Tag Archives: holiday

Christmas comes early

Christmas chocolate display that went up in SeptemberMost Novembers I’m annoyed with retailers who slap up Christmas decorations and promote holiday merchandise the second Halloween is over. Turns out Canadian stores are more patient than German ones.

The Christmas treats and product displays started appearing in Munich’s stores in September – before Oktoberfest even started! Festbier (the strong brews created to celebrate Oktoberfest) and Lebkuchen (gingerbread-like Christmas cookies) have been side-by-side on the shelves of our local supermarket for weeks and no one seems to think it strange.

At least I haven’t seen department store Santas yet and the shopping malls haven’t started with the fake greenery, shiny ornaments, and holiday music! And the Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas markets) won’t be open until the last weekend of November – long after the Oktoberfest tents have been dismantled 🙂

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Easter bliss

Homemade bliss ball treats in front of potted flowersEaster (or Ostern) is a big deal in Germany. There are Easter specials and corresponding displays in every store, just about everything closes over the holiday weekend, residential windows show off Easter decorations (like branches hung with decorated eggs), church bells ring, and there’s tons of chocolate!

As a slightly healthier alternative to all the Easter chocolate (which is fantastic… but sometimes a bit too much), I made a couple batches of bliss balls – although I’m calling them Glückseligkeit Bällchen in keeping with current surroundings and because I love the word Bällchen 🙂

I followed the recipe below as written for one batch (the ones coated in cocoa and chopped almonds in the image at right) and switched in shredded coconut for some of the ground almonds in the second batch (the coconut covered ones). I also used dried cranberries in addition to the dates in the coconut Bällchen.

These are easy to make (especially with a food processor) and the recipe is easy to adapt to whatever nuts or dried fruit are in the cupboard. While they are sweet and chocolate-y, they’re also full of fibre (thanks to the dates) and protein (thanks to the almonds).

Have a blissful Easter! Frohe Ostern! 

Glückseligkeit Bällchen mit Kakao und Mandeln
(Cocoa almond Bliss Balls)

Makes about a 18 balls. They keep beautifully in the freezer for a few months – just wrap in waxed paper and tuck into a ziptop bag.

Ingredients

  • 125g (about 20) dried dates, pitted
  • 125g (1 cup) ground almonds
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp oil (coconut, canola, or another neutral variety)
  • 2 tsp cocoa
  • 2 tsp water (reserved from soaking dates)
  • cocoa, coconut, chopped nuts, or a combination for coating balls

Method

  • Soak dates in warm water for 20 minutes; drain dates (reserving some of the soaking water) and chop into small pieces
  • Combine chopped dates, ground almonds, honey, oil, and cocoa; add water as necessary to make a thick mixture that comes away from the sides of the bowl and forms a moldable paste
    • This is easiest with a food processor, but totally possible with a wooden spoon and a bit of muscle
  • Using your hands, roll teaspoon-sized globs of the mixture into balls; cover with cocoa powder, chopped nuts, or shredded coconut
  • Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow Bällchen to firm up

 

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Frohe Weihnachten!

Laura and Sofie with a snowflake border

Wishing everyone Frohe Weihnachten (Merry Christmas) and a gutes neues Jahr (Happy New Year)!

Hope your holidays are filled with family, friends, fun, and lots of good food – and that the new year brings you all kinds of wonderful new experiences!

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Big love for biophilia

Laura standing on one snowshoe

A blissful few days of being almost entirely unplugged, along with time spent playing in the snow and the holiday routine of food, friends, and family has left me feeling rejuvenated and relaxed. While the tryptophan from turkey might have something to do with the relaxation, being outdoors also contributes to my feelings of well-being.

The Biophilia Hypothesis posits “that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems.” Basically that connecting with the biological world around us feeds some deep-seated psychological need and improves our mental state.

I first heard the term “biophilia” on The Peak’s Suzuki Report segments and the idea immediately made sense. It’s rare that I don’t feel better, calmer, and invigorated after a wander through the woods or a walk along the water. And the magic of a winter wonderland like nearby Seymour Mountain brings me an additional sense of awe and gratitude!

Happy winter and happy holidays! Hope there’s some more snow-filled-nature-time in the near future 🙂

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Winter songs

Music that captures the seasonal spirit and works as a soundtrack to a yoga practice. 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.

  • In the Morning by Jack Johnson In the Morning - In the Morning - Single
  • Maybe Next Year (X-Mas Song) by Meiko Maybe Next Year (X-Mas Song) - Winter Songs
  • Misteltoe by Colbie Callait Mistletoe - Winter Songs
  • River by Joni Mitchell River - Blue
  • Song for a Winter’s Night by Sarah McLachlan Song for a Winter's Night - Wintersong
  • Winter Song by Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson Winter Song - Winter Songs
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Holiday wishes

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and all the best in the new year!

Wishing you a flexible and peaceful holiday season

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Beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

Ingredients for chai spice granola

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

Ingredients

  • 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)

Method

  • 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 😉
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