Friday, July 3, 2015

Where Has the Family Dinner Table Gone?

What is mealtime like in your home? Our house is crazy, slightly obnoxious actually, but we eat together most evenings. Sometimes, it’s both of us with a few of the boys and a girlfriend or two. Occasionally, it is the mister and me, alone. But, more often than not, it is some combination of the eight of us along with assorted friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, boxer puppies, grandmas, stray cats, etc.

Our six kids now range from seventeen to twenty-three. They really do come and go depending on work schedules, class schedules, trips, friends, etc. And, yes, we are the Brady Bunch. Three boys are mine and one boy and two girls are his. We don’t pay “Alice” to clean or cook for us. They clean their own rooms and do their own laundry but the cooking, well, I keep that for myself. I love to cook and experiment in the kitchen.

After fifteen years of raising these kids and feeding the eight of us, fewer things rank as high on my list of priorities as mealtime. It has been our moment to freeze, have conversations, relive the high and low points of each day and basically, tease, annoy and love the heck out of each other.

Most of our truly valuable conversations have taken place around our dining room table. Dropping out of college? Moving to a new state? Walking away from a relationship or starting a new one? Adopting a puppy? Changing majors? It’s always around the dinner table. 

I remember dinners at my grandparent’s houses as well. Large families. Lots of relatives. Several generations. Everyone talking at once. Lots of love! Now that all of my grandparents have passed away, times have changed. We live in different states. We have busy lives. But, those memories of family dinners still remain.

 I fear that today’s kids are missing the dinner table. Family meals. Long conversations over coffee. It used to be the time to enjoy home-cooking, to catch up, to hear about each family member’s day. In Europe, the mid-day meal offers that chance to congregate, chat, share stories of the morning, discuss problems, find solutions, reconnect.

Where has the family table gone? 

It seems to have disintegrated into fast food consumed in cars or snacks from the vending machines. Take out. I know several families who skip the dinner table consistently in favor of movies, video games, cell phones, texting and microwaves? I say, “Let’s bring back the family dinner table!” 

Let’s connect and have “real” conversations that don’t include a character count. Let’s model compassion to our children and spend time each evening reconnecting our hearts and souls after long days in the world. Let’s sit around the table and dissect the day’s events. Let’s connect through food and coffee and laughter or tears.

I’m not the perfect parent. None of us are. We all have our short comings and we all have our priorities. My priority is to settle down most evenings and share a meal with the people I love most. A loud, crazy, obnoxious meal but a meal, nonetheless, at our own dining room table.  My priority is to continue to instill the family meal-time ritual into my kids so that one day, I can be the grandma at their family dinners and I can say I helped to create this moment.

How do you feel about the family dinner table? I would love to hear...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mark Bittman's Potato and Leek Soup

Some days, you just need comfort food, right? It doesn't matter if it is in the upper 80's with 70% humidity...

Comfort food. Better yet, comfort food that cleans out your pantry before you travel. What does that look like in our mostly vegan household? Yep. Leek and potato soup. Some fresh whole wheat bread. Tart green apple slices...

Where did this recipe come from? My first and second mother-in-laws both made superb potato soup. I, however, have been lacking in this department for many years. So, I compensated by large amounts of cheddar cheese and even larger amounts of bacon. Until now.

Good ole' Mark Bittman. Do you know him? Or, at least, of him? He has put out amazing books like Food Matters, VB6, and How to Cook Everything. 

I picked this one up at a used book store and felt like I was walking out with a steal at only $6.99. It's a HUGE book.

They apparently had never read his work or watched his videos or stumbled upon The New York Times?!?  I LOVE Mark Bittman. He is frank and direct and to the point. And, he KNOWS food. He really does.

Who else would believe that being vegan until six o'clock would be a great idea except someone who knows food and health and can make it work?

I want to share a great fall, winter and even spring recipe with you in the middle of summer. Believe me, after the last few weeks in my house, comfort food precedes logic! 

So, this is Mark Bittman's recipe for Potato and Leek Soup with the Lisa Caplinger twist. I always have to double his recipes because I feed boys and I also don't use dairy. Minor tweeks, okay?

4 tbs. of non-dairy butter or olive oil
6 medium potatoes, any type, peeled and cubed
3-6 leeks (or a couple of onions/green onions) whatever you have!
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a few shakes of red pepper flakes
1 quart of vegetable stock (preferably unsalted and warmed)
1/2-1 cup of unsweetened almond milk

*Put the butter or oil in a stock pot to heat.
*When the butter is melted, add the leeks, onions and potatoes.

*Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until you are finished with your phone conversation. Just keep an eye on it and don't let your leeks brown at all! Then, add your stock and cook until the vegetables are very tender...

 *About 20 minutes on low or until you are finished with your client or children or whatever. And, this is my favorite vegetable stock. It's from Trader Joe's. Organic and so incredibly rich and tasty. Never a complaint when I use it!

* At this point, I take 2/3 of the chunky potatoes and onions and vitamix them for a bit. Puree them and add them back into the remaining soup.

*Add some almond milk for creaminess and set back on the stove for just a bit to reheat. Make sure you check your salt and pepper and then, throw in some red pepper flakes if you like a little bit a spice.

This was such a good lunch. I doubled the recipe and there was only a single bowl left over....someone will need a late-night snack. Guaranteed!

If you already are a Mark Bittman fan, be sure to check out his newest book A Bone to Pick...

I hope this recipe finds you having a beautifully calm day and enjoying the beginning of a new month!

Our plan is to get going into the month with some exciting cookouts and beach time!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Go! Just....go

Yes, we are taking our family on another adventure.
Sometimes, that is good.
Sometimes, not. 
To our kids, we say....

We want to teach you independence, courage, bravery
But, also compassion and the acceptance of tradition.
 Those belonging to you as well as the traditions of others. 

We leave town in awe of this great, vast Earth.
We search, find and observe 
The wisdom of the foreigners of other lands.

When you become weary, we'll rest.
When you become hungry,we'll eat.
When you feel confused, ask questions.
When you see beauty, exclaim it!
When you feel fear, we'll examine it.
 But, most of all, notice when you feel gratitude.

Their history is not our history
But, with its viewing comes wisdom.
Their glory is not of our own
But, with it, can come celebration.

With each new step we take in a foreign place, 
We get a little glimpse of those who reside there.

We taste their food.
We visit their sites.
We travel by foot-
the same paths as they.
And, we learn.

We return home wealthier, richer,
More ready to feel compassion.

Travel is always an insight into another's world, another's day.
We learn to accept.
We teach you to accept.
We value differences.
We compare.
We challenge ourselves to become more,
To live through other's trials,
To accept differences
To embrace similarities.
We travel.
We learn.
We see. 
We accept.

We return home filled with greater understanding,
Most of all, joy.

Some people have questioned our decision to travel with our kids. When the six of them were little (ages 2-8), vacations began as camping, amusement parks, band trips, touring Washington, DC, Chicago, New York City....where ever we could afford to go.  Trips to the beach and family reunions. The point is, we didn't keep them in one place. They saw some of the world around them.

Now that they are older, their wings spread wider. Germany, Guam, Ecuador, all across the United States and we like that. We are proud to be raising travelers. Kids with adventurous spirits. 

There will be moments in the next few weeks when they are tired, worn out and craving the comforts of home. We also know that through this trip, we will watch realizations and a-ha moments as they experience new cultures and find their own strengths and purposes. 

We are extremely blessed to be able to go and see and do. We want our children (who are really young adults ages 17-23) to be accepting of other cultures, races, religions. We want them to live outside of the bubble that is home. 

I was reading this article by Bryan Pirolli this morning.  Basically, do as they do. Be courteous. Attempt the language. Acknowledge the fact that you are in a foreign place. Be present to the world around you. Try new things. Don't expect it to be your homeland. It isn't! Yes, common sense for travelers.

I also love his blog of Travel. Live. Explore. See. Taste. Experience. Because, of course, Paris is one of my all-time favorite cities!

Just saying.

So, what do I offer you today? I extend my love of traveling. My desire to never be still or content or complacent. The world is huge and it is for our exploration. See it. Love it. Or, hate it but experience it!

Just buy a ticket and pack a bag...

A passport. A journal. Some snacks and headphones. A converter. You're all set!

Part of my own happiness is travel. My health and state of wellness depend upon it. As my husband is well aware...staying in one place for too long usually has some dire consequences. So, soon, we go.

I hope this post finds you looking forward to a magnificent Tuesday and I hope you are planning your own adventure! 

Enjoy xoxo

Saturday, June 27, 2015

How Can We Save Ourselves When the World Around Us Feels Lost?

On the edge of vitality, our world is beautiful.
It is calm.
It is peace.
On the edge of the water, ocean-bound,
Charleston is a city of bravery, of secrets, of longing and of history.

Our city atones for its sins and those of our forefathers.
Yet, it flourishes in beauty and resurrects all that has claimed it's past.

Never before have I lived in a city that could face a crushing dawn with such bravery.
Never before has a city taken hold of my heart and allowed me to see
It's deep inner-workings
While knowing that the site might sting my eyes.

Never before has a city exuded such love while experiencing such loss.

People have banned together joining as one in consciousness.
Together, Charleston will stand strong~united.
I will proceed each dawn.
As the sun rises to it's fullest potential,
Our Charleston will stand.

Built on mortar and bricks,
Quicksand and bullets.

Charlestonians fight to preserve what is right.
What is true. What is just.

Colors. Race. Sizes. Shapes. Country of Origin. 
None should matter.
For today, as everyday, we are part of a whole.
Part of the oneness created by our Creator. 
Part of this universe and the next.

Be blessed, Charleston.
Be brave.
Be strong.
Rise again with justice, with mercy, with grace.
But, most importantly, with LOVE.

It is in societies where love gets lost, that lives get lost.
Cultures. History. People. All lost.
For love is what holds all together,
Christened by God in great force.


The beginning. The question. And, always, the answer.
Friday, June 26th, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

Have You Met Your Joy Quota?

Joy. It's a simple word. We know it, right? Joy? I do like the sound of it.

I was actually thinking about the idea of it and wondering when I last experienced it. True joy. The kind that makes your heart sing. Isn't joy the reason we are here? Should we not feel joy every, single day?

That's the life I want to lead. I believe it's the life we all want. Feeling joy can be an everyday event. I look around at all of the little things that bless my daily life. If I look hard enough, if I relax and allow, those little things actually are my sources of joy. If I Let It Happen! If I take the time and become present to recognize the joy in each moment.

Allowing time, space and room for joy is a big one. How many of us are so busy that we don't allow time for joy each day? Allowing time for joy can be as simple as taking in the smell of your morning coffee and being grateful for those who helped create it. Fully relishing the scent of freshly brewed coffee. For many, that is joy.

Allowing time for joy can be as easy as truly watching the colors of the sunset and feeling the connection to the earth and mother nature and our place in all of it. Or, closing your eyes and being carried away by a song- one full of emotion. Music that touches your heart and allows you to truly absorb the message by that performer. That can be joy.

Last night, joy was watching Paul McCartney on stage and viewing the crowd. And, his reaction to the crowd. Relieving memories that his songs invoked. Joy.

I want joy. I have joy. I want to experience joy every, single day. I NEED to remind myself to stop and simply allow the feeling of joy to be welcomed in. Joy when I look at my beautiful boys and all that they are accomplishing in this world. Joy when I see my husband who has stood by me, good days and bad. Joy as I watch my garden grow. Joy as the sun rises and sets over our beautiful Charleston. Joy as I see myself through each day of my life. Each day as I am in my passion or not. Just joy.

So. Have you met your joy quota for today? Have you stopped long enough to experience that lightness in your heart, the moment when you know you are not alone? When you recognize that you are fully aware? You are present. When you come back to remembering that YOU are a part of something truly meaningful and much bigger than your own self?

Find your joy. Each day. Experience it. Revel in it. Take a bath in it and allow yourself to be surrounded by joy. Peace will follow. Gratitude will come and you will be so glad you took the time for joy. Meet your quota.

This is one of my joy moments. It is still a vivid memory. I was standing on the dock on the Isle of Capri. Enjoying the sunshine and fresh cherries. I was loving the moment and feeling my joy. This is a snapshot of joy...

Have a beautiful morning! Meet your joy quota. I know I will.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Brazil Nut and Arugula Pesto Pasta~Thanks, Ella!

It's been quite a while since I have had the desire to share a recipe with you but this one you are going to love! It requires pulling everything green out of your fridge. Peas, zucchini, broccoli, avocado...Sounds good, right? And, it goes right along with all that my book teaches. 

You didn't know I was writing a book? Well, now you do. It is all about how we eat and feed our families and cook at home. You will definitely be hearing more about my book.  Keep checking back!

Obviously, this isn't my recipe but it is certainly a great example of "real" food. Not processed. Not full of chemicals. You get the idea...

Anyway, the recipe.  It's pretty simple and it's also an idea that can be changed and altered depending on what you have available and fresh on hand. So....


1 cup brazil nuts (I used cashews)
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 1/2 avocados
2 big handfuls arugula
Big handful of fresh basil (skipped this)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil, plus extra for veggies
salt and pepper
(I also used red pepper flakes)
1 pound brown rice penne pasta
2 zucchini
1 head of broccoli
1 2/3 cups peas

Place the nuts in a food processor and pulse for about a minute until they're completely crushed. At this point, add the avocado flesh, arugula, basil leaves, lemon juice, olive oil, 1/2 cup water and the salt and pepper.

Next, cook the pasta. I have been using brown rice pasta for nearly everything but use whatever you have on hand and follow the directions on the package.  While the pasta cooks, chop the zucchini and the broccoli and place together in a pan with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Saute for 5-7 minutes until they are just perfectly cooked.

So simple! During the last minute of cooking time for the pasta, I throw in the peas. Easy-peasy! Finally, once the pasta is finished and drained and the veggies are ready, toss it all together with the pesto. Viola! Dinner a la Deliciously Ella! Click the link and visit her site. She has a ton of vegan recipes. Full flavor. And, simple to prepare!

You can see that I topped it with red pepper flakes and a drizzle of olive oil. I also chopped up an apple and put some olives in a bowl and the mister and I called it lunch.  

I hope you will give this a try in your own kitchen. And, remember, use what is in season and in your fridge. No broccoli? Try cauliflower. No zucchini? Try squash or even carrots just saute them a bit longer. You could also do this dish in the spring with green onions and asparagus. Again, shop your farmers market and eat what your city grows!

I hope this finds you having a beautiful afternoon~Happy Wednesday from Charleston Treasures!

If you are interested in better health and greater wellness, visit my website and click on the services link to read about my Nutritional Consulting Services and juicing/baking workshops.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Please Pray for Charleston

Charleston is saddened. It is grieving. At a loss. I am not home but traveling and I can't seem to get relief from the grief that is emanating from my heart and our beautiful city. Home. I can't believe something like this would or could happen in such an amazing, spiritual, hopeful city. But, it has. 

Lives lost...

Not just names. Or photos. Real people. People with dreams and families and loved ones and spirit. Gone. Because of hate. Anger. Please don't teach your children to hate. Teach love. Live love. Preach love. Be love.

Now, our great city must forgive and pray and come together and rise up in strength and courage. Charleston will do this and more. Charleston is brave. It is a city that has withstood so much over so many years and yet it still shines brightly for families, for businesses, for love.

It is terrible.  It is tragic. I do not know how I would move forward if it were my brother or mother or family member. I do know that love is the answer. Even when every fiber of our body wishes to feel hate and anger, love is the ultimate answer. Jesus taught love to all. He lived as an example of love. Now, Charleston must do the same.

Not riots. Peace. Not anger. Love. Not retribution. Forgiveness. The answer is love. Peace.

I leave you with this photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr sitting in this very same Charleston church. Emanuel AME Church. He fought for peace. He died for peace. He embodied love. So must we.

Please pray for Charleston. Pray for love to overcome and peace to embody all who live in Charleston. May we be an example of love in the days to come.

God Bless Charleston.

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