Journey to the East

China. The Middle Kingdom. Zhongguo (中國/中国.) A land of 1.3 billion people. One of the oldest nations on the planet. ‘China’ possibly comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Chinasthana’ (the country East of India.) Or from the Qin (‘Chin’) kingdom. Either way the name has been around for thousands of years, long before the First Qin Emperor (259 – 210 BCE) unified China.

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It’s been 10 years since I’ve been in the Middle Kingdom, and I’m sure what to expect. My last trip was deeply humbling. Back then most of the time I was travelling alone, and although I stayed at hostels, ate street food, and bought little, I felt I didn’t really to get see what China had to offer.

I was younger than. My entertainment was wandering through parks and public areas, watching elder women do Tai Chi in the tiny patches of grass at 4:30am. Hanging with the calligraphy master who painted detailed characters with a water brush on the pavement, which evaporated as the sun rose over the dusty Beijing streets. I always took that strange-looking alley, or wandered into the noodle shop that appeared to be in the back of someone’s ramshackle home. I also kept a sketchbook, and camera handy.

Between trying to learn enough Mandarin phrases to order vegetarian food, doing sword Tai Chi in the parks in Shanghai, wandering the choked dusty, bustling streets of Beijing, teaching Art History to a class of 75 students (many who barely spoke English,) and meeting renowned calligraphy artists in HangZhou, and taking hundreds of photos along the way it was a great tour of what a developing country could be. As I drew and documented my trip, I began to feel lonely. So much so that at one point I completely cut myself off from everyone back home. I wound up getting Shanghai’d (literally stranded in a seedy town, where I ran out of money and lost my more expensive possessions, including my camera.) But I learned at that time to trust in nature, and once I made it back home, I decided my relationships were far more valuable than I’d accepted.

I had no idea what my return to china would look like. But one thing was for certain, I know this time it will be amazing. This time I have good friends. This time I have a team who has my back.

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Meet the team. From the left is Jennifer Kumer, Hong Kong native-millennial-vegan-chef-designer-founder and my girlfriend. Then myself. Next is MarQ Chavez, Entrepreneurial-visionary-hippie-traveler and yogic scientist. Then finally is the jewelry-making-songstress-tarot-reading-love-advocate, Jenny Sammons. Together we form the WealthLand Collab. We share a vision of empowering like-minded individuals to engage, collaborate, and assist one another in achieving fulfillment in all business, leisure, and spiritual aspects of life.

Now I’m the not type to make promises, but I did promised that on this trip, I would support my team as best I can. If I get overwhelmed, I can always blog about it here, where at least my thoughts will be free from my skull.

So after saying goodbye to our humble home base, we crammed our 50lbs suitcases, extra warm clothes, and plenty of dried fruit (score +1 costco abundance) for gifts to our Chinese allies, and hit the road.

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Burlington Regional Airport is in arguably the best and cheapest way to get to Chicago from Fairfield, IA. The airline employees are efficient, accomadating, and never seem to put up a fuss for all the weirdness that us holistic life practicioners put them through (ever try to bring Ghee on a plane? Don’t.)

This time was no different as the flight security officers were fascinated by our faraway destination. The tone became serious once they saw the 12 large suitcases waiting to be weighed. After doing some yoga (triangle poses + yoga squats,) I rejoined the crew, and was ready to board. We walked towards the little airline on the runway, and I had a feeling that we were a band getting ready for an international tour.

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The flight was smooth as silk. We all got some good meditation in, and kept mostly to ourselves for the duration of the trip. To me traveling is like good food, you have to really pay attention to each moment, or you won’t properly digest it. Our pilot mentioned his son was living in China, and wished us well on our epic journey. We exited the little cab of the plane onto the windswept runway of O’Hare.

O’Hare Airport. Once known as the busiest airport in the world and voted “Best Airport in North America” for 10 years running. It’s also one of the most diverse airports I’ve even been through. I often get some of my best people sketching, catching them as they catch naps, jack into their devices, or chat away with their travel companions. Plus there’s a sweet Yoga room, (located at the Mezzanine Level of the Terminal 3 Rotunda, near the Urban garden sanctuary.)

After a strange encounter with a lost Hong Kong residency card, we tried to come up with alternate solutions. Strangely the liason took the card without realizing it. So much for our free time. Luckily the security checkpoint was less eventful. With only a half hour before our flight arrived, we’d have to hustle to grab whatever foodstuffs we could find. Since I begame a vegan in 2012, I’ve found surprising amount of food options in airports. I usually go for the fruit, protein bars, or hot oatmeal (if available,) but I’ve lately been surprised by the emerging green restaraunts that support my dietary needs.

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Note: Make sure to check out the Argo Tea at the Terminal 3 rotunda, and try the matcha latte with coconut milk. I highly recommend the spiced raw ginger bar thingy (So nice! So spice!)

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After we were well fed, we met up with the remaining members of our crew. Teddy, our Mandarin-speaking-guitar-slinging-entertainer-extraordinaire, and Felipe Gentle, eco-philosopher, ecologist, and bandjo-weilding-musician. After breaking the ice with some introductions, we joined the extensive cue for our Beijing-bound flight. I was nervous about the extensive 13 hours sitting down, and was in no hurry to board so I led a brief Yoga class (wrist rolls + yoga hops + cross crawls) with our team.

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The airline was full, but after seeing the faces of the airline attendants, and how people were already beginning to settle in, I relaxed a bit. After all we were off to a distant land, where you can taste the strangest foods, learn to speak one of the most difficult languages, smell the aroma of the pine forest, or the burning sewage of the big city, see the skyline change each day and experience 1.3 billion people living, working and playing together. I’m ready to experience a brand new China.

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WL Collab Mission: To live, work and play together.

“Let us be together, let us eat together, let us be radiating truth, radiating the light of life, never shall we denounce anyone, never entertain negativity.” – The Upanishads

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The Miracle Mystery Mulberry

The Mulberry is well known. Almost everyone can identify the branches laden with purple pods, the shimmering green leaves, and the deep purple carpet of fallen fruit, welcoming us to join in the festivities. Many times I have watched birds take flight from the deciduous trees, their beaks full of bounty. I remember walking down the sidewalk in summer trying to dodge the pattern of purple on the pavement. But as common as these trees are, they contain a mystery. Is the mulberry another tasty pitstop? Or an overlooked super food? Even the nursery rhyme seems to down play this wonder plant. “Here we go ’round the mulberry bush?” Their saplings are kinda scrappy, but make no mistake this is no “bush” that goes the distance in terms of health benefits.
Berry Blessing

There are three types of mulberry tree; The white mulberry native to east/central China. The black mulberry native to west Asia, and the red mulberry native to the eastern USA. They are of the Morus fruit family, which is the main food source for silkworms.

When ripe, these purple pods resemble a dark red gem, and are sweeter the higher you go. When examined closely your bound to find some bugs. But never fear! Bugs are a valuable source of protein, and their caloric content is not to be neglected.

Berry Select

Historically the mulberry has been used to treat weakness, fatigue, anemia, to calm the nerves, balance internal secretions and nourish the yin and blood (commonly used in China as a blood tonic.) The leaves alone contain a wide variety of proteins, polyphenols, flavonoids, steroids, triterpenes, vitamins and minerals (including ascorbic acid and beta carotene.) The leaf can be made into a tea which contains 1-Deoxynojirimycin (or DNJ.) Mulberry leaves are polymorphic, (there can be 3 different shapes on a single branch.) Making a tea from the leaves has a powerful antioxidant effect, lowers cholesterol and reduces inflammation. 

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The berries are sweet when ripe, but actually develop a more robust flavor when dried. They pack a range of photo-nutrients such as polyphenol, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins like Riboflavin (B-2), B-6, niacin, folic acid and vitamin K.) Also they contain potassium, manganese and magnesium and reservatol which protects against stroke, and reduces blood pressure. They are an excellent source of vitamin A, C, and E and protects us from free radicals. Mulberries are also an excellent source of iron, which is rare among berries. Not to mention, healthy carbohydrates which make up 90 of the calorie content. At 2.4 grams of fiber (10% daily dose) 2.6 mg of iron, 1.3 grams of sugar, and 51 grams of Vitamin C these berries are more than meets the eye.

The best way to harvest them is bring a tarp, bowl, or jar, take hold of a branch and begin shaking. “It’s a lot like getting to know your neighbor. The friendlier your handshake, the more they’ll have a good first impression.” –Sascha Kyssa, Creative Director, Founder, Naturewise Academy.

Berry Bowl

So next time you find yourself in the presence of this amazing tree, remember to “go ’round the mulberry tree,” and let your body do what it came to do. Sing, dance and celebrate with a mouthful of miracle mystery mulberries.

© Morehead Media 2015

Making Ghee

Ghee: The golden ingredient

Ghee (clarified butter) has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years for its health-promoting properties.

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Ghee is the king of the unctuous substances, and when taken by itself or combined with herbs (as administered by your doctor) can treat a variety of disorders.

Ghee benefits: Promotes memory, intellect, digestive power, semen, Ojas, Kapha, and builds good fat. It alleviates Våta, Pitta, intoxication, insanity, consumption, and fever.

One of the best features of this royal substance is it´s rich in butyric acid, a short- chain fatty acid that nourishes the cells of the intestines. Good digestion and good health go hand in hand, and ghee acts as a kind of lubricant for your gut, preparing it for whatever substance you choose to ingest.

Ask your nutritionist about using ghee in balance with other oils in your diet. Personally I prefer ghee to all oils, and use it in every stage of food preparation. From sautéing herbs, to starting a stir fry, to spreading on toast or pancakes. Obviously the quality of the ghee is directly proportional to the quality of butter, so organic is a must.

G.S. For an even more robust flavor you can also use goat, sheep or yak butter! Bah-Ram-Ewe!

Warning: Ghee requires your absolute full focus. Turn off your phone, set aside your laundry for later. Let your ghee making take you on a journey.

Preparation time: Less than 15 minutes. 

1. Place 1 or more pounds (0.45 kg) of unsalted butter in a deep stainless steel pan on medium-high heat.

2. Make sure the butter doesn’t scorch while melting. 

3. When the butter fully melts a whitish colored foam forms on the surface (listen for those crackling-simmer-sounds!)

4. Notice the bubbles become larger and fewer, and the color becomes a rich golden hue.

 

 

5. When the water fully evaporates from the butter, tiny bubbles rise from the bottom of the pan, as the milk solids separate.

6. Smell fresh popcorn? That means it’s close.

7. Caramelization at the surface that means it’s done. Swiftly remove the pan from the stovetop. (Make haste or the Ghee can burn.)

8.Set your ghee aside on the countertop to cool.

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9.While warm, strain ghee through a fine sieve or cotton cloth into a clean, dry container (place metal utensil in glass jar to keep from breaking.)

Jai Ho! If sealed in a sterilized jar, ghee stays fresh at room temperature for a solid month.

Fun Fact: Ghee melts when it’s warm and solidifies when it’s cool.

Note: Ghee is temperamental and should never be left unattended during this process.

Buckwheat Banana Chai Bread

I know what your thinking, banana bread gone vegan? What’s next, omelettes without eggs? But the real question is; can you turn overripe banana’s and alternative flour into something as good as your grandmother used to make? You be the judge, but remember the laws of the jungle are sometimes harsh. Don’t take my word for it, try this recipe and if the whole household isn’t swinging to the kitchen, or making monkey sound by the time the sweet smell hits your nose, you can send me to jungle court.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk (the canned stuff is creamier.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamon (or chai spice.)
  • 1/4 cup almond/peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon real salt
  • 1 hand full of seeds

Step-by-step:

Preheat oven to 350º

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In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder/soda, coconut milk, cream, and oil.IMG_4724

Ooo. Custardy.

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Mash bananas in a separate bowl (or pan.)

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Add bananas to mixture and stir with ape-like force.

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Spread mixture into container and sprinkle with seeds.

Banana Batter Better

Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, then remove from oven and set on windowsill/countertop to cool.

Invite hungry monkeys over and serve with yogurt, cream, honey drizzle and maybe even fresh fruit. That’s Bananas!