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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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We started with a few basic ingredients:

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Then, we chopped the onion and sauteed it with ghee while continuing with the preparation of our apples and butternut squash…

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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The ingredients:

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!

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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.

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Knitting-inspired pendant, made of Purpleheart wood and crushed shell inlay.

sup red amboyna burl

SUP-inspired pendant, made of Red Amboyna Burl, with turquoise inlay.

mantis purple heart

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!

Katia

Dharma Wanderlust

 

 

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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.

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The beautiful Rose of Sharon outside our front door is in full bloom.

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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.

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See what I mean? Isn’t it absolutely, preciously perfect?

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Yep, adorable!

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:

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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.

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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…

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I do enjoy my immersion blender. It allows me to make delicious soup quickly, without needing to use the traditional standing blender.

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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

Ingredients

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

Method

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!

Stay healthy,

Katia

Dharma Wanderlust

 

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.

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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

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Simply add all the ingredients into the blender in the order listed above, and blend to a smooth consistency.

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The result is delicious and kid-approved.

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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:

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– 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!

Wishing you a wonderful first week of September!

Katia

Dharma Wanderlust

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This time, here’s an original recipe that I invented intuitively in the kitchen. Toronto had another big snowfall just a couple of days ago, so although the spring season is almost on our doorsteps, winter feels that its visit is not over just yet. So, I continue to cook body-and-soul-warming soups and this one was perfect for the weather.

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Red Lentil and Quinoa Soup by Dharma Wanderlust

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked quinoa (cooked according to package instructions)

1 tsp ghee

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp cumin seed

1/2 tsp fennel seed

1/2 tsp coriander, ground

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp chili powder

2 bell peppers (I used yellow and red peppers)

1 cup of red lentils, rinsed well

3 cups of vegetable stock or water

2 tsp salt

1/2 lime, juiced

chopped cilantro and tahini (optional), for garnish

Directions:

1. Heat the ghee in a soup pot, then reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for about a minute.

2. Add the cumin, fennel, coriander, turmeric, paprika, and chili powder and continue to cook, stirring, for another minute.

3. Add the chopped peppers to the pot and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add the lentils, stock or water and the salt, and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover and allow to cook for about 20 minutes.

5. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup well. Then, stir in the lime juice.

6. To serve, spoon 2-3 tbsp quinoa into a bowl and pour the soup over top. Stir in a tbsp of tahini into the soup and garnish with cilantro (optional).

Enjoy!

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We’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment to let us know what you think.

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Katia (Dharma Wanderlust)

Following the holidays, our older son has started school and once again, I face the fun-but-somewhat-daunting challenge of coming up with exciting snacks to pack in his lunch bag. Like their parents, both our children have a sweet tooth. I always look for new, healthy recipes for treats. And so, I turned once again to Gwyneth Paltrow’s book It’s All Good. I shared another recipe from the book in the past, for gluten-free sweet potato spice muffins.

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This time, I decided to try the Bummer Bars recipe from the book. And we were very impressed. This is a quick and simple recipe to which I will return over and over again.

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As with most other recipes, I encourage you to play and substitute the original ingredients to find your own favourite variation of the bars. That is exactly what I did. Here is the original recipe from the book, with my substitutions listed in brackets:

 

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Bummer Bars

Ingredients:

 

1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes (I used rolled oats)

1/2 cup ground flaxseeds

A pinch of fine sea salt

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup good-quality maple syrup

2 tbsp brown rice syrup (I omitted this altogether)

1/2 cup chopped prunes or apricots (I used both prunes and apricots and also added raisins)

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I used walnuts, but next time will omit the nuts in order to be able to pack the bars for my son to take to school, as per the school board’s policy)

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a brownie pan with parchment paper. Note: I used a 8 X 11 inch pan. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and pour the mixture into the pan. Pack the mixture down with a rubber spatula. Bake for 1/2 hour, or until the bars have firmed up and are golden brown. Let cool before removing from the pan.

You can lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into rectangles and serve right away, or store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

XO Katia (Dharma Wanderlust)

Whenever one of us is not in the workshop making jewellery, or running around with our children, we experiment with other types of creations. We are particular about healthy, nutrient-rich, delicious food. From time to time, we will share fabulous recipes we find (and customize in our kitchen) with you.

For Mother’s Day about a month ago, Pawel gifted to me Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook, It’s All Good. I have been cooking, baking, and blending my way through the book and am very impressed with its contents.

Photo courtesy of eater.com

 

Over the past year, I have successfully implemented an elimination diet to heal inflammation and allergies that I had experienced for many years. This book features recipes that support the elimination diet and is an excellent resource for anyone interested in fine-tuning their menu, as well as for anyone simply interested in good, clean food and playing with new recipes.

The other day, I baked the sweet potato and five-spice muffins featured in the book, modifying the recipe slightly as I went along. These nutrient-rich muffins are gluten-free and are excellent with a bit (or a lot, if you’re a nut butter nut like me) of nut butter or coconut oil.

Ingredients (I added my personal notes in italics in brackets):

• 1 large sweet potato (I used two medium sweet potatoes)
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used melted coconut oil)
• 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
• 3/4 cup maple syrup or xylitol, plus 2 extra tbsp for brushing the muffins

(I used maple syrup and skipped the brushing step, as I barely had enough syrup to make 3/4 cup. In fact, I only had about a 1/4 cup of the syrup, so I used coconut sweetener, mixed with the almond milk and maple syrup, to make up the 3/4 cup of sweet liquid).

• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 2 cups gluten free flour (if the flour doesn’t include xanthan gum, add 1 tsp)
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp baking soda
• 1 ½ tbsp Chinese five-spice powder (I used 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of all spice, and 1/8 tsp of nutmeg)
• ½ tsp fine sea salt

Here is how they’re made, with instructions copied from the book. I added my personal notes in italics in brackets:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prick the sweet potato a few times with a paring knife or a fork and bake in the oven until soft (when a paring knife can cut through with zero resistance), about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and set the sweet potato aside until it’s completely cool.

Peel the sweet potato, discarding the skin, and mash the flesh in a mixing bowl with a fork. Whisk the olive oil, almond milk, maple syrup or xylitol, and vanilla into the sweet potato. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, five-spice powder, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

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Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and evenly distribute the muffin batter among the cups. (I used a small amount of melted coconut oil to grease the muffin tin).Image

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean, brushing the tops with the extra maple syrup during the last 5 minutes of baking. Let the muffins cool before serving. (The temperature of my oven is usually true to norm, but these muffins were ready after about 16 minutes).

Et Voila!

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Happy baking!

XO,

Katia

(Dharma Wanderlust)