Mares Eat Oats and Does Eat Oats (a recipe for Blueberry Baked Overnight Oats)

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This week started out with a lovely day in Bodega Bay, collecting rocks, trying delicious homemade Russian Food and playing music at Russian House #1, and enjoying fresh air and a bit of light exercise. The rest of the week continued as usual with teaching, a few good workouts, and a sauna sesh. All normal things, but I’ve been extra moody this week (hello, hormones!). That’s ok, though. I like being aware because it gives me power over what I think are “my emotions”, and it also helps me to remember to have a bit of grace with myself.

Health-wise, I started seed cycling a couple weeks ago! For those of you who don’t know, seed cycling is a holistic method of balancing hormones by rotating consumption of seeds throughout your cycle. I started in the middle of my cycle with Sesame and Sunflower seeds that I made into snacks, following Natural Fit Foodie’s recipe. When I do my meal prep this week, I’m going to make the same recipe again, but with Pumpkin seeds and ground Flaxseed for the start of my next cycle. They’re great as snacks, and I love having extra superfoods in my diet!

There’s tons of information out there about seed cycling and eating for your cycle, but I love this post from Natural Fit Foodie.

https://naturalfitfoodie.com/eat-menstrual-cycle/

I could geek out on this stuff for days, but for now, on to the main event – this delicious Blueberry Baked Overnight Oats recipe (where’s the heart eyes emoji?!)

I’m back home visiting family for the weekend, and because they have NO food in the house (although there’s generally an abundance of farm fresh eggs and meyer lemons, I seriously feel like I’m foraging every time I come home! haha) I decided I needed to make a couple family sized meals so we could eat healthy meals together, and so they could have some leftovers for the start of the week. I made Fed & Fit (Cassy Joy Garcia’s) recipe for Taco Beef Casserole last night, which was a huge hit, and my own recipe for Blueberry Baked Overnight Oats for breakfast this morning. I have been loving oats this winter because they make my stomach feel settled and satisfied. They don’t always work for everyone (this recipe is not Paleo, or Keto, or Vegan, or Grain-Free), but I’m eating to feel good, and over the food fear!

There are lots of recipes out there for baked oats, but what is special about my recipe is that I used the traditional method of soaking the oats overnight to break down the phytic acid and make the oats more easily digestible. Soaking oats overnight makes them tender, which makes this recipe a bit chewy (al dente), soothing and warm, and kind of like a breakfast pudding. It can feed a family of 6 in one pan. You can tweak it to your liking. You can eat it plain, or with all the add-ons. You can have it fresh out of the oven, or make it on a Sunday and have breakfasts on-the-go for a week!

Blueberry Baked Overnight Oats:

Ingredients:

2 c. Gluten-Free Organic Rolled Oats

1 3/4 c. Water

1/4 c. Plain Kefir

A couple scoops of collagen (optional)

1 T. Ground Cinnamon

1 t. Baking Powder

1/2 t. Sea Salt

1/4 c. (or less) Raw Maple Syrup or Honey

1 t. Vanilla

2 Farm Fresh Eggs

3 T. Melted Butter

1 Pint Fresh Blueberries (or Berry of your choice!)

Instructions:

The night before, soak the oats in the water and kefir in a sealed glass dish.

In the morning, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F on the bake setting. Mix in the remaining ingredients with the soaked oats, and pour the mixture into a 9 x 5-inch buttered baking dish. Sprinkle cinnamon on the top, and bake for 35-45 minutes until set, but a little wobbly. Serve plain, or with your choice of toppings – milk or cream, toasted nuts, nut butter, maple syrup or honey, whipped cream….have fun with it!

Wishing you a restorative weekend, and a successful week ahead!

Love,

Mandie ❤

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Bubbles, Brunch, and Babies

Boy, what a whirlwind of a week it’s been! It started off with work after a family trip to the beach, but the cracks in between have been pleasantly filled with exercise, long talks in the sauna, tennis, and tea. And while in the past, Valentine’s Day has been spent bemoaning singledom, this year brought a whole week of celebrating friendship and the people I love in the most wonderful ways, with waffles, gown hunting, hand-written notes, and digging deeper in friendship (vulnerability isn’t always the easiest, but it’s so worth it).

On Tuesday, two of my best friends and I shared High Tea together at The English Rose Tea Room in Pleasanton. We made our way through tiers of treats, exchanged gifts, and got caught up with each others’ goings-on. Then came bridesmaid dress shopping for my best friend of a decade or so’s May wedding. I’m so excited to be her Maid of Honor, and I love seeing how all of the pieces of her wedding are coming together so smoothly. We both loved the very first dress I tried on, and it amazes me that we had exactly the same vision for her bridesmaid dresses.

High Tea at The English Rose Tea Room in Pleasanton, CA 

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Friday brought pedicures with my cousin while we fawned over her baby, and coffee at the little cafe I used to work at.

And Saturday was a day of adventure.

I started the day with a Les Mills Bodypump class, and a little bit of time in the sauna before making my way to Santa Rosa for a trim at my favorite salon (Ritual), and brunch at The Naked Pig with my lovely West African friend. The drive was glorious, my time at the salon was relaxing and fun, and I was so inspired to listen to Raï talk about the African festival she is putting on in San Francisco this summer. For those of you who don’t know, Raï and I met when I modeled for her several months ago in the Palo Alto French Faire. Her assistant was unable to help her out for the event, and since I was the only model who lived nearby, she met me in Napa and we rode down together. She is the kind of person whose faith and passion inspires me, and I can’t wait to see where she will go in life.

Just about the only time my hair looks put together…..after a hair cut, or for a special event!

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Lunch at The Naked Pig in Santa Rosa, CA

This is a simple, chic Farm to Fork restaurant with a fantastic brunch menu. I got the Americana – farm fresh eggs, breakfast potatoes, quality bacon, and a side salad. I also got their Wild Fermented Cider.

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Saturday ended with my first time attending the annual wine auction for the school where I teach. It was a festive evening of Champagne, lasso twirling, BBQ, and dancing, and was yet another reminder of why I love what I get to do. To be a part of such a kind and fun-loving community is an honor!

This morning started with a bang. I woke up around 1:55 am (or so) with a strange foreboding feeling, almost like I had woken up from a nightmare but I couldn’t remember what the nightmare was, and about a minute later, I hear a huge crash as the whole house began to shake…..it felt like a high speed train was roaring through the house. I threw off the covers, ready to run, but unsure of what I would be running from, or even if what I wanted to run from was real, but thankfully the quake passed quickly, and I went back to sleep after my heart stopped racing. I’m lucky that this little 3.8 Magnitude Yountville Earthquake was the biggest I’ve experienced so far, but it got me thinking…..what is the first thing I would grab if I had to leave home behind?

I am learning more and more just how important it is to prioritize relationships, and to actually live and experience life. We can store up treasures all we want, but tomorrow is not promised.

That being said, I’ve seen God answer so many prayers this year in precise detail. I asked Him for an older woman with a beautiful, peaceful oasis of a home to live with, I asked Him for a career doing what I love, I asked Him for amazing friends, a church family and home, and free time and freedom to really live life. I asked him for peace around food (still working on that one, but it’s getting there). And I asked him for time and recources to give, and to explore. Yes, it’s taken me stepping out in faith and following where He leads. Being ok with not being in control, and being ok with failing. But He is so faithful, and He cares so deeply for the desires of your heart ❤

Happy Sunday.

Love,

Mandie

Hungarian Cabbage Roll Soup

Ok, following through with my commitment to myself to write something once a week…..

Today is an unusual day for me. I took the day off from teaching back home in Newcastle because tonight I have a Gatsby themed ball at the studio I’ve been taking Ballroom Dance lessons at. I’ll be dancing Cha Cha, Salsa, Rhumba, Waltz, Tango, and Samba! A long list, and I don’t feel prepared, but I know I’ll have fun anyway!

I’m feeling much more intuitive about what to eat and how to move my body lately, and I love not putting a label on my diet. I eat real food. And dark chocolate. If there’s a birthday party or a special event with dessert, I’ll eat the dessert if I want it. More often than not, I’m finding that I don’t, because I like feeling good. I have 4 slices of Tartine Bakery’s Chocolate Soufflé’ Cake from my birthday that I haven’t touched, for goodness’ sake! I know the time will come when I’ll want a slice, and it will be there for me then. But it feels so good to crave whole foods in moderate portions, and not feel like food rules me.

Anyway, last week I was craving a soup inspired by my family’s Hungarian Cabbage Rolls. I love soups in the winter, and once a week I’ve been concocting soups and stews in my brand new, beautiful Staub. A nice big pot of soup gives me inexpensive dinners for a whole week. They’re soothing, and I like that I can be in control of what goes in them. This is what I came up with after a bit of tweaking, and I really enjoyed it!

Hungarian Cabbage Roll Soup

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Ingredients:

A few tablespoons of Salted Butter (I used the little bit of TJ’s French Cultured Butter I had left, as well as some good ol’ Kerrygold!

A drizzle of EVOO

1 Organic Yellow Onion, chopped

Several cloves of Garlic (If you’re Italian like me, that means the whole head), minced

1 lb. Protein (I used TJ’s Grass-fed Ground Beef, but this would taste great with a combination of beef and pork, which is what my family uses in our Cabbage Roll recipe)

Smoked Paprika (I used TJ’s, because I forgot to bring back some for myself when I was in Budapest a couple summers ago *distressed cry* – but the Smoked stuff was super yummy)

Sea Salt and Pepper to taste (use your judgement)

1 large can of Organic Diced Tomatoes (I used TJ’s because I basically live there)

3 bags of TJ’s (again) Shredded Green Cabbage

About 1/4 c. Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar with The Mother

2 Cartons of Kettle and Fire Bone Broth (I used Chicken, because it’s what I had in the pantry, but next time I’ll use Beef)

You could also add white rice, which is something else we put in our Cabbage Rolls, but I omitted it this go around, because I generally have my grain in the form of Oats, or a Sweet Potato with breakfast. Personal Preference.

Toppings:

Raw Sauerkraut

Organic Sour Cream

MORE PAPRIKA, OF COURSE

To Make:

Sautée the Onions and Garlic in the Butter and EVOO (if you have people in the house, they’ll start asking what’s for dinner now). Add in your protein. Season with Paprika, Salt, and Pepper. Cook. Add in the Cabbage, Tomatoes, Rice (if using), and top it all with two cartons of Bone Broth and the ACV. Let it simmer covered for an hour and a half or so. Taste, and add more seasoning if needed.

Serve with a dollop of Organic Sour Cream, a spoonful of Raw Sauerkraut, and a dash of Paprika.

Simple, Soothing, and Yummy!

Enjoy!

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New Seasons

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Boy, it’s been awhile since I’ve written here! I have lacked motivation to write. I originally started this blog to document my weight loss journey, and while I still desperately want to release some excess weight, I have found my priorities shift over the past couple years.

When I first started this blog, I thought I knew it all. All the tricks of the trade. But the more I learn, the more I realize I actually have no idea what I’m doing. What works for me might not necessarily work for you, and if we’re being honest, I don’t even know what works for me yet! I’ll just keep searching and learning and hope that someday I’ll get it all figured out, and if I can be a source of encouragement to someone else, then I will consider myself successful.

I don’t really have a plan for this post. I just felt a need to write. About my journey, priorities, hopes and dreams. My priorities have shifted over the past few years. It is no longer just about the number on the scale, and I’m not living each week to see that number go down at my weekly weigh-in. Not for lack of wanting to be thinner, or for lack of a desire to shed excess physical and emotional weight, but out of understanding that these things take time to be done in a healthy, sustainable way.  It’s now about preparing a week’s worth of healthy, nourishing meals on a budget. It’s about getting good sleep, taking long walks, and having inspiring conversations. It’s about learning, playing, and cultivating friendships. Balancing hormones. Spending time with Jesus. Holding on to hope and joy. And being at peace with the fact that, try as I might to be in control, most things are out of my hands, and it’s much more fun to just relax and see what comes.

So that’s where I’m at right now. The last 6 months have been a wild ride for me, a new home, new work, and new community turning my life upside down and testing my mettle. I have been forced to rest, and forced to sit with myself and examine who I am, but I have also been presented with countless opportunities to start working on growing into the woman I want to be. It’s been an adventure – full of miracles, challenges, new friends and family, and new ways of doing life, and I can’t wait to see where the journey will take me next.

My dream for this blog is to be vulnerable, to share my struggles and victories with you, and to encourage you to be a conqueror in your life. To share what I’m learning and experimenting with so that maybe it can be useful to you. And to connect. Because how much more fun could life be if we did it together?

And now for a bit about my latest experiments…..

Daysy:

I started charting my cycles with Daysy several months ago after dealing with extremely low energy and feeling “wired and tired” at night for several months. I approached this as an observation. I would see where I was at, and how I could tweak things. I also had an extensive hormone panel done at the same time which revealed some cortisol imbalances (nothing way off, but definitely improvements to be made). I have suspected Hypothyroidism, but I’m waiting to test for that, because I am already experiencing a huge increase in energy and vitality just through tweaking a few lifestyle factors.

I absolutely love my Daysy. She sits in my nightstand drawer, and checking in with her each morning forces me to observe where I am in my cycle. If she’s flashing green with the purple bar, I know I’m nearing the end of my Luteal phase and shouldn’t take myself too seriously. Or maybe just retreat to my bed with dark chocolate and a movie. Or have a bit of grace with myself if I’m feeling famished for no good reason. I was also able to learn through Daysy that my BBT (Basal Body Temperature) is on the low side, which I have been able to slowly raise, but I’m still working on that.

For more information on Daysy, visit http://www.usa.daysy.me

For more information on raising metabolism and BBT, check out Matt Stone at http://www.180degreehealth.com

Coming from a history of dieting and trying “all the things”, I have a hard time applying everything Matt Stone teaches, but a lot of it makes sense, and just incorporating a few foods I avoided like the plague into my diet (fruit and oats, and occasionally rice), and being ok with resting when I need it has raised my average BBT by 1 degree.

Supplements:

I’ve been taking a small handful of supplements, just to make sure I’m covering my bases. Vitamin D and K2, a prenatal (always, for hair, skin, and nails!), Dr. Becky Campbell’s Adrenal Support, New Chapter Zyflamend for inflammation, and 2 capsules of Royal Maca. If you’re feeling low on energy, try Maca. Seriously. I also recently started taking liquid iodine to support the Thyroid, and I like to take Natural Calm at night, but sometimes it takes me awhile to buy it again when I run out, so I’m not super consistent with that. In February I’ll be trying out a new prenatal, and also incorporating a women’s Probiotic, so we’ll see how that goes!

Lifestyle and Exercise:

Since my move to Napa, I’ve had to re-discover what works for me fitness-wise. I was in a groove with my personal trainer and group fitness classes at my gym back home, but for some reason I was hesitant to join a gym here in Napa. I’ve tried just going for walks, CrossFit, streaming Lekfit online, home workouts, and taking ballroom dance lessons, but I was not able to be consistent with any of those. CrossFit felt like way too much for me and where I’m at right now, and everything else didn’t feel like it gave me a good enough workout. So, I joined a gym, and I love it. The group classes, the community atmosphere, and use of a sauna. Ohhhh the sauna! I also try to get outside for a good hike as often as I can. So, if I have any advice to give on fitness, just find what you love, and get moving. Don’t force yourself to do something that doesn’t feel right just because everyone else says it’s the best thing in the world. You’ll know when you’ve found what’s right for you 🙂

I think that’s enough for now. I wish you hot tea and beautiful books on this stormy Sunday, a successful and blessed week ahead, and a marvelous February, bursting with love and joy! I’d love to connect, so feel free to join my private Facebook group Cupcakes and Conquerors, or follow me on IG where I like to share my cooking and adventures.

XOXO

Mandie