Chickpea and Wild Rice Quesadillas

This recipe is: gluten free, dairy free, vegan

The isoflavones in chickpeas are excellent for alleviating PMS and balancing hormones for women. They also support the central nervous and muscular systems. Wild Rice provides protein, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, B vitamins and other essential minerals. Avocados are excellent for the prostate. They also lower cholesterol, balance blood sugar, and reduce inflammation.

Ingredients:

Rice Tortillas

Wild Rice

Chickpeas

Avocado

Vegan mayonnaise

Season to taste

Instructions:

Lay tortilla flat. Spread 1 – 2 teaspoons vegan mayonnaise on half of the tortilla. Cut avocado in half and take out the stone. Scoop out 1/2 of the avocado per tortilla. Mash avocado onto the other half of the tortilla. Add a thin layer of precooked wild rice over the avocado. Add a thin layer of precooked or canned chickpeas on top of the rice. Season to taste.

Stovetop Cooking Directions: Add 1/2 – 1 tablespoon coconut oil to large frying pan. Turn heat onto high. Melt oil in pan. Fold quesadillas in half and add to frying pan. Turn heat down to medium. Cook 3-5 minutes, or until the tortilla is golden brown. Flip over and repeat on the other side.

Oven Cooking Directions: Preheat oven to 350F. Using a nonstick baking sheet or glass pan layered with parchment paper, fold quesadilla in half and place on pan. Bake for 5 – 7 minutes, or until tortilla is browned. Flip and continue cooking another 3-5 minutes, or until second side of tortilla is browned.

I love hot, spicy quesadillas while my husband prefers savory and flavorful. So, for mine, I used salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and Ethiopian Berbere seasoning mix. On my husband’s I used salt, black pepper, adobo, and dill weed.

Both were delicious!

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Classic Tomato Soup

This recipe is: gluten free, dairy free, vegan

Ingredients:

2 beefsteak tomatoes

1 pint sweet campari tomatoes

1 pint grape tomatoes

1/2 cup celery hearts

1 sweet yellow onion

4-6 cloves garlic

1 small jar unsalted tomato paste

1 large can coconut milk

Seasonings: salt, pepper, oregano, basil, dill, and adobo

Directions:

Chop tomatoes, celery hearts, and onions into small, bite sized pieces and add to slow cooker. Mince cloves of garlic. Add garlic, tomato paste, and spices. Cook on high for 2 – 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Turn slow cooker down to low for another 1 -2 hours. Once onions and celery are cooked through, transfer ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour soup back into slow cooker and add 1 large can coconut milk. Cook on low for another 30 minutes to an hour. Stir thoroughly before serving.

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Tropical Blueberry Smoothie

1 frozen banana
1 – 2 cups frozen blueberries
1/2 cup chopped pineapple
1 orange

Directions: juice one orange, rind included. Add to blender. Slice banana into bite sized pieces. Add banana, blueberries, and pineapple. Blend until smooth.

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Christmas Vegetable Soup

This recipe is: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan

Our family meal tradition for Christmas is soup! This year I’m making a lovely red and green tomato based Christmas Vegetable Soup in the crockpot. I have a midwestern, family-style cooking background, so I’m always combining odds and ends of fresh ingredients with leftovers. I love cooking this way! It makes every meal feel special and unique.

Today I’ll be giving my family the gift of good health with the ingredients in this festive soup.

Spinach aids in T-cell activity. Broccoli protects against heart disease and osteoporosis. Tomatoes are filled with cancer fighting antioxidants and are also a good source of Vitamin E. Carrots help stabilize blood sugar while onions and celery reduce inflammation. Zucchini is good for eye health, lowering cholesterol, and aiding in digestion.

Ingredients:

1 cup celery hearts

3 cups baby spinach leaves

2 large carrots

1 large sweet yellow onion

1 pint sweet Campari tomatoes

1 cup broccoli

1 small zuchinni

1 small jar unsalted tomato paste

1 large can coconut milk

Seasonings: salt, pepper, oregano, basil, cumin

Directions:

Chop all ingredients into bite sized pieces. Add to crock pot along with tomato paste and seasonings. Add water until vegetables are covered. Place lid on crockpot and turn on high. Leave on high approximately two hours or until water starts to bubble and simmer. Stir and turn crockpot to low heat. Cook until vegetables are desired softness – 1 to 2 more hours. Add coconut milk and continue to cook on low for 30 minutes or until coconut milk is thoroughly melted and mixed into broth.

Today I’ll serve my soup over leftover rice and mung beans, although you can use any combination of rice and beans to help make this soup hearty. Pasta is also another great add in if you prefer noodles.

I love making and eating soup, especially over the holidays. It’s warm, versatile, and hearty, and it helps keep my family healthy.

Merry Christmas from our table to yours.

Creamy Mung Bean Fried Rice

This Recipe is: Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan

Mung beans are a great source of protein and amino acids. Rice contains B vitamins which are essential for supporting healthy brain and nervous system function. Mango and pineapple make this recipe antiviral and anti-inflammatory while the onions lower cholesterol and help the body fight cancer. Rosemary and garlic provide relief from coughs, colds, and respiratory infections. Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamin A.

Ingredients Used:

2 cups pre-cooked brown rice

1 cup pre-cooked mung beans

1 small red onion

1 cup chopped mango

1 cup chopped pineapple

1 cup baby spinach leaves

1 large can Coconut Milk, water drained

Garlic and Rosemary Infused Olive Oil

Spices: Salt, Pepper, Zatar, Oregano, and Cumin

Directions:

Add 2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil – I used a beautiful rosemary and garlic infused olive oil a dear friend of mine gifted me for Christmas – to frying pan and turn heat on high. Add chopped onion and fry until browned. Toss in spinach, pineapple, and mango and fry for 2 – 3 minutes. Turn heat down to low and add mung beans, rice, and coconut milk. Season to taste. I used salt, pepper, Zatar, oregano, and cumin. Cook on low heat, stirring frequently until hot and coconut milk is thoroughly melted in.

Enjoy!

I love to cook and my kitchen is my farmacy. Taking control of my health by using food as medicine gives me the inspiration I need to keep healing, and to help inspire others who are also healing from long-term illnesses.

**My posts are not medical advise. They are accounts of my own personal history and eating lifestyle. Please consult with your doctor or dietitian for specific nutritional advice. Follow me on Instagram for more recipe ideas!**

No Pain, No Gain?

No Thank You!

I grew up in the 80’s with the exercise mantra: “No Pain, No Gain”

What I’ve come to realize over the years is that when there’s pain, there’s a problem. Pain is an indicator that I’m either overdoing my exercise routine or I’m out of alignment.

In both cases, I’m harming my body.

I prefer my exercise routine to be enjoyable. I want to feel good from start to finish. Furthermore, I want to feel good when I’m done. Exercise is meant to give me more energy throughout the day, not less. If I’m constantly breaking myself down, making myself tired, and creating injuries, I’m defeating the purpose.

My new exercise mantra is: No Pain, All Gain

It works so much better!

I stay motivated when I’m listen to and loving my body instead of constantly pushing myself to do more, more, more. I also find I can sustain regular workouts over the long haul when I’m focused on things like good posture and proper alignment over heavier weights or more strenuous cardio.

Whether I’m doing yoga, lifting weights, or breaking out my aerobic step, I’m always putting my body first and allowing it to decide the time and intensity of my workouts.

No pain, all gain.

Try it! Your body and your exercise routine will love you for it.

Say Yes To Yourself

Healing from illness requires a strong commitment to self-care. Everyone knows that when the plane’s going down, you have to put your own oxygen mask on first before trying to help others. You can’t do anything if you can’t breathe.

This is the type of commitment that is necessary when healing from any long-term illness, injury, or traumatic life event.

I didn’t know how to put myself first, especially at the onset of my illness.

My mother almost died from a staff infection after a surgery she had when I was 12. By the time I was 15, she began to loose her eyesight to a disease called chorioretinitis. I spent much of my teenage years helping and caring for her. While most teenagers were playing sports, joining drama clubs, and dreaming about their futures, I was spending hours in doctors office waiting rooms and helping my mom physically recover from multiple medical procedures and surgeries.

I followed these events up by becoming a young mother. My daughter was born when I was 20. I loved being a mom from the start, but doing so kept me in the role of caregiver. I learned very early on to put my needs aside for my loved ones. This became a habit that was extremely hard to break, and one that eventually broke me.

Somewhere in the middle of my own illness, a wise friend told me, “Saying no to others means saying yes to yourself.” As soon as I heard this statement, I knew I had to make it my mantra.

I had to learn how to put myself first if I wanted to be able to keep taking care of my family.

It was difficult at first, but the more I practiced saying yes to myself and what I really needed, the easier it became.

Learning how to take care of myself was the key to my recovery.

  • Where in your life do you need to say no to others? Why?
  • How will saying no in these areas help you create space for healing and self care?
  • How does it feel to clarify where in your life you can make space for yourself?
  • In what ways can you make self-care a habit?

It is not mean or selfish to say no to someone or something if it means you get to heal. You deserve to say yes to your health and well-being.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to have cared for my mom and my daughter. Doing so taught me many lessons about love, patience, and compassion. Knowing how to care for others was the key to learning how to care for myself. I began to treat myself the way I treated my mom when she was sick and my daughter when she was a child.

How would you treat your child, best friend, spouse, parent, or other loved one if they were in your position? Start there and work forward.

After all, being the healthiest version of yourself is the best gift you can give not only to yourself, but to all your loved ones.

Citrus and Sage Fried Rice

This recipe is: gluten free, vegan

Oranges and Pineapples are very high in Vitamin C. Sage is good for the respiratory system and helps clear out congestion. Black beans are a great source of iron. Rice provides zinc and other trace minerals.

I paired this recipe with a side of butternut squash. Butternut squash contains high amounts of beta carotene and B vitamins.

Ingredients:

2-4 cups cooked brown rice

1 clementine orange

1/2 cup pineapple

1 small red onion

3 sage leaves

2 cups black beans (precooked or canned)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

seasonings: salt, pepper, cumin, dill, garlic salt

Instructions:

Add coconut oil to a large skillet and preheat pan on high until oil is melted. Add chopped red onion. SautĂ© until onion pieces begin to turn brown. Add fresh minced sage leaves along with chopped orange slices, pineapple slices, and black beans. Toss in pan for 1 – 2 minutes and turn heat down to medium low. Season to taste with salt, pepper, cumin, dill, and garlic salt. Add cooked rice and fry on low until hot, stirring frequently.

Serve as a meal in itself, or pair with your favorite baked or roasted vegetables. We had our with roasted butternut squash.

I’ve been cooking for most of my life. My recipes are created from scratch utilizing odds and ends of ingredients I find in my kitchen. They are guidelines to help inspire you to be creative while enjoying the process of working with food.

Check out my Instagram page for more food and self-care inspiration.

Finding Your Power During Illness

Living with long-term illness taught me many lessons. I’ve cultivated patience, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, self-love, boundaries, and joy for my life. But, to get to this place, I had to deal with my anger, exhaustion, grief, self-pity, – and a whole lot of other issues being sick for a long time brings up.

From the moment I was diagnosed and put on pharmaceudical drugs, I knew I wanted something different for myself. I just didn’t know how to create that in my life. Every doctor I went to told me exactly the same thing: We don’t know what’s causing you to be sick, we don’t know how to cure your illness, but you have to take drugs or you will become even more sick. I could never fully grasp that logic, and therefore, I always believed there was another option for me. I just had to find it.

This is what started my healing journey.

Will I ever fully recover my body? I don’t know. I was unnecessarily medicated for a long time. The drugs I was prescribed completely wrecked my insides. But I still have hope.

Why?

Because I have choices.

Choices give me the power to take control of my health. That feels so much better than being the victim of my illness.

I have the power to eat healthy.

I have the power to reduce stress in my environment.

I have the power to create healthy support networks.

I have the power to be kind to myself.

I have the power to enforce healthy boundaries.

As long as I have choices, I have power, even on the rough days, and that’s what helps me stay committed to my recovery process.

Whether you’ve just been diagnosed, or you’ve been dealing with illness for a while, remember, your choices are your power.

**Healthy Homework Journal Entry**

Write down one healthy choice you can make today and reflect on the following:

  1. How does this choice make you feel?
  2. What do you need to do to support yourself while making this choice?
  3. What are the short-term benefits?
  4. What are the long-term benefits?
  5. How does this choice help you feel powerful and in control of your body?
  6. How will making this choice help you stay committed to taking care of yourself?
  7. Is there anything else you need to explore around this choice? If so, keep writing…

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Creating a Strong Mind/Body Connection

Learning how to swing a golf club made me think about my own mind/body connection

Creating a strong mind/body connection is a vital part of taking care of your health.

Your thoughts create your actions. Your actions create your overall life conditions.

If you want to be healthy, you have to train your brain to think healthy thoughts. Healthy thoughts lead to healthy choices you can maintain over time.

Try this simple exercise to become aware of, strengthen, and utilize your mind/body connection effectively.

You’ll want a notebook and pen!

Sit quietly for about 5 minutes. Allow your thoughts about your current state of health to naturally occur to you. What things start popping up in your head? Take note and write them down.

You can instantly see what you think about most often.

Next, choose 1 of these thought patterns and answer the following questions about it.

  1. What emotions come up when I think of this issues?
  2. What scenarios do I most often create around this issue and how do they play out in my head?
  3. Do I apply solutions or problem solving techniques to these issues?
  4. Do I typically feel like I can make these solutions last long-term? Why or why not?
  5. Are my problem solving techniques realistic in my current lifestyle? Why or why not?

Once you’ve figured out how you think about your health and how your mind interacts with those thoughts, you can work on changing them.

When I started this process, I realized that often times I let my mind focus on all the things that were frustrating me or going wrong. I would play these scenarios out over and over in my head, much to the detriment of both my diet and my golf swing!

What I realized is that, as long as I’m focusing on the problems, I’m never letting myself create solutions!

I was stuck in thought problems instead of thought solutions.

Here are a few examples of how I changed my own thinking:

I just can’t lose weight vs. I want to be healthy

My body hurts so much vs. This is what feels good in my body

I don’t want to give up my comfort foods vs. I can create healthy meals that taste amazing

I’m too tired to do anything vs. This is a great way to relax

I hate exercising vs. I enjoy this activity

I can’t hit the golf ball vs. Relax and concentrate on a good swing

Create your own list of thought problems vs. thought solutions to strengthen your mind/body connection and get past the things holding you back.

Please feel free to share your feedback in the comments. I’d love to hear how you’re creating change in your own life!