Caribbean Party Rice (Vegan, Gluten-Free!)

Hey foodies. Half way through another week and the moon is now in Libra! To be honest, I don’t know that this would necessarily influence my life to the point where I stop and point it out to myself, but it’s nice to think about. I like to think that, similar to my actual birthday month, that this is my own little dedicated “me!” time, or that I should meditate or do more yoga during this time.

 

I made a really fun dinner this past Sunday — I was inspired by the super bright and sunny day we had on Saturday and decided to make a Caribbean themed dinner. All I wanted was bright colors, spicy and earthy flavors, and… pineapple.

 

I have a love/hate relationship with pineapple. It really does have a great flavor, but the texture is enough to make me gag and immediately spit it out. I think this stems back to my older sister force-feeding me pineapples after a stomach bug as a child. I’ll never fully recover.

 

That doesn’t stop me from enjoying little bits of it every now and again though. While I used the majority of the pineapple in the rest of my recipes, I added a little dash to this dish. I saw a jerk spiced rice recipe with beans in it, but I wanted this to be a bit more fun and colorful. 

 

Caribbean Party Rice (Vegan, Gluten-Free!)

 

prep time: 30 min

cook time: 30 min

Serves 6-8

 

Ingredients

 

  • 2.5 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 1 13oz can of coconut milk
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, finely chopped, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 large jalapeno, finely chopped, seeds and ribs removed
  • 3 stalks of scallions, thinly sliced, green and white parts added
  • 1.5 to 2 tsp of sea salt (to taste – I love salt but tend to intentionally under salt)
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

 

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, add your coconut milk, cloves, cayenne pepper, pineapple juice, water and rice. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and cover. allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, checking to ensure rice is not stuck to the bottom of the pan. Stir, check that it’s cooked (should be soft, no al dente rice!) and allow to air out, fluffing as it dries.
  1. Meanwhile, as you’re waiting for the rice to cook, add your bell pepper, red onion and garlic to a large frying pan with your preferred cooking fat, over medium heat. Sauté until onion stars to become translucent, about 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add your garlic and continue to sauté for another 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat until you’re able to add your rice (if it isn’t finished cooking).
  1. Once your rice has finished cooking, add it to your skillet, over a medium low heat. Add your fresh jalapenos and stir, adding additional seasoning if desired. Don’t be afraid to kick up the spices in this one — if you want flavorful rice, you must be generous with your spices!
  1. Continue sautéing until rice is thoroughly mixed, brought back to temperature and browned in some spots. Once finished, remove from heat and stir in your cilantro. Serve immediately.

 

Enjoy!

-S

Pierogies with Roasted Onions (Paleo!)

Happy Monday! I am delighted to have a few recipes to share with you all in the next coming days. I’ve been cooking quite a bit, have a lot of healthy recipes on deck, and have been inspired to make even more stuff.

Let’s start with this week. One exciting thing happening os the Full Moon on Friday, and how the moon will be in LIBRA. I, as a Libra, adore this. Why, you ask? I didn’t think i actually knew — I just knew that my little lunar astrological planner (visit www.magicofi.com if you want one!), I saw that Friday was a special Full Moon and I immediately got excited.

 

Well, here’s why that was. So, what officially is this particular moon? We are in Pisces, and this is a Full Moon positioned at 29 degrees, putting it in Libra. I know i’ve been itching for change. This has also really brought to light any emotional or supportive imbalances in relationships, so this particular moon calls for more patience and compassion when dealing with folks flying off their handle. The concept of the Libra sign is balance – what would that look like in your life at the moment, more balance? How do you view your interactions with others — do you find you’ve been giving a lot of energy up at your own expense to help others? Or is the opposite true — have you been stressed, calling for more than you may intend to from your  friends and loved ones? This particular Full Moon is a good oppportunity to evaluate it all, allow yourself to see where things are falling short, and to take action to bring more balance into your life. The spotlight is now on relationships that may need more attention to help them grow, or perhaps they no longer serve you and you need to cut the cord.

 

Gosh, this talk about balancing my life makes me hungry. Let’s talk food. specifically, let’s talk pierogies.

 

Do you know how much i like pierogies? I can remember my uncle (dad’s brother) and aunt making her old family recipes, hundreds of pierogies at a time. They were so delicious… indulgent, too. Tradtionally, you boil them. Once college came around and I had to get my fix without slaving away in the kitchen, Mrs. T’s in a frying pan became the go-to.

 

In my pursuit to make this gluten free and still indulgent, I came up with THIS. I was inspired by a jamaican beef patty recipe a friend made for her Celiac son, and I figured it could cross over into pierogie-land. While nothing truly beats the fresh taste of flour with potatoes and cheesy goodness, this is a great take on one of my childhood favorites. Bon Appetit 🙂

 

Pierogies with Roasted Onions (Paleo!)

Prep time: 40 min

Cook time: 20 min

Makes about 30 3-inch pierogies

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 2 eggs 
  • 2 cups cassava flour, plus more for rolling
  • 2/3 cup water, plus more if needed (dough can dry out)
  • sea salt, to taste (i used about 1/2 tsp)

For the filling:

  • 1 lb organic potatoes, peeled
  • ~ 1/2 cup cashew milk, or more if needed
  • 1 tsp of ghee, or grassfed butter
  • generous salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
    •  1 egg, whisked

    Directions

    1. In a saucepan, add potatoes and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 30-35 minutes. Drain, mash, and add your remaining filling ingredients, adding additional seasonings if desired. set aside.
    1. For the dough, crack TWO of your eggs into a medium sizzed mixing bowl. Add your water, and sea salt. Whisk to thoroughly combine.
    1. Slowly add your flour until it is fully mixed, stirring along the way. If dough is not pliable, add a tsp of water at a time until it is thick and sticky, but flexible. Use your hands to mold the dough into a ball. cut the dough in half, rolling together. Cut each piece in half again, so that you have four separate dough balls. Place the remaining dough in the bowl and cover with a warm/wet towel to prevent the dough from drying until used.
    1. On a dry flat surface, add a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle some cassava flour over it, spreading it evenly. Place your first dough ball and roll out until dough is approximately 1/8 inch thick.
    1. Using a biscuit cutter or rim of a drinking glass (at least 3in. in diameter), cut dough into circles and set aside on another piece of parchment paper. Continue with remaining dough balls until remaining dough is used.
    1. In a small bowl, whisk your remaining egg. If the egg is not runny, add a tsp of water to ensure the right consistency.
    1. Place a small amount of mashed potato filling in the center of each dough round. Be sure to leave about a quarter inch around the edge of the round to seal. Brush the edge of each seal with some egg mixture, and then gently folder the dough circle in half, pinching the edges together to form a semi circle. You may use a fork to gently press them together, if you’d like. Once assembled, transfer to a plate and cover with plastic wrap to prevent them from further drying out.
    1. Once all made, bring a large stock pot filled with water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Place the pierogi in the boiling water — only a handful at a time so they are not crowded. When they float to the top, continue boiling for another 10-12 minutes. Test one to see if the dough is cooked — it should resemble firmly cooked pasta. Once cooked, remove from heat with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain and dry.
    1. There are some that will sprinkle a pinch of salt over them at this point and eat them just like this. I like to saute mine next 🙂
    1. If you’re good at multitasking, you can cook your onions separately, while your pierogies are boiling. Add a tbsp of ghee or grassfed butter to a large frying pan over medium low heat. Add your sliced onion and saute, slowly, over low heat, stirring to prevent burning. add a pinch of salt and cook until starting to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
      To the same pan, add another tbsp of ghee or grassfed butter, over medium heat. Add your pierogies in a singer layer, cooking in batches of necessary. Brown on both sides until crisp, about 5-6 minutes each side. Add your onions to the pan to bring back to temperature and meld the flavors.
  • Serve immediately – enjoy!
  • -S

    Chicken Bacon Broccoli Ranch Casserole (Paleo!)

    Good afternoon, y’all! it’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood. The weather might get warmer (not holding my breath), the sun is shining, I am trying to shed some winter fluff and I have picked up running much more regularly. All the good things! I told my younger brother that we’re running the Kennett Run, so there’s a goal to work towards. I’ve been in the gym at least 6 days a week, but let me tell you… these ol’ bones take a beating. I jumped back into it like I was 18 years old again, and that was DEFINITELY! not the right way to do it. I suspected a plantar fasciitis flare up (or a peroneal tendon issue), so I let up for a few days and soaked my foot in Epsom salt. It did the trick, but now I’m nursing some sore quads. Does anyone have any good recommendations on running shoes for folks with extremely high arches? 🙂 🙂

    I’ve made a ton of food over the last few weeks, but I’ve just been so busy with everything that I either hadn’t documented it once I cooked it, or people ate it before I got a chance to.

    One thing I’m super pumped about is this tasty casserole. I came across a recipe for a buffalo chicken casserole I really liked, but I wanted to put a different twist on it with some other flavors. the good thing about this one is that it’s low in carbs, high in protein and just overall filling and delicious. Just to warn you, it’s definitely a weekend project that reheats well during the week… I’d advise to make this when you’ve got some time to play in the kitchen 🙂

     

    Chicken Bacon Broccoli Ranch Casserole (Paleo!)

    prep time: ~ 2 hours for all cooking involved

    cook time: 35 min

    Ingredients

    • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, 
    • 1 medium sized spaghetti squash
    • 1 package paleo-friendly bacon (typically 8-10 oz, or a generous half pound)
    • 1 large head of broccoli, stems trimmed and cut into small florets
    • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed
    • 2 eggs
    • 2/3 cup paleo-friendly mayonnaise
    • 2 tbsp Grey Poupon dijon
    • 1 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp dried dill
    • 1 tbsp chives
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 2 tbsp dried parsley

     

    Directions

    1. As this takes the longest, preheat your oven to 400 F. Cut your spaghetti squash in half and place face-down on a lined baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 50-60 minutes. Once cooked, carefully scrape the seeds out with a spoon and discard. With remaining flesh, gently scrape out with a fork into a large mixing bowl and discard the leftover skin.
    1. Now onto your chicken. Cook your chicken in an instant pot per instructions —  with enough chicken broth to cover the meat for 30 min. If using a traditional oven, (while simultaneously cooking your squash), place chicken a Pyrex dish and cover with broth. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until fork tender and cooked thoroughly. With both methods, remove from heat  after cooking, shred finely, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, then cover and set aside until ready to use.
    1. While chicken is baking, cook your bacon  by your preferred method (I like to bake on a baking sheet at 375 degrees F until crisp) until the bacon is thoroughly browned, but not burnt.  Remove from heat once cooked, roughly chop (once cooled!!), and set aside.  
    1. Since I like to live dangerously and multi-task, at this point I start cooking my broccoli, until just slightly tender. In a large skillet, add your preferred cooking oil and broccoli over medium heat. Once brought to temperature, add 1/8 cup of water to the pan and cover with a lid. The broccoli should only slightly cook, until bright green — about 2 minutes. Once finished, remove from heat, drain and set aside.
    1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together your spices, dijon and mayo. adjust flavors as needed — I like a bit of a punch of dill and garlic to really bring out the ranch flavor. Remember, be generous with your salt, as the chicken has a lot of protein to break down, and the squash has a lot of fiber – salt is our friend!
    1. Once taste is up to par, add your two eggs, continuing to whisk until thoroughly mixed.
    1. In your large bowl with spaghetti squash, add your chicken and bacon, and mix together. Add your sauce, continuing to mix thoroughly. Add to a greased Pyrex dish and spread evenly.
    1. Hopefully your oven is still hot! Set temp/pre-heat to 350 degrees F. Bake your casserole until your egg has set and the top starts to brown, about 35 minutes.

    Serve, and enjoy!

     

    -S

    Spicy Chipotle Turkey Meatballs in Gravy (Paleo!)

    Well hey, y’all. Interestingly enough, a wild snowstorm appeared in the bushes and all of us are here waiting for it.  Some sources say 3-5 inches, some say 4-6, I say…. I’m wearing leggings, found a giant blanket, and I have my work laptop out with a cup of tea, a dog and two cats staring at me. Woo! Unexpected snowstorms. An interesting turn of events after a few days off from work followed by a day of intense work crises.

    I said yesterday that I often post and talk about the moon. While I’ve not had anyone openly object to my doing so, I figured I’d at least share why I believe it to be so important. Have you ever heard the word “lunatic”? While it’s an antiquated way to refer to someone who is behaving erratically or is mentally ill, the word has roots in a deeper meaning. Philosophers like Aristotle believed that those with bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses were triggered by the moon. Though in modern days, there’s evidence on both sides that the moon impacts human behavior, I’m here for the fun stuff. The “I Can’t Explain It But I Know Something’s Different” stuff. The far-out, woo-woo stuff.

    Though it’s really anecdotal evidence, I find that days where the full moon is expected are not the same. Perhaps it’s that it really is just brighter outside, and you notice all the little leaves blowing about. Perhaps it’s just that it’s something bigger in the sky to look at, and triggers a series of thoughts about what’s really out there, thoughts of existentialism, or how there’s so much more going on than we can see. I’m a believer in the moon’s influence, but I realize its not for everyone.

    That having been said, this moon comes at an interesting time. The “Snow Supermoon”, as they’re calling it, came just on the brink of a major snowstorm. It comes at a particular time of year where people are coming out of their fog, eager for what’s next. Bonus season just ended for a lot of employers, which is a precursor to a lot of job changes, new adventures, and the like. But on a more personal level, Spring is just around the corner. Daylight savings is, too. There’s a lot of change on the horizon politically and economically. So, how does this particular moon really have anything to do with that?

    This  particular moon, falling within 0 degrees of Virgo, is said to strengthen our intuition and emotional side, but also creates the space for us to really take ownership of how to make real what our intentions are. This is really the time for one to lay groundwork and get organized – to set up the logistics to get what it is they really desire. This full moon falls during a great shift in awareness, so it can feel really intense to suddenly realize, “Wow, I have REALLY got to get moving.” Just don’t forget to set aside time to have fun, to relax, and above all, to de-stress your mind.

    What better way to de-stress than to enjoy some good ol’ comfort food? Little meatballs! Maybe I should call them moon-balls. I don’t think people would eat them if I did. I guess we’ll stick with meatballs.

    Enjoy these paleo-friendly Spicy Chipotle Turkey Meatballs – recipe below!

     

    Spicy Chipotle Turkey Meatballs in Gravy (Paleo!)

     

    Prep time: 25 min

    Cook time: 40 min

     

    Ingredients

    • 1 lb ground turkey
    • 1 4oz can of adobo sauce
    • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped; stems and seeds removed
    • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, finely chopped
    • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
    • 1 egg, whisked
    • 1/2 cup almond flour
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 1 can of full fat coconut milk
    • 1 tsp coconut flour or tapioca flour (for thickening), plus more if needed

     

    Directions

    1. In a large skillet, add splash if your preferred cooking fat as well as your chopped onion. Sauté over medium heat until translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
    2. In the same skillet, also over medium heat, add your garlic and bell pepper. Sauté until the peppers have cooked out much of their water and onions start to brown – another 5-6 minutes. Season with a small pinch of salt.
    3. Remove from heat, leaving half of your onion/pepper mixture in your pan and set aside – you will move the remaining half into a large mixing bowl.
    4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
    5. Within your mixing bowl, add your ground turkey, egg, almond flour, 2 tbsp of adobo sauce, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. If mixture is too wet, add more almond flour, 1 tbsp at a time. Turkey tends to be less stiff when raw than ground beef or other ground meat, so you don’t want to add too much more flour – they will be dry once cooked.
    6. Once thoroughly mixed, use your hands (or a melon baller/cookie scooper for consistency) to roll mixture into 1-1 1/2 inch balls. Arrange on a greased, foiled or parchment lined baking sheet, evenly spacing 2-3 inches apart. Bake until they start to brown, about 20-25 minutes. It may be more or less time, depending on the size of the meatballs.
    7. Meanwhile, as your meatballs are cooking, place your skillet with onion and peppers back over medium heat. Once brought to temperature, add your coconut milk and another 2 tbsp of adobo sauce, allowing pepper and onion to simmer. Add salt and pepper, to taste. If more adobo is needed, continue to add, 1 tbsp at a time, to ensure appropriate spiciness. Once simmering, if still quite thin, add your tsp of coconut or tapioca flour and stir until well combined. To avoid burning, turn the heat to low and allow to simmer.
    8. Once meatballs are finished cooking, gently remove from  your baking sheet and add to your skillet, stirring to coat meatballs in your gravy. I like to cover it and let it simmer so the meatballs stay tender/juicy for about 3-4 minutes.

    Serve, and enjoy!

    -S

     

     

    Mushroom and Sage Roasted Turkey Meatballs (PALEO!)

    In an interesting turn of events, the weather outside is GLORIOUS! high 50’s, low 60’s. The groundhog did not see his shadow, the snow has melted, and hopefully we don’t get much bad weather from here on out. It certainly feels like the twilight zone, especially with the full moon coming out tonight. After a super fast weekend, I’m ready for some good weather.

    I’ll keep this short and sweet — this weekend I had some time to make some glorious little meatballs, and because I couldn’t decide what I wanted, I decided to make two different kinds. Praise be, especially when your turkey meatballs don’t turn out dry. The first one I’ll share with you is below 🙂

    Mushroom and Sage Roasted Turkey Meatballs 

    Prep time: 20 min

    cook time: 30 min

     

    Ingredients

    • 1 lb ground turkey
    • 1/2 cup almond flour
    • 1 egg
    • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage, divided
    • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, chopped
    • 1 small/medium sized yellow onion, chopped
    • 1 garlic clove, finely minced or pressed
    • 1 can of coconut milk, shaken
    • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    • Pinch of other thickening gluten free alternative flour, such as potato or tapioca flour

    Directions

    1. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté your chopped onion until translucent, stirring frequently to avoid burning — about 4-5 min. Add your garlic, continuing to stir. Next, add your mushrooms and Add a pinch of salt and pepper to season. Sauté, uncovered, until onions start to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
    1. Next, in a large mixing bowl, add your turkey, half of your sautéed onion and mushrooms, egg, almond flour, 1 tbsp of sage, salt and pepper — mix  thoroughly. If the mixture looks too wet, add more almond flour, 1 tbsp at a time, while stirring. 
    1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. On a parchment lined or  greased baking sheet, roll your mixture into your preferred meatball size. I used a cookie scooper, making meatballs about 1.5in in diameter. Space evenly on the baking sheet.
    1. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. The internal temperature should be 155 degrees.
    1. Meanwhile, as the meatballs are baking, add your remaining sage to your skillet of mushroom and onion, over low heat. Add your coconut milk and stir. Allow to simmer for about 5-7 minutes, until the sauce has now thickened slightly. If it’s still runny, feel free to sprinkle in some of your thickening flour, and stir well to combine.
    1. Once meatballs are done cooking in the oven, carefully add them to your sauce pan, and gently stir to coat meatballs. Allow them to simmer for another 3-4 minutes.
    1. Remove from heat and serve.

     

    Enjoy!

    -S

    Pizza Soup (PALEO!)

    Hi world! I’m back after a much needed hiatus. I had these lofty and grand plans to cook a ton of stuff around the holidays and share it all with you… but then I got sick, then had to get back into the swing of things at work… I was tired… uninspired… you know how it goes. Plus, it’s been COLD. Here in the northeast, there’s been “snow” looming in the distance. I don’t actually know if it’s coming, but everyone’s been talking about it and now we just wait. I have no idea, but I have fuzzy socks on and a chenille scarf wrapped around me that I can’t part with. I fell asleep wearing it last night. I am ready for the snow!

    What’s interesting these days with all of you!? Well, with me – a whole lot and only a little. This spring should bring a lot of really cool changes, but I can only share them with you once I have more details J In the meantime, I’ve been working off my Christmas fluff (deeeefffffinitely put on a few pounds from all the beer and pizza), working on strength training and cardio. I got an Apple Watch for Christmas, and closing my fitness things is honestly the realest motivation I have had in a long time. That, and dry January, which I’ve already failed. Oh well, there’s next year.

    This post is more of a drop-in…. when I have some more time this weekend, I will definitely be jumping into some fun spiritual stuff, at least before January is OVER. Better late than never.  With the looming snow storm coming up, I want you all to enjoy something warm, healthy, and delicious, with minimal guilt.

    Soup!

    My inspiration was simple. I’ve been eating so much pizza these days, I wanted to dial it back. After giving up pizza for Lent one year, many years ago, I swore I could never go without it again. After much compromise and upset, I decided to nix the bread and make it into a soup, because… life without pizza is no life at all. This is a paleo friendly soup (unless you add some cheese), and is absolutely delicious. I like to use Applegate Naturals turkey pepperoni, and Garrett Valley pork bacon when making this soup. If you aren’t on any restrictive dietary plans, I bet dipping a breadstick in this would be just glorious. For those of us that are on the healthy train, this soup alone will do ya just fine… I promise 🙂

    If you don’t already, follow me on instagram @thedivinekitchen. I need more folks to hold me to posting my daily dinners, recipes, etc. Come join the party!

    Pizza Soup (PALEO!)

    Prep time: 20 min

    Cook time: 30 min

    Serves 6-8

    Ingredients

    • 1 15oz can of tomato sauce (not marinara, just plain)
    • 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes
    • 1 tube of pork or turkey sausage
    • 4 oz (~20-25 slices) of paleo friendly (uncured) turkey pepperoni, cut into quarters
    • 3-4 slices of cooked paleo friendly (uncured) bacon, chopped (optional)
    • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
    • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
    • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
    • 1 heaping tsp of dried oregano
    • 1 pinch of chili powder
    • 1 pinch of cayenne powder
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • salt and pepper, to taste

    Directions

    1. In a large skillet or frying pan, over medium heat with a tsp of your preferred cooking oil, sauté your pepper and onion until translucent and starting to brown – about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside in a bowl.
    2. In the same skillet, also over medium heat, sauté your sausage until thoroughly cooked/browned, breaking up any larger chunks. Remove from heat, and set aside.
    3. In a large sauce pot or small stockpot, add your tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Turn to medium high heat. Next, add your pepper and onion, sausage, pepperoni, bacon (if using), spices, and chicken broth. Gently mix thoroughly – heat until mixture starts to bubble gently, stirring to prevent burning at the bottom of the pan. Once brought to temperature, cover with a lid, turn to low heat, and let simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
    4. The soup should thin out – it should not resemble the thickness of sauce. If too thick, add additional chicken broth, 1/4 cup at a time, and continue to simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    5. If preferred, serve with a pinch of shredded cheese (not Paleo, fyi :)). Enjoy!

    -S

    Chipotle Twice-Baked Sweet Potato with Bacon and Avocado (Paleo!)

    Hey y’all. Still cold. However, apparently there’s a snowstorm on the horizon…. Which I LOVE. I am ready for  snow, 100%.

    As I sit back and think about how  close December is, and how close to an end 2018 is, I think about how much happened in 2018, and how much still has yet to happen as a result of what’s since passed this year. 2018 was a prime example of looking at things through a lens lined with emotional and spiritual maturity, peace and loving energy. What’s that really mean, outside of all the foo-foo stuff? Really, just this – as we begin to evolve more quickly, which is happening more and more each year, it’s easier for us to stay aware of what’s changing and going on around us, and how we can react to best suit our needs and heal.

    Again, what does this really mean? Here’s a few examples:

    • Not believing every first thought we have – some are rooted in human emotion and fear, and don’t suit our best interest. Taking a step back and realizing that our thoughts have a greater influence on what goes on around us can make a WORLD of difference in keeping with the positive instead of sticking without knee jerk reaction. Be patient with your thoughts, and allow yourself to process before coming to conclusions.
    • Not sourcing our own value from someone else’s perspective – on the flipside, while your thoughts do control your life around you, they cannot directly manipulate people around you. Focus on only your reactions, and understand that if you’re too worried about someone else’s thoughts, you lose sight and strength over your own.
    • Focusing your sights on not having enough, and whatever lackthereof is ailing you – this sounds counterintuitive if you gloss over it, but this one is the most important. I’m a FIRM believer in the law of attraction, for many  reasons. If you go around thinking about everything you don’t have, it will never be any further from you. You say… but, Sarah, how do I live my life like I have all the stuff I need, if I don’t already have it? Well, you choose your words carefully. You wake up in the morning, count your blessings (no matter how few there are), and thank the universe for the opportunity to gain everything you’re destined to. Once you’ve done this enough times, two things happen. First, you truly see how valuable what it is you do already have, and then simultaneously open your doorway for more.

    Everyone is guilty of these thoughts at some point, because we are human. In order to truly evolve and heal, we need to catch ourselves and recondition our knee-jerk reactions into things much more suited for growth, and self love. We also need to stop thinking of self-love as a foo-foo, dirty of silly term, and start defining what that means to us, little by little.

    Side note, I was pretty excited to see that my store introduced plum for the holidays – what a great color to finish off the year with. Plum, or violet, or any rich shade of purple, is an extremely powerful color – often associated with royalty (the Advent candles are also purple….) 🙂 I came across a healing technique recently, having to do with envisioning a violet flame – both the color, and visualization, are extremely powerful in that they present a quick spiritual “recharge” that we can do for ourselves.

    The  color violet is special in that it holds the highest frequency within the spectrum of colors – this is a scientific fact. By identifying the highest color vibration we know of, we provide a segue to the next level of vibrational light. What’s the brightest thing you can think of, that you’ve seen on earth? Fire.

    If I haven’t lost you yet, by envisioning a violet colored flame, we are calling our thoughts to move to the highest level of light our minds can think of. Light such as this has the ability to heal our physical bodies (think of laser therapy), alter our perception of what’s around us (think of illuminating a dark room), and provide warmth and comfort, helping heal our emotional bodies. A quick visualization can put you on the path of healing with a few steps.

    In a quiet room, visualize yourself seated and surrounded by violet light. While you’re visualizing it, imagine it flickering as if it were a candlelit  flame – anything to create a realistic image.

    • As you picture yourself immersed completely within the violet light, say this to yourself several times:
    • “I am within the violet light, because the violet light is within me.”
    • Express your gratitude for the opportunity to connect with the Violet Light – this actually is a representation of connecting with your higher self.

    If you’ve never visualized something like this, I may have definitely lost you. Trust me when I say that at the very least,  you will feel more calm, and definitely more empowered. Repeat this as necessary throughout the rest of the year.

    —–

    I bet you might be hungry after reading all of this. I know I am. Since it’s still COLD as a witch’s…. broomstick, please enjoy this tasty healthy version of a twice baked potato. Gluten-free, dairy free, paleo, keto-compliant, this thing is the bees knees. You won’t be sorry 🙂

    Chipotle Twice-Baked Sweet Potato with Bacon and Avocado (Paleo!)

    Prep time: 30 min

    Cook time: 90 min

    Serves 5-6

    Ingredients

    • 3 sweet potatoes, more round/fat in shape
    • 1 lb of thick cut bacon
    • 1 heaping tsp of ground chipotle powder
    • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
    • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
    • 2-3 ripe avocados
    • Cilantro, for garnish
    • Salt and pepper, to taste

    Directions

    1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prick your sweet potatoes with a fork, and coat with your preferred fat/oil (I like avocado oil). Bake for 50-60 minutes, until tender. Once cooked, remove from heat and allow to cool before slicing neatly in half. Further let cool once cut and halved. Turn oven down to 350. If using to cook bacon on a cookie sheet, bake until slightly browned. Leave oven at operating temperature. (skillet cooking bacon is fine too – just cook and set aside). Chop into small pieces, and set aside.
    2. In a skillet over medium heat, add 1 tsp of your preferred oil and saute onion until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Then add your garlic, continuing to saute until starting to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
    3. In a large mixing bowl, gently scoop the contents of each sweet potato half, leaving behind a thin layer if necessary to keep the skin in tact. Mash the sweet potato, adding the garlic, onion and chipotle. Next, add your bacon. You likely won’t want to taste test for more salt until after your bacon is added, since bacon does tend to add a lot of salty flavor. Add more chipotle, if desired.
    4. Scoop contents back into the sweet potato skins, dividing equally. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until potato starts to form a golden crust.
    5. Meanwhile, as the potatoes are cooking, mash your avocado in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and a pinch of chipotle if desired. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can make this as you would any other guacamole (link to my recipe!), depending on what ingredients you have on hand.
    6. When potatoes are finished cooking, remove from heat and serve with a scoop of avocado on top. Garnish with cilantro.

    Enjoy!

    -S