January 20, 2015

100 Days of Meditation: 3 Week Update

Just before the New Year hit, I set an intention for 100 days of meditation. For something so spontaneous, I can't believe how well it stuck. I think that shows that I don't always respond best to things that are meticulously planned and prepared for. I've always given myself space instead of rushing into changes because I know that I always make the move, without procrastination, when I'm ready. Giving myself time, and not making myself feel guilty or like a failure, has always served me well with my life choices.

I haven't once felt like I was forcing myself to sit down and do this challenge. My desire to meditate daily evokes a feeling inside that is much akin to hunger. At some point in the early afternoon, this desire emerges that leads me to my meditation spot (just like my hunger pangs lead me to the kitchen).

Each day, my intuition guides me in choosing the music and essential oils that will help me to feel at home in my practice. I've enjoyed trying different thing: mantras, breath work, visualizations, various body positions, sounds/silence (I've confidently settled in with having music since I believe so strongly in its healing power). I've been playing around with essential oils (reviews coming!) and reading about color therapy. I'm intrigued by flower essences. I'm falling in love with the tones of Tibetan singing bowls, and I'm realizing that my deep, life-long connection to water extends to meditation, as it is one of my favorite nature sounds to listen to in the process of quieting my mind.

I began week 3 of my meditation last Friday, and I've seen some amazing changes in my life. A few of them are:

  • Mood lift and a boost in overall feelings of well-being
  • Stress reduction and ability to handle much more without reaching the point of frustration
  • More empathy for others and a deeper sense of connection to them
  • Growing awareness of my preferred methods of escape for uncomfortable emotions that arise
  • Comfort in stillness and less of a need to be constantly doing something

That isn't even all of the benefits I've seen which shows how powerful meditation can be in such a short period of time. It's awesome to think of what will happen as I continue these 100 days and beyond. But more than that, I'm thankful for how I can appreciate each moment for what it is now

January 12, 2015

Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips

Oh my. These kale chips are amazing.

I picked them up at a little health food store in the Pittsburgh suburbs. I was drawn in when my eye caught the words "mango" and "habanero". This flavor is unique to other kale chip offerings, and I love mangoes and heat. I really couldn't go wrong with this one.

In all honestly, I rarely buy kale chips since I own a dehydrator. It's much more cost-effective to make them at home, and it's way more fun coming up with flavors that you can't buy in the stores. Still, I do love to pick up a bag as a treat from time to time!

Rhythm Superfoods is new to me, so that (aside from the flavor of the kale chips) was one of the main reasons I bought these. I love to try new things, for my own enjoyment and to spread the word on fantastic vegan foods.

My favorite thing about them? The flavor. At first, you get the smooth, fruity taste of the mango, and then when you think you're in the clear from any spiciness, it hits you. Even better is that the mango is just sweet enough to straddle the sweet/savory line, and the spice is nice and hot, but won't leave you feeling like your tongue is falling out.

When I looked at the ingredients and saw sunflower seeds and tahini instead of cashews, I did a little dance. Cashews don't always digest so well for me (and many other people, too). They can sometimes make my stomach feel heavy and unpleasant, and can even flare up my mold sensitivities. In fact, when I was first recovering from my mold-induced illnesses, I never ate cashews. Since that phase of recovery lasted a long time, I discovered that sunflower seeds can be substituted in many of the recipes calling for cashews. You might need to tinker with the sweetener, but it works beautifully. I still like to keep my cashew intake low, so I really love that they use sunflower seeds and tahini in this.

Another thing I loved about these kale chips is the thin coating of dressing on them. It seems that most kale chip brands have figured out that if you coat the leaves of kale thickly with the flavoring, the chips will stay crunchier. I've tasted some kale chips that had very light dressing on them, and I have to say, I was not pleased at all with the limp, chewy leaves. These, however, are a nice middle ground. They're not the crunchiest out there, but they're not stale at all either. They're quite good! They've managed to keep a light coating without sacrificing the crunch factor.

For those of you who haven't had kale chips, you may think there's a big difference in the heavily-coated ones and these. Not really. Not as far as taste, that is. The reason it impressed me was because it lowers the overall fat content of this product. You can eat the whole bag and still consume less fat than a 2 Tbsp serving of nut butter or a 1/4 cup of nuts or seeds. In other words, I get a healthy amount of fat for a snack and don't feel sluggish from it!

I can't think of any negatives about this product (other than the price if you're on a budget, but that's every kale chip out there!). If you want to treat yourself, or are looking for a fun snack to munch on with your loved ones, I'd highly recommend these kale chips.