Mirasol Recipe: Orange Sesame Quinoa Salad

August 17th, 2013

It was just a couple of months ago that I discovered the joys of quinoa, a superfood I had long avoided simply out of intimidation. Since writing the Conquering Quinoa post, I have experimented with all sorts of ways to prepare and consume this new pantry staple:

Mexican Chocolate Breakfast Quinoa – Much like oatmeal made with chocolate nutmilk rather than water, spiced with cinnamon and cayenne. Sweeten as desired)

Toasted Maple Quinoa – Cooked quinoa is baked and sweetened with maple syrup. It is quite similar to granola.

Quinoa Build a Bowl – Start with quinoa, add protein, add veggies, add healthy fat source (i.e. quinoa, black beans, tomatoes, cilantro, and avocado).

Quinoa Salads – Quinoa tossed with add-ins and a dressing (i.e. apricots, tomatoes, green onions, and a honey-lime vinaigrette)

I’ve been struggling with choosing which recipe to post to the blog ever since. My decision has been stalled by indecisiveness because I haven’t had a bad quinoa experiment yet. In fact, I may step up the heat. Perhaps it’s time to “Conquer Baking” !?! :)  I just found a simple recipe for sprouted quinoa blueberry muffins and I happen to have local seasonal blueberries in the fridge.

Before I get ahead of myself with next week’s quinoa experiment, I finally decided on which quinoa salad recipe to share. Jeanne, Mirasol’s CEO and founder, informed me that the new Mirasol Cookbook is being proofread and will be soon sent to the printer! Decision made. Everything I have ever made from Mirasol’s first cookbook has been worthy of writing home about. Actually, these days I just take a picture on my smartphone to text cherished recipes. Oh technology…

I pulled out the Mirasol Cookbook (2007) and flipped through to the quinoa salad recipe on pg. 46. Always trustworthy, once again I was pleased with the recipe! Not only was I delighted, but my taste tester stated (and I quote!), “Mmmmmmmm! Mmmmmmmm!” This is such a light and refreshing, protein-packed summer salad!

Orange Sesame Quinoa Salad (Serves 12)

Photograph of recipe ingredients for Orange Sesame Quinoa Salad2 c. quinoa, uncooked
4 c. cooked chicken or tempeh, cubed
2 c. green or red pepper, chopped
2 c. celery, diced
1 c. carrots, shredded
2 green onions, sliced
2/3 c. orange juice concentrate
1/4 c. sesame oil
1/2 c. parsley, chopped
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 tsp ginger
salt and pepper

Boil 4 C water for 2 C quinoa. Cook until done.

In a large bowl, combine quinoa and all remaining salad ingredients and toss gently. Combine all dressing ingredients and blend together well. Pour dressing over salad and toss gently. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours to blend flavors. Serve on lettuce-lined plates.

(NoteI made a half recipe and did not blend the parsley into the dressing, which is why the dressing is orange in the picture.)

 ~ Heather Purdin, M.Ed., RYT (Mirasol Guest Blogger)

Flying Lessons: Managing Those Inner Critics

August 17th, 2013

Do you hear voices?

In case you think that’s an accusation, everyone I know does. I mean right now I hear a voice saying I really should not be writing this in my nightie, since it’s 11am and that is unseemly, or something like that. Lazy. Irresponsible. Hear that inner critic?

The good thing is that right now, I’m just not listening.  I’m listening to another voice inside that is asking me to focus on what you as a reader might need right now, and how to approach today’s topic.

“Good for you,”  you might be saying to me. “But what if I can’t stop listening to the critical voice?”

That would be one of the most important questions you could ask. Especially if you suffer from an eating disorder. Because I know that learning how to manage those inner critical voices is a key to your recovery.

You probably have developed very articulate inner critics who tell you that you don’t look right and don’t have control over yourself. Then these voices shame you for objecting to what they’re saying, and then tell you how messed up you must be because you’re listening. And on and on.

Anne Lamott, one of my favorite authors, says this is like being tuned into station KFUK.

So how do you change the station?

The Flying Lesson for Life that’s relevant here is Lesson 5, Communicating with our Inner Controllers. If you think of the aviation metaphor, you know that controllers are there to keep pilots and passengers safe. It’s their job to sit in a tower and spot you on a radar screen and keep you separate from nearby traffic.

The tricky part is that when you’re a student pilot, you’re sure the controllers are gods in the sky who are out to bust you. Because sometimes they do.  If you’re at an airport and you cross a ‘hold-short’ line without permission, they are like police. If they are guiding you into a busy airport and you don’t stay at the altitude they told you to keep, they’re going to yell at you.

But here’s the deal. Since they aren’t in the pilot’s seat, they aren’t the ones who are responsible for the airplane and the safety of those inside. So if I’m taking off and a controller tells me to turn left and I see another airplane in the way, I’m going to say, “Cannot comply.”  I’m not going to obey when it’s not safe.

Here are some simple but powerful tips to put you back in the pilot’s seat with your hand on that radio dial:

1. When you hear a voice criticizing you, ask it who is speaking. Ask how old it is.

2. If the voice is the voice of a younger you, treat her as you would a treasured child. Give her a hug and tell her you’re in charge now and you will keep her safe.

3.  If you can’t hear anything but static, simply STOP and breathe. See if you can quiet your body and listen. The hardest thing is to just sit with the feeling and remember it is just a feeling.

4. Ask inside to hear the ‘voice’ of an energy inside you that is positive and loving. They’re there. We all have an archetypal Great Mother inside, a Queen, and a Heroine. See if you can find those.

5. “Clean up the cockpit!” Clio, my flight instructor, would advise me when there was static. Simply change the frequency. Get up and do a yoga pose or jumping jacks. Put on some music. Call a friend. Ignore the tyrant.

6.  Get some help with the voices. There are so many wonderful therapies for this uniquely human problem. (When was the last time you heard a lion criticize itself?)

7.  Congratulate yourself every time you practice one of these interventions.

8. Mostly, don’t feel crazy or alone. We all have critical voices and they are part of human suffering, and definitely part of eating disorders. But we can learn to manage what we listen to. We can learn to change our thoughts. We can learn to believe that we’re all right, exactly as we are.

Honestly, it’s just a matter of practice.

~Pamela Hale Trachta (Guest Blogger)

Author of: Flying Lessons: How to Be the Pilot of Your Own Life

Flying Lesson # 3: Taking the Pilot’s Seat

June 2nd, 2013

Navigating Turbulent Conditions, Flying Lesson # 3: Taking the Pilot’s Seat for your Healing Journey

By the time I began taking flying lessons, I was a mature woman and thought I was already pretty good at flying, having sat at the passenger seat controls for eight years in my husband’s plane. So when my flight instructor, Clio, put me in the left seat for the first lesson, I was shocked at how scary and different that experience was.

A pilot's view of a field (sepia toned).The seat didn’t feel right. The view out the window didn’t look right. Even the gauges didn’t seem familiar. I had to admit that the problem was, I had never really assumed the responsibility of the pilot’s seat.

In the passenger seat, we assume the pilot is the one in command; we’re really just along for the ride. And so even when we take the controls for awhile, we know the pilot will rescue us if we do anything irresponsible or dangerous. Probably, this is the reason Clio had me sit in the left seat starting with the first lesson.

In my Flying Lessons for Life system, Lesson #3 is “Take the Pilot’s Seat.” The challenge associated with this lesson is trusting ourselves. In the chakra system related to energy medicine, this is the third chakra at the solar plexus. This energy is related to our sense of Self.

When we put our “Self” in the pilot’s seat, which part of us is that? We all know that we have a crowd of inner characters, whose voices range from encouraging to downright cruel. And they all scramble and compete for the seat at the controls.

Everyone has a healthy Self who is older and wiser than the other voices within. Some of those are younger, wounded, afraid. My clients usually want me to do an exorcism of some sort on those!

When I was afraid I’d never learn to trust myself behind the controls of an airplane, those scared, young, doubting inner critics all tried to wrestle the controls away from me. (I’m sure you know what I mean.) Clio knew it was her job to train me to feel in control and confident in that left seat, so that there would be no room for my doubts, fears and old habits to lead us into disaster.

Spiritual and therapeutic practices of any kind—meditation, deep journaling, deep dialogue, body work…are all meant to strengthen that Self—the one who is already healed, already older, wiser and confident enough to take mistakes in stride.

The Self is not perfectionistic. After all, when I was learning to fly, making mistakes made up the whole agenda for each lesson! And when I despaired at my imperfections, Clio would say, “Leave your mistakes behind you like the landscape.” When you’re flying a plane, there’s no room for worrying about what happened “back there.” And in our complex lives, we have plenty to worry about just being in the present.

The core fear associated with this lesson is not being good enough. I find that fear to be epidemic, and not just among those suffering from eating disorders. We all need “training” to correct the messages we’ve received from other wounded people who didn’t feel they were good enough. It’s contagious, but fortunately, it’s curable.

“You have it in you to be a pilot! I know it beyond a doubt!” Clio would say to me. How wonderful that I had someone to give me that message in a fierce tone that told me she would never give up on me.

Who is the “flight instructor” who can help you strengthen that Self, that soul-Self who can pilot you through uncharted territory ahead? For you are on a wondrous, sacred and exciting journey. Don’t give up the controls when you have the chance to be the heroine of your own life.

~Pamela Hale Trachta (Guest Blogger)

Author of: Flying Lessons: How to Be the Pilot of Your Own Life

Flying Lesson # 2: Bring Enough Fuel for the Journey

May 14th, 2013

Navigating Turbulent Conditions, Flying Lesson # 2: Bring Enough Fuel for the Journey

Imagine of a fuel dipstickIn the aviation world, having a full tank of premium fuel is kind of a no–brainer. I mean, if I asked you to go out flying with me and confessed that I wasn’t sure whether I’d fueled the airplane, I suspect you’d think of another urgent appointment like having to take your cat for a root canal.

No one would go flying without a full tank. And yet in life, we expect ourselves to soar on fumes.

When I was learning to fly, the first lesson was on “pre-flighting,” the process of checking out everything on the airplane to make sure it was airworthy. One of the most important steps was taking out the dipstick, a wooden stick (think paint stirrer) with a scale on it—something like the one pictured here. I would have to climb up on the strut of the Cessna 152, unscrew the gas tank on each wing, and put the dipstick in to see how far the gas came up on the scale.

My flight instructor, Clio, was strict about my sticking to my “personal minimum,” the least amount of fuel I would need to go flying for an hour. If the dipstick measured just a smidge below that minimum, I was dying to cheat. Who wanted to haul out the heavy gas hose, climb up on a ladder with it and inevitable spill gas all over my lovely outfit?

Cheating was out of the question. If I even started to compromise on fuel, Clio would point out that it was a matter of life and death.

I know that for many people with eating disorders, fuel is also a matter of life or death. And actually, it is for all of us.

We need fuel to soar in all dimensions of our lives: physical, emotional and spiritual. And fuel comes in many forms. Food is only one kind.

You might think of how energized you feel right now on all levels. On the dipstick scale from 1-10, what would your fuel level measure today—physically? Emotionally? Spiritually?

Now, is that number a good level for your “flights” in the world? What would be your “personal minimum,” the level below which you should never fly?

The next question is a serious one: Are you willing to be dedicated to sticking to your personal minimum? A client at one of my retreats called this idea “revolutionary.” “That would mean changing my life!” she said.

Now, here’s one more thing to consider: your premium fuel. If I put jet fuel into my little Cessna, we’d crash on takeoff. Each vehicle needs a certain kind of power-up. What’s your premium fuel?

You might think about what the premium fuel is for your body. What really makes you feel the best, the most energetic, the healthiest?

Now, what is the best fuel for your mind? And your spirit?

You might make a list for each dimension. Maybe what fuels your mind is good conversation, or maybe you’re an introvert and get your energy from solitude. Maybe your soul loves nature, or maybe you’re fueled by meaningful books or great music or by family and friends.

What counts is knowing. If you know your fuel is dangerously low and you know what the premium fuel is that you need, then you—and only you—are the pilot who can make things right. And you and all the people who “fly” with you will feel safer and happier because you took charge.

~Pamela Hale Trachta (Guest Blogger),

Author of: Flying Lessons: How to Be the Pilot of Your Own Life

Vegetarian Recovery: An Intention of Healing

January 1st, 2013

As I was preparing to cover the theme of vegetarianism and eating disorders recovery, I knew I needed to brace myself for some criticism. By including veganism in the equation, I figured I was probably asking for it, to be challenged that is. And I was challenged! By giving voice to this controversial discussion with the first blog, it has forced me to further investigate my own motivations for adopting a, mostly, vegan lifestyle. So, for the last two weeks, I have further assimilated both disdain and blessings into my perspective.

I have answered questions from my employer, treatment team, and social circle. After internalizing some doubts that others held, I experienced several moments of wondering if it was appropriate for me to start this charged discussion in the first place – and whether I was living out a healthy, pro-recovery choice. I found giving attention to these very good questions actually strengthened my resolve. Eating a plant-based diet can contribute to recovery, when approached mindfully. I do not think I would enjoy food as much as I do today if I had not followed my intuition with taking this path, a path that started as a very young child, a path that was ridiculed for years, the path that has been part of my once hopeless and now very hopeful healing process.

Forcing feeding myself meat and dairy was not only unpleasant, it was actually a roadblock to my recovery. When I succumbed to the pressure, I only did so to have available the lowest calorie food options, such as 99% fat-free lunch meat or light, no fat yogurt. In my case, it just led to more diet mentality. I may be speaking out for a minority through this blog, but I feel it is my duty, or dharma, to flip the coin and show that what may work for one may not work for another, and vise versa!

With my case being out of the ordinary, I was left with my own question, “How do I move forward from here?”  My guest posts are sponsored by Mirasol Eating Disorder Recovery Center. I contacted long-term mentor Jeannie Rust, Mirasol CEO/Founder, for counsel. Her words of wisdom were energizing, “Do not back off!!  Ever from your beliefs!!  Your writing is productive and worthwhile — extremely.  This is how we all learn and grow and advance our abilities to heal.” Her insight echoed what I always hope for, the ability to set an intention of healing.

Therefore, I feel a responsibility to once more reiterate that there is validity to the commonplace concerns about whether vegetarian and vegan meal plans work within the context of recovery. For some who embark upon this path when vulnerable in the early stages of recovery, the choice could actually pose new triggers. Even Mirasol, a program highly regarded for their integrative model of recovery, holds some reservations when working with vegetarian and vegan clients, “Although we of course honor veganism initially, we let the client know we will be challenging the restrictive aspects of that choice.”

The Standard American Diet that many of us have been taught relies on the convenience of meat and dairy industries for many essential nutrients. Learning how to obtain these nutrients from plant sources will take an initial investment of time, energy, and focus on food. Many of these nutrients are directly related to the functioning of our central nervous system. Eating disorders are associated with enough co-morbid mental health concerns of their own. If you are a vegetarian, and especially if you are a vegan, you do not want to overlook or restrict these nutrients! Nutrition education is a standard part of comprehensive eating disorders treatment. Please, utilize your treatment team to learn how you can achieve your optimal health, whether omnivore, herbivore, or somewhere in between.

As my friend Peggy-Claude Pierre expressed to me, “Someone is either well or not and some of them choose to be vegetarians…as some of any group of people do.”  If someone is using vegetarianism or veganism as a socially acceptable mask for restricting, truth will surface in their willingness to explore, discover, and include new foods into a balanced meal plan. If weight restoration is a part of your recovery journey, eliminating food groups is not going to help you achieve wellness. Vegetarians and vegans who truly wish to recover do not restrict food groups. We simply make alternative food choices as part of our healing.

I believe there are many keys to recovery, but I especially believe in the power of self-care, honesty, & moderation. It was not until I began yoga lifestyle and teacher training that I felt confident that I had the right to claim my recovery (self-care) within the context of plant-based diet. Even then, I knew it was not a wise choice (honesty) for me to dive into it with an all-or-nothing attitude (moderation). Still today, I take to heart Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras to ensure my choices are linked to my all-encompassing intention of healing.

Let’s look at a few of the Yoga Sutras…

Ahimsa (non-harming)

Ahimsa is the practice of non-harming. Most of us are at least familiar with the concept of ahimsa thanks to the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm, so it is not an entirely foreign concept to metabolize.

The overwhelming majority of individuals who adopt vegetarian and/or vegan lifestyles out of personal ethics cite their concerns for animal welfare and the environment as decision motivators. Whenever possible, I also aspire to contribute to the greater good, but my plant-based food choices are just one expression of this.

Besides, it is not possible to live life without causing some harm along the way. Even if I were wealthy enough to buy carbon offset credits, I would still be using fuel, creating pollution, and extracting resources from the environment. As far as I know, it is impossible to “do no harm” and live on planet earth. Therefore, I prefer to approach ahimsa as the path of least harm.

When teaching yoga, I ask students to make one agreement while we practice together, which is to honor their abilities and limitations in order to prevent injury. This sort of self-care is a vital aspect of ahimsa. Life brings enough challenges that we need not add to them by neglecting our own self-care.  Disordered eating is a form of self-harm. With recovery, take the path of least harm. What this looks like to each person has to be worked through individually. While the meat and dairy industries may be full of animal suffering, disordered eating and self-starvation are obviously creating your very own human suffering as well. I wrote about this in an essay in yoga teacher training almost 2 years ago, “It is a delicate dance for me because I do not trust myself to make the full transition without causing harm to myself. It requires a lot of time, energy, planning, and expense to adopt a vegan diet with enough calories to gain weight. It is something I am negotiating.”

When making decisions about food choices, ask yourself, “Is this the least harmful / best recovery choice right now?” While in training, attempting to transition to 100% vegan WAS NOT congruent with my ideal of ahimsa, so I made smaller changes. Even today, I take things in stride, sometimes consuming animal byproducts when faced with limited choices. For example, if I find myself at a restaurant where the only bread available has been coated with an egg-wash or butter, I would choose eating the bread over starving myself.

Satya (restrain from dishonesty)

“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth… not going all the way and not starting,” – Buddha

A picture of fritos and oreosSatya translates to reality, or truth. Eating disorders survive through secrets and thrive off lies. I probably told every lie in the book at some point. If you want to recover, it is time to be honest with yourself. It is time to seek out friends, family, support people, & treatment providers who create a safe space for honesty. Honesty not only refers to truth telling, but also includes voluntarily outing secrets related to your eating disorder.

Whether you wish to maintain, return to, or embark upon a plant-based diet, engage your treatment team in a discussion about the motivations and intentions impacting your desires. These conversations are important with helping you uncover your truths. Feed your recovery through your honesty.

  1. What are my motivations for adopting a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle?
  2. Is right now the best time for me to make major dietary changes?
  3. Is it possible that being a vegetarian is a socially acceptable way for me to maintain restricting behaviors in the presence of others?
  4. Am I willing to include more healthy fats (i.e. nuts, seeds, avocados, oils, etc…) into my meal plan in order to meet my energy needs?
  5. Am I willing to eat treats? (i.e. Oreos, Fritos, and Krispy Kreme fruit pies are vegan!)
  6. Is the additional time, energy, planning, and expense currently congruent with my recovery?
  7. What plans do I have to neutralize any extra challenges this may pose to my recovery?
  8. Is it possible at all that being a vegetarian/vegan helps me hang onto certain aspects of my ED?”
  9. How do I hope for this to contribute to my intention of healing?

These are all WONDERFUL questions worthy of your attention!

Bramacharya (absence of negative imbalance)

As said before, I have adopted a, mostly, vegan lifestyle. With vegetarianism, excluding animal flesh is fairly straight forward. However, as you err closer to veganism, things can get more and more extreme.

Many of us recovering from eating disorders share a tendency to fall into a trap of dichotomous, all-or-nothing thinking. With this black OR white thinking, you exclude all shades of gray.

Because we rely on so many processed foods in our culture, it can be excruciatingly difficult to find prepared foods that do not contain any sort of animal by-products. Marshmallows contain gelatin. Some brands of veggie cheese slices contain casein, a milk protein. The red dye in strawberry syrup might contain crushed beetles for color. Some forms of sugar may be processed with carbon that might contain bone char. Hmm, I use a carbon water filter. Does this mean I should stop filtering my tap water? Which is worse, bottled water or bone char filtered tap water?

How far are you going to take it when these lines are so fuzzy? How far can you afford to take it?

How far can I afford to take it? I make these decisions one by one, day by day. Moderation reminds me it is absolutely acceptable to include a sense of flexibility and reason. For me, ahimsa trumps all not extremism.

A few examples of how this looks in reality…

I frequently travel and have to eat out a lot. To some extent, I ensure I am prepared with shelf-stable protein and calcium-rich foods. I usually have on hand aseptic packs of single-serving almond or coconut milk. An extremist might say the packaging of these foods is wasteful…I’d rather throw away “extra packaging” than restrict my body from nutrition. If I find myself out of hummus packs, ProBars, or nuts and it’s time to go, I take flight on the wings of self-care and accept that I might have to eat something that would not be my first choice. In a worst case scenario, I am definitely going to order a cheese sandwich at the sub shop over no sandwich, even though I don’t like cheese and prefer not to support the dairy industry. When I go to a house party, I’m either going to bring a nice dish to introduce to everyone or I am going to make do with what is available: the fruit and veggie tray, chips and guacamole, and a handful of nuts. It might not look like the perfect meal, but I’m going to live my life WITH people and not allow vegetarianism or veganism to be any sort of hindrance to LIVING LIFE.

If you are on this path, I very much hope the same for you.

All things in moderation!

Santosha (from an attitude of contentment)

My greatest advice is to put your recovery above all else. Practice self-care, honesty, and moderation. Find satisfaction in your intention for healing. Adopt an attitude of gratitude. We are all in this journey of life together. We can each do only our best. Aspire to do YOUR BEST.

Don’t worry about what I’m doing (unless it helps you!). Don’t worry yourself with trying to convince the world to adopt the same eco-consciousness that you find works for you. We all have our paths. They intervene. They weave together. This is the tapestry of life.

If you wish for your friends, family, & treatment team to support you in your recovery choices, be content with the fact that what works for you may be quite different than what works for them. Try to avoid heated debates over morality and ethics, by being content with your own healthy choices. It is one thing to explain your rationale, but it is entirely different to try to convince someone else to live THEIR life YOUR way.

If your actions match your intentions and you are enjoying success, there is little to argue. Your recovery will say it all. If you aren’t enjoying success, be honest. What can you do differently? Rather than being vegan, choosing organic milk or free-range meat may actually be the right choice for you.

Recovery includes many shades of gray. It isn’t about THIS WAY or THAT WAY. It’s about DOING IT!

Actions speak louder than words

To me, the labels of vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, vegan, etc…are just descriptors. These things are less relevant than the reality of whether you are getting better or not.

Actions speak louder than words.

Don’t just make the next best choice; follow it up with action!

Namaste, Heather Purdin, M.Ed., RYT (Guest Blogger)