journaling, personal growth

40 Days- check in for end of week 2

journaling, personal growth
Early morning is the best time to journal. Sitting by the window watching dawn wake the land is so promising.

Hello! How is your Personal Revolution going? If this is your first time doing the 40 days, you may have been excited to start, then wobbled a bit on incorporating the program in its entirety. Journaling, yoga, maybe a change in eating practices, meditation, all these things are probably new to your regular daily routine. Maybe you do some of them at times but all four at the same time for an extended period of time, it is a lot of change! I would say do not be hard on yourself if you falter. Get started again. I believe when we are trying to make a change, whether it is change a habit that is no longer desired (notice I did not say bad habit) or add a habit that is desired, you must attach the change to something that is already stable. And a reward system is not bad, either.

For example, I have a hard time incorporating daily journaling into my life right now. I will do the weekly excavation questions in a day or two and then “forget” to do my own daily journaling. Is it because I do not have anything specific to write about? No, it is because I keep thinking I will get to it later. This morning I have already spent time on yoga and meditation and eating a good breakfast. I want to get on with my day. I make excuses like, “Oh, it is partly sunny and not too windy, I have some outside work to do before the rain comes,” or “I am almost out of gluten-free bread, I really need to get that mixed up, I will journal while it is rising.” Lots of excuses but the truth is, I have the time. I spend it on other things. That is the truth. I have been feeling lonely so I check social media quite frequently as a way of feeling connected. I bet if I just sat down and journaled instead of checking FB that it would take the same amount of time. I want the quick fix, though. But that new lovely journaling book reminds me of my commitment to myself.

One of the funny things that happens when you make a decision to address an issue in yourself is the universe seems to come in and test your mettle and also maybe “help” you along. The first week is about Presence and coming into your body and boy, did I get some help in that! My herniated disk flared up and I have been in pain and restricted movement. I was definitely aware of my body! There was no way I could do the yoga practice as described. Instead of foregoing the practice, I adjusted and made a 5 minute practice that I could do several times a day as a way of enticing that disk to quiet down. I learned to adapt and meet the needs of this body at this time. That is perhaps the very essence of this lesson. The second week was a lesson about Vitality. I won’t go into the challenges I faced last week but I learned that my old stories can show up and sap my vitality. I learned how important Presence is in being authentic to my real self regardless of how the day’s events may go.

So this week the lesson is Equanimity. I will be honest, my first thought this morning when I read that was, “Oh shit.” I know that equanimity is a practice of not being over-taken by thoughts, that it is recognizing the ephemeral nature of thoughts and feelings and letting them come and go without fixating on them. I will be diligent in this practice of breathing in and letting go every moment. As Eckhart Tolle says, “Die to the past every moment.” And yes, I do not look forward to the lesson the universe will bring me to make sure I have learned about equanimity. It is okay to feel trepidation, to be tired of being tested and to still summon the courage to sally forth gaily into the experience. Or not so gaily, that is okay, too.

I’m thinking my reward for journaling each day will be a treat of gummy bears. I really like those chewy guys and only eat them on road trips. I have been known to eat a whole bag of gummy bears in one sitting so I will pick some up today and let you know how it goes. Maybe this time will be different.

Here are a few things I have been eating to incorporate more vitality into my week. Two brand new things that have made a huge change in my energy level are using blended cottage cheese in place of many creamy ingredients. My savvy daughter told me about this trick with cottage cheese and I was disbelieving but willing to try it. I placed a 16 oz container into my Vitamix and hit blend. The result is somewhere between sour cream, plain yogurt, and cottage cheese in flavor. I used it in many things this past week, healthy muffins (I will share the recipe once I get it perfected with measurements but as a teaser, it uses cottage cheese and chick peas!), deviled eggs, and a healthy alfredo sauce for steamed broccoli using cashews, cottage cheese, and about a teaspoon of parmesan per serving. Below you can see the evolved-alfredo, the eggs, a bean sprout salad, and quinoa-stuffed peppers.

A healthy alternative to alfredo and mayo, blended cottage cheese is my new go-to

I have also been using up those hibiscus flowers in several beverages, hot and cold. Below is a simple tea made from the hibiscus and lavender. It is important to use organic culinary lavender in your food and Kate’s Naturals (the link above) is a great source.

Hibiscus and lavender tea is my new favorite treat!

And the weirdest food I tried had to be this.

banana "bacon"
Vegan “bacon” made from banana skin. So weird and yet so good!

Yes, this was the absolute weirdest thing I have ever tried. It was brought to my attention by my friend through her Facebook share of a post at itdoesn’ttastelikechicken.com on banana peel bacon. What the hell? Well, why not? I spend the extra money for organic bananas, why throw that skin away? I am here to tell you, this crazy thing is yummy! I will play with it more in the near future while perfecting my crazy healthy muffin recipe and get back to ya.

Disclaimer: the Amazon links above will take you to the products I have purchased and recommend. If you follow my link and make a purchase, it will not cost you anything extra and I will get a small commission for pointing you in their direction.

Hibiscus Enchiladas- Two Ways

Hibiscus enchiladas are the bomb. Once you try these vegetarian delights, you will want to serve them to everyone! Who knew those lovely flowers could do so much?

This dish was begat by the gift of some dried hibiscus flowers. Other than tea, what does one do with these things? My savvy daughter sent me a link to loveandoliveoil.com where there are several recipes using hibiscus for more than just tea! I was inspired by the enchiladas recipe and have since added hibiscus enchiladas to my repertoire of favorites. And by “repertoire of favorites” I mean I no longer follow an exact recipe and these enchies become tailored to whatever my mood at the time desires. Sometimes I am “eating clean” and light and fresh fare that is colorful, uber-healthy, and gourmet. Would that I lived every day this way, filled with verve and vibrancy but the truth is that sometimes I have a bad day or rough week and I want comfort food. For me, comfort food is kind of heavy, it tends to be heavily sauced, have more than one kind of cheese in it, and it may tend toward mono-chromatic.

So here are two versions of the same Hibiscus Enchiladas, one for when you are on top of the world and the other for when the world has been riding your ass all week.

For both recipes you will need:

  • 6-8 corn tortillas
  • 1 Cup organic hibiscus flowers
  • 1 can chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 15 oz can chopped tomatoes or 3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • Chopped onions and garlic, I do about ¾ cup of chopped onion and 3-4 cloves of garlic, then divide it between the sauce and the enchiladas
  • Julienned veggies of your choice to make about 1 to 1.5 cups(carrots, zucchini, potato, jicama, spinach, kale, swiss chard, yellow squash, and/or anything in the fridge that needs to be eaten). I tend to err on the side of too much veggie because the left overs can be saved for a quick addition to scrambled eggs or soup or as a sandwich filling so feel free to saute up extra to cook once-eat twice.
  • Cheese(s) of your choice (cotija, feta, cheddar, Monterey jack, cottage cheese are some suggestions)

*You may wish to add jalapenos into the veggie mix if you like a bit of heat.

Depending on the tortilla size and the amount of veggies you stuff into each, this makes about 6 healthy enchiladas which is 2 servings in my opinion but could serve 3 if you had lots of sides or were a light eater. If you are making the comfort enchilada version, it serves 4-6 people

Soak 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers in 2 cups hot water (as if making tea) for 30 minutes or longer. Drain and reserve the liquid for tea or for margaritas (see suggestion below for hibiscus cocktail recipes).

Thoroughly rinse the rehydrated flowers to remove any grit and set aside.

Meanwhile for the enchilada sauce (actually, start this first so it can develop the flavor), over medium heat saute onions and garlic and the chopped tomatoes, cut up 1 or 2 of the chipotle peppers and 2 -4 teaspoons of the adobo sauce and add to the mix with  1 tablespoon of chili powder (or not if you want a fresher, lighter flavor), some cumin, oregano, salt and pepper all to taste and cook about 15 minutes. Blend smooth in a blender. In a clean pot place some oil and heat, then add the sauce like you were going to saute it. Let cook about 15 minutes. It may seem like a hassle to re-cook the sauce but it really makes a difference in the flavor. Take it off the heat and keep it warm while preparing the remaining recipe.

To prepare the enchiladas:

For healthy enchiladas, saute onions until translucent. Next add garlic and stir around a moment until fragrant, then add the julienned veggies and hibiscus flowers and saute. Add 1 teaspoon cumin, ¾ teaspoon coriander, ½ teaspoon oregano, and salt/pepper to taste. I sometimes add some jalapeno slices to this mix as well. Saute until veggies are soft but still colorful and then keep warm until ready to make enchiladas

Place small amount of oil in skillet and heat corn tortillas on medium heat for 30 seconds to soften, placing on paper towel-lined plate. This heating also intensifies the flavor of the tortillas.

Assemble by placing a scant ¼ cup of the veggie mix onto a tortilla and roll up and place on serving plate. Top with enchilada sauce, avocado slices, sour cream or plain yogurt, and a sprinkle of the cheese of your choice.

Healthy Hibiscus Enchiladas with avocado and plain yogurt served with orange and candied jalapeno slices. Hibiscus margarita to round out the meal. Leave out the yogurt for a vegan version.

For comfort enchiladas, follow the vegetable saute and tortilla prep as for healthy enchiladas. Assemble in an oiled 8×10 (or so) baking dish that has a smear of enchilada sauce on the bottom of it by placing 2 tablespoons of veggie mix and 1 tablespoon of cheese (I like cottage cheese and Monterey jack mixed together). Roll up and place rolled-side down in baking dish, pour the enchilada sauce over and cover with cheese. Bake at 375F for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and let cool about 10 minutes before serving. You can use this time to mix up a cocktail with that hibiscus tea.

Hibiscus enchiladas comfort style. I was half-way through dinner when I realized I had forgotten to take a picture of the plated dinner. I really needed that “hug from the inside” this day!

For a yummy beverage, you can fix these cocktails or leave the alcohol out for a nice mocktail.

Hibiscus Margarita- place 1/3 cup of the reserved hibiscus tea into a glass, add 1T simple syrup, about ½ a lime of fresh juice, and a shot of tequila (gold or anejo is my preference). Adjust to taste, then add ice cubes. I like to float or place on rim some candied jalapenos. I tried adding one of the hibiscus flowers to the drink but it really just looked like a dead baby squid rather than a glorious flower.

Hibiscus and Huckleberry-Infused Vodka sparkler- pour about 1/2 cup of hibiscus tea into a glass, add 1-2 teaspoons of sugar and stir to dissolve, then add a shot of huckleberry-infused vodka, a few ice cubes, and fill glass with sparkling water. I love my SodaStream to have sparkling water whenever I want without creating more plastic bottles to deal with.

Wondering what to serve alongside the enchiladas? For the healthy enchilada sides, I’ve made salads. My favorite salad, of which there is no picture I am sad to say, had a base of romaine and tomato, then alternating slices of grapefruit and avocado and in the center were some cooked carrots with a raspberry-chipotle glaze. Dressing was grapefruit juice, olive oil and seasonings. To make the carrots, cook carrot coins in small amount of water until done. Add some real raspberry jam and some of the chipotle pepper in the pot and stir over heat until it reduces into a glaze. For the comfort enchilada sides I go simple and do a cucumber and tomato salad (and maybe a second cocktail). A little of Aura Cacia’s Chill Pill essential oil on the wrist also helps soothe the soul.

Give these a try and let me know what you think! Did you do the healthy version or the comfort version? If you buy the hibiscus flowers from the above Amazon link (or any other items that are linked in this or my other posts) it will not cost you anything extra and I will make a small commission that will let me make up other recipes to use up that bag of hibiscus! That is how the Amazon affiliate thingy works, I get a few cents for pointing you in their direction.