Preparing for Spring

My daughter scampered into our bedroom this morning early as the sun was just thinking of rising. As she burrowed under the covers she said, “Mama I hear the birds chirping.” Half asleep I replied, “Uh-huh” and snuggled her close and fell back asleep. An hour or so later as I opened my eyes for the day the first thing I saw looking up and out the window was clear blue sky.

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At drop off for school this morning it was undeniable that the “sugar snow” we had last week has awoken the grass and everyday it gets greener. It feels like spring is awakening around here.

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I feel it inside of myself as well, a certain kind of renaissance is happening. I feel inspired and motivated.

In Chinese Medicine the natural state of the Liver energy is to flourish. The liver has a hand in helping all systems function most optimally so it is especially ideal to let the liver flourish. The spring is when the liver and gall baldder are most active.

If you missed Yogapuncture for Spring in Crystal Lake last week you have two more chances to come to class. Next Saturday March 18th at Ohm Mother Yoga in West Dundee and Saturday March 25th at Blu Rain Yoga in Antioch.

Join me for gentle, mindful movement to improve circulation and cleanse the internal organs. Learn gentle ways to cleanse the liver energy. Leave class feeling a little lighter ready to flourish this Spring. I can’t wait to see you there!

 

What’s for Dinner Preparing for Spring

I didn’t make a shopping list last week because we had so many left overs from my daughter’s birthday party and extra odds and ends around the house. It was kind of fun to be creative with what we had, clean out the fridge and not waste food.

Sometimes dinner looks like this and that’s ok :)

left over garlic soup with a side of chicken quesadilla or cauliflower grilled cheese with shredded pork, rice and beans for the kids on a messy dinner table

left over garlic soup with a side of chicken quesadilla or cauliflower grilled cheese with shredded pork, rice and beans for the kids on a messy dinner table

I taught Yogapuncture for Spring in Crystal Lake Friday night over at Bonnie’s. It was, as usual a lovely evening and we talked a little about spring foods and how to keep a happy, healthy liver energy. (there’s two more opportunities for Spring yogapuncture this month at OhmMother Yoga  in West Dundee and Blu Rain Yoga in Antioch too)

Because we are in transition dinners will have some yellow foods to nourish the spleen energy (the spirit of transition) some warm foods since its technically still winter and some green and lighter foods of traditional spring.

What are you in the mood for, for dinner?

Crock pot spaghetti squash and meat balls (first time giving this recipe a go but I love the concept)

Almond crusted salmon with garlic mustard aoli on a bed of lemony creamed spinach (look for a recipe this week)

Pork Chops (they were on sale at the farmer’s market, I’ll be cooking them and serving them alongside some asparagus and mashed cauliflower)

Skillet Gnocchi with white beans and chard (one of my favorite dinners!)

Homemade Rueben sandwiches

Illness as Meditation 

My little bear is quite sick, it seems he’s saved a whole winter’s worth of sickies for right now. Being a little one’s everything can give someone quite a lot of time to think.

It’s hard being still. I’m not good at it. I don’t think most Americans are.


Last week we spied our tulips peeking out. Oh no! I thought, it’s quite possible we will get a frost or snow. So I gathered stray leaves and made blankets for all the sproutlings confused about this mild winter. Why don’t I extend that same level of compassion to myself? Nothing in nature is always blooming and yet we skimp on restoration for ourselves and then wonder why we are always so tired. 

Spring is a becoming. Hardy plants grow deep, strong roots. Illness is not comfortable but it happens. Perhaps running from pain and unpleasantries makes us weaker and more frail. Like the hardy plants, leaning into it makes us stronger. 

Join me Friday in Crystal Lake for Yogapuncture for Spring. We will be working on keeping strong roots in the spring, working with the emotion of anger and talking about what it means to cleanse. There a few spots left just for you :) 

What’s For Dinner Week 5

Am I the only one walking around in redundant awe of how warm and sunny it is in the middle of February?! Wow, its seriously blowing my mind in the best way. In tribute to this spring like weather I’ve included some springy dinners for this week balanced with some slow cooked shredded chicken burritos and pulled pork sandwiches. Enjoy that sunshine!

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What’s for dinner this week?

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with shredded cabbage

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Fish Tacos with Mango Kiwi Salsa

Chicken Burritos with Cilantro Lime Rice

lasagna

Spinach Artichoke Lasagna

 

 

 

Mango Kiwi Salsa

We’ve been having such an unusual “winter” this year. I hope you’ve been enjoying the mild weather and sun shine as much as I have. This salsa was inspired by the season of transition from winter to spring. The flavor of winter and the kidney system is salt, the flavor of the spleen system and transitions is sweet, and the flavor of spring and the liver system is sour. This salsa has a little bit of each flavor and its quite tasty and easy to make. You can enjoy it all through the spring time too as the sour flavors and cilantro have a gentle detoxifying effect on the body. We enjoyed it yesterday at a very special Yogapuncture for Balance with couples, hosted by Jill Eggert at Malooley Chiropractic in Cary.

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What you need:

2 Mangos, cubed (spleen)

3 Kiwis, cubed (Liver)

1 punch of cilantro chopped (Liver)

Juice of one Lime, or more to taste as you desire (Liver)

A pinch of salt to taste (Kidney)

Corn Tortilla Chips (Spleen/Kidney)

What you do:

Mix everything together and let stand. Eat at room temperature. Refrigerate to retain freshness, eat in 1-3 days. Enjoy!

Preparing for Spring, Yogapuncture Sneak Peak

We do yogapuncture with the seasons but there is always something happening in the body and our environment. If you’ve been curious about what yogapuncture is (a self care class!) read on and get a tiny peak in. If you’ve been coming to yogapuncture here is a tiny peak in what is going on as we look forward to spring. :)

February is the time of preparation for Spring! Even if it doesn’t feel like it. The energy that has been deep in the Kidneys all winter is starting to make its way back. The kidneys store our congenital qi or energy. This the energy given to us by our parents and could be considered the genetics of your body.

The Spleen/Stomach system which is active in periods of transition is continuously supplying the Kidney qi with new energy. Recall the old equation da qi + gu qi = zhen qi What this means is that the air we breathe and the food we eat gives us available energy to use. Any surplus is given to the kidneys for storage in times of need. Now is the time to fill the savings account so to speak so the body is prepared for the transition to spring. It is very common to get sick, worn down, allergies etc in spring because of depletion.

Ways to nourish the spleen: eating yellow foods, especially root veggies. Start to incorporate more veggies and meatless meals to give the spleen/stomach a break from the rich, heavy foods of winter.

Here is an almost perfect meal for the transition from winter to spring. Don’t worry it tastes pretty good too! Mung Bean Stew with Eggplant and Mushrooms

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Chinese Medicine believes that colds and other sickness can “attack” the body from wind, especially blowing on the back of the neck. It’s especially important to keep your neck protected while you sleep, so avoid fans blowing directly on you or sleeping with a window open when its windy out. Its tempting when the weather breaks (and it will!) to change from winter to spring clothes quickly. Make sure that if you do go out in an open shirt to wear a scarf to protect your neck.

Here is a fun way to wear a scarf. 

One way to strengthen your neck to keep the wind out is to practice this exercise throughout the day especially if you sit in front of a computer for an extended period of time or while driving. You can do it at each stop light as you get good at remembering.

In Chinese Medicine the kidneys control the bones and the spleen controls the muscles. A misconception is that muscles should do all the work. The foundation of proper health, movement etc is stacking the bones of the body first. Healthy muscles contract when working and relax at rest. When the bones are properly aligned the muscles simply hug the bones in support without effort.

To avoid injury don’t lengthen or strengthen muscles if the bones are not properly lined up.

Stay healthy friends and I’ll see you at the Spring Yogapuncture(s) in March!

Crystal Lake Bonnie Ricica March 3rd,

West Dundee OhmMother Yoga March 18th

Antioch Blu Rain Yoga March 25th!

 

 

“Healthy” Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you are looking for a treat but trying to limit white sugar this is a pretty nice good compromise. :) I love baking cookies probably to eat the cookie dough. Its hard to stop sneaking tastes once I start. What I found with this recipe is that I could take or leave it. The cookies left me satisfied and I didn’t end up with a stomach ache from cookie dough/cookie overload. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. :)

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What you need:

10 dates (soaked for 1 hour)

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup honey, local if possible

1 egg

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1.5 cup flour

1/2 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup chocolate chips

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. Cream butter and dates in food processor.
  3. Put mixture into mixing bowl and mix honey and egg with butter and dates.
  4. Add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Bake at 375 for 9-11 minutes

Makes appx 2 dozen cookies

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Enjoy!

Sausage, Black Beans and Rice Bowl

This recipe has evolved quite a bit over the years, it barely resembles the original recipe that came in the cookbook from my crock pot that is called Creole Black Beans. Its a staple in our house because the kids love it. This week my daughter actually asked for thirds! I like to make this with breakfast sausage but any sausage will do, you could even make it vegetarian if you wanted. Its a perfect warm your belly winter meal.

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What you need:

3 cans black beans, drained or dried beans just add extra salt

1 chopped onion

3 cloves of garlic

2 chopped green pepper

1 pound ground sausage or patties

1 can of tomato paste or tomato sauce

Spices to taste: (1 Tbsp) cumin, (1 tsp) black pepper, (1.5 tsp)salt, (1 tsp)garlic powder, (1 tsp) oregano, (pinch) chile pepper

1 cup of water (this is optional I’ve also made without, if making with tomato sauce you don’t need it unless you want it to be more like a chili consistency)

What you do:

Throw everything in crock pot and cook for whatever time you need 4-10 hours

Serve with a rice and avocado

Enjoy!

 

What’s for Dinner Week 4

Have you ever woken up from a deep sleep and felt fuzzy or disoriented? That’s almost how the weather feels lately, doesn’t it? Some days the sun is shining and its warm and feels like spring and then the gloom and chill settles back in. It is almost like mother nature can’t decide, hit the snooze or go to the gym. This is the transition time from winter to spring. It takes awhile to wake back up and sometimes it might even feel like we are still dreaming.

In Chinese Medicine transition times are when the spleen/stomach system are most active. You can think of this as the core of our bodies, the center. Foods that are bland or mildly sweet (like wheat and sweet potatoes), and yellow and orange foods deeply nourish the spleen/stomach and digestion and help keep us grounded in times of transition.

I’ve included recipes this week for my family to help nourish the spleen system. Check back for a new chocolate chip recipe I’ve been playing with later this week too.

coconutsoup

Coconut Lime Butternut Squash Soup

Yellow Curry Chicken and Vegetables (basically crock pot chicken in trader joe’s curry with broccoli and peas over rice) :)

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

Corned beef and cabbage

homemade pizza

 

What are you cooking up this week?