Saturday, September 12, 2015

Making Choices

I've been thinking today about choices... (this is what happens when I have a day off after 2 weeks straight of craziness and somebody dies suddenly). Prepare yourself. 
When I first started my vegan personal chef business 12 years ago I did it part-time while working another job, and then when I left that job three years later to focus on my business full-time, somebody said to me "you're lucky you can do that. It's easier to take a risk when you aren't married." I just thought, REALLY? Cause I had to sell my house and move into an apartment since I couldn't afford to pay the mortgage after I left that job. I had to downsize and overhaul my life. I had to take on ridiculous temp jobs to make ends meet. I had to figure out what the hell I was doing and not rely on anyone but myself. There was no one there to help me. But I did it anyway because the life I had been living wasn't fulfilling. I'm fortunate to have my parents, who supported me in spirit, and friends who were there to listen.
There have been other times in my life when I've made radical changes. I've quit jobs, I've bought and sold several houses and moved about a dozen times, I've had many painful breakups. I was married to my best friend who I loved and thought I'd be with for the rest of my life, but I was always learning, growing, changing, exploring and he was unhappy because I was no longer "the girl he married," so we got divorced (that's the short story). Through it all, one thing has remained constant, and that's the person I am. When something didn't feel right because it crushed my soul or sucked my spirit dry or compromised my zest for life, I knew it was incompatible with my needs. Even if it was just a faint hint of dissatisfaction, I've learned to trust my gut (though I still try to ignore it and hope that nagging feeling goes away). But here's my point: it doesn't go away unless you do something about it.
If you've ever had that experience and think patience, compromise and acceptance will make everything better, let me suggest that while that may be the compassionate approach that will make your situation tolerable in the short-term, ultimately you're sacrificing your personal long-term happiness to remain in a less than ideal situation. Self-help gurus and therapists probably won't tell you this. Most people would agree it's preferable to accept less than what you need than to risk everything and potentially be completely unhappy. But I think they're wrong. Let me assure you, losing everything is not the worst that can happen. It's really more redirecting you to the path that will lead to happiness. If you think you don't have it in you to make radical changes in your life, why don't you try and prove yourself wrong? A friend once said to me "I wish I was strong like you, but I'm too afraid to change." Again, I have to say, REALLY? How do you think you get strong? Each time you face your fears and do EXACTLY what you're trying to avoid ("Oh no, I CAN'T quit my job/leave my husband/stand up to my parents/be seen with those people/speak up at work/ETC.") you get stronger. You'll get through it. No matter how hard it is. 
Someone I know died in a car accident two days ago and he was an amazing person who lived a life with purpose and passion. I think of all the people he inspired, myself included, and I can't help but wonder: imagine if he had never taken a risk to start his own business teaching people how to be healthy by eating raw foods. Imagine if he had just played it safe, living unhealthfully like everyone else. Imagine if he had said, "nope, I could never do that." And believed it. How many people would not have healed themselves by changing their diet if they hadn't learned from him? 
If you've read this far, ask yourself these questions: What would your life be like if you continue to play it safe? What would your life be like if you do what you think is impossible? Which is preferable?
Live bold and brave. Today and every day. Because it could end any moment, and if you wait until you're ready, you may never get the chance.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Recipe: Gluten-free Vegan Blueberry Streusel Muffins

If your freezer is filled with bags of pick-your-own blueberries, this is the recipe you'll want to make when the weather starts getting cooler and you're missing the dog days of summer.  It's the perfect amount of sweetness that makes for a light dessert or yummy breakfast with a cup of hot coffee or chai tea.  The added crunch of toasted almond coconut streusel contrasts with the moist crumble of the cake, giving a very satisfying chew.

I returned to the set of WWLP-TV's "Mass Appeal" in Springfield, MA to demonstrate how to make this delicious recipe. You can see how easy it is to make this recipe by clicking on this link.

With just a 1/2 cup of oil, these muffins are low in fat and their sweetness comes in part from apple sauce mixed into the wet ingredients.  You can probably substitute more applesauce and make them entirely fat-free.

Enjoy some today!

Gluten-free Vegan Blueberry Muffins with Toasted Coconut Almond Streusel
For the Muffins:
1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 cup organic cane sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 Tbl ground flax seed mixed with 5 Tbl water
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 Tbl vanilla
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup frozen blueberries
For the Streusel:
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3 Tbl organic cane sugar
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup shredded coconut
pinch of sea salt
1-2 Tbl melted coconut oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine Streusel ingredients in a small bowl then set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, garbanzo flour, tapioca starch, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, sea salt and cinnamon. Add oil, applesauce, flax seed mixture, almond milk, vanilla and almond extracts and whisk together until combined. The batter should be thick but spoonable. Carefully fold in frozen blueberries. Line muffin tins with papers. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop batter into the papers. Sprinkle about 1 tsp of streusel topping over each muffin and lightly press down to ensure topping adheres to batter. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until tops are springy and sides of muffins are lightly browned. Cool for 5-10 minutes in the pans, then transfer to cooling rack to continue cooling completely. Sprinkle with a pinch of sugar before serving.