Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy, Healthy New Year!!!!

I am starting the new year off with the intention to heal myself through my diet. I am pretty good at doing this already but I have a few pesky health issues that are putting up a good fight so I am making some monumental (for me) changes to my diet. It might not be easy for me but I am determined to be my own first success story, well second really. Paul out lived the given prognosis of 3 to 6 months by a lot. He lived, well, for 2 1/2 years with stage IV , metastatic pancreatic cancer. Diet, a positive, healthy lifestyle and attitude were how we did it. It took a lot of self determination, studying and strength but it made a miracle and now it is time for me to do it again for myself with my knew and improved knowledge. Studying to be a Holistic (mind, body, spirit) Nutritionist is tough, time consuming, rewarding and so satisfying because I am learning the most fascinating things about our physiology and how we are made to work in the natural world. We are truly amazing beings that exist in partnership with every living thing on this planet. We are the natural world it is not separate from us and we need it to survive. We must clean it up and start giving a damn for real.
I am no longer a vegan but remain a vegetarian for now. I have no plans or desire to eat animal flesh but am so strongly considering a bone broth once a month for 1 week. I have already added raw goat cheese, duck eggs and pasture butter into my diet. I am fortunate because I live in food heaven. It is easy to get raw, local dairy here as well as local, pastured, organic animal products. I happen to be volunteering for and learning from an amazing chef that prepares foods in their traditional ways and this includes bone broths. She is known for the bone broths she makes and I am glad to be able to get them from her so that I do not have to make them at home. If I am going to try to eat it I can't, in all honesty, bear the thought of making it myself at home. Although I have helped her with it once so far and did not go screaming out of the kitchen.
These decisions on my dietary changes have resulted from hours of contemplation and study. Everything in my studies tells me to do these things and get the healing wheels rolling. If I have learned anything in the past few years it is that my health is my number one priority and I have much influence over it. We all need to realize this. What we put into our bodies, on our bodies, our mental attitudes, our emotional sense of well being and exercise all play a role in our physical health. These things are of the great importance and should never be made low priority.
I do want to make an important point: Animals food products must come from organic, pasture raised sources in order to be healthy. If they don't it is a safe assumption that they are not healthy. Preferably these farms are local and of course they should use humane practices.
Also, please avoid, at all costs, vegetable oils and refined sugars. Olive Oil is good to finish a recipe or make a salad dressing. Coconut oil or pasture butter to cook with. It is that simple but these two things are in just about everything that is prepackaged, precooked and fried so be a label reader and ask questions when ordering. There is vegetable oil (safflower oil) in many rice milks on the shelves. Evaporated cane juice is a refined sugar and it is in most prepacked things at all grocery stores. Vegetables oils are corn, soybean, canola, sunflower, safflower, grape seed and cottonseed oils. If you would like to read a fascinating nutrition book that will go into depth on these two health bombs check out Deep Nutrition Why Your Genes Need Traditional Foods by Catherine Shanahan, MD
You will most likely have to order this book from a site like Amazon.
Happy, Healthy New Year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Buddhist's a good thing

I had a heart opening teaching at Sangha last night that was like a light bulb turning on very brightly. I love when those moments happen. We are having Dharma lessons and discussions on the 4 Noble Truths. Last night the focus was on the first Noble Truth which is suffering. In my experience many people that do not practice Buddhism have heard of this one and interpret what they have heard as Buddhist believe that all of life is suffering. This is not true. We do acknowledge that suffering has many contexts and it happens. We recognize it as part of this life. I actually find some peace and freedom in this acknowledgement. It means I no longer have to pretend and that despite the Western ideal that everything is good or supposed to be good all of the time I can say no that is not true and that is ok. I wish everyone could feel the weight being lifted when we understand and believe that we have the freedom and the right to feel bad, scream and cry. We also have the ability to identify the cause of our suffering and to do something to change it and find the path that leads us away from it so that we do not dwell in it.
Out Sangha teacher gave an analogy that struck a chord in me pretty heavy and that I cannot get out of my head. She heard it said that suffering is like an arrow. The first one comes and we were possibly blindsided by it but the next ones come by our own doing. Reliving the cause of our suffering is like shooting another arrow in ourselves. We need to find its' nature and let it be. This quote by our teacher Tich Nhat Hanh sums up the most beautiful way I have found to deal with my own suffering. “Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.” So much suffering occurs as a result of living in the past and straining for the future. It does not make sense to look backwards while moving forward or to look to what has not happened yet to make things better right now. I know that I long for my husband deeply and in my times of deep suffering I mourn what might or could have been if Paul was still of this physical world. I have had to try to let go of the dreams we shared as husband and wife for our lives together. Just typing that causes me pain. I have to do it though because I am still here and I have a life to live. I do not want to feel bad and cry all of the time. I do admit that there are times when that is all I want to do. Oddly, it is comforting. It is real. There is truth in it that is liberating but that truth also exists in me moving forward and seeing the beauty of everyday. It honors Paul and our life together as well as myself and my life now.
Without my Zen Buddhist practice I could not have made it after Paul died. I did not have the belief in myself that it has giving me. I am so grateful to Paul for deciding that we were going to find a spiritual path that fit us and taking me to our first Sangha gathering in Kansas City. It changed our lives for the better forever. In good times and in bad I am committed to this practice because I am committed to myself. This is the path that leads me away from suffering.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


It is that time of the year when visions of sparkly, frosted sugar cookies dance in our heads rather than sugar plums. Cookie exchange parties are happening, Christmas potlucks, family and friends gathering to bake, kids waiting to see what Santa's cookies are going to look and taste like this year. since it is also a busy time of the year I wanted to share an easy, no-bake, vegan chocolate cookie recipe in Delicious Living magazine that rocks. I just made two dozen for a party I am going to tomorrow and it might have taken a total of 10 minutes. Sure these are not frosted, sparkling with colored sugar crystals or in the shape of trees but they taste fabulous. So, I thought I would share this recipe for Cocoa-Almond No-Bake Cookies,

1 cup of a sweetener of some kind. (I used agave Nectar b/c I already had it)
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
6 tbs. unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp. sea salt.
Bring these ingredients to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 90 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in:
2 1/2 cups quick cook (rolled oats)
3/4 cup almond butter
1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 tbs. vanilla extract
Mix well and roll a spoonful between your palms to form a ball. Place them on parchment paper and chill for 30 minutes.

We are not talking about buying Nestle cocoa powder to make these. Go to the health food store and get real cocoa powder that comes from the cacao nibs. Also, while you are there look for gluten free rolled oats to make these a gluten free treat. Most rolled oats are rolled in gluten, I have no idea why, so unless they specify that they are gluten free assume they are not.
Eating healthier does not mean giving up taste or tradition. It does mean being open minded and ready to feel your best. This is the best gift you can give to yourself.

I could not access the magazine's website to post the link but you can usually find this magazine at health food stores for free.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lima Beans are our Friends

As a child I can remember dreading any dinner that consisted of Lima beans. I did not like them and they would be on my plate like taunting little characters because I had to eat them. My attitude towards them changed only very recently after doing a little homework for myself on traditional foods I could add into my vegetarian diet. Specifically I am looking for foods containing protein, B vitamins and iron. My little legume tormentors turn out to be my legume friends. I want them to be yours too, especially if you are eating a vegan or vegetarian diet. These beans have everything I am looking for plus potassium, phosphorus and fiber. I have yet to find them fresh so I am buying them frozen. The cooking time on the bags I have bought seem excessive. I am trying to simplify my eating habits so a little sea salt is all I have been putting on them and that works for me.
Try adding the Lima bean to your weekly menu. Your body will be happy that you did. A happy body = a healthy you!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What it's HONESTLY like to be a widow

Last Week I was asked what is was really like to lose my husband and if I actually did find comfort in believing that his spirit is always with me. I thought this was very gutsy and interesting because I do not know the woman who asked these questions well at all. It also got me thinking that a lot of people probably want to know the answers to these questions but think they should not ask so I am going to answer them in this blog.
The morning Paul died I was ripped in half. One part of me was taken away forever, never to be seen again and one part of me was still here. I had/have to figure out how to make it feeling incomplete. The pain both emotional and physical is indescribable. Yes I have physical issues as a result. Sometimes it literally feels like I am going about my business but something is missing. I double check that I have my wallet, my keys, my gloves, etc. and then I realize I am not OCD, I am missing my husband. As for the finding comfort in believing that his spirit is always with me, well yes, I definitely find comfort in that knowledge. However, I have a deep spiritual belief that affords me this. I do not think death is a bad thing. It is part of living and part of the circle of life. So I believe my husband has closed is physical circle as we all will at some point and is enjoying the freedom of the next life. I get signs from him constantly and I admit that I might make some of them up in my head but that is ok. I know he takes care of me and is with me always. I talk to him everyday, usually in the car. Thank God for the popularity of Blue Tooth and speaker on our cell phones so people driving by me have no idea that I am talking away to my dead husband. This comfort and belief is the only reason I get out of bed each morning. It would be very very easy to dwell in the muck & negative but that would be disrespectful to me and to my husband. We all die and if we fall in love with someone we are choosing to take the risk that one day we will loose them. The key is that one of us is still here and we have a life to continue living and we must live it. Our loved one wants us to.
Is love worth the pain, of course it is if it is true and real. That love & pain brings lessons and freedom that cannot be attained in any other way.
It is a choice how we deal with the passing of the ones we love and adore. It hurts and is sometimes unbelievable as much, if not more now, almost 16 months from the day, than it did the week after he died. But I see how far I have come and the miracles that have blessed my life and I know I can move forward positively with my husband taking care of me in a different way.
Being a widow is the toughest thing I have experienced but it has taught me who I am and who my true family and friends are. I would do anything, give up everything to have Paul back at my side in this world but that is not going to happen. I have to live with that everyday and figure out how to make that ok.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Raw Cranberry "Fluff"

Put away that can opener and give real raw cranberries a chance this year. I just whipped up an easy and yes, fluffy, cranberry dish without the heavy cream, marshmallows and cups of sugar. I did not expect to get a fluffy Pink/Purple result but it tastes awesome and is pretty to look at. I used Oregon grown cranberries because they are supposed to be sweeter and for me they are local. They are sweeter but still a little tart.
Any time you zest citrus it must be organic. I only use organic foods.
I just made this one up so my measurements are not to be followed to the tee. Do them to your taste. This is a good rule of thumb for any recipe.

You do need a food processor to make this recipe.

2 cups Oregon cranberries
2 cups walnut halves
1/2 to 1 tsp. agave nectar
1/8 tsp. orange zest (You know I did not measure this. I just grated it over the bowl)
Juice of 1/2 a large Valencia orange

Put all of these ingredients into the food processor with the S blade and process. You should start to see it all turning pink at the bottom. Stop and scrap the ingredients down the inside of the processor bowl. Do a taste test. Does it need a bit more orange juice or agave nectar? You can always throw an apple in there instead of more agave nectar. Start again on low and just watch it until you have a bowl of pink/purple fluff. There will be some chunks of walnut and maybe cranberries too. Do a last time taste test and then spoon it out into a bowl.
So good and so good for you! No more can openers necessary :}

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The concept of giving thanks should go beyond one holiday and be celebrated daily. It should mean more than pumpkin pie, although being thankful for pumpkin pie is a given, and eating to the point of having to unbutton our pants to be comfortable. Having an attitude of gratitude is a way of life and I know it has changed mine. When I get weighed down and feel like I am sinking I implore my attitude of gratitude to pull me out of the muck. I say out loud for the Universe, God, Higher Power whatever you call it, and myself to hear at least ten things that I am grateful for in that moment. It works every time. No matter how crappy I feel or how much of the short end of the stick I think I have gotten I can always come up with ten things, usually more than ten. I admit that I consciously look for them every day. I will give an example of my ten or so for tonight:
A few days ago I had a paper grocery bag full of glass that I was taking to a recycling area at a local store. This area is in the parking lot, a very busy parking lot. A homeless man was there and saw that I just had one bag so he let me go ahead of him. None of my glass was accepted because it was all tea bottles. I have no idea why that matters. So as I was walking back to my car with my bag of glass the bottom falls out and glass shattered every where. I had no idea what to do. The homeless guy saw this and came over with a broom from his cart and a piece of cardboard and started sweeping it up. He asked for nothing. I am thankful for that man.
Tonight I attended a vegan Thanksgiving potluck for 250 people. I went with some friends from my Sangha. We sat at a table with some lovely strangers and chowed down on wonderfully yummy food. I am thankful for this holiday event and the chance to spend it with friends and strangers. I am also thankful to have had four tables full of yummy, vegan food, no questions or snide remarks about why I won't eat the turkey.
I am thankful for my Sangha and the friendships that I have from it in my life. They are like my Portland family.
This morning I had breakfast with a good friend and we had a nice time just talking. I am thankful for this person in my life and our friendship.
I have a new great niece and another due to arrive any day. I am thankful for these adorable, new family members.
I am moving to a bigger apartment that I will share with a dear friend. I am grateful to be able to make this move in all respects and for my friend being willing to live with me.
My mom recently celebrated her 80th birthday. I am thankful for my mother and her unconditional love and support. I am thankful for her health. I am thankful that my family in Kansas City all got together to celebrate with her.

It really is not hard to walk around with an attitude of gratitude everyday. It is a choice. I say this very confidently because after suffering through a near fatal illness with a few lingering side effects, my husband being diagnosed with stage IV cancer and passing at the age of 41 and my dad passing on my birthday in between those first two events, I could very easily dwell in the muck. I chose a different path in dealing with these things and it serves me well.
Make a list this week and say it out loud as you eat your second helping of turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.
Happy Thanksgiving everyday!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What to do with Sunchokes

Today I decided to try something new that I know is a healthy food and have not eaten before. I chose the sunchoke. I have looked at them with interest in the grocery store but did not know what the heck to do with them. In studying the digestive system over the last few months I have learned that they are an important native North American food that aids digestion by providing inulin as a prebiotic to keep our gut flora healthy. I know that is not appetizing but it is important to our overall health to keep those good little buggers happy. I want to start using at least one good prebiotic food in my diet daily. I have seen a few recipes that call for using them raw but have not tried them. You can peel them if you want to but I did not. I have not found info. that says you cannot eat the skins. I think peeling them would be a pain.
*A word of warning. Some people get gas after eating foods rich in inulin
I am leaving measurements and amounts up to you as I was cooking enough for myself.

Sunchokes with vegan garlic, black pepper mayo

coconut oil
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
black pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt, drop the sunchokes in one at a time. Boil them until they can be easily poked into with a fork or knife. I boiled them for about 12 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 and coat a baking dish with coconut oil. Slice the sunchokes lengthwise and lay them in the oil. Put them in the oven to bake until they brown just a little bit, maybe 10 minutes.
Chop your garlic giving it enough time to rest for 10 minutes before consuming. This resting time allows the nutrients to be freed. Just an FYI garlic is also a great source of inulin.
Take the desired amount of veganaise and put it in a bowl with the chopped garlic and black pepper. Mix well.
Serve the sunchokes with the vegan garlic, black pepper mayo.

Try something new and healthy in your diet this week.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Everyday Gifts

Yesterday I met a real cowboy, seriously. To the disappointment of one of my of girlfriends and probably my mom too he was at least twice my age. However he was interesting and amazing to me. My day started off as normal as it always does and as lunch time rolled around I realized I was hungry and did not have much in my kitchen so I decided I would eat at Whole Foods. I considered asking a friend to join me but then I decided not to, I want to go by myself so I did. I was content to enjoy my lunch alone. The store was busy and the tables were filling up so I was happy when I snagged the last one, a four top. After about five minutes an older man in a cowboy hat asked to sit with me and I agreed. He seemed sweet and looked rugged like a cowboy would. We sat in silence for about 5 minutes which is unusual for me. Then a woman needed a place to sit so she sat down across from me. We all sat eating our lunches in silence for about ten minutes and then I had to break that silence. Small talk led to introductions and telling each other where we were from. The cowboy was really a cowboy from central Oregon. He trained horses on ranches and had lived in the state since 1964 by way of Illinois. Pretty soon the woman joining us had to get back to work so that left me and the cowboy to talk. He was a vegetarian, an energy healer and part Native American with a strong belief in the native American spiritual ways and the power of our energy. I had to smile to myself because I too am part Native American and believe strongly in some of the spiritual beliefs of my ancestors as well as in the power of our energy. I also thought it interesting that my solo lunch at Whole Foods turned into a lunch with strangers, one being a vegetarian, energy healing cowboy. He talked about his horses and about how he did energy healing work on these animals as well as on people and about the different forms of energy work he knew and practiced. We spoke about how we have lost culture in our society and respect for the planet and ourselves. We had a great conversation. He told me that he could tell I was a great spirit and that we had something in common when he sat down. Also, that I still had some healing to do and for me it would be free of charge. We sat there for a minute smiling at each other and he handed me his card and was off. I sat there thinking, wow this is no coincidence, this is a lesson and a gift. My mom always says you never know when an angel is around.
Today at yoga my teacher opened with some words of wisdom that were basically that we must honor ourselves and that means doing what is right for us and not pushing into what is wrong for us because we think we are supposed to be a certain way.
A few days ago I spent the afternoon with a great friend who said some words that were like a light bulb going off in my mind and heart. We were walking and talking and I was telling him how I had realized recently that I had allowed fear, anger and worry back in my life. My fear was about being alone and loneliness. He then commented on how I had friends so was it really a fear of no companionship or was it loneliness for my late husband. Duh, that seems so obvious when he said it but until he said it I had not thought about it. I have made some great new friends and have some great friends that I have known for a long time so no it is not a lack of people in my life that scares me. It is the fact that I miss my husband as he was in earthly form. Just understanding that lifts the weight of it and makes it easier to carry.
Also last night I saw a woman, an acquaintance, who is living with cancer. She looked fabulous and says she is feeling great. That made me so happy!!
Everyday is a gift and we never know when, where or from whom those gifts will be given.
Today I was told I was glowing and I had a spark. It is true! Today I feel ALIVE and so appreciative of my gifts and teachers. Today I am living "as if" which means I have faith in myself and in my power and that I realize that I posses everything I need to be happy as the Buddha taught. Today I accept my Buddha nature and I live my life "as if" with my mind and heart wide open.
I invite you to sit with yourself somewhere calm and free of distraction. Think about what you want for yourself. This can be anything but go deeper that materialistic things. Meditate on these for awhile and act "as if" you are them already. We must stop looking outside of ourselves and find a faith and power from within. It is innate!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Just Breathe

Today I have been in peace like I have not experienced in a very long time. I spent this cool,rainy day in my big orange chair in front of my windows reading in my pj's. The book, Dharma Punx, was lent to me by a fellow Sangha member. It is a memoir that I found a lot of insight and "oh yeah" recognition with concerning my own Zen Buddhist Mindfulness practice. This day also offered me time to reflect on my life in the present moment, my experiences, opportunities and expectations. Was I living my mindfulness practice? Why was fear, anger and worry creeping in lately. How was I dealing with it? Was I "doing" instead of "being" and how was that working out for me? My husband, Paul, was my greatest teacher. He began the practice in his life before we really even knew what it was. He wanted a spiritual path. It is an amazing story, it is to me anyway because I watched him transform his life and find peace. Many of the stories in this book reminded me of Paul and that reminded me of things he would say when things got tough and I or people we knew would use excuses not to deal with stuff. His favorite was "and how is that working for you?" So today I posed that question to myself. How is living with fear of being alone, worry about finding a job and anger at people I no longer have in my life or the fact that I almost died but did not and then he did, how is all that working for ya, Keri?" It's not working for me and I know better. I study to have the tools to deal with these things. I have been through the ringer and for the most part come out the other side ready to begin anew. I have lost focus that it is not up to me. I am not in control and I am being taken care of if only I allow it to happen. I have a purpose in this life and I will fulfill it but I need to let it happen and not worry about achieving it. Basically, I need to get out of my own way so that my life can unfold as it is meant to unfold not as I or anyone else thinks it should. In reflecting these teachings are in my life all of the time. One of my dear new friends and I had lunch this week and she was talking to me about many things but the difference between doing and being was one of those things. Another dear friend and I spoke about my fear of being alone and loneliness. She told me that I don't need to work at not being lonely. If people wanted to be part of my life they would make it happen and to have faith in others. They are both so right. I have been putting my fear based intentions out there instead of having faith in me. My practice teaches me to come back to myself and find refuge and revelation from within. It is the truth. My mind and heart feel clearer now. What gifts I was given this past week and just as I needed them. A book, a lunch with a friend and a night time conversation with another friend were my spiritual teachings this week. We never know where these teachings will come from but we must remain open to recognize them when they happen because they might just change your life.
So, how's your spiritual life and how's that working for you?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Juices & Smoothies

Bust out the juicer that is collecting dust and the blender for a green juice smoothie recipe.

First thing you have to do is get your juicer & blender out and ready or if you are one of the "lucky ones" with a VitaMix get her ready to go. For those with a VitaMix you do not have to make the green juice separately because your mighty machine with take everything in its' whole foods form and liquefy it. The choice is yours VitaMixers but for the rest of us we need to make a green juice and add some other ingredients to it in our blenders to get a nice, thick smoothie.

Green Juice (add veggies to your taste the amounts I give are my taste)

1 bunch of kale with stems
1 small bunch of baby broccoli with stems
1 cucumber
1 fist full of parsley
1 med. green apple
1 fist full of dandelion greens
5-6 stalks of celery

Juice these ingredients and transfer the juice to a blender. Add 2 very ripe, small avocado, about 1 cup of ice and 1 cup or so of blueberries or strawberries. Blend on high until thick and do a taste test. Add a few squeezes of lime to taste. I like the bitter green taste so you will need to taste for sweetness and add more berries if necessary for you. Enjoy!

Avocados are awesome in smoothies. When you drink this you can feel good in knowing that you are drinking liquid gold for your body. This smoothie contains ingredients that fight inflammation, cancer and support the liver.
It really is easy to make this and the best thing we can do is play around in the kitchen or experiment. A few squeezes of lemon or lime can cut something that is too salty or bitter. A little more avocado will add thickness and, in my opinion, cuts the strong taste of dark leafy greens. Adjust the apple and berries for sweetness as needed. Make enough for the whole family and let the kiddos help. Store extra in the refrigerator for later or breakfast the next day.
FYI....Green juice makes a nice addition to soups, etc.. Since it is enzymatically alive it is a good idea to make your soup and add the green juice last so it only heats for a few minutes on low.

One more tastey juice suggestion for carrot juice is to add a little cinnamon and nutmeg. Now you have a powerful antiinflammatory juice that tastes similar to pumpkin pie. I picked up that tip from The book Raw Foods Made Easy for 1 or 2 People by Jennifer Cornbleet.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Today my soapbox is a few inches taller and I have a few things to talk about from it.
As cancer and other serious diseases becomes more and more common in our society I think we all need to WAKE UP! It does not matter how old you are, where you live or who your parents are it can happen to you. You see we have lulled ourselves into a state of being that tells us we are infallible and that to be happy and healthy we just need to have the "right" job and work ourselves until we have nothing left, as well as all of the modern "conveniences" to make life easy. These would include chemical cleaners that promise to make the chore faster, never mind that they are full of harmful toxins, meals made from GMO veggies and factory farmed animals because this makes it easier to feed the world's starving population never mind that the animals are toxic, sick, the veggies are mutations and the world's starving populations do not even want these GMO foods, over the counter pills to mask the symptoms of a body in distress, never mind that they will ultimately contribute to illness and never do get to the root cause of what might be wrong and cell phones that can do everything but talk to aliens in space, never mind that the EMF's they give off are strong enough to affect our health. These things are making us sick and dumbing us down. We are buying a life that is of no quality or enjoyment. When you have cancer or any other serious illness these "conveniences" do not matter. Life matters but do we know what that means any more? It means waking up feeling good and hopeful about what possibilities and opportunities await us. It means sharing a real, healthy meal with a good friend(s) and dancing to our favorite songs. It also means taking a walk without a cell phone or ipod attached to our ears and enjoying the beauty around us and seeing the need to preserve it. It means simplify. Of course I am writing this on my laptop so I cannot deny that some modern "conveniences" are advantageous but our overbearing need to live life as dictated to us by them is not. We have to take responsibility for ourselves and the way we live. This means calling a lemon a lemon without excuses. Our lifestyles are one of the biggest risk factors in most all diseases. Stress has become an accepted part of life and that is wrong. Not having time to do the things we enjoy but instead replacing them with the things we have to do is wrong. I guarantee those "have to's" will still be there tomorrow. We need to share ourselves and our lives with each other now maybe not everything but we are all connected and your experiences might give your friend, neighbor, coworker a new perspective that is helpful and vice versa. I use social networking as much as the next person but nothing beats in person communication in my book. I can talk to a stranger till the cows come home and I love doing it. We are social beings. We need to interact with each other. We also need to realize that we have all we need to be happy and we possess the answers that we are searching for elsewhere. We can draw inspiration from each other, a coworker, doctor or spiritual leader but it is up to us to lead our lives as is best for us.
Take responsibility to achieve your given right to health and happiness as an intelligent individual.

Have an empowered day!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Orange Pistachio Quinoa

A few weeks ago I attended a workshop where Jeanne Wallace and Rebecca Katz were the speakers. The workshop was called The Cancer Fighting Kitchen. It was great. The message I took away is that the best way to fight cancer is prevention. Seems like a no brainer but many of us do not get it. The food that is on your plate is a great place to start. Eating for prevention is not a tasteless chore. It is an empowering, creative food journey.
One of the things I love about Rebecca's book is that she has sections likeCulinary Pharmacy
and The Power of Herbs and Spices. She educates about the foods she is using in this book. Rebecca is a chef who ended up becoming a nutritionist. She has fabulous tips for cooking too like using FASS (fat, acid, sweet, salt) to balance flavors, etc.
I am going to share a recipe from Rebecca Katz's cookbook The Cancer Fighting Kitchen. I gave the recipe a few tweaks of my own.

In her book this is the Orange Pistachio Couscous
I made it into Orange Pistachio Quinoa

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. corriander
1 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 scallions, white and green parts chopped
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
2 tbs. fresh squeezed lemon juice
2tbs. fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tbs. orange zest
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup currants or raisins

In a mini food processor (which can be purchased for about $10 at Target) chop your pistachios. Combine your cooked quinoa with the cumin, corriander, salt, pepper and mix well. Combine the mint, parsley, scallions, lemon juice, orange juice, orange zest, currants or raisins and oil. Mix well. Give it a taste test. Add lemon juice, oil or salt to balance it out.
I added more orange juice and that was a big hit. I am not ever strict to measurements . I did not measure my juices I just squeezed them right in.
Happy eating and isn't this the best kind of medicine

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A day's thoughts

Last night I realized that next Thursday would be Paul's 43rd birthday. I remembered that at this time last year I was one hot mess. I have come a long way since July 7, 2010 and have a long way to go. I also understand that no matter what was happening in my life a year ago I would have a long and winding road to travel upon. That is what life is. It is a series of transitions and some have more impact than others. Some of these roads we need to travel alone and others we need companions of all types. As we head into Autumn I am feeling the seasonal transition very strongly both physically and emotionally. I welcome the cool air and earthy smells. I stare at the baby blue sky full of clouds that are back lit by the setting sun providing a heavenly picture above the majestic northern evergreens that grow here in the Pacific Northwest. My flannel pj's and Paul's heavy blue robe give me comfort. Hot tea, crisp apples and pears are my fall staples and I am happy to have them back. I also have amazing Autumn memories of raking big leaf piles as a kid, collecting colored leaves that had fallen to the ground, being back in school, and of course, celebrating Paul's birthday and the most beautiful and important day in my life, Paul and I's wedding day. Those last two happened this month. They will forever be the meaning in September and make it the most celebrated month of the year in my world. Today I was doing laundry in the basement of my apartment building and someone upstairs started playing guitar. I stood there dumb founded for a minute or two and then the tears started to roll but they were accompanied by a big smile. I have years worth of memories of hearing the guitar being played as I did things around the house, apartment, etc. It made me happy and I was proud of myself for keeping my cool and not freaking out a neighbor by knocking on their door and asking to just sit and listen. Although, I do not rule that out in the future. Anyway, for the time being I am making an effort to calm down and settle into a steady pace on this part of my life's road. Enjoy these seasonally transitional weeks.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Start your juicers or blenders

Fresh, homemade veggie juices or smoothies are such an important addition to our diets. Nutritionally these juices or smoothies are power packed and bio available meaning our body recognizes them and absorbs them easily without having to exert to much energy in digestion because the vegetables are already broken down into a liquid form. Plus many nutrients work synergistically and by combining veggies you are making it possible for them to work as they are intended. The difference between a juice and a smoothie comes down to the fiber. With a Vitamix or Blendtech (high speed blenders) you are incorporating the fiber into the drink but most juicers are simply extracting the juice and the fiber becomes a byproduct. Now if we are eating our fruits, vegetables and beans we are getting fiber. It is recommended that 50 to 75% of our plates be covered in these foods, depending on who you talk to.
It is so easy to buy a grouping of veggies, take them home, juice them, pour that juice into Mason jars and stick them in the fridge for a day or two and there is your simple, power packed, nutritionally healthy serving of veggies. It really is that easy to do something amazing for your health. I just finished juicing the remainder of my produce from last weeks' farmers market. I juiced one bunch of carrots, about 12 large kale leaves, about 10 large celery stalks & 2 cucumber . Now I have all of that in one juice drink chilling in the fridge.
If you are "healthy" and new to green juices start off with some spinach and romaine lettuce and work up to kale because it is kind of bitter. You can add a pear or small apple for sweetness or add the romaine with the kale. I always use celery and cucumber in my juices not only for their nutritional content but also because they provide a significant amount of juice that helps push the other leafy greens through and cut the bitterness. So a good, general starter green juice can be 1 cucumber, several stalks of celery, 1 small apple or pear, 1 handful of spinach and several leaves of romaine lettuce. For illness I would add a few things like parsley, dandelion greens, maybe tangerine or lemon and ginger for either juice and definitely kale, beets, broccoli and cabbage. Always organic. We do not want pesticides, etc. in our juice.
Broccoli stems add sweetness. You just have to experiment with a flavor that suits you.
I like to follow a juice up with a small portion of protein or healthy fat like avocado (great addition to a smoothie) walnuts, almonds, almond butter sandwich, etc.
Give fresh homemade juices or smoothies a try. Maybe they can replace that morning coffee. I know, one thing at a time. Think about starting your day with something your body can actually use and benefit from. I still have to have my tea everyday, my caffeine shot.
This is an easy way to start taking control and responsibility for your health. It is something you CAN do.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Just Another Day

Today my Grace Cards say I should be still so as to gain a heightened sensitivity to beauty, deep inner peace and a profound connectedness to all living things. It just so happens that tonight is Sangha night so I will be in meditation for about an hour but normally me being silent in voice is impossible. I love to talk and not to hear myself but to share myself. I also love to listen to others share their stories. I recently reconnected with a woman I was friends with during my freshman year of college. She told me the most amazing story about one of her children. We were catching up and a lot of times I am not sure how much to tell people about my life since the last time we saw each other because a lot of living has happened on my part that makes most people uncomfortable. They do not know what to say. The thing is that it is ok because I have no expectations from anyone and do not want any one's pity. I see beauty, miracles and joy along with pain, sorrow and grief in my life. So, when I read her story I was a bit taken aback because she has a whopper of her own and even though we are typing these things out to each other I feel like I can read the emotions present through her words. I did not know what to say in response to her and I knew that it was ok. But what I settled on was that as 20 year olds we had the world open to us and we were dreamers, I definitely was, and who would have thought we would end up on the paths we were on and had taken. Some might see them as tragic and sad but we found joy, beauty, gratefulness and lessons not attainable in a classroom. Sometimes I need reminded of this because it is so damn easy to get stuck. Last night I started crying while I was studying because I am now in a physiology portion of my nutrition program that is full of chemistry, biology and anatomy. I never took chemistry and my last biology class was junior year of high school. I can discuss Shakespeare not the periodic table or cellular makeup of our tissues. So I broke down with the thoughts of what the hell have I signed up for, why do I think I can do this now? I begged God to give me my husband back. He was my biggest supporter and he believed I could do anything. He was also extremely intelligent in these particular areas of knowledge. I knew my pleas would go unanswered but I made them anyway. It is pretty crazy what realms of reality the heart will allow you to explore especially when it is broken.
Today I woke thinking ok girl this is a new day and you are going to get through that chapter and all will be well. I have yet to tackle the homework. I ran errands and decided to write this instead. Every song on the radio in the car made me cry this morning. I remembered I am supposed to be still so I turned it off took a deep breath and am trying to suck it up to crack open that book and go to dinner with friends and then Sangha. No more tears or self doubt today. Paul doesn't want that and neither do I.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Weighing in on weight

I should be studying right now but I attended a class tonight on stress and weight loss and feel compelled to share a little bit from the class. It was taught by a Naturopathic doctor. Naturopaths practice by treating the root or cause of a health issue not just symptoms. They also believe in the mind, body, spirit connection. This is called a holistic viewpoint. These things are important to understand.
Excess weight is a symptom that something is out of balance. Correcting the imbalance is the sure fire way to long term weight loss. A very important point is that there is not one diet that is right for everyone and it is not about diets it is about "nutrition for life". We must make attainable goals and hold ourselves responsible for achieving them. Our health is our own responsibility. If you are picking an exercise program and diet that you know you will have trouble sticking with then you are not being realistic and you will likely not succeed. We all need support which includes education when it comes to maintaining our health. We need to take a realistic and deep look at our emotional state and how that relates to our relationship to food. Often we find comfort in certain foods so we turn to them in times of stress. If we find ways to deal with stress like meditation or walking, etc. instead of eating that will help. It is about changing our lifestyles and learning ways to deal with stress and toxins that will allow us to loose weight and maintain health. Extreme diets, diet medications, stress, etc. burden our bodies and sends them into a fight or flight mode screwing with our hormones and causing a cortisol build up. Hence, ladies, the muffin tops we are obsessively fighting.
This is a big topic that needs to be addressed in a holistic fashion instead of with fad diets and crazy workout routines that further stress the body. Rapid weight loss is not healthy and is not usually long term. One pound per week is good but again this is individual. Proper weight is important for several reasons but an important one is that toxins get stored in fat and this leads to disease.
Fat is not the enemy but refined sugar is. It is in everything even cigarettes. They are cured with it. We need natural sugars. We get these in fruits and veggies but this is not a green light to go crazy with the fruit. I have a hard time with that one myself.
So let's learn ways to handle stress, enjoy ourselves and have a proper relationship and understanding of the role that food plays in our lives.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Keri's Rockin' Tomato Sandwich

The tomatoes are here and fabulous in the Pacific Northwest. One of the things I love about summer is the arrival of farm fresh tomatoes. The yellow ones are my favorite and they are a bit less acidic. There are so many things that can be done with them but my favorite is a simple tomatoes sandwich. Now I have to say the best I have had is at The Blue Bird Bistro in Kansas City Missouri. As I remember they use a veganaise, feta cheese and fresh baked bread to compliment the tomato. I have to admit that I would go vegetarian for an hour just to eat the Killer Tomato there again. I do, however, make my own rockin' tomato sandwich.

I yellow or any kind tomato, sliced
4-5 spinach leaves
1 avocado, cut in half
sprouted grain bun or bread
veganaise to taste (I like Follow your Heart brand)
Celtic Sea Salt and Black pepper to taste

Toast your bread, slice your tomato, cut your avocado and scoop out 1 half. Now assemble all the listed ingredients and enjoy. Don't skip sprinkling the salt and pepper on the tomato slices. A simple and a tasty reminder of the abundance of the summer season.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Food for Thought

Tonight I went to a free class given by a Holistic Nutritionist that was focused on maximizing your produce purchases. My motives for attending the class were to learn her tips, meet her as I am studying to be a certified Holistic Nutritionist myself and take mental notes on how she led her class for the public. She offered some interesting information that I thought I would pass along. We talked about shopping for produce at the farmer's markets. This is one of my great joys. To me a morning at the farmer's market is a morning well spent. I just happen to live in a part of the country that produces amazing food and has farmer's markets everyday of the week. It is very easy to get overwhelmed or to make impromptu purchases. When everything is fresh and looks and smells so good it is difficult to pass it up. I definitely have this problem. There have been several shopping trips resulting in several full bags of produce that I have had no plan for and eventually it goes to waste. That is good food and money down the drain. Her suggestions for avoiding this seem pretty common sense but I feel safe in saying that many of us do not use them. First set a monetary budget for the market so once that amount is spent you are done purchasing. Next take note of what you already have in your kitchen so you do not end up re buying things you already have and to help you meal plan for the foods you will purchase. Meal planning is a crucial step before any grocery shopping expedition. Keeping it simple as far as the recipes go is also a great idea. A few spices and some quality oils are really all that is needed to enjoy fresh produce from the farmer's markets or your local grocery store that sells local produce. The more ingredients, the more expensive it gets and the less focus and appreciation is given to the veggie or fruit being eaten. I think this is an important point. As a kid my dad planted a huge garden in the summers. I remember walking down the rows of snap peas, green beans and tomatoes and picking these treasures off the vines and eating them on the spot. Sometimes dinner was a few different veggies cooked together with salt, pepper and maybe a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. As a kid I did not know to appreciate these meals and fresh growing snacks in the backyard but as a adult I very much appreciate them and the experience of eating this way. I think we have lost a lot of our innocence when it comes to real, whole foods. We do not respect the "simple" carrot, apple, raspberry, tomato, etc. We want a carrot cake, an apple tart, raspberry sauce on chocolate or tomato salsa. Sure these things taste great but a raspberry picked off the vine is awesome, alive and bursting with a flavor that you will not get to enjoy after it has been made into a sugary sauce for something else. Keeping it simple allows us to appreciate the flavors mother nature provides for us. They are bountiful. The other fabulous thing about the farmer's markets is getting to interact with the growers. I love talking to the farmers about the foods laid out on the tables. There is nobody better to tell how to choose, store and prepare what you are buying than the people who grew it and make their living off of these foods. I find that they are very enthusiastic and eager to share with their customers. It is encouraging and inspiring to me to talk to these people and hear the respect that they have for food I plan on eating. I think that lack of respect is one of the BIG problems we have in this country when it comes to our food supply. Lack of respect for the things that fuel and nurture our bodies. We have gotten so brainwashed by and used to eating stuff that comes from industrialized businesses whose goal is the bottom line not feeding us or keeping us healthy. For some reason we have taken the bait and we are paying the price with our health. We consume things like aspartame and high fructose corn syrup without a thought. We think if it has been allowed by the government it must be ok. Well lots of prescription drugs are allowed by the government and come with booklets of possible side effects. Think about that.
It is not difficult to eat healthy. You do not need a Master's Degree in nutrition to eat right. There is a lot to understand but humans have done it from day one. You just need to eat what mother nature is providing for you. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits and dare I say this as a tried and true vegan but some animal products if they are sourced well from farms that ONLY pasture raise their animals organically. Of the later all I want to say is that I hold firm to my beliefs as a vegan but I know that we are all individual in our metabolic typing and we need to honor that or we will become sick. Being a vegan works for me. It will be 2 years in September and I was vegetarian for 16 years prior to that. I do not push my lifestyle on anyone. I do believe that if you eat animal products they MUST come from the "humane", pasture raised, organic farm. I have spoken to farmers who sell animal meat and dairy at my local farmer's markets and found some to be a bit stand offish and some to be very open and eager to talk to me about their practices. As a Nutrition Consultant I have to be able to tell people where to get their food and animal products are a part of that no matter my preference. This is the beauty of the farmer's markets getting to be surrounded with awesome food and the people growing/raising it. Getting the opportunity to speak with them about their practices and make informed choices. It gives me a whole new point of view, appreciation and love of food. So I might have gotten on my soapbox here a bit but hopefully it has inspired some readers to take a more vested interest in what is on the end of your forks and how it got there.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Keri's Pesto Pasta

I do not eat a lot of pasta but who can deny that it is just really good sometimes. I like to make raw pasta out of zucchini but tonight I wanted to keep it simple and use what I already had at home.
So tonight I tried quinoa pasta and made a basil,walnut & tomato pesto. It is really pretty good.

Cook the pasta per the directions on the package
In a food processor combine
Approx. 1 cup fresh basil leaves
Approx. 1/4 cup walnuts (maybe a little more)
1 small tomato, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic

Process and serve on top of the pasta drizzled with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and black pepper to taste.
Spinach leaves would work well in place of basil.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Last night in Sangha (my Buddhist community gathering) we reflected upon the people or beings who have been our great teachers in life and are no longer with us in body. It was especially poignant because I had placed a photo of my husband, Paul, on the alter next to the Buddha. The photo is one that was taken in 2008 on a vacation to Portland to visit friends. We went with our friends Dana & Jordan to visit the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. Living with cancer was still fairly new to us at this point. Paul was on a break from chemo and we were feeling good about being back in the Pacific Northwest with our good friends and out of the chemo room and doctor's offices. Dana is a fabulous photographer and suggested that Paul pose like he was pushing on this large rock that was jutting out into the walking path. In so doing he looks like he is keeping it from falling. At the time we just thought it was a funny photo but as time wore on and to me now it is a symbol for the strength and sheer will and determination that Paul possessed and the lack of fear that he would later attain. This photo gives me strength and courage everyday. I regard as others do crosses that hang on their walls. After all, the higher power is a part of all of us. My husband was and is my greatest teacher. He walks with me everyday. He is a part of me. His love is my guide and it lifts me so that I can fly. I have a few more great teachers: my father, my oldest sister Sue, my friends Melecia and Daryll. My dad, what can I say, he was my hero even when I was 36years old. My dad taught me that I was special just by being myself and that I deserved respect from myself and from the people in my life. He also made me believe I could do anything. Thank God he instilled that in me and that my husband reinforced it because without that belief in myself I would have sunk into a very low and dark place over the past few years. My sister Sue was freakin' funny all of the time and she expressed a love and care for me in my late twenties and thirties that was new between us. She told me many times how proud she was of me. Besides my parents at these times in my life she was the only other person in my family to say that and I will never forget it because I needed it. When she was dying she was still able to crack a joke usually at inappropriate times about inappropriate things or so we thought but after all I have been through I now realize that they were extremely appropriate. Melecia and Daryll were my first experiences with strength and courage beyond measure. Melecia had cancer and Daryll was HIV positive. These two possessed a peace and light that still drops my jaw. He was only 24 when he died and she had already survived one round of cancer and had been clean for a year, I believe, when it returned with a vengeance. Melecia and I had a special bond. I consider her a gift from the source of life. We met on our vacation to Portland in 2008 to visit Dana and Jordan. Melecia and Dana were friends and when she heard about Paul and found out we were coming she asked to meet us. I fell in love with her. She was cancer free at the time and very positive. She spoke to Paul and I with hope and compassion that could only have come from her experience. Melecia was Native American and I am partly too so we bonded over that. We kept contact with each other which was aided by Dana when Melecia got sick. Melecia lead me on a spiritual journey without even realizing it.
I love these people and am so grateful that we shared in each other's lives. They all changed mine and I am so happy that I accepted their lessons. I find happiness knowing that they are all together in the next life and that at any given time they are walking with me in this one.
We also spoke about transitions last night. Life and death are doors we must walk through but in between there are many other transitions that occur in our lives. Like being born or dying they usually require the letting go of something in order to move forward. I think about this as it applies to my life. There is a BIG picture. I needed to go through my near fatal illness in order to be capable of handling my husband living with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Because we changed just about everything in our lives in order to live "as if" or fully and healthy with cancer I have been able to be mostly positive and move forward into my new chapter of life after Paul's passing. I had to let go of comfort and being disappointed with life in order to survive my illness and I definitely utilized this in dealing with Paul's cancer and, of course, in dealing with his death.
Dealing with his death has caused me to release many things and to take refuge in myself. As we say in sangha sometimes we have to go to the island within, that is were we seek solace. If we can't take refuge in ourselves we don't truly have a grasp on who we are and in the power that is inherent in each of us.
Last night was a night of much insight and I am grateful that I am able to incorporate it in my life.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Perfect Day

Today has been a perfect day and it is all because of my husband Paul. He taught me many lessons and today I put one of them to use in honor of his one year rebirthday week. He wrote a piece of prose about it that has been published. I will share it with you
The Good Traveler
"A good traveler has no fixed plans
and is not intent upon arriving.
This idea implies that we focus
and enjoy the journey more than just
having a goal to reach the destination.
People we encounter, views we never
have seen before-sunsets framed
by snow-capped mountains- could all
be missed without the intention to observe.
Hoping on a train, bus or taxi and
telling the driver to just head "that way,"
you could feel alive, spontaneous,
throwing caution to the wind, trusting
life will open you to the possibilities,
ones that possibly wouldn't have taken place
without your presence." (Paul Hakan My Tree Called Life)
I woke up at 4:30am today ready for my day on the coast. I had decided awhile back that during this week I wanted to return to a place called Cape Mears on the Oregon Coast. In 2005 Paul and I went there together while on our first vacation to Portland. It is a beautiful place and special to me because while we were there we were given the gift of seeing a female gray whale with her two babies. That alone was a life affirming sight and it touched us both deeply. All of this took place before either one of us got sick. I headed out of the city around 7am very excited to be going to the coast. I took a scenic route through a state forest and it was a magical drive. As I entered the town one must pass through before hitting the Cape I began to cry because on my left was a beautiful, green pasture full of cows grazing and I remembered seeing that same sight when Paul and I drove into town six years earlier. I made it to the lighthouse lookout at Cape Mears bright and early and stood there looking out over a calm green/blue pacific ocean. Amazing! As I stood there alone I said out loud "Baby look where I am" and a few tears fell down my cheeks. Then a voice whispered to me "don't you cry look where you are." It was Paul. I stopped immediately and exchanged those tears for a deep smile. After awhile I was ready to move on and it was still pretty early so I decided to just get in my car and head up the coast. Why not? I am free to do what I want this day. I turned onto the 101 or Pacific Coast Highway and just drove stopping to explore several beach towns, beaches and viewpoints along the way. I had done a little homework ahead of time and Googled vegan restaurants so I could have lunch somewhere. Make a note that although Portland is full of organic, vegan options that has yet to spread to the small Oregon coastal towns. I did find a few though. But before stopping for lunch I decided that since this was my day I would stop off at the winery that offered wine tasting whose signs I kept passing. I am not a drinker any more so this was a "treat" and the small samples they give out at tastings were plenty. I discovered a tasty new red called a Foche but was not wanting to purchase any bottles and was grateful to the 15 or so people that came in as I was finishing up. They allowed me to have my tasting and slip out. Lunch was along the Neahealm (sp?) river in a town of the same name. I sat on a deck overlooking the still river. The sun was shining bright in a brilliant blue sky. My waiter was very attentive which I assumed was because the place was pretty empty. When I went to the restroom on my way out I discovered what was most likely the reason for 6 water refills and several questions about the taste of my veggie sandwich. I had chosen top wear an old, comfy t-shirt that admittedly has a deep plunging V-neck. When I refer to it as old that is not necessarily in age but you see I have lost a considerable amount of weight over the past 4 years. Let's suffice it to say that I am no longer as top heavy as I once was and apparently this V-neck t-shirt required my former figure to keep the plunge in the right place. So for about 30 minutes or so it was like I was sitting on the deck of this small town restaurant in my bra and jeans. I had no idea. At least I know I won't see those people any time soon. I am pretty sure Paul was loving the show. Luckily, in Oregon you don't leave home without a jacket and I wore mine for the rest of the day.
I ended up at Cannon Beach. In 2008 after Paul's diagnosis we came to visit our friends Dana and Jordan in Portland. They took us to Cannon Beach to see Haystack Rock on that vacation. I have framed photographs of us all on the beach in front of that huge rock that juts out of the ocean. Today it was just me on that beach, in front of that rock. I thought I would be sad but I was not. I felt pretty happy to be there and confident. It was just me and that was ok. I felt at peace as I walked along the beach. Something inside me was telling me to sit down and just watch the water and feel the sand. So I did and an overwhelming sense of awe came over me as it usually does when I am at the beach. I realized that this is what life is all about and it is so much bigger than we realize. That is also when I heard a voice again this time telling me how beautiful I was sitting on the beach and how happy I looked and how that made him happy because that is all he wants for me. I responded with "I know." I felt the sun and wind kiss my face and knew it was Paul and ocean's song carried his sweet voice to me. I sat there for a long time watching the waves roll in and thinking about all of the possibilities that I might of missed out on today if I had only one destination in mind.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

a few summer eating tips focused on the kids

Today on my second trip to the co-op I wound up sharing a table in the shade outside with a woman and her two young sons. They were having snacks. The boys were probably 3 and 5 years old and I was super impressed because they were chowing down on rice crackers with locally made arugala pesto, vegan green smoothies and 1 rice dream ice cream bar split between them. So naturally I complemented this woman on the way her boys were eating and we had a nice conversation about children and thier eating habits. It reminded me of two of my nieces and the way thier boys eat and another nephew of mine on my husband's side, Noah, who all eat as their parents eat and not all of the marketed kid junk that is on the shelves. It inspired me, a nonparent but aunt, great aunt, and honorary aunt to many, to give a few kid friendly summer eating ideas. Let's face it kid friendly means adult friendly too. We all want cooling foods to contrast the summer heat. Ice cream, popcicles, etc. all sound yummy and I admit taste yummy in the summer. When the kinda creepy song of the ice cream trucks come humming down the street who doesn't want to run out to it: big kid or small kid. So My suggestion to satisfy those sweet toothes and watch that truck roll on by is to purchase some of your favorite fruits and freeze them. Grapes, berries of any kind, pineapple, bananas and mango will all freeze and make nice healthy treats this summer. If you want to cover them in chocolate go ahead. Melt some unsweetened carob(my preference but maybe not the kiddos) or unsweetened dark chocolate(you can sweeten it yourself with honey, agave, date puree, maple syrup, etc.) and put a wooden skewer or Popsicle stick in the chunk of fruit, dip it, put the dipped fruit in a parchment paper lined dish with a lid suitable for the freezer and enjoy in a few hours. Let the kids help. It will give them a little greater appreciation for the food they consume if they are able to participate in preparing it. Plus they will want what they made over the other usually. Please remember that fruit is sugar and too much is not healthy. Balance your sugar intake with healthy fats and protein. I learned this the hard way last week. After going on a fruit binge for 3 days and not balancing it out I ended up fainting because my blood sugar was out of whack. It is easy to loose focus with food. I know these facts and I did. My excuse: for years we ,my husband and myself, had to be very vigilant about fruit consumption because we were eating to fight cancer and too much fruit equals too much sugar which the tumors love. That being said many fruits have cancer fighting properties so it is a matter of education and balance. So after years of conservative fruit eating I decided I was going to chow down and boy did I. Anyway, I also want to encourage you to drink coconut water to keep hydrated when you or your kids are out in the summer heat. Plain old water cannot be beat but when you need those electrolytes boosted nothing holds a candle to coconut water. So leave the sports drinks on the shelf. They are full of crap like artificial colors, flavors, sugars and preservatives. Raw Snap peas make a wonderful, crunchy and sweet snack but these too are high in sugar so balance them with a fat or protein like olives, avocado, almonds, walnuts, sesame, hemp, chia or sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds or coconut. Have fun with food this summer. Try to make it the food that mother nature has provided.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy Rebirthday

I have had some great revelations this morning after a mostly sleepless night. As July 7th nears my feelings towards this 1 year anniversary have gone in hundreds, if not more, directions. At this moment I am sitting in a good place and hope to carry that through the week. Last night I was looking through my Jin Shin Jyutsu (a Japanese energy healing practice) stuff and was dumbfounded by the fact that I stopped practicing since there are flows for just about everything I have been and am currently dealing with emotionally and physically. I used to do it everyday sometimes with Paul and sometimes on my own. I even wanted to become a practitioner but when Paul got sick last spring I stopped doing it because there was no time and he needed all my attention. So last night and this morning I started it up again and I feel great. As I was doing it this morning I was flooded with some insight that I plan to carry with me forever but especially through this week. I understand now that I am extremely fortunate because I was given the opportunity to see Paul off into the next world and it was a beautiful, peaceful thing. The circumstances surrounding it were hard but the end result was beautiful. He fulfilled his purposes and it was time for him to move on. Cancer was the catalyst for this move. It helped him find himself holistically. He handled it all with such grace and peace. I think at some point he knew. I know, looking back now, that he had made peace with it. I had not and that is why the last thing he said to me in the hospital was "Keri, you have to let me go". He was was looking me in the eyes and was very calm when he said those words and then went into cardiac arrest. He had been anything but calm just seconds before. Right now when I remember those final moments I spent with him I remember the complete calmness that was in the room and the beautiful sunset that was rising in back of us through the windows. Paul was at peace. I remember seeing it then in him and he came to me a few days later to assure me of that. It really was a beautiful moment albeit for me and our family a painful one but it was his rebirthday and I was there for it. I got to be a part of it. What a gift that is to me. I also got to be apart of it for my dad, one of my sisters and a friend. I feel pretty blessed by this and by this insight.
Some of us get sick with life threatening diseases and survive them or "cheat death" because our catalysts have come prematurely and we still have work to do to fulfill our purposes on earth. So July 7th is a painful date for me but it is actually a day to celebrate because it is Paul's rebirthday! So this July 7th celebrate my husband. Listen to some loud, guitar driven music, strum a guitar, beat a drum, have a Heineken, take a looong walk, jump on a skateboard, a bicycle or a motorcycle and just ride. Live life fully that day as he did everyday!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Listening to Coldplay's song Fix You really strums my heartstrings. Some of the words perfectly describe my husband, Paul, and I in so many ways especially from 2007 to 2010 and for me now. When I listen to it the first thing that comes to mind is how I tried with every fiber of my being to fix him and make him well. Our Naturopath saw it and during one visit after Paul had spoken with her for awhile she sat me down next to him and looked me in the eyes and said Keri you are not Paul's doctor. Have you ever thought about how it makes him feel that you are trying to cure him? He has doctors working on his behalf let us do our jobs and you do yours for awhile. You are his wife. She then turned to him and said tell her how it makes you feel knowing that she is doing all of this work for you. He looked down and slightly turned towards me and told me it made him feel bad that I was doing all this "homework" as we called it for him because it meant I was always thinking about the cancer and he knew that and he had it, he lived with it he did not want to think about it all of the time. Tears streamed down my face. I had no idea. I tried to do my cancer homework early in the morning when he was sleeping but he knew I was waking up 3 hours early everyday to do it. He then coined the term cancercation and our rule was when he told me it was time for cancercation that meant STOP for at least 1 week and f***ing forget about cancer. So, I did and when it was cancercation it was wonderful....all of it was wonderful but being able to forget cancer for a week felt so good. I still got up 3 hours early but I meditated or did Jin Shin Jyutsu in those hours for those weeks. Thank God for Dr. Diehn she changed our lives and she gave us confidence and some grounding. More than that she believed in Paul and I like nobody else could and I will never forget her for that. She was very compassionate towards us both. Of his two doctors she was the one who came to his memorial service. I am telling this story because if anyone out there is a "caregiver" a term I did not like for myself because he was my husband and I was his wife not his "caregiver" but anyway, if anyone out there is caring for a loved one and reads this I hope that they will glean a little insight from it. All we want to do is make our spouse, mother, father, child, brother, sister, etc. well and comfortable and we will do anything we have to do to accomplish this goal sometimes without thinking about how our loved one feels about it. We must advocate for our loved ones but we must also remember that they are still the people that we love not the disease they are dealing with. It is a very tough place to find yourself in and know how to handle. These are people we love and they are being threatened it is normal for us to react as if we are at war because we are but what we have to remember is that the enemy and the person we love are one. That is unbelievably hard to live with and it takes a lot of deep breathing and mindfulness to wrap your head around this fact. My husband was and is my greatest teacher. I am still learning from him 1 year after his passing (next week). I will always have his influence in my life from the silly to the serious stuff. It is because of him that I can honestly say I am happy where I am at with my life right now. One year ago I could not imagine saying that or feeling this way. Cancer died a year ago, Paul did not, he lives on in brilliant ways and so do I in his honor!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Vegan Caesar Salad

I rocked Ann Gentry's Vegan Caesar Salad with Blackened Tempeh today. Of course I made a few tweaks to the recipe to make it a bit more healthy. I am going to share my version with you. I have to say that I love Ann Gentry and her restaurant Real Food Daily in Santa Monica, Ca. and have had the good fortune to meet her briefly at a talk she gave. I support her recipes and her beliefs about food in general but I did have to make a few changes namely in the oils and use of aluminum foil from the recipe in the book. I have to make tweaks to pretty much all recipes, "healthy" or not so much in order for them to be up to my standard of being servable to someone with a chronic illness. That being said, here is an awesome recipe that is easy, fast and filling.

2 hearts of Romaine lettuce
torn, chopped or kitchen scissored (my option)

2 ounces of extra firm tofu
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (1 large lemon)
1/4 cup Vegan Mayonnaise (I like Veganaise grapeseed version)
3 cloves garlic (I used 4. I always add more garlic to recipes)
2 tsp. capers without the juice
2 tsp. white miso(I like Westbrae Natural brand)
1 1/2 tsp. nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp sea salt ( I ground in celtic sea salt to taste)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 of an 8 inch sheet of Nori cut into shreds (I used 1 individual packet of spicy nori strips that are cut and individually packaged for snacking by Sound Sea Vegetables)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place all of these ingredients in a food processor on pulse until creamy and nori is diced into small bits. Transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate.

4 cups of a good quality, healthy sprouted grain bread (Ezekiel, Alvarado Street or Manna brands are great options) cut into squares
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. dried dill
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 tbs. melted coconut oil

Preheat your oven to 375 and stir the bread cubes, herbs and spice in a bowl. Drizzle the coconut oil over this and toss to coat. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet lined with natural parchment paper and bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. You might need to turn them.

Blackened Tempah
1/3 cup Coconut oil
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup tamari or shoyu
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. frshly ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
12 ounces of tempeh
2 tbs. brown rice flour
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

In a small pan or large dish that can be covered combine the coconut oil, tamari, brown rice syrup. 1 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp. thyme, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp, ground cumin, 1/4 tsp, cayenne pepper, garlic & onion powders. Whisk it all together. Add the tempeh and coat all sides. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator over night. You might need to turn it a few times.
Preheat your oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with natural parchment paper. Combine the flour, 1 tsp. oregano, 1/2 tsp. thyme, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 tsp. cumin and cayenne pepper.
Take the tempeh out of the marinade allowing it to drip away. Cut tempeh into small strips. Roll the strips in the flour mixture and place on the backing sheet. Bake them for about 25 minutes or until the coating has browned.

Combine the blackened tempeh, romaine lettuce, croutons and dressing...enjoy!

In her book Ann Gentry suggests making this into a simple wrap with tortillas. That would be yummy but don't choose white flour tortillas.
One thing I have heard her talk about is that it does not matter if you are preparing a meal for yourself or for others we should treat the meal for ourselves as well as we would treat the meal we prepare for others. I think this is an awesome point that will aid us all in enjoying and respecting our food and ourselves.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Getting Close

This past week and weekend I have experienced a whole range of emotions, some expected and some very unexpected. What or I should say who, has grounded me are the amazing people that are part of my life now. Some of them have been around since the day I was born, others for many years and others a matter of months yet the common thread they share for me is that they rekindle my spirit and I want and need them to be part of my everyday. The closer we get to the 1 year mark of Paul's passing the stronger my love gets for these friends and family members. My husband was my world and my best friend. When he passed I felt very alone and torn to pieces. That feeling is finally disappearing and it is because of the compassion and love I recognize that is being given to me. I know Paul is working some puppet strings to ensure that I am happy and that the people in my life are true. The relationships that have not really lasted served their purposes and for them I am thankful. It is a part of life that some people rotate in and out and that is ok. I feel supported and enlivened again. I can have fun now and be serious when I need to be. I feel stronger and even though the last few weeks have brought about a new anxiety about what it means to move forward for me, I feel like I can do it. I am doing it and I have been. Right now life seems open to all possibilities and I am waiting with open arms for them. I feel Paul's presence even stronger now because I am open to moving forward with my life as he wants me to do and as he would have done had roles been reversed. I miss him severely everyday but then I think of how brilliant our life was together and how that will/is influencing my life now and I have to smile, thank him and be happy. In a way I am ready to slow down and settle. I mean this in a very Zen way. I have been shaking things up for myself for a year now in order to deal with Paul's death. I think I finally am accepting it, I still hate that it happened and want him back more than anything in the world. I still cry myself to sleep most nights and that is ok because truth be told time does not make it better. It makes you realize that god dammit, it has been 1 year since the love of my life was taken away from me, how do I keep going. But I do keep really is not a choice. It just is what it is...the circle of life. Thank god we traveled it together like we did for the time we had.