Friday, July 22, 2016

The Art and Benefits of Belly Dance {Guest Post}

iConveyAwareness | The Art and Benefits of Belly Dance {Guest Post}
Oriental dance, Middle Eastern dance, or Arabic dance, are ethnic names given to an art form known commonly in America as Belly Dance. Belly dancing began 3,500 years ago in countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea from Turkey to Morocco, West Africa, Egypt, Greece & Northern India. The Arabs called it Beledi, which means, simply, native dance or native rhythm. The Arabs mingled with all the nations of the Near East & their musical life had an international, inter-oriental character we call Arabian. In these lands, the passions of birth & life & love are woven into every part of the culture with a special earthy quality. The music is very emotional & free rhythmically, therefore the dance, as a physical expression of that sensual, mystical music, is also highly emotional & free rhythmically. The music reflects thousands of regional customs, practices, & celebrations.
No one knows the exact origin of Middle Eastern dance, but each culture claims it for their own. The early Phoenicians did it, the ladies of the Pharaoh did it, the Turks claim it as theirs, the Egyptians point to their ancient wall paintings, sculpture, & artifacts to prove it was theirs. North African tribal women danced in market places in hopes of winning the favors of passers-by, sufficiently to get a few gold coins tossed at their feet. Then they would sew the coins on to their belts & wear them when they danced. This belt of coins would eventually become their dowry. It is also told that the Belly Dance was performed by helpful village woman as another sister was giving birth to a child. The dance served as a rhythmic, soothing reminder to the woman in labor to use her abdominal muscles to aid the birth process.
Oriental dance was introduced into America by Little Egypt at the Chicago Fair of 1893. She was not a true belly dancer. She was scantily dressed & was one of the 'unique' acts that the Fair was known for. However, she gave the dance a bad name by making it synonymous with striptease. Americans had no understanding of Eastern culture, which also added to the misunderstandings about the dance. It took more than half of a century for belly dancing to recover from the shock of its introduction to the West. The name of Arabic dance has been cleared & it is now performed with new pride as an authentic, reverent, ethnic art form.
What will belly dancing do for you? I have seen women's confidence blossom after having taken belly dancing classes, as well as enjoying the 'sisterhood' that occurs after dancing together each week. I have seen how men's hips, which are often very tight, become looser due to doing movements that isolate that area. Women also benefit in this area. Belly dancing will tone your muscles, improve your posture, develop more balance & grace in all your movements, increase your stamina, release tension in your lower & upper back & neck, allow for creative expression through music, improve your self-image, & it is a lot of fun, too!!! 

Cindy Cote' was born in Trona, California & grew up in China Lake at the Naval Air Warfare Center-China Lake. She attended Bakersfield Community College & received an AA in Liberal Studies & transferred to San Jose State College, where she received a BS in Recreation & Leisure Studies. After graduating, she returned to Ridgecrest, California & began a job as Assistant Recreation Director, working for the City of Ridgecrest Recreation Department. She married & had a daughter & still lives in Ridgecrest.

She became interested in Arabic music when she was 16 years old, due to babysitting for a Lebanese family. This grew into an interest in Belly Dancing when she was a senior in college, where she took her first Belly Dancing class. She took more classes after moving to Ridgecrest & then began teaching classes for the Recreation Department. Later, she began teaching at the Hi Desert Dance Center & developed a performing troupe called Silk Road Caravan. During the past 24 years of teaching, she has attended many workshops & classes in many forms of Belly Dancing, as well as Polynesian, Spanish and International Folk Dancing.  

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Spirit of Adventure {Guest Post}

@ConveyAwareness | Seek a Little Solace Guest Post - The Spirit of #Adventure

Do you ever look with longing at someone else’s life and think, “I wish I could do that too.”  I do. I often wonder how it would be to live a life of adventure, free of fear and full of courage. But when I pause to contemplate the definition of adventure and what it means to be courageous, I have to acknowledge the fact that I do approach my life with courage and fill it with adventure. And so can you. It’s all in how you look at things. 
"Sometimes adventure comes in simply changing your perspective. [Tweet This]

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Pancakes with added plant power (DF)

One of my family's favorite weekend breakfast foods is pancakes. Well, I do like french toast too, and I have a recipe using the Complete here that you may be interested. But, my every day breakfast is one of two things: 1) a Complete smoothie with added sources of plant protein or 2) pastured local eggs over medium with veggies on the side. 

I hope you enjoy this pancake recipe. Without buttermilk, they're not fluffy but they're still very good and even better with real maple syrup (mmm grade B is my favorite but hard to come by locally so I buy online).

1 1/3 cup of flour (I prefer this)
2 tbsp sugar (we like coconut sugar)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of sea salt
1 cup of almond milk + *2 tsp
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup of vanilla Complete plant powder (or your choice)
1/2 to 1 cup of blueberries (or your berry preference); partially thaw if frozen
1-2 tbsp oil (we prefer coconut oil - buy any cold pressed brand)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Joy [Almond Shortbread] Cookies

We are a laid back family and because of this chill attitude, we do not have any "must do" traditions for a holiday. But I must add, I do enjoy baking especially in the colder months. Ever overdo it when it comes to baking? I did. Yep, just this past Christmas. However, it was a joy to bake and enjoy the goodies. And, did I enjoy them! Yum! I'm already contemplating when I will bake my next batches! These cookies break almost all the rules but I tell myself that if I choose better quality ingredients then I'm not breaking ALL the rules. =) 

Today's post will be a recipe I originally found in a magazine for military commissaries about 3 years ago. For this past Christmas, I was thumbing through various old recipe cookbooks and I stumbled upon this one I'm sharing today. 

I love finding recipes I have not made in a while and in this case, since the Christmas before. I have two shelves dedicated to recipes I have made over the years and I keep all the good ones from the recipe cards found inside the CSA box pick-ups. Pinterest is a great place to store recipes, too. Are you following? Follow me on Pinterest with the 6K+ others - go do it now before you forget. I'll wait. =)

Joy Cookies - Almond, Chocolate YUM - #ConveyAwareness

One of the best parts of having a blog is having your own online recipe index. My husband recently asked me if I'd like for him to order a series of cookbooks for diabetics and I declined. I replied that the recipes were most likely using artificial sweeteners. (You're probably wondering if we are diabetic. We are not but several of my clients are or are borderline and they're usually asking for recipes on what to cook.) I told my husband that I / we can find whatever I / we need already on my blog or on countless other real food blogs. 

This recipe is not unique as you may find various renditions online but it is delectable and you get to control how big of a piece you want and with any recipe, you get to choose the quality of the ingredients. This year I cut the cookies bigger than in years past. Other years I made them into bite size squares and I think that is a good idea especially if you like cookies. If I'm not thinking about vegetables, you can best believe I'm thinking about cookies! And these are nothing short of "I'll have three (or more) of these." 

Preheat oven to 375°.

2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, room temp
1/3 cup oil
1 egg 
1 T milk
1 tsp almond extract
1 2/3 cup flour (this is my favorite flour for baking)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (omit if butter is salted)

3 T melted chocolate
1/4 cup slivered almonds

In this recipe, I used coconut oil and since it is cold here the oil was solid. I melted it and then let it cool slightly before adding the egg. I also took the egg out earlier in the day so that it would be room temperature. When mixing ingredients for baked goods, I find that everything should be close in temperature or the ease of spreading in the pan may not be as effortless. 

Choose organic ingredients when possible.