Sweet and Sour Chicken

What makes good co-workers great? Ones that make you feel welcome, that are patient and kind, help keep you accountable and…share great recipes!

I have always been fortunate to work with people that know how to hold tasty potlucks and share their recipes. This can come with challenges, like over eating or unhealthy options. But food is what holds people together! Really! It does!

Enjoy this “Very Yummy” recipe!

Green Bean recipe is found here

The Power of Clean Eating

Bless Facebook Memories for reminding me that 4 years ago I was at my healthiest with food and workouts since before children. My kids are 7.5 and almost 6. With that being said I was not at my healthiest mentally. At that time I fixated on food and exercise because I was unhappy, unsettled and trying to figure out how to be “me” again. It felt like I was trying to fit a square block into a round hole. Little did I know I had to change my expectations on what “me” looked like and felt like. I had children that relied on me. I had a husband to love. Life was not like it was when I was living alone.

That lifestyle of eating clean and in proportion soon lost its power. I slid back into emotional eating when stressed. I lacked being present when eating meals and had seconds even if I wasn’t hungry. Now, I have never been overweight. A person doesn’t need to be overweight or underweight to have a problem with food. It has been a coping mechanism for me. Since turning 30, overeating has affected my body like it didn’t before. Weight gain comes quicker, sluggish feelings make their home in my body and mentally I feel defeated.

This year, like many years before I have set goals for being present when I am eating, eat less snacks, and eat clean. 2020 is off to a good start. It is off to a good start because I have been practicing better habits since November.

I followed Dr. Alejandro Junger’s Clean 7 cleanse last week. Let me define follow: I followed this cleanse about 80-85% for what it was. The smoothie recipes were made for two servings and I ate them as one. The days that it called for tulsi tea for a meal I made a turmeric latte with almond milk. There was the occasional bite of spaghetti or a few almonds, but I tried really hard to curve the cravings. One night I was immensely craving something salty. I traded my sweet smoothie for a bowl of homemade mushroom stew (a boat load of sautéd mushrooms and broth). It hit the spot and made me feel so much stronger.

This cleanse helped bring my mindset to where it needs to be. I re-downloaded the Clean Eats and Clean books, also by Dr. Alejandro Junger, onto my Nook. I had another good week of clean eating and rejuvenating feelings. With the help of my goals, my accountability group at work and this blog, I hope that my strength carries on. I am not perfect. I will slip. I will have girl weekends where I mindfully select to eat unhealthy foods. I need to remind myself that it is ok. The next day is new day and I will get back onto the right track.

2020 Vision

Today the date is January 12, 2020. It has been 12 days of reflecting on what my vision is for 2020. I loved last year how I had laid out goals for different passions within my life. Reading, art, moving, self empowerment and the 7 challenge. Why did I love ALL of those goals? They all were focused around things that I love. Even though I tried to scale down my monthly goals, there were a lot of goals each month. I didn’t achieve all of them, and they even tapered off as the year went on. I learned to be ok with that. I learned a lot about myself in 2019. I learned about why some of those goals were more important and why some were not. This year, I think it has to be less. Less in a way that may turn into more. More meaningful that is.

I decided to go with a phrase this year.

BE PRESENT.

Being present should rein in all of the important things that I need to focus on. I am hoping this will help strengthen the person I am and strive to be. The person that makes me strong for those that around me. God. Family. Friends. Co-workers.

Here are the things I want to focus on and more BE PRESENT with:
Faith

Family

Food

Workouts

Strengths

BE present IN FAITH

Daily reading of the Bible

Monthly Bible study

No judgement of people

BE present WITH FAMILY

Make eye contact

Less multitasking

More hugs

More silly times

More freedom

BE present WITH FOOD

Healthy food

Proportion

Intermittent fasting

Ayurveda practices

MyFitnessPal app

Be present WITH WORKOUTS

Cardio that is good for me

Weight training that strengthens m back

30 minutes a day/ 5 x a week

10,000 steps a day

Be present WITH STRENGTHS

Discipline

Input

Relator

Responsibility

Intellection

Learner

Belief

Developer

Arranger

Individualizations

2019 brought a lot of joy back into my life. It created space to be ok with what is important to me. 2020 is going to be a good year.

Thai Carrot Soup

Last weekend I started to use up the many pounds of carrots we were blessed to have out of our garden. Many things did not grow well, or a critter got to them, however, the carrots were plentiful. I could not decide which soup to try first, so of course what did I do? Have a small bowl of both. By far the Creamy Thai Carrot Soup with Basil was the winner for me. This came from the Minimalist Baker. The bottom soup was a Roasted Carrot Soup. It tasted awfully close to the Slow Roasted Tomato Soup I make from Gwyneth Paltrow which has remained one of my absolute favorite recipes from her. Please enjoy the unique taste from the Minimalist Baker.

Knoephla Soup

Knoephla (pronounced neh-fla) soup is a recipe I grew up on. My mom can whip it up without a recipe. In fact, When I asked her for a recipe years ago, she could not even give me one. She just throws random amounts of ingredients into a pot. Once I tried to write it down as she made it. Then I found I could not make the dumplings from scratch like she does. It is truly an art, and store bought dumplings are just not the same. It is quite disappointing when I can not carry on a tradition like this. This being said, I can mimic the scent of the butter cooking the onions, carrots and celery. Win for me!

I was excited to see Molly Yeh put her Knoephla Soup recipe in her cookbook, Molly on the Range. The ingredients are slightly different than the one my mom makes. I was excited to put her recipe to the test. I would say it passed. It is almost as good as my mom’s. Molly just can’t duplicate the love my mom puts into hers. *smile*

Chicken Paprikash

Is it fall or winter? This weekend it happens to be both. We have reached our peak fall colors. Vibrant orange and gold surrounds us in all directions in Northern Minnesota. However, snow has fallen on and off for the last 24 hours. As the temperatures drop again this evening it is accumulating on the ground. No matter how pretty it is, it’s too early if you ask most of us!

I visited Just Dandy this afternoon for one of their Sip and Shop events. Of course I left with one of her wonderful smelling lotions and some scented melting wax. Wildflower Farm had her baked goodies there for sale. I picked up a loaf of her Roasted Garlic Bread which was the perfect addition to our Chicken Paprikash dinner. The recipe was out of Molly Yeh’s cookbook, Molly on the Range. I followed her recipe with a couple of changes. Rather than cooking it on the stove I dumped all the ingredients into a crock pot, minus the cream, and let it cook all afternoon. Once the chicken was cooked through I shredded it and placed it on top of *egg noodles. This is definitely a fall-ish recipe and one I will make again. After all, it was Stella approved!

*Egg noodles cooked in chicken broth. Once cooked I added some onion powder and Parmesan cheese.

Staying Warm in the Fall

A group of us got together last weekend at the Holiday Inn in Baxter, MN. 3 mommas and 5 littles (who are not really little any longer). We crammed ourselves into a suite and spent 24 hours at the fun indoor water park. Even the adults had a grand time screaming down the slides and hanging out in the “river”. The girls and I can not wait to go back with T. We were all exhausted by the end of the evening. I think we all crashed by 10:00 that evening.

We brought an abundance of veggies to snack on with dip and hummus. We actually did a number on those veggies prior to eating pizza and dessert *smile* however we still had plenty of leftover carrots and celery. With the temperatures dipping low the last couple of weeks I have been craving soup. I love my Vitamix in the summer for breakfast and protein smoothies, but when fall creeps in, I am all about the frothy soups it can whip up in seconds. The Vitamix recipes call for blending the ingredients for at least 7 minutes as it will heat the soup to a temp that you would want to eat soup at. However, I purée the ingredients and then transfer them over to a kettle and simmer on the stove.

Here is a spin on the Vitamix Cream of Celery Soup

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 of a small onion

4 cups chopped celery

1/3 cup chopped carrot

1 cooked sweet potato

1 garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Half and half

Direction:

Place all ingredients in Vitamix, blend until puréed. Simmer over low heat until desired temperature is reached.

Gingered Carrot Orange Soup is amazing too! And check out the color, how beautiful is that?

May Goals 2019

It’s been awhile since I wrote a post. That doesn’t mean I have not been reflecting though! What has come always from the last month? Positive change is not easy. I have known this and have had it in the back of my mind for the last few years but goodness has it been at the forefront lately. Whether it is personal or business, the mind or the soul, or the relationships we have with those that we live near and dear to everyday.

I had the opportunity to be in leadership class for the past nine months through Sanford. It was titled Leading for Results. Most of us thought it would be how to direct staff and projects to get better results. The class was aimed at personal development. Making us stronger individuals would make us better leaders. Better leaders make our teams better. The class fit perfectly with what I was trying to do. It taught me new things. It confirmed what I had been reading. Some of the teachings I had already implemented. Some got moved up on my list of priorities. Some were ideas I had not heard of and were added to my list. The great thing about this class was I could apply these teachings to my personal life.

I took a break from my monthly goals. It was much needed. I was overwhelmed by them which tells me I need to evaluate them. I want to do too much. I have always been that way. Good things take time!

May did bring a lot of accomplishments:

◦ Work trip to San Diego and attended a Ritz Carlton workshop

◦ Read 4 Nora Roberts books

◦ Joined Weight Watchers and am seeing slow progress (strong and fit is what I am aiming for- moderation)

◦ Presented a presentation for Leading for Results

◦ I am becoming a better version of the wife I aim to be

◦ Working out 5-7 days a week

◦ Trying new recipes

I joined Weight Watchers

(Almost) every morning as I sit down with my Start Journal (thanks Rachel Hollis) I list out my 10 goals.

One of them is to be 10 lbs lighter.

One of them is to be a healthy eater.

For as long as I can remember I could eat what I wanted to and stay the weight I wanted to. I was highly active in dance through my freshman year of college. I then sought out running and bought memberships to gyms. I love to workout. Til this day I would call it a passion. However. More often than before I fall out of sync. More often than before it’s not a high intensity workout. I try though. I keep trying. That is important.

The scale is not budging. Monday morning as I couldn’t sleep I pondered what to do. What do I have to do to make the scale budge? I googled options and I joined Weight Watchers.

Once I returned home from a work trip I was all in. I have to be. Why am I doing this? Why am I not accepting the scale’s numbers? I know I can be healthier. I know I can be stronger. I know this will help me feel emotionally better. I know this will set an example. I am needing accountability. I am needing a system. Here is to accomplishing a goal.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess: Food

The first month had to be food, didn’t it? Food is my weakness. If you read Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7, you will be introduced to her experiment against excess. She took 7 foods and only ate those 7 foods for the whole month. This intrigued me. I thought, what 7 foods would I eat? Pizza. Pizza. Pizza. Wait! I just turned into my 4 year old daughter. She excels at this experiment better than I can! I started to contemplate only eating 7 certain meals throughout the month for breakfast and lunch and then eat dinners based around items we had in the home that needed to get eaten before they expired- which were a lot of items! This sounded like a plan I could handle until the first week was done *sigh* Food is my weakness. The goals that were set for me for the month of January were at the front of my brain each morning as I got ready for the day. Read 2 books, draw 4 pages in my sketchbook, exercise 5 days a week. Anxiety started to build. Ok, tone this one down a notch. Focus on making meals that got rid of items in the home, focus on not buying a bunch of extra things that would end up sitting in the closet for months. Ok, that plan I could handle. *charge on*

Coffee went away for the month. Coffee is part of my “thing”, or more so coffee shops, is part of my “thing”. After all, the blog has coffee as part of its name. Coffee was not something I could choke down for the longest time. Tea was my love. Over the course of the last few years, I went from Pumpkin Spice Latte queen, to Cafe Miel, to flavored coffee with a “dash” of coconut vanilla creamer. The warmth is what draws a moan out of my mouth as I take my first sip each morning. Tea can do that too. A cabinet full of tea needed to be reintroduced to me. Coffee went away. It made me sad each morning for the first week. After that, I looked forward to my cup of tea with honey. Welcome back first love! Today is February 2nd. It was my first opportunity to have a coffee at the Target Starbucks. Guess what? I went with the Mint Citrus tea. Sorry, coffee, you have some competition!

The kids didn’t notice anything different during the month of January. Except that we made them try a few different recipes as we tried to get rid of canned pumpkin, tomato soup and cream of mushroom soup. We had a couple of successes and a couple of flops!

Did I have any monumental take aways from this challenge of getting rid of excess food? I didn’t buy things just because they were on sale. I am certain our checking account saw a slight drop in food costs. I think I will start each weekend with reviewing what we have in our closet and cabinets prior to deciding on a weekly menu.

A few of my favorite quotes Jen had in her first chapter on Food:

“You always have to be doing something, don’t you” p. 28. This resinated with me. I am always trying something out and challenging myself.

“Tell me about the world before. What was it like?” “We didn’t even know what was precious.” “We threw away things that people would kill for today.” – The Book of Eli p.22

“I am hungry” p. 43

Here are the following recipes that were a hit in our home!

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins (not healthy but oh so yummy- we made these 2 times!)

Ingredients

2.5 cups flour

0.5 cup oats

4 t pumpkin spice

2 t baking soda

1 t baking powder

1 t salt

1.5 cups pumpkin purée

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil

0.5 cup apple sauce

3 eggs

1 t vanilla

Directions

Set oven to 350 degrees

Makes 18 muffins

Bake 25-30 minutes

Combine flour, oats, spice, baking soda and powder, salt. Set aside.

In another bowl whisk purée, sugars, oil, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla.

Stir together dry and wet ingredients.

Pour into muffin tins (sprayed or paper)

Streusel Topping:

0.5 cup brown sugar, 2 T melted butter, 2 T oats, 2 T flour. Mix and place small amounts on each muffin before putting in

Creamy Ranch Pork Chops and Rice from Campbell’s (to use Cream of Mushroom soup)

Beef and Broccoli (to get rid of tomato soup)

The Best Chili You Will Ever Taste (to get rid of diced tomatoes, tomato paste 4 cans of kidney beans *yes, we had that many*)

Couscous salad got rid of some couscous, slivered almonds and craisins