Thursday, August 30, 2012

Inflammation Calming Meditation (And How to Stop Being a Perfectionist)

I've been promising you all a meditation for a while now, and the reason it's taken so long is this: I'm a perfectionist. In fact, I suspect that has a lot to do with many of my health issues, but that's a whole other post.

If you're a perfectionist, then you may need some lessons in letting go. Here are my top five guidelines for letting go of perfectionism, learned while trying to record the perfect meditation, bake the perfect cake, and create the perfect bread.

p.s. The meditation is embedded below!

1. Let go and let God. You've all heard this one, right? You can replace the word "God" with any other word you like. That just works for me personally.

I recorded this meditation over and over. The first time was just perfect for me and is still the one I use in my own practice, but there was too much background noise for me to feel comfortable posting it. The second one was recorded first thing in the morning. Can you say, breathy scratchy voice? I don't want to scare you, just relax you. The next one was interrupted by goats. Literally. Which was followed by me swearing at the goats. And the one I'm finally posting? There's a baby in the background. That's my darling four-month old niece, Malia, if you're wondering. If the sounds of a baby might stress you out, I recommend you let this recording go and wait for the next one. I realized that in my pursuit of perfection, I was missing out on a visit with my sister's family. I also realized that this was probably a lesson in disguise for me. God just laughing fondly down at me. "You want perfection? Go ahead and try."

Lesson #1? Perfection doesn't exist. I'm letting this recording go, sending it out to you all with love, and letting that be that.

2. Sometimes perfection comes from collaboration rather than trying to do it all yourself. I have a magazine clipping on my wall that says, "Dare to delegate." As a perfectionist, I believe that only I can get the job done correctly. Which is too bad because sometimes I'm wrong. Case in point? A few years ago, I made a gluten-free cake for a wedding. I rock at making gluten-free cakes. I will freely admit that. But I suck at cake decorating. The result was a lopsided mess, and I was so stressed out over the cake that I barely enjoyed the wedding.

When I offered to bake the cake for my friend's gluten-free wedding this summer, I immediately asked my friend, Ashley, to decorate it. I'd seen her work and knew this was her area of expertise. Putting our skills together, we made one kick ass cake and had a great time at the wedding!

Lesson #2? Trying to be perfect all by yourself is just an excuse to hog all the glory. Share the glory and you'll have more glory. 

3. The harder you try to make something perfect, the more trouble you'll have. I played soccer in high school, rugby in college. And I had this problem where every time friends or family came to watch, I would suddenly lose any ability I had. When I was just playing and enjoying myself, I did great. But the second I began to "try," all my skills and knowledge went out the door.

Lesson #3? Stop trying, just do. When in doubt, remember #1 above.

4. Perfection can be boring. Which would you rather listen to? Your favorite music artist's perfect recording on an album or your favorite music artist, live and gloriously imperfect? I know which I would want...

Lesson #4? Aim to be you, rather than to be perfect.

5. Embrace love, not perfection. Have you ever tried closing your eyes and imagining filling yourself up with love? How much does perfection matter then? Or what about when you fall deeply in love with someone? Does it matter if that person is perfect?

Lesson #5? I'd rather love and be loved than be perfect.

6. Bonus. You can find perfection amidst chaos. I have been having trouble meditating and doing my self-hypnosis lately. You see, every time I try, I immediately fall asleep. Even sitting up. But the other day I was at the airport and had a few hours to kill. There were people all around me and I was feeling pretty bored. And then I remembered my self-hypnosis recordings on my iphone. So I pulled it out, grabbed my headphones, and tuned out. For thirty minutes, I sat there completely immersed in my meditation and felt a connection to the universe I haven't been able to feel in months. At the airport. Go figure.

Bonus lesson? Everything around you doesn't have to be perfect in order for you to get what you need in life.

Inflammation Calming Meditation: This is a 15 minute meditation aimed at calming inflammation. For those of you with food sensitivities, I find it especially helpful to sit quietly, close your eyes, and listen to this meditation after eating. I believe that if you can train your body to associate eating with relaxation, you can significantly decrease your food reactions. And for everyone else, this is a great stress reduction meditation, which is always helpful for overall health. 


Friday, August 24, 2012

Italian Style Flatbread (Grain-Free, Soy-Free, Vegan)

Photo Credit: Matt Calabrese



Hell yes. That's all I can say about this recipe. It's from The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guide Part 1 and it's one of my favorites. I developed it based on my recipe for yeast-free English muffins. Whenever I do a demo for a gluten-free baking class, I make this bread because I know it will be a hit. In fact, at my last demo, one woman came up to me and sheepishly asked if there was any left. She said she wanted more because it was the best bread she's ever tasted. I asked her if she was gluten-free and she told me she wasn't; she just came to the demo out of curiosity.

To me, that is the biggest compliment. It's one thing when someone who eats gluten-free likes my food, but when a gluten eater appreciates it... I get a little giddy.

I'm sharing this recipe with you today because I want to tell you about an awesome deal that Nuts.com has put together. Knowing how much we love their flours, they came up with a package deal for you. Order The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guide Part 1 at Nuts.com, and you'll also receive millet flour, almond flour, and coconut flour to help you get started with your baking.




















Nuts.com Gluten-Free Flour Bundle includes: 
  • 1 copy of The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guide Part 1
  • 1 pound each of almond flour, coconut flour, and millet flour
At just $29.99, this is a great way to get started with baking your way to gluten-free freedom! Know anyone with a birthday coming up?

















 
Italian-Style Flatbread (Grain-Free, Soy-Free, Vegan) Print Me
This flatbread is soft on the inside with a crunchy exterior. It can be sliced thin and served with hummus or cut into panini-size slices to make sandwiches. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, skip the savory filling and sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar before baking. 

Yield: One 12 x 14 inch rectangle 
Ingredients: 
Italian-Style Filling 
2 teaspoons olive oil 
¼ medium onion, diced (approximately ½ cup, diced) 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1/4 cup packed fresh basil, minced 
¼ cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped (optional) 
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
 
Flatbread: 
178 grams blanched almond flour (1 ½ lightly filled cups plus 3 tablespoons) 
112 grams tapioca starch (¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons) 
2 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum or guar gum 
4 teaspoons baking powder (grain free baking powder recipe) 
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt 
1 1/2 cups water 
¼ cup olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a cookie sheet (approximately 12 x 14 inches) and set aside. 
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and sauté until just tender, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and continue to sauté for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Take off heat and put in a small bowl. Stir in basil, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. Set aside.  
  3. In a large bowl, whisk almond flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt.  
  4. In a medium sized bowl, whisk water and ¼ cup of oil. Pour into dry ingredients, stirring constantly until evenly mixed.  
  5. Stir in the onion, garlic, basil, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes.  
  6. Spoon the dough onto the middle of the cookie sheet. With the back of a spoon (I find wooden spoons work best), spread the dough until it almost reaches all four corners of the sheet. It should be about an inch thick, but no more. If it's too thick, it won't bake inside. It will be really sticky, but this is how it should be! Brush extra olive oil on the dough. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until it begins to get golden brown on top.  
  7. Let cool, then cut into slices. You can cut larger slices to use as sandwich bread or smaller slices to use as dipping bread.
Best when eaten fresh from the oven, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for days or frozen for later use. 

Note: For those of you who can't or choose not to use xanthan or guar gum, I have tried over and over to make these gum free, but my normal ideas (flax, chia, or psyllium) aren't working. If you figure it out, please let me know! I'll be forever grateful!

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