Monthly Archives: June 2013

wednesday wisdom: the soul

be still, heart.

be still, heart.

The soul is the same in all living creatures although the body of each is different.
Hippocrates

 

 

meatless monday: mind your Peas and Qs

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According to my beautifully designed and superhelpful New York Produce Calendar, June is the best month to enjoy fresh peas. Huzzah! Like other dreaded vegetables from childhood, peas have come a long way from their sad days of hiding under mashed potatoes and getting pushed around on a plate and/or ending up on the floor for the dog.

Peas are now front and center, especially when fresh, in this minty, spicy, early summer salad treat. A breeze to make. A real crowd pleaser. From the always lovely 101 Cookbooks.

Fresh Pea Salad with Mint Date Dressing
via 101 Cookbooks, serves 2-4

1 c. fresh mint leaves
2 dried dates, pitted
1/2 of a small serrano chile, stem removed
squeeze of fresh lemon juice and zest from that lemon
1 1/2 c. fresh peas
1 small head of romaine lettuce, shredded
1/2 c. toasted pumpkin seeds
sea salt & pepper

For the mint-date dressing:
Puree mint, dates, chiles and lemon juice and zest in a food processor. Blend until uniform in texture. Thin it out by adding a tablespoon of water at a time until it is a consistency that you can drizzle. Taste and adjust for lemon and spiciness.

Fill a big bowl with ice water and set aside. Add some salt (as you would pasta water) and the peas. Bring six cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the peas and flash boil, somewhere between 10-20 seconds. You want them just barely tender, so they still pop in your mouth. Quickly drain and dunk the peas in the bowl of ice water.

Just before serving gently toss peas, lettuce, and pumpkin seeds with about half of the dressing and a couple pinches of salt. Taste and add more dressing if you like. Finish with a pinch or two of your favorite finishing salt and pepper.

wednesday wisdom: keep it simple

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Everything in excess is opposed to nature.
Hippocrates

june spotlight on: manipura (solar plexus) chakra

We’ve been taking a closer look at the Chakras each month. Chakras are centers of prana (energy, life force) that align down the spine and correspond to vital points in the physical body. Brush up on the significance of the seven main chakras here, take this quiz to find out which of your chakras are under/overactive, and take a peak at the last two months, in case you’ve forgotten: Muladhara and Svadhishthana.

Manipura Chakra. Courtesy of Fit Yoga Magazine.

Manipura Chakra. Courtesy of Fit Yoga Magazine.

Manipura (Solar Plexus, or Navel) Chakra is the gateway to the more esoteric Chakras, what we sometimes call the “Higher Chakras.” Working our way up from our Root and Sacral Chakras, the heavy elements of earth (our foundation and survival) and water (our family, sexuality and creativity) give way to fire: our personal strength and power. Working with the third Chakra accesses and teaches you to trust your gut instinct, assert yourself around others, and make decisions and judgments with wisdom.

At its best, a balanced Manipura Chakra supports concentration, focus, clear vision and confidence. You have no issues with being assertive and have a strong sense of self. Even more, a balanced Manipura Chakra draws from the grounded qualities of the earth (creating mental and emotional stability, drawing from your realness, humanness), and then allows your spirituality to shine through. Physically, the benefits of having Manipura in harmony include excellent digestion, strong muscles and joints, boundless energy, calm nerves, mental clarity and overall A+ wellness (Manipura, at the gut, is really the seat of our vitality).

An under-active Manipura leads to timidity and passiveness, losing your voice in a group. It’s hard to make decisions, and when you do, you likely lack the confidence to stand up for what you want. On a physical level, you might suffer from a weakened immune system and have issues with indigestion and infections.

An overactive Manipura means your ego makes all the decisions (instead of your wisdom), and you come off as aggressive, domineering and judgmental. You might have an overtly strong sense of self (a strong foundation), but without the wisdom and compassion from your spirit, you tend towards negativity and insensitivity.

The good news is that pretty much every style of yoga and pranayama (from restorative to power flow) works with this Chakra to balance it out and create strength. Specifically, the Warriors (including Warrior II, pictured above) tend to hone in your concentration and give you assertive energy while keeping you grounded (and egoless). I also find that the Sun Salutations do wonders for the body and mind. So does Treta Bandha.

When meditating, visualize yellow, Manipura’s primary fiery color. Draw your focus to the Solar Plexus (where the ribcage fans out around the navel), and intuit your personal power as a long-burning fire. Imagine that you’re stoking the fire to stoke strength, creating energy to accomplish your projects, and learning to put trust in your instincts.