When most of us think of "authentic" Thanksgiving, we think of a large feast provided by loved ones....and a special thanks to Mrs. Smith, Libby, Stouffer, Pillsbury, Stovetop, Jiffy...etc, etc. This was MY "authentic" Thanksgiving tradition during my teen and young adult years-- although, we did also cater some from Furr's Cafeteria.
If you're on this blog then you probably already know by now that almost 4 years ago, I had to drastically change my way of life. At first, it started with the foods I ate, but it quickly evolved into something much greater. I truly believe when you start to honor yourself in such a loving way, via real nourishment, you become much more aware of other areas of your life where you can continue with a FULL life detox (behaviors, friends, etc).
Since beginning this new and improved way of living, I have learned that leading by example is the best form of persuasion. Luckily, I have a supportive family and I have been overjoyed to see the ripple effect in action. When it came to my first Thanksgiving eating clean, I was extremely apprehensive. Not only was I eating clean, but I was on stage 1 of the Body Ecology Diet (which is FAR more exclusive than just eating clean). Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because I have been a foodie since birth. I assumed that swapping my "tradition" for these different recipes would taint MY holiday. Well, not only was I pleasantly surprised at the outcome of our first CLEAN Thanksgiving spread, but so was my family! It also got me thinking. Thanksgiving is all about gratitude and tradition. If you were to really think about this holiday's origins, you would come to realize that these people joining together weren't breaking bread made from a box with GMO wheat and harmful nonsense. They were eating food made from pure, clean ingredients! This not only adds value to the quality of the food for obvious reasons, but I believe that that labor of love truly enhances the food.
SO, JOIN ME to learn how to kick it old-school with some delicious samples and recipes-- so that you can share a NEW, more authentic Thanksgiving tradition with your family...and when you go around the table and give thanks for your health, you can truly feel like you gifted your family with food that will go to the healing and nourishment of their bodies.
I have gone through quite a few carrot cake recipes over the years to come up with the perfect birthday cake for my lovely mother!
She has always been quite particular about her carrot cake, enthusiastically expressing that she doesn't want a "spice cake"...meaning, she wants actual carrots in the carrot cake AND a lot of walnuts!
In my process of cleaning up recipes, I usually use Google to find a "traditional" recipe with good reviews and then, I make the necessary swaps. In this particular recipe's case, I used all organic ingredients, changed the oil, exchanged some oil for apple sauce, swapped the wheat flour for brown rice flour + tapioca flour, replaced the sugar with lower GI sweeteners, improved the quality of salt and butter, and for the sake of my beautiful mother-- amped up the amount of nuts and carrots!
I hope you enjoy!
FOR THE CAKE
2 1/2 - 3 cups lightly packed, grated carrots (approx 4-6 carrots)
3/4 - 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (more for topping the cake if desired)
1 3/4 cups brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp pink or sea salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup coconut oil
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups brown coconut sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract or Frontier vanilla flavoring
FOR THE FROSTING
(I don't prefer a thick layer of frosting so, if you are someone who does, I would suggest doubling this recipe or doing an additional half.)
1 lb. organic cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grass-fed, unsalted butter (1/2 stick), softened
3/4 cup xylitol, powdered (if you prefer, you can also use non-gmo erythritol or stevia. If using stevia, measure to taste...start at 1/2 tsp and you may want to double the recipe because it won't leave you with much frosting)
1 TBSP pure vanilla extract or Frontier vanilla flavoring
1/2 tsp pink or sea salt
For Cake and Frosting
There has been something weighing heavy on my heart the past few days so, I figured I should write it out. If you're like me, you regularly come across inspirational quotes and literature stating that happiness isn't something that can be acquired, but is simply a frame of mind or a decision. One of the more common quotes by Abe Lincoln states just that, "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be". While I absolutely agree with this, I also feel a bit guilty for being one of those people who posts these things on social media, making it seem like being happy is so simplistic.
When I read these motivational quotes, depending on my mood, it can either help me immediately snap out of a rut or it just pisses me off. Some people require a little more than a change of tune or getting up on the "right" side of the bed. As a highly sensitive person, this is something I've dealt with my whole life. Since I was a small child, if I was experiencing internal hardship, which usually resulted in my acting out or falling into a slump, people would frequently tell me to essentially get over it or, my least favorite, "this too shall pass". This coffee cup advice seemed to work for so many people that I began to think that I was a defected human because I just couldn't shake it that easily.
Sometimes, if we are experiencing an imbalance, it isn't so easy to just snap our fingers and get happy because there is a correction that needs to be made. While this imbalance can inconveniently get in the way, it is wise to shift your perspective and be so grateful for it because it's your body's way of saying, "there is an area of neglect"! If we avoid this area or dumb it with a vice, it can manifest into a lot of mental and physical burdens, ten times its multitude. While it isn't always easy to get to the land of happy, it is SO important to point out that it is possible to get there and rise above!
During my 6-month program, my clients and I focus on goals. One of the most common things discussed is their goal to achieve a state of well-being, peace, and happiness. It's always a difficult subject, only because there are so many components to this weighted issue. Happiness is a product that has to be broken down into the many actions that we identify this feeling/ emotion with. Perspective is absolutely everything because while newlyweds think financial freedom brings "happiness" and think they will acquire joy by way of money, the single entrepreneur who is sitting on a large sum of money and has a comfortable cash flow thinks they could achieve happiness, if only they could get married. The interesting part of all of this is that through many studies, one Deepak Chopra performed, it has been proven that the amount of money someone acquires does not improve long-term happiness. The only time money does affect long-term happiness is when you worry about not having enough of it, which then reduces your state of well-being.
Touching on this point a little deeper, while being goal-oriented is invaluable, there are some people who are constantly focusing on their horizon/ future. "When I reach this level of success, I'll be happy." I think big picture goals are great, but if you don't make note of daily and weekly accomplishments and celebrate the mile-markers, you are selling yourself short. By the time you get to your end goal, or "destination", you won't get to reap the oh-so-nourishing sense of achievement because being a "future seeker" means you will already have your sites set on that new horizon. Being in the present will allow you to see your success and enjoy it. Staring at the horizon means you will keep going and finally stop once you've "arrived"... when you're dead.
I recently listened to an amazing lecture Deepak Chopra gave about something called the Happiness Formula. I found this extremely interesting and probably the soundest self-help I've come across. This formula is: H = S + C + V.
"H"- happiness, "S"- set point in brain that depicts if you're happy or not, stemming from how you received loved and were cared for in the first three years of your life, which can be changed with some mindfulness (50%), "C"- economic conditions of living/ how often you think about money (12%), and "V"- voluntary choices you make every day to receive pleasure (38%). Not only does this formula go much deeper in detail, Mr. Chopra has also developed a "well-being test" that is said to be a very solid predictor of what's going to happen in your future. The results are based on the calculated scores in areas of well-being including: social, career, physical, financial, and community.
So, on to rounding about this jumbled mess I've created. For anyone experiencing days of sadness, depression, fear, or, "analysis paralysis", please know and consider that there are things that you can do to alleviate this pain that doesn't come in a prescription bottle. While I am not a doctor and don't aspire to be, I have seen countless founded studies and have personally experienced the outcome of the many actions humans can take to rise above a rut and diagnosed depression.
So, is achieving happiness as easy to receive as simply subscribing to it? Yes and no. I think making a decision to make the necessary steps to obtain happiness is the golden ticket. What steps am I talking about? The ones Deepak Chopra touched on, the "primary foods" that are emphasized throughout the teachings at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I received my certification. Not only has exercise proven to be hugely effective in fighting depression, diet is the ultimate whammy in the world of rebounding from mental and physical ailments, along with meditation, proper sleep, and spirituality/ religion. Supplementation like omega-3's, L-5-MTHF, and SAMe are gaining a lot of popularity and acceptance, even in the medical field, in assisting to help alleviate depression. There are also a handful of amazing authors, specialists, and doctors who have created some lovely soul food in the form of books! Please know that you aren't defected because bumper sticker "words of wisdom" aren't enough for you.
Probably one of the largest factors that influenced my personal journey was learning about the importance of gut health and the major role it plays in your body's ability to cope and create your "happy" hormone, serotonin. "Gut bacteria creates 95% of the body's serotonin." To read more about gut health, Donna Gates is an amazing source of knowledge. Another enlightening condition that can affect your state of well-being full tilt is adrenal fatigue, which can be caused by something as ordinary as excess caffeine, but can result in depression and/or very similar symptoms to depression.
So, in conclusion, if you're trying to acquire happiness, I am a firm believer that you can achieve it because it is already within you. While state of mind IS everything, sometimes, it isn't as easy for everyone. We are all built differently, we all require different levels of self-care, and supplementation. Lifestyle plays a HUGE part and so does being mindful of the way we listen to and nourish our bodies. Please entertain the many holistic ways you can actively work towards tapping into your internal happy. Again, while it isn't always easy, it is within your power.
I am extremely excited to announce that I will be participating in my very own 6 month program. Some of you may know, November will mark my fourth year anniversary to eating clean and never looking back! While it has been an amazing and rewarding journey, I want to take it up a few notches. While acquiring my certification, the various inspiring lecturers moved me to amp my self-care times ten. Not only was I so excited to share everything I learned with my radiant clients, I quickly applied a lot the positive practices in my life.
After I recently realized I needed to move back to LA, I casually approached my landlord to discuss my month-to-month options since my lease would be up this October (assuming it would be no problem at all). It came as a huge surprise when I found out that I could not do month-to-month in my current lease and the best they could do was have me sign a 6 month contract. I was pretty deterred. Once I set my sights on something, I am sort of like a freight train. SO, I decided to make this derail a positive change. I figured if I was going to be in Tulsa for 6 more months, it would be the ultimate opportunity to subscribe to my 6 month program and go full tilt on self-improvement. I know moving will be slightly stressful and transition isn't always the easiest thing-- so instead of thinking this is a negative, I am forcing it to be a positive so that I can arrive in California, maybe not new, but, improved!
So, join me as I embark on the various forms of self-care, using my lovely Primary Food chart pictured above (created by IIN). My goals for October is to focus on my career, physical activity, and home environment. Therefore, I have created a variety of action steps that you will get me to those goals. My first action step I just accomplished: garage sale. I want to shed my baggage (literally and figuratively) and the best way to do that is to get rid of stuff...including the stuff that has blah memories/ energy attached to it. Last weekend, I was able to have a two day cleansing process by selling my belongings and donating the rest! It felt ah-mazing. Not only has it improved my current Home Environment, it will make moving into my new home that much easier.
Finding ways to accommodate yourself is truly one of the most rewarding things to practice! Stay tuned for more personal triumphs!
Moving to Los Angeles was never really my game plan until my freshman year of college when I found myself at a state school, yearning for a city where I could actually feel creatively inspired to do why I was there-- study fashion. It wasn't until one day when I was driving through Stillwater, Oklahoma and feeling unsettled (and crying hysterically, to be more accurate) when I thought the craziest and scariest thing I could do would be to leave. So unconventional. I had told my parents that I would stick out one full semester to just be sure that it was something that I wanted to do and if I still hated it, I could start entertaining the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.
In high school, my merchandise marketing class was introduced to FIDM through a college recruiter and while I knew it was located in California, it never really struck me until my application was accepted and I was flying there with my family to see the school.
Los Angeles was slightly terrifying. During this time period, the first few episodes of The Hills had just aired on MTV and instead of that being a selling point, it actually had an opposite effect. I thought it was all just really daunting. Although equally reluctant, my parents were on board and my sister said if I was going to do fashion school, I should just go all in and do it in LA.
(I have to insert this fun "sign"....We decided to spend the last day of our trip in Newport. I had really just come to the conclusion that I would probably make the leap and move to LA and we decided to do a little shopping at South Coast Plaza (a massive shopping mall). We were talking about logistics and we ran into my enrollment counselor, who said she never goes to Newport! We had met with her in LA just a few days before, she knew my hesitation, and so we all got to sort of talk it through again and it was there where I was able to tell her in person that I was going to enroll!)
I had never spent much time California. When I was 3-years-old, I went to Disneyland and when I was sixteen, I had bought my car on eBay. Getting my car was a similar situation. I decided on the car, got my parents on board, and it didn't fully occur to me that I had to go to Los Angeles to get it! (Not until writing this am I actually seeing the funny similarity! Also amazing proof that I have extraordinary parents.) Fast-forward to my completion of school and it was probably the biggest gift that I could have given to myself. While it was really scary being alone, I was able to find some solid friends, good jobs, and great opportunities in the years that I lived there. I didn't stay because I felt led to be closer to family.
I now know I felt the nudge to leave so that I could be closer to home while my mom fought cancer...and won, I was able to be a part of the birth of my two beautiful nieces, and my dad decided to start a wellness center in conjunction with his existing practice and I was able to contribute to the process...I also got closure on quite a few relationships from my child/teenhood. If you read one of my posts below about how I found clean eating, I think that all plays a part as well. I got to a point where I didn't want to be defined by fashion and I needed to dig deeper. I think I got sick because I was feeling so out of sorts, which led me down a wonderful path, bringing me to receive my certification through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Tulsa and Dallas were sort of my detour training periods so that I could solidify my authentic-self, to learn what works for me and what doesn't work for me, and to get laser vision for the very purpose why I am on this planet.
NOW, almost 8 years later since leaving California, I am moving back. Each year that has gone by since, I would make regular "maintenance" visits that would go as follows: I would bottle up some creative energy, have a nice cry, and come home with a LA hangover, sort of yearning for that life, but knowing I wasn't supposed to be there. In the past 8 years, I've had people practically put down bets as to when and if I would move back. I would come home 90% of the time saying I wanted to move back, go through the motions of making a half decent attempt in doing so, but it was never that easy.
I see the pros and cons and always have. Not until I found out that I was a Highly Sensitive Person did I understand the underlying reasons for highs and lows. Too much stimulation, traffic, exertion, being too conscientious of stuff/status/silliness, an imbalanced diet, certain intense jobs, and surface relationships can make me feel depleted and anxious, lowering my energy and diluting my sense of self. But a trip to the museum, the ocean, window displays, exercise, street fashion, meditation, some Jesus, a deep conversation can pick me back up again. As elementary as this theory is, I feel so empowered to have this knowledge. Not to mention, studying similar principals that help achieve balance like Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda in school have been hugely instrumental in practicing self-care-- almost as if it is this no-fail formula to keep me planted and steady.
Will the transition be easy? No way. Is it a safe choice? Absolutely not. BUT that's pride, ego, and my head talking. I could seek them out and get one million and one reasons why it's too risky. But I am going to choose to consult my heart and my gut. My intuition has rarely led me astray and even when a decision didn't fit, I learned something extremely valuable and necessary in the process. Just like my move to Dallas and Tulsa. No matter what, I choose that each decision I make will have a positive outcome. A dear friend told me one time, "whatever you choose to do, do it wholeheartedly". Later, I found a similar scripture. I love this message. Even if you find yourself realizing that you need to make another change, maybe even in the opposite direction, if you choose to do it with your whole heart, you are accomplishing something, regardless. There is no loss, only an opportunity for growth...and THAT is what life is all about!