Two treats, no trick

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You may love Halloween and be all decked out in costume, or simply tolerate it {guilty — I prefer to choose for myself when to get goofy and act like a zombie, a kitten, a witch or a pumpkin!}. Either way, even more than the shift to fall in September, this day truly marks the line between the holiday season and the rest of the secular year.

It’s a time of darkening days, sweet gatherings, excessive food, and a natural yet often uncomfortable descent into blue moods and quieter energies. A time when balance is hard to find and most sorely needed. So for you, on this hallowed day, a few no-calorie treats:

First, join me for the November 21st FREE Teleclass on Holiday Sanity Solutions. It will set the stage for meaning over madness from Thanksgiving through the new year. Holiday Sanity Solutions — Thursday, November 21, 2013 

Mark Your Calendar Now For This {BETTER THAN FREE} Teleclass!

Gift yourself with simple antidotes for holiday stress. This will be an hour filled with powerful tools and mindset shifts guaranteed to get you through the holiday season with sanity and grace.

  • Learn a simple meditation — even if you think you’re genetically not wired for it!
  • Practice one movement that will release stress from your nervous system instantly.
  • Clarify and embody your intention for the kind of holiday season you want , regardless of external obligations
  • WHEN? Thursday, November 21st, 7:30-8:30 pm ET
  • WHERE? Via phone, from the comfort of your own home! Call-in details will arrive after you’ve helped to share the bounty of the season with some of our less fortunate neighbors.

Second, enjoy three minutes of joy and light via one of my favorite folk/bluegrass/alt duos, Mike + Ruthy. It’s called Bright As You Can and you can check it out HERE.

 

 

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What Color is Your Guilt?

Everything is drenched in green these days – magazines, newspapers, HGTV shows — heck, there’s a whole cable network dedicated to Green Living! Do you feel like you’re doing your part, or does it seem more like a terrible burden to keep up with the Greens?

Picking Your Battles

First, give yourself credit for what you are doing to create less of an impact on the planet. Have you traded your plastic bottles of water for a reusable one? Check. Are you recycling as much of your paper and plastic refuse as possible? Check. Are you buying more locally grown produce and minimizing your purchases of fruits from Chile and New Zealand? (Good news: first of the season northeast strawberries are coming soon!)

As much as I admire people like Barbara Kingsolver — the gifted writer who wrote so touchingly about her family’s commitment to eating only locally raised food in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – I am far from a localvore (don’t you love these new words that spring out of ideologies?). One of my favorite things about winter is the abundance of succulent pink grapefruit from Florida, which makes those snowy mornings worthwhile. I can’t imagine eating only apples and pears ALL…WINTER…LONG.

And, just last week, someone who is a vegan tried to convince me that if everyone in the world went vegan, global warming would cease to be an issue. Hmmm…maybe. Sounds good. But while we might all agree that eating less meat overall, and more humanely raised animals when we do, is better for individual and planetary health, the plain truth is that not everyone is meant to be or willing to be totally vegan.

Yeah, So?

My point here is that life is a very large and complex place, and we are here such a short amount of time. A little guilt might not be such a bad thing if it spurs you to action, but too much and you zap all of the joy and color out of existence.

We are all part of the great chain of being…we can do our part to live lightly and responsibly, but in truth our individual actions are only a tiny part of the bigger picture. How we engage in those actions, however, is of great importance.

The best antidote for guilt is gratitude. When we take a moment to consciously connect to what we are doing or eating, and gratefully acknowledge all of the energy, people, and animals that went into our now being able to partake of something, we relax. We feel humble. We feel connected rather than apart from the very things we rely on for our nourishment and survival (or play). We find ourselves naturally drawn to eat more slowly, and possibly more healthfully, when we remember to thank those that gave their lives so we can eat – including the carrot and the zucchini.

Whatever we are truly in relationship with, we are less likely to abuse, misuse or discard thoughtlessly. So when the web of guilt starts to close in around you, weave your way out by making a compassionate connection to all that exists. If more of us did that, we just might save the world…

3 Simple Ways to Welcome Spring

1) As more light comes into our lives, think light in terms of your food intake. Not to eat so little you feel hungry or unsatisfied, but in terms of what foods you eat — when you eat clean, you can eat a lot and not feel heavy, congested or tired.

What does “clean food” mean?

  • Fill your plate at least half with salads and fresh cooked vegetables, then let the other half be mostly grains and beans, with whatever meat you’re having being more like a side dish or flavor boost.
  • Take in plenty of fluids and high water content foods (again, basically veggies) so there is less room for denser foods. I just made a quick, satisfying soup from prepared chicken broth in which I simmered onion, carrot, mushroom and zucchini, with a Gardenburger on the side for added protein and satiety. My favorite ready made broth is Rachel Ray’s brand — it actually has less sodium than most brands, including those marked “low sodium” and has a true chicken flavor.
  • Try homemade smoothies for a treat or a meal replacement. Freeze ripe bananas by peeling, breaking into small pieces and storing in a container. For one serving, mix about half a banana with some frozen berries or peach slices, add a scoop of whey protein powder (Designer Whey is a great brand), a tablespoon of flax or coconut oil, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a little sweetener to taste if needed. The combination of protein powder and healthy oil keeps you full and satisfied for hours.

2) Do some mental spring cleaning. Take an hour to meditate and journal on a habitual behavior you are wanting to let go of and what you want to replace it with. For example, if you’ve been beating yourself up about spending too much on non-essentials, think about what other resources you have to fill that need. What sets off the desire to acquire? State your intention to stop, breathe and contemplate the richness of your life the next time you feel the impulse to make a purchase. Then extend your gratitude by passing on clothing items, CDs and books that no longer fit your life.

3) Touch the earth. Find a place to take off your shoes and really feel the ground supporting you and the grass or moss that is coming back to life. Open all of your senses to the moment — the air on your skin, the wind in the still bare trees, the buds that are forming on the branches, the sounds of birds and other creatures becoming active again. Open your arms and breath deeply, knowing that you are part of this cycle of cold and warm, dark and light, dormant and fertile. Embrace your place in the natural order of life.

Happy spring! Wishing you light and warmth in all aspects of your being…

Savory Rice or Quinoa Saute

Here’s a healthy twist on fried rice that can be as complex or as simple as you’d like. I often make this as a side dish, but you can also add bits of cooked chicken, turkey, sausage or shrimp at the end to make a one-pan meal that is truly satisfying and just needs a salad to round it out.

This will make enough for two as a main dish, four as a side, and calls for having leftover cold rice or quinoa on hand. It actually doesn’t work as well with freshly cooked grain because it will still have too much moisture and result in a mushier dish.

All measurements are more intuitive than exact! Switch up the veggies, increase or decrease amounts to your taste and let your own creativity play.

~Saute 1 small onion in olive oil till transparent. Add 1 diced carrot, a bunch of broccoli or cauliflower cut into small bites (or any other hard, longer cooking vegetable) and continue sauteeing until still firm but beginning to soften. Add diced zucchini or yellow squash and one or two minced cloves of garlic. You could even chop up some  spinach or other leafy green — if you have some already cooked, add it in with the grains.

~When vegetables are cooked, add in about 1 cup of leftover grain and a bit more oil if needed (this works best in a good non-stick or cast iron skillet which needs very little oil). Season to taste with some soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (a non-fermented soy based seasoning that adds salt and richness), and herbs of your choice — my favorites are thyme and marjoram, maybe a little oregano or basil, or sometimes curry powder instead of herbs — and salt and pepper to taste. How about a dash of Tabasco or cayenne for a little heat?

~If adding meat, have it cooked before hand and stir in at the end till just heated through. Or add a half can or so of your favorite beans — garbanzos are perfect with curry seasoning, or try white or red kidney beans with Italian seasonings.

Zero-based eating at its best — use what you have on hand and turn those leftover bits into something truly tasty!

If you come up with a great flavor combination, please come back and share it with the rest of us…

Innoculate yourself against fear

Are you caught up in the fear and anxiety regarding the H1N1 virus and vaccine? There are stories every day about people lining up for it, places running out of it and all of the anger, fear and worry that public health officials and newsmakers are heaping onto it.

I am not here to tell you whether to get the vaccine or not — that’s a very personal decision. But I do know that fear, stress and worry can depress the very immune system you’re hoping to strengthen, and that there are lots of things you can do to bolster yourself whether you choose to vaccinate or not.

Small Steps First

Any time you are feeling overwhelmed and overcome by fears and worries, the best place to start is by choosing one or two simple, doable things to begin creating a shift. When it comes to physical wellbeing, there are some very basic things you can do to feel empowered and hopeful:

1) Wash hands often, and not with antibacterial soap. There is mounting evidence that these soaps help naturally occurring bacteria mutate and thrive, because they have as strong a desire to live as we do! Regular, gentle forms of soap work well and don’t have that unwanted side effect.

2) Boost your immunity naturally by cleaning up your diet. Even in the overindulgent holiday season, you can focus your eating on more nourishing fruits and vegetables — how about a lightly sweetened apple crisp, or roasted sweet potatoes? Any roasted vegetable is more naturally sweet and rich tasting –simply toss with a little olive or grapeseed oil, salt and pepper to taste and spread on a baking sheet, then pop into a hot (400 degrees or even higher) oven till tender and caramelized. Yum! See two of my favorite recipes at the end of this newsletter.

3) Take adaptogenic herbs such as Siberian ginseng, rhodiola or astragalus. These help foster your body’s innate ability to stay balanced in the face of stress and fight off toxic invaders. And if you do start to feel like you’re getting sick, grapefruit seed extract is a wonderful natural antibiotic (Proseed is a high quality brand, www.imhotepinc.com).

4) Think about incorporating therapeutic grade essential oils into your life, such as those made by Young Living (http://selfcare.younglivingworld.com). The oils can be worn or diffused, and are excellent for household cleaning and disinfecting without adding any harmful chemicals or toxic residue to your home or body. I’ve used them in my healing practice and my personal life for over 10 years with great results — they smell amazing and also offer tremendous emotional and spiritual uplift.

Watch What You Say

And what about the words we are saying to ourselves while in the grip of this fear and worry? Remember that our bodies believe every word we say, and we can adjust how we talk to ourselves to create more calm than conflict.

It can be as simple as catching yourself in a downward spiral and stopping for a moment (“wow, there I go again!”). Now that you have broken that chain of thought, replace it with one that sounds more like this: “In this moment, I feel fine.” “Right now, I am simply driving (or cooking, or reading the paper, or listening to music) and all is well.” “My body has an infinite ability to heal and self-regulate, and I trust my innate core of wellness.” Try it and see if you don’t notice an immediate, if subtle, lift in your mood.

A Simple Spiritual Truth

One of my favorite wisdom sayings is “Trust God and tie your camel to a post.” Meaning, yes, have faith that all is well and you are in good hands AND remember that you live in the material world and must take steps to act in accordance with physical laws.

Faith and action work together to create true union within. When you let yourself rest in the knowledge that all is essentially well, and then take solid steps towards assuring that you are in an optimum condition for that to be true, you will truly be well…even if you do come down with a touch of the flu.

TRY THESE SIMPLE, HEALTHY TREATS

Baked Oatmeal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together in a large bowl 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use grapeseed), 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1 egg and ¾ cup of milk. Then add 2 cups organic instant oats, 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and your favorite chopped fruit and nuts to taste (this morning mine was about half a banana and a few handfuls of pecans). Mix thoroughly and pour into lightly greased baking pan, about 8×8. Bake for about 25 minutes or until firm to the touch. Serves 4.

Gluten Free Fruit Crisp

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

You can use any fall fruits — approximately 5 cups of apples or pears, adding dried cranberries or raisins if desired. I use about 5 large Rome apples, sliced and spread in a 9×13 baking dish. You can also add some grated lemon zest, ginger or other flavor boosters. For the topping, melt ½ stick of unsalted butter and mix that into 1 cup instant oats, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1/2 to one cup chopped pecans or walnuts and one teaspoon vanilla extract. Spread over the top of the fruit and bake for about 1 hour. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.