Mermaid Days

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This is a picture of me from when I lived in Hawaii.

Today, I look out my window at another cold and rainy Pacific Northwest day. This has been like the rainiest winter in history up here. Even though the first day of Spring was officially yesterday (yay!), the weather pays no heed up here. It still looks and feels like winter – and I am over winter already.

After living in Hawaii for almost ten years, my husband Josh and I moved out here because we thought it would be better to raise our kids here – that there is more to offer them here. We have lived in Washington state for almost three years and we have weighed the two against each other and have come to a realization that there is no one place that is better to raise our kids. Where we belong is where it is best to raise our kids. The islands are like a part of us. The ocean is the closest thing to heaven on earth I have ever experienced. Josh surfs and is eager to teach our kids. I swim like a mermaid.

And so, we return to Hawaii soon (hallelujah).

I have learned so much through this journey, though. Josh and I have grown much closer – and we have grown so close as a family with our kids. The specific bond between us resulting from this adventure could not have been built any other way.

And the Pacific Northwest is a truly beautiful place. The mountains, the Sound, the pure air, the abundant water – the list goes on. It rocks up here.

Also on this journey I discovered my sensitivity to gluten, which has been life-changing. I understand my body more than I ever have, AND I learned how to make soup, and have since created some amazing recipes, which I will continue to share.

I will also post soon about the fiction books I published based on my mermaid days of living in Hawaii.

These pictures are of me on a boat in the ocean, setting out on a mermaid adventure. It has been a while since I have had a mermaid day, and I can’t wait to have another.

For now, we continue to hope for spring, even though we can’t see it yet. We focus on getting the kids though the last months of the school year – go kids! And I do yoga to light an inner fire to warm these CD days.Maybe I will go make a soup now. Wishing you a good first week of spring!

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Winter Warm-up Soup

It is cold up here in the Pacific Northwest! At the beginning of the month, we had some  days where the world was softened with white, sounds muted by the quiet snow. Now it finally feels as if  the heart of winter has passed, and that Spring is just around the corner. But it isn’t here yet, and I look out my window at another grey, wet day.

I haven’t written here for a couple of months. January was full of activity, with both my daughter and my birthday’s, along with all the regular busyness of raising kids.

Then, during  the snow days, both my husband and son got the flu. It hit my little six-year old and held him down for days. It was hard to take care of him at the same time that I felt his suffering, almost as my own. Thankfully that is behind us, and health has been restored!

How do we warm ourselves up and keep our internal fire burning strong through this cold season? As usual, my remedy is born in the kitchen. I had this soup in the crock pot during our snowy days and it truly fortified me for all that I had to take care of. My family LOVES it when I make this, and I know it fortifies them, too.

Rosemary smells amazing. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, and helps keep our memory healthy. Living with Hashimoto’s, a memory boost is much appreciated 🙂  Garlic is a wonder plant. It has anti-bacterial properties that give our GI tract a tune-up. Garlic backs up the ‘good guys’ within our micrbiome – the little world going on within our bodies. Pepper is a powerhouse this time of year. Black pepper helps dry out any excess phlegm in the system. It also gives our internal fire extra pep – something we all need this time of year in the Northern hemisphere.

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ON CUTTING VEGETABLES

I invite you to make this soup. Cutting vegetables is a truly soothing activity, so even if you feel too tired, or too busy to try making this, consider taking a Sunday afternoon, or any time you have free, and doing it anyway. Put on your favorite music, use it as a time to BREATHE deeply and evenly. It always amazes me how centered I feel while I’m cutting vegetables. Maybe having our hands on earth’s bounty somehow makes us feel more connected to the natural environment. Whatever the reason, making this soup feels like a healing activity for me. And it is YUMMY.

RECIPE for WINTER WARM-UP SOUP

First we create the broth. I have talked about the numerous benefits of bone broth in other posts. It will strengthen you from the inside out!

Broth

1. Buy quality grass-fed beef bones. Neck bones are fabulous, and it’s good if they have some meat still on.

2. Roast a few bones in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes, to bring out a yummy flavor.

3. Place bones in large stock pot and cover with 4 quarts of filtered water. You can easily double the amount by adding more bones and more water.

4. Add a couple tablespoons apple cider vinegar.

5. Let it sit without heat for twenty minutes. The vinegar will begin to pull minerals from the bones.

6. Add sea salt and ground black pepper. Bring to a boil for a couple of minutes.

7. Turn the heat to low, cover and let it simmer for 24 to 30 hours.

Soup Recipe

Slice three organic sweet onions and add them to a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil over a medium-low heat. Add five cloves of garlic, and lots of fresh rosemary leaves. Sprinkle pepper over the mix. Stir often and let the onions lightly glaze.

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Cut up your veggies. I use lots of zucchini, some red potatoes, sweet potatoes or yams, purple potatoes and carrots. Put these veggies into your crock pot. Scoop the top layer of fat off your broth with a ladle and pour it onto your veggies, careful to keep the bones out of the crock pot. Add the onion mixture, a generous amount of additional pepper, a few more garlic cloves, and sea salt to the pot. Browned beef chunks are also an option; I personally like it without beef chunks better, but both ways are good. Simmer on high for five hours, and enjoy. You can turn the heat to low and keep it in the pot for 24 hours, eating as desired. Keeping this in your system for a couple of days will fortify you, warm you up, and make you strong! The picture below shows my soup right as it’s starting to simmer in the crock pot. After it’s cooked, it will look more like stew. Oh so good!

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A Clear View

Today and tomorrow I am doing a mini-cleanse. I am only eating two foods at each meal. While this sounds boring, it is very beneficial for the digestive system to take a rest from sorting out how to digest a bunch of different foods, especially if our system is sensitive. And, there is no starvation involved in this cleanse; it is nourishing as well as healing.

There is a lot going on for people right now, and a lot of information out there to be ‘digested’. Not only does our body have to digest and assimilate all the food that we eat, but our system must also digest and assimilate all of our experiences, including what we read or pictures we see. It is healthy to give our bodies a rest. Eating simply allows this to happen. As the physical body has less to deal with, the energy can be turned to digesting other layers of stimuli and information, preventing back-up and overwhelm.

I made a big pot of Kitcharee (I’ve written about this dish in other posts) – a one-pot meal developed in India. Sometimes I use more spices, like in the recipe I gave previously. But this time I made a simpler dish, using only turmeric – the amazing spice with powerhouse health and anti-inflammatory properties – and pepper. A little pepper tastes wonderful with turmeric, and it  assists the body in deriving top benefits from it.

I also made a delicious soup. At each meal, I have a bowl of Kitcharee that I heat in my cast iron skillet with a little ghee, and a big mug of my soup, which is so creamy and nice to drink from a mug. This soup is very healing and nourishing, with a bone broth base offering many amino acids and minerals that the body can use to repair itself, as needed.

If you decide to do a little cleanse, we can cheers our mugs together, virtually.

Using a journal can be very helpful when we cleanse. Thoughts and emotions may surface, and writing about them makes it easy to sort them out, or release them. This time of year supports the practice of letting go of what no longer serves us on the levels of body, mind and spirit. Just as the trees let go of their leaves in glorious bursts of color, we too can shed old layers with beauty and grace.

To make the Kitcharee:

1 cup uncooked organic basmati rice – soaked (Soak your rice in water for around 24 hours to make it easier to digest.Just before cooking, drain the water you soaked it in, leaving only the rice)

1 cup  green mung dahl – soaked (Same process as with the rice) This legume can be found in the bulk section of a good health food store. It is the easiest lentil type food to digest.

5 tablespoons organic ghee

3 tablespoons organic turmeric

one half tablespoon black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

8 cups pure water

To prepare:

In a big stockpot, melt the ghee over low heat.

Add the turmeric and pepper, continually stirring. When the mixture has a paste-like quality, add the rice, stirring it in well. Stir in the mung beans. Add the water and salt  and turn the heat up to high. Allow the mixture to boil for about three minutes, then cover and turn the heat down. Simmer for around forty-five minutes, until the water is gone and you have a soft porridge.

For dinner on the two days of my cleanse,  I saute some zucchini in a little coconut oil to have with the meal.

To make the soup:

First make broth, which is a 24-hour process, but quite easy.

Use quality, grass-fed beef bones. Neck bones with a little meat work well.  Roast 3 or 4 bones in the oven at 325 for 30 minutes, to bring out a good flavor. It’s fine if bones have meat on them, this is good. Place bones in large soup pot and cover with a quart and a cup of filtered water.  Add a tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Let it sit without heat for a half hour. The vinegar will begin to pull minerals from the bones.

Bring to a boil for a few minutes. Then turn the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for 24-30 hours.

24-30 hours later…

Cut two butternut squashes into a couple inch long cubes, no peel. Toss these in melted ghee to lightly coat them. Roast squash for forty minutes at 375, stirring with a spatula after twenty minutes.

When squash has fifteen minutes left, put four cloves of garlic in their peels on a sheet and stick in the oven.

Squish the garlic out of the peel and into a blender with a cup or two of the broth. Add some roasted squash – you will probably have to do it in batches – and puree until creamy.

Pour this into a crock pot. Add a few pinches sea salt.

Simmer on low for four hours.

Both the soup and the kitcharee can be stored in the fridge and warmed up over the stove as needed.

A pic of my mug of soup, and one from the hike we did last month. A figurative new viewpoint is likely after we complete a cleanse. A clear view is inspiring.