Monday, December 9, 2013

Winter health with Chia Fresca Drink

Welcome to winter and the dryness that comes with cold weather.  If you want to have extra energy this season plus happy skin and bright eyes make sure to stay very hydrated.

A few years ago I came across this recipe for super hydration in the book called Born to Run.  The ancient running people called the Tarahumara Indians used this drink as a sports and hydration drink for their long runs- think 100 miles wearing sandals!!  Before food went into the laboratories it was used in its natural form.  Using quality food as your medicine makes smart sense.

    Recipe for Chia Fresca

    10 oz of fresh/filtered water
    1 tbl spoon dry chia seeds and yes just like the chia pet commercial chia seeds
    Fresh squeezed lime or lemon- to taste
    Raw honey to taste

Mix into a glass or container.  For the first few minutes shake or stir the chia seeds until they become suspended.  If you don't stir you will have clumps.  The chia seeds hold hydration are super hydrating for us.  I usually make up a big batch and keep it in our refrigerator for up to 4 days.

This is an excellent first thing in the morning to get you going drink.

The original recipe used wild limes and agave nectar.  I don't have access to wild limes so I use organic limes or lemons.  You could use either I prefer lime.  As for my sweetener,  you can use agave, raw honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar.

   Raw products are not recommended during pregnancy.
   Raw honey is not recommended for children under 1 year old.

Chia seeds can be found just about anywhere
     Health food stores, Fred Meyer, Super supplements and Winco just to name a few.

If you want a fascinating read and a good Christmas present idea check out the book
      Born to Run by Christopher McDougall- one of my favorite books of all time.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Unexpected gifts of Black Friday

It is early Thanksgiving morning.  I was going to sleep in but like clockwork my body awoke before the rest of our home so I could start my daily practice.  Sally our flop eared smiler and Q-tip our always hungry kitten are also wide awake always ready for any action.  On second thought, Sally is ready for any action, Q-tip is impatiently waiting for his breakfast- he loves to eat!!

We have already celebrated our family Thanksgiving a couple of weeks ago.  Which by the way I highly recommend!!  On Saturday the 16 of November we gathered 19 to our home for Turkey and all the fixings.  Everyone brought something to the feast, we used colorful paper plates, compostable plastic utensils and plastic cups.  Simple yes, but it was what I had imagined Thanksgiving should be.  I was indeed grateful for my family, our home, our abundance of food and blessings.  It felt like we all were.

This early Thanksgiving idea came from Black Friday.  My step mom works in retail.  Today, the official day of Thanksgiving, she will be going into the store at 7:30pm, working all night for all the early Black Friday shoppers.  This odd and sleep deprived schedule created our Thanksgiving day change.  hint: Never rule out where your blessings can come from!

4 holiday benefits to doing turkey day 2 weeks early!!

1.  More family and friends could join our celebration as this day didn't interfere with their normal
holiday traditions.

2.  The prep and planning seemed easier and the grocery stores weren't in a frenzy.  I could gather my cooking supplies whenever I wanted and didn't have to wait in lines or push through crowds.
     (on the flip side, the turkey selection was slim and most of the holiday sales hadn't started yet.  I did find an all natural turkey for $15!)

3.  But- and this is a huge but...  We all got an additional 2 weeks before Christmas- which feels a lot like breathing space!!!!  I do love breathing space.  Especially this time of year, when my schedule fills up but my body wants to calm down.

4.  Turkey day was held on a Saturday, which gave us all of Sunday to put the house and dishes back together and take a nice solid afternoon nap.  (we did use the grandma dishes for serving)

These are simple things really but when you enjoy the simple things in life, life seems simpler!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all, however you find this day, may you also find an abundance of blessings to count and yummy food to eat.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

If I had my life to do over again...

       Over the weekend I came across a book I used to own called the Delany sisters.  A fabulous book about two incredible sisters in their early 100's.  They remind me so much of my Aunt Velma, who lived in wonder to the beautiful age of 102.

     I thought that book held a passage called:  If I had my life to do over again.  But as it turns out this passage was from a completely different source: Nadine Star.  On one of those lovely happy coincidence moments, I stumbled across Nadine's passage last night.

      I do highly recommend you read the Delany Sisters book but to hold you over with some good old fashioned advice here is the passage from Nadine Star.

   It seems a good start to the holiday season!!
Wishing you more daisies in your life and autumn grass between your toes,

Nadine Star
Written by Nadine Star:  On her 93rd Birthday
When asked by a reporter what she would do differently if she had her life to live over again.

“If I had my life to live over,  I would dare to make more mistakes next time.  I would relax.  I would limber up.  I would be sillier than I’ve been this time.  I would take fewer things seriously and I would take more chances.  I’d take more trips.  I’d climb more mountains and I’d swim more rivers.  I would eat more ice cream and less beans.  I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.”

“ You see I am one of those people who lived sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day.  Oh, I’ve had my moments, but it I had it to do over   again, I’d have more of them.  In fact, I’d try to have nothing else- just moments – one after another instead of living so many years ahead.”

‘I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle a raincoat, and a parachute.  If I had my life to live over,  I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and I would stay that way later in the fall.  I would go to more dances.  I would ride more merry-go-rounds.  I would pick more daisies.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pausing as a practice

Do you ever feel like you need to rush?  Of course you do, I'm sure we all do.  I'm sitting at Marlene's market after having a meeting with a college.  My to do list, as usual, has more list than I have time to complete.  I feel the urge to grab all my stuff and rush off to my next list's item.  But if I do will life be better? 

Or can I find it in myself to pause for just a couple of minutes.  Pause and breathe, look around, sip on a hot cup of chamomile tea and maybe even write for a few minutes.

The practice of pausing is not as easy as it should be.  Taking a second, in the middle of your day or task to pause, to breathe and look around.  Is that so difficult??  Apparently it is and so why not make it a practice?

The very definition of practice is to do a task with intent, over and over again actively striving to improve your skills.
So can pausing become a practice?  Everyday, setting the intent of pausing at least once if not a couple of times to breathe.

  Maybe even smile and relax a moment.  Look around and even do something you love doing, like writing in cafĂ©'s while sipping on tea and watching the world rush by.

It doesn't have to be a grand gesture, it just needs to become a habit and what better way to cultivate a good habit than by making it a practice.  And what better habit to cultivate than the habit of pausing.

As always, wishing you a happy home and refreshing pauses

Just a note, this whole pause to write, breathe and drink my tea took a half an hour, but I feel surprisingly refreshed!!  Just a thought.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Simple pleasures of a fresh start

I read a book once where the author talked about putting the kitchen to bed.  I like that analogy, "putting the kitchen to bed".  It is a good ending to the day.  Dinner is done.  The dishwasher is rumbling along.  The counter tops are all washed and dried.  When I finally turn out the lights, I feel contented and at ease.

Equally as nice is waking up to a clean kitchen, where nothing crusty or slimy from the yesterday is facing me in the sink.  My mom said she finally got the importance of "putting the kitchen to bed"  when she realized the value of starting the day with a clean slate.

It is a simple thing really but doesn't it make all the difference?

Here's to simple pleasures,

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Simplest "pumpkin" pie recipe ever

Baking squash

Delicata Squash
It is the season of squash!  Apparently, there is a squash season and it is now.  I love simple foods.  Slice - bake and enjoy!  That is cooking at it's best.  For the remainder of this year, I'm trying my hand at removing all added sugars and searching for the natural sweetness and flavor of whole foods. 

 This season, I was introduced to a new  squash, new to me anyway, Delicata! 

Pictured to the right and also pictured in the middle of the baking squash dish.

This is one of the only winter squashes I know of that you can eat the outer skin.

 A few weeks ago I baked one of these marvels.  It bakes up to a golden orange.  The flavor is great the first day, but don't eat too much.  Slice your squash into wedges and put squash in refrigerator.   Wait until the next day...and then eat it cold.

  It tastes like Pumpkin pie wedges!  But here is the kicker- no sugars, no spices, no dairy, grains, no anything but a splash of oil and Delicata - Simply Amazing. 

I do realize Cold Squash doesn't actually sound that great.  But you'll see, it is!  My grandpa Ella made all her "pumpkin" pies from squash.  She mainly used Hubbard squashes.  The natural sweetness and incredible flavors of these squashes minimizes the need to add anything!

Mock Pie Wedges
1 Delicata Squash ( more if you want)
       Wash skin, cut down the middle,  remove seeds
            remove ends
Bake flesh side up
Coat with a splash of olive oil or coconut oil- just to keep it from burning 
Bake on 400 degrees for about 45 minutes +or-  until it turns a deep golden brown
         You should be able to smell the aromas of this sweet squash
When cool, slice into wedges and refrigerate until next day
Next day: Eat wedges

Here's to the sweetness of squash season.  May simple pleasures be part of your day.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Running and picking up trash?

   Is picking up trash, smiling and running an essential part of a residue free life??  I think it just may be...

   This weekend I ran on both Saturday and Sunday.  Some of the best runs I've had in a long time.  Sally our flop eared smiler and I ran together.  Running for me is a gift of joy- I absolutely love to run.  But I believe running is more than just putting one foot in front of each other.  It is freedom, it is a running mediation, it is a path. I know running is good for my body and mind but I believe it is most beneficial to my spirit.

I have been reading about the marathon monks and how in the beginning of their 7 year practice, they will run 40 kilometers everyday for 100 days!!!  They wear hand made straw sandals and as they run they will pause to say prayers and bless others on their path.  Wow!!

On Sunday morning before the heavy rains came, Sally and I were out running.  We ran accross a large pile of trash.  A leftover meal from McDonald's, apparently thrown from a car and which had landed in our path.  I ran past this pile- we were busy running and having fun.  But then I thought to myself, Oh for heavens sakes Denise, if those marathon monks can pause, say prayers and bless others everyday for 100 days while running the equivalent of a marathon!!  You can pause and pick up a little trash.  And so we went back and picked up the trash.  We continued to gather trash the rest of our run.  And do you know what happened?????

  Our run was now more than just me and Sally it was a way to do an random act of kindness.  Not only did I find myself happier but I'm guessing our little act of gathering up trash on our run and smiling as we went, was also interesting to the cars passing by.  I don't know what if any impact our running, smiling and trash picking up had on someone else's day but that isn't for me to know.

Running, smiling and picking up trash are little things really,  but in the scope of a whole life, maybe they are what made the life- little joyful moments.

Wishing you a day filled with unexpected joys,

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A sure fire way to beauty

 "Keep your eyes beautiful, they are the windows into your soul"  Fortune cookie wisdom

   I had this note pinned to my bulletin board for years.  It reminded me beauty comes from the inside out.

   When my grandma Ella was in her nineties and in the nursing home, I was amazed at her beauty.  My grandma had a hard working life.  Growing up in the depression, eating sandwiches with no meat and little else.  After she was married, she and my grandpa had a dairy farm, working long hard hours every day until she was in her late 50's.  Even when she moved to town she found a job pressing drapes and washing clothes- still hard work.

   What I am getting at is she worked hard.  Her life was hardly coated in bon bons and fancy face creams and yet... in her nineties she was so beautiful.  How did this happen?

   While my grandma was at that nursing home, maybe her body was wearing out but her spirit remained incredibly intact.  Her curiosity and wonder were never more evident and her love of people  continued to flourish.  We would visit for hours.  She would tell me about recipes Martha Stewart was making on TV that she wanted to try. ( my grandma couldn't see the TV but would listen and memorize)  She knew every nurse, all about their families, job, life and how their day was going.  She loved people and loved wondering and she was absolutely beautiful.

  Her eyes would sparkle, she would radiate as she spoke.  Maybe her skin was wrinkled and all her hair gray and maybe her teeth weren't sparkly white but she was without a doubt beautiful.  And why was this?  I think it was because her spirit and soul were still as beautiful as she was as a young woman- maybe even more so.

Just a thought for the day,
    wishing you beauty for a life time,



Monday, May 20, 2013

Keep your worries at bay and your paper flat

   This is a piece of paper on my office chair.  Why is it there???  Good question, my step mom passed on a little wisdom to me today.  She has a friend who's dad told her "worry is like wrinkling up a piece of paper.  It makes the paper weaker and only give God more to do when it comes time to straighten it back out."
  I liked this thought, as I type my dad is having heart surgery.  I'm sitting on my worries in order to keep my paper flat.  It seems to be working as the paper under my seat doesn't have a wrinkle in it!!
  Just a thought for a Monday morning.
       As always, wishing you a healthy and happy home,

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Running in the rain is not so bad

OK, is it just me or does something change in your perspective once you are actually out in the rain?  Tonight, I went for a run with Sally our flop eared smiler (dog).  It took a while before we got out the door because it was raining outside! Oh-no, not rain, I might melt.  Finally, the skies cleared out a bit and we took a chance and headed out the door. 

Sometime during the run, it started raining again.  Funny thing is, I didn't even notice it started and when I did I only felt refreshed by the rain!  How crazy is that shift in perspective? My expectations of a little water were keeping me from something I love and that refreshes me!! 

I know next time it rains I will probably pause for clearer skies but maybe next time my pause will be slight and my run long! 

Wishing you clear skies and refreshing rain,

'If you do not express your own original ideas,
    if you do not listen to your own being,
      you will have betrayed yourself"
                                     Rollo May

Friday, February 1, 2013

Give the cold/flu bug exit directions

  Today I find myself with the ending of a bug of some sorts.  Is it a cold or the flu, I'm not sure which. I do know it comes with some pretty yucky symptoms.  But what I have learned is it is all about the flow.  Yes, I have a bug, the goal here is to let it flow on through and not get stuck. 

   A couple of years ago, I walked the Susan G Koman 60 mile walk for Breast Cancer Support.  The day before the walk I came down with a cold- come to think of it, I think that was my last cold.  Anyway, the first day and first night were a little rough but amazingly by the time the walk was over, two days later, my cold was gone-gone-gone!  I was walking, breathing, drinking tons of water and Gatorade and having a great time!

  Prior to that about 10 years ago, I was walking everyday- at least 15 minutes a day. It was one of those commitments we make to ourselves when we are feeling happy and healthy.  I remember catching a cold then and thinking I still have to walk!  Prior to my walking goal, I would have gone to bed and stayed there- and usually my colds stayed right there with me.  But when I went out for that walk, I felt stronger, healthier and for the first time in a long time a cold was just a little blip on the screen.  No big deal!

  There is something magical that happens from movement, hydration and fresh air. My mom had a similar experience when we were showing cows growing. up.  She went to the fair with a horrendous cold. At night we slept in the back of an old truck that, as you can imagine, had plenty of fresh air. Not exactly the conditions, the you would think were perfect for getting healthy.  But that is what my mom did, her cold quickly eased up. 

   Today, I'm already feeling 10 times better than yesterday, otherwise you would not be hearing from me.  I was even feeling good enough to share my illness insights.   I know there is great healing power in going outside, breathing deeply, and walking/moving/flowing around the neighborhood. Drinking lots of fluids, relaxing and mounds of TLC are also very handy in showing the bug the door.  Sometimes, we get a bug but give that bug the directions on how to leave as quickly and smoothly as possible.  A splash of joy and gratitude never hurt either.  Thankfully, this too shall pass!

    Of course, the essence of this note to you is not to go walk 60 miles or sleep in the back of a truck when you are sick.  The essence is to breath deep, get a little fresh air and move around a bit!

  Wishing all bugs a speedy exit in all our lives,

Monday, January 7, 2013

Day of Epiphanies: A simple and lovely day

 How can you not love a day called Epiphany day??  There is a long history to Epiphany Day. If you would like to learn about it by all means check it out. Here is the Wikipedia version 

I celebrate a slightly more playful and looser version of the historical holiday by celebrating the actual meaning of the word Ephiphany along with just a splash of history.

Day of Epiphany reminds me to let go, to enjoy life and give myself time to create. It is about listening and looking for the gift of an epiphany. Epiphany day is a reminder that laying a good foundation is essential but there is also a time to lighten up and let ideas flow in.

During the day, I Make cookies with beans-wishing all who eat get good luck for the new year. I look for and expect an abundance of epiphanies. And finally, we take down our Christmas decorations and pack away until next year.  A simple and lovely day.

What exactly is an epiphany anyway? Here is what Wikipedia has to say:  

Definition:   "An epiphany is an experience of sudden and striking realization. Generally the term is used to describe breakthrough scientific, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective."
History:  "The word epiphany originally referred to insight through the divine.[9] Today, this concept is used much more often and without such connotations, but a popular implication remains that the epiphany is supernatural, as the discovery seems to come suddenly from the outside.[9]"  
The Process of Epiphanies:  "Despite its popular image, epiphany is the result of significant work on the part of the discoverer, and is only the satisfying result of a long process.[10] The surprising and fulfilling feeling of epiphany is so surprising because one cannot predict when one's labor will bear fruit, and our subconscious can play a significant part in delivering the solution; and is fulfilling because it is a reward for a long period of effort.[4][10]"
Myth of Epiphanies:  "Epiphanies can be distinguished by a (usually spiritual) vision, as epiphanies are often triggered by irrelevant incidents or objects"

Starting the new year with a holiday such as Epiphany day gives me great joy.  After the past couple of months of holidays so deeply connectly with our family, history and expectations, it is a breath of fresh air to have a little day with nothing to do but listen, bake cookies and put the house back in order.  Maybe, we should find a word to celebrate each month.  Reminding us how precious each day is, to pause to enjoy our lives with a joyful heart and to say thank you.

As always wishing you a healthy and happy day,
     Denise Frakes