Winter

Bean Feast Chilli

Fire up your chakras

A traditional chilli is one of those all time classics that works very well as a wholesome vegan dish. I decided to use adzuki alongside the black beans as they are low in fat, full of protein, soluble fibre and help to lower harmful LDL cholesterol.

The dish works with all the chakras, primarily to warm up and stimulate the root and brow chakras so great to boost a sluggish / cold system during the winter months. 

 Photography by Adrian Lawrence, 2015

Photography by Adrian Lawrence, 2015

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 Cup / 185g Dried Adzuki Beans (soaked overnight in cold water and drained)

1 Cup / 180g Dried Black Turtle Beans (soaked overnight in cold water and drained)

2 tbsp Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil

1 Red Onion, sliced

2 Garlic Clove, sliced

1 Red Chilli, finely chopped

1 Green Bell Pepper

1 Yellow Bell Pepper

1 ¾ cup / 100g Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced

1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1 tsp Cumin Seeds

¼ tsp Cayenne

2 x 14 oz / 400g Canned chopped tomatoes

Bunch of Fresh Coriander, chopped

2 Cups / 320g Brown Basmati Rice

Sea Salt and Pepper

Garnish:

1 Lime cut into wedges

4 tsp Chia Seeds

2 Avocados, chopped

METHOD

Rinse the soaked adzuki and black beans separately in fresh cold water. Place in separate pans of water and boil for 15 minutes, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and set the beans aside.  

Warm the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and garlic, and sweat for 5 minutes. Add the chilli to the pan, stir through, and sweat for a further 5 minutes. Add the peppers and mushrooms to the pan with the spices and stir thoroughly for 2-3 minutes over a medium heat. Add the tomatoes, beans, and coriander. Simmer for 30 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. 

Meanwhile, rinse the rice. Place it in a medium-sized pan with 4 cups / 950ml water and a pinch of salt and cover with a lid. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 25 minutes until all the water has absorbed. Serve the rice and chilli on warmed plates. Add lime wedges, scatter with the chia seeds, and serve with the chopped avocado on the side, if using.

Recipe from The Chakra Kitchen: Feed your Body to Nourish your Spirit, CICO Books, 2015

Capricorn, Saturn and the Root Chakra

As I mentioned in my previous post on The REAL New Year and How to Prepare - this is the time of year when it is important to rest, restore and gently build up our physical strength throughout Winter before Spring Equinox and the subsequent weeks. According to Sidereal astrology the sun is now in the zodiac sign of Capricorn (whose main constellation is known as the Sea-Goat or sometimes Crocodile in ancient mythologies) and this is ruled by Saturn who also governs the Root chakra (Muladhara). More daylight now enters our lives again as we gradually build up the strength to increase our daily activities and go out into the world proper again come Spring. In the Tropical zodiac the Sun entered the zodiac sign of Capricorn on the day of the Winter Solstice so at the time of writing this post both systems align.

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In ancient Vedic mythology the Sun (father) does not usually get on with Saturn (his Son), but his entry into the Capricorn is an exception - a truce moment if you like where positive soul growth can be experienced. Saturn is the slowest moving and deepest acting amongst the seven personal planets and is also known constitutionally as the coldest (furthest from the Sun). Therefore it resonates well with the season of Winter in the northern hemisphere with its undertones of darkness, death, decay and endings. With the Sun entering this area of the zodiac and the days increasingly getting longer now until Summer Solstice, we have a sense that there is hope for sustainable life on Earth both for its natural fauna and inhabitants who are keen and able to complete another seasonal cycle. In this sense it can also symbolise eternal life or life after death - the rising power of the Sun again. If we can face the cold hard truth about ourselves at this time (which Saturn represents and can trigger) and shed any illusions, then it is my belief that rewarding and long term results can occur from working with this energy.

Whilst Saturn can represent loyalty and longevity it can also bring about the strength to say no when necessary if boundaries have been breached (something that many find hard to do). It seems no wonder for instance that both personal and working relationships end at this time of the year as a lot of self-recognition can take place and perhaps sometimes it is about reconciling with this away from others, so that we can grow as individual souls before reconnecting again externally. If we have been caught in an illusion that all is well when really it isn't, then Saturn is the teacher that can certainly wake us up with a thud - bring us back down to earth literally!

The Root chakra is all about physicality and predominantly the earth element, which also rules Capricorn. If we nurture our immune systems, keep our body temperatures stable and rest well during this time then we will have enough reserves built up for the Spring. Solid roots and foundations for the cycle ahead can be created. As the seat of the Kundalini, the Root chakra is an important area and should be well tended to. Running before we can walk can often cause problems later on such as falls and accidents and it is the natural order of things from birth to do one before the other as our root chakras are developing. Likewise, in yoga if you fully activate and raise the Kundalini before you are sufficiently prepared i.e. on loose foundations, often traumatic consequences can occur spiritually/psychologically and physically. So even though I encourage starting to work with your dreams and goals at this time (as I stated in my previous post), take your time, plant those seeds slowly and work with and not against the natural forces at this time of the year.

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Facing our truth and consciously making efforts to speak and act with sincerity are great ways to honour the energy of Capricorn, Saturn and the root chakra. We are working here with the sign and planet that naturally rule the 10th house of the zodiac - this is at the peak or top of the wheel and the place where our status and recognition in the world lies. It is the absolute pinnacle above the horizon where feminine meets masculine side by side in the constellations of Capricorn and Aquarius. Ask yourself questions such as "How is it that I want to be seen by others?" and "Is this who I genuinely am, or is this the mask that I like to wear?" - liberate yourself into authenticity.

I would also recommend introspection and meditation on the Root chakra at this time, as Saturn is all about discipline and patience (this is really the primary intended way to work with all the chakras, so good to get into the habit now as we begin our journey through this year). You can do this simply by visualising the four petalled lotus flower at the base of the spine and internalising the seed mantra "lam". If you wish you add the colour red and work with a gemstone such as onyx or garnet then use your intuition on which will work with you the best at that time (my next post will go into more detail on possible gemstones to use when working with this chakra). In my downloadable FREE Tops Tips I give other ways to work with the root chakra. I would also recommend eating more root vegetables (see The Chakra Kitchen for recipes) and working with aromatherapy oils such as those contained in my Strength Chakra Aroma Roller as they work on a deep sensory level (again particularly relevant for the root).

I wish you all the best in connecting with your Root chakra and building new foundations for the year ahead and look out for further posts as we move through the zodiac cycle.

Addendum: Please note that the zodiacal period of Aquarius is also traditionally ruled by Saturn and can be used to similar effect in supporting the Root chakra, although the element associated with this sign is air, thus it can also be a time to bring things into the heart chakra area (appropriate for St Valentine's Day). Inner tending and forgiveness are ideal to help your new roots grow strong. I recommend during tropical Aquarius to start to go outside more and breathe in the beginnings of new life in nature and adding the element of air to the seeds you are planting within for the year ahead. Importantly Imbolc/Candlemass occur at this time (the half-way point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox) - a celebration of light increasing and new life beginning to shoot forth, the Crone becoming the Maiden again. 

The REAL New Year and How to Prepare

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It's that time of the year again when most of us are in a slight blur from overindulgence of food, family, people in general, shopping and tv. This natural rise in energy that peaks in the days running up to Christmas has been a long standing part of modern day life. It is really no wonder that as we hit January it often brings dissolution and lackluster feelings, especially once we get into weeks 2-3 after the initial excitement and good intentions wear thin.

I believe that if we tune into the natural cycles of the seasons then really the true "New Year" is is marked by the Spring Equinox (the time when the plane of the equator passes over the centre of the sun), landing on Tuesday 20 March in 2018 - just 81 days from now. Just because the Gregorian calendar marks 1st January as a starting point doesn't mean that it naturally is or always has been. The Spring Equinox date marks the start of the astrological calendar in the sign of Pisces (Sidereal Zodiac) and Aries (Tropical Zodiac). With this in mind, I would recommend giving yourself a break here with the hasty resolutions and instead first release the old and take your time throughout January, February and early March to let your dreams unfold and sew the seeds as they come. Here are some tips to get you prepared for the REAL New Year:

  • Use the remainder of this week to give thanks for all the experiences of 2017 post Spring Equinox, (which was also 20th March this year as it happens), be they perceivedly negative or positive to you - remember we and our personal journeys are part of a much bigger and incomprehensible picture. To take this a step further, list these experiences on paper and then on the night of 1st January (note the Full Moon energy will already be in effect as it reaches 100% at around 2:25am GMT on 2nd January) take a quiet moment, light some candles and release your list of memories from the year by burning them and giving prayers of thanks. You can in fact repeat this for the next 2 Full Moons that occur before the Spring Equinox (Wednesday 31st January and Friday 2nd March) and add anything else that occurs during those moon cycles that you wish to release. Remember 3 is the magic number! The full moon is all about culmination and release so this is an ideal time to let go whatever no longer serves you. It really is not the best time however to start anything new e.g. good old resolutions, unless you set intentions for it/them at the last Black and New Moon and have actually taken solid action as the moon has been waxing, a moment after the moon is 100% full you are working with waning energy so it won't support you so well in any new endeavours. The following step will guide you on working with the Black and New Moon for intention setting.
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  • January is an excellent time to start considering your wants and needs for the true year ahead so start planning your goals and dreams and make a list. When you hit the Black Moon on Wednesday 15th January set the intentions you have via ritual and prayer, no burning involved this time! Follow your instincts, but I would recommend leaving your list somewhere sacred to you or even start creating a vision board for the year with images to back up your ideas. This can be added to as you come up with new things throughout the first half of the year (I would suggest adding at the Black Moon each month for extra power). Once the moon becomes visible it is the New Moon (3 days after the invisibility of the Black Moon) e.g 18th January you can start to take baby steps of action towards your goals and intentions, but the real call to action for major steps forward and exposure would be on the Spring Equinox itself as the New Moon lands only a couple of days before on Sunday 18th March so will be visible at this time. You can of course keep sewing seeds of intention after this point whilst the ground is fertile so to speak, but as a cut-off time for 2018 additions I would use the longest day of the year - Summer Solstice on Thursday 21st June. This still allows time for seeds to germinate and create a rich harvest in the Autumn. Anything after this point may not come to fruition as quickly as you may like, BUT do go with your own instincts on this if you feel differently. 
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  • Remember to keep well nurtured and rested until the Spring Equinox, this is still hibernation time for recharging the batteries and really not ideal for excessively hitting the gym or doing anything of great physical exertion! You can't go far wrong expanding your mind by delving into good books and educational videos, alongside spiritual practice, nutritious foods, warm teas and the odd bit of period drama! Just remember to keep some gentle exercise in, walking out in nature, and/or a swim and then hit the sauna if you can (health permitting) to keep some dryer warmth in the body during this cold and damp time. This can be particularly good for those with poor circulation who get cold at the extremities, but do read the safety notices before entering a sauna, or check with a medic if you have a diagnosed condition and are unsure.
  • On the nutritional side I would really make an extra effort to eat the chakra rainbow! This will keep you sustained and immunity boosted to get you through the rest of the year. Some of my staple favourites to include are: jerusalem artichokes (full of prebiotic inulin that feeds probiotic organisms to help boost immunity and prevent "bad" bacteria from growing), beetroot, ginger (antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic), turmeric, steamed leafy greens, cinnamon, pears and elderberries (truly the best for Vitamin C and can be found in my winter warming Chaka Tea Flame). For more organic, plant-based recipe ideas for the winter months and nutritional information check out my cookbook The Chakra Kitchen.
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  • Invest in Eucalyptus essential oil to diffuse in the house, this will keep germs at bay and create a lovely fresh and energising atmosphere. Combine with Rosemary for clarity and a brain boosting combo to aid in stimulating new ideas for your vision board or try my new Creativity and Insight Chakra Aroma Rollers to help you on your way.

Whatever it brings, I wish you all a very Happy 2018 and hope that it is filled with lots of good health, adventure, courage and love and that you start to reap the benefits of working with the moon and the natural cycle of the seasons. 

Sarah x

Christmas Jam

Sweet comfort for all your chakras

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Ingredients

Makes 4 x 8oz/225g jars

4 mandarins

3 tablespoons agar agar flakes

6 pears

2 1/2 cups/250g cranberries

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon

1 teaspoon ground star anise

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 cup/140g coconut palm sugar

½ teaspoon edible gold dust (optional)

In this recipe the fruits are barely cooked in order to preserve their nutrients. Low GI coconut palm sugar acts as the sweetener. The cranberries resonate with the root chakra, are full of phytonutrients and are renowned for their support of the urinary and digestive tracts. Pears resonate with the heart chakra and can support cardiovascular health. Sea plant agar is a source of calcium, iron and fibre, and helps to eliminate toxic waste from the body.

Method

First sterilize the jars by boiling the jars and their lids in a large pan of water for 10 minutes, then place in the oven on a low temperature to dry.

Juice the mandarins—you should end up with 1 cup/240 ml. Place the juice in a medium-sized pan with the agar and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Cover and bring the agar mixture to the boil momentarily, then simmer for 5 minutes.

Chop the pears and place in a food processor with the cranberries, ginger, lemon juice and zest, and the spices. Process until combined. Add to the agar mixture with the sugar, bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Leave the jam to cool for 10 minutes, then stir through the edible gold dust, if using. Ladle into the jars, and seal the lids tightly. Label and give away as the perfect Christmas gift or serve with English muffins. Store for up to 3 weeks in the fridge.