Sustainability

You want to get fit; and you mean it this time, so you clear all the junk out of your pantry and get a sitter so you can meal prep for six hours on a Sunday. You hire a trainer and commit to 5x/week. You eat chicken breast basted in filtered water, quinoa and steamed broccoli for dinner  e v e r y    n i g h t   for a week and a half.

Your results don’t come fast enough, so you…

quit.

It took you three, ten, thirty years to get out of shape, but you want to transform in two weeks.

If you can relate to this scenario, you’re not alone. So can most of my clients. Here’s what I teach them: sustainability.

A common characteristic of my clients who struggle the most is that they are “all or nothing” types. Extremists. They work out 7x/week, eat kale and ice chips…or they binge all night long and don’t step foot in the gym for months. I’m guessing they behave this way in other aspects of life too–relationally, financially, spiritually.

Perfection, though alluring, is not sustainable. It is much healthier to be “really good” in the long term than to be “perfect” in the short term. This means you’ve got to find balance and pray for self-discipline. Small, seemingly insignificant good choices yield massive results when compounded over time (The Slight Edge). Time is the main ingredient; the secret sauce. There are no short cuts for lasting health. effort-consistency-time

My Secrets for Sustainable Healthy Living:

  • Find recipes you look forward to–that you salivate over–so you’re not tempted to go out every night, “cheat,” or order pizza. No one can eat bland chicken, rice and steamed broccoli every night and enjoy their life. This means you should try new foods you’re not familiar with. You just might LOVE THEM if prepared properly. Eat REAL FOOD! Not chemicals, processed crap and genetically modified junk.
    • (If you need help here, click on my Online Training tab and order some recipes from me. If you have my cell phone number and we’re friends, text me and I’ll send you a few of our favorites.)DSC_0010-2-850x563
  • Hire a professional. A good nutritionist or personal trainer just may be the best investment you’ll ever make.
  • Get your spouse (or a close friend or family member) involved.
    • Look them in the eye and tell them you’re ready for change and you can’t do it without their help. Go to the doctor together and hear it from a physician. Remind them you’re a team. You’re better together. Set goals. Make it a family competition if that motivates you. IMG_7143
  • It’s easier to maintain a healthy habit than to start and stop.
    • Think about the dishes. What if you left dirty dishes balancing in the sink and spilling up onto the countertops all week long…then spent several hours washing and drying them all on Sundays. Your kitchen would stink, you’d have fruit flies (sick out!); you couldn’t invite anyone over for embarrassment. Wouldn’t you just dread Sundays?! The same is true of exercise and proper nutrition. tumblr_inline_n5baj7ZV1H1qbj2nm
  • Schedule your exercise, preferably before, during, or after work. Don’t go home first…you won’t want to come back to the gym. Put it in your calendar and set alerts.
    • Attend a group fitness class.
    • Train with a personal trainer at the same times weekly. I’d love to have you in one of my small groups at Sky! I’m currently booked for private training.
    • Set an appointment with yourself to workout at home. Put all distractions away; give yourself 15-30 minutes while the kids nap or once they’ve gone to sleep. 82a47d4ed769fc2f12770c83b6313016
  • Develop a “why,” a reason to invest in your health–one that gets you out of bed in the morning. If you’re a mom or dad, you’ve found your reason.img_3803
  • Find some products you LOVE. This will give you a few “go-to’s” when you’re tempted to choose something unhealthy or when you’re not prepared.
    • Here are a few of my favorites (we’re never without them):
      • Arbonne’s vegan protein powder (daily breakfast shakes, homemade protein bars)chocvan
      • Green apples (lowest glycemic index) with MaraNatha almond butter
      • Quinn Rosemary and Parmesan natural popcorn
      • KiZe Cocoa protein bars for me, Clif bars for Joeycoco_3cbb6e14793f226eea7d2220a2e68abe
      • Arbonne’s energy fizz sticks (My fav are pomegranate. Joey’s are the citrus.)
      • La Croix (Cerise Limon flavor) sparkling water
      • Terra sweet potato chips
      • Whole Foods hummus
      • Onyx or Brandywine coffeeSugar_Skull_Bag_Pic_3-20-17_800x
      • Arbonne’s herbal detox tea with organic, local honey
      • Target’s Archer Farms raw almond 100 calorie packets

My hope and prayer is that the healthy habits you develop and the wholesome foods you enjoy become the way you live; your lifestyle. They are not for a bikini or a wedding or a competition, but for every day. There is no finish line.

Jesus warns us, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Don’t allow unhealthy habits or inconsistency to rob you of life–life to the fullest.

How to Roast Vegetables

(Many of you have requested this post, so here it is, but please don’t judge. I’m FAR from a foodie blogger or photographer…but I have some friends who are great at that if you’re interested!)

As a kid, I hid my green peas under my mashed potatoes like the rest of you. But early in our marriage, Joey and I found a way to LOVE vegetables…roasted. Here’s how we do them:

  1. Preheat a smokin’ hot oven…like 450-500 degrees.
  2. Wash (duh) your veggies and cut them all about the same size so they cook evenly. This is important, people. You can’t have a long stem of asparagus with diced zucchini or some large potatoes with some cubed.

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    SHARP knives are safer!

  3. Create a “medley” of veggies of about the same texture. Some examples:
    1. Sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, carrots
    2. Zucchini, onions, zucchini squash, peppers
    3. Asparagus, artichokes, French green beans
    4. Broccoli, cauliflower
    5. Brussels sprouts and green onions…or add sliced red grapes for sweetness

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      This is honestly not the best example because they aren’t all the same size…but it was what was left in our fridge before Christmas. 🙂

  4. Chopped onions and minced garlic go well with all veggies. We love red onions, sweet yellow and green onions the best. White are gross. Ew.
  5. Drizzle the veggies with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). My mom actually pronounces this “ee-voo.” 😉 You could also use coconut oil. img_6008
  6. Sprinkle with sea salt or Pink Himalayan salt if you want to be fancy. We don’t do black pepper but you could.
  7. Roast on the top rack for as long as it takes for them to get soft, caramelized and golden brown. Usually this is 15-25 minutes…potatoes take the longest. img_6009
  8. DIVE IN! In our house, veggies take up at least half our plate at dinner. img_6010
  9. If your kids are picky, call them “chips.” We eat “green bean chips” and “kale chips” and “edamame chips.” Make them crispy.
  10. The prettier (more colorful) the vegetables, the richer they are in nutrient content and the more fun your kids will have with them. fullsizerender-67

Salty

I purchased more salt today. Coarse Kosher salt is my favorite for cooking. I can always tell when Joey has used it because it’s strewn all over the countertop. He likes to sprinkle it high above his plate because it makes him feel chef-y. Gramma Mary taught me to use celery salt for boiled eggs. I had two of them for lunch. I’ve had chili salt on my rim in Mexico. And the Diefenderfers (friends from college who own Cuppies and Joe in OKC) use Pink Himalayan salt on their smashed fingerling potatoes. They eat the coolest food on the planet, so of course I purchased some PH salt. It sits in my cabinet, pretty and pink, but full to the brim. Not sure what to do with it.

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Salt accentuates natural flavor. It can take a dish from alright to life-changing. It’s the little black dress that plays up your best parts.

Jesus tells us to be salty in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

His followers should bring out the best flavors in people, and if they don’t, they’re “good for nothing.” I should make you better; empower you to be the best version of yourself. My character and personality should bring out the best of yours. I’ve had friends before who did the opposite. I didn’t like who I was around them. My ego was tripped; my selfishness and quick temper tested. It’s like their sin invited my sin to play. I’m certain I’ve unfortunately done the same for others.

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Joey brings out the best in our kids!

I think some people feel this way about Christians in general. They are negative–always against something instead of for something. If we’re not careful we can bring out the worst in our co-workers, kids, spouses, employees, and neighbors. Jesus wants us to add depth of flavor and deliciousness to his people, inviting the world to His table to taste and eat of His goodness, grace, patience, kindness, acceptance and love. Yummy things.

A pinch of salt can completely change a dish. A believer of Christ has this power to change a community.

Cilantro

I stood in front of the sink and huffed, rinsing cilantro. I hate how the green leaves stick to my fingers. It’s a mess to chop, much less sprinkle into a soup or fresh guacamole. Plucking the tiny leaves off the stem one by one is the definition of tedium. I have better things to do with my time. 😉

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While chopping cilantro for my brothy chicken tortilla soup, I realized something:

Cilantro will never change.

If I want to continue cooking with it–and I do; I love cilantro–then I’ll have to de-stem it, rinse it, peel it from my fingers and chop it. For the rest of my life.

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Nothing will ever change about cilantro. I either have to give it up, or get over it. This simple truth applies to so many of life’s frustrations, tediums and obstacles.

Brothy Chicken Tortilla Soup

(This is a light, healthy and restaurant-quality soup recipe from my girl, Laura. One of our favs!)

Ingredients: 1 T olive oil, 1 c. chopped onions, 2 tsp chopped garlic, 1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped OR 1 green bell pepper, chopped plus 1 jalapeno, chopped, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1 T. tomato paste, 6 c. chicken stock, 1 lb. chicken breast, juice of 1-2 limes, 1 avocado, 1/4 c. chopped cilantro

Directions: Heat oil in large stock pot and add onions, garlic, peppers and seasonings. Cook until onions are clear. Then add tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add chicken breast(s) until fully cooked. Remove chicken breast(s) and shred. Return shredded chicken to pot. Simmer 20 minutes. Add lime juice and cilantro, stir. Serve with tortilla chips and avocado. Optional: sour cream and cheese.

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The Cookie

I hate making salads. I order them at restaurants because I don’t like making them at home myself. I’m a lazy salad-maker. I hate all the veggie chopping and dressing mixing and lettuce washing.

Cooking, I enjoy. Baking, I love. I make a mean hot fudge pie, dark chocolate mousse I would bathe in (thank you, Bread and Wine), delicious chocolate cobbler, and pretty darn awesome chocolate chip cookies–if I do say so myself. Notice something? It’s not dessert to me unless it’s chocolate. Dark chocolate.

Pascha found a frozen roll of my cookie dough in the recesses of her freezer last night. She held it out to me like a kitten in cupped hands. Eyes wide, she said it was “like gold.” My brother, Chad, is working as a chaplain at Yellowstone National Park. I think he washes dishes and works the restaurant cash register or something during the week, but gets to preach on a deck overlooking Old Faithful on the weekends.

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He won’t settle down, marry and get a “real job” like the rest of us normal people. Instead he does cool things like guides Holy Land tours in Israel, teaches Bible courses at a camp in California , and road bikes in the Sequoyah National Forest. Boring. 😉

Mom said Chad has lost 10 pounds this summer because they don’t feed him much at Yellowstone. So this morning I baked him my famous Fluffy Chocolate Chip cookies, packaged them between wax paper and sent them off to Wyoming. Love you, Chad.

I’m going to share my thoughts about the perfect cookie.

First, let’s define what the “perfect cookie” is to me: soft, plump and a little gooey on the inside with a kiss of golden brown crunch on the outside. Fluffy. Not too buttery or sugary or salty. The perfect balance.

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If you like crunchy, flat cookies, you will hate these. Sorry.

My Secrets for the Perfect Cookie:

1. Butter matters. It should be set out on the counter for at least three hours so that it’s softened. Don’t even try to soften it in the microwave. That’s called melting. Melted butter makes for flat cookies. Cool, slightly soft butter makes for yummy cookies.

2. Corn starch makes cookies fluffy.

3. Buy good chocolate chips. Ina Garden is one of my favorite Food Network personalities. She says elitist foodie things like “use only good olive oil.” “Cook with good wine.” “Don’t ever use imitation vanilla extract.” But when it comes to chocolate, I agree with her. I buy Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips. Guittard are also fabulous. Dark chocolate contains fiber, minerals, antioxidants, lowers blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stimulates brain activity. Yes, please. If you don’t like dark chocolate, try mixing dark with milk or white chocolate to make it sweeter.

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4. Roll your dough into balls before baking. This makes them puffier.

5. Use an Air Bake pan. I see (and taste) a noticeable difference when I use an AirBake pan vs. a roasting or regular pizza/cookie pan. And eww…I don’t like the taste of baking stones.

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6. Put the dough in the fridge for about 5 minutes before baking.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for no longer than 10 min. (using my recipe below)

 

Recipe adapted from one I found on Pinterest. But I only use one stick of butter…can’t justify pulling TWO from the fridge. Sorry. I bake for 9 minutes exactly. Not 8. Not 10.

 

Take your rings off for dough rolling purposes.

Take your rings off for dough rolling purposes.

Yum. Freeze into a log for later or share with friends. You’re welcome.

Upcycled

My generation has a myriad of flaws, but resourcefulness is not one of them. One thing I’m most proud of my generation for is upcycling.

Upcycle- (verb) to reuse discarded objects or material in such a way as to create a product of a higher quality or value than the original.

We recycle. Re-purpose. Buy “vintage” and thrift items. Shop consignment and drop off bags of our kids’ hand-me-downs on each others’ porches. We value wooden toys over plastic. We’re a little more “earth conscience.” We shop and eat locally. Ride our bikes to work. Some of us even cloth diaper our baby’s bottoms.

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Joey took me to Whiskey Cake for my 31st birthday on Friday.

37 weeks. 31 years old.

37 weeks. 31 years old.

I usually request Cheever’s, but the whiskey cake (the restaurant’s namesake) kept calling my name. This place is delicious. They have a garden growing outside the front door, they prepare all food from scratch and the decor consists of repurposed, upcycled items like this lightbulb-turned-bud vase and cardboard coaster.

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Joey is funny, but he’s also wise. In a conversation over a shared OMG burger and seared green beans, he made the connection that “upcycling” is redemption. It’s the beauty of what Jesus did for us on the cross. We were dead, rotting in our sin but He made us alive. Trash turned to treasure.

“…you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col. 3:9-10).

He redeemed us and made us new. I’m so thankful He chose to use my dust for divine purposes–of higher quality than the original.

Breakfast. Coffee. Yum.

If you know Joey and I, you know we love breakfast. Brunch. Morning food.

Here’s why:

1) It’s cheaper than going out for dinner.

2) We don’t have to choose between sweet and savory. (I can have blueberry pancakes AND eggs or bacon.)

3) Finn can go with us so we don’t need a sitter. He’s happier in the morning too.

4) My family went out for breakfast just about every Saturday, usually prompted by my dad. It’s nostalgic.

5) We love coffee.

6) Health-conscious people know you should NEVER EVER skip breakfast.

Some of the best breakfasts we’ve ever had were in Europe during grad school. I’ll never forget the palatial spread in Salzburg, Austria,

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the kava (coffee) and chocolate danish in Slovenia,

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or the fresh, seasonal breakfasts fit for an emperor in Italy.

But Oklahoma offers several yummy breakfast venues too. We like to support local businesses, and they’re usually better than large chains anyway. Because I need a project these days or I’ll just sit around and groan, I’m blogging about where we go for our favorite meal of the day. If you’re totally uninterested in this topic, no offense taken. I’m just keeping my mind busy. 😉

A review of some of our fav breakfast spots:

For the Best Coffee:

  • Stumptown Coffee -brewed in Oregon and sold at Syrup in Normanphoto 1 copy
  • Elemental Coffee- locally brewed in OKC! Find this delicious java at Cool Beans (a coffee shack off Alameda in Norman), Cuppies and Joe in OKC (our buds from college own this quaint cupcake, pie and coffee joint!), Crimson and Whipped Cream in Norman, Elemental Coffee in Midtown OKC, Sips Kafe in Shawnee (one of my college roomies owns this coffee shop and events venue!) or buy it at Forward Foods in Norman.
  • Mariposa Coffee– enjoy a cup of this small batch coffee brewed in Norman at The Earth, Local, Second Wind, Scratch, or Waving Wheat Bakery.
  • Grey Owl Coffee- off Grey St. in Norman, they brew Topeca coffee out of Tulsa. I love their cappuccinos, and if you get a good barista, they’ll make it pretty for you. The shop is usually packed with studying hipster students, but you may not get a smile out of the staff. 😉IMG_5920

For the Yummiest Food:

In Norman:

  • Syrup Breakfast Boutique– a quaint little place off Main St. in downtown Norman, this restaurant is one of our staples. We make it there most Friday mornings after Finn’s physical therapy. They give the kids a biscuit for free and proceeds go to support two projects in 3rd world African countries. Our fav menu items: Crunchy French Toast, Stuffed Fritatta (I get the veggie version–it’s not on the menu), The Nompton (for when you’re really hungry), Home Sweet Homa (sweet potato pancakes!), Cinnamon Roll Pancakes, and recently Joey enjoyed their biscuits and gravy. We also love their Stumptown Cold Brew (iced coffee). Tell Johnny we said hi!photo 2 copy photo 4
  • Scratch– I haven’t been personally for brunch, but I love their dinner and a trusted resource and fellow breakfast connoisseur says it’s fantastic. The service is pretty slow, but they make everything from “scratch” so give ’em a break. 🙂 Only served on weekends.
  • Juan del Fuego- A little nicer and less greasy than The Diner off Main (featured on Diner’s, Drive-Ins and Dives), this Mexican diner is delish. Most of their savory items take on the same spicy flavor from the griddle: jalapeno, onions and garlic. I like their blueberry pancakes and Relleno omelet. Joey takes Finn here for breakfast before the library opens on Wednesdays. photo…And if you’re lucky, Sweets and Spurs may be open next door by the time you leave. Best cupcakes in OKC area!

In OKC:

  • Cheever’s– This is one of my fav restaurants for any meal in OKC. I dream about their weekend brunch. $4 mimosas, Elemental coffee, build-your-own omelets, Chihuahua queso, and Masa Vallo con Huevos are our favorites. I think Cheever’s is more fun without kids. It’s small, romantic and a little more upscale.

    queso to die for

    queso to die for

  • Kitchen No. 324– Yum. Though the tables are pushed WAY too closely together, this restaurant in downtown OKC has the best atmosphere. White marble, steel tabletops, swanky green booths, and the bathroom tiles are gorgeous. They serve hand-poured coffees (brewed in-house), homemade pastries (which aren’t so fantastic, in my opinion), healthy fresh-squeezed green juices, and delicious from-scratch savory options. My favorites are the Open-faced Toast (I get crispy bacon instead of ham and the Bechamel sauce on the side) and the homemade granola with berries.photo 3 copyphoto 2IMG_4251
  • Flint– On the bottom floor of the beautiful, historic Concord hotel near Bricktown, Flint offers breakfast daily until 10 and brunch on weekends from 10-2. The heart-healthy omelet is deliciously wholesome and the lemon ricotta pancakes with papaya chutney are outstanding. Such a beautiful venue!

    brunch with the roomies

    brunch with the roomies

  • Cafe Antigua- Hole.In.The.Wall. Guatemalan yumminess. The coffee is gross but you can’t beat the food. Located off Classen in some weird grey concrete buildings, you’ll want to be sure to lock your car.antigua2Go with friends and you’ll forget the atmosphere and sticky plastic tablecloths once you try their Migas or my fav, the Huevos Motuleno. Oh my. I’m salivating.

    Motuleno!

    Huevos Motuleno!

  • Prairie Thunder Baking Co.– This little bakery in Midtown is a source of healing for Joey and I. We’ve stopped here after many of Finn’s appointments at OU Children’s, even a few of his ER visits. Oftentimes we sit in silence, a calm after the storm, but something about their biscuits and gravy is cathartic. Get there early…they run out quick.IMG_1623

Hope you’ll try one of these mouth-watering places soon. Do you have any local favorites I haven’t mentioned? Please share!