It’s all about the food…#simplefood #keepitfresh

Hey everybody! HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays and stayed happy and healthy!
Speaking of healthy and happy, I know a lot of you likely made some resolutions to get healthy or lose weight. So, I wanted to share this recipe idea with you, because the Clan is all about #simplefood and finding balance, living abundantlyAND because it’s so easy, tastes sooo amazing and has plenty of leftovers, which I am famous for making over into something new for the next day!

My receipt from the veg stand in Albanian (no, I don't know all of the Albanian names yet!)

My receipt from the veg stand in Albanian (no, I don’t know all of the Albanian names yet!)


To begin with, chop up any and every fresh vegetable you can get your hands on. Don’t think about whether it will taste good with the other veg, just add it anyway! We almost always add potatoes, carrots, cabbages, leeks, onions, garlic, zucchini, celery and spinach, but it will vary by availability. Although frozen spinach, peas and such are lovely to just toss in when fresh isn’t available. Be sure to #keepitfresh for health and flavours sake!
Just put it all in the pot!

Just put it all in the pot!

Add any and all fresh herbs that are available. Right now, it’s basil, thyme, rosemary, dill and some type of cilantro-looking stuff I don’t know what it is, but it is commonly used in Albanian dishes). Just chop them up and throw them in the pot – use an abundance! There are no right or wrong amounts, unless of course, spicy things need to be accounted for, but my goal is usually just to fill the pot 3/4 full.
Add everything that's available -  it really will taste great, it's fast and easy to prep...

Add everything that’s available – it really will taste great, it’s fast and easy to prep…

Add a lot of love and positive thoughts, salt and pepper, a can of coconut cream and a jar of tomato puree or crushed tomatoes. Fill with just enough water to cover the bounty, cook on medium heat for a couple of hours and voilà! You have an amazing meal!
On the stove for a couple of hours The smell is amazing and look at those colors!), while I catch up on other must do's...

On the stove for a couple of hours The smell is amazing and look at those colors!), while I catch up on other must do’s…


Finally, don’t forget it can be made over the next day by adding pasta, rice, beans. Be creative! Serve with bread and a little cheap (or expensive) wine. The Clan likes to throw some almonds, macadamias, pecans or walnuts in our soups instead of croutons!
The best thing about this is that it’s so simple, uses what’s on hand and little thought, can last for at least 2-3 meals and be made over into something new and leaves you with more time to enjoy the beauties of your world…or at least time to spend with your favorite people.
Less prep and cook time leaves me with more time for things like meditating with my favorite people!

Less prep and cook time leaves me with more time for things like meditating with my favorite people!

“Me time” vs Feeding the soul…

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Sometimes people ask me how get “me” time, being a single parent and travelling so often.
The truth is, I don’t really believe in “me time”. It seems an awful lot like self-gratification – like saying, “I’ll be a good parent if I give myself the gift of a vacay from my family”. I don’t believe a parent has to be in the company of their child 100% of the time. As a matter of fact, as my children grow older, they have less need of my constant presence, and it’s satisfying to think that I am raising kids who are self-sufficient!
I DO often engage in the feeding of my soul. The difference, I think, is the focus, or intention. “Me time” is focusing on the “me” or ego, while feeding the soul is the intention of putting energy into building a healthy self. Aren’t they the same? I don’t think so.
Feeding of the soul encourages emotional, spiritual and mental growth, so that I have more to give and can be a better receiver. It makes me healthy. I pray, meditate, use affirmations and visualizing, reading / researching aspects or traditions of spirituality, take long walks, watch encouraging or motivational programs, and so on. It isn’t always about relaxation, but it doesn’t necessarily include a lot of wild adventure or glamour, either.
If I was engaging in “me time”, gauging from the way many people do, it could look a lot like escapism. That’s not me and doesn’t represent my lifestyle choices, or benefit my family. I don’t need to escape from my kids and I don’t want to vacation without my fam – they’re the coolest people I know!
Perspective and intention are really important and can lay the foundation for a healthy outlook on life…

You’re WHAT?

Birthday dining in Montengro

Birthday dining in Montengro

I have alluded to it and never publicly acknowledged it. Not that anyone should really care in this day and age – everyone is entitled to their preferences, right? Even so, I am ready to step up and own it. I don’t even know when, or how, I really knew…it was just a sort of “aha” moment, when I thought, “this is what I am.”. I’ll tell the story…

When we arrived in Stockholm, Sweden, I struggled to find decent healthy food for a reasonable price. There are no reasonable food prices in Stockholm. Everyone was hungry all of the time. I felt like I was hunting for food everyday and no matter how much I bought, it wasn’t enough. We stayed in an apart-hostel and the kitchen was nice, but minuscule.

Then, we moved on to Poland. I loved Warsaw, but we weren’t long for there. Soon, we arrived in Krakow and another apart-hostel and tiny kitchen. It was here we fell In love kebabs. Food, glorious food! They were cheap and easy and we really couldn’t cook meat in the apartment, as there was no real cooking utensils for that (unless we wanted to boil it, and I didn’t!)

On to Budapest, and what a wonderful time! We loved the castles and inexpensive food choices – and the KITCHEN! We stayed in an Airbnb with a real kitchen! Good times we had, but something was amiss – everyone was growing increasingly dissatisfied. Complaints of aching and intestinal discomfort. Headaches and wild cravings for constant sugary things that we rarely ever indulged in. This didn’t happen at the amazing vegan restaurant we loved to eat at, though and a seed was planted…

We traveled to Serbia and beyond to Montenegro with that tiny seed ever so slowly sprouting…

Awaiting our meat...

Awaiting our meat…

When we arrived in Greece, the meat and french fry filled gyros were not only amazingly delicious, but wonderfully cheap, too – we could feed the whole family an abundance for under $20! But then, after a few gyro fueled heartburn blazes, the novelty wore off. We were left all craving still more meat, or so we thought, but more meat wasn’t the answer – we still were feeling less than our best, or even our okay-est.

We discussed it amongst ourselves. It was a practicality thing to begin with – meat is too hard to cook in tiny places lacking the means to cook it in the way we prefer and we didn’t always like the local options in several of our stays (That would NOT include Poland and Greece! A kebab or a gyro are amazing and wonderful, divinely inspired foods!). After a while, we found that we were using less and less meat and even when we thought we wanted it, it was disappointing and tasteless, and didn’t make (some of) us feel well. When we ate foods rich in fruits and veg, which we love, we felt so much better. Able to wake up in the morning, better and clearer thinking. Of course, it wasn’t just meat doing that – it was the sort of tourist-eating-new-foods that added to our problems, with processed foods and foods that we were unaccustomed to.

Then, it evolved into “part-time” vegetarianism ( I know! I have heard it said that there is no part time allowed – the reality is that, statistically, most people fit into the 80/20% group – 80% of food is vegetarian and 20% of intake is some form of animal products, albeit sometimes without knowing it). We would remain meat-free at home, but be free choice when eating out or at the homes of others. That idea didn’t last long…

Vegetarian Caveman stew

Vegetarian Caveman stew

So, after all of this time (about 4 months of avoiding it) we are ready to come out. We are no longer meat eaters. Not everyone is in the same circle. With 8 people, we have varying degrees of who likes/wants/does what. Everyone is almost completely processed sugar-free, with the exception being an occasional coffee, a birthday celebration or the local bakery bread that a few of the kids like. There are a few lacto-ovo vegetarians, one gluten-free vegetarian, a few that prefer eating vegetarian food but don’t want to fully commit when they smell bacon cooking or chicken roasting (which is fine!), and one gluten-free mostly raw vegan – that’s me. I have some serious health issues to overcome and this is what is helping me right now. I am eating about 90% raw-vegan, but include an occasional egg or mayo for protein and fat once in a while.

Mixed veg over rice and sheep's yogurt sauce (not pictured) all prepped in our tiny little Greek apartment!

Mixed veg over rice and sheep’s yogurt sauce (not pictured) all prepped in our tiny little Greek apartment!

Are we committed? Three of us are, but not as a lifestyle. Not all of the kids are sure they want to make this a lifelong plan, but really appreciate the bennies right now. We will not become religious about a meatless diet. This wasn’t a choice based on ethics. We raised ethical meat and dairy ourselves and I am not opposed to meat as food. This is a health and practicality issue. Travel and meat prep has been challenging and unsatisfying. Meat and meat products just don’t fit our lives right now and we need the health and vitality we have gained more than food worries, expenses, wild cravings and such.