20 Things I'm Thankful For

Hope everyone is having a lovely holiday season! I am back from my little vacation in Florida where I got to surprise my mom for her birthday and spend some good quality time with family in the warm Florida weather.

I'm still trying to stick with the Elf for Health Challenge. It was tough keeping up with it while I was away, but now I am back and yesterday's challenge inspired me: Pick 20 Things to be Thankful For.

I have to be honest, I was a bit crabby on Christmas Day. I was alone for the day and feeling a little down since everyone I knew was celebrating with their friends and families. But I went to a Christmas Yoga class at CorePower in Berkeley and it helped put things in perceptive for me. Our focus was on abundance. It made me realize that it didn't matter that I was by myself for the day because I have such an enormous amount of love and joy in my life. That is the number one thing I am thankful for today.

Here are my 20 things I am grateful for from 2012...


Elf for Health Challenge!

Remember when I was talking about what we can do during the holidays to stay healthy?

That giant roll of cookie dough may still be calling my name...

I will not eat it, I will not eat it...maybe a little?


Anyway, I did something. I joined the Elf for Health Challenge!

And as Barney Stinson would say:
What is this challenge you ask? You can read all about it here, but the cliff notes version is that its a 6 week challenge that began around Thanksgiving and goes until New Years with several different rounds. I missed the first round, but got in for the 2nd! (They have a 3rd round coming up, so there is still time to join in.) Basically you receive an "Elf" and you email/facebook/tweet back and forth throughout the week to support each other through your holiday health goals. There are challenges assigned everyday - its fun. Its different. You should do it.

Meet my elf by the way. She loves running and eating. I like her already.

Today's challenge was to buy coffee for a stranger or something to that effect. I rarely buy coffee during the week, so I made some green smoothies this morning for breakfast and brought one in for my friend/co-worker, Jen. She was so happy and surprised!
Yummy green breakfast!

Wish me luck! I'll keep you posted on how I do on Facebook/Twitter if you follow us (which you should be already).




Everything But The Kitchen Sink Granola

Maybe I should just blog about breakfast foods from now on. I can't get enough of them. Maybe it's because they mostly involve of carbs. Whatever. I'm perfectly content with carbs. 

But honestly, I fell in love with this granola! It's officially addictive and I can't stop making it. 

Last year, I made this honey almond granola, and thought I did a pretty good job. Until this bad boy came along. It has a more flavor to it and, with the millet, it is more crunchy than my previous batch. Chris sampled some the other night and said "that's too good to be healthy." 

The best thing, like all homemade granola, you can add whatever you want to customize it. I pretty much threw everything I had in the pantry in my batch (hence the name "Everything But The Kitchen Sink Granola"). And, like always, its cheaper than buying granola at the grocery store. I still don't understand how people can charge $8.00 for a bag of this stuff!

I always start by taking all the ingredients out so I can see everything.
All the dry goods. 
All the wet ingredients.
Pretty chopped almonds
Make the wet mix and combined all the dry goods. 
Mixed them all together and spread them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
(this helps the grains not stick to the pan, and makes clean up super easy)
Toss the oats a few times so they cook evenly
When they are done cooking, add all the dried fruits and pepita seeds and toss to combine. 

Everything but the Kitchen Sink Granola
Adapted from Oh She Glows and Bon Appetite  
Wet Ingredients:
3 tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoon of agave nectar
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
4 tablespoons of applesauce (or one small 113g container's worth)
2 tablespoons of almond butter
1/4 cup of brown sugar

Dry Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups of old fashion oats
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/2 chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup millet
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoons salt
pinch of nutmeg

Add Ins:
1/2 cup pepita seeds
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 regular raisins
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
Dried coconut

Preheat your oven to 300*. In a medium sauce pan, add all the wet ingredients and stir together over medium heat until melted and well combined. Cook to a simmer for about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, combine all your dry goods in a bowl. When your wet ingredients are all ready, pour it into the bowl with the dry good and mix well so everything is covered. Spread the mix onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cook for a total of 30 minutes - check on it every 10 minutes mix it up to make sure it all cooks evenly. If you'd like to add the coconut, add it in the oven during the last 5 minutes so it doesn't burn. When its all golden and delicious looking, it's done!

After its cooled for a bit, stir in your add-ins. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Serve it with some yogurt, in some almond milk, or just by the handful. 

I am actually about to make a new batch of this tonight...mmm!

Happy Breakfast!



Cook! Soups Review!

Back in October, during the Food Buzz Festival, I met the folks from Cook! Cook! provides healthy detox diet meals and delivers them to your door. I honestly didn't know that when I met them; I thought they only did soups! All their stuff is gluten-free, dairy free, natural, fresh, and low-glycemic. They do the detox diets meals at several levels, but if you aren't into that, you can also find some items in the stores here in the Bay Area. They had an amazing zucchini soup to sample at the FB Fest that left me wanting more. And to top it all off, they were kind enough to send me some samples to try.  I just finished my last soup the other day! These soups are really healthy so they've helped me keep on track during the holiday season when all I truly want to eat is a roll of cookie dough. Plus they are a great way to pack in the veggies and fill out up before you go out and do your holiday shopping.

By the way, is anyone having else having trouble not eating that roll of cookie dough? The days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can be a rough road. Yes, holidays are joyous and I love the family/friend time I get during this time of the year, but we end up eating enough food for what feels like at least 6 months. We aren’t going into hibernation people – why do we need that much food? Well, because it so yummy, of course, and it’s the holidays, and, and, and…. 

There was myth that the average person gains 7-10lbs during the holiday season. I couldn’t find anything out there that supported this, but I did find that most America’s gain about a pound during the holidays. Which doesn’t sound bad right? It turns out most people don’t lose that weight – causing it to build up over the years.

So what can we do? We can be mindful of what we are putting in our bodies. Make conscious decisions…do I really need that extra piece of pie? Sometimes, yes. Most times, no. 

What else can you do? You can join different communities to help motivate healthy choices like the Elf for Health Challenge or the Runner’s World Run Streak (which my friend Laura is kicking butt at) or the Little Black Dress Challenge. There are a ton of Holiday Health Challenges out there – do a search.

Plus, Eat breakfast. Take snacks with you shopping so you don’t pig out in the food court. Drink water. Lots of water - save that wine for later...

I’m doing a little combo of all of these...we shall see how it goes. 

Anyway, speaking of healthy foods, back to those lovely soups. Cook! sent me their Zucchini, Tomato, and Thai Green Curry to taste. I got them and they were all packaged up in little freezer boxes so they stayed cool. I finally finished my last soup and they did not disappoint. Each is 1.5 servings worth, but I just ate the whole thing. Whoops. 

First, I tried the Thai Green Curry and it was packed full of veggies and had such a great flavor. It literally had chunks of cauliflower and eggplant all over the pIace and wish I hadn’t eaten the whole thing at one time so I could have more the next day. I think it would be great served over some rice or quinoa too (why I didn’t think of that before I don’t know).

Second up, Tomato. Honestly, this wasn't my favorite. It's not as creamy as I usually enjoy my tomato soups. I added a little spicy jack cheese for some zest and paired it with a bean burrito. Filled me up for a nice lunch.

Last, was the Zucchini Soup. I was honestly a little nervous when I first tried this at the fest, but turned out I actually liked it a lot. You can have this one hot or cold. I've only had it warm, but I feel like it would be really refreshing on a warm summer day. Like a gazpacho twist. I paired this was a simple salad.

The winner for me was the Thai Green Curry. I'll get that again for sure. Thanks, again to Cook! for sending me some of their great soups. If you want to check out more about Eat! and there detox diets or other foods they offer check them out at http://www.cooksf.com, find them on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/CookSF or read about what they are doing on their blog at http://blog.cooksf.com/


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