Sunday
Jun202010

Happy Summer Solstice

Monday, June 21 marks the official start of summer. I love the energy of this season. The sunshine, the joy, the feeling of celebration. From the extra quality family time to the abundance of beauty, color and flavor on the farmers market stands, to the simple beauty of the magnolia blossoms, it's my favorite season by far.

I celebrated the beginning of the season with one of my very favorite rituals: A Yoga Mala. A yoga mala usually refers to a string of beads used for meditation or prayer purposes, much like a rosary. The practice of a Yoga Mala, like the one I did this morning, is typically done on the day of a solstice or equinox. It consists of 108 sun salutations, each salutation representing a mala bead. For me, each salutation is part meditation and part prayer. It's a wonderful way to express joy and gratitude and a beautiful way to celebrate this wonderful season. At least one of those expressions of joy and gratitude was for this practice and space called Sage Kitchen.

Have a beautiful (official) first day of summer!    

Wednesday
Jun092010

June Joy

My Mindfulness Class focused on joy and gratitude this past week. It has been the perfect focus, because I've found -- even when I'm not really looking or thinking about it -- that there is a whole lot of joy out there, as well as within. Just check out the light and bright that was so completely humming and beaming at the Farmers Market this morning. June gloom has met its match. Summer is busting through the door with cherries, peppers, berries, peaches. There's no holding back the vibrant colors and sweetness of summer. Coming soon to a doorstep near you.....

I wrapped up my Mindfulness Class last night. So fitting that last weeks topic was gratitude and joy. I was surprised and delighted by this. I've found that during these days of my own challenges and growth, nothing is more grounding than meditating on all the things I have to be grateful for. And sharing laughter and joy with someone you love is a gift.

One of the funnier moments of this six-week long course was a bust-out, laugh-til-tears experience I had with my dear friend this past Saturday during class. We were told to ask each other the simple question: "What brings you joy?" And before we both knew it, we were cracking up and couldn't stop. Laughter. Happiness. Pure hilarious joy. Head-to-toe delight. It still makes me smile just remembering it. I highly recommend it. It's so very good for you.  

So, what brings you joy?

MARC offers drop in classes all around town. Check out their website.

I wish you each happiness, joy and the space and time to consider all the things in your life that you are grateful for.

 

 

Monday
May312010

Summer, Summer, Summer

This holiday marks the beginning of summer for me, even if summer isn't officially recognized on the calendar until later in June. We're on the threshhold of my most favorite of seasons. I have already seen happy glimpses of summer days and the teasing approach of a new season in the harvests at the farmers market. The return of bell peppers, cherries and peaches grace the stands, promising many days of sunshine and goodness to come.

I've been grateful to see so many wonderful,  informative, and celebratory agricultural movements and events in the media in recent days. There are so many people working to bring much-deserved awareness, recognition and gratitude to the simple, hard work of growing food. As the summer approaches and your own summer garden blooms and bears the fruit of your own love and work, make sure to give some gratitude to yourself for maintaining your own connection to the land and nourishing yourself and your family. And if you haven't planted yet, it's not too late. I've still got a whole lot of planting to do myself. I took this picture on one of my delivery routes a few months ago. I'm not usually a fan of graffiti, but this made me smile. Speaking of delivery routes... 

Let's bring on the food! The first menu for June is UP! I will be delivering 2 Raw Meals and 2 Cooked Meals on Thursdays beginning this week and throughout the summer until a couple of weeks in August. I'll keep you posted on the delivery schedule and special events to come.

You can sign up for a morning of fitness and food this Friday, June 4. I'll be hosting a Bootcamp Brunch with an amazing personal trainer, Lisa Davis, at my home. We'll enjoy a 50 minute workout followed by a delicious Sage Kitchen brunch.  Your donation of $40 will directly benefit Grant Elementary School. Please email me if you are interested.

Gratitude, respect and appreciation to all of those we honor on this Memorial Day. 

 

Monday
May242010

Sunscreen 

Offerings : Buddhist Wisdom for Every Day-Danielle Follmi, Olivier FollmiI have this great book that one of my dearest friends gave to me. Every morning, I read the quote for the day and look at the image on the opposite page. May 23's quote was this:

We must especially learn the art of directing mindfulness into the closed areas of our life.

Jack Kornfield

 

 

I thought about that quote all day yesterday and realized that it's probably one of the hardest things to do. This whole delving into "closed areas" of life business. Valuable, worthy work, but...Oh, so difficult. It's so easy to be mindful about things we enjoy, easy to be mindful and make adjustments in these "open" areas. But then there are those darker places, those sharper points, where mindfulness takes more effort, more acceptance, more discipline, more work. These are the places where we have the opportunity to grow the most. These places where we resist change/growth/acceptance/forgiveness/pain, etc. are full of potential for progress, clarification, honesty, closure.

What does this have to do with sunscreen?

I read this blog post this morning. Which led me to this website, which posted this list. When I googled "sunscreen in the news" I got this:

  • News for sunscreen in the news


    Chicago Tribune
    EWG SunscreenRecommendations: 10 Suncreens That Work‎ - 2 hours ago
    Flickr photo by Joe ShlabotnikThe Environmental Working Group (EWG) says forget everything you ever knew about sunscreen purchases for summer. ...
    The Stir (blog) - 41 related articles »
  • Sunscreens and Cancer

    A review of the evidence linking the use of sunscreens to an increased risk of melanoma and ... International Health News - Your Gateway to Better Health ...
    vvv.com/healthnews/dsunscre.html - Cached - Similar
  • Is Your Sunscreen Safe? - Health NewsStory - WCVB Boston

    Jun 19, 2007 ... SUNSCREEN STUDY. Is Your Sunscreen Safe? Some Sunscreens Not Up To Snuff; Sunscreen Study Group · Study Summary · News Release. Most Read ...
    www.thebostonchannel.com › Health - Cached - Similar
  • Study: Many SunscreensMay Be Accelerating Cancer - AOL News

    May 21, 2010 ... (May 24) -- Almost half of the 500 most popular sunscreen products may actually increase the speed at which malignant
  •  

    So there's a lot of buzz around sunscreen. Here in sunny Southern California, sunscreen is a fact of life. We apply our SPF facial moisturizer daily and lather our kids up and send them off thinking that we're doing what's best for ourselves and our offspring. Here's another opportunity to be mindful about what we're actually doing and really look into the choices we have. 

    This media barrage got me thinking about what we truly choose to be mindful of. What do we read, listen to, say, eat, then ultimately digest? Is it truly nourishing or a superficial energy burst? Sure, I'll change my sunscreen, but what might be the more difficult choices that I haven't addressed yet? Unfortunately, across our planet, the problem is our food choices and the unfortunate unhealthy evolution and their consequences. Why is food such a "closed area"? Why is it so difficult to practice mindfulness here, and exponentially more difficult to actually apply change to food choices?

    Fortunately we have the luxury - the priviledge - of choices. We have resources we trust, a whole lot of information and the reassurance of scientific studies and we have our priorities. We are fortunate that we can discern and find a place of peace for ourselves. Am I still talking about sunscreen? Yes, I am. But I'm also talking about food and business and fitness and the words we choose to speak and the charities we choose to support.

    Sunscreen just happens to be a pretty open topic for me, so mindfulness in making new choices here is pretty straightforward. But beyond sunscreen, there's so much more. I used to wish for just one knowledgeable and trustworthy source to tell me what was safe to eat, what was healthy for body and mind. I felt too overwhelmed by all this information, all this research, all my own questions, all this new and difficult knowledge that was contrary to what I thought I knew. Now instead of the overwhelm and the dismay, I find myself grateful for all the information. And now I take the time to research and check facts and sources instead of allowing myself to be blindsided by the latest headline. It's a new muscle that I'm building, this "educated discernment" muscle. Oh sure, I practiced "happy oblivion" with wild abandon for many years. It may have been fine while it lasted, but it left me with spiritual and informational malnourishment. In many ways, I'm still in recovery. But happily, what I've found in these last few years of journeying toward this present point, is that I am healthier having the knowledge. Happier having grappled and fought and been present with "X" (insert your own "closed place" point of contention here) and ultimately figured out what works best for me.   

    One of the great "take aways" of my ongoing Mindfulness workshop, is that once you begin to be mindful during meditation, once you begin to train that "muscle" or part of the brain, you begin to apply it to all facets of your daily life. No matter how miniscule or how seemingly overwhelming it may seem.

    So beyond sunscreen, there's food, and beyond food, there's spirituality, there's depth beyond measure. Isn't it our absolute privilege to do the work, and apply the mindfulness to every facet and just unapologetically and vibrantly grow? When I think of every day as part of that process, it's invigorating.

    And with that, I leave you with a little buckwheat in chocolate milk. If I didn't venture into a "closed space", I might not have experienced the happy, healthy bliss of this little mid-morning snack.

    Off into the great outdoors to enjoy the sun! (with hat and sunglasses on)

    Have a day full of sunshine and bliss! 

       

    Sunday
    May232010

    Buckwheat

    After I set up my dehydrator, I knew exactly what I wanted to make first. CEREAL! It's been several years since I've enjoyed a serious bowl of cereal. I have to say, it was a wonderful reunion with one of my old favorite treats. I figured that making raw cereal would be simple and delicious, but didn't want to prop my oven door open in lieu of a dehydrator. And I could never justify the price tag of the raw cereals at the store, so i drifted away from my cereal habit. 

    I loved the simplicity of Ani's Buckwheat Crispies recipe, but had never made it because I didn't have a dehydrator. Her basic recipe is also a springboard for pizza crusts, biscuits, muesli, bars and would make a great addition to cobblers and parfaits or a yummy crunchy topping for desserts like pudding and ice cream. I simply soaked 1 cup of Buckwheat Groats overnight in 3 cups of filtered water. I rinsed them well and spread them onto the dehyrator trays. 3 hours later I had cereal! Real, raw, honest-to-oh-my-goodness-cereal. 

    Today, I poured it into a bowl with some fresh, newly created Vanilla Banana Cashew Milk. Heavenly. 

    This combination had a simple and organic evolution today: I made the crispies on Friday and had happily been snacking on them in their simplist form: straight out of the jar by the handful. Today, I made the Vanilla Banana Cashew Smoothie to enjoy during a blustery baseball game this afternoon. Instead of just washing the remnants out of the Vita Mix, I added 2 cups of water and blended it on high to clear the thicker mixture from the sides of the blender. I poured that liquid into a glass container and stored it in the fridge. *

    When I got home from the game, I was HUNGRY. Hence the bowl of buckwheat crispies and the milk.  

    I'll get to the recipes in just a sec. Let me tell you just a little bit about buckwheat. Raw, organic buckwheat groats are inexpenseive and are easily found in the bulk section. I had done a little research on Buckwheat previously since my husband had developed an addiction intense craving for buckwheat soba noodles after having them here. They have since replaced the noodles in his weekly batch of homemade chicken noodle soup (the only dish I prepare with meat these days -- I'm holding off on meat preparation until I finish this book.). A good trade off from the tradtional egg noodles and more nutritious than the organic pasta too:

    The Notable Nutrients in Soba

    Nutritionally buckwheat provides vitamins B1 and B2, several minerals, and nearly twice the amount of proteins found in rice. Rutin, a kind of bioflavonoid that includes the catechins of green tea and the polyphenols of red wine, is not found in other grains or beans, but is contained in great quantity in buckwheat. This bioflavonoid strengthens capillaries and so helps people suffering from arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure. Recent studies indicate that rutin is also a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals, which are responsible for many cancers.

    Health Benefits of Buckwheat

    Buckwheat also contains choline. Choline, a compound in the vitamin B complex that plays an important role in metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and decreases cholesterol.

    The following is the summary of the major health benefits of buckwheat.

    Decreases cholesterol

    Lowers blood pressure

    Reduces fat accumulation

    Promotes healthy bowel movements

    Fits a well-balanced and low-calorie diet

    More info here. And HERE.

    Alright now, on to the recipes.

    Ani's Buckwheat Crispies

    1 cup raw organic buckwheat groats

    3 cups filtered water

    Soak groats in water in large bowl overnight. In the morning, drain, rinse very well, and spready evenly on dehydrator trays at 104 degrees for 3-4 hours or until completely dry.

    Store in airtight jar.

    Vanilla Banana Cashew Smoothie and Milk

    2 cups filtered water

    1/2 cup cashews (soaked for at least one hour)

    3 pitted medjool dates

    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

    1/2 tablespoon alcohol free vanilla extract

    1 banana

    Blend all ingredients in high speed blender until smooth & creamy. The beauty of this smoothie is that you can enjoy it at room temp or add ice for a cool, satisfying shake or pour it into a saucepan and warm it on the stove on a low temp for a warm, comforting cup of goodness. I suggest adjusting the amount of water to your own preference. Just remember that if you want to make the Milk, make sure you don't make your smoothie so thin that you don't have enough "reserve" in your blender. Two drinks in one! So great! 

    Milk

    Once you pour your smoothie out, you'll have plenty of extra stuck in your blender.  Simply add 1 1/2 - 2 cups of filtered water and blend until well mixed. Store in glass container in the fridge.

    I haven't had the chance to try this recipe with coconut water yet, but that would be a delicious variation!

    Buckwheat on it's own is going to give you some delicious health benefits. Add the hearty goodness of this yummy milk, and you're good to go!

    *I used to get a bit frustrated when I looked at the bottom of my Vita Mix and knew I couldn't get a lot of the delicious dressing/cream/sauce/ etc. out without a lot of spatula time. Lately I've been blending water into the remnants at the bottom of the Vitamix and learned that what looks like the sad dregs of sauces or salad dressings can turn into the delicious and flavorful base for soups. Coconut cashew cream remnants blended up with just a little water turns into a great milk or smoothie base as well. 

     

    If you get the chance, make this recipe soon so you have a delightfully healthy choice for breakfast or snack for the rest of your week. The milk will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for about 5 days and the crispies will last in an airtight container for months.

    Have a wonderful week everyone!