Happy Friday and hello from Tennessee! I’ve spent the past two days in Nashville, and am about to head to Memphis today. Some highlights from this week…

Scottish Referendum. Yesterday Scotland voted on whether to stay in the United Kingdom and to separate. Scotland holds a special place in my heart, and I’m hoping for the best possible outcome, whichever way the vote goes. I’m blown away by the 97% voter registration! As of writing (I’m writing on Thursday), the votes are still being counted and I am holding my breath. Part of me is hoping no, and part of me is hoping yes. It’s a very exciting time for Scotland, and I’m waiting to see what happens once the results come out in the morning. (Update: it’s 11:34pm in the U.S. as I write this and the No campaign currently has the upper hand with 54% of the vote. The Yes campaign is sitting at 46%.)

Kristin of Pastry Affair wrote a beautiful post on what it means to be whole, rather than happy. This post really resonated with me, and gave me some much needed perspective. Thank you, Kristin. I love the Hugh McKay quote she shared: “I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that- I don’t mind people being happy- but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to be a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down 3 things that made you happy today before you go to sleep”, and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position- it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are.

Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience they say “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the world “wholeness”. Ask yourself “is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.”

As the weather begins to cool down, I’ve begun to eye a few fall weather recipes…

On Wednesday night’s segment of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart hit the nail on the head when he talked about how the NFL has no idea what the fuck it’s doing. Also, what is actually new about the NFL’s new policy on domestic violence?

On a brighter note, I found The Gratitude Project by Angela Simson on Instagram this week. She has such an inspiring feed! A quick scroll through her posts always brightens my day.

Yesterday night I met Ashley from Bloom and Nourish for dessert and tea. She is so sweet and it was so lovely to meet her in person! Check out her blog for recipes and her site Bloom Birth Services for health and nutrition counselling during pregnancies.

Have a great weekend,

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Raw Chakra Birthday Cake

raw chakra cake // gratitude and greensThis past weekend, I celebrated my birthday. It was a weekend filled with much love, laughter, and, of course, food. My beardy ginger dude, who knows me best, lovingly gifted me with two Ottolenghi cookbooks and a Scrabble set. Saturday evening was a four-course dinner, which was comprised of the best egg raviolo, ever and the best chocolate cake, ever. The day of my birthday was spent eating breakfast at Winslow’s Home, a lovely shop/café/wine-cellar with the coolest decor, visiting Left Bank Books (because all I wanted to do on my birthday was to be in the company of books), and eating a tasty raw vegan lunch. When evening rolled around we headed to KeeKee’s, who had kindly prepared a birthday meal for me: a colourful caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes (she stuck a birthday candle in the ball of burrata. Yes, I had a birthday burrata); brussel sprouts with eggs; and for dessert, a raspberry cake. She made everyone whistle the birthday song with candy whistles, and I went home full of laughter and dessert. I’ve only known KeeKee for three weeks, but I already consider her a part of my St. Louis family.

raw chakra cake // gratitude and green

Although KeeKee generously made me a cake, I had also made a cake for the occasion. I was intent on making a cake symbolic of personal growth and my goals for the upcoming year. This year, I plan on improving my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing by opening up, unblocking, and balancing my chakras. With this in mind, I wanted to make a cake that showcased the colours of the seven chakras: red for the root; orange for the sacral; yellow for the solar plexus; green for the heart; blue for the throat; indigo for the third eye; and violet for the crown. My attempts in achieving these colours, however, were not entirely successful. Rather than seven layers (which would have been quite the cake project), I ended up with four pastel layers that were still delicious.

chakrasWhat are chakras? Why should we work on opening and balancing our chakras? Chakras are energy centers located in our body. Beginning at the bottom of the spine and extending to the crown of the head, chakras help to regulate the flow of energy that passes through our bodies. There are seven of them, which I mentioned briefly above: the root; the sacral; the navel; the heart; the throat; the third eye; and finally, the crown. When our chakras are blocked, underactive, or overactive, we are prone to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual imbalances.

chakra chart

How do we open, energize, and balance our chakras? Although there are many ways to open and balance our chakras, one of the best things we can do is to maintain positive thoughts. As Sohini Trehan of MindBodyGreen writes, “Our thoughts create our reality, and by regularly practicing positive chakra balancing affirmations, we can achieve astonishing results in our lives… When our chakras are perfectly aligned with the universal flow of energy, every aspect of our life becomes harmonious and joyful. We reclaim perfect health, and our love and passion for life becomes renewed.” Meditation, visualization, yoga, and aromatherapy are also great ways to energize our chakras, not to mention seeing and recognizing the colour and light in our lives.

I know all this chakra talk sounds hippy-dippy, but give it a go. A previous yoga teacher of mine focused on opening our chakras in class, and I always felt a sense of renewal and rejuvenation after each class.

raw chakra cake // gratitude and greens

This cake was inspired by and adapted from Sarah B’s raw cashew dreamcake recipe, which is one of my all-time favourite raw vegan cakes. I used strawberries for the pink layer, nectarines for the orange-yellow layer, kiwis for the green layer, and blueberries for the indigo/violet layer. Feel free to add more than one cup of fruit if you want a more intense colour. Although the original recipe called for 1/3 cup of sweetener, my addition of the banana meant that I didn’t need to use much sweetener, and I only used a tablespoon or so of agave nectar.

I topped the cake with edible flowers, because why not?

raw chakra cake // gratitude and greens

Raw Chakra Birthday Cake
I doubled this recipe to make each layer of the cake.
1 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
2 lemons, juiced and zested
1 cup fruit of your choice
1 banana
1/3 cup coconut oil
agave nectar/liquid sweetener of choice, to taste

1. Blend all the ingredients in a food processor.
2. Pour into a silicone or springform pan and freeze overnight.
3. Remove from the freezer half an hour before serving to allow the cake to thaw.
4. Serve with fresh fruit and edible flowers, if desired.

Enjoy : )

Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,

Sources: [1] [2] [3] [4]

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Happy Friday! Some highlights from this week…

Last week I met the very inspiring Roxane Gay at a reading she did at Left Bank Books. I’m reading her book Bad Feminist, which she very kindly signed for me. If you haven’t read it or heard of it, I highly recommend it! She also penned an amazing piece for The Guardian, in which she discusses privacy and women’s bodies with regards to the nude photo leak that happened this week.

I finished Letter To My Daughter by Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou is a beautiful writer, and I found her words so comforting.  My favourite excerpt:

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking.”

Emily from This Rawsome Vegan Life has me drooling, as usual, over one of her recipes. This week it’s her oat and pecan cake with vanilla ginger frosting.

I’m also dying to try this vegan mint chip shake from The First Mess

The My New Roots cookbook is officially available for pre-order! I am SO. FREAKING. EXCITED. I can’t emphasize that enough.

And that’s about it for this week. I’m celebrating my birthday this weekend, and a raw vegan cake is in the works!

Have a great weekend,

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