Bursting with Flavour Red Beet Salad and…..A Surprise recipe!

Bursting with Flavour Red Beet Salad

Ever wonder how you can eat raw beets and enjoy them too? This is the recipe for you!
(Serves 1-2 depending on one’s appetite)

Salad Ingredients:
-1 medium beet peeled and grated
-1 handful fresh herbs finely chopped (I used parsley and cilantro, others include: basil, dill, mint and/or 1 tbsp freshly chopped thyme, oregano and rosemary)
-1 tsp dulse flakes (or any other seaweed you like)
-1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (I used Austrian Styrian Gold, dark green seeds)
-1/2 cup broccoli chopped and blanched in hot water 1min (stems and florets)
-2 handfuls of 1 or mixed sprouts chopped (Sunflower, snow pea shoots, alfalfa or broccoli, lentil, mung bean sprouts

Dressing Ingredients:
-juice of 1 lime freshly squeezed
-1 tbsp fresh papaya seeds
-2 tbsp of olive oil or 1/2 an avocado or 2 tbsp of tahini
-1 clove garlic
-1 inch piece of ginger

Loving Preparation:
-Combine all the Salad ingredients together in a bowl
-Blend all the dressing ingredients until creamy and pour into the salad
-Mix the dressing and salad really well squeezing lightly to encourage the beet juices to release
-Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top, extra sprouts, and decorate with a parsley leaf, slices of avocado, or whatever you like
-Serve as a meal, as a side dish or in a raw wrap (I used Swiss Chard for the wrap, you can also use collard greens, large kale leaves, cabbage or thick lettuce leaf)

Image

Note: This recipe is excellent for making a raw or cooked soup! Just add water and blend to make it creamy or leave it chunky or half and half! Yummy!

Image

Perfect Holiday Wrap! Very festive eh?

Ocean Lentils

Ingredients:
-1 cup sprouted lentils cooked or raw (I used cooked)
-1-2 tsp dulse flakes (or any other seaweed you like)
-1 handful fresh parsley chopped loosely or finely
Optional: add freshly grated ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, chilli, curry, cumin, or whatever else you like in your legumes

Loving Preparation
-Combine all the ingredients together and serve as a protein dish, add to a salad, into a wrap (As the one shown here), veggie dish, soup, or mash up into a dip,

Note: the wrap pictured here includes both of these recipes combined into one. Yummy, filling, nutrient dense and easily digestible. And most importantly aesthetically appealing!

 

Image

Before being mixed, so you get a very clear visual of the ingredients! Tastes like yum!

Advertisements

Super Creamy Smoothies (and lots of FYI for fun)

Everyday after the gym in Quito, I’ve been whipping up a super creamy, nourishing, tasty smoothie. Before I get into these scrumptious nourishing recipes (located at the end of this blog), I’d like to share a few health facts and FYI that I’ve learnt about and experimented with over the past few years.

The oils I find here in Ecuador, are not the highest quality so I’d rather use local, fresh and very high quality fat: Avocado! Bonus: avocados are cheap and filling! They replenish my fats, proteins, other nutrients I require, while adding incredible texture and flavour to all my smoothies.

I do my best not to mix fruits with fats, so I use avocado, which is a fruit with natural fats. I try to have one or the other, although sometimes I will use both fats and fruits together, out of habit, seeking for taste and texture, but I suffer later from the food combination (gas, bloating). I don’t do this too often anymore, as I remember eating nuts and raisins, sweets after a heavy meal (which always had some sort of fat present, whether oil, butter, nuts, seeds, meat, etc.), and overloading on raw desserts (recently in the past 2 years), daily for years, and I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel so energized afterwards. Now I replace dressings, sauces and oils with avocado when I want to add flavour, texture, volume and fat to my meals and because it’s light, I can wait 20-30min before having my dessert and not suffering the food combining consequences. Yay compromising balance!

Did you know that young coconut water used to be injected intravenously into human veins, instead of whatever saline solution that is being used now in hospitals? Coconut water is almost equivalent to the human plasma and we are made up of 70-90% water. Doesn’t it make sense to ingest that which is like our blood and thus will nourish our blood? Water is drawn up from the depths of the Earth, into the roots, trunk, branches and ultimately into a shell that contains this healing liquid. Now that’s what I call nourishment from Mother Nature!
The water of the young coconuts, when they are less sweet, more mineral dense and have more water in them are ready for consumption as long as they having been growing on the tree for at least 1 year. The harder, dark brown coconuts are the older, more sweet, more coconut meat (which we cannot digest properly) and less water, and are often more readily available in stores than the young coconuts.

Sun charged food is extremely beneficial and essential for our health and optimal functioning of our body, mind, spirit and therefore our overall life in general. Without the sun, that which grows, could not grow and would be in darkness.
Studies have shown the phenomenal differences between areas in the world that have an abundance, a lack of and an absence of sunlight. It’s quite astonishing the differences in health, happiness and overall lifestyle function of all these beings. As well as the lack of vitamin D2, which we get for free from exposure to the sun’s rays, can cause incredible health problems as well. So soak up in the sun whenever possible, obviously when the UV rays are not too strong.

Studies have also shown that sun gazing (sunrise and sunset are the best and easiest to stare at for long periods of time), aids the functioning and helps heal the pineal gland, vision, health and many parts of the whole eye mechanism. I sun gaze when I remember to and when the sun is not too high up. I used to do it daily for 2 years so I can attest to the proof. My eye site got better sun gazing, combined with more raw food eating, more bare foot walking on Earth, eye exercises and less time staring at electronics. But now of course I spend a lot of time on the computer and it depends where in the world I am and the time of day, when I remember to look up. I do my best to expose myself, my skin and my food daily to the sun, wherever I am, as often as I remember, choosing to walk or cycle rather than take a taxi or bus, if the distance is under 30min, just to soak up the incredible healing medicine freely available, daily! Check out this article with videos about safe sungazing, earthing and sun charging. http://yogikanna.com/sungazing/

Aloe vera comes from a cactus plant and is usually drunk like a juice. The quality of aloe vera on the market is very variable – If it’s purchased in a bottle and tastes like water it probably is. Nothing is better than fresh Aloe which is a truly amazing plant. Do your best to get fresh whole aloe vera leaves, often found at Asian super markets or China Town, South American stores, or you can purchase the plants and have them in your garden or inside your home. Youtube “how to obtain the gel of an aloe vera leaf” (there’s a very efficient practical way to getting inside the leaf without hurting yourself on the side spikes).

The best and most potent, medicinal and nutrient dense aloe gel for ingesting is that of the really big, older leaves. Aloe Vera is opposite to coconuts, since coconut water is best when they are younger. Aloe Vera is very popular in Asia and South America, where it grows abundantly outside of the crowded material dense cities. Usually in mountainous or jungle areas. Since it is a cactus it doesn’t need a constant supply of water, but definitely can shrivel and die if it’s exposed only to the sun and no water. It helps aid in soothing inflammation of anything, digestion problems, constipation, ulcers, stomach and colon problems, skin and scalp problems, genital itchiness and irritation and of course there are so many other healing properties. Research more if you’re curious. Make sure to consume only the gel part of the leaf, not the green part (which is very bitter and not used for ingestion). Rub your skin and face with the inside of the skin when you are done getting all the gel. Make use of it to its fullest!

So all the recipes shown here contain ingredients that relate to the above information. Remember we absorb the energy not just the nutrients of the food. If I am in a rush, my body may not actually absorb, assimilate or even process any of the food. My energy would be focused in my mind of where I have to go or what I have to do, rather than focusing in the present moment of obtaining, enjoying and being with the whole experience of my meal, thus making the nutrients more easily transportable to my cells and entire being. I am what I eat after all! So I do my best not only to consume the best quality products, but to remain in the moment with them and benefit from the whole experience. “Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” (Hippocrates) This also pertains to the way we consume and ingest the medicine, not just put it into us.

If you cannot find a fresh young coconut, replace the coconut water with the best quality water you can find, put it in a glass jar and leave it in the sun light outside for minimum 20min and add a little more lime juice to the recipe.

Did you know that fresh citrus fruit juices like lemon and lime are acidic before they enter the stomach? Once they enter the stomach they transform into an alkaline substance. This is why it is recommended to have lemon/lime juice with lukewarm water when you wake up in the morning or before meals (especially acidic meals). It helps aid the functioning of the alkalization of our bodies, which we need after all the repairing of our acidic bodies in the night time. Hence why it is recommended not to eat at least 2 hrs before bed and definitely nothing heavy like meat or cake. All the energy will be focused on digesting (which is minimal during sleep anyway) instead of repairing the body as required for optimal functioning. And the result will be waking up with undigested food, and the toxins from the lack of digestion going into the blood stream. AH!

Super Nourishing Creamy Smoothies:

1. Super Good For Me In Every Way Smoothie

Ingredients:
-2 cups of coconut water
-2-4 Tbsp of fresh aloe vera gel
-the juice of one lime (or a little more if not using coconut water)
-1 heaping tbsp of your favourite green powder (I used alfalfa and chlorella tablets)
-1/2 of a medium avocado or 1 whole small avocado

Loving Preparation:
-In a blender combine all of the ingredients until smooth and creamy. Do not over blend and do not let it heat up!
-Serve immediately in the nicest glass you have. You deserve the best.
-Decorate with a slice of lime, avocado or a flower of your choice

Image

Giddy Yoyo is my favourite High Quality Superfood Company based out of Canada!

2. Super Good For Me In Every Way Smoothie with Goji Berries
This is the exact same recipe as #1 but with 1-2 tbsp of goji berries (presoak for 20min in 1/2 cup of the coconut water being used and include the water in the recipe)
-Decorate with goji berries, a mint leaf, flower, or whatever you like!

Image

No surprise, these are Giddy Yoyo’s raw wildcrafted Goji Berries! Yummy! and no chlorella, so the red shows more!

 

3. So Good For My Body Creamy Mango Smoothie
(you can replace the mango with any other sweet juicy fruit, but use organic whenever possible and only use one fruit, try not to mix fruits and use local and seasonal whenever possible)

Ingredients:
-1 cup coconut water
-1 mango
-1 tbsp of your favourite green powder (I used Alfalfa powder)
-1/4 tsp fresh vanilla bean powder (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
-2-4 Tbsp of fresh aloe vera gel (gel of about 1/4-1/3 of a medium sized aloe vera
leaf) (Put more in if you suffer from stomach problems: see note above for info)
-fresh juice of 1 small lime or a little more if you are not using coconut water.
Optional:1/2-1 tsp freshly minced ginger or 1/4 tsp ginger powder (depending on how gingery you like it) For a little spice, add a dash of chilli or cayenne pepper.

Loving Preparation:
-In a blender combine all of the ingredients, until smooth and creamy. Do not over blend and definitely do not let it heat up.
-Serve in the nicest glass you have. You deserve the best afterall!
-Decorate with a mint leaf, lime wedge, flower, or whatever you like

Image

Depending on how much Green Powder you add will depend on the colour of the final result

4. So Good For My Body Creamy Mango Green Smoothie
This is the exact same recipe as #3 but add a handful of parsley and/or spinach leaves

 

image

Concrete Jungle part 2: My yoga practice, what happened?

I loved this quote, which was actually the catalyst for this blog post today. It helped me understand where I was misguided and where I misunderstood my own reality of my yoga practice. ” As a result of yoga or sustained, focused attention, the Self or Seer is firmly established in its own form, and we act from a place from our own true, authentic Self. (Yoga Sutra 1.3 Patanjali) No wonder I was “lost”, I wasn’t being authentic Doris.

The author of the article elaborated on this, “In other words, by focusing and refining the mind through yoga, you gain clearer perception and learn to distinguish the mind, body and emotions from your true essence or Self. You come to know that Self and act from that place of the Self, thus reducing your experience of suffering. How is it that yoga can be such a powerful support, even when the body is not able to do asana practice or even to sit to do certain breathing practices? First and foremost, yoga is for the mind, not the body. (Though asana and other practices involving the body can be a useful way to influence and refine the mind, and the body can certainly benefit).

That’s it! I was doing it solely for my body, missing the whole point. No wonder I lost myself in what I thought came so naturally to me!

“Patanjali lists nine potential obstacles in the next sutra, beginning with illness or disease, but tells us that they need be obstacles for us only if the mind is disturbed. If we connect with the Self, we are less likely to be disturbed and will therefore suffer less.”

I created my own obstacles with my mind and used my yoga practice as a distraction from my mind, but it was with me the whole time and I often found myself thinking during my practice, the opposite of my goal. I was hoping each practice to get out of my head and remain present. Of course I sent out the wrong message so my perception became my projection. Ha! Silly Doris, “Tricks are for kids!”

So only after reading this article it dawned on me, “I’ve only been doing yoga mostly for my body”. So I’ve been missing the whole point! I already knew this from the beginning of my yoga practice, but somewhere in these past 5 years of practice I forgot all this and focused on yoga for my body, using other tools separately for my mind and spirit. Ha! I’m laughing right now at myself and at this whole story. It’s just a story after all, a self created story. But of course when the student is ready the teacher appears and it came for me through a 2 week experience in the jungle and then a little broadening of that lesson through this article, in the most perfect place possible for me right now! HA! For many this may even be a surprise, but I have come to realize that even cities are part of Mother Nature, and the people in them help create the foundation and the reality and perception is of individuality. I love growing up and realizing things from a different angle. I love that I’m not attached to any one outcome, but there was something missing in this whole journey and I only started doing it again. Setting goals!

This stage of my life is part of my fine tuning, adjusting my way of being, so that i show up authentically to myself, do what i say and practice what i share and advice to others. I haven’t done this in a while and I am now understanding the potency and necessity of setting goals.

I choose to use these12 days in the city to really focus on my goals with intention, purpose, and do it because it feels right and necessary to accomplish for my enhancement and development. Since starting the gym these past couple of days, my perspective on a lot of things has changed. I feel more in my alignment. I’m just letting the day evolve as it does and observe myself, be with changes, at the same time cultivate spaciousness, equanimity, emptiness, awareness, clearness and observe it all as it happens without expectations, attachments and definitely remaining open to the mystery that unfolds.

Super Nutritious Creamy Green Salad with a Crunch!

20131226-172317.jpg

What do pumpkin seeds, avocado, sprouted lentils, broccoli, herbs like parsley and cilantro and seaweed have in common?
They are Green, loaded with essential nutrients and are a perfect combo for a tasty filling meal or an addition to any meal.

Since this meal has no grains, sweetness or animal products and is mostly raw, enzyme, mineral and nutrient dense, it’s easily digestible and energy boosting!

(serves 1 or 2, depending on one’s appetite)

Ingredients:
-1/2-1 cup of one or a mix of sprouts: lentils, mung beans or any other sprout you like (I used sprouted lentils) (see note on how to sprout at the bottom of this recipe)
-1 cup broccoli florets cut into bite size pieces (blanched in hot water for 2min) (easier to digest and chew)
-1 lime freshly squeezed
-1 medium avocado mashed
-1-2 cloves garlic minced (depending on how garlicky you like it)
-1-2 tbsp of dried seaweed soaked and cut into small pieces or 1tsp seaweed flakes (I used dulse flakes) (you can use nori, kelp, wakame or any other seaweed)
-1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
Optional: 1-2 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs (cilantro and/or parsley)
For spicy add chilli or cayenne pepper as needed.

Loving Preparation:
-In a bowl mash together the avocado, lime juice, and garlic.
-Add the rest of the ingredients (except the pumpkin seeds) and toss together until everything is evenly combined.
-Before serving, sprinkle the pumpkin seeds on top, extra seaweed flakes, a few sprouts, and a couple of parsley leaves for decoration.
Bon Provecho!

Note: To sprout any legume or seed it must be soaked in water for 4-8 hrs (depending on the size) (research online for more info and exact soaking duration)
Either soak and sprout in a glass/ceramic bowl or a glass jar with a mesh top (sold at health stores or on the internet). Rinse and strain, then leave in your container/jar, rinsing twice/day until little tails grow. I like my sprout tails really long so I sprout up to 5days. Depending on the room temperature (more hot and humid climates will sprout faster, colder will sprout slower). When they have sprouted to your preference, store in the fridge and use within 3-5days, depending on your fridge system. Some fridges cause food to stay fresher longer than others. There are products like “Berry Breeze” which helps to maintain freshness up to double the original time of expiration.

Note: Seaweed is naturally salty, but if you feel you need more saltiness, add celtic salt as needed. Iodized Table salt is like poison, Himalayan salt can have traces of lead and sea salt can have traces of whatever residue Fukushima has caused in the oceans. Read labels carefully and only buy and use salt from trusted sources (ideally you could do the same with all your food items)

Note: To make this even more green, algae(seaweed) and nutrient dense add 1/2-1 tsp Spirulina or Chlorella powder to the mash or sprinkle on top. Green powders require an acquired taste to be able to not just gain the health benefits of the meal, but to actually enjoy the meal too!

Note: Pumpkin seeds are one of the top foods for high amounts of zinc. The best pumpkin seeds available on the market now are from Austria. I use the ones from http://www.styriangold.ca (for Canadians) and http://www.styriangold.com (for the rest of the world) They make a fantastic raw nutrient dense, flavourful pumpkin seed oil as well. Their seeds are naturally grown without shells so they are super dark green, naturally large in size, easy to digest and full of flavour.

Variations:

For an Oriental twist to this meal, substitute or add 1tsp of LIGHTLY toasted sesame seeds (they are a good source of CALCIUM) or drizzle ORGANIC toasted sesame seed oil. If you are a big mushroom fan as I am, add your favourite cooked mushrooms to this recipe too! Shiitake or oyster mushrooms are most commonly used in Oriental cooking. Lightly sauté on a low flame in coconut oil or on a high flame for 7-8min. (Mushrooms have to be cooked or marinated 24hrs in citrus juice to be digestible) Another Oriental addition could be to add 1/2 tsp freshly minced ginger or 1/4 tsp ginger powder.

For a Middle Eastern twist, substitute the avocado with 2 tbsp tahini (aka sesame seed butter) and 1 tbsp olive oil. If it’s too thick add a little bit of water. Another addition would be to add 1/2 -1 tsp Zaatar (Israel’s national spice).

For an Indian twist, sprinkle a little bit of curry powder into the mash before adding the rest of the ingredients.

For a Japanese twist, add 1tsp miso to the mash and omit some seaweed if it’s too salty or add more veggies to help dilute the saltiness.

For an Italian twist, substitute the parsley and/or cilantro with 1/2 tsp mixed dried herbs or 1 tsp fresh, into the mash (rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano)

Get creative and try different variations of different spices, herbs, veggies, sprouts, seaweeds, healthy unsaturated fats (seeds, soaked nuts, oils, fresh coconut, different kinds of avocados, etc. but make sure they are not processed, non transfats, non hydrogenated and of the best quality, extra virgin and cold pressed when possible.

This is a perfect meal for someone already on or to introduce someone to a high protein, vegan, nutrient dense diet.

Concrete Jungle Part 1: I’m loving the city again, but what about my yoga practice?

After craving a little structure in the jungle, sitting on my butt most of the time, I made my way to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. What better way to structurize myself than be in the physical environment itself.

This is my first time being in a capital city without pre notions, pretences, or labels of “good, bad, right, wrong”. I decided it was a waste of time and energy and a sure set up for disappointment if I compared it to that of a “relaxing, calm, nonpolluted” jungle, mountain or beach). I wasn’t seeking for much relaxation in the first place, I had plenty of that in the jungle. It’s no surprise I attracted that which I called in as well as whatever other surprises the Universe had cooking up for me without my forcing. I knew it would be good, but how good, that’s always the mystery I enjoy unfolding to.

I checked out http://www.airbnb.com, a website that helps you find a place to rent, whether it be a house or apartment, etc. Literally, at the last minute I found a delightful, spacious, quiet, private apartment in the exact area I desired to be in. It even has security. The only thing it doesn’t have is a refrigerator and no wifi. The refrigerator I can live without because I rarely use things that are perishable, or I consume them within 2 days anyway (like a half opened avocado). I prefer fresh anyway. The absence of wifi is a blessing to be. I’m actually happy about this because I can spend hours a day on the internet easily when it’s available. I’d rather spend my time in other more useful ways than being on the net, chatting, researching, or whatever else the internet provides. 10min is easily an hr and after 5-7hrs I’m like “Wo, where did the time go? How much did I get done? What did I do that was actually productive?”

I arrived to Quito with the intention to go to the gym and get back into my fit, toned, “healthy” self. I am kinda putting my yoga on hold for now because of this story I created: “I prefer to do yoga in groups or be guided rather than guide myself when I’m on the mat, particularly since it’s so easy for me to focus on stretching rather than strengthening. I’m ok with this for now. It is only temporary I know because I know how much I love yoga. Something doesn’t feel completely in harmony with my perspective of my yoga practice and until I feel more in alignment with myself and my practice I won’t practice. I’m missing something.” I know the answer was coming soon. I felt it literally in my entire being. And yesterday was the day I figured it out! When one is ready the messenger appears and I was ready to not just hear it, but listen and follow through as well. Here’s how it happened:

The city is a little polluted (not as much as I remember it to be years before, especially for holiday season) so I prefer to do my cardio workout indoors anyway, although I do love the 20min walk in the morning to the gym. It’s a pre warmup. The machines are boring, duh! But I like to “feed two birds with one seed” (so to say), I brought some reading material with me, which helped make the time go by faster and I caught up on some reading. The “Yoga Journal” is a magazine a friend of mine gave me before I left to Ecuador. I used it to prepare me more in depth for the rawfood yoga retreat I was the yoga teacher for in the mornings (To see pictures from the retreat visit http://www.betterraw.com/p/retreating.html). I really enjoyed reading the magazines, them but I didn’t finish.

Read the next blog to find out more. Patanjali is a great teacher and his quotes have helped me figure out my misguidance and misunderstanding of my yoga practice…

The jungle part 2: The Local Village Fiesta!

In the village the children put on a little performance, singing and dancing, wearing the costumes from years ago made from beans and coconut shells. They put on a beauty pageant which surprised me and it was as awkward to me as it was to Elizabeth, but I admit it was beautiful to watch. I’ve always enjoyed watching makeovers. To see some of the girls get all dressed up in doll like dresses and make up was fun and brought a tear to my eye, especially after witnessing them playing in the dirt and throwing bugs and their dirty little hands on me (which I didn’t mind, I rather enjoy getting my hands dirty “local” style too). I was one of the judges. Their native dress, modern dress and answers to questions in both Spanish and Quechua (Kichwa) were scored. It was amazing how most of the girls had very little knowledge of their Native tongue Quechua. I observed the faces of their disappointed parents, but smiled nonetheless to encourage them to go on and try.

The food was quite extensive and what seemed like enough for 2 villages. I only ate the yucca (aka cassava or poor man’s potato), to show my form of respect for their culture. They had roasted chicken, roasted cow (which was actually the cow they caught in the river), yucca, plantain (platano), shredded iceberg lettuce, chicken soup, rice and beans. For a village of 100 people, very little income, but loads of laughter and love, this meal to me resembled a meal for royalty.

Earlier in the morning when I went to check to see if they started the fiesta, I was stunned to find 30 members of the community gathered by the edge of the river. The cow that was floating in the river, was like a gift from God for the holidays. 2 men had their mesheties and 2 knives, standing over the carcass with it cut in half and organs splayed out for the taking. Children gathered and their neutral facial expressions showed me that this was something that was normal in the community and in my opinion was actually good for their education, to know where their food comes from and what it looks like before it’s prepared, cooked and ingested. Unlike in the West, there’s not much secrecy about the primative life in the villages. They are more ignorant and unaware of what goes into their vaccinations, packaged food, additives, candy, toiletries, even the perfume on their toilet paper, cleaning agents, etc. So I stood with them for about 15min, watching them and the dissection of their future meals in fascination. I had seen the cadavers of humans (when studying to be a massage therapist in Canada), but I had never seen a cow carcass freshly opened.

When I saw the grass contents in the stomach bulging out, I said, in Spanish of course “the best part of the cow. The most nutrition and the easiest to digest”. They laughed as some were aware of me not being a carnivore. One of the butchers was making jokes as he held up each organ “liver $3, flesh $7.50/lb, intestines $2”, etc. And everyone just laughed.

When I saw the beef on the grill wrapped in banana leafs at lunch time, they said “meat” and I made a joke “meat from the river, the gift for the holidays”. They laughed hysterically, amused by my sense of humour and understanding of the Native culture. I’m not one of those naive foreigners who enters a village and starts pointing out the “good, bad, right, wrong”. Personally, I think it’s inappropriate to enter a foreign territory and start to point fingers and tell the locals what they’re doing is right or wrong. I’m a visitor, invited to their fiesta on their holiday, I’m not an intruder coming to change their ways in any shape or way. I may have said “stop throwing that or pushing her” to some of the naughty misbehaving boys, but I dare not judge them. I was rather grateful they welcomed me into their community.

I was touched most of all by the way the kids took a liking to me and literally were hanging off me and bringing me flowers, leaves, bugs, touching me and playing with me. I felt like a child myself and even joined in tumbling and summersaulting with them, doing some backbends and even sang with them.

They loved the treats the women and I had prepared for them into little gift baggies. With one baggy left we had a contest. Whoever picked up the most garbage around the village would win the last bag of sweet treats. Of course a prize, especially a prize of sweets is almost always an incentive and a sure way to get just about any chore done.

I left after 3-4 hrs in the hot humid village and made my way back to my room which was literally next door, a short walk through the jungle along the edge of the river. I had a smile on my face for a long time as I rested peacefully, before retiring for the night.

Jungle in Ecuador Part 1: Finally peace, quiet and nature galore!

From Dec 7-Dec 21st I sat in the depths of the jungle of Misahualli, just outside of the of the city of Tena, in the East of Ecuador. I had plenty of time to reflect on my 1 month journey in Vilcabamba.

After spending a month in Southern Ecuador in Vilcabamba, a little town outside of Loja, it’s size made up for by its high energetical potency, where I cofacilitated my first retreat, I made my way to the East to the jungles. To see info and pictures from the rawfood yoga retreat please visit http://www.betterraw.com/p/retreating.html

As usual, I manifested what I asked for and more than I could imagine (of course). A fellow Canadian, Elizabeth, owns a special spot on the edge of the Napo River. Just a 5min canoe ride from the center town of Misahualli, her lodge overlooks a fabulous view of the river, surrounded by nature galore! Cacao trees galore and quiet galore!

I was in a peaceful haven. The days were filled with vivid colours, with bright clear blue skies, and ever rich, lush green of the depths of the jungle trees and plants.

I felt blessed to have that place all to myself, with little time to spend with Elizabeth herself, but plenty of time to be with myself.

Being with oneself, now there’s a whole can of “WOW!” to open up. I had plenty of time these past 2 weeks to be alone, to listen and just be. I even read my first book in a year, a 700 page novel that takes place in Egypt, with royalty, battles and romance. Wilbur Smith’s “River God” had me sitting at the edge of my seat daily for hours, anxious to turn the next page. I haven’t read a “can’t put down” kind of book in 5 years since I read the 1000 page bestseller “Shantaram”, in Thailand (Also in 2 weeks). I didn’t feel like an educational, spiritual book, the kind I usually read. I felt like a thriller, romance, alive and happening kind of book! A story without much thought needed. To get taken into the hearts of other characters’ lives and see them vividly in my mind… Now that’s all I desired these past 2 weeks!

In River of God, the author describes the battles in depth, including the way both animals and humans were killed. It past quickly so my mind didn’t dwell on the image of a dead carcass. The detail of the weather changed, from strong fierce storms to dry deserts with intense sun, made it ever so intriguing to imagine Egypt and its people traveling by different forms of transport in the desert and by sea. I finished the book the night before I left.

It’s rainy season in Ecuador, especially in the jungles, and the second last night was the first mild storm that has taken place. When I woke up that morning, all electricity in the community/villages, was out. The river was 2 meters higher and it was flowing strong! Huge branches and tree trunks floated over the river at intense speed and at some point a dead cow passed by as well.

My last day was an exciting day in the local village’s school. It’s Holiday Fiesta Time! Elizabeth makes donations each year and this time she asked me to make some “healthy” homemade treats. I had a blast connecting with the local Native women in the kitchen a coupe of days before. As we gathered around the stove preparing 3 different sweet treats, I demonstrated to them how to make sesame snaps using their local sugar, popcorn balls, and raw chocolate balls using Elizabeth’s cacao. I felt the sacredness in the unifying bond between us women, something that has been apart of history since the beginning of humanity. Women in the kitchen is a sacred art of bonding, in a way that no man and woman can bond. It’s a special feminine energy that spirals between us as we gossip, mix, roll and laugh. I speak a little spanish and understand more than I speak, but the women spoke their native tongue, Quechua (Kichwa). I felt the strength in our connection nonetheless even without understanding the language. I was there to inspire and teach and thus my job was accomplished. But I got that little extra bonus, which to me is the best energy exchange ever.

Read on to find out what happened in the village… South America jungle meets North American concrete jungle style. It was puzzling, entertaining and something didn’t feel balanced.