Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fruity Freedom

Happy July 4th, bloggies! (And happy be-lated Canada Day to my Canadian friends! You will be happy to know I celebrated with you... sure, it was only by embracing maple syrup, but that counts, right?)

[patriotic oats]

[red (strawberries), white brown (cinnamon-filled oats), and blue (blueberries and black raspberries)]

Around this time of year, Canada (1 July), the US (4 July), and France (14 July) all set aside time to celebrate their countries' values. In America's Declaration of Independence, whose birthday is celebrated today, all men are said to be created equal and assured the basic rights of "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." 

[My foodie pursuit of happiness led me to kabocha. Naturally Nutty's Cinnamon Vanilla Sunflower Butter was the icing on the cake.]

This July 4th, I have noticed that the value of liberty has become quite a prominent theme in my life. Naturally, I started to see this because of yoga. 

[Side note: yoga is very much apart of me and I think that is why many things I observe result from it. Also, yoga definitely clears the mind and opens one up to reflection.] 

[While yoga has helped me discover so much, only bloggies could introduce me to this two trends: kale chips and humnut sauce.]

[Enjoyed with black beans, carrots, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and red pepper, this meal was better than I could have ever imagined. Lots of dippaged most certainly occurred.]

One of my yoga mentors said something that really struck a chord; freedom is the state in which we are not caught in the past or troubled by always looking to the future. Instead, freedom is living life today by savoring every moment and staying in the moment. 

[A spur-of-the-moment decision to make something creamy, cheeze-y, and veggie-filled ended like this.] 

[Millet + ~3 tbs almond milk + 1 tbs nooch (& more for veggies) + 1/4 tsp turmeric (for color) + dashes of Parma = LOVE, veggies included.]

[If your body decides in the moment that you want the same dinner, why deny it that? Even repeated things can be enjoyed with the same love as the first time.] 

With this mindset, I have been able to also free myself of worry and doubt. Over the past year, I have really taken hold of my life and freed myself of many of these emotions consciously, but not necessarily through tangible means. 

[The natural sweetness in strawberries and kabocha is so overwhelming that sometimes it seems too good to be real.]

However, I have even noticed a few freeing moments in the past few days. I think a great, concrete example is how I am now able to do adho mukha svanasana (handstand), or at least attempt it. Before yesterday, I was sure that my body was just built in a way that would not allow handstands because I could not find the power to kick. In reality, I was just afraid to take the leap of faith and still retained the mindset that I was inflexible and incapable. With some encouraging words from two of my mentors and a few alignment adjustments, I was up, up, and away. Although I am still getting used to it and cannot always get up, I feel like a weight has been lifted off me, even though I did not even know it was there. I am strong. And more importantly, I am free. Free to play, free to explore, and even free to free myself of whatever holds me down. 

What are you free to do? What would you like to free yourself of?

Be it freedom of speech, freedom of religion, or even the feeling that we are free to be who we truely are (such as unconventional choices that Avery has talked about), I am extremely thankful to live in a country that assures me of personal freedom. Just like in politics, not everyone may agree with my lifestyle or choose it for themselves, but at least we are free to do what works best for us. 

And since this is a food blog, of course I could not help but show you where my lifestyle took me this weekend. Since I moved to a new house this weekend (and accordingly am now forced to share a smaller refrigerator, instead of having my own, larger one), I have been increasingly aware of the necessity of produce in a vegan diet... lots, and LOTS of produce. 

Luckily, my mom and I make it a point to go to the farmer's market every weekend. This weekend, we were lucky enough to have J join us. With an already good start, it is no surprise that our fresh finds were amazing as well. 

The cauliflower, broccoli, and leaf lettuce are all from my favorite local growers. Since these are all staples in my pantry refrigerator, I have really gotten to know the vendors and we look forward to seeing each other every week. I love that I can actually talk with the farmers face to face. Talk about knowing where your food comes from! 

Zucchini and yellow squash are also staples in my fridge. When they are in season, I go nuts. I bought way more than what is pictured; I could not help myself since they were so fresh and full of character. I also bought cucumbers (local), lemons, limes and Brussels sprouts (such a lucky find, especially because they were enormous... as big as the lemons and limes!)

On the fruit front, berries are a must. Nothing says summer like fresh blueberries (x2), blackberries (x2), and strawberries (x2; 4 pounds worth!). 

Whenever possible, we try to buy from our (now former) neighbor's stand. She has been so kind in the past and today was no exception. Her produce skills are impeccable; she is able to tell us what produce is the freshest and always picks out the best she has for us. Just check out the juicy blackberries she selected for us! I have never tasted such succulence! 

Not only did she give us the best berries my taste buds might have ever had the pleasure to indulge in, but she even gave us another box of blackberries and a bag of cherries when we were on our way out; it was totally spur-of-the-moment! What a treat! (Trust me, all the explanation points are completely necessary.)  

As you can see, today I was also lucky enough to find a box of fresh figs (and J got some of his favorite fruit---plums x2).

I do not think I have actually ever had fresh figs. However, I do like the dried version (which is saying a lot since I do not usually like a lot of dried fruit) and will even admit to being quite a fan of Fig Newtons when I was younger. 

[Fun fact: in eight grade, we were required to participate in a competition called Math and Physics Olympics. My team's name was the Brainy Bunch and our banner explained Newton's Laws using Fig Newton wrappers.] 

Naturally I was so excited about my special find that I had to see what was inside. Even the insides of the most wrinkly one was beautiful... and delicious! Have you ever had fresh figs? What is your favorite way to enjoy them?

Whether it be handstands or fresh figs, all I can say is let freedom ring. 

How are you celebrating July 4th? What American (or other country's) value really strikes a chord for you? 

Have a lovely day July 4th holiday weekend! 


P.S. In honor of most people's decision to travel on this holiday weekend, check out this article on traveling as a vegan (click here). I am doing a road trip in August, so any suggestions would be much appreciated. 


  1. in Canada, maple syrup makes up for everything! the celebration effect of it last forever so it totally counts :)

    happy 4th of July btw!!

    i love just getting out and tanning, it really frees me. or shopping with mama... or even just going to my yoga class alone. i can just enjoy me time and feel free to explore my mind and life hehe


  2. Happy 4th, Mandiee :) I have to say that I really love how you tied the whole idea of independence with freedom in your own life. Recovering from my ED, freedom to make food choices out of desire rather than fear is something that's been extremely prominent in my life these past few months. I used to have all these rules that I had to follow... Rules that made me miserable, sick, and a prisoner. It was only when I started challenging my fears and gaining freedom that I truly became happy. I also really love what your yoga mentor said about freedom being living in the moment and not worrying about the past or future; so incredibly true.

    I've never had fresh figs before, but I desperately want to try them! I just can't seem to find any stores that carry them :( But your almond milk & nooch cheezy sauce is something I enjoy quite often :) You should try making it with some coconut milk and pouring it into quinoa. Bliss.

  3. i am so glad yoga has such a positive impact in your life :) it's wonderful to read your passion. i love the relaxation even just a small amount of yoga brings me, too.
    how do you like that vanilla sunflower seed butter? i saw it but didn't order as i was unsure if i'd like the sweetness. i love sweet peanut butters - but i think the reason i love sunflower seed butter is it's slight saltiness. so i'm interested to hear how it is :)
    and your farmer's market looks lovely! i am just about drooling all of those beautiful berries. so jealous, i hope you enjoy them. i also love talking to the farmers and bakers. i love having a nice little chat with the bakers i get my bread from. they are so well educated, and are truly and honestly glad to hear any feedback. we've even brainstormed together :P
    i've never had fresh figs, either!! i actually saw them for the first time ever in the supermarket last i went - but there was no price tag and i was afraid they would be out of this world expensive. i'm betting they just came in so they hadn't been marked yet - and planning on checking it out next time ;) I LOVE dried figs, so i am so curious to try them fresh!!
    whew - sorry for the novel! but enjoy the rest of your fourth :)

  4. I love your blog so much! I also like fresh figs. I had my first one last year.

    I also remember freeing myself of worry through yoga philosophy. People often comment on how little I react outwardly in stressful situations or if something goes wrong. I think this is because if you are in the moment, you realize that you can't go back to change something bad that happened, you can only stay calm and accept the present. In the same vein, worrying about the future is merely an unpleasant state of mind. Actions in the present are what create the future, which then becomes the past. Staying mindful in the present is where it's at!

  5. I absolutely adore fresh figs. Just bought fresh green & black from yesterday's farmer's market in San Fran...both amazing! I eat them plain, also good frozen, or chopped and added to salads and summer pastas. :)

  6. I randomly stumbled across your blog, it's great!

    I love the patriotic oats!

  7. Hey Mandee!! Thanks for stopping by my blog and your sweet comment. I'm pretty sure the veggie burger was Dr. Pregers (which is my favorite brand by far). My MIL bought them but they tasted and looked just like Dr, Preagers. I love this brand so much because the ingredient list is so short and you can actually see big chunks of veggies! Love that in a veggie burger.

    Hope you are enjoying your 4th!!!

  8. your posts are always just chock full!

    ok thx for the shoutout :)

    i usually only get dried figs not fresh and not often but they are good in raw dessert balls/treats :)

    the vegan traveling...this is where high raw plant-based comes to mind. Raw fruit, raw veg, nothing fancy, just whatever you can get your hands on and fills you up. I have never had success if i have expectations other than that...but if that's my mindset, then i am fine!

    congrats on handstand! It took me years. I like handstand but i love!! pincha mayurasna

    i LOVE the forearm balance part of it rather than on my hands. but i love inversions of all kinds. congrats for even getting up!!!

  9. I love your theme of freedom in this post! What your yoga teacher told you really resonated with me. That's how I want to learn to live my life - in the moment, without worrying about the past or future.

    In the past few months, I've realized that I'm free to pursue the future that will make me happy. It was this that led me to make the switch to a degree in nutrition. As for what I would like to free myself of, I'd like to let go of my need to always feel in control and plan everything. I feel so restricted because of this!

    It looks like your farmer's market has amazing produce! I've never had fresh figs, but I really want to. The insides look so gooey and sweet!

  10. Hey lady

    Sounds like another great farmer's market trip with such a delicious looking bounty! We were a little skimpy this weekend because of the prices at the Royal oak market and me being the only one to be home to eat most of the produce. I can't believe I didn't get the cherries though, they look beautiful! I actually haven't done the fresh fig thing either...but love the dried ones! I can't wait to see how you eat them.

    In terms of freedom...I also am so happy to live in a country where I am allowed personal freedom to do what makes me happy. It is hard to remember sometimes that we do have it...

    hope you are having a lovely long weekend lady!

  11. Gorgeous patriotic oats!! And I have never had fresh figs. I liked dried ones, so I'm guessing fresh is even better!

  12. I loved this post! :D From the foodie pictures to your words. Yoga has done some similar things for me and I also think that's why I have a calmer perspective on things. I have the freedom to do lots of things! Make decisions for myself, what direction I want to go in, what I want to wear, and speak my mind.


    p.s. I have wondered about the golden flaxseeds. Do they taste different?? And thanks so much for those tips!

  13. Oh my there are so many delicious things in this post i dont know where to start. I do really enjoy fresh figs, they are delicious. I love using them to top oatmeal or just eating them all on their own. And I love your patriotic oats too, they are just so darn festive!

    Happy belated fourth to you!

  14. I love your posts girl! The way you tied together Canada Day/4th of July with your yoga practice, being free, and FIGS :D I'm jealous of your fresh figs- we only have dried over here!