Experience Truth in Wellness

Living Shalom is a Biblically-based endeavor that exists to inspire and equip you to experience greater health and wellness. Wellness Advocate, Lisa Gautier, shares knowledge, resources, and her own experiences related to health and wellness, and invites you to join her on the journey toward more abundant life and health!

Free Lemons

Someone's Lemon Tree

Someone’s Lemon Tree

I am amazed by the amount of citrus trees that abound in California, right in people’s yards!

I must confess, I have often driven by in envy, wishing I had a house with such trees on the property.

Imagine: oranges and lemons galore, just falling off the branches, all free for the taking!

Honestly, it sounds glorious. Probably even more so because I use citrus regularly.

But alas – my husband and I live in an apartment where we barely have a palm frond waving in the breeze near the pool, much less a lemon tree or any other fruitful plant.

And it’s especially frustrating to me when I drive by and see a myriad of the fresh fruits scattered like precious jewels along the ground…left there, unused, forgotten, forsaken, and wasted! The abundance of bright balls left to rot on the ground. How could the owners let them go to seed this way?!? It seems such a shame! People like me or others would love to use them and yet they go to waste.

I sigh. I groan inwardly. And I relinquish the fact that they are not my citrus fruit and I move on.

One day a few weeks past, I went for a stroll in the neighborhood on the town that borders where our apartment lies. It’s only a few minutes walk from our abode to this city where the houses start at $1 million. I can’t afford to live there, certainly, but I’m grateful to have such a neighborhood nearby for outdoor walks in the lovely California sunshine.

And so, I went for a stroll.

And on my stroll, I saw a little wooden wheelbarrow sitting at the end of someone’s driveway with a handwritten sign that said: “Free Lemons” and the tiny wheelbarrow quite full with 5 fresh lemons!

Lemons! Fresh lemons! And for free!

Someone had decided to be generous and not to waste them after all! And there they were…I could finally try some home grown citrus fruits!

I was beyond elated.

Not to mention the fact I’d also save a little money – because, again, I frequently buy lemons and here were 5 fresh ones, 4 of which were quite large – larger than any lemons I had ever had that I recall.

Look at them!

Free Lemons!

Free Lemons!

Ah…joy…wonder…bliss. Free lemons!

I took them home and Eddie and I enjoyed them.

Well, again just yesterday (as of the writing of this post), I went for a walk and went by that house. Lo and behold there were more lemons in the wheelbarrow – AGAIN!

By golly, this homeowner was choosing not to waste her lemons, but to be generous with them!

Since there was not a “free” sign this time, I did not want to presume they were free so left a little note near the door. The lady called me the next morning and said that indeed, if the lemons were in the wheelbarrow they were free, and that also she would leave me a bag of them to pick up on her front porch.

Well!

I surely went by and picked them up and lo and behold she had left me not just the number of lemons that had been in the wheelbarrow – but even more! She generously gave EIGHT lemons!

Given my attempts to increase my frugality on food spending, I was even more grateful for the lemons and the blessing God was giving to us through this lady and her lemons.

And just like The Free Box, God was providing again exactly what we needed.

What a delightful gift and surprise He gave today!

And all through a lady he used who chose to give away her fresh home grown lemons.

Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking

Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking

Thanks to a new local friend here, I discovered an AMAZING gluten-free cookbook. She fed me a dish from the book and I went out to the store and bought myself a copy straightaway!

Thus far, everything I have made from it has been DELICIOUS. This includes the cherry streusel muffins I made which I shared with our downstairs neighbors who came back with accolades about the recipe.

Baking gluten-free muffins

Baking gluten-free muffins

I have since also made the gluten-free cinnamon rolls (my husband loves cinnamon rolls, but I had yet to be inspired to make them with a gluten-free recipe until this book). And I just baked up some gluten-free brownies using the recipe in this book as a guide – they turned out AMAZING! And usually I HATE homemade brownies!

If you want gluten-free recipes and a good base cookbook that will also include baked goods, get this book!

It even has a great gluten-free flour recipe so you can make your own! Note, the cheapest way to make this that I have found thus far is to buy all the gluten-free flours at Vitacost. I recently got them for an average of probably half the cost they are at Whole Foods. And if you order at least $50 or so at Vitacost, you’ll get your shipping free. Totally worth it.

Make this flour – it cooks up great and you won’t even know your food is gluten-free!

I keep a ball jar of the flour in my fridge so it’s on hand for use whenever I make my next gluten-free recipe.

Have an unused Amazon gift card? Why not use it to get this book? Or, if you don’t want to commit to purchasing the book before you try the recipes, why not see if you can request a copy at your local library? I have reviewed many a cookbook via the library before buying. It’s a great way to check them out before committing to purchase!

Let me know if you get or have this cookbook and what recipes you love! Or, if you have other gluten-free cookbooks you enjoy, I’d love to hear about them here!

Happy gluten-free cooking!

Pink Salt is Expensive in Shakers!

Pink Salt is Expensive in Shakers!

Today I need to tell you the least expensive way I have found to buy high quality pink salt.

Why buy pink salt, you ask?

I get that question repeatedly.

Well, pink salt is actually good for you, unlike the conventional manmade salt you see on restaurant tables. Pink salt has minerals. And good quality salt – such as this – can actually benefit your adrenals. If you are dealing with low adrenal function (which is basically when extensive or traumatic stress wears out your adrenals, a source of your internal energy), you might find you crave salt (as I often have).

Now I know WHY I have loved salt so much and enjoy putting it on practically everything possible! Because my body NEEDED it!

And with pink salt, you can sprinkle away!

No need to feel guilty. Rather, feel good about using this salt! You are doing your body a favor to put this wonderful mineral-rich substance in your body!

Good salt, such as pink salt, really enhances even just plain steamed vegetables. Make the flavor pop with a dash of this substance that looks like sand from an island’s pink shore.

With just this simple, but robust salt, you might decide many of your other jarred spices are no longer needed. I used to keep so many jars of spices and herbs on hand, including spice blends to flavor my vegetables and such. Not anymore! And for 3 reasons – (1) a high-mineral salt like this pink salt provides all the flavor you need without requiring many dried herbs (2) dried herbs actually expire over time and I found I rarely would use them all in time & (3) dried herbs can be purchased in bulk at Whole Foods in the amounts you need AS you need them for recipes and for less per ounce than if you were buying them in jars so I don’t need to keep lots of jars of them on hand.

And guess what?

Now I have discovered pink salt is available in the bulk spice section at some Whole Foods – at least here in California!

It’s the least expensive way I know to buy the stuff!

I used to buy celtic or other mineral (and possibly pink) salt in bags running I’d guess around $12/lb.

But oh…you can get the pink salt in bulk at just $2.69 / lb.!!! What a deal!

So, stock up on your pink salt, store it in your cupboard in an 8 oz. size Ball Jar and enjoy as your primary seasoning of choice!

Pink Salt in Bulk at $2.69 / lb.

Pink Salt in Bulk at $2.69 / lb.

How do you use your pink salt?

The Free Box

This morning prior the start of my workday, I went for a walk around the new town where I work – Palo Alto, California.

This town is unlike any other I have ever seen in this country. It’s a hybrid between a small European town and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Boutiques, bikers, and outdoor cafes abound. The older residential district and pop up old-style churches blend seamlessly together alongside the smallish, but active downtown. Commuters are evidenced walking and biking to work – some commuters barefoot or helmet-less on their bikes. One biker rides by in full on business professional clothing, white button down dress shirt and black pants. I marvel.

The air is crisp and cool – unexpected on a mid-July day (at least for this relocated Southern girl who is accustomed to muggy, hot summers). The climate is perfect. Not too hot, not too cool. And I am at peace.

Likely, my weekend of quiet solitary retreat with God is the main reason for this great peace. I’d say so. It was a refreshing weekend of turning all of my cares over to God, asking for His cleansing, and taking renewed refuge in Him. There is indeed no one like our God, Maker of Heaven and Earth who calms our flailing souls. While circumstances may not immediately change, you can find a sure refuge in God who is unchanging, an anchor in the storm.

And so I suppose you could say I got re-anchored.

So, this morning’s prayerful walk came from that place.

I could smell the gardenias blooming at my side as I strolled along the sidewalk. I could notice the unusual architecture of what appeared an 18th century church as I came upon it. I could receive the “Happy Monday!” that came out of the mouth of a walking businessman who passed me by with cheer and I could welcome him back the same.

During the final portion of my morning stroll near work, I happened upon a cardboard box that lay on the sidewalk fronting a residence. The medium small box was open, with the word “FREE” written in Sharpie on two of the inside flaps which were folded outward.

Hmm. It was a “FREE” box. I took a moment to pause and examine it’s contents. Box of Rogaine – don’t need that. Empty plastic juice bottle, empty glass jelly jar – why in the world are those in there? Is that a joke?!? Just put them in recycling! Ok, Lisa, calm down…give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe that’s their attempt at recycling…

What else…? A spray bottle. What was that – hair spray? Nope – more Rogaine. Rogaine for Women. Ah. Oh – oh, look, hah, there’s 2 spray bottles of Rogaine for Women. Nope. Definitely don’t need those.

Wait – what’s that?

The last item in the box caught my eye: a bottle of pump soap from Trader Joe’s. Was there really any soap in there? (I mean, I was a little dubious based on the other items in the box). I checked it – lifted it, unscrewed the pump. Huh! Yes, in fact there was soap inside! Well, something here really was free that I just found useful.

It occurred to me – I was planning to shower at the office today and had thought in passing earlier – what will I do for soap? (as I did not have any body soap particularly packed).

And suddenly, I felt the Presence of the One who sees all and knows our smallest need. The One who doesn’t miss it when even one sparrow falls to the ground. He was there.

This was for me.

I needed soap and He gave me a free half full bottle of it!

I began to feel a new awe for Him, the only One who is truly Awesome.

If He so saw and provided for that tiny little need of mine, would He not also take care of my much much greater needs?

Yes, Lord, so You will. I could hear my heart further entrusting to Him my much greater needs.

I was first tempted to holler to you all via my blog that “The Free Box made my Monday!” but I realized that would not be accurate or right.

No, it wasn’t the free box that “made my Monday” – it was the gift God gave me through it.

Himself. The renewed sense of HIM and His awareness of my concerns and needs.

He hasn’t forgotten. He hasn’t forsaken.

Not me. Not you.

He’s offering You a gift too. What does the Lord want to give you right now in His “Free Box”?

What is it that you need?

Ask Him for help. Ask for provision. He has promised to supply the needs of His children when we turn to Him, and He longs for us to receive from His hand the blessings He offers.

Homemade Vegetable Pho

Homemade Vegetable Pho

My husband and I have a new shared interest: Vietnamese Pho.

Pho real.

Nope, actually, here in California, I’ve learned it’s pronounced “Pha” as the “Fa” in “Far,” not “Pho.” The small accent over the “o” apparently changes the pronunciation.

On the east coast, we called it “pho.” I suppose due to the large Asian population here in California, you can’t go for long saying it the wrong way.

Now, it’s “pha.”

Given how often we find ourselves stopping into a Vietnamese restaurant for a hot bowl of this yumminess, we decided to try our hand at making it ourselves.

Our first attempt involved my taking a trip to a local Asian store, where I found to my surprise that the Asian pho noodles cost roughly $1.70 for a package of 6 servings. That was a deal.

For multiple reasons, I decided to use my essential oils to provide flavor (not to mention therapeutic benefits) to the pho, rather than buying roots, stalks, and spices to flavor it.

Essential Oils for Pho Soup

Essential Oils for Pho Soup

The basics to good pho, as I’m learning include a couple of things:

(1) Good broth – while I used the oils in my broth, and boiled the broth for about 20 minutes, I learned afterward from a foodie who is familiar with making vegetable pho, that the best way to do the broth is to cut 2 lemongrass stalks in quarters, and simmer the broth (after bringing to a boil) for what I believe he said was 30 minutes. This reduction of the broth will increase it’s concentration. Once the broth has reduced, add one thumb-sized worth piece of ginger, shredded. (I recommend a ginger grater for this part.)

(2) Lemongrass and ginger – these are key components. When my husband added actual finely chopped ginger to our leftover pho, he proclaimed there was a definite difference. Next time, we obviously need to use lemongrass and ginger.

(3) Steam vegetables separate from the broth – you don’t want to cook the vegetables in the broth because, per my foodie friend, it makes everything taste the same. The thing about steaming the vegetables separately is that when you combine all ingredients for the pho at the time of serving, you still get the individual tastes of the vegetables.

(4) Use Asian pho rice noodles – I got the large size which seemed most authentic as compared to the noodles used by the Vietnamese restaurants. Directions on how to “cook” the noodles are here. I used those directions, but found the noodles weren’t thoroughly cooked, so we had to put the noodles and their soaking water back on the stove until they were done. As with other gluten-free noodles, you have to be careful to avoid overcooking. But in this case, I’d just cook these vietnamese noodles the same as other brown rice noodles, rather than simply pouring boiling water over them and letting them sit for several minutes. That didn’t work.

Based on this, here’s my recipe for pho:

Ingredients:

*1 crown of Broccoli (cut into florets)

*Carrots (2, thinly sliced at an angle)

*Mushrooms, sliced (about 1/2 a dozen)

*Baby corns (about 1/2 a dozen)

*Pho rice noodles (also called “Pad Thai” – available at an Asian market)

*Vegetable broth

*2 stalks lemongrass, each quartered (use cooking scissors to cut them)

*1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated

*Salt and pepper to taste

*Lime slices to garnish

*White Bean sprouts to garnish

*Jalapeno (sliced) to garnish

*Pat of butter

Instructions:

Add lemongrass to a quart of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let it reduce for 30 minutes. After that time, add grated ginger upon removing from heat.

While broth is boiling, slice mushrooms and saute in pat of butter over medium heat in saucepan. Midway through cooking, toss in your 1/2 dozen baby corns to heat them with the mushrooms.

While mushrooms are starting to cook, cut up broccoli and carrots and steam in a small amount of water (under a closed lid) on the stove, until vegetables are crisp tender and bright in color. Do not overcook vegetables.

Boil enough water to cover rice noodles. Once water is boiling, add rice noodles and cook approximately 7 minutes or until just tender. Do not overcook or they will become mushy. Once cooked, drain off all cooking water immediately. If you are not consuming the noodles immediately, rinse them with cold water to halt the cooking process. Same with the steamed vegetables. If not consuming immediately, rinse with cold water to halt the cooking.

When broth is ready, put noodles in the bottom of an ample-sized serving bowl. Add all vegetables (steamed and sauteed), and top with garnishes of bean sprouts, jalapenos, and spritz with juice by squeezing lime slices over the top. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy your homemade vegetable pho!

Making Vegetable Pho

Making Vegetable Pho

Having been in the Bay Area nearly 2 months, I have been working a temp job the month of December in San Francisco city. My building directly overlooks the San Francisco port and associated ferry building which houses stores and cafes that any health-focused foodie would love! It reminds me a lot of Pike Place Market in Seattle, a place I once visited. I loved the city of Seattle so much that despite my then-current North Carolina residence (and lack of desire to move elsewhere) I actually could picture myself enjoying such a place. And now I live in such a place – only it’s San Fran! What a delight and joy to be able to grab a cold-pressed juice on the go for breakfast, or gluten-free curry empanadas for lunch!

Check out the pictures below! Come take a visit yourself, or just move to the Bay and you can live among this goodness all year long!

View of the Ferry Building from my office

View of the Ferry Building from my office

 

Welcome to the Ferry Building Marketplace!

Welcome to the Ferry Building Marketplace!

The Ferry Schedule

The Ferry Schedule

A Mushroom shop!

A Mushroom shop!

Mariposa - gluten-free bakery

Mariposa – gluten-free bakery

Gluten-free cinnamon rolls - yes, I got one for my husband who loves cinnamon rolls and he declared he liked the bread better than Cinnabon!

Gluten-free cinnamon rolls – yes, I got one for my husband who loves cinnamon rolls and he declared he liked the bread of this better than even Cinnabon!

Mariposa Gluten-Free Breakfast & Lunch Menu

Mariposa Gluten-Free Breakfast & Lunch Menu

Gluten-Free Vegetable Curry Empanadas for Lunch

Gluten-Free Vegetable Curry Empanadas for Lunch from Mariposa

More gluten-free goodies

More gluten-free goodies

San Francisco Fish Company and Meat Company. Get it fresh here!

San Francisco Fish Company and Meat Company. Get it fresh here!

California Olive Oil Shop

California Olive Oil Shop

The Imperial Tea Court

The Imperial Tea Court

Japanese and Californian Cafe

Japanese and Californian Cafe

Delica Cafe

Delica Cafe

Fresh Produce Market

Fresh Produce Market

Cowgirl Creamery Cheese Shop

Cowgirl Creamery Cheese Shop

Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee Samples!

Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee Samples! The Ferry shops have lots of free samples!

Outdoor Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building. It happens 3 days a week.

Outdoor Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building. It happens 3 days a week.

Market Vegetables

Market Vegetables

Outdoor Market

Outdoor Market

Fresh Pomegranate juice at the outdoor market

Fresh Pomegranate juice at the outdoor market

Ferry Building at Dusk Plus a Cruise Ship!

Ferry Building at Dusk Plus a Cruise Ship!

More news soon, but this is enough for you to chew on now! Hugs :)

Curry with Vegetables (and/or Chicken)

Ingredients:

  • olive oil (approx. 3 T.)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 dozen whole cashews
  • 2 bell peppers (halved, seeded, and diced) – 1 green pepper, and 1 of another color (yellow or orange)
  • 1/2 bag frozen organic carrots/pea mix (Whole Foods carries)
  • 4 medium-sized tomatoes, diced (or in winter, can use 1 14.5 oz can tomatoes)
  • 2 whole squash/zucchini (if desired)
  • 1.5 c. potatoes, diced in 1 inch cubes (e.g. 2 medium white potatoes peeled, or a handful of new potatoes)
  • 2 c. cauliflower florets (if desired)
  • 1.5 lb chicken breast, diced into 1 inch cubes (optional)
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 t. ground ginger powder (or 1 T. fresh ginger, minced)
  • 1 t. curry powder
  • 1 t. tandoori spice
  • 1 t. ground mustard
  • 1 t. ground coriander
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3/4 c. almond milk
  • 1/4 c. organic ketchup (optional)
  • Sea salt to taste (1-2 t.)
  • 1.5 c. basmati rice (I recommend brown basmati, if available)

Directions:

Over medium low heat, saute diced onion and garlic together in olive oil in a generous-sized saucepan like this one pictured, from All-Clad. Allow all to soften. This takes a while and affords an excellent opportunity for chopping other vegetables. Saute until very tender (I’d estimate about 20 minutes).

Optional: If you want to add chicken to this recipe, saute the diced pieces in olive oil in a separate pan until cooked through (but still moist/tender). Set aside.

Add all spices and nuts to onion/garlic mixture. Stir in and allow to meld for about 5 minutes.

Adding spices

Add diced bell pepper – 1/2 of your green one, and 1/2 of your yellow/orange one. Put the other diced pepper aside; we’ll use it later. Cook 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes. Cover. Simmer at that same medium low temperature for about 20 minutes.

Adding tomatoes

Remove bay leaves, and pour mixture into blender. Blend to a puree. Add 3/4 c. almond milk to mixture. Add a generous squirt of ketchup (optional), about 1/4 c.

Return sauce to pan. Add diced potatoes. If sauce is too thick, thin by adding some water. Add salt. Cover and simmer again for 25-30 minutes.

Add remaining vegetables (peas & carrots, cauliflower, diced pepper, squash/zucchini), and chicken (if you’re including). Cover and cook 10 minutes further.

Curry and Rice Cooking

Top basmati rice with a generous helping of your curry mixture. Serve, and enjoy the fragrant aroma of Nepalese curry long after the meal is over.

Curry Dinner

This recipe is based on the copious notes (and many guesstimates) based upon cooking this dish with my superb chef-of-a-friend! She learned how to make curry from our fellow Nepalese friend, also a lover of good food. Thanks to both of them for passing along their recipe ideas one to another and now to me! Though it takes a while to make, this curry is worth it!!

Curry Consumption

In Malibu

Me at Malibu Beach

Me at Malibu Beach

Ever been to Malibu?

My husband and I made a brief stop there last week during our drive from Santa Monica to L.A.

We stopped to grab some food at Neptune’s Net, a seafood restaurant that overlooks the Malibu beach, and is apparently known for it’s feature in films, such as Fast and Furious.

Neptune's Net

Neptune’s Net

We drove along what is called the PCH, or Pacific Coast Highway. It boasted beautiful ocean views next to mini-mountains. Kind of reminded me of Cinque Terre in Italy. Wow.

More of Malibu Beach

More of Malibu Beach

Boating off the beach

Boating off the beach in Malibu

Surfer Dudes

Surfer Dudes

We are driving more of the PCH today as we head up to our new home in the Bay Area. I’m excited to see what else we discover!

My Husband at the beach

My Husband at the beach

Now that I’m in the L.A. area, I’ve been getting to know my wonderful Filipino mother who lives here. She is the greatest mother-in-law!

I LOVE her!

Given how fast I got married (and that I got married in NC), I had not had much time with her previously so this several days has really been my first chance to get to know her more.

My husband and his dance partner competed for the first time with their routine this weekend at the Paradise Dance Festival and won 3rd place! I am so proud of them both and excited for what is ahead!

While Eddie was away, my new mom and I got a chance to spend a day together. See below for a visual journey of our very special day together. It was one of the most relaxing and fun days I can remember for a long while now (as I have been very very busy prior).

At the Filipino Market

At the Filipino Market

Asian Produce

Asian Produce

Our Groceries

Our Groceries

With my Filipino mother

With my Filipino mother

Thai Restaurant for Lunch

Thai Restaurant for Lunch

Banana Tree in the Outdoor Dining Area

Banana Tree in the Outdoor Dining Area

Bananas!

Bananas!

Lunch with Mom

Lunch with Mom

At the Nail Salon: Mom's Pedicure

At the Nail Salon: Mom’s Pedicure

My Pedicure and Manicure

My Pedicure and Manicure

As you can see we had a very Asian day (which I did not mind at all!) My home decor is pretty much all Asian style (and was even prior meeting Eddie, my Asian hubby) and I already very much love many Asian ways, so in many ways I already feel very at home in my new Valdez Filipino family.

And anyways, besides that, I am part Asian…

After all, I’m cauc-ASIAN.

See?

:)

 

Hollywood

Hollywood

Yesterday we arrived in Los Angeles midday.

I saw the Hollywood sign for the first time in person.

And we ate at a Mediterranean Global Street Food place, called Spitz. Yum! I wish I’d taken a picture of our salad with falafel! It was amazing…

Spitz in L.A.

Spitz in L.A.

Oh, and Eddie informed me as we were buying lunch: there is no food sales tax in California.

Yesssssss!!!! Cause, after all, I like food. :)

After crashing in the bed at 3 pm, we didn’t wake up until 6 am this morning (that’s 9 am EST).

Phew!

What a trip!

Now Eddie is off to compete this weekend at Paradise Swing with his new dance partner doing their routine for the first time competitively. I am praying you two do very well out on the dance floor!

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