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!

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!

#13: Desert Sunrise

These pictures from Arizona speak for themselves. The expansive sky and beautiful sunrise bring beauty to a barren desert.

Desert Sunrise

Desert Sunrise

Panoramic View

Panoramic View

The Rest of the View

The Rest of the View (completing the 360 degree view)

Here we are!

Here we are!

In the State

In the State

#12: Into the Night

Toot N Totum

Toot N Totum

Following our Mexican dinner in Texas, we got gas at the Toot’N'Totum then drove on into the night, intent on arriving as soon as possible to California. Overnight driving was ahead.

Our next stop: Albequerque, New Mexico.

That was my first time in New Mexico. We paused for gas in the city – one of the few peopled populated areas – and due to the flat nature of the landscape, the expanse of the city could be seen with so many bright lights in that remote place. I tried to capture it via photo, but alas, this fails to due it even close to justice.

Albequerque

Albequerque

#11: Tex Mex

Mexican Restaurant in Texas

Mexican Restaurant in Texas

The hubby wanted Mexican for dinner last night so we held out until we hit Armadillo, Texas.

Yelp helped us find an authentic hole-in-the-wall place where Eddie said it was a good sign that hispanics were observed to be eating there.

 

In truth, I don’t think I’d had Mexican that tasted like that. And Eddie said it’s even better in California.

Oh, Yelp had a $10 for $20 coupon deal so that worked great. Great! Thank you, God, for that gift!

El Manantial Menu

El Manantial Menu

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