Experiments in the Kitchen

I recently became very adventurous in the kitchen and tried a few unconventional things. I frequently see photos of food on Instagram and take a screen shot to remind myself to make it, then rarely actually end up making the food. For some reason, in one weekend I broke out of my forgetful shell and made a smoothie with cauliflower rice, a collard greens wrap, homemade mayo and cauliflower tabbouleh. Now, I realize some of those sound a little odd, please keep reading. I wouldn’t share them with you if they weren’t delicious.

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Smoked salmon, homemade mayo, shredded carrots, bell pepper and avocado wrapped in a collard green leaf

Cauliflower Chocolate Smoothie

I began reading about this little concoction about a month ago and was initially very skeptical. Given that my goal in life is to eat as many veggies as possible (kidding, but my veggie obsession might surprise you), the skepticism faded and I was convinced this would be delicious. I shared this idea with my student staff at a team meeting and they looked at me like I had gone off my rocker. This just added more fuel to my fire to join in on this cauliflower smoothie craze.

You may be asking, why the hell would I add frozen cauliflower rice to my smoothie? Well to start with, one serving of cauliflower contains 77 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C. It’s also a good source of vitamin K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese. Basically, cauliflower is AWESOME. If you need more convincing, it makes your smoothies super creamy. If you are convinced and want to try this recipe, I recommend making life easier on yourself and buying the frozen cauliflower rice (sold at Trader Joes).  If you love washing your food processor, unlike me, you can learn how to make and freeze cauliflower rice here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen coconut rice
  • ¼ cup frozen sliced bananas
  • 1 Tbsp. almond butter
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. flax seed meal
  • 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Enough almond milk to make it the consistency you want it

Add it all in a blender and make some noise! Pour it in a cup and ask someone to drink it then tell them they drank cauliflower. Mind blown.

Creamy and Delicious Homemade Mayo

1 recipe makes about this much! This lasted us about 3 weeks.

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Mayo isn’t unconventional at all. Making it from scratch when the grocery store has 5,000 brands and types though? I consider that pretty unconventional.  However, I don’t plan on ever buying mayo from the store again. I am not a mayo person. Aioli? Love it. But plain mayo has never been a condiment I need to have. Homemade mayo has converted me. After tasting it fresh out of the jar, I wanted to put it on everything.

An immersion blender is absolutely crucial and I cannot testify to using the slow and steady drizzle method with a food processor. I can testify to sticking the immersion blender stick into the mason jar, blending for 60 seconds and calling it quits though. My favorite part is probably that you then store the mayo in the jar, so there are no dishes. Win!

We use avocado oil for pretty much everything we cook. Why? Because you can get a massive jar of it at Costco for an amazing price. Seriously though, I would get a Costco membership just to be able to buy this oil. It has a super high smoke point and is very light in color and flavor. Light oil with minimal flavor is important for homemade mayo. If you want to give it flavor, you can totally jazz it up! I’ve seen chipotle lime mayo, garlic mayo, basil mayo. I plan to adventure soon but for now, let’s stick with the original.

Creamy and Delicious Homemade Mayo

Ingredients

  • 1 cup avocado oil
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1-2 tsp. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. pink Himalayan sea salt

Add all ingredients in a wide mouth, pint size mason jar. Stick the immersion blender to the bottom of the jar and blend for about 30 seconds. It will come together very quickly. Then push the blender up and down until it all mixes together. It should take about another 30 seconds. Dip your finger in a lick!

What have you been experimenting with in the kitchen? I’d love to hear about it below!

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Cauliflower Tabbouleh on the right. So fresh and light!
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Insights I Learned through Pursing a Health and Wellness Coaching Certification

I recently completed an 18-week Health and Wellness Coaching course through WellCoaches. I spent 90 minutes a week on a teleclass with individuals from all over the country.  It was an amazing experience. I didn’t realize that by taking the course I would also be learning more about myself than I ever have and would be forced to dig deep into my own health and wellness.

I’ve always been interested in this topic and have a Masters in Public Health in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, so I went into this thinking it would be a breeze…maybe I was a little over confident. While I did pick it up quickly, I realized that health and wellness coaching is an entirely unique skill set. I believe the skills I learned and insights I had throughout the course are transferrable to other aspects of my life, so I wanted to share what I learned with you all!

Listening, really listening is really hard

Sometimes my husband will be telling me a story and throw in a curveball like, “The Pope pooped his pants” just to see if I’m listening. Most of the time, I will nod my head and make some sort of “yeah I’m listening” noise, although I’m really thinking about what food is in the fridge that needs to be used soon. He gets me every time. I should have realized that I was a poor listener in those situations, but I never truly realized how terrible I was at listening until I spent 90 minutes learning about the different levels of listening. Let’s be real, I probably only really listened to about half of the lesson. There are three different levels and it’s safe to say that I still haven’t graduated from the first level aka I’m easily distracted.

My take away from the lesson was that “Level 1 Listening” means you are not giving that person your full attention and you are more focused on yourself than them. Have you ever heard someone say something then either in your head or verbally related it to something about you or an experience you have had? Until taking this course, I had no idea how frequently I did (probably still do) this. It’s so easy to get sidetracked and relate their experience your own instead of deeply listening to what they are saying.  A good listener would not relate it back to themselves. They would reflect what the other person said back to them. There a variety of reflection techniques, but the jest of it is that you are letting the other person know that you hear them and are clarifying how you interpreted what they said.

I’ve been really focusing on becoming a better listener and let me tell you, it’s hard! I deeply admire individuals that are good listeners and value my conversations with them. Having a conversation with someone that is truly listening to you and reflecting what you are saying is an incredible experience and doesn’t happen enough, in my opinion. There are so many distractions these days, from phones to overbooked schedules, so I challenge you to join me in putting that aside and becoming a better listener.

Focus on the positive: Your strengths and learning experiences

I’ve always considered myself a positive person, maybe even overly positive and annoying to some people in certain situations.  However, the concept of strengths-based coaching was entirely new to me. Wellcoaches teaches you how to leverage clients’ strengths and best experiences to help them develop confidence and self-efficacy to change their behaviors. For example, let’s say an individual wants to quit smoking and they have done so in the past, but are smoking again now. The coach would say, “What allowed you to be in successful in the past?” not “Why did you start smoking again?”  Another question could be, “What was your best experience with quitting smoking in the past?”  Essentially, you are helping the client realize that they have the strength within themselves to lead healthier lives.

I’ve also begun to view goals as learning experiences. Every session with a client you do weekly goal reviews and are supposed to ask questions like, “What was your best experience with this goal?” or “What did you learn from pursuing this goal?” It’s easy to get down on yourself for not accomplishing a goal, but viewing it as a learning experience takes away the failure aspect. Since we, as humans, tend to have a negativity bias, it’s crucial to change clients’ mindsets about goals. Let’s say someone wanted to run three times for 30 minutes, but only actually ran once for 10 minutes. They might enter the coaching session feeling pretty bummed about the goal, but coaches can help shift their mindset so they leave feeling motivated and excited for the next week ahead. Maybe they didn’t meet their goal, because they realized they actually just hate running.  Rather than continuing with that goal then, they can switch it to something they enjoy and look forward to trying again instead of quitting.

You don’t have to have a wellness coach to practice this strategy in your own life. Although if you’d like one, you know who to reach out to 😉 You can have these conversations with yourself in your own head. If something you were hoping to do didn’t go as planned, look at is a learning experience instead of saying hurtful and shaming things to yourself. Focus on what went well. Ask yourself what was the best experience with the goal, not “why can’t I ever do anything right”. Be your advocate and friend. Support yourself and remind yourself that you’re awesome and capable of amazing things. Because, YOU are.

Interested in learning more about your own strengths? This VIA Character Strengths Assessment is a fun way to do so! http://www.viacharacter.org/www/Character-Strengths-Survey