November 4, 2011

Homemade Peanut Butter + Tree Pose

Today's post is a combination of two of my favorite things:

  1. peanut butter; and
  2. tree pose (vrikshasana).
First things first. 

Yesterday I successfully made homemade peanut butter!  Several of the blogs I follow have made similar, homemade versions of this delectable, pantry staple.  But before yesterday, I never had the guts to try making it myself.  Truthfully, I didn't think I could do it.  Not only did I have nightmares of a globby, tasteless, and unspreadable mess, but I doubted my cheap, Cuisinart food processor's ability to withstand the job.

In the end, I was more than pleasantly surprised with the result.  My peanut butter was smooth, flavorful, and perfectly spreadable.

Homemade Peanut Butter
Makes approximately 1- 1/4 cups

2 1/2 cups salted, roasted peanuts
1 T brown sugar
1 T coconut oil


  1. Place peanuts into your food processor.
  2. Let food processor run for 2-3 minutes, until peanuts begin to release oils and become smooth.
  3. Add brown sugar and coconut oil to peanut mixture.
  4. Process for an additional 1-2 minutes until desired consistency is reached.
  5. Store in an air-tight container, in the refrigerator, for up to two weeks.
Here is a picture of what your peanuts will look like after Step 2 (see above):

After the brown sugar and coconut oil are added (Step 3), you have this smooth concoction:

Bo and I have already spread our homemade peanut butter on toast, cookies, fruit, and into yogurt!  I don't think we will have any problem finishing this up before it expires in two weeks! :)

This particular recipe is very basic.  Before I started to play around with fancy peanut butter flavors, I wanted to make sure that I could make the most basic version.  Now that that has been accomplished, expect lots of fun variations in the future (you've been warned!).  I am already envisioning chocolate coconut peanut butter, maple peanut butter, cinnamon peanut butter, and much much more! 

And who says I have to use peanuts?!  I will also be experimenting with almond butters, pecan butters, cashew butters, etc.  YUMM-O!

As a final note, perhaps the best part of this whole recipe is COST!  One of my favorite bloggers, Ashley from (never)homemaker, estimated that 2 cups of homemade peanut butter costs approximately $2.50!  If any of you have bought organic peanut butter/almond butter/cashew butter from the grocery store, you know how crazy expensive these items are!  Jars of this liquid gold are frequently $7.00, $9.00, $11.00 - especially for almond, pecan, and cashew butters.  So, learning how to make this stuff at home could be a huge budget saver!  Now, if that doesn't convince you to give this recipe a shot, I give up!

Moving on to my second favorite thing in this post: tree pose (vrikshasana).

Isn't this picture just stunning?!

As I mentioned in this post, my photographer (i.e. Bo) has been working late hours at his other job (i.e. flying for the United States Navy).  I've wanted to do a yoga post for the past few days, so today I decided to do one utilizing the professional photos of others.  We still plan to take our own photos for future posts, but for today, I am using the "borrow from others and make it your own" motto.

Tree pose - or vrikshasana, in Sanskrit - is one of the more popular and recognizable yoga asanas.  If you have ever been to a yoga class, you have probably done this pose. 

Vrikshasana has numerous benefits, including:

  • building balance;
  • purifying the nervous system;
  • concentrating the mind;
  • strengthening the legs;
  • opening the hips;
  • spreading the chest;
  • opening the shoulders; and
  • counteracting the effects of osteoporosis by building bone mass in the standing leg.

As a teacher, I love that tree pose is both accessible to new yoga students, and presents a challenge to the most seasoned and advanced practitioners.  For example:

  • new yogis can practice vrikshasana with their foot against their ankle, and their toes remaining on the mat;

  • more experienced practitioners can practice tree pose with their foot on their calf; and

  • the most experienced yoginis can place their foot on their inner thigh.

When practicing vrikshasana, notice the placement of your hips and shoulders.  The hips and shoulders should be facing straight ahead in the posture.  If the hip of the lifted leg is tilted slightly back, that is a sign that you have over-rotated the raised leg.  The focus of vrikshasana is not on how "turned out" the lifted leg can be, but rather on the integrity of the squared hips and shoulders, and the improvement of one's balance.

When first practicing the pose, hands will remain in prayer position (anjali mudra). 

As practitioners' balance improves, the arms may be slowly lifted towards the heavens.  However, don't rush this progression!  First, it is important to:

  • allow the shoulder blades to release down the back, towards the hips;
  • create length in the neck; and
  • stay rooted in the standing leg.

If, when you attempt to lift the arms, the balance or anatomical alignment of the body are compromised, that is a sign that you are not yet ready to progress to the next stage of the pose.



Non-judgment towards your practice...

Progress will come, but only with time and continued practice.

As with all yoga poses, there is always room for growth.  One of the newest challenges I am incorporating into my vrikshasana is closed eyes.

This is much harder than it looks.  Some days I can hold my tree pose, with eyes closed, for 30 seconds.  Other days, the moment I close my eyes my tree yells "TIMBBEEERRRR"...and down she goes.

That's the things with balancing poses.  Every day they are different.

I once asked a teacher how to meditate, and he said, "If you want to learn how to meditate, master vrikshasana."

Because that's just it - all balancing poses are really just a reflection of my inner self!  They are meditation in action!  So, if I didn't sleep the night before, or I had a dispute with a loved one, then my mind will be unsettled, and my balance will be out of reach.  However, if I am well-rested, peaceful, and joyful, my balance will be within grasp.

Lesson:  When I learn to calm my mind, I will not only succeed in my vrikshasana, but also in my meditation, and in my life.

Next up - maybe a guest post from "B"?!

Question of the Day:

Do you have balance in your life?

Ally and Bo

1 comment:

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