March Instagram Challenge

Good morning! It’s the last day of February and with March starting tomorrow, I want to let you all know about the March Instagram Challenge. I’ll be participating again and invite any of you to join or follow along, as usual. The details are laid out below. Oh, and Sunday is my birthday! I’ll be heading to the Bonneville Hot Springs Resort & Spa with my husband to celebrate and am very excited! So, my day two and three Instagram challenge photos will probably be from there. Again, if you don’t already follow me, be sure to do so here.

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Starting on Saturday, March 1 2014, we’ll be hosting our third mini Instagram challenge– a clever way to meet new people on Instagram and have fun in the process. Participation is easy: every day throughout the week you’ll post a picture on Instagram using the themes below. The first day do #1, the second #2, and so on. Be creative with it and don’t worry about posting the “right” or “wrong” things– it’s all just for fun! Just make sure that you tag #mygreen2014 and your cohosts: @grownandhealthy and @scratchmommy so we can all see what you post!

March Instagram Challenge \\ Instagram Challenge, March 1- March 8

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

  1. Follow @grownandhealthy and @scratchmommy on Instagram.
  2. Take a daily picture using the themes below, tagging #mygreen, @grownandhealthy and @scratchmommy. in each so we can find your posts easily!
  3. Check out the other posts under the #mysweet2014 thread each day to see what other great bloggers (and you great readers) are posting as well.

March Instagram Challenge \\ Instagram Challenge, March 1- March 8

Want to find out who else is participating in the challenge? Link up your Instagram account below so we can follow each other more easily! Everyone is welcome to participate, the more the merrier. This is a blog hop, so any other bloggers are welcome to post this to their websites as well.

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Important: The Instagram URL does not let you choose a profile pic from your feed, so be sure you have a picture you can upload! If you get a “Error: The requested URL returned error: 500″ that just means it can’t find a picture to use, it does NOT mean that your link is bad. Click on “Direct Image URL” if you have one or “Upload from Computer”.


March Instagram Challenge \\ Instagram Challenge, March 1- March 8

Floating for the First Time

No, that's not me. This is to show the size tank Jesse floated in. (Photo credit: tripadvisor.com).

No, that’s not me. This is to show the size tank that Jesse floated in. (Photo credit: Float On on tripadvisor.com).

As some of you know, my husband and I experienced something new last weekend: floating in a sensory deprivation tank. We were both familiar with it, but had never done it before. After hearing more people talk about the benefits, including Jim Laird at the Train Like A Girl 2 seminar I recently attended, I decided that Jesse and I needed to go ASAP. So, I booked us each a 90 minute float at a place called, Float On here in Portland. For those who live in the Portland area, this is just one of several places you can go to float here in town.

Floating is meant to be a relaxing, detoxifying and meditative experience in which you float privately in 10 inches of water containing 850 lb of epsom salt (so much magnesium!). The water is the same temperature as your skin, which keeps you from getting hot or cold, and causes you to no longer feel where your body ends and the water begins. Also, because of the high salt content, your skin will not wrinkle while soaking. It’s encouraged to float in the nude and in total darkness, but there is the option to wear a swimsuit and keep the lights on. Bathing suits can get uncomfortable and become a distraction, which is why floating naked is recommended though. You’re in your own private room anyway, so going without a bathing suit is no big thing.

I had the luxury of being in what I called the, “queen suite” which featured a large float pool that was open and not inside a tank, like the others. I could literally make a big X-shape with my body and it allowed me ample room to spread out. It was like floating in a huge, shallow jacuzzi (minus the jets, of course). Jesse was in a medium-sized tank that had a door entry, like the one pictured above and was known as an, “Ocean Room.” There is a smaller sized tank option as well. It is more womb-like and many people refer to it as a “space pod.” You can’t stand upright when entering and have to step your feet in and then squat down to get inside.

Nice open shower area.

Nice open shower. The big white button on the right is the light switch.

My float pool.

My float pool.

Anyway, after getting the 101 from one of the employees, Jesse and I each made it to our designated float rooms. I put in the wax ear plugs, showered and then stepped into the float pool. Upon getting in, I pushed the big button on the wall to turn off the lights and immediately laid back into the water. I was there a whole three seconds when I felt the weight from my hair (it was pulled back in a messy bun) pulling my head back. I immediately sat up, which was a mistake because super salty water ran down my face and onto my lips (thankfully, missed my eyes). It tasted terrible and I knew I needed to get up to pat off my face before trying to get comfortable again. But then, I couldn’t find the light button in all the darkness. I felt my way around the walls and finally found it. I admit, I went into slight panic mode for about 10 seconds or so, and didn’t know how I was going to last 90 minutes. Not only that, but I got cold, which shouldn’t happen. I later found out from one of the employees that the tank temperature started dropping right at the time that my float started. He caught it quickly and adjusted it, but this explains why I was cold for a bit.

Another shot of the float pool.

Another shot of the float pool. Notice the bath pillow and noodle on the ledge.

I shut the light off again after drying my face and re-situated myself, so that I could see the light shining under the doorway (remember, mine was a big pool and not inside a tank). I wanted my head slightly propped up for floating (to keep my spine neutral), but unfortunately, the bath pillow was too slippery and wanted to bob to one side every time I laid my head on it. I tried folding the head pillow over the ledge and leaning against it, but was so buoyant in the water that I floated away from it every time. This kinda made me laugh, actually! There was also a small noodle to use, but it was too light rest my head on, unless I held it with my hands (I did for a while too). Then, I just held my head in my clasped hands for a bit, which was quite comfortable until my arms got tingly. That’s when I realized I had to get comfortable with my head unsupported. I laid in a shavasana (corpse) pose and had the small noodle underneath the backs of my knees for a bit. I closed my eyes and my body finally began to ease. I remember getting into a dream-like state, but was still somewhat conscious (I recall dreaming about Hawaii). By the time I figured things out and got comfortable, I was probably 30-40 minutes into my float. The next 50-60 minutes went by in the blink of an eye and I would have sworn it was only a few minutes or so.

To “bring you back,” soft music starts to stream into the room, letting you know to gradually make your way out. You have plenty of time to slowly ease out of the water, shower and get dressed. Like a massage, they don’t want you to rush.

Castile soap for hair/body and ACV for conditioner.

Afterward, I felt incredibly chill and my legs that had been really sore upon going in, felt much less sore. I felt sort of loopy and noodle-like too — so relaxed. I also noticed that my skin felt very soft from all the salt.

Jesse and I went down the street to eat Thai food for dinner afterward and I kept commenting on how good I felt, and Jesse too. When we got home, I felt so tired and still very relaxed. Once I finally slipped into bed, I felt like I was on a cloud and then fell fast asleep.

Even though I had a hard time getting settled in the beginning of my float (and Jesse did too), I would definitely float again. I’d know more what to expect the second time around and what it takes for me to get comfortable. I know that floating can be difficult for people the first time and some people don’t even get to the point that I did. Every time thereafter will be easier to relax and settle down. Jesse and I both plan to do it again in the near future.

If you ever have the opportunity to float, DO IT, but know that it may be difficult to relax and get comfortable the first time, or even the first few times. Like anything, you can’t completely make up your mind or formulate an opinion after the first time experiencing something new though.

If you have questions, feel free to shoot me a comment and also check out Float On’s FAQ.

Have you ever floated before? If so, what did you think?

Cacao Surprise Truffles

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I made these kinda last minute for Jesse and me to enjoy on Valentine’s Day and we ended up eating the whole batch that night. I figure, it’s a half an avocado each, so why not? Plus, these are perishable and best not to store in the fridge for too long. And, there’s also the part about these being incredibly delicious and decadent.

Anyway, since I wasn’t able to get any snapshots the day I made these, I had to make them again in order to do so (bummer, I know). Jesse and I weren’t too disappointed about it, to say the least.

Make sure you use a ripe avocado, otherwise they’ll taste kinda green. It doesn’t have to be overly ripe, but ripe enough and ready for eating.

Also, as some of you know, Jesse and I floated in a sensory deprivation tank yesterday evening. I will be recapping about this experience. Cheers!

Adapted from this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
  • 1.5 Tbsp raw honey
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ripe medium avocado
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut and cacao powder for rolling, optional

(Note: cacao nibs, crushed nuts, goji berries, etc. would all be great options for rolling the truffles as well).

photo(3)

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the coconut oil. Add the raw honey, cacao powder, cinnamon and cayenne. Once honey is dissolved and mixture is combined, remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  2. Peel and pit the avocado, and add to a food processor or blender. Process until nearly smooth. Then, add the chocolate mixture and process again, until smooth. Scrape down the sides and re-blend as needed. Alternatively, you can mash the avocado by hand with a fork (get all the lumps out) and then stir in the chocolate.
  3. Scrape chocolate avocado mixture out and into a bowl (unless you made it by hand, then you can keep it in the same bowl) and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 25-30 minutes.
  4. Once chilled, scoop out tablespoon-sized balls and roll between your hands to form a truffle (note: this part is messy and sticky!). Place each truffle on a foil or parchment paper lined plate. Chill in the refrigerator about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Remove from fridge and smooth out any rough/fuzzy looking spots on the truffles with your fingers. Then, roll half in cacao powder and half in unsweetened coconut shreds, or other toppings of choice.
  6. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Yields: about 13 truffles

Simple Supper Friday: Italian Sausage “Fettuccine”

IMG_4083

Snow is coming down in Portland, or at least it was at the time I wrote this post on Thursday. I actually haven’t seen this much snow in the city since my first winter here, back in 2008. It’s beautiful, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t impact my early morning flight to Kentucky today. I have some buffer room to get there, as my seminar doesn’t start until Saturday morning, but the less hiccups, the better. Really though, I kinda wish the snow would have held off until next week, but it is what it is. The same can be said about this head cold that I got too. Quite the combo to get right before a weekend of travel, but I guess it makes it that much more of an adventure (well, minus the being sick part).

Meanwhile, enjoy this simple, satisfying meal, which was inspired by the cauliflower recipe I shared last week. Cheers and happy weekend!

Ingredients:

  • ~1 lb bulk Italian chicken sausage
  • 1 Tbsp grass-fed butter, separated
  • 1 large or 2 small/medium zucchini, noodled with a spiralizer (straight blade attachment)
  • 3 Tbsp blanched almond flour
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dessicated garlic
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling, optional

Directions:

  1. Melt 1/2 tbsp of grass-fed butter in a large pan over medium heat. Once melted, add the chicken sausage. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up large chunks with a spatula.
  2. Once sausage is browned, after 5-7 minutes or so, transfer to a large serving bowl and set aside.
  3. To the same pan, add the noodled zucchini and heat briefly over medium-low heat. After a couple minutes, transfer to the bowl with the sausage.
  4. Combine the almond flour, oregano, dessicated garlic, sea salt and pepper in a small bowl. Melt the remaining butter in the same pan over medium-low heat and then add the almond flour mixture.
  5. Stir mixture, allowing it to soak up the butter and continue to cook a few minutes, until golden brown.
  6. Sprinkle on top of the sausage and zucchini. Serve warm and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, if desired. Add more sea salt and pepper to taste, if needed. If you tolerate some dairy, you could also sprinkle on a bit of raw Parmesan cheese.

Yields: 2-3 servings

February Instagram Challenge

Happy Friday, everyone! Guess what? I’m doing another Instagram challenge with some fellow bloggers, and it starts tomorrow! Remember the January challenge I did earlier this month? I had a lot of fun and I know some of you followed along. If you didn’t, now is your chance to join me again. Be sure to follow me here. Anyway, here’s the full scoop:

Join our February Instagram Challenge! February 1-February 8, #mysweet2014, with hosts @grownandhealthy and @lilhomesteader

Starting tomorrow, February 1 2014, we’ll be hosting our second official mini Instagram challenge: a clever way to meet new people on Instagram and have fun in the process. Participation is easy: every day throughout the week you’ll post a picture on Instagram using the themes below. The first day do #1, the second #2, and so on. Be creative with it and don’t worry about posting the “right” or “wrong” things– it’s all just for fun! Just make sure that you tag #mysweet2014 and your cohosts: @grownandhealthy and @lilhomesteader so we can all see what you post!

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

  1. Follow @grownandhealthy and @lilhomesteader on Instagram
  2. Take a daily picture using the themes below, tagging #mysweet2014, @grownandhealthy and @lilhomesteader in each so we can find your posts easily!
  3. Check out the other posts under the #mysweet2014 thread each day to see what other great bloggers (and you great readers) are posting as well.

Join our February Instagram Challenge! February 1-February 8, #mysweet2014, with hosts @grownandhealthy and @lilhomesteader

The words, in case you want them without the graphic, are:

#MySweet2014

  1. #letskiss
  2. #hugme
  3. #hotstuff
  4. #loveyou
  5. #xoxo
  6. #allmine
  7. #cutiepie
  8. #truelove

Want to find out who else is participating in the challenge? Link up your Instagram account below, so we can follow each other more easily! Everyone is welcome to participate, the more the merrier. This is a blog hop, so any other bloggers are welcome to post this to their websites as well.

Important: The Instagram URL does not let you choose a profile pic from your feed, so be sure you have a picture you can upload! If you get a “Error: The requested URL returned error: 500″ that just means it can’t find a picture to use, it does NOT mean that your link is bad. Click on “Direct Image URL” if you have one or “Upload from Computer”.

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Baked Italian Cauliflower

IMG_4075

Whether you’re looking for a new vegetable side dish recipe or not, you’ve got to try this cauliflower! It is so flavorful and tastes absolutely wonderful with baked chicken. The almond flour and seasoning mixture acts as Italian “breadcrumbs,” and turns brown and slightly crispy in the oven, with the help of some glorious melted gold (aka grass-fed butter). It makes the house smell like an Italian feast and will literally make your mouth water. I think it would also taste delightful dipped in some Marinara sauce with Italian meatballs. Really, there are many possibilities.

Enjoy!

Inspired by this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • ~1/4 cup chicken or beef bone broth, preferably homemade
  • 4-5 Tbsp grass-fed butter or ghee
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1.5 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp granulated garlic

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cauliflower florets in a 8×8 or 9×9 baking pan. Pour the broth on top.
  2. Melt the butter in a small bowl and add the sea salt and black pepper. In a separate bowl, mix together the almond flour, oregano, parsley and granulated garlic (or garlic powder).
  3. Sprinkle the almond flour mixture evenly over the cauliflower florets. Then, evenly drizzle the melted butter on top.
  4. Cover with a lid (if your pan has an oven-proof one that fits) or aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes and then remove cover/foil and bake for another 25-30 minutes more.

Yields: ~5 side servings

IMG_4076

Sunny Cinnamon Sammie

IMG_4067

Before I stopped eating grains and even before I stopped eating gluten, I was never much of a bread person. It’s not that I didn’t like it, but I preferred to fill up on other foods. I probably ate the most bread when I was growing up because I always had a sandwich in my lunchbox each day (usually PB & J). Then, in junior high and high school, it was pretty much always bread in the form of cheese pizza. Anyway, my point is, I do not miss bread.

However, this does not mean that I don’t enjoy something bread-like from time-to-time. Grain-free, bread-like things are definitely not a staple or necessity, but nice to have on occasion when desired. It’s great that grain-free options exist, so I can have a bacon and egg sandwich when I want it or something to dunk into my hot chicken soup. Other times, I just need a vehicle to spread some ooey, gooey sunflower seed butter on. I don’t always want to make a whole batch of something or have everything on hand to so though, which is why the idea of a single-serving muffin is perfect.

Adapted from this recipe and this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, grass-fed butter or ghee
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • ~1/4 tsp baking soda (I used just under 1/4 tsp & do not recommend using a full 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 egg, preferably pasture-raised
  • 1 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp water
  • Smear of grass-fed butter
  • Generous smear of unsweetened sunflower seed butter (I used this brand)

Directions:

  1. Melt the coconut oil in a small glass dish. Use a size that has a similar circumference to an English muffin. I use the 2-cup round size Pyrex dish from this set.
  2. Once oil is melted, add the sea salt, vinegar and baking soda. Whisk very well with a fork to make sure the baking soda dissolves and doesn’t stick to the bottom. If you don’t mix it well, the muffin may taste bitter!
  3. Then, add the egg and whisk again. Next, add the coconut flour, cinnamon and water (start w/ 1 tsp and add 1 more tsp if needed). Continue to whisk with a fork until everything is mixed well and there are no lumps (a few small lumps here and there is fine).
  4. Microwave for 90 seconds on high and then check to see if the center is still soft. If so, microwave for 30-45 seconds more. Once done, carefully remove from microwave to cool (dish will be hot!). Run a knife around the edge of the dish and then flip the bowl upside down to remove the muffin. Let cool a little longer if it’s still really hot.
  5. Once cool enough to handle, but still warm, slice in half with a sharp knife. Then, spread some grass-fed butter on each half, followed by a generous smear of sunflower seed butter. Eat open face or stacked like a sandwich.

Yields: 1 serving

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