Wednesday, December 24, 2014

From Advent to New Beginnings

Today while at yoga, there was a sense of peace and calm, reflecting on this season that I love - Advent. While born catholic and involved in many capacities over the years in my church community, I have always been more open-minded and not bound by doctrine. And yet, many of the traditions have great meaning for me. Advent, a season of waiting, going deep within to reflect on who we are and our purpose in this life, offers even more meaning this year. Most every evening, I sit by the Christmas tree, admiring the beauty of our decorations adorned on this symbolic tree of life! I recall a few years back when I offered a program at our church call Advent Peace and this was an opportunity to bring buddhist philosophy into the 4 significant weeks of Advent. We sang beautiful hymms, chanted and listened to the sounds of crystal healing bowls. What a pot pourri of holy and spiritual significance. This Christmas is a new beginning for our family and I am excited to start anew with fond memories of past traditions that so richly embellish the fabric of our family. My Mom is at peace, my Dad is with us and my girls and Scott are here to celebrate in our new home. Tammie will be in her reindeer costume, reminding us of how animals touch our lives with joy, laughter and fun. As you close this season and bring in new opportunities, take a moment to reflect on God's many gifts to you and us all! With love, Julie

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Address Book

As I've written my holiday cards this year, I realize that my address book is really out of date - in fact, it is so old, erased and pages torn, that it brought me back in time to years past. My Mom always updated the book for me - something that I did not appreciate as much until this year. To set the stage, I like to take time, sitting by the lit Christmas tree with my tea, writing out my cards, usually with a very brief, but thought-filled message to the person or family. It's more about my memories and gratitude for their being in my life than the update. I've tried a variety of versions - the typed annual letter, the signature only and this year, being in a moment of love and gratitude! I notice as I continue my journey of healing cancer and lyme, that I am drawn inwards so much more - taking time to reflect on my present state of being, feeling so grateful to be alive - to take my ocean walks, to see the holiday lights adorned on many homes and shops, to bake my annual treats to give to those near and dear to me. This year in particular, I've not gotten into the frenzied mode of the never-ending checklist. Instead, I go to yoga more often and have added a meditation class to the mix. While meditation has been on my radar for years, I did not have the desire or discipline to do it - after all, quieting myself would have been an impossibility - or so I thought! It is a discipline and the rewards are great. In only a few weeks, I do notice the calming aspects, the ability to come away seeing life in a more balanced perspective. If I can offer some pearls of wisdom today, they include: Set the stage for being in an environment that fills you with peace and gratitude - sitting by a fire or candle, having your fragrant cup of tea, breathing in peace and love for self and others Add in a ritual of self-reflection or meditation to bring more balance, calm and peace into your life - it will spread to others Reach out to others at this time of year - a holiday card, a phone call, a visit And keep your address book current! In Gratitude, Julie

Saturday, December 13, 2014

From Fruitcakes to Pumpkin Bread

As I wrapped up the pumpkin chocolate chip breads and flourless almond, peanut and peanut chocolate chips cookies to distribute to my colleagues and friends as holiday gifts, I was drawn back to my days as a child and adolescent of baking mini pastries and eventually three dozen fruitcakes. The fruitcake became my signature item, beginning on Thanksgiving weekend preparing and baking them and then brushing them with the finest cognac weekly for four weeks before sending them around the country to my relatives and delivering near and far. I maintained this tradition for years and my older daughter, Lindsay, would help me in the kitchen. One year, I recall having a bad snow storm and needing to get to the post office. I loaded up Lindsay's carriage, which was now used for our dog, Krissy, with all the fruitcake boxes to send and we walked to the post office. Of course, the carriage lost a wheel on the trip, but we made it! Since that time, I have found as hobby as well as part of my mission of healthy eating for all, to take wonderful recipes and to create healthier versions of them, and now with gluten free flours since so many are affected by this very hard to digest and modified protein in wheat. My versions for quickbreads - banana-walnut, punmpkin-chocolate chip and apple-cheese, are wonderful - the taste, texture, crumb - you name it, they pass the "tri-test"! Roll back yet again to college days. We were expected to experiment with ingredients and then use the food lab for testing and this tri-test remains quite vivid in my memory. Height would be measured, the size of the holes in the texture, how it would crumble and then of course, blind-folded taste! I use these general principles without the equipment, to this very day! This year, I have really enjoyed getting back into a few of these traditions that have been disrupted for the past few years - there is something grounding and so positive about holding onto those traditions and memories that fuel our happiness and gratitude and for me, feeding people, sharing love with food, has been a theme throughout my life. Try "breaking bread" with this delicious, yet nutritious Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread - I am perfecting the Paleo version as we speak! With love, Julie PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD 1 1/4 CUPS GF FLOUR MIX 2 TBL OIL 1/2 CUP BENEFIBER 3 TBL UNSWEETENED APPLESAUCE 2 TSP BAKING POWDER 2 TBL SUGAR 1 TSP XANTHAN GUM 2 EGGS 1/2 TSP SALT 1 TSP VANILLA 1/4 TSP BAKING SODA 1 CUP CANNED OR STRAINED MASHED PUMPKIN 1 TSP CINNAMON ¼ CUP CHOCOLATE CHIPS 1) OVEN 350 2) STIR DRY INGREDIENTS TOGETHER 3) BEAT OIL, APPLESAUCE AND SUGAR. ADD EGGS AND VANILLA. BEAT WELL 4) ADD FLOUR MIX ALTERNATELY WITH PUMPKIN, BEGINNING AND ENDING WITH FLOUR 5) MIX UNTIL COMBINED. ADD CHOCOLATE CHIPS. DO NOT OVERBEAT 6) POUR INTO GREASED 9X5X2 LOAF PAN AND BAKE 60-70 OR UNTIL TESTER COMES OUT CLEAN YIELD – 12 SLICES EACH SLICE: 125 KCAL; 30 GM CARB; 4 GM FIBER; 5 GM SUGAR

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Gray Days and Sunday

Here I am, sitting and contemplating what to write about. There's just so much! My recent passion and initiative to grow the organic/non-GMO market here in Boston, or the inspirational documentaries that I have viewed these past few days. Let me first set the stage - most of the holiday decorations are up - just waiting to trim the tree with Ashley after her finals next week. I love the enchanted feeling and view of years of memories, starting with putting out some of my most cherished ornaments with Mom when I was little. Each ornament that we have symbolizes a time, an era, something to feel grateful for. As I write this reflection, I feel a sense of peace, and an inward and outward smile. I find that I am drawn to documentaries more than regular television, except for my "guilty pleasure", or not so guilty, of watching The Voice! I decided to watch Origins the other evening and this was so beautifully done, both in photography and story-line. The message was loud and clear about being in a time where we have so much available to us and yet we are at a crossroads of using this technology for personal, short-term and monetary gain OR are we looking at revering the earth and its gifts, listening to nature and using intention for preserving "all that is"? The film took us to Africa and showed a group of individuals learning to co-habit amongst wild animals, the brush, food and shelter of the earth. The key was man's learning to create and use fire - the first technology. Speed ahead to today and we have smoke, fire, pollution - all of which is leading us toward self-destruction and that of the planet. That fire is even shown within the microcosm of the human body - a mini reflection of the world outside! We are on fire and the diseases of our generation are all about inflammation. How can we change our trajectory? While easy and not so easy, it takes being conscious - slowing down to go deep within and ask oneself what they need and truly desire. Once in this relaxed yet conscicous state, we are open to learning, understanding and being able to take the initial steps towards health and wholeness for ourselves and the world at large. For those of you who read my blog about "I Don't Care", this is truly revolutionary for me because while I have been committed to healing people through nutritional, emotional and spiritual therapies for years, a large part of me lived in fear of the "big, bad world" - a concept handed down from my folks and likely generations before that. I now see the world as abundance, gifts to be discovered, used with reverence and to be protected for lifetimes to come. Take some time to watch this amazing show - link attached - and if you need popcorn to entice you and your family, be sure it is organic and non-GMO! Peace, Julie