[Fore]Gone Conclusions

Recipe: Baked Apples with Cinnamon Cashew Cream

Just as we have our stories, we also have our endings. Many times we expect certain outcomes before they’ve even happened. Or we may react the same way to the same situation every time, and then be upset with ourselves in the same way for doing so. Our beliefs and actions can sometimes be so ingrained in us that we operate without recognizing that we have other options; it never occurs to us that there could be a different outcome to the same story, or better yet, a free fall – a complete surrender to what is real and true for you in that moment.

Say, for example, that every time you get together with certain individuals, you overeat and then you come home at the end of the evening and binge. This social scene isn’t really a “fit” for you, you feel inadequate, or are being triggered in some other way. As you sit there with these people, all you can really think about is what you are going to be eating once you step foot inside your house. And when you do finally come home, you go into autopilot and the night ends up with you feeling even worse about yourself….again.

Or, let’s say you go out and treat yourself to a massage or a yoga class, but rather than coming home and feeling good in your body and tucking yourself into bed, you come home and have a binge instead. This is because your story doesn’t involve you allowing yourself to feel good – this ending never even occurred to you. The only ending you know is the one that keeps confirming your story (i.e., “I’m fat,” “I have X eating disorder,” “I’m in some way not okay”).

What if we turned our stories into our very own “Choose Your Own Adventure” and we tried to visualize a different outcome to the usual way our predictable stories play themselves out? What if we went down a different path, and experienced a different outcome/reality?

With the above example, for instance, I might think about what a nice night at home after a massage might look like. It might involve curling up with a book and a cup of tea. Or a hot bath. Or maybe just hopping straight into bed, snuggling up under the covers. Can you picture it? We can’t always change our outcomes over night, but we can began to consider the possibility that we can live it out a different way. Even just this simple exercise of visualizing ourselves responding differently can plant a seed of what is possible for you and challenge your beliefs and behaviours around your current experiences. Give it a go and see what kinds of amazing conclusions you can fathom.

Baked Apples – who knew?? I have been baking apples straight for the last week. I love apple pies, crisps, crumbles – but after baking apples and letting the apples stand on their own, all that doe, sugar, and Earth Balance just seems unnecessary. Something happens in that baking process: some might call it “caramelization,” but I call it magic. The apples turn super sweet, which makes them not only a delicious dessert, but a fantastic sweetener to blend into puddings, spreads, and baking (also great for rounding out texture too!). Here’s one way I’ve been enjoying my baked apples lately, but there are many more which I hope to post about soon. By the way, pears are just as amazing!

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Letting the Belly Breathe

And by breathe, I mean “let it out!” – breathe into it, feel its natural expansion, then exhale and feel it return to the spine (unless you’ve just had two servings on pancakes for breakfast, in which case it might just stay expanded – gulp!).  This exercise is a particularly interesting one because it suddenly makes us very aware of how many of us hold our bellies in MOST OF THE TIME!

I’ve written about the jewels of action and empowerment that reside in the third chakra treasure chest and the need to strengthen and project from a strong naval. The breath is part and parcel with this. We might think our bellies are strong when we suck them in (because flat = six pack or something like that) but our belly strength actually comes from the prana or life force that we allow into it and the rest of the body. You know all of those marvelous statues of the first goddess deities? Well they weren’t sporting six packs! Probably the first thing you would have noticed is that they have full, voluptuous bellies – and I’d make a small wager they were pregnant with prana and co-creative action, breathing their way into being via the navel in each moment.

It makes me wonder: if we gave ourselves permission to breathe into our bellies, and gave our bellies permission to be themselves in their natural state of expansiveness, would we be better able to tune into our feelings of hunger and fullness? If we live with the belly at “half-mast” as it were, we aren’t really letting our belly say its piece (and so we supplement with another piece  –of pie, that is). That belly breath is oh-so-important. I often find myself starting class with a simple breath that involves placing one hand on the belly (see goddess in photo!) and the other on the heart. Just having that physical contact of the hand on the belly brings us to awareness, and at the same time, we can replace the judgement we might otherwise direct at our round, full bellies with the compassion we connect to with the hand that is on the heart. Full belly living! So give belly breathing a try the next time you catch yourself holding in your stomach and give birth to your true, divine goddess self.

I have been cooking like a crazy woman these last few days. I had an influx of fresh fall veggies and have been hitting up some old favourites: AJ’s Marinara (to top spaghetti squash), my favourite PPK beet soup, steamed leeks drizzled with olive oil….all that to say, nothing new to report! Have fun with the tastes and smells of the season and let me know if you craft something amazing!

Feeling the Hunger

Recipe: Peanut Passion Ala Noods and Greenery

Whatever it is that drives us to our “fix” of choice is actually our gold mine. We just have to decide that we are going to hit up the dark cave, and not board up the entrance and stay in the comfortable place of our neurosis.

Deciding to sit with our “hunger” is two-fold. It requires us to withhold judgement of ourselves (i.e. you are not a bad person for wanting to eat x,y, z or smoke that cigarette. Nor is there something fundamentally wrong with you!), and maybe even show ourselves kindness and acceptance if we have nailed up a board or two. Secondly, it’s helpful if we refrain from getting caught up in the “why” of where we’re at. Going into analytic mode only impedes us from connecting to the core of our experience, from really finding the gold in it.

So, you want to go deeper? Try this: The next time you feel that wave of anxiety, discomfort, emotion — whatever it is for you — put one hand on your belly, and the other on your heart, and breathe. Close your eyes and breathe in deep. Allow that hunger to be filled and satiated with prana, or life force, and stay with your breath. With the hand on your belly, feel the belly become pregnant with ever-giving, ever sustaining prana. With the other hand, become aware of the emotion as it is physically expressed in the heart. Embrace your experience, allowing whatever you find there to just be exactly as it is. To start, try for five long, deep breaths. As you begin to experience this connection as your home coming, you may want to hang out there for longer.

With every occurrence of our hunger, we can decide to do what we’ve always done…..or, we could go deeper. Your call.

I don’t make it a secret that I like peanut butter. It is arguably one of the most versatile foods on the planet. It can be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or (or in my case, AND) dessert. It’s wonderful salty or savoury. And it’s filling and nutritious. What more could you want? I mean, really. When I saw Dreena’s recipe for Peanut Passion Sauce (from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan) I immediately bookmarked it. I’ve only just recently actually “executed” the sauce. I’ve included her recipe below and the little salad number I drenched with it.

Peanut Passion Ala Noods and Greenery

Sauce

1/2 cup peanut butter

3 tbsp tamari

1 tbsp ginger

1 clove garlic

1/8 tsp sea salt

1/8 crushed red pepper flakes

2 tsp lime juice

1/2 tbsp agave nectar

1 tbsp sesame oil

coconut, water, soy or almond milk to thin to desired consistency

Salad

1/2 package rice vermicelli

1/4 cup fresh basil

1/4 cup cilantro

1/2 red pepper, sliced into long strips

1/2 cucumber, juliened into matchsticks or spiralized

1/4 red onion very thinly sliced

chopped peanuts (for garnish)

Combine all of the sauce ingredients and blend in food processor until smooth. Soak noodles in hot water for 5 minutes, rinse under cold water and set aside to dry. Chop remaining veggies. Portion out noodles, top with sauce and above veggies. To finish, sprinkle with peanuts.