Equanimity Meditation

I was talking with a couple of my girlies the other day about the trap our mind often gets us into of imagining happiness at some future point in time when we’ve accomplished x, y, and z.

That thinking goes something this…

“I’ll be happy when I get into the school I’ve worked so hard for. I’ll be happy as soon as finals are over. I’ll be happy when I can finally graduate. I’ll be happy when I get hired for this job. I’ll be happy when I’m promoted. I’ll be happy when I buy the house of my dreams. I’ll be happy when I’m done with all of these renovations! I’ll be happy when I get married. I’ll be happy when I have children. I’ll be happy when the kids are out of the house. I’ll be happy as soon as I’m divorced!” ;)

This form of thinking is a mental trap and I know I fall into quite a bit myself!

The truth is, happiness is available to us when we come back to THIS PRESENT MOMENT where we can open to love and joy and the dynamism of life! Right?!

Sounds so easy and spiritual and lovely. If only life wasn’t constantly throwing so many obstacles at us!

“OK, I’ll be happy in the present moment as soon as life stops throwing all these fucking obstacles at me.”

LOL there’s that mental trap again!

MEDITATION TO THE RESCUE!

The practice of Equanimity shows us a different way. It’s a mental training that isn’t based on the outer circumstances of our lives being perfect, but on the mind being able to be flexible and open.

It’s about finding presence, steadiness and emotional balance through the inevitable ups and downs, highs and lows of our lives. We practice to become completely open to life and anything that might come along: both the happy and hard moments.

I’m not gonna lie, this practice isn’t easy. But it’s powerful for bringing more peace, clarity and evenness to your life.

Warm Tofu Salad with Peanut Dressing

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MAKES 4 SERVINGS OF SALAD AND ABOUT 2/3 CUP OF DRESSING

Ingredients

Salad

  • 3/4 cup brown rice

  • 1 1/2 cups snow peas

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 block extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4 inch cubes

  • 3 cups firmly packed baby spinach

  • 3 tablespoons water

  • Tamari

  • 3 carrots, shredded or cut into thin strips

  • 1 red pepper, chopped

Dressing

  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tamari

  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar or maple syrup

  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

  • 1 clove garlic, minced or finely grated

  • 2 teaspoons minced or finely grated fresh ginger

  • 3 tablespoons hot water

Optional Toppings

  • Sirachi sauce, lime wedges, chopped scallions, chopped fresh cilantro, chopped roasted peanuts, sesame seeds

Cooking Instructions

  • Cook the brown rice. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stir 1 cup of rice into the boiling water. When the water returns to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes, until the rice is tender yet chewy. Drain the rice, then return it to the pot. Cover and let steam for 10 minutes before using.

  • Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add the snow peas and blanch for about 2 minutes, until bright green and crisp-tender. Drain immediately and let cool for a few minutes, then coarsely chop if desired.

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook, stirring frequently, for 6-8 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the spinach and water and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes, until the spinach is just wilted. Stir in a splash of tamari.

  • Transfer the tofu mixture to a large bowl. Add the rice and let cool for about 10 minutes. Add the snow peas, carrots, and bell pepper.

  • To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until evenly combined.

  • Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to combine. Serve with toppings of choice.

Spinach and Fusilli with White Beans

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MAKES 4 SERVINGS

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 12 sun-dried tomato halves (oil-packed or dry-packed), coarsely chopped

  • 5 ounces baby spinach

  • 1 can cooked cannellini or Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 pound brown rice fusilli (or any other type of pasta)

  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Optional Toppings

  • Vegan parmesan, chopped fresh basil, red pepper flakes

Cooking Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, until tender. Add the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Stir in the spinach; you may need to do this in batches. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, until the spinach is wilted. Add the beans and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 minutes, until heated through.

  • When the water is boiling, stir in the fusilli. Adjust the heat to maintain a low boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, until the fusilli are floating on the surface of the water and are tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then stir the fusilli into the spinach mixture, along with 1 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar. If the mixture is dry, add some of the reserved fusilli cooking water. Season with salt and pepper, then taste and adjust the seasonings if desired. You may wish to add as much as 1 tablespoon more balsamic vinegar.

  • Serve right away, with any desired toppings.

Creamy Curried Lentils

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MAKES 4 SERVINGS

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

  • 1 small white or yellow onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon curry powder

  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 cup dried green or brown lentils

  • 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed

  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

  • 4-5 cups firmly packed, chopped spinach, chard, collard greens, or kale

  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

  • Fresh ground black pepper

  • Optional toppings: toasted cashews, chopped fresh cilantro, lime wedges

Cooking Instructions

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

Stir in the salt, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, red pepper flakes, lentils, and quinoa, then stir in the broth. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes. If the curry is very thick, you can add 1/2 cup water to thin it slightly. Add the greens, cover, and cook for 5 minutes, letting the greens steam on top of the curry.

Stir in the greens, then stir in the coconut milk and lime juice. Season with black pepper, then taste and adjust the seasonings if desired. Serve right away, with any additional toppings you like.

Sweet Potato Toasts with Toppings

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MAKES ABOUT 5 SLICES

1 large sweet potato, scrubbed (peel if desired, but it’s not necessary)

Toppings of choice (almond butter and berries for a sweeter version or avocado, hemp seeds, and greens)

  1. Cut the sweet potato lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices. Toast it in a toaster (you will probably need two cycles) or in a toaster oven for about 10 minutes, until the potato has cooked through and is golden brown around the edges. Add the toppings of your choice. Get creative!

  2. Store any used “toast” in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and reheat before serving.

Blueberry Cobbler Overnight Oats

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MAKES 1 CUP

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (gluten-free)

  • 1/2 banana, mashed

  • 1 tablespoon flaxseeds

  • 1/2 cup plant-based milk, or more as needed

  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (or other nut butter)

  • 1/2 cup blueberries, plus more for garnish

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus a sprinkle to garnish

  • Splash of pure vanilla extract

  • Pinch of sea salt

  • Maple syrup or raw honey (optional)Sliced almonds

  1. Put the oats, banana, flaxseeds, plant-based milk, almond butter, blueberries, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt in a glass container and stir until well combined. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.

  2. When you’re ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator and stir. Add extra plant-based milk as desired for a thinner consistency.

  3. Eat the oats straight out of the jar or heat them in a saucepan until warmed through, as desired. Sweeten if you like. Top with additional cinnamon, fresh blueberries, and almonds.

Beans and Greens Quesadillas

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

Ingredients

SEASONED COLLARD GREENS

  • 1 bunch collard greens (8-12 ounces)

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • Fine sea salt

  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

QUESADILLAS

  • 4 whole-grain tortillas (8 inch)

  • 2 cups grated mild cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

  • 1 cup cooked pinto beans (from one 15 ounce can), rinsed and drained

  • Refined avocado oil or other quality high-heat vegetable oil, for brushing

OPTIONAL GARNISHES

  • Salsa, guacamole, sour cream, or cashew sour cream

Cooking Instructions

  1. To prepare the collard greens: Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut out the center rib of each collard leaf. Stack a few leaves at a time and roll them into a cigar-like shape. Slice across the roll as thinly as possible to yield collard ribbons about 1/4 inch wide. Shake up the greens and give them a few chops so the strands aren’t too long.

  2. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the collard greens and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until they are wilting, dark green, and some are starting to lightly char on the edges, 4-6 minutes. Add the garlic, pepper flakes, and a few twists of black pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir the vinegar into the greens and remove the pan from the heat. Scoop the contents of the pan into a bowl to cool.

  3. To make the quesadillas, one at a time: Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Warm 1 tortilla for about 30 seconds, flipping halfway. Flip once more and sprinkle one-half of the tortilla with about 1/4 cup shredded cheese. Cover the cheese with one-fourth of the cooked collard greens and 1/4 cup pinto beans. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup cheese over the fillings and fold over the empty side o the tortilla to enclose the fillings.

  4. Quickly brush the top of the quesadilla with a light coating of oil, then flip it with a spatula. Let the quesadilla cook until golden and crispy on the bottom, 1-2 minutes. Brush the top with a light coating of oil, then carefully flip it and cook until the second side is golden and crispy. Transfer it to a cutting board. Repeat to make 3 more quesadillas.

  5. Slice each quesadilla into 3 pieces with a chef’s knife. Serve immediately with salsa, guacamole, and/or sour cream on the side, if you’d like. Leftovers store well, chilled, for up to 4 days. Gently reheat in the oven before serving.

Zucchini Pesto Pasta Salad

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MAKES 4 SERVINGS OF SALAD, AND ABOUT 1 CUP OF PESTO

Ingredients

SALAD

  • 3 medium zucchini or summer squashes, halved lengthwise and then cut crosswise into 1/2 inch half-moons

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 8 ounces penne or rotini pasta

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked navy or Great Northern beans, or 1 can, drained and rinsed

PESTO

  • 2 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves

  • 1 clove garlic, chopped

  • 1/4 cup walnuts

  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

OPTIONAL ACCOMPANIMENTS

  • Arugula, baby spinach, or other tender leafy green; lemon wedges; Cheesy Hemp Seed Topping or vegan parmesan

Cooking Instructions

To make the salad, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the zucchini with the oil until evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Spread evenly on the lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Stir in the pasta, then adjust the heat to maintain a low boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender but still firm. Drain well.

Put the pasta, zucchini, and beans in a large bowl and stir gently to combine.

To make the pesto, combine the basil, garlic, walnuts, nutritional yeast, oil, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor and process for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl, season with pepper to taste, then process for 30 seconds, until the pesto has a mostly smooth, even consistency.

Add the pesto to the pasta mixture and stir gently to combine. Serve warm, cool, or at room temperature, scooped over fresh greens, and with your favorite toppings.

Southwestern Roasted Veggie Salad

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Makes 2 large salads

Ingredients:

Roasted Veggies

  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes

  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch squares

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 large bunch broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces

Chipotle-Balsamic Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

  • 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo)

  • 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup or honey

  • 1 small clove garlic, pressed or minced

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Salad

  • 1/2 cup raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

  • 5-6 packed cups baby arugula

  • 1/3 cp oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and drained

  • 1 avocado, halved and pitted

Cooking Instructions:

  1. To roast the veggies: Preheat the oven to 425 with racks in the middle and upper third of the oven.

  2. On a large rimmed baking sheet, combine the sweet potato and bell pepper. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, sprinkle with the chili powder and a few dashes of salt, and toss until evenly coated. Arrange them in a single layer. On a second large rimmed baking sheet, toss the broccoli florets with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil until evenly coated. Arrange the florets in a single layer and sprinkle with salt.

  3. Roast the broccoli on the upper rack and the pan of sweet potatoes and peppers on the middle rack until the vegetables are tender and caramelized on the edges. The broccoli will be done around the 20-minute mark, which is perfect timing for tossing the sweet potato/pepper pan. Return the sweet potato/pepper pan to the oven and continue roasting until the sweet potatoes and peppers are tender and deeply caramelized, 15-20 minutes longer.

  4. Meanwhile, to make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, adobo sauce, maple syrup, garlic, and salt and whisk until blended. Taste and add a pinch of salt if necessary.

  5. To prepare the salad: In a medium skillet, toast the pepitas over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are turning golden on the edges and making little popping noises, about 5 minutes.

  6. In a large bowl, combine the arugula, roasted veggies, toasted pepitas, and sun-dried tomatoes. Wait until you’re ready to serve to add the dressing, as the arugula wilts if it’s in contact with the dressing for too long.

  7. When you’re ready to serve, drizzle enough dressing on top to lightly coat and toss everything together. Dice the avocado, add it to the bowl, and gently toss a couple more times. Serve immediately.

Simple Roasted Veggie, Arugula, and Hummus Pita Sanwiches

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Ingredients

Roasted Veggies

  • 1 small head cauliflower florets cut into bite-size pieces

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, or more if needed

  • Fine sea salt

  • 1 small eggplant, cut into bite size pieces

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Pita Sandwiches

  • 2 whole-grain pitas

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

  • 1 cup hummus

  • 2-3 cups lightly packed arugula, as needed

Cooking Instructions

  1. To roast the veggies: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with racks in the middle and upper third of the oven.

  2. On a large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle the cauliflower with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, just enough to lightly coat the cauliflower once tossed (add more if needed.) Toss well and sprinkle with salt. On a second large rimmed baking sheet, combine the eggplant and bell pepper. Drizzle those veggies with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, just enough to lightly coat them once tossed (and more if needed.) Toss well and sprinkle with salt.

  3. Transfer the pan of cauliflower to the top rack, and the pan of eggplant and bell pepper to the middle rack. Bake until the veggies are tender and carmelizing on the edges, 30-35 minutes, tossing halfway. Leave the oven on for warming the pitas later.

  4. Once the veggies are done roasting, scoot the cauliflower onto the eggplant and bell pepper pan (keep the former cauliflower pan handy for the pitas). Drizzle the lemon juice on top and toss to combine. Taste and season with additional salt, if necessary.

  5. To make the pita sandwiches: Brush both sides of each pita lightly with olive oil and arrange them across the used cauliflower pan. Bake on the top rack just until warmed through, 2-4 minutes.

  6. Spread a generous layer of hummus over each pita. Top half of each pita with roasted veggies, then top the veggies with a handful of arugula. Fold the other half of the pita over the veggies to form a sandwich. (Serve the remainder veggies as a side or use them for leftover sandwiches.)

Fresh Taco Salad

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MAKES 4 LARGE SALADS

Ingredients

Taco Filling

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

  • 1.5 teaspoons chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1/2 cup quinoa

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

Creamy Avocado-Lime Dressing

  • 1/4 cup lime juice (from about 2 limes)

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon water

  • 1/2 medium-large avocado, pitted

  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro

  • 1 small-medium jalapeno, seeded, deribbed, and roughly chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Salad

  • 1 small head romaine lettuce, chopped

  • 3 cups packed baby arugula

  • 1 cup thinly sliced grape or cherry tomatoes

  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced and roughly chopped red onion

  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

  • 1/2 medium-large avocado

  • Optional: extra-firm tofu

*A small handful of crumbled tortilla chips. Sprinkle them over the salads just before serving.

Cooking Instructions

  1. To make the taco filling: In a medium saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and saute for another minute, stirring constantly. Add the rinsed quinoa and water, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the liquid is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes (the quinoa might not be fluffy yet, but don’t worry.)

  2. Remove the pot from the heat and let it rest, still covered, for 5 minutes. Then, uncover and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Gently stir in the black beans and salt. Season to taste with pepper and additional salt, if necessary. Cover and set aside for a couple of minutes to warm up the beans.

  3. To make the dressing: In a small food processor or blender, combine the lime juice, olive oil, and water. Using a spoon, scoop in the half avocado and add the cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, and salt. Process until the dressing is nice and smooth. The dressing should be zippy, but if it’s unpleasantly tart or difficult to blend, dilute it with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water and blend again.

  4. To assemble the salads: combine the romaine and arugula in a large bowl. Wait to dress the salad until you are ready to serve, as the greens will wilt fairly quickly once dressed. (If you won’t be consuming all 4 servings of this salad right away, portion off the greens you’d like to save for later, and dress only the greens you intend to eat now.)

  5. When you’re ready, drizzle the mixture with just enough dressing to lightly coat the greens (you might have extra.) Toss until the dressing is evenly distributed.

  6. Arrange the dressed greens in 4 individual salad bowls. Top each salad with taco filling, tomatoes, onion, and crispy tortilla strips. Slice the remaining avocado half into long strips and place a couple of strips on each salad. Serve immediately.

Red Lentil Stew

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One of the advantages of using red lentils in soup is that they cook amazingly fast. This soup has a deep, smoky flavor, as if it’s been simmered for hours, but it comes together in about 30 minutes.

MAKES 6-8 SERVINGS

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 white or yellow onion, chopped

  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1.5 cups dried red lentils

  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

  • 1.5 cups water

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 small bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and chopped

Cooking Instructions

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until the onion is tender and translucent. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.

Stir in the sweet potato, paprika, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper, then stir in the lentils, broth, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the sweet potato is tender and the lentils seem to have melted into the soup.

Stir in the lemon juice and chard. Cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes, until the chard has wilted completely. Taste and adjust the seasonings if desired. Serve piping hot.

Enjoy!