Monthly Archives: May 2013

celebrating 10 years into wellness

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wellness
 
Ten years ago, a dear friend was diagnosed with cancer. Following an emotional roller coaster of anguish, isolation and thousands of ‘why me?’ questions, this health challenge gradually acted as a wake-up call- a gift of life as my friend says. This ignited a deep desire in him to start living meaningfully and look at life with a REFRESHED eye.
 
Tonight, we celebrated 10 years since his wake-up call into wellness and raised a glass to his words of wisdom:
– simplify life…
– get rid of all the clutter
– find, or re-discover a passion (his one is cycling)
– live meaningfully
– enjoy the moment
– eat healthy- feed your body and nourish your soul
– stay fit
– when you cannot change a situation, change your attitude
 
We followed my friend and his ‘new’ passion into the Old Town of Nicosia with our bikes under the moonlight. And when we stopped for a toast, we wished him many more anniversaries and a life filled with health, love, happiness and passion!

the passion whisperer

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carrotHummusTXP
 
A few days ago, I was listening to wellness activist Kris Carr interview Marie Forleo. In this truly inspiring interview, Forleo, who runs a thriving game-changing business, spoke about how she manages to stay energized, healthy and positive. What REALLY caught my attention was when Kris portrayed Marie as a ‘PASSION WHISPERER.’ I loved the term! Passion whisperers are people who use passion as the main ingredient in ALL that they do from fluffing a pillow to cooking a meal. Such is the essence of this blog: to live and love passionately! You can view the full video on this link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EbkWhGbB50k
 
 I must admit that I can identify at least two passion whisperers in my life and one is my very talented and truly inspirational friend, Thomas Peccini.  Thomas lives and loves life passionately and never ceases to spread the loving factor to those around him whether it is through his incredible cooking or his countless themed  activities which are truly an experience of the senses. Yesterday, he tweaked  a carrot hummus recipe which I posted on my blog to create what I feel is now a TXP-signature recipe.
In this Roasted Carrot and Tahini Paste flavored with orange, lemon, thyme, cumin and parsley, Thomas topped it with a sprig of fresh sage. This passion whisperer then created chips from thin Lebanese pita, tossed them with olive oil and sea salt and then toasted them in the oven. The initial recipe was posted on May 4, while Thomas’ full- of -passion version is right here.
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151711456694954&set=np.260030707.524663051&type=1&theater&notif_t=photo_tag
Thomas and I agreed that we would replace the orange juice with more lemon the next time around while the next tweak will also include fresh chopped cilantro.

a special LADY who stole my heart…

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white roses
 
 
Sometimes we meet people who simply steal our heart. It may not be people that we see or speak to very often. Yet it is those lasting memories of a genuine smile, a gracious spirit and a heart filled with love, which stay with us for life. Today, I would like to pay special tribute to a very SPECIAL and PHENOMENAL LADY who flew away a few hours ago. A Lady who stole my heart and soul with…
 
…her genuine smile… beautiful heart… gracious warrior’s spirit… hugs filled with so much love… words of wisdom and so much more. This is what I call a true legacy… the precious treasures which one leaves behind. I promised I wouldn’t cry but simply smile at her loving memories… All I can say is that I will do my best…
 
Lastly, I’d like to share a sweet legacy which this SPECIAL LADY passed on to me 4 years ago.
 
RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE
 
Ingredients
1 box of digestive biscuits
3 tsp of unsalted butter
1 glass milk (sweetened canned milk)
1 Philadelphia cheese
1 sachet fresh cream powder
3 lemons (squeezed)
1 tin of canned raspberries
 
Preparation
Smash the digestive biscuits and mix well with the butter. Place the mixture at the bottom of a cake bowl that can be refrigerated.  In a different bowl, stir the sweetened milk
with the Philadelphia cheese.  Pour the fresh cream powder into the above mix, add lemon and stir everything together until the ingredients are fully blended.  Once the mixture is ready, pour it on top of the biscuits. As a final touch, add the canned raspberries and refrigerate for a couple of hours!
 
This recipe of heart came along with a warm embrace, an authentic smile and lots of love from a my SPECIAL LADY.

ghee in my kitchen

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gheeButter
 
Earlier this month I was introduced to ghee- a clarified butter- and it has since become a much-loved ingredient in my cooking.
Ghee is lactose free and is easier to digest because it has lesser amount of fat than other cooking oils. What’s more, it does not break down in high heat and it has a great flavor! This past week, I have used ghee to saute all kinds of veggies from kale to spinach, cabbage and zucchini.
 
Today’s glorious weather inspired me to a more colorful blend, so I chopped whatever legumes I had in my fridge: leeks, zucchini, eggplant, sweet potato and sautéed everything in ghee. Served on rice noodles, it was absolutely delicious! I highly recommend it!Photo0140 

cruising the Old Town under the moonlight

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Easter Saturday was my day to ride- not on the safe, familiar route of the path or park, but through main roads, roundabouts and streets bustling with people, motorbikes and cars. It was a fear which I had to conquer and that recurring itch in my soul was finally urging me to ‘break the shell so that the bird could fly’ (Alfred Tennyson).
 
I was in safe hands in the company of much loved old friends, who promised to safeguard me along the way. I made them promise to bear with my baby pedals until ‘the bird could fly,’ and they assured me that they would.
We meandered our way through the Old Town of Nicosia, feeling its historic heartbeats and experiencing its culture on two wheels while listening to the owls and frogs in the nearby river. It was all a totally different angle from walking through the city, I must admit. And then I remembered my friend Klimentini’s wise words: ‘When you look up, you see the history of a place through the architecture. What is on the ground floor tends to be new additions like shops and restaurants.’
 
Famagusta_Gate_by_Night  onasagorou
 
 
 
Could it be the cool breeze brushing our faces, the satisfaction of exploring, that liberating feeling which cycling carries with it, a unique bonding venture with friends of almost 30 years? I think that it was a blend of ALL these delightful ingredients which refreshed and rejuvenated our mind, body and soul.
 
NsiaOldTown
 
What a truly amazing experience riding under the moonlight! I thank our ‘peloton leader’ Christos for the inspiration and motivation.
cycling

Running for a friend and her gracious spirit

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fantanimals
For the past 14 years, running has been a way of life for me. Running keeps me sane, motivated and focused, while running for a cause simply makes my life more meaningful.
 
As a runner, I am constantly in search for personal sports stories with an element of inspiration which will motivate me to the next level- improve my time, prepare for the next challenge or simply add more meaning to my fitness pursuits. The story of 81 year-old Sister Madonna Buder intrigued me immensely! Known as the ‘Iron Nun,’ Sister Madonna began to run at the age of 48 and she has been running ever since, having competed in many marathons and more than 340 triathlons (including the Ironman distance)! She explains that running helps harmonize mind, body and soul and, while she was initially faced with some opposition to the apparently differing worlds of being a nun and a competitive athlete, she managed to blend these two passions by adding a ‘good cause’ as a key ingredient. Sister Madonna uses racing as a way to raise money for several causes while she dedicates each race to someone specific. A cause of heart indeed!
 
Today, that ‘cause’ for me is my beloved friend Voula, who left this world six months ago, on November 9, 2012, having ‘walked’ on the arduous path of cancer for many years. A month following her passing, I dedicated the Quantum Nicosia Half Marathon to Vou and run in hope for (a cure for) cancer having raised donations and awareness for a local Anti-Cancer Society. In this race of HOPE, I was decked in orange, with an orange sports drink in hand and could not help but smile right through all 21 kms. I was smiling at Vou’s wonderful memories and the legacy she left behind. What’s more, I was touched by friends of heart who acted as volunteers for the race, giving me that extra mental shot while helping me send a joyful cheer up towards those fluffy clouds, on which we agreed Vou was floating on.
 
MahiSolomou
 
 
For Voula’s 6-month anniversary, I wanted to run 6 kms, once again, decked in orange. ‘Why orange?’ you may be wondering. Well, Voula’s favorite character and much-loved hero was Tigger. And, I promised Vou that for as long as I run, Tigger would bounce along by my side. I run, despite the heavy rainfall, and as Voula’s beautiful memories begun to unfold, I smiled, laughed and cried… I reminisced upon her child’s heart, her gracious warrior spirit, her endless humor and contagious laugh and grinned at the thought of Tigger swinging through her fingers. Words from dear friends kept resonating in my ears…
 
‘… an amazing free spirit… a really great person… a friend who knew how to listen, how to stand next to you, how to give… and she was truly giving from her heart. A person who loved hugs and kisses,’ Elena remembers. And then she recalls her laugh: ‘Her laugh was like water coming out of her… a truly noteworthy person whom I will always carry in my heart.’
 
‘People who laugh loudly are not afraid, so you shouldn’t be afraid of them… these people are always open to others… they are spontaneous and creative… people with a boisterous laugh are able to keep a secret… they give you space into their world and are generous with their sentiments,’ a mutual precious friend once said about Vou, adding that ‘a person who laughs hard, keeps his/her sorrow a personal affair and asserts his/her childlike enthusiasm until the very end.’
 
‘How can you ever forget such a distinctive laugh and straightforward outlook towards life!’ another dear friend said.
As the rain washed away my tears, it felt fabulous and liberating as I thought that nothing can wash away the memories and legacy of someone so remarkable!
 
I dedicate this run and its splendid energies to your loving memory and gracious spirit, dearest Vou…

NB: the photo is Voula’s creation from her Fantanimals Collection

carrot hummus… the perfect ‘pick me up’ dip!

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carrotHummus
 
During this fasting period prior to the Greek Orthodox Easter, I was inspired to use colorful ingredients in all my recipes. So, when I came across this super healthy and delicious carrot hummus dip recipe, I tried it once, and with some adaptations to suit my fastidious taste buds, I think that I have finally mastered the technique to create the perfect pick-me up dip and spread!
 
I am pleased to share this extremely simple yet full with flavor recipe.
–       500 g carrots – peeled and cut into chunks–       4 large garlic cloves

–       2 tbsp olive oil

–       2 tbsp lemon juice

–        juice of 1 small orange, zest finely grated

–       6 tbsp tahini

–       sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

–       2 tsp cumin

–       raw celery to decorate

Heat the oven to 200ºC. Put the carrots, garlic and oil in a roasting tin, season and roast for 30-35 minutes or until tender, stirring the carrots halfway through until tender and starting to caramelize.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Add the carrots to a food processor, squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and add these in too. Add the lemon juice, orange juice and zest, tahini* and cumin and blend well until everything has pureed.

Add more lemon juice and seasoning if necessary. Drizzle with a little olive oil and use celery leaves to decorate. Serve the hummus with crudités, pitta bread or use as a sandwich spread.

* Tahini is sesame seed paste. You can buy this at the supermarket, yet you need to add water (a few drops at a time) and stir slowly until it becomes a soft, smooth paste. For this recipe, you will use about 4 tbsp tahini and appr. 2 tbsp water.

PS: The photo was captured through the very artistic eye of my dear friend Thomas Peccini, after he sprinkled the dip with some magic to make it look gorgeous! Thank you Thomas for adding that extra touch of spice!