Magnolias are one of the first spring flowers to bloom. I sat in my favorite Seattle garden and watched these delicate flowers birth into beautiful petals and then “die” and recycle into the earth.
The spring is all about the energy to reawaken, rebirth and re-blossom into an energetic and honest being. It’s the time to break away from the hermit shell and open our arms to next cycle of life.
Well, let me apologize that this post is not timely since the magnolias bloomed weeks ago. But, it’s been interesting noticing the energy and (and lack of) for this spring. Although we want to go, go, go, sometimes we need to stay grounded so that we don’t float off planet earth. Anyways, April and May had fluctuating times, moments of highs and lows topped with confusion on what to do next. I felt the energy switch as quickly as these petals fell to the ground.
I guess that’s part of life, right?
What is most interesting is that the Magnolia tree is one of the oldest trees known to planet earth. Scientists have found its fossil remains dating back 35 to 58 million years ago. There are many varieties that exist between Asia and the Americas, but got its name "Magnolia" in the 18th Century. Herbalists used the bark medicinally and have been used to treat serious illnesses like typhoid fever.
Magnolias are special to Seattle since it is one of the "hill" neighborhoods.
I spent time analyzing these flowers, which inspired me to create energy balls. Lately, I also craved something with cherries and cashews. The flower’s center looks exactly like the common energy bite. Without energy, we lose our core and essence.
The best part about creating energy bites is that there is no wrong recipe. There are thousands of flavor combinations one can create. All you need is a mix of dry and “wet” or sticky ingredients.
Without junk or refined sugar, and naturally sweetened, this is the perfect workday snack. You can also double or triple the recipe to stock up on the bites.
I tend to make recipes in a small batch to serve those want to eat fresh on a consistent basis. It doesn’t get any easier than throwing the ingredients into the blender. With just five-ingredients, it should not take you anymore than five minutes to make this recipe! Enjoy!
5 Ingredient Vegan Cashew Cherry Energy Bites
Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes 9 Energy Bites
½ cup dried cherries
1/3 cup raw cashews
¼ tsp vanilla
1 tsp flax meal (or seed)
Optional sixth ingredient: 1 tbsp raw sunflower seeds
Place the cashews into the blender and pulse several times to break down the nuts. Place the remaining ingredients into the blender and mix until the ingredients combine and “stick” together. With clean hands and slightly damp palms, grab a finger-full of the mixture and roll it around in your palms until it forms a circle. Press your palms gently together to form the ball. Repeat the same pattern with the rest of the “dough.”
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The Age of Aquarius and Politics / World Affairs – Is it Scaring the $hit Out of You Yet?
Several years ago, I was so happy to live in the Age of Aquarius. Now, I’m not really so sure. To be honest, the negative aspects of Aquarius are stronger than the positive. The purpose of this article is to depict what is going on globally from a big picture perspective and not preach any one political standpoint.
As an Aquarian sun sign, I can’t help but think and think and think about the world and the progression in humanity. First, let me note that I am a middle of the road type of person. Politically, people would label me as a moderate democrat.
Several months ago, I wrote a mini astrological series that discussed the energies of the Age of Aquarius. I mentioned that the three greatest (negative) energetic influences in this age are extremism, rebellion and radicalism. And well, haven’t we seen a bit of all of this? Plus, more!
Here’s the thing to know. I mentioned in the blog that explains that the Aquarius symbol, waves, is a metaphor to mental waves. No matter what astrological sign you are, you will feel the effects of this “Mental Age” energy. Those who are susceptible to stress, emotional chaos and mental instability will feel more of it.
Without knowledge, a sound mind or a spiritual understanding of the world, suicidal thoughts are possible. Suicide is almost an epidemic. Whether one has lost love or wealth, we are so much in our heads (very Aquarian) that we are forgetting about the greater picture of life.
Has anyone else questioned the universal reasons on why suicides and mental health have drastically increased? Besides poor diet and being doped up on meds, I believe that this age has a great influence on mental health and wellbeing. In terms of wealth, we are living in the most abundant era, but yet many of us are sad, depressed, lonely and lost. Although materialism never wins in the battle of happiness, we are lost in “fixation” with this fixed and inflexible sign.
As for terrorism ideology, it’s no secret that these acts are on the rise everywhere in the world.
Ideologies are on the rise, but sadly it’s not just the far right or “bad guys” who are contributing these actions. Aquarius is all about peace, love and hippie-like ideas aka brotherhood. But, the dark side of Aquarius is anger and rage. Aquarius is community, but also individuality. It seems bi-polar, similar to its brother-sign, Gemini, but that is part of air – it sways and flows with the wind in either or all directions.
I believe that this energy influences extremism on an individual level. In the US political debate, we can see the far-left, Sanders versus the far-right Trump. Ironically, both preach politics without funding but are on opposite ends of the spectrum. To me, it's no surprise these "rebellious against tradition" candidates are running this year.
Although extreme liberalism complains that conservatism is dumb, stupid and uneducated, this also contributes to the hate of what is going on in the world because it categorizes the party/thought to be the “right” way to live. The far right and the far left have its own issues with extremism that “preach” how humanity should live based on an ideology. We need to release the “right and wrong” perspectives.
I’ve studied astrology for over a decade, but I do not read birth charts. I use astrology on an individual and global level to understand the movement of humanity or how one thinks. The world is trying to move forward with some ideas, but sadly it’s failing. Part of it is failing is because not everyone is riding the same school bus.
But, what many people do not realize is that extremism breeds extreme leaders. I fear that because the pendulum is swinging so far from the right to the left that this will breed dictator-like leaders for the Western civilizations. If the world continues with extremism ideologies ( and terrorism) it will result in extreme leaders so the pendulum rocks back to the middle, which is why the non-PC Trump gained popularity.
How do we battle the negative energies of Aquarius?
As an Aquarian, I used to do everything extreme. Burnout and mentally bruised, it took a long time to get balanced and I’m only 31! Now that I am living a balanced life, I’ve never been happier, but part of that influence came from a dear Libran friend whom I met in Germany.
I learned through her logical (and I thought sometimes spiritual) perspective of the world to see how things truly operate. Difficult at first, I believe we all need to transmute and call in the Libran energy to balance extremism.
My friend told me that growing up her father taught her to view situations from an outside perspective, and then keeping pulling yourself further and further away to see everything from above (and as an outsider). She also claimed that as a Libra, she had to see both sides of the story, just like a scale each perspective needed to be balanced with logic.
Although impulsivity is ruled by Aries, we live in a society where impulse triggers anger with the flick of a light switch. It’s part of the human personality.
Since a balanced approach is key to this New Age, it requires us to shed some skin, especially in excess. America (and Canada) is unlike any other country in the world. We are an extreme culture (work hard and no play) and have excess of everything – food, water, materialism, wealth, and opportunities.
A moderate approach is necessary. What do I mean? I mean valuing our gifts from each party or perspective. Politics will never make everyone happy, but we must admit that there are pros and cons from each party. We have to be realistic with our perspectives. We should logically and spiritually analyze reality versus an ideology of how life should be lived. We all dream of a utopia, but that can't exist if everyone is not on the same page.
Humans naturally retreat or retract when forced, nagged or coerced to do something or live a certain way based on an ideology.
So how do we become more balanced as a society?
With all my heart and soul, I believe the best way to help the world is by helping yourself. If you want the world to become more balanced, you need to balance yourself, emotions and mental state. This is not to say that people should stop sticking up for their beliefs, but we all must look inward to expose our personal extremism (if any exists).
The most important thing to note is that humanity and life is greater than our understanding. Most of us will not understand what the point or purpose (besides leaning lessons) until we return to the spirit world.
Remember, things cannot exist without its polar opposite. It’s part of the world and humans will continue to experience pain, suffering, death and heartache. It is a part of nature. If you’ve ever viewed a National Geographic show, and cried with the lion killed an innocent zebra, we must learn from nature. Nature is a powerful beast that is smarter and wiser than man.
Humans are no exceptions to hardship. Good and evil, light and dark, left and right and up and down – everything has a polar opposite. Humanity is all about maturity. If we dream of no borders and holding hands with each other, all cultures must be on the same page to coexist and express equality between man and woman.
Instead of dreading on the past and remembering “assholes” like Christopher Columbus, we need to focus on the present and the future to transmute the positive Aquarian energies. Looking back does us no good when festering on the guilt and shame of when the West experienced its Dark Age.
Depending on how you view life, sadly humans had to experience some horrific tragedies in order to mature. We should never take for granted how easy and decadent our modern lives are with chic cafes, fancy cars and countless means of entertainment. Be appreciative of the now and what we have. One day it could be taken away as easily as it was given to us.
Change yourself. Change the world. Channel in that Libran Energy and focus on the bigger picture. If not, the ugly and dark sides of Aquarius will continue to rise.
In vedic astrology, we are in the Bronze Age, which represents chaos and war. So whatever is guiding humanity has a lot of pain, suffering and dark times ahead before we return to the Golden Age.
What are your thoughts on this New Age energy? Are you enjoying it? Or do you have concerns?
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Lilacs are nothing but beautiful. Their beauty inspired this lilac crepe cake. My favorite garden in Seattle, Parson’s Garden, as well as many homes in Queen Anne “bleed” with these purple flowers called Wisteria.
One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to sit on the bench underneath the wisteria plant. Although invasive, wisteria thrives in sun. In Chinese culture, wisteria is also called “purple vine” and symbolizes adventure and playfulness. In Japan, the wisteria plant has existed for approximately 1,200 years. Due to this, the plant symbolizes longevity and immortality. In ancient European culture, families would mark passed bodies with this plant, symbolizing immortality and also the heart to endure in spite of rejection. I felt as if this plant spoke to the recent tumultuous energy of 2015.
The wisteria and lilac bush inspired thoughts about my recent lilac syrup “oozing” off some sort of cake.
I wanted to make a purple cake and then on a Deutsch Google + baking page, I saw this Austrian food blogger About Verena make a crepe cake. That’s it! I am going to do a crepe cake.
And ironically as I thought about the color purple, Prince passed away a couple days after. Somehow purple is symbolical this spring. Making a crepe cake is easier than it looks. However, figuring out how to make it took several attempts.
They say good things happen in threes. On my third attempt I finally figured out a crepe batter. The first batter I did a one to one ratio of liquid to flour with coconut oil and it came out too thick. The second attempt I did a one to two ratio of liquid to flower and it came out too runny.
Anyways, I am not sure the exact reason why, but baking powder seems necessary for vegan crepes. I tried whisking, food processing etc. and with some great crepe-making tips from my one personal training client, she encouraged whisking in the same direction to eliminate the clumps.
Many beautiful cakes are time consuming and can be expensive. I stuck with coconut cream to make the filling and used blackberries as my food coloring. With no refined sugar, I ate this for breakfast everyday.
Light, airy and fluffy, it’s a dessert (or breakfast treat) you can enjoy without feeling weighed down or oversaturated with sugar. The lilac simple syrup is not necessary unless you want that extra hint of floral flavor. Like a buzzing bee, my palate soared to new heights with this perfect, imperfect and semi-messy cake.
If you want your crepe cake even like the traditional French way, you can place the top of a bowl on the crepes then use a knife to cut the edges.
For me, I prefer making things look beautiful without being perfect. Why? Because overcoming and accepting the imperfect is a part of life.
Vegan Lemon Blackberry Lilac Crepe Cake
Cook Time: 30-45 minutes
Makes one 6-inch base creke
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup nondairy milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sweetener (cane sugar or maple syrup)
Vegan Butter or cooking spray for the skillet
1/3 cup blackberries
1.5 tsp lemon zest
2 cans of coconut milk, chilled overnight
2-3 tbsp of lilac syrup
Crepes: Mix the dry ingredients and sugar into a bowl and mix until blended. (If you are using maple syrup mix it with the milk). Whisk the flour in one direction. Slowly, begin to pour the milk from a measuring cup while you vigorously whisk. DO NOT change directions as this eliminates the lumps.
Once well blended let the batter sit for 10-15 minutes (if you are short on time just go ahead and begin) and begin by making the frosting. Bring a greased skillet to medium heat. I found that cooking spray worked the best. *Note the first crepe sometimes never comes out right, so don't be discouraged.
Use a 1/4 cup or ladle and pour the batter onto a heated skillet. Lift the pan and roll the batter around until the base is covered and there is no more runny batter. It will take a couple minutes for the first side to cook. Once it slightly bubbles and the edges begin to "curl" use a spatula to flip the crepe. The second side cooks quicker. Repeat the steps until the batter is gone.
You will need two bowls and either a whisk or egg beater (I used egg beater). Open the chilled coconut cans and scrap the coconut cream. Scrape each jar into a separate bowl. Blend the blackberries in a food processor either 1 tbsp with the lilac syrup or maple syrup (approx. 1/2 tbsp). Next, zest a lemon to get about 1.5 tsp worth.
Add a splash of vanilla to each bowl (about 1/2-1 tsp depending on your preference). In one bowl add the lemon zest and 1 tbsp maple syrup, or more to taste.
In the other bowl, gradually add the blackberries. I added 1 tsp at a time and used the egg beaters to blend until the entire mixture is added. Add additional maple syrup or vanilla to taste.
Once the crepes cool, begin making the cake. You will alternate a layer of crepe and cream. I alternated the lemon and blackberry cream, except for at the top since I wanted the white batter to be on top. Since there are 10 crepes, you will have 10 layers to the cake.
Love it? What is your favorite recipe that uses flowers or another unique ingredient?
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3 Simple Lilac Recipes: How to Make Lilac Syrup, Lilac Lemonade and Herbal Lemon Ginger Lilac Tea
April showers bring May flowers, right? Enamored by the beauty of spring, I stared at the lilac flowers and questioned if they were edible like lavender? A brief Google search taught me that lilacs are not only edible, but they are a perfect addition to baked goods and as a sweetener.
The hot yet crisp air of Seattle’s spring has sprung into summer-like climate. The pollen has been intense and I, and many others, have been affected by allergy-related headaches, sore throats and ear-aches.
The beauty of these flowers inspired me to try something different – cooking with flowers. I decided to make lilac simple syrup to use for desserts and for various beverages. I don’t really know who to attribute this inspiration to besides the lilac flowers and the several food blogs that have made lilac syrup.
Lilacs originate from Europe and often pair well with the vintage vibe. If you’ve followed any of my recipes, you know that I love flowers and nature. Lately, I’ve been into history and reading and re-watching various historical events. Oddly enough, I am watching the show called, Tudors, which is about Henry VIII’s reign over England and Turn: Washington’s Spies about the American Revolution.
I recently collected some new vintage gear from Queen Anne’s Queen Flea market where you can see all of Grace’s awesome upcycled vintage gear @bygonecharm on Instagram. While in Europe, I collected so many antique dishwares for my food photography that flea markets and estate sales are another new hobby. My heart melts at anything with a flower on it. In fact, it reminded me of my trip to the Louvre in Paris where I stared at 1700’s floral dishware.
Well back to the odd findings, I looked up the history and medicinal benefits of lilacs. Lilacs are native to the Balkan states and were introduced to Britain during Henry VIII’s reign and mentioned in an inventory check taken by Oliver Cromwell at Norwich. In America, Thomas Jefferson recorded methods of planting lilacs in his garden in 1767 and George Washington noted he transplanted existing lilac bushes in his garden on March 3, 1785.
Today, there are 20 species of lilac flowers with petals ranging from deep purple to white. I created recipes that can use the lilac syrup to make a sweet and healthy spring beverage.
Make sure to use lilacs that are not cultivated with pesticides and are away from pollution (such as being next to the road). It is important to wash the lilac flowers to rid of the dust, pollen and bugs.
Cook time: 10 minutes
Makes: 1 cup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup lilac flowers
12 blueberries for color
Start by washing the lilac flowers and blueberries. Place the water and sugar together and bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Lower to a simmer and add the lilac flowers and blueberries.
*Note: For a lighter purple use 5-6 blueberries. I wanted a darker purple and a syrup that was not overpowering with a floral taste.
Once the berries soften, take a spoon and push the blueberries on the side of the pan until it bursts. This will enhance the color. Simmer until you are satisfied with the flavor. Usually, the petals wilt to "nothing" near 10 minutes. Strain the mixture and let the syrup cool. The syrup will thicken over night.
Herbal Lemon Ginger Lilac Tea
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes
2 cups water
1 circular slice of lemon
2 tbsp lilac syrup
2 one-inch chunks of ginger root
Remove the skin of the ginger root with a knife. Cut the ginger pieces in half. Boil the ginger in the water for 8-10 minutes. Squeeze the lemon juice into the water and then place the squeezed lemon into the pot and simmer for 5 minutes. Once done, remove the pot from the burner and let the tea slightly cool. You should have about one cup of water left (one cup is near lost from the steam). Add syrup and enjoy warm!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
1 lemon, juiced
2 cups water
4-5 tbsp lilac syrup
Squeeze the lemon and mix it with the water and lilac syrup in a jug. Serve chilled.
Making lilac syrup and beverages are that quick and easy! Stay tuned on Wednesday as I post my Lemon Blackberry Lilac Crepe Cake! It's light, airy and as beautiful as these bushes! Enjoy!
Have you cooked with lilacs? If so, what is your favorite recipe? If you have another flower to cook with, let me know!
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Mother's Day is the day to remember and celebrate the eternal existence of past, present and future moms. Today, there is no one method to living and many are choosing the unconventional path. Many are breaking away from the patterns of being a mom, which some claim the world is over-populated; thus, using their maternal energy to serve the planet and humanity in a different way. With that knowledge, we must not forget that somehow we are all here to serve and each and every woman is blessed with maternal energy.
In each and every one of us we have, or have been affected, by maternal energy so let us celebrate and remember all the good that mom's have done for us even during difficult time.
Do you have a new hobby? Along with experimenting in the kitchen, studying history is my new hobby. I’ve always been fascinated by history, but I’ve kept my head in the health books for so long that I’m ready for something new.
While living in Europe, I was surrounded by history everyday. From memorials to plaques to museums, each day reminded me that some significant event happened in these places. In fact, this was one of the last meals i photographed in Hannover. About to move back to the states, I used a combination of "whatever" was left in my fridge and pantry, but the leaves turning green to yellow inspired this favorite Mexican meal.
Well, sadly Cinco de Mayo is another holiday where modern-day commemorations include eating and drinking too much. Before we get into the recipe logistics, do you realize that Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of the Mexican’s army victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
This past week I’ve been a Netflix addict to the show, “Turn: Washington’s Spies.” Seeing these events that have happened made me appreciate how easy our everyday modern life is. Although modern, many people struggle financially, which is ironic as humanity is wealthier today than ever.
There are many reasons to this, but as a personal trainer I’ve heard plenty of struggling stories. I’ve spent much time training low-income residents and one of the biggest misconceptions is that eating healthy is expensive. I believe that eating out is expensive, but when cooking at home it’s really not that difficult.
When I created this in Hannover it cost me about five euros to serve two people. In the states, vegetables are more expensive, but is still one of the most affordable meals to make.
The goal is to “spice up” a traditional vegetarian-based concoction and to make this a pocketbook-friendly recipe. I used different colored vegetables to give the regular fajita more splash and a rainbow-like appearance. Whenever we can taste the rainbow, it’s gotta be good. The twist is basically the corn and the spice mixture. Most traditional fajitas use oil, salt and pepper. You can add some flavor and heat with the spices below!
If you want an entire vegan meal, check out my vegan coconut flan recipe!
I wish you a happy Cinco de Mayo and hope we can all remember the past, which has created a brighter future for humanity.
Super Easy Vegan Black Bean Fajitas with a Twist
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
1 can of black beans, washed and rinsed
2 peppers (I used 1 red pepper and half of a green and yellow pepper), sliced
1 shallot (or small onion), chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/3 cup corn, washed and rinsed
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Optional "Twist" seasonings: 1/8 tsp cumin, Pinch of pepper, paprika and oregano, Splash of lemon or lime juice
Prep the vegetables. Start with one tablespoon of olive oil and heat in a pan. Cook the garlic and onion until fragrant and translucent. Add the peppers and salt and cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Next, add the corn. If you need more olive oil, gradually add it to the pan so the vegetables don't "dry" out. Once the peppers and corn are edible you can add the black beans, cilantro and the remaining "optional" spices. Cook for 1 to 2 more minutes and then remove the pan from the heat.
Fajitas are that easy! What are your favorite vegetables or spices to add into fajitas? And remember to check out the vegan coconut flan recipe, its as simple as the fajitas!
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Hola mis amigos y amigas! I can’t believe I studied Spanish for seven years and that was nine years ago! Cinco de Mayo brings me back to my college days where margaritas and guacamole flowed like water. Today in a healthier mindset, I can only dream about living somewhere like the shores of the Riviera Maya or Spain. I’ve admired Spanish and Mexican culture for quit sometime, and well, who doesn't like the sun, sand and sea lifestyle, assuming one spends time at the coast. I swear I can taste the beach atmosphere…but for now, I must taste-test the goodness from the kitchen.
Flan has an interesting history that dates back to the Roman Era. The Romans had a surplus of eggs due to domesticating chickens and they used the Greek's knowledge of recipe development to concoct an egg dish called flan. The original flan was savory before it was sweet. Throughout the centuries and various cultural influences, each culture made their own version that followed the Roman concepts.
If you’ve ever tasted non-vegan flan, you know that the creamy custard-like texture is something that makes this dessert something special. I actually made this recipe a while ago, but decided to wait until Cinco de Mayo to post it.
Making vegan flan is much simpler than one thinks. However, to replicate the same texture and creaminess, as traditional flan is something that takes time, patience and many trials and errors.
I wanted to make a flan that is simple and does not use many ingredients. I find the simpler the recipe, the more likely people (and myself) will commit to trying the recipe. Also, I wanted to use a non-sugar based caramel that is sweetened only with natural sweeteners.
I made this recipe sweet enough to where the palate can still taste the hints of cinnamon. If you want this recipe to be sweeter, add in more maple syrup into the mixture.
Also, you can make a sugar-based caramel similar to the traditional flan. However, if you are trying to reduce your sugar intake, this is a great start!
For the storage of the flan, you can use the traditional ramekins. I used small IKEA bowls that holds a generous 1/2 cup of liquid. If you’d prefer to make a vegan flan cake by using a bigger bowl you can do that too. I’ve tried it several ways, and it all works out!
Working with agar agar can be difficult the first couple times. Be sure to follow the recipe usage of the agar agar so it molds the bowl. I’ve used coconut milk (from the can) and almond milk. I found the coconut milk to be creamier in texture, but feel free to use another nondairy milk. You can also reduce the amount of tofu to decrease it's firmness.
Have you made vegan flan? What are some secrets to make it creamier?
Vegan Flan topped with Date Caramel
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Makes 4-6 generous flans (depending on the size of your dishes)
2 cups coconut milk from the can (or almond milk)
2 tsp agar powder
1/2 cup silken tofu (firm will make this a firmer texture)
1/4 cup maple syrup (or more for a sweeter flavor)
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 + 1/8 tsp cinnamon
1-2 batches of date caramel
Put the agar powder and milk into a pan and whisk until blended and let the powder dissolve. Place all the other ingredients into a blender. Turn on the stove's heat and bring the milk and agar powder mixture to a boil. Let it simmer between 5 to 10 minutes. The mixture will slightly thicken. Remove the pot from the heat and let it stand for one minute just to emit heat.
Pour the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. From here you can taste test the "milk" and see if you want additional sweetener added. Pour into ramekins or other small dishes, wrap and chill in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
While the flan chills, make the date caramel. Once chilled, you can use a butter knife to loosen the flan around the edges. Place the open side onto a plate and then lift the flan dish upward. It should remove easily. Smother the top with the date caramel.
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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