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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?

What’s your Ayurvedic body type?

imgres-1There are many things in life in which it is helpful to have an owner’s manual. Sometimes we read them and sometimes we don’t but it’s nice to know that they are there if we need to reference them periodically. Maybe a new light pops up on the dashboard of your car and you need to pull the owner’s manual from under a pile of papers in the glove box to see what this light indicates. Or maybe the clothes dryer isn’t drying so, because you have no idea where that manual might be, you Google the make and model to find a troubleshooting page. Occasionally something will trigger a reaction in our body and throw our health out of balance. In times like this, it’s nice to have trusted information we can reference that is specific to us. Many of us don’t have the correct owner’s manual to our body. We often have someone else’s. We have a manual that belongs to our neighbor who was able to lose a significant amount of weight but when we follow the instructions, we don’t get the same results. Or we have our Grandmother’s manual who was active into her 90s, yet we feel exhausted and depleted in our 40s and 50s. Some of us share a manual with our husband who never seems to need to stop for food so by 2pm he’s raring to go and we feel like crying. Fortunately, there is a simple way to get your specific owner’s manual.

In Ayurveda, the ancient science of life, each person has their own constitution. The Sanskrit term is Prakriti. People generally fall into one of 7 categories. Once you become familiar with your specific category, you are able to assess changes in your body and mind from a different perspective. Understanding a little bit about this art and science can give you the tools to make the proper changes to bring your health back in balance. So just like the light on the dashboard, you may notice signs such as anxiety or a rash. Having your owner’s manual will allow you to look at what would work best for you.

Don’t be intimidated by the use of Sanskrit language. Ignore it if you have to for now. Just focus on what’s comfortable. You may find that you are already intuitively doing the right things for your body. There are many different online versions of the Prakriti or constitution test. Feel free to take a few. Sometimes even after taking a test, we still aren’t sure, and that’s when it’s best to contact an Ayurvedic Practitioner. Here is a good test from Banyan Botanicals: http://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/prakriti-quiz/

I’d love to hear about your results and if you find this information to be helpful.

Easy Ayurveda to Stay Cool This Summer

Posted on
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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Easy, Breezy Zucchini

Posted on
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.

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

 

 

looking for clear skies

Clear sky and clouds

Clear sky and clouds (Photo credit: Archbob)

When we practice mind-body techniques we can fairly quickly start to see some benefits. Whether it’s yoga, tai chi, qigong or meditation we will notice a sense of peace and calm. This isn’t just an emotional response. The  emotional response comes from the physiology in our body actually changing. Our respiration slows and lengthens, blood pressure drops, feel-good neurotransmitters increase, stress hormones decrease, etc. The result is that sense of peace and calm. When we continue to practice whichever techniques we are drawn to, more profound changes begin to take place in our bodies and in our minds. We begin to see that stressors occurring in our lives have less of an impact on us. We feel that we can handle tough situations with some ease. We may even start to feel that we have the ability to overcome long-standing issues. Then, maybe one day after practicing for some time, we have the realization that we are not our thoughts, our emotions, or our titles. We start to familiarize ourselves with who we truly are: the vast being behind all else. This being is not influenced by our idea of reality. This being could be compared to the sky. Always present in the background. Our thoughts could be like clouds. Sometimes light and fluffy and sometimes dark, low and dense. Issues that we struggle with are like storms in the sky, sometimes seeming like they will never pass. But they always do, they pass and the sight of the sky returns, unchanged. Just as the sky seems endless, so is our true nature. There is always more to explore, ways to go deeper. Our access point can be as simple as the breath.

Once we connect to this vastness, we no longer need to be reacting to things around us. We can begin to take positive action and see things on a larger scale. We can let things go that seem minor. We can allow someone else to win the argument or get in front of us in line. We can apologize first and know that we are not less of a person for doing so. When we release fear, we can build others up knowing that their strength will not make us week. This connection is a total game changer. It allows us to widen our lens and change our perspective and see what is really important. Once we stop reacting and start acting with love, we will find we have much more control over our lives. We can stop playing the victim and step into a place of power. I often say “I’m so lucky”, but the truth is that I’m not lucky at all. I have consciously made a series of decisions over the course of years that have led me to the situation that I am in now. My situation may or may not appeal to you, but I am very happy to be exactly where I am today. We do not need to be victims of circumstance. We are powerful beings navigating through a world of illusion. The answers will never be in the illusion, they are always within.

Balancing Tip-Check the ingredients in your vitamins and supplements. Since my friend, Jackie, recently wrote a great article on this topic, I am just going to put the link here for you to enjoy her writing  🙂   The Truth about Vitamins

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!”

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