A Letter to You!

Dear Readers,

I know I have been very absent from this blog over the last month or so.  I hope you will forgive me once you find out that I have two very good reasons why!

I am pregnant with TWO little babies!  Our twins are due in late September.  I love them so much already and we are so happy and excited.  I decided to put a temporary hold on blogging for the last month when my pregnancy was still under wraps but my activities were mostly limited to gagging, moaning, and record-breaking urination.

I have some pregnancy-related stuff I’d like to write about, in hopes that some of what I have learned so far might someday help a hysterical pregnant woman in a Google fit to feel calmer and like she is not alone.

My themes of self-love and great self-care will remain no matter what, so I hope that even non-babylovers will feel included and find something to relate to.

Thank you so much for reading what I write.

Love,

Marla

P.S. I promise promise promise this is not an April Fool’s joke!  My humor is mostly limited to horrible puns and doesn’t really extend into pranking territory.

Orange Almond No Bake Energy Bars

Does anyone else have a major case of the winter blahs?  My skin is dry, my cold weather wardrobe is tired, my couch is like, “Hey, can I get a little breathing room over here?”.

I am no stranger to the winter funk, it rears its cranky head at me every year.  For me, the best way to handle it is a delicate balance of getting it together in any small way I can that does not feel totally forced, while also indulging the funkiness (by sleeping more, eating comforting foods, getting a bit lax in the armpit shaving department).

Today’s recipe is the perfect expression of that balance.  I’m getting off the couch to cook something healthy and delicious!  Wow, I feel the productive momentum building already!  Is that a bird I hear chirping?   BUT… I’m doing all this in my robe.  Really, I’m just throwing a bunch of shit in the food processor and pressing it into a pan.  And I’m going to take a nap right after I’m done.

If you’re still reading after all the body hair and loungewear talk, thank you!  You are going to LOVE these bars.  I used the basic structure from my Lemon Ginger Energy Bars and sassed it up with a new flavor that is just as refreshing, satisfying, and easy-to-make as its lemony sister.

Orange Almond!  What a revelation!  I got the inspiration from a cake at Cafe Mogador.  How did I never think to get these two together before?  What a perfect combination!  Somebody call Bath and Body Works and tell them that we’ve found their next blockbuster scent!  But then maybe also call poison control at some point too because I have a feeling I’m about to do a shot of body lotion.

Orange Almond Energy Bars

Ingredients:
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1.5 cup pitted dates
2 T. orange juice
zest of 1 orange
2 t. pure almond extract

Yield:  10-12 bars

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Cook Time:  0 minutes

Instructions:

  • Line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper
  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor until very well mixed.
  • Press into baking pan.
  • Chill in refrigerator for 2-3 hours, and then cut into bars.

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

Do you ever feel like the internet is turning your brain to fucking MUSH?  I do!  In an effort to fight the mush, I have committed to ‘switch-off Sundays’ in 2013.  Sundays are the one day a week where I don’t check email or Facebook or bullshit around on the internet.  I figure that taking one day off per week of being so damn CONNECTED, one day of comparing myself to other people’s laughter-filled Instagram photos is restoring a couple of wonky synapses or something.***

Today’s recipe is courtesy of this past switch-off Sunday.  I had this bad boy prepped and chugging away in the slow cooker before 10am.  Without being switched off, I can guarantee that I would not have gotten to it until much later.  And then that only would have been after finding out what everyone on my Facebook newsfeed did this weekend and reading how some moron who I would not trust to scrub my toilet would solve my problems on Yahoo! answers.

This lentil soup is so delicious, so simple, so perfect for packing many workday lunches and freezing the rest.  It manages to be vegan and gluten free while still being normal people food.  Throw a handful of raw spinach and some cheese in and let them wilt and melt and you’ve got a satisfying, comforting bowl that will keep you full for hours and also teach you important lessons about judging a book by its cover (I’m sorry but lentil soup is UGLY).

***I’d like to get all high and mighty about this and tell you that you should do it too.  However, we just moved into a new apartment and we now have TiVo, which means that I’ll likely just fill that time by watching episodes of the Millionaire Matchmaker, which means the sum total of my meaningful contribution to society will probably remain the same.  Oh well.

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

Adapted from Alton Brown

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion (approximately 1 large-ish onion)
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
4 teaspoons salt
2 pounds lentils, picked and rinsed
2 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes (I wasn’t a hero, I just used canned diced tomatoes)
8 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 T apple cider vinegar

Yield:  A TON.  I’d say 8-10 lunch sized portions.

Prep Time:  20 minutes

Cook Time:  5 hours

Instructions:

  • Add all ingredients except vinegar to your slow cooker and mix well.
  • Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or low for 8.
  • Use an immersion blender to puree just a bit.
  • Add apple cider vinegar and stir to combine before serving.

Notes:  A few dashes of hot sauce before serving are DELICIOUS!  If you’re reheating, which you inevitably will be at some point because this is a LOT of soup, you might want to add a little bit of water before doing so.  If you don’t own a slow cooker, you can also do this in a regular big mama pot on the stove – just sautee the onions, carrots, and celery first.

Cranberry Walnut Quinoa Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

What do you eat when it’s ten degrees outside but your apartment heat is blazing? Beef stew washed down with a pina colada? Sounds great, just in case your local grocery store is all out of Coco Lopez, I’ll tell you about today’s hearty winter salad – it sticks to your ribs while still remaining appealing in your sauna-like home!

This Quinoa salad is the holy union of flavor and health. The sweet! The salty! The crunchy! The protein! The greens! If this salad was a man, it would be a Ryan Gosling meme.

Source: fuckyeahryangosling.tumblr.com via . Rachael on Pinterest

And hey (girl), why don’t you cook up some extra Quinoa while you’re cooking and cleaning up anyway?

Here are similarly hunky ways to use up your remaining quinoa:
Goat Cheese Quinoa with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Zucchini
Greek Quinoa Salad
Tropical Quinoa with Lime Vinaigrette

Cranberry Walnut Quinoa Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

 Dressing adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients:

Salad
6 cups cooked quinoa, chilled
3 scallions, chopped
½ cup walnuts
½ cup dried cranberries
2-3 generous handfuls of arugula

Dressing
¼ cup orange juice
2 T Balsamic vinegar
1 T dijon mustard
2 tsp. maple syrup
3 T olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Yield:  3-4 as an entree, 6-8 as a side

Prep Time:  10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes (if Quinoa isn’t premade)

Instructions:

  • Combine all salad ingredients.
  • Whisk together all dressing ingredients, pour on salad, and toss well.
  • As needed, top with additional oil and vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

Notes:
Jonny topped his with crumbled goat cheese and he said it was DELICIOUS.  A sprinkling of mint would be a classy touch too!  

Three Easy Ways to Clear Stinky Stuck Energy

Most people have abandoned their New Year’s resolutions by now.  This is not because most people are massive failures!  It’s just that making big changes on the outside requires inner work and a life set up to support them, not just the white-knuckling willpower junk that we’re all taught to believe is the key to making anything happen.  People who accomplish goals that way are cranky!  We don’t want to be cranky.

I think on some level, we all know that psychological shifts are necessary to quit our bad habits, that maybe they’re just symptoms of something that needs to be healed on the inside.  But ‘healing on the inside’ can sound so daunting and unapproachable!  I’m here to tell you, thankfully, this process is not all sobbing on a couch about your childhood, there are simple and direct actions you can take today to create the shifts you’re looking for (though I highly recommend psychotherapy if it’s an option for you and you’re interested; I love therapy and will probably be in and out of it until I die, at which point I will seek out other spirits on the other side to listen to me talk about my feelings).

Stuck energy can be a major block to accomplishing your goals, and a sneaky one too.  Without regularly keeping the energy in your life a-moving, you’ll slowly find yourself sucked dry and unmotivated to take action to meet your goals without really knowing why.  Have you ever noticed how the moment you stop obsessing over a guy, he calls you?  Years ago, after job searching for MONTHS, I finally got an offer not two hours after I broke up with an ex-boyfriend.  Those are energy shifts at work, my friends, and they can alter life situations dramatically and magically.

The great thing is that there are so many ways to clear stuck energy that are EASY!  Here are a few simple ways you can clear out the garbage and ride that energy train!

COME ON RIDE THAT TRAIN

Your email inbox

If you’re like most of us, you have a buttload of clarity suckers making a holy wreck of your inbox.  It’s so easy to let that happen, isn’t it?  Every stinking time you buy something online you wind up on some list or other!  People give away really cool stuff for joining their mailing lists!  There’s that blogger you signed up for updates from forgetting that you never read blogs in your email!  You know how it goes.

The problem is, the action of sorting through all the unnecessary e-clutter takes up brain and energy real estate.  Even if you handle your email on autopilot, your time and thoughts are precious!  That two seconds it took you to read about and delete a sale from the manufacturer of your coffee machine is two seconds SAVED next week if you just click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.  More than just a time-saving technique, the emotions that these small actions cause in you are a waste – especially if they annoy you or make you feel bad about yourself.

So delete or archive all that crap!  Then unsubscribe from everything that doesn’t serve your highest good, including this blog if it goes unread for more than a day or gets deleted immediately without reading. On a practical level, when you check your email each day there will be a few messages you actually want in there instead of 25 you don’t give a shit about.  On an energetic level, you are clearing the psychological space for communication you care about and sending the message to yourself that you deserve more than stuff you feel ‘meh’ about.

President Obama only wears blue or gray suits to save his decision-making energy for more important matters.  Make your inbox squeaky clean and your next stop could be the presidency!

Your phone contacts

Thanks to the cloud and that magic machine that transfers them from phone to phone, your phone contacts can turn into a ‘this is your life’ situation without some regular upkeep.  I feel this is one of the drawbacks of modern technology… we can easily stay in touch with friends with minimal effort, which is awesome.  But that means that most of us still have people hanging around the periphery who would have faded into the ‘whatever happened to her?’ land had you known them 15 years earlier.

These extraneous people in your contact list are just keeping you stuck in the past in some way – especially exes, old co-workers, and friends who you’ve grown apart from and feel awkward about.  The flash of emotion and memory as you see their name are just not worth it, nor is the extra time it takes to find the people who are actually relevant to your life today.

Go through those suckers and erase erase erase!  Enjoy the symbolic action of saying goodbye to parts of your past without having to burn things and stink up your home.  Plus, it’s kind of hilarious to uncover the erasable gems – your old building super? Don’t need him on speed dial.  Someone you waited tables with for a summer back in 2005?  Something tells me you’ve learned all you need to learn from her.  Somebody you did a group project with your junior year of college?  What, were you afraid you’d suddenly get a wild hair to contact this person and be all destroyed over the one that got away?

If you have a dire need to reach any of these people someday, you can use one of the zillion and one methods available to contact them.  It will feel sooo good when you scroll through your contacts and don’t have to think, “Pete – who is Pete?  Oh yeah, that gay guy I went on an internet date with who made me split the bill for two drinks!”  Not that I speak from experience or anything.  Because the gay guy I went out with was named Paul.

Your closet

Clothes carry energy big time.  They have so much to do with how we feel about our physical appearance, they get all kinds of memories attached to them, their quality and trendiness is all tied up with status.  If you often find yourself staring at your closet full of clothes hating everything you see and/or you haven’t done a massive wardrobe clear-out in over a year, it’s time to get crackin’!

By keeping a bunch of of clothes that you don’t feel proud to wear,  you jam up your energy gears in a number of ways.  You unnecessarily increase the amount of physical clutter in your closets and drawers, giving yourself more crap to deal with when all you want to do is put on a pair of pants.  You send yourself the message that you need to change to accept yourself every time you catch a glimpse of those jeans that give you a major muffin top that you’re keeping for your someday weight loss.  You subconsciously send yourself the message that you don’t deserve nice things and you need to be afraid that you won’t have enough when you hold onto clothes that aren’t in good condition.

Here are some good rules for keeping your closet and heart happy.  Go through your clothes and, one piece at a time, donate or toss it if:

  • You have not worn it in a year or more;
  • It does not fit you;
  • You don’t feel like it looks great on you;
  • It’s in crappy condition;
  • It has a bad memory associated with it.

The ‘does not fit you’ rule is especially important.  If you recently had a baby or were on medication or had something specific that made you gain an uncharacteristic amount of weight that you’ll be losing, sure.  But other than that, I find aspirational skinny clothing to be such bullshit!  Toss those skinny jeans and find some peace.

The same goes for clothes that have gotten too big!  It took me the longest time to throw out my too-big clothes once I lost a lot of weight.  I felt like they were my safety so I wouldn’t have to be naked if it all came rushing back.  It felt so good when I finally gave them the old heave-ho!  It really is okay to believe in yourself and your body.

Now that you’re done, moving forward,  “Only buy clothes that make you feel like doing a small dance” (that’s from Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination, by Helen Fielding).  You deserve to get that toe-tapping urge every time you look in the mirror!

These are really just the beginning – you can hit up your bookshelf, your Facebook friends, your purse, anything!  The basic principle is being very selective about what you’ll spend your time and attention on, and not being afraid to say good-bye to the rest.

If it gets too hard, just yell “When in doubt, throw it out!” at top volume.  It’s like magic clutter-clearing courage pills!

Victory for your Vagina: Awakening your Feminine Energy in 2013

Happy New Year!  How late in the year can we say that?  I hope your 2013 has started sparklingly.  Mine started with a clean slate, truly, because I had a wicked stomach flu last week so any baggage I even thought about carrying over from 2012 flew out of some orifice of my body and into the toilet.  Way to force me to live out a metaphor, body!

This year I am focusing on living my life with more feminine energy.  I’ve talked about feminine energy living before, and I do a decent job at accessing mine – in fact, it was a big part of my recovery from compulsive overeating and maintaining my 60 pound weight loss.

However, my main focus in my life and on the blog has been on the sensual, in-touch-with-my-body side of feminine energy.  I have this strong feeling in my heart that now I need to take it even further, you know? This year I’m going to chop off my wiener for good and pay real solid attention to my inner goddess all the time.

Even though my eyes are brown, I always pictured that my vagina would be blue-eyed if it had a face. GO FIGURE!

Want to join me?  Come on, let’s get lady-tastic!***

Get Primpy  

Have you done the thing that is really easy to do in winter, which is slipslide into I-don’t-care-about-my-appearance-ville?  I know I sure have.  Combine my winter lethargy with the fact that I work down the block in a very caj office and you get one makeup-free, yoga-pantsed lady who sees putting in contact lenses as getting dressed up.  Oy vey!

The beauty-craving part of my feminine energy came to the surface recently, when my parents got me this crazy curling iron wand thing for Christmas.  In searching YouTube for how to use it and the beautifying that ensued once I learned how, I discovered:

1) There are a LOT of beauty tutorials on YouTube,
2) This makes it easier than ever before to learn about how to do stuff that I thought was up to professionals like put on ‘eye primer’ (quoted because I still don’t really know what that is) and fill in my eyebrows and do my hair in ways other than down or in a ponytail, and
3) How much better I feel when I put time into looking pretty.  I know that I’m more than my appearance, and I know I’m not suddenly somehow more worthy with a well-executed smoky eye.  It just does nice, “I’m worth it” things for my self esteem to feel like I’m putting energy into making sure my outsides are a good reflection of my insides.

If your inner goddess is crying out for some primping and would like some guidance, my two favorite beauty tutorial YouTube channels I’ve found are Pixiwoo (for makeup) and LuxyHair (for hair)(duh).  I guess I really like learning about beauty from women with accents.

Let Things Happen

Who do you admire more – Person #1, who busts her ass and makes a zillion sacrifices to get what she wants; or Person #2, who takes it easy and waits for a sign that the time is right to make a move?

If you answered Person #1, then like me, you need an extra strength feminine energy infusion when it comes to just letting things happen and seeing where they go rather than struggling and striving and pushing (which is super masculine).

For me, going with the flow often feels very lazy.  Sometimes I do just let things happen and see where they go, but I have trouble accepting that that’s not a lesser path.  I recently read Anita Moorjani’s Dying to Be Me (which I LOVED!) about one woman’s Near Death Experience, all she learned in that dimension, and her miraculous healing from cancer.

After her NDE, when Anita first started talking about writing her book, people in her life told her to pound the pavement, get an agent, market herself, network, and all that other crap.  She told them she wasn’t interested in all that jazz, that she would write the book as best she could and know that it would reach everyone it needed to.  Well, wouldn’t you know, a bunch of serendipities occurred on their own and the biggest self help publisher in the world basically wound up beating down her door.

I loved her approach so much, because if that had been me, I would have assumed that everyone else was right and that I needed to suck it up and do it their way or accept failure.  With diet and exercise, I learned long ago that anything that makes me miserable never leads anywhere good – now it’s time for me to apply that in other areas of my life, too.  And stop feeling guilty about the fact that I want to hurl when I think about signing up for Pinterest or making an Instagram account.

It is so liberating to think that we can just let go!  Rather than going all masculine energy and waving our dicks around, we can accept that what doesn’t feel comfortable with is simply not the right path (even if everyone else swears its the way to success).

Make Expressing your Creativity a High Priority

Whether you are interested in having babies or not, you have within you a feminine energy that wants to give birth in some way, a very natural creative impulse that wants to move through you and out into the world as your creations.

If you don’t have the kind of job where this creativity is nurtured and expressed, and you don’t do anything else that gets that energy out of you and into the world where it belongs, you probably walk around feeling like one cranky, frustrated bitch.  Who could blame you?  You’ve got a fucking symbolic baby stuck all up in you!  Go make something and push that sucker out!

Yesterday I bought a sketchbook and a whole bunch of paint pens and I spent the morning today making stuff – I felt so peaceful and had a wonderful rest of the day because of it.  The trick for me isn’t remembering to be creative, it is allowing myself the treat it with the importance it deserves.

Are you sensing a pattern here?  So much of balancing your energy isn’t necessarily about dramatically changing what what you’re doing – instead, it’s about shifting your perspective and what you deem as important.

Where are you at with living from your divine feminine these days?  How do you express this part of yourself?  How can you use this energy to be happier and healthier and bring about more of the goodness you deserve?  Did you stop reading in disgust at my third reference to your genitals?  Tell me all about it in the comments!

*** Note that I did not say “Come on GIRL, let’s get lady-tastic!”.  This is because one of my other plans for 2013 is to unsubscribe from any blogs where the blogger calls me “Girl”.  Hey, I’m just going with what feels right.

It doesn’t feel right to post this week.

Hi everyone,

As I’m sure yours is too, my heart is heavy with grief for the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and everyone who loves them.  I am skipping my usual weekly post.  When I imagine what unthinkable pain those families are enduring, what horror those beautiful innocent children experienced, it feels wrong to post recipes and write about personal development.  I know that life goes on, as it must, but for now I’d prefer to stay quiet and close to the people I love.

I’ll be back next week, and until then, I hope you and yours are having a wonderful holiday season.

Love,

Marla

Five Super Delicious Ridiculously Easy Holiday Party Recipes

In the last few years, I have gone gaga for bringing homemade stuff to parties.  Isn’t it just such a nice feeling to hand a host something that you made with your hot little hands?

I always hit into a little problem with holiday parties, though.  The most wonderful time of the year is also the most whacked-out time of the year, and who has time to make stuff when you haven’t even started your damn shopping yet?

I stand by my post from last year about taking care of yourself during the holiday season.  Today I’m going to get a little more practical and talk to you about recipes that strike a balance between your desire keep up with those culinary overachievers on Pinterest and your desire to just say screw this stupid party and go to bed.

These are not particularly healthy, so this post is more geared toward the ‘busy’ part of this blog.  And we’re all letting go of stupid food guilt this holiday season anyway, right?  Here we go!

Bacon Wrapped Dates

  • Buy one container of pitted dates and one package of bacon.
  • Cut each slice of bacon in half horizontally.
  • Roll each date up in a little bacon suit (sorry) and stick a toothpick through each one.
  • If you really want to take these over the top and you have an extra five minutes, slice up cloves of garlic and put a sliver in each date before you wrap it.
  • Bake for 20 minutes-ish at 350 degrees, or until the bacon looks cooked.  These can easily be prepared ahead of time and stored in a container to be thrown in your host’s oven later.

Sweet, salty, fatty.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

White Bean Dip

Jonny and I have become dip masters since we got our food processor.  You can become one too!  All you need to know how to do is throw a bunch of shit in a food processor and hit the ‘on’ button.

Dips are one of the easiest things in the world to make and for some reason people (including me, who is well aware of the hoax that making a dip from scratch is somehow admirably laborious) are deeply touched, much moreso than if you just picked up a container of Sabra Hummus** on your way to the party and called it a day.

Of our giant dip repertoire, Giada De Laurentiis’ White Bean Dip is the easiest and most delicious.  I barely even chop the parsley, I just let the food processor do all the work while I twiddle my thumbs and try to apply false eyelashes (why do they make me look like a drag queen with some sort of eye-related disease?).  You will LOVE IT.

While you’re at the store buying Cannelini beans, grab an extra can to make Escarole and Beans from Heaven for dinner one night this week – also crazy easy and delicious!

Rosemary Roasted Cashews

This Rosemary Roasted Cashews recipe is from my patron saint, Ina Garten.  In addition to being a very tasty treat, they come together so fast!  Just warm your nuts (har har), melt a few things in a pot, mix ‘em all up and there you go!  Making your own flavored nuts is another thing that sounds impressive even though in actuality, it is not a big deal.  I’m not trying to get you to build your friendships on a foundation of lies, you can’t help what people are impressed by!

These are spicy, but I think they’d be just as fantastic without the cayenne if you’ve got any spussies on your hands.

Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Skewers

  • Buy some skewers, a pint of cherry tomatoes, a pack of mozzarella balls, and a bunch of basil (I know it’s a zillion dollars this time of year!  I’m sorry!).
  • Skew (?) each skewer with a couple of tomatoes, a couple of balls, and a couple of basil sprigs.
  • You’re DONE!  This is in Christmas colors, to boot!
  • For bonus points, bring a little container of balsamic reduction (also so easy – direction are in this recipe) to put out for drizzling.

Flourless Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies

These are my go-to cookie recipe.  I fucking hate to bake, but in certain situations nothing says love like a homemade baked good.  For example, when our neighbors had us over and gave us a wedding gift, we could not leave a bunch of Tomato Mozzarella Basil skewers outside their door to say thank you.  We left the cookies instead, and now they think we are sweet, instead of thinking of us as weird jerks who stunk up the hallways.

Anyway, here’s the recipe!  It’s from Joy the Baker, it requires five ingredients, you can make the dough in under ten minutes and then it bakes for twelve more.  Plus it’s gluten free without having to hunt down any weird flours or anything.

If you want something EVEN easier and cut out one ingredient, Joy also has this recipe sans jelly.  I have had both and they are fantastic.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU, DEAR FRIENDS!

**If you do get the Sabra, go for the pine nut flavor!

Warm Sweet Potato and Chick Pea Salad

Holy shit.  Jonny and I are so deeply touched by the loving response to our appearance on The Jeff Probst Show.  To all of you who took the time to watch our show and leave us such sweet comments and emails, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kindness.  Even you, Mr. Cosmetic Dentist from Texas who offered me free treatment AKA totally missed the point, I know you meant well and your offer was very generous.  You all are the anti-snark, and we love you.

My intention in going on the show and writing my blog post about it was not to eradicate snark.  That’s a task of Oprah-level proportions.  Instead, I wanted to share how you can be confident and love yourself even when some asshole else calls you out on your hot button issue and you’re having “that moment when the air gets sucked out of the room and you are right back in seventh grade” (quote from an amazing commenter on BlogHer).  I hope I succeeded!  But even if I didn’t, I am completely grateful for and humbled by the fact that our clip got posted on Yahoo! Shine and went berserk with hundreds of positive, supportive comments – up until yesterday I would have thought defied the laws of the internet.

One last thing and then let’s never use the word ‘snark’ again, yeah?  To the person who found my blog using the search term “save the date tooth lady”, thank you so much for gracing our little story with your elite Google-searching comedic genius.  I haven’t laughed that hard in a really long time.

OKAY.  Now let’s talk food, shall we?

I’m having a love affair with sweet potatoes lately.  They’re high in fiber and a bunch of different vitamins, they taste delicious, they lend themselves beautifully to corny plays on words like “I yam what I yam!”

For today’s recipe, I adapted a salad that calls for butternut squash.  Sometimes you just don’t feel like peeling a big enormo squash, am I right?  Sweet potatoes are way more approachable, you can peel them one at a time and feel like you’re getting somewhere, unlike facing a behemoth squash mountain that makes you want to just give up and order pizza.

This warm sweet potato salad is comforting and satisfying. full of healthy fats and slow-burning complex carbs.  It’s wonderful to eat for lunch when you know you’ll be heading to a holiday party in the evening because it keeps you nice and full for a good long time; you won’t be starving and ready to whiz through the cheese ball, Tazmanian devil-style, by 6pm.

Warm Sweet Potato and Chick Pea Salad

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

Salad
2ish pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 T olive oil
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 red onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Dressing
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 T tahini
3 T water
2 T olive oil

Yield:  3 as an entree, 6 as a side

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Combine the sweet potatoes, garlic, paprika, olive oil, and a bit of salt and pepper and toss until evenly coated. Roast them on a baking sheet for 25 or so minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
  • To make the dressing, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini next, and whisk some more.  Finally,  add the water and olive oil, whisk well, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Add a touch more water or olive oil if it still feels too thick.
  • You’re nearly done!  Combine the roasted sweet potatoes, red onion, and chick peas in a large bowl.  Toss gently in the tahini dressing  – you might want to toss in some and serve the rest on the side, though I personally like to toss the whole damn thing right in there.  Serve immediately.

Notes:

The green things in the picture are sage we used as garnish.  It wasn’t bad, but sage with this salad didn’t knock my socks off.  I do, however, love using as sage as often as possible, because Jonny always says that the soft leaves look like they would make a nice blanket for a mouse.

 

How to Let Go of Stupid Food Guilt this Holiday Season

Our episode of the Jeff Probst Show airs today (Friday)!  To find out when it’s on in your area, click here.  Also, check out the webisode we filmed in our mega fancy green room here.  Man, I REALLY love saying things with inspirational music playing in the background! If you’re a newer reader, hello and welcome!  This is the appearance snarking post that got us on the show.

I hope you had very happy Thanksgiving with your loved ones! I sure did, I love getting together with family and my uncle cooks a mean turkey.

However, for many of us who struggle to lose weight, that turkey has a big black cloud hanging over its head (legs? thighs? you know what I mean) because it symbolizes the start of the holiday season, a time of year that is full of opportunities to eat and drink crap.

This is not a ‘back on track’ or ‘Thanksgiving detox’ post.  The internet is full of those; I’ve even written one before.  Instead, I’d like to talk about a nasty, pointless habit that tends to hang around during this time of year, that you need to understand and then kick to the curb in order to make a lifelong commitment to health where you’re not a miserable, crazy bitch.

That habit is FOOD GUILT.  I HATE food guilt.  First of all, it has led to the existence one of my least favorite things in the entire world, which is when people say “I can’t have that, I’m trying to be good” or “I ate such-and-such, I was bad” as if overeating is some kind of frigging moral issue.

Food guilt is especially ridiculous because we need food to survive, no matter what.   If you feel bad about sleeping around, you keep your pants on.  If you feel bad about drinking too much, you lay off the sauce.  But if you feel bad about your lunch, dinner is still coming a few hours later; which can put you on a vicious cycle on this cycle of repenting three times a day forever.

This is how my food guilt cycle used to go:

Step 1) I’d eat too much or eat the wrong thing.
Step 2) I’d feel really bad about it.
Step 3) I’d attempt to reverse what I had done by obsessing over how to “reverse the damage”.
Step 4) I’d stick to that for a few days, but then because I’d be starving and coming from a place of feeling like shit about myself, I’d overeat again.

Then I’d be back to Step 1 again!  Oh, how my life changed once I learned to insert Step 1a, where I’d realize it was just fucking pie and then I’d move on with my life.  It got rid of all the other steps and my extra weight, too.  I’d say that after my decision to love my body no matter what my weight, it was the most important change I’ve ever made for my health.  I wasn’t walking around feeling bad about food and trying to make up for it all the time, so creating healthy habits became no biggie.

I know that “Stop feeling guilty!” is one of those infuriatingly simple directives that is so much easier said than done, right?  I’m going to give you a few action steps to get you there, as well as some stuff to think about.  So if you’re feeling like a bloated mess and terrible about everything you ate this weekend, use those swollen fingers to pull up a chair!  We’re gonna get you food-guilt free.

First and foremost, comfort yourself.  You’ve been beating yourself up way too much.  You ate something you wish you hadn’t, and that is okay.  Seriously, give yourself a hug, get some extra sleep, do whatever you can to best express to yourself the sentiment of “I love you, self, and I always will no matter what you eat.”

Secondly, take a little time to ask yourself – really and truly, why did I eat that?  If the answer is ‘Because I absolutely love it/because I was craving it big time/because it was an important part of really enjoying the day’ then I think you can just let it go!  A life where there’s no room to savor some junk food when the time is right is a life that sucks.  You will know deep down whether your choice came from a destructive or constructive place.

If the answer is ‘Because a food monster took over my body/because no one loves me/because I don’t love me’ then you can still let it go, but consider talking to a counselor who can help you to heal from your emotional eating issues.  That might be the last thing in the world that you want to do, and it takes a some time to figure out, but it beats trying another stupid diet like that’s going to solve things.

Lastly, figure out what you can learn from it.  Listen, everybody (and every body) has different needs and sometimes the best way to figure out our limits is to go beyond them.  I’m talking about figuring out what foods and food groups work and don’t work for your health, as well as what is a trigger situation that you should just stay away from completely. I still can’t really keep dry cereal or jars of peanut butter in the house because I just eat them all in a flash and UGH have you ever had a peanut butter hangover?? Worse than booze, I swear.

I have found that with regular exercise and healthy habits in general, regular indulgences totally work and don’t lead to weight gain. Just do your best to keep guilt out of the equation, which turns food from this fun delicious thing that nourishes you to a crazy monster who is out to get you.  Move those monsters out of the way, and suddenly it becomes much easier to move on and figure out what your body really needs moving forward.  If there is absolutely no way you can attain your goal weight while taking junk food breaks for special occasions like Thanksgiving, then maybe your body just doesn’t want to be quite as skinny as you want it to be.  And is that really so bad?

No matter what, please remember – it’s just fucking pie.

HEY YOU!
I'm Marla Hamilton, and this is my blog. I write it because I want to make it very easy for you to feel healthy and great about yourself.Read more about me here.
Get Adobe Flash player