We planned for November to be a quiet month, free of social commitments. We are dedicating this time to slow-and-steady-sometimes-lazy pre-winter home repair projects. In the colder months of the year, I heed to the natural call to spend more time at home, tending to the hearth but also setting aside time for relaxation and quiet contemplation.
Crunchy leaves under my feet during a lunchtime walk.
I did not always readily acquiesce to nature’s invitation to rest. There was a time when I judged myself harshly for the patterns of low energy that I experienced in the colder months of the year. Comparison to my more energetic counterparts only made me feel worse about myself. Time and time again, as I continued to turn to books that honour nature and seek to inspire others to live in harmony with the natural world through the changing of the seasons, I found that I started to soften my point of view. I let crumble the hard boundaries that I had set around myself and instead, began to acknowledge that I am a part of this cycle. I am a part of the flow. We all are.
Shiva Rea’s Tending the Heart Fire is an excellent resource that supports and validates the patterns that I have been studying within myself. Ancient traditions lived in harmony with the magical cycles of the earth, honouring each season and greeting it with reverence. We have moved too far away from those traditions, but for myself and my family, I am choosing to make changes that allow us to minimize the permeating sense of societal urgency.
Instead of complaining about the weather, I do my best to dress for it. I tend to feel cold all through the colder months in the northern world, but I have adopted Ayurvedic rituals that help to keep me in balance through these seasons. I have embraced oil massages, drinking hot water, and eating grounding foods. I have slowed down my yoga practice and end a strong HIIT session with luxurious restorative or Yin poses. I am very much attached to my electric blanket and have become protective of my early bedtime.
So, we tend to our hearth and we tend to our hearts, making space to reconnect with ourselves and our loved ones. The dark period is a gentle and generous invitation for us to shed artificial layers while focusing on what is most precious to us.
I woke up a bit later than usual this morning, at 5:30, and watched the fiery sun rising over the rooftops of the houses across the street as I sipped my warm lemon water. I love the meditative quality of a quiet sunrise in a still-asleep household where the only ones awake are the cats and I. That is precisely what keeps me coming back to this routine. In the spring and summer months, when the sun rises earlier, it’s easier for me to connect to this motivation as I rise to greet the sun. And so, as I sat at my kitchen table, reflecting on my enjoyment of the morning sunrise routine, it suddenly dawned on me (pun absolutely intended) that today is the last day of April. The year is zooming by.
Here are a few of my highlight lessons from the month of April:
Last week, as I was returning home from a business trip, I was held back at airport security when the metal detector wand beeped many times during a routine scan. If you’re like me, you might start to feel nervous when dealing with security and having to go through an extra scan of any type. I immediately started to feel as though I had done something wrong, knowing all the while that it simply was not so. My mind started to race, thinking of the myriad absurd reasons why the detector would beep around me. Then, I reminded myself to drop all those thoughts. I took a deep breath, mentally told my mind to shut up, and with a smile, approached the scanner machine. The female officer who guided me through the scan turned out to be very nice and had a fantastic sense of humour, making hilarious comments that may have sounded inappropriate to some but made me giggle and quickly soothed my nerves. I still do not know why the metal detector went off, but instead of creating drama out of the situation, I laughed it off and proceeded to Starbucks near my boarding gate, where I bought myself a grande mint tea and relaxed until my flight.
Drama starts in our minds when we allow ourselves to overthink, to worry. When we consciously choose to drop the negative thoughts, the result will be a non-event. That’s right. Nothing particular will happen. Why? Because we will not allow ourselves to process what is happening. Instead, by going through the situation with Presence and Grace, breathing deeply and simply acknowledging what is happening right here in this moment, we allow ourselves to simply experience and stay open to whatever comes next. That experience is liberating. Imagine staying so open to any experience that it almost feels as though you are moving through a dream, just watching life happen to you, with curiosity, without trying to control it. We are naturally drawn to the desire to want to be in control of most situations, but when dealing with a challenging scenario, I find that what works best for me is to let go of trying to change the situation. In fact, I find it takes less energy to pray and trust that I am always going to be okay than it does to try to fight, to argue. As the saying goes, “Everything will be okay in the end, and if it’s not, it’s not the end.”
I am continuing to work on my handstand, feeling more confident with each practice. There are days when I feel a bit low on energy or simply not interested in working too hard. On those days, I fall out of the inversion. Instead of persevering and continuing to force myself into the pose, I move on to a gentler practice. My yoga practice is starting to resemble my life off the mat, and my life off the mat is very much reflected in my yoga practice. I love the sense of expansive freedom I feel each time I follow my intuition and allow it to guide me to move the way I need to move on any given day. I used to be very rigid in my approach to exercise. Recently, I kicked all those old, non-serving rules to the curb. Some days call for a sweaty kickboxing workout and a vigorous Vinyasa flow. On other days, my mat, bolsters, blankets and a lavender-scented flax eye pillow summon me over for a soothing restorative practice. No guilt. No regrets. No counting calories. Just listening to my intuition and going with the flow. That’s my balance.
In addition to my digital detox, about which I wrote recently, for the past week, I have been going through my own version of a spring detox. I try to follow an Ayurvedic detox framework, so no strict juice cleanses for me! Instead, I design my own program that works for me at this time. I will reveal my main reason for undergoing this detox: My goal is to bring my adrenals and hormones into a healthier balance. I am a very private person and my health is usually not a subject that I discuss openly in this manner. However, the reason I am sharing my story is because I believe many women in our society are dealing with similar issues.
Prior to my detox, I was dependant on caffeine to allow me to get through the day. I didn’t get enough sleep at night, then had to deal with fatigue and cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. I felt sluggish and tired all the time. I kept borrowing my energy from caffeine, sugar and carbs, but then ended up dealing with terrible PMS symptoms every month. I got plenty of exercise every morning, but my eating habits needed some tweaking.
On my detox plan, I have not been eating meat or dairy (I already follow a mostly plant-based diet, for health reasons, so I don’t miss meat, seafood and dairy at all), sugar, and caffeine. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to quickly become dependent on sugar and caffeine. I recently discovered that I do function best by abstaining from those substances altogether, instead of trying to moderate my consumption. So, I thought that the detox would be the best time to test that theory. My first four days without coffee were challenging, because I had a dull withdrawal headache through the entire day. However, I noticed that at that time, I did not miss the taste of coffee, nor did I crave chocolate as I normally do. I did have a small piece of my sister-in-law’s birthday cake on the second day of the detox. Birthday cake is considered to be an almost sacred ritual and we all know we have to have at least a small slice. Right? I still have to figure out how to navigate the birthday cake etiquette in the future. If you have any tips, I’d love to read them.
Now, on Day 7 of my detox, I am feeling fantastic. I have been making a commitment to be in bed before 9 p.m. every night in order to get my eight hours of sleep. I no longer miss sugar or caffeine, though I miss the idea of drinking coffee as a social ritual and I sometimes miss the idea of crème brûlée , my favourite dessert. My energy has been soaring. I have been enjoying this new routine so much that I intend keep it for as long as possible. Thankfully, because my diet was already relatively ‘clean’ prior to starting the detox, I didn’t have to change too many of my eating habits. The way I eat now is the way I used to eat before, without heeding to unhealthy cravings. If you want to learn more about my detox, let me know and I will dedicate a new post to it.
When In Doubt, Go Outside!
Now that the days are warmer in Ontario, we have been trying to spend as much time outside as possible. This is the perfect time of year to ground ourselves and reconnect to the Earth by going out for walks, sitting near trees (tree hugging works wonders), and maybe even spreading a picnic blanket and eating lunch outside on the lawn. Last weekend, we did some horseback riding, thanks to my sister-in-law and her beautiful horse, Wave.
Pawel spent half a day doing some volunteer work by planting trees at a local conservation area. After-dinner walks are also a welcome ritual to which we have been returning. So, go outside, reconnect and recharge!
I’ll stop here. If you would like to learn more about my detox or if you have any other comments, please leave them below. Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!
The weather chez nous has been typical for April in Ontario: plenty of rain, but with a promise of sunshine and warmth to come in just a few days. Of course, that means that tulips and daffodils will soon start showing off their glorious colours. The cheerful golden and violet crocuses are already in full bloom outside the home of my in-laws.
The crocuses are blooming!
Seven years ago, during the first spring season in our new home, I spent countless hours every day after work in our garden, planting seeds of wildflower that, come July and early August, decorated our backyard. Unfortunately, my wait for the blossoms the following year was unfruitful. Squirrels snatched the bulbs away, stashing them in their cozy hideaways in anticipation of the long winter. I didn’t do much gardening that following year, since I had more pressings needs – those of my new baby – to tend to. However, we did plant tomatoes, onions and rhubarb that year.
We plant a small vegetable garden every spring, but in the recent years, a temporary tenant groundhog chose our backyard as its new home. Our vegetable garden looked and smelled delicious. Overnight, the hungry groundhog munched all our zucchini and tomatoes, leaving us with nothing. I suspect that the wild rabbits living around our property might also have had a small bite to eat. I hope the groundhog shared a morsel with the bunnies! We learned our lesson. Last year, we built a wooden frame with a stretched net to protect our garden from rodents. Climbing over the net to tend to the garden bed has been an acrobatic challenge (thank goodness for yoga)!
One of the hungry rascals!
Zucchini and tomatoes are a staple in our vegetable garden. Last year, we also planted kale, which was delicious and provided us with several large fresh salads throughout the summer.
The weather might still be a bit on the chilly side, but I have been feeling ready to shed some stagnant winter energy and shake things up a bit. So, I have been changing my diet, still enjoying hot tea and lighter soups, but also eating fresh, raw food. A friend introduced me a few years ago to a raw Pad Thai dish. Since then, the popularity of this dish in the plant-based/raw community has exploded. There are so many versatile recipes for it on Pinterest! I keep changing the way I prepare it each time, but here is this week’s delicious version:
Raw Pad Thai à la Dharma Wanderlust
2 small-medium zucchini, shredded thinly using a mandolin peeler
2 medium carrots, thinly shredded
2 cups shredded red cabbage
2 cups broccoli florets, chopped into bite-size pieces
Ingredients for the dressing:
2 tbsp tahini
½ lemon, juiced
2 tbsp hot boiled water
2 tbsp tamari sauce
3 garlic cloves, crushed
finely grated ginger (to taste)
Shred all the vegetables and stir them together in a large bowl.
For the dressing, in a small bowl, stir together the tahini, water, lemon juice, tamari and crushed garlic.
Stir everything well and leave overnight. The vegetables will absorb the beautiful flavours of the dressing!
Feel free to play with the combinations of vegetables. The spiralized zucchini is a staple in this dish, as it’s meant to resemble traditional Pad Thai noodles. I would also keep the carrots. As for the rest, experiment with your favourite vegetables! I like to add thinly sliced sweet peppers and toss some green onions and organic edamame beans into the mix. It’s almost asparagus and fiddlehead season here, and those would be great in this dish, though I prefer to eat asparagus and fiddleheads steamed and/or grilled.
For the dressing, feel free to use peanut butter or almond butter in lieu of the tahini. I usually add cilantro to the dressing, but I simply didn’t have any on hand this time. If you like peanuts, crush a few roasted peanuts and crumble them on top of the dish right before serving.
Some people like to consume this dish immediately after removing it from the refrigerator. Personally, when it comes to raw food, I prefer to consume it at room temperature (as a Vata girl, it’s just so much better for my belly), so I allow it to sit on the counter for a few hours before eating it.
Enjoy! Leave a comment to let me know what you think of this recipe. Also, I would be curious to know whether you plan a flower and/or vegetable garden every year. What are your favourite vegetables to plant and/or eat in the spring?
I promised to teach you to knit. So, allow me to begin by sharing our first instructional knitting video in a series of three. In this week’s video, I provide you with a quick tip for choosing the perfect yarn for your first project, show you my favourite cast-on method and teach you the basic knit stitch using the Continental method of knitting. If you have any questions, please do leave a comment below.
In the second video, to be released on Oct. 17th, I will show you the purl stitch, the lovely sister of the knit stitch. In the first video of the series, to be released on Oct. 24th, I will show you a few variations with the knit and purl stitches, to allow you to play and practice, and teach you how to cast off your first project. To be the first to receive an update in your email inbox as soon as the video is released, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Over the past weekend, unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to spend much time on my knitting projects. That was the case for a couple of reasons: (1) Thanksgiving dinner and (2) preparing for an upcoming craft show.
We hosted Thanksgiving this year. Usually, Pawel’s parents host the dinner at their home, but I decided to take on the pleasure this year. I realized this weekend that it was a good decision, as our younger child was feeling under the weather and we wanted to stay close to home, instead of having to drive for 45 minutes there and back.
In any case, our family in Canada is small, and since my parents had a prior commitment and my sister celebrated Thanksgiving with her partner’s family, it was just the four of us, Pawel’s parents, and Pawel’s sister.
We had a lovely dinner for seven people, if I do say so myself. 😉 Here are the photos of the dishes I prepared:
Butternut squash, pumpkin and cranberry soup. The cranberries were an intuitive last-minute addition to the soup and I must say, the tart fresh cranberries mingled well with the sweet taste of the pumpkin and squash.
Field greens salad with apples and fennel, with a dressing that I whipped up intuitively. The secret ingredient was raw honey.
Roasted harvest vegetables.
Roasted brussel sprouts. These are a favourite of mine and I could eat them as a snack anyday! If you have never tried roasting brussel sprouts, simply toss washed and halved brussel sprouts (with the core trimmed and the outer leaves removed) with EVOO or coconut oil and sea salt. Spread them evenly on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 400F, turning them once after the first 15 minutes. If you are a fan of kale chips, you will probably like this dish.
Slow-cooked lamb roast with cranberry sauce on the side. My mother-in-law always prepares turkey for Thanksgiving, and although we love it, I wasn’t in the mood for turkey this year. Lamb is a big favourite of ours and the cranberry sauce paired beautifully with it.
And of course, apple and cranberry pie for dessert. Although I love pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, and make great pumpkin spice muffins, I have never enjoyed pumpkin pie. It’s just not my favourite. Instead, we go for apples and cranberries in this delicate flaky pastry.
You may be wondering about whether I followed my usual Ayurvedic eating and food combination rules with this meal. The answer is no, because I do believe that it’s okay to venture off our usual path every once in a while. Instead, I focused on cooking and baking with love and chose the best ingredients while allowing my intuition to guide me to play with a few flavour combinations. The result was a good one for our taste buds and for our bellies.
And now, we’re back to preparing for the Made by Hand Show, to be held next weekend in Mississauga. We will showcase several items that have never been featured on our website.
I have tried to be the perfect modern yogi, trying to grow my hair, wearing Birkenstocks (I do like them, but they aren’t the most flattering or dressy shoes, in my opinion), and sticking to a Paleo diet. Somewhere along the line, within the past 16 years of my yoga practice, I had absorbed the idea that to be a good yogi, I needed to fit the perfect Instagram image of a yoga girl and that to inspire others, I needed to live up to a certain lifestyle stereotype.
Over tea with a dear friend this afternoon, I confessed this to her, adding, “Really, I love drinking lattes with real dairy milk, not almond milk or soy milk lattes. I love eating dessert with real sugar from time to time and I don’t want to give up my favourite crème brûlée. I sometimes eat too much chocolate.” Deep breath. Let it out. Phew.
My friend was not in the least surprised. “Of course,” she said, “you’re a European girl.”
I’m curious to know about the lifestyle of European yogis, though I have heard that the health craze is not as strict in Europe as it is in North America. I have never been to a studio in Europe — it’s been six years since I last traveled to Europe — but I’m curious. I love real coffee and dessert. I had given it up for a short while, just as I attempted to give up gluten. I also gave up dairy for a while. Yet, I soon realized that my approach to healthy diet and exercise was an ‘all or nothing’ approach that stemmed not from within, from the desire to feel better in my body. Instead, it stemmed from the ubiquitous stigma that certain foods are ‘clean and good’ and others are ‘bad for us.’ Because of this, if I allowed myself to slip and eat a sweet pastry one day, the following day all my diet rules would go right out the window.
Ayurveda has been the perfect approach for me and I learned how to eat best for my constitution, how to best honour my body, when to eat my most substantial meals (breakfast and lunch) and how to eat a light dinner, as well as which food combinations to avoid. Nevertheless, though I know that it’s never a good idea to mix two different types of protein, I still love St. Julien cheese with its beautiful walnuts in the creamy centre. I eat that particular cheese probably once a year (also because it’s not cheap), but I enjoy it to the maximum. Nowadays, I’m trying to take a more balanced approach to nutrition, eating healthy foods 90 per cent of the time and allowing myself treats on occasion. I eat a bit of dark chocolate every afternoon while taking a short siesta, but I allow myself dessert with real sugar (gasp) once a week. Sometimes, I even drink a bit of wine. I don’t drink green juices and smoothies in the colder months and only enjoy them in the summer. I don’t use protein powder because I’m wary of anything over-processed, and that includes what the health world considers to be good for us. I make my own diet rules. I eat real food, made with real ingredients. I use olive oil, coconut oil, ghee and yes, butter. I eat real bread from time to time, slathered with organic peanut butter. Some mornings, when I want to take a break from my usual steel-cut oats, toasted bread with peanut butter is the best complement to a latte made with organic 2% milk (there’s the dairy and nut protein combo again).
I do take Ashwaganda and a few other supplements that could be featured in an article or video titled Sh*t Crunchy Girls Say. Yes, I do some crunchy things and eat typical ‘yogi’ foods. I do enjoy Ezekiel sprouted grains bread and happen to go crazy for a splash of almond milk in tea or when it’s used as a base for smoothies in the summer.
The bottom line is that I will continue to make my own rules, listen to my body and its needs every day, and choose wisely… Most of the time. I will continue to fine-tune the way I eat and my approach to nutrition. I believe most of us need to continue to make small changes to our diet and the way we eat, in general.
Now, here’s a truly healthy simple, vegan (unless you do choose to add the chicken breast mentioned at the end), gluten- and dairy-free, and (I think) guilt-free recipe that I’d like to share with you…
I love roasted root vegetables for their sweet taste and grounding effect. For the Vata season, roasted vegetables are my go-to recipe.
Aren’t beets absolutely gorgeous? I’m in awe of their stunning colour.
2 sweet potatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1 onion, sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Coarsely chop the sweet potatoes, beets and peppers and place in a baking pan. Pour the melted oil over the vegetables, sprinkle with the sea salt and oregano, and stir. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
3. At medium-high heat, stirring constantly, toast the pumpkin seeds. Remove and set aside to cool. TIP: The seeds will continue to toast if they remain in the hot pan, so it’s best to pour the seeds out into a separate bowl.
4. Using a small amount of coconut oil, toss the onions at medium-high heat until they are soft and golden-brown in colour.
5. To plate, serve the roasted vegetables with the onions and seeds on top.
If you prefer meat to plant-based protein, omit the seeds and place grilled chicken breast pieces on top of the vegetables.
The result is delicious and satisfying.
Enjoy, and let us know what you think!
We are curious to know about your approach to healthy nutrition, so leave us a comment with your opinions.
Last week, someone whom I see from time to time asked me that ubiquitous question and after throwing my auto-pilot answer back at her in a raspy voice, making some small talk and then walking away, I realized that no, I did not feel ‘great.’ Someone told me many years ago that if we always answer that question with a big smile, we might be able to fool even ourselves into feeling as wonderful as we say we feel. All those years, I carried that belief with me, subconsciously. But last week, I realized that I wasn’t fooling anyone. I should also note that, as an INFP, I couldn’t say that I’m a fan of making small talk. Could that be the real reason behind the auto-pilot answer I continued to give?
I was dealing with yet another cold, which later turned into laryngitis. I barricaded myself as best as I could inside my house and only went out to drop off and pick up my children at school. Amidst the misery of a runny nose, sore throat and a disgusting cough, I realized something: when I didn’t need to struggle to raise my voice to make myself heard through the noise of the boys throwing toys around or having an argument, I was enjoying being a hermit. Again, I could dump this one on my MBTI, or perhaps I just felt exhausted. I’m extremely thankful to two wonderful ladies who were able to sub for the classes that I was supposed to teach last week.
To be honest, isolating myself from the world proved to be useful as I had some extra time, in-between cooking, cleaning and looking after my family (moms can never truly take a sick day), to knit on the couch.
I chose to ignore the mess around me. To give you an idea of what it looked like, I’ll share this photo of just a fraction of my living room:
I’ve come to praise myself on my admirable barefoot agility around Lego on the floor.
Last week, I finished knitting booties for my boys, which they will receive for Christmas. I also finished my moms’ birthday gift, the pictures of which I will post in a few weeks, after I present it to her. And lastly, I decided to take on a quick project for myself. After all, I was feeling under the weather and needed some cheering up.
I used beautiful kettle-dyed Peruvian wool from my stash to whip up these boot cuffs, and now, I’m looking forward once again to the return of the cooler weather.
Speaking of weather, Toronto has been basking in the return of the summer, but with warm golden foliage. I finally felt well enough on Sunday to get out with my family to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Indian Summer. I have always loved that name for this particular time of autumn. In Russian, it’s known as Butterfly Summer. I haven’t spotted very many butterflies over the past week, but I have seen many dragonflies, including this busy lady hovering above the pond in the backyard of my parents-in-law.
Do you see it, right in the middle of the photo above? It was zooming around and wouldn’t stop to rest and take a breather, or pose for a photo.
Who said it’s the spring season that makes people walk a bit faster, with renewed enthusiasm? In the warm golden days of late September, everyone is preparing the harvest for the inevitable colder days… Just ask the raccoon neighbour that was recently evicted from our shed, where it laid out a cozy — and smelly — home for itself, right above our garbage and recycling bins.
Do you see how many acorns that busy squirrel is carrying in its mouth? Isn’t it amazing how nature adapts to the changes all around? Even squirrels, with their Vata energy, take naps from time to time, as I have seen one squirrel do recently in our backyard. I’ll take that as a sign that it’s more than okay for us to make time to rest during this busy season, in-between tending to our turf.
We need to ground and enjoy our mini-vacations, even if they last 10 minutes before someone comes calling, “Mommy, can I have a snack?”
How do we find the right balance between the buzz and high-energy of the everyday life and the need to get back to our roots, recharge and just be? I will continue to play hermit from time to time, hopefully as a way of preventing another cold before it sneaks up on me.
I read this wonderful poem by Robert Whyte the other day. He posted it on his Facebook page and I have copied and pasted it here. The wonders of technology!
is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is not stasis but the essence of giving and receiving. Rest is an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually, but also physiologically and physically. To rest is to become present in a different way than through action, and especially to give up on the will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals. To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we put it right; to rest is to fall back, literally or figuratively from outer targets, not even to a sense of inner accomplishment or an imagined state of attained stillness, but to a different kind of meeting place, a living, breathing state of natural exchange…
Reading the poem again, I feel traces of guilt, due to taking too much down time, start to melt away. So, I give you permission to do the same. Rest, recharge, and allow yourself the space to show up as you are.
Thoughts? Tips? Words of wisdom? Share them with me in a comment!
Now that we are mostly feeling better, we have been going outside every day to enjoy the changing landscape and enjoy the crisp chill in the air. Apple-picking is a favourite fall activity for our family. The boys always get a thrill out of running through the orchard and choosing the juiciest apples they can find. So, on Sunday, we dressed warmly and headed to our favourite organic orchard to pick apples.
Upon returning home with our delicious bounty, I was filled with inspiration to get in the kitchen and cook something seasonal and heart-warming. More on that below.
In Ayurveda, the fall season is governed by Vata, which is composed of ether and air. It’s no surprise that for many of us, this season also signifies the start of the cold virus. The lazy, lingering summer days are rarely strictly structured, keeping us up late at night and encouraging us to take cat naps in the hot and hazy afternoons. The following fall season signifies a complete change in energy. Suddenly, everything moves faster as we try to get back to our regular routine, sometimes anxiously struggling to keep up. This sudden change in routine can be incredibly stressful for the body and the mind.
As someone with a dominant Vata dosha and a bit of Pitta, I love the fall season for the relief it provides from the humid and hot summer days. However, I get cold very quickly and when it seems to me like most people around me are walking around in September with short-sleeved t-shirts on, I can be seen wearing a cozy sweater. I no longer feel self-conscious about this. I do what I need to do to take care of myself.
What else do I do to take care of myself, following the lessons of Ayurveda for the Vata season? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ll share with you what I do, and please feel free to borrow these ideas for your own self-care, particularly if your constitution is mostly Vata.
I go to sleep between 9 and 10 p.m. every night and wake up at 5 a.m. This ensures that I get 7-8 hours of sleep on most nights. In the morning, after oil pulling and brushing my teeth, I drink a tall glass of warm water with fresh lemon juice and then exercise for an hour (yoga, cardio, pilates, or weights). After I shower, I do an oil massage before sitting down to have breakfast.
I eat at approximately the same times every day: breakfast at 7:30 a.m.; lunch at 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.; dinner at 5-5:30 p.m. I consume a lot of healthy oils (avocado, coconut oil, EVOO) and hot, unctuous, mostly liquid foods such as steel-cut oats with cooked apples and cinnamon, soup, vegetable stews, etc. I still eat my greens (kale and spinach are great), but I either sprinkle the leaves on a hot bowl of stew/soup or consume a salad massaged with a lot of oil (see above) immediately prior to eating my soup/stew. I eat cooked/roasted root vegetables with — again — lots of oil. Why is oil consumption so important? The air and ether qualities of Vata mean that during this season, we have a tendency to feel dryness. We need the moisture, both on the surface of the skin and on the inside of the body.
If you, like I do, eat meat occasionally, I would suggest eating salad (at room temperature), followed by lean meat at lunchtime. Our digestion is strongest from 10 a.m. to 1-2 p.m. As such, my substantial meals are breakfast and lunch. Dinner for me is small and simple. Usually, I will have a bowl of soup with a toast of sprouted grains topped with avocado and sea salt. Eating dinner before the sun sets is also ideal, because our digestive system slows down after sundown. Of course, since the sun starts to set earlier these days, it’s best to try to eat dinner at around 5 p.m., if possible.
Interested in additional information on self-care during this season? I love this website and use it frequently as a great resource.
So, to summarize, this is a time to sloooooow down and get grounded, luxuriate under warm blankets, eat grounding food with healthy oil, and get plenty of rest. What about exercise? That, too, should be more grounding at this time. Long walks are excellent, as is a yoga practice with slow, deliberate Vinyasa and standing/balance postures held for a few long breaths. Restorative yoga is excellent right now.
A couple of years ago, shortly after our younger son was born, I felt I needed to get outside and move, but I also craved rest and relaxation to get me through the long days of taking care of our two children. And no, that pattern has not changed. Here is a video I made during that time, a how-to of one of my favourite restorative yoga postures, Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose):
Feel free to use a few blankets and cushions in lieu of the bolsters and blocks, if you do not have those at home. Relax and breathe in the pose for about 10-15 minutes.
So, back to the weekend… Here is what I cooked using butternut squash and the beautiful apples we picked on Sunday:
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND APPLE SOUP
We started with a few basic ingredients:
Then, we chopped the onion and sauteed it with ghee while continuing with the preparation of our apples and butternut squash…
We reserved the butternut squash seeds and roasted them later on a baking sheet at 300F for about 30 minutes. I didn’t add any oil or sea salt to the seeds this time, but that’s a great option, if it’s the way you like your pumpkin/squash seeds.
Cook the squash and onions in a large soup pot, and then add the apples, a teaspoon of sea salt, and a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ground turmeric.
Add enough distilled water to cover the chopped squash and apple, and then top with another 3-4 inches of water. You can use vegetable stock in lieu of the water.
Bring the soup to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to simmer for about 30 minutes or until the squash is completely tender. Allow to cool a bit before using a blender to create a smooth consistency:
Yes, our soup was steaming hot while we blended it, simply because we were hungry and our children kept asking when dinner was going to be served. I would highly recommend allowing the soup to cool before blending it.
To serve, we sprinkled the soup with cinnamon, but those roasted seeds were also great. We garnished the soup with the seeds for dinner the following day.
1 tbsp ghee (coconut oil or butter can also be used)
1 medium-sized white or yellow onion
1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped, with the seeds reserved for roasting
2 apples (choose firm, tart apples that will hold well together during the cooking process)
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Enough water to cover the chopped squash and apples, plus 3-4 inches on top. An alternative is to add vegetable stock.
Enjoy, and let us know what you think!
Our final update is regarding our latest product finishes. We are preparing for the Made by Hand Show and creating new, unique, interesting pendants for you.
Knitting-inspired pendant, made of Purpleheart wood and crushed shell inlay.
SUP-inspired pendant, made of Red Amboyna Burl, with turquoise inlay.
We do like insects! Praying mantis pendant, made of Purpleheart wood with crushed shell inlay.
As always, please leave a comment to let us know what you think of our new products, this week’s recipe, yoga pose, or about whether you enjoy the fall season as much as we do. If you did take the Dosha quiz (link above), let us know what your Dosha is and how you cope with weather changes.
Smoothies have become my comfort food. They soothe my hunger pangs and the shaky nerves that can come with the big BACK TO SCHOOL day.
My older boy, D, started his first day of senior kindergarten today. We both stood in front of the school, he behind the gate and I in front of it with my younger boy, A. Both D and I struggled to put on a brave face and smile through the anxiety. I’m confident that once he walked into the building, the anxiety did start to thaw as he was reunited with his friends.
As for me, my distraction came from A, who happily skipped along on our way home to play and prepare dinner… And yes, prepare smoothies! Oh, how glad I am that my children love smoothies! Healthy nutrition is one of my top priorities as a parent, and working with kids’ particular palates, it’s not always simple to get that healthy and nutritious food into their bellies without a power struggle of some kind. Enter smoothies.
Ayurveda is my healthy living guide, and it dictates that fruit should always be consumed separately. However, I love to use fruit as a natural sweetener in smoothies. In addition, I never, ever combine fruit with dairy (I rarely consume dairy, in fact) and any other animal protein. I feel it’s important to state these guidelines before venturing into today’s recipe. As a woman with a primary Vata dosha, too much fruit and improper food combinations can quickly give me an upset stomach. I try to adhere to these Ayurvedic guidelines with the food combinations in meals I prepare for myself and my family. Another extremely important tip is to use room-temperature ingredients. Ice-cold drinks can weaken agni, the digestive fire, interfering with healthy digestion.
Without further ado, here is what I used in my belly-friendly green smoothie today:
– about a cup of vanilla-flavoured unsweetened almond milk
– one ripe chopped banana
– one large ripe mango
– a bowl full of baby spinach
– a small bit of grated ginger (I freeze the ginger root to make it easier to grate), to taste
Simply add all the ingredients into the blender in the order listed above, and blend to a smooth consistency.
The result is delicious and kid-approved.
Feel free to follow the above guidelines to custom-craft your own smoothie. For the liquid, in lieu of the almond milk, other good choices are organic soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk, or even distilled water. I recommend using a ripe avocado, pear, or banana, in addition to another ripe fruit of your choice. As for the greens, baby spinach or kale are the traditional options with which most people are familiar. However, collard greens or even beet greens are also excellent. If you are not accustomed to the taste of greens in your smoothie, feel free to start with smaller handfuls of greens and gradually train your taste buds to (hopefully) enjoy them. The fruit is not enough to tempt your sweet tooth? Feel free to sweeten the smoothie with a few pitted dates or maple syrup until your taste buds become accustomed to the sweetness of the ripe fresh fruit.
In the mood for CHOCOLATE? We have the perfect chocolate banana protein smoothie for you, and we even have a vlog to guide you along!
All you need are a few simple ingredients:
– almond milk (or your choice of milk)
– a ripe banana (we couldn’t get our hands on a ripe enough banana for the above video, so we apologize for any confusion)
– approx. 3/4 cup frozen berries (your choice)
– tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
– tbsp unsweetened nut butter
– a dash of cinnamon
– a few dates or a bit of maple syrup (completely optional)
Watch the video for additional information! Blend and enjoy!
Are you a parent whose children are heading back to school today? Feel free to share your tips on dealing with nerves/anxiety, as well as about healthy nutrition throughout the school year. Curious about other healthy living tips and recipes? Leave a comment and let us know what you would like to see next on this blog!