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.
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.
Looking for healthy alternatives for the littles this Halloween? Click here to get a list of ten healthy options for this Halloween that are healthier, happier choices than sugary candy.
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.
So, since Mr. Charming and I had a day off together I decided to go big and whip up the amazing Paleo biscuits and gravy that you can find here. We got to sleep in a bit and I wanted to make us something yummy that would keep us full for more project: redecorate/renovate. (Mr. Charming is building a home theatre, while I am refinishing chairs for the kitchen) and as I was preparing them I realized we hadn't made this since our cabin trip last November! Insanity. Below are the ingredients I used in the biscuits and gravy. Have I mentioned how much I ADORE using almond meal to bake with?! I love the mealy, hearty consistency it gives my baked goods.
While I was waiting for these glorious little biscuits to bake so I could start the gravy...
... I decided to do some work on Nosh & Nurture and have a little snack. I didn't want to spoil my appetite but we were taking a slow, relaxing Sunday morning and I woke up hungry so I treated myself to a little coconut milk yogurt and organic strawberries. MMMM.
once the biscuits were done I started the gravy. It will always be a little thinner than one desires when cooking, so take it off the heat and let it sit for ten minutes to thicken. I usually will pop my biscuits back in the oven on warm for this. It is truly a delicious, hearty Sunday brunch. Perfect for rainy weather such as this. I also like to add a little jam to one of my biscuits. Trader Joe's has a jam that has NO added sugar! Just fruit juices and fruit! Hope you all have a beautiful Sunday that refreshes you!
Living in America we are told that it's normal to eat copious amounts of red meat. Fried potatoes. Drink our Venti and larger coffees. To eat on plates the size of frying pans. This is simply NOT right. It's NOT healthy and I hope that over time more people can see that in fact it's the cause of so many diseases and the obesity problem, or should I say epidemic, in our country.
I walk into a general grocery store, or peruse the menus at local eateries and I just simply shake my head. I support local markets with organic, GOOD food. I support restaurants who take it upon themselves to be educated and watch out for our health. Sadly, there are VERY few eateries that value health over the dollar. Which is why I simply try to eat at home AS MUCH as possible.
Now that's off my chest, I wanted to share that Mr. Charming and I sat down the other night, popped in a flick and enjoyed a delicious burger, fries and shake date night. "But Mandi, you just ranted about how bad that was!". And, now I was guilty of having this craving. I've been eating GF/DF for about a year now and I will tell you because of the way most of us grew up sometimes a girl just craves a burger.
But without giving into something that could be harmful to my health, or waistline as I count down to Hawaii/bikini season, I made a variation at home so I could know exactly what was on my plate.
We don't eat red meat often because I know a lot of what has been said about red meat and digestive health, however, with how much food I had to cut from my diet I do include it in my diet. I buy grass-fed, antibiotic free beef when I do. I also usually make my patties from natural turkey meat. I also have cut potatoes from my diet due to starch, as it feeds candida, but like I said, once in a while a girl needs to give in, if even just a little.
So during this food change, I will admit breakfast has been the hardest for me to have real creativity. It's easiest when I just stick to my InflammaCORE protein shake and not have to think about it too much. However, now with regaining energy and wanting more fuel to work-out and get through my workday I needed to find more things to eat since I can't have eggs everyday. This morning I took time before heading to the spa (for work, not play) to chop up some organic apples and pears and top with a gluten free granola and some plain coconut milk yogurt. It was good and surprisingly kept me really full and energized until the afternoon.
I know. I was bad. I always take lunch, and eat around 11:30.. however I was super-busy with new staff today so I didn't get to eat until three :( Boo!
I will posting a lot of my recipes here soon. I would love to hear some of your favorite breakfast recipes as well! The ones I love most are:
- Hard boiled eggs with sea salt and dill
- Gluten free granola & yogurt. (& now organic fruit!)
- Apple baked GF oatmeal
- Turkey bacon and avocado for healthy fats!!
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.