gingerbread and zoolights
This month is FLYING by. I know it's only the 8th, but I ADORE the Christmas season and all it has to offer, and all the memories waiting to be made. Yet this year with our school & work schedules, a partial house remodel to build a home theatre, and all the commitments we've piled on top, we haven't taken much time for our traditional activities. Don't get me wrong, I see the blessing in all of what we have & do, I just want to drive around sipping hot cocoa with my honey looking at lights, and spend nights by a fire with a Christmas movie enjoying our tree.
So, in an effort to start doing some Christmas-y events, I planned a wintery date night and Mr. Charming and I went to the Phoenix Zoo's Zoolights. I hadn't been since I was a kid, and I remember as a pre-teen thinking it was so sparkly and romantic like the movies and that, one day, when I was in love, I would come here on a date and it would be magical.
Haha, yes, I've always been a hopeless romantic. And we went. And it was. They did a Wizard of Oz light show on the water with the music from the movie and my night was made. A few photos from the night.
Over the weekend we had my friends son, my sister Ashley and my niece over for kiddo time! We got some more Christmas activities in, went to a few Christmas parties, and drove around a little looking at lights, but the highlight of the weekend was doing Gingerbread houses with the kids. Especially seeing my two year old niece get SO excited and make these memories for the first time.
It was boys against girls, and Ryker and Mr. Charming kicked our butts. But I was ok with that, because we had a 2 year old on the team, our roof caved in, and she ate more than she decorated with, but I think thats what made it all the more special. And can you say curls & sugar? This girls hair, LOVE it. Its just like her mama's.
So, in the crazy hustle and bustle of the holiday season in a life that seemingly gets busier each year, we must remember to make time to make these moments.
It's what the season, and life, is truly all about.
thanksgiving & donuts!
What is it that they say? "The best laid plans..." I have been counting down to Thanksgiving for WEEKS. WEEKS. Maybe even months. Now that I have more of a handle on my diet, and cooking, I was so excited to go from my sisters to my husbands family armed with gluten-, dairy-, grain- and sugar free dishes that I could share and inspire with. I wanted to lead up to Thanksgiving with some great recipes to share with all of you. And then BAM! I caught the bug going around and spent Wednesday sick at work, Thanksgiving in the guest bed at my sisters between breakfast and Turkey dinner, and Black Friday in bed. Today I am still recovering, but I DID still manage to make a few delicious dishes for the holiday that I wanted to share. Luckily my appetite didn't wane, and I was armed with enough herbs and vitamins that I didn't lose taste of this delicious treats!
I was SO excited to make donuts. It's been a standing tradition since I met my husband, that on Thanksgiving or Black Friday morning we would get donuts. But since the store, and bakery, bought varieties are full of sugar, gluten, dairy and chemicals I wanted to attempt to make some that I could enjoy and share with the fam while everyone gathered to cook the turkey. I was nervous that they'd turn out bland, because I didn't use sugar, or too mealy, because of the almond flour. I was afraid that they frosting would be runny because I made my own version using coconut oil.
But none of that happened. They. Were. Absolutely. PHENOMENAL. Even my two-year old niece devoured one, her happy little face covered in chocolate. She's always my official taste tester. I figure if the littles like it, I must be doing something right. If you keep reading, you will find the recipe below. I do use NUTS & EGGS in this recipe. You may be able to use an egg replacer, but I can't guarantee how it would come out, and swapping out for a different flour will drastically change the taste and texture.
After breakfast I had to nap for a while, this darn cold got me good but I could still smell the amazing aromas in my sisters house. This year I wasn't able to eat as much of her menu as my dad did the turkey his traditional way and more family members attended, bringing their own dishes. So Mr. Charming and I brought a lot of our food from home. (He ate my menu with me and boycotted the "gluten food" in support. I adore that man.) Below is my scrumptious meal. For the first time since I changed my eating habits, it truly tasted like "Thanksgiving". I found organic jellied cranberry. I'm not a fan of whole, and though I don't like to eat a lot of canned food because of heavy metals, something about jellied cranberry just says comfy, Thanksgiving dinner to me. So Mr. Charming found me an organic canned one, with no corn syrup or funky preservative. My menu is below, to help you with choices for your other holiday meals this season. Make sure, that even though you are including traditional carb-y comfort foods, to also get plenty of vegetables and protein.
My menu included:
- White sweet potato with EB butter
- Organic cranberry sauce
- Turkey breast baked with EB butter, onion and organic herbs
- My Vanilla-Honey Carrots
- Lemon infused olive oil grilled green beans
After we enjoyed dinner at my sisters we loaded up our things in the car and Mr. Charming drove us to his cousins while I napped in the car. We met over there for more family time and dessert. I was particularly thankful for her big comfy couch where I got to rest my little head. I brought my apple pie. It's gluten and dairy free. There is rice starch in the crust, so it's not completely grain free, but I had already gotten the crust before my Dr's ordered changed so I just had a slice. I call it my "Thanksgiving splurge". Everyone does it, even us healthy-foodies. Again, we're only human. I added my lattice top crust and baked it with lots of cinnamon. And topped it off with a scoop of sugar-free coconut milk vanilla icecream. Mm. Mm. Mm. Then it was off to bed again.
Despite the cold bug, I had a beautiful Thanksgiving. I truly have so many blessings I am so, so thankful for. I will continue posting my Gratitude Photo Challenge that ended today. I am kind of sad it's over, it was a fun photo project that really brought focus to things we are thankful for. Thank you to those of you who joined in on instagram with #letsbegrateful. Hope you all had a wonderful, healthful Thanksgiving as well!
gratitude photo challenge: days 1-9
I want to thank those of you that are participating along with me in this gratitude photo challenge. I've seem inspiring, cute, funny entries on intagram, twitter and facebook. Remember, for us to see them you must hashtag them #letsbegrateful on Instagram. For those of you that follow the blog, but not social media I wanted to recap as I went along to capture moments I am grateful for.
On a side note, I am super happy to report that when shopping at Sprouts tonight, I saw they got my FAVORITE gluten-free pie crusts back in for the holidays, so I stocked up my freezer to get us through all the holiday parties. Homemade apple pie, here I come.
Day 1: FOOD - Avocado. I could seriously eat it on anything. It's an amazingly delicious superfood.
Day 2: SMILE. This smile holds my whole heart. He is such a blessing to me and this smile lights up my world. Grateful for who He chose for me.
Day 3: HAPPINESS. Having this little girl in my life has shown me the pure, innocent happiness of childhood.
Day 4: LEAVES. Gods timing is perfect. This photo isn't mine, it's a friends. And I am so grateful for her in my life. Not sure if she knows how special she is to me, but I wasn't sure I'd make any new best friends at this age after leaving my besties behind on the coast. And she proved that people can profoundly become part of your heart when you least expect it.
Day 5: MORNING SKY. this morning was hectic and by the time I remembered the daily challenge it was 3pm. So I decided to use this photo of a morning view from our hotel suite in Anaheim. I'm thankful for Gods blessing of amazing vacations and memories I've made with my husband over the past 7 and a half years.
Day 6: BOOKS. I am extremely thankful for the written word. It's in me to write. Since a young age it's how I best express who I truly am. It's how we are able to learn who God truly is. It's my therapy. It allows me to live my dream. And reading allows me to escape into dream worlds.Day 7: FUNNY. When my schedule gets crazy, or life is stressing us out, my hubs and I like to turn to classic, funny tv shows on DVD to cozy up and just laugh. So grateful for the blessing of rest and laughter in our life.
Day 8: FAVORITE COLOR. This dreamy orange creamsicle jacket i bought. I’m crazy about it right now. Grateful for home projects with my honey, and the blessing of the clothes on our backs.
Day 9: PERSON WHO INSPIRES ME. My sister. She is an amazing mother, a loving fiancé, a friend who's always there and now she's on her path to college and career. It's amazing what she's done with her life and I couldn't be more proud of her. Blessed to be her family.
So. October flew by. That was crazy fast. I know I was busy, I just can't pinpoint what I was busy doing. I don't know if that's a good sign or a bad one. It was quite a roller coaster of a month. It's been a little bit of a struggle for me this month. Been fighting through some hormonal/mood/digestion issues. So, maybe that's why part of this month has been a fog. It's been a battle of Hope Vs. Frustration. Although I know I've got an amazing God who always lets Hope prevail. So blessed He's on my side. And that He has blessed me with a husband who will lift me up out of my pit when I have no reason to be sad, but simply am. Frustrating I tell you. But I'll get through it... more importantly, we will get through it.
However, as I am choosing to focus on the positive moments I wanted to share some October highlights..., Mr. Charming and I visited the fair. It was a very special day for me, breakthrough wise, because in 2011 I had so much going on that I could barely make it through the evening and the visit was a true low point on the health and wellness scale. It was empowering for us to share in that experience together.
Halloween seemed to creep right up too! We had so much fun. Mr. Charming and I went to my sister and her fiancees' and took our two year old niece Trick Or Treating, and then hit a party with his side of the family. I was a pirate, and he was Michael Myers. This is his longstanding costume, he LOVES scaring kiddos, as we usually host a charity haunted house each year. Unfortunately a storm destroyed it two years ago and we are saving funds and resources to rebuild. Here are some photos of our evening and the cutest witch you'll ever see... well, in my opinion anyways...
Hoping you all had a safe & happy Halloween! I can say it was my second Halloween completely candy-free, except for a part of an Enjoy Life chocolate bar. Here is to making healthy decisions all season long! Coming soon I will be sharing amazingly delicious, and healthy, holiday recipes to share at your holiday parties and on your Thanksgiving table!
pumpkin, family & stew.
It's truly fall. I love being in the deep of fall and fall traditions. This past weekend I got together with my sister and along with Mr. Charming we took her and my adorable niece to the local pumpkin patch. We were also able to scout out some amazing locations for her engagement shoot at this adorable Pioneer Village not too far from our home.
After we spent an hour finding the cutest mini pumpkins for Miss Peyton to color for her dad, petting horses and walking the grounds we worked up an appetite for something yummy, filling and warm. I had been craving a good stew and figured what better time to make a full crockpot of stew than when you have family coming over to share it with? Because I don't handle potatoes so well I had to change it up a bit and I used sweet potatoes. And since the beef broth, though they can be found gluten-free, still use yeast.. I opted to use chicken broth. I thought it may alter the taste too much with the chuck roast, but it came out amazing and I didn't even notice the change in broth selection. You could even use vegetable broth as well. This would be really easy to make vegan as well. It would cook MUCH quicker, just put a mix of your favorite veggies, potato of choice and broth and herbs in your slow cooker.
We spent the rest of the evening pouring over bridal magazines and websites. So excited for this journey to watch my little sister marry the man of her dreams! Enjoy the stew and the season with your loved ones!
a summer weekend
So this past weekend was filled with work, tons of writing and a simple date night with my love. I havn't been feeling to good lately, so we took it easy and decided to do a game night in at home (he kicked my butt at yahtzee!). I decided to skip dinner and lighten the load on my digestive system and just had my anti-inflammatory smoothie for dinner. Usually when I do this I will treat my hubby to Jamba Juice and a Builder Bar so he can get a fruit smoothie too and I ended up picking some some organic dehydrated apples to munch on if i got hungry! (which I did, and they were delicious!)
We've also posted the sequel to Miss Kaity's Chinese Herb piece here, which I find fascinating and we hope you do too, even helpful! She is really inspiring me to put my own story out there more, exposing even the dark corners of all of this, why we have to eat this way, live this way. Blessed to have her be a part of the Nosh & Nurture journey. Everyone enjoy your week! Be productive and healthy!
national sister day
So apparently today was National Sister Day. One of those random, made-up "holidays" like National Donut Day or National Wear Pink Socks Day that is totally ridiculous. However, any day I get to spend with my sister, Ashley, is an amazing one so we thought "what the hey" let's celebrate this bogus little "holiday" and so we did. I was ecstatic to hear of a little coffee shop in Scottsdale from the owner of my work, Elements.(Thanks, Shauna!) Jolta Java and Echo Coffee in Scottsdale both have rice milk and almond milk lattes! YAY for not having to roadtrip it 90 miles to Prescott for good organic, vegan coffee! And while I barely do sugar, and can't handle caffeine (decaf all the way for me) sometimes I like to sit in a quaint coffee shop, catching up with my sister and splurge on something yummy that won't totally take me down. Enter, the vegan latte.
Afterwards, we hit our favorite shopping quarter and did this.
Because being healthy in mind body and spirit, always includes a little retail therapy, right? ;)
this. lasagna. is. no. joke
Friday Flashback Fact: I grew up in an Italian household. My dad is pure Italian, (and if you've seen my gorgeous olive skinned sister Ashley, you'd see the proof) As kids we got delicious homemade meals every night of the week. We grew up with lasagna, ziti and spaghetti and meatballs (as well as salads, grilled chicken and every 80's kids staples macaroni and spaghettios). All italian meals were homemade and all traditional Italian recipes by my dad. As I grew up and moved out on my own to Hollywood and hosted my own dinner parties (another huge love of mine), my go to dish was spaghetti with homemade meat sauce and my sisters famous ziti is still a huge hit with our family. So you can imagine when I had to give up gluten and dairy in one fell swoop I was devestated over the loss of my beloved italian food. It reminded me of home and my dads homecooked meals. Having to sit out with my salad at family events hasn't been the same. And though my health comes first, and I would never cheat, I was determined to create a safe alternative that could maybe at least resemble my childhood favorite. I was perusing the store one day and I found these gluten free lasagna noodles and had seen a recipe that used white beans as "ricotta", and although that recipe included other elements I can not tolerate, I thought I'd wing it with my own version.
Look how PRETTY it looked even before it was cooked! You will find the link to the recipe at the bottom of this post, and it's also Augusts featured recipe. After Mr. Charming mashed the white beans with egg and spices for me I got to layer my little creation in a baking pan. I used nitrate free sweet turkey sausage, an organic tomato basil sauce from sprouts, the alternative "cheese" mixture, lots of spinach to get my greens and of course, the gluten free noodles. A perk of using rice lasagna noodles was that I didn't have to cook them first! They came out PERFECT in baking.
Above is how it looked before it went in. Make sure to use A LOT of sauce. Since the noodles are NOT cooked prior to baking, it will use the moisture from the sauce to soften your noodles.
I will tell you in the year and half that I have been eating gluten and dairy free this has to be one of the BEST dishes I've made. Mr. Charming even said it tasted JUST like lasagna and that you couldn't even tell I used white beans instead of cheese. We cozied up with a movie and each went back for seconds. Ok, thirds. Sometimes you just have to indulge. We will be making this again and I look forward to bringing this to my next Italian family dinner! For the recipe, click here.
So, my gorgeous and insanely inspiring sister Ashley has decided to come aboard as my fitness model and guest blogger for Nosh & Nurture and I could not be MORE excited.
First, I get to work with my sister, who is one of my best friends and who I adore.
Second, she is one of the most motivated, health conscious people I know and I love that she's sharing her expertise with all of those that I am trying to reach on the health front!
Ashley has lost over 50 pounds since the birth of her daughter through exercise and clean eating and from time to time she will be sharing work-outs you can do at the gym and at home for when you are on limited time (she has a two year old and goes to school!) as well as her tips for detoxing and repairing after work outs. She is also donating some of her fresh, yummy recipes! If you send Ashley any notes through our contact page I'll make sure to pass them on!
Contact Mandi @ Nosh and Nurture
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Nosh & Nurture was born of this journey I am on to better the health of myself, my family and those around me. What started as a simple compilation of recipes has grown to a all-around lifestyle journal with ways to incorporate organic products into your home, pantry and beauty cabinet. I also include stories on pregnancy, new motherhood, travel, Proverbs 31 marriage, and spiritual health, as I am a Christian who couldn't do any of this without my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. For more of my story you can click here.
All recipes are gluten-free and dairy-free with a lot of soy-free, grain-free, sugar-free options.