New Food Contributor: Laura!

10368306_10152758821836480_5657189504909508120_oSome exciting news! My good friend Laura has agreed to contribute her delicious recipes to the blog! She is an amazing cook and definitely helped keep me alive when we were roommates in University. It was great to live with her because whenever she would procrastinate doing school work, she would bake. Score for her roommate!

Her food is always spectacular, beautiful and extremely tasty. Everything is from scratch and she makes cooking look so effortless. She is completely self taught and oh so talented. No cuisine is off limits! She makes a mean pad thai and introduced me to the amazing world that is fried cheese aka Haloumi. For me, indulging in healthy and whole food as well as really indulging yourself is such an integral part of my “wholeistic” lifestlye and of course that includes butter and fat.

I am so looking forward to having her contribute food and maybe even some lifestyle posts. Not only does Laura have an amazing palate, she has a keen eye. So, look out for her posts coming up on Thoughts In A Moment. I am so excited for her to share recipes, restaurant reviews and travel diaries! Stay tuned!

So, to kick things off, here is Laura’s creation: Mexican Spiced Chicken with Sweet Potato

Adapted from I Quit Sugar Mexican Chicken and Sweet Potato Boats

IMG_2191Ingredients:

  • large sweet potato
  • chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
  • 1 brown onion, sliced in ¼ inch lengths
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tspcoconut oil
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • 1 avocado, quartered
  • 1 bunch of kale, stalks removed, roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Coat the chicken thighs in ½ tbsp. paprika and ½ tbsp. cumin, salt and pepper. Rub into the chicken. Heat coconut oil in a fry pan. Place chicken skin side down in the pan and cook over medium heat about 7 minutes until fat renders and skin is crispy. Flip chicken and cook on other side until just about cooked through, about another 5 minutes depending on the size of your chicken thighs.
  3. While the fat is rendering from your chicken thighs, slice 1 inch thick rounds of sweet potato. Place on baking tray and season with salt, pepper and a little bit of the fat rendering from the cooking chicken. Put in the oven and cook for 1 hour.
  4. Once both sides of the chicken are cooked, remove chicken from pan and place to rest on a plate/cutting board. Drain the majority of the rendered fat from the pan, leaving about 1 – 2 tbsp. in the pan. Return pan to heat and add onions. Lower heat to low-medium and cook onions slowly until translucent and sweet (about the amount of time it takes to finish step 5). Remember to stir!
  5. Peel skin off of chicken and set aside. Pull chicken off of the thigh bones, tear into strips, and place in a bowl. Season chicken with remaining paprika, cumin, and the chili powder. Toss to coat. Depending on how much spice you like, use less at first. You can always add more/less later.
  6. Add pulled chicken to the pan with the onions and cook for a couple minutes longer to get rid of any remaining pink pieces of meat, if any. Add kale to the pan and cook for 3 minutes, or until kale is cooked through.
  7. Put a round of sweet potato on a plate, place chicken mixture on top, and top with ¼ avocado and a squeeze of lime juice. Enjoy the noms!

P.S. you can chop up the super crispy and delicious chicken skin and add it to the pulled chicken mixture, snack on it, or chuck it. Up to you!

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How to deal with anxiety one day at a time

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Living with anxiety is hard and people who don’t experience chronic anxiety have a hard time understanding what you are actually going through. Anxiety is something that I have dealt with on and off for years. Some days it is better than others. And while I’ve never been formally diagnosed, it is definitely something that I have sought help for in the past.

The way people experience anxiety can be very different. My anxiety comes in the form of worrying about little things. It comes in the form of obsession about things that might cause harm to my body such as germs or chemicals or diseases and what not. It sometimes expresses itself in anger towards people who don’t deserve it, but if I am worrying anxiously about something, and then discussing something completely un related with someone it can cause me to take my anxiety frustrations out on them.

With my various anxieties, I sometimes have to do things a few times to make sure in my own head that the are actually done, or that my health will not be harmed, even by something as simple as using a public washroom (this is where the OCD component comes in). Most of my anxieties are completely irrational and I have taught myself to acknowledge my feelings but to move past them through the power of my mind and exercises in mindfulness.These exercises where given to me by a therapist and have helped me combat my daily anxieties.

So what is anxiety? People, namely people who don’t understand anxiety, have told me that worry is a wasted emotion. But anxiety is so much more than just a simple worry. It is a general sense of uneasiness in everyday life. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, “We all feel nervous or worried at times. This anxiety can be a helpful feeling when it motivates us or warns us of danger. An anxiety disorder, on the other hand, causes unexpected or unhelpful anxiety that seriously impacts our lives, including how we think, feel, and act.”

Learn more about anxiety disorders. Also, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association, “Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment.”

One of my favourite philosophers explains anxiety in such an eloquent way and it is a notion that has stayed with me. According to Kierkegaard in The Concept of Anxiety, 

Anxiety is a qualification of dreaming spirit, and as such it has its place in psychology. Awake, the difference between myself and my other is posited; sleeping, it is suspended; dreaming, it is an intimated nothing. The actuality of the spirit constantly shows itself as a form that tempts its possibility but disappears as soon as it seeks to grasp for it, and it is a nothing that can only bring anxiety. More it cannot do as long as it merely shows itself. [Anxiety] is altogether different from fear and similar concepts that refer to something definite, whereas anxiety is freedom’s actuality as the possibility of possibility.

[…]

Anxiety may be compared with dizziness. He whose eye happens to look down the yawning abyss becomes dizzy. But what is the reason for this? It is just as much in his own eye as in the abyss, for suppose he had not looked down. Hence, anxiety is the dizziness of freedom, which emerges when the spirit wants to posit the synthesis and freedom looks down into its own possibility, laying hold of finiteness to support itself. Freedom succumbs to dizziness. Further than this, psychology cannot and will not go. In that very moment everything is changed, and freedom, when it again rises, sees that it is guilty. Between these two moments lies the leap, which no science has explained and which no science can explain. He who becomes guilty in anxiety becomes as ambiguously guilty as it is possible to become.

What I understand from Kierkegaards notions of anxiety is that many things can bring on anxiety and when there are seemingly so many possibilities, it brings on the dizziness of anxiety. We are faced with constant decisions, especially in this busy modern world that it can prove overwhelming for some.  I am however, not as depressing as Kierkegaard however, the good news is there are lots of ways to combat anxiety. Some ways that I try to deal with my anxiety on a daily basis:

1. Constant positive thoughts
I know that as soon as I get in a negative tail-spin it’s only down, down, down from there we go. My negative thoughts only breed negative thoughts. Many things can set off the rampage of negativity such as a fight with my partner, something stressful happening at work, traffic, or just having a plain old bad day. But, when those things do happen, I want to have a way to combat them and not to get into such a downer mode or an anxiety ridden state that can be hard to get out of.
I’m not saying that my thoughts are all roses and butterflies but I definitely know I can get caught up in negative emotions, because life goes on and it is much better when I am looking to the bright side of things.
2. Aromatherapy
For me, I know that light and smell really affect my mood. Life is stressful no matter who you are, and I really try to take a few minutes each day to chill. For me, this may mean having a cup of tea with a candle lit and watching a favourite TV show or using essential oils to boost my mood. I find, if I take some time to indulge in these things it has a drastic impact on my mood. I am less likely to let some anxieties bother me and even after a stressful day it can really help to calm myself and help me not to be so snappy.
3. Consciously drinking more water
I’ve noticed my mood and how I handle stress drastically improves when I am hydrated. This is something that is quite simple but I know I often don’t get enough water each day. When I drink more water I’ve noticed that I get less headaches and I am a generally more happy person. Seems like a no-brainer, right?
4. Going for a walk
This is something that I have used more in the past to help with anxiety. I do find that getting outside still really helps to clear my thoughts and to calm me down. Something about fresh air and time to clear your head that is so important for well being.
5. Talk about it
I find when I talk about the feelings I am having with people who understand it truly helps to combat my irrational anxieties. This could be a good friend (I use this one a lot, sorry guys!) or it could be a therapist or counsellor. It is really important to have a support system and to not internalize your feelings. Some days all it takes is for a good friend to say “calm down, you are letting your thoughts get the better of you, don’t worry!” I think if I didn’t have some sort of support system, I would be in a really dark place.
6. Exercise
For me this is going to a group fitness class, at least once a week. But doing something active can really help to get the good feelings flowing. Even yoga is a great exercise and one that I need to try to do more often as it combines physical well being with mental well being.
7. Take a break
I find I need to get out of the city every once in a while. Doing a weekend day trip to the mountains or visiting a friend in another city can really help me to re-charge and give me a new perspective.
8. Healthy eating
If I make sure that my diet is in check I always notice that I am in a much better head space. Not only eating healthy food but making sure to eat something at breakfast, lunch and dinner and to stop for snacks in between. I find planning all of this difficult some days but when I do, I feel much better.
I think that mental health is a societal issue and it is important to talk about how we are feeling. If you have serious feelings of anxiety it is a great idea to seek a mental health professional to give you the tools to deal with it. I am always looking for more great ideas to combat my anxious feelings day to day. Please share your strategies with me! I love sharing common stories and I think it is so important to speak and to listen.

Weekend Recipe: Oh She Glow’s Spiced Red Lentil, Tomato, and Kale Soup

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So, a good friend made this for me the other day when I was feeling a bit under the weather. It is super easy, and super tasty. I cut back a bit on the spices as I’m not one who likes too much heat but, it is a super simple dinner that can easily translate into lunch.

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