Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Beach Stroll in St Maarten

Wordless Wednesday
We visited St Maarten . We were on the French side which has been repaired from much of the storm damage. The Dutch quarter was still devastated with roof's caved in and small airplanes turned over or crashed into walls- the effects of Irma were evident more so on the Dutch side.  

The Beach on the French side was beautiful and the local restaurants offered beach chairs, umbrella, bathroom, locker and shower, free Wifi and anywhere from 4-6 beers of drinks for just $20 -- 

Local beer and liquor was plentiful and cheap! 

Many local women walked the beach offering hair braiding, massages, and souvenirs. 

Roman Catholic Church on the Beach 

Smallest McDonald's I've ever seen
My husband posing at the port

Some of the restaurants served Creole Food= 
Try my Creole Red Beans and Rice ( gluten free and vegan) 

Will be shared on shared on Beth Fish Reads Wordless Wednesday  
Wordless Wed on Tuesdays wordless on tuesday http://thesimpleyear.com/, 
ClaireJustine linky 
West Metro Mommy  

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Blender Mashed Cauliflower - A Low Carb Comfort Food

delicious mashed blender cauliflower

Do you love creamy whipped mashed potatoes but want to avoid the carbs?
Then you will love this amazing mashed cauliflower recipe.

Enjoy your favorite type of comfort food without the carbs in this easy to make recipe that of course is gluten free!

Mashed cauliflower has been around for a long time, but this version is the easiest and creamiest way to make this old favorite because it's made in the blender.

Cut up chunks of cauliflower

I simply cut up and steamed a cauliflower ( or use frozen cauliflower and steam it), place in the blender As an option I added a little cream cheese and grated cheese , but the vegan version tastes great as well. 

Vegan Version

If you prefer a dressed up vegan version, you can use coconut milk and some non dairy butter substitute to give it a more buttery taste.

Either way , whipped mashed cauliflower  makes a wonderful side that is nutritious, low carb, and appealing to kids and adults alike.

Everyone seems to have a special diet - this is very adaptable. I recently attended  a dinner party where the host served a double recipe of this wonderful side dish. Of the ten that attended, 3 had special needs diets. I was gluten free, the host was on a low carb diet, and another guest was nut free. This recipe met everyone's needs. There was not a drop left over.

instant pot set at 2

Instant Pot Version 

I love using my instant pot to steam vegetables because it's fast and easy and there is no mess.
Simply cut up your raw cauliflower into chunks, place in the Instant Pot and add 1 cup of water.
Turn the steamer knob away from you and set the manual button or pressure cook button for 2 minutes. As soon as it stops cooking, release the steam by turning the steamer knob toward you ( follow the directions in your Instant Pot manual) . When all steam is released, open the lid and drain the cauliflower well.  Mash by hand with an immersion blender until creamy.

mashed cauliflower

Why Cauliflower Is So Healthy?

1. It is a cruciferous vegetable which means it contains antioxidants and nutrients that may help protect against certain types of cancers.
2. Low in calories
3. Low in fat
4. Low in carbs
5. High in fiber

I like to include as many vegetables into my diet as possible, and I look for a variety of ways to eat them . Mashed cauliflower is one of my favorites.

I use cauliflower as a base in a variety of low carb recipes. Cauliflower is a perfect base for gluten free pizza, low carb and gluten free bread sticks,  See my Pinterest page for low carb cauliflower substitute recipes for my best cauliflower substitute recipes - they taste amazing.


1 large head of cauliflower, cut into chunks
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional Vegan: 1/4 cup of full fat coconut milk
Optional:  2 tablespoons of cream cheese and or 1/2 cup of shredded cheese


Steam your cauliflower and drain ( in a steamer basket or in your Instant Pot) . Place the cauliflower, garlic, salt, pepper and optional ingredients into a blender. Blend until creamy. If you added shredded cheese , you could bake for 5 minutes on 350 degrees in a pre-heated oven or toaster oven.

Shared on my blog carnival list and also on Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking where anyone can share a food related post.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Art Deco In South Beach

Wordless Wednesday - Art Deco Neighborhood Hotel area  in South Beach

I love the Art Deco Neighborhood in South Beach, Florida. We recently visited the National Hotel  at 1677 Collins Ave on the beach! The charming hotel boasted a lovely indoor  restaurant and an outdoor beach restaurant ( the Aqua Club) t that served any sandwich on a delicious gluten free roll (Aqua Club menu) I ate the grilled veggie sandwich and was not disappointed.

The hotel itself was charming with it's celebrity theme.

This is a large bean bag type chair 

The pools, the cabanas, and set was outstanding. They do have the original older building but I would stay in the one of the newer poolside rooms. They have yoga classes on site and nightly entertainment.

The elevator in the lobby 
My plate at the Beach Restaurant

 Nearby Hotel James

Nearby Hotel James

Nearby Hotel 
shared at Beth Fish Reads Wordless Wednesday
Disclaimer: This is not a paid review-Just sharing my adventures

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Roasted Fennel, Shallot, and String Bean Salad

Roasted vegetable salad

Roasted Fennel , shallot and string bean salad is one of my favorite warm salads to serve to company. It is flavorful, kind of exotic, and makes a lovely presentation. 

It is perfect for your gluten free guest, your vegan guest, your nut free guest or your dairy free guest. Now a days, its seems like everyone has eating restrictions, and we need to find healthy tasty recipes that work for everyone.

Add caption

Have you ever made fennel?
It's a flavorful vegetable that tastes somewhat like licorice when it is raw but mellows into a completely mild taste when it is cooked. Although I enjoy adding it raw to my salads and crudites platters, my favorite way to make this interesting vegetable is to roast it.

fennel bulbs

Roasting seems to bring out the sweetness and flavor of most vegetables. It is especially true with the fennel and shallots in this recipe.

There is a short learning curve to working with fennel. It's an odd looking large wide bulb of a vegetable that you need to understand how to peel, cut and prepare. I've included a helpful You Tube video at the bottom of this post on how to cut a fennel bulb.

Being low in calories and rich in nutrients and flavor, fennel is a dieter's friend.

roasted vegetable salad

5 Healthy Facts About Raw Fennel 

1. Excellent source of Vitamin C
2. High in Potassium ( helpful for high blood pressure)
3. Rich in antioxidants and provides anti inflammatory properties
4. High in fiber ( we all need more fiber)
5. Low in calories ( 27 calories per cup raw) adds variety to salads

5 Ways To Eat Fennel: 

1.) Peel, cut and add it to any salad ( like celery)
2.) Prepare and cut like sticks for a crudites platter with other vegetables and dip
3.)  Add to soup- my friend swears it is her secret ingredient in her chicken soup
4.)  Roast on a cookie sheet tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper
5.)  Make my Roasted Fennel, Shallot, and  String Bean Salad ( Recipe below)

Warm Fennel, Shallot and String bean Salad

2 fennel bulbs, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces ( like the size of your thumb finger)
1 pound of shallots, cut in half lengthwise from the root end
1 pound of string beans ( I used Haricot thin beans) , washed and trimmed if needed
1 red pepper cut in strips ( optional)
1/4 cup of olive oil
Himalayan Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
Optional when assembling : 1/2 cup chopped red onion, chopped Kalamata Olives, 


Pre heat oven to 425 degrees
Mix the shallots and fennel in a large mixing bowl with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 
Spread the mixed vegetables on 2 parchment lined cookie sheets and bake for about 30-35 minutes until they begin to look caramelized. While the vegetables are roasting in the oven, prepare to steam the string beans. Place a small steamer basket into a a 2 quart saucepan with enough water to cover the steamer basket. Bring to a boil, throw in the string beans, cover, and steam for 2 minutes. Remove string beans and place immediately into cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside. When the fennel and shallots are done allow them to cool for 5 minutes and then mix them with the drained beans. Add chopped red onion and sliced Kalamata olives if desired.

Fennel is a great way to add some variety to your choice of vegetables. 

This YOUTUBE VIDEO was really helpful: 

How to peel and cut fennel You tube

How to you make fennel? 
Please share thoughts or additional ideas in the comments!!

Linking to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking where anyone can share a food related post. This week Beth review the Netflix series called Rotten which explores the many problems in our food industry,. 

This post is also linked to Souper Sunday where anyone can share a soup, salad, or sammie recipe. Check out this week's recipes.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Inexpensive Self Care Ideas for 2018

Beautiful relaxing massage

This year I gave myself a very special birthday gift- Self Care!
 I decided to get,  a massage, but if you look below I've listed 13  inexpensive ways you can indulge in self care to relax, rejuvenate, nourish and de-stress for pennies in your own home with simple food additions, simple increase in movement, and some relaxation reminders.

Beautiful spa table settings

My birthday was in December and we were in the Miami area. I found a wonderful Groupon for a spa on the beach. 

My package included a 50 minute massage, a fabulous facial, lunch of my choice from the restaurant menu, a glass of champagne or lemon infused water, free beach parking and a water front private Tiki hut for two for the day.
lovely beach scenery

By the end of the day , I felt rejuvenated, relaxed, and inspired. It was a wonderful birthday gift that I gave to myself- Self Care is so important!

You don't have to wait for your birthday to do something special for yourself. There are lots of small things you can do for yourself that are inexpensive and can be enjoyed in your own home. 

Self care is important and only we can give it to ourselves. 
You don't have to go to a spa to pamper yourself. 

white bathtub with spa feeling

13 Inexpensive Self Care Ideas for 2018

  1. Take an Epsom Salt Bath- Epsom salts are rich in magnesium which help relax muscles and Epsom salts also help release toxins- so take 10 or 15 minutes to enjoy an Epsom salt bath. Add essential oils to your Epsom salts to add relaxing fragrance and enhance your experience.
  2. Drink Lemon Water Daily Upon Waking- Lemon water helps you detox. Start with a glass each morning when you wake up- How? Simply bring a cup of water to a boil, pour into a tea cup and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon or lime ( or to taste) . Add a little honey if you need it or drink plain. 
  3. Stop Whatever You Are Doing for 5 minutes ! Dance and Sing Out Loud to Music- Take 5 -10 minutes to put on your favorite up beat song and stop everything and dance and or sing. The movement will help release stress and the music will help release emotional tension. Sing along, dance, and release. 
  4. Play Classical Music While You Work- Before I retired, I used to teach in a high school. One of the secretaries played classical music in her office all day. Whenever I walked into her office, my entire body relaxed. The classical music can have a profound effect on our mood and tension. So next time you are feeling stressed and have a lot to do , listen to some classical music  in the background!
  5. Walk Each Day- Exercise is essential to good health. If you can't do anything else make sure that you walk each day. If you can't walk outside, go to the mall. Many malls open at 7 am for walkers. If you can't go to the mall, walk in your apartment building hallways or walk in your home. Even walking in place will help. Can't do a half hour? Do 5 minutes a few times a day. Just get yourself moving- no excuses. Find music that you love to accompany you on your walk or just bond with nature.
  6. Watch a Short Inspirational You Tube Video-This is one of my favorite ways to explore new ideas for self care. You Tube contains a great variety of videos ranging from meditations, yoga, inspirational talks , music, etc. When you need to de-stress, want inspiration, or just need ideas on how to - like how to massage your scalp, look for a You Tube video- costs you nothing and gives you so much. 
  7. Massage Your Scalp- This is another way to de-stress and indulge in self care. Give yourself a 5 minutes scalp massage- use coconut oil if your hair and scalp are dry- put on soft music and decompress. 
  8. Eat Soaked Almonds to Help Alkalize Your Body- I learned this many years ago from an Ayurvdic doctor and healer. Almonds are very alkalizing . For good health, we need to keep our body ph in balance. It is important to soak the almonds overnight and peel off the skin in the morning . I always ate them first thing in the morning after my glass of hot lemon water.See  How to soak and eat almonds.
  9. Skin Brushing-Skin brushing is a great way to help your circulation and brush away dead skin. You can do it before your shower! - 
  10. Have a Morning Routine-I find the best way to take care of yourself is to develop a morning routine. I am retired and without structure the day just passes by. Each morning, I take a one hour walk, followed by my lemon water, skin brushing, shower and then my soaked almonds.  When I used to teach, I always got up early to walk ! It just made me feel better all day..In addition, I belonged to a gym and exercised 4 days a week. A routine helps because there is nothing to think about, you just do it!
  11. Light a Non Toxic Candle- candles can set the mood to help you relax- 
  12. Make a Sunshine Smoothie or Fresh Vegetable Juice- fruits and vegetables are loaded with important and valuable antioxidants that help your body fight off free radicals that help prevent aging and disease. Use a Vitamix or a juicer. 
  13. Soak Your Feet - fill a bucket with warm water, add some Epsom salts mixed with a drop of essential oil of your choice, put on some some music and soak for 5 minutes. This will help you relax and help draw some toxins out of your feet. 
Healthy fruit smoothies

What is Your Self Care Routine ? 
Which of these ideas appeal to you? Which idea would your do? 

             If you soak almonds overnight,  the skin will pop off in the morning- almonds are very alkalizing - soaking them helps with digestion and absorption as with all seeds and nuts.

My mother in law is now 92 and she is a firm believer in simple daily self care- she still is vibrant, active, and involved at 92!! 

I'm sharing this post on Beth Fish Reads where anyone can share a food related post .

                Happy 2018- Take Care of Yourself