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?
Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!
Photo courtesy of https://unsplash.com/
On a Monday evening, I arrived at home from work and, after changing into my pajamas, was about to head downstairs to start preparing dinner. First, however, I thought I would check my email. In my email inbox were 20 new ads from various retailers, quietly shouting at me about their latest promotions. Since I was already at my computer and remembered that I was expecting a reply from a friend via a private message on Facebook, I opened a new tab in my browser only to see that not one private message but 50 notifications were awaiting my attention. Fifty?! I shut the lid of my laptop and took a deep breath, exhaling to release the feelings of overwhelm.
When I returned to my social media accounts later, I took a proverbial step back to look at what, exactly, was taking up space on my feed. Pictures of food. News about a celebrity who deliberately tried to embarrass herself in public. Articles about why a Paleo diet is the best thing we can embrace. Articles about why sugar is terrible for us. Articles about loving ourselves as we are today. Articles about why too much meat is unhealthy; about why certain types of fat are good; about why a juice cleanse is not for everyone. Articles about free-range parenting, a controversial topic that sparks angry debates. Memes about breastfeeding in public, shaming the opponents. Articles about why the yoga selfie phenomenon has gotten old. Articles about why the yoga selfie trend is inspiring.
That is the information of which I made note within the five minutes I allotted myself for checking social media before sitting down to work on my writing. I did not click on any of the above articles, nor did I comment or click ‘like’ on any of the pictures and status updates I saw. Yet, I was feeling – frankly – exhausted after merely skimming through all the information. Enough.
When I told Pawel I was thinking about taking a long break from Facebook, he asked me why it bothers me as much as it does. I know I tend to engage deeply with a lot of information, and I am the first to admit that after reading several articles with conflicting information, I feel the need to take a long nap. This social media exhaustion, as I have come to term it, can take a toll on my energy level.
I realize, also, how counterintuitive this may sound to those of you who may have found this blog post through one of our social media outlets. Pawel and I appreciate each reader of this blog. For that reason, if you wish, I invite you to subscribe to receive the updates from this blog in your email inbox once a week (sometimes twice).
I am making space, simplifying my life, directing my energy where it is truly needed most. I am stepping back and choosing to create less noise. I am choosing to ignore the noise. This is part of my practice of mindfulness in the age of social media.
We will continue to log in to update our Instagram, Twitter, tsu, Pinterest and Facebook account once a week to share our blog with you. Pawel will continue to manage our accounts at this time. And of course, we always enjoy connecting with you. Please feel free to leave a comment or email us directly through our website.
In the meantime, here’s a spring-themed recipe for a raw plant-based lemon tart that we whipped up last weekend within about 25 minutes. The original recipe is from Wholefood Simply, which is one of our favourite blogs. However, I modified it slightly and below is my version of the tart. Enjoy!
Raw Plant-Based Lemon Tart
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
½ cup walnuts
9 pitted dates
1-2 tbsp coconut cream (from full-fat canned coconut milk that has been refrigerated for at least eight hours)
A pinch of salt
½ tsp natural vanilla extract
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup walnuts
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
Zest and juice from 2 lemons
¼ cup maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut cream (see above)
Pinch of salt
- Place all the ingredients for the crust in a food processor and pulse for about 2 minutes, until the ingredients start to come together, forming a ball.
- With your hands lightly moistened, press the crust into a greased non-stick tart form.
- Place all the ingredients for the filling in the food processor and pulse until creamy and well-integrated.
- Fill the crust, using a spatula to spread the contents evenly.
- Decorate with thin lemon slices, if you wish.
- Place in the fridge for a few hours to allow the tart to set. You may also overwrap the tart with foil and plastic wrap and freeze it, if desired.
We needed to take some time to adjust to a new change in our household. After a blogging hiatus, we’re back and ready to share more of our adventures and ideas with you. To our loyal readers, thank you for your continuing support. And if you’re new to our site, welcome! We hope you will enjoy its content and will share it with your friends.
My older son and I were sitting at a local coffee and doughnut shop yesterday in the evening after dinner, enjoying a mini escape from the house, a mom-and-son date. While I waited for my mint tea to chill, I watched my son and answered his questions about the various signs he kept noticing in the small shop, advertising sandwich combos, a new roast, and free WiFi (“What is WiFi, Mommy?”). He was sipping his hot chocolate, slowly at first, until he started to take bigger slurps and finally finished it before reaching for his double chocolate doughnut. Like me, my son has a sweet tooth. I have often wondered whether in our family, we all have a sweet tooth gene that continues to be passed on from generation to generation. When I started to introduce my son to ‘real’ foods as a baby, I offered him pureed beans alongside pureed yams. Guess which one he relished, seated in his high chair with a smile full of sweet-tasting orange-coloured happiness. The other vegetable was promptly spat out, as soon as the BPA-free teaspoon touched his lips.
As a student of Mindfulness, I have a profound interest in how we can utilize Mindfulness practices to change negative habits into lasting positive ones. Particularly, I have been applying the practice to my personal eating patterns by observing my emotions and thoughts during stressful/challenging times, noticing the foods I crave during those times: anything made with sugar.
I am also a fan of Gretchen Rubin’s work, the author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. Her new book, Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, to be released on March 17th, explores the science behind habit-forming behaviour. Visiting Rubin’s website, I came across this quiz and as I read the post, I had to pause to listen to the ‘ding ding ding’ sound coming closer toward me from a distance.
It turns out that some people are natural moderators while others are abstainers. As much as I don’t enjoy labels, what this means is that for some people, like me, it’s easier to give up sugar cold-turkey and after struggling through the initial 14 days or so, to abstain from sugar altogether. Others more easily take the approach that ‘life is too short to miss out on treats,’ and are able to stop eating dessert after the first two bites. Rubin mentions yet another fascinating fact, that moderators often try – unsuccessfully – to turn into abstainers, and abstainers – again, unsuccessfully – attempt to become moderators.
This information provides a different perspective for my practice. It also leads me to wonder whether, perhaps, Mindfulness practices that relate to food consumption come more easily to people who are naturally better at moderating. On the other hand, a daily seated or walking mindfulness meditation practice might come more easily to a person who takes the ‘all or nothing’ attitude. I would assume that people who are able to effectively abstain from consuming certain foods would also be naturally better than others at repeating the same behaviour every day. I might be wrong, but to learn more, I will just have to read Rubin’s new book and continue practising.
What are your thoughts? Would you say you tend to choose the ‘all or nothing’ or the ‘you only live once, so let’s enjoy the treat’ approach? Please feel free to comment.
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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.
We have new inlaid pendants for you.
Come see us on Oct. 18th and 19th at booth 110.
Wishing you a great week!
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.
Until next time,
Does it not feel as though this year is just zooming right past us? Here we are, in October, and just this evening, as I was putting my summer clothes away for the colder months, I realized how quickly the seasons appear to be transitioning this year. Thankfully, Pawel and I were able to make the most of the summer months, starting with backyard barbecue dinners in early May, camping during the last weekend in May, and many other interesting daytrips and getaways all through until the end of August. And although the month of October is my favourite month of the fall season, I know that it, too, will make a swift grand exit. Hey, at least we’ll get to say goodbye while dressed in costume!
Since this is one of my favourite months of the year, I am determined to make the most of it. I will continue to explore all the luxuries of this beautiful golden month; I will continue to create; and I will seek to be inspired every day in order to inspire others. It feels as though this year has been a roller coaster ride for many, and we all deal with challenges. Yet, I want to make life sweeter. Every day. Who’s coming with me?
To go along with the above theme, I will share with you a recipe for a fantastic sweet and heart-warming soup. I first experimented with this soup two winters ago and its simple and delicious flavour brought me home to comfort.
Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup
2 medium-large sweet potatoes or yams
1 tbsp butter or ghee (to make the soup vegan, you may use EVOO or coconut oil)
1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium carrots, chopped
7 cups vegetable stock or water
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1. Wash and bake the sweet potatoes for about an hour at 350F (preheated oven). Using a fork, pierce the potatoes to ensure that they are soft enough. Allow the sweet potatoes to cool before peeling them and chopping into 1-inch cubes.
2. In a heavy-bottom cooking pot, melt the butter / ghee / oil on medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic and cook for a few minutes on medium heat, until golden and soft.
3. Add the chopped sweet potato and carrots to the pot and continue cooking for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Stir in the salt, turmeric, bay leaves, and cinnamon (if using). Continue cooking for another minute, stirring constantly.
5. Add the vegetable stock or water and bring to a boil. Then, cover the pot and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.
6. Allow the soup to cool. Then, discard the bay leaves, and puree in batches in a standing blender or use an immersion blender. The consistency should be completely smooth.
7. Serve and enjoy!
I served this soup for lunch last week with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds. On the side are two mini pitas with avocado and sea salt on top, with baby spinach, homemade sour cabbage and carrot slaw, and a drizzle of EVOO.
Come visit us!
Pawel and I are thrilled to have a booth at the Fall Made by Hand Show on October 18th and 19th at the International Centre, Mississauga. We will showcase our wooden jewellery, wine bottle stoppers, and belt buckles.
If you are in the Toronto area, visit this wonderful show to purchase unique handmade products. It’s a great opportunity to start your Christmas shopping early. We will be at booth 110 and look forward to meeting many of our clients there.
Best wishes for a colourful and sweet first week of October,
It all started with a creative writing exercise during which I was asked to write a vignette about my hair. Sitting at my sewing machine table that doubles as a writing desk, I smiled to myself as I typed the first words of my personal hair story. Here was a Pandora’s box, opened wide. At the time of writing the story, I was determined to let my hair grow. I wasn’t going to touch it until mid-December, when I was planning to return to a salon for a simple trim that would keep me looking presentable and avoid the awkward in-between stage that is inevitable with the growing out of hair. For a reminder of how my hair looked a week ago, refer back to last week’s post.
My hair and I have been the best of friends and we have been sworn enemies. A few times, I painstakingly grew my hair long only to get bored with it, walk into a salon and confidently say to a stunned hairstylist standing behind me and facing me in the mirror, “Just chop it off!” Okay, maybe my words weren’t as bold. Instead, I would sigh and say, demurely, “I think I want to go short again.” It feels liberating to have the old hair drift onto the sleek hardwood floor. There is something akin to a feeling of true pleasure as I would take a deep breath, look at my reflection in the mirror and realize how fantastic my hair looks. After each dramatic transformation, it looked — and felt — like a different person was gazing back at me. I would walk out of the salon, standing a bit taller, and catch myself constantly bringing my hand up to my freshly cut hair to play with my new short style.
The last time my hair was long, in September 2011. This photo was taken in San Francisco.
And then, I would get bored with it. Suddenly, everywhere around me were images of gorgeous women with luscious long locks. Long hair envy. That’s what it is. Likewise, after years of growing my hair, I would get that old familiar pang upon seeing a pretty gamine pixie cut on someone who looks perfectly chic. I would turn to the person next to me (usually Pawel) and say, “Oh, I really want to get my hair cut short again.”
This is what my hair looked like on most days, as I would wear it tied back in a bun. Nothing to write home about.
And one more photo from that SF trip, just because I’m feeling nostalgic. See what I mean? Boring, pulled-back hair.
Each journey to growing my hair has been long and arduous, taking years. My first short haircut, in 2004, was inspired by Meg Ryan’s hair in You’ve Got Mail. In 2008, I decided to get a chin-length cut on a whim. Unfortunately, I went to a terrible new salon and the hairstylist was a bit over-enthusiastic when I told her I’m comfortable with having my hair cut short, so I ended up with a shorter style than I had expected to see. Nevertheless, I loved it. And in 2011, I did it again with an inverted bob, donating 10 inches of my hair to be made into a wig. Since then, I have been attempting to grow it, only to get bored with it once my hair reached a shoulder-length bob style.
Long hair is easy to hide on a bad day when we don’t have much time to style it. On most days, I would wear my hair in a ponytail or wrapped in a bun. Short hair is practically impossible to hide, especially on a humid summer day when I leave the yoga studio following a sweaty class looking every bit like a mad scientist, with curls sticking out in every direction. And yet, short hair is easier to style and looks fabulous with a great cut. So, what to choose? That was my embarrassing inner dialogue, and yes, I will confess — blushing all the while — to thinking about my hair too frequently, obsessively.
So, I decided to step into my grown-up shoes and make a decision about my in-between hair. I called the salon and booked an appointment.
Et voila! The result is a pixie cut that I personally am very happy with.
So, I will keep my hair short for the next while and enjoy it to a hilt (an expression that I will shamelessly confess to have adopted from Audrey Hepburn). Thankfully, Pawel has gotten accustomed to my hair antics and is no longer shocked by my inch-long hair. At the end of the day, it’s just hair and I love to feel great.
Last week, we shared with you a recipe for our butternut squash and apple soup. This week, the apple theme continues…
While I was growing up, my mom, who is an excellent chef but doesn’t enjoy baking all that much, would sometimes get the baking bug and make a rustic apple cake. She passed on the recipe to me, and it’s actually a simple traditional Russian recipe for an apple cake that goes beautifully with tea on a chilly Autumn evening. We made a few substitutions to the original ingredients.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup milk (almond milk would also be great in this recipe)
1/2 cup butter, melted (feel free to use coconut oil)
3 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (be sure to use tart apples that will remain firm while baking)
1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Melt the butter in a saucepan and use a small amount of the butter to grease a baking pan (we used a pan that is 8 by 10 inches in size).
2. Whisk the flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, sea salt and cinnamon in a bowl.
3. Whisk the eggs, milk and melted butter together in a separate bowl.
4. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Then, stir in the chopped apples.
5. Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake on the middle rack for approximately 30 minutes or until the cake appears golden-brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
6. Allow the cake to cool. Slice and serve with a cup of your favourite tea.
Over the past weekend, Pawel finished this beautiful piece, inspired by the goddess Pele.
Both Pawel and I are big fans of mythology from different places around the world. The story of the Volcano goddess Pele is truly fascinating. And really, who isn’t interested in the magic of volcanoes? Right?
Do you have a story about your hair that you would like to share with us? How about a favourite recipe that features apples? Or, you can simply let us know what you think of the Pele piece, or any other material from this week’s blog post.
Have a great week!
In Southern Ontario, Autumn is in full swing. And we love it. Unfortunately, like many of our friends, we have also been affected by the cold virus. That’s something that can happen with the changing of the seasons.
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.
Until next time, enjoy the week!
I might be writing this with a big box of tissues to the right of my laptop on the sewing machine that serves double duty as my desk. Actually, make that a roll of toilet paper. We’re out of facial tissue and toilet paper is the next best thing, no? I might also be wearing my fuzzy soft blue bathrobe with pajamas underneath. The cold virus season arrived early and quickly this year, while the weather outside is slowly changing.
The beautiful Rose of Sharon outside our front door is in full bloom.
And yet, trees in our neighbourhood are starting to shed their gold- and orange-coloured leaves.
On Sunday, my in-laws arrived for a visit, hauling into our kitchen a beautiful harvest of tomatoes from their garden — sweet, dainty bite-sized cherry tomatoes, as well as large, juicy ones. I have loved tomatoes since childhood, choosing the fleshiest crimson one and biting into it as if I were eating an apple, to the astonishment of my family members, some of whom still are getting used to the idea that a tomato is, in fact, a fruit.
See what I mean? Isn’t it absolutely, preciously perfect?
Even so, raw tomatoes and my belly are not the best of friends anymore. Roasted tomatoes, on the other hand… Or, even better, tomato soup! Mmm…
When I woke up in the morning yesterday with a sore throat and sinuses that were crying pitifully, I knew that soup was in order, and not the chicken kind. Don’t get me wrong, in my state, I was in no mood to head into the kitchen and cook, but as I’m the only one who could produce the soup within the shortest time, I forced my creative chef hat to stay on my head and got to work.
I wanted to eat those gorgeous tomatoes sitting on my counter, but not in their raw state.
I pulled together a few ingredients:
After about 30 minutes — twice as long as it should have taken, as I did take many breaks to tend to my runny nose — this is what I had simmering on the stove.
And it smelled delicious!
I added some water, let everything come to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes, and then came the fun part…
I do enjoy my immersion blender. It allows me to make delicious soup quickly, without needing to use the traditional standing blender.
Voila! The result was divine and warmed my aching bones. Oh yeah, and it helped clear the sinuses, also.
I improvised along the way and whipped up this soup in my virus-laden daze. However, thanks to the photographs I took during the cooking process, I was able to remember which ingredients I used. So, I’m happy to share the recipe with you.
Dharma Wanderlust Vegan Tomato Bisque
2 tbsp EVOO
2 medium-large white onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
7-8 medium-large ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1-2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cumin seed
1-2 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp ground coriander
3 cups distilled water or vegetable stock
1. Heat the EVOO in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Then, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, on medium-high heat, until the garlic and onion are browned.
2. Add the tomatoes, sea salt, turmeric, cumin, fennel, and coriander and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.
3. Add the water or vegetable stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Then, simmer for about 30 minutes.
4. Let the soup cool. Then, use an immersion blender or transfer the soup in small batches into a standing blender, blending until the desired consistency is achieved.
5. Garnish as you wish, if you wish. I sprinkled my soup with black sesame seeds and hemp hearts.
Enjoy, and SHARE this recipe and the soup with your friends (especially ones who might be fighting a nasty cold)!
And for dessert, may we suggest our delicious, sugar-free date rolls:
As always, we would love to read your thoughts on these recipes. Feel free to leave a comment. And SHARE with your friends!