growth

NEW YEAR'S PRESENT

LASDI©

LASDI©

Happy New Year! What a wonderful celebration of life we have in each New Year. We put so much stock into it being a chance to make peace with the year of old and look forward with hope to the year to come. That’s why we make resolutions. We resolve to do things better; to make things right.

For some of us, that means removing the toxic things from our life. Those toxic things could be anything from food to our relationships with certain people. I have done this very thing in my own life; in both areas, in fact. I often wonder about that, though. In looking back, I don’t think I waited until the New Year to do so. Can you imagine if I had? If there is something toxic presently in your life, do you say to yourself, “I know New Year’s is six months away, but I think I’ll wait to remove it until then!” If it is toxic, that means it is somehow making you sick. If you have the power to remove what is making you sick immediately, why would you wait?

Most of us use the New Year to eat healthier and / or work out. Right on! If waiting until then is what drives you to be successful at it, then that’s what you should do, as long as it works! But statistics say that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. 80%?!?

That is not to say I have not done the very same thing myself, of course. In fact, this last January 2nd, I re-started SHEsTox – The Inside-Out Detox & Cleanse. I am the creator, and I have many clients that do it and that also have re-started it, or new clients for the New Year starting it for the first time. I try very hard to live well and eat right during the year. If I didn’t, I am one of those people that would weigh 300 pounds! (It’s happened before!) But like most people, I tend to indulge during the holidays. My week to do so in particular is the week between Christmas and New Year’s. We have so many traditions that are wrapped around food! Chinese takeout on Christmas Eve, Pajamas and PannyCakes on Christmas morning, a smoked goose and brisket with potato kugel for Christmas dinner, any leftover cookies or bread from the neighbors’ Christmas baskets we make (can’t let any go to waste, of course!), traditional vera bizzi (pronounce ‘vedda-beet-see’), full of pasta, for New Year’s Eve, and a greasy, cheesy, double burger with fries on New Year’s Day! Yes. Every single one of those things is tradition. So, given that week of my life, I have no choice but to re-start healthy living!

But that does not mean I don’t try really hard the rest of my year challenging myself to be healthy from the inside-out – in mind, body, and spirit. I don’t wait until each New Year to make a conscious decision to live well. It’s not easy, but absolutely NOTHING good comes easy.

I reflect on the past. If I didn’t, I would have nothing to learn from and no growth in my life. And I always look toward the future. If I didn’t, I would not have goals to meet or success to focus on. But more than either of those things, I try very hard to live in the present. The present is the truth of where we are. And if you cannot find the truth where you are, where else can you expect to find it?

In my experience, I have learned that the continuous search for happiness will cause you to be unhappy, and that the greater part of happiness depends on our outlook and not our circumstances. If you train yourself to live in the present moment and see the blessings for what they are, the things that make you unhappy will be seen as an opportunity for growth. This is not to say bad things don’t or won’t happen, or that we won’t make decisions that aren’t the best, but it is to say there will always be joy to be had if we will only see it and receive it. And that doesn’t have to be set aside for one day of the year! Life’s far too short for that!

So I say again to you, Happy New Year! I pray that every day within it, you try really hard to detoxify yourself from the inside-out in mind, body, and spirit, and look toward your future of success with determination. But mostly, I pray you are able to unwrap the present blessings that surround you!

For the purpose of New Year’s present, I am adding some of my traditions from the week I spoke of above, but with a healthier twist! Enjoy them. They’re my New Year’s present to YOU!

TRADITIONAL NEW YEAR’S VERA BIZZI:

Farfalle Pasta – Farfalle means ‘butterfly’ in Italian, which represents transformation for the New Year

(For healthier version, you can use organic whole grain pasta, or substitute tofu shirataki noodles of any shape)

Kielbasa Sausage – Represents hearty provision for the New Year

(For healthier version, you can use turkey or chicken, or leave it out for Meatless Monday!)

Cabbage – The vegetable leaves represent good health and nutrition for the New Year

Black-Eyed Peas – This lowly pea represents humility throughout the New Year (I use dried, but feel welcome to use two cans, drained, instead)

Onions – Represents the sprouting of growth and rebirth in your New Year

Garlic – This odorous bulb represents continued breath of life throughout the New Year

Carrots – Represents great vision in your life for the New Year

(additional ingredients for this recipe: extra virgin olive oil (evoo), sea salt & black pepper to taste, 1 tbs garlic powder, chicken, beef, or vegetable stock)

If using dried beans, clean and cook according to instructions, sprinkling with sea salt and pepper to taste as you go. Remember, when it comes to salt, you can always add but you can’t take away, so be careful!

Cook pasta according to instructions but using stock of your choice in place of water. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Add cooked or canned black-eyed peas and stir.

Heat a large pan, dry, on medium-high heat for two minutes, then add enough evoo to barely cover the bottom and let heat for another two minutes. Add one small chopped onion and four finely chopped cloves of garlic and stir. Peel and chop three carrots and add to the pan. Cook until barely caramelized, about five minutes, stirring only once in between.

While this is cooking, slice your kielbasa sausage. Add to the pan and cook another ten minutes, stirring only once or twice in between. While the pan mixture cooks, rough chop half a head of cabbage. Toss with ¼ cup evoo, sea salt and pepper to taste, and garlic powder. Broil for ten-to-fifteen minutes, until desired consistency, stirring about twice in between cooking time.

Add sausage mixture and cooked cabbage to your beans and pasta and toss well. Good luck! (Get it??)

BUTTERNUT SQUASH PANNY-CAKES

(this recipe can also be found on my SHE Sure Can Cook Blog HERE!)

2 cups butternut squash

extra virgin olive oil

1 cup almond flour

4 eggs

sea salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

1/2 tsp baking soda

coconut oil

For my butternut squash, I bought pre-peeled and cubed at the grocery store. It’s just easier and faster. I tossed them with a little bit of evoo and placed them on a baking sheet. I broiled them for about ten minutes until they were cooked through, and then put them into a standing mixer bowl. If you don’t have a standing mixer, a hand mixer will do just fine! Place all other ingredients up to coconut oil into mixing bowl and mix until blended into a loose batter consistency.

Heat heavy pan (I use my cast-iron griddle, flat side!) without oil for about two minutes. Add about a tablespoon of coconut oil before each panny-cake prior to cooking and adjust heat with each one accordingly. Ladle or pour desired amount onto pan and cook over medium heat until browned. Just like a regular panny-cake, when you see the bubbles on the upside, flip it carefully and cook the other side until brown.

NOTES: This is a great low-carb substitute for bread, which is what I intended for a breakfast sandwich for The Hubster; however, if you would like a sweeter panny-cake, add 1 teaspoon of (organic) sugar to the batter and add your favorite (organic or fully natural) syrup after cooking and prior to eating! I just squashed the bacon, egg, and cheese right between two huge pieces and watched it disappear with a smile on The Hubster’s face!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH KUGEL

2 16-oz store-prepped butternut squash cubes

1 small onion, chopped finely

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 egg

1 cup heavy cream

½ tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp garlic powder

Toss butternut squash, onion, and cheddar cheese together in a greased 9 x 13 casserole dish. Beat together egg and heavy cream and pour over the squash / onion / cheese mixture. Add seasonings and carefully fold together until well mixed. Pat down a bit so that it’s a somewhat flat on top. Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 45 minutes. Let sit for a minimum of five minutes before serving!

NOTES: This is FANTASTIC for all you low-carbers like me! (Year-round!)

IN A PINCH

SHE2016©

SHE2016©

There are bad pinches and there are good pinches.  It is much like salt.  Too much of it can ruin a dish.  But I happen to know that just a pinch of salt can make the flavor of something pop.

A pinch doesn’t always make one feel warm and fuzzy, though.  

As a little girl, there were two different kinds of pinches I remember: the kind that was wonderful, like the kind my grandfather would gently give me right on the tip of my nose after he would kiss me hello.  And then there was the one that would leave a sting on the back of my arm or hi-nee from my parent when I would misbehave in public.

Some pinches can hit ya right in the feels.  Like the moments that pinch your heart.  

I can remember the very second each of my children were born.  I can remember how my heart felt like it would explode because I was overwhelmed with joy as they took their first breath of life (and screamed their bloody heads off).  I could literally feel a lovely wrench in my chest.  It is the kind of pinch I will never forget and always hold with me.

Then there was the moment someone I loved passed away.  The pinch I felt in my heart was there, but much different from that of the joy I knew from life being given.  I distinctly remember standing where I was for what seemed like forever, thinking how much I was going to miss them; how I thought the terrible, achy pinch in my heart would never go away.  And I must say, though it has eased up some, the scar from that particular pinch is still there.

I’ve been in many a precarious position in my life.  Sometimes I put myself there, and sometimes it was merely the circumstances.  But either way, I wound up in a pinch.  

When I was a teenager, I made the conscious decision to go into a store with someone I knew was going to shoplift.  I didn’t take anything.  Well actually, I was GOING TO.  But at the last second I chickened out.  I was questioned when she got caught because I was with her.  Luckily the cameras showed I had not taken anything but simply because I was with her I found myself in quite a pinch!  (For the benefit of the reader needing an ending to that particular story, I did NOT end up in the slammer.)

Back when I was a young, single mom of two small children, my tire blew out on the highway. I had never changed a tire before, let alone on a busy road.  (I sure did learn FAST!!)  Even though that was something out of my control, I was most DEFINITELY in a pinch!  (No worries, Folks.  As you can see that one turned out all right, for I am writing this many years later.)

I used to always wonder what a pinch-hitter was when I heard the term used in baseball, until someone explained to me it was a substitute batter – someone to replace the batter when the team is in a pinch.  

I married my Pinch Hitter.  He is definitely my substitute batter when I find myself in a pinch.  Example:  the other day I had a catering gig that called for – wait for it……SIX-HUNDRED cake ball truffles.  Now these beauts cannot be stacked on top of one another or their gorgeous candy coatings and lovely decorations will crack and break.  I was going to have to make several trips back and forth in order to get the beloved cake ball truffles to their destination with no harm to befall them!  But my Pinch Hitter got me out of the pinch in the coolest way possible.

It’s too hard for my non-engineer-way-of-thinking brain to explain, but essentially, he took some cardboard and wine bottles we use for projects (not the hardest part of my job, emptying those bottles......wink!) from the garage, and did this:

SHE2016©

SHE2016©

Hence, it took one trip, and all the truffles were unscathed.

Think about the pinches – the bad ones and the good ones.  Some of them hurt and can leave a sting or even a scar.  Some of them are wonderful and make you remember the joy life can bring.  Think of the pinch hitters in your life that have helped you make it through something unscathed.  Or perhaps you were that pinch hitter a time or two.  Either way, with every pinch comes growth in our lives – like the pinch of salt that can make the flavor of something pop.