SalmonBerry

Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

Breathe

In Mindfulness, Yoga on December 2, 2014 at 8:09 pm
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Daily practice

If you can breathe, then yoga is for you. Yes, that does mean absolutely everyone.

Avoiding yoga by saying it’s not your thing or you tried it once is like saying that you’ve tried food and it just didn’t work out for you so you’ve decided not to eat.

Yoga is merely connecting to your breath, and, as a result, your body, wholeheartedly. Every single day. Every single vulnerable minute. Every single exposed nanosecond.

In a simple, yet constraining, seated twist or in a challenging, open-hearted backbend. Finding the place in a pose – and in your life – where you can truly breath, with depth and ease, is no mere feat. How you get to that place will be different for everyone. The magic of asanas is that they are designed to take you to this place of connection. To unlock the mystery of what is holding you back. To release the pent up emotions. The ones that are much more subtle then the overt twins of anger and anxiety that can usually be fended off by a good, long run. Emotions like shame, self-doubt, and contempt.

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Beauty in the struggle

No wonder you avoid yoga practice. It can feel super icky.

And it’s not the hurts-so-good burn of lactic acid build-up during a spin class. This is down-and-dirty, how-can-I-ever-look-someone-in-the-eye-again, kind-of hurt. But then you stay with it, you don’t avoid it, you breathe through it, and suddenly you have moved into a different pose/place/time and all is effortless. You feel light and shining and powerful and graceful and humbled and grateful.

Yoga is not balancing on your forearms while touching your toes to the top of your head. Yoga is not sitting in lotus for hours without moving a muscle. Yoga is not folding your sweaty self in half in a heated room. And, yet, if that is the yoga that works for you, then it is. Yoga is about viciously carving out time for yourself to work on the “you” that is outside the physical plane. It is the time you take to connect your body, mind, and spirit. The practice you do in order to sit with your self and your breath in silence without wanting to bolt from the situation. Without wanting your current reality to be different.

Yoga works on you energetically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you don’t buy that, it doesn’t mean that yoga is not for you, it only means you haven’t done enough yoga. You haven’t fully surrendered to the possibilities, to the potentiality, of really practicing yoga. This is a phenomenon that you can feel. It very visibly shows up in your life through the intensely radical as well as the softly subtle changes that occur once you commit to your practice.

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Freedom and peace is revealed

I used to run a lot. I still do. Just not as much. Running felt wonderful and cathartic and afterwards, for awhile, I was at peace. But it was never sustainable. Quite easily I would find myself jolted out of the flow and into reactive mode. Practicing more asanas, more often, allowed me to finally sit in mediation and actually capture that sustainable peace – for, like, days and weeks.

I am moving toward longer stretches of peaceful bliss and I always will be…

Opening to Curiosity

In Yoga on August 9, 2013 at 7:56 pm

0119_130502_SalmonberryMy journey into a daily, at-home, yoga practice has been long and varied with fits and starts and shifting focus. But all of it has been progress and a continual building on itself even if it didn’t appear that way at the time. Maybe to someone other than myself, it looks like a bunch of detours and u-turns but I’m just following the light that bubbles up inside of me when I practice – when I sit in meditation, when I kick up into a handstand, when I surrender to a forward bend.

Sometimes yoga feels like a struggle both physically and emotionally – but within any struggle there comes that moment of light, that burst of relief from the tension, a softening of the pushing and striving.

Practicing yoga makes you curious. You start to tap into and uncover parts of yourself that you didn’t know were there which then stimulates an interest and yearning to keep exploring and finding things outside yourself that encourage these ‘new’ parts of you. Sometimes you uncover light, sometimes you uncover dark. Either way, if you stay open and curious, it will lead you to miraculous places.

0143_130502_SalmonberryYou can start with any of the eight limbs of yoga or you can start with the most obvious, accessible, and least subtle. The asana or posture practice. For many, the physical practice is the beginning of being curious. The poses move your body in ways that are counter to it’s habits and challenge you to hang in there mentally. This physical opening, or energetic release, of the parts of your body – your hips, upper back, hamstrings, shoulders – that are tight or locked down allows something new to rush in.

A curiosity about your mind, a curiosity about your dominant emotions, a curiosity about the effect of food on your body and mood, a curiosity about the inherent beauty of nature, a curiosity about that neighbor whom you never bothered to speak to, a curiosity about your ancestor’s native country.

These peaks of interest – the places where you never realized the light was shining – lead you to take that belly dancing class or stock your pantry with new foods or pick up a different book or talk to a local artist or read old journals or ask your grandmother about her childhood or take that road trip or apply for that job or walk into that meet-up group.

The light will catch your attention anyway it can. Following your curiosity and consistently stimulating your innate knowing through yoga leads to a flowering of the heart and the realization that life can be, and, actually, always is, joyful.

Salmonberried

In Mindfulness, Yoga on July 8, 2013 at 2:32 am
salmonberry breakfast

Inspired by my business name.

When I first began handing out my business cards, one friend in particular (a very funny dude) immediately starting using Salmonberry as a verb. Such as “I salmonberried some shrimp on the grill” or “Let’s salmonberry this yoga class and get coffee and a scone instead” or “Why don’t you salmonberry some greens and garlic and pair it with brown rice?” Even as a verb it has many different meanings with most people not realizing that salmonberries are an actual fruit.

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Lunch break during Salmonberry photo shoot. Smoked salmon, avocado, and watermelon juice.

I like the anonymity of my business name in that it’s not tied to a particular industry. I could design motorcycles or develop a line of lip gloss under this name. Salmonberry Consulting was inspired by my childhood in Bristol Bay. Salmonberries are a tart, coral-colored (reminiscent of wild salmon flesh), raspberry-looking berry that grows wild in the Pacific Northwest of North America. And two of my favorite foods are salmon and berries, both of which are uber-healthy superfoods, so “Salmonberry Consulting” was born.

me looking at salmon

At 3 years old checking out sockeye salmon caught in set-net.

Speaking of born, I was literally built and grown on salmon. My parents would throw salmon and veggies from their garden in a blender and feed the puree to me in my high chair. The salmon was obtained by casting set-nets on the beach in front of our home. The 25-foot tidal surge would bring a bumper crop of king and sockeye salmon that would feed us all winter long. As I child, I didn’t realize this privelege and begged my parents to buy canned tuna at the store for a change of pace. They would just laugh and now I get why. Many of my friends growing up came from families of commercial fishermen (and are now fishermen themselves). Bristol Bay and the Nushagak River (to which the spawning salmon return each year) is the largest sockeye salmon run in the world accounting for over 50% of all wild-caught sockeye salmon. This fishery is heavily regulated with oversight by Alaska Fish & Game to ensure the runs are sustainable and both subsistence and commercial needs will be met for generations. You can feel good about purchasing wild Alaskan salmon as this wild fish has all the uber-healthy qualities we expect from seafood without being over-fished.

me meditating

Me. Pretending to meditate.

Anyway, the point of all this is an exercise for me to fully wrap my head around the fact that the scope of my business will be changing this summer as well as over the next year. And, it’s all going to be OK. I won’t be teaching as much yoga or meditation…in person…as I am evolving to doing online-coaching for both. I’ll be teaming up with a personal trainer from Vancouver whose fitness coaching is entirely online – Anthrophysique. I’ve dismantled my yoga studio for the summer so I could rent my home as a vacation rental and as I took it apart, I got this overwhelming feeling that I would not be putting it back together again in the fall. I immediately got this scary I-don’t-want-anything-to-change feeling. I’ve since reviewed that fear and I realize that my studio will be back in the fall but it will be used less for teaching groups and more for filming and documenting the goings-on at Salmonberry Studio. Online yoga coaching involves me demonstrating poses for my clients and for them to have access to repeated viewing (as opposed to a Skype session); therefore, the need to film myself. Scary stuff. For me at least. It’s a whole new way of putting myself out there.

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I’m going to have to wear a name tag.

 Let’s also add in that I will basically be going back to school in the fall. Beginning in September, I will be a full-time dietetic intern doing clinical and food service rotations at various locations around San Diego…working 9-5, 40hrs/week. I’ll have to wear shoes and a bra. I won’t be able to take yoga breaks or eat lunch by the water on my favorite bench. This next year will be a time for enormous growth but I’m resisting. I am enjoying the current structure from which I will now have to release my grip. I’m feeling quite childish and stubborn. And scared. I am embarking, yet again, into the unknown to do things that I’m not quite comfortable with. I know I need to let go and relax into the experience because it is exactly what I have called into my life for a specific purpose. But, wow, I can feel my body resisting! Any chance you are maintaining a tight grip on an out-dated structure that may need to be let go?

Cleanse – Day 4

In Mindfulness, Nutrition, Yoga on May 17, 2013 at 7:24 pm
tea

All tea. All day.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” ~Albert Einstein

I awoke feeeling rested on Day 4, aka All Tea, All Day, and, as a I made tea and sat down to meditate, I had every intention of writing (well, maybe I ‘planned’ it…) after I got up from my meditation cushion. Instead I ended up checking email, facebook, twitter…anything but starting to write. Although I was rested, I didn’t feel super sharp or motivated. At my morning yoga class I had a deep meditative experience and found myself very present with all that I was doing and with whom I was interacting. It’s an amazing experience. I felt so full and engaged and “ON”. Like everything I’m feeling and doing at that moment is exactly what should be happening and all of my energy and attention is a laser beam to the present moment. It’s the elusive “FLOW” and I want to live there always.

As a result of my amazing yoga class, I felt very energetic and alert when, after a quick stop for avocados and lemons, I returned home and started on food prep for the next 3 days of the cleanse. The 3 days following All Tea, All Day are known as the Raw Days where I would be eating only raw fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, a bit of raw honey and cold-pressed plant oils, as well as plenty of fresh-pressed fruit & veggie juices. Additionally, I would be entering that 1/2 of my week know as “full-on, single-parenting” and I needed to have a stocked fridge or I wouldn’t eat often enough to keep me pleasant towards my children or have enough variety to keep me interested in sticking with the cleanse.

stocked fridge

Prepared for the raw days of the cleanse.

While making my raw food staples, Chakra Salad and Salmonberry Spread, I rocked out to the Sgt. Pepper’s album. Who didn’t love the song ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ when they were a kid? I thought it was the most imaginative and wacky adult song I had ever heard (it all made sense once I got to college!). And it is still a fun song to sing along to even with all that talk about tangerine skies and marshmallow pies fueling my appetite.

yogi teabag

Yogi Tea tags are my fortune cookies.

I felt very productive as I admired my stocked fridge and satisfied that I was able to kill 2-3 hours. And then it crept in. Now what? Sure, I could’ve filled my time with any numerous productive activities that may or may not have needed to get done. But they would have been distractions, another opportunity to not still myself, to not feel the feelings that I’d stuffed inside yesterday or last year or the last decade. I had wanted to cleanse myself physically and emotionally but I was also scared of truly letting go. My mind was saying “your kids will be back in 4 hours, get some stuff done before then. Make sure you’re ‘prepared’.” What does that mean anyway? Prepared? Isn’t it part of the Boy Scouts’ motto? Prepared means you are focused on the future. You are anticipating how it will turn out and what ‘things’ you will need for these future expectations. If you are prepared, you’ve done some planning.

I consider myself in recovery from ‘excessive planning disease’ which reached epic proportions when I become a mother twice within 18 months. I do believe some planning and preparation is necessary in life (I had just finished food prep for the next 3 days!) but it is so easy to get all self-righteous and control-freaky about planning. And, for me, it takes some serious mindfulness to ACTIVELY NOT PLAN my entire life away. Allowing myself the freedom for spontaneity and synchronicity to bubble up, taking equal precedence in my life, has opened me to some of the greatest opportunities for joy and playfulness that I’ve experienced since becoming so ‘adult’ about everything. This excerpt from the poem “What to Remember When Waking” by David Whyte sums it up for me: “…what you can plan is too small for you to live…”.

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Listen to your heart. Eat chocolate.

When my heart said to me “the best way you can ‘prepare’ is nurture yourself right now”, I followed my heart’s advice into a steaming, hot, bubble bath at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon! As I soaked in the bath I was conscious of how my body felt as it was supported and surrounded by the hot water. The scalding heat. The tickle-y bubbles. The slippery wetness. Conscious breathing took me deeper into my body as I inhaled the lavender scent of the bubbles and felt my muscles release and relax into the bath.

My mind, trying to rationalize as always, said, “of course! this is exactly what you needed to ‘prepare’.” But I wasn’t taking the bath to prepare myself for anything. I was taking the bath because it was most supportive thing I could do at that moment. Letting go and slowing down my breathing, along with my mind, allowed to me uncover messages, insights, epiphanies, aha moments, knowing, whatever it is that you want to call those magical, heart-centered moments, and then I could continue to stumble along…a little bit closer to those desires to which I’m being guided.

Cleanse – Day 2

In Mindfulness, Nutrition, Yoga on April 29, 2013 at 7:21 am
cauliflower and cayenne

Steamed cauliflower with cayenne.

“Witnessing can be called the seed and enlightenment can be called the flowers. But begin from witnessing, and then it starts growing. Go on nourishing it, go on caring for it, go on watering it, strengthen it in every possible way — and one day it is going to blossom. That day will be the greatest day of your life.” ~Osho

Day 2 went much smoother. I had to be at the studio at 6am to open for sunrise yoga and I contemplated stopping at Brick ‘n Bell for a decaf coffee (I stop there every morning that I open the studio) but I didn’t think I could resist the smell of baking pastries (mmm, slowly savoring a cranberry scone in my mind right now). Had cleansing soup and green juice for breakfast at the studio. Went straight to DMV (had an appointment – painless). Then to my home studio to teach a class at noon. It was a gorgeous day so after class I took my soup bowl down to the beach and ate it while sitting in the sand. Getting outside and into nature as often as possible during your cleanse makes the 10th bowl of soup in 2 days taste sooo much better. Nature has a grounding, calming effect. Ever take a wailing newborn outdoors and suddenly the crying stops?

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Beach at the end of my street.

I had errands on my to-do list for that afternoon but the beach was too beautiful to miss the opportunity to dig my toes in the sand and write in my journal. I had also planned to go to power yoga in the early evening before full-moon meditation but, as usually happens during these cleanses, my energy starts dipping in the afternoon, so I skipped it and worked on my computer instead. I hesitated when deciding to skip yoga. It was tempting to just power through the fatigue. My ‘stay-cation’ was the reason I had an opportunity to attend that class and part of me was saying “grab every opportunity, every time”. It’s the part of me that believes in scarcity. I’d rather choose the abundance mentality as often as possible because who wants to live believing there is never enough or will never be another chance?

cleansing soup

Cleansing Soup.

Full-moon meditation was very intense. The energy was thick as I dropped right into a deep state and was grateful that I had taken the time to eat enough and had not pushed myself too far physically. The thing about this cleanse is that you’re eating all day long. Since the meals are only veggies, they are not calorically-dense but they are high in fiber; therefore, there is only so much volume you can eat in one meal. Fiber may make you feel physically full but it’s fat that is linked to satiety (fat delays gastric emptying – stomach to small intestine). The carbs in veggies are digested quickly and moved from your stomach into your small intestine for absorption and then, bingo – you’re hungry again. I carry around baggies of steamed sugar snap peas (and veggie juice) to make sure my blood sugar doesn’t get too low. I must have eaten 5 bowls of soup this day and I just couldn’t eat another so I simmered cauliflower in veggie broth, onions, and garlic for a quick meal before meditation. With a sprinkle of cayenne, it was a delicious change of pace and exactly what I needed to get to that place where everything just falls away…

Cleanse – Day 1

In Mindfulness, Nutrition on April 27, 2013 at 10:46 pm
juices

Veggie Juices

“Habits allow us to not think about what we’re doing . . . giving us the illusion of ease. When we are under the illusion of ease, not thinking about what we’re doing and breathing the same old way, moving the same old way, thinking the same old way, we check out of the present, out of happiness itself.” ~ Alex Levin

My day of silence prompted me to do an 8-day cleanse. I know what you’re thinking. She’s already so healthy. Clean eating, yoga, meditation. Does she really need to cleanse? Yup, I do. I do it mostly for the emotional release and spiritual growth which allows me to come back to my heart. I am constantly striving to live from my heart. Make decisions from this place. Take action from this place. From where does your action and decision-making come? Is it fear, anticipation, avoidance, contraction? Or is it love, expansion, joy, and present-moment acceptance? Taking the time to change up our eating habits (however healthy they may already be) with a mindful cleanse allows space for awareness of the ‘stuff’ we may still be holding onto.

avocados

Organic San Diego County avocados

Anyway, this cleanse – the Salmonberry Signature Cleanse – is, roughly:

3 days of cooked vegetables only (no oils, fats, protein). Just steamed or simmered veggies. Fresh-pressed juices are definitely on the menu with a heavy emphasis on the veggies and less on the fruits.

Day 4 is just herbal tea, water, lemon water, sparkling water…clean, pure water in all forms.

3 days of raw fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds with a bit of honey and oil. To me this means avocados all day long! Again lots of fresh pressed juices and fruits are welcome!

Day 8 is only fresh watermelon juice (or pineapple juice). At this point in the cleanse I’ll be feeling so fabulous, I’ll start annoying people (it’s happened before!). I usually drink over 100 ounces of watermelon juice on this day.

For 3 days prior to this cleanse I was to have dropped all meat, wheat, sugar, dairy, caffeine, and alcohol. But, since I don’t see the Cleanse Police in my neighborhood, I drank coffee right up to the last minute. The night before I started the cleanse was like the last supper at my house. I ate way too much and even had a belly ache…so embarrassing and clearly time for a cleanse.

Day 1 was tough (as it always is). I was crabby first thing in the morning. Most likely because I couldn’t have my beloved coffee and I hadn’t yet made the Cleansing Soup so there was nothing for breakfast. I pulled my foggy self out of bed, brushed my teeth and headed to my favorite juice bar to stock up on juices. Of course, the super cute juicer was working and I looked really rough (it was like I had a food hangover from the last supper). Oh well. I stocked up on Green Lemonade (ginger, spinach, cucumber, celery, apple, and lemon) and Super 7 (ginger, parsley, beets, bell pepper, celery, cucumber, and carrots) and transfered them into 12oz Ball jars filled all the way to the top and sealed tight so they will keep as many nutrients as possible over the next 3 days. I used to do my own juicing but my juicer is so old that it’s starting to suck at it’s job so it makes more sense for me to buy someone else’s juice. I really need to retire and recycle that poor juicer (here in SoCal that means ‘leave it in the alley’).

movie snack

Movie snack when on a cleanse: steamed sugar snap peas and veggie juice

So I started in on a green lemonade and preparing my home studio for our weekly meditation group. After meditation, I had a much better attitude so I cranked the music and powered through making the Cleansing Soup (recipes turn out much better if you sing during food prep). The rest of my day consisting of getting some work done, a walk on the beach, and 3-4 bowls of soup. In an effort to distract myself from my raging, caffeine-withdrawal headache, I met a friend at the movies. The movie was heavy, The Place Beyond the Pines, and, since I was subsisting off veggie juice and steamed sugar snap peas, I’ve had more enjoyable movie experiences. The movie was actually quite good but we both needed something lighter and more uplifting. That’s what you get when you pick movies based on eye candy as opposed to plot.

I could not get into bed fast enough after the movie and was sound asleep by 8pm. I slept like the dead all the way until 5am when I had to get up to open La Jolla Yoga Center for sunrise yoga. According to my iPhone app – Sleep Cycle – my sleep quality was 100% that night but it sure didn’t feel like it.

Tune-out Shut-down

In Mindfulness on April 24, 2013 at 3:37 pm
closed computer

No electronics – including phone!

From Saturday night at 11pm until 245am on Monday morning, I went entirely without electronic communication and almost completely w/out verbal communication. I spontaneously designed a mini-silent retreat at my own home on an ordinary Sunday. Well, maybe it wasn’t so ordinary since I was actually able to disconnect so suddenly and easily. I had no social or work obligations pending, I live alone, and my children were with their dad for an overnight. A friend prompted me to go deep to hear more clearly my inner voice. She had recently observed me doling out wonderful heart-felt advice to mutual friends while seeming a bit disconnected and shut-down when it came to matters of my own heart.

For most of my life I’ve considered myself an extrovert. I’ve always made and kept friendships easily. I’ve been seen as a leader who speaks up as well as listens and people tend to gather around me. And if I’ve got an issue or problem, I quickly gather the sisters and girlfriends and talk it out. Beginning in my early 30s, I’ve been going through a lot of transitions – becoming a mother, changing careers, learning to co-parent, embracing my singleness, starting my own business. As the years go on and the transitions get more weighty, I’ve realized that seeking advice outside of myself is the least effective way for me to find any solace or direction in the situation. Perhaps I need to more consciously embrace the introverted parts of myself and stop crowding out my inner voice with outside advice. All the answers lie within my own heart. And the answers usually make sense to no one but myself. Excessively talking it out and asking others opinions puts me in the position of defending myself and what’s on my heart. I find myself resisting other’s ideas not because I am trying to be contrary but because my  heart is saying ‘no, follow me, listen to me!’.

When I was about middle school age, I would almost obsessively ask for my mother’s opinion on the most mundane issues – should I wear the neon pink shirt or the purple one? should I put the Johnny Depp poster over the head of my bed or the foot of my bed? side ponytail or regular ponytail? rosesShe would resist giving me an answer but I would force her hand and then, inevitably, ALWAYS do the opposite of what she suggested. Why did I insist on asking her opinion? Was this the age where I stopped trusting myself to make the right decision? Until the last 5 years, I thought I had lost the ability to listen to and trust my own heart. As I look back on my 20s, there were plenty of moments of clear-as-day instinctual messages coming right up to the forefront of my consciousness. Things that I just KNEW. And, yet, I did not trust myself to act on this knowing. I needed outside counsel, outside approval, I didn’t have the confidence to defend my decisions or realize that I didn’t have to answer to anyone who expected me to defend my position.

So, about Sunday…I had the time and space and I was given the suggestion. At 11pm, I put my phone on airplane mode, turned off my computer, and took a bubble bath. After my bath I meditated and went to bed. I woke in the morning and went to yoga class. I had a minor whisper conversation with my friend who was on the mat next to me (and she had seen my Facebook post about going silent!) and then quickly left after class so I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. The rest of the day I took a long walk on the beach, journaled, read a book about becoming spiritually naked (which I am attempting here by telling you of my day of silence). My phone stayed on airplane mode and charging in my bedroom all day. Although I was not tempted to open my computer, I did find myself thinking about meal preparation and eating even when I was not hungry – perhaps to quell some restlessness or boredom in me? On two occasions I had a mild attack of panic because I hadn’t told my ex that I was going off-line. What if he was desperately trying to get a hold of me because the kids…what? Needed absolutely nothing from me and were in safe hands? I started imagining all the group messaging conversations I was missing between my girlfriends.

I was starting to feel insignificant and not needed by anyone. Every time I started to get too far into my head with projections and assumptions, I turned to my journal and reaffirmed my purpose for this day. It was to quiet my mind, quiet the outside influences, quiet the planning and projection and get very real about what was on my heart. candle and rosesI come from a long line of doers and busybodies and as I am still in transition with quite a few big things in my life (aren’t we always just going from one transition to the next?), I have to consciously resist the urge to constantly DO and instead just BE. If I don’t slow down, I’ll miss the next set of instructions (from my heart) and the opportunity to take effortless action. If I insist on continuing with my perpetual motion machine, I might still end up at the same place but I will have wasted a lot of energy and missed out on the joy of living in the flow. After dinner, I meditated, finished my book (I almost tweeted from my kindle that I finished it – terrible!) and fell asleep early. Maybe because I fell asleep early or maybe because I was having very vivid dreams, I awoke at 245am and could not get back to sleep. So I turned on my phone and went for it! Checking email, texts, and Facebook for some sort of confirmation that I was missed, loved, needed. There wasn’t much action. Apparently the world did not stop spinning on it’s axis because I decided to tune out and shut down for a mere 24 hours.

I feel calm and confident and more deeply connected to myself after taking the time to limit outside influences and instead rely on myself for the next right action. I have the ability to validate myself. I feel alone and singular and empowered. It feels good.

Quinoa Chowder

In Nutrition, Recipe on April 21, 2013 at 3:15 am
quinoa sweet potato soup ingredients

Quinoa and Sweet Potatoes

Last week’s SoupAsana felt extra special. I made a soup from a recipe I got from a friend-of-a-friend who liked to make this soup for her friends after long days of boarding and skiing. Apparently, she got it from a friend who modified it from a recipe by Deborah Madison. And I believe I may have modified it even further based on my tastes and those of my friends attending SoupAsana. Anyway, this soup felt like it had a lot of history, friendship, and good times behind it and, after 90 minutes of yoga and meditation, was easily devoured by all!

Homemade cactus fruit kombucha

Homemade cactus fruit kombucha

Making things even more special was the homemade kombucha from my friend and neighbor, Robin. She even hand-harvested the local cactus fruit for her beautiful, vibrant, cactus fruit kombucha. You can read about her adventures with the cactus fruit here. We combined the kombucha with prosecco since I was celebrating finally (3rd try!) being admitted into a dietetic internship program. Woot, woot! Huge relief and accomplishment…now I just have to complete the program in order to become a Registered Dietitian. It’s been a long road. I might write about it one day.

This soup is vegan until you get to the toppings, which are, of course, entirely optional.

eggs and cilantro

Backyard eggs and cilantro.

But adding feta and hard-boiled eggs, from the happiest chickens in SoCal, really makes this chowder, well, chowder-y. Even though I’ve admitted to not caring for quinoa, it’s really quite delicious in this recipe. Soup is one place where quinoa works. As a side dish or pilaf…not so much. I seem to use sweet potatoes a lot in my soups but will probably be moving away from that ingredient as the weather gets even warmer. Although the name of this soup invokes winter, it’s actual quite light and refreshing and appropriate for springtime.

scallions, jalapenos, garlic

Scallions, jalapenos, garlic.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup quinoa

8 cups veggie stock

olive oil

4-5 garlic cloves, crushed

1/4 cup finely chopped ginger

1 large jalapeño pepper, diced/seeded

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

pepper to taste

sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes, garlic, ginger, jalapenos, cumin.

1 sweet potato, peeled/diced

1 bag baby spinach

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts

Top with: chopped cilantro, crumbled feta, and chopped, hard-boiled egg

Bring quinoa and 4 cups stock to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the quinoa after 10 mins and reserve the liquid.

quinoa chowder

Top with feta cubes and crushed red pepper.

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add garlic and jalapeño. Cook for about 1 minute, then add ginger, cumin, salt/pepper, and sweet potatoes. Cook for a few minutes then add reserved stock as well as additional stock so you have about 7-8 cups liquid. Simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender. Add quinoa, spinach, and scallions and simmer until spinach is wilted. Garnish individual bowls with cilantro, feta, and hard-boiled egg. Super delicious and I don’t even like quinoa.