A New Skyline

I know I don’t write on here very often, and that’s because put very simply, often there are a lot of things taking up a lot of my time right now. I’m the mother of a 3 year old and a 21-month old, and they would take up a lot of time even if I wasn’t married to a resident. I also am continuing on some research endeavors that I will share with you later.

However, even if I’m not the most frequent blogger, I am going to try to pick up my writing again. It naturally took a backseat as we started our family and moved across the country a couple of times. Even though we are paying a ridiculous amount of money for east coast rent right now, which doesn’t really leave any money left over for the girls and I to do anything while my husband is at work, there is an amazing view from our apartment: the skyline of New York City. For me, it symbolizes my dream of becoming a writer that developed when I was still in grade school. Although we are far enough away that even the tallest buildings still appear tiny, it is a reminder to me to share some of the beautiful wisdom I have acquired throughout some of my greatest challenges, like overcoming an eating disorder, a long-term destructive relationship, and my own previous self-defeating insecurities. Never in my life did I think I would be either in my physical location or in the state of mind and ability that I am in right now, and yet it has happened.

I’m going to do more writing, even if it’s not necessarily on my blog. What’s in the back of your mind that you’ve always wanted to do? What reminders are you receiving about the passion or desires you have? If there’s something that’s been prodding you to pay more attention or make some changes, do that first thing you need to do, before you forget.

I hope you’ll start to see a new skyline for yourself, too!

 

The Book is Here!

Hi everyone!

I am so sorry for my absence on my blog over the summer, but things have been very busy. Not only were my husband and I across the country visiting family (I know, that’s a poor excuse in itself!), but we have also been busy celebrating and planning the birth of our baby girl, who we are expecting around the new year! If that wasn’t exciting enough for us, after six years of hard work, my eating disorder recovery book, You Can’t Just Eat a Cheeseburger: How to thrive through eating disorder recovery is now published and available! It is currently listed on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/You-Cant-Just-Eat-Cheeseburger/dp/0615811884/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376928966&sr=8-1&keywords=You+can%27t+just+eat+a+cheeseburger

You Can't Just Eat a CheeseburgerI want to thank all of you who read my blog for all of your continued support, as well as everyone (over 100 people from across the nation and beyond!) who contributed insight for the book. I am so happy with how the project turned out, and hope that it will help those who are struggling to discover and love themselves. My new life, including my new family, are proof that the advice in the book works. Please check it out, and tell those in your life who might benefit from it!

Thank you again, God bless, and I promise I will be around here again now!

Justine

The simple thing you can do today to upcycle your life.

What’s the simplest thing you can do to upcycle your life today?

Right now, get out a piece of paper, and make a list of the top three people in your life who make you smile. These are people who are always there with an encouraging word, and who help you see the brighter side of things when you have a bad day. They love you for you. They don’t judge you.

When you’ve made your list, commit to spending some time with at least one of the people on it every single day–or at least talking to them on the phone for a few minutes. Positive relationships are probably the most important key to a fulfilled life.

Now, think about some people in your life who drain you of your energy. You don’t have to write down their names, but think about what it is they do that brings you down: Do they refuse to validate some of your feelings? Are they often negative? Do they try to convince you to do things you don’t want to do, or that are unhealthy for you?

It would be impossible to completely stop spending time with all people who grate on you a little bit; after all, you might work with them, live next to them, or even be related to them! But make it a point to replace some of your time with the people who drain you with time spent with the people on your list above. I guarantee that this one simple change will have some amazing results!

“Proactive Patience”: One of the best tricks I’ve learned

Okay, so maybe it isn’t so much a “trick” as it is a truly effective way to a successful, satisfied life. If you’re like me, you don’t always (or ever!) have a lot of patience. But it’s when you’re trying to force things to happen that they don’t end up working out the way you want them. When I wanted to be in a relationship in the past, instead of waiting for the right person, I ended up with a very much WRONG person for a very long time. It wasn’t until I learned how to be patient that I found the love of my life.

However, I don’t think you should EVER just sit and “wait” for something to happen, either. Hence the concept of “Proactive Patience”: You have to do everything you possibly can to make something work–everything that’s within your control–and then, when you’re done doing that, you have to have faith that everything will work out the way it should.

I was reminded of this concept when I made cookies the other day. I found a recipe that promised the “best” chocolate chip cookies (because the recipe was actually called Best Chocolate Chip Cookies“). I followed the recipe to a tee, as you usually need to do if you want really good cookies. While they were in the oven, I read a review that suggested you leave the cookies on the hot cookie sheets for about 10 minutes after you take them out, so they can set up properly. As a non-patient person, I knew this would be a test for me.

I had divided the recipe in half, so I ended up with two cookie sheets full of cookies. After I took the first pan out, it bothered me that the cookies still seemed pretty doughy, but I put the second pan in and made myself leave the first alone. Sure enough, by the time the second pan was finished baking, the first cookies had set up perfectly. I mean perfectly.

That still didn’t stop me from picking at the second pan of cookies as I tried to analyze (and over-analyze) whether or not they would set up as beautifully as the first. I had to leave for a meeting soon, and the more and more I poked at the second pan of cookies, the more their doughiness began to annoy me. I hated the idea of leaving without really knowing how the cookies were going to turn out (I know–a little silly). Finally, I put them back into the turned-off oven and left, knowing that by the time I returned, they should definitely be baked all the way through!

They absolutely were completely baked by the time I got back–to the point where they now need a long dunking in milk in order to get soft enough to eat without breaking a tooth. Even though the first cookies were perfect, it was because I couldn’t just leave the second cookies alone that they ended up turning into the less-than-delectable snacks that they are now.

This lesson applies to not only baking, but also your life. When you create a plan (recipe) for yourself, follow it as best you can. Then, once you’ve completed all those steps, be patient in the process. Have faith that it will work out as long as you’ve done everything you needed to do along the way. If you try to control every little thing that happens, it almost certainly won’t turn out the way you’d like. I believe that God has a plan for all of us, and part of the beauty of life is seeing how it unfolds in ways that we could never try to control!

Keep in touch, and keep it real!

Justine

Dark Chocolate No Bake Cookie Makeover!

I couldn’t get no bake cookies out of my head. And can you blame me?

Today’s ingredient is lowfat (2%) milk. I used to hate 2% milk because all my family ever bought was skim. That all changed when I got married because my husband is the big milk drinker of the house and so we just buy what he likes. I still don’t like drinking it straight, but I’ve actually started to like it with my cereal because it makes everything taste so much sweeter (mmm. Cereal). And it’s perfect for recipes like No Bake Cookies.

You’ve probably made the “old version” of these before. They were actually the very first thing I learned to make, and I had the recipe memorized. But since I’m so in love with them, I also wanted to make them a little healthier. I’ve found other recipes where the sugar is cut in half and the butter is replaced by a banana, but they always tasted like socks or something to me. I’d eat three of them to try to satisfy my cravings, and then wish I’d just made the real thing and eaten one.

No Bake Cookies aren’t actually that bad for you, because they have healthy ingredients like peanut butter and oatmeal (and our superstar, milk!!). But I did find a way to make them even better: My recipe includes dark cocoa powder, which is a great source of antioxidants. I reduced the sugar a little bit (but not too much!) and added in a little bit of honey. I substituted light butter and cut down on the amount used, and I used more oats, just because they’re so darn healthy and tasty! And of course, I added just a teeny bit more milk (woo-hoo!) to add back some of the moisture I took away by cutting down the butter.

As you know, milk is an excellent source of calcium, as well as protein (yay!), Vitamin D, Riboflavin, Vitamin B12,  and Phosphorus (Source). What are you waiting for?

Here’s exactly what you’ll need to make my version:

1/3 cup light butter

2/3 cup milk

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons honey

4 Tablespoons cocoa powder

3 Tablespoons DARK cocoa powder

1/2 cup (or more!) peanut butter (I always use crunchy)

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups oatmeal (You can use a little less if you like them really ooey gooey)

1/3 cup coconut

Here’s what you do:

Combine your butter, milk, sugars, honey, and cocoa powders in a pot on the stove over high heat until boiling. Boil the mixture for one minute, stirring frequently.

After the mixture has boiled for a minute, remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla. Then stir in the oats a cup at a time. Once everything is mixed, drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper or spread evenly in a 7 x 11 pan.

Finally, sprinkle the coconut over top and press down (make sure you do this right away so it sticks).

I always spread it in the pan but take a little bit out to make a big cookie for myself, then stick it in the freezer until it’s nice and chewy.

I know you’re going to make these right now!

The Verdict: No surprise here. They were DElicious. Next time I might play around with the honey ration even more, to lessen the amount of sugar I use. But even if I don’t, these are still part of a healthy balanced diet!

What’s your favorite way to use milk (cereal, baking, cooking)? What’s your favorite “no bake” recipe?

Keep in touch, and keep it real!

Justine

Vegetable Beef Pot Roast

As I write this I’m making a delicious beef and vegetable pot roast, because I want to make it up to my husband for yesterday’s kale chip fiasco (btw when he walked in the door earlier he said, “It still reeks like that kale in here!”).

I’ve had two interesting cooking days in a row now, because as soon as I started cooking the pot roast I got splattered with hot oil–

–OW.

And I had not quite finished cleaning all of it off of my arms and hand when every single fire alarm in our house (there are four of them) began to go off. Luckily, I was able to open the windows, turn on the oven fan, and wave my arms around like a crazy person below the alarms enough to get them to stop before any neighbors came by to make sure I wasn’t going to burn down the neighborhood (we live in a duplex so this actually would have been a possibility).

Before I started I found a basic pot roast recipe to base mine off of, even though I’ve seen my mom make it a few times; I wanted to make sure that if you decided to go along with me on this part of the challenge we’d have the same simple recipe to follow together. Right now I’m waiting for the vegetables to finish cooking. I’m getting a little impatient because I probably started cooking three hours ago (I had to stop in the middle to go pick up my husband–we’re still looking for a new car for him since we left his old beater in North Dakota when we moved). It’s getting close, and I’m cautiously optimistic that it’s going to taste good.

Can’t you almost smell it? 😉

Beef is one of those foods that’s gotten a bad rap, because many cuts contain a lot of fat. But as long as you pick the right kinds of beef, like round steaks and roasts, top loin, top siroin, or chuck shoulder and arm roasts (Source: USDA), it’s actually a wonderful, iron-rich source of protein (listen up, ladies who are at that certain time of the month–you need it right now!). According to the Self NutritionData website, it’s also a good source of Niacin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Phosphorus and Zinc, and a very good source of Protein and Selenium. Hungry yet? 😉

Now, fast forward a little bit to the pot roast Verdict: I was definitely pleased with how this tasted, and my carnivore hubby loved it. He was actually really happy when I told him we’d probably be having leftovers for a little while (I’m planning on shredding it and adding some barbecue sauce to make barbecue beef sandwiches one night). I love the fact that I’m giving my body one of the best sources of iron, and I know my workout tomorrow will be better because of it!

Oh, and just a side note–my husband totally finished off the entire bowl of kale chips for a snack while he was studying after dinner. Not bad for something he said “smells like B.O.!!!!”

What’s your favorite way to eat beef? Do you have a special pot roast recipe?

Keep in touch, and keep it real!

Justine

Kale Chips

I’ve been wanting to make kale chips ever since I first heard about them several months ago. I never really saw kale in the grocery store before I moved out of North Dakota, but that could just be because I never had that much ambition to actually find it before this challenge. Now that I don’t have any excuses, here’s how mine turned out, and what I learned about the health benefits of kale:

According to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, kale can prevent five kinds of cancer (bladder, breast, colon, ovary, and prostate) and can reduce cholesterol (if you steam it). It has several vitamins and minerals, with one cooked cup including over 1300% (that’s not a typo!!) of your Vitamin K recommendation, 350% of your Vitamin A, 89% of your Vitamin C, 27% of your manganese, and good amounts of several other vitamins and minerals. Check out the WHF website for an insane amount of in-depth information about kale.

To try kale for myself, I found a kale “chips” recipe on Allrecipes. Here’s what I did: Wash and dry one bunch of kale. If you don’t have a salad spinner you can do what I did and throw your washed kale in a clean pillowcase and have fun flinging it around until it’s dry (you want it to be dry so it bakes properly).

Heh heh. It’s such a fun trick. I think I’d make kale chips every day just to dry it!

Once you’re done playing with your pillowcase , pull it the stems off of your kale to make cute little potato chip sized pieces, and toss with a tablespoon of oil, a tablespoon of good flavored vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar), and a few sprinkles of sea salt. Spread it evenly over two baking sheets and bake for about 30 minutes, stirring it midway through. Your cooking time may vary depending on your oven and your kale!

When my husband walked in the door after school, I was wondering what he would say about the aroma. I thought it smelled amazing, and hoped he wouldn’t be expecting some sort of delicious meal (I had been planning on serving leftovers like a good wife).

He wasn’t expecting that at all. What he actually said when he walked through the door was, “It smells like B.O. in here.”

Whaaaaat?

“I thought it smelled good!” I said.

I WISH I’d have gotten a photo of the expression on his face when he saw the bowl of kale on the counter. He actually looked like he wanted to throw up a little (guys!). But then, he tried one. And another. And one more. He had a weird, confused expression on his face.

Then he grabbed a beer.

“Is this good for you?” he asked.

I told him it was. He shrugged his shoulders and continued eating it. He said it was weird, but sort of addictive in that salty-delicious sort of way. Good beer food.

I didn’t pack up any kale chips for him to snack on at school today, because I was pretty sure he wouldn’t want to be carrying a bag of green leafy stuff around in front of everyone else. But when I asked him if I should just get rid of it, he shook his head and said he would eat it after school.

Not bad for incredibly healthy, green leafy stuff.

The Verdict? This stuff definitely is different from a lot of things you might have had before, but it’s a little like crack, because you keep reaching for more. It’s healthy and it’s a super light snack if you just want something to munch on. I’m not sure how often I’ll make it, but I definitely would consider this a success. And next time, I’ll make sure I have my camera ready when the hubby walks through the door. 😉

Have you ever cooked something that made someone else cringe?  What’s your favorite way to eat kale?

Keep in touch, and keep it real!

Justine