Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Protection of the Mother of God

                  During the 10th century at the Blachernae church in Constantinople (Istanbul) where several of her relics (robe, veil, and part of her belt) were kept,  the Theotokos miraculously appeared. On October 1 at four in the morning, St. Andrew the Blessed Fool-for-Christ  saw the dome of the church open and the Virgin Mary enter, moving in the air above him, glowing and surrounded by angels and saints. She knelt and prayed with tears for all faithful Christians in the world. This scene is shown in the icon.
                In most Slavic languages the word "cerement" has a dual meaning of "veil" and "protection." The Russian word Pokrov (Покров), like the Greek Skepi (Σκέπη) and Romanian Acoperamint, has a complex meaning. First of all, it refers to a cloak or shroud, but it also means protection or intercession. For this reason, the name of the feast is variously translated as the Veil of Our Lady, the Protecting Veil of the Theotokos, the Protection of the Theotokos, or the Intercession of the Theotokos.
                Below the Theotokos, in the center of the icon, stands a young man clothed in a deacon's sticharion. In his left hand, he is holding an open scroll with the text of the Kontakion for Nativity in honor of the Mother of God. This is St. Romanus the Melodist, the famous hymnographer whose feast is also celebrated on the same day, October 1. He is with his choir attended by the Emperor Leo the Wise together with the Empress and the Patriarch of Constantinople.

              The two different events took place four hundred years apart and they are combined in this one icon.
 Most Holy Theotokos save us!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Gluten- Free Pancakes

Gluten- Free Pancakes
In our house we like to have gluten-free pancakes about twice a week and each time they are different, depending of the ingredients!
The gluten- free pancakes can be very nutritious and an excellent breakfast for your children on a school day. Feel free to make your own signature pancake and experiment as you like.
2 cups of pecan meal or almond or hazelnut or walnut meal
1 cup of quinoa flour or rice flour
½ cup flax seed flour
½ cup corn flour
¾ cup coconut oil
3 eggs
1 ¼ cup water or milk or coconut water or mineral water or almond milk etc
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp vanilla extract (optional)
In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients together. Add the eggs, water, vanilla and the oil and whisk thoroughly. The consistency should be similar to that of the conventional flour-based batter. If too thick add 1-2 tbsp of milk or water. Lightly oil a large skillet and heat over medium heat. For each pancake pour ½ cup pour batter. Cook until bubbles forms and the edges are cooked. Turn and cook for 2 more minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Serve with fresh fruit and plain yogurt or with tart cherry marmalade and plain yogurt.
Note: I did not add any salt, as the baking soda has plenty of sodium and also the water will have its own electrolytes. However, if desired add ½ tsp salt.
Also this batter can make a perfect gluten-free bread for sandwiches, but make the batter a bit thicker and omit vanilla.
 Below it is a picture with plain corn pancakes (corn flour, water, oil, salt):

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Icons are NOT about art

Theotokos of Vladimir icon (Icon of 12 century)
"Icons are not about art.
Icons are not about left-overs of Byzantine style.
Icons are not about the idolatrous impulse within fallen humanity.
Icons are about the very nature of our salvation."

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Thank God For Icons!


I learned today about this educational tool that is free for all: KHANACADEMY: http://www.khanacademy.org/
This evening, as I was taking a look at the site, my son choose to learn more about the Medial Europe! So we were very surprised to see a few links about the Great Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (Istanbul –today), about the holy icons and even a video about The Saint Catherine's Monastery in Egypt!
If you would like to see it, go to the link above, click on subject (on the top left side) and choose Art and Humanities. Pick Medial Europe and then go to Byzantine (Late Roman Empire). The links following after that are very educative for children ages 7-12. I am glad to see the videos that also come along with the different sections.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Healing comes from inside, not from outside

“Illnesses do not come upon us out of the blue. They are developed from small daily sins against Nature. When enough sins have accumulated, illnesses will suddenly appear”.
"Sins against Nature!"-  Here I would be saying that the illness occur from daily sins against our own human nature, nature which was created by God!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mom, what is an Icon?

I would like to recommend this wonderful children’s book to all the mothers interested in the orthodox Christian education of their children.
The book has been translated in many languages: Greek, Russian, Romanian and of course in English.

To order your own copy
For the Greek version: call: (352) 591-1803.
For the Romanian version: fathers@panagiavlahernon.org

Blessings from God

I have always been deeply moved by the way God rewards a humble soul!
The amazing story below (see video) reminds me of the 3 youths sold into slavery, who kept their faith unaltered receiving great honor from God or the story of St. Euphrosynos The Cook (pronounced Ef-ro-se-nos, meaning “cheery” or “merry”). The saint was richly rewarded by God for his unending gratitude and humility. While still living he was visiting the garden of Paradise every night. Read his story in the book ”The boy, a kitchen and his cave” by Catherine K. Contopoulos.

Homeless Boy Steals The Talent Show:
In case you can't see the video here, use this link:
This humble homeless boy is another beautiful example of how God turns around a "misfortune", an aparent hopeless life to His Glory showing us how he cares about even the smallest one amongst us. My wish is that this boy will find God. The story also reminds me of Bishop Longhin (Mihail) Jar, of Banceni Monastery in Ukraine. He grew up alone, after he lost his parents and ended becoming the spiritual father of many. He takes care of 400 orphans!

Natural Birth or Cesarean Section?

“Cesareans are grossly overdone in US hospitals. And they often make recovery and breastfeeding much more challenging. Often enough, they expose your baby to antibiotics” and the baby has no chance to get colonized with beneficial bacteria from the mother at the time of birth. This leads to a weak gut microbiome for your child that will influence greatly their future’s health. (i.e. lactose intolerance)
I am happy to see this post by Dr. Aviva and I encourage all mothers to choose what God designed for us: natural birth! Read more: http://avivaromm.com/10-things-pregnant-women-knew


Gatorade had to remove this flame retardant chemical from its drinks! By now I am sure that everyone knows about this, but in case one does not, here is a little post.
BVO (Brominated vegetable oil), has been banned as a food and beverage additive in Europe and Japan. But it has been used for decades in U.S. beverages such as Gatorade, Mountain Dew, Squirt, Fanta Orange, Sunkist Pineapple, Powerade Strawberry Lemonade or Fresca Original Citrus.
Binging on these BVO beverages has resulted in medical treatments for skin lesions, memory loss, or nervous disorders. According to Scientific American magazine, studies have indicated that BVO can accumulate in body tissues. So what’s the point of using BVOs in the first place? The heavy bromine atoms keeps synthetic artificial (tautology intentional) flavors from floating to the top of the beverage...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Homemade gluten-free chicken schnitzel

Naturally, since I grew up in Romania, I really like chicken schnitzel. The challenge has been to make it gluten-free and to still taste great.
Today I can say that I do not miss at all the old fashion chicken schnitzel made with wheat flour. If you would like to try the recipe, here it is:

organic boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 organic egg
1 tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt
½ cup of  organic non-homogenized whole milk
½ cup organic corn flower
2 tbsp organic butter
1. Beat egg in a shallow bowl with salt, flour and milk, until a smooth paste forms
2.     Make sure your boneless, skinless chicken breasts are thin by pounding them flatter
3.      Dip each cutlet into egg mixture to coat completely
4.      Heat 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet over med-high heat
5.      Cook 2-3 cutlets at a time until golden brown for about 2-3 minutes per side
6.      Serve with Brussel sprouts or the salad of your choice. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Roasted Asparagus Salad with Arugula and Hazelnuts

Great recipe from The Longevity Kitchen, by Rebecca Katz, MS.


Asparagus, Arugula & Hazelnuts


1/3 cup hazelnuts
2 bunches asparagus (about 2 pounds), tough ends snapped off and discarded, then peeled (see note*)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper

4 cups loosely packed arugula



1.      Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2.      Put the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Put them in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes as it preheats, until aromatic and browned. Transfer to a plate or, if you'd like to remove the skins for a more refined texture and appearance, wrap them in a towel and give them a good rub. The majority of the skins will come right off. Coarsely chop the hazelnuts.

3.      Put the asparagus on the same baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with the 2 teaspoons of olive oil and generously sprinkle with salt. Toss gently to evenly coat the asparagus. Bake for 8 minutes, until just barely tender.

4.      Put the lemon juice, the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a small bowl and mix well with a small whisk.

5.      Put the arugula in a large bowl. Drizzle with half of the dressing and toss until evenly coated. Mound the arugula on individual plates or a platter and arrange the asparagus on top. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and sprinkle the hazelnuts on top.

Variation: Substitute toasted pistachios or walnuts for the hazelnuts.

*Cook's Note: Peeling the asparagus gets rid of the stringy, sometimes tough outer layer and exposes the sweet flesh underneath. To peel it, use a regular vegetable peeler with a light touch to shave off just the skin. This technique is not necessary with thin asparagus spears.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


Tiny leaves- Enormous Benefits: Moringa

Thanks to God and my great friends, today I had the wonderful opportunity to have for dinner moringa greens! We really enjoyed them!
I would like to share with all of you the important nutrients God has stored in the those tiny moringa leaves, flowers or seeds.
Gram per gram: Moringa leaves = have 7X the vitamin C in oranges, 4X the vitamin A in carrots, 4X the Calcium in milk, 3X the potassium in bananas, 2x the protein in yogurt!!!
 Moringa is a plant that is native to the sub-Himalayan areas of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. It is also grown in the tropics. The leaves, bark, flowers, fruit, seeds, and root are used to make medicine.

Moringa is used for “tired blood” (anemia); arthritis and other joint pain (rheumatism); asthma; cancer; constipation; diabetes; diarrhea; epilepsy; stomach pain; stomach and intestinal ulcers; intestinal spasms; headache; heart problems; high blood pressure; kidney stones; fluid retention; thyroid disorders; and bacterial, fungal, viral, and parasitic infections.

Moringa is also used to reduce swelling, increase sex drive (as an aphrodisiac), prevent pregnancy, boost the immune system, and increase breast milk production. Some people use it as a nutritional supplement or tonic.

Moringa is sometimes applied directly to the skin as a germ-killer or drying agent (astringent). It is also used topically for treating pockets of infection (abscesses), athlete’s foot, dandruff, gum disease (gingivitis), snakebites, warts, and wounds.

Oil from moringa seeds is used in foods, perfume, and hair care products, and as a machine lubricant.

Moringa is an important food source in some parts of the world. Because it can be grown cheaply and easily, and the leaves retain lots of vitamins and minerals when dried, moringa is used in India and Africa in feeding programs to fight malnutrition. The immature green pods (drumsticks) are prepared similarly to green beans, while the seeds are removed from more mature pods and cooked like peas or roasted like nuts. The leaves are cooked and used like spinach, and they are also dried and powdered for use as a condiment.

The seed cake remaining after oil extraction is used as a fertilizer and also to purify well water and to remove salt from seawater.
Lots of great information can be found in this pdf format on this site : http://miracletrees.org/moringa_book.pdf
Moringa powder can be used in smoothies, gluten –free pancake mixes and as extra protein in vegan sauces and soups (best to add at the end of cooking).

The Elevation of the Holy Cross

The Elevation of the Holy Cross is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church. This feast is also referred to as the Exaltation of the Cross.
This feast commemorates two events:
On the spot where the Cross was discovered, St. Helen had found a hitherto unknown flower of rare beauty and fragrance, which has been named "Vasiliko," or Basil, meaning the flower of royalty. Note that the word "Vasiliko" means "of the King," since the word "Basileus" in Greek means "King"; so, the plant Vasiliko, Basil, is tied to the Precious Cross of the King of Glory, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Underneath the Basil, the Cross of Christ was found, but with it were the other two crosses, those used to crucify the two thieves on either side of Christ. The sign with the inscription, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews", also lay among the three crosses. In order to determine which one was the true cross, a sick woman was told to kiss each of the three crosses. The woman kissed the first cross with no result. She kissed the second cross and again nothing happened. However, when the ailing woman kissed the True Cross, she was immediately made well. It so happened that a funeral procession was passing that way, and so the body of the dead man was placed on each of the crosses, and when it was placed on the True Cross, the dead man came to life — thus the name the “Life-Giving” Cross, which gives life not only to that man, but to each person who believes in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and His all-glorious three day Resurrection.
When the true Cross was identified, it was lifted on high for all the people to see, who then continually sang Kyrie eleison, a practice which is still enacted at current celebrations of this feast.
  • The recovery of the Cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified from the Persians. The Persians had captured the True Cross as a prize of war when they sacked Jerusalem in 614 AD. It was recovered by the forces of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire)) in 627 AD, when Emperor Heraclius decisively defeated the Sassanid Persians at The Battle of Nineveh, surrounding their capital Ctesiphon, recovering the True Cross, and breaking the power of the Sassanid dynasty. The Elevation took place on March 21, 630 AD, when Emperor Heraclius entered Jerusalem amidst great rejoicing, and together with Patriarch Zacharios (609-632), transferred the Cross of Christ with great solemnity into the temple of the Resurrection, joyously held up for veneration by the Christian faithful.
This is one of the two feast days which is held as a strict fast. The other is the commemoration of the Beheading of St. John the Forerunner on August 29 
The wonderful event of The finding of the Cross by St. Helen is very nicely presented for little children in "St. Helen Finds the Cross of Jesus" by Michelle  Georgiou:  http://www.amazon.com/St-Helen-Finds-Cross-Jesus/dp/B002AK89KQ

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross

Tomorrow, September 14, The Orthodox Church celebrates The Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross!
Tonight let’s praise the Lord for giving us His only son for our redemption through The Holy Cross:

Dirty Dozen - Clean Fifteen

When going to get the groceries it is important to remember the Dirty Dozen - Clean Fifteen list. 
EWG publishes its annual rating of conventional foods with the most and least pesticide residues to fill the void left by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has largely failed to tell Americans they have a right to know about the risks of pesticide exposure and ways they can reduce pesticides in their diets.
Two-thirds of produce samples in recent government tests had pesticide residues. Don't want to eat bug- and weed-killers? EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce helps you shop smart.They highlight the cleanest and dirtiest conventionally-raised fruits and vegetables. If a conventionally grown food you want tests high for pesticides, go for the organic version instead. And remember - the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh risks of pesticide exposure. Dirty Dozen™ Plus highlights hot peppers and leafy greens - kale and collard greens - often tainted with unusually hazardous pesticides.
EWG's 2014 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce:  http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/

Eating Healthy at Subway???

Did you know that your favorite bread sandwich can have a chemical found in yoga mats?
Subway says a chemical also found in yoga mats will be completely phased out of its bread.