The Great American Eclipse

The Great American Eclipse

Happy August everyone!

This month we have two big eclipses happening; a full lunar eclipse on August 7 (not visible in the USA) and a full solar eclipse on August 21, that’s already been named as the Great American Eclipse, as it will only be visible in the United States. The last eclipse that was ONLY visible in USA was in 1918….so it’s pretty historical.

How do eclipses affect us?

As an astrology lover, I thought I’d share a tidbit from Susan Miller’s website, astrologyzone.com where she writes pretty detailed monthly forecasts for all twelve zodiac signs.

What she said about this pair of eclipses was:

This will be a big month, full of surprises, both in your life and on the world stage. The eclipses are powerful, and they will change your timetables, your priorities, and your goals as new opportunities and conditions arise at a rapid rate. Most eclipses are mixed in outlook, but these are the most loving and affirming.

– Susan Miller | www.astrologyzone.com

She also goes on to explain that lunar eclipses tend to bring closure to situations depending on where they fall in your chart, while solar eclipses open new doors. So of all months to read, her write up this month is pretty juicy :).

How do yogi’s traditionally observe eclipses?

Numerous yogic texts explain that every human is a little walking universe. Everything we see externally, we possess internally–it’s just a matter of believing it and learning how to tap into that energy through meditation. Yogi’s were wise because they had the ability to close their eyes and tap into a whole different level of consciousness which allowed them to access a depth of knowledge straight from the source. It was always amazingly detailed and extremely accurate. But they didn’t stop there, to make sure that their mind/ego had not influenced their perception and thinking , they would compare notes with other yogi’s to make sure they got the same information and that’s how the various Vedas and sutras were written.

Ancient Knowledge

These yogi’s would meditate on EVERYTHING that would influence or affect the soul’s journey to our true selves, or as some say to God. So that includes topics like: how to keep the body healthy (Ayurveda), lifestyle guidelines (yamas and niyamas), rituals to follow when you have your menstrual cycle, what kind of ceremony to do if certain planets affect your astrological sign in a negative way (Vedic Astrology), how to best build a house so that all the subtle energy fields can work together in harmony (Vastu), what to do before and after an eclipse…you name it and there is probably some ancient text that can tell you the most beneficial way to do it or deal with it.

Ancient Practices

The Vedas explain that the energy field created during an eclipse is not the most positive for worldly actions, however it’s an amazing time for immersing yourself into your spiritual practices. Unlike most westerners that try so hard to catch a glimpse of this natural phenomenon, basking in the rays of the eclipse, traditional yogi’s do quite the opposite.

Since the rays are so negatively charged during the eclipses, if the eclipse is visible where they are, yogis make every effort to stay indoors so that they are not exposed to the rays. In addition, they generally do not talk or eat, but instead immerse themselves in yogic practices like mediation, japa or kirtan. And then once the eclipse is over, they shower to wash themselves of that energy completely. And prior to the eclipse, they throw away leftovers because it’s said that cooked foods can absorb that energy too. Talk about amazingly detailed information.

With the guidance of our teacher (guru), Shri Anandi Ma, my family and I observe these teachings as much as possible. So this August 21, my fridge will be cleaned out of all leftovers and I’ll probably take the afternoon off to immerse myself in some meditation, spiritual reading and other uplifting practices.

Here’s to a happy month of big endings and new beginnings!

Take care,
Kajal

 

 

Cherry Tomatoes 3 Different Ways

Cherry Tomatoes 3 Different Ways

For those of you that follow me on social media, you might have seen that the cherry tomatoes we planted back in May have exploded :)! The little seedlings we started from scratch are now 6-7 feet tall and fully loaded.

On Instagram and Facebook, I asked friends and family for ideas on how to best use them and these were my top three favorite ways:

Cherry Tomatoes 3 Different Ways

1. Roasted Cherry Tomato Marinara | from Dimple Dhabalia

Toss in a dry pan on medium and cook until they pop. Once popping, add in olive oil, shallots and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until soft and then add in white wine (or water) to de-glaze  the pan. Add dried fennel, basil and oregano, and some salt and pepper to taste. Let it simmer for a few minutes until it thickens. At the end add in just a little pat of butter for a velvety finish. Toss with your favorite pasta (gnocchi is great) and top with Parmesan and fresh parsley.

I’ve had the good fortune to have enjoyed this sauce in person at my sister’s house. The simplicity of ingredients really captures the freshness of the tomatoes. I made a version of this last weekend and served it on top of Zucchini Noodles…which was also so delicious!

2. Deconstructed Caprese | from Dimple Dhabalia

Another favorite is a deconstructed caprese- create a base of arugula and add in halved cherry tomatoes and torn up chunks of mozzarella and fresh basil. Make a dressing with 1 part balsamic vinegar, 3 parts extra virgin olive oil, one small minced shallot, salt and pepper. Dress the salad and toss everything together and serve.

I haven’t had a chance to make this one yet, but I have a newly picked batch of tomatoes and fresh basil waiting to be constructed into this deconstructed caprices :)! Super excited about trying this one…it has summer written all over it!

3. Fresh from the Garden | from Chris McLeod

Fresh from the garden and straight into your mouth.

By far one of my favorite ways to enjoy these little sweeties…freshly picked, warmed by the sun…they literally melt in your mouth!

If you have another way you enjoy these little guys, please leave a comment below…I’d love to hear from you! And if you’d like to follow us via social media, you can find us on Instagram and Facebook!

Hope you’re having a wonderful summer!
Lots of love,

Kajal

 

 

Pause. Reflect. Breath.

Pause. Reflect. Breath.

Freedom Seeker

How’s your summer going? Are you getting in any good reading?

I’m just finishing up a lovely book by Beth Kempton called Freedom Seeker. It’s chalk full of inspiration, powerful exercises and reminders on how to live fully, worry less and do what you love….perfect summer reading to get ready for a busy fall :).

One of my favorite passages from this book is on taking time daily for “Headspace + Heartspace”. Beth writes that Headspace + Heartspace is about finding “quiet opportunities to allow your head and heart to re-attune to one another, and restore your inner calm”. She goes on to write,

“We lead such busy lives and most of us are constantly surrounded by noise–in our minds, in our ears, on our phones, in the world around us. This constant chatter hampers our internal signals about what we want and need, even what we love. It makes us want to shut down, instead of open up.

 

We are distracted at every turn. Our brains are forced to work overtime to process all the inputs. Focusing is a challenge. Our constant pursuit of more is pushing us to our limits, and the pressure is continually flooding our bodies with adrenalin, cortisol and other stress-related hormones, drawing vital resources away from our immune system and capacity to heal. No wonder so many of us are susceptible to illness, visually aging and exhausted all the time.

 

Finding Headspace + Heartspace gives your brain and heart a chance to rest quietly and open gently, so that the well of inspiration can be refilled.”

Finding that quiet space is different for everyone. For me it’s definitely my yoga and meditation practice. It’s such an integral part of my day that without, I feel so unfocused and scattered. It’s like my soul hasn’t had its coffee yet :).

So, what fills that Headspace + Heartspace for you? Leave a comment below!

Lots of love,

Kajal

 

Turmeric: new kid on the block or ancient as the hills?

Turmeric: new kid on the block or ancient as the hills?

Ancient as the Hills, of course :)!

In June I had the fun fortune to accompany one of my design clients to the New York Summer Fancy Food Show; a trade show that has been bringing new and seasoned food entrepreneurs/companies together with buyers and distributors to “share new consumer trends and tastes of tomorrow for over  60 years”.

Fancy Food Show Adventures

To give you an idea why, when you first arrive and register, you’re given a grab bag, so that as you go from booth to booth trying new products and hearing about a company’s story and product lines, you have a place to put the ton of samples you’re given to take home. Luckily the sweet, salty and everything in between is sprinkled throughout the show….so you don’t really overdose on sugar like on Halloween….but you definitely get to a point where you’re sampled out.

From those shows in the late 1980’s- early 1990’s, I remember meeting Ben & Jerry before they were big-time BEN & JERRY’S—Chunky Monkey was all the rage at one of those shows. I also remember when Baboli’s was introducing for the first time ever, shelf-stable, ready-made pizza crusts + sauce…what an amazing invention. And I clearly remember when the Gardetto Family’s snack mix was the new kid on the block and was seen as innovative and new.

It’s really amazing to see how company’s evolve overtime…so many start from humble beginnings and as they grow and hit shelves in the mainstream market, new customers just see them as a new brand they can come to rely on being there week after week, not always realizing the passion, drive and dedication it took to get those brands actually on those shelves.

Friends in 2018, get ready for Turmeric…everything!

This year the rage was Turmeric everything :). This ancient herb that’s literally as old as the hills and has been used in Asia for thousands of years, is now the new kid on the block in mainstream, western food industry. There was turmeric tea, turmeric kombucha, turmeric fizzes, golden lattes, turmeric popcorn, turmeric lentil chips, turmeric potato chips…let’s just say, turmeric is going to be everywhere in 2018. I love that this wonder herb is finally being given it’s long overdue recognition it deserves. I wrote a blog post back in 2012 on the amazing benefits of it…you can read about here if you’d like: Turmeric: a wonder herb.

My favorite turmeric based product was Rishi Tea’s new Craft Brews. They have currently have two flavors: Runner’s High and Sparkling Turmeric. The Sparkling Turmeric was my favorite!!! This carbonated tea consists of turmeric, saffron, lemongrass and kaffir lime with no added sugar. It was DELICIOUS! There goal is to reach their traditional tea drinkers at places like gyms, restaurants and cafes so that can sell this on tap, by the glassful. It’s such great nonalcoholic alternative to traditional happy hour beverages.

And the other ongoing trend that I noticed was that the gluten-free market is only getting stronger. As you can guess, I was happy to see the variety and innovation in this area, since for so many of us, being gluten-free is not a diet fad, but truly an allergy. I love that my favorite vegan ice cream brand, Coconut Bliss is coming out with gluten-free, vegan ice cream sandwiches 🙂 —how awesome is that!

Food Packaging

And although I’m a natural foods foodie at heart :), I was attending from the perspective of a graphic designer. I loved seeing all the bold colors, great imagery and creative ways company’s are now using real estate on their packaging to share their story. Because at the end of the day, whether you’re packaging up food, a service or a candle….the packaging is the first point of contact for the consumer/client. And considering how overcrowded various market places can feel these days…you only have so many seconds to make your first impressions count.

There are so many amazingly creative, courageous and innovative food entrepreneurs out there doing some amazing stuff. My hat goes off to them all! Here’s to delicious food, beautiful design and fun adventures!

Lots of love,
Kajal

p.s. I still take on a handful of design clients a quarter, if you or someone you know needs some work, please feel free to reach out and get a quote!

 

Being Human: making mistakes and loving yourself through it.

Being Human: making mistakes and loving yourself through it.

Indian Cow, To be fearless, yogini

Being Human

Isn’t it crazy to think of the emotional roller coaster we can put ourselves through when something we are working on doesn’t go as expected? Whether it’s due to an unintentional blunder, variables outside our control or maybe just a plain old mistake on our end–do you love yourself and move on or out of fear do you move into self-attack mode?

Well friends, some food for thought— How we meet ourselves when we make mistakes not only feeds our self-esteem but also empowers those around us to potentially do the same. 

Making Mistakes

Over the years, I’ve learned that we are our harshest critics, and can hold an emotional grudge against ourselves longer than any rival. When I say an emotional grudge, I mean we have the ability to beat ourselves over the head with things like, “what was I thinking”, “how could I let that happen”, “I knew I couldn’t do it”, “I should have tried harder”.  If left unattended…these thoughts can get ugly.

Flipping the Script

So in recent years I’ve been proactively trying to flip the script.

What would you say to a co-worker who’s upset because a presentation didn’t go as planned at work, a friend who’s embarrassed  because of a meal she prepared was a flop or to an aunt who’s disheartened because the scale is not moving in the direction that she hoped it would be moving in?

Would you be judge-y?

Would you be compassionate?

Would you help them find the silver lining?

Loving Ourselves

So, why not do all of that + more for ourselves?

I’m not sure where our inner harsh critic comes from, but I’m beginning to think it’s a self-defense mechanism–maybe if we put ourselves down before anyone else does, it’ll be easier to take if someone says something, holds it against us or judges us for it. Basically, out of fear, we’ll poke a hole in our self-esteem before someone else does.

Unfortunately, the holes we poke are usually much deeper and much more often…therefore making us that much more vulnerable when someone does take a jab at us.

Making a mistake and taking responsibility for it not only takes a lot of humility and courage, but I think is more effective when we can do it with self-love…because after all, these incidents are just a reminder that we are all human.

So friends, instead of meeting ourselves with criticism, judgement and negativity in situations that can already be hard, wouldn’t it be great if we each made a conscious choice to meet ourselves, wherever we are— with love, compassion and kindness like we would a friend, a sister or co-worker. That way, we can grow from these experiences; and as our self-esteem, self-acceptance and self-love become stronger, we empower those around us to do the same.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so leave a comment below!

Lots of love,
Kajal

Decadent Chocolate Chia Pudding

Decadent Chocolate Chia Pudding

Guilt-free Indulging

Chia pudding is such an delicious, comforting and healthy option for satisfying an eternal sweet tooth, like the one my husband and I seem to have these days :).

I make a batch of these decadent little jars of yumminess every few weeks…for a little guilt-free indulging. My favorite thus far has been a decadent chocolate version that I top with a few almond slivers, a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips and a handful of berries :)—raspberries are my favorite.

Fast, Easy & Fun!

As usual, the best part is that it’s easy, fast and fun to make— a great snack or dessert to make with kids! I use six, half pint (8 oz) mason jars that I reuse every week for grab and go treats like this one. I actually only fill the jars half way with the chia pudding filling, then cover and refrigerate, so that when I’m ready to serve, there’s room to add the variety of  goodies on top.

These jars are also great if you’re throwing a dinner party or want to bring something refreshing and easy to transport to a picnic. Either way, once you add the toppings and serve them to your guests, these little guys will definitely have your friends and family raving about how delicious and beautiful they look :)!

I Want to See & Hear …

I’d love to SEE and HEAR how this recipe turns out for you! If you’re on instagram or Facebook and take pics of your creation, tag Wholesome Soul in your post! Or, leave me a comment below!

Lots of love,
Kajal

DECADENT CHOCOLATE CHIA PUDDING

Ingredients

  • 3 cups almond milk
  • 6 tbsp maple syrup
  • 10 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter (oil)
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 6 half pint (8 oz) mason jars

Optional Garnishes:

  • almond slivers
  • mini chocolate chips
  • berries/ fruit of your choice

Directions

  • Place all ingredients, EXCEPT for chia seeds into blender (I use a Vitamix) and blend until smooth
  • Then using a spoon, stir in chai seeds until thoroughly mixed
  • Pour 4 oz into each jar (if you’re using half pint mason jars, that’s half way full)
  • Place lids on and refrigerate for at least 6 hours
  • Then, when ready to serve, garnish with 1 tbsp almond slivers, 1 tsp mini chocolate chips and 1/3-1/2 cup fresh fruit

ENJOY! 

Notes

Vegan: Completely vegan :)!
Gluten Free: Completely gluten free :)!
Yogic Cooking Notes: Ideally, it’s not great to eat cold foods, so take out of fridge 20 mins before so that pudding can be eaten at room temperature. 

 

 

Farmer’s Market fare

Farmer’s Market fare

It’s that time of year, Farmer’s Market’s around the country are opening up for the season! This weekend we’ll be visiting our local market in Old Town Alexandria. I LOVE seeing row after row of fresh fruits and veggies all lined up…these visits always get the wheels in my mind turning and my taste buds geared for a delicious meal.

What I also love about Farmer’s Markets is how it brings everyone out–the young, the old and all those in between. It’s such a great, low-key family affair.

This weekend I hope I can find some fresh Anaheim Chillies and sweet strawberries. We’re going to have a little fiesta and I would love to make homemade, eggless Chile Rellenos, rice, beans with all the sides…guac, pico, sour cream and salad. And then top it off with my homemade, Easy-Peezy Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream.

Do you have a farmer’s market that you go to? What’s your favorite thing to enjoy?

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!
Lots of love,

Kajal

 

Change Makers + National Small Business Week

Change Makers + National Small Business Week

Change Makers

This week I had the honor to be invited by Etsy to a Small Business Roundtable hosted by the National Democratic Caucus on Capital Hill—it was awesome. The event was about 2 hours and there were people from all over the country. It was amazing to hear from such a wide variety of entrepreneurs and the issues that they are facing since there were big-small businesses, traditional small businesses and then micro-businesses, like myself.

There were a host of issues brought up like: sales taxes, tax breaks, international shipping regulations, access to more relevant business resources and how to tap into funding. The committee was really great about engaging with the entire group and making it clear that our voices matter.

Julie Stitzel, the Etsy lobbyist was fantastic to work with and I was honored to have the opportunity to represent the 1.6 million Etsy sellers. Starting your own business whether on the side or full-time take a lot of courage, enthusiasm, patience and hard work. I’m really grateful I got the chance be a part of these discussions…because very often, you can feel like your voice doesn’t matter. But in reality, I’m learning with a lot of patience and perseverence, we all have the ability to be Change Makers….one voice at a time.

Planting our future meals

Planting our future meals

 Envisioning our feasts

I love this time of year; when all the envisioning we did in the winter, of the goodness we want to feast on during the summer months, goes into motion :). For the past few years, at the beginning of spring, the hubs and I have been starting our own seeds for our little garden patch. I absolutely love watching them go from seeds in dirt, to little seedlings peeking through, to full on shoots ready to be picked up for a new season in the big leagues–outside!

Deciding every year what to plant is so hard…since we only have so much room….and time :). Tomatoes, squash, greens, peppers, herbs, berries…yum! These categories are just the tip of the iceberg; picking out varieties from there is a whole other ball game! For instance, the Tomato family is quite big; it’s not just one Mr. & Mrs. Tomato…it’s Cherry, German Johnson, Golden Jubilee, Sunsugar, Green Zebra, Hillbilly, Cherokee, San Marzano….and the list goes on and on…and on. I’m learning that that’s the beauty of starting from seed….the sky’s really the limit!

Getting our hands dirty

Growing up I was never the gardening type…the idea of getting my hands dirty was not too high on my priority list. But then I married a boy who loves playing in dirt and has an amazing green thumb. The first year we were married I wasn’t an eager beaver to get out there but over the years I’ve grown to love the process–even the weeding :). There is something magical about gardening, like painting; weeding is like prepping your blank canvas, picking out seeds is like picking out your colors and then planting your garden is like slowly adding color to your canvas…

The difference is, a garden is a creative collaboration with nature that has so many moving parts outside of our control…sometimes seeds don’t take, some weeks are super dry and some are super wet, and then there are hailstorms or freak frosts that come early or late in the season. But, for the most part in my experience, the sun and the rain and all the other elements seem to work in harmony so that we end up with quite a feast.

Waiting for their arrival

We just planted our babies this past weekend…and now the waiting game begins :). Can’t wait to share pics of our bounty + some new recipes this summer :)! Do you have a veggie or herb garden? What did you plant this year? Leave a comment below…would love to hear what fresh delights you will be enjoying this summer.

Lots of fresh, green love to you,

Kajal

 

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