Monday, November 21, 2011

It's Time.

I've been putting this off for much too long.

However, as I stepped on the scale at the gym this morning, I realized this had gone far enough.

Yes, I have been eating gluten free, and have started switching to healthier ingredients like coconut oil, palm sugar, almond flour, and organic and/or local fruits, veggies and meat. All awesome changes. But, even good foods in the wrong proportions end up being not-so-good. Even though almond flour muffins made with coconut oil and honey are totally healthy, it's probably not the best idea for me to eat several of them throughout the day while sitting on my butt in an office for 8 hours...

So, it's time for a change.

It's time to hold myself accountable.

Now that I know better, I have no excuse.

But, I do need to allow myself some grace. If the good Lord can forgive me, then I sure as heck need to be able to forgive myself! So, no beating myself up, no lamenting over what I should have done last week or last year, no crying over most of the pants I no longer fit into. It's time to be thankful.

Thankful that I know what healthy food is, and how I can get myself back on track. Thankful to live in a country where good food is readily available. Thankful for a totally supportive husband, willing to eat whatever random healthy recipes I might find on the blogosphere. Thankful that I am realizing at this point in my life that its time to make a change. Thankful to God for His awesome power to do it, as there is no way that I could tackle this on my own!

In my devotional time this morning, I read this verse:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12:2

I've heard this verse so many times, but this morning it struck me completely different than it has before. It was like God was saying to me: "Listen up Julie. Stop conforming to your society's idea of healthy eating. I've made it obvious to you what foods you should be eating in order to be healthy. Get off the fence and do it! I know you're nervous and doubting that you can do it, but I will give you the strength. I made you just as you are, so trust me to know what's best for you." 

Guess I should listen.

I'll need some marks so that I can see some progress on this journey, so here are some initial goals:

Short term goals:

  • Keep God as my #1 focus
  • Kick sugar to the curb
  • Hold off on the grains
  • Switch to whole foods
  • Eat hormonally-balanced meals every 4-6 hours, and limit snacks in between
  • Add some high-intensity workouts to my normal routine
  • Find some new, fun, active things to do with my husband - rock climbing? ballroom dancing? twister? :)
  • Stop obsessing about food and instead focus my energy on how I can make a positive impact on this world with the one life that I've been given
Mid-term goals:
  • Get stronger - physically, mentally, and spiritually
  • Improve the quality of ingredients that I use - better fats, higher-quality meat, as many veggies and as few store-bought products as possible
  • Grow as many of my own vegetables as I can
  • Fit back into my old pants!

Long term goals:

  • Lose 20 lbs (It would be great to get back down to the weight I was when we got married 5 years ago! But I don't want to become too obsessed with a number on the scale)
  • Get my PCOS under control and hopefully start having normal cycles
  • Raise a healthy family
  • Help someone else along their journey to health
  • Use my life to bring glory and honor to God above all else, and help point others to Christ

Here we go! I'm diving in...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Creamy Chocolate Coconut Bliss

Well, I'm on day 2 of my raw challenge. Man, this is tough :) I feel wonderful, my sugar cravings have all but left, and I'm not snacking 24/7. I know it's only the 2nd day, but I feel like I'm off to a good start so far. And I don't feel deprived one bit!

Yesterday, I treated my hubby and I to Spunky Coconut's Vanilla Banana Smoothie for breakfast - heavenly! It was a great way to start the day, and really filled me up. I also blended up a mango/kiwi/avocado/spinach green smoothie to snack on during the day (YUM!). Lunch was at a local restaurant to celebrate a coworkers birthday, but they had a nice salad I could eat so I was covered there. Then I stopped by the Co-op on my way home to grab a few raw snacks for the weekend ("cheesy" kale chips!). Finally, dinner was zucchini pasta with spicy macadamia alfredo sauce (I'll post that one later once I get it perfected - still some tweaking to do). No deprivation here!

This morning, I went for my usual long run, and wanted something to fill me up, so I started playing with Spunky Coconut's vanilla smoothie that I made yesterday. I think the results were pretty darn delicious - give it a try and let me know what you think!

Creamy Chocolate Coconut Smoothie
1 large or 2 small servings

1 banana, frozen
1 T. chia seeds
1 T. unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut
3 deglet noor dates (this is the kind they have at my local Costco - smaller than medjool dates) - soak for an hour if you remember and save the soaking water
10 drops liquid stevia (I use chocolate but vanilla would work too)
1 cup milk (I used cashew, but any would work - coconut would be decadent!)
1 T. raw cacao powder
1 scoop protein powder (I use a raw superfoods vanilla protein powder from my Co-op)
1/2 cup date soaking liquid
Optional: dash of cinnamon, cayenne, splash of coconut extract

Blend all together in a high-powered blender (or if using a normal blender, grind the seeds and coconut flakes in a coffee grinder first before blending). Sip slowly, close your eyes, and enjoy!

Linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Raw Adventure

What have I been doing for the past month and a half? Well, first a 2+ week flu kicked my butt and I lost some weight, then I took recovery overboard and completely fell off the healthy eating bandwagon, gaining back everything and then some. Inevitably, I started feeling horrible again, and now the pants are getting tighter... When will I ever learn? (Though I will say, even though it was hard on the waistline, the B&B weekend with my hubby for my birthday was so worth it!!! They even made me GF pancakes! Definitely check out the Flower Farm Inn if you're in the Sacramento, CA area.)

I guess this is a journey, and hopefully I'll get better at it as I go. I did celebrate my first year GF on March 18th, and I'm in a lot better spot than I was at last year, so I guess I'm making progress, albeit slowly :)

Anyway, after receiving a dehydrator from my lovely sister for my b-day, I've been toying with the idea of eating raw for the month of April. It's 80 degrees here in California, produce abounds at the Farmer's Market, and the idea of detoxing a bit and munching on fresh veggies is so appealing. However, I was having a tough time pulling the trigger on my commitment - 30 days is a long time!

So, it was much to my dismay this morning that on Heather's blog Gluten-Free Cat - one of my favorite GF blogs - she wrote about her decision to go raw for the month April. THEN, I found out that Real Sustenance is doing a blog event called "April in the Raw" showcasing a raw recipe from a different blogger each day for the month. What the heck?

After that confirmation, I think it's time to make the commitment. After all, it's only 30 days - it can't be that bad, right? Hopefully I make it beyond lettuce and green smoothies - or at the very least I'll be making frequent trips to my much-loved Davis Food Co-op and the raw foods aisle. But, I am going to do my best to make all things at home (though I guess this would be a good excuse to check out the raw food restaurant I've heard about in Sacramento...). We'll see what my hubby thinks.

Here's to all things raw, soaked, and sprouted - let the adventure begin!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pizza My Heart

My husband loooooooves pizza, so I try to make it on Fridays for an end of the week treat. Depending on how my week has gone and how tired I am when I get home from work, I'll either make the crust or use a purchased crust (go Udis!). This time, though, I wanted to make something special, something a little different than the usual.

Ever since falling in love with Cecina, an Italian flatbread made out of garbanzo flour, I've been toying with the idea of making a Cecina pizza. (If you've never had Cecina, you've got to try it!) I love the texture - somewhat similar to polenta in its density, with a nice crunch when its fresh from the oven. I love the simplicity of it - just garbanzo flour, water, and salt baked in an olive oil coated pan. I love that it's a healthy alternative to the typical pizza crust - grain free, high fiber, high protein - and really yummy! (Plus, my bank account loves the fact that its incredibly inexpensive to make!)

You can use any type of pan for this bread - a full jelly roll sheet, a pie pan, a 9 x 13, whatever as long as it has a flat bottom and sides that are at least an inch high. Since it was the Friday before V-day, and I just happened to have a heart-shaped pan, I figured I might as well put it to use. What's more romantic for Valentine's Day than sharing a heart-shaped pizza? (Might be corny, but that's okay with me :)

The traditional recipes I've seen for Cecina use 1 pound of flour to approx. 6 1/3 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt. If you're using a package of Bob's Red Mill, it makes it easy since the package holds 1 pound of flour. However, that makes an entire full jelly roll sheet which is way too much for my husband and I to eat (which is how I found out that Cecina does not freeze well, so only make enough to eat within a few days). Depending on the size of your pan, you'll have to adjust accordingly. Also, the ratio of flour to water varies among traditional recipes from as little as 1:1 to as much as 1:3. I guess the lesson is this: try it first, then adjust to suite your tastes.

Here's what the process looks like (recipe follows):

Soak the water, flour and salt.

Pour into a well-oiled pan.

Bake until crispy and golden. Eat Cecina as-is, or...

...add your favorite pizza toppings and pop back into the oven.

Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly (Daiya cheese on the left, but still tastes delish!).


Cecina (and Cecina Pizza)

Use the following chart as a guide to determine how much flour and water you'll need (this is not set in stone, feel free to adjust based on what feels right to you!):

Pan Size: 8 x 8 or pie plate
Flour: 1 cup
Water: 1 1/4 cups
Salt: 1 1/2 teaspoons

Pan Size: 9 x 13
Flour: 2 cups
Water: 2 1/2 cups
Salt: 2 1/4 teaspoons

Pan Size: Full Jelly-Roll Sheet
Flour: 1 pound
Water: 6 1/3 cups
Salt: 1 tablespoon

Mix the garbanzo flour, water, and salt in a bowl and leave to soak for at least an hour or as long as 8-10 hours (I mix it up before going to work so its ready to go when I get home.) It's very liquidy when you mix it up, but this is normal!

Once the Cecina has soaked, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prep your pan by coating it with a healthy layer of olive oil (several tablespoons at least). Stir the Cecina to incorporate any flour that has settled to the bottom of the bowl. Slowly pour into the pan so that it floats on top of the oil.

Carefully put the pan into the oven, taking care not to tip it too much (especially if you are using a pan with low sides!). Bake until golden and crispy - about 30-40 minutes depending on the thickness of the dough.

If you decide to eat the Cecina as-is, it's ready to go! Try it with pesto or artichoke spread on top, or dip it into marinara sauce. You can also mix italian herbs in before baking for some extra flavor.

For the pizza, carefully flip the baked Cecina out onto a pizza crisper sheet if you've got one (or leave in its original pan if you'd rather not bother - we just like our crust as crispy as possible). Layer on your favorite pizza toppings. For this pizza, we used a garlic artichoke spread as the sauce, then layered cheese, GF pepperoni, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, olives, and more cheese! (My husband used the real-deal, but I used Daiya cheese - delicious either way!)

Pop back into the oven for about 12-14 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Slice, serve, and try not to eat the entire thing all by yourself (though don't feel too guilty if you do)!

Posted in participation with ATX Gluten-free's Pizza Fest 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

"Super Sunday" Sweet Potato Pie

Our friends throw the most awesome Super Bowl party every year, complete with about 20 different soda options, cream-filled cupcakes that will knock your socks off, and a replica football stadium built out of snack foods, (wish I had taken a picture!!!) . Unfortunately, this being my first GF Super Bowl, I had to pass on most of it. However, I decided to bring a dessert that I could enjoy, and did I ever!

Imagine a creamy, rich sweet potato filling inside a golden brown roasted pecan crust... (drooling...) but no gluten, dairy, or refined sugar to ruin it for you. A pie nutritious enough to enjoy for breakfast even (which I did this morning!).

Thanks goes to the Spunky Coconut for her recipes. I modified her Spunky Pie Crust and her Butternut Pudding, put them together, and voila - Sweet Potato Pie that's gluten free, dairy free, and sugar free. If you don't have either of her cookbooks, you are missing out - I use them several times a week!

Super Sweet Potato Pie
gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free

Pecan Crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a food processor or chopper, pulse approx. 1 1/2 cups of pecans until ground into meal. Watch closely to make sure it doesn't turn into nut butter (helps to have the nuts in the freezer prior to processing). Set nuts aside.

1.5 T Chia seed meal (grind seeds in coffee grinder - can also use 3 T flaxmeal instead)
1/4 cup plus 2 T unsweetened apple sauce (or pear sauce or pumpkin or whatever you've got)
1 T apple cider vinegar
8 drops Vanilla Liquid Stevia
1 T honey
1/4 cup olive oil (or liquid coconut oil or whatever oil you've got - works with either!)

Mix together in a bowl until well incorporated, then add:

1 cup nut meal (from above)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Mix again until mixture forms a ball (I use my hands) then carefully roll out on parchment paper. Turn crust over onto a greased and floured pie pan then use fingers to pat into place and make the top pretty if you like. Bake for approx. 12 minutes then let cool down while making the pie filling.

NOTE: You can use a different type of nut in place of the pecans if you like, or use almond meal.

Sweet Potato Pie Filling:

Increase the oven temp to 400 degrees.

Bake one large or two small sweet potatoes until soft - enough to yield 2 cups of potato (I never think ahead enough to bake these prior to making my pie, so I usually microwave them in a towel until soft while the pie crust is cooking). Let cool for a minute then add the following to the blender:

2 T ghee
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 T xylitol or coconut sugar or a few drops of Vanilla Stevia (to taste, if it isn't sweet enough for you)
1 cup coconut milk
3 eggs
2 cups cooked sweet potato (no skins)

Puree until smooth, then pour into pie crust.

Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes until set. Let cool then refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

NOTE: I've made this pudding/pie filling out of butternut squash, patty pan squash, pumpkin - works great no matter what, so use what you've got on hand!


Linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free
and Seasonal Sundays at Real Sustenance

Friday, January 14, 2011

End of Week One & Sweet Raw Beet Salad

One week down on the diet, and I am feeling so great I can't even tell you! My head doesn't get foggy in the afternoon anymore, I've dropped a few pounds already, and my mood has greatly improved. I guess that's an argument for me to maintain eating tons of veggies on a regular basis as I am now, and cutting out all the sugar. I am going to add in some salmon tonight as I have my long run tomorrow and I want to make sure I have plenty of energy to get me through - can't wait...

Anyway, I made this salad last night after receiving some beets and carrots in my produce box, and I love it! You can't really tell much detail from the photo below - I was so excited after tasting it that I didn't want to waste time looking for my camera, so I took a picture with my phone instead ;)

The combo of beets, carrots, apples, and fennel is so yummy with the fresh ginger and garlic in the salad dressing (I am in love with the Green Apple Salad Dressing from Ali's blog Nourishing Meals!) If you don't have fennel, you could substitute with celery or sweet onions or celery root, or leave it out entirely. If you've never tried fennel, it's a wonderful veggie with a hint of licorice - I love it raw, so give it a try!

Sweet Raw Beet Salad
serves 4 as a side, or 2 as a main dish

Grate the following veggies (I used my food processor - much faster that way!):
1 beet (any type will do)
2 carrots
1 apple (I used Granny Smith)
1 fennel bulb

Mix together, then add the following:
1 inch chunk of ginger, finely grated
dash of sea salt or herbamare

Mix together again, and you are good to go!

To serve, top with Green Apple Salad Dressing and sunflower seeds. I also add a dash of cayenne because I like things spicy. Enjoy!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 3

I am on the 3rd day of the Elimination & Detox Diet from Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen, and I am loving how good I feel! For once I'm actually full, not needing to snack through the morning. I feel totally balanced, no crazy sugar or caffeine cravings - I'm loving this!

Last night for dinner, I made a recipe I've been itching to try from 18 Hour Kitchen - Sweet Potato & Pea Quinoa - and it was awesome! I had to leave out the almonds, and I used water instead of broth, but other than that I made it as written. So good!!! And the perfect lunch at my desk :)

Now I won't lie, the green smoothie fast was not the most fun thing I've done, but since I really enjoy green smoothies it wasn't too bad. I was definitely drinking a lot of tea to stay warm though! Here's my favorite new recipe:

Cran-Apple Green Smoothie

1 apple
1/2 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
2 cups green cabbage
1 inch chunk of ginger
1 Tbsp chia seeds
handful of spinach/salad greens
1 cup water
dash of cinnamon

Blend everything together (I used my Blendtec) and you are good to go.

I used radicchio on hand for salad greens, so this turned out nice and pink - yummy! Hope you enjoy too :)