To Mother

This Sunday is Mother’s Day.  Every year I am faced with the task of teaching to a diverse group of people for whom the word “mother” means something entirely different.  For some their mothers are not with them now, for others they may simply not want to think of their mother, and others may never have had a mother…..so the word is loaded….so I avoid it altogether and instead, I ask people when they come to their mats to consider the word “mother” as a verb, as in “to mother.”

Most people mother, or support, others.  The majority of people who walk through the door into my classes are in the “sandwich generation” so they are mothering up AND down, caring for their ageing parents, relatives, or friends and also for their children.  But what we ALL have in common is the support structure: the rich network that is built through friendship and family–even if it is adopted family–to lift us through the challenging times.

Perhaps it is a phone call to check in,  a little gift that magically shows up when you are down, or even just a smile.  There is compassion, empathy and a consistency that is there.  And you play your part in creating that support for others.  It’s our “sanga” or community that we are a part of, that connects us to others in a meaningful way.

Take some time this week– a week that crescendos on Mothers Day–to appreciate all the caring and mothering that has been shown to you.  Wrap yourself in a blanket of that love and compassion; recharge with it so you can send it out to others.

And in a nod to mothering everywhere, here is a photo of my most recent creation this week, a vegan and gluten free banana bread! Thanks to Minimalist Baker’s recipe, found here.  I just added giant volumes of walnuts because my husband loves them!
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Winter Solstice

Last weekend we got our first snow of the season, and it fell on the outdoor holiday lights in our neighborhood, turning the crisp little white lights into glowing orbs.  The days have been becoming shorter and now we have arrived at the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice. The lights outside hold our attention, draw us in with their beauty, and help us forget about the darkness–and maybe even celebrate that darkness.  It is truly the season of light.

During this season of light it is important to go inward to connect with your own inner light.  The yoga teachings (sutras, chapter one) talk of “the light within that is free of all suffering and sorrow.”  We often block our own light without even knowing it.  So as we sit now at the solstice, here in the dark, dust off whatever is blocking your bright light.  Prepare to leave behind whatever is hindering it from shining its brightest, so you can bring your truest, most brilliant self into the new year.

Sharing some light with you!  To help you celebrate the solstice, here is a fantastic recipe for vegan/gluten free cupcakes.  Be prepared to be amazed!  Even my extraordinarily fussy people in my house love these!!

Gingerbread Cupcakes (Vegan) with Cinnamon Lemon Glaze

  • Servings: 12 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: super easy!
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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and spray a 12-cup muffin pan with oil.

Create two bowls, one for dry ingredients and one for wet.

Dry ingredients (whisk together):
1 1/4 cup Pamela’s Artisan Gluten Free flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients (whisk together):
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used avocado oil)
1/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon lemon oil (could probably substitute lemon zest)

Whisk everything together and then spoon into the muffin pans.  Bake for ~20 minutes.  Take out and let cool before you frost them.

Lemon/Cinnamon Glaze
This will take another 5-10 minutes but it is totally worth it.  It hardens up and is a great complement to the moist cupcakes.

Whisk together in a bowl and then spoon/smear onto the cupcakes :
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Enjoy!! Recipe adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

Only 3 days?

3 Days.  That is all Dr. Sara Gottfried says it will take to reset each of your hormones by eliminating specific dietary triggers.  I already knew which one I would have to face head on: insulin.  Argh.

True confessions: I have a sweet tooth.  I don’t over indulge, but I do love some dark chocolate, and selected “paleo” desserts.  I forage a bit after lunch or dinner.  I often forget that the word “treat” means it should be a sometimes thing, and before I know it I’m eating too many, too often.  I know many people can relate.

So I read “The Hormone Reset Diet” last week and was pretty stunned by Dr. Sara Gottfried’s remarks on fasting glucose levels.  My doctor has never flagged me in the “danger zone” and technically my levels don’t fall there…UNLESS you take Dr. Sara’s advice.  I was stunned to find out my numbers are elevated according to her.  And I come from a long line of diabetics.  Can you say wake up call?

On Wednesday I was teaching yoga at a retirement facility and a woman in her 70s came up to me after class.  We spoke about her posture and her physical condition and she said she really wants to loose weight.  I suggested starting with eating fewer sweets.  She told me she had quit smoking two packs of cigarettes “cold turkey” but she just couldn’t give up sugar and sweets!  It was simply too hard.

Sugar certainly has a grip on us, most likely because it lights up our brain in the same areas as crack cocaine does. It is addictive.  And , according to the book, elevated (or slightly elevated) blood sugar is among the top reasons people hold onto extra weight especially in the belly area.  Now there is some motivation.

So I challenge you to consider the 3-day sugar elimination (including alcohol, considered “liquid sugar”).  How do you feel?  More clear headed?  Cravings gone? Notice any extra weight coming off?  Can you keep it up?

It’s not easy but if it only takes three days to reset your insulin hormone it is totally worth it!

Here is a really delicious recipe I made this week to help satisfy myself while I’m in sugar withdrawls.  Hey, every little bit helps 😉

Ayurvedic Dal

  • Servings: 4-6 as a side
  • Difficulty: super easy!
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Ingredients:
2T coconut oil (can substitute with olive oil)
2 chopped onions
2 c yellow split peas
1 T grated ginger (I used “Ginger People’s” pregrated ginger)
Spices: 1 t salt, 2T curry, 2T cumin, 1t chili powder,
4 cups broth, 2 cups water

Saute the onions in the oil till translucent.  Add the ginger and spices and stir around a bit for 2 minutes.  Add the split peas, broth and water, bring to a boil then cover and lower to simmer.  Cook about an hour until the peas totally fall apart and get mushy.

Enjoy!

Cheers!

December arrived in a hurry this year.  Tonight we’ll be trimming our tree and sipping on nog.  I have created this alternative nog that is dairy free and delicious.  I served it after a workshop this past Sunday to rave reviews.
I hope you enjoy it!  Cheers!

Nogalicious Non Nog

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Ingredients:
1 cup cashews
1 medjool date
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon agave nectar (can substitute honey if you like)
sprinkle of cinnamon (about 1/8 of a teaspoon)

Directions are quite simple:  Put this all in a high powered blender and zip it up.  I much prefer this warm, but you can certainly chill it and enjoy it cold.  If you perfer it that way, just change the warm water to cold water in the recipe.

Going Home

I had a wonderful visit with my parents, siblings and their families last weekend.  It was good for the soul, so nourishing.  When we surround ourselves with people who unconditionally love us, that is how it is.

In my yoga classes this week, I taught on visiting our own “home” inside us, our sparkling light within, where our soul resides.  We are often too busy in our day-to-day lives to uncover it and connect with it, to make the trip.  Sometimes we need to sit and meditate to connect, other times roll out the mat, or go for a long walk; it’s different for everyone.  But that connection is vital to our existence.

I’ve heard the reason that people crave milk is that it is comforting, like being in the care of your mother.  I think I’ve even read that when people hit rocky times they crave dairy just because it gives them that motherly comfort.

As someone who is dairy free, working on resolving a leaky gut, I use a lot dairy-free milks, such as coconut milk or almond milk.  I was recently made aware that a key ingredient in many of these milks, carrageenan, may not be good for you–I was specifically advised to stay away from it.  So yesterday I made my first batch of almond creamer (a bit richer than milk).  We had it in our coffee today and it was delicious!

So while you may not get the same comfort in it as going home, either literally or figuratively, I think you’ll at the very least think it is tasty–and it is a snap to whip up.

Enjoy!

Almond Creamer
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1 1/2 cups of whole organic almonds (unroasted, unsalted)3 cups of filtered water
Nut milk bag (you can buy them at Whole Foods)

Take the almonds and place them in a glass bowl and let them soak in room temperature water for 24 hours.  This allows for the minimization of phytic acid inherent in almonds which is crucial because it binds to minerals and blocks their absorption (not good!).

Rinse the almonds after soaking and place in a high powered blender with 3 1/2 cups of filtered water.  Blend on high for 1.5- 2 minutes, or until completely smooth and milky.

Straining the milk through the bag this can take a little while once the majority of liquid passes.  Squeeze it out with your hands and let gravity do the rest of the work (see photo below).

The yummy yield is about 19 ounces (2 1/4 cups).

Enjoy!
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