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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesdays are for Tomato soup!

Soups On! Tomato soup that is.





When I think back to a previous life as a server every Wednesday without fail it was tomato basil soup with grilled cheese. Nothing fancy, but I tell you we always sold out - didn't matter what the season. Well I had 4 tomatoes that needed to be used today and so I decided to try and make my own version of tomato soup without all the dairy.

Here is what I had available:

  • Chickpeas (1 can)
  • Tomatoes 4 diced up small (home grown!)
  • Garlic - x-large clove
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Chicken Stock (2 cups)
  • Various dried Herb mixed (Basil, Rosemary, Savory, Thyme, Oregano, Dill Weed, Marjoram, Sage, Tarragon)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Brown Sugar

Step 1 - 3 Tbsp. of Olive Oil and chopped garlic saute (on a low heat)

Step 2 - Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, chickpeas, pinch of salt & pepper, pinch of brown sugar or other high quality sweetener

Step 3 - Cook it for about 10 min. on medium-low heat (until it seems hot, you are the judge)

Step 4 - Take it off the heat and you can either leave the soup as chunky or let it cool a bit and use an immersion blender to puree the soup. If you want more soup add another can of chickpeas and then add a few more cups of chicken or veggie stock.

You might want to add more herbs, salt & pepper to jazz it up. It is totally up to you. Be free of constraints when you toss a meal together. If I had had some greens available I would have tossed those into the soup as well. Experiment!

Enjoy this with some lovely crackers, fancy crusty bread, or whatever else you have on hand. YUM

Let me know if you try it.

The Beauty of an Essential Oil Diffuser



Last night I had the privilege to take a lovely class on "Aromatic Medicine in a Clinical Setting." This class was an action packed 3 hours and was taught by Mindy Green (35 years of experience with natural products). Mindy has a great book out if you want to learn more about aromatherapy basics. The class covered a wide range of topics; essential oil history, how smells are linked to immunity, mood, stress reduction, applications for specific infections, as well safety. Really folks this class packed a punch. Anyway the major theme in the class was that diffusing essential oils is a way to kill airborne bacteria. The diffuser creates teeny tiny droplets/bubbles of essential oil that we take in in low doses.

The beauty of a diffuser is that you can have specific oils for specific jobs. Say you want to create a serene calm environment to relax the family after a long stressful day.You could put Peace & Calming or Lavender into your diffuser. A diffuser could also be placed in your bedroom to enhance restful sleep or ward off airborne bacteria if your spouse or pet is sick.  Or if you know that flu, cold, and sore throat season are on its way (which it is) then you can use Thieves for its anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-septic traits to protect & shield yourself from germs.

The diffuser is beautiful for several reasons:

1. It sends out pleasing scents (who doesn't like pleasing scents?)
2. It can protect our immunity
3. It replaces candles because it has a nice light setting
4. The diffuser can be placed anywhere you frequent in your house. I keep one in my home office as well as in the living room. Though I have to purchase another diffuser for my bedroom.
5. It uses less essential oil than other types of diffusers/methods (another method I use is I place essential oil on a few rocks that I have on a saucer and in the middle of that saucer I keep a votive. When you light the votive the oil diffuses. It takes quite a bit more oil than a diffuser of this nature, but it is certainly a way to get started)

If you want to purchase a diffuser follow this link and then click on the Product Line button on the left. Then in the search box type in diffuser. There are several choices, but the Home diffuser and Ultrasonic diffuser are great choices as they use up less essential oil and have the great colored lights. These diffusers come with two essential oils to start you out, but you might want to throw in a Thieves Oil or Peace & Calming to round out your choices.

Let me know if you are already using a diffuser. What do you think? Have you noticed a difference in your home environment? Are you children or pets calmer? Do you have questions? Let me know. Leave a comment!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Blank Space, otherwise know as Meditation




Today I wanted to write a little bit about meditation. My goal is to help you understand that meditation doesn't have to be about completely blanking out your thoughts. I certainly used to think that way and therefore rejected the entire idea of relaxation & meditation. Let me tell you that I was never interested in quieting my mind. I'm a talker and if I am not chatting away my brain won't stop clattering either.


I was that kid in kindergarden that could not take a nap. I was wired. I would lay on my little woven nap and wonder why we had to sit and be quiet. The teacher probably wanted to hit me over the head and put me out. I even remember a high school gym class where we had to listen to a recording and follow the prompts. It was one of the longest 45 minutes of my life.  I have had a hard time being quiet, relaxing, and slowing down. Does this sound familiar? If you know me you probably know that I like to buzz around. I like to have something going on. I keep lists for the simple fact that I like to know I have something to do and then cross off the items - its gratifying. Isn't it? Always heading somewhere. Always planning out the next step. Or is it?


Well, a few years ago I was extremely stressed out and it was making me really sick. I was having intense digestion issues, back and neck pain and I couldn't sleep no matter how tired I was. Well I decided to consult my "team" of health professionals - Acupuncturist, Kinesthetic Doctor, Massage Therapists, Energy workers, Personal Trainer, Holistic Nutritionist, etc. As you can see I do not have an MD in my "team" but that is because I have never found a allopathic doctor that really seemed to understand the importance of taking a 360 approach to health. An MD who had the time and interest in helping me get healthy (recommendations please!). The verdict from these health professionals was that I needed to relax.


During this time I was getting a lot of advice and learning to take better care of myself. I was reading up on how diet & lifestyle play a huge roll in your health. I was forced to slow down so I started revisiting the idea of relaxation & meditation. I started to get back into Yoga. I took a class on the medicinal effects of Yoga. Learning that yoga has many aspects besides the asanas - the poses you see at the gym. Yoga means union and it is the union of our consciousness with the universe. Learning that Yoga was more than movements was fascinating.

Yoga is also about learning to breath. How many of us hold our breath for one reason or another? If you are doing it now - take a deep belly breath through your nose and then exhale at the same length as your inhale. Breathing in and of it self is healing and relaxing. Did you feel a change when you took a breath?


So if you are not too keen on quieting your mind. That's okay try breathing and just focusing on the breath. Close your eyes. You can do this anytime. At a meeting, at a stop light, while you are bathing, while you are eating, or if you are speaking to someone that rubs you the wrong way.


Look at meditation as a gateway to relaxation. Close your eyes and release your to do lists. Focus on breathing and think only of the breath. If your mind moves to thoughts of plans for another day or that you are hungry just return to the act of breathing. Do not judge yourself. Just be.


There are so many forms of meditation. Try any of them. This post does not even touch upon all the options you have; walking meditation, mantras, eating meditation, bowing, sitting, prayer, chanting, etc.


Here are a few places around the Minneapolis area that you can get started with a meditative practice:


http://www.commongroundmeditation.org/
http://www.themeditationcenter.org/jnana/index.php

Or just google meditation and you will find loads of fabulous YouTube videos, books, cd's, and other valuable mindfulness tools.

What forms of meditation have you tried? What works for you? Let me know.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Swap out your sports drink...

Swap out your sports drink for a more healthful option.




I'm crazy about coconut water. Have you ever tried it? If not and you drink sports drinks for electrolytes consider swapping out the sugary beverages and trying coconut water. It is 60 calories per 11 oz container. This morning before I headed out for a sweaty hour long session of kettlebells followed by Yoga I drank some coconut water. It was pretty early about 5:30 am and I felt so much better after fueling up on this single ingredient drink (I was pretty tired).

The only draw back to this lovely beverage is that it is not a local item. I try to buy local foods as much as possible. I live in Minnesota and we haven't got any coconuts growing here. Which means that this lovely beverage needs to be shipped and trucked in, not all that great to the environment. Of course neither are those other "power" drinks, plus they are not good for your health. But, that aside I still enjoy this beverage. Yum! I pick mine up at my local co-op. When you go shopping look for it and if you do not see it then ask. I have asked my co-op to buy certain food items and then they appear like magic! Its wonderful.

If you check out the link you will also see that one of the benefits is also a hangover "cure". Try it out already and then come back here and tell me what you think! If you already drink coconut water tell me why. Where do you buy it?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Buddha Prince - A walking play about His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama



I sit and write this as I drink my hot cup of Tibetan Medicine before bed. Today my life is reminding me about my education around Tibetan Buddhism & Tibetan Medicine. And I would like to share a teeny tiny bit.

Have you ever been to a walking play or a play where you get to be involved in the production in some way? I have been to many and have acted in a few. There is a feeling of connection with the actors that you don't always get when they are up on a stage. Anyway...I walked across the street to attend this play at my local park. Lucky me to have that opportunity.

The play was about His Holiness the Dalai Lama and it portrayed what it was like for him to be selected at 3 years old. He thought his life would be a castle full of toys. Something all 3 year olds dream about I suppose. Then it walked through what is was like living in Lhasa. He was playful and enjoyed dancing, animals, and avoiding his homework.

Then the play talked about his meeting with Chairman Mao and how he trusted Mao, until Mao referred to religion as poison...and in the end you saw him crossing over to India. Tibetans were fearful he too would be murdered and he is the light. So he made a very hard decision to flee to India. India has now been the haven for the Tibetan people for the last 50 years. Tibetans who have made the treacherous journey in search of freedom.

I shared this teeny bit of information not to tout religion, but to remind you that we are all just people. People who deserve love and respect. Life is precious and sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that simple fact. Travel the world with a backpack and you will see that kindness and respect for human life is what you are looking for when you do something as simple as try to order from a menu in a foreign language. People are people and we can share in that.

I want to leave you with a saying from His Holiness. A saying that I hope reminds you to be good to yourself, good to your loved ones, good to those pesky co-workers who may drive you crazy or the man you rather give the middle finger to because he cut you off. Be compassionate to all sentient beings.


Never give up
No matter what is going on
Develop the heart
Too much energy in your country
Is spent on developing the mind
Instead of the heart
Develop the heart
Be compassionate
Not just to your friends
But to everyone
Be compassionate
Work for peace
In your heart and in the world
And I say again
Never give up
No matter what is happening
No matter what is going on around you
Never give up


- Tenzin Gyatso, XIV Dalai Lama

"That which you are seeking is seeking you"

Today I am trying to get my ducks in a row. Last week I participated in a convention which kept me rather busy. I also had the opportunity to host two people who were also attending the convention here in Minneapolis. And I must say it was a wonderful time. So today is a day for me to email, blog and get things on the calendar. While I was organizing my paperwork, files, and essential oils I decided to listen to a recording of a session I had with an astrologer a few years ago. It was fascinating.

Now I have always been interested in the unexplained so an astrology reading was totally up my alley. I had never done it before because of the cost, however I had a nice paying job at the time and decided to go for it. The woman I went to see had done a reading for my friend a few months before than and she was really happy with the whole experience. Even a few years ago I thought that the session was pretty right on. BUT...

One of the many creepy exciting things was that this astrologer spoke of Tibetan Buddhism and understanding the Bardo. At the time I had no idea what she was taking about but now revisiting that recording I can say I had starting studying Tibetan Medicine and just returned from a trip to India in June - specifically Dharmsala where the Dalai Lama & his people have made a home. How wacky is that? When this session took place I had no idea I would be so interested in Buddhism & meditation and the concepts of compassion.

This was one example of how interesting the session was. I will not go on and on about how great the session was, but it filled me with reminders of what life was like nearly 3 years ago.

While listening to the session I had a recurring message resurface over and over in my mind. A phrase I learned from a teacher "That which you are seeking is seeking you". This phrase has brought me a lot of peace. I have been searching for many things in my life and wanting concrete answers - quickly. I'm sure many of you want the same straightforward answers. Of course we all know it doesn't work that way, but using the phrase as a mantra has helped me tremendously to "let go" the idea of knowing.

The last few years I have been learning to "let go" and my intention of using this phrase is to let my desires in my heart find me instead of trying to use my mind. This is a continual struggle, but it is worth it.

What are you seeking?
What have you found in the process?
Have you ever seen an astrologer or psychic?

Let me know I am very curious.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Yoga with Essential Oils



I am attending the Young Living convention in Minneapolis this
week. I just wanted to share with you a neat experience I had this
morning. Starting your Yoga practice using essential oils. The theme
was grounding and letting go. The oils that were used were
frankinsense, sacrid mountain, and finally peace and calming. I will
post a picture later today. They placed a drop in our left hands and
then we rubbed our hands together 3 times and cupped our hands to our
nose and then took deep breathes in & out. It was lovely. It was not
fancy but had a nice effect on calming the mind.
I hope your day is filled with peace and calming.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September Newsletter

Hi Folks -

I am looking for some feedback.
Any ideas or recommendations for topics?
Would you rather see a shorter newsletter?

Thanks!

~Mary

Please click the link below to few the newsletter:

'Click the Share button to create links to this email on popular social networking and bookmarking size like Facebook, Twitter, and Digg.'

Shared via AddThis

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I've got a dirty little secret...


Well maybe it isn't so dirty or all that shocking, but I have been holding on to some cooking magazines for far too long. The secret part is that I have NEVER read any of these magazines cover to cover. Its crazy. They are now over a year old.

If you know anything about Feng Shui you know that clutter can function like a blood clot to your system. Not a pretty picture. And given that I am in the business of health I take my entire environment very seriously. So for the last few weeks I have been purging several things out of the house. I must say that the process has brought piece of mind and my house feels even cozier. If you want to learn more about Feng Shui check out my friend Jessica's blog.

So dear readers one of the last things to purge are these magazines (woo hoo). I have given myself a little time to gather a recipe or two so that I can share them with you. Otherwise, they are going out the door.

What are you dirty secrets?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Seeing Green














I wish I was talking about money because we can all use more. But, today I am talking about GREENS. They are my favorite and so I took a few pictures of what I have been up to. I am preparing a menu for a cooking class and I still had a few things in my fridge to finish off before I pick up my next CSA box from Harmony Valley Farm later today. I love picking up a box of veggies and determining what to create. It involves experimenting which is always challenging and fun.

So back to the green things. I love to eat greens. They make me happy. So of course I want to include them in my class menu. First I cut some collard greens out of the garden (yes we are grateful to the man who grew them) then cleaned them and tossed the steams. Then I determined what to do. I don't usually know what I am going to do until I do it.

So I toasted some walnuts in the toaster oven, while the walnuts toasted I steamed the collards (with salty water), while the collards were steaming I chopped up some garlic. Then I tossed the garlic in a pan with coconut oil. Then once the collards had cooked a bit I took them off the heat and chopped them fine and tossed that into the pan with the garlic. I fetched the walnuts and then tossed those in too. YUMMY!!!

I was also in the mood to get back into making soups. Never-mind that the weather is warm and beautiful in Minnesota, which I am thankful. I will not complain, but for some reason soups are calling my name. So I gathered zucchini & collard greens from our yard, a cauliflower, a leek and various green peppers from my fridge. Then I chopped everything up small, tossed in the main ingredients into some chicken stock and then cooked till done. I added loads of garlic as it is a gift from the gods and then I seasoned with various spices. The last thing that I add to cook are the greens make sure to add some extra virgin olive oil and salt when you add the greens to keep the vibrant green color. The various spices were thyme, sage, and oregano I also used a lot of ground pepper.

The reason I decided to make a soup of this nature is that I wanted a CREAMY soup. This soup turned out super creamy with out any cream. It looks like broccoli cheese soup, but not quite as think. So you can see from the pictures (no they are not fancy pictures and I thought they would be in another order) that the soup started out chunky and then I used an immersion blender to make it smooth.

I made a ton of soup so I can get my greens in! It freezes really well too so you can stock up.

What are your favorite soups? Any tips to share?


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Emotional Baggage

This morning I had the intention of writing more about exercise and what I have been up to lately, but as it turns out I stumbled on this link. The link will take you out to YouTube and you will find a snippet from Deepak Chopra. He talks about releasing emotional toxins. I have been studying this concept for the last few years.

We as a society tend to blame others for how we feel. If we are not blaming others we are blaming situations from the past or other scapegoats to make us feel better. Deepak says briefly in this clip that in order for one to release these toxic emotions you first need to take responsibility for them. This can be really hard. At least I certainly rather not accept that I am the one creating my negative experiences. Then he says to witness what those emotions feel like. Ask your self am I sad or angry or whatever? Once you feel the emotion and define that sensation, write about it so that you are looking at the situation as a nonjudgemental observer. Then when you have fully expressed the sensation share those feelings with a loved one. The last little bit that he mentions is to then release the emotional toxin through fire or set the emotion free in the wind. I think that releasing is the second hardest part. For some reason we hold on to negativity like armor. At least I think I used to. I have learned that we hold on to what we know. We know what it is like to stay stuck, hurt, angry, pissed, or annoyed in life. But, the challenge is to release those feelings and embrace new emotions of joy, contentment, satisfaction or peace.

We are all given the right to these more appealing emotions, but first we have to stop getting in our own way.

What do you think about releasing emotional toxins?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What's for breakfast?



Breakfast is really important to me. Which means I take it very seriously. Well usually I do, but on a day like today I went down stairs and it seemed like I had nothing to eat. At first I cut up a lovely nectarine and ate that followed by some green grapes. Then a few hours later I was still hungry so I looked at what I had:

Avocados
Tomatoes
Mixed Greens
Eggs
Mochi
Carrots
Peppers
Onions

I first started out making a Mochi Casserole with the onion, peppers and carrots and pieces of cut up Mochi. Then I could not stop cooking so I sliced up the avocado & tomato and arranged it on a plate. I ran out to the garden to pick some basil leaves and then I sprinkled some ground pepper on the tomatoes and placed the basil leaves under the tomatoes. After I was finished with the basil I decided I really wanted eggs for breakfast (like I usually do) and scrambled them up. I placed the scrambled eggs on top of the mixed greens and cut some chives from the garden to add a little something. Then I drizzled some Extra-Virgin Olive Oil on my greens and over the tomatoes.

This did not take too long, but I made enough for breakfast and lunch.

What creations do you come up with for breakfast?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Is this the kind of advice you are looking for?

"Omnivore's Dilemma" Author Michael Pollan's New Advice on Buying Food: "Don't Buy Any Food You've Ever Seen Advertised"

Shared via AddThis

I know that this might seem a bit unorthodox, but I am a serious believer of this journalist/activist. Michael Pollan wrote both the Omnivore's Dilemma as well as In Defense of Food and although he is just a journalist he certainly has a serious concern for the country's well-being. Most of the time it is easy enough to believe whatever the TV tells you, but what is believable about Pollan is that he is a great story teller and you are able to take in what he is saying on both a high level as well as basic and I think that is what cinches you into buying into the severity of the situation.

Take a look at this interview and tell me what you think about what Michael Pollan has to say about buying food that is advertised.


Relationships


Hello Yawl -

I don't know why, but I am having one of those days where things seem extra hard. Anyone ever felt that way? There can be many reasons why someone might have these feelings.

However the sun is shining and its in the 80's and I want to be super energized and excited about life - like I usually am, but alas I am instead wondering what it is that I have or haven't eaten in the last few days that ='s this total state of blah.

Now as I write this I have a hunch that what I am missing has to do with my social calendar and nothing to do with my diet. I used to be a social butterfly and I would exhausted myself trying to make sure my calendar was packed. I took great pride in a full weekend. Then suddenly my life changed as lives do. I went from a job where I traveled a lot during the week and the weekend was the only time I was home. I crammed everything into those weekends; seeing family and friends, hopping from appointment to appointment, doing laundry, repacking and the hopping back on a plane. This was how life was for a few years. I really enjoyed it and then when I got a new job where I stayed "put" I started to neglect my social calendar and it felt good. Not having any plans on the weekend was a blessing. I stopped calling people.

Now I still thoroughly enjoyed seeing my family and friends, but I had always been the person in charge of these relationships. It is a lot of work maintaining relationships as I am sure many of you know. I learned this thru trial and error and over time became confident in my skills as a friend. About the same time I stopped making plans for every waking minute of my life I decided that it isn't only my job to keep my relationships running smoothly. It takes both parties...

Now that I have realized that my "break" from a social life was something I very much needed is now the very same thing that is draining me today. This past weekend felt like a mini-vacation. It was very low key. We stayed home and hung out with our dog, read our paperbacks, and rented a movie. We both enjoyed this, but now after a long-weekend at home with just each other we are feeling stir crazy.

Today is Labor Day 2009. This is a day where friends and family gather for a BBQ. Enjoy the remaining bits of summer with people who feed you just as much as any nutrient. Last Thursday it had finally dawned on us that it was going to be a long weekend and we would want to spend time with others. Unfortunately by the time this realization occurred to everyone was busy.

Next Labor Day you can bet that I will not make the same mistake. I wish everyone out there a glorious day full of nutrient dense relationships.

Oh and by the way. Now that I have this "figured out" I am feeling 100% better!

Please share you thoughts by commenting on if relationships feed you too. Thanks





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