Visions of Spring

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As snow blankets the ground outside, we are busy creating our vision for spring. As we enter our 3rd year developing our Sophrosyne oasis, we are trying to build and grow with every passing season. Our figs and pomegranates are in the ground, so we can now shift a little attention over to the vegetables, herbs, flowers, and compost. 

Our hope this year is to further our hugelkultur beds that line the rows of our orchard. Hugelkultur (German for hill culture) has been used for centuries in Europe. It’s a technique where a mound is created with logs, sticks, grass clippings, straw, and other compostable plant material which will eventually breakdown to enrich the soil. The mounds hold moisture as they build fertility and create heat. They can be used as raised beds for growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. We are hoping the mounds provide some warmth for our trees in the winter and this spring we will use them to grow companion plants for the figs and pomegranates — strawberries, nasturtiums, marigolds, zinnias, coreopsis, and herbs like dill, cilantro, parley, and mint. 

We’ve also been researching permaculture and biointensive gardening techniques to grow more economically and sustainably, both in terms of maximizing our resources and regenerating healthy soil. Some of our favorite references right now include: “How to Grow More Vegetables (than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine” by John Jeavons; “The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming” by Jean-Martin Fortier; and “Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture” by Tony Hemenway.

Another new addition will be interspersing flowers into our vegetable garden and orchard. We’ll be trying our hand at dahlias for cut flowers, in addition to nasturtiums, columbine, echinacea, poppies, coleus, cosmos, borage, and sunflowers — for attracting pollinators, repelling unwanted insects, and adding nutrients to the soil. 

Stay tuned to see how our farming adventure progresses as the snow melts and the flowers bloom!



Chocolate Cardamom Zucchini Muffins

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With the abundant crops we get whenever we plant zucchini, we’ve tried it so many different ways and enjoy it all, but one of my favorite baking recipes is this one. I started making these muffins about 10 years ago when the kids were little and I had to send snacks to school. This recipe is deceiving because the muffins look and taste like brownies (so the kids love them) but are relatively low in sugar, are low-fat, vegan, made with whole wheat flour, and sneak in some veggies (so I love them too). Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

6 T. ground flax seed

1/2 c. water

1 2/3 c. sugar

1/2 c. oil

1/2 c. applesauce

1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 t. vanilla

2 c. grated zucchini

3 c. whole wheat pastry flour

1 t. baking soda

1/2 t. baking powder

1 t. salt

1/4 t. each cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, cardamom

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flax and water, let sit for a few minutes to thicken. To flax mix, add sugar, oil, applesauce, cocoa, vanilla — mix well. Add zucchini. In separate bowl, mix remaining dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture. Fill prepared muffin tins to about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from tins and let cool on a rack.



Late Summer Bounty


While we wait for our figs to ripen, we are busy harvesting apples and pears from our parents' trees. While we've been giving away as much as possible, that still leaves us with hundreds that we've been turning into sauces, butters, crumbles, and cakes. Experimenting with different recipes and ingredients to make them all as healthy as possible, we came up with this pear sauce recipe we'd like to share. Hope you enjoy!

Ginger Cardamom Pear Sauce

About 30-40 small pears, chopped (no need to peel)

Juice of 2 lemons

1 c water

1/2 t anise

About 2" fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

1/2 t cardamom

1/2 t nutmeg

1 c honey

Add all ingredients except honey to a large pot, simmer for about an hour, until pears are soft. Remove from heat. Puree in a blender (or with an immersion blender). Allow to cool slightly before stirring in the honey. Store in mason jars in the refrigerator or give as gifts (this recipe filled about 5 jars). Just a few ideas for enjoying this sauce - on its own in a bowl, stirred into oatmeal, on pancakes, over ice cream...



Sophrosyne's Maple Cinnamon Granola

One of our favorite ways to start the day. Mix it up and get creative with the oils, nuts, spices, and fruits that you like best. There's no wrong way to make your granola fantastic!

1/4 c ground flaxseed

6 c old-fashioned oats

2 c sliced almonds

1 c hulled raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 c hulled raw sunflower seeds

3/4 c coconut oil

3/4 c pure maple syrup

2 t vanilla

1 t cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Spread mixture evenly on 2 large baking pans. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let cool on cookie sheets and store in airtight container. We can't really say how long it keeps because we eat it too fast to tell! (But we figure a few weeks anyway). Shana eats her granola with dates, coconut, and almond milk. Jon prefers his with dried cranberries and vanilla yogurt. Let us know your favorite combination!



Sophrosyne's Healthy Holiday Cookie - 2016

Every year we experiment and create a new healthy cookie recipe for the holidays. I gave these out after a yoga class this morning and was actually told by several people that it may be one of the best cookie they've ever eaten! And it's so simple - very few ingredients, easy to make, and appropriate for most special dietary restrictions. Hope you enjoy it!

Almond Coconut Thumbprints

2 1/2 c. almond flour

3/4 c. coconut flour

1 T. baking powder

1/2 t. sea salt

3/4 c. coconut oil

1/2 c. agave nectar

1 t. vanilla

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix liquid ingredients in a small bowl and then add to flour mixture. Roll into 1 inch balls, place on cookie sheet and create a depression using your thumb (or I found my small pestle to work perfectly for this). Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. After baking, you may need to press thumbprint again before filling. Add approximately 1 tsp of filling to the thumbprint. We used a chocolate hazelnut filling (similar to Nutella) and then sprinkled sea salt on top. You could also use a fruit jam of your choice. I think we'll try raspberry next which would be perfect with the almond and coconut flavors. 




Nordic Skiing Equals Family Fun & Fitness this Winter!

Cross country, or Nordic, skiing is a sport that people of all ages and fitness levels can enjoy. It can be purely recreational or highly competitive. Either way, it can provide a healthy cardiovascular workout, burn a load of calories, get you out in the snow to enjoy nature, and bring the whole family together for a day of fun and fitness. 

Fitness-wise, Nordic skiing combines a lower and upper body workout while using every major muscle group in the body. There are both “pushing” and “pulling” actions as you propel yourself forward and other muscles engaging for balance and coordination on the skis. And because it uses so many muscle groups, cross country skiing expends a great deal of energy and can burn more calories than any other form of exercise (600 calories/hour during brisk recreational skiing and up to 1100 calories/hour during vigorous mountaineering). 

Nordic skiing is an excellent aerobic workout that can be sustained for many hours. This long duration strengthens the heart and increases blood flow, strengthens the diaphragm and increases lung capacity, can help to reduce cholesterol, and protect against heart attacks. All of this while getting outside to enjoy the winter sun and boost your Vitamin D! And in case that’s not enough, it’s also one of the safest and lowest impact sports, with very little shock to the hips, knees, and feet as well as little rapid twisting and torqueing. 

On top of the tremendous physical benefits, Nordic skiing takes you away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to enjoy gliding silently through the snowy woods or across an open field, enjoying the sun on your face and a big breath of fresh air. 

Mark your calendars for some snowy fun. In addition to his regular classes, Jon will be teaching ski clinics at the Crested Butte Thanksgiving Nordic Ski Camp November 23-27, 2016 in Crested Butte, Colorado and at the Chama Chile Classic January 14-16, 2017 in Chama, New Mexico. Sophrosyne will also be participating in 2 other amazing events this and every winter – the Alley Loop Nordic Marathon on February 4, 2017 (also in Crested Butte, CO) and the American Birkebeiner on February 25, 2017 in Hayward, WI. Each of these events has clinics and races for kids and adults so everyone in the family can join in.  Hope to see you on the trails!




Reap the Benefits of Yoga on the Wall

Hang like a puppet on a string and reap the benefits that Yoga Kurunta has to offer. Yoga Kurunta (meaning "puppet") uses ropes or straps as a prop to assist in gaining length, strength, balance, alignment, and more ease in yoga postures than would be possible on your own.  The yoga rope wall originated with B.K.S. Iyengar as a way to support and intensify asana practice through the use of ropes tied to a simple window frame, becoming common in homes throughout India. 

There are numerous benefits to practicing yoga on the rope wall:

  • Receive support in balancing poses
  • Gain extension and length in standing poses
  • Enjoy the benefits of inversions without weight on the hands, arms, or head
  • Improve spine health by using traction to relieve pressure or compression of the vertebrae
  • Practice difficult asanas safely and with ease 
  • Release tension in the joints, bringing more freedom of movement to the body
  • Improve circulation and blood flow to the entire body

As Geeta Iyengar stated in A Gem for Women, "By the practice of Yoga Kurunta one gains agility, lightness of the body, speed in movements, and alertness in the brain." So what are you waiting for? Mark your calendars for our new class "Yoga on the Wall" starting Tuesday, October 4, 2016 from 5:15 - 6:30 pm. 



In honor of Earth Day 2015...Dried figs dipped in raw vegan chocolate


A special treat that's good for both you and the planet. Cacao and figs are both superfoods with a number of health benefits, so put them together and you have a healthy snack or dessert with no guilt involved! Cacao and figs are both high in fiber which aids in digestion and weight management. They both may promote cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure. We used it for figs here, but use this chocolate dip to experiment with any other fruits or nuts that sound good to you. 


1/4 c coconut oil, melted

1/2 c raw cacao powder

2 T coconut nectar

2 T pure maple syrup

1/4 t vanilla

Pinch of sea salt

Mix all ingredients until smooth and slather on your fruit of choice. Let harden in refrigerator on a parchment paper-lined plate or cookie sheet. Enjoy!