Lamb Gyro Tacos

Ingredients

Makes 8 tacos

For the meat:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lb package of pasture raised ground lamb (available at Whole Foods)
  • 1 tsp cumin (more to taste)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp sea salt

For the slaw:

  • 1 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1/4th cup crumbled feta (omit for dairy free version)
  • 1/4th cup fresh chopped mint
  • juice of 1 lime

For the Tzatziki:

  • 2 Persian Cucumbers washed and chopped
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt (sub plain almond or coconut milk yogurt for dairy free version)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped and mashed into a paste
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped mint
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper
  • note- this is best made the night before so flavors can marinade, but it will still be delicious either way. If you’re on a time crunch, Cedar’s brand Tzatziki is excellent

 

  • 8 small flour tortillas (substitute corn tortillas for gluten free version)

 

Directions

  1. Start by preparing your Tzatziki as that will take the longest
    • Toss the chopped cucumber with a generous amount of salt and leave in a colander in the sink for 30 minutes.
  2. While you wait for the cucumbers, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat
  3. Add diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 5 minutes
  4. Add minced garlic and stir about 2 minutes
  5. Add ground lamb, breaking it up, and cook until browned
  6. Season with coriander, cumin, and sea salt to taste
  7. Toss the cabbage, mint, and crumbled feta for your slaw. Dress with lime juice
  8. Once your cucumbers are finished, rinse, and then drain on paper towels
  9. Beat together the yogurt, garlic paste, mint, salt and pepper to taste, and olive oil.
  10. Stir in the cucumbers and adjust seasonings
  11. For the tortillas
    • Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat.
    • once hot, add tortillas in a single layer, working in batches as needed
    • toast until warmed through, about 30 seconds per side.
    • Stack them and wrap in foil to keep warm until ready to serve.
  12. Assemble!
    • Spread tzatziki all over your tortilla
    • Add a few spoonfuls of the meat mixture
    • Top with Slaw
    • Enjoy!
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Oh, To Be A Woman

When you spend a year of your life in and out of doctors offices and hospitals, those settings will probably always spark a little post-traumatic stress. Ever since I went off the pill two years ago, I’ve had some hormonal symptoms appear from time to time. When I was younger, I was diagnosed with Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome which caused me a ton of symptoms, the worst of which was extremely painful periods. My doctor attributed this to the fact that I was overweight, which was something that sparked my desire to get healthy. In 2009, I went on the pill to regulate my symptons of PCOS, and it certainly helped. I was on the pill from then until 2016 when my gastric pain started. I got lost in literature about the pill and how it could cause gut problems. I listened to several online podcasts that aimed to help women understand that the only thing the pill was doing for us was masking the symptoms rather than treating to root cause. While I do agree with this, I also feel that some women simply need the stuff, and there’s not much else that can alleviate their pain, hair-growth, and acne quite like the pill.

Fast forward to the present, and i’m just one month shy of being off the pill for two years. Every once in a while, I get irregular periods, but my body has been able to regulate itself and return to a normal state after only being normal with the help of hormones for the past 7 years. My acne didn’t come back, my hair growth in weird places didn’t come back, and my severe menstrual cramps didn’t come back. Sure I get cramps and the occasional zit, but its nowhere near as bad as it was in 2009 when I was 180 pounds.

Despite this positive change, I have also developed some new symptoms that I never experienced while I was on the pill. The first is pain in my left breast. I have been feeling this on occasion for the past 6-ish months. It comes at random times, and is only on the left side, and is extremely tender to touch. This worried me quite badly and of course, I convinced myself I had cancer. I had heard about women getting sore breasts during their period, but I had never experienced that before, and it being only on one side and NOT during my period majorly freaked me out. The other symptom is occasional ovarian pain. It doesn’t really happen during my period which of course has been a huge source of stress for me. Sometimes it hurts when I sneeze which I found to be so strange. Once again I got lost in online research, which I told myself i’d never do again, but how can I help it? My biggest fear was that I had endometriosis, which a lot of my symptoms aligned with. However, because the pain is not severe or constant, I knew there were other possibilities.

Two weeks ago, I went to see my doctor for my annual physical. This doctor is an absolute angel, and was actually recommended to me by Dr B., the saint who helped me fix my gut issues. She told me that my blood work was the best she had seen all month, and that she could tell I take amazing care of my body. She then asked if I had anything I wanted to discuss, and I shared my experiences with the breast and ovary pain. She explained that a lot of women often get pain in their larger breast 10-14 days before their period. I sighed with relief because the pain is always in my left breast which is the larger one, and the pain is never actually DURING my period. She explained that the cysts in our breasts swell up causing pain or tenderness, and that caffeine can actually intensify it. It made perfect sense. I’m a coffee fiend indeed. I then explained the ovarian pain and she essentially had the same answer. She said that we can develop cysts that usually are not a threat, but can swell up before our periods. I told her I felt much better because my symptoms matched perfectly with her explanation. She said she wasn’t worried about my breast and didn’t want to investigate further because often times that can lead to a breast biopsy where it’s not needed, and I certainly would like to avoid that. I trusted her opinion enough.  I told her that the ovarian pain was more concerning to me, so she agreed to send me for a pelvic ultrasound.

So this brings me to my post-traumatic stress. Yesterday, I went to the hospital for my ultrasound. I changed into a gown and laid on the bed waiting for the sonographer. A familiar feeling that I have been lucky enough to not feel for over a year now. The woman came in, poured the cold jelly on me, and began the test. She took her photos, and then it was time for the pelvic portion. I laid there while she used the probe to take photos inside my uterus. It seemed like three hours, even though it wasn’t. I have had this imaging test two times prior to this, and it didn’t seem this long. I was looking up at the screen, trying to make sense of the images I was seeing. I saw holes that she was highlighting and writing down the measurements for. I didn’t know what any of it meant, but naturally, I always think the worst. The test felt far too long for anything to be normal. Finally, she was finished and said she was going to go show the doctor, and that she’d be back. What felt like an hour passed, and she came back in and said I could go home. I was trying to read her facial expressions but my fate wasn’t written on her face. I’m sure I will be okay, but I’m just scared. I’m too used to this feeling.

When I left the hospital, it was pouring outside. The sky was dark much like my mood. When I finally got home, my boyfriend came and held me because he knew I was scared. The flood gates opened and I sobbed to him. He reassured me it was going to be okay. He told me to talk to my body and say nothing is wrong, you’re going to be fine, we aren’t doing this again. He didn’t let go of me until he heard me say “It’s going to be fine, I am okay.” I am so grateful for this man. He has taken care of me and helped me through some of the darkest times and I wouldn’t have been able to survive any of this trauma without him.

I share these experiences in hopes that someone going through the same thing will read this and feel better. Maybe there’s another girl out there with the occasional breast pain that could breathe better after reading my story. Hopefully when I get my results, I can come back to my blog, my safe space, and make another girl feel better about her strange ovarian pain. We are humans, sometimes our bodies don’t cooperate. Its okay to be scared and worried, but practice optimism, strength and hopefulness, and help your body get through. Today, the sun is shining and I won’t let my fear drag on.

Remembering Anthony Bourdain

My boyfriend woke me up in a panic last Friday morning and told me Anthony Bourdain had passed away. My heart immediately started pounding and tears welled up in my eyes. Once he said the word “suicide,” the tears stopped welling and they started streaming. In the few days since this tragedy, I haven’t been able to stop breaking down. The tears keep creeping up on me. In fact, the night before his passing, my friend picked up my copy of “Kitchen Confidential” and asked me about it. I had been reading it on my travels. The eeriness is still lingering. I can’t recall ever reacting to a celebrity death in such a way, at least not for someone who I have loved for at least a decade.

I never had the opportunity to meet him, but Bourdain was one of the best people I have ever had the pleasure of idolizing. Memories of watching his various shows with my family will always be at the forefront of my mind. Whether it was Parts Unknown, No Reservations or The Layover, each one taught me something different and valuable about culture, cuisine, and travel. Everything about Anthony was admirable, and as a friend of mine said, he was “unapologetically himself.” His cynicism, brutal honesty and dark humor were just small pieces of the qualities that made him great. He was so much more than a celebrity chef and writer to me. His love for food, travel, and experience gave me motivation to do more in life than just spend my time sitting behind a desk. Now that he’s gone, I feel the urge more than ever to lead a life that he would be proud of. To travel to new places far and wide, put myself in uncomfortable situations, and eat food made in hole-in-the-wall establishments in nooks of the world that I would have never dreamed of visiting.

Anthony wasn’t afraid to say whatever was on his mind at any given moment, and made it his mission to expose people to parts of the world that they may have turned a nose up to otherwise. From writing about his summers on Cape Cod as a kid, to eating mystery meats in hidden corners of South East Asia, to traveling all the way to Iran and showing people what my homeland was really about; everything he wrote about, all the stories he told and the truths he shared were fascinating and more essential than many may have realized at the time. The world will truly forever be indebted to Anthony Bourdain for not being afraid to step outside his comfort zone so the rest of us could get a glimpse into the richness, traditions, and ingredients of other cultures far and wide. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Tony, for teaching me to slow down, stop, and take in everything going on around me. You gave me hope for the world. I will miss hearing your soothing voice, and sitting down with my boyfriend to watch your show while eating dinner. You will always remind me of home. I love you more than you’ll ever know. I just wish I’d have had the chance to say it in person. 

“I am so confused. It wasn’t supposed to be like this — of all the places, of all the countries, all the years of traveling, it’s here, in Iran, that I am greeted most warmly by total strangers.”
—”Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown, Iran,” November 2014
“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life—and travel—leaves marks on you.” – Anthony Bourdain
“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” 
― Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.” 
― Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” 
― Anthony Bourdain, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook
“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom…is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go. -Anthony Bourdain” 
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” 
― Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach
“Bad food is made without pride, by cooks who have no pride, and no love. Bad food is made by chefs who are indifferent, or who are trying to be everything to everybody, who are trying to please everyone… Bad food is fake food… food that shows fear and lack of confidence in people’s ability to discern or to make decisions about their lives.” – Anthony Bourdain

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

The Art of Salad Making

 

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The art of making a salad is sometimes overlooked. Salads tend to be viewed as a side dish, or a quick and easy meal. To me, there is so much more to a salad than just the basics. Sure, you can use iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots and cherry tomatoes, but why go basic when your salad can not only look like a work of art, but taste like one too? Below are my tips for making the perfect, nutrition-packed, color-popping, belly-pleasing salad.

Base: Ditch the boring greens. Romaine is fine and dandy but there are better options out there with not only more flavor, but more nutrients too. Try arugula, marinated kale, or spinach.

Raw: Think colorful! Colorful veggies pack tons of nutrients. Who doesn’t want to eat a vibrant meal that is also excellent for you? Switch it up a bit. Try radishes, shaved brussels sprouts, heirloom tomatoes, orange bell peppers, and purple carrots.

Roasted: Need to use last night’s roasted veggies? Throw them on top of your salad! My favorites are roasted sweet potatoes, roasted eggplant, roasted beets, roasted fennel and roasted string beans. They add complex flavor and make your salad feel like more of a hearty meal.

Fats: Fats are just as important as every other ingredient in your salad. Adding fat to your salad helps your body to absorb all the nutrients found in the veggies you choose, like beta-carotene, lycopene and more. I love adding avocado, feta cheese, olives, nuts, or seeds.

Protein: When it comes to salad, veggies are usually the star of mine, but a little added protein can help give you a boost. Some of my favorites include; raw tofu, hard-boiled egg, grilled chicken, hummus, or beans.

Healthy Toppers: Now that your salad is almost complete, you can add bursts of color and mega-nutrients by topping it with things like; pomegranate seeds, berries, fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro, artichoke hearts, pepitas, and maybe even some ground flax or hempseeds.

Dressing: There are two routes you can take with dressing; creamy or vinaigrette. If you’re going vinaigrette, I like using things like; a healthy oil base such as olive or avocado oil, vinegar such as apple cider or red wine, a citrus such as lemon or lime, some dijon mustard, and any herbs you like! If you’re going creamy, I’m a fan of; olive oil, greek yogurt, lemon, parsley, chives, dill, and minced garlic. Add all these ingredients to a blender and voila!

There you have it. It’s easy to pack on tons of calories to a salad, but with the right ingredients and right mindset, a salad can be the healthiest, most nutritious and most delicious meal of the day.

 

 

 

 

Healthy Blueberry Coconut French Toast Bake

 

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Ingredients

  • 8 cups bread, cubed (Use a good healthy brand, preferably whole grain, or gluten free)
  • 8 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 cups organic blueberries

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg whites, almond milk, honey, vanilla extract, almond extract, and most of the cinnamon. Whisk

  2. Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish and add the cubed bread.

  3. Pour the liquid mixture over the bread and mix it around until all parts of the bread are completely covered. Let sit for 30 minutes.

  4. Mix in the blueberries and coconut, and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon

  5. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.

  6. Before taking it out, check to make sure there is no more liquid. If there is, continue to bake in 2 minute increments until the liquid is gone.

  7. Once cooled, cut into square pieces and serve with pure maple syrup

Milestones and Mules

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This past weekend, I celebrated a pretty huge milestone in my healing journey. April 8th, 2017 was the day I received my test results showing that I had successfully killed my candida overgrowth. I can remember sitting at the dinner table with my boyfriend when I got the email that my results were in. My hands were shaking as I clicked “view,” and I wondered if all the hard work I had put in was going to pay off. Well, it did.

June 2016 to April 2017 was the hardest time in my life. It went by so slowly. The days were long, the tears were excessive, and the pain was intense. The hardest part of what I went through was not knowing how long it would take to heal, and if it even would. Looking back on that difficult time, it’s hard to believe that a year has passed since I gained the peace of mind I had been endlessly fighting for. I fought fucking hard. I had more discipline than I knew was possible. I didn’t give up on myself and I tried everything I could. And I made it.

The end of May 2017 was when I loosened up my diet, reduced the number of supplements, and began my journey towards a more normal way of life. It has been almost a year, and this year has flown by. My boyfriend asked me once what I would do differently in life once I felt better. My answer was that I wouldn’t wait for anyone to do things that made me happy and I would take advantage of what life had to offer, and I think I have lived up to that. I have been enjoying this past year maybe a little too much 🙂 My goals for the next year are: stay healthy, tone up again, visit a new country, get a new job, and find beauty in every day.

If you are going through tough times in life, I just want you to know that it gets better. If you fight for yourself and give healing your all, you will make it, and you will be celebrating like me. I’m looking so forward to celebrating this milestone in sunny Florida next week with a few moscow mules and the ocean breeze.

Curried Coconut Tomato Soup with Lentils and Greens

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This hearty soup is warming, delicious, healthy and so filling!

Ingredients

(Makes 6-8 Servings):

  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 large vidalia onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ginger, minced ( or substitute ground ginger)
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (more if you like it hot!)
  • pink salt to taste
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 13.5 oz. can lightcoconut milk
  • 1 13.5 oz. can full-fat coconut milk
    • if you like your soup on the richer/creamer side, use two full fat cans and omit the light can
    • if you like your soup lower calorie and less creamy, use two light cans and omit the full fat can
  • 1 1/2 cup uncooked green lentils, rinsed
  • 2 cups spinach, washed and de-stemmed
    • You can use any type of green! Kale or escarole are great too!
  • Bulgarian or Greek Yogurt for serving (omit if vegan)

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a pot over medium
  2. Add onion and cook/stir until softened & browned, about 10 minutes
  3. Add garlic, ginger, curry powder, and red pepper flakes, and cook/stir about 3 minutes
  4. Add lentils and cook/stir about 3 minutes
  5. Add 5 cups of water, tomatoes, and pink salt to taste, stir
  6. Add the coconut milk, bring to a boil
  7. Reduce heat and simmer the soup until the lentils are cooked, about 25-30 minutes.
  8. Garnish with yogurt and crushed red pepper
  9. Enjoy!

 

*This recipe is candida safe, refined sugar free, gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan!