Coconut Curry Chicken

I had a lovely time at the coast this weekend.  It was nice to get out of Portland where the weather was near record heat temperatures.  The coast was a lovely mild temperature with bright sunshiny blue skies, but a bit too breezy for me.  As is typical for the Oregon coast, I certainly did not complain.  I spent time with my family there, watched my nephew graduate, shared food, conversation and laughter.  I walked on the beach, I stopped and stretched toward the roaring ocean.  Hot tubs, soaks, luxurious baths and good food all weekend.  I truly enjoyed my rejuvenating get-a-way.  Even though it was scorching hot upon my return to Portland this afternoon, I entered my home and was met with a cool, comfortable feeling temperature.  That made me very happy and is a good indication of what to expect as the heat continues into summertime.

I did my unpacking and began organizing my plan for food this coming week.  Needing to use some chicken, I decided on a dish I know I will enjoy for most of this week.  It’s easy, it can be portable, it is nutritious and filling.  When I can use up the items in my little fridg before my next trip to the store, that makes me happy!  I whipped up what I call coconut curry chicken.  I love that I can use just one pan, my cast iron skillet.  I also made some brown rice as a delicious accompaniment to this dish.

Looking ahead to my busy week I am excited for many things on my work agenda.  How cool is that?!!  I am really excited for my work week.  I am continuing to love my job.  It is so perfect for me.  I know I’ll love my week even more with my delicious meals on the go I will get to enjoy.  Have a great week!  Eat well.

Coconut Curry Chicken

Heat a tablespoon of sunflower seed oil (or whatever you have on hand that isn’t olive oil) in a 10-12 inch skillet.  Add 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, finely chopped and saute until translucent.  Next, add one pound of chicken breast cut into bite size pieces.  Saute until just browned.  Add 2 Tablespoons of powdered yellow curry and stir around to coat the chicken pieces. Add one 14 ounce can of light coconut milk and a half cup of chicken broth. Stir until combined and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, or until sauce begins to reduce and chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degree. Top with freshly chopped green onions and cilantro.  You could even add a crack or two of some fresh peppercorns! Enjoy over greens, rice, or both!

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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

Snacks and Miracles

One of the benefits of my job is that our non-profit Head Start program follows the local public school calendar.  When kids are on Spring break, so am I.   Another benefit of my job is the incredibly generous paid time off that builds quickly. Although I had been away from work most of November and December to care for my mom in her last weeks of life and to be with my family, I still managed to earn enough time off to make my Spring vacation fully paid.  That is my favorite way to enjoy time off!

I was fortunate to score a sweet little place at the Oregon Coast for a mid-week solo getaway.  The coastal eating establishments sorely lack special diet foods on their menus and the grocery store options are minimal, so I knew I would need to prepare some snacks and meals to take along.  Normally, making food for adventures is one of my favorite activities.  I love coming up with exciting and delicious road trip foods that are easy for travel.  I just haven’t had any motivation to be in my kitchen.  Instead of happily thinking up all kinds of yummy food ideas, I was dreading having to prepare anything and my thoughts were leaning more toward making this “chore” as easy as possible.

Then the miracle happened.  Yes, a miracle.  I wonder how many people believe in miracles.   When inexpiable things happen are they simply random coincidences?  I suppose it depends upon your personal spiritual beliefs.  For me, I experienced what I would call divine intervention; a miracle.   Just before I was to leave on my Spring break adventure my dad was in a roll over accident on his way home from Canada.  He hit a patch of black ice, lost control and spun across the opposite lane of traffic.  His truck hit an embankment and flipped twice landing upright in some brush.

smashed canopy in foreground.   Dad's truck in the shrubs!

smashed canopy in foreground. Dad’s truck in the shrubs!

My sister contacted me to tell me this news and I went into an instant panic.  I had so many questions!  She didn’t have a lot of information and all I knew was both my sisters were driving toward his location somewhere north of  Seattle.  Much of the day went by without any information on how he was or where exactly he was and what was happening.   My dad wasn’t answering his phone, nor were my siblings.  Clear communication is really not my family’s forte, which added to my distress.  When my dad finally called me I was so relieved to hear his voice!  He said he was okay.  He briefly told me the story and said he did not go to a hospital.  I urged him to get checked out just to be sure.   He insisted he was fine.  He did not hit his head and he had no injuries.  I had to see him in person before I would completely accept that he really was fine.

His truck is destroyed and he walked away with a small bruise on his elbow and his wrist.  He’s got some very sore arms. I’m sure he must have had a “death grip” on his steering wheel.  Random?  Pure luck??  I don’t think so.  Upon hearing the full story I feel strongly that this was indeed a miracle.  There are so many things that could have made the outcome much more dismal.  There is simply no earthly explanation why my almost 85 year old dad survived this accident unharmed.

To say that I was joyous is an understatement.  After too many hours of intense worry and concern, I felt such relief that my dad really was fine; a bit traumatized but perfectly okay.

I had been talking with my sister about this divine intervention we both thought our mom had something to do with.  I told her that mom would not let dad die so soon after her and it was my sisters birthday.  Mom would definitely not let him die on her birthday.

It wasn’t until my sister told me that when they were cleaning stuff out of his truck they found my mom’s compact mirror in the glove box.  In that moment I felt a wave of peaceful calm wash over me.  I got goosebumps.  I knew without a doubt that my mom played a hand in his survival.  This has challenged (in a good way) my beliefs about death, afterlife and what some people would call “angels”.  It solidifies what I felt was true.  People who die really do look after those left behind.  I can’t really explain it more than that.

Honestly, I am okay with no further explanation.  Faith is a belief not based on proof.  I do not consider myself a religious person, but I do have a deep faith in my own kind of spirituality.   I am holding on to this feeling that has lifted me and eased just a little bit of the ache I have felt since my mom’s death.  I feel like she is close by and she knows what is going on.  She is watching over us and protecting us in an “other worldly” sense.

This joyful feeling motivated me to get in the kitchen and pull together some food for my beach trip that for a while, I did not think I would get to take.  Here’s a sampling of the things I made for my trip:

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toasted raw cashews with coconut chips and a few sprinkles of tumeric, curry and garlic. Easy and delish!

sweet potato "chips"

sweet potato “chips”

There was quite a storm while I was there and it made me want to stay indoors by the fire instead of wander the beach and wave watch.  I did manage to witness some massive ocean waves we don’t normally see on the Oregon Coast.  I enjoyed my time alone.  I ate well.   I had a lovely visit with my sister in law, who lives at the coast.  I took time to reflect on many things.   I held on to the peaceful feeling I miraculously found through something that was absolutely frightening.  I think it is rather mind boggling that my dad’s accident is what moved me in a more healing direction around the loss of my mom.  It feels better than holding on to her last days, unable to free myself from the pain of her leaving us.  I had never witnessed someone taking their last breath until I held my mom’s hand as she took hers.  I wish I could say that I will never experience this again.  It is as much a blessing as it is devastating.  It has been hard for me to let that memory fade.

high winds and big waves on the beautiful Oregon coast.

high winds and big waves on the beautiful Oregon coast.

This Oregon coast sunset is spectacular.

This Oregon coast sunset is spectacular.

It will get easier.   I now find myself thinking less of her last days and more that she is closer than I realize.  She is right here with me.  I just can’t see her.  It is a strange paradox.  I am not used to this yet.  The pain of missing her is still strong, as I am sure it will be always.  I continue to cry almost daily, though the tears flow a little less.

I know this sounds bizarre and I really do not mean it in any sort of negative way, but I must say I am grateful for my dad’s accident in that it has given me the beginning of acceptance with my mom’s death.  I ‘talk’ to my mom now.  I know she can hear me.   Undeniably, I feel her presence more strongly.  I will continue to have patience with myself on my grief path and know that my feelings will change often as I heal.  Grief has a rhythm all it’s own.  It can be crazy making.  I read recently that grief is a part of love and love evolves.  It continually shifts and changes.  One day I will be able to set my grief free.  I think then I will feel love for my mom in ways I never imagined.  I look forward to that day.