Thanksgiving recipe round-up

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You’re in luck!! I’m sharing the Thanksgiving recipe round up I shared with my newsletter friends.

Side note: If you’re not signed up for my newsletter, you’re missing out. Sign-up here.

I wanna know, do you brave the grocery store crowds a week before thanksgiving to grab all of the accouterments for your turkey dinner or are you the procrastinating type to wait until the day before, or the heaven forbid, the morning of?

If you’re in the latter camp or simply need inspiration for the items you have in your fridge, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite recipes around the interwebs for you.

You’re on your own for the turkey though. Since I’ve never made one, I don’t feel like I should be giving advice. If it’s anything like the whole roasted chicken I make every week, I suggest using more salt than you feel comfortable with! It makes for a tasty bird!

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Tell me, do you have a Thanksgiving family tradition?

Our Portuguese tradition is to enjoy a breakfast of carne vinho d’alhos, poached eggs, Grandma’s Portuguese bread, sliced pineapple and a shot of gin to get that blood flowing first thing in the morning.

Cheers to gratitude, to tasty food, to health and wellness, and to family and friends!

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

The top 10 ways to benefit from connecting IRL.

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The heat of the sun on your back.

The fresh air in your lungs.

The impeccable views and sounds of nature and life buzzing around.

Whether I’m out in the great outdoors on an inspiring hike, dipping my toes in the sea, on a run into town (typically pushing a stroller with over-sized children in it), or even simply sitting on the outside patio at my local coffee shop, there is something about getting out of the house and feeling the energy around you.

However, all to often I’m a homebody.

Sure, there’s the laundry to do, the dishes to wash, the floors to clean, the piles of school artwork to recycle, the side hustle to grind through, yet sifting through those I find excuses for not wanting to put on real clothes and leave the house.

There is a time and place for comfort, yet we need to create the space to get out and connect, both with nature and with other human beings!

In a recent newsletter (you can sign-up on my website) I sent to my health coaching clients, I discussed the four pillars of health:

  • Sleep

  • Nutrition

  • Exercise

  • Connection

Today I want to focus on connection.

We so often dismiss it as a necessary element in our overall health; much like sleep, we’re fooled by the illusion that we don’t need it to thrive.

Numerous studies have shown that a lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.

Time and time again, it’s been proven that social connection improves physical health and mental and emotional well-being. When a strong social connection is maintained, we:

  • increased chance of longevity by 50%

  • strengthen our immune system

  • recover from disease faster

Brene Brown, has said, “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”

Regardless of what where you fall within the spectrum of introvert or extrovert, we are made to connect. We are social creatures by nature.

Shiny objects tend to lure us, deceiving us into believing the fancy cars, the money, the power, the big homes and lavish vacations will fulfill us. While those objects aren’t inherently bad, we need to be conscious of how we’re using them to make us feel. This also tends to flesh itself out in the way we treat our body – whether we binge on food or starve ourselves or put up silly boundaries around the “good” and “bad” foods we eat, even over exercising to make an amends for one thing or another. In the end, all of this will disappoint us.

All along we’ve been looking for meaningful connections - relationships.

It is a fundamental human need to belong, to be accepted, and loved.

You are not too sensitive or too much to want these things. They are good, natural desires!

In fact, people who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteemgreater empathy, are more trusting and cooperative and, therefore, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them.

Those are all wonderful benefits of being connected! No one should ever dismiss the power of a hug, a phone call, a date, or even a simple touch, let alone these desires.

They are good, healthy feelings.

Being present and making time for those you care about is not hard, rather putting the effort in to create the time and space can be difficult in today’s culture of finding pride in our busy-ness and independence.

Some practical tips to connect:

  1. say hello or smile at a stranger

  2. Go to local farmers market and talk to the vendors. I’ve heard the best stories from our smoked salmon vendor. As an ex-Marine World whale trainer, he has a bounty of stories to share of the tricks the whales would play on the trainers. You don’t have to spend countless hours with these people, but a weekly hello and five minute conversation reaps massive connection rewards. You feel known AND you’ve learned a thing or two.

  3. Make time with a friend (spontaneous, last minute calls are fine!) to go for a 20-minute walk or have a quick dinner.

  4. Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.

  5. Turn your phone off and talk to your family after dinner.

  6. Read a book with your kids or spouse.

  7. Go for a hike and eavesdrop on the conversations – both those nature provides as well as the other hikers!

  8. Invite your neighbors over for a seasonal treat.

  9. Grab a coworker and buy them an afternoon drink.

  10. Make small talk with anyone helping you – the cashier at the grocery store or at the coffee shop, your waitress, your kid’s teacher, the person in line behind you, etc.

These are just a few to get you started. How do you like to connect?

P.S. Don’t Google “ideas how to connect.” The only options it offers are troubleshooting tips to connect to the internet. That’s not what we’re going for here!

Do you have eyes and arms?

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Ten years ago, while out on a date at a Tavolata, Ethan Stowell’s deliciously, fancy Italian restaurant in Belltown, we delved into the topic of physical traits we were drawn to. Joking I said, “eyes and arms.” It was a quick, flippant comment, with some actual depth behind it. 

Let me explain.

Yes, I would prefer my significant other to have a pair of eyes and two functional arms, but all joking aside, it is these physical body parts that give me a sneak peek into the person they belong to.

Eyes.

Eyes hold so much truth and personality. Personally, I want to look at someone with kind eyes; someone who will listen not only with their ears but with their eyes. Intention – whether kind or malicious – can be seen in someone’s eyes. Quite simply, when in fear, when in love, when in distress, when simply needing a hug, I want someone to look me in the eye and with a single glance confirm, ‘all is well, whether I understand you completely or not, I’ve got your back.’ In the same vain, I want someone to look me in the eye when I’m out of line and lovingly tell me to redirect my gaze to a better path.

Arms.

Similar to eyes, arms are important in the sense of comfort. I want a hand to hold and a hug that means business. No sloppy, loosey-goose hugs for me. Bring you’re A-game, dude!

Charlotte, the genius eight-legged star of Charlotte’s Web explained, “With the right words, you can change the world.”

Yes, words, whether spoken out loud or repeated in our minds, are crucial, but so are our actions.

With children, as I realized this morning while cuddling my gangling 5-year old back to sleep at 5:30 a.m., I value the same traits in them as I do in a significant other. As their mother, I’m confident they look for the same thing in me: comfort, safety, truth, eye-to-eye contact when both right and wrong, and strong arms to embrace them when scared, mad, tired, or sad…or just because.

I love the book Hug Time for that very reason.

“The world is so big and yet so small. It’s time that we embrace it all. That’s something that we all can do. Start with the one closest to you.”

I realize this is a silly, simple post, but.....

If I need to remind myself after four, quiet (and selfish) days without my children, that we all need some love; that along with the sappy, mind-blowing moments, there will be the opposite extreme of disobedience, whininess, and 1am wake up calls because a finger hurts, I figured I wasn’t alone.

Perhaps you needed to be reminded that a gentle, thoughtful touch, or a simple glance that says ‘I forgive you, I really like you’ is always in fashion….and always welcomed. Perhaps this is a reminder to be abundantly grateful for the sweet moments, but not sideswiped and discouraged by the darker opposites.

Let this be the reminder to hug those you love…a little longer, a little tighter. To look them in the eye and say what you need to say, hopefully in love and not selfish gain. To see them for who they are, not someone you want them to be. To accept the good, with the not so good.

 

No recipe.

No nutrition advice.

No health and beauty tip.

Simply a request to choose. To make the choice, which you’ve always had, to love well today.

 

Tell me, are you a hugger? A hand holder? An eyes and arms kind of person? Or is physical touch and quality time, not your thing?

                                          

I was simply heartbroken.


 Seven!

Seven!


July is birthday month around here.

My wee Samurai kicks us off on the 1st, followed by her older sister's birthday on the 3rd. You can only imagine how that goes down. Your little sister has her birthday first and the day between feels like an effing eternity, so tantruming it out is the best thing to do. But I digress.

A hefty handful of family birthday's follow, not to mention the good ol' 4th of July. Needless to say there is a lot of celebrating going on.

Despite having an uncanny memory for anyone and everyone's birthday, birthdays were never my thing. Or perhaps it's because gifts are not my love language. Similar to Christmas there is too much pressure, and quite honestly, I prefer experiences - quality time with my favorite people, a hike, a picnic, a fancy dinner, a flight to Greece - over some gift you felt pressured to give me. 

Gift giving, is also a struggle. I'm happy to give the gift of a delicious meal I prepared, or packing your bags for a surprise trip, or buying you a book to read while sitting next to me in quiet. Beyond that, I'm left dumbfounded.

As I write this, I sit in the still aftermath of a giddy pool party, the last installment of birthday week. I take that back, I had to take a nap after everyone left. I was toast. 

Leading up to July, the wonder and excitement of my girls is rather contagious: the counting down of days, the crossing off each calendar square with a monster, unruly "X," and wide-eyes as we discuss birthday plans. It's endearing. Simple pure joy. 

But let's be honest, for the parent, back to back birthdays, especially for competitive sisters, is challenging.

The Samurai was totally down with visiting the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield. Ironically as it sounds being a nutrition coach, I recommend the trip out there. Perhaps not on a weekend since you won't see any live jelly belly action in the factory, but regardless, the tour is still a good time. I even tried a few flavors and enjoyed them; coconut and strawberry jam topped my list. Shocking because for most of my life I thought jelly beans were the worst candy ever made.

Not quite sugared out, more treats ensued as we rounded out her day at Pressed Juicery for a soft serve dessert. At least I didn't feel bad about this dessert since it's made with dates and almonds.

  Her requested birthday dessert at Pressed

Her requested birthday dessert at Pressed

Soon enough Charlie Bear's birthday arrived. Thank goodness! Having taken the day off, I was intent on spending some one-on-one time with my 7-year old! She aches for quality time and we simply don't have enough of it. Truth be told, that one-on-one time with my children is pure gold. No rivalry, no bickering, only their sweet souls in pure bliss with all of the attention.

We chatted over a steamer and matcha, we hugged, we held hands, we did our own business (a little bit of work for me and for her, a puzzle) at home, until we picked up Sam from school to have a picnic before heading out to the Oakland zoo. In the blazing July, afternoon sun, we had our fill of animals, carousels, and even a rollercoaster before heading home. 

To make it fair, since her sister had a treat even after the Jelly Belly factory, we stopped for her requested bubble tea at Mr. Green Bubble. Dessert before dinner? Only on your birthday lady! However, being a Tuesday, which meant TACOS, it was imperative not to get full!

I spell all of this out because the heartbreaking moment came after dinner, after this full day of fun, love, and splurging.

I can't even recall what started it, but I found myself with a screaming 7-year old telling me I was the worst. Words loosely falling out of her mouth as she stomped up the stairs, declaring that no one liked her. 

Perplexed, I tried to name off all of the amazing things we did that day; that I did out of love.

I tell ya, 7:45 - 8:15pm in our household, is a witching hour.

By that time of day, we've held it together for so long that we fall apart. Our brains want to shut off. We're physically and mentally done, yet still awake. We're tired but before we manage to climb in to bed and keep our mouths shut, we turn into reactive, ugly creatures. It's so common it's nearly become a terrible habit I'm aware I need to stop. 

Sigh!

Once we were able to regain control, which involved a hug - one that can take up to 20 minutes to receive because we're all to stubborn to initiate - we chatted and the statement that broke this mama's heart was:

"I don't think I'm important to you."

Talk about a punch to the gut. 

Immediately tears streamed down my face and thoughts raced: How can she articulate this thought already? Where did I fail her? Why does she feel this?

Her caring nature took over as she wiped my tears and told me I didn't need to cry. 

I never thought I would hear those words being uttered from either of my babes mouths. 

Oh how my heart aches for more freedom. Time with my children that isn't wrought with stress as we race from school or an activity, or chores, or meal prep, or time management of this and that.

I don't accept that this is the only reality of motherhood, of being an adult. 

My heart aches for my children to know they are wholly and beautifully loved, even in their imperfect, fumbling messes of childhood. 

My heart aches for them to enjoy these moments, to know the tension of joy and disappointment, yet still be content.

My heart aches for them slow down, to not be in a hurry to grow up.

I have no solid conclusion. 

I'm still coming to terms with the fact that my babies are no longer babies. Their gangly arms and legs are awkward to carry. Their understanding of the world is expanding. They're more independent, but still need me. It's a transition for all of us. 

The only real conclusion is that part of me is glad birthday week is over. The pressure is off for another year, when I'm certain I'll be in shock again at how fast a year flies.

Another conclusion is that by actively working to change our situation - so that we don't get sucked into the time and stress conundrum - by this time next year, we won't have a repeat. 

I get it, it's hard to treasure the mundane moments or even be fully present through dinner conversations as my mind races and scans all the things that need to be done against the racing clock. 

But like we did that night after hugging it out, and again, for the thousandth time, confirming how important she truly was to me, we read a book together. A birthday gift, A Tree for Peter, I think is going to be a really special book for us. We alternated between reading until both little ones drifted off to sleep on either side of me. 

It's these moments I treasure above all. It's these gifts of their lives, of their thoughts, of our time together, reading, even drooling on me as they sleep, that are the best gifts a mama can receive on their birthday - a day that forever changed my life.

  seem like yesterday we were celebrating her 1st birthday and refusing to let her eat ALL of the chocolate cake

seem like yesterday we were celebrating her 1st birthday and refusing to let her eat ALL of the chocolate cake

Can anyone relate? 

Eat your veggies! Another recipe to help fulfill your veggie quota.

I get asked these questions all the time:

  1. How do I get my kids to eat veggies?

  2. How do I get my kids to lay off XYZ?

  3. How do I make healthy meals that everyone will eat?

 

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You can see my previous post that addresses some of these items.

But let’s start from the top and break it down.

First and foremost, you know yourself and your family best.

You know your time commitments or what you’re willing to do to make healthy cooking and eating a priority.

These values are the foundation we need to establish. Simply ask yourself:

  1. Do I have time to meal prep?

  2. Do I even want to meal prep?

  3. Would I benefit from meal prepping?

  4. What is my definition of health?

  5. What am I willing to sacrifice to be healthy?

Answer these questions and you’ll free yourself from any guilt you may have around not having it all together, in addition to understanding the parameters you’re working with to establish a new routine.

If the answer is Yes to most of these questions, let’s begin…..

Stock up on the items y’all love and don’t mind eating on repeat. These may include:

  • Chicken

  • Fish

  • Ground beef or steak

  • Veggies

  • Fruit

  • Eggs

  • Butter

  • Jerky

  • Salad fixings

  • Smoothie fixings

  • Avocados

  • Frozen fruit and veggies

     

    Come meal prep time, simply cook more!

    Heat up the grill and grill chicken, flank steak, portobello mushrooms and onions, a salmon filet, foil wrapped asparagus, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers.

Don’t have a grill?

  

Roast a whole chicken in your oven alongside roasted beets, fennel, and sweet potato. Perhaps even some egg muffins. Or simply make some hard-boiled eggs for on the go protein.

Take that chicken carcass and throw it on your instant pot to make broth, to either sip throughout the week or to make a carrot ginger or minestrone soup (see post from June 14th).

 

Not into meal planning?

That’s ok!

Buy a rotisserie chicken, or easy to heat meals such as frozen items from Trader Joe’s, or use a meal planning program such as Good Eggs, Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Acme Farms & Kitchen, or even Uber Eats.

What about hiding those veggies?

Smoothies, soup, scrambles, meatballs, and even chocolate pudding are an incredibly easy and tasty way to get your kids to eat their greens.

These combinations allow you to pack a punch with nutrient dense veggies, with little to no acknowledgement they’re even there. When my kids regularly ask for these meals or treats, I secretly smile knowing all the goodness hiding behind the yum factor.

For example, this meatball recipe was a hit this past week. I typically do some combo of meat and veggies for meatballs, but this time I added some green curry powder and it was fantastic. Delicious and happily devoured even when cold!!!!

Curried Meatballs
 

Ingredients

4 mushrooms

½ an onion

3 garlic cloves

1 tbsp butter, ghee, or coconut oil

3 carrots

1 tbsp curry

1 lb ground meat

Directions

Preheat oven to 400

Over medium heat, melt fat of choice and sauté mushrooms, onions and 1 clove garlic for about 10 minutes and let cool.

In food processor chop 3 carrots, 2 cloves of garlic and 1 tbsp curry powder.

When the mushroom mix has cooled, add to food processor and mix lightly.

Add 1-pound ground meat and blend again until just mixed. You want to still be acble to see chunks of carrots!

Bake for 30 min.

We ate these babies in a variety of ways, but like most protein in my life it ends up in a salad. Have fun and get creative with how you dish them up. Or simply eat them plain, they're that good!

 

P.S. I also can’t say enough about organifi. On those days when you feel you’re not hitting your green quota, reach for this dried Superfood Greens Powder. (I'm not an affiliate, just love the stuff!)

 

Since I have your attention, humor me two more minutes!

As most of you know, I still take part in the 9-5 hamster wheel as a Marketing coordinator for an engineering firm.

To rewind the scene, I’m taking you back to summer of 2003.

Fresh out of college and totally green, I began my career. It was unrealistically easy to get this job. For one of my journalism classes I interviewed an architecture firm, and in turn, they offered me a job. Yeah, ok!

The thing is, they weren’t sure what to do with me. My beloved, quirky Marketing Manager had worked for a number year on her own. Having this young, naïve person in her space, though there to help, was challenging. As a dog lover, she treated me like a puppy. Are you hungry? Should we go for a walk? She was hesitant, unsure, grateful but inexperienced as a leader.

Yesterday my Marketing Assistant joined our crew. Though younger than my original counterpart, I find myself in a similar position. Judging myself as her mentor and leader, judging her as being a new graduate. How much hand holding do I offer? How much do I share? How much does she care? I have two kids. She’s young, free, and grappling with her new-found home in California, as a new graduate, living with her boyfriend and working in San Francisco. Suddenly I feel old. Disregard the number of years, so many life experiences, separate us.

But I was once her.

I had the boyfriend, the new job, the excitement of years before me. Nothing but money and time to burn, and travel adventures to be had.

As a mother, I tenderly look at her and I wonder if she knows what she’s getting herself into. I wonder if this is her dream or just a stepping stone. I wonder, I wonder, I wonder……

And then I’m grateful for the chance to intersect into her life to mentor her. It will take time, as all things do, but I‘m sure we’ll learn from each other.

Perspective is funny like that, and life never fails to come full circle.

Susie, I get it now….

 

Five ways to feed the little people in your life

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If you’re a parent, you know the struggle that exists around mealtime - multiple snacks, every hour it seems, if your children are anything like mine.

Despite your greatest efforts, does convenience allure you, convincing you to purchase the bright-colored, health-touting packaged food items at the grocery store?

It doesn’t have to be that way!

As a parent, I’m all too familiar with the day-to-day stress, hangry kids, and too much to do in too little time. Stressing about how to nourish not only my body, but these growing children, should  not be a burden, but rather an empowering choice of health. There is freedom in creating routines and committing to discipline. Your health and the daily meal times are no exception. 

Since feeding our family does not need to be difficult, you may wonder where to begin.

Let’s start with a few basics that are good for you and your littles:

1. Be a healthy model

Make mealtimes fun by setting a good, healthy example - eat your veggies and try new foods. Nosh on sauerkraut with your breakfast sausage; wrap a big, leafy green around a piece of chicken; sauté green apples in coconut oil or ghee and sprinkle with cinnamon for dessert (it tastes like apple pie, folks!).

The more your kids see you enjoying healthy meals, the more they will want to join you. If your kids lean toward the picky side, hiding veggies in meatballs or egg muffins is a great tool to have under your belt. Also, make sure they know you’re not their personal chef; cook meals for the family not for each individual person.

 

2. Include protein with every snack or meal

Since protein is satiating, be sure to add protein to every meal or snack. Include hard-boiled eggs or egg muffins, sugar free deli meat or protein-laden leftovers, whole-milk yogurt or chia seed pudding, sugar free jerky or smoothies with collagen.

 

3. Involve your kids

You might think taking your kids to the grocery store or having them help in the kitchen is a nightmare waiting to crash and burn on your family dreams. On the other hand, if you preface the outing as a treasure hunt allowing them to pick out healthy items, such as 2 - 3 vegetables or fruit they will eat during the week, you may have success.

Including your children in the kitchen with meal planning, cooking a meal – if old enough – or simply letting younger kids stir in some spices while you’re preparing dinner, encourages them to try new flavors and makes them curious about all the combinations they could create . Better yet, planting a garden with seeds your kids pick out and watching your garden grow, takes the learning experience to yet another level.

Regardless of whichever approach you take, exposing your kids to whole, nutrient dense foods and including them in decisions will get them excited about buying, preparing, and eating real food.

 

4. Utilize dips for healthy fats

If you have a picky eater, including some dips might be the game changer. With a dollop of almond butter, any green apple or banana gets an extra kick. Use avocado or guacamole, along with kalamata olives to spice up carrots, cucumbers, celery sticks, and other veggie slices. Drizzle warmed coconut butter and cinnamon on a mashed sweet potato.

 

5. How much to eat

It takes a sufficient amount of energy to swim, have dance parties, and jump on the bed. In general, children have no limits when it comes to eating whole, real food. They also eat more often for a good reason – their minds and bodies are growing. While high-quality (ideally grass-fed, organic) proteins, healthy fats and nutrient dense carbohydrates are good for all of us, for kids, extra carbohydrates in the form of starchy vegetables and fruit, are important.

 

Keep it simple with these snacks:

raw

Apples
Bananas
Berries
Carrots

Cucumber

Grapefruit

Grapes

Kiwi
Tomato
Zucchini noodles

  

roasted

Asparagus

Beets
Broccoli

Carrots

Delicata squash

Parsnips

Zucchini slices

  • Coconut butter stuffed Dates

  • Banana and almond butter sandwiches

  • Whole Milk, grass-fed yogurt (with a dollop of raw, organic honey)

  • Avocado with salt

  • Egg muffins or crustless quiche

  • Hard-boiled eggs

  • Chocolate Pudding (made with avocado and coconut milk)

 

When convenience reigns, these packaged items are, well, convenient:

  • Sausage (we like applegate or aidells)

  • Deli meat (we like applegate)

  • Plantain chips

  • Trader Joe's Apple Fruit Bars

  • Larabars or Kit’s Organic fruit and nut bar (Clif Bar)

  • Epic bars and bites

  • Chomps

  • Applesauce packets

  • Individually packaged nuts

  • Siete chips

  • RX bars

 

So far this has worked for me. My kids are adventurous eaters, love helping in the kitchen and honestly don't know how spoiled they are when it comes to the delicious food I feed them. Now if only I could get them to do more chores!

What other tips do you have? Want some of these recipes?

What trip makes the best Spring Break?


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From the desert to the ocean, we chased one sunny adventure after another on our Spring Break.

We began our trip in the wee hours at the Oakland airport, where we were welcomed with a short security line, and a pleasant gift of Peet’s Coffee from a fellow mother who obviously recognized my valiant effort of traveling alone with young kids! Coincidentally, she was traveling with her grown daughter to San Diego to look at colleges.

Sidenote: I feel like this day will be here sooner than I want! Please time, slow down!

Shortly thereafter, and eager to get the party started, we boarded at Southwest Gate 23, where the pilots gave my girls 15-seconds of fame by inviting them to “fly” the plane. Let’s be honest, sitting in the cockpit when you’re under 8 years old is like winning the lottery.

But let’s back up a hot second to the gear we were carrying aboard.

Once you become a parent you realize your life will never be the same. Not only will you always have a little sidekick, but you will also be the proud owner of a bazillion pieces of, sometimes unnecessary, paraphernalia.

Especially when it comes to traveling.

I like to keep it minimal, especially since it’s only me that will be doing the heavy lifting, but traveling with kids requires some strategy and superfluous goods. 

For Easter, the girls were gifted hatchimals, a cute bunny purse with a couple of dollars tucked inside, and a personalized Spring Break adventure journal. These items were not so neatly thrown into their backpacks (I’m realizing more and more how much it’s up to me to teach these children of mine to NEATLY put things where they belong!) along with the snacks they had picked out: epic bars, Thrive market jerky, Rx bars, larabars, olives, dried mango, cuties, and some foursigmatic elixirs (which were more for me!)

 Snack attack - bags loaded and ready!

Snack attack - bags loaded and ready!

 

Charlie had a few books, and Sam had me for her entertainment. The iPad was charged and ready, if needed. However, I try not to rely on it and have them use their imagination before turning on screens.

Landing in Ontario, we grabbed our rental car (which wasn’t that simple, but I’ll save you from that debacle), downloaded The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett to listen to on audible, and off we went for the hour and a half drive to Joshua Tree.

Arriving hungry, we promptly bought some smoothies to cool down and fuel up for the rocky afternoon.

Stopping at The Natural Sisters Café, the girls decisively chose the Killer Bee smoothie (more for the fun name than the ingredients) and I, wanting some greens, picked the What the Kale smoothie. Both were delicious! Despite being surrounded by mile high, veggie packed plates of food other diners were enjoying, we drank our smoothies and selected somethng to munch on from the plethora of goodies out of our snack bag, such as the Manzanilla olives from Trader Joes.

I highly recommend this small pit stop to stock on snacks, or to sit down and enjoy the people watching.

 Smoothies at The Natural Sisters Cafe

Smoothies at The Natural Sisters Cafe

The girls slurped and munched, while I wondered how the rest of the day was going to unfold. The older I get the more I try to practice the power of now - of being intentionally present - but sometimes that mama brain kicks in and various scenarios begin to unravel in my mind.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect.

Our glamping trip to Yosemite last summer was simply bearable.

While I never regret getting out into nature, like most solo parenting, your limit of directing, disciplining, and sometimes simply talking, approaches sooner than typical.

Plan and simple, our trip to Yosemite needed two adults to make it work comfortably. We had glimpses of fun, but it was difficult with big emotions and four little legs that didn’t care to walk.

With this as my foundation to work with, I was a little nervous to venture out into the desert with creepy, crawly critters and only hard, dangerous surfaces to climb. This wasn’t your everyday Gymboree class folks!

But like most things, I nearly always opt to brave the adventure. One way or another we were going to have a good story to tell.

At the Joshua Tree visitor center on Park Boulevard, I introduced the girls to the animals and vegetation they were about to experience, grabbed our junior ranger guides, a few $1 bottles of water, and off we went.

Once we paid our $25 pass fee, all plans I had researched went out the window. After a morning of planes trains and automobiles, we jumped out at the first outcropping of rocks. I’ve never seen my girls so excited - they jumped out of the car, ran as fast as they could, and went for it.

Let’s be honest, no one needs instructions to boulder.

It’s only natural to start climbing and aim for the tippy top, as they did. Yet somehow I wasn’t prepared for that.

After all, they’re 4 and 6.

There’s two of them and one of me.

The rocks are not forgiving.

My joyous heart was so proud of them for enjoying themselves and being brave, but it was also in tension with the thought, “Oh shit, they could actually get really hurt up here!”

Thankfully their own defenses restrained them and they were cautious enough.

As beads of sweat culminated on our brow, we eagerly climbed, spotted many of lizards including a huge chuckwalla, pounded the water (note: bring more than you think you’ll need!), and pretended to be queens of the world when we were perched high, looking out above the surreal desert floor.

Sheer gratitude set in, and my heart was so happy! How long had it been since I had been on vacation with these two? Since we took time out of the everyday grind of work, school, laundry and go, go, go?

Simply too long.

It’s sad to say, but sometimes it takes vacations to recapture the wonder and beauty of your family!

Regardless, it was glorious.

 Charlie Bear spotted this Chuckwalla for us!

Charlie Bear spotted this Chuckwalla for us!

JT2.jpg
JT4.jpg

 

Getting back to the plan though. I had only allotted two days in Joshua Tree, so off we continued to Skull Rock, to work our way backwards to the entrance.

At this point though, a certain 4-year old was hitting her witching hour.

“Carry me”

“I need more water”

“It’s too hot”

“I have to pee.”

“I don’t want to do this.”

We tried to muster up enough excitement to explore Skull Rock: we crawled through caves, climbed to dead ends, and bumped this rock and that rock. But the hot afternoon sun wasn’t doing us any favors. We were running on fumes.

We returned to town to rest our weary heads for a millisecond before heading out for dinner. I found us a little Airbnb within 2 miles of the main strip of Joshua Tree that was just the right size for us. It didn’t have a kitchen but I figured we could go without for one night.

This meant a dinner date, and I had heard rave reviews for Pie for the People. At only 5:30, off we went.

First of all, I can’t remember the last time I had pizza, and second, who were we, eating a dinner so early?

Well, we weren’t the only ones. The line was already out the door when we arrived, which was a good sign.

And needless to say, their gluten free pizza rocked. As did the Greek salad, even though it didn’t have cucumbers! Next time I’ll order two pizzas and my own salad though. These girls can eat!

All attempts to convince the girls to watch the sunset in the park failed. C'mon, who was I going to tell if they stayed up past their bedtime? Yet as it usually does, the whining won and I succumbed and I took my party poopers home!

Thankfully National Park passes are good for 7 days, so we went back for a quick rendezvous the next morning, after a healthy and bountiful breakfast at Crossroads Café, another joint I highly recommend.

I’ve been known for tornado style road trips, and this was one of them. Our next destination: San Diego!

However, the three hour jaunt south only felt long the last hour in the car when I was ready to eat and move my legs. We owe it to our fine Taylor Swift sing-a-long for our mighty survival, albeit arriving hungry!

There’s no shortage of excellent eateries in San Diego, but we were hungry and as we edged closer to the San Diego city limits, everyone had different opinions as to what they wanted to eat. My mama superpowers hedged bets that Tender Greens would appease even the pickiest of eaters.

Off to La Jolla we went.

With full bellies we meandered around the mall and read some books at the amazon bookstore. Despite it being a bit overcast and most definitely cooler than Joshua Tree, my antsy legs and tired butt couldn’t keep myself or these girls in the car for much longer. We opted for a round of miniature golf.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, not realizing this would only be their second time playing. They HAD NO CLUE how to do it.

Remember what I said about having to teach your children EVERYTHING?

 Not quite getting the hang of it!

Not quite getting the hang of it!

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Was this hilarious or absolutely the most painful hour of my life?

We may have lost two golf balls in the process, but we completed the course! Praise the Lord!

Seeing that we were staying with my stellar friend, Erin, whom I’ve known since 6th grade, we hit up Trader Joes for easy dinner fixings and a bottle of wine. While she may not appreciate her doorbell ringing when you come to town, her company, as well as her dog Captain, are top notch. If you opt for an Airbnb, with a kitchen, I recommend finding the closest Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods to cook up a good meal like you would at home.

For us, dinner on the patio, with wine in hand, included spaghetti squash with a tomato meat sauce (sautéed ground beef smothered in your preferred sugar-free tomato sauce), and a side salad with easy toppings like artichoke hearts, olives, tomatoes, and avocado.

Our hearts were happy, full, and tired!

The adventures didn’t stop there though! Isn’t Spring Break just the greatest!

Now Thursday, and more than pleased to take on the mothering role, I whipped up some scrambled eggs featuring some leftover tomato sauce, warmed up some water for coffee, and sent Erin on her way to work with a nice breakfast in her bag. Making sure Captain had done his business, we were on our way as well!

Gosh, I miss being a SAHM and making sure everyone is taken care of! But I digress…..

By now the girls were ready for their second breakfast and I wanted to see some architecture!

Did you know that I studied architecture, and my first job out of college was with Miller Hull? Yep!

Somehow I had forgotten about their work on Point Loma, so we went in that direction making a pit-stop at Liberty Public Market for snacks, which was sadly closed. Thankfully the beautiful Moniker is next door. We chose to grab a matcha (for me) and cinnamon almond milk steamers for the littles before continuing on, checking our adventures off of the list.

The Wharf at Point Loma. Check!

The San Diego Zoo - ALL DAY LONG! Check!

 Monkeying around at the zoo!

Monkeying around at the zoo!

Sadly Friday was our last day there, and it came all too soon.

We said goodbye to Erin, and Captain, and meandered ever so slowly to Mission Beach to meet up with my cousins, who also happened to be vacationing in SD.  

For the next couple of hours we basked in the glorious sunshine, caught up on life, attempted boogie boarding, dug for sand dollars, and of course snacked. Our snack game was still going strong! But so was my sunburn. Why is that I remember to apply sunscreen to my children but forget about my exposed, paler skin. Where’s my mom when I need her?

With the polar opposite weather up north in the Bay Area, where it was complete downpour and storms, we were fortunate to stay a couple of extra hours due to a delayed flight.

Out of the goodness of their heart or my super negotiating skills, we managed to keep our rental car without paying more. We took advantage and took in the sights, sounds, and smells of Balboa Park. If I lived here I think I’d wander through the park every day, there’s just something about it!

Yet even with a delayed flight, the minutes quickly passed and like that, our trip was coming to an end. Back to reality, and the very wet Bay Area we went. Spring Break 2018 was over.

We not only survived the very few meltdowns and new environments, we made some very special memories that I hope my girls treasure and recreate with their families someday.

Until next time San Diego….


It's not obvious but click the name of the place, snack item, or book below to find out more information.

Joshua Tree restaurants:

The Natural Sisters Café

Pie for the People

Crossroads Café

Joshua Tree Coffee Company

 

San Diego family friendly, healthy restaurants...and a place to get healthy:

Tender Greens

True Food

UTC Dining Options

CrossFit Invictus (my favorite gym!)

 

Airbnb:

EchoLove Casita with Glenn

 

Essentials:

Snacks

epic bars and bites

larabars

RX bars

Thrive market jerky

Fruit

Veggies

Foursigmatic Elixirs

Water

 

Entertainment

Coloring paper and crayon or pencils

Ipad

books

Binoculars

Camera

Magnifying glass

 

Personal Items

Sunscreen

 

Books I brought but didn’t touch:

Miracles Now

How to win friends and influence people

The Circle Maker



 

WEDNESDAY WISDOM: Step One.


Now this is the story all about how
My life got flipped, turned upside down
And I'd like to take a minute just sit right there
I'll tell you how I became the paleo queen of my home affairs


Long story, not-so-short:

Like a lot of people, I first got into nutrition by healing my own body. You can read more about it on my website.

Around the same time, I married into a CrossFit gym, and was introduced to what seemed like the wacky world of paleo. I was already gluten free but this was no doubt taking it up a notch. I turned into the friend who made raw brownies (aka larabar bites since desserts were off limits), made every meat dish under the sun, used my crockpot to make the spiciest adobo ever, and basically spent all of my time looking up recipes. Sadly, it was the early 2000's and Pinterest was not a thing back then! Shocking, I know!

And by the way, I was not a good cook….yet!

Most of the time I got the evil eye because I turned into that friend who made social gatherings awkward when it came to food.

Ultimately my fascination with paleo and continuing my journey of healing my body through food, included my vision to step up my involvement at the gym by creating create a nutrition program to coincide with the intense training of these beasts. I also wanted to become a better chef. These interwoven aspirations spurred my pursuit of going back to school for nutritional studies, or naturopathy, or Chinese medicine, or holistic cooking.

Side note, sometimes I can be really indecisive!

While I knew a fair bit from my own studies, my intention and dream was to go to Bastyr. After attending an info night, going on a tour, and sitting on the shores of Lake Washington to pray about it, I felt certain this was the road to take. I truly felt like the world was my oyster.

And yes, I’m a total nerd and LOVE school.

After a quarter of prerequisites in the books, I got pregnant with my first daughter. Working full-time, going to school part-time, and being pregnant, was interesting. When the fatigue hit and I’d fall asleep mid-sentence of a conversation, I decided something had to give, and my dream got derailed….for a bit.

Funny how life throws you curve balls once you think you’ve figured it all out!

Then one day, now with babe in arms, I picked up a little book called Practical Paleo at Costco.  Or perhaps I ordered it from Prime, charging it to the business! At this point mom brain has set in and the timeline gets a little fuzzy!

This not so little book, in case you’re not familiar with it, is essentially the Paleo gospel. Every ailment is addressed, from adrenal health to thyroid health – with a meal plan; to how to live a paleo lifestyle – from getting started to eating out to getting your friends on board; to healing digestion to managing stress. The 470 page book truly covers it all.

I was a quick fan.

Since Practical Paleo was such an inspiration to me, I later, nearly a year post-partum after my second daughter, decided to try my first 21-Day Sugar Detox (21DSD).  Although I only did Level 1 (Elleno’s guava greek yogurt was too hard to give up, and I may have slipped in a bag of popcorn along the way), I was amazed when I noticed my abs making an appearance.

Please believe me when I say it’s not about the aesthetics of my body, but the sheer excitement of how simple shifts (um, wasn’t I already eating clean paleo?), made such a difference.

Needless to say, Diane Sanfilippo became my kitchen buddy and guru.

When she launched her 21-Day Sugar Detox beta coaching group, I was naturally curious. I was a SAHM, now with two daughters, and it was nearly 4 years between when I took the first step toward my nutrition education, with nothing to prove for it.

At this point there were so many more options to choose between. NTA was just starting, IIN was big, Bastyr was still there, FDN was gaining traction, and on and on. I felt overwhelmed with the different avenues, time and financial commitments. Did I already mention I was indecisive?

The 21-Day Sugar Detox Coaches group felt like a happy medium – and an easier commitment for my little family to swallow. It was a platform in which I could get my feet wet, have the structure and support I needed, while shedding the fears and doubts of starting a business from the ground up.

Since I was already helping other mamas sort out what the heck to feed their kids, meal prep, and navigate their grocery store outings, I jumped into the 21DSD beta group.

Now let me get one thing straight - I’m not one for doing one thing at a time. Once I decided to join the beta group, I also started studying with Precision Nutrition (which I’m now certified in) and continued cooking for the frozen paleo meal service I started for some clients at the gym. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I started that a few months prior when a coach persuaded me to help his client dial in his food. Eeek!

It was a slow start but I have fond memories studying my Precision Nutrition, the more science heavy chapters, and listening to the 21DSD coaching calls at the South lake Union Whole Foods, or while slurping up pho on wet PNW nights, and while drinking chai at Uptown Espresso in Belltown.

I have visceral memories of these Wednesday nights, which was my “night off” as a mom and wife. As I pursued these things that fed my mind and future, they quickly became my favorite evenings around town.

And of course during all of this, I was raising two babies, battling infidelity in my marriage, and trying to figure out what the hell to do with my life!

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s NEVER a perfect time for anything.

There’s no doubt about it, with what you have at any given moment, make the wisest decision you can. But remember, you have the power to course correct at any time. Life is about constant change; and life rarely unfolds as well as you expect or plan for.

Now, nearly four years later (if you haven’t noticed TIME FLIES!):

  • I’m divorced.
  • I’m living in the Bay Area.
  • I’m Precision Nutrition Certified.
  • I’m still a 21DSD coach.
  • I have a nutrition coaching business.
  • I'm a Beautycounter Educator and mentor
  • I also have a FT marketing job.
  • I solo parent – making all the lunches, doing all of the laundry, meal prepping, and cleaning all of the toilets!

And somehow, I make it work. Even on the days when too many people comment, “I don’t know how you do it all,” and I want to slap them in the face - seriously, this comment is not helpful and really, what kind of answer are you trying to elicit? – we survive.

This not the end game.

Sure, everything takes longer than I expect. I’m tired. I don’t get to read as much as I desire. My house never stays clean as long as I’d want it to. Nor do I don’t exercise as long or hard as I’d like to.

But hope remains!

I know this is only a season.

Somedays it’s easier than others to crank out the gratitude, yet I'm always thankful and grateful for:

  • Podcasts, audible, and the kindle app for the long BART rides (does this count as my tribe?);
  • Unique chances to learn
  • For trial and error
  • For pushing myself out of my comfort zone
  • For new opportunists to create healthy streams of income
  • For fresh starts every morning
  • For cuddles
  • For the little sleep I do get
  • For my body, living room, and kettlebell allowing me to creatively break out into a sweat session.

I don’t wear any of this as a badge, but rather to thoughtfully share with you that this is the messy life I live right now. And that if I can pursue dreams and goals, so can you.

At this point in time, I get to connect with and help men and women, mamas and grandpas, across the country connect the dots between their health and nutrition.

For me, this is a stepping stone toward creating a platform for busy, career parents, in the throes of raising young kids, to find confidence, balance, and happiness in their kitchen, skin, and life.

What is it for you?

Have you forgotten that you’re stronger, more powerful, and more creative than you think?

Your beautiful mind is waiting for you to crack it open and try something new. To break free from the mold you think you’re supposed to fit into and shine brighter than you have before.

It’s about taking the first step. Putting one foot in front of the other until you get enough momentum.

I can’t say you ever gain enough confidence to never fear, even a little bit, but it’s getting up and getting in the race that will get you closer to your goal.

So again, what is it for you?

  • If it’s nutrition, call me!
  • If it’s writing more, write your 500 words today.
  • If it’s that guy over there that gives you butterflies just looking at him, go talk to him.
  • If it’s going back to school, enroll.
  • If it’s joining a gym, get your membership tomorrow.

Just please, don’t wait. Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting for the right moment.

One way or another, the time will pass. Embrace it because in a year, or five or ten years, I want you to have a really good story tell!