Wednesday, May 25, 2016

On the flip side...

I figured after writing my post last week that I debating about posting regarding the "retrograde" situation, that a follow-up this week would be necessary after all my ramblingsJ.  

So for those of you who don't know, Mercury finally planted itself back into position on the 22nd (Hallelujah) and since Friday, I feel like my brain has been finally coming out of that 3-week fog.  Things finally seem a little bit calmer & clearer and the 'space' that I've created in my head during meditation the last few months is finally starting to return.  For those who don't understand:  When I say 'space,' I mean it's that moment you give yourself before doing anything too impulsive and/or taking that breath before reacting.  I find that meditation gives you more of that mental 'hang-time' between action & reaction (does that make sense?)  And in the food world here (since, hello, blog!), it's that break you give yourself from that moment of "FREAKINOUTI'MSTARVING and I need COOKIES!!!!!!" to being able to STOP and make a rational choice.  I'd be lying if I said I still wasn't feeling more snacky than I have the past few months and that my brain has NOT calmed to the point where I'm not thinking about snacks & treats (especially in the afternoon & at nights).  BUT 'that space' gives me that moment to reassess and realize what I REALLY want.  So even though the snack cravings haven't diminished 100%, that calm brain makes choosing the healthier options throughout the day MUCH easier.  
And ya know what?  If I still need a bite of chocolate in the afternoons, I'm gonna have a bite of chocolate in the afternoons.  As long as the REST of my daily diet is about making healthier choices, that chocolate choice is A-OK in my bookJ

Another 'post-retrograde' moment I also noticed:  Teaching yoga has been MUCH easier the last few days....or at least LESS nerve wrackingJ  To be honest, nearly all of the classes I taught in the last couple weeks were extremely nerve wracking, feeling like the clock was at a standstill and the hour felt like YEARS, and feeling no confidence whatsoever.  And in having no confidence, it makes it INFINIETLY more difficult to just be yourself.  But every class I've taught since Saturday?  I felt like I got up there and OWNED it.  Even last night I taught a class in a style of yoga that I'm not really too familiar with and, even though I didn't feel like I did the BEST job, I was OK with it.  VERY different from the last few weeks of feeling like I was back in that old cycle of 'beating myself up' and thinking I did a bad job at every turn.   

How could it change so rapidly without there being some external reason??  Or am I just GRASPING for a reason and making this retrograde one fit??  I admit, I'm a person who likes REASONS because they helps things make sense for me.  And maybe this one is a stretch, but right now I feel OK with itJ.   It was funny because I can even distinctively remember other times where I was struggling and making unhealthier choices and (after a quick Google search) 97% of those times lined up with past retrograde cycles.  WILD!  It might just be a moment for me to acknowledge that those few weeks a year might be a little tougher than usual but that they WILL pass and I WILL get back on track.  I even physically had to shake myself one day last week to remind myself that that feeling would pass.

Maybe some of you out there feel the same, and maybe you feel the same for the zillions of other reasons that life can knock us down and make us feel like we're swimming upstream.  And maybe I'm supposed to write this post to let you know that those difficult times:  THEY DO PASS.  Just keep movin forward.  Moving forward is the only way to right any past let's all keep movin forward together.  

Woah...things just got too real & dramatic around here, huh???   

Connect with me:

On Instagram  
Through Email
On Youtube
Comment below

As always...thanks for reading!

Monday, May 23, 2016

A stumble, not a plummet...

Morning, all!

So ya know why this week's Monday post is NOT going to be about balance?  Because this week was not balanced in the slightest.  As a matter of fact, I think I barely even made dinner this week because my breakfasts & lunches were so out of sorts, that dinner was usually either non-existent or some weird combo of crap leftovers.  And to cap off the week of insanity, yesterday we had a breakfast of donuts:

And ended with a...get ready...a bacon wrapped-meatloaf: 

I mean, this is supposed to be a 'trying my best to be healthy' eating blog, right??  But this is also REAL life and while I usually try my best to eat within the 80/20 rule, some times everything just goes off the rails.  And after struggling for nearly THREE weeks and not doing great, but STILL trying to keep it within reason, yesterday ended up being the culmination of all those tougher 'stuggles.'  It's been a tough few weeks and hard not feel all of those 'bad' choices adding up, making you feel lousy and your brain feel cloudy.  But at some point yesterday I said to myself 'ya know what, instead of feeling guilty about this and mentally beating myself up over it, I just needed to recognize it for what it was:  a MOMENT.  Realize that NO, it was NOT how I actually LIKE to truly eat (or how I like to feel after eating all that non-healthy stuff), but it just was kind of a day after a couple harder weeks.  Just a day in the grande scheme of a normally 'healthy' lifestyle. And instead of saying 'THAT'S IT!  I'M GONNA GAIN IT ALL BACK NOW!  IT'S OVER!', I just recognized that I was going to get it back together.  And THAT'S IT.  Instead of turning this into a death spiral in my brain, yesterday I just wanted to own it and be fine with it.  Because ya know what, I ALWAYS feel better when I do well and I knew I wanted to feel that way again, like, NOW.  So maybe I could just be OK with the rougher days and then MOVE ON.

And ya know what I've already done this morning??

Worked out.  And not because I 'had to and had to beat myself up for all I've done,' but just because I wanted to and wanted to start off the week with MOTION.  That's it.  And in an effort to keep this positive, I also tried to focus on all that I HAVE achieved in the last couple months, so here goes:

  1. The # on the scale is one I would have KILLED for a few months even though there's a WAYS to go (isn't there always?), ya definitely gotta acknowledge how far you've come so far.
  2. I have kicked my daily 'coffee creamer' habit!  As I've mentioned on this blog before, coffee creamer was probably my most unhealthy DAILY habit.  I don't stress too much about ingredients in occasional TREATS, but didn't really love that I was having all those unpronounceable ingredients, hydrogenated oils, corn syrup and artificial flavors DAILY.  So I've swapped to honey & 1/2 and 1/2 for my daily coffee back in February and haven't looked back.  And even when I have creamer once or twice a month, it's not nearly as enjoyable.  Now, all remains to be seen when my favorite HOLIDAY flavors roll out in the Fall/Christmas...but we'll cross that bridge when we get thereJ
  3. I finally got myself into a near-daily meditation habit, which has been instrumental in ALL of my 'clear/rational' moments about food and ALLTHETHINGS in life.  Confession:  I had downloaded the app "Calm" in April, and one of the features is that it keeps track of your meditation "streaks."  THIS has been the one thing that brings me back to meditating, especially in those moments where you JUSTCANTDOIT.  My OCD reminds me that I want to keep the streak going and it's just that motivation I need to pluck myself down, even if it's just for those 10 minutes.  Whatever works, right??  I'm so close to going for a CLEAN SWEEP in I'm gonna keep on keepin on!
Not to mention, how awesome that it adds up all the minutes??  Crazy to think how those 10 minutes here and there can add up to HOURS.  Hours where you weren't stressing, fretting, obsessing, depressing and all of those negative 'ings,' but rather just being CALM.  Sounds like a much better way to spend your time, right??  

So that's what I'm going to choose to focus on at this moment rather than all the donuts/bacon meatloaf/lounging/rougher moments of the last week/couple weeks.  Which is making 'getting back on track' feel MUCH less like this unsurmountable mountain that you're staring up at from the very bottom.  Instead I'm just going to look at it as a little dip and now I'm gonna get back to climbing.  Why add the stress of feeling like you're 'starting all over,' when it's just a few rough moments in a whole lifespan?
It also helps me mentally keep everything in perspective that even though my food wasn't balanced last week, I DID at least keep up my workouts:


Monday:  Vinyasa yoga

Tuesday:  Tap class

Thursday:  Gentle yoga

Friday:  Taught gentle yoga + Gentle yoga + Power yoga

Saturday:  Taught vinyasa yoga (my 1st taught hour & a 1/2 class!)

I am already freaking out a little bit that this weekend is Memorial Day (WHATTT??!!!) and with that comes more opportunities for splurges and treats, BUT I'm going to focus on how I've been eating the last few months, where I've just taken each meal as it comes and focused on doing the best I could in THAT moment.  One thing at a time is always an easier way to handle EVERYTHING in life, right??

And with to kick of this week on the right foot: with a good breakfast.  Have a great day, everyone!

Connect with me:

On Instagram  
Through Email
On Youtube
Comment below

As always...thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Debating hitting 'publish...'

So this isn't as much as a 'solutions' post as much as it's a 'here's what's been going on lately and maybe you can relate' kinda post.  To be quite honest, I have spent all morning debating about whether to hit the 'publish' button because I know probably some of you will relate to it, while others probably will have NO experience or feelings on this subject and I GET IT.  But I figured I'd toss a line out there and see if any one else has any thoughts.

Short story of what's been going on:  Foggy brain.  INCESSANT foggy brain.  And since I've been talking about how the brain + food are more connected than we think, this foggy brain DOES NOT help on the food front.

I started about 3 weeks ago when, after I fought nerves teaching a yoga class (usually the nerves cease as soon as I start the class), and I went to a store right after and all I saw was the display of boxes on top of boxes of donuts.  Beautiful, glazed maple donuts.  I wanted to buy EVERY box and eat ALLOFTHEM.  After feeling ZERO needs for anything 'bad' or bad habits in the past few months, this caught me off guard.  I managed to hold off, keeping up my meditation to try to get my brain back on the straight and narrow.  The next day?  I felt myself being sad.  Did I have anything to be sad about?  Nope.  And the rational part of my brain knew that I had nothing to particularly feel sad about, but I just did and I started to wonder what the hell was going on after MONTHS of feeling completely clear-headed.  I even have a LIST of subjects I've wanted to write about on here about mental weight loss issues and haven't been able to formulate ONE thought into a clear post, which you may have noticed in the last couple weeks.  I've still been meditating and eating well (albeit, struggling!) and since I felt like they were the 2 kingpins for me to mentally feel good, I couldn't understand why I couldn't get my head straight.

Now here's where a lot of you will probably roll your eyes and slam the computer shut (and again, I GET IT)  But considering I've noticed this SAME pattern in my life MANY times and never saw the actual reason, I feel like this gave MYSELF (I'm not saying this is the case for anyone else) a bit of a reason.

So here goes ~> right when I was in the throws of trying to figure out why I was so off-kilter, one of my yoga teacher happened to post on his Facebook page that Mercury was in retrograde.  Something I knew really absolutely NOTHING about, but that info about it had also come across my path back in January, when it was also going on and I was ALSO feeling 'foggy brained' and couldn't figure out why I couldn't get my feet under me and get my eating in order. (especially in January when I'm usually UNBELIEVABLY READY to eat ALL THE SALAD, ALL THE TIME!)  So now I'm beginning to wonder if this could be a HUGE reason in understanding all of those OTHER moments in my life where I've felt 'out of control,' keep reaching for foods, but not really tasting any of them, but HOPING BEYOND HOPE that ONE OF THEM will be THE THING you're really 'wanting/needing,' so then you can finally feel satisfied and ready to go back to eating normal.  Could it be that even when I was completely UNAWARE of this retrograde thing, that it was still affecting me??  I've said for YEARS that there are times when I can literally have 2 BITES of dessert, like cake or ice cream, and I am FINE.  Other times?  I can eat 8 cakes and 9 gallons of ice cream and STILL not feel like I've had enough.  It is the ROOT of my 'satisfaction vs. deprevation' post.  And on top of not feeling satisfied by ANYTHING I'm eating during these phases, we can also throw in the 'default setting' of just going back to craving all of my 'old habits' of unhealthy foods with the added 'bonus' of my brain not being able to shut off at the incessant YELLING of reminding me there are tortilla chips in the cabinet that just go SOWELL with melty cheese.
Spoiler alert:  I had to ask Scott to HIDE the chips.  HIDE. THE. CHIPS.  Like a child.  I had to tell him to give them to me ONLY when I need them for a recipe.  But a month ago?  The bag could have stared at me from the counter and I wouldn't have given them a second glance.

So I know that I know ZILCH about this whole Mercury thing and have only spent the last few weeks relentlessly Googling it to see if I could find any answers between food/the mind & this phenomenon.  I haven't found much, but I can tell you this:  Like I mentioned, I've been doing the EXACT same things the last few weeks (meditating daily, yoga, eating well) and I'm STILL dealing with this food battle and really having no understanding why, so I'm very interested in the correlation.  Even more interesting since back in January I struggled for a similar 3-week time frame and come February, I got back to eating so well with NO brain noise and just felt completely calm and aware of all my food choices that I was almost shocked at how it felt to eat well at that time.  And that I've DEFINITELY dealt with this EXACT same scenario ever so often through the years and I've always felt them come out of seemingly nowhere.  I'll be curious to see what next week brings and plan on definitely writing a follow-up, given that that damn planet is supposed to go back to normal next week...HALLELUJAH.

And long story just getting increasingly longer, if this IS the cause, there is one thing I know I can do:  PREPARE.  (here are the other dates for 2016) As in:

  • keep up my daily habits & meditation (keeping honing the 'awareness') 
  • keeping myself OVERLY busy during those times when my brain seems to scream LOUDEST to remind me of ALLTHESNACKS (usually after lunch, between 1-4 is the HARDEST for me)
  • Not have any of those 'trigger foods' (aka-those tortilla chips) around the house during those times when I feel like I have NO control.
Retrograde or not, these are always good tips for when you're having a hard time getting yourself under control.  It's the few things I can do to help AT LEAST minimize the 'physical/weight' affects, even if I can't get my brain COMPLETELY together.  And in brief meditation talk:  my sessions have either been COMPLETELY difficult to feel my brain settle.  Not that it's EVER easy, but it's been even MORE difficult to keep the brain steady.  OR my meditations have been increasingly VIVID.  So I never know what I'm going to get when I sit down:  either a BATTLE to just SIT THERE, even for 10 minutes OR 'all the answers' (ok, not ALL.  But CLEAR messages.  I'll just say that)

So that's my crazy, WAY out there post and like I said, I TOTALLY get it if you're reading this with raised eyebrows and rolled eyes.  I probably would be too, to be quite honest (hell, if next week doesn't 'righten itself up', I'll be rolling my eyes at this post FOR SUREJ).  But since it's what I've been researching for my own sanity the last few weeks, I felt it would be remiss not to mention it on here, especially since I've been dealing so much with this whole food/brain connection.  And much like any other issue in life, I'm wondering what the effects of shining AWARENESS on the subject will help me be able to handle it better.  Here's hopingJ

Connect with me:

On Instagram  
Through Email
On Youtube
Comment below

As always...thanks for reading!

Monday, May 16, 2016

A peek at my week...

Monday:  Salad with tuna, chickpeas, beets, cucumbers + queso blanco (what we had in the fridge)

 ...corn... despite the wonky picture, those meatballs were glorious.  As in we almost had them twice last week.  And as for the corn in May?  Katie spied it at the Trader Joe's that day and was OBSESSED.  As in:  "Mommy, can we go home and make the corn?  Mommy, is it time to have the corn??  Mommy did you make the corn??  Mommy, I'm STARVING!  I NEED THE CORN!  Mommy, is it dinner time yet with corn??"

For hours.

This meal should have also included alcoholJ  

 Wednesday:  Quick spring pea ravioli with garlic browned butter sauce + salad 

Thursday:  Dinner at Outback for my niece's birthday

Friday:  1 square Corn & Pablano lasagna + salad  

Saturday:  Homemade ravioli at my Mom's house

And even though these weren't very photogenic, they were definitely in contention for best meal of the week.  Ok...this and those chicken meatballs...YUM!

Ugh...let's just say it was WAY more than necessary.  This was probably my 'worst week' in awhile.  It started off with little slips and then they just snowballed on top of one another by week's end.  UGH.  Here's to pulling it back together this week.

Other yummy recipes this week:

A complete obsession with sprinkling toasted quinoa on EVERYTHING.  Keeping these in a glass jar in my cabinet just reminded me to grab it all the time and put them on ALLTHETHINGS.  Salad, smoothie bowls, oatmeal, my shoes, etc.  
LOVE.  I must say.  Truly and honestly LOVE.  I heart a crunch & texture!

AKA-the easiest recipe in the world to make with kidsJ  Just toss everything in a bowl and give it a mix before baking.

My snacky week was not helped by the fact that I felt lousy for most of it :P  I feel like it's extra hard to get back on track when you have both snacks + lack of exercise working against you.

Wednesday:  Gentle yoga

Thursday:  Dance + weights

Friday:  Power yoga

Sunday:  Power yoga

Hopefully I can formulate my thoughts enough to write a post about my 'off week.'  It was certainly more mental than any hunger.  We'll see what I come up withJ  Have a great day!

Connect with me:

On Instagram  
Through Email
On Youtube
Comment below

As always...thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Quick Spring pea ravioli with brown butter garlic sauce...

So this weekend marked the opening of the Collingswood Farmer's Market...which I've written about a time or two or twenty on my blog over the years (see more at the bottom of this post)J

Going through the old posts on the market is like a time capsule!  Really didn't anticipate in that first 2010 post that in 2016 we'd be bringing our TWO CHILDREN to the market with us.  I mean...what just happened?? back to the exciting news that I & a few other awesome JERSEY bloggers are joining forces with the Collingswood Farmers Market to highlight fresh produce and develop recipes based on the seasonal produce de jour of the moment.  And there's nothing I heart more than eating in SEASON....weeeeeeeeeeee!  So for my debut post, I thought I'd whip up a little recipe based on your favorite little green veggie:  SPRING PEAS.

Make that:  Quick spring pea ravioli in brown butter garlic sauce...
Sounds FANCY, right??  Ya wanna know the kicker??  These couldn't be easier...courtesy of one little 'cheat' ingredient.  But shhhhh...don't tell anyone, so they can think you made these from scratch.  And you know I have a heart for 'from scratch' ravioli...but sometimes ya just gotta move it along in life and get that dinner on the table in under 30 minutes, ya know what I mean?  Even better:  you can make the ravioli ahead and freeze them so you can have dinner on the table in under 15 minutes...weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

We'll start out with those beautiful green peas, which need to be steamed over boiling water for 3-4 minutes....

...and here's the TRULY hardest part of this recipe:  ya gotta let em cool for a little bit once they're cooked.  Seriously, that's the hardest part and the only reason this isn't an under 30 minute meal from the jump.

Once the peas are cool, ya toss em in a food processor or blender with these other luscious ingredients...

...and puree until it looks like THIS: 
I kinda liked the idea of skipping the usual ricotta filling here.  Gives more chance for the PEAS to shine through, ya know?

And then it's time to break out the magic ingredient for QUICK & easy ravioli...
I know, I know and Grandmom forgive me, but they WORK for raviolis in under an hour.  Sometimes ya just gotta take the shortcut, give yourself a break and make life EASY.

Then it's time to line up the usual suspects:  A cookie sheet, peas, wonton wrappers + a small bowl of water... 

...and get to work. 

Add a rounded teaspoon of pea puree to each wrapper.

Add a little water around the edges... 

...and fold the wrapper around the peas...

...and pinch to seal. 

And then do that a bunch more times... 

I also like to give the center a little smooooosh to kinda spread out the peas.  More peas per bite, ya feel me? 

The 4-year old crowd can also totally get involved here...

You may end up with a few mish-mosh shaped ones, but who cares?J
You could pop the sealed ravioli on the cookie sheet into the freezer and freeze until solid before transferring to a freezer bag for later use OR you can just move on to the next step...

Next step: Time to cook the raviolis!  You COULD boil them but why worry about any of them breaking open?  This pan sear process is not only fool-proof, BUT you also get a little crispy texture to each rav' and how can you not love that bonus?  Add the ravioli (fresh or frozen) in a single layer directly to a pan that has been drizzled with a little oil & heated over medium heat...

Let them cook up for a few minutes (fresh took about 3-4 minutes, but the frozen ones take about 5-6 minutes) until the bottoms get a nice sear and a pretty crisp...

Once the ravs are crisp, it's time to add about 1/4-1/3 cup of water to the pan...


...and then pop a lid on the pan to help finish cooking up the ravioli.

After 3-4 minutes, pop the lid off and let the water finish evaporating.  And then:  THAT'S IT!  How easy is that??

And speaking of easy, while the ravioli are working, you can get to work on the QUICK brown butter garlic sauce. 
Heat the butter in the pan over medium-low heat...  

And allow the butter to melt until it begins to turn slightly golden brown...swoooooooon.  Give the pan the occasional swirl to check the color as you go.

Next, toss in the diced garlic cloves and allow to cook for another minute or two, until fragrant.  DO NOT let the garlic burn...or you'll have to make that 4 minute pan sauce all over againJ 

And then drizzzzzzllleeee that beautiful sauce over those browned & crisped ravioli.... 


How GORGEOUS is that green??  It doesn't even look real.  A true sign that those peas are picked at the peak of freshness.  Viva la spring peas. 

Spring Pea Ravioli in a Quick Brown Butter Garlic Sauce
Serves 4
  • 1 cup fresh peas
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 package wonton wrappers
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2-4 diced garlic cloves, to taste
  • lemon zest & Parmesan cheese, to taste
  1. Steam fresh peas over boiling water for 3-4 minutes.  Let cool.
  2. Puree peas, cheese, basil, olive oil, lemon zest and salt & pepper until blended.
  3. Lay out wonton wrappers on a cookie sheet.  Fill each wrapper with a rounded teaspoon of pea puree.  Edge each wrapper with a little water and seal wrapper around the puree.  Press fingers around edges to seal completely.  You can also freeze ravioli on cookie sheet and then transfer to a freezer bag once frozen solid.  They'll stay for several months.
  4. Heat a large skillet with a drizzle of oil over medium heat.  Add ravioli in a single layer to pan and allow the bottoms to crisp, 3-4 minutes.  (frozen will take about 5-6 minutes).
  5. Add 1/4-1/3 cup of water to the pan and cover.  Steam ravioli for about 3-4 minutes before removing the lid and allowing the water to finish evaporating.
  6. Top with garlic browned butter sauce (recipe below), and a sprinkle of Parmesan and lemon zest.
    1. Add butter to a small pan and let melt over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until golden. Give the pan a swirl ever so often to check the color.
    2. Once lightly golden, add in the garlic and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.

Hope you like these are much as we do!  ENJOY!

Time capsule alert!  If you would like to see more posts on the Collingswood Market over the years, please check out the posts below!

Connect with me:
On Instagram  
Through Email
On Youtube
Comment below

As always...thanks for reading!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...