Friday, November 23, 2012

Giving Thanks

I would like to thank everyone who reads this blog and supports living life "The Empowered Way".
I have had an EXPLOSION of views in the last 2 months! 

Almost everything I do in life, I do with intention. I try never to just go along with something because "That's the way things have always been done.", "Everyone else does it." or "It's just easier this way". 

I am so thankful for having this blog because I believe in the POWER of written word. 

The written word can inspire and enlighten its readers, but it also gives something back to its author. Being conscious of different ways that I have come to feel empowered has... empowered ME

Just writing all the thoughts that go on in my head and the things I study really helps me to keep a clean focus. 

Receiving messages and comments really helps me know that my passion in life is desired and helpful to others. 

Seeing people change their lives all because of something I suggested is an indescribable feeling.

Thank you everyone. Thank you for being awesome. Thank you for keeping an open mind. Thank you for caring about what you put into your bodies. Thank you for trying to be a more conscious consumer. Thank you for supporting me and making me feel loved and appreciated. 

In a small attempt to say how grateful I am- I'm doing a GIVE-AWAY of my two most favorite ESSENTIAL products!




Organic Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Coconut Oil  & Dr Bronner's Organic Castille Soap


Both products have changed my life in terms of how I think about cooking and what I put on my body. 

Coconut oil is THE ONLY cooking that should be used for high heat cooking! Olive oil is not healthy if heated. You can use room temperature coconut oil in place of Crisco (shudder) in any baking situation! Also, coconut oil is a good moisturizer for skin and hair, diaper rash cream, good for putting on cuts and scrapes, and even a natural SPF!

Dr. Bronner's Soap is all organic, not tested on animals, vegan and fair trade! All of these qualities have become super important to me and my husband. Organic and natural is very important, as our skin is our biggest organ! Whatever we put on it gets into our bloodstream- not good news for all those toxic lotions, perfumes and body washes out there. Also, we like to ensure that the way we live harms other beings in the least ways possible. Adding those two great reasons with the fact that Dr Bronner's can be used as body soap, shampoo, shaving cream, multi-purpose cleaner, dog wash, car wash, toothpaste, to clean laundry, to clean wool, to clean silk... the bottle says there are 18 uses. You can find even more online! 


Now:

Want to know what you need to do to have one of these shipped straight to your door!?

Just leave a comment down below with your name, a way to contact you in case you are a winner, and a brief comment about something (anything) that has empowered you to make changes in your life, an inspirational quote, etc. 
Please feel free to share with us. Others want to be inspired by you! It doesn't matter if I know you or not! 
I will choose the winners (via some random name generator online) on Thursday, December 7th and I will notify you via contact information provided!

Do not hesitate because you think you live too far away. I will literally ship these to you ANYWHERE in the world that you may be. I may even throw in a little something extra that is special from Korea! ;)

I hope all you Americans out there had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am still awake and finishing the details for my dinner party tomorrow night. It will be a wonderful time with lots of friends and it will be a totally CRUELTY-FREE Thanksgiving! Not all of these friends are vegetarian or vegan, but they are awesome and up for a challenge to re-think their old recipes!
No animals will have had to suffer just so we can stuff our faces! :)

Living a life that isn't sustained on the misery of others....That is TRULY something to be Thankful for!!


SIGN UP FOR THE GIVE-AWAY!

Meg


PS- Thanksgiving recipes and pics coming soon! 
VEGAN (made 100% from scratch) PUMPKIN PIE WITH WHIPPED (coconut) CREAM... 
oh... 
just. you. wait!

Shhh... sneak peak!






Thursday, November 15, 2012

Birthdays


As some of you know, I just recently had a birthday. I am 28!!!!!!! I say this with pride. 
Yes, I am approaching 30... 

Do I hate birthdays? 
NO! 
Do I hate getting older? 
NO!
Do I dread the next year of life?
NO!
Should I worry about any of the things that come with age?
NO!

BUT WHY? DOESN'T SOCIETY TEACH US TO FEAR AGING?

Yes it does! But...

I came to an epiphany around age 26...
I realized that every year, my life gets better and better!
I learn more and feel more connected to others and the planet.
I love myself more and feel more comfortable with who I am.
My relationship with my husband grows stronger and stronger.
I have a group of amazing people in my life that help me grow and fill me with encouragement and love. These are friends, mentors, family and even my little kindergarden students.
I am creating my dream life!
I no longer have a child mentality when looking at the world. I do not expect leaders or other authority figures to take care of me and act in my best interests.
I realize that I have the power to control my life. I am not powerless and waiting for "fate" to happen to me. If I want something, I go out and get it OR go out and create it if it's not out there already!
My body and my health are mine to control. I create and sustain my health- I am not a victim of it.

So many positive things have happened to me in the last year. It has been the most powerful and crucial year in my life so far. This year has cemented the keystone for what I believe will be the rest of my life. 

"I am living a life of abundance and purpose. All good things are coming to me. 
This will be my best year yet!"

I wrote that in my Leonie Dawson year planner in January of this year. This is what I wanted to be able to say at the end of the year. This has happened to me in a BIG way! 

I am not special. Everyone possesses this magic inside of themselves. We just have to remember that we have this ability. 

"Thoughts become Things" and "You are What You Eat"
are more than just expressions. 

THEY.
ARE.
TRUTH.

Here are a few pics from my birthday celebrations this year (yes celebrationS)

SURPRISE(ish) PARTY

My AMAZING friends tried to throw me a surprise birthday party. But Dave convinced them they should tell me. I am SO blown away by these amazing people and everything they did to make this party so... full of love... so... unique.... so......ME.


My birthday table!
Handmade Asian style paper table cloths, flowers made from an old Paulo Coelho book, napkins cut from natural cloth dyed with persimmons, oranges for accent, my GORGEOUS flowers and homemade party hats! See the yellow things all over the table? They collected quotes from my blog and other people that inspire me and wrote them all out. PERFECT!
**Added bonus: You can see two of the most inspiring men that I know in this pic**

The centerpiece!
A glass base with cinnamon bark, dried orange peels, and dried Korean dates. Apparently oranges with the insides scooped out- and the little white wick kept intact- make perfect candles.
Just add a little canola oil and you're set! They will burn for hours!
Being serenaded by Julie- a very talented worker at Loving Hut!
So happy for this pic. We didn't get a group shot of the party. It;s ok because everyone was busy talking and EATING. My two favorite things in life! :)
Vegan banana-pineapple cupcakes with vanilla coconut icing custom ordered from Alien's Day Out (a great vegan bakery in Seoul). That husband of mine sure knows me well! 
  
Everyone wrote birthday wishes and folded them into paper cranes
(or pterodactyls, boats or paper airplanes)
They all tied them on to this wooden mobile created by the party planners.
Words cannot express how wonderful this is! It is hanging in my yoga room at home as we speak.
Still trying to decide if I should open the wishes now or next year- what do you think?



 
                              Dave and I with "Aurora". Awesome little vegan girl! Her family owns Loving Hut
and she is always there to greet us with a smile.

   

ACTUAL BIRTHDAY

The students in my class made me a book! I also got lots of cards from other students in the school
and my wonderful co-workers/friends. It is nice to feel so much love and get lots of hugs everyday! Being a teacher is truly a gift!
Husband came home early from work on my actual birthday to surprise me with a house of balloons and birthday music. Look at these LOVELY flowers in the background. I have great friends!

Can anyone in Korea guess where I had dinner?

Yearly tradition of going to "The Water Bar" with my great friend Meghan. A bar with lots and lots of different waters!? YES PLEASE! This photo pretty much sums up our relationship.


A total solar eclipse in the Southern Hemisphere.
Many of you know the significance behind this. But if not, it's still cool!




CELEBRATION STILL TO COME

  Elton John concert in Seoul, November 27th! VIP tickets! Woo hooooo!


Love yourself. Change your mind about aging. Life can either be a wonderful adventure, or a scary prison. The only one that chooses which one it will be is you! 
ALLOW love, ALLOW growth, ALLOW success. They all are yours already and want to come to you. 

Wishing you many more birthday parties to look forward to. CELEBRATE!
Meg



PS- The next post will be for a give-away of some AWESOME products that I LOVE. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Vexican Mac & Cheese (aka: Empowerment Pasta)

Vexican= Vegan Mexican in case you didn't catch that.... :)


It was just your standard dinner....
Or so I thought.

I took left overs with me for lunch the other day, and a few students came over to see what I was eating. I simply told them "pasta". One asked if she could have a bite. I thought she would hate it, its full of beans, zucchini, cilantro, peppers, and a bunch of mexican spices that Koreans never eat- ESPECIALLY Korean children. But, I gave her a bite anyway.

Then she yelled "Oh yummyyyyyyy, one more time!!!"

Needless to say, I was immediately surrounded with a swarm of 4 year olds wanting to try it. So, I let them try.... they too LOVED IT!!! They kept begging me for bites and when I told them I needed to eat the rest because, after all,

IT WAS MY LUNCH!!!

this is what happened.......


video

*Please forgive how loud my voice is... I am in a room with 18 4 year olds all day and if you want to be heard, you adjust your volume when needed. The background noise in the room was MUCH louder than it appears*


Now that you know how much you (and your kids) are going to love this, I will share the recipe.

Ingredients:

3 Cups of Whole Wheat Pasta
1 Pepper
1 Zucchini
1 Cup of Kidney Beans
1 Onion
1 Handful of cherry tomatoes with all the juices squeezed out
a Bunch or 2 of Cilantro and/or parsley

2 Cups of non-dairy milk (almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, etc)
1/2 Cup of Nutritional Yeast
1/2 Cup of Organic Ketchup (or more if you want it tangier)
1/4 Cup of whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon of Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon of Cumin
1/2 teaspoon of Paprika
1/4 teaspoon of Nutmeg
6 Cloves of Garlic, minced

Directions:
  1. Cook soaked beans with 4 times as much water until they are done. The older the beans, the longer it will take. But it usually takes around 30 minutes.
  2. Cook pasta just a few minutes. Make sure it is al dente! Let it drain completely.
  3. Chop all veggies into however big or small you like them. 
  4. Put the tiniest bit of coconut oil in a pan and cook the veggies. Put in the onions, and zucchini first- let them cook a minute or so. Then add in the peppers, beans and tomatoes. Let everything cook together until tender and until the onions are see-through.
  5. In a blender place all the ingredients from 2 Cups of non-dairy milk to 4 cloves of garlic. Blend on low until mixed well.
  6. Pour the (non) Cheese mixture over the veggies and continue cooking on low heat around 5 minutes or until the flour taste cooks out.
  7. Mix in pasta and top with fresh cilantro or parsley!



Candids from the Process... The COLORS!! The COLORS!!



The Finished Product

Served with Cilantro Cinnamon Beats and Sunflower Seed Oat Bread! 


Now- I'm not expert on child-rearing. But I AM an expert on picky eaters, being a picky eater for many years and now in reform....

But if kids in South Korea LOVE this, and aren't used to any flavors or textures like this- I think most kids in the US would love it too! But if you are still convinced your kids won't like it:

  • Chop the veggies up smaller and they won't even notice. 
  • Let them add the ketchup- kids LOVE ketchup and they will think it's funny that you are putting it in to the blender!
  • Most importantly- don't ask them if they want to eat beans. Don't act hesitant giving it to them. Just be confident and "fly casually". 


Oh how I wish my own mother would have exposed me to more foods than frozen chicken nuggets and Kraft mac & cheese when I was young! But that is a story for another time!

Empowering yourself is never enough!

Empower your children too! Expose them to new foods and do it casually! Let them help out in the kitchen as much as possible. Teach them to "eat from the rainbow"... all those veggies are beautiful and life giving!
Whatever they are eating now is literally making their bones and tissues. Give them the best foods and teach them to make good choices for themselves as well. Believe me- they will thank you for years to come!

Empowerment comes in many forms. Don't search for it. It will come to you. Just be willing to receive it.

Can I get an "Olé!"


Meg





Thursday, November 8, 2012

Vegan Cheats!



Here is a great little gem to help you stay healthy in the kitchen!! It shows you how to sub "vegan" (read: healthy) while baking!!

 WONDERFUL.

This is all you need to take that old family recipe and modernize it!
Tell me.... how invaluable is this with all of the biggest cooking holidays of the year just around the corner!?


Of course you can also use Xylitol or coconut sugar instead of white sugar! The name sounds scary, but it's actually all natural!  You could also try using blackstrap molasses for a mild sweetener. The benefits of this sweetener are incredible! Check out some info -here-

And of course, you can sub whole wheat flour instead of white! The options for healthier flours are just endless! Do some research and find one you like! The taste won't be an issue on some things... but the texture COULD be an issue for finer pastries like pie crust, etc. Bulky breads are usually more forgiving.


Now, I don't want to hear any excuses as to why you can't make steps to eat a healthier, more compassionate diet! It's so easy- especially if you live in the US!


Sooo.... in case anyone wants to make me cupcakes for my birthday next week, now you can easily do it!! Maybe I won't have to make myself a cake like I did last year!? *wink* hehehe


Now, fire up those ovens and get ready for Thanksgiving!

I want recipes!!!

Let me know what you make!


Empowered Baking! Empowered Holidays! Empowered Way!

Meg


Like "The Empowered Way" on Facebook for daily inspiration and tips!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Empowered Way Goes on the Road!

Hey guys!
I am so excited to tell you about my first time speaking about living an empowered life IN PERSON, in front of a real audience! This is a dream come true! This is step in the right direction to exactly what I want to be doing!

This Saturday I spoke at Kaizen Wellness Workroom in Busan, Korea!
My lecture was part of a monthly "Clean Cooking Day" that Kaizen does for its members, as well as  for the members of the community (both Korean and foreign). This month we made... VEGAN PALAK PANEER!!!

Yay! My first flier!!!!!


In case you aren't familiar with Palak Paneer- it is a very popular Indian curry made with spinach and fresh Indian style cheese. Some recipes use sour cream, or heavy cream, or some other sort of dairy in addition as well.
Mindy (one of the owners of Kaizen) took this popular dish and made it vegan and healthy and taught us all how to make it too!

Here is what Dave and I came up with during the class!

If you're a fan of Indian food, you will appreciate the beauty of this! 

My job during the class was to talk about what we were eating and how it benefitted our bodies. You know I was ALL OVER that! I LOVE talking- especially about something I am so passionate about!!

To start the discussion, I handed out this chart with info on the spices we worked with:


When I was writing my lecture, it was hard for me to choose a topic! Look at all of the benefits that I had to choose from! 

I ended up going with Anti-Inflammatory since it was a recurring theme in all of the spices. But why did I choose Anti-Inflammatory? What is inflammation? Why do you need to care? I hope I answered these questions in my talk.  

HERE IS THE BLOG VERSION OF MY LECTURE:
Are you familiar with the term, "anti- inflammatory"? 
Let's take the root word, "inflame". It sounds like "fire" and "pain", right? That would be what the shallow definition is.
Usually when there is a problem in the body (illness or injury), inflammation is the first symptom that we notice because it is so uncomfortable. Some good examples that you have probably experienced would be- sore throat, swelling around a wound or an injured joint, headache, asthma, allergies, rashes, etc. 

BUT WHAT IS IT? 
Our body’s reaction to an infection or injury of body tissues. The redness is like an alarm going off telling the immune system to get moving!
Inflammation is really important. It’s one of the most important things our body does to maintain balance. When our body is out of balance, that is when dis-ease or illness occur. Inflammation is our Body’s first defense against infection and it is very important that our body is able to have this response! Essentially, its purpose is to prevent germs from entering the blood circulation and to clear up damaged tissue. Ever noticed when you cut your skin and it gets red and pussy. The pus is thousands and thousands of white blood cells that have died fighting to maintain your body’s equilibrium! Pus is awesome- it is like fallen soldiers. Your body’s own Pearl Harbor story!
This is not the kind of inflammation I will be talking about today. It's just good to understand this kind so you can have a good mental image of what it happening.


TODAY I WILL BE TALKING ABOUT A DIFFERENT KIND

This kind is a low-grade and chronic form of inflammation. This means that it is always there to some extent in a body that has an imbalance- sadly most people's bodies in the west would be classify as this type of body.
This type of inflammation is buried deep inside your body so you will not feel its effects right away. For example, one of the most common types of THIS inflammation is in the heart valves and shows up as "heart disease". It's pretty safe to say that this inflammation is not the result of an outside injury to the heart, such as a stab wound, etc.- the heart is so well protected in our chests- so we know this inflammation is being caused by something else.


BUT WHAT IS IT BEING DAMAGED BY?
So this inflammation is constantly trying to repair our organs and tissues as we are destroying them by what we eat and the lifestyle we live! As you can imagine our immune systems never get a vacation! And I am not simply referring to the noticeable symptoms of a cold or flu. I’m talking about this hidden inflammation- your immune system can get so bogged down with trying to clear up the inflammation around your vital organs that it doesn’t have enough strength to heal your colds, etc.
So lots of people that eat a high inflammatory diet (a diet high in refined sugars, meat and dairy) you will notice they have colds a lot or they will have a longer recovery period after they get sick. This is because their bodies are busy fighting the internal inflammation that their immune system cannot function properly. To put it in terms that some readers can relate to, our immune systems are much like teachers in Korea that work at crappy hagwons: they are overworked, underpaid and get very little (if any) vacation!!! Poor immune systems! But sadly, there is no labor board for them to complain to and they can’t do a "midnight run". They are stuck! Can you imagine?


THESE TYPES OF DISEASES ARE ON THE RISE IN THE WESTERN PART OF THE WORLD
In autoimmune diseases, (lupus or arthritis, Crohn's, some types of autism, Alzheimer’s) the body's normally protective immune system damages its own tissues, as it wrongly recognizes itself as foreign, and a threat!

There has been a lot of talk of this type of inflammation in the news, and in health journals. So many doctors and scientists credit this type of inflammation as the root cause of everything from acne and wrinkles to arthritis to cancer and heart disease.

 Some popular names are as follows-

“The Root of All Diseases,”  “The War Within,”  “The Silent Epidemic That’s Destroying Our Health,” and “Fight Fire in the Body”.

Pretty serious stuff. And as to be expected, some of these books come along with a 30 day diet plan to help reduce inflammation or the authors sell expensive supplements guaranteed to lower your inflammation in x amount of days. Despite the borderline gimmickiness of these books, they all are excellent sources of information on this topic and I would recommend them if you are interested in further reading on the subject.

The basic information in these books shows the correlation between the amount of dairy, processed, junk, GMO, and other chemical-ridden foods to the amount of inflammation in our bodies. They also touch on lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption, stress, smoking, being sedentary, drug use and the use of chemical-laden cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products. The point of all of these books is that YOU can reverse the inflammation in your body and prevent, or in some cases even reverse chronic health conditions! Key word being, YOU! Eating a plant based, whole foods diet and living a life of exercise and stress-free living can go a long way to preventing future health problems and even reversing current ones. Most people don’t even know this because we are so dependent on other people to take care of our health.If you have not heard about the body's incredible ability to heal itself on its own, I suggest watching one of these 2 documentaries for free by clicking the links:

                         Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead  OR  Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days 

Of course, the western medicine approach to coping these diseases is to STOP the symptom. STOP the inflammation. Usually very potent anti-inflammatory steroid drugs are used. Can you see that this is not treating the cause of the problem?
It’s treating the PROBLEM. The cause of the problem and the problem itself are not the same thing.

Making our body STOP inflaming/ trying to heal itself is not what we need to be doing. We need to listen to the warnings that inflammation brings, and change our diets to get to the root of the inflammation. I definitely think that anti-inflammatory drugs have their place and can save lives, but it is up to us to take care of our bodies before we even need those drugs. Drugs in the western medicine arsensal are potent, no doubt. But they come with a long list of side effects that almost make taking them- NOT WORTH IT! On the other hand, an anti-inflammatory FOOD, such as turmeric or garlic is not man-made. It comes from the Earth- just like we do! Our body is molecularly similar, and the spices come with all the other complimentary minerals, vitamins and other compounds that help these spices assimilate better to our body! Regular cooking with these life enhancing spices, along with a diet full of a variety of fruits, vegetables and legumes is a step in the right direction to ensuring a balanced body. So I guess the take home with this is that through our food choices, we can affect our health and our future. There is rarely an inevitable disease. And the word disease comes from the word dis-ease= imbalance. Here is a fact sheet I have created in regard to inflammation and what you can do to control it yourself.




Kaizen Wellness Workroom is a great resource for us here in Korea. They truly believe in a holistic approach to wellness. Finding a gym that emphasizes lifestyle, nutrition, yoga, meditation, cardio and movement is truly a rarity. But following a program like this is the surest way to live the most vibrant healthy life possible!

A group photo of everyone that came out to the class. Such a great group of people!



I hope any Empowered readers in Korea will consider coming out to Kaizen next month for Clean Cooking Day! 
You can like them on Facebook to kept in the loop of their monthly events and special classes!

Always searching for more information to better your life. Finding other like-minded individuals that inspire and support you-

That is really living life!

That is living life "The Empowered Way"!

Meg




Oh PS-
Here is the wonderful recipe!! Enjoy!


Don't forget to like "The Empowered Way" on Facebook to receive daily inspiration and tips! 

I will be doing a give-away soon, so stay tuned for that! You won't want to miss it!