Life Cycles

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I meant to write last weekend, but never got around to it. Life has been so full lately that I’ve barely had a moment to myself. Daily journaling is being squeezed into cracks of time, and what was once a weekly meal prep day has become piecemeal cooking, and packing charcuterie for lunch because at this point in my life, I’d rather spend my time with people than cooking for myself. Interesting how there are seasons in life, and how quickly they can change.  I’m definitely not complaining though, these rituals that were my pillars this time last year have been pleasantly replaced with friendship and adventure, two things I was fervently praying for.

The start of March brought a whirlwind of activities, in addition to my Menstrual Phase, as well as a resurgence of some yearly cyclical battles. An absolutely fantastic combination of wonderful and frustrating (I am being a bit sarcastic here), causing me to feel so grateful for my life and all I’ve experienced one day, and like I’d just rather not the next. Thankfully though, through all of the self study I’ve done over the past couple years, I’m able to pinpoint hormonal fluctuations and how they affect my mood and emotions, which gives me both grace for myself, and insight to ask for grace from others when I need it.

This weekend brought brand new life and the promise of Spring through the birth of two kids back on the family farm. A little boy, and a little girl. They are velvety soft, and absolutely irresistible. If you ever feel lost or confused in life, visit a farm and ask to play with the babies. There’s just something so peaceful and inspiring about the dirt, the fresh air, and watching the animals.

I’m looking forward to this coming season, despite how scattered and uncertain I feel. Even now, I have been desperately trying to focus in and get some studying done, but I just can’t seem to put my mind to it! Maybe it’s this glorious sunshine?!

Regarding health stuff, I have been feeling fantastic! I completed one whole cycle of seed cycling, and I’m about halfway through my second rotation. I’ll be sharing some thoughts and recipes as I learn more, but one thing that I’ve found interesting is that the seed cycling snacks I’ve made have been THE MOST satisfying thing I’ve eaten. And it makes me believe that there must be some benefit to nourishing our bodies on a hormonal level! I’ll be finishing up Pumpkin and Flax, and starting back on Sunflower and Sesame this coming Thursday.

For awhile, when I went back home to visit family, I was noticing that coffee (a homemade Americano with cream) was giving me jitters, so this weekend I tried adding a scoop of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides to my morning coffee, and guess what?! No jitters! Give it a try if you like your coffee, but don’t always like how it makes you feel 🙂

I think that’s all for now. Honestly, sometimes I feel a bit ridiculous writing here. Especially days like these when I feel like I have absolutely nothing of importance to say. I have no idea who actually reads these posts, and I am often afraid of what people might think of me when I share my inner thoughts and my nerdy experiments. However, my hope is that by sharing my journey, I’ll be able to connect with others on similar paths.

I hope this post finds you well and with a successful week ahead of you ❤

Love,

Mandie

 

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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 ❤

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

Sweet Serendipity

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Serendipity (noun): Finding something good without looking for it.

Here I am looking back on a lovely weekend spent in Laguna Beach, celebrating the marriage of an old friend. Dehydrated, because I refused to drink much water during the drive there and back. Having caffeine withdrawals because I’m in the midst of hormone testing, for self-study. Severely lacking sleep from a weekend of adventure. And so wishing I didn’t have to come home so soon!

To be honest, I was a bit nervous about this trip, being my first big solo road trip. Whether it was fear of being alone with myself or something else, I decided to just let it be what it was, and enjoy the time I had to just be me, and enjoy my life exactly where it was. And that’s always how it is. When fear and expectation are dismissed, fun and adventure take their place.

I spent the time on the road listening to podcasts and music, and packed a few munchies (A Hu Kitchen Salty Chocolate Bar, Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars, Epic Bars, and some pre-measured baggies of dry roasted and salted Almonds from Trader Joes – and I have lots leftover for my trip to Glendora this weekend!).

I could have done without most of the scenery, but I did enjoy the drive through the Grapevine, remembering the story my dad always told me, about the little Watermelon truck that ran out of water and almost didn’t make it through the Grapevine. The little truck used the Watermelon juice as a substitute. Whether he meant it to be or not, my dad’s story represented perseverance and hope, and I looked forward to hearing it during the numerous trips my family took to Laguna Beach while getting ideas for our Laguna Beach-designed family home. And of course, the first sight of the ocean always gives me butterflies!

Friday evening welcomed in the most brilliant sunset, and a lightning and thunderstorm, so I spent the evening in a big fluffy bathrobe with room service for dinner, and a sheet mask. The Ranch at Laguna Beach treated me well. Rated one of the National Geographic’s “Unique Lodges of the World”, it was a little oasis tucked back in the hills with a beautiful beach trail, and the most comfy bed I’ve ever slept in.

A rainy Saturday morning put a hold on my plans to be a beach bum, but I decided to make the most of it. So I sat outside and enjoyed the rain and a cappuccino, omelette, and mini croissant at Moulin for breakfast (I chose a mini pastry because, while I’m not necessarily following a certain dietary “plan” right now, I do set guidelines for myself based on what I know helps me feel good, and I knew I wanted wedding cake later!). I didn’t deny myself, but I also didn’t give in to every whim. Something I’m still learning.

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The rest of the morning was spent walking up every street I could, peeking in to every open shop, and soaking it all up (quite literally too). I even stumbled upon the Laguna Beach Farmer’s Market where I discovered some fun local flavors to take home! My favorites were Zukkee Bakery, which specializes in Gluten Free/Vegan/Paleo baked goods, and Brodino Broth Co. I got Zukkee Bakery’s Gluten Free Granola, and after chatting with them for a bit, they GAVE me a loaf of their Gluten Free Paleo bread to take home! It’s in my freezer now, and I can’t wait to pull it out and try it! I loved Brodino Broth Co.’s focus on clean, anti-inflammatory, and nutrient dense ingredients, and beautiful marketing. And I enjoyed the opportunity of meeting the owner! I plan to make a soup with the broth in the next couple weeks, and I’ll share my finds from both these companies as I enjoy them 🙂

My afternoon ended with a walk on the beach, and lunch at the Harvest Restaurant at my hotel before getting ready for Sarah and Ben’s wedding!

I wore a gorgeous West African dress designed by Raï Somdah, owner of Raïdah Designs, who I modeled for a few weeks ago. I loved her dresses so much that she invited me over for a fitting, a home cooked lunch, and a lot of fun. My make up and hair was done by Belo Blow Dry Bar in Laguna Beach. An adorable upper-level style bar. Needless to say, I had a blast.

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Sarah and Ben’s wedding took place at Seven Degrees in Laguna Canyon, and it was a dreamy night. I’ve known Sarah since we met at music camp when we were about 10/11, and it was so special to witness her big day, and see how her personality and style were represented in every detail. While the ceremony was reverent and intimate, taking place on the terrace under the moonlight and Chinese lanterns, it was so incredibly joyful, and the whole night thereafter was full of dancing and champagne, celebration and fun! And, it was the first time in many, many years that our childhood “sisterhood” was all together. You can bet there was reminiscing!

Sunday morning was spent with a coffee from Moulin, and one last walk on the beach. A trip down memory lane with all the songs I own on shuffle, and ticking off another bucket list item – visiting Sweet Laurel and the brand new Palisades Village!

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An absolute dream. I looked around the Zimmermann store to feel beautiful dresses I’ve been dying to see in person, explored new shops, and finally got to see Sweet Laurel in person! Sweet Laurel is my most highly recommended cookbook for Grain Free, Dairy Free, and Refined Sugar Free baked goods. I’ve made many recipes from the book (mainly for my dad, who is a desserts fiend, but who has recently taken to a lifestyle change), and every single one has been divine – chocolate chip cookies, chocolate fudge cake, brownies, maple pecan coffee cake……And, after following Sweet Laurel on Instagram and seeing updates on the very first storefront location, I knew I had to visit! It was everything I imagined it to be, and I enjoyed a slice of Lemon Coconut Cake on the lawn. I was even considering asking to franchise on the drive home! j/k, but seriously…..we need one of these in Napa!

Life is not easy, but the nice bits can be pure magic, if you let them be. Stay open to all the adventures in store for you, and don’t forget to enjoy them when they come 😉

“Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.” -St. Augustine

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Overnight Oat Pumpkin Pancakes

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Happy Sunday!

I can’t wait to share with you this recipe I created for Overnight Oat Pumpkin Pancakes! With Autumn setting in, I’ve been craving all the seasonal fruits and veggies, and Oats in particular for some reason.

I very rarely eat grains, but after doing some research on the health benefits of Oats (and the fact that my body seems to want them!), I have decided that I will try to come up with ways to include them in my diet (moderately), while preparing them traditionally.

Traditionally, grains were soaked which neutralizes the lectins in the grains, and makes them easier to digest. For this recipe, I soaked Oat Flour in home-cultured goat’s milk Kefir, which gave the pancakes a mild tang, sort of like Sourdough!

You can use Oat Flour alone, or use a combination of Oat Flour as well as rolled oats.

My recipe is a mashup of my cravings and two recipes – one I found online, and the Pancake recipe in the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Ingredients:

1 C. Oat Flour

1 C. GF Oats

2 C. Kefir (you could also use yoghurt, or water with lemon juice or ACV if you have a dairy sensitivity)

2 Eggs (I used duck eggs)

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. Baking Soda

2 T. melted Butter

1 c. Pumpkin Purée

2 T. Pure Maple Syrup

1.5 tsp. Vanilla

1/4 tsp. Nutmeg

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

A dash of Ginger

A dash of Cloves

Directions:

Mix the Oats, Oat Flour, and Kefir together thoroughly in a glass bowl with a lid. Let sit 12-24 hours in a warm place.

Add the remaining ingredients one-by-one, incorporating well.

Spoon the mixture onto a 400 degree griddle greased with Butter or Coconut Oil (or, if you’re cooking bacon as a side, use the fat!).

Serve with toppings of your choice! I used a bit of Butter, and an unsweetened compote I made (literally just frozen mixed berries cooked down in a saucepan!).

*Approximate* Nutrition Information per pancake, toppings excluded (the recipe made about 17 pancakes, using a large-ish cookie dough scooper).

Calories: 85.3

Protein: 2.8g

Net Carbs: 9.8g

Fat: 3.2g

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Strawberry Shortcakes

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful Moms out there! Whether you mother children of your own, or through foster care/adoption, if you mother children through teaching, if or if you mother a company or a business, you are worthy of honor!

I decided to cook for my family as my gift to my mom this Mother’s Day. Food is our family’s love language, but where I would have made conventional meals in past years, it has become increasingly important to focus on foods that will nourish us and promote vitality, as my mom and I need to support our bodies for long work days, physical training (for me), managing the family farm (her), and as my dad is at the tail end of some health battles.

Through my weight loss journey over the past several years, I have gone through ups and downs with the scale and my emotions in search of a way of living and eating that works for me. There’s so much information out there that sometimes it can be so overwhelming to see through it all to truth. And there are a lot of things that have worked for other people that just might not work for me or you. Believe me, I’ve tried a lot of them! But, I am so excited to finally be in a place of peace. To have found a way of eating that I absolutely love. One of moderation, variety, beauty, and simplicity. I have reached a place where I spend only as much time in the kitchen as I’d like to (no more slaving away at stressful meal prep), and I am eating delicious, nutrient dense food. Stress-free. No doubt I will make a shift at some point, but I am content where I’m at now.

One of the many books I’ve read that helped guide me to this place is “Thin From Within” by Robyn Youkilis. Somehow I started following her on Instagram, ordered her book, and just felt so much peace about how I want to live my life. Her book is beautifully written, encouraging, soft, intuitive, and full of gorgeous recipes that I am falling in love with. I just ordered her first book, “Go With Your Gut”, and I absolutely cannot wait to read it!

So, for a little pre-Mother’s Day celebration, I made dinner of wild Alaskan salmon fillets baked in tinfoil with garlic and kerrygold butter, oven roasted balsamic asparagus, baked sweet potato, and a little side salad of arugula. For dessert, I made Robyns Strawberry Shortcakes! These are packed with coconut oil, farm fresh eggs, and berries I picked up from the market yesterday from a local farm, and my family loved them! I highly recommend you order her book once it is back in stock 😉

I started this morning with active play (for me, that means dance!), a trip to the market for half and half for my coffee, and made breakfast. I made Robyn’s recipe for Activated Corn Cakes (which I started yesterday), and topped them with goat milk yogurt and berries. Served with a side of uncured bacon. It’s this kind of cooking – preparing ingredients, taking time to make a meal look beautiful, and using ingredients collected from local farms and markets – that is truly enjoyable.

 

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A Daydreamer’s Guide to Natural Beauty

I absolutely love all things beautiful. Rose Gardens, Castles, Wildflowers in a meadow. Evening gowns and romance, tea parties and Parisian cafes. I adore beautiful artwork and intricate architecture, and the rugged beauty of a wild, Northern coastline. It is my mission in life to use what I’ve been given to the best of my ability. I’m not perfect, but here are some things I’ve found that make me feel lovely.

Make Up:

For Natural, Rosy matte lips, I absolutely adore Charlotte Tilbury’s “Pillow Talk” Lipstick (pictured above). I originally found it from a Blogger I follow, Lauryn Evarts Bosstick. I ordered it and immediately fell in love! It is a lovely “English Rose” tint for day-to-night, especially if “Natural” is your look, but still luxurious, feminine, and elegant!

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As far as other things go, I’m still figuring the whole make up thing. I go very minimal-to-none for my teaching days (students really freak out if you show up without makeup after wearing it all the time) and gym days (Kudos to the ladies who go to the gym made up, though. I don’t know how you do it.), and dress it up on an evening out with a bronze-y smokey eye, or a shimmery look. If any of you are make up experts and want to do a girls’ day make up class, let me know!

Skincare:

Pit Detoxes!!! I started detoxing my pits about once a month-ish (although it’s petered out a bit since my pits don’t ever stink!). The recipe I have been using comes from http://www.wellnessmama.com and consists of Bentonite Clay, Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, and a little water. Check out her website and search “armpit detox” for her recipe. Add armpit detoxes to your spa nights for a boost in health and freshness.

And then after you detox your pits, don’t put chemicals on them!! Your pits will be so squeaky clean that you won’t even need that antiperspirant! And we’re meant to sweat for a reason! I’ve tried lots of natural deodorants, but my favorite so far is from http://www.whiskeyinkandlace.com – their products are mainly for men (lots of beard oils and the like), but I get their “The Lady Natural Deodorant”. It goes on smooth, is light, and lasts FOREVER. I seriously can’t remember the last time I bought a stick! Major money saver right there!

GET A FACIAL! Go to your local privately owned salon. They’re not as expensive as you think. And the advice of a professional really helps. I was poking around in the dark for a long time, using products for problems I didn’t actually have. And although I am not immune to the occasional hormonal/stress/diet breakouts, my skin is in the best condition it ever has!

Dry Brush. Seriously. If you want baby’s butt soft skin, and to feel revitalized every day, dry brush before you shower or bathe. Look up how to use it, because you want to brush in different directions depending on which part of your body you are brushing. Mainly, your strokes to be in the direction of you heart.

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Moisturizer: Don’t spend a fortune on lotion. Use Coconut Oil. I keep a jar of it in my room, and it is the most amazing feeling to step out of a bath, freshly brushed, and apply some coconut oil.

Also, JET LAG MASK. This is a new product released about a month or so ago by Summer Fridays. It is available on their website, and through Sephora. I apply this mask when my skin needs a dose of hydration, and when I use it, I wake up with dewy, plump skin. Love it.

Hair Care:

One day a month, do a 24-hour coconut oil mask. Slather your hair with coconut oil, go about your business, and let the coconut oil do its magic. Don’t blow dry your hair all the time. I spent years blowdrying my hair every day, and my hair hated me for it! Find a nice little styling cream, or a leave-in spray. I like the suggestions my hairdresser gave me – Bumble and Bumble’s Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil UV Protectant Spray, and Don’t Blow It cream. Of course, I’ll blow dry and style my hair for a night out or a special event, or pay a visit to Drybar for a mimosa and a blowout, but there’s just no need to put your hair under so much stress every day 🙂

Baths:

A great way to wind down after a long day, or soothe sore muscles after a workout is through an Epsom Salt Bath! I like to add a few drops each of Bergamot, Lavender, and Frankincense Oil. Mess around with some of your own favorite essential oils. Add Lavender. Or a few bags of Green Tea or Chamomile Tea (another favorite of mine!). Light some candles, turn on some light music, and bring a good book with you. Lately my baths have been my only reading time. I have a stack sitting on my bathroom scale, and I’ll choose one based on my mood.

Embrace your natural beauty! Have fun with make up, take good care of your skin, eat well, get a sweat in every day, smile, and always remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are a treasure, a diamond in the rough! And you are capable of anything you put your heart to!

Also, I’m always on the search for natural beauty tips and tricks! What are some of yours?

 

 

Protein Packed Breakfast Bake

I know, sometimes it can be ridiculously hard to get going in the morning! Starting the day off right can be challenging if you have to be out the door for work, or if you fit in your workouts in the morning. With my crazy schedule, I struggle enough trying to fit in everything I HAVE to do, let alone squeezing in some fun outings, hobbies, or social time! Which is why I’m so excited about recipes like these that can be made ahead and taken on-the-go!

I found this recipe for a make-ahead Breakfast Bake/Casserole from Dr. Beth Westie who is a Chiropractor and Women’s Health and Nutrition Expert. I originally discovered her through the Vibrant Happy Women Podcast, and loved her energy, excitement, and passion for helping women support their hormones. Her original recipe calls for ground turkey, but I went with ground pork to support the second half of my cycle, or my Progesterone phase. Dr. Beth Westie talks about using whole foods to support the Female cycle. I still have a lot to learn on this subject, but I’m excited to start experimenting!

So here’s the recipe…..

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp Coconut Oil (I didn’t need it because there was plenty of fat in the Ground Pork)

1 Lb Ground Turkey (Or Pork, etc.)

12 Large Eggs

1 small Sweet Potato peeled and sliced thin (I used a Japanese purple sweet potato because that’s what I had on hand!)

1 cup Baby Spinach

Salt and Pepper for Seasoning

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9×9 baking dish with coconut oil as well as heat the 1 Tbsp in a medium sized skillet set to medium-high heat (I did not need the coconut oil using ground pork). Add the ground meat and season with S&P. Continue to cook the meat until it begins to brown. While the meat is cooking, peel and slice the sweet potato. I used a Mandoline to make sure my slices were even and thin. Line the bottom of your greased baking dish with the sweet potato slices. Beat the eggs with a whisk and season with S&P (I added a little bit of Cayenne pepper to heat things up – Dr. Beth suggests adding spices during the Progesterone Phase which is Day 14-28 of your cycle). Top the sweet potatoes with the cooked ground meat, then pour the eggs on top, and layer with Spinach! My spinach got crispy, so I think I’ll sneak the spinach in with the ground meat next time! Place the dish in the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes or until the edges of the egg begin to brown and the casserole is firm throughout. I was able to get 6 fist-ish sized slices out of mine which means 6 breakfasts I don’t have to think about this week! Yay! Thanks Dr. Beth!!

Greased Baking Dish lined with Japanese Purple Sweet Potato Slices.

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Trader Joe’s Ground Pork.

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Eggs!

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Spinach!

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And done! Bon Appetit!

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