October 28, 2014

Breakfast For Dinner...

Don't you just love breakfast for dinner? For some reason preparing pancakes and eggs as the sun goes down seems to elicit a hunker down, cozy, sit by the fire kind of evening.

As many of you know, I have spent the better part of the year dumbing down my diet. Ultimately eliminating, shall we say, anything good! So...I went to work to study creative ways to satisfy my desire for things like brunch, dessert, and an afternoon snack that does not include a sad lonely stalk of celery.

Today I am sharing my decadent breakfast for dinner discovery that will also tick the boxes for those of you who are seeking gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and dairy-free options.  On the menu today will be pumpkin pancakes with berry chia seed compote and sweet potato hash cakes topped with a poached egg or two.

Pumpkin Pancakes Topped With Berry Chia Seed Compote~
  1. 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (make sure you don't get the sweet stuff by mistake)
  2. 3 tbsp almond milk (or any milk substitute of your choice)
  3. 1 tbsp honey
  4. 3 eggs
  5. 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted, plus additional for pan
  6. 1 tsp vanilla
  7. 1/4 cup coconut flour
  8. 1 tsp cinnamon
  9. Pinch of nutmeg
  10. 1/2 tsp salt
  11. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients – the coconut flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda. Then in a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients – the pumpkin puree, almond milk, honey, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir together until just combined
  2. Heat a griddle or non-stick skillet to medium heat. Coat pan with coconut oil. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet. Cook for 2-4 minutes until the bottom is cooked through, and then flip. Cook for another 2-4 minutes until lightly browned. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve warm and enjoy. (You can keep the pancakes warm in the oven if the rest of the meal is not quite ready)

Berry Chia Seed Compote~

In a sauce pan combine four cups of berries (fresh or frozen) of your choice. I use a combination of raspberries, cherries, cranberries. Basically, whatever is on sale. As they start to cook down, add 2 TBSP chia seeds, a teaspoon of vanilla, and 3 TBSP of coconut nectar. I use coconut nectar because it is the least sweet sweetener available. You could always opt for agave, maple syrup, or even sugar. Continue to cook on low heat while you are preparing your pancakes. It takes about 20 minutes. When the compote has the appearance of jam,you can put it in a mason jar or other container and set your fancy condiment aside for dinner. The berry compote will also keep nicely in the refrigerator for later. I always try to have some on hand, using it in lieu of jam!

Sweet Potato Cakes (with an optional poached egg on top)~

1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled
1 medium onion
2 large eggs, beaten 
1/3 cup flour (I use coconut flour to make it gluten-free)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Extra eggs if you decide to poach a few as toppers for your hash cakes
oil for cooking (I use coconut oil. you can also use olive oil)

In a food processor fitted with a grating disk, shred sweet potatoes and onion. Transfer to a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients. combine well.

Form each patty with approximately 1/4 cup. I cooked them on my griddle, first melting a bit of coconut oil to prevent your yummy cakes from sticking.

If necessary you can keep them warm in the oven until the rest of the meal has come together. As an optional addition, you can serve your potato cakes with a poached egg on top.

Be sure to let me know if you try this yummy supper. Honestly, it takes very little time and your family will love it!

October 21, 2014

Dear Oprah...

Dear Oprah~

I am a few short years from turning 50, which means that I have grown up in the lucky generation to have had the privilege of following the inspirational wave of Oprah. The daily talk show, the magazine, Sirius/XM Radio, the highs, the lows, the overall message. A few weeks ago I received my monthly issue of O Mag. On the cover was another glossy digitally enhanced version of Oprah. Yet on the inside of the back cover I found the Oprah we know and love, passing along magical nuggets of wisdom that you are taking to the masses as you deliver your message from city to city in Oprah's the Life You Want Weekend.

Here's my problem. You have spent your adult life inspiring and challenging women and girls to dig deep and tap into our authentic selves in an effort to discover our own unique passion that will hopefully propel each of us to find our Why in life. What do I mean by Why? Basically the underlying talent, gift, or whatever you call it that allows us to contribute our purpose to the world. The deep seeded thing that makes us intrinsically special.

I get that you purposely conclude each publication in a way that gives the reader a final thought to take away.  I just wish that the last page matched the front cover. Honestly, when I look at front cover Oprah and back page Oprah, they are two different people. As a leader, who has followed her own path in life, when will back page Oprah find her way to the front cover. Your audience identifies with the woman on page 168. While the glossy image on the front continues to perpetuate the fact that women and girls should strive to emulate a photoshopped, shimmery, unattainable image.  For what it's worth, I would prefer to see page 168 greet me rather than an image that sort of looks like a version of a woman who has single-handedly changed the lives of millions.


Julie Meulemans

October 13, 2014

We All Need A Hand Up From Time To Time...

Yesterday I stood in line at Michaels for what seemed like an eternity. I had a thousand other important tasks on my list, quickly regretting my choice to redeem my soon-to-expire 40% coupon. While jockeying my purchases in an effort not to drop the whole lot, I just happened to glance to my left. The most adorable teenager was standing behind me. We inadvertently locked eyes and both simultaneously smiled. I was smiling at her terrific style. On a crisp fall day, she was sporting a super cute knit hat to match her funky outfit. She likely was laughing a me trying not to lose my load of purchases.

Out of nowhere she nervously fidgeted and said, "I hope I don't smell like smoke. My parents smoke and I hate it."

"Not at all. Love your hat, by the way!"

It was at that point that this sixteen-year-old young women sought me out for something I was not prepared for. She must have felt a motherly presence or something because she offered up the fact that she couldn't wait to leave her parents ashy den to go to college.

"What do you like to study in school?"

"I want to be a writer. I just don't know exactly what I want to write yet," she said.

"That's terrific. You'll figure it out. Be open, work hard, and you will find the path that you are meant to take in life."

"But my parents and grandmother think I should know exactly what I want to do."

"I personally don't believe that a teenager is meant to know because you have only experienced a fraction of the world in your sixteen years."

"That's what I think," she said with a huge smile.

It was at that point the next cashier was available. I turned and wished her the very best of luck in her endeavors.

"Thanks for listening to me," she said in a way that made it seem that I may have been one of few people to encourage her to follow her passion in life.

I can't help but think that from time to time we are ushered into situations for the sole purpose of empowering a stranger in line at Michaels, a child who needs some guidance, or a neighbor who needs a friend. You never know when a few kind words might just make the difference in the life of someone who was otherwise lost and moving ahead blindly in life.

Like many I am guilty of blowing through my days without paying much attention to the strangers around me. But when I slow down (by choice or because I'm stuck in a long line at Michaels) and then have an unintentional interaction like the one I had yesterday, it is a reminder that connecting to people emotionally is so incredibly rewarding.

October 6, 2014

Have You Noticed Something About The New Fall Season of Television? Could The Tides Be Turning...

Is it just me or are we seeing more female television characters assuming powerful roles, ultimately relegating their male counterparts to play the supporting partner?

Three of my top favorite shows this season are Scandal (of course), How To Get Away With Murder, and Madam Secretary. It occurred to me last night that each of the programs not only portray smart capable women masterfully succeeding in powerful positions, but the men in their lives are the caregivers, the seekers of emotional and professional support, and the underlings competing for professional advancement.  

As our media evolves and diversifies, will the end result ultimately empower our young women and girls to follow suit? Changing the vernacular, reversing roles, and accepting unconventional relationships hopefully will continue to be commonplace and not the exception to the rule.

I found the following piece a few years ago. Every time I read it, I ask myself how I will be remembered. We can all agree Olivia Pope's Epitaph would be spectacular. What about you... 

Would it be okay if your gravestone read: “She was an exceptionally mediocre woman”?

If your eulogy went something like: “She followed every rule with precision. She rarely made a mistake and was a great champion of the status quo. She never ruffled any feathers, took any great risks, suffered any great loss. She always operated within the bounds of appropriateness. She had the love and acceptance of her community, family, and friends, though no one knew her. Her life was smooth sailing because she never rocked the boat. She contained her passion, her dreams, and her danger enough that they could call her a good woman”?
For some, that would be enough. But not for you.

Your epitaph will begin: “She redefined what it meant to be a good woman.”
It will say: “She scaled mountains, in hiking boots and in heels. She started in her own backyard and then went all the way around the world. She accepted challenges with curiosity and determination. She emerged victorious regardless of outcome, knowing both the pleasure of success and the grace of failure. She tasted long hot days and cool still nights, at home wherever she found herself. She wasn’t always popular, but she was always true. She wasn’t always comfortable, but no one can say she didn’t enjoy her life. She explored her edges, increased her capacity, and lived as big as she could dream. Moved equally by bliss and pain, she played her heart out one moment at a time. She was dialed in. She was courageous. She was turned on.”