Permission Happiness: Granted

27 Apr
Jane Austin and homemade chili? I don't mind if I do!

Jane Austen and homemade chili? I don’t mind if I do!

I’ve been noticing in my own life that it’s really hard to do something kind for myself without justifying it, or to allow myself to feel moments of happiness and joy without feeling guilty or shameful about it. Maybe you can relate.

It’s sad and fascinating and frustrating all at the same time. Why can’t I spend an hour–candles lit and hot tea ready to drink–reading a good book without justifying “I’m not being lazy, it’s for work?” And why am I waiting for the hands of judgment to punish me for enjoying chocolate truffles and snuggles with my man?

Logical Me wants to know why I do it and how can I fix it. Emotional Me wants to fully indulge myself, then mentally punish myself for weeks to come.

…And then there is this small, steady voice. It is barely audible, but when I breathe–just breathe–I can hear it. It’s stronger than I think. It reminds me that when I give myself permission to be kind to myself, to discover what makes me happy, to engage in simple moments of pleasure, that I in turn give my mother, my niece, my friends, all men and women, permission to do the same.

Accepting and loving ourselves gives others permission and strength to do the same.

I call that voice Loving Me.

Hold the Shame, Pass the Sweet Potato Fries

23 Feb
The day I decided to nourish and accept myself. It was a good day.

The day I decided to nourish and accept myself. It was a good day.

I don’t think we ever plan on ordering a side of shame with our sweet potato fries. I know I didn’t, but it happened. There I was, standing by the sweet potatoes in the grocery aisle, having a full-on guilt-trip about whether I should buy them or not.

I picked up the sweet potato. “No, it’s a starch.” I put the sweet potato back. “I don’t want to make my stomach issues any worse.”

“But my body needs carbohydrates.” I picked up the sweet potato again. Anxiety swept through my body. “I shouldn’t.” I put the sweet potato back. “I’ll just buy a butternut squash instead.”

Have you ever experienced the constant chatter of “shoulds” and “should nots” running through your mind about food? It’s exhausting, and believe me, you aren’t alone.

In 2008 my stress levels were at an all-time high, which turned into my health’s all-time low. I was diagnosed with low hormones, stage III adrenal fatigue, gluten intolerance and a parasite. Yippee. Part of my health restoration included cleaning up my nutrition, so I did. I felt physically fantastic and I was quickly healing… but emotionally, I began to get anxious around food.

Throughout this time, I continued my studies with nutrition and the psychology behind it to better help my clients. It was through this journey that I finally saw the disconnect between the valuable health coaching I was giving my clients, and the fact that I wasn’t listening to any of it in my own life.

I realized that I was using food to “fix” everything I thought was wrong with my life and me. This awareness lead me to read Marianne Williamson’s book “A Course in Weight Loss,” where I was introduced to the concept of mindful eating. A concept that stated I could truly enjoy food without judgment AND use it to nourish my body. Umm, yes please! It was the Cat’s Meow and I had to learn more, so I did. And I practiced. A lot. And I realized that food is not only a great source of enjoyment, but also an opportunity to nourish our body and respect our inner wisdom.

Thankfully, I also realized that food isn’t the only source of pleasure in our lives. Our heart is hungry for a lot of things: companionship, laughter, gratification, acceptance. Maybe that sweet craving isn’t for our favorite sweet treat, but maybe it’s for more sweetness in our life. More smiles. More bubble baths. And I’m pretty sure more hugs, which I have plenty to share… along with my sweet potato fries.

 

If you are holding yourself back from fully living life until you lose weight or have the perfect body, or you struggle with food anxiety, fatigue, cravings and digestive upset, please join me for Truly Nourished. This eight-week journey will help you move through negative self-talk, build a supportive environment, teach you to listen to your body and awaken your natural ability to support your health and well-being. Classes begin soon. Please contact me at stephsbell@yahoo.com for more information and to register.

Pizza Love: No Grains Allowed

16 Feb
Pizza Bliss. Excuse the lightening... we made it at night.

Pizza Bliss. Please excuse the poor lighting… we made it at night.

I’m not much of a Valentine’s Day person, but I will use ANY opportunity to celebrate with a heart-shaped pizza, plantain chip nachos and roasted vegetables. My boyfriend and I used Elana Amsterdam’s Pizza Crust recipe with a few additions/ substitutions (as noted below), my simple homemade pizza sauce and all sorts of tasty morsels piled high! For all of the dairy-free people, feel free to skip the cheese or use cashew cheese instead. I hope you ♥ this pizza as much as Josh and I did! Cheesy pun intended.

 

Ingredients:

Elana Amsterdam’s Pizza Crust

1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp Italian seasoning (this is an addition… I used basil, oregano, garlic and thyme)

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 egg

1 Tbsp olive oil (Elana’s recipe calls for grapeseed oil)

 

Homemade Pizza Sauce

1 garlic clove, smashed and minced

8 oz can tomato sauce, no sodium

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried parsley

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp fennel seed (some people do not like the taste of fennel seed, so feel free to leave this out)

 

Tasty Toppings

Nitrate-free Canadian Bacon, chunked

1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced

feta goat cheese to taste

 

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°. Mix all pizza crust ingredients together to make pizza dough. Place between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out until 1/4 inch thickness. Remove top parchment paper and place pizza dough on sheet pan with parchment paper between the dough and pan to prevent sticking. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

2. While dough is baking, make pizza sauce. Saute garlic in a skillet until golden and fragrant. Add in remaining ingredients and simmer on medium-low, stirring occasionally.

3. Chunk the Canadian bacon to desired size. Using a mandolin slicer, slice the red onion, bell pepper and jalapeno. Smash and mince garlic. Saute garlic and vegetables until desired softness is reached, about 8-10 minutes.

4. Remove the pizza crust when ready and layer with pizza sauce, Canadian bacon, sautéed vegetables and feta cheese. Place back in oven for an additional 10-20 minutes or until cheese begins to golden.

Serves 4

Meal Planning Made Simple: Healthy and Delicious Dinners for the Week

8 Feb
Yum! I love prep day!

Yum! I love prep day!

More often than not, I’m daydreaming about my next snack or meal. The thought of fresh guacamole on my taco salad makes me giddy with joy (insert lots of smiles and hip shaken’). The thought of someone NOT looking forward to their next meal or making a fast food choice instead, makes me tear a tad. So, in honor of all of you full-time busy bees, here’s a 1-week meal plan. If you put forth a little planning and set aside some time on Saturday or Sunday, you can still make fresh, healthy and delicious meals in 30 minutes or less. Cheers!

Saturday or Sunday Plan & Prep Day:

1. Plan meals for the week, make grocery list, buy groceries.

2. Clean and chop bell peppers, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. Clean and dry salad greens. Roast broccoli and half of carrots.

3. Shred rotisserie chicken; brown 1.5 lbs of beef and simmer with one jar salsa and chopped garlic.

4. Thaw frozen raw shrimp Wednesday night.

 

Mexican Monday: Taco Salad

Warm taco meat in the skillet or toaster oven. While heating, fill salad bowl with 2 cups greens, tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, black olives and sliced avocado or guacamole. Top with taco meat and more salsa if needed.

 

Curry Tuesday: Curry Chicken with Cauliflower

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, simmer rotisserie chicken, cauliflower, sweet potato (best to chop this fresh), bell peppers, tomato paste and sauce, curry spices of choice. Let simmer for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables and potato are done. If you want a creamier sauce, mix in a little coconut milk or plain greek yogurt.

 

Breakfast for Dinner Wednesday: Scrambled Eggs and Pancakes

Scramble eggs (2-3 per person). Make pancakes using 1 banana, 2 eggs, 2 Tbsp almond butter and cinnamon to taste. Mix and cook on 300° griddle like a regular pancake (this makes 2 servings). Serve with a little almond or cashew butter on the pancake (the banana already adds a yummy sweetness). Also serve with roasted broccoli and carrots–Heavens, I would never forget vegetables!

 

Stir Fry Thursday: Shrimp, Snow Pea, Asparagus and Cashew Stir Fry

Clean asparagus, cherry tomatoes and snow peas. Chop asparagus. Place in wok with coconut oil, coconut aminos and seasoning of choice (garlic, ginger, orange zest, etc.). Stir fry vegetables and add in thawed raw shrimp. Cook on high heat until done (about 10-15 minutes). Top with cashews.

 

Fish Friday: Salmon with Roasted Vegetables

Broil or steam Salmon in butter or olive oil; season with lemon, salt and pepper. Serve with roasted broccoli and carrots; top with sliced almonds.

Super Bowl Super Foods

26 Jan

IMG_1973Whether you’re hosting or bringing a dish to a Super Bowl party this Sunday, these simple recipes are sure to please your palate and body, leaving plenty of time for halftime dancing and game watching. Fully inflated football decorations are optional.

 

Appetizers: fresh fig (or date) and nitrate-free summer sausage kabobs, guacamole with red bell pepper and carrot dippers, sweet potato and cashew hummus

Main Event: bison chili

Dessert: individual small paper cups in team colors filled with 80% dark chocolate pieces and raw nuts and seeds (cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.)

 

The Cleanest Sloppiest Joe

19 Jan

IMG_1996I love eating comfort foods when temperatures begin to dip. This Sloppy Joe recipe is one of my favorites during the winter months. It includes immune supporting garlic and oregano, plus this dish is quick, easy, and free from MSG-laden canned whatchamacallits.

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb grass-fed ground beef, bison, or turkey

2 garlic clove, smashed and minced

1 small red onion, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

2 1/2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar

1/4 tsp cayenne

2 Tbsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp ground cloves

8 oz tomato paste

15 oz diced fire roasted tomatoes

Optional: Bubbies pickles

 

Directions:

1. In a large skillet or dutch oven, brown meat and saute onion, bell pepper and garlic until soft and onions are translucent. Drain grease.

2. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes

3. Serve topped with Bubbies pickles and roasted or sautéed vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, asparagus or bell peppers.

Serves 4-6

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

12 Jan

ghost-crab_w725_h476Have you ever heard of the Crab Theory? It’s pretty interesting. Here it goes: if you place one crab in a pot, it will easily crawl out, but if you put multiple crabs in a pot, they will pull anyone down who tries to escape to ensure they all meet the same fate.

There are many theories on the why: jealousy, resentment, equal the playing field, feel better about themselves… kinda sounds like human nature, huh? Have you ever attempted to make a positive change, like cutting down on cookie consumption, only to have your spouse restock the cookie stash (after you asked him/her not to) or your best friend telling you you’re “no fun” since you don’t want to go to the coffee shop that sells your favorite cookies? Yep, that sucks and makes doing something good for yourself feel like a drag.

Social support is critical when making positive change. So until your new change has become a habit, try spending a bit more time with people who build you up and a little less time with those that tear you down. While you build your new power posse (the friends and family that will go on a walk with you and enjoy eating healthier foods), try communicating the importance of why you are changing to your other friends and family and how much you’d appreciate their support. You can even assure them that while you want to be healthier for your grandkids, you will not guilt or pressure them to do the same. Who knows, if they don’t feel judged or feel scared that you’ll leave them behind, they may even warm up to ditching those cookies too.