Fulfilled

Dear ones,

I recently published an article on Elephant Journal titled, “Fulfilled.” The piece details my experience in my recent career transition and the discoveries that came out of that time. I was lucky enough to work on the article with one of the publishers at Elephant Journal and I am very proud of the final product. Please read the article when you have a moment.

You can find “Fulfilled” here: https://www.elephantjournal.com/now/fulfilled/

Making Waves

 There is a quote that I once read which I come back to time and again when I am in need of a reminder about my own abilities and worth. It reads:

“Your thoughts and words are like stones dropped into still waters, causing ripples to grow and expand outward. The power you have to make impact on the world is far greater than you could ever image.”

Further exploration and interpreting of these beautifully strung together words leads to the discovery that each and every one of us is an incredibly powerful being with great potential to spark change and manifest good. We all come with our own unique strengths and sets of gifts, and when we believe in ourselves we can use those strengths and gifts to make ripples, even waves, for the greater good. You alone have the ability to do wonders.

Let me craft a simple example to help illustrate the potential power you hold to create good and have it ripple outwards towards growth.

Let’s say that you are at Starbucks. You walk up to the cashier to order your coffee. The barista manning the cash register has had a tough morning; they are anxious, tired, and weary of abrasiveness customers rushing through the morning hours. Upon your turn at the register, you pause, you greet the barista a good morning, you ask them how they are doing, you smile at them, maybe you even joke with them; you provide a much needed friendly interaction filled with warmth and kindness. This elevates the mood of the barista which helps them to better serve more customers throughout the day with that same kindness and warmth, and all of those customers now touched by that kindness go forth and perhaps spread even more kindness and warmth. By simply being friendly, you have quite possibly elevated the energy of many people throughout the day.

The above scenario starts on a small scale and becomes larger as the momentum catches on. What about an even grander scale? Let’s craft another scenario.

You are on the phone with your friend and through the natural conversations that take place in friendships, you tell this friend something that they really needed to hear. This friend also happens to be a teacher. Your friend-teacher goes to their class and in their lecture relates that something you told them to their students. This something deeply resonates with some of the students, and they go forth and use that message in various ways that impact more circles of people. Perhaps, maybe one of those students holds onto that something for years to come, allows it to inspire them to do something great that ultimately benefits many people. It could happen, and it could happen because you dropped that something, that stone of wisdom, into a calm surface of the ocean and made giant waves with it.

So you see, your words and actions have huge, enormous potential for growth and greatness. Furthermore, your simple thoughts have large potential too! Thoughts are not merely thoughts, they are vibrations of energy. In yoga and meditation, we believe that through the power of focused thought, we can eventually manifest those things we need or want. And so, by thinking positively and purposefully putting those thoughts into the universe, you can start to bring into reality more good. It’s a bit of a 60’s-Woodstock sentiment, but I truly believe this.

Sometimes it is so easy to doubt ourselves, to think of ourselves as too small, to believe that we are unable to make real and true impact in our time here on earth. The truth is, however, that we are each powerful beings of energy and light with every ability to touch this world in small and big ways. All you have to do now is to believe. So moving forward, believe in your worth, believe in your strength, believe in your power. Own it. Go on and make waves.

Slow Cooker Osso Bucco

Ciao friends! Today I am sharing with you a new recipe that utilizes the Slow Cooker to create a healthy variation of an Italian classic – Slow Cooker Osso Bucco! For those who are not familiar, traditional Osso Bucco usually refers to a specific cut of veal that is braised to fork tenderness in a concoction of wine, broth, vegetables, herbs, and spices, often served with a fresh herb gremolata. I typically do not eat veal because it is sad as hell, but luckily, you can achieve the warming and comforting qualities of Osso Bucco by replacing the veal with lighter, leaner, less sad protein choices like chicken or turkey, or even ¼ heads of cauliflower for a vegan variant. The next tweak to this Italian dish is to braise the protein in the slow cooker rather than on the stove or in the oven. By using the slow cooker, you guarantee tenderness and achieve greater freedom as you are able to allow the slow cooker to do the work all day so you can come home to fully cooked meal!

More or less a stewed dish with earthy herbs like rosemary and thyme and warming spices like cloves, Osso Bucco is a hearty, comforting dish that is perfect for fall and winter nights. I love making this dish with turkey around the holidays as it tastes and feels like a perfect holiday weeknight dinner. I recommend serving with a starch like mashed potatoes/sweet potatoes, risotto, or polenta to help soak up the sauce, and of course, lots of seasonal vegetables. Curl up with this dish and a Christmas movie and you are in for a cozy dinner treat!

Slow Cooker Osso Bucco

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken or turkey pieces (thighs and breasts)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup broth of choice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken or turkey on both sides with ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and the garlic powder. Sear the chicken on both sides until golden-brown, 3-4 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the skillet and place at the bottom of the slow cooker.

Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the skillet. Sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper. Cook till tender and onions translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and stir 1 minute until it coats the vegetables. Add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until evaporated. Pour the contents of the skillet into the slow cooker on top of the chicken.

Add the stock, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and cloves. Mix well and cover. Cook on low for 5 ½ – 6 hours or high for 2 ½ – 3 hours.

Plate the chicken or turkey pieces, spoon over some of the sauce, and if desired, sprinkle with optional gremolata.

Optional Gremolata:

  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Zest of half an orange
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Pinch of salt and peper

Combine all in ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well.

Vancouver

For years I had read and heard that Vancouver was an incredible, unique city in the heart of Canada’s beautiful province, British Columbia. Many have described it as an area that provides an exciting city to explore and quick access to mesmerizing hikes year round, breathtaking sea adventures spring through early fall, and stellar skiing in winter through early spring. I love all of these things and have thus always wanted to make my way to Vancouver. Finally in late October of 2017, I did and it was a spectacular experience.

(scroll down if you are looking for quick Vancouver recommendations)

 Indeed Vancouver is a wonder of a metropolis. It has great architecture, from vintage charming in areas such as hoppin’ and happenin’ Gastown replete with exposed brick walls and cobblestone streets to  modern sleek throughout downtown to cozy arts and craft style neighborhoods. Vancouver offers everything you want out of a populous and metropolitan city; fantastic restaurants and bars, great current and specialty shopping, and fun night life. And though it is crowded as most city hubs are, it still somehow manages to feel like an inviting town more than a city which can be attributed to its connection with nature which runs throughout the city with an abundance of trees and other organic features as well as its resident population of kindly, warm people that call Vancouver home.

Vancouver from the Bay

Again, what makes Vancouver so special is its extremely close proximity to nature. In Vancouver, not only do you have Stanley Park, but you are a stone’s throw away from the mountains, the woods, and the ocean at all times, allowing you to pursue your choice of outdoor activities with great ease. As a lover of the great outdoors myself, this factor made me fall in love with Vancouver that much more. Within just 3 1/2 days in Vancouver, I was able to do great city exploration and all that comes with it, a fairytale of a hike, and an adventure of a whale watching experience out on the water. So much, so close!

stanley park 2

Needless to say, I absolutely loved my stay in Vancouver and would highly recommend that anyone who loves all of the things I have just described above to go visit themselves. I was only there for half a week, but I feel comfortable stating that I think I could live in Vancouver if the opportunity arose.

lynn canyon hike 7

With that, I am sure you are eager to learn more, right? Well, keep reading below for a list of recommendations from my Vancouver adventure to consider when planning your own. I have divided them into Vancouver Areas, Activities, and Restaurants.

Continue reading

Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower Rice has been a thing for a good minute now, and I have been here for it for all of that minute. To me, plain white and brown rice is really just a vessel to soak up sauce or provide body and bite for another dish it is served alongside. In my opinion, neither colors of rice add anything special to any dish of their own accord, instead, they just add carbs. I have found that cauliflower rice provides that same texturized feel as white or brown rice and acts equally well as a supporting act to other dishes it is served with while also keeping the amount of carbs you are eating low (Disclaimer: carbs are great! You need carbs! They are essential to healthy functioning! But I prefer to get my carbs from other, more exciting sources than plain rice).

Furthermore, in my experiences working with cauliflower-rice, I have found that it has the potential to contribute its own something special to a meal or even stand alone. By its very nature, it seems to soak up flavors more readily, allowing it to act as a real stand-out side or even starring base.

This Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice is one of my favorite ways to turn to this crucirferous vegetable into a gourmet tasting dish. The texture is just that of a crunchy yet chewy rice dish, but with a unique zesty and bright flavor profile. This recipe works as a great accompaniment to any sort of Mexican food: tacos, enchiladas, tequila-lime chicken, etc. It also makes a great base for a taco/burrito bowl style meal. It can even be served chilled as an additional base alongside lettuce in a salad.

This dish is incredibly simple to make, only requiring a few in expensive ingredients. By its very nature, it is also an incredibly healthy dish, full of the nutrition and benefits of cauliflower which include providing large amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, cancer fighting properties, immune and digestive system support and much more. This dish is vegan, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly. It has become a staple recipe in my home, and now I am excited to share it with you!

Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cauliflower rice *See Note*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ medium red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • Zest and juice of 2 limes
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Sautee until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the cauliflower rice, sprinkle with garlic powder, remaining salt, and pepper. Mix together and continue cooking, stirring occasionally for another 5 minutes, until the cauliflower goes from bright white to slightly golden. Turn off the heat, add the lime juice, zest, and cilantro. Mix well and serve.

*Note* You can make your own cauliflower rice by taking cauliflower florets from a large head of cauliflower, cutting away as much stem as possible and in 3 batches, break up the florets into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles couscous. OR you can just buy premade Cauliflower Rice; Trader Joe’s has the best.

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo

My Slow Cooker, Carlotta, is the best. She makes me all sorts of delicious foods from soups and stews to braises and poaches, she can do it all! One of my favorite dishes that I like to have Carlotta the Slow Cooker whip up is this Chicken Adobo. It is an incredibly simple dish, requiring few ingredients and only minutes of minimal effort to prepare.

It is rich with a flavor profile that is at once lightly spicy and subtly smokey. Additionally, the small shopping list for this recipe makes it quite cost effective.  It is also fit-fam friendly; it is completely gluten and dairy free and low in both fat and sugar. Combine all this with the fact that it is such an absurdly simple recipe to prepare and you will soon find this dish in your regular rotation.

I like to serve my chicken adobo with some zesty Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice and seasonal vegetables or zoodles. You can also shred the slow cooker level tender chicken to incorporate into tacos, enchiladas, or on top of a salad. Once the slow cooker has produced this great main dish for you, the world is yours to do with it as you please!

So whip out your Slow Cooker, name it like me, and get cooking!

Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3-4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce *see note*
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 1 pinch pepper
  • Cilantro for garnish

Directions:

Lay the chicken pieces at the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour over the tomato sauce. Add in the remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours. Option to shred chicken with forks or serve in whole pieces.

*Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce Note 1* You can find these peppers in small cans in the ethnic foods isle of your local grocery store. See picture below.

*Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce Note 2* The more peppers, the spicier the recipe. The use of 2 is quite mild, the use of 4 is decently spicy but nothing crazy. You pick your level of spice!

 

 

Choosing Life Over Loans

I recently read a brilliantly written article by Lee Siegel entitled, “Why I Defaulted On My Student Loans”. In summary, Siegel recounts her choice to not pay her student loans back in order to continue living a full life that was not solely based on making money, paying bills, and dying at the end of it all. She calls out how, unfortunately, our society often looks upon one who is in debt for their education, and not doing all they can to pay their loans back as soon as possible, as someone who is irresponsible and displays a lack of good character. She argues, however, that building good character in the eyes of others requires actually living and enjoying life, seeing and experiencing the world, and nurturing relationships with others. The article is very thought provoking, and I agree with much of what she says. Take a read here: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/opinion/sunday/why-i-defaulted-on-my-student-loans.html?referrer&_r=0

You see, I myself have a decent amount of student loans to my name, along with 42% of my generation, and so Siegel’s article speaks to me on many levels. Now, to all my family members and close friends, please do not fret; I have no intention of defaulting on my student loans. Though, I also do not plan to work myself into unhappiness and depression over said loans. Some would argue that the wisest course of action would be to put my head down, work myself to the bone, all the while turning down opportunities for rewarding life experiences, until I have managed to pay back my loans. Maybe then, after I have paid back said loans, can I then decide to begin truly living my life. Personally, I don’t find this a wise course at all. Continue reading