Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June Wrap-Up

I would like to start out with wishing a warm welcome to new readers who have found their way here via the pages of Experience Life magazine. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment and best of luck on your journey to a healthier life. I'd also like to thank all my readers who keeping coming back. I didn't know that I would even have any readers when I started this blog and you're a big inspiration for me to keep writing. Thanks a million!

It's the last day of June. I can't believe how fast this month went by. I'm just back from my final walk up the mountain for the month. I set out to do at least a weekly mountain trip and I can happily say that I have accomplished what I set out to do. It's such a great walk, too. Tough but fun, the way a good workout should be. Did you accomplish your goals for June?

I haven't fully fleshed out my July goals, I will probably do that after the long weekend, which I am treating like a full-on vacation even though we are staying home. I know that more mountain walks will be part of the July exercise lineup as well as a one day juice fast. I'll also be resuming my weight training mid-month.

I'll be posting my monthly weigh-in tomorrow and will announce the winner of the cheese making book. If you haven't entered yet, today is the last day. CLICK HERE for the details.
I'm famished from my walk, so I'm off to have some breakfast and then shower and work. My last shift before stay-cation begins. I'll be watching the clock for sure! Have a fantastic day and see you back here tomorrow.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Chit-Chat

Don't forget to enter the cheese making book giveaway! You have until Wednesday night to enter. CLICK HERE for all the details. The winner will be announced on Thursday July 1st.

I'm just back from a lovely, long walk. We've been having 90+ degree weather for the last couple of weeks but the mornings are mild and dewy. This morning there was a really nice breeze, too. I've put weight lifting on the shelf for the time being in favor of outdoor walking because I just can't bear to lock myself away in the gym when it's so lovely out. I'll pick up where I left off once the heat, sun and humidity send me in search of shade and air conditioning.

This morning I saw an elderly gentleman who I have seen plenty of times before. He must walk the neighborhood several times a week, if not every day. He's got a big smile on his face, beautiful white hair and quick, strong gait. I am inspired by this man to carry on in my healthy lifestyle because having your health is tantamount to freedom and independence well into the golden years of life. I have been working with the elderly for over 16 years and I know all too well what happens when a person neglects their health. I assure you, it isn't pretty and you don't want to end up like that! It's never too late to start treating your body with love and respect. You can reverse the damage that you've done and your body will repay you in the most wonderful ways for years to come.

I have a pretty busy few days coming up with work shifts, housecleaning and tying up loose ends for my mini-vacation which begins on Thursday. I'm very excited for the long holiday weekend, Rob and I have some fun things planned. Getting together with friends, swimming at the pool, a date night dinner out, picking up the pastured broilers at the farm to name a few. I'll also try and get a garden update with photos up this weekend. It's been a disappointing showing so far but I'll save that for another post.

What are your plans for the Fourth of July weekend?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Try Something New: Gremolata

Gremolata may sound "chef-y" but it really isn't. Besides being fun to say, gremolata is simply a flavorful condiment made from chopped parsley, lemon zest and garlic. Greomlata typically accompanies the Italian dish Osso Bucco (braised veal shank) but it can be used to top just about anything and can be doctored up to suit any taste.

The sauce of my salmon and asparagus pasta dish is a gremolata to which I added almonds and capers and sauced it up with lemon juice and olive oil. It's so easy and fantastically delicious!

Gremolata takes just moments to prepare. Zest one lemon over a bowl using a microplane. Press a garlic clove or two into said bowl. Chop some parsley with a knife or borrow Vince's slap n' chop. Add parsley to bowl and mix. Devour!

Gremolata has a wonderfully bright, fresh flavor, perfect for warm weather and can perk up any dish that suffers from week night-itis. Use it to jazz up vegetables, fish and meat. Stir some traditional gremolata into creamy Dijon mustard for a flavorful dip for crudite. Swap in grated orange zest, tarragon and shallot to jazz up soy glazed grilled chicken. Love the flavors of pesto? Try garlic, toasted pine nuts and basil. Use your imagination!

Have you ever had or made gremolata? If not, get chopping!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Slow Down and Savor v. 2.0

I put tremendous care into selecting the most wonderful ingredients available to me and spend time and effort lovingly preparing them into nutritious and delicious meals for us to enjoy yet I still eat too damn fast.

For me, fast eating was a learned behavior. Members of my family have always been fast eaters. Climb in the way-way-way back machine with me to when my parents were still married. My father would very occasionally take us out for a meal on Sunday and it was rush rush rush so he could drop us off home and get back to "whatever" it was that he was up to. No chit-chat, just cram and scram. Very stressful memory, that. Growing up, family dinners were rarely a leisurely affair. It's something that I regret because the breaking of bread with loved ones should be a lovely and leisurely pursuit, as much about spending time with your people as about the food.

There's another element to fast eating. I've talked about this before, emotional eating is about distraction from feeling, and the payoff for me was that serotonin dump that I'd get after inhaling a box of Twinkies or a two-pound bag of peanut M&M's hidden in the couch cushions. The faster I ate, the less I had to think and feel, the faster I got filled up, the faster I could get lost in that great and terrible numb.

I've done lots of work into my emotional overeating issues and don't abuse food that way anymore yet the bad habit of fast eating lingers. I've started noticing at dinner the past couple of weeks that by the time I've finished eating, Rob's plate is still a third to half full. Granted he eats larger portions than I do, but that's no excuse for me to be eating so quickly. Noticing is the first step into helping to remedy the situation. And now I need to practice slowing it down at mealtimes.

Here is a great article from an Alaskan newspaper called Mindful Eating offers non-diet approach to good health.

Zen Habits has 5 fantastic reasons to slow down at meal times. Numbers 4 and 5 are my favorite.

In the longevity section at about.com, there is a simple yet powerful article by Mark Stibich, Ph.D. on how to slow down while eating. Called the "Fork Down!" technique, it basically calls for putting your fork down between bites and not picking it back up until you've finished chewing and swallowing. Such simple advice, but pretty tough for someone who's used to speed shoveling. I am going to give it a go because this is one habit I want to acquire. If you've overcome this bad habit, please share your advice!

Happiness isn't an empty plate, it's in each lovingly prepared bite. Even if you're eating your way through a box of Twinkies, joy isn't found at the bottom of the box, it's savoring each gooey, cream-filled bite.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The June/July Issue of Experience Life

The magazine hits the newsstands today, so pick up a copy. Also, the website is updated with much of the new content including my story... Check it out!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What $14 Worth of Great Health Looks Like...

This little lot from the Kennesaw Farmer's Market was "just picked" within the last 24 hours, straight from the garden to my kitchen. What is all this stuff? Let's start at the top...

Cucumbers for the Thai beef salad
A huge Armenian cucumber that I'll make a quick pickle for sandwiches and juice what's left
Zucchini for the juicer
Georgia peaches, from Peach County (I love that) from the "scratch and dent" box, 4/$1
A super ripe cantaloupe, the perfume on this thing is intoxicating
Red bell pepper
Mixed tomatoes for the chicken pesto salad
Sunburst or patty pan squash for the grill
Snap beans for the salmon and pasta dish
Baby white eggplant for grill, it's meant to be creamy and less bitter than traditional eggplant, I can't wait to try it

I can't help but reiterate the fact that the farmer's market is the best resource for the freshest most, beautiful produce at the absolute best prices. I love looking the grower's in the eye while they tell me about their gardens or farms and the way they like to prepare their goodies. They don't have to hide behind fancy packaging, lobbyist propaganda or marketing hype, the product tells it all.

If you haven't yet, please take a moment to locate a farmer's market or CSA in your area at Local Harvest.org. Support your local farming community!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Motivation

I woke up feeling like I had eaten way too much this weekend. This feeling led to a knee-jerk reaction, "I don't want to go to the gym." But then I stopped and asked myself, "Really?" The answer was no, not really. I want to go lift and ride the elliptical. It will wake me up, shake me up and make the day better all around. Now I'm back, having had a great workout. I feel awake, alive and ready to take on Monday.

Don't give in to the knee-jerk reaction, sometimes all it takes is a second thought to create the day you want to have, the life you want to live.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Photo Day

Ahhh, Sunday, even the name evokes a sense of relaxation and delight. Rob and I had a lovely morning at the pool, the teenagers like to sleep late and everyone else goes to church so we had the place to ourselves. I did some vigorous water jogging and some laps then spent the rest of the time just floating in the sun. We've just had a leisurely breakfast and plan on spending a pleasant Sunday afternoon together watching the World Cup.

Summer officially begins tomorrow but it came very early to our part of the country. The crape myrtles don't usually start blooming until mid summer at the earliest so this is a lovely treat this time of year. Isn't that purple heavenly?

I saw this little guy moving across one of our flagstone steps on Friday afternoon. This humble snail can teach us a lot about life...take your time, enjoy the ride and avoid getting stepped on.

That's all for now, my book is calling me. I bid you a splendid Sunday and hope your week is as joyous as...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Try Something New: Goat's Milk Yogurt

I'm not a yogurt fan of old. Plain yogurt is a ubiquitous "diet food" and to be honest it's just plain nasty (curdled, watery and sour is definitely not delicious.) If it wasn't original Dannon blueberry or that HFCS and fat laden custard style stuff, Fat Andra was not interested. But then I got turned on to the delight that is Greek yogurt. Such rich, creamy flavor and texture, yogurt became something I actually enjoyed eating. And I do, just about every day. But at Trader Joe's on Wednesday when I was dreading buying "more of the same", a lovely blue container in the dairy case caught my eye.

Enter the goat. I love goat cheese, so I figured that I'd love goat yogurt, too. It's a completely different animal (nudge*wink.) It's tangy and creamy like Greek yogurt but with a distinct grassy, licking the barn floor, goaty-finish. And the texture is unlike other yogurt. It's voluptuous in the mouth and silky on the tongue. It's wonderful as it comes but it's even better after being strained for a couple of hours. It transformed into a thick, tangy, velvety cloud!

Goat milk and products made from it are not only delicious but very nutritious. Easier on the digestive system than processed cow's milk, goat milk is a delicious source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin (vitamin B2,) conjugated lineolic acid and potassium. One 6-ounce serving of Trader Joe's goat milk yogurt contains just 100 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbohydrate and 7 grams of protein.

Definitely not "more of the same" for breakfast...

Strained goat yogurt mixed chunks of ripe, juicy nectarine,
topped with raw honey and cinnamon.

Goat milk yogurt is a welcome addition to my breakfast table. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Friday, June 18, 2010

No-Weigh Friday

I'm still in shock over the US v. Slovenia travesty. What a comeback, what a heartbreak! I'm recording the next game at 2pm, which is England v. Algeria. Rob and I will watch when he comes home from work. I made homemade British style baked beans earlier this week and they came out fantastic. I've got English toasting bread in the oven now. I will serve up "Beans on Toast" with gammon steak (we Yanks call it ham) for dinner. So even if his team loses, I think my hubby will be happy.

I walked the mountain with Lisa this morning and visited the farm for milk and eggs. I also picked up some of their beautifully pungent garlic, six huge heads of it. I can't wait to try it. I feel like I've been on the run most of the week and could use a little quiet time. Other than a little gardening tomorrow, (must soap and destroy mealy bugs attacking the taters) Rob and I are looking forward to a relaxing weekend. We're going to try and get up to the pool at some point (it's been hotter than a gorgeous girl doing a fire dance in a sweat lodge) and I'm just getting into Eat, Pray, Love so that should be a nice way to spend a few hours this weekend.

I hope to do some more writing. I have a back log of food porn and recipes and can't wait to tell you about my first taste of goat's milk yogurt. The floor is open to you, as always...do you have any requests? Questions? Comments? Ideas? I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Homemade Granola Bars

Since I started making Rob homemade breakfast muffins, I have wanted to expand the repertoire to give him a little more variety. Seeing this post on the lovely blog A Life Less Sweet gave me the inspiration to try my hand at granola bars. I used the linked recipe as a guideline but tweaked it to fit my pantry.

Cashew Cranberry Granola Bars

Oven to 325

Spray non-stick 9x13 inch baking pan lightly with canola spray

3 cups old-fashioned whole grain oats
1/4 cup golden flax meal
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 generous teaspoons of Penzeys cake spice
4 tablespoons very soft unsalted butter
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
one 4 ounce cuppy of unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup raw honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup toasted cashew pieces
1/2 cup craisins

Mix all ingredients with a wooden spoon until well combined. Press mixture into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until set and nicely golden brown. Cool completely (or they will crumble to a pile of rubble) on a wire rack, turn out onto a cutting board from pan and cut into bars (will make 16 to 24 depending on how small you slice them.) Devour!

The weather has turned very warm here, so I think it's best to store them in the fridge. Simple, simple, simple and absolutely delicious, these healthy to-go breakfast bars took no time at all to put together. Lightly sweet and nutty, the small amount of sweetener allows the whole grains, fruit and nuts really shine.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cheesy Giveaway!

I recently purchased this book from Amazon: 200 Easy Homemade Cheese Recipes: From Cheddar and Brie to Butter and Yogurt. Due to a poor packing job it arrived pretty beat up so I requested a replacement. Amazon was happy to oblige and it arrived in perfect condition.

I'm in awe of how some bloggers get the best stuff from companies to give away to their readers and because I have been lucky enough to win a few giveaways in the past, I have decided to keep the original copy as my working copy and offer up the brand spanking new book as a giveaway to my wonderful readers.

If you are interested in having your own copy of this book, just leave a comment to this post and I will randomly select a winner on July 1st.

Good luck and as always, thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Small Harvest

Happy Sunday! It's been such a lovely weekend so far. We've had an early spring so it's not surprising that summer has arrived early as well. It's so hot, it feels like mid July. Rob and I walked the neighborhood this morning, such a lovely walk. I'm going to make an omelet with some veggies from the garden. It's a small harvest but I'm excited nonetheless.

I snipped some herbs, spinach, nasturtium leaves and the first cherry tomatoes. The garden is growing much more slowly than we anticipated. We should have lettuce and beets by now but we don't. We're so shady here that we underestimated the amount of light the beds are getting. We hope to have remedied the problem yesterday by having our yard man come and prune back the canopy to let more light hit the beds. I'd hate to have put the work and funds into the garden and not have it pay off in the kitchen. We shall wait and see.

Until then, I'm going to keep tending and we'll eat what is ready. The spinach is delicious, rich in water with this lovely fresh saline finish and the nasturtium leaves are so spicy and delicious, like nothing I've ever tasted. Going to go crack some eggs now. Have a fantastic day!

Friday, June 11, 2010

No-Weigh Friday

These weeks are disappearing faster than toilet paper in my house. It's been a great week, in addition to getting plenty of sleep, I started some new supplements to help balance my hormones and boost my energy. It seems to be working. I'm pleased with my progress in the exercise department, too. I walked the neighborhood, hiked the mountain and got in two balls-out weight lifting sessions. I'm up to 7.5 pound dumbbells on YTWL and I'm still feeling it. What's YTWL? Have a look...

I do them on a 30 degree incline bench, but the arm movements are the same. It's so much harder than it looks. Have you started doing any weight lifting?

I've been out shopping this morning, stocking the pantry for the weekend. We're off to a low country boil this evening, the wine is chilling and I just popped the corn casserole that I'm taking along in the oven. Yes, that corn casserole, the insanely delicious Paula Deen version. I did alter it slightly because it can be greasy. I halved the butter and I used light sour cream. I bought a triple cheese blend (sharp cheddar, mild cheddar and creamy jack) for the crowning glory. It's a good recipe, foolproof, a crowd-pleaser and it sits well. Do you have a favorite corn casserole recipe? I'd love to hear it!

Has World Cup fever reached your house yet?
We're all wrapped up in the fanfare and definitely looking forward to the England v. USA match tomorrow. We've got a special meal planned, smoked brisket, slow-cooked bourbon beans and a grilled salad with Georgia peaches and Stilton. We'll get the food slow-cooking in the morning and dine after the match. I know Rob will be heartbroken if England loses, but I'll be happy either way as I'm just here for the brisket. ;) *makes shifty eyes and whispers...c'mon USA*

The timer is about to go, so I'm off. Whatever you're doing this weekend, enjoy it and stay safe!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Goodie: Atlanta Fresh Greek Yogurt

I had been dying to try this handmade artisan crafted yogurt since I read the write-up in Atlanta magazine. I think they were vending at the Marietta Farmer's Market on Saturday but it was so crowded that I didn't get to the booth to investigate further. But Harry's came through for me and they had Atlanta Fresh in stock. Sort of. The display was so picked over that I knew it was going to be good.

The flavor selection is a foodie's dream, Ginger Peach, Vanilla Caramel, Black Cherry and Port Wine to name a few...each of their flavors is available in full fat, 2% and no-fat. I bought one little cup, pricey at $2.69 for 6 ounces. I chose Tropical Sweet Heat which is mango, pineapple and habanero pepper sweetened with brown sugar and mixed into their 2% Greek yogurt. Oh, my! This was a treat to end all treats. The flavor combination was so perfectly balanced, top notes of the bite-sized chunks of sweet tropical fruit, the deep sweetness of brown sugar followed by the delicious heat of the hot pepper, cooled by the uber-creamy yogurt. I'm both happy and sad I bought but the one cup. If I bought more than one, it could have gotten dicey, this yogurt is so moreish I would have kept going back for more.

Their website Atlanta Fresh.com is a wealth of information about their products and the company's philosophy is right up my ally: "Local milk, local cows, local farm, local farmer, locally made! Buy local!" They provide links to the origins of their products, too, like the raw, unfiltered wildflower honey harvested in North Georgia from the Blue Ridge Ridge Honey Company. Mmmmm! I'm going to have to try the honey cup next time.

If you're in Georgia, try some. You may be happy you did or you may be angry with me for getting you addicted.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I Fear Change

My upbringing left me with a deep rooted fear of change. I'm not talking about superficial things like changing lipstick or hair color but things like jobs, moving, changes to my surroundings, lifestyle. Even thinking about this sort of change can send me into an epic anxiety spiral. My "comfort zone" has always been sacred. Too many times I have allowed my fear of change to push me from my sacred place and right into feeding my face. And once I stuffed myself into this fat person I barely recognized, fear of change kept me there. Do you see where I'm going with this?

I knew I *had* to change, I knew that keeping myself submerged in a life full of comfort food, and that piling on the pounds was keeping me from the life I wanted to live. It was also shortening my life. Think about it. Overeating this crap I called comfort food was not only keeping me from living the life I desperately wanted, one of fun, vitality, curiosity, adventure but was going to cut it short! But how does one make a change when change is such a fearful prospect?

One small change at a time, one meal at a time, one day at a time. I made changes gradually so that rather notice the change, I took in only the positive outcome. And here I sit 19 months later living the life I want to live. A life of learning, seeing, doing. Making the change from a terribly unhealthy lifestyle has opened me up to new and wonderful experiences that I don't think I would have had if I stayed hidden in my big, fat, sacred comfort zone.

I'm starting to see change differently now. "Change" doesn't give me the same sort of anxiety as it used to, nor does it send me flying into the pantry to stuff my face. Life can't exist in a vacuum, change is inevitable and needn't cause fear...
~ Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become. ~ Unknown
Is fear of change keeping you from living the life you want?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Herb Blogging: Mint

Mint is quite easy to grow if you buy small plants at the beginning of the season and set them in a pot. It will run wild like a weed if not contained so be careful if planting it in a garden. Mint is pretty and fragrant and so tasty. I have a pot with sweet mint and orange mint. The sweet mint has that classic fresh, minty sweet taste, the orange mint has a sharp, citrus bite to it.

Left~orange mint, Right~sweet mint

There are many applications for mint, it goes well in salad, soup and pairs beautifully with carrots, new potatoes and fresh, garden peas. You can make mint sauce to gild tender roast lamb or make a cool mint and yogurt sauce (raita) to pair with spicy Indian cuisine. Fresh mint was front and center on the garnish platter for last night's Pho Ga. You can brew it up as a tea as an excellent digestive or brew it with black tea for a refreshing iced summer bevvie. Mint also makes wonderful cocktails! I'm no mixologist but I made a gorgeous mint cocktail for the holiday weekend, if I do say so myself.

The cocktail I made is a variation of the Gin Gin Mule, I made a simple syrup of 1 cup water and 1 cup organic evaporated cane juice, brought it to a boil added a big bundle of mint that I crumpled to bruise the leaves. I removed it from the heat and let the mint steep for 15 minutes. I strained it into a mason jar which will keep in the fridge for a goodly while, if it lasts that long. For the cocktail, which I dubbed Gin Mint Fizz, I muddled mint leaves, thinly sliced ginger root and freshly squeezed lime juice in the bottom of a tall glass. I then filled the glass with ice and added 2 ounces of gin, 1 ounce of mint syrup, topped it all off with a hefty splash of spicy ginger beer and gave it a gentle stir as not to disturb the lovely fizz. Rob, who is a tried and true G&T man, enjoyed it as much as I did.

Friday's dinner highlighted mint. I purchased some fresh English peas at the farmer's market on Tuesday morning. So sweet and tender, these peas needed no cooking whatsoever. I shelled the peas and made a salad with lots of fresh mint leaves and snipped chives with just a drizzle of Sicilian olive oil and a splash of white balsamic vinegar. Grilled herb marinated chicken breast and fresh sweet corn served as companions to this beautiful spring salad. It was delicious! I'm not a fan of frozen peas and had no idea that peas could have such a fresh taste and texture and it was a perfect match for the mint.

Monday, June 7, 2010

New Goodie: Penzeys Cake Spice

Happy Monday! It's a beautiful day and after several nights of early to bed I feel well rested. I can't stress enough the importance of getting plenty of good quality sleep. With the hormonal changes my body is experiencing, making rest a priority is definitely going to improve how I function in my daily life. I'm back from the gym after a vigorous strength training/cardio intervals workout and I don't feel like a wet dishrag. In fact, I feel 11 kinds of great.

I had a beautiful herb blog about mint all ready to go but I was so exited about my new goodie that I had to come share it with you. Penzeys Cake Spice!!! Cake Spice is a sugar-free blend of China cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and clove. I have been putting this on my fruit, yogurt, cottage cheese, in Rob's breakfast muffins, everything. This blend is so flavorful, spicy and sweet it makes everything tastes like Nana's cookies, giving my sweet tooth a huge hug all without any sugar!

I may have blogged about banana custard oats before, a favorite of Lori at Finding Radiance. I wanted to love this breakfast dish because it's so healthy and filling (how can that few ingredients make that much food?) but I've never been won over by the taste. This morning I decided to give them another try to to see if the Cake Spice would make me love them and sure'nuff, it's custard oatmeal love.

I used 1 cup unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze, 1 small fairly ripe banana, 1 serving of organic rolled oats, 2 tablespoons organic golden flax meal, a generous teaspoon of Cake Spice and not quite a double portion of liquid egg whites because I wanted extra protein post weight lifting. The breakdown of this is 395 calories, 58 carbs, 11 grams of fat, 11 grams of fiber and 20 grams of protein. And so much volume, nutrition and delicious flavor that one bowl will keep me going, snack-free, until lunch.

You must try Penzeys Cake Spice! I have more on Penzeys coming soon, every little jar I ordered has something wonderful to offer. I hope your week is off to a great start, enjoy the day.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Magazine Has Landed!

I have been sitting on this since December but since the advanced copies of the magazine arrived in the mail, I feel confident to share my news...

I'm going to be in Experience Life magazine!


I was contacted by the senior web editor, Jamie Martin, back in December when I referenced the article Last Chance Victories. Jamie asked if I'd be interested in being the subject of the Real Life Stories feature they do every issue. Needless to say I was elated, excited and freaked out all at once. But Jamie was so nice and put my mind at ease. She told me that I would get an e-mail from the writer to set up a phone interview.

In January I was contacted my Suzy Frisch who could not have been nicer. We talked for two hours and I have no idea how she managed to turn my ramblings into such a nicely put together two-page story. I'm honored that I get to be a part of such a fantastic healthy lifestyle magazine. It was a highly positive experience and final layout looks better than I could have imagined.

Pick up the July/August issue of Experience Life and look for the story aptly titled "The Blog that Changed Me."

Friday, June 4, 2010

TGIFriday, Sort Of

I'm happy to report that my weight has stabilized right back where it should be. Even though I'm only doing "official" weigh-ins once a month, I still hop on the scale from time to time to keep in touch. Having released myself from the perceived pressure of the scale totally works for me.

I had an epiphany Tuesday morning, a moment when I knew deep down that these changes I have made are really sticking. I used to dread the morning after a weekend, a holiday weekend or a vacation, knowing that I was going to have to "start my diet" and knowing that I would fail miserably. It's an awful thing to start every week with self loathing. Know what I mean? Sure, we had plenty of food related treats over the long weekend, wine and cocktails, some beautiful cheese, a great restaurant meal and even ice cream bon bons but overeating is no longer part of the equation and we never veered away from the core of healthy eating. There was our fresh juice, fresh fruit with breakfast, lots of fresh veggies with the meals, plus walks and activity. So there was just no need to "start back" on Tuesday morning. It's just so liberating!

I'm happy it's Friday, but I woke up feeling worse for wear with this lingering vague headache. I've not been feeling like myself for a little while now and being a health professional self-diagnosis comes with the territory. The diagnosis~Peri-menopause UGH! I apologize in advance to any gentleman who may be reading for the following TMI of a womanly nature. My periods are totally different, heavy and the spotting seems never ending. I'm feeling sort of anxious but nothing like the food-induced anxiety of the past. My libido has left the building, I can't seem to get enough sleep and feel especially rough the mornings after I work.

I've rearranged my weight lifting schedule for June, I'm going to lift on mornings when I've had a full night's sleep and not on a morning after a work shift. I'm not really getting the sustained energy boost it usually gives me. This is all upsetting because I've just gotten my health back and I've really come to enjoy all the energy that comes from healthy eating and exercise. No hot flashes to report, so that's one little nugget of joy to hold on to. I need to do some research on the appropriate supplements and alternative treatments and will talk to my gynecologist on my next visit just to make sure it's not something else. If any of you have had any experience with this, any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I did manage to get myself dressed to visit the farm this morning, it's always a highlight of the week. I picked up milk and eggs and got more onions and summer squash to make a vegetable tian to pair with the bison strip steak I bought at the market yesterday. I put my deposit down on two more broilers and since I know they are male this time, they've gotten more appropriate names, Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. Heee! They'll be ready for pick up on July 3rd, just in time for our next long holiday weekend. We should have plenty of produce from our own garden to pair with the chicken next time, so that's pretty exciting.

I've spent the morning blogging, finishing off some upcoming posts. I've got some more herb blogging coming up and I'm going to work on a particularly gushy post about our dining experience at Vingenzo's last Friday evening so there will be lots of good food porn coming up.

If any of you have any questions for me, feel free to leave them in the comments, I'll happily address them. I hope you're all well and I wish you a wonderful weekend. See you back here soon.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gooseberry Patch: Grandma's Wilted Greens

My guest post at No Reason Needed is up. It's a contest to win a cookbook, like I really need an excuse to cook, snap some food porn and eat. This recipe is a keeper, I hope you'll try it!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Herb Blogging: Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

I was watching an episode of the Barefoot Contessa the other day, Ina was cooking from her gorgeous garden. She picked off this huge bunch of flat leaf parsley and said, "Parsley is the most underrate herb but I just love it!" I have to agree, parsley is so much more than just a garnish to be pushed aside.

Parsley is fresh and tangy and has a lovely, almost crisp texture. And it so easy to grow in a pot, just some sun and water is all it needs. Parsley loves to be harvested. It never ceases to amaze at how quickly it fills in after I have harvested a bunch for cooking. Parsley is nature's breath mint. I always chew a few leaves after I eat and it makes my mouth feel so fresh. Try it!

I sprinkle chopped parsley on just about everything, there is nothing like that bright green punch it gives to any dish. I like to put parsley with basil when I make pesto, too. And the stems add great flavor to stocks and soups. I made this dish last week where parsley played a major role in the symphony of flavors, it was a real hit.

Salmon and Asparagus Pasta

Serves 2

1.25 ounces of almonds ("just a handful") chopped and lightly toasted
1 fat garlic clove, peeled and minced
zest and juice on one lemon
2 tablespoons of chopped capers
big handful of parsley leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (I like the spicy Sicilian kind) and more for drizzling
12 ounces of asparagus, chopped into bite size pieces
6 ounces of Dreamfield's rotini pasta
5-6 ounces of wild salmon from a can or pouch (I'm not a fan of fresh salmon but this stuff is so sweet and mild, I really like it)
salt and pepper

Set the water to boil for the pasta (add some salt when the water comes to a boil.) To a bowl, add the almonds, garlic, lemon zest and juice, capers, parsley, salmon, olive oil and black pepper to taste. Mix to combine and set aside to let the flavors marry.

Cook the pasta according to the package, when two minutes remain on the timer add the asparagus to the pot. Cook for two minutes, then drain. Always reserves some of the pasta water. Put the pasta and asparagus back into the hot pot, add the salmon/parsley mixture and toss well. Add some pasta water and some more olive oil if it looks a bit dry. Garnish with more fresh parsley leaves. Devour!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Monthly Weigh-In: June 1st

I hope you had a fantastic weekend! It's June 1st, another month has come and gone but it was a lovely month of May. Weighing in after a holiday weekend is often scary but it really wasn't bad at all, I'm at 177 pounds, so just one half pound north my low of 176.5.

I just popped out to the Kennesaw farmers market they have on Tuesday mornings. It's small but there was a nice variety. I picked up some English peas to shell, patty pan squash and some squash blossoms. I think a fresh pea and mint salad sounds delicious. I still have my turnip greens to cook up. Did you know that storing greens wrapped in damp paper towels in a paper bag keeps them fresh and crisp? I wish I could remember where I heard that tip, but it really works. I checked the greens this morning expecting them to be wilted and horrible but they are as lovely and fresh as the day I bought them. I'll be cooking them tomorrow for a cookbook contest on another blog. I'll post the link to that when it's ready.

What are your goals for June? I'd like to break 175 this month, so clean eating, lots of water and plenty of walking. I'm starting Stage 5 of New Rules tomorrow and want to tackle a walk up the mountain at the very least once per week through the month of June. I picked up lots of shifts again this month, so that should keep me out of trouble, too.

I'll have some garden updates as things fill in some more. I think my tomatoes have rebounded so that's good news. I have some cherry tomatoes reddening up, I can't wait to taste them. Have a great week and I'll be back with you soon!