Recipes

Persimmon Cake – Vegan, Nut free, Gluten Free

Persimmon Cake – Vegan, Nut free, Gluten Free

It’s the holiday season. I have been eating a flour and sugar free diet for 2 months now, in an attempt to curb my cravings. That is going really well, but I need a sweet treat to eat, so I made this.

This cake is only mildly persimmon-y.  The cocoa nibs add a little interest with their crunch.

If you are on a limited or restricted diet, there is still so much you can do! I hope you enjoy this as is, or change it to a regular cake by adding more sugar and using flour, instead of gluten-free ingredients, as listed below.  I expect you would need to use 2/3rds cup of flour and omit the chia and flax seed, but I have not tried it myself.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup persimmon puree
  • 2-3 large ripe persimmons, cut into bites
  • ½ cup sunflower seed butter
  • ½ cup tahini (sesame seed butter)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup ripe mashed banana
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 c cocoa nibs
  • 1/3 cup ground flaxseed meal
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a round 9 x 9 baking pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together wet ingredients: seed butters, maple syrup, banana, and vanilla.
  3. Combine dry ingredients: flaxseed meal, chia seeds, cocoa nibs, baking soda, and salt and add to wet mixture. Stir until well combined.
  4. Pour into pan and spread evenly.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool and serve.

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Burnout and Stress, Personal Wisdom, yoga

Cow – The Story of a Yoga Pose

Cow – The Story of a Yoga Pose (#1 TriYoga)

 

I’ve always thought I could do “cow,” or “table top.”  (The yoga name is Bitilasana.)

Today, I learned that I cannot.

I thought I knew and understood how to so this position. In fact, it looks like the simplest yoga pose besides the basic standing pose.  I guess I never actually thought about it. It seemed so simple.  I “just did it.”

Like many things, most things…everything, it bears thinking about.  Like many ‘simple’ things – it is simple, but it is not EASY!

The pose does have different versions, I learned, and differs slightly with which yoga system you are training under.  You may argue which one is correct, but as a student, I won’t join you. Different systems, different teachers teach the same thing in different ways.  That’s just life.  It is a table top type of pose, on your hands and knees.  Today, I was told that my knees should be behind my hips, and my hands should still stay under my shoulders, at least in this system. I didn’t know this, nor did I realize I wasn’t doing it correctly.

Now that I am getting some feed back, you would think I, and the room mate in my head, would be happy now.  Embarrassingly, I found the pose done this way extremely challenging. As soon as I got in this corrected position, my arms started to tremble and shake.

 

We work through as many of the variations and props we could throw at it.   It took a long time to work out what the problem was. Was it my wrists? I went through several blocks and wedges to find the thing that worked best. When I used blocks under my hands, I couldn’t do it at all. When I used fists that was OK. When I use my flat hand, I couldn’t staying in the pose but a few seconds. Even with my knees under my hips, it was hard. If I used a wedge and turned it with the high side towards me that helped my wrists, but it was not comfortable on my arms. This is the way wedges are usually used. When I turn the wedge around, so the high side was pointed away from me, I found it immediately relief. My wrist hurt a little, but it was acceptable.

Rather it being a wrist problem it’s a problem of upper arm strength. How embarrassing. I’m just freaking weak.

 

However – I consider this good news! I can work on that! I’ll get over my embarrassment.

What I did learn, other than how to correctly do the pose, is how much shame we carry around with our abilities, and disabilities. It’s amazing.  We invest so much in our beliefs about what we can do, our abilities, likes and dislikes, and even our weaknesss and disabilities.  Then we double the impact: we tie our views of self and worth to these abilities. I was acting like my worth is tied up in whether I can do cow asana?

Apparently it is.

It was.

I’m taking that investment back.

Ability is always a moving target. We start out unable – in everything we try. We develop ability through practice and healthy doses of failure. Eventually, over time, we lose our sharp edge of ability.  In the end, we often loose all ability and often even our eternally apparent wisdom. So given the fact all this – all of this – is temporary, I’ve determined to learn from the learning. That is practice. And practice, well that is The Practice.

Yoga is about the process of getting into a pose and out of a pose. It is about the experience. The whole experience.  Even more, it is about how that experience informs us about ourselves and our attachments.  This whole ‘failure of being able to do cow’ was a beautiful success in those terms.

I’ll take that and run with it!

 

by Tama Cathers, DVM, MS, BA, KSU-CVM Zoo Wildlife Exotic Animal Intern in another life,  Instructor Vicksburg Quest,  Elemental Self Defense supporter,  Threshold Choir Director, TriYoga & Sangha Teacher Training Student, Potter & Poet, Writer & Wire Wrapper, repeat offender – Appalachian Trail hiker, Gardener, Herbalist, Dog lover, Mother, and sometimes representing aspects of divine loving mother Kali who will cut your head off, all for your own good of course.

 

Uncategorized

Reflections on Day One of Yoga Teacher Training

Reflections on Day One of Yoga Teacher Training (#1 TriYoga)

TriYoga is meditation. It is slow. It is breathing. It is me, finally moving at a slower pace. Finally coming into being……It’s driving me freaking nuts! Studying at home, I thought possibly I was insane, that time had stood still. I thought possibly it was just the videos. I believed that classes would somehow be…different. All of these, I guess, were possibilities; but the slowness is not just the videos and I’m not insane, at least not completely. This is slow meditative deep yoga. Here I am. I had better get with the program and slow down!

 

*********************************************************************************

I arrived a small rural Pennsylvania town, with it’s upright and crowded buildings, and a measure of run-down-ness. I sat in the lot until enough yoga-ish women had come and entered the repurposed school building, so I was not first or last arriving, even though I got here an hour earlier.   I entered the old school house.  It looked just like the schools that I had gone to while growing up, which was comforting. Upstairs one of the converted classrooms was a nice modern day yoga studio. While, it’s always intimidating to meet a new group of people, the stranger’s were all women who greeted me like friends.

Once we got started, I was unsure if I was ‘doing it right.” I had taken this system of yoga for about 10 years with a teacher back home. Now, I wasn’t getting much correction. I didn’t know what that meant.

During the yoga practice, a part of my inner self wanted to protest: She was grumpy with direction. She was grumpy with lack of direction. She didn’t like the fact that there was a structure in the training system or the fact that there was a hierarchy. She was rebelling against anything authoritarian. Speaking of hierarchies, she started feeling bad about getting me getting second degree black belt. She/I also felt guilty teasing Eddie Sanky when I was in kindergarten. I sniffed myself. I wondered if I smelled bad like Eddy smelled. I wondered, did Eddy actually smell bad, or what wasn’t it just that his last name sounded like ‘stank’.  Is that why we called him smelly.  OMG!  It was!  How could I’ve been such a horrible child? How could I’ve been so mean? I felt just awful! I was a bully! I had not even known it.  I had probably scared poor Eddie, who was actually really pretty nice.  How horrifying! Why couldn’t I have been nicer as a child. Why did I dislike hierarchical authoritarian systems? I’m the one who signed up for them. Was I was so clearly clueless, so bad at yoga, that they weren’t even going to talk to me?  Why did I have to be so aggressive and hurried on the road?  Why couldn’t I be a better driver?  Or at least be a nicer adult? How did these behavior still show up in my life?  I think my armpits smell………

It was a long evening.

After about an hour and a half of this sort of backtalk from what I like to call “my inner roommate,” the one in my head that never shuts up, the volume went down; down all the way to mute.  I slowed down enough to pass by the room-mate, and leave her behind. I blessedly entered a meditative space.

The peace I experienced was everything I’d come for, it was what I drove eight hours for. The slowness was everything I was looking to do with my life.

Will I find this yoga is “my” system, go for certification? I’m not sure. But I do know that I’m here in PA now. I’m going to go tomorrow, and do some more breathing. That’s really all I know, and that is just fine.

 

by Tama Cathers, DVM, MS, BA Biology and Sociology, 2nd Degree in ToShinDo,  Threshold Choir Director, TriYoga Teacher Training Student, Sangha Yoga Teacher Trainee, Poet,  2000 miler Appalachian Trail hiker, Gardener, Herbalist.…

 

Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

Burnout and Stress, Travel, yoga

Traveling Cross-Country

Traveling Cross-Country to Yoga Teacher Training  (#1- TriYoga)

 

I vow to be open to the spontaneity of life. I vow to let what happens happen. I vow to keep my heart and mind open on this trip.

I wish I’d thought about these vows eight hours ago, before my seven hour trip turned into a 9 hour trip, before my Airbnb accommodations for the night canceled on me, and no one respond to my Couchsurfing requests. I wish I had thought of these before I got frustrated by not being able to check for accommodations due to traveling through heavy traffic and construction.  That would’ve been a great time to start this practice. Regardless, I’m starting it now; on the small curvy Pennsylvania roads, leading to a very small town, with a very old-school, and a yoga teacher training which I have been looking forward to attending for several months.

When I signed up, it sounded like a great idea. As the time is gotten closer, I’ve doubted that initial enthusiasm. My mind argues: What the hell am I doing signing up for a yoga teacher training anyway?!  Whose bright idea was that? Plus, there’s just too much to do at home. I have a big trip coming up. I have a business to start. I just need some time to myself.

My response: I’m going anyway

I’m going to try to be present. To be here and now. To breathe. No matter how slow the practices. I hope it slow. I hope it’s boring. I hope I’m forced to let go of my crazy mind, with all it’s plan making and all the ways that I try to control my life, because my life is a full catastrophe on wheels.

This is what I wanted – after all. Isn’t it?

I’m rather nervous – but not really. I’ve done enough new and exciting bold and weird off-the-wall things, that I know how to do it. Inside I feel a small seed an ember of excitement. I’m going to found that ember. I’m going to keep it safe I’m going to blow on it and feed it and see what it grows into.

 

by Tama Cathers, DVM, MS, BA Biology and Sociology, 2nd Degree in ToShinDo, Elemental Self Defense,  Threshold Choir Director, TriYoga Teacher Training Student, Sex Coach Trainee, Mixed Media Artist – Ceramics, Fused Glass, & Wire Wrapping, 2000 miler Appalachian Trail hiker, Gardener, and Herbalist.

 

yoga

Yoga – A Beginning….or Two Beginnings

Yoga – A Beginning….or Two Beginnings

Up next is a series of articles from yoga teacher training. This needs a little explaining. I enrolled in two yoga teacher training courses. I enrolled in “TriYoga”, the yoga I have practiced and loved the best for the last 10 years. It is a 100 hour teacher training course meant to lead to TriYoga certification, but does not meet all the Yoga Alliance requirements. Due to this fact, and that training is over 8 hours away, I then signed up for a local yoga teacher training, “ParaYoga.”

I start this series with my first teacher training in TriYoga. After my first set of articles, from this first TriYoga training, I will post some more recipes. After that will come articles on my “first” local teacher training, in ParaYoga. Then more Recipes. More on life. Some on Herbs, etc…

I think these blogs are important to include.  I want a story which can be followed, which includes real struggle, and hopefully growth.

Having been through the first TriYoga teacher training, the first ParaYoga teacher training and now the second TriYoga teacher training, I can now say divine intervention lead me to both. I could not have chosen two more complimentary practices. They are so different, yet so alike. In their philosophy, they are like to brothers which essentially different constitutions, but that look so alike that are barely not twins. Their values are the same, though not their pacing. They are delightful, and I am divinely blessed.

Don’t fret about which is which. Don’t worry. I am driving. Just enjoy the ride.

food, Recipes

No-one-will-notice-the-Zucchini Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake

No-one-will-notice-the-Zucchini Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake –  Recipes to suit your tastes: gooey or cake-like, with Vegan, Nut-free Options  (All Recipes are No Wheat Flour, Low Sweetener & No refined Sugar)

 

I am reducing my processed foods. Specifically I am reducing refined sugar and flour. I like this cake because it is good for you; cocoa, zucchini, nut butter. Personally, I could skip the sweetener altogether, but it is more familiy friendly if you add a little honey. Even though I am cutting sugar and flour, I still need comfort foods. I need chocolate. I need to feel like I am being naughty. It’s good for you to be a little bad.

I made 3 or 4 versions of this cake before settling on a recipe the whole family liked. It felt like a veritable test kitchen at my house for a while! Because of this, I have a lot of options, from vegan, nut-free flourless, to my favorite listed immediately below. I have highlighted the changed ingredients in bold.

If you want a denser, more brownie like cake, follow the vegan recipe (#2) or the recipe below (#1). The apple sauce makes it more dense.

If you want a more cake like recipe, skip the and use the recipe with egg instead of apple sauce.  The egg makes it lighter.

If you want a gooey cake, follow the recipe below (#1), and be prepared to wait a while it cooks.

Happy cooking!

 

My Favorite No-one-will-notice-the-Zucchini Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake #1

(Gluten Free, Low Sweetener, No Sugar, Optional Nut-Free)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter or nut butter   (almond, peanut, sunflower seed, tahini will all work)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup ripe mashed banana (1 large banana)
  • 1 egg (non-vegan)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips
  • 1.5 cups shredded zucchini, blenderized

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 10 x 8 in baking pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  2. Blenderize zucchini until light and airy.
  3. Add seed (or nut butter), banana, egg, honey, and vanilla. Blenderize until smooth. Transfer to mixing bowl.
  4. Mix in cocoa powder, almond flour, baking soda, and salt until well combined.
  5. Fold in chocolate chunks.
  6. Pour into pan and spread evenly.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool and serve.

 

 

This version is for my gluten intolerant, nut allergic pals, those who like denser brownie like cakes, or any vegans.

Brownie LikeNo-one-will-notice-the-Zucchini Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake #2 =

(Vegan, Nut-Free, Gluten Free, Low Sweetener, No Sugar)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup ripe mashed banana (1 large banana)
  • ¼ cup apple sauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips
  • 1.5 cups shredded zucchini, blenderized

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 10 x 8 in baking pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  2. Blenderize zucchini until light and airy.
  3. Add seed (or nut butter), banana, or apple sauce, honey, and vanilla. Blenderize until smooth. Transfer to mixing bowl.
  4. Mix in cocoa powder, almond flour, baking soda, and salt until well combined.
  5. Fold in chocolate chunks.
  6. Pour into pan and spread evenly.
  7. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool and serve.

Notes: It does have a tendency to look more uncooked when you cut it. If the cake still looks moist, but the toothpick comes out dry, it should be done. This cake is  somehow both cakey and gooey in texture.

 

 

I made the very first version of the cake using a found recipe similar to the one below. However, there were some problems: I cooked it for an hour, but found it was still gooey inside. I put it back in the oven for 20 minutes. Then my husband cooked it for another hour, after I went to bed. With that much cooking, I would have agree with him that the edges were perfect! The inside was still too uncooked for either of us.

This being said, we did eat the whole thing and liked some things about it.  The cake was not unsweet, but it was certainly less sweet – exactly what I was looking for and what my husband prefers. Note, this recipe has NOT been kid tested, but adults who are not big sweet fans will like it.

After eating up the first attempt, I adjusted the recipe to the one below (#3). I put it in a bigger pan, and used a blender to aerate the mixture into a lighter consistency, as well. That process was a bit messy, but well worth it.  No need to try using a food processor, or using a mixer on high – I already did. Neither of those options worked well. 

Gooey Long Cooking No-one-will-notice-the-Zucchini Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake #3

(No Flour, Gluten Free, Low Sweetener, No Sugar, No Egg)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup nut butter
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup ripe mashed banana ( 1 large ‘naner)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate – I used baking chocolate, and a shredder to get the chunky/ fine consistency I wanted.
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a round 9 x 9 baking pan with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together nut butter, maple syrup, banana, egg, and vanilla.
  3. Stir in cocoa powder, almond flour, baking soda, and salt until well combined.
  4. Add the zucchini mix well, on high, until light and airy.
  5. Fold in chocolate chunks.
  6. Pour into pan and spread evenly.
  7. Bake for 60- 125 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If a more gooey moist consistency is desired, do not mix as much and cook a shorter period of time.
  8. Cool and serve.

Notes: If you like gooey – this one is for you. We cooked this for over 2 hours and it was still very soft in the middle. Don’t get me wrong, we still ate it!  This one has no blender, no egg, and was not very sweet (a plus in our book.)

 

 

food, Recipes

Cream of Zucchini Soup

Cream of Zucchini Soup

I still have Zucchini and sour cream left.  So, this is another recipe for the both of them. (I am going to repeat this soup ad nauseam with different vegetables, until I finally run out of sour cream.)   Cauliflower is next up and sitting in the oven ready to roast, because we ate all the zucchini soup up.  To be honest, I like zucchini, but even I am ready for a break.  How about you?  If I have any left over – I am making cake!

Notes on Nutrition: Well, it’s dicey.  The healthiness of this soup would go up if the 1/2 cup sour cream was reduced to 2 Tablespoons of Reduced Fat sour cream.  That is for normal people, in normal situations, i.e those lacking 1/2 gallon of sour cream they need to get rid of.  By the way, sour cream does not freeze well. It separates.  It may still be fine for soup, but I wasn’t ready to give up on yet.

 

RECIPE: Cream of Zucchini Soup

INGREDIENTS:

1 small onion, quartered

1 cloves garlic

3 medium or 1 large zucchini, skin on, cut in large chunks

4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)

½ cup sour cream (or 2 -4 Tablespoons reduced fat sour cream or fat free unflavored greek yogurt)

salt and black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine chicken broth, onion, garlic and zucchini in a large pot over medium heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Lower heat, cover, simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat. Purée with a food processor or blender.
  4. Add the sour cream, blend until smooth.
  5. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust to taste. Serve hot.

 

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