“YOU GOTTA GO THROUGH IT”

This is one book author’s opinion, and I am leaning toward believing he’s right:

“Anxiety symptoms (as well as depression) can be the psyche’s way of pushing you to explore and actualize an unrealized potential in your life…” – Edmund J. Bourne

This sentence, the one I am now typing and you are reading, has already been a handful of other sentences that I have deleted. I’ve meant the words and ideas, but read them over and they seem so phony and is it even fair to dish out advice or opinions when you have trouble accepting them for yourself?

It has been a good year for me. A year of working hard, making scary changes (edit: they weren’t that scary at all, I came to find), facing fears and sometimes really good dumb luck. But my focus on all the changes shifted me away from my desire to constantly be proactive in self-development and self-improvement. I know, I know. If you rolled your eyes, I can’t blame you. Though I can testify in my own experience, surrounding myself with books, dvd’s, audio books or podcasts, blogs and (when I’m fortunate enough) people that all focus on uplifting and inspiring me to work through my messes and get better, I can’t help but start to absorb it a little.

If we are products of our environments, why shouldn’t we surround ourselves with the things that will help us grow? (That includes the challenging stuff, the stuff where we are forced to accept Gasp! Maybe I need to take some responsibility for this even though blaming others is so much eeeeeasier.)

 Growing up, for many years of my life, my FAVORITE experience was going to summer camp for one week every July. At the campfire, we’d gather around to listen to the spooky stories of camp history, and participate in sing-along-songs. One of my favorites was “Going on a Bear Hunt”.

In the song, full of hand motions and funny noises made with your mouth, a group of people go on a bear hunt (*Note: by “hunt” I’m sure they mean just observe the bear in it’s natural habitat and then leave it alone peacefully… right?) and come across obstacles on their path. When they come across mud for example, “Can’t go over it… can’t go under it… can’t go around it… GOTTA GO THROUGH IT!”

Thhhfffpt. Thhhfffpt. Thhhfffptt…. Back on the road.

Last night I was working through a book about anxiety and panic. I picked it up at a used book sale for a few dollars. Tucked into the middle of pages 74 and 75, I found this note from the former owner:

Found note.

I felt a bit like I may have violated someone, though with no idea who wrote the note, it’s more like my very own Post Secret discovery. These are someones thoughts, beliefs, “real life” as they see it, and it’s full of pain. It’s a physical manifestation of the perceived truths of a hurt person.

I found myself re-reading it over and over, and feeling compassion and wishing that whoever made the list has found peace in his or her heart. Now I wonder why it is so hard for us to do that for ourselves.

Please remember to extend the kindness and love you have for others to your own self. Challenge negative self-talk with the words of encouragement you give to others. And I will try and do the same.

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NEW VIDEO: Healthy Sweet and Sour Broccoli with Pineapple

I’ve been doing this thing where almost all the groceries I buy lately are fresh produce, usually not knowing what I’ll do with any of it until I get home and start putting things together. It forces me to cook with more veggies since not using them means they go bad (goodbye, money!), and it encourages me to rely on the true flavor of the food and using spices.

I do eat pretty healthy, but have always still indulged in less-healthy options. However, eating a diet that is at least 70% veggies has not only been delicious and fun but helped me lose some weight and helped my occasionally-problematic skin clear up. Win-win-win.

This recipe is incredibly simple and has a really impressive flavor.  It’s also really easy. If you can chop, mix stuff in a bowl, and take something in and out of an oven, you can do this. It also only takes about FIVE MINUTES (not counting cooking time, which you can use to watch cat videos on Youtube).

Here’s the video!

Extra-super-special thank you to Matt and Sarah ofLehigh Valley Mirror for making a beautiful video. I’m excited to say I’m going to work with them at least once a month to make more cooking segments! You absolutely MUST check out their websiteevery week (updated on Wednesdays) for videos of 100% local businesses, artists, musicians, retail shops, and events.

Sweet and Sour Broccoli

  • 3-4 heads of broccoli florets (or estimate equivalent amount of pre-cut florets)
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple cut into chunks (use canned if you must!)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 Tbsp. agave nectar
  • juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, tamari sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 2 teaspoon. chili paste (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil

Add the broccoli and pineapple to a large mixing bowl.

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In a small mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients for the sauce. Add sauce the broccoli and pineapple and mix. Put coated veggies into a baking dish, and put in oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

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Broccoli will start to brown a little on the top, and that’s when it’s done! Dish over your favorite whole grain or rice. Top Enjoy!

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*You can certainly add more veggies to this (red peppers would be great), or a protein like tofu or tempeh. Mmm.

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Did I mention you should check out Lehigh Valley Mirror?

FOR THE LOVE OF ETSY: Pierogi Parade!

From ByBeeps on Etsy!

 Here is a list of random words I often type into Etsy’s search bar, in random order: mermaids, kale, vegetable art, vegan beauty, airstream trailer, wood and metal, midcentury modern chair, and pierogies.

Imagine my hand-to-forehead dramatic excitement when I found this tote bag titled “Pierogi Parade”. I blinked, I tapped the computer screen, I slapped myself in the face a little… could I be dreaming? No. No is the answer.

And if the immediate visual wasn’t enough to increase the beating of my heart, read this description:

What’s better than a pierogi? How about a whole parade of them! Now you can be environmentally friendly and bring a smile to your face and others while grocery shopping. No more boring, bland green or tan bag. Now you can have a colorful, reusable, reversible, roomy bag to hold your edibles or goodies. It also makes a great picnic tote, beach bag, travel bag, and makes a great gift for that hard to buy for friend.”

How about a whole parade of them? Yes, how about that. Until I figure out how to make this happen in real life, I get to enjoy this absolutely wonderful bag.

A parade of pierogies = Dream Come True.

And not only is it adorable and hilarious, but extremely well-constructed. I am truly impressed with the quality of this bag. It’s bigger than I thought, making it great for holding all the millions of things I insist on taking with me everywhere, a reinforced flat bottom, sturdy and comfy straps, and if the pierogies are proving just too cute and people can’t handle it (I hardly can) you can turn it inside-out for some pretty red and white polka-dots.

And BONUS: Becky, the genius behind this bag, is located near my hometown of Wilkes-Barre, PA, where pretty much everyone is Polish. She is sweet as a pea and if you’d like your very own Pierogi Parade bag or to see the other goodies she has available, go to her online shop!

Go HERE to shop ByBeeps on Etsy

Thank you Becky for your celebration of pierogies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cookbook Author is a Tough Job, But Someone’s Got to Do It

In the past month or two, I’ve had the pleasure to meet many published cookbook authors, and I always look at them with a sort of wide-eyed amazement because you can buy their books, like, in a real bookstore. 

 Though this enlightening and sincere post today from Happy Herbivore sheds some light on who gets to be a star of the culinary world... and perhaps not surprisingly, it’s people with a lot of money to put into advertising.

Next time you envy someone for being featured on a nationally broadcast Morning Show, or an afternoon talk show, just remind yourself “I could do this too, for several thousand dollars!”

Read more of Lindsay’s story here: When Opportunity Knocks via the Happy Herbivore

 

 

 

But WHAT Do You EAT?: Vegetarian Summerfest FOOD 2011!

Summerfest was wonderful (which is an understatement) for many reasons, but one of the cherry-on-top bonuses of the week had to be that the college cafeteria was turned into a 100% vegan buffet for every meal. 

Every meal had a featured hot dish line, soup, fully stocked salad bar with homemade dressings (and extras like nutritional yeast and three kinds of lettuce!), a raw foods station, a gluten-free station, and several kinds of pizzas covered in Teese or Daiya. WOW.

(*Note: They do not offer coffee. Herbal green teas and juice like crazy, but for coffee you have to sneak off campus and drive a half mile up the road to stupid Starbucks. Which for some folks -ahem- needed to happen because the 4-5 hours of sleep every night made waking up difficult. Next year, BYO coffee pot.)

I took photos of almost every meal I had, and wanted to share them with you in case you are in a bit of a cooking/lunch idea/dinner menu slump. I may not remember everything exactly as it was, but I can tell you it was delicious and there is such a fun novelty of eating and not having to ask about ingredients, etc..

And now the real reason you’re here, the food!

Bean chili over quinoa with gluten free cornbread and sauteed greens. Mushroom pizza. Salad with the BEST RAW DRESSING OH MY GOSH.

A lunch.

 

Breakfast potatoes, mixed veggie millet, and fruit. Salad with lemon tahini dressing. Carrot muffin.

A breakfast.

This was my lunch after breakfast, a cooking demo with food samples, and hanging out at the vita-mix table… I opted for a mostly-raw lunch. The wrap is a savory tofu salad, and the raw foods plate is explained below.

A lunch.

They served raw food meals every day!

Sign explaining the above photo.

 

Salad, sauteed kale, pizza, veggie fritter, spicy cashew curry, raw peach soup, butterscotch cake.

A dinner.

Vegetable and tofu casserole, rice with a red pepper sauce, stromboli, salad with vegan thousand island dressing.

A lunch.

 

Baked BBQ tofu, collard greens, fresh herb and soup, pizza, salad, whipped berry dessert.

A dinner.

Potato bar! Sweet potato with tofu sour scream and PEANUT SAUCE THAT WAS INCREDIBLE, salad, bean and grains bake, garlic pizza, olive and tomato soup, cocoa cupcake.

A lunch.

 

FRENCH ONION SOUP!!!!!, unlimited Gardein baked chicken (*note: this was hilarious and weird because they are so much like chicken a lot of people were freaking out and thinking someone played a cruel joke), pasta and salad.

A dinner.

Pancakes with plums and cherries, grits, brown rice (got carried away with the sauce, woopsies), fruit and Field Roast sausage!  Plus the aforementioned coffee. 

A breakfast.

 

You’ll find this interesting: despite eating very well at every meal, noshing on cooking demo samples and lingering around the Vita-Mix guys several times a day… I lost weight. 

I thought it was just in my head, but my clothes were looser and upon returning home, one of the first things Ryan said to me mid-spooning was, “Where did your belly go?”     AH, THE POWER OF A PLANT-BASED DIET.

 

APPLIANCE ADOPTION: Welcome Home Vita-Mix!

I arrived home from Vegetarian Summerfest 2011 a changed woman. A better one.

Welcome to the family, we already love you as if we had you forever.

I am still processing and reflecting on everything that happened in the week, so until I can give you a proper update, let me share some good news: After watching several vita-mix demos per day at Summerfest, I decided to finally purchase one. These bad boys have a seven year warranty, and will make cooking for commercial occasions so much simpler. Plus, you know, I want smoothies.

So far today I’ve been eating all my food in liquid form. It’s too hot to chew things.

Breakfast

 BREAKFAST was shared with Ryan. This smoothie included apple, pineapple, grapes, orange, cucumber and carrot. Tasty and filling. It also gave me a ton of energy – I’ve been cooking and cleaning like a domestic goddess and not until 2:15pm did I start to feel hungry!

Lunch on a hot day

So for LUNCH I made a green smoothie, heavier on the veggies. This included celery, cucumber, orange, romaine lettuce, spinach, avocado, cilantro and lemon. The color is so gorgeous I can’t stop staring at it, and being able to drink all these goodies in liquid form means it’s like giving yourself a shot of vitamins.

Last night I made an excellent dinner with the help of the vita-mix, and I am so excited about the nachos I think I’ll sell them at an event at the end of the month! (See: “Decade of Dumb Decisions” on July 31st! Square of Opposition Records has been around for as long as I’ve lived in the Lehigh Valley!)

Dinner last night was: Vegan nachos with jalepeno salsa and smoked cheddar “cheese” sauce, and Black Bean Tortilla soup! Everything homemade except the tortilla chips!

Vegan Nachos and Tortilla Soup

Homemade salsa and smoked cheddar "cheese". HEAVEN.

Black Bean Tortilla soup with avocado and cilantro garnish!

I know, I know, the Vita-mix isn’t cheap, but this is truly an example of “you get what you pay for”. I have also made Coconut Lemon ice cream and another green drink that Ryan said tasted like pickles… Woopsies.

I promise those of you in my area will get to reap the benefits of this machine when it helps to make your future Save the Kales! food orders!

And go HERE to see the facebook page of one of the awesome guys who kept me vita-mix nourished last week! He is awesome, knowledgeable, and can give you some recipe ideas.