December 30, 2012

Cookies vs. Broccoli: Both/And not Either/Or



The inspiration for this post came about a week before Christmas when several dozen homemade Christmas cookies sat about 2 feet away from me on the dining room table.

I love cookies. Well, I should say I loved them. There was a time in my all-to-recent past where cookies had a chokehold on me. I couldn't be near one without eating it. Some days I actually sought cookies out, but those were rare. I would mostly just be in the vicinity of a cookie and wouldn't be able to resist consuming it.

Cookies used to be a regular grocery store staple for me, especially growing up. My mom would buy several packages each week for our school lunches or weekends or evenings--basically whenever.

I have no problem telling you I was a sugar addict, mostly because don't consider myself one today. 

Here's why:

while I do consume sugar, I don't constantly obsess about it
I rarely if ever seek to buy food containing processed sugar (either out or when buying groceries)
I rarely if ever use processed sugar in tea or while cooking
I am 100% aware of the effects sugar has on my body and mental spirit
I don't have negative thoughts/feelings of shame while consuming sugar or sugary foods
I rarely if ever prioritize consuming sugary foods over fruits or veggies

I could probably add a few more but that will do for now.

Oh, and I intentionally eat sugar in front of people who think I wouldn't or shouldn't because I'm a healthy life coach.

I listed those habits because they are in stark contrast to my former lifestyle and nutrition habits--direct opposites, in fact. I sat down and thought about my relationship to sugar now versus just a few years ago and definitely 8-10 years ago and that's what came up. There was no way I was thinking about green foods back then. I thought about vegetables as this annoyance that got in the way of my sugar consumption. I also obsessed about sugar like crazy, constantly wondering about my next fix.

And that was as recently as 2009.

And then I became a health coach. And things changed significantly.

And then I addressed my deepest fears, one of which ended up being my transgender identity. And then things REALLY changed.

I think I really realized how differently my nutrition, lifestyle habits and relationship to food have all changed when I was staring at those tins of cookies on the table and there was absolutely no one and nothing stopping me from eating as many as I wanted. Seriously. I mean, that's really my life every single day--no one is responsible for telling me what to do and how to live my life other than me. I have the power to do whatever I want, eat whatever I want, say whatever I want, and love, learn, clean, color, write, think, walk, dance and dress however I want--the list goes on and on.

The question is: with all this freedom of choice and expression--what do I actually choose? 

Because that is what defines who I am and the life I want to live.

On this particular day, I regarded those cookies and I heard myself say out loud, "yeah. cool. Yum. As soon as I eat something real and something green."

And that's exactly what I did.




December 18, 2012

Good Grief





Those famous words uttered by Charlie Brown at least once in a Peanuts episode or cartoon in the newspaper.

Given the event in Newtown, CT last Friday, I wondered aloud, "can grief ever be good?"

Aside from what happened on Friday morning, this time of year is difficult enough for many people, while also being full of joy and celebration for others. In fact, it's possible it is both difficult AND wonderful for most people. From posts on facebook, more and more people are expressing that this year is particularly difficult for them.

My past experience of grief surely never felt good at all but as I said in a facebook status the other day, I am experiencing a new kind of grieving experience this year--one that actually doesn't feel horrible and in many ways feels very good, indeed. I have come to develop a newfound respect for grief, and all it has provided me.

Perhaps my intimacy with my own grief over the past 10 years helped me manage my feelings about the tragedy at Sandy Hook, CT. I don't feel desensitized from the many violent shootings this past year (and years before), I feel very present with them. I remember watching footage from Columbine when I was in college and feeling the same level of awareness and utter sadness that I felt this past Friday morning. I also feel angry. I feel angry that I was raised to fear black men as the ultimate violent aggressor in my country and instead white men are behind the majority of these mass shootings.

Since 1982, there have been at least 62 mass murders* carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii. Of the 142 guns possessed by the killers, more than three quarters were obtained legally. Forty four of the killers were white males. Only one of them was a woman.  -http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map


Now, I grieve misinformation I was fed as a child and continue to be fed today.

I grieve many old stories and old belief systems I was taught at home and in school.

When I endured my first break-up, I grieved the loss of my first love. In the years following that relationship, I grieved revelation after revelation of the person I thought I was, and the experiences I had as a child.

I've grieved jobs that ended, whether on my own terms or not.
I've grieved friendships that ended.
I've grieved my own identities.
My old voice.
My body, as it has changed over the years.
My relationship to my family.

In every instance, I was fully present with my experience. My Buddhist practice taught me to do that. I read book after book about being present, leaning into the sharp points, not running or grasping (at alcohol, smoking or food). I grasp in a different way, which I'll explain in another blog post.

After years of sitting with grief, I've realized it is indeed a very good process. Sitting in my experience, being fully present with my feelings (all of them, and there are many) has allowed me to become an excellent coach for others who are taking on similar work. The more I am able to be in my own company, no matter what comes up and no matter how impossible things feel, the more I am able to do that for others.

That matters to me, because not everyone is able to do this. And I believe it is something we all need.

I didn't know years ago when I struggling through understanding and passing through the many stages of grief what it was all for. I had no idea why I was suffering so. Now I see, and it all makes sense. Grief is a very good thing, indeed, because nothing is permanent. Nothing lasts.

Things come and things go--people, jobs, money, material possessions, even feelings--and the best work I have done in my life is learning to be ok with that. 

I've had to allow feelings that come up when I want things to be different and just sit with those feelings. Sometimes I give those feelings a minute, sometimes a week, something years. I find the most tension not in feeling the feelings but when I try to stuff them down or pretend they aren't there or when I ask for help from people who aren't ready, willing or able to provide it. That's when the grief goes from bad to worse.

I experience good grief when I draw on my Buddhist practice that reminds me of what I already know. I also experience good grief when I share my feelings with people who can hold the space for them, perhaps because they do that well for themselves. I also experience good grief when I don't rush the process--because grief has shown me it is way stronger than the Puritan work ethic. Yes, there are things to get done and life goes on, but grief runs by its own timeclock. And I have come to respect and admire that. It teaches me a lot about my inner world versus the external world I participate in.  The agenda of the external world rarely lines up with the internal one.

Grief is good when I embrace it. It has taught me how to be vulnerable and more gentle with myself. It has taught me how to be a better listener for others. 

Good grief.





December 17, 2012

Who's In Your Fellowship?



I'm not talking about religion here. Although, I will be doing that soon.

Right now, I'm talking about your team. Your crew. Your people. The ones who will get you through a tough time of change and transition.

Last year was a rough one for me. In fact, there were quite a few rough years leading up to this massive change I just took on. But the last one was pretty tricky.

In those last few months as I was staring down decisions about permanent changes to my body and identity, I was struggling. Grasping at straws many days, I felt as if life were bottomless. A deep dark abyss that awaited my eventual drowning.

To say I was depressed is an understatement. You never suspected that? Well, that's because I had a formidable crew of supporters to sustain me during the darkest, scariest of times, just like Frodo's crew in the Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Each person/dwarf/hobbit/elf, etc. in that group added an unique skill or talent to help Frodo accomplish the tremendous task and journey he elected to take on. Just like the Fellowship of the Ring, the members of my fellowship all possess different skills and traits and bring unique perspectives and gifts with them. I am grateful for each and every one, and I couldn't have done what I did without them.

Here are the top 5 qualities in my friends, therapists, coaches and mentors that I need and am most grateful for in my past, present and future transitions:

1) humor: I love funny. I love wit. Anyone who brings this into my life to lift me up gets bonus points. I especially appreciate it when it comes in the form of sarcasm with a laser-focus set on intentionally bringing me out of a funk. The witty, "I'm saying this to make you laugh" sarcasm. For instance, the other day I said to a struggling friend, "eat some broccoli, cut the shit. Go be a warrior." She texted me later, "that was the best advice I've gotten in months."

2) deep listening: don't nod and say, "uh huh". Don't "yeah" me to death. Freakin' listen to me, tell me what you hear me saying and ask me if I need or want any advice or feedback. One of the best skills I've learned and developed over the past 5 years is how to actually listen to someone. I don't do it perfectly all the time but I think I do a better job than I did in the past. And I really appreciate someone who does it well for me.

3) homemade food: I can't explain what it felt like coming home from my surgery to weeks of homemade food from my friends. There was no feeling like it in the world. I felt like they really really knew me and my values and I felt incredibly safe and well-fed, as a result. And the people who let me cook for them? Winners. Food is love, and I like to give and receive it as much as I can.

4) no agendas: my best supporters during my time of massive change and transition were people who listened to me process what was real and true for me with no agendas of their own. There weren't any questions about hard things or if there were and I resisted or shrugged, they dropped it. There was no pressure to answer or explain myself because they wanted to know more details about issues I was struggling to bring into my consciousness. They existed to support me--not to use me as a classroom. There was no timetable in place--never once did my best supporters say things like, "well you have to make a decision soon" or "when will you use male pronouns--because I'm confused". Yeah, I was, too. And it was hell trying to get up and function every day but I still did it and sought out people who didn't need an answer to be able to love me. In fact, they got early on that it was damn near impossible for me and they took my lead when talking about it.

5) awareness: probably the best and most valuable skill my friends brought was a deep awareness of what I was going through. Not all of them were particularly trans* savvy, but they possessed a deep awareness of my process, perhaps as a result of their own deep suffering or transition of some sort, that enabled them to be fully present with my struggle. Some members of my fellowship were trained therapists and practitioners, some were deeply intelligent and intuitive people, some were learning through me but gentle enough to keep their questions for later. They got that it was big, all-consuming and incredibly scary. And even if they didn't fully understand and couldn't relate, they gave me the space and time to sort through it.


Who are the people in your crew? What qualities do you need in your friends to accomplish what feels impossible to do by yourself?

December 16, 2012

Buttered Black Beans, Collards and Sweets




It was cold and rainy today. Bleary. Bleak.

Gross.

Hello, comfort food!

I didn't feel like going food shopping so I went through the cabinets instead and pulled something super great together. Here's three tips to make something like this possible:

1) no matter how tired you are, always buy two different kinds of leafy greens at the grocery store 1-2x a week. Store them in bags or containers to keep them fresher, longer.

2) keep a few cans of Eden brand beans around. For nights when you want some power-packed protein but have no energy to cook. Paired with some butter and spices, they go from "meh" to "YEAH!"

3) think outside the box. You're keeping this simple. You're cooking dinner for yourself (or your partner or family)--you're not competing on a Food Network tv show. Although, the challenge of assembling dinner with little to no ingredients can feel a bit like being on Iron Chef...


Buttered Black Beans, Collards and Sweets

1 12-oz can black beans
1 bunch collards, washed and chopped (check out my video on how to prep collards)
2 large sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp org. butter
1 carton org. chicken broth
2 cups water
1 medium onion, diced

1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp. chili powder



In a large pot, combine chicken broth, water and collards. Simmer over medium-low heat for 45-60 minutes. The longer you cook them, the more tender they will be. Allow for this time when prepping your meal.


In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat and add onions. Cook until translucent. Add black beans and spices and simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes.

Cut sweet potatoes into long rectangular cubes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook potatoes in the oven on a cookie sheet (adding parchment paper is even better) for 15 minutes or until browned to your liking.


Combine and serve.


Waste Not, Want Not

Dear Dillan,

I made that recipe you posted, where you cooked the collard greens in chicken broth. They came out great! Super soft and tasty.

I wondered, do all the nutrients get lost when I cook them like that? What should I do with the broth after I cook the greens in it?

signed,

your rad client



Dear My Rad Client,

Drink the broth. That's where the nutrients go. Makes for a tasty warm drink!



December 11, 2012

Choosing to Relax


This past weekend, I made a decision.

I was going to relax. On purpose.

It's been an extremely enjoyable few months. I have been living it up since coming home from my surgery in August. I made a decision to enroll in grad school during the summer and really wondered if I'd be able to make it along with my coaching biz and some other side gigs. The good news is: not only am I making it, I'm thriving!

But it's a lot of work. And I'm busy. But I couldn't be happier. I get to decide what I do each and every day of my life and it is THE ideal life for me. I honestly couldn't ask for more and I wouldn't change a thing. It is exactly the life I want to be living right now and some days, I honestly can't believe I pulled it off---let alone that I've been rockin' it for the past 5 months.

That's a long time to be living the dream. Can't wait for more years ahead!

In the meantime, however, some rest and relaxation is called for. I keep a packed schedule so I had to be sure I scheduled in some downtime--balance in all things, after all, right?

I had a craving for some escapism--so I downloaded the Lord of the Rings triology and got through parts 1 and 2. Still have to make some time for part 3, the final chapter. I've seen them before. They are very staged, a little silly but just the kind of stuff I was craving: total fantasy and a departure from my real life and all the serious and wonderfully powerful stuff that involves. A little mental vacation, if you will.

After being hosted by some incredible friends this past Friday night for dinner, I put my feet up, grabbed a bottle of the new Woodchuck cider Winter brew and enjoyed the heck out of my Saturday evening. And then I did it again on Sunday night. Three evenings of pure bliss!!

It was the first real relaxing weekend I've had in way too long, and it felt damn good especially at this time of year. I remember the years of running myself into the ground at work and getting caught up with the holiday prep and expectations. That stuff can be so fun but so stressful, too. I want to enjoy my life, I don't want to merely "get through it".

It is a choice. A choice I need to make on purpose.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves




If I kept telling myself the story that "I could never live in limbo as a trans* person", I wouldn't be enjoying my life the way I am today.

This time last year, life wasn't very rad. And the year before that. And the year before that.

I never would have known that I would enjoy life this much and have this much fun, but it took a lot of time for me to stop telling myself the story that I didn't deserve to be happy, healthy and live my life on my own terms.

Now I look awesome, feel awesome, spend my time doing exactly what I want to do and I am not dreaming about all that---it's my reality.

I am so glad I stopped telling myself the story that it wasn't possible so I could start using my time effectively toward MAKING it happen.

December 4, 2012

The Power of a Little Positivity


Think that no one notices when you're coming from gratitude and abundance?

Think again. Here's what happened to me!

A New Normal



I left "normal" behind a long time ago.

See ya!

I pride myself and cruise through life these days as a result of questioning the concept of normal and generally doing everything in my power to make sure I don't believe the hype.

There is no such thing as normal. #justsayin

I have a lot more fun and love my life because I listen to myself, surround myself with people who support me and persevere at "work" I love (quotes because it never feels like work) and eat real food.

And you can believe that I'll keep seeking out new ways to support everyone in rethinking normal and why they can ditch that expectation for themselves.

November 28, 2012

Share The Love: Your Testimonial About Dillan

You were or are a client of mine.
You attended one of my workshops.
You had an amazing consultation with me and now you're working hard to create the finances to do some coaching work together.

You know me and your life has changed as a result of us working together in some way. Share the love so others can feel inspired and encouraged the take the leap, too.


thank you, Dillan

November 19, 2012

Counting Raisins



When I was in high school, I developed a serious eating disorder.

I've alluded to it here and there, but I've never really written about it--or shared it with any great detail.

Speaking with a prospective client the other night dug up some memories for me, particularly when he mentioned counting raisins. You might think it's silly. Or unnecessary. Or any number of things. But me? I got it. Because I once did the same thing.

What are the odds that he'd find someone to talk to who had the same exact experience? Maybe the odds are pretty good, I have no idea. But I can share how it affected me to sit across from someone who is so compelled and consumed by counting calories, that he's missing a lot of his precious life. And how I remember being in that same position. I remember being that stuck in something that felt so exhilarating ("hey! Look how good I am at this! I am so damn good at depriving my young developing body and mind of essential nutrients on a daily basis!") yet exhausting at the very same time.

I know that, for as good as I was at the game, I never got any damn medals for my meticulous calorie counting. There are no Eating Disorder Olympics, unfortunately. No awards doled out for how many days my weight stayed the same, the needle never budging from that precious and--extremely--important number over which it hovered. I got no Honorable Mention for the amount of time I managed to take to consume a bagel. A bagel. On average, they contain about 600 calories, give or take. To most people who are conscious of their nutrition in healthy ways, plain bagels wouldn't be considered an option, mostly because they are 600 calories of pure carbohydrates--nothing of real value unless I was running a 10K. But to my eating-disordered mind--bagels were on "the list" and believe me, I wasn't running any 10Ks. In fact, I had to quit my high school basketball team my Junior year because my weight dropped so low I couldn't hold my own against opposing teams. If you know me today, you would find this unimaginable--I am pretty stocky and incredibly fucking strong. And I had been that strong as a kid and teenager, too, but not when I starved myself to the point of losing all my lean muscle mass--you know, the kind that makes us strong and, ironically, burns the most calories.

Never knew this. Wish I had.

Instead, I allowed myself to fall down the rabbit hole of a sub-clinical (called thusly because I was never actually hospitalized for it) eating disorder. It was, in many ways, the opposite end of a scale I had been on as a kid. I maybe ate a bit too much sugar and sweet stuff than I needed to. I probably carried an extra 10-15 pounds I didn't need between the ages of 9 and 15, but it never was anything the Doctor spoke to my mom about. But let me tell you, he certainly spoke to her when I went from 165 pounds to a drastic 118. I can't tell you how long it took to lose that weight--I think a few months. I don't have much memory of that time. I just remember being very hungry, very tired, very confused and very angry. Nutrient deprivation will do that to you.

I remember starving myself most of the day and coming home late at night from hanging out with friends and standing in my pantry counting out raisins in my hand. Or bingeing on dry cereal right out of the box--never making the connection that the massive amount of late-night calories I consumed off-set the "great work" I did during each day.

None of it was rational or logical. None of it made sense. But it was my friend--it was the best friend I had when my life felt extremely lonely and challenging beyond what my teen brain could comprehend.

Many years later, I have conquered the obsession with calorie-counting. I eat and drink every day with no real clue about the calories I consume. I eat nutrient-dense, organic food as often as I can because it tastes good. I do it for my health. I still love sugar, and so I have to be mindful when I eat it--because it's also a friend I reach for in times of stress and confusion.

I am glad I struggled with that eating disorder--that compulsion to control my food when the rest of my life felt unmanageable. I am glad, so so glad, I know the visceral reality of that experience so that when clients talk to me about it, I can say with total honesty, "I get it. I really do."

But I am also glad I worked my ass off to end it. And I am glad that when I pour boiling water into my plain instant oatmeal--flavored now with a nice swirl of pure maple syrup and a pat of organic butter---that I don't have to count the raisins anymore.

November 17, 2012

Turkey 2-Bean Chili Recipe

If you read this post: Too Busy To Cook? Not An Option, you're here to get this damn good recipe.


TURKEY 2-BEAN CHILI

2 lbs fresh ground dark turkey meat
3 Tbs olive oil--split into 2 Tbs and 1 Tbs
1 large carrot, coined
1 medium onion, diced
1 can Eden brand adzuki beans
1 can Eden brand black beans
1 large can organic diced tomatoes
1 medium red pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced

this is about what I did but you can mess around with these amounts:

2 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1 Tbs sea salt


In a deep pot, brown turkey meat in 2 Tbs olive oil until almost no pink appears.

As that's browning, in a separate saute pan over med-low heat, cook onion in remaining olive oil until it's soft and clear. Add red pepper and carrot and cook until softened. Add these to the pot with the browned turkey meat and add remaining ingredients.

Simmer over med-low heat for 35 minutes. Serve over a grain of your choice or not, or with sour cream or cheese melted over the top.

Damn right.


Too Busy To Cook? Not An Option For Me




"As God is my witness, I will never go hungry again!" -Scarlett O'Hara


Say what you will about this iconic scene in an iconic film (it's ok. We can say the film and the book it's based on is extremely racist, among many things) but I really identified with Scarlett this past week or so.

Here's the play-by-play:

After my surgery in August, I came home and got to sit around and twiddle my thumbs. A lot. Lots of thumbs. Lots of sun. Lots of spending time with friends.

And then, the party was over. Time to get back to business which, for me, included a huge soar in business combined with part-time grad school AND some other side gigs that make my heart happy. READ: booked schedule. No time to shop, no time to eat (3 night meetings in one week) and no time--no time--to cook. This, my dear readers, is not an option.

About mid-week, I found myself facing this plate (brace yourselves):

that's canned tuna and frozen spinach (warmed-up)


You know what that's called? Pathetic. Yep. Pathetic.

That's what happens when I don't make time to prepare real food for myself. And guess what else was happening? I was shoving anything I could find into my face because I was starving (real food has the nutrients we need, so technically I was starving myself while also being ravenously hungry) which led to two realities:

1) I was gaining weight
2) I was pissing away a lot of my hard-earned money on a fraction of the food I could make myself

When I peeked into a pot of chili in a store and heard myself say aloud, "I could make that. And better, too." I knew it was time.

You might have thought the canned tuna on a plate would be the rock bottom. It was damn close.

So, I woke up bright and early today and prioritized work that needed to get done, emails that needed to be answered, friends who I had plans to see (love love) and, most of all, cooking myself some damn food for the week. I did some simple math for a recipe which you can find right here: TURKEY 2-BEAN CHILI. About 8 oz of it at a cafe or another locale cost me ~$5.00-$7.00. The last place literally made me cry. About 5 oz of broth, a few pieces of meat and some corn. $5.39 I can't get back.

Here's the breakdown of my meal:

TURKEY 2-BEAN CHILI



2 lbs fresh dark ground turkey meat: $11.00
1 can organic diced tomatoes: $2.69
1 can black beans: $2.39
1 can adzuki beans: $2.39 (the Eden brand costs a bit more, for good reason. Their cans are safer and they add kombu to their beans, adding to their nutrient density)
1 onion: $ .67
1 carrot: $ .28
=
$19.42 divided by about 9-10 servings is------------ $2.15 per serving.

This is why being too busy to cook isn't an option for me.

The sheer savings of money, alone, is good incentive to say nothing of the pleasure I derived from taking charge of my damn health today AND filling the house with incredible smells and some damn fine food, if I do say so myself.

That panicked feeling of grasping for crap? No more of that, thanks.





November 15, 2012

Trans* Awareness Week


This is my new reflection in the mirror each morning.

Today, I chose to capture it...and share it.

But then, I took it down from facebook almost immediately upon posting it. For all of my life, I have been hiding my chest---because I was a woman, and it's illegal to walk around topless in America.

I also was hiding because I hated my body. I hated it. And I didn't think there would ever come a day when I didn't hate it.

But that day happened. And many more have happened, since.

Since I decided to identity as transgender, my life has become unrecognizable--and thusly, so has my relationship to my body and its image. In many ways, my sense of reality has changed so much I often feel like I'm being filmed for another Matrix sequel, or being Punked by Justin Bieber and Ashton Kutcher.

I walk around with my head held high, my shoulders even higher and I don't have one negative thought about my body. I work out more, I eat better and I love people more--from a place of inner peace and balance that I had never known before.

The time between using the word transgender and embodying it, as I define it for myself, was really hard. It was really scary to live in that in-between place of saying one thing but not really connecting with it. The body image didn't match the mental one. I wasn't sure it ever would. There was a lot of "faking it until I made it".

But now, I don't have to fake anything. In fact, there is very little about me that doesn't feel aligned and confident and proud. There are many days where that feeling is unsettling. I can't quite explain how it feels to have lived my whole life frustrated, annoyed, encumbered and generally confused by the reflection I saw in the mirror each day and to now wake up and feel only peace and joy! Joy? Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I wouldn't have hateful, bitter thoughts when I passed by a mirror or store window. Never did I think I would want to take pictures of myself topless and post them on facebook. And never did I think I'd feel disappointed that I took it down--that I wasn't brave enough to leave it up. I guess I just figured that other people don't post pictures of themselves half naked (well, some people do, but that's why I stopped using Myspace) so I shouldn't, either.

So many people have been extremely supportive and wonderful, even as they go about their cisgendered existence---not understanding on any level what it feels like to be me. The gender and sex of their bodies make sense and they feel ok. They don't get my experience, I don't get theirs but we don't have to. We just agree to have our relative experiences.

It feels confusing but at the same time very liberating that I no longer compare my identity to theirs, feeling like I'm wrong or broken in some way because I take hormones and had surgery to look a way that feels right and good. Because, honestly? If that's what it took for me to wake up feeling more confident, centered and proud and be able to bring more grace and peace to my working relationships and friendships---so be it. The old me: full of anger, fear, self-loathing and bitterness certainly wasn't making the progress and having the incredible positive impact I've had since taking on this transition.

This is what being trans* means for me. This is what it looks like. This is what it feels like.

It feels wonderful to be me.

November 13, 2012

Cleansing Cabbage Salad



So Halloween has come and gone. And I stuck to my goal to not have one piece of candy corn for yet another year!

Feels so good.

I did have a few pieces of candy at a party I attended. I went as a Mormon missionary. It was a timely costume on the eve of our national presidential election.

In general, though, my cravings for sugar and crap food have dramatically changed since my surgery in August and the shifts I've made in my life for the past 6 months or so. On a daily basis, I wake up excited for the life I've created for myself---literally a life of my own making. When I'm doing my talks, I often share with the attendees that if they don't love their lives, it will show up in their food choices. I can truly attest to this happening for me more than once in my life, but especially now.

In general, I eat whatever I want every day. And that does include sugar and meat and wheat--all of those things in moderate amounts that feel right and good for me. I have never succeeded with total elimination of anything in my life. Just doesn't feel balanced or sustainable for me.

Even though I didn't eat a ton of sugar for Halloween, because I eat seasonally my diet is becoming more full of rich, salty, fatty foods associated with fall and winter and less of the raw, light foods associated with spring and summer. It's appropriate for this time of year. But my skin is also having a bit of a hard time due to my hormone regimen, so I need to keep things in check nutritionally to help it out as much as I can. That's why I made this raw cabbage salad the other day. The raw greens (yep, cabbage counts as a green), carrots and apple provided essential raw insoluble fiber. Because humans can't digest insoluble fiber, it increases bulk and eases movement of waste through the intestines and colon. That makes for a happy me. Cabbage is really dense in other nutrients, despite its light color (usually the darker the green, the better) so I'm a happy camper all-around.

Cleansing Cabbage Salad

3-4 cups cabbage, shredded
2 large carrots, shredded
2 apples, diced or shredded

dressing:

3 Tb vinegar (I was wary use apple cider but it was all I had so I made the jump. Turned out ok. Try it with white or rice vinegar, too)
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp sesame seeds (I used Gomasio)
2 tsp soy sauce (I use wheat-free Tamari)
1 tsp sesame oil
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

Combine shredded ingredients in a large bowl.

Add dressing as needed to individual servings (keeps the salad fresher, longer).


I feel best when I'm balancing meals like the rich tastiness of a burger made of ethically- raised local beef and raw, crunchy vegetables and fruits. As we move into a time of more dense, rich foods made from animal products (meat, butter, cheese, etc.) and cooked vegetables in soups and stews, remember to add in some raw stuff from time to time, once a day or so, to keep things moving along. To keep the balance in check.

Unless, of course, you're a raw vegan. ;)

October 30, 2012

I Stopped Procrastinating

video


I've made many changes in the past few years and especially in the past few months.

One thing I wasn't changing was my voicemail greeting.

Next week marks my 6-month "manniversary". It will be 6 months since I started taking T. My voice is much deeper. Changed forever. No going back. It was something I was really afraid of, and grieved heavily in the first few months. I wasn't ever going to sound the same, ever again. My voice was my trademark. Unique. Special. And now, it was going to change.

And I was controlling that change. Fingered hovered over the red button, so to speak.

Since it was so hard, it makes sense that it took me almost 6 months to change my voicemail greeting. It was the last recorded proof of who I was. What I sounded like. Changing that was changing...the present and the future.

Can you see why I was dragging my feet about it? Procrastinating was so much easier than doing the hard thing, but it so many ways it was actually dragging out the hard part. Procrastination is like that. We think we're fooling ourselves that we are avoiding pain but doesn't it just drag out the pain and suffering much longer? Because it isn't like we forget about the thing we're avoiding. Well, I should speak for myself. I don't forget that thing. It hangs over my head and practically every waking moment until I resolve it.

Welcome to my mindfulness practice. ;) It's a real trip, sometimes!

Today, I finally stopped procrastinating. With the press of a button, I erased the past and replaced it with the current, gorgeous present.

Scary? Yep. Hard? Not so much. I did it when I was good and ready. I didn't rush when it felt wrong. I took my sweet time, but kept it as a goal the whole time--and challenged myself on the edge of my comfort zone. And it FELT SO GOOD! WHAT A RELIEF! The agonizing around taking the leap was finally over.

Evolution feels so good and so right when it comes from within and we have the right people to support us along the way. That's for another day, but today---stop procrastinating. Stop avoiding something that needs to be addressed or resolved. Or changed.

You will feel so much better once it's done.


October 29, 2012

"Hurricane Sandy" Cocoa Oat Truffles



I've had this recipe from Whole Foods Market sitting on my counter for, oh, I don't know, maybe a month?

Nothing like a little restlessness and impending hurricane-bound cabin fever to get a guy in the kitchen!
No day like today to make something that doesn't require a fridge to keep it tasty. ;) I added a few additional ingredients but have to give credit where credit's due. Thanks, WFM. ;)

Remember: ORGANIC ingredients are always your best bet. 

COCOA OAT TRUFFLES

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup finely chopped pitted dates

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, divided (I used raw cacao by Navitas)

1/2 cup almond butter

1/4 raisins

1/4 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

pinch nutmeg

pinch cinnamon

hint:
you want to use a food processor that is bigger than the 21-ounce machine I used. When everything didn't fit, I tried to use my Vitamix and learned something: Vitamix machines don't make good food processors.

Place oats in a food processor and process until finely ground.

Add dates, cocoa, almond butter, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon and process together until finely ground and sticking together.

Roll into balls in your palms about 2 tsp each, pressing firmly so the mixture stays together.

Place remaining cocoa on a shallow plate and roll each ball into the powder. (I skipped this step because I was tired and there's a hurricane coming).

ENJOY!!

Preparing for Impact



This Hurricane Sandy thing has me doing laps around the house.

This loss of control thing makes me uncomfortable. So I notice that. And I think, what can I learn from this?

What do I do to prepare for the impact of a storm like this?

What do I do to prepare for the impact of anything in my life---is it different?

What do you do?

From everything I've learned the past few years about fear, bracing against it--steeling yourself from a place of ego, doesn't lessen the impact. It doesn't make it hurt less. It doesn't reduce the damage--in fact, in many instances, it can increase it. My favorite spiritual teacher, Pema Chodron, shares this beautiful story where she talks about our many attempts to avoid pain by putting up walls. The more walls we put up, the more frightened we feel if they don't seem to be working--or if we feel like they won't. Instead of being present with the fear, pain, vulnerability, anxiety, powerlessness--we try to construct emotional and often physical walls to protect us. Instead of bringing us closer to healing and peace, they just isolate us even more because there we are, hidden behind something that doesn't make us feel more protected and calm. In many ways, in our attempts to be safer behind these walls, (defense mechanisms, boundaries, and habits) we end up creating the exact experience we didn't want: we become the target for the arrow.

Here were some things I saw myself and/or other people doing in anticipation of this impending storm and the comparisons I made to what we do in other situations where we feel scared, threatened or out of control.

Hoarding food
Making jokes to lighten the situation
Taking things personally
Making excuses
Procrastinating
Worrying (out loud and to self)
Lashing out/reacting
Blaming
Stockpiling
Eating when not hungry
Avoiding
Running away
Hiding
Speeding up
Working faster/harder/more
Rushing
Being in constant motion

this is my short list.

Here's a perfect example:

I had some chicken in the freezer that I bought on sale. I thought, hey, I better take that chicken out and cook it before the power goes out. I tried microwaving it while I was rushing around doing a few other things. I got impatient. I said, "I don't know how long this should take, it looks fine." Threw it in the oven. Fire alarm sounds. I check the chicken. Not cooked. I put it back in and turn up the temperature. "What temperature do I bake chicken at?" I have no idea. I check the updates about Hurricane Sandy's location. Text a few friends in NY/NJ. Smoke alarm sounds again.

are you feeling anxious? If you are, you get it. That's the energy I had when I was doing this.

See how my attempt to "prepare" wasn't making me feel any more relaxed, calm and prepared?

The chicken---we won't even go there.

I don't cook meat well because I took too many years away from it when I was a vegetarian. It stresses me out to prepare it so I am sticking to cooking some vegetables. That I know how to do. It's in my comfort zone.

Boil up some sweet potatoes and onions in some water and chicken broth, add some kale, spices and call it "Hurricane Sandy Stew".

And now I'm going to go meditate. I'll prepare for the impact by not doing one more damn thing to prepare for it.








October 26, 2012

The Skin Experiment



Look at that glowing, clear skin. Not one issue. But a week later, that was not the case.

Acne. 

It's something we all know. Some more than others. Puberty messed with most of us as teens, but for some, it lingers on into adulthood and can be a real, true bummer.

What causes it? We know the basic science behind oil production, the pores of our skin, etc., etc. 
But REALLY. What causes it? What makes it worse for some and not others? Is it genetic? Something we are predisposed to? Once it's here, does it stay forever?

Is there anything we can do on a daily basis to reduce the inflammation and the emotional and physical pain that often comes with it? 

I know this from personal experience because, while my skin wasn't too bad when I was a teenager, when I was 26, my skin broke out. Not like a little. A LOT. It was really bad, and it really messed with my self-esteem and self-confidence. At the time, someone in my life was attending the Professional Training Program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She met with me a couple of times and asked me some questions about my nutrition. I balked. "Please!" I said. "I'm a vegetarian."

You know what that meant? It meant I ate no meat and a ton of sugar and starchy foods. Yup! And canned Indian food (they make that). Eating no meat meant I didn't have a ton of energy (apparently my body likes and needs animal protein) so I pulled sugary foods into my body to make up for it.

There was also that self-love thing. That also made me eat a ton of sugar. I was grieving a break-up and just generally was learning how to love myself. I felt sad and lonely a lot, and sugar releases certain chemicals in the brain when you eat it. Dopamine is a "feel-good" neurotransmitter and, for a short while, can erase feelings of sadness and loneliness. It doesn't last, but the effects of excessive weight gain, skin issues and lethargy do.

I didn't love my life. I didn't love myself. I based my feelings of joy, happiness and self-worth on the actions and opinions of others. I thought that I needed a partner to be happy. I thought I needed a certain kind of job to be happy and worth something. All this thinking and stressing took a lot of time so naturally I didn't have time to cook. I actually had no idea how important this was to having healthy, glowing skin--free of acne.

So great! I overcame all that, enjoyed healthy glowing skin for YEARS and then, in the past few weeks, it began to come back. Only this time, for a completely different reason. I'm taking testosterone injections for my transition process to male. It's super cool in many ways. My voice is changing, my muscles are getting bigger with little to no work and I'm growing hair in new and interesting places. 

It can also cause breakouts on the face and back--I am going through puberty, after all. Remember that? Imagine going through it again as an adult. Acne was something I feared prior to taking my first shot but I was pretty sure my expertise as a health coach would minimize the "damage" I would experience.  Upon seeing things get a little dicey lately as the T levels rose and stabilized in my body, I got serious and followed my own best advice that I would give to someone else. It's helping. And I feel grateful for my past experience with this issue, and everything I've learned about what causes it and how to address it from my experience as a health coach.

TIPS FOR BETTER SKIN:

1) Don't Mess: Seriously. This is the #1 thing you can do to improve the condition of your skin. Messing with it is so tempting, I know. I KNOW! I get it, really I do. When my face was covered in a mess of painful bumps, I just wanted them to go away. I am totally convinced that messing with it prolongs it. Your fingers contain millions of bacteria and when you touch your face, especially a part that's already inflamed with infection, you are making a bad problem even worse. Keep your hands away, wash it and pat it dry and just ride it out. Yes, it looks bad and it sucks but messing with it makes it looks worse for longer. Which do you prefer? Also, avoid drying soaps. Your skin gets confused and only produces more oil as a result. Wash it with a gentle, mild cleanser with no perfumes or additives and then leave it. No touchie. That makes the biggest difference more than supposed hi-tech acne washes.

2) Drink Water: Your skin in our largest organ and we are something like 70% water, right? If you're dehydrated, all the stuff moving through your system stays stuck and doesn't move through--like a clogged pipe. It makes for a mess. Drink water. Think of it like cleaning your pipes out. Saturate your skin with plenty of fresh, clean water every single day--in addition to whatever else you're drinking. 

3) Avoid Sugar: Sugar causes inflammation in the body. We know this from science. You can Google it yourself and find out. Dr. Mark Hyman writes about this a lot. It's his thing. If you are already prone to experiencing inflammation in your body, sugar is going to exacerbate it. It also makes your liver work harder to process all that junk, and your liver produces all your hormones. Hormones create oil production. Oil production on your skin can lead to acne. See the connections here? Sugar alone won't cause acne but it certainly makes mine worse if I'm not eating plenty of fresh veggies to flush it all out. Notice the ratio of sugar and bread to vegetables in your diet. See what you notice.

4) Eat Your Greens: I can't tell you enough how much this is true for me. I got really serious this past week and was like, "ok, this needs to stop". I cooked up a bunch of raw greens one night and I'm totally serious when I tell you that my skin improved over night. It was awesome. Try this for a week and tell me what you notice.

5) Herbs Might Help: So, I don't know how you feel about taking herbs but I try it from time to time. Liquid version or powdered in a capsule, there are benefits to both. I threw back some milk thistle and dandelion because those help detox the liver. Did they make things better? Who knows for sure what did it, but taking these suckers certainly didn't make it worse. You can also just EAT dandelion but it tastes really bad (to me, anyway) so taking it in herbal form worked better for me*.

6) Other Blockages: Your skin can also be a barometer to measure other places in your life that are blocked or stagnant. Sleep? Stress? Emotions? Schedule? All these areas will screw with the ways things are or aren't flowing in your life. Get in touch with these other things, aside from your nutrition, that can use un-clogging. In the past, I certainly had a lot of pent-up anger and grief. Recently, that hasn't been an issue but the pace of my life/schedule was causing me to make not-so-great food choices. 

See all these connections? That's what holistic health is all about. The whole picture. 

Good luck with this. Please feel to weigh in below with your experiences. You can help others with tips or just by sharing how it affects you and if these tips help you or resonate with you.

*UPDATE! Some good friends recommended an herbal tea/concoction and I'm giving it a try. I will share my results in a follow-up post. Stay tuned!

October 16, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie






You saw the picture. You saw the word green in the title and you were like, "Dillan?"

Yep.

There's greens in here. Spinach, actually. Can't see it? Cool! Maybe, if you're afraid of greens, it will make you want to drink it. Or it will make your kids want to drink it.

I'm not usually all about "hiding" healthy food within food but if you gotta, ya gotta.

I do this demo for college audiences and they totally love it. I use it to show them how you can add greens to pretty much anything and completely take it from a guilty pleasure to a healthy nutritional snack.

Here you go!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie

2 Tbs. raw cacao powder
1 banana broken into chunks and frozen
1 tsp freshly ground peanut butter
2 big handfuls of raw baby spinach
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup ice

you can also add a protein powder of your choice: hemp, whey, pea, etc. I don't recommend soy.



Combine ingredients and blend.

Serve in a tall glass with a straw.

You will need a high-powered blender to get this blended together. I use a Vitamix. We saved a little and bought a refurbished one for about $379. It's one of the best investments I've made. We use it almost every day and you can even use it for soups and stews--not just cold drinks.


Sweet Goodness Bacon-y Stew*






For an evening of hosting some good pals, I pulled this recipe right from the No Fuss Cookbook off www.findyourbalancehealth.com

Super simple. Super tasty. Super packed with nutrients. Look at all those gorgeous herbs and spices!

Michelle, the creator of this recipe, adds bacon as an idea for folks who aren't vegetarians. The bacon was a definite addition in my kitchen.

Enjoy!


Sweet Goodness Bacon-y Stew*

2 Tbl. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 15-oz cans adzuki beans (or other small bean), drained and rinsed
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tso. cinnamon
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. salt
3 cups butternut squash, unpeeled and chopped
3 large sweet potatoes, chopped
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 cups frozen corn
1 cup kale, chopped
Optional topping for meat eaters: 1 lb. bacon, diced and cooked until crispy

Heat oil over medium heat, add onion and cook until softened. Add garlic and cook until lightly golden. Transfer to slow cooker.

Add all other ingredients to slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.
OR
Add squash and sweet potatoes to stock and bring to a boil in a large pot. Simmer until soft.
Add spices, beans and onion/garlic mixture. Simmer for 5-8 minutes.
Add corn and kale. Simmer until all ingredients are soft.


Serve in bowls. Optional: top with bacon.


October 9, 2012

3-Month Rockstar Reset


3-Month Rockstar Reset

We worked together in the past and you felt like everything came together. Sweet!

Maybe you were grooving along on your own, but recently you got off track. It's obvious to you and you don't like how it feels. You want my help getting back into the groove.

You know what's off. You know what you need to do but you just can't get the wheels to spin. Or maybe they are spinning too much and you're stuck right there. Feeling like crap.

You're a rockstar. You just need to hit the reset button. 

You know my style, you know how I roll. We skip the consult and just get right into it.

Let's do it!

HERE'S THE DEAL

One quick payment of $749 gets you 3 months of my coaching support. Paid in full means you get:

  • unlimited email support: Email me as much as you want. Seriously. 
  • six 50-minute sessions: Every other week? Ok. Something less regular? Whatever. You choose. You got the time booked so I'll make it work for you.
  • recipes galore: I cook. I share. You cook. You feel better. BINGO!
  • personalized program: whatever you need to get back on track, that's what you'll get. Name the areas that need the most work. That's what we will focus on.

YOUR NEXT STEP

Fill out this form below. As soon as I get it, I'll contact you and we can schedule your first session. You are this close to feeling better and getting back on track. The form take about 2 minutes to complete.

Ready? Set? GO!





Walking My Talk: Why I Became a Health Coach

Today I got to return to Lesley University as a guest lecturer in a class called a Holistic Approach to Healing.

I've spoken there many times over the past year but today was special.

It was my first time speaking there, in my new body. Two months post-surgery and a huge smile on my face, I greeted two back to back classes of 30+ students and shared my life story.

Piece of cake, right?

Actually, it is.

This is my chosen career- to be a motivational speaker. And I love every second of it.

Sharing my story is one small way I can honor everyone who helped me get here, and be a visible presence for anyone who needs a little inspiration. Or a lot of it.

My story is one of hope and resiliency. I never gave up on myself, no matter what struggles I came across. I just always knew I had to keep going and now I feel on top of the world.

Thank you for watching.


Coconut Curry Soup


Once upon a time, many years ago, in a far off land...

It wasn't that far. It was New Hope, PA.

And it was 2001.

There was a restaurant there called Wildflowers cafe (it still exists) and they had the most amazing Thai curry dish. It was my first experience with Thai food and my then girlfriend and I took many a trek over there to enjoy this incredible dish in the gorgeous space. Check it out if you're in the area, if it still exists!

I was feeling in the mood for this dish the other night and while I had no idea how they made it, I remembered the ingredients. I figured I would give it my best shot and you know what? It came out pretty good!

Being fearless has its benefits.

Coconut Curry Soup

two cans coconut milk
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 cups sliced snap peas or sugar snap peas
1/2 package of extra-firm organic tofu
2-3 Tbsp red curry paste (I recommend Thai Kitchen brand)
2 cups leftover brown rice-need help cooking brown rice? Click here

salt to taste



Bring 3 cups of water and the potatoes to a boil.

Put coconut milk in a medium pot over low heat and simmer. Add curry paste and stir. Add 1/2 cup water.

When the potatoes are soft but not falling apart, strain and add to coconut milk. Add snow peas and simmer over very low heat until pea pods are soft.

Slice tofu into triangles and add to pot, heat for another 2 minutes.

Serve over warmed brown rice in a small bowl with a big spoon!

October 2, 2012

My Guest Appearance on Two Fags and a Hag

A couple of weeks ago, I made my second guest appearance on the fabulous blogtalkradio show "Two Fags and a Hag".

These truly incredible folks invited me on for a second time to talk a bit about my experience as a trans guy and to shed some light on this topic of trans identity. A lot of people don't get trans stuff, even in the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, genderqueer/questioning) world, which made this invitation to talk about it to an LGBTQ audience that much cooler to accept.

AND there is the fact that the four of us have incredible chemistry and we could talk for hours.

Got questions? We cover some of the basics, but barely scratched the surface...

Click on the Two Fags and a Hag logo below
to listen to the show:



I always have such a great time on this show. If you want to have some fun, check out my first guest appearance (A HEALTHY FAG IS HAPPY FAG) on May 25th, 2012. I'm "pre-T" (before I started taking testosterone). Check out my voice!!


White Bean, Kale and Sweet Potato Soup




Protein, greens and sweetness! This soup recipe has it all.

As we head into cooler weather, the season is bringing us all the harvest-y goodness of squashes and root veggies. These go great in soups--and did you know about the food energetics theory?

Basically it works like this--foods have different energetic qualities.
  • Walnuts are good for your brains (those healthy fats in them) and they look JUST LIKE brains, too! 
  • Root veggies grow in the ground and can "ground" you when you're feeling all over the place.
  • Greens can be uplifting, since they grow closest to the sky!
Get it?

It's a pretty cool way of thinking about what you're eating and why.

So here's a great soup I just made up the other day. Rummaging through the cabinets, I tossed this together. It has beans for high quality protein, greens because I want a clean colon and good skin and sweet potatoes to help keep my sugar cravings down (they are naturally sweet). Chicken broth makes this light soup have a richer flavor, but if you're a vegetarian--veggie broth works just as well!

Enjoy!

White Bean, Kale and Sweet Potato Soup

you need:

3 15 oz cans of white beans (cannellini, white kidney, etc.), drained
3 large sweet potatoes, cubed
6-8 large kale leaves, stemmed and chopped
1 large white sweet onion
2 garlic cloves
1 container chicken (or veggie) broth
2 cups water
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp dried oregano


In a large, deep pot bring chopped sweet potatoes to a boil in 2 cups water. Keep them rolling until they are soft when poked with a fork. Add broth and simmer.

As potatoes are boiling, saute onions in butter over med-high heat in a pan until everything is soft and golden.


Add onion/garlic mixture to sweet potatoes in pot and 1 can of beans. Use an immersion blender to gently blend everything together. It will be hot so BE CAREFUL!


After blending, add the remaining cans of beans and the chopped kale and oregano. Simmer over very low heat for 5-8 mins to wilt the kale.


Add salt and pepper to taste, serve with toasted multigrain bread and tasty drink of choice!

September 26, 2012

Dropping the Storyline-Dillan Heads Home

Last weekend, I traveled home to New Jersey (where I was born and raised) for my elementary school reunion.

Here are my reflections before I went:



And here's what happened at the reunion:


September 24, 2012

Balance Makes It Better: a workshop for LGBTQ folks



Balance Makes It Better: a holistic health workshop for LGBTQ folks

Where: The Meeting Point  3464 Washington Ave, Jamaica Plain, MA
When: TUESDAY, 10/23/12, 6:30-8:30 pm
Cost: $20*



You've heard the phrase "everything in moderation"? 

It applies to every aspect of your life--your food, friends, family, exercise and career. Balance actually makes everything BETTER.

I created this workshop specifically for the LGBTQ community (and those who support them) and the unique questions and concerns that we face in finding peace, health and happiness just waking up and walking around in our lives each day. It sure ain't easy, but with the right attitude and some practical skills, it can be better.

Bring your questions and an open mind to this workshop that will address:

  • cravings of all kinds: where do they come from and what can you do about them?
  • body image truths and realities
  • friends and food: did you know they were connected?
  • work/life balance: it IS possible

As part of this workshop, you will leave with:
  • simple recipes to eat more balanced meals
  • tips for staying cool and balanced when you're feeling angry, sad or frustrated
  • tricks for balancing your sleep schedule
  • info on how sugar might be messing with you more than you know 
In addition to these resources to take away and keep forever, you'll get to hang out with me and a whole crowd of folks who "get it". Whether you share your experience or listen in silence,  you will be a valuable part of a life-changing evening. Bring your open mind, and open heart and the willingness to find more balance. This workshop is specifically for LGBTQ folks, but all are welcome to attend, share and learn.








Questions? Email me at:  dillan@savoryourexistence.com

 SEE YOU THERE!

*registration is $20 and there's a special student rate. You can also donate for an additional registration which covers the fees for folks who aren't able to pay.

Dillan Hits the Hometown(s)

September 17, 2012

Kale Isn't Scary




Veggie Curry Quinoa with Nuts (optional)



Getting my cooking legs back under me after 6 weeks of recovery time from surgery. Did I already tell you how hard it was to not cook for myself for all that time?

There's a whole other post about that one...

But last week, I found myself with a cup of quinoa, some zucchini and some other stuff. I trusted my gut that I could make something healthy and delicious, as long as I took the inner critic out of the situation.

You know the one I'm talking about? The one who says, "oh, that won't be good enough. It's not pretty. It's not from a recipe."

Screw that. As long as it has a lot of veggies, some healthy fats, I'm good to go. Some spices tossed in? Great. Other fun stuff for texture and crunch? Also good.

Here's what happened that day. Give this a try to start flexing your fearless muscles in the kitchen. You really have nothing to lose at all...

Veggie Curry Quinoa with Nuts*

1 cup raw quinoa
1 large zucchini, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts and/or cashews, chopped
1/2 cup raisins

4 scallions (green onions) diced
1/2 cup shredded carrots
2 tsp curry powder
dash of cinnamon
dash of salt
2 Tbsp coconut oil


Rinse your quinoa before you start cooking it. It helps remove this little film around it that can sometimes make a weird soapy taste. Rinse it in a fine mesh colander (strainer) a few times. Once rinsed, add it to a medium-sized pot with about 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the quinoa is fluffy and popped open. You will see little tiny bits of quinoa around the pot, like little worms--that's ok. It's just the outer covering of the grain.

Once that's cooked, set it aside to cool.

Prep your other ingredients.

Combine everything into a large bowl, stirring well.

You can eat this warmed or cool, over spinach like in the photo above. It was GREAT!

*allergic to nuts? Leave them out.

September 11, 2012

Homemade Chai (courtesy of the Chai Wallah)


I can't lie. The "homemade" here is this guy's incredible chai mix:

Click on smiling Neil to buy his blend

And I used his recipe:

bring to a boil 1/2 cup each of water and milk of choice (I like almond milk)
1 tsp chai mix
1 1/4-1 1/2 tsp of sugar or honey

simmer 2 mins



strain into your favorite mug & ENJOY!!!

Cookin' with Collards


Are you afraid of cooking and eating collards? Well, I was.

It's funny that I wasn't afraid of drinking Starbucks Frappucinos or eating Twinkies or Burger King chicken sandwiches. Now THOSE are foods to be afraid of. What the F is even in that stuff?

Scary.

Cooking and eating collards? This is nothing to fear, compared to processed chemicals and the like. Collards are just pure, awesome plant-y goodness.

Here's why greens rock:

Sinuses going crazy from allergies right now? Guess what, greens help cleanse all that junk out of your respiratory system.

 Collards are jam-packed full of vitamins (if you really need to know the list you can Google it) and there's always that awesome plant-based fiber. Having trouble in the bathroom? You might need more fiber. Got some acne issues? Fiber helps with that, too.

You just need a simple recipe to get these nutrient-dense greens in your bod with little to no effort.

Here is a simple, very basic recipe I made up. Many on the internet called for ingredients I either didn't have or didn't want to use, but you should experiment to find which things you like with your collards.

COLLARDS with a KICK

INGREDIENTS:

2 Tbsp butter
1 large bunch fresh organic collard leaves (off the stem)
1 cup free-range chicken broth (free-range means the chicks got to hang and have fun on the farm)
1 tsp hot pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

1) melt the butter in a shallow saute pan or skillet over low heat
2) while that's happening, get the collard leaves prepped

Here's how you get the collards off the stem:
video


once you have the leaves off the stem, lay them flat on top of each other. Make a neat, little pile. Then roll 'em up and slice them like pinwheels!! (watch those fingers)


video

3) once you got those guys sliced up, toss them in a skillet or pan with the melted butter and add the chicken stock. Add the hot pepper flakes after about 10 minutes.

4) simmer over med heat for 20 minutes, check on them. If they are a darker green and soft, they are done.

5) sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, serve with homemade bbq chicken and homemade mashed potatoes.  HECK YEAH, COWBOY!!





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