breakfast · Candida diet · Uncategorized

banana chia seed pudding.

What is it about jealousy on paper that makes it something we don’t want to be a part of, and yet our actions show otherwise?

We visit a vibrant, new parish and only wish so many aspects of that were true of our own home parish. Even parts of our own home parish which seem fine don’t seem to hold even a long, thin beeswax candle in our opinions or to our ideals or vision.

Or how some friends of ours seem to effortlessly spoon together chia seed pudding (that they claim is so easy!) in the mornings always after a grueling, intense workout session before work on Monday morning…making those of us who choose to sleep in or oversleep making the drive-thru the only option and not trying to mutter a mean word about Carrie Cross-over taking her time in front of you.

But coffee to-go though. Drool.

Some will argue there are truly certain types of individuals, but I believe change is possible if you truly are interested.

I will admit there are times where I felt God’s presence moreso than others in certain churches. It’s not just felt in the hospitality, but the energy inside the church and in the social hall. God’s presence is energy, and energy is magnetic. That’s one reason why the monastery seems so spiritual- the energy is consistent there. What we receive from our visits to monastery pilgrimages to mission events can bounce back tenfold in our own homes and church.

That’s the point!

But what about people and chia seeds? Should we just leave it to the so called health nuts or is it perhaps only crucial for a cleanse? (which, by the way, chia IS friendly enough for a Candida diet if you can handle it.)

Chia seeds have been popping up everywhere due to their major antioxidant potential. These tiny little seeds are a great source of plant fiber (10g!) as well as potassium (115g!) Getting both fiber and potassium helps us be and stay well rounded. The benefits range from improving digestion to brain health and sharper eyesight to stronger bones and muscles. And once digestion starts improving, loads of energy to boot without the need of a latte… even though strawberry vanilla lattes are my current guilty pleasure. Now it makes sense why you hear of athletic minded friends scooping chia in their smoothies, but you can also see why the average individual might want to start buying a bag of chia seeds too.

There’s a wide variety of recipes for chia and I’m just starting to learn to become accustomed myself. I admit I was a little nervous as someone that struggled and still somewhat does with digestive issues. Fiber is the key,but even packing in an extreme so quickly can lead to unpleasant or adverse reactions.

The key, also, I’m finding, in addition to making sure you drink enough of water (a 150lb person should drink 72oz a water a day), is to work with chia seeds in a gel like texture. What does this mean? Add chia to a Tupperware container with a lid for as much as the recipe calls for (usually 1/2 cup to 1 cup on average, but please double check your recipe!) and add in enough water to fill to the top of the seeds. Refrigerate for a few hours giving the chia to form a unique gel texture and measure out for your recipe. You may have more or less. In my case, I had more so what was leftover easily became chia seed pudding.

Chia seeds pudding is ridiculously simple to make and with so few ingredients, I couldn’t help but think…how could this be? I just put one cup of geled chia seeds, raw milk or almond milk, a banana and honey or Stevia (if doing the candida diet or paleo) for a touch sweetener into a blender and you’ll get a smooth, creamy dessert like consistency.

Add to a container and put into a refrigerator for four hours but overnight is common especially if you need a fast, portable breakfast. It actually better the longer it’s refrigerated.

Chia Seed Banana Pudding

1 cup of geled chia seeds
1 cup of raw milk or almond milk

1 banana

1 tsp of honey or Stevia
1 tbsp of steel cut dried oats

Add all to a blender and blend into a creamy like consistency. Pour into a Tupperware container and refrigerate for 4 hours (at a minimum) or overnight.


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My Experience with Float Therapy!

Last weekend, I decided to try float therapy. I didn’t know too much about it before nor did I know anyone who went, though when I finally went, I learned that several of my friends were interested in trying it themselves.

Float studios are unique and not all the same. Many studios may have tanks with personal rooms, but some large ones may have open float pools too, which may be ideal for those interested but who may also have claustrophobia. Even a bit of it can intimidate you, at first.

I was surprised to learn in my mostly rural area that we would have something this neat. I went to the Art of Floating which is a little easy to miss from the highway because it sits inward. A good gauge I use is to start looking for the cemetery across the street. I know, I know… not the greatest thing to have in mind especially before I supposeably was going to submerge myself in something that looked part casket, but it was what it was.

What to Bring

A swimsuit

Contacts case and solution, if you wear them

Your own towel and washcloth, optional (they usually provide it. Check first)

Goggles (Probably not a bad idea for regular floaters)

An open mind and heart

If you’re anything like me, you would normally either Google or YouTube before your very first session. And while there’s plenty of YouTube videos to give you a good idea of what the salt tanks look like, I would encourage you not to get carried away. I know, I couldn’t stop giggling at first because I kept thinking of the goofy trolling comments on the YouTube videos.

When you take your shoes off (the floors are wet) and are led to your private room, you are offered shower facilities with shampoo, conditioner and body wash with a storage box containing a washcloth, a towel and a few optional, handy items like a neck pillow and ear plugs for your float. At Art of Floating, I wasn’t given goggles but if they couldn’t be a bad idea if you are prone to turning your head to your side when you’re lying down.

With that said, it’s best to remove your glasses and especially your contacts. You are going to be floating on 1,000 lbs of salt where even the tiniest reflexisive swipe at your eyes can feel painful.

Also, there was a toilet nearby the tank. Although you are welcome to use it anytime during your session, I highly recommend taking care of biz first to try not to disturb yourself in a relaxed state while in session.

Showering before and after is also a must. Although you probably already do, that doesn’t speak of the sweat and oil we carry around allover ourselves everyday. It’s also a general courtesy for the employees who clean your tank as well as the next person floating.

Getting in and Adjusting to the Tank

Getting in can be an adjustment. It’s a tight corner that eventually goes completely dark if it’s not dark already with or without the door shut. Sometimes, there is music or blissful spa sounds. At mine, complete silence.

As I meditate on a somewhat regular basis, getting used to the dark silence wasn’t hard. The next step was to learn how to shut off my thoughts and breathe – which is another process. And if you’re going to experience this for the first time, you’re going to have a lot of thoughts…before you realize you’re paying for 60 or 90 minutes and you didn’t just come to be a slave to your thoughts and anxiety.

I’m not telling you to tell you to ignore your thoughts but just listen to them. Greet them as they come and politely wave them off. Meditate. Allow your muscles to go soft and let the tingles take over. Keep breathing. As soon as you can learn to let go of your emotions, you’ll no longer notice or remember if your hand “float bumps” (is that a word?) softly into the tank, but you’ll be weightlessly floating as if you’re in a foreign salt cave or even in the Blue Grotto in Italy, though the latter isn’t salty at all but visualization is a great relaxation tool.

After 60 minutes, a soft little light came on signalling my session was over. I showered and toweled off. I felt renewed from any tension or discomfort. This could vary especially for chronic pain sufferers, though you can see a greatly reduced sense of pain by regular floats.

I also regained a sense of clarity and felt calm and grounded. I couldn’t stop thinking how great I feel remembering how I would feel this good on my beach trips. Perhaps floating in salt water is the brilliant solution for those of us inland who can’t get to the beach year round to feel the effects. I went over to the relaxation parlor, silenced my phone and started journaling. Why didn’t I do this when I was engaged?

Fortunately and unfortunately, stress takes many forms throughout our lives making float therapy a perfect lifetime adoption. It turns the volume up on my meditation practice and I would do it again and again.

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The Best Vegan Macaroni Ever

Ask anyone transitioning to a plant based lifestyle, and the hardest meals to give up include dairy or cheese. It’s addictive and savory and for the longest while, very few vegan cheese brands have come close to duplicating that same savory texture or a macaroni and cheese dish that actually tastes like cheese.

YOU GUYS. I think I nailed it this time.

Each fast, Earth Balance (not daiya, never daiya) boxed macaroni and cheese has been a staple here but eventually, I grew tired of that. Plus, it’s just that – pasta and low nutritional value. Plus, ever since we learned how awful soy has been for my hormones, I have been experimenting with a lot of soy free vegan recipes lately.

I did use gluten free noodles in this dish. You can use any noodle you want, but if you need to use a gluten free noodle as well, I used Full Circle brand gluten free rigatoni.

It’s packed with macronutrients and micronutrients but it tastes very similar to a classic macaroni dish. That’s a win in my book. I take roast butternut squash which gives it that orang-y Kraft macaroni vibe without the nasty chemicals. Dijon mustard, Apple cider vinegar, paprika, sea salt, nooch or nutritional yeast and almond milk get mixed up in a high speed food processer into a nice, creamy consistency and then poured over the pasta to create an almost splitting image of an almost classic macaroni dish.

Sprinkle on gluten free breadcrumbs or breadcrumbs and bake it for about 12 minutes on 250 degrees. Top with fresh parsley.

It’s dishes like this that reveal how nutrient dense, fast and easy vegan or plant based cooking can really be.

The Best Vegan Macaroni (Vegan, Soy Free, Gluten Free, Nut Free)

1 butternut squash

1 package of Full Circle gluten free macaroni

Gluten free Breadcrumbs, if using

1/4 cup fresh parsley

For sauce

1/4 cup coconut oil

4 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp of nutritional yeast (Good source of vegan b12 which helps calm nerves)

1 tbsp Apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp paprika

Pinch sea salt

1/2 cup almond milk

1. Boil macaroni according to package directions and drain. Pour into greased casserole dish.

2. Whip up ingredients for sauce in blender until you get a creamy, thick consistency. Pour over pasta and mix well until sauce is well incorporated with noodles. If it’s not oozing out of the noodles, it’s not mixed enough!

3. Top with breadcrumbs Bake for 12 minutes on 250 degrees. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

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Should Christians be getting involved in politics?

The past few years led us into perhaps the most heated Presidential election cycle most of us of voting age have ever witnessed in our lives. Abortion, freedom of speech, a women’s right to equal pay, healthcare, education, environmental affairs, immigration, the refugee crisis, among others… no one knew for sure what type of person could be ready to handle all of that.

In the life of a conservative Christian, it’s clear how far down the rabbit hole we’ve become. I know of many people, including myself, who refuse to engage even with others who argue similar views. It’s just too much and they don’t want to offend or alter personal relationships.

That’s respectable, but what do you do for belligrant individuals who don’t care? They corner you until you agree with them, cry or run away.

What about those in society who don’t believe in God either? Extending “thoughts and prayers” may bring you peace, but is it really respectful if not even a little condescending to tell that to a Hindu or Muslim?

A Different Society

It’s a different society now, but you still live in America. Whether you are a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew or an atheist, you are also a individual bound by free will where you are free to worship by it. How many other countries can say that?

Nobody can take that away from us.

And as far as those belligrant types, walk away or change the subject. Like with most cases of bullying, be the bigger person.

Sensationalism

Sensationalism in the media may tell us otherwise. Isolated incidents of religious or political extremism are exaggerated to create stories or induce fear and excitement. It creates a Prozac or Xanax nation, if you will. It makes us believe the world is more terrible. Other attempts of succeeding at this case is by producing clickbait headlines that pop up on the internet. Clickbait seems believable, and is getting harder to spot. We all fell for one including myself, but try reading between the lines.

Why does the media do this? To sell news. Perhaps it’s really a slow news day. Mass media journalism has been struggling to keep up for years. Most people really tune in during catastrophic global affairs or a turn of event to stay connected. But lately, things have been pretty slow or tirelessly ongoing in the world. So naturally, the media has to shake things up to stay afloat.

A pressing concern should be: why are we addicted to the drama and how do we make it stop?

The Christian Response, in my opinion

We have a few choices, and some that I think we already made. We can choose to cast it aside and ignore it, or let God sort everything out. I mean, many people we meet aren’t even Christian, who cares what happens to them, right? I can only worry about ME, right?

Well….

And…I don’t know. Doesn’t that sound a little strange to you? Hopefully?

Or what if you may be charitable, but don’t like to consider yourself political. Fine, though did you know most charity is political?

God didn’t put us in the world as a Sims character, action is required of us too. As Christians and followers of Christ, think of why we aid in local humanitarian relief to global disaster relief. This will help you begin to learn more about poverty, healthcare education and the economy in your area and the world. These are some factors among many which can help gently remind you of a need and place for politics.

Also, pure and utter silence and loss of self identity and personality after awhile can be mistaken for submission to something we disagree with too.

So, should Christians be getting involved in politics? Absolutely. You already do. But like with everything else, be mindful of your soul for the only fear you have is the fear of harming your neighbor.

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Saffron rice

Life is a process. Faith, food and relationships.

I struggled with going to the monastery with my husband this morning, mostly because we have to wake up very early as the days start very early there. But why not? We both had a day off and had a perfect opportunity. The sun gleamed through the stained glass. And although I felt my quads cramp up from prostrating to “Let my prayer arise!” For too long, I fell into a state of meditation and then grace.

Like with life itself, it’s a process to get to such a point just like cooking and especially learning to cook with spice.

It seems easy, but mistakes are common. If you substitute for something else, you may miss the mark completely. And is too much ever too much? In a word, yes. Is quality always important? Mostly, but sometimes you can get away with dried. And it’s a culinary sin to use canned garlic.

For those of us that work with what we got, I can sympathize and understand. Hey, and although the purists will still disagree, it’s better than omitting it. But around our kitchen, quality isn’t only our aim it’s encouraged.

There are a few spices where it’s important to aim for the latter. Saffron falls into this category.

Why?

  1. It’s unique aroma of floral and earthy is unmatched. It’s rare to find a substitute for it.
  2. Generic saffron (less than $10 worth) won’t carry the same quality of health benefits. Saffron is expensive because it’s plucked by hand. It takes 4,500 crocus flowers to make up one ounce of saffron spice.

Saffron is not turmeric though saffron has an immense away of health benefits on its own. It’s a good spice to have on hand for heart healthy diets and women monitoring their menstrual cycles as saffron contains the b6 vitamin to help with nerves and potassium to help with menstrual cramps among many other benefits.

The easiest way to make saffron is in white or brown basmati rice on the side of a frozen Indian meal for something quick or a lean protein and a vegetable. I make mine with a few other spices, a little turmeric and almonds. Once the rice is al dente, the sticky texture reminds me of a version of Rice a Roni only I don’t feel like I swallowed a brick, I just feel energized.

Isn’t that the way you want to feel too?

Saffron Rice

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small sweet or red onion
  • 1 teaspoon loosely packed saffron threads (check health food stores, Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or ethnic Indian grocer)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon dry thyme
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 ½ cup brown basmati rice
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • ¾ cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup of ground almonds

Method

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant and just starting to brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add onion, stir to coat. Cook, stirring often until the onion is starting to brown and soften, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Add saffron, thyme, smoked paprika and salt and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in broth and increase heat to high. Stir thoroughly to make sure saffron threads are evenly distributed, and bring to a simmer.

3. Add rice, and return to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low or low to maintain a simmer, and cook until the bouillon has been absorbed and the rice is very tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Remover from the heat and stir in ground almonds and parsley.

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Journey to Pascha: Canon of Saint Andrew

What is Lent, really?

To many Christians, you hear a lot about fish on Friday to the seemingly yearly pursuit of giving up chocolate or sweets or Facebook for forty days. Even those Christians in name only get into it just to detox.

But Lent is not the same for all Christians.

Sure, you can still give up sweets and social media if it helps you live a better life, but there’s more to Lent than external factors for the Orthodox Christian.

For the Orthodox Christian, Lent is more than what goes into our mouths, but what comes out of it, so to speak. It’s a focus on renewal of the soul and the decision to repent before God decides for us. This is done through prayer, the Lenten services which ultimately lead to simplicity and almsgiving.

Food is actually a small part of it.

Although some try, we are not required to attend all of the services nor is it sometimes feasible for the average working layperson. They are put in place as mere prescriptions for our healing process for our sins. But be careful. Even when you think you have been healed, there’s always something new or different to focus on for a child of God.

The four parts of Canon of St. Andrew is split over the course of the Clean Week. At first glance, some of the stanzas are quite penetrating and personal. It takes an understanding of the Bible (the verses to refer to are published every night) as well as a sincere need to repentance to truly absorb this service.

You may think as I often have, “there are people I know who should be here too but are not, why?” But we cannot dwell on thee absence of others especially those who are absent for honorable and just reasons. We pray for those who are absent just as much as those who are present with us.

Suppers are usually very light during Clean Week. Monks and very pious laypersons will do a water fast. The thing I miss about being a vegan and that I liked about it was how fast and affordable whole foods veganism really is. There was lots of Gardein this week but also stuffed peppers which was an oven meal affording me a chance to catch up on my reading. And clean up? Minimal!

Planning on similar weeks in the coming weeks.

Stuffed Vegan Peppers

Sauteed mushrooms in Earth Balance with sea salt and pepper is all you need. Stuff them in your peppers and bake for 15 minutes!

4 stuffed peppers, tops cut off

1 package of baby bella mushrooms, washed (baby bella may be the cheapy mushrooms but they seriously pack great flavor in recipes such as this!)

sea salt and pepper (I am still loving my turmeric sea salt that I picked up from the Spice Shop downtown)

Pinch turmeric if you just have plain sea salt (there ain’t nothing wrong with that either, I’m just saying!)

fresh cilantro

mozzarella vegan cheese (our favorite brand)

3 tbsp earth balance

Coconut oil, drizzle

Heat a pan with Earth Balance. Once melted, add in your mushrooms and seasonings and cook for several minutes until somewhat soft. Take off heat. Stuff into peppers. Drizzle with coconut oil. Top with cheese. Bake on 350 degrees or until cheese melts. Remove from oven and add cilantro on top.

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How to eat like a vegan during Lent.

“Let us begin Lent, the Fast, with joy”

For the typical Orthodox, finding out what to eat or feed your family over the next forty days can be been difficult. I mean, most people are switching from bacon to quinoa. But it doesn’t have to be expensive or bland or lacking nutrients.

As someone that’s plant based but not vegan, here are some of my favorite tips that I hope will help you and your family get adjusted.

Firstly, learn the lingo which can be confusing just going by the hashtags alone:

Vegan – avoids all animal products including honey and some obscure ones like bone char which is found in granulated sugar.

Plant based- Avoids most flesh products for the most part, but is flexible

Soy Free Vegan – Avoids gmo soy which is linked to altering male and female hormone levels as well as animal products. This does not include products made with soy lecithin.

Soy Free whole foods Vegan – Avoids soy, flesh meats and products and processed vegan products. These people support foods that they grow or are grown instead of the manufactured stuff.

Here’s how to get adjusted:

  • Buy or borrow a decent vegan cookbook like Isa Moskowitz’s Veganomicon which highlights pantry necessities, kitchen equipment and every type of recipe. There are still many of them I haven’t tried and I had this one for a few years.
  • There are tons of sole vegan blogs. Minimalist Baker is queen for quick vegan recipes and scrumptious desserts for coffee hours and potlucks during Lent.
  • The vegan meat substitutes may be more expensive but serve as a gradual transition to whole grain and vegetable dishes.
  • Gardein brand meals at most major supermarkets are no fail for quick, easy dinners that require minimal chopping, minimal time and not so fancy (read: expensive) equipment
  • Get reacquainted with your produce aisle. Daikon? Squash? Be open to the idea of different ways of cooking and there’s so many health benefits too.
  • Make cooking fun! Use different textures, discuss the health benefits or have themed meals. Vegan sticky buns for coffee hour or an intimate women’s tea night? Look up Minimalist Baker’s recipe. It’s a total win!
  • As you’ll be relying on more produce, here’s a chance to get to know some of your local farmers. They want to engage with you. It’s a quite a joy for me to visit the farmers market year round at least weekly.
  • Try to avoid the vegan documentaries on Netflix. I only found about one or two informative, but not in an actual learning how to adjust way, but in a propaganda way.
  • If you’re on Instagram, share your awesome recipes under a unique and easy to find hashtag for others.
  • Speaking of cookbooks and you’re cooking for a large family, Melissa Naasko has you covered! Check out her very own, Fasting as a Family.
  • Explore spices. They add great flavor to recipes and they’re healthy!
  • A great time to reflect on our mentality and state of mind: Try to be positive and see everything with a perspective of renewal. We attend the services to work on our mind and soul. What can we do to nourish our bodies?
  • I also try to share a few recipes a week or check out the archive!


How have you become adjusted? Share your tips below!