What are your intentions for 2015?

I love being on the cusp of the new year. It feels like the slate has been wiped clean and anything is possible. I always give thought to what I would like to accomplish in the coming year. Sometimes it’s one or two simple things, but most years I dream big. I often dream too big, without thought to how many hours are actually available for all of the things I want to tackle. I’ve learned to be more reasonable with my time and try to keep my intentions achievable.

This year I categorized my intentions by the element they most related to – earth, air, fire, water or spirit. It was a good check to make sure my plans will keep me balanced. It’s great to want to have a hugely successful career, but if it doesn’t leave time for creativity or exercise or spiritual pursuits it might not be worth it. When you look ahead, are you thinking about balance?

Below is a summary of my intentions for 2015. They all are much more specific, of course. Each has a deadline and is achievable and measurable. For example, “I will complete my work, pass the final test and graduate from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition on February 22, 2015, after which I will be a fully certified holistic health coach.” With intentions like that, I can easily track my progress and remember what I need to schedule time for.

Intentions 2015

What are your intentions for 2015? I’d love it if you would share some in the comments below, or link to your own post about your plans for the new year.

Gratitude Affirmations for Thanksgiving or any day

Repeating affirmations changes your thoughts. If you are cultivating an attitude of gratitude today, here are some affirmations to try.

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My sugar and grain-free Thanksgiving

I’m trying hard to maintain my clean-eating lifestyle through the holidays. It’s not easy. Besides the turkey, my family’s usual Thanksgiving menu is loaded with flour and refined sugar. This year we have the added challenge of including some vegan-friendly selections.

If you are looking for some no sugar, paleo, GAPS diet friendly additions to your Thanksgiving meal, browse the recipes I tried this year.

Most cranberry sauce recipes are made with sugar. I was happy to find this paleo version on Amazing!Paleo. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of raw honey, but that seemed too sweet for me so I cut it in half. It’s tart, but good.

Paleo Cranberry Sauce

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 15 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Paleo Cranberry SauceIngredients:
1 pound fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1/4 cup honey (raw honey if you can get it)
1/8 teaspoon allspice

  1. Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, honey and allspice in a saucepan. Heat on medium, stirring, until the honey melts. The juices will be lightly simmering.
  2. Add the cranberries and continue to stir.
  3. The cranberries will begin to pop. (Keep stirring or they will pop all over your stovetop.) Continue cooking until all the cranberries have popped and the sauce has thickened. (Will take 5 to 10 minutes.)
  4. Let sauce cool in refrigerator and serve with turkey.

I love my mom’s sweet potato casserole, but the brown sugar topping will not work for me this year. I found a yummy paleo version on CupcakesOMG! And with no butter, it’s vegan.

Instead of mashed potatoes, I’m making a parsnip and turnip puree that I found on Against All Grain. To give the vegans another option, I replaced the chicken broth with vegetable broth and the butter with Earth Balance spread.

My husband makes a magazine cover-worthy turkey every year. I’m paring it with paleo gravy from Brittany Angell. Thick without gluten. Ahhh…

And dessert. What did I do about dessert? I found a lovely recipe for pumpkin bread pudding on Paleo Parents. It was hard not to eat the pumpkin bread before it got made into bread pudding. Very yummy!

I hope you have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Fall Food: Onion and Apple Smothered Pork Chops

pork chop apple onionMy big take-away from the 21 Day Sugar Detox was to do everything I can to avoid feeling like I did at the start, so I’ve been pretty good about staying away from sugar. That has meant a whole new way of preparing food, since most of the old go-to dinners were full of grains and dairy. From following lots of new recipes, I’m figuring out how to adapt some of our favorites. Plus, my family is trying new foods and loving them (like Paleo Butter Chicken from My Heart Beets – yum! – and she even has a grain-free naan recipe).

I wanted to try a sugar detox safe version of a fall staple, pork chops smothered in caramelized onions and apples. After looking at a couple of recipes online which added sugar, I came up with my own version. They are super easy to make and paired nicely with fresh green beans. Best of all, they were good.

Pork Chops Smothered in Onions and Apples

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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pork chop apple onion
Ingredients:
4 boneless pork chops
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup butter or ghee
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 (about 1 cup) tart apple, unpeeled, cored, thinly sliced
2 medium (about 2 cups) onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic

Directions:

  1. Season pork chops with salt and pepper.
  2. Melt butter in 12-inch skillet and stir in cinnamon. When it sizzles, add pork chops. Cook over medium heat, turning once, 6-8 minutes or until browned. Remove chops to serving platter; keep warm.
  3. Place apple and onion slices into same skillet with pan juices. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes. Remove lid and continue cooking, stirring every minute or so, another 5-10 minutes or until apples are soft and onions are dark but not burned.
  4. Stir in garlic; continue cooking 2-3 minutes or until garlic is softened.
  5. Return chops to pan and raise heat to medium; continue cooking 2-3 minutes or until internal temperature of pork reaches at least 145°F and is no longer pink.

Animal spirits: totems for sacral chakra work

A couple of months ago I started a new exploration of the Chakra system by linking chakra energy into the interconnected web of life through the spirits of animals who embody that energy. Now that I am pretty grounded in Muladhara’s energy, I’ve begun to look at the second chakra.

Svadhishthana is the center of watery, flowing movement and creation. The animals that share the energy of the sacral chakra have a relationship with water and the creative process.

nile-crocodile_643_600x450The crocodile governs the second chakra. He easily transitions from water to land and back again, but it is in the water that this chakra’s work happens. Crocodile goes deep into the emotional world, then resurfaces with new creativity.

 

dolphin-kristian-sekulic-ispWith playful grace, the dolphin embodies freedom. Although living fully in the water, dolphins must surface to breathe air like a land mammal, representative of the duality of nature. It time they surface is a renewal of sorts. Dolphins seem to have an intuitive understanding of and a feminine friendliness towards us humans.

green_frogThe life-cycle of a frog has made it a symbol of transformation across many cultures. In Native American traditions, frog medicine is cleansing and healing, and associated with life-bringing rain. Frog’s cleansing takes place on the emotional level, where true healing begins.

 

beaverThe busy beaver is the builder of dreams. Ever creative, the beaver works hard to manifest all it desires. Yet there is a sense of balance with beavers. They work when it is time to work, eat when it is time to eat, and play when it is time to play. Beavers have strong family relationships and often work as a team. In the group, each is honored for its contribution to the whole, bringing beaver close to the source of oneness – the original creative energy of existence. Beavers’ work transforms their environment in a harmonious way, so each place they leave behind is reborn in their wake.

Get in the flow with the Water Element

Meditate on the movement of water and let your emotions flow.

Meditate on the movement of water and let your emotions flow.

During the last few months I have experienced a great deal of uncertainty and change, and a pretty tough sugar detox. Throughout, I focused on grounding and staying connected to the Earth Element. I planted my roots firmly and weathered the storm of change. Now I am flowing through life with much more ease, and getting reacquainted with Water.

Scorpio, a water sign (along with Cancer and Pisces) was rising when I was born. Perhaps that’s why, despite my strong Earth roots, I have a bit of gypsy in me. Water is movement, growth, sensuality and creation. Water is cleansing and healing. The Water Element governs your emotions, particularly love and compassion, and your intuition. When you think of Water, think of lakes, rivers, oceans, springs, otters, fish, autumn, twilight, and the colors blue and silver.

Some ways you can connect to the Water Element are:

  1. Sensual dance. Learn to belly dance (yes, guys can belly dance, too) or grab a partner and explore the Rumba or Salsa.
  2. Take a bath. Add some relaxing essential oils or bath salts and take a long, cleansing soak.
  3. Drink a glass or two. Purify your body from the inside out.
  4. Walk in the rain. Notice the gathering puddles and the ripples the raindrops make. Watch water roll off leaves.
  5. Sit by the ocean, a lake or a river. Watch the movement. Contemplate the power of the flowing water to change the landscape.
  6. Read poetry. Open up to the experience of emotions.
  7. Give to charity, or volunteer. Cultivate your compassion.

Grouchy without my sugar: Day 14 of the 21 Day Sugar Detox #21dsd

I promised posts about my experience with the 21 Day Sugar Detox, but I haven’t felt much like writing. To be honest, I’ve been very, very cranky. I spent the first week feeling overwhelmed, although some of that was just life’s stuff piling up. This week has been better, but I’m tired and still grouchy. My family is trying hard to stay on my good side, so my temper must be a bit short.

Detoxing my body has inspired a thorough cleaning of my home (helped along by the arrival of my new Norwex mop) and I took a few days away from the internet to clean windows, vacuum under sofa cushions and mop all the floors. Perhaps taking control of my house made up for the lack of control I have over my body’s reaction to the sugar detox.

If I ever questioned if I was truly addicted to sugar, I’m positive now that I am. I did some reading online just to ensure that I was not the only one to still be irritable and suffering from fatigue fourteen days in. Some folks shared the sugar withdrawal symptoms lasted nearly the entire twenty-one days. What I didn’t find was anyone who said the symptoms never stopped, so I’m sticking with it.

Wanting to experience the detox as “purely” as possible, I hadn’t taken any of the recommended supplements. I decided that for the last week I would add in a Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C, L-Glutamine and Magnesium. I’ll also start taking my probiotics again, to help crowd out previously well-fed candida in my gut. I’m hoping the supplements may help me get past the irritability sooner.

It’s not all bad, though. My face is much clearer and my usually pale cheeks have a bit of color. Although I do still have some cravings, I’m recognizing that I’m not actually hungry. It is difficult to be hungry if you follow the menu plan. There is plenty to eat and, unlike sugar, it stays with me for hours. I’ve been enjoying trying new recipes from the book and corresponding cookbook.

If I wasn’t so grouchy, I’d probably think this was fun. Maybe by this time next week, it will be.

Day 1 without sugar was not easy #21DSD

I haven’t been sleeping well, so when I got up to start the first day of the 21 Day Sugar Detox I was already tired. This has been my mornings for a couple of months, but at least I’d been getting up. Much better than mornings in 2013, when I sometimes did not get out of bed at all.

I dragged myself into the kitchen to prepare breakfast and make almond milk from almonds I had soaked the night before. I was full after breakfast, but I couldn’t help wishing breakfast came with dessert. I had the same thoughts after lunch. And after dinner.

Sugar has control of my mind, for sure!

Homemade almond milk has no additives.

Homemade almond milk has no additives.

I snacked on an apple and a handful of almonds mid-morning, which relieved the cravings temporarily. When I was thinking about another snack at 2:00 p.m., I drank a glass of water instead. The water seemed to help hold me to dinner.

When I woke up this morning, I was still tired, but I realized when I looked at the clock that I had slept through the night. Although it was only six hours, it was the longest block of uninterrupted sleep I have gotten in awhile.

Here’s to day 2, and onward!

Butternut Apple Skewers

Apple-SquashButternut squash, a winter squash, has a sweet, nutty taste similar to pumpkin. This versatile squash can be roasted, toasted, pureed for soups, or mashed into breads and muffins. Butternut squash is a good source of fiber, vitamins A, C and E, manganese, magnesium, and potassium. It’s lovely orange color mimics the fall leaves.

In this recipe, butternut squash is pared with apples and tossed with a maple syrup dressing, then skewered and roasted for a healthy but sweet autumn appetizer, dessert or snack.

Butternut Apple Skewers

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 45mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIngredients:
1 medium butternut squash
3 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons almond or cashew butter
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3-4 apples, chopped
8-10 wooden skewers

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Peel and dice butternut squash into about 1-inch cubes.
  3. Mix together the spices, ghee or oil, nut butter, lemon juice and maple syrup. Add a bit of water if too thick (should be like a thick dressing).
  4. In a bowl, pour 2/3 of the mixture over squash and toss, covering all the pieces evenly.
  5. Spread squash on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, toss apple with remaining sauce mixture.
  7. Remove squash from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  8. Alternate apple and squash pieces on skewers.
  9. Place skewers on baking sheet, return to oven and bake for 15 minutes or until both are soft.

This recipe is from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Animal spirits: totems for root chakra work

I am a Chakra junkie. I love exploring the energy of the Chakra system, and I am always looking for new ways to connect with and experience that energy. Lately I have been seeking to link chakra energy into the interconnected web of life by invoking the spirits of animals who embody that energy into my chakra work.

The first, or root, chakra – Muladhara – is the center of earthy, stable energy. The animals that bring that energy are solid and heavy, with one exception.

african_bush_elephant_big_animalDespite weighing 10,000 pounds, elephants walk softly on the earth. Nurturing elephants fare well in their often harsh natural environments, and demonstrate a strong commitment to their group’s protection and survival. As a symbol of safety and strength, elephants can be called on to support first chakra explorations. In addition, the gentle eyes of the huge elephant are full of ancient wisdom. The elephant is a worthwhile companion for your grounding practice.

highlandbOx represents strength, endurance, stamina, prosperity and productivity. These characteristics reflect the energy of the first chakra. Consider a pair of oxen as your guardians while you settle into a deep, rooting meditation.

 

bullThe bull is the Earth Lord, embodying abundance and contentment when calm. When running, the bull’s thundering hooves make the earth quake. Call on bull to bring power to a deficient first chakra.

 

shutterstock_mole.jpg.CROP.original-originalMole is neither heavy nor strong, yet offers a strong connection to the earth. Moles represent the ultimate in groundedness. Ask mole to teach you about eating right, an important first chakra lesson, by sharing her knowledge of herbs and roots.

To connect to the spirit of these first chakra animals, you can simply meditate on them or their qualities. You might also try imagining yourself in the body of the animal. What would it feel like to move like an elephant, an ox, a bull or a mole? You can also call on them as guardians during any root chakra work.

Can you think of any other animals with first chakra spirit?