Surrender 89: Attaching Purpose to Desire

This evening was another food prep night. After last week’s success of having meals ready to go in the fridge, I was excited to pull together another seven days of meals. 

I’m delighted with how the past week flowed. I ate at home for every meal, except lunch Monday, my Arkansas day. Which meant I saved money and I ate healthy, nutritious meals based on a whole food diet. I freed up time and energy by doing the meal prep and cooking in one evening. I loved the way that affected my life. Best of all, I feel great!

 

I enjoyed last week’s stir-fry chicken and veggies with brown rice for lunch and the slow cooker dump meals. For the upcoming week, I wanted to try new recipes and ideas, while continuing the celery juice every morning for breakfast. My intention is to create a couple of months of prep ahead meal plans. 

   

For lunches I decided on a daily salad. I grilled chicken and diced carrots, celery and tomatoes. I sliced strawberries to have ready and chopped romaine lettuce and spinach. I have boiled eggs, avocado and apples ready to add. I’ll be able to create various combinations every day. 

 Photo from buzzfeed 

For dinners I found a great suggestion on Pinterest by buzzfeed staff member Christine Byrne. Her “How to Make 5 Weeknight Dinners” includes a shopping list, recipes and instructions on making five different meals from food that is prepped in an evening. The pork roast is the exception. It cooks all day in the slow cooker and is then shredded. 

  Photos from buzzfeed 

After 2 hours and 15 minutes of prepping, as I sung along to favorites on my iPod, my refrigerator is stocked with another round of wholesome, nutritious food. In a few minutes each day I will have a fresh salad for lunch and dinners such as pork rice bowl and pork and veggie hash. The five meal suggestions will easily stretch to seven for me. 

I enjoyed my time of prepping and cooking tonight, humming and singing as I worked. Somewhere between chopping carrots and steaming broccoli, I realized that what I’m doing is similar to when I had the desire to write every day. I wanted to write but I didn’t, until I began a daily blog. 

I’ve repeatedly expressed an interest in learning more about cooking, and then have not cooked. My desire was present. Purpose was not. I’ve connected my intention to eat more healthily to cooking at home, trying new methods and recipes. Having a desire to cook was not enough. I had to have a reason to cook. 

I’ve found my reason. Taking care of myself feels good. And the cooking is fun. I’m learning new things and reaping the benefits from devoting an evening a week to cooking. I found a meme that said: Your gifts & talents + Your heart’s desire  = Your Purpose. I created a meme that shifts that quote around and expresses what’s going on in my life. 

I’m grateful for these opportunities to write, create and cook…and to learn more about who I am.   

  

Surrender 83: Meals for the Week in 2.5 Hours

It happens every spring. As the trees and plants and flowers stir and awaken, so too does my desire to eat healthier. I think my body wants to hibernate throughout the winter. It gets sluggish. I want to eat more. As the days grow longer, the abundant sunshine triggers a surge in energy in me and a greater awareness of my health and well being. 

 

This evening I spent time in the kitchen, prepping for a week’s worth of meals. I’ve been saving recipes on Pinterest, for this purpose. After a trip to the grocery store, I was ready. 

I am heeding a call, surrendering, to simplicity and nutrition, focusing on whole foods. For breakfast each morning, I’m enjoying a cup of warm lemon water, followed by 16 ounces of fresh celery juice. If I need something before lunch I’ll have an apple or a handful of walnuts. 

  
Lunch will be a bowl of brown rice or black beans, topped with stir-fried chicken and vegetables and half an avocado. The food is cooked and in the fridge, ready to eat. 

For dinners I prepared a couple of healthy slow cooker dump meals. I’ve been looking forward to trying these. There’s a huge variety of recipes available on Pinterest. 

 

Red Pepper Chicken 

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, fat trimmed
1 medium-sized red bell pepper, sliced (about 1.5 cups)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 small onion, diced (about one cup)

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in crockpot and cook for 3-6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through and tender. Or freeze in one gallon bag. To use, thaw overnight in refrigerator and cook for 3-6 hours on low. 

  

Turkey White Bean Kale Soup

1 small onion, diced

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 bunch of kale, washed and sliced

1 can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), washed and drained

1 Italian salad dressing pouch or 2 tablespoons of Italian seasonings

1 pound ground turkey

8 cups chicken broth

Combine all ingredients in crockpot and cook on “low” setting for 8 hours, or until carrots are soft. Or freeze all ingredients except broth in one gallon bag. To use, thaw overnight in refrigerator, dump into slow cooker and add 8 cups of chicken broth. Cook on low for 8 hours. 

Both recipes are from newleafwellness.biz There are lots of additional recipes on her site. Two and a half hours of prep, and that included clean up, and I have a week of meals ready to go. Each dinner recipe makes enough to eat on 2-3 times. My grocery bill for the adventure today was $29. 

I’m excited to be listening to my body’s desire to eat healthily, and pleased to be saving money by eating at home. Most of all, I’m relishing the idea of simplicity and wholesomeness. That nourishes my body and my soul. 

  

Journey 85: Boom….Complete the Whole30

finished the whole 30

Boom is right! I did it…. I completed the Whole30 healthy eating plan. Thirty days of higher awareness of what I was putting on my plate, and more importantly, what I was putting in my body. Following the guidelines from the Whole30 website, I am spending about 10 days after my first Whole30 evaluating where I am and reintroducing the forbidden foods, except for sugar, back into my diet to see if my body reacts negatively to them.

The evaluation part is easy. I feel great. I know….I know….I know that this is the very best eating plan for me, a diet that focuses on lean proteins, vegetables and limited amounts of fruit, and healthy fats such as avocadoes and nuts. That’s it. That’s so simple. It has not been difficult for me to get into the routine of eating this way. Every meal needs to have that combo, when possible. I keep staples on hand like walnuts and avocadoes, lean meats in the freezer, eggs….lots of organic eggs. I buy bags of chopped salad for convenience. I add a fresh, chopped tomato and half an avocado, chopped as well, and a diced egg, and I have lunch.

Even when I eat out I have done well. “Naked” meats, meaning no coating, grilled or baked. And veggies. Baked sweet potatoes, plain in a restaurant or with clarified butter, also known as ghee, when I’m at home, are so filling. Almond butter and sliced apples are my favorite snack with afternoon tea or if I get hungry in the evenings. I have found my craving for sugar has disappeared. As has my craving for bread and carbs. I lost almost 10 pounds on the Whole30, which is an awesome bonus. Primarily, I want to feel great by reducing inflammation in my body, regaining flexibility and maintaining high energy levels. I am doing that. My one test each morning is to flex the fingers on my right hand. No pain means I’m eating well. Pain or stiffness means I let something creep into my diet, usually hidden sugar.

I’ve learned to check labels for that pesky sugar, appreciate the flavor of foods as my taste buds detoxified, and drink my tea plain, without a splash of milk. Today I wondered if I should celebrate my accomplishment with a “forbidden” treat but then decided why do that? I couldn’t even think of something that I wanted badly enough to do that to my body.

In the reintroduction phase, foods on the NO list are tried, one food group at a time, for one day. Then the food is not consumed for two days. The idea is to feel with the body what the reaction is to eating the food again, and then avoiding it for a couple of days and checking in with the body again. Today, I reintroduced non-gluten grains. I’ll check for pain and joint stiffness tomorrow, or digestive issues, and then see how I feel after two days of not eating those foods. Again, so easy. Any food group that brings pain, stiffness, indigestion or bloating, goes back on the NO list. Any food that does not create inflammation can remain on the YES list and be eaten in moderation. Sugar is the exception. It is toxic to me. I already know that. I may occasionally have a small piece of birthday cake or a small ice cream cone, but again, I may not want to trade my health for that small, quickly eaten treat.

For that is the real benefit that I am receiving from eating this way….health….wellness. Last August, limping in Scotland with a sore, stiff leg due to an inflamed sciatic nerve, I learned an important truth for myself: to appreciate my body and all that it does for me, in spite of the way I nourish it and feed it. Even when it is in pain, it does the very best that it can for me. I’d never water down the gasoline for my car and then complain about the way the car chugged and choked along. I’d know the poor quality of fuel was impeding the performance of the car. And yet, I’ve done that very thing to my body, giving it poor quality food and nourishment and then complained when it struggled along. I am so grateful that this whole food way of eating keeps showing up in my life. To show the highest level of appreciation for my marvelous body, I want to give it the very best nourishment that I can. I’m on board for another 30 days…and another….and another….as this way of fueling my body brings optimal health. I will Keep Calm…and Whole30 On!

finished the whole 30 keep calm

Journey 56: Whole30 Program

whole 30 doing it

As I was contemplating my journey today, I was NOT going to write about the fact that I began this program this morning. In fact, I cast about through several other options before deciding that this is exactly what I wanted to share today. I spent time examining the reluctance to blog about the whole food eating program. I had to work through a sense of failure that I have allowed my eating habits to slide back into a non-healthy pattern. Again.

My daughter Elissa shared this program with me and we went grocery shopping together at least 10 days ago. She began the program right away. I delayed. I had two birthday parties to attend. I had a scone mix to try. Excuses, excuses. Ironically, what shifted me into acceptance mode, both of myself and the desire to eat healthier again, was reading one of my own blog posts! Yesterday, while working on other things, I came across Journey 6: Ascend Toward Stubborn Gladness. I read it….read it twice. And was struck by this part of the blog, where I wrote about Liz after she met the man who is now her husband:

Liz says she asked herself, “How did I win this life?” A very wise friend of hers told her she blossomed into the type of woman, the sort of person, who attracted this type of man to her. After her divorce, during her year spent in Italy, India and Indonesia, Liz grew, and shifted, and released the past and cared for herself in such a way that she drew another to her that was aligned with the woman she had become. That part of the video brought tears to my eyes. That’s what the journey, what MY journey is about….becoming the best version of myself…and drawing like hearted, like minded people to me to share the journey. This is NOT a formula for attracting a mate, although soul mates are not excluded. It is a recipe for life. A way of living. A shift that enables a view of oneself that is so rich, so loving, so nurturing that those who appear in our lives are those who are able to sustain themselves in the same way. The journey that is then shared is magical, supportive, encouraging, without neediness or a tendency to look to others for happiness. Those truths resonated deep within me as my soul whispered Yes….I want that for my own journey. I want to care for myself and nurture my growth in such a way that those who journey most closely with me are drawn because they too are experiencing a similar walk.

I wrote that, however, it was so good for me to remember that I want to care for myself like that and nurture my growth. In slipping back into an unhealthy eating pattern, I am not taking care of myself in the best possible way. I know that I don’t feel my best when I consume sugar, white flour, and dairy products. Jeopardizing my optimal health for foods that create cravings and addictions  and make me feel sick doesn’t make sense! I know also that at the heart of this self sabotage are issues that I want to uncover and address. How amazing that my journey has brought this opportunity to me. To encourage myself and remember, I am reading the Journey 6 blog post every day. You can re-read the post here if you’d like.

whole 30 no

And so, here is the Whole30 Program, which is very similar to the healthy eating program I adopted last year, with great results. Basically, sugar, grains, dairy and legumes are eliminated from the diet for 30 days, replacing those foods with whole foods. The emphasis is on healthy proteins, then vegetables, some fruits, and healthy fats. That’s it. Not difficult. And shopping is a breeze. I stay on the perimeter of the grocery store,  only moving to the interior to pick up nuts and frozen veggies. According to the program, one should only weigh at the start of the program and at the end of the 30 days. Numbers on the scale are not the goal. Feeling good is the goal. Making healthy choices is the goal. Looking deeply within myself to learn new things is the goal.

You can check out the Whole30 website here. I’ll post again at the end of 30 days. Here’s to great health…yours and mine!

Whole30 Website

whole 30 change your life

Day 126: Farmer’s Market Bok Choy & Chinese Broccoli

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I love our local Farmer’s Market, located under the pavilion at King Jack Park in Webb City. The sights and scents of the market always inspire me to eat healthier. And the general busyness, the vendors showing off their fresh produce and homemade goodies, and the live music near the front of the pavilion creates a fun and lively atmosphere.

The Farmer’s Market is open three days a week: Tuesday 4:00 – 6:00, Friday 11:00 – 2:00 and Saturday 9:00 – noon. This is the third week the market has been in spring/summer operational mode and yet today was the first opportunity I’ve had to make it by. My first for today, since I’ve visited the market many times, was to purchase and prepare something new…something I’d never tried before.

I enjoyed wandering up and down the aisles on either side of the pavilion, looking over the spring produce and searching for a vegetable I’ve not purchased or eaten before. I saw a variety of lettuces, spinach, kale and onions. One vendor was selling strawberries. Another had greenhouse tomatoes. I stopped to admire hanging baskets full of petunias but decided not to purchase any plants today.

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At last I stopped before a table with the usual spring produce. However, a couple of not so usual vegetables had caught my eye. The Chinese broccoli, with its long stalks and yellow flowers, looked more like an herb than a vegetable. Also called Gai Lan or Chinese Kale, this dark green veggie is high in dietary fiber and potassium and a serving contains 41% of our daily recommended vitamin C  and 28% of vitamin A. It also contains iron, magnesium and vitamin B-6. This is one healthy food!

I had heard of bok choy, but I had never bought it, prepared it or eaten it before. Also called Chinese cabbage, a serving of bok choy provides a whopping 62% of the daily suggested amount of vitamin A and 52% of vitamin C. It is also high in dietary fiber, potassium, calcium and vitamin B-6. As I stood there, I was imagining the health benefits of preparing these two powerful vegetables together.

I asked the friendly young woman behind the table how to best cook these vegetables. She suggested several methods but when she said “stir fry”, I said, “I’ll take some of each!” I also purchased a couple of red tomatoes and then headed home to try my new veggies. After washing and chopping the bok choy and Chinese broccoli, I stir fried them together in a little olive oil. Seasoned with salt and pepper, I added them to my dinner plate along with the sliced tomato and cold left over chicken.

I was hoping I liked these healthy veggies. After a careful forkful the verdict is….I do! The bok choy reminded me of brussel sprouts, which I also happen to like, and the Chinese broccoli had a mild broccoli like flavor. The Chinese broccoli was especially fun to cook, flowers, leaves and all and even more fun to eat! And I swear, I felt healthier immediately! I will be a frequent visitor to the Webb City Farmer’s Market. With my new emphasis on eating whole foods, this is the perfect place for me to shop. Here’s to a healthy, bountiful summer!

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