Category: Uncategorized

Take a Leap of faith.

It was over two years ago I made yet another gut based leap of faith. I made the decision to move from New Orleans back to Oklahoma. This was a huge deal, and for very good reasons. One in particular.

How I got where I am today? During a 7 day vacation in Oklahoma I took time to feed my soul. This act of self kindness; long overdue. New Orleans offered me fantastic food, church, yoga, adventure along with lots of friendly faces. It also brought distractions, bad habits, and complacency, I needed drive, something more to live for. For 5 blissful mornings I woke to birds chirping and a 4 year friendship. Annette and I hugged, drank coffee, talked, discussed books and life all before the first rays of sunrise. In those glorious mornings I loved on Chef (my four legged companion) giving him my undivided attention. I basked in long hot shower’s relishing in a face mask to follow. I slowed down, I took care of me. I made a hearty breakfast, fed my mind with books and art. I recharged my battery. My last but most pressing task was to prepare the house for Annette’s upcoming annual Halloween party. With a very impressive guest list, there was a lot to do. Little did I know that one guest would change my life forever.

Back story: 4 years prior while living in Oklahoma, I worked as a barista in Tulsa. I met a lot of people. I was constantly asked on a lot of dates. I gave a lot of “no’s”. I was reserving my heart and mind. I had no intentions of dating, However, There was one customer that stood out. He had the grandest smile, He was polite, cheerful, and good looking to boot. He persisted for months hoping by chance to take me on a date. I always declined, but took note of his efforts. In the preceding years he continued to stay in contact via Facebook and Instagram. We shared interests in common, milestones, motivational posts and laughs. He hunkered down somewhere in the background of my mind, never quiet exiting my life. It wasn’t until late one summer night while strolling home from Salsa night at the Dragon’s Den, my phone “dinged”. A notification highlighted the screen of my Iphone from non other but this man I speak of. We caught up on our evening, life, relationships and main events. Our conversation went on late into the night, which turn into days, the days turned into weeks and evolved into months. For the first time in what felt like eternity I woke up every day with a smile on my face and a liveliness in my heart.

Back to the present: I took a weeks vacation in Oklahoma to visit with friends, at the time I contemplated moving back. Before I made the leap I wanted to survey the scene. In my search for a fresh start I found a lot more than I had planned on. I found something I searched my lifetime for, someone I felt connected to. Someone who made me feel seen. My date showed up as a life size banana, I was a sugar skull; evidently we did not plan our costumes very well. Despite the costume situation we enjoyed ourselves. We socialized the night away. We chatted our way through some jello shots and enjoyed the cool autumn air reveling in the moment. It was a night to remember, followed by sleepy head breakfast because, no one should drink and drive. We spent the week together, I tagged along on Halloween night at the city zoo and met his tiny counterpart. A 3 year old shy little boy who loved to color and giggle. I was sold. This banana was the guy for me. Later that week before I left we had our first real date. He took me out to dinner and for a walk by the water under the stars. He held his arm out. It was cold, I could see our breaths in the night sky. I think we both knew where our lives were headed, we could feel it in our souls.

This goodbye left me sure of two things. One, this man was worth getting to know and Two, I would return to Oklahoma as quickly as possible.

I returned to New Orleans and put in for a transfer to Oklahoma. New Orleans gave me everything it had to offer and would always hold a special place in my heart. I eagerly packed up my uptown apartment and counted down the days until Chef and I would make the 10 hour drive back home. Home had a heartbeat and it’s name was Parker. 

Advice for anyone and everyone:

  1. Always trust your gut.
  2. Never be afraid to make new friends.
  3. Once in awhile take a leap of faith.

Stay tuned for my latest adventures.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Valerie Anne Treadway

 

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Good bye New Orleans, Hello Oklahoma.

From New York to Oklahoma, from Oklahoma to New Orleans, and back to Oklahoma. Last stop? Nobody knows! The last few years have been nothing less than a whirlwind of events, all of which I plan to share with my usual insight on anything and everything that I feel passionately enough about to put out into the universe! 
So let’s start in reverse. 
There is a time and a place for everything and everyone in our lives. Family, friends, jobs, careers, pets and even places. They are all just different seasons. I believe the saying goes “People change just like seasons.” Or is it “Seasons come and go, people change.” Hmm maybe it’s.. “People come and go just as seasons change, and like the leaves turning at the first of fall I myself found new colors, new places, and new people pulling at my heartstrings once again.” I think I’ll go with that one, being it’s mine, 😉. Oklahoma was a decision I made based on a longing for something to feel like home, I needed something to feel familiar. I needed to go where I was more than tolerated, I needed to be where I was celebrated. Home is where you feel the love and Oklahoma seemed to feel like it had a heartbeat around late October last year. To be specific, my heartbeat. 

New Orleans is so full of pizazz with its festivals, late night availability to alcohol and busy streets, But that was a temporary bandage to something my heart truly needed to thrive. So I cashed in the PTO time that my big ole fancy corporate job gave me for working hard and I bought myself a weeks getaway to good ole Oklahoma. The day before my leaving I packed a bag, my dog and my yoga mat in search of some much needed adventure. New Orleans had plenty of distractions but I didn’t want distractions. My wild heart craved the open road and a good companion. 10 hours through bayou, tolls, bridges and corn fields. Pure bliss and the radio. Just my dog and I. Waiting for me at the end of those 10 hours was good friends, a couch to rest my head, a Halloween party invitation and a mystery. Years ago I left something behind in Tulsa that I never quiet understood. I locked the door to my uptown apartment behind me and the open road we went. 

Friends, family and readers. We have some catching up to do my loves. Stay tuned. 

❤️

My Not so Mom’s lasagna

Being what feels like a million miles away from my family I Sometimes get the homesick blues. Since I don’t have the luxury of hopping on a plane and going home at the drop of a hat I have found some other coping mechanisms. One of my favorites is eating my family’s comfort foods. Every family has them. Great Grandma’s cabbage and bow ties, or Grandma Dean’s pork chops and peas with a side of mashed potatoes, pirogues and kielbasa.. and I could go on for days. These are the dishes that brought us together on holidays, snow days, and the other three hundred and something days a year I was gathered around the dining room table with the people I love most. However people’s lifestyles change and sometimes what they once ate they no longer do. I’ve decided to take one of my favorite dishes my mother makes, the one I have missed the most recently..My Mom’s lasagna and tweak it into a meat free, gluten free, new and improved but “Not so Mom’s lasagna”. This lasagna features a roasted red tomato sauce I have borrowed and tweaked from Willy B Mum, and instead of lasagna noodles I will use thinly sliced zucchini and eggplant. All organic vegetables from my local farmers market! Highlights of this meal are that it is gluten free, vegetarian friendly and absolutely scrumptious! Head to the kitchen and grab your apron! 

Tools you will need

2 large pizza or cookie sheets, aluminum foil, cheese grater, large glass Pyrex dish, spatulas, food processor (good blender or nutri bullet will work I am sure) large sauté pan, peeler, good chopping knife, cutting board, strainer, paper towels, large plate

Ingredients

8 good size tomatoes, 2 large sweet onions,  1-2 bulbs of garlic, 6 decent size zucchini, 1 big bad mama jama sized eggplant, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, basil, crushed red pepper flakes, plenty of grated Parmesan, 2 cups mozzarella, 1/2 brick of Philadelphia cream cheese (ricotta or cottage cheese. I was already in the process of cooking and was not going out to the store so I got creative.)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

Take your pizza sheets and line them with aluminum foil to catch the drippings the tomatoes will make, drizzle olive oil on the sheet. It’s now time for the cutting board and your good chopping knife, peel and slice your onions into 1/8 inch slices around (so the rings replicate an onion ring) and place them on the sheets. Peel and leave your garlic toes whole, place them on the sheet with the onion slices. Time to grab your tomatoes and strainer, rinse your tomatoes thoroughly. Cut them into halves and place them on top of your onion slices. Sprinkle sea salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, basil (fresh if you have it) garlic powder, and drizzle more EVVO on top! Now cover well with aluminum foil and stick it in the oven for 30 minutes.

While your tomatoes, onions and garlic are cooking now is the opportune time to prepare your “noodles”. Once again grab your strainer and rinse your 6 zucchini and 1 big bad mama jama eggplant thoroughly. Once this is done we are going to cut off the very ends of your zucchini and eggplant and peel them with a vegetable peeler (unless of course you are skilled with a knife, then by all means have at it!). When they are all peeled you will slice them thinly but not to thin, the long way (noodle like) these are going to go in the oven and bake to make them a little softer. When you are done slicing your veggies pat them dry or let them rest in between layers of paper towels on a plate. Sometime soon your timer should be going off, you will now uncover the tomatoes and put them back in for another 25 minutes. Right about now I set out my cream cheese to soften a little. I have prepared my my food processor and pan. Time to grate some cheese. I now have grated about 2 cups of mozzarella and made sure my zucchini and eggplant are completely dry.

Now it’s time to take the oven roasted tomatoes, onions and garlic out and let it cool for a minute. Keep the oven on and lower it to 350. Once they are cooled I grab a spatula and scoop up my tomatoes, onions and garlic into the food processor. Don’t forget all those delicious drippings! Pull up the edges of your aluminum foil and fold it in half let those drippings flow into the food processor and give it a whirl! Let it blend nice and smooth. This is when I like to add any other seasonings I feel it may need such as crushed red pepper flakes for a little heat and a good amount of Parmesan cheese. Sometimes I have to do this in 2 batches, depending on how big your food processor is you may have to as well. Fire up your sauté pan and pour this oven roasted deliciousness in. Now it’s getting hot and steamy up in here!!! Set the burner on simmer, keep it uncovered.

Now it’s time to put your noodles in the oven. Recycle the aluminum foil you used to cover the tomatoes and line the bottom of your pizza sheets lay down your “noodles” and sprinkle a little sea salt on top. Bake for about 15 minutes until fork tender, not mushy though. When done, pull them out to cool down. Now this is where the magic happens! Grab your Pyrex dish and layer your roasted tomato sauce, noodles, and some mozzarella. Smack dab in the middle of these layers I added a very thin slice of cream cheese, being cream cheese is very rich and I did not have any ricotta on hand. Continue layers and top with a generous amount of sauce and sprinkle with a nice layer of mozzarella on top. Now pop this baby in the oven for about 30 minutes so we can let it all meld into a delicious dish of fresh, rich and roasted ingredients! When it’s done set out for about 10 minutes to cool. Cut out a slice for you and a loved one.

If this doesn’t feel like a warm and loving hug from way back home then I don’t know what does!

And That’s how you make “Not so Mom’s” lasagna! Meat free, gluten free but all the flavor you need!

Signing out,

Woman helping women.

New Orleans New Years! 

Here in New Orleans we take Mardi Gras pretty seriously. There are parades, trips to the French Quarter, crawfish boils and lots of cocktails! It’s the last “Hoorah” before lent starts and boy do we do it big! Needless to say, with king cakes back in season and the smell of beignets in the air sometimes it’s hard to get back into the swing of things post Mardi Gras! Let’s not kid ourselves if you live in New Orleans January 1st probably isn’t the best time to start that new lifestyle change you committed to. This year February 18th marks the new beginning of 2015 for me! I’ve re-committed myself to becoming 100% gluten free, continuously moving towards a vegetarian lifestyle and doing my best to cut down on dairy as much as possible! With every new beginning comes fresh and reformative ideas. For me this means NEW and improved recipes! I’ve been getting creative in the kitchen the past 2 weeks and am ready to share! Get your aprons on people it’s about to get delicious up in here! 

Black bean and corn quiche with a Sweet potato crust Cheddar and salsa finish topped with fresh guacamole

(Warning: this dish is #glutenfree #vegetarian and the Best mouthful you will ever have! A serving is usually 1/6th of the quiche which turns out to be somewhere around the 300 calorie mark using plain coconut milk, 1 cup of cheddar and without guac.)

Tools you will need

medium to large size mixing bowl, small bowl, fork, pairing knife, sturdy whisk, good chopping knife, can opener, cutting board and a glass pie dish

Ingredients

Half a can of black beans (I usually use a can 15oz can)

1c of frozen corn (texture is way better than that canned stuff and it’s fresh!)

1.5-2 sweet potatoes (depending on size and or how thick of a crust you want)

1-2cups of cheddar cheese (depends on how much cheese you like)

4 large eggs 

Coconut milk (or milk of choice, I always have a half gallon of coconut milk in the house)

1 ripe avocado

Fresh salsa  (you can make your own or buy some, I bought some.)

EVVO (extra virgin olive oil), sea salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste. I also added some cumin to taste!

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees 

Get out your cutting board and a good chopping knife. Wash your sweet potatoes thoroughly and dry. Thinly slice sweet potatoes as if you were going to make sweet potato chips out of them, but not paper thin because this will be your crust. Next line your glass pie dish with your sweet potato slices to completely cover the bottom and sides of the pie dish, keep layering them until everything is covered or you run out of sweet potato (whichever comes first). Next drizzle a little EVVO over the freshly laid sweet potato crust  and sprinkle some seasoning (I use Tony’s which is a popular Cajun seasoning here in Louisiana, you can also use salt and pepper). 

Your oven should now be at 375. Bake the sweet potato crust uncovered for 15-20 minutes, I like my crust lightly browned but not too well done because it’s going to go back in the oven (I use the rack a few down from the top). 

Now that your crust is baking grab your medium-large size mixing bowl, a whisk, can opener and a measuring cup if need be. You will also want to gather all the remaining ingredients. 

Crack your 4 large eggs into the mixing bowl (watch out for straggling egg shells, it happens to the best of us!) and add coconut milk (or milk of choice), as if you are making scrambled eggs for yourself. Now add in your seasonings of choice and whisk away! When you’re ready, grab your can opener and black beans, open and strain the water out and add half the can to your whisked eggs. Grab a measuring cup if need be and add a cup of corn to the mixture. If you want a super cheesy quiche now would be the time to add 1 cup of cheddar cheese to the mixture. Stir the mixture until everything in the bowl is is evenly mixed. By this time the crust should be ready. 

Carefully pull the pie dish out of the oven, set it on a heat safe surface. Pour contents of bowl slowly into the pie dish. You can now sprinkle 1 cup of cheddar cheese and spoon salsa onto the top of the quiche. 

Now it’s time to put this baby back in the oven! Cook uncovered for another 35-40 minutes. I use a knife the way you check a cake with a toothpick to see if it is fully cooked! 



It’s “guac”time! Wash and dry your avocado. Carefully cut through the skin around the pit of the avocado and spoon out the good stuff into a bowl. I smash mine up with a fork and sprinkle some sea salt (some people add lemon juice and crushed red pepper flakes for kick). I cheated and mixed in the store bought salsa this time. 

You’re probably still waiting on the quiche to finish cooking. Around this time I like to put on a cup of coffee or tea. 



When your quiche is fully cooked set it out on a heat safe surface and let it cool for about 10-15 minutes. After it’s cooled down grab a spoonful of guac and dab it on top of your freshly plated slice of quiche. It’s chow time people! 



As Julie and Julia would say “Bon appetit”!



Clean home, Toxic body?

It is safe to say everyone loves a clean home. But have you ever thought about what is in the products you use in your home? Your home is not the only sanctuary and temple but your body is as well. Am I over your head right now? How about we dig a little deeper, let’s see what’s been hiding under the rug and in your cleaning supplies. Just because something works well doesn’t mean it’s safe or healthy for your body. Bleach may disinfect on the spot but it is also a registered pesticide. It is used by most pest control companies to kill bugs, rodents, other animals, and fungi. It is also used to kill weeds in your yard (sited http://www.epa.gov/kidshometour/pest.htm). Bleach is one of two substances needed to make mustard gas. Fun Fact: Mustard gas was used in WWI for chemical warfare. Think about that the next time you clean your toilet!

Let’s not stop here. Our Dermis also known as our skin is the quickest way to absorb anything whether it is liquid, solid or gas. Anything you use in your home is immediately absorbed into your body. You know that Dawn soap you love so much, that works so well? I’ve got news for you, it may cut grease and oil great, and it probably even gets all the fleas off your dog, but if it can cut through oil from an oil spill and eliminate all the fleas in your dog’s coat, what is it doing to your body? One of the ingredients in Dawn dish soap is Quaternium15, also known as Formaldehyde, Which is what is used to preserve a corpse. How do you feel about your clean dishes now?

I am just scratching the surface of what is in your home. Air fresheners, floor cleaners, candles, there are so many products with so many ingredients. Next time you use hand soap or a window cleaner, research the ingredients list. Educate yourself. Find out just what toxic chemicals your body has to work hard at processing on a daily basis. These things can cause issues such as dry irritated skin, children and adults with ADD or ADHD, or even people who get chronic migraines such as me.

If you are anything like most people including myself you are sitting in your chair feeling pretty helpless and wondering how you are going to clean your house. Fret not, I did not inform you to leave you lost, stranded and in a dirty home! There are wonderful, ecofriendly, non-toxic ways to clean your home guilt free! My choice of products I use in my home are from melaleuca.com. I absolutely LOVE the way they clean my home. They are affordable, non-toxic, and the bottles are corn derived so they are bio degradable. I love Melaleuca so much I decided to become a consultant, being I feel so passionate about having a non-toxic living environment. Melaleuca is NOT like companies such as 7th Generation that have no integrity what so ever. They are not only expensive but advertise that they do not put bleach in their baby diapers. However, they add dyes to make the diapers brown so that they appear to be natural. Melaleuca has been around since 1985, using nontoxic ingredients and keeping prices not only affordable but they have stayed the same through the years.

Another alternative for those who are creative and love learning new ways to use everyday house hold items is to use warm water, vinegar and essential oils. It’s cheap, quick, and always in your kitchen cabinets!  Do yourself a favor, go non-toxic. Spare you and your family from a toxic living environment. Stop being deceived and reclaim your sanctuary, your body, your home, your peace of mind.

BE CLEAN AND GO GREEN!!!

 

Thanks for reading Woman Helping Women

Valerie Dean

Pescatarian

Over the past year I have contemplated a lot of alternative eating habits. I went gluten free for 4 months solid, cutting out all gluten. I come from an area in New York where pasta and bread are life as we know it. Needless to say it was a big challenge. The first two days were horrible. I went through “simple-carb with drawls” as some might call it. After about 3 weeks I stopped craving simple carbs all together (ex: pasta, bread, noodles, crackers, brownies, muffins, etc.) I even had to cut out things such as salad dressing or any other products that gluten was hidden in.  I stopped feeling sluggish, yawning constantly and stuffing my face with non-healthy food sources to feed my fleshly cravings. My body started getting much needed nutrients. Instead of me giving it fillers containing toxic gluten I was eating REAL food that was packed with vitamins. In addition to going gluten free, I was taking spicy yoga at The Wild Lotus Yoga Studio” in uptown New Orleans. In those 4 months I lost 13 pounds! After the initial 4 months I made the decision that I would allow gluten in moderation into my diet. There are some things that I do like to enjoy on occasion such as birthday cake and holiday cookies. I believe everything in moderation.

2013 had more adventures of alternative eating habits in store for me. In October I began to have a lot of what I thought was urinary tract infections. I went to my gynecologist and explained a few different symptoms I was having. On a daily basis I felt everything from UTI symptoms to heavy feeling in my lower region to lower back pain and migraines. Turns out at the age of 24 they suggested I have interstitial cystitis. Interstitial cystitis is a chronic bladder infection.  There is no cure for this condition.  The Doctor also believed me to have endometriosis.

BAM! There you have it.

7 years earlier I was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). At this time I felt an emotional overload, all I could think was “I am too young for all this sickness inside my body”.

I decided it was time to look up natural remedies. My Doctor along with many other websites suggested cutting out a lot of acidic food & beverages from my diet. I decided to give it a shot. First was caffeine and alcohol. Let me tell you, it made a world of difference. I no longer have the crash and burn from caffeine high. All of my lower back pain disappeared. Giving up caffeine in itself proved to me that I did not need caffeine to start my day. After 7 years of being addicted to caffeine I felt free! I read up on a lot about alcohol. I do enjoy some wine here and there. My personal experience was that red wine although delicious was far too acidic for me. I switched to white on occasions such as birthday soirée’s and holidays.  Over all I started to drink a lot more water, herbal tea with local honey from the farmers market and incorporate daily walks with my Labrador Border Collie mix “Chef”. God knows he needed it as well! It was also suggested in the IC Diet that you do not eat anything processed or with preservatives and dyes. Once I cut out most of these things my Interstitial cystitis and Endometriosis no longer affected my body on a daily basis. My body felt like it was mine again. I felt like I was in control of my own health not subjected to my Doctors horrific diagnosis never to feel healthy again.Image

In my journey of using natural remedies and cutting out gluten, processed food, preservative’s and dye’s I realized that my lifestyle changed for the better. I began to wonder what it was exactly that I was putting in my body that made it so ill that I felt constant discomfort and pain on a daily basis. It occurred to me that I was in fact putting FDA approved poison into my body disguised as food. I felt betrayed. I knew that I needed to continue to put a stop to this in my own life and hopefully influence others to see the truth as well. I began to shop for fruits, veggies and honey at the local farmers market. I bought as little produce as I could at my local grocery stores. Not only do I support locals in their hard work but I knew that what I was eating was the real deal. I could taste and feel the difference. Not to mention it all lasted twice as long as anything in a Winn-Dixie or Rousse’s.

Over the course of my research I heard more and more about how our food is poison in pretty packaging. Once it was revealed to me that our chicken has arsenic in it I knew enough was enough. It was time to cut out more poison.  Living in New Orleans we are surrounded by water my boyfriend and his family frequently go fishing and crabbing and we end up cooking quite a bit of seafood. It was recently that I decided to move toward the pescatarian lifestyle.

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pes·ca·tar·i·an

noun \ˌpe-skə-ˈter-ē-ən\: one whose diet includes fish but no other meat.

Origin of PESCATARIAN: probably from Italian pesce fish (from Latin piscis) + English vegetarian First Known Use: 1993 (cited http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pescatarian)

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At first I was afraid of the commitment. What if I can’t do it cold “fish”? What if people think I am a fake pescatarian?! I knew no matter what I needed to start somewhere.  I have always admired my friend Willy B Mum for her healthy lifestyle and mindset. She is a vegetarian and has raised her son Miles Storm to be the same. I know I am not ready for such a big step to go straight vegetarian but I have decided to commit to meatless Monday’s. It will be our holiday to celebrate a healthy and happy lifestyle.  Everyone has to start somewhere. I decided to start with Mondays.