The Short Sweet Life of Luscious Raspberries

If you read yesterday’s blog post, Let Us Eat Lettuce you will know I have plentiful greens for weeks to come.  Well, today I have an abundance of raspberries.  The short sweet season has arrived and they are ready for picking.  I am fortunate to know someone who has a plethora of these delicious jewels, my very favorite berry.  Yesterday I picked so many and that was just the first pick of the season!  These vines are mature and bountiful with beautiful red bunches ready to eat.  I plan on getting more later today.  First, I need to move some of yesterdays crop out of my little fridg.  Over half of what I plucked from the vines yesterday went to my landlady.  She is such an awesome woman who has helped me out innumerable times.  The list of wonderful and supportive ways seems endless.  I can tell some stories about this fortuitous meeting.  But, I’ll stay focused on the raspberries for now!

I have made these gluten free maple raspberry scones several times and have blogged about this recipe before.  Raspberries and Reflections was one of those stories using the same recipe.  I sometimes add my own twist on recipes, switching up ingredients for various reasons.  This morning I followed the recipe nearly exact, with the only changes being coconut oil instead of palm oil, I used light coconut milk and I added 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon.  You can find the original recipe here: http://www.nourishingmeals.com/2009/07/gluten-free-maple-raspberry-scone.html and I also have it listed below with my variations.

I just pulled the second batch of these from the oven and I am enjoying the tantalizing sweet scent throughout my home.  I’ll fess up and say I have already eaten one from the first batch.  I could not wait to bite into these!  They are truly fantastic.  I encourage you to try this recipe yourself.  They will serve well for delicious breakfasts on the go and morning snacks with tea.

Gluten Free Maple Raspberry Scones

1 ½ cups brown rice flour or sorghum flour (I used 1 cup brown rice flour + 1/2 cup sorghum flour)
½ cup tapioca flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon xanthan gum    (my addition: 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon)
½ teaspoon sea salt 
½ cup organic palm shortening (I used coconut oil)
⅓ cup maple syrup
½ cup + 2 tablespoons cold non-dairy milk (I used light coconut milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 heaping cup fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the flours, baking powder, xanthan gum, and sea salt into a medium mixing bowl and whisk together well. Cut in the shortening with your fingers or a pastry cutter until coarse crumbs are formed.

In a separate small bowl whisk together the syrup, milk, and vanilla. Add this to the dry ingredients and quickly mix together with a fork or wooden spoon until the dough thickens. Fold in the raspberries, being very careful not to over mix.

Drop by the large spoonful onto a cookie sheet and bake for about 15 to 17 minutes, depending on the size of your scone.

I got 8 scones from this recipe.  I believe the original authors states her yield the same.

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Clean Eating Brunch

Last weekend the weather was absolutely glorious.  I was feeling energetic and motivated to get my Sunday “church” walk going.  Every Sunday I head out early and hit the trails near my house.  It has become my ritual of sorts.  I love that I can simply walk out my door, up the street a bit and walk right into our beautiful forest in the city.

Once I got my pace going it wasn’t long before my ankle decided not to cooperate. I broke my leg just above my ankle a few years back and my strength in that area has not been the same.  I also think I may be developing some arthritis in there.  Some days it gets quite painful.  I slowed my step, being mindful of how I moved my foot and continued along. Soon my back began its typical ache; it has been giving me some problems again.  I lug around a traveling office now and it is literally a pain!   My slow walking pace became meditative and methodical.  With each physical adjustment I made a mental adjustment.  I reminded myself to go with the flow, enjoy the peaceful scenery and take the opportunity to enjoy it more fully. Well, even with my slow, sure pace I still developed a pain in my hip that hurt enough to stop me.  I took a seat on a fallen tree and just let the presence of nature soothe me as I sat.

I am not sure why I took this whole experience in such stride.  I am usually not so patient with my body when it ails me and slows me down.  This experience gave me a different perspective; one that definitely caused me some concern.  I sat on that tree and wondered what I would have done had I been somewhere different.  My new job keeps me walking all around the downtown/old town area of my city.   I have places to be and I have timelines to meet.  I walk up and down steep hills on my way to and from work.  All of these activities are much more difficult with pain strong enough to disable my walking abilities.

I have only recently accepted that I live with chronic pain even though I have known this fact for quite some time.  I simply do not like limitations in my body.  I have really tried to ignore it to some degree and power on.  I try to stay away from all the triggering foods that will create more ache in my joints.  I do kind things to my muscles and joints in the form of supplements, ointments, soaks and stretches.  I have become much more physically active even when I hurt, I still walk daily because I know it is the best thing I can do for myself. Still, in doing all these great things, I sometimes slip.  Even when I don’t,  I usually experience pain.

I am considering the elimination diet again.  Not because I am concerned I have an allergy to a new food, but because it makes me feel clean on the inside.  It feels somewhat like a detox for me.  Regardless, I know this is an option and I also know now is not the time.  For now, I am being more mindful of my food choices, making sure I incorporate anti-inflammatory foods in abundance.  I came home from my walk and made an amazing brunch.  This egg scramble and green juice concoction was filled with inflammation fighting ingredients.  Try it for yourself and feel great!

This weekend the weather will be fantastic again.  In fact, a little too hot for me!  I will be heading to the beautiful Oregon coast for the weekend where it will be a perfect 70 degrees with blue skies!  My Sunday “church” walk will look a little different yet still just as beautiful.

Egg Scramble

Saute’ 2 garlic cloves in 1 1/2 tsp of olive oil until softened.  Add 1/2 cup shredded kale and cook until just wilted. Crack 2 eggs into pan and scramble with a fork, incorporating the kale and garlic.  Cook to your desired consistency then add 1/4 tsp of cracked pepper to your finished dish.

Green Juice

Chop the following produce into chunks to add to your juicer:

1 beet (I used an orange beet)

1 Bartlett pear

3 carrots (mine were unpeeled)

2 celery stalks

3 good sized kale leaves

I recommend adding the greens last.  That’s just my opinion.  However you juice, enjoy this drink.  Your body will be happy you did!20150531_104347 (1) 20150531_110213

Inspired Meals

I had no intention of letting so many days pass between posts.  I have been busy these past couple of weeks and I just have not had a good chunk of time to dedicate toward writing.  Thankfully, what’s kept me busy is all sorts of wonderful.  This is a welcome change from the stressed out, anxious kind of busy I have been for too many of these past months.

It has been a slow process of feeling settled in to my space that is now home for me. Although I have known for quite a while that I can stay where I am, it has taken some time to feel secure and safe in my mind.  Getting living room furniture definitely assisted in creating a solid sense of comfort and stability.  I was recently gifted a nice chunk of money that allowed me some financial freedom to purchase a few pieces.  My place is finally furnished!  After living with only a bed and a table for so many months I am incredibly happy for some new furnishings.  Additionally, the furnishings, chosen very wisely for size and function, gave me space for my belongings in storage, which I happily retrieved and unpacked.  It was an incredible feeling to decorate my cute little studio with the things I love to look at and have around me.  Lounging on my new couch, feet up on my new ottoman, I gazed in delight at my space.  In this divine moment I felt my stress and anxiety diminish.  My place finally feels like home.  I am quite pleased with the sweet, cozy home I’ve established.  This entire journey still makes me have moments of awe.

In addition to getting new furniture I also got a new job!!  Yes, I finally made my way back in to my degree field of social work.  I ended my second week in my new position with a double thumbs up from my supervisor about my work so far and an extra sweet compliment from one of the people I will be serving.  I believe this job will suit me perfectly.  It brings me back to my original passion in social work–stable, safe, affordable housing for low income households.

I had been applying for work in my field for such a long time.  I applied for this job while I was still living with “M” and I had forgotten all about it.  There was an agency delay in the hiring process, which is why it took so long to hear anything.  Once the process got going, it was painfully slow and although I was feeling really positive about this position, I had to hold on to my patience and not let self doubt get in the way.  It was difficult!!  It was worth the wait.  Already feeling solid in my position with some fantastic training and strong leadership, I am really happy with my new role.  It truly seems to be everything I desired in a job and organization, including the best salary I have ever received!  Of course, I get to enjoy some great benefits, opportunities for professional growth, which will enhance my personal growth, a passionate, cohesive team of people to work with and an awesome supervisor.  I think life is pretty grand right now.  Isn’t it amazing…..barely six months ago I thought I would be homeless; nearly made so by my ex-partner, who is a social worker! Now, I am a social worker making sure people do not become homeless. Ironic, I must say.

I am always inspired by a fellow blogger who posts weekly menus.  You can check out her blog here: {https://thegirlwhocouldnteatanything.wordpress.com/} I decided I would attempt my own menu to ease my way back in to full time work feeling prepared with nutritious meals.  My plan ahead meals were prepared with ease now that my kitchen island is in place.  I fully intend on making this my most used piece of furniture!

Life is moving along and I am happy to be where I am right now.  I feel content and positive again.  I see hope in my future and I see my path developing toward some long time dreams and desires.  Funny how I thought age 50 would bring me to the next best things in life.  I’m verging on 52 and I am standing at the edge of some incredible, wonderful life changes; venturing toward it with joy.  I guess I was right.  My 50’s will bring me to the next best things in life.  It certainly is not what I had anticipated, but I welcome it with open arms.

Here’s a sampling of some of my delicious choices recently:

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My new kitchen island is a blessing!! This is my best piece of furniture!!

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baked chicken drumsticks spiced with curry, tumeric, paprika & garlic. I tossed one on a bed of greens and veggies for a fantastic lunch several days in a row!

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Frittata is a great way to start my day! Turkey bacon, onions, carrots, spinach and lots of spices made this dish tasty!!

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rice and veggies was my dinner side dish next to chicken drumsticks!

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a mix of black beans, sliced yams and spinach became filling for some delicious tortilla wraps!

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Breakfast For Dinner-A Mother’s Day Tribute

This is the second Mother’s Day without my mom here.  This day brings such bittersweet memories with a touch of extra sadness as I think of the recent death of my bff’s mother. All the firsts; they really are the hardest.  Today has been a day of reflection for me.  I enjoyed breakfast with some of the family, then treated myself to a clothes shopping spree, something I rarely do.  Although I chatted with both my kids today, I missed them more than usual…wishing that they lived just a little bit closer.  I felt an underlying sadness most of the day even though I was having fun throughout it.

One of the things I fondly remember when my kids were young was our monthly tradition of breakfast for dinner.  It was the one dinner I knew my kids would eat without argument and I enjoyed making a comforting dinner that was quick, delicious and affordable.  As a single parent, all these things are valuable to quality of life and sanity!

Once home, I really wanted to bring myself back to a content state of mind so I put my new kitchen island to the test.  Recently gifted to me in the same magical way I have been receiving things the past several months, it was not in perfect condition.  It needed a good cleaning, a bit of tightening for stability and refinishing of the butcher block top.  Freshly rejuvenated by me with a little help from a friend.  I am very proud of my DIY kitchen island make over.  It still needs a couple of finishing touches but is usable and as of this morning, sits prominently in my kitchen area.  Happy Mother’s Day to me!!  It worked beautifully as I prepared my own breakfast for dinner to celebrate myself…well, and the fact that I have two amazing kids who call me mom.  That makes my heart very happy.

Today, I say thank you to my kids, grown and paving their own way in this world.  Thank you for choosing me to be your mom.  I am such a proud mama, a heart overflowing with love and gratitude.  As a tribute to them and to my mom, who would scoff at breakfast for dinner.  “Why, that is not the way you do things!”  I can hear her saying it.  I raise my fork to you, mom….I secretly think she would love breakfast for dinner.

It was fantastic.  I am content.  Back at my happy place.

Happy Mother’s Day.  Every day.

My finished project!!  Looking good!

My finished project!! Looking good!

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Pancakes

1/3 cup sorghum flour

1/4 cups brown rice flour

1/8 cup almond meal

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 Tbsp Xanthan gum

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup raw cane sugar

whisk ingredients together in a small bowl

1 egg

1 cup almond milk

1 tsp vanilla

whisk together in a small until well incorporated and small bubbles form around edges of bowl

whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients.  Mix until blended.  Let sit for 5 mins.  Scoop 1/3 cup of batter into a cup and pour into well oiled pan, preheated on medium heat.  Let brown until bubbles form on top, flip, cook for 5 more mins.  Plate with your choice of topping.

Frittata

whisk 5 eggs, your choice of spices and 1/2 cup almond milk in a medium bowl.  Saute diced onions, green onions and carrots.  Line the bottom of an 8×4 shallow glass casserole dish (greased) with onion mixture, spread a lay of baby spinach across the top of the mixture, covering it completely. Pour egg mixture over all of it, making sure all veggies are covered well.  Top with cheese, dairy free or not at all!!  Bake for 20 mins at 350 degrees.  Enjoy

Breakfast.  It’s what’s for dinner.

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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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!

Raspberries And Reflections

Our one raspberry bush has produced so much fruit this season I am finding it hard to keep the pace with their succession of ripening.  This is a raspberry bush that was cut back to practically one stalk last fall after the summer harvest.  The bush was not planted in the best location.  It was growing up onto the end of the deck and throwing sprouts in places that just were not good spots for berries to grow, like under our deck.  We had raspberry vines coming up through the planks in the deck!  All the sprouts were removed, one was replanted to a better location but didn’t survive and this one came back with a vengeance in the best kind of way.  It has grown wider around and even though it does still branch out onto the end of the deck, there have been no sprouts under it trying to make their way up through the deck and overall this bush is growing earnestly.

Raspberries are my favorite type of berry (Marionberries are a close second) and I am thrilled with the abundance of this fruit in our yard.  I find myself thinking up the next best recipe using raspberries before they hit their peak and turn to mush, which is really just a few days once picked.  They are such delicate berries.

Playing around in the kitchen always provides plenty of opportunity for reflection. Sometimes I completely immerse myself in my project, using every bit of focus to create a dish, which frees my mind of the clutter that often generates turmoil.  I like to call it my “brain break”. Sometimes my kitchen time becomes the place where I work through an issue I am having or to reflect on life, my surroundings, ideas…or whatever happens to be rolling around in my mind.

Most recently, I have been mulling over my recent travel troubles.  It has taken me quite a few days to work through what I experienced and come to terms with the loss of not only my car but a long term dream that did not get fulfilled.  There have been days when I felt like I just could not take any more challenges or obstacles.  It is still hard not to feel completely defeated by life.  How much can one person handle?  I often feel like I have reached my limit and beyond.  It has been hard for me to reach out, to get support and to find ways that will lift me.  Basically, I have been an incredibly depressed mope!

Thank goodness I have some amazing friends.  One particularly wonderful friend called the other morning and what she said spoke to the deepest part of me.   She listened, she related and she offered kind, wise words.  She encouraged me to keep my dream alive; that this trip was not a failure.  She reminded me of my strengths and my overall positive attitude in even the toughest situations.  Then she suggested we meet for coffee the next day.  I feel like that get together was the lift I needed to begin moving me forward and help pull me from the depths of despair.  Okay, that may sound a little dramatic, but it is certainly not a stretch in the way I have been feeling.   I should add that this friend is also a life coach and quite naturally offers practical, simple advice to guide people on their right path.  She is one of the most genuine and truly caring people I know.  She sincerely wants to help people and offers whatever she can from the kindness of her heart.  She is a gem.

When we met she did exactly what she does for anyone struggling with the torments of life; pulled out her notebook and began a list of weekly things for me to do that will keep me on my right path.  In addition, she gently offered plenty of sage wisdom, lots of love and strokes of  affection.  In the days since we’ve met I have looked at my list a few times, especially when I find myself going the direction of despair.  My list grounds me to the moment and keeps me focused on good things.  I tell myself to just do what’s on the list, even if it feels meaningless.  I find that at days end I feel accomplished.

Things are looking better.  I have purchased a new to me car.  This time I did some thorough research on the make and model, talked extensively with the former owner and asked a lot of questions.  I think I got a great car and one that will last me many years, I hope!   It is definitely the nicest looking and most mechanically sound vehicle I have owned.  I am still cautiously optimistic.

Other things are falling in to place as well.  I have a few aspirations I am following and feel pretty good about those potential outcomes.  I am trying a little harder to stay connected with friends.  I am taking advantage of my time off to do good things for myself like my list says, even if it is just painting my toe nails or checking out a cool library book.  The most exciting thing is my sweetie now has time off and in a couple of days we are going on our own mini road trip that will include camping.  I am looking forward to our together time in nature.  We have amazing travel adventures.

I’ll be back on the road soon, this time with my favorite companion.  I have an assurance that I will not only have a great time, I will not get lost because my sweetie is the best at navigating just about anywhere.  It seems my dismal mood may be nearing it’s end, just like our raspberries.  Those sweet things are just about done producing for the season.

As I reflect on my recent life conflicts, I realize this is just another notch in my growth. Someday I will more fully understand the lessons in these events.  For now, I’ll keep working on closing this chapter and moving forward with the things that make life good–Friends, love, and raspberries. Here’s what I have been doing with those lovely little berries.  Try some of these ideas at your house, or mix it up and use the next cycle of berries that will be ripe soon-blackberries!

Note: I did make some changes with the scone recipe I made.  I used coconut oil in place of palm shortening.  I used hemp milk and I also added a total of 1 1/2 cups of berries.  I used hemp milk in the chia seed pudding; a first that I wasn’t as excited about as when I use coconut milk.  The salad was absolutely amazing!  In addition to chopped kale, which I massaged gently with sea salt and olive oil to make it softer to chew, I added Fuji apple slices, raspberries and toasted slivered almonds.  The dressing was a mix of olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice, grated ginger a bit of agave and a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

I highly recommend any or all of these delicious dishes!  Take advantage of this season of berries and try these recipes today!

 

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raspberry chia seed pudding using 2 Tblsp chia seeds, 8 ounces hemp milk, 1/2 tsp agave, 1/3 cup raspberries and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

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