Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Freedom in Being Vulnerable

A few weeks ago, I saw someone posted a YouTube video on Facebook by Brené Brown, called “the Power of Vulnerability.” I didn’t click on it. A few weeks ago, during one of our meetings, one of my supervisees recommended I watch the same video. I didn’t watch it. Today, one of my clients brought it up in session, and told me about the impact it had for her. I finally watched it.

Isn’t it telling that I heard the word “vulnerability” and avoided it? I think so many of us do that. It’s a frightening word because we equate it with pain, hurt, weakness, risk. But is that what it truly means? Logically, I think we can understand that’s not the case, because when we are vulnerable, we are also connected, joyful, and faced with infinite possibilities. But we have practiced the idea that vulnerability is negative for so long, that it became so ingrained to point it is now our automatic and we don’t even notice when we avoid it. And we miss out. 

This video was a reminder to me that if we shut down our vulnerability to avoid pain, we are also shutting down our vulnerability to create meaningful relationships (with others AND OURSELVES), fulfillment, enjoyment… And it’s as though there’s a part of us saying that avoiding pain has more value than living a fulfilling life. Think about that….

Avoiding pain has more value than living a fulfilling life

If that’s true, then it means we are merely surviving rather than living. I choose to give my life more meaning than survival. Survival implies that everyone and everything is out there to hurt us, that everything is a constant fight, and, as a result, we adopt a “me vs. the world” mentality. It breeds adversity and competition. That sounds absolutely exhausting to me. It makes me think of learning a new dance – I can try to perfectly perform a choreography and beat myself up every time I “mess up,” fight with and blame my dance partner, or I can surrender to the rhythm and flow with the music. Which one sounds more enjoyable?

Brené Brown talked about some ways in which we defend against vulnerability.

– We make the uncertain certain. She talked about how we approach religion and politics, as if our personal beliefs and feelings are facts. I will add to that and say that, when we do that, instead of sharing our identity and experiences with others, we are more concerned about being right. Beliefs are not facts. Feelings are not facts. Check in with your perceptions and see how they open you up to some possibilities and close you off to others. Use that information to make choices that grant you a fulfilling life.

– We undermine the impact we have on others. Sometimes we morph into bulldozers and can become very destructive to others. And the same is true on the positive end of the spectrum – we minimize the positive effect we have on others and might become less inspired to contribute. Everything you do affects something or someone. You always matter. 

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I love how she concluded that we have to raise the next generation with the mentality that humans are imperfect but that’s perfect in itself. We are perfect in our imperfections and we will always be “enough” and  worthy of love.

I invite you to watch this TED talk and think about the relationship you have with yourself and see how it translates to your other relationships. Think about the personal meaning you give to vulnerability and practice that today. See how you shift and how your relationships shift, as well. 

“When I am vulnerable, I am alive.”

 

 

 

 

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***GIVEAWAY CONTEST***

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I am holding a GIVEAWAY this week! 

I will draw a *WINNER* from the list of participating individuals on 10/18/13 at 6pm! 

What will you win? It depends where you live! If you are not within driving distance, I will mail a batch of delicious roasted coconut marshmallows! (This is only valid for those who live in the U.S.).

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If you live within driving distance, you get to pick ANY recipe listed on The Edible Complex!

And what do you have to do to WIN?

1- Like my Facebook page

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2- Follow The Edible Complex via e-mail

OR

3- Pin one (or more!) of The Edible Complex’s posts on Pinterest

Share this awesome opportunity with your loved ones!

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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Fall is here and naturally I had to go out and buy a pumpkin yesterday! It was perfect! Everyone got treats our of it (except the cat…he’s more of a tuna kinda guy)! I cut the top off the pumpkin and saved all the seeds, and then gave the dogs some of the fibers and pumpkin chunks. They loved it! I gave the bunnies the entire pumpkin… they are still trying to figure it out.  

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Do you see the teeth marks? I foresee a thoroughly destroyed pumpkin!

And for the humans, I made….

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

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PREHEAT OVEN TO 325F

Tray: Baking sheet

Ingredients:

* Fresh pumpkin seeds

* Salt

* Olive Oil Cooking Spray

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Preparation: Rinse the pumpkin seeds under cold water in a strainer. Carefully  separate the pulp and strings, which is easiest soon after the seeds are removed from the pumpkin.

Coat the baking sheet with a thin layer of olive oil cooking spray and scatter the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on it. Spray another thin layer of olive oil cooking spray over the seeds. Sprinkle with salt.

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Bake for 25-30 minutes and stir the seeds every 10 minutes. Make sure they always lay in a single layer in order for them to roast evenly.

Allow to cool and store in an air tight container. 

These go for $7-$8 / lb at the store and I got the entire pumpkin for $5…worth it! So for $5 I made 2 bunnies, 3 dogs, and 2 humans happy. These are such a yummy snack – they taste like popcorn, but pumpkin seeds have so many more health benefits

Enjoy!

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Puppy Apple Slices

Dog Treat Saturday! The pups are so good and patient throughout the week when I’m running around being an adult…you know…having a job, running errands, maintaining the house…I think it’s only fair to reward them on Saturdays! Last week I made delicious Peanut Butter Cookies. But, it’s very common for dogs to have wheat intolerance, so I thought I do try something simple and easily tolerated by dogs even in the strictest of diets!

Cinnamon Apple Slices 

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PREHEAT OVEN 350F

Line a baking sheet with wax paper

Ingredients:

* 2 apples

* 1/2 cup – lemon juice

* 2 cups – water

* 4 teaspoons – cinnamon 

Preparation: Combine lemon juice and water in a medium bowl and set aside. 

Peel, core, and slice apples. Place slices in  lemon juice/water bath and let them soak for 10 minutes.

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Scatter the slices on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon.

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Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Turn oven off but leave apple slices in it for an additional 10 minutes.

Place baking sheet on a wire rack and allow apple slices to completely cool.

Tips and Tricks

– Make sure you remove all apple seeds. They contain cyanide and are poisonous to dogs.

– You can substitute cinnamon with ginger powder. I chose cinnamon because it has positive health benefits for dogs, like improving their brain function (i.e., memory and attention), helping regulate blood sugar, and boosting body’s ability to use insulin. Cinnamon has also been found to have antifungal properties (i.e., combats Candida, which is the fungus responsible for causing yeast infections). This is extra important for dogs who suffer from allergies, because this makes them more prone to yeast infections. In fact, studies found that yeast infections are commonly resistant to medication but not to cinnamon!

Woof!

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Family Flan

Flan! This is a family recipe… 

I remember my grandmother made this on special occasions or on Sundays when we all went over to her house to have lunch together as a family. When I eat this flan, I think back to my childhood and I can’t help but feel joy. It makes me miss my grandmother like nothing else, but overall, it just makes me connect with my happiest memories with her.

My aunt and mom have made this flan ever since my grandmother passed, and even I have made it…but I have to say it doesn’t taste like the one my grandmother made. The recipe is the same, but I think there’s a special touch that grandmothers add to any recipe to it tastes extra delicious!

 

FLAN

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PREHEAT OVEN TO 350F

Tray – Any size (round, square, bundt, individual portions)

 

Ingredients:

* 1 14 oz. can – condensed milk

* 1 14 oz. can – milk (use condensed milk can to measure milk)

* 3 – large eggs

* 1 tablespoon – cornstarch

* 1 teaspoon – vanilla extract

* 15 tablespoons – confectioner’s sugar

 

Preparation:  Using a blender, blend condensed milk, milk, eggs, cornstarch, and vanilla extract for 3 minutes

Using a shallow pan, caramelize confectioner’s sugar on low heat.

Pour caramelized sugar into chosen tray, and then pour flan mixture over it.

Pour water in a larger tray than the one you are using for the flan, and place the flan tray into the water (bain-marie/double-boiler style…) Refer to photo below for example:

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(Photo credit: www. smittenkitchen.com)

Bake for about 40 minutes or until flan mixture begins to become golden.

Refrigerate overnight.

Once refrigerated, flip it onto a serving platter.

Tips and Tricks:

– Typically, this recipe calls for white sugar, but I’ve found that confectioner’s sugar is easier to caramelize because it’s thinner. It does not alter the taste.

– There is such a thing as over-caramelizing the sugar. If it is over done, it will taste bitter. It should be a light golden color…almost like a honey color. If it’s too brown/dark, you’ve overdone it. 

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(photo credit: http://www.cheffeddy.com)

– Do not attempt to flip flan onto a serving tray while it’s still warm/hot, as it will break. You will have better success at this if it’s cold. Patience will get you a beautiful-looking flan!

Enjoy!

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Sharklicious

This isn’t so much a recipe but more of a “let me share this amazing experience with you” kind of thing. Almost one year ago, one of my best friends and should-be-sister, Kelly, asked me to bake a cake for her son’s first birthday. The theme I picked was “shark” and here’s why… when Kelly was pregnant, she shared her ultra sound with me. Please understand I know absolutely nothing about babies and children, so in my sweet innocence, I thought the baby was the dark space rather than the gray space on the ultrasound photo. I proudly exclaimed, “He’s a shark!!!” 

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Can you see the shark I saw? (Kelly gave me permission to post this!)

So that’s how Kelly’s boy, Evan, became a shark, and it was only fitting that his first birthday theme should be exactly that! 

The internet is a wonderful place when one needs inspiration. I found a lot of ideas of “ocean-themed” foods just by searching Google and Pinterest. 

The first idea I had was to make little individual aquariums for the kids. I made clear jello and added one drop of blue food coloring so it looked like water. I added jelly beans to the bottom as “gravel” and a swedish fish gummy sticking out, as if it were jumping out of the water. The kids loved it!

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I also made little oysters out of sugar-free cookies (think healthier and no sugar-highs!). I spread a little bit of strawberry icing inside the “oysters” and yogurt-covered raisins to pose as pearls. And for a final, cute touch – little eyes!

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It wouldn’t be a party without cupcakes. I made vanilla cupcakes and sprinkled graham cracker dust over them to make it look like sand. I made little turtles out of gummies on half the cupcakes and put a gummy starfish under a tiny umbrella on the other half. Very beachy!

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And once again, keeping in mind all the sugary treats the kids would eat, I balanced it out with octopus hot dogs (a.k.a., dogtopus). I added little black eyes using black food coloring and a toothpick.

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And for the final masterpiece… a made a two-tier cake with a majestic shark as the cake topper! This was only my second time working with fondant, so it cracked. The shark I made was way too heavy for the fondant and I also rolled it too thick. But I still think it turned out great! I shaped the shark with rice krispy treats and covered it with fondant/gum paste mixture. I colored it silvery-gray using edible chalk. So the shark was 100% edible! 

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If I had a do-over, I would have made the cake out of buttercream…it would have looked more like wavy water and wouldn’t have cracked like the fondant did. Ah, living and learning!

And after all was said and done, this was all that was leftover:

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I had so much fun preparing all the food! This was an amazing challenge! 

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Pavlova Perfection

Today we bake the elegant Pavlova, named after Russian Ballerina Anna Pavlova! This dessert is most popular in Australia and New Zealand… I honestly have not heard about it before now. It’s technically a summer dessert because of its lightness, fluffiness, and fruitiness. And technically it’s autumn already, but I’m a Florida girl and since Florida has only three kinds of weather (Hot, Humid, Rainy), this dessert is appropriate year-round! I ran into this delicious Pavlova recipe but added my own touch to a few things. 

Pavlova

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Unlike the ballet choreographies Anna Pavlova performed, this recipe is super easy! Ready?

PREHEAT OVEN TO 250F

Tray: Baking Sheet covered with parchment paper

For the meringue:

* 6 egg whites 
* 1 teaspoon – cream of tartar
* 1/4 teaspoon – salt
* 1 1/4 cups – white sugar

For the fruit jam

* 10 ounces – fresh berries of your choice (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)

* 2 tablespoons – white sugar

* 2 teaspoons – cornstarch

* 1/2 cup – water

Pavlova Preparation: Using an electric mixer set to medium and a whisk attachment,  whisk together the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt for 3 minutes. Let the mixer keep running and add in the sugar, a spoonful at a time. Once the meringue is thick and can form stiff peaks you’re done (about 6 minutes total).

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Spoon on big dollops of meringue onto prepared baking sheet and press the centers to form little bowls (to hold the jam later).

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At the insistence of the boy, I also made one very large Pavlova just for fun! 

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Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Halfway through baking (at about 40 minutes) be sure to rotate the pan(s) so that they bake evenly.

Jam Preparation: In a small saucepan, combine berries, 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to a boil, and continue boiling for about 5 minutes, or until sauce is thick. Set sauce aside and allow it to completely cool. The Jam will thicken as it cools.

Assembly: Once everything is cool, top the Pavlovas with the berry jam. You can add a mint leaf for garnish. I made my Pavlova using raspberries because 1) I had some leftovers from my Cathartic Cheesecake recipe and 2) they were on sale 2 for $5!

I added some lemon peel sprinkles on the large Pavlova. I also had to bake for longer (about 2 hours as opposed to an hour and 20 minutes). 

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The neat thing about this recipe is that it looks much more complicated and fancy than it actually is, so it’s bound to impress people! Oh, and it’s absolutely decadent!

Enjoy!

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