Death and Rebirth

Death and Rebirth

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The Life/Death/Life nature is a cycle of animation, development, decline and death that is always followed by re-animation. This cycle affects all life and all facets of psychological life. Everything – the sun, novas and the moon as well as the affairs of humans and those of the tiniest creatures, cells and atoms alike – have this fluttering, then faltering, then fluttering again.

– Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With The Wolves

I look at an empty page, a blank canvas of possibility. I bring my fingers to the keyboard and they tap tap tap nervously as my mind grasps for a sliver of inspiration. All at once it occurs to me – I haven’t written a single word in over 18 months.

Much of the time I’ve spent away from writing has been spent swimming in a deep sea of pain. It’s the most profound pain I’ve felt, the deepest sense of loss I’ve known. Some feel pain like this and they shrivel up; they stop relating to others; they hide away and try to make sense of it. What the fuck does it all mean? How can I give of myself when I feel so destroyed and lost inside my own heart, my own mind? Others use that pain as fuel for a bottomless well of creativity. I’ve always found myself to be a part of the former category. Even now I find it difficult to express wounds into words. What I think I’ve come away with in this dark hour of my being is this: death begets life. All that pain – all that suffering – it was simply deeply ingrained parts of me falling away. It was mind numbingly painful. At times I didn’t think I could withstand it. I nearly lost one of my most important relationships in the midst of the anguish. I see now – it was a great blessing. Today I feel new -reborn. From that desolation I’ve learned an incalculable lesson that will guide me in my journey until my very last breath.

I am becoming keenly aware of life’s intrinsic need for death. I have a gorgeous banana plant in my home – browning leaves need to be removed in order for new growth to sprout. The plant as a whole is much healthier for the pruning. Mature flowers on a rose bush need to be picked to make way for new budding life, berries need to be plucked, and so on and so forth. To hold on to the dying parts of our selves is a useless practice in vanity. I fought that truth for along time. No more. Shedding that old, dry skin has left me lighter and more able to see my own divinity – my own bright light.

A few of the most important things I have recently released:

  1. My need to be perfect – I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now. All of my flaws, all of my short comings are perfect opportunities for reflection and a deep dive toward inner knowing – a step on the path of realizing myself as a fully embodied human. If I can get cozy in my quirks and learn to love ALL of me then I can really begin to release that which does not serve me. Fighting against something is the surest way to make it bigger and stronger. Until that sweet moment when you’ve really learned and moved through a life lesson and integrated it into your life – you are presented with the same challenge over and over and over again. This will always be the reality. Bottom line? Stop fighting myself and embrace it all. The utter shit, the pure bliss and the monotony.
  2. My need to be right – My ego sure loves to win. She fears losing (being wrong) so much that she will go as low as to hurt others, just to save herself from the agony. I am getting to know my ego on a more intimate level and realize that I have endless compassion for her. How sad to be constantly measuring yourself against others, to feel so insecure that you are always trying to prove your worth. In the past I have fought against my ego. I’ve even tried to disengage from it entirely. I told myself that If I could just let go of my ego I could achieve enlightenment. I know now that is impossible. If I am to be a human being on this earth then my ego will always be a part of my journey. Without it I am not an individual, I become a part of the whole again or in essence, I die. So to be alive and to be human means to dance with the light and shadow sides of the ego. So, today I welcome her AND yet – I do not let her control me. Because when does stubbornness and being right help the spirit to shine and grow? I choose to be open to the possibility of the moment and to the truth that I still, and always will, have A LOT to learn.
  3. My need for everyone to like me – I need to like me. That’s it. If I truly accept myself then others will accept me too – and if they don’t? They will move along down the road and so will I. Life in this vessel is too short to waste precious moments trying to prove my worth to anyone. I can’t even begin to express how good the integration of this truth feels. It has taken over a decade of work to get here. Not sure what clicked exactly – but I’m grateful it did. LIBERATION!!
  4. That I have nothing of value to share – I am unique. There is no other person on the planet that is my exact equal. No one else has lived my life. Everything I have to say is special simply because it comes from my unique vantage point. I do not need years of schooling and accolades from others to measure my worth. I have been so scared to speak my mind and share my truth in fear of it not being interesting enough or backed by enough degrees. FUCK THAT. I have much to share and I am done waiting.

So here I am world! Get ready to hear more from me. I hope to hear from all of you too because our ability to connect, understand and empathize with one another is one of the most valuable aspects of being in this human body. I LOVE YOU!

 

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Raw Chia Cardamom Cocoroons

Raw Chia Cardamom Cocoroons

I love cookies. Who doesn’t right? If they weren’t so void of nutrition I’d likely be popping them all day. I used to be able to eat like that. In fact I used to eat so poorly that I’m surprised I didn’t have a coronary by my senior year.

In high school, I’d polish off an entire medium sized dominoes pizza for dinner and about 10-12 chips ahoy cookies for dessert. All.by.my.self. This was only after my McDonalds breakfast of 2 egg, cheese and ham McMuffins with 2 hash browns and my lunch of a double quarter pounder with cheese with a large fry and soda.

Yes… I’m serious. I ate like that nearly every day until I was 18. I was an active teen, playing water polo and swimming and I have good genes so I never gained any weight, regardless of the fact that I rarely ingested anything green or with much fiber. Although I didn’t get fat externally, my organs were obviously bearing the brunt of the abuse. I suffered from rampant infections; bladder, kidney and yeast, had intense heart palpitations, crippling headaches and I was sick 6-8 times a year. All the while I was never able to connect the dots. I had no idea that what I was putting into my body was affecting my health. Nutrition finally came to my rescue after highschool. I became a more aware individual in every facet of my life; I started reading more, expanding my consciousness and quickly concluded that I would die if I kept eating this way. I completely changed my diet for good by age 22, cutting out soda, fast food and gluten and I’ve never looked back. Now when I crave cookies, I make my own.

These little babies are bursting with healthy fats, fiber, phosphorus, calcium and manganese. They are still cookies and calorically dense so try your hardest not to eat the whole batch in one sitting. I managed to keep my hand out of the cookie jar after my first two. My little one was not fond of my restraint. She unarmed all of her big guns in trying to get cookie after cookie into her little hands. She’s a master manipulator, this one. She should really teach lessons in ‘getting what you want.’

Now that I’m a mama, I hope that I can strike a balance between guiding my daughter on her own path of healthy eating and letting her indulge once in awhile. Forbidding things seems to be the surest way to get children fixated on them.  Plus, I believe that life is about pleasure. These cookies allow my girl to satisfy her sweet tooth all while I inject her with some much needed nutrition. Everybody wins. 😊

Raw Chia Cardamom Cocoroons

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Ingredients – Makes about 12 golf ball sized cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup coconut butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • Seeds from one cardamom pod, grinder

Process

  1. Grind cardamom seeds in spice or coffee grinder
  2. Throw all ingredients in a food processor and process for a few seconds, until batter starts to stick together
  3. Press batter into little macaroon sized balls (or whatever shape tickles your fancy)
  4. Enjoy a few now with a hot cup of tea and save the rest in an air tight container for future taste bud pleasing

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XO ~ Sam

Raw Energy Balls

Raw Energy Balls

The clan and I have been doing quite a lot of traveling around these last few weeks. Moving, visiting friends, flying to LA to spend a few days with my family, driving to the beach an hour away for some fun in the sun… all of our little excursions require that we have handy sustenance for the road. Fruit and nuts are our go to car snacks but sometimes it’s nice to have a special treat to nosh on to make that hour fly by more quickly. 

These bite sized date balls are that perfect special treat. They are sweet enough to feel like an indulgence yet healthy enough to gobble up 6 of them without feeling those all too familiar pangs of regret. I whipped these up in just under 5 minutes. How groovy is that? Groovier than bell bottoms that hug John Travolta’s perfectly sculpted butt in Saturday Night Fever, I reckon. 😉 

You can dress these up with any of your favorite extras. I rolled a few of them in raw cacao powder for an elegant antioxidant boost. You could dip them in melted chocolate if you wanted a more decadent dessert ball. I found that these satisfied my ever present sweet tooth just fine as is.

Raw Energy Balls

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup Dates
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Process

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor 
  2. Process until ingredients are finely chopped and starting to stick together
  3. Roll into bite sized balls and decorate however tickles your proverbial pickle. DSC_1033

XO ~ Sam

Raw Lemon Cheesecake Bites with Coconut Whipped Cream

Raw Lemon Cheesecake Bites with Coconut Whipped Cream

Flexibility is the personality trait that I covet most. Luckily, I am offered opportunities to practice my ability to be flexible nearly every day. Every morning I am armed with a list of my very best intentions and by the end of the day life has undoubtedly gotten in the way, repeatedly. Intentions are good, even necessary to create the things we want but without the ability to bend with the winds of change, we will find ourselves fighting a losing battle against the reality of the moment. Okay, I think I’m done waxing poetic for now. 🙂 I only bring this up because I started out intending to make a lemon caramel shortbread cookie bar, don’t even ask me what that is because I don’t know, never had one. All I know is it sounded good in my brain, so I went to work on gettin’ ‘er done. Without divulging the literally messy details, I’ll just say, it wasn’t my finest creation. Instead of scratching the whole thing and wasting expensive ingredients, I decided to go with the flow. I let my unsuccessful concoction tell me what it yearned to be. ‘Lemon Cheesecake Bite’ it whispered softly. When food talks to me, I listen. Don’t you?

Armed with my new game plan, I threw some cashews in hot water to soak, processed them in and 30 minutes later was delighting in my succulent lemon cheesecake batter. As totally scrumptious as it was, I decided a light whipped cream would really bring it all together. Oh boy, did this ‘mistake’ ever turn into a triumph. Thank you universe for yet another opportunity to practice my ability to change course when needed. This time I have some seriously rockin’ treats to show for it.

Raw Lemon Cheesecake Bites
Crust ~

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2/3 cup walnuts
  • 2/3 cup dates

Process

  1. Process all ingredients in a food processor until they form a sticky dough
  2. Press into the bottom of bread loaf pan, making a 1/2 inch crust
  3. Place pan in freezer to set for 30 minutes

Filling ~

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup cashews soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 6 dates soaked in 1/2 cup water for 30 minutes
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest, more for topping
  • 3 tbsp mesquite powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Process

  1. Drain cashews and place with all other ingredients including date water in a high speed blender
  2. Blend until consistency is smooth and creamy
  3. Pour filling on top of crust and spread out evenly
  4. Place back in the freezer for 6 hours or more
  5. Once set, using a shot glass, press little circular bites out of your ‘cake’ and top with whipped cream and lemon zest.
  6. Enjoy immediately!

Coconut Whipped Cream ~

Ingredients

  • Coconut cream from 1 can of coconut milk.
  • 1 tbsp psyllium husk
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Process

  1. Refrigerate the coconut milk overnight or in a pinch, throw can in the freezer for an hour or so. Without tipping or shaking the can, remove from refrigerator/freezer and open immediately. Scoop out the cream from the top of the can which should have separated from the coconut milk underneath it
  2. Place this cream along with all other ingredients into a cold mixing bowl
  3. Using a beater, whip ingredients together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes
  4. Serve immediately on top of cheesecake bite, top with lemon zest
  5. Keep in a sealed container in the fridge

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No bake Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

No bake Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Happy Sunday all! Oh what an immensely luxurious weekend I’ve had. My daughter spent the last 2 days with Grandma so the hubby and I got to indulge in adult time. We watched a movie in the theater yesterday. I don’t even remember the last time I saw a movie, out of my robe, off of the couch, without a baby on my lap. We ate lunch at our favorite Pho spot in Oakland and then we just walked around the city leisurely… all day. I left my phone at home and didn’t even acknowledge it’s existence for a whole 24 hours. It was AMAZING. Being completely disconnected gave me such a lovely internal reset. I feel renewed, rejuvenated. I’m so ready to see my beautiful girl in a few hours but it’s been oh so invigorating to connect with my husband like this again. 🙂

On to my super yummy recipe- Thursday night I got to have one of my best friends over for dinner. She lives in Tahoe so I don’t see nearly enough of her. She is one of those special people that everyone adores. She’s down to earth while simultaneously frolicking among the clouds. She’s fun, she’s quirky, she’s outlandish, her heart is as vast as the grand canyon. I love her so and she loves pumpkin pie… so when she told me she was coming I knew I would recreate my raw pumpkin pie cheesecake for her. This time, I made sure to take a few photos before devouring it. 😉

Raw Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Crust ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots soaked in 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • Seeds of 1 cardamom pod – ground in a coffee grinder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

Filling ingredients

  • 2 cans pumpkin purée
  • 2 cups cashews soaked in water
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp melted ghee (use coconut oil to make vegan)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Process

  1. After soaking dried apricots for an hour or so place both the apricots and the water in a food processor with all other crust ingredients and process until the mixture starts to stick together
  2. Press ‘dough’ into the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan to form a crust/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/712/73322791/files/2014/12/img_4754.jpg
  3. Place crust in freezer to set for 3 hours
  4. Meanwhile place all filling ingredients into the food processor and process until smooth and creamy
  5. Once crust is set pour filling onto top of crust and place back in freezer to set for at least another 6 hours./home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/712/73322791/files/2014/12/img_4684.jpg
  6. Bring pie out of freezer and let defrost a bit before serving.

This pie is best served when very cold in order to keep it’s consistency cheesecake like 🙂 Sending you all love and yummy holiday treats until next time… /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/712/73322791/files/2014/12/img_4748.jpg

Raw Chocolate Cheesecake

Raw Chocolate Cheesecake

Good morning lovelies! I hope your weekend was wonderful. Mine was packed to the gills with friends and family, in other words, perfect. Being busy giving and receiving love is my favorite use of time. 🙂

Yesterday was my family’s annual holiday gathering. We meet in Walnut Creek at my aunt and uncle’s beautiful home overlooking the valley; we feast, we catch up, we exchange gifts. This year was particularly precious because my daughter is the first baby we’ve had around in many years. She is finally old enough to grasp a bit of the magic that is Christmas. We watched her glittering eyes as she marveled at the tree and all of the pretty wrapped boxes underneath it. When she realized some (OK, most) were for her she could barely contain herself. It was so much fun to watch.IMG_4436.JPG

After we got our fill of baby cuteness, we moved on to dinner. My contribution to the holiday table was dessert. I planned on making my pumpkin pie cheesecake which was an already proven success but time constraints didn’t allow for a trip to the store. I decided to improvise. I looked in my pantry and fridge and realized I could easily transition to a vegan, raw chocolate cheesecake. My salivary glands began acting up immediately.

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Ingredients

Crust (I like thick crust, if you like a thinner crust, you can half this recipe)

  • 1 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • *1/4 cup mesquite flour
  • *1/4 cup cacao butter
    *Optional

Filling

  • 2 1/4 cups cashews, soaked for 4 hours
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup melted cacao butter (use coconut oil if you prefer)
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup mesquite powder
  • 3/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • Pinch of salt

Process

  1. Using a food processor, blend all ingredients together to form a sticky dough
  2. Place dough in a 9 inch springform pan and press down to form a crust
  3. Place crust in freezer for 3 hours, give or take
  4. Once crust is about finished setting, place all filling ingredients in food processor and process for a minute or two, until filling is thick, creamy and smooth.
  5. Pour filling onto the top of the prepared crust and allow to set in freezer for another 3 hours
  6. Transfer ‘cheesecake’ to fridge an hour or two before serving to allow to defrost a bit.

*If you leave this dessert out of the fridge for too long before serving, it will start to melt and your cheesecake consistency will be off.

My family is decidedly un-vegan. I wasn’t sure that they were the right crowd to be wowed by my efforts. I was right to be skeptical. When I brought out this beautiful cake after dinner, I told them, ‘This is my chocolate cheesecake.’ At this revelation, most of my family perked up and although stuffed, began to sluggishly shuffle over to me. ‘It’s vegan and completely raw!’ I proudly proclaimed. ‘My aunt quickly whispers to me ‘Don’t tell them that! They might have actually enjoyed it.’ Despite their annoyance at this cheesecake being ‘healthy’ a few people still tried it. My aunt and uncle practically licked their plates clean and my dad actually complimented it. ‘This is really good’ he says between bites. ‘Thanks Dad. As far as desserts go, It’s super good for you too! ‘Yeah yeah, I like it despite that fact.’ he says out of the side of his mouth.

Ah… family. Can’t live with them and although I certainly can and do live without them, I’m super blessed to have them. It’s really pretty cool that a huge group of people with such different interests and personalities can all love each other so much. It’s a great exercise for me in accepting people as they are, as I’m sure they are challenged to do as well, by their crazy hippy sister, niece, daughter, granddaughter. 😉

Sending you all love and healthy chocolately kisses!

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Raw onion bread. CAUTION: Do not consume before a hot date.

Raw onion bread. CAUTION: Do not consume before a hot date.

I became inspired to experiment with raw foods when my good friend Aurore started sharing her masterpieces with me. This girl has nearly perfected the raw food art and I’m dazzled by the amazing treats she comes up with weekly. If you’d like to indulge in some of her amazing recipes, check out her blog: http://anaboreal.wordpress.com. She gifted me a dehydrator for my birthday a few years ago. I’ve used it a few times over the years but in the past few weeks, I’ve really been putting it to work. You can make a ton of delicious things in a dehydrator. Jerky, fruit leather, dried fruit, granola, raw crackers, raw bread, etc… Dehydrating allows you to retain nearly all of the nutritional content of the food which is incredibly beneficial to your body. My energy soars, my skin glows and I even notice increased mental acuity. I love how my body responds to a meal of mainly raw veggies but I often feel I’m missing substance when I eat just a bowl of greens. A few slices of raw bread leaves me feeling satiated and boosts my omega, protein and fiber intake, as it contains ground flax seed as one of the binding agents. Not to mention the bread can be doctored up with all manner of tasty treats like pesto, mushroom pate, avocado, cheese… The sky’s the limit!

You’ll need a coffee grinder to grind your flax seeds; the hull of a flax seed is so hard that if you eat them whole they will pass through your system undigested and you’ll miss out on the amazing health benefits all together, namely Omega 3. Also, pre-ground flax seed is sup     posedly what’s left after the seeds have been stripped of their oils so you risk missing out on the bulk of nutrients when you buy packaged ground flax meal. Coffee grinders are cheap, you can get an effective one for $20.00 and it can also be used to grind spices like cardamom and clove. I also use it to make my own flour, like oat and almond. It’s one of my favorite kitchen appliances and if you cook at home a lot, I bet you’ll get your money’s worth out of it quickly.

This recipe is best made with sweet onions. They have a little less of a pungent bite, which you’ll want, since you aren’t cooking them.

RAW ONION BREAD

Ingredients:
•2 big sweet white onions
•1 cup raw sunflower seeds
•1 cup flax seeds
•2 tbsp nutritional yeast (omit if you want this truly raw)
•3 tbsp soy sauce (use Nama shoyu if you want this truly raw)

Directions:
– Peel onions, cut into quarters and place 2-3 quarters in food processor at a time. Pulse until onions are finely chopped but not minced as they will start to become mushy onion pulp; this will yield a wet, gummy finished product. I know this first hand as I botched my first attempt. 😝

– Put onions in a large bowl.DSC_0606

– Grind sunflower seeds in coffee grinder put aside and then grind flax seeds.

DSC_0609– Add these to the onions along with nutritional yeast and soy sauce and mix together until well combined.

– Spread mixture out evenly on 2-3 dehydrator trays lined with parchment paper. I used 2 because I like my bread a little thicker, use 3 if you want a crispier cracker like bread.

DSC_0613– Set your dehydrator to 125 and dehydrate for an hour.

– Flip bread and lower dehydrator to 105. Dehydrate for 6-8 more hours depending on how you prefer the consistency.DSC_0625

Enjoy!

And please, if you are going to be in close quarters with anyone who hasn’t consumed large amounts of raw onion, suck on a mint. 😉