India Part 5: Reconnecting to myself indepth

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So as the journey continues in India, the land of hopes and dreams, suffering and succeeding, dying and lying, fame and shame, colours, religion, spices and MORE, I began to connect even further to my truth.

As with all my journeys I attract that which is a reflection of me and the energy that I project. I attracted tons of opportunities for connecting with the land, with the people, with the culture, with the nature and with myself. Everything really is connected afterall. I could really see this as I experienced it in depth in India.

I remember hearing, reading and knowing of many people who went to India to “Find” themselves. This was not my intention, but I will admit, there was something about India that brought up some of my inner most feelings and emotions to the surface. India has this effect on many and it’s no wonder it’s a popular choice for releasing the past, unfolding/unleashing new parts of ones being, and rediscovering oneself in a whole new way, or adding to what already exists. (In a different way then traveling to somewhere like Hawaii or Peru)

Talk about education! With more people than toilets in existence in the whole country, there’s just as much room for learning about oneself through everyday life in such conditions as the slums, the Ganges, the many villages and the streets in general. There’s as much richness in money as there is culture. There are as many flavours in food and incense as there are colours. There are as many people as there are smells and sights that can tease or tame the heart.

The compassion, acceptance and surrender I learnt for myself, for others and for life in general, is incredible really. One thing I learnt during my travels that has made traveling easier is to keep my point of view, my beliefs and my way of living on hold and actually leave space for learning something else. How do I actually know if my way is even the “right” way anyway? There are just some differences that one has to learn to accept and surrender to.

Observe the ego through moments of judgement and calm the nerves through acknowledgement and lack of judgement. Just be with what is, knowing that there may or may not be a way to change the situation, but the way one reacts and thinks is something that can be controlled especially when one is aware of their situation.

There is poverty all over the world. There is such thing as human trafficking and greed. There are many people suffering each and everyday and sometimes there is something the fortunate and wealthier people in the world can do, and sometimes there’s no much they can do.

I believe in Karma and I believe that feeling bad, pitiful, resentful, and/or obligated to do something is not only a waste of time and energy, but also an invitation for more dis-ease in ones own body/life and also in the world.

Again we are united as one in this world and so what ever energy I project is the energy I shall receive. So I choose to keep tuned into love station rather than fear station and as the Buddhists say “the energy one creates/cultivates goes around the world 8 times”. Like the butterfly effect, when I think, feel, or behave a certain way, just like a butterfly flaps its wings, this energy has the potential to get sent around the world to the other side.

And so by being present in India and observing my surroundings internally and externally from myself, I was able to reconnect to myself, my truth and feel compassion for those around me who are living their karma. I can only help them by continuing my path as I do now, knowing that when I do something that has a positive effect for me, it in turn has a positive effect on them. In the long run all the micro energy effects will have a macro effect.

And with so many people in the world, we can connect and continue to share this world together through positive thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions. Our awareness of what we can do rather than what we can’t do can help oneself as well as many others. It’s a choice to be conscious and make a conscious effort to be present and make the changes one wants to see in the world.

It may not be easy for some people to make this change, but the first step to any change is awareness. There’s room for improvement and there’s room for additions of more greatness and creativity, expansiveness and opportunity for optimality. It’s there. Let’s not compare ourselves to others, let’s focus on ourselves so that we can lead by example and share what we can actually do that’s useful to the whole world. One step at a time, day by day, letting go of history, brining in the mystery and accepting our present(s).

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Treat Yourself Biscotti: glutenfree, vegan, healthy, yummy

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Treat Yourself Biscotti: glutenfree, vegan, healthy
(Makes about 40-50 round crunchy pieces or 25 larger pieces)

Being in Italy at the moment, I’m inspired to try a healthier, glutenfree, dairyfree version of some of their tasty traditional desserts. The world is changing and food allergies are more common. The bonus to this is that people can get out of their normal, usual, everyday way of life and try something new. It’s a luxury to be able to get out of the comfort zone and to expand ones’ consciousness by experimenting and entering the unknown. Food substitutes are more common now and people are rediscovering their tastebuds and taking their palates to a whole new level. Try this delicious buckwheat nutty, fruity crunchy treat.
(The picture shows 2 kinds: hazelnut-lemon-raisin and rosemary-lemon-raisin)

Hazelnut-Lemon-Raisin-Buckwheat Biscotti

Ingredients:
-2 cups buckwheat flour (See notes at the bottom for more on flours)
-3/4 cup cane sugar (see note at the bottom for more on sweeteners)
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/3 cup olive oil or coconut oil
-1/4 cup water
-1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
-1/2 cup raisins
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
-1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Optional: 1/4 cup dried shredded coconut
-1 tsp vanilla extract

Loving Preparation:
-Preheat oven to 350degree Fahrenheit/175 degrees Celsius
-Grease a large tray with coconut or olive oil or line a baking tray with parchment paper
-In a big bowl sift together the flour, salt and baking soda
-In another bowl mix together the oil, water, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest
-Form a hole in the middle of the flour and pour the wet ingredients in. Mix really well until a stiff dough forms.
-Add the nuts, raisins and coconut (or any other flavour you wish to use)
-Shape the dough into 2 long thin logs or a bigger log about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide (depending what size biscotti you like) and place on prepared tray. -Gently press down slightly to flatten a little. (If it’s sticky wet your hands slightly)
-Bake for 25min on the top rack
-Remove from oven, transfer to a wooden cutting board and let it cool for 5min, then cut into 1/4 inch rounds for the thin log, or 1/2 inch thick for the wider log (cut on a diagonal)

(Use only a serrated knife to cut and be careful as buckwheat flour can crumble easily . Notice in the picture. This will also depend on how tightly you formed the log from the beginning, but it doesn’t always happen).
-Place the cut pieces back in the oven and bake an additional 5min on each side
-Turn off the oven and leave in the oven for 30min to dry out completely.
-Leave to cool completely at room temperature then store in an airtight glass jar.
-Wrap and gift or eat with a cup of tea/coffee.

Rosemary-Lemon-Raisin-Buckwheat Biscotti:

Follow the same recipe above but substitute the nuts with 1tbsp freshly finely chopped rosemary and remove the coconut and vanilla.

Note:
Substitutions/Alternatives:
-cranberries and/or dried apricots instead of or combined with raisins
-use any other nut or a combination
-Coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey, date sugar, stevia, molasses sugar instead of cane sugar (Remember though, each sweetener has its own taste so take this into consideration. The darker the sweetener the darker your biscotti will be and often darker is stronger/bitter which I personally like)
-A little alcohol adds flavour too (1 tbsp cognac/run/whiskey/flavoured liqueur)

Tasty combinations:
-lemon poppy seed
-cranberry-orange-almond (toasted almonds or raw, freshly grated orange zest or orange oil)
-cashew honey
-apricot sesame(lightly toasted before adding it to the mixture)
-nuts and chocolate chips (1/2 cup of each)
-2-3 drops of rose and/or lavender oil
-2-3 drops of lemon/orange/coffee/raspberry/vanilla/cinnamon/etc oil.
-If using essential oils always use organic, food grade, 100% natural.

For a more traditional style of biscotti (mix separately the 1/4 cup of water with 2tbsp ground flax seeds, add to the wet ingredients and mix well) (this mixture is a substitute for eggs which is what traditional biscotti has to keep the ingredients binded well)
-If the buckwheat taste is too much, use the following instead:
Mix together 1 cup amaranth flour/quinoa flour/coconut flour with 1 cup almond powder (freshly ground/powdered blanched almonds) or try just almond or coconut flour. Experiment. And enjoy the crunch of something new and no longer unknown!

Peach Cake with Brown Rice Flour

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I just can’t seem to get enough of this continuous creative flow I’ve been cultivating in the kitchen these past few days. The creativity isn’t new, but the ideas that I’m creating are.

Where I am happens to have an abundance of fresh food growing around me in the garden, on trees, bushes and of course the local market helps a lot when some fruits aren’t quite ripened yet.

The flours to use for cakes are quite limiting around here, as wheat and white flour are the only options around. I just happened to come across the buckwheat flour a few days ago, but it’s not as commonly found as I thought. I have so many peaches but no more flour. So I searched high and low for at least a gluten free, organic flour. I found brown rice flour and made the same cake I’ve been making these past few days but it turned out a little different.

The recipe is the same as the others (look back to Z A P cake and fluffy plum cake) but I added almonds instead of walnuts and rice flour instead of buckwheat flour and lots of big chunks of peaches. Here’s a picture to entice you too. The zucchini and apple are still used to substitute the oil and eggs that normal cakes would use.

My next flour to experiment with will be quinoa flour, but it most likely won’t be in Italy that I try this. I’m looking forward to it.

Refreshingly Easy Green Smoothie

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So what’s up with all these greens and what can we do with them?
There are greens all around us, almost everywhere we look. Maybe not in a desert, but maybe in your garden, local forest or park, or at least in the veggie section of your local market/grocery store. Try to buy local greens too, or forage your own if you are 100% certain which ones are edible. You can research this. Buy organic (unsprayed/non gmo) whenever possible too.

I’ve met many people who think of salad when they hear of the word “green”. Well fortunately there’s plenty you can do with greens and drinking them is one of the options.

A green smoothie is the answer! In your average bowl of salad you have maybe a handful of greens, often comprised of lettuce. Well there are many many other types of greens and far richer in nutrients than lettuce alone.

The darker the green often the richer in nutrients, vitamins, minerals. You can research online which greens contain which nutrients. Some may be more bitter than others but that’s why we have the bonus of the smoothies, fruits! Fruits help to add flavour and to mask the bitterness of some of these greens. But limit your fruit here, especially if you intend to have more than one smoothie a day. Try to build up your palate to have as little sweetness as possible. Take your time and add just enough fruit to make it palatable.

For today’s smoothie I added the following into a blender:

-1 peach
-2 handfuls of greens including Swiss chard, parsley, kale, spinach and romaine lettuce.
-1/2 lemon squeezed
-2 cup water
(You could use papaya, banana, apple, nectarine, figs, apricot, berries, etc. and even add celery, cucumber, and zucchini for a creamier smoothie which may not require as much water)

Very important: Do not just gulp your smoothies. Be sure to savour it and chew it well. Even if you completely blend until it becomes smooth, it’s important to prepare the body’s digestive system starting with the mouth, chewing well and allowing the gums and tongue to work their magic before the food enters your stomach.

Anyone interested in doing a 10 day green smoothie challenge can have a lot of fun as there are a lot of different greens and fruits available. Summer time is the perfect time to do this too.

Remember that 1 piece of fruit is enough, or 1/2 cup. Sometimes a frozen piece of fruit works best for those whose palates aren’t adapted to the taste yet. The cold temperature makes for a refreshing beverage and meal on a hot summer day, or as a delicious refreshing breakfast, to start the day. But do give it time to become warm in the mouth before swallowing so your body gets the optimal results.

Many studies show that cold beverages can be taxing on the body, so drink cold beverages less often, or at least let them warm up in your mouth before swallowing.

Snip, blend, drink
Bon Appetite, Salut!

Dates (date paste): a natural sugar

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Have you ever wondered why sugar isn’t called the substitute? Why are all the other sweeteners substitutes for the unnatural stuff? I have no idea where this started or how but right here, right now I’m going to show you how to make your own natural sweetener using dates.

Other dried fruits can also be made in the same way and may resemble jam. Experiment with different dried fruits and see for youself.

Unless you live in a country where dates grow all year round, you may not have the fresh fruit but guaranteed you can find the dried imported dates somewhere in your area (the middle eastern stores often have them if not your local grocery).

Ingredients:
-whole dates
-water
ratio: 1:2 (dates:water)

Loving preparation:
Place ingredients in a jar, close airtight and leave to soak for 4-6 hours. If you are using them another day, leave them in the fridge until you are ready to use them.

You will notice that the water is sweet too, the dates increase in volume and the dates are liquidy almost. Perfect consistency to make a date paste and have sweetened water for sweetening whatever you need.

Remove the pits and tops of the dates. Blend the dates until smooth and creamy and use as needed.
-Do not discard the water. You can use it to sweeten beverages hot/cold, smoothies, desserts, or drink as is if you like drinking sweetness.

It’s easy as 1,2,3 and that’s what will be, for dates may not be free, but ce la vie, for they are tasty!

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Fluffy Plum Cake

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Fluffy plum Cake

This cake is similar to the Z-A-P cake but slightly different and just as satisfying. The buckwheat flour really compliments the taste of plums.

This is also a vegan, gluten free, nut free cake and can be sugar free if you use just fruits or date puree. Experiment and see what you can create. It’s the summer time and fruits are in season!

Ingredients:

1. 1 cup grated zucchini

2. 1 cup peeled and grated apple (or blend into apple sauce) (I used golden delicious, but use any kind you like, or have available to you)

3. 1 cup chopped or quartered really ripe plums (red or yellow or both)

4. 1 Tbsp freshly grated lemon peel

5. 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger

6. 1 Tbsp cinnamon powder

7. 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder

8. 1/4 tsp salt

9. 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

10. 1/3-1/2 cup your choice of sweetener: pureed pre-soaked dates (see pic for more info)/cane sugar/coconut sugar/honey/or don’t use any at all if your fruits are sweet enough.

11. 2 cups buckwheat flour (found in European stores or bulk food stores)

12. 1 tsp baking soda (aluminum free) diluted in 2tbsp luke warm water

13. 1/2 cup quartered or halved plums for the top

Loving preparation:

-Make sure your oven rack is in the middle of the oven to prevent the top from burning. Depending on the oven you have, will depend on how evenly spread the heat is. Convection oven is best of course.
-Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400degress Fahrenheit (you will turn it down later)

-Grease and flour a 12inch round pan or 9×13 rectangular pan (use pyrex, glass, ceramic, cast iron or stainless steel. Avoid using Aluminum pans all together in your life)

-In a large mixing bowl combine the first 9 ingredients. Squeeze by hand, mix with an electric blender or use a spoon if you like pieces to remain

-Add the sugar and flour to the mixture and mix well with a spoon. Then pour the baking soda in and mix well again.

– Fold in the optional ingredients and pour into the prepared pan

-Place the plums in a circle around the cake, gently press them in so they still stick out slightly at the top.
(for an extra crisp on top, sprinkle some cane sugar/coconut sugar just before popping it into the oven)

-Pop it into the oven and turn down the temperature to 175 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit and set the timer for 40min

-Turn the light on in the oven and check to make sure the top is not burning. If it is bring the oven rack down to the bottom of the oven, or cover the top. Careful it’s hot! (oven mitts or thick towels work best here)

-When it’s done remove from oven, leave it in the pan to cool. Don’t worry about setting it on a wire rack. This is a special cake that doesn’t need that. But go ahead if you want to anyway.

Cut into slices, serve with a cup of tea, or coffee and enjoy the smiles that exude from your face, your belly and of others around you that get to taste it too.

Notes:
-For a muffin version: Pour batter into a muffin tray lined with paper muffin cups (about 15 large muffins and 40mini) or grease and flour bare muffin tins/tray.
Bake for 20min on 175C/350F. Once cooled down you can store in an airtight container in the fridge up to a week or freeze and warm up for later in the month/year (if they last). you can also cut them in half and spread coconut butter on them while they are warm. Yummy!

-If you want to get extra fancy you can drizzle maple syrup or your favourite jam warmed up, right before serving it.

-Replace the zucchini with 1/2 cup ground flax seed or ground chia seed and 1/4 cup water (leave for 2min in a bowl to thicken before adding it to the mixture)

-Replace the plums with 2 cups strawberries or any berries for a berry variation

Z-A-P CAKE (zucchini, apple, peach)

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Z-A-P Cake (zucchini, apple, peaches)

Ever wonder what else is possible with seasonal fruit besides marmalades, sorbets, smoothies, or eating the fruit whole as is? Or maybe you have some frozen fruit or fruit that’s about to spoil?

Look no further. Here’s today’s delicious fluffy, gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy free, sugar free, egg-free cake. Nuts are optional of course.

It’s amazing how most fruits are the same in many continents and around the same time of the year too. And now with the weather changing, some parts of the world have fruits growing earlier than usual. Hey, for a creative kitchen Goddess like myself this is quite special and happily accepted.

I happen to be in Northern Italy (50km from Torino), in a small town called Asti. I just arrived from 2months of traveling in Israel, Spain and France. And I noticed they have the same fruits as what’s in Italy at the moment.

For a “typical cake”, eggs, milk, oil and sugar are often used. Here, zucchini replaces the egg, apples replace the oil, the sweetener of your choice replaces the sugar and there’s so much liquid in fruit that you don’t need milk anyway. However you could add a little almond milk for the almond flavour or almond extract if you’d like.

Also FYI: Buckwheat is a member of the rhubarb family, hence why it’s a pseudo grain like quinoa, amaranth and wild rice. It’s more gentle on the digestion, and quite nutritious. It’s one of the common “grains” eaten in many parts of Europe and its nutty flavour and texture make a fabulous base for a dessert (as you’ll taste soon)

(Note: be prepared to make 2 batches, this cake isn’t heavy so it may go quite quickly and you can store it in the fridge after 2 days at room temp to last longer and give the kids or yourself a treat whenever you’d like, cold or warmed up)

Ingredients:
1. 1 cup grated zucchini

2. 1 cup peeled and grated apple (or blend into apple sauce) (I used golden delicious, but use any kind you like, or have available to you)

3. 1/2 cup thawed peaches + its liquid(freeze in chunks and leave overnight to thaw in fridge)

4. 1 Tbsp freshly grated lemon peel

5. 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger

6. 1 Tbsp cinnamon powder

7. 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder

8. 1/4 tsp salt

9. 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

10. 1/3-1/2 cup your choice of sweetener: pureed pre-soaked dates (see pic for more info)/cane sugar/coconut sugar/honey/or don’t use any at all if your fruits are sweet enough.

11. 2 cups buckwheat flour (found in European stores or bulk food stores)

12. 2 apples peeled, seeded and chopped into big chunks
13. 1 tsp baking soda (aluminum free) diluted in 2tbsp luke warm water

– Optional: 2 tsp vanilla extract
-Optional: 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
-Optional: 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
-Optional: 1/4 cup raisins/cranberries/ diced dried fruit of your choice

(a little water might be needed if it’s too thick, but nonetheless the fruit juice will keep it moist anyway, but just in case)

Loving Preparation:

-Make sure your oven rack is in the middle of the oven to prevent the top from burning. Depending on the oven you have, will depend on how evenly spread the heat is. Convection oven is best of course.
-Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400degress Fahrenheit (you will turn it down later)

-Grease and flour a 12inch round pan or 9×13 rectangular pan (use pyrex, glass, ceramic, cast iron or stainless steel. Avoid using Aluminum pans all together in your life)

-In a large mixing bowl combine the first 9 ingredients (and vanilla if using). Squeeze by hand, mix with an electric blender or use a spoon if you like pieces to remain

-Add the sugar and flour to the mixture and mix well with a spoon. Then pour the baking soda in and mix well again.

– Fold in the optional ingredients and pour into the prepared pan

-Place the apple chunks in a circle around the cake, gently press them in so they still stick out slightly at the top.
(for an extra crisp on top, sprinkle some cane sugar/coconut sugar just before popping it into the oven)

-Pop it into the oven and turn down the temperature to 175 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit and set the timer for 40min

-Turn the light on in the oven and check to make sure the top is not burning. If it is bring the oven rack down to the bottom of the oven, or cover the top. Careful it’s hot! (oven mitts or thick towels work best here)

-When it’s done remove from oven, leave it in the pan to cool. Don’t worry about setting it on a wire rack. This is a special cake that doesn’t need that. But go ahead if you want to anyway.

Cut into slices, serve with a cup of tea, or coffee and enjoy the smiles that exude from your face, your belly and of others around you that get to taste it too.

Notes:
-For a muffin version: Pour batter into a muffin tray lined with paper muffin cups (about 15 large muffins and 40mini) or grease and flour bare muffin tins/tray.
Bake for 20min on 175C/350F. Once cooled down you can store in an airtight container in the fridge up to a week or freeze and warm up for later in the month/year (if they last). you can also cut them in half and spread coconut butter on them while they are warm. Yummy!

-If you want to get extra fancy you can drizzle maple syrup or your favourite jam warmed up, right before serving it.

– You can also cut the apples into quarters or halves instead of chunks. it gives the cake a whole other dynamic, texture and different experience overall. (IT’S BAKED APPLES IN A CAKE! WOO!)

-Replace the zucchini with 1/2 cup ground flax seed or ground chia seed and 1/4 cup water (leave for 2min in a bowl to thicken before adding it to the mixture)

-Replace any of the fruits with whatever you have available to you. Just remember if you use frozen fruits there will be a lot of liquid so your cake might be extra moist. In this case just add more flour.