Nashville Hot Tofu

I grew up in the south, and was raised on southern comfort foods like fried chicken, biscuits, gravy, and many other delights. I am no stranger to deep fried southern comfort! Something about the smells, the flavors, and even the textures can bring back fond memories of certain times in our lives. But, as we age, we realize that these foods might not be the most nutritious, or our bodies don't respond to them as they once did! Our metabolism slows, and we just aren't able to splurge as hard as we used to. So, we make healthy lifestyle and dietary changes to keep our bodies running as optimally as possible. But we always crave the nostalgic warmth of our favorite comforts. If we splurge, we may backslide, and fall back into some bad eating habits. If we don't, we feel somewhat empty, and may sabotage our diet with a binge. We may even try a substitute, but find it bland and boring. In my case, I recently went vegan (plus no sugar or white flour), but was just coming off an obsessive addiction to Nashville hot chicken! How was I ever going to find a healthy and vegan substitute?? I looked at some recipes, but nothing really jumped out at me. So, I went into my own kitchen and pantry and decided to write a recipe myself! I had everything I needed, and was all set to make Nashville hot something! I had originally intended to make cauliflower, but I had a block of tofu and have recently learned a way to make it super crispy and delicious, so I went with that! If you do want to do cauliflower, I would suggest doing a technique that is closer to how you usually dredge fried chicken, only with a couple of substitutes. It's great if you're vegan, vegetarian, low carb, or keto!

If using cauliflower, first, you'll dredge in flour, then you'll coat in a vegan egg wash substitute made with flax seeds or flax meal and warm water. The flax and water do need to soak for about 5-10 minutes to get that egg consistency, so make sure you let them do their thing first before dipping anything in it. Then, you'll coat and fry, following the recipe. 

Mandy's Nashville Hot Popcorn Tofu

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1 block of Extra Firm Organic Tofu, pat dry and cut into small to medium cubes.

Combine 2 Tbsp vegan panko, 2 Tbsp Rice flour & 1 Tbsp Tapioca starch, 1/2 tsp cayenne, 1/4 tsp paprika, and 1/4 tsp salt in a gallon size ziploc bag or brown paper lunch bag. Drop the Tofu cubes in, and shake to coat.

**1/4 cup flax seeds/meal, 1/3 cup hot water to sub for an egg wash if using veggies instead of Tofu.

Drizzle 1Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp coconut oil on medium high in a non-stick skillet. Once hot, place 1/2 of the Tofu cubes in and turn until golden and crisp on all sides. Place or wire rack or paper towel lined plate to drain off excess oil. Repeat with the next 1/2 of the cubes, adding oil to pan if necessary.

Whisk all of these ingredients together in a small bowl:

1 Tbsp cayenne

1 tsp smoked paprika 

1 tsp sweet paprika

1/2 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsphoney or stevia 

2 tsp of pickle juice

1 Cup olive oil

Then drizzle or spoon this mixture over the Tofu. 

Top with pickle slices! Noms Away!!

Shirodhara and Steven Tyler

When I first started dabbling in spa life, before I even knew what an esthetician was, I started getting massages. Somehow, that led me to find specialized treatments for migraines specifically, from which I have suffered for many years, even at that time. It was circa 2002, and I was traveling a lot as a singer and dancer, and life found me on a break between contracts. I was staying with some friends in Queens, NY and traveling into the city doing fancy things. I had recently discovered something called Ayurveda on the internet, and found an Ayurvedic spa in SoHo. I decided that with my new, high paying job as an entertainer (with no bills to pay!), that I wanted to do something I had never done. So I did what folks are now calling "treat yo self." On my last night in the city before shipping off on a new contract, I booked myself a room at the Waldorf-Astoria. Then, I booked a massage and shirodhara at the Ayurvedic spa! I had no idea what to expect, as I had really never been to a spa before. 

I was very surprised at the massage. It was focused on lymphatic drainage, and was such an amazing experience. I was coated in oil from head to toe and massaged, while the therapist chanted. It was strange at the time, but beautifully foreign. The shirodhara came in handy for the migraine I had that day. Warm oil was streamed over the brow center (third eye) from a copper vessel and flowed down the hair and scalp. A scalp massage was performed after the oil was cooled and reapplied a few times, and I felt amazing. They offered me a short sauna and some tea after my services, and I was on my way. I didn't want to shower right away because I did know that the oil was great for my skin and hair. I also knew that my room for the night had a glorious claw-foot tub and plush robe that I was going to enjoy upon my return! 

So, I took to the street to grab a cab really fast, and I was slightly embarrassed that I looked like I had just crawled out of a deep fryer! I tried not to make eye contact with anyone on the street, but as I walked backward along the sidewalk with my hand frantically waving down the next available cab, I bumped smack into someone REALLY HARD. I fully expected to be cursed out, and spun slowly around to face the person and apologize profusely for presumably dousing someone with my grease. I did not expect what I saw. The person I had collided with was freakin' Steven Tyler!! As in, Aerosmith. And I'm here to tell ya, dude did look like a lady. I kinda thought it was a lady at first. I had seen this man a bajillion times on TV, and even went to a concert of his in high school. I had no idea he was so beautiful! Like, pretty. Gorgeous. He didn't think twice about the collision and went on his way politely, into a clothing boutique. I may have walked past that store a few times to keep staring and get a better look, but that's neither here nor there. I then remembered I was an absolute oil slick due to the odd looks I was receiving from strangers! So, I got in a cab and about slid out of my seat the entire way back to the Waldorf! The bath, robe, and evening after were divine, but oh what a day!

That was my first experience with Ayurveda, and I took Steven Tyler to be the good omen that meant I should keep studying it. Plus, it was the ritual that I felt a lot of times get left out of our every day beauty routines and regimens. It just seemed ancestral, like an inheritance from the divine. I was honored, and it truly felt like a ceremony. I have taken many classes and courses in Ayurveda since. I've learned so much about this multi-faceted healing science, and I always searched for Ayurveda in my town but it wouldn't yield any concrete results. I had to travel and take online programs, and I'm still researching the best avenue for me to fully immerse myself in the beauty of it. But for now, since I own a spa, I decided to at least incorporate it into what I do. Since I do beauty and body treatments, nutrition, yoga, meditation, and focus on healthy and non-toxic living, Ayurveda naturally fits and makes perfect sense. All of those things are elements of Ayurveda and the basic principles therein, so I found a natural, organic, small batch Ayurvedic skin care line to bring in. It's made with Ayurvedic herbs, with the lifestyle in mind. It's really a perfect fit, and I can't wait to use it in our new facials, as well as to recommend products to take home for the daily self care rituals. So, I'll be teaching an upcoming workshop! I love the rituals of honoring the self that Ayurveda is based upon, so please check out the event, Intro To Ayurveda and Self Care on January 29th. More info is on our website under "Calendar," and on our social media pages. I can't wait to share this beauty with you all, and help you find new rituals of beauty and health in the new year! I think Steven Tyler would approve, and I'm not convinced that he wasn't at the Ayurvedic spa too. Maybe that's why he's so pretty!!

HEALTHY RECIPE SHARE!

I've been meaning to resurrect this blog, and what better way to do that than with a little food blog post?! We got really busy with the studio move, and I have been struggling to commit to my nutrition and exercise regimens. But, I recently started a Facebook group for other busy people who want to get healthy and want a lot of options that make getting healthy fun. This group is providing low and no cost options for mind, body, and soul wellness while creating a community of support and positivity! I will be doing classes in person, video classes, sharing recipes, and encouraging meetups and workout buddies/groups. I will also be inviting in guest instructors to teach in their specialty and maybe introduce folks to something new! Anything and everything to support each other in getting healthy as a community. If you want to join, you can request to be a member, so just search for Joyful Wellness Collective on Facebook and I will add you. It's pretty awesome!

So, I started with a healthy go-to recipe that I wanted to share. In our family, it seems like everyone is on a different diet! That can be hard when you have a recipe that doesn't fit everyone's needs or tastes. This recipe can be changed as far as spices go, but this is also how we sneak in veggies for our picky eaters without going to the extra trouble and mess of pre-making a bajillion purees and freezing them. Ain't nobody got time fo dat! Sorry, Jerry Seinfeld's wife! This recipe is very adaptable, and if you're vegetarian, you can choose your favorite plant based protein or bean/legume to sub in for the turkey. This is our go-to taco meat, which can be adapted into taco mac, and burrito bowls, or whatever else you can think of as far as Mexicali creations go. 

We always start to build the flavor with onions and garlic. I used one red onion, and about 4 cloves of garlic, and just sauteed them in olive oil. Then we add veggies, and you can add whatever you have in the fridge. I added sweet baby peppers, shredded carrots, and asparagus, because I have a picky eater who will never eat a vegetable! I plopped in about a tablespoon of tomato paste and let that cook a bit too. 

Then, I added some bone broth. Any type of broth or stock would work here, and I used just enough to cover the veggies, and let them simmer on low (covered) until tender.

Once all of the veggies are fork tender, I transferred them to a large cup that came with my immersable blender, but you could use a regular blender or food processor. CAUTION: you may want to wait until it cools to blend, or you may have a massive explosion! You'll want to blend until you have a pureed consistency. It's ok if it's liquidy!

While all of this was going on, I started bringing a pot of water to a boil. You could do that step earlier if you are making rice or any sort of grain, but I used mini-alphabet pasta because the kids love it and it cooks very quickly. Any pasta could be substituted, but some good choices would be smaller pastas like elbows, shells, ditalini, orecchiette, orzo, etc. Make sure to salt the water! Then I rinsed out my veggie pan, and put it back on the stove and added olive oil and my ground turkey with some salt and pepper, and started browning away!

 

Once the turkey was cooked all the way through, I added the puree from before. If that seems like it needs more liquid, you can always add more stock. It will absorb.

 

Then I added my favorite taco seasonings. I used about a teaspoon each of chili powder and cumin, then maybe a quarter teaspoon of paprika, and a pinch of smoked paprika (it is a little spicy, and my mom and daughter are not huge spicy fans), and a pinch of cinnamon. You can add whatever suits your fancy! Hot sauce, chipotle peppers, fresh herbs like oregano or cilantro, etc. We didn't have any on hand so I went with dried. Here's another place where the recipe becomes adaptable. If you were making this into a spaghetti sauce, you could add in Italian seasoning or fresh basil and oregano, and maybe some parmesan cheese. It's the flavors and herbs and spices that change it into whatever you want it to be. I often split the recipe in half, and put wing sauce in it because my son has a slight hot wing obsession so he will eat anything Buffalo-style. Give it a drizzle of ranch, and you have a completely different meal!

 

While those spices soak in, drain the pasta and set aside. Once the turkey is at desired taco meat consistency, everything is ready for assembly! My boy child is not a fan of pasta, so he requested tacos. Baby girl and hubby love pasta, so I mixed a little turkey with a little pasta and some shredded Mexican cheese, covered with a layer of cheese on top, and placed in a large ceramic ramekin, but made some extras in a smaller size for convenient leftovers that can be popped into the oven. I just stuck it under the broiler to melt the cheese on top. Mom and I try to keep the carbs down, so we roasted some asparagus and had that on the side. Ours was mostly turkey, with a scant sprinkle of pasta and cheese. 

3 separate meals for 5 separate people out of one pound of turkey? HELL YES. MOM WIN!

3 separate meals for 5 separate people out of one pound of turkey? HELL YES. MOM WIN!

Increase the Staying Power of Your 2016 Resolutions

Increase the Staying Power of Your Resolutions In 2016

By Mandy Bloom

 

  I hate the concept of "detoxing." There, I said it. The medical community does not even recognize detox as even possible. I don't agree with that completely. I prefer the concept of detoxification being more of a metaphor. I truly believe our bodies, minds, and souls are "self cleaning ovens" that detoxify themselves on a regular basis as a part of their normal systemic function. But, we humans have a tendency to need to label. We process things better when they have names we can identify, associate, and eventually compartmentalize. I'd like to invite everyone to redefine the associated words and give our New Year's resolutions a real chance at survival! 

  When I think of words like "detox" and "cleanse," I immediately associate and have strong feelings. First, I feel a wave of nausea and associate that with a feeling of depletion. Second, I think of explosive diarrhea. I guess I have been lost in the game of detoxes and cleanses for too long! I have tried so many different avenues to get to my health goals by doing some really extreme things. To me, detoxing reminds me of that time I did a juice fast and went on a first date. I was STARVING and dumb enough to have cocktails, and spent a portion of my date in the restroom vomiting. Luckily, my date was really sauced too, and we made a much necessary trip to McDonalds so we could muster the strength to even make out later! That was not my finest hour, nor did it constitute diet success. When I think of cleansing, I remember some things I did when I was younger (I will spare you the details) that may or may not have induced abdominal cramping and frequent trips to the bathroom. These words are just unpleasant and make me want to run and hide. Preferably in a dark closet with a box of donuts.

So, why redefine? Because, if done right, these processes can be utterly life changing, and give those New Year's resolutions real staying power. They can also be (GASP!) pleasant! I know, right?! I think the issue is that we are only looking toward the dieting aspects and not the lifestyle. So, here are some unexpected areas to consider when wanting to make some killer resolutions that you'll actually stick to. This is also the part where I explain some services that I offer and how they can help you get on track and STAY THERE.

1. We can start with the diet, since that is usually the main concern. I am a big proponent of finding what works for you. Swearing off of anything COMPLETELY has not proven effective for me. So, maybe a diet that includes a cheat meal or cheat day is something to consider in that case. People are like snowflakes. No two are the same. Proper diet should be redefined as it pertains to you. Your body needs different things than Susie's. You may need extra B vitamins, while she needs more chromium. If you haven't tried nutritional therapy, you should! Not only does it help you choose foods that are nutrient rich for your individual needs, but it can help you find foods that treat your physical symptoms and ailments. It's not as much about what foods you need to take away, but what you can add to your diet to make yourself feel better! It's like using food as a prescription. That sounds much more pleasant than telling me I can't eat potatoes. Redefine how you see diet as what will work for you! 
2. Clutter is next on the list. It can assume many destructive forms. It lurks in your home, in your car, on your desk, and even worse...IN YOUR BRAIN AND SOUL! Most of the time we step over it. Sometimes we even trip over it. Often times, it takes us forever to even acknowledge that it's there. Even then, we sweep it under the rug and vow to get to it later. Before we know it, there's clutter in every room. The task at hand of cleaning up has now become a huge project, and I'm sorry but ,"Ain't nobody got time fo dat!" And yes, this is a metaphor too. Mental and emotional clutter are real. They can deposit themselves in your brain and reside in your physical body and your energetic body. These types of clutter can stagnate your energy and manifest as more intense emotional kickback or complete blockage. This is where things like life coaching and energy work can provide assistance. Sometimes the life clutter is piled up so high, we can't even see what's there, much less figure out how to remove or get around it. Life coaching is like your mental cleaning service. Sometimes, you have to leave it to the pros when it's too far gone. Energy work does the same, but for the emotions and spiritual blockages in the body. They are extremely powerful tools that can be revisited at any time, or done in a series to ensure success. You are supported in your journey and encouraged to view life as a set of baby steps instead of a giant leap! 
3. Behavior is another thing we don't think about needing to cleanse or detox from. At the beginning of a new year, we find ourselves reflecting on the previous year. As we do that, it is always good to look at one's Self with brutal honesty. (Another tool in life coaching.) What behaviors are you not the most proud of? Are you lazy? Are you gossipy? Do you waste time judging others and not looking honestly at your Self? Think about this before formulating your resolutions. You might find a shift or a change there. Or something you need to let go of.
Another thing to assess is your thinking. Thought process is everything in creating a life that is full and happy. If you're a Debbie Downer or a Negative Nancy, you are attracting more negativity and even illness in your life. This isn't hoodoo, voodoo, or hippy-dippy hullabaloo. This is quantum physics. The law of attraction is not a freaking secret. It is science. Einstein talked about it. All matter is just vibrating energy. They key to getting anything you want is to vibrate at the same level. Plain and simple. I can help you with this if you're not quite understanding. In a nutshell, keep your thoughts positive, and your life will follow suit. It's a process, but a worthy one. Just like your muscles need training, your brain does too. Practice. Also of note: meditation. Meditation literally trains you to let go of thoughts and just be at peace with a still brain. Most people say they can't meditate because their brain is too active. That is like stepping away from a piano because you can't play a sonata after a few attempts. It is a lifetime process, and must be practiced daily. Otherwise, you're quitting something you never even started. My point is, change your brain and thought process and you'll change your life. Call me if you need help with it. 
4. The physical body needs you this year. In order to stay in working order and produce the hormones, pump the blood, process the oxygen, fire the synapses, and all of the other important functions that make you alive, your body needs to keep moving. You don't have to go crazy with it. But you should commit to a level of physical movement that feels good for you. The point is that you carve out time and do what feels good. If you don't like running, don't do it. You would be doing yourself a disservice. This is detoxing and cleansing in a "two birds with one stone" fashion. Physical movement not only helps the organs function to keep that natural cleansing process going , but it releases endorphins that make you happy. Move. Just commit to a small amount of time. Even if you have to start with 30 minutes a week. Even if it's just putting on some good music and moving around. You can start small and challenge yourself to do a little more in your next session. Make time. Don't lie, you know you have some. Do the yoga. Dance. Go for a walk. Redefine exercise and make it a cleansing ritual that makes you joyous. 
5. Digital detox is a good example of redefining detox or cleansing. Again, the key is never deprivation. Facebook and Pinterest bring me joy (for the most part)! But, we can all be a little addicted. Maybe you can look at ways to put the digital things away for a certain chunk of time (per day, per week, etc). But it has to be doable for you. Don't set ridiculous goals. 
I once read something beautiful about the ritual of cleansing. Let's redefine the concept of New Year's resolutions by trying to see it as this type of cleansing. I remember a scene in a movie called "Joe Versus The Volcano," in which Meg Ryan was being bathed in a spring by a bunch of native women. It has always been the picture in my mind when I think of cleansing as a beautiful and spiritual ritual. We can add this thought (and literal bathing process if you need it) to our new definition. Cleansing should be a relaxing and beautiful process that feels amazing. If it doesn't feel good, you're doing it wrong. Take care of yourself as if it were a delectable indulgence. Enjoy things like massage and spa treatments as if they are essential to your health. Because they are. 

The underlying theme in our new definitions for cleansing and detoxing is the concept I am just going to call DOABILITY. Your definition may not be the same as anyone else's. You have to make these things make sense to you. You have to make things seem accessible and doable for you. Making your resolutions attainable might seem overwhelming, but with a little time to redefine and ACTUALLY THINK ABOUT IT, you can take this new year and create a new you. Next year, this time, you will be so happy that you did. So start the process now. Grab a pen and paper and just give yourself 30 minutes to think about your resolutions. Don't just make them up, willy-nilly style! Really think about the things that need cleaning and the toxins (literal and figurative) that need to be removed. Write them down in a brand new notebook and revisit every month. Change them. Let them expand. You'll thank yourself in 2017 when you're looking back at 2016. If it seems too much, too overwhelming, or too confusing to start , call your friendly neighborhood life coach! 

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What is Nutritional Therapy?

What is Nutritional Therapy?

So...What exactly is Nutritional Therapy? 

Sure, you can Google this question and get a bunch of condescending answers that you don't necessarily understand. I actually did the same thing to look up the actual definition for this post, but eventually scrapped the idea. I didn't like the way the definition sounded, but I wanted to explain for those who may not know what this therapy is, or what it entails. So, lemme break it down for ya...

Nutritional Therapy is not a "diet." If your goal is to lose weight, we can take that into account later. You will not be coerced into going vegan, eating paleo, or anything restrictive. Diets are not one-size-fits-all. What works for someone else may not work for you or address your individual issues. In other words, throw out the concept of "dieting" as you know it. This is better.