I chose ME today. 

I chose me today.

At 4:50 in the morning, I chose me. 

On this, my first day back at work after a beautiful summer. When there are a million things to be done and a million reasons to get to school early. There are things that need printed and copied and labeled and prepared. There are 26 little faces that will be there to meet me tonight, to see their new space. There are a million reasons why I should have chosen to go in to work extra early today. 

But instead, I chose me. 

I chose to drag myself out of bed, past any options the snooze button would have given me. I chose to start my day with clear, cold water and the laces on my shoes. I chose to crank up the fan and increase my heart rate and strength. I chose to jolt my muscles wide awake and make them do what they’re meant to do. 

I chose to take 30 minutes or so to invest in myself. Me. 

And after that I chose me again. I chose to put healthy foods into my body while I put words of truth into my heart. Words that told me  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17) And that includes me, even when I feel like I’m coming apart. 

I chose to take the first hour of my day and invest in myself. Because I’m learning that when I choose to put myself last, I’m really not that good for anything (or anyone) else. 

Those kiddos who will count on me every day? I’m choosing me for them. My husband who shares this space and life on earth with me? I’m choosing me for him. And every face I encounter throughout my day, wherever I find myself? I’m choosing me for them, too. 

Because the best version of me has a lot to offer this world. But I can only offer it when I choose myself, giving good things to myself first so I have something of substance to offer. 

So today, I chose me. And I think the world, at least my small version of it, will be better for it.

If any of you know a teacher, then you completely get what back-to-school time entails. They essentially disappear from your life for a period of at least a few weeks while they work ridiculously long hours resetting the school year for a new group of kiddos. It often means they are running on fumes… Not getting enough sleep, eating junky food, and putting themselves at the bottom of every list. That’s always me, but this year I’ve decided to switch things around a bit and start treating myself as if I’m just as important as those around me. Because I am. And you are too. I hope you’ll be inspired to choose yourself today in some small way. 

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Carrot Cake Pancakes

My husband has awesome muscles, no doubt. He has a very physically demanding job already, but when he began Krav Maga and Brazilian Jui-Jitsu almost a year ago, those muscles really started getting the workout of their lifetime. We also transitioned to a mostly plant-based, whole-food style of eating shortly before that, and we’re still working on how to balance regular life around us with this new focus on our health. On days like today when my husband knocks around at the Krav gym, he is also very likely to leave before sunup and not get home until sundown, since we currently live in the boonies a million miles from the rest of our life. All of this leaves me with a big dilemma: How to make yummy, protein-injected, plant-based foods that he can eat on the run and will keep him energized throughout his day. This is a work in progress, but I’m slowly getting better at healthier ways of cooking. Here is a recipe for some delicious pancakes that also make a great portable, anytime snack. This morning, my man slathered some crunchy peanut butter on a couple of these babies and packed them in his lunch. They’re going to make a nice snack with a jolt of protein that will not fill up his stomach too much just before he starts punching and kicking and throwing hammerfists and whatnot. They were tasty with some maple syrup, but they are also delicious on their own, even when they’re cold!  Enjoy!

Carrot Cake Pancakes, Adapted from Everyday Happy Herbivore

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • dash of ground ginger
  • 3 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot (about 1 regular carrot)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and spices together. Add brown sugar, non-dairy milk, and water. Stir to combine well. Let batter rest while you grate carrot as finely as possible. Heat a griddle or nonstick pan. Mix carrots, walnuts, and raisins into your batter. Pour pancake batter about 1/4 cup at a time onto griddle. Cook on one side until bubbles form, which is usually 2-3 minutes. Flip pancake and cook on other side, about 2-3 more minutes. Repeat until all batter is used, stirring batter each time so carrots, walnuts, and raisins do not settle to the bottom. Serve with maple syrup, peanut butter, or just eat one all by itself!  Here is the nutritional information, from Sparkpeople’s Recipe Calculator:

6   Servings

Carrot   Cake Pancakes, adapted from Everyday Happy Herbivore

Amount Per Serving

Calories 172.3
Total Fat 7.5 g
Saturated Fat 0.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4.9 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 126.5 mg
Potassium 154.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 26.0 g
Dietary Fiber 4.2 g
Sugars 7.0 g
Protein 5.4 g

Without the walnuts, less calories but also less protein:

6 Servings

Carrot Cake Pancakes (without walnuts)

Adapted from Everyday Happy   Herbivore

Amount Per Serving

Calories 105.7
Total Fat 0.8 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 126.3 mg
Potassium 110.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 24.7 g
Dietary Fiber 3.5 g
Sugars 6.8 g
Protein 3.9 g

Spicy Orange Greens and more!

Sorry I’m a day behind… But here is the recipe for the Spicy Orange Greens that I made the other night. It is from the cookbook Everyday Happy Herbivore by Lindsay Shay Nixon. Before I typed it out, I googled it to see if it was already publicized anywhere online and I hit the jackpot! Turns out that the makers of Forks Over Knives (an awesome documentary that you should go check out right this minute!) had compiled 5 of Lindsay’s Happy Herbivore recipes in one place! I have personally made all of these except the sweet potato dal, which is dog-eared in my cookbook as one I’ve been wanting to try. They’ve all been delicious. In fact I haven’t been disappointed with one single recipe I’ve ever made from the Happy Herbivore cookbooks or web site.

The Spicy Orange Greens recipe is included in this, and the cool part is that even though I used broccoli and quinoa for it, it can be modified many ways. Todd doesn’t care for the texture of quinoa, so I put his over brown rice. You can even change the greens to use collards or kale or whatever. The spicy orange sauce is delicious and you can adjust it to your own tastes very easily. Follow this link for all 5 of these recipes from Happy Herbivore!

http://www.forksoverknives.com/wp-content/uploads/FOK_EHAPPYHERBIVORE_RECIPE_FINAL.pdf

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I Haven’t Washed My Face in a Month

Okay, well that’s not an entirely true statement. Let me rephrase:

I haven’t washed my face with soap in a month. Or face wash, or cleanser, or exfoliant scrub, or facial cream or any other sort of generally acceptable stuff people use to clean the funk off a face.

Now before you go unfriending me from Facebook and deleting the link to this blog because you think I’m a completely unclean weirdo… Let me explain.

A while back, when I was reading through yet another blog-I-found-through-a-blog-through-some-other-blog, I stumbled upon Simple Mom. Something about natural this or simplify that caught my eye there, and I was hooked on this lady’s pretty little pages. Then one day I stumbled across this post about cleaning your face naturally, which gives an incredibly comprehensive teaching on how to clean your face with oil.

Um, excuse me…what?? OIL. Olive oil, that is. Same stuff as in your kitchen. Usually mixed with Castor Oil, too. Yeah, people…that’s what it said. My eyes could hardly believe that business as I read the words of this seemingly-otherwise-normal lady describing how she puts straight olive oil in the palm of her hands, rubs it all into her skin, then steams her face and wipes it off. Ummm, yeah…sign me right up for that. I envisioned a cheesy commercial with a lady in a gauzy white dress skipping through a flowery meadow with the breeze blowing her hair as I read claims of how great her skin felt after voluntarily participating in this insane ritual of face-greasing. That is just all kinds of crazy.

Fast forward a while and I’m checking out some other chick’s blog… The site is called Sorta Crunchy, and much like before, I was enamored by the cute little header on the main page and fun posts all over the place. Then, what do I find?? A colorful section of the sidebar that states “I wash my face with oil.”

Oh no, another straight-up weirdo!!! How do I find these people!?

After that I did what I always do when I hear about weird and/or interesting thing: I googled the heck out of it. I started reading about this OCM (oil cleansing method) stuff like it was my job.

And what happened….? Well, let’s just say I think I need to eat some crow…

So, my apologies, Simple Mom and Sorta Crunchy gal, for thinking you were off-your-rocker weirdos who grease up your face because you just like breaking the laws of well-accepted skincare routines. I confess that I’ve tried the OCM for a month now based on your helpful recommendations and I wholeheartedly love it. LOVE IT. My skin looks great and feels so soft I can’t believe it. And I’m not even using face lotion, which I used to pay a fortune for because I needed it to fix my dry, tight skin.

And the biggest, craziest part: In the last month or so, several different people have commented on how nice (even glowing) they thought my complexion looked! Thank you, EVOO and castor oil!

So, are you thinking about jumping on this crazy train? It only takes about 5 extra minutes a day to properly massage, steam, and rinse your face. You aren’t putting yucky chemical weirdness on your face and you’re saving a bunch of money. What’s not to like?? And before you go saying how you could never do that because you have overly difficult fill-in-the-blank type of skin, just read some of these super helpful links about the OCM before you dismiss the whole shebang. There are oil combination recommendations for every type of skin. Your pores might just thank you for it. 🙂

Sorta Crunchy: I Wash My Face With Oil

Simple Mom: How to Clean Your Face Naturally

The Oil Cleansing Method (Yes, there’s a whole site devoted to this)

Ginger ABBC+O Juice

This morning for breakfast we tried something different. Very different. I’m calling is Ginger ABBC+O Juice:

  • 1/2 red apple
  • 1 banana
  • 1 beet (i used 1/2 a can of beets since I didn’t have fresh)
  • 10 baby carrots
  • 1 orange
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • 1 big leaf of lacinato kale
  • 1 piece of ginger (about the size of 2 nickels stacked on top of each other

This recipe started off as something I found on reboot.com, but the taste was WAY too much for either of us, so we started throwing some extra things in to improve the taste. The result was a lovely little pink drink, but don’t let it fool you…this baby is stout! If you are not a fan of beets or ginger, this one is not for you! I am actually not a huge fan of either, although I can take them in small doses. I even used a much smaller piece of ginger than the original recipe called for because I knew neither of us liked it very much, but alas, we are both left with that gingery taste in our mouths this morning…kind of like after you eat a lot of Chinese food. Once we added the banana and orange, the flavor was still strong but bearable. If I were to repeat this recipe I would leave the ginger totally out and only add a very small amount at the end if I thought it needed it. Which I probably wouldn’t think. 🙂

No-Longer-My-Enemy Juice!

Okay I will admit it. I HATE kale. It is my enemy! It is tough and bitter and quite frankly smells like farts to me. Yeah, farts! BUT I have been trying everything to figure out a way to sneak it into my life because every single thing I read shows that it is THE most nutrient-dense piece of vegetation on this planet! For example…..the ANDI food scoring method (the one you see in Whole Foods all the time) puts kale at the tippy-top of the list, with a perfect score of 1000 on their rating system (along with it’s evil cousin, collard greens! ewww!)

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But even knowing this, usually I end up twisting my face up in disgust because the kale tastes so awful to me or is so tough that I get a sore jaw from chewing it. BUT…that was before the Vitamix came into my life. Now I can pop some kale right on into that magic machine, add some fruits, and voila! It’s like the grassy icky-ness is not even in there! However…I have to have a certain mix of just the right think to kill the kale taste, and this morning, I found it! Blend this awesomeness up in your Vitamix and be amazed:

  • Two leaves of lacinato kale (also called dinosaur kale)
  • one orange
  • one frozen banana
  • half of a green pear
  • ice & water

This green goodness was so yummy I didn’t even get a picture because I was drinking it so fast (oops, sorry!) So kale is no longer my enemy, now that I’ve found a way to conquer it in the Vitamix! [insert Dr. Evil laugh here] Hope you can enjoy it too!

Vegan Blueberry-Walnut Zucchini Bread

One of my favorite things to make is zucchini bread. Not just because it is yummy, but because in the summer I have these green veggies popping up all over my back yard and I can’t use them up fast enough unless I bake with them! Another reason I love making it is because you can add whatever else you want to it and the bread will still turn out wonderfully. So a few years ago when I first starting baking, I found a recipe online for blueberry zucchini bread. Who doesn’t love blueberries!? (That would be communists and The Grinch–before his heart grew 3 sizes) Click here for the original recipe from allrecipes.com and check out my modifications below.

Since my husband and I have changed our eating habits to an almost entirely vegan diet, I’ve found ways to modify recipes to eliminate animal products. Now, don’t get me wrong, this treat is in no way automatically “healthy” just because it doesn’t have eggs. It still contains lots of sugar which is bad for your body if you eat 5 zillion tons of it like I happily used to do! But at least you avoid the cholesterol and animal products, and in this version you actually get some healthy omega-3 oils and fiber from the flax that you wouldn’t otherwise have. So, still eat this treat sparingly, as with all sugar, but enjoy it a little more knowing that it’s been modified in a good way. I followed the recipe at the link above except for these things:

  • As an egg replacer, I used flax goop. Yep, that’s what it’s called. Replace eggs by mixing flax meal (ground flax seed) with water. You will fake one egg by mixing  2 Tbsp of flax meal and 3 Tbsp of water, allowing it to soak together just for a minute or so and add to your ingredients wherever the eggs are called for. (In this recipe that’s 6 Tbsp flax meal/9Tbsp water =3 eggs)
  • I substituted half of the all-purpose flour for whole-wheat flour. (That gives it a nice balance between fluffy bread and whole grains) and I use organic, unbleached versions in all my baking.
  • I love a little crunch to my bread so I added about 1/2 cup of walnut pieces to the batter, then finely chopped a few more walnuts and sprinkled them on top of the loaves to give them a pretty, crunchy topping.
  • I didn’t have enough fresh blueberries for the recipe so I used some fresh, some frozen, but I did let the frozen berries thaw out before using them. They worked great and add a little extra moisture to the bread.
  • If baking mini-loaves, 45 minutes at 350 seems to be just right in my oven. If I use a regular loaf pan I usually have to bake it an extra 10 minutes to get it all the way done in the middle. The edges will be a little brown, and perfectly tasty.

Enjoy your vegan treat! Try zucchini bread with all kinds of delicious fruits such as banana or pineapple, too!