Monday, January 23, 2012

The Yoga of Mindful Baking | Grounding Exercise

“You know what I love about cooking? … I love that after a day when nothing is sure—and when I say ‘nothing’ I mean nothing!—you can come home and absolutely know that if you add eggs yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. It’s such a comfort.” - Amy Adams as Julie in Julie & Julia 

This quote came to mind today as I was baking soda cupcakes (details later) as a mindfulness practice. Today has been quite an ordeal. I received a phone call at 5:30 am that a close family member had an emergency, and I was asked to help. I'm on the west coast. She's on the east cost. But luckily, in today's world, this didn't pose much of an obstacle. 

She's safe for now. I can sleep well knowing that. I won't get into all of the details, but she's decided to trust that she is more valuable, loved, and supported than she may have previously believed. She's taken a big step in her life, and I am so blessed and proud to be a part of it. At the same time, I'm really stressed. When I was little, she had gone through a similar crisis that lasted for years, and I was a helpless child. The resources that exist today were not in place back then. I still suffer from time to time with PTSD symptoms over the incidents of the past, and her present situation jolted me. But it's not about me. It's about her. 

I decided to not get carried away by the pain of the past by grounding myself in the present, which ultimately led me to be able to be more effective in supporting her while also taking care of myself. How did I do this? I baked. 

Not completely from scratch, though I did experiment with a fun and unusual variation on cupcakes. I recently read that you can take any box of cake mix, add to it a 12 oz. can of soda, mix, bake as direct,and voila, yummy cupcakes. I decided to give it a try. I loved that since the soda replaced all of the wet ingredients, including the eggs, the raw batter could be enjoyed without worry. (It was yummy by the way and is a vegan-friendly version for my vegan friends!) 

My only 2 Cupcake Ingredients: Pillsbury Cake Mix and Blue Sky Free Cola (made with Stevia)

I mixed the ingredients. I lined the muffin tins with paper liners. I scooped the batter into the liners, one by one. I placed the tray into the preheated oven and set the timer. As I waited, I mixed some reduced fat cream cheese with Splenda and vanilla extract with my mixer until fluffy and until it tasted a little bit sweet. Then, I sat on the stairs and waited. 

The batter, free of raw eggs, was incredibly yummy!

Frosting made with just low-fat cream cheese, Splenda, and Vanilla Extract

When they were finally done, I pulled them out to cool, and I stood on the stairs and waited. Once cooled, I frosted them, put them in the fridge, and waited. Step by step. Details by detail. 

Yes. These cupcakes taste as scrumptious and fudgy and dense as they look!

About an hour after I had begun the process, I was eating - and thoroughly enjoying - one of the best cupcakes I'd had in a while. It felt very satisfying. Though I didn't make them completely from scratch (though, let's face it- all the Pillsbury Dough Boy did was combine my dry ingredients for me) I didn't just pick them up from the bakery either.

My cupcakes. Not pretty, but delicious. If I want to make it to Cupcake Wars, I'd better buy a piping bag and get some skills. :)

I grounded myself in the experience, right in this present moment. The movie quote at the beginning of this post was in my mind. I knew that I could take comfort in the fact that if I baked, step by step, I could count on the results. Even in taking the risk by using the soda, all turned out well. I may not be able to control everything around me...but I can bake.

What kind of activities can you engage in to ground yourself during times of stress? What has worked in the past? What is something new that you may try?

A pretty chocolate cupcake



  1. They look yummy ima gonna try. I make jewelry or decoupage stuff. I use to decoupage or stencil anything that had a surface. Lol. Even the beams in my living room. I have settled down a lot so nothing has been painted stenciled or decoupage in a while. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm *debbie *

  2. Yet another amazing blog, that inspires the readers and touches them. I love the way you have highlighted the importance of compassion, empathy but how it all culminates from "Self" - Thats the Advaita philosophy -"Aham Brahmasmi" - lots of hugs & love, Priya

  3. You have a way with words sweetie. Sometimes a hug is just a hug, other times it means sooo much more. This is one of those "other" times. *HUG*


  4. Amazing, to show that as important as it is to take care of the emergency, to remember to take a step back and collect your thoughts and take care of yourself (just as important). Thank you for sharing this, and I look forward to trying this recipe. I love to read or paint when I need. Thanks so much for sharing, you have an amazing way with words, and it shows your loving and caring heart nancy

  5. Well done, and what an interesting idea. i crochet. or knit or cook something stewey either vegan, veggie or omnivorous, depending on what i have and who i want to share with. having said that, can't do that stuff if i am very down.


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