Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kale and Butternut Squash Saute

So I use to get a bunch of health and fitness magazines sent to me and I would read them, rip out the recipes that I was interested in trying and put them in a book until I got the chance to make them.

Well, this was a recipe I had pulled out back in 2012 and never made until we moved and I was unpacking and stumbled upon the recipe. And while I was definitely missing out on not making it sooner, I guess you could say it was completely worth the wait! It is healthy, super yummy, quick and easy and a one dish wonder!

I made this and ate it for a week... if you feel like "bulking" it up a bit you can add rice pasta, as I did one day, or you can do couscous, quinoa, rice, whatever you are in the mood for.

The first time I made this, I followed the recipe exactly (minus the walnuts because I did not have them, nor do I like them).

I then shared this recipe with my friend Liza and she made it and had me try it and she used dried cherries instead of cranberries and feta instead of goat cheese (it was deeeeelicious!).

In making this for a side dish for thanksgiving tomorrow, I used cranberries, feta and toasted almonds.  So as you can see, this recipe is quite versatile depending on your taste.

This is meant to be a main dish, but can easily be had as a side dish to accompany any meat or fish.

Let me know if you try it and how you liked it!

The pictures below are mine, but the recipe comes from


Food Facts:

A half cup of cooked butternut squash provides more than 80% of your daily vitamin A requirements for just 41 calories.  The gourd is also a good source of fiber and vitamin C. -- Fitness Magazine

One cup of chopped raw kale provides more than 100% of the daily value of vitamins A, C and K.  It also contains lutein, a type of carotenoid (organic pigment) responsible for the plant's color and nutrients.  Lutein helps keep eyes and vision healthy. -- WebMD


2tbsp EVOO (I used grape-seed oil because that is what I have and cannot tell a difference)
3lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 in cubes (about 3.5 cups)
1/2 diced yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
4.5 cups chopped fresh kale
1tsp grated lemon zest  (if you can, buy organic because you will be eating the zest)
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt (I used pink Himalayan sea salt)
1/2 tsp black pepper (I used fresh cracked pepper)
2 tbsp dried cranberries (or cherries)
4 tbsp chopped walnuts or pecans toasted (or almonds)
4 tbsp chopped crumbled goat cheese (or feta)  


In lg. skillet, heat oil over med-high heat.  Add squash, onions and garlic.  Cook, stirring constantly until squash is lightly browned and slightly tender, about 7 mins. 

Add kale, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper and cook until kale is wilted and squash is tender, 5-7 minutes.  Remove from heat. 

Put kale and squash in a dish and toast nuts in same pan (or you can toast them in the oven). 

Add dried cranberries and nuts, toss to combine.  Sprinkle with cheese.

Note: I did not toss this one yet, because I will reheat on thanksgiving and toss before serving. YUM! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Spiritual Gifts

So last week at my church the sermon was on spiritual gifts.  During the week I received an email saying I could find out what my spiritual gift is, so of course, being curious I did.  Well, half way into it I got nervous... I do not have a spiritual gift!  None of these questions are strongly me...  how can God use me if a lot of these things I have never experienced, or honestly care to experience... I must be such a horrible person!

Well, it was time to submit my answers and receive my score and you know what?  God just confirmed what I have known all along, but I think I forgot about along the way.  My top were hospitality and giving.   In taking the quiz I thought, these are all big things or "more important" and I have not been blessed with any of them (gift of healing/prophecy/etc) but thinking about it now, hospitality and giving are just as important and make a big difference.

The one I am going to expand on is giving.

To me, I have experienced great joy in giving... growing up I always tithed and I did it happily and saw the I was always taken care of financially.  I got away from it for a stage in my life, and maybe some people would say it was a coincidence, but I found I was struggling more and I truly believe that it was God's way of telling me... you need to give back some of what I have given you.  So now, after being at a fantastic church for over 3 years, and joyfully giving with my husband, we are being taken care of.

But giving isn't just tithing... it can be giving of your time, personal items, your ear, your heart, a hand.  And those are things I am always passionate about doing.  Not just with my church but with those I come in contact with on a day to day basis.  By no means am I perfect, and I am not sharing this to brag, but to encourage!

Even just the smallest act of giving can make a huge difference in someones life.  It can make a huge difference in your own as well... when you stop focusing on yourself, and I do not even mean this in a selfish way; you could be having a bad day emotionally ... try giving to someone else... you could be experiencing a loss of some sort, try giving.... you could be dealing with any number of things, positive or negative, but try giving...  and in no way am I say that giving will get you things in return or make your life perfect, but it definitely helps change your way of thinking, your attitude, your gratitude.

Maybe this is not your forte, maybe you do not find joy in giving, but you find joy other things, that may be your gift.  Just know though, that God wants to use you in one way or another.

Want to take the quiz?

Spiritual Gift?


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Anti-Inflammatory Diet

So as some of you know I had a serious issue with my back this year... I believe it started in March and stayed with me up until June...

I saw doctor after doctor after doctor, x-rays, muscle specialists, chiro, pain meds, stretches, nothing seemed to help.

Until... come in Dr. Lynch from Northampton Wellness Association.  He did blood testing to make sure I was getting all the proper vitamins I need, as well as food allergy testing to see if that could be a trigger.  He also suggested a book for me to read... Breaking the Viscous Cycle (which is a great one for those of you struggling with IBS, Crohn's, Colitis, etc).

His suggestion to help me with my back issues was to go on an anti-inflammatory diet.  He said I should try it out for 3 months and then we would reevaluate after that and see how it helped and if it is something I should stick to the rest of my life, or if I need to do it periodically...

He explained to me that certain foods, have inflammatory properties which can cause arthritis, allergies, back pain and so on.  So by eliminating these foods from your diet, helps decrease inflammation, and if you do it long enough, it is possible to eliminate inflammation completely from your system all together and down the road some people can actually eat those foods again occasionally.  He even said that he has had people with Crohn's and Colitis do this "diet" for a full year and their horrible symptoms vanished all together.  I wish I had known about him and gone to see him before things got so bad that I had to have surgery, but what is done is done.  

Dr. Lynch said I could gradually start cutting things out of my diet, or do it all at once which was more difficult.  Well, at the time I wanted relief, so I quit eating all the foods and drinks I wasn't suppose to cold turkey.  And to make a short story long... after 6 weeks I had started to feel a huge amount of relief!  It gave me encouragement to continue being strict through the 3 month period.

When we reevaluated things, he suggested I try and stay as strict as possible but not to beat myself up if I occasionally go off course.  So that is what I tried to do... well, one "cheat" turned into another, and another and then I was eating badly again.  Now with the move, it took a toll on my diet and my weight.  I had two kitchen but neither one of them were functioning, so it was takeout... pizza, chinese, grinders, you name it, we ordered it.  I have gained 12 lbs in the process, my jeans do not fit anymore and now my back has been killing me again.

We have lived in our house 2 weeks now, and I have been eating healthier now that I can grocery shop and have a kitchen, but it is still not helping my back.  So I decided it is time to go back to my strict diet to get my figure and my back in shape!

Here is what it consists of in case you are wondering...

Try to eat organic and try to eat any one food no more than 5x/week.

Any and all veggies (except potatoes and corn)
Raw, steamed or stir-fried in olive-oil
Eat lower glycemic veggies if possible

Non-Wheat/Non-Flour Grains:
1-2 cups cooked grains (wheat/flour products not allowed, because VERY inflammatory.
Allowed: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, basmati or brown rice, rye, teff, rice crisps and wasa crackers.

Any and all that you can tolerate.

Poach, bake, steam, or broil deep-sea ocean fish (cod, haddock, halibut, mackerel, sardines, summer flounder, salmon).  Shellfish is okay unless known to be allergic.  (Note: I always try and eat fresh water fish, farm raised is a NO-NO in my book).

Only the meat and NO skin of high quality free-range or organically grown chicken or turkey.  Bake, broil or steam.  Eggs are fine unless allergic.
Venizen and other high quality meats are fine, but not every night (I try not to eat meat anymore though!).

Eat periodically any fruit except citrus.  Low carbohydrate fruits if possible.

Real maple syrup, rice syrup, barley syrup, raw honey or stevia OCCASIONALLY and with meals ONLY.
NO sugar, nutrasweet, or any other artificial sweetener.

Seeds and Nuts:
Unsalted seeds and nuts (no peanuts- as it is a mold and not healthy).
Butter nuts are fine too (except peanuts).

Mix 1lb butter and 1 cup EVOO.  Whip at room temp and store in fridge.  DO NOT USE MARGARINE.
Use EVOO for all other situations requiring oil.  Do not use other vegetable oils.

To Drink:
Drink a MINIMUM of 6-8 glasses of spring, bottled, filtered or reverse-osmosis filtered water every day. Try to drink one glass per hour.  You can add lemon.  NO distilled water.
Rice milk, oat milk and small amounts of soy are allowed (I don't drink soy).
Green tea is great!!

Use whatever spices you enjoy except salt.  Eat plenty.

all animal milks
fatty meats (ground beef, etc)
all wheat grain products
citrus fruits
peanuts/peanut butter
all animal cheeses
potato- red/white
caffeinated black teas/coffee
all fruit juices
any processed food
all corn products
all white flour grain products
all dried fruit
fried foods


Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Pink Room

This is one of the next rooms that we transformed and it almost complete.... 
we call it the "pink room"... can you guess why??

Despite it being pink, Marc chose this room for his office and it has worked out quite nicely so far.  He decided the pink walls just were not his style, so he went to Lowe's and asked them about their "oops paint" and for $5.00 he got this color...  

It is obviously still a work in progress, but I like what he has done with the place!  A futon for relaxing, his beautiful guitar for show, a snowboard painting I did for him and lots of sweet photos.  We do plan to paint the window frames, and put the molding back up around the doorways, but that will come when it comes.  

This room post was quick and to the point.  Hope you enjoyed seeing the photos! 


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Honest Company

I am quite excited to share that I just received my Free Trial of Honest Company products.  I am always on the lookout for natural products free of harmful ingredients and I have heard great things from one of my girl friends about this line.  

Jessica Alba is one of the co-founders of this company and I also saw her on a morning show last year and was quite intrigued.  She spoke of how she came up with the concept of Honest Company... she just had a little girl and was researching the best diapers, and other such baby products.  In doing so, she found how many chemicals are in diapers and wanted something safer for her child.  So she decided to come up with a diaper free of all that as well as baby products, and it stemmed out from there.  

"We both wanted an ideal: not only effective, but unquestionably safe, eco-friendly, beautiful, convenient, and affordable – everyone should have it. We believed every baby deserved the best we can create for them. We are dreamers."  -

This company offers household cleaning products, bath and body, baby, and health and wellness and the packaging is adorable!  Don't you think?  

This free trial pictured above, consists of hand soap, laundry detergent, face and body lotion, healing balm and shampoo/body wash.  The only thing you pay for is shipping which is $5.95.

I have not tried out the products yet, seeing as I just received it in this mornings mail, but I will most definitely be sharing a review once I start using them.  You can also go on monthly bundle deal and you can switch out your products each month according to what you need next.

If you are interested in trying it out, you can use this link...   Honest Invitation

If any of you already use these products I would love to hear what your favorites are!  And for those of you who have not tried and it would like to, definitely use the link here and try it for yourself.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bedroom for Lovers...

Okay just a heads up, this blog is not as explicit as it may sound!

I am sharing an update on our home.  The living room, full bath, kitchen and MASTER bedroom are the rooms that we first and foremost wanted to complete.  They are all still a work in progress, however, I am quite happy with how my bedroom is starting to look so I thought I would share.

Being completely honest with you, I am not super clean when it comes to putting clothes away... my parents, sisters and husband can all vouch for me... I get lazy and do not want to do it.  I am not like grimy sloppy, I just do not typically hang up my clothes, or fold nicely.  You might find them all lying in a nice pile on top of the dresser and then I finally put them away when they look as if the pile might topple over.

So with that being said, the #1 thing I did not want to do is have a dresser in our bedroom, and because our closet has attic access and we need to keep that free as well, so we did not want to put clothes in our closet either.  I made it clear to my husband that the bedroom, it is to stay spotless.  Also, Marc had told me before we moved that he wanted to make a rule, no electronics in the bedroom (ie laptop, tv etc), which I was happy enough with.  I was glad  with my reasoning being I do not like to have to fall asleep to a loud tv going when he comes to bed and Marc's reasoning was "the bedroom is for sleeping and baby making and that is it!" (and no, we are not "baby making" yet).

So Marc and I have different reasons behind this rule, but it works out either way!

Also, another good reason not to have electronics is studies show that people get better sleep when they are not sleeping (cognitive stimulation, the "glow" from machines, and physical act creating cortizol- Web MD)...

Now onto decor... I am slowly starting to decorate, and I got a killer deal on a duvet cover that I think is warm and inviting and I make sure not to buy white sheets either, because according to Dr. OZ it can sabotage your sleep, so I have nice gray sheets.  I also decided decor would be reflective of my husband and my life together, and fortunately for us, we have some fun photos from when we dated at 16, as well as our life as adults, so I decided to combine all those photos.  I still have more to hang, so I am not going to post a photo as of yet.

Here is the before...

Here is now...

I have a sign above the bed that says "always kiss me goodnight" and two mirrored wall sconce candle holders, and they are holding the candles his sister gave us to light on our wedding night.  Then I have two shelves to the right of the bed that were originally white with ivy leaves painted on them (they were my grandmothers), I spray painted them silver and put two of my favorite pictures from our honeymoon on them (one on each) and then our cake topper is on the higher shelf and I need to find something else to add to the lower shelf.  

We have a small nightstand that I got from a tag sale for under $10 and then our alarm clock.  The curtain is hard to see, but it is one that I registered for last year and absolutely love it.  It is sheer with leafs stitched on it.

The wall color is called Amherst Gray.  I went with gray because to be completely honest, I do not want to have to paint the walls again and gray is such a diverse color... I can make the room any color scheme I want and keep the gray walls.

I am still waiting on the baseboards and window/door trim to be put up and then eventually we would like to get an area rug or two runners, some crown molding and what not, but for the most part, I like how it is simple and uncluttered looking and as I said, it is a bedroom for lovers, it reflects our love, allows it to be our sanctuary and just focus on each other, which we def could stand to do more of.  

Hope you enjoyed reading this!  Tomorrow I will show you another room that is almost completely as well.