Spiced Elderberry Wine

I was scrolling through recipes the other night looking for inspiration. I didn’t have a dish in mind, I was just hoping something would catch my attention. As it is winter here, the few recipes for warm spiced drinks certainly did. I could see myself siting in front of the fire, allowing the dance of the flames to lull me into a relaxed state and slowly sip on my beverage. Inspiration had visited!

IMG_6435

Looking through the pantry, it was then what could go with what to create a warming beverage. My bottle of elderberries seemed to vie for my attention so out they came. I decided to start with them by adding a table spoon and 2 cups of water to a small pan and sitting that on the stove top to gentle heat. As the water began to warm the sweet, spicy scent of the elderberries wafted around the kitchen. With this scent tickling my nostrils I began searching for the remaining ingredients.

Star Anise was the first spice to join the Elderberries. I love the aniseed smell, fresh and inviting. Cinnamon and Clove and two spices I love adding to my spiced creations. It would have to be the powered form of each as I did not have a cinnamon quill or the clove flowers.

My favourite spice essential oil at the moment is doTERRA’s Cassia. Cassia is a cousin of Cinnamon, but is so much softer. When I inhale Cassia it is like a warm blanket being wrapped around me, and I know that I am being held by something bigger than I am. For me, Cassia is warming, nurturing and soft, while Cinnamon is it’s louder cousin. There is nothing understated about Cinnamon. Because Cassia gives me this sense of being nurtured, I added two drops to the simmering mixture.

A drop of doTERRA Ginger Essential Oil was also added to lift the mixture and to give it a bit of zing. The fragrance of this oil is also very warming. Then to add a hint of sweetness 2 teaspoons of coconut syrup was stirred into the deep red liquid. Any liquid sweetener would work if you do not have coconut syrup.

After everything had simmered for a few minutes I turned the heat off and let the spices and essential oils to infuse. I could almost imagine each ingredient dancing with each other and creating the final performance which I would enjoy soon,

Once strained, I sat with the elderberry wine (ok there is no alcohol in it but the colour of the beverage reminded me of spiced wines), inhaled and slowly sipped while watching the flames. I hope you enjoy this beverage.

I was given the flower garland at Sydney’s Vivid festival this year. When I wear it, a lightness of spirit and joy comes over me. This is the energy I like to have when creating so why not wear the flower garland in the kitchen. It will definitely be joining me in the kitchen more now that I have it. :)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs Elderberries
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 2 tsp coconut syrup, or your favourite sweetener
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 tsp clove powder
  • 2 drops doTERRA Cassia Essential Oil
  • 1 drop doTERRA Ginger Essential Oil

Prior Preparation:

  1. Nil

Directions:

  1. Place elderberries and water in a small saucepan and gentle bring to simmer.
  2. Once simmering add remaining ingredients.
  3. Simmer for a minute then turn off the heat and allow the ingredients to infuse with each other. I left mine for about 20 mins.
  4. Strain and then pour back into the saucepan to gentle warm.
  5. Pour into your favourite vessel to enjoy.

You can leave the mixture to infuse for longer.

In vibrant health, Vicki

Carrot Crackers

almond carrot crackersI love making almond milk or any nut milk really. At the moment, I am enjoying a decaf coffee with warmed hazelnut milk, sweetened with cinnamon and maple syrup while I type this post and listen to the rain outside. Anyway I have digressed.  Making all these nut milks means I have lots of leftover nut pulp to work with so I’m experimenting with different recipes, to use up the nut pulp. Usually when I make the nut milks I will add a date or two to slightly sweeten the milk which means I don’t use any sweeteners when I use the nut milk for breakfast and smoothies. The only draw back with that is that the nut pulp is sweet so I can only use the pulp for a sweet dish.

A few weeks ago I decided to start making my nut milks plain – no dates or spices so that the leftover nut pulp could be used for a savoury dish as well as a sweet dish. As the weather is now cooling down I am wanting more heavier food so what better thing to make than crackers. Crackers can go with salads, dips, soups or spread with mashed avocado and sprinkled with celtic sea salt for a snack. Yum.  Below is what I put together and I have to say they were so nice. To have a slight spicy flavour through the cracker from the garam marsala was great and while the crackers where dehydrating the spiciness permeated the kitchen. With the smell through the kitchen I was so looking forward to when I would be able to try one. I was not disappointed.

I hope you enjoy these crackers as much as I did.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4cups of almond pulp – from making almond milk
  • 1 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp garam marsala
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 2 Tbs olive oil

Directions:

  1. Place almond pulp, flaxseed meal and garam marsala in a bowl
  2. In a high speed blender process the carrot, zucchini, onion and water till smooth
  3. Pour carrot mixture into the bowl with the almond pulp mixture
  4. Mix together to form a wet dough
  5. Add olive oil to the bowl and mix thoroughly
  6. Divide evenly between two dehydrator trays and smooth, flatten to the size of the dehydrator tray
  7. Place in the dehydrator and dehydrate for 6 hours
  8. After 6 hours turn the crackers over onto a mesh sheet. Score so that once completely dehydrated you can snap the crackers apart. Dehydrate again for another 8 hours.
  9. Store crackers in the fridge or freezer.

In good health, Vicki

Daily Nourishment

My Daily Nourishment event has been this week, where I invited people to slow down and be present with themselves and the meal or beverage they where consuming.  It was an opportunity to take part in and become present in the act of nourishing their body. Each day I posted on Face Book what I ate or drank and what I noticed during my time of nourishment.

What an amazing experience it was. I found at times I was able to be fully present with the meal, I tasted the sweetness of the peach and felt the texture of it’s skin on my tongue, which I don’t usually feel as I am distracted by other things as I am eating. I was aware of emotions siting under the surface, emotions that where not big enough to be obvious, yet because I was being present, observing myself, I was able to observe these emotions. It also meant that I was then able to connect with the emotion and honour myself as I let the emotion move through my body. One time it meant that I cried, not tears of sadness or joy, but of a gentle relief. Almost as if I had finally let go of the breath that I had been holding onto. I had not even been aware that that was how I felt.

OnIMG_5028 another occasion I realised I felt agitated. I found it hard to be fully present with my meal. I had to remind myself to set the fork down and to chew. I even reached for the phone to distract myself from this feeling. I was not able to be fully present that day, however by giving myself the space to be as present as I could be, I discovered something about myself. A belief that I had not realised was part of my makeup. What was agitating me I hear you ask? I had spent the morning with 3 amazing, uplifting and inspiring women. We had talked about a number of different topics and I had come away from the morning energised and with plans to move forward with some of the tasks in my business that I had been putting off. When I got home, I made lunch and decided I would be present with my lunch before I went into my office. It was then that I started to feel agitated. The belief that surfaced was around feeling that I had ‘wasted my morning’ as I could not quantify the time spent with these amazing women into dollars. I felt guilty. When had a started believing that every moment I spend on the business had to be quantified into dollars earned? We live in a culture of do, do, do and the making of money is valued however if we are still, if we are’ being’, then there is no value placed on this. When had I been brain washed into this belief? I am grateful that this has surfaced as I can now look into it further and replace this belief with one that values stillness with movement, doing with being. I am also grateful for this event because without this event I know that on that day I would have eaten quickly, without awareness, to get onto my to do list and so would not have had the space for this belief to surface. The event was holding me accountable and to be still.

I have learnt that it is in the subtle, slower times that an awareness can be achieved that can not be heard when we are busy. With this awareness I am able to see parts of myself that have been hidden due to my busyness. I am not wanting to push myself but gentle unfold and open the way a rose does. Slowly, beautifully and without urgency and with a knowingness that I am held by the Universe. Can you see your own beauty?

IMG_5029How can you nourish yourself daily? Take the time with one meal or beverage a day to be present. We have to eat. We have to fuel this body of ours. Why not also use this time to nourish the other parts of yourself. So with your meal or beverage I invite you to turn off the TV or computer, leave the phone in another room, push your papers to one side while you take part and become present in the act of nourishing your body.

Take a deep breath in and then slowly exhale. Look at the food on your plate. Notice the colours. What are the aromas entering your nose? With each mouthful, put down the knife and fork or spoon and chew your food. Really taste it. Can you detect the flavours of sweet, bitter, salty, sour or umami? How many times do you normally chew your food? Can you chew for 20 times? Does the flavour change the longer you chew. As you swallow can you notice the food leaving your mouth and making it’s way down to your stomach?

Auszeit SpaOnce you have finished your meal or beverage notice how you feel. Notice how the rest of your day is. Notice how you sleep. Is there any difference. This is a wonderful opportunity to slow down and ‘smell those roses’.

In good health, Vicki

Breathing and releasing stress

Can you believe that January is at a close. My kids started school last week and we are now getting back into the routine of up at a certain time, get ready and out the door by…. Oh I do love school holidays – no routines.

The lead up to school returning has been full on, both personally and professionally. Getting all that we needed for the kids to return to school, Jannine coming home for a flying visit during Australia Day (she has now returned to Adelaide for the next 2 months), finishing off the spring cleaning I had started, which will result in a garage sale in the next few weeks, receiving news I had been nominated for 3 awards with Women With Altitude, starting to video “how to video’s” for the different raw recipes, continuing studying with IIN and getting back into the clinic, seeing clients. It has felt a bit like someone has increased the speed on the treadmill I am on and I was not expecting it.

Stress, overwhelemd worriedI have started to notice what my signs are that I am on that treadmill –  my mind starts to run (my to do list, worries and thoughts that just keep circling) or I have been extra short with the kids or my sleeping has suffered as I try to fit all of ‘it’ into the day. I’ve over committed to the day and then feel anxious and annoyed that I have not completed everything and disappointed that I’m cranky. What has happened? I’ve stopped nourishing myself – taking the time to stop, breathe and connect with me. What are some of the things that I normally do to nourish myself:

  • be present while I eat a meal
  • sit and have a cup of tea and do nothing else
  • take a few moments to breath
  • get into the bush for a bush walk – being in nature

Young woman enjoying fresh air in autumn, intentionally toned.I remind clients to take time our for themselves – to nourish themselves. It doesn’t have to take the form of hours out of your day, just a few minutes here and there and the benefits are compounding. Over the last few weeks I have once again fallen into the busyness – go, go, go and do, do, do achieving mentality – “I don’t have time for me” or “I’ll take some time for me later today or tomorrow”. Does that happen? Not usually. So I spiral down feeling more and more out of control. Does this sound familiar? One thing I do know for sure is that as I become ‘busier’ my breathing changes. I’ve noticed that when I am feeling out of control, either completely or in the task I have set myself to do, then my breathing is quite shallow. I’ve also noticed on the days when I feel that I have all the time in the world and surprised at how much I have actually accomplished, my breathing has been slow, deep and regular. With this observation, I have been using my breath to help slow me down and put me back into the drivers seat. The fantastic thing about focusing on your breath is, that you can do it anywhere and at anytime. Here is a little breathing exercise that can bring you back to being present and can reset the ‘I’m feeling out of control’ button.

Sit comfortably in a chair with your feet flat on the floor, your hands in your lap and your back straight. Close your eyes and notice your breathing. Connect with your breath as you breathe in and then breathe out. Continue to breathe in and out for a couple of breath cycles. Now I want you to breathe in for the count of 4, hold, breathe our for the count of 4, hold and continue again. The image I have while breathing, is an oval – up one side, over the top, down the other side, under the bottom and back up. Remember to breathe from your diaphragm (the base of your lungs – your belly will expand and decrease, like the way babies breathe).

I’m also practising the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercising which I learnt about in one of my subjects at Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN). In the subject, Dr Weil explains the benefit of breathing and how it is the link between the conscious and unconscious mind and is the key to changing the function of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system regulates the bodily functions such as heart beat, breathing and digestion and is the control system behind our fight or flight response. Dr Weil also believes that improper breathing is the root of many of the health problems that we experience today. With this knowledge you can begin to see how important your breathing is. To find out more about 4-7-8 Breath.

Have you used breath work before to help reconnect with yourself? Have you noticed a difference in the way you breathe when you are stressed compared to when you are relaxed? I would love to hear about your experiences with breathing.

In good health, Vicki

Dragonflies and Dinner

What does dragonflies have to do with dinner?

If we are aware and open, the natural world gives us signs and answers to our questions. Plants, animals, insects and birds all have messages for us. The thing is we have to be still and observant to hear these messages.

Dragonfly on dead plantI had been sitting at Lawson Lookout, thinking about an issue that has been troubling me for a long time. Trying to look at it from other angles. After about 30 mins I felt it was time to leave so I started to make my way up the path, back to the car. As I walked along the path a dragonfly flew in front of me and landed on a twig just to my left. It was so close I could have touched it. As I looked at it, I knew it was not a coincidence, it had a message for me. I felt compelled to google ‘Dragonfly Medicine’ on my phone. I opened up the page and began reading. What I read, gave me some insights and clarified what I had been thinking about a few moments ago. I kept reading aloud, looking back at the dragonfly. I was only half way through the page when the dragonfly flew off, yet the words that I had just read held major significance for me. I stood for a while pondering what I had just learnt, before I continued back to the car feeling more settled about the situation. This is not the first time an animal or insect has crossed my path and I am always grateful for their wisdom. There is so much that we do not understand, that we can not logically ‘get’ yet we are supported greatly on this journey through life.

On the drive home I felt I needed grounding – food that would help bring the energy downwards, away from the head. By my very nature I am very much in my head, too much of the time. I drove through Springwood hoping I would be guided to stop somewhere to get something as I knew a salad would not be beneficial. Nothing caught my eye. It was not until I was almost home that I thought of the root vegetables I had in the fridge – carrots, potato and beetroots. Roasted Root Veg and Quinoa SaladRoot vegetables grow downwards into the ground so energetically they help ground you when you consume them. They were going to be the basis of my dinner – roasted root vegetables.

Quinoa was the next ingredient that came to mind. Quinoa grows at high altitudes in the Andean region and is very tolerant (adaptable) to the climate there. It tolerates droughts, rain, wind, whatever the weather is and if the climate is not conducive to growth it waits until the weather conditions are. This ability or strength to adapt to its environment is part of quinoa’s energetic make up, so when consumed this quality is also assimilated. With these two ingredients – root vegetables and quinoa, as the main components, I then added flat leaf parsley and baby spinach for greens, red onion (roasted) for sweetness, almond butter for fats and protein and a sprinkle of celtic sea salt to bring out all the flavours. After dinner I felt centred and grounded and very much in my body, instead of in my head.

The food that we eat not only provides the macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats) or micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals) which our body needs, it also proves our body with energetic information. This information comes from how the food grows, ie root vegetables – grounding, where it grows like quinoa’s qualities or the behaviour ie animals. Why is it that so many cultures have chicken soup as a remedy for those who are sick and frail? If you observe chickens they are constantly on the go, have lots of energy, full of vitality and almost animated when compared to a cow. So making soup from chickens will mean that the quality/nature (energetics) of the chicken is also transferred into the soup helping the person recover and regain their vitality.

Next time you are feeling unbalanced or have something that is troubling you, I invite you to spend some time observing yourself and the world around you. Who knows what messages, insights or answers you will receive.

In good health, Vicki

If you would like to find out more about the messages from the natural world start with the internet as I did when the dragonfly appeared for me. For more information on food energetics look into Food Energetics: The Spiritual, Emotional, and Nutritional Power of What We Eat by Steve Gagne