November: An invitation for Gratitude and Soup

November: An invitation for Gratitude and Soup

November often becomes a collective invitation to focus on gratitude. While this can feel cliche, like another day or week or month to capitalize on a particular product or idea, I cannot help but delve into this one wholeheartedly in the hopes that through practice, everyday, every single moment becomes infused with gratitude.

The month begins with Dia De Las Muertos, a traditional celebration in Mexico honoring the ancestors who have come before, who have been our guides and teachers, offering their gifts and wisdom; and to their spirits who continue to guide and support. The season invites us to remember that we are not in this alone and that we do not live and act for our benefit alone. Our own gifts, talents and strengths arise from the gifts and lives of those who came before. The infinite capacity for truth and wisdom has been tapped in to throughout time, by truth seekers and wisdom bearers in all ages. This is a time to give thanks for all we have been given, even before our own existence.

It is a time of the final harvest, of the Fall hunt, of an abundance before the scarcity of winter. A time to celebrate the growth and gifts of the Spring and Summer and to store and prepare for a cooler season. It is a time for reflection on the rhythms of the earth. Even the very smell of Fall brings us into a deep connection with earth; musky, rich, and pungent.

The leaves fall off the trees this time of year, the snow falls in the northern climates and the mountain tops, a transition to dormancy, a time of death for the annual plants, a time of hibernation or rest for the plants and animals that will regain activity in the Spring. It is a time to reflect and be present with our own deep and precious mortality. With our own beginnings and endings. This presence invites the deepest gratitude, for life itself. For each perfect, present moment. We are reminded that we too will one day join the spirit realm, our transition complete. Chani Nichols writes: “May this season remind us of that inevitability so that we may be better accomplices to this moment. So that we might be more encouraged to use the magic of love. So that we might explore the possibility of living as though this day was the most important of our lives. Connected to all life before it. And all life after it.”

Tapping in to a daily gratitude practice allows for a remembering of our true essence. It is a portal into our very life force, into soul. It is heart healing. It is heart opening. It allows for connection, for wisdom, for joy, for presence, for wonder, for awe. Gratitude may be one of our most effective daily practices for well-being. Gratitude is a deep felt sense. We may begin practicing with simply the statements of “I am grateful for… ” And then, beautifully and subtly, we are invited into something below the words. A felt sense of gratitude. A felt sense of our connection to all that is and to our own delightful uniqueness, our ability to notice beauty, to notice other, to rejoice in diversity and to also know and remember Oneness. Words do not fully express this process. They simply point to the possibility. Only through our own practice and gentle surrender to the possibility, may we know the deep power of gratitude.

I invite you this month into a daily gratitude practice. To wake each morning and in the moments before you begin any other activity, feel the invitation for gratitude. Write 10 things you are grateful for and if you have time, let this settle into a palpable, cellular experience. Then, rise and begin your day. I would love to hear how this practice affects you, what you notice, what you feel. I will be joining you in the practice and will post one thing I am grateful for on Facebook each day.

Today, I am grateful for warm, grounding, immune supportive soup. Cooking, chopping, smelling the fresh ingredients, creating, experiencing the nourishment as I return from a vacation and settle back into the routines of daily life. I am grateful for the knowledge of what my body and mind need, for the access to fresh and abundant foods, for the time to cook and prepare food for myself, for the flavors that dance in my mouth, for the ease of digestion and sense of care and love for myself. And, I am grateful that I can share this simple meal with each of you in this time of reflections.

With abundant blessings,

Dr Amy

Morel Soup

A beautiful blend of earthy mushrooms, rich in vitamins and minerals, with a pureed broth of potato, leek and celery. Dill adds a brightness to the mix.

Morel soups often call for heavy cream. I increased the potatoes and found that after blending, the soup was “creamy” all on its own. But, feel free to add cream or coconut milk in the last few minutes of cooking if you desire a richer soup.

Ingredients
~1 large leek, thinly sliced all the way to the green leaves
~3-4 cups quartered baby potatoes, with skins on.
~2 cups celery chopped
~1/2 onion, roughly chopped
~4 cloves garlic, diced
~2 cups chopped morels (fresh or dried and rehydrated)
~3 Tbsp butter
~1 cup dry white wine
~1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
~3 cups water
~Fresh dill – 1/4 cup chopped
~Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
~Prep your veggies.

~In a soup pot, add water, leeks, potatoes and celery. Sprinkle with salt.
~Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes and leeks are soft.

~Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan and add the onions and garlic.
~Cook on medium until soft, gently translucent.
~Add the mushrooms.
~Continue to cook on medium, adding a splash or two of white wine as needed during cooking to keep the mushrooms from drying out.
~Sprinkle with salt.
~Cook for approximately 15 minutes.
~When soft, add the rest of the wine and gently increase heat, cooking the liquid down until almost gone.
~Add chicken broth and stir well.

~When the potatoes and leeks are soft, blend them until smooth.

~Return the now blended potato/leek blend to the soup pot and add the mushrooms in their broth. Stir well. ~Continue to cook gently over medium heat.

~Add dill. Stir.
~Add salt and pepper to taste.

~Serve warm with a garnish of dill.

Cooking, an expansive act of presence and mindfulness (recipe included)

Cooking, an expansive act of presence and mindfulness

Rabia of Basra wrote circa 717-801AD:

It helps,
putting my hands on a pot, on a broom,
in a wash pail.

I tried painting,
but it was easier to fly slicing potatoes.

Not uncommonly, we become frustrated that we don’t have the time for a pause, for a meditation practice. I often hear from people: I barely have time to breathe, life keeps coming, the challenges keep arising, there are always so many thing that need my attention. This is all true. Life is fluid, dynamic and always in motion. Life is arising and dissolving in every moment. And, how we engage with this life is the rich and fertile opportunity for exploration, play, insight and true peace. What is our goal with meditation, with mindfulness practice? Stress management, a bit more ease in our day, more skillful action and relationships, and perhaps fundamentally the experience of life moment by moment as Divinity within expressed uniquely in each of us, a full presence and oneness with all of life. But, does this have to be achieved through 20 minutes or an hour or a lifetime on a mountain top of sitting in silence? Taking time each day for silence, for exploration of how life shows up through us, for being with every part of ourselves in gentle curiosity is absolutely healing, nourishing and worth cultivating. And, we have the opportunity to practice this pause and to be mindful even in the myriad of movements throughout our day.

Brother Lawrence, a humble cook within a monastic community in the 1600’s expressed that experiencing the kingdom of God every day involved “practicing the presence of God in one single act that does not end.”

Cooking for me, as it appeared to have been for Brother Lawrence, is frequently an experience of presence and mindfulness. I love cooking for someone I care about. Knowing the flavors they appreciate, the ingredients that speak to their particular delights, and then preparing a meal that will delight their senses is a true joy. But, the process is a moment by moment dance and is an opportunity to drop in and allow for the pause, for life to move through me. It is a meditation, a place for mindfulness and for opening to Awareness to show up through me and in the meal that arises. I may be inspired by a recipe or simply by a walk through the market noting what is in season, what catches my eye, what tantalizes my senses. From there, I allow the food to speak to me. What flavors and seasonings seek a co-creative dance? What density and texture and color combination will be most appealing? There is some conscious thought to this process, but there is also a feeling into it. A presence and opening to the very center of my being, an invitation for life to move through me in this simple task of chopping, washing, stirring and observing the transformation of ingredients into a digestible, nutritive, beautiful meal. I do not taste food while I am cooking. I never have. I know, this is strange, but for me, there is simply a knowing as I pour in one spice and then another, as I chop onions or carrots, as I choose whether to roast or sauté, as I blend or stir; a knowing that this is a magical meal; a knowing of what the flavors will be, and yet also the knowing that I will be as delighted as the people I am cooking for when I place the plates or bowls on the table and take my first bite. In this process, I am also cooking for myself, for my own surprise, for my own pleasure.

Part of the reason cooking can be a mindful, sensually rich, immersive experience is because I have studied, cultivated skills, read, researched, explored the properties of various foods and paid attention along the way. I have made mistakes. I have made inedible meals. I have followed instructions of others and I have explored and played. Being fully mindful of our process and cultivating our skills go hand in hand.

Food is one of the most foundational ways we interact with our natural world. It is fundamental to our survival. It is tied to cultural practices, spiritual practices, stories, memories and ritual. For this and many other reasons, we can easily miss the invitation to allow our engagement with food to be a pure practice of the presence of God, in this one act, over and over again.

Whether it is cooking, or playing with your children, or cleaning, or surfing, or writing, or taking a walk, or sitting at your desk doing your work, or taking care of an ill or aging family member or friend, or the myriad of other things with which we engage each day, there is an invitation into this full presence. There is an opportunity to practice being in the moment, observing how life moves through us, open to pure delight in each minuscule movement along the way.

This Fall soup inspired the musings above and I share it with a hope that whether cooking allows for this dropping in to your essence nature, or whether it be any other activity of your day, that you may know the blessing of being alive, aware, present in each of the seemingly mundane and in each of the ecstatic moments that may arise.

Roasted Curried Butternut Squash/Green Apple Soup

Ingredients:
~2 small or 1 large butternut squash – roasted (see instructions below)
~2 carrots – roasted (see instructions below)
~Olive oil
~1 yellow onion (chopped)
~4-6 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
~1” fresh ginger (peeled and chopped)
~2 stalks celery (chopped)
~1 tart green apple (cored and chopped)
~1Tbsp ground cumin
~2 tsp ground coriander
~2 tsp powdered turmeric (or if you prefer fresh, peel and chop turmeric root)
~4 cups chicken or vegetable broth or water
~Salt and pepper to taste

~Chives for garnish
~Paprika for garnish

Directions:

Roasting the Squash and Carrots:
~Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees
~Slice the butternut squash in 1/2 and remove the seeds.
~Wash the carrots.
~Drizzle or brush olive oil on the inside of the squash and onto the carrots.
~Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper
~Place squash face down and lay carrots on parchment paper on a rimmed cookie sheet or baking dish.
~Roast for 30-40 minutes – until squash and carrots can be easily pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile:
~Pour 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large soup pot and place over medium heat.
~Add onion, garlic, ginger and celery and slowly heat. Allow to cook slowly, stirring occasionally. They will soften and sweat, but do not brown.
~Add apple, cumin, coriander, turmeric and stir to coat everything with the spices.
~Remove squash and carrots from the oven and carefully using a spoon, scrape out the squash meat from the skin and place in the soup pot. Cut the carrots into 1” pieces and place in the soup pot.
~Stir everything together.
~Add broth.
~Bring to a simmer.
~Add salt and pepper to taste.
~Allow the flavors to mix at a light simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Blend the soup.
You can use an immersion blender, but this may not bring it to a completely creamy texture.
I use a Blendtech high powered blender. Be careful blending hot soup.
~Add 3-4 cups of the soup to the blender. Cover with the lid and blend until pureed.
~Continue until all the soup has been completely blended.

~Return to low heat to keep warm until served.

~Garnish with chopped chives and a sprinkle of paprika as desired.

Fall: A Blustery Season: Finding your Ground! (Tips and Recipe)

Fall: A Blustery Season: Finding your Ground!

Winnie the Pooh: Happy “Winds-day”, Piglet.
Piglet: [being blown away] Well… it isn’t… very happy… f-for me.
Winnie the Pooh: Where are you going, Piglet?
Piglet: That’s what I’m asking myself, where?
[he is lifted into the air by a gust of wind] Piglet: W-Whoops! P-P-P-Pooh!
Winnie the Pooh: [grabbing Piglet’s scarf] And what do you think you will answer yourself?

October 1, the Fall Equinox behind us: the days getting shorter, the evenings and nights cooler. Leaves turn and fall. It is Vata season – a season where the energies of wind and space are aplenty: cool, dry, light, mobile, changeable. It is a season where our body is asked to adapt, both to the changing light and the changing temperature, adjusting metabolic rate and cellular activity to meet the needs of the winter season.

Like Piglet on a blustery Fall day, many of us feel a bit more ungrounded this time of year. We may even be asking ourselves, “where are we going?” Our minds may feel a bit more scattered. Sleep may feel lighter than normal. The schedule sometimes feels out of our control. Those prone to anxiety or worry may notice it heightened during this season. This is Fall, a season of transition.

As with all seasons, some people will be more affected than others, but the energy of the season will touch us all, and bringing a mindfulness to the daily routines that bring balance to your body and mind will ease the sometimes tumultuous transition energy.

A few tips for finding your ground, for tethering your scarf, for allowing for the settling that is necessary to answer the question… Where are you going?

~ Warm water and teas
~ Warm baths
~ Sesame oil massage
~ Grounding and sweet essential oils such as ylang ylang, rose and vetiver
~ Warming spices such as cumin, coriander, ginger and cinnamon
~ Warm foods
~ Root vegetables and squashes
~ Cooked foods rather than raw
~ Soups and stews
~ Healthy fats
~ Slowing to eat
~ A mindful and consistent sleep routine
~ Saying no to a few things you might otherwise say yes to
~ Laughter
~ Play
~ Connecting time with those you love
~ A walk in the canyon, forest or beach
~ A little slower pace to your exercise routine
~ Limiting electronics, especially in the early morning and in the evening
~ A daily practice of gratitude, mindfulness and meditation
~ Deep breaths

I had the beautiful opportunity to spend this weekend camping with friends, lying on the ground, listening to the birds and trees, laughing, playing, hiking, and eating incredible food. This is the soup I shared as we gathered around the campfire. Feel free to share on the Soaring Crane Facebook page tips you find useful for navigating the blustery season and finding your ground.

May you enjoy and be nourished this Fall season!
Dr Amy

Black Bean and Squash Soup (adapted from Sprouted Kitchen)
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2” fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 small head of cabbage, chopped (I used savoy)
1 medium winter squash, peeled, seeded and chopped (I used Red Kuri, but have also used Kabocha and Sweet Mama)
5 cups vegetable broth
4 tsp cumin (or more to taste)
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp chili flakes (or more to taste)
Approx. 2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
3 cups cooked, black beans

avocado, for garnish
cilantro, for garnish
pumpkin seeds, for garnish

In a large pot, warm the coconut oil over medium heat.
Add the chopped onion and saute until just beginning to brown, about 6-8 minutes.
Add the garlic, ginger, cabbage, squash, broth and spices. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer, cover the pot and cook for about 20 minutes for the vegetables to cook.
Add the beans and stir. Let everything continue to cook another ten minutes for the flavors to blend.
Salt to taste.
Use either an immersion blender or take about 4 cups of the soup and run through a blender, adding back to the pot, to thicken the soup.

Garnish each bowl with diced avocado, chopped cilantro and pumpkin seeds.

Rainy Day Potato Soup

This weekend has been one of quiet introspection, reading, a little writing, fires in the fireplace, walks in the rain with the dog, watching the trees dance in the wind, gratitude full, beauty rich days. Rain in San Diego is a blessing and the storms this weekend delighted my soul. The dog and I got perfectly drenched while exploring the beach this morning, romping in the sand as there was not another person venturing out in the storm. Three surfers braved the waves. A few runners graced the roadside trail, but Buck and I had the sand to ourselves. The waves gray from the rain crashed out of an even grayer sky, foam rising on the beach, pelicans gliding perfectly across the waters surface, turning just in time to avoid catching their wings in the waves crest. As we walked, in true San Diego fashion, blue sky appeared, and the rain took a break, returning again later in the day. Completely drenched, I took a hot shower, drank coffee and ate a warm breakfast and settled in next to the fire to spend a quiet Sunday reading about trust and about aligning with Universal Grace and Love. I thought I would do more writing today, but other than a little musing in my journal, nothing sprung to mind…. until, I sat down with the potato, leek, lentil soup I made for my dinner. One bite of its rich warmth and I knew I had to share.

So, with rainy day blessings, I offer you this recipe, perfect for the chill in the air, warming to the belly and the heart.

Ingredients: (serves 4)
1/2 onion – chopped
1 leek – thinly sliced
(could use 2-3 leeks and no onion). I used what I had in my kitchen.
4 large cloves garlic (peeled and chopped)
1 small Serrano pepper (remove the seeds and chop)
1-2 carrots (peeled or unpeeled and chopped)

1 Tbsp rosemary – fresh or dried.
4 cups vegetable broth

1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
12 baby potatoes (diced – bite size). (I like the sweetness and texture of these little potatoes, but you could certainly use larger potatoes as well.)
1/2 cup red lentils

1 Tbsp olive oil

Instructions:
In a soup pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion, leek, garlic, serrano pepper and carrot. Sweat until soft.
Add rosemary and stir in for a minute or so.
Add broth and bring to a boil.
Add Potatoes, Lentils, Salt and Pepper.

Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and either use an immersion blender or take 1/2 of the soup and blend until pureed, then return the pureed portion to the your soup pot. Stir. This leaves some potato chunks still intact and produces a rich, creamy soup without the addition of any cream. Lentils provide fiber and protein adding to the heartiness of this warming soup.

Serve and enjoy.
Garnish with fresh rosemary if you choose.

I ate mine with a grilled cheese sandwich on gluten free caraway bread with raw goat cheddar cooked in coconut oil… the perfect comfort food dinner to round out a delightfully pleasant and nurturing weekend.

Enjoy!
Dr Amy

The Mind Only Knows What the Mind Knows… so how do we ever change?

The mind only knows what the mind knows….

OK, I invite you sit with that statement a bit. Give it a moment to bounce around in that amazing, brilliant, fascinating mind of yours. Then, let it sink a little deeper into a heart space. What does this mean? What implication is there in this statement?

Over the past several weeks, this topic has come up often in the clinic and with friends. Over and over again, I have witnessed as people struggle with the choices before them, weighing options, looking at failure, loss, success, opportunity, sometimes alive with possibility, sometimes crippled by a sense of worry or simply wallowing in the unknown.

Our mind truly is an amazing part of our physical body. Capable of taking in thousands of bits of information through our senses and our intuition, our mind filters all of these bits of information and decides which parts are important, what to pay attention to, what to remember, and how to remember it. The mind takes all that it receives and connects it with an emotion to create a story, to program each memory. From the moment our nervous system develops, we are forming these stories. This is a big job. No wonder the mind seems so busy at times.

However the mind is not our entire being. And, the mind only knows what the mind knows. The mind can only pull from the experiences it has synthesized, stored and made meaning of.

Our universe is infinite with possibility. Our very being is infinite with possibility. But, if the mind is left to its own devices, it inherently believes in a sense of limitation. If it has only seen the color orange, but not the color red, it cannot believe the color red exists. If the mind does not know that a choice lies before it, it cannot consider it in the options it weighs.

I realize this sounds so obvious, but truly, does it? Because, despite the obvious factor in this statement, most of us believe that the only options available are the ones our mind is able to visualize.

We know that in order to make some decisions, we need to gather more information. We read, we go online, we add to the information stored in our brain, and along the way, our mind makes judgements of each of the things it learns, filing this information as useful, not useful, liked, disliked, option, not option. And, all of this filing is based on previous experiences and beliefs based on those previous experiences.

So, what does this mean? And, do we need to do anything about it? As I said, the mind is incredible, and serves us very well. And, if this was the end of the story, if would operate smoothly and without any suffering or angst. But, we do struggle. We feel trapped. We weigh options, feeling some deeper uncertainty about where life leads, worried about making the right decision, afraid to fail or get it wrong or feeling trapped in our current situations.

The truth is, we can’t think ourselves out of any of this discomfort. It simply is not within the capacity of the mind. Trying to think our way into understanding what life has in store for us is like asking the hand to pump blood or the lungs to carry us from one place to another.

So, how do we truly open to infinite possibility? How do we get under the stories to explore TRUTH? What is the space within which we can hold each of our mental stories and ask, are you true? Do you serve me now? With deep compassion and grace, we can examine each of our stories, find new meaning, heal old wounds, find new ways of communicating with ourselves, open to new possibility, but this is not possible through the tool that created the story in the first place. While mentally processing our stories can be very useful, there is an invitation to explore the infinite from another space altogether.

This place is called many things in different traditions. Our core essence. Our heart center. Our soul. I prefer heart, for when I invite presence from this space, it feels like the place where my true essence resides. It is the place where clarity can arise, through feeling, through color, through sound, through vibration, through pure essence, before the mind has taken it in and evaluated the experience. The heart is also throughout many traditions seen as the center of love and of soul. Feel free to use whatever image or word works for you, but know this place is beyond words and beyond images. It is not a place. It is all that is. It is simply where we access that place of infinite wisdom, possibility, creation, and love.

Every one of us has experienced what it is to truly know from this space. Maybe you have been hiking and turned a bend in the trail to come across the most beautiful scene your eyes have ever witnessed. For a moment, there is pure awe. Your heart center is filled with an overwhelming sense of indescribable beauty. Then, you turn to your hiking partner and you say, “wow, look at that view.” Your mind has now made meaning of the experience and there is a shift. The mind has filed this experience in a useful place, attaching it to the web of other experiences the mind has collected. But, what if that moment before the mind took hold of this experience lasted just a bit longer. What if you could simply rest in this space for a moment more? What more could be seen? What more could be experienced? How much richer could the experience the mind translated be? Could this inform your view of the world in a completely new way? Yes, and yes, this is possible.

This is the gift of meditation. This is the fruit of spending time settling into our heart space and feeling into situations. When we feel overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the choices before us, when we feel trapped, or disillusioned, we have the invitation to thank the mind for all of its beautiful work and then, sink into our heart center and simply feel. For a moment. For more than a moment. Either, way, the possibilities are infinite.

I do honor that this is not a comfortable space for many of us. Often our minds have created a story, initially to protect us, that tells us this place of simply feeling, of simply being is not safe. And, it will try to protect us again and again by attaching this process to emotions of fear or dread. It will send in distracting stories and thoughts.

But, this does not mean the mind should be abandoned or demonized. The mind is our meaning maker and it will be useful even as we go a little deeper and begin exploring what is really true.

I invite you to play with this exploration and if you need some assistance, please let me know. We can explore together and I have many incredible colleagues even more skilled in this oh so necessary connection to soul, inner play, integration process, that is inherent to being a fully alive, thriving human being.

Spring Cleansing!

The sun is shining! The scent of jasmine wafts gloriously on the gentle ocean breeze. The desert awash with color; cactus and mustard, poppy and lilac all abundantly abloom. Naturally awakening to bright morning light, energy flowing through plant and human alike.

A transition season, a season for clearing the metabolic waste from a winter spent in darkness, expending energy to stay warm, a season for new beginnings, a season for growth.

In balance, this Spring energy brings with it an enlivening, healthy growth, creativity, inspiration and the ability to metabolize easily, clear our waste and enter our summer with lightness and clarity.

Out of balance, we see other issues crop up in the Spring. Spring colds and flus take hold with a vengeance. Allergies flare. Tumors grow. For some, Spring brings a sense of imbalance, as if our “crazy” gets the best of us. For some, Spring brings a lethargy, a reserve, a darkness so at odds with the seasonal return of light. Anger and irritability may arise. Our bodies may feel heavy and uncooperative, our lymph and fascia congested and restricted.

What is our body doing in the Spring that can contribute to such different states of balance or imbalance? In early Spring, there is a relaunching of thyroid activity. The thyroid is involved in setting the metabolic rate of each cell to allow for the production of energy. The thyroid facilitates the catabolism or breaking down activity of nutrients, especially lipids (fats) to be used for energy production. Thyroid activity is generally more robust in the winter to support staying warm during the cold months. There is a slight dip as we come out of winter, and then a surge of thyroid activity to facilitate the normal detoxification necessary for the release of winter stagnancy and the move into summer, a time of heat, sun and an inherent diminished demand for thyroid activity.

All of this occurs outside of a disease state and outside of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. This is normal physiology. This Spring surge of thyroid activity allows for the balanced state to be maintained as mentioned above. We clear our winter debris. There is a renewed energy and surge to push through the frozen ground and come to bloom. The debris that has accumulated and kept our roots warm and nourished through the winter can be shed aside inviting fresh growth and regeneration in the Spring.

In order to facilitate this detoxification, the organs of elimination; the liver, kidney and colon must work efficiently.

In the imbalanced state, if someone has an insufficient ability to relaunch his/her thyroid activity, we may see an increase in phlegm, in respiratory disorders, in allergic symptoms. If someone tends to excessively relaunch thyroid activity, we may see a surge in the growth of a tumor, a worsening of an auto-immune state or a flare of a recurrent disease. Mood states can also vary depending on the efficiency of thyroid activity and thyroid response to the stimulation from the hypothalamus and the pituitary.

If the liver, kidney or colon are congested or inefficient or overtaxed in their ability to detoxify, we may also see symptoms arise in the Spring during this time of natural detoxification.
This is why Spring is such a powerful time for cleansing. It is also an important time to work with you doctor if you have cancer, autoimmune diseases, allergies, recurrent colds and flus, or mood disorders as these may be aggravated with the change of season. Preparing a treatment that you begin prior to the early Spring transitions can be very useful in mitigating these issues.

However, even for the healthiest, most well balanced person, a gentle awareness of the work the body is doing during this season will facilitate more optimal health.

This can be supported with a Spring cleanse, facilitated and made easier by the warmth of the sun, the longer days, the energy inherent in the budding, thriving earth.

There are several types of liver cleanses, varying from water fasting to juicing to a whole foods cleanse that simply gives the digestive system a bit of a break. There are a number of liver cleanse supplements and products and programs on the market. Some are useful. Some are not. Most are based on four major tenets:

* Rest the digestive tract while supplying minerals and vitamins helpful for detoxification.
* Support optimal liver detoxification.
* Support healthy colon elimination
* Support lymphatic circulation

The best method for each person is very dependent on your overall physiology.

For your Diet:
If you tend toward being cold, thin, nervous, anxious, dry, quick thinking, changing your mind easily, and tend to over-commit and perhaps then feel overwhelmed (or for those of you familiar with Ayurveda, have a predominant vata dosha); a water or pure juice fast is not in your best interest. It is important to eat cooked foods, and get plenty of fiber and warm water to support healthy colon elimination and keep your body warm and energy grounded and calm.

If you tend to be very fiery, have a lot of inflammation, find yourself angry or intensely competitive, intelligent and very driven (a predominantly pitta dosha); a fast of cooling juices or water, or very light foods may serve you well.

If you tend to be strong, steady, perhaps gain weight easily and have a hard time losing, prefer stillness over action, have an excellent long-term memory, prefer and seek stability over change, and have a tendency toward dampness; a cleanse rich in vegetables is beautiful for you, but preferably not raw. Avoiding grains, dairy, sugars and fats is a must. Also, you may need to cleanse for a longer period of time, with a limited diet, to allow for your naturally very deeply stored toxins to be released.

Please visit the handouts page for a Spring Cleanse worksheet which gives basic recommendations for foods to eat and foods to avoid on a Spring Cleanse. Whether you choose to eat whole foods during this time, or juice, or do a short water fast, this list will facilitate the choices you make. I recommend any fast which involves only water to be done under the supervision of your naturopathic doctor for the appropriate timing, pre-fast and post-fast recommendations.

For the Liver:

Castor oil packs are a simple, beautiful way to support healthy liver detoxification during a cleanse. Please see the handouts page for castor oil pack directions.

Herbal support: Taking a liver cleansing supplement, drinking detox tea, taking or drinking milk thistle and/or dandelion tea, consuming turmeric in a supplement, tea or food form, and the nutritional support above will all assist in liver detoxification during this time. Working with your provider on the most effective supplement for you is highly recommended.

For the Colon:

Fiber and water are essential parts of any cleanse. If you are eating large amounts of fiber in the form of vegetables, you may or may not need additional fiber support while cleansing. But, taking additional fiber in the form of psyllium and ground flax seed can be very helpful.

Drinking at least 1/2 your body weight in ounces of warm or room temperature water is necessary during a cleanse. Some of this may be consumed in herbal tisanes.

For the Lymph:

The lymphatics help the body clear its garbage. The lymph vessels are stimulated through the contraction of muscles. Below are four therapies which assist in lymphatic movement and drainage.
Dry skin brushing or Abyanga massage.
Gentle exercise: walking, rebounding, swimming, dancing, and yoga. You may need to reduce your exercise regimen during a cleanse due to the reduced caloric intake. Listen to your body. If you do not normally exercise, a gentle walk every day will be very beneficial.
Lymphatic massage, provided by massage therapists trained in lymphatic drainage.
Sauna can also be useful during a cleanse to facilitate clearing from the skin.

Sleep (to support all of the above):
During sleep, our body is doing the majority of its detoxification. During a cleanse, it is wise to stop eating 3 hours before bed, and then be in bed before 10pm and maintain 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

Other cleansing tips:
When Spring cleansing it can be useful to look at the other habits and patterns which may have become stagnant, rigid or dysfunctional through the winter months. This might include reducing your reliance on technology for a period of time while cleansing, paying attention to your routine, journaling, meditating, creative expression, rest, time with friends and family, anything that nourishes your soul deeply and restoratively.

For support on your cleanse, please work with your healing team, or give us a call at Soaring Crane. May your Spring bring fragrant blossoms of joy.

Dr Amy

Video: Body Wisdom: Obtaining and Maintaining Wellness and Balance

Over the years, I have had the increasing privilege of speaking to a variety of audiences about naturopathic and endobiogenic medicine. Surprisingly, or at least surprisingly to me given my propensity for introverted introspection, writing from the comfort of my couch, and silent beach walks; I enjoy this.

It doesn’t come easily.

I never listen to the recordings of radio shows or talks.

Experts say it is important to review your work. It helps cultivate your skills as a speaker to review past lectures, to accept feedback. But, it is analogous to having a tooth pulled for me… also something I have not actually experienced but can only imagine as torturous.

I am not the 15 year old girl who literally shook from head to toe while giving a speech or participating in a debate in high school. I still feel anxiety. I over-prepare. I pace. I breathe. I shake a bit internally. I freak out a little. But, in the end, my words seem to come and I actually find myself enjoying the process. I know, crazy!

I enjoy it because I am sharing what I know and love. I love working with people. I honor the gift of hearing their stories. And, I delight in being able to put the puzzle pieces of their history together to form a reference for why they are ill, why they are currently out of balance. For in knowing how we got to a place, in understanding the journey before us, we can also learn the tools that will assist our very wise, amazing beings to regain balance and wellness. Because I am passionate about this work, I also love sharing it with others, inspiring questions and interest in a broader audience. Teaching allows me to see the light in someone’s eyes as a new piece of information fills in a gap and there is a deep understanding at the mental and very cellular level.

Medicine is information. Life is digestion – be it food, information, experience or emotion. We take from each of these what we need and we discard the waste. When we digest efficiently, we thrive. When we don’t, we get stuck. I honor the power of words and information to alter a trajectory, to allow for a new path, an opening into health. It is truly delightful and awe-inspiring to offer information to people one-on-one in my clinic and to an audience from behind a microphone.

And so, my 15 year old, anxiety ridden self, has grown up. I can now speak publicly because I am sharing what I learn, love and embrace.

I even made myself watch this video. My husband and I sat and paused it every few moments to laugh uproariously at the odd facial expressions of a frozen in time word or movement. I felt self-conscious. I struggled with my own self-criticisms. And yet, I feel incredibly honored to be able to share what I love and practice with you.

Naturopathic medicine is a mouthful. Endobiogenic medicine is an even larger mouthful, and describing the power of this medicine and the view I hold for wellness and the bodies innate wisdom can be challenging. And, so I share this video to provide a basic framework for the work I do.

It is with gratitude that I share.
Dr Amy

Yam and Goat Cheese Tart

Winter Recipe
Yam and Goat Cheese Tart

3 T olive oil
1/4 cup shallots
1 1/4 lb yams, peeled, thinly sliced
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring oil to heat in a medium saute pan over medium- high heat. Add shallots and saute until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Spray tart pan with non-stick cooking spray and place on foil-line tray. Place yams in overlapping layers, starting at the edges and spiraling inwards to make one layer. Sprinkle with shallots, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Repeat process to create three layers. Cover top layer with cheese and lightly salt. Bake in oven until top is golden brown and the tart is easily pierced with a fork, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, remove and cut into wedges to serve.

Holiday Jubilee!

Holiday Jubilee

Is it possible to experience Jubilee during the holidays?

We sing of joy, of hope, of love. We gather as families and friends to delight in one another, in community, to offer comfort for those hurting, to offer grace to ourselves and others, seeing our souls as one, connected to Divine. We give to enjoy the beauty of generosity and celebrating life and the connection to universal abundance and grace! We light our houses and trees to celebrate the return of the light (with all the various and incredible metaphors this holds). We invite Santa down the chimney and offer our gratitude with cookies and milk to celebrate generosity and whimsy!

Or, at least this is what we desire on a fundamental level – it is why we keep coming back to these holiday traditions and why underneath the layers of stress, obligation and guilt that so often cloud all of the above, we still have those inexplicable moments of joy, where the light shines in our eyes, where we laugh spontaneously, where we simply revel in the beauty of the holiday, where we feel the abundant and nurturing comfort from those who love us completely, because it sparks in us a deep reminder of the truth, of the abundant gifts of the season.

So, why does this deep jubilee or joy only come in moments, in a breath, in a sudden whoosh – and then disappear in the angst of family communication, gift-buying, food preparation, travel, and cheesy music?

Or, perhaps the more useful question… how do we really settle in to the energy of the season and allow it to fill us completely? How do we revel in what is? How do we live from a place of centered peace, opening to the invitation inherent in the return of the Light, the remembrance of who we are – Divine Beings, celebrating our Divine connection?

““Whatever happens in the world is real, what one thinks should have happened is projection. We suffer more from out fictitious illusion and expectations of reality.” ~Jacque Fresco

I believe that the expectations we rehearse and hold to tightly are often the root of this discontent so common during the holiday season. Rather than bringing us into the light, allowing us to feel joy and jubilee, the holiday time cultivates angst, frustration, despair and stress. This is not true and appropriate grief of loss, or the sadness inherent in seeing life as it is, or the anger and injustice done. This is the ruminating, patterned irritation that things aren’t the way we planned. That here we are again in another holiday “festive” occasion where we tried so hard to make it fit our expectations of joy and light, and yet we feel completely ill at ease and full of disappointment.

This is not about putting a shiny happy face on a painful or challenging situation, or wishing away the difficulty, the sadness and the struggle.

This is also not about creating a new expectation that we think will be more fulfilling. An example of this is the trend I hear so often (and am guilty of myself) to keep the holidays simple. All it takes is one glance at a magazine like Real Simple to know that this expectation of simplicity is an overzealous and non-realistic expectation fraught with the possibility of disappointment.

““Simplicity is not the goal. It is the by-product of a good idea and modest expectations.” ~Paul Rand

Family and friend gatherings bring in everyone’s individual expectations. And, I want to be very clear. The expectations are not good or bad. They are a reflection of our past, of our current desires, of our stuck places and our memories of joyous times. They are what we strive for. And, they change! They are not static! This is absolute!

In this lies the invitation that may open us to jubilee!

Can we recognize our own expectations? Can we investigate them to see where these expectations are coming from? What needs are we trying to meet? This is key! Being able to recognize our own needs gives us the ability to identify them for ourselves, communicate them to others, ask for help, and find ways to meet them or allow the need itself to soften. Without identification, needs are often muddled with story and history to the point we no longer know what they are and have no idea how best to meet them. How then could we expect anyone else in our lives to know and help either?

Here lies the rub. This practice takes quiet. It requires “white space” in our lives. In order to learn and practice presence, we have to schedule and prioritize daily moments of stillness. This is a time to listen to our own thoughts, to investigate our stories, to observe our world exactly as it is, to offer gratitude. As the schedule ramps up and the to-do lists lengthen, we default to our business, to our doing. I say, emphatically, we must stop and honor and schedule the time for quiet, for reflection, for noticing life as it is, in this moment.

Through this identification and presence, can we soften? Can we allow for reality to be even more present and bright and palpable than the lens of the expectations we carry? In this incredible reality, there will still be grief, loss, pain and sadness. There will also be joy, beauty, abundance, and peace. All of the above are the richness of life that we have the deep privilege to experience. Each can be felt and digested without suffering, without deep angst, without the development of disease. Expectations unmet often hold resentment, and undigested emotions get stuck in our very physical being. Disease manifests. Relationships become corroded. Suffering takes the place of presence. When the experiences are held with a soft presence, with a full awareness of reality; when we have cleaned our lenses or even better yet, removed them all together, then can we truly experience an abiding presence of joy, peace and comfort!

I invite you (and myself), to practice in moment for this truly is a practice. The expectation that this all occurs overnight, because this desire for whole-hearted holiday presence has become our new “way of being” is fraught with just as much suffering as any other stuck or unresolved expectation.

This is purely the invitation to court presence, to practice a few moments each day this season and on into the new year. May the practice bring peace, deep abiding comfort, joy and maybe even jubilee!

~Dr Amy

A Saturday Drive

Last Saturday morning, my husband and I woke and began discussing our priorities and desires for the day. He started the conversation off with, “let’s take a drive.” For a little backstory, my husband doesn’t take drives. These are a childhood past-time of mine – long Sunday afternoon drives through the backroads of Idaho, stopping for a light picnic, a leisurely walk, but mostly exploring our world from the inside of the car. These are trips of rich conversation; deep questions about the universe discussed. They were times of laughter. There were squabbles between my brother and I over backseat domain. And, I still hold dear the journey, the leisurely drive at the whim of the magic steering wheel and the opportunity to take in the beauty and diversity of the world. My husband, on the other hand, believes drives inherently have destinations. He has a similar theory about hikes: hikes lead to fishing holes, hunting destinations. An amazing view is sometimes enough of a draw. Now, don’t get me wrong. He is an avid outdoorsman, critically observant of the nuances of life and nature at all times. He loves beauty and wild spaces. But, drives for the sake of a drive do not usually suit him.

So, when he brought up a drive; an opportunity to orient ourselves with where we now live, a chance to explore, and a day together to talk and share without the distraction of computer, phone, or household chores; I said yes! And, within an hour, we were off!

What transpired was a day of presence, of deep conversation, of connecting with one another on this journey of orientation, of grounding.

We traveled from our home in the neighborhoods of Encinitas to the forest and the mountains…
Mountain Fall Colors

To the desert….
Desert fronds
Windmills

And the beach for sunset…
sunset

An incredible blessing! A delightful day!

As most of you know, we moved from Alaska to California within the last three months. My husband was born and raised in Alaska. I have lived there for 20 years, minus a few to complete medical school. We have incredible stories, experiences, and a history of days well-lived in Alaska. As with all history, we also have struggle, difficulty and pain. We left Alaska because we were offered an invitation to be here in San Diego, and it was time: time for transition, change, growth and potential in a new environment.

The invitation to take this drive was really about orientation. There are days we both feel as if we’ve been teleported to a new planet. And, the first order of business when on a new planet is to get a lay of the land. So we did! With orientation comes an ability to ground, to settle in and to create from our very center. It is often easy to get caught up in the immediate routines of daily life and not take the time to do this necessary exploration.

When my patients are given a new diagnosis, whether it be hypertension, cancer, allergies, anxiety or diabetes, or they go through a life transition such as adolescence or childbirth or menopause, or they lose someone they love; they are transported to a new planet. Nothing is familiar. There are recommendations for new medications, advice from many well-meaning people on how to navigate this new space, many directions given and google searches conducted. But, until we accept the invitation to truly explore our terrain, to look at our own physiology, to explore our own place in this new terrain, we can spend exorbitant and valuable energy and time floundering. The terms are new. The languaging is all new. There are new relationships to navigate. Oftentimes a diagnosis or a new phase of life, invite us to explore our past as well. We are asked to look at what is new, and at what messes and less than skillful patterns we have carried with us into our new space.

In “taking a drive” through our new terrain, taking time to explore what it means to be in our own bodies, experiencing whatever it is we are experiencing, recognizing what is familiar and what is new, what is comfortable and what is uncomfortable; we can begin to orient and find the patterns that serve us best. This may be new food choices, new lifestyle activities, finding a new routine, cleaning house and detoxing. It also invites us to heal the past wounds and struggles so that we may truly move through each day with grace and full presence in this body we call home. And we are asked to be present with the full range of experience before us, be it frustration, sadness, joy, grief, elation, excitement, fatigue, or peace.

It is my privilege to offer a roadmap to my patients, to hear their stories and help them orient to their place of being. Endobiogenic medicine, in looking at our terrain and how we manage our physiology, can give a roadmap to why we have developed symptoms or why we are moving more or less smoothly through the major transitions of life. With understanding, with orientation, with a centered perspective, we can embrace the tools that work best for us as individuals to heal.

On our San Diego county drive, I was reminded that I need wild spaces. I need to get out of the city occasionally, or to the beach. I need to move, breathe and explore. My husband needed to know his landmarks. He needed to have familiarity with towns, roads and terrains so that when he speaks to people he meets, he doesn’t feel such a stranger in a strange land.

In our health journeys, we may need information so that we have better understanding of our physiology, our imbalance, and can adopt new patterns that lead to health. We may need specific nutrition plans to heal our structure. We may need herbs and plant medicine to bring us back to a place of balance. We may need medication to address a symptom or a lesion while we continue to get our bearings and heal our deeper wounds.

I could have said no to a drive that day, that I had work to do that I could not do on the road. I could have hesitated because I had been sitting all week and needed motion and activity more than sitting over the weekend. I could have asked him why he would suddenly want to take a drive when he is generally not a “drive” person. I could have trapped him in the way he has been without allowing for who he is right now, for what he is offering. I could have not seen the sparkle in his eye, the desire to orient himself and ground into our new home.

Instead, I chose to say yes and the reward was great! Moving from Alaska to California has not been all sunshine and beauty. We left comfortable careers and familiar places to both start something new in a completely different terrain. We are both following dreams, and both questioning at times the wisdom of the leap. And, yet, in saying yes to our place, to our new home, to the beauty surrounding us, we also are embracing the change and finding a new rhythm. We are given the opportunity to explore our fears, our expectations, our stuck places, our gifts and our strengths.

It is an honor to watch my patients who also express a wholehearted yes to the invitations before them. The invitation to heal. The invitation to delve into and explore their own terrain, their past and the places they have been stuck. The invitation to visit and digest the difficult emotions, the physical pain, the traumas, and to experience new ways of being, new journeys. This commitment to life: to life lived fully, engaged, honoring each moment no matter what it brings, this is incredibly honorable and speaks to a life well lived!

Dinner Party

A meal for friends… our first dinner party in San Diego

A dear friend had family coming into town this weekend. The desire to all spend an evening together was entirely mutual. This gave my husband and I the privilege of hosting our first dinner party in our home in San Diego. We had spent Thanksgiving with friends across town; a delightful day. But, the desire to cook and set a beautiful table and share our home was waiting to be filled. I reveled in planning a menu: warming, nurturing, fresh, healthy, not too complicated. We extended the dining room table for the first time. Borrowing a couple of extra chairs and making a quick run to the store for two wine glasses to replace the two that have already been a casualty to our hard tile floors, grocery shopping and an afternoon spent chopping, listening to music and preparing for friends to gather filled the Saturday hours of a long, luxurious weekend.

Yes, there was work to be done. There always is. But, the invitation to play in this way was so easy to give a resounding yes. And, we have leftovers rich in fiber, nutrient and flavor-full to feed us into the beginning of a busy week ahead. The wind picked up, the temperature cooled, the clouds rolled in and we gathered; adults, child, dog; and laughed, told stories, shared passions, thoughts, insights and wonderful food. Our friends brought their own contributions to the meal and the flavors of each dish combined exquisitely.

I woke this morning still full of gratitude for community, for good food, for a long weekend, and for our new home. May gratitude continue to be a practice for you as we move on from Thanksgiving to Christmas and into a New Year. May the moments of joy catch your breath, hold you in pause and rapture, and may you delight in good food and friends; some of the essential elements of a thriving life.

The menu for last night…
Chipotle Black Bean and Yam Stew
Salmon Quinoa Burgers
Cabbage, cilantro, and red onion slaw
Roasted root vegetables
Guacamole
Mango chutney

and to top it off… Coconut Bliss in 6 different flavors with berries and raw chocolate maca sauce from the local farmer’s market.

A couple of the recipes I adapted for this meal are below! Happy eating!

Chipotle Black Bean and Yam Stew
Adapted from Nourishing Meals: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes for the Whole Family

Ingredients
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp fresh chopped oregano
2 tsp chile powder
3 tsp Herbamare or sea salt
3 medium yams, peeled and diced
6 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
6 cups cooked black beans
4 cups chicken broth
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 large bunch kale, chard or spinach chopped
1 lime, juiced

Heat an 8 quart pot over medium heat, add the oil. Then, add the onions and saute for 5-9 minutes until soft. Then, add spices, Herbamare, yams and garlic and salute for 2-3 minutes.

Add the black beans and broth: simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes or more depending on size of yam pieces. Cook until they are barely tender, but not yet cooked.

Add diced peppers and simmer for 10 minutes more.

Add greens and simmer for 5-10 minutes until they wilt into the soup.

Then, add taste and adjust salt and spices if necessary. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.

Salmon Quinoa Burgers
Adapted from Nourishing Meals: Healthy Gluten-Free Recipes for the Whole Family

I don’t have a food processor, so I spend time chopping, which is a process of cooking I deeply treasure. I get to smell, touch and experience my food through each step of the process.

Ingredients:
1 bunch green onions – finely diced
1 large handful green cilantro, finely chopped
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp Herbamare
1tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 jars canned salmon (I used Kenai Red Salmon)
2 cups cooked quinoa
3 eggs

coconut oil for cooking

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Form patties. Add a little of the canning fluid or more egg if the patties are not holding together well.

Heat coconut oil in a large skillet. Brown burgers on both sides.
Serve warm.

These were incredible with a little Trinidad spice blend made by our friends. So, feel free to play with spice or flavor to suit your needs and desires!

Open House

Please join us in celebrating the opening of

Soaring Crane Natural Health Center

a center for

Naturopathic and Endobiogenic Medicine

office of Dr Amy Chadwick

Thursday, November 6, 2014

5:30pm – 8:30pm

Question/Answer – Intro to Endobiogeny – 6:30 to 7:00

6480 Weathers Place, Suite 106

San Diego, CA 92121

858-332-1645

Light Refreshments and Beverages provided

Love, Joy, Gratitude, and Wonder

by Dr Amy Chadwick

A wise woman shared these four words with me recently and in the ensuing months they have become a sort of mantra, guiding my thoughts, leading me into deeper meditation, running through my mind as I walk, play or work with increasing consciousness.

It is not uncommon to hear these words during the Holiday season, a time when many people feel an increased sense of joy and wonder. There is a reason why a Christmas, unfettered by the materialistic tendencies, brings a sparkle to people’s eyes no matter their age. Christmas and Solstice have always been times of celebrating love, joy, gratitude and wonder! Powerful things happen when an entire society embraces such profound words and feelings all at once.

These four words speak directly to our hearts. They are sacred to our heart energy. By cultivating these emotions on a regular basis we have the potential to alter our entire physiology for the better, and even effect those around us, changing our community, our nation, our world.

Current research is showing that the heart itself has its own intrinsic “nervous system,” its own “brain” that communicates with the brain via the nerves, hormones, pulses and electromagnetic messages. This heart-brain can sense, feel and respond to external and internal stimuli. The heart also sends messages to all of our other organ systems, putting it at the center of the communication network between our body, mind, emotions and spirit.

When we communicate positive emotions like love, joy, gratitude and wonder directly to the heart, we have the ability to positively affect our stress responses, our intellectual abilities, our immune system, our physical health, our digestion and our mental health. We develop patterns and ways of responding that repeat themselves over and over, leaving many of us frustrated and feeling as if we must obtain everything in life through struggle. However, we can change our emotional responses and therefore our physiological responses by shifting our attention from our mind to the area around the heart and generating a sincere positive feeling state such as love, joy, gratitude or wonder.

Though this is only the tip of this topic, we can begin practicing immediately. Today as you walk the dog, wash the dishes, sit in meditation, play a game with your family, cook dinner, read email or the myriad of other things that occupy our days; take a moment and focus on the space around your heart. Perhaps, place your hand on your heart to feel its beating and focus your attention there. Take 3-4 deep, even breaths and repeat one or all four of the words: Love, Joy, Wonder, Gratitude. Then, the next time you are feeling frustrated, angry, sad or lonely, do this exercise again. As it becomes more of a habit, you will begin to generate positive emotions from your powerful and beautiful heart center. The health-giving possibilities this could generate are endless.

Even more exciting is that the heart produces an electromagnetic field, the strongest field in the body, that wraps around every cell but also extends several feet outside our bodies in all directions. Research has shown that one person’s heart signal can affect another person’s brain waves within this electromagnetic field. The more in tune we become with our heart energy, the more in tune we become with this electromagnetic field and the more sensitive we become to these subtle signals communicated by those around us. We not only have the ability to positively affect our own health and well-being through true heart-centered emotion and action, but we also have the ability to affect those we love, those we interact with on a daily basis, our local community, and it expands from there. This might be one of the most treasure Christmas gifts we can share.

So, this holiday season, may your heart be filled to the brim with LOVE, JOY, GRATITUDE and WONDER!

Dr Amy

Breathe

Dr Amy Chadwick

Smile, breathe and go slowly   ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Breathe…deeply inhale the spring air. The sun is shining, light has graced us with her presence again and the world is beginning to awake from its winter slumber. In this time of renewal…don’t forget to take a deep breath.

Humans can survive for days without food or water. But, without breath we last only minutes. Breathing is automatic, never requiring us to consciously think about it, or make it happen. So, why are we talking about it? In truth, the benefits of being conscious to our breath abound.

Conscious, slow, deep breathing calms the nervous system, supplies every cell in the body with needed oxygen, helps flush toxins from the lungs and tissues, and slows the heart rate. Yes, breathing is so much more than the simple exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide, and we have conscious control over our breath so that we can utilize it for our benefit.

A deep, slow breath depresses the diaphragm, the muscle that lies across the body between the lungs and the abdominal cavity, opening up more space for the lungs to expand. The stomach rises as the abdominal organs shift out of the way. The vagus nerve senses this diaphragmatic movement and sends a message back to the heart, lungs and nervous system, relaying there is no emergency, that the body and mind can relax. Deep, slow breathing automatically decreases heart rate and over time decreases blood pressure. Conscious breathing shuts off the fight/flight response triggered by our everyday stresses. When our body is relaxed, our brains and memory work more efficiently, our digestion is greatly improved, our inflammatory markers decrease, our immune function improves and best of all, we simply feel better.

So, how should we breathe? Good health is promoted with 100 deep breaths a day. To begin: while lying down, place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Breathe in through the nose for a count of six seconds, allowing the stomach to rise before the chest expands. Pause briefly at the end of the inhale, and then exhale slowly through the nose for another six counts, allowing the stomach to fall, and then the chest to collapse.

Breathing brings in the oxygen vital to our cells, it expels carbon dioxide and waste materials and it alleviates stress and tension.

So practice breathing with intention, eventually taking time each day while driving, working, playing with your children, working in the garden, or relaxing to breathe… 100 deep gentle, conscious breaths, allowing yourself to be present in each precious moment.

Happy breathing….Dr Amy

Spiced Apple Muffins – with Coconut Flour

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use muffin papers or grease a muffin pan with coconut oil, olive oil or butter.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp medium grind sea salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup honey

3 eggs slightly whisked

3/4 cup shredded apples (wash, and core the apples, and then shred, peel and all)

In a medium size bowl, combine the dry ingredients and briskly whisk until all lumps are removed.

Melt together coconut oil and honey on the stove top, just until melted (don’t get it too hot, otherwise it could cook your eggs prematurely). Add to the dry ingredients.

Add eggs.

Whisk until everything is well combined, and then add apple.

Divide between 10 muffin cups.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean when poked in the middle of the muffin.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and take out of a the muffin tins and serve!

Contemplations

Dr Amy Chadwick

Borlotti beans simmer in a mirepoix of celery, onions, garlic and carrots. It is a slow-cooking day; a day to be contemplative about food. Contemplative about how this food came to be, the seeds it initially grew from, where it was grown, how it was harvested and how it came to my kitchen. Contemplation on the process of preparation: cleaning, chopping, soaking, simmering. Contemplating this evening on the way the food nourishes me, filling my stomach with its warm and flavorful presence. Each protein, carbohydrate and fat as well as the myriad of vitamins and minerals present in the individual ingredients, the love, the care, the energy, the sunlight, the water, the soil, the earth, the Guiding Presence are all gathered here in this one meal to nourish and feed my body, soul and spirit in a simple Borlotti Minestrone with Arugula Pesto.

I am blessed with good food and the time today to cook, to be present with my food and with own body and health. Some days are not as relaxed, and I do not have the hours of food preparation to really be conscious. However, I strive in each moment to be contemplative. What does it mean to be contemplative? Does being contemplative play any important role in our health?

I am certain that living contemplatively is at the root of true wellness; a healthy body, mind and spirit. The dictionary defines the word contemplative as 1. concentration on spiritual things as a form of private devotion, 2. a state of mystical awareness of God’s being or 3. an act of considering with attention. 16th century mystic, St. John of the Cross, wrote: “Human health depends on the continuous awareness of God’s presence.” All of nature and of ourselves is influenced by spirit, making each moment a contemplative possibility. Contemplative practices abound, reminding us to pay attention. This is not purely a spiritual or religious practice. It is a way of life, where we pay attention to each moment, where are are deeply conscious and intentional about our thoughts, our conversations, our actions, our food and our play. This does not mean we are serious or withdrawn. We do not have to live the life of a monk in order to live contemplatively, although in some ways a life withdrawn from the chaos of the world makes the contemplative life less challenging. With practice and attention, we can be engaged in our lives, loving our families, taking pride in our work, laughing and playing with friends. In fact, I believe that with a contemplative life, we can be infinitely present and engaged, fully conscious and able to gather all the blessings abundant in our lives.

With consciousness of our food, we make decisions that nurture our bodies with proper nutrients, satisfying flavors, and enjoyment. We eat an appropriate amount with attention; we do not live hungry nor do we stuff ourselves. We choose whole foods that have a life force still present in them, for in our core, if we listen, we can feel the nourishment present in real food and nonexistent in processed food so prevalent in our society.

Living contemplatively does not come naturally to most of us. I am definitely a work in progress, and my meditation practice is only in its infancy, but I am practicing, learning and striving for this peace and this awareness in my own life. Through regular meditation, through slow eating, through cooking my food, through regular healthy practices like conscious breathing, exercise, time with friends and family and a presence with my work, I slowly grow as a contemplative human being. I fail often. I get caught up in the chaos. I speak unkindly. I eat something with no thought, with no nutrition and with no healing capacity. I get distracted. I become self-centered. I hurt myself and others. But, I am challenging myself to be aware and to practice the tools necessary to assist me in being more and more contemplative.

I truly believe the rewards of a contemplative life are without end. I am challenging my patients to also make a daily effort to practice contemplation, whether it is with five conscious breaths, a commitment to a conscious and aware exercise plan, to cooking one meal a week with full awareness to the foods being used, to the flavors and to the way it makes you feel as you nourish your physical body, or to a practice of meditation and prayer. In contemplation, we are able to experience life with all its richness, power, beauty and grace.

Contentment

Dr Amy Chadwick

In pondering what to write about this season, I kept returning to the concept of contentment. However, I also found myself deeply blocked in my writing. I attempted to find quotations to inspire me, and instead found an astonishing number of quotations that discussed contentment as a means of apathy, as an excuse for poor productivity, synonymous with laziness. In our productivity-driven world, it has somehow been determined that a content soul is one not useful to society; that only in discontent are we driven to succeed. My heart screams that this is not true.

My experience of contentment is vastly different than these commonly held beliefs and yet, I struggle deeply with finding and maintaining true contentment in my life. The Holiday season makes this only more apparent, as our culture goes into hyperdrive to ease our discontent through food, alcohol, purchasing, entertaining, even giving. None of these are inherently the problem. The issue is the motivation behind the action. Are we driven by a deep seated discontent, are we able to love, serve, play, laugh and revel in our world because we are content?

With true contentment, we are filled with wonder, abundant with gratitude and from this overflowing cup, we give, we serve, we play, we enjoy life, friends and family without agenda or attachment. Contentment allows us to take pleasure in what we have and what we are, even life’s simplest offerings. It frees us from envy and longing and so makes us generous.

Through my own struggle with discontent, I enter this season contemplating and pondering the concept of contentment, what it truly means in my life, and how I go about cultivating it each day. I will be writing more on what daily practices cultivate contentment, gratitude and wonder and will share on our blog from time to time through this year. I invite you to join this conversation and this journey.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. – Thornton Wilder

Jasmine Rice with Seven Vegetables

(adapted from Wolfert’’s Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco)

  • ½ stick of butter (or 4 T. olive oil)
  • 4-5 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 T salt
  • about a cupful each of five other vegetables, peeled as needed and chopped into bite-sized pieces: zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, carrots, turnips, kohlrabi, cabbage, eggplant, butternut squash
  • 1 T. freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of saffron (optional and expensive, but good)
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp. Ground cardamom
  • 1 hot chili pepper, minced (optional)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks or 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 1 handful raisins
  • 1 handful chopped flat-leafed parsley
  • about 1 quart of vegetable stock or water
  • 1 handful chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/2 cups Rice

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the spices, onions, herbs, and tomatoes. Cook, stirring until the onions soften. Add the five other vegetables, optional chili, garbanzos, raisins and stock or water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the toughest vegetables (likely the carrots) are tender.

Prepare the rice. However, instead of using plain water, ladle the appropriate amount of broth out to the vegetable stew.

Spread the cooked rice on a large platter or serving bowl. Using a slotted spoon to drain most of the liquid, mound the vegetable stew atop the rice. Serve the remaining broth on the side as soup if you like, garnished with chopped herbs and lemon wedges.

If you want to add meat, brown it in the butter with the spices before adding the vegetables.

Food…Food…Food…

by Dr Amy Chadwick, ND

This spring, I find myself thinking a lot about food. Every treatment plan I put together for a patient begins with a discussion of what to eat and what not to eat, possibly how much to eat, where to get this food, what makes some foods better for us, some worse. And, it often strikes me as incredibly odd and disturbing that we have to think so much about what to eat. When did food become so complicated that it takes a doctor, or a book, or a team of researchers to sort it out for us?

To answer this question that seems to be plaguing our society and our well-being, we have to first look at what is food? Our grocery stores are crammed with food-like items, giving the illusion that our options are limitless and our omnivorous diets can be fully satisfied with an abundant variety. Add to this the health claims in bold colorful letters and one would be led to believe we have the healthiest diets in the history of humanity.

However, diet related illnesses abound, obesity is on the rise, and it seems we spend much more time talking about and worrying about which foods or food-like items to eat or avoid and less and less time truly enjoying our meals, experiencing food with gratitude and pleasure.

Michael Pollan in his more recent book, In Defense of Food, recommends “Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Vegetables.” Seems simple and wise, doesn’t it. But, he wrote a 200+ page book describing just how to go about this simple task. In summary, Michael offers the following guidelines for determining what is food in the grocery store – food that will nourish, support and vitalize our bodies.

✦ Number 1: Avoid food products containing ingredients that are A) unfamiliar, B) unpronounceable, C) more than five in number, or that include D) high fructose corn syrup.

✦ Number 2: Avoid food products that make health claims.

✦ Number 3: Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle or even better

✦ Number 4: Get out of the supermarket whenever possible and buy from farmers markets, local farms, and CSAs.

In 1960, Americans spent 17.5% of their income on food and 5.2% of national income on health care. Since then, those numbers have flipped: Spending on food has fallen to 9.9%, while spending on health care has climbed to 16% of national income. We eat more processed, pre-packaged foods, spend less time at the table with our families, eat many more meals in the car or on the go, and spend more time, money and energy worrying about our weight and our health. For most people, for most of history, gathering and preparing food has been an occupation at the very heart of daily life. Now, it is something we do in passing.

We have lost our connection to food, and with this, we have lost much of our connection to nature and to our own bodies. Food is nourishment, food is pleasure, food is culture and community. Food is agriculture. Food is life. In order to honor this, we must get out of the grocery store. We must be connected and in order to do this, we must shorten our food chain.

My challenge for you this spring is to get connected, find “local” sources of food, shorten your food chain, and hang out in your kitchen smelling and cooking food, eating with your families and friends. If we eat locally, from sustainable resources, we are automatically improving the nutrition of our food, whether or not the farm is strictly organic. Farmers in our community are connected to soil, to life and to food. By buying local or as local as possible, we expand our awareness, we support our community and we gain benefit from healthy whole foods.

Some suggestions for beginning this process:

✦ Join a CSA (community supported agriculture). This is a great way to try out new vegetables and recipes. Eggs, chickens and some meats are available through local farmers as well.

✦ Shop the local farmers market for produce, eggs, and more. Yes, CSAs, local farms and farmers markets may take a little more money and a little more effort, but remembering that this expenditure is a vote for health, both personal and global, makes the extra cost seem like an awfully worthy way to shift the budget.

✦ Plant a garden, or at least plant a few herbs in a sunny window. Watch your food grow and enjoy the fun of preparing a wholesome meal with your own herbs and produce.

✦ Increase the number of times you sit down as a family for a wholesome meal, and discuss where your food comes from. Honor the incredible bounty of nature, the work of the farmer, and the creativity of the cook as well as the mystery of your own digestion and utilization of all that is healthy and good in whole food.

May you enjoy great food this Spring.

Magic Socks: Make Your Winter Colds Disappear

by Amy E Chadwick, ND

If there is magic on the planet, it is contained in the water. Loren Eisley

Why would anyone put cold, wet socks on their feet and jump into bed? Because their doctor told them to!

Indeed the ‘magic sock’ treatment is just one form of an easy home-health hydrotherapy remedy that promote healthy circulation, make a fever efficient, decrease head congestion, improve sleep, and – most importantly – help the body heal.

Hydrotherapy – or, using water for soothing pains and treating disease – may be the oldest form of medical treatment. Recorded in ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations, hydrotherapy is also one of the primary modalities in Naturopathic Medicine. Basically, hydrotherapy uses water as a medium for heat and cold to enhance the body’s ability to heal. Sounds simple but – how does this really work?

Health and healing is proportional to the normal flow of healthy blood in the body. More than just soothing a sore muscle or decreasing swelling, water treatments affect the quality of circulating blood. That is, heat and cold transferred to the body via water enhances blood flow through the organs of elimination – such as the skin, liver, kidney and bowels. Detoxification (and thereby improvement of the blood) thus takes place. In addition to improving blood quality by eliminating undesirable waste products, water treatments can also help enrich the blood by increasing oxygen, nutrients, red cells, and white cells. In short, naturopathic hydrotherapy works because it optimizes the quality of blood while improving the efficiency of its circulation.

Heat and cold applied to the skin affect peripheral circulation via dilating or constricting peripheral blood vessels. When peripheral blood vessels are dilated, they become a reservoir for blood, reducing the load on the heart. When they are constricted, blood is returned to the heart faster. Therefore, through the use of hot and cold water, circulation and metabolism are optimized, the immune system is primed and ready to fight disease, and the body detoxifies itself gently and appropriately. 1830’s Hydrotherapist Frederick Erdman stated “the rate of the flow of the blood determines the state of nutrition and the functioning of every cell in the body.”

Blood makes up approximately 8 percent of total body weight. Lymph fluid makes up approximately 3 percent of the total body weight. The blood carries oxygen, nutrients and immune cells to the peripheral tissues. Waste products are returned via the blood to the liver, the kidneys and the lymph. Lymph is the body’s garbage system. Each cell in the body dumps the waste of the day into the lymph, which is circulated back to the heart and then to the liver, kidneys and digestive tract to be excreted. The lymph also circulates through the lymph nodes where white blood cells hang out scanning for foreign objects which might cause disease, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. Healthy lymphatic flow is essential for a strong immune system and for detoxification. Because hydrotherapy works primarily on blood and lymph, it is a very powerful tool for health.

All of us have experienced some form of hydrotherapy in our lives; sitting in a steam bath or sauna; exercising in a swimming pool; taking a warm bath; inhaling steam; putting an ice pack on a sprained ankle; playing in the sprinkler; or even something so simple as drinking a glass of water. While some of these things we may have done for the specific purpose of health and well-being, others we did just for fun. Sometimes hydrotherapy even occurs ‘accidentally’ – such as a cold shock of water in the shower as hot water is directed to another sink in the house. When used intentionally, however, hydrotherapy is a powerful tool for treating acute illness, assisting in the reversal of chronic disease and helping to prevent disease and maintain wellness.

Northern cultures are well known for their uses of hydrotherapy. In Scandinavian countries, the sauna is a staple of most homes. Native Alaskans also use steam baths for bathing, social interaction, relaxation and health. The word ‘sauna’ means the act of exposing your body to hot steam followed by cold water. Sauna can also denote a room or hollow in which to experience the hot steam. The application of moist heat and cold water stimulates the immune system, primes the circulation, and calms the nervous system. We in Alaska would be wise to learn from our northern friends and incorporate hydrotherapy into our daily routine!

Some simple home hydrotherapy techniques designed to help you through winter cold and flu season are described below. When trying these techniques, however, please remember that each person is individual in his or her state of wellness and response to treatment. So, let your body be your guide. If a treatment does not feel right, stop and seek help from a physician or healer familiar with hydrotherapy.

Magic Sock Treatment:

Indications: Use at the first sign of a head or chest cold, earache, headache, sinus congestion, and/or fever. This can also improve sleep, especially during an upper respiratory infection. This is a wonderful – and fun – treatment for kids!

Contraindications: Don’t use in babies under 4 months of age or on someone with poor circulation unless directed by a doctor.

Equipment:

Large tub or bucket to soak feet, filled with warm water (see instructions)

One pair thin cotton socks (do not use acrylic or polyester!)

One pair thick wool socks

Small bowl of icy water

Towel

Instructions:

  1. Warm the feet. This can be done by soaking the feet in tolerably hot/warm water until the skin is pink (about 5-10 minutes). While care should be taken no to burn the skin or cause any discomfort, it is very important that the feet are very warm before continuing. This will greatly increase the effectiveness of the treatment and prevent possible harm.
  2. While warming the feet, soak a pair of light cotton socks in icy cold water.
  3. When feet are warm, use a towel to dry completely.
  4. Take cold-soaked socks out of water and wring out well.
  5. Put cold socks on dry, warm feet.
  6. Quick, pull a pair of thick, wool socks over the cold socks.
  7. Go to bed. Be sure to cover up well and don’t get chilled. You will find your feet warm up very quickly and the socks will be ‘magically’ dry by morning, if not sooner.
  8. Repeat at least 3 nights in a row for an optimum positive effect on the immune system.

Alternatives: You can use this same principle to create a warming compress for the throat or the chest. Again, make sure the skin is warm. Place a well wrung-out cold t-shirt or towel over the affected region of the body and cover with wool. Avoid getting chilled by curling up in a blanket or snuggling into bed.

Cold Water Rinse:

Indications: This is a general immune and circulation tonic that help prevent colds and flus.

Instructions: End your hot shower, sauna or bath each day with a cool/cold rinse. The more contrast in temperatures, the stronger the treatment. So, start with less contrast and work up as you become stronger and healthier.

Remember: optimum healing comes to us in many ways – through water in all its abundance and affordability; through clean air, simple foods, movement and laughter; and, through a connection to spirit. May the powers of water bring you health this winter!

 

Photo credit: http://www.kodinkuvalehti.fi

Pumpkin Pie with Coconut Milk

  • 2 Tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup coconut milk.

Prick the crust with a fork in several places and bake at 450 for 10 minutes.

Mix the filling ingredients in a blender and pour into the slightly baked crust.

Bake for 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. A knife inserted in the center should come out clean.

Note: Be sure your spices are gluten free. This is a recipe you can play with to get just the way you like it.

New Year Intentions: Peace

As we enter the New Year, I felt inspired to fold origami Peace Cranes. I bought origami paper, typed “peace crane” into Google and looked up the directions. I had a goal. I wanted to fold cranes to adorn the ceiling in the exam room. The origami crane has become an international symbol of peace and is a beautiful gift to anyone in need of healing, of repose. I also knew the process could offer a contemplative exercise, and so I began. I folded my first crane as I watched the directions online and read a blog by Susannah Conway, a photographer and writer, on setting a word intention for the upcoming year.( http://www.susannahconway.com/2011/12/the-word-3/) She described choosing a word to embody the journey of the year ahead, to cultivate a greater awareness. Her word for 2012 was brave.

In sanskrit, Sankalpa means intention. We are encouraged to set a sankalpa for each time we step on the mat, for each time we step off the mat and in these culturally auspicious transitions, to set a sankalpa for the year ahead. As I folded cranes, I mulled over what my word could be.

Meanwhile, I also checked facebook over and over, read email, experienced angst over the other plans or tasks I had intended for my day. I craved chocolate. I experienced delight and sadness as my thoughts rambled in a myriad of directions, from relationships to internal struggles, my spiritual journey, my yoga practice, business, what to make for dinner, my dog’s arthritis, beauty of the fresh snow, a new medical diagnosis in a family member… oh, the list could go on. And, in all of that I wondered, “what is my word for the year?” What is my sankalpa? What do I want to cultivate? I am seeking a deep alignment with my Core Essence, with the Divine; but even my practice, my reading, my meditation and my contemplation for this eventual enlightenment has been fraught with unrest, with a sense of urgency, with a frustration when my actions or my words do not align with my deeper beliefs and values.

Often asked why the clinic is named Soaring Crane, I have had many different answers, and the answers have changed over the years. Cranes are symbols of longevity, health, and peace. They are a symbol in Alaska of the change of the seasons as they fill the skies and fields with their dance and song. The name resonates deeply within my being as a symbol for my own journey. However, during this reflective time between Christmas and New Year, the longing for peace experienced at the very core of my being grows and expands with a fiery impetus and I recognize this is why, this year, the clinic is named what it is, why I fold cranes, and what I need to cultivate most. There is my word!

Peace! What I deeply desire is peace. Peace with myself. Gentle, loving, compassionate, nurturing peace. I desire to seek spiritual and personal growth from a place of beauty and fullness, rather than from a “need” to fix myself. Peace. Peace in my relationships. Being able to see all beings as manifestations of the Divine, and as reflections of myself, with no judgement, with clear boundaries, but with pure compassion. Peace. Peace in my career, financial status, goals, teaching, writing, hobbies. Letting go of the anxiety, the frantic movement from one thing to another and reposing in each moment, full of wonder, open to the limitless possibilities available in the next moment. Peace. Peace in my actions. Finding the space around my emotions to rest, to wait, to speak from a place of deep alignment with truth. Peace! Santi (shan-tee)!

And, so, I fold cranes. I contemplate peace. I explore the myriad ways in which peace could suffuse my life and I invite peace. I breathe. I breathe into the taste, smell, sensation, experience, and the space around the peace. I know there is even more beyond my current experience, my current state. I stop writing, feeling the urgency to share, and I go to sit with peace.

May your year be suffused with peace. I invite you to set an intention, a word that carries you forward this year; intention imbued with love, compassion, and joy!

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shantih

Beetroot Hummus

A vibrant alternative to traditional hummus.  

  • 2-3 Raw Beets
  • 1 Clove of Garlic, unpeeled
  • A Small Bunch of Thyme
  • A Drizzle of Olive Oil
  • 100g Cooked Chickpeas
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 200. Peel and Quarter the beets and wrap in a tin foil parcel with the garlic, thyme and a drizzle of olive oil. Cook for about 45 minutes or until the beetroot is tender. Allow to cool slightly.

Place the cumin seeds in a frying pan and gently dry fry until they start to release their aroma.

Remove the thyme and place the beets and peeled garlic in a food processor or blender along with the chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Process until it forms a fairly smooth puree. Add the cumin seeds and just blitz a couple of times; then season to taste.

Almond Flour Crackers

Grain free. Create your own favorite flavors. Dip away!

  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP fresh thyme or rosemary
  • 3 TBSP water
  • Olive oil
  • Sesame seeds, garlic, parmesan (optional)

Combine first three ingredients and slowly add in water until dough sticks together but isn’t too moist. Form into a big patty and place on a piece of parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment on top and using a rolling pin, roll dough flat to cracker height. Remove top layer of parchment and place bottom parchment (with dough) on a baking sheet. Score dough with a knife or pizza cutter to make cracker shapes. Optional: Brush with olive oil and sprinkle seeds, garlic or parmesan. Place in 350F degree oven for 10-30 minutes depending on oven and thickness of cracker or until golden brown.

Makes about 20 crackers

Adapted from Roost: A Simple Life. www.roostblog.com

Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Seeds

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 3/4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 2-pound butternut squash, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 3/4 cup water or vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 large handfuls baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  1. Put the quinoa in a bowl and cover it with cool water. Rub it between your hands and pour off most of the water. Add fresh water and repeat two or three times, until the water runs clear. Drain thoroughly in a fine-meshed strainer. Set the strainer over a bowl until you are ready to cook the quinoa.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large (4 to 5-quart) pot. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until it begins to soften. Stir in the chili powder and the squash and cook, stirring every so often, for 3 more minutes. Add the drained quinoa, water or stock and salt. Bring the liquid to a boil, adjust the heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, set a small plate next to the stove. Pour a few drops (about 1/2 teaspoon) of olive oil into a small skillet. Heat the oil over medium heat and add the pumpkin seeds. Stir and shake the pan until the pumpkin seeds turn from green to olive to slightly golden brown. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and immediately scrape them onto the awaiting plate.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and add the spinach and cranberries. Cover the pot and let rest in a warm place for 10 minutes. Mix and fluff up the grains with a fork. Serve sprinkled with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Saying Yes, Saying No

Clouds roll in, snow creeps down the mountain, leaves depart the trees to nurture the soil through the frozen winter, and my thoughts turn to transition. Fall draws me inward to speculation, to evaluation of what is serving me well on my journey and what I may need to let go of in order to thrive. Fall also draws me back to the kitchen, to the warm, nurturing aroma of slow-cooked stews and curries, baked fruit, roasted root vegetables, and occasionally a batch of pumpkin muffins.

When it comes to food, transition is essential but at times challenging. Eating seasonally provides us with necessary energetic and physical nourishment. However, transition also sometimes means giving up a food that is not serving us well and finding new foods and activities to nourish our bodies and spirits.

When first asked to change, to confront an issue in our lives that may not be serving us well, we often resist. And, resistance produces angst. Changing our diet may be one of the most difficult and resistant prone changes we face.

Saying yes in the midst of that initial angst is not easy work, but if approached from the perspective of sinking in, finding our true essence and then opening our heart to the fullness of yes… truth resides there. Using the inherent turning in energy of Fall, this season allows us to explore each of the arenas in our life for what is serving us well and what would be better left behind.

How do we explore this? Find the places where you feel yourself in line with your core essence. For me, I most easily contact my true essence in meditation, in nature, through music, through movement, through art, through thoughtful and meaningful relationship. Then, find the places you shut off… For many of us, fear is the number one emotion that closes us off to our truth. How many actions and decisions come from a place of fear?

I invite you to explore the ‘what if’s’ of saying yes. What does it mean to you to say yes to life, in this moment, with a full and open heart? What state of emotion and being comes from that presence? What could the change before you bring to your life? What will it allow you to explore, to learn? What space may be created if you say yes to fully being alive and present and saying no to anything that does not allow this full presence of being to exist? May you thrive, fully alive in this moment as you explore your yes and your no.

Italian Sausage and Wild Rice Stuffed Chard

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chard or kale variety
  • 2 cups cooked wild rice
  • 1 cup italian sausage (or 1 lb moose burger, fennel, red pepper flakes, garlic – mixed and let sit in the refrigerator overnight)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh minced herbs (rosemary, oregano, sage)
  • 4 fresh tomatoes (thickly sliced) (optional)
  • 2 cups stock
  • 1/4 cup freshly shredded parmigiano – reggiano

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350
Mix sausage, onion, garlic, pepper, herbs and rice, combining till gently mixed. Bring a large pot with 2 quarts heavily salted water to a boil. Remove from heat.
Make an ice bath in another bowl by adding ice cubes to cold water.
Holding the chard leaves by their stems, dunk them in the hot water quickly and then plunge directly into the cold water. Place in a colander to drain.

Place a few chard or kale leaves on the bottom of a 9×13 casserole or baking pan to keep stuffed leaves from sticking.
On a flat surface, lay out one green leaf at a time. Place 2-4 heaping tablespoons of sausage mixture in the center and wrap into a small burrito and place in pan. Place tomato slices on the top in a single layer.
Add stock to form a 1/4’’ layer in the pan.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 hour.
Remove foil, turn oven up to 400 and sprinkle with parmigiano.
Cook until brown and bubbling, another 10-15 minutes.
Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

 

 

Home Cough Syrup

1 Tbl honey
1 tsp vinegar or lemon juice

Optional…if you have them and for stronger effect:
1-2 drops peppermint extract
1 /2 – 1 tsp horseradish

Mix into a cup of hot water. Take 1 tsp as needed to soothe a cough.

Winter Cold/Flu Prevention

‘Tis the season for the cold and flu. Busy schedules, weather fluctuations, everyone cooped up inside – all contribute to increased exposure to germs.

Remember, getting an acute illness like a cold or flu a couple times a year is not a sign of poor health. In fact, your recovery from minor illnesses exercises your immune system and may help prevent auto-immune disease in your life.

  • Some tips for preventing or getting over that cold or flu quickly:
  • Wash hands
  • Rest/Sleep well
  • Eat nutritious, whole foods
  • Eat warming foods (ginger, garlic)
  • Avoid sugar and processed foods
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Play, Laugh, Breathe Deeply
  • Get outside
  • Take Vitamin D – see your doctor about how much you should be taking.

If you feel yourself getting a cold:

  • Eat simply – broths, rice, vegetables and water. Give your digestive system a rest.
  • Avoid sugar completely
  • Magic Socks at night
  • Epsom Salt Bath
  • Echinacea at the first sign of a cold
  • Nasal lavage/Neti pot for sinus drainage
  • Salt water gargles for a sore throat

Lentil & Sausage Soup

1 TBSP olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, diced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 lb organic sausage
2 bay leaves
12 cups chicken stock
2 cups uncooked lentils, rinsed
10 ounces fresh greens (kale, chard, spinach, etc)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, and fennel.
Cook until soft and golden, about 5 minutes.
Add the raw sausage and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring often to break up the sausage.  Add the bay leaves and stock.  Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Add the lentils. Simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes (until lentils soften).
— adapted from the Whole Foods Cookbook