Thursday, September 2, 2010

What You Can't See Coming

When I started this blog I thought I understood what acceptance meant. I had no idea.

Since the last post, my life is very different. My business is ending, and I'm starting a new one.
Endings are brutally painful, and I'm coming through this one with a healing that is unexpected.

I'm allowing this transition to happen, just surrendering to it completely. No trying, no pushing, and no more resistance. I'm just too tired, and when I let go, a peace and calm fill me that is not of this world.

My new book will be out soon: Essentials of a Vegetarian Kitchen, and I'm excited!

So, acceptance - more like surrender, open, free, and liberation.

Look for more posts in the coming months.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

When You're Not Looking

So, we're working on the cookbook, and life just happens alongside these projects. In an ideal world, I have all day, everyday to complete it. I have my mom's full attention, and she works diligently to help with the recipes. Then, I wake up.

However, I have written so much over the last six years with all the teaching I've done. I started looking at everything I've written, and guess what? I have a great how-to manual for those folks wishing to update and expand their kitchens to a more vegetarian version. The new book will be published this month, and it's called Essentials of a Vegetarian Kitchen.

Shots for the cover were taken a couple weeks ago, and they turned out great. I'm thrilled! Despite the hectic schedules and various projects, a delightful book has emerged.

There is no such thing as, "I'll do that when... (I'm retired, less busy, weigh less, married, single, pregnant, finished with school, debt free)." Life is happening NOW, and amidst all of it, the dreams and plans and goals happen. No time to waste, and no looking to the future, waiting for something to happen.

Look for Essentials of a Vegetarian Kitchen by the end of this month!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I've decided to add my personal sketches to the cookbook. They will be simple pencil drawings, and I'm looking forward to working on them. Drawing is a great stress reliever, and is so much fun for me. I'm sure you know what I mean when I say that creativity feeds on itself. Cooking is a creative venture, and so is writing. Both fuel my drawing, and vice versa. Great stuff!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


My cooking class in March proved to be very interesting, and while I haven't written about it, there were quite a group of individuals who attended. Vegetarian/vegan cooking classes draw all kinds of people, mostly non-vegetarians - people looking to include more plant based meals into their diet. Well, in March, this proved to be the case. However, there were several that stand out in my mind.

Two women arrived with an aura of resistance around them. One a self proclaimed gourmet cook, and the other, a vegetarian looking to please her non-vegetarian husband and still remain a healthy vegetarian herself. Both came with the attitude of already knowing "everything" about vegetarian cooking, and I wondered why they were there.

Belief Systems

A New Belief

There was a woman who reminds me of a friend of mine. She talked with me after class. She shared some information I find intriguing. She told me that she is now a Buddhist. I know a bit about Buddhism, primariy with regard to death and dying, and non-violence. She shared that she is trying to learn to cook vegetarian meals now since Buddhists don't eat meat, and that she found herself in a situation where she was offered meat as a guest. (I don't know all the details to this story, but the general gist). I understood her to say that the Buddhist belief permits eating meat in this situation because it was offered and thus, considered a gift. When she said this, I remember crinkling my forehead and thinking to myself, "Huh?" I saw and heard hesitation in her voice. She clearly was having a hard time reconciling the new "need" to be a vegetarian with the permission to eat meat when it's interpreted as a gift.

Another Way

A close friend koshered her kitchen a few years back. When she told me that she brought all of her cookware to the temple for blessing and had to get rid of much that was in her kitchen, it didn't dawn on me that she could never eat out, or eat at my home again, unless I cooked kosher food or she brought her own food.

I visited her one afternoon, and when I went to put cream in my coffee, I checked out the ingredients in the creamer, and they were less than great. The creamer was kosher. The ingredients included artificial flavoring and hydrogenated oil, and I believe corn syrup as the sweetener. In any case, I passed on putting it in my coffee.

When we follow a spiritual path, are we meant to abandon common sense or stop listening to our own hearts and bodies? Do we eat something that is less than healthy for us because our spiritual path says it's okay?

My Own Way

My world is not black and white, but varying shades of gray. That is where I feel most comfortable, in between the rules and lines and structure. I am so grateful to my ancestors for their deep devotion and spirituality, and I have carved my own unique way of being. Food is an important consideration in any belief system, and yet deeply personal. For me, my heart and current knowledge will help me decide what to eat, no matter my spiritual beliefs or those of my ancestors.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Well, I've finished adding food back into my diet after a food elimination. This is always an interesting process, and now life is returning to normal, at least for my husband. He "suffers" the most from the menu changes I implement in our kitchen. No major problems with any foods as I continue to avoid dairy, corn, and most gluten. I do this based on how my body feels. I feel best without these ingredients - that means, I have more energy, think more clearly, have less aches, and my mood is consistent regardless of what my hormones are doing.

Consciously listening to the messages of the body is a significant aspect of a meaningful and healthy life. This generally requires taking time to quiet the mind and body, and paying attention to the loud and many times subtle sensations of the body. These sensations are meant to get our attention.

My body goes through major shifts with a food elimination, and that means that my diet shifts and changes as well. I never know what I'll be eating after I'm finished. While my current vegetarian/vegan diet is starkly different from my ancestors, there are several important similarities that rise up and get my attention, almost daily: Organic, locally grown food (whenever possible) and a connection to nature; Time in the kitchen preparing whole food from scratch; Belief that food nourishes not just the body but the soul.

The last point is the most interesting to me, and is kind of a similarity. I would lead with "food nourishes the body and the soul" and my ancestors would lead with "food nourishes the soul and feeds the body".

In either case, the feeling derived from the food experience as a whole is the bottom line. How I wish I could cook with my great grandmother now - I use her mortar and pestle, and well, that makes my heart swell.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Food Share

During my nearly 20 years of teaching energy based techniques and practices, including Reiki, Feng Shui, Space Clearing, and Yoga, I've met a lot of interesting people. Participants arrive to these kinds of classes very enthusiastic. They are typically yearning for information to help them change their lives in a positive way. The primary thing I've observed about participants in these classes is that they are like sponges - just absorbing every bit of information. For most, the information is really new, so they don't generally come to the table with much to say about the topics. Of course, as they learn the techniques, then they begin to share about how the techniques may be applied in their lives. But up until that point, they tend to soak up the info.

With cooking classes, however, this is quite a different story. Shopping for food, cooking and eating are common experiences amongst all of us. As a result, most folks have things to say about these experiences, both positive and negative. We all have a relationship with food that is based on really deep beliefs about our bodies, family, how we age, how our world functions, etc.

So, in cooking classes, I get to hear more about these beliefs because so many of the participant's beliefs come into question when it comes to food and making decisions about what to eat. When people start to learn about nutrition, specifically, this generates a lot of discussion, and for many, a lot of internal conflict.

The bottom line for most people is how their bodies feel when they begin choosing healthier foods. I know that's been the case for me and my family. Experience is the key - trying new foods and staying open to new tastes. Over time, most find that healthier options really do make a difference in how they feel, how they move, how they think.

I love hearing the inspirational stories people tell when they begin making positive changes in their lives, and that is the joy of teaching.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Last week at this time, I was preparing for my March cooking class. The focus was seitan - wheat gluten, a perfect meat substitute for those without gluten sensitivity. Cooking classes draw fascinating groups of people together that would not otherwise gather. There were meat eaters who were looking for healthy alternatives, vegetarians looking for another option, and everything in between. I was happy to see 2 men in the crowd.

Maintaining a vegetarian lifestyle requires commitment. To sustain the commitment, each person needs to have their own personal reason(s) for doing so that go deep down to the core of their being. Without conviction, changing a lifestyle is difficult to sustain over time. Being a healthy vegetarian requires time and effort, particularly in the kitchen, but there's the menu planning and the shopping. Typically, this falls to the woman in the home, and more men are enjoying cooking, but rarely do they do the planning or shopping.

About half way into the 2 hour class, a woman asked a question that I've never heard before. I've been teaching classes for 22 years as a nurse, energy worker, yoga teacher, and her question got my attention. Actually, I think she stated outloud what many feel but don't articulate.

She said something like, "Doesn't (eating like) this just come naturally?" I asked her to repeat what she said because I didn't get what she was talking about. When I finally responded to her, I said, "No, this way of eating doesn't come naturally. Making healthy choices requires your consciousness. I want you to bring your full consciousness to the process of making decisions about what you eat." I added a few things about mindfulness, too.

Even now as I write about this, I'm almost speechless.

I've always been a firm believer that education, knowledge, and information are the key to positive, healthy, life-altering/sustainable change. I give this woman credit for coming to the class - vegetarian cooking is very foreign to her. She did see that it is not as hard as people think. Vegetables are not our enemies, and our bodies love them. Of course, there are ingredients and essentials to a well-rounded vegetarian kitchen, and these new ingredients can feel overwhelming to a person eating the S.A.D. (standard American diet).

As with vegetarian cooking and lifestyle, nothing in life just comes naturally. There is a difference between passive/apathetic/indifferent and using intuition to guide us in each day and moment. We can "go with the flow" when we're engaged in life, listening to the messages around and within us, living consciously, coming to our day to day tasks awake, and paying attention to the details of our lives. Then, our lives do "appear" to happen naturally.

If we wait for things to just happen, they likely never will. Our attention and willingness to participate is required for a vibrant, deeply satisfying life.

In April - sweet and spicy tempeh & veggies with rice noodles, and much more!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Young Ones

Four years ago, a young woman began taking yoga classes with me. I was interested in teaching children's yoga, and she thought she'd try it. She quickly realized that she loved yoga. Four years later, she now receives private yoga instruction from me and my colleague. The other night, she mentioned that she's considering becoming a vegetarian. I asked her about her motivation, and she said, "animal cruelty". I have heard that from many vegetarians.

Rarely do I hear that people become vegetarians for health reasons. Instead, there is an ah-ha moment. Education is the key, and once the facts are put forth about how factory farming is cruel to animals (and hurting our environment), many people are willing to make a change.

Her parents are concerned that she isn't old enough to eat a vegetarian diet, and that she won't get all the nutrients she needs, particularly protein. This is a common misconception, and again, education is the key. Our ancestors ate nowhere near the amount of meat that Americans consume today, and they were healthier for it. We need 15g of protein at each meal, and we can get that amount, easily, through legumes (beans/lentils), grains, soy, seitan. The phytonutrients needed for a healthy body don't come from meat - they come from fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts/seeds, healthy oils.

How to begin incorporating these new foods is typically overwhelming for people. Where to shop, how to cook with new ingredients, finding recipes - all of it seems like too much in a day to day world, that for many, is already too overwhelming. The beauty of healthy vegetarian cooking is that it's simple because the ingredients are whole (not processed) and more pure.

Last fall, during my 4-week cooking class series, 2 mothers attended, not because they personally were invested in living a vegetarian lifestyle, but because their daughters were already vegetarians - one was 12 and the other 17. The young ones seem to be leading the way with greater knowledge and an openness to change.

The topic of food and nutrition is always heated because we are so emotionally tied to our foods. The key is to look at the source of our food - where does it come from and how was it produced? When the facts are understood, there will be no more arguments. We can agree on farming practices that don't hurt the environment and practices that don't inflict cruelty on animals. When we focus on what we can agree on, we can move forward with the discussion on being a vegetarian.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Food Elimination

I've just finished adding foods back into my diet after the food elimination, and all went well. Life has returned to normal, for my husband, at least. He "suffers" the most during these food eliminations, always wondering how our menus are going to change. I continued to avoid dairy, corn, and most gluten. I do so because I feel better when I don't eat these food groups. These periods of allowing my body to rest are interesting; I never know how I'm going to feel when it's all done.

The key word here is feel. Listening to the signals and messages of the body is not a new subject on this blog. However, there is something unique about food elimination. On the surface, this may appear harsh or particularly difficult, but in my experience, time and space become available for other activities including contemplation and self-reflection., and in the end I'm left feeling vibrant.

During these times when the body is taking a break from its usual fare, I think of my ancestors. How I wish I could cook with my great grandmother, and I often use her mortar and pestle to feel close to her. I become ever more aware of the differences and similarities between my life and beliefs and my ancestors'. They would say, "food nourishes the soul and feeds the body" - focusing on the ritual of eating and food as the center of family life. I would say, "food nourishes the body and the soul" - focusing on the nutrients of the food as they nourish the cells. The ritual is important, but the ingredients even more.

When the body and mind rest, awareness grows, at least for me. Here's what I've been thinking today. They weren't consumed with whether or not their food was organic or locally grown - it just was. I work hard to support local, organic farms. They appreciated, at the physical and emotional level, the gift of nature, and so do I. The women cooked in the kitchen, exclusively, from scratch, using whole foods; me too. As I think of these, I'm so grateful to the women for their love and sacrifice for the family.

They might not have understood a food elimination, but they didn't need to - their food was whole, simple, and nutrient rich. I hope to convey that vibrancy in the book's recipes that will be shared.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Story

After a brain-storming session with my business partner, the story behind the cookbook has come more fully into the light. I'm very excited to begin laying out recipes and stories. I can see and feel the structure of the book, and while this has taken more time than I anticipated, the creative process cannot be rushed. The details of the book are, by far, the most enjoyable for me.

The spring time will be full of experimentation - cooking those old family recipes in a vegan way. Before that starts, I'll be writing and organizing. More importantly, I'll be continuing to add food back in my diet - whole grains, or whole wheat pastry flour to be more specific, is the last of the foods I need to add back in. Once I am back on the grains, veganizing the family recipes can begin. Looking forward to that!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Catch Up

Since the holidays, life has been a blur. Winter has hit us hard, and the Christmas holiday trumped any other activities, particularly updating the blog. January is typically a transition month for me with cleaning, organizing and setting my intentions for the new year. Early January, I guided a group of enthusiastic women i the creation of their own vision seed map. This is a powerful tool for discovering what is buried deep in the subconscious that we can put to work for the manifestation f our dreams and desires.

Cooking classes will resume in March after a full month of nutritional seminars in February. The cookbook is on the agenda, and I'm looking forward to getting back to it. 2010 is beginning with a lot of unexpected personal surprises, mostly positive. What I had planned for the first part of the year is quickly shifting. Just going with the flow and doing what I love.

In the fall, I made the decision to do another liver detox and food elimination for the month of January. While I've completed the initial 28 days, adding foods back into my diet actually takes several more weeks. I just added soy back with very little problems, and soon I will add back whole grains - gluten. The process is different each time, regardless of previous experience. This time around, I was more lightheaded than before. The purpose of the cleanse is to cleanse the body of toxins and give the body a rest, specifically the liver, from the foods that are most allergenic and inflammatory. Since I don't eat meat, processed foods, processed sugars and flours, and I don't drink coffee or alcohol, eliminating soy and wheat were the biggies.

The experience of pulling away from food for a month or more and examining my dependence and belief system around food is always fascinating. There are always deeper releases that go beyond the physical body, and this time was no exception. On the one hand, my body feels so light and energized, and there's grief, too, from not being able to eat certain foods. You would think I was going to be without food for the rest of my life! The inner struggle is interesting to observe, and I highly recommend this process - it's life changing.

There is much on the horizon this coming year, and I look forward to sharing the progress of the cookbook.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Well, the holidays have come and gone, well sort of - it's only January 3rd. Everyone I talked to this year said similar things - the holiday season felt different from years past. I agree, and I wonder, "What are the holidays supposed to feel like?" Several situations arose where I chose not to participate in the meal ritual, i.e. drinking wine, eating cheese, and this caused a moment of angst for some of my family. This is nothing unusual - family is generally the first to question any food choices that differ from the status quo, especially during the holidays. I'm used to it by now.

Why do we put so much importance on the where, when, and what of things? How about just being grateful for having family present, grateful for our health, grateful for the abundance in our lives? I guess we're creatures of habit. For me, I really don't care what other people eat on the holidays. Christmas is still Christmas with or without certain foods.

I believe that we are redefining our lives, some of us consciously, and others unconsciuosly. Nonetheless, significant life events are going to feel different as the energy shifts around us. In the end, nothing stays the same. Change is inevitable.

My mom and I cooked this holiday, and I refined my vegan chocolate chip recipe. Yum! We enjoyed those cookies all season. I decided to experiment in the kitchen with millet and brown rice, and that was interesting. We were attempting to make croquettes without using eggs, and that is possible, but certainly not usual. Somewhere during our second attempt, my mom said, "My grandmother is turning over in her grave." We both laughed. Polenta and arborio rice were the extent of their "grains", and eggs were a staple. We finally got it work, and the croquettes were delicious.

I say, let's worry less about how it used to be or how we think it ought to be, and create our lives moment by moment according to our individual truth. My truth may not be yours. That's okay. We can live in peace and harmony despite our differences.