My First Chia Pudding

Until recently, the only thing I knew about chia seeds was that you could grow them on clay figurines, creating the look of “hair”. As a kid, I never had a chia pet, so during my Year of Firsts in 2014 I bought one and had fun sprouting the chia seeds.

Because of that connection, I was a bit dubious about consuming chia seeds. However, during my healing journey, I’ve learned these little seeds are considered a super food, full of health boosting benefits. I routinely add a spoonful to my morning smoothies. I’ve seen recipes for chia pudding, made from the same little seeds, but I have not tried a recipe…until today. Anthony William shared a simple basic chia pudding recipe and I thought, I must try this.

The basic recipe couldn’t be more easy.

Chia Pudding

• 1 cup dairy free milk ( almond or coconut)

• 1/4 cup chia seeds

Combine ingredients and let chill overnight in refrigerator. Top with favorite fruits and nuts.

I purchase bags of chia seeds at the Walmart Market. They are found in the baking aisle. And I love the unsweetened almond coconut milk blend, available in the refrigerator section wherever milk is sold. Two brands I’ve tried and like are Almond Breeze and Silk.

Chia seeds are an excellent source of protein, vitamins E and B complex, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron. They are higher in Omega 3 fatty acids than any other food and they are particularly beneficial for chronic inflammation, heart disease, brain function, cancer and autoimmune diseases. Chia seeds also combat diabetes by helping to stabilize and control blood sugar levels.

I started chia pudding this afternoon, so I could sample it this evening. As it set up in the fridge, I searched on Pinterest for more recipes. There are many ways to create a variety of chia puddings, starting with the basic recipe and then adding fruits, nuts, unsweetened chocolate, maple syrup and other healthy foods.

Inspired, I headed back into the kitchen to create a blueberry chia pudding to have as a midmorning or afternoon treat tomorrow. For this pudding, I used a small wide mouth mason jar.

Blueberry Chia Pudding

• 1 cup unsweetened non dairy milk, such as almond or coconut

• 1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries

• 1/4 cup chia seeds

Combine milk and blueberries in a blender. Process until berries and milk are well mixed. Pour into a small mason jar. Add chia seeds. Screw on jar lid and shake to mix blueberry milk with seeds. Chill in refrigerator overnight to set. Top with additional blueberries and nuts before eating.

These puddings are so easy to make! I have ideas for a variety of chia puddings. Tomorrow I will be at the grocery store, stocking up on small mason jars, chia seeds and plenty of fruits, unsweetened coconut and nuts such as walnuts and pecans. I saved recipes for such delights as pumpkin pie chia pudding and chocolate raspberry chia pudding. I will be playing with these recipes and coming up with some of my own. (The blueberry chia pudding is one I created using the basic recipe as the foundation.)

Tonight I intended to dress up the basic recipe by topping it with sliced bananas, wild blueberries and walnuts. However, the pudding isn’t completely set up yet. I don’t want to rush it. I will let it chill overnight and add an update to this post in the morning. And I’m excited to sample the blueberry chia pudding tomorrow and create more fun variations.

No more chia pets. I have a much better, and more beneficial, use for these amazing little seeds.

Chaga Mushroom Tea

I had never heard of chaga mushrooms, before reading Life Changing Foods by Anthony William. In the book there is a chapter on the benefits of this immunity building wild food, which is technically a pre-mushroom fungus growth.

As I have been nurturing myself and allowing my left knee to heal, I used the Life Changing Foods book to look up all the foods that fight inflammation in the body, and especially in joints, as it feels like I have inflamed tendons and/or muscles around my left knee . Included on my list of beneficial foods was the chaga mushroom.

It was time to try this food, sold in the form of a very fine powder that can be added to smoothies or made into a tea. My order from Amazon arrived today, in time to prepare my first chaga mushroom tea.

According to Anthony, the chaga mushroom is all about building immunity in the body. The phytochemicals in chaga fight cancer, regulate blood sugar, boost the adrenals while regulating the rest of the endocrine system, break down and dissolve biofilm (a jelly like substance that’s a by product of certain viruses and fungi) and destroys unproductive fungus in the digestive tract.

Chaga is beneficial to those with cancer, autoimmune diseases, and a host of major disorders such as MS, ALS, tendonitis, sciatica, HIV, and chronic fatigue syndrome. It fights inflammation causing viruses such as Epstein Barr and shingles.

These symptoms warrant bringing chaga into your life: inflammation, shoulder, neck, head or back pain, headaches, pre fatty liver, joint pain, rashes, hives, body fungus, neurological symptoms, joint inflammation and poor circulation.

With so many health benefits, I was very willing to add chaga to my diet! Tonight I tried this easy to make tea. The recipe is included in Life Changing Foods.

Chaga Tea Latte Makes 1 cup

• 1 teaspoon chaga powder (fine powder)

• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

• 1/2 – 1 teaspoon raw honey

• 1/8 cup coconut milk

Boil one cup of water. Place chaga powder in mug and add boiling water, stirring until powder is dissolved. Stir in honey, using more if desired. Stir in coconut milk or use frother to create coconut foam on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

The addition of the raw honey helps to deliver the chaga to hard to reach places within the body, enhancing body system functions.

I like that Anthony includes an Emotional Support section for each food in the book. He writes that chaga is invaluable for those who feel like they’re missing out on something, or who feel trapped in their life’s direction, emotionally stagnant and numb. Add chaga to your diet when help is needed envisioning the future.

What a powerful food. I cupped my mug of hot chaga tea and closed my eyes for a moment, feeling gratitude for all this wild food brings into my life. Then the first sip.

How does a fungus made into a tea taste? Wonderful! There isn’t a musky or moldy smell or taste AT ALL. Chaga tastes like tea…with honey, cinnamon and a splash of coconut milk added.

I’m excited to include this hot drink in my daily health routine. Chaga tea will serve as an afternoon pick me up and the turmeric milk will remain as my night time drink. Both will flood my body with powerful anti inflammatory nutrients. And that means increased health, wellness and vitality for me.

You can order Life Changing Foods and Chaga Mushroom Powder below.

I am an Amazon Affiliate and may make a commission on purchases made through my links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for purchasing these items, or any other items, through my Amazon links.

Sweet Potatoes with Braised Cabbage

This time of year, with its cooler, shorter days, I appreciate food that comforts and nurtures, without compromising my health. This colorful and nutritious meal is so satisfying, and it is not only full of flavor but full of health benefits as well.

This recipe comes from Life-Changing Foods, by Anthony William. In his second book, Anthony writes about 50 of the best foods to eat to heal and maintain health and wellness. Each chapter lists the benefits of the food and what conditions and symptoms it eases, and there are even sections on how that particular food provides emotional and spiritual support. For every food listed, there is a wonderful recipe to try. This book has been invaluable to me.

Sweet potatoes promote productive bacteria in the stomach, small intestine and colon, while starving out unproductive bacteria and fungi. These more colorful cousins of regular potatoes enhance the body’s production of vitamin B12. They are also packed with carotenoids, which are extremely powerful and protect against a host of cancers.

Sweet potatoes also rid the body of unusable, cancer causing estrogen that interferes with hormone function. And if insomnia is an issue, this potato will aid in a sound night’s sleep.

I’ve always enjoyed sweet potatoes, which made me an oddity as a child! As an adult I quit adding additional sweetness, in the form of brown sugar or marshmallows, nor do I douse my orange spuds in butter. I most often eat a baked sweet potato plain, with sprinkles of sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper. However, this easy to prepare recipe is a wonderful way to dress up my sweet potato in a healthy way.

These are so delicious. I love the tangy sauce that tops the stuffed sweet potato. Anthony writes that if you need some coddling, there is nothing more comforting than a baked sweet potato. I agree!

And this comfort food will not have an adverse effect on my body. What I have known in my life as comfort food rarely provided anything more a sugar rush or an excuse to overeat and twinges of guilt. Not so with the humble and benefit packed sweet potato.

This recipe will be prepared frequently this fall and winter.

I am an Amazon Affiliate and may make a commission on items purchased through my links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for purchasing this item, or any other items, through my Amazon links!

Healthy…and Happy

This is the blog post I wasn’t going to write this evening. I knew this morning that today was one of those unusual holidays, Evaluate Your Life Day. I decided not to engage in that celebration, even though a kernel of an idea arose at the thought. Throughout a busy day, that little idea grew. And when “happy” kept coming into my awareness, through signs and the actual song Happy by Pharrell Williams, I accepted the nudges and invitations.

I consider myself an optimistic, positive, happy person. I have been these last seven years especially, after facing my fears and moving beyond them. However, an intriguing thing has been happening to me. The last two or three months, people have told me repeatedly that I look happy, seem happy, appear to be so happy.

When something happens repetitively, it gets my attention.

I’ve been thinking about the fact that I appear to be happier, even though in my own estimation, I have lived on Happy Street for a while. People who tell me I seem to be happier are linking this high level of energetic being to my increased healthiness. And I find that fascinating!

Could there be a correlation between feeling good, health wise, and feeling GOOD, happiness wise?

For Evaluate Your Life Day, I considered that possibility and did a little research.

When I began a plant based lifestyle, 15 months ago, I wasn’t thinking about happiness. I was focused on healing and finding relief from chronic pain. It was the right focus. Changing my diet to one of fruits, veggies, rice, legumes and nuts literally changed my health…and my life.

It is an ongoing journey that has brought me many unexpected benefits. Not only did my pain subside, other minor health ailments cleared up as well. I began to experience episodes of euphoria that at first puzzled me. Then I realized this was what good health felt like.

People noticed that I lost weight, quit using a cane, stopped limping. And now they notice that I am happy. I wondered today, is it because my face is relaxed, rather than carrying a slight frown? When at rest, the subtle drawing together of my eyebrows was due to the pain I felt but didn’t verbally express. And often my apparent “lost in thought” look was me considering how much it was going to hurt when I stood after sitting through a long meal or a meeting. I no longer battle pain like that. Was this the difference in my countenance?

Or was it deeper than that? Had those bouts of euphoria developed into joy and happiness?

I found many studies online, linking positive thoughts to better health. And only one finding a correlation between improved health and happiness. A new study out of Australia suggests that eating more fruits and vegetables may make you feel happier.

Researchers studied more than 12,000 Australians for two years. They asked people whether they normally ate fruits and veggies and how much. They also asked the participants how satisfied with life they were, on a scale from 1 to 10. Then they tracked diets for two years, and whether people increased their fruit and veggie consumption, while also studying their satisfaction levels.

Results showed that those who added more fruits and veggies per day to their diets, increased their levels of life satisfaction as well. Research has suggested that greater levels of carotenoids, found in some fruits and veggies, are linked to greater optimism. Plus an increased intake in vitamin B12, also present in fruits and veggies, boosts a neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin, which helps to regulate mood.

Redzo Mujcic, one of the study’s researchers wrote, “Perhaps our results will be more effective than traditional messages in convincing people to have a healthy diet. There is a psychological payoff now from fruits and vegetables, not just a lower health risk.”

Perhaps, indeed!

Many of the people that I talk to about their health are afraid their happiness will decrease if they give up foods they enjoy. What if the opposite is true? What if, by increasing fruits and veggies, they felt happier while feeling healthier?

And if adding more fruits and veggies increases levels of satisfaction with life, what would switching entirely to a plant based diet do? Perhaps it results in bouts of euphoria…that becomes a high level of sustained happiness!

I think it warrants more thought on my part, and more research. But what an intriguing correlation. I am willing to be the guinea pig and live it out, as I continue in my journey of pursuing greater and greater health, and see what happens. The best way for me to impact others in a positive healthy way, is to live my life openly.

I am an ambassador for health…and happiness.

Body & Soul Day

This beautiful fall Sunday was perfect for nourishing myself, body and soul. The weather lured me outdoors. My desire to cook was present in full force. I had another new plant based recipe to try. And this afternoon I enjoyed relaxing and catching up on a new series. This was a day of deep self care.

My soulful Sunday began with caring for my body. This was Day 10 of my 30 Day Walking Challenge. Not only have I walked every day, I have also met my fun intention of walking in a different location each time.

With a relaxed schedule today, I headed south of Joplin, to the trails meandering through Walter Woods Conservation Area. I appreciate Greg accompanying me. In this remote location, it is good to walk with a companion.

I am loving the daily walks. My body is responding, feeling stronger and more flexible. The walks in neighborhoods and city parks deepen my sense of connection with my community. I’ve met some wonderful people as I walk. And the walks in nature nurture my soul as well as my body. The beauty found in streams and falling leaves, mossy tree trunks being gently embraced again by the earth and flittering butterflies on their migration paths, awakens my senses and fills my heart with quiet joy.

The last time I explored the trails at Walter Woods was before switching to a plant based lifestyle. My pain wracked left leg necessitated frequent rest stops. I was surprised today by how quickly we made the loop through the woods. I was immensely grateful for pain free legs that moved freely without a limp. And I was saddened to recall what I used to consider normal, in my health or lack of health.

We walked further, to the pond on the other side of the property, and sat on a bench, enjoying the darting dragonflies and the gorgeous weather.

Back at home it was more body care, mixed with creativity, which enlarges my soul. I’ve been in the mood to cook. This afternoon provided the perfect opportunity to cook up a couple of hearty and healthy plant based meals. After popping the Macaroni & Broccoli Bake into the oven, I made a large pot of vegetable soup, with lots and lots of veggies.

The Macaroni & Broccoli Bake is an amazing and very comforting dish. I use brown rice pasta and fresh broccoli. The “cheese” sauce is made from cashews, lemon juice, garlic and a chopped date, with sea salt and chili powder. With colder weather coming, this satisfying meal will become a weekly favorite. See the recipe for Macaroni & Broccoli Bake HERE.

I also tried another healthy cookie recipe. Similar to the traditional No Bake Cookie recipe, this version has just four ingredients.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Coconut No Bake Cookies by Beaming Baker

• 1 cup natural peanut butter (no sugar added)

• 1/2 cup pure maple syrup

• 1 cup gluten free rolled oats

• 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Combine peanut butter and maple syrup in medium sized glass bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds, stir, and continue, microwaving for 20 seconds and stirring, 4-7 times, until mixture is warm and fragrant and just beginning to dry out a bit. Add oatmeal and coconut flakes, stirring until well combined. Drop by spoonfuls onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Press down on cookie mounds with a fork, to desired thickness. Pop into the freezer for 20 minutes and then enjoy. Store in refrigerator. Makes about 24 cookies.

This recipe was another success! The cookies are delicious and so quick to make. I enjoyed a couple for afternoon tea. I appreciate how wholesome they are.

As I had afternoon tea, and later a bowl of Macaroni & Broccoli, I settled onto my bed and caught up on the newest Star Trek series, Discovery. While some might not see watching Star Trek as a soulful experience, for me it is.

Watching episodes 2 and 3 today, my eyes filled with tears several times. I was deeply moved by the stories, which while offering hope in standard Trek ways, were much grittier and darker. I was captivated by the action and special effects, and quite on edge during episode 3!

My cat Shy Boy slept through Star Trek, only because I had ear buds in, to spare him the noise of space battles.

I am loving being back in the star Trek universe. Subscribing to CBS All Access is worth it to me, to follow these adventures featuring wonderful new characters amid familiar Trek favorites such as tribbles and the wise Vulcan, Sarek. It is hard for me to explain the teary eyes. So much of who I am is connected to Star Trek, in ways that most would not understand. No one has to get it, except me.

And even I can be surprised by the depth of my emotions for this long running series. When tears gathered after a starship was destroyed, full of characters I never saw, I muttered to my cat…“I didn’t even know those people…why the tears?” I can only surmise that my soul knows why. Under the tender care it is receiving, my spirit, my essence, is very expansive and responsive.

What a beautiful day. How perfectly suited it was for the care of my body and my soul. I feel rested. I feel nurtured. I feel nourished. I feel ready for more walks, and more creativity expressed in the kitchen…and another Star Trek episode.

Thumbprint Cookies

I know fall has arrived, no matter what the temps are outside, when I wake up full of energy, and with a strong desire to cook! A trip to the market today yielded bags of veggies, fruit, gluten free brown rice pasta, and staples to make a variety of healthy, plant based meals this weekend.

And, I picked up the ingredients to try a new recipe from Anthony William…Thumbprint Cookies.

Among the many things that I appreciate about Anthony is that he continually offers health information and new ways to prepare foods in healthy ways. These cookies are grain…and gluten…free, dairy free, and don’t contain refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup. The ingredient list is wholesome and the cookies are easy to prepare.

Thumbprint Cookies by Anthony William

 

Ingredients:

• 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond flour

• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

• 1/2 cup tahini

• 1/2 cup coconut sugar or maple sugar

• 1/2 teaspoon alcohol free vanilla

• 1/2 cup white sesame seeds

• 1/2 cup raspberry sugar free jam (or other flavor) or make your own sugar free fruit jam

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine almond flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Whisk together and set aside. Combine tahini, coconut sugar and vanilla in a food processor and process. Add flour mixture to processor and combine until smooth and mixture sticks together. If mixture is crumbly, add a small amount of water slowly until dough sticks together. Form dough into balls and roll in sesame seeds. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and make an indentation in the center of each cookie with thumb. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cool. Add a small dollop of jam to each cookie. Makes about a dozen cookies.

The cookies only took a few minutes to prepare and pop into the oven. I purchase tahini, which is a paste made from sesame seeds, from a local health food store. I also use it making homemade hummus and dressings. I bought coconut sugar for the first time today, finding it at my usual food market. It resembles brown sugar and has a rich, not-too-sweet flavor.

I could not find the white sesame seeds, so I did not roll my cookie balls in it. I will check the health food store for this item and include the sesame seeds next time. And instead of raspberry sugar free jam, I used apricot “Just Fruit” jam, which doesn’t contain sugar or corn syrup.

These wonderful treats are good for me. The tahini, and sesame seeds when included, strengthen the nervous system and improve thyroid function. Raspberries are a powerful antioxidant that removes toxic impurities from the body. Apricots are an antioxidant as well, and rich in vitamin A. They strengthen the heart, blood and bones.

The thumbprint cookies were wonderful! Not too sweet, with a taste that reminds me of molasses cookies, these treats were so rich and satisfying. The apricot jam added a nice hint of tartness. I intend to make these treats often, and try different jam fillings.

I savored several cookies tonight, with a cup of hot Scottish thistle tea with a splash of almond coconut milk. Ahhhhh…what incredible bliss on an autumn evening.

You can preorder Anthony’s newest book, Thyroid Healing, which is due out in November.

I am an Amazon Affiliate and may make a commission on products purchased through my links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for considering making a purchase of this item, or any other items, through my Amazon links!

Warm Bedtime Drink

I enjoy a warm drink in the evening, year around. During the summer, my drink of choice is a cup of hot herbal tea, brewed from herbs freshly picked from my garden. As the days become shorter and cooler temperatures mark the true arrival of fall, I look for additional nighttime drinks to sip on. It is essential to me that these bedtime drinks be warming and soothing and also full of health boosting benefits.

I was excited to try this turmeric milk. I found the recipe on Facebook, in a group I am part of called Avocado. This delicious and easy to prepare recipe comes from Anna Davis.

Warm Turmeric Milk

Ingredients

• 1 teaspoon dried turmeric

• 1 tablespoon raw organic honey

• Dash of coarsely ground black pepper

• Dash of cinnamon

• 1 cup of unsweetened dairy free plant based milk such as almond or coconut

In a small bowl mix together honey, turmeric, black pepper and cinnamon, making a paste. Warm plant based milk. Add small amount to turmeric mixture, stirring until smooth and thinned out. Add turmeric mixture to remainder of milk. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon and enjoy.

I used unsweetened almond coconut dairy free milk. The coconut adds a subtle flavor that I like. Plain almond milk can be used as well. As the milk heated, I whisked the honey, turmeric, black pepper and cinnamon together.

The spicy aroma was wonderfully tantalizing as I added a small amount of warm milk to the honey mixture. After it was thinned out, I poured the mixture into the cup of milk.

A sprinkle of cinnamon on top and my bedtime turmeric milk was ready to savor. And savor it I did. This drink was so good that I had to pace myself. The taste is flavorful but mild.

Turmeric is considered one of the most effective medicinal herbs with powerful benefits for the body. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. The body absorbs curcumin much better when black pepper is ingested at the same time.

Curcumin is linked to improved brain function and a lessening of brain diseases, less risk of heart disease, cancer prevention, depression prevention, inhibition of Alzheimer’s, improvement of arthritis through lessening of inflammation and anti-aging properties.

That’s a lot of health benefits packed into a tasty nighttime drink. In addition, turmeric soothes the digestive tract, which contributes to a better night’s sleep.

Raw organic honey, locally produced, is a good source of antioxidants. Health benefits of honey include soothes the digestive tract, eases seasonal allergies and sore throats, protects the body from cell damage, and it is antibacterial and anti-fungal.

Best of all, this drink centers me as it warms me, preparing me for a time of deep rest. I drank the turmeric milk last night, and fell asleep easily and quickly.

Writing about the drink and its many health benefits makes me crave another cup of turmeric milk tonight. This could become my favorite bedtime drink!

Mom’s Big Year

I haven’t shared many birthday posts this year. Last year I did celebratory posts for every member of my family, both immediate and extended, on their actual birthdays. I’ve given the tradition a bit of a rest this year.

Today is my mom’s birthday. And rather than sharing what her name means or how she has influenced my life, as I have done in the past, I want to express how proud I am of my mom, for making some big changes in her life.

Mom has had some health challenges the last few years. Nothing was life threatening, however a host of ailments has greatly affected how she felt and necessitated several surgeries. Some might simply accept that as we get older, our health naturally declines. While this can appear to be true, my mom decided to shift that belief and take responsibility for her health.

Exactly a year ago, I accompanied my mom on all of her doctors’ appointments. I had recently switched to a plant based diet, taking charge of my own health and desiring to heal from chronic pain. Seeing my improvements, Mom was interested in embracing a plant based lifestyle as well. During that week of doctor visits, I got their hearty approvals for her to eliminate meat, eggs, dairy and gluten from her diet and consume instead fruits, vegetables, brown rice, gluten free oats, nuts and legumes.

Because here was the incentive…we were planning a trip. In twelve months my sisters, niece, mom and I intended to visit Ireland, Scotland and England. Mom and I both wanted to enjoy that trip in good health.

Six months later, when she returned for check ups, Mom was excited to learn that her health was indeed shifting. Inflammation was greatly reduced. Other health conditions had improved. Her doctors were impressed and encouraged her to continue with a plant based lifestyle. Even though she ended up having to have a knee replacement at that time, due to breaking a bone in that joint, she recovered remarkably well.

Her surgeon approved travel…and our dream trip became a reality.

I am so incredibly proud of my mom. We spent 12 days traveling. During that time we walked, a lot. We climbed stairs, toured landmarks and castles, and spent hours in planes, trains, automobiles and buses. We hopped on and off the London Tube. Did we slow our pace a bit? Yes. But only because she had knee surgery, just six months ago. Did we ever leave her behind at a hotel? Not once.

Mom and I are continuing in our plant based lifestyle. It is too important to my health, and to hers, to ever go back to the way we used to eat. I am thrilled. Mom inspires me every day, and now she is showing me how to live life to the fullest, as a “senior”.

Mom and Walter at dinner tonight.

During our recent trip, I often thought how precious it was to see Ireland, Scotland and England with my family, and especially with my mom. Travel has been an important part of her life, and her desire to explore the world has been passed on to me.

I also thought that this trip might be Mom’s last overseas adventure. And if it is, we have absolutely no regrets. However, my sisters and I are already talking about taking another girls’ trip together in 2019. And guess who wants to go with us?

Happy birthday Mom. I love you. I am so grateful for you and your desire to be the best version of yourself, at every age. Long may you have new adventures. And yes, you are always welcome to travel with us!

Ahas on Final Day of Afternoon Tea Week

Today was the conclusion of Afternoon Tea Week. For the final celebratory day, I prepared a recipe that I’ve wanted to try for a long time…zucchini chips. I used fresh tomatoes and an avocado to make guacamole as an accompanying dip.

The recipes were simple.

Zucchini Chips

Thinly slice 3 – 4 small zucchini. Place slices in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper.

Arrange slices on cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper. Bake 30 minutes in 450 degree oven, or until crispy.

Fresh Guacamole

Pit an avocado and dice. Add one finely cut tomato, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Diced onion, cilantro and jalapeño can be added as well.

The zucchini chips were delicious. However, they were not crispy. I added additional baking time and a few crisped up. A few chips became little charcoal bites! I ate them anyway, using a fork, dipping each chip into the guacamole. I will have to try these again and experiment. Perhaps I had too many slices on the baking sheet. I enjoyed them, nevertheless!

I used fresh lemon grass from my garden for today’s tea. This fragrant herb makes a light, refreshing, aromatic tea with a taste similar to lemon balm.

I thoroughly enjoyed celebrating Afternoon Tea Week. It is a practice I intend to continue, in a somewhat unconventional fashion, now that I’ve discovered I can substitute healthy, flavorful plant based recipes. I truly have not missed the finger sandwiches, scones, sweet treats and shortbread cookies. It is the refreshing pause in the day that became important to me.

Lavender tea and banana nice dream with walnuts and fresh strawberries for yesterday’s unposted tea, that took place so late in the day that it could not be called an afternoon tea, by any stretch of the imagination! It was wonderful though.

My aha that occurred during this celebration was to marvel at the unfolding of life. I enjoyed the creative cooking time in the kitchen this week. I realized this was yet another manifestation of a desire that I expressed a couple of years ago…to cook more and learn new recipes. I did not foresee at that time that a healing journey would usher in opportunities to cook and eat in new, creative ways.

The way I live my life, connected to the Divine and immersed in the Flow of Life, has taught me that when I express a sincere desire and then let go of the outcome and remain open, that which I long for comes to me. It usually isn’t in the way I would have attempted to arrange it or make events happen. And yet, it is always perfectly timed and exactly right.

Here are some of my desires from recent years, expressed in italics, and the Divine’s amazing responses, in bold:

I want to live beyond my fears…Face your fears head on, by living alone for a while. I am with you. And as a bonus, once you move past your fear, you will tap into your creative heart more deeply. You answered that desire before I even asked…

I would love to create a backyard paradise…Here is a new yard, with two feet of fresh dirt, a blank canvas to create upon.

I want to write every day… Meet Lu Ann Cahn. And how about a year of firsts of your own that you can write a daily blog post about?

My desire is to live in the flow, and release resistance… Surrender…let go of the paddles to your canoe, trust that the flow will take you where you need to go. I am the Dream Giver, calling to you from just around the river bend.

I want to cook more! How about in healthy ways that heal your body?

I want to heal my body… Listen to what Anthony William says and you will heal. And, you get to cook more!

I want to travel more…How about a trip to Scotland with your cousins? How about Italy with your grandson and daughter? And another trip to Scotland, plus Ireland and England, with your mom, sisters and niece?

Do You want to play with me? Do YOU want to play with me?!

What an amazing journey life has been and continues to be. It is a dance with the Divine, this asking and receiving, this cosmic playing. My heart overflows with love and gratitude.

This week of afternoon teas, this week of creative play and dancing with the Divine, not only cheered and refreshed me, it spoke deeply to me at a soul level. As an adult, I have seriously under rated the power of playing. Engaging in play daily unlocks my creativity and teaches me new skills and meaningful life lessons.

In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes,

“Only when we are at our most playful, can Divinity finally get serious with us.”

Do you want to play…dance, create, explore, discover, learn, cook, draw, write, garden, travel, become healthy, journey through life…with me?

Oh, yes!

Bee Balm Tea with Kale Boats

I was grateful today for left over chopped and sliced veggies in the fridge. My afternoon tea was very late in the day and with those veggies already prepped, creating tea time food was a cinch. In a few minutes, I had two large kale leaves trimmed and ready for filling.

As I was driving home this afternoon, I was considering what I might prepare today and those last two kale leaves came to mind. With the leftover veggies and dipping sauce from yesterday, the kale would become the foundation of my treat today. And I don’t like to waste food. My idea would bring together all those bits and pieces stashed in the fridge and create a colorful, health boosting meal.

Here is my easy recipe:

Kale Boats

Trim, wash and blot dry two kale leaves. In a small bowl, combine chopped veggies of choice. I used tomato, avocado, mushrooms, green pepper, carrots and jalapeño. Spoon filling down the center of each leaf. Top with healthy dressing, if desired. I used my dipping sauce from yesterday. Sprinkle on chopped walnuts.

My tea this afternoon was a first for me…bee balm. Although this prolific herb is growing in my garden, I had not tried it yet as a tea. Bee balm is in the thyme family. This aromatic plant is antiseptic and diuretic, eases digestive disorders, and soothes symptoms of cold and flu. I was looking forward to sipping on it tonight.

By the time the tea was finished steeping, my food was ready. Chunks of cold watermelon completed the meal. I carried my afternoon tea into my bedroom, where the laptop was open upon the bed. I paused in my tasks of looking up properties and answering emails, to savor my tea time.

And savor it I did. I picked up the kale boats and folded them like soft tacos. They were a bit messy to eat, but so delicious and extremely filling. These late afternoon teas this week have in truth become my early dinners. The crunchy, sweet watermelon was good too. And bee balm tea, I discovered, tastes much like thyme tea. I am sipping on a second cup.

I have so appreciated these times of refreshment during a busy week in real estate. I understand why the practice of afternoon tea became popular and has become a tradition. I think after a week of afternoon teas, combined with light flavorful, healthy foods, this will once again become a treasured time of day for me.