Saturday, December 29, 2012
Let's ring in the New Year right.
Let's grab our favorite beverage (I highly recommend this ginger spritzer or a cranberry rosemary refresher), our coziest blanket, and a handful of salty snacks. Let's curl up watching a good movie that makes us cry... play a board game with friends and have so much fun laughing that it hurts... or perhaps spend the evening batting a pretend mouse around with some felines. There are lots of great ways to celebrate the New Year; just don't forget the snacks.
Wishing you health and happiness in 2013!
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Now that we're winding down the year, I have to get a little personal here and share some big things that have come up for me this year.
This year was crazy. In 2012, I launched an incredible health coaching business, worked with some of the most amazing clients I have ever known, and had monumental personal growth as I continually challenged myself as an entrepreneur, coach, food blogger, health writer, and wellness advocate. In addition to running my health coaching business full-time, this year I somehow managed to continue working full-time at a nonprofit organization that I love and write this blog, which is so very near to my heart. In all honesty when I look back at it, this year kicked my butt.
A couple of months ago, some things shifted in my life and something just wasn't feeling right. When I sat down to map out my 2013 business priorities and strategies, I realized that I need to make some shifts around my business and it boiled down to some really tough decisions. I began to see that things in my life were really out of alignment. I then realized that I need to quit some big projects and walk away from a lot of things I had created this year.
Ooh man. That was hard to stomach.
Friday, December 21, 2012
When I was growing up, gravy was always one of my favorite parts of holiday meals. I was one of those people who would cover their entire plate in gravy if they could. I didn’t even care if it touched the cranberry sauce.
Once I went vegetarian and then vegan, gravy was one of the things that I missed most at the holidays. Until, of course, I discovered that you can make a fabulous gravy with mushrooms that (dare I say it?) tastes even better than the original.
With Christmas quickly approaching, I have been experimenting with different mushroom gravy recipes and have come to love this one the best. It’s gluten-free and vegan, which means it can be enjoyed by everyone at your table this holiday season.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
To make matters worse, I am constantly surrounded by sugary treats and heavy meals. I don't know about you, by my body is rebelling. Even looking at another holiday cookie makes me feel a little ill. I think it's time to get back to the basics and get some more veggies into my diet, snap!
In planning my holiday menu, I've been looking for ways to "lighten up" some traditional favorites. There is nothing wrong with mashed potatoes, but I've recently discovered this mock version that I love even more than the original. Plus, it only involves 4 ingredients and can be made in under 15 minutes. Yes, please!
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Potlucks are always the answer during the holidays. This is already a crazy time of year and planning a holiday party can be stressful enough without having to worry about feeding a large group of people. I am a big fan of potlucks, but it can be tough to find a dish that can transport well, tastes okay hot or cold, and will feed a variety of people with different eating styles.
If you live in Seattle, you usually need to plan a dish that can satisfy meat-eaters, vegetarians, vegans, kids, gluten-free folks, and people with food allergies alike. In the past, lentil loaf was always my go-to potluck item. But lately, I've been eating too much lentil loaf and it was time for something new. Enter quinoa stuffing.
This dish is basically a hearty quinoa salad with the comforting flavors of stuffing and, even better, it fits all the requirements for a potluck. Protein-packed and healthy without "tasting healthy"? Check. Gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, and satisfying for the carnivores? Check. Mushroom-free for picky eating kids? Check. Now go forth and potluck!
Monday, December 17, 2012
A few weeks ago I was contacted by Swiss Diamond to do a product review of their cookware. Having never previously heard of their brand, or of cookware made with diamonds for that matter, I was intrigued. What makes Swiss Diamond cookware unique is that it features a patented nonstick cooking surface reinforced with real diamond crystals, making it extremely durable. The nonstick coating makes it easy to prepare food (without oil!) and makes clean-up quick and easy.
Since I've been making attempts to move away from Teflon and nonstick cookware in our kitchen due to health and environmental reasons, I was a little nervous about the nonstick surface. After doing some more research, I learned that most of the concerns about the health and environmental impacts of Teflon and nonstick surfaces have to do with PFOA, which is a chemical used in the manufacturing of nonstick cookware. However, Swiss Diamond does not use the namebrand Teflon coating or PFOA in their nonstick coating. And, since the diamond surface conducts heat much better, the pans can be used at a lower heat than most nonstick pans.
Friday, December 14, 2012
A lot of people in my life have been asking for cookbook suggestions lately. Do you have a cookbook you'd recommend for people trying to eat less dairy? What do I buy for someone who's gluten-free? Is there a vegan cookbook that has great recipes for families? What's the best cookbook for someone trying to eat healthier? Here are my top eight favorite cookbooks that I would recommend to anyone looking give the gift of good food or grow their own collection!
Julie Morris' cookbook features over 100 recipes with different superfoods including chia seeds, goji berries, cacao, algae, flaxseeds, quinoa, and sea vegetables. This cookbook is a really fun one for someone looking to increase the healthfulness of everyday recipes and add new foods to their diet. (plant-based/vegan and gluten-free)
2. Clean Food, Revised Edition: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source by Terry Walters
Clean Food was one of the first cookbooks I bought and I've used it almost every week in my kitchen since. Terry Walters' recipes are beautiful, simple, and delicious. I rarely have to adapt Terry's recipes because they all involve ingredients I actually use and feel good about. If you are looking for an all-around fabulous cookbook, this one is a wonderful and would be perfect for any home chef. (plant-based/vegan and gluten-free)
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
This time of year is madness. Complete madness. Like utter meltdown madness.
I still haven't bought my Christmas cards. I'm not even talking about decorating a tree. And I really can't handle the thought of venturing through a packed department store right now for any last-minute gifts.
The solution? Online shopping. (And, what did we do before Amazon.com?)
Here are my favorite holiday gifts under $50 - all of which can be ordered online!
Saturday, December 8, 2012
I have been told by numerous people that the life of a food blogger seems really glamorous. I think sometimes when we see a picture of a beautiful dish, we imagine the chef/photographer standing in their kitchen, leisurely making a delicious meal about to be served to their family, while casually stopping to snap a photograph or two. As a food blogger, I can tell you that this is rarely how it happens. At least, not in my house.
Instead, here's the scene: a rainy Saturday morning. At home, alone, with two crazy cats. The best light in my house is in my living room, with giant windows that face a main road. There I am, still in my pajamas, standing on a stool above a table to get the best angle as people walk by and shoot me puzzled looks.
Randomly a rogue cranberry falls from the table, inspiring one of my cats to bat it around the living room with all his might. As I'm trying to balance on a stool, ignore the passerbys, and get a decent shot, I knock over the martini glass and spill cranberry juice across my living room. By now both of my cats are engaged in a cranberry-chasing battle and all of this running has managed to make one of them lose his lunch. Clean-up on aisle five, please?
Nevertheless, I managed to get a decent photograph of an amazing drink that you need to try this holiday season. Whether you leisurely enjoy this at a beautiful dinner with your loved ones, or simply use it as a reward for cat clean-up duty, I promise that it will energize your taste buds while flooding your body with nutrients.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
The holidays are now upon us and the next thing I know, I'll be watching the ball drop at midnight. Each year I have fabulous intentions of creating homemade gifts from my kitchen for friends and family, but somehow the time slips by and my good intentions rarely make it to reality.
This year is different. This year I am committed. And this year I am starting early. As in, now!
If you've been wanting to get into the spirit of homemade gifts, I have just the thing: DIY lavender bath salts. These bath salts were inspired by my trip to the Sequim Lavender Festival this past summer. I'm still working through my incredible stash of dried lavender and essential oil and needed to come up with a creative way to use up the rest of it. Bath salts to the rescue!
Monday, December 3, 2012
I made this spiced orange cranberry sauce this year for Thanksgiving and have been indulging myself every day since. I've had this sauce over lentils, spread this on toast, and eaten it after dinner for dessert. If this keeps up, by New Years you might have to send me to cranberry rehab.
In my defense, it's important for you to know that this isn't any ordinary cranberry sauce. This one isn't overly sweet or loaded with refined white sugars like the typical canned cranberry sauce of my youth. Instead, it is sweetened with a few dates and spiced up with ginger, fresh oranges, and zest.