Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Favorites 11/28/14

Wake up from your turkey coma! It's time for another Friday Favorites :) I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with love, laughter and lots of delicious food! Our family just left our house, where we hosted a total of twelve - my mom, my uncle, Scott's mom and her boyfriend, Scott's dad and his wife and her two young kids, my three sisters-in-law and one of their boyfriends. Other than some, well, turkey issues, and a very ugly, yet very tasty cheesecake, everything went off without a hitch.

I planned to share a Thanksgiving wrap up, but in all the commotion I completely forgot to take pictures. My mom roasted a turkey and Scott fried one to appease our South Carolina sister living in California. Unfortunately poor Scott hadn't deep fried anything since college so it took about an hour longer than expected! I prepared a dish of roasted cauliflower, pearl onions and chestnuts with a blue cheese bechamel and a kale salad with pomegranate and pears. We also had mac and cheese, brussels sprouts, sweet potato pecan casserole, potato casserole, lebanese egg rolls, raw cranberry sauce and plenty of Sonoma County wine. For dessert, I created a cheesecake version of a cateja (goat cheese caramel) filled goat cheese we tasted out in Sonoma at Bohemian Creamery. I used the amazing cateja from Fat Toad Farm that we received in our swag bag from Blog Brulee, a pecan crust and local goat cheese instead of cream cheese. Although it definitely left much to be desired appearance-wise, it was a huge hit!

I have to say, this was a pretty difficult roundup to put together, because everything that's come through my in-box this week has been Thanksgiving oriented. And seriously, no one needs another pie, even if it's raw and vegan. So, this week's Friday Favorites features a couple of my favorite recipes from this month's Recipe Redux, a preview for the next documentary I can't wait to see and what kinds of food to donate to the food bank. For more, follow me on pinterest, twitter and facebook.

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna (The Foodie Physician) --> After all that heavy holiday food, a lighter seasonal vegetable like spagehetti squash sounds perfect. I adore this gluten free take on lasagna. Make it vegan with my potato ricotta.

Flourless Chocolate Cranberry Chia Cookies (The Hummusapien) --> Let's be honest, after Thanksgiving there's probably nothing more tempting than a flourless, vegan, paleo cookie with no added sugar.

Dill Pickle Soup (Teaspoon of Spice) --> This is so weird...yet I can't get it out of my mind.

Italian Spaghetti Squash Fritters (Oh My Veggies) --> Spaghetti squash can do it all.

Cauliflower, Fig and Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing (A Thought For Food) --> This salad is all I want right now.

How to Eat Well During The Holidays Without Stressing Yourself Out (fANNEtastic Food) --> Thanksgiving may be over, but there's always another holiday/birthday/party right around the bend. This is basically the same advice I give my clients.

How Diet Pill Ads Fuel Obesity (The Atlantic) --> This is fascinating. Simply giving someone the idea there there's a quick fix solution can fuel them to eat more. That would be one thing if there actually was a quick fix solution, but unfortunately, most FDA approved weight loss meds are minimally effective and supposed to be taken along with a "generally healthy diet."

See How Sick Sugar Can Make You When It's Hidden In So-Called Healthy Foods (Take Part) -->  Can't wait to see this full documentary. If you enjoyed Supersize Me, this is one you won't want to miss.
For the Next Food Drive, Go For The Canned Tuna, Not The Saltines (NPR) --> When donating to a holiday food drive, think about nourishment, not calories.

6 Easy Tips For Pairing Wine and Food (Teaspoon of Spice) --> I am so intimidated about pairing wine and food. I know the basics of white and red and what they go with, but other than that, I'm at a lost. These rules are simple and easy to remember.

The Simplest Secret To Being Present (The Foodie Dietitian) --> Being present is a present to yourself and those that you love. If you struggle with anxiety, that may be easier said than done. Luckily, The Foodie Dietitian has a quick trick to snap you back into the moment.

This Week On Avocado: 

Potato, Spinach and Feta Skillet Pizza --> You'll love this whole grain crust that takes less time than it would to order pizza.

Low Sugar Dark Chocolate and Pecan Pie --> I actually created a delicious pie sweetened with less than half a cup pure maple syrup. I think I deserve a slice of pie for that.

The Secret To Feeling True Gratitude --> A simple, science-backed strategy to enhance your gratitude practice

85 Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes (Oh My Veggies) --> Lots of vegetarian goodness here, including four of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes.

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup (Monica Lebra) --> Pinning for next year!

Bean Bytes (The Lean Green Bean) --> Lindsay always finds the greatest links from around the web!

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup (Bite of Health) --> More inspiration for next Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Secret to Feeling True Gratitude

Secret to feeling true gratitude

Today I'm taking a break from stuffing and turkey to talk about the most important part of Thanksgiving. Not mac and cheese you silly goose (although that's up there). We're talking gratitude today and I'll be sharing my simple trick for nurturing a sense of gratitude you feel deep in your core.

Last month, when I decided to start a habit of taking daily steps towards nourishing my soul, I started keeping a daily gratitude journal. Each day, I would jot down 3-5 things I felt grateful for.

One day when we were in France, we visited the ruins of an ancient castle right before the sun was about to set. The setting sun set a golden light on the incredible ruins and surrounding valley, making a truly stunning and unforgettable sight.

When I was journaling at night, I jotted down "I am grateful for a beautiful visit to the castle." But as I sat back and looked at those words, I realized it didn't really convey how truly special and blessed I felt for having that experience.

That's when I got an idea. Instead of simply making a list, I wrote a short paragraph about that visit and what specifically I felt grateful for. I wrote about how grateful I felt for being there at exactly the right time. I wrote about how I felt grateful for strong and healthy knees that carried me up the rickety and steep spiral staircase to the top of the turret, where I was blessed with a magnificent view of the surrounding valley. I also wrote about my gratitude for being able to share that experience with my family.

As I wrote this down, my eyes teared. I truly sensed the gratitude that moment deserved. The uniqueness of the experience hit me and I understood how truly blessed I was for being able to live it.

secret strategy to practicing gratitude

So, I made this a habit. Each day, instead of listing what I felt grateful for, I meditated on one thing and wrote a short paragraph. And each day as I wrote this paragraph, I was hit by a profound sense of gratitude, no matter how small a thing it was.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Low Sugar Pecan and Dark Chocolate Pie

Pecan pie gets a healthy redo with a whole grain, coconut oil crust and a low sugar filling with pure maple syrup and dark chocolate chunks.

low sugar pecan and dark chocolate pie

Over the last four years, pecan pie has become a new Thanksgiving tradition in our household. I know, it's really odd to start a new tradition this late in life, especially pecan pie, which most people have been eating for Thanksgiving their entire lives.

It all started in September 2011 to be exact, when the newest issue of Garden and Gun magazine arrived with a beautiful looking pecan pie on the cover.

Scott: Ooooohhhh, can we make this pecan pie tonight???
Me: No, Scott. It's, like, Tuesday. I'm not making a pie on a Tuesday. Do you want me to get a slice of pie when I go to the grocery store tomorrow?
Scott: No, I want the Garden and Gun pie.
Me: Well, then you're not getting pie. 
Scott: Ugh, fine. 

It didn't end there. Two weeks later:
Me: What should I make for the tailgate this weekend?
Scott: What about the pecan pie from Garden and Gun?
Me: No, Scott. It's 85 degrees out and who brings a pie to a tailgate??
Scott: Ugh, fine. 

A few weeks after that:
Scott: You know what I'm craving? That pecan pie - let's make it!
Me: Seriously Scott? It's 10:30 at night. I'm not baking a flipping pie. 
Scott: Ugh, fine. 

A few weeks after that:
Me: What should I make for Thanksgiving? 
Scott: Can you make that pie? If you don't want to, I'll make it. I just really want that pie. 
Me: You want to help me bake a pie?
Scott: Yes.
Me: Well, okay then. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Potato, Spinach and Feta Skillet Pizza

An easy, 100% whole wheat crust comes together in less time than it takes to order in. Really! Top it with spinach, olive tapenade, sun-dried tomatoes and feta for a healthy carb on carb experience!

Potato Spinach and Feta Skillet Pizza

With Recipe Redux falling on a Saturday this month, lucky you gets spoiled with a bonus recipe! This month's theme is recreating a healthier version of a favorite food memory, and I'm put a new spin on one of the, um, more interesting meals I've ever had. But first, let me share why this meal has become one of my favorite food memories.

If there's one question I'm asked more than anything else, it's if my husband eats the same way I do. Usually it's with one raised eyebrow and a suspicious facial expression. I love to answer this question, because it's a great example of how people's tastes can change. Growing up, he was never a healthy eater. When we met, his diet consisted of fast food, turkey sandwiches and cube steak. Even worse - he didn't know what guacamole was. How we ended up together is beyond me.

Whole grain pizza with spinach feta potato