Let’s get messy together (in the kitchen!)

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Let’s talk smoothies. Juices. Chicken, and beans. Some people ski, some people sing, some people volunteer. My “hobby” has become looking for healthy recipes, and then getting messy in the kitchen. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t exactly call this a “hobby,” I would call it “Always adding to, tweaking, and focusing on thriving with my KACP.” A hobby is something that somebody does for fun because they choose to enjoy it in their free time. And while recipe-hunting and cooking can definitely be fun in my free time, I didn’t exactly “choose” what has become a passion, it was presented to me in the form of cancer. When you hear the words “you have cancer,” you try and roll up your sleeves and figure out what you can do to best take care of yourself. And that’s where the KACP comes into play.

I haven’t talked much about the KACP lately, but that doesn’t mean that the wheels aren’t always turning, that I’m pretty much always mindful of how whatever decisions I’m making, whatever choices I have, can either play positively or negatively into the plan. Am I happy? Does my body feel good? Am I rested? Am I energetic? Did I try a new food today? Did I move my body? Did I take the time to focus on gratitude? Am I harboring any anger or resentment, for whatever reason? Am I surrounding myself with people who only make me feel good? These are all some of the questions that I ask myself on a daily basis. And while ​some people may lay their head down on their pillow at night thinking, “Where did the day go today?” I try to not let that be the case for myself, because I’m way more mindful of where exactly my day is going. Does that mean that I’m not busy? Nope. In fact, I’ve actually been feeling lately like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done that I’d like! But I do my best to carve out time to check in and figure out if I’m taking good care of myself that day. Some days, it’s easier than others, for sure. Some days I’m cranky, tired, or just don’t want to be at work (just like everybody else, probably), and on those days, it’s a lot harder to want to eat a salad, exercise, or feel grateful for something. Because I’m human. But on the days when I can do it, I try to focus on the connection between the mind and the body. On the days when I can do it (which thankfully are more often than the days that I can’t), I try and nourish my body with a plant-based diet, sweat out the toxins, and do something nice for my mind, like meditate, blog, or watch a funny TV show w/ SHL. I’m taking private yoga lessons right now and hope that not only do I gain some flexibility, but that my mind clears and settles down a little bit as well.

The problem, I’m finding (if you want to call it a problem) is that I wish that I had more time to focus on the KACP, but that pesty thing called work really gets in the way. Not that I’d rather not be working, because then I think I’d have too much time on my hands. I enjoy having a place to go every day, helping others, gabbing with my co-workers, and getting a paycheck and health insurance. These are all really lovely things. But by the time I get home at night and feed the cats, it’s on to working out, which could be anywhere from 45-60 minutes, and then showering, and then getting into the kitchen to try and “whip up” a healthy meal. Then dishes and kitchen clean-up (just a tip, in case you’re not already doing this: I clean up as I’m cooking!), then SHL comes home, and by that point I’m a zombie. Now I understand that this is how most people go through their days—work, errands, chores, bills, cooking, cleaning, etc. And we often think that because everybody else is doing it, we have nothing to complain about. Well, I don’t want to complain, I just want don’t want to feel like a zombie! I want to focus on how to make it feel better for me (and if you’d like to join me, then by all means!). But just because we’re all busy, doesn’t mean that I don’t want to figure out if I’m giving my mind and my body the best care that I possibly can. So on top of work and the bills and the house and keeping up with relationships, I also have to fight. Every day. I’m not complaining: This is just how it is. But I am fighting.

So let’s talk about those smoothies, juices, chicken, and beans. My green smoothies are coming along, although I just can’t seem to do them every day (yesterday I did the vegan cinnamon roll smoothie instead). As long as I’m always working towards my 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and my other breakfast options are healthy, I’m wondering if I still need to juice (technically, blend) every single day. And I’m having a difficult time getting them to not be so thick! This morning’s kale, baby spinach, cucumber, carrot, strawberry and apple smoothie was a little bit on the thick side for me, even with lots of ice and water… (Maybe I need to break down and get a juicer, instead of just shoving everything into my old blender? I emailed Kris and she sent me a link to this video of hers: http://kriscarr.com/blog-video/how-to-make-a-green-smoothie/). I’m also so confused if somebody with cancer should be green juicing or blending (making green smoothies, which is what I’m doing now). It looks like Kris mostly juices, with occasional blending, but I’ll need to consult my Dana-Farber nutritionist on this one as well.

Blending

Moving on to chicken. I decided to have one last hurrah with this delicious meat before going veg for the week. So I made a sticky garlic chicken with broccoli and brown rice for SHL and I, a nice Sunday night dinner. It was delish! I halved the recipe since it’s just the two of us, and gave myself less chicken and more broccoli ( but that’s just my preference these days; the plate below is SHL’s). Find the recipe here, from the glorious pinchofyum website: http://pinchofyum.com/sticky-garlic-chicken-broccoli.

chicken with broccoli

So since cutting out meat, at least for the week, I finally decided to try Ree Drummond’s black bean burgers that I saw her make on her show not that long ago. Please, please dear readers, tell me that you know who Ree Drummond is?! The Pioneer Woman? The woman who lives on a farm, home schools her kids, is married to the “Marlboro Man,” wears the coolest blouses with long beautiful earrings, is completely down-to-earth, loves her sister, and even has the prettiest Kitchen Aid (probably custom-made) that I have ever seen? But back to the black bean burgers. I am pretty much obsessed with black beans these days, so I wanted to give this recipe a whirl. Turns out that it was absolutely fantastic! Black beans (drained but not rinsed) with bread crumbs (I used panko whole wheat gluten-free breadcrumbs, because that’s what I had in the house), chili powder, an egg, salt, and onion. Good so far, right? They make nice thick patties. Heat them up with some olive oil (I omitted the butter on my whole wheat buns) and voila! Add some cheese, if you’d like, mayo, ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, whatever tickles your fancy! I just loved these! And OK, you dragged it out of me: I will admit that I loved them so much, that I actually ate two! (Did you ever see the movie “The Switch” where Jason Bateman kind of makes that “num num num” noise when he eats? Well, that was me last night). I was thinking that it would be good paired with homemade sweet potato fries, or a salad (or hey, if you’re hungry, why not both?). Find the recipe here: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2014/09/black-bean-burger/.

black bean burgers

Tonight I’m trying Sweet Potatoes with black beans, onions, corn, and cilantro. It calls for cream cheese and sour cream, but I think that I’ll omit that, and try the Greek Yogurt instead. I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking the exact same thing too the other day– How can greek yogurt really compare to wonderful, creamy, delicious, sour cream? Well, put it with some cilantro, olive oil, and lemon juice and um, it’s just about amazing! Especially with black bean tostadas! But there I go again with the black beans…

The Maine Thing

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OK, so it’s been like a bajillion years since I last blogged. Well, about 2 weeks, but I guess it feels like longer. This past weekend my Mom and I took our annual mother-daughter trip, which was fantastic. Some years, when I’ve been able to take a week off of work, we’ve done some trips abroad (Peru, Iceland, Costa Rica, and Belize). But the last few years with only a couple of days to take we’ve stayed more locally, which makes it easier to get in more time relaxing, and less time traveling. This year we decided that October would be a beautiful month to head up to Rockland, Maine, and indeed it was. The fall foliage was at it’s height, with mostly golden yellow and bright red leaves (kind of like a McIntosh apple!) lining the property where we stayed. One day we took a walk out to the jetty in the back of the resort, leading to a lighthouse.

Jetty

The view from our room. Good Morning Maine!

Our view

The day was so warm, with a few sailboats dotting the horizon, and kayakers seemed to love the calm bay. Another day we went to the Farnsworth Art Museum and ate lunch in town. We enjoyed dinner out at restaurants called Primo (the ultimate in farm-to-table) and In Good Company (the eggplant and parmesan soup was so yummy and creative!), and I loved the fruit smoothie at the resort with the acai and the blackberries.

Fruit smoothie

My Mom and I get along like two peas in a pod, so traveling with her is always a joy, and never, ever stressful. We’re on the same wavelength, from what activities we feel like doing, to what we feel like eating, to handling little snafu’s (like the smoke alarm chirping just as we were getting ready to go to sleep one night!).

Veggie omelets, workouts at the gym, and salads with every meal made me feel like I was taking care of myself, even while on vacation (though I did also splurge and have an ooey gooey grilled cheese sandwich– on multigrain bread– and pizza– with good-for-you pesto!). Nine + hours of sleep every night was just what my body needed (my mind needed the change of scenery, I think). We also shopped and enjoyed the spa (80 minute massages and hydrating wraps are sooo luxurious!).

Sam in Maine

My beautiful Mom/BFF!

Mom in Maine

Sam and Mom selfie

I heart my Mom. I am one lucky girl!

Four days away in Maine, and back home now. Not so overjoyed to be back at work (very grateful that I have a job, but let’s face it, if I could cook and do yoga and blog and get massages every day, I sure would!), but very happy to be back home w/ SHL. Every day I’m trying to find the time to focus on my health and well-being. So if I’m not drinking my veggies or taking a nap, then I’m getting some exercise, meditating, cuddling up with SHL at home, talking to a friend, or looking for new recipes. Every day is a journey, and I just want to take this opportunity to thank you all for being on this journey with me. xoxo.

Carrot cake crazy, the expansion of Team Lozier, and celebrating a great love

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Fall is upon us, dear friends. My favorite month has arrived. I don’t know exactly why, but for some reason, October has always been the most divine month. You’re never quite sure what the weather will be like, but you know that it’s usually crisp, but not cold. ​ Everything is flavored either pumpkin or cinnamon, pencils are freshly sharpened, the gorgeous New England leaves make the sky look even more vibrantly blue, and we have a Monday off in the middle of the month (that is generally the mark of a good month, whether or not there will be some bonus time off of work!).

Tomorrow SHL and I celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary. It’s brought up a lot of emotions for me this year, maybe even more so than last year, as I’m slowly coming to realize that I have been in a state of shock for the past 13 months. Now, coming out of that shock and into the “real world,” there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do to go back to that hazy state of disbelief. For in that trance, I could pretend like nothing has really changed. In reality, my whole world has changed over this last year, and I’m now faced with how to move forward finally understanding that cancer does that– changes things (although as I’ll describe in a minute, some things feel more intensely beautiful because of the gratitude at being alive). Kris Carr says that cancer has been her teacher. I generally think of teaching and learning in the positive, and although there is nothing positive about having cancer, I have come to realize that over the last year my experiences have been, dare I say it, more fulfilling than ever. There’s not just a cozy night at home with SHL, a dinner with a friend, or a vacation. These things have taken on new meaning– like everything, even a bite of chocolate, is more delicious. That cozy night at home, those laughs with my friends, that amazing vacation spent exploring and trying new things, it’s all so nourishing. Except when you feel sad. Then, it is as if everything has a film over it, and the things that you once relished, are now deemed “fine.” I’m working on this, eager to get back that place where everything feels, smells, and tastes rich. But even through my sadness, my fear, I can still feel the love. The blessings. The good.

It’s been a tough month. I’ve been anxious, and yet continuing to take care of myself the best that I can. There is the one Sam who is walking along her own path (perhaps on the beach), and then the other Sam, who is right next to her, lugging what feels like a huge boulder.

The first Sam is empowered. She’s enjoying feeling the warm waves lapping at her feet, the sun on her face (with sunscreen on, of course, even in her daydreams!), the sand caught in between her toes. She’s eating right, exercising, meditating, listening to positive affirmations on the way to and from work, making plans with family and seeing friends, cooking SHL dinner, and making appointments at Dana-Farber to try and make sure that she’s taking care of the whole picture.

Then there’s the “other” Sam. The one carrying (more like dragging) that huge boulder. She’s sunburned, tired, and confused. She’s exhausted, but more than that, she’s afraid. Where did this boulder come from? Will she ever be able to let it go? And if she has to hang on to it, what will happen to all of the hard work that she’s been doing? Will it be for nothing? This scares her even more.

And I wonder: How can cancer not feel like a giant boulder upon somebody’s shoulders? Does it get easier, as Kris Carr promised when I met her last year? I have to believe that it does. I have to believe that when somebody is diagnosed with an “incurable” (I hate that word, can we never say it again? It takes away all hope, and I refuse to live in that world) cancer, they have moments of doubt, fear, and anger. What I’m learning is how to cope with those feelings, how to process them, say them out loud, cry, hibernate, write, cook, stargaze, journal, wonder why, speak to g-d, and then? … Well then, keep going. Keep walking along that beautiful beach. Understand that for now, the boulder is there, and I am learning to live with it, but knowing that someday, the boulder will feel lighter.

I work on trying to figure out ways to feel more in control of a life that feels like it could go off of the rails at any moment. Cancer does that—it takes away your feeling of power. But I won’t let it. I will speak to it, explain that we must, g-d willing, find a way to live sympatico.

So I take it one day at a time. Not going to say that feeling like you’re living your life that way is easy, but for the time being, it’s helping me to manage my fear. (I’ve also been trying to tease out the differences between fear and negativity; sometimes they feel the same, despite the definition in the dictionary. But I think that I’ve finally got it. Am I afraid? Yes. Am I negative? No). The other day I jumped in feet first to make my first vegan carrot cake from Kris Carr’s website. I was so excited; I got my carrots, apple, ginger, cinnamon, dates… I don’t exactly understand why so many vegan recipes ask you to soak nuts for hours on end, but I did it, pecans and cashews in water, for 6 + hours. The cake part seemed to come out OK, it had that nice orangey-carrot-cake-shade, and smelled like cinnamon and ginger (though it was a little damp, maybe I didn’t dry the nuts well enough before blending?), but the “cream cheese frosting,” really should have just been called the “disgusting, trying to be like cream cheese, but really resembling some mashed up chickpea frosting, even though there were no chickpeas in the recipe.” Ugh! In the garbage can it went! How can you make a frosting with cashews? I asked, soothing myself with a raw brownie instead.

I’ll be heading this week for a trip to an integrative doctor, really excited to be expanding my health and wellness and making sure that I’m looking at the big picture, and tapping into all of my resources. I saw another new doctor the other day and at the end of the appointment informed him that he’s now an important part of what I like to call “Team Lozier.” He chuckled and asked, “What, are there t-shirts or something?” To which I said with a straight face, “As a matter of fact, there are. My friends had them made.” (I just love that). Team Lozier is budding with amazing doctors, practitioners, spiritual guides, and guru’s. And over the weekend, SHL (I got to marry my best friend, how great is that?) and I will be celebrating 4 amazing years as husband and wife. No marriage is perfect, and it would be silly for me to try and paint that picture. Nonetheless, there is nobody else in the world that feels like they could be as right for me as he is. There is nobody else that I would rather be walking down this path with (he sure makes that boulder feel lighter), and nobody else that I could love more.

Laughing underneath the chuppah Sean and Sam holding hands