Gems, Jewels, Love and Life

Happy 2017! January 02 2017, 0 Comments

Yesterday, in keeping with our annual tradition, my husband & I brought out the art box and allowed our theme for the New Year to come to life on the canvas.
 
Once again, it proved to be a most interesting, insightful and powerful activity. Throughout the process, I paid close attention to the thoughts & feelings that motivated my decisions. Whether inspiration, judgement, fear, joy, comparison, abandon, they all contributed to the final creation.
"I should do it this/that way because Nate is/isn't..."
"These colors make me happy..."
"I don't know what I'm doing..."
"I love the look of this..."
"NOT what I was trying to do..."
"Now what? I'm stuck..."
"I don't care, this is fun!"
etc...
 
And that's just how Life unfolds every day. At least for me.
 
And the same way that I'm not crazy about the final result of our art project this year, I don't always like the outcome of my decisions. But ultimately I try to have fun with the process and remind myself often that I can always create something new.
AND sometimes the painting starts to grow on me the next morning...
.
  
 
The best New Year's wish I read yesterday was from my youngest cousin and I want to translate it for you: 
 
"What I wish for us all this year is to contribute every day to the creation of world that is filled with more justice, more equality, more openness and more tolerance. A world full of nuances and compromise. A world filled with Love." 
(Merci Jonathan!)
.

::::::::::: HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! ::::::::::::

 
* FYI, my theme for 2017 is "YES!" (in case you hadn't guessed it already), and Nate's is "LAUNCH".
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Be that person. December 16 2016, 0 Comments

Today I stumbled upon this video on Facebook and was deeply touched as well as incredibly inspired.

Loving and embracing my body has been a lifelong journey for me, from being too skinny as a child to having acne-prone skin during puberty. The curves of young adulthood, and now the midlife signs of "aging".

It's always so easy to see and appreciate the beauty in others, no matter the shape, size or age of their body, but somehow, it seems so challenging to give myself the same treatment. And it saddens me.

I've come a long way, but I find myself constantly working on this as there seems to always be new things to accept, embrace and love with this ever-changing physical body. 

This video, this woman, truly inspired me. So I had to share. While watching it I even had the thought "Perhaps I'll just allow my hair to go grey naturally..." (for the first time).

Perhaps someday I too will completely stop criticizing myself and simply celebrate every day I am given in this miraculous body. Changes and all.

One thing I know is that I will keep striving. #bethatperson

Thank you Rachel. Keep shining your bright light.


Lemon Blueberry Loaf (gluten-free and refined sugar free) August 23 2016, 0 Comments

Yes, this loaf really is as good as it looks... I could eat it all day, every day! It has a nice density, but is also light and simply delicious. Hope you enjoy it too.

 INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 ½ cups blanched almond flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour, sifted
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut oil (melted)
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • zest from 1 large lemon (or 1.5 small ones)
  • 1 and ½ cups fresh blueberries

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan (9x5) and cut a piece of parchment paper to line the bottom of pan.

Combine almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, and lemon zest until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until well incorporated. (it will have a strange, thick and seemingly lumpy texture - not smooth/creamy like regular batters)

Spread one third of the batter onto bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle ⅓ of the blueberries on top. Spread another third of the batter and another third of the blueberries. Repeat one more time with the remaining batter and berries.

Bake 32-37 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cover with foil if top begins to brown too much. Remove from oven and allow to cool. (NOTE: my oven tends to not run as hot, so I baked the loaf at 375 degrees for 35 minutes)

OPTIONAL: You can also add a glaze.

LEMON GLAZE

INGREDIENTS:

  • ⅓ cup coconut butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • hot water

DIRECTIONS:

While loaf cools, prepare the glaze by whisking together all of the glaze ingredients. Add hot water 1 tablespoon at a time until you have a glossy, liquidy, smooth consistency. Once loaf has cooled, pour glaze over top of loaf, letting it drips down the sides.

 

*Original recipe inspiration/credit: Katja from Savory Lotus (thank you, it's amazing!)

Triple Chocolate Mini Cream Cakes (vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free) November 20 2015, 0 Comments

Yes, I did say "triple chocolate"... Did I get your attention?

These no-cook, vegan, gluten-free, sugar free cakes are a divine (and healthy) indulgence. And in case you were wondering, they really are as delicious as they look.

Here's the recipe. Enjoy!

CRUST

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup pecan or almond meal (or any other nut meal you love)
  • 4 medium size medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup cacao powder (I use raw, organic)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until combined. You want the crust to slightly stick together. 

Grab your mini cheesecake pan (removable bottoms - see photo below) and scoop the crust mixture into it. Press down with your fingers to firmly place the crust into the bottom of the pan.  

CHOCOLATE FILLING

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups cashew pieces
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil (I use organic)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3/4 cup cacao powder (I use raw, organic)
  • 2.5 tsp Stevia (powder)
  • 2 tsp vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

Place the cashews into the food processor with maple syrup, vanilla, stevia and water. Blend for a little bit to get it creamy.

Next add in the cacao powder and coconut oil. Blend until nice & smooth. (scrape the sides a few times, then keep blending)

Once the chocolate filling is blended, scoop into the pan on top of the crust. Fill them to the top. Put in the refrigerator for a few hours (or freezer for an hour or two) and let the cakes set before you remove them from the pan.

Add topping of your choice. In this photo, I used raw, organic cacao nibs and a sprinkle of Lakanto sugar (natural, calorie-free sweetener made of high-purity Monk Fruit extract and erythriol).

Makes 12 mini cakes.

 

* Special thanks to Michelle & Lori for the original recipe (that I modified slightly). You can find more of their amazing healthy recipes on purelytwins.com


Chocolate-Banana Smoothie: Good & Good for you! June 15 2015, 0 Comments

Since I'm one of those people who could live on ice cream (and other frozen treats), this is one of my favorite ways to start the day.

But I'm also one of those people who chooses to eat very little sugar (other than fruit) because it feel so much better. Here's a super healthy and absolutely delicious alternative. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 frozen banana (cut in chunks)
  • 1 cup coconut unsweetened milk
  • 1 tbsp raw, organic Cacao powder
  • 1tbsp chia seeds
  • ¼ cup chopped raw walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ -1 tsp powdered Stevia (to taste)
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • Raw, organic Cacao nibs (for a little crunch)

PREPARATION 

Put all ingredients (except Cacao nibs) in a high speed blender and mix until smooth. Add ice if you prefer it thicker. (Makes about 12 oz)

Yes, it’s that easy!

I like to eat mine with a spoon (yep, like ice cream) so I make it nice & thick and add cacao nibs for added crunch. But you can make it a little more liquid, skip the nibs and drink it with a straw like a traditional smoothie.

ENJOY!


To The Next Lifeguard Stand May 13 2015, 1 Comment

When I lived in the South Bay, three doors from the sand, I loved to run on the beach. Not initially, as it was so much harder than the streets I was used to, but knowing my joints would be grateful, I slowly trained myself to enjoy it.

I ran 2-3 miles on the soft sand, usually every other day, and did that as my cardio exercise for several years. The funny thing is that even after doing it hundreds of times, the thought of the whole journey still felt overwhelming. Every single time. So overwhelming that I wanted to quit before I had even started.

So I had to do it in small increments, and allow myself the possibility of stopping anytime I needed to. Anytime I thought I’d had enough. The first step was to get dressed and put my shoes on. Once that was done it felt kind of silly not to at least make my way down to the sand. That was step two.

I then told myself I had to make it only to the first lifeguard stand and then I could stop and walk back home. But once I made it there I found I still had some energy in me so I would try and make it to the next lifeguard stand. And that process continued throughout my whole run. 90% of the time I ran the total length of the course I had set out to complete, but I always did it one lifeguard stand at a time, giving myself the possibility of turning around and walking home anytime I’d had enough.

This story came up yesterday in a conversation with a good friend. She was talking to me about a project she wants to embark on that will stretch her out of her comfort zone in a major way. She’s actually already signed up for it, but was questioning her decision. The thought of the whole journey left her feeling overwhelmed and confused. She wanted to back out even though a big part of her really wants to do this. 

Sharing my lifeguard stand tale made me realize how I tend to get stuck in the same pattern with pretty much everything in my life. I get excited about something, I see the whole picture and I have my eye on the final destination, on the ultimate result. Then I start looking at the road ahead and try to figure out every little step, with every possible outcome and likely alternatives. And then I shut down.

The initial excitement gets buried under the overwhelming task at hand and the fear of not measuring up to it. I end up either doing nothing at all or stopping after I just started. Not knowing the specifics of the next step, or whether I’ll have the strength/knowledge/confidence to make it to the one after that causes such a panic in me that I often don’t even “put my tennis shoes on”.

What I’ve been learning over the years, and still have to remind myself of on a daily basis, is that I can take just one step toward a goal without having to know every single inch of the road ahead. What’s even more powerful for me is to imagine that next step as my ultimate goal. Once I get there, I can celebrate & pat myself on the back, which usually generates fuel to start working on the next leg of the journey.

I’m realizing more and more that it’s actually impossible to know all the specific details of a whole, long path ahead. Too many variables. To bring it back to my running analogy, I might get a cramp, or meet a friend along the way and run their path with them for a while, or perhaps I’ll decide I’d rather go for a swim. And. That’s. Just. Life.

The more I trust myself, the more I trust that I’ll either have the right tools to get through the next step when it’s revealed, or that I’ll somehow develop them. I also trust that I will know if & when it’s just too much, and allow myself to stop and make a new decision.

Another one of my favorite analogies (on the same theme) is the one Jack Canfield uses in the movie “The Secret”. It illustrates so perfectly this concept of trust; of knowing that everything will be revealed in the right time, and that it’s not only unnecessary, but also impossible to have all the pieces in place before we set out on a course.

“Think of this. A car driving through the night, the headlights only go a hundred to two hundred feet forward. And you can make it all the way from California to New York driving, through the dark, because all you have to see is the next two hundred feet. And that’s how life tends to unfold before us. And if we just trust that the next two hundred feet will unfold after that, and the next two hundred after that, our life will keep unfolding. And it will eventually get you to the destination of whatever it is you truly want , because you want it.”

I’m not a marathon runner, I’m a sprinter. My mind is wired in a way that I can easily give my all for 100, 200, or even 400 meters, but the mere thought of 26 miles is pure torture. I’ve learned that about myself and I try to live my life in ways that support my nature.

I also know that having very high expectations of myself and come down hard on little ol' me when I fail to meet them is completely counter-productive. I tried it for many years. Bruised & battered, but still hanging out near the starting line, I decided to adopt a much gentler and compassionate approach. It works so much better for me.

See you at the next lifeguard stand!