Zaira from Venice, the power of self care and vegan lemon cookies

I like how every person we meet can teach us something. I think, specially our friends and family can teach us a whole lot!:)

My dear venetian friend Zaira visited me in Norway. We spent a week in each others immediate presence, filled it with many precious moments, innovative foods and small adventures. We learnt from each other, changed perspectives, got inspired. We became closer and hopefully wiser.:)

So, who is Zaira Zarotti? If I close my eyes and use my inner sight, I see a beautiful creative woman with eyes of a child and rich hair which seems to have no end. I see great photographer, incredible chef and successful food blogger, all that being reflected in her beautiful site  The freaky table.

Zaira is so Italian! Her cute Italian accent makes you wish she never learns more english. In the morning she craves espresso and more sleep. She creates a lot of magic in the kitchen. She is naturally curious. She loves walking and exploring. She never wears jeans. She loves black. She adores vegetables. She hates matcha.

To sum it up, Zaira is an exciting soul and a smart and fun person. Also, she is my dear friend. Here is what I learnt from her visit.

Meditation rather then medication.

On the way to Norway Zaira caught a cold. Lately, she has become very successful but also slightly overworked. She loves all she is doing but sometimes, it just becomes too much. It stroke me how important it is to remember self care and decided to really focus on it during our week together. Self care is not about being selfish, but the real opposite. It is about respecting yourself and your needs, so that you can be fully charged to go create all the great things! You can’t give what you don ‘t have, so taking care of you makes you capable of taking care of others and give more.

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Self care.

Now, what does self care mean at all? In my opinion, it means listening to your body and your feelings, and responding to it accordingly, using your inner wisdom. Self care can take many different forms, depending on what the need is. Taking a nap, going to bed earlier, slowing down, taking a day off, staying still with your breath, drinking more water, eating nourishing foods, indulging yourself with some delicious healthy chocolate treats, moving your body, going for a walk, going out on a date with yourself, taking a bath, speaking up for yourself, leaving where you don’t want to be, saying no to something, turning off the screens, journalling, daydreaming, creating, doing what you love, doing nothing, bringing in a positive affirmation, speaking nicely to yourself, sharing difficult things with a friend, asking for help…..and many others. I believe that deep inside we know what we need. The better we know ourselves, the better we know what we need. The more we give us what we need, the more balance, calm and strength we create in our lives. We feel better, we become more loving and giving.

Zaira went to the pharmacy several times to find some medicine for her cold but she never actually bought anything. Instead, she decided to relax more, slow down and give her body time to heal naturally. It turned out to be a good idea.

The morning alchemy.

I have a little morning routine which I dedicate at least 15 minutes each day. I decided to continue this routine even with sleeping Zaira in my room.:) When I wake up  I sit in my bed with a pillow against the wall, close my eyes and watch my body breathing. I focus on creating a connection with my body and then I visualise my invisible body and focus on how it feels. I like to imagine it’s made of light which is nourishing and energising my visible body. I really enjoy dwelling in this state of calm and joy for a while, before I open my eyes and start the day.  This is my ultimate self care tool which I totally love and trust. Just a simple act of quieting the mind, breathing little more deeply and feeling into the body can be a beautiful and exciting experience which we practiced together with Zaira couple of times. The easy and powerful alchemy happening.

The divine Italian cuisine and the magic of presence.

It might sound both decadent and cosy to start Monday morning with making lemon cookies! 🙂 We got the recipe from Zaira’s mother Dorina who is a super great cook and an amazing lady. We put on a nice music and started to mix all the ingredients. We used chia seeds to replace eggs, organic lemons from Zaira’s garden and organic buckwheat flour. These cookies made the whole kitchen smell divine and tasted delicious. (Find the recipe bellow). I love making food with Zaira. She is so present, calm and passionate at the same time. There is no struggle in her art de la cuisine, just skills, intuition and love. There is no rush, still things go firmly forward and the whole process is infused with fun and magic. I think that is why everything tastes so good!

And we made more food! We devoted one whole afternoon and evening to Italian cooking, together with Janne, my cool flatmate. We made tagliatelle with wild mushrooms and coconut sauce, and ricotta tiramisu for dessert – which we actually ate for breakfast the day after. The whole process was super fun and the dishes tasted great too. Zaira helped me understand that you can’t really rush the cooking. You dive fully into the process, respect every ingredient and play. It’s like a game where the rules are presence, respect and ease. Like yoga. Everything is connected!:)

Water as a healing agent.

On one of our days together we visited Røros. A cozy little town in the mountains, with old houses, narrow streets and a lot of snow. One of the best things there was the spa experience in the Røros hotel. This artsy, architect designed space was spectacular and extremely relaxing. Again I was amazed by the magnificent power of water! I believe it is one of the biggest stress reducing agents and number one player in self care attitude. Swimming in nicely tempered water while watching the winter landscape outside, lying down in a hot sauna, smelling the wood, chilling in warm bubbling water in the outdoor pool… oh yes, this is an ultimate pleasure we should totally allow ourselves once in a while. Or twice. We ended up feeling like two new born babies, me waiting outside until  Zaira dries her endlesssssssss hair!:)

Fun and intimacy of the friendship.

We laughed and made absurd jokes without caring too much about how funny they are. Laughter is a true healer, the feeling happy and free. So, maybe, let’s take ourselves less seriously and laugh more?:)

Also, we shared our feelings and stories, our fears and worries and it felt beautiful to be vulnerable and to simply be who you are without being afraid of judgements. That is the true value of friendship, the sharing and caring, the love and support, the talking and staying quiet together. I am very grateful for having people in my life who I can call my friends and I am very grateful that Zaira is one of them. She has a special place in my heart forever.

Now, let’s make some vegan lemon cookies! As stated above, the original recipe comes from Zaira’s mother, Dorina. I got inspired by the recipe and made similar cookies with a gentle twist. They tasted amazing too! Here is the recipe:

What do I need?

1 organic lemon, juice and zest

10 Tbsp buckwheat flour or any other flower (I used chickpeas flour too and it turned out well:)

1 tsp baking powder

4-5 Tbsp of brown sugar, depending on how sweet you like

4 Tbsp melted coconut oil or sunflower oil

3 Tbsp chia seeds & 12 Tbsp water

4 Tbsp shredded coconut – optional

1 tsp ginger powder – optional but very nice

What do I do?

Mix chia seeds with water and let them rest for 10 minutes. In a bowl mix sugar, lemon juice, grated lemon zest, oil and the chia mixture. Add sipped flower, baking powder, ginger powder and shredded coconut – if you wish. Form cookies and place them on baking tray with baking paper. Bake for 20 minutes. Enjoy the cookies and the amazing lemon smell in the whole kitchen!

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