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Gratitude Living – My Newest Challenge to You

Bodies are my business. They have been for over 8 years now. And during that time, working with hundreds of different types of bodies through fitness, nutrition and health coaching, I’m constantly asked two things: “What exercise should I be doing + how much (to change my body/lose weight)?” and “What should I be eating?” Everyone wants to be told what to do. To receive a simple black and white instruction that they can follow and see results. I get it. That way would be *so much* easier. At least, that’s what all the lovelies who’ve asked me these questions think.

But, {spoiler alert} that’s actually not the easy way. Living in the black and white of “best exercise”, “good” and “bad” food makes you constantly at war with your body and real life. This way of moving and eating forces you to override your body’s innate signs + signals in telling you when you’re hungry, what feels good in your body, what foods and movement drive your energy (versus deplete it) and worst of all, it crashes and burns against life’s natural flow. Because life, especially the good parts, are not black and white. It’s colorful, ever-changing, grey even – but definitely not black and white (or certain).

And when we try to force rigid black and white rules onto a body that’s neither, you’ll find yourself in a constant spiral of defeat, shame + guilt, chasing results but never achieving or maintaining them, your body at war with your head. Sound familiar?

img_2795What most people don’t know (or fail to realize) is the depth of factors at play when it comes to losing stubborn weight and creating a life and body you love (because the two are one in the same, in case you didn’t know). Your metabolic potential (literally the efficiency of your metabolism) is impacted by a confluence both inner and outer conditions. To name just a few, these can include: the food you eat, the way you move, your stress levels and sleep, what you’re thinking and feeling when you’re eating or exercising, the amount of joy and purpose in your life, your fulfillment in areas I call soul food – relationships, career, spirituality and self-care – how much water you drink, how fast-paced your life is and how much time you spend in gratitude.

And that last one – GRATITUDE – is a big one. Maybe even *the* big one. Because living in a state of the opposite (being ungrateful) is the root of unhappiness (and a good majority of the metabolism busters mentioned above too). Lack of appreciation blinds us to all of life’s goodness, ultimately impeding the exact progress we’re trying to make.

  • We cannot uncover what works best for our body (food, fitness and otherwise) if the language we use always conveys that we not enough. As is. Right now.
  • We cannot hope to lose weight if we’re ungrateful for the signs + signals our body sends to lovingly convey that what we’re currently doing isn’t working. It does this in host of ways, like: stubborn weight, injuries, poor sleep, scattered focus, mental fog, skin issues, digestive issues, elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, inflammation, chronic diseases…(and more!).
  • We’ll remain (wholly) unfulfilled in this life if we’re constantly searching for the “next best” instead of being grateful for our selves, our body, our soul, our life in this moment. As is. Right now. And know, gratitude doesn’t mean we can’t move forward towards goals, it only means we are content with and present to the goodness right now.
  • No one and nothing will EVER be enough if we don’t start living gratitude on the daily in all facets of our life – those we see as both positive or not ideal. I cannot self-loathe my body into change (you know this, we’ve all tried it and failed), but I can self-love it forward.

It’s for this one big reason – gratitude – that I was inspired to create a new Challenge (after admittedly “forever” resigning from them 20 months ago)…

After Will was born, I didn’t feel 100% comfortable in my own skin. Regardless of the amazing feats of my birth and growing Will, I had to get used to my new body. Because let’s be honest – my postpartum body was very different then my pre-pregnancy body {physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and in every way I can possibly think of}. And something that I had to get used to living and loving in.

gratitude-collage-3My appreciation for my body runs deep, built over time through a commitment to engaging in practices that make me feel good. I knew that the one constant source of feeling good in my skin, increasing energy + “lightness” in my body, while creating ease + connection was rooted in my real food foundation. And it’s from that foundation that I was able to grow into gratitude living in a whole new way.

Because believe it or not, the first (and best) place to start – when we want to feel better in our body, have more energy, be more connected to our life – is with food. I’m not talking about eating in straightjacket fashion with rules and restrictions, but rather with an open heart + mind to uncover what vibrant health looks like on you. When we make eating real food our baseline, with the pursuit of feeling good as our guide, the barriers of what we “can”, “cannot”, “should” and “shouldn’t” eat fall away. They lose their power and become irrelevant. We can begin to move through the rest of our lives with more ease and joy (in life and around food) and less to no worry, shame + guilt.

The difference? Being in tune with your body – versus overriding its intuition, being open to discovery – versus trying to force change, is rooted in gratitude and love where we become the expert of our own body. There is no right or wrong, good or bad food, black or white, instead we have choice: The choice to pursue that which makes us feel, look and be our best. The choice to heal our relationship to food + body and take that first step in self-loving forward action. Because it’s the only way we really can move forward and create lasting shifts – in weight, in our lives, in inspiration, in fulfillment.

And so the GRATITUDE CHALLENGE is just that. A starting point – to guide you in establishing your own real food foundation, while offering inspiration through delicious recipes and building momentum via 8 weeks of practice in meal planning, tuning in to your intuition and learning optimal foods for vitality. We’ll talk real food, eating psychology (more on what effects your metabolic potential), gratitude and at the end of the day what really fills you up {spoiler: it’s not food}. I hope you’ll join for me this wonderful 8 week journey. But let me warn you – your life will be forever changed if you complete it. This program is not a quick fix and certainly not a diet. It’s a real food plan for real life and real, lasting shifts – rooted in gratitude, created with love. A different path, you might say. Because in order to change your results, you have to be willing to change the approach, right?

gratitude-challenge-collage-1

img_2713You might be wondering — what kind of recipes would you be eating? All recipes are naturally gluten-free, mostly dairy-free [with options to adjust based on your needs] and vegetarian-friendly. They are loaded with seasonal + fresh vegetables and rooted in real, whole foods created to energetically warm you up from the inside-out. Expect lots of crockpot {make-ahead} dishes, soups + chowders, one-pot meals and warm salads. There is no going to the grocery store to get tons of ingredients you’ll never use again – each recipe consists of simple ingredients you always have on hand. There are no restrictions and no extremes. I believe that keeping space for the things you love is not only imperative, but crucial in creating a balanced lifestyle where you both enjoy your food AND feel awesome all the time. To get your tastebuds watering, here’s a sampling of what you’ll see:

  • Zoodle Pizza Pie
  • Ginger Maple Glazed Salmon
  • Cumin Grilled Fish Tacos with Fiesta Mango Salsa
  • Nourishing Homemade Bone Broth
  • Curry Cashew Cream Chicken Salad Wrapped in Collards
  • Crunchy Sesame-Almond Fish Sticks
  • Roasted Stuffed Peppers
  • Heart-Warming Vegetable Minestrone
  • Peanut-Thai Stir Fry over Summer Squash Noodles
  • Open-Faced Shredded Pork Yam-Wich with Cashew Aioli
  • Simple Garlic-Ginger Stir Fry
  • Melt-In-Your-Mouth Fajita Yoodle Bowl
  • My Mom’s Famous Spaghetti {Squash} Pie
  • Beef Root Vegetable Stew
  • Roasted Pesto Fish + Green Vegetable Goodness – Tin Foil Dinner
  • New Age Chicken Soup
  • White Bean + Pesto Kale
  • Coconut Fish Chowder
  • Cream of Broccoli Chowder
  • Roasted Cauliflower Panzanella
  • Cucumber, Heirloom Tomato and Olive Anitpasto
  • Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots
  • Coconut Creamed Yams
  • PLUS over 20 Breakfast + Brunch Recipes like the Quinoa + Pumpkin Parfait, Bom Dia Muffins and Almond Butter Cacao Nibs Chia Seed Pudding!
  • And Snack, Dessert, Appetizer + Drink Recipes!

Learn more about the Gratitude Challenge Challenge as a whole by CLICKING HERE. Early bird sign ups (15% off) run until Sept. 15th. Challenge content for Week #1 gets sent out Friday, Sept. 23 and we offically begin Monday, 9.26!

sign-me-up

Did you like this post? Join our email list to receive inspirational posts like this one and stay up-to-date on new recipes, workouts and get the inside track + specials on Macks Mo upcoming programs [CLICK HERE]As always, I’d love to hear from you – post any questions, comments or feedback below and be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook andTwitter for continued inspiration and ways to create vibrant health!

Say Goodbye to Sugar Cravings!

Winter blues can tend to bring sweet cravings – as we miss the energy, lightness and joy of summer – but did you know that these can often be helped or eliminated by increasing our uptake in sweet vegetables? God knew what he was doing when he made most winter vegetables hearty (comforting) and sweet!!! I’m talking squash, yams, parsnips and beets baby! And speaking of… THIS. My newest winter salad.

So. Freaking. Good.

The Sweet Winter Wonder Salad. Please, please make it today. ‪#‎winnerwinnerHEALTHYdinner‬.

20151215_182136INGREDIENTS: 

  • 1 bunch roasted beets + 2 parsnips + 2 carrots, all organic, all peeled and diced
  • 1 cup Quinoa, soaked, sprouted and cooked
  • Seeds from 1/2 pomegranate, seeds removed by cutting pom in half, placing face down in bowl of water and opening/pulling seeds out)
  • Feta Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Currants
  • 1/2 cup sliced Almonds
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • Dash of Coconut Oil to toast almonds
  • Olive Oil + Sea Salt for vegetables
  • Olive Oil + Balsamic Vinegar whisked for dressing

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Toss vegetables with EVOO + salt. Roast for 60 min.
  3. Combine {cooked} quinoa, pomegranate, currants and feta.
  4. Toast almonds, add to salad.
  5. Toss finished vegetables and dressing with salad, then top with fresh basil.
  6. Be prepared for your tastebuds to die and go to heaven. 🙂

The Sauce IS Boss.

Some of you know this, but I live with two boys. Yep, not one, but two – this being the case for basically the last year and a half. My husband [obviously] and my brother-in-law, Andrew. You may also know that boys – or men, rather, tend to have different “dietary” preferences and demands than women. I love vegetables. Love them. I don’t need to sauce them up, I love them “as is” – cooked or raw. My “boys” however, are a different story. A good meal means a good sauce. The sauce — is BOSS in my house. Can you relate?

One other thing you may or may not know – most sauces aren’t healthy or nutrient-dense [two guidelines for most food choices in my household]. Whether store-bought or borrowed from a blog, they are generally loaded with salt + sugar, and generally make no designation between high-quality, good-for-you fats and over-processed, nutrient-void ones. Marinara, BBQ, ketchup, Alfredo — you know the list.

In the summer, we don’t crave “heavy”, warm foods. The temperature is warmer, so our body desires light and cooling foods – like salads and smoothies. Come fall and winter though, our cravings for comfort and warm foods awaken. So, in the summer, creating dishes loaded with vegetables and fresh salads isn’t met with “too much” challenge from “my boys”. However, with the change of season, returns the desire for…sauces. So, what’s a girl to do? Create BOSS sauces, of course.

Below is my collection of what I’ve been working on. Each recipe blends seasonal foods and “traditional” recipes with my cleaned up, “health-ified” twist. I hope they’re as big of a hit in your home as they were in mine. Accompanied by the quote coined by my brother-in-law regarding every meal I cook — “Wow, this is actually really good.”

ImageAcorn Squash Alfredo:
– Disclaimer: We eat high-quality dairy products and use them as a great source of good fat and protein in our diet. High-quality meaning it is #1: pastured (very different than pasteurized; meaning the cow was raised on grass in an open field) and #2: raw (which would be unpasteurized). Pasteurization (heating) actually destroys the enzymes present in raw milk: lactase – which digests and absorbs milk sugar lactose, lipase – absorbs & digests milk fats and phosphatase – used to absorb calcium (which allows allows lactose digestion).
Ingredients:
2 cups each: raw milk and vegetable broth (or homemade stock)
1/2 cup raw whipping cream
1 cup raw sharp cheddar cheese
Juice + zest from 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. each of nutmeg, salt & pepper
2 Tbls. raw butter
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 acorn squash, seeds & “guts” removed [could also use butternut]

Directions:

  1. In a large glass bowl, add 1″ of water. Place the half of acorn squash face down, then cover with saran wrap. Microwave to steam for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large sauce pan on medium heat, add butter and garlic. Sauté for 1-2 minutes [careful not to burn]. Have milk & veg broth handy and add to pan when garlic’s done. Add lemon juice, zest and seasonings at this time also.
  3. Whisk sauce constantly for 4-5 minutes, until it starts to boil. Add cream and continue to whisk until it returns to a boil, then stir in cheese and mix until “dissolved”. Remove from heat.
  4. When done steaming, scoop squash meat out of shell into blender, then add sauce. Blend to puree all sauce ingredients together.

*I served this once over spaghetti squash for myself, brown rice pasta or fresh linguine for Regan. Flavor suggestion: Regan thinks that if you cook a “flavorful meat” like organic sausage that the sauce is fine “as is” – if you cook it with a milder meat, say organic, free-range chicken, he likes to add a little “heat” – cayenne pepper. I also served this over farro and kale [I cooked the farro, then in a separate pan, cooked organic sausage with kale added in the last 2 minutes].

IMAG0674Vegan Pumpkin Alfredo
*Inspired by Kris Carr’s Pumpkin Risotto Recipe
Ingredients:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight in 1 cup water
1 (15 oz. can) organic coconut milk [more if desired to make “thinner”}
1 cup organic coconut or regular water
1/3 sugar pumpkin, seeds & “guts” removed [stem cut off]
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp. each: sage and thyme
1 tsp. each cinnamon and chili powder
Salt + pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large glass bowl, add 1″ of water. Place the half of pumpkin face down, then cover with saran wrap. Microwave to steam for 10 minutes. If desired, you can steam the whole pumpkin and use for other recipes like a pumpkin soup or smoothie through the week [I did this!].
  2. Once pumpkin is cooked, scoop the meat out of shell into a large food processor.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients and blend until desired consistency.

* This, I served on raw zucchini noodles with grilled game sausage over top [a mix of elk, venison & antelope].

IMAG0675Master Marinara Sauce
I got this recipe from a fellow instructor and friend’s husband, Mark Caggiano. I followed his recipe to a “T” the first time and the boys swooned over it. The second time, I add a few extra ingredients to make it more of a “vodka” sauce and they loved that one too! So this is really a 2-for-1 recipe deal!
Ingredients:
1 can San Marzano Tomatoes [Mark tells me these make all the difference; and I now agree!]
1/4 cup extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or chopped fine
1 Tbls. each of oregano & basil
1 tsp. each of: thyme & red pepper flakes
Salt + pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook garlic in olive oil 1-2 minutes [careful not to burn]. Have tomato can open & ready to go.
  2. Poor tomato can over garlic and reduce heat to medium low.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, then cover and cook 20-40 minutes [I did 30-40].
  4. Blend sauce in blender.

*The second time I made it, I added 1 Tbls. red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup raw whipping cream.

Spaghetti Squash Primavera

spaghetti squash primaveraI love spaghetti squash. And this smorgasbord of vegetables on top of spaghetti squash is pure delight. In the recipe, you use store-bought marinara sauce. I usually make my own, but sometimes it’s nice to just pour it pre-made straight out of the jar. Do you feel me? My new favorite brand is Mezzetta Tomato Basil, filled with all whole food ingredients and found in PCC, Thriftway and QFC Grocery Stores here in Seattle. Regardless of the brand, always check ingredients – buy products that contain only ingredients you’d use at home to make a pasta sauce (citric acid and “natural” flavors excluded). I’m talking tomatoes, olive oil, basil, garlic, red wine vinegar, honey, wine, tomato paste; get the picture? And you don’t have to include every veggie listed below. You can swap, exclude or add in any others you’d desire. And last — enjoy. Let us know how you like it!

1 medium spaghetti squash
2 whole carrots, peeled and sliced thin
3 celery stocked, sliced
2 zucchini, quartered
2 yellow squash, quartered
Florets from 1 crown broccoli, stem discarded
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed (or other desired bean)
2 tsp. each of: minced garlic, thyme, Italian seasoning
Pinch of sea salt + pepper
1 jar store-bought organic marinara sauce (check ingredients – no chemicals, artificial preservatives or additives; only real food ingredients you’d use to make a sauce at home!)

  1. Hold spaghetti squash standing up lengthwise over cutting board and use a large serrated knife to slice shell off squash. Once complete, remove stem, cut in half and use a form to scoop out seeds. Fill a large glass bowl with ½” of water, then place SS on top and cover with saran wrap. Cook in microwave for designated times, based on size:
    – Small = 10 minutes
    – Medium = 12 minutes
    – Large = 15 minutes
  2. Meanwhile, cook carrots & celery in water (sparingly cover bottom of large sauté pan), covered and on medium heat for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally & add more water as needed.
  3. Next, add garlic, seasonings, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes and broccoli. Again, add more water as needed (always want a little on bottom to be able to steam the veggies). Cook, covered for another 8 minutes. At this time, add the jar of sauce + beans and simmer on low, covered for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove SS from microwave and carefully drain out excess water. Add vegetable primavera to the squash and stir to combine.

Your [Not-So] Typical Gray Seattle Day

On a chilly day, we want something warm & comforting. In Seattle, that often means running to the nearest coffee house for that warm brew of goodness. But with spring just around the corner and with the help of my friends at the West Seattle Produce Stand, on THIS [not-so] typical gray Thursday in Seattle, my day was brightened in a better-than-expected way and yours can be too!

When we fill our bodies with whole, real and fresh ingredients, especially those derived from plant food, we see a huge shift in our energy levels and improvement in our digestion, to name a few benefits, while additionally not being able to overlook the mental boost we get from feeding our body good, delicious food!

Kale Salad & Mango

The best type of food to buy is always local and organic whenever possible. However, knowing where the food came from and trusting its source is just half the equation; once we have these fresh ingredients, to enjoy them, we need an idea of what to do with them, right? I consider myself SO lucky to live approximately 6 blocks from the West Seattle Produce Stand – where it’s not only convenient to shop this way, but the people there make it fun. Yes, I just said produce shopping was fun. There are three employees – owner Bruce (your soon-to-be favorite mate; he’s from New Zealand) and the ever-smiling Robby and Shannon; who are, by the way sooo helpful. Produce is not only their expertise, but passion, so gobbling up new facts and flavors from them is my new favorite past-time.

So today, on my typical Thursday, a visit to the WSPS not only boosted my body (from my purchases), but also my mood. I encourage all of our West Seattle community (clients, friends & strangers) to get down there ASAP and support not only one of our brightest local businesses, but feel good about the food you buy and the people you buy it from! All recipes posted below came from the Stand today; and if you’re wondering, yes, they were all DE-licious.

And PS: Tell them Whitney from Macks Mo sent you with love and you’ll receive $2 off any $20 or more purchase!

Pesto Kale & Arugula Salad:

1 head Lacinato (aka Dinosaur) Kale, ends of stems cut off then chopped into bite-size pieces

2 handfuls arugula

Handful of grape tomatoes, quartered

½ cucumber, peeled & quartered

1 whole carrot, peeled & sliced horizontally

1 avocado, meat sliced into cubes & pit removed

Leaves from 3 stems of basil

½ cup walnuts

1 tsp. minced garlic

Sea salt + pepper to taste

  1. To make pesto, combine last 4 lines of ingredients in a food processor with 1/8 cup water. Puree until desired consistency (smooth or chunkier; can always add more water).
  2. Add kale, half the avocado meat, arugula and pesto to a large bowl and get dirty. Use your hands to massage pesto & avocado into every inch of the salad (helps to soften kale and slightly “wilt”.
  3. Rinse hands and add remaining ingredients to the salad.

Fresh Homemade Vitamin Water
Inspired by and Adapted from Mama Earth Organic

Admission – I don’t have a pitcher. I know, as one who likes to play host to parties a lot I should. And will have one by the end of the weekend so that I can make MANY more of these! Hence the blender “pitcher”.  J

INGREDIENTS:

½ lemon, sliced horizontally

Leaves from 2 basil stems

1 lime, sliced horizontally

  1. Add fresh basil to the bottom of a pitcher. Press or twist a muddler (or wooden spoon) to bruise leaves and release the flavor; you don’t want to totally crush them.
  2. Next, add the lemon and lime, doing the same thing. Slightly muddling or pressing wooden spoon into them to release flavor. Add 1 cup of ice cubes then fill with water.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. And I would recommend letting the flavors steep together for at least an hour before serving! A great non-alcoholic alternative for parties! Or even a way to infuse plain alcohol for natural flavors (like vodka).

Shrimp Tabbouleh

This quick meal makes 4 servings and is great to make as a dinner with plans for leftovers or on a Sunday to have for meals throughout the week. With a fresh blend of tomatoes and herbs, this flavorful dish reminds me that summer is near.

Shrimp TabouelehINGREDIENTS:

1 lbs. medium raw shrimp, shell & tail on

1 cup bulgur

1 cup diced grape or cherry tomatoes

1 cucumber, peeled & sliced into 1/4’s

1 avocado, sliced into chunks

1 tsp. each of cumin & minced garlic

Juice from 1 lemon

Handful chopped parsley & mint (same amount between the two, about 1/2 cup total chopped

3 Tbls. olive oil

Sea salt + pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Start the bulgur first. Boil 1.5 cups water, then add the bulgur and return to boil. Cover and turn off heat. Do not remove lid or move from heat; let sit for 25 minutes.
  2. While that’s cooking, prepare everything else: in a large bowl, add cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, parsley and mint. Separately, whisk 2 Tbls. oil, lemon juice & cumin. Add to vegetables and season with sea salt + pepper.
  3. With 6 minutes left on the bulgur, add 1 Tbls. + garlic to saute pan. Heat for 1 minute, then add shrimp. Cook for 5 minutes, until shrimp are cooked through and turned pink.
  4. Add bulgur & shrimp to large bowl and stir to fully combine flavors.

Balsamic Beet & Arugula Salad

Beets can be messy, I know. Purple everywhere. But aren’t they delicious? 🙂 This recipe minimizes your “mess” but doesn’t fall short on flavor. You can make a bunch of beets at the beginning of the week and add in the arugula + other salad components each meal to keep it fresh. Great served warm in the winter!

Beets and Arugula

INGREDIENTS:
3 beets, scrubbed well! and then sliced horizontally – tail & top cut off
A few handfuls of arugula
1/2 cup sunflower seeds + 1/8 cup dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar + 3 tsp. cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbls. coconut oil x 2
Raw milk parmesan shavings [or feta cheese], sea salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
#1: Place 1 Tbls. coconut oil in large sautoir pan with beets. Saute for 2 minutes, then add 1/4 cup water and cover. This will steam the beets, but make sure to stir occasionally. Cook for 8-10 minutes; until beets are soft.
#2: In a small, saute pan, on low, heat remaining Tbls. coconut oil and add sunflower seeds + dried coconut. Saute for 1-2 minutes, careful not to burn, then remove from heat.
#3: In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk balsamic and olive oil together.
#4: Place finished beets in a large bowl and toss with remaining ingredients.