Friday, November 28, 2008

212- The Extra Degree

For you metrics out there, this should read 100-The extra degree. You'll see why when you view this video. How much more do you have to give, to get what you want?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm feelin good- How are you?

I had the limitless pleasure of attending one of Julio Olalla's speaking engagements a few weeks ago. Check him out on utube:

One of the features of his session which struck me were his comments on assessments. He posed the question "How much of your time is taken up with assessing? Assessing him, her, you, me?" And it got me thinking- I've actually got to spend some time with Jullio one-on-one and he has incredible mental capacity, intelligence and stamina. One reason why he can speak so eloquently, and think so creatively is that he has freed himself of the mental habit of assessments.
How much more space would you have in your mind if you eliminated the thoughts on how thin/fat, pretty/ugly, stupid/smart, incompetent/capable you or others were? Even silly ones like judging the color of that women's coat or his shoes unnecessarily limits your capacity for brilliant, intelligence and purposeful thinking.
Since his session I have caught my assessment thoughts more easily- but stopping them is an ongoing labour. I do guarantee you that even the awareness of each thought judging others or yourself will enable you to free yourself from them. So begin right can start by stop assessing this post. :)
Enjoy your day, your afternoon, evening...your life!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Busy Hands, Busy Mind

My life is in a different sphere right now; my partner is in Las Vegas for a week and I am left with restless nights, and time on my hands. My care-taker personality is lost- absurdly out of control. Who can I channel all this energy towards? Who can I make breakfast- I'll take it over to Megan's! Doesn't my friend Irena need a casserole? Yes, she absolutely needs a huge casserole...PH! and Amber could use some cookies. STOP! How about taking care of yourself for a week?
I've gotten up every morning, and done a walking meditation on my treadmill. 45 min of incline walking at a very brisk pace (to do it yourself- put the treadmill on an incline of about 7, and speed of 3.5-4.0 mph). Concentrating on breathing, soft music, the river of thoughts in my head or this morning chanting I've gotten the activity I need with the clarity of spirit I often don't make time for. Also, I've included reading, for the first time, yoga publications. I picked up Yoga Fit and Yoga Journal when I was gasping for something to fill the void of time I have this week. Straying from my usual Oxygen mag addiction has had great payoffs. I'll share some insights soon. For now, I leave you with this meditative chant on Remembrance Day.
Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shantihi (Om, peace, peace, peace)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cakey Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Astounding- that's what these were. They are my first cookie success with gluten free baking. I had to ask my family to leave a few for me at Thanksgiving this year because they were the only gluten free snack in my sister-in-laws house. Everybody liked them. I like large fat cookies- not crispy thin ones. These were more like little cakes, so I was pleased, and my crispy-thin lovin' husband was a little put out that I made another fat cakey cookie- but I saw him eating a few.

Cakey Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free)
½ cup grapeseed oil (or 1/2c butter)
1 cup splenda
½ cup turbinado sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4c gluten free flour mix
1 ¼ tsp xanthan gum
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
Mix together wet ingredients
Mix together dry ingredients and add to wet mixture.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Easy, Healthful Midweek Dinner Party

Menu: Totally gluten free of course!
Pecan, Cranberry, Brown Rice stuffed Chicken Breast
Peppers and Zucchini with Truffle Oil
Kale Sautéed with Mustard
Pecan, Cranberry, Brown Rice stuffed Chicken Breast
Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a casserole dish with olive oil, for non-stick.
4 fresh chicken breast, butterflied and flattened for rolling (I wrap the chicken breast in plastic wrap after butterflying, and use a meat tenderizer to flatten)
Olive oil
1/4c chopped coarsely pecans
1/4c chopped coarsely dried cranberries (fresh would be grand too!)
1 1/2 c cooked brown rice, cold
1 T rosemary
1 t basil
salt & pepper
kitchen string (if desired) or toothpicks for fastening rolled breasts
Mix together everything but the chicken breasts and olive oil. Rub chicken breasts with olive oil, then salt and pepper. May season with additional basil and rosemary if you wish. Place 1/4c stuffing mixture in center of each chicken breast, roll the breast around the mixture and secure with string or toothpicks. Place seam side to the side in the baking dish. Cook uncovered for 35 min, remove from oven and cover. Let stand for 5-10 min before serving.
While the chicken is cooking, begin your vegetables. Make sure you have two large pans ready to saute these healthy, vibrant dishes.
Peppers and Zucchini with Truffle Oil
1 yellow bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 medium zucchini
3 fresh garlic cloves, chopped finely or minced
1T Truffle oil
Olive oil (or other neutral oil, such as grapeseed)
salt & pepper
Slice vegetables into thin strips- remember to scrub them under luke warm water to clean before (I do it after too) chopping. Heat oil in pan over medium heat, add garlic. Add vegetables and lightly saute until just tender. Remove from heat and let cool. Drizzle truffle oil over vegetables, and salt and pepper to your taste. Serve at room temperature.
Kale Sautéed with Mustard
1 bunch fresh kale
2 T mustard seeds
1 T coconut oil
Wash kale thoroughly, bugs and dirt can easily hide in the leafy greens. Remove stalks and chop or tear leaves into bite-sized strips. Heat coconut oil in saute pan over medium-high heat, add mustard seeds. Continue to warm oil and mustard until seeds begin to pop and the mixture is aromatic. Add Kale and saute gently until the leaves just wilt. Serve warm.

There-done! Easy. This came out of a last minute dinner party my husband asked me to serve mid-week. Normally I would do a 4 course meal for a dinner party, using similar simple and healthy recipes, but maybe more elaborate and higher in presentation points. But this did just great for last minute. I really relied on the natural texture and taste of the vegetables, so if you do so also, make sure you get the freshest produce- you'll find you cook with less sugary and fatty additions and sauces if you like the taste of your fresh veggies. Also, the stuffing, using brown rice instead of bread crumbs, was entirely gluten free and whole-grain. It's pretty high in natural fat and natural sugars, so it's not something I would use daily, but as a nice treat- it was grand.

Now, one little snag- a lovely little dancing princess attended this party with her parents and did not warm up to my funny vegetables (although the chicken flew-not in so many words). So I made her a fun plate of crudités or raw vegetable strips and chunks. Cutting cucumbers with a wavy cutter gave them some character- and cutting carrots into bit-sized coins rather than sticks made finger-eating easy. Also, peppers were chopped into square chunks, rather than strips- also to give them character and dipping potential. Served with a light italian dressing- this little princess stopped dancing long enough to have more than a few fancy vegetables.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Pumpkin Surprise Muffins

I got a pumpkin this year, from Planet Organic, and named him Brewster. For those of you who were a wild child of the 80's you totally get Pumpkin Brewster. Anyway, Brewster will be made into soup but his cousin Peter came in a can and was made into these cream-cheese filled gluten free pumpkin muffins. I used Gluten Free Bay's recipe for the muffin, and simply whipped one 8oz package of cream cheese with 1 egg, 1/2c sugar and 1tsp vanilla for the inner cream filling. To fill muffins easily with cream cheese, put the mixture into a ziploc bag, cut the bottom corner of the bag and get ready for some fillin. Spoon the muffin cups 1/2 full of batter, then squeeze some cream mixture out of the bag into the middle of the batter, and fill the muffin cups to the top with more batter.
I wouldn't use this recipe again, or perhaps I wouldn't take them on a 5 hour drive, store them in the freezing cold weather outside on the porch in a not-so-air-tight cupcake taker for an evening and day before serving them for dessert. They were, of course, rather dry by that time.
What are you doing with your pumpkin? How did those Jack-o-lantern's turn out?
I have a super duper gluten free pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe on it's way.
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I have chosen to be in a foul mood for days now; actually for a week now. I have said that to myself during this time: "I am choosing to be a prune right now" and taken quiet satisfaction in my gloom. Like Eyeore, I reveled in my rain clouds. The results have been shocking; do you know how much your mood affects what actually happens to you? I had no idea until I took stock of my last week. I was jolted out of my blue reverie by an overwhelming show of gratitude- I received three thank you notes and gifts today- unbelievable! So I thought I had to choose to let go of my pruny mood.
My blues resulted in speaking out of turn in a board meeting and the repercussions of doing so (not severe, but for my normally serene mood all present were speechless and shocked). Next, a communication break-down between myself and a colleague created tension which previously did not exist (still working to fix it). Finally, exhaustion, stress and that terrible, selfish feeling of "I'm doing everything, and not getting a darn thing in return- so I quit!". Now that I reflect, I know that if I had taken these instances with an attitude of detachment and observation- none of them would have fed a gloomy disposition and feelings of unfairness. It's all in perspective. Too often, when results do not meet our objectives we look at changing the actions we took to get there, rather than the perspective we began with.
So thank you Universe, and that means you blog reader- for caring for me even while I stepped under a grey sky and shot lighting bolts from my eyes. Thank you for shocking me out of it, with an overwhelming show of support and generosity. I serve to give it back to you.