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

Creating Space

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Hi everyone!
My days are filled with people and situations that provide me with opportunities; opportunities to choose love and happiness or to choose fear and unhappiness. I must remind myself that I have these choices and that they both cannot live in the same space. I am either choosing love or fear…and let me tell you, love always trumps! Love is the miracle-maker and it always gives me exactly what I need. Love opens doors, unlocks the miracles, frees my heart and creates an unlimited amount of space within me to extend out to others. Fear shuts down, puts down, paralyzes and constricts any energy from flowing.
So, how do we integrate a more loving conversation in life? It begins with creating the space in our thoughts. People and situations show up as divine assignments to show me how to heal, learn and let go. My most challenging assignments show up in my relationship with my boyfriend. We attracted one another to heal, love and enjoy one another. One of my biggest lessons with him have been learning how to tap into my inner goddess for self acceptance and love, and not relying on him for those things. Past experiences that he triggers in the present challenge me in these areas. Some days, I am on point and others, the best I can do is have a meltdown. We all get into relationships with our own past experiences that have turned into conversations within the thoughts that run through our heads presently.The thing is, that conversation that was generated from the past, is in the past, there fore, it does not have to be real now in the present moment. It is our job to recognize those conversations as not real anymore and create the space for what is so that love can radiate through us.

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Here are some simple steps that I have been using in my interactions to get myself out of my past conversations that replay in my head and into what’s real in the present moment.

1: Notice. Any behavior change always starts with noticing the behavior first. Nothing can change if you are not aware that it is occurring, right? If I am unable to notice, then I am screwed because chances are I may just be reacting out of ego, and usually these snap reactions are fearbased and imbedded from th past. So, I begin created new neural pathways in my brain by keeping it simple and noticing. Sometimes, I write about what I see myself doing. I notice what is happening around and within me when I feel like I am being triggered. I notice the conversation that is taking place in my head. Is it love or fear-based? If this conversation makes me feel good, it is probably love, but if I start to squirm, it is most likely fear driving them and after the thoughts start rolling in, then the unproductive behavior follows. So, start noticing the thoughts before th behaviors have a chance to rise. And just like anything, this is a practice. Some days, I am extremely aware and I can pause and stay still and allow the untrue thoughts to dissolve. Other days, when I am more sensitive, I will just bypass any noticing and have a knee-jerk reaction, which usually ends up with me in some kind of upset. Whether I roll through a temper tantrum or not, eventually I always get back to noticing my thoughts again. It is important to be gentle with yourself and love yourself through these experiences like you would a best friend!
2: Decide. After I notice what is happening within my thoughts, then I make a decision. I decide whether the conversation in my head is real or not real based off of the situation I am in where I feel triggered. Again, fear makes us act in funky ways. So, if I perceive something as fearful based on my past experiences and I notice myself starting to feel uncomfortable, then I can probably make the assumption that I am operating from ego. I decide if the story I am telling myself is a reenactment of the past or not; real or make-believe. The ego loves to play with the make-believe because we stay stuck here; we search but never seem to find what we are looking for. It can be tricky to see past the ego, so I coach myself through it by giving myself little affirmations such as, “I can see peace instead of this, “What would it look like to let this go?” or “Thank you, Universe, for showing me how to see this differently.” A Course in Miracles says, “When ancient memories of hate appear, remember that their cause is gone,” therefore, it is up to me to forgive the past experiences that are showing up because they are showing up as an opportunity to create space for love by releasing them.

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Now, for a yummy pizza recipe to wrap this up! Today, I have one of my vegan, gluten free, quinoa crust pizzas! So simple and delicious!

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You will need:
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
3/4 cup quinoa – soaked for at least 8 hours, rinsed & drained.
1/4-1/2 cup water (maybe…according to dough consistency)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove
2 teaspoon of dried seasonings (I think I just used some Italian seasoning mixture and a teaspoon of dried parsley)
Toppings: hummus, cucumber, arugula and carrots

To Prepare:
Set the oven to 450 degrees. Spread the tablespoon of coconut or olive oil in a 9-inch round cake pan. In a food processor mix all of the ingredients, except the toppings, together to create your pizza crust. Then, pour the mixture into the oil coated cake pan and place the pan in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. Then, remove the pan, flip the crust over, and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Crust should be brown and crispy on the edges. Remove crust and let cool. Prepare the veggies/toppings but cutting up the cucumber and shredding the carrots. When crust seems cool enough, spread the hummus all over the pizza, first. Then sprinkle on the arugula and cover with cucumber and them the shredded carrots last. Cut up into pizza slices and enjoy! I sure did!

Light & Love,
Amanda

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Meditation music

Good evening, my friends! I am blogging at night, to shake things up a bit, with some moon light inspiration and some ooh-la-la recipes coming your way! 🙂

Before I get into the goodies, I just wanted to share some thoughts about waiting. Every year in October, my boyfriend, our group of friends, and I all pack up for a one night stay in Tampa, FL to attend Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream. Nothing better than screaming your tush off on night-riding roller coasters, losing your mind in  haunted houses, road tripping through the state of Florida, having a huge sleepover in a hotel, laughing, and romping around with the people you love for a weekend. Sounds like playtime to me! And that it was for us this past weekend. I bring this up because we all know what comes with the joy of amusement parks and rides, right? Yes, lines. Waiting. Patience. Which brings me to my solution for these moments when you find yourself digging for the patience to sit still and wait. Maybe its in the grocery store checking out, at a stop light, during commercials while you’re watching your favorite television show, while you wait for the oven to heat up to cook dinner, or simply in a line for a wild and crazy roller coaster. I was graciously given a solution for these moments. First, I change my thoughts about these moments. Instead of viewing them as irritating and challenging I view them as opportunities. Ah, it even feels good to type that out. Opportunities, I said. Opportunities to grow, giggle, observe your surroundings, notice your breathing, and create space inside your mind and soften your heart. Second, I was told that during these moments I could make the things around me a part of my ongoing meditation music. That’s right, the small child crying because mom said no to the candy bar in front of you at the check-out line in the grocery store, that is your music right there, my friend. Soak it up, or not, the choice is yours! And when you do this, think of me, right there with you, meditating to the sounds of people screaming and the roller coaster wheels clanking around the track as I wait in line for my turn. 🙂

To add to your meditation music playlist, I have a yummy treat for you that will let you meditate while you are waiting for them to bake in the oven!

I give you my gluten-free & vegan Carrot Surprise Whoopie Pies (how fun is that to say?) I am just so incredibly pleased by how these little darlings turned out. They are perfect for the upcoming holidays, pleasing to the eye, light on the belly, and soft to the taste buds! Mmmmmhmmm!

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You will need:

1/2 cup chick pea (garbanzo bean) flour

1 banana

1 large carrot or a handful of baby carrots, grated

2-3 tablespoons of water

1/2 tablespoon baking soda

A couple dashes of pumpkin pie spice

1 can of regular, unsweetened coconut milk, chilled in fridge, overnight preferably

Vanilla extract, to taste, optional

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, process you carrot, banana, chick pea flour, pumpkin spice, and water all together. Should be a smooth batter-like consistency.

Line a pan with parchment paper. Put tablespoonful scoops of batter on parchment paper and bake for about 10 mins. Should be on the softer-puffier side and golden brown on bottoms when finished. Let cool.

While your pies are cooling, take out your can of coconut milk to make some coconut whipped cream. Flip it upside down and open can with a can opener. When you first open the can, you will notice a clear liquid on top. Drain that top liquid and set aside, get rid of, or save it for a smoothie later. Then the more solid white underneath that clear liquid is what you will be working with. Spoon that out into a bowl and blend it up on high with some beaters or a mixer of some kind. Feel free to add a little vanilla extract, if you wish.

Once your coconut whipped cream is ready, that’s right, the fun part! Make your whoopie pie sandwiches. Put some cream in between two pies. Maybe sprinkle a little cinnamon on the cream. I like to put the cream in between the pies with some cinnamon sprinkles, and some cream on top of the pie with some more cinnamon sprinkles. And there you have it, heaven in your mouth! Enjoy!

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Light & Love,
Amanda