Be Bold. Eat Buddha Bowls. 

I ate well last week. Buddha Bowls were my meals for the week, portioned into single serving containers for quick grab and go. The inspiration for these Buudha Bowls came from my son. During a conversation he mentioned that he makes them, stores them in the refrigerator and eats them throughout the week. I asked him a few questions about how he prepared them, checked a few online ideas and I was inspired to create my own.

Buddha Bowls are my new favorite lunch. I plan on making more today to get me through this coming week. The most common way to create a Buddha Bowl starts with a base, which is generally a dark green vegetable. Next there’s a grain, a protein, a complex carbohydrate, something sweet, some crunch and some fluff (this would be toppings like chives, cilantro, sesame seeds, etc). All this goodness is topped with a fantastic sauce which is key for a superb bowl.

I adapted my Buddha Bowls to what I had on hand. I am definitely making it with chicken instead of beef when I make more today. Beef is delicious but I think a different sauce would compliment the meat more. The nutty asian-inpired sauce I made will be more ideal with chicken.

I also used some frozen and some fresh veggies. I very rarely buy frozen vegetables. My local grocer had 50% off on a brand I favor and their frozen vegetables were so inexpensive I bought several packages. I’ve found it difficult to get enough raw, fresh veggies in me lately so I decided to take a temporary different direction. It certainly worked!  In addition to the vegetables in my Buddha Bowls, I’ve enjoyed a couple fresh made juices and delicious fresh green salads. I’m planning more of the same for this week, too.

I encourage you to check out some ideas online and come up with your own unique version of these delicious, healthful meals. Here’s how I prepared my Buddha Bowls:

My base was spinach, then I added brown jasmine rice. My frozen veggie combo consisted of green beans, multiple colors and cuts of carrots, sweet peas, corn, broccoli and cauliflower. I tossed them together on a baking sheet, sprinkled a bit of granulated garlic and roasted them in the oven. My protein was thinly sliced grass fed sirloin steak, browned to medium rare in my cast iron skillet. I added roasted yams, cut into bite sized chunks, skipped the sweet and used chopped romaine as my crunch. I topped it with grated ginger, chives and black sesame seeds. Now, the best part-the sauce!  I looked up a few versions and then made up my own. My measurements are rough and I adjusted to taste, but here’s a good base recipe to start:

3 Tbsp creamy sunbutter

1 Tbsp low-sodium tamari

Juice of 1 lime, freshly squeezed

1 tsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp honey

1.5 Tbsp sesame oil

1 small garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp ground ginger (I also added ginger juice)

1/2 tsp granulated garlic

I added all ingredients, gave it a quick zap in the microwave to thin the sunbutter then whisked it until everything was evenly combined. I divided the sauce between my containers then topped some with chopped chives & black sesame seeds.

Although Buddha Bowls were the highlight of my week, I did make a two other cassoulets I ate for dinner. These were made with grass fed ground beef, more of the same vegetable combination I used for the Buddha Bowls, spiced with garlic, parsley, cumin, salt and pepper then topped with leftover biscuit dough. Lastly, I managed to get in more fresh produce by making mason jar juice!

I certainly ate healthful food that made my body feel good. Taking a few hours to prepare meals for the week keeps me from wanting to grab unhealthy foods like the little bag of fritos in the convenience market near work that becomes lunch or spending money on the many food carts that line the downtown streets. Homemade meals are always best. My body feels better, my mind is positively focused and my spirit is calm. Eating well makes me happy. I encourage you to try make ahead meals. It’s a great way to be assured you’ll get proper balanced nutrition. I guarantee that will motivate you to be your best every day. Now, who doesn’t want that? 

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When Professional & Personal Worlds Merge

I attended the most fascinating workshop this week.  This FREE event, a workshop entitled “Too Much Stuff” was sponsored by our county task force on hoarding.  Throughout the day we were encouraged to tweet  #pdxstuff  to call awareness to hoarding disorder.

I wanted to attend this all day seminar after recently having direct experience in my work with a hoarding resident who was at risk of eviction.  My goal for attending was to leave with a better understanding of brain functioning in people living with hoarding behaviors.

I certainly walked away with what I intended and so much more.  I had some surprising personal insights that shed light on behaviors I witnessed with my ex, “M”.  I was reminded of our last conversation before she told me to leave.  It really wasn’t a conversation; more like “M’s” inner monologue leaking outward because I made a feeling statement about something that was bothering me.  In the usual off topic ranting, what I heard from the babble was “M” didn’t like seeing my things around the house.  I remember being hurt and confused.  Simply put,  I lived in the house.  That’s why my things were there.  Additionally,  as in countless times of the past I attempted a real conversation about something that was bothering me and in the usual way,  I was left bewildered by the behaviors of “M” with no real resolve to the original concern.  I understand now why I let so much fall to the wayside,  but what I didn’t understand until I sat in that workshop was how much the fear of hoarding played a role in “M”‘s behavior throughout our relationship and was ultimately the catalyst for the demand that I move out.

By “M”‘s own admission, her family of origin has hoarding behaviors.  So much so that it led to decisions “M” would make in her own life.  It was the subject of many conversations.  I heard story upon story of hoarding tendencies that thread through the family lines.  Me,  person of stuff–not even close to the true definition of hoarding,  had sufficient belongings that “M” was well aware of when I moved in.  We had a room we called “the office”.   Essentially, it was an unused space with furnishings and a bunch of, well…clutter; “M”‘s things.  That clutter was different from mine though because it was hers (the illusion of having control)!  Really,  it was “M”‘s ironing room and a place to dump paperwork.   I moved in with craft supplies, taking over said “office”.  Multiple times I listened to “M”‘s complaints of the “cluttered” office.   Multiple times I asked to help me create space for my things so it didn’t look that way.   That never happened.

From the general obsessive behavior and the need for perfection to the constant concerns that the house had too much stuff (it didn’t),  I learned in this workshop that “M” displayed nearly every characteristic of a person with hoarding tendencies.  However, what I determined was that the deep seeded fear of hoarding is what kept “M” from the actual act of it, almost!  Lest I mentioned the shed full of rocks in boxes that weren’t mine!  It was truly a mind blowing day for me.  I found myself saying “wow” under my breath on numerous occasions as I had “ah-ha” moments.  Do you ever have those?  Suddenly something makes sense, it “clicks” and things all come together in your mind like a wave of instant awareness.  I have had so many of those surrounding my past relationship.

Although the demand for me to move out was on the heals of an issue “M” saw as borderline hoarding on my part, that demand truly had nothing to do with my belongings and had everything to do with the boundaries I set for myself in how I allowed her family members, specifically her adult daughter to treat me.  That is where the truth lies.

I moved, getting rid of nearly all those belongings “M” complained about.  I let them go with relative ease by the way, because I do not have a hoarding issue.  I now have a lot more knowledge of this widespread issue and I had some amazing insights that helped remind me I was not the problem in that relationship, as “M” would have wanted me and likely everyone else to believe. That workshop was another reminder that “M” really did (likely still does) have some serious mental health concerns that were not being addressed.

Since I blog mostly about food, let me not forget: we were on our own for lunch and because it is safest for me to eat my own food, I brought an amazing salad that was simple yet hearty and filling.  salad

The workshop was walking distance from the house I shared with “M”, who no longer lives there either.  I was compelled to go by because I was in the neighborhood and hadn’t been by that place since I left.  I was curious.  It looks the same.  I had no twinge of missing it or the neighborhood as I wandered by.  In fact, I found myself being grateful for right where I am and so glad that part of my life is in the past.  All this from one workshop!  My love of learning, professionally and personally will never end.

 

 

 

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–[http://www.eattobeat.org/onemeal/528/creamy-gingered-carrot-soup.html] 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–[http://minimalistbaker.com/warm-roasted-butternut-squash-salad/]  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–[http://ohmyveggies.com/crispy-quinoa-cakes-with-roasted-red-pepper-cashew-cream/]

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.

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Quinoa Cakes

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Containers marked with food descriptions and a few affirmations!

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Roasted Butternut Squash

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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

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The meal ready to be delivered!

National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day

Did you know it’s National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day?  No one seems to know the creator of this day, but at some time in food history this classic sandwich was deemed “America’s favorite sandwich”.

After my random discovery I could not get the idea of this sweet and salty snack out of my mind.  My intended sandwich is a bit different because peanut butter and my body do not get along too well.  Sunflower seed butter is the perfect alternative to those with peanut allergies.  I discovered how fantastic sunflower seed butter tastes when I started working at my current job.  The kitchen I work in is a nut free kitchen and I use this spread as an alternative to peanut butter.  I had seen the jars in stores many times and wondered about it’s flavor and texture, but it is quite a bit more expensive than peanut butter and I wasn’t willing to waste dollars on something I might not like.  Now, even though the cost is higher, it has become a regular grocery list item.  I don’t indulge in sunflower seed butter too often so a jar lasts quite a while, making it worth the extra money for me.

I rarely use jam or preserves of any kind, however, we just happened to have a jar of locally made marionberry preserves in the fridg. Here it is:  a new age twist on a classic sandwich.

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I don’t know about you, but that looks like childhood to me!!  I am using this day as a reason to indulge in a delightful snack that takes me back my carefree kid days.  We all need a little reprieve from adulthood every now and then.  Go ahead; make your own peanut butter and jelly today.  Or, be daring and give sunflower seed butter a try.  By the way, it has double the fiber of peanut butter with the same level of protein!  Go on–enjoy!  You deserve it!!

Happy National Peanut Butter and Jelly day!!