Saturday, September 22, 2012

It’s just another one of those times of in our lives where we become more aware of changes and more adept to be overwhelmed with graciousness. The occasional blustery wind, the cool air, darker nights – autumn is definitely coming out to play.    Summer, however  free and wonderful and warm, is saying her goodbyes.  Today we welcome the Fall Equinox; with season summer now behind us, fall has arrived.  Today is a special day, as it is the day of balance; a day completely balanced with 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night.  And as such, it is yet another opportunity for us to live our lives work in conjunction with our nature, our Gaia earth, our universe, ourselves.  Because…everything is connected.

Becoming conscious to what balance really looks like and feels like and figuring out how to integrate in your life today, is a thought-provoking and peaceful idea.  Because I see the earth and her position in our solar system with our sun and I realized that changes these signs bring me.   I am reminded that always in life our positions are changed, times are balanced and at those times, we can be balanced.

What exactly then does balance mean?  Feeling at home in your place.  Having energy but also calmness.  I planted 26 garlic cloves.  Working with the earth connects me so automatically.  I layered my planting area with compost I scrounged from my young compost pile.  As I used my hands to manipulate the dirt, my thoughts stopped and my body and mind connected to my soul-connection this place and time. 
I also did a little art project and I used the concept of balance as related to art  in my planning.  I found it interesting that I was able to bring balance into such a simple task.


When I was in a store today, I had a question that no one who worked there knew the answer to.  I needed to get an answer if I was to buy the garlic and plant as I wished.  I noticed my pause with each road block and my inevitable response so gentle yet direct.  I finally was directed to another worker back in the kitchen to assist me.  Even In this situation, although I was kind, simple, gentle, the woman I was speaking with had an edge and even said, in the middle of our discussion over the organic garlic cloves: “ma’am step back, you’re not allowed in here.”  Even in that split second, as I felt the unnecessary indifference to me as a fellow human, I was in such a balanced place that I saw her disconnection  to me and the universe as reasoning for her edge and found that breathing into myself and being neutral, if not a bit kind, to follow through on my quest  for information from her.  I got it what I needed.

Simple things make us balanced.  Maybe for you its deep knee squats.  Or maybe its laying on the couch for a day to relax and watch movies.  Whatever it is – be within yourself and be happy.  Feel the cool air, let the wind through your hair, and enjoy the color changes all while enjoying yourself.

For an ancient connection to this sacred day follow this link

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Deliciousness - Vegetarian GLUTEN-FREE Asian Noodles

In a word….DELISCIOUSNESS.  That’s just what you will experience if you try these Vegetarian, Dairy-Free Gluten-Free Asian Noodles.  I have refined the recipe several times and think it’s worth sharing at this point.  I mean, to do anything other than that would be just plain unfair. J   

For me, pasta is a staple, as are vegetables.  The vegetable part is easy but if you are trying to avoid that glutinous gluten food, that’s where it becomes a bit tricky.  Gluten, which is Latin for GLUE!, is a protein found in some foods and food additives.  Most popularly, we are subject to gluten through wheat products as gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and malts. 

The gluten intolerance and sensitivity is becoming for of a hot topic domestically as of late.  One example of the current focus is at The University of Maryland.  Researchers and faculty there are working with General Mills to educate Americans about gluten and their diets.   However in Europe they have been addressing gluten’s effect on human health for years.  Because the majority of American cuisine is based on wheat products, the Americans are suffering, sometimes silently, more than necessary.

There are easy ways to build meals around these restrictions.  I like to think of them not as restrictions but options for alternative.  So if I want pasta, instead of using wheat product pasta, I can choose pasta made from alternative flours: quinoa, brown rice, corn, for starters.  For this recipe I used Annie Chun’s Maifun Brown Rice Noodles  Try this out….

Vegetarian GLUTEN-FREE Asian Noodle                                                             serves 4 as main meal

INGREDIENTS for homemade teriyaki sauce                                       

¼ c. soy sauce                                                                       Heat all ingredients until the sugars dissolve.
1/8 c. water
1 T. rice wine vinegar
2 ½ T. brown sugar
1/8 c. sugar (agave, honey, maple)
¾ t. minced garlic
¾ t. ginger

INGREDIENTS for Asian Noodles

Bunch of scallions, sliced long and thin in 1 ½ inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 head of cabbage, cut thinly (I add additional veggies, broccoli, water chestnuts, whatever I have)
1 red pepper, sliced in strips
3 carrots, sliced into thin strips
2 T. vegetable oil
1 T. curry
1 package brown rice noodles, cook as package directs
4 eggs, scrambled with a few dashes of curry and a drop of sesame oil                                                                                   (sometimes is substitute tofu for the eggs, in that case, cube one block of tofu)
1 t. chili garlic sauce
1 c. vegetable broth
Homemade teriyaki sauce

Instructions for meal creation:

1 – Prepared all vegetable and bowl for later.
2 – Make homemade teriyaki sauce.
3 – Scramble eggs.
4 – Cook noodles.  Drain and toss with sesame oil.
5 – Begin meal completion.  Heat vegetable oil in large wok.  Start with sautéing scallions, carrots, red peppers, garlic and cabbage.   Stir in curry powder until you can smell its essence.
6 – Add teriyaki sauce to stir-fry.  Then add vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
7- Mix in scrambled eggs and noodles.  Coat all ingredients well.
8 – Serve and enjoy.

**Link for Gluten Sensitive Resources at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital’s Gluten Intolerance Group (might be good for those close to Philly)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Living Fully - Life on Earth: happiness, strength, and love

Living Fully - Life on Earth: happiness, strength, and love:  Sunflowers, or girasoli as they are called in Italian, are literally flowers that turn towards the sun, well in the bud stage that is....

happiness, strength, and love

 Sunflowers, or girasoli as they are called in Italian, are literally flowers that turn towards the sun, well in the bud stage that is.  As it flowers, a sunflower faces East.  This flower is native to the Americas and was introduced to Europe in the 16th century.  Thus leading to production of sunflower oil for culinary purposes.  But the sunflower’s history goes back far beyond this.  It is believed that many indigenous native American peoples, including the Aztecs and the Incas, saw the sunflower as a symbol of their solar deity.   Spiritually sunflowers represent happiness, strength and love.

For me, these mammoth flowers became companions I saw through this fine summer.  I started them from seeds and nurtured them as if they were my babies.  They sprouted early in the summer and offered amazing pillars of green strength.  
sunflower plants spring up

Getting real tall, still no flowers

The sunflowers quickly grew to be giants.  The summer continued on and our sunflowers continued to flourish.  Minor incidents, such as, strong summer storms with whirling winds or ant colonies interested in a new endeavor, kept us engaged with our flowers long beyond their seedling days as we nurtured their life experience. 

Such a gift, these sunflowers not only provided strength and color and life to us, they attracted bees and bugs in search of nature’s pollen.  As the flowers matured, so did the seeds them grew out of the head of the flower.  To my great pleasure, we can connect a mathematical model to our dear sunflower.  The flower is in the form of Fermat’s spiral and the mesh of spirals occurs in Fibonacci numbers.  

When the flowers reached heights of 15 feet and their own heaviness began to wear them down, we knew it was time to cut them down.  This was an undertaking, as the plants’ stalks had grown to the size of small trees.  We gently sawed them down and prepared the sunflower heads for drying.  Some recommendations suggest brown bagging the heads to dry.  I preferred leaving my heads out for several days to air dry before putting them upside down in a brown paper bag and tying closed for about 2 weeks.  When the seeds were dry, I harvested them right into my big metal bowl.  The flower is sappy and my hands got sticky and brown as I worked.

Once the seeds are harvested and dry it’s time to begin preparing them for a snack.  I boiled the seeds in a large pot of water with ¼ cup of coarse salt for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Then I strained and dried the seeds out before laying them on a large jelly roll sheet, which had been lightly oiled with olive oil.  I baked the seeds for 40 minutes and wah-la!  Oven roasted sunflower seeds that were cultivated in my backyard. 

Sunflower seeds: boiled, dried, oiled and roasted

Great news too…sunflower seeds are super packed with health benefits.  These seeds provide a significant amount of vitamin E, magnesium, and selenium.  Not to mention they’ll easily curb your hunger and occupy                               
your mouth.  Vitamin E is quite important for your health.  It is
a fat-soluble antioxidant that travels through the human body and neutralizes free radicals (that would otherwise cause damage to your cells.)  The magnesium helps to regulate nerve and muscle tone and selenium, which is a trace mineral, is suggested to lower incidence of cancer.  Delicious, satisfying, fun to eat and good for you!  Can’t beat that.

Visit the National Sunflower Association for a free downloadable sunflower coloring book!