Balance of Bliss

Everything from potatoes to living fully.

Month: November, 2015

Making Over the Veg-Lasagna

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Hold it!  Put down your grandmother’s recipes. Close Lydia B’s Italian culinary bibles. Turn-off your Pinterest Cooking Board!  Stop everything you have been doing for years and start rethinking the ordinary.  I’m talking about experimenting with substitutions in the kitchen.  Why am I preaching?  Because something *ahem* changed in my body over the past several years.  My body is now holding onto my meals in a way it never use to – I mean, I’m basically wearing the donut hole(s) I had two days ago for breakfast (thank you, Lisa, because even though I feel my back jiggle when I walk, I still really loved them).  Like… what the fuck?

However, instead of getting bummed about it, I want to do something about it.  What have I got to lose, right?

Let’s face it, our bodies stop acting the way they use to at a certain age (aHEM). That doesn’t mean we have to chastise comfort foods or tradition, instead, we need to embrace this time as an opportunity to play with our food again! The challenge is to add in as much nutritional value into a smaller portion.  Small package/lots of dynamite, kind of deal.

So where do we begin?  Well, I have decided to begin cutting meat out of my diet.  Aside from making me feel better – almost lighter – when I don’t consume it, I also feel subconsciously better.  When Matt and I were on our honeymoon we drove past an “open” ranch and I almost started crying.  It looked more like a death-camp for cows.  I’ve read plenty of books and essays, watched almost all of the food/ag documentaries – but when you see it, the image never leaves your mind.  I digress…

Right, so I’ve cut out meat.  Now what?  Well, I best fill that plate with as many veggies, legumes, and fruits I can find!  Done.  That was easy!

…JUST kidding.

Now here is the challenge: what do you do when you want that stick-to-your-ribs comfort food?  Let’s say, veggie lasagna… STOUFFER’S veggie lasagna!  Unfortunately that is DEFINITELY on the no-no list (sad, but true).  Screw it, let’s make our own!

How do we make veggie lasagna packed with nutrients?  We start by taking it all apart because each element holds an opportunity to make a change.

To be honest, the only real substitution I made was in the white sauce (aka: bechamel).  A traditional bechamel is made of a roux (butter and flour) with heavy cream and then tons of shredded parm or fontina (whatever floats your boat).  What I did instead was steam/boil half-a-head of cauliflower, puree that then add in… well, the recipe is right below.  The rest was no thinking at all because it was quite literally broccoli, asparagus, and carrots cooked together and Barillo lasagna sheets.

Recipe for Cauliflower Bechamel

1/2 head cauli (steamed)

2 small cloves garlic

8oz light cream

1/4 bunch parsley

1 c freshly graded (and finely graded) pec romano

1 c part-skim ricotta

Strain your steamed cauli and puree in blender with cream, garlic, and parsley.  Transfer puree into sauce pan and slowly stir in ricotta and pec romano.  Now is your chance to taste-test so add in salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings you want at this point.

One of the things I love about this recipe is that you can use it for a plethora of items!  Use this as a substitution for alfredo sauce, white pizza sauce, or just as a side dish.

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The community I’ve been waiting for

While much of life is certainly looking up now, the past four years have not been easy to say the least.  As many of you know, I left my career in New York (one of which I worked my ass off for) to start a new path in dietetics.  I honestly thought it was going to be much easier to transition.  I believed money wouldn’t be an issue, opportunities would knock down my door, and I’d live happily ever after in the country with some sheep and a dog.  Needless to say, things didn’t go quite according to plan.

One important key to Balance of Bliss is, of course, finding balance.  Sadly, though, you cannot find balance without embracing yourself and your surroundings – it just doesn’t work.  Part of embracing yourself is to nurture and care for yourself.  I am the type of person who needs to work out; I need to eat my greens and vegetables; I need to have an organized and, somewhat clean, house; I need to be social; I need to have alone time; I need to be creative… and the “needs” go on.  Once I understand my needs, I can better balance and prioritize my time to fit them in where I can.

I didn’t come to this on my own.  Since I moved back I’ve met some pretty outstanding mentors and inspirational friends.

The women I’m about to mention (there are many more, but these three are really standing out right now) have inspired me to care for myself – physically, professionally, and emotionally. These are strong, bright and entrepreneurial women who are able to balance career, family, and themselves with “ease”.  They make being graceful look sexy and natural beauty is effortless.  I’m blessed to have them in my life and if you are in the Lambertville/New Hope area, you should absolutely check out their websites.

Jennifer Artur, Body Flow Movement.  I’m a runner and I love yoga – but I am obsessed with pilates because of Jennifer’s no bullshit approach.  I equate pilates to trail running because you cannot for one second take your mind off of her instructions and what your body is doing.  You must be mindful – you must leave the baggage of the day or the to-do list for your evening at the door.

Judy Detrano, Wednesday’s For Women. I became acquainted with Judy through a mutual friend.  Attending Wednesday’s for Women a year ago was my first introduction into professional and social networking in Lambertville.  Set at Hamilton’s Grill Room on a Wednesday of every month, you dine on great food and deep conversation.  Judy is one of the most welcoming and warm people I’ve ever met and her vision for a community of supportive and smart ladies is just awesome.  She’s also from Brooklyn so I feel like I have a slice of NYC whenever I’m around her.

Sara Scully, Acme Screening Room.  I have known Sara since I was 21 years old.  I met her when I was in college and working at a gallery in NYC’s financial district called Tribute (no longer there, but a really great place).  We connected quickly over our Bucks/Hunterdon County roots and our love for film. She gave me my first few jobs in production and was always a voice of reason, friend, and production guru.  She moved back to the area a few years before I made the transition.  Sara, however, opened up the only independent movie theater within a 100-mile radius where she brings in docs, shorts, and indie films… not to mention their directors to give a little pre-film chat.

There are many more women who have had profound influences on my life, but I had to mention these three because they helped to remind me why I came back and what I’m capable of accomplishing in this small town.

I’m back!

It’s the beginning of November and the start of the end-of-the-year rush.  You know, that time when you reflect on the goals you have and have not accomplished, and the time when you start to concoct the resolutions you’re going to make for the approaching new year?  Yes, it’s that time.

One of the things I love most about this reflection process is not focusing on what was expected, but rather those unexpected surprises that shaped your present.  Are you really where you thought you’d be?  Did things happen the way you thought they would?  As I get older, I find the answer being “no – hardly any of this is as I expected.”  And I’ll let you in on a little secret: I am not only more than ok with this – in fact, I prefer it.

Over the past thirty years of my life I’ve been planning for success; planning for fame; planning for popularity; planning to be important; planning to plan for the sake of planning!  And you know what?  It’s all blown up in my face.  However, with all this “failure” I’ve realized that I just wasn’t ready to pursue whatever it is I am meant to pursue.  Reason being is simple: I hadn’t discovered my niche yet – or better yet, I hadn’t discovered me yet.  I was stuck on trying to copy and emulate what success looked like for instead of embracing what success might look like for me.

So, here I am in Philadelphia for two days attending a Social Media Marketing seminar and a networking event for Nutrition Entrepreneurs.  I’ve decided I may be ready to start developing this business plan of mine.  I’m giving myself a year to figure out what I have to offer.  I’m calling this journey “Balance of Bliss” – a blog I’ve had for about 3 years that has completely failed because it lacked direction and focus.  Well, I’m hoping I can figure that direction out now.

Matt and I married almost a month ago on October 11th – it was near perfect with our dearest family and friends.  Since then I’ve had this overwhelming sense of purpose, love, and relief.  I’ve had this crazy notion that I actually have a voice with something important to say and that people actually want to hear from me.  It’s going to take diligence, dedication, time, ambition, – and probably a little more failure.  But if I’ve got anything, I’ve got determination and a damn good man behind me.

I’m ready.  Not quite sure what that means – but I’m ready.