The space between the refrigerator and the stove

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“Outside The Box” Shepherd’s Pie

It has been some time since I’ve stopped by here.  I have quickly perused through others’ blogs for recipe inspiration, but I haven’t spent the kind of time I would like to in this forum. I love the feeling of support, encouragement and connection I get from my blogging buddies.  I have certainly missed the outlet.  Right now, I could really use some support and connection.

There has been a lot going on in my world and I have not had the time or energy (or internet connection!) to do much more than what is necessary to get through each day.  As well, I haven’t had much time or energy (or space!) to cook food in the way I want either, and that has really affected my health.  I am definitely not feeling my healthiest physical self these days.

Things have settled just enough for me recently and new routine is being created.  One of those routines is that I am getting back to daily walking.  With that in place, it is imperative I get healthful meals back on my menu so I can get to feeling great again, physically and mentally.  I decided with good planning and preparation, I could pull off making some shepherd’s pie in two new cassoulet dishes I got a deal on at the local kitchen store where I work.  I have been excited to use these and they come with nifty lids for storing.  These will make two hearty main dishes.  How can I not get excited about make ahead meals?!

Shepherd’s pie is so comforting and I really need some comfort!  Life has thrown me one hard curve ball.  Some days the magnitude of it all is too heavy for me and I break.  On those days I reach out for friends and feel good books from people I consider of great wisdom.  I have attached myself to two particularly wonderful authors whose words reverberate through me and bring me strength and calm as well as validation that I am on my right path.  As is often the case, there is no limit to what gets processed in my mind as I’m chopping, mixing or stirring up something good.  Playing with food is a cathartic exercise that I find deeply satisfying on many levels.  After reading through a few chapters in one of these great books, I felt like I wanted to give deeper thought to the message I was reading.  While I chopped and stirred to prepare my shepherd’s pie, I also contemplated and reflected on what has happened with me recently, realizing it has already been nearly two months since I got the rug pulled out from under my comfortable life.  It still seems like last week to me.  My struggles have been ongoing and I imagine they will continue for some time to come.

What I am recognizing in this new journey is I would much rather be right here in this struggle, than to continue in that life I thought was so comfortable.  Because as the layers unravel, things become more transparent and the light shines a little differently.  I am right where I need to be.  I may never know why things happened like they did and I know there will likely never be any accountability for actions taken that forced me to here.  Yet, here I am suddenly left to pick up the pieces of my life because of someone else’s fears and vulnerabilities.  Life has no shortage of “wake up calls”.

I am teetering on the edge of acceptance and resistance.  Most days I am grateful for a deeper understanding of myself.  Other days I just want to eat comfort food.  By the last bite of my delicious good for me comfort food, I usually rest back on the side of acceptance.  I accept that I cannot change the behavior of others.  I can have compassion for their pain, I can set boundaries and say no, this is not okay.  I am learning that being a wholehearted and authentic person is the only way I want to live.  To be authentic can be deep and messy work.  But, when I woke up the other morning with a feeling of lightness that I have not felt in such a long time, I realized that it is worth every bit of work to participate in this life for a lot of reasons, but simply because it feels joyful to be completely and fully in life. That means being willing to show my truest self, to be communicative and to be connected.  It means being comfortable with who I am at my deepest level.

What brings me to my deepest, most comfortable sense of “self” is making the kind of food my body responds to best. I am also discovering that writing and sharing my story is a process that is both healing and humbling.  It makes me vulnerable and it makes me real.  I share not only recipes for healthful foods, I am sharing a piece of who I am.  In return I have received some of the most amazing and heart felt support for what I share and how I choose to share.  The feeling of connection is profound.

I am proud to share my kind of shepherd’s pie.  The ingredients go a little “outside the box”, making it not so much like the “classic” recipe.  Then again, I am an “outside the box” kind of person.  I will own every bit of that because I think it is the best way to be.  Just like this recipe! Go ahead and mix it up if the recipe doesn’t quite fit your dietary/taste preference.  Let go of how you think it is “supposed to be” and do what works for you! Much like life…  You know; even with my feathers a little ruffled, I can feel that life will work much better for me.  Things are changing.  Like, how I managed to pull off this fabulous recipe in my new and very tiny kitchen! Enjoy and know that when one is flexible in life, things seem to work themselves out.

Outside the Box Shepherd’s Pie

In a frying pan, stir up:

1/2 large yellow onion, diced

2 stalks celery, sliced

(preferably) 1 # grass fed, organic ground beef

1/2 Tblsp olive oil

Begin by sauteing the onions until translucent then add the celery and do the same.  Add in the ground beef and cook until no longer pink.  Add that mixture to casserole dishes then saute':

4 medium carrots, sliced

2 cups broccoli florets

1 cup green beans

Saute’ until cooked with a slight crispness to them.  Top the meat mixture with the veggie mixture.  Cover the veggies with mashed yams. (1 large yam, peeled, boiled until soft, and mashed with some earth balance (or butter)  Pop into a 250 degree oven for about 30 mins or until completely warmed through.






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A Crock Of Comfort

Some days simply require a little extra comfort.  I have had many of those days recently where I have been seeking comfort in whatever ways I can.  I was fortunate enough to find some time even in the midst of my current life chaos to get in the kitchen and make a crock of chicken and veggies.  Of course, it doesn’t take long to drop all the ingredients right into the crock, turn the knob and get some comfort food going.

When my life gets this crazy stressful I often forget to eat so having something pre-made that I know is nutritious and sustains me is essential.  I make up container meals with my crock of food so all I need to do is pop it in the microwave for a quick warm up.  Because my world got all shook up and my daily food preparation habits have had to change, this also helps me to not feel so “deprived” of my routine style of eating because when “sh*t gets real”, like my current day crisis, it is imperative I maintain my usual healthful eating. My body demands it and I need my body to be at its best right now.

I made up the spice combination and ingredients in this recipe, loosely going on a recipe I remember from the past.  I put one pound of organic, all happy, boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the bottom of my crock, rubbed the thigh pieces with a spice combination of garlic, paprika, turmeric, cumin, parsley and black pepper, tossed in some yellow onion slices (about 1/2 a medium sized onion) and carrot coins (4 carrots).  Then I added about one cup of vegetable broth, one can of light coconut milk and put on the lid.  I set it for four hours.  About 15 minutes before I was ready to dig in I added 3 cups of baby spinach to the top of the food in the crock, put the lid back on and let it steam until wilted.  I ladled it over some multi-colored quinoa and had myself one delicious comfort food meal!  I now have quick “go to” meals for days.  A crock full of comfort.  It’s what I like. IMG_3083

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Life is like Cookies and Tea

My last couple of days have been filled with some rough stuff.  I am doing really hard work not just physically, but emotionally.  I have faced this new life challenge head on and I am leaning right into what is now in front of me.  It is uncomfortable and I am doing it.  I am both grateful for and disgusted by the many new lessons I am learning and will continue to learn.  Life.  It can get messy sometimes.  At the end of my day, when I know I have conquered what is needed to get through it and do so with strength in my spirit and truth in heart; when I lay my head down in the quiet of night knowing I lived this day fully in all it’s messy glory, I can hear one screaming loud message running through my mind.


I have tangled with the emotions of acceptance, attachment, vulnerability and loss.  I have ridden a roller coaster of emotions that sometimes scares the hell out of me.  I’m pretty sure I have a discount bracelet for that ride over the next few months.  Strangely, I am ready.  I am always ready for life.  All of it.  Ugly.  Beautiful.  Fun.  Scary.  I am ready because life is worth it.  Love is worth it.

 I am worth it.

When the days get extra tough and I want to comfort the inner child in me, I make cookies. In all of this craziness, I definitely need some nurturing.  So, a job well done deserves cookies and tea.

I found this recipe in my folder of print out recipes and sadly it does not have the original author’s information.  I did some research on my usual favorite websites thinking I may find it, but didn’t so know that this is not my original recipe, however it is a great one and I will update my readers when I discover its author so I can acknowledge their lovely creation!

I adapted these cookies for me so they are grain free, gluten free, dairy free and delicious for an evening treat!  Breath.  Eat.  Relax.  Push replay.  This is what life looks like.

Chocolate chunk cookies

1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt (I used 1/4 tsp)

1/4 Honey (I used Agave Syrup)

1 egg (I used 1/4 cup applesauce)

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup coconut oil

1 dark chocolate bar, roughly cut to equal 3/4 cup (I used dark chocolate chips and only 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Break up chocolate ball or cut with sharp knife.  Put pieces into bowl and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, baking soda and salt.

In a separate small bowl, use an electric handheld mixer to beat honey, egg and vanilla (or do as I did and use a whisk on the ingredients substituted!)

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well.

Melt coconut oil and pour into batter.  Mix well.

Stir in dark chocolate chunks.

Drop balls of cookie dough onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake 12 minutes.  Let cool 6 minutes to avoid crumbling.  Eat and be happy.


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Fill me up with 2015–Anniversary Post

I wanted to acknowledge the one year anniversary of my blog on the actual day which was December 30th, and thought of sitting down to write a few times that day.  Unfortunately, more of my thoughts were consumed with a sudden life crisis.  I know, like I need another one, right?   However, this crisis was absolutely unexpected.  This one came way out of left field and smacked me head on, leaving me completely dazed and confused.  It sent my survival instinct into overdrive and bubbled up an anger in me that rarely rears its ugly head.  I am physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.

I’m not prepared to go in to much detail at this moment, but I know eventually I will share what is happening because this crisis will have a profound affect on my dietary lifestyle and eating preferences.  Since this blog has become about my way of eating, cooking and living I don’t see how this could not spill over into words right here.

Today, this first day of the new year, I am relaxing.  I am empty.  Absurdly coincidental, I think.  I will fill myself with love in the company of good people.  I will fill myself with the knowledge that once again I am being reminded that I am an incredibly strong woman.  I am proud of my ability to persevere.  I will fill myself with the reverence of life and with deep gratitude for all the lessons it presents me.   I cannot think of a better day to do this than today.

Happy New Year, my blogging friends.  This writing journey has filled my soul in a way I never expected.  I have come to love this community of people and the support I have received from each one of you.  Thank you for being a part of my world in 2014.

Cheers to 2015.  I look forward to its many blessings and opportunities.  I will leave you with some of my favorite food pictures of this past year.  Peace and love to you all.
















































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Eliminating Anger Over Daily Frustrations


I am Reblogging this even though it has nothing to do with food, other than “food for thought”. I have a funny story to tell that is quite a fitting introduction to this special post. This is my third attempt at reblogging this post and just before typing these words I had a “temper tantrum” because I lost what I was typing–TWICE! as I was attempting to reblog. I don’t know how I lost it, where it went, or exactly what happened. Then immediately laughed as I recognized my own “irrational anger”. So, “third time is a charm”! I want to share this with my readers because this author’s words could easily be my own. I hold the same personal beliefs about anger and I love her definition of “irrationally angry”. I feel this is important to share because I just think there is too much anger in the world right now and wouldn’t it be nice if these words touched someone so profoundly that they reflect upon and change their views on what causes them to be angry. My previous two attempts had more thoughts, but I’ve exhausted my brain at this point and cannot find the appropriate words to re-create so I’ll just let this post speak for itself because really, no other words are needed. Enjoy.

Originally posted on Small Things Good:

In the course of a day I see a lot of angry people, and I don’t even work in an office anymore! But, when I did, wow- it was like getting irrationally angry had become an olympic event and no one told me (if it has, I have some fantastic nominations for team USA).

Let me define what I mean by “irrationally angry” in this case. My personal belief is that all anger is irrational and unwarranted, and that it stems from a place of fear within the person exhibiting it. I understand that many people disagree with this. Many people believe that anger is a natural reaction that happens to you when something bad/negative/not what you wanted occurs. I have even heard people say that anger is healthy.

I believe everyone is responsible for their own emotions and reactions, and that with enough work it is possible for a…

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Simple In A Box

Every now and then I feel like keeping it simple and having boxed cereal for breakfast. Personally, a cold cereal breakfast generally doesn’t cut it for me.  I’m just hungry in an hour.  My body needs a good hearty nutrient filled meal to get moving so I often take time to make a hot breakfast.  However, I have found a new brand of cereal popping up on my local grocer’s shelves called Freedom Foods.  I thought I would give it a try.  Honestly, it was the sale price that lured me to purchase it.  Now, I have to say that no one is paying me to say this or give a review.  Really, I have found this fantastic cereal that is simple, healthful and hearty.  First off, it has only 9 ingredients.  That includes the less than 2% of salt and sunflower oil.  It has 5 grams of fiber per serving and it’s free from all the highest allergens.  It is low in sugar and sodium.  There are no GMO’s.  This cereal is wholesome.  I love the serious crunch factor.  The flakes are thick and requires some serious chewing. It’s got a great flavor and overall this cereal is the good stuff.  I feel like I am getting a nutritious meal, not just a bowl of cereal.  My only “complaint” is that it is made in Australia so the environmental footprint to get it here to the states is less than desirable.

It’s a dreary, rainy morning and I didn’t get the best night of sleep.  I am feeling slow and sluggish.  An unopened box of cereal and a ripe banana seemed like a perfect quick fix for my hunger.  Easy.  Simple.  Good.  Here’s how I “made” my breakfast:

Freedom Foods Ancient Grain Flakes, topped with sliced bananas & a light drizzle of raw agave syrup.  Pour over unsweetened almond milk.  See, simple!  Ok, I know that’s not really a recipe.  Honestly, I am mostly writing this post to keep myself structured and set the pace for the rest of my day.  Lack of sleep and dreary weather, coupled with this emotional time of year for me can be a toxic combination.  I just don’t want to go down that road today.  I want to feel good, so I am starting the day with this post.  Oh, and the cereal.

Take a moment to peruse the cereal isle next time you are grocery shopping.  I highly recommend giving this brand a try. There are several variations to choose from.

A glass of lemon coconut water and a quality cup of coffee complete this breakfast!

A glass of lemon coconut water and a quality cup of coffee complete this breakfast!

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KJ meets Cancer

Just recently I learned that KJ, a friend and former colleague received a breast cancer diagnosis.  Days later I got an email invitation to join her blog so I could follow her progress, stay connected  and offer support.  Then the meal train invitation came.  Such a great idea!  It’s basically an online organizing tool used to simplify giving and receiving meals.  KJ has some pretty amazing people in her circle and someone kindly set up a “meal train” for her as she begins her journey with chemotherapy.  I happily signed myself up to bring a prepared dinner meal.

I must say hearing of KJ’s diagnosis was shocking for me.  Learning of this as I approach the one year anniversary of my mom’s death from breast cancer made the harshness of this news more biting.  I admit KJ has been on my mind often and I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in not only her journey, but her healing by providing healthful meals (along with a lot of positive intentions sent out to the Universe!).  Additionally, I feel like I can witness another way to approach such a dire diagnosis: acceptance.  It is something I feel my mom never did.  With each new blog entry from KJ I am in awe at the enormous amount of love displayed by everyone who comments.  More so, the positive attitude I’ve observed in KJ is amazing and powerful.  While I know there are plenty of fearful and tearful moments, what I see is an incredibly strong woman owning her new life journey and fully immersing herself in learning the “walk” on this new path.  KJ is surrounded by love.  I am honored to be on the “love train” and the “meal train”.  Strangely, somehow it helps me in my own healing.  It feels really good to participate.

I chose this medicine meal combination with healing and dietary preferences in mind.  I used all quality, organic ingredients with as many non-GMO products I could find.  I poured a lot of love into it all and after taste tests here at home, I am pleased with the outcome.

On the menu for KJ and her family:

Creamy Carrot Ginger Soup – Carrots and ginger combined have powerful effects on the immune system thanks to the high amounts of vitamins C and A.

Warmed Butternut Squash Salad w/Balsamic dressing – Butternut squash is rich with beta-carotene.  I’ve read phytochemicals in spinach may play a role in fighting cancer.

Crispy Quinoa Cakes w/Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Cream Dip – Quinoa is simply a superfood filled with cancer fighting properties, but most importantly, quinoa contains a substance called saponins that actually produces anti-tumor activity and suppress the proliferation of cancer cells.  {keep quinoa in your diet, KJ!} 

To find the recipe I used for the soup, check here–[] My change was using a combination of shallots and red onion.

This will take you to the original recipe for the salad.   Find the recipe I used here–[]  The only change I made was using raw agave syrup in place of brown sugar for the pecans & I made my own balsamic/olive oil drizzle.

To check out the original recipe for the quinoa cakes, check here–[]

I had such a fun afternoon making these dishes and was so happy KJ felt up for a short visit when we delivered the meal.  She looked great and seemed in pretty good spirits considering she’d just finished another round of chemo treatment.  I am keeping an eye out for the next opportunity to provide more meals to KJ and her family. I would like to be a part of her continued healing if only on the peripherals, making healthful meals and being a smiling face to bring them to her.


Quinoa Cakes


Containers marked with food descriptions and a few affirmations!


Roasted Butternut Squash


A mix of spinach and arugula will make this salad tasty!

Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Cream Dip

Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Cream Dip

Creamy Carrot Ginger Soup

Creamy Carrot Ginger Soup


The meal ready to be delivered!


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