Health Foodie: Messing with Iconic Dishes Part One

Health Foodie: Messing with Iconic Dishes Part One

As my love affair with all things spicy cools off, I have to find ways to live in between.  I am between my love of food relationship exploration and the need for it not to kill my stomach.  Creole food is one of those perplexing situations for me. About a year ago on a pinning spree I took on gumbo and LOVE it.  I love the earthy and fiery flavors with the simple base.  Recently, a more palatable version found my bowl as tweaking to remove shellfish allergy and reduce reflux triggers.  This reworking of a Creole icon reduces the spice, lowers fat content, and switches to a low acid tomato.   Make your shopping list, grab your pots, and find the zydeco music.  It’s time to channel that not so spicy but spiced up food encounter.

Gumbo/Stew

Ingredients and Prep

Roux

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of all purpose flour or all purpose gluten free flour

Gumbo

  • 2 garlic cloves diced
  • 1 tsp of Creole Seasoning (cayenne will do in a pinch)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley (1 tbsp dried parsley can be substituted)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 2 stalks of celery sliced
  • 1 lb of chicken cooked and diced
  •  oz of smoked turkey sausage (if you can handle the spicy go for chicken andouille sausage)
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 9 ounces of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Optional add ins: crawfish or shellfish

Cooking

  1. Roux: this mystical beast is the wonderment base.  The key is to never leave it alone and constantly stir.
    • Heat skillet to medium heat then add in oil.  Gentle stir in flour with a whisk and keep stirring.  The goal is a medium to medium dark brown.  Once you reach the desired color, give your arm a break and head to step 2.
  2. Add in: garlic, red bell pepper, celery, and tomatoes.  Cook for 10 minutes
  3. Add in broth, meat, and spices
  4. Simmer on low for about an hour

How you address or dress this dish when it’s done is up to you.  The classic is with rice.  We went for corn polenta (pictured), but it’s up to you and any idea you dream of.  Classics like this have staying power as it carries tradition, memories, and iconic flavors.  It doesn’t mean you can’t mess around a little in your food relationship.

Namaste

Check out part two next week!

Health Foodie: Messing with Iconic Dishes Part Two V/VEG, GF, DF, Lower Acid

Health Foodie: Messing with Iconic Dishes Part Two V/VEG, GF, DF, Lower Acid

Simply because cannot take “no” for an answer- I had to find answer to this pasta dish and my every changing food life.  Largely because of the sauce.  So what’s wrong with the sauce? Puttenesca is a tomato sauce with a specific combinations of plants, veggies, and (most of time) anchovies.  I HATE anchovies. If I was desert and had a choice between those greasy, tiny fish and bugs.  I choose bugs. Then there is the acid factor in tomatoes.  With a few quick switch outs with some veggies, I have a delicious alternative.   I opted for campari tomatoes as they are sweeter with lower acid.  To reduce acid more, you can add in some carrot puree.  The tomatoes didn’t irritate my reflux.  Since the anchovies got to go- I went with capers to give that briny, salty taste.  Best part, is more concentrated veggies means more nutrition.  The instructions are for the sauce, your base is dealer’s choice. As complex carbs can help absorb stomach acid, I opted for a brown rice/ quinoa gluten free pasta but zoodles are just a good. 

Ingredients and Prep

  • 3 Garlic cloves, diced
  • Oregano 1 tablespoon dried
  • Olive Oil 1 tablespoon
  • Campari tomatoes, 16 oz, quartered
  • Green or black olives sliced (2.25 oz can or I eat a specific green type, about 10 olives)
  • Capers 1-2 tablespoons
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon of carrot pure

Cooking

  1. Put in diced garlic and olive oil and gentle stir for about 5-7 minutes on medium.
  2. Still on medium heat, place in diced tomatoes and oregano and cook until tomatoes have broken down plus a few minutes (25 minutes). In the last 5 minutes you can put in optional carrot puree to lower the pH level.  
  3. Put in olives and capers for additional ten minutes.  1 1/2 tablespoon of capers is enough for me. Start with 1 tablespoon and add to taste.  Do let it cook for a minute before adding. 

So what’s up with the letter’s in the title? As I began typing this recipe I realize how many dietary concerns this addresses. Basically it is a flag for whatever need you have.  Vegan- follow the V, no animal products were used in the making of this meal.  Vegetarian? VEG means no meats.  If you are gluten free, then GF.  Dairy free or watching the lactose? DF is for you because cow’s milk didn’t want to get involved.  This recipe is all of them with an low acidic conscious. Plus it’s an easy yum.  

My soul honors your soul’s individuality in your food relationship 

Namaste

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The Art of Letting Go

There is always something to let go. 

Sometimes it’s a thin thread of irritation of long lines, traffic, or a thoughtless action.  Other times it reaches the catastrophic level.  Then there is all in between.  When we do not let go, any where on the scale, it builds up.  It infects our mental health and manifests itself in our physical health. Stomach ache, fatigue, headaches, indigestion may all be emotionally driven.  Anxiety and worry may be fueled by a need to let something go.  The great news is that simple steps is all you need to arm yourself.  Not so great is that it is a process and it can be messy.  For the larger issues in life it takes multiple acts and time.  Trust that process and trust yourself to find ways to cut the cords.  Make your masterpiece of release and peace.

photo of multicolored abstract painting
Photo by Free Creative Stuff on Pexels.com

  1. Never suppress the emotion or issue.  Always acknowledge it.  It’s important to note what you are feeling, why you are feeling it, and it’s trigger.  Noticing and dwelling are two different actions. Noticing is as an objective description by you.  Dwelling is nose dive into the emotion with fingers pointed, often in many directions.  Note the feeling  Note it’s cause and it’s trigger. Write it if it helps.
  2. Say it. Breathe it. Release it.  You can say out loud or in your head, ” I release _______________ as it no longer serves me.” Inhale then exhale it out. When it’s something small, like your child says momma a million times,  acknowledgement and a good breath out is generally enough.

 Then again, sometimes it’s not.  

Even one is different and digging in deep to release looks different for everyone. 

Pick what jumps out at you. This is what you need at this moment.

  • Make it a ceremony.  Most happy moments in life are marked ceremoniously; by party, pictures, commemorative dates, etc.  Letting go can be one of those moments of joy for you to make space and unburden yourself.
    • Make a bonfire, I am all for setting – environmentally safe- things ablaze.  You can use an object or write what you want to release on a paper then throw it in the pyre.
    •  Light a candle. Its is a bit less dramatic; however, it is effective in marking this moment of letting go.  Repeating the statement in step two, reciting a mantra, saying a prayer are ways to enhancing your candle ceremony.
  • Write it out.  Write a letter to your younger self, future self if the letting go centralizes on you.  Journal or write a letter to a person to unload.  If you have letting go of a person or something between you and them, write to them.
  • Make literal art.  Coloring pages may help.  Create an abstract of what you feel.  Use your favorite medium and symbolism in an artwork.  Or create art that has nothing to do with it at all.  The act of creating aids in processing emotions and thoughts.
  • Confide or confront.  Sometimes a coffee or tea meeting helps to unleash those bottled thoughts and emotions.  A trusted and honest friend may help you process through all of them.  You may need to confront a persona and feeling ready to respectfully and firmly do so.  Do so.  You are not responsible for their actions but are in control of appropriately expressing yourself.  You might want to write it out first.
  • Meditation and prayer.  Clearing the junk in your head and heart are essential.  In one or several sessions, meditation and prayer give you the opportunity to process, organize, and offer your burden to the heavens.  My favorite is under moonlight. It is one of the closest settings I feel to my creator.  Put yourself in that literal space and head space to let go.

UntitledIn everything in your art of letting go find grace and love for yourself.  It’s important to know that you are in control of you and no one else.  You are worthy to be respected and other people are worthy to be respected.  When you meet at this intersection of kindness for yourself and others, it makes creating your masterpiece of release easier.  Inhale your comfort and exhale your complication, worry, irritation, etc.  Take up your brush and design your letting go.

Namaste

Find your masterpiece of peace

Next week may be what you need in your food life.  I and #thecalmRiley certainly did.  Say “YES” to leveling out the pH in your food relationship with new recipes and quick tips.

I want to say this sharing is because of recent events.  In honesty, these losses are indicative of a pervasive reality.  Mental illness is tucked in many corners of humanity, no one is immune.   In a little more than a week I am sharing the story behind my tattoo.  My story has much to do with my mental illness and my victory in my journey.  However, yesterday in the physical pain, fatigue, and mental frustration, I know all too well how quickly I could slip.  Therapy, chemical stability aid, inspiration, and reminders are necessary.  My tattoo is my permanent reminder.

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The largest part of my tattoo is a Lotus.  This flower is unlike many others, its survives in a wide range of temperatures and muddy waters.  I am a wife, mom, advocate, friend, artist, writer, sister, daughter.  Roles built over time and ones that I cherish.  With that I am a survivor of abuse and the social taboo it comes with.  I’ve been told that I shouldn’t share that part of my life because it would make others uncomfortable.  Then I became further isolated.  Anxiety and depression were the roller coasters of much of my life.  Panic attacks and withdrawn.  I felt voiceless.  I am a medical illness hurdle jumper with stumbles here and there.   I am an ADHDian.  It’s been a wide range in my life.  As a conqueror, I am not just blooming.  I am changing.  The butterfly right up on my shoulder symbolizes that crucial mindset of transformation.  I can and do choose to change how my past and current situations are used.  They do not wholly define me.  Written below all of this is 2 Corinthians 5:17.  Those are words I have held dear to for years.  Those words remind me that my Creator designed me for a great purpose and, like a lotus, my roots are deep to thrive despite the mud.  The act of creating is a process.  It takes time, effort, and there are mistakes.  Through the transformation and healing in mental illness, it is a similar process. My creation is flawed, but valuable all the same.

Here’s the thing.  There was a time the darkness was deep.  I didn’t believe in the value of my life and my silence festered the wounds.  It was baby steps, but I found that last shred of strength and sought help.  In the battle we need allies and professional ones.  If you are in that darkness, keep one foot in front of the other with hands out.  We need you.  There’s isn’t another you.  Seeking help isn’t weak, it’s boldness.  You have it in you.  To take it further, I have taken medication in the past to help me.  I found a natural path that works best for me.  It doesn’t matter the means: talking, breathing, medication, supplements, or do all of it.  Grab a hold of your life line.  My hope is that one day your story will become a tattoo, artwork, song, writing, oral story that will empower you and empower others.

Additionally, we need advocates.  Our perceptions on people with mental illness need to change. Perceptions on the illnesses themselves need to change.  The health care system needs to change.  Our interactions with each other needs change.  A simple start is giving grace, checking in with those around us, and be present.  Compassion and deeper connections are imperative.  Become aware of yourselves, others around you, and share resources for help. Be that shoulder.  Make that call.

As always, my soul honors your invaluable soul

Life Lines

National Suicide Hotline 

  • 1- 800- 273- 8255 Hotline
  • 1-800- 799- 4889 TTY Hotline
  • Suicide Prevention Website (online chat option and specific areas of help)

Crisis Text Line

  • Text Home to 741741

Domestic Violence

Sexual Assualt

Postpartum Support International

 

The Health Foodie: Coming to a Loving Place in Her Relationship with Food.

The Health Foodie: Coming to a Loving Place in Her Relationship with Food.

I am a girl who loves to eat.  Protein shakes are great for on the fly and nutrition punch in the gut/ for the gut. However, I want real food.  For so long I either mindlessly ate and neglected the attention it deserved or hated food because we didn’t understand each other and how to work together.  From leechy junk food who hangs around- in undesirable places- to that empty feeling calorie, I struggled.  After years of the love/hate tango we have finally come to healthy terms.

 

Our arrangements go like this:  I sit to eat and no longer eat on the run.  I was horrible about not taking my time and being thoughtless.   Now we have a time to be present in choices and time to be present at the meal.  This gives me the power to keep negative and unhealthy foods are under my control.   I have the right to be choosy in who shows up to dinner, lunch, breakfast, and in between. Especially salt and fats. I can say no and send them packing. Now herbs and spices provide the excitement in the relationship without the regret.  Protein, fruit, and veggies have an open door policy.  Except Brussels sprouts.  They are banned for life.  I won’t do it.  I just won’t.  No longer is the misguided goal to be skinny which brings resentment in my diet and to myself.  We agreed on nutrition with flavor to maintain a healthy body and mind, while feeding the soul.  Soul food is a real thing my friends. Cantina salsa and dark chocolate are what feeds mine.  Seriously, salsa on everything from taco to eggs.

 

 

 

Salsa and chocolate aside, one of my food loves is lo mien. Unfortunately, gluten and I are no longer are on speaking terms.  A lot of my favorites had to be re-imagined.  Thus pork with veggie lo mien is born.  Simple and flavored pack protein and veggies. Warning: soy sauce is involved.  It’s that salt thing. Low sodium is on the invitation list.

 

 

Ingredients and prep

 

 

Pork: lean/low fat cuts, about 4-5 ounces per adult person

Cabbage (green and purple): sliced or buy pre shredded

Carrots: diced or if you do it like I do, it comes with the pre shredded cabbage

Onions: sweet/vidalia- sliced thin   OR Green onions chopped small

Mushrooms: sliced thin

Ginger: powdered

Soy: remember, low sodium

Canola oil or extra virgin olive oil

Minced garlic: pre-bought or DIY

Optional: bok choy diced, kale sliced

 

 

 
We are totally normal.  No fancy kitchen and short staff.
Get cooking:
1. Get a skillet and turn the stove onto a medium heat.  Add a tablespoon of canola oil or extra virgin olive oil (either oil in a spray works too).  Lightly sprinkle ginger and minced garlic on one side of the pork.  Cook the pork in the pan.  I am looking for browning on the outside and no pink showing.  About 10-15 mins on each side- the thinner the cut the less amount of time each side takes.  Suggested inside temp for pork is 145 degrees Fahrenheit if you have a meat thermometer handy. Let it rest 3-5 minutes and you can slice and dice it how you want.
2. While the pork is cooking-  add a tablespoon of canola oil or evoo (thank you Rachel Ray) to a wok, skillet, or whatever will hold the veggies.  Some of us lack the gourmet kitchen but make it work.  Not all veggies cook equally.  Start mushrooms and onions (not green onions).  If you are cooking bok choy, add it in with the mushroom and onions.  Cook for 10 minutes or so.  Then add carrots, cabbage or that bag of pre shredded stuff and if you are doing kale or green onions, throw it in too.  I usually find the total cooking time for veggies is twenty minutes. Slightly soft veggies is the goal.   Those last couple of minutes sprinkle some low sodium soy sauce and some ginger powder to taste.  If you like a lot of either, let someone else add and taste it.  Keep it light.

 

Pork and Veggie Lo Mein

 

 

That’s it. Step one and pork done.  Step two and veggie lo mein done.  Constructive suggestions in how to improve our relationships in this specific area are welcomed.  Raving reviews are encouraged. You know, for the the food.
 

 

Namaste and nourish love

*originally published on September 17, 2017

Status

Health Allergy Challenged Foodie: Handling Holiday Gatherings

You know who we are.  We are those who constantly ask what is in that and say we can’t eat that.  There was a time in my life where I had just the one food allergy. It was glorious.  Along the way I have built a nice collection of allergies that completely altered my diet, care routine, and trust.  It affects everything. And its nothing compared to my stepson who has bakers dozens of food and environmental allergies. Then we have intolerances of the ridiculous kind that might as well be allergies.  We are well stocked in antihistamines.

We DO NOT wish to be these people.

At Holiday functions we must be these people.  On Halloween our children will say thank you politely and bring their bags home to meticulously inspected.  It kinda sucks the fun out of it.  Except for parent taxes.  If you have food allergies then you are our people.  I have hard learned suggestions for those holiday gatherings for us.   If you do not have food allergies then having your meals picked apart is as annoying for you as us. Sorry. I have some hard learned suggestions on how to handle us in these gatherings.

 Holiday Gatherings with Food Allergies

For the food allergy people-

  1.  Ask. Ask. Ask and apologize once for inconvenience it might cause. It’s just being polite but not apologetic for doing what you must to survive.  Ask what is being served, if their are alternatives (don’t expect it), etc. You give kindness in your situation, usually your host reciprocates it.
  2. Plan ahead. When you can, bring food.  My bag, my kids’s bags, and travel bags have food that accommodate our allergies.  It is your and our responsibility to be sure you have what you need and work within your food issues, not someone’s else.  You can always ASK (see number one), but ultimately it is up to you.  Our families and friends are great at working with us.
  3. Be proactive and offer a dish or two that you know you can eat and share.  It is helpful to you and your host.
  4.  Get ingredient list and read labels. Ahead of time when possible and if available.
  5. Have a medical plan and supplies in case of an oops or emergency. Know where the nearest hospital is and be well stocked. Epi pens only buy you time and you may need more than one pen to make it.

For the non- food allergy people

  1.  Please do not be insulted by our questions.  We have to ask.  To survive.  It is not a reflection on your cooking skills (we haven’t eaten it yet) or hosting skills. I’m sure you are lovely.
  2. Please do not take offense if we bring food or offer to bring a dish.  We are trying to help you help us. It’s really awkward when we can’t eat anything or just the one thing.
  3. Please be gracious as our bruised ego has to be meticulous in ingredients.  We are trying not to use our number five.

A little goes a long way when our food allergy people are prepared and our non-food allergy people are accommodating.  It can be enjoyable with flexibility and understanding on both sides.

Namaste and Share for Foodies of All Types

Upcoming: tackling food icons and hoping not to completely %*#*! it up. Vegan hacks are not just for vegans. Then whatever inspiration is thrown at me. 🤣😜🙏

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Health Foodie: Teal Pumpkins and Candy Safety 👻 🎃

Health Foodie: Teal Pumpkins and Candy Safety 👻 🎃

From intolerances to “this could be an ER visit,” we are that allergy family.   We hit all of them.  Restaurants require research.  Dinners are a cultivated art of allergy free.  We meticulously plan for BBQs and get togethers.  Halloween is a search and find of labels and parental taxes.  We gotta get something out of preparing for the festivities, right?  Fortunately for the food allergy challenged, there are easy options.

  1. First things first.  Know your candy.  Know what your favorites are to negotiate taxes and know how to practice candy safety.  This means check packaging (sealed?), reading all labels (known allergies on it?), and if you’re not sure, trash it.
  2. Look for safe candies (free from top 8 allergies): DOTS, Ring Pop, Dum Dums, Skittles, Smarties, Starburst, and Jelly Belly Jelly Beans.  Yes brand matters in this case.
  3. Get in the project!  Food Allergy Research & Education has an amaze Teal Pumpkin Project The site contains a map across the United States of homes with Top 8 Allergy friendly candies or non candy items.  We are on that map!!img_1616
    • There are great kid friendly activities
    • Print outs for your home are on this site!
    • Stores like Target and Michaels are carrying Teal Pumpkin items for purchase.
  1. Offer allergy friendly candies that do not contain the top 8 allergies or have a prize option:  Stickers, rings, slime, pencils, any party favor.
    • I am finding multipack prize options at a reasonable cost at Target and Walmart.

Below are the Top 8 Common Allergies for your  in  the know.  Food allergy challenged or not, awareness for the sake of safety in important.  Please consider going teal in the festivities.  This act of kindness will treat you in the future.

Top 8 Allergies

  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Nuts
  • Gluten
  • Fish
  • Dairy
  • Soybean
  • Shellfish

Namaste 🙏 and  ❤️ teal 🎃

The kid’s teal pumpkins

Curve balls and Making Boomerangs

Curve balls and Making Boomerangs

Our life is rarely quiet and recently was no exception. While I was pulling a late evening volunteer shift, my husband was putting a shift in the carpool and kids activity. Then our carpool collided with nature. Unfortunately for the deer it didn’t end well and the car took a beating. Over a year ago, the anxiety and stress would’ve undone everything then permeated every where.  Not to say it wasn’t present in the action of the accident, aftermath, tons of phone calls, waiting for the tow truck, logistics, etc.  We live in a world where conflict and stress happens. It’s what we do with it that impacts our bodies and minds.  From there it leaks into every else you are in contact with.  How did we keep the pieces together that night?

First of all, deep breaths.  Lack of oxygen to your brain and body affect your decision and coping ability.  Pause.  When you are in a place do this, acknowledge your emotions and take a gratitude inventory.  It was sometime after the event before I got to the accident and picked up the kids.  We discussed the event, how everyone felt.  We didn’t just name, we acknowledged, ” this is how I feel and it’s okay.”  It ends there.  We have emotions and they can guided us.  However, when we are emotions, they rule us.  The conversation shifted to gratefulness.  Everyone was safe, #hubby had the situation handled, we have great neighbors to check on the dog,  and our car was on it’s way to be fixed soon. Was this a blissful moment, absolutely not.  Yet, it was moment of growth and one was gained a bit more control over us.  It was an attitude shift in a curve ball that made a boomerang affect.  In situations, how we react comes back and we can benefit or hurt ourselves and others.  We still had the next day of tiredness and more logistics to get through.  Our attitude and perspective gave way to ability to cope, production, and even humor at times.  It’s not perfect, but steps in the right direction.

Breathe. Acknowledge. Take Inventory. 

Curve balls happen, what kind of boomerang effect do you want?

Namaste and I’m napping today

Aside

Health Foodie: For your Heart

A lot comes through my media and email with shockers like “number one killer” or ” this could kill you.” Yes death is a reality and even a fear.  Matter of the heart are serious and, seriously, when your heart is cared for, it does much to amplify the quality of your life.  What if we shift our focus to finding habits to enhance our heart health?

A lot of the following suggestions of physical habits are general preventative measures or maintenance.  Everyone is different and a sit down with your doctor, nutritionist, health coach, etc for individual guidance is important.  Especially if you are seeking treatment for heart or blood conditions.  According to American Heart Association, the best heart diet is one full of fruit, veggies, whole grains (think ancient), lean meat, low fat dairy, and nuts.  Across the board, for most this is a great guideline for any one.  What any heart and food relationship needs restraints in are limited: saturated fat, red meat, sodium, sweets, and sugar sweetened beverages.  Kick trans fat to the curb. Period.  Why these guidelines? Fiber and Omegas found in many veggies, whole grains, and lean meats are important for gut thus heart function.  Too much processed foods, sugar, fats can damage your gut, build up in blood vessels, then affect your heart.  Your food relationship is your daily healer.  Physical activity is important and looks different for everyone.  The important thing is to find something you enjoy.  There are lighter ends like Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Yin/Restorative Yoga to walking, Hatha Yoga, Pilates, biking, zumba, Refit, and more.  If you want to run, run.  If you want to box, box.  If you like the gym and it holds you accountable, then make time for it. Take a class.  Find an app or youtube at home.  Find what you like and take limitations into account.   I am rarely in the mood for the gym.  Yoga in its many forms is my thing and other than an relished and occasional class due to time constraints, my practice is at home.

What you do for your physical health impacts your mental well being.  Your mental care habits affect your body and heart.  It’s a never ending circle to represent the whole you.   There isn’t solid study evidence to date on the link of mental to heart health. Yet.  However, many professionals support this link as found on heart.org.  Prolonged stress effects many things from gut to brain to your heart.  Since stress is a natural part of life and many times can’t be avoided, you need stress busters.

Ways to bust

  • hobby
  • journaling
  • physical activity (two for one!)
  • time with loved ones
  • coloring/ creative activity
  • play dough (its for adults too)
  • prayer/meditation
  • water feature or sounds
  • Essential oils: peppermint and lavender
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Practice or journal gratitude
  • Breathing apps
  • Self care: baths, massage, reiki, spa day, nails
  • Find your limitations and stick with them.  Yes is potent. No is potent. Listen to yourself to know when to use what and when.
  • Community service

This isn’t a pick one and done list.  And you have the freedom to rotate, pick a few, or pick many.  Your inner voice and preferences are powerful.  Listen to them and begin building those stress busting habits.  Your food relationship, activity level, and mental care are essential for your heart health.

Your heart matters

Namaste

I am not affiliated with above link to the American Heart Association.  Their website is wonderful, check it out at Heart.org