I am a health and quality of life advocate. I often hear people say, "why take vacation when you come home completely exhausted."
We are nothing without our health. Eating healthy is essential for a healthy life. Getting away from our comfort zones and escaping the stress of work is nothing but restorative for our health. Even traveling through the bustling cities of DC and NYC this week, I noticed my skin and eyes became "glossier."
I've felt relaxed. I've not thought about work. And my brain has finally slowed down. There is much to be said about traveling, especially when discovering history and how the world worked in the past.
Food and travel go hand in hand. When relaxed, our digestion is "full on" and we eat more consciously. Discovering different foods allows us to touch base with that area's culture. Traveling doesn't have to be to far and exotic places. So I recommend to get out more, eat well and travel often for a wonderful quality of life.
As always, inspired by the sun,
I am traveling on the east coast and currently in New York City. This city is fascinating because its a combination of the old and the new. I feel like these sugar cookies are a blend of that energy - old fashioned cookies made with a modern day twist.
I love sugar cookies but the ones you find in the store are made with SO much sugar and the orange and green frosting is made with food coloring. They look beautiful but I find its too much sugar.
This blog post will be quick, but I created this recipe so people can enjoy sugar cookies without feeling over bloated from sugar. The quantity of sugar and butter ratio dictates how soft, hard or fluffy your cookie will be. These cookies are not the hard and crispy sugar cookie, especially because pumpkin softens things.
These are a healthier version of sugar cookies. I used nearly half of the powder sugar that most people use in their traditional frosting. I really don't see why anyone needs to use 4 cups of powder sugar. To me, it's all about a palate readjustment, which I experienced in Europe since these cultures do not use as much sugar in their treats as the American culture.
As a personal trainer, one of my goals is to help everyone re-train their tongue to crave healthier foods. And reducing our sugar intake is one step toward that. I do not believe in eliminating anything unless someone has severe health problems. Enjoying sweets is sweet :) and healthy in terms of the pleasure that you can from consuming holiday and seasonal delights.
This recipe is not difficult at all. The most difficult part is making sure not to over mix the dough. That should not be a problem, but be sure to use the scraps and add it back into the next batch of dough that you'll roll out.
Vegan Cinnamon-Spiced Pumpkin Sugar Cookies & Frosting
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Waiting Time: Several Hours to Overnight
Sugar Cookie Ingredients:
1/2 cup vegan butter at room temperature (1 earth balance buttery stick)
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
2-3 tbsp nondairy milk (used almond)
1/2 cup vegan butter at room temperature (1 earth balance buttery stick. Not from the container)*
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp pumpkin puree
1/2 + 1/8 tsp pumpkin spice (or just a combo of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove to taste)
1 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp powder sugar
Pinch of cinnamon (up to 1/8 tsp)
Cream together the butter, sugar, pumpkin and vanilla with a mixer or a spatula. Sift the flour in gradually and mix until combined and a dough forms. Gradually, add the milk one tablespoon at a time and mix after each tablespoon. At this point, you may need to you use your hands to knead the dough. Roll into a ball and refrigerate dough (in a covered bowl) for a couple hours to overnight.
Take the dough and separate into two to three large chunks. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Flatten a chunk of the dough and place another piece of parchment paper on top. Begin to roll the dough to 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick pieces with a rolling pin. If you find its difficult place a bit of flour on one side of the dough. *I found its easiest to work in smaller batches*
Use the cookie cutter to cut out pieces and place it on a plate or sheet. Once complete, freeze the dough for 15 minutes. At this time preheat the oven to 350-degrees and bake for 10 minutes. While baking begin the frosting.
Cream the butter, vanilla and pumpkin together with an egg beater or mixer. Add the spice and mix. Next, gradually add the powder sugar by 1/2 cup and mix until blended (see image above). If you need more powder sugar, please add more to sweeten further. You will need to readjust your spice ratio.
Once the cookies are cooled, frost the cookies and sprinkle additional pumpkin spice or cinnamon on top.
This will be a short and sweet post - just like these ghosts!
I'm traveling on the east coast to DC, Philadelphia & New York City. It's funny that the hot weather has not turned the leaves. Most of the trees are still green, which is such a rarity. In Seattle, all the leaves were nearly turned, which is odd for the Pacific Northwest to experience an early fall.
Halloween is the holiday that every dentists love. It's no secret that kids love chocolate and candy. But our snack-dominated nation has affected the health and wellbeing of children. So, why not combine the sweetness of fruit and chocolate.
White chocolate ghosts are some of the easiest and scariest treats to make! All you need are different sized chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and bananas. They are funny little treats that are perfect for kids to use their creativity while enjoying a fruit-based dessert.
White Chocolate Ghosts
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
1/2 cup of white chocolate
8 small chocolate chips
4 large chocolate chips
Cute the bananas in half. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl that is on top of simmering water. Line a pan or plate with parchment paper. Use a spoon or pastry brush to cover the bananas. Place the chocolate chips on to the banana to replicate the eyes and the mouth. Set in the refrigerator or freezer until the chocolate is solid.
Nothing gets me more excited than seeing the fruits and flowers of nature match in color. I've said it once, but I believe that nature is an artist.
I originally made this during the summer months, but have found that this juice is a perfect fall drink since apples and pears have recently been harvested. Some fitness professionals are for juicing. Others are not.
What should you do? I have written a brief post, here, "To Juice or Not to Juice." I think there are spiritual benefits, specifically giving your gut a break from chronic over-eating.
Beets are a miracle food. First, I've learned that beets are one of the very few foods that can detox the liver and purify our blood (hence the color of both). One of the first known uses for beets were during the Roman era who used beets as an aphrodisiac.
Besides boosting one's libido, beets are an excellent source for magnesium, potassium, fiber, iron, phosphorous and Vitamin A, B & C.
Apples and pears are no exception to health benefits. Apples contain phytonutrients that regulates blood sugar and is a good source for dietary fiber. Eating them in whole form is most ideal, but freshly squeezed juice can have a laxative effect to get the bowel system moving. Apples also contain high bouts of Vitamin C. When vitamin C is taken in excess, it contributes to a laxative effect.
As for pears, fiber is the most known health benefit. Pears also contain high traces of Vitamin C & K and copper. Studies have been shown that pears can help prevent Type 2 Diabetes.
So the "trifecta" effect is that this juice is easy for digestion but these nutrients "work hard" to cleanse the digestive tract. Together, the juice is sweet, just like natural candy. Enjoy!
Apple Pear Beet Juice
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Makes 2 cups (depending on the strength of the juicer)
4 small gala apples
Wash and cut the pear, beet and apple. Put through a juicer, mix and serve!
As an Aquarian, I understand the Age of Aquarius energies because I am programmed this way. I am a neutral person and try to see things from both sides of the story before making decisions or automatically judging others. This is part of the maturation process to ascend above the drama and bullshit in life.
My entire life i went against the status quo. Iook at situations from above. Once I do that, I look at it from further above (sort of like the Google Map). Whenever the herd headed to the right, I headed to the left. I have a rebellious streak in me, but its subtle.
Throughout my career I spent tons of money of mentoring. Some mentors told me to basically "kiss ass" to other professionals to fit in and be seen. I did the opposite as I think brown nosing is inauthentic. Anyways, this quote resonates to the current energies of what we are seeing right now, specifically the "calling out" in the food and medical industry.
We are comfortable with trends because it's accepting and within our comfort zone. In some ways, we allow trends to control our independent thinking because we fear being an outcast. Be unique. Be different. And do not be afraid to against the herd.
As always, inspired by the sun,
Join Mind Body Soul Food Every Sunday for some inspiration -Sunspiration. Inspiration Every Sunday in 150 Words or Less.
Insight on the Journey to Health & Healing: Finding Om 1 Year Anniversary Message + Free Book Giveaway
October 14th is a special day to me. In 2014, it was the first day I arrived in Germany to embark on a 15-month adventure of living in Germany and traveling in Europe.
While in the Lagos, Portugal (a place I've always wanted to go) I picked up pieces of my soul while launching my first book, Finding Om, a travel memoir that includes tales in Australia and India in search for change, growth and empowerment.
One of the most important lessons I learned through this journey is the maturation of the soul; exiting drama, being honest, questioning things and aligning my dreams with my soul purpose. Of course, traveling is a fun adventure and journey, but I feel as if I don't travel just for travel sake. I travel to discover things about the world, a country's culture and things about myself. I do love adventure, but there is something more to adventure than just posting a selfie on Facebook of doing something cool. This book resembles the first steps to change and doing things opposite that many young females do to "find" themselves or make themselves feel better through drugs, random sex, materialism and self-confidence.
I did not expect that writing (in general and) this book would be so healing. It brought me to further acceptance of my past and healed pieces of past relationships where I became attached to guilt, sadness and personal blame. I realized that my past is relatively innocent compared to most people - so why be so hard on myself?
I believe in the power of writing. Writing, specifically in a journal, is old-school (I get it), but much more powerful than a computer. Not only have people been writing with a pen and paper for centuries, but there is something that we can improve upon when we exit the overuse of technology.
To celebrate "my baby" turning one year old, I am offering a Finding Om giveaway - writing style. This past year has been a challenge and ultimately one year of growth by hitting tons of barriers to where a trip to Burning Man revived the strength of my soul.
Sadly, I can't read your pen and paper notes (if you'd like you can send me a picture), but for this one-year anniversary giveaway I'm doing it based on writing. If you'd like to be one of 5 winners, please fill out the form below with one of the two topic choices by October 31st.
-What's been your favorite personal growth journey? (This can include anything from a trip, hiking, meditation, reading a book seriously anything that has evolved your life).
-Why you deserve a free copy. And how can this story help you? (Maybe you're unemployed and need some inspiration. Or just love to read memoirs).
This giveaway is open world-wide - with your choice to choose a print or ebook - with one exception. Print copies can only be shipped within the USA. Thus, if you live abroad you can enter for an ebook which is available for all mobile devices. All entires will remain private.
As late summer approached, trees across Queen Anne blossomed with the sweet fruits of nature. Pears, plums, apples and figs – nature became a Farmer’s Market for all good foods to help us transition into the fall season.
Fruit plays a role in our history and serves as earthly pleasures for gluttony and temptation. Nature’s authentic dessert (fruit) is common amidst modern day desserts and historical texts.
In Greek and Roman mythology, pears are sacred to three goddesses: Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans), Hera (Juno to the Romans) and Pomona the Italian goddess of gardens and harvests. Ancient Chinese say pears symbolize immortality since pear trees live a long life. In Chinese, the word li means both “pear” and “separation.” Tradtion claims to avoid separation amongst friends and lovers one must never divide pears between themselves.
I craved something sweet tinted with a hint of spice. Bosc pears are ideal for baking and the gluten free crust allows GF-eaters to enjoy some of the best-baked goods from Italy.
You can certainly use regular flour but my inspiration was to take the spiritual meaning of pears that originated in Italy and create an Italian-inspired treat.
If you love spice and pears, you will not be disappointed with this recipe.
Gluten Free & Vegan Cardamom-Spiced Pear Crostata
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 27-30 minutes
Total Time: 37-40 minutes
1 cup gluten free all-purpose flour (or pastry flour for non-GF option)
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp cane sugar
6 tbsp vegan butter (scant tbsp.)
2 tbsp cold water
1 bosc pear cut in quarters and sliced
1/2 tbsp vegan butter (scant tbsp)
2 tbsp sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cardamom
Pinch of clove
Begin by making the dough. Mix the dry ingredients and the sugar together. Use a fork or knife to cut the butter into the dough until it looks crumbly. Gradually, add the water and mix until the dough forms. Use your hands to roll the dough into a ball. Set aside in the refrigerator for a moment.
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
Remove the top and the bottom of the pear. Cut the pear in quarters from the top (remove the core if needed). And cut into thin slices. You will not need the entire pear.
Next, combine the sugar spice mixture into a small bowl.
Take the dough out of the fridge and roll the dough out on a floured surface. It should automatically begin to roll out in a circular form. Place on a pan lined with parchment paper.
Sprinkle some of the sugar mix on the dough and place the pears on the crostata in a circular manner, leaving 1-2 inches of space near at the edge. Begin to fold the dough inward, layering the dough as needed to where it makes a crease / fold. Gluten free dough is delicate so pinch any cracks closed.
Spread some butter on top of the pears and sprinkle more of the sugar spice on top. I used about 1/3 of the sugar spice on top of the dough.
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Nature is symbolic to life. And how perfect is this quote. It's symbolic to the rainy Pacific NW fall weather.
Growth, expansion and evolvement come develop from undergoing hardships. It's part of life. Good/bad, pure/evil, planet earth is an incarnation of polarities. So of course, it's going to rain, storm and freeze before beauty blossoms again.
Humans, as much as we'd like to think, can't outwit nature and biology. So, hard times will come. How mentally prepared are you to endure that challenge? The best part about hard times is that we come out of the situation smarter, wiser and more knowledgeable than before. So, the sun will shine once the storm clouds pass.
Could you imagine a life that was sunny all the time? Like Mars, the Planet would be harsh and unlivable. Physically, you'd probably dry, shrivel and crack your face from too much smiling.
As always, inspired by the sun,
Join Mind Body Soul Food Every Sunday for some inspiration -Sunspiration. Inspiration Every Sunday in 150 Words or Less.
I grew up with parents who loved to garden. And one of the most memorable flowers my parents planted were the hydrangea.
In greek, "hydro" means water and "angos" means vessel or jar. These beautiful flowers look similar to a pom-pom, and boast patriotic-like colors. The color of every bush is dependent upon the Ph in the soil. Once cut, these flowers last a long time. Hydrangeas love water, which is a reminder for us to stay hydrated.
I subbed a yoga class in Fremont. And one of the participants gave me a handful of hydrangeas from his yard. Perfect with the summer sun, I decided to create something patriotic and cool.
At my nearby grocery outlet store, I picked up a bunch of So Delicious products in hopes to make a frozen yogurt treat. I am fan of SO Delicious and enjoy their creativity and innovation for bringing new products on the market. (I have not been paid by SO Delicious.)
Native Americans once used hydrangeas for medicinal purposes. They used the bark as a muscle relaxer and burn ointment. Also, the roots were used as a diuretic and detoxifer. The plant comes from Asia but made way into Europe, specifically England in the 18th Century. An old and ancient myth is that the hydrangea can remove any curses placed by a witch.
How perfect for fall as these plants rebirth clusters of these flowers throughout late September and October.
You can mix and match the flavors of the bar that works for you. I was going for the same color scheme as the flowers, but you can also try adding in coconut cream or blending cashews to give it a creamier texture. These bars are quick to freeze, and be sure to thaw them out slightly before eating.
If you own an ice cream maker you can also use the yogurt as a replacement in your favorite ice cream recipes.
If you use plain yogurt, you can add maple syrup to make it sweeter. If you prefer something as a dessert, use vanilla yogurt for a sweeter flavor.
These bars work perfect as a snack or a dessert replacement if you are trying to minimize your sugar (or ice cream) consumption.
Vegan Coconut Frozen Yogurt Bars
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Waiting Time: Several Hours
Pan: 9x5 bread pan
1 blueberry coconut yogurt cup
1 strawberry banana yogurt cup
2 vanilla (or plain for less sugar)
1/4 cup almonds
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp maple syrup
pinch of salt
Begin by making the crust. Blend the almonds and oats for several seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until your desired texture.
Line a bread pan with parchment paper. Press the crust firmly into the pan. Pour the vanilla yogurt on top of the crust and smooth out the top. Next, spoon the flavored yogurt on top. I placed three spoonfuls across and alternated the flavors. Once complete, I took a knife and swirled the yogurt to make a marble top.
Freeze for a couple hours. Thaw upon serving.
Have you made froyo bars? If so, what flavors do you like?
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First, thank you to all who messaged me for the 10/3 distance Reiki session. I hope that the intelligence and higher power of Reiki was sent to provide healing and the confidence to walk forward in life.
Well, I must say this was one of the most interesting healing sessions I’ve done. Some disturbances occurred before and during the session, which I feel were part of the healing session.
The most fascinating part is that everyone who emailed me seems to be in some mode of transition (physically, emotionally or spiritually) that requires personal healing. Letting go, starting something new, unemployed, releasing anxiety, needing to make big decisions – nothing seems rooted and just okay. Everyone is going through some form of transition.
My original intentions were to sit on this bench (that no one ever goes to) that is surrounded by trees. Since a leaf-blower guy was on the other side of the fence, I walked to another bench that is partly private.
I felt attracted to some yellow leaves and placed the leaves around my crystals and Palo Santo. I commenced the healing and cleared myself of energy. The leaf blower was in the distance, and so it was distracting but not horrible.
I listened to Reiki music with ear buds, and began to Reiki the group as a collective. The leaf blower guy then came into the garden. Between the music in my ears and the buzzing of the blower, the noise got so overwhelming I had to move.
While reiki-ing the group, I walked two-minutes down the road to a private staircase – where I never see anyone. I know this because sometimes I read on those stairs for quit some time. I sat on the stairs and set up my leaves and crystals. A house does reside next to the stairs and out comes a family dragging suitcases in and out of the house, walking past me to go to their car.
God, should I move again? Since this was the third location, I had a strong urge to stay put. I thought, “Aweee, why are people in my way?”
This nagging thought to stay put kept rummaging through my head. A message came through. It said, “There will always be disturbances and people in your way. You need to proceed with this healing session regardless of who’s around. Strength comes when you block the outside world and do what you want to do.” So, I sat there and completed the individual Reiki. The family was quiet and did not talk to me, and I was able to block them out.
A big thing as I moved through healing people is that I had a lot “pull” on my gut. The gut is the “second brain,” the place of our intuition. The navel chakra is our power center. I kept getting reminders that we need to build ourselves up, spiritually and in our inner world regardless of what people think. In Japan, they call this area the “hara,” and if you’ve ever seen older Japanese movies and when the spiritual guy stabs himself in the stomach – he does this because he’s killing his power center.
I also felt some pull from the heart, which is something many of us are lacking in modern society as we give up our power to someone / something else and put ourselves second, or avoid the things we love because we don’t have time.
The other fascinating part of the healing is that I had one request to send love and light to the koalas in Australia. Now, I lived in AUS twice and I have a deep love for these animals. My body and third eye was “sucked” into these creative and into the eucalyptus trees.
I kept receiving a message that everyone on this list needs to spend more time and be inspired by nature. Now, some of this has been my path (connecting food with nature) to get people to evolve themselves by learning from nature, but my guides told me that the planet needs our help just as much as we need help in our own lives. And it’s that symbiotic relationship that can evolve us. Nature can help and inspire us. And we can help nature.
I concluded the healing session with a Goddess Card reading. (Sorry for the blurry picture! I dropped my phone in a latte while trying to photograph it for my travel blog, so my camera is ruined!)
I asked for feedback about what people should know about this reading. (You can read more about these goddess online with a Google Search).
I shuffled the cards and two cards popped out of its deck. The first was Nemetona a Romano-Celtic who is guardian of the groves (trees) and inspires those to either visit an ancient site, build an altar in their home, go on a spiritual journey / retreat or space clear naturally with something like sage in order to connect to the Divine. Being outside in nature is very representative of Nemetona. The big message about this card here is to connect to our roots (something ancient) and nature. It’s interesting because for a year now I am drawn to Bath, England and apparently she was worshipped there.
The second card that fell out of the stack is the Indian Goddess Lakshmi. Lakshmi is the goddess of beauty, light, wealth, good fortune and love. This card signifies that everything will be okay, but you need to step into the light and get rid of the old “bag lady” fears you have about your future. Stop worrying about money and start visualizing abundance. Lakshmi works with Ganesha (the remover of obstacles) to overcome challenges. She is here to protect you and your family. How I interpret this is it doesn’t mean you wont experience obstacles but see them as a challenge not a barrier.
The three cards I pulled were:
Freyja (Nordic earth goddess) – BE BOLD and do something daring – make a big life change, appreciate your body, be flirty!
Guinevere (Celtic triple goddess) – True love (soulmates could be on their way, if your romances aren’t being met, you need to fix this within you / take steps to alleviate this, renewed passion is stirring etc., great love is within you)
Aphrodite (Greek goddess) – Inner Goddess – do something fun! Awaken your soul through dance, self-care, expose your feminine side & balance your male and female energy.
After that, I noticed bush branches that were cut. I felt compelled to pick them up. As I looked at the small branches, I noticed how balanced this bush is. The leaves on the right are the same shape, size and angle as the leaf on the left. I placed these branches along with my list in the sunshine for the rest of the day.
If you have any questions, comments or feedback – please contact me!
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