Believe

Believe stoneThere’s a saying I’m sure you’ve all heard – Believe it to achieve it. It’s cliché and trite, but I keep thinking about it because I also find it to be true. I see so often that the people I deeply wish could find their reason, their faith in themselves, and their success are wonderful people who, deep down inside, don’t believe they can reach their goals. This makes me sad. Perhaps even more so because far too often I am one of them too.

I wish that I could say I’d found the definitive solution or some secret mantra that would provide everyone with the self-confidence and knowledge that they have everything they need inside, right now, to achieve whatever they set their mind to. Unfortunately, this area is one that I continue to struggle with all the time. My dear friend over at Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching broached the topic the other day and it got me thinking about my own recent experience with it.

This time last year, I had been consistently eating 95% (or maybe even 98%) Paleo for several months. I was working out more regularly than ever before and was very focused on my health. I’ll admit that there was an element of wanting to look and feel good in my clothes, but once I got truly settled into eating the right food for my body, it became much more than that. I could really feel that my mind and body were working together towards the same goal and it was more than just the size of my jeans. There was a sense of rhythm to my energy – I ate when I needed fuel, I had zero desire to eat things that didn’t make me feel vibrant, I was in tune with what worked and what didn’t. It felt so good that when I look back from where I sit today, I wonder why I ever changed what I was doing.

I feel like I was better able to face life’s challenges when I was in that space, so why stop doing what was working? I guess life isn’t a straight line or a series of successes, though. At least it isn’t for me. It seems that it is more like a wave with ups and downs, over and over again. Sometimes I am riding on top with a clear line of site to wherever it is I’m headed, and then other times I’m at the bottom of the wave, just trying to figure my way out.

There was one other distinct difference, though. I also firmly believed that I could be successful. I didn’t doubt my choices, my reasons, my self. I just acted with clear intention – give my body what it needs to feel great. It seems so simple and easy when I look at it like that. But for me, for so many people that I know, doing what’s right for my body is utterly entangled with my past. My ability to make good choices in any particular moment seems hi-jacked by my emotional state, leaving me feeling helpless. This isn’t true; I am not helpless, of course. I always have a choice.

Lately, like for the past 6 months, I’ve been making a different choice. In some ways, it has definitely been a learning experience. I am still trying to figure out how to balance a love of all foods, the pleasure of enjoying a cocktail, and the slippery slope that indulgence is for me, with the strength and confidence that I derive from following a stricter Paleo lifestyle. It feels like it shouldn’t be difficult, but for me it still is. I thought I was handling it, and I’ve balanced it better than in the past, but here I am at the end of the summer wishing I had done things differently. That’s somewhere that I don’t want to spend much time. I would like to live my life with confidence, proud of my choices, happy with my days and nights. With that, it’s time to take a look at the old habits that have crept back in and do a bit of course correction.

A few friends and I have embarked on 21 days of squeaky-clean whatever. For me it’s Paleo, for others it is what makes them feel their best. We’re a few days in and doing it together so that we can support and motivate each other. Like I said in the beginning, though, believing in myself and what I want to achieve is fundamental to my success. What I want is to feel strong, confident, healthy, beautiful, energetic, and whole.

My friend at Rising Tide also said, “The brain knows the difference between lip service and your deepest feelings.” I guess that means I have some work to do to figure out where the obstacles to my success lie and what I need to do to overcome them. It also means I need to look a little more deeply to figure out what keeps me from believing that I deserve balance and ease and health. On to the next lesson…

Carrot-Jicama Chipotle Slaw

Carrot Jicama Slaw with Chipotle Lime Dressing 2015I can’t believe that summer is nearly over already! It’s been a crazy few months around my house because, although I only have one child, I do have a number of part-time jobs and projects that take over my time and balancing them with wanting to enjoy the summer with a 10 year old can be challenging.

In honor of it still being summer, I will finally post this salad after making it countless times. It’s inspired by a chipotle coleslaw that a friend of mine introduced me to many years ago. I lost that recipe, but I never lost the love for the creamy, spicy, tangy sauce. What I love about using carrots here is the sweetness that they bring to the dish. They act as the perfect counterpoint to the spicy chipotle.

And then there’s the jicama. If you’ve never tried jicama, I highly recommend it. I should have posted a picture with a whole one so you can imagine it if you’ve never seen it. You find it in the produce section and it looks like a fairly large roundish ball wrapped in brown paper. Think of a big, round potato or turnip with thicker skin that you need to peel. It is, in fact, a tuber from South America and can be cooked, although I’ve found that I much prefer it raw. I love it on veggie trays and have even used thin slices as a bread replacement. It’s juicy and refreshing, but not in the way that an orange is. It won’t drip down your chin or make juice or anything, but it will taste delicious on a hot summer day.

So this salad…I love it so much that it is among the most frequently made in my house. Crisp, juicy, sweet, spicy, citrusy – you name it, this salad brings it together. It is perfect next to grilled meat of any kind and when I have left overs, I will sometimes throw in a can of tuna or some cooked chicken and call it lunch. You have to be the judge when it comes to adding the chipotle, though. I like it spicy and will vary the recipe depending on my mood. Start with half of what the recipe calls for and then add more until your taste buds are happy. I’ve been known to add quite a bit more.

Here’s to the final weeks of summer, friends and BBQs, salads any time, and delicious food!

Carrot-Jicama Chipotle Slaw

1 1/2 lb. jicama

6 medium carrots, about 1 lb.

1 large handful of cilantro, about 1/3 c. chopped

1/4 c. Paleo Mayonnaise

Juice from 1 large lime, about 1/4 c.

2 chipotle peppers in adobo with most (but not all) seeds removed

1 tsp. salt

Directions

  1. Using a food processor or box grater, shred the jicama and carrots and place in a large bowl.
  2. Add the cilantro.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, lime juice, chipotle peppers and salt. You can also put the ingredients into a blender or Magic Bullet and give it a whirl.
  4. Toss the dressing with the slaw, taking time to get everything well integrated, and then taste to adjust seasonings. You can add more of any of the sauce ingredients to satisfy your taste.
  5. Let the flavors meld for about 10 minutes and then taste again, adding a little extra salt if necessary.
  6. Enjoy!

Spring Risotto with Ham and Asparagus

Ham and Asparagus Risotto 2014 3

About this time last year, some fabulous Paleo people decided to put together a bundle of e-books to sell at an amazing price. I love when that happens because it lets a lot of people get acquainted with more Paleo blogs and cookbooks in an affordable way. Eating healthy and delicious food should be accessible, I think. Within that bundle was a cookbook that compiled a number of recipes from a website called chowstalker where I have posted before. I was honored to be asked to share a recipe for the book and this risotto is what I created. For whatever reason, I didn’t post the recipe on BalancingPaleo last year but it’s delicious and I’d love for all of you to enjoy it too, so here it is!

A risotto is a rice dish from Italy with a creamy, decadent consistency that is both comforting and luxurious at the same time. It can be made many different ways, with many different ingredients. It is a dish to master so that you can create a sumptuous risotto with whatever ingredients you have on hand. For the Paleo eater, cauliflower takes the place of rice and it does so beautifully! While it might lack some of the starchiness of rice, it makes an excellent backdrop for the ham and asparagus in this risotto. Get a quality ham with some good smoke – it’s an important ingredient here and you want to love what you’re eating. Tarragon has a flavor reminiscent of licorice, which is surprisingly delightful in this dish. You could substitute parsley if you can’t find it, but I highly recommend seeking out tarragon if at all possible.

Spring Risotto with Ham and Asparagus is a beautiful dish that comes together quickly and highlights the bright freshness of the season. Serve this at your next dinner party or for a weeknight meal – either way, your taste buds are in for a treat!

Spring Risotto with Ham and Asparagus

2 Tbsp. ghee, divided

1 lb. ham

1/2 large onion

1 large head of cauliflower

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 c. vegetable broth

1/4 c. coconut milk, divided

1 bunch asparagus, about 1 lb.

2 scallions, minced

1 Tbsp. fresh tarragon, minced

pepper to taste

Directions

1) Ham: Melt 1/2 Tbsp. of ghee in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cut the ham into matchsticks about 1/4 in. thick. Sear the ham until it begins to caramelize a bit, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

2) Onion and Cauliflower: While the ham is cooking, finely chop the onion. Then roughly chop the cauliflower and drop it into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an s-blade. Process the cauliflower until it looks about like grains of rice – this will take about 10-12 pulses for each batch. A large head will need to be riced in 2-3 batches so it doesn’t get mushy. Set aside in a large bowl.

3) As soon as the ham is cooked and set aside, reduce the heat to medium and add 1 Tbsp. of ghee to the pan. Sauté the onion until slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the riced cauliflower, garlic, and salt, and stir to combine. Add broth and 2 Tbsp. coconut milk. Stir again, place a lid on the pot, and reduce heat slightly. Allow to cook for about 7 minutes.

4) Asparagus: While the cauliflower is cooking, remove the tough portion at the bottom of each asparagus and slice the stalks on the diagonal into pieces about 1 1/2 in. long. If the asparagus is as thick as a finger, first slice each stalk down the middle lengthwise and then into 1 1/2 in. pieces. Add the asparagus pieces to the cauliflower and replace the lid. Cook for 3 minutes.

5) Add the ham back to the mixture and stir in 2 more Tbsp. of coconut milk. Cook uncovered for about 3 minutes until everything is piping hot.

6) Remove risotto from the heat and add 1/2 Tbsp. ghee, scallions, tarragon, and pepper. Enjoy!

Serves 4

Listening

swirling-clouds-above-the-ocean-beach-wallpaper-3111It’s funny how the Universe works. I have this idea, and I know I’m not alone in it, that if you want or need something or perhaps are seeking some truth or answer, and you put that idea energetically into the world, then the Universe will lift that up and begin to answer. The key, though, is that you have to listen. You have to be ready to say, “Yes,” when an opportunity or an idea comes along. You have to be open.

Sometimes the messages that are sent are quite apparent, but sometimes they are far more subtle and you need to find some silence and space to process what may be the tiniest of thoughts or yearnings that begin to surface in your mind and heart. A slight whisper that nudges you to take a risk, try something new, or just a moment shared with another person where something they say triggers something in you.

These moments are precious, but I find that the more I listen for them and to them, the more excited that I get because they often are the manifestation of something that is deep within me that might not have even been fully realized yet. In those moments, it seems the Universe takes over and urges me to try. To grow. To experience. To live.

As an example, yoga is an important part of my life. While I came to it fairly late, dabbling with videos for a few years and then finally discovering what it could be like to do yoga in a studio with an amazing instructor, it transformed me in more ways than I can count. Quite recently I stumbled upon an instructor certification that was attainable for me, and I decided to do it. I didn’t have any specific plans for how or when I would use it, but I went to the training and I was on fire with love and desire for the practice.

And that’s when the Universe stepped in. Suddenly, I received an email and had a conversation with someone about a local gym that was looking for an instructor. I decided to go for it, still feeling nervous but realizing that I was living one of those moments that I needed to listen to. Then, before I even began and quite surprisingly to many, that gym closed. I didn’t dwell on it too much and instead just figured the time wasn’t right. Within weeks, my own instructor, an amazing soul who is the very definition of yoga, asked me to sub for her class. I was deeply honored. Less than a week after that, I received a call from a different yoga studio looking for an instructor, willing to take however much time I could give. I don’t know whether this will work out, I only know that doors are opening so that I might try.

This doesn’t just apply to yoga, either. I see instances of this time and time again. Not only in my life, but also while listening to the experiences of others. Life is full of many unexpected twists and situations that we simply cannot predict, but I think that if we spend some time listening to our hearts and observing the opportunities that come before us, we might see that the Universe is always working for us, helping us to grow and evolve and learn. Sometimes we are learning very specific, factual data that can help us answer questions or complete a task, and that’s all well and good. But sometimes we are learning those things which change our hearts, fuel our passions, and transform us forever. Those are the moments that are really worth listening for.

Reach. Try. Change. Grow. Live.

Tropical Tuna Salad with Lemon-Ginger Dressing

Tropical Tuna Salad with Lemon Ginger Dressing 2015The time of year is coming when I begin making salad after salad after salad. It’s one of my favorite things to eat and, truth be told, I actually eat salad year round. My son has cringed on more than one occasion when I’ve made salad for breakfast. It’s really not complicated. I just love salads.

We like to make a giant tuna or chicken salad to serve as lunches throughout the week. It’s also something that I can quickly take for post-workout. I load my salads with so many vegetables that it really satisfies my desire to have a big plate of something delicious, too. Since I’m a fan of savory-sweet combinations, I often throw in some kind of fruit when I’m making one.

On this occasion, I added pineapple which also made an appearance in the dressing. If I’d had some coconut flakes on hand, those would have been nice toasted with a touch of salt and maybe a little allspice. I added red pepper flakes to mine when I served it and really appreciated how they kicked up the flavor. So go ahead and experiment – whatever helps get more vegetables on the plate seems like a great idea to me!

Tropical Tuna Salad with Lemon-Ginger Dressing

Salad

20 oz. of tuna, drained

1 red bell pepper, chopped

3 scallions, chopped

16 oz. slaw (I used bagged slaw because it was fast)

20 oz. can of pineapple tidbits in juice, drained, reserving juice

1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted

Dressing

1/4 c. of reserved pineapple juice

1/4 oz. fresh ginger, grated about 2 tsp.

zest of 1/2 lemon

juice from a whole lemon

2 tsp. rice vinegar

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/4 c. Paleo Mayo

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

1/2 tsp. salt

pepper or red pepper flakes, optional

Directions

1) In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients.

2) Add all of the salad ingredients, except the toasted almonds, to the bowl with the dressing.

3) Toss the salad thoroughly, making sure all of the dressing is integrated.

4) Allow the salad to sit for about 10 minutes in the fridge so the flavors can meld.

5) Toss again, taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt, pepper, or red pepper flakes as desired.

Serves 4-6

Salsa Baked Eggs

Baked eggsBaked eggs are my new favorite thing! Well…favorite might be a bit of an exaggeration. And baked eggs are hardly new, so maybe that initial statement is a little over the top. Truly, though, these are so quick and simple to make that they are right up there with having washed greens and hard boiled eggs as a staple in the fridge. They came about because I like to make something that my husband can have for breakfast that is quick and portable. For a long time now, I’ve made egg muffins or frittatas with various ingredients. Those are great to have on hand too, but there’s something I really like about having a thin layer of meat that holds everything together. I think it looks pretty too.

I have made countless variations already and I’ll post some others in time. I’ve used ham, pastrami, prosciutto, and could imagine roast beef, as the bottom layer. I’ve done all sorts of sautéed veggie combos for the middle layer. But for some reason that I can’t explain, I’ve always mixed my eggs with the vegetables before baking. What I discovered, though, is that I love having the egg in its entirety with a tender yolk and the white separating the layers. It’s even faster to make that way, too, so it’s a bonus. Now imagine not having to precook anything. Slice of ham, dollop of salsa, egg, and into the oven. So easy.

I preferred these cold so that the salsa was back to an expected temperature, but they were fine hot too. And a sprinkle of cumin or chipotle powder would work well on top! If you experiment with some ingredients, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear about the combinations you’ve found that work!

Salsa Baked Eggs

12 slices of deli ham

12 Tbsp. salsa, divided

12 eggs

Coconut oil to grease the tins

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a muffin tin lightly with coconut oil.

2) Lay 1 slice (or 2 if they are small and you need more coverage) of ham in each muffin cup.

3) Add 1 Tbsp. of salsa in the bottom of each cup.

4) Drop in 1 raw egg per muffin cup.

5) Sprinkle salt, pepper, and any other seasonings on top.

6) Bake the egg cups for 20-25 minutes. (20 minutes for a tender center as pictured above.)

7) Press lightly in the center to check for doneness. Remove from the oven, let cool, and enjoy!

Curried Cucumber Salad

Curried Cucumber Salad 2014We have had some absolutely stunning weather in Colorado these past few days. I know that we will have snow and cold again, and I even know that it won’t be long before that happens, but the gorgeous sunshine and warmer temperatures have me believing that summer is just around the corner.

Last summer had a few transformative moments for me, some things I did a little differently than I have in the past or than I normally would. Some special people moved further away, while other special friends found a spot in my heart. I spent many evenings walking in the sunshine, and many, many more days cooking vegetables that I had grown in my very first garden. Honestly, I love that memory – I even love that I spent most of those summer months with scratches on my arms and legs from wandering through my garden and weeding and harvesting. The thought of summer coming and my next garden has me thinking about what it might look like this year, how it might be different, what other transformations are on the horizon.

I guess that’s what spring is for, actually, isn’t it? New growth, small changes, an opportunity for renewal. Much like the new year has me exploring resolutions, I’ve noticed that this time of year has a similar feel to it, only it’s far gentler. There seems to be a subtle shift in the air that allows for the heart to open and be ready for the sunshine to come in. That thought makes me think that there is also a purpose in the inevitable last few cold weeks and even a few snow storms. I think that for me, at least, those colder days will provide an opportunity to sit quietly with a blanket and cup of tea or glass of wine and let the possibilities of spring settle in and take shape. I wish sometimes we all had simpler lives so that we could follow the natural rhythm of the seasons more closely.

On to this recipe – there actually is a reason that it came about! The thoughts of a summer garden reminded me of all the cucumbers that I had last year. They were so sweet and delicious and I ate them constantly. For a few weeks, there were so many that I was eating them three times a day. This salad became a favorite of mine because I happen to love Indian food and while it’s a lot simpler than the amazing dishes you can find in Indian cuisine, it does bring those warm flavors to the table incredibly fast. Sometimes that’s really all I’m looking for.

I hope you enjoy it!

Curried Cucumber Salad

3 cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. Paleo mayonnaise

2 tsp. fresh lime juice, about 1/2 a lime

3/4 tsp. curry powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped

1 scallion, sliced

Directions

1) In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, lime juice, curry powder and salt.

2) In a serving bowl, place the cucumber slices, parsley, and scallions. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings. Enjoy!

Serves 2-3