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Prayer: For Those Struggling With Body Image


Earlier this week, I was rereading my "Give Me Jesus" journal and was touched by my own words that I had written to God in the previous week. It was like I was reading someone else's words as I could barely remember writing this prayer myself. Maybe it's because my quiet time with the Lord is very early in the morning, sometimes before my first cup of coffee, or maybe it's because I have a serious case of Mommy Brain, or maybe God just wanted to stir my heart again.

I usually keep my own struggles between me and the Lord, but all week God has been telling me that I needed to share this prayer with others. 

Maybe you're feeling the same way I am currently feeling, or just need a little encouragement to surrender it all to God, but here's the prayer that I wrote to God last week. I hope it touches your heart in the same way it keeps touching mine, every time I read it. 

Heavenly Father,
Today I am struggling with my body. I don't quite understand why my body has gained so much weight and doesn't want to let it go. I eat healthfully, trying to honor my body, my temple, that You have given me.

Lord, Your word says that my joy, my happiness, comes from You - not my dress size. As I refocus my energy on You, please take care of the rest?

I want to focus my energy, my mind, on things that matter to You God. Give me Your eyes so I can see as You see, Lord.

And allow my heart to be filled with love, peace, and forgiveness, not just towards others but towards myself too.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

XOXO,
SMP

Light & Crispy Yuca Fries Recipe



You want to make these yuca fries. Like now. Fresh yuca (not to be confused with yucca) can be a bit intimidating at first, but this life is all about conquering fears and stepping into the unknown. So, let's get started.

You can find fresh yuca in the produce section of your local supermarket, probably near other vegetables popular in Latino cuisine, like plantains and batatas. They have a dark, waxy skin and should be pretty inexpensive per pound. Be sure to pick yucas that are firm (no squishy parts) and are uniform in shape to help the peeling process.

Once home, unless you have a really good vegetable peeler, it is a little hard to get through that tough, wazy skin. What I have been doing lately is scoring the yuca, diagonally across and all around, and then from the top, peeling the thick layer of skin off. If you follow me on Instagram, I posted a short video on how it works.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BB0CJVJRZeR/?taken-by=considertheleafturned


It's not a perfect process, but once you get it going, it saves a lot of time and effort and you're left with a pretty piece of yuca. You can also buy already peeled yuca in the frozen section (with the other Goya products), but you're going to pay a premium.

Once you have that baby peeled, cut into large chunks, and you're ready to start this recipe for the most delicious, crispy, and perfect yuca fries in all the land.


LIGHT & CRISPY YUCA FRIES RECIPE

Recipe Ingredients

1 large yuca, peeled and chopped into large chunks
water for boiling
sea salt
2 bay leaves
oil, for frying (avocado oil is our preference)
Homemade Adobo for seasoning

Recipe Directions

1. Peel the yuca as described above and cut into large chunks.
2. Put the yuca in a large pot, cover with cold water, add a few pinches of salt and 2 bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Boil for about 30 minutes.
3. Carefully, remove the yuca from the pot and let cool.
4. Again, carefully cut the boiled yuca into fry shapes. Wedge shape works pretty well.
5. Heat a heavy bottomed skillet (like a cast iron) over medium heat, and add a thin layer of avocado oil (or cooking fat of choice).
6. Once the oil is glistening, using tongs, carefully place the yuca fries into the hot oil, working in batches and not overcrowding the pan.
7. Pan fry the yuca until golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes a side.
8. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and season with a few pinches of Adobo.
9. Enjoy!  

Note: If you feel as though this is too labor intensive to do all in one sitting, feel free to complete steps 1-3 during a meal prep session and store in a glass container in the fridge. Once you're ready to make the fries, pull out of the fridge and continue with steps 4-9!

XOXO,
SMP

Asian Inspired Sautéed Kale and Red Cabbage Recipe


I love sautéed greens and cabbage, which I would have never known until I started eating more vegetables and greens when we started living this Whole30/Paleo lifestyle. 

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you've seen a ton of variations of my sautéed cabbage and greens. I usually always add fresh garlic and some acid in the form of balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice (or both!) and something salty like prosciutto. 

This morning, I wanted something a little different so I ventured into making this dish with some Asian inspired flavors. The coconut aminos is a great paleo substitute for soy sauce and it takes the place of the vinegar and something salty that I usually like to add. The combination of the coconut aminos and the orange juice, garlic, and ginger really work so well together and transform this dish into something new and exciting. Topping with the sesame seeds and chopped cashews is a nice way to add some crunch and a little fat for satiety. 

I paired my sautéed veggies with a couple eggs and it was a perfect, complete meal! 

ASIAN INSPIRED SAUTÉED KALE & RED CABBAGE RECIPE

Recipe Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale, cleaned, and roughly chopped
1 cup of red cabbage, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, small dice
2 tbsp avocado oil
Pinch or two of sea salt
1 garlic clove
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp coconut aminos 
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ginger (fresh or ground)
Small handful of chopped cashews, for topping
Sesame seeds, for topping

Recipe Directions:

1. Wash and prep your kale, red cabbage, and onion, removing stems from kale and roughly chopping everything into bite sized pieces. Make sure to dice the onion pretty small so it cooks quickly. 
2. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and add about 2 tbsp avocado oil to the pan.
3. Add the red cabbage and onion, a pinch or two of sea salt,  and sauté for about 5 minutes. 
4. Add kale, garlic, orange juice, and coconut aminos and stir to combine. 
5. Continue to sauté until veggies are cooked to your liking, usually around 5-10 more minutes. I like my kale and cabbage to still have a bit of a bite to them and not too soft.
6. Season with pepper and ginger. Do a taste test and determine if a pinch of salt is in order or not. The coconut aminos should be enough, but you won't know until you taste! 
7. Top with sesame seeds and chopped cashews and enjoy! This could be enough for two servings or one serving for a hungry mama, like me!

Let me know what you think!

XOXO,
SMP

Thrive Market - My New Favorite Way to Shop & Save!

http://go.thrv.me/aff_c?offer_id=6&aff_id=7914

Last week I announced how excited I am to be partnering with Thrive Market to bring all of you the best in healthy living products - at 25-50% off retail value! And the excitement continues :)

(Check out the link at the bottom of this page, for how to save even more!)

For those that don't know, Thrive Market offers the best-selling natural and organic products at wholesale prices.

THINK COSTCO MEETS WHOLE FOODS, ONLINE!

Ever since we started on our paleo/real food journey, we noticed our grocery bill start to climb as we were looking for the highest quality products out there to support our health. Along with the grocery bill was the gas bill, because I was often driving further away from home and to multiple natural food stores, looking for specialty items. Well now, Thrive Market is here to solve both of those problems. Now, I can shop in my pajamas, at any time of day, and pay wholesale prices for things like coconut butter and grassfed collagen! It really is a win-win!

http://go.thrv.me/aff_c?offer_id=6&aff_id=7914
  

So how does Thrive Market work?

It's pretty simple actually. 

On Thrive Market you can shop the best-selling health and wellness products from the top natural brands on the market in everyday sizes, always at 25-50% below traditional retail prices.

Thrive Market members do pay a low annual fee of $59.95 (that’s less than $5 a month). This membership model allows them to sell the best healthy products at true wholesale prices and pass all the savings directly to members. In my first order, I've already saved the amount I paid in the membership, so I know this will be a huge benefit for the rest of the year.

And they don't just have random stuff either - Thrive Market makes it easy to get everything you need in one place. They have GMO-free food, snacks, vitamins, supplements, personal care products, cleaning supplies, beauty products, kitchen staples, pantry essentials, baby food and products and much, much more. I've only really scratched the surface in browsing their available products. 

Want to know the coolest part of this all? For every paid membership, Thrive Market donates a free membership to a low income American family so we can all thrive together. So. Awesome. 

But what about shipping? Isn't that going to cost me a fortune? 

Nope! On every order $49+, shipping is FREE. Always! 

Want to give it a try, but don't really want to commit to a yearly membership just yet? 

No fear! 

By visiting Thrive Market using any of the links in this blog post, you can get a free 30 day trial membership! And the clock doesn't start ticking until your first order is placed! So you can browse for a few days without it counting towards your 30 days, which is exactly what I did :). 

Anything else I should know?

Yes! You will also receive 25% off your first purchase, so make that first purchase a good one! 




http://go.thrv.me/aff_c?offer_id=6&aff_id=7914



Herb Roasted Vegetables with Homemade Pork Sausage Recipe

This recipe is such an easy and delicious meal that can be whipped up on meal prep nights and enjoyed the rest of the week, at any time of day! On its own or topped with an over easy egg for breakfast, it's all good.

Herbes de Provence is my absolute favorite seasoning blend for roasted vegetables. I literally put that on any vegetable and it tastes SO GOOD.

This would also make a wonderful side dish for your upcoming Thanksgiving or Christmas meals! 

Herb Roasted Vegetables with Homemade Pork Sausage Recipe
*FOR THE VEGGIES*

Recipe Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
2-3 apples, diced
2-3 carrots, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 tbsp Herbes de Provence
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp or more ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Avocado oil or cooking fat of choice

Recipe Directions:


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Dice up the butternut squash, apples, carrots, and onion.
3. Toss with avocado oil (or cooking fat of choice) and season to taste (or use general guidelines above) with sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, Herbes de Provence, and ground cinnamon.
4. Roast for about 30 minutes.

*FOR THE HOMEMADE PORK SAUSAGE*

Recipe Ingredients:

1 lb ground pork
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Avocado oil or cooking fat of choice

Recipe Directions:

1. While the veggies are roasting, heat a skillet over medium heat and add a bit of cooking fat (as ground pork can be pretty lean) and the ground pork.

2. Crumble with a wooden spoon and season with 1 TSP each of sea salt, black pepper, ground mustard, ground sage, and paprika.

3. Continue to cook until no longer pink and cooked through.


Once the vegetables are done roasting and the ground pork sausage is cooked, combine both into a bowl and enjoy!

Until next time,
SMP

Quick Burn At Home Workout: 21-15-9


Looking for a quick workout to do at home? I just completed this little full body burner during Isabelle's nap and I feel good! The objective is to complete this as quickly as possible, completing 21 reps of each exercise, then 15 reps each, then 9 reps each. I finished in 2 mins and 40 seconds and I was sweating!

 If you want a little more, you could take a 1 minute break, and do it all over again and try to finish faster than your first round. I did take the time to complete a warm up (jumping jacks and mountain climbers) and finished up with some stretching. 

Give this quick burn workout a try and post your time in the comments. It should only take a few minutes - you could even do it while you're waiting for your lunch to warm up! 

XOXO, 
SMP

Balsamic Lime Roasted Chicken Recipe


"Hmm, I could really go for some Balsamic Chicken," I thought to myself one day as I quickly looked through my kitchen to see what ingredients I had on hand. I didn't have what I needed for my Pomegranate Balsamic Chicken but I had enough to hopefully make something delicious. I also only had a pack of bone-in split chicken breasts and drumsticks so I knew my typical method of cooking on the stove top wasn't going to work. Lo and behold, this recipe was born and it was so incredibly delicious. The fresh lime at the end adds a subtle zing that I loved. Isabelle, my almost 2 year old, also couldn't stop asking for more.

BALSAMIC LIME ROASTED CHICKEN

Recipe Ingredients 
About 4 lbs of bone-in chicken pieces (I used 2 split breasts and 4 drumsticks)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 TSP salt
1 TSP pepper
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, finely chopped 
1 lime, juiced 
Chopped fresh basil, to garnish

Recipe Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. Prepare marinade by whisking together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary.
  3. In a large baking dish or roasting pan, add your chicken pieces. Pour marinade over chicken and toss to coat.
  4. Roast the chicken uncovered for about 45 minutes, until just cooked through.
  5. Carefully transfer the chicken to a clean plate and again, very carefully pour the remaining cooking liquid left in the pan into a small saucepan. If you have a lot of excess oil, you'll want to skim from the top. 
  6. Add in the juice from one lime and boil until the sauce reduces by about half and thickens to coat the back of a spoon. This can take about 6-8 minutes.
  7. Pour the balsamic lime reduction over the chicken and sprinkle with fresh basil.
Enjoy!

Until next time,
SMP

Creamy Beet Salad with Basil Mint Dressing


Gorgeous beets are in season right now and if you're thinking of a new way to enjoy these nutritious and colorful vegetables, then this recipe is for you. Beets are an excellent source of folate, and a good source of manganese, potassium, copper, fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, and vitamin B6. They are also a healthy dose of carbs, if you're looking to add some variety to your real food plate. So pick up a bundle or two during your next trip to the farmers market and bring this salad to your next summer cookout. Or eat it all yourself in the comfort of your home. Both options are totally acceptable.

Now this beet salad is super simple and the key is the creamy, flavorful dressing. The dressing is based on Planks, Love, and Guacamole's ranch dressing (which I LOVE and make every week!), but I add lots of fresh basil and mint for a unique flavor combination.

Creamy Basil Mint Dressing
Based on Planks, Love, and Guacamole's "Best Ranch Dressing EVER"

Recipe Ingredients:
2/3 cup of light tasting olive oil
1 egg
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
handful of fresh basil
handful of fresh mint

Recipe Directions:
1. In a wide-mouth mason jar, add the egg and red wine vinegar. Let sit for 15-30 minutes to bring the egg to room temp.
2. Add spices and herbs to the jar and blend, using a stick immersion blender for about 30 seconds.
3. Measure out 2/3 cup of LIGHT TASTING olive oil and slowly add to the jar while you keep the immersion blender going. Within a couple of minutes, you should have a beautiful emulsion resulting in a creamy, delicious dressing. Taste test and add more herbs, if a stronger flavor is desired.

Creamy Beet Salad with Basil Mint Dressing Recipe

Recipe Ingredients:
3 large beets
2 tbsp Creamy Basil Mint Dressing (see above)
water, for boiling
1/2 tbsp of fresh mint, chopped
1/2 tbsp of fresh basil, chopped
pinch of salt

Recipe Directions:
1. Chop off the beet greens and save for later*. Thoroughly wash beets, but you don't have to peel them yet.
2. In a large pot, boil the beets until fork tender. This could take anywhere from 45 - 75 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. I usually start testing at minute 45 and then every 15 minutes after that until cooked through.
3. Carefully transfer the beets to cold water to speed up the process of being able to handle them safely, without burning yourself.
4. Using a bunch of paper towels, carefully rub off the skin of the beets. The skin should easily come off and into the paper towels, without turning your hands bloody red.
5. Once peeled, dice up beets and place into a large bowl. Add about 2 tbsp of the Creamy Basil Mint Dressing and stir. Feel free to add more dressing, if you'd like.
6. Stir in the fresh herbs, saving a bit for garnish on top. Add a pinch or two of salt and you should be good to go!
7. Enjoy!

 *I will be posting a delicious recipe for sauteed beet greens soon. Think bacon and garlic! Yum!

XOXO,
SMP


Paleo Sesame Chicken Recipe


I've always had a soft spot for Chinese takeout, but ever since we started following a Whole30/Paleo diet, we have limited our intake to very infrequent occasions. It would always taste great in the moment, but later on we would feel sick to our stomach and wonder why we ordered it to begin with. This recipe, however, is equally delicious and leaves you feeling great and ready to continue on your health journey with no interruptions, no tummyaches, and no guilt.

The last couple of weeks I've been experimenting with using Coconut Aminos to create a clean, guilt free sauce I could use for quick stir fry dinners. The taste reminded me of Chinese takeout so I started to research how to make "Chinese Style Chicken" recipes like sweet and sour, orange, and sesame chicken. I took a little bit from a couple of different recipes and landed with this deliciously clean, Paleo, and Whole30* approved version of what reminds me of Sesame Chicken. 

*If you have a serious obsession with Chinese takeout, this could be considered "swypo", as per the Whole30 guidelines. To me, it's just a healthier version of a popular dish and I would have no problem eating it during a Whole30 along side plenty of veggies or over some salad greens. Your call though.

The method to making this dish taste legit may sound a little labor intensive, but it's actually quite easy. I decided to show the steps in pictures, so you can get a good idea of what is happening along the way. Succinct instructions will follow at the end :)

Paleo Sesame Chicken Recipe - Step by Step!

1. Make your sauce: in a food processor or blender, combine coconut aminos (soy sauce substitute), orange juice, fresh garlic, and fresh ginger. Set aside.
Use a piece of fresh, peeled piece of ginger the size of about your thumb or 1 inch.

Coconut Aminos, garlic, ginger, and orange juice about to be blended up!

2. Prep Chicken: cut about 2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs into bite sized pieces and place into a large ziploc bag. I was able to cut each chicken thigh into about 6 pieces.

I know, raw chicken isn't pretty, but you get the idea.
3. Coat chicken: Add 1/2 cup of arrowroot flour/starch to the chicken pieces, zip up the bag, and shake what your mama gave ya until all pieces are well coated.

This is the kind of arrowroot flour I buy - it's relatively inexpensive compared to other flour substitutes and works perfectly for this recipe.

This is what your chicken pieces should look like after a good shake with the arrowroot flour.
4.  Heat up a bit of avocado oil (or other healthy oil of your choice) over medium to medium high heat in a large heavy pan. You want the oil pretty hot, but not burning.

5. Egg bath: While the oil is heating, in a shallow dish, beat 3 large eggs and toss the chicken pieces, in batches, to coat on all sides. Once each batch is coated with the egg, you'll want to proceed to step 6 and then back again to step 5 for each batch.
Coat each chicken piece in the egg on all sides, working in batches, and proceeding to the next step.

6. Once the oil is hot, fry each chicken piece until golden brown on each side, about 30 seconds a side. You are not trying to fully cook the chicken, just create a nice crust. Work in batches and repeat Step 5 & 6 until all pieces are fried.

You're looking for that nice golden brown, crispy but chewy crust.

Transfer each batch to a plate and continue to repeat steps 5 and 6 until all pieces are fried.
7. Clean your pan: I'm a big fan of limiting the number of pans to wash, so I recommend you carefully wipe out the pan you were working in so that you can use the same pan for the rest of the recipe.
I use a pair of tongs and some paper towels to wipe out any excess oil left in the pan.
8. Combine everything: Over medium heat, pour in the sauce we created in Step 1. Let it come to a simmer and then nestle all of the fried chicken pieces back into the pan.

Fried chicken pieces simmering in the sauce.

9. Simmer and watch sauce reduce: Simmer chicken, uncovered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and sauce has reduced to the nice thick sauce you would expect from Chinese takeout. Then, liberally sprinkle sesame seeds over cooked chicken.

Here the chicken is completely cooked through and the sauce has reduced to a nice thick sauce. I then sprinkled the sesame seeds all over.
10. Spoon your Paleo Sesame Chicken into a bowl with roasted vegetables or on top of a salad for a complete meal. Garnish with fresh scallions and enjoy!


Paleo Sesame Chicken Recipe

Recipe Ingredients:
1.5 - 2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup of arrowroot flour
3 large eggs
Avocado oil, enough to coat a pan and fry all pieces

For the Sauce:
3/4-1 cup Coconut Aminos (Use the lesser if you have 1.5 lbs instead of 2 lbs of chicken, and/or you prefer things a little less salty)
1 cup orange juice, no sugar added, all natural 
4 garlic cloves
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled, about the size of your thumb

Garnish:
Sesame seeds
Chopped fresh scallions

Recipe Directions:

1. Make your sauce: in a food processor or blender, combine coconut aminos (soy sauce substitute), orange juice, fresh garlic, and fresh ginger. Set aside.

2. Prep chicken: cut about 2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs into bite sized pieces and place into a large ziploc bag. I was able to cut each chicken thigh into about 6 pieces.

 3. Coat chicken: Add 1/2 cup of arrowroot flour/starch to the chicken pieces, zip up the bag, and shake what your mama gave ya, until all pieces are well coated.

4.  Heat up a bit of avocado oil (or other healthy oil of your choice) over medium to medium high heat in a large heavy pan. You want the oil pretty hot, but not burning.

5. Egg bath: While the oil is heating, in a shallow dish beat 3 large eggs and toss the chicken pieces, in batches, to coat on all sides. Once each batch is coated with the egg, you'll want to proceed to step 6 and then back again to step 5 for each batch.

6. Once the oil is hot, fry each chicken piece until golden brown on each side, about 30 seconds a side. You are not trying to fully cook the chicken, just create a nice crust. Work in batches and repeat Step 5 & 6 until all pieces are fried.

7. Clean your pan: I'm a big fan of limiting the number of pans to wash, so I recommend you carefully wipe out the pan you were working in so that you can use the same pan for the rest of the recipe.

8. Combine everything: Over medium heat, pour in the sauce we created in Step 1 into the cleaned out pan. Let it come to a simmer and then nestle all of the fried chicken pieces back into the pan.

9. Simmer and watch sauce reduce: Simmer chicken, uncovered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through and sauce has reduced to the nice thick sauce you would expect from Chinese takeout. Then, liberally sprinkle sesame seeds over cooked chicken.

10. Spoon your Paleo Sesame Chicken into a bowl with roasted vegetables or on top of a salad for a complete meal. Garnish with fresh scallions and enjoy!

Try this recipe and let me know what you think!

Until next time!

XOXO,
SMP