Capturing Your Essence: Asian Superfood Soup

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Continuing to channel the good juju cultivated during my stay in Asia, I’ve created another Asian dish. Superfood veggies such as red cabbage, chard, and kale make up the bulk of this soup. Dried black fungi are a cancer-fighting superfood well-known in Chinese Medicine. Fermented Miso gives a little protein, satisfying umami taste, and healthy probiotics. Avocado and toasted sesame oil add omega-3 fats for a happy brain, and a whole egg adds additional satisfying protein and choline for brain health.

You’ll need:

1 cup dried black fungi (find at Asian market)
1 egg
2 cups-ish Swiss chard, chopped
1 cup-ish Kale, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 avocado
4 tbsp miso
1.5 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil

Bring water to a boil, add chopped veggies (including dried black fungi) and let veggies cook until tender.

Add egg, allow to boil until egg looks cooked through (can leave whole or break it up in pieces).

Turn stove off. Add miso and sesame oil to pot and stir. Serve in bowls, add avocado to top of soup.

To your health! 🙂

Beach Girl @Home: Happy Holidays!

It’s hard to believe three years have passed since my last California Christmas (or Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, or Fourth of July for that matter).

I’d read somewhere in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras that in order to succeed ‘out there’ in the world, one must begin at home.  One must learn how to communicate, keep peace, and understand others in the structure of their own family, to the best of their ability. This home practice in turn, allows one to then appropriately ‘deal’ with the ‘outside world’. Coming home to celebrating the most LOVING and KIND Holiday full of LAUGHTER and PEACE, in my life, is a true testament to the aforementioned blurb read in Patanjali’s ‘Rules’.

It’s been extraordinarily special moving home just in time for the Holidays as a newfound closeness with my Mom and Stepdad (whom I consider as my ‘Dad’) has developed. Through the ups and downs of travel, feelings I’d stuffed down emerged via Skype, text, e-mail, you name it. What can I say ? Distance makes the heart grow fonder, closer,…and braver.

Background: I didn’t have the most peaceful upbringing, and refuse to believe any family is ‘normal’. However, I know mine was anything but. Childhood was, most times, NOT peaceful, always moving around (ten schools by ninth grade), hardly a routine, a sibling who demanded our parents’ attention (albeit negative), a nasty divorce and bankruptcy, plus loads of yelling, especially during Holidays. Can you imagine chaos?

Our Holiday situations always left me wishing it was a random day in March opposed to the ‘Most Wonderful Time of the Year’. Luckily, things have changed around here. The people causing the drama are now more or less settled down or out of the picture; us few remaining are calming down. At the age of twenty-six, I’m living in a home with a Mom and a Dad opposed to a single-parent home for the first time. Yes, I’d lived at my Stepdad’s for a year prior to Asia, but this time is different. Over the past few years being away, he’s actually become my Dad. And with this shift comes a deep look at my inner self–the peace, the stability, the warmth, the LOVE, has allowed me to slow down, observe that the tendency to be quite the reactive human being opposed to responsive, runs deep in my veins as a samskara (Sanskrit for ‘habit pattern of the mind’) which needs to be broken. It’s time to change. Christmas was a symbol of all this change. Just a family having FUN. I’m taking deep breaths and thinking before I respond. Respecting eachother. Loving Life. Slightly normal! Whatever that silly word means.

On Christmas Eve’s Eve morning (does that make sense?), Dad was in a silly mood and said, “oh, Elisa, you have Gypsy Feet, you’ll be off again soon enough, dancing around with your Buddha Bells, singing ‘ding ding ding, om, om, om“, along with a little dance of his own.

Later on in the day, still laughing at his comment and inspired by another friend and blogger, Megan at Across the Pond, the idea for a Christmas-India-Yoga-fusion video came about. We got down and boogied, throwing caution to the wind in lieu of some major ham-mage in front of the MacBook Pro camera. Each time I replay the video, a bit more gratitude for my Mom and Dad, their youthful spirits, their love and support, washes over me. Grateful to be home this Christmas, at my roots, so that in Christmas future I can bring this positive experience to perhaps my own family.  Or at least be able to bring it ‘out there’, to paraphrase Patanjali.

To be your best ‘out there’ in the world, why not be your best at home? Just like our yoga practice, which we practice again and again, why not practice keeping peace within the structure of our own family?

P.S. I’m dreaming of dancing again in Southeast Asia. Although, not for a while. Here’s to Dreaming, keeping the Gypsy Feet at on the Ground, and Accepting the Love.

Ding, ding, ding, om, om, om 😉

P.S.S. Want to know about my Christmases past?

Two years ago, I hopped on a plane last-minute from the depths of Winter in Seoul, South Korea to appreciate Christmas and ring in 2011 hippie-style. Relaxing, rejuve-ing, yoga, Thai Massage, a 5 day detox, and an all-night NYE jungle party ensued at Sanctuary Thailand, where the jungle meets the ocean on a secluded Koh Phangan cove. Highly recommended 😉 Yet, I recall a certain longing for my family during the holidays.

Last year, I hung out with Dr. Patricia Bragg, ND, of Bragg Live Foods, on Christmas Eve. We’d just begun working together and I was ambivalent about going home due to a disagreement between myself and another family member. We ended up having a great time! I was new to the island, and Dr. Bragg made me feel like I had family on the island. Seriously, it felt like spending time with a Fairy Grandmother who shares common interests. We spent Christmas Eve roaming Honolulu. Christmas Eve was a full day of chatting with shoppers at Kahala Mall, searching for thrift store treasure, picking up health food at Down to Earth Natural Foods, and admiring the Christmas decorations in Downtown Honolulu. Another bonus? She helped me weed out the less-than-ideal family situation was eating away at my spiritual garden (I travelled to California in early 2012 to resolve)…More later 🙂

Capturing Your Essence: Dubu Kimchee

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The past few weeks I’ve been seriously missing Asia. The landscape, the people, the inability to understand the conversations going on around me, the 24-hour markets, the endless hours wandering the streets exploring, the freedom

Recalling how healthy and energetic I felt, actually preferring Asian food at times (oh, and getting sick of it plenty, too…kimchi and I had a love/hate relationship), I looked up the nearest Asian market in Oxnard and proceeded to stock up.

A wise friend and Naturopath commented that subconsciously, I’m beginning to channel the essence of myself that I happened to find in Asia. The free spirited me.

A cartful of tofu (Korea calls it ‘dubu’), kimchi, gochujang (Korean Chili Paste), and ‘gim’ (seasoned seaweed), I came home and made a Dubu Kimchi meal on the stove.  How? Sautee kimchee and tofu, add some sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds, add in some gim, and you have yourself a healthy meal of fermented vegetables and quality vegetarian protein.  Yum!

Also in the cart from East Asia? Dried Black Fungi (aka Anti-Cancer MEDICINE in Chinese Medical Wisdom) and dried wakame (a type of seaweed, good for the female system) to add to soups, and an enormous tub of Miso. I didn’t stop at Korean goodies, either. Capturing my essence, of course, I foraged flavors of Thailand and India (a land I’ve yet to explore, but have a feeling I will find some of my future ‘essence’), as well. Panang Curry Paste, Coconut Milk, Curry Powder, Tumeric…warming spices that  which Mother Ayurveda would highly approve. Next blog!

Be. Here. Now.

“This is the reason I’m back here. Now, I get it.”

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I’d left so much of myself here. I’m tied here. My past is here,

the happiness and the pain.

And I’d irresponsibly left it in a storeroom.

I’d traveled here and there, and everywhere, all the while

out of sight, didn’t necessarily mean out of mind.

Sifting through the storage unit, I was dutifully listening to the wonderful Hay House Radio App (download it, it’s free!), when opening a random box stopped me in my tracks. Opening this box was like opening a box of treasure.

I kid you not, gold light seemed to spill out upon opening my cardboard box of treasure…

It seemed I’d stumbled on a box of “me”.

Who I was before all of ‘this’, before the gypsy travelling, the yoga trainings and teachings (when I packed this box, most likely in a hurry before hopping a plane to Seoul, I’d recently become a devotee of Bikram, but didn’t even know what a Sutra was, knew I loved the chanting music played at Bryan Kest Power Yoga but no idea this devotional chanting is named ‘Kirtan’, and thought Ayurveda was some kind of mystical shampoo)…

The energy of the box encompassed “me” before travelling, just an early twenty something from California who loved collecting bikinis and laying out on the beach, exploring the Santa Monica and Channel Islands Farmer’s Markets, spending a day wine tasting in Downtown Ventura or Paso Robles, refurbishing furniture from thrift stores into Beach and Shabby Chic and listening to Classic Rock, dayhiking in Malibu…a young and somewhat naiive me… a ‘me’ before a massive love and heartbreak which would rock me to the core. The aforementioned which was the very impetus to make me question who I am, my reactions, how I relate to the world, get back to my roots and what makes me tick, and most importantly, teach me how it feels to be human and love. Love and the sheer pain of losing it–and I would never take this feeling back for the world. Anyways…I digress…the treasure box…

Although none of my friends would remotely call me a simple person, I have to say, this box encompassed a simpler time. Even my signature vanilla perfume was at the top of the box, along with a framed tear out from an inspiring book which quoted, “Every Day is a Good Day“.

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Treasure Box.

I had to revisit. Remember who I was. Remember how present, or not present, I was in each chapter of my life. This “letting go” couldn’t have happened in Hawaii, Asia, or elsewhere. I realize that now, it’s time to fully be here and live my life. The message is loud and clear. It’s come from so many sources all along. I’m heeding the advice now.

Live my life. Be here now. Be fully present where I am now.

And today, it’s letting go of my past by clearing out what’s mine in the store room. Old photographs, knick knacks, clothing, stuff. Most things are neutral, others bring joy, and some hold painful memories. Especially satisfying is getting rid of these things that leave even an inkling of an ‘ick’ feeling; keeping little scraps of things that give a ‘good’ feeling and select photos worth adding to the scrapbook reminds me how connection and love make the world go ’round (even when I feel like disconnecting for a bit to go in introvert mode).

Oh, and definitely keeping a few bikinis 😉

Hosting a yard sale this weekend, wish me luck!

Remember, out of sight does not necessarily mean out of mind, whether subconsiously or conciously.

What have you not let go of, and how may it be affecting you? I want hear all about it! Leave comments below.

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Veg Veg Lots of Veg!


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Now, I’m by no means vegan, but 99% of my meals end up vegan- by -default. What can I say…I love the veg!

In Ayurvedic Medicine, also known as the Ancient Indian Medicinal side of Yoga, Winter is a time to focus on root vegetables and warming spices to stay in physical and mental balance (to learn about your specific constitutional type and foods/lifestyle tips, check out http://www.yogajournal.com/health/2630 to find out if your Vata, Pitta, or Kapha AKA Wind, Fire, or Earth).

Chilly temperatures in Ventura County this December leave this Vata-Pitta craving warm, winter vegetables like squash (Turban Squash eaten above), steamed kale, and sweet potatoes, topped with EVOO by Bragg’s, and Trader Joe’s Sea Salt and African Smoke Seasoning.

Yum!

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Ladies and gentleman, the Turban Squash! I believe this was about $2 at Trader Joe’s…it’s huge and can feed a family of 4 or more. High in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and fiber. Plus, the Turban Squash looks so festive that my roommate had me buy a second one just for holiday decoration.

What does your bod crave in the Winter?

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