Uplifting topic, right?
I wanted to share three resources that I have found that have helped me a lot in the past year.
So, aging, yuck. There doesn’t seem to be anything good about it, except the wisdom and as my friend Becky told me “the fact that you stop giving a shit too, so that’s good.” I know in reality I’m still young and that ten years from now I might back and wish I was this age again. So I try to be in the moment and embrace each age for its awesomeness. Age is just a number, right?
So, to set the scene, it was the morning after a late, late night out celebrating a great friends 40th birthday. Champagne, cocktails, wine, yummy food, and friends. It was great. The next morning, I was mindlessly scanning my email, while the kids ate breakfast and found a new email from goop. Goop, if you don’t know it, is Gwyneth Paltrow’s weekly lifestyle publication. It’s one of those things I love to hate or hate to love. Sure, Gwyneth Paltrow can rub people the wrong way with her perfect diet, and her conscious uncoupling that wasn’t a divorce. But, she and her team spend a lot of time researching just about every fantastic thing under the sun. It’s then curated into her site and newsletter with stuff to buy, read, cook, do, places to go, etc. Some of it is SO beyond what us mere mortals can do or afford BUT a lot of it is really cool and helpful.
So I was feeling old, tired, and hung over. Naturally, I clicked on the article “The Secret to Staying Young” and you should too. It’s actually super positive and made me feel encouraged. She covers every topic in the aging process and what we can do to make it better. The article covers longevity, genetics, lifestyle, and Alzheimer’s. Check it out! Linked below:
Next up, detoxing. I’ve never really done anything like a detox. I live a pretty clean and healthy lifestyle, most of the time, so I don’t worry too much. But, I have struggled with chronic sinusitis, anxiety, and sleep issues at different times in my life so I decided to give one a try. I found one that included plenty of eating because I just can’t restrict my eating, unless I’m super stressed or upset and then it’s not a good restriction. Anyway. I did the Nikki Sharp 5 Day Detox app and it was amazing! I loved not having to think about my own meals for five days. The app times everything and gives you recipes for each meal/snack. It was a really reflective week and I felt incredibly calm. I loved using foods differently and learned a lot about my own eating habits. For one, I know I don’t need as much meat as I tend to eat and I’ve learned to be more mindful about the whole process. I feel energized and clean. I really don’t want to taint my body with coffee and alcohol again, but I know I will!
I can’t think of anything negative to say about the experience. It was easy to use, the food was delicious and plentiful.I felt hungry a couple of times, but infused water or peppermint tea helped with this. I will say though, that cooking for my kids was kind of annoying but hey, they’re worth it. I felt tempted as I took some muffins out of the oven but I got over it! I did not do this detox for weight loss but I do feel slimmer in the abdomen. This detox would be great as a lifestyle re-set or a kickstart for a healthy weight-loss plan. I see myself doing this after the summer or Christmas just because it feels so good! I feel I must add in here that I am not a paid-spokesperson and my blog has about five followers in addition to my mother so obviously this is not a sponsored post.
Lastly, in September of last year I got lucky and clicked on another amazing goop link and I go back to it often. It’s about stress containers in our bodies and includes quick videos on how to release them and be aware of the emotional patterns that may create them. It’s an incredible resource that you can use in a short amount of time. My jaw is a place I hold tension in (especially at night) and their video has helped me a lot!
To summarize it, your body holds stress in all the major parts of your body. The jaw, neck and face, the shoulders and chest, diaphragm and lungs, gut, your pelvic floor and hips. In the videos they give you easy exercises to release the tension and a mantra/short meditation to go with it. I can’t say enough about how great this link is, whether you are a beginner to the concept of mind-body connections or a seasoned practitioner of yoga and meditation. Link below:
I hope you enjoy reading and clicking. I welcome any and all feedback/advice on these topics!
A year ago, when I was developing recipes for Dinnertime, I had a lot of fun developing paleo modifications for comfort classics. I have a husband that will eat almost anything that I put in front of him, he knows he’s lucky to get meals home cooked with love! He grew up with a mother that is a phenomenal cook and he has good taste. That said, he prefers meat and potato centered dishes. The higher the dairy and fat content, the better, in his eyes. So I really love taking a dish like Swedish Meatballs and making it healthier and free from dairy. I love it even more that he didn’t mind the changes at all. I know I’ve succeeded if he has seconds of a dish I have changed so much it actually deserves a whole new name.
When I first started eating dairy free, I struggled with the idea of everything tasting like coconuts or cashews. I have gotten over that fear and I am a little obsessed with coconuts, but I promise you this dish isn’t too coconutty… Traditionally, Swedish Meatballs are served with a ligonberry jam or sauce. Sure, I could drive to Ikea and get Ligonberries but I love replacing imported ingredients with locally abundant (i.e. cheaper) options. With fresh pomegranate seeds, you don’t need any sugar and they give the dish the perfect tart and sweet crunch it deserves.
Swedish Meatballs over Cauliflower Mash
800g or 1.7 lbs, Ground Beef (Grass Fed, organic if possible)
1 T parsley
1 t salt
1 t pepper
¼ t cinnamon
¼ t nutmeg
pinch of cloves
½ sweet onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ T coconut oil
1/2 sweet onion, minced
1 garlic clove, mined
1 can coconut cream
2 cups beef broth or water
2 T oil or ghee
salt and pepper to taste
2 T arrowroot or tapioca flour
1-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped in florets
1-2 T Coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 pomegranate, seeded
- Mix beef, eggs, and seasoning in a bowl
- Heat ½ T of oil in a pan
- Sauté garlic and onion until soft and add to meatball mixture, combine with your hands
- Form into balls with 2 T of meat mixture and place on a plate
- Heat ½ T of oil at at time to fry meatballs in batches (about 10 at a time for 5-8 minutes)
- Drain meatballs on a strainer or on towels when finished cooking
- Make gravy by cooking onion and garlic in same skillet for one minute
- Add coconut milk, broth, ghee and salt and pepper
- Whisk and cook for 5 minutes
- Remove a ¼ cup of liquid and whisk in arrowroot, return to pan and simmer to thicken
- Add meatballs to pan and simmer gently while you make cauliflower rice
- Heat oil in a pan and add garlic, stir for one minute on medium heat, set aside
- Steam cauliflower until a fork easily pierces the florets (this step can be done ahead of time)
- Blend cauliflower, garlic, oil, salt, and pepper to taste and/or desired consistency
- Top cauliflower mash with meatballs and gravy
- Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds
At the end of January I got lucky and happened to see a text on my daughter’s preschool chat about a wellbeing event at LightHouse Arabia. I usually miss the good stuff so I was excited to see the event had not passed already. The event cost only 75 dhs (20USD) and the fee was actually an optional donation to charity.
I am a mom of three and every day I wish I had done a bunch of things differently. I want to be the calm mom and the strict mom. The mom that has polite well-behaved children, the ones that do chores without being asked. I want kids that are nice to each other and respect adults. I want them to do well in school and sports and to have nice friends. I wish they would eat more vegetables and enjoy my cooking, without complaints, every day. While I am making a wish list, I wish they would go on pinterest for inspiration and make their own goddamn lunches too.
I hope for lots of things for my children but what happens, everyday, is I get so caught up in the immediacy of it all that I end up just being a mediocre version of myself. I yell, I say things I wish I hadn’t and I settle for the minimum. Sometimes I don’t care if anyone brushes their teeth. But because I am me, and because I strive for success, I’ll feel guilty about it all later. And in this cycle I read and I write and I try to learn as much as I can. I try to have fun with them and enjoy the little moments, because they go so fast. I heard an interview with an amazing mother recently and she said everyone should be the mom that comes naturally to them and if you do that, your kids will turn out fine. It’s true though, we spend so much energy trying to be a different, better kind of parent that we can lose our strengths in the struggle.
Anyway…I do not have much wisdom for you, except that I learned a lot from the workshop that I went to and I thought I would share some of it here, on the blog to help others. It was super nice to take a break from my family on a Saturday and listen to well-trained professionals. The event was relaxing, peaceful and so welcoming. My kids did a couple of workshops for kids (technology and baking) and they loved them. I even got a free chair massage and free juice!
The first workshop I attended was Positive Discipline Strategies for Parents. I try to apply positivity to every aspect of my life, but being positive with discipline is super hard for me. Why? Because I get tired and annoyed and it’s so difficult to be constructive in those moments! Almost every friend groaned when I told them I was going to this workshop. They said, “I know how to do this, but I just don’t do it!” Exactly…
I have to say, my discipline strategies have not improved overnight from this workshop but I have been able to apply some of the principles to my everyday. These are the things that stood out to me:
Only pay attention and praise the behavior that you want to see more of instead of focusing on the bad behavior. This makes sense and it does work but it’s still challenging for me! What did help me though, is that the presenter focused on effective praise being much simpler than we think it is. You don’t have to offer rewards or gifts. A simple “thank you”or “you did such a great job with that” is enough.
The workshop included much more but the biggest takeaway I got from it was about how to engage with your kids one on one. This is my struggle with three kids. They all want me and demand things from me and I sometimes end not giving anything to all of them because I am so busy fending them off while I try to help one etc. Studies show that just ten minutes, alone with each child, doing an activity of their choice is the best way to spend quality time with them. This is not driving in the car or even reading to them. This is child directed time. Don’t interfere too much, don’t ask too many questions, only narrate what they are doing. Example, “you put all the blue blocks together and all the red ones over there.”
I started doing this each day and my kids love it. It’s given more structure to our evenings and helped with everyone’s expectations when they know their time is coming. With my youngest she wants to play mommies and daddies or Sylvanian bunnies. My middle one wants to play Go Fish or “Gold Fish” as she calls it. My oldest one usually wants to play a game of cards or a board game. The important thing is that they pick the activity and they lead the way.
Next I went to a workshop about the appropriate use sof technology for kids. I learned a lot here and this topic opens up a huge can of worms. The internet is big, guys, and we can limit their use of screens and devices and the content they access BUT it is so important to be involved with their education in technology. I also learned the hard way this year that I need to teach my children what to do if they come across something inappropriate or unsuitable for children. My instinct was just to shelter them completely and while I will NOT be giving my kids unlimited and uncontrolled access to devices or the internet, it is important to teach them how to use these things. Like everything else in life, it is so important that these lessons come from parents and that we just keep talking and communicating. They need to know they can come to us if they see something that makes them uncomfortable or curious.
Lastly, I want to tell you about the Smart Heart Board Game. My two oldest children came with me to play a life-size version of this at the workshop. They loved the game so much that I bought it from the creators. The game involves just enough competition to keep my oldest engaged and they actually like playing it together. The typical birth order issues do come out and there is some bickering but it all ends well! Even my three-year old can play, if I help her. We’ve only had the game two weeks and everyone has their own special game piece and we play everyday. I love it because it encourages talking, sharing and empathy, all the things I try to teach, but it does it in a way that is not too obvious. I now follow LightHouse Arabia on instagram so I don’t miss anymore amazing community days. For more information see links below!
Recently, I discovered the most amazing recipe for sweet potato noodles: (http://kristineskitchenblog.com/sweet-potato-noodles-with-peanut-sauce/) and I binged on them, big time. I made them for ladies nights, my kids, and for visitors. I ate them hot, cold, for dinner and lunch. Then I did allergy testing and found out I am intolerant to just about everything (whole other blog post) so I decided to work with the recipe to find a way to keep eating them. These noodles are gluten, soy, and peanut free. Thank you to Kristine’s Kitchen Blog for giving me an amazing template to work with! * Note I usually double this sauce so that I can have extra to add to more zoodles or other vegetables. That’s sort of a lie, I just like things really saucey 🙂
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut aminos (or tamari/soy sauce)
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 inch piece of ginger, grated (adjust to your own taste)
2 limes, juiced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper or hot sauce
2-4 T coconut milk if desired to thin sauce and add more Thai flavor
Assorted Zoodles ( I usually use 2-3 Sweet potatoes and 1 zucchini, I have also used butternut zoodles and beetroot zoodles, I play around with what I have on hand) but use about 5-6 cups of veggies
1 T coconut oil
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Toppings: chopped cilantro, green onions, and toasted sliced almonds or toasted sesame seeds
- Mix sauce ingredients together, dilute with coconut milk or water if desired.
- Heat oil in a wok or a large sauté pan.
- Stir fry until soft and water is released from veggies.
- Add the sauce and chickpeas, cook for several minutes to warm everything and blend the flavors.
- Add toppings and eat!
Winter in Dubai…it’s mild, and fleeting but these cloudy and windy days are a great excuse for a warm soup.