Gluten Free Banana Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

The recipe is a title that is almost as much of a delicious mouthful as these muffins!

I like to add my own “flavor” to interesting recipes I come across, and today I did just that.  I was looking for a yummy way to incorporate the spiralized zucchini I had left over from dinner last night.  With this recipe I have thus combined my love for the two kitchen tools I find myself using more and more: my Vaggetti Pro (vegetable spiralizer) and the amazing Blendtec.

And away we go!

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups rolled oats (uncooked)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 ripened, brown bananas
  • 1 small zucchini (about 1 1/2 cup once spiralized)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tbs white vinegar

Steps

Wash zucchini and cut off ends.  Use the smallest blade on the Veggetti spiralizer to spiralize the zucchini and discard the leftover end.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease muffin tin with virgin unprocessed coconut oil.  Place oats and flours into Blendtec.  Pulse 5-7 times until the oats have been pulverized into flour and the flours are thoroughly mixed.  Add all dry ingredients except for the chocolate chips into large mixing bowl and stir well with wooden spoon.

Mash ripe bananas in medium mixing bowl and add in zucchini spirals.  Stir together until well mixed-zucchini should be completely wet with the mashed banana.  Add the rest of the wet ingredients and stir until well mixed.  Fold in dry ingredients with the wet.  Once mixed together fold in chocolate chips.  Mix well and pour the mixture into the muffin cups, they will each be about 3/4 full.

Bake for 25-30 minutes (you can check doneness with a toothpick/fork/knife).  Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Mimosa (not the brunch beverage)

I first became acquainted with the non-alcoholic meaning of the word when I was bautizado (baptized) “Mimosa” by Mestre Samurai, my Capoeira instructor.  Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian dance-martial art performed to music that was developed by African slaves brought to Brazil, allowing them to practice martial arts, self-defense, and all-around body toning and flexibility right under the noses of their European oppressors.

Mimosa, or silk tree, has its origins in China and has been spread all over the world.  Brazil, for example, is home to a type of mimosa.  The delicate, beautiful silk flowers may be the influence for the term in Brazilian portugûes, which is used as a term of endearment for a sweet girl.  It is also the Brazilian equivalent of “Bessie,” which Brazilian farmers call their beloved cows.

According to Global Healing Center (http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/health-benefits-of-the-mimosa-tree/), the bark, flowers and leaves of the tree have long been used both in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as well as by peoples of Central America for its health benefits.  Healing properties included improving mood, aiding in healing of trauma or burns, toothache, skin disorders, colds and cough and aiding in the coagulation of blood, or the cessation of bleeding.  It has also been used to boost immunity.  I was so excited to see a bonsai version of the tree I couldn’t stop myself from ordering one from an Etsy store.  The Mimosa adds a beautiful, unique element of beauty to my green-friendly home.  I love it!

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of the ancient healing arts developed thousands of years ago in the ancient Chinese civilization.  As one of the pillars of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture is an effective therapy that is currently gaining a wider acceptance in Western Medicine to treat and lessen symptoms of conditions such as headaches, labor pain, fibromyalgia, chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting and menstrual cramps, to name a few (Mayo Clinic, 2016).  The World Health Organization has also recognized 40 conditions for which acupuncture treatment is effective (UCSF, 2012).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognizes acupuncture’s ability to manage chronic pain efforts, although it maintains the politically correct skepticism and inconclusive statements; I personally wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that it is much more cost effective than prescribing drugs to manage pain…

As for me-as you can see-I am a believer! I was introduced to acupuncture by a dear friend (you can check out her website at www.AuriannaJoy.com) who sought healing in Eastern Medicine after discovering shortcomings of Western Medicine to simply manage the symptoms rather than treat and heal the cause of disease.  She found truth and healing in acupuncture and shared that with me.

I have now been experiencing the healing effects of acupuncture for the past 6 years and am grateful to the healing benefits it offers.  I can always feel my qi (that’s the TCM term for energy) flowing during treatment sessions and leave feeling either refreshed or relieved, as if weight is lifted from my shoulders.  For me, the mental and emotional aspect of healing that acupuncture provides is just as, if not more valuable than the physical healing it assists.  Anxiety, depression, pent-up emotions from many years in the past, these are just a few of the conditions that are released with the use of acupuncture.

Feel free to learn more using the Western and Eastern Medicine links posted below, and leave a comment or ask a question if you like.  Cheers!

 

Eastern

http://acupuncture.com/newsletters/m_nov16/res.htm

http://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/balanced-living/wellness-therapies/traditional-chinese-medicine/

Western

http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/acupuncture/basics/definition/prc-20020778

Acupuncture and Integrative Chinese Medicine

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/whatiscam/chinesemed.htm

Hope

In lieu of the week’s presidential election results, I would like to offer a sentiment which I have been working diligently all week to cultivate: Hope.

I am hopeful for the people of my country and the world in which I live.  I am hopeful that beautiful, peaceful ideas of acceptance of each others’ differences and forgiveness of shortcomings will take root and blossom into a positive future.  A future in which we respect the earth and the plants and animals that live and die to create an optimal living environment for all, including us humans.  In which we come together locally to peacefully discuss changes that we want to see in our own communities.  In which we empower ourselves and each other to become informed about issues that affect our fellow people and take a stand to protect and help those in need who do not have a voice.

I was raised knowing that “Love hopes all things.” So let us love one another-everyone-and let us have hope.  But hope is not merely a feeling or a wish; hope involves expectation, anticipation.  What we expect and anticipate can only be brought about by creating goals, planning and designing a way by which to arrive at those goals.  As with most things in life, this is best-and at times only-achieved collectively.  So I am anticipating great conversations, the sharing of information and the openness of minds that accept other points of view and work to peacefully find common ground.

I’d like to start that right here and now.  Please share any thoughts about what positive changes you would like to see in your community, country, world, right here.  Let’s discuss with open hearts and open minds in hopes of finding common ground upon which to create and travel the path of our lives together.

Thank a Nurse!

I recently reflected that I have officially been licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN) for 7 years.  Holy crap.  I can’t believe I survived that long in the nursing profession and am STILL in it!! Nursing is TOUGH work.  I mean, grueling, thankless, depressing, exhausting.  However, it is also highly rewarding, self-revealing and amazing.  I have nothing but respect to all the caring, prudent nurses out there who are still practicing in hospitals, in clinics, nursing homes.  Thank you so much for all you do, every day.  You may rarely get the recognition you deserve, but you are significant to the lives of every person you provide care for.

If you know or are in close proximity to any nurse, please, express your gratitude for their service and caring spirit-they sacrifice themselves to give their energy to others every day.  Nurses are love.  Peace be with all nurses.  

Ode to my Mother

When it comes to sharing the joys of traveling, I must begin by expressing my gratitude to my lovely mother.

My mom is a remarkably strong lady.  She overcame a childhood of emotional and psychological abuse by a father who probably was not shown much love in his own childhood.  Her joyful spirit and kind, generous nature-as well as her faith in God and higher love-strengthened her to endure years of living in a stressful environment.

Breaking the cycle.  That’s what my mom was all about.  She set the power of her mind to also break the cycle of poverty which was the backdrop of her upbringing.  Instead of rebelling against the negative influence of her father in a self-destructive way, she put her energy into studying and working hard in school, devoting herself to musical projects and studying Christian principles like love and forgiveness, which she continuously chose to apply to her life.  She studied for hours until it was too dark to read (her father did not allow use of electric lights after the sun went down).  She earned a scholarship and pursued higher education at the University of Florida, where she lived in a dorm to save money and worked part time in addition to studying.  She disciplined herself to live frugally-that means within her means, not spending money on frivolous items that were not necessary-and kept her standard of living low so that she could save money and sidestep the trap we call debt.

She was determined to give her children the opportunities that she never had, which means she invested the hard-earned money that she exchanged for years of her life’s energy into college tuition programs, wedding gift funds and gifts of many forms-academic, leisure and travel.  The greatest of these gifts was travel.

Not only did she take and send us-myself and my sister, Rebecca-on trips to beautiful places like Canada, Mexico and Yellowstone, she instilled in us the value of living within one’s means, saving one’s resources for the most important goals in one’s life and living in financial freedom.

The subsequent trips I have made over the course of my life would not have been possible without the tutelage and guidance of my mother.

My strong, beautiful, wise, patient, kind, gentle, loving mother.  This and all travel posts to come are dedicated to her.  Thank you for teaching me the value of living within my means, mom.  Thank you for teaching me not to use a credit card unless I could afford to pay off the entire amount spent right now.  Thank you for taking me to amazing places when I was young, even though I didn’t appreciate or see the significance of what you and it was doing for me and my life.  I appreciate it now and evermore, more than I can express.  Thank you.

Peace, be still.

My first post is an expression of my struggle to master the voice inside me that tells me to constantly be active in pursuits of various sorts.  These pursuits may be academic degrees, business ideas, or acquiring things which I momentarily perceive to be vital to my current state of happiness, such as a certification or an item of leisure.

I often get myself so worked up in this frenzy of self-imposed urgency for action that I eventually come to realize that I am, in fact, achieving nothing more than the undesirable feat of spinning my wheels and draining my energy.

This post creation is therefore an exercise in stillness, whereby letting my thoughts flow through me and express themselves through the movement of my fingers they are satisfied and released, thus liberating my spirit from a feeling of impending restlessness and a state of “not-yet-itis.”

In my training to become a nurse I learned that adding the suffix -itis to the end of a word was used to indicate inflammation or irritation of whatever was represented as the prefix, or first part of the word.  Therefore, tonsillitis would indicate inflammation of the tonsils and nephritis refers to the inflammation of the kidneys.  By the way, nephrology nursing is my specialty and the renal or kidney system is my favorite body system.  The kidneys are really amazing and play a much more vital role in our health than most people realize-so please take care of yours! I digress.

Back to “not-yet-itis.” One thing that I’ve realized about myself and others around me is the delay in allowing the self to feel a certain positive satisfaction that we feel in achieving a goal until we have achieved it.  While this can sometimes have a motivational aspect, I feel that it can also have a largely harmful effect.  This stems from two possible outcome.  First, it is possible that the feeling we predict or anticipate in achieving our goal is not always how we feel when we reach it.  For example, I expected to feel elated, accomplished and satisfied upon graduating from a high-ranked university with honors.  Instead, I felt a momentary satisfaction in walking in an overly long, mostly boring graduation ceremony and basking in the limelight of an afternoon’s worth of praise from family and friends.  The next day, however, I felt nothing.  Nothing but a cold determination to attack the next challenge with everything I had, which would begin about three weeks later: the commencement of enrolling in another university’s bachelor degree program.

There lies the second possibility: becoming so used to the feeling of ‘having’ to keep working and performing to reach our goal to feel the desired sense of achievement, that it becomes a ‘normal’ part of the life experience.  The time when we allow ourselves to feel good and accomplished is always a certain distance away.  It’s always coming, but it’s not here yet.  There you have it.  Not-yet-itis.  An inflammation of our inner-self because a voice says not to feel satisfied-not just yet-which prevents a sense of peace and well-being and enoughness.  You know that feeling, or at least you’ve heard of it.  Being or doing enough to be loved, to be happy, to be satisfied, to be content.  Not-yet-itis is a thief and takes away from our enoughness.

Well, enough is enough.  Today I made a decision to stop worrying about the future-what degree program to pursue next, what business idea to put into action, what skill I want to perfect.  Today I have administered my first dose of love and peace to heal the sense of not-yet-itis which has been a chronic condition for much of my existence on this journey called life.  Today, I am enough.  And so are you.  Peace be with you.

 

Self-Assessment

1.  Am I affected by not-yet-itis?

2.  If so, what can I do to let it go and return to my natural state of being and feeling satisfied and content enough?

3.  What actions can I take to create or nurture a space of peace inside myself so that it can manifest more fully in my life?