Update: My Mysterious Illness

At the beginning of December, I was feeling pretty discouraged by an on-going, persistent roadblock in my health. Waves of dizziness and vertigo hit with unrelenting regularity. It was a little scary to feel so out of control and out of sorts and to not know what the trigger was or when it would hit next. Sometimes in class, I would stagger out of the room and get to the bathroom as quickly as possible to avoid being sick in front of my students or fainting. Deep breathing became my best strategy for calming down in the midst of an episode. And I went to my doctor for a variety of tests that all left me with no conclusions as to the cause. What makes it so unnerving is that it was both predictable and unpredictable, and definitely connected in some way to my emotional state or hormonal state. It would increase intensity at certain points in the month and disappear at others following somewhat of a pattern. So in order to combat this mysterious situation, I turned to some some dietary changes and creating new healthy, mindful habits. Now you know the origin of my resolutions to be healthy and happy from earlier.

Since the autumnal holiday of Thanksgiving, I have really felt and noticed that if I eat crap, I feel like crap. With reducing my dairy intake and switching my morning milk in my coffee to almond milk, plus taking a probiotic, my belly gut feels so much better! I thought the dairy switch would be hard but actually because I feel so much better skipping out on the cow’s milk, it has been easy to side step and embrace the overall better vibes and energy I have gotten in exchange. With this extra energy, I have had the courage and stamina to cook more often and authentically from scratch which has in general made me feel happier in the kitchen and excited because as the kiddos are getting older they are getting SO into helping in the kitchen. More vegetables, fruits, and goodness is making all of us slim down on those extra pounds we were carrying about. So with the extra energy and the slimmed down 5lbs, it has also been easier to get into a consistent workout plan with lots of slow flowing yoga and some strength training. I am feeling stronger and this positive momentum always has me feeling like I can keep it up and going. So things are feeling good right now. I still got a dizzy spell about a week ago but just one and that is SUCH AN IMPROVEMENT that I could cry in gladness over the dramatic change I am feeling from some positive dietary changes and activity choices.

The other piece that is probably helping me feel overall healthy and lighter is letting go. A part of me has wondered if some of my nauseous feelings and lightheadedness were related to my deep-seated desire to have more children which is in direct confrontation with David’s reproductive choices. While I was telling myself I was making progress because I was stifling it down better, I had a sneaking suspicious that perhaps some of these symptoms were psychosomatic. Was I acting pregnant because I wanted to be pregnant? During break, I tried to reflect on this a bit and figure out ways to shift my perspective from “woe is me” to a viewpoint of choice and empowerment. A friend from high school reached out to share a bit about gender sadness she was experiencing and how she connected to some of my previous sharings on the topic. It felt very humbling in the moment to realize that I am not alone and it gave me a feeling of stability within the whirlwind of emotions I have carried about me since David’s procedure. After that conversation, I thought to myself, “hmmmm if some of my longings for another child stem from gender sadness, and if I am not alone in these feelings, perhaps there are other moms out there who have written about gender sadness in missing out on having a boy?” There must be a mom out there with a gaggle of girls who has expressed a tinge of sadness of what it would have been like to have had access to the part of her heart that wants to love a son. I googled and googled and googled and asked David to google for this and we found…..nothing. At first I was like, wow no one is sad about only having daughters and then I thought, what the heck! Why aren’t women sad about missing out on the love of a son? My sons’ love is AMAZING! It is playful, messy, and intense, it is sweet and and gentle. It is boyish and not gendered, it is one of the most beautiful bonds I have ever experienced. My perspective has dramatically shifted. I don’t need a daughter in my life to live fantasies of dress shopping and superficial nonsense that I have been holding desperately too like some deranged Disney villain longing to live our her princess fantasy. And instead I was reminded that sometimes when I need a miracle I look into my sons’ eyes and realize I have already created two.

Maybe its causation or correlations but healing my tummy and healing my heart was a lot of healing this past month, and I definitely am feeling the changes.

Quinoa Black Bean Burgers

Parent-Teacher Conferences leave me zapped. It is not that they are horrible experiences, in fact, I quite enjoy them. In some ways, I even look forward to them each trimester. But what is so challenging about them is the pace and duration. From 8AM-6PM in 15 minute increments, parents come in to talk about their student. Each meeting is great and it is fun getting to meet the family of the child you see so often in your classroom. By the end of the day though, you cannot help but be tired and a little achy from all that sitting and talking. As result, all I want to do is stuff my face with snacks and lay down on the couch all night with the TV. And preferably fall asleep by 8PM. This term though I got ahead of myself in a good way.

The night before conferences, I decided to cook Friday’s dinner so that when I came home bleary-eyed and famished my dinner was ready for me! These quinoa and black bean burgers were delicious and I was so thankful to my previous self for cooking them up for myself!

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2 cups or 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1. In a small sauce pan, toast the quinoa in olive oil for a few minutes. Add a cup of water and a pinch of salt, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.

2. Put the black beans, cooked quinoa, panko bread crumbs, onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and tomato paste into a mixing bowl. Mix everything together with your hands until it’s evenly mixed.

3. Preheat a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Divide the burger mixture into four equal pieces. Pat into burger patties.

4. Pour olive oil into the pan. Cook the patties for 5 minutes on each side, until they are a deep brown.

5. Serve with your favorite toppings: Honey mustard, arugula, avocado slice, cheese, go for it and be creative

eric’s chicken noodle soup

On Saturday afternoon, we invited our college friends over for a turkey dinner potluck. It was so much fun. Of course, I loved being with everyone and sharing a meal around the table together as a family. And, the food was quite delicious as well. We prepared the turkey, stuffing, and gravy and each friend brought a family favorite along for a side or for dessert. The house was warm with Thanksgiving aromas. It was a decadent meal and there were a few of us who wished we could curl up on the couch in our stretchy pants.

As was inevitable, David and I were left with so many leftovers. We were a little perplexed with how to handle all of the remaining turkey. I have never been very good at re-purposing leftovers. Thankfully, Eric, Laura’s husband, shared his delicious chicken noodle soup recipe which we substituted with our turkey meat. Coming home from work tonight, this meal was easy to whip together and so delicious. We are both excited to eat these leftovers again tomorrow night. And, to be honest I see this becoming a staple in our home. Thanks Eric!!


Roast chicken or turkey leftovers (we used 2 legs, a little breast meat and 2 wings from the turkey)

2 carrots

2 celery sticks

chicken stock (enough for 6-8 cups)

rice noodles



olive oil

red pepper flakes




salt and pepper

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 7.33.39 PMStart by heating olive oil in a pot. Saute chopped onion and 4 diced garlic cloves until translucent.

IMG_5197Add in the turkey or chicken leftovers. Cook together with the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until meat is warmed through and browns a little on the edges.

IMG_5199Add in the chopped carrots, celery and the spices: 2 tsp basil, 1 tsp marjoram, 1 tsp tarragon, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 2 tsp red pepper flakes. Saute together and cook 2-3 minutes.

IMG_5200Pour in the chicken stock. I added about 8 cups of the broth. Bring to a rolling boil and then cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Finally, add in the rice noodles and cover the soup again for 5-8 minutes to cook the noodles. Serve and truly enjoy!



butternut squash ravioli w/ browned butter, sage, & balsamic reduction

It is officially Fall in New England. The telltale signs are clearly present: cooler temperatures, an earlier sunset, turning leaves on trees and smalls piles of them on the ground, pumpkins on porches, people rushing by with pumpkin spiced lattes wearing sweaters, flannel, scarves, and, my favorite, the puffy vest! It is my absolutely favorite time in Boston. My wavy hair dislikes the heat and humidity of the Summer, the Spring is always so busy as a teacher trying to get through everything before the end of the school year, and Winter is beautiful and cozy and filled with snow-time activities but the darkness usually gets to me by the end of January. Fall is simply the best. The weather, the clothes, and the food are some of my favorite things. This recipe was first introduced to me by my friend, Lauren, and has since become a fall staple.


1 butternut squash

1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup of brown sugar

4 tablespoons butter

4-6 sage leaves

nutmeg, salt, pepper

Olive Oil

1 package frozen or fresh ravioli

Parmesan Cheese

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Start by peeling and scooping the seeds out of a butternut squash. Then dice it up into 1-2 inch cubes.

Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 6.43.36 PMLay the butternut squash in a casserole dish. Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 6.43.50 PMDrizzle with olive oil, Sprinkle generously with pepper and nutmeg and a dash of salt. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Take out the butternut squash and toss making sure all of the squash is coated in the oil and spices. Place it back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes, until the squash is cooked thoroughly.

Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 6.44.04 PMMeanwhile, add the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce, and simmer covered for 5 minutes. Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 6.44.16 PMIn a small frying pan, melt the butter and brown, toss in the sage and simmer 5 minutes or so. Screen Shot 2013-10-06 at 6.44.37 PMPrepare the ravioli according to the package. When all ingredients are done, toss together: ravioli, butternut squash, sage and butter sauce, and balsamic reduction into a bowl.

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Plate and top with fresh Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!!

mango cucumber salad

David has been outside this morning picking out the field of dandelions that plague our yard and pruning back the holly and juniper bushes.  Spring cleaning is up and running after a quick trip to Lowe’s to buy some pruning sheers, gardening bags, and gloves. While David enjoyed his zen-like garden work, I threw together a salad that reminds me so much of the Spring/Summer weather we are heading into.

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First you start by cleaning and de-stemming some watercress

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Peel, slice, and dice a mango

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Cube up some avocado and also cube up half of a cucumber and toss together in a large bowl

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Once all of your dicing and chopping is complete, it is time to mix up the dressing. Use 3 teaspoons of fish sauce, zest of 1 lime, juice of 1 lime,  1 teaspoon of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of rice vinegar.  Combine in a bowl.

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Then drizzle dressing into salad right before serving, toss together, and enjoy a tropical treat.

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vidalia onion & wild rice soup

My guilty pleasure is going to Panera Bread on a Saturday morning with David and ordering a cup of their french onion soup and a bowl of their macaroni and cheese.  It is so deliciously bad.  We have to stop ourselves from doing this every weekend.  It has become so routine that we are starting to recognize other routine customers!  There is this adorable old lady that drinks a hot coffee and eats buttered toasts in her booth before taking a nap and a little family of three that come for lunch and share soup with their toddler.  And, there is us.

This weekend to avoid our habit, I decided to make onion soup at home.  How difficult could be right?  Heading over to my go to cooking blog smitten kitchen, I located her vidalia onion soup with wild rice and got started!

When the recipe was completed, onions sautéed, herbs dipped into the broth, crostini baked, it was clear that we made the right choice to do it ourselves at home. AH! I cannot describe how delicious this was.  The blue cheese on the crostini added a nice bite to the soup and the herbs (which I tied together with twine and mixed in for 5 minutes forgoing the cheesecloth bundle in the recipe) made the broth incredibly flavorful.  Instead of heading to Panera, I am looking forward to enjoying the leftovers today and tomorrow.

butternut squash & black bean enchilada

A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law sent me a link to a vegetarian dish she prepared from Yummy Mummy Kitchen. Knowing that David and I were departing on the road of vegan-ism, she passed along the recipe for butternut squash & black bean enchiladas.  

Finally, after the holiday mayhem settled down, I found myself back in the kitchen tonight wondering what I should make for dinner.  It is so cold outside that I wanted the meal to be cozy but I wanted to make sure the meal focused on the veggies.  Her recommendation came to mind and I got started on the enchiladas.  The recipe was super fast and easy to prep.  Within 40 minutes, it was complete and ready to eat.  Much of that time was used to roast the butternut squash so don’t shy away from this meal, it truly is a simple recipe for someone who doesn’t mind using their hands to assemble these delicious “cheesy” enchiladas.

What do you need:

1 Greek Yogurt or Soy Yogurt (to keep it vegan)

2 jars of spicy red salsa

1 package of cheddar cheese OR Diaya “cheese” (to keep it vegan)

1 can organic black beans

12 oz chopped butternut squash

1 yellow onion, chopped

olive oil

salt & pepper

Tortillas (vegan can be found in the groceries stores too!)

Pre-heat the oven to 400 and roast the chopped butternut squash with a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper.  When cooked through, mix into a bowl with the black beans and onions.  Take about a tablespoon and half of this mixture and roll it in the tortilla placing it seam side down.  I used a 4 quart pyrex baking dish.  Once the dish has the rolled enchiladas, mix together the the salsa and greek/soy yogurt.  Pour this over the enchiladas and top with the cheese/daiya.  Bake in the oven at 350 until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Enjoy a delicious, flavorful, and simple meal!