Saturday, November 29, 2014

Giving Thanks and Thanksgiving

For many of us, this holiday represents many memories of all that we are thankful for in our lives - a time to truly reflect upon our blessings. Interestingly, my younger daughter, Ashley, has always made sure that Thanksgiving maintained its character of being an important holiday needing its place BEFORE beginning the Christmas commercialism. She even tweeted and snap-chatted about how disgusting it was to have stores opening at 6pm on Thanksgiving! Go Ash! For our family, this was a time to create new traditions, keeping the importance of fond memories in tact with some replication. In fact, my older daughter, Lindsay, chose to be with our family instead of her boyfriend's once again, given the sensitivity of losing her Gram last year, my move from our home of over 22 years, and the Summer/Fall challenges with my health. For me, I want my girls to choose what they want and need for themselves because this was not how I grew up. While I so appreciate many of the ways that my parents raised me, as for all of us, there are blessings and curses! Being able to choose was not an option, thus I never truly learned what I want, need, nor what really makes me tick - not until very recently. This holiday was beautiful in so many ways. I prepared the traditional meal, as you will see in Lindsay's plate - organic chicken (but, we'll pretend that it is turkey!), bread stuffing (Mom's recipe with a few edits!), oven roasted butternut squash and turnip (a little different from the mashed, but delicious!), green beans almondine, homemade cranberry sauce (sweetened with stevia instead of sugar)and real gravy from the pan-drippings. We enjoyed our meal, talked, reminisced and chose to go the new Hunger Games movie since Dad was sleeping over and he loves movies. I walked with Tammie for some fresh air and to feel the calm energy of the ocean - one of my daily grounding rituals. The interesting thing is that so many opt out of the exercise piece on this day, and yet, the physical activity offers a re-set, a grounding and an opportunity to digest - in more ways than one. We digest our food physically and we digest our emotions with our breath and being in touch with nature. It was so very special to share this time with my Dad and my girls and I remain thankful for the love that we share. I also thank my Mom, who is smiling down on us all as she shares her spirit with us. Thank you Mom! With love and gratitude, Julie

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Traditional Bread Stuffing and Fond Memories

Over the past few weeks, as I am preparing the traditional Thanksgiving meal for my family, I have been reminiscing about my Mom's "best in the world" bread stuffing! I also thought about how my best friend, Jeanne (we even talked about it today!), would come over on Thanksgiving evening in order to have some of Mom's stuffing and apple pie. I can even remember the pan she cooked it in. Of course, I've been tinkering in my head how to reproduce this gem with many fewer carbs and calories, while still keeping the flavor and texture. Not always an easy task, but one of my fun, creative activities! While Mom would saute the onion and celery in a whole stick of butter until translucent, I have chosen to cut some of the fat with chicken broth - one of my best kept secrets! My girls and my Dad will be here for the day and overnight, so that we can keep some of the tradition in tact, given that so much has changed over this year. First of all, Mom passed away last Fall, I moved mid-winter and landed in the hospital for a good part of the summer. You know what, we have so much to be grateful for and I, for one, am very excited to bring the old and the new together. Please enjoy the Bread Stuffing recipes and if you prefer, good old, regular (GMO fortified!) bread, enjoy - it is only one day of the year. With Blessings and Gratitude, Julie Gluten-Free Bread Stuffing 1 loaf gf bread, cubed and dried or lightly toasted 300 for 5-7 minutes ¼ cup butter melted ½ cup chicken broth ½ cup each: chopped onion and celery 1 Tbl Bell’s Poultry Seasoning ½ tsp salt, pepper to taste Paleo Bread Stuffing 1 loaf paleo bread, cubed and dried or lightly toasted 300 for 5-7 minutes ¼ cup butter, melted 1/3-1/2 cup chicken broth ½ cup each: chopped onion and celery 1 Tbl Bell’s Poultry Seasoning ½ tsp xanthan gum ½ tsp salt, pepper to taste Directions: Saute onion and celery in butter. Add chicken broth Mix bread cubes with dry ingredients Knead all ingredients lightly to as not to pack down too tightly Bake 375 to warm and crisp approximately 20-30 minutes

Sunday, November 16, 2014

I Don’t Care: A Protective Force

For years I recall saying that very phrase, “I don’t care”. I used it about politics, about organic foods back in the 80’s, about finance and investing. It all felt too daunting and overwhelming, and so I kept my world simple and only learned about those things that I could master. Making mistakes was not allowed! When I look back, there were good reasons for my limited thinking. Politics involved fighting, war, understanding the chain of command. Organic foods were for the “yuppies” or young, rich folk (now I am really dating myself!) and finance/investing was about intricate mathematical formulas that I did not understand, as well as being for the rich and certainly not me! I really get it now and the fact is, I really do care! My folks portrayed the world as an unsafe place, thus watching news or learning about political viewpoints and disagreement really made me feel unsettled. While there was an organic movement in the 70’s and 80’s, my upbringing and traditional dietetics education did not support this style of eating, seemingly only for the well to do and hippie groups. And finally, the world of money was a volatile subject in my home. As an only child, my folks did anything to make sure that I was not spoiled and they fought about money quite a bit. I was taught to be frugal, not self-indulgent and was also not allowed to have a bank account until I left home as a young adult. This is not about blame – my folks wanted to protect me from the world as they saw it. I truly get it, and yet, I have had many opportunities especially in my own adult life, to transform my belief system. I am now quite passionate about the political stance on healthcare, about big industry and how it often suppresses the individual folks working to make the world a better place. I truly believe in organic and non-GMO food availability and education for the public to make informed choices for themselves and their families. And I am in a place where I truly desire financial abundance in order to spread my message of “whole health and healing” to a larger audience. Ironically, as I write this blog, I am sitting in a hotel room with my former boss, attending the Rule Number One seminar from Phil Town, a revolutionary investor and pioneer in this education. It was not quite 6 weeks ago when she asked me to attend on a scholarship and I had no clue what this would be about other than to learn some basic aspects of investing in companies aligns with ones’ values. My best examples would be Whole Foods – a company committed to healthy food, employee and customer satisfaction and a CEO who is passionate about health and “his people”; and Chipotle – a restaurant dedicated to local and organic food, again educating the public and employees about sustainable farming and living practices. While the “math piece” will take a while to learn and understand, the concept of helping to create a world that aligns with my core values based on my investments, really excites me! This paradigm shift in money is so similar to the paradigm shift that I am passionate about in healthcare. The bottom line is that it is important to have full disclosure and education in order to make decisions for oneself that align with one’s values. Take your past, learn from it, choose to live an empowered life and care! With passion, Julie

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Another Fall Crock Pot Invention: Pork Balsamic

The crisp Fall air brings about interest in warm foods. Last weekend, my older daughter, who is into the "organic lifestyle" with me, came for dinner and a girls' overnight. I decided upon a theme using the delicious grass-fed pork from the Farmer's Market and wanted to invent my own crock pot brine. For slow cooking, broth, an acid and usually some spices and/or herbs are used for flavor. The acid, a vinegar, lemon juice, wine or tomato base, is used to tenderize tough meat fibers, leaving a succulent meat that is easy to chew. I wanted to have as accompaniments, roasted butternut squash with toasted pecans, laced with sage and thyme, and a salad with goat cheese and a balsamic dressing that I create using dijon mustard, oil, balasamic and a little water. Pork: Trim the meat of fat, cut into large chunks and place in crock pot Mix together - 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbl maple syrup, dash or red pepper flakes, dash of garlic powder Pour over meat and cook on high, 2 1/2-3 hours Butternut Squash: Cube squash and toss with 2 tsp sesame oil (can use grapeseed, but I am on a sesame kick these days) Place in roasting pan and sprinkle with dried sage and thyme (or use fresh if you have it) and some coarse salt (salt helps the crisping/browning reaction) Roast 25-30 minutes turning to brown Salad Dressing: 3 Tbl balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbl sesame oil, 1 Tbl water, 1 Tbl dijon mustard - whisk together Toast pecans at 350 for about 5 minutes and crumble over squash and salad Enjoy this delicious hearty and healthy dish, loaded with protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Pork, in particular, is an excellent source of B12 and iron. Hearty, healthy Fall, Julie

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Shades Of Brown

As I did my daily walk with Tammie (my little shih-poo), I noticed the beautiful shades of brown, yes brown, of the leaves on the trees and those which had fallen. I was immediately drawn to my shamanic meeting a few years ago, as well as my recent interest in using colors for meditation and focus. Brown bear was introduced to me about 2 1/2 years ago, after making my alternative cancer therapy trip to Germany. The wise counselor, Hannelore, suggested that I connect with a shaman upon my return. I had been interested in the idea since we have a fair amount of american indian in our blood, some of uncles looking close to right off the reservation! I had a 3 1/2 hour session with a delightful shaman who re-introduced me to the power of rocks, feathers, sticks and power animals or animals that come into our lives to represent areas that we may need some assistance from. She quickly identified "brown bear" for me and as I review the qualities of bear in general, it makes so much sense for me (and for you) to ponder this wonderful creature's habits and adaptive survival techniques. An overarching theme of bear is to go deep within oneself to find/identify the resources that are necessary for survival and then to bring them forth or awaken once revealed. This cycle is akin to the winter hibernation and spring awakening that bears go through. Bear is also protective, is swift and adept with running/climbing - resourceful. Bears' kidneys shut down in the winter for reserving function and the kidneys are a sign of discernment and discrimination. Ah - the lightbulb goes off! I grew up not learning to trust my instincts or inner wisdom; to fear the world and environment; basically to shun any intuition that was endogenous to me. This is not to name and blame, but to realize that much of what we come to believe as truth, is really the experience of another imbued upon ourselves. During this journey of health recovery, I have learned to listen to and to take the solitary time to balance the internal with the external - and I shall never go back! From a color perspective, brown is about establishing healthy boundaries. It is an earthy color which acts as a conduit between the earth and the heavens and helps one to create balance. It assists inestablishing trust in universal wisdom - seeing and using the earth connections for our good and the good of others. This was a huge theme in my work with both Hannelore and Susan, the shaman. They talked about the wonderful capacity that I held to support and inspire others, but the down side was that I gave completely of myself without maintaining a healthy boundary. Another friend/colleague at a completely separate time, channeled this very same concern for me and we worked on some visualizations to help me give to others while not completely self-sacrificing. What an amazing journey. I truly love my time in nature, being able to make connections that not only work for me, but can be used for the higher good of all! Check out Ted Andrews "Animal Speak" and Inna Segal "The Secret Language of Color". If nothing else, it is fun! Namaste, Julie