Scallops with Creamy Garlic Veg Sauce

Scallops with Creamy Garlic Veg SauceI found my rhythm for making sure I was posting here and Chocolate Wasteland at least once a week months ago. That rhythm may change. I find myself writing fiction more and more. I still have inspiration in the kitchen and a long list of things ideas to work on. I work on them one by one and find myself wondering what I’m doing wrong when I have flop after flop. Have I lost my mojo? Have I lost my passion? Neither. My head isn’t in the game. Because while I’m painstakingly measuring and checking ingredients and writing it all down, my brain is writing dialogue and scene descriptions. Distractions like that lead to forgetting to add sugar to the pancake mix and winding up with a super dry pancake.

*Waves hand in front of your face* You did not read about pancakes just now.

My email inbox is nearly at 600 unread emails and that is after clearing out the junk emails. I am behind on reading my friends’ blogs and commenting then sharing them. I don’t feel like wading through my Twitter or Facebook feeds. There are a few pages I check regularly then I’m off.

I tell you all this because there may come a day when I’m posting more on Chocolate Wasteland than here. My Facebook blog page and Twitter may change as things shift for me. Heck, this blog may change and I may just put both blogs under one webpage that is all mine.

Why am I sharing this now and not later? Because I know things will change. They always do. Life is about change and rolling with tide when it comes along. I’ve always apologized in the past for absences on social media or here because life got in the way. I did so because I felt a duty to you as my reader even if I started this blog for myself. Somewhere along the way it became more about you. We are taught to know our audience as writers. However, we writers always end up writing for ourselves.

I tweeted once that we all use social media differently to share our posts and promote ourselves. I’m not good at pimping myself out. I’m not an attention whore. I’m not one who likes to jump up and down yelling, “LOOK AT ME!” I can’t share the same post multiple times a day for several days to make sure everyone sees it. If you want to read it, I know you will. If you really want to know what’s going on, you’ll have an email subscription.

I am going forward with my head in my fictional worlds I have created while working on kitchen experiments. If I miss a week or two I know it will be okay. I know everyone understands following their dreams and I’m chasing mine while I have this opportunity.

The recipe I’m sharing today is one I created while on the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol. I used spaghetti squash, but making zucchini noodles or gluten-free pasta (if you want grains) would work. Omit the scallops if you want to make this vegan. Or change it up and use shrimp instead. If you do use scallops, make sure you do not let them cook longer than I indicate in the recipe or they will be overcooked and tough. They should be tender if prepared as instructed.

Scallops with Cream Garlic Veg Sauce – serves 4

1 spaghetti squash, baked or slow cooked

1 pound scallops (omit if you want to make it vegan)

Salt

Olive oil

2 heads broccoli, chopped (including stalks)

2 small – medium zucchini, chopped

3 garlic cloves

1 cup chopped parsley

1 avocado chopped

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Place scallops on a plate or platter and season both sides with salt. Set aside and let them come to room temperature. Bring a medium pot of water to boil and salt (1-2 tablespoons). Add broccoli for 4-5 minutes. Drain and set aside. Add zucchini, garlic, parsley, avocado, lemon juice, salt to taste, and 3-4 tablespoons olive oil to a blender or food processor. Blend/process well, adding more olive oil a little at a time if needed. Set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. Carefully add the scallops. Once they are all in let them go for a minute then start turning them starting with the first one you put in. Let it go another minute when you are done turning then remove them from heat. Cut open your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, then use a fork to pull the strands off the skin. To serve, add spaghetti squash to a plate or bowl, top with the sauce then the scallops, and arrange broccoli around the edge. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.

Spiced Apple Pancakes

Spiced Apple Pancakes

Spiced Apple Pancakes

What better way to celebrate my birthday than to share pancakes with you. An awesome Debi-friendly cake would be nice, but pancakes are always better!

I have made a habit of taking my birthday off from work and doing things for myself that I normally neglect. Pancakes for breakfast, massage, movie, shopping, or whatever else I haven’t done and I feel the need to do. Pancakes for breakfast are a definite must on my birthday. Last year, I did something pancake-like and experimented with Jonathan’s (The Canary FIles) gluten-free, vegan crepes. It was part Adopt A Gluten-Free Blogger, part spoil myself. They were awesome. I need to make them again, but I want pancakes. I might make these again for my birthday since I have restocked our fruit bin with organic apples. Or I might just experiment with pancakes I have in my head.

Besides, if I make pancakes for breakfast I won’t be sad if I don’t have dessert at dinner.

These pancakes are spiced with garam masala. If you don’t have it, you might be able to find a recipe online and make it from some ground spices if you have them in your pantry. I don’t peel the apples for the pancakes. The apples in the pancake and the topping have the skin on. Just make sure you wash them well to get the wax off. Also, letting the batter sit will help it thicken. You can use it right away, but you’ll have super thin pancakes to start with and you will have to wait for the pancake to look completely dry before flipping them. You’ll have a pan full of disaster if thin pancakes aren’t dry.

Spiced Apple Pancakes – makes about 8 pancakes

2/3 cup teff flour

1/3 cup tapioca flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dairy-free milk

1/3 cup pure maple syrup (Grade B)

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 apple, grated

Topping:

1 apple, chopped

1 tablespoon soy-free Earth Balanace

1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon garam masala

pinch salt

In a small mixing bowl, combine teff, tapioca, garam masala, baking soda, and salt. Mix well. In another small mixing bowl, whisk together milk, maple syrup, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix well. Add grated apple and mix well. Set aside for about 10 minutes, at least. Heat pan/griddle over medium heat. Coat pan with oil or fat of your choice. Drop by 1/4 cups. Flip once the pancakes have bubbled and the edges are dry. (See above for instructions on what to do if your pancakes are thin). Heat a small pan over medium heat. Add Earth Balance and let it melt. Stir in maple syrup, garam masala, and salt. Add apples and cook until tender. To serve, top your pancakes with the apple topping then drizzle with pure maple syrup.

Are You Living With Chronic Pain/Illness Or Letting Life Pass You By?

SnowI was never allowed to slide on chores when I was living with my parents. It didn’t matter if I had a migraine, my elbow was fractured and my arm and hand was in a cast, sprained my ankle and kept re-spraining it, or my torqued pelvis was causing excruciating back pain. One year I was sick the last week of school before Christmas break. Instead of being in bed resting like I should’ve been, I was wrapping my siblings’ Christmas presents. Chores still had to get done or there were consequences. Laying around being sick whether short-term or long-term or being in chronic pain was not an option and it is one that carried into adulthood.

There were times I was sick in college (with the flu) when I would be in bed chastising myself for not being up and doing laundry. Or studying. Or writing a paper. Or in class taking notes that I would need for the mid-term/final. It took a long time to train myself to allow myself to rest when it came to short-term illnesses.

Living with chronic and illness and pain is different. You might be able to get away with lots of rest in the beginning. But life doesn’t stop just because you have an illness/pain that won’t go away.

I still had to get homework done despite the migraines. I still had to cook despite the back pain. I still had to work when the migraines became daily. I still had to do laundry when I was fatigued every day and could barely lift a t-shirt to fold it. I was still dragging myself to work and cooking dinner every night as difficult as it was to move right before and after my Hypothyroid diagnosis.

When you live alone you don’t have a choice but learn how to navigate your world while in pain/ill. No one is going to cook for you or clean your house, unless you pay them. I barely had enough to pay the rent, feed myself, and pay tuition as a college student. Chaz certainly wasn’t going to work his full-time job and come home to do everything the multiple times I’ve battled with chronic illness and pain. He did a fair amount to help out, especially when fatigue took over and going grocery shopping was too much for me. Nothing like feeling like you’re going to collapse in the middle of the store or halfway up the stairs to your apartment.

Everyone figures out how to function with their limits in their own way. I shared an office for years. When I left the job I was sharing it with five other people. Throughout the course of that position I had three different offices with my various co-workers. First it was three of us with modular furniture in a tiny room. Then it was the basement of a house. I was able to eventually move my desk into an area of the basement with a separate light switch and I was able to keep the light off if a migraine was plaguing me.  Last was the office with six of us total, no separate areas and no modular walls separating us. I had to learn quickly how to tune five chattering people out when my head was throbbing. And when I had multiple things due and couldn’t be distracted.

I was counting spoons before I knew what spoons were. I would wake and assess how I felt and how my body felt. Does everything feel heavy and fuzzy? Yes. Today will be shower and cook dinner only. No. Let’s start with shower and see how we feel after that. My spoon counting went into overdrive when plantar fasciitis decided to join my party while I was working for a big box store. I had to menu plan based on my work schedule. Which meant I had to assess how long was I going to be on my feet before coming home to take care of my feet before standing on them again to make dinner. Yes, taking care of my feet. Inflammation doesn’t go down easily and it doesn’t help when  your feet feel like you’ve been doing nothing but walking on hot coals. Then inflammation went into overdrive before my adrenal fatigue diagnosis. I knew something was wrong when old injuries came back to haunt me. I was waking up in the middle of the night in pain and unable to go back to sleep. This was when my self-preservation kicked in and the need to get myself better took precedence. I cut back on my hours at work and scaled down my availability.

I never really know if I’m fatigued some days because of adrenal fatigue, Sjogren’s, reaction to water (yes, still battling the water demon), or reaction to something else I ate or in my environment. I know when the fatigue hits I need to dial it down and only do the minimum for the day.  I know on the good days I need to stop myself from doing too much so I don’t end up having an adrenal crash. I hold back even if I feel I have the energy to do more because I can easily overdo it. It doesn’t sound so bad, but when it takes at least a week to recover from a crash, you realize that is a week of productivity lost that could’ve been prevented.

Lying in your bed day after day does nothing unless you are on your deathbed or pregnant on doctor ordered bed rest. Long-term diagnosis whether you know the root cause of your illness or not is more than a sign to get it together. It’s a kick in the ass to make sure you’re already in the process of getting it together and figuring out how you will navigate your new world with your limits. I felt like I was giving up on life for those months when I was crawling into bed as soon as I got home from work then dragging myself out of it to fix dinner. You can’t truly live life from a bed when self-pity is your bedfellow.

People depend you to be able to function at some level at work and at home. If you are married or living with someone, they can’t work, take care of the house, and take care of you without some detriment to their own health. If you have kids, they depend on Mommy or Daddy being present to meet their needs. Shutting them out is not an option. Most of us continue to work and those we work with/for depend on us to continue to produce the work we are paid to do. Many employers will provide accommodations for employees when possible. Bottom line is that you are expected to do your job and in many cases, someone else’s job depends on your output. Adaptation is your best friend in the world of chronic pain/illness and your support system is there to help you along the way. You have to help yourself first and decide to start living again.

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside of us while we live.” ~Norman Cousins