Animal Meditation

Today I started reading 5 Powerful Meditations to Help Heal Your Animals by Kathleen Prasad.  Meditation is hard for me as my brain is non stop flitting from here to there and everywhere. I still try. And the moving meditations like Tai Chi and some of the Qi Gong exercises suit me. However I wanted to give this a try.

When ever I practice Reiki on myself, my animals, especially Kona – one of the cats, and Chorizo – our dog are drawn to it. They nudge my hands away from me to them. What happened with this meditation was similarly amazing. This particular meditation was breathing in light and with each exhale letting the light spread over my body and into the universe. I had my eyes closed focusing on the light, and picturing the milky way; feeling very sedate.

At one point my eyes opened slightly and scanning the room Chorizo was in a very deep sleep in the chair to my right. Kona crawled into my lap was gazing up at me,  and then curled in my lap. My other two cats Lou and Lua were lined up in the room one behind the other staring at me quizzically.

The only one of the furries not present was Stu our rabbit. His cage is open all the time, but he doesn’t like to venture out.  I like to imagine he was feeling a deep sense of relaxation in his own space.

I managed to sit this meditation with no music or anything for about 20 minutes. This was really great for me. My mind wandered and I could bring it back.  I think what helped me here was not just the benefits to me, but how this would make a quiet peaceful space for the animals as well.

Have Your Toast and Eat it Too

I was really in the mood for a nice slice of toast and there was no bread in the house.  This was my fault – I just couldn’t bring myself to spend $7 for the loaf of hearty whole grain gluten free bread that I really enjoy.  I thought maybe it was because of the raisins and pecans.  However, the plain loaf was closer to $10! Had I always paid this amount and just wasn’t paying attention?  I just felt that I was being extorted because of my dietary needs.  “I’ll make my own” I said. True, the cost of these specialty flours is quite dear.  But I had a bunch at home for experimenting.  True too, I could follow the tried and true recipes from the gluten free bread books but I didn’t have those flours; and then I would miss out on the fun of experimenting.

What I did instead was use the recipe for my gluten free challah rolls as a guide.  I really like the texture of the rolls and applied the principles to what came out as very tasty buck wheat bread.  Between my husband and I it was gone in just a few days.

It went well for veggie sandwiches and just as easily held peanut butter and preserves.  While it was entirely satisfying there are still some kinks to iron out before I share the recipe – so stay tuned.

Let me know how you have satisfied your toast cravings.

Spring Cleaning Week 2 Day 4

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It turns out Katya didn’t really like the pancakes enough to have again. Perhaps with chocolate spread to improve the experience.  Instead, I made us all a delicious smoothies with blueberries, mangoes, avocado, almond milk and a touch of mint.  I really enjoy smoothies and juices as a start to my day and that is generally how I begin.  Katya had some sweet juicy cantaloupe on the side for something to chew on.

I vamped up the coconut salmon adding curry and hot paprika.  I warmed together the fish, quinoa, vegetables and broth.  The spicy smells scenting the kitchen were what I was hoping for last night.  What a happy improvement this was to my palette – an enjoyable lunch indeed!

Tonight’s dinner of roasted vegetables that will include a smoky paprika is very promising. I am serving it with a black Japonica rice instead of quinoa.  I am looking forward to that first bite.

Now for some stretching to loosen up after a long day of work.

Spring Cleaning Week 2 Day 3

stack of gluten free pancakes and fruitWas it worth all the trouble to make pancakes on a busy work and school morning? Seeing Katya go back for seconds pushed it in that direction so I am glad I made enough for her tomorrow.

For my part they were a little mealy. The fruit and honey helped to mask the sort of after bitter taste. I am gluten free and make plenty of gluten free pancakes. They taste good. I won’t be making any more of these.

The rest of the day was crazy and then I spent two hours in the car between getting home and Katya to her piano lesson. I walked in the door at 8pm! It was kind of late to start cooking dinner but we had to eat what was on the menu or similar. I was looking forward to having the salmon in the coconut broth. I love anything involving a coconut. And I was imagining the kitchen filling up with the aromas of lemon grass and garlic.

This is why I was so underwhelmed with this recipe and how over complicated it was: 3 pots, 2 burners, and one oven for just this one part of the meal! Plus the pot I made the quinoa in (it would take too long to make the brown rice). Who cares about all the health benefits – I wanted it to taste good! The dish was disappointingly bland. It would have been so much better to first sauté the vegetables, add the cleansing broth and coconut milk, followed by the salmon.

Now I am just waiting for the oat date bars to finish baking. Then it will be off to bed for me!

Spring Cleaning Week 2 Day 2

I have to say counting the cleanse days is a little like counting the omer.  This is a thing some of us do between Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot which are 49 days apart.  A counting up or toward a great finish line.

Katya has a big AP test today so I brought her breakfast in bed.  It was the quinoa porridge again accompanied with fresh squeezed blood orange juice.  Happily it was received just as well as yesterday and when I went to clear it away there was barely a trace left.

As the dinner hour approached, I just shoved in the oven tonight’s dinner of black bean patties.  Fortunately I cooked the rice this morning while preparing breakfast. I served them like burgers with sliced tomato, red onion and lettuce. They came out fairly well though Walter thought they were a bit crunch and Katya didn’t appreciate the romaine lettuce bun that I thought was so innovative.

Spring Cleaning Week 2 Day 1

So we have made it through a week and now on to the second.  The big emphasis of this cleanse is the food.  That is the way most of us think about detoxes.  There is more to it then just what we eat.  We need to keep moving from our sedentary lives. We also need to think about leaving time to relax and getting enough sleep to allow the body to reset and heal from the daily stress or other ailments. This has been quite the challenge and I have been rolling out of bed at 5 to get in some exercise. But back to the eating!

After a week of juices and smoothies we are now moving on to grain like foods.  This morning we started our day with a quinoa porridge seasoned with cardamom.  I adjusted the recipe for three and replaced the salt (not in my breakfast cereal!) with cinnamon.  This was all topped with sliced up pear and toasted almond slivers.  I was a bit skeptical that Katya would eat it but to my delight she really liked it and the bowl was empty.

Lunch was left overs from the night before and we were all looking forward to dinner.  Fish was on the menu for the week so again we deviated from the meal plan and I made ceviche.  I cut up in small cubes onion, avocado, mango, tomato, jalapeno, tilapia and mixed it together with chopped up cilantro.  This all stewed in lime juice.  We ate this up with soft ‘melt in your mouth’ pieces of sweet potato and arugula; both drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Spring Cleaning Day 7

Food shopping at Bearrs Groves MarketWhat a great day.  It’s mother’s day for starters and I was brought the delicious minty blueberry shake with fresh squeezed oranges.  Today Katya and I will deviate a little from the cleanse as we are meeting a friend for brunch in St Pete.  I found a raw, vegan, sugar-free, gluten free place that would allow us to actually socialize while still supporting the ingredients for week one.

We went to the Leafy Green Café and feasted on a Thai curry soup.  We were wondering if it would be warm or cold and my tongue was surprised when it received a cold spoonful.  It was most flavorful with hints of curry, lemon grass and basil. We  followed up the soup with veggie “pizza”.  The crust was made from hemp and walnut which made Katya’s eyes roll.   The vegetables on top were jump off the plate fresh with just the right hints of basil. This wasn’t your typical New York pizza, but it tasted very good.   Katya thought so too, even if she did pick off every piece of cucumber and could make bracelets from the crust!

As it is Sunday we needed to plan and shop for week two of the cleanse. This time we were armed with our ziplist shopping list.  It is not the greatest of lists because it takes each individual ingredient exactly from the recipe instead of accumulating them.  It also categorizes them oddly, like putting sardines in a beer section.

Making an adventure out of it we went to a couple of farmer’s markets getting a great harvest at Bearrs Grove’s market.  We then got the rest at the super market including fish.

For our seventh night dinner we veered a little off the path.  Since we really didn’t like the portabella mushroom recipe we opted to do our own variation.  I grilled them with large scallions and served it along side spaghetti squash topped with kale and garlic.  This really felt more like a meal rather than a side dish of mushroom.  We finished the first week with a bang!

Spring Cleaning Day 6

By the sixth day we had most of the dishes at least twice and the broccoli soup even more.  At this point in the cleanse I’m not feeling too different except for some aches and pains.  Walter and Katya have been experiencing some headaches. All natural side effects during a detox.

Overall everything has been pretty satisfying though some meals have been better than others.  Katya’s big craving has been for peanuts but cashews did the trick.  It has been a lot of work to plan and keep this going.

Like everyday so far, we started off with our morning juice.  Today we had a mango tahini shake which I enjoyed but was not a favorite amongst the rest of the team.  After a less than satisfying breakfast for the troops, no one was looking forward to a repeat of anything on this week’s menu. So we opted to have kabocha squash soup, spinach sautéed in garlic and toasted pumpkin seeds on the side.  While we came up with this together, Katya was the real inspiration though she originally wanted my butternut squash soup.  The kabocha was a terrific substitute flavored with coconut, curry, turmeric, red pepper flakes and an onion.  It was a hit and we were all quite satisfied.

There are a couple of things this plan hasn’t really stressed and both I think are important: sleep and relaxation.  With all the planning and cooking on top of a full time job,  I haven’t gotten much of either.  Walter and Katya were both out so tonight I got my chance.  I filled up my tub with bubble bath, Epsom salts and just the right temperature of hot water; lit some incense.  I climbed in with book in hand and a cup of the golden elixir waiting on the side.  This was a great way to end the day!

Spring Cleaning Day 3

Well this morning’s drink was a hit. Yeah! A minty blueberry avocado smoothy. I don’t think Katya will ask for it on a regular basis but she actually smiled and was able to get it down before having to leave for school. I didn’t really hear any complaints so that was a good start.

I was also able to heat up in the pan last nights left overs and pack that up along with apple/almond ‘sandwiches’ for her lunch!

Broccoli soup topped with avocado again. This time I used more spinach than broccoli to change it up a bit. To accompany that we also had the left over broth vegetable dip with baby carrots. I like different textures with a meal so it just seemed like a good idea to have something nice and crunchy to go along with the creamy soup.

The broth was finished so I had a night of cooking ahead of me, food for tomorrow and a new batch of broth. I also made the sweet potato snack. Preparing these meals for three and working full time makes for less sleep. Hmmmm. With all the cooking and the food the kitchen was just a mess so I spent the time getting that all in order which makes it a better environment for me to create food in. It was a late night!