Home Rituals – Berry Walnut Muffin Bread

Berry Walnut Muffin Bread 2

The warm weather has returned to the Western Slope of Colorado, which means that outdoor training season is officially here! I’ve made a commitment to working out in the mornings before it gets too hot. I usually eat a big mid-morning meal (breakfast like a king) so I’ve had to switch up my diet and lifestyle a bit.

The solution? Muffins! Hearty, wholesome and packed with good ingredients. These babies are a great mid-morning snack and carry me though until lunch. This week I played with a new recipe: berry walnut muffin bread (all the goodness of individual muffins in bread form).

Berry Walnut Muffin Bread 3

So just to clear up a few things. The ingredients in this recipe might raise a red flag for some people and to those folks I say (with love in my heart…)

Don’t like wheat? Don’t eat it. 

Don’t like sugar? Don’t eat it. 

Don’t like dairy? Don’t eat it.

But to those of us who can enjoy these foods unabashedly I say mangia! Eat with the confidence that comes from choosing the most beautiful foods. Wheat, sugar and dairy are incredibly powerful foods so long as they haven’t been tampered with.

For this muffin bread recipe I used organic non-GMO flour, organic milk and butter. The butter was on sale, otherwise I’d have used any conventional rGBH-free variety. I also used organic frozen mixed berries and non-GMO sugar.

The media has been working overtime to demonize sugar (remember when they tried telling us that butter was bad for you?) Sugar is a superfood in its own right. Sugar is listed in the Materia Medica of Chinese Herbal Medicine as a Qi (energy) tonic. And sugar, wheat, milk and butter are all recommended foods in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika:

64. Wheat, rice, barley, shastik (a kind of rice), good corns, milk, ghee, sugar, butter, sugarcandy, honey, dried ginger, Parwal (a vegetable), the five vegetables, moong, pure water, these are very beneficial to those who practice Yoga.

So let’s get cooking! This berry walnut muffin bread is fantastic. It’s almost like eating cake for breakfast. The tang from the buttermilk compliments the sweetness of the berries. I made my own buttermilk by mixing whole milk with a little vinegar (lemon juice works too) and letting it sit for five minutes.

I didn’t want the bread to be soggy so I used raspberries, blueberries and blackberries (and cut up the blackberries into smaller pieces). And I always toast nuts before baking with them. Toasting kills off any molds and enhances the flavor of the nuts.

Berry Walnut Muffin Bread 1

Berry Walnut Muffin Bread

1 Loaf

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of flour (1 cup whole wheat + 1 cup all purpose)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk + 1/2 Tbsp vinegar)

1  1/2 cups frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
2 Tbsp sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan with butter or coconut oil.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a small bowl.
  3. Place frozen mixed berries in a small bowl. Add 1-2 Tbsp of the flour mixture and toss to coat. Cover bowl and place in freezer.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla.
  5. Add flour mixture a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk.
  6. Fold in the berries and walnuts and pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  7. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp sugar over the top of the batter.
  8. Bake for 60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve warm or toasted with lots of butter!

*** High Altitude baking note: decrease the amount of baking powder to 1  1/2 tsp. ***

Berry Walnut Muffin Bread Slice

 

Thai Curry Soup

Thai Curry Soup Recipe

It’s great to be back on the Western Slope of Colorado. There is something extraordinary about this place. I felt it the first time I drove across the Utah-Colorado border. After exploring Arizona, Colorado, Idaho and Utah for the past six months it’s wonderful to know that this is where I want to live. The synchronicity that led to moving to Grand Junction was nothing short of miraculous. And the work that has gone into getting to this point has been significant. Needless to say, I am very, very grateful to be here.

The weather is perfect for soup.

It’s starting to cool down a bit at night, so I’ve been making some small changes to my diet and lifestyle. Soup has been calling my name, so I made a big batch of homemade chicken stock. Last night I whipped up a pot of Thai curry soup. The warming spices and rich coconut milk melded with the slow-cooked meat and vegetables which made the house smell wonderful!

A bowl of good medicine.

This recipe is incredibly versatile, so feel free to play around with the ingredients. I used what I had on hand and made my own curry powder with a good-quality organic turmeric powder. Turmeric is a great addition to your medicine chest [a.k.a. pantry]. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola:

“It has a long history of medicinal use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as well as Ayurvedic medicine.

Traditional medicinal uses include the treatment of liver disease, skin problems, respiratory and gastrointestinal ailments, sprained muscles, joint pains, and general wound healing.

Its benefits have since been well documented in the medical literature, and curcumin—one of the most well-studied bioactive ingredients in turmeric — has been found to promote health and protect against a wide array of health conditions.

It actually exhibits over 150 potentially therapeutic activities, including anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity, as well as potent anti-cancer properties that have been intensely studied.”

The full list of health benefits is way too long to list here, so let’s get cooking! One of the ways to really amp up the flavor of any soup or stew is to add a sprinkling of Celtic sea salt in the final stage of cooking. Just be careful – this stuff is STRONG and a little goes a long way. I also add just a touch of sugar to balance the flavor of the curry. I like spicy food but I can get a little heavy handed and the sugar helps to round things out.

Thai Curry Soup

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1/3 yellow squash, chopped
  • 2 mushrooms, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked dark chicken meat, sliced
  • 1 rounded Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1/2 a can of full fat coconut milk
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Kosher and Celtic salt
  1. Start by warming the chicken stock in a small saucepan over low heat.
  2. Place a large wok over medium heat. Add coconut oil, chopped onion, red pepper and carrot. Stir occasionally and cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add chopped yellow squash and mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle with Kosher salt.
  4. Add minced garlic and sliced chicken meat. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then coat with curry powder. Stir mixture constantly (it will be dry) for another 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add chicken stock, coconut milk and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer until carrots are tender (15-2o minutes). Add a sprinkle of Celtic sea salt and adjust seasonings as needed.
  6. When ready to serve, add a generous handful of baby spinach and stir until the leaves are wilted. Ladle soup into two bowls.

Serve with hot white rice or cooked noodles.

Easy Thai Curry Soup Recipe

If you enjoyed this recipe you might also like: Home Rituals – Tortilla Soup 

Body as Clay

Body as Clay

Imagine holding a ball of clay. It’s damp to the touch, cool, heavy for its size. Press your fingers into the surface. They leave a slight indentation. Press again and again. The outer layer begins to soften from the warmth of your palms. The surface glides with the motion of your fingers. Your hands grow tired but you keep working. The middle layer softens but the inner core remains solid. You dig in to reach the center, pulling the ball into new shapes. The clay is pliable, ready to be molded.

It’s the same with warming up our bodies in yoga, where we start with gentle poses before diving into more dynamic ones. With class sequencing the basic rule is to warm up for five minutes in an hour-long class. A personal practice allows for much more flexibility and the freedom to decide how long you want to warm up on any given day. Which is, in my humble opinion, absolutely essential.

A proper warm up is a very personal process. 

Most adults have developed some level of compression in their bodies, either from an active or an inactive lifestyle, or simply from the continuous gravitational pull of the planet. Yoga helps to realign our bodies into a state of balanced, expanded strength.

Think about your normal routine: which “postures” do you spend most of your time in? Sitting, standing, sleeping, and any number of repetitive movements all create imprints on your body-memory. Stress patterns (physical and emotional) are another factor, as well the effects of diet and lifestyle. Sam the carpenter would do well to warm up in a way that is very different than Susie the weekend-warrior-waterskiier. While Sam might need to warm up for forty five minutes, Susie’s ready to dive in at the ten minute mark. No matter what our level of experience may be we all have our own unique learning curve.

One other thing about the importance of warming up – consistency is KEY. Even five minutes a day is going to make a huge difference. What doesn’t amount to much is dabbling here and there. It’s like the clay ball analogy; if you stop working the ball loses its malleability. Starting over is okay, but when you decide to gain some traction you’ll be amazed at the progress you can make.

If you enjoyed this article you might also like: The Bowl of Light

The Spectator Epidemic

Mindless garbage spectator epidemic
Found on the Pinterest

Have you been to your local Walmart lately? Depending on where you live it can be a DISTURBING experience. I’m not saying this to be mean, I’m saying it because it’s true. There’s a cross section of middle America which borders on a zombie apocalypse. And it’s a real problem…

How did this happen? Diet is a big part, as well as the toxic cocktail of chemicals added to our food, water, air and medications. But it’s also related to social conditioning. Take a drive through your neighborhood one night and chances are you’ll see the flickering blue light of televisions emanating from people’s homes. Or maybe you’ll see groups of people at sporting events or playgrounds, where the adults are watching their kids exercise. Maybe you’ll see people at the gym. Maybe.

The Spectator Epidemic

Most likely you’ll find adults sitting at home watching television. It’s such an engrained part of our culture that no one really thinks anything of it. Television provides fuel for conversations – at work, the bar, and the dinner table. For many people television fulfills certain needs that are not being met in our modern day standard of living.

Part of this has to do with people being such visual creatures. When we watch dancers, martial artists or athletes, we experience something called the kinesthetic response. It’s a spontaneous reaction to a motion or stimulus that occurs outside of ourselves. The muscles contract and release in conjunction with the visual stimulation. So afterwards there’s a feeling of being energized or pleasantly fatigued.

Without actually having to do anything.

By and large, it’s much easier to be a spectator. Exercise can be challenging especially when the body is out of shape. Sitting around and talking about someone else exercising (did you see last night’s game?) is a piece of cake compared to actually doing it.

I’m not saying that you should never be a spectator. A good martial arts movie can be incredibly inspiring and hopefully you’ll do some kind of training afterwards. Playing video games or going to a sports event can also be great incentives – maybe you’ll feel really jacked afterwards. But if you don’t put that energy into your own life then what is the point?

Television addiction is an “undo-it-yourself” project that takes a little courage. Television breeds passivity so it takes time to shift gears. If you’re ready to become more of an active participant in your life a personal yoga practice can help.

Ready to take the next step? Book a FREE no-obligation consultation today.

Home Rituals – Bone Broth

 

Bone broth beef noodle soup

The cold weather is here! The temperature drop and shorter days can make us feel like flying south or hibernating. Depending on our perspective winter can be a harsh trial to endure or it can be an invitation to increase our resiliency.  

I’ve fled the cold weather at various times in my life, mainly because I didn’t know how to adjust my diet and lifestyle. After learning some basic rules of thumb my whole perspective of winter has changed. Taking care of my body allows me to feel more in tune with nature. So now instead of viewing winter as a harsh obstacle I see it as an opportunity to slow down and increase my energy reserves.

Yoga helped me begin the process of tuning into my body at this time of year. Some of my lifestyle practices include:

  1. Minimizing my exposure to artificial light at night
  2. Using candles and LED bulbs
  3. Resting when I’m tired
  4. Waking up with the sun
  5. Drinking lots of hot fluids
  6. Keeping my body well-insulated
  7. Building immunity through my diet
  8. I never get a flu shot (elderberry syrup for the win)

Food is my medicine.

Bone broth is a fairly recent addition to my culinary arsenal. I learned about bone broth when I was working in New York City. I loved going to Chinatown and one of my favorite places to eat was a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that makes hand-pulled noodle soups. I’ve been hooked on that flavorful and nutrient-rich broth ever since.

This article provides a good overview of the health benefits of bone broth from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective: How Bone Broths Support Your Adrenals, Bones and Teeth

It’s very easy to make bone broth.

Save leftover bones (I use organic chicken bones), place them in a pot with filtered water and add a splash of vinegar to aid in mineral extraction. You can also add a bay leaf or some vegetable scraps for flavor. Onion peels give bone broth a warm yellow color.

Bring the broth to a boil and then simmer for a minimum of 4 hours (or up to 24 hours). The longer you simmer the more nutrient dense it will be so add water as needed. You can use a crock pot or cook it on low on the stove. Either way your house will smell fantastic!

Some people try to keep their broth clear but it’s okay if it turns cloudy. Strain the cooled broth through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the particulate. Store the strained broth in glass mason jars in the fridge where it will keep for about a week. Bone broth is a great addition to soups, stews and any recipe that calls for stock. You could also try making your own version of the latest health trend in NYC – a steaming cup of bone broth.

What’s your favorite way to use bone broth? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.

Homemade bone broth soup