Maybe it's the heart-colored richness of this compote, or maybe it's the gentleness of the deer that I so often drive by and wish well on my way to work, or it could be the way the trees simply give their leaves to the whipping winds, knowing there is no other option but to surrender to the cycles of what is to come... Whatever it is, lately I am overcome with a deep and soul-stirring sense of the need to slow down and take it easy.
Getting my wisdom teeth pulled in October took a lot more out of me than I thought it would. It took me over 2 weeks to not have tooth pain or a dull headache, and it took over 3 weeks for my body to not feel overwhelmed with weakness and fatigue. In typical Capricorn behavior, I did continue to wake up at 4:45am and work out (albeit, low-impact) on the days that I worked and I now realize I probably prolonged the pain with my restless, goat-driven behavior. Since then I have realized how difficult it really is for me to actually rest - and I have been consciously working on resting and being gentle with myself ever since.
With that said, I have decided to share two things with the internet-world today: one, a delicious recipe for an Orange Cranberry Rosehip compote and two, my personal thoughts on how we can begin to be gentle with ourselves, especially in this hectic time of the year. I think they go hand-in-hand.
So, what does it mean to be gentle with ourselves?
For me, it means maintaining a dedicated self-care practice. Self-care is defined as "any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health," and what self-care is for one person might not necessarily be self-care for someone else. Furthermore, what is self-care for us on one day (ex: a run + drinking a smoothie), might not be self-care for us the next day (ex: sleeping in + going out to eat pizza). Self-care is as flexible and fluid as we are, and the number one thing it depends on is being in tune with ourselves - in mind, body, and spirit.
But it's easy to become rigid in one's self care, falling into the trap of only doing "healthy" things, only eating "clean foods" (bonus feature - click here for why I am against the 'eat clean' movement), and even ending up shaming ourselves for not being active enough - which I why I ask that we be gentle with ourselves, even in our self-care. Being gentle with ourselves means that some days our bodies are telling us it needs lots of vegetables, pre-soaked grains, and fruit - and other days it says "hey we haven't been eating enough lately, how about some pizza with a friend?" Being gentle with ourselves is about finding a delicate balance in diet, in exercise, in how we spend our time, etc. It asks that we listen to the needs of our bodies, minds, and spirits - and that we take the time to nurture them to the best of our ability. Being gentle with ourselves means giving ourselves that nudge to go out and be social, and it also means not beating our selves up because we chose to stay in and go to bed early (life is exhausting sometimes, ok).
Some of my favorite ways to be gentle with myself include moving my body a little bit every day*, but not demanding that I work out intensely everyday, (*as I am able-bodied, I realize this isn't possible for everyone). Some days all I can squeeze in is 15 minutes of gentle stretching, other days I'm blasting Nicki Minaj and knocking out a HIIT workout, and some days, my favorite days, moving my body involves spinning in circles and skipping up and down during a walk in the woods. Other methods I implore are taking hot herbal baths on the weekends, meditating on the way to/from the city on the subway (a lifesaver, I'm telling you!), and grounding via placing my hands on the earth and stargazing for a minute or to when I do get home from work.
And, lastly, being gentle with myself involves, more than anything else, watching my internal dialogue and watching the way I speak to myself. Meditation and the practice of watching my mind, but not engaging with it, is what has helped me the most in this. Simply guiding my concentration back to my breath when I get lost in a thought-tornado has helped me to slowly let go of those lovely self-hate sessions that so often come with anxiety and other mental illness. I know it's cliche, but the truth is, if you spoke to your friends the way you spoke to yourself, you would have no friends left. And the reality is, you are the longest friend you will ever have, so perhaps it is time to speak to yourself with a little love and respect!
And perhaps it's time for me to stop rambling and get to the most delicious compote I've ever made... Well, it might be the first compote I have ever made, but wow is it good.
Cranberry-Orange Rosehip Compote with Cashew Creme
This recipe is inspired by Rosalee de la Forêt's recipe found here, as well as the fact I wanted to make something herbal and seasonal for herb school this week. This vitamin-C and antioxidant-rich sweet and tangy recipe was a hit with my health-food-hating father, as well as with my belly!
This recipe can be served warm with the cashew creme or over ice-cream, as well as mixed into in oatmeal or as a part of a parfait. It's also great eaten by the spoonful straight out of the fridge, I'm just sayin'...
Ps. Soak the cashews 30 minutes to 2 hours before you start cooking if you plan on making the cashew creme
Cranberry Orange Rosehip Compote Ingredients
3 cups chopped apples
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/3 cup of dried rose hips
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1 cup orange juice
1 cup date-water (aka water infused used to soak the dates)
2 chopped, soaked date (from the date water)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon clove powder
2 heaping spoonfuls raw honey or sugar
Place the apples, cranberries, rose hips, orange juice, lemon juice + zest, and half of your spices in a pot and bring to a boil
Reduce to a simmer and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring regularly
Once the fruits are soft, add the rest of your spices, the pre-soaked chopped dates, and sweetener if you want it and simmer + stir for a few minutes
While warm but not hot, stir in the sweetener
Serve with a hearty dollop of sweet cashew creme
Cashew Creme Ingredients
- 3/4 cup soaked cashews
- 1/3 + 2 tbsp cup water
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp liquid coconut oil (optional)
- pinch sea salt
- Soak your cashews for 30 minutes to 2 hours in warm water with a dash of ACV, then drain
- Add all your ingredients except the coconut oil and salt into a high-powered blend (or food processor, it just won't be as smooth) and blend until smooth
- While blending, add the liquid coconut and salt until integrated
- Pour into a serving dish and serve immediately, or let sit for a few hours in the fridge to thicken up
I hope you enjoy this recipe, that your week is going well, and that find a way to be gentle with yourself whenever you have the chance. Life is demanding and can be exhausting at times. It's important to rest, to simply sit on the couch with your dog, sans-TV, or to sit outside with a cup of warm tea and watch the clouds go by. So often I find myself feeling guilty for not learning at every moment of the day - to sit outside without doing something can feel uncomfortable and strange, and we will probably find ourselves reaching for our smartphone within minutes, but I challenge you (and me) to sit with ourselves and see what comes up. If nothing else, it's good for our blood pressure and stress levels!
With warm rosehip love,
- "So What Is "Self Care?" University of Kentucky. Web.
- Rose hip and Cranberry Compote Recipe - LearningHerbs, http://learningherbs.com/remedies-recipes/compote-recipe/