Momma Told Me: June 2017

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Simple Tips To Find Balance In A Crazy Life + Delicious Recipes

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Simple tips to maintain balance in a hectic life. #NatureMadeHealthPack #AD
 Last year I turned 30.

It was like any other birthday. Honestly, as much of a fuss as most of my friends have made when turning the 'big 3-0' it's really quite un-extraordinary. I'm a pretty firm believer that age is but a number to chronicle the passing of time, rather than mark the loss of it. And while it's true, as we progress on this crazy journey called life, there are legal and physical landmarks often associated with various milestones, one is only as young (or old) as they are in spirit and in heart.

This all being said our bodies are the vessel in which we progress through life, and more than any number on a birthday card, it's how we choose to take care of it which ultimately weighs the largest on how much living we'll get out of it.
So, back to me and my birthday, there I was feeling no less or more extraordinary than the day before, having recently turned 30. I'd visited my personal physician for an annual checkup and he'd shared a few criticisms of his own. Side note: Am I the only one who feels as though they've let their doctor down when they get less than ideal feedback???? But I digress- I could go into the nitty gritty but it really comes down to this:

One's health is and always well be a complex and constantly changing picture painted by a number of factors. Some we can impact, while others we can only anticipate, and others we simply can't avoid. There is no magical formula, no paint by number, to perfect health.

When I asked my personal doctor what his best advice was for me, knowing I had some personal health hurdles to begin trying to overcome, his response was simple,

"The same thing I tell every patient. Make time."

Time, of course, for one's health. Whether it's researching new recipes that are lower in sodium/sugars/fats, researching one's family tree for hereditary dispositions, logging the amount of water drank in a day, or scheduling an annual checkup. So many people, myself included, express that their crazy lifestyles don't allow much time to really stop an care for themselves. But there are a few simple things one can do to help maintain balance within their hectic life.
You don't have to make plans to climb a mountain or start training for Secret Ninja Camp (yes, that's a real thing- and yes, it does sound awesome) to help find balance. In fact you really shouldn't make any drastic life changes, dietary or physically, without first consulting your own personal physician. But I do suggest that you expand your personal interests by defining specific goals. Goals, in general, help foster structure through a progression timeline. Set realistic goals to achieve a specific result, or lead up to a culminating event/triumph. Share your personal goals with close family and friends and let them support you as you progress.

Expect hurdles. Finding time to reach for a goal while you're already juggling work, family, personal relationships and more will be a struggle. It wouldn't be a goal if it wasn't. Don't punish yourself for setbacks but do recognize what caused them and how you can better overcome the hurdle next time. Whenever possible break your daily/weekly progress into many smaller sections of time that can fit in between your existing schedule. Breaking up your efforts and spreading them out will seem much less tedious than trying to cram 1 or 2 bigger efforts into your regular routine.

Having goals are nice, and break up the monotony of everyday commitments and obligations but caring for one's self can seem like a complete mystery when the topic turns to nutrition. General guidelines for healthy eating exist but there's always some fancy click bait lurking on the side of your Facebook browser tempting you with the latest 'study' or trend. On top of that every person truly is unique- without annual health exams and clear communication with a personal physician you truly can't know what your body is lacking, or has an excess of.

Disclaimers aside, as much as I try, I don't have the time to research all the nutrient potentials of everything I eat. I wish I had time to cook a homemade meal every day, or the willpower to never eat a scrap of 'junk' food, but I don't. What I can do is shop at Sam's Club, where I personally save time by using their 'Click N' Pull' online ordering system on thousands of items from toothpaste and batteries to fresh produce. Because I can shop amazing club pricing from just about anywhere with a WiFi or data connection I don't have to compromise on smart eating due to price or lack of time. I simply place my order online, show my order confirmation receipt to the Customer Service desk in store, and have my entire purchase brought out to me ready to go.
Sam's Club also offers a wide array of personal hygiene and health maintenance products (mine even has a full service pharmacy) in quantities that keep me stocked longer, so I can spend less time shopping and more time tackling my busy life. One of those products is the Nature Made® Daily Diabetes Health Pack, scientifically formulated to supply nutritional support for people with diabetes or prediabetes. † It's the #1 Pharmacist Recommended Diabetic Multivitamin Supplement Brandǂ It's unique 6 daily supplement health packs are individually packaged to inspire healthy choices for general population including those who are Pre-Diabetic or Diabetic to live a healthy lifestyle. † Inside each Health Pack you'll find A Multivitamin/Mineral providing essential vitamins and minerals for daily nutritional support. † Fish Oil with Vitamin D3: Fish oil provides essential omega-3 fatty acids, EPA DHA, which help support a healthy heart. † Vitamin D supports bone, teeth, muscle and immune health.† Vitamin D3 is the body’s preferred form of vitamin D.* You'll also find Alpha Lipoic Acid with Green Tea which has antioxidant properties which neutralize free radicals.†

It may sound like a mouth-full, okay it's literally a mouth full of nutritional supplements, but it's proven a great way for me to fit nutritional support into my daily routine.
This Sparkling Strawberry Mint-Infused Water is the perfect way to stay refreshed without added sugars! #NatureMadeHealthPack #AD
Another important key to finding balance in a busy lifestyle is by taking time to explore new ways to enjoy favorite things. For example, if you find yourself stopping into the local smoothie shop every night on your way home it might be a good idea to look into ways to include that fruit flavored experience into a less complicated routine at home. Researching alternative ingredients or presentations of foods you tend to lean on can help introduce new nutrients and benefits with minimal effort or cost.
I found an amazing recipe for Sparkling Strawberry Mint Infused Water on the My Food Advisor® website that's recently changed the way I consume water while at home throughout the day. Not only has it saved excess seasonal strawberries from going to waste I've found I personally don't crave any added sugars when I introduce the sensation of carbonation with the rich flavors of real fruit. I just might enjoy this particular recipe more than my favorite drink at the local cafe.

Of course having a collection of trusted resources to help tackle your biggest time hurdles will really make the process of finding balance much easier. Consider spending an afternoon gathering and researching resources which may work for you. Having a local retailer which offers a wide range of smart shopping decisions with a variety of convenient shopping methods, such as Sam's Club, can be a worthy asset on your list. You may also with to take note of a few reputable websites which provide recipes searchable based on nutritional criteria. I prefer to utilize My Food Advisor® and the USDA recipe database, but your needs may vary based on your personal balance goals.
This delicious Turkey Sausage and Egg Casserole takes 10 minutes to prepare and as just 110 calories, 4g of sugar, and 13g of protein per serving! #NatureMadeHealthPack #ad
In fact, I recently tried out a new recipe I found while browsing the My Food Advisor® website, Turkey Sausage and Egg Casserole. At just 100 calories per serving with approximately 4g of sugars and 13g of protein I found it to be a deliciously filling way to kick start our weekend routine. Be sure to grab the recipe directly from the My Food Advisor® website, then follow along here as we cover the simple steps to make it.

To begin you'll want to gather some basic ingredients:

Cooking Spray
2 C Nonfat Milk
4-5 Green Onion Bunches
1/2 TSP Dry Mustard
1/4 TSP Salt (Optional, We don't include it)
1/4 TSP Black Pepper
16 OZ Egg Substitute
4 Slices Whole Wheat Bread
3 Precooked Breakfast Sausage Patties 
1/4 C Reduced Fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Begin by preheating the oven to 350F.

Coat a 9x13 dish with cooking spray.

Prepare your ingredients.
  • Cut your bread into 1/2" cubes.
  • Dice your turkey sausage patties.
  • Chop your green onions down to about 1/2" into the whites.
Start by whisking the nonfat milk, green onions, dry mustard, salt (optional), pepper, and egg substitute in a medium sized bowl. Since an egg substitute is being used you really only need to whis to combine and distribute the spices evenly.
Next spread the bread cubes evenly over the bottom of your prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle the diced turkey sausage  on top and in between then slowly pour the egg mixture evenly over the top. The green onions will want to 'clump' on your initial pour so pour slowly and keep moving for even distribution. Top with the shredded cheese and cover with foil.
Bake the casserole for 20 minutes at 350F then carefully pull the oven rack forward, remove the foil, and place back into the oven for an additional 40 minutes. We like a nice 'crust' on the top so we let ours bake just a tad longer to really get that golden hue.
This delicious Turkey Sausage and Egg Casserole takes 10 minutes to prepare and as just 110 calories, 4g of sugar, and 13g of protein per serving! #NatureMadeHealthPack #ad
I loved this recipe because it was easy enough to prepare in under 10 minutes, and gave us a fair amount of leftovers. I wound the bread was naturally sweet and think our decision not to add salt didn't hinder it any way. If anything, next time, I'll add an extra dash of pepper- though the beauty of pepper is each individual can season their own serving if truly desired. It also just so happens to pair perfectly with my new favorite drink, the Sparkling Strawberry Mint-Infused Water from above!
Ultimately finding balance amidst the craziness will never be a perfect science at any age. There are a variety of tools one can use to help but my favorite truly is having a support system. Learning what works for you, personally, will always be trial and error, but making the most of life while you do it will always be made most possible through a strong tribe of family, allies and friends. Now, tell me, what are some resources or trick you use to help maintain balance everyday?

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any diseases.

ǂ Based on US News & World Report – Pharmacy Times Survey

Are you looking for more great resources to help balance your crazy life? Grab the Sam's Club shopping list resource below for your next shopping trip!

The Lost Post: Homemade Tortellini Minestrone #Recipe

This hearty homemade Tortellini Minestrone features handmade spinach ricotta tortellini and a feast of fresh harvest vegetables sure to comfort in any season.
Momma Told Me: Life seldom goes as planned.

Growing up, Momma often told me "Life seldom goes as planned-" Now, this may seem like a bleak sentiment for a child, but I've come to learn it doesn't always have to carry a sense of the foreboding. Life is full of surprises, good and bad. It's one of the things that makes life worth living. And, while we are just in the 4th month of 2017, this year has proven an exemplary case.

Naturally, the true value in these unscheduled twists and turns is how we choose to view the circumstances. I'll be the first to admit the cacophony of events that have unraveled this first quarter have had me looking and feeling quite glum. I strive myself on being a very vibrant, positive, person- but even Piglet puts on Eeyore's clothes for a day when the scenery begins to look glum.

For example- when I was rear ended, at a dead stop, and my car was totaled on St. Patrick's Day I was devastated. Everyone I ran into insisted the experience should be positive, "Well, hey, you get to buy a new car!" they'd exclaim with a smile. But my back was a mess, and the insurance wasn't about to give me enough to replace my car with one of equal value, I now had no transportation to go and shop for a car, and there was the fact that my car was my baby- where was I going to find another Purple Turbo PT Cruiser? For weeks I let the negativity stack- January had been black mold, February was the great hard drive crash of 2016, March my car was totaled, and in April my grandfather was hospitalized in a stay he still continues. When will life stop raining on me?

For weeks I was very solemn. I slept strange hours or not at all. I felt no inspiration to create or write. And the lack of transportation had me feeling completely isolated and helpless.

But life seldom goes as planned-

And then I opened my laptop, to sort through the recovered files from my hard-drive back for family photos I could print and send to my father as a sign of support. And I found this folder of recipe shots from February 2nd. A post I had originally planned to share for Tortellini Day (February 13th,) edited and just sitting in a file in a subfolder on an external drive.

I can't claim that I had en epiphany over soup photos, I mean, they are nice photos- but something inside me kicked up that old phrase from my mother. The second half of her advice. "Life seldom goes as planned- the only thing you can control is how you choose to deal with it." Ironically, this goes hand in hand with one of her other favorite phrases- "It is what it is." A phrase I've come to adopt more recently. Sure, I could sit around feeling sorry for myself, or brewing negative thoughts in my head- but the only thing I'm really doing is punishing myself.

So, if you happen to be having a tough day, week, month, or year (like me) maybe Momma's advice can help. After all, you never know when the next very pleasant surprise is just around the corner....

And, without further ado- I present to you the 'Lost' Tortellini post-
I've never made pasta before.

In fact, it's something I can confidently say I felt rather secure in saying I never wanted to. I watch plenty of foodie shows, from professional cooking to home cook competitions and I know all to well, much like a soufflé, one tiny error in timing or measurement can be the difference between a hot mess or a hot success.

So, naturally, it was a silly national holiday- Tortellini Day that inspired me to try 2 things I'd never done before- homemade pasta (stuffed pasta at that) AND a homemade minestrone.
If you're like me and you've lived a life intimidated by the prospect of fresh made pasta, I'm here to say it is entirely doable. I did it on the first attempt.

Granted, I did cover my entire kitchen counter with flour and egg on my first attempt to 'hand mix' the dough. But, hey, I sure felt authentic pouring that egg into the center of a volcano of flour! Yes, your fingers will get impossibly sticky- keep at it, the mess will turn into a lump of dough. And, with proper kneading, you will actually be able to roll it out by hand.

If you're feeling a bit unsure just make sure to don an apron, and watch an Alton Brown video or two- you'll be rolling out fresh pasta in no time.
Of course you can choose to stuff your tortellini with a variety of things- In my world a stuffed pasta without cheese is no pasta at all- So I went with a delicious ricotta-parmesan spinach variation that will perfectly compliment the minestrone soup recipe I've paired with them. This makes the perfectly soft, creamy, tortellini texture really pop in the hearty vegetable soup broth.
I was again intimidated by the prospect of folding my pasta- First I decided on the proper size round cookie cutter and cut a few test circles out. I quickly learned I was not rolling the pasta thin enough- and my circles were not big enough to properly make the seams required to keep my filling from bubbling out when cooking.

A word to the wise- if you let your pasta sit out it will begin to dry and get 'scaly'- it's still edible, but might cook tougher or be hard to fold. To avoid this I cover my pasta dough/cutouts/sheets in a bowl with a damp towel.
homemade spinach ricotta tortellini
To fold a tortellini is actually quite simple. 

Place your filling in the center of your pasta disc leaving about 1/2" from filling to edge. Dip your finger in egg wash and run it along the exposed edge of pasta. Fold your pasta in half to form a semi circle, pressing the seam together, using the egg wash as a binder. Next, pinching the two corners fold the corners in towards each other to form a crescent. Tuch the corners into the very middle- the outer edges should have naturally curled up to form a 'lip'.
The rest is pretty easy-

Whether you choose to cook your minestrone in a pot or a slow cooker, you'll want to store your tortellini in the fridge until about 5-10 minutes before serving. Since minestrone is a slow simmer soup- I enjoy making this recipe on a lazy afternoon, when I can take my time and really fill my home with amazing smells.
chicken brothchicken broth
This hearty homemade Tortellini Minestrone features handmade spinach ricotta tortellini and a feast of fresh harvest vegetables sure to comfort in any season.This hearty homemade Tortellini Minestrone features handmade spinach ricotta tortellini and a feast of fresh harvest vegetables sure to comfort in any season.
Here in Southern California, we've already had several "Summer" days, where the temperatures have kissed 100F. So it might seem odd that I'm sharing this Fall soup recipe- remember, this was supposed to go live in February. No worries though, it turns out the winds have been unusually cold here on the SoCal coast and I'll actually be making this recipe again this week. I'm sure plenty of my readers are wishing they had Summer weather- and this soup will come as the perfect cold weather comfort.
This hearty homemade Tortellini Minestrone features handmade spinach ricotta tortellini and a feast of fresh harvest vegetables sure to comfort in any season.
This hearty homemade Tortellini Minestrone features handmade spinach ricotta tortellini and a feast of fresh harvest vegetables sure to comfort in any season.
I do wish I'd made the broth a little thicker- and think I might add more tomato next time to really simmer down my stock base- thankfully there were plenty of fresh farmer's market veggies in the pot to really give this dish a  hearty, comfort food, feel without the weighing down of other dishes. Best of all, you can really customize the veggies to your family's personal preference, or simply what's freshest in season. The tortellini may seem like the star, but the flavors pop so much, every spoon really is a treat!
Homemade spinach ricotta tortellini
So there you have it- my first try at homemade pasta, ever.
It didn't turn out bad at all, I'd say. And the minestrone made more than enough to share with some family and friends- that's true comfort cooking at it's finest!

What Daughter Says: When life gets messy, make pasta!

This hearty homemade Tortellini Minestrone features handmade spinach ricotta tortellini and a feast of fresh harvest vegetables sure to comfort in any season.
Homemade Tortellini Minestrone
***Click here for printable Tortellini Minestrone recipe