Metaphorically, this is a great time to evaluate your personal harvest. What seeds have you planted this summer? What are you nourishing & offering sunshine? Has it grown? Prospered? Are you ready to claim what you've toiled so hard for? I see among humans, including myself, a reluctance to fully claim what is ours. We tend to shy away from thriving to the fullest extent we deserve. Why do you think this is?Read More
The world of food is littered with fad diets, contradicting studies, & confusing parables (well, sort of). It's all too easy to get lost or caught up in this this black-hole, rat-race we, as a society, have created. Here's the short of it: keep it simple. As much as possible, shop on the outside perimeter of the grocery store. You know, where the fruits, veggies, & other yet-to-be-processed foods (& donuts) live. Golden Rule: Fresh is Best.Read More
Globally, we centre our culture & tradition around food. It joins family, friends, & neighbours, makes us strong, brings us joy, & nourishes. It's provides opportunity & excuse to gather. We show our love by sharing it. Regardless of where you are raised, how little or much is on the table, or whom sits there with you, this basic anthropological condition is fact.Read More
I've been feeling a lot like a fair weathered pilot these days. Where I've had unyielding faith & surety if in nothing else, myself, I've found fear creeping in. It has me testing my resolve. Am I able to power through & push forward? Is this what I should be doing? Is it a rough patch, a test perhaps? Or is the universe giving me hints that maybe this isn't where I'm meant to be/what I should be doing/who I should strive to be?Read More
Quinoa is a great choice as it is gluten free & among the least allergenic of all grains. It also possesses a complete amino acid profile—as in, it's a complete protein, making it an excellent choice for vegans & vegetarians.Read More
Ten years ago, when I decided to end my relationship with meat, concerned loved ones bombarded me on my protein sources. That first year, I decided to avoid all animal products as I adjusted to the new diet. I managed this quite successfully — except clamato juice, turns out it's made of clams. Not sure what I thought it was but you can imagine my dismay upon finding out mid-caesar.Read More
All great men are rich. Rich in substance. Rich in depth. Rich enough to dive deep into the unknown realms & come out invigorated. Please be invigorating.Read More
Happy New Year Lovers. I know we're almost a month in, but let's get real, we've only just gotten back to the swing of things. I hope that however you spent your holiday season, it was nourishing & full of sustenance.
I had the pleasure of spending my New Year's Eve in perfectly frigid mountain air. Myself, & 45 of my favourite people rented a cabin, in the middle of the Middle of NoWhere, Canadian Rockies. The stars shone wildly, just for us, in a way you long for in the city & our hearts were just as bright because, when music is boogie-full & you're surrounded by loved ones, what more is there?
Many of us know the gist of the Valentine story, but I suspect most (myself included until today) don't have it to the end. Saint Valentine is the patron saint of lovers. He lived in a dark & perilous time, in 3rd Century Roman Empire, under the rule of Claudius II (a.k.a. Claudius the Cruel). Dear Claudius had some wild ideas. He was against & actively persecute Christians & their one-God belief system. He was also finding it difficult recruiting soldiers. He missed the point that maybe the problem was him & the wars he chose to fight & decided it would be best to ban marriages between young people. He believed this not only would attract more soldiers (them being single & all) but also, that the soldiers would be better as they'd have no one at home to worry about.Read More
It's common knowledge that dark chocolate is better for you than milk chocolate. What's often misunderstood however, is that many of these proclaimed health benefits are lost in the processing. Its through an understanding of this that you begin to recognize the difference between cacao & coco, raw chocolate & processed.Read More
The history of chocolate begins in 1900 BC, at the height of Mesoamerica (today's Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, as well as parts of Honduras, Nicaragua, & Northern Costa Rica). Here, the cacao seed, a gift from the God of Wisdom, Quetzalcoatl, was considered so valuable it was used as currency. Aztec citizens were required to pay tribute or 'tax' to their lords using cacao.Read More
Pistachios are always smiling their faces off; no wonder they're so popular ;) They are well nicknamed, 'smiling nut' in Iran & the 'happy nut' in China.Read More
I have great memories of Winter Solstice past. I used to live in this magical place where Solstices & other seasonal shifts were deeply honoured. I know I use the word 'magical' a lot. That doesn't make it less so. This place is nestled between three different mountain ranges. Two rivers flow through & around it & there's an abundance of wild food that grows in its fertile soil. It's in transition. For decades, it was a logging town, but as forestry continued to fail in the province, it was forced to adapt. It has evolved & softened it's edges & continues to draw the most eclectic group of people.
People there rely on the land. They grow their own food, forage, hunt, raise animals, & even heat their homes with deadfall. This breeds a certain sort of person & puts them deeply in touch with their natural world. There's a wildness to them that matches the landscape. Season changes were one of many reasons to get together, eat copious amounts of food, meditate, & enjoy one another's company.
Winter Solstice here is always greeted with more snow than most outsiders can imagine. Temperatures are well below freezing but the people of this land couldn't stand to be anywhere but outdoors. Campfires are built, skis strapped on & headlamps lit. Mulled wine is brewed & instruments played. It's a genuine celebration in the most traditional sense. Days are are about to get longer & as the poem below illustrates, the scales tip back in favour of the light.
Once more the balance tips;the scales of the year veer toward the light,and we pray in that illuminationfor peace.~Patrice Haan, from We'Moon
I really feel this this year. The space between Summer & Winter Solstice felt particularly dark & long this time around. Figuratively & literally. There's Syria, Paris, Trump, & overall pain for our most innocent. It's been tough. It's getting better. Here in Canada, you can feel the change. The new government, whether you like them or not, is singing songs of peace & working deligently not only to heal a fractured country but a fractured world.
Unity. Peace. Prosperity. These are the themes the light brings. These are the promises of Winter Solstice. Temperature continues to dip but we have the generosity of the sun to get us through now. The generosity of each other to support us as we wait for spring's first buds. It doesn't matter if you're not 'witchy' or 'spiritual', there is celebration in this time.
In Celebrate the Solstice, Heinberg writes that “wisdom consists in knowing one’s place in any given cycle, and what kinds of action (or restraint of action) are appropriate for that phase.” Being in touch with your outer environment, puts you in touch with your inner environment. As you become attune to the subtle changes of your outer world, it alligns you to the shifts of your own conciousness & well-being. This can be challenging in the city where it's easy to feel a lack of natural space. Maybe this is why I'm homesick this year. It's not impossible though. It just takes a little more conscious effort, at least at first.
Many of us are already gathering & celebrating this time of year. There are many ways you can celebrate the longer days & renewed sense of hopefulness. Sharing food with people you care for is always a good way to do this. Potlucks, as mentioned above, are ideal, with each person contributing their specialty. If you focus on featuring seasonal foods, this becomes even more potent. A 'gratitude circle' at this or other gatherings brings light to our hearts. Each person takes their turn & shares just one thing for which they feel grateful.
Get outside. The air may be crisp but the sun is there to get you through. Layer up & find some free space. Have a campfire, go for a ski. Get a little frost burn even. Rosy cheeks & rosy hearts are one in the same.
Allow yourself to slow down as winter months demand. Tune into your introspection & listen to the stillness of nature, as you meditate, pray, write, or cosy up with your favourite books. Drink tea. If you garden in the summer, it's a great time to bring out those dried herbs for a potent hot drink. The nostalgia & warmth will heighten you.
Journal & make a list of areas in your life you want to invite more light. Focus on what you want to attract as opposed to what you want to get rid of. Instead of saying, I hate my body, try, I want to bring physical & emotional health to my life as I build strength & self-acceptance & love. Make it real. If you must, make a list of what you want to purge & throw it into that campfire you made yourself.
Make it your own. Remember, you can't do it wrong. Maybe all you'll do is look into the sky & thank the sun for it's return & for the many ways it nourishes us each day.
Regardless, the light is back & we have so much to look forward to!
I always swore this recipe would cost your first born, but alas, 'tis the season & I'm not sure what I'd do with a small child...
Vegan Baileys Recipe
2 can coconut milk
- 1 cup sucanat
- 1 cup esspresso (4-5 double pulled long shots - esspresso, not coffee is key!)
- 2 tbs chocolate syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup Irish Whiskey
- Bring coconut milk & sucanat to low boil for ten minutes. Stir often to avoid burning. This process will thicken it (similar to condensed milk).
- Add espresso, stir, remove from heat.
- Allow mixture to cool.
- Put mixture & remaining ingredients in either mason jar or blender. Attach lid & blend/shake.
I know, so easy! And the BEST!
(this post was originally a newsletter, but I felt it was blog worthy as well)
Both inside and out...
She has the most generous heart I have ever known and I know some true gems. This year for Christmas, she suggested that instead of exchanging gifts, we buy and donate presents to local children in need. Being from an adult only family, we happily agreed and it was with this sentiment in mind that I went out into the world last night.
I found myself at a big box store that shall remain nameless (not Walmart mind you), where I'd hoped to find an assortment of smaller gifts to fill a a multitude of goodie bags. It was disheartening. In the overstimulating mass of plastic goods, I was quite certain the world had gone to hell. Everything was so expensive and there was so much junk.
No wonder families struggle. I couldn't imagine how hard it must be for parents to provide a beautiful Christmas for their children. I sympathize and finally recognize, the challenges my parents must have faced. I know it isn't about what's under the tree but it is about kids. While the best thing you can give them is your presence, life is truly magical only a few short years. All the bobble and billie-bobs, are part of that wonder, when you are tiny and young.
What inspired this idea in my sister - apart from her mammoth heart and immense sense of gratitude - was a story from her friend, who is a teacher, in one of our beautiful cities. This woman told her, that when asked what they wanted for Christmas, one little girl replied, her own blanket and pillow.
I'm sorry if this is hurtful to your hearts. It should be of course. While it is not my intension to hurt or shame you, it is my intention to remind you of how lucky we all are. To put things in perspective. Maybe you are part of one of these struggling families and this story is your home. I want you to know, we are with you. Not out of charity or pity, but out of genuine love and sincerity, for you and your tiny humans, as members of this confused, by-pedal race called humanity.
One thing is clear, we are in this together.
If this story inspires you remotely, I encourage you to drop something off for one of these great kids, because as my darling sibling says, "No child should live like this when we live in a beautiful country where we can help one another...a Barbie doll or pair of mittens goes a long way."
If you're eyes are feeling a little wet about now, don't worry, I'm right there with you.
With all the love in my heart,
May all beings everywhere be happy and free...
Now a staple in kitchen pantries and coffee shops worldwide, masala, or 'spiced' chai tea has a rich history that dates some 5, 000 - 9, 000 years. It’s roots set in an ancient, royal court of all places. Rich in legend, origin dates are unclear, but what's known is it was developed by a king as a cleansing Ayurvedic beverage. Ayurveda is one of the most ancient forms of medicine and still in use today. (*more on that in a future post)
Masala has always been prepared with a variety of spices but here the uniformity ends. It's varieties numerous, it has often been served both hot and cold. It didn't always contain tea leaves and was originally caffeine-free. It isn't until the mid 1800s, when Great Britain set up colonies in India, and started growing black tea there to offset the dependency on Chinese supply, that it gradually made its way to the local recipe.
As the century turned, British black tea remained the most expensive ingredient in the beloved chai concoction but had grown more prevalent in local recipes. To cut expenses and make the cherished leaf go further, locals started cutting the chai recipe with milks and sugars.
When black tea finally became mass produced and agricultural practices changed, in the 60s, though not necessarily for the better, it was finally affordable to the masses. This new tea strain went well with the sweet and spice of the masala and so it remains today.
Over the last few decades, chai has established itself firmly in the western world. However, much of this mix is a far cry from the traditional recipe of some thousand years past. Often derived from sugar-filled syrup, real spices are rarely included in what we serve in coffee shops out here.
I’m not known for my traditional mind but in creating the chai recipe used in this season's Apana Granola, I recognized that the oldest medical system of human history may have something on me and so I did my best to honour this. Dirty Chocolate Chai & Pistachio is this season’s best. Heat generated, and soul sweetening, it’s exactly what I need to beet the chill, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Autumn Equinox is tonight, Wednesday, September 23, 2015. Equinox comes from Latin words ' equi' for equal, & 'nox' for night. It literally means equal night. It is one of two days a year, when the night & daylight hours are balanced. Fall Equinoxes invite longer nights as summer slips away. While night & day hours are officially equal on September 26, the sun is perfectly at the equator today. This is the tipping point.
Despite the coming darkness - or perhaps because of it - this is a satisfying time. Summer harvest is in, Summer bounty is fresh and there's finally time to rest after the toils of dust & dirt. The work we began during the Vernal Equinox has come to fruition & as the Earth itself begins moving inward preparing for cooler Winter months. The leaves change colour & the air gets crisp. We begin accepting that the soil, which has worked so hard for us all Summer, is ready to rest. All this is welcome however, because the pantries are full, the sweaters cozy, & we're ready for the break as well.
As the Earth begins to move inward, so do we.
Some ways we can invite Fall in:
- Freshen your alter to represent the season. Press dry leafs as the colours change; Bring in golds, oranges, & browns. Consider making a wreath or offerings of apples or ornamental squash.
- Meditate on balance. Reflect on the ways you can bring balance into your life. Make a list of the following four categories: mind, body, spirit, & heart & where you can create space to grow. Are you living in your mind? Are the wheels always turning, obsessing? Have you closed your heart? Have you forgotten to pray? Are you watching too much t.v & forgetting to read? Are you connected to breathe? Exercise? Eating well? Bring it in, be honest, & welcome the quiet opportunities to sustain change.
- Pray for peace. Peace for your city, your neighbourhood, your family, the world, the universe...& especially, for yourself. Part of balance is peace. Peace of mind. Peace of heart, peace in the spirit, & peace in the depth of your being.
- Find your gratitude. Create a list of what you'd like to invite to your life with the shift in energy. Give thanks for all you have to be thankful for.
- Embrace the darkness. People are often afraid of the dark. Like the Equinox, we are both made of light & dark. It's easy for most of us to embrace the light. It's 'light', easy, flirty, fun. It's all our pretty, shiny bits. We welcome it, adore it, & fight for it. The dark, we tend to struggle with. It's where the challenging pieces of our hearts live. It's the insecurity, the jealousy, the anger. These scare us because we've been taught to believe they are 'wrong' or 'bad'. We forget that it is in the shadow that mystery resides. Where seduction lives. Where the night-crawlers make their home. It is in the darkness that we grow & evolve. What parts of your darkness have you rejected? What of your self do you avoid? How can you begin to integrate these & accept them? When you reject your darkness, you reject yourself. You cannot be a whole & balanced person without these parts. How can these dark pieces be brought into the light?
These are just a few ideas to bring in the new season. Make it your own & follow your intuition. There are no hard & fast rules when it comes to ceremony. There are as many ways to celebrate as there are people. My personal focus is going to be number two, bringing balance to my life in the most accepting, loving way possible.
Wish me luck.
What's a cashew?
Most of us have enjoyed a cashew or two at some point but did you know cashews are actually seeds & not nuts?! (hehe) I find this so interesting, though not as interesting as the fact that they grow at the base of what’s called a cashew apple. The cashew grows in a thick, hard shell at the base of the fruit. Ever notice cashews always come shelled? This is because the inner resin of the shell is actually toxic & must be properly removed. Native to Brazil, cashew apples are considered a delicacy though most people in North America have never heard of them.
What makes the cashew good for you?
Like most seeds & nuts, cashews are packed with calories & good fat (though significantly less fat than many other seeds or nuts) - 100 g of nuts provide 533 calories. Good for the heart, they are packed with monosaturated-fatty acids that fight off ‘bad’ cholesterol while promoting the ‘good’. Extremely nutrient dense, they are also full of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, & other disease-fighting agents.
Cashews are also a great source of minerals such as magnesium, potassium, copper, iron, zinc, manganese, & selenium.
Why are these nutrients important?
Magnesium helps regulate a diverse range of biochemical reactions in the body including energy production, structural development of the bones, it’s an antioxidant, transports calcium & potassium. It also aids in the regulation of nerve impulses, muscle contraction, & the maintenance of normal heart rhythms.
Potassium can be found in most food, particularly leafy greens. Like magnesium, calcium, & chloride, it is an electrolyte, promoting electrical charges throughout the body. It’s an essential mineral in the maintenance of proper blood levels and the maintenance of healthy heart & nerve function.
Copper is a trace element aiding in the proper function of organs & metabolic processes. Iron is a key ingredient in the production of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is in your red blood cells & carries oxygen through your body. Manganese assists in bone production & the maintenance of skin integrity & health. It also fights against free radicals & blood sugar control.
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant & supports normal thyroid function.
In other words, this little fruit-nut is super good for you! Sweet & savory, crunchy & creamy, it’s incredibly diverse & is only limited by your imagination.
Pssst....studies have also suggested that eating nuts twice a week helps prevent weight gain so eat away!
(If you’re still with me, congratulations! I know I just threw tons of very broad information at you and chances are you’re left with more questions than answers but fear not (!) we’re going to dive deeper into all these concepts as time moves on and you’ll be an expert in no time! I want to empower you to make healthy choices for you and your family and to be able to trust your intuition as time moves on.)
Thank you to ‘The World’s Healthiest Foods’ and Wikipedia who are both used as sources for this post.
I love food that tastes healthy. One girlfriend says, if it doesn't taste like dirt, it's hard to believe it's good for you. Haha, I suppose...
I also love food that tastes scrumptious. I have a demanding sweet-tooth that will not be denied. It adores creamy, coconuty, lose your mind, thank-you-Jesus yum. It is with this sentiment in mind that I present (drum roll) Coconut (Whip) Cream....
- 1 can Coconut Milk
- 1 tbs Coconut Cane Sugar (a little extra if you like it sweet;)
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract (optional)
Empty coconut milk into the container, let sit overnight in the fridge to separate water (water will rise and settle on top). With a spoon, remove water from the top. Put what remains in blender with the rest of the ingredients. Blend (maybe 30 seconds), & enjoy!
(note: This recipe isn't mine, it's some Goddess-like Kundalini teacher's I saw online one time but don't have her name any more....if you know of whom you speak, drop me a line, I'd love to give her credit....& a hug.)