Category Archives: Food & Healthy Living

The Evolution of My Zumba

I was inspired to start a new health regime which is very normal for me. A forty-day boot camp was being offered at my daughter’s work, so I hopped on board. It was wonderful because it included unlimited access to other local fitness places. I did my usual extreme approach by creating a full-on schedule and daily lifestyle program for the forty days. One of my commitments was Zumba three days a week at the Chair Tease Dance studio.

Completely clueless on what to expect, I showed up for my first class. The owner and instructor Natalie showed me around. She asked if I’ve done Zumba before, and I said yes, but long time ago. She then said well we do it a little differently here, we are a little more aggressive in our approach. And here I was wondering if I’d get much of a workout at a Zumba class? Little did I know what I was in for. If I was paying more attention (just looking at their logo alone would have been a clue) I would have realized I was about to participate in a seductive class at a chair tease dance studio.

Naive and ready, I stood in my spot waiting for the class to start. The large room is dimly lit with small white lights strung along the ceiling. Mirrors were along the wall like most exercise studios. The instructor and her smiling face steps up front, the loud club like music comes on, and the fun begins!

I’m not sure what completely happened in that first class, I went into a mild shell shock once we started moving. I never felt so awkward in my life (okay that’s not true, but almost). I am not a clubber, dancer, partier, or socialite. I’ve spent the last 25 years of my life happily focused on my family and home. It’s not in my nature to just let loose in public, I have the planet Saturn in my first house and a twelfth house Moon in my natal chart.

So, the twerking, body rolling, shoulder shimming, and dropping it to the ground all begins. I kind of wanted to run out of class, but decided it was okay for me to be awkward, it being my first class and all. When all was said and done I headed home. With pancake eyes and delirious enthusiasm, I repeatedly told my story to each family member about my first day at Zumba. Being pretty much ripped out of my comfort zone I had no choice but to feel exhilarated.

My son asked me if I really planned on going back the next day. My OCD said I had to because it was in my schedule and a part of my commitment. Thankfully the second class was a tiny bit less awkward. A few more classes later and I stepped into the “I got this!” zone. I was beginning to do the moves at the right time and closer to the right way. I realized how stiff I had become over my adult years.

The part that I personally loved about this class was it gave me permission to dance and move in a way that didn’t rely on my own skills or imagination. I could follow the instructor which pleased my personal need for structure, yet I got to explore a kind of body freedom that I had unconsciously suppressed over the years. It was a safe way for me to liberate my spirit in motion through my physical form.

Slowly I began to relax enough that I could allow myself to swivel more freely without looking like it was my first day in a new body. I took on the challenge to get better at the class, to remember to have fun, and oh yeah get a great workout while doing so. I think I forgot to mention how intense the actual workout was, because it was the least of my focus, but according to my Fitbit it got my heart rate up to the peak zone and brought me over 6000 steps in one class!

The journey doesn’t end there though. Once I became comfortable enough to be fully participating, something else happened. I started looking a little closer at the image in the mirror that was doing all these crazy moves. I saw someone who became way too comfortable with being comfortable. I was wearing my super used and stretched out Hot Yoga shorts that went just past my knees, ugly old cream coloured indoor runners, and a baggy t-shirt from a flooring store (which sadly is a part of my everyday wardrobe). Here I was doing all of these sexy moves realizing how my frumpy look was not helping me participate in this new image I was trying to embrace. I know, I know…feeling and being sexy comes from the inside out, but since I had to take on the “fake-it until you make-it” approach I desperately needed to do something about this.

Luckily for me my birthday was around the corner. I was given money from my family so that I could go on a shopping spree. I used it to buy clothes I would feel more comfortable in while doing my Zumba. And even though they are far from anything sexy, they are more form fitting and much cuter than what I was wearing. It was a step in the right direction for me, even if it was just a baby one.

I had no idea that showing up to a Zumba class at the Chair Tease Dance studio was going to contribute to my Souls evolution. I am someone who is always learning and growing. I have studied many topics, been certified in many different areas, and take on consciously participating on this journey seriously. Even though I do Bikram Yoga and love to meditate, this kind of class seemed to have awoken a different kind of spiritual connection to my body. It supports my recent adventure of needing to live out loud and to remain pure without care or worry. I believe that moving energy and moving our bodies, is crucial to raising our vibration. It helps us live lighter and more connected to this experience in a holistic way.

Natalie’s Zumba class has liberated my beliefs on how I’m supposed to use my body. I’ve shed about 9 pounds since starting and have shed some inhibitions that I’ve been carrying around for far too long. Every day is an opportunity to grow and evolve, you just need to put yourself out there, out of your comfort zone, and into new places. Showing up for a Zumba class was another one of life’s moments that invoked my presence and awareness.

My call to action was to get out of my over analytical mind and just be in my body. I was pulled to stop attending at one point because of all of the things my mind told me I wasn’t. Not to mention the anxiety to make sure I got there early enough to be in the back row, but then being stuck longer in the large social group situation while waiting for class to start, which I’d rather avoid. But being in the back row wins over avoiding sitting awkwardly waiting for class to begin (I’m much more of a small group or one on one kind of socializer).

I have now let go of all my busyness and fuss around this crazy new Zumba thing I’m doing. No longer do I need to tell everyone I come across about what I’m doing in class that I never thought I’d be doing [insert awkward demonstration here]. I can now just focus on doing this for me and will continue to remind myself to let go of everything else around it.

I’ve accepted that my Mars in Libra loves to dance for exercise and also love that this class does not require any prior pep talk. There are no “I should go exercise” speeches in my mind because I actually want to go. I am getting more fit in the process, which was my goal all along when I first put it in my workout schedule. I guess I just needed a little evolutionary detour through the world of Zumba to recognize that this aligns to my truth, and yes exercise can be fun!

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Cosmic Whispers

Cosmic Whispers

One day as I was driving home from a mini road trip when I heard a soft whisper sweep across my mind.  It asked, “are you willing?”  “Willing to do what?” I answered.

At that moment my life passed before me.  I saw all of my triumphs that my willpower had allowed me to accomplish.  I saw the lifelong struggle of changing my conditioning of yo-yo dieting and trying to figure out the best formula for an optimal “me.”  I realized that many times my Willpower faded at one point or another, always bringing me back to where I started, or worse, even further behind. I then realized there was a difference between Willpower and Willingness.  Willpower was dependent on outside circumstances and where I was in my life.  It always seemed to have a limited lifespan.  I was tricked into believing it was powerful, because it always returned and got me going strong.

I felt this Cosmic whisper permeate through all of my being “Am I Willing?” Knowing personally from years of programs and multiple adventures, I knew I needed to make a plan and find clarity to what it was I wanted to accomplish. My current and old time familiar resolution to become fit and healthy was at the top of my list.  I sat down with at very detailed plan of action to eat better, move more, and take this all to the next level.

I felt I for sure had it this time, with my new tool in my tool belt “Am I willing?”  I realized that when we choose to not do something, we are simply not willing.  I would love to be an amazing guitar player, but the facts are I am not willing to apply the discipline required to accomplish this.  I can talk all day long about wanting to be healthy, but when the easy part of running off adrenaline and enthusiasm wears off, am I willing to still do what it takes to see the results I wish to accomplish?  Will power is a great starting tool, it pushes us into change and gets us through the initial hurtles, but as I said before its life is temporary.

My favourite time was about to arrive, the start of a new month, on a Monday! My goals were clear, and I was set.  My drive shot me through the gates as usual, I was determined and clear that I was more than ready to see if I was actually “Willing.” I started my usual raw food cleanse, returned to Hot Yoga after a six- month hiatus, and took walks when the opportunity presented itself.  Whenever I felt less than motivated I would ask myself “are you willing to do what you need to in order to see the results you wish to see?”

Being in my early forties, I was seeing that I have fallen into a more complacent way of doing things, in some areas of my life.  I liked the feeling of being comfortable more than pushing myself to being uncomfortable.  I slowly began to realize that the answer was “no…I am not willing.”  Amused by my lack of willingness I wanted to explore this some more.  My favourite way to do this is through reflective conversations with my dear partner of many years.  I was wondering why I was no longer willing to do what I feel like I need to do.  Was I too old, am I just too lazy, have I given up? My partner then asked me, “who are you?”  I said, “I am that I am” I know this.  “Right” he said, “now who are you identifying with, who is it that is not willing?”

I realized then that it was my ego that did not want to give up center stage.  My ego has had the main role in this part of my life for as long as I can remember. The truth of who I actually am is always willing to do what is in my best interest. It knows I need to move my body, and feed it well.  Because I was allowing my ego to do my driving once my willpower ran out, and it was now up to the truth of my being, my ego shoved it aside and created a familiar choice of old behaviour.  Ego will always be present, but I learned that I was falsely identifying that as my truth, and I was following it down the path of not willing. After all what kind of drama is created when we just forge ahead doing what we need to do?  The simple truth is much too boring for the ego.

Now shaking off the alignment with ego is another story, but I was grateful to have the clarity to why I wasn’t always willing.  I got six days into my raw cleanse and exercising, when I started to slip back into my less than desirable choices.  It was apparent that I wasn’t willing to do what it takes to achieve my lifetime goals of finding a healthy balanced lifestyle.

The Cosmic whisper that I chose to ignore, saw this.  The message returned, but it was not a whisper, it was a very stern loud voice.

I was lying in bed with a very uncomfortable ache on my right side.  The pain gradually increased to the point of not being able to handle it.  I went to the couch, tossed and turned with tears in my eyes.  I am not one to run the hospital, but this was not normal.  Two hours later I went to the emergency room.  After three doses of morphine I was still in pain, but did not want anymore drugs. The pain eventually decreased, I got some rest and eventually felt okay.

I went for an ultra sound the next day, and I had three doctors scratching their heads.  They could not understand why I was not in excruciating pain.  They asked if I had a high pain tolerance? Apparently I have gallstones and my gallbladder is very inflamed.  They wanted to admit me immediately to remove my gallbladder.  I asked my usual million questions and then asked to go home. I kept in mind all that they shared and then I did my own research.  I chose not to remove a part of my digestive system at this time.

I now had to accept the truth of the changes I had to make.  The Cosmic message that was much louder was again asking “ARE YOU WILLING NOW?”  I was being asked to find that healthy lifestyle, which does not include yo-yo dieting.  My extreme healthy eating with very low fat, to my more indulgent high fat lifestyle was doing me no favour.  I had to accept that I needed to eat more, with more of a healthy variety of foods, and a lot more overall balance.

Not wanting to experience the pain I felt last week, or to be told you should have removed your gallbladder, I have humbly had to re-vamp my whole approach to what living healthy looks like.  I have explored this topic nine ways to Sunday, but the simple truth that was not dramatic enough for my ego, was what the “I am that I am” knew all along.  “Am I willing now?”  “Yes…I am.”

I know from life experience that at first the Universe whispers, it then speaks a little louder if I act as though I did not hear it, and eventually it shouts.  If I decide to no longer be willing to do what I need to, in order to live a healthy life for the remainder of my journey here, then the next wake up call could be a lot worse.  I do not wish to hear the Cosmos shout at me.

We receive messages all of the time of what needs to be done in our lives, whether it is following our passion, creating change, reaching out to a loved one, or whatever else is relevant to our spiritual path.  Each turn of events provokes the Cosmos to nudge us with the ever imminent question of “Are You Willing, Now?”

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Raw and Grateful

Sun BurgerWhat does one get excited to eat for Thanksgiving dinner when they are doing a raw cleanse?  Well this one is very excited to enjoy one of my favourite raw dishes from Raw Roses book, Uncooking with Raw Rose. It is the delicious Sun Burgers with all of the fixings. Just a warning here as I continue to blog about my raw cleanse, I will be mentioning Rose’s book often, but mostly because it is my favourite raw recipe book. If you are interested in this particular recipe you’ll have to contact Rose or myself to purchase her book.  I am writing about my cleanse, but for those of you interested in the recipe, that is where you’ll find it.

I want to share that it is possible to be just as excited for Thanksgiving Dinner as everyone else craving their turkey and mashed potatoes.  I made sure that yesterday I did all of my own food preparation so that I would be able to sit down at the family dinner table tonight and be just as satisfied.  My bonus will be that I won’t suffer from the food coma like everyone else (that doesn’t mean I am doing all the dishes by myself after).  While the family is enjoying pumpkin pie, I will be very grateful for the wonderful gourmet raw chocolates that I made for my dessert.

If I sound like the typical “dieter” who sadly munches on their salad wishing they were eating what everyone else was, but pretends they are loving their salad, this is definitely not the case.  I am truly excited about my dinner tonight, and feel so very grateful for the abundance of fresh, healthy food that I am able to enjoy.  I know I’m doing what my body needs me to.  In the recent past I’ve chosen a very out of balance way of being and I now have the motivation to correct it.  My health has become my priority thanks to the support of my transiting planets of my astrological chart, and I am not going to waste this loving, supporting energy.

I have collected a lot of tools over the years for living and being healthy, and I’ve practiced many ways of being.  I have “failed” and “succeeded” over and over and each time I’ve been able to keep a gem for my treasure box, seeing the beauty in each lesson.  Now I get to practice presence and to not hold onto judgements of the past.  I am here now, and this is all that matters.  Today I choose to do what is in the highest good for my well-being, and that is enough. I have let go of excuses, and blaming others for not fully supporting me or not choosing to make the same choices as me.  This is my journey, and I need to be fully accountable.  I am grateful to be in this place today.  I am grateful for my beautiful family.  I am also grateful for the opportunity to make every moment a new beginning to practice being the best me I know how to be, without judgement.  I am here, now…and I am so very grateful to experience it with the freshness of each brand new moment, over and over again.

 

Toppings
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Raw Noodles & Pesto

Zucchini & Pesto NoodlesMy partner said to me last night, it must be hard to get full while eating raw.  I replied it’s actually more difficult for me to get hungry!

I start each day with a fresh juice or smoothie, later I snack on some fruit and vegetables, then I try and eat my supper around 3 or 4 in the afternoon (I enjoy it most at this time).

The food I am consuming is so full of nutrients that my body is able to use; it gets the job done right the first time around.  I am not mindlessly consuming empty, lifeless food hoping to eventually feel full.  I also get the benefit of feeling energized after I eat instead of feeling like I need to go and relax because I ate too much.  So for now I am enjoying the positive benefits of my raw cleanse.

As one of my mentors Raw Rose likes to quote:

“Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels”      – Anthony Robbins

Here is one of my suppers I made for myself that was quick, easy, and really yummy!

Zucchini

Raw Noodles & Pesto

 Zucchini 

  • Make desired amount of Zucchini noodles using a peeler or mandolin 

Creamy Avocado Pesto

  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Cup of Spinach
  • ½ Cup Pecans
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • ¼ Cup of fresh Basil
  • 1 Tbsp. of Lemon juice
  • ½ of Water or more to get desired consistency
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

– Blend ingredients in a blender

Vegan Parmesan Cheez (optional) 

  • ½ cup slivered Almonds
  • ½ cup raw Cashews
  • ¼ cup Nutritional Yeast
  • ½ teaspoon Sea Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder

– Combine all of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Pulse until a fine meal forms

– Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 months

Assembling Noodles and Pesto:

– Toss Zucchini Noodles and  desired amount of Pesto Sauce in a bowl

– Sprinkle some Vegan Parmesan Cheez on top

– Add fresh Cherry Tomatoes (optional)


Ingredient List:

  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Cup of Spinach
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • ¼ Cup of fresh Basil
  • 1 Tbsp. of Lemon juice
  • ½ cup slivered Almonds
  • ½ cup raw Cashews
  • ½ Cup Pecans
  • ¼ cup Nutritional Yeast
  • ¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • Salt and Pepper

Recipe by Raven Magik

www.ravenmagik.com

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Going “Raw”

FullSizeRenderThe other day while talking to my sister-in-law she told me her neighbour gave her a fresh zucchini from the garden, and that she wanted me to have it. She then sweetly follows up with, could you pleeaaasseee make me that amazing raw lasagna?  I haven’t made it in years, but lucky for her I was about to venture into a raw food cleanse. This to me was a sign from the Universe that I am being supported to follow through on my recent contemplation of taking on a raw food lifestyle in order to bring myself back into balance.

This particular recipe is one of the fussier raw food dishes that I like to make. I tend to only be motivated to create such meals when I am eating clean, real food. Apart of it I believe has to do with energy levels.  I feel inspired and motivated to accomplish a lot more in my everyday routine when I’m fuelled by living foods with a higher vibrational frequency.

Other benefits I find is that my taste buds change and I get really excited about eating real food, and only real food.  If you are wondering how could someone eat something that wasn’t real, well my definition of food that isn’t real refers to the processed, modified, chemically altered and tampered with products that have been mastered into luring and deceitful products.  Some of us love to consume these food imposters even though we really shouldn’t.  I then take it to the next level by not cooking my real food, so all the live enzymes stay in tact.

Once upon a time I was a firm believer of only eating 100% raw food, but this is because when I did for a period of six consecutive months, I felt the most energized and on top of the world in my entire adult life.  I have since evolved into seeing the benefits of other ways to eating healthy whole foods, and know that many people feel great consuming cooked grains, beans, vegetables etc.  I think that since we are such complex beings that the most important way of living, comes down to finding out the formula that resonates best for you.  In our society food is much more than physical nourishment, so based on many different personal factors, there will be lots to consider.

At this moment I am choosing to cleanse and detox by consuming 99% raw. I only leave out that 1% because sometimes I’ll eat a toasted nut or two, or maybe eat non-raw nori, but my goal is to eat as much fresh fruits and vegetables as possible.  When eating this way your body eventually is able to use all that you consume and therefore hunger doesn’t happen the same as before.  Because you aren’t putting in empty, useless calories that the body can’t utilize, you need a lot less food each day,  well at least that is my experience.

After a few days of detoxing and feeling disoriented as my body tries to figure out what to do with the lack of processed cooked food, and how to make the most of the fresh living foods, I start to feel good.  I’m still up and down a bit, but I’ve spent far too long eating whatever.  I’ve been a strict vegetarian for 17 years now, but on and off as a raw foodist, or vegan.  As we all know there are way to many concoctions out there to support an unhealthy vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.  I have even learned you can be an unhealthy raw foodist.

The most important thing when it comes to following a healthy lifestyle, is to know that you are your best doctor, nutritionist, or coach.  Listen to your body, research what interests you, learn from others as well, but in the end you know what works best and what you need.  There is far too much information and opinions out there, especially in the health industry, and it is changing all of the time.  The thing I love about this is that it has forced me to be the one to know what I need, or to at least try and figure it out.  I have also found it important to not attach to the labels such as “vegan” or whatever because it then limits the ability to truly listen to the body and it’s needs.  It is all a process, and with multiple important planets in my sixth house in my astrological natal chart, it is a major part of my journey to focus on my health and mastering my optimal self.

Once I hit day five of eating raw, I felt inspired enough to make the raw lasagna that my sister-in-law requested.  It is a two day recipe, but oh so worth it.  I decided to take pictures and share it here with you.  I look forward to eating it for my 3:00 supper today, and will happily share it with other family members who are interested to try it as well.

Today I am inspired to create some delicious raw desserts like raw chocolates, raw “cheez” cake with berry sauce, or a chocolate coconut cake.  Once I get started I wouldn’t be surprised if I make them all!

Almond Ricotta

 

By request, here is the recipe:

Raw Lasagna Recipe

 Extra Prep Time:

  • Prepare Almond Cheez (soak 8 hrs. + ferment 8 hrs.)
  • Soak sun-dried tomatoes
  • Marinate mushrooms for at least 1 hour to overnight
  • Lasagna can be warmed in dehydrator 1-2 hours

Quantity: 7”x 7” casserole dish, or 9” round spring form pan (4-6 servings)

 Ingredient List:

  • 1 green onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 4 portabella mushrooms
  • 2-3 medium zucchini
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 2 vine ripe red tomatoes
  • 1 cup dried tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ¼ teaspoon probiotic powder
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup Nama Shoyu or other unpasteurized soy sauce
  • 1 cup of almonds
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • ½ cup raw cashews

Directions: 

Almond Ricotta:

  • 1 cup Almond Cheez
  • 1 Green Onion (minced fine)
  • 1 Garlic Clove (crushed)
  • ¼ teaspoon Sea Salt
  • Place ingredients in a bowl, mix well and set aside

Almond Cheez:

  • 1 cup of Almonds to soak (8-12 hours)
  • ½ cup water + ¼ teaspoon probiotic powder (= 1 capsule)

To make Almond Cheez, leave skin on, or remove it. The colour and texture are more cheese-like when skin is removed. For both methods:

  • Soak almonds in cold water 8-12 hours
  • To make a white, creamy ricotta, remove skins by pinch/peel almonds while they are still in water. Discard soak water and skins
  • Rinse and drain peeled or unpeeled almonds. Blend almonds with water and probiotic powder until smooth and creamy
  • Pour into a nut mylk bag hanging over a bowl (to catch drippings), or put a nut mylk bag or cheesecloth into a colander, over a bowl. Do not use a metal colander or strainer. Ferment 8 – 12 hours (less in warmer weather) in a warm (not hot) place. If the room is cold with no warm location, cover with a damp towel and place in dehydrator set at 90º
  • When desired fermentation is reached, scoop out cheez and store in a covered glass container up to a week

Tomato Pesto Layer

  • 1 cup Dried Tomatoes
  • Water to reconstitute
  • 1 bunch of Basil
  • 1 cup Pine Nuts
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ teaspoon Sea Salt
  • Soften tomatoes in a small amount of water. Drain, reserving liquid, and place in a food processor fitted with an “S” blade
  • Pulse together with the rest of the ingredients until it is a thick paste. If need be, add enough of the tomato soak water to complete processing

Mushroom Layer

  • 4 Portabella Mushrooms
  • ¼ cup Nama Shoyu or other unpasteurized soy sauce
  • Rinse, dry, and stem caps.
  • Slice thinly crosswise, place in bowl and stir in soy sauce to coat
  • Let sit one hour to overnight in the refrigerator
  • Drain and press out excess liquid before using

Zucchini Layer

  • 2-3 medium Zucchini, sliced 1/16 inch thick lengthwise using a cheese slicer or vegetable peeler or a mandolin

Spinach Layer

  • 2 cups Spinach (chop just before assembling Lasagna)

Tomato Layer:

  • 2 vine ripe red Tomatoes, sliced thin

Vegan Parmesan Cheese

  • ½ cup slivered Almonds
  • ½ cup raw Cashews
  • ¼ cup Nutritional Yeast
  • ½ teaspoon Sea Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • Combine all of the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Pulse until a fine meal forms
  • Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 months

Assembling Lasagna:

  • Lay strips of zucchini lengthwise and crosswise in dish
  • Spoon some of the tomato pesto on top and spread evenly
  • Cover with a layer of mushrooms and press with spatula
  • Spoon and spread 1/2 of the ricotta cheez
  • Cover with a layer of spinach
  • Press firmly
  • Repeat above steps
  • Add a last layer of zucchini slices
  • Top with fresh sliced tomatoes
  • Finish by sprinkling Parmesan Cheez across the top
  • Serve immediately, or warm in dehydrator at 125 º for 1 to 2 hours. Store in fridge up to 2 days

*Inspired by different recipes including the Almond Ricotta from Uncooking with Raw Rose.

 Recipe by Raven Magik

www.ravenmagik.com

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