Sweet Summer Keylime Pudding

I spent a much-needed long July 4th weekend in Shelter Island with beautiful views, beautiful food and beautiful friends. On Saturday night we made this incredibly easy, incredibly refreshing and incredibly delicious keylime pudding, which totally blew our minds. Courtesy of The Blender Girl, I HIGHLY recommend you add this to your summer repertoire. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

1/3 cup (80ml) honey or agave
1/2 cup (120ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup (120ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ripe avocados, pitted and peeled (no bruising or discoloration)
2 cups (285g) chopped bananas (about 2 bananas)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

Prepration

Mix all ingredients in a blender, puree for 1-2 minutes until smooth, spoon into ramequins, refrigerate for 3 hours, serve and prepare to be amazed!

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The Lowdown on Craniosacral Therapy: Q&A with Erin Oglesby

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of receiving my first-ever craniosacral therapy treatment. I went in not really knowing what to expect, what it was all about, or how it would make me feel. And I left delightfully relaxed, at ease, and totally blissed out. I also noticed a very sweet and welcome relief to the pesky hamstring injury I’ve had for over a year. I loved my session so much that I asked my amazing practitioner, Erin Oglesby, if she’d be willing to do a little Q&A so that you all can learn more about it too!  

She kindly agreed, and is generously offering YOU a 20% savings on a one-hour session with her. Just mention my name when you book with Erin. You can get a hold of her here: erin@erinoglesby.com. Thanks, Erin!

So, here’s the lowdown from Erin…

Thanks for taking the time to chat, Erin! Craniosacral Therapy is probably new to a lot of people, so let’s start with the basics. What is Craniosacral Therapy?

 Sure! Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle form of healing that involves light touch. It’s called “Craniosacral” because the work is centered around performing delicate manipulations on the bones of the head or “cranium” and lower spine or “sacrum”. I use the craniosacral rhythm as a guide to let me know where in the body the client is holding on to tension or trauma that needs to be released. Because that tension or trauma can be physical or emotional, I like to describe Craniosacral Therapy as a combination of energy work and body work.

 You mentioned a craniosacral rhythm. Can you explain more about that?

It’s the rhythm that the cerebrospinal fluid makes when it runs up and down the spine. Amazingly, this rhythm can be felt from any point in the body. So, when I’m working with my clients, I use the craniosacral rhythm to discover where there might be physical or energetic blockages in the body. If, for example, I can’t sense the rhythm somewhere, I know there’s a related blockage that needs to be released.

Another amazing and really interesting thing about this practice is that, as a practitioner, I can actually stop the rhythm by preventing it from flowing in or out of a certain area of the body. When the rhythm stops, deep release can occur. The nervous system relaxes, tension releases, and then when the rhythm starts to flow again, it’s often in a more balanced and harmonized way.

What can someone expect during their first session?

Well, first things first, you can expect to be lying fully clothed on a massage table, or something of that nature. You’ll be very comfortable and will likely lie on your back for most, if not the entire session. You’ll want to remove jewelry beforehand and I would recommend wearing loose and comfortable clothes.

Expect light touch and a deep sense of relaxation. It’s important to be aware that tension—emotional or physical—could arise, depending on what comes up for you and what is being released. This is all part of the process, but feel free to keep an open dialogue with your practitioner so that they can guide you and help you facilitate that release. Some people are so relaxed that they just drift off to sleep. Others like to engage with the practice a little bit more and notice different things that are coming up or going on for them, ask questions, etc. Really, this is a very personal experience, and chances are it will be different in every session.

My best piece of advice is to find a practitioner that you trust, and to go into the session with an open mind. From there, let the healing take over and do the work for you.

That’s great advice. Who can benefit from this kind of treatment?

Craniosacral Therapy can be beneficial for a so many people for so many different reasons. Traditionally it has been used to help people who suffer from headaches, migraines, TMJ, chronic pain, back pain, head, neck and shoulder tension.  But it has also been highly effective as part of a treatment plan for things like fibromyalgia, sleep disorders, arthritis and inflammation, anxiety, depression, trauma, PTSD, and can be very helpful during pregnancy, postpartum, and even for infants. It can also be beneficial for children with ADHD, autistism and behavioural and speech issues.

And, generally speaking, it offers a great sense of overall wellbeing, so it’s perfect for anyone who needs to create more space and ease in their body and their mind. For some people it can also be a spiritual and deep meditative experience. And because it’s such a gentle healing modality, it’s accessible to everyone including newborns, the elderly, chronic pain sufferers, those healing from trauma, surgery or any other delicate condition.

And how can people expect to feel after the session?

The post-session effects vary from person to person and session to session, but generally you can expect to feel very relaxed, maybe a little spacey, and you may want or need a little time for reflection. I usually recommend scheduling your session at a time when you won’t need to be rushing off to another appointment or meeting so that you can fully enjoy the relaxed and contemplative effects. Like many other healing modalities, the real results, though, come over time, so after a series of regular appointments people can expect a greater sense of overall and sustained ease, calmness and wellbeing, as well as relief from the many conditions we talked about earlier.

Thanks for your time, Erin! How can we learn more about you and your services?

My pleasure! I’m based in New York City and I practice in Chelsea and in Park Slope. Check out my website for more information, or email me at erin@erinoglesby.com. And I'd love to offer your readers a 20% discount on their first session. Just tell them to mention Julie Mae Weber when they book!

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Hard-to-Beet Summer Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Flipping through the pages of Bon Appetit Mag the other week, the gorgeous, vibrant photo of this dish literally jumped off the page at me. I earmarked the page, knowing I'd have to give it a try sometime soon and last weekend our first rooftop BBQ of the season gave me the perfect opportunity. The two-step cooking process makes this a little more time-intensive than your average summer salad, but I guarantee it's well worth the effort. Not only is it supremely delicious and healthy, but it's a real stunner that is sure to provide some eye candy to your spread. The recipe calls for yogurt, which I'm sure would be very tasty, but I had some dairy-free friends in the bunch, so I opted out. I also made this ahead of time and served it cold. 

Recipe via Bon Appetit

Ingredients

2 pounds mixed small or medium beets (such as Chioggia, red, and/or golden), scrubbed
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup (lightly packed) fresh mint leaves, plus more
2 tablespoons torn fresh dill, plus more
Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°. Divide beets between 2 large sheets of foil. Drizzle beets on each sheet with ½ Tbsp. oil; season with kosher salt and pepper and wrap up foil around beets. Roast on a rimmed baking sheet until tender, 40–50 minutes. Let cool slightly, then, using a paper towel, rub skins from beets (they should slip off easily). Crush beets with the bottom of a small bowl (it’s alright if they fall apart).

Meanwhile, whisk lemon zest, lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl; set vinaigrette aside.

Heat 3 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beets, season with kosher salt and pepper, and cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to bowl with vinaigrette, add ¼ cup mint and 2 Tbsp. dill, and toss to coat.

Top with more herbs, and seasoned with pepper and sea salt.

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Love. Passion. Respect. Honesty.

Hello friends! You may notice that I'm shaking things up a little bit over here. Less than a year ago I launched The Samana Project with a heartfelt desire to help others harness their personal power and transform their lives through yoga and healthier lifestyle choices. The work that I do with my yoga and coaching clients is deep, personal and transformational. Developing close relationships with them and with my community is an important part of that work and I wanted this site, which is the online portal to all of that, to reflect that.

So while the principles of The Samana Project remain at the heart of what I do, I'm weaving more of myself into my work and my online presence. Starting with a brand new URL and new logo in my own name, Julie Mae Weber.

I've always liked my name. Not for the name itself as much as what—or rather, who— it represents. I'm named after my grandmothers, Julia Cowley and Lillian Mae Weber. Both strong, beautiful, loving, wise, warm and inspiring women that I was lucky enough to grow up knowing and loving. I've been shaped so profoundly by both of them and feel it an incredible honor to carry their names. Memories of them, advice they've given me, qualities of theirs that I notice in myself, qualities of theirs that I wish I had and strive to emulate, weave through me so intricately that I truly can't imagine who I would be without their influence and presence in my life. 

So, it's with much pride that I step into this new phase of my business. I've made a few tweaks here and there to the website, so feel free to stay awhile explore. But some things won't ever change. What I do, what I put out into the world and how I communicate it to you will always come from a place of love, passion, respect and honesty. Qualities I was taught by two very smart ladies never to compromise on.

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DIY Cashew Milk

I've been in the non-dairy camp for a little while now and I'm a big advocate for making the shift to dairy alternatives like almond, flax or soy milk. Nut milks are my favourite and there are so many brands to choose from at my local Whole Foods, but I still cringe a little bit every time I buy a carton, knowing that they contain preservatives and a handful of ingredients that I can't pronounce.

I've been wanting to make my own nut milk for a while but found myself intimidated by the seemingly overwhelming process. But, for whatever reason, I decided that yesterday was the day, so I bought a big bag of cashews, ready to take on this arduous task. After soaking the nuts, I rolled up my sleeves, only to roll them back down five minutes later, delighted with my pitcher-full of creamy, delicious milk. Seriously, folks. Five minutes! Here's how, thanks to a great recipe from Cookie + Kate.

Ingredients

1 cup raw cashews
4 cups water (divided)
1-2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
dash of sea salt
pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Preparation

Soak cashews in water for at least four hours in the fridge. Drain the cashews and rinse until the water runs clear. Blend cashews with two cups of water until completely pulverized. Add the remaining 2 cups of water and the rest of the ingredients and blend.

If your blender doesn't break down the cashews completely (although I have a very average blender and it worked perfectly), strain the milk through a small mesh strainer or cheese cloth. Store in a covered container in the fridge for 3-4 days. 

Adored! Not Ignored

I was talking with one of my dearest friends the other day and she shared her brilliant new mantra with me. Adored! Not ignored. I love it. She’s looking for a partner as amazing is she is and she is frustrated with men who seem interested, then drop off the face of the earth, only to reappear like it’s no big deal. She knows she deserves to be adored, not ignored, and she won’t accept anything less.

This got me thinking about adoring and ignoring in general. It’s a concept that can be applied to so many different aspects of our lives and relationships. Here are just few simple shifts that came to my mind when I thought about how I could adore more and ignore less. Do you have more ideas? Tell me in the comments below!

Adore yourself first

Love starts from within, so before you can adore other things or other people in your life, you’ve got to adore yourself. It’s so much easier said than done. Life pulls us in a million different directions and taking care of ourselves is often the last item on our to do list – the one we never get to. 

What does adoring yourself more mean to you? Maybe it means getting up half an hour earlier so you can meditate or fit in a workout. Or blocking off your Sunday evening for a hot bath and a good book. Maybe it means putting the laundry off to another night so that you can get an extra hour of sleep. Or it could be turning down a social invitation in favor of your couch and that movie you've been dying to watch. Stop ignoring your needs and desires and, in whatever small way you can, adore yourself more.

Lift your gaze

For all the ease, fun and convenience that the technology and gadgets we have these days bring, at times they can also feel like a ball and chain. The instant gratification of a new message or a refreshed Facebook feed can become a little incessant. So much so that we often go about our lives with our eyes cast downward onto our phones, ignoring the sights and sounds of the world around us, or worse, diverting our gaze and attention away from a friend during an important conversation, or a loved one at the dinner table.

So, in this case, maybe making a resolve to ignore more is the best approach. Ignore the urge to read that text, send that email, or refresh that page until it’s the right time and place. And as a result, with your eyes open and engaged, you’ll witness more miracles – like the buds of spring that are about to blossom, or that amazing moment when you lock eyes with someone you love and you know they can feel just how much they are adored.

#GetTHANKFUL

Being grateful for all of our blessings is such a simple practice and it’s actually a proven tool for increasing happiness, abundance and joy (I highly recommend reading The Giflts of Imperfection by Brené Brown). And yet, it’s so easy to ignore all of the things that are going well in our lives, and focus our time, energy and attention on what doesn’t seem to be quite perfect, or going exactly as we had planned. I often find myself falling into this nasty trap. So, for all for all of the wonderful things in your life, make an effort, make a commitment to adore them more.

Keeping track of all the things you are grateful for in a daily journal is a wonderful way to start making a gratitude shift. And if you want to dive headfirst into this life-changing practice, my brilliant and soulful friend Millana Snow of SERENE Social is leading a 26-day #getTHANKFUL challenge, which kicks off this Sunday April 13th. If you want to adore more of the good things in your life, join me!

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Yoga for Letting.Go.

"We attain freedom as we let go of whatever does not reflect our magnificence. A bird cannot fly high or far with a stone tied to its back. But release the impediment, and we are free to soar to unprecedented heights." ~ Alan Cohen

Happy spring! It may not feel like it outside, but hopefully Mother Nature gets the memo soon, that spring has officially sprung. Last time I wrote it was to share my thoughts on letting go, which was a theme that wove its way throughout our recent health and yoga retreat in Costa Rica, Purify and Restore.

Letting go is a very necessary and powerful part of transformation. And since spring is all about transformation—cleansing, rebirth, renewal, growth and change—I wanted to stick on the subject a little longer and offer up a few more tools to help with the process. 

Yoga is a particularly wonderful tool for letting go. For giving yourself permission to release, both mentally and physically, whatever you don't need. Whatever is no longer serving you. We carry so much around with us every day. Tension, stress, anxiety, worry, old relationships, new relationships. All of that gets stored in our bodies and minds, taking up space that otherwise could be put to better use. Or simply left free and clear, for energy and breath and life to flow more freely within you.

Whatever you're letting go of this spring, whatever clutter you're clearing, here are a few yoga poses that will help you loosen your grip.

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Prasarita Padottanasana
(Wide-legged Forward Fold)

Forward folds are a great way to release and let go. They stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, telling the body that it's safe to relax. And from a relaxed state, letting go comes much easier.

Step your feet wide apart and parallel to one another. Bring your hands to your hips and on your exhale, begin to hinge at the hips and tip your torso forward, maintaining a long, clear spine or flat back as you come halfway down, bringing your body parallel with the floor. Take the fingertips to the floor or blocks and pause here as you activate the inner thighs and take the weight forward into the balls of the feet. Take a few breaths and then again on an exhale, begin to bend the elbows and release the torso down into the full forward fold. Drop the head, relax the neck. Let go. Breathe.

To release out of the pose, keep the fingertips on the floor and on an inhalation, bring the torso up halfway. Bring the hands to the hips and with a long spine, return to an upright position. 

For more on this pose and its benefits, click here.

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Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon)

We store a lot of emotion and tension in our hips, so hip openers like pigeon are a wonderful way to release. This pose can be intense and uncomfortable, but just like anything, if you allow yourself to sit with that discomfort and soften into it using the breath, the sweet release will come eventually.

From downward facing dog, place the right knee behind the right wrist and lay the right shin down onto the mat. Untuck the left toes and then slide the left leg all the way back behind you. Be sure the left leg extends directly from the hip, and that the foot is in line with the leg. Square your hips in front of you and use a prop like a block or a blanket to prop up your right hip if that feels more comfortable. Release onto your forearms and drop your head onto the mat or a block. Extend your arms all the way out in front of you. Breathe deeply, in and out through the nose.

When you are ready to release, walk your fingertips back up towards the hips, tuck your back toes and make your way back to downward dog. Repeat on the left.

Fore more on pigeon, benefits and variations of the pose, click here.

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