Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I woke up feeling a little down this morning and was wallowing for a little bit. (It’s okay to wallow. I give you permission. Just don’t let it carry on.) Then I thought to myself, it’s Monday and heeeyyyyyy if you’re going to write about being happy, then you better follow your own advice otherwise you will be a fraud. Nobody likes a fraud. Sometimes you have to get out of your own head for a little bit to give yourself some perspective. So I shifted my thinking and focused on the upcoming year: transitioning to a new career, lots of travel plans, the wedding I am in next October, and summer (my favorite season). Then I went for a run. I ran 2 miles! Think endorphins. Woo hoo! I attribute that to all the yoga I’ve been doing lately. I’m not sure what the correlation is but I’m sure there is one. This run was effortless and it was cold too so that is saying a lot. So here are this week’s tips to keep the happiness flowing:

1. Do what you love:  Think about how you feel when you are doing something that you love to do. You are creating good feelings and the more good feelings you put out into the universe the more you receive them. The trick is to keep the momentum going by doing what you love often. Remember that cooking class you took or that painting class? Or the paddle board lesson? If you discover something new that you love to do, find a way to do more of it.

2. Surround yourself with positive people: Have you ever noticed that it’s very easy to get sucked into negative thoughts and patterns when you are around negative people? Think about people who complain a lot or who blame others for their misfortune. It’s very easy to jump on that bandwagon and then you find yourself doing the same stuff leaving a trail of negativity in your wake. On the flip side, have you ever noticed your mood when you are around a person whose laugh or personality is infectious? It’s almost impossible to be in a bad mood around people like that. Find those people in your life and stick with them. If you don’t have anybody in your life like that, see number one. Join a group that does what you love to do. You will be surrounded by like-minded people who dig the same stuff you do and are happy to do it. Meetup is a great place to find your tribe.

3. Eat healthy food: This is a very important tip. I never realized how much food can affect your mood until I found out I had a sensitivity to gluten. I went on a raw diet for two weeks in May and I had so much energy and optimism from it, I couldn’t believe it. Healthy food gives your body all that it needs to function at it’s best. If you are eating crap, then you are going to feel like crap because your body is not being properly nourished and therefore not functioning like it should be. Your brain is part of your body right? Your brain controls your emotions so if it’s not working properly because it’s not getting the nutrients it needs, guess what happens? Yep, you not only physically feel like garbage but mentally you may feel depressed, moody, unmotivated and even angry. I will write more on this subject in future posts and about my sensitivity to gluten. If eating healthy is foreign to you, just try one new healthy thing to incorporate into your day. You can start with lemon water first thing in the morning and then slowly add a new healthy food every week or even every month.


 

Speaking of healthy food. Last night I made a healthy version of shepherd’s pie. I love to cook and one of my favorite things to do is make different versions of classic dishes or make up dishes from what I have on hand. I had some ingredients left over from the Purple Dragon share and I had to use them so this is what I came up with:

IMG_0130A Twist on Shepherd’s Pie

1 lb ground beef (grass-fed beef if you can get it)
olive oil
1 onion diced
3-4 carrots chopped
6 oz. baby portobello mushrooms or any mushrooms you like, sliced
1 bunch of kale stems removed or spinach
various fresh herbs like parsley, thyme and/or rosemary, chopped
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. corn starch
1/4 c. water
1 rutabaga
2 small or 1 large acorn squash
2 tbsp. butter
a splash of milk
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Carefully cut the acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash flesh side down in a baking pan and fill the pan with about an inch of water. Place the pan in the oven and roast the squash for about 45 minutes or until it’s easily pierced with a fork. The outer flesh will turn a golden brown when it’s done. Take out of the oven and let cool. While the squash is cooking, peel and dice the rutabaga and place in a pot of cold water. Bring the pot to boil and cook the rutabaga until it’s very tender. You want it soft enough to be pureed in the food processor. This can take awhile as rutabaga is very tough. After a half hour, check the rutabaga. When it’s done, drain and set aside.

In a large skillet over high heat, drizzle the olive oil. When the oil is hot, carefully place the ground beef in the skillet being careful not to splatter the oil on you. Break up the beef so it browns evenly. When that is done, drain the excess fat from the pan and put the beef in a bowl and set aside. Add more olive oil if necessary and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots. Saute for a few minutes until they soften and add the mushrooms. Salt and pepper this mixture and add the herbs. Saute until the mushrooms have browned. Add the kale or spinach and saute until wilted. If using the kale, cook a few minutes longer as this is tougher than spinach. Add salt and pepper to taste. At this point add the Worcestershire sauce. Combine the corn starch and water together and whisk until the cornstarch has fully dissolved. Add this mixture to the beef mixture and stir to combine. This should make a sauce that will thicken as it cooks. If you want more sauce add more Worcestershire sauce and cornstarch and water mixture until you get the desired consistency. Take the beef mixture off the heat and put in 9 x 13 casserole dish or baking pan.

Once the acorn squash has cooled, scoop out the flesh using a spoon and put it into a food processor. Add the rutabaga. Add the butter, milk and salt and pepper to taste and turn the processor on. Keep it going until the mixture is smooth. You may need to add more milk, if it’s too thick. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Spread this mixture over the beef mixture and smooth it with a spatula. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for about a half hour uncovered until the top is slightly browned. Let it cool slightly before cutting into it. You can change this recipe up so many different ways and add any veggies into the mixture you like. You can omit the beef for a vegetarian version and you can puree any root vegetable and use that as the topping. Enjoy!

 

Question of the day: What will you today to keep or start the happiness flowing?