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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.

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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The Nourished Woman

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If you are a woman in the prime of your life who is struggling with trying to live a healthy lifestyle, I want to share with you an opportunity to make a transformation with the support of a community of likeminded women. I have been having great success with my clients sharing the things that I have learned over the years through both academic means and life experience. Now I want to share this information with as many women as I can. I have had health and lifestyle challenges in my own life that have been the catalyst to get me where I am today. For years I neglected my own needs to take care of others. Many women find themselves in this position because we often fall naturally into caregiving roles. It may be children who require our attention or an ill spouse, maybe it’s aging parents, grandchildren or neighbors. Regardless, we need to remember the oxygen mask theory and begin to help ourselves so that we can help others. 

I am really excited to think that we will create a community of women who will nurture and support each other through this process. Some of us have been going it alone for too long and it’s time to let someone support you. In this spirit, I am thrilled to announce that 5% of the proceeds of this program will be donated to Salah Freedom. This is a nonprofit organization committed to confronting the issue of sex trafficking and exploitation through advocacy, training, and restorative services. It means so much to me that our community will not only be supporting each other but we will be supporting victims that are rescued from these horrible circumstances. You can check out more about this organization here: Selah Freedom.

You can find out all the details of the program I am offering here: The Nourished Woman. Feel free to email or message me with any questions or concerns. I can help you decide if this program is the right fit for you. I hope to hear from you soon.

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

 

 

I Voted!

Vote Oregon!

Vote Oregon! (Photo credit: jugbo)

As much as I am ready to be beyond the election this year, I was really psyched to vote today! I’m not sure why, but we are allowed to vote early in Florida. Maybe because it takes so much time to fill the little circles in on the ballot. I find it mind-boggling that it isn’t computerized here! Anyway, this isn’t the point of this post. The point is that I felt empowered as I left the polling place. I thought of all the women in the past who weren’t able to vote. I thought of the first few brave women who stood up and acknowledged the crime in not allowing women to be part of the process. I wondered if their mothers’ secretly cheered them on, if their husbands’ gave them the silent treatment, if their children were embarrassed. Women risked their lives more than once for me to be able to place my preference on a ballot. I am honored and humbled by the heroism that needed to be inside each and every man and woman who stood up and said there should be equality. I was proud to show my support for them today by utilizing this privilege of voting. I hope we never forget their struggle and take for granted this right.

There are many wonderful things about our country and I am proud to be an American. There are also many things that need to be worked out. Because we are always growing and changing, it would seem logical that our country would grow and change too. Some things that were relevent 200 years ago are still relevent today and somethings need to change that maybe were enacted only 10 years ago. Sometimes (or always) change is scary but holding onto old ideas for the sake of holding on can be painful. As we see injustices happening and as we feel progress being stifled, we can find strength and encouragement by remembering the men and women who first brought up the preposterous idea of gender equality at the polls. It isn’t easy or glamorous to make an unpopular stand and speak the truth about what is happening. If we want to see our country evolve and grow along with us, it is not only our right but our duty.

Balancing tip-Your doctor doesn’t have the last word on your health! You have the ability to take control of your health starting right now. You decide your health is important when you make positive food choices. You decide that your body is important when you move it a little each day. You take control when you seek out trusted alternative health practitioners and get second and third opinions. If you need help navigating through some of the information out there that sometimes seems conflicting, please reach out to me. I have developed an unofficial network of holistic practitioners in many parts of the country. These people are doing amazing things with nutrition, energy, acupuncture, herbs, IV vitamin therapy, kinesiology, nutritional supplements, yoga therapy and much more. I am talking about disease reversal! I am talking about moving away from pharmaceuticals. Please know that I know that some pharmaceuticals are a blessing and we may need to take them for some conditions. My point is that things have gotten out of hand and this is me standing up and saying, “Something is wrong and we need to evolve!”

gratitude continued…

Goodwill Industries

Goodwill Industries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My focus for the past week has been on gratitude. It started, as most of you know, with being the theme of a yoga class. I decided to see what would happen if I really made an effort to stay with that as my primary focus. Of course I would think of other things and go about my normal life, but my intention was to keep returning to a place of gratitude and look for things to feel grateful about. I even used an app on my iPad to draw a picture of something I felt really grateful for. Whenever I was having trouble finding that feeling in my heart, I pulled up the picture and let myself sink into it emotionally so that soon enough–I was feeling a swelling in my chest and an expansion in my body. I wanted to let you know that I have had an amazing week! Not only do I feel really lucky for all the good things in my life, but I have actually had a bunch of things happen this week that give me reason to be even more grateful! I know it sounds like a bunch of crap but I’m telling you this really worked for me.

I am going to challenge each of you to try it for 7 days. Just shift your focus to the things you are grateful for. If you don’t feel like you can draw, print a picture from the computer of something you are super grateful for and put it in your pocket or purse. Whenever you catch yourself feeling lack or fear, pull it out and look at it for a minute until your focus shifts. Feel gratitude for a couple of minutes when you first wake up and right before you go to bed. It’s that simple. That which we focus on grows. As we focus our attention on gratitude, we are provided more opportunities to feel grateful. Have fun and let me know what happens for you!

Balancing tip-Start weaning off the Teflon! This chemical non-stick coating although very convenient, emits toxic fumes when overheated. Not only that, but as normal wear and tear happen, we ingest tiny particles into our body with the food we are eating. Some of the health dangers include: flu-like symptoms, smaller birth weight and size in newborns, elevated cholesterol, abnormal thyroid function, liver inflammation, and weakened immune system. There are safer alternatives available such as stainless steel and cast iron. You don’t need to break the bank replacing all of your cookware. I picked up a cast iron skillet recently at Goodwill for $10. You can just replace a piece at a time. If you need to continue using the non-stick for a while, do so on the lowest temperature possible to cook your food safely. Learning to cook on these different surfaces takes a little practice but I have found the transition to be pretty painless.  🙂

 

 

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