Holiday Tips to Help You Get Through

The holidays are officially here! Bring on the pumpkin pie! This time is filled with delicious foods, fun gatherings and cozying up by the fire place. It’s also a time to spend with our family and friends.

While we love our family and friends, sometimes getting everyone together can bring out the best and worst in people. You may find tensions bubbling over like gravy on the stove. Don’t worry, here are a few tips to get you through so you don’t boil over:

  • Don’t expect other people to change, it sets you up for disappointment. People are creatures of habit. Eliminate from your thoughts, “hoping,” “maybe,” “hopefully..” Your 70 year old racist Uncle is 70, he’s not changing. Accept him for who he is.
  • You’re the one who has changed. Pat yourself on the back.
  • Laugh at the uncomfortable moments.
  • If you need a breather, excuse yourself to the restroom for a few minutes or get some fresh air. This really helps, especially when things get extra weird. You can go to your car and scream. That sounds liberating.
  • Go easy on the libations. Seriously. Inhibitions go out the window with a little too much vino.
  • Buy pre-made sides, put them in a casserole dish. Act natural. No one will know. Many markets set up holiday dinner packs that you can order ahead of time. You can order something nice for around $200. Costco even sells sides. Cooking, eating healthy and entertaining are my jam but it’s not in me this year. My Dad passed away, work has been crazy and of course with death there is a lot of “extra.” Making all the things just doesn’t sound fun. Honestly if you’re feeling pulled in every direction, it’s not a bad idea to cater your meal. Your kitchen won’t be a mess, you’ll be able to rest and you’ll be able to enjoy your day off. It’s called self preservation my friends. You can sleep in, go for a walk, or do some yoga.
  • Did someone say stretchy pants? Athletisure is really a game changer. Obviously there is a lot of enjoying that goes on with the holidays, why be uncomfortable? But DON’T get into the habit of wearing stretchy pants all winter…..you won’t notice if your skinny jeans become too small. Been there done that.

Hopefully you find the tips to be helpful and a little humorous. Most importantly take care of yourself. Make sure you rest on your days off. Your time is valuable.

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I Created a Women’s Resource Group

One of my recent projects has been the creation of a women’s resource group called Fiercely Female.

I started this group with the help of a coworker in early 2017. I haven’t been to too many networking events. The few that I have been to seemed more like singles trying to pick each other up and really superficial. They were loud, stuffy and filled with people passing out cards and never following up. Not to mention, a lot of cheap wine. Headache the next day. Stained lips. Lame.

I hate cheap wine. I also hate pointless mingling.

So I noticed as I was getting older my network was pretty diverse but also pretty small. I’m not super social or outgoing and choose the people I hang out with wisely.

I’m also really shy.

At the urging of one of my mentors, I created a women’s group. I wanted the group to have some purpose. A take away. A resource. I need help with my career, so why not assemble a group of women who can help each other?

So I did.

Our first event was a hit. We talked about manterrupting and shared ways to not let it piss us off and solutions to work around it. Hint: say things like, “as I was saying” or “hang on let me finish my thought.”

Women’s networking groups get a bad rap.

Mostly because ladies night turns into bitching about people and getting drunk. They also turn into a male bashing event. Nothing gets done. Ways to help each other aren’t communicated. They fizzle out for lack of solutions and infrequent meet ups. Hint: Women are supportive. Girls are competitive.

This is where social media is useful.

When we aren’t meeting, I’m posting on a private Facebook group called Fiercely Female. I encourage the current group members to share, promote themselves and invite others to the group who could benefit or add value in some way. The group isn’t about man hating or politics. There is enough of that going on. I would be lying if I didn’t say man hating occasionally happens. It’s a place where we ask questions, share articles, post videos, share motivational quotes. It’s a digital community.

I’m still trying to work out the kinks.

Since this is all relatively new for me, I’m trying to work out the kinks. I’m also trying to not compare myself with other networking groups aimed for women. They may have started around the same time and gained a larger following. This isn’t about gaining a large following. This is about creating a sincere resource that is valuable.

I’m excited to see where this goes.

Aloe Matcha Face Mask

I love staying in on Friday nights, getting take out and listening to podcasts and maybe baking something.

I was on the ‘gram recently and saw that @Bucknakedpaleo posted a face mask using all natural products. I wanted to try it and have to say, I liked it so much I made the mask 2 days in a row. My skin is so sensitive and I usually end up in breakouts or hives so I generally stay away from masks. This face mask doesn’t look gorgeous but it’s so simple to make, leaving my face feeling alive, skin incredibly soft and fresh. Take 1 tablespoon of raw aloe vera – I used aloe vera gel, a tablespoon of matcha powder and a 1/2 teaspoon of Manuka honey (regular honey works too, Manuka honey is $$$$). Mix together and apply all over your face. I used a combination of a brush and my fingers. It gets a little messy but that’s half the fun. Wait 15 minutes, rinse with cool water and finish with a few sprays of rose water and aura glow oil.

Here’s me with the face mask on….wondering if what’s going to happen. 🙂

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Scrumptious Gluten Free & Sugar Free Pecan Spice Coffee Cake

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My Scrumptious Pecan Spice Coffee Cake is the perfect fall treat. It’s the perfect combination of a vanilla, spices and pecans that go well with a cup of coffee on a cool fall morning. What’s even better is it’s refined sugar free. I adapted a Bob’s Red Mill recipe for Blueberry Muffins. Instead of using refined sugar, I used monk fruit sweetener and coconut sugar, which does not compromise flavor. Since we do not really drink cows milk at home, I used cashew milk instead. The coffee cake is full of flavor and welcomes fall with a sweet pecan flavor.

 

Scrumptious Gluten Free Pecan Spice Coffee Cake

Makes 1-9″ cake pan or 12 muffins

  • 2 Cups Bob’s Red Mill GF 1-1 Baking Flour*
  • 2 tbs cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup monk fruit sweetener
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c milk (I used cashew milk)
  • Raw Pecans to top cake with

Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray round cake pan with non-stick spray or line 12 muffin tins.

In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In another bowl cream together coconut oil, monk fruit sweetener and vanilla, add eggs. Transfer mix to dry mix and stir in cashew milk. The batter will be thick, a little thinner than cookie batter. Don’t be afraid.

Spoon batter into 1-9” pan or 12 muffin cups and top with pecans.

Place pan in oven and reduce heat to 375 F. Cook 9” cake for 35-40 min and muffins for 30 min or until a toothpick comes out clean and edges are a golden brown. Let stand to cool.

Modifications:

If you are not GF use regular AP baking flour, if you have GF Flour and Xantham gum follow the ratio instructions. Of course you can use sugar, the classic recipe calls for white sugar.

 

My Attempt at Whole30 #2

I’m attempting to do my second Whole30. During my first Whole30 in the beginning of 2017 I realized that I totally emotionally eat. I was in denial. I thought emotional eating was eating sweets, like cookies, candy, or junk food like chips or cheese it’s – but no. Emotional eating can come in all shapes and sizes. For me, it’s portion control and meals throughout the day.

On tough days at work, I would drive home from work and think about how nice it would be to have garlic bread, a glass of wine, and eggplant parmesan. I learned that the Whole30 is very similar to the mindful eating exercise that I’ve done in a couple meditation retreats. The Whole30 for me brought this incredible awareness of where my food comes from or what’s in it and how I look at food.

I’m excited to pay attention to the thoughts that come up during this next journey. I’ll welcome any cravings that come up as my old friend and embrace them.

What’s helpful for me is to meal prep and recipe prep – there are days that I will come home from work hungry and if dinner isn’t planned, that is when food choices go out the window.

Meal prepping and planning is your best friend on a Whole30 — actually in general if you want to have healthy eating habits. I will meal prep for the next day after dinner and in the morning before work. I make enough dinner to have leftovers the next day for lunch and that seems to help. Here is a pic of the recipe prep I’ve done (ignore the spelling and hand writing) – I’ll refer to it every couple of days and go shopping once or twice a week.

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Your End of Summer To Do List

butterflyI think we can all agree that is has been a really odd year. I’ve been feeling pretty stagnate like I want some big change. I sure got some big change when my Dad was diagnosed with cancer in the middle of June and died five weeks later. His death ignited a fire in me and while I’m grieving I also realize I need to make some change happen. Death can ignite change. I’ll write more about grieving in another article. I’m sad and bummed that my Dad died, I really do hate that he died but I’ve accepted it and I’ve also used his death as my fire.

I’ve been writing this blog for awhile now putting down recipes and thoughts so I can express myself and also keep a place for all these ideas I come up with. My Dad’s death in a way was symbolic of a chapter closing and a new one opening up. Shortly after his death we experienced the solar eclipse, I think we can all say the solar eclipse was a metaphor for a chapter closing and another one opening up.

Really we can ignite change and create new chapters every day when we wake up or when we go to sleep. I’ve had a million things buzzing around in my head lately. In particular things that I want out of life. All those thoughts started to make me anxious and made me feel overwhelmed. I looked at those things that I want out of life and simplified it – these are action items. At work, I have an ongoing task list for all my action items. So I decided to write down the things out of life that I want just as I would my task list for work, a to-do list, or a grocery list. While this is a small gesture, I organized my thoughts and only wrote down the things that I want to happen.

Any gesture whether it small or large, symbolic or actionable can ignite change.

Take a few moments to write down some things you would like to do for yourself. It doesn’t matter what it is. These can be work goals, spiritual goals, health goals, savings goals, travel goals, anything and in any order. Do not deny yourself of it. Spend some time with that list, put it on your fridge, save it in your phone or put it in a journal. Come back to it often.

Believe that everything you put down on that list will happen. It may not happen in the exact order you want it to. The timing may seem slow or like it’s never ever going to happen – but keep on believing in that list and above all keep believing in yourself.

You can take it a step further and manifest the list, allowing yourself to feel joyful and fulfilled when you think about all the wonderful things you are welcoming into your life.

 

Coconut Banana Bread (GF)

Coconut Banana Bread

Banana Bread is magical. This is a gluten free protein packed banana bread topped with shredded coconut. Rather than using refined sugar, I used coconut sugar and added a 1/2 cup of paleo protein powder for some extra protein. Although it was 11:00pm when I finished baking the bread, I had to have a sample.

Coconut Banana Bread (GF) (Makes 1 – 9×5 loaf pan)

  • 2 Bananas (Mashed)
  • 13cup olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Redmill)
  • 1/2 cup unflavored protein powder (I used Paleo Pro)*
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • Shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease or line with parchment paper a 9×5-inch non-stick loaf pan.
  3. Cream together mashed bananas, oil, coconut sugar, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl.
  4. Add flour, protein powder, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda to egg mixture.
  5. Mix until smooth.
  6. Pour into prepared pan, cover with shredded coconut and a little coconut sugar.
  7. Bake 9×5″ loaf for 1 hour

Enjoy!

*Do not feel like using protein powder? Use 1 3/4 Cups of Gluten Free Flour

How do we return to our natural state of grace?

As human beings, we have free will. We have a choice and the ability to return to our natural state of grace. When we are born, we are full of infinite love, no fabricated self-limitations, just pure love. However, for the most part, not by anyone’s fault, we are exposed to all sorts of things, good and bad – it’s part of life’s journey. We have all observed, listened and have heard stories rooted in fear and naturally start to absorb that information and believe it is our truth. Little by little, we move further away from our natural state of grace, rooted in love and for self-preservation, we move closer to survival mode, rooted in fear. A Course in Miracles says, “ If a mind perceives without love, it perceives an empty shell and is unaware of the spirit within.”The mind is a source of information; it is not the source of our spirit.

While on planet Earth, everything has to have a happy ending – or else it will keep happening.  

“Atonement uproots the source of fear,” ACIM. We must make amends in order to stop the cycle and return to our natural state of grace. As we make amends with our self,  the source of fear is uprooted. Making amends returns us back to our natural state of grace, which is rooted in love.

Trust in the magic of the Universe.

Once we trust in the magic of the Universe, and give ourselves permission to make amends, and uproot fear, we have opened up the pathway to let love into our lives and return to our natural state of grace.

Just realizing that disconnected feeling is the first step to returning to our natural state of grace. Second, is realizing we have a choice, third, is making amends, fourth is trusting in the magic of the Universe. None of this happens over night, for a few lucky people out there it might, for the most part it’s a continual practice of self-reflection.

 

Pulled Pork Bulgogi

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I really hate leftovers but I also really like saving money and having food on hand after a busy day. I also like meal prepping. I made some pulled pork earlier in the week and had enough for another dinner but wanted to make something new and was feeling a bowl / Asian inspired meal. To turn a standard pulled pork into something else, I added another seasoning and made a sauce to go with it (this is a good trick if you’re cooking for yourself and maybe one other person). I have a lot of ladies who cook for themselves and often express the dilemma of cooking so much food for one person.

Pulled Pork Bulgogi

Chinese 5 Spice Pulled Pork

I’m refraining from measurements here, you can add the flavors to taste and it depends on how much pork you have left. We had ¾ of a pound left.

  • Pulled pork (leftovers)
  • Chinese 5 spice to taste
  • A dash Sesame Oil –only for flavor, use it sparingly.

Sweet and Sticky Sauce (adapted from Primal Palate) – Serves 4

  • ¾ Cup Coconut Aminos
  • 1/8 TSP Fish Sauce
  • 2 Cloves of Minced Garlic
  • 1/3 TSP Ground Ginger

Coconut Lime Cauli-Rice

  • Riced Cauliflower about 4 cups (I’m lazy and buy it already riced)
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 1 Lime
  • Handful Shredded Coconut
  • Himalayan Salt to taste

Toppings

  • 1 or 2 Chopped Green Onions
  • Sesame Seeds for topping
  • Kimchee
  • Chili Garlic Sauce for spice

Cooking time – 30 minutes

Start the sauce first, in a sauté pan, on medium – medium high heat, add ¾ cup of coconut aminos, the fish sauce, ginger, and garlic, let bubble, reduce the heat and stir so it doesn’t stick to the pan and let it reduce about 10-15 minutes. I was hungry and mine ended up reducing to ½ cup. I’m sure I could have left it on the burner longer. When done, pour the sauce into a container so you can pour or spoon it easily on your pork.

Using the left over pulled pork, I added a little bit of sesame oil and about ½ a teaspoon – 1 teaspoon of Chinese 5 Spice to some left over pulled pork. The pork roast I bought was about 2 lbs and I had about ¾ lbs left. Add the pork to the sauté pan used to cook the sauce and let it cook. The temperature should be medium-medium high. While it’s heating up, cook the cauliflower rice. Heat the pan to medium, add a tablespoon of coconut oil to the sauce pan, add some unsweetened shredded coconut – watch it so it doesn’t burn, add the riced cauliflower, salt and stir, then add the juice of one lime. Cook the rice through.

Remove everything from the heat and plate, topping with the sauce followed by chopped green onions, red chili garlic sauce, sesame seeds and kimchee.

Enjoy!!

Are You Listening?

Active listening has been a hot topic lately. Research shows, we only capture about 25% of what people are saying. As everyone gets busier and more stressed out, we have a tendency to be less present in conversations or want to react.  Below are some helpful tools to help us all be better listeners and be more present in conversations….even if we may not agree with the information we are hearing.
Five Tips’s for Active Listening:

1. Pay Attention
Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message. Recognize that non-verbal communication also “speaks” loudly. Texting indicates otherwise. 

  • Look at the speaker directly.
  • Put aside distracting thoughts. (Breathe)
  • Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal!
  • Avoid being distracted by environmental factors. For example, side conversations.
  • “Listen” to the speaker’s body language.

2. Show That You’re Listening – Be attentive

Body language and gestures convey your attention, make them feel comfortable. 

  • *Nod occasionally.
  • Note your posture and make sure it is open and inviting.
  • Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal comments like yes, and uh huh.
  • Leave your cell phone at your desk or in your bag.
*Some schools of thought feel differently, and suggest not being expressive as a way to be present and nonjudgmental – I tend to think a combination of the two is effective.
3. Provide Feedback

Our personal filters, assumptions, judgments, and beliefs can distort what we hear. As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. This may require you to reflect what is being said and ask questions. Breathe through it even if you don’t agree, wait until the person finishes what they are saying. (See #4 and #5)

  • Reflect what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is,” and “Sounds like you are saying,” are great ways to reflect back.
  • Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say.” “Is this what you mean?”
  • Summarize the speaker’s comments periodically.
  • This is a self check to ensure you’ve understood the information as well.

4. Ditch the Judgment

Interrupting is a waste of time. It frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message. By not interrupting, you’ll be able to gain more information.

  • Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions.
  • Don’t interrupt with counter arguments, this is distracting for everyone in the room and disrespectful to the presenter.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions.

5. Respond Respectfully

Active listening is a model for respect and understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. Attacking the speaker or otherwise putting him or her down add’s nothing (it makes the attacker look like a jerk if anything). 

  • Assert your opinions respectfully.
  • Be open, and honest in your response.
  • Treat the other person in a way that you think he or she would want to be treated.
(Source: mindtools.com)