2015: Off to a Good Start

new year intentions 15I flip-flop on the value of New Year’s resolutions/intentions. (flip-flops – wow those sounds good right about now.) But I digress…. resolutions – bringing me into the here and now – in the dead of winter. As my fingers freeze at the keyboard, even thought the sun is shining bright outside, I am reminding myself of the value of creating time for reflection, intention setting, and re-orienting myself as I face another wonderful year of opportunity (and challenges).

As a personal trainer in the 90’s, I couldn’t wait for the “resolutes” to roll into the gym. New Year’s meant better business for me and my clients had motivation to fuel more upbeat sessions. I was always amazed though, just how quickly the flames of personal drive flickered and burned out. As I evolved through yoga practice, I came to learn about Ayurveda, the sister lifestyle science of Yoga. I began to understand that, here in the heart of winter, when light and heat is at it’s lowest point, energy stores are low and perhaps New Year’s Day is a really lousy day to make big and lasting changes. Most of us just don’t have the energy it takes to change hard-to-break and engrained habits.

However….

New Year’s Day and early winter is a perfect time to simplify and to make space in your life so that you can reflect on, and clarify, the changes that will add value as well as a sense of inner freedom to your life. I like to use special days, like: holidays, seasons, and astrological markers as “life organization tools.” Having dates or periods that I use to pulse between reflecting, and acting, has helped me to feel more balanced in my life.

I, probably like many of you, have a tendancy to keep pushing forward, only to collapse in a disfunctional heap after I’ve pushed too hard. Yoga and the yogic lifestyle has helped me to cultivate an ability to move forward with greater ease and integrity by honoring my limits and working with them, rather than trying to barrel through them. I now admit that I need rest! I need to carve out time for myself to play… even though a part of me says that I have too much work to do. I need to eat well… even though my tongue tells me otherwise. Etc.

Taking time at the New Year to reflect on my good, and “bad” habits, allows me to reorient myself in a more thoughtful way that encourages longer lasting and more balanced change. Besides… after all the holiday buzz, taking some time to slow down and get clear is a welcome shift.

Today, I’d like to share  a few of my basic lifestyle building blocks to cultivate greater clarity and harmony in the fullness of my being: body, mind, heart, and soul.

HYDRATE!
In the winter months, I start my day with a cup of warm water enhanced with a bit of honey and a squeeze of lemon. This first morning cup is like a little ray of sunshine even before the morning sunlight filters it’s way through the thick cloud cover of a midwest winter morning. Drinking warm water is so much more appealing during these cold days. I remind myself to refresh my cup often (minus the honey – don’t want to overdo the sugar.)

NOURISH
I have reframed the word diet, and even eat, in mind to…. NOURISH! This helps me make healthier and more energizing choices throughout the day. I will not hide the fact though, that if I could, I would just eat chocolate and drink tea all day long!

>>>>>> I’m catching up with my recipes, and just posted three of my favorites to promote cleansing and nourishing….
– KateeO’s Basic Green Juice
– Craving! Bok Choy
– Tangy Tuscan Vegetable & Bean Soup

MOVE
Again, it’s a healthy habit that can be reframed with semantics. We all know we need exercise but sometimes the recommendations are so intimidating that we don’t even start. Exercise science is proving more and more, that just taking the time to move your body often throughout the day is really all the exercise you need. With that great Nike slogan in mind, I say, “just do it” — walk, stretch, twist, dance, lift, push, pull, breathe — just move —- even better to move enough that you feel your heart and lungs getting strong as they move quicker, and your body cleansing itself, releasing toxins through a good, glow-inducing sweat.

BREATHE!
Breathe ended up here at number 4 but it could easily top this list. Breathing well keeps your body, mind, heart, and soul more energized and clear. Breathing well can be encouraged by simply paying attention to your breath pattern often throughout the day. Even better… sit down, close your eyes, focus on your breath, and make some time and space to rest and clear your mind. In the same way that we bathe our bodies daily, our minds benefit from a good cleansing as often as possible.

Check back soon for a breathing and meditation blog to help you in this process.

For now, wishing you all the best for the coming year!

Craving! Bok Choy

basic bok choyMy bok choy cravings began when I was pregnant with my second child. I also craved chicken wings! Chicken wings of all things! I’ve been an off & on again vegetarian my entire life. The only time I have ever enjoyed a chicken wing is when I was pregnant with my little carnivore. I haven’t had a chicken wing since but the bok choy cravings, they stuck around….

I love this recipe! It’s fast, easy, and feels so healthy going down the chute. 

In a saute pan, over med-high heat, add:

  • a drizzle of toasted sesame oil
  • a handful of mushrooms, cut into bite size pieces

Let the mushrooms get warm and cozy. While they sauté, chop the stems of at least two heads of bok choy. This recipe reduces so much – you need to start with a lot. I never make enough. From now on it’s going to be one head of bok choy for each person. 

To the mushrooms, add:

  • the chopped stems and cook down a bit before adding the leaves
  • 1-2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 – 3 Tb. soy sauce
  • a small dash of red chili flake

That’s it! Fast, easy, delicious, and super healthy. Enjoy!

I like the recipe as is, but of course, would work well over a bed of toasty brown rice. I also serve a similar bok choy recipe with rice noodles and ginger peanut sauce.

KateeO’s Basic Green Juice

basic green juiceOne of the best things I did for myself was purchase “that” juicer. It took me about a year and a half to get over the price before I decided to fork it out. But… when I’m feeling down, energy-wise, there is nothing better than this pick me-up. If you don’t have a juicer, but have a blender strong enough for the apples, just blend it up into a smoothie – or strain to remove the pulp if you are looking for a true juice. For this juice – only organic will do for me. It feels like it goes right into my blood stream and I certainly don’t want to be injecting pesticides into my veins.

Into the juicer we go:

  • 1 english cucumber with the skin on and scrubbed very well
  • a half of a head of romaine – or similar “water dense” lettuce
  • several large kale leaves*
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 cored granny smith apple
  • In winter, I may add a knuckle of ginger but skip this in summer for Ayurvedic reasons as it’s a fire spice
  • I may also squeeze some lemon in to the juice after it’s been processed

*If you wrap your kale leaves around your cucumber or celery stalks and really pack it into the chute, you may get a little more juice.

Tangy Tuscan Vegetable & Bean Soup

Tangy Tuscan Vegetable & Bean Soup

 

 

This soup is my perfect antidote to the rich & over-indulgent holiday food kick I’ve been on lately! This soup is light, refreshing, and deeply fortifying. 

 

Into a nice soup pot over medium heat, layer in* the following ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 small diced onion
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced into bite size rounds
  • 3 stalks of celery, sliced into crescents
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 Tb. tomato paste (or a can of diced tomatoes)

*I’m grateful to have learned Rachael Ray’s “chop and drop” time-saving cooking method. Generally I drop ingredients in an order based on which will benefit from the longest cooking times. I like the onions almost melting away – so they always go first. While one ingredient is cooking, chop the next one. Just be sure to keep stirring the pot and add a little stock or water if the veggies start to stick and before they burn.

Once veggies are all in the pot, add:

  • 32 oz. of vegetable stock (you can also just use water to save a few $)
  • 1/2 tsp. to keep it light (add more to taste at the end)
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary** (crumble needles before you drop in)
  • 1/4 tsp. dried chili flakes**

Raise heat and simmer until veggies are soft to your liking. If you are making soup ahead and will serve it later, stop here for now.

So that these ingredients don’t get “mushy” warm the soup jus before serving and add:

  • 2 small zucchini sliced first lengthwise and then across into crescents or half crescents (feel free to add any other veg. here – I was just really craving the light and lively quality of a summer squash;-)
  • 1 can of kidney beans
  • 1 can of white beans

** As a mom of growing children, I believe I can benefit them by helping to “build their palates.” I try to give them the opportunities to become accustomed to many flavors without over-whelming them. If I were making the soup for myself, I would probably add a bit more rosemary and chili flake to warm me up!

Winter was made for wishing. I wish you a clear path toward your heart’s desires in this coming New Year.

 

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