Monday, August 22, 2011

Personal Training!

Hi Everyone!

I have great news....I'm officially a YMCA Personal Trainer now! YEA! (Unfortunately, my camera is not working. And I SO wanted to take pictures this weekend.) I just wanted to share. I'm pooped, but excited. This means I can work in the free weight/strength & cardio machine/personal training part of the YMCA now. For those who don't know, I've worked for the Y as yoga teacher for many years. I still need a national personal training certification, and I'm working that too.

There is a method to my madness. As I envision, I see it as a holistic wellness site with raw & vegan food being the main focus. It's all coming together....I love it when a plan works!

Althea ◦

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Pasta and Salad

I made my version of Chef Chole's Avocado Pesto Pasta two weeks ago. Chloe won a Food Network Cupcake Wars earlier this year. The judges RAVED about her cupcakes (and her competition was like, "What the hell? Vegan? How good could they be?) I've made vegan cupcakes and cakes, and they are truly better than traditional versions.

Chole's win piqued my curiosity about her food, so I gave her pasta a try.

As I was eating it, I kept saying, "This is good...No, this is really good...Man, this fantastic!" It became clear this was the best pasta I'd ever had. But when I ate it alone, it was good, not "The Best Pasta Ever." I realized it was the salad dressing plus the pasta that made it "The Best Pasta and Salad I Ever Ate." Make both of them together!

The creaminess of the pesto matched with the sharpness of apple cider vinegar in the salad dressing explode on the tongue. They go together like peanut butter and jelly.

You know how Cookie Monster says, "Cookies are a sometimes food!" This pasta and salad combo are a sometimes food. It has avocados, cashews, and oil. All of those are good fats, but they are fats nonetheless.

I got some GF linguine and went to town. Chloe's version (see below) has pine nuts. I am allergic to them (and they are expensive! $10.00 for 8 ounces of nuts??) so I went with cashews.

Althea's Version of Avocado Pesto Pasta
Pesto is (GF) and (RV)
  • 1 pound linguine, get GF if you have allergies (for fully raw vegan, use carrots, zucchini, or butternut squash, or yellow squash)
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, reserve some leaves for garnish
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • 2 avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • nutritional yeast, to taste
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add linguine and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, make the pesto by combining basil, cashews, avocados, lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, and oil in a food processor. Process until smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add more salt, pepper, nutritional yeast, and/or garlic as needed.
Toss pasta with pesto. Divide pasta among serving bowls and garnish each serving with a basil leaf.

Body Ecology Diet Salad Dressing (RV) (GF)
  • 2/3 cup organic unrefined oils(a combo of EVOO, flaxseed, or an flaxseed/evening primose blend)(I use EVOO only)
  • 1/3 cup organic apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 1 tsp. Celtic sea salt
Place all ingredients in a container and shake vigorously or put in blender. Use on top of your favorite salad. Or, as you see in my photos, fresh tomatoes.

Put the pasta and salad on a plate or bowl together. Throw some fresh cilantro on top of your salad too, or extra basil. Oh, it's so good.

Chef Chole's version
Avocado Pesto Pasta (V)
Pesto is (GF) and (RV)


  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, reserve some leaves for garnish
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 2 avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes or sliced sun-dried tomatoes (optional)


Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add linguine and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, make the pesto by combining basil, pine nuts, avocados, lemon juice, garlic, and oil in a food processor. Process until smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Toss pasta with pesto. For an extra touch of color and flavor, top pasta with cherry or sun-dried tomatoes. Divide pasta among serving bowls and garnish each serving with a basil leaf.



What I Learned This Summer

1) Put the oxygen mask on myself first.
2) I am a professional too.
3) Be fearless.

1. Put the oxygen mask on myself first.

When a child has any kind of medical issue, be it a cold, cancer, or Autism, the parent goes into overdrive. The problem is that even a car cannot remain in overdrive forever. Neither can a person. I have been in overdrive waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long. All the caretaking and worrying I've done for the past 8 years has taken a toll on me mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

I had bigger plans for my kids this summer. But my intuition was screaming, "Put the oxygen mask on yourself first." The analogy is, of course, when on an airplane, flight attendants always tell parents that in case of emergency, put the mask on themselves first and their child second. That seems counter intuitive to a parent. But the bottom line is, if you put the mask on your child first, you're giving her a chance to live, but you might not.

And that's how I've been feeling.

I listened to my inner wisdom and prayed about the best way to begin taking care of me. The answer came in the form of my friend Shay, who is a personal trainer. She told me about ChiRunning and ChiWalking. I started both and I can feel the difference. I have energy and mental clarity. Both are required for high-quality parenting :-).

And this weekend, I'm getting my Strength & Conditioning certification from the YMCA. Then I'll work on my ACE personal training certification!

So mamas, figure out a way to take care of you. Your children will thank you.

2. I am a professional too.

This doesn't apply to all moms, but I trained in Healing Touch, Reiki, yoga, children's yoga, pre-natal yoga even before my children were born. The intuition, vegan, and raw food part came later, but the bottom line is I've been in the holistic business for 11 years. People see me as someone who knows what she's talking about in those arenas.

But when I saw something not quite right with my children, fear and doubt kicked in, and stayed with me for years. I realize now that I abdicated my power to other authority figures. I don't regret the myriad of doctors, specialists, teachers, and the countless medical, academic, and speech tests. I've learned a great deal, and a team of professionals is necessary to help my children. (A holistic approach is needed, and I appreciate that.)

However, I'm a pro too. I tell my students in my intuition class, the key to a good reading is detachment, objectivity, and neutrality. It's difficult for a mom to be detached, objective, and neutral about her children. But it is possible to step back from them and not be so emotional about their issues. Thanks to #1 "putting the oxygen mask on myself," I realized that my children can benefit from my professional skills.

3) Be fearless.

My children have taught me to look at my deepest beliefs. I've been forced to ask myself, "Do I really think __________________ is true, or at least true for me?"

Here is what I know for sure: Disease starts in the energy field which is interdependent with the human body. Healing (not curing) is a multi-layered, multi-dimensional thing. We are mind, body, and spirit beings. Everything that has entered our consciousness from the moment of conception affects who we are now, and who we become. Everyone on Earth are inter-connected, and truly are One with each other.

I now choose to live from my core belief that the Universe is friendly to me (and everyone) and does respond to our deepest desires. When I feel myself at Raymond and Jona's college graduations, I am not "hoping" or "wishing." I am consciously, on purpose and with purpose, opening the energetic doors that will create that reality in their lives.

Being fearless rocks. ◦

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Raymond's Summer Adventures

Raymond had quite a summer...I brought him on an Herb Walk in early August. We learned about edible and medicinal weeds and plants. I can't say he was into it. He thought it was boring, although the photos say he was somewhat engaged :-). As their mother, I know that everything I do with them plants a seed. I really want Raymond and Jona to have an appreciation and connection with the Earth.

In the above photo, Raymond is holding Black Walnut. He did like throwing them on the ground in order to open them :-).

We met at the Maryland Zoo. Steffanie of Herban Roots and Yuma Bellomee of Yew 360 lead the walk. In the above photo, Raymond is tasting plantain. (Not the Carribean fruit. This is why Steffanie stressed the importance of learning the Latin names of plants to differentiate between things.)

Raymond about to taste garlic-mustard plant.

In this photo is Yuma, Hardcore Vietnam Brother (I can't remember his name, but he did serve in Vietnam, hence the name...and he found Raymond the purple ball in the woods), Raymond, Steffanie (holding Evening Primrose), Marie, and Majidat.

I learned so much on that one walk. The next one is Sunday, September 11 · 10:00am - 12:00pm in Baltimore. If you're interested, email me or leave a comment with your email, and I'll forward you the details. You'll never look at weeds the same way again.


And if you're wondering where Jona is, he prefers to take photos, rather than be in them. He took this photo of Raymond after we made Cantaloupe smoothie.

And here's Raymond helping me make Chocolate Ganache Pie. I do not share bad recipes; only the good stuff. I take my food seriously. Make it tomorrow!

And finally, Raymond spent five weeks at The Highlands School in their Social Skills Camp. I was the happiest camper when he got in, and even happier that he LOVED it! I mean he's ready to go back in September for school. (I'm working on it.) He never missed a day, and always enjoyed himself. He made friends and learned so much. I am forever grateful for this school.

In the above photo, Raymond is with Mr. Fred, the camp director, on the last day.

With Ms. Sarah.

Oh, and here's Jona! I told you he's camera shy now. "Where's the playroom?"

"Oh, there it is!" (But the door was locked.)

Ms. Nancy and Ms. Beth, the admissions director.

And finally, Ms. Melissa, another camp staffer.

I'm so happy Raymond and Jona had a fun summer. Me and Jona hung out playing and enjoying the outdoors too! Mommy learned some things herself. That's for the next post!


Chocolate Ganache Pie

It's been so long since I shared a recipe. I figured it was time :-). I've made this Chocolate Ganache Pie from 30-Minute Vegan before. The pie was better than last time. This is cooked and vegan, and if you make the crust yourself, it can be gluten-free. If you buy a pre-made crust, then it won't be.

I know this can be made raw. A live crust is as simple as blending dates and almonds in a food processor. The filling is something I'm going to play with, and I have a solid idea. Until then, here's the original version.

Chocolate Ganache Pie (V)

1-1/2 cups vegan dark chocolate chips (preferably grain-sweetened)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup 1 (12.3-ounce) package Mori-nu firm silken tofu
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1⁄8 teaspoon sea salt
1 premade pie shell
1. Melt the chocolate chips by heating them in a double boiler over medium heat until the consistency is smooth, lump-free, and creamy, stirring only once or twice.

2. Meanwhile puree the maple syrup, tofu, vanilla, and sea salt in a food processor until smooth. When the chocolate is thoroughly melted (about 20 minutes), add it to the food processor and blend well.

3. Pour the mixture into the pie shell and chill until firm all the way through, about 1 hour.

NOTE: This dish will come out sweeter if you use the more common semisweet chocolate chips, which contain cane sugar. Sunspire sells a variety that we prefer, which is grain-sweetened, but either one will work—sweeten to your heart’s content.

Also, when melting chocolate in a double boiler (which can also be any glass or stainless-steel bowl set on top of a pot with 1 to 2 inches of boiling water in it), be absolutely sure that both the bowl and anything you use to stir the chocolate with are completely dry. A good way to make sure the melting pot or bowl is dry is to start heating it before you put the chips in; this will dry out any moisture. The slightest droplet of water will “seize” the chocolate, leaving it lumpy and devastatingly imperfect looking. But surely do not cry over broken chocolate; everyone still loves to lick it up and your lumpy little pie will still taste divine.

This is the tofu, maple syrup, and sea salt in the food processor. Get it smooth.

Put the chocolate chips in bowl over boiling water.

Stir until the chips melt. Raymond did this part for me. Kids love playing in the kitchen!

After pouring the chocolate in the food processor, blend with the other ingredients. This is what it will look like.

Pour into the shell and let sit at least an hour. Overnight is best. You'll have a pie that no one will believe is vegan.

Here's a gluten-free pie crust recipe:

Graham Cracker Crust (GF)

1 1/2 cups gluten-free graham cracker crumbs or crushed cookies of choice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons vegan margarine


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use margarine to grease bottom and sides of a spring form or pie pan. Set aside.
2. Mix graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon, and melted margarine together.
3. Press mixture into prepared pan.
4. Place in preheated oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a rack before adding filling.



Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Leslie Esdaile Banks 1959-2011

Why? Why in the world is Leslie gone? If you don't know who Leslie Esdaile Banks (aka L.A. Banks) is, please check out her website. She was a talented and prolific novelist, who wrote romance and fantasy novels. Most people know her for the Vampire Huntress Series. Actually, "prolific" is not the word. A "Book Cranking Machine" is more like it. Leslie was seemingly always under a deadline. It was hard to catch up with her because that was a working sister.

Leslie died today from adrenal cancer.

I met her because of Rom. He found her email address somehow simply to say, "I love your work." When I went public as a professional intuitive, Rom took it upon himself to tell Leslie about me. The subject line of his email, as the story was told to me, was something like, "Check Out My Wife." if you see an email from a man you don't know with a subject line like that, would you open it? You're thinking "porno," right?

That's what Leslie thought!

But she opened it anyway, ready to reply back to Rom with a terse "delete my email address from your brain, brother."

But what she saw was a sweet email about my Angel readings. She wrote Rom back and said she would love a reading. She made a point of meeting us the next time she was in town. Leslie treated us like we'd been friends forever. And that's what everyone has said about her. She was friendly, gregarious, honest, and oh-so hilarious. She reminded me of E. Lynn Harris. They had the same joyous energy. You just wanted to be around them.

Leslie and I stayed in touch. I even got a shout-out in The Bitten, the fourth book in the Vampire Huntress Series. The last time I saw her was two years ago on my birthday. The last time we spoke was around Christmas 2010.

And this morning....I just knew. I saw her phone number in my address book and I heard, "It's too late. She's gone." I dismissed it because I didn't want to believe it. How could such a larger-than-life personality be gone? But it was true. Another loss. I'll miss her for the rest of my life.

It was my honor to have known you.
Rest in Power, Leslie.
Mother. Daughter. Spiritual. Lovely. Giving. Talented. Touched by the Divine.



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