Finding Gratitude

Finding Gratitude

***The following is reprinted from the monthly column I write for San Pedro Today (November 2015 issue).***

The first course I ever took as an undergraduate at UC Santa Barbara was a Black Studies Special Topics course. I sat in the classroom on my first day, anxiously waiting for the professor to arrive. I imagined he or she would be larger than life, a tweed-clad collegiate caricature, perhaps: inspirational, captivating, and dynamic, for sure.

And then the professor entered. He slowly made his way into the room propped up by a walking cane, dragging one leg behind the other. With slurred speech, he immediately explained to us that he had suffered a stroke which had left him paralyzed on one side of his body.

Turns out, this wasn’t his only hardship in life. Years prior, he had been exiled from his native country of Ghana for speaking up against the government. He eventually sought residence in the U.S. and became a college professor, where he would teach courses about various economic and political systems. Among his rather leftist ideologies, he often preached about the “evils” of capitalism, and although I didn’t agree with everything he had to say, he certainly opened my mind to understanding different world views.

Because of our professor’s disability, he asked that a student assist him to his car after each class. We took turns escorting him, and it was my turn the day before we left for Thanksgiving break. As I saw him off, I wished him a “Happy Thanksgiving,” expecting to receive a similar salutation in return. Instead, he slowly turned to me and said, “Look at me. What do I have to be thankful for?”


A Paleo Thanksgiving: 20 Healthy and Delicious Recipes

A Paleo Thanksgiving, 20 Healthy and Delicious Recipes

With Thanksgiving being right around the corner, I’ve had my eye on these healthy and delicious Paleo recipes. This list covers everything from turkey and gravy to sides and desserts (and my stomach is growling just looking at it). What fun and healthy recipes are you planning to incorporate into your Thanksgiving celebration?

And now, on to the list!


Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, Nut-Free
Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, Nut-Free
Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, Nut-Free

***I'm so excited that this recipe for my Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies is featured in Paleo Magazine's 2015 Reader's Favorite Holiday Cookbook! The cookbook features a total of 75 mouth-watering, holiday-inspired recipes from your favorite Paleo food bloggers and cookbook authors (and the photos are gorgeous, by the way). It would make a great gift for your loved ones, or simply a treat for yourself if you're looking for healthy and delicious recipe ideas for the holidays! You can find the cookbook here.***

’Tis the season for all-things-pumpkin! When creating my Paleo pumpkin bread, I realized that I needed a fun way to use the leftover pureed pumpkin and not let it go to waste. These Paleo pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are a great way to do that.

These cookies are grain-free, nut-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free, plus they’re easy to make and delicious! They are sure to be a festive treat for everyone in the family anytime during the holiday season.


5 Things I’m Digging This Week (11-15)

5 Things I’m Digging This Week

Happy November! This week was a busy one. I really wanted to work on some new recipe ideas, but between several appointments and dealing with some concerning health issues (my eczema has come back with a vengeance, and I’m not happy about it), I didn’t get to spend time very much time in the kitchen. There’s always next week, right? I’m hoping to share some new recipes with you soon. In the meanwhile, here are some things I’m digging this week:

1. I love this idea from A Beautiful Mess about hosting a “Friendsgiving” celebration every November. While Thanksgiving is a wonderful day to spend with family, why not also set aside another day to celebrate with close friends? The team at A Beautiful Mess (one of my favorite blogs) started this tradition several years ago and have made it an annual event, and it’s always fun to see what they put together each year.

2. You can't judge a book by its cover. I’ve shared my own take on living with an invisible illness, but this story — about a man who “looks fine” on the outside but suffers from debilitating Crohn’s disease (that has led to over 80 surgeries and has left him with “invisible” disabilities) — exemplifies how severe the misconception can be. A must-read for everyone!


Paleo Pumpkin Bread (Nut-Free)

Paleo Pumpkin Bread, Nut-Free
Paleo Pumpkin Bread, Nut-Free
Paleo Pumpkin Bread, Nut-Free
Paleo Pumpkin Bread, Nut-Free

***I've made a couple tweaks to this recipe for my Paleo pumpkin bread (originally published in September 2014), so with pumpkin season in full swing, I couldn't think of a more perfect time to share the new and improved version.***

I love autumn. I get giddy when I think about the change to cooler weather, the scent of apples and cinnamon drifting from a warm oven and the excitement of the holidays approaching. It’s pumpkin season, so I’ve been eager to get into the kitchen and have fun with all the fall recipes that celebrate this time of year. The only problem is I haven’t exactly been inspired by the 80 to 90 degree weather that we’ve been experiencing here in southern California. Sweltering heat doesn’t exactly make it easy to get into the autumn spirit, so I’ve been a bit behind in joining the pumpkin frenzy that seems to be going around lately. But I can’t hold off any longer, because if anything can make me feel like autumn has officially begun, it’s this pumpkin bread.


13 Healthier Halloween Treat Alternatives

13 Healthier Halloween Treat Alternatives

Trick or treat, healthy and sweet?

I know, I know, it seems contradictory to use the word “healthy” anywhere near the one holiday that probably celebrates candy and sugar more than any other day of the year. But for kids with food allergies, having to miss out on traditional Halloween festivities is simply no fun. So for anyone with food intolerances and sensitivities, or those following specific lifestyle diets (such as Paleo or vegan), getting to enjoy Halloween treats often means having to find alternatives to conventional candy.

There are also environmental and ethical reasons why consumers are looking for alternatives, such as avoiding the use of unsustainably-sourced palm oil found in some conventional candies (if not harvested sustainably, palm oil production causes deforestation and threatens the orangutan population) and supporting fair-trade labor instead of the child and slave labor associated with conventional cocoa (chocolate) harvesting.

So I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite healthier and/or more ethical Halloween treat alternatives. All of the following treats are gluten-free, grain-free, and soy-free, plus most are free of refined sugar, GMOs, and artificial colors. Divided into two parts, section one focuses on commercial candy and other options for trick-or-treaters, while section two features wholesome, real-food make-at-home recipes.

Happy Halloween!


20 Inspirational Quotes about Strength, Resilience, and Faith

20 Inspirational Quotes about Strength, Resilience, and Faith

I’m so late in getting this post up! What can I say? Last week was just one of those weeks. It seemed to be a stressful and trying several days not just for myself, but also for a lot of people I know. I suppose that makes it an extra good time to share some of my favorite inspirational quotes about strength, resilience, and faith. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been able to find these little bits of encouragement rather useful lately. If you feel like you’re hitting a metaphorical wall, you just might find something useful here, too:

1. “You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it.” -Unknown

2. “When I’m worried and cannot sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep.” -Bing Crosby

3. “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” -C.S. Lewis

4. “Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.” -Margaret Shepard

5. “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” -Og Mandino

6. “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” -Mexican proverb (adapted from poet Dinos Christianopoulos)

7. “Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.” -Walt Whitman

8. “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

9. “Tears are often the telescope by which men see far into heaven.” -Henry Ward Beecher

10. “We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” -Carlos Castaneda

11. “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” -Khalil Gibran

12. “There are dark shadows on earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.” -Charles Dickens

13. “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” -Ernest Hemingway

14. “When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” -Peter Marshall

15. “Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.” -Helen Keller

16. “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” -C.G. Jung

17. “Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it by the handle of anxiety, or by the handle of faith.” -Author Unknown

18. “When walking through the 'valley of shadows,' remember, a shadow is cast by a Light.” -Austin O’Malley

19. “Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.” -Rabindranath Tagore

20. “I’m thankful for my struggle because without it I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength.” -Alex Elle