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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Quarantine Food Diaries, The Source of Suffering, Raising Teenagers, and How Pork Rinds Inspired Me


 

Ever sit and listen to someone, or ourselves talk? Really hear? Not the details of the specific story, today or yesterday but the big picture? We are like a plate of spaghetti, a veritable nest of  good versus bad intermingled with each other, sometimes appearing to take shape and have a pattern and at other times complete tangled knots of confusion.  We are a never ending series of, "I want this, and I don't want that, more of this and less of that, I like, I don't like" and so on and so on. We are in constant craving and desire or avoidance and fear. And when we are not we sit in our own ego and every once and a while we may become aware of this and sit in the space of emptiness. There is a name for this in both the yogic teaching and buddhist teachings, it is called Avidya or Dukkha.



Avidya means, the clouding of perception, it is described as the root cause of obstacles that prevent us from recognizing things as they really are and this description is broken down further in to four limbs of this tree called the kleshas.  In Buddhism Dukkha is the name given to the universal suffering we are born into and the Four Noble Truths are our guide to eliminating this suffering. 

 It's important to know that seeing things as good or bad is not what to look for, it is instead simply to notice, become aware of when we are using these afflictions of the mind, notice it is that which is actually causing the suffering we feel. 

 The Ego, one of the four Kleshas is not in itself a good or bad thing, a sense of self associated with the ego is ok, a self important sense of self, comparing one to another placing one's self as better than, more knowledgeable than, higher than, this is where the ego gets sticky, where our perception can begin to cause harm, suffering.  The buddha's teachings speak about egolessness, this is an extreme discipline of no ego, of losing the idea of self to the greater sense of oneness in all things. I love this as an ideal, a discipline, but in the world this is as doable as imagining your child will never speak back to you if you simply hold this space of no ego, no hierarchy. Believe me I've tried, it requires that all beings be striving for this same egolessness together, and well teenagers are at the developmental stage of their ego. Parenting without Avidya, there is the true discipline. 

Raga is the word for our attachments, things we think we should have or not have. These are our cravings and desires. We think we are owed physical possessions or physical connections. Our relationships to love, within familial relationships or partner relationships are another place of sticky thinking. We think because of the role one plays in this lifetime, mother, child, sister, lover and so on that they have a responsibility to love in a certain way. Imagine for a moment if we could lose our expectations of other, of even ourselves how that would open up space, like a breath of fresh air to enjoy the present moment with whatever has arrived. We get into sticky places of thinking we want to be with one person or another share this kind of time instead of that kind of time, leading us down this uncharted path of potential disappointment or longing, neither of which a thing that helps to hold a space of inner calm and serenity, right? And apply this to things, possessions in our lives and we are in a constant state of wanting or craving more, a better job, a nicer car, a vacation to escape our difficult lives, dinners out, the latest style in clothes and so on and so on. One of my favorite quotes pulls me right to the core of this yo-yo ing back and forth between wanting and not wanting: 

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes"

-Marcel Proust 

It couldn't be more centering, finding the beauty, the peace , the whatever we think we are lacking by seeing differently the space we are inhabiting. I release the suffering caused by these attachments by losing the attachment to all this pushing and pulling. We go on vacation and sit watching a sunset and say, "ah, how peaceful, how beautiful" as if the sun doesn't set in a visible place right where we live. If we could pause long enough in our busy minds to see and feel gratitude for what is in our world, as if taking a 360 degree view around instead of the pin pointed focus of our current desire we might just catch a glimpse of the beauty that is always there for us.


Dvesa is the word used for the limb of suffering that comes from our avoidance of unpleasant or unfamiliar things. Ever decided not to do something because you had never done it before? I'm talking about our habitual behaviors, think about how you do things and how attached you are to doing them that way because, you always have, because you family always has and so on, now think about the flipside to this, the rejection of the way others do things because it is not like you do them, or if you are asked to try something new, trust in someone, be vulnerable a good mix of avoidant and attachment behaviors swell up inside while you're trying to decide, again this pushing and pulling that leaves the brain tired and that part inside you that has intuition, real knowing, is compromised, pushed down and covered with all these rules you've set for yourself. The next time something comes up, ask yourself really if your beliefs are really serving what will bring you inner serenity. I'm careful not say happiness because I'm not condoning irresponsible, harming behavior as a way of breaking free from the rules that bind us. I am instead using the word inner serenity, a choice based on non harming behavior towards yourself and others would not lead you to make choices that would then cause harm. Read that again.

And finally,  Abhinivesa - (Fear) One of the biggest stop signs in our own ability to release suffering is our fear, the what if statements, the potential problems of the future, our inaction due to our perception of fear about whatever it may be. I've always heard that anxiety is worry or fear about the future, where depression is worry and ruminating over the past and fear is our biggest elephant in the room where it comes to these debilitating mental health states and fear keeps our bodies in the sympathetic nervous system or the fight and flight mode. We cannot find inner serenity without accessing the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest mode and to do that we must be out of a state of fear and in a state of complete presence.

All of these limbs when practiced with discipline are the path to enlightenment. This path, this discipline, this is the goal, not how long it takes to arrive but simply the disciplined journey. In raising teenagers the commitment to this path does not yield results quickly but rather it lays seeds that will, if watered germinate in the time that they are meant to for each individual human. We can't rush the process, we can't wish for different reality, that is the practice, releasing attachments, being aware of what we are avoiding due to unfamiliarity,  what we are afraid of and how we are using our ego.



Pasta Estiva with Pork Rind "breadcrumbs"




Ingredients for 2

1/2 red onion chopped

1 jar high quality tuna in olive oil,  I use Coles

handful cherry tomatoes

Bunch of basil

buffalo mozzarella, cubed and set aside 

Epic pork rinds ( they are an ethical company) ground up



Saute' chopped onion in 2 tbsp of the olive oil from the tuna jar on medium heat until translucent, add tuna and cherry tomatoes, salt,  pepper and toss to coat and soften the tomatoes, set aside.

Boil water and cook whatever gluten free pasta or flour pasta you prefer reserve a cup of the salted water.

Toss the pasta and sauce together, in the sauce pan, add water over a medium heat and mozzarella and shredded basil at the last moments.

Plate and sprinkle with more pepper and pork rind "breadcrumbs" .

Buon appetito !


Friday, March 19, 2021

The importance of sleep, How to do it Better, and a Calming Elixir to Sip...




We consider sleep secondary to waking, a servant to our day, when sleep is equally as important as our active waking hours. In fact what happens when we sleep is we organically engage the parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest mode which resets our body's ability to heal and repair. 

Insomnia and sleep disorders are the cause of an infinite number of chronic illnesses and mood disorders. To name a few, insulin resistance, depression, obesity, poor digestion,  brain fog, stress related auto immune diseases and the list continues, so why do we focus so little attention on our sleep habits? 

No one says they like being an insomniac, that they enjoy tossing and turning all night, right? Even fewer of us enjoy having the dull eyes and dull skin associated with lack of sleep.  When we allow sleep to convert our nervous system from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic and let the body begin it's auto scanning and healing of tissues and organs we are doing are waking hours a serious favor, and this is what happens in just part of our sleep cycle, the next is dreaming. When we dream we are healing our emotional body, working out the monkey mind through dream time. The brain actually processes emotional trauma and works on facing fears and hurts in this sacred time. Ever hear people tell you they don't dream? Or they don't remember? Chances are they are not reaching this stage of the sleep cycle, maybe it is interrupted by waking to go to the bathroom, or sleep has been artificially induced by alcohol, marijuana, even melatonin and chamomile are artificially bringing you to sleep.  It is not say that all of these things are bad but simply to clarify that you are giving your body a push or nudge to bring about sleep as opposed to creating a natural rhythm of sleeping and waking. 

Let's talk for a moment about this natural rhythm, it is called a circadian rhythm and our hyper connectivity to screens and artificial lighting as well as our social conditioning has thrown us off this natural rhythm completely. So what is the natural circadian rhythm?? It's simple, wake with the sun, eat your biggest meals early in the day, have highest activity before 2 pm, and start to wind down in the evening, lighter meal, soft relaxing activities and no screens, and minimal artificial lighting, go to sleep within no more than three hours of sunset. 

I bet you realized a few things that you have inverted in your own days or at the very least could see how you are not in an optimal circadian rhythm with your day.

In honor of national sleep day I thought I'd share a list of how to bring your sleep cycles back to balance.

As you begin you may want to start the shift slowly, turn of your devices an hour before bed, instead of bringing them to bed with you and plugging them in right next to you, I know you do. Try moving them out of your bedroom all together and get an old fashioned alarm clock, after tuning your rhythms you won't even need that!

Eat a light meal at sunset no later, giving your body time to digest before you lay down.

While I love teas before bed know that teas like chamomile are actually diuretics, aptly they could be named pee pee tea! So opt instead for a ritual of moon milk, an ancient aryuvedic tradition of drinking warm milks with adaptogenic herbs before bed to soothe the belly and clear the mind. Find my recipe below for a "rosy hued you" moon milk.

Make sure you can block as much light as possible, make your room a cocoon of darkness at night, eliminate artificial sounds. 

Find some relaxing rituals: soaking in a tub with salts, light candles, do a yin practice, or yoga nidra, read a book, take time for self care and manicuring. 

I offer you an introduction to yoga nidra: here

Yoga nidra is a guided meditation practice done lying down, sleep is gently invited into the body.


Shine

"rosy hued you"




Ingredients: 

1/2 tsp Coconut cream powder, 

1 tsp Beet powder| the super food that

roots you down, restores

circulation + builds blood

1/2 tsp Ashwaganda | the

adaptogen that acts as a

natural anti anxiety

1/2 tsp Tocos | rich and creamy

vitamin E phytonutrients

helps hydrate the skin and connective tissues.


warm coconut or oat or almond milk, froth to make fancy, add all above powders and additional honey to sweeten. Sip and melt away nervous energy. 


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Quarantine Food Diaries, Split Pea Soup, Illuminating the self and others with gold, recover your balance



I have broken in a million pieces, and repaired myself with the gold of profound compassion more times than I can count, and I will go on doing this until I am no longer. 
It isn't searching for a life without suffering that is the goal of enlightenment, it is instead finding compassion within the life of suffering that leads one to an enlightened state. 
Our human existence is frought with ways to suffer, or opportunity to surrender into the learning that each moment has to offer. 



Inhale and fill up with gold dust, illuminate the inside world of thought, emotion and physical sensation, exhale this spaciousness and buoyancy onto others that are suffering. It is a basic meditative practice, a visualization of creating an inner world of golden wonder and once you have, sharing this with others. 
It is so hard to tell someone to be happy, to explain or talk your way out of depression or anxiety or suffering of any kind. If we embody wellbeing and mindfulness by example those that are ready will be drawn to us, but it must start within first. 
The darkness of my last year has given me the most precious gift of discipline. The shattering of joy has come swiftly and broken off pieces of me over and over again this year and before, this breaking has taken on many forms, in many relationships and I am learning what to see and how to see and where to anchor more and more everyday. There is a method to recovering one's balance in times of trauma and stress, though not simple it works over and over again, sealing the cracks of suffering with the healing beauty of profound compassion, the gold of our lives.

When we fall out of balance, however that looks, an argument, a thought from within, the state of the world around us and how it impacts us, the first step is to STOP.
Imagine the thoughts, words, images, feelings are like a giant wheel that begins to spin and if allowed to, spins out of control dragging you out of balance, so before this momentum picks up, stop the wheel. 


 Focus on our breath as the first step. 
long inhales and long exhales

Calm
See yourself solid and stable as a great oak tree, rooted deep so deeply  that your branches no matter how swiftly they are bent by the wind remain strongly held by your reach into the earth. 

Recognize 
See what is happening. Seeing the cracks of suffering in yourself  brought on from within and from without take a moment to pull back, to witness from outside the personal experience of the suffering.  Hold the feeling or experience in your hand and turn it see it objectively.

Acceptance

Accept that you are angry, sad, afraid, do not deny the feelings as they arise

Embrace

Hold your emotions is if holding a baby, with compassion and love. When we judge our own feelings we are not embracing them, surrender to what you are feeling with love.

Look deeply

When we have become calm like a still body of water we can see deeply to where the anger or sadness really comes from. When anger or sadness or fear threaten our calm the water is agitated and becomes cloudy, once we have calmed, accepted and embraced our pain the water becomes clear enough to see where it all began.

Insight

Once seen our pain can teach us about our triggers, where they originate and how to let go of reaction to them in the same way. 

Rest

Allow the body and mind to rest after the journey you have taken. Sleep, take a warm bath, treat with Chinese herbs or acupuncture. 

Make soup



Split Pea Soup





Ingredients:
2 cups split peas
1 onion 
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
1 ham steak with bone
6-8 cups water
salt pepper
evoo
homemade croutons


Chop carrots and celery, saute´in evoo, meanwhile peel onion and char, whole on an open burner.
once your onion is blackened on all sides, roughly chop and add to carrot and celery. Add split peas and large pieces of ham steak ( to give ease of removing later) , add water and bring to a boil, simmer covered for 40 min or until split peas are broken and floury.
Let cool, remove ham pieces and place the rest of the soup into a blender. 
Roughly cut up ham and add back into the pea puree.
Homemade croutons:
cut up stale bread and toss in evoo and umami powder, salt, chili flakes and pepper, coat well and lay out on a cookie sheet bake at 350F for 10 min. Voila, croutons. You can use whatever spices you'd like, I love Whole Foods Magic umami powder and a little kick with chilis. 
Serve with a drizzle of evoo and the croutons. 
Refill your own cup. 
Repair yourself.


 

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Chickpea Flour Crepes with Seared Tuna, Smoked Black Bean Hummus and Mustard Greens, and Breathwork to Balance

 I've committed to leaving all grains behind for a month to see how I feel, after listening to a lecture by  Dr. William Davis on the undigestible protein called gliadin found in the gluten chain that act like opiates in the brain and overtime creates leaky gut in the intestines as well as a whole host of other issues. Our grains have  been genetically modified to grow bigger, and be more resilient to pesticides and this alone has caused secondary issues in our bodies, and further and worse, foods labeled gluten free are often simply filled with more grain just different, rice flour and teff, amaranth, and ultimately the processing adds harmful ingredients and the sugar content is through the roof just to make them taste better . So even if you are not celiac, which I am not, but am gluten sensitive, it is still a grim story Dr. Davis tells us of the negative impact of grains in our bodies. 

I am curious enough to see how I will feel with no grains to try it for a month. It's been relatively easy, though I will admit I do miss my sushi rice and corn tortillas. I have begun to find substitutes, konjac flour based "miracle noodles or miracle rice" isn't awful but making "tortillas" from chickpea flour has definitely been my new favorite go to. I am all about whole foods and clean eating but I need varying textures and this does the trick, crunchy on the edges and thin, a little salty and perfect for holding a myriad of things. Today it was a pistachio coated seared ahi tuna, smoked black bean hummus and avocado-d  mustard greens.  

I'm making this while listening to Alan Watts speaking on spirituality and competition in spiritual practice, his voice was sampled for an album and I can't help but laugh, when I think of our drive towards enlightenment, our incessant posting through social media and think, he's right, "spiritual one upmanship" is a real thing and the ego wants in on it anyway it can, I catch myself thinking I need to do more, offer more, learn more and often have to put myself back in place by stepping back and going to my breath.

Nadhi Shodhana is a breath work that balances the hemispheres in the brain, that balances yin and yang in the body and activates the parasympathetic nervous system allowing the body to find rest internally. The stress response of the sympathetic nervous system cannot co exist with an activated parasympathetic nervous system which is quite an amazing thing, to put it simply, you cannot be serene and calm if you are being chased by a bear. The sympathetic nervous system is our "fight and flight" response, it is the body's reaction to stress, only the body and brain think the stress say of every day life is actually a bear chasing us and so it begins to muster the energy and resilience to escape from the bear. This is great, only our "bear" was probably just us watching the news about how many more cases of the virus are in our area, or our children yelling behind us, or even as simple a thing as thinking too much about the past or future. These everyday stressors happen one after the other everyday, makes the body and mind think there is always a bear chasing us and doesn't allow for the body and mind to rest and repair, heal, digest well. So understanding that we may not be able to eliminate all the stressors in life, that that isn't even the goal but instead it is to balance our reactions, create the ever illusive inner calm and grace in the face of all stressors, we turn to activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Biologically, the parasympathetic nervous system reduces cortisol levels, restores adrenal function depleted by the sympathetic nervous system, alters brainwaves back into calm mode, signals the body it can refocus on healing and repairing itself, like growing lustrous hair, sleeping, digesting well, slowing the heart rate, brightening the skin, and balancing the emotional responses. No amount of kale smoothies or supplements  alone will assist the body in these rebalancing functions if the body is constantly in the sympathetic nervous system.  Getting into the parasympathetic therefore to make our diets work for us is critical. Read that again.  

Getting the body into the parasympathetic happens in many ways, cold water therapy does it, hot baths do it, journaling happy thoughts do it, taking a walk in nature or a slow moving practice such as tai chi or qi gong and of course yoga does it. But even more basic at putting us back into "rest and digest" mode is breathing. So let's get to the how.  Nadhi Shodhana is quite a simple technique, find a comfy seat where you aware of your spine, sit upright and take your hand to your face, see below:

Begin by inhaling and exhaling through the left nostril while holding the right nostril closed with the ring finger. After three breaths switch using the thumb to close off the left nostril.  Use the the index and middle finger to rest on the 6th chakra, the point between the two eyebrows, your third eye. Visualize the breath as radiant light, begin to alternate sides, inhale right, exhale left, inhale left, exhale right. See the breath as light, inhale it to the third eye and exhale it down the opposite nostril and out. You can keep this simple visualization or you can see the breath rise up one side of the spine and down the other, or up the back body and through the third eye and down the front body. Create a lasso of light pull in breath, life force, qi and exhale all that doesn't serve you. 
You will see that with some practice this breathing technique soothes and calms both body and mind. Give it time. There are various breathing techniques or pranayama, this is just one and each has specific calming effects on the body. Nadhi Shodhana is the balancing breath.


Chickpea Flour Crepes with Seared Tuna, Smoked Black Bean Hummus and Mustard Greens
feeds 3-4

Chickpea flour batter
3/4 cup garbanzo bean flour 
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup Parmigiano cheese grated
salt and pepper
1 tbsp chopped cilantro or parsley ( if you don't love cilantro)

2 Ahi Tuna steaks 
ground pistachios
1/2 ripe avocado
a bunch of Mustard greens
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. 
salt and pepper

Smoked Black Bean Hummus
1 can or organic black beans ( or make your own)
1 clove garlic
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 tbsp tahini paste
4 dashes liquid smoke
extra virgin olive oil to amalgamate about 4 tbsp
salt


Make your chickpea batter and set aside. pat dry your tuna steaks and lightly oil and press into ground pistachios, set aside. Wash, dry and chop the Mustard greens and avocado, set aside. Put all ingredients for the hummus in a blender and blend until smooth, adjust for salt. 
Heat a small nonstick pan with 3 tbsp olive oil and when hot, pour as if you were making crepes, thin rounds of chickpea batter, when air bubbles form its time to flip them over. Make all your "tortillas" and place in a warm oven. Sear the tuna in the same pan with the same oil. 
Cook to your desired temperature. 
Put mustard greens, avocado, oil, lemon and spices in a bowl and literally squish the avocado into the greens with your hands.
Great! Now compose your "ahi tuna tacos" anyway you'd like,  I mound the greens on top of the hummus and the tuna on top  and sprinkle a little chili, pistachios and smoked paprika on top! 

And for your listening pleasure:

Alan Watts for Blond:ish 







Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Alkaline Breakfast Shakshouka and The Discipline It Takes To Let The Happiness Flow


I have always been a sensual creature, needing to feel my way through life, taste, smell, visually experience and touch through the world to digest it fully. It's no mistake I pay such close attention to detail. "Life is lived in the details", is almost my motto.
So when I am described as "tigger" or as "born under a lucky star" or even as a "unicorn who must fart rainbows" I laugh a great belly laugh of acknowledgment to myself that my discipline of happiness is actually being transmitted and felt by others. The last year has challenged everyone at every corner of the earth to reassess their lives and shift their perspectives at the very least. For some it has meant financial devastation, utter isolation and a total reimagining of the person they once were pre covid. And all this can also be seen as a gift, a gift to committing to a truly authentic life, one without the masks of acceptance we wear in the face of familial and societal expectations, because all of that has been turned on it's head, businesses closed for almost a year, wellness venues shuttered deemed unessential, pleas to the public to self isolate even from loved ones, a form of a dystopian novel that could not have been written to make more of a blockbuster psychologically depressing film. And yet, here we are, so now what? 
So now reinvent, start over, sit quietly and sow seeds of love, let the seeds of expectation, fear, ego wither and die under a less fertile soil. Fertilize the seeds of love, joy and compassion.
On my writing desk sits a very small quote on brown kraft paper typed in times new roman font. 
It's Proust, born in the time of Cholera in Paris, as a small maybe not so insignificant side note to his revelatory quote, 
he says:

"The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." 

The source of this citation is  'In Search of Lost Time' À la recherche du temps perdu - perhaps the most celebrated work by Marcel Proust. To quote more fully from the original citation source: 


“A pair of wings, a different respiratory system, which enabled us to travel through space, would in no way help us, for if we visited Mars or Venus while keeping the same senses, they would clothe everything we could see in the same aspect as the things of the Earth. The only true voyage, the only bath in the Fountain of Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to see the hundred universes that each of them sees, that each of them is; and this we do, with great artists; with artists like these we do really fly from star to star.”

I'm not sure how much of this time for us is unprecedented, historically, it seems that at the turn of the century one could argue Proust was experiencing a similar revelation about the origin of true happiness. How we choose to see, touch, feel, taste life is really up to us. Suffering in it's innumerable forms has always existed as happiness's bedside companion and the way through suffering is not in attempting to avoid or alleviate it, to remove or escape from it in life but is instead to view it as a great teacher, an opportunity to deeply experience compassion, it is suffering that is the fertile soil that enables the seeds of joy and love to germinate. 

Maybe read that again. Let it sink in. 

In Hindu and buddhist traditions Avidya is what Proust is acknowledging. It is our ignorance before awakening. Our darkness is not in the daily suffering we endure but rather in the way we view the world around and within us through the veils of ignorance, ego, attachment and avoidance that creates suffering.

We choose how to experience our life. How to digest our lives. When we look deeply, sit quietly we can choose complete presence to this moment.  How sunlight catches the tips of undulating current at the oceanside and sparkles like fairy dust, or how the pink sunrise reflects off the monolithic silver skyscrapers of a great city casting it's warm hue upon every face and street and object it can reach. We could also choose to see the danger in the ocean, or have irritation about the temperature in the air instead Or rather than seeing the morning light reflecting off of the buildings in the city we could be wholly unaware of this choosing instead to be irritated by traffic or feeling a sense of entitlement or egoic satisfaction in where we are in life and what we have accomplished, we could be in essence ruminating on past and projecting into future instead of being present to the experience of our feet on the ground. 


The great discipline is this, to find the beauty in all things, and there are a million ways we have been given to do just this. Find your way, make it a discipline, use the tools that work for you to shake off the avidya, this incorrect way of seeing to make room for the joy of now. 

Shakshouka is one of those dishes that has been a simple one pan meal that satisfied and nourished from middle eastern and north African diets and centuries past. I've given it a twist. If it is one thing I struggle with it is dishes, I look deeply into the zen of soaping up a dish as a way to romance myself into doing this and enjoying the sensation, this is my practice that I am still working on, I laugh to myself in joy therefore when I find a one pan meal that satisfies, which is rare.

It is traditionally a reduced tomato based sauce heavy with aromatic herbs of turmeric, cumin, paprika, coriander, and goat, or lamb, peppers and poached eggs, it's quintessential element making it a breakfast food for the ravenous.

I eat meat maybe twice a week but still need the protein at the beginning of my day and so I have chosen a vegetarian version that calls more out to it's South American neighboring dish huevos rancheros with it's use of black beans and cilantro. 


In any case it's simple and in these winter months it begins the day with a warm belly.


Shakshouka 



serves 2

8" cast iron pan (almost necessary)

1 -2tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp organic tomato paste

1 garlic clove minced

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp turmeric

a dash cayenne

3 cherry tomatoes quartered

1/2 cup black beans

4 free range organic eggs

handful chopped fresh cilantro

tortillas, chickpea flour crepes (recipe coming soon), naan, or fresh crusty bread to eat this with


Saute' garlic in olive oil in a small 8" cast iron pan , add spices and let heat to perfume the room, add tomato paste and cherry tomatoes on medium heat stirring to amalgamate flavors and possibly add a little splash of water if your tomatoes don't suffice to make a soft sauce, not soupy but thick. Add drained black beans, salt and pepper and crack in the four eggs gently and spaced evenly, you have just a moment or so to shift the beans and sauce a little around the eggs before taking off the heat and placing under the broiler of your oven until the tops of the eggs have just turned milky ensuring the yolk is still soft.

remove and sprinkle fresh cilantro and maybe a dash or two of hot sauce!! Add your favorite carb and dig in.


 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Quarantine Food Diaries, Diwali, and Chocolate Chaga Avocado Mousse




This day, this week, comes once a year, true it is not my culture, the festival of Diwali is an Indian festival, but what it celebrates can give us all a reminder irregardless of culture or creed. This festival celebrates light overcoming the dark, wisdom over ignorance and when can't we all use these reminders? 
My discipline is strong, my life like many of us has had moments of trauma, drama and tendency towards a constant overcoming of either physical or emotional events and maybe this is why my practice of keeping a high vibration has become so disciplined. I see the various teachings and practices I've learned from various disciplines and theologies as all fair game to put into my arsenal of the luminous warrior. 
I consider myself this, not enlightened, but a perpetual warrior for light. 
And so on this week I am reminded of the work it takes to always raise the lightness in our beings and the how is up to you, the tools are plentiful in both directions, dark and light, so which do you choose?
This blog holds these tools for lightness and true while a food blog it is also my space to create awareness and share healing anyway I can and if it resonates for you then take it and use it and raise the light!
We are entering the winter months, the world is coming upon a second wave of the virus and we are looking at imminent lock down so there is no time like the present to cultivate a strong practice of light work for yourself and hold the intention for humanity at large. 
I turn to chocolate, it's nutritional and healing  components are hugely  helpful in raising my spirits!!
I make it two ways, the "so good for you could eat the whole thing" way and the "French girls don't get fat" only eat a spoonful way. I've given you both recipes, you decide what you're up for.



Choco- Chaga- Avocado Mousse

4 ripe avocados

10 very soft dates ( soaked if necessary)

4 tbsp raw agave nectar

2 tbsp Chaga powder 

4 Tbsp high quality raw cacao powder


Mexican version

add:

 1 tsp cayenne

4 tsp cinnamon

smoked alder salt on top


Put avocados and dates in a blender, add powders and agave, blend away, if you should like to kick it up a notch then do half with the cinnamon and cayenne with smoke alder salt on top to finish!!


"French girls don't get fat" true French Chocolate Mousse:

 

 ¾ cup chilled heavy cream, divided

4 large egg yolks 

2 large whites separated

¼ cup brewed espresso or strong coffee, room temperature

⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons sugar, divided

6 ounces Lily's chocolate (60–72% cacao), chopped


Preparation

Step 1

Beat ½ cup cream in a small bowl to stiff peaks; cover and chill.

Step 2

Combine egg yolks, espresso, salt, and 2 Tbsp. sugar in a heatproof bowl. Set over a saucepan of gently simmering water (do not let bowl touch water). Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is lighter in color and almost doubled in volume and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the mixture registers 160°, about 1 minute.

Step 3

Remove bowl from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and mixture is smooth. Let sit, whisking occasionally, until room temperature.

Step 4

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in a medium bowl on medium speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually beat in remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form.

Step 5

Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture in 2 additions; fold reserved whipped cream into mixture just to blend. Divide mousse among 6 teacups or 4-oz. ramekins. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Quarantine Food Diaries : Medicinal Mushrooms, Why They Are Adaptogens and How To Use Them






With fear and anxiety going through the roof for many worldwide, now is the time to really get into medicinal shrooms.  Though Timothy Leary may have been discovering the effects of psilocybin, or psychedelic shrooms, on the brain, we are talking about something much more subtle in nature but no less potent in terms of healing body and brain. 

Adaptogen is a term that has started popping up on the labels of brands I love such as Four SigmaticSun Potion, and moon juice and is defined as an herb or mushroom that acts as a stress and anxiety modulator in the body and brain. I always try to eat clean, closest to the source, but the addition of these powders and supplements to drinks and smoothies is a quick way to boost milligrams per mouthful to whole foods and sometimes hard to get fresh versions of these special shrooms. 

Cortisol is the body's stress response hormone, our fight or flight hormone as it is commonly referred to and it is being activated daily, our sense of security is being put into question, stability, the influence of the news and everchanging face of our world takes it's toll on us collectively and individually everyday. Self care is the key and a component to that is looking at what we eat and how it can work towards soothing and calming our stress. Cooking and Eating activates the senses, creates nostalgia, warms a home with scent and heat and nourishes body and soul, why not have it help our brains to reduce our stress hormone as well?

The rains of fall have begun, the cooler temps and fallen leaves have created a perfect breeding ground for the family of funghi we are looking to consume. Though I am not a successful edible mushroom hunter, I usually find all the poisonous ones, those who are in the know find them for me, so  I am lucky all the same!

Maitake mushrooms or hen of the woods, their common name, are one such species found locally in the Northeast of America where I am. It is, along with reishi mushrooms one of the most potent alternative medicine adaptogens. Helping to regulate the systems of the body that have become unbalanced, these shrooms fight cancer cells, boost immune function and regulate mood imbalances. 

Maitake can be found in many supermarkets nation wide these days where Reishi because of it's woody nature are better taken as supplements. Cooking with Maitake mushrooms is a pleasure, I've made everything from cashew cream maitake mushroom soup to maitake "steaks" seen in another recipe : Maitake "steaks" on this blog. Their flavor is meaty with deep earthy tones and texture similar to a portobello, why those are often used as "steaks" as well. During this season I introduce them wherever I can. A recent favorite rosemary  roasted chicken thighs with maitake mushrooms over soft polenta and turmeric, tahini roasted acorn squash is all about the anti inflammatory properties these foods offer and that is our recipe for this chilly rainy day.


Rosemary Roasted Chicken Thighs with Maitake Mushrooms, Polenta and Turmeric Roasted Tahini Acorn Squash Wedges




Ingredients:

serves 3-4

1 acorn squash, sliced into wedges, skin on, de seeded

6 organic, free range chicken thighs, skin on

2-4 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 large blossoming maitake mushroom 

2 tbsp tahini

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp garlic powder or fresh grated garlic 

dash cayenne pepper

freshly ground pink peppercorns

salt

extra virgin olive oil 

1 cup white wine

1/2 cup instant polenta

2 cups water

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano (lactose free naturally)

2 tbsp butter


Dry off chicken thighs and salt, pepper, cayenne, and coat with garlic. Add a small amount of EVO to a cast iron pan and brown both sides on high heat, add torn pieces of maitake and rosemary and coat evenly in oil letting the aroma of garlic, rosemary and mushrooms fill the air, then quickly add the white wine before the aroma turns bitter from burning, this can make or break your flavor. 

Pop it in an oven, in the same cast iron pan, skin side up at 350F for 40 min. piercing the meat at 30 min to see if liquid runs clear, if it does remove from oven and let sit to rest. 

Meanwhile, arrange squash wedges on  parchment on a cookie sheet and coat in Evo, mixed with turmeric, cayenne, garlic, salt and pepper, finally drizzle tahini over top, it will stay exactly as you see it so make it pretty!

Pop in the oven just after the chicken, 1" wedges should take about 20-30 min and get good color on them, no need to flip.

On the stove top just before the chicken and squash are ready bring 2 cups of water and butter to a boil, sift in the polenta and stir vigorously until amalgamated and starts to thicken, pour in the parmigiano and take off the burner, about 3 min, for instant.

Plate away!!