Applesauce or Banana Muffins

muffin

2 cups gluten-free flour (sometimes I make my own, but this time I used Bob’s Red Mill All purpose gluten-free flour which has garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, white sorghum flour and fava bean flour)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1/3-1/2 cup agave sweetener or honey
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
¼ cup grapeseed oil
½ cup milk or non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup applesauce or mashed banana
Flaked, unsweetened coconut (optional)
Raisins (optional)
Chopped pecans (optional)
Cinnamon & sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins (I used Trader Joe’s Coconut oil spray). or use muffin liners.  Whisk first 4 ingredients together in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk next 6  ingredients together.  Stir liquid ingredients into flour mixture, just until combined.  Stir in coconut, raisins, and nuts if using.  Fill muffin tins.  Sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar.

Make 18-20 minutes.  Makes 18 muffins.

What’s New?

Last week on a call with other Coach U faculty members, our training director asked us to share what was new for us–what we were engaging in to learn and grow.  I thought this was a fun and inspiring  kick-off to this year’s faculty calls and decided to borrow the idea.  So I’ll share what’s new with me, and I’d love to hear what’s new for you!

I’ve just moved my blog over to a Word Press platform.  In addition to new postings, I will slowly cull through my 15 years of previous newsletters and repurpose some of that content.  It doesn’t feel good to have so much of my writing sitting on my computer instead of being out there in the world. Please  follow my blog!

On the afternoon of Valentine’s Day I will be holding my first Reiki share.  This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while as a way for my Reiki students to practice giving and receiving Reiki.  I may end up offering these every other month, so stay tuned.

Last fall we opened our home up to begin receiving guests through AirbBnb.com.  As empty-nesters with two empty bedrooms, we thought this might be a fun way to earn some extra money.  It turns out that many leaf-peepers are interested in our area! One week we were booked 6 nights in a row with three different parties. It’s been fun to meet people from all over the world.  We recently got word that from the superhost_photo_badge-10b716fc412b6c63907154db48160240number of guests we had and our good reviews, we’ve earned a “Superhost” badge.

 

Last year we got involved with home exchange, and we are continuing to do more with this.  A Canadian family used our home last summer as a base for their New England explorations, and we, in turn, will visit their cabin in the Rockies this May.  We are looking forward to other exchanges–one next week in Costa Rica and one the spring of 2017 in southern Spain.

pool

I’m stretching myself physically by taking an adult swim class.  It feels like swim team for grownups.  I have made helpful corrections to my strokes, increased my speed and distance, and am making some beginning attempts to learn flip turns and the butterfly.  Whew!

I’m challenging my brain by tapping into my memory banks and making new neural pathways as I work with Spanish language recordings.  With our upcoming home exchanges to Spanish-speaking countries, I have incentive to sharpen my linguistic skills.

I am evolving spiritually by engaging in the second year of Natural Dharma Fellowship’s Margha program which focuses on compassion practices.  I am drawn to the bodhisattva path!

To make room for new opportunities and activities in our lives it’s often necessary to let go of other things.  We have begun discarding, donating, and recycling a lot of clothes and household items that we no longer need or want.  This week I cancelled my USANA distributorship after 5 years of attempting to turn it into a thriving sideline business.  I learned a lot from the experience and was introduced to some wonderful people and products, but I want to focus my energy elsewhere.

What are you taking up, getting back to, or releasing at this time?  How are you evolving mentally, physically, or spiritually? A new year is the perfect time for new challenge, a makeover,  or fresh start!  Please hop on over to the blog to share what’s new with you.

 

 

Gift of Peace

self carePeace, Love, and Joy.  Those are supposed to be the hallmarks of the season, yet are these truly filling your heart at this time?   What ripple effects are you currently setting in motion, beginning in your household, and expanding out to your workplace, community and beyond?

If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Is a quote from Ron Hall that especially hit home during the years when our boys (and often an exchange student, too) were under our roof. I found that the added pressures of holiday preparations would often leave me feeling overwhelmed and cranky.  I’d dissolve into a puddle of tears at least once or twice before the New Year and know that I brought everyone else down with me.

Now, I feel that my deepening work with meditation has given me more tools and greater self-compassion to accept and ride out any strong waves of emotions.  Goodness knows, there are always ample opportunities for practice, especially since feelings of loss and yearning are often amplified during the holidays (hi-low-days).

In study after study, meditation has been proven to reduce anxiety, stress, and pain and promote feelings of relaxation, peace, and well-being.   So I encourage you to give meditation a whirl (or a second chance) if you’d like to cultivate and spread more peace, love, and joy.

I believe that there is no one right way to meditate; there are many paths. Too many people give up on meditation because they haven’t found an approach that really works for them or stuck with it long enough to realize that some sessions will feel better than others and to form a habit.

Just as we have different learning styles—visual, auditory, and kinesthetic–which make some methods of delivery work better for taking in information, the same may hold true for meditation.  My personal theory is that our learning style(s) may correlate with our preferred meditation style(s).  Someone who is an auditory learner, might do well with guided meditation, chanting, reciting a mantra or prayer, or listening to a recording on headphones with binaural beats to reach an alpha or theta brainwave state.  A kinesthetic leaner might find it torturous having to sit still to meditate, but might love circling to center with a labyrinth, doing yoga, focusing on the breath, or engaging in mindfulness, walking meditation, or guided relaxation.  A visual learner might resonate with visualizations, staring at candle flame, focusing on a flower or other natural object, or creating or experiencing mandalas or other art.

Also consider:

  • What approach(es) have worked well for you before?
  • What approach(es) would you like to explore?
  • What time of day appeals most to you for meditation?
  • Are you drawn to solo practice or meditating in a group?

I love to create opportunities for people to experience meditation.  I’ve become very active in Great Pond Sangha and coordinate a free drop-in silent and walking meditation in North Andover on Friday mornings.  This fall I also began offering weekly drop-in meditation sessions at a local company.

I’ve recorded a short, guided meditation which combines several of these approaches.  May it help create peace, love, and joy within you so that you may spread this to others this holiday season and beyond!  I’d be curious to hear about your experiences.  Please let me know if there’s anything I could do to support you on your path.

Reclaim Your Time

clock

September is a month when everything gears back up after the summer. Children don backpacks and return to school and grownups return to work, leaving the lazy days of vacation or long weekends behind.  Sports teams, clubs, committees, and professional organizations that may have suspended their meetings and practices over the summer are back in full swing.   Many people find the cooler temperatures invigorating and welcome the quicker pace.  But others feel like digging in their heels and stubbornly shouting “Whoa!” when they see how much is now on their plates.   If this latter description fits you even slightly, read on for some suggestions for reclaiming control over your time.

LOOK AT HOW YOU ARE SPENDING YOUR TIME—Here’s an eye-opening exercise I’ve used with many of my clients.  Make two pie charts (circles that you will divide into sections) next to each other and label one “Actual Day” and the other “Ideal Day.”   Divide and label the first circle into sections that represent how you allocate a typical day, (i.e. sleep, grooming, exercise, work, running errands, preparing and eating meals, TV/reading.)   Are you surprised by where your time goes?  Now segment the second circle according to how you’d prefer to spend your time.

REEXAMINE YOUR PRIORITIES—What do you most want to devote your time and energy to at this point in your life?  Make a list and narrow down to the three to five things that are most important to you.  These are your top priorities.  Refer back to your “Actual Day” pie chart, to see how much of your time is engaged in activities that are important to you.   What steps could you take to make your days more reflective of your true priorities?

MAKE CHOICES BASED ON YOUR PRIORITIES
1. Set and stick to limits.  My limit is two meetings a week and, when my boys were in school, it was one sport per child per season.
2. Divide and conquer.  Have your spouse or a friend fill you in on what happened in a meeting.
3. Say no.  If it doesn’t fall into your top priorities, isn’t something you want to do, or if it would push you over the edge into overwhelm, say no to it.
4. Schedule what’s important. Treat family dinners or exercise sessions the same way you would a business meeting—enter them in your calendar and work around them.
5. Make adjustments as needed to make your life work for you.

We are each given 24 hours each day; choose wisely and most the most of every moment!

Lemon Chive Vinaigrette

dressing

This is the perfect dressing for a simple green salad in a spring menu.  It’s best with freshly picked chives and mixed baby lettuces.

2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
sea salt or Pink Himalayan salt
1 teaspoon raw honey
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh chives
freshly ground pepper

Thoroughly whisk lemon juice, honey, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. slowly add oil and whisk until emulsified.  Stir in chives and a few turns of pepper.

Chia Seed Pudding

chia seed pudding

This is a very satisfying snack or dessert.   This makes one serving but could easily be multiplied.

2 Tablespoons chia seeds

½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk or coconut milk, or a blend of both

2-3 drops liquid stevia, such as SweetLeaf’s Vanilla Creme Sweet Drops or a teaspoon raw honey

Optional additions:  sprinkle of cinnamon, unsweetened flaked coconut, chopped toasted pecans or slivered almonds, fresh organic berries or a few organic raisins, raw cacao nibs

Mix chia seeds with non-dairy milk of choice and a few drops of stevia or raw honey.  Stir again after 10 minutes.  Refrigerate up to 10 hours until ready to serve. Top with cinnamon, unsweetened flaked coconut, few organic raisins, or raw cacao nibs.

My Favorite Breakfast Smoothie

 

blueberry smoothie

12-16 ounces, almond, coconut, or almond-coconut milk

1/3 cup frozen, organic, wild blueberries (Trader Joes has good prices)

½ banana (Frozen banana makes for a thicker, creamier texture.  I cut bananas into 1-inch chunks and freeze on a cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap.   Store frozen banana chunks in a zippered bag.)

1 serving Vanilla Protein Powder of your choice (I’ve tried all sorts of brands, but I prefer Nutrameal™ Free because it’s gluten, dairy, and soy-free, with no nasty after-taste. It also has fiber and a balance of carbs, protein, and fat which sticks with me longer than a protein-only powder.)

1 Tablespoon fiber powder blend

1 handful organic baby spinach (the dark blue of the blueberries hides the green and you really don’t taste the spinach)

Optional additions: maca powder, flaxseed oil, chia seeds (soaked for at least 10 minutes in your non-milk of choice) and/or hemp seeds

Pulse for a few seconds in blender and then blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.

Mashed Cauliflower a.k.a. Fauxtatoes

fauxtatoes

Mashed potatoes have always been a go-to comfort food, but this recipe has become my new favorite side dish. Even my husband prefers them now to potatoes.

1 head cauliflower
2 tablespoons grass-fed butter (I like the Kerrygold brand)
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled (optional)
coarse ground sea salt and pepper, to taste
chives (optional )
2 tablespoons grass-fed butter (I like the Kerrygold brand)
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled (optional)
coarse ground sea salt and pepper, to taste
chives (optional)

Cut the cauliflower in half. Remove the stem and coarsely chop or divide the cauliflower into florets. Add cauliflower and garlic (if you are using) to a large pot and add about an inch of water.  Cover.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and steam until tender. This may take 12-15 minutes. Drain.  Transfer to food processor along with butter, salt, and pepper. Process until fully combined and it’s reached your desired consistency.  I prefer a velvety smooth texture, but you might like it chunky.  Garnish with fresh chives if desired.

Open Hearts

 

hearts

How do you hug? I know this is a rather odd question, but think about it for a moment. Do you put your arms around someone with your head toward the left and their head toward your right, or is it just the opposite? Perhaps because I’m right-handed, it’s always been my habit to hug toward the left. However, I’ve learned that hugging toward the right is best because that aligns your heart with the other person’s. While it may feel awkward to change your hugging habits, you’ll likely find that heart-to-heart hugs foster a deeper connection. The next time you go to hug someone remember, “Right is right” and hug in that direction to open your heart to the other person.

You may be thinking, “Whoa! I’m not going to open my heart to another. That’s too risky.” We’ve probably all experienced the pain of a broken heart at one time or another. In order to keep from being hurt again, you may have chosen to protect yourself by not allowing your heart to be open and vulnerable. While a certain degree of guardedness can be a good thing, for instance, not getting into a car with a stranger or taking on someone else’s misery can be wise self-preservation. However, closing your heart off pushes people away and can lead to loneliness and lack of intimate, meaningful connection.

Opening our hearts can make a positive difference in our lives and relationships. An open heart increases our ability to love, to forgive, to be generous and compassionate. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, when your heart is open to love, when you feel worthy of being loved (all love must begin with self-love), when you come from a place of love, that’s what you attract.

In addition to hugging the “right” way, there are a number of other practices that can create open hearts:

An easy place to start is with your posture, drawing your shoulders back and down while raising your sternum.

Praying on another’s behalf both opens and uplifts the heart.  Plus, it’s much more positive than worrying.

If you practice yoga, there are many poses that are heart-openers: Bridge, Wheel, Cobra, Upward-facing Dog, Fish, Bow, Camel, Gate, and Crescent.

The meditative practices of Loving-kindness and Tonglen increase your level of compassion for yourself and others.

What have you found most helpful in opening your heart?