What high standards mean to me

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I often say I hold myself to my highest standards. To some, it might sound like I am disciplined in my approach to everything in life. For me, high standards mean living with certain rules, but making intuitive decisions.

It means that I’m:

Working to move away from rigidity, learning to soften. I create my own guidelines, and feel free to bend certain rules from time to time. Other rules are golden absolutes. Some days call for strict discipline. Other days invite me to be more playful and perhaps even somewhat rebellious.

Listening to my body, heart, and intuition, and following their lead. This is true with nutrition, exercise, and various other lifestyle choices (more on this below).

Enjoying dressing up. I particularly benefit from dressing up when it’s the last thing I feel like doing. When I think I look good, I tend to feel great.

Giving myself permission to lounge on the couch in my pajamas, reading a book. I never have a full day’s leisure to lounge, but I can always set aside an hour or so to do that. Often, it happens in the evenings, after the kids are in bed.

Giving myself permission to wear yoga leggings while running errands. I’m probably one of the very few yoga instructors who believe that yoga clothes should be saved exclusively for the yoga studio, a gym, or a festival. Yet, I feel most sexy and comfortable when I wear yoga clothes, so if I have just finished teaching or taking a class and need to run an errand, I’ll do so comfortably in my funkiest leggings.

Spending most Saturdays doing laundry, cleaning, cooking good food, etc. Then, I spend as much time as possible on Sundays doing what I want to do (in-between tending to my family, of course).

Reminding myself to be stern with the kids about making their beds, brushing their teeth, and tidying up. Then, I overlook the mess they make while we bake cupcakes in the kitchen.

Choosing to be serious and responsible when I need to be. At other times, I crank up an embarrassing song and have a wacky dance party in the living room. And sometimes, I dance on my own in my bedroom, wearing something scandalously inappropriate. I laugh loudly at myself. Then, I laugh some more.

Giving myself permission to cry if I’m having a lousy day. I don’t try to talk myself out of it. We all have lousy days when the last thing we want to hear is someone telling us to ‘snap out of it.’ When I feel overwhelmed or sad, I don’t want to snap out of it. I want to face it and deal with it. I acquiesce to whatever it is I’m feeling and I sit with it, honouring that feeling for what it is, breathing through the sometimes excruciating discomfort. Then, slowly, I watch myself get out of a funk while learning more about myself in the process, learning about what liberates me.

Sticking to a healthy, plant-based diet 80% of the time. I choose to eat intuitively, asking myself what foods serve me best at this time. Some days, I want to eat an extra square (or two) of dark chocolate and have a glass of wine. Some days, I enjoy cheese and crackers, and maybe even a slice of toast with generously spread Nutella. On other days, all I want to eat are vegan salads and to drink green smoothies.

Choosing exercise that challenges me, gets my heart rate up, makes me sweat and my muscles shake. On other days, I choose to soften with restorative yoga.

Realizing that I have been ‘Type A’ under the surface and although I don’t enjoy this shadow side, I am learning to accept it, to recognize it, and to let go of the wish to be in control. I remind myself to let go and enjoy all the spheres that life offers me.

Recognizing myself as a whole person and learning to embrace all aspects of myself. There are certain aspects of myself that I am continuing to work on improving and changing altogether, with complete honesty and compassion.

What do high standards mean to you? What are you doing to uphold them? Where do you need to learn to soften?

Making Room for Expansion

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A walk in the forest: one of our favourite ‘quiet’ activities. This was my ‘artist date’ for the weekend that has passed.

If spring is known as the time of growth and renewal, summer is for basking in the sunshine while enjoying the fruits of our labour. To me, this transition time offers a good opportunity for personal growth and exploration of new ideas, new interests and plenty of ‘quiet time.’

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We planted our vegetable garden over the weekend. Growing in our garden are eggplant, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, swiss chard, and sweet peppers. We also have rhubarb, chives, and blackberry bushes from the previous years.

The garden has been planted – both literally and figurative – and now is the time to tend to it, to promote growth by providing the essentials of sunshine, water and nutrients. The months between early May to late August tend to be very hectic for many people; sure, they are fun-busy, but they are fleeting, not always in a productive way. So, I am changing my routine this summer. Instead of filling my schedule to the brim with various summer-appropriate outings, I am clearing extra time in my schedule to dedicate to silence and personal growth.

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One of Pawel’s favourite ‘quiet’ activities.

Here are a few highlights from the month of May:

I don’t watch TV. I don’t miss it. – Giving up TV proved to be a non-event for me but has been essential to my personal growth.

Flirty Spring – I have been embracing my feminine nature more and more over the past few years, balancing out the masculine and feminine energies, allowing myself to receive life’s gifts amidst providing good care for my family.

Renew to Retreat – Minimalism does not mean life becomes boring. We can create big changes in our mental and emotional states simply by rearranging just one item to which we have become accustomed.

Magical Catharsis – On the practice of journaling as a ritual of emotional purging.

My Lifelong Experiment with Nutrition – Sharing my experience with this year’s spring cleanse. I have been reminded of our ever-changing nature and the importance of letting go of rigid ideas. Life is more enjoyable when we allow ourselves to be carried along with the ebb and flow.

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The sale continues in our online store until the end of the month, which means you only have a few more days to take advantage of the 30% off offer. We are also offering free worldwide shipping of every sale of a minimum of $100. Use the code ‘HappyBDay’ at checkout to receive your discount.

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What have been your traditional spring/summer self-care rituals? Are you doing anything differently this year to take better care of yourself?

THANK YOU for sharing this blog with a friend!

My Lifelong Experiment with Nutrition

Last week, I wrote about my journey with this year’s spring cleanse. It has been my experience that when I mention the word ‘detox’ to some people, they ask whether I am juicing, how strict the cleanse is, and for how long I have to be on the program. My answers are no, I do not juice; my cleanse is not strict (however, as with all other programs, it requires commitment to the action plan); and I set my own time frame for the cleanse.

I can’t blame the people who ask these questions with a look on their faces that lets me know how sorry they are for me. I used to respond in that same manner before I gained the understanding that it’s possible to cleanse in a gentle way. To me, a cleanse is not a punishing process that we undergo for three days and then abandon altogether when we return to a lifestyle of relying on coffee consumption to stay awake, eating greasy foods in a hurry, and drinking alcohol several times per week.

For me, an elimination cleanse is an opportunity to remove certain substances from my diet that have a tendency to make me feel unwell and/or zap my energy. It’s an opportunity for me to tune in and notice how I feel when I eat cleaner, healthier foods. Leading up to the detox, I was already eating plant-based food 90 per cent of the time. I did not consume alcoholic drinks and did not smoke, so I was starting with a relatively clean slate. However, I wanted to eliminate a habitual craving for chocolate, caffeine, cheese, and foods containing refined sugar.

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My typical breakfast (complete with oily fingerprints on the table that accidentally got into the shot): Steel-cut oats with coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, walnuts and desiccated coconut; herbal tea.

Throughout this year’s 10-day cleanse, I was able to successfully eliminate those pesky cravings. I have been enjoying my clean plant-based (mostly) nutrition plan and chose to continue with it past the completion of the cleanse. I love the feeling of clarity and the natural boost of energy I get when I eat steel-cut oats in the morning, beautiful soup with lentils for lunch, and various salads with chickpeas, hearty greens and plenty of garlic for dinner. I have also been avoiding snacking in-between meals. Since I don’t miss the taste of cake or cookies, I don’t want to venture back down that artificial sweet path unnecessarily and then feel the need to eliminate sugar from my diet once again.

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My typical lunch: Chickpea salad with purple cabbage, red bell peppers. carrots, pickled cucumbers, and avocado, drizzled with a dressing of lemon juice, EVOO, garlic, apple cider vinegar and sea salt.

I am not strict, but I try to stay disciplined. I have started to re-introduce dark raw chocolate and caffeinated tea into my diet, because I am not entirely against those. I have made a pact with myself to set certain boundaries around tea and chocolate and respect them. Instead of drinking caffeinated tea on a daily basis, I now choose to have a cup twice a week. Instead of eating four squares of dark chocolate every day after dinner, as I used to do, I allow myself a single square of chocolate every few days. Right now, this is the right lifestyle for me.

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My typical dinner: Stirfry with carrots, broccoli, bok choy, bell peppers, cashews, tofu, and garlic. Served on a bed of brown rice and sprinkled generously with sesame seeds.

I’m truly starting to understand the importance of continuing to experiment with nutrition and learning on an ongoing basis. It really is a lifelong journey. The way I ate five years ago no longer serves me. The way I eat now might not be right for me several months from today. Nothing is static. We continue to change. Our bodies continue to change. We have to honour ourselves and meet ourselves where we are today. There is no golden rule that everyone must follow when it comes to healthy nutrition. The only guideline I would recommend is to be kind to ourselves and to trust the intuitive feeling to guide us along the right path for us at this time. Focus on what is working today, stay present, continue to pay close attention to the fluctuations as they happen, and make the necessary adjustments.

How do you make decisions about healthy nutrition? Do you tend to read books or magazine articles on nutrition? Has your nutrition plan remained the same throughout your life, or has it changed? What were the catalysts for those changes?

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April Highlights

I woke up a bit later than usual this morning, at 5:30, and watched the fiery sun rising over the rooftops of the houses across the street as I sipped my warm lemon water. I love the meditative quality of a quiet sunrise in a still-asleep household where the only ones awake are the cats and I. That is precisely what keeps me coming back to this routine. In the spring and summer months, when the sun rises earlier, it’s easier for me to connect to this motivation as I rise to greet the sun. And so, as I sat at my kitchen table, reflecting on my enjoyment of the morning sunrise routine, it suddenly dawned on me (pun absolutely intended) that today is the last day of April. The year is zooming by.

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Here are a few of my highlight lessons from the month of April:

  1. No Drama!

Last week, as I was returning home from a business trip, I was held back at airport security when the metal detector wand beeped many times during a routine scan. If you’re like me, you might start to feel nervous when dealing with security and having to go through an extra scan of any type. I immediately started to feel as though I had done something wrong, knowing all the while that it simply was not so. My mind started to race, thinking of the myriad absurd reasons why the detector would beep around me. Then, I reminded myself to drop all those thoughts. I took a deep breath, mentally told my mind to shut up, and with a smile, approached the scanner machine. The female officer who guided me through the scan turned out to be very nice and had a fantastic sense of humour, making hilarious comments that may have sounded inappropriate to some but made me giggle and quickly soothed my nerves. I still do not know why the metal detector went off, but instead of creating drama out of the situation, I laughed it off and proceeded to Starbucks near my boarding gate, where I bought myself a grande mint tea and relaxed until my flight.

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Drama starts in our minds when we allow ourselves to overthink, to worry. When we consciously choose to drop the negative thoughts, the result will be a non-event. That’s right. Nothing particular will happen. Why? Because we will not allow ourselves to process what is happening. Instead, by going through the situation with Presence and Grace, breathing deeply and simply acknowledging what is happening right here in this moment, we allow ourselves to simply experience and stay open to whatever comes next. That experience is liberating. Imagine staying so open to any experience that it almost feels as though you are moving through a dream, just watching life happen to you, with curiosity, without trying to control it. We are naturally drawn to the desire to want to be in control of most situations, but when dealing with a challenging scenario, I find that what works best for me is to let go of trying to change the situation. In fact, I find it takes less energy to pray and trust that I am always going to be okay than it does to try to fight, to argue. As the saying goes, “Everything will be okay in the end, and if it’s not, it’s not the end.”

  1. Balance Lessons

I am continuing to work on my handstand, feeling more confident with each practice. There are days when I feel a bit low on energy or simply not interested in working too hard. On those days, I fall out of the inversion. Instead of persevering and continuing to force myself into the pose, I move on to a gentler practice. My yoga practice is starting to resemble my life off the mat, and my life off the mat is very much reflected in my yoga practice. I love the sense of expansive freedom I feel each time I follow my intuition and allow it to guide me to move the way I need to move on any given day. I used to be very rigid in my approach to exercise. Recently, I kicked all those old, non-serving rules to the curb. Some days call for a sweaty kickboxing workout and a vigorous Vinyasa flow. On other days, my mat, bolsters, blankets and a lavender-scented flax eye pillow summon me over for a soothing restorative practice. No guilt. No regrets. No counting calories. Just listening to my intuition and going with the flow. That’s my balance.

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  1. Detox Wonders

In addition to my digital detox, about which I wrote recently, for the past week, I have been going through my own version of a spring detox. I try to follow an Ayurvedic detox framework, so no strict juice cleanses for me! Instead, I design my own program that works for me at this time. I will reveal my main reason for undergoing this detox: My goal is to bring my adrenals and hormones into a healthier balance. I am a very private person and my health is usually not a subject that I discuss openly in this manner. However, the reason I am sharing my story is because I believe many women in our society are dealing with similar issues.

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Prior to my detox, I was dependant on caffeine to allow me to get through the day. I didn’t get enough sleep at night, then had to deal with fatigue and cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. I felt sluggish and tired all the time. I kept borrowing my energy from caffeine, sugar and carbs, but then ended up dealing with terrible PMS symptoms every month. I got plenty of exercise every morning, but my eating habits needed some tweaking.

On my detox plan, I have not been eating meat or dairy (I already follow a mostly plant-based diet, for health reasons, so I don’t miss meat, seafood and dairy at all), sugar, and caffeine. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to quickly become dependent on sugar and caffeine. I recently discovered that I do function best by abstaining from those substances altogether, instead of trying to moderate my consumption. So, I thought that the detox would be the best time to test that theory. My first four days without coffee were challenging, because I had a dull withdrawal headache through the entire day. However, I noticed that at that time, I did not miss the taste of coffee, nor did I crave chocolate as I normally do. I did have a small piece of my sister-in-law’s birthday cake on the second day of the detox. Birthday cake is considered to be an almost sacred ritual and we all know we have to have at least a small slice. Right? I still have to figure out how to navigate the birthday cake etiquette in the future. If you have any tips, I’d love to read them.

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Now, on Day 7 of my detox, I am feeling fantastic. I have been making a commitment to be in bed before 9 p.m. every night in order to get my eight hours of sleep. I no longer miss sugar or caffeine, though I miss the idea of drinking coffee as a social ritual and I sometimes miss the idea of crème brûlée , my favourite dessert. My energy has been soaring. I have been enjoying this new routine so much that I intend keep it for as long as possible. Thankfully, because my diet was already relatively ‘clean’ prior to starting the detox, I didn’t have to change too many of my eating habits. The way I eat now is the way I used to eat before, without heeding to unhealthy cravings. If you want to learn more about my detox, let me know and I will dedicate a new post to it.

  1. When In Doubt, Go Outside!

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Now that the days are warmer in Ontario, we have been trying to spend as much time outside as possible. This is the perfect time of year to ground ourselves and reconnect to the Earth by going out for walks, sitting near trees (tree hugging works wonders), and maybe even spreading a picnic blanket and eating lunch outside on the lawn. Last weekend, we did some horseback riding, thanks to my sister-in-law and her beautiful horse, Wave.

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Pawel spent half a day doing some volunteer work by planting trees at a local conservation area. After-dinner walks are also a welcome ritual to which we have been returning. So, go outside, reconnect and recharge!

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I’ll stop here. If you would like to learn more about my detox or if you have any other comments, please leave them below. Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!

Raw, Vegan Cannelloni

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A few weeks ago, I met a friend for lunch at a local raw food restaurant. Of all the healthy and unique items on the menu, I was particularly intrigued by the cannelloni. It tasted as wonderful as the description on the menu promised, and after leaving the restaurant, I was inspired to create my own version of the beautiful dish. Earlier this week, I experimented with a recipe. Both Pawel and I were very impressed with the result, and after posting the picture on Instagram, we received many requests for the recipe.
I don’t have many fancy photos of the ingredients for you, as I made the dish fairly quickly without expecting to post a winning recipe (see: approximately 10-15 minutes). The result was just too great not to share.
So, we’ll do this the old-fashioned way by simply posting the quick recipe below.
Raw, Vegan Cannelloni by Dharma Wanderlust
Ingredients:
2 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise using a vegetable peeler
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for a few hours
1 lemon, juiced
1 broccoli (florettes and a bit of the stem)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 large bunch of fresh basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
For the sauce:
2-3 tomatoes
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch of fresh basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
sea salt, to taste
Method:
1. In a food processor, pulse the broccoli, then add the cashews, garlic, basil, oregano and lemon juice. Continue to pulse until the mixture resembles ricotta cheese.
2. Layer four slices of zucchini, allowing them to overlap, and scoop a spoonful of the ‘cheese’ mixture on the zucchini. Starting at one short end, roll the zucchini into a tube shape and tuck the other short end underneath.
3. Prepare the sauce by pulsing the tomatoes with a bunch of fresh basil, dried oregano, olive oil and sea salt in the food processor.
4. Drizzle the tomato sauce generously on top of the cannelloni. Sprinkle with pine nuts, if desired.
Enjoy!
We’d love to hear what you think of this recipe. Please leave us a comment below. Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!

My go-to meal for the spring and summer seasons

The weather chez nous has been typical for April in Ontario: plenty of rain, but with a promise of sunshine and warmth to come in just a few days. Of course, that means that tulips and daffodils will soon start showing off their glorious colours. The cheerful golden and violet crocuses are already in full bloom outside the home of my in-laws.

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The crocuses are blooming!

Seven years ago, during the first spring season in our new home, I spent countless hours every day after work in our garden, planting seeds of wildflower that, come July and early August, decorated our backyard. Unfortunately, my wait for the blossoms the following year was unfruitful. Squirrels snatched the bulbs away, stashing them in their cozy hideaways in anticipation of the long winter. I didn’t do much gardening that following year, since I had more pressings needs – those of my new baby – to tend to. However, we did plant tomatoes, onions and rhubarb that year.

We plant a small vegetable garden every spring, but in the recent years, a temporary tenant groundhog chose our backyard as its new home. Our vegetable garden looked and smelled delicious. Overnight, the hungry groundhog munched all our zucchini and tomatoes, leaving us with nothing. I suspect that the wild rabbits living around our property might also have had a small bite to eat. I hope the groundhog shared a morsel with the bunnies! We learned our lesson. Last year, we built a wooden frame with a stretched net to protect our garden from rodents. Climbing over the net to tend to the garden bed has been an acrobatic challenge (thank goodness for yoga)!

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One of the hungry rascals!

Zucchini and tomatoes are a staple in our vegetable garden. Last year, we also planted kale, which was delicious and provided us with several large fresh salads throughout the summer.

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The weather might still be a bit on the chilly side, but I have been feeling ready to shed some stagnant winter energy and shake things up a bit. So, I have been changing my diet, still enjoying hot tea and lighter soups, but also eating fresh, raw food. A friend introduced me a few years ago to a raw Pad Thai dish. Since then, the popularity of this dish in the plant-based/raw community has exploded. There are so many versatile recipes for it on Pinterest! I keep changing the way I prepare it each time, but here is this week’s delicious version:

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Raw Pad Thai à la Dharma Wanderlust

Ingredients:

2 small-medium zucchini, shredded thinly using a mandolin peeler

2 medium carrots, thinly shredded

2 cups shredded red cabbage

2 cups broccoli florets, chopped into bite-size pieces

 

Ingredients for the dressing:

2 tbsp tahini

½ lemon, juiced

2 tbsp hot boiled water

2 tbsp tamari sauce

3 garlic cloves, crushed

finely grated ginger (to taste)

 

Method:

  1. Shred all the vegetables and stir them together in a large bowl.
  2. For the dressing, in a small bowl, stir together the tahini, water, lemon juice, tamari and crushed garlic.
  3. Stir everything well and leave overnight. The vegetables will absorb the beautiful flavours of the dressing!

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Variations:

Feel free to play with the combinations of vegetables. The spiralized zucchini is a staple in this dish, as it’s meant to resemble traditional Pad Thai noodles. I would also keep the carrots. As for the rest, experiment with your favourite vegetables! I like to add thinly sliced sweet peppers and toss some green onions and organic edamame beans into the mix. It’s almost asparagus and fiddlehead season here, and those would be great in this dish, though I prefer to eat asparagus and fiddleheads steamed and/or grilled.

For the dressing, feel free to use peanut butter or almond butter in lieu of the tahini. I usually add cilantro to the dressing, but I simply didn’t have any on hand this time. If you like peanuts, crush a few roasted peanuts and crumble them on top of the dish right before serving.

Some people like to consume this dish immediately after removing it from the refrigerator. Personally, when it comes to raw food, I prefer to consume it at room temperature (as a Vata girl, it’s just so much better for my belly), so I allow it to sit on the counter for a few hours before eating it.

Enjoy! Leave a comment to let me know what you think of this recipe. Also, I would be curious to know whether you plan a flower and/or vegetable garden every year. What are your favourite vegetables to plant and/or eat in the spring?

Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend!

Craving less noise. And a plant-based raw lemon tart that we love.

Photo By Joshua Earle

Photo courtesy of https://unsplash.com/

On a Monday evening, I arrived at home from work and, after changing into my pajamas, was about to head downstairs to start preparing dinner. First, however, I thought I would check my email. In my email inbox were 20 new ads from various retailers, quietly shouting at me about their latest promotions. Since I was already at my computer and remembered that I was expecting a reply from a friend via a private message on Facebook, I opened a new tab in my browser only to see that not one private message but 50 notifications were awaiting my attention. Fifty?! I shut the lid of my laptop and took a deep breath, exhaling to release the feelings of overwhelm.

When I returned to my social media accounts later, I took a proverbial step back to look at what, exactly, was taking up space on my feed. Pictures of food. News about a celebrity who deliberately tried to embarrass herself in public. Articles about why a Paleo diet is the best thing we can embrace. Articles about why sugar is terrible for us. Articles about loving ourselves as we are today. Articles about why too much meat is unhealthy; about why certain types of fat are good; about why a juice cleanse is not for everyone. Articles about free-range parenting, a controversial topic that sparks angry debates. Memes about breastfeeding in public, shaming the opponents. Articles about why the yoga selfie phenomenon has gotten old. Articles about why the yoga selfie trend is inspiring.

That is the information of which I made note within the five minutes I allotted myself for checking social media before sitting down to work on my writing. I did not click on any of the above articles, nor did I comment or click ‘like’ on any of the pictures and status updates I saw. Yet, I was feeling – frankly – exhausted after merely skimming through all the information. Enough.

When I told Pawel I was thinking about taking a long break from Facebook, he asked me why it bothers me as much as it does. I know I tend to engage deeply with a lot of information, and I am the first to admit that after reading several articles with conflicting information, I feel the need to take a long nap. This social media exhaustion, as I have come to term it, can take a toll on my energy level.

I realize, also, how counterintuitive this may sound to those of you who may have found this blog post through one of our social media outlets. Pawel and I appreciate each reader of this blog. For that reason, if you wish, I invite you to subscribe to receive the updates from this blog in your email inbox once a week (sometimes twice).

I am making space, simplifying my life, directing my energy where it is truly needed most. I am stepping back and choosing to create less noise. I am choosing to ignore the noise. This is part of my practice of mindfulness in the age of social media.

We will continue to log in to update our Instagram, Twitter, tsu, Pinterest and Facebook account once a week to share our blog with you. Pawel will continue to manage our accounts at this time. And of course, we always enjoy connecting with you. Please feel free to leave a comment or email us directly through our website.

In the meantime, here’s a spring-themed recipe for a raw plant-based lemon tart that we whipped up last weekend within about 25 minutes. The original recipe is from Wholefood Simply, which is one of our favourite blogs. However, I modified it slightly and below is my version of the tart. Enjoy!

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Raw Plant-Based Lemon Tart

Ingredients:

Crust:

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

½ cup walnuts

9 pitted dates

1-2 tbsp coconut cream (from full-fat canned coconut milk that has been refrigerated for at least eight hours)

A pinch of salt

½ tsp natural vanilla extract

Filling:

1 cup raw cashews

1 cup walnuts

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Zest and juice from 2 lemons

¼ cup maple syrup

1/3 cup coconut cream (see above)

Pinch of salt

Preparation method:

  1. Place all the ingredients for the crust in a food processor and pulse for about 2 minutes, until the ingredients start to come together, forming a ball.
  2. With your hands lightly moistened, press the crust into a greased non-stick tart form.
  3. Place all the ingredients for the filling in the food processor and pulse until creamy and well-integrated.
  4. Fill the crust, using a spatula to spread the contents evenly.
  5. Decorate with thin lemon slices, if you wish.
  6. Place in the fridge for a few hours to allow the tart to set. You may also overwrap the tart with foil and plastic wrap and freeze it, if desired.

Enjoy!

Healing food stigma… And a recipe for scrumptuous roasted vegetables

I have tried to be the perfect modern yogi, trying to grow my hair, wearing Birkenstocks (I do like them, but they aren’t the most flattering or dressy shoes, in my opinion), and sticking to a Paleo diet. Somewhere along the line, within the past 16 years of my yoga practice, I had absorbed the idea that to be a good yogi, I needed to fit the perfect Instagram image of a yoga girl and that to inspire others, I needed to live up to a certain lifestyle stereotype.

Over tea with a dear friend this afternoon, I confessed this to her, adding, “Really, I love drinking lattes with real dairy milk, not almond milk or soy milk lattes. I love eating dessert with real sugar from time to time and I don’t want to give up my favourite crème brûlée. I sometimes eat too much chocolate.” Deep breath. Let it out. Phew.

My friend was not in the least surprised. “Of course,” she said, “you’re a European girl.”

I’m curious to know about the lifestyle of European yogis, though I have heard that the health craze is not as strict in Europe as it is in North America. I have never been to a studio in Europe — it’s been six years since I last traveled to Europe — but I’m curious. I love real coffee and dessert. I had given it up for a short while, just as I attempted to give up gluten. I also gave up dairy for a while. Yet, I soon realized that my approach to healthy diet and exercise was an ‘all or nothing’ approach that stemmed not from within, from the desire to feel better in my body. Instead, it stemmed from the ubiquitous stigma that certain foods are ‘clean and good’ and others are ‘bad for us.’ Because of this, if I allowed myself to slip and eat a sweet pastry one day, the following day all my diet rules would go right out the window.

Ayurveda has been the perfect approach for me and I learned how to eat best for my constitution, how to best honour my body, when to eat my most substantial meals (breakfast and lunch) and how to eat a light dinner, as well as which food combinations to avoid. Nevertheless, though I know that it’s never a good idea to mix two different types of protein, I still love St. Julien cheese with its beautiful walnuts in the creamy centre. I eat that particular cheese probably once a year (also because it’s not cheap), but I enjoy it to the maximum. Nowadays, I’m trying to take a more balanced approach to nutrition, eating healthy foods 90 per cent of the time and allowing myself treats on occasion. I eat a bit of dark chocolate every afternoon while taking a short siesta, but I allow myself dessert with real sugar (gasp) once a week. Sometimes, I even drink a bit of wine. I don’t drink green juices and smoothies in the colder months and only enjoy them in the summer. I don’t use protein powder because I’m wary of anything over-processed, and that includes what the health world considers to be good for us. I make my own diet rules. I eat real food, made with real ingredients. I use olive oil, coconut oil, ghee and yes, butter. I eat real bread from time to time, slathered with organic peanut butter. Some mornings, when I want to take a break from my usual steel-cut oats, toasted bread with peanut butter is the best complement to a latte made with organic 2% milk (there’s the dairy and nut protein combo again).

I do take Ashwaganda and a few other supplements that could be featured in an article or video titled Sh*t Crunchy Girls Say. Yes, I do some crunchy things and eat typical ‘yogi’ foods. I do enjoy Ezekiel sprouted grains bread and happen to go crazy for a splash of almond milk in tea or when it’s used as a base for smoothies in the summer.

The bottom line is that I will continue to make my own rules, listen to my body and its needs every day, and choose wisely… Most of the time. I will continue to fine-tune the way I eat and my approach to nutrition. I believe most of us need to continue to make small changes to our diet and the way we eat, in general.

Now, here’s a truly healthy simple, vegan (unless you do choose to add the chicken breast mentioned at the end), gluten- and dairy-free, and (I think) guilt-free recipe that I’d like to share with you…

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I love roasted root vegetables for their sweet taste and grounding effect. For the Vata season, roasted vegetables are my go-to recipe.

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Aren’t beets absolutely gorgeous? I’m in awe of their stunning colour.

Ingredients

2 sweet potatoes

3 beets

1 red bell pepper

1 tbsp melted coconut oil

1 tsp coarse sea salt

1 tsp dried oregano

1 onion, sliced lengthwise

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

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Method

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Coarsely chop the sweet potatoes, beets and peppers and place in a baking pan. Pour the melted oil over the vegetables, sprinkle with the sea salt and oregano, and stir. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

3. At medium-high heat, stirring constantly, toast the pumpkin seeds. Remove and set aside to cool. TIP: The seeds will continue to toast if they remain in the hot pan, so it’s best to pour the seeds out into a separate bowl.

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4. Using a small amount of coconut oil, toss the onions at medium-high heat until they are soft and golden-brown in colour.

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5. To plate, serve the roasted vegetables with the onions and seeds on top.

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If you prefer meat to plant-based protein, omit the seeds and place grilled chicken breast pieces on top of the vegetables.

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The result is delicious and satisfying.

Enjoy, and let us know what you think!

We are curious to know about your approach to healthy nutrition, so leave us a comment with your opinions.

Until next time,

Katia

Dharma Wanderlust

 

Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup Recipe. And… Come visit us!

Does it not feel as though this year is just zooming right past us? Here we are, in October, and just this evening, as I was putting my summer clothes away for the colder months, I realized how quickly the seasons appear to be transitioning this year. Thankfully, Pawel and I were able to make the most of the summer months, starting with backyard barbecue dinners in early May, camping during the last weekend in May, and many other interesting daytrips and getaways all through until the end of August. And although the month of October is my favourite month of the fall season, I know that it, too, will make a swift grand exit. Hey, at least we’ll get to say goodbye while dressed in costume!

Since this is one of my favourite months of the year, I am determined to make the most of it. I will continue to explore all the luxuries of this beautiful golden month; I will continue to create; and I will seek to be inspired every day in order to inspire others. It feels as though this year has been a roller coaster ride for many, and we all deal with challenges. Yet, I want to make life sweeter. Every day. Who’s coming with me?

To go along with the above theme, I will share with you a recipe for a fantastic sweet and heart-warming soup. I first experimented with this soup two winters ago and its simple and delicious flavour brought me home to comfort.

Pinterest

Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

Ingredients:

2 medium-large sweet potatoes or yams

1 tbsp butter or ghee (to make the soup vegan, you may use EVOO or coconut oil)

1 large white or yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 medium carrots, chopped

7 cups vegetable stock or water

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 bay leaves

1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

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Method:

1. Wash and bake the sweet potatoes for about an hour at 350F (preheated oven). Using a fork, pierce the potatoes to ensure that they are soft enough. Allow the sweet potatoes to cool before peeling them and chopping into 1-inch cubes.

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2. In a heavy-bottom cooking pot, melt the butter / ghee / oil on medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic and cook for a few minutes on medium heat, until golden and soft.

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3. Add the chopped sweet potato and carrots to the pot and continue cooking for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Stir in the salt, turmeric, bay leaves, and cinnamon (if using). Continue cooking for another minute, stirring constantly.

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5. Add the vegetable stock or water and bring to a boil. Then, cover the pot and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.

6. Allow the soup to cool. Then, discard the bay leaves, and puree in batches in a standing blender or use an immersion blender. The consistency should be completely smooth.

7. Serve and enjoy!

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I served this soup for lunch last week with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds. On the side are two mini pitas with avocado and sea salt on top, with baby spinach, homemade sour cabbage and carrot slaw, and a drizzle of EVOO.


 

Come visit us!

Pawel and I are thrilled to have a booth at the Fall Made by Hand Show on October 18th and 19th at the International Centre, Mississauga. We will showcase our wooden jewellery, wine bottle stoppers, and belt buckles.

If you are in the Toronto area, visit this wonderful show to purchase unique handmade products. It’s a great opportunity to start your Christmas shopping early. We will be at booth 110 and look forward to meeting many of our clients there.

Best wishes for a colourful and sweet first week of October,

Katia

Dharma Wanderlust

 

Self-care tips for the Vata season. Restorative yoga. Butternut squash and apple soup. Latest wooden pendants.

In Southern Ontario, Autumn is in full swing. And we love it. Unfortunately, like many of our friends, we have also been affected by the cold virus. That’s something that can happen with the changing of the seasons.

Now that we are mostly feeling better, we have been going outside every day to enjoy the changing landscape and enjoy the crisp chill in the air. Apple-picking is a favourite fall activity for our family. The boys always get a thrill out of running through the orchard and choosing the juiciest apples they can find. So, on Sunday, we dressed warmly and headed to our favourite organic orchard to pick apples.

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Upon returning home with our delicious bounty, I was filled with inspiration to get in the kitchen and cook something seasonal and heart-warming. More on that below.

In Ayurveda, the fall season is governed by Vata, which is composed of ether and air. It’s no surprise that for many of us, this season also signifies the start of the cold virus. The lazy, lingering summer days are rarely strictly structured, keeping us up late at night and encouraging us to take cat naps in the hot and hazy afternoons. The following fall season signifies a complete change in energy. Suddenly, everything moves faster as we try to get back to our regular routine, sometimes anxiously struggling to keep up. This sudden change in routine can be incredibly stressful for the body and the mind.

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As someone with a dominant Vata dosha and a bit of Pitta, I love the fall season for the relief it provides from the humid and hot summer days. However, I get cold very quickly and when it seems to me like most people around me are walking around in September with short-sleeved t-shirts on, I can be seen wearing a cozy sweater. I no longer feel self-conscious about this. I do what I need to do to take care of myself.

What else do I do to take care of myself, following the lessons of Ayurveda for the Vata season? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ll share with you what I do, and please feel free to borrow these ideas for your own self-care, particularly if your constitution is mostly Vata.

I go to sleep between 9 and 10 p.m. every night and wake up at 5 a.m. This ensures that I get 7-8 hours of sleep on most nights. In the morning, after oil pulling and brushing my teeth, I drink a tall glass of warm water with fresh lemon juice and then exercise for an hour (yoga, cardio, pilates, or weights). After I shower, I do an oil massage before sitting down to have breakfast.

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I eat at approximately the same times every day: breakfast at 7:30 a.m.; lunch at 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.; dinner at 5-5:30 p.m. I consume a lot of healthy oils (avocado, coconut oil, EVOO) and hot, unctuous, mostly liquid foods such as steel-cut oats with cooked apples and cinnamon, soup, vegetable stews, etc. I still eat my greens (kale and spinach are great), but I either sprinkle the leaves on a hot bowl of stew/soup or consume a salad massaged with a lot of oil (see above) immediately prior to eating my soup/stew. I eat cooked/roasted root vegetables with — again — lots of oil. Why is oil consumption so important? The air and ether qualities of Vata mean that during this season, we have a tendency to feel dryness. We need the moisture, both on the surface of the skin and on the inside of the body.

If you, like I do, eat meat occasionally, I would suggest eating salad (at room temperature), followed by lean meat at lunchtime. Our digestion is strongest from 10 a.m. to 1-2 p.m. As such, my substantial meals are breakfast and lunch. Dinner for me is small and simple. Usually, I will have a bowl of soup with a toast of sprouted grains topped with avocado and sea salt. Eating dinner before the sun sets is also ideal, because our digestive system slows down after sundown. Of course, since the sun starts to set earlier these days, it’s best to try to eat dinner at around 5 p.m., if possible.

Interested in additional information on self-care during this season? I love this website and use it frequently as a great resource.

So, to summarize, this is a time to sloooooow down and get grounded, luxuriate under warm blankets, eat grounding food with healthy oil, and get plenty of rest. What about exercise? That, too, should be more grounding at this time. Long walks are excellent, as is a yoga practice with slow, deliberate Vinyasa and standing/balance postures held for a few long breaths. Restorative yoga is excellent right now.

A couple of years ago, shortly after our younger son was born, I felt I needed to get outside and move, but I also craved rest and relaxation to get me through the long days of taking care of our two children. And no, that pattern has not changed. Here is a video I made during that time, a how-to of one of my favourite restorative yoga postures, Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose):

Feel free to use a few blankets and cushions in lieu of the bolsters and blocks, if you do not have those at home. Relax and breathe in the pose for about 10-15 minutes.

So, back to the weekend… Here is what I cooked using butternut squash and the beautiful apples we picked on Sunday:

 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND APPLE SOUP

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We started with a few basic ingredients:

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Then, we chopped the onion and sauteed it with ghee while continuing with the preparation of our apples and butternut squash…

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We reserved the butternut squash seeds and roasted them later on a baking sheet at 300F for about 30 minutes. I didn’t add any oil or sea salt to the seeds this time, but that’s a great option, if it’s the way you like your pumpkin/squash seeds.

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Cook the squash and onions in a large soup pot, and then add the apples, a teaspoon of sea salt, and a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ground turmeric.

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Add enough distilled water to cover the chopped squash and apple, and then top with another 3-4 inches of water. You can use vegetable stock in lieu of the water.

Bring the soup to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to simmer for about 30 minutes or until the squash is completely tender. Allow to cool a bit before using a blender to create a smooth consistency:

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Yes, our soup was steaming hot while we blended it, simply because we were hungry and our children kept asking when dinner was going to be served. I would highly recommend allowing the soup to cool before blending it.

To serve, we sprinkled the soup with cinnamon, but those roasted seeds were also great. We garnished the soup with the seeds for dinner the following day.

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The ingredients:

1 tbsp ghee (coconut oil or butter can also be used)

1 medium-sized white or yellow onion

1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and chopped, with the seeds reserved for roasting

2 apples (choose firm, tart apples that will hold well together during the cooking process)

1 tsp fine sea salt

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Enough water to cover the chopped squash and apples, plus 3-4 inches on top. An alternative is to add vegetable stock.

Enjoy, and let us know what you think!

***

Our final update is regarding our latest product finishes. We are preparing for the Made by Hand Show and creating new, unique, interesting pendants for you.

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Knitting-inspired pendant, made of Purpleheart wood and crushed shell inlay.

sup red amboyna burl

SUP-inspired pendant, made of Red Amboyna Burl, with turquoise inlay.

mantis purple heart

We do like insects! Praying mantis pendant, made of Purpleheart wood with crushed shell inlay.

As always, please leave a comment to let us know what you think of our new products, this week’s recipe, yoga pose, or about whether you enjoy the fall season as much as we do. If you did take the Dosha quiz (link above), let us know what your Dosha is and how you cope with weather changes.

Until next time, enjoy the week!

Katia

Dharma Wanderlust