Monday, 29 December 2014

Ever the Seeker

The path of the spiritual warrior is not soft and sweet. It is not artificially blissful and pretend forgiving. It is not fearful of divisiveness. It is not afraid of its own shadow. It is not afraid of losing popularity when it speaks its truth. It will not beat around the bush where directness is essential. It has no regard for vested interests that cause suffering. It is benevolent and it is firey and it is cuttingly honest in its efforts to liberate itself and humanity from the egoic ties that bind. Shunning strong opinions in the name of spirituality is anti-spiritual. Spirituality that is only floaty soft is a recipe for disaster, allowing all manner of manipulation to run amok. Real spirituality is a quest for truth, in all its forms. Sometimes we find the truth on the meditation cushion, and sometimes we find it in the heart of conflict. May all spiritual warriors rise into fullness. This planet is lost without them.
~Jeff Brown~

Subscribing to Just Frank

Things have been a bit quiet over here on the blog for a couple of weeks as I ploughed my way through Xmas and all that came with it. With the festivities now behind us, some normality can now be restored and as I don't function terribly well without some kind of routine in my life, I'm looking forward to some structure.
In case you aren't already aware, you can subscribe to my blog and receive an email straight to your inbox when a new blog has been posted.
Its easy to do.....just scroll down the 'Just Frank' blog page until you reach 'Follow by Email' on the right hand side of the page. Enter your email address and click submit. You will receive a confirmation email which you will need to respond to so as to activate your subscription. You will then receive an email each time I post a new blog.
You may unsubscribe at any time and I do not, ever share your email address with anyone else.
Just a footnote for some of you who have already subscribed, I have noticed that a couple of people are yet to activate their subscriptions so if you are wondering why you aren't receiving your notifications, that would be why.
If you go back through your emails, you will find an email from 'Just Frank.' Click on the link and your subscription will be activated.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year and with lots of exciting things coming up for 'Just Frank',
 I look forward to interacting with you on my page in 2015 and beyond.

Zucchini Anyone?

With zucchini season well and truly underway, and an abundance of the little green sticks of dynamite everywhere you look, it's time to drag out all your favourite zucchini recipes.
I can remember my children sitting at the kitchen table when they were younger, anticipating the arrival of the evening meal and dreading in earnest the sight of anything even remotely resembling zucchini on their plates. It did arrive and in a myriad of ways. Zucchini slice, steamed, stuffed, crumbed and fried and in soup. Then there were the chutneys, relishes and the bags of frozen slices that would appear long after the plants had been pulled up.
 Anyone who's ever grown it will know that one plant is more than enough to keep an entire family in zucchini for a couple of months, 2 or more plants and your entire community with be well fed. 
Such a versatile and easy to grow vegetable well and truly deserves a place in the backyard veggie patch. 
If you have little ones (or big ones for that matter) who resist the finer things in life such as green veggies, try this amazing Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Mud Muffin recipe. Seriously, it will convert even those most resistant to green eating.



Vegan Chocolate Zucchini Mud Muffins



2 cups wholemeal flour 
1 ¾ cups raw sugar 
¾ cup cocoa powder
¾ cup oat or chick pea flour 
1 teaspoon carb soda
½ teaspoon baking powder 
a pinch of salt 
1/4 cup sunflower oil 
1/2 cup organic apple sauce 
¾ cup water 
1½ – 2 cups grated zucchini 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

1) Preheat the oven to 375F (175C). Grease and flour a 12 hole muffin tin. 
2) In a mixing bowl combine the flours, sugar, cocoa, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt. Break up any lumps and mix until evenly combined. 
3) In a separate mixing bowl combine the oil, apple sauce, water, zucchini and vanilla. Add this to the dry ingredients, stirring until no traces of flour remain. 
4) Fill muffin tins until 3/4 full. Bake for approx 20-25 mins until firm to touch. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.  Best served after it has cooled down. 
This recipe makes 24 muffins. 
These are THE most moist and 'chocolatey' muffins I've ever made. 
Absolutely divine. 

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Today, I'm Grateful.....

Today, December 13th 2014, I'm grateful. More than yesterday, I'm grateful.
It is slightly surreal to me that today I am celebrating my 50th birthday and there's something about another 'zero' birthday rolling around that sends most people into a frenzy but I don't feel that way in the slightest.


I've spent this past few weeks in a constant state of reflection, pondering over key moments in my life, mistakes, triumphs, beautiful and loving people and some people that are just painful memories of my past. (although, they had something to teach me also.)

Throughout this time of introspection, I didn't reach an absolute conclusion about anything in particular, but there were some tears, both happy and sad and a general feeling of satisfaction about where I am as I reach this amazing milestone.

I've never been a vain person so turning 50 doesn't faze me in the slightest in the physical realm. Very purposefully this year, I allowed my natural 'salt and pepper' hair colour to shine through, wearing it now like a badge of honour. I've rightly earnt that!

Wrinkles, or character lines, as I like to call them and those inevitable 'saggy' bits that none of us will escape from no matter how hard some people try, are all a natural part of what makes us who we are, and I've got them too. I remember my Auntie telling me many years ago that we earn the lines on our faces and whether the lines turn up or down, whether we've chosen to smile or frown, we've earnt them all.

The shape and size of my body doesn't make me who I am and at this stage of my life, I'm more concerned with the condition of my soul.


I've done the whole 'body' thing, the worrying, obsessing, exercising to extremes (that I can hardly bear to think about now) and starving and binging my way through many years of my early 40's in an attempt to fill the massive void that existed in my sad and yearning heart. As you can imagine, none of these attempts to manipulate and alter the external brought me anything but a whole lot of pain, broken relationships and a heart more void of substance than ever before.

It wasn't until my 'heart work' began that any lasting results came to the fore, and this certainly didn't happen without an internal fight like none I'd ever experienced before. I believe 'heart work' is one of those work in progress situations where there's no destination to reach and where the constant evolving is what grows and sustains us. I know I'm not alone.

Let me just say though, it isn't for the faint of heart!

Sadly, I've lost some valued friends along the way and extended family ties have often been strained to the point of exhaustion as I've walked my own uniquely designed path and accepted my role in this world as the non-conformist that I am. My inner hippie came out of her tiny little closet and began her often uncoordinated dance, to a tune that apparently only she could hear.

These days, I don't immerse myself in things or activities that pain me....not even to simply please another. I don't have time.

Our time in this world is precious and finite, something that only became 'slap in the face' clear to me after my recovery.

What I do have time for however, is an abundance of love and quality interactions with others. I have time for sharing my humanness with an open heart, warts and all and I have time to listen with the same open heart to the realness of others as we walk this path home together.

Today, I'm proud to say, I'm 50. I made it!

Today, December 13th 2014, I'm grateful.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Shine On


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. 
 ~Author Unknown~

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Why We Stay in Crappy Situations

Change sucks. That’s why we stay in bad relationships, eat at the same restaurants, and take the same path to work every day. Humans like comfort, even when that comfort is uncomfortable.
We’re creatures of habit, and breaking habits causes everything from anxiety, to depression, to eating a litre of ice-cream.
For example, I spent nine years in a relationship when I should have left after five. Why? Because making a change, even a necessary change, pushes you out of your comfort zone and into that awkward place that nobody likes called growth.
But, as we all know, change doesn’t happen overnight.
Sure, we have growth spurts brought on by moments of clarity and the desire to stop playing small. But for the most part, humans don’t change until their discomfort in their current situation becomes greater than their fear of change. Growth is rarely linear and often requires a tipping point.
Often, we grow in waves, a cycle known as evolutionary catharsis. This is the repeated upheaval and cleansing of our lives. And, just like cleaning your closet, it gets messier before it gets clean. The end result is that kick-ass “aha” moment when our brain is reorganized into a new, more evolved state. In short, we're brought back to ourselves and are ready to take the necessary steps to get where we want in life.
So how does this work?
Right before we have a growth spurt, many of us have a temporary feeling of discomfort. This manifests as self-defeating behaviors. Learned in childhood as coping mechanisms, these behaviors fall into three categories:

1. Those who try to reduce the amount of overwhelm by pushing energy out.
Some hallmarks of this technique include:
  • compulsive behaviors
  • sickness
  • yelling
2. Those who block additional energy from entering the system.
Features of this trait include:
  • withdrawal
  • loss of appetite
  • depression
3. Those who seek distractions from feeling the growing chaos inside them.
Distractions can take many forms, including:
  • any form of addiction
  • dissociation
  • watching a lot of television
These three types of coping mechanisms are our system’s final, desperate attempts to preserve what we know. After all, it’s scary and stressful to step into a new way of being. Some call it “de-evolution,” but that's a misnomer as it’s a natural part of the evolutionary process. Whether we reach for the bottle, an ex, get sick, or overexercise, it’s all part of the process. Our goal is not to judge these attempts, but to witness them.
We are the evolutionary process itself, but our beliefs around what growth “should” look like is nothing more than our ego’s perception of our role in relation to our surroundings. Naturally, as we release old beliefs, our brains struggle to hold on to their current reality before new, truthful ideas emerge.

The Solution

While these self-defeating behaviors may temporarily help to release the pressure of growth, the end result is keeping the system where it is. Learning to tolerate the discomfort rather than running away from it is what allows us to take that quantum leap into the next state of awareness and being.
Ironically, our fight to indulge in these nonevolutionary behaviors is what keeps us playing small, making the process longer and more painful. And, like most things, it comes down to surrender. We must be willing to surrender what we are for and what we can become. Whichever self-defeating behavior you choose, watch it with curiosity and with detachment. Notice the subtle shifts, the discomfort, and the result on the other side of it.
Sure, this is easier said than done and I’m certainly not perfect. It takes me a while to accept that continuing old behaviours and expecting new results is a recipe for stagnation, because let’s face it, change sucks. But you know what sucks more? Not growing.

Some content previously posted on MindBodyGreen.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Green Super Powers

Kale has long been touted as a 'green super food,' and rightly so when you consider the health benefits it provides.
The dark, leafy green has been on dinner plates since Roman times and is a commonly used green across much of Europe.
The vegetable hails from the Cruciferous family which also includes cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and everyone's favourite, brussel sprouts.
Kale is more popular than ever, which is great to see as it’s packed with plenty of vitamins and minerals.
With another crop now ready to pick from my garden and a new variety of Curly Leaf Kale that I purchased as seed from an interstate grower just leafing up, I'm looking forward to utilising this wonderful 'green' in as many ways as possible.
In smoothies, stir fries or a handful chopped up and thrown into a veggie burger recipe, there are so many fantastic ways to get your intake of a whole host of essential vitamins and minerals from a relatively small serve.
A little tip: always remove any hard stems from the leaves, as more often than not, these can add a slight bitterness to anything you add them to.
One of my favourite ways to eat kale is to make a batch of delicious kale chips, a healthy alternative to regular potato chips.
Kale is now readily available in supermarkets and green grocers. If you can't find it, ask in store to see if it's possible to order some in. Your body will thank you.

 

Some of the Health Benefits of Kale


At just 33 calories, one cup of raw kale has:
  • Nearly 3 grams of protein
  • 2.5 grams of fibre (which helps manage blood sugar and makes you feel full)
  • Vitamins A, C, and K
  • Folate, a B vitamin that’s important for brain development
  • Alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. (While kale has far less omega-3 than fish, it is another way to get some of this healthy fat into your diet.)
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that give kale its deep, dark green colouring and protect against macular degeneration and cataracts. Minerals including phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and zinc.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Inviting the 'Black Dog' to Christmas.

If you watch TV or listen to the radio, you could be fooled I into believing that Christmas is THE happiest time of the year what with family get togethers, an abundance of food and more money spent on gift giving than wages earnt.
Advertising and the desire to please play a huge part in motivating us to get our wallets out and spend up big, but if you actually stand in the aisles at some of the bigger department stores and listen to the conversational exchanges going on, you may be surprised.
Many a time, I've heard the mutterings of people who have absolutely no idea what to buy someone and as their bewilderment is verbalised, the frustration in their voices is audible. Its pretty sad to think that someone is going to receive a gift with that sentiment attached to it, and this happens all the time. The lead up to Christmas is pretty much a buying frenzy.
We live in an age where 'we' have everything, all the time, not just at Christmas time. I remember when I was a child, ( yeh, yeh, I can hear the groans!) Christmas was the time of the year that we waited for to receive those special treats, that were just that, treats. Although my parents both worked, we weren't lavished with gifts and expensive toys all year through, and hence when Christmas rolled around, we were bursting with excitement to see what was going to be under the tree, generally 4-5 special things including something my Dad had made. Even the food we traditionally thought of as Christmas food, is now as everyday occurrence.
This issue isn't exclusive to children, with adults these days spending hundreds of dollars on gifts for each other as well.
Before I say anymore, I will just make it clear that this is my personal opinion and I know I will have some opposition and that's ok.
One of my concerns about this, and I have many, is what happens on December 26th, when the last of the discarded and crumpled up Christmas paper is gathered up and there's a battle on to find room for the new gifts that have been accumulated. The fridge is overflowing with leftovers, the kids are too often already bored with half of the things they've received (they certainly wont remember who gave them which gift)  and the majority of the grown ups are wishing for New Year to roll around so they can make the long awaited changes to their lifestyle such as a new weight loss program or changes to their budgeting plans. I'm sorry but I just find it sad.
In January, as the credit cards bills or the depleted bank balance become a reality, for many, depression hits. Over spending comes back to bite and the work it will take to replenish the depleted funds will last well beyond many of the things they paid for, a fact which can be verified by the stats that are released every year on the dollar value of the credit card debt that is racked up at this time of the year.
Please understand that I'm not anti Christmas. There's nothing I love more than spending time with my family at this special time of the year sharing a meal and giving and receiving gifts, I just think the true meaning is now completely lost by most and is almost totally in the hands of the retailers as they guilt us into showing our love by the dollar value of a gift.
 I do hope this is food for thought for someone out there as we begin a month of craziness in the lead up to Christmas day, a time that should be reserved for quality family memory building and for remembering what this celebration is truly about.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

A Lived-In Kitchen

I don't know....is it just me or do a love of cooking and an abundance of kitchen gadgets
just seem to go hand in hand.
I will let you in on a little secret. I have a fetish for single noodle bowls and coffee mugs. None of this buying them in sets of 6 business, I like just 1, so you can get a mental picture of what my cupboards contain. Lots of 1's. There's no colour theme either. I have no preference for one colour or pattern over another, preferring instead to mix rather than match.
Whilst on a little browse through our locally owned kitchenware store Live-In Kitchens last week, I'm afraid my eye was taken by a rather large and quirky chook mug. Yep, it's mine now.
I was actually in there on the lookout for the mini whisk I had mentioned in a previous post for the whisking of flax meal and water when making an egg replacer called a flax egg.
The proprietor and long time friend, Robyn, has almost every size of whisk imaginable from mini to jumbo and everything in between.
The store looked amazing and was full to the brim with everything you could ever possibly need for your kitchen and some.
For those of you who aren't in our local area, check out their website at www.liveinkitchens.com.au  and for those of you who are, pop on down to the store and see Robyn and the team for all your kitchen needs.




Monday, 1 December 2014

Easy Meatless Monday

For those of you who may be looking to transition to a more plant based diet, Meatless Monday is a great place to start if going all out and removing meat altogether seems a bit daunting. Putting aside one day a week to go 'meat-free' may also help to show off your new recipes and Vegetarian cooking prowess to other family members.
Burgers are a great place to start as they are so easy to make, are versatile and can be served in a number of ways that will appeal to all ages. If time is of the essence, burgers can be mixed and shaped ahead of time and refrigerated for cooking when needed. The patties are great served in a roll with salad and some oven baked fries on the side or with hot veggies and gravy if you prefer. The choice is yours.
My girls often had them cold in their lunch boxes for school the next day if there were left overs.
 
Happy Monday!

 

Basic Bean Burgers

 

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard (pick a mild one if mustard isn't your thing)
  • 1 can 4 bean mix/red kidney beans drained
  • 1 tsp veggie stock powder
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
 
Instructions
 
  1. Heat a frypan and saute the onion and garlic with a tiny bit of salt for a few minutes until translucent but not brown.
  2. Add the carrot and cook a couple minutes or until carrot is tender. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  3. Mash the beans in a large bowl. Add the carrot mixture, mustard, sauces, stock powder and oats.
  4. Mix well and then shape the mixture into eight patties with your hands.
  5. Heat a non-stick fry-pan and coat with cooking spray.
  6. Cook patties over medium heat for four to five minutes on each side, or until golden brown. I like mine a little crisper on the outside.