Gratitude in 2015 - The #GratitudeChain

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Let's talk about...

2015 is going to be the year of gratitude for me. I'm going to do my best to live life more, get away from behind my computer, and spend quality time with family, friends, and myself. Yep. Myself. 

I have so much to be thankful for in this life. A great job that allows me to work at home and take care of my puppies, a husband who works hard to take care of me, family who supports me and encourages me, friends who help me follow my passions, and hobbies that keep me happy and entertained. I have clean food and water, a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and my health to be grateful for.

With that being said, I also have a lot I can work on, push toward, and make better. In order to help with that, I've become a Beachbody coach! I have high hopes for this new year, my health, and this new business venture. I'll still be working at home, editing, and writing (which is also super exciting this year!), but I'll also spend some time doing that, inspiring others to get healthy and happy. :) 

I'm also going to keep writing, like I mentioned above, and release my debut novel sometime in 2015. I'll have two following that one--hopefully fairly quickly. Then I'll be off writing some other stuff. Whatever tickles my fancy. I want to try my hand at collections of short stories, maybe some poetry. Who knows. Whatever floats my boat. <3

All of that makes me happy. But nothing makes me happier than seeing YOU happy, healthy, and full of life and gratitude. And what better way is there to do that than to express it out loud and shout it from the rooftops? Well, you could make a gratitude chain. :)

Anyone with me? It's pretty basic. Cut some strips of paper so you have it ready. Then, each day, write something (different) you're grateful for, thankful for, happy about, in love with, etc. Something positive should go on each link, and you can make a chain of these as a visual, a tangible list of reasons to be happy on any given day.

If you want to take it another step further, you can post your gratitude on Facebook. I'll be doing that along with a photo of some sort every day to keep the thankfulness and positivity flowing on social media. Feel free to join in with me, comment on my posts, and link me to yours. <3 Take pictures of your own chain and share it with the world. Positivity is contagious, so let's spread it!

Big hugs and all my love,

#MeatlessMonday - Stuffed Peppers

Monday, December 29, 2014

Stuffed Peppers
(recipe from Husband)

  • 4 green bell peppers
  • 2 cups long grain wild rice
  • 2 cans of organic black beans (rinsed)
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 - 4 carrots
  • 1/2 lb chopped button mushrooms
  • Fresh frozen whole kernel corn(about 1/2 lb)
  • 1 bag Daiya cheddar shreds
  • Seasoning:
    • 2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp salt (Himalayan pink)
    • 1-2 tsp dried thyme
    • 1-2 tsp dried cilantro
  1. Get the rice started in the rice maker first. 
  2. Next, cut the tops off of the bell peppers and clean them up to hold the contents. Find a baking dish that will hold all 4 peppers with leftover room for the extra filling. 
  3. Chop up the little bit of pepper from the tops that you cut off. Chop up the onion, mushroom, and carrots. Add all four ingredients to a pot and start simmering. 
  4. While this is simmering, preheat the oven to 400F and then place the peppers in the baking dish in the oven to pre-cook slightly - 10-15 mins. Remove from oven when done and lower temp to 375F.
  5. Once the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and pepper bits are getting soft, add the corn, stir it in, and remove from heat. 
  6. Season the mix here with thyme, dried cilantro leaves, black pepper, salt, and garlic powder. 
  7. Mix everything together and set to the side. 
  8. Once the rice is finished, dump it into the pot and mix it all up. 
  9. Add the black beans and mix. 
  10. Finally, dump in the bag of Daiya cheddar shreds and thoroughly mix everything up. 
  11. Pack the mixture into the 4 peppers and set them to the side. Dump the remaining filling into the baking dish and spread evenly, making 4 divots for your peppers to sit in. 
  12. Place the peppers in the divots and stick the whole thing in the oven to bake for 45 mins. 
  13. Once it's ready, remove from oven and let it cool for 10 mins or so. Serve as a whole pepper or serve a half pepper with extra filling from the pan.

Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

#MeatlessMonday - Pumpkin Pie Almond Butter Cookies

Saturday, December 27, 2014

I know it's not Monday, but I baked these up yesterday and really enjoyed them. So I had to share as soon as possible. :) If you try them, let me know! And go tell Tiffany at The Gracious Pantry THANKS for this amazing recipe!

Pumpkin Pie Almond Butter Cookies
(adapted from The Gracious Pantry)

  • 1 cup oat flour (If you don't have oat flour, you can grind rolled oats.)
  • 1/3 cup Bee Free Honee (You can use honey, but we're vegan, so we use this yummy stuff.)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup almond butter 
  • 4 medjool dates (if almond butter is unsweetened)
  • Nonstick spray (We use grapeseed oil spray.)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. Place 1-2 tbsp drops onto a cookie sheet coated with nonstick spray.
  4. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
  5. Cool before eating.
Feel free to add mix-ins such as chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries, chopped nuts, etc. If you have an aversion or allergy to almonds, try a different nut butter or a seed butter such as sunflower. These bake up nicely, and they stay soft. :) Enjoy!

Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

Vegan Christmas

Friday, December 26, 2014

Ever wonder what a vegan holiday meal looks like? At this point, I'm wishing I would have taken more photos, but I didn't plan on writing this post. Whoops! :) In any case, I need to get better at this food blog thing because I've signed up to be a Beachbody coach, so nutrition and exercise are back in full swing. It's just the thing I need to stay accountable, supplement my income, inspire others, and have fun! <3 

When you're health conscious like I am, nutrition is always in mind when you eat. So our holiday meals actually consist of food we make any time of year--which we often do. Especially since they're the only meals I seem to be able to cook successfully. :) 

And what do you know? The non-vegans at the holiday table loved all of it. :) YAY!

Each of the following recipes comes from / I've made some modifications for my taste/gluten-free eating, but you can click the link for the original recipes.

Total Time: 1 hr. 10 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 60 min.
Yield: 12 servings, 2/3 cup each
2½ lbs. medium yams, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
1 tsp. sea salt
3 Tbsp. 100% orange juice
3 Tbsp. vegan butter, melted
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Arrange yams in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Season evenly with salt. Set aside.
3. Combine orange juice, butter, and maple syrup in a small bowl; whisk to blend.
4. Pour orange juice mixture over yams; toss to coat.
5. Sprinkle evenly with remaining cinnamon, and nutmeg.
6. Bake yams, stirring occasionally, for 50 to 60 minutes, or until fork tender.

Total Time: 14 min.
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cooking Time: 9 min.
Yield: 5 servings, ¾ cup each
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. green beans, trimmed (about 4 cups)
1 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ cup water
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add green beans and garlic. Season with salt; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 6 minutes.
3. Add water; cook, covered, for 2 minutes.
4. Remove lid; cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until water evaporates.
5. Add lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Total Time: 58 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 48 min.
Yield: 10 servings, about ¾ cup each
1-2 cauliflower heads, cut into florets
Nonstick cooking spray
Himalayan salt (to taste; optional)
½ cup unsweetened almond milk½ cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese1 cup pure pumpkin puree2 tsp. Dijon mustard¼ cup gluten-free panko bread crumbs
1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
2. Place cauliflower on baking sheet that has been lightly coated with spray.
3. Season with salt if desired.
4. Bake for 24 to 28 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside.
5. While cauliflower is cooking, bring almond milk to a boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low.
6. Add cheese, pumpkin, and mustard; cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes or until well blended.
7. Add cauliflower; mix well.
8. Pour cauliflower mixture into 13x9x2-inch casserole dish that has been lightly coated with spray.
9. Top with bread crumbs.
10. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
Total Time: 95 min.
Prep Time: 25 min.
Cooking Time: 70 min.
Yield: 8 servings
9" pie crust 
1 can pumpkin puree
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp ground flax seed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
2. Combine soymilk, vanilla extract and ground flax seed in blender, mix and let stand for 15 minutes.
3. Add remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth. Pour into crust.
4. Bake 10 minutes at 425°, then reduce oven to 325° for about 60 minutes or until filling is set.
5. Set on wire rack to cool, then refrigerate overnight.
6. Smile

Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

I Don't Understand...

Friday, December 12, 2014

I could go lots of places with that title, but for right now, I'll finish it with one word: anything.

Yep. You read that right. I don't understand a single thing about this world. About this life. Not one.

Well, maybe one. I understand love and things that fall under its umbrella. I understand being kindhearted, generous, compassionate, helpful, and giving. All of that makes sense to me. They're easy for me to grasp, work with, and just be. It's everything else that confuses the crap out of me.

I think I've always felt this way without realizing it. I haven't always worked the same way as I do now, but part of me recognizes that I've never known much about life, living, or the world. We think we do, especially as teenagers who freak out over the smallest, dumbest things that seem like our entire universe at the time and as young adults who feel invincible, assuming we have the whole game figured out. But when I look back, I realize that I was a product of my environment.

Reaction isn't directly correlated with understanding. We learn through observation and experience, and lately, I've learned a lot through observation and experience. Unfortunately, I haven't really liked what I've learned. And a lot of it hurts my heart.

A lot.

So much that I break down in tears about it over dinner with my husband.

You guys, I cannot spend another minute thinking about all the suffering (a majority of it unnecessary) in this world. It makes me cry every time I do. The injustice, the hypocrisy, the hate and violence--it's all unnecessary. It's awful and horrifying, and it could be avoided and abolished altogether, but it's not. And that weighs heavily on my heart. Constantly.

My husband tries to tell me that, without bad, we wouldn't appreciate the good. We need duality in this world. But in my eyes, the duality is so slanted and unbalanced that it's not right, not fair, not worth its opposite right now. Yes, there is a lot of good, but to me, the bad is SO bad that it's not proportionate. The good doesn't justify the bad I see happening.

So what do we do to fix it?

Sometimes, it feels so far outside my grasp that it seems like a lost cause. But then I have to take a step back and remember that I cannot change the world by myself. In fact, there isn't much I actually can do to change anything. But I can be the change I wish to see, right? We've all seen that quote floating around. And it makes sense. You influence your world by being what you want to see in it. Demanding change gets you nowhere, so you have to shine the right light in order to make a difference.

I'd love to say that I learned this the easy way. And I'd love to say that it works efficiently and quickly. But those are both untrue. I've had many passionate debates (or emotional arguments--whatever) about things like eating animal products, positivity, and just being a "good" person. But people don't seem to listen. Many come back with arguments for the opposite of what you're trying to "sell," even if they don't find themselves on the opposite side. So how do you argue with that?

Basically, you don't. You fight the good fight--a silent and kind one--and continue to be the change. But when your results aren't what you desire, what you know the world needs, what do you do? Do you get a little louder in your fight for the rights of life on this planet? Do you shut out the world so you don't have to hear about tragedy after tragedy because it's more than your sensitive, loving, caring heart can handle? Or do you sit back and watch it all unfold, let people do whatever they want to do while they're destroying your home, your planet, the only place you can live--and each other in the process?

Even I think I'm starting to sound a little over the top here. What the world needs. I mean, come on. Who do I think I am?

Well, I think I'm a woman who sees what others don't. I'm a person on this planet who wishes to live a good life. A long and healthy one. And I want that for every single life on this planet too. Mmhmm. EVERY one of them.

It's why I'm so positive. It's why I'm vegan. It's why I care so much--and how. Sure, I still have a lot of work to do to further myself in this goal, on this path, but I'm in a good place to keep going with it. And I want to take you with me.

I want you to understand how unfair it is to take a life in order to save your own. I want you to realize that we're destroying our environment, the air we breathe, and the "food "we eat in order to make money--which won't do us any good at all if none of us are alive and well to spend it, will it? I want you to see how awful it is that we kill BILLIONS of animals--living, breathing, beautiful life--every YEAR for "food" we don't need and shouldn't even be eating. I want you to recognize how twisted and wrong it is that we put the lives of some animals (think about your pets here) above others (think about the animals you eat here).

*deep breath*

My life in the last few years has done a complete turnaround. Anxiety and depression have taught me how precious life is--and that means for EVERYONE. And it's hard for me to watch the injustice continue now. I see things through totally different eyes. They're different from the ones I used to have, from yours, and from everyone else's. But there are a whole lot of people out there who see things the way I do. And that?

That gives me hope.

Eat your fruits and veggies, kids.

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