankfully).
After recovering from the carb festival that I hosted at my house for nearly a month, I have been craving smoothies and clean eating.
I kick off nearly every morning with a smoothie. Especially when my body is screaming from the rooftops that it NEEDS something clean, easily digested, and filling. If I don't eat a good breakfast, I will go bonkers around 4-5 PM and I don't always make the best choices as a result.
My strawberry smoothie with banana and cocoa nibs is my absolute favorite and is our quick go-to when pressed for time. It's creamy, filling, & decadent. Additionally, it keeps me from becoming a carb blackhole by 5 pm.
The frozen banana is the key to a creamy smoothie - it's the one ingredient I will never skip. I buy tons of bananas and will immediately peel them, break them in half and put them into freezer bags. Rarely will I just eat a banana, though I did get detained by customs in Switzerland for smuggling 8 bananas into the country. I really had no excuse - I can only assume I was very concerned by a potential banana shortage in Zurich. They were confiscated and I have to say I didn't have a great smoothie my entire time there. So ... take that for what it's worth.
Want recipes for any of the sweet treats posted above? Let me know, I will happily share them with you!
This morning I was watching the border collies Loki (L) and Chloe (R) battle it out over a stuffy that was found in the backyard after being neglected for an extended period of time.
That's Frosty's (M) gift to the universe - she'll find the one thing that I don't want in the house and will bring it in & want to share it by pressing it against my face or dropping it into my half full coffee cup.
I watched Frosty with her little tattered stuffy lumber around the living room and immediately noticed the interest it was getting from the other dogs. Neither Loki nor Chloe wanted it until Frosty had it, they both passed this stuffy over countless times, never once paying attention to it.
This is something I can relate to on so many levels. I will go about my business happily and entirely carefree, until I don't. Just absolutely content until something hits my radar that sparks the "but I want that too" area of my brain. Once it hits, it's all consuming.
I get trapped in a cycle of being incredibly thankful for what I have, where I live, where Finn goes to school, having a body that is usually strong and dependable to being incredibly concerned that I don't have enough, I need more, I deserve more, I should have gotten more, I need a bigger house, more money, Finn could be in a better school, I want to drive a better car, why am I not a Swedish Supermodel, etc ... the list goes on and on and on (and on and on).
The reality of it is, I have enough, I have more than enough. I am perfectly happy and overflowing with gratitude most days. But every so often, that "I want that" voice roots itself into my internal dialog and I start to feel that life is just so incredibly unfair.
But is it? Every single decision I have made, each and every single one, brought me to this exact moment in my life. Like a choose your own adventure book only I don't remember so many assholes in those books as there are in my life (I'm working on that too).
As part of this journey my focus needs to be about living my life without dwelling on the "If Only" moments or decisions. In fact - what if I only focused on the things I can become or what I can do from this moment forward. How much happier could I be? Spoiler Alert: It's a A LOT ... we all know it's A LOT.
That being the case, this week's exercise is going to be to train myself to find things to be thankful for at the end of each day or as those thoughts creep into my mind through out the day.
Believe when I say this isn't the best week for me to practice this exercise but that's the exact reason I need to. Maybe the end result will be more favorable by doing so.
This past weekend, I went to something called Soundbath at one of the coolest yoga & pilates studios I have been to in a very long time. Anyone in North Broomfield / Erie should really be checking out Studio Love.
I actually had no idea what I signed up for only that a friend of mine thought I should go and my only frame of reference for what we'd be doing was this photo (from their Facebook Event) which made me think "Adult Nap Time" so I obviously I signed up.
Little known fact: I'm the world reigning champion of thinking that things sound like a good idea only to talk myself out of actually doing them. But I was really committed to going to Adult Nap Time and was excited to see friends that I hadn't seen in a long while. Thanks to my friend Kristel for inviting and inspiring me.
The studio, unassuming on the outside, was cool and eclectic with a great vibe on the inside. Most notably was how being in the studio made me feel. From the moment I walked in, I felt welcome. There was such a great camaraderie with the woman who practice together. There was warmth and laughter - it was absolutely infectious.
I arrived about 20 mins before it kicked off - I was geared up, I had my favorite mat, I grabbed the same props as the person in front of me, I had a great spot in the back row next to a friend I was so happy to see and be able to share some space with! I didn't even care what we'd be doing at that point, quite honestly.
Apparently we were doing Yin Yoga (which I LOVE), there was sound healing (I didn't know what that was) and massage (what?) all combined into a 90 minute session.
I didn't even know about the massage part of this kick ass session! As I moved into butterfly pose with my head on the mat, someone behind me started massaging my shoulders. Entirely unexpected as no one was behind me when I got into butterfly.
In fact, the last time that happened, I was on the B-train and it was the drunk guy that dresses up as Elmo, the one that works Times Square in the summer. Anyone who has been to NYC knows exactly who I'm talking about - Drunk Elmo that smells like B.O and urine in his mangy costume that charges children 10 bucks for a photo(?). I actually took Finn to NYC while I was working one summer, he was 4 - as we were walking to my office through Times Square - Finn saw Drunk Elmo and I was like "oh no ... let's skip that meet & greet" ...
Finally, I have better memory now when it comes to an unexpected massage.
Anyways - apparently Yin Yoga is what I have always loved but never knew its name. It contains all the poses that I love the most! We held each pose for 5 mins or so, there was a lady walking about bing-bonging chimes, she had a little shaker, there was a gong and Tibetan bowls - it was so unbelievably cool - again, with each pose came another massage (scalp, shoulders, forehead, hips, legs, feet) ... I have never had 90 minutes go by so incredibly fast.
If you were to tell me I had to do anything for 90 minutes, I would think "90 minutes, I may die here". With each passing pose, sound, and massage combination I felt more and more relaxed and in tune with my body. I wished it could have gone on for hours. To find something that can bring peace in my mind and heart is really rather remarkable.
I have never been so incredibly thankful to be invited to something. To step outside your day to day life - to spend 90 of the most luxurious, self centering and relaxing minutes completely disconnected from everything but your body - what a gift to yourself.
Studio Love holds these events on a near-monthly basis. Please Please Please check them out. I know I will absolutely be there for the next one.
Find some time to relax and disconnect from the world around you.
Studio Love: Yin Yoga, Sound Healing and Good Massage
Drunk Elmo: No Yoga, No Sound Healing and a really unwelcome Bad-Touch Massage
There is literally nothing yummier than homemade pizza.
Finn loves to have pizza about once a week but I want to make sure it's as healthy as we can possibly make it. In an upcoming post - I'll walk through a cauliflower crust pizza but this time we made a traditional yeast dough pizza and it was amazing. It is just consistently good and requires less effort than you'd think.
This evening - we made a white pizza with Mozzarella, for Finn. For the non-Finn members of the house; I made a white pizza with caramelized onions, Mozzarella, French Goat Cheese, Pesto and pine nuts.
I brushed the uncooked dough with olive oil & sprinkled a bit of dried basil, added our toppings, then cooked them in a 450 degree oven for about 10 mins. You have to watch your pizza as the thickness of the dough will drive how long you cook them. Start checking around 8-9 minutes.
Notes: I used AP Flour for our crust and it was light / fluffy and had an amazing chewy texture.
If possible, use a stand mixer with a dough hook. I used a hand held one as I couldn't find my dough hook - still turned out perfect but typically I wouldn't use a hand mixer.
That's Frosty, a 12 week old Newfoundland / Great Pyrenees and bane to productivity mix.
I have a pretty well oiled machine of a life - I have a routine, I follow it. I get out of bed, the bed is immediately made. Laundry is done nightly. My yard is immaculate with a gorgeous rock garden that I love so very much.
I have plans and a little internal schedule and my world revolves around that schedule. You know who doesn't care? Frosty.
Frosty doesn't give two shits what you'd like her to do as she's living her best life. Frosty likes to unmake my bed, she likes to steal clothes, she will pull clothes off hangers and chew the straps off of all my tank tops, she is currently working on digging a tunnel to the center of the Earth in the middle of my most amazing rock garden.
That was just her Sunday. My Sunday was comprised of refolding stacks of clothes that she ran through, filling in a massive hole in my yard, bathing her, completely scrubbing my bathroom after bathing her, cleaning the house after she scooby-doo'd around the hardwoods on the main floor and really cobbling back together some semblance of order in the house.
By the time all that was sorted out, all the things that I thought I was going to do, I didn't have the time or interest to do any of them.
Work out? No
Sit and meditate? No way
Read my new book? I don't even know where it is at this point.
Get Ready to kick off a new work week? At this point my hope is just to be fully dressed before leaving for work.
How do we stay on track when it is so easy to have our plans derailed? How do I remain nimble in my schedule but maintain my resolve to implement and maintain meaningful change? It's something I'm really trying to sort out.
I have a fairly demanding job that first of all requires me to go into an office, look like an adult, and be "on" all day long. Significant departure from the last decade when I could work from home, not get out of my hello kitty pj's and I could avoid talking to people for extended periods of time.
When something was compiling or if a process was running, I could tidy up or throw in a load of laundry. Now, being in the adult world, I am out of my home for 8-10 hours a day. When I get home I have to clean, cook, sort out homework, catch up with Finn before he goes to bed and by the time all is said and done, it's 10:00 pm ... I'm absolutely exhausted.
Where is the time to blog, meditate, work out, focus on myself? It's something I need to sort out otherwise meaningful change is unattainable.
Plan of Attack:
1. Go to bed by 9:00 which is around the same time as Finn
2. Wake up at 5:00 which would give me a few hours to get in a work out and sit for a bit before Finn wakes up
3. Leave work at work ... if I have to go into an office - then my home is for living and focusing on things that inspire me personally
4. Really invest in my friendships by giving them the proper care and feeding those relationships deserve
5. Commit to doing something for myself each and every day and not feeling guilty for doing so
Frosty needs to be more of an inspiration to me than something that floofs her way into my tight schedule spreading chaos, albeit the cutest / most snuggly chaos you've ever seen.
Maybe I need to be more like Frosty - maybe she's the Puppy Zen Master that this household has been desperately in need of.
Smoothies are a very frequent go-to in our household. Between my juicer and blender, I can cram a shocking amount of greens and healthy (non pizza) items into my 12 year old.
Finn used to be an incredibly picky eater so I always needed a creative way to get a lot of vegetables & greens into his diet. I'm convinced I could hide anything in a smoothie.
When I say I hide things in smoothies - I'm not just just talking about hiding spinach or the occasional beet - I hide MUSHROOM POWDER which I can only assume would be served on Hell's Buffet during each and every meal. Just the thought of Mushroom Powder grosses me out. I make the smoothies and I have to hide it from myself but I use it as much and as often as possible.
Why? It's actually delicious, it brings a subtle earthiness that doesn't compete with any of the other flavors. Where it goes, I have no idea. I'm just glad it goes somewhere.
Here's a bit of Mushroom Information that will make you give more love to these little guys than perhaps you did before.
In addition to the mushroom powder, we love Matcha - Green Tea is probably the greatest nutritional weapon in our arsenal and we love combining it with berries and coconut water / milk to make a delicious smoothie!
We use a base of coconut water and milk (always combined) and frozen fruit as the foundation for every single smoothie we make. We usually top our smoothies with cocoa nibs and coconut which adds a bit of texture and crunch.
Over the last few weeks, I have been trying different recipes for Chia Seed Pudding and I have found my absolute favorite combination and wanted to share it with you guys.
I honestly can't think of anything that delivers more nutrients in fewer calories than Chia Seeds. Chia seeds aren't just for making a Bob Ross Chia Pet - nutritionally, they kick ass.
They kick so much ass, the word Chia is Mayan for "kicking crazy amounts of ass" ... actually it's Mayan for "Strength" which is still pretty awesome.
Facts: 2 Tablespoons of Chia Seeds are LOADED with Fiber (11g), are a good source of Protein (4g), Healthy Fat (9g with 5g of which being Omega 3s), <140 calories and naturally low in carbohydrates. They are also Gluten Free, GMO Free and typically organic. I say they are typically organic because I'm not sure ALL are but I have never seen any that weren't.
I was thinking this morning about how I'm super focused on Self Acceptance but kicked off a blog that is entirely about change. It's saying to the world; I accept me, however I am going to change nearly every single thing about myself. You can accept a lot of things you don't like but you don't have to accept that's your permanent state. CHANGE WHAT YOU DON'T LIKE
It's like accepting that you bought and live in a condemned house but know that you can't live in that house so you kick off a massive renovation.
I'm the condemned house and this is my renovation!!
HGTV could pick up my story and the Property Brothers could wander around and say things like "well THIS has to go" and "this won't look like this in 7 weeks, you gotta have a vision, the foundation is strong, it just needs A LOT of work", etc.
I do however appreciate the couples wanting a 12,000 Sq Ft house, with 14 bedrooms / 20 bathrooms, massive yard, dog lap pool, elevator, lacrosse field in the middle of Manhattan on a $17.00 budget. Because that's how I approach working out - Well I worked out twice since September, I should look like a swimsuit model by now. I will say I have worked out 3 times this week, so I am almost there.
Writing this post reminds me of when son went to a Martial Arts school that did a 1000 sit ups every year on New Year's Day. In my head I was like, well I did sit ups a few months ago, I can do 1000, easily. We went, we finished with the group, I had fun and thought "OMG I'm in great shape, this is awesome, I'm unstoppable" - two days later I couldn't move. I had to slide out of chairs, It hurt to laugh, I wore skirts for a week because I couldn't bend over to put pants on, etc.
While I never doubted my ability to do it, I learned that it's not enough to just show up and shine for a brief moment. Had I been doing what I should have been doing all along, things would have been so much easier afterwards.
That's an underlying current in most things in my life - I can shine when I need to but life would be sooooo much easier if everything wasn't executed on-demand or during a fire drill. A little planning wouldn't kill me.
It's a welcome renovation as this little house has great bones and it can be absolutely anything I want it to be.
I know if I were to just focus on my ideal version of myself, the possibilities would be endless; in my personal life, in my career, how I feel personally, etc.
I spend a lot of time thinking about "Future-State" me and often times, it's just an exercise on paper. I'm changing what I don't like and it feels pretty amazing.
Shitty friends? Get rid of them. Don't like the way you eat? Change your diet. Don't like your job? Get a new one that inspires you. What to try something new? Sign Up and Show Up.
In all honestly, my empowerment really stems from my "life mantra" coffee cup that I bought last November on Amazon. It was the spark to the fire. Maybe you need one too?!? It's a great reminder!
I LOVE to make most of the products we use around the house - it's shocking how easy it is to make body scrubs, deodorant, lotions, facial cleansers, household cleaning supplies, etc.
One of my absolute favorite items are Lotion Bars and it's funny because I hadn't thought about them in a while until my friend Niki gave some of the ones she made (shown above) for Christmas!
I can't even properly articulate how much I looooove these bars. I get a lot of compliments on how soft my skin is which sounds a lot more "Buffalo Bill'esque a la Silence of the Lambs" than I intended, but I do.
The thing is, I don't have soft skin - I have really DRY skin since moving to Colorado. I use A LOT of lotions and potions to keep my skin in great shape. That said, Lotion Bars make it so incredibly easy to not look like you're a human / lizard hybrid.
I have no idea what Niki used in her magical lotion bars but you can start making your own with a handful of ingredients.
Additional Tips & Tricks: