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Warm Spiced Milk: the Perfect Evening Beverage

Warm Spiced MilkI have just discovered my new favorite nightcap. I have been listening to my teachers tell me for years to drink warm spiced milk in the evening. Something about it just didn’t appeal to me. I don’t drink dairy products and it seemed a little gross. But tonight I gave it a try and I’m wondering why I didn’t trust that this would be delicious.

Warm milk is easy to digest and the added spices increase the digestibility even more. The spices are very soothing and grounding. The whole combination is said to be nourishing and rejuvenating for the body and mind. The combination of warm milk and nutmeg is known by many as a sleep aid. I can see this becoming a regular thing.

Here’s the recipe for 2 servings:

  • 2 cups of whole organic milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp ghee (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • a couple of shakes of cinnamon
  • a shake of black pepper
  • dash of Himalayan salt
  • 2-3 strands of saffron (optional)
  • sugar, maple syrup, or agave to taste

Heat the milk, water and spices (except sweetener) just to a boil in a small pot. Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes. Use a whisk or fork to stir frequently. Transfer the milk to your cup and add the sweetener to your liking. I used a teaspoon of maple syrup.

Good night!

Gratitude for the Bounty of the Season

IMG_1011When we realize that we are a part of nature and not something separate from it, when we see that we aren’t protecting or destroying something different from ourselves, we can really start to sink into nature’s rhythms and enjoy a deeper connection with all that exists. There are days that this is clearer than others. Or maybe some days just allow us time to reflect on this more than others. The Autumn Equinox is one of those days. A brief period of time that light and dark are in equal balance. We can give thanks for our bounty and set intentions for what we would like to experience in the coming months. I suppose we could do this on a daily basis and I’m sure some people do just that, but for me, I tend to get caught up in daily living and I appreciate the reminder to create space, feel the connection, and move forward with a positive focus. Rituals are important to me as they set the structure and framework for my life. Everything else drapes around that foundation.

On a different note, but still working with the bounty of the season, I have started to ferment my own veggies so that I can reap the amazing health benefits. I started with an easy sauerkraut recipe. Previously I had only had pre-made sauerkraut purchased at the grocery store. I never liked it. I could never even stand the smell of it. I kept hearing and reading how delicious it is if you make your own. The recipe met all of my requirements to try which is a low number of ingredients and minimal time to complete. Besides, it seemed like a fun science experiment on my kitchen counter that I had to check daily. I enjoyed this process. The problem was that I still didn’t like it. I want to like it, but I don’t. In my determination to use what I had made, knowing that there is no way my family will eat it, I found a recipe for coleslaw made out of sauerkraut. It’s delicious!! I’m so happy to have found a way to use the homemade sauerkraut without cooking off the beneficial bacterial that tastes so good.

Ayurvedically speaking, these veggies are “cooked” through the fermentation process so they are great for optimizing digestion and building the digestive fire. This makes it a perfect food to incorporate as we move into cooler weather. I’m curious if you are interested in fermenting veggies and if you already are, what ways are you enjoying them?

Easy Ayurveda to Stay Cool This Summer

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courtesy of Tess Welsh

courtesy of Tess Welsh

Welcome to summer. For many of us this means fun in the sun, vacations, BBQs, and lots of time outdoors. All of this can equal a fun, carefree couple of months. To make sure that we stay well in the extra heat, we can turn to the ancient art and science of Ayurveda. Lifestyle choices can have a tremendous effect on the way our physical body responds to stress, and the sizzling days of summer can put an extra load of stress on our system. Keeping regular sleep routines is a start. Exercising early in the day or later in the evening is also beneficial during the hot days. Finding balance in our work schedule to allow time for leisure is key to enjoying all the season has to offer.

We need to hydrate inside and out. Drinking plenty of fluids, especially water will keep the body systems flowing. Limit ice if possible, room temp is best on the belly. Mint is a great herb to put in a pitcher of water along with some peeled, sliced cucumbers. This is a very refreshing combination. Just as important as hydrating inside, is the need to hydrate our skin. Coconut oil is an excellent choice for a daily self massage. It even contains a small amount of natural sunscreen (although not enough to protect you if you are sitting in the sun for any length of time). Another way to hydrate from the outside is to put some rosewater in a spray bottle and spritz your face, neck and chest for a beautiful smelling, cooling result that also has anti-aging properties. Eating plenty of fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables will cool you down at meal times. Enjoy berries, melons, cucumbers, mangos, tomatoes and many others that you will find at your local market or growing in your backyard. Watercress is in season and is making it’s way to be the next super veggie. Try it in you next salad or soup.

If you would like to know more about Ayurveda, I am available for consultations in person, over the phone or through Skype. A consultation consists of getting to know your unique body type, where you may be experiencing imbalances and what Ayurvedic practices may help for you to find more balance in your body and in life. Ayurvedic practices may include nutritional information, life style suggestions, herbal recommendations and/or specific bodywork. Just fill out the contact form below and I will get back to you ASAP.

Hello 2014

perfectHappy New Year! I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions but I like to acknowledge the idea of a fresh start. There is something really freeing and exciting when I think of new beginnings. It feels like once again, anything can happen. In honor of this, I am practicing Sankalpa. Sankalpa is an ancient Ayurvedic practice in which we honor the deeper meaning of our life. So even though I have intentions of losing the 8 pounds that I have gained since Halloween, the practice of Sankalpa asks us to dive deeper with our intentions.

The process is simple but certainly not easy. We need to come from the knowledge that we already are who we need to be to fulfill our life’s purpose or dharma. We only need to peel back layers of resistance and old patterns that are no longer serving us. Like I said, simple but not easy. Ideally we can bring forth a statement or vow that we can call upon to remind us of our true nature and guide our choices.

The first stage is to listen in meditation to your heart’s desire. What is it you truly want? This desire is already present within you. You don’t need to create anything. Next, welcome the desire. Feel it with your whole being. The final stage takes courage. The final step is to take the action required. Think about actions that you can commit to that are consistent with this heartfelt desire. Some of the actions will require a strong warrior spirit mixed with loving compassion. This is already a part of you. Let it out.

Balancing tip-So what about that 8 pounds? This is a perfect time to do a mini home detox. When we cleanse in the winter, we want it to be gentle (especially for those of you who are living in colder regions). My plan is to incorporate some self-care practices into my day for the next few days. This will include skin brushing, oil massages, neti, and daily yoga and meditation. I will be drinking at least 1 green juice and/or smoothie each day. I will be drinking herbal teas and limiting caffeine. I will be taking some cleansing herbs and I will be eating plenty of vegetables, mostly leafy greens. My protein and carbohydrate requirements will come from a classic Indian comfort food called Khichadi. It consists of white Basmati rice and yellow mung dahl beans mixed with Indian spices. It is delicious and I will eat it twice a day. This dish is very easy to digest which will give my digestive system a much-needed break from the holiday chaos. The mung dahl beans are soaking as I write.  I (or my husband) will be making the Khichadi tomorrow. If you are local and would like to try a serving, let me know. The recipe makes a lot and I am happy to share.

Feel free to contact me if you would like try something like this for yourself and have some questions.

Challenge for the week: Replace one toxic product

I recently ran a program that focused on overall wellness. We covered things like our mindset, nutrition, exercise and our environment.  I learned so much during the four-week course. I hope the participants learned half as much as I did. As the facilitator of the process, I had to take a good look at my own life and the choices that I make for myself. As you know, having knowledge of a subject and putting the knowledge to use are two very different things. I realized that I have a lot of room for growth in all areas. This isn’t something to be upset about, in fact, I’m glad to have things to work on and a direction to move in.

Seasonal Local DishI am inspired to take a closer look at the foods I am eating. I encouraged the women in the group to check out seasonal, local foods and find recipes to share with each other. My dish was Wilted Red Swiss Chard, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Quinoa sprinkled with Nutritional Yeast for added punch in taste as well as nutritional value.

I encouraged the group to continually return to their breath and create space in their day to just sit and focus on the breath for a few minutes. Talking about this reminded me to do it in times of stress or frustration.

I found myself looking for more opportunities to move my body and fit some fitness into each day.

One of the coolest things for me is putting more effort into making sure I am doing what I can to prevent using toxic chemicals in my home. Many products boast that they are green but are in fact causing harm to you and your family. My new favorite all-purpose cleaner is

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 20 drops essential oil (I’m using Purification from Young Living Oils but lemon works well too)

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Place in a large spray bottle. This can be used on counter tops, kitchen appliances, toilets, etc.

What are you working on? How are you challenging yourself? In what ways are you taking better care of yourself today than you were a year ago?

Balancing tip-Challenge yourself to replace one unhealthy (aka-chemically laden) product that you use either in your home or on your body with something natural this week. You don’t have to make it yourself, although there are many great recipes available for DIY personal care products as well as cleaning products that are effective and simple to make. Leave a comment about what you are replacing and what you will use instead. I will be posting my switches as well.

Overnight Oats

Overnight oatsI put this recipe in my newsletter but I wanted to make sure I added it here too. This is perfect for those busy, back to school mornings.

I recently found a similar recipe on Lauren Conrad’s website (you should check it out if you have a couple of hours to get lost in cyber space). As much as I love a warm bowl of oatmeal on a cold morning, this chilled version has been great during the warm months. I also enjoy the ease of being able to pack it on my way out the door. It met all of my criteria: delicious, easy, minimal number of healthy ingredients and a minimal number of steps.

  • 1/2 cup of dry uncooked oats
  • 2/3 cup of milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (plain or vanilla depending on your taste)
  • cinnamon to taste
  • optional: 1-2 teaspoons chia seeds

Combine all ingredients and cover. Place in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, you have a quick grab and go breakfast. You can easily mix in fruit,  raisins, or anything else.
Delicious, healthy, and easy.

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Oats and Nut Butter Snacks

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Oats and Nut Butter SnacksMy friend, Sara, submitted an awesome snack recipe for me to share with everyone. I really appreciate her contribution and would love to share more recipes or ideas that any of you have. These Oats and Nut Butter Balls were really simple to make and disappeared quickly.

  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (or raisins)
  • 1/2 cup nut butter (I used 1/4 cup peanut butter and 1/4 cup almond butter)
  • 1/2 cup ground flaxseed (I used 1/4 cup ground flaxseed and 1/4 cup chia seeds)
  • 1/3 cup honey (more or less depending on sweetness of nut butters)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients and roll into balls. Refrigerate to set. Perfect for work/school lunches.

Balancing tip-Pause. Before you take the next bite of food, before you say something negative to someone you love, or before you purchase another item, pause. Take a moment, take a breath, be still. You may begin to make some different choices. Let me know what changes for you.

Easy, Breezy Zucchini

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Zucchini Dogs

Zucchini Dogs

In the hot summer months no one wants to be standing around the oven or stove cooking. I like to head out to my grill. It’s nice to be out of the kitchen and there is usually a lot less clean up. Unfortunately, BBQ foods tend to be a little meat heavy for me. Sure, I could through on some veggie burgers but I am trying to stay away from processed foods. Today I made Zucchini Dogs with Cole Slaw. It was really easy and satisfied my picnic food craving. This recipe made 4 sandwiches with leftover cole slaw.

For the Cole Slaw:

  • small head of cabbage chopped (I used 1/2 green and 1/2 red for a prettier picture)
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon honey
  • Juice from half of a lemon
  • Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes (I made mine a little spicy)

Mix the oil, vinegar, honey and lemon together. Pour over chopped cabbage and season to taste.

For the Zucchini Dogs:

  • 2 Zucchini quartered lengthwise
  • Preferred cooking oil (I used coconut oil)
  • Garlic (chopped, minced or even powder)
  • Hot dog rolls (I used millet and brown rice flour rolls)

Rub oil on the cut zucchini to coat and then rub with some garlic. Place on the grill for a couple of minutes on each side. Be sure to let it sit on each side for long enough to get the char marks. At the last minutes, toast the rolls on the grill.

Assemble zucchini and cole slaw onto the rolls. If your rolls are large, you may want to place two pieces of zucchini on each. Enjoy!

Balancing tip-If you feel like I have gone too far over the healthy line with this recipe, it’s ok. Maybe you can pull one thing out of this and add it to your usual BBQ. Maybe you NEED mayo in your cole slaw or maybe you can’t live without white flour hot dog rolls. Wherever you need to draw the line today is fine. This is not the recipe I would have made 5 years ago. And there is no way my family would have eaten this last year. Think of the recipe suggestions that I post as a buffet (everyone loves a buffet). You can take what you like and leave the rest.

Fresh Turkey Meatballs

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turkey meatballsI made these awesome meatballs for my family last night. Everyone loved them, which is very unusual for us. I would love to give credit for the original recipe but I can’t remember where I saw it. I know that the author referenced Gwyneth Paltrow’s cook book. I looked on her website, goop.com, and wasn’t able to find this variation. I also changed it for my needs. So here is my gluten free, dairy free variation on Turkey Meatballs:

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • few shakes each of basil, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper
  • 3 handfuls of greens (spinach, arugula, kale, spring mix, whatever you have on hand)
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • coconut oil
  1. Place greens in a blender or food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Place all ingredients except coconut oil in a large bowl.
  3. Gently mix with your hands until thoroughly combined.
  4. Form into small balls.
  5. Heat oil in a large pan and saute the meatballs in batches until browned and cooked through (approximately 10 minutes).
  6. Enjoy however you like. We had them with marinara sauce.

Balancing tip-Spend a little time this week finding out where you can purchase quality meat products in your area. Good quality meat not only tastes better but it is better for you. Here is a good article on why it’s important and what to look for when buying meat: Healthy Meats: What to Buy, by  Food Renegade.

The Comfort Zone

My comfort zone gets quite cramped after a while. It seems that I fall into a groove with something, it feels good, and then it starts to feel bad and I am forced to grow and change. I never grow and change out of virtue. It’s always due to the strong discomfort of stagnation. Anyway, there’s been a lot of growing and changing lately. The most obvious is that I finally posted my picture on the blog. This alone makes me want to hide in bed for the next couple days. One less obvious change is that I started taking Tae Kwon Do classes at a local studio with my son. This is a big challenge for me. When we left class the other night, he said, “You don’t always seem like you enjoy the class.” He is right. I don’t always enjoy the class. I’m not sure why, though. I don’t want to stop just because it’s out of my comfort zone. It has been good for me, as a teacher, to experience being brand new at something. I have a much better understanding of what adults feel like starting to move in ways that they may have never moved before in their life. I am understanding why some people have such a hesitancy in their motions and why they may not come back after what seems to be a rewarding experience. There are a few reasons that I stay. First of all, I love sharing an activity with one of my children. Second, I don’t want to quit before the magic happens. Third, I will be teaching yoga there and I want a better understanding of what the studio is all about. And, lastly, it’s a good exercise for me to sit in discomfort and know that it’s ok for me to feel uncomfortable.

This may all seem silly to some people, but it is big for me. I have also been expanding in my career. Some cool things seem to be taking off and I have had opportunities to connect with people from all over the country looking for ways to incorporate more wellness into their lives. Stepping out of my comfort zone has renewed my enthusiasm for living fully. I want to experience it all and share it with anyone who’s interested. I no longer want to make any decisions out of fear. There is a momentum moving me forward at this point and I am going to try to ride the wave. I trust my experience that I will arrive safely at a temporary destination. It is at this next destination that I will find my next comfort zone. There will be a brief leveling out and then I will be off again.

Balancing tip-Rethink salt. Table salt is terrible. In fact, it is really far removed from true salt. Pick up some pink Himalayan salt. Use it as you would any other salt. It contains 84 trace minerals that your body needs. This salt comes from deep in the Himalayan Mountains. It is free of chemicals and additives and can aid you in your healthy lifestyle.

Himalayan Crystal Salt Benefits:

  • Controls the water levels of the body
  • Promotes a stable pH balance in the cells
  • Encourages proper blood sugar levels
  • Reduces signs of aging
  • Promotes cellular hydroelectric energy creation
  • Aids vascular health
  • Supports healthy respiration
  • Supports healthy sinus conditions
  • Increases bone strength

 

 

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