hello friends! so, this installment of ‘life changer thursday’ is coming at ya a day early, but i figured with thanksgiving just around the corner (ie: tomorrow!) this would be a great way to start off the holiday! my friend angel so graciously agreed to share her incredible story with us and let me tell you, it’s truly inspirational. so enjoy today! eat lots of yummy foods tomorrow, and be blessed and inspired by angel’s story! happy thanksgiving!
a LOT of people have been asking me “okay, but what do you eat?!” valid. and really, i don’t know most of the time…. honestly, most of the stuff i post on here is on our weekly dinner menu, but over the next few weeks i am going to try to take pictures of my meals as a sort of food diary so both of us can see what my diet consists of…..minus thanksgiving because no one should eat as much pie as i will on thursday….or at least no one should document it… so if you don’t follow me yet on instagram, now’s the time to do it!
okay, so.. YOU GUYS. OMG. this parmesan cheese is RIDICULOUS! i got the recipe from my friend’s mom yesterday, and have been eating it literally by the spoonful ever since. if you are looking for a delicious topping for…..well….anything….this magic little concoction is it! its delish on eggs, pasta, as a soup topper, by itself… it’s easy, tastes great, and is waaaaaaaaaaay (listen) WAY better for you than whatever we are made to believe is in the green shaker bottle of parmesan from the grocery store. just. try. this!
1/2 cup raw brazil nuts
1 clove of garlic
2 T nutritional yeast (okay don’t give up on this right here bc you don’t know what this is. you can find it at most grocery stores in the health food section and it’s amazing. it’s chock full of B vitamins and it has a cheesy flavor that is really delish. i use it to make healthy mac and ‘cheese’, but that will be for another day..)
1/2 tsp salt
place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until it looks like bread crumbs. i store mine in the fridge and it keep for at least 2 weeks…if i don’t eat it all first.
fyi: in a pinch i have used other nuts, like almonds, but brazil nuts are the best, if possible.
okay okay…i promise to have a whole SLEW of pictures for you to see of the ol’ homestead sometime soon, but for now…i am only getting one
room area done at a time. today’s installment: the dining room……aaaaannd it’s still missing some chairs….but it’s all i got for ya folks, sorry.
this weekend will take more pictures of the bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, and office..i will….i will….i will…. it’s actually good motivation for me to get this place in shape…..
i mean, let’s get real: is there anything more comforting than pot pie? it’s warm, it’s creamy, it’s just delish in a dish. and lucky for you, this one’s good for you! so eat to your heart’s content. well. be reasonable. moderation is always the key. but really. go hog-wild. this is perfect for the holidays too! A nice big scoop of creamy pot pie goes well with any thanksgiving meal!
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3-4 redskin potatoes unpeeled and diced
1 large white onion chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
2 medium zuchinni chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, quartered
2 tbs garlic powder
4-6 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
frozen gluten free pie crust, thawed ( i like the ‘immaculate’ brand-actually it’s sold at target!)
2 cups almond milk
1/2 c. white or wheat flour (or for a gluten free option use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cornstarch dissolved in water to create a paste then add to milk)
2 tbs garlic powder
1 vegetarian bullion cube
salt and pepper to taste
preheat oven to 400 degrees
in a large glass baking dish, or two baking pans, combine butternut squash, sweet potatoes, redskin potatoes, onion, carrots, zucchini, and garlic. cover in olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper and toss together, making sure all the veggies are coated. bake for 45 minutes or until all veggies are soft and starting to brown.
over medium heat, whisk milk, flour, garlic powder, bullion cube, salt and pepper together until free of lumps. allow to thicken over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until thick, adding more flour/cornstarch if needed to thicken into a creamy sauce.
when veggies are done roasting and still warm, pour sauce over veggies and top with thawed pie crust. (if veggies were roasted on two baking sheets, pour all veggies into one glass baking dish first). i usually need to roll the dough a little further to fit the pan and cover the veggies completely.
bake according to the pie crust directions, until the crust is golden brown. serve warm!
guest post! guest post! GUEST POST!! i am SO excited to announce a new event happening on my blog! “life changer thursday” will be a reoccurring event here….until i run out of guest posters! this will be a chance for friends, family, strangers, to post about how making a change in their life, well….changed their life! it may be in the food department, exercise, seeing a really great therapist (all advice welcome!!), dating, marriage, kids, or any other event or change that has made a positive impact in your life. i just want this to be a time where people are encouraged and motivated, and i think hearing other peoples’ stories can be so powerful. so to start, my friend eleanor has volunteered to get things going! she has an incredible story of overcoming her chronic illness, and i can’t wait to share it with you! be inspired! and if you have an inspiring or life changing story to tell, email me! firstname.lastname@example.org
so without further ado: eleanor’s story:
Question: Have you ever really, I mean really looked at all the choices there are in the local grocery store? Let’s even just say, for cereal (yeah, that’s right, cereal)? Stores reserve an ENTIRE aisle just for cereal. And I mean a looooong aisle too, not your tiny-pack-everything-into-one-aisle-Trader-Joes-style aisle. We are talking about an aisle so long you have to squint to see the end. Now, imagine looking through all those boxes and trying to find just one box that doesn’t have sugar in it. I dare you. Double dare. Before we continue here, let me explain my story:
My healthy food lifestyle story, (yes that is a fancy way of saying ‘diet’), is really, truly, a life change. Not a fad, or a number I was trying to reach on that horrible scale I never should have bought, but a big change, a hard change, and the best change I ever made.
I don’t really know where to start, so let me just put you right into the thick of my thoughts or else this might turn into a novel:
I have always been an active, healthy person. I grew-up in a house where we made all our own meals, there was never a pop in the fridge or cookies in a cookie jar (were cookie jars real or was it just a song?). We were the “co-op grocery store” shoppers, the “homemade bread” kind of family. But, then I went to college. Cafeteria food entered my world, and I LOVED it. King size rice crispy bars 24/7, late night Mac and Cheese, and of course as a poor college kid I didn’t want to spend more than $40 at the grocery store every two week, if I could help it. Well, as a result, my stomach started to ache. You know, just the usual ache here and there, the once in a while ache from stuffing my stomach so full I could burst, or the occasional ache of a balloon in the stomach. This is normal right? That is what I thought for years. Until…Drum roll……
I had a baby. Now don’t get me wrong, he is the cutest little blue eyed baby the world ever did see! But, well, he gave me Chronic Hives. Babies do that sometimes (something to look forward to, those of you who don’t yet have kids!). I’ve known moms who have ended up needing glasses after being pregnant, moms whose hair turned curly, and even moms who were blessed with perfect skin after the blessed event (I hate these women!) Aaaaaand, then there was me. I was blessed with Chronic Hives. Never heard of such a thing? Yeah, me neither, until I finally went into an allergist to solve my “hive mystery”. I had been breaking out in hives EVERY NIGHT for 4 months all over my stomach, legs, back, and arms after my sweet boy was born. Go ahead, Google Chronic Hives, it is legit. Overall, unfortunately, my doctor didn’t have any good answers or advice on how to help me aside from taking drugs, which I wasn’t a fan of since I was breastfeeding. Frustrated and defeated, I called my mom for help (she is a research queen). She read that Chronic Hives can be caused by such triggers as certain types of foods, stress, lack of sleep, and exhaustion. Oh yeah, did I mention I just had a baby? Stress, lack of sleep….it all started making sense. But the biggest trigger for me was FOOD.
FOOD. I was tired of breaking out in hives. I needed to change my food choices. I took a deep breath, and then a REALLY deep breath, and cut out ALL sugars (with the exception of honey) ALL processed foods and ALL grains. Now listen: the first 3 weeks were horrible. I love to eat, and I now felt hungry every second of the day. I did eat, I ate all the time, but my body wasn’t satisfied. My body and mind were going through sugar withdrawals, grain withdrawals, Trader-Joe’s-dark-chocolate-sea-salt-covered-almond withdrawals! But I had to do this. I was tired of my skin feeling like fire every night. And before I knew it, there it was: the light at the end of the tunnel! And it was BRIGHT! My hives stopped. And on top of that, even more exciting things started to happen. My stomach seemed to disappear, as in, I couldn’t feel any more aches, no more bloating, no more uncomfortable ‘jean button popping after meals’ kind of thing. My energy stayed up throughout the day. WOW, it was amazing, and still is amazing. Sometimes I take the plunge and enjoy that big glass of sugary red wine or a mouth-watering piece of truffle chocolate cake but the aftermath always reminds me of why I made my lifestyle change. Uncomfortable aches, itchy skin, sleepy eyes and food cravings, be gone! I am now fueling my body for the long haul.
So I started off talking about cereal, but I could replace “cereal” with “t.v. dinners”, “bags of chips”, “frozen pizzas”, “Hamburger Helper”, or any and all of the processed foods that tempt us daily. We are in a country where sugar and processed foods are in every food aisle we walk down. As for me, I am sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store where most of the real food lies, and am loving my hive free skin, my ache free stomach and knowing that I am fueling my body with the good stuff that will keep me healthy! You too, have this same ability to only consume foods that are REAL, in their most natural form, but it is not always easy. Most rewarding things in life aren’t easy, and are usually the hardest to achieve. But that’s what makes it SO rewarding.
So ladies and gents you now know why I finally changed my lifestyle, starting with food. A lot of good info goes in one ear and out the other, but our ‘instant gratification button’ we Americans have just won’t cut it when it comes to health. It takes time. But feeling good over the course of your life, is time well spent.
it’s been super stressful around here lately….packing, cleaning, moving, unpacking, more cleaning….’discussions’ with the builders on trim colors, furniture shopping….*sigh*. all good, all fun, all such blessings, but all stressful for me. and my body doesn’t handle stress well.
as a sufferer with IBD, crohns, or colitis, you may well know that stress can be a MAJOR trigger when it comes to our delicate G.I.’s. and for me, it most definitely is just that. usually, my symptoms or a ‘flare’ will happen after a stressful time period. for example, when we packed up, moved across the country, lived in a new city, paul was in graduate school, i had to find a new job, quitting my first job there, finding a new job, being the sole provider for us while pauly was in school, hoping he would find a job, waiting on call backs from his interviews, and then packing up and moving back across the country: no flares. totally symptom free. it was glorious. but then…living back home where we are familiar with everything and everyone and love every inch of this state and our home: one of my worst flares to date. …..makes total sense….(read: WTF?!!)
if you have read my previous posts on my battle with UC you will know it was then (right after we moved back to MN) that i sought out natural medicine to help calm my symptoms and heal my colon. it was also at this time (a little before we moved back, actually) that i got really serious about my diet. i decided to try becoming a vegetarian because i had read that often times UC sufferers do well with cutting out meat (fatty, red meat especially). these meats are hard for anyone’s colon to break down and digest, but with UC-ers it’s extra taxing on our guts. ……and you know…it really worked. i noticed a LOT fewer stomach aches and pains, i slept MUCH better, and i just felt really good. it was then that this thought popped into my head: “huh…maybe what i put into my body…..(wait for it…) actually affects how i feel…….” (insert angelic chorus!) and i am not kidding when i say that this thought has changed my life. (and pauly’s…but we will get to that later…)
through the support of some friends, i really started to dig into the idea healing myself with healthy food (and natural medicine). i started paying more attention to how i felt after eating certain foods, and then started adjusting my diet accordingly. now listen: i said i started paying attention, meaning, i did NOT overnight become a vegan. just to be extra clear. this has been a lifestyle change, and one in which, i am still in process. but this slow life change (notice i did not say ‘diet’) has led to other areas of ‘health-seeking’, if you will. i started seeing a natural pathologist for my flares, and found out exercising on the regular is actually a good thing too….(who knew…) one good healthy choice begets, another good healthy choice, begets another and so on and so on…
so now on days when i eat cookies and don’t work out, i know 1) this isn’t how most of my days go, so i don’t need to beat myself up about it 2) i know what healthy choices to make to get myself back on track and 3) i can look back and see how far i’ve come as motivation to keep going. but again: at first i did beat myself up for making poor eating choices..i didn’t have any idea what healthy choices to make to get on track…and i couldn’t look back on any progress to keep going…. all i could do at the beginning is make the next healthy choice. sometimes only one a day. (or, let’s get real, sometimes none a day….hello PMS?!)
so, anyway… what i have been learning lately (over the past 2 years or so..) is that life causes stress, yes. but junky foods stress my body too. and food stress, as well as environmental stress, is proving to have the same affect on my UC and really my body in general…..does that make sense?
so when people ask me (and a LOT of people do) ‘do you really think your diet is linked to your symptoms?’ or ‘do you really think your diet helps alleviate your flares?’ my answer is always: ‘without a doubt. i really do believe that.’
so get out there and eat something delicious and nutritious! for the health of it!
last wednesday we officially did it! the plergs (paul + leah+ berg) packed our boxes and moved down the road, out of the city, and straight to the SUBURBS. to be honest, i cried the first night here. don’t get me wrong, i love our new place, but our condo in downtown was home. our house is starting to take the shape of ‘home’….but just not completely…not yet…
we’ve had a packed week though, with family, friends, and some awesome food (of course). and i MUST insert an official shout out to my parents here. they were UNREAL in our moving process. we worked them like DOGS every day they were here, and i can honestly say that we would have been (what’s the nice way of saying this….) ‘in a LOT of trouble’ if they had not offered their help! so thank you mom and dad! we cannot even begin to say thank you enough!!
so, i was hoping to have lots of pictures to share or do a little ‘home tour’ today, buuuuuuuuut……things are still a weeeeee bit messy and unorganized around this joint so you’ll just have to wait …..with bated breath, i’m sure..
here’s a little sneak peak, but much much much more to come! ……………okay…back to unpacking……
yesterday we had our final walk through for the house! close date is next wednesday! CAN. YOU. BELIEVE. IT?! everything is pretty much finished….sidewalks and driveway are supposed to go in by monday too! sadly, no sod or landscaping until the spring. DANG this cold! DANG IT ALL TO H!!!
however……. i did have a small heart attack when we walked up to the house yesterday and saw this:
apparently they had misread the plans and needed to correct the roof line here. seems like a lot of extra work for something we NEVER would have noticed, but…..whatever…..
.i have learned to just go with the flow on all things home building….. haha kidding. but it is what it is.
in brighter news, my parents, sissiebear and bro-in-law are all here now too! so, it’s real! it’s happening! we are officially moving in! (cue nervous vomit: here). AND we FINALLY picked out a couch/living room furniture! although we of course waited until the 11th hour, and it won’t be delivered until mid december, i REALLY love what we picked and can’t wait to show you all pictures! AND AND! our table arrived! we had a big farm style table made for us by someone near to Fargo, and it’s beautiful! (and was really super inexpensive: win win.) but….in true fashion of our home building experience, it was the wrong size in both length and width, and we have to send it back and get a replacement…(insert my new mantra here: ‘first world problems…first world problems…first world problems..’ ‘this is NOT a big deal…first world problems..’) all things considered things are really going well and we are so pumped for wednesday!
LOTS more to come! stay tuned!
today is the day! my sissiebear’s birthday!! back when emma was little, she used to say her birthday was “toe-vember 9th” and we still call it that to this day. she was the CUTEST GIRL EVER. (proof in the pictures)
AND, she has GRACIOUSLY volunteered to be here for her birthday and help us move! who does that?! the best sissie in the world, that’s who.
so, thank you emma, for being the best sister i could ever hope for! you bless me every day and i don’t know what i would do without you in life. you are the funniest person i know, you totally get me, even through text messages, and i love that we just know what the other person is thinking, pretty much instantly. i love you so much and am so excited for this next year ahead for you! big things in store!!
pesto used to scare me. it seems so hoity-toity. but this is SO simple and SO delicious. you HAVE to try it! i make a few batches at a time and freeze or refrigerate the extra because it lasts such a long time. honestly, i eat this pasta cold, straight from the tupperware. hashtag: not ashamed.
1 1/2 cups chopped basil
1/3 cup almonds (or combination of nuts such as walnuts, almonds, pine nuts..)
1/3 cup olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste
your choice of pasta ( i use rice pasta)
cherry tomatoes, to garnish
in a food processor, combine basil , almonds/nuts of choice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. pulse until well combined.
cook pasta according to the package directions. pour pesto over top of drained noodles and mix to combine. top with cherry tomatoes to garnish and serve. great served with garlic toast!