Good Read

Here’s a great article about weight – put down that diet food!


I’m off in a few hours!  Wish me luck as I fly across the Pacific!



The World is Your Oyster

Shuck it, shuck it, and shuck it some more.

Deutsch: Auster aus Marennes-Oléron Français :...

The World. Also quite tasty. Oyster from Marennes-Oléron (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A very wise friend said that to me last year as I was freaking out deciding whether to go to Thailand by myself or not.  I won a tour of Northern Thailand through Intrepid tours and I didn’t know if I should go or not.

That’s the funny thing about winning things.  You question about whether it’s a gift or a curse.  Isn’t that a weird thing about our society?  That we teach people to question things that the universe gives to us?

I’m so glad I went.  I would have regretted it for the rest of my life if I didn’t go.  And it turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  I can’t even explain to you how influential that trip has been to me.  It came at a pivotal moment in my life – I can look back on it now and see how much I have changed since then.  It’s only been a year, but it feels like a lifetime.

I’m not going to go into all of it now, but let’s just say that a year ago I wouldn’t have been able to talk about what I talk about here.  I just treated myself like shit.  Now, I hope that when I talk about my struggles with self-love, happiness, and healthy living, you’ll understand that I’m coming from a place where these ideas weren’t a part of my living.  I actually would say that I wasn’t truly living.  I was just floating through my days, wishing for a change. The change came, because I knew I needed it.  A few really important people came into my life, and some were there all along.  I realized my passions, and understood that the only I have the power to change my life.  Sitting around and waiting wasn’t getting me anywhere.

I’m not perfect.  Every day I have to make a concious choice about my attitude towards life.  I am not a victim of my circumstances.  I choose my life and my reaction towards what happens to me. My trip to Thailand last year really helped cement all of these ideas for me.  I traveled by myself before joining the tour, which allows for lots of time for recollection and thinking, and you really start to understand how “you” fit into the world when you’re with people who are nothing like you.  All those things that you thought were important just fade away.

I had been saving up money for a big trip, and used very little of it last year. So this year I am going on a trip again – this time to Bali, Indonesia.  I leave Tuesday night.  Like my trip to Thailand, I am looking forward to experiences a culture very different from my own.  Unlike my trip last year, I am traveling with 4 other amazing ladies, 3 of whom are my closest friends.  We’re going to have lots of fun.  I’m looking forward to so much – and am so excited to spend some time in such a spiritual place.

I’ll do my best to check in while I’m gone, but if I don’t (you never know about those overseas internet cafes, and I refuse to bring my laptop) know that I’ll update you when I return.

Until then, I leave you with one piece of advice.  “Live your dream.  Don’t dream your life.”

Oh- and the world is your oyster.  Shuck it, shuck it, and shuck it some more.

(And someday soon I’ll tell you about my friend Reid, who gave these wonderful pieces of advice.  And some others, that maybe aren’t so wonderful, but still useful.)


Do you ever feel like the universe is trying to send you a message?

Not a little message like “It’s cold, you should wear a coat!” but a big-ass HUGE message – screaming, blinking lights, the whole bit?

Yeah, I think it’s happened to all of us.  And if it hasn’t happened to you yet, don’t you worry my friend.  It will.  That is something that I’ve learned in my 32.5 years of living.

Sometimes it’s a bad thing – you’re being told to avoid something, that something is bad.  Those are usually the things that I ignore.  I’ve also found it’s easier to ignore these things when I’ve had a few drinks.  Or it has to do with a man.  Both alcohol and men can make a girl think stupid.

But sometimes, if you really pay attention, the universe tells you something wonderful.

Lately, I’ve been trying to pay attention.  And even though I’ve been slackin’ on the yoga and meditation this week, there are blinking lights everywhere.

“Just be you.”

Last time I wrote about trying too hard – this concept is totally related.  When you stop trying so hard to be something or somebody you aren’t you really free yourself to just be yourself.  There aren’t any other options.

This message has come to me in so many ways the past few weeks that I can’t even tell you all of them.  But I did just tell a coworker who was complaining about something that somebody else said about us to just stop – we have no control over what someone else says about us. They were being authentic.

Isn’t that a great word?  Authentic.  I love it.

I’m not saying this is easy or that I’m perfect at this.  But I’d rather be imperfect at being me than perfect at being somebody else.

Ding Ding Ding! Light bulb going on!

Have a lovely weekend, my friends.  I’ll tell you all about the amazing authentic thing I’m doing next week.

In the meantime, read this:

and this (from my lovely and amazing friend Genna) –

And maybe listen to this, not because it’s related but because it’s absolutely beautiful –

Trying too Hard

I was doing a seated twist in yoga the other night.  I’m really not good at these.  I like the laying down twists so much better – and not just because I’m laying down (although that’s a bonus) but because gravity does so much of the work for you.  This is helpful when you have not only a terribly inflexible spine, but also boobs that have a tendency to get in the way.  Anyway, I was pushing myself into the twist, trying to keep my left hip on the ground (really, this pose is so much harder than it looks) when I heard a little voice say:

“Stop. Trying. So. Hard.”

No, it wasn’t God.  And I don’t think it was my right kidney, although it was probably screaming something similar at this point.  It was that little part of me (ok BIG part of me) that is just tired.  Tired of me pushing so hard for everything ALL THE TIME.

I read all kinds of yoga blogs where the people writing them say how they learn all kinds things about themselves during yoga or because of yoga or whatever.  I never thought I’d be one of those people.  I love yoga, I love what it does for all of me, but I’m not one of those people who has revelations during yoga either.

I wouldn’t really call this a revelation.  My body was just tired.  I’m not one of those who goes crazy pushing myself in fitness, but I had been hitting the power yoga pretty hard lately.  And I was trying really hard to keep up with the people next to me who did inversions in between vinyasas.  (Nope, I didn’t get that far.)  I had to pull back, to let my body do the work.

I’ve been thinking about that ever since.  Stop trying so hard.  Where else do I push to hard in my life?  Right.  Everywhere.  I pretty much go all or nothing on most things I do.  Sometimes this makes me really good at things – like my diet right now.  It also makes me a hard worker, a dedicated student, and a good friend.  It also means that I burn out.  Fast.

I’ve dealt with a lot of burn out in my life.  When I was in my early twenties, after working one too many 60 hour work weeks, I quit my job and moved back to Sacramento.  I was burnt out.  I was so burnt out that before I quit, I got strep throat so badly that I was out for nearly 2 weeks.  Back then I didn’t believe that my health was a reflection of what was going on in inside.

Now I know that it’s true, and as I deal with a different layer of burn out – not necessarily job related (although that’s part of it) – but health and life related I think about this a lot.  Stop trying so hard, Carmen.  Your body knows what’s best.

Try this – it’s really good with pork chops.  And while you peel the layers of artichoke you can take your mind off trying so hard.  These are pretty hard to screw up.

Sauteed Baby Artichokes with Garlic

1 lb. of baby artichokes (the fresh kind from the farmer’s market)

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 swig of olive oil

1 swig of chicken stock

Lemon (optional)


Have you ever prepared baby artichokes?  They’re really easy.  Peel off the bottom couple of layers of leaves until you get to a light green color.  Trip the bottom a bit, and chop off the top 1/2 inch or so with a sharp knife.  Cut in half.  Put cut artichoke halves in a bowl with water and a bit of lemon juice or vinegar.  This sounds labor intensive but really goes pretty fast.

Heat up a heavy bottom frying pan and add a swig of olive oil.  When the oil heats up add the garlic and pepper flake, and fry until it starts to smell good.  Add the artichoke halves and try to get them all cut side down.  Let them hang out for about 5 minutes or so, stirring a few times.  Add a swig of chicken stock (or white wine), stir a few times, and put on a lid.  Let them steam for a few minutes.  They’re ready when you can poke the bottom easily with a knife.  Serve with a squeeze of lemon, if you want, or a really big glass of white wine.  Or both.

Just Desserts

I can’t decide if I feel bad or not about not blogging for so long.  I kinda feel like I’m neglecting you.

But then I realize that you too have lives and understand when things just get crazy and you don’t remember what happened to your days and you can’t remember the last time you wrote but you’re pretty sure it was too long ago and you’re just really really happy that you remember to brush your teeth and shower daily (almost – well, about the showering at least.  I skipped on Sunday.  I promise my teeth are brushed twice a day.)

I had this great idea for a blog last weekend about farmer’s market shopping and meal planning.  I’m really not very good at it, but I actually planned ahead this time and it was great!  Of course, this is the first week I’ve done it, and since it’s only Tuesday perhaps I should wait until the end of the week to see if I’m actually successful and then share with the world.  I did take a picture of my pretty shopping list/meal plans and I promise to share that once I get to computer that lets me download things.

But today, I’m exhausted and I really don’t want to talk about being organized.  I want to talk about dessert.

My Friday evenings are usually spent cooking a relatively elaborate dinner for myself and last Friday I decided that I needed dessert as well.  I found recipes on Pinterest and went to work!

My new favorite blog is PaleOMG.  Juli is hilarious, and writes fantastic recipes.  I usually do a little altering (as I always do), but mostly because she makes enough food to feed an army (she’s a crossfitter, she’s allowed) and I like to throw in a little greens or other veggies in when I can.  Friday night I made Pumpkin Cream Chicken Casserole but took out the spaghetti squash (I didn’t have one) and added a chopped head of swiss chard.  It was good, but I’m not really into pumpkin.  I think next time I’ll use a can of sweet potato or butternut squash puree and use garam masala as the spice.  (Side note, Sunday night I made Pistachio Pesto Chicken Pasta and it was AMAZING! You should make it!)  But what I really wanted was dessert.

One of my favorite restaurants in town, Magpie, has an avocado chocolate mousse that I’ve been curious about for years.  I love chocolate, I love avocados, but something just doesn’t seem right about pairing them together.  So, back to Pinterest, and I found this great recipe on The Kitchn.  I figured, what the heck?  I had all the ingredients and if I didn’t like it all it cost me was an avocado and a little time.

OMG!  It was AMAZING.  Seriously.  I don’t like chocolate flavored things (I’m discovering after going processed food free that it’s processed chocolate, like cookies and cakes, that I don’t like) and this was the best thing ever.  Light and airy, but still rich and decadent.  Wow.  And super easy.

You can find about a million ways of making this when you google it, but here’s how I did it (From the Kitchn):

1 avocado (use a soft one)

3 tbsp cocoa powder of choice (I used raw cacao, because that’s what I had from the cookies the week before) – try adjusting this, it might be a bit too bitter for your taste.  Start with a few tablespoons.

2 tbsp raw organic honey (I’m really lucky and have honey from my stepdad’s brother’s bees.  It’s rich and delicious without being sweet.  Use whatever you’d like here, but please make sure it’s real honey!) By the way – many recipes use Stevia, raw sugar or other sweetener.  I think you can use whatever you’d like.

1 small splash of vanilla extract

1 splash of coconut milk beverage

Here’s what you do: Halve the avocado and put in the food processor.  (No pit, obviously.)  Add a splash of milk of choice to get the thing moving (I used my So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage with probiotics that I always have in the fridge.)  Process until it’s smooth and creamy.  Add the cocoa powder, sweetener, extract and a pinch of salt.  Process again until it looks like chocolate pudding.  It only takes a few minutes.

I topped mine with sliced strawberries (I love spring!) and it was DIVINE.  I never say that.  It makes me sounds 100 years old.  But it was really, really good.

Last night I needed something sweet again and I still haven’t gotten around to making these.  Instead I took a carton of plain coconut yogurt, topped it with about 3 sliced strawberries (watching my sugar), a tablespoon or so of allergen free chocolate chips, and a tablespoon of shredded coconut.  Another winner!  Really, really good, and super simple.  And really good for me.  I am so excited to find desserts that are healthy!  This is amazing stuff!

What about you?  What are your favorite healthy desserts?  Or do you just say F it and eat a whole tub of ice cream?