Enjoying the calm in between the busy

Hi everyone! I mentioned a couple posts back that I graduated at the beginning of this month…so groovy… And I will be continuing on this August to complete my masters and graduate again next May 2015. In the meantime, I have had some extra time in my mornings before I head to work in the afternoon. It’s a funny thing, because I am naturally pretty busy… At least I have been since starting school. I’m used to running from thing to thing with very little spaces in between, but still breathing and loving it all! Now that I have this time, I have been sleeping in, practicing yoga, getting to know some other beautiful souls in the yoga world and local studios though teaching more kids yoga, connecting more w my pups, beaching, reading, writing, playing, meditating and making yummy food, of course! I feel like I am properly welcoming in the summer! 🙂

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Things will be picking up here very soon, though, so I am enjoying waking up slow in the mornings. Come mid July, I am off to my home town in Ohio for a month to complete my 200 hour registered yoga teacher training! I am so excited I can’t stand it! It is a dream come true to finally be able to do this and I can’t wait to learn more about myself, my body, strengthen my practice and share the beauty of yoga to even more people! So grateful! Happy Summer!

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I did mention that I have had more time to try new recipes out, didn’t I? Here is a new one, but also kind of old. One of my very first posts, I did a Mac & Cheese with a butternut squash sauce inspired by the beautiful http://www.celineeatsavocados.com. This is a reinvention of that with a yummy twist!

Baked Mac & Cheese with a Cauliflower-Butternut Squash Sauce

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You will need:
Pasta noodles (I like the gluten free quinoa ones)
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons of earth balance butter
1/4 cup veggie stock
1/2 of a cauliflower head
1 cup of butternut squash (I bought frozen organic bs and steamed it)
1 tsp salt
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon thyme
Pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2-3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1-2 cups peas (again, I used frozen peas and just steamed them)
1 cup gluten free bread crumbs

To Prepare:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Steam the butternut squash (if you bought frozen) and cauliflower while you boil the pasta noodles. Boil noodles just until it is slightly tender and then drain water. When you are finished steaming and boiling, add the cauliflower, butternut squash, veggie stock, 1/4 cup earth balance, almond milk, nutritional yeast and spices all together and blend until it turns into a creamy sauce. Taste tests are welcome! You may need to add more almond milk or butter or spices to get the taste and texture that you desire! Measurements are not 100% accurate because I found myself adding a little of this and that…but, they are pretty close to accurate! Also, steam your green peas! When you are finished processing and steaming peas, butter a glass baking dish with a little earth balance butter and pour the pasta noodles in followed by the dreamy sauce you just made and gently mix the sauce through the noodles. Then, add your steamed peas and gently mix them through. In a small pan, add your 3 tablespoons of earth balance butter and the cup of bread crumbs and in a medium heat mix the crumbs together with the butter. When butter seems to be melted and they are melted together, remove from heat and gently sprinkle the bread crumbs over top of the mac and cheese in the glass baking dish. Place in the oven for maybe 15-25 minutes. It should get golden brown on top. When finished, let cool, taste test, serve and enjoy!

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Light & Love,
Amanda

Drop the plans and make a pizza

I woke up this rainy Florida morning, summer trying to push through with her humidity and glory, and I read my lesson from A Course in Miracles like I do every morning when I am rising. Every lesson is perfectly put together to unfold in such a way; like layer upon layer to produce this beautiful masterpiece that I am finding out lies within me.
Today’s lesson 135, talks about planning; plans, plans and more plans on top of to-do lists, right? How many of you do this? I know I do. Plans for the day, plans for the month, and plans for the year. I have come to learn that planning is another sneaky trick used by the ego. The Course says that “the mind engaged in planning for itself is occupied in setting up control for future happenings” based out of fear. I began to think about this and how exhausting it is for me. There are so many moments throughout my days where I am busy planning for what’s next instead of living in what’s now! And, it is all because my ego tells me that it is important to have a plan, to make me think that I am in control because, God forbid, if I wasn’t in control something terrible could happen?!! But, then I think to myself what it would look like if I didn’t plan every single detail, allowed room for change and lived like I knew I was being guided every step of the way? When I am busy planning, I’m blocking the unexpected groovy flow of life from streaming in. And, this is not suggesting that we shouldn’t plan, because having a plan is productive, but it becomes unproductive when my attachment to it is interrupting my daily flow of life. Ya dig?

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After I read my lesson, I took time to release my senseless planning and let it soak in through mediation. It was comical to watch my mind dance around and do her thing. I started off in the moment and then, before I knew it, I was planning and thinking about work this afternoon… Ah, but then, I caught myself, and I was able to get right back to soaking up the moment that I was in. My mind did this dance a few times until it settled in the moment and I heard the love trickle in. Beautiful guidance from God/Universe/Spirit/Inner Guide streamed in assuring me that I am where I am supposed to be, things are under control and giving me permission to release my reins on the future an soak up the love in the present moment. When I did this, I felt nothing but love and light flow through me, which allowed my mind and body to release and relax. Then, I finished up the meditation with a beautiful light bath. I imagined raindrops, swollen with light, pouring down on me and coating me with a luminescence that I will carry with me throughout my day!
And, I will leave you with this final quote from The Course, “A healed mind does not plan…If there are plans to make, you will be told of them. They may not be the plans you thought were needed, nor indeed the answers to the problems which you thought confronted you. But they are answers to anther kind of question which, remains unanswered yet in need of answering until the answer comes to you at last.”

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So, I hope that you soak up the idea of not planning and letting your day unfold as it will, opening yourself to new opportunities and groovy love-filled moments that are awaiting you! I am not saying to withhold all planing, because it is necessary in many cases…but just notice when your mind is on “I gotta plan” overdrive and give yourself permission to detach from the plan if it fluctuates and enjoy what comes forth in your moments!

And, it is always good to plan meals! 🙂 I am confident to say that eating is necessary! Let me do the planning for you here…

This first beauty is inspired by on of my favorite vegan restaurants in south Florida, Christopher’s Kitchen! They have a pizza called the Biancoverde Pizza, that looks spectacular, but I did not get to taste it because it is not gluten free, wah! So, I took it upon myself to the-create the pizza with a gluten free crust and a few little twists.

And I call it the….

Pizza Fantasia

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You will need:
Crust:
3/4 cup quinoa, soaked in water for at least 8 hours (very important!)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 clove of garlic
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1/4 cup water, maybe (for consistency)

Macademia Ricotta
1 cup macademia nuts
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh squeezed lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
A little water, for consistency

Toppings:
Arugula
Yellow onion, roasted
3-5 medjool dates, pitted
Avocado
Grape tomatoes, cut in half
Pumpkin seeds
Thyme, to taste
Oregano, to taste
Red pepper flakes or chili pepper flakes, to taste

To prepare:
Prepare your crust first. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put the tablespoon of coconut oil in a round 8 inch cake pan. Then drain the quinoa as best as you can. Add the quinoa into a food processor with the salt and garlic and blend until the texture turns into a dough-like consistency. If the texture is too thick, you may need to add a little bit of water. Blend until smooth. Then pour the dough into the coconut oil coated pan and put in the oven for about 7 to 10 minutes. The crust should start to turn golden brown and crispy. When the crust is done baking on the one side, then flip it over and bake in the oven for another 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and let cool. While your crust is cooling, you can mix together the macadamia nut ricotta. Clean out the food processor, and add in the macadamia nuts, salt, lemon juice and water. Slowly add the water a little bit at a time. You want the texture to be similar to ricotta cheese, so not too watery. Also, you may want to slice up some of the onion (just enough for top of pizza) and put in the oven on parchment paper in pan and roast for a few minutes before adding to pizza. When your crust is completely cooled, first lather on the macadamia ricotta cheese. Then sprinkle on your spices, thyme , oregano and the chili flakes. Then, add arugula, topped off with the roasted onions, dates, avocado, the grape tomato halves and pumpkin seeds. You may want to top off with a few sprinkles from each of the spices one more time. Cut the pizza into slices, serve and enjoy a mouthful of Fantasia!

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My next creation was inspired by my girl, http://www.celineeatsavocados.com. Her dreamy recipe is Banana Walnut Cinnamon Freezer Fudge, mmmmm! I did not have walnuts on hand, so I improvised and came up with something just as delish!

Cinnamon Banana Hemp Seed Freezer Fudge

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You will need:
1 cup hemp seeds
1 banana
1/8-1/4 cup coconut oil
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
Toppings (optional): dairy free chocolate chips, nuts, chia seeds…
Mini cupcake wrappers

To prepare:
In a food processor, blend together hemp seeds, coconut oil, maple syrup banana and cinnamon until creamy. Then, pour about a tablespoon or so into the mini cupcake wrappers, add toppings if you wish and then place them in the fridge to stiffen up, for about 1-2 hours before enjoying. Great for a morning, afternoon or evening treat! 😉

Light & Love,
Amanda

Graduate.

Hi everyone!
Ahhh, it feels good to be writing. I have been bouncing around and around trying to keep up with all of these groovy shifts taking place in my life.
I graduated this past weekend! Woohoo! The last couple of weeks have been filled with life celebrations, family time, selfies with girlfriends, catching up with old friends and planning for the future!

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As I have mentioned before in previous blog posts, the girl that moved down to Florida seven years ago is very different from the girl that waltzed across the stage to receive her diploma last Friday morning. Seven years ago, I made the best decision of my life and the first decision towards loving myself. Funny thing is, I didn’t even know it then. What I did know is that I needed help with getting out of the hell hole that I dug and so I transplanted from Ohio to treatment in Florida and never looked back. Almost three years into my recovery, I decided to give school another try. I was terrified. Up in Ohio, I went to two different universities in a year and a half, and for the first time ever, I drove my GPA straight into the ground. I had to drop out because of the unmanageability that drugs and alcohol had created in my life. I remember walking back onto a campus and not knowing what I wanted to do, how I was going to do it and if I would be successful. All of these questions were answered beautifully along the way. Every time I felt discouraged or scared, there was an advisor coaching me along, funds coming through at the right time for tuition, friends loaning me their books for studying, new acquaintances meeting for coffee to chat, my boss giving me the flexibility that I needed for classes, professors teaching me and rooting me on, the sweet and subtle voice of the Universe guiding me through and family members loving me the entire time. Every single time. Every single semester. I went from a broken soul-1 point something GPA- hopeless state of mind drug addict to a groovy-recovery thumpin’-yoga teachin’-light spreadin’-plant based eatin’ summa cum laude honors graduate! Blows my mind! All miracles, all love based! It’s funky to look back at my life and think that I have lived two lives in one lifetime. So, for all of you incredible people in my life that have been apart of this journey and have believed in me until I could believe in myself, you know who you are…thank you and I love you!

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What’s next, you ask!? Pure sweetness! I have been accepted into my school’s advanced standing masters program, which I will begin this fall 2014. This summer will be full of spreading yoga to the little yogis and getting my 200 RYT on to teach the big yogis! Keepin’ the light flowing! And, the fear still creeps in for these exciting upcoming things… Especially, questions like, “How will I pay for it all?” or “Will I be good enough?” These little thoughts can paralyze me,and lately, I have been noticing them and simply responding to myself with this beautiful Gabby Bernstein quote:

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Incredible, right? I can do anything. The power lies in my thoughts and this is confirmed more and more everyday.

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Along with family and friends this past weekend, I whipped up some new yummies inspired by Love & Lemons at http://www.loveandlemons.com/2013/04/10/chocolate-chip-carrot-cookies/.

Chocolate Chip Carrot Cookie Bites

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You will need:
-6 tablespoons of gluten free flour
-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 tablespoon ground flax seeds + -1.5 tablespoons water whisked together in a little bowl
-1/2 cup grated carrots
-1/4 cup coconut oil
-3 tablespoons brown sugar
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/4 cup gluten free oats
-1/4 cup gluten free/vegan chocolate chips

To Prepare:
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the ground flax seed with the water. Let that sit for a bit and gel up. In a food processor, pulse the carrots until they are a grated consistency. In the medium bowl flour, add in the grated carrots, coconut oil, brown sugar, vanilla and the flaxseed and mix until combined. Place the mixture in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Preheat the oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the mixture from the refrigerator and add in the gluten-free oats and the chocolate chips. Mix until combined. Then, using a tablespoon, scoop batter into balls and place on the cookie sheet at least a few inches apart from one another. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown and the edges become slightly crisp. Enjoy!

Here’s a quote that my beautiful yoga teacher shared at the end of a class a couple weeks ago. Tears were rolling down my cheeks as she read it. Have a great week!

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Light & Love,
Amanda

Ups & Downs & Upside-downs

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Hi everyone!
I will start off by saying that this week has been a little all over the place. It has gone up and down and upside-down more than once, and I am still belted in this roller coaster car, while occasionally putting my hands up in the air and letting out a huge scream! I must look at it in this light because when I can make stories out of my life, especially the sensitive and uncomfortable moments, then I can relax and move into acceptance about them, and ultimately, teach others to do the same.
My life has been full of miracles and miracles in disguise. Or, in other words, blessings and blessings in disguise. The miracles in disguise are tricky, though. Their disguises are so genius that I have a hard time identifying them as miracles because I am feeling feelings that really freak me out. And when I feel feelings that do this, I automatically want out and I react. I will give myself credit, I am much much better than I used to be at pausing when the uncomfortablilty arises because of the awareness and space that I have created, but, some feelings can feel really gross and my first thought is “get out!” when they show up. The thing is, when I get out or react too quickly, I miss what is really happening. Usually, I am so focused on the one star in the sky, that I miss all the others that are shining all around it, you know? There is something much bigger than me orchestrating things here and there is a natural order to things that is quite beautiful.
I have talked about my black present analogy before and I will again because I have been speaking about to to people all week and it rings true for me right now more than ever. The Universe gives me these gifts in life… Just like the miracles and the miracles in disguise… I will receive these gifts wrapped in all different packaging; some gifts come to me sprinkled with glitter, some are in bags with colorful tissue paper exploding out of them, some are bedazzled with ribbons and bows… I love those gifts! Bring em on! Then, some gifts come to me in black wrapping paper…with scorpions and snakes slithering all over and the most uninviting aura surrounding them …those I am quick to toss to the side. Who wants to see what’s inside of that package, right? Yeah, but if I pause with that black package, sit with it for a moment and wait for the scorpions and snakes to crawl away and the aura to settle, then I can slowly start to unwrap the black wrapping to see what’s inside. When I do this, I always find a beautiful lesson of love.
So, right now, in my life, I am sitting with my “black package.” It was delivered to me over the weekend, and I quickly discarded it as fast as I could. I felt the package calling me back, though… So, I went to my recycling bin (ha!), and grabbed the package back up. Are ya still with me here? 🙂 …The snakes and scorpions have crawled away, thankfully, and it is not as intimidating; there is even a sense of peace about the black package and my energy. I have begun to peel off the black paper, slowly, one piece at a time, because that is all I can handle, but I feel so loved and supported through it all by the Universe and Spirit. It is a beautiful process and I never thought I would I could admit that. I am anxious, but excited to see what kind of miracle lives inside.

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This week’s recipes are incredibly simple and deliscious! They are both vegan and gluten free spreads for toast, bagel or English muffin. I think they make great snacks, desserts or breakfast treat.

Peach Butter
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You will need:
2 peaches

To prepare:
Peel the peaches and then cut up the pea he into pieces. Place the pieces into a food processor and blend until smooth. Then add the peach yumminess into a pot and heat on medium until it starts to boil. Turn the heat down and simmer, stirring occasionally for a couple minutes. The peaches will thicken. Spread on some toast and sprinkle with cinnamon and viola!

The next toast spread is…

Carrot Butter
You will need:
1 cup steamed carrots
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt

To prepare:
Steam the cup of carrots until soft. Add the carrots to food processor and purée. You could also mash the carrots in a bowl with a fork. Then add the other ingredients and mix together. Then, spread on some toast or whatever you prefer and maybe sprinkle some hemp seeds on top. Enjoy!

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Light & Love,
Amanda

hOMework.

Phew! It has been a while, my friends! I thank you for your patience, for the universe has been throwing all kinds of groovy things my way and I simply have not had the time the sit down and blog. Feels good to be back!

Last night, my most favorite author, teacher, and spirit junkie, Gabrielle Bernstein, was at my school. She gave a magnificent lecture and she had her book signing for her latest book that was launched, May Cause Miracles. I love this woman and the inspirational journey that she lives and sprinkles into the world! The energy in the room was illuminating and I think every cell in my body was jumping and jiving out of gratitude!

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Yes, it was a night that opened my heart big, my eyes wide, and I will never forget it!

So, having said that, Gabby B. Is always talking about relationships being opportunities to grow; they are our greatest assignments. Some people will come into our lives for a moment- a stranger at the grocery store, a friend of a friend’s, or someone sitting next to you on an airplane. Others, will hang on for a much longer than a moment- a best friend, a boyfriend, or dun-dun-dun, family members. Either way, they are ALL our assignments while we are here on earth, they ALL have something to offer, and they ALL provide opportunities for us to heal and grow. Wild, right? Ha. So, I love when Gabby B. talks about this because when I am out in the world and meeting people, chilling with people, working with people I’m all bout it bout it, right? But, let’s take a trip into my relationship with my boyfriend and you will see I am “off to see the Wizard” quite a bit; or as Gabby B. would say, “I’m off to crazy town.” I have to bring humor into this somehow! Humor allows me to laugh at myself, let it go, and once again, remember that I am human.
So, I have been trying to incorporate spiritually-based exercises, meditations, suggestions from my spiritual teachers, like Gabby, that have shown up for me BEFORE I make that trip into “crazy town.” Pausing always helps, if I can pause before I pause. Sometimes, I hit the fear-gear and there is no time to pause, so I have to swerve it out or crash. Other times, I pause, and it’s beautiful because I’m not under the fear choke-hold and I can actually converse and respond to my boyfriend effectively. And, those times that I do swerve or make the trip to see the Wizard, I make sure that once I have come back home that I forgive myself and I take what I can from the situation, I learn, and I grow.
A new technique I learned from Gabby was to ask the Universe (or God, or Spirit, or Ghandi, or Krishna, or Jesus, who ever you identify with) to get involved. Again, this requires me to pause and maybe take a breath. I say something like “Thank you for helping me deal with this” or “Thank you for showing me how I can use this moment to grow” or “Thank you for intervening.” I like little prayers that begin with “thank you” because I feel like it attracts what I would like and I’m acting as if the relief or resolve is already present. And then, I listen to the Universe for her response, and the response may be something like I have the exact words to say to response to my boyfriend in a clear-connected way and the conversation between us is productive or maybe, I just feel a wave of peace and calm rush over me. Either way, when I pause and hand it over to the Universe, she is always, always able to swoop in and grace me with just the assistance I needed. Universe is always rooting for me and she always had my back!
So, their you have it. Relationships are our hOMework. I say hOMework with the emphasis on the OM because the meaning of “OM” is the heartbeat or sound of the Universe and it’s just super fun to say it that way! So, just like in school when we have homework assignments to learn from, the same goes for relationships. And my relationship with my boyfriend has been a 4 year science project; but, I’m still learning, I’m still growing, I’m still healing, and I am grateful!

And to wrap up this blog assignment I have a recipe for ya’ll, as always, to fill your tummy and fuel your body. For a couple months now I have been doing the gluten-free thing and I feel good about it. But that means that my sprouted Ezekiel bread had to go bye-bye! Since then I have been on the hunt to find a plant-based gluten free bread that is yummy! I was having a hard time succeeding at that, so I created my own bread!

Plant based/Gluten free Chia Seed Flatbread

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You will need:
1/2 cup gluten free oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup chick pea flour or garbanzo bean flour
1 cup + 1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 teaspoons chia seeds

To Prepare:
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Blend together all ingredients in food processor.
Pour a little coconut oil in the pan and warm up the pan in the oven.
I used a 10 inch round cake pan; the bigger the pan, the thinner the bread will come out.
Pour the batter in the pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove bread from oven and let cool.
Cut up in fun shapes of your choice! Add groovy toppings such as: almond/peanut butter, hemps seeds, fruit, veggies… Endless!

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Most importantly, have fun while you’re doing it and enjoy when your eating it!

La la la la Ommmmm!

Light & Love,
Amanda