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? 

“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.