Sunday, January 26, 2014

An afternoon of baking - some new culinary resources

The results of an afternoon of baking

This week was one that allowed plenty of time for reflection during some down time because of the inclement weather.  In setting some aspirations and goals for this year, I renewed my commitment to a holistic mindful approach to health and fitness after a bit of indulging over the holidays.  I was not nearly as ambitious as my fellow Zen Gypsies partner, Aurora in my undertakings for the new year (see her story about her new year's efforts here).   I used a 21-day raw vegan challenge, a vision board and a few newly found resources for recipes to help inspire me to get me back on track.

My vision board to inspire me to healthy eating

This weekend offered an opportunity to spend a fun afternoon baking with my son so we could stock up on nutritious, all natural whole grain goodness to round out our meals of colorful, hearty warm salads and warm soups that are our staples for the winter months.  We checked out a new music playlist he created for me to review as possibilities for dance events like the upcoming Return of the Light - a dance celebration.  The music inspired me to dance around the kitchen while we waited for the bread to bake so I managed to combine baking and fitness into one experience!  I'm hoping that I burned enough calories to cancel out at least one of my samplings of the finished products.

The recipes we used are inspired by the cookbooks listed below:


Traditional Vegetarian Cooking:  Recipes from Europe's Famous Crank's Restaurant  David & Kay Canter, Daphne Swann (this provided inspiration for the whole wheat dark chocolate chip cookies and the two granary loaves pictured above)

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day Jeff Hertzerg, MD and Zoe Francois (the whole wheat pitas pictured above came from this cookbook)

Ani's Raw Food Kitchen:  Easy, Delectable Raw Food Recipes, Ani Phyo (donut holes recipe that makes little nuggets of goodness great for snacking and giving a little boost of energy anytime during the day)

Websites, blogs and vlogs:

Raw. Vegan. Not Gross, with Laura Miller of Sidesaddle Kitchen - check out the link on her website to her videos on the Tastemade YouTube channel

Bondi Harvest - a great resource for simple, fresh recipes and videos from the land down under that will appeal equally to vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike

Sweet Potato Soul:  The Nourishing Vegan blog - simple vegan recipe videos

I hope you are inspired to spend some time creating nourishing meals in the kitchen.

Scene from a winter walk

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Snowy day nesting

Snowy day comfort food - hot oatmeal with fresh berries, walnuts and maple syrup for breakfast

I'm enjoying a blustery snow day at home nesting.  The snow is swirling around outside like a snow globe and the temperatures have fallen past freezing and continue to drop as the winds kick up.  After making a trip out for a brisk walk with the dog and to gather wood from woodpile before dark (there are scary, scampering noises out there in the dark, oh my!), I'm settled in to savor the past week and to do some planning for the week ahead.

Highlights from the past week:

Dance rehearsal in preparation for an upcoming show on Feb 1 at Blue Wind Gourmet
Meditation workshop at Still Water Mindfulness Center
Dance class date with long time girlfriend and fellow Tribal Remix dancer
Conducted fun Zen Gypsies Tea and Journaling Workshop with Aurora 
Penned Zen Gypsies blog post with recipes for savory tea treats 
Unexpected testimonial feature at Tranquility du Jour
A romp in the snow with Noah

Looking forward to the week ahead:

Stack of books for upcoming course

Attend Living and Sustaining a Creative Life program at the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Gallery
Meeting with a potential Zen Gypsies workshop sponsor
Recipe testing and creation for future blog posts
Lots of dance practice
Trip planning for weekend excursion to Virginia Beach for hubby's birthday
Nesting time in front of the fireplace curled up with my stack of required reading in preparation for the  Main Street Vegan Academy program later this year

May you have a delightful week

Thanks for reading!

Noah, the snow beast

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Caramel apple dip

Caramel apple dip with apple and pear slices

I have a sweet tooth.  There's just no way around it.  I'm always on the look out for healthy options so I can indulge, but note without resorting to over processed empty calories.  I want a treat not to be a nutritional wasteland.  I think this delicious little dip fulfills those requirements with no added fat and natural sugars with just a hint of tartness.  You'll have this luscious treat together in about 10 minutes.

Caramel apple dip

1 medium apple, cored and cut into chunks (peel if it's not organic)
2/3 cup medjool dates,* pitted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple syrup, agave nectar or water

Put all the ingredients in a blender and process adding more liquid as needed to make a smooth paste.

*Use the most juicy dates you can find.  If your dates seem a little dry, soak them in a little warm water to rehydrate them.  You can add some of the soaking water to the mix to help with processing.

Serve with apple or pear wedges for dipping (a spoon works too!)

Makes approximately 3/4 cup.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What I've been up to lately

Green smoothie

The new year has started off cold and blustery here, so I've been doing plenty of indoor activities and a little nesting to stay busy.  I sat down this morning with my green smoothie (kale, cucumber, pineapple and lime juice blended with banana, mango and green power) to take stock of what's been happening over the last week or so.  Here are some of the highlights of what I've been up to lately:

Penned happy new years greetings to friends and family that I don't hear from often on cards featuring sunny photos from out garden and included some tea for sipping

Penned velvety meyer lemon pudding recipe post to the blog

To get the good energy flowing in the new year, an energetic reading via Skype with Shamanic practictioner Rebecca Singer whom I met in Costa Rica years ago

Completed my personal year end review using Unravelling 2014

Attended an 8 hour advanced meditation seminar 

Afternoon of vision board crafting for Zen Gypsies with Aurora

Applied to the Main Street Vegan Academy certification program and ordered the 10+ books (yikes!) on the reading list 

Here are some things I hope to get accomplished in the week or so ahead:

Crafting personal vision boards for the year

Prepping for the upcoming Zen Gypsies Tea and Journaling workshop
 (come join us if you're local to the DC metro area)

Exploring the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh style of meditation in an upcoming workshop 

Nia dance class with fellow Zen Gypsy Aurora and another good friend

Start reading my incoming stack of books!

I hope you week is filled with adventures that feed your soul.

Hibiscus from last summer

Monday, January 6, 2014

Velvety Meyer lemon pudding

Velvety Meyer lemon pudding

I get a weekly produce delivery from Washington's Green Grocer.  Meyer lemons are in season and there were several nestled in the box calling for a special recipe to feature their flavor.  Meyer lemons are thought to have originated in China and to be a cross between a lemon and mandarin orange.  They are sweet and tart at the same time...delicious!

With all of the hearty soups and stews that we've been eating because of the cold weather, it seemed fitting to have a light dessert for a change. 

Velvety Meyer lemon pudding

makes 3 cups

3/4 cup raw cashews*
1 cup milk (I used almond)
2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1 Meyer lemon, juiced
1/4 cup agave nectar plus additional for topping (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a high powered blender, process the raw cashews and the milk until smooth.  Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to process until mixture is well combined and completely smooth adding a little extra milk if necessary to get the desired consistency.  Spoon into serving dishes and chill before serving.  Drizzle with a little agave nectar before serving if desired for a nice contrast with the tart pudding.

* If you want to avoid using nuts, you can substitute another ripe avocado for the raw cashews

Thanks for reading!

Graffiti discovered on a walk

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Woman of inspiration - house tour gem

The fabulous Gloria Garrett

During the Snowflake Tour of Charles Village in Baltimore, MD, I met a very vibrant and inspirational artist at the very first stop that we made on the tour.  Gloria Garret's home is filled with her folk art, and her guided walking tour through the apartment made a lasting impression on me and just made me smile.

Every nook and cranny offered something to examine.  Her enthusiastic "What do you think this is made out of?  Go on touch it!" made for a most educational and interactive tour.  Her art is made with recycled and reclaimed materials; the origins of some more obvious and others unrecognizable because of their transformation.  She started creating art as a young child, but found she was allergic to regular paints so switched to using non-traditional supplies.  She uses makeup, like lipsticks, nail polish, eyeliners and shadows as well as office supplies such as highlighters, white out, markers and pencils for providing color to paintings.  For her wall hangings and sculptured art, she also uses cardboard tubes, packaging, scrap fabrics, bags and lots of other things that people would throw away - creating beauty out of trash.  Visit her website for more information about her and her artwork.

She served us refreshments at the conclusion of the tour.  A similar recipe to her vegan cookies can be found here.  Because of Gloria and her husband, Ben, this was the gem of the house tour for me.

Thanks for reading!

First snowfall of 2014 in Maryland

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Sources of inspiration for the week