Our garden yielded some surprises this summer, including cantaloupe and a mystery winter squash. Let this be a lesson to all of us -- if seeds go into your compost bin, the unexpected may pop up. It's easy enough to spot the (numerous) volunteer tomato plants that cropped up, but cantaloupe and squash appeared in beds where we had intentionally planted viney squashy things and I don't know their leaf patterns as well. Where I thought we would get sugar baby watermelons (which we did), we also got some delicious and yet unidentifiable tender-skinned, sweet squash (winter squash, I think, or maybe a more firm fleshed, interesting summer squash) that I thought would pair well with coconut milk. I was right! I used it in the recipe below. You can use patty pan or delicata squash with the skin, or butternut squash without the skin and I expect it will be equally divine.
Thai Squash and Potato Soup
2 volunteer winter squash of indeterminate variety with edible skin (kind of delicata-ish, but not the right shape), cubed -- you can use ~2 cups any type of winter squash
2 medium potatoes washed and cut into chunks
1 red pepper that you need to use up before it turns into compost (ha ha), cut into medium-sized pieces
1 can of unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup of vegetable broth
~tablespoon of olive oil
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
salt to taste (my broth had salt so I didn't need any additional)
Saute all the vegetables in the olive oil in the bottom of a stock pot for a few minutes. Add all the liquids and spices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the potatoes and squash are easily pierced by a fork (or the consistency you like). It would have been really good with some cubes of tofu too.
This might be the world's fastest and easiest, yet impressive foods to take to a party. You probably have all of the ingredients on hand already. Whip it up for that Memorial Day gathering and you know there'll be at least one interesting and safe, satisfying snack. Amaze your friends and family!
Peanut Chili Dip
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons lemon juice1 1/2 tablespoons gluten-free tamari sauce
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove finely chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, optional
Combine all of the ingredients. Add more water if it's too thick. Eat it with carrots or other veggies. You can also thin it more and mix it in with still-hot gluten-free rice noodles for a quick peanut sauce. Serve it hot or room temp.
Happy Mother’s Day! Because May is Celiac Awareness Month, I have been working on a heavy, deep and real blog post for weeks. I have learned from experience that most of my pondering posts are politely ignored. So instead of “efforting”* my way through what I’m sure will someday be an awesome contribution to the great thinking of the day on celiac disease and the gluten-free diet, I am instead offering a Mother’s Day special for the “Happy, Healthy” part of my equation: A list of some of my favorite things. According to all the Hallmark cards, I’m supposed to have a relaxing and self-indulgent day. Since it never fails that talking about favorite things makes me happy, I thought this a fitting post. I hope my happiness oozes through your electronic devise and into you and you are prompted to think about your favorite things and then maybe tell me about them.
My favorite food in the whole world is my Spicy Red Lentils and Greens. You have to try this. I’m not lying. So good. Maybe I’ll make some today.
My favorite recipe invention is either Cauliflower Crust Pizza Tartlets or Vegan Maple Pulled Pork. Both of them had that “Eureka!” thing. Love that!
My favorite book is probably Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It completely changed my outlook on running from being a drudge to being fun. In part, it led to my triumphant 2nd place medal in the women ages 50-59 Rick’s Run 5K last month. It started the whole barefoot running thing, which I actually think is not such a great idea, but it did empower me to not feel like I need to spend a lot of money on running shoes. I’ve noted a couple of influential books on my Happy, Regardless page.
My favorite movie is “Fried Green Tomatoes,” though I have to turn it off when Ruth gets cancer. Too sad. I also love “League of Their Own.” There’s no crying in baseball! Classic.
My favorite memory captured on Jumbotron is when my family came up with a Ryan Howard home run ball. So awesome! Watch it here: http://m.mlb.com/video/v3103416/howards-solo-shot-puts-the-phillies-back-on-top/?c_id=mlb
My favorite memory NOT captured on Jumbotron was my 1994 wedding to Jenn. Though we didn’t get legally hitched (sort of, anyway) until 2008 in California, our event in 1994 was the big coming together of friends and family to celebrate us and our intention to be a couple permanently.
My favorite singer is P!nk. She can do angry and loud. She can do vulnerable and open. She makes me laugh. She makes me change the CD when my kids get in the car because she has lots of rude lyrics. Can’t decide if I like Truth about Love or Funhouse better. Depends on my mood on any given day.
My favorite gluten-free trip was to Paris France. I’d welcome the chance to go back to Rome and put together a list of gluten-free finds there too! My travel list also includes New Zealand (my favorite TV show was Xena, which was shot there. I fell in love with the scenery while watching the warrior and her trusty sidekick and bard “friend” Gabrielle fight for the right and just in ancient Greece.)
My favorite app is called Cloud Spotter. It lets me take pics of clouds, make my best educated guess about what kind it is, and I win points and badges for correct identification. Total nerd fun. Plus, it gets me to look up and focus on nature when sometimes I might just stare at my phone on my public transportation commute like everyone else.
My favorite gadget is Fitbit. It’s a high tech pedometer that (quietly) cheers me on, tracks my steps, tracks flights of stairs, and more. It sends me badges for my accomplishments too. Who knew I’d be so motivated by electronic badges?
I’d love to know what some of your favorite things are.
*Shoot me a note if you get this reference!
Don't jump to any conclusions. I know this recipe may sound weird. I thought so too at first. I was motivated though to create an alternative breakfast option. A friend of a friend and I started exchanging Xocai chocolate recipes. I regularly drink the [insert flashing product placement alert here!] Xocai Extreme Chocolate High Antioxidant Shake for breakfast. Usually I have it naked. Sometimes I add kale. Sometimes I add strawberries or bananas. But sometimes I want to eat my breakfast with a spoon. I also like keeping things raw. This recipe combines speed, rawness, chocolate, and a spoon. Awesome, right? The oats soak up the liquid so they don't need to be cooked. The result is kind of like pudding, but it's under 250 calories. It's a great afternoon snack too.
Gluten-free Overnight Oats
1/3 cup Gluten-free rolled oats. I use Trader Joe's.
2/3 cup almond milk (or whatever you like to use as a milk thing)
1 Tablespoon powdered peanut butter (PB2 or Just Great Stuff both make it)
1 scoop (1/4 cup) Xocai Extreme Chocolate Protein Powder
Thoroughly combine all the ingredients in a cereal or other small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, giving the oats enough time to soak in the almond milk and soften. Eat chilled for a fast breakfast or a delicious and healthful afternoon or evening snack. Makes one serving.
245 calories, 6 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber. Eat it. Love it.
If you follow any of my tips for happy on this blog, there might be some reruns here, but repetition is the mother of skill-building, right? Or something like that. The short version is that steps we can take for a pleasant, meaningful and engaged life will help our overall happiness levels. These ideas will probably not make you giddy, but they don't take long and will hopefully take you up a notch. I've also thrown in some don'ts, things I sometimes do which I think seem like a good idea but bring me down in the end.
1. DO Write down some things you appreciate. I differentiate appreciations from gratitudes, with the latter having a more tenuous connotation. I give you full permission to NOT get a special notebook and a special corner or nook in the house to do this in. Scrap paper and a crayon while sitting in the van in the school's car line will be fine. Some people say you should come up with new stuff to be thankful for every day. Noble endeavor, but I'm okay with reruns. Can you really run out of a significant level of appreciation for your health or your loved ones or even a delightful breeze that plays across your face through the car window while you stare at the back of another family's minivan? I've made a deal with a faraway friend -- it's the Appreciation Game. When in the need of a boost, on of us will declare a round of the Appreciation Game and we'll text each other back and forth. This game works the same way as journaling your appreciations -- it helps get your brain in a place to see the good things going on around you. And it's nice to connect with a friend who gets it.
2. DO Listen to the Bangles. Or James Taylor. I use Pandora on my phone and computer. If you don't know about Pandora, it's a free app (or you can pay a couple of bucks a month to listen advertisement-free) and you can create a radio station by putting in the name of just about any artist and Pandora will pick music for you that fits that selection. Hence, Bangles. It's hard to NOT feel happier when you Walk Like an Egyptian. James Taylor is also a good pick but in a more mellow sort of way. I love Pink! and she's in my playlist too, but her radio station tends to be a little angrier, so when I need to find happy I listen to vapid 80's music.
3. DO Go for a walk or dance around to the Bangles on Pandora. I love that my dog encourages me to go outside and get moving several times a day. Even in the midst of the snowiest and coldest winter of my entire life, I still go for a couple of walks a day. The fresh air is awesome. It's also pretty great to NOT put on all of those clothes and instead dance around to the Bangles on Pandora and if you can get away with it, sing along. Walking, dancing and singing serve to put you in the middle of your movie and keep you from being a spectator. If you go for a walk, look for things to take pictures of that make you happy. My phone is full of interesting pics from walks: Birds nests, clouds, sunrises and sunsets, naked Barbie and Ken, footprints in snow, or most rrecently, snow cone heads. Or Sno-cone heads. See below.
4. DON'T Start playing Dots (or Candy Crush or any other incredibly addictive game) on your portable electronic device. Nobody feels happier or more settled after an hour of that. Really. Put it down and put on the Bangles and dance around. Or read a book or magazine. Generate some new ideas or just do something that's a little more fun and engages your brain a bit.
5. DO Make soup or some crockpot thing. It's pretty fast to put together a good soup or stew NOW (easy gluten-free!) when you are motivated in order to eat it LATER when you might not be. Comfort food, good health benefits. Check out some of my soups and stews for ideas. There are a jillion ideas on line, or better yet, ask your Facebook friends for their favorites. You'll get a slew of responses and you'll connect with people.
6. DON'T Spend hours on Facebook though. Or other social media. Or email. After a quick check to see what people are up to and to offer your own observations, sign off for awhile so that people will actually have a chance to post some new stuff for you to look at.
7. DO Schedule a quick (or not so quick) chat with your favorite upbeat friend or relative. I have to admit I feel incredibly awkward on the phone and this is one that I don't go often enough. Instead of calling someone out of the blue, which often as not ends up in leaving a message, I have the most success when a faraway friend and I schedule a phone call. Then I don't have to feel like I'm interrupting anything. I've also had a really good time scheduling a Skype call when my friend and I were both in the kitchen baking. Then we mailed each other some of the baked goods.
8. DON'T Start trolling the interwebs for cute cat videos (unless you are using it as an enticement for your kids to spend time with you, which I've been known to do.) Like playing never-ending games on your phone, time gets away from you and you feel a little less happy in the end.
9. DO Be the hero. Let the harried person in the grocery line go before you. Help the shorter person reach the thing on the top shelf. Shovel your neighbor's snow-covered walk. Look for little ways to help others and have no expectations about how they will behave in return. Chances are they'll feel good. Guaranteed you'll feel good.
10. DO Clean or straighten up a thing or place. Put 5 minutes into organizing something that's been bugging you but that you haven't gotten around to doing. For me, it's putting clothes away. I stack stuff on my dresser and vanity and don't get around to putting it away. It weighs me down. It doesn't take too long to make a dent in the stacks, but I really have to make myself do it. I always feel better after I do. Cleaning out the car is the same way. For more depth on decluttering and restoring order in your home, checkout the FlyLady website.
There you have it. You can do all of this stuff. You'll feel better. Try it.