Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Gluten-Free Meatballs with Hemp Hearts and Parmesan Cheese

Recently, I have been making a lot of ground beef/turkey veggie sautés. I sauté equal parts of veggies (onions, garlic, carrots, celery, mushrooms, etc.) and ground beef/turkey and then season the mixture with salt, pepper, curry, cardamon, or whatever else I feel like at the moment. I have been eating this mixture over lettuce or roasted veggies. While I like eating similar foods for weeks on end, I decided it was time to change things up a bit and therefore made some meatballs. To make the meatballs gluten free, I used hemp seeds and Parmesan cheese in place of breadcrumbs.

The boys ate the meatballs on top of some gluten-free pasta with a salad on the side, and I enjoyed them with some roasted green beans. We all liked them a lot.

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Gluten-Free Meatballs with Hemp Hearts and Parmesan Cheese
Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 pounds grass-fed ground beef
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup hemp hearts
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 1 teaspoon salt-free seasoning mix 
  • Olive oil
Directions
  1. Beat egg and season it with salt, lemon pepper, oregano, and seasoning mix. 
  2. Mix the seasoned egg with the ground beef. 
  3. Add the hemp seeds and the Parmesan cheese. 
  4. Form the meat mixture into small balls (I made mine slightly smaller than golf balls). 
  5. Heat some olive oil in a pan and fry the meatballs on all sides, turning every few minutes, until they are cooked through, about 15 - 20 minutes, depending on size.
I have also been experimenting with some gluten-free, grain-free peanut butter (almond butter) jam cookie sandwiches. They are basically just nut butter, an egg, honey, and low sugar jam. I am trying to reduce the sugar/honey more. Andy thought my last attempt was perfect, but I think I can make it healthier… :) I’ll hopefully share an improved version soon.
 
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Life has been very busy lately, but I have made sure to make time for what I enjoy most in life: yoga, hiking, and, most importantly, spending time with my boys. I also make sure to read for pleasure every day (some days it’s very short, but something is better than nothing) as I think it is very important to do things you enjoy every single day.

Questions: What do you enjoy most in life? Do you do those things every day/week/month? What is one thing that you could do every day that would make every day more enjoyable? I have found that it is often little things that don’t take a lot of time that can make a big difference in how satisfied we are. If I spend just 20 minutes on a short yoga routine, go for a 30 minute walk and read for 10 minutes, I am generally happy at the end of the day even though it was overall a very busy day. If I don’t do those things, I feel easily overwhelmed and not satisfied… Spending just a little time on self care every single day really pays off in the end I think.

Be well,
Andrea

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Tools and Lessons Learned from Doing the Conscious Cleanse

Eating well and moving enough have always been important to me. Unfortunately, there were also a few times in my life when I made not-so-healthy choices, usually because life got stressful. During one particularly stressful and difficult period in my life more than a decade ago I ended up gaining a lot of weight, and it wasn’t easy to lose the weight and get back to my “old self."

After I lost that weight, things went pretty smoothly, but 2012 was not an easy year, and by the end of the year my workouts were half-hearted, my food choices not as good as they could have been, and I didn’t make time for myself. I still ate plenty of veggies and got some form of physical activity every day, but it just wasn’t enough to make me feel my best. When I was approached and asked if I wanted to do the Conscious Cleanse - a food-based cleanse - to review for the blog, I didn’t have much time to think and said “yes” (which I almost regretted as it seemed like I didn’t need one more thing to worry about in my hectic life; plus I wasn’t sure I wanted to do a cleanse, which sounded a bit like a fad to me). But doing the Conscious Cleanse turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done.

The Conscious Cleanse is certainly not a weight loss fad. In fact, when I did the Conscious Cleanse for the first time, I didn’t even weigh myself. But I felt so much better at the end of the cleanse. Most importantly, it led to permanent lifestyle changes, and I acquired several new tools to get me back on track quickly whenever I veer a bit away from choices that are best for my body and mind (which has happened a few times in the past two years; each time I was very glad that I had the tools to turn things around before they got out of hand). Here are some of the things that the Conscious Cleanse taught me:

  • Warm lemon water is a great way to start the day and truly replaced coffee for me (I know coffee works for some, and I know people who do fine with coffee and can limit it to a reasonable amount. However, I am unfortunately not one of them. One cup turns into two. Two into three. Three into four… You see where this is going). 
  • Getting plenty of greens and some protein first thing in the morning makes me eat better all day. I started having green smoothies with plenty of greens, 1/2 banana, and hemp seeds for protein when I did my first cleanse, and I still have one most mornings. Other mornings I have smashed avocado with raw veggies or lots of sautéed veggies and a little leftover meat.
  • I have always eaten a lot of vegetables, but doing the cleanse made me realize that I sometimes fall short on raw veggies (especially in the winter). I have since made a conscious effort to eat raw veggies every day.
  • Prep work is critical to eating well. I’ve always shopped and done some prep work on the weekend. But while doing my first cleanse, I learned that always having food that is allowed while cleansing ready to grab was essential to make the cleanse a pleasant experience. This has translated to always having healthy food ready to eat. 
  • The Conscious Cleanse really made me look at sugar. I don’t really have a “sweet tooth,” and I never really added sugar to things myself, but I had to acknowledge just in how many products a lot of sugar is hidden. I learned to let go of ketchup and other sauces, which seemed hard at first but became easy very quickly. Before doing my first cleanse I thought of myself as eating pretty “clean,” but since then, I have reduced packaged foods even more. Now, eating packaged foods and sauces happens very, very rarely.
  • I also was reminded of the importance of self-care. Starting the day by journaling for just 10 minutes makes such a difference! I also got back to yoga and meditation. 
  • Since the Conscious Cleanse is really an elimination diet, I was able to confirm that I am very sensitive to gluten, and taking gluten out of my diet has left me feeling so much better - gone are daily stomach aches, foggy brain, and joint pain. 
  • Finally, I realized what a difference support makes. During the cleanse, cleansers receive daily emails and have access to a cleanser-only private Facebook page. In addition, there are six live tele seminars that I found very helpful as they provided support when I needed it the most. In addition, they served as “me time” and allowed me to focus only on myself.  

Conscious Cleanse8

Life isn’t a straight line but an at times messy journey with turns, twists, detours, dead ends, and failures. It’s easy to not take care of yourself the way you should in times when life isn’t “perfect.” I love that the Conscious Cleanse gave me tools to getting back to taking care of myself the way I should quickly. It’s truly a gift that allows me to live my best possible life.

Andy and I are looking forward to cleaning things up a bit again (he had quite a few indulgences over the holiday break…). The January cleanse starts on the 24th. If you are interested in a no-nonsense, food-based cleanse, click here for more information about the Conscious Cleanse.

Questions: Are you good at taking care of yourself? What tools do you have in place when life gets stressful? Is self-care a priority in your life? What is one thing you will do for yourself in 2015? 

I plan on getting outside every day, even if just for a short walk. Whenever possible, I look forward to long walks and hikes. Here are some pictures from a recent family hike. We plan to hike at least once a week as a family in 2015:

Family Hike 07

Family Hike 02

Family Hike 06

Family Hike 05

Family Hike 01

Be well,
Andrea