1/15/18

Honest Resolutions for 2018

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Every year I compile a general list of resolutions: focus on priorities, find balance, spend quality time with family, implement clean eating and simple living. While these are real resolutions, they are very broad. This year I wanted to create an honest list of resolutions, well thought out goals that require my focus and dedication all year long.

Eat a Plant Based Diet.
This is a resolution that has carried over from last year. I always focus on incorporating as many fruits and vegetables into our diet as I can since we know that eating a variety of phytonutrients is key to a healthy life. This past year I noticed my meat intake gradually increasing and I can tell my body functions better when I eat mostly veggies, lots of greens and small amounts of meat. We are now focusing on plant based meals that contain a range of protein, vitamins and minerals and occasionally adding a small portion of meat.

Reduce My Carbon Footprint.
There are so many small steps that be taken to reduce our carbon footprint on this earth. For me, the biggest challenge is cutting out to-go coffee cups. Having a daily coffee while out and about is definitely my weakness, but I am trying my best to make my afternoon coffee at home and save those purchases for special occasions. Besides the waste I am producing from all those accumulated coffee cups, I am also consuming coffee that is not organic or fair-trade. Did you know, unlike conventional coffee, organic coffee does not promote deforestation. In fact, it aids in the conservation of wildlife, birds, vegetation, and the prevention of soil erosion and diseases.

We have also pledged to cut out plastic bags. I keep a large sack in my car that is filled with cloth bags of all different sizes and those are what I’ll use when I go shopping. Other plastics we are trying our best to avoid include: plastic straws, water bottles, produce bags, packaging and toys.

With the kids involved in so many activities, cutting back on driving isn’t much of a choice for me. But, I can be more conscious of my purchases and try my best to reduce and recycle.

Teach My Son to Keep a Food Journal.
I can’t even begin to stress how important a food journal is for anyone who suffers with IBD. I am constantly referring back to our journal from one, two and even three years ago. As a parent, I’m able to keep detailed records of the foods my son eats, his symptoms, exercise, doctor appointments and more. But I can’t write his food journal forever. It’s imperative that I teach him the skills to document his own journey with Crohn’s disease. He has started using the app My Fitness Pal to keep track of his calorie intake; it’s important he understand that if he burns so many calories in soccer than he needs to consume that amount in calories so he doesn’t run out of energy or struggle with weight gain, a concern for several kids with Crohn’s. In addition to the app, it’s great to have a hardcopy journal to reference. With the start of a new year, we are starting a new journal and my son is responsible for tracking his food this time around. I just ordered this journal from The Food Diary Co. and we can’t wait to get journaling.

Get My House in Order.
I can’t stand clutter and prefer a minimalistic life, yet it seems I can never ever achieve these goals. I feel like my home is always cluttered, it’s always a mess and if someone just popped on over I would be embarrassed by its current state. Please say I am not alone!

This is the year I am finally getting it together. We’re clearing the clutter, getting rid of everything we don’t need or use and becoming more conscious about the purchases we make. This past year has been very eye opening for me, I found myself wanting more and more. I think it’s fair to say that we live in a materialistic society that is drenched in consumerism. But my home doesn’t need any more material objects, our closets are filled, the storage is filled, the garage is filled. This is the year to focus on less in order to gain more. Rather than material objects, I would like to focus on adventure, travel and memory making.

I could certainly add to this list, but I figure this is a great place to start. What are some of your goals and resolutions for the New Year?

12/23/17

A Time To Focus

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“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”
Henry David Thoreau

Each holiday season, in the midst of the chaos and disorder, I force myself to sit down and write. Usually with just a couple days before Christmas, I find myself tucked away in the office, the door tightly closed, and a hot cup of coffee in hand. There is no topic in mind, no prompt and no direction. It’s a moment for myself, just a moment because that is all I can spare. It is a time to reflect. A time to focus. Depending on our lives at the moment, my writing takes shape. Slowly molding itself into a story, words become feelings and feelings transform into meaning. I have written about gratitude, I have written about a sense of wander and slowing down, I have written about embracing the season, a cliché topic but one that always hits home for everyone.

But this year, I keep silently repeating the words “A time to focus,” over and over. I find myself saying these words in the shower, in the laundry room, when I’m driving and most often when I am in the kitchen.

The holidays should be a time to focus, but what exactly should we be focusing on? Slowing down? Living in the moment? Embracing family?

Well, yes. The answer is yes to all of the above, but our focus should reach deeper and spread much further than just the holiday season. Our focus should be a lifestyle change; a change for the better. Over the past few months I have found myself unintentionally pulling away from social media. It seems with every click I make I find myself landing on a page that is perfectly curated. Our moments are no longer candid. Our lives are styled and edited to perfection. Just by scrolling through Instagram I have found myself wanting more; a new designer purse, more cloths, new jewelry, fashion-forward clothing for my children and oh so many decorations for my home. I’ve caught myself dreaming of remodeling our house; a bigger kitchen, more light, taller windows, white walls, trendy wall paper, unique tile. Pinterest and Instagram will do this to you.

But wait, where is my focus? Because surely if I am allowing myself to become distracted by these wants and material objects of desire then my vision is out of focus. I don’t want to stream our life online and I certainly don’t want to be a mother whose main accessory is her phone. In fact, I want the opposite. I want simplicity, I want less.

My focus for the holiday season, no for the year, is on finding meaning in the small joys of life. It’s on stepping away from the distractions that blind us; like social media, materialism, nonessential desires and negativity. It’s amazing how the negativity in our life can build up within ourselves and wear us down. I choose to be positive and surround myself with like-minded people, because frankly, who really has time and energy for pessimistic people.

At the end of the day, I look at what I have in life. I have an almost teenager (yikes, need I say more), a young son who is easily influenced by those around him and a young daughter that I hope makes her mark on the world and shatters some glass ceilings. As a parent, I have my work cut out for me, but I plan to dive in and mentor my children to the best of my ability. In order to succeed, I must focus. Focus on becoming a role model, focus on slowing down in a hectic society, focus on embracing family and surrounding my loved ones with positive people, focus on moments not materialism.

And most importantly, focus on values. Because a family with solid values is a strong family.

11/24/17

Embracing Childhood + Tea Collection Black Friday Sale

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"There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again."
Elizabeth Lawrence

Childhood. A time of innocence and freedom. A time to spread your wings and fly into each and every precious moment without a care in the world. A time to get lost in play and wrapped up in wonder. As an adult, don't you ever wish you could travel back in time to this place of purity, to this place that is free from the clutter of our daily lives, and just enjoy the simplicity? I know I can't toss all my responsibilities to the wayside, but I can gently nudge them out of my day for at least a small period of time. I can learn from my children. I can learn to live in the moment. I can learn to embrace imagination. I can learn to clear my mind and just be present.

Ever since my children were babies, I have fully supported Tea Collection, a globally inspired clothing line that produces well made, beautiful pieces. Their clothes are designed for all of life's adventures, big and small, and they are the kind of clothes kids love to wear. Honestly! Their styles are original and inventive yet fun and approachable. They are colorful and bold, playful and wearable. While I am a Tea Collection Ambassador, these opinions are completely my own. There are very few companies I have been loyal to for so long, but Tea is certainly one of them! Their clothing line is functional, wearable, fashionable and affordable. What else could a mom ask for?

As a Tea Ambassador, I'm excited to share with you Black Friday Sale! Shop dozens of outfits (Like these!) for just $15 and under at Tea’s Black Friday Sale, now through 11/25. You won't want to miss this opportunity to stock up on some beautiful pieces for your little one! And maybe even cross off some holiday shopping.

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*This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links.

11/20/17

Baked Brie with Cranberry Chutney + Almonds | SCD

Baked Brie with Cranberry Chutney
Baked Brie with Cranberry Chutney
Baked Brie with Cranberry Chutney
Baked Brie with Cranberry Chutney
Baked Brie with Cranberry Chutney
“Give me a good sharp knife and a good sharp cheese and I’m a happy man.”
George R.R. Martin

No holiday party is complete without an appetizer of brie cheese. Because this cheese is mild and versatile, it's the perfect choice for holiday cheese platters and pairs well with acidic dressings, like this cranberry chutney recipe below. To compliment the richness of this cheese, pair it with a creamy, subtly oaked Chardonnay and you will have a foolproof hors d'oeuvre to serve!

My kids always ask if they can eat the white rind of Brie cheese and the answer is yes, the rind is edible and is a matter of preference. While some people enjoy the earthy and nutty flavor it gives to the cheese, others, like my kids, prefer the creamy insides instead. While Brie cheese is allowed on the SCD diet (the Specific Carboyhyrate Diet) it is advised to eat it in moderation.

BAKED BRIE WITH CRANBERRY CHUTNEY
SCD, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free
yield: serves 6-10

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup water
12 ounces cranberries
1 Tbs orange juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 cup honey
1 wheel of Brie cheese
1/4 cup almond slivers
rosemary twigs for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries are throughly cooked.
3. Set aside to cool.
4. Place the Brie in a small skillet or round baking dish (I used this Brie baker)and top with the cranberry chutney.
5. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the Brie has started to melt.
6. Remove from the oven, garnish with slivered almonds and rosemary twigs.
7. Serve with these Gluten-Free Rosemary Crackers.

11/16/17

Gluten-Free Rosemary Crackers | SCD + Paleo

Gluten-Free Rosemary Crackers
Gluten-Free Rosemary Crackers
Gluten-Free Rosemary Crackers
Gluten-Free Rosemary Crackers

One of the most difficult challenges we face on the SCD diet (the Specific Carbohydrate Diet) is the absence of a good sourdough bread or a crisp cracker. I'm sure if you asked my son he could easily add to the list of foods we miss, but the occasional bread and crackers are high on my personal list. While we love our clean eating lifestyle, baking with almond flour just isn't the same, and my son knows it. While this space is dedicated to our journey with Crohn's disease, clean eating and healthy foods that heal I also need to be honest with you and with myself. I've tried several bread recipes and I always end up with the same conclusion; my son doesn't like bread made with almond flour. I've tried a couple cracker recipes and I got a shrug of the shoulder and a "They're okay," reaction. Fair enough. I know when to stop and put the flour away.

But here we are with the holidays right around the corner. Cucumbers make a great alternative to crackers for dips or charcuterie and cheese boards, but it would be nice to serve these artisan dishes with something of a bit more substance and texture. Almond flour makes a good base for SCD and paleo breads and crackers, but cutting it with another nut flour is always a great alternative. With these crackers I decided to try hazelnut flour which has a rich, buttery flavor and would compliment the almond flour and spices well. Hazelnuts are high in vitamins E and B. While vitamin E is important in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails, the B vitamins are important in proper cell function and allow our bodies to stay energized all day. Hazelnuts are also a rich source of potassium, calcium and magnesium.

ROSEMARY CRACKERS
SCD, Paleo, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Vegetarian
yield: 2 dozen crackers

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup hazelnut flour
1 cup almond flour
2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried rosemary

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until well combined.
2. Gather the dough into a ball and place between two pieces of parchment paper.
3. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle shape that is 1/8 inch in thickness.
4. Remove the top parchment and carefully transfer the bottom parchment to a baking sheet.
5. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the edges of the dough to make straight edges and then score the dough into a grid so it is made up of several small squares.
6. Bake the crackers at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven. Make sure they are nice and brown but not burnt.
7. Remove and let cool. Break the crackers into squares and store in an airtight container for up to a week.