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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

Schererville, IN

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September 24, 2020

Pumpkins, Apples, and Pears, Oh My

Welcome to fall and an abundance of pumpkins, apples, and pears. These are just a few favorites that enjoy a big debut this time of year. The Great Pu

September 17, 2020

Creating Space…in Your Refrigerator, Freezer, Life

Lately I’ve noticed that I have the need for more space—physically, mentally, digitally, and when it comes to my schedule. And no, I do not want a

September 10, 2020

Standing in the Doorway of September

We’re standing in the doorway of September. Summer days still linger, yet autumn is inching its way into our lives—and wardrobes. It’s one more

September 3, 2020

Sometimes I Eat My Feelings

Yes, you read that correctly. Sometimes I eat my feelings. How about you? We feel sad, so we eat food that soothes us. We feel like celebrating, so we

September 2, 2020

Carob Brownies

(This recipe first appeared in the August 2020 issue of Get Healthy, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times.) Ingredients:  1/2 cup all-purpos

September 1, 2020

High-fiber, low-fat legume adds the flavor without the drawbacks of chocolate

(The following article first appeared in the August 2020 issue of Get Healthy, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times.) Online version Most pe

August 27, 2020

Are You Ready?

Are You Ready? Or are you waiting for the perfect time to…                             …learn a new skill? …write the book? …ea

August 25, 2020

Gluten Free Pie Crust

This recipe yields two 9-inch pie crusts. 2 cups Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Blend (Namaste and King Arthur are brands I’ve used)  1/2 teaspo

August 20, 2020

It’s Tomato Time

As I was caring for my tomato plants, I had the memory of my father teaching me about cutting off the suckers–those shoots that show up between

August 13, 2020

Enjoy a Bit of Sabbath Today

Today, take some time to lighten things up a bit and do something you really enjoy—for about an hour. Warning: this may take some discipline. Monks

What I Made With The Beans

Less than two weeks out from Christmas, and I have yet to buy any presents. My priority was figuring out how to use those beans.

If you recall from last week’s blog, I had a few unruly items running amuck in my pantry that were barely out of date for best flavor and taste. Two cans of beans–Garbanzos and Great Northern–were on the list.

Should you happen to discover cans of beans hiding somewhere in your kitchen, here are some ideas for you, along with a recipe for Tuscan White Bean Salad. This is a copycat recipe from Houlihan’s that I found on Pub Chain Restaurant Copycat Recipes. If you are looking for a favorite recipe to recreate, this is a good site to check out.

That being said, I changed the copycat recipe to suit my tastes. I encourage you to do the same. Nothing really bad will happen when you stray from the original recipe a little. For example, if you don’t have a red onion, use whatever onion you have, or a few sprinkles of onion powder. The red onion looks pretty and has a little different flavor than other varieties, which is why it works well. Oh, and Mr. Non-Compliant missed out on this dish, which I’m sure will make him very sad.

Other ideas for the beans:

*Add to any soup you make. Extra protein and fiber are a good thing. (It’s a good idea to drain and rinse canned beans to get rid of the excess starch, sodium and any metallic taste that may come from the can.)

*Make hummus by mixing a can of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed) in a food processor or blender with ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 clove crushed garlic, 1 tsp. ground cumin, ½ tsp. salt. Add a tablespoonful or two of water if needed to make it the right consistency. Blend until smooth. Adjust seasonings to your taste.

*Make white bean and chicken chili for a change from traditional.

*There are LOTS of recipes for beans. I’m stopping with the salad recipe so I can go buy some presents!

Tuscan White Bean Salad

1 can Great Northern or Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tomatoes, diced
2 cups salad greens
½ red onion, diced
¼ cup feta or goat cheese, crumbled

Place ingredients in a bowl and toss with the dressing.

Balsamic and Olive Oil Dressing

Whisk together:
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/8 tsp. salt
pinch of sugar

Once dressing is blended, add to the salad and lightly toss. Serve with your favorite crackers or toasted, crusty bread. Perfect as a light lunch or dinner.

This simple salad would be a nice addition to a holiday buffet, since it offers some nutritional value, which is often missing from those amazing Christmas cookies!

Pantry Surprises and Crab Cakes

As I was rearranging my pantry the other day, my discoveries made me laugh. It also gave me fun content for another blog.

Earlier this year I cleaned out the pantry. At that time I tossed out an interesting variety of foods that were SO OLD, there wasn’t even a “Best if used by_______” disclaimer stamped on them. YIKES! How could I be so negligent? What in the world am I thinking when I shop?

Always more questions than answers in life.

Back to present day: I decided to take my latest discoveries that were on the verge of the “Best” date and see what I could make. Here’s what I pulled out of my what-I-thought-was-organized pantry:

*A partial box of Prince Jumbo Shells–the kind you stuff with ricotta cheese, and since my boys who are now well into their twenties are allergic to dairy, I quit stuffing them long, long ago. Only God knows how many years those shells were in my house. In the garbage they went with no regrets.

*Several boxes of Organic Chicken Stock—still in date, barely. I buy a case at a time and since it was just summer, I didn’t make much soup. No big embarrassment here.    

*One can of Bush’s Best Garbanzo beans and one can of Great Northern beans. Mr. Non-Compliant is not a bean fan. Once in a while I sneak a can into a recipe that calls for two or three cans. I better practice my sneaky skills, since these are dated October 2017.

*Three cans of Bumble Bee Crabmeat. I recall I was going to make crab cakes and somebody didn’t feel like having those for dinner. Ever. Date: November 2017. Now I have to figure out something with crab and beans.

*Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix. This was about the only mix I’d buy, since it is not full of a thousand ingredients and this particular one was dairy free. Note the word was. The new recipe contains dairy, along with many of their other brownie formulas and chocolate chips, so this box is a collector’s item. Guess what Santa will find on his special Santa treat plate this Christmas Eve?

*A jar of maraschino cherries and a jar of strawberry preserves. I don’t think they ever go bad.

In order to regain my reputation for using food on hand, I got right down to business and made crab cakes. They are easy and tasty. “Somebody” simply didn’t get a choice about what was for dinner that evening. The beans are going to be a surprise another time.

Crab Cakes

3 cans of crabmeat, drained (6 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. bread crumbs or rice cracker crumbs (I made rice cracker
crumbs by finely crushing some crackers I had on hand.)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley or about 2 tsp. dried
1 egg
1 ½ Tbsp. mayonnaise
½ tsp. ground dry mustard
¼ tsp. paprika
Dash of hot pepper sauce or St. Elmo Cocktail Sauce (found this in the fridge and it was perfect!)

Mix together the crabmeat, bread or cracker crumbs, salt, pepper, and parsley. Whisk together the egg, mayonnaise, dry mustard, paprika and hot sauce. Add to the crab mixture and mix well. Make into patties of uniform size. Place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. This keeps them from falling apart so easily since they have a chance to set. Broil for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned, turning halfway through.

Serve on a bed of lettuce or bun. This recipe made 6 patties and two of us ate them all as a dinner with sides. These would make a nice appetizer or light lunch.

Broiled Crab Cakes

3 cans of crabmeat, drained (6 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. bread crumbs or rice cracker crumbs (I made rice cracker crumbs by finely
crushing some crackers I had on hand.)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley or about 2 tsp. dried
1 egg
1 ½ Tbsp. mayonnaise
½ tsp. ground dry mustard
¼ tsp. paprika
Dash of hot pepper sauce or St. Elmo Cocktail Sauce (found this in the fridge and it was perfect!)

Mix together the crabmeat, bread or cracker crumbs, salt, pepper, and parsley. Whisk together the egg, mayonnaise, dry mustard, paprika and hot sauce. Add to the crab mixture and mix well. Make into patties of uniform size. Place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. This keeps them from falling apart so easily since they have a chance to set. Broil for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned, turning halfway through.

Serve on a bed of lettuce or bun. This recipe made 6 patties and two of us ate them all as a dinner with sides. These would make a nice appetizer or light lunch.

 

Embrace Imperfection

Wait, what? Embrace imperfection? Yes, you read that correctly. Today, we are going to consider doing some things imperfectly, rather than not doing them at all.

It is about now that the seasonal roller coaster ride begins. It lets up, oh, sometime in February—or July. What often accompanies this roller coaster ride (also known as “real life”) is what one of my mentors, Dr. John Berardi, refers to as “pause-button mentality.”

Examples of this phenomenon go something like this:

*”With all the parties in December, I may as well wait until January to start my health and fitness program. It will be one of my resolutions.”

*”I’ll go to the gym once my job settles down, the kids finish their __________ season, and I get my mom moved into her condo.”

*”It will be easier to eat better meals once the holidays are over. With all the baking, card writing, shopping and decorating, I have NO time.”

*”I was going to start eating more vegetables this week, until I remembered it’s my Birth Month. So many of my friends like to take me to lunch, I can’t possibly consider doing such a crazy thing until NEXT month!” (I’ve used this one before…can you believe it?)

Do any of these stories sound familiar? Okay, perhaps they aren’t exact—you get the picture. For the record: I am guilty of playing the pause-button game. Also for the record: It doesn’t work very well.

We all like to start over, begin again, and erase the slate clean. So do I. The problem: Hitting the pause button delays us living our life and playing full out.

Say your “ideal” routine includes nicely balanced meals every evening, your favorite workouts 5 days a week, quiet prayer/meditative time daily, 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and a good dose of family and social time mixed in with work. Perfect!

We all know that what we plan in life and what happens are usually not the same. We have to take the good stuff along with the not-so-good stuff.

Short term, we can stick with a regimented plan, which is why there are lots of 30-day programs. Life may allow us to get away with a fairly “perfect” 30 days. Then what?

Here’s an alternative to hoping for perfect. Always do something. Pausing the button on various aspects of our life when things get out of whack only leads to regret, and sometimes a more difficult road in the future.

If you are unable to get in your typical workouts, take a 10-minute walk at some point in your day. It will bring mental and physical benefits. Can you get to the gym at least twice a week instead of five? Stay for thirty minutes instead of an hour?

So you can’t get in your wonderfully balanced meals every evening, eat a salad once a day and do the best you can. If you must resort to drive-thru, skip the soda and fries. Practice doing just a little bit better. A little bit better is awesome!

And all those holiday parties? Choose a few of the “healthier” options, drink lots of water, and go for those decadent treats only when they are AMAZING!

Living your best life is not about having lots of willpower, or constantly denying yourself the fun of parties, friends and great food. This game is about developing the skills to hang in there and do what you can, even when you really want to pause. It’s knowing that life is always going to happen, no matter how well you plan.

Plan to embrace the imperfection of doing something. Always.

“Fitness in the context of real human life is just like the rest of life. We’re all just doing the best we can in challenging, complicated circumstances. We are all living messy, imperfect lives. We are all human. If we can just keep moving forward, no matter what happens, no pause buttons, no do-overs, we win the game.”—Dr. John Berardi