Spicy Tri Tip Tacos

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This was my first tri tip experience. Our typical meaty go to is marinated and grilled flank steak, but to find it grass fed and somewhat local is a task. They are priced about the same, 2 lbs of grass fed for about $24.00, which served along other side dishes will feed about 3-4 people. I loved the cooking method as it was out of the ordinary for me and the taste was fabulous! The tender meat combined with the spicy and bold flavors of the rub was amazing. I’ll be stocking up on tri tip in the future and experimenting with different dry rubs and serving ideas.

For this dry rub I used a generous amount of sea salt, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cilantro, hot pepper flakes, and freshly ground pepper.

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I had to Google how to prepare a tri tip. Ha! The method made me a little nervous because I didn’t want to end up with a tough, grainy, chunk of meat. Tri tips are thick and grass fed meat isn’t very fatty and doesn’t provide a lot of marbling for tenderness. Thankfully, it all went well and was so fabulous I’ve been thinking we may need another one this week.

It’s important to pay attention to the natural direction of the grain prior to coating with the rub and cooking. My hand is pointed in the natural direction of the grain.

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The secret to enjoying certain types of meats that would otherwise be tough, is not only in the preparation but also in how long it rests after it’s been cooked and especially the angle at which it’s cut.

After it’s cooked, you’ll cut it in thin slices against (across) the grain.

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Once you’ve trimmed off any large pieces of silver skin, place the meat into a dish prior to coating with the rub.

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Then begin sprinkling and patting the rub all over the meat, making sure every nook and cranny is nicely coated. Cover, and place in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours or it can also be prepared a day ahead of cooking.

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Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature (or close) for about 30-45 minutes. Set the oven to 450 degrees (I used convection). Heat a dry (don’t add oil) ovenproof pan to medium high/high and sear the meat on both sides until almost blackened. You’ll need a well working stove top fan for this…mine is pitiful so I had to open all the doors and windows for a cross breeze. You can also do this entire cooking process on a grill as long as your grill heats very, very, well and consistent. I started mine off on our grill and was worried it was taking too long and would overcook so moved to the kitchen method instead.

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Once it’s seared really well on both sides, put it in the oven for 8-10 minutes. I used convection which cooks faster. 8 minutes with convection will get you medium rare, 10 will get you medium. Of course, the ends are thinner and smaller so they will likely be closer to medium regardless of time. If you’re not using convection, cook for 10 minutes and test with a meat thermometer. For medium rare about 125-130, medium/medium well 135-140. But keep in mind that it will continue cooking for the first few minutes it’s resting, so you  may want to take it out a touch sooner than what the thermometer is telling you to do.

Remove from the oven and let rest uncovered for 15-20 minutes.

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While the tri tip was cooking and resting, I sauteed some peppers, onions, and garlic for the tacos. When that was done I added black beans and sauteed until the beans were heated through.

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Super easy meal from beginning to end. And quick, which you don’t normally experience with a thicker cut of meat. Once the meat has rested, remember to slice thinly against the grain for tenderness.

You can top the tacos with anything you like. Cheese, salsa, whatever sauces you think might go well. I had planned to make a creamy cilantro sauce but then discovered I didn’t have cilantro available like I thought. Next time! Even without a sauce, they were fabulous.

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Spicy Tri Tip Tacos

*I’ll give a run down of ingredients. The cooking methods are above with the photos.

1 Tri Tip Roast, they are typically around 2lbs

(The amount of seasoning will vary by your taste and the amount of heat you want.)

These are approximates as I didn’t measure…

2 1/2 teaspoons of Sea Salt

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Garlic Powder

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Chili Powder

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Cumin

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Oregano

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Cilantro

1 teaspoon of Hot Red Pepper Flakes

Several Grinds of Fresh Peppercorns

2 Bell Peppers

1 Large Red Onion

Chopped Garlic (I used two large cloves)

About 1 teaspoon of Oregano

About 1 teaspoon of Chili Powder

1 Can of Black Beans, rinsed and drained

Avocado Oil for sauteing vegetables

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Grain Free Blueberry Breakfast Cake

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I’ve been very mindful of my diet the last couple of weeks. I can almost hear the collective eye roll from people who can eat “anything”. Such is life. I can’t eat anything I want, although I’d certainly like to, so therefore I have to be really aware of what I feed my body. I am always gluten and dairy free. But even with abstaining from gluten and dairy, there are plenty of inflammatory foods that if eaten on a regular basis, can cause some significant issues for me. We’ve talked about the effects of the inflammation bucket in the past, and over the last few weeks, mine has been spilling over.

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I’ve been in what I would consider a “medium” Lyme flare for 6 weeks. It took me a couple weeks to even recognize what was going on because I had been feeling so good for several months prior to the flare. It’s as if I had almost forgotten I even had Lyme if you can believe it! The flare is a reminder that even when we’re feeling really good, we can’t forget that our bodies don’t work like the average Joe’s body. We have to stay on top of things even if what we’d really like to do is  forget we’re in a battle with a very smart and nasty and potentially deadly, bacterial infection.

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One major component of a Lyme flare is inflammation. I swear inflammation is the root of all evil when it comes to illness. Once you get past the point of mild inflammation, things just get uglier from there. It can take several weeks to several months to get it back under control. So as soon as it finally dawned on me what the heck was going on, I went into inflammation battling mode.When we can put out the flame, our immune system can fight its battle properly.

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The first thing I always do when I recognize a flare is examine my diet and lifestyle and start asking myself a lot of questions. Have I been too loosey goosey? Inflammatory foods aren’t just problematic for the obvious reasons, they also cause gut issues which further imbalances the immune system. Am I detoxing enough? Detox is something people with Lyme have to keep up with on a regular basis. Our livers need help getting rid of toxins. Are my intestines eliminating on a regular basis? (In other words, we need to be pooping a lot, and often!) Am I eating enough vegetables that feed the good bacteria in my gut (pre biotics)? Do I need to consider switching up my supplements and probiotics? Have I been too generous with gluten free grains, sugar, and ignoring my stress level? Have I been exercising to much or too little? Have I changed something that may be causing issues?

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Self care has to stay consistent in order to keep the Lyme bacteria in remission. Consistency isn’t always easy. Sometimes flares are completely out of our control, but other times, it can be due to sticking our heads in the sand and not sticking to a good health plan. Stress is the number one issue for me when it comes to my immune system. The second issue is germy, sick people whose germs wiggle under the radar. And equal to pesky germs, is the impact that my diet choices have on  my body. I have to be careful because any imbalance in my immune system and it flies off on a negative health tangent. Making sure my self care is at top notch (which it wasn’t), helps me deal with attacks on my immune system.

I have also had to remind myself that even when I’m feeling great, gluten free grains and other inflammatory foods can be a big problem if I add them to my daily diet. Because I was feeling so well, I was being a little careless with the inflammatory foods. My body can process them and handle the inflammation if I indulge every now and then, but not on a regular basis.

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So, the last two weeks while I’ve been practicing intuitive eating (see my last post), I’ve also been experimenting with different types of foods to see how my body reacts. I eat two or three meals a day with anti inflammatory, very clean foods, and then every couple of days I’ve been trying one item with gluten free grains, or certain potatoes, or other inflammatory foods. It’s been interesting to see my body’s response. Very telling.

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I’m getting reacquainted with my body in different ways and am getting the inflammation under control. Sometimes it takes a painful and worrisome setback for us to be mindful and remember that self care and consistency need to be the foundation of healthy living. It’s back to basics and grain free foods with a major focus on anti inflammatory foods and detox.  I’ll save the little indulgences for special occasions.

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Going “Back To Basics” certainly doesn’t have to be boring though! This breakfast cake is grain free and dairy free. It can also be made without refined sugar by using coconut sugar in the frosting.

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Grain Free Blueberry Breakfast Cake

*Makes 16 servings

3/4 Cups of Coconut Flour

1/2 Cup of Sweet Potato Flour

1/4 Cup of Arrowroot

2 teaspoons of Double Acting Baking Powder

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

3 Tablespoons of Coconut Sugar

6 Tablespoons of Dairy Free, Soy Free Butter

3 Eggs

1 Cup of 100% Full Fat Coconut Milk

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon of Pure Almond Extract

1 1/2 Cups of Frozen (or fresh) Blueberries

For the frosting I just did a basic powdered sugar frosting. Powdered sugar, almond extract, melted dairy free butter, a little water to thin.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×9 inch square pan with parchment and coat with non stick spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Cut in the 6 Tablespoons of butter. Add the eggs, coconut milk, vanilla and almond extracts, and whisk to combine. Fold in the blueberries.

Spread the batter into the pan and bake (I use convection) for 35 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan by grabbing the edges of the parchment liner and place on a cooling rack. Cool completely and frost.

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Grain Free Pumpkin Pecan Coffee Cake

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I know, I know. It’s a little early for all things pumpkin. For most people it’s like cilantro, they either hate all the Fall flavored stuff or love it. I’m obviously in the last category. Even though our days are still in the 80’s and 90’s, our mornings are much cooler now and typically in the low 50’s. Perfect for coffee cake and a nice cup of tea or coffee. I’m so tired…of eggs, or smoothies, or dinner leftovers for breakfast. In fact, a few times over the last couple weeks I’ve settled with just a miserable little apple until lunch because I was feeling so uninspired about my breakfast plan. I’ve changed my mind set though, and now I’m focusing on switching it up a bit and adding a little more excitement.

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I’m taking the coolest three week class called, “Love Your Body” through a therapist I know. She’s a Body Image Recovery Coach, and the Founder of MindSexBody Decide To Be Healthy. She studied Executive And Professional Coaching at the University of Texas at Dallas, and is currently studying Human Sexuality at Widener University…and she is full of all kinds of information pertaining to the history of body shape, objectification, and the space where fact and fiction collide where society has completely lost their minds about what healthy looks like. I have learned so much!

One of the tools we’re working with this week is intuitive eating and exercise. Intuitive eating is truly thinking about what your body needs for energy, nutrients, and satisfaction, rather than suffering through meals that are not fulfilling your personal needs. When we’re just going through the motions (or emotions) with our meals, we end up eating fast, bored to death, not being mindful, and end up unsatisfied. That leads to unhealthy food choices and over stuffing because we keep looking for that “something” we’re craving but we aren’t truly paying proper attention to it. It’s healthier to stop and really think about what your body needs at that time. Does it need healthy fats, crunchy, sweet, savory, protein, fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates?  When choosing to be more mindful about what we really need and what we’re eating to fulfill those needs, we naturally transform to the size and shape our body is comfortable and happy with. The same goes for intuitive exercise.

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Examining what type of exercise is the best fit for you personally that is fun, rewarding, and makes you look forward to doing it, makes all the difference. Life is too short to be doing squats if you hate them with a passion. Look for exercises that fit where you are in life. Can you slip in a few walks here and there? Maybe a hike once a week? Or maybe you’re a runner, or a CrossFit enthusiast or a swimmer. For me at this stage in my life and with my individual health concerns, I have found that Pilates and an old Jane Fonda Fat Burners workout works well for me a couple times a week. I also do some serious stretching every morning, sometimes yoga, and we also get some exercise by walking with the dogs. When Fall hits and the weather cools down, I’ll begin hiking again as well. Not because I feel like I HAVE to but because I love it and my body and mind feel better with it, than without.  Whatever it is, find what you love, and you’ll be much more apt to look forward to adding healthy, stress reducing, exercise into your weekly routine.

So maybe for the rest of this week you’d like to join me in focusing on intuitive eating and exercise? If you do, shoot me a note and let me know your thoughts. Lets start focusing on simply being the healthiest body (individually!!) we can be, rather than what the media and the rest of society has deemed to be the standard. Each of us has our own unique genetic make up that makes us who we are. We can treat it properly by focusing on making it the healthiest possible body, by ignoring outside negative voices (and our own negative commentary about ourselves) and by being more mindful of the package we’ve been given to take care of.

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Pumpkin Pecan Coffee Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 12 Servings.

1/4 Cup of Arrowroot

1/2 Cup of Sweet Potato Flour

3/4 Cup of Coconut Flour, sifted

2 teaspoons of Double Acting Baking Powder

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 teaspoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice

3 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter, cold

3 Eggs

1 Cup of Canned Pumpkin

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

1/4 Cup of Pure Maple Syrup

For the Crumb Topping:

1/4 Cup of Coconut Flour, unsifted

2 Tablespoons of Sweet Potato Flour

1 Tablespoon of Arrowroot

4 Tablespoons of Coconut Sugar

1 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon

6 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter, cold

1/4 Cup of Chopped Pecans

Measure the 3/4 cup coconut flour, 1/2 cup sweet potato flour, 1/4 cup arrowroot, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, and pumpkin pie spice into a large bowl. Cut in the 3 Tablespoons of cold butter. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and maple syrup and whisk to combine.

Spray an 9×9 inch baking dish with non stick spray and spread the batter. Set aside.

For the crumb topping: Measure the 1/4 Cup coconut flour, 2 Tablespoons of sweet potato flour, 1 Tablespoon of arowroot, coconut sugar, cinnamon, sea salt, and pecans into a medium bowl. Cut in the 6 Tablespoons of cold butter and sprinkle over the top of the batter.

Bake for 27 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature. I like mine warm with a little pat of dairy free butter!

 

Gluten Free Banana Bread

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2016-07-14 08.21.20The majority of the time, I’m grain free. But every now and then, I venture out and eat gluten free grains. You can make grain free banana bread too, and I’m sure somewhere out there someone has a recipe that you’ll love…but I have yet to find or create a grain free recipe that I love.

I made this banana bread with Mama’s Coconut Blend Flour and it was absolutely delicious. The flour is a blend of coconut, tapioca, potato starch, and rice flours. It had perfect texture, it was beautifully moist, held together well, and I was able to bake it in a normal bread pan rather than my tiny bread pan made for grain free breads.

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When you bake with gluten free grains, things come out fluffy and cushy and light. Most grain free baked items are a heavier and more temperamental. I’m not used to being able to make bread in a normal sized bread pan and have it rise over the top. That was a treat in itself!

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Of course, actually eating the banana bread warm with lots of dairy free butter was the real treat.

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Gluten Free Banana Bread

2 Cups of Mama’s Coconut Blencond Flour

1 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1 teaspoon of Double Acting Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 teaspoon of Ground cinnamon

4 eggs

3 Very Ripe Large Bananas

3/4 Cup of Coconut Sugar

1/3 Cup of Avocado Oil

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×5 in loaf pan generously with coconut oil and set aside.

Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl whisk all of the wet ingredients and the sugar together until fully incorporated. Add the dry mix to the wet mix and fold gently, just until combined and dry ingredients are fully incorporated.

Bake for 40 minutes. (I use convection)

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Life Is Too Short Not To Eat Onion Rings

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It turns out that I’m not the only one that needs an onion ring every now and then. For those of us who can’t eat gluten and dairy, craving breaded fried foods can pose a problem. As you already know, that’s my goal here on this blog. Proving to people that an allergen free life doesn’t have to be boring and restrictive. While it may be a problem finding these types of foods when you’re eating out, it’s not a problem if you’re willing to make them at home.

Sometimes, it’s just necessary to eat comfort food and enjoy an onion ring…or 10. It’s as simple as that. Just like every now and then, I need a piece of cake for breakfast…but that’s a story for another time.

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I hadn’t planned on posting this so I don’t have any prep or process photos and the photos I do have are lacking excitement…or so I thought. I posted a couple pictures of last night’s dinner on my Gluten Free Zen Facebook page and on Instagram and received a few messages asking for the recipe. It’s a pretty simple recipe. There’s a few steps involved, but once you get that down, making them at home is worth every. single. bite.

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Gluten Free Dairy Free Onion Rings

*You’ll need a dutch oven or deep fryer and a deep fry/candy thermometer, 2 baking sheets lined with parchment or tin foil if you don’t want an oily mess, and 2 cooling racks that will fit on top of the baking sheets. You will also need a large slotted spoon or tongs.

50.7 ounces of Avocado Oil (About 1 1/2 bottles of Chosen Foods 100% Pure Avocado Oil, I buy mine at Costco)

5 Medium to Large Sweet Onions (Peeled and sliced save middles for something else)

3 plus 1 Cups of All Purpose Gluten Free Flour (I used Mama’s All Purpose Almond Flour Blend)

3 Tablespoons of Arrowroot

3 teaspoons of Garlic Powder

1  Tablespoon of Sea Salt plus more for sprinkling

1 1/2 teaspoons of Cayenne Pepper

3 teaspoons of Bragg’s Seasoning

2 teaspoons of Coconut Sugar

1 1/2 Cups of Gluten Free Beer (I used Green’s Amber Ale the dark ale would work well too)

1 Cup of Perrier (or any sparkling mineral water)

1 Large Egg

Pour the oil into the dutch oven, insert the thermometer, turn the burner on medium or slightly higher,  and heat to between 325-350 degrees. This will take some time.

(It’s easiest if you set up an ingredients “station” right next to the stove top.)

While the oil is heating measure the flour, arrowroot, garlic, sea salt, cayenne, Bragg’s, and sugar into a large bowl or baking dish. Whisk to combine. Reserve 1 cup of the flour mixture in a bowl and set aside. Dredge all of the onion slices in the larger amount of flour mixture and set aside on a paper towel or plate.

In a medium bowl combine the beer, sparkling water, and egg. Pour into the larger mixture of flour and whisk to combine.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and place the prepared baking sheets in the oven.

Once the oil reaches temperature:

Remove the thermometer. Take an onion and dip in the liquid flour mix, then dredge quickly in the smaller dry reserved flour mix, dip quickly one more time into the liquid mix and then put into the oil. Repeat with 6-7 slices at a time but don’t overcrowd. I let the oil heat up a bit more between each wave of onions. The onion rings won’t brown as much as traditional onion rings. Allow to cook for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, depending on how thick the onion slices are. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs onto the racks and season with more sea salt. Try a piece (or two) from the first batch and see if they’re crispy to your liking, then you can adjust the cooking time from there. Keep warm in the oven. Serve as soon as all the onions are done.

Dipping Sauce:

Olive oil mayo, ketchup, and sriracha. I use about 1/2 C of mayo, 1/4 C of ketchup, and a generous squeeze of sriracha. Amount will depend on how seasoned you like yours and how many people you’re feeding.

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An Unforgettable Experience & Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

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A few weeks ago I went on the most amazing learning adventure! I belong to a kind of support group, a “tribe” of people who want to make healthy changes in their lives and help others do the same. The group was created by a licensed marriage and family therapist, but he is not your typical therapist and likes to approach things in new and innovative ways. About twenty of us did a 30 day video challenge. Others in the group who didn’t do the video challenge were also able to participate by watching, sharing their own experiences in relation to ours, and giving feedback. Therapists and life coaches were also involved and some of them participated in the video portion as well.

We were asked to do a 3-5 minute daily video and simply come to the table being completely authentic and genuine with whatever was going on that day or in our lives at that time. Happy, sad, mad, crying, excited, bored, sleepy, whatever was going on, the goal was to be completely authentic about it. Not as easy as it sounds. But…

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It. Was. Amazing. Very scary at first. Unsettling. Emotional. Cathartic. Life altering. Empathy, sympathy, and compassion inducing. Ground breaking. Healing. Unbelievably rewarding. Eye opening. People were raw and funny and loving and depressed and happy and in incredible pain and lonely and hurting and best of all, real.

It has changed my own life and the way I view life, forever. We all started off a little nervous and guarded. All of us at one point or another had to struggle with, “Why am I putting myself through this?!” It didn’t take long though before we could all see that it was turning into something inspiring and amazing that I don’t think any of us expected. My goal was to get something positive out of it and to learn about myself and others. It was a bird’s eye view of people’s lives and how we all deal with our choices and life circumstances. In order to open myself up to learning and understanding, I had to step out of my comfort zone and allow myself to be raw and vulnerable. Something most people avoid like a swarm of killer bees.

As the challenge warmed up, many of us began to notice patterns in our own lives. Things we thought we might like to focus on. Watching other’s videos and the feedback and support we all gave to each other was monumental to the change we all experienced. It was healthy, thought provoking, challenging in positive ways, it involved tools, love, support, and the utmost of kindness and genuineness. We all had the same goal, to learn to understand what it really means to be truly authentic and genuine with who we are and to place less worry and focus on what other people think.

When we worry too much about what others think of us or fear their reactions when we are genuine, we stifle who we really are, what we really want, and it changes the outcome of situations that we’re in, relationships we have, and most of all, it doesn’t allow us to live life fully. Because everyone in the group shared the common goal of authenticity, there was zero drama or nasty judgement of any kind. In fact, there never is in this group, it’s really quite something. We agreed not to share anyone else’s stories outside of our group. This created what the founder of the group calls, a “safe container”.  It allowed for vulnerability and honesty. It was incredible and I have made life long friendships.

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Here’s just a few of the learning opportunities I came away with:

1. Many of us look to others and how they treat us as a barometer of our own self worth.

2. We worry about our value based on what we can or cannot do to help others.

3. We put others before our own self-care, which depletes us of energy and in the long run causes us to feel resentment.

4. If we aren’t used to self-care, the concept of it can be very uncomfortable, but it is imperative to our own health and the health of our relationships.

5. By not caring for ourselves and setting healthy boundaries, we become a doormat to others and invite narcissistic, overly needy, unhealthy, and manipulative people into our lives.

6. Feelings of guilt and not putting our emotional well-being first, stops us from feeling true joy and fulfillment when we do things for others.

7. Our self-worth is NOT defined by others. I read a quote by someone somewhere once that said, “Worthiness has no prerequisites.”

8. You can say “no” without guilt. It takes a lot of practice.

9. We can take time for ourselves and do things for ourselves on a regular basis without feeling guilty or selfish because in the long run, we are then healthier and ready to help others.

10. We need to realize without proper self-care and a “healthy container”, we are unable to give of ourselves fully, and unable to receive fully.

11. We have the power to form new and healthier habits, and break negative patterns. It can be done in a healthy way with the right tools.

12. We should strive to be aware of our wants and needs, to understand them and stick to firm boundaries for ourselves, and to care for ourselves so we can fully love others.

13. We are of value, just as we are. We all have gifts, talents, and qualities that add to our life and experience with others, but those gifts or the lack thereof, are not the barometer by which people should be loving us or the barometer by which we should be loving ourselves.What the world teaches is the complete opposite of that statement. Ignore it.

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For a lot of us, doing things for others is relatively easy. The difficult part for those of us who are big “feelers” and “givers” is that twist of guilt every time loving ourselves comes into play. Isn’t it selfish? Shouldn’t I always put others first? Isn’t this where the treasure is? In self sacrifice for the greater good? There’s nothing wrong with loving people and taking care of others, but we need to make sure that the cost isn’t so high, that it ends up being an unhealthy type of love and care.

The ins and outs of life tend to get in the way of how we love ourselves and how we love others. Relationships can be confusing and painful. They can start off great and then all the sudden something raises your red flags. How you deal with those red flags, makes all the difference. Our tendency is often to ignore and overlook our feelings on a regular basis. We don’t like to face uncomfortable truths about ourselves or others. Issues grow like weeds and over time if they aren’t dealt with properly, they choke out anything good. Your gut instinct is important. The action you take can make a life changing difference in your happiness.

Issues over the years that aren’t worked out properly, family dynamics and dysfunction, trauma, making unhealthy choices for ourselves, and pairing ourselves in friendships, family relationships, and romantic relationships with people who don’t know how to love or can’t love in a healthy way, cause our own life containers to be cracked. So does not taking the time to care for ourselves and not setting healthy boundaries.

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Life with a cracked container doesn’t work because no matter how much or how often we try to fill our container with peace and joy and people and stuff…it all just leaks right out eventually. So what then? Find perfect people to surround ourselves with? Protect ourselves by not having relationships at all? Always strive to do the “right thing”? Strive to be perfect? Strive to pretend that we are infallible? Pretend we aren’t in pain when we are?

Do we think that is the key to loving others and ourselves? Pretending? Living an inauthentic life? Not being genuine in our feelings, words, and actions? Or maybe the key is being a doormat? If I’m a doormat, surely people will see how loving I am and how much I sacrifice…surely they will love me for that sacrifice. Right?

Wrong.

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We all have cracks in our containers. It’s a fact. The key is to take some time to get to know ourselves enough to want to fix those cracks so that we can love others properly, receive love properly, and embrace life fully. What if we could stop wondering why we are surrounded with dysfunctional people and circumstances, and start figuring out what functional looks like and how we can get more of it? Choosing functional over dysfunctional means we work to be fully aware of our choices and patterns and how significantly they alter and change our overall happiness. We must be willing to ask ourselves all the really tough questions and then do the hard work to map out a plan to break the unhealthy patterns in our lives.

Why have I been complacent? Maybe I’m just now more aware? Sometimes things in life stir this awareness. Is it fear? Is it anger? Am I being lazy in my relationships and sticking my head in the sand? What makes me truly happy? Why am I willing to live with the status quo? What are my healthy life tools? Am I being genuine with myself? Am I being genuine with others? Who is in my “tribe” and are they adding or only taking away? Am I afraid people won’t like or love me if I’m genuine? Am I afraid of disappointing people? What does loving myself look like? What does loving others look like to me and is it a healthy picture?

Is my life balanced properly? Am I relying on others to fix and fill my container? What ARE the cracks in my container and what can I do to repair those cracks and fill my container with  fantastic life experiences, love, and peace, and joy? Why do I think I can give in a healthy way to the people I love if my own container is leaking? Do I have unhealthy relationships/experiences that I am still relying on to fill my container?

Do I have a solid vision of what my healthy, filled, container looks like?

Pretending that we are happy with certain situations, relationships, friendships, and circumstances, when we really aren’t, only creates more cracks. Healing comes with authenticity. With looking at ourselves and our environment clearly. Pretending may feel comfortable initially because inviting change can be unsettling and difficult.

Unfortunately over time, pretending steals our joy.

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Some people cling to their cracked container. Maybe it’s because it’s what they’re used to and they’ve become comfortable, maybe it brings them the attention they crave, maybe it gives them a good excuse not to work on their own life stuff. Sometimes it seems the more damaged their container, the better they like it. The same negative life choices are made over and over again. They cling to it like it’s a trophy. An unhealthy, personal memento of past pains and grievances. I deserve these cracks! People have hurt me! Experiences have hurt me! I OWN these cracks! They make me who I am!

We are not our cracks. Our cracks hold us back. They steal our peace and our happiness. Our cracks are not who we are but are an indication of what needs to change so we can live happily, peacefully, and healthfully. Authentically us. The way we were created to be as unique individuals. Practicing self awareness is achieved by looking at the negative and positive patterns in our own lives. We aren’t stuck with a cracked container. It CAN be fixed and filled with the most amazing tools, experiences, and healthy forms of love.

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A good place to start? Stop trying to fix other people’s cracked containers. We need this tattooed in our subconscious. We can only do the work to fix our own container. Stop focusing on what everyone else is doing wrong. Oh believe me, there’s plenty of people doing wrong…but it won’t do you any good to focus on them. They have their own unhealthy patterns that only they can work out. If  you have someone willing to work with you, then great. If not, don’t let that stop you from working on your cracks!

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Once our cracked containers are able to hold great things without leaking, amazing change begins to happen. Our perspective changes. Do you really know what that feels like? To really and truly have your perspective change? To have the realization that nothing has changed except YOU and in that process your entire outlook on everything changed in a positive way even though…everything and everyone else stayed the same?

It will rock your world.

Just by changing yourself, working on you and I don’t mean “self help” crap, I mean truly getting down to the nitty gritty of patterns (relationships, choices, issues) and directing them in a different way …just by changing the pattern,  you and your environment will change. You may think, “Well, that’s easier said than done!” And you would be right.

Changing our environment whether it be ourselves, the relationships we’re in, our health, our jobs, our social circle…is not an easy task. But it can be done and it is worth the hard work.

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A healthy, fulfilling, life takes awareness and elbow grease and here’s a newsflash:

Nothing. About. Life. Is. Simple. The actual act of changing  your perspective and letting go of the past, your mistakes, other people’s mistakes, and patterns that hold you back… takes work and insight, and a lot of uncomfortable self evaluation.

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When true perspective change hits you, it’s all at once an unsettling, wonderful, peaceful, mind boggling, awareness, that will change how you look at yourself and others forever in the very best of ways.

A changed perspective brings new experiences instead of the old scratched record playing over and over again. A repaired container allows us to fill up with healthy, soul fulfilling, experiences and relationships and enables us to receive and give love and support to ourselves and others, properly.

What does your container look like? How will you begin mending the cracks?

We repeat what we don’t repair.

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The vision behind the “tribe” mentality is that we were not meant to do life alone without other humans. That we can repair and heal with the help of others in a non-traditional “therapeutic” environment. A tribe is a group of people who you can relate to. No one has the exact same story, but a tribe is there to support and everyone learns from each other’s experiences and tools. People are heard without judgement and when there is no judgement, and people are given support, tools, and healthy, logical, feedback, people feel free to share and it deepens connection and builds strength. This is possible because there is the understanding and acceptance that everyone struggles with life’s ups and downs. With a firm focus on being authentic and transparent, it opens up a new and refreshing level of support.

John Kim, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and life coach. He will have a book available in the beginning of 2017. It’s called “Transparency”. I’ve read the short version. It will open your eyes to the relationships around you and the choices you make. Keep your eye out, it will be well worth the read. 

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Homemade Dairy Free Strawberry Ice Cream

*This recipe is best when the cream mixture is made a day ahead and allowed to chill over the night in the refrigerator before churning.

1 Pound of Ripe Organic Strawberries, sliced

1/4 Cup of Organic Coconut Sugar

3 1/2 Cups (27oz) of Full Fat Coconut Milk

8 Organic Egg Yolks 

2/3 Cup Organic Coconut Sugar

Scrapings From 2 Vanilla Beans

Place the sliced strawberries and the 1/4 cup sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat until sugar is melted and simmer for 20-3o minutes until strawberries are soft and sauce has thickened a bit. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large saucepan, add the coconut milk, egg yolks, 2/3 cup of sugar and vanilla bean seeds. Turn the burner on medium-medium low and stir constantly until it begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon. Do not overcook or cook on too high of heat or the eggs will scramble and the ice cream batter will be clumpy and taste “off”. 

Add the strawberry mixture to the cream mixture and pour into a container and refrigerate over night.

Pour into ice cream maker of choice. I use the ice cream attachment for the KitchenAid mixer. Churn according to directions and freeze to set.

 

Grain Free Pizza

2 Comments

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We are pizza fanatics.

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I’m just going to be up front with you and say that my pizza…is my favorite. 

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We try gluten free pizza often when we go out. In Seattle, in Idaho, in our hometown…but honestly, nothing compares so far to what we make at  home. 

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For some reason, restaurants can’t think out of the Udi’s pizza crust box. Every single time we spend $20 or more each on a gluten free pizza meal at a restaurant, I cannot wrap my mind around how a chef or restaurant owner would be OK grabbing an Udi’s pizza crust out of the freezer and serving it to their customers. Blows. My. Mind.

It’s dull. It’s flavorless. It is as exciting as cardboard on your plate. And don’t even get me started on the tasteless pepperoni, and overcooked sausage. Or the fact that none of these restaurants (even high end) understand that there is a readily available (even locally made!) vast assortment of goat and sheep’s milk cheeses other than the same old stand by, feta.

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Every time we eat pizza out, my husband and I spend a large part of our mealtime talking about how we would run a restaurant. From the quality and type of food we would serve, how we would treat our staff, and most importantly, how we would treat our customers. We are serious about customer service and all it entails.

One can dream.

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Last weekend we had high hopes for a little local restaurant we found. Outdoor seating (my favorite), smells of fabulous wood fired pizza…turns out, the server and the person making the pizza, weren’t educated about the ingredients in their gluten free crust, or in the pepperoni or their sausage…or even their sauce! We opted out of the meal. I choked down a really bad glass of Riesling and we moved on.

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This time however, instead of just opting out, I explained to the server why we decided to eat elsewhere. I told her that it’s my opinion that the servers and the people preparing the food should be well versed with what’s actually in their food. As a person with food allergies, I take a chance every time I eat out. I know that’s my responsibility, but a restaurant with knowledgeable servers and staff, makes me a repeat customer. She ended up being very kind about it, apologetic, and said she would speak to the owner about the entire restaurant becoming better educated. I was happy with her response. We tipped her and left and who knows, maybe in a few months we’ll give them another chance.  

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Pizza doesn’t have to be complicated for it to taste amazing. I’m all about easy food! Easy or not though, it has to taste fabulous, be a treat for the eyes, and have high quality ingredients. You can use crust mixes or come up with your own crust recipe, but either way, make it unique with all of things you love. 

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I like to use Chebe Foccacia Bread mix as my base. I add a little of this and a little of that, and before you know it, it makes the perfect pizza crust. It’s soft like “regular” pizza crust with crispy crust edges, has great flavor, and gets rave reviews every single time I make it. 

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Chebe mixes are gluten free, soy free, corn free, rice free, potato free, yeast free, peanut free, tree nut free, egg free, lactose/casein free, iodine free, sugar free, non GMO, and kosher certified.

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Grain Free Pizza

*Makes two 13″ pizzas

2 Boxes of Chebe Focaccia Mix

6 Tablespoons of Non Filtered Organic Olive Oil

4 Large Organic Eggs

1 Cup of Filtered Water

1 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1 Tablespoon of Organic Dried Oregano

1 Tablespoon of Organic Dried Basil

1 Tablespoon of Organic Garlic Powder

1 Can of Organic Tomato Paste

1/4 Cup of Vegan Pesto 

1/2 Cup of Daiya Cheddar Style Cheese, grated

3 Other Types of Cow Free Cheeses About 1 1/2 to 2 Cups of Each (We used two types of goat mozzarella – low moisture and Brazilian Breakfast and a Dutch Style goat cheese that is similar to sharp white cheddar), grated

About 3 Handfuls of Organic Baby Spinach

1 Organic Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced thinly

About 1/3 of a Medium Organic Red Onion, sliced thinly

About 8-10 Large Organic Cremini Mushrooms, sliced

1/2 lb. of Gluten Free, Dairy Free Pepperoni (We have Applegate sliced at the deli)

4 Gluten Free, Dairy Free Hot Italian Sausages (also purchased at our deli)

Avocado Oil

1 Tablespoon of Organic Dried Oregano

Arrowroot or other GF flour for dusting hands, dough, and rolling pin.

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  1. Line two pizza pans with parchment. I lay it on top and cut it in a circle. Nothing fancy.  Set aside.
  2. Empty the hot Italian sausage from their casings and lightly brown in a medium pan with a little avocado oil. Drain on paper towels if necessary.
  3. Empty both Chebe mixes into a medium bowl. Measure in the oil, add the eggs, water, herbs, sea salt, and garlic powder. Stir with a fork until all the ingredients come together. 
  4. With floured hands, knead the dough until ingredients are fully incorporated and the dough is mostly smooth. Cut the dough in half and set each half on the parchment paper. (Remove the paper from the pans to make rolling easier.) Pat out each mound into a small circle, flour rolling pin and top of dough and roll to the edges of the paper. You can leave the edges as is, roll them up a bit for a thicker end crust, or crimp them. Whatever you like.
  5. Slide the parchment and pizza crusts back onto the pizza pans and bake for 17 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  6. Spread the tomato paste – half a can each, (I use the back of a spoon) around each crust all the way to the edges. Do the same with the vegan pesto.
  7.  Sprinkle each crust with the Daiya cheese. Then sprinkle the oregano on both crusts.
  8.  Next, top both crusts with the peppers, onions, and mushrooms.
  9. Choose one of your 3 remaining cheeses and sprinkle over the mushrooms.
  10. Add the sausage to both crusts. Then the remaining two cheeses. Then the pepperoni.
  11. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

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