Jamaica Wellness Retreat Recap

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You may recall that I went to Jamaica last month for a wellness retreat with Synchronicity Wellness and ePhysiologix. I was fortunate to have won the retreat, which was truly meant to be. The retreat was called, “Optimizing Your Awesomeness,” and took place at an all-inclusive resort called, the Grand Lido in Negril, Jamaica for 4 nights and 5 days. I felt very blessed to be given this opportunity and it still blows my mind when I think about it. I was able to take Jesse with me as well and we both had a wonderful time. We met a group of amazing like-minded people, learned some valuable things, got plenty of R&R and enjoyed visiting a new place. It was transformative, introspective and an experience to remember. The retreat was led by Dr. Dan Stickler, Dr. Mickra Hamilton, Dr. Warren Walsh and Kim Smith. Below is a group shot of all of us  striking our, “power pose.”

Jamaica power pose

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Some of the topics covered during presentations and discussions included stress, sleep, heart rate variability (HRV), strategic eating, nutrition and food intolerances, breathing and meditation, fitness, living optimally and more. Each morning started with yoga and meditation outdoors, which was led by the lovely, Kim of the PaleoYogaMom. After yoga, some of us weight trained in the resort gym and then, we normally ate breakfast together. Lectures started shortly after and lasted a few hours. The rest of the day was ours to do as we pleased, but most of us all hung out together on the beach during the day.

Oh, one day it started pouring in the afternoon (literally buckets of rain!), so we had a dance party and played a classic Jamaican game (see next two pics):

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Jamaica dudes

If you’re curious, it was not hard to eat paleo on this trip at all. Breakfast and lunch was always a huge buffet, and dinner was at our choice of on-site resort restaurants (they were very accommodating with substitutions and dietary needs). One of the nights, there was a giant dinner buffet though, which had so many great foods to choose from (fresh fish steamed in coconut milk was my favorite that night). My breakfast of choice was always bacon, eggs made to order (which they’d cook in butter for me), steamed greens (which I’d put butter on) and black coffee. Lunch was usually more steamed veggies, curry or stew of some sort (one day was even goat, which I tried for the first time and enjoyed), fresh fish and maybe a little salad with olive oil. Most of my dinners were fresh fish (often snapper) with veggies, but I did have a delicious beef filet one night as well.

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Anyway, here are some interesting points or things to think about that I took away from the retreat:

  • Humans are the only beings that can think themselves into stress.
  • About 90 percent of physician visits are stress related.
  • With stress, you have to treat the brain, not the adrenals (the brain sends the signals).
  • Constant chronic stress has you constantly on guard, ready to jump.
  • 20 minutes of meditation is equal to 2 hours of sleep on the body.
  • The time of your sleep is crucial. Going to bed from 12-8 is not the same (quality-wise) as 10-6. This is because our circadian rhythm is most active from sunset to sunrise.
  • You need 8 REM cycles for adequate sleep each night. To get all 8 REM cycles every night, you need 7.5 hours of sleep minimum. Only about 1 percent of the population is efficient and needs less.
  • Memories make life epic, not material things!
  • Happiness is a choice; only YOU can make YOU happy.
  • Lucky people will pick up on opportunities or details that other people miss or overlook.
  • Practice more autotelic living. In other words, do something solely for the purpose of doing it and not for its goals or consequences. Pay attention to an activity for its own sake. This is the idea of getting into a flow state.
  • Keys to balance are: 1. Sleep, 2. Stress management, 3. Sound nutrition and 4. Smart exercise. It is imperative to keep it in this order!
  • Nutrigenomics is the combination of food, environment, genetics and epigenetics.
  • 95 percent of us is subconscious. We use only 5 percent of our brain.
  • We are conditioned by our experiences. We have a love lens and a fear lens.
  • You can un-pattern your conditioned responses via breath-work and meditation.
  • To change our lives, we must change the way we think, feel and behave. Break up your habits, take another route, do things differently. You can’t change anything by fighting what exists.
  • Use your breath to get out of an unhealthy reaction or situation (excuse yourself for a few minutes if you need to). In doing so, you’ll realize there’s never really a need for conflict.
  • 70 percent of people live in the past. Come back to the present! There’s also no need to stew about the future. The present is all you have and there is no stress if you’re in the present moment.
  • Ask fear why it’s there. Move from illusion to truth.

The ePhysiologix and Synchronicity Wellness team is leading another retreat in May 2015, which will take place in Sedona, Arizona. Jesse and I are hoping to go, but can’t commit financially at this point. If you’re interested in attending, please check out this link for more details. I guarantee it will be epic! Plus, I’ve heard Sedona is pretty magical.

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Pumpkin Spice Granola

Pumpkin spice granola

I’ve still been on a kick of making homemade granola and decided it was time for a fall-inspired variety. After all, tis the season for pumpkin spice, right? It makes the house smell so cozy and warm too. It’s actually the first time I’ve used pumpkin seeds in homemade granola and I must say, I really like it. The addition of the almond butter adds a nice coating on the coconut flakes, especially if you use a grittier, freshly ground almond butter, but any kind will work. In this case, I used freshly ground almond butter from the store.

Meanwhile, I still plan on filling you all in on my Jamaica experience sometime soon. I’ve been a little distracted though because last Thursday, we got a new 5-month old kitten! Jesse and I both felt ready after the loss of Mila and found a kitten on Craigslist that urgently needed a new home. Long story short, she was in a home going through a domestic violence divorce. We stepped in and rescued her, and named her Frankie. Here’s a picture of our sweet girl:

Frankie, our new kitty

Ingredients:

  • 6-7 cups unsweetened coconut flakes 
  • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas) 
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1-2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract (I like this brand)
  • 4 Tbsp unsweetened almond butter (melt slightly if it’s really stiff)
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dried currants

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Pour the coconut chips and pumpkin seeds on a large baking sheet.
  3. In a small bowl, gently whisk together the coconut oil, vanilla, raw honey, sea salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Once blended, whisk in the almond butter until smooth.
  4. Pour coconut oil mixture over the coconut flakes and pumpkin seeds, stirring well to coat. Spread out evenly on the baking pan and then place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the granola after the 15 minutes and stir. Place back in oven for 10-15 more minutes or until all the granola is golden brown.
  6. Let cool almost completely and then stir in the currants.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Fast

Ginger Pulled Pork and Veggies

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Well, I’m back from an amazing trip in Jamaica! Jesse and I had a wonderful time, met some great people and enjoyed lots of R & R. I will be sharing a little bit more about the experience soon.

Meanwhile, this pork…oh my gosh, this pork! I can’t even put into words how delicious this turned out. The picture doesn’t do it justice one bit (thank you Portland rain and gray skies for the darkened quality), but the flavor is truly impeccable. I strongly encourage you all to try this recipe. It will not disappoint.

I recommend eating the meat on top of steamed greens and topping with avocado slices. If you have cilantro on hand, throw that on top too!

Cheers and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • ~2.5 lb boneless pork loin roast
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red chili pepper, chopped (keep or remove seeds as you like)
  • 1/2 cup chicken bone broth, preferably homemade or water
  • 1 heaping Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Heaping 1/4 tsp dried mustard
  • 3 large carrots, sliced into large pieces
  • 1/2 large head red cabbage, chopped

Directions:

  1. Generously sprinkle pork roast with sea salt and pepper. Place in a hot skillet over medium to medium-high heat and brown for 4 minutes each side (add a little coconut oil, if needed as well). Once done, place the roast in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. In the same skillet over medium heat, add the coconut oil. Once melted, add the onion, garlic, ginger and chili pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes and then add the broth or water, and tomato paste. Scrape up the brown bits from the roast and continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the onion mixture to the slow cooker, along with the sliced carrots. Pour in the coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar and sprinkle in the mustard powder. Then, add the chopped cabbage and season to taste with sea salt and pepper.
  4. Place slow cooker on low and cook for 7-8 hours or cook on high for 5-6.
  5. Once done, shred the pork roast with two forks or tongs and serve.

Spicy Sardine Scramble

Spicy Sardine Scramble

It’s only as of recent that I tried sardines for the first time and realized that I like the little suckers. I bought a tin of them a while back and had it in the cupboard for months before I decided to crack it open. I was kinda scared, but finally went for it. Since then, I’ve had sardines a couple more times and still much prefer to eat them in scrambles, as it mellows out some of the strong flavor. I can handle small amounts straight up with pickled veggies, but can’t finish off a whole tin like I can here.

Meanwhile, to fill you all in on what I’ve been up to — I just recently got back from a trip home to Michigan. It was a fun and eventful trip filled with my cousin’s wedding, time on the lake, lots of family time, reunions with friends, good food and relaxation. Now, in about a week, I’ll be heading to Jamaica with Jesse for 4 nights! I won a wellness retreat with ePhysiologix and get to stay at a topnotch all-inclusive resort in Negril, attend workshops, enjoy leisure time and network with other like-minded folks. It should be great and Jesse and I are stoked! We’ve never been to Jamaica before and Jesse’s never even been out of the country, except for Canada. We leave on a redeye a week from tomorrow!

Cheers!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can sardines in olive oil with lemon (I like this brand)
  • 2 pasture-raised eggs, whisked
  • 1/2 Tbsp grass-fed ghee or butter
  • 1 cup broccoli slaw
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Chili powder to taste
  • Chipotle powder to taste
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Drizzle of Tessemae’s All Natural Lemon Chesapeake, optional

Directions:

  1. Melt ghee or butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the broccoli slaw and season to taste with sea salt and pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, place sardines in a medium-sized bowl and mash with a fork (discard leftover oil in tin). Whisk in the eggs and add the cumin, chili powder, chipotle powder, sea salt and pepper.
  3. Once the slaw is softened a bit, add the sardine/egg mixture. Stir with a spatula to mix everything together.
  4. Continue to cook over medium or medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until scramble is cooked through.
  5. Remove from heat and drizzle Tessemae’s All Natural Lemon Chesapeake on top, if using.

Yields: 1 serving

Spicy Sardine Scramble

How I Take My Bulletproof®

Bulletproof® Coffee

I’m sure most of you are familiar with Bulletproof® Coffee by now. You may not have tried it, but I’m sure you’ve at least heard of it. If you haven’t given it a shot yet, I highly recommend it. Honestly, there’s nothing that really compares. It’s just plain incredible and satisfying, and has become a regular part of my morning. Sometimes, I just do Bulletproof® Coffee to get my day started and other times, I have it with a few pieces of bacon or breakfast sausage. It is perfect and I look forward to it every day. I even get excited to go to bed at night, so I can wake up and drink butter coffee!

For those of you turning your nose up at the idea, I recommend giving it a try before making up your mind. Plus, do you (or did you used to) add cream to your coffee? Well, remember that butter is just cream that’s been churned anyway. If you do decide to try it, just make sure you BLEND it and don’t try to whisk it instead. Blending is key, otherwise you’re left with an oil slick on top of the cup and no foam. It is not the same! For more info about this great coffee, check out the Bulletproof® website to learn more.

Meanwhile, here’s how I take my Bulletproof® Coffee:

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 – 2 cups hot, good-quality coffee (I use homemade cold brew concentrate mixed w/ water & heated on the stove)
  • 1 Tbsp grass-fed gelatin powder (I use this kind, which doesn’t gel)
  • *1 Tbsp unsalted grass-fed butter
  • *1 Tbsp MCT oil (start w/ 1 tsp if it’s new to you & work your way up to 1 Tbsp)
  • Splash of full-fat coconut milk  

*Note: you can also use ghee in place of butter and coconut oil in place of MCT oil

Directions:

  1. Place butter, MCT oil, coconut milk and gelatin powder in bottom of blender (make sure your blender can tolerate hot liquids. I use this high-powered blender.).
  2. Add hot coffee and place lid on blender container. Blend on high for 20-30 seconds.
  3. Pour into large mug and enjoy. (Note: foam mustaches are not uncommon when drinking).

Yields: 1 serving

Bulletproof® Coffee

Figgy Coconut Granola

Figgy coconut granola

We recently started making granola again at home, per Jesse’s request. We made it a couple weeks ago or I guess I should say he did — he wanted to do it on his own. He picked out what he wanted at the store and then followed the gist of one of my other granola recipes. I admit that I was there helping a little though. He made it all by himself, but I just gave him a few helpful tips and made sure he knew what he was doing and where to find stuff (that he doesn’t normally use). Anyway, he did a great job and his granola turned out delicious. This is not that recipe, but rather, another variation we came up with together over the weekend. It’s toasty, a little salty, spiced, crunchy, coconutty and slightly sweet. It’s perfect and a fantastic homemade yogurt topper, if you ask me. Just try not to eat too much!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes (use these, not the fine shreds)
  • 1.5 cups raw unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1.25 cups sliced or slivered blanched almonds
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried mission figs

Figgy coconut granola

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. On a large baking sheet, mix together the coconut, sunflower seeds and almonds. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the coconut oil, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom and sea salt. Once mixed well, pour on top of the coconut/seed/nut mixture and stir until well coated.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and stir. Bake for 10-15 minutes more or until golden brown.
  4. Let cool slightly and then add the chopped figs.
  5. Once completely cool, store in jars. Enjoy with full-fat yogurt, ice cream, milk of choice or just plain. It makes a great travel food too.

Figgy coconut granola

Primal Parsley Pesto (Nut-free)

Primal Parsley Pesto (Nut-free)

Well, I’m back after some extra time away. As some of you know from my posts on Facebook, a lot has happened in the past few weeks, including my mom coming to visit, a lot of work and having to put our sweet Siamese kitty, Mila down (which I had to do when Jesse was out of town). So, I’ve had my ups and downs recently, and definitely some good and bad. I’m grateful for all the wonderful new memories my mom and I made during her stay, and all the support and love I received during the hard time with Mila. Thankfully, we still have our other kitty, Dutch too. Anyway, just wanted all of you to know where I’ve been.

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Meanwhile, I’ve had a humongous bag of flat leaf parsley in my fridge since last week (came in my CSA box) and even though I’ve been using it regularly, I just haven’t been able to use enough of it. I hate wasting fresh herbs and produce, so decided to preserve some by making a batch of pesto. Since I can tolerate certain dairy, including small amounts of highly fermented cheeses, I decided to make this a dairy-based pesto with some good quality raw Parmesan. I love the saltiness and creaminess it adds, and the texture too. If you don’t tolerate Parmesan, just omit it and start with a smaller amount of oil, adding more as needed. I’ve made pesto before with no nuts or dairy and it still turned out wonderful. Feel free to also use extra virgin olive oil if you don’t have any avocado oil on hand.

This pesto pairs well with so many different foods, including eggs, chicken, zucchini noodles, greens, tomatoes, fish, Italian sausage, etc. Use as you like!

Ingredients:

  • 1 generous cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raw Parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and blend. Scrape down the sides and taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Blend again. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Primal Parsley Pesto (Nut-free)

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