Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!
It's the unofficial start to summer and I couldn't be happier :)
Well that's not entirely true because it's pouring rain at the moment....But thats alright, my garden is loving it. Hopefully the skies will brighten so we can all go out and play later!
My hula hoop is calling my name and my rebounder is ready and waiting in the back yard. Moving my body every day consistently is what I'm really focusing my attention on these days. It feels great! In a few days I'll write more about it ~ this will surely take an entire page. 
 Many summer activities are based around food with cookouts, picnics and outdoor patio dining in full swing. Summer's a great time to be creative with the abundance of fresh fruits and veggies available. I really enjoy pretty recipes. If it's appealing to the eye, it's usually just as delicious as it looks. And with summer fruits & veggies vibrant as the colors of the rainbow, it's so easy to prepare beautiful, healthy food. 

Here's a scrumptious, raw coleslaw I recently made that is definitely a keeper!
It's crunchy and sweet and really easy to make. I didn't have red cabbage but I'm sure it would make for an even prettier presentation.... Next time I'll make it with the red cabbage and post a picture. I'll be making this again really soon!

Crunchy Coleslaw
1/2 red cabbage
2 carrots
1/4 red onion
1/4 cup of raisins
1 granny smith apple
1/4 cup walnuts
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp Cold pressed olive oil 
Cut the red cabbage and red onion into thin strips
grate the carrot (I used a vegetable peeler)
dice the apple into bite sizes pieces
Place all ingredients except the lemon and oil in a bowl and mix well
in a separate bowl stir together the lemon and oil

pour over the salad and lightly toss


What says summer more than beautiful fresh fruit!
Here's a simple bowl of blueberries ~ strawberries ~ raw slivered almonds and unsweetened coconut flakes (which are actually very sweet naturally)  ~ it's one of my favorite lunches lately.

A little watermelon anyone? 

 Frozen Banana Delight  :)
2 Frozen bananas
dash cinnamon
dash vanilla
top with walnuts

Blueberry Banana Whip

2 frozen bananas
2 handfuls fresh blueberries
blend about 1 minute
top with raw slivered almonds

                                 Simple ~ Nutritious ~ Delicious!   That's my mantra  :) 

Wishing everyone a Happy Memorial Day ~ Let's not forget what this holiday is really all about...

     "In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved." - Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

 Good Morning :)

 As I travel along my path of newfound health and happiness I'm learning so much about  myself and enjoying all that life has to offer. I have so much I want to pack into my life and still take the time for the simple little joys.
I'm trying to practice balance, but there's that part of me that just keeps adding to my list of things I want to experience ~ learn ~ do!!  It's quite a list  :)
 Lately I've been putting more effort into working out and firming up. It was too easy to be lax in that area during the colder months of wearing clothes that hide the need for a little extra attention in that area. Exercise has never been one of my favorite activities, but of course I know how important it is in the overall picture of health & wellbeing. So it's time to really focus on the next step of my journey!
 I started with some fun ways to get my body moving and find my motivation. Hula hooping is actually an excellent form of toning and it puts a smile on my face. Who would have thought! I've been dabbling in hooping now for a few years, mostly at festivals while listening to the music. Then I read about it's wonderful benefits and I've been practicing every day! I have a long way to go to really master the art of hooping but I sure am having fun along the next step of my journey :)

 Check out this great video by Hoopgirl..... Makes you want to run out and buy a hoop, doesn't it?

Monday, May 23, 2011

It was time!
 Although I've been giving away my larger size clothing by the bags full, I've barely put a dent in all that I've accumulated. Having gone from a size 20 at my highest weight, to the size 8 that I am today, you can only imagine what my closets look like! Not only are all the closets packed full, but the piles have been taking up lots of basement space and all corners of the bedroom too. Oh yea~ it was not just time, it was long overdue!

 For some reason I've been putting this off, the job of sorting through my closets and getting rid of all the old clothes. I'm not sure why it's been so hard to do,but I get pretty attached to my clothing regardless of my size.
 Also, in the past I always had that little thought in the back of my mind, What if I put the weight back on? But I know without a doubt, that will not be the case this time. The changes I've made are truly a lifestyle change this time. I think that concept alluded me until it actually happened for me. 

 There was no excuse this week ~ with a rainy week off from work and the warmer weather approaching, I just had to jump in and get sorting. So I put on my ipod,Widespread Panic blaring in my ears, and danced around the bedroom thinking ~ out with the old, in with the new...To say this project was a little overwhelming would be an understatement. Should I have a tag sale? Pass them along to family and friends? Give them all to Goodwill? Too many choices! At first I was trying everything on piece by piece, but soon I could tell that it really wasn't necessary. Basically nothing I owned except a few recent purchases fit me anymore.Finally getting that realization through  my head made the job a whole lot easier. That may sound silly, but I really think it took my head quite awhile to catch up to the changes in my body. Actually I think I'm still getting used to it :)

I'm happy to say that after a long day of sorting, bagging and organizing I feel happy and content with the end results.I have a little something for everyone and I found a few hidden treasures! I've always been an optimist ~ as I've shopped my way through the past couple years I bought items here and there that I could only dream I would actually wear. How exciting to find that now that dream is a reality  :)
Building a new wardrobe will be another job unto itself,  but it'll be a lot more fun for sure!

"Let go of the past and go for the future. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined"
Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What brings me joy?
 I really love simple foods. I used to eat more conventional meals, but now I find I really prefer lighter foods. Because the greens, fruits and veggies are so nutritionally dense, I fill up quickly and am easily satisfied
.And because I'm satisfying my nutritional needs with these foods, I no longer have cravings for sugar, starch or processed foods.
A friend recently asked me if I missed sitting down to a full dinner. I still enjoy a traditional dinner, if I'm out to eat or on a special occasion, but usually I"m really quite happy with just a little something I've put together. Today I've posted some photos of these foods that I enjoy regularly :)

Last week my son gave me a half watermelon and I've been enjoying it every day. He passed along this simple little way he likes to serve it and I must say it makes eating it more enjoyable. He scoops the watermelon out with an ice cream scoop! Doesn't it look like watermelon sorbet?   
What's for dinner?
I used to think that salads were boring! I can not tell you how much fun I now have with dressing up my greens. I've been using a nice mix of spring greens and baby lettuce lately and my newest additions to salads have been dandelion greens. Apple or pear slices are a great addition, along with some amazing California raisins a friend shared with me. These raisins are like none I've ever had.
Usually I throw in raw sunflower seeds and a few raw nuts of one sort or another. Sliced almonds are nice and so are walnuts now and then. I love chives or scallions, both of which I'm trying my hand at growing, and of course a salad is not a salad without a beautiful, ripe tomato. I do my own sprouting now too ~ what fun! No salad is complete without a generous handful of sprouts!
Here are just a few of the truly delicious and nutritious salads I've been enjoying!!  :)

Salad Dressing
For me ~ the dressing completes the salad !
Here is a recipe that has quickly become my favorite 
  It's simple to make and add such zest to salad 

Orange balsamic Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of one orange ( approx 1/4 cup)
salt & pepper to taste
Mix it up and Enjoy!

You can find this recipe and many other healthy salad dressing recipes at this site

  *~*   I love keeping it simple & simply enjoying my food   *~*

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Have you heard about the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15?

Fruits and veggies are a such a vital part of a healthy diet, but some contain high amounts of pesticide residue that can not be washed off in the kitchen sink Even scrubbing well will not clean these foods adequately.
Yet, not everyone can afford to buy organic all of the time. I recently learned of these 2 lists that have been really helpful to me when shopping for my produce. This information is provided by the Environmental Working Group.

The Dirty Dozen are the top 12 fruits and veggies that are the most contaminated with pesticides. The safest bet is to only buy organic when choosing these foods. I know organic foods are more expensive, but if you are able to buy only some items organic, these would be the foods to focus on! The amount of pesticide exposure is reduced from about 80% to 10% when going organic when purchasing these fruits and veggies. That's a significant reduction and has surely affected my choices when buying my produce.

The Clean 15 is a list of fruits and veggies that are the safest to buy conventionally in the supermarket. If it's difficult to spend the extra money on organic all the time, the Clean 15 are choices we can make that are safe and a little more affordable.

The Dirty Dozen
Bell peppers
Leafy Greens

The Clean 15
Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas
Sweet Potato
Honeydew Melon

Early on my journey of healthier eating, I made the decision that I'd purchase organic foods as much as possible for myself. Although I am spending a little more money on my groceries this past year, it's an investment in my health and well being that I am happy to make!

Health & Happiness

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'm sitting here with a cup of my favorite tea ~ jasmine green and licorice root ~ listening to the birds sing and feeling the sunshine on my face, thinking.... I am so blessed.... 
Life is good  :)

Yesterday I was feeling a little adventurous where my green smoothies are concerned.
Usually I stick with the one I love because no matter what else I make, I always yearn for my same kale apple ginger smoothie.
 This isn't really a huge change, but I know this is definitely a keeper for me!!
The swiss chard made it creamy, almost buttery tasting & the pear and ginger combo blended perfectly...
It was AWESOME  :)

Ginger Pear Smoothie
1 bunch of swiss chard
2 pears
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 cucumber
1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 cup water
Blend & enjoy!!

I also made a terrific mango banana breakfast pudding ~ it only took minutes to prepare and kept me full until lunch time easily.
This is my variation of a recipe from Raw Food Rehab ....  the recipe calls for peaches, but since I only had frozen mangos in the house I substituted them for the peaches. 
Mango Banana Breakfast Pudding
2 cups frozen mangos
1 ripe banana
4 pitted dates (soaked previously for 30 minutes to soften)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
slice the banana and save a little of both the mangos and banana for topping the pudding
blend everything until smooth ~ top with chopped pieces & enjoy!!  Delicious....

Even after all this time,
The sun never says to the earth,
"You owe me."
Look what happens with
A love like that.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spring has sprung! It's time for working in the yard and playing outside :)

Once again the weekend weather cooperated and it was time to focus on my garden to be. This is my first attempt at gardening and I think I mentioned earlier that I decided to do a Square Foot garden. Here's a little clip of the class I took a few weeks ago on it at Sport Hill Farm. Amie Hall, who's a certified teacher in this mode of gardening, taught the class. It was a lot of fun and by the time I left I was armed with enough tips to get my garden started :)
 Last weekend I bought the wood and soil and Saturday it was time to build! It was an easy process ~ here's where I am at so far....
Although I'm not quite ready to plant yet, I did buy some cool herbs that are in pots and soaking up the sunshine. I have lemongrass ~ parsley ~ dill ~ chives ~ basil ~ and even a stevia herb plant!

I also have some wheat berries sprouting! 
I fell in love with wheat grass not too long ago and ever since that first taste I knew I had to start growing my own. It tastes so earthy and sweet and it's so great for you!  It's full of chlorophyll, enzymes, vitamins & nutrients that are so beneficial for your overall health. It's often referred to as "liquid sunshine" ~ now that's my kind of drink :)

Here's a short little video on the concept of square foot gardening ~ just in case anyone is looking for an easy, compact way to garden...

Hope everyone's having a good time playing in the sunshine!!
Enjoy :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

 I DO love food! I always have and always will.... I can't tell you how amazing it is to really enjoy each and every bite of food now. No more counting calories or carbohydrate grams, points or whatever ~ .what freedom!
This is the first time in my life that I'm able to enjoy my meals without a hint of guilt. It's been interesting to see that small portions totally satisfy me now. If anything, I sometimes want to eat more than I need because the food tastes so good, but now I just listen to my body and when I feel full, I'm finished eating. I always know there's more to come at my next meal. The foods I eat now always keep me full & satisfied, I never feel deprived or hungry. To think it all started with those lovely green smoothies. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to follow the path I have, eliminating meat, dairy and most processed foods. Nor did I ever expect to love and thrive on all the nutritious, delicious foods I've added into my diet! It was just a natural progression that has provided me with the most amazing benefits of good health, weight loss and a total feeling of well being :)

Here are a just a few of the foods I've been enjoying lately... 

Recently I made the most beautiful salad. I wish I had taken a picture of it. It was just a simple spinach salad dressed up with sliced pear ~ sliced raw almonds ~ sprouts ~ pomegranate seeds and scallions. The tastes all blended so nicely and it was oh so pretty :)   

Look at this strawberry hemp mylkshake!

Unbelievably easy ~ scrumptious and nutritious!.... I got this recipe from Raw Food Rehab ~ where I am a member of the community. It's a wonderful site to join if you are looking to increase your raw food intake and find supportive, friendly people to interact with. There isn't a more inclusive site for recipes, info and support from people at all levels of their raw food adventures.

Strawberry Hemp Mylkshake
 add 1 pint of fresh strawberries or small bag of frozen strawberries to the hempmylk recipe below
 blend until frothy and creamy ~ Enjoy!

Hemp Mylk
1 cup hemp seeds
1 quart water or coconut water
1/4 cup coconut nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
 pinch sea salt

A few days ago I whipped up a batch of the most amazing Granola! I like this as a snack or as a cereal with my favorite nut mylk. The other day I had this for dinner with a few sliced strawberries on top. This and a cup of pomegranate green tea and I was in heaven :)

Granola Recipe
6 cups rolled oats
1 cup what germ
1 cup shredded coconut flakes
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup raw cashews
2 tbsp almond meal     **
2 tbsp sunflower meal  **
2 tbsp sesame meal      **
1 cup honey
1/2 cup safflower oil
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 325
Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl ~ except for raisins
combine honey and safflower oil
add to dry ingredients and mix until well blended

spread in shallow baking pan and cook for 10 minutes
add raisins & cook 5 more minutes
let cool and store in airtight container

I tweaked this just a little ~ I didn't have the almond, sunflower or sesame meal this time so I used flax meal instead...
I added in extra raisins and some dried cranberries too.... This granola is AMAZING !!
Although it has a lot of ingredients, don't let that put you off.... once you have them all together it's easy to put together and you'll have so much it you'll be enjoying this for quite awhile!

Enjoy :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

*~*  Happy May  *~*

 What a nice weekend I had. I'm always so thrilled to see the sunshine ~ I really come alive when this nicer weather arrives. It's not quite warm enough for me yet, but since that's just around the corner I'm content :)
There's just not enough time in the day to pack in all the things I want to do on the weekends. I've found that I have so much more energy than I've ever had in my life! More energy than I know what to do with sometimes. I wake up with the birds and go to bed probably later than I should. I guess I'm making up for lost time when I was less energetic.
It's such a great feeling to be enjoying life to the fullest ~ I feel so alive!
And I owe it all to the food I eat now. I'm not sure I would've believed this in the past ~ that eating a healthy nutritious diet would provide me with all the health and well being I always longed for!

  Saturday I took a ride up to Sport Hill Farm in Easton for the garden tour. I love that Easton is just a short drive away and yet it has such a country feel. The tour was great! Patti showed us around the farm, pointing out all the different crops, the market & greenhouses. Her enthusiasm for sharing her love of their farm and healthy, seasonal eating is contagious. I'm lucky to be a part of their Farm to Chef CSA program this year and encourage everyone to visit the farm and check out all they have to offer.
I love knowing where my greens & veggies are coming from and am so happy to buy from them whenever possible. Their asparagus is like none I've ever tasted ~ the fresh spring greens & bok choy are as pretty as they are delicious. And there is so much more yet to come!
 Take a peek at the farm on a little video montage below that I made on Saturday :)  

Also this weekend I had a surprise visit from a childhood friend I haven't seen in more years than I can believe. Yet we chatted comfortably, like little time had passed. She brought me such a sweet gift ~ a lettuce plant for my garden to be! That was so thoughtful! She's seen my posting about loving my greens and my endless chatter about the garden I'm starting, so when some lettuce plans were given to her she wanted to share the love! Speaking of my garden ~ I have my raised bed ready and a sunny spot scoped out so hopefully by next weekend the planting will begin!! 

Even after all this time,
The sun never says to the earth,
"You owe me."
Look what happens with
A love like that.


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