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Natural Awakenings Healthy Living Magazine

Simple Summer Pleasures

July is a time to slow down and savor this all-too-short season we call summer. It’s the perfect opportunity to reconnect to that which lives within us, so consider spending the day in quiet contemplation or working in your garden connected to nature. Just being outside and breathing in the fresh air has many beneficial effects on our body, mind and spirit. I find it one of the most natural and calming places for me to get quiet, reflect and make clear that which is truly important to me.

      This month’s feature, “The Healthy Food Movement,” is an important mile marker for consumers throughout the country as the growth of sustainable natural products is far outpacing that of conventional packaged goods. Farmers markets are bouncing back, and a wide range of innovative solutions are being pursued by e-commerce entrepreneurs.

            People are realizing that the best solutions to the world’s biggest challenges aren’t likely to come from centralized political or financial institutions caught up in their own agendas, but from ordinary people working together in creative ways to effect change in their local communities. They are looking for more ways to simplify their lives and become more self-reliant by planting their own gardens. I am so pleased our garden is off to a good start this year and there is nothing like fresh veggies straight from the yard. We’re hoping for a great yield to be able to can 50 jars of tomatoes, 25 jars of jalapenos and 25 jars of sauerkraut to get through the cold winter months.

            Cooking and eating is a natural time to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life. Food has a special way of bringing families together; ours always seems to draw closer when the house is filled with mouthwatering smells emanating from my kitchen. When we all sit down together and it’s quiet, I feel the most content knowing everyone is enjoying and being nurtured by homemade food I cooked from scratch.

            Once confined to a vase on the table, flowers today are finding their way into our food, adding fun flavors and colors to all sorts of dishes. Pansies and violets can be frozen into ice cubes and nasturtiums, with their peppery flavor, add pop to a salad, while wild violets and chive blossoms add bold color and flavor to vinegar. Learn more in “Flower Power” with pretty and interesting recipes to try.

            Years ago, the tinkling bell of an approaching ice cream truck was a highlight of hot summer days, with little thought given to the abundant sugar and unwelcome additives. Kids today can enjoy the same thrill in the kitchen using DIY recipes made with fresh fruits and other organic ingredients. Try out the recipes for rainbow fruit kabobs and mixed berry pops that everyone is sure to love.

            As children, most of us can remember having the glorious ability to do absolutely nothing of practical significance, but somewhere along the way we were convinced that we must earn each day of our very existence. Unplugging ourselves from that demand and watching the clouds float by brings us back to our breath and aligns us with our true north. We encourage you to take time to kick off your shoes and just relax a bit this summer.

For the love of freedom and to a natural way of better living,

Happy Birthday America!