Meadow Linn is a chef and health/vitality coach who’s been passionate about good food since she was old enough to crawl into the cupboards. She is the founder of The Mystic Chef® training and the co-author of The Mystic Cookbook, which was listed by PBS Food as one of the “Top 5 Cookbooks for the Holidays,” and it inspired a keynote address live to... 3,000 people and streamed worldwide. Meadow’s recipes and articles appear in numerous publications stateside and abroad. www.MeadowLinn.com More

Why Giving from the Heart Can Be So Scary

Samathas-Grilled-greenbeans Why Giving from the Heart Can Be So Scary

What kind things do you think but don’t say? How would your life be different if you expressed your love, desire, and gratitude more often to those closest to you? What do you keep to yourself because it feels too scary to share?

The following is an example of a seemingly insignificant moment that I’ve never forgotten because I chose to be guarded rather than vulnerable. When I was in 11th Grade, a friend and I set off on a late afternoon stroll through some pastures in Vermont. There was a golden hue as the spring day was slowly turning to night, and I remember looking at my friend and thinking how beautiful she looked. However, instead of sharing from my heart and telling her what I saw, I bit my tongue and said nothing. How strange to be too shy to extend a compliment, but this happens more frequently than you might think.

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Keeping the Balance

Keeping the Balance Keeping the Balance

Recently I was hanging out with a friend who’s the poster child for “woe is me.” According to him, no one works as hard for as little and everyone else’s life is better, easier, and more fun. The more time I spent with him, the more I began to notice myself falling into this thought form as well. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we tend to mirror those around us.

Since my “woe is me” friend talks incessantly about how busy he is, how everyone he hires fails him in some way, and how everyone else seems to “have it made,” he misses the opportunity to see what’s around him and recognize the many blessings in his life. Interestingly, I’ve noticed the people whom my friend believes “have it made” tend to work hard, but they have the ability to slow down enough to find joy and beauty wherever they are, no matter what they’re doing. Henri Matisse said, “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” There’s always something to marvel at, but we have to be willing to slow down and look.

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Mindfulness on the Mountain: Spring Rolls

Mindfulness on the Mountain: Spring Rolls Mindfulness on the Mountain: Spring Rolls

As I swallowed my last sip of tea, the leader of our group hike announced that it was departure time. Like horses at the racetrack when the gates open, the hikers in my group hit the trail with a jolt. It was barely daybreak, but they were already swiftly moving, chatting, and increasing their gait at a rapid pace.

 

Having just rolled out of bed, I was still having difficulty focusing my eyes, let alone taking deep enough breaths to fill my lungs with oxygen. I huffed and puffed as the burn began to grow in my thighs. Already overheating, I stopped to remove my fleece shirt. By this time, the swiftly moving hikers were already far ahead and the slower few passed me as I tugged my shirt over my head.

 

A few years ago this would have concerned me greatly. I had a thing about always being in the front.

 

I’m not as fit as I used to be, so it’s much more difficult for me to be at the front; however, I’ve also learned a valuable lesson about slowing down. It’s not always necessary to race to the end. There can be great value in being more mindful and reveling in the journey.

 

So, on that dark morning, instead of sprinting to the finish line, I got to breathe in my surroundings, feel the morning air on my cheek, and see the colors of the sunrise. For a while I hiked alone, which offered me an opportunity to think, which is something I don’t always make time for in my daily life. And when I met up with another hiker, we ended up having a delightful conversation about mindfulness, which seemed to be a nod from the Universe.

 

Letting go of my need to be the lead trail horse was not easy; sometimes I still find myself worrying that others will think less of me, but when I see how enriched my life can be when I take time to go more slowly and savor what’s around me, I know I’m on the right path.

 

Do you ever find yourself pushing so hard to reach a destination that you miss the journey? What do you do because you fear the judgments of others? What steps can you take to bring more mindfulness into your life?

 

 

Fresh Spring Rolls for Mindfulness

 

Nothing says, “spring isn’t too far away” quite like spring rolls…the name says it all! Not only are they delicious, but also they’re fun to make. There is something meditative about rolling them. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Cucumbers, micro greens, pea shoots, bean sprouts, red bell pepper are all tasty additions. Flavored tofu can be used in place of the shrimp. As you work with each ingredient, take time to really see it. How does it look, smell, feel, sound, and taste?

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Secret to a Great Life: Getting What You Need, Not What You Want

Secret to a Great Life: Getting What You Need, Not What You Want

What in your life is exactly as you planned? What is completely different?

 

Never in a million years would my 22 year-old-about-to-graduate-from-college self have imagined my present life. She would’ve fallen out of her chair laughing if you’d told her she’d miss her 15-year reunion because she’d be speaking on a spirituality cruise to Alaska. Or, that she’d be making plans to have a child on her own. That pearl-wearing, Camus-reading girl would’ve thought you were making it up.

 

It’s rare that we end up doing what we think we’ll do. Each step puts us on a slightly different trajectory. And, as we get older, we grow and change, and our priorities adjust as we become increasingly more ourselves.


In the words of the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need.” I didn’t get what I thought I wanted when I graduated college, but I got exactly what I needed. And for that, I am truly grateful.

 

When in your life did you get what you needed instead of what you wanted? In what ways has this shaped who you are? Although it can feel antithetical to moving forward, as often as you can, take time to be grateful for all the missed turns in your life, because they may have actually been keeping you on your true path. It’s easy to feel regret. Gratitude can be much harder, but the things we regret are often the things that helped shape us and make us who we are today.

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YES! Coconut Chia Pudding with Pineapple Gelée

Soul-Spring-Coconut-Chia-Pudding

What if you said, “yes” to every invitation, request, and opportunity? What if instead of spending time and energy making excuses and avoiding people and experiences, you simply said, “yes”?

 

This is the premise of a Jim Carrey movie called Yes, Man. His character avoids his friends and says “no” to everything. However, after being dragged to a self-help workshop, he makes an oath to say, “yes” to everything. From there we see how his life begins to unfold.

 

By saying “yes,” he opens himself to an entirely new world filled with fun, joy, and adventure. By the end, however, he learns the important difference between saying yes because he wants to and saying it because he thinks he has to. “No” is an equally powerful word. Being genuine and authentic and saying “no” when that’s what you mean is vital to living a balanced life.

 

You can say “Yes!!” to this dessert. It’s delicious, easy to make, and pretty darn healthy as far as desserts go.

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How to Experience Increased Joy and Wonder Sweet and Sour Beet Soup

beetsoup

Do you feel lonely at times and wish you could share special moments? Have you ever remarked on the beauty of a rainbow, only to discover there’s no one there to hear your gasps of delight? Do you sometimes get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day that you forget to notice little glimmers of magic, and do you sometimes feel too overwhelmed and stressed to appreciate the simple joys of being alive?

 

A number of years ago I was supposed to fly to Vietnam with my parents, but due to some airline mishaps, I ended up getting separated from them and had to make the approximately 36-hour journey by myself. Since I’d been expecting to travel with my parents, I hadn’t paid much attention to the ins-and-outs of getting to our destination.

 

When I mentioned my anxiety to my friend, Kyla, she suggested I imagine a small version of her keeping me company and pointing out all the cool and wondrous things along the way. My shoulders began to relax and my breath deepened as I realized that this solo journey could actually be fun.

 

Just before embarking on the first leg of the trip, I put a small heart-shaped rose quartz in my pocket and decided to call it “Mini-Kyla.” I liked the idea of having a physical object to represent my imagined companion.

 

What had started simply as a way to find pleasure in a long overseas flight became a wonderful new habit. The rose quartz is now in my pocket every day. If I’m in a bit of an uncomfortable situation, I gently touch the outside of my jeans pocket, and I feel its love and support. And, if I’m watching a particularly glorious sunset, somehow it feels as though it’s also sharing in my joy. But, most importantly, having the stone in my pocket reminds me to enjoy and appreciate simply being alive. It’s so easy to get caught up in work or family commitments and forget to cherish the beauty of our breath and the rhythm of our beating heart.

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Conquering Mountains: Triumph Trail Mix

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There are some things we do because we know they work, like exercising and brushing our teeth. There are other things we do simply on faith. Prayer is one of those things.

 

A number of years ago I was chaperoning a group of teenagers on a cycling trip through the Swiss Alps. The route was beyond my skill and physical fitness level. And, it didn’t help that I was also recovering from the flu. As my legs grew increasingly fatigued, the distance between the nearest student and my puttering bike grew like a deep chasm.

 

The mountain stretched in front of me as far as my eye could see. Up. Up. Up. My thighs burned, my breathing was labored, and tears were threatening to stain my cheeks. In a fit of utter hopelessness, I began to pant under my breath, “Please help. Please help me.”

 

Since we were riding through military land, only bicycles and official vehicles were allowed on this desolate stretch of road, but I had yet to even see a vehicle. To my sheer amazement and delight, a few minutes later, a Jeep drove by. My jaw nearly fell to the ground. Although totally enamored with my good fortune, I was too embarrassed to flag it down. This was not uncommon for me at that time in my life. On a number of occasions, my prevailing shyness had prevented me from actualizing my heart’s content and speaking my truth.

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Clean Your Kitchen, Change Your Life

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Earlier this week, I spent two whole days cleaning every nook and cranny in my home. I organized the cupboards, got rid of expired food, found new homes for items I no longer use, and I even scrubbed all the cabinet doors in my kitchen and laundry room. After exhausting so much time and energy bringing the sparkle back into my home, you’d better believe I was hovering over the stove, sponge in hand, the moment the cranberry sauce bubbled over. And, I’ve been following the dog and cats around like a hawk picking up the chunks of hair that they seem to leave everywhere.

 

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Do Unto Others… Recipe for Broccoli and Apple Soup

Broccoli and Apple Soup

Although the Golden Rule is not a new idea, I’m still awed by it. Years ago while dining in Washington DC, there was an unexpected interlude between courses that was just as wonderful as the food. The experience reminded me that the more trusting I am, the more others will trust me and vice versa.

 

A friend and I were having dinner at Restaurant Nora, the first certified organic restaurant in America. We decided to go all out and get the 4-course tasting menu. It was a big splurge, but it was my birthday. The manager assured us that if we placed our order quickly, we’d be able to finish in time to make it to the Kennedy Center where we had tickets for the symphony.

 

Suddenly, however, it was 20 minutes to eight and we hadn’t yet had dessert. The manager, Jack, appeared at our side. He told us we should leave if we wanted to make the concert. I asked if we could settle our bill first, but he said we needed to hurry. He told us to enjoy the show and come back afterward for dessert and drinks. We could pay then. He trusted us to walk away from a sizeable bill.

 

True to our word, we hurried back to Nora as soon as the performance ended. We had a delicious dessert, and were even treated to sauternes wine on the house. We paid our bill and left knowing we’d had a magical evening.

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Eat What You Love and Love What You Eat

Eat What You Love and Love What You Eat

Many years ago, my boyfriend (at the time) and I were invited to dinner at the home of his friends. The conversation was good, but no matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t enjoy the food on my plate. What struck me about this meal was its emptiness. It was devoid of joy and bland in flavor and vitality.

 

The couple that had kindly asked us into their home was accustomed to an all-American diet, but a doctor had recently told the husband he needed to make a change. So, the cupboards were stripped of snack foods and the fridge was filled with “health foods,” such as turkey bacon, egg whites, and low-fat cream cheese.

 

This couple wanted to be healthy, but they didn’t know how to change their habits. So, they chose poor substitutes for the foods they were accustomed to eating, and they assumed that eating healthy foods meant that they would forever be relegated to dull meals. There was no joy in the food because they felt no joy in this new way of eating.

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The Gold Star Experiment

Meadow-Linn-Gingerbread-cover-pic

When I was a schoolteacher, I carpooled with a woman who went to the gym every day, rain or shine.

 

I’m not like that.

 

Actually, I enjoy exercise, but it just takes a lot to motivate me. Justification for not doing it flows from me with the ease of water breaking through a poorly built dam. It’s too cold, too hot, too late, too early. I’m too hungry, too full, too busy, too tired.

 

When I was teaching French to elementary school-aged children, I used a reward system that worked incredibly well. Every student got a gold star for the day if they made an effort to speak French. It was remarkable to see how hard they worked for this seemingly small token.

 

I wondered if I could apply this same tactic to my own life. So began my Gold Star Experiment.

 

On the first of the month I posted a calendar on my fridge. Each day contains the words “Exercise” and “Vitamins.” I made it simple because I knew if I set my expectations too high there would be a greater chance I wouldn’t follow through. The goal: take vitamins and do something active every day, no matter how small.

 

Keeping track of each day is very helpful. Otherwise, I have a tendency to put things off until tomorrow. But then tomorrow becomes another tomorrow and so on. This way I’m accountable every single day. To sweeten the deal, I promised myself a gift if I received 31 gold stars in the month.

 

The experiment was a success. It seems…Gold stars aren’t just for children!

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4 Ways to Make the Holidays Blessed Instead of Stressed

4 Ways to Make the Holidays Blessed Instead of Stressed

The Holidays are a time to gather with friends and family and give thanks for the many blessings in your life. However, this can also be a stressful time. Family knows exactly how to push your buttons, which doesn’t always bring out your best self. There are a million and one ways that this time of year can be challenging; however, there are just as many ways that it can be a magical time, filled with fun and laughter.

 

Here are my top four tips for getting the most out of this season. These simple exercises will help you remain cheery and upbeat, no matter what chaos there is around you.

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Savor Your Food, Savor Your Life

savoringfood

Eat Slowly, Connect to Your Soul Purpose

It may seem surprising, but you really can eat your way to a deliciously enlightened life! When we think of a spiritual path, we often envision meditation, yoga, fasting, chanting, or prayer. We don’t usually consider our everyday meals as a potential gateway to mystical transformation. Yet, the food you eat and your approach to it can be one of the most powerful pathways to spiritual renewal.

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Dream Big: Allow for the Limitless Possibility of Your Potential

DreamBig

 

Climb high
Climb far
Your goal the sky
Your aim the star
 
~Inscription at Williams College, my alma mater

 

Are you playing small? Are you dreaming big enough to reach your fullest potential? What if Oprah had only dreamed of an afternoon book club with her closest friends? What if Steve Jobs had never believed in the possibility of a handheld device that could connect us with the world? And, what if Gandhi had only hoped for friendship among a few people?

 

What could you do? Who could you become? And what gifts could you share with the world if you allowed for the limitless possibility of your own potential?

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Count Your Blessings

Count Your Blessings - Dip

While preparing Christmas Eve dinner a few years ago I sliced the tip of my finger on a sharp blade. Although it wasn’t a particularly bad cut, it was deep. I wrapped it tightly and went outside to catch the final rays of evening light. While I was sitting on the porch, feeling sorry for myself, a neighbor popped over. As we chatted over the fence, I held my finger in my palm and grumbled about having cut myself. After offering me a pair of latex gloves so I could continue making dinner, he told me that he’d had a difficult few days. A close friend of his family, a woman with four children, had died in a tragic accident.

 

The weight of his story sunk in deep. I kept picturing the children without their mother on Christmas, or any future Christmases. In an instant, the life of this family had been irrevocably changed.

 

I returned to my house with a heavy heart. I felt deeply for my neighbor and the family dealing with this awful tragedy, but I realized that my sadness wouldn’t serve anyone in that moment. My sorrow would never bring back the wife and mother, nor would it put their family back together. The only thing I had control over was my feelings. I could continue to feel sad, or I could say a prayer for the family and make a greater effort to appreciate every moment. And, so that’s what I did.

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Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, and naturally sweetened)

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Anyone who has ever been on a rollercoaster with me will tell you that I’ll scream until I’m blue in the face. But, what they don’t know is that the uphill section is often the scariest part for me. Going up in a rollercoaster, I hold my breath, clench my jaw, and repeat over and over again, “oh no oh no oh no!” That’s when my muscles are the tensest and I feel my heart beat the fastest. After so much buildup, screaming on the downhill is a fun, cathartic release.

What if rollercoasters were all downhill with none of the uphill? Would we react the same way? Sometimes anticipation is necessary to building excitement. Waiting for these cookies to bake and smelling their heavenly aroma makes that first bite—of warm chocolate mixed with crunchy nuts and chewy oats—even better.
 

Ever since going gluten free, I’ve been craving a cookie with a cookie-like texture. Many GF cookies are crumbly or overly soft, but these (in my opinion) are perfect. Plus, they have lots of good things in them. Coconut flour is full of fiber and almond meal is packed with protein.

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Rainy Day Soup

Rainy Day Soup

Last night I dreamed I was applying to universities and had been rejected from every single one. However, hidden underneath the pile of rejection letters, I found a small envelope offering me a free ride to a school in the Caribbean, even though I hadn’t even applied. In my dream, when I went to visit the tropical island that was home to the university, I inhaled the scent of plumeria and heard the gentle sea breeze rustling the palm fronds, and I realized that sometimes what we least expect far surpasses what we plan for.

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“In the Flow” Apple Pancakes (Gluten- and Dairy-Free)

“In the Flow” Apple Pancakes (Gluten- and Dairy-Free)

I nearly ran out of gas this morning. The orange light glared at me from the dashboard with its menacing, ominous glow. There’s a gas station just a couple blocks from my house, but I’d left my purse at a friend’s home, and there wasn’t enough fuel in my car to retrieve it. So, I ransacked my bedroom looking for cash, but apparently I’d already spent my “in case of emergency” stash. Then, I overcooked my eggs and tripped on the dog’s food.

Although there are myriad causes for feeling out-of-sorts, it can be valuable to ask yourself: “Am I stressed?” Often when I feel like the world is imploding around me and nothing seems to be going right, the root cause is stress. Once I acknowledge that my life doesn’t actually suck; I’m just feeling overwhelmed, I can find a way to change my state. It might feel unproductive to take time away from your busy day, but when I’m in a good mood and feeling relaxed, I’m both more joyful and more productive. Spending time outdoors seems to help me the most, but I’ve also found that exercising, cleaning the house, or meeting a friend for a meal can get me out of my head. In many ways, it’s like hitting the “restart” button on the computer.

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Grain-Free Maple Pumpkin Muffins

Grain-Free Maple Pumpkin Muffins

 

Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Naturally-Sweetened

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End of Summer Raw Heirloom Pasta Sauce

End of Summer Raw Heirloom Pasta Sauce

This sauce is the epitome of late summer. Before we head into fall—the season of apples and pumpkins—grab onto those last few tastes of summer with this fresh and vibrant sauce. It’s best made with summer heirloom tomatoes (the more colorful the better!); however, you can also use “regular” tomatoes.

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