best friends & true food
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.
a little piece of disney
As my darling beautifully & successfully wrapped another semester at school on his journey to become Dr. Charming, I wanted to do something special for him on his last night after finals. With Christmas and his birthday this month and our budget streeeeeetttttccchhhheeedddd to its max, a big lavish gift was out (even though he deserves it all, acing Anatomy Physiology isn't easy folks...) I decided to cook him a delicious meal!
He is AMAZING when it comes to supporting my new lifestyle. I cook up paleo, grain free, gluten free, dairy free concoctions daily for breakfast and dinner when we are able to eat together. And he eats it, cooks it for me and with me, and seems to enjoy it! But tonight was just about him so I wanted to make him a favorite.
Back when I noticed I was starting to get pretty sick, we were in Disney for our honeymoon. (I spent the whole weekend in bed sick with a fever, flu and my body was so inflamed I could barely eat food, so a redo is on the list of to-do's.) We went to eat at the restaurant outside of Pirates of the Caribbean and Mr. Charming ordered his favorite dish in all of the lands, the Monte Cristo sandwich.
Note: This is NOT gluten free, NOT dairy free, and NOT sugar free. This is probably the only time you will see this on my blog, and I have NOT included the recipe, because all of my recipes are guaranteed to be gluten and dairy free, but like I said, it wasn't about me tonight. So, I put the sandwhich in my memory bank and knew that one day I would make this for my new husband. Well, after a journey of everything I eliminated these past two years we've been married, it never crossed my mind to cook something like this in my "safe" kitchen, until now.
I went to the store and picked up things I hadn't bought in years. Seriously, shopping for cheese felt so foreign to me. I made sure to get the highest quality ingredients, since I'm not crazy about my family consuming these things either, but I knew it would mean so much if I could bring a part of Disney into our home, and voila! My homemade Monte Cristo just for my own fairy tale prince come true!
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 10-18
I'm seriously in love with this photo challenge. We still have over a week and a half to go if you'd like to join in. Get the list below and upload your photos to Instagram using the hashtag #letsbegrateful for our project. I'm not feeling to hot the past couple of days. Prayers for health to get through work tonight would be greatly appreciated! Off to try yoga to help open things up and just downed a tea with 4,000 IU's of Vitamin D. Made a Dr's appointment for Monday, so looking forward to a relaxing weekend of more Christmas decorating and online shopping from the comfort of my cozy living room in front of the fire.
Day 10: NATURE - Today I have spent most of the day in bed. Fighting an infection, but ventured out to get dinner from the market and went with my honey to Lowes where we walked through the garden section together. I am grateful for a husband who is so selfless and kind that he will lay in bed with me by my side until 3 pm watching movies to make sure I'm ok on a day when we had so much planned that we didn't get to. There are no words for this mans heart.
Day 11: OLD. This is the first photo we took together. It was on our first date to Bahama Breeze for dinner with my sister and her date. Thankful for God bringing this man into my life, and for it leading us to the most beautiful and fulfilling marriage i couldn't have even dreamt up.
Day 12: HANDS. Thankful to have a handful of those that will always hold my hand when i need them, and I will do the same.
Day 13: WRITTEN WORD. There have never been truer, greater words written than the word of God. So thankful to be free, to live my faith and to learn about my Father through His words
Day 14: MOVEMENT. So thankful to be a part of an amazing music movement. Blessed to be signed to one of the best record labels in the world.. Missing the studio more than words can express...
Day 15: TECHNOLOGY. So blessed to have love, family, friends, health. Technology allows us to amplify the music in our lives, to watch movies that move us, and connect to people around the world. It's a nice "extra" that we take for granted.
Day 16: ANIMALS. I am so thankful for this little guy in our life. He keeps me safe when my husbands away, he gives the best doggy cuddles and kisses and gets so excited when I come home. #letsbegrateful for our furry family members who are capable of so much love.
Day 17: MEMORIES. On this night, almost three years ago I put on an amazing concert with my label and team in L.A. After coming back to my hotel room after the show I got a phone call at 2am. It was my sister telling me she was pregnant with my niece. My life became fuller of happiness and love that day. #letsbegrateful for all the love, joy and family in our lives.
Day 18: NEW. So I was stumped on this one, then my friend gave me an early Christmas present that was new! My love for Wizard of Oz is known by my besties. Thankful for thoughtful gestures by special people in my life
butternut squash fried rice
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.
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.
a school night
Mr. Charming spends many weeknights going to school right now. I am so inspired by this man and all he is accomplishing and has yet to accomplish. He works so hard for our family all day and at night he goes to school as he works towards his ultimate goal of getting into dental school. While I work away at my dream as a writer/singer/nutritionist, I watch, awe-inspired by a man who dreams of helping others. He is smart, gentle, driven and capable and I fall in love with him constantly, over and over again.
So, on this particular night, feeling positive and energized, I wanted to do something extra special for dinner. Only, at 4pm and on a writing deadline, I had zero ideas. After finishing my piece on exuberantly priced handbags for a new fashion blog (& pinning way to many expensive shoes in the process) I decided to head to the market, hoping for inspiration.
The local gourmet market is down the street from our house and I always love to go there and peruse the aisles of beautiful floral arrangements, charming decor and decadent treats. As I grabbed some butterflied pork chops from the very kind butcher and headed to produce, I was inspired by some gorgeous carrots to make a delicious side dish to accompany my pork chops. Arn't they pretty?
So, after I had made my way through the store, taking time to peruse the candied nuts (which are full of processed sugar, but it inspired me to make crockpot cinnamon nuts of my own for Christmas!) and Christmas decor (never too early, I say), I decided to not go home, and take myself on a mini-date. The weather right now is AMAZING and I visited some charming little boutiques. I even treated myself to a sweet little piece of jewelry.
Who can resist little bows? Or rose gold?
Now... onto our delicious dinner. The pork chops were simple. I baked them for an hour on 350 with Earth Balance Dairy-free, soy-free butter, garlic and sea salt. The carrots were the stars of the dinner. I made Vanilla-Honey Carrots, they were SUPER easy and SO delicious. We both wished I would have made more.
The recipe to these sweet & savory little vegetable gems can be found here.
It makes my heart beam when I can do something simple for someone I love and see that it brings them happiness. These are lifes sweetest moments.
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!
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.