Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and all the best in the new year!
One of my favourite things about the holiday season are the delightful smells that come along with the traditional trimmings… the freshforrest-y scent of a Christmas tree, the mint tingle of candy canes, the richness of mulled wine, and the spicy warmth of gingerbread.
This granola recipe is reasonably healthy (no added sugar – just what’s in the maple syrup and dried fruit – and no added fat), full of fibre and protein, and smells wonderfully like more decadent holiday baking. It’s also inspired by the wonderful homemade chai tea at Bound Lotus Meditation & Yoga Centre, where I’ll be teaching in the new year.
Chai Spice Granola
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1/3 cup ground flax seed
- 2/3 cup roughly chopped almonds
- 2/3 cup roughly chopped filberts
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- contents of one chai tea bag
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chopped candied ginger
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup chopped dried figs (stems removed)
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a large rimmed cookie sheet (or two smaller ones) sheet with parchment paper
- Combine oats, ground flax seed, nuts, and spices in a large bowl; cut open the chai tea bag and pour in the contents
- Mix liquid ingredients together and pour into the dry ingredients
- Stir oat mixture with liquid ingredients until well mixed; spread onto prepared cookie sheet
- Bake for 15-20 minutes (until the oats and nuts start to turn golden) in preheated oven and stir in dried fruit
- Bake another 10 minutes until granola is toasted and golden brown; stirring once to ensure everything is toasted evenly
- Let cool granola cool completely on the cookie sheet and store in an airtight container
- Eat within six weeks – usually not a problem 😉
Intense physical activity, such as running or training for endurance sports like triathlons, can be very hard on your body. Yoga can help you recover. Read other posts about recovering.
Taking a meditative approach to yoga and flowing through postures, rather than quickly jumping from pose to pose, helps shift your nervous system from fight or flight reactions (sympathetic state) to a restorative, healing modality (parasympathetic state). You’re capable of making better decisions when your nervous system is more relaxed and you’ll generally feel happier!
The controlled movements of a yoga practice encourage circulation in your endocrine and lymphatic systems. Gently stretching your muscles re-distributes lactic acid and reduces oxidative stress generated by free radicals.
Perhaps most importantly, the relaxation portion of a yoga class helps your body recover from activity. Taking time out of your busy schedule to focus on your body helps you connect with your physical being and pay attention to what it’s telling you.
Yoga can also help undo the damage of a late night and flush out toxins. Backward and forward bends squeeze and release your internal organs, which brings fresh blood into your liver and kidneys and encourages toxins to clear more quickly. Specific yoga poses can also help relieve headaches and soothe sore muscles. Additionally, a long version of guided relaxation called yoga nidra slows your brainwaves, which can help heal your body more quickly and may feel more restful than napping for four times as long.
A selection of music I like for meditation; see the Meditate page for the full list. Click on the iTunes button to purchase a specific song.
- Aad Guray by Deva Premal
For protection and clarity. Some people chant this mantra before driving or in other situations where they need protective energy. This version makes me feel as though I’m standing in a glorious cathedral and immediately calms me.
- Adi Shakti Namo: Your Primal Power by SatKirin Kaur Khalsa
Upbeat and energizing. Also know as the First Shakti Mantra, it helps remove fears and focus on what really needs to be done.
- Gobinday Mukunday by Snatam Kaur
To help move through difficult situations. I affectionately think of it as the “Git ‘er done” mantra, although it’s much more peaceful than that label implies.
- Ong So Hung by Guru Singh
Great before bed meditation. I find it completely relaxes me and sometimes even puts me to sleep… it’s my secret weapon for conquering jet lag.
- Ra Ma Da Sa by Snatam Kaur
Wonderful restorative kundalini mantra. When someone I love needs some healing, I’ll chant this mantra and send my energy to them… at least it makes me feel like I’m doing something!
Take a look at the Listen page for a full list of songs that are great for a yoga practice and at the Meditate page for meditation music I recommend. Click on the iTunes button to purchase a specific song.
- Aad Guray by Deva Premal
- Awake My Soul by Mumford and Sons
- Costa Rica (Acoustic Version) by Vince Vaccaro
- Full of Grace by Sarah McLachlan
- Hide & Seek 2 by Imogen Heap
- Homeless by Paul Simon (with Ladysmith Black Mambazo)
- Into the West by Howard Shore & Annie Lennox
- Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson
- Lonely by The Boom Booms
- Lost by Anouk
- She’s Only Happy In the Sun by Ben Harper
- Song for Leaving by Brett Dennen
- Till Kingdom Come by Coldplay
- Tu Es Belle by Toby
- You’ll Go Far by Jenn Grant