Tag Archives: healthy-living

pumpkin, flax & walnut muffins

For the past few months, I’ve been throwing away and donating clothes and household items that I no longer use. I’m beginning a new era of my life, and so suddenly a lot of things feel like garbage. While this is a normal process to go through every year or two, there was a certain frantic emotional energy to my process—like a “Hey, shit that I don’t want, get the fuck out of my life” kind of energy. And I’m not done yet either.

In this process, I also reorganized this kitchen cupboards. Which is where I found an enormous can of pumpkin puree. Bygone plans for making a pumpkin pie a few years back, I guess. The can was nearly expired (sounds delicious, doesn’t it?!), and so I decided to make pumpkin muffins, which I’d never done before. And, I’m not going to lie. I don’t love pumpkin. Or squash or sweet potatoes, but I took one look at that can of pumpkin puree, and my body said yes. Maybe it was just saying yes to the Vitamin A. Warning: these muffins turn out sort of…sticky. I used a lot of pumpkin puree (for the Vitamin A). Maybe you want to use less. Maybe you don’t want to make these at all.

I have to make my own recipes because, in a breakfast muffin, I pretty much just want palatable high fat, high fiber, and high protein, with enough gluten (or equivalent) to hold it all together. Other recipes use way too much of sugar and only dollop of the good stuff (walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin, etc.), and so I have to make my own goddamn recipes my own goddamn self.


pile of decent pumpkin muffins

Here’s what I did:

Pumpkin, Flax & Walnut Muffins
Preheat oven at 350. Mix together dryish ingredients. Mix wet ingredients separately. Then, combine the two. Lastly, fold in walnuts ingredients. Spoon dough into muffin tin. Bake at 350 for about 25+ minutes or until done. (Insert and remove toothpick. Muffins are done when the toothpick comes out clean.) Let cool for 15 min. This recipe made about 16 large muffins, weighing in at something like 212 calories apiece.

Dry ingredients:
1½  cup gluten-free flour blend
1½  cup oats
1 cup shredded flax
¼ cup flax seeds
1 teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon of fine sea salt
Lightly sprinkle in ground ginger and ground cloves, cardamom, ginger, and nutmeg to taste.

Wet ingredients:
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 large egg
½ cup sugar
½ cup of brown sugar
½ cup vegetable oil or butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chunky ingredients:
1½ cups walnuts



our winter of pomegranates

Shortly after returning to Utah after a Christmas Break in Oregon, we received a giant box of pomegranates from Z’s dad, who has an orchard of pomegranate trees in his yard. He sells them commercially, and we were fortunate enough to get some this year.


box of pomegranates

Because it was the end of the growing season, we received a huge box of extremely ripe pomegranates that needed to be eaten right away, as well as a huge jug of raw pomegranate juice. I made it my goal to eat at least one pomegranate per day. I also did Bikram yoga once a day for 60 days in a row, which included an hour and a half of yoga poses, deep breathing, and detox sweating. Plus, I did an inversion on most days after class for a lymphatic cleanse. All of that was followed by a powerful boost of antioxidants in the form of pomegranates each day. They are especially known as a cleanse for the digestive system. Needless to say, I felt great and didn’t any of the various colds and flu that went around this winter.


beautiful pomegranate

There is something very poetic about having and eating a box of pomegranates. Pomegranates require patience and attention that is not normally required of food. To gently peal and extract the fruit takes time. Each tiny seed is a delight to eat and oddly satisfying, but the whole process requires attention. To eat a pomegranate, one must slow down. At first, I had no idea how I would eat the entire box. Then, I developed a habit, and now I miss not having them to eat. Until next year, I guess.


pomegranate seeds


on training to be a doula

It’s official: I’m going to be a doula! I signed up for a DONA certified doula training that will take place this spring. Several years ago, I began training to be a yoga instructor. In a few years, I earned my RYT 200 with YogaFit and taught yoga 4-5 days a week for four years during my PhD. I gained a lot of experience during that time and found that I absolutely love to teach yoga. I see being a doula as a natural extension of that practice.

Flickr image by Henna Sooq

Here are some of my early thoughts on the topic:

1)  Yoga practice and doula work are connected. My approach toward being a doula is inspired by my yoga philosophy and practice. Part way through my yoga training, I took a teacher training in pre/postnatal yoga. That training inspired me to consider a doula training because I saw it as an extension of teaching yoga, which is all about helping people connect to their bodies in empowering ways.

2)  Working to empower women. Part of my philosophy about doula work comes from the observation that childbirth is a process that has the potential to be incredibly empowering for women. Providing support for women during childbirth seems like a tangible way to help women access that power during childbirth.

3)  I’m a feminist. Because modern western medicine is mired in patriarchy and sexism, women are far more likely to feel disempowered by their birth experience. Birth doulas work to give women more power in their birth settling, and that’s something I support.

As of right now, I don’t know if I’ll like it, I don’t know if I’ll be good at it, and I don’t know that I’ll have the stamina for it (more on all of that later). I don’t even know that I’ll start doing the work any time soon. But, like yoga, I have a sense that this is the right move for me, even if I am not sure exactly why. I’m taking a step in that direction based on the inkling that it’s the right direction for me.

what the hell am I doing?

What the hell am I doing? This is the question I was asking myself during the late night Bikram class that I rushed to after a long day at work. My belly was full from a work dinner, and I had to sprawl out on the mat during several postures.

Today would be my 35th day of Bikram, but I will miss it due to a long day of work obligations. Since I did a double last week, I can afford to miss a class. Doing a double is like banking one in advance. But, I can practice again tomorrow, and I’ll practice through the weekend. I know I will miss two days next week due to long days at work. But, if I do more doubles, I can stay on track for a 60-day practice. Is that what I want? Is that what I’m trying to do?

Last night, I had to ask myself, as I was suffering in that hot room, what the hell am I doing? Why do I need to come every single day? Why do I feel compelled to complete a 60-day challenge? I have to admit that the answer to those questions is not always readily available. It has something to do with not wasting the 30 days I’ve already completed. It has something to do with a sense of accomplishment. It has to do with feeling good, being healthy, and staying in shape. But, sometimes those answers feel far too vague to offer any real comfort during a practice like last night’s, which, between my exhaustion and full stomach, did not happening under the best circumstances.