Thanksgiving Favorites

I love Thanksgiving and I love Thanksgiving food. I love planning the food, I love preparing the food, and I love eating the food. And I love eating it again. And again. And again. I’m not a fan of experimenting at Thanksgiving. I have my tried and true favorite and I might try one new dish a year, but for the most part, I stick to my favorites. Here are a few of my Thanksgiving favorite dishes:

Honey and Spice Cranberry SauceI am a firm believer that cranberry sauce should never come from a can. From scratch is the only way for me, thank you. I’ve been using this recipe for years. It’s simple, easy, and delicious. Nice and tart with just a touch of sweetness to balance the tart.

Parker House Rolls  I confess: I have a fear of yeast. I have a fantasies of being a boulanger but the truth is I don’t understand yeast and I don’t really understand flour all that well either (chemistry was always my least favorite class). So, while I love homemade breads, my success with making them myself has been hit or miss. But this recipe always falls into the category of hit. And if I do say so myself, they come out perfect every time (except for the time I forgot to take them out of the oven – multitasking in the kitchen has never been my strong suit). They’re soft and fluffy – perfect for sopping up puddles of gravy or cranberry sauce.

Turkey – I make a damn good turkey. I’ve tried so many fancy-schmancy recipes for turkey over the years, but I always come back to the same old basic method. I prefer  my turkeys to be minimalist in flavor so the flavors blend well with all of the other flavors on the Thanksgiving table. First, I massage it with olive oil, then with salt and pepper, I cover it with cheesecloth and into the oven it goes. I use Martha Stewart’s method of tossing a stick of butter in a sauce pan with an ample helping of white wine, and then keep it simmering, to use for basting the turkey every half hour.

These are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving things. What are your Thanksgiving favorites?

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love that the spirit of Thanksgiving is focused on enjoying good food with friends and family and showing gratitude. That’s it. No material gifts, no drunken partying. Just friends, family, good food, and being grateful. What’s better than that? So in the spirit of Thanksgiving this week I am Thankful for:

1. Joyful parenting — I’ve been working on this post for a while. I struggled with finding the right words to express my gratitude without coming off as pretentious. But in the end, I decided to just speak from the heart. I am deeply grateful that my daughter is healthy and thriving and that because of that I get to spend a lot of time just enjoying being a parent. I know so many parents whose children struggle with health issues, learning disabilities, etc. I watch how hard those parents have to fight to get their kids the attention, services, and care they need. It’s a constant battle and it seems that each school year they face a brand new battle as they advocate for their child’s needs. I see how challenging things like setting up a playdate or sending their kids to school in the morning can be. I see how hard they fight for their kids and sometimes I can see how exhausted they are from the fight. I know they have lots of joyful moments, but I know that could probably use more. I wish society did more to offer help and support to those parents. I wish they had the luxury of spending less time advocating and more time just enjoying being a parent. So when I say that I am thankful I have so much time to enjoy my parenting experience it’s because I know I shouldn’t take it for granted.

2. Reminders that I have enough — A few months ago I started following several photo-journalists on Instagram. Seeing their photos from around the world – photos of refugee camps, Ebola stricken communities, families displaced by war – these photos remind me of how incredibly fortunate I am to have everything I need and them some. Living in this media driven society it’s easy to lose sight of how ridiculously fortunate I am and I am grateful for those remdinders that I have enough.

3. Morning sunlight — I am the farthest thing from being a morning person. I also have a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder. So having the sun up when I get up in the morning makes my life soooo much easier. I love you sunglight!

4. Voting — I will never take my right to vote for granted. Every time I vote, I think of the women around the world who are still fighting for their rights. I have this hope that every time a woman exercises her right to vote, that power goes out into the Universe to empower those women who are still fighting. As I said on voting day, I may not like the choices I see on the ballot, but I am profoundly thankful I have choices.

5. Gilmore Girls on Netflix — I know, I know, it’s a frivolous thing but we don’t have cable t.v. and I’ve really, really, missed Loralie, Rory, Luke, Kirk, and everyone else in Stars Hollow. Now if only I could live there…

6. Parenting Bucket-list — When I was pregnant with my daughter I had all of these parenting fantasies about the things I couldn’t wait to experience with her. My parenting bucket-list if you will. Well, many of those fantasies were smashed to smithereens as I realized that 1) Parenting is not at all what I thought it would be and 2) I had some seriously unrealistic expectations. But one of my parenting fantasies is coming true as I watch my second grader fall in love with reading. I’ve been a bookworm as long as I can remember and my heart melts a little every time we’re hanging out on the sofa reading our books together. I’m thankful for another parenting fantasy checked off of the bucket-list.

7. Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well by Sam Sifton  — Part cookbook, part anecdotal collection of essays, and part Thanksgiving Etiquette book, I love this quick Thanksgiving read. The recipes are delicious, the anecdotes are entertaining, and the etiquette is spot on. I read it every year.

 

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Fall Favorites (or Fall Survival)

Fall, for me, is all about comfort. I happen to be one of the five people on the planet who doesn’t love Fall. I love bright sunshine, warm weather, stone fruit and ripe berries, and days with more than 12 hours of sunlight…. all things that are noticeably missing from Fall. I dislike pumkin flavored anything, scary Halloween costumes, and darkness that overstays its welcome (in my book darkness should never arrive before 8 p.m. and should always leave by 6:30 a.m.). I also like extremes and swift transitions so it could be that these half-hearted California falls just don’t cut it for me. Fall takes away my natural comforts so I find myself looking for ways to replace those comfort this time of year. My favorite Fall comforts are:

Brussel Sprouts 
I know, weird, right? But I love them! If I had any musical talent at all I would sing a song about them much like the insects in James in the Giant Peach sang about their peach. I could eat them every day. My favorite way to eat them is drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and roasted in the oven at 350°. But I also love them sautéed in a little chicken broth with thinly sliced garlic.

Stews
Even here our evenings are starting to get cooler and I love a good stew on a cold, dark night. This Herbed Beef Stew with Sugar Snap Peas has been my favorite for years. It’s easy to make and could be done in a crockpot too. I like to double the recipe and keep half in the freezer for those busy nights when I don’t have time to cook.
 

Soup for Breakfast
This time of year I look forward to the comfort of a hot bowl of homemade soup for breakfast. This Breakfast Vegetable-Miso Soup with Chickpeas is one I make every week in the Fall and Winter. It’s part of my Monday morning ritual. It’s my way of starting off the week focused on taking care of me.

These are my Fall comforts. What are yours?

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Things That Made Me Happy Today

Mom's heart jewelry

1. Looking through my mom’s jewelry box. I’ve had her jewelry box for 3 years now and I’ve sorted through it many times, but today was the first time I noticed how many hearts she had in her jewelry box. My whole life I longed to be in her heart but but she just wasn’t able to let me in. I realized she was too damaged to give it to me. Seeing this collection of hearts today made me wonder if she too was longing to be in someone’s heart.

puppymug2My puppy mug that I got for Mother’s Day. Look at it. How could I not love this? When I’m drinking my morning coffee I like to imagine my 90 year-old self still using the mug Emma painted for me when she was 7.

3. Wicked is coming to our area this summer. And Wicked always makes me happy!

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Something New for June

I like taking on something new every month. It could be trying a new way of doing things, or trying on a new perspective, or starting a new project. I like setting this goal because I have a habit of ending up in the Pinterest land of “Ooh, I want to to do that!’ but never actually following through with the doing part. Trying one new thing a month isn’t overwhelming and one month seems like the right amount of time to plan, prepare, and actually do it.

So this month I’m gong to try making mozzarella cheese.  I’ve been wanting to try this for a few years and with the end of the school year just days away, June seems like the prefect month to try it. One of my favorite blogs, the kitchn, swears it’s really easy to do. Wish me luck. I’ll let you know how it goes. What new thing have you been wanting to try?

 

 

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Friday Favorites

It’s Friday and I have some new favorite recipes to share with you. I’ve been craving new recipes this month. Maybe it’s the new year that leaves me wanting new flavors, new experiences. Maybe it’s because after the busy holiday rush, I’m ready to spend the time preparing good food for my family. These were my favorites this week. I hope you enjoy them too.

Slow Cooker Red Wine and Beef Stew with Rosemary Bread

Slow Cooker Red Wine and Beef Stew with Rosemary Bread

Slow Cooker Red Wine and Beef Stew with Rosemary Bread from Colleen’s Kitchen. Oh, this was good. If you live in a part of the country where it’s really cold right now, you should make this. It’s the perfect meal for a cold winter night.

 What I love about it:

  • Easy and quick – The stew is great for those nights when you really don’t have a lot of time to cook.
  • Make ahead – You could have this for dinner a night or two and put the rest in the freezer.
  • Prep ahead - If you’re prepping your meals ahead of time, you could cut up the veggies, add the seasonings to the tomatoes, and then they day of you just have to throw it all in the crockpot. How easy is that?
  • Versatile - I love that I could really pack this with veggies. Next time I’ll probably add some cabbage too.

 

rice beans ginger salsa

Brown Rice and Beans with Ginger Chile Salsa from Epicurious

Brown Rice and Beans with Ginger Chile Salsa from Epicurious. Yum, yum, yum! This is my new lunchtime favorite. I’ll probably be eating this a lot! What I love about it:

  • Make ahead – If you’re having this for lunches, you could make everything on the weekend and have it all ready to grab and go during the week. It’s also very easy to double. Love that!
  • Versatile – This is great for lunch or dinner.
  • Vegetarian/Carnivore Adaptable - I’m not a big meat eater, but Mr. Blooming T is a diehard carnivore. So I am always on the lookout for recipes that can work for both of us. He could add some grilled chicken to this one to meet (no pun intended) his carnivore desires.
  • What I changed - 1) I didn’t want to commit the time to cooking the rice on the stove so I quickly sauteed the onions on the stove and then added them in with the rice in my rice cooker.  2) I couldn’t locate the fresh ginger I had purchased (but on a positive note, I think Mr. Blooming T cleaned out our refrigerator) so I used ground ginger instead. Still tasted amazing! 3) I used dried adzuki beans (power soaked, of course) instead of canned black beans. Adzuki beans are a little lower in carbs than other dried beans but still high in nutrients. 4) I’ll probably add fresh tomatoes next time because I love tomatoes and add them to pretty much everything.

 

spinach artichoke hummus Edited

Spinach Artichoke Hummus from Shugary Sweets I love hummus and homemade hummus always tastes fresher than the store bought stuff. I eat hummus every day so it was nice to have some variety this week. And believe or not, I didn’t change a thing! 

I’ve already got a list of new recipes to try next week. See you next Friday!

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Healthy Eating: Creating Healthy Habits, Part 1

The key to healthy eating is creating healthy habits. And healthy habits come from prep and planning. Every week I spend time planning my healthy meals for the week (look for that blog post next week). If I don’t put in that time, I’ll end up making unhealthy choices, just grabbing whatever is quick and easy, which usually isn’t very healthy. I don’t necessarily spend a lot of time preparing, but a little time spent here and there makes a big difference. It’s so much easier for me to make healthy choices when I plan and prepare ahead of time.

black beans cropped

Part 1: Have Healthy Foods Ready to Go
This morning I prepped some Adzuki beans using this power soak method. The power soak method is so easy. I do it while I’m getting breakfast ready in the morning and by the time I’m ready to head off for they day, the dried beans ready. Dried beans taste so much better than canned beans. The texture is so much better too. Try them. You’ll never want to go back to canned beans again.

 

garbanzo beans croppedI also prepped a batch of garbanzo beans. I’ll keep some in the fridge this week to add to salads, soups, make hummus, or for my Quick and Easy Bean Salad. The rest I’ll keep in the freezer for use another week.

 

sweet brown rice croppedI always make a big batch of quinoa or rice too. I love this sweet brown rice I get from the bulk bins at Whole Foods Market. It’s delicious in salads and soups. And when I’m short on time making dinner, my Parmesan Rice only takes a couple of minutes to make if the rice is ready to go.

I probably spent a total of 10 minutes prepping these three items today. And maybe another 5 minutes putting them in containers to store. And when I need something quick to eat this week, having these three items all ready to go will save me a lot of time and make it much easier for me to make healthy choices.

 

 

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Right Now I’m …

rightnow

… reading the 45 open tabs on my browser. Yes, that’s right, I have 45 open tabs on my browser (and I had already closed several before the count). I know that I have a very bad habit of clicking on links, discovering that I don’t have time to read the article, and then leaving it open to read later. The look of horror every time my husband peeks over my shoulder and sees my open browser speaks volumes.Yes, I know there are apps for saving stuff to read later, but I’m a very visual person and I like having my unfinished business out in the open where I can see it. But, I didn’t quite realize just how bad my habit was until I counted the tabs. So, um, hi! My name is Teresa and apparently I hoard information.

… planning the new recipes I’m going to try out next week. This one looks really good! I’ll let you know next week.

… looking forward to getting a mani/pedi today with E and one of my best friends.

… enjoying the absolutely beautiful weather we’re having today. It’s like summer in January and I love it!

… watching Project Runway Under the Gunn. I’m still deciding on this one. I love Tim Gunn but I’m not sure how exciting this show will be.

… frustrated with people who make things more complicated than they need to be. Despite the fact that I have a control freak tendency, I’m not a micro-manager and when something needs to be done, especially when resources are limited, I just want to find the simplest solution and get it done. Today, I’m finding myself dealing with micro-managers who are committee-happy and it’s driving me crazy!

… wishing E was home from school already. My busy work schedule this week meant I barely got to see her all week and I can’t wait to spend the afternoon with her.

… eating scrambled eggs with veggies. Or as my husband calls it, veggies with a some egg added in. 

… thankful for having everything I need.

What are you doing today? 

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I Did The Suja Juice 3-day Cleanse

Sujabox
Disclaimer: This 3-day cleanse was given to me free by Suja Juice. However, I have not received any compensation from them, nor have I committed to promoting their product.

The Suja Juice cleanse comes in 1-day, 3-day, and 5-day cleanses. And they are just like they sound. You drink six different juices in a day for however many days you are doing the cleanse. You can drink water too but it is recommended that you abstain from other food or drink.

I was asked lots of questions while doing  this cleanse so I thought I’d answer them all here:

Why did you do this cleanse?
I love starting January with a cleanse. It’s become a ritual for me. After the indulgent holiday season, doing a cleanse resets my body, my palette, and my mind. Reminds me how good it feels to put myself first, how good it feels to not let unhealthy foods have power over me. It sets the tone for the rest of my year.

Did you lose weight on this cleanse?
I did lose some weight, but I don’t like to talk about how much I lost. I am strongly opposed to doing cleanses for weight-loss. I just don’t think it’s a healthy way to go. So I don’t share that information because I don’t want to promote it as a weight-loss method. It is however a great way to jump-start your commitment to healthy eating.

Were you starving?
I was quite surprised to find that I wasn’t hungry at all. In fact, I had a hard time finishing the last juice each night, because I just wasn’t hungry. What I did find was that I missed the act of eating. My body was not at all hungry but my brain really wanted me to eat. This was very interesting to me and has made me more aware of tuning into hunger cues; are they coming from my body or my brain?

I will say that I also avoided being around food, which helped a lot. While my husband and daughter ate dinner, I would go take a nice long soak in a hot bath. Being around people while they were eating would have made this cleanse much more difficult.

SujaAppleFrame

Were the juices good?
Yes! I was a little worried they wouldn’t taste good but they were so good. I couldn’t believe how fresh they tasted. Glow, Figi, Fuel, and Green Supreme were my favorites. A lot of people seem to really like the Vanilla Cloud and with my sweet tooth, I would have thought that would be my favorite, but it turned out to be my least favorite. I think that after a day of tasting fresh, clean juices, the Vanilla Cloud just felt too sweet, too indulgent. That isn’t really what I want when I’m on a cleanse. But I really enjoyed the other flavors.

How did you feel?
I felt so great! I expected my energy to be low while I was on the cleanse, but I actually felt great and I wasn’t tired at all. I did abstain from exercise while on this cleanse. As a nutrition coach, I know it isn’t a good idea to work out while doing a cleanse. Oh, and my skin felt great too. That was might have been because I was much better hydrated than usual.

purifyFrame

I really enjoyed doing this cleanse and would certainly consider doing it again. I like that this one was only three days so I could easily do it a few times a year when I feel like my healthy eating habits are slipping a bit. The kind folks at Suja Juice are letting my give away a free 3-day cleanse to one of my lucky readers. Enter below or on my Facebook page.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday Favorites

My clients are always asking me where I find healthy recipes so today I am sharing a list of some of my favorites. When I’m looking for recipes I always have a few criteria in mind:
1. It has to be relatively quick (less than an hour) or easy to make to ahead. I’m a mom and, like all parents, I’m always short on time.
2. It has to be healthy.
3. It has to be kid friendly. I don’t expect my daughter to like things on the first try, but I don’t want to push my luck with her either.

Tarragon Chicken Pot Pie Soup from Colleen’s Kitchen
This is one of my favorite blogs. I’ve posted this recipe before, but our family really loves this soup and it’s worth posting again. It has all the great flavor of a pot pie without the guilt. It’s surprisingly easy to make and could easily be doubled to store an extra meal or two in the freezer.

Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach from Two Peas & Their Pod
Another favorite blog of mine. The couple who writes this blog really gets that parents want to feed their kids healthy food that tastes great and isn’t too complicated to make. This soup was quick to make and we had plenty leftover to store another meal in the freezer.

Quinoa Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing from Two Peas & Their Pod
I LOVE this salad. I could write a whole post on how much I love this salad. I often bring to my clients to sample, it is my go-to salad for potlucks, and it’s one of our go-to meals for a quick and healthy dinner. I love how versatile this recipe is. You can really substitute any seasonal fruits and berries. My husband adds grilled chicken because he can’t eat a meal without meat. Sometimes I eat it for breakfast. Like I said, I really love this salad.

Breakfast Vegetable Miso Soup with Chickpeas from Whole Living
I discovered this recipe when I was doing their cleanse. This is a recipe I make when I want to nurture myself. It’s healthy and delicious and I always look forward to making it.

These are just a few of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them!

 

 

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