Wellness Wednesday: Spring Saffron Stew from The Hostess Haven
Welcome back to Wellness Wednesdays, where I invite guests to share their seasonal wellness tips & recipes. To say that I am REALLY excited for today’s guest, is an understatement! There are a lot of inspiring visionaries here in San Diego, & Farra Miron is certainly one of them. Farra is the creative mastermind behind The Hostess Haven, a "coveted spot for entertaining ideas, a small collection of refined classics & pretty found objects to add to your home, tabletop rentals for gatherings large & small, made-with-love recipes to showcase these items & inspire real moments in life." Talk about a dream business. She has the most amazing tabletop goods you’ve ever seen - from gold flatware to vintage glassware & more available for rental & offers full service table service, event design & styling, sourcing, & is a fabulous cook & baker to boot. Talk about a true Hostess with the Mostest! I was so thrilled when Farra accepted my invitation to write a guest post, & today she shares a delectable recipe for "Spring Saffron Stew."
I can’t quite pinpoint when I first discovered Farra, but I will always be forever grateful for having her in my social media realm. It was an Instagram photo that she posted last Fall of a delicious "Sweet Potato Smoothie," that honestly changed the course of my life. To make a long story short, I was in the thick of a major emotional slump, so depressed, seeking any form of inspiration, & praying for guidance or guru, when that smoothie popped on my Insta-feed. Said smoothie was created by & credited back to Laura Plumb, a regular name around here these days. From that post, I not only discovered Laura, her husband Bhava, & the many services they offer, but I fell back in love with Ayurveda & was re-inspired to pursue the path of becoming a yoga teacher. I begin my training with Deep Yoga in 2 weeks. Eeeeee! So many things have changed over the last 7 months that all point back to that smoothie….which I now call the “smoothie that started it all.”Farra’s post that Fall day may have been directly responsible for bringing one of the most important teachers into my life, & for that I am so truly thankful.
I had the pleasure of meeting Farra in person by chance recently, & she is as warm & kind in person as she seems. It can be very intimidating introducing oneself to an “online” idol & it is quite refreshing when they turn out to be equally charming & sweet in “real” life. So, without further ado, welcome Farra!
Who doesn’t love a stew that is perfect for Spring & is loaded with lots of fun garnishes?! This recipe tastes both hearty & light at the same time, making it the perfect transition into Spring! I think it’s the saffron that makes it feel so fresh & fragrant for me. Also, have you ever steamed couscous?! It’s worth every step! The result is the fluffiest, most yummiest little granules. There is a recipe here & I’m sure you could find elsewhere, but I think it makes all the difference.
This stew is inspired by Smitten Kitchen & I would say it’s definitely one of those recipes you can use what’s on hand in your fridge to make it super easy, or follow it exactly & love it just the same!
I didn’t change much except for make it vegan, of course & brought in some of my favorite recipes for finishing touches & garnishes.
I used Cerignola olives. They have pits, but I don’t mind since they are so unique in flavor & are one of the finishing touches. I’ve also used other green olives in the fridge & would probably even use black olives if that’s all I had. My husband isn’t a big cumin fan so I usually add way less or none at all. This recipe won’t suffer either way. Of course you could use canned chickpeas, but fresh are always so much tastier if you could spare the extra time. The saffron threads are what make this recipe for me. If you don’t have it or don’t like it; it will be just as delicious in a traditional stew sorta way. And lastly, I like to use A House in the Hills recipe for "Preserved lemons" &Laura Plumb’srecipe for "Coconut Yogurt" as a garnish.
"Hostess Haven’s Spring Saffron Stew"
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, small dice
4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound butternut squash, large dice
3/4 pound red potatoes, large dice
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juices
Pinch saffron threads
1/2 preserved lemon, finely chopped
1 cup brined green olives
Steamed couscous, for serving
Fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, for garnish
Toasted slivered almonds, for garnish
Coconut yogurt, for garnish
Hot sauce of your choice (for serving)
Heat coconut & olive oil in a 3- to 4-quart Dutch oven, or heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight fitting lid over medium heat. When oil is just hot, add onion, garlic, cumin, & cinnamon, & season with salt & freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spices are aromatic & onions are soft & translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add squash & potatoes, season with salt & freshly ground black pepper, stir to coat, & cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add broth, chickpeas, tomatoes & their juices, & saffron, if using. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover & simmer until squash is fork tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove from heat & stir in preserved lemon and olives. Serve over couscous garnished with cilantro, almonds, & yogurt. The finishing touches & garnishes are so much fun with this stew! Make sure you add at least 1-2 of them, it really brings out the flavor or the stew!
Make this stew a presentation! Break out all of those cute small bowls you have & get creative in displaying all of the finishing touches & garnishes. Even if you’re cooking for 1, 4 or more; make it an experience for you & your guests!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~IIsn’t that stunning? The food, the presentation, the photos! Wow! I am so inspired. These beautiful shots were taken by the talented Jacqueline Campbell of Birds of a Feather. I really need to take a photography & food styling class & step up my game! These photos tell such a beautiful story. I only hope that this heat wave passes quickly, & we are graced with more “April Showers” so I can make this stew. There is nothing more comforting than butternut squash, which tends to get all of its attention in the Fall & Winter, but it’s still plentiful & beautiful now! It’s still a great ingredient option during this “in-between” time, before the spring growing season hits full bloom. Oh, & saffron! My absolute favorite spice to cook with. I’m imagining it’s distinctly rich aroma diffusing in my kitchen now, & the tender vegetables infused with it’s delicate taste. So lovely!
Thank you again, Farra! And readers, please visit The Hostess Haven’s website to learn all about the goods & services she has to offer & check out her blog for more recipes & inspiration.
Hey there! It’s been a while. I mentioned last week that I would be taking a bit of a break to focus on packing & preparing for my move. Well, I packed up & moved out over the weekend & now I am settling into my new place. The first thing to get unpacked & reorganized was the kitchen, of course! My first homemade meal in the new digs? This lovely "Spring Detox Kitchari…"
"As Spring arrives, the warmer weather melts the winter freeze. The same thing is happening within you. After putting on your winter coat ~ adding warm layers, strengthening immunity, & tonifying to the bone ~ your system is now ready to lighten up. If this is done effectively, you have optimal health for Spring and Summer. If not, the system gets clogged, sluggish, rundown & worn out.The 21 Day Challenge to help you release winter’s accumulation & blossom into your best Spring yet."
That is why Ayurveda places great importance on detoxification in early Spring. And that is why I joined the guided DYI detox program. I felt wonderfully grounded & nourished during the winter cleanse, yet it didn’t take long before I was back to some old habits. When life gets overwhelming, often the first to go is a healthy, well balanced diet. But that is the time when we should be nourishing ourselves the most. otherwise we become even more depleted. I’ve got a lot of new goals & plans ahead for this year, & I have really been working on creating more healthful patterns with food for the body, as well as food for thought. I am going to need a lot of nourishment to keep me going strong. Turning to Ayurveda as my guide has helped to light the way on this more wholesome path. When I apply daily Ayurvedic practices to my routine, on top of a clean, whole foods, plant based diet free of caffeine, refined sugar, gluten & alcohol I just feel so much better.
Our cleanse began last Monday, & for the first week, we cut out all processed foods, gluten, refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, & dairy & meat (which is easy for me as I don’t eat that anyway!). We focused on simple, light, seasonal foods & dishes such as salads, soups, steamed vegetables over rice pasta. In addition, we were given a new daily practice to add to our daily routine - taking nightly triphala, oil pulling, ghee tea, warm oil massage (abyanga), & daily yoga. While I was able to integrate most of the practices, I had a very difficult time with the dietary guidelines, mostly coffee to get me going & wine to unwind. With a such a jam packed week full of work, packing, & prepping for a move, & with kitchen goods & utensils packed away, I found myself either eating something I could grab & go from the store, or eating out. I did my best to stick with cleanse parameters, but lets face it, I cheated, a lot. By Sunday, I was so spent, so tired, & so ready to recommit myself to the cleanse.
Week 2 began Monday, & it is all about centering our meals around kitchari, everyday. I absolutely fell in love with kitchari during the winter cleanse & couldn’t wait to make it again with Spring vegetables. For those of you unfamiliar, kitchari consists of split mung & brown basmati rice, cooked gently with ghee, vegetable broth, Ayurvedic spices, & seasonal vegetables. Why cleanse with kitchari? Kitchari is an ideal food for healing, detoxifying, and restoring wellness. Ayurveda believes that all healing begins with the digestive tract, & kitchari gives it a much-needed rest from constantly processing different foods. The blend of rice and split mung beans provides essential nutrients & offers the body an array of amino acids, protein, fiber, & vegetables. The mixture of spices is believed to kindle the “digestive fire,” the Ayurvedic description for your innate digestive power, which can be weakened by poor food combinations.
I was actually so excited to get my kitchari on the stove, that I got up at 5:30 am on Monday morning to prepare it! I was inspired by all of the beautiful vegetables in my produce delivery from the previous week, & added zucchini, baby turnips, & tastoi to the mixture. Depending on my cravings, I’ll with top with cilantro pesto & sliced avocado, or fresh basil & micro greens as shown here.
"Spring Clean Kitchari with Zucchini, Baby Turnips & Tatsoi"
In a medium sauce pan, bring vegetable broth to a low boil.
Rinse rice & beans.
In a medium saucepan warm the ghee. Add the kitchari spice mixture & sauté for one to two minutes. Add rice & mung beans, coat with the ghee & spice mixture & sauté for another couple of minutes.
Add vegetable broth, bring to a boil reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover & cook for 20 minutes, then add zucchini & turnips. Cook for an additional 20-25 minutes until beans & rice are creamy tender (approximately 45 minutes total). Add tatsoi & stir until wilted.
Season with liquid aminos or tamari & garnish with optional toppings. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon!
***I get my split mung beans & kitchari spice mix from Banyan Botanicals. You can also purchase a complete "Kitchari Kit." (These links contain affiliate codes)
I really do love kitchari! I find it so delicious & comforting. It has certainly become a staple around here. With that, I am off to return to unpacking, getting situated, before unwinding with tea & some evening yoga.
I really love my new place so, so much. It already feels like home. Many good things are ahead, I just know it!
Roasted Kohrabi, Beet, & Carrot Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Good Evening Everyone, how are you all spending your last hours of winter? While we transition to a new season, "Wellness Wednesdays" will take a short hiatus. I will kick off the spring series when I begin my Ayurvedic Spring Detox this weekend. This evening, I have a wonderful “farewell winter” salad, a mix of heart roasted winter vegetables atop a bed of spring spinach, topped with a fragrant pomegranate vinaigrette.
As the "Vernal Equinox" nears, springtime is on the horizon, at 9:57 am (PST) tomorrow to be exact! While I enjoy the cool & quiet “winter” months (what little bit of winter we experience here in So. Cal), I am really looking forward to spring. Spring is a time of renewal & blossoming, a perfect time to “renew your good intentions for the year & blossom into your true self.” It’s also a time to clean out the fridge to make space for lighter, crisper spring produce! I did just that the other day, as I make way for all of the zucchini, peas, & spring greens that are on my CSA list for the week. Gathered in the crisper was a bunch of winter carrots, kohlrabi & beets, & spring onions & spinach. As I prepare to start incorporating more green juices & raw foods back into my regular diet, I decided to make my last batch of winter roasted veggies, but served atop raw greens, instead of a grain to keep it light. The star of the show? Kohlrabi!
Kohlrabi is one of the most unique & perplexing vegetables that I have encountered thus far. This vibrant vegetable is very low calorie, high in vitamin C & fiber, & is a good source of vitamin B6 and potassium, too. It’s also fairly high in minerals, including copper & manganese. It can take a bit of preparation to peel & chop, but raw kohlrabi is crisp, mild & refreshing. One of my favorite ways to eat it is just peeled & cut into thick matchsticks, sprinkled with a bit of sea salt, & dipped into hummus! (BTW this mung bean hummus is divine!). But with two extra large heads in the fridge, I was looking for new ways of enjoying it. I found this article on Huff Po, which recommended this recipe & was hit with inspiration abound! It turns out there are so many things you can do with kohlrabi - who knew? You can shred it, mash it, stuff it, puree it, batter & fry it, roast it, you name it.
As I love the sweet & caramelized flavor of roasted vegetables, but typically reserve roasting for winter, I decided for one last roasting hurrah.
"Roasted Kohlrabi, Chioggia Beet & Carrot Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette"
Roasted Vegetables ~
1 large purple kohlrabi, cut into wedges 2 large carrots, cut in 1/2 crosswise, then quartered 3 small chioggia beets, cut into small wedges 5 purple spring onions, trimmed & halved 1 Tbsp. avocado oil 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme Pink sea salt & pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 2. Cut vegetables in desired shapes & sizes, then toss with avocado oil, sea salt & pepper. Roast for 35 minutes. 3. At the 20 minute mark, sprinkle fresh thyme over vegetables (this keeps it from burning to a crisp!)
Pomegranate Vinaigrette ~
1/3 cup organic extra virgin olive oil 3 tablespoons pomegranate vinegar (Trader Joe’s) 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 1/2 tsp. pink sea salt & 1/4 freshly ground black pepper
In a small mason jar, shake together the oil, vinegar, mustard, teaspoon salt, & pepper.
Roasted vegetables 1/2 a bunch red bordeaux spinach optional garnish: chopped almonds, dried pomegranate seeds
1. Toss greens with desired amount of vinaigrette
2. Place roasted vegetables atop the greens & garnish with chopped almonds, dried pomegranate seeds, & an extra drizzle of dressing.
***After photographing this salad, I realized what a beautiful addition some raw vegan “Sun Cheese” that I learned at my dear friend Katie’s cooking class. So I made a batch (it’s simple soaked sunflower seeds, garlic flavored olive oil, sea salt & lemon juice), & my oh my! Extra decadent & delicious!
Such a beautiful salad to serve on a platter to a hungry crowd, or served in a bowl for a hungry girl!
I loved all the flavors & textures in this salad, the sweet & caramelized veggies, crisp greens, crunchy almonds, & tart & tangy dressing all married together beautifully. Such a wonderful way to honor the season’s transition.
How do you like to celebrate the arrival of spring? As I mentioned, it is a time of renewal & blossoming, & a perfect time to “renew your good intentions for the year & blossom into your true self.” The month of March has brought many changes into my life, some unexpected, some planned. I changed my last name (took my Grandma’s maiden name), found a wonderful but more budget friendly apartment & am moving again next week, & it is looking like there are going to be some big changes in my career. As doors close, new ones tend to open, & I am ready. I am gearing up to begin a major spring cleanse, & starting my Deep Yoga Teacher Training program at the end of April. Certainly a time of transition, growth & intention.
Hi again! Top o’ St. Patrick’s Day Weekend to you! While many are celebrating their “Irish Luck” at the pub with Guinness, I am at home sipping a very un-festive glass Pinot Noir & absorbing all that I took in at today’s TEDx Encinitas conference (more on that later!). To celebrate this Irish holiday, I have an oldie but goodie to, well, re-share, with you. A few months ago while doing some “mass post tagging,” I accidentally did some “mass post deleting.” Unfortunately, here on Tumblr, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Luckily I was able to retrieve a google cached version if it, & the other recipes I so stupidly wiped & will be able to repost. Below is the original post in all it’s glory!
Yet, another cabbage made it’s way into my CSA share last week, but this time I didn’t fret. After a few successful & yummy cabbage dishes under my belt I was ready to tackle more. The featured dish? “Irish Colcannon” with a vegan twist…
While there are many variations of this rustic dish, colcannon is traditional Irish fare made from mashed potatoes & cabbage, or kale. It is often doctored up with chives, sour cream, butter, leeks, bacon, or ham. I would’ve preferred to use kale as my green, I decided to save the kale for juicing & make use of the savoy cabbage. Instead of the typical russet potato, I used a variety of Yukon gold, red & purple potatoes to add a bit of color & variation to the dish. Besides, I do not have a potato ricer, & russets are a challenge to mash with a fork. To substitute the bacon, I used Torfurky Italian Sausage, as I love the flavor & bursts of sun-dried tomatoes speckled through out.
Chop potatoes into 1″ cubes & bring them to a boil in salted water. You can peel your potatoes if you prefer, but I kept the skins on to boost flavor, texture, & nutritional value.
Add vegan margarine & garlic to the bottom of a dutch oven. Cook until the margarine is melted and the garlic is fragrant, then add cabbage & toss well to coat. Add sausage & liquid aminos & cook over medium heat until cabbage is cooked down & tender.
Once potatoes become fork tender, drain well, then add to the warm cabbage & sausage mixture. Mash with a large fork or potato ricer.
Mix in the nutritional yeast, herbs, & warmed almond milk. Add salt & pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Creamy, buttery potatoes, tender cabbage, zesty vegan sausage make this a delightful & comforting dish to savor on St. Paddy’s Day.
As they say in Ireland, ”May your pockets be heavy & your heart be light, may good luck pursue you each morning & night.” Cheers!
Oh & sorry for the radio silence around here! Busy as usual, & got a bit off schedule & then my dog broke my computer! I know, I know, sounds a bit like “dog ate my homework” & we all know how well that excuse was received. But really, it was already on the fritz, & then she knocked it off of the couch on to the hardwood floor while it was open & on. Needless to say, it was toast. It took me a week or so to come to terms with the fact (& make room in my budget) that I needed to replace it. I finally brought myself to do it, so happy extravagant birthday to me. I have to say, though, it is amazing & I love it. So stay tuned for more regular scheduled blog-casting, coming soon!
We’ve come to that time of year where we’re no longer in the dead of winter, but not yet in the bloom of spring. We’re at the crux of transition. The ice is melting in some parts of the world. The days are once again getting longer, the leaves are returning to the trees, & the flowers are beginning to bloom. Here in San Diego we were hit with a pretty large rainstorm this past weekend, & it seemed as if the roses in my garden opened overnight. This is the first rose to fully bloom. So beautiful!
In Ayurveda these signs indicate the passage from "Vata" season (which governs fall & early winter), into "Kapha" season (which governs late winter & spring. As we embark on this seasonal transition, it’s a wonderful time to adjust our diet & lifestyle patterns to ensure we stay well & in harmony with our environment. Therefore, it is time for us to begin shifting towards more “kapha dosha pacifying practices” that will keep us warm, dynamic, & joyful.
For today’s wellness post, I am sharing the wisdom of yoga teacher & Ayurvedic consultant, Kate Schwabacher, on how to make a smooth & mindful transition.
In Ayurveda, ‘Ritu Sandhi’ is the Seasonal Juncture (which in southern California we begin to experience in late February/early March): the time between winter and spring. In this juncture we start to transition our habits from winter palliation to spring awakening!
Here are a couple points to keep in mind for the month of February:
~ Savor the last of winter’s hearty produce for soon it’ll be spring’s naturally cleansing fare of sprouts & greens. So this month enjoy the last of the foods you’ll be saying so long to next month: Avocados, Pumpkins, Winter Squash, Tomatoes, Bananas, Dates, Figs, Oranges, & Nuts & Seeds.
~ If you’re prone to springtime ailments like allergies, water retention & lethargy start to avoid the most aggravating foods for spring: dairy, red meat, nuts, sweeteners (other than honey) & excessively salty foods.
~ Start to integrate more spring in your step as the sun starts to come up earlier! Wake up early (before sunrise) & start your day with some vigorous exercise to clear your mind & refresh your body for the day ahead!
~ Try something new! While routine is great for calming the nervous system in the winter, routine can bog us down in the spring. Try a new yoga or exercise class, cooking a new recipe, hiking up a mountain for a new view on the world, or making a new friend. Get out & see what this beautiful world has to offer!
As Kate mentioned, we are going to start seeing a change in the produce offered at the farmers’ markets & in our CSA boxes, so it is time to make the most out of the last of winter’s bounty. It is this time of year that an abundance of beets come flowing my way, & I challenge myself to come up with new ways to enjoy them. As I’ve been making a habit of preparing a seasonal kitchari each week inspired by my CSA delivery, I decided to once again, add beets to the mix, but this time, rather than roasting them separately & adding them in to the final dish, I cooked the beets along with the bean & rice mixture to create a beautiful jeweled dish! For an extra boost of nutrition, I utilized the beet greens as well, which are delicate, surprisingly sweet & mild, & very nutritious, as they are high in vitamins & minerals: A, C, K and fiber, iron and potassium. For this recipe I also used a spilt mung dahl & a prepared kitchari spice mix that I purchased through Banyan Botanicals. I really liked the texture of the spilt mung, versus the whole variety that I had cooked with previously, & the kitchari spice blend was lovely. To make life easier, you can purchase an entire "Kitchari Kit"here - complete with rice, mung dahl, kitchari spice & a recipe. How convenient!
1 cup brown basmati rice
1⁄2 cup split mung dal
3 teaspoons kitchari spice mix
2 tablespoons ghee, or coconut oil
6 cups water
2 cups chopped beets, peeled & cut into small dice
1 bunch beet greens, thoroughly washed & chopped
Wash rice & mung dal & soak overnight. Drain soak water.
In a medium saucepan warm the ghee or coconut oil. Add the kitchari spice mixture & sauté for one to two minutes. Add rice & mung beans & sauté for another couple of minutes.
Add 6 cups of water & bring to a boil. Once the kitchari has come to a boil reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover & cook until it is tender (approx. 30-45 minutes). Add the beets halfway through cooking, & add the greens in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Add Himalayan salt to taste & garnish with fresh cilantro & shredded coconut.
While enjoyed this variation of “ruby red” kitchari, I’ve definitely have had my fill of beet this season, & tubers & root veggies too. I am really craving lighter vegetables & raw greens. I cannot wait to make spring kitchari with basil, asparagus & peas! Keep your eyes peeled for that.
What winter produce will you miss? What are you most excited for in spring? Bring on the new season! I am ready.
Welcome back to Mindful Mondays! I took a few days off from blogging to relax & enjoy my birthday. One of my many birthday/new moon intentions - be consistent with my meditation practice. My long term goal is to teach mindfulness after all, so I need to get solid with it! It’s so, so worth it, for more reasons than one.
In brainstorming a post for today, I came across this article on MIND.BODY.GREEN & thought it would be perfect to share. Boy can I relate to “monkey-mind!”I just completed an 8-week MBSR program last Wednesday & was introduced to all of the practices mentioned below. Our last meeting was bittersweet. I became so attached to my fellow mindful seekers! There really is something special about this mindfulness stuff & something so powerful in the act of meditation - it really does change your brain.
How Meditation Changes Your Brain
Do you struggle, like me, with monkey-mind? Is your brain also a little unsettled, restless, capricious, whimsical, fanciful, inconstant, confused, indecisive, or uncontrollable? That’s the definition of “monkey mind” I’ve been given!
If you need more motivation to take up this transformative practice, neuroscience research has shown that meditation & mindfulness training can cause neuroplastic changes to the gray matter of your brain.
A group of Harvard neuroscientists interested in mindfulness meditation have reported that brain structures change after only eight weeks of meditation practice.
“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness & physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive & psychological benefits that persist throughout the day.”
To test their idea the neuroscientists enrolled 16 people in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction course. The course promised to improve participants’ mindfulness & well-being, & reduce their levels of stress.
Everyone received audio recordings containing 45-minute guided mindfulness exercises (body scan, yoga, & sitting meditation) that they were instructed to practice daily at home. And to facilitate the integration of mindfulness into daily life, they were also taught to practice mindfulness informally in everyday activities such as eating, walking, washing the dishes, taking a shower, & so on. On average, the meditation group participants spent an average of 27 minutes a day practicing some form of mindfulness.
Magnetic resonance images (MRI scans) of everyone’s brains were taken before & after they completed the meditation training, & a control group of people who didn’t do any mindfulness training also had their brains scanned.
After completing the mindfulness course, all participants reported significant improvement in measures of mindfulness, such as “acting with awareness” & “non-judging.”
What was startling was that the MRI scans showed that mindfulness groups increased gray matter concentration within the left hippocampus, the posterior cingulate cortex, the temporo-parietal junction, & the cerebellum. Brain regions involved in learning & memory, emotion regulation, sense of self, & perspective taking!
Wellness Wednesdays: A Superfood Breakfast with Katie's Healing Kitchen
We’ve all been told a thousand times that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but many of us still find ourselves skipping it, as we rush in the mornings to get out of bed, ready for work, & out the door. Not a good idea at all! Raise your hand if you need a little help in the healthy breakfast, but short on time department.
If it’s raised, you’re in luck, as today my dear friend Chef Katie Gluck, of Katie’s Healing Kitchen is here to share her tips & a recipe for a delicious & nutritious “make-head” breakfast that can be thrown together instantly & effortlessly, even on the busiest days. Take it way Katie!
Between managing work, family & friends, along with day to day life, it can be difficult to stay healthy. Exercise, meditation & smart eating choices can fall at the bottom of the to do list. And when time finally frees up in a hectic schedule, motivation can lack in starting (or restarting) healthy habits. I know the feeling.
Well I’ve discovered a way to stop stressing about eating healthy. It’s as simple as this: take a few hours a week to prep a few items. I designate one day a week to prep sauces, grains, lentils, pre-cut veggies & make a few other staples that make meal time a snap!
One of my favorite ways to start the day is with an acai bowl topped with a super simple nutritious granola that can be made ahead of time. Just the thought of this breakfast makes me roll out of bed in no time. I make the granola at the beginning of the week and keep it in tupperware on the counter. I double the acai smoothie mixture & stash it in a glass jar in the fridge. I simply pour the desired amount of acai in a bowl and top it with a handful of granola, chia seeds & plenty of fresh organic berries. In less that 2 minutes I have a healthy breakfast that keeps me satisfied until lunch.
We all get busy & our health can go on the back burner. But I’ve found that by taking an hour or two a week to prep quick & healthy meals, everything in life seems to go smoother.
I’m not going to lie, I’m not a perfect health guru. Some mornings I sleep through yoga, have cupcakes for dinner & I’ve never really gotten the hang of this mediation thing… but I do the best that I can under busy circumstances & try not to stress about the days when I fall short.
1/3 cup dates, packed
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup oats
1 cup quinoa flakes
1 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup hemp seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dried fruit (goji berries, raisins, dried cranberries)
Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a high speed blender combine wet ingredients & blend until smooth (adding coconut oil last).
In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients (except dried fruit). Pour wet mixture over dry ingredients. Stir to combine.
Evenly spread mixture onto baking sheets.
Bake for 15 - 20 minutes, taking trays out & stirring every 5 minutes.
Remove from oven & place in a large bowl, add dried fruit & enjoy!
I can confirm & attest that this is one yummy & healthy breakfast, as Katie taught & served this at her Brunch Class last weekend! It is definitely a recipe to add into the regular rotation. You can learn more about Katie, sign up for her newsletter, & see her upcoming class schedule at katieshealingkitchen.com.
I love Ayurveda! I also love to see it’s popularity growing in the western world!
Once winter rolls around, do you ever feel like you fall into an instant fog? Or maybe you notice that when you eat certain foods you feel more sluggish than usual? Chances are we’ve all experienced these feelings at one point in our life, but if you find yourself stuck in a particular rut you may want to consider Ayurveda to help bring the pep back into your life.
Ayurveda is the world’s oldest form of medicine. In Sanskrit, Aryuveda means “the science of life” & its practice focuses on balancing the forces of wind (vata), fire (pitta), & Earth (kapha) that make up the human form. In contrast to Western medicine, Ayurveda is a holistic practice that takes into account not only your physical health, but other factors like disposition or character traits to determine how the elements (or doshas) of wind, fire, and Earth are balanced in your body & impact your health. For example, a person who has a strong vata constitution might be very high energy & creative in the summer months but, in the winter months this airy disposition is likely to feel the negative impact of the cold & become unbalanced.
How Ayurveda Works to Restore Balance
According to The Chopra Institute, basic Ayurvedic principles give you “guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet and behavior” all of these guidelines works to “remind us that health is the balanced dynamic integration between environment, body, mind, & spirit.”
Recognizing the fluid nature of our bodies in time with changes in the seasons & other variables of life, Ayurveda provides simple exercise techniques & diet modifications that will help to restore harmony to your body.
Soba bowls are high on the list of my favorite things. I love them chilled & tossed with tamari, rice vinegar, fresh ginger, garlic & sesame seeds, or made into a more hearty meal with the addition of vegetables. Any variation of broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, snow peas, & tofu seem to be the typical & most favorable accoutrements. Even tahini & roasted cauliflower are wonderful with soba (note to self…make & blog!). The great thing about soba noodles is that, even though they are made from “buckwheat,” they don’t contain wheat, so they are perfect for those who wish to avoid gluten. Be careful & read the labels though, as wheat gluten can sometimes be added in as a trace ingredient. My preferred brand is Eden Foods whose noodles are 100% buckwheat, which I purchase from my local co-op. They’re a bit pricy, but I love them so much that I don’t mind forking over a little extra change.
This bowl was a welcome change after all that soup & kitchari, even though I enjoyed everything I ate on the cleanse. It was nice to “reintegrate” & step back into the normal routine with a meal like this.
1 bunch broccolini, stems separated from florets & sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
1/2 head savoy cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 Tbsp. tamari
1-2 teaspoons of mirin
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1-2 tsp. sesame oil
drizzle of sriracha
cilantro & sesame seeds for garnish
Cook the soba noodles in salted boiling water for about 8-12 minutes, they should be tender but still al dente.
When soba noodles are finished cooking, rinse under cold water, drain well & transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat the olive oil. Add broccolini & cook, stirring occasionally until tender. Add garlic, ginger, cabbage, half the scallions & tamari & cook for another few minutes. Add the mirin to deglaze the pan & cook until everything is soft. Remove from heat & set aside to cool for a few minutes.
Add veggies to the bowl of soba noodles & toss with the rest of the scallions, & the rice vinegar & sesame oil. Top with a generous drizzle of sriracha, & garnish with chopped cilantro & sesame seeds.
Mmmmm….this is the perfect meal for lunch or dinner. I always keep soba noodles on hand for when the craving strikes. In fact, I’ve worked up quite the craving just writing this post. I think I’ll be making this recipe from The PPK for dinner tonight!
A darling reader from Singapore submitted this recipe for these "BeauTea-Infused Buckwheat Pancakes"& I just about fell out of my chair. What vibrant, gorgeous photography…teach me your secrets!!!
Oh & the recipe…wholesome, vegan, & inventively infused with the most lovely sounding tea. I was all set to blow my last $30 bucks on a tin…until I realized that it’s an Australian based company (&20 shipping) & I cannot justify spending $50 I don’t really have on tea…unless it promises to undo the damage of the last 20 years! Doubt it! Oh, still I want it so badly. I love tea! And pancakes! Ah but yes, I have friends in AUS ~ Erin? Clem? It’s almost my birthday!! Hook a sister up?
Oh, kitchari, what a beautiful discovery! I’ve been enjoying a warm bowl of kitchari for breakfast or lunch over most days over the past few weeks, & it is becoming one of my favorite “comfort foods.” For those of you who are unfamiliar, “kitchari” is a dish of split mung beans & rice cooked long & slow with spices, ghee & seasonal vegetables. It is an Ayurvedic staple ~ balancing, tonifying & cleansing, & was one of the main meals in my recent "Winter Ayurvedic Cleanse." For this week’s "Wellness Wednesday" post, I am inviting Laura Plumb, my Ayurvedic guru, the wise woman who guided our cleanse, & the author of the beautiful blog, Food: A Love Story.
Today, I am sharing an excerpt from one of Laura’s blog posts dedicated to the art & heart of healing kitchari. Laura also graciously allowed me to share the “basic winter kitchari” recipe that we enjoyed on our cleanse, which I adapted with seasonal vegetables I had in my kitchen. I hope you cook it, savor it & love it as much as we do.
An Introduction from Laura Plumb of Food: A Love Story ~
Kichari, sometimes spelled Kichidi, or Kitchari, is the most healing of foods, not to mention whole-body delicious. It is warm, rich, hearty & grounding: delightfully balancing in Fall/Winter.
I simply cannot say enough about it: Kichari is cleansing. Kichari is tonifying. Kichari is nurturing. Kichari is gentle to sensitive tummies. Kichari is loving, warm assurance on cold, rainy days. Kichari is a family favorite. Kichari is so important to Ayurveda that it is featured all over & might even be called the star of Food: A Love Story.
We often think of foods that tonify, or strengthen, & foods that cleanse & detoxify as utterly distinct. The beauty of Kichari is that it does both. It fortifies & purifies, explaining its reputation as one of the world’s original “Smart Foods.”
Kichari is served to the sick, elderly, overweight, undernourished. It provides most of our daily nutritional needs, is easy to digest, & kindles the digestive fires, making it ideal, too, for post-operative recovery, as it won’t divert energy from the healing. Kichari is such a complete meal that it is often eaten exclusively as a fast as it so efficiently supports detoxification.
Despite its medicinal power, Kichari is great comfort food ~ & surprisingly delicious. It is, in fact, full body delicious: home-cooked kichari awakens cellular intelligence to the point you can almost hear your body hum. Mmmmm. Yummmm. Ommmm. Yeeeesssss.
1/2 cup split mung beans (or lentils, or split peas)
2 Tbsp. ghee (or coconut oil for a vegan version)
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. garam masala
4 cups boiling water
1 Tbsp. shredded coconut
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1/2 cone cabbage, shredded
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 small head of purple cauliflower, chopped into bite size pieces, & roasted
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, chopped & roasted
1 tsp. Himalayan pink salt
1 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
***look for split mung beans in the bulk section of your local health food store or ethnic market. If you cannot find locally, you can purchase online through Banyan Botanicals.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cauliflower & sweet potato with coconut oil until well coated, then place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Season with Himalayan pink salt. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.
While vegetables are roasting, rinse rice & mung beans in water & drain.
in a large pot or dutch oven melt the ghee over medium-high heat. Add spices & saute for 1 minute.
Stir in rice & mung & coat thoroughly in the spicy oil.
Add water, sesame seeds, coconut, & shredded cabbage. Cook on medium heat until rice is tender, approximately 40 minutes.
Stir in roasted vegetables & salt, & cook for a few minutes over low heat.
Garnish with golden raisins, flaked coconut, & cilantro.Serve warm.
One of the things I’ve really been enjoying about kichari is that it is very adaptable & versatile. You can basically add what ever seasonal vegetables that you desire to the basic mixture of mung beans, rice & spices. It can be eaten alone as a complete meal for breakfast or lunch, or both, or as a side dish alongside a salad & steamed seasonal vegetables. I even put a large scoop of kitchari baked carnival squash halves! Yum!
Are you tired of hearing about Ayurveda? Hope not, as I am not tired of writing about it! In fact, I’ve dedicated a tab on the sidebar for this ancient healing science, so you can expect that it is going to be a pretty regular topic around here.
So, go pour yourself a mug of ginger tea, give yourself a little love, & make some nourishing kichari. You’re going to fall head over heels.
Good Morning! I am excited to announce that I am now a "Brand Ambassador" for Vegan Cuts & Pure Citizen. I’ve applied to a few other programs, for which I am awaiting approval, & I’ve also opened an "Amazon Associates" Store. That means that if you click on the sidebar banners, or some links within posts, I will receive a very small portion of any purchase you end up making. If you like my site & want to support my work, then this is a win for both of us!
I’ve been blogging for almost 5 years, & up until recently I had a pretty strong aversion to placing ads or affiliate marketing banners on my site. But with my intention to put extra time love, care, & energy into my blog & personal brand this year, I decided it was time to see if I could generate a little bit of income to reward my efforts. I have 2, sometimes 3 jobs outside of this blog, so blogging for me is a passion, but I would love to develop it into a business someday.
Providing affiliate links & advertising is the first step. One thing I must note is that I will not post anything that I haven’t or wouldn’t purchase myself. I’ve chosen my affiliate partnerships with great thought & care. I’ve been approached numerous times by advertisers that I have turned down, as their products/services were not aligned with my values. And I will always disclose when affiliate links are about to appear in a post.
So with that, as required by the FTC, is my disclosure statement:
Affiliate Disclosure Statement:
I am grateful to be of service & bring you content free of charge. It does take time to create all this content, so I have partnered with a number of affiliate programs.
Receiving compensation will never impact my opinion on a product or service. I’m going to give mixed & honest reviews of products sometimes & turn down propositions that don’t fit with my ethics.
My current affiliates shown on the side bar (subject to grow & change) are:
~ Vegan Cuts
~ Pure Citizen
If you click on their ad or text link & make a purchase, I get a little kickback. Unless I’ve reviewed the product & mentioned that they provided the product to me, I am not compensated me in any other way.
I also participate in Amazon.com’s affiliate program. If you click on an Amazon link or photo at my site, I get a (small) commission, as long as you complete your purchase within 24 hours.
When I run a giveaway or review, I usually have received a free product, & the company has sponsored a free product to give to one of my readers. The review is my own opinion, & although the company in question may certainly read my text, they don’t edit or approve it in any way. They also don’t compensate me for reviewing the product beyond providing me with a sample.
I understand if affiliate programs freak you out, fair enough – just avoid the links & google around for the products on your own.
Thank you, in advance for your support!
Again, I will always alert you when an affiliate link is embedded in a post. You can review my disclosure statement at any time on my "about" page. Also, if you have any products or services you would like me to promote, please let me know. And if you are an ethical company that would like to discuss advertising or an affiliate partnership, please contact me at email@example.com.
Now that’s out of the way! Have a wonderful Tuesday.