This delicious herb bread, made with a heritage grain, spelt, is delicious and nourishing. Making diet changes, I have eaten less bread...my husband Pavel (boyfriend at the time) decided he still needed some bread. So, we introduced this hearty grain--sprouted for optimal digestibility and nutrient absorption. AND, did you know, spelt like many other heritage grains, contains less gluten! Enjoy! Ingredients 1 cup warm water 1 Tsbp. yeast 2 Tbsp. olive oil 1 Tbsp. honey 3 cups sprouted spelt flour 1 tsp salt 1 tsp dried basil 1 tsp dried oregano 2 cloves garlic (minced) Instructions Add the water and honey to a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it sit for ten minutes. After ten minutes, it should be foamy. If the mixture doesn't foam, discard - you need new yeast. Add olive oil, 2 cups flour, and the salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until a loose dough forms. Add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, kneading between each addition, until a smooth, springy dough forms. It should be quite smooth and not really sticky. If you're using a stand mixer, use the dough attachment for this. Place the dough into a large greased bowl and cover with a tea towel or large plate. Let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for one hour, or until doubled in size. This is called proofing. When the dough has risen, punch it down gently and place it into a parchment-lined baking sheet for a round loaf or well greased loaf pan, tucking any untidy ends underneath. Cover with a tea towel and place the loaf into a warm place to rise again for half an hour longer. While it's rising, heat your oven to 350F. Bake the bread for about 45 minutes, or until golden, and it sounds hollow when tapped. Optional: spritz with water throughout baking time to produce a heartier crust. Remove from the pan and cool for ten minutes on a rack before cutting. Store the bread in a sealed container for up to three days, or freeze for up to a month.
Wrapping up this mini-series on rest, I am going to share with you one last tool and benefit for establishing habits of rest in your lifestyle. Focus, our final topic, allows you to accomplish so much more in life that actually equips you to be less worn out and enjoy more peace and rejuvenation. Yes, stick with me. While accomplishing more, you can experience less stress and more peace-- which results in greater rest. Focus is a dynamic concept that is defined as “a state or condition permitting clear perception or understanding” and “central point, or point of concentration”. With this in mind, think about these two questions, “Do you feel focused?” and “What is your focus?” So often in our modern world there are so many activities in which to partake, so many places to be, people to see and tasks to be done. All the while, social media and other such things grab our attention and distract us from the task or thought at hand. This is not a focused lifestyle, but rather a scattered and sometimes chaotic one; diluted, rather than rich. Can you relate? Multi-tasking is one “weed” in our lifestyle that can disguise itself as productivity. However, studies continually confirm that it is an inefficient use of our time and even damaging to our brain and IQ. It takes practice and discipline to focus on one thing at a time (or a few, intentionally defined things) on a daily basis, as well as the big picture of your life purpose. If you do not feel focused and you aren’t certain what your focus is, here are a couple exercises to help: Define your Focus--The Big Picture What would your preferred lifestyle look like 5, 10, and 15 years from now? Think values and purpose. How do you invest your time daily, and what are you accomplishing as a whole? Take time to write these things out. Evaluate your current lifestyle. How does it compare to your preferred? What are you doing now that is building towards that preferred lifestyle? What are the distractions that pull you in a different direction? What can you change in the next 1-3 years to redirect yourself, your time and energy toward that preferred lifestyle? Feel Focused-- The Daily Details a. Write down and evaluate the “open boxes” in your life. Responsibilities, activities, unfinished projects you are doing or planning to do. What are the things that take your attention and time throughout your day. b. Once you have identified these things, first label them “essential” (meaning you can’t change this commitment) and “non-essential” (something you can change and let go of if desired.) Then, label them “enriching” or “draining”. c. Cut things out. If anything gets labeled “non-essential” AND “draining” determine how you can let go of this responsibility. If anything is “non-essential” BUT “enriching,'' still consider if this is a season to let it go so that you can have more time and energy for other things, such as those that are BOTH essential and enriching at this time. I have found these exercises incredibly beneficial in my life! Trust me, I have struggled with being overcommitted and spread thin with my responsibilities. I didn’t feel focused and I struggled to identify my focus. However, when I took the time to identify vision AND actively cut out things that didn’t need to be in my life (temporarily or permanently), I experienced the benefits of productivity, rest, and peace. And it is certainly something I continually have to come back to, refocus and maintain. I must say, the “art of saying no,” becomes SO much easier and tactful when you have a tangible, clearly defined reason for it. I hope this series of rest has been enriching to you. I would love to hear how you’ve implemented these tips on rest or some of your own successful ideas to maintain rest in your life! If you would like to learn more about focus in the area of your purpose and long-term vision, look forward to my upcoming articles on Purpose.    https://news.stanford.edu/news/2009/august24/multitask-research-study-082409.html
This last month I have been exploring lots of new recipes from Pearl Barrett and Serene Allison’s “Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook.” This drumstick dish is adapted from one of their originals “Little Sweet Little spicy Drumsticks”. Their cookbooks have been a great resource for creative and delicious recipes. I do, however, find myself making some modifications to simplify and add nutritional value. For this recipe, I substituted monk fruit for the Trim Healthy Mama sweeteners which consist of stevia, xylitol, and erythritol. If you recall from my series “How Sweet is the Sweet”, stevia rates high on my natural sweetener list when in an unprocessed form. It should be green and powdered. Or a liquid in its tincture form, extracted by alcohol with no additives. The powdered stevia is best for cooking but harder to come by. Xylitol and erythritol are sugar alcohols that are quite processed from their natural whole form, however, studies so far have only revealed the health benefits of these sweeteners. My preference though is to stick with ingredients closer to their whole form. After wading through the pros and cons of stevia, xylitol, and erythritol, I opt for monk fruit! An antioxidant rich low-glycemic sweetener! You don’t need much in a recipe as it is very sweet. Also, this recipe called for chili powder or chipotle powder. Having neither on hand, I simply increased the garlic, cumin, and paprika, and added in oregano and onion powder--all the main ingredients in chili powder. So, if you are ever out of an ingredient (Ex. spice, spice mix.) discover how you can substitute something else for it or make it yourself. I paired this dish with some roasted radish fries and fresh tomatoes. Ingredients: 4 to 6 pounds chicken drumsticks 4 Tbsp. butter melted ¼ tsp. Monk fruit 2 Tbsp. Garlic powder 2 Tbsp. paprika 1 ½ Tbsp. Cumin 1 tsp onion powder 1 tsp. oregano 1 ½ tsp. Mineral salt ¼ to ½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional for additional heat Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 F Pierce each drumstick several times with a sharp knife, pulling downward to create holes in the chicken skin and meat so the flavors can cr eep in. Mix together the melted butter, monk fruit, and all the seasoning in a bowl. (It will become a paste) Dip each drumstick into the paste, then use our hands to smear it all over the chicken, making each piece is well coated with the spice mixture. This will be messy but fun! If it is clumpy, don't worry, it will melt in the hot oven. Place the drumsticks on 2 shallow glass 13 9 inch baking dishes. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, turning the pieces a couple times. At the end of cooking, turn the oven to high broil and crisp the top of the drumsticks even more for a few minutes. (They should be browned, but not burned, so keep an eye on them while you broil.)
Lacto-fermented vegetables are AMAZING for your digestion as they help feed all your good bacteria. You can lacto-ferment basically any veggie—cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, herbs....the possibilities are endless. Sauerkraut Ingredients: 1 Medium cabbage 2 Tbsp. Himalayn salt Spring or filtered water (Avoid chlorinated town/city water.) Directions: Chop cabbage and place into a bowl. Add Himalayan salt. Beat in a bowl for about 2 minutes to make the cabbage “sweat”. (I like to use the bottom of a glass mason jar to pound against the cabbage.) Basically you are breaking down the cells of the cabbage, causing it to release water—all necessary for the fermentation. Pack tightly into a half gallon mason jar—or two quarts. Cover with water. Close with a tight lid. Let sit at room temperature. “Burp” your cabbage every 24-36 hours by releasing the lid and pushing down on the cabbage to release air bubbles. If necessary add more water to keep the cabbage covered. After 1-2 weeks your cabbage will be ready. Refrigerate and enjoy 1-2 Tbsp. daily at the beginning of a meal for optimal benefits. Tip #1: Use the outside cabbage leaf that you would normally discard to top of the cabbage in the jar. This helps keep your cabbage immersed under the water! #Tip 2: After 1 week, taste your cabbage to see if it is ready! The temperature of your home will definitely cause the fermentation speed to differ. If you want it more tangy, let it go another 3-7 days.
Thriving Health Recipe: Bone Broth How are you doing? Staying healthy, strong, active, yet quarantined? This is a very hard and challenging season for so many reasons. Unprecedented challenges combat our regular routine. As I daily recover from change, I am learning that it is definitely a time of great opportunity. Opportunity to reset priorities and enjoy investing my time differently--even if only for a short season. For many, it is a time to prioritize health! What have you been doing to maximize your health and support your immune system? Bone broth is a super food full of minerals, electrolytes, and healing proteins-- collagen and gelatin, and 19 essential amino acids. Along with boosting the immune system, bone broth is recommended for joint health (arthritis) and digestive health (leaky gut, food allergies and intolerances) as well as to improve the health of our hair, skin, and nails! Bone broth is super easy and even flexible! You can use different cuts of bone and enjoy flavor and benefits. The more marrow bones you use or chicken feet (yes, I did type chicken feet) the thicker your bone broth will turn out. This means there is more collagen and gelatin. Feel free to also mix up the veggies. I often use celery, lemons or even apples! Ingredients: 4 pounds beef bones or chicken carcass (preferably partial marrow bones or add in 4-6 chicken feet) 2 medium unpeeled carrots 1 medium onion 4 cloves garlic 2 tablespoon cider vinegar 6-quart (or larger) stockpot or a large slow cooker Directions: Fill the stock pot or slow cooker with ingredients. Add water to 1 inch of the brim. Cover the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to a very low simmer and cook with 12 hours but up to 48 hours on the stovetop. The longer you simmer it, the better your broth will be. Add more water if necessary to ensure bones and vegetables are fully submerged. Alternately, you can cook the broth in a slow cooker on low for the same amount of time. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool slightly. Strain broth using a fine-mesh sieve and discard bones and vegetables. Use immediately for soups or drinking or cool and refrigerate.
Does it seem like our world has turned upside down? This last week things have seemed to erupt in the U.S.--closed schools, canceled meetings, grocery stores being cleaned out, restaurants closing. If you weren’t stocking up on food for the Coronavirus, maybe you are now stocking up on food to survive the wave of panic. It’s hard to not react...especially in the face of having no toilet paper. In times like this, I am confident we can all get creative. There is definitely a balance between overreacting and prepared versus . I am supporting my clients and want to likewise support you with tips to boost your immune system. You can be prepared as much as possible to guard against this offensive virus, as well as the flu and common colds still lingering in this viral season. Symptoms First, a quick review of the common symptoms of COVID-19. They are much like the flu or cold. Here is an excerpt from the World Health Organization, “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is characterized by mild symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, and fever. Illness can be more severe for some people and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and people with other medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), may be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill.” It is suggested that if you are showing any of the above signs that you limit your contact with people for up to two weeks...and work on boosting your immune system! Preventative Hand washing is huge (as long as you don’t wash them raw!) This can kill off unwanted germs before we have to deal with them internally. But that is just the first step. There are so many immune boosting vitamins, minerals and essential oils as well as antiviral herbs that we can take! What if instead of fearing the virus, we took the approach to optimize our health, and thus narrow the chance of illness. So, whether you are in top health, have a current medical condition or are elderly, the following recommendations are great for you! Remove the stressors: stress causes our immune system to be weakened. Stress comes in the form of anxiety, work overload, dehydration, sleep deprivation AND consuming sugar and processed food. It is much easier to simply reach for more hand sanitizer, but to take action with these “bigger picture” lifestyle recommendations, you will give your immune system a HUGE head start to fight any unwanted infections. Strengthen the defenses: This second strategy is powerful after removing the stressors--otherwise you are fighting against yourself. -Vitamin D: The best source of Vitamin D is the sun! It’s still hard to get enough though. Biotics brand is my go to for liquid Vitamin D. You can supplement with 2,000 IUs daily or up to 50,000 IUs weekly under your doctor's supervision. Cod liver oil or beef and chicken liver are two great food sources! -Vitamin C: Supplement with ascorbic acid or a vitamin C complex. Lemons and oranges are packed with Vitamin C. Start by adding organic lemon juice (1-2Tbsp.) or lemon essential oil (2 drops) to your water 2-4 times daily. -Zinc: Supplement with liquid or tablets. My favorite food sources include grass-fed beef, pumpkin seeds and raw milk! -Bone Broth: You can purchase organic bone broth or make your own by simmering marrow bones in a stockpot. (Be sure to add a few Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar w/ water to help pull the nutrients from the bones.) Additional support: I am lathering myself with essential oils these days! Young Living is my go to company. Thieves, Lemon, Tea Tree, Purification, and Raven are some of the oils I am using to guard against ALL viruses. I am also stocking up on antiviral herbs such as astragalus and mushrooms such as cordyceps. That is a LOT of info in a few paragraphs. If you need additional support on brands and dosage, please reach out to me! I am offering consultations via phone video call and can direct ship supplements to you. Stay tuned for an upcoming online class to dive deeper into immune health with food, herbs, and essential oils. https://www.who.int/ The information provided above does not constitute medical advice; nor is it intended to diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Balsamic Chicken and Brussel Sprouts -RESTART Approved
This one pot meal is a winner for any season or occasion! I served it for the first time at one of my RESTART class reunions--a very fun dinner of RESTART meals where graduates reunite. Everyone expressed how much they enjoyed this dish. As a part of my nutritious lifestyle, I love to build a meal with 2-3 low-glycemic carbohydrates, 1 fat, and 1 protein. Can you find those components in the recipe below? My protein comes from chicken/walnuts, fat from the coconut oil/walnuts, and the carbohydrates are in the form of brussel sprouts and mushrooms. Serves 2 10 oz cooked shredded chicken 1 cup brussel sprouts (halved) 1 cup baby bella mushrooms (quartered) 2 Tbsp. coconut oil ⅓ cup chopped walnuts 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar 1 tsp. Italian seasoning 2 cloves garlic 1 tsp. himalayan salt fresh ground pepper Instructions: In a medium sized frying pan, saute your brussel sprouts in coconut oil on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add in your mushrooms and cook for about another 4-5 minutes until mushrooms are cooked through. Add in your cooked, shredded chicken and chopped walnuts and toss until hot. Remove from the heat. In a small bowl, whisk together your vinegar and seasonings until smooth. Pour over the chicken mixture and toss until evenly coated. Enjoy!
Soup is the comfort food of the winter season and this recipe definitely hit the spot when served to a group of my community friends this last week. It was an experiment that went well as I combined and modified other recipes. The secret ingredient is homemade meat and vegetable stock--rather than store bought. I made a rich chicken stock with carrots, onions, garlic, celery, and lemon. (Lemon was just because I had it in my fridge to add. So why not?! It added a very mild tang that is a nice hidden undertone in this soup...no one knew!) The not-so-secret but very key ingredient is bacon. This was a last minute decision as I stood in the grocery store evaluating my pork options. I didn’t make it to one of my local farmers for their ethically raised ham with cleaner processing ingredients. Now I faced buying a ham with loads of added ingredients that I didn’t care to ingest--or serve to my guests. Bacon was the safe route to go! I grabbed a packet of the uncured bacon and was thankful for it’s simplicity. It was a delicious addition to this soup as I put half of the pack in the soup and reserved the rest for a topping. Ingredients: 1 lb uncured bacon 2 large yellow onions, diced 6 cloves garlic, finely minced 6 medium carrots, diced into bite-sized pieces 6 stalks of celery, diced 26 oz. dried split green peas, rinsed 16 cups ham and vegetable stock or chicken and vegetable stock* 2 bay leaves 1 tsp. smoked paprika 3 tsp. parsley salt and pepper, to taste Tbsp. butter Instructions: Cook bacon in the oven or on the stove top until lightly crisp. (It will crisp more as it cools.) Save drippings. Then crumble and set aside ½ of bacon. In a large soup pot, saute the onions in butter over medium heat until translucent (about 4-5 minutes). Add garlic and cook another minute (being careful to not let it get too dark). Add the peas, carrots, and celery. Add the stock, bay leaves, paprika, parsley and salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring often. Add ½ of cooked bacon and optional chicken or ham from homemade stock and bacon drippings. Simmer for another 30 minutes. If needed, add additional salt and pepper. Serve the soup hot, topped with crumbled bacon.
With the launching of this new year, I shared with you 5 habits I plan to personally practice for 2020. Now it is time to reflect on and plan for Thriving Health’s growth. Within this article I want to share with you how 2019’s resolutions unfolded. Next time, I’ll fill you in on exciting goals for 2020. (You can peak back at my January 2019 Alfred Sun article or website blog to see my original resolutions and how they evolved.) ✔Expanded the RESTART* program: In addition to Alfred, I taught RESTART in two new locations--Wellsville and Howard. This was wonderful to reach new communities! I also added an element to the program; participants created and sampled RESTART recipes each week. Everyone loved the variety of new foods that this provided. It inspired creativity and made class that much more fun. ✔Published more live videos at Facebook.com/thrivinghealthNY: Many of you joined me in my kitchen as I shared nutrition tips and recipe demos. Then, once I moved to Kristina and Kelby Snyder’s homestead, Kristina joined the videos! We talked about gardening, nutrition, cooking, fermenting veggies, and more! This collaboration inspired us to plan and launch our new blog, Real Life with Maria and Kristina! ✔Grew “Nutrition in a Nutshell”: In addition to writing more articles in the Alfred Sun on various nutrition concepts, I produced bi-weekly recipes and nutrition tips. Not only did this provide you with more practical resources, but it also got me recording more of my recipes! ✔ Increased my focus on family health: While I did not offer classes in this area, I was able to take continuing education classes and began seeing more pediatric and prenatal clients. It definitely affirmed that family health, particularly women’s health and fertility, is my passion! I am so excited to continue to grow in this area. ✔Hosted “Nourishing our Family” and “How to Conquer the Craving” classes: These are two classes which I produced and taught in 2018. I taught “Nourishing our Family” in Howard and “How to Conquer the Craving in Wellsville”...then, in 2019, I went to Bolivia and taught them both multiple times! I am so thankful to have these classes as a resource. ✔Taught nutrition in Bolivia: Along with the above two workshops, I was able to work with a children’s home in Cochabamba, Bolivia to implement new menus and healthy habits for their home. It was such a rewarding trip! ✔Launched my “Meal Prep Workshop”: This workshop was supported by Alfred’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” event and was hosted by the Rogue Carrot. Not only did I equip fifteen participants with principles to help them meal prep for their specific lifestyle, but I learned a lot about my own meal prepping techniques. ✔ Hosted a “Holiday Dessert Party”: This was a dynamic and delicious evening for the community. This event was held at the Terra Cotta Coffeehouse, where my guests enjoyed five courses of nourishing desserts, food trivia, door prizes and a relaxing environment to visit. Each guest also took home a recipe book with the evenings’ menu. It was such a joy to host! Following the event, the feedback was so positive AND my guests have continued to share with me how they are making the recipes at home. ✔Launched “Kid’s Restart”: This program was inspired by a young man--about 10 years old--who was eager to go through the adult “RESTART” program! So, I created a Restart for him, and launched it at the Alfred Box of Books Library. Along with the kids and parents, I also had so much fun! This 3-week class covered the topics of real food, hydration, and cooking skills. Included in each week’s lesson, the kids played educational games and made yummy snacks. I am very excited to bring this program to more local libraries and schools in 2020. ✔Wrote and co-hosted the workshop “Supporting Your Immune System with Nutrition and Herbalism”: Did you now that Alfred is now home to a clinical herbalist? Mark Tulk moved to Alfred this last year and I was so excited to co-host a workshop with him. We look forward to providing more education and services to the Alfred area. Thank you for journeying with me through the reflections of 2019! I hope you benefited from all that Thriving Health produced. I would love to hear feedback from you or ideas of how I can best serve you in 2020! *RESTART is a 5-week nutrition program that includes nutrition education and a food challenge.
If you want to take a delicious and creative side dish to your next family or friends’ gathering, I have the perfect recipe for you! This Pine Cone Cheese Ball recipe, is just as its name describes: a ball of cheese shaped into a pine cone, topped with almonds and a pine bough to finish the look. If you tuned into my podcast last week, Real Life with Maria and Kristina, you heard us raving about it! My mom, Suzanne, perfected the recipe and served it at our church’s Christmas brunch. It was the :”awe factor.” Pine Cone Cheese Ball 12-15 servings Ingredients: 2 packages cream cheese, softened at room temp. 1 cup Greek yogurt 1 Tbsp. lemon juice 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar 1 ½ tsp. honey 1 tsp. dill weed ½ tsp. salt ¼ tsp. black pepper ¼ tsp. Paprika 10 bacon strips 2 Tbsp. onion, finely minced 2 cups almond slices assorted raw veggies Directions: In a large skillet, cook the bacon slices. While the bacon is cooking, in a medium size bowl, add all other ingredients except the onion and almonds. Mix with a hand mixer until well blended. Remove the cooked bacon onto several paper towels and blot. After the bacon has cooled, crumble it or mince it with a knife. Add the onion to the skillet with the bacon grease and sauté. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the cheese mixture. Fold the onions and the bacon into the cheese mixture. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2 or more hours until the dip is more firm. Then plop cheese mixture onto a plate and form with a spoon into a pine cone shape, about 2 inches in height. Starting at the top of the cone, stick in almond slices, pointed end up, to resemble the bark on a pine cone. Every row should “peek” between the one above above it so the almonds are not directly behind each other. Garnish with small pine sprigs. Serve with your favorite assorted veggies or nourishing crackers!
Happy New Year! 2020 is here! It is a year with brand new adventures and untapped potential. For Alfred’s Thriving Health and Sunny Cove Farm, it is the year of launching a podcast! Kristina Snyder and I are bringing our community Real Life with Maria and Kristina. It is a weekly conversation about farming, nutrition, lifestyle, and more! To kick things off, episode one will be concerning our new year’s resolutions. So, I am giving you a sneak peak of mine! To hear the full conversation, you can find us on iTunes, Google podcasts and Spotify. Links to both are on our business Facebook pages. . Rather than a large bucket list, I am focusing on 5 simple habits to develop in 2020. None of these habits are overly time consuming-- it’s just a matter to plan, prioritize, and remember to do them until they become a natural rhythm in my lifestyle. 1. Set aside time for myself. I am going to grow in this are by taking a relaxing bath once a month. This seems almost silly to put down; however, it is something I always intend to “get around to,” but never execute. To prevent this habit from just remaining an intention, I am going to schedule it quarterly on my calendar for the first half of each month. If something comes up the night of my bath date, I have the cushion to bump it to the second half of the month. 2. Give thanks every day. The very first thing to do every morning, even before getting out of bed, will be to praise God for something...perhaps many things. It’s not a planned prayer but a conversation in the presence of Jesus. I have done this before for short seasons, and it was such a dynamic habit which transformed my day. 3. Take collagen every day. I have talked about this health protein in many of my classes. It is fantastic for digestive and joint health as well as hair, skin, nails, and weight management. You can buy it from health stores as a powder or consume it through homemade bone broth. I ingest it on a weekly basis now, but not daily. To make it a daily habit I will create a little checklist of my daily supplement routine and include collagen.. 4. More random acts of kindness. This summer, I had the privilege to go through a leadership course offered by Lighthouse Christian Fellowship. Part of our daily assignment was to do a “random act of kindness.” It could be a note, a cup of coffee for a stranger, etc. It was an amazing time and joyful experience as it caused me to be more thoughtful and attentive. I’ll be honest, it was not a habit that stuck after the completion of the class. But it’s impact has not left me. Thus, I am coming back to it! I am planning to do 2-3 random acts of kindness a week. I will journal the “game plan” before and then record how the execution played out. 5. Drink more herbal teas. The year 2019 reminded me of the medicinal power of herbs, particularly through collaborating with Mark Tulk, Alfred’s Clinical Herbalist. This habit will be fun as it entails trying new teasI I plan to try 1-2 new teas a month, drinking them daily for that month. Then, on to the next tea! Kristina and I will be checking in on each other throughout the year to see how our habits are coming! I hope you enjoy following us and consider developing your own habits with specific strategies and a level of accountability. I would love to hear the habits and goals you have for 2020! I also don’t want to forget 2019’s resolutions. It was an exciting year for Thriving Health. Stay tuned for an upcoming article reflecting on how my resolutions were executed, and what I learned and developed from them.  facebook.com/thrivinghealthNY and facebook.com/sunnycovefarm
Christmas is a magical time of year. Snow, family, gift giving. The celebration of the birth of Jesus--whose miraculous conception and life fulfilled prophecies of old. This year, my Christmas blessings are extra special. I want to share with you the magic of my Christmas as it propels me into a new season! The last few weeks, my boyfriend, Pavel, was traveling for work in China. As we said goodbye at the airport, he explained that he had a note for me. Actually, a note for every day that he was gone, to remind me of his love and give me something to which I could look forward. This was so special! Sometimes he gave me a clue to go find the note--as they were hidden around Alfred and Hornell in significant places to our relationship. Some of the notes were delivered to me with a box of dark chocolate or bouquet of flowers. It was extremely romantic. I am so loved and blessed. One of the notes explained that I needed to keep Sunday the 15th (the day before he returned from China) open for a special event he had planned for me. He would explain more as it got closer. I suspected that he had organized some friends and family to surprise me for an afternoon of time together. Secretly, I knew the best surprise would be him returning early...but quieted the impossible hope. Sunday the 15th arrived. At the beginning of our Sunday service at Lighthouse I was handed a big white envelope with Pavel’s writing “Deliver to Maria Adam. Deliver on Dec. 15th, 2019.” I tried not to be distracted by it during worship...and the sermon. It made me excited and nervous. I love surprises! And I love to cherish them! Within the envelope was a letter, a clue, and a puzzle piece (a paper cut out made by Pavel). Within the letter, Pavel explained that he had planned a special event for me in the Finger Lakes. There would be a series of notes that would lead me there and puzzle pieces to collect along the way. One of my best friends, Tara Snyder, would accompany me also since he knew I would enjoy having someone join me for the adventure. She didn’t know the clues either...so we worked as a team to solve them! We had such a blast! It was fun and often challenging. I was so nervous I wouldn’t be able to solve one of the clues, and that in our stumped state we would miss the event in the Finger Lakes. I kept thinking, “Pavel is sleeping in China right now so we couldn’t even call him for a hot line.” Thankfully, we solved each clue--from the Terra Cotta, to Wegmans, and my parents home in Howard. The last clue was the GPS coordinance to a coffee shop in Penn Yan. I was excited! I explained to Tara that the Black Cat Bistro is a special coffee shop to Pavel and I as we shared our first date there. When we arrived the owner had our last clue and a board on which we could arrange the puzzle pieces. She led us to the glass table where Pavel and I had sat during our first date. I went to sit down and she prompted me to sit in a different seat. “Oh, but this is where I had sat during out first date.” I explained. “But this seat has a better view.” she countered. I smiled and didn’t object. I figured the puzzle pieces must relate to something I would see in the view. As I arranged the pieces I saw the word “Marry”...”that can’t be right.” I mumbled to myself. “It’s probably supposed to say ‘Maria’ ”. The more I aligned it the more I saw the words “Marry me?” I was slightly confused and put off...did Pavel want me to text him my answer? Suddenly, someone grabbed me from behind in an embrace. I KNEW it wasn’t the coffee shop owner! Pavel surprised me. He came home early from China to ask me to marry him. To tell me that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, the hard times and the good times. I was blown away. Overwhelmed. And so happy! Of course, I said yes! I am so thankful for the gift that he is to me! We are stronger together and I am so excited for the seasons ahead. We celebrate this Christmas season with some extra spark and joy! I am praying and wishing you a Merry Christmas. A season of healing, joy, laughter, community, and love. Merry Christmas from Thriving Health...and Maria and Pavel!