Forest Bathing

I’m a PNW girl through and through.  Born and raised in the shadow of Mountain Rainier (Mt. Tacoma), soaked in the rain from the puget sound as the clouds drop their load to rise over the Cascades.  I’m not saying I always jump for glee at the sight of another gray, wet day mid January, but I also pout in the summer if the temps raise above 78 degrees.

So here we are in September after a longer and hotter than usual summer.  The weather took a quick shift a couple weeks ago. While the days are still warm, the evenings and mornings are cool and there is a lot less sunshine and even some much missed rain (I know I’ll kick myself for saying that in a few months).

All this is to say, Leif and I (and Sochi) love being outdoors.  Running, walking, gardening, digging, climbing, jumping in puddles and the likes.  This is often done in the ally ways and parks around our urban home.  But once a week or so, I make an effort to drive the 15 minutes to one of our old growth forests we are so blessed to have nearby and spend some time in the forest.  Sochi is thrilled to be off leash–she sprints up and down the path at full speed, stops to sniff, checks out squirrels and greets any passerby with a bum wiggle and plea for a belly rub.  Leif runs, rolls, climbs over “tree fall”, points out moss, birds calling, takes sit breaks in the dirt, whatever his heart leads him to do.  Then there’s mama, who has to make a conscious effort to breathe, to notice, to relax and enjoy…to let go of my do-list, stop looking at my watch or phone and just be in the forest with two beings that love me.

Forest Bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, is a Japanese term that describes just being in the forest and soaking in its mental and physiological healing powers.  Sound hocus-pokesie to you?  There is scientific data that suggests its not a bunch of hippie propaganda.  In fact, research suggests that forest bathing reduces blood pressure, promotes lower concentrations of cortisol  (stress hormones), lowers pulse rate, and promotes greater parasympathetic nerve activity (you chill the F down).

So, maybe, just maybe, you just need some time in the forest?  How can you make this part of your week?  It doesn’t have to be deep into the unknown, even some mindful breathes and gazing at trees and birds in a local park will do wonders!  So, take a break from your desk, go outside and find some trees!

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Pumpkin Coconut Soup

My friend gave me a pumpkin last week and it seemed to be screaming, “PREPARE ME!  PREPARE ME!”  everytime I walked into the kitchen.  So Sunday, I cleared my afternoon to relax and prepare my pumpkin.  Getting it ready for show, was actually quite simple.  I cut it in half, cleaned out the insides, rubbed some olive oil on the open sides and then put them face down in a baking dish. I poured in about 1/2  cup of water and baked that puppy for about 60 minutes at 350.

Once the flesh was nice and soft, I removed it from the oven and let it cool before scooping the insides into a food processor and pureeing it.  I made pumpkin butter with half (recipe to come) and the other half I used for a delicious pumpkin soup.

I tried searching for recipes online but everything called for a million and one ingredients that I didn’t have and did not want to go buy (I had already nearly been eaten alive in Costco earlier–“NO,NO!  I’m not a sample!”…the thought of going back out into the world was just too much).  So, I played around with some ingredients I had on hand, made a quick salad and baked up some bread (dough was waiting in the fridge) and called it a wrap!

Ingredients:

1-1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (baked or from a can)

1/2 cup light coconut milk

1/2-1 cup vegetable broth

3 dashes ginger powder

3 dashes nutmeg

3 dashes cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

cayenne pepper to garnish

Directions:

  • Put everything in a pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes or however long you want!
  • Enjoy!

Happy Eating!  What are you’re favorite fall soups?