Thursday, May 15, 2014

waiting on summer...

Isn't the world a funny place? All my California friends are sitting in front of their air conditioners eating ice cream all day and we have been patiently waiting for something that even resembles heat (there was SNOW last week!) A couple weeks ago we got tired of waiting and decided to make summer happen. I took my very last final on a Thursday afternoon and we loaded the car up and drove south until we hit summer, just as the sun was fading from the sky. 

We camped in the desert dust, under one bazillion stars. We explored the cliffs and hills around our campsite, collected rocks and chased lizards. We studied the art on the walls of the valley floor, and climbed high to watch the desert roll out into the horizon.

FUN FACT #1: My husband has four fingers on one hand (surprise!?). 
[note: 2 year old + exercise bike is not a good combination]. 
FUN FACT #2: I am fascinated with the Anasazi Indians, and love to study about their life once upon a time in our deserts. I was pretty excited when we saw this pictograph (see it--right in the center) with four fingers on the left hand......because, seriously, WHAT DOES IT MEAN?! 
It's some kind of sign....
desert heat // the little red house
Ali and I hiked waaaaay up high to sit in the breezy heat and take in the surroundings.....I mean, look at this view.
desert heat // the little red housedesert heat // the little red house
and then, we did this......
desert heat // the little red housedesert heat // the little red house
When you are desperate for sunshine and heat and your winter skin needs to be thawed, it's funny what you will do. You will sprawl out in sand.....that isn't really sand, just to soak up the heat. You will hike and hike and hike down the muddiest desert stream as your kids float and squeal down the "rapids". You will wonder what to do when you get stuck in the mud up to your knees and come thiiiiiiisssssss close to losing your shoes forever in the muck....
desert heat // the little red house
desert heat // the little red house
desert heat // the little red house
You will watch them float every day, alllllllllll day, because it' feels like summer.
desert heat // the little red house
desert heat // the little red house
 And that feels good.
all desert photos taken on my phone


We returned home to the cold and I still was craving the heat. As the snow fell in the mountains we drank tea and made spicy soup for dinner.
chicken curry soup // the little red house
Spicy Chicken and Coconut Curry Soup
adjust the heat to your liking by paling around with the amounts of chili flakes, ginger, and curry paste.

coconut oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces 
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
5 carrots, sliced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (extra seeds = extra heat)
large pinch of dried chili flakes (I used a few pinches)
1-2 TBS grated fresh ginger* (I used 2 for some extra zing)
4garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
1-2 TBS red curry paste (I used 2 for more heat)
4 cups chicken broth
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
extra chili flakes for garnish

*did you know you can freeze fresh ginger! yes! keep it in the freezer if you can't use it all up fast enough, and you can just grate it frozen when you need it.


1) Heat a few TBS of coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chicken to the oil with a pinch of salt.  Sauté until cooked through and golden. Remove chicken and set aside. Sauté the onion, pepper, carrots and jalapeno, adding more oil if necessary, until veggies are tender.

2) Return the chicken to the pot with the vegetables. Add the ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook for a few minutes. Add coconut milk and curry paste, and mix well. Stir in chicken broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add cilantro, and lemon juice. When soup comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 30 minutes, longer if you have the time--the longer you simmer, the more the flavors will have time to party.

Top with more cilantro, chili flakes, and cashews. 

Happy Weekend!

blogged 1 year ago: short stories
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

book report: It Starts with Food

(so yeah....when I say I'm going to research something.....I dive in deep. I am absolutely in no way affiliated with these Whole 30 people--these are 100% my own opinions)
it starts with food // the little red house
I promised to come back with a book report for It Starts With Food....

I loved it.
Like really, really loved it.
It is loaded with information--and it's also very entertaining. 
I knew I would like it--it's food + science--both are right up my alley, but I had no idea how much I would really learn and absorb.

The book is about healing--in more ways than one. Healing our bodies by taking in the most nutrient dense foods possible, and temporarily eliminating foods that could be causing inflammation or other troubles. It's about healing our relationships with food--how and why and what we eat.

I think the beauty of the book is that 10 different people could read it and all take different advice from it--there is something for everyone.

I read about the Whole 30 program (how/what to eat) BEFORE I read the book....and I really wondered why grains, and especially legumes needed to be eliminated for the 30 days. Well, both can cause inflammation--which can manifest itself differently in different people--fatigue, aches, pains, acne, allergies and the list goes on and on and on--there is an entire page....this intrigued me. I was on and off antibiotics for 3 years for Lyme which absolutely wreaked havoc on my entire body. I have spent the last two years trying to heal and rebuild, and never once considered that maybe the whole grains, beans, and peanut butter I love to eat could be hindering my healing process.

Grains, beans and dairy aren't "bad" for you (unless of course they are causing inflammation somewhere in your body), and the book does not recommend eliminating them for life....just 30 days, and then over 10 days you slowly reintroduce everything to see if anything upsets your system. You can then eat according to what makes you feel good.

You don't need to eat this way for life--it's 30 days. If down the road--maybe months or years after you do W30, you feel old habits creeping back--sugar addictions, processed food, not enough vegetables, you can do the program again--even just a few days of it, to kick start your system. The book is about finding a healthy balance in the food we eat.

Do you wake up hungry? I don't--at all. Well guess what?.....we are supposed to. The hormones in our bodies are in there to keep us feeling full all night, and wake up feeling hungry--asking for fuel for our day ahead. I usually get up and get the kids breakfast and off to school, and then come home and make myself a big leisurely breakfast before I head to class. It's usually 2+ hours after I wake up that I actually sit down and eat....this was all new to me.

I have a great relationship with food (pat on back). I was pretty sure I did, but I wondered before I read this book if it would make me feel guilty for enjoying treats....and it didn't! It confirmed to me that I am on the right track, while encouraging me to continue to explore food, eat more vegetables than I ever thought necessary, and enjoy a treat from time to time (done.)

Somehow I am on day 9--ha! I honestly had zero intentions of eating this way for 9 days--I was going to make a treat for Mother's Day, and then I had a cold and couldn't decided not to waste my time. So here I am, eating vegetables 3 meals a day and not even the teeniest piece of chocolate....and it feels good. If I had a cookie tomorrow I know I'm technically out of the club, but I will continue to eat this way when I can, and enjoy treats, and cheese and everything else when I want to.....that's just how I roll. Mmm...rolls.
I'm basically using this time to "reset" my system--you'll read below that I actually did a very similar program (it was sooooo much harder before) a few years ago.

-more vegetables
-waking up and eating within an hour--I'm working on getting my hormones in order
-eating more at breakfast and lunch to keep me full longer during the day
I want to read the book again in a few months and see what new things I can work on.

-Honestly, everyone.

-I wish I had read this years ago!
A few of you that have been with me for a while may remember when a Dr. put me on a similar diet when we were still experimenting with Lyme treatment--it was absolutely awful, it was only meats, veggies, and nuts (not even fruit!)--and I hardly ate meat at the time, and I didn't eat the variety of veggies that I eat today--I was hungry and sad and didn't understand WHY I was doing it--I was never told the science behind it, only that I shouldn't eat these things. I really had a limited food knowledge, didn't cook that well, and I was also coming off of eating mostly processed foods, so the transition was hard. But after the month of starving, I started to research on my own WHY we need to eat real, whole foods, and how they can help our bodies. That was my turning point--and as much as I hated those 30 days, they changed me, and I am always looking for ways to improve (like reading this book).

-If you find yourself eating a lot of processed food, this book is awesome at explaining why you shouldn't, and it really guides you step by step on how to get yourself on track. Read it.

-You should read this book if you have an unhealthy relationship with sugar. Do you have a hard time passing sugar up? If there is candy in front of you do you eat it every time? Do you NEED sugar every day? Read this book. I love that it talks about "special treats"--treats you make from scratch, dessert enjoyed with your friends or family--something special. One of my favorite quotes is

"One thing we'll tell you right now--the box of doughnuts (or the open bag of pretzels, or the bag of M&Ms) sitting on the break-room counter is not special. You're a grown up. You earn your own money. And if you want doughnuts, pretzels, or a bag of M&Ms, you can walk right into any supermarket or convenience store and buy them. These foods are not special. They're not homemade, or a once-a-year treat, and we're pretty sure they don't evoke fond childhood memories of sitting around the dining room table while Mom pulls things out of the oven [...]Don't indulge in something that's less healthy just because it's around."

-Need to kick a soda habit? Read this book. Soda should be treated as an every-once-in-a-while treat. NOT a drink. An icy Coke with a big chunk of lime + really good fish tacos is a must for me--but it's a treat, not an every day occurrence. It you find that you NEED soda, you should break that habit.

-Do you have a fat phobia? Years ago (before my knowledge of whole food) I thought we were so healthy--you know, because we ate low fat yogurt, and reduced fat peanut butter (ps. that is NOT  peanut butter), low fat turkey bacon (gag). Low fat, non fat.....blehck. Nothing we were eating was real. I was terrified of consuming "fat", because I had no knowledge of good fats. This book encourages you to EAT FAT. But the good kinds! Our bodies need different fats to function and thrive. If you need to heal your relationship with fat, then this book is for YOU.

-Do you have diabetes? Read this book.
-Are you overweight? Read it.
-Do you want to know WHY food reacts in our bodies the way it does? This book is for you.
-Do you have two legs, walk upright, and put food into your mouth with your hands? Then I would totally recommend this book. I truly think there is something for everyone.

About The Whole 30 Program--these are 100% my listen, or don't.
If you decide to embark on the Whole 30 journey:
-easy on the processed meats. In researching meal ideas, there is a lot of salami and sausage and bacon and pepperoni going on. Even if they are "W30 compliant", and even though I enjoy these things in small amounts (mmmm bacon) do know you shouldn't eat bacon every day, right? Ok, just checking. Don't make your main protein sources these meats too often.
-I've found many people doing the program haven't read, or don't even have the desire to read It Starts with Food. This is what makes parts of W30 seem like a trend to me--people just jumping on board without even knowing why they are doing it....just so they can say they "did it". Read WHY it's important, or you will never be able to change your lifestyle and relationship with food.
-Again, while scouring the web (you guys I was out of school last week so I had all kinds of time to do my research), I've seen girls resorting to EATING BABYFOOD. whhhaaaaaattttttt. You know, because "I just needed a sweet fix." THIS IS NOT THE POINT OF THE PROGRAM. You are supposed to be eating REAL food, and working on your relationship with it...not regressing back to when you were 8 months old. Eat an apple--you have teeth.
-Don't become obsessive. Even if you are eating 100% healthy 100% of the time--if you are obsessing over your food, it's not a healthy relationship. Relax and breathe.

-Read It Starts with Food . Your library should have it (although you may be #76 on the waiting list), or you can find it HERE. I think it's a book you will reference for many many years.
-Take from the book what works for YOU, and ignore what works for everyone else. Any progress towards a healthier lifestyle is a great step.
-Be nice. 
Why do I always have to say this? Don't judge people because they eat differently than you do--you are better than that. Disagree with everything I just said? Fine--don't be mean about it. Don't be so uptight. I used the #whole30 hashtag on a few of my photos on Instagram (totally W30 approved obviously) and was scolded because "you also have a picture of cake in your feed, which is not Whole 30 compliant, so this may cause confusion if people come to your recipes as a reference for Whole 30....thanks for understanding, kissy wink face emoji."
You guys!! Did you know there are hashtag police? What a world we live in! So again, just be nice, mind your own business, and seriously TAKE A BREATH.  

Ok. Enough yapping. Who's hungry?
These are a new favorite around here....
chicken curry wraps // the little red house
Thai Chicken Wraps
whole 30 compliant, this fed my family of 4
-2 chicken breasts
-1 TBS green curry paste
-1/2 cup-1 cup coconut milk
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-fresh ginger
-carrots, shredded
-bell pepper, sliced
-red cabbage
-bean sprouts (not pictured.....our tiny store was out, but we love bean sprouts....I need to grow my own. )
-green onions
-chili sauce (optional)

-dice chicken breasts and sauté' in coconut oil on medium heat until cooked through. Add minced garlic, fresh ginger, (I used about 1", and grated it) curry paste and 1/2-3/4 cup coconut milk, depending on how saucy you want it. Heat through. 
-Add to washed romaine leaves, and top with veggies, cashews, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. 
NOT PICTURED: because I was hungry and forgot when I took the picture--take some coconut milk, and add in some chili sauce and lime to spice up your wrap.

Thank you ALL for your great comments on last week's Whole 30 post! Keep them coming- I love food talk.
Happy Eating.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

friday senses

woohoo for friday! here is a little peek at our week....

seeing: snow. yep. snow. the last few mornings we've woke up to fresh white stuff on the mountain. luckily it's staying up there (I mean c''s May), but we are definitely ready for some warmer temperatures....and soon please.
counting down: 15 days left of school for the kids!! We have all given up on getting to bed on time, and they have been playing outside every night until sundown....I have lost all control.
not missing: sugar. If you read my post yesterday, you saw that I am studying this whole Whole 30 business. I love so many things about it, and while I don't think I'll be doing the 30 day program any time soon, (I'm still super hung up on so much meat) I committed myself to this whole week and it's been great. My favorite part has been coming up with new meal ideas--so many vegetables! I don't eat a ton of sugar during the week usually, but I thought I might miss my dark chocolate after dinner or peanut butter and chocolate chip spoonful at 4:00 that sometimes accidentally happens. (tell me it happens to you too) I really haven't missed it. Who knows--maybe I'll have a treat this weekend, maybe not, but it feels good to know that sugar doesn't have a hold on me like it once upon a time did.
thanking: you guys! I LOVED all of your comments on yesterday's post--thank you thank you for chiming in! It's so great to learn from each other.

sleeping: under one billion trillion stars last weekend. If you haven't seen the stars in the desert, then you haven't seen the stars.
watching: I basically didn't watch any tv these past few months--2014 has been pretty much tv-less. The few times we turned it on I felt like everything was that true these days? Are there any shows worth watching anymore?
loving: In last month's natural beauty post, I briefly mentioned Aztec Secret Clay. I have been using it since then and really loving the results. My skin still has a ways to go, but it is clearing up better than it has in years. I'll do another post on it in a month or so--but seriously check it out. I mix it with THIS --my very favorite apple cider vinegar.
exploring: new places last weekend--every time I visit the desert I love it even more (I'll share a few more snaps next week)
asking: ok someone teach me about essential oils. I know I am really late to the game here, but I am so interested in them, and have no idea where to begin--
brand/favorite oils/must have/etc. 
you guys are always so smart--teach me.
go green juice // the little red house
Go Green Juice
this one is a zinger--one of my new favorites! bonus: stir in some chia seeds
-3 big handfuls of spinach
-1/2 of a cucumber
-1 large piece of pineapple
-handful of parsley (I am loving parsley in juice!)
1 lemon, peeled
1/2" piece of ginger

Do you have a favorite juice right now?

happy weekend! 
and happy mother's day mamas!
(a favorite mother's day post HERE)

blogged 1 year ago: tiny flock
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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

whole yadda yadda

I'm baaaaa-aaaack....!
Finished up my finals last week--woohoo! One semester down.....400 more to go.

For the past few months I've been hearing a whollllle lot about Whole 30. 
What's Whole 30 you ask? Check it out HERE. 
(long story short: no sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, soy and then some other little ones--for 30 days straight, then you add them back in.) 

Here has been the progression of my thoughts on Whole 30:
-total fad diet. I hate fads. and diets. moving on.
-ok, it's seeming less like a diet. but it's definitely a bandwagon. I also don't like being on bandwagons. or off bandwagons. or whatever it is you do with bandwagons....not for me.
-what?! there is a book? there is science behind this?! I love food science! I may need to read this.
-over a few weeks I looked through different Whole 30 approved meals--partly out of curiosity, and partly just looking for new meal ideas.....some of this stuff is GOOD.
-Last Monday I was cleaning up dinner and realized that my entire day had been a "Whole 30" day....and not on purpose.
-So then I was like, ok....let's see what this is all about. Two more days of it, no problem....really. I already have cut out a lot of gluten this year--I've been trying to figure out how to clear up my skin. I've curbed my sugar cravings--we've really only had treats on special occasions and a weekend here and the first 3 days were no biggie.
-................and then we went camping, and because I wasn't really invested in this crazy thing, nor had I read the book, I didn't really care enough to continue through a camping weekend. So I ate chili with beans, curry with rice, and dutch oven brownies (oh yesssss).
-I started the book, and so far it is just fascinating! I'm not very far in, but I love what I'm learning so far. I've been eating 100% W30 these past couple of days and I honestly love coming up with meal ideas that work.....and yet I still have no intentions of carrying this thing out 30 days.

-in my last few weeks of research I've found so many good recipes and helpful tips on Instagram.....but then it started feeling a lot like a clique.....and I hated that. Like fads and bandwagons, I absolutely detest cliques. They feel gross and slimy and I want no part. I think too many people have become a little obsessed with this latest health movement, and a couple of times I've witnessed (via the internet obviously) strangers belittling any other lifestyle that is not "Whole 30 approved". And I think that's LAME. I've read stupid comments like "some people just aren't strong enough to do something like this." 
You are not elite because you don't eat tortillas for a month honey, sorry.
There is no ONE right way. It's about finding what is right for YOU. Never ever ever let someone make you feel like your own healthy choices are not the "right" healthy choices. 
I really had to laugh as I read through some of these girls' comments to eachother--catty and ignorant sounding--bashing one another's lifestyles. Girls, stop it.....seriously. It's like if you're not eating by these rules, you might as well eat fast food every single meal, and you will die a slow and painful artery clogged death. Not so.
*I'm not saying everyone who does the program is this way....I just read too many snarky comments that rubbed me the wrong way. 

-I have a healthy relationship with food. I eat a little of this and a little of that, and that's how we like it. After reading alot of W30 testimonials, I have found that many of the people who started, did so because they were eating loads and loads of sugar and needed a good way to stop. If sugar is your vice--then I think this would be an excellent lifestlye change for you! Seriously, check it out.  I feel like my sugar intake is under I'm not needing W30 for that.

-by taking out legumes and grains, most of the Whole 30 people I see are eating meat daily--or close to it. We only eat meat a couple times a week--for cost purposes because I buy properly raised meat, and also because meat every day just seems heavy to me.

-in the handful of days that I have eaten W30, I have gotten more veggies in than ever before. We eat vegetables every day normally....but taking out grains and legumes has really made me load up--breakfast lunch and dinner--it feels good to be downing so many different colors.

-last year at the beginning of summer I had to have a colonoscopy (you're thinking "whaaaaaaaaaat") and before you go in for the procedure you have to do a total cleanse--EVERYTHING MUST GO! After I did it, I can't even tell you how good I felt. I am a naturally sleepy person....but I had ridiculous energy, I slept so well, my headaches were gone, and I felt like a film had been removed from over my brain--everything was so clear. This lasted for a while, and slowly faded as summer turned to fall. The more I read into the "WHY'S of this program--many of the things we eat cause inflammation and other health issues--a little bit of me wonders if I took out these things for a month and slowly added them would I feel? hhmmm.

-what fascinates me most is the healing powers of food. I know this already because of my history with Lyme--we completely changed our diet because of it. I have been reading of so many people with different ailments, and how they've found great success by eating this way--I really believe food can be our best medicine.

I'm still reading the book--I love to learn whether I end up fully applying my new knowledge or not.
I'm still thinking up Whole 30 recipes because I like the challenge of it.
I'm still planning on sharing Lucy's birthday cake this month. And she's debating between pizza or sushi, and I won't be the mom who doesn't eat her daughter's birthday dinner.
Mostly....I'm just curious....and I think that's a good thing in life.
taco salad // the little red house
Taco Salad
hey this is Whole 30 approved! 
To make it non-W30 and (obviously) extra tasty add tortilla chips, black beans, and pepperjack cheese.

-ground beef, browned and seasoned with chili powder, ground chipotle flakes, cumin, smokey paprika, minced garlic, salt (don't buy taco seasoning--just mix up your own spices!)
-sweet potatoes, diced and tossed in coconut oil and roasted at 425°
-chopped romaine
-bell peppers
-green onions

Avocado Dressing
In blender combine:
2 avocados
juice of two limes
large handful of cilantro
small handful red onion
1 jalapeno (with or w/out seeds)
spoonful of real mayo (make sure it doesn't have soybean oil or any mystery ingredients if you're going for W30)
splash of white vinegar 
while blender is running, drizzle in some olive oil until smooth and creamy

To learn more about Whole 30, or just read about some really interesting food science,
 check out the book:
It Starts with Food

Not convinced on Whole 30 but want to read about moderation? 
Look into this post I wrote last fall on Eating Well

Just eat what you want and don't be judgmental about it.

What are your thoughts on this Whole 30 business? 
I'd love to hear your success stories, or why it maybe didn't work for you.
Are you curious? Me too!
I'll let you know my thoughts when I finish the book.