For many years visiting Iceland was one of my dreams and this spring it should finally come to reality- I, my husband and our two friends are going to two-week long trip to Iceland. It will be one week of hiking through the most beautiful hiking trail and one week going with a car around Iceland, visiting waterfalls and camping (and for me personally- taking tons of pictures and searching for elves- I’m sure that if they are to be found somewhere- it’s in Iceland ;) ). We’re leaving just in the middle of May, so it might seem as a long time from now, but we understand it will be physically demanding trip with unpredictable Icelandic weather, pretty cold temperatures and all the physical activities, so we already started with some preparations. One of the things we constantly think about is food- most of our trip will be in the wilderness and no shops will be nearby, so we’re planning to take some food with us. With limited space and weight in our backpacks we’re searching for foods that are high in calories, very nutritious, easy to transport or prepare while camping and tasty. So lately we’re experimenting with sprouted seeds & dry fruit bars. Why sprouted? All nuts & seeds are very nutritionally dense and satiating foods but they contain inhibitor enzymes to protect them from sprouting which makes them much more difficult to digest. Soaking and sprouting deactivates those inhibitor enzymes and activates beneficial enzymes in them and allow our bodies to absorb nutrients from nuts and seeds much better. It may sound complicated at first, but all you need to know is that it’s always a good idea to soak or sprout your nuts and seeds :) These days we’re sprouting sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and buckwheats in big quantities, then drying them in dehydrator (you can use oven at low temperature for this, too) and experimenting in making nutritious and tasty bars. Actually, few years ago my husband and I were even contemplating a business idea- as a raw buckwheat addicts, we were wondering how is it possible that in Lithuania nobody makes healthy sprouted buckwheat bars. Dried sprouted buckwheat are quite neutral in taste, but very light and crunchy, very nutritious, naturally gluten-free and can make a perfect base for healthy energy bars. We ditched the business idea later, but I’m very happy that somebody finally made it a reality. I was really positively surprised when I found out about Lithuanian sprouted buckwheat bars called “Tundra” (they even sell sprouted dehydrated raw buckwheat, too if you want to avoid all the hassle of making them at home from scratch!). Currently, they come in two tastes- cinnamon and cocoa and both taste really great and what I love the most is that the ingredient list is really short and all of them are real, healthy food. No added sugar, no preservatives etc.
I think they will be a great addition to our menu in Iceland, but it can easily be used as a quick and healthy snack when you’re after gym, at work or when your kids ask for something sweet.
I also wanted to share with you a short & inspiring video I found some time ago- the concept really resonates with me :)
And lastly- some images from our “micro adventures” and preparation for Iceland- long bike ride by the lake Starnberg- beautiful nature and small villages & plenty of physical exercises!
What are your favorite snacks on the go? And what will be your next micro adventure? :)
With love and inspiration,
I know most people try to plan their new year and do their resolutions before the actual start of New Year, but I always do them in the beginning of January :) Of course I do start thinking when the end of the year approaches, but I find that holiday season is always too hectic, too full of things to do, people to visit and often includes a fair amount of travel (especially when you’re an expat). And my experience is that if you’re serious with your goals then you will need quality time to reflect, analyze and plan. You’ll need space and time where you could be uninterrupted and allow yourself to not only to think, but also to feel what is it that you want in life next.
As the holidays are ended hopefully things are calmer now (and the pressure of suddenly becoming perfect from 1st of January is gone, too) and I invite you to join me on this session- to peek into your dreams, allow yourself to think big and create some realistic steps to achieve what you want.
*A block of time where you’ll be uninterrupted (or you can do this with your partner or friend, that’s fine, too as long as you’re both focused on the process);
*Notebook/your journal & pen + colorful pencil/markers if you like to highlight/organize things;
*No phone/social media notifications etc.- though some ambient music could be useful;
We’ll start with last year’s review to see what have happened and to decide which things should change, then we will move to the goal setting for the following year. Read the questions and allow yourself to think about it with an open mind & heart and most important- be honest with yourself. In the end it’s your life and you should be fully happy with it.
Last year’s review & lessons:
1) What worked really well this year? Why? What made you feel alive, filled with joy, enthusiasm and inspiration? How can you add more of this into your life? Can you come up with at least 20 ways to add more joy/health/happiness to your life? What would REALLY make a difference in your life? Why?
Don’t think about limitations (lack of money, time etc.) at this phase, just think what would really positively impact your life. Things you want to add to your life can be big or small, they just have to be meaningful for you. Both things like having your nails done & wearing organic perfumes daily to make you feel feminine & beautiful and starting to volunteer at local shelter to feel connected & meaningful are perfectly fine, choose what YOU need at this moment in life.
2) What were the things that didn’t work well this year? That felt draining, stuck, stressful, forced? What should you do differently to avoid repeating these mistakes?
Where did you invest time with no/poor results?
Be willing to let go of things, even if it’s scary. Letting go makes space for new & better things in your life. We rarely think of that, but life is short, so always aim for what lights you up. Most of the “shoulds” we create ourselves and we can change them.
New year planning:
For the first step, let’s get the big picture. Let’s relax and let our imagination go wild and see what feels right & what would really excite you:
Imagine it’s the end of 2016. In one year, where do you want to be? What matters to you? Imagine that you thought really big this year and everything went according to your wishes- where would you be in one year? WHO would you be? Allow yourself to think and dream without limitations, I can tell you that since I started doing this few years ago most of the things came true, though they seemed wildly unbelievable in the beginning :)
Now when we have a bigger vision let’s move to more details. These questions were designed to get you more clarity in various areas of your life:
How do I want to improve? What books to read, courses to take, seminars/retreats to attend? What skills to gain? What mentors/coaches to hire? What habits to change/add?
What do I want to achieve in my career? How do I want to help & impact people? How much do I want to earn- monthly, yearly? Where do I want my income to come from (what type of work and clients)? What would I consider a “success” (not by society norms, but what would make YOU happy/proud/excited)?
How do I want to spend my freetime? What places to visit, things to see and experience? With whom I want to spend my time and how?
What are my health & wellbeing goals? What habits do I want to quit or add? What would make the biggest impact? What would feel right? What do you know deep there that you deserve, but don’t commit to?
How do I want my relationships to be? With my partner/family/friends? How do I want to feel & make others feel? Who is really important to me? How can I show them this?
Who can I help? How can I give? My time/resources/love/skills? What change do I want to see in the world and what can I personally do to achieve it?
Now go again through each category and ask this– what should I do to achieve this- daily, weekly, monthly? If that’s helpful, put specific things on the calendar (use Google calendar if you don’t have real one) Don’t underestimate small, incremental steps- this is what brings you closer to your goals, day by day. And just start doing them- order or take form the library the book you want to read next month, plan the gathering with friends you want to see but haven’t seen for months, put the blocks of time in your calendar for new habit you want to take. Or make a donation of old clothes to those who need it, or book a ticket to the conference you want to attend- you get the point :)…
I know it’s a pretty big exercise- if you feel it’s too overwhelming you can do it in parts- last year review, big vision and then different areas of live- this is how I personally did it, but then again I’m just really used to write A LOT and analyze all things in my life on paper, so that would be a huge exercise for me to finish in one go. The whole thing of dreaming & planning your life can feel strange at the beginning, but from my experience it brings so much growth, clarity and new possibilities to your life. Suddenly you’re not just blindly doing anything, trying to keep up with urgent (but not necessarily important to you) tasks of the day- now you have a direction and YOUR goals to make your life the way you want. With this and continuous everyday actions everything is possible :)
I hope this was helpful to you and I would love to hear from you at least one of your goals for next year in the comments bellow! :)
With love & inspiration,
Most of the times I start my day with few cups of warm lemon water, but when colder season comes I tend to switch to warming & detoxifying turmeric-ginger tea. I must confess that I’m a huge fan of ginger in all kinds of forms (in main courses and baked goods, drinks and sauces…), so this is just another opportunity to use it :) In this case it’s not only great because of its ginger taste, but it also has LOTS of health benefits and the bright orange color of this tea is perfect to balance the moody, sunless days of winter. Due to ginger’s energizing properties and spicy, strong taste this drink works well instead of coffee, too (imagine no side effects and plenty of benefits, each morning!). I love drinking it before my morning meditation and it helps me to start the day warm, fully awake & concentrated.
Both ginger and turmeric is highly used in Indian cuisine and many other Asian cuisines and they have been praised for centuries for their medicinal properties. Here are some of the healing properties of them:
Heating & activating;
Improves circulation and digestion;
Helps to fight certain kinds of cancer;
Detoxify the liver;
Antioxidant & anti-inflammatory
You can read more about ginger health benefits here and about turmeric health benefits here.
You can buy ginger and turmeric fresh as roots or dried and ground as powder. Fresh is always better, but turmeric in ground form works for this recipe, too. For fresh roots check Asian markets or organic food shops, though ginger is more common and usually can be found in regular supermarkets, too. Personally I really don’t like strong taste of dried ginger in teas, but some people like it, so you can try and and see for yourself. Powdered ginger works better for sweets/baked goods.
* 800 ml of water
* Fresh ginger root- 1-2 cm length piece;
* Fresh turmeric root 1-2 cm length piece or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder;
* Few pinches of black pepper, preferably freshly ground;
* Few crushed cardamon pods (optional)
* Juice of 1/2 lemon (preferably organic)
*1 Tbsp raw honey (or according to your taste)
* Small pinch of chilly/cayenne powder (optional)
If possible, use organic ingredients.
It’s very important to use black pepper in this drink because substance called piperine (which is found in black pepper) helps to absorb curcumin (turmeric’s main healing compound) properly. It enhances absorption of curcumin by 2000%.
Pour the water in a pot and bring to boil. Add pinches of black pepper, cardamon pods and chilly if you use them. Wash ginger and turmeric roots & cut them in thin slices and add to the pot, too. Boil for 7-10 min., then set aside to cool down. When the tea is not hot anymore (it should be still pretty warm, but not hot) squeeze in lemon juice & add honey, mix until it’s dissolved. Pour the tea through a strainer to cups & enjoy :)
Warning: turmeric has gorgeous color, but it is VERY staining, fresh even more than powdered. Your hands and nails will wash after some time, but be careful with kitchen surfaces & clothes. Strangely enough it doesn’t stain teeth and funnily enough some people even use it for whitening their teeth :)I’m heading to Morocco tomorrow- it’s my first time in Africa and I’m really looking forward to warm weather, new adventures and vivid colors. And as we come to the end of this year I’ll also be doing some last year’s reviews and planning for the coming year. I’ll share the framework I use for that in the next blog post. Until then- enjoy your holidays and I wish you happy & magical New year celebration!
With love & inspiration,
Those who know me know well that I like running and there were periods in my life when I was seriously hooked on it, especially about 4 years ago when my husband and I trained for our first marathon. We used to run few times a week for anything from 10 to 25 km, enjoying the conversations, fresh air (and fresh ideas) and the high that inevitably comes with running. We ran the marathon, afterwards my husband ran a second one (I ran a half-marathon then) and we felt that we in a way achieved our goals and we lost our interest a bit. So from then I would run sometimes, but it never was really consistent anymore (I do all kinds of other sports so I don’t feel the pressure to run consistently to be in shape), so when two weeks ago I started running again each morning it was surprising even for me. After few years of running just sometimes I wasn’t in that good shape for running and it’s November, mornings are dark and it’s quite chilly outside- seems like many reasons (excuses ;) ) to not run. To be honest I started it not because I wanted, but because of the busy schedule which didn’t left me with enough time to go to the gym or yoga and I felt the need to do ANYTHING active to stay healthy & sane. On 3rd day in my daily running I had a coaching session with my lovely coach Hanna and we talked about creating habits that last and feeling good & healthy when you’re on busy schedule. We decided to make it into a habit- running daily, each morning, no excuses allowed for minimum of two weeks :-) I’m proud to say I managed to do this and that this experiment was very successful :-)
So I ran daily, each morning before breakfast for 15 or (most of the time) 30 minutes. To be honest I expected I would get too tired, too bored, it will be too cold or rainy or… You know the way mind works, it imagines things far worse than they are in reality :-)
This seemingly simple act of running daily gave quite a few lessons:
1. The most difficult part is not to run physically, that’s actually easy. The difficult part is to convince your mind and use your willpower to start doing it. And when you don’t need to decide will you do it today or tomorrow it makes things SO much easier. It’s the possibility of not doing it today that makes the whole thing difficult and when you just start considering that option your mind will find all the reasons to do it tomorrow :-) I was surprised, but I found it so much easier to run daily, than to run 3 times a week. Give it a try :-) (this applies to any habit, not only running obviously)
2. Sleep is overrated :-) I’m a bit joking here, I definitely lack some sleep after these days, because my schedule was busy and I skipped some sleep and woke up early to run, but if you want to do something, you will find time. And morning is the time when you have the most willpower to do “difficult” things.
3. As I already had one must-do habit for the day it was easier to add another habits- I meditated daily before the run almost all days. You train your mind that this happens after that, no questioning and no other options :-) I also drank more fresh juices & ate better (except on the days when I was on photo shoots, I still need to work on that…), because I knew that with everyday exercise my body needs proper fuel.
4. You can learn quite a lot while running daily. See my previous post about learning via audio books & podcasts and “5 AM miracle” podcast for early morning runs is just perfect!
5. Increased inspiration & energy is a very nice by-product of daily run. There’s something magical and inspiring about being up so early, seeing the sunrise, being in nature and listening to audios you like and I felt full of ideas and with much more energy than normally. And this feeling of being fully alive is what I crave the most in life.
6. You get a bit sore muscles, but much less than I expected (thankfully bath with Epson salt & massage with sesame oil and essential oils help with that). And you get nice abs :-)
7. The first week was easy and really joyful, but the second week I had few days of photo shoots where I needed to be on location early and this obviously makes things more difficult. My sleep schedule suffered, my self-care routine as well, but I managed to stay on track with running and I’m proud of myself that I did. It’s very easy to skip once when you’re trying to get new habits and then just quit altogether because of one-time “failure”, so it was important to me to not do this mistake. I know I can get back to my better sleep & self care routine and I have more self confidence now because I did what I decided to do without failing. Obviously things won’t be easy and perfect all the time, but it’s important to know your goals, adjust as you go and don’t beat yourself up for not being perfect :-)
8. If you love your body & want to keep it healthy, you should sweat daily & be outside daily. It can be not running, but please, do it :-) Our bodies are designed to move (plus sweating removes toxins from your body) and I felt how much my body craved that.
Plus, running early allows you to see some pretty awesome views!
Tomorrow evening I’m going for a mini vacation in Porto, Portugal and I’m taking my sneakers with me ;)
With love and inspiration,
Learning…from waste of time to my favorite activity
I was always a curious person, but traditional education system in school wasn’t something I really admired… I did very well on subjects I liked and didn’t put much effort to those subjects I didn’t like. Now when I think about it it’s such an enormous waste of your time (and life- I mean we spend 12 years there and honestly some of that time I simply wasted sitting bored/chatting with my classmate/drawing on my notebook and waiting for the lesson to finish, year after year) which could be used to learn things that are of your interest and aligned to your natural talents… So later when I studied in Denmark I was really impressed with their different approach which made so much more sense- we would get a topic, only a few lectures on it, reading list where we could find more information and a group project related to that topic to work on with an assigned teacher to help you when/if necessary. Of course this approach requires you to be motivated to do the work because it allows a lot of freedom, but I felt that finally I was thriving in education- nobody forced me, they just guided and encouraged me to study what I was already interested in and they encouraged me to find out things myself. I guess this was part of what inspired me later in life to pursue all things I find interesting, because I knew from practice that I can learn anything if I want and I can do it on my own.
It’s funny when I think that with years I learn more & more, not less compared to time I spent at school. If you believe that learning is important (and shouldn’t stop after your official education has ended), but find it difficult to learn new things continuously, then you should like my 5 tips- they all don’t take too much time and are easy to implement:
5 easy ways to infuse learning into your everyday
1. TED talks & short documentaries on youtube/vimeo- takes anything from 10 minutes to an hour and are packed with knowledge (and TED talks are often also very entertaining)
2. Reading– I know, if you don’t read you probably think that it takes lots of time, but the truth is it doesn’t have to. Start small and set measurable goals that don’t overwhelm you- decide on time (reading 10 minutes a day-anyone could do that ;) ) or amount of chapters/pages. Set small goals, they compound in the long run. I personally love reading not everyday, but in bigger chunks, for example having a bath and reading a few chapters of good book= new knowledge+perfect relaxation.
3. Listen to audio books. I like Amazon Audible (German version is a bit cheaper) or finding some lectures/audio books on Youtube and downloading them to my phone/ipad. Perfect for commute or morning runs/walks/gym!
4. Subscribe to video blogs of educational nature. Some of my current favorites: Marie Forleo, Denise Duffield-Thomas, Social Triggers, Tara Bliss. It depends on your topic of interest obviously, but there’s plenty of good content and these videos usually last about 10 minutes.
5. Listen to Podcasts. It’s free and you can do it while you are doing something else like running, commuting, being at the gym etc. My favorite is 5 AM miracle by Jeff Sanders, I also love Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic lessons about creativity and few others. The variety of topics available in podcasting community is huge and I’m sure you’ll find what suits your interests.
Know your “why”
Now I’m not suggesting that you should just watch/listen/read anything, I’m suggesting you to be strategic with your time & goals. Is there any new skill you would like to gain or new business you want to start? Or maybe you always wanted to travel the world full-time but don’t know how? Having a clear goal will motivate you and doing small steps DAILY to learn how to achieve it will bring you closer to your dream- also DAILY. Knowing what is it that you want usually is not enough- you also need to know WHY you want that. Imagine & list all the benefits you would get if you achieved your goal and do it in vivid details. How would you feel? How would your day look like and who would you share it with? Paint as real vision as possible and keep it in mind or even better write it somewhere where you can see it daily. Also consider what would happen in the future (1, 5,10 years from now) if you still didn’t achieve this goal? How would you feel about that? This should give you some motivation to learn what you want to learn :)
How important learning is in your life? What are your favorite ways to learn new things? Would love to hear your opinion in the comments!
With love & inspiration,
Everyone knows how addictive the casual chips are, but I guess everyone (I hope at least!) also knows that almost all of them aren’t really good for your body… But there’s a very easy, quick, totally healthy and also ridiculously addictive alternative- raw kale chips. They even taste like cheese flavored casual chips! Don’t think that cabbage chips can be worth trying? I hear you, but don’t judge until you haven’t tried them :)
I rarely do any recipes with precise proportions, and this is the same and you can always experiment and change proportions or add some new ingredients as you want, but for basic recipe you’ll need:
Raw kale chips
*1 big kale cabbage
* 2-3 Tbsp of nutritional yeast (I buy them from www.iherb.com, but they should be at any healthy food store)
* 1 cup cashew nuts, preferably soaked for few hours
* some water (depends on your blender, you need to be able to blend the cashews)
* Himalayan or sea salt
* around 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
*optional ingredients: chili flakes, various dried herbs, garlic or onion powder, a squeeze of lemon juice.
Soak the cashews for about 2 hours. You can use them not soaked as well, but it’s much easier to blend them when they’re soaked. Drain them and add to blender (preferably high speed blender) and add a bit of water. The goal is to add as little as possible water, but still blend the cashews into creamy consistency. Take the kale, wash it and tear the leafs to small pieces, throw the stems out (or use for something else, like soup etc.). In a big bowl add the pieces of kale, pour the cashew cream, add nutritional yeast, salt and olive oil and mixed everything throughly. “Massage” the sauce into the kale :)
If you have dehydrator then put the drying sheets and add the chips in single layer. Dehydrate in 40°C until crispy. If you don’t have dehydrator, you can use your oven. Put baking paper in and again add the chips in single layer. Set your oven at lowest temperature and bake until crispy. Some ovens can have possibility to set low temperature, for others people use them partly open to still keep the low temperature. In this case you end up with a snack that’s raw and full of beneficial enzymes, vegan, gluten-free and so tasty that you can feed your kids with greens using this recipe :) For nutritional benefits of kale check here.
By the way, kale is not only one of the healthiest foods, but also one that you can grow during the colds in autumn and winter, so it makes a great choice when you’re searching for some vitamins and most of the other fresh produce is not in season.
I was really absent from this blog lately and one of the things why was that I was working on my new photography website, which you can check here: www.linaskukauske.com. Besides that and normal work I was also doing lots of new spiritual & psychological practices, studying in an online course and now started studying in another one (but this time it’s about lifestyle photography, so there should be more blog posts soon, as I have photography home works in this course ;) ), so there are many new things I now incorporate into my life, but I don’t feel ready to write about those topics yet. Maybe later after a bit more practice I’ll share my experience here as well, because I think they’re VERY beneficial, but as with every change you need to first fully accept it into your life.
It’s a rainy Sunday here in Germany, so I’ll take a plate of these green snacks, a good book and go to chill out in a bed with cozy wool blanket :) Let me know in the comments how was your experience with the kale chips ;)
Who doesn’t love ice cream? I certainly do, but I rarely eat store-bought ice cream because I never find any with proper ingredients and I try to avoid using non-organic milk products. I remember how in childhood ice cream used to be from milk/cream and sugar, but nowadays?… Milk powders, various fats (some can be not vegetarian, so I avoid those), sweeteners and just additional ingredients to keep everything together looking like ice cream… So now when summer finally came to Germany and we have 30°C+ temperature for last few days and it seems to last for some time more (yay!) I thought it’s finally time for ice cream. This recipe is very easy and for basic ice cream requires only one ingredient! And it’s vegan & sugar free! I usually add additional ingredients and with those possibilities are endless. I’ll share few versions here as well.
So for the basic version you will need:
* Very ripe (with dots) bananas, amount depends on how much ice cream you want, but I would suggest to do more because they are simply so tasty and because it will be easier to produce. So starting with 4 bananas is a good idea.
*To produce the ice cream you will need either a high speed blender or a masticating juicer (I use mostly this option) or a food processor and spatula. It is possible to use ice cream maker as well.
Peel the bananas, and if you will be using high speed blender or masticating juicer break them in three pieces and shown in image above. If you will be using food processor cut them in small slices. Put them in a bowl/plate/container and freeze overnight. Usually I just keep some frozen bananas in my freezer to have them ready, otherwise you need to plan in advance a bit. When your bananas are frozen enough then:
a) Using high speed blender: put them in blender (you will need a powerful blender for that, any kind of blender might not work) and use “pulse” function, stop, scrape from sides using spatula, repeat until you end up with a smooth, ice cream-like consistency. They will be softer than normal ice cream, so you can put them back to freezer for an hour, though they are tasty as they are as well.
b) Using masticating juicer: turn the juicer on and put bananas one by one through it. You end up with a smooth, ice cream-like consistency. Again you can freeze them for one hour more in the freezer if you want harder consistency.
c) Using food processor: depending on your food processor you might need to do this in small batches, but the idea is similar as with the blender- put the bananas in, blend, scrape with spatula and blend again, repeating the process until they will turn into smooth and creamy consistency. Freeze for one hour more if you want harder consistency.
d) Using ice cream maker: Blend bananas while they are not frozen (in this case any blender should work) and put the mass to ice cream maker (if you will be using any other ingredients for the ice cream, add them as well, if necessary blend them before) and let them freeze for 40 minutes.
So as I mentioned they are very tasty just as they are, but you can also experiment with all kinds of additional ingredients! Some of the things that work well are:
*Other plant based milk, but it needs to be quite fatty (anything with too much water makes the ice cream loose its perfect creamy consistency). I like using fatty home made hemp milk.
*Cacao powder or cocoa nibs and so on. The possibilities are really endless :)
You can add those ingredients when blending or just use them as toppings after the ice cream is made. What I did for these pictures was that I made basic banana ice cream and added another fruity cream on top, not frozen (though this mixture works well when frozen as well!)
The second fruity layer:
*1 big ripe mango
*1/2 organic lemon juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
*1 tsp cinnamon powder
*200 ml coconut cream
*2 handfuls of strawberries
* Some mint leaves (optional, but fits nicely)
*Mint leaves & strawberries to decorate.
Blend all the ingredients together (grate lemon zest before), pour over the ice cream base and decorate with strawberries and mint leaves and enjoy! Depending on how many bananas you used for base layer it will make enough ice cream for about 3-4 portions of healthy, tasty, vegan, sugar-free dessert :)
P.S. regarding equipment- I use Blendtec blender, Omega VRT350 juicer and Cuisinart ice cream maker.
Have you tried banana ice cream before? What kind of treats do you make in summer? I would love to know!
With love & inspiration,