The mantra of life:  simplicity, clarity, peace, kindness, happiness and love. The way to live your life is to look at your past with understanding, your future with your faith and your present with love, lots of it. ~ Patrick Sanfrancesco

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cheesycauliflowercrust

Image: Simmerandboil.cookinglight.com

 

No “knead” for bread – this cheesy veggie crust has half the carbs and double the fiber of traditional pizza dough. I’m finding cauliflower pizza crust everywhere on social media. Are you? This version is so light – you can eat the entire pizza.

Veggie Pizza with Cauliflower Crust Ingredients:

1 cauliflower head, roughly chopped (about 3 pounds)

Cooking spray

2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

½ cup pre-sliced cremini mushrooms

½ cup sliced red bell pepper

½ cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

3 garlic cloves, minced

2.5 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 2/3 cup), divided

2 large egg whites

0.5 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup thinly sliced seeded tomatoes

2/3 cup fresh baby spinach

 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place half of cauliflower in a food processor; pulse 10-15 times or until finely chopped (like rice).  Transfer cauliflower to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Repeat procedure with remaining cauliflower. Coat cauliflower with cooking spray.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, stirring once.  Cool.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add mushrooms and bell pepper; saute 5 minutes or until tender.  Set aside.
  5. Place cauliflower, remaining 1 teaspoon oil, ¼ cup basil, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, salt, garlic, 2 ounces mozzarella cheese, egg whites, and Parmesan cheese in a bowl.  Press cauliflower mixture into 2 (8-inch) circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Coat crusts with cooking spray.
  6. Bake crusts at 450 degrees for 22 minutes or until browned.  Remove pan from oven; top crusts evenly with mushroom mixture, tomatoes, spinach, remaining ¼ cup basil, remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, and remaining mozzarella cheese.  Bake an additional 7 minutes or until cheese melts.

 

This recipe is courtesy of Rebecca Longshore

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Naturalbackpainreliever

Image:  Amazon.com

It’s so hard not to slouch when you sit all day. Boy, oh boy, have I got something for you that will help you with your posture! The SitSmart Posture Plus ($39.99; backjoy.com) tilts hips so they align with your spine while also helping you sit taller. The lightweight design is easy to move from desk to table.

I tried this device out at my girlfriend’s house and am so excited to get mine. I know my back will thank me later!

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Image: evagregory.com34affirmations

 

Self-care is something that I forget about quite a bit.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  I do exercise at least 3 days a week (for mental as much as physical health) and I eat healthily.  These are certainly the foundation of self-care.  The self-care that I forget about and actually need quite a bit is solitude and quiet.  Life is really LOUD right now.  Sometimes it feels oppressive, which leaves me feeling depleted and exhausted. I’m at that point now, which is why I haven’t been blogging as much as I usually do.  A friend reminded me the other day:  “If you don’t stop, I’m afraid that something else will stop you.” She’s so right.  I sure as s**t don’t want to be reading this blog a year from now and wonder, “WTF?  Why the f-bomb didn’t I listen to both myself and my loved ones?”

Below are some beautiful affirmations that I found on DailyGood.org. I hope that they knock as much sense into you as much as they are me!

Each bite of food contains the life of the sun and the earth. The whole universe is in a piece of bread. —Thich Nhat Hanh

I choose well so that I can feel well. —Nathalie W. Herrman

Preparing fresh, healthy meals instead of processed food is an act of love toward myself and those I cook for.

I live healthfully for myself but also for the ones I love so that they may be empowered to improve their health as well.

I’m honest with myself about the reality of what and how I eat. —Nathalie W. Herrman

I breathe deeply and fully. I take in the breath of life, and I am nourished. —Louise Hay

Clean, pure water is a precious gift, and I drink it abundantly and gratefully.

I enjoy being in my body, and I nourish it each day. —Isha Lerner

I enjoy healthy food without guilt. I reject society’s shaming of food for myself and for those around me.

I take time to get outside. Our body is the accumulation of our past. Our breath unites our body and mind in the present moment. Go for a walk outside, preferably in beautiful surroundings. —Amy Zerner and Monte Farber

I do not take my breath and beating heart for granted. I am grateful to be alive. —Nathalie W. Herrman

Nutrition is a keystone for everything I do, so I make it an important part of my life and set aside time to eat well.

I enjoy foods that are best for my body. When I eat my greens, I feel energized and abundant. —Louise Hay

I expect a lot from my body every day, so I affirm its right to expect healthy fuel from me.

The energy in what I eat sustains me, and I honor that fact by preparing my meals with gratitude, mindfulness, and a loving heart. —Nathalie W. Herrman

Pure spiritual and physical nourishment is what enables me to give to others, and so I make it a priority.

I get plenty of sleep every night. My body appreciates how I take care of it. —Louise Hay

I eat only what I need, and I stop before I feel uncomfortable or overly full.

What matters to me is my health, not the opinions of others, and so I take care of my body rather than trying to change it in unhealthy ways.

I accept the limitations of doctors and look within to improve the quality of my health. —Nathalie W. Herrman

Finding new ways to eat healthfully is empowering and puts me in control.

I am the only person who has control over my eating habits. I can always resist something if I choose to. —Louise Hay

I love every cell of my body. —Louise Hay

Walking meditation is like eating. With each step, we nourish our bodies and our spirit. When we walk with anxiety and sorrow, it is like we are eating junk food. The food of walking meditation should be of a higher quality. —Thich Nhat Hanh

Your feet are your physical connection to this planet. Touch the earth directly with your bare feet. Let the earth energy circulate from your feet to your head and back again. —Yoko Ono

I pay attention to where my food comes from and think about the resources that go into each meal. I am mindful of how much the earth gives to me and how much I can give back.

I give myself permission to change. —Louise Hay

I am in wonderment at the science of nutrition. Taking better care of myself leads to constant discovery and amazement at how well my body can work.

I am connected to the earth and the safe foundation it provides for my future growth. —Isha Lerner

My body is one of the most precious gifts I will ever receive, an extraordinary creation that I cherish and use fully.

When I eat natural, fresh foods rather than processed ones, I feel more connected to the earth and the hands that grew it, and I am grateful.

Just as I rid my diet of toxins, I also eliminate negativity from my emotions and thoughts.

All desire for cigarettes (or alcohol or whatever it is you’re addicted to) has left me, and I am free. —Louise Hay

Today I eat only foods that are life enhancing. —Louise Hay”

 

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talkingwithchildrenaboutcancer

Image:  scrubbing.in

Because discussing cancer with your child is such an emotionally charged situation, my personal experience has enabled me to be empathetic with parents who try to hide the truth from children.

All too often, parents avoid discussing a cancer diagnosis with children because they assume that “children can’t understand what is happening” or because they believe that “children shouldn’t be exposed to something so awful.” Exposing children to cancer is indeed brutal and heart wrenching (don’t I now know it!) but children as young as age 2 are able to understand what is happening to them. The key is to communicate with them in developmentally appropriate ways.

Avoidance may feel better in the short term, but has the potential to do long-term damage. Even when a cancer diagnosis is not formally discussed, children know that something has happened and are consequently left alone with distressing information. This aloneness forces children to draw inaccurate conclusions or develop maladaptive ways of dealing with a cancer diagnosis. While it may seem hard to believe, a child’s imagination has the capacity to create things that are far worse than the reality.

The Shining Moment is that there are helpful tools for talking with children about cancer:

1. Plan ahead and think through what you are going to say.

2. Choose a time when you are calm, your children are well rested and no one is rushed.

3. Describe the disease in factual, truthful, and developmentally appropriate language.

4. Tell your children that cancer is not in any possible way contagious.

5. Reassure your children that they did absolutely nothing to cause the cancer.

6. Encourage your children to ask questions (frequently) and answer them to the best of your ability. If there is something that you don’t know the answer to, tell them that you will find out and get back to them.

7. Describe how their lives may change, e.g., disruption of routines.

8. Encourage your children to share their feelings.

9. Tell your children that they will be cared for by someone they know (and identify that person).

10. Seek professional assistance! Telling children about a cancer diagnosis in a family is emotionally difficult; however, there are professionals to help you every step of the way. Additionally, many hospitals and cancer centers have (wonderful!) professionally led support groups for children where they can ask questions and talk about their feelings and share experiences.

Including children in the disease diagnosis and treatment (using developmentally appropriate language), though emotionally burdensome and painful, will ultimately be the greatest gift that parents can give children.

This philosophy transcends illness. We can’t opt out of painful experiences in life. As much as I wish we could, we just can’t. These are the inherent challenges of being alive. Communicating with and including children is a great opportunity to teach them how to cope with life’s inevitable challenges.

While we cannot protect all of the world’s children from the big and little “lumps” (pun intended) of life, the manner in which the experience is handled lays the foundation for how children will handle the inevitable future “lumps” in the road. When there is trust, you can survive anything and everything.

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You walk in grace or you walk in fear. You can’t have it both ways. ~ Carlos Santana

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Pack a Picnic

Packapicnic

Image:  livesimplylivethriftylivesavvy.com

A picnic is the quintessential essence and Shining Moment of summertime.

One of the reasons why I love picnics so much is because you can have them anywhere.  I love nothing more than throwing a blanket down in a back yard for reading, talking and noshing.

Picnics are so special because they allow us the rare opportunity to sit still for a few minutes (or hours!). When I am outside, I am so relaaaaaxed. There’s something about being outside on a blanket under a shady tree that chills me out instantaneously (Shining Moment). I have even installed a no-technology policy on a picnic blanket to eliminate any chance of distraction. Boy, was THAT a great idea!

Foods you can eat with your hands are great for picnic, which is why sandwiches and watermelon are some of my faves. I especially like wrap sandwiches because they can be sliced and shared so everyone gets to taste the variety without a lot of extra work.  Pasta, potato and bean salads are wonderful for picnics. When I have picnics away from home, I like to pack individual portions in reusable glass containers. This way, everyone gets their own share and you don’t have to worry about toting a big serving dish to your favorite picnic spot!

Do you like picnics? What makes them special to you?

 

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Radiation

radiation

Image: quazoo.com

 

The Shining Moment of radiation for me was that it was the LAST part of my treatment regimen. Yippeeee-do!

Why did I have to have radiation, you ask? (Heaven knows I asked!)

Let’s back up for a second. Please allow me to give you an analogy of the relationship between breast cancer cells (described to me by a Radiation Oncologist):

Imagine being at a ginormous family reunion, the kind were there are great aunts & 3rd cousins – some even once removed (I still don’t really understand what that means).  Ok.  Got the image?  Tons of people, some just barely related.

This is how some of the cells of breast cancer are related – just barely. All of the cells are NOT the same.  Some of the cells are 3rd cousins once removed. Shocker, right?  I have to tell you that I thought one breast cancer cell was just like the other.  Not the case.

Now, onto the treatment explanation.  I was told to think about breast cancer as a Forest Fire (a description which actually isn’t too far off. I’ve certainly wanted to evacuate my body on one occasion or another since diagnosis!).

In eliminating a forest fire, there are firemen (& women), police, search and rescue, etc. who play specific rolls.

OK, now, let’s tie it all in together.

Because one breast cancer cell is not like every other, the treatment modalities for breast cancer are multifaceted, just as they are in eliminating a forest fire.  Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation all serve different rolls.

The purpose of radiation for me was to decrease my risk that breast cancer would return in the area in which it began. Because of my young age of 42 (when diagnosed) and the fact that I had a tumor 1.9 cm, my treatment plan warranted a full court press, including the “search and rescue” radiation team.

If I chose not to have radiation, the risk that this breast cancer will come back (yes, we have to address the big “R” for recurrence) was approximately 18%. That’s a percentage that I was NOT willing to take. So, I got nuked, and my risk for recurrence went down to 3-4%. My preference would be a 0%; however, the lower numbers are so – oh so – much better than the higher numbers!

Wondering how radiation works?  It uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells by causing the production of “free radicals”. This process changes the DNA of the cancer cells and prevents them from reproducing.  The cancer cells die when they can no longer multiply and the body naturally eliminates them.

The good news is that healthy tissues are spared the effects of radiation because after treatment is over, they can repair the DNA changes unlike the cancer cell.  In addition, normal tissues are shielded as much as possible while targeting the radiation to the cancer site.

When moving from chemotherapy to radiation, the primary doctor changes from a Medical Oncologist to a Radiation Oncologist (i.e., a cancer doctor who only does radiation).

Now there are plenty of possible side effects:

  1. Fatigue (already had plenty of that!)
  2. Dryness, irritation and peeling of the skin within the treated area-particularly under the breast and underarm
  3. Increased pigmentation or darkening of skin within the treatment area
  4. Temporary hair loss in the radiation field (couldn’t lose anymore since I was already bald-bald-bald!)
  5. Soreness or slight swelling to the treated breast and/or arm
  6. Possible dry cough

I fully anticipated (based on my track record and my medical record that is the width of 3 bricks stacked on top of one another) having one if not all of the side effects. Guess what? I was right. Yup, I had them all.

This is not to say that I turned a corner and was gloom and doom.  On the contrary.  By now, you know my philosophy is:

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

My radiation oncologist said that, because of my extraordinarily high sensitivity to surgery and chemo, she fully expected me to have all of the side effects and planned to stay all over me to prevent them…and if not prevent, then reduce the intensity of them. How’s that for a Shining Moment? To know that I was closely monitored and quickly treated gave me a tremendous peace of mind.

Another big arse Shining Moment here was that I did NOT – I repeat:  I did NOT have to have any more crazy-insomnia inducing steroids.

Additionally, I did NOT – I repeat:  I did NOT have any nausea from radiation.  Those two NON-side effects alone were enough to make me jump – no, leap! – for JOY!

Now this IS radiationAnd radiation is NOT good for us in general.  In fact, to even get an x-ray of my teeth I have to wear a leaded vest.  However, my attitude was, if it kills any potential errant breast cancer cells, then great. Fantastic.

I had 36 treatments.  Radiation happened 5 days per week:  Monday – Friday for a total of 7 weeks, plus one day.  The weekend permitted the recovery of normal cells between radiation treatments.

Poisons and medicine are oftentimes the same substance given with different intents.

~Peter Mere Latham

 

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Worry is like a rocking chair:  It gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere. ~ Erma Bombeck

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Zucchinicanoes

Image: pinterest.com

This no fuss recipe of turkey chili turns a humble zucchini into a satisfying meal. Top your boats with a dollop of salsa, a sprinkle of shredded cheese, or other favorite chili add-ins. It is super easy-peasy to make and a great meal the kids will love.

Ingredients:

4 medium zucchini (about ½ pound each)

1 pound lean ground turkey

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 egg

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. salt

Salsa, shredded Mexican cheese blend, or other chili topping for serving

 

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Trim off and discard the ends of each zucchini, then halve them lengthwise.  Trim a thin slice from the curved side of each portion so that it sits flat.  Scoop out and discard the center flesh of each zucchini to form a canoe.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir the ground turkey, corn, onion, egg, garlic, chili powder, and salt together until well blended.  Evenly distribute the mixture among the zucchini halves, packing it in and mounding it slightly.
  3. Arrange the canoes on a baking sheet.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Serve with salsa, cheese, or your family’s favorite chili topping.
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