Once upon a time, Oldest Child thought they hated cauliflower. Until one day, they came into the kitchen while I was cooking, lured in by the delicious smells, and asked me what I was making and could they have some. Boy were they surprised when they were handed a serving of cauliflower steak. Naturally, they loved it, and it’s been in our regular meal rotation ever since. And here’s how we do it.
1 medium head of cauliflower 2 tbs gluten-free soy sauce (or coconut aminos) 1 tbs olive oil 2 tsp smoked paprika 1 tsp garlic powder 1/2 tsp onion powder Salt, pepper, and other seasonings to taste
*Nutrition facts at bottom
Preheat oven to 375°.
Cut the cauliflower into 1/2 inch slices.
Mix the soy sauce and olive oil and brush over the “steaks.”
Sprinkle both sides with paprika, salt/pepper, and seasonings of choice.
Lay flat on baking sheet and bake for approx. 20 minutes or until browned and soft enough to puncture with a fork.
You can grill these instead, but consider grilling them on top of foil or a plank because they crumble easily.
Once they’ve finished cooking, brush the steaks with butter (or vegan butter for dairy-free). Cover with foil and let rest for a few minutes before serving.
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and shredded 1 large carrot, shredded 2 stalks celery, finely chopped 1/2 medium onion, diced 1/4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 tsp salt 2 flax eggs (see below for additional instruction)
*Nutrition facts at bottom
Preheat oven to 375°.
Mix potato, carrot, celery, onion, and garlic in large bowl.
Stir in flax eggs (to make 1 flax egg, combine 1 tbs flax meal w/ 3 tbs water; stir well, and let rest for 5 minutes until it takes on a similar consistency to egg whites).
Mix in bread crumbs.
Shape into patties and bake for 20–22 minutes.
To give these a bit of a crunch around the outside, brown on the stove for 1–2 minutes on each side over medium-high heat before baking.
I like to top these with a spicy vegan aioli (a recipe for another day) and feta cheese and serve with sliced avocado and lime.
If you try these recipes, let me know in the comments section how you liked it. And as always, feel free to connect with me and share on social media.
A while back, I stumbled across a Tedx about body positivity on YouTube. While I wasn’t specifically looking for a Ted Talk or videos on body positivity (I was actually looking for haircare videos in an attempt to freshen up my self-care routine), the title caught my eye: Body Positivity or Body Obsession: Learning to See More & Be More.
The video resonated with me in a big way as the presenter, Lindsay Kite, talked about overcoming body shame. But it left me wondering a few things: why do we take on the weight of other people’s opinions in the first place, why do some opinions weigh more, and how can we shed that weight?
Why Do We Take on the Weight of Other People’s Opinions?
Not a lot of people know this about me (it’s not something you really lead with in conversation), but I struggled with body dysmorphia in my teens and early twenties. Like Kite, the speaker in the Tedx video, I was an active kid and an avid swimmer. Growing up in Florida, 10 minutes from some of the best beaches in the country, I spent much of my childhood swimming. Until one day, when I was around 11, I decided I was too fat to wear a swimsuit. Some of it was from what I was seeing in magazines and on TV. I was, after all, a product of the heroin-chic beauty culture of the 90s. Some of it was due to pressure from family to be thin because they had come up in the era of Twiggy and the like, and to them, beautiful was just a synonym for skinny. But none of it was okay.
I didn’t recognize that then. I just knew I wasn’t pretty enough. Even when people called me pretty, it was backhanded: “You have such a pretty face,” or “You’d be so pretty if you lost weight.”
When I was 11, a family member put me on the Slim Fast diet. When I was 12, that same family member encouraged me to stop hanging out with two of my friends because they were overweight, and she thought I would “catch” the obesity.
Fredric Neuman, M.D. writes in this article on Psychology today that “The way people feel about themselves is formed in large part during the time of growing up by the way their parents—or other close family members—felt about them and treated them during that time.” (Neuman, 2013)
And the simple fact of the matter is that our survival as individuals depends on our being accepted into the social group. We feel pressure to conform even before we can pronounce those very words.
Why Do Some Opinions Weigh More When We Put Them On?
By the time I was a freshman in high school, I felt so fat and so disgusting (at 5’4” and 140lbs), that I truly believed no one could possibly find me attractive.
When a boy in my class stopped our conversation to tell me I had a pretty smile, I thought he was messing with me and immediately stopped both smiling and talking to him.
When a senior football player from my Spanish class stopped me in the hall one day to introduce me to his friends, I was certain he’d done so because they were all going to have a good laugh at the awkward freshman girl after I walked away, and I nearly crawled out of my skin to get away from them as fast as I could.
Every day, the boy who sat next to me in Drama would stop me on my way to my seat and ask me out. I was so sure he was yanking my chain, I would shake my head and continue to my seat without making eye contact. Until one day, we went through the standard routine: he asked me out and I declined. Only, this day, he followed up with, “That’s what I like about you, your confidence.” This poor boy thought I was turning him down because I was out of his league, and I was over here doing everything I could to be invisible.
So why didn’t these situations change the way I felt about myself and my body? I have some theories.
First, as anthropologist Krystal D’Costa writes in this article on the Scientific American blog, “…negative opinions held by those outside of our social networks may have less weight than others because they are less likely have an impact on future relations.” (D’Costa, 2012). In this article, D’Costa focuses on behavior in relation to reputation, but the idea is the same. These brief encounters with people who, in retrospect, clearly did not find me abhorrent weren’t enough to change my outlook because they weren’t as close to me, weren’t as large a part of my life as the people who had put those warped ideas about body image into my head in the first place. I didn’t rely on those classmates for acceptance into the family social group or even my friend group (as they were only acquaintances).
How Do We Shed the Weight?
Several more years would pass before I would feel comfortable wearing form-fitting clothing, and even in my 30s now, I still experience a significant amount of discomfort in a bathing suit at the beach.
Going back to something Kite said in her talk, “It is incredibly difficult to feel good about your body if you are judging it solely based on appearance.”
In her Tedx Talk, Kite tells us that women she surveyed who reported feeling good about their bodies all reported a past painful experience or “body image disruption.” The disruption changes the way you feel about your own body. These disruptions can have either a very negative (shame/hatred/disgust) or very positive (self-love/confidence) impact on how you feel about your body.
The key is to develop body image resilience. Lindsay Kite and her sister, Lexie, are the founders of Beauty Redefined, a nonprofit whose mission is to teach body image resilience. And there are many other amazing people doing work in this area. I’m personally acquainted with one such woman, Christina Maldonado, founder and principal photographer at Boudoir Tampa. Her mission is to help people shed the weight of unhealthy beauty standards. She’s a master at helping individuals (and couples) recognize that each and every body is beautiful through her photography.
The key takeaway I’ve gleaned from my research is that you have to make a simultaneous public and personal shift.
Putting yourself out there is the external/public piece. It can be anything that pushes your boundaries, from wearing a tank top if you’re insecure about your arms or shorts if you are uncomfortable showing your legs, to wearing a bikini in public. Anything that opens you up and makes you vulnerable to perceived criticism can be an opportunity for body image resilience.
Changing your mindset is the internal side. We have to work to love our bodies for what they can do, not how they look. We can do this through meditation, journaling, etc. and learning to filter out the unhealthy beauty messages we receive every day from the media, from friends and family, and most especially from ourselves. Because we are our own worst critics.
Something else that I don’t see many people talking about is that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Not every person prefers model-thin, perfectly airbrushed bodies. There is an admirer for every body type. I could be built like a caterpillar, and there would still be some human out there who goes crazy for the larval butterfly look.
I just need to change my mindset and put myself out there. And that’s what my wellness journey is all about. I’m learning to love myself just as I am. Every time I put myself out there, it’s that much easier the next time, easier to put myself out there and easier to love myself just as I am. I’m taking baby steps, short skirts and bathing suits and posting pictures/videos of myself for all the internet to see now. One larger goal is to have a photography session with the phenomenal Christina Maldonado. And the more I do these things, the closer I get to the finish line of loving myself wholly and completely as I am and not striving for a perceived perfection. Because we’re all already perfect enough.
Connect with me on social media to be a part of my journey.
A few weeks have passed since I shared my commitment to being the best me I can be. You can read the full post here, but to summarize, I’m a recovering perfectionist, learning to recognize that I am perfect enough and love myself just the way I am. Loving myself means taking care of myself, feeding my body with love and care, and practicing healthy habits like exercise, meditation, and journaling.
What I’ve found over the last few weeks is that my journey isn’t turning out to be as linear as I’d envisioned. I pictured a straight shot to my best life: do the hard work, reap the good rewards. Boom, done.
That is, in fact, not what it’s like at all.
While I haven’t journaled every day, I’ve done it more days than not. Exercise is quickly becoming a daily habit for me, and meditation is definitely my respite from a world with more stress than I care to acknowledge some days. And while I’ve absolutely seen positive impact on my mood, my outlook, my emotional health, and my stamina, I do have days where my OCD tells me public places are dangerous and I don’t get out of the house like I need to, or that food isn’t safe and I don’t end up eating enough. I do have days where I can’t lift as much or do as many reps or go as many miles as I did the day before because I’m under-fueled, overstressed, or overtired (or any combination therein). I know I will continue to have days like that for a long time because recovery from OCD is a marathon, not a sprint. Statistically speaking, I will likely struggle with my mental health for the rest of my life. But it’s hard not to beat myself up for my perceived failures on those tough days.
Something that helps me to be gentler with myself on the hard days is reminding myself to look at the mile markers, not the end goal, to keep my eyes on the road, not the destination. As long as I keep putting one foot in front of the other (both proverbially and physically), I’m moving in the right direction.
So, today, I want to share some of the mile markers and road signs I use to remind myself that even an inch of progress is still progress.
My stamina then and now
The first day I worked out with my trainer, I legitimately almost passed out after 25 minutes, and y’all… he was going easy on me.
Now, I can make it through 15 minutes of Tai Chi, then half an hour on the stationary bike followed by a full half hour of bodyweight exercises with my trainer. That’s more than double what I could do two months ago when we started.
My one regret is that I haven’t been logging my progress in my journal. It would be nice to have that record to go back to on days when I don’t do as well and remind myself that even on my bad days, I’m still leaps ahead of where I was when I began.
Going forward, I’ll be tracking my progress. Let me know in the comments if I should start posting about my progress, if that’s something anyone would be interested in.
Once upon a time (in my teens and early twenties), I suffered from horrible insomnia, sleeping 2–3 hours a night at best, or lying awake all night only to fall asleep at dawn and sleep most of the day away. While my sleep hasn’t been nearly that bad in at least 5 or 6 years, I do still struggle to fall asleep sometimes and often wake up feeling like I haven’t slept at all. But since I’ve been focusing on my physical and mental health, my sleep has improved. Not only do I fall asleep within minutes of going to bed now and wake up actually feeling rested but I also use the Pillow app on my Apple watch to track my sleep stats, and I’ve consistently seen improvement in my sleep cycles and my time spent asleep.
Listening to my body
The first time I worked out with my trainer (for less than half an hour), I was so sore for the next several days that I couldn’t even sit down without groaning and holding my thighs. This past weekend, I worked out for an hour, then went outside with the family and did yard work (shoveling, digging, planting, laying mulch) for a few hours and wasn’t sore the next day. That means my muscles are getting used to the work.
How I feel about exercise
Before I started on this health journey, I hated exercise. I did not like sweating or being tired/worn out, or any of the not fun parts of exercise. Now, I look forward to it. I look forward to that time when I am making myself and my health a priority and focusing on me. Getting on the exercise bike or the row machine is a form of self-care. Putting on my boxing gloves and using the punching bag is a way to blow off steam, and instead of feeling worn out after, I feel energized like I can mentally and physically take on the world.
My comfort level putting myself out there
There was a time when I would run, yes actually run, from the camera whenever someone tried to take a picture, and don’t even get me started on my near debilitating stage fright/fear of public speaking. Over the years, I’ve gotten better about being “seen.” It helps that my work in publishing requires me to be in an absurd amount of zoom meetings. But even though that’s been the case since even before the pandemic, I never did get comfortable with having my picture taken, taking selfies, or posting pictures and/or video of myself online. For a long time, my social profile picture was of a squirrel. That’s how diligently I avoided showing myself. But the more I put myself out there on this journey, the easier it is each time after. There’s actual science behind why this is the case, and I talk a little about it in another post if you’d like to read that.
Just kidding! My weight hasn’t changed, and I still wear the same size clothes, but that’s not why I’m on this journey. To be fair, I certainly wouldn’t complain if weight loss were a side effect of my healthy lifestyle, but that’s not where my attention is at right now.
So, in closing, to borrow from something my spouse told me when I was struggling with some anxiety recently after having so many really great, anxiety-free days: the journey to be healthier is like the stock market. It’s not a consistent rise day after day. There will be dips, and even depressions, but ultimately, when you step back and look at the big picture, you can see the results.
If you’re reading this and you’re on a journey like mine or thinking about joining me on this health adventure, don’t forget to read your mile markers, whatever reminds you that you are making progress, and don’t let your distance from the destination discourage you!
If you’re thinking about stepping out on a health journey of your own, connect with me on social media so we can cheer each other on!
The title of this post is a bit of a misnomer because the majority of my household is vegetarian anyway, so everyday for some of us is “meatless Monday.” But today, I wanted to share one of our family favorites. We also keep a gluten-free kitchen, since two of us have Celiac Disease.
I won’t bore you with a super long intro before the actual recipe. Let’s get right to the “meat.”
7.5oz (1 container) super firm tofu (drained) ½ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs (I like the 4c seasoned GF breadcrumbs) ½ cup gluten-free flour (I use my own blend or for a quick grab, I use King Arthur GF flour blend) ¼ cup grated parmesan 2 tbs flax meal 1 tbs gluten-free soy sauce (or coconut aminos) 2 tsp smoked paprika ½ tsp ground cumin
*Nutrition facts at bottom
Preheat oven to 350°.
Chop the tofu into small pieces in a food processor until the pieces are about the size of small chunks of ground beef. You can do this by hand by mashing with a fork as well.
Mix the soy sauce and flax meal into the tofu and let rest for 5–10 minutes until the flax has absorbed some of the liquid from the tofu and taken on more of an egg-white consistency. Note: it will not be exactly like egg whites in the tofu, but it will be similar.
Mix in the breadcrumbs, flour, and seasonings until well incorporated.
Form mixture into patties.
Sauté in a frying pan on medium-high heat 2–3 minutes on each side until lightly golden brown.
Bake for 18–20 minutes.
You can grill these instead, but make sure to grill them on top of foil or a plank. Otherwise, they will slip through the grate and you will have no burgers, and that would be sad.
Top with your favorite burger toppings and serve on gluten-free buns. If you try this recipe, let me know in the comments section how you liked it. And as always, feel free to connect with me and share on social media.