For the Love of FOOD
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"Food… is something holy.
It’s not about nutrients and calories. It’s about sharing. It’s about honesty.
It’s about identity.”

--Louise Fresco

If you’ve been around for long, <<Name>>, you know that I am incredibly passionate about food. It isn’t that I just love to eat. I derive immense pleasure from all the stages of bringing a meal to the table: shopping for the ingredients, chopping and preparing fruits and vegetables, and transforming raw ingredients into something that will nourish our bodies.

I find a seductive beauty in many of the ingredients I choose – from the mutli-colored carrots to a deeply layered stock (like the recipe I’m sharing with you this week)

I am giddy when a new idea for a meal results in something delightful. I doubly appreciate it when scientific research on nutrients or how our bodies process foods allow me to create something that takes nourishment to a whole new level.

Food is comforting and sensual and life-affirming. Food is one of the ways I lavish affection on those I care about and show folks I honor and appreciate their presence.

When I began adding recipes to my weekly love notes, more than one Expert insisted my recipes needed to disappear because they didn’t promote my coaching practices or any of my courses.
I blindly listened for a few weeks and realized that I was diluting the connection and love I wanted to convey to people who gifted me with their time and attention was missing something – like the way spices and herbs turn a blah ingredient into something special.

So, I added the recipes back in and ignored any other guru who told me to ditch ‘em.

The goal of every single love note is that I nourish you in some way. Maybe my words make you feel less alone. Maybe a paragraph serves as a wake-up call. Maybe a single sentence I write is just what you need to read so that you make that decision you’ve been putting off. Maybe a photo I share makes you smile. Maybe my words allow you to connect more deeply with your own soul or someone you love.

And if nothing I write nourishes your mind or your spirit, then at least I am sharing a way you can nourish your body.

This week’s blog post is about one of my first ah-ha moments of this sabbatical – that awareness is a practice. And the place I’ve slipped up the most in awareness is when it comes to food.

Oh, I am still creating beautiful dinners about six days a week (sometimes seven). I still buy ingredients focused on high quality and local meat, eggs, vegetables, and dairy products when at all possible. But I’ve also gotten a little too lax during the daytime hours.

The occasional breakfast out on a Wednesday to get some real Southern food morphed into going out three days a week. The occasional meeting a friend for lunch shifted and suddenly I realized was eating lunch out a couple of days a week – and grabbing a salad or soup from Panera on the way home from errands.

And in addition to all that indulging in restaurant meals, I was bringing foods back into the house that I didn’t need (like a big bag of Cadbury candy-coated Easter eggs), wasn’t diligently reading labels, and we’d kind of developed a bread-with-every-meal habit.

So, as part of the initial week of my sabbatical, I embarked upon a “detox”.

No, it wasn’t a week of only juices or that maple-syrup cayenne pepper lemonade or anything crazy like that, I looked at it as more of a “palate reset”.  I went by the basics laid out in the Martha Stewart book “Clean Slate”, which brought my menu for the first three days down to fruits, vegetables, and good fats (avocado / olive oil). No dairy, meat, caffeine or wine.

Then, after the first three days, I gradually added a category of food back a day until I was once again eating a little bit of everything.

I don’t believe in demonizing any category of food. I think the demonizing of food leads to unhealthy relationships to how we nourish our bodies and how we interact with food. But just because I don’t believe I need to completely stay away from any category of food, some foods (like sugar and salt) are best consumed in moderation.

And it’s important to monitor what we put into our bodies, especially when it comes to what manufacturers and restaurants add to the food we buy.  Creating a meal from the purest form of an ingredient and building from there will result in the ability to do so.

I know that we have to listen to our bodies, because our bodies tell us what foods work for us personally and which ones don’t. When we are in-tune with our bodies, it will tell us when a food doesn’t process well – and it will tell us when we need something particular. The problem with that – at least for me – is that when you get in the habit of indulging in a particular food (hello, biscuits and fried okra), your brain tricks your body with the belief that it NEEDS more of that food.

What I discovered by doing this palate reset was that my body and brain were able to get back in sync again. My brain didn’t tell me that I needed biscuits with sausage gravy for breakfast when I awoke hungry; it suggested eggs or oatmeal instead.

So, the reason I chose to begin the sabbatical with a detox was because in addition to a need to get clear on my relationship with social media, I wanted to clarify my relationship with food.

I fell more deeply in love with not just food, but the process of choosing the best food I can for my body. I reignited my passion for how exquisite some ingredients were in their rawest form. I became delighted with creating a stunning plate of food that was not just tasty, but a delight for the eyes.

Approaching food from the lens of passion has catapulted passion in other areas of my world: my work, my writing, my home. It allows me to see how important the exquisite details of life are to me, no matter what their form.

So, tell me, darling, what about you? How can you find a passion for the pieces of your daily life? Can a palate re-set allow you to find more enjoyment not just on your plate, but in your overall life? Do you choose food from that core ingredient and build a meal from there or are you going for boxes and drive-thru?

What can you do to connect to others in some way in your work? Where do you need to stop listening to the experts so that you are more in-tune with your own instincts and soul?

What areas of your life need a little bit more of your awareness?

With so much love,

PS - As a reminder, I am on a digital sabbatical until May 4th. You can still register for courses (Clutter Busting & Become Besotted).

I have space for two new clients beginning in May.

This week in the blog you'll find You Can Choose Routines AND Awareness. Remarkable routines allow you to get more done with your time. You can judge their efficiency by the sheer fact that you don’t have to overthink them; you just move through them with a sense of ease.

Routines support your lifestyle and your dreams. They also nourish your spirit.

If you find yourself struggling with getting the basics in life accomplished in an efficient manner, then darling, you need to get serious about establishing powerful routines.

I am a huge fan of routines because they allow you to use your energy in a more economical fashion. But sometimes our lives can actually become a little too routine.

Yes, darling, as dedicated as I am to routines – and as devoted I am to creating a daily life that you loveI know that there is a shadow side.

Have you ever gotten in your car to drive to work or the grocery store and found that the route is so routine that you arrive without ever being entirely aware of how you got there? Or you hop in the shower and go through the familiar acts of washing and rinsing, only to discover after you get out that you can’t recall shaving your legs or whether you used conditioner?

These are the times when the unremarkable moments of our days go beyond auto-pilot for efficiency and slip into sleep-walking through life.

While we all have instances when our brains are focusing on “Important Things” and our bodies go through the motions of washing dishes and folding clothes, sometimes those moments morph into days and weeks of living unconsciously.

For many people, those days of living unwittingly expand into weeks, months, or even years of simply going through the motions.

From the outside, it may seem as if their lives and full of happiness and run like the proverbial well-oiled machine: organized and efficient. But inside, they’re not really tuned into any part of their life. They’re just numb.

A couple of days into my sabbatical, I realized that while not all areas of my life were on auto-pilot, over the last few months, I’ve allowed myself to get out of one of my most important practices: awareness.

I’d love to tell you that when you wake-up and realize that you crave a different way of living – and then go through the process of making conscious changes to your life – that it will stick with your forever. I’d love to tell you that the sheer power of a past decision to not accept the status quo for your life will mean that you’ll always live fully engaged.

But the truth of the matter is, kitten: awareness isn’t a one-time shot of inspiration that lasts forever. Yes, awareness is a practice. Just like yoga or writing or playing an instrument.

Though long ago I finally made peace with the little fact that “practice makes perfectwasn’t a core truth, I have come to redefine practice as the opportunity to show up for ourselves and do the best we can in that infinitesimal space and time.

When we are going through the motions we are not showing up for ourselves. It is not doing the best we can in that space and time. It is not living life consciously, and it is not creating excellent routines to optimize our energy usage. It’s sleep-walking.

And when we catch ourselves in the act – be it days or months later – we tend to beat the crap out of ourselves for being so careless.

When I came to the ah-ha moment that, just like my writing – and really all areas of life – awareness and conscious living is a PRACTICE, I loosened the grip on the whip I was using to flagellate myself, and reminded myself of the truth. Because the truth is, awareness is a practice, which means that it will never be perfect.

Because awareness is a practice, it means that when I mess up or lose track, I get to start over.

Because awareness is a practice, each day we have to consciously engage in our own lives. Each day we must choose to create and cultivate all the pieces of our daily life. We must create routines that bolster the efficiency of our energy and rituals which facilitate the connection to God our and our soul. We must fuel our bodies with food that satisfies our deepest source of hungers. We must also actively fuel our desires and goals.

Darling, you deserve to live a life that’s full and conscious. You don’t have to choose numbness or sleep-walking. You don’t have to ditch routines in order for life to not go on auto-pilot. No, darling, living a conscious life isn’t an either / or scenario.

When you wake-up (or re-awaken) and realize awareness isn’t a part of your lifestyle, you get to choose in that instant to stop being unaware. You get to engage and be fully present and renew your practice of awareness.

You can choose to practice awareness while having the supportive structure of routines to fuel a daily life that feels nourishing.

A couple of weeks ago, I promised to share my chicken stock recipe. Though I keep a high quality, unsalted stock on hand (Kitchen Basics – Vegetable Stock and Chicken Stock are both in my pantry), this stock is SO much better - not just in flavor but in nutrition.

The secret? chicken feet.  (yes, you read that right). Because using the feet adds glucosamine chondroitin and collagen to your broth. And, as we age, some folks (ahem, me) have found that the addition of more of those in my diet helps ease my joints (especially my hips and hands).

Begin with a visit to your butcher. Tell your butcher that you need chicken parts for stock – about four pounds. You will need to tell your butcher that you want FEET, otherwise he will only get necks and backs (since the feet freak too many folks out).


(I totally get it if you don’t want to use the feet. It still freaks me out when I’m using them.)

Start with a BIG stock pot. I use a double pot – with an inner basket so that I have an easier time separating all of the solids from the liquid.

In your pot add: one yellow onion, quartered, one head of garlic (cloves smashed), three stalks of celery (cut into manageable pieces), three carrots (cut into manageable pieces),  two leeks, sliced and rinsed (the white and light green parts) and a palm full of whole peppercorns.

Add four pounds of chicken parts and an assortment of fresh herbs (I use the ones marked “poultry seasonings, which includes rosemary, thyme and sage). You may desire to add a heavy pinch of kosher salt, but I usually don’t.

Then add filtered water (the same water you’d make coffee with) to the top of your pot. Bring the liquid to boiling and then put heat to low, cover and let simmer for 2 1/2 hours.

After your 2 1/2 hours are up, remove all the solids and discard.  There will still be traces of herbs and whole peppercorns, so once the solids are removed, pour stock (careful it will be very HOT) through a fine mesh strainer.

Then, I begin immediately packaging it into freezable containers. I prefer BPA Free plastic containers that are designed to hold 3 cups of food. Use cup to transfer stock to containers until they are 2/3 full (leaving room for expansion in the freezer).

(Though I like to store most sauces in freezer bags so they pack flat, this will not work well for you during the thawing process for chicken stock!)

Leave stock on the counter in containers to cool enough to put in your refrigerator (about an hour). Leave in the fridge at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

If you use the feet,  your finished (cold) stock will have the consistency of soft jello.

Pull containers out of fridge and skim off any fat and discard (fat will rise to the top). Then, freeze.

Stock is good in the freezer for up to six months. To use, put in the fridge the night before to thaw and use entire container within 3 days.

I use stock in place of water in rice and quinoa, to make soups, and to enhance dishes being sauteed on the stove top.  If your recipe calls for adding your rice and liquid to the pot at the same time, you’ll get better results letting the stock come up to a warm temperature (liquid not jello-ish) before adding the rice.

(If you want to see a few more photos, I shared more here)

Volume 5 - Issue 16

April 18, 2015

Published Every Saturday
Thank you, darling for the precious in-box space! 
See something you'd love to share?  I'd be honored if you forwarded this along to a friend.

About Debra

Debra Smouse is a writer, life coach, and Tarnished Southern Belle who is on a mission to help people fall in love with their lives.

An expert de-tangler, she believes in busting clutter as a path to greater clarity and that within every woman is vibrant, passionate, and sexy being just itching to make their inner sex kitten roar.

Alphabet soup wise, Debra holds a BS in Communications as well as a PMP. She's an ENTJ according to MBTI, according to Ennegram, and a 7-3-8-2 according to Kolbe.

A native Texan, she resides in Ohio with the Man of her Dreams. Get social with Debra on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Muse & Cheerleader

I believe everyone could benefit from a good life coach. Yes, everyone. Even (and especially) other coaches! Debra is a coach who models what she encourages in her clients—deep soul searching, practical living skills, and solid business sense. Whether you're new to exploring personal growth or someone who assists others along their own paths, Debra offers a style that meets you where you are.
Personally, I've done a ton of my own transformational work and continue to explore new pathways every day. While I wish I could say that I have 'arrived,' there really is no such destination for a lifelong learner like me or probably you. Debra is a friend and mentor who helps keep me on task, shed light on my blind spots, and untangle the stuck places that I can't quite tackle on my own.
Throughout the time we've worked together, she's nudged me forward with just the right amount of force and given me space to grieve my losses and celebrate my victories. She's more than a coach. She's a muse and cheerleader, and I am immensely grateful to have her on my team. 

Kayce S. Hughlett - Life Coach & Author

Explore Your Story

How do you explore your own story? How do you stay on track to bring your dreams into your reality?

How do you find the breadcrumbs that will lead you from unconscious existence to the understanding that your daily actions have the power to create a conscious life?

That’s why I created Become Besotted. Become Besotted will assist you in writing your story, a month at a time. An opportunity to get to know all sides of yourself and fall in love.

Become Besotted will also help you explore your dreams and desires. It will serve you in monitoring your victories and shedding what isn’t serving you.

Ready to Become Besotted with yourself and your life? Get the details (and a special subscriber offer) here.


Your continual patience and guidance have allowed me to move from being a man who didn’t believe he had anything in his glass to a man with a glass overflowing.

Your advice has always been spot on…….from helping me see how important it is to be thankful for my blessings to helping me remove physical and emotional clutter from my life. I am actually the most grateful for the times when you have spoken the truth in love and been honest with me when I wanted to continue to delude myself. Without those wise words, I would have continued to lie to myself and not had the breakthroughs I have experienced.

I’m not all I want to be yet but I would have ever found my path had I not met and worked with you. Thank you for your efforts in helping me find my life. I am forever in your debt.

~Basil Human, Engineer, Chief Operating Officer, Writer

Spring Clutter Busting

One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that you cannot welcome new things into your life if you don’t release some of the old stuff. You need to begin to purge things from your life.

Especially physical clutter. Disorder, clutter, and undone spaces in your home stall you from creating, sabotage your productivity, and keep you from embracing the life of your dreams.

In 30 Days to Clarity: Clutter Busting Edition we gently walk through all your spaces to open up your world for possibilities.

I'll also be adding suggested for extra Spring Cleaning activities.

The next course begins Sunday, May 10, 2015 - Register today.  

Or. Upgrade to a Clarity Season's Pass.


Working with Deb for just a few months has made an unbelievable difference in my life.

With her encouragement, I made major progress on clearing the clutter in my physical life as well as in my emotional life, which paved the way toward creating a new vision for the life I want to live now.

Deb has an easy conversational style, rational down-to earth wisdom, and a warm sense of humor.

She got right to the heart of the things holding me back from living my best life, and has given me sound principles and practices I can carry forward into the future.

For the first time in a long time I feel excited about my life, and I have Deb to thank for that!

-Becca Rowan, Author

Listen In

I'm over at True Beauty You chatting with Erica Jones about the secrets of a happier and more fulfilling life.

You can listen to a portion of our interview here.

Super-Person Sidekick

I’m no slouch in the confidence category but Deb has helped me face those teeny cracks of vulnerability that I sheltered, having helped me prosper mentally and physically at this stage of my life.  My creative aspirations are blooming with no end in sight - LOTS more growth ahead for me. 
I highly recommend a course with Deb or what she might call a non-course - that’s the arrangement we have now. Personal coaching on a regular basis - touching base on one’s own hiccups, one’s own dimension of daily life, whether it’s exercise, creative habits and/or reaching the next plateau or higher in all of the newness that still continues to unfold for me.

I highly recommend Deb’s methods and courses! You won’t be sorry you signed on with Deb as your super-person sidekick!

Dealing with All Kinds of Clutter

Does it surprise you that one of the major things standing between where you are now and creating a life you love is clutter?

Now, I live a daily life that I love. And I got here by beginning to shed the stuff that was in the way of who I was born to be.

I’m talking about the physical clutter I was tripping over. And all the stuff I was buying in hopes it would make me happy. (Secret: the real treasure isn’t in stuff – it’s in YOU!)

I’m talking about the constant mental drain of not knowing what I really wanted. About my dreams getting lost in the swirling thoughts.

I’m also talking about the half-assed approach I was taking to my life. And, instead, how I got clear and took control. The vision for my life was there, shrouded under a but I needed to shake it off. By creating a vision for my life – and a plan to get there.

The Annual Clarity Pass gives you access to ALL 4 courses in the 30 Days to Clarity family of courses for one price. Get the details here.

Keen Listener

“Debra is a keen listener who manages to be truly empathetic while also helping clients to face reality, create a definitive plan of action, and move forward.

She applies her creativity to any dilemma and provides consistent accountability and encouragement”

Roxanne Ravenel

Coming Soon

There's something magical about summertime, so I'm creating a FREE series of love notes just for you beginning June 16th. More Details SOON.
Copyright © 2015 Debra Smouse - Create a Life You Love, All rights reserved.

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