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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.

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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.

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

Chicken Vegetable Marinara with Spaghetti Squash

22 Dec
Serve the sauce blended, partially blended or chunky (like mine) for a healthy and fresh dinner.

Serve the sauce blended, partially blended or chunky (like mine) for a healthy and fresh dinner.

I’ll be honest, this dish does include some time in the kitchen (60-80 minutes) for prepping and cooking, but your health and taste buds will be justly rewarded! It is also a great dish for hiding vegetables from picky eaters and boosting everyone’s’ health. Either blend part or all of the vegetables with an immersion blender to make a thick spaghetti sauce or leave the vegetables whole. No matter what you choose, you’ll create a nutritious, preservative-free homemade spaghetti sauce.

 

Ingredients:

2 lbs chicken breast

1 spaghetti squash

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 acorn squash, peeled and chopped

2 heads of broccoli, cut into florets

6 carrots, chopped

2 red bell peppers, chopped

6 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced

1 24 oz jar of tomato sauce, low sodium

3 Tbsp dried oregano

3 Tbsp dried basil

1 bay leaf

1/2-3/4 tsp sea salt

20 turns black pepper

 

Directions:

1. In a dutch oven or glass baking dish, add a 1/4 cup of water and chicken breasts with a pinch of sea salt. Cover with the lid (or foil) and slow roast on 325° for 45-60 minutes. Let the chicken rest for 20 minutes before cutting it into chunks. Set aside.

2. While chicken is roasting, chop the spaghetti squash in half, remove the seeds and place cut side up on a baking sheet with a little olive oil. Bake for 45 minutes or until finished. Allow to cool before using a fork to remove the spaghetti squash from the skin.

3. While chicken and spaghetti squash are cooking, chop the vegetables (acorn squash, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, garlic). When the chicken is finished baking, remove it from the dutch oven, pour out the water and add the olive oil. Then add the vegetables and garlic and saute for 15 minutes. (If you do not have a dutch oven, a large stock pot will work too).

4. Next add the tomato sauce, herbs and chicken and simmer for 15 minutes. If you want to blend the sauce, simmer first without the chicken, then blend it and add the chicken at the end.

5. Serve chicken marinara over the spaghetti squash and enjoy!

Options: additional vegetables (onion, zucchini, eggplant) or top with chopped green onions, olives and/or goat cheese–just have fun with it!

Serves 4-5

Top 10 Healing Herbs and Spices

15 Dec

“Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be food.” ~Hippocrates

Roasted Curried Cauliflower courtesy of NomNom Paleo. Find the recipe here.

Roasted Curried Cauliflower courtesy of NomNom Paleo. Find the recipe here.

As I watched “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” I remembered how many healing herbs and spices are present in Indian cuisine. Herbs and spices not only add flavor and pizzazz to vegetables and meats, but they serve as a halo for your health too. There is a reason why some of the oldest cultures in the world use these spices and herbs in their daily cooking. I listed them below in no particular order, but for the benefit of eating to your good health. Cheers!

1. Cayenne: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cancer-fighting properties, increases metabolism and stabilizes blood sugar levels.

2. Garlic: antioxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, increases heart health and wards off vampires

3. Tumeric: aids digestion, anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties

4. Ginger: aids digestion, anti-inflammatory and soothes upset stomach

5. Oregano: anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and antioxidant

6. Cinnamon: increases heart health, stabilizes blood sugar levels, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and high in fiber

7. Cloves: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-bacterial

8. Coriander Seeds: aids digestion, antioxidant, anti-bacterial and calms mood

9. Sage: increases brain power and mood, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, stabilizes blood sugar levels and cancer-fighting properties

10. Rosemary: decreases fatigue and increases brain power

 

Word of Caution: as awesome as these herbs and spices are, it is always critical to consult your doctor or health care practitioner to ensure they don’t interfere with your medication or health issues. For example, some of their healing properties do include thinning the blood and dilating blood vessels.

Bakers Gonna Bake: 5 Tips for Healthier Holiday Sweets

8 Dec
My own stash of liquid gold for special occasions aka blueberry muffins.

My own stash of liquid gold for special occasions aka blueberry muffins.

…as if you aren’t already sweet enough.

Cookies will be baked and brittle will be broken this holiday season. So, why not make your holiday treats as amazing as possible with a lot of love and a little less blood sugar imbalance.

1. Liquid Gold. Practice swapping processed refined sugar for the real deal. Try using local honey, pure maple syrup or low glycemic coconut nectar and coconut palm sugar. Conversion: 1 cup refined sugar = 3/4 cup liquid sweetener. If you are using the coconut palm sugar, which is a fab replacement for brown sugar, the conversion is 1:1.

2. Go Herbal. You can really lower calories and the glycemic load by replacing your processed refined sugar with stevia. This natural herb is low glycemic and just 1 tsp of powered or liquid stevia equals 1 cup of sugar (1 Tbsp of sugar = 1/4 tsp powered stevia or 6-9 drops liquid). The Sweet Leaf Stevia brand is a great choice. NOTE: using too much will leave a bit of a bitter aftertaste.

3. Go Nutty. Since most recipes call for processed refined flours which jack-up your blood sugar levels, try using lower glycemic almond or coconut flour. For incredibly yummy recipes utilizing these flours, please visit Danielle Walker’s and Elena Amsterdam’s websites.

4. Cut the Crust. Channel your inner 4-year-old and skip the crust. Bake individual ramekins filled with your favorite custard or pie. Not only does it control portion size, but it adds a sense of fancy-pantsness to your meal. Yes, that is a real word… to me.

5. Chocolate Black Out. Melting dark chocolate (70% cacao or more) and dipping fruit, almonds, cashews or hazelnuts in it is the Bee’s Knees! Not only is it lower in sugar, but it is super easy too.

Wishing you and your family a tasty and healthy holiday season! Steph