Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Easter Super-Eggs.

Move over Cadbury, here's a chocolate Easter egg treat with a boost, and not just for Easter!

You know I'm not one for measuring, the kitchen is where I play, so play with the amounts in this one. And play with the ingredients. You have the wet, peanut butter (or seed butter of choice), just add some dry.

About 1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup almond meal (or throw almonds in the food processor)
2 tbsp coconut flour
3-4 tbsp hemp hearts
3-4 tbsp sprouted chia seed powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp of maple syrup, agave or other sweetener if you like. I found this not necessary since the chocolate coating was already sweetened.

Melted dark, fair trade chocolate for coating and a pinch of himalayan salt if you like a tiny topping.

Blend the dry ingredients together and add the peanut butter. Mix until a firm consistency. Roll into balls and let chill in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.

Melt your chocolate in a double boiler and dip the balls.

I'm not exactly a chocolatier so dipping was messy (and fun). I took a spoonful of the melted chocolate and put the peanut ball on the spoon, rolled it around until coated then set it back on the parchment paper, taking up another spoon of chocolate for the next ball. It kept the balls from getting lost in the pan and wasting chocolate or warming the peanut butter too much.

Set them back on a baking sheet, sprinkle a bit of salt if you like, and into the fridge until set. Transfer to a container with a lid and store in the fridge.

Extra melted chocolate? Toss in any nuts you have on hand, candied ginger or fruit, or dip bananas and roll them in crushed nuts for a chocolatey tropical treat.

enJOY and Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Cleaning.

"Please repair your own divot and one other."

If you play golf, you're probably familiar with this particular etiquette of the greens.

It refers to getting your little divot repair tool and fixing the mark your ball made on the green, leaving it as if you had no impact there at all. While you repair your own mark, you also repair that of someone who played before you.

This morning I ran 10 flights of outdoor, wooden stairs. An invigorating start to my day. As I ran, I noted the various pieces of trash either dropped by a pedestrian who had the energy to walk the stairs but not get to the garbage bin 20 feet from the staircase, or blown under the stairs by our signature chinook winds.

I picked up the trash on my 10th flight and dropped it all in the bin before heading home.

It's a practice I've observed for a few years now, while walking my kids to school, hanging out at a playground or hiking trails, I pluck the odd pieces of trash and pop them in the bins or my pocket until I can find a garbage.

Last spring a walk around my favourite community pond and place of personal meditation inspired me. Well, more honestly, ignited me. I got annoyed with the locals. From where I stood on the path I saw strange, colourful balls floating near the opposite bank. When I got to that side of the pond, I leaned over the bank for a closer look. Tennis balls, ball hockey balls, rubber balls, plastic balls...great gobs of dog fetch balls!

As I quickly counted up over 20 balls within reach, other debris caught my eye: construction materials, plastic bags, pop cans, water bottles, lids, even a paint brush (seems a bit heavy for even the wind to carry)...the list goes on. After muttering some choice words for my fellow neighbours, I decided to return later that week with a few tools and a mission.

With a large garbage bag and a long rake I dredged the edge of the pond, retrieving as much trash as I could reach. I took my son to help. He ran around the pond's path. And my husband. He took pictures of my butt while I scooped. Ok, well a cheering section is always helpful.

It was my mission, one I did not do for the community but for the pond, the wildlife I enjoy on my walks and the nature that surrounds and supports me. For the trees who listen to me rant on a tough day, chant on a beautiful one and create shade for spontaneous summer yoga. For the muskrats who play hide and seek with the ducks and provide endless entertainment on a cloudy day. For the sandhill cranes who show me grace and stillness, the coyotes who sit as silent company (at their own safe distance) and for the red-winged blackbirds who share their song as they poise themselves on the swaying reeds. I cleaned the pond for them and for me.

I think of this outdoor etiquette much like that of golf; if everyone picked up their own trash and someone else's, you would not see the marks that we or those before us left behind, only pristine greens.

A little Earth etiquette to keep our planet clean and our members happy.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Finding Inner Wisdom

I received an email from a lovely friend today, asking about meditation for getting in touch with inner wisdom and where to start.

My reply:

"...that's a broad topic."

Her question is not a new one. Many clients come to me unsure how to tap into the elusive intuition and inner wisdom. We all have it and it proves to be our most powerful guidance once we connect with it.

All meditations will lead to inner wisdom. Some just work better with people's personalities, habits and schedules.

I help clients with meditation, length and timing depending upon what stage they are at in life, their unique personality and what they need at the moment.

We are not monks in caves, we are car-pooling, clothes-washing, grocery-shopping, meal-making, working and bedtime story-telling busy people. Which is the exact reason a regular meditation practice is so important as our busy lives too often drown out the sound of our own guidance.

For those starting out, 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening is an effective place to begin.

The most important aspect is daily. So whatever you choose, pick something you can sustain every day and feel nourished by.

If you need help focusing, I always enjoy the global sadhana's offered by Spirit Voyage. The kundalini meditations provide videos to chant along with. Their current 11 day practice, sat kartar, is a kriya for opening heart centre and expanding into love.

Otherwise, I suggest starting with a simple mantra; repeating a silent "so" on the long, slow inhale and "hum" on the full, relaxed exhale. Or affirmation "I am" on the inhale and "relaxed" on the exhale. You can use any word you like for your affirmation exhale. My meditations often involve helping people identify a personal affirmation for their current circumstances. Try a few on and see which words feel yummy and right for you... "calm, at peace, in the moment, whole, intuitive".  

Let your shoulders drop, unclench your jaw and feel your body relax for the full meditation, deeply surrendering to the practice of no-time, no demands, no requirements, no expectations. There is no where else to be other than wholly-present in your practice. If your mind wanders, bring it back to your mantra or simply take a long, slow, deep breath and continue.

Pranayam, or focused breath work, is also a method I enjoy sharing with clients, particularly the very busy ones.

You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day - unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour. - Old Zen adage

Everyone has to find their own personal process of meditation. It matters less, the meditation itself, and more that it is authentic for the individual. Sitting on the front step breathing with a tree or soaking up the sun's rays...equally beneficial... you are simply in pursuit of quieting the chatter of the mind and hearing the soft, whisper of your own inner guidance.

I work with clients to help them get comfortable with a regular practice then, once comfortable, we begin to infuse it into other aspects of their day, creating a deeper sensory experience. The more we do this, conscious awareness, the less mind-chatter we experience and the more the inner whisper becomes familiar and recognizable and we can hear it amidst the carpool, the laundry, the meals and work.

Once tapped into, we can use our inner guidance to answer questions, provide courses of action, reveal solutions and assist us in feeling deeply connected to ourselves, our global family, nature and spirit.

Clients are always welcome to work with me via phone or in person to create a meditation practice, a personal mantra or be guided through a meditation to meet their inner guide.

Inner wisdom is a funny thing. It exists in us all yet we must search it out, all the while knowing the less we seek it, the easier it is to find. Clear as mud? Meditate on it.