Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Moist Pumpkin Cake or Muffins

With Halloween upon us, sweets and treats are bountiful.  Those of us with children know that there is an additional challenge to curb the desires, of our young ones, to overindulge in the sugar-laden and unhealthy options out there.  Good news – we can prepare treats that offer more balanced nutrition.  When my daughter’s teacher requested my contribution for the 5th grade class’s Halloween party, I got excited to come up with a yummy Halloween treat recipe.  Instead of KitKats and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, this year we’ll try Pumpkin Muffins.  You should try it too!

Pumpkin Cake/ Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour                                                        ½ stick butter
¼ cup white sugar                                                               1 heaping cup pumpkin puree
2 tsp baking powder                                                            ¼ cup applesauce
1 ½ tsp cinnamon                                                                ½ cup evaporated milk
¼ tsp ginger                                                                         2 eggs
½ tsp nutmeg                                                                       1 ½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp salt
1 cup nuts, chocolate chips, or raisins (optional)

For Frosting
¼ cup softened butter            
4 oz cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Cut in butter.
Mix in the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl.  Combine until mixture blended well.
Pour wet mixture into the bowl with the dry mixture, and then fold just enough to combine the two.
This is the point where you can add nuts, chips, raisins if you’d like.
Grease cakepan or muffin tins (or use fun Halloween muffin cups).  Fold batter into cakepan or fill muffin cups ½ of the way up.
In a small bowl mix a bit of sugar with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Sprinkle top of muffins or cake with sugar/cinnamon/nutmeg mix.  
Bake at 400 degrees for 22-28 minutes for muffins, 30-35 minutes for cake.
Let muffins/cake cool.  Blend frosting ingredients well and frost if desired.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Your Root Chakra

Root chakra
Meaning: “root support”, The Root chakra is the foundation of your chakra system.
Color: red
Element: earth
Archetype: mother earth
Location: base of spine
Associated endocrine gland: adrenal medulla
Musical note: C
Mantra: I AM HERE
Chant: LAM
Power: gravity
Foods: proteins, root vegetables
Balanced root chakra: You feel grounded, centered, and able to live life NOW.
Unbalanced Root chakra: You may have a weak root chakra if:  you feel threatened or unsafe in this world, if you tend to be fearful or nervous, often feeling disconnected or alienated.
GROUNDING: Use this exercise to strengthen your root chakra and your connection to the ground.
Stand up straight and relaxed.
Put your feet shoulder width apart.
Slightly bend your knees.
Put your pelvis somewhat forward.
Keep your body balanced, so that your weight is evenly distributed over the soles of your feet.
Sink your weight downward.

Keep in this position for several minutes.

Your Sacral Chakra

Pictured above is a depiction of the symbol for our SACRAL CHAKRA.  They are many graphic varieties of the symbol.  However all variations represent the same idea:

  Our sacral chakra is where we harbor our feelings and sexuality energy.   We consider this space the "sacral home of self" and hub of creative potential.
This energy's color representation is ORANGE.
The sacral chakra is ruled by the element: WATER.  

This energy center is located in your sacrum and lower abdomen.  For obvious location reasons, this energy is involved with the testes and ovaries.  Additional involvement occurs with the adrenal glands, prostrate gland, reproductive system, spleen and bladder.

Archetypes of those with strong sacral chakra energy are those that represent or model an emperor/empress or sovereign personality.  

If you have a Balanced and Open Sacral Chakra: Your feelings flow freely.  You can express yourself without being overly emotional.  You are intimate and have passion and a zest for life.

If your Sacral Chakra is unbalanced: You may feel stiff and unemotional.  Some are considered to wear a "poker face".  You are typicalyl not very open to people.

REMEMBER it is important to care for all of your chakras or energy centers.  Your SACRAL CHAKRA has a number of ways for us to care for it.  First, know that the muscial note of this energy center is the note D.

Use this note as an entrance and exit of your mediation.  Hum this note throughout your day to recenter your sacral energy.  You can also engage this energy center using a mantra.  A mantra, as described by wikipdeia.com, can be a sound, syllable, word, or as in this case, a group of words that are capable of creating some sort of transformation.  The mantra is originated from the vedic tradition of India.  It is indeed a traditional practice in Hinduism, Buddhism, and other similar spiritual movements.  

The mantra I suggest for your SACRAL CHAKRA is: 
You may create your own mantras or find others that may suit you better.  Whatever you choose, allow it to reconnect the SACRAL as emotional center and grounding you to open your feelings and creativity.  This chakra's power is MAGNETISM and attraction to others.  

A chant may also be use to engage the energy center through vocal and auditory connections.  The chant for the ROOT is: VAM and/or MA
As you chant, place your hands on your lap, face up on top of each other, left hand below, with thumbs lightly touching.  Concentrate and make a connection to the area in your lower abdomen.

Some examples of the crystals and stones that hold similar energies to the sacral chakra are: amber, carnelian, moonstone, orange calcite, and turquoise.  Use them to strengthen the Sacral Chakra in your system.

The Sacral Chakra is well-balanced needs foods that nourish the sexual and creativity center of your body.  

orange fruits & vegetables: providing beta-carotene and other carotenoids.
seeds:  rich in healthy fats, especially flax seed because of its ability to influence estrogen activity in the body and thought to reduce certain cancers (breast, prostrate, and colon) (www.newconnexion.net, Dr. Deanna Minich. 2011)
spices: cinnamon, vanilla, carob, sweet paprika, sesame seeds, caraway seeds.
nuts: Cashews for excellent; they cashews great, rich in a buttery taste and shaped like the crescent moon.  Walnuts are important and are brain-shaped and ironically high in brain boasting omega-3 fatty acids.  Include other nuts like almonds too!

This last exercise is a physical grounding activity. 

Sit comfortably with your legs criss-crossed in front of you.  Inhale  deeply and push the tip of your spine backward.  This is assist in opening the front of your sacrum while expanding and filling your lower belly.  Imagine that the air you inhale expand the area between your hips and makes that space wide.  Exhale and move your sacrum in the opposite directions, this time pushing your navel back toward your spine.  Repeat this inhale and exhale exercise and continue to expand and contract the space between your hips; you can increase the speed as you go.  Connect with the fluidity of your pelvic area and let that flow up your spine.