Archive for July, 2012

July 30, 2012

Mindfulness Reminder: Be A Dog

Be present in everything you do.


Laugh a little.


Stop to smell the flowers.

July 29, 2012

Wholesome Goodness – Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Over the past few years, as I’ve made my journey with clean eating, we’ve had an interesting relationship.  At times it was strong, the food and recipes were totally inspiring and fulfilling and at other times, not so much.  One of the biggest challenges for me has always been sweets.  I have a ridiculous sweet tooth.  Some of the things I’ve eaten in my lifetime would probably make some people sick just thinking about it.

As a kid I remember climbing onto the counter and getting into the cupboard where my Mom stored the little jars of sprinkles, red hots and other candies for decorating cakes and cookies,  I would analyze the stash, sneak an amount that I thought she wouldn’t notice and pop them in my mouth.  The same went for bags of chocolate chips, marshmallows and canned frosting: chocolate chips by the handful, marshmallows by the mouthful and frosting by the fingerful.  Oh, and marshmallow creme by the spoonful.  And while sweets in pretty much any form were a turn-on, my favorite has always been chocolate chip cookies.  Mmm…hot, gooey, chocolate nearly dripping from a cookie hot out of the oven… Yum!  Unless, of course, my Mom got the bright idea to put nuts in the cookies.  Total buzz-kill.

My Mom was actually pretty good about keeping uncontaminated chocolate chip cookies around and for the most part I wasn’t obsessive about them.  If I wanted one I would ask and that would cover the craving.  On occasion I would ask for a second one (or simply sneak another if I thought my parents would say “no” to the request), but that wasn’t too often.  However, on one occasion, I got up in the middle of the night (sleep walking) and dipped into the cookie jar.  Apparently, I enjoyed a few cookies before my parents found me and put me back to bed.  The next day, when they told me what I had done, I was alarmed.  Not only had I just found out that I’ve been sleepwalking, but I also realized I’d eaten multiple cookies and didn’t even recall enjoying them. What a waste!

And so the journey continued.  When I started clean eating a few years ago, sugar was by far the hardest thing for me to ditch.  Part of the problem is simply my sweet tooth, the other part is that sugar is in nearly everything we eat… even places I didn’t suspect it like pizza sauce, pasta sauce, savory dishes.  When I learned to read labels, I realized why so many people have such a bad relationship with food.  Most of the foods we eat are laced with sugar and other stuff we shouldn’t eat.  That’s also when I realized the only way to control what was going into my body was to make it myself.  The good news is, thanks to the many clean eating gurus, I’ve found replacements to traditional sugar: honey, pure maple syrup, agave nectar, evaporated cane juice (a.k.a. Sucanat), etc. and the best part is that they taste good, fulfill the sweet craving, but I don’t get that addictive need for more like I do with sugar.

And now we come to the subject of this post: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies.  While I’ve found many tasty recipes for breakfasts, lunch, dinner and snacks, most of the desserts were not really doing it for me.  I still had the nostalgic craving for chocolate chip cookies, cakes, frostings, etc.  And while I could live without some of the other things, I still yearned for healthy sweets.  In my mind I thought it was an oxymoron, but at the same time thought someone had to have done it, and if they hadn’t, I was going to start experimenting.  Thankfully, it didn’t come to that.

A few weeks ago, while cruising one of the local Co-ops with a friend of mine, we ran across a sale rack of recipe books.  One in particular caught my eye, The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook by Dr. Laura Trice, M.D.  When I first spotted it, I thought it was too good to be true.  Then I started flipping through the recipes and reading the first chapter.  I couldn’t contain my excitement,  “I have to get this!  This is it! This is what I’ve been looking for!”  There are recipes for ice cream, frosting, cakes, and even chocolate chip cookies!  And the best part?  The recipes actually look good.

The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook

So I bought it.  The first recipe I made was the barbeque sauce… holy yumminess!  And now, a couple of days ago I made the chocolate chip cookies.  Now, I have to be honest, while mixing them up, I had my doubts.  And because I’ve always been pretty finicky about my chocolate chip cookies I was afraid I wouldn’t love them.  But when they were baking up they smelled… like chocolate chip cookies.  And when they came out of the oven, I tried one. Mmm…  They were as she had promised in the book.  Wonderful!

But the true test had not yet taken place.  My son.  While he’s not a picky eater at all, I was still a little worried he’s snub the cookies.  Instead, he loved them!

So if I’ve got you craving cookies, head to The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook website and there you will find some sample recipes, including Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, Chocolate Fudge Sauce and Golden-Pineapple Carrot Muffins.

So there you have it, for those of you who have been with me on the search for healthy junk food, you can now have your cake and ice cream and cookies and eat them too!


July 26, 2012

Mindful Mondays

I don’t know what it is about blogs, but I find them fun to follow.  Some I follow for design ideas, some for recipes, some because friends write them and some simply because I like what they have to say.  Tonight I started to follow another blog because I like what they have to say.

I found this blog, or rather it found me, by way of my own blog.  You see, the other day, after I wrote the post WWGD (What would Grandma do?), I had a new comment from a fellow blogger.  As I sat down tonight to check out her blog, I instantly loved it.  So far I’ve only read a few of her posts, but I’ve enjoyed each of them and found her mindset to be in sync with mine.  She is on a path of simplification, sustainability and mindfulness.  Sound familiar?

Anyway, while poking around on her blog I found one category called Mindful Mondays.  I instantly loved the concept of starting the week with the focus being on mindfulness, but reading her explanation was even better.  So let me stop here and let her speak for herself. If you have a moment, I hope you check out her blog Being Simple, Sustainable & Mindful.  Hopefully you’ll find it as wonderful as I have.


July 22, 2012

WWGD (What would Grandma do?)

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know that I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to simplify things in my life.  I know, the whole “simplify” thing has gotten a little overused, okay, a lot overused, but the more I think about it, I think that is for good reason.  I think it’s needed, simplification that is, because life has gotten so busy.

I remember summers as a kid, I got up, went outside and played with my friends… all day long.  It wasn’t until 4th or 5th grade that I became involved in organized sports and at that, I don’t recall it taking up a lot of time.  I did take dance classes from a young age, but even that was only one day a week if I remember right.  And in my spare time?  I played.  You see there weren’t cell phones or iPads or iPods for that matter.  And games we played were in boxes, cardboard boxes, not Xboxes.  My point is that life wasn’t so scheduled and obviously not filled with technology.  Now things are different. (Man, this makes me sound old, doesn’t it?) My son is an active kid.  He’s involved in a sport nearly every season, because that’s what kids do these days.  And while I’m grateful that he’s active, athletic and enjoys sports, the fact that all sports are organized and that each of them is usually two nights a week is a bit much.  And if they overlap, then you’re looking at three or four days a week.  Add to that swimming lessons or music lessons and there really isn’t time left to just be a kid.

And us? We grownups aren’t much better.  We have our own stuff.  And if we have kids there’s the stuff that supports the kids: PTO meetings, volunteering for school, scouts, sports, you name it.   That leaves little time to just “be”.

Obviously, this has bothered me for a while, but I think it became more evident in the past couple of weeks when my son didn’t have anything scheduled in the evenings.  I realized that I’m far less stressed and far less crabby.  I’m not racing from one thing to another or stressed over making an early dinner, grabbing dinner on the road or a late dinner afterward.  The lack of scheduled activities has opened up the possibility for evening walks or just hanging out together.

Combine this sports break with the farm tour yesterday and it’s got me thinking that simple really might be better.  I visited three farms on the Eat Local Farm Tour yesterday and while each one was different, the resounding similarity is that their life is more simple.  Now by simple I don’t mean easy.  These people work hard, very hard.  But it is also obvious that they love what they do.  Maybe I’m crazy, maybe it was just my perception, but everyone I met also seemed… happy.

At one farm, the owner told us they didn’t grow up farmers.  Didn’t inherit a farm.  She and her husband used to live in the metro area and commuted every day.  Then they had kids and they wanted something different, so they bought the farm.  They knew it wouldn’t be easy, but they also knew they needed a change.  Before, they spent little time together.  Now, they work together and their kids work with them.  They work long hours and take few vacations, but they are happier.

Another farm, a small, sustainable, organic farm had a little bit of everything.  Bees, chickens, crops, sheep, goats, pigs… They try to produce everything on site that they can in order to create a fully sustainable farm.  The fruit and veggie scraps go to the chickens and the pigs, the animal waste gets composted and feeds the gardens, and so on.  They have honey and beeswax candles and soaps and… they do it there.  Small, predominantly self-sustaining and again… happy.

No, I’m not ready to move out to a farm and commit wholeheartedly to that lifestyle, but going to these farms did reinforce the direction I’m heading right now.  Life wasn’t always so busy.  People didn’t have all of the “stuff” we have now and I wonder, was it easier?  Were they happier?  Were relationships closer?  I have to think the answer is yes.

My Mom grew up in a small town in Iowa.  One of six children in the family.  They had a large garden, relatives had chickens and their uncle owned a store.  They did pretty much everything themselves.  Gardened, cooked, canned, cleaned, ironed, baked, mended… and while my Grandma did a lot of it, they all took part in what needed to be done.

When I was growing up my Mom often spoke of their schedule growing up.  Monday was wash day, Tuesday was baking, Wednesday… I know I have the details all wrong, but you get the idea.  They knew what needed to be done and when they were going to do it.  Their meals were the same way.

Lately, as I’ve been thinking about how I can simplify things in my life, I’ve been thinking a lot about my Grandma.  How did she do it?  The gardens, the cooking, the canning, the mending.  She had six kids yet she did it all.  They all lived a more simplified life.  This simplified life some of us are trying to recreate.  It’s not new, its generations old.  We may have a new twist on things, but it’s not new. My Grandma did it.

Thankfully I still have my Mom and Aunts to go to with questions.  And while I’ve asked a few questions in the past, I still have a lot more.  Luckily, I can still learn from them, from what they learned from Grandma.  And as days move forward and I continue to try to figure out how to do things “better” I’ll continue to wonder, “What would Grandma do?”.  And from there, hopefully I will find a more simplified way of life.