Balance

“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go”

Yoga1

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Salmon Ceviche: Don’t be “shell shocked,” there is a NON-Shellfish alternative!

Salmon Ceviche_Diana Nitescu1

If you’re one of those people who love seafood but have to carry an EpiPen in your purse or pocket, there is a safe, non-shellfish alternative that is delicious and easy to make.  Salmon ceviche is a fantastic dish to prepare for your guests and even for children.  Salmon is considered to be one of the ideal “brain foods,” due to the omega-3 essential fatty acids that it contains.  It is a great source of protein, potassium, selenium and Vitamin B12.  It is also considered to be among the fish carrying the least amount of mercury.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 Lb Salmon cut into half inch cubes
  2. 6 Limes
  3. 6 Medium Organic Tomatoes
  4. 1 Large Avocado (not too ripe)
  5. 1 Medium Mango
  6. Half of an Onion
  7. Cilantro
  8. 1.5 Tbsp Olive Oil
  9. 1 Tsp Sesame Oil
  10. 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce

Instructions: 

Soak the salmon cubes in the juice from 5 limes. Cover them in juice and allow to “cook” in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.

Chop tomatoes, onion, avocado and mango into tiny cubes. Avocado should be last in order to avoid it from turning brown.

Drain salmon and add remaining ingredients.

Add 1.5 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp. sesame oil and 1 tbsp. soy sauce.

Squeeze the juice from the remaining lime into mixture.

Sprinkle cilantro, salt and pepper. Refrigerate for one more hour. Enjoy!

Polenta Pizza

Z pizza small1

This low-carb, gluten-free crust made of cornmeal is a fantastic alternative for all those who have high blood sugar and still wish to enjoy the taste of pizza.

Toppings: Tomato sauce, fresh mushrooms, olives, scallions, tomatoes, arugula.

(Cheese is optional – sprinkle a bit of goat cheese or feta to add flavor)

Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes – Add arugula after removing from oven (avoids wilting).

Happiness is…

     It was probably the hottest night this summer.  My friend and I sat out on his balcony listening to old Peruvian music while talking about life.  At one point throughout our conversation, I sat up in my chair and asked him bluntly, “What’s YOUR goal in life?”  He responded genuinely: “My ambition is to be happy.”

     I went home later that evening still thinking about that statement.  That is my goal too, I thought…. but it seems so broad and unattainable at times.  You grow up learning that academic ambition is key in trying to obtain professional success.  Having high ambitions means working crazy late hours in a corporate setting, devoting every ounce of yourself to projects and tasks that will reflect your abilities and talents.  Ambition is the only route to a promotion, to a comfortable life, a huge house, a foreign car, expensive clothes and designer shoes. Ambition equals happiness! The question still remains: What is happiness?!?!

     I wrote my friend’s quote on a piece of paper and pasted it onto my fridge.  The word “ambition” started to fade and each time I’d glance at the note all I could see was “be happy.”  I walked outside with my journal and began writing whatever thoughts started to pour from my head.  I felt like I wanted to find an explanation for what happiness means.  Sometimes it’s easier to grasp a thought when we have a clear definition of the word; but just like “love,” so is “happiness.”  It’s a real emotion that can be expressed in so many ways, to so many degrees.  It is ephemeral yet tangible.  Perhaps we can’t touch it with our fingers, we cannot measure it by the size of a bank account, we cannot buy it in bulk (goodness knows, all the stores would be sold out), but we can grasp it with our hearts.

     As I was writing, a few drops of rain fell on the page, smudging the words until they became illegible.  The sky let out a loud reverberating thunder and it started pouring.  I closed my eyes and smiled.  The words were no longer important, that moment defined joy on so many levels.  I felt one with the elements, one with life.  I took a sip of my favorite wine, Menage a Trois, and thought, “THIS is happiness, just the three of us: myself, God and the rain.”

Meditating our way around the Medicine Wheel

 

Meditation is not my thing,” I’ve heard many people say. “I can never seem to quiet my mind long enough to sit still.”  The truth is, meditation is for everyone and anyone can meditate.  The challenge that we face is finding ourselves and our place in this broad and all-encompassing universe.  We all possess the tools within us, but we allow our daily lives and the busy world around us to dictate our thoughts, feelings and our actions.  We live in a society that places great emphasis on individuality and consumerism, two ideologies that deter us from reconnecting with our true nature.

I have meditated for years, and just like everyone else, I too would become distracted and lose sight of my goal during meditation.  For so long I accepted the limiting notion that meditation serves one purpose and one purpose alone: to relieve stress.  It does indeed fulfill that role, but to say that stress relief is where the journey ends is like hitting the visible tip of an iceberg, while the foundation of it lies submerged in the depths of an ocean.

The first and most essential step is to “reconnect” with ourselves.  I say reconnect because our true nature lies within the very fabric of our being. It is up to us to bring that supreme awareness into our everyday lives.  Coincidence had it that while I was at the library one day, I stumbled across a book called “The Medicine Wheel.”  I pulled it out, flipped through it and took it home to read.  It never occurred to me that two hundred pages could change my outlook on life so much.

The message of this book is to walk the earth with balance, to give respect to all beings, including objects and forces of nature, and to understand that everyone and everything is a unique manifestation of a Greater Force.  We all share characteristics and we reflect aspects of one another to an infinite capacity.

At certain times throughout life we experience unpleasant situations, and those particular circumstances can leave us feeling lonely and removed.  We lose touch with ourselves, with nature, and we struggle to understand how we fit into the bigger picture.  A certain arrogance leads us to believe that we are superior beings and that everything around us is at our disposal.  “We see the minerals, the plants and the animals as servants of man.  We have forgotten that they can be our teachers as well; they can open us to ideas and emotions that have been blocked from the human heart for too long a time.  We have forgotten how to hear stories… how to listen to the wisdom of the rocks… how to listen to the plants.  We have cut ourselves off from all these relations” (Sun Bear & Wabun, 1980).”

A friend shyly told me one day, that as she was picking blueberries in her garden, she smiled at the bush and thanked it for all of its fruit.  I admired her thought process and also her ability to share such genuine emotions.  We all need to allow such honesty into our lives, we must learn to seek beauty in the things that surround us and open ourselves up to the idea that we are not here alone; that all the plants, animals, everything in unison sustains and reflects each other in the universe.  I believe that even a fleeting moment of “connectedness” can serve as meditation.  It’s that very instant when we can see the picture clearly, we understand, and there is no need for words to describe it.

In the book “The Medicine Wheel,” the author describes life as a circle.  This school of thought holds that we each enter the circle at birth, at a particular place and space in time.  Due to that specific location, we each exhibit and share certain characteristics pertaining to our true nature.  We are however incomplete in our quest for self-discovery until we can “walk” this wheel.  We must strive to understand different perspectives and familiarize ourselves with all forms of existence.

There are no set guidelines to our experiences and we must individually educate our minds to open up to the universe.  Dreams, visions, emotions and simple moments of stillness can serve as meditation.  It is not necessary to sit cross-legged with our eyes closed and to fight the thoughts produced by our resistant brains.  By unblocking our energy channels and discovering our true nature, we learn just how efficiently we can all meditate.  It is important to use this knowledge as a catalyst in our quest for self-discovery.  The goal to our journey is not to reach a state of meditation, it is to meditate toward reaching a higher state of consciousness.