God truly blessed us when He created the bond of best friends. Special people who come into your life that you love like family, that in return love you as such. I have been blessed with many special people in my life, from countries all over the world who I've been able to call friend, who have taught me things about myself, who I've been able to touch, but there are also certain people who just stick. Who just get you, who make life lighter, better, funnier, easier, lovelier. I have two of those people in my life outside my immediate family. My Miss Jessica and my Paul.
Jessica and I met 15 years ago. Woh. That's crazy to type out. Where does time GO?! We bonded over a Britney Spears concert (don't judge, I was a teeny bopper and aspiring popstar. So, you know.) And we have been best friends ever since. Ups, downs. Relationships, oceans between us, and now with her living in Oregon and me in AZ, I miss her like crazy every day. But then...
Lucky me, she came to visit Mr. Charming and I last week and we found a restaurant I could actually eat at! True Foods, in Scottsdale Arizona has PURE, WHOLE... well, TRUE food. The waiter even steamed FRESH ALMOND MILK for me, instead of coffee. :D Jessica questioned where else I could ask for that and not be seen as crazy? Why No where! Which is why this is officially my new fave place to take company, and Mr. Charming on date night! I also ordered sweet potato hash with onions, organic eggs and red pepper turkey sausage. Mmmm.
My other bestie celebrates his BIRTHDAY tomorrow and I so wish I could be there to toast him on his special day! Wishing this year brings him more success, love and happiness than he could ever wish for. I met Paul in L.A. when I was 21. He auditioned to be my back-up dancer (and booked, because he's, um, super fabulous and uber talented) but it's his charisma and amazingly kind heart that make you fall in love with him. I am so blessed to have him in my life and can't wait until I can visit him in New York City where he is making his dreams come true dancing his heart out. Miss you Paul! Living out my dreams singing and red carpets are just not the same without you.
More & more, as I grow, I realize its the LOVE in people, of your relationships that can really make your life happy or bland. I am blessed to have people that make life electrically exciting and wonderous. Make sure you don't get so caught up in life that you miss moments with those that matter most.
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!
Tonight we lit our first fire of the season. My friends think I'm crazy, that because I'm living in Arizona I shouldn't be using my heater, or having a fire. It's still hitting high seventies or eighties in the day but at night I get chilly. I naturally get cold. Luckily, Mr. Charming is as random as I am and likes to do all things Christmas super-early too. So, it works. With the tree lit and the log blazing I wanted to make us a cozy dinner that was different. Something we hadn't done before and I didn't feel like eating meat tonight. I am trying to be good, and cut out grain but since I consumed some rice at work today I thought we could make a fried rice and get through some of what we have before I try to, one day, kiss it farewell.
I've been on a squash kick lately so I knew I wanted to put that in there, we cut it in cubes and tossed it in the wok with some olive oil until it was soft and browned and yummy. And we have gorgeous organic bell peppers from Trader Joes, so Mr. Charming threw those in the wok too. I had originally thought of doing a grain-less "rice" dish tonight made with cauliflower, but we are out of cauliflower, and its cold out, and the fire was so cozy, so. Rice it is. But for some gut-healing goodness we used lots of garlic.
I'm on an unfamiliar writing break at the moment. All stories have been turned in by my winter deadlines and though I welcome a nice break for some fall season enjoyment, I feel kind of at a loss and want to book another job or dive back into obtaining my creative writing certificate. It's weird not writing for a few days, since I have done so every day of 2013 thus far.
I'm getting really excited for Thanksgiving. It's just over a week away and my sister is hosting again. This year we are going over super early on Thanksgiving morning to help her and my dad cook. I adore family time and am counting down the days. I'm even thinking about baking some paleo muffins as a breakfast treat to have with tea or some decaf coffee on Thanksgiving morning while we cook up gluten-free goodness in the kitchen.
The Santa Clause is playing so I will bid you all adieu for the evening. Click here to get the yummy recipe of our butternut squash fried rice. It was seriously amazing and perfect for enjoying by a cozy fire and Christmas movie, no matter how early in the season.
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!
Mr. Charming & I escaped for a little staycation and I share some of the DELICIOUS healthy recipes we cooked up as well as share an adventure of a NEW excursion I've always wanted to try. Read about it, and get access to an amazing pasta recipe, here.
One of the ways that I intentionally work on our marriage is by "dating" my husband. By taking time to set aside "date nights" when we could easily slump down on the couch with dinner and a tv show, we show each other that we are still a major priority to each other. That fun and excitement is still part of who we are. It was when we first got together and its what keeps thing fun and interesting now, 7 years later, and 2 years into our marriage. Now, don't get me wrong, I adore nights when we cuddle up and just talk or watch endless marathon hours of Once Upon A Time or Big Bang Theory... but this was our two year anniversary, so it called for something extra special. I planned a surprise Get Away for Mr. Charming, and when he arrived home, waiting for him was a suitcase, GPS coordinates and a note.
While he happily packing and heading to the resort, I prepared a healthy lunch for us. I whipped up some deviled eggs, a salad, cut up apples and grapes, and almonds... all served with dairy free dark chocolate. It was the perfect little combination for an in-room picnic. The room was gorgeous and it was too hot outside when he arrived for a picnic outside! He also stopped on the way and surprised me with roses. *swoon* I think I'll keep him.
It was a weekend of romance, delicious food, (get the yummy pasta recipe pictured below here) and adventure! I wanted us to try something new together and so I set us up to go horseback riding at a local ranch and it was SO much fun! We also took the opportunity to hike a beautiful trail, swim and hit the gym.
All in all, a beautifully perfect way to celebrate my best friend, my husband.
It's officially September, which means Back to School! When you throw school schedules in with work schedules, time is stretched to the max and students and families are shuffling to get out the door in the mornings - which tends to mean poor choices in meals, excercise and general care for your overall well being. With the Top 10 Quick Breakfast post being such a hit, I thought I would compose two more lists.
10 Easy Lunches For The College Student - Mr. Charming works a full time job and goes to school at night, so I like to make sure we have healthful choices at home that he can take with him to keep him full & focused throughout his day. We've made a personal choice to never grab fast food or conveinece item that has ingredients that are foreign to us, so it's important, when making this choice to have something on you so you don't go hungry. Click here to see the list.
The second list is for the Granola Mommies out there.
10 Easy Lunches for the Littles - With school comes the added worry of your childs nutrition. Especially for children with food allergies or sensitivies, its crucial that you pack your childs lunch so you know exactly what they are eating. Click here to see the list.
My day started off like this. And all credit must go to Trader Joes for their new gluten & dairy free pancakes. I make 95% of my food fresh, cooking it myself, but sometimes on busy work mornings such as today a frozen pancake with minimal ingredients was a-ok to me. I sprinkled them with fresh, organic blueberries and I got organic, all natural chicken and maple sausage to go along with. Mmmm!
I must say I felt very balanced & accomplished today. I give all the praise to my heavenly father for that one because lately I've felt a little overwhelmed trying to keep up with two jobs, the house and relationships. Today I managed to:
I usually don't toot my own horn, but since I've wanted to spend a lot of this month in bed (partly due to my current ear infection and earlier this month due to hormonal and food issues) I have to give praise and thanks for super productive days. Especially since I'm currently trying to be more intentional on being a Proverbs 31 wifey and woman to those around me. Energy definitely comes in handy for that! So.. on to those new recipes! I posted a ton of new recipes this weekend with even more to come. The latest additions are all gluten & dairy-free with additional notations made on each recipe. If you have any dietary restriction recipe requests, let me know! Without further adieu.. bon appetite!
So, my good friend Karly (and mother of our adorable Godson, Elijah, seriously how cute is this kid??) requested that I come up with a list of quick breakfast ideas for a working mom on the go who has a toddler.
I thought about the mornings that even I, without any kids, have to throw a quick breakfast together to get out the door for work on time and I thought I could help out those who face this same predicament every morning. Or at least, most mornings. Below are the top 10 healthy, grab-and-go breakfasts I mix up in my week. Enjoy! P.S. I love your suggestions! Keep them coming.
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.
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.