While working as a naturalist for the Cincinnati Park Board, I had a wonderful opportunity to learn and demo the process of gathering sap and boiling it down into maple syrup. This culminated into a weekend public event featuring pancakes with fresh maple syrup. I already had a well developed taste for maple syrup but my curiosity led me to research the possible health benefits of pure maple syrup.
Yep! Pure maple syrup has some great health benefits. As a sugar substitute, maple sugar offers antioxidants that support the body’s immune system. It contains magnesium, calcium, and potassium which decrease the potential for hypertension and stroke. Pure maple syrup has a low glycemic index (does not cause the same spike in blood insulin levels as cane sugar) benefiting people with diabetes. It is three times as sweet as cane sugar with fewer calories – 50 calories per tablespoon. For more nutritive information go to http://www.purecanadamaple.com/benefits-of-maple-syrup/sugar-alternative
Pure organic maple syrup can be substituted for sugar in most recipes. It is recommended to use 2/3 cup organic maple syrup for 1 cup of sugar and to lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees. The sugars in the syrup caramelize at a higher temperature. Also, reduce the liquids in your recipe by ¼ cup. Just two of the many recipes I found at http://www.maplesyrupworld.com/pages/maple-main-course-recipe.html, Spinach Salad with Glazed Beets & Blue Cheese or Chili Pork in Sweet Maple Sauce, tells me maple syrup is a lot more than a pancake dressing.
What are some of your ways to use maple syrup?
As I watch my Amaryllis plant thrust a thick green shoot toward the sun from the bulb below, I know my eyes are tricking me. The sun’s light is beckoning the plant’s stem to emerge through photosynthesis; eventually revealing its beauty in a fully formed flower. Using the forces of nature as a guide enables us to move our bodies with maximum strength, range of motion and grace.
Whether you practice yoga, Pilates, running etc… or going about your daily life you can apply basic forces in nature to enhance your body’s movement. For instance, while stretching your body, first notice areas of tension or restriction. Now imagine the dynamic of levity or lightness while you are feeling the warmth of the sun’s rays inviting a release of muscle contraction. Without consciously changing what you are doing, your muscles automatically respond to this new impulse. Your body expands into greater freedom of movement.
Ideally, we want all of our body’s movements to be in balance, using both gravity and levity. In addition to fluid and graceful movement that is properly aligned, the forces of gravity and levity benefit our emotional body as well. Jaimen McMillan shares in The Fourfold Path to Healing, in describing the benefits of the exercise the Crest, “Through it the Emotional Body swings through the sensation of rounded heaviness and extension in lightness. It is thus good for back pain, adrenal problems, digestive disorders, diabetes, osteoporosis, neurological problems and weight loss (as the body feels the difference between hovering and full heaviness).”
Notice how you are moving. Are there some muscles that are restricting your movement? Are you lacking strength in some parts of your body due to muscles that are not fully functioning? Try using the dynamic of lightness in a playful way. What are your results?
I will be giving a workshop on Spatial Dynamics this Saturday, January 31st, at 9:30 a.m. at Unity of Wilmington in Wilmington, North Carolina. To register for the workshop click here. For information on Spatial Dynamics go to http://www.spacialdynamics.com/
I have heard it said that when a sculptor works she takes away what is not needed; revealing exquisite form in space. This dynamic also applies to creating graceful, fluid movement in the human body.
Posture is defined as: the way in which your body is positioned when you are sitting or standing. However, we are continually moving from one posture to another. The manner in which we move our body becomes important, and I believe movement is more important than posture. Posture is static, whereas movement is dynamic.
When we experience pain in our body, often the originating cause is a misalignment in the way we move. A chronic neck pain could be created from constricting and tensing your muscles while doing common activities such as chopping vegetables. Jaimen McMillan, co-author of The Fourfold Path to Healing, explains, ‘Imagine a magnet underneath the board pulling the knife across the space between you and the vegetables… movement is a release rather than an effort…allowing the cutting to precede with ease.’
If we practice ‘movement as a release’ in our daily activities, then we too are sculpting a beautiful way of moving in the world. For more information go to http://www.spacialdynamics.com/whatIsSpacialDymanics.shtml
How is your body feeling?
I will be giving a workshop on Spacial Dynamics Saturday, January 31st, 9:30 am at Unity of Wilmington. To register click here.
While attending a piano concert yesterday, I heard all around me little coughs, sounds of sniffles and many ‘harrumphs’ of people clearing their throats. Whether it is from sinus congestion, allergy, cold or sometimes referred to as “winter funk”, people are experiencing that irritating tickle in their throats.
So what can you do?
Breathing over a bowl of boiling water that has slivers of fresh ginger root in it with a towel draped over your head, trapping the steam coming up into your mouth and nasal passageways, really helps clear out the mucous and open the sinuses. ‘The medicinal components of ginger are its essential oils, antioxidants and oleoresin…they can relieve, soothe and suppress coughing.’ http://www.livestrong.com/article/539683-the-benefits-of-ginger-for-a-cough/
You can also make an Ayurvedic tea: boil one cup water in a pot on the stove with 1/8 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger and juice of one half of a lemon. Pour into a cup and add one tablespoon of raw honey. *Please note that it is not advised for children under the age of two to consume honey.
While lemon supports your body’s health by alkalinizing your body (bringing the ph value back into balance), honey kills pathonogenic bacteria. For other recipes using ginger, honey and lemon to make your own cough medicine go to https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/simple-recipes-childrens-cough-cold-and-flu-syrups
What are some of your remedies for a cough?
OK… right now if you’re like me you are scratching your body day and night. While I don’t see any obvious redness or flakiness on my skin, I feel the effects of dry, irritated skin! Now is the time I pull out of my ‘bag of health tricks’… oatmeal and goat’s milk.
Why oatmeal and goat’s milk?
In addition to eating a bowl of hot oatmeal for breakfast or my all time favorite oatmeal pancakes, I use oatmeal as a health and beauty treatment. Oatmeal is a fantastic skin protector! “It helps soothe skin that’s itchy, painful or irritated.” http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/problems/treating/oatmeal-baths.htm
Goat’s milk is wonderful to use as soap – anytime – but especially in the winter. Using goat’s milk soap is beneficial for dry, sensitive skin or skin prone to eczema and psoriasis. It contains vitamins, cream and minerals in addition to alpha-hydroxyl acids. ‘Alpha-hydroxyl acids such as lactic acid help remove dead skin cells…leaving new cells on the surface of your skin that are younger looking.’ http://www.goatmilkstuff.com/Goat-Milk-Soap-Benefits.html
And one other ‘trick’ I use is taking a soft all natural bristle brush and gently brushing the surface of my body before bathing to remove dead skin cells and stimulate oil and sweat glands. Taking SHORT warm baths with sea salts, oatmeal and a bar of goat’s milk soap leaves my skin nourished, soothed and cleansed. My final step is lightly spraying my body, while the skin is still damp, with high quality vitamin E oil.
For a great ready-to-use bath salt with oatmeal go to https://www.etsy.com/listing/214607502/all-natural-bath-salts-oatmeal-milk-and?ref=shop_home_active_1
What are your remedies for “winter” skin?
“We are all collectively bonded to each other while on Earth, united in this one supreme purpose: to learn to love one another.” Betty J. Eadie
Embraced By The Light, p. 97
While visiting my daughter in New York for Christmas, I had my first sensational experience with a HOMEMADE marshmallow atop a steaming mug of chocolate! The out-of-the-bag marshmallows are vapid in comparison. This marshmallow was huge! It completely filled the top of the cup with a melting, moist, gooey texture that added just the right touch of sweetness below to the rich dark chocolate. Seriously, I was in heaven!
So…I decided to look into making marshmallows from scratch. I was pleasantly surprised. They are not that difficult to make and I even found a HEALTHY version. One chef created a recipe using honey instead of sugar, gelatin (containing collagen – basic building block of skin, hair, nails, bones and joints), probiotics (supports a healthy digestive and immune system) and marshmallow root (for soothing sore throats, congestion, UTIs, heartburn and indigestion). http://wellnessmama.com/6423/healthy-marshmallows/
The other recipe I liked is traditional and quick; it produces wonderful results. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/homemade-marshmallows-recipe.html You can also experiment with different flavorings such as mint, lemon, almond and cocoa in addition to vanilla. And… if you really want to get fancy; use cookie cutters to make stars, snowmen, or angel marshmallows. Let your culinary creativity out of the box and start a new holiday tradition. Have homemade marshmallows for your hot chocolate and taste a little bit of heaven.
What are your family traditions for the holidays?
I love music! Music transports me into different rooms of my soul. Music cradles me in love and healing. I use music to enhance the healing process during a massage. Silence, also a part of the healing process, is heard in the space between the notes. I believe it is the balance between silence and sound that creates the healing experience.
Nature inherently creates sound healing through the movement of energy in wind, water, electricity, expansion (heat) and contraction (cold). Sound tracks abound using the natural world as inspiration. Musicians all over the world are now composing multitudes of healing scores which are used in many hospitals.
Matt Peroutka, Certified Music Practitioner, describes his experience with one patient, ‘I noticed that a woman was waving. She was lying in bed and conducting. Me. It’s common for our PACU (Post-Anesthesia Care Unit) to have a small sponge mounted on the end of a paper stick when they are not allowed to eat or drink. For this woman that sponge was her baton and I was her orchestra.’ http://www.mhtp.org/Data/Web/mhtpnews0514final.pdf
I leave you with a beautiful sound track featuring Tibetan bells and vocals. Make yourself comfortable, close your eyes and become uplifted through sound. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpKCuiffHg4
How do you use music?
Explosive colors and lights are displayed all around us during the winter season. Now is the time to enjoy the hearth-side, tree lights, window and house displays. Many streets use decorative lighting from dramatic scenes to soft luminaries.
I believe color is healing to our soul. As snow falls and winter landscapes shape a world that is naked and decreasing in sunlight daily, bursts of colored lights can illuminate our surroundings and energize us from the inside out.
“Color is simply a form of visible light, of electromagnetic energy. All the primary colors reflected in the rainbow carry their own unique healing properties.” http://healing.about.com/cs/colortherapy/a/aa_colortherapy.htm. Color is used in massage rooms and hospital rooms to create an atmosphere conducive for healing.
Color creates different responses in different people. What colors give you a feeling of expansiveness, or a feeling of creativity, or a mood of introspection and solitude? Some colors create an environment of peace and serenity while others create a space of nurturing and safety. Often times the colors we are most attracted to relate to areas of our life that need some balance.
How have you used color to improve your day?