MarocMama

eat well, travel often, dream big!

Update: Our Move to Marrakech

It has been so great to have many blogging friends offer guest posts for me during the last 10+ days (and there’s more coming this week!) It has given me time to spend settling into our new home, unpacking, and buying things to set up our new home. MarocBaba and I joked with his sisters that it was like we were getting married again..but 10 years later! While we had a wedding party, we never set up a home here so the traditional process of buying things for a new home never happened. It hasn’t quite been a a week yet and so I’m hesitant to offer too many reflections because I think they may be a bit tainted. So many people said they wanted to know everything I would share about our experience and it’s important to me that I try to provide the most honest glimpse into everything.

firstweekinmarrakech

1) I don’t think we realized the extent to which things would need to be purchased when we got here. I would have budgeted a lot more in this department if I would have known. Homes and apartments in Morocco are largely unfurnished. I think that here and in the US that has two different meanings. Here unfurnished means there are not even cupboards, no appliances, nothing.  It’s essentially walls and a ceiling. My in-laws had a bed and matress for MarocBaba and me and for the boys. We’ve had to purchase everything to set up a living room, kitchen, and most importantly fans.  Cooling devices are a must in Marrakech. We have several totes of household goods coming.  We thought they would be here mid-September but it looks like we’ll be lucky to get them in October. I’ve tried to be judicious with what I’ve been buying, knowing that I have my things coming soon but have had to buy a lot.

2) In most large cities public transportation is readily available and accessible.  Where we live we’ve realized we need to have a car.  We had hoped to put off this purchase until the kids got to school, but it’s going to need to be sooner rather than later. It’s not really possible to buy a used car here on credit – cash only, and finding automatics is like finding the holy grail.  I can drive a manual however MarocBaba can’t.  Judging by the traffic here, we both would prefer to have an automatic. A car will also make traveling around Morocco and to Europe easier.

3) 10 years ago Morocco was a cheap destination.  Today not the case. I haven’t been able to really figure out yet how much it will cost us week to week here, because of all the big purchases that have needed to happen. Food remains relatively inexpensive. For example 1 kg of tomatoes here is about $0.75 – in the US I would be paying close to $6 for the equivalent. We bought several bags of fruit and vegetables for under $10, or about 1/6 the price we pay in the US.

4) A lot of people have asked me how it is and expressed how lucky we are to be living here.  I have thought about this almost every day since arriving. Truth be told we’ve found Marrakech not to be the glistening gem many people imagine or we’ve experienced in the past. There are a lot more people (than even 2 years ago), more garbage, more cars, more of everything.  (note: I also may be just a tiny bit disgruntled by the oppressive heat.)The real Marrakech is not what you see a’la Sex in the City.  There are many resorts and tourist spots that ARE that vision of Marrakech. Living here is not like living that life. Well maybe there are some people that live that way but unless you’re wealthy you’re not going to.

5) It’s boring.  Let me just put this out here. We’ve been here a week, and at home I’m very used to working, school with the kids, family events, going places, etc. From what I’ve seen so far my sister in laws lives are in the house.  They clean multiple times a day, top to bottom.  They cook big meals, they nap. Sometimes they go out. I don’t think this is due to any cultural taboo of being required to stay home, it’s just how their lives are. I don’t see myself ever doing that or being content in that kind of life. Just like I wouldn’t be happy working 60 hours a week and never seeing my kids. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just different.

6) I need to speak Arabic – like yesterday.

7) Kids are amazing. I was worried my kids would stick to themselves and be overwhelmed by the language issue. No way! They were playing from the second we got here. They already have mastered going to the hanut (corner shop) to got simple things. They are willing to try saying things even if they aren’t sure what they are saying.  They find a way to play even when they can’t share a conversation. Most of all they find a way to have fun even when everything around them is different.

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Sweet Chicken Tajine from Curious Cuisiniere

Today I’m welcoming guest blogger, and fellow Wisconsinite Sarah of Curious Cuisiniere, who cooks, photographs, and writes the recipes that appear on her blog, while her husband (like mine!) gets to weigh in on taste.  This was their first time trying Moroccan food and I’m so happy to find out they loved it! Truly, one of the greatest joys that has come from blogging is introducing the food I love to new people. I hope you enjoy their experience and recipe! 

Sweet Chicken Tajine from Curious Cuisiniere

I’m so excited to be here guest posting for Amanda today!

Now, I have to be honest here, Moroccan food isn’t a realm we’ve ventured into before. I owe a lot of thanks to Amanda for giving us this opportunity to try something very new and for her support as we were putting together the recipe for today. We really enjoyed leaning about Moroccan food in the process. And, now that we have had a taste, we will definitely be trying more Moroccan dishes in the future!

I will admit that I was a bit intrigued by the prospect of combining the acidity of tomatoes with the sweetness of honey and raisins, but the tomatoes mellowed out beautifully and their sweetness really came through.

Just to round things out, we made some of Amanda’s Khobz to eat with the meal. The chewy flatbread and the deeply spiced flavors of the tajine really made us wonder why we hadn’t discovered Moroccan food sooner!

Sweet Chicken Tajine from Curious Cuisiniere

6

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 lb chicken thighs, bone in, with skin removed
  • 1 Tbsp parsley
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/3 c raisins
  • 2 c cooked chickpeas

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a Dutch oven, over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until soft.
  • Push onions to the side and add meat, searing on all sides.
  • Add spices and remaining ingredients in the order listed.
  • Cover and cook over low heat for 40 min.
  • Remove lid and check to be sure there is enough, but not too much liquid. There should be just enough liquid to keep the ingredients moist, but not so much that you find yourself with a soup.
  • For too much liquid, simmer 10-20 min uncovered.
  • For not enough liquid, add water ¼ c at a time and simmer, covered, for an additional 10-20 min.
  • Remove from heat and serve hot.
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http://marocmama.com/2013/08/sweet-chicken-tajine-from-curious-cuisiniere.html

You can follow Curious Cuisiniere on her website, Facebook, Pinterest and on Twitter too. Keep watching as I share more great guest posts.  Today we’re likely to be settling into our new home in Morocco and if we don’t have an internet connection yet, you can rest assured I’m running around Marrakech trying to get things hooked up!

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{Guest Post} Rose Petal Jam from Olga of Jardin Majorelle

I’ve been wanting to write a post about roses and their connection to Morocco for a long time. It’s filed in my “things to write about” file (well I did write this piece about Morocco’s rose festival). It might be blaise, but I do love roses.  I was reminded of that a few weeks ago when my sister gave me a big bouquet of pink roses for Eid.  I’ve loved having them sitting on my table – every time I look at them I feel a big smile creeping across my face.  Today’s guest post is from Olga owner of Jardin Majorele Flower Design. What I would give for her to come to my house/party/event and do flower arrangements! You can find Olga and her beautiful work on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Make sure you also check out a beautiful post she wrote about creating a bouquet using mint – what a great idea!

I was always fascinated by the flower world, its beauty and mystery, secrets the flowers keep away from the humanity. We keep digging to learn and discover more every day. We use flowers in perfumery, flower arranging, healing our body and soul, in cooking. One of these flowers is a Rose – a Queen of all flowers.

Rose is very respectful among the flowers. It has three main medical properties: It is soothing, cooling, and moisturizing. The rose also offers a soothing property to the nerves and emotional/psychological state of mind, nervous tension and heart disease. Rose hips are great source of vitamins C, D, A and E. They also contain citric acid, malic acid, zinc and bioflavonoids.

Rose Petals JM

Most important is that we all can enjoy rose in cooking and there are many food products made with roses. The artisans from France started making a rose liqueur and rose-flavored sweets, biscuits, jam and honey. In Paris, you will find culinary rose essence. In Tunisia, Morocco and India, people make delicious rose syrup. You can come across rose jams and jellies in Poland and Romania.

Most roses are edible. The flavor of roses is distinct and it looks as wonderful as it tastes. Some roses are tastier than the others are. Fragrant red and pink old-fashioned such as – Damask, Old English, Baron Girod, Rugosa – are often used for the jam, as they keep their aroma and flavor during the cooking.

Rose Petal Jam

Rose petal jam is our cooking dish today

Ingredients

  • ½ pound red or dark pink rose petals. The color of the petals will be the color of the jam.
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 4 ½ cups of water

 

Preparation

  1. First thing first, we have to wash our roses properly to remove bugs, and then cut off the white bottom of each petal. Discard any petals that might appear brown.

Rose Petals

  1. Place the rose petals into a bowl and sprinkle the sugar over them to make sure that each petal is coated.  After bruise them with your fingers and cover the bowl with plastic film. Leave the bowl overnight in a cool spot – refrigerator will work.
  2. Prepare a saucepan and pour in the remaining sugar, water and lemon juice. Dissolve contents over a low heat. You may also include the seeds of the lemon, which is supposed to contribute pectin and help thicken the jam, this is optional, as some recipes do not specify their need. Your choice.
  3. Stir the rose petals into the mixture and allow to simmer 20 min. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for 5 more min until the mixture thickens. Stir the jam until a spoonful dropped onto a cold plate jells and holds its shape. However, if you have a jelly thermometer, cook and stir until the temperature reaches 221 F.

                                                                Rose Flower Liquid

Pour your jam into a clean, warmed jar and add the cover and a label. If you are not planning to eat your rose jam shortly, use proper canning procedures to make sure the jam keeps in the jar. Store it in a cool place and indulge.

Bon appetite!

JM 5

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Moroccan Kefta and Eggs Tagine

The blogging community is really amazing.  Over the past five years I have met so many wonderful people through our mutual shared interests.  When I began to prepare for our relocation, I knew that I had to make plans for my blog too, as I’m not sure how long it will be until we have an internet connection nor when our boxes (with all my kitchen things!) will arrive.  Thankfully several bloggers have come to my rescue to provide some guest posts until I am able to get back into the swing of things.  Today I am excited to welcome Pam of Blueberries and Blessings.  This was her first taste of Moroccan food and it’s one of our very favorite dishes!

A big hello from northeast Florida today! I’m Pam, from Blueberries And Blessings. I am thrilled to be posting on Maroc Mama today. Amanda and I  met through our mutual love for  #SundaySupper, and I love all of the delicious dishes she presents on her blog, and what a great chance to expand my culinary horizons by trying a new cuisine!

Now let’s talk about Kefta!

 

Kefta in Skillet

 

The Kefta are tiny lil meatballs, seasoned with a wonderful blend of cinnamon and cumin, swimming in all of this goodness. It’s a wonderful blend of flavors, fresh and delicious.

 

Kefta and Eggs Tagine
The eggs poach perfectly in the freshly made tomato sauce and make an amazing meal.

 

Eggs Tagine Yolk

 

This would be a great dish to start with if you have never made any Middle Eastern dishes, like myself. It looks incredibly impressive and is very simple to prepare. My whole family – including my 6 year old – loved it!

 

Thank you Amanda, for giving me an opportunity to try a dish I would have likely overlooked!

 

Moroccan Kefta and Eggs Tagine

Ingredients

    For the Kefta Meatballs
  • (16 oz) ground beef or lamb
  • salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • black pepper to taste
  • For the Eggs
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • handful of green pitted olives, coarsely chopped or sliced
  • 4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (OR 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper)
  • 6 large eggs

Instructions

  • Mix the ground meat with the salt, cumin, cinnamon and pepper. Shape this kefta mixture into small meatballs the size of large cherries, and set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to caramelize. Add the olives, and cook for several minutes more.
  • Add the tomatoes and seasoning and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and mashing the tomatoes as you go, until a chunky tomato sauce has formed.
  • Add the meatballs to the sauce, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring several times to turn the meatballs, until the meat is cooked through. Break a meatball to test if it's done before proceeding.
  • Pour the eggs directly over the tomato sauce and meatballs.
  • Cover the eggs and allow them to poach until done.
  • Dust the top of the cooked eggs with cumin and salt to taste, garnish with a little chopped parsley, and serve.
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http://marocmama.com/2013/08/moroccan-kefta-and-eggs-tagine.html

 

Thank you Pam for sharing this guest post with everyone! If you’re following our moving journey – we’re set to arrive in Marrakech today!  Watch for updates soon here and on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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{Guest Post} Homemade Harissa

Today is a big day for us!  It’s moving day! We will be spending nearly all day and night in planes and airports until we finally arrive in Marrakech early Wednesday morning. Today Amy of Kimchi Mom is sharing a recipe for homemade harissa. Amy is a lot like me, except she writes about cooking Korean food.  Both of our adventures in the kitchen and subsequent blogging happened around the illustrious economic collapse of 2008.  I guess there might be a silver lining in everything right? I’ve made several of Amy’s recipes for my family and introduced my husband to Korean food through her! Thank you Amy for sharing this guest post while I’m 30,000 feet up!  You can follow Amy on her blog Kimchi Mom, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Homemade Jarred Harissa

I had the fortune of meeting Amanda through #SundaySupper and immediately started following her when I learned that most of her recipes were Moroccan!  I love trying dishes that combine somewhat common (if you can get it at Whole Foods then it’s common) spices into something that is characteristic and unique to one cuisine.

I have been on a homemade hot sauce kick this year. Recently, I made homemade sriracha sauce and am developing a recipe for gluten-free kochujang (Korean red pepper paste). I have tried harissa a handful of times and figured now would be a great time to make my own. I had no idea what harissa was until I attempted a recipe for leblebi, a Tunisian breakfast soup, which also included a recipe for homemade harissa. Instead of making harissa from scratch, I picked up a jar from the market just to get an idea of what harissa actually tasted like. To my surprise, the pepper base tasted similar to the more familiar Korean pepper pastes that I use, but the additional spices added more dimension and complexity to the smoky pepper flavor. Ever since I’ve made my own harissa, I’ve been adding it to my breakfast eggs, bowls of noodles, and whatever else needs a bit of heat.

Homemade Harissa

I also like to take as many shortcuts as possible when I am short on time which seems to be always with two little kids! Instead of using whole dried peppers, and soaking and cleaning them, I dipped into my 5 pound bag of kochugaru or Korean red pepper powder. Despite the red color, it is mild in terms of heat, not unlike the harissa that I’ve tried. You can buy this powder on Amazon.com or at Hmart.com. And, yes, they do come in packages that are less than 5 pounds.

Homemade Harissa

Ingredients

  • Homemade Harissa
  • Yields about ½ cup
  • ½ cup kochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
  • Water
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil

Instructions

  • In a blender jar or food processor add the kochugaru and about ½ to ¾ cup of water and stir. You don’t want it too dry and pasty.
  • Add the garlic, cumin, and coriander. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if necessary. Puree and slowly pour the olive oil to thicken the mixture.
  • Season with salt to taste. Store in a clean jar. Pour a thin film of oil on top. Keep refrigerated and use within a few weeks.
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http://marocmama.com/2013/08/guest-post-homemade-harissa.html

Thank you so much for sharing Amy! 

Have you ever tried to make your own harissa (or other condiments)?  I’ve started doing this a lot recently and it’s not nearly as difficult as I thought!

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{Guest Post} Sayadieh Bil Samek from Heather at girlichef

Today, I’ve got another wonderful guest post from a #SundaySupper blogging friend. Heather of girlichef has graciously offered this delicious recipe! I am so thrilled that my blogging friends have stepped forward to help me out as we go through this big move. I am even more excited that many of them are cooking Moroccan and Middle Eastern food for the first time (and loving it!).  THAT really makes me smile!  I can’t wait to make this dish soon – you’ll want to make it tonight too!  Find more of Heather’s great recipes on her blog, connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest too.

Sayadieh Bil Samek (Fish Pilaf w/ Caramelized Onions) - a guest post from www.girlichef.com | www.marocmama.com

I’m thrilled to be sharing space here at MarocMama while Amanda and her family are in the middle of embarking on such a huge adventure!  Now, Amanda and I are alike in that we both married men from other (than our own) countries.  We both have bicultural households, and we both have a deep love for the food of those cultures.  Food really is the universal language, isn’t it!?

However, I’m gonna go ahead and put this out there…shout it from the hilltops… I AM SO ENVIOUS OF AMANDA!  I can only imagine the mad butterflies racing around in her stomach right now.  She is moving to Morocco!  She is immersing herself and her children in their heritage in the most hands-on way possible.  What an absolutely exhilarating and frightening chapter of life!

Sayadieh Bil Samek (Fish Pilaf w/ Caramelized Onions) - a guest post from www.girlichef.com | www.marocmama.com

I almost hate to admit that I don’t really know anything about Morocco.  I mean, the extent of my “knowledge” of Morocco stems from Casablanca, Babel, and Hideous Kinky.  Mmmm hmmm, movies.  In other words, I am looking forward to learning a bit more about things like raising a family…daily life…and especially eating there…from Amanda.  Once she settles in.

So, with all this jabbering about Morocco and my ignorance, you’d think I’d have chosen a Moroccan recipe to share today.  Uh, yeah.  That would’ve taken a moment of lucidity on my end.  And under the sweltering heat weighing me down this summer, and the clock that has been speeding by faster than a speeding bullet, I didn’t.  But tackling a few dishes of North African cuisine is on my culinary bucket list!

Instead, I chose to make something Middle Eastern.  It’s a fish and rice dish that may seem daunting at first glance due to the mile-long ingredient list.  But I promise, if you take away the ingredients that can be found in your spice cupboard, you’re only left with five or six ingredients.  It’s a simple dish with huge flavors.  A dish that I could put on my menu a couple of times a month.  And the really crazy thing is, even my “I don’t like fish”-proclaiming husband LOVES it!

Sayadieh Bil Samek (Fish Pilaf w/ Caramelized Onions) - a guest post from www.girlichef.com | www.marocmama.com

Hopefully once Amanda settles in and has a change to hit the spice market a few times, she can easily make it for her family, as well.

Sayadieh Bil Samek (Fish Pilaf w/ Caramelized Onions)

by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez (adapted from An Edible Mosaic, the cookbook)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes (mostly unattended)

Ingredients (serves 4)

    note: Don’t let the long ingredient list scare you away. It’s mostly a matter of raiding your spice cabinet!

    • 4 tablespoons sunflower oil (or other)
    • 1/4 cup pine nuts

    for the fish:

    • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground roasted coriander
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1 pound Cod (or other firm white fish), rinsed & patted dry

    to finish:

    • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
    • 1-1/2 cups uncooked basmati rice, soaked for 10 minutes & drained
    • 1 teaspoon Nine Spice Mix (recipe follows)
    • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground roasted coriander
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil (or other)
    • 2 – 2-1/2 cups fish or vegetable stock, simmering

    to serve:

    • lemon wedges

    Instructions

    Start with the pine nuts:

    Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts and toast until golden brown, 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the pine nuts from the pan and into a small bowl, leaving the oil in the pan.

    Next, the fish:

    Whisk together the flour and spices in a shallow dish. Dredge the fish in the mixture and shake off the excess.

    Turn the heat under the skillet to medium-high, and add the fish, frying until golden on both sides, about 4 minutes total. Transfer the fish to a plate or bowl, and when cool enough to handle, flake into large chunks. Set aside.

    Now, caramelize the onions:

    Okay, you should still have oil in the bottom of your skillet…and by now it should be nice and flavorful. To that oil, add your onions. Saute the onions over medium to medium-high heat, until they have gotten a good caramelization on them, 15 minutes or so. If the onions start to get too dark and dry too quickly, add a little splash of water. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.

    Sayadieh Bil Samek (Fish Pilaf w/ Caramelized Onions) - a guest post from www.girlichef.com | www.marocmama.com

    Putting it all together. Finally…

    Combine the soaked and drained rice with the spices in a large bowl; toss to combine.

    Drizzle the oil in the bottom of a medium heavy-bottomed, deep-sided skillet or pan (with a lid). Scatter half of the rice across the bottom of the pan, then scatter 1/3 of the caramelized onion over it. Arrange the fish on next, in an even layer. Add another 1/3 of the caramelized onion, and finish with the remaining rice. Set the final 1/3 of the onions aside for garnish.

    Carefully pour the simmering stock over the rice, so that it is just covered. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover the pot, then reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer until rice is tender, about 12-15 minutes. If it looks like the rice is getting too dry, drizzle in a bit more hot stock or hot water. Turn the heat off, and allow to sit (still covered), for 15 minutes.

    Fluffy gently with a fork, and transfer to a serving dish. Scatter the reserved caramelized onion and the reserved pine nuts over the top. Serve with lemon wedges.

    Nine Spice Mix:

    Combine 1 tablespoon ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon ground allspice, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 1-1/2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom in a small bowl or baggie and stir/shake to combine. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (yield: heaping 1/4 cup).

    Sayadieh Bil Samek (Fish Pilaf w/ Caramelized Onions) - a guest post from www.girlichef.com | www.marocmama.com

    Thank you so much for having me, Amanda.  Wishing you and your family safe travels…and I absolutely cannot wait to hear all about your adventures in a new land! ☺

    Thank YOU Heather – can’t wait to share our adventures with everyone!

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    The End of My Shaklee 180 Journey

    Shaklee 180 6 Months

     There’s a TV commercial I find myself tearing up over on a regular basis. Most people probably zone out when they’re watching.  Maybe you’ve seen it. It’s a heavier girl talking to her lighter self.  She says, “You look beautiful, we look beautiful, and we feel really good.  Seeing myself this way, now I see it’s possible.  I never thought I could look like that.” I can’t say enough about how much I feel myself in that girl.  I can feel the pain of the heavier girl, the complete disbelief that life could be different. I can see myself in the lighter girl (kind of..I’m still working on this) encouraging her past self and reinforcing that she did it!

    A lot of people have called me stubborn; once I’ve made up my mind about doing something, I’ve always been really dedicated to accomplishing that goal. I wouldn’t let anything stand in my way of achieving something I really wanted. However, my weight was never something that I felt the same motivation to fix. It just didn’t seem to matter. It was too hard.  This was coming from the girl who finished college in 3 years, after giving birth in the 2nd semester, as a single mom.  Who got a master’s degree while working full-time with a husband and two kids. The same person who navigated immigration to be reunited with her non-English speaking fiance and then made a cross-cultural marriage work despite the odds. But losing weight and taking care of myself? Nah, that was too hard.

    I’ve used food as a tool my entire life.  It was there to comfort me and there to pick me up.  I relied on the sweet taste of chocolate chips to brighten my sour days.  When I was alone, I could always make a big bowl of pasta to keep me company. If there was a hurdle to celebrate overcoming, a night out at a tasty restaurant was in order. Having a gastric sleeve has taught me I can enjoy the things I love in moderation. There was a time, when I decided if I couldn’t have ALL I wanted then I didn’t want any of it. I worked past that. These last six months I have been using Shaklee products and they have helped me curve some of my cravings.  Instead of reaching for a sugar-filled sweets, I opt instead for a snack bar.  When I need to eat first thing in the morning, or before a workout the chocolate chip peanut butter meal bars have been my saving grace.  The biggest issue post-surgery is eating enough protein and having shakes and bars that help me meet these goals make life a little bit easier.

    When I started the program I didn’t really have any goals – though my pre-surgery goal was to reach 150 pounds. I hoped that being a part of this program would give me some support through the plateau stage of surgery and give me some quick and easy options for getting in food and calories. I was afraid that the other bloggers would feel put off by the fact that I already had an added tool, having had surgery, but I have to work just as hard as everyone else. In some ways it’s even harder.  Not only do I have to make good food choices and exercise, I also have to make sure I am eating enough protein, taking supplements, and getting enough calories every day. What I have come to realize is that we all have hurdles in our lives that make weight loss (or anything for that matter) more difficult at any given time. How we choose to deal with those hurdle is what makes the difference. The best outcome of participating? I have had SO many people leave me messages of encouragement and share their own stories with me. I was blown away by the response. Before being chosen for this program, I wasn’t even planning to blog about my weight loss! I’m really glad I decided to share because it has helped me “come out” with my new reality.

    How Much Have I Lost While Using Shaklee?

    • I’ve lost 20 pounds
    • 3/4″ from each arm
    • 1″ from my bust
    • 2″ from my waist
    • 4.5″ from my hips
    • 1″ from each thigh
    • 1.5″ from each calf

    I have lost 75 pounds and 30 inches overall after having gastric sleeve surgery 11 months ago. The numbers are great but here’s what I really love;

    1. I escaped (alone) one night to go shopping for a few new things.  I walked past a mirror and caught a reflection out of the corner of my eye, and was surprised it was actually me.

    2. Wearing a size medium shirt. I don’t remember ever doing this in my adult life.

    3. Wearing cute clothes and not having a muffin-top in jeans, well most of the time.

    4. Hip bones.  It’s weird I know, but if you’ve never been able to really feel your hip bones then it’s kind of uncharted territory.

    5. Wearing a belt not for fashion but to legitimately help hold your pants in place.

    6. Compliments. They’re nice.  Just admit it.

    7. Running around with my kids, taking a walk, or climbing stairs without breathing heavy or having to stop because I physically can’t do it.

    8. Having a normal BMI for the first time – ever.

    You can find all of my transformation posts from the last six months here. If you’d like to give this program a try yourself the Shaklee website has great information and resources to get you started.

    I’ve reached my goal weight but hope to post time to time about maintaining my weight and other challenges I face. There also will be one more video post this month.  Do you have specific questions you’d like answered?  

    Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post as part of the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. I have received free products, online support, and incentives for participating. My opinions are my own. People following the weight-loss portion of the Shaklee 180™ Program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week. 

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    33 Delicious Toppings for Gluten-Free Pizza
    Pizza. Who doesn’t love it?? But, when someone in your family is diagnosed with celiac disease it can feel like your Friday night pizza habit has been thrown out the window. Sure you can make gluten-free dough but on busy weeknights or even lazy weekends, who wants to do that? Pre-made gluten-free crusts can cost over $10, for just 1 tiny crust. Along with chocolate chip cookie dough and pie crust, Pillsbury now has a gluten-free pizza crust in the refrigerated food section. Best part (well one of them) it retails for under $5 a 13 oz tub!
    33 Delicious Toppings for Gluten-Free Pizza
    I asked fellow food bloggers to share some of their favorite pizza toppings to inspire you when creating your own gluten-free pizza at home. There are 33 ideas here, enough to fill several Friday night dinners.
     

    Pizza Toppings

    How can you prepare the new Pillsbury Gluten-Free Pizza Dough?  It can be prepped in 2 different sizes for best results. Below are prep instructions for the 2 sizes and helpful tips.

    For a 12 x 10 rectangle pizza
    1. HEAT oven to 400°F.
    2.GREASE cookie sheet and hands.
    3. SOFTEN dough by forming into a rounded ball. Starting from center, press out dough to form a 12 x 10-inch rectangle.
    4. PREBAKE dough 12-14 minutes or until edges are beginning to brown.
    5. FLIP crust using a spatula.
    6. SPREAD with pizza sauce. Top with cooked meat, cheese and other toppings as desired.
    7. BAKE 4-8 minutes longer until crust is deep golden brown and cheese is melted.
    For two 10-inch pizzas
    1. HEAT oven to 400°F. Remove dough from container and divide in half. If making one pizza, return half to container and refrigerate.
    2. GREASE cookie sheet and hands.
    3. SOFTEN dough by forming into a rounded ball. Starting from center, press out dough to form a 10-inch round.
    4. PREBAKE dough 7-11 minutes or until edges are beginning to brown.
    5. FLIP crust using a spatula.
    6. SPREAD with pizza sauce. Top with cooked meat, cheese and other toppings as desired.
    7. BAKE 4-8 minutes longer until crust is deep golden brown and cheese is melted.
    Helpful Tips
    • Remove the dough from the refrigerator 10-15 minutes before using.
    • Grease hands with olive oil before forming the dough.
    • Form a ball with the dough and then roll out.
    • Sprinkle baking sheet with cornstarch or rice flour to avoid sticking
    • Use a rolling pin to keep an even thickness.
    Want to try one of the great recipes shared above and Pillsbury’s Gluten-Free Pizza Dough? I’m giving away free product coupons, and a baking package from Pillsbury.  Find out more about this product on the Pillsbury website and then follow the rafflecopter directions to enter!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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