One my favorite soups in Germany is the Gemüsesuppe. Die suppe ist enfach und lecker. Or in English, the soup is simple/easy and delicious. Using the term "Alles klar" probably drives German bonkers, but its my own funny way of describing the soup. This is a "clear" soup broth. "Alles klar" is a term used to say, "Yes, all is clear/understandable. Or, I got it. Everything is clear/understood."
While making this soup, I kept saying the "alles klar" broth because my Deutsch vocabulary is so bad I didn't know how else to describe it. Alas, the clear vegetable soup broth!
Every German makes this recipe different, but I wanted to discover my own palate and trial with a basic vegetable soup. In Germany, they sell Gemüsesuppe bundles that include carrot, parsley, leeks and celeriac, which is the bulb of the celery. In the states, celeriac is not sold, but we use turnips instead, which is another root vegetable that provides a wonderful flavor for veg-based soups.
Buying a vegetable bundle usually costs less than or around 2 Euros. I added some additional veggies and spices, which made an entire pot of soup for about 3.50 euro. If you are in Germany, I used the Altnatura bouillon cube, which in the states in similar to "Rapunzels" brand (aim for a lower sodium one if possible.) I didn't use the entire bundle as the leek was so large it would've overpowered the soup. But, leeks believe it or not are great in Italian pasta dishes.
Although everyone makes their soup different, here is my version of German Gemüsesuppe.
Vegan Clear German-Inspired Vegetable Soup
Prep Time: 5-7 Minutes
Cook Time: 20-22 Minutes
Total Time: 25-29 Minutes
4 cups water + 1 bouillon cube (1000 liters)
1 cup celeriac, chopped (or turnip)
1 cup leek, chopped
2 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2 small white-skinned potatoes, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp oregano + salt
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp parsley, chopped + more for garnish
Chop the vegetables. Cook the garlic and shallot in the olive for one minute. Add the celery and carrot and cook for two more minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and cook for two to three minutes. If the mixture gets dry, add a bit of the one liter of water. Next, add the water and spices (add only 1 tbsp of the parsley). Simmer until the vegetables and potatoes are edible. Remove from heat when done and garnish bowls or the soup pot with parsley.
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Without the sun life cannot exist. The sun is what gives us life, energy, heat and existence through nature. Spiritual texts believe that there are two suns. The natural sun, and the spiritual sun, or the “Son of God.” Whatever theory or religious belief you may have, we cannot deny the power of this ball of light.
The sun represents many things, but here are three uncommon spiritual notions regarding the sun, its existence and flow with humans that I have found during my spiritual studies.
The Sun and The Human Metabolism
During my alternative health studies, I learned that humans and the sun are directly related. It makes sense when we talk about the circadian rhythm or “sleep-wake cycle.” This is when the body produces a hormonal release depending on whether light or darkness surrounds us. This helps us wake up and go to sleep. Ancient and Ayurvedic studies believe that the human metabolism is directly linked to the movement of the sun. Thus, many Ayurvedic philosophies state that the biggest meal of the day should be at lunch.
Why is this? Because the sun is burning its brightest and is hottest at mid-day. The metabolism, like the sun, is heat that is emitted from the body. So, those “late night” meals that make you feel sluggish in fact are related to nature – since the sun is down, the metabolism is slower.
Too Much of Anything is Never Good
Can we have light without darkness? Probably not. That’s part of life's reality. Light and dark, good and evil, one cannot exist without its polar opposite. But if light is so good, why don’t we want more of it?
One ancient Chinese mythology proves that too much of anything is not ideal. The story is of Yi and the Ten Suns. Yi, a famous soldier, was a skillful archer. At this time, ten suns lived in the Fu Sang tree beyond the eastern edge of the world. During this time, each of the ten suns would take its own turn to light the earth. The suns grew rebellious and one day all ten suns rose into the sky simultaneously. The extra light and energy pleased the people on the earth – until their crops shriveled and rivers dried up. The Lord of Heaven sent Yi, the skilled archer, to resolve the problem. He shot nine of the suns out of the sky. This legend brings light that we can’t have one without the other.
The Whirling Rainbow
Sometimes it’s difficult to comprehend the challenges of life. Pain, suffering, and violence – no one wants to live in a world like that. Unfortunately, the reality is that the planet and its people are still evolving. If you’ve ever looked at the sun and saw a circular rainbow, or colors around the ball of light that is known as the Whirling Rainbow. What is it? And what does it mean?
Native Americans speak of this philosophy as a time of change and is a sign from God. I am not sure if the sign means a personal or universal change, but expect something.
Another Native concept signifies the Whirling Rainbow means peace. On a larger level it means equality and unity.
You can Google more about the Whirling Rainbow philosophy, but legend has it that one day everyone will be equal – man and nature. Race, color, ethnicity and gender will be put aside. Everyone will be united and equal like the Creator intended.
Though humanity is not there, the sun and planets need to find a way to communicate change on a personal and universal level. On an individual level, what are you thinking about or worrying about at that time in your life when you see the Whirling Rainbow?
Energy bites are my favorite snack. They are easy to make, healthy and avoids all the processed sugar, syrups and preservatives.
Before leaving Hannover, I rummaged through my cabinets to see what pantry goods I had left. Sad to leave Germany, I made gluten free snacks. Since we had to lug both cats back to the United States, I didn't want to pile our hand luggage with heavy food. So, I thought of something wintery and jingled the Kris Kringle spirit - caramel-based amaranth energy bites.
Something about the date caramel, chocolate, cranberry and pistachio combination sent my tastebuds to culinary heaven. I tried this with and without coconut. I prefer the coconut, but I know not everyone is a fan.
In Germany, puffed amaranth, quinoa and millet are as accessible as German beer. It's easy to find and it's everywhere. In the states, I have noticed that its hard to find. A big philosophy in my recipes is that I use ingredients that are easy to find 'cause lets face it, modern day living is tough and stressful. Nothing is worse than wanting to create a recipe, but having to search five grocery stores to find it after a long day at work. You can create magic with everyday ingredients and affordable pantry favorites.
So for my European friends, puffed amaranth is everywhere. For my fellow Americans, puffed amaranth is not on every shelf. But, its not difficult to puff. You can simply heat a dry pan (that has a lid) and place the amaranth on the pan. Close the lid, shake the pan for about 1 minute and once it pops remove from the heat. Wah la! But if you're short on time, choose oats :)
Oh and this recipe is a true budget-saver. I estimated to make 8 balls cost approximately 0.80-1.20 Euros. Seriously, good food is that cheap in Germany - how it should be everywhere in the world.
Vegan Caramel Energy Nut Bites
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 0 Minutes
Total Time: 10 Minutes
Waiting Time: 1-2 Hours
Makes 8 Balls
1/3 cupvegan caramel** (see note and recipe)
1/4 cup puffed amaranth (or puffed quinoa or rolled oats)
3 tbsp pistachios, chopped
3 tbsp dried cranberries
1 tbsp dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate from a bar)
1 tsp flax seed
1/2 tsp coconut shreds (omit if you do not like coconut)
Make the caramel by blending the dates and vanilla into the blender. You can add a smidge of nondairy milk but do not go overboard with the liquid. You want the mixture to be sticky. Prep the pistachios and mix all the ingredients (except the caramel) in a bowl. Next, add the caramel and mix. You may need your hands to cover the entire mixture. Once coated, grab about a spoonful worth and roll into a ball using your palms. You may need clean hands to help roll.
**Notes: Do not go overboard on the milk. Thus, you do not want liquid caramel. The runnier the caramel the balls will remain mushy and will not harden. It still tastes good but doesn't form like traditional energy balls. Keep the date mixture thicker. Alternatively, you can form into squares instead of balls.
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Can I be honest about something? Dates are seriously a "miracle" food. It's funny how we humans have created sweets that nature has provided since the birth of time.
Upon my leaving of Hannover, I rummaged through my cabinets to see what goodies I had left. I had some vanilla I bought in Mexico, about 6 mejdool dates and a partial carton of Alnatura's unsweetened soy milk. Hmm, what can this concoct? Caramel of course! I loved my Apple Caramel Smoothie so much that I felt dedicated to eating both in its natural form.
I never made caramel before so I knew this would be the perfect time to create, plate and eat. Luckily, I had enough dates to satisfy a single serving of wintery goodness for my sweet tooth.
I can remember apple and caramel dip since the birth of well - me. Caramel and apples go together like peas and carrots - it just meshes well. Not only is this caramel from nature but its the easiest sweet to make. All you need to do is throw the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. It's so fast and easy its quicker to make this than a sandwich. I was so excited that I ran outside, fingers frozen, to photograph this in and around Hannover's Altstadt Weinnachts Markt Forest (Old Town Christmas Market).
My tiny little food processor had a hard time blending such a small amount so I had to add more liquid. Based on the power of your blender or food processor, you should add the liquid gradually. I prefer my caramel a bit thicker so if you want a running liquid - add the liquid, but note that too much alters the flavor.
If you live in Germany, liquid vanilla is hard to find, so you can use the powder vanilla instead. PS - I HIGHLY recommend using alcohol-free vanilla. After using vanilla bought directly from Mexico, its hard to beat that unique flavor but the alcohol overpowers the caramel flavor.
All-Natural Apple and Vegan Caramel Dip Snack
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
1 gala apple, sliced
1/3 cup mejdool dates
1/4 tsp vanilla
3-4 tsp nondairy milk (I used unsweetened soy milk)
Directions: Place ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth! Wah la! That's it. Sometimes less is more and in this scenario nothing beats a healthy snack made straight from home.
Cheers to the year of the monkey! I hope you dip into the New Year's with good health and happiness this 2016.
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Do you love movies? I sure do. But, I love realistic movies that seem scientific or logical in nature, but actually give proof to a higher power. There are many movies out there that hint at spiritual practices, but I’ll only be covering a few, or the ones you should watch.
So where do these screenwriters get these ideas? It’s not just creativity, but I believe it comes from the source. A highly gifted spiritual friend of mine taught me a lot through the years. She has natural abilities that I can only dream about. She once told me that creativity comes from the source. And in a way, this made sense.
I’ve recently questioned if we make our thoughts? Or is something else puts the thought into our heads? I have yet to figure this out, but I do believe something (spirit guide) drives our gifted creativity. Without further ado, here are five movies that contribute to spiritual notions from the way that I perceive spirituality and the movies. Don’t worry there are NO spoiler alerts.
Is the Hunger Games spiritual? Well, its not about spirituality, but the concepts completely relate to the spirit world. In the movie, there is the “game keeper” who creates obstacles or challenges to the people involved in the games. And guess who also does the same stuff to us humans? Spirit guides.
The movie also gives validity to the “Destruction and Creation” notion. Catniss, a compassionate person for humanity and human rights knows that evil cannot persist on the planet for euphoria to exist. She knows that evil must be destroyed for humanity to thrive. Although hard to perceive in real life, this notion is a hard reality of humanity. Something has to go in order for something else to thrive. Do you think dinosaurs and humans could’ve existed on one planet? Absolutely not. Just watch Jurassic Park.
A Winter’s Tale
I absolutely love this movie. Colin Ferrell’s character becomes a better person because of his spirit guide, a white horse, and falling in love with a lady. The movie also goes through each character’s destiny and depicts angels and spirit guides that occupy in human bodies that are sent here on earth. The movie goes through battles of good and evil and how all debts must be repaid. When we start to understand the complexity of humans, their psychology and feelings for each other, you can begin to understand that there are debts or soul contracts that must be fulfilled.
This movie is about World War Two. Since the war is recent in terms of human history, we tend to have a liking toward understanding the war and Germany. In the movie a young American man is sent to be a tank shooter. He is small, thin and genuinely a good soul. He worked in intelligence and sent to Brad Pitt’s tank commander group. Brad Pitt’s character forces tough love and the reality of war on the young man. The young man falls in love with a German girl (feelings are mutual) who fatally dies after their meeting. The young man had knowledge of palm reading and read her palm stating, “You will have one great love in this life.”
How this relates to real life is that our souls are sent to each body for a mission and chooses each life to learn lessons, no matter how hard or cruel the reality is. And with the poor young lady, her destiny was to experience the great love, and she did. Although a short life and love experience, that was her soul’s mission.
Remembrance is a Nazi concentration camp love story where a Polish man named Tomasz falls in love with a German Jew named Hannah. Despite the ups and downs of escaping a concentration camp, the two are eventually separated although both are madly in love with each other. I don’t want to spoil the movie but later in life the two are reunited. Why is this spiritual? Because we hear so many love stories where people are reconnected after decades of being separated. Somehow life finds a way. This may be “random” or a designed plan from the universe.
This movie was really cute and made countless references to astrology. The indie film opened with a girl doing yoga on the beach and celebrating her 29th birthday when she encounters her Saturn Return. She eats macrobiotic and does not consume any mainstream or products with chemicals. The movie looks at her life during her Saturn return and how obstacles occur and relationships fall apart including her emotions. Once she reached 30 and Saturn moved on life became calmer and more fluid. This is spiritual because we all go through Saturn returns. Plus, we all experience good and bad years, which has a strong astrological influence.
Elizabeth Rae Kovar M.A. is Author of her memoir, Finding Om and is a Fitness Trainer, Yogi, Reiki Master, Presenter and Lover of Life. To view her portfolio please visit www.elizabethkovar.com