Pumpkin Chai Latte

On a Sunday, there is nothing better than cuddling up, reading a book, and enjoying a cup of tea or coffee. What I like best about the fall, is the coloured leaves, wearing sweaters and scarfs, and feeling the crisp air.

Although dressing up for Halloween isn’t really my thing, I am all about pumpkins, squash, stews, and warm cups of yumminess. Also, I find that pumpkin spice candles smell amazing, and pumpkin pies and other recipes that include cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.

Chai tea and the spices used to make it are used in Ayurveda, the traditional medicine from India. For instance, cinnamon helps with digestion, cardamom calms tension and ansiety, and ginger reduces blood coagulation and rejuvenates.

So, I have decided to share this recipe for a pumpkin chai latte. It is super easy, healthy, and delicious!

Ingredients:
Makes 2 cups

2 cups of milk (of your choice)
1 tbsp maple syrup (adjust to taste)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2.5 tsp black tea (or rooibos)
6 cardamom cloves, crushed
4 black pepper seeds
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp ginger powder OR 1inch fresh grated ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 star anis (optional, I didn’t use any).

Instructions

  1. In a small pot, place the milk and all other ingredients except the pumpkin puree.
  2. Bring to a boil, then stop the stove and let it sit for about 10 minutes with the lid on.
  3. Strain the spices out and put the milk back into the pot on very low heat.
  4. Whisk the pumpkin puree in the pot. Heat until the desired temperature.
  5. Serve and enjoy!
  6. Optional: add a pinch of nutmeg to each cup.

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Getting your OM on: 3 meditation apps

This year, my meditation practice has been quite a journey. About 4 months ago, I wrote a post and shared with you my past experiences with meditation and how I felt after meditation for 10 minutes for 40 days in a row, check it out here. Since then, it is incredible how this practice has incorporated itself into my mornings or evenings. I have been meditating for over 80 days straight and feel amazing. However, it is not about the amount of days you dedicate to meditation, the most important I think, is how you can apply what you learn during these meditations to your every day life. The other day, I was feeling so impatient with people around me, and I remember sitting in the car, closing my eyes and taking a deep inhale and an even deeper exhale. Meditation teaches you to notice your feelings and the patterns in your mind, which is beneficial for you, and those around you.

So, today, I decided to share 3 meditation applications that helped make my practice varied, interesting, challenging, and helpful.

  1. Headspace. This application helped kick start my meditation practice before going to Nepal and Bhutan. I did the free trial and decided to pay and sign up for the year. The app offers so many different meditations, from anger to sleep to patience. It was a great way to start and learn about the mind and how to use methods like noting or visualisation.
  2. Neo-Travel your mind. Created by Dawn Mauricio, this newly launched app brings you to magical places around the world like the Sahara, the Himalayas, and Hawaii. Any traveler will LOVE this app: you travel to different destinations, monasteries, islands on your map, your travel journal includes quotes and places you have been, and you get to write or draw your post-meditation feelings and thoughts. Free, with additional add-ons ($). Use it with headphones to enjoy the amazing sounds!
  3. Mindbliss. Mindbliss, created in Montreal, offers a wider range of meditation techniques than the other two apps. I love being guided by different people and styles. The daily meditations are always free, and you have access to several sessions for free as well.

Do you use any of these apps? Share your feedback 🙂

Easy, Healthy, Yummy muffins

So… everyone knows I love healthy baking. This recipe is a very easy, super healthy and delicious muffins.

They have no flour nor oils, and you can play around with the add-ins. The first time I made these, I mixed 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of pecans. Almonds and raisins or dried cranberries would also be delicious.

I also changed the mashed banana from the original recipe to make a fall version with pumpkin purée and also some cloves. Let me know how you like it!

The original version comes from Crazy for Crust 

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée (or 1 medium mashed banana)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup cashew milk (or almond, coconut, cow milk)
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven at 350F and prepare your muffin pan (either with paper or spray oil. If using paper, you do not need to use the oil).
  2. Whisk the eggs, and add the sugar, pumpkin purée, and vanilla. Stir in the cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Blend in the oats and the cashew milk. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop the muffin mix into the pan. They do not rise much, so you can fill them up almost up to the top.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes (or until the oatmeal is browned).
  6. Remove from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before removing the muffins from the pan.
  7. You can store these in the fridge for 2-3days or freeze them!

Bhutan: A Magical Kingdom

When I choose my travel destinations, I normally try to pick places that not many people know of, or that few have traveled to. Why? Because everyone always goes to the same places, the safer countries, those that are cheaper etc etc. But what about the other countries, those that are mysterious, or scary? More than this, I try to pick destinations I feel most attracted to, and yes this is normally for personal reasons or it depends on my mood, or the year I am having, or the activities that I am passionate about and want to do there.
Bhutan
I remember the first time I heard of Bhutan: it was probably around 2010. A a friend of mine traveled there to work and visit some friends. I remember to this day how fascinated she had been about the country and its people. As she told me about her trip and experiences in Bhutan, I had said to myself: one day, I will be going there.
And that day came sooner than I expected.
This little Himalayan country, with a population of 750,000 people, is unknown to many people still. When I told people I was going to Nepal and Bhutan, they would say: “Nepal and where? Where is that?”
Located north of India, near the Tibet border, the small country is nothing but magical and still has much to be explored. The landscape is beautiful and very green and everything that is cultivated is organic. The country is built according to the mountains, so you can see many temples and monasteries built into them. This means that the roads are winding, anyone with car sickness, bring your pills!
I felt like I was in a fairy tale, as our guide talked to us about kings and queens, monasteries and flying tigers. Here, there are no traffic lights, and barely any tourists.
Uniqueness
One thing that is very important for the country is their culture’s preservation. The government has preserved certain traditions by applying certain codes that do so. For instance, traditional architecture is mandatory. All homes and buildings must follow the architecture that was established by royal degree in 1998. The small arched windows and wood carved doors painted by hand are absolutely beautiful.
As well, traditional clothing is mandatory when working in Bhutan or during formal occasions. If people are simply with their friends and family, they can dress as they please. The kira (women) and the gho (men) are from the 17th century and made from woven fabric.
Bhutan is also unique for its Gross National Happiness indicator. Government policies are implemented according to these four pillars:
– Good Governance
– Sustainable Socio-Economic Development
– Preservation and Promotion of Culture
– Environmental Conservation
Measuring people’s happiness, rather than gauging a country’s economic health, brings in a whole new way to see the world. Although most Bhutanese claim that they are happy, according to the UN, the country remains one of the poorest. I will always remember when we visited a typical 17th century home in a small village, and I asked my guide if the people living there were considered poor. He answered me: No, they are not poor. They have a house, and family, and food, and everything they really need.
Comments like these make us think and question what happiness really means in the 21st century. Are we ever satisfied with what we have instead, or are we always wanting or wishing for more?
Thinking of visiting Bhutan? Check out my previous post with everything you need to know.

Post-Detox Reflexions

While I was doing my detox, I had several reflections about food. I wrote some in a previous post, that you can read here. However, after completing this intense detox, my reflections continued. Because sure, you detox to eliminate toxins from your, to re-balance your system, re-balance your doshas and to have a general feeling of lightness (not to loose weight) and so… then what? What is left from your detox experience? How else has it served you and what can you apply to your daily habits?

So, I decided to share some of my post-detox reflexions with you:

– It’s not always about food. Taking a step back made me reflect about our attachment to food. And I love the social part of it: cooking while having a glass of wine and talking, sharing recipes, etc. I just needed this experience to realise how much of my life revolved around food, and that is o.k.

– I appreciate the small things even more than before: my cup of coffee in the morning, a glass of wine, cheese. And these things are not to be completely eliminated (ever!!! Ahaha). Actually, most people might have found the detox or the diet requirements I am still on very difficult to maintain. But the truth is, they were not very far from my normal eating habits. So, yes, coffee, wine, and cheese were the harder ones to let go (and for now to reduce).

– I realise when I am full, or when I am satisfied. I am not a fast eater, which allows my body to know when I have had enough. But, after the detox, I feel like I have slowed down even more. As for wine, I seem to also have slowed down, enjoying every sip, and also realising when I have had enough: just simple awareness and appreciation.

-I don’t get in a bad mood because I get hungry. I used to wake up and right after brushing my teeth, I would make breakfast because I needed to eat within the first 30 minutes, otherwise I would get cranky. My meditation practice has changed this lately (10-20mins before breakfast) and my recent detox included additional morning rituals: pranayama, oil massages, tongue scraping etc etc. I do not get frustrated because I get hungry, I just acknowledge the feeling and am more patient.

Has anyone else done a detox before and had similar or different experiences or reflexions?

Detachment From Food

I have been feeling low energy and very tired, even when I sleep 10 hours a night. I saw my Ayurvedic doctor and she recommended I do a detox to balance out my kapha dosha, which is very high right now and shouldn’t be.

The detox’s total length is 5 days, plus another month during which I have to avoid certain foods. On the first day, I was getting familiar with the supplements I needed to take, and doing groceries (which was hard when you can’t eat most of it and your husband wants everything in the store!). I also started cooking the basic recipes I was sent. The first day went well overall. I had a few moments when I would open the fridge and see the beautiful, red strawberries right in my face and had to avoid them (ahaha).

On the second day however, after certain morning rituals (regular ones and also others appointed by my doctor), I made the second pancake recipe I was given. The maca pancakes were absolutely horrible, I literally spat out the pancake and couldn’t eat it. I felt bad throwing the batter out, but even after trying to “fix” the recipe, it just didn’t come out right.

And so, on this second day, I started thinking a lot about food, and my relationship with it. I made 3 salads for my husband, and some mashed potatoes, and took out some meat (which I don’t care about because I don’t eat it anyway). It was weird not tasting the potato mash to make sure that the salt and pepper were ok, or to make a salad and not grab a small bite of tomato or cucumber.

Then I started thinking… about how much of my day revolves around food. Maybe this is because I work from home, so it is always around me: I always have a cup of coffee or tea with me, and enjoy baking between translations or editions I am working on. So I started calculating and realised that I spend so much time looking for (or at) food recipes online, grocery shopping, organising food for the week, making new recipes, adjusting old ones, changing ingredients to make healthier versions of everything, taking photos to post on Instagram or on my blog, having meetings at coffee shops, post-workout smoothies in between meals… I mean, the list just goes on and on.

DETACHMENT
So my second day, is all about detachment: opening up the fridge and seeing the strawberries right in front of me, not being able to have one, and not letting it affect me or my mood whatsoever. Detachment is also what yoga teaches us after all, is it not? The practice of acknowledging certain thoughts and feelings, but not going deeper into them, and being able to let them go. Maintaining our state of inner peace, or of inner contentment no matter what external events.

I normally get into a bad mood when I am hungry, I sometimes cannot control it. On another day, those horrible pancakes I tried to make this morning would have made me angry or frustrated. I had been up for over an hour (doing my other rituals such as tongue scraping, cleaning my sinus, oil body massage, pranayama exercises, my daily meditation practice etc, etc). But no, I did not get mad at the pancakes, or at myself, for tasting horrible. I did not get desperate when I saw the bananas on the counter and couldn’t have one to just calm myself and the hungry down. Instead, I made the other pancake recipe I am allowed to have this week, it took me double the time to make breakfast, and in the end, I enjoyed it.

So far, not being able to have the food in the kitchen (it does help that I am avoiding opening up the huge cabinet will all the delicious stuff I can’t have), or not being able to prepare and eat food I make, or just the fact that I am on a mono-diet and eat the same thing every day, has made me appreciate the simplicity in what I am eating, as well as the extra time I have to do other things (like writing this long blog article).

We will see how things go on my third day. My craving for cooking is kicking in, but I do get to cook a new recipe for the last days of my detox.

I will keep you posted and follow my Instagram stories for more insights on my day-to-day detox experience @lacholaahabibii

Anyone else ever done an Ayurvedic detox? Any tips, thoughts, or comments you would like to share?

Thank you for reading

Namaste

What to eat/drink in Northern Spain

Pintxos
The Northern version of traditional tapas. These are actually double or triple the size than the ones I remember having in Andalusia. You can get wide varieties, from fish or seafood to cured ham. In San Sebastian, most restaurants offer pintxos, it is their way to have dinner.

Txakoli
This slightly sparkling, dry white wine is from the Basque region. Traditionally, this wine is served before meals, in a regular glass, and you only pour half an inch of it in everyone’s glass.

Jamón ibérico de bellota
The absolute finest cured ham available on the market. It is made from free range pigs that are on an acorn diet. This type of cured ham has been prized for its smoothness and rich, savoury flavour. 

Traditional sheep cheese
Known as Idiazabal, this pressed cheese is made from unpasteurised sheep milk. The cheese is aged for several months and you can try the smoked and un-smoked versions. It has a nut/buttery flavour and is typically served with quince jam.

Travel and Lifestyle