Falling IIN: Quinoa with Roasted Butternut Squash

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I have officially started my journey to become a holistic health coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, and it is exciting.  I have become really passionate about health and wellness and I am looking forward to sharing what I learn along the way.  Tonight’s dinner deserved to be shared.  I can tell when I make something really good when my husband compliments me profusely throughout the meal.  So that means this meal isn’t just healthy but super tasty.  I found this recipe on IIN’s Facebook page, it called for kamut, but I used red quinoa instead.

Side for 4, Generous main dish for 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 small leek, sliced
  • 3 shallots, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/3 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2.  Get your quinoa or any grain you choose to use ready
  3. While the quinoa is cooking, place the cubed butternut squash on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes.
  4. When the quinoa is almost done cooking, heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the leek and shallots, then season with salt and pepper. Sauté gently for 15 minutes or until golden, but not browned.
  5. Increase heat to medium-high and add mustard seeds, curry powder, cumin and cayenne, if desired. Cook and stir for one minute to bloom the spices. Add the white wine vinegar and cook for two minutes more.
  6. Remove from heat and add to the cooked quinoa.
  7. Stir in the lemon juice, roasted squash and fresh parsley. Add salt and pepper, as desired. Toss well and serve warm or at room temperature.

Take a deep breath and enjoy!

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Writing Reality

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my new dance room

Starting new things can be tricky.  And starting a new job, at a new school has been challenging to navigate.  I have been constantly wondering: Where do I go for what? Who do I ask?  How will I make friends (for real)?  My mind becomes filled with the general thought of – everything is hard.  Everything!  Like making friends, getting my room set up, planning my curriculum, finding the right person to talk to, etc, etc.  Eventually I started to believe the voices in my head, and I felt super stuck.  So I took matters into my own hands, and practiced a method I have been learning thanks to my work with Handel.

I write what I want my life to look like.  I filled my mini-intention book with big declarations for my day first thing in the morning.

mini green intention book

So this is what I wrote…

Tuesday:

I am an irresistible friend.  People are drawn to me because I am a good listener.  I make people feel valued and I am interesting.  I am a source of energy and light and people gravitate towards me.

The Result:

The moment I walked into the building Tuesday morning a woman who I have not yet met, came directly up to me and introduced herself.  I had meaningful conversations with people I had not yet seen since we returned to school, I had a place to sit at lunch, I was an irresistible friend!

Wednesday: 

I am a powerful leader.  I speak with clarity and grace, and I get what I want and what I need seamlessly.  It is easy, I attract things effortlessly.

The Result:  The materials that I was missing for my dance room were delivered straight to my room.  I found more of my missing materials in a pile on the 7th floor.  I ate lunch with my boss and went through my whole laundry list of requests that were received openly.  I was a powerhouse of clarity and grace!

I know it is silly, I sometimes can’t help but laugh at myself while I am sitting on the subway telling myself ‘You are an irresistible friend Leah!’.   haha. BUT IT WORKS!  There is something very powerful that happens when you claim something before it has become real.  Chasing out the negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones.  By setting my intention for the day ahead my thoughts and actions are channeled and in alignment with my ultimate vision for who I want to be.

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Being the Source

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I just returned from a 12 day vacation that was filled with the most glorious happenings.  I saw bright yellow finches flying around purple flowers, an intricately symmetrical spider web glistening in the sun – with the spider waiting patiently in the center of the web, a shooting star, and luminescent jellyfish on a kayak ride home from dinner.  I spent time with family and long lost friends, rode my bike, ran around the island, napped in the hammock, and of course soaked in the sun.

One morning I rode my bike out to an isolated beach to do my morning yoga and I literally laughed out loud with how incredible life has been.  Then I remembered a sentence I wrote in my journal – defining my dreams through my work with the Handel Group  : “The most magical form of life comes from me and I can’t help but laugh with gratitude.” All of a sudden the words I wrote on a piece of paper a few weeks ago were completely my reality.  Crazy!

It is so easy to think and believe that the world comes at you, but really – the world, your world is coming from you.  Reality comes from your thoughts, your breath, your food, your interactions, your experiences, your relationship to yourself, to others – it all is coming from YOU.  That is some pretty powerful stuff right there, and important to remember your power when you are feeling blocked, frustrated, lost – because that is a natural part of life too.  At the same time – when life just simply rocks, acknowledge yourself because you created just that.

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A Little Spice

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I was inspired by this blog post, to do something grand for my very sweet guy.  So I decided to bake him a cherry pie.  He has been nostalgic for a while for this taste, so I gathered some cherries and wrestled the pits out of their case.

I made a healthy crust: almond milk, whole wheat flour, and canola oil.  Rolled and rolled it out nice and flat, then set it to bake…and well, you could certainly taste the healthiness in the crust.  Since it has remained almost full under foil ever since.

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It may have been burned, with cherry juice bubbling ferociously over- it certainly was not the most beautiful pie around.   Still the sentiment of love, appreciation, and surprise remained strong and true, and that’s all that counts for me and you.

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Maker vs Taker

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Boy, what a gift it has been to be a student these past two weeks.  I have been soaking up all sorts of information in all types of forms, from yoga classes, to one big and juicy dance workshop, to preparing for the upcoming school year with trainings for technology, language immersion, and mindfulness.  I have certainly been taking.  But that’s OK – because I have spent the whole year making: teaching, planning, brainstorming, questioning, reflecting, researching, GIVING etc.  This is a sweet break to receive and reflect.

The buffer of time and space is VITAL for me to renew and reenergize so I can continue to be the fantastically productive, creative, thoughtful, and compassionate being that I strive to be.  I have rediscovered the beauty of the outer edges of my feet in downward facing dog, the power of planning lessons with the end in mind, and the fine balance of utilizing technology.

With technology as a big component of my school, we were prompted to complete the sentence:  My Digital Life is like … and there were many awesome responses:

  • the cheese section at Whole Foods (so many choices, you have your favorites that you always go to, sometimes you try something new, and sometimes you end up with a belly ache)
  • a black hole (where in the world did that past hour go?  what did I even do?)
  • a road trip (you know where you want to go, but sometimes you end up on these exciting detours discovering something new, and then other times you end up somewhere you really just don’t want to be

This conversation lead to the guideline of being a maker rather than a taker when it comes to using the internet (and can be applicable to many other parts of life).  What can be created?  What is the ratio of consuming vs. creating?  How often do I mindlessly check the Facebook feed, my email, then back to the newsfeed, and back to my email?  Well, when I am tired or waiting – a little too much, and rarely does that surfing leave me feeling better or more fulfilled.  How often do I put meaningful content out there?  …

What a clear way to put it: be a maker and not a taker.  I never thought of it like that, but I think with that model in my mind I may leave the computer feeling less drained and unrooted and perhaps more nourished and excited.  What do you think?

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Quick Change

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I have changed cities as briskly as having to change costumes in 3 minutes time.  Getting out of my old costume and into my new costume with just enough time to get back on stage, and back to the show.  I left DC after a full day of camp on Friday afternoon, and arrived in NYC just in time for a Saturday morning training for my new job.  So my first week in my ‘new costume’ has been quick and filled to the brim with wonderful happenings.

It has included visits with many awesome friends both planned and unplanned.  Picnicking while listening to the Philharmonic in Prospect Park.  Being treated to a complimentary mango sorbet at Fig & Olive.  Making this tasty chocolate and strawberry smoothie.  Taking a heart pumping yoga class at 6 am that was only an elevator ride away.  Having the time to reflect and grow as an early childhood dance educator at the 92 St Y’s Wonderdance Summer Intensive.  Morning runs over the Brooklyn Bridge and watching the sunset right outside 1 Brooklyn Bridge.

So things have been good.  It feels incredible to be back, and I feel like I am right where I belong.  This week I will begin a two week training for my new job, get together with some more friends and family, see some apartments, and hopefully indulge in some healthier eating.

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