The Onion Lotus Recipe

The Onion Lotus Recipe

I made this dish the other night for my girlfriend’s birthday.  A year ago, we were in Bali and every day we walked passed a beautiful Lotus pond that was close to our house.  I wanted to remind her of our amazing hikes and all that we loved in that amazing place. Food can do that.  It can transport you.

I love onions.  Yellow, white, sweet, red — I love them all.  And there are so many ways to eat them: raw, grilled, sauteed, roasted, pickled…  They always do their part when they are added to a dish, working hard in the background to add flavor but not steal the show.  That’s why it is fun to find a recipe like this one where the onions get to be the shining star.

This Onion Lotus may look fancy but is so simple to make.  This is a great side dish but you’ll want to serve them on a plate where they have lots of to spread out and show off!

ONION LOTUS

Ingredients:

    • Red onions (how many do you want to eat?!?)
    • Olive oil
    • Balsamic vinegar
    • Salt and pepper

Directions: preheat oven to 375°.

1.  Cut the bottom (root) off of the onion off but just enough to keep it from rolling around.
2.  Carefully cut the onion 4 times as if you were going to make 8 wedges but DON’T CUT ALL THE WAY THROUGH.  You want it intact at the bottom.
3.  Rub olive oil all over the outside of it and place all the onions in a baking dish.
4.  Drizzle with a little more olive oil and some balsamic vinegar, letting it seep into the wedges. Add salt and pepper.
5.  Cover the dish with foil and put in oven for about 45 minutes or until the onion is soft.
6.  Take off the foil and spread the “petals” out a little bit.  If they don’t move easily, the onions need to cook longer.  If they move, separate them a little and put back in the oven.
7. Cook for another 15 minutes or until the petals brown on the edges.

8. Once cooked, let them rest for a few minutes before moving them to your serving dish where they will open beautifully.

The Lotus is so breathtakingly beautiful as it emerges clean and pure from the murky waters, symbolizing rebirth and spiritual enlightenment in ancient religions.
What’s your plan to eat clean this summer?

What’s your plan to eat clean this summer?

It’s official—Summer has arrived!  Yeah! Time to spend with family and friends—and you know what that means… Vacations, BBQs, Weddings, Summer Cocktails, Holidays.

How do we navigate all the TEMPTATION?!  It’s time to put on our big girl panties (or big boy tightie-whities) and develop a winning strategy to eat clean this summer before we find ourselves underwater.  Is it possible to celebrate without booze?  Well, of course it is if you want to. Is it possible to have fun without the cake?  The answer is YES but how to do it is the question.

How do we stay focused on our goals? Well, the key to this is discovering our Triggers.  What is it that you sets you off?  What is it that is impossible to say NO to, or, opens the door for other things that are not on your clean eating plan?

For example, have you ever noticed that the mini bar in your hotel room actually knows your name ~ and calls out to you?  Maybe even whispers sweet nothings in your ear until you succumb?!  Yes… seeing all that sweety-salty stuff are Triggers that can seduce the best of us. Solution?  Have it removed (or at least the contents) when you check in to the hotel.  You can even have that arranged before you arrive.  No Trigger, No Temptation, No Trouble!
First step is to know what your Triggers are. C’mon, that’s not too hard to figure out, is it?
sugar_gateway
Then it’s time to make some decisions IN ADVANCE as to how you want to deal with them.  (Warning: do not wait until you are in the situation. This ranks with going grocery shopping when you are hungry… not a smart idea)
Set up your guidelines and then ask someone to support you so you can be more accountable during the event.  Here are some ideas:
  • “I’m going to eat in advance.” Protein and fats are most satisfying and helps avoid temptation.
  • “I’m going to have 3 bites of my mom’s brownies.” Determine what you will eat/drink and how much of it.
  • “I’m taking my favorite salad to the party.” Take your own food/drink with you.
  • “I’m going to have one glass of wine.” Make it a spritzer by adding a little club soda and lime. (Not only is alcohol liquid sugar but it lowers our resistance to other Trigger foods)
  • “I’m going to go for a 45 minute walk before dinner.  Want to come with me?”  Make time to move – exercise with a friend!
You are worth your goals. You can reach them without sacrificing a good time. Remember, food is not the only way to have a great time.  Focus on your friends and family. And let the Love in!
Two Easy Coconut Milk Recipes

Two Easy Coconut Milk Recipes

Okay, now you know how to make your own Too Easy Almond Milk, but do you know how to make coconut milk? It’s another great alternative to regular milk because it’s lactose free, which makes it easier to digest for most folks. Coconut milk has a ton of health benefits but it’s the creamy taste that keeps us coming back for more! I just know you’re going to love the recipes and the videos this week.

Make Your Own Coconut MilkFun fact: In Sanskrit, the coconut tree is known as “kalpa vriksha” and translates to “wish-fulfilling tree” or “tree which gives all that is necessary for living”. And it’s true, you could literally live off of coconuts if you needed to. Another cool fact is that the entire coconut can be used – everything, including the flesh, sugar, oil, water, and milk.

Coconuts are highly nutritious and contain important vitamins such as C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6. They also consist of vital minerals including iron, calcium, and magnesium. Their unique fatty acids help the body to feel full and trigger brain receptors that control appetite, aiding in weight loss. Studies show these fatty acids may also kill bacteria that cause plaque formation in the arteries, reducing the risk of heart disease. Coconuts have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties, which help boost immunity and fight viruses. An added bonus? The nutrients in coconuts have been proven to help fortify and condition both skin and hair. The fatty acid content may help with dandruff, dry or itchy skin, and infections along with preventing wrinkles. Yes please!

Benefits of Coconut Milk

  • Contain important vitamins and minerals
  • Aid weight loss
  • Boost immune system
  • Prevent heart disease
  • Promote hair and skin health
  • Tastes delicious!

Today I want to share with you Two Easy Coconut Milk recipes! The first is with a fresh coconut. This one requires a little more work since you have to open and empty a young coconut. The second recipe is a bit simpler because it uses dried coconut. Both of these recipes are less expensive than buying commercial coconut milk at the store, plus they taste better and don’t have all of those gross additives and sugar!

Coconut Milk Part 1: From Fresh Coconut

 Equipment needed:

  • High speed blender
  • Nut milk bag or cheesecloth
  • Bowl
  • Glass jar with lid

Ingredients

  • 1 young coconut
  • 1 cup filtered water (optional)
  • 1-2 t Vanilla

Instructions:

  1. Open the coconut (which you can learn how to do here)
  2. Empty the coconut water into a bowl
  3. Scrape out the meat of the coconut
  4. Blend the coconut meat and coconut water until smooth and add water to taste. (Or if you want more coconut milk — I know I do!)
  5. Strain mixture through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth and squeeze coconut milk into a bowl
  6. Add vanilla
  7. Transfer coconut milk into a bottle
  8. Keep covered and refrigerated
  9. Shake before using and enjoy!

Bonus: Use coconut paste in a smoothie or favorite recipe, or blend back into the milk for more texture.

Coconut Milk Part 2: From Dried Coconut

Equipment:

  • High speed blender
  • Nut milk bag or cheesecloth
  • Bowl
  • Glass jar with lid

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried organic coconut (either flakes or grated)
  • 4 cups hot water (hot but not boiling)
  • 1-2 t vanilla (optional)

Instructions:

  • Blend dried coconut and water until smooth
  • Strain mixture through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth and squeeze coconut milk into a bowl
  • Transfer coconut milk into a bottle
  • Keep covered and refrigerated (keeps for 3 or 4 days)
  • Shake before using and enjoy!

Bonus: Use leftover coconut meal in your favorite recipe to replace other flours.

TASTE TEST

Okay, so after I made coconut milk both ways I decided to conduct a little taste test. The coconut milk made with dried coconut is definitely much creamier and tastes more like the commercial brands you might find in a store. The milk using the fresh coconut is refreshing and is less creamy, tasting more like coconut water.

Both are absolutely delicious and I think it comes down to what you’re in the mood for. If you feel like having something refreshing and a little lighter, opt for a fresh coconut. If you feel like something creamy and delicious, use the dried coconut. Or you can do what I did and just make both so that you never have to choose between the two!

Which Coconut Milk method do you like better?! Share in the comments below!

Lose Weight by…Doing Nothing?!

Lose Weight by…Doing Nothing?!

While diet and exercise are well known to be key components to weight management, there is another major player that doesn’t get it’s fair share of glory: Sleep.

There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep. Our performance, how we look, the way we feel and ultimately our health are all influenced by how much sleep we get. While 9+ hours of sleep each night is ideal, less than 7 can leave us feeling foggy and irritable in the morning. But the consequences of sleep deprivation go way beyond waking up cranky. Countless studies have found that lack of sleep can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, slower reaction times, depression, cancer… and more.

Our bodies need sleep in order to reboot and repair. Think of sleep as a miracle drug with restorative powers. While we’re catching ZZZs, our bodies are working to regulate blood pressure, promote faster healing and muscle repair, and keep our memories sharp. It’s no coincidence that when we get a good night’s sleep we wake up feeling rejuvenated and just generally happier.

Benefits of sleep:

  • Contributes to weight loss and curbs carb cravings
  • Boosts mood and eradicates depression
  • Reduces blood pressure and stress levels
  • Reverses type II diabetes and minimizes the risk of heart disease
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Promotes faster healing and stronger immunity
  • Improves memory
  • Prevents cancer

While it provides a plethora of benefits, getting enough sleep is a lot easier said than done. With laptops, TV screens, and Smart Phones all around us it can be all too tempting to scroll through our Twitter feeds or watch that new episode of Scandal in bed. However, letting the hours tick by with these artificial lights isn’t doing our bodies any favors. And while a nightcap might seem like a good way to unwind after a long day, alcohol may induce sleepiness but it’ll disrupt your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and leave you feeling restless. Just like nutrition and exercise, sleep is a vital element to a healthy lifestyle and it’s essential we give our body the time it needs to reset and revive.

How to get more sleep:

  1. Establish a routine. Consistency lets our bodies know when it’s time to wind down and when to wake up.
  2. Exercise regularly.
  3. Avoid large meals late in the evening. Opt for a light snack rather than heavy carbs prior to bed.
  4. Turn off electronics. Not only are they distracting and rob us of sleep, but the artificial lights can mess with our circadian rhythm (a fancy term for our internal body clock).
  5. Cut down on caffeine.
  6. Put away the wine. Alcohol leads to a disrupted sleep so choose an herbal tea or hot water with lemon instead.
  7. Avoid sugar. It will keep you awake and spike your blood sugar.
  8. Keep the bedroom on the cooler side. Between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
  9. Try a soothing activity like journaling or meditation if you can’t fall asleep.

Sleep benefits our weight, health, heart, and mind so while it may seem counterproductive, we need our ZZZ’s to stay healthy both mentally and physically. Try some of the tips above tonight to get a good night’s sleep so when that alarm clock goes off, you’re ready to take on the world. Nighty-night!

What is your favorite nighttime ritual that helps you sleep? Share in the comments below!

Big Fat Lies About Your Diet: Lie #1

Big Fat Lies About Your Diet: Lie #1

LIE # 1: EATING FAT MAKES YOU FAT

It made sense, so we bought it.  If we eat fat, we will get fat. Simple logic. Then the dreaded 3-letter word got linked with things like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes—fat was clearly the enemy.

Well, it’s time to expose the truth, so here’s the skinny on fat. Fats are a vital part of a healthy nutrition plan! They help us absorb important vitamins and nutrients and are essential to our nervous systems. The monounsaturated fats in olives, olive oil, and avocados actually help us to prevent belly fat and protect our arteries from the buildup of plaque. The polyunsaturated fats found in fish and seeds help boost our immune systems along with brain function. The Omega-3 fatty acids in grass-fed meat help to normalize thyroid functions and increase our metabolic rates and muscle mass. Fat also plays a crucial role in reducing inflammation. See? Fat has been getting a bad rap.

Some of the benefits of fat include:

  • Helps our bodies absorb nutrients
  • Prevents belly fat and increases muscles mass
  • Protects arteries
  • Boosts immune system
  • Reduces cognitive decline
  • Normalizes thyroid functions
  • Increases metabolism
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Prevents cancer and other diseases

An added bonus? Healthy fats keep our appetites satisfied longer so we don’t overindulge. Have you ever noticed how at a restaurant you can keep reaching for another slice of bread, but when you have a small cut of steak you feel full? That’s because healthy fats keep us feeling satisfied faster and for far longer than refined carbohydrates and other junk. They’re a necessary part of a healthy diet.

What happens if you don’t get your fat fix?

When we don’t get enough fat, our body responds with some pretty ugly side effects. Fatigue, heart problems, vitamin deficiencies, mood imbalances, itchy skin, and poor body temperature regulation are just a few of the risks that come with not getting enough fat. Another side effect? Weight gain. WHAAAAT?!?! When our bodies don’t get enough healthy fat, it often leads to excessive appetite. Yup, not eating enough fat can actually make you fat. Oh, the irony!

Fats are our friends! Without them our body functions can get thrown out of whack. However, that doesn’t mean that the fat in those deep-fried mozzarella sticks, packet of Ding-Dongs, or other processed foods is doing us any favors. The fats I’m talking about are the ones found in real, whole foods. It’s also important to keep in mind that those foods you see at the grocery store labeled “fat-free” are loaded with sugar, calories, and gross additives.

So what kinds of fatty foods should we be eating? Here a list that will get you started.

Healthy_Fats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bottom line is eating fat does NOT make you fat. You need fat.  We should aim to have 3 servings of fat every day at about 1 tablespoon each for optimum health. Start taking healthy fats for what they really are: delicious, nutritious and oh, so satisfying!

Here’s a great article for you to read too:  Top 7 Most Common Reactions to Your High-Fat Diet (and How to Respond) by Mark Sisson

I’d love to hear from you!

 What’s your favorite fat and what’s your favorite way to eat it?  Share in the comments below.

And what’s another Big Fat Lie you would like exposed? Let me know—I’m on it!

Much Love,

Melodee_Sig_sm

Happy St. Patty’s Day: Make The Greenest Smoothie

Happy St. Patty’s Day: Make The Greenest Smoothie

Happy St. Patty’s Day everyone! What better way to kick off your celebration than with the greenest smoothie ever? You’re going to need some energy for all of those festivities today and this particular smoothie is a great way to make sure you get in some nutrition.

Smoothies are one of my favorite go-to breakfasts or snacks, especially when I’m in a rush. They’re not only ridiculously simple to make but they also include some crazy health benefits. An added bonus? Blending can help me reach my goal of 9 cups of veggies per day. Here are just a few of the benefits of a healthy smoothie.

  • Source of vitamins and minerals
  • Increase energy
  • Full of antioxidants
  • Boost mental clarity
  • Simple to make (and clean up!)
  • Reduce cravings
  • Portable (not enough time for breakfast? Bring in on the go!)
  • Easy way to get your servings of vegetables
  • Weight loss
  • Improve skin and lessen wrinkles
  • Lower risk of disease
  • Boost immune system

Juicing vs Smoothies

I get a lot of questions about the benefits of juicing versus smoothies. I prefer smoothies for 2 reasons. Juice is simply all the sugar squeezed out of the veggie which unfortunately spikes our blood sugar when we drink it. We need the fiber from the whole food to help slow down the absorption of the sugar into our blood.   Fiber is also important for digestion and elimination — so get your fiber!! When we juice, all of that yummy, filling fiber gets lost.

It’s important to know that not all smoothies are created equal. It’s best to make your own at home so that you know exactly what’s going in it. If you want to lose weight then you want to avoid smoothies with too much fruit, and aim for more veggies. As for the base of your smoothie, fruit juices are often loaded additives and sugar, and dairy is extremely difficult to digest. Instead, try using water, almond milk or coconut milk as a base!

A healthy smoothie is not going to taste like it was made down at the corner Dairy Freeze, sorry. But just remember, you’re having it to nurture and care for your body and mind. The less sugar you have in your everyday life, the better healthy food will start tasting. Give it a chance!

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here’s one of my favorite green smoothie recipes.

The Greenest Smoothie!

Ingredients:

  • 1 c of water (or coconut milk or almond milk)
  • 1/2 green apple
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 c spinach
  • Kale to taste
  • Protein powder

Instructions:
Blend…Yep, that’s it!

You are what you eat, so go green! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Finally! Post #1

Finally! Post #1

It’s taken two years to sit down and write this post. Two years of very important and legitimate excuses – which just seem too many and too lame to go into now.

What was the real reason? Fear. Fear of not doing it right. Fear of looking bad. Fear of feeling stupid. Fear of not knowing what I was to write about or who I was to write for. Fear of criticism. Fear of rejection. Fear of finding out I had nothing of consequence to share. Fear of not having enough. Fear of not being enough.

My fear kept me frozen. Not in every area of my life – that’s why it was so illusive. I didn’t know I was afraid. I was too busy with my business and doing my best to make a difference every day in the lives of my clients and family. In fact, the busier I was, the easier it was for me to justify not writing this post.

Even now I can feel the tug of my to-do list, my email, my bed, and of course my old faithful friend, food. I’m not actually hungry but since when did that matter? Food has always been there when I needed a distraction or comfort.

Food As Pacifier

Growing up, food seemed to be a limited resource. Portions were divided equally and if one person were to get more, it meant another would get less. And that was okay with me — as long as I was one getting more. Our family of six wasn’t exactly poor, but my folks worked hard to stretch the dollar to provide what we needed.

My dad liked to have dessert after dinner and it was something us kids grew up expecting. Often it was simply canned fruit or jello but sometimes it was one of my mom’s special recipes. She was an amazing cook and could whip up cakes and squares and the best dutch treats you could ever eat.

There always seemed to be plenty of flour and sugar in the cupboard, and wanting to be like my mom, I took to baking at an early age. I loved to make what we called, Wacky Cake – not only did it taste good but it took such few ingredients: flour, sugar, powered chocolate, oil, baking soda and vinegar. (I’d share the recipe but it’s not an addiction you want to take on, at any age).

Whenever I felt lonely, or bored, or sad, or happy (or anything), it was a good time for food. If it wasn’t Wacky Cake, it was rice crisp squares or cookies or maybe even a pie – and I got positive recognition for it from my family, which was an added bonus. (If I shared, that is.)

Making food and hoarding food became a consistent and successful coping mechanism for me. I say ‘successful’ because it did the job I asked of it: “Make me feel better” or sometimes, “Make me feel nothing”.

However, imagine the horror when my favorite Life Management Strategy started producing unfavorable side effects. As a teenager, I started to put on weight. A lot of it. Up until then, I had been tall and skinny regardless of what I ate.

The Devil In the Cookies

Gaining weight was not cool. I had watched my mom struggle with her weight for years and had learned that excess body fat was a very bad, albeit inevitable, condition. I dieted and did everything I could think of to get myself to lose weight.

I remember a time at church camp when a big plate of cookies was put out on the table. They were calling my name. Actually, they were screaming my name. I decided that this was bad—and if the cookies were bad, my young logic deduced that they were evil. The Devil was in those cookies and if I ate one, I would have the Devil in me. Now understand, I thought that this idea would help me not eat the cookies. It didn’t. I ate those cookies that day and seeded the belief that I was actually a bad person.

In my mind, I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t smart enough, thin enough, pretty enough. I collected evidence that I wasn’t lovable and it was my own fault. The conundrum was that food was my solace and my enemy—I ate to comfort myself and eventually had to purge to punish myself. The proverbial Catch 22.

The Long Road Home

Yes, there were many dark days. Healing was process that came from a lot of trial and error and yet, I can see nothing but the best that has come from this struggle. I get it. I’ve been there and I can help throw a life preserver to others who need it. Such an honor.

I am enough. You are enough. With this information, now what?!! What can we imagine for our body, our health… our life? It’s all ours to create, daily.

I believe that the body is a metaphor. It is an outside manifestation of what is going on inside. It is from this premise that I work on fitness from the inside out.

Having a great body is awesome. (Let’s do this!)

Having excellent health is awesomer. (Let’s do this too!)

Having a life of passion and purpose is awesomest. (Okay, let’s do it all!)

I want you to have the awesomest life. Now you don’t have to have an awesome body to experience a life of passion and purpose but why not express on the outside all the joy that is within?!

Welcome to my blog — my playground to work my process and share it with you as authentically as I can. Expect lots of information and inspiration and a few silly laughs thrown in for good measure. I appreciate your questions, comments and shares – feel free to reach out and let me know how I can serve you best.

Very Truly Yours,

Melodee

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