Attitude of Gratitude

As we close out 2014 and enter a new year, everyone’s minds jump to New Year’s resolutions. There are things that we all want or wish for 2015 to bring and parts of 2014 that we may be ready to leave behind. But what about the best moments of 2014? That ordinary day that you spent the evening laughing with friends. Or the day that you had a great phone date with a loved one. Or the day that the killer migraine you’d been fighting finally went away. In our assessment of the year, these aren’t times that we reflect on. Instead we focus on the bigger moments. The day that you graduated or got a promotion at work or the day he first said I love you. But when we breeze through the year and only look at these moments, we miss the small, wonderful ones in between.

For about a year now, at the end of every day, I spend a minute or two and write down five things that I am grateful for that day. Some days, it’s easy to think of the five and some days, it’s a little bit harder. And then there are the days that can only be classified as “bad” and it feels difficult at all to see the good. But no matter what, I find things to write about. Because in the end, you have something to be grateful for, regardless of what is going on in your life. You have a warm place to sleep or you have food in your pantry or you have clean water to drink. And on the really bad days, those are still really great blessings.

I’ve found that by writing these things down at the end of the day, I’ve learned to approach the day with an attitude of gratitude. Focusing on the good things not only makes you a more positive person, but it brings a lightness to you and takes the stress away a bit, even if it’s just for a moment. In fact, it’s scientifically proven that grateful people are happier, get sick less often, sleep better and have more energy. And aren’t those all things that you’d like to have in 2015? So I encourage you this coming year, to take the minute or two before you go to sleep and write down your list. Not only will it be fun to look back on in the future, but it could very well change your attitude, and in turn, your life.

Question:

-Have you ever done a gratitude journal?

Lesson Learned

Hi lovelies! I hope that you all had a fabulous weekend. Mine unfortunately turned out a little different than expected as instead of celebrating my brother’s birthday, I was in the ER. You see, this past weekend I learned a very important lesson: if a food item doesn’t specifically say it is gluten-free, then don’t eat it. Remember how I was testing to see if I had an issue with gluten? Well I got my answer the hard way on Friday.

It all started Thursday night when I reached for a late-night snack. I never eat cereal (I find the one bowl is never enough so I gave it up years ago) but occasionally enjoy eating Crispix or Chex as a snack. Well when I saw Crispix sitting in the pantry, I wondered if it was gluten-free. I looked at the box and in my sleepy daze didn’t check for the GF label, but rather reasoned that because Chex is gluten-free, and because this is made of rice and corn, it must be too. Right? Wrong. Crispix actually contains malt flavoring which is NOT gluten-free.

The next morning I woke up feeling sick but went to work anyway. I knew my stomach felt “off” but I figured that it would go away by the time I got to the office. Unfortunately, that was not the case and I spent the majority of the morning on the floor of my office bathroom, (i.e. public- gross) repeatedly throwing up. As if that weren’t bad enough, I was in killer abdominal pain. My brother had to come pick me up on his lunch hour and my coworkers had to carry me out because I was so weak. I wish I could say that’s where the story ended. Instead, I proceeded to spend the next 8 hours throwing up uncontrollably. It was not a pretty picture and I was becoming severely dehydrated as I was unable to keep anything down- not even a teaspoon of Sprite! At this point, my family was getting worried about me as I was in screaming pain and had to go to the ER.

Luckily, after being pumped with fluids and medicines, the pain decreased and I began to feel a little better. One thing I didn’t realize was that a side effect of the gluten consumption was extreme fatigue (not to mention all I had gone through!) so I basically spent the rest of the weekend sleeping! Thankfully, now that the gluten is out of my system I am feeling much better. Given what happened and my history, it looks as though I have Celiac and I have a lot of emotions about this new diagnosis. On one hand, I feel encouraged and am hopeful that this will be the answer to all of my abdominal issues. But then there are times when I feel a little sorry for myself, that from now on, I’ll have to be conscious of every little thing I eat or drink. That I’ll probably never be able to have bread at restaurants or my Grandma’s Christmas cookies again. And let’s face it… that sucks. But it’s my new reality and I’m trying to have a positive attitude about it. I’m so lucky to have an incredibly supportive family who has been dedicated to finding me great, gluten-free products and is there for me with the range of emotions that follows a diagnosis like this. So from here on out, what changes can you expect to see on the blog? Well, a whole lot of gluten-free recipes and some of my favorite product finds and less french toast and carby brunches at restaurants. (I’ll save those for home!) Thanks for taking this journey with me!

Questions:

-Have you had to make any dietary changes for your health?

-Any other items that seem like they would be gluten-free but really aren’t?

-Positive stories about going gluten-free?

Southwestern Quinoa Filled Zucchini

Hi lovelies! Happy Friday! Do you guys have any fun weekend plans? I’m finally feeling better so I have some fun plans in the city on Saturday with the girls and am going to try to keep it a little low-key today and Sunday just to ensure I’m fully healed. Not only does my body feel better but I did a huge room clean on Wednesday and am feeling much better about things!

And remember how much I wanted to get vegetables back in my diet? Well I’ve done just that and after having a salad for lunch I decided to up my game a little last night. In the past I’ve mentioned that I’m not really a cook, but I’m trying to change that in 2012 and tonight was another step in that direction. After my successful quinoa dinner last week, I decided to use my favorite grain again in tonight’s dinner!

Southwest Quinoa Filled Zucchini

Inspired by Daily Garnish Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Ingredients

  • 5 Small-Medium Zucchini
  • 1/2 Cup Tricolor Quinoa
  • 1 Can Black Beans
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes (Fresh could also be used)
  • 1 Small White Onion
  • Lite Mexican Blend Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

1. Hollow out zucchini with a melon scooper (a spoon will also work) and save all the insides of the zucchini in a bowl.

2. Combine 1/2 cup quinoa with 1 cup water (or broth) and boil. Once it starts to boil, cover and let simmer. The tricolor actually got done quicker than most and only took about 10-15 minutes for the water to reduce and the quinoa to fluff up.

3. While waiting for your quinoa, chop onion and saute. Once onion is soft, add the inside of the zucchini. You could chop up the zucchini scoops beforehand, but I just did it as they cooked with the end of my spatula in the pan.

4. Next, combine the zucchini and onion with the quinoa and add in the black beans and tomatoes. I drained the black beans prior to using but I combined some of the tomato juice with the mixture. Combine well and salt and pepper to taste. This would also be a great time to add corn or chilies!

5. Scoop heaping servings of your mixture into your hollowed out zucchinis. The only hard part about this step was stopping myself from just standing at the stove eating the mixture straight out of the pot… it’s that good.

6. Sprinkle with cheese and cover with a foil tent. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes and remove foil and bake for 10 additional minutes.

These are veggie and protein packed and so delicious! They would be great topped with avocado, salsa, Greek yogurt… the possibilities are endless! I kept mine basic because I’m kind of wimp when it comes to spicy stuff but for those who love the heat you could definitely add some spices to the mix. I packed some for lunch today and can’t wait to have them! (Oh and this does yield extra filling… I’m already imaging it on top of salads, in whole wheat tortillas, straight out of the container…)

Have a great weekend!

Questions:

-Do you like quinoa? What’s your favorite way to use it?

-Are you into spicy foods?

 

Quite the Contrast

Hi lovelies! Happy, happy Friday! I hope that you all have some great weekend plans in store. Are any of you watching the Superbowl on Sunday? Or better yet, making anything delicious for super bowl parties?

Last night as I started baking for a Girl’s night that I’m attending tonight, I got to thinking about the stark contrast between my two forays into cooking this week. I’ll let the photos (mostly) speak for themselves but tell you this– it’s all part of the healthy living balance and both were equally enjoyed!

I saw this recipe for Butternut Squash Quinoa on Pinterest and knew it would be the perfect one-dish meal. Healthy grains + veggies + cheese? Yes, please! This is gluten-free and could be dairy-free or vegan and was well received by all who tried it! I will definitely be making this again as it tasted decadent but was healthy!

And on the only decadent side, we come to what I took out of the oven at midnight last night… “Slutty Brownies” which were obviously another Pinterest find! I’ll post finished pictures on Monday but here’s a little preview…

Layer 1:

Layer 2:

Layer 3:

I hope everyone likes them! I’ll be sure to report back! Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Questions:

-What’s your favorite healthy thing to make?

-What’s your favorite decadent recipe to make?

-Any Superbowl Sunday plans?