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ice cream and oats – a perfect combination

Happy Friday, friends!

This week has flown by so fast…and leaves us with only two weeks until we move.  Two!!  And I’m probably about one one-hundreth of the way through packing.  I’m in trouble.

So, I realize I’ve been writing some heavy posts lately, and while I usually like to keep things light on a Friday, I’m going to shamelessly bombard you with more deep thoughts.  Because that’s how I roll these days, folks.

I think all this uprooting and moving business has gotten me all worked up over what I’m doing with my life.  I’ve caught myself trying to plan so many years into the future I might as well have my grand-children’s names picked out (exaggeration).  I feel like I have all these ideas, aspirations and concerns that in turn leave me with endless confusing decisions; every outcome affects other decisions and those outcomes affect more…and so on.  You see what I mean?

So the other day as I was pondering what my next steps should be, I had an epiphany.  Are you ready for this?

I do not have to plan out my future or know exactly where I want to be in x number of years.

I do not have to know how my next job will affect my future children or how it will look on my resume in 20 years.

I do not.  I do not.  I do not.


While I know it’s good/responsible to plan for the future as much as is reasonable, I also know that there are things that will happen in my future that are unplanned or that I have no control over. If you had told me when I was a freshman in college that four years later I’d be living in Thailand, I would have called you crazy and laughed in your face.  And I certainly did not plan that the husband and I would be moving out of Stillwater right now.  As I’ve said many times before, God’s plans for me don’t necessarily match up with the plans I have for myself.  And when it comes down to it, that’s what makes life so fun and interesting.  Embracing the unknown and being willing to change directions at the drop of a hat if that’s where my heart is leading me.

We must focus on making the best decision we can in the present moment…with the information we have.  And then make the most of it.  Each turn we take in life is a stepping stone to the next place.  And I truly believe that as long as we’re willing to take risks and step out into the unknown, we will achieve our goals…they may not pan out exactly how we imagined them, but they’ll be even better because they’re real.  And because we made difficult choices each day based on our own intuition, desires and guidance found through prayer.  What can be better than that?

So, here’s to not putting pressure on ourselves to have everything figured out.  Here’s to embracing the unknown and living in the present moment!

Thoughts?  I’d love to hear your input on this topic.

Aside from spending waaay too much time thinking (if you’re like me it’s very difficult to shut down your mind - hello savasana), I’ve also been dying over this amazing breakfast the last two mornings.

I think the idea of overnight oats mixed with banana soft serve was originally Angela’s, but I could be wrong.

First, mix together 1/3 cup of raw oats and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with just under a cup of water.  Set it aside in the fridge for overnight (preferably) or at least a half hour.

After it has set, place one frozen banana (cut into half at least, if not slices) in your food processor or blender and blend until it achieves a creamy, soft serve like consistency.  You may have to stop it a couple times and scrape down the sides.  After it is about half way done blending, add one tablespoon of natural peanut butter and blend until smooth.

Now pour your creamy, cold peanut butter banana soft serve over the (still cold) oats, admire it for several seconds and then mix it all up!

The absolute best part of this breakfast, in my humble opinion, is how the textures work together.  The creamy cold oats weave together with the frozen banana “ice cream” so with each bite you get a combination of smooth oats with a little bit of icy cold peanut buttery goodness.

Now, let’s just say (hypothetically of course) that when you reached into the fridge to pull out your oats, an entire container of salsa fell out and busted on the floor, throwing bits of tomato all over the floors and walls.  Well, in that case you might just need a little added craziness in the form of chocolaty indulgence.  Go ahead and add crumbles from the leftover chocolate brownies that are wrapped in foil on the counter.  There, that’s even better.

Now be prepared because your husband or your roommate might look at you like you’ve lost your mind, mixing cold oatmeal with blended frozen bananas…but it will all be worth it.  In fact, my sweet husband commented that he “couldn’t think of any worse combination.”  Now honey, that simply can’t be true.  Let’s not be crazy.

This morning I taught an earlyish PiYo class and then tutored Hye kyoung.  I’ll be spending the rest of the day trying to make our house appear as though humans live her and not animals…and desperately trying to avoid laying down for a nap.  I was up late last night busy having epiphany’s about planning out my future…and my eyes are paying the consequences.  So tired.  All the more reason to celebrate the fact that it’s Friday!

Any big plans for the weekend ya’ll?  Will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day or just laying low?
The husband has some plan up his sleeve for Sunday…but he won’t tell me what it is.

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let’s talk about food

Thanks so much for all the sweet well wishes for the husband’s first day on the new job. Ya’ll are so sweet.  I texted him mid-day to see how it was going and he texted back “it’s going really well.  A great company to work for…and so much to learn!”  Today and tomorrow are basically just orientation days, and then Wednesday will be his first day in the office.  That is, unless the predicted 6-10 inches of snow keeps him home (fingers crossed:).  Anyway, I’ve always been so thankful that he has a job he loves, and I feel that way even more now.  Every time I ask him about how he’s feeling regarding the change, he just starts talking about how great he feels about this company and the difference they’re making in people’s lives.  Yay.

Now let’s just see if I can get a job as well!

I started off yesterday morning with a serious craving for yogurt and raw oatmeal.

1/3 cup raw oats, whole soy yogurt, chia seeds, dried cranberries and cinnamon

Totally hit the spot.  Sometimes I feel myself getting tired of foods that I’ve been eating a lot of, and all it takes is scrolling back through my blog a little bit to find inspiration.  I can almost always find a basic meal that I haven’t had in awhile to bring back all fresh and new!  This oldie was definitely a highlight to start the day.

Other highlights for the day included but were not limited to the following:

  • painting my nails mint green

  • spending a little extra time with God this morning

  • making my green smoothie with a scoop of natural peanut butter and chocolate almond milk for lunch

  • having a really great conversation with my mom on the phone this afternoon

  • eating yet another leftover cinnamon roll for a snack this afternoon (I know).  One a day does = moderation.  It does!

I have had two tasty meals in my head all day today, but I’ve been on kind of a weird schedule (hence the green smoothie for lunch), so I haven’t been able to make either one of them.  One is the veggie chili I made for the husband’s work party a couple of months ago, and the other is a really simple lunch idea that I just can’t get out of my mind.  I’m thinking I’ll be enjoying it for lunch today, and if so then I’ll share it later on!  As far as the chili goes, I think it’ll be the perfect meal for Wednesday when we’re all snowed in again.  mmmm.

The last part of this post has been pretty much all about food, ha!  Food is where it’s at, though.  Even Mr. Squirrel agrees.

He sits right outside our kitchen window almost every morning, munching on all kinds of nuts and seeds.  Gives me a hankering for nuts and seeds myself, just watching him.

But really food is such a big part of life, you know?  We need it for fuel and nourishment…but it also affects us in psychological ways. We celebrate with it.  We comfort with it during times of loss.  We have memories attached to it.

I’m not encouraging emotional eating in the sense of eating to hide or cover up emotions, but we’d be crazy to say that food isn’t tied to something besides a physical need.

I’ve never really talked about this on the blog before, but in the past I’ve had issues with emotional eating, and it wasn’t in a positive way.  Sometimes, whether I’d be feeling stressed, sad or just plain tired, I would go straight to the pantry and just eat mindlessly.  And then when I would finish, I’d feel guilty and even more stressed, not to mention physically kind of sick.  I remember at times feeling like I’d never be able to break the cycle.  I ate healthy enough all the rest of the time and exercised enough that I never really put on any visible weight, but the emotional weight it was adding on was not a good thing.  It was a bad habit…and I needed to break it.

It has been a long time since this last happened.  I still get carried away with the chips and salsa occasionally (okay, often;), but it’s not the same kind of destructive behavior.  It’s no longer me trying to cover up an emotion…it’s more just about liking blue corn tortilla chips a little too much. ha.  I think the point that I really was able to gain control of what I was doing was when I recognized the true issue behind the behavior.  After a lot of prayer and internal processing, I realized that I was eating at these times in an effort to relieve the negative emotions I was feeling inside.  Food was a way to cover those emotions up by doing something that felt good right at that moment.

Besides identifying the root of the problem, another thing that helped a LOT was realizing that just because I disappointed myself by doing this didn’t mean that I should punish myself afterwards.  When I treated my body that way I needed to do something really nice for my body in turn…rather than beating myself up about it.  So, I started going for a long, slow walk,  taking a bubble bath, or just cuddling with Olive for a bit.   I also spent some time identifying the specific reasons why I would eat, and then made an alternative plan for each negative emotion, such as laying down for a twenty minute nap, getting into downward dog and holding it for 20-30 seconds or spending some time in prayer. Basically, I was ready to tackle the problem itself, whatever problem it was, rather than trying to put a band-aide over it.

After so many weeks of implementing my new plan, it became a habit, and now I don’t even think about it.  I’m not saying it was an easy process, and I definitely had my fair share of set-backs, but in the end it was so worth it.  Every time I would fall back into the behavior, I would take time to really process through what I had really been feeling in the moment, work through that emotion (if it was anxiety over my job, I would take 30 minutes and problem solve or call my teacher friend and ask for advice).  And through the whole process, not only have I gained confidence in my ability to eat in a healthy way, but I’ve also become more confident in handling conflict and anxiety.

I don’t know if I’m the only one that has ever dealt with us, but somehow I doubt it.  Just the other day I was talking to the husband, and it suddenly hit me that I hadn’t eaten in this way in a long long time.  I realized that I’d totally forgotten what it was like and is totally out of character for me to do something like now.  I know there’s a possibility that I could fall back into the habit someday, but it feels good to know that making slow progress toward a healthier way of dealing with negative emotions has brought me to a place where I feel much more confident in my relationship with food. Isn’t that how it should be?

Anyway, these are just some thoughts I’d been pondering lately, and I thought I’d share them.  I used to think this issue was something I was ashamed of and wanted to hide.  I’m still not proud that I struggled with it, but I realize now that we all have battles such as this and the best way to overcome those struggles is to bring them out into the light.

What is something you’ve overcome through a lot of time and hard work?  How does it feel to be in a place where you feel confident and at peace in regard to that issue?  Or are you still working through something and trying to get to that place?

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the best surprise

I felt so blessed by the response to yesterday’s post.  Thank you so much for every encouraging word, congratulations, prayer and thought.  It really means so much to Jonathan and I.

As we are going through so many changes, I’m so thankful for this blog and all of you who stop by to read it.  This is a constant in my life that brings me calmness and familiarity to focus on.

Yesterday was yet another milestone marked off in the journey toward moving to OKC: our house inspection.  I think because everything has happened so fast and easily since we put it up for sale last Friday, I had a bad feeling about the inspection, like something just had to go wrong.  But it didn’t!  We passed with flying colors, and we’re so relieved.

We went to bed last night feeling so at ease, and woke up this morning to the best surprise.

Not only was everything covered in white, but the husband’s office had decided to not open until 10am!  Not a bad way to start the morning for sure.  We laid back down and slept off and on for another 45 minutes or so, and then got up to have some breakfast and get a few things done.

On my to-do list was to cook up a side dish of some sort to take over to a friend’s house for dinner tonight.  Earlier this week, when Grace and Jonathan invited us over, she said she’d be making a vegetable soup, but also some quesadillas for the guys.  I promised to make a side dish to go with the soup…I was originally thinking salad, but this morning I just couldn’t get hummus out of my head!  So, I pulled out a slew of cookbooks, searching for a recipe that I would already have the ingredients for.  Finally, I stumbled upon one in, you guessed it – Eat, Drink and Be Vegan.  I adapted the recipe a bit to suit our tastes and due to the fact that I didn’t have a couple of ingredients.

I think it turned out great!  But I guess the true test will be tonight.  I love how the peanut, tamari and sesame add a distinct sort of flavor, but the garlicky hummus still shines!

Peanut Sesame Hummus with Chias

Ingredients

  • 2 cups canned chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 3 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp tamari
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes , or to taste (I like it hot!)
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Directions

  • Place chickpeas in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 1 minute
  • Add remaining ingredients except water to bowl and mix thoroughly
  • Pour mixture into Vitamix or a food processor

  • Puree, adding water until consistency is smooth.  You’ll also have to stop to scrape down the sides at regular intervals
  • Garnish with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and chia seeds, crushed peanuts or a wedge of lime!

Hummus is one of the top items on my list of favorite foods.  I especially love how versatile it is – you can eat it for breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner…and you can eat it so many different ways.  My favorite store bought kind is Sabra Roasted Garlic, but homemade just can’t be beat…especially because it’s super easy and you can add whatever flavors you want!  I’m thinking maybe mexican inspired next time…

Now I’ve got some Super Charge Me cookies baking in the oven, and I’m working on a few projects – planning my PiYo class for tomorrow being one of them.  I always end up waiting until the last minute to plan my class, and I’m really trying to work on getting it done early.  It’s much more fun when I have plenty of time!

Hope you’re all having a great Thursday!

Do you have a love for hummus? Or have you never tried it before?  What’s your favorite kind?

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a new chia recipe

Wow, guys.  Thanks so much for all the love you showed to me and my blog yesterday.  It may seem kind of silly, but yesterday really did feel very special to me.  ChiaSeedMe has seen me through so many moments this past year, and it has been such a blessing as it’s allowed me a place to express myself in so many different ways.  It’s really quite amazing when you think about it. A blog makes it possible for a person to have a responsive audience to whatever it is you need to share – fears, hopes, dreams.  It also has allowed me to express myself through photography and writing, which I never would have had the opportunity to do otherwise.

Another aspect I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday was hearing all the comments from those of you who love chia seeds!  These little guys are taking the world by storm.

And speaking of chia seeds, last night I added them to a meal that I’ve never added them to before.  And they were delicious as always.

When I was growing up, it was a rarity for my mom to not have a homemade meal on the table.  It was a norm for her to call us in from playing outside five times before we would actually come, and I remember never wanting to stop for dinner (who was I?).  But now I hold very dear the memories of our whole family sitting around the table every night.  My mom was (and is:) a great cook; some of her specialties included mexican casserole, tacos, meatloaf, chicken and rice casserole, roast with cooked potatoes and carrots, and last but definitely not the least – her famous spaghetti sauce.

I always loved spaghetti nights.  The sauce would simmer on the stove for hours as each flavor mingled together giving off the most mouth-watering aroma you can possibly imagine.  It would fill the entire house, luring us in from any part of the house; she probably got so tired of us inquiring “when will dinner be ready, mom?”  Sitting here right now I can vividly taste the slightly sweet, warm tomato flavors.

Now that I am older I can appreciate more than ever before the fact that my mom valued having a healthy, homemade meal on the table (almost) every single night.  Having my own family (minus kids) now, I realize how challenging it is to meal plan, get the groceries bought, plan ahead for preparation and create a tasty meal in time for dinner.  But I’m so thankful that it was important to her to do so and that she instilled that importance in me.

Last night’s dinner was the ChiaSeedMe version of spaghetti sauce.  Honestly, it doesn’t taste a whole lot like my mom’s.  But, I’ve dabbled in making from scratch spaghetti sauces before, and this one is by far the most delicious.  The flavors are much more complex and they work so well together, but this recipe was super easy as well.

I started off by sauteeing some chopped onion and garlic in olive oil until both turned slightly golden and then adding one and half chopped bell peppers.

As soon as the peppers had turned tender, I poured in the tomato puree, tomato sauce, and tomato paste, mixing them together until the different textures became one and it became smooth. Already my nose was being filled with the fresh italian aroma.

Next came the seasonings – basil, a lot of italian seasoning, rosemary, garlic powder, sea salt and ground red pepper.  Dumped them all in and stirred like crazy.  When they were all incorporated well, I completed the second best step – the taste test.  I recommend you definitely not skip this step as you may want to adjust the seasonings to perfectly suit your tastes:)

And lastly, it was time to add in the namesake of this recipe…the star of the show.

As many of you know, the chia seeds did not affect the flavor of this sauce, but what they did add is protein, iron, omega 3′s and 6′s, calcium, fiber and other vitamins.  After sprinkling them over the sauce, I stirred to incorporate them well and then allowed the sauce to simmer for another ten minutes or so.  This gave the chia seeds time to soften and gel up; they were undetectable in the sauce, but they gave it a little bit thicker texture and absorbed some of the liquid so that the sauce wasn’t the least bit watery when ladled over the noodles.

After adding the chias, I took a quick break from the sauce to toss a handful of thin spaghetti noodles (the best kind) in some boiling water so they’d have just enough time to cook.  We can’t forget the noodles!

My only question is: how did I never think of this before now?

Spicy Chia Spaghetti Sauce

Ingedients

  • 29 ounce can tomato puree
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • small can tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1 – 1.5 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1.5 bell peppers, any color, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil, for sauteeing
  • 2 tsp minced garlic

Directions

  • Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil over medium high heat until both are slightly golden.
  • Add bell pepper and continue to saute until tender.
  • Pour in tomato sauce, tomato paste and tomato puree and stir until well combined.
  • Add in garlic powder, basil, rosemary, sea salt, italian seasoning, ground red pepper and stir well.
  • Lastly, add chia seeds, stirring to combine.
  • Allow sauce to simmer on low heat for at least 10 minutes.

Serve over whole wheat thin spaghetti with a sprinkling of Angela’s vegan parmesan and a side of sprouted bread slathered with Earth Balance and garlic powder and toasted in the oven until slightly crispy.

Mexican look out – italian just might be moving in for good!

How did your family handle dinnertime when you were growing up?  Did you eat around the table like me?  Was it family night around the TV? Do share – I love hearing how other families live!

**Also, don’t forget to enter ChiaSeedMe’s one year anniversary giveaway for some chia seeds or a special secret care package of my favorite little things!  You can enter by clicking here or by clicking the button on my side bar.

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happy birthday chiaseedme

Yesterday I mentioned that today would be a very special day in the life of my little blog.

One year ago today, I sat down and wrote my very first post on ChiaSeedMe.

I was beginning my second semester as a first year high school English teacher, commuting two hours every day, and in desperate need of something besides work in my life.  CSM provided that for me; it quickly became the highlight of my days.  With every post I fell more in love with food, writing and photography.  Now I can’t imagine my life without this little space.

One of the questions I’m asked most often about my blog is “why ChiaSeedMe?”

When I started this blog, I had been eating chia seeds for quite some time, and I loved so many things about them.  What’s not to love?  They are high in protein, high in omega 3′s and omega 6′s, help balance blood sugar, help keep you full longer, high in iron and so much more.  But chia seeds themselves aren’t the only reason why I chose the name.

I also chose it because of what chia seeds represent for me.  They’re tiny little seeds, hardly bigger than the tip of a pencil, but they pack a serious punch.  I try to focus my life around the little things that make a big difference, and the words I write here and photos I snap every day have brought to light all the little things in my life that make it what it is.  The way the light filters through the trees in our backyard just at the onset of evening, the way I can see the husband just perfectly through the space between our living room and office, and the softness of our down comforter when I pull it up over my shoulders each night – these little things bring me such joy and are a constant reminder of just how blessed I am to be living this life.

This blog has never been just about what I eat for dinner each night or which workout I choose each morning, although I do love writing about those things.  It’s about this all encompassing idea that this life we live really isn’t just about what we do each day.  It’s about really feeling our experiences.  It’s about seemingly unimportant moments that make a big impact by bringing a smile, focusing on the good, working through the bad and coming out better at the other end.  Moments that embed themselves in the very fabric of our minds and change us forever, one little thing at a time and sometimes without us even realizing it.  I believe these tiny little things matter more than we even understand.

And along the journey of this past year, I’ve gained one of the greatest things I could imagine.  Friendships with other people who not only have the same interests in life, but who are so thoughtful, caring and supportive.  Who reach out with comfort when I’ve quit my job and I’m feeling doubtful or help me decide whether to keep my hair short or grow it long.  And in the midst of it all, I can hardly believe how blessed and thankful I am.

So, thank you for coming alongside me this year.  Thank you for reading.  Without you all, my small corner of the internet would be awfully lonely…serving only as a space to bounce my thoughts into the air and watch them as they fade in the distance.  You are the glue that holds this little blog together.  You give it energy and life, and it truly wouldn’t be the same without you.

As a small way to show you just how thankful I am and to celebrate the first birthday of CSM – there is only one thing I can see fit to do.

Let’s give away some chia seeds!

Monterrey Bay Spice Company is a great source for not only chia seeds, but herbs, spices and teas as well.  They have been a great sponsor for ChiaSeedMe me throughout this year, and have kindly offered to send two readers each a bag of my favorite little seeds.  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by midnight on Sunday, January 15th to enter!  You can say anything you want…just make yourself known:)

In addition to that, I personally want to do something for you guys as well.  I will choose one more winner from the comments on this post, and you’ll receive a little care package of some of my favorite “little things.”  I’m not telling what will be in it, but I promise it will bring a smile to your face!

Because it’s the little things that matter most.

**Unfortunately, the contest is open to U.S. residents only.  International readers – I don’t love you any less!
**I will choose a winner using random.org.

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