Trading cake for kale salad with roasted walnut dressing

We have been doing a lot of celebrating at our house. From the holidays straight into some family festivities, including an anniversary and a birthday. Much cake has been consumed. Like a lot of cake. I cannot resist cake. Can. Not.

At times like this I start to get a little antsy in the back of my mind. I start making lists titled "Back on Track" and "Goals for Next Week" just to gain some semblance of control and to steer us back to our healthy routine. The lists themselves get me nowhere, really, but the brainstorming process of this does bring focus to what I need to do to get it together.

Back on Track List
To me, living a healthy and balanced life is rooted in being well fed. By fed, though, I don't just mean with food. I've broken this list down into three areas that I feel I need to focus on to get back to where I need to be: eat, move, and breathe. 

1. Eat
Stop eating cake. Instead, focus on getting lots of protein, omega 3s (flax, hemp, and chia seeds), and nutrient-rich foods. Have a green juice or smoothie and a big salad every day. Prep and bag fruits and veggies for homemade juices. Plan all dinners for the week and stock up on healthy snacks. Try new recipes with inspiration from Pinterest. Drink more water and less coffee.

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Fruits and veggies to be juiced this week.
Recent and planned dinners at our house:
  • Roasted delicata squash and kale salad (with Rancho Gordo beans and a grain of some kind on the side).
  • Brown rice bowl with stir fried veggies and tofu (recipe coming soon- this is a great one!).
  • Veggie burgers (try these) and sweet potato oven fries.
  • Whole wheat spaghetti with garlic, lemon, parsley, shallots, and greens.
  • Open-face veggie sandwiches (inspired by Pinterest) and Gardein "buffalo wings".
  • Kale salad with apples, walnuts, and a light walnut oil dressing (recipe below).
2. Move
Plan my workouts for the week so I know where I need to shuffle things to fit them in. Make sure to include as much yoga as possible. Soak up my favorite things about each activity- like the sunrise during my morning runs.

3. Breathe
Keep my journal close for emptying my brain when I need to. Get some sun. Find warmth and comfort with yoga, a massage, a hot bath, etc. Consult my "Bag of Tricks" to stay in balance.
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    Kale Salad with Roasted Walnut Dressing
    Serves 3-4
    • 1 bunch of kale (curly or lacinato), washed and chopped with large stalks removed
    • 1 apple, chopped
    • 1/3 cup lightly toasted walnuts, chopped (Toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat. Please watch them closely, they burn quickly!)
    • 1/4 cup golden raisins
    • 2-3 tablespoons rice or apple cider vinegar
    • 2-3 tablespoons roasted walnut oil
    • 2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    1. Combine vinegar, walnut oil, honey (or agave), and salt and pepper in a small bowl and mix well.
    2. Combine kale, apples, walnuts, and raisins in a bowl. Pour dressing over the top, mix well, and serve.
    Tip: If you prefer extra tender kale, massage the dressing into the kale with your hands for a couple of minutes before adding the walnuts, apples, and raisins.



    The beach in my pocket

    My six year old loves to do art projects. He uses markers and scissors and glue to create custom "surprises" for family and friends. He would rather do this than just about anything else.

    The other day he asked me, "Mommy, what do you like?" I told him that I like lots of things like hiking and flowers and the beach.

    A little while later he brought me a tiny package, about the size of a kidney bean, and said, "this is a surprise for you! Open it!"

    I carefully opened the wrapping paper that he made from white paper and glue. Inside I found this:

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    He said that it was the beach and he wanted to give it to me because he knew that I liked it. He gave me the beach! The beach!

    Really, this is just a tiny piece of paper with a bit of marker doodle on it but, to me, it is so much more than that. I know the love that went into the idea and creation of it. I know that his giving me this gift was his way of giving me the feeling that he gets when he receives a "surprise" from us. Mommy tears. Love this kid!
    "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Get Natured sightings

    Here are two recent sightings of Get Natured out in the wild!

    Freeplay is a new local magazine for female endurance athletes in my city. I wrote the article entitled "Healthy Snacking 101" on page 10. You can read it here (flip to page 10 by using the right arrow)!

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    Also, my article "Running lessons" was featured on the Top 9 for the dailybuzz healthy LIVING site, here. Woohoo!

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    Spiced scratchy throat elixir

    My sinuses are irritated and my throat is scratchy. I'm not full-blown sick, just a little off of normal and feeling tired. I did get my run in this morning, though, and that takes care of half of the problem. The half that turns me inside out and upside down when the mornings are dark and the grass is frosted over. When I run, I get into my groove by the middle of the first song on my playlist and then I'm on my way to feeling a billion times better than when I woke up.

    After lunch I took the kids out for a little exploring in our neighborhood. The weather has been amazing here, with temperatures in the 60s, and we've been outside a lot for January. While I'm walking I breathe in the warm air trying to sense every detail of its layers. Earth. Grass. Leaves. Wet mossy rocks. Skunk. Yes, skunk.

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    The comfort of a little sunshine and fresh air, splashes of rocks in the creek, and golden light highlighting moments framed by tree boughs helps a lot. Then a warm drink, a little quiet, and finally a soft blanket will help to ease the rest. Exploring, nourishing, and soaking in.

    This little drink that I threw together is so warming and felt good on my scratchy throat. It is definitely a repeater!

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    Spiced Scratchy Throat Elixer
    • Whole spices of choice (I used 1 cinnamon stick, 3 green cardamom pods, and 3 cloves)
    • 1 1/2 cups of water
    • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
    • Dash of cayenne pepper
    • Honey or agave nectar, to taste (about 1 tablespoon)
    1. Heat the water and the whole spices to a simmer in a small pot and cook for about 10 minutes. Note: You can also toast the spices a bit in a dry pan before adding the water, but it isn't necessary.
    2. Juice 1/2 of a lemon into a mug then add a dash of cayenne, and honey (or agave) to taste. Strain and pour the water into the mug and stir well.

    Word for 2012: Explore

    In the crazy sneaky way that it does, the new year has arrived. The holiday rush is over and we are getting reorganized and settling back into a routine that requires alarm clocks and rushed breakfasts. I am optimistic about 2012, though. I can't resist the feeling of a fresh start and the temptation to plan. I used to wonder if there was a point to all of my planning but now I know that I get a lot more out of it than it would seem. All of the dreaming and scheming puts me into a helpful frame of mind. A place from which to launch expeditions fueled by the momentum of a new beginning.

    Lately I have been pondering the direction of this blog. It started as a venture in healthy living. It has evolved much more in the direction of a food blog than I originally imagined. I love food, obviously, and I love sharing my ideas and recipes too. I don't really see myself as someone who writes cookbooks, though. I am more interested in exercising my creative (and writing) muscles in other ways.

    I do have some thoughts on subject matter that I would like to share over the course of this year. The introduction of new topics, expanding on subjects that I've touched on already, and inspired food ideas. Mostly I want to EXPLORE, here and in my life. To have as many new experiences and adventures as possible. To learn continually, especially about things for which my interest takes me by surprise. I want to continue my pursuit of building a life of too-good-to-be-trues. I want to do what I love often. I want to follow my heart into new and exciting things and to live a good story. I want to share beauty, creativity, adventure, inspiration, and connection.

    I was crazy-inspired to "live a better story" after reading Donald Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. This is a fantastic read!



    These two books (The Rhythm of Family and The Creative Family both by Amanda Blake Soule) are on my nightstand now and I'm loving them both. The idea of home being a place of creativity is so great and I love the ideas that I'm finding here.





    Like this "sun catcher" that the boys and I made out of ice using "interesting things" that we gathered on a neighborhood walk. Love.

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    What is your word for 2012?