Mother’s Day

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Happy Mother’s Day, Grandma’s Day, Auntie Day, Special Person Day!

This is a hard post to write, not because it’s Mother’s Day (that is hard) but because I’m really letting stuff out. Letting things go. When I started my blogging journey, I wanted it to be authentic, not realizing how open I was really going to be.

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I haven’t really processed my momma’s death. It actually started to sink in a couple of months ago that she is actually gone. I have barely cried since she passed and have put on this face, this mask, that everything is okay. Last year, it was so fresh, so new. My family took my grandmother out to lunch and celebrated her. We acknowledged that my mom wasn’t there but kind of swept it under the rug.

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I have really started realizing that my mom is gone. It hurts so much. Sometimes the pain is unbearable. I wrote this note exactly one month ago from today…

There are times you miss your mom so much. The pain is unbearable. You have a choice… what do you do? Let it take over or hide it. Hide it in a deep, dark place thinking that it is helping you. To hide it. To suppress it. But it’s not. My therapist told me that covering it up with alcohol and drugs, makes you not actually feel it. To go through the grieving process. To fully accept what has happened. To feel for real. It’s been over a year and it’s the first time I have really cried since my mom has passed. Like the ugly cry where your face gets all scrunched up and you cry so hard you can’t breathe. The one where you can’t stop and snot is running down your face. The kind where you can’t catch your breath. Wishing that it wasn’t real but knowing that this it is. She isn’t coming back. Ever. Maybe in dreams or sunsets or feathers. But not physically here. Gone. Never coming back. Having to accept and understand that. Being the strong one in my family, I had to be the one. The one who took over and made sure everything was okay. Ran smoothly. Hide my Feelings. Be okay when I wasn’t. To put a half hazard smile on and greet people. To accept their words. To know your mom is dead. To accept that. It took a while, for me over a year. My mom, who was my best friend… my sister, my mother, my father, my friend …. my best friend. The beautiful soul she was. The bright light in many people’s day. My mom.

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I wrote that while I was ugly crying, not knowing what to do.  My emotions were everywhere and I didn’t know how to make it stop.  At that point, I didn’t even know if I was going to stop crying.

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All these beautiful memories… the pictures, her words. The love that comes through them.  That is where I find happiness and sadness all at the same time. It is hard to lose someone. It is hard to lose a family member.  It is hard to lose someone you are so close to. It is even harder to lose your person.

Xoxo

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Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Chocolate Avocado Mousse 

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Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone! I hope we are all enjoying the day and spreading love throughout. I made a healthier version of a chocolate mousse that feels decadent but is made from healthy fats.

 

What You Need:

1 Ripe Avocado

1/4 cup Cocoa Powder

1/2 cup Melted, Dark Chocolate Chips

1 Tablespoon Honey

1/4 cup Coconut Milk

Pinch of Salt

Raspberries or Strawberries

Whipped Cream

What To Do:

In a food processor, pulse all the ingredients until you get a creamy consistency. Put into prepared mini cups and put in the refrigerator until cold. I left mine in the refrigerator over night. When chilled, top with whipped cream and your favorite berry. You won’t believe how decadent and rich this tastes!

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Enjoy xoxo

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

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I am so happy to close the door to 2016. This year has been one of the most difficult years of my life. Between my mom’s sudden passing and dealing with the emotions with that to my uncle’s passing after he had made so many milestones since the accident. Being with my ex who had brain surgery to us making the difficult decision to not be together anymore. I can’t forget the lessons I learned or how strong I realized I was.

There were happy things that happened too. My cousin got married and two more of my cousins got engaged. The love and bond of my family becoming closer that united us more than we could ever imagine. To the “fierce five” as my aunt calls us who have been through more tragedies than a person should have to endure in a lifetime. To my amazing friends and family who have supported me throughout this difficult year has shown me that I can get through anything. To all my lovegfreelife friends who have helped make my blog successful with their support.

There will always be challenges in life but it is how you react to them that either makes or breaks a person. I have learned this past year to love more, to not hold grudges because you don’t know when it will be the last time you speak to them. Life is precious. It is short and can be taken away at anytime. As I go into 2017, I am choosing love to guide me. “Love is love is love is love”. Happy New Years! Xoxo

 

Celiac Awareness Day!

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When you look at this picture, do you see someone who is fighting a chronic illness and an autoimmune disease (multiple autoimmune diseases)? I don’t but I am.
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Today is National Celiac Awareness Day. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder where when gluten is ingested, it leads to damage in the small intestine. Your body thinks that there is a foreign invader in your intestine, so the villi gets attacked and damaged. Your body in response eventually struggles to absorb nutrients. Not only does it affect your intestines, Celiac Disease can encourage other autoimmune diseases to appear and other damaging problems. Anything from various cancers to thyroid problems to neurological manifestations.

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Researchers have found that Celiac Disease is hereditary and it affects 1 in 100 people worldwide. 2 1/2 million people live everyday with undiagnosed Celiac Disease. Without the proper tools, people who go too long without a diagnosis are putting themselves in extreme danger.

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When I was finally diagnosed (it used to take years to get a diagnosis) with Celiac Disease seven years ago, I didn’t take it seriously. I thought I just didn’t have to eat wheat. I would participate in happy hour after work and drink beer or eat gluten containing food because it was a holiday. I was naive and uneducated. I would often feel sick afterwards and sometimes that would last for days. My first major health episode came when I nearly died from an infected gallbladder. A few years after that, my appendix needed to come out. While the doctors were in there, they noticed that I had scar tissue wrapped around my stomach and my intestines. The scar tissue was removed but not without other complications. After that surgery, I began to do some research. I would have weird symptoms that never made sense like my hair and eyelashes would fall out, my joints hurt, I had brain fog, my stomach always felt bad, I always had a headache, and I overall felt like shit. I soon realized my “random symptoms” were really a part of having Celiac Disease. I found a book, Jennifer’s Way, by Jennifer Esposito that chronicled her life with her diagnosis with Celiac. After reading it, it changed my outlook on life. I didn’t know that ingesting gluten was actually killing me. I was doing irreversible damage to my body.

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I had the chance last year to meet Jennifer and thanked her for saving my life. I did a 360 in my life and cut gluten completely out. I am not going to lie and say it has been all peachy since then. I have suffered from multiple hospitalizations, new autoimmune disease diagnosis, and other health complications. But I am far better off health wise than I was seven years ago. And even though I sometimes struggle to get out of bed because I had a flare up, I know that I am trying my best to feed my body the medicine it needs through food. That’s the thing with an “invisible illness”. The person looks fine on the outside but is dealing with many debilitating things on the inside.

So if you take away anything from this, know that we are all fighting a battle that people don’t know about. Someone might “look fine” on the outside but is sick on the inside. So be kind to each other. Listen when someone says that they feel a certain way. You never know what battle they might be facing.

To find out more information on Celiac Disease, visit https://celiac.org.

Spaghetti Squash Margarita Pizza Boat

Spaghetti Squash Margarita Pizza Boat

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Spaghetti Squash is such a versatile vegetable.   You can use it in place of spaghetti and combine different combinations of vegetables, spices, or cheeses in.

Spaghetti Squash has an array of vitamins ranging from vitamin A to C, up to vitamin K. Manganese is an important mineral found in Spaghetti Squash. It aids in the production of healthy bones and tissues. It also increases your metabolism, while regulating blood sugar and the functioning of the nervous system. Spaghetti Squash also helps prevent or decrease inflammation! It contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats, which helps inflammation, arthritis, and brain function.

 

What You Need:

Spaghetti Squash

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Italian Spice Grinder

Tomato Sauce (You can use my recipe under Sunday Dinners on the blog)

Parmesan Cheese

Fresh Mozzarella

Gluten Free Pepperoni

Fresh Basil

What To Do:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and put a coating (little) of olive oil on a baking pan. Cut the Spaghetti Squash down the middle and scoop out the seeds.

Place face up on the baking pan and sprinkle with your seasonings. Top with a little bit of olive oil and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes (depending on the size of your squash). You want the squash to be undercooked.

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With a fork, scrape the inside of the squash to make “noodles”.

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In a bowl, mix the tomato sauce and a handful of parmesan cheese with the squash. Use as much as you would like. I added a little extra sauce since it will be baking in the oven again.

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Place the squash back into the boats and cook for another 10-15 minutes in the oven. In the meantime, slice your mozzarella and season with the Italian Grinder and chop up a few fresh basil leaves. Take the squash boats out and cover with mozzarella and basil.

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Put back in the oven for five minutes or until the mozzarella is melted and gooey.

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ENJOY! xoxo

Crispy Oven Baked French Fries

Crispy Oven Baked French Fries

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As much as possible, I like to make sure I am eating whole foods and not processed or frozen items. When in a pinch, you can find some healthier options, but with a quick and easy recipe to make crispy French Fries, you won’t need to reach for the freezer or the drive thru.

People often think that potatoes aren’t healthy. They can be if you eat them fried or drenched in unhealthy condiments. Potatoes are full of fiber, potassium, and vitamins B and C. They also contain a variety of phytonutrients that have antioxidant properties. Phytonutrients help prevent diseases and help maintain our body’s natural defenses.

 

What You Need:

Potatoes (you can use any type)

Olive Oil

Salt

What To Do:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees while prepping your potatoes. Slice your potatoes into rectangles with how thick you would like them. The thicker the slices, the longer they will need to cook and the softer they will be in the inside.

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Dry them with a paper towel. On a baking sheet, drizzle some olive oil, and place the potato slices on. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on and mix the flavors together.

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Put them into the oven for 20 minutes, flip and cook another 10. Remember the thicker the potato, the more they will need to cook. You want the outside to be nice and crispy!

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Aloha Spirit

Aloha Spirit

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This past trip to Hawaii has been very healing for me. The first time I went to Hawaii last year, my mom called me one day and inquired if I was going to return home since I looked so happy in my pictures. I didn’t want to go home. Hawaii is just a healing and Zen-like atmosphere. I feel very centered and peaceful while on the island. It also doesn’t hurt that my bestie lives there.

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Going this year was a different experience for me. I haven’t seen my best friend Nicole since Christmas and with her being in Hawaii, she was unable to attend my mother’s funeral. Our families are very close, so seeing her was a big deal.

My trip was very healing. There is something so serene and peaceful about the ocean water, going in it and listening to it. My aunt had sent me a very powerful book, Permission to Mourn: A New Way to Grieve by Tom Zumba. It is an easy read, but I read it throughout the trip, often rereading sections. That is how powerful it is. It really taught me to look at life differently, along with my mother’s passing. It is normal to feel all the different ranges of emotions I am feeling right now. Anger, sadness, depression, numbness, anxiety… the list goes on. The hardest emotion that I am feeling is the random feeling of happiness. I feel guilty when I experience happiness in something in my life, like traveling to Hawaii or being with my boyfriend. I feel like I shouldn’t be happy. The hardest part is getting over the guilt that I experience everyday.

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The food in Hawaii is AMAZING!!!! Even with all of my food allergies, I am able to eat many healthy and delicious things. I love eating fruit smoothie bowls, which I have to inquire about the different ingredients, with fresh fruit, gluten free granola, fresh shredded coconut, and local honey. My other favorite food is Poke which is fresh tuna mixed with different ingredients like Wasabi Poke with Scallions and Spicy Ahi Tuna Poke.

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Some of my favorite parts of my trip besides going to the beach were going SUP Paddle Boarding and hiking. We went to Maunawili Falls where we had to hike up a steep and rocky trail that was incredibly muddy (it had just rained for two days). Sometimes there was no trail, rocky waters to climb through, tons of stairs, and lots and lots of mud! We were covered! Once we got to the top, I jumped off a cliff into the amazing waterfall. It was beautiful!

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When we went SUP Paddle Boarding, I went paddle boarding while Nicole and Anthony went kayaking. This is my favorite place to paddle board. While I was off trying to not get stuck in a tree (very windy), I saw a large sea turtle (which I am obsessed with). I got so excited and it I saw him again later on. I felt like my mom was there with me since Colie and Anthony did not see him.

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This trip was amazing and very eye opening. It was such a healing and incredible experience. I still don’t understand why my mother was taken away so quickly and I might never know. I understand for whatever reason it was her time to go but reading the book helped me to understand that it is okay to question it. To question everything… to experience everything… every emotion, every thought, pain, and happiness. I am trying my best everyday. To take one day at a time.

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Mahalo