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Monday, 29 October 2012 18:22

An Interview With Cody Chaet

codyAs a little girl, some of my favorite memories were hanging out in Helena, Montana with my cousins. Boating, tubing, crafts, baseball games and yummy food.  My aunt Mary had a sign in her kitchen that read, Mary’s Vegetarian Kitchen, and to this day I believe she was a huge part of my journey towards a whole foods, plant-based diet.

With that being said, I have a real treat for you guys today! I decided it would be fun to interview a person who is not only near and dear to my heart, but is also a powerful voice for the evolution of our planet. We’ve known each other since he was born and have slept in the same bed many times. Simmer down, he’s my cousin and grew up in Mary’s Vegetarian Kitchen.

He’s worked with several celebrities and is following his bliss on a daily basis.  I’ve been following his amazing pictures and posts on Facebook for quite some time, and begging him to either open a restaurant or hook a cousin up with some recipes! I’m super stoked and honored to introduce you to Cody Chaet, the founder of Vegan Lifestyle Academy.

 

Q. What inspired Your Vegan Lifestyle? 

 

Ultimately, it was parents who inspired me. They raised me a vegetarian in a very non vegetarian friendly environment which took a strong backbone. As time went on, a lot of my family members began eating meat for a few years, including myself. Ultimately my dad led me in the vegan direction. He became diabetic type 2 when i was much younger and when the condition progressed and it became time to step in and help out. I moved back home to MT from LA and helped assist my parents back onto a Vegetarian track. He then went Vegan and went running straight for Raw Vegan. I was so inspired by the transformation that i embraced the lifestyle and discovered my career.

 

Q. What does Veganism mean to you?

 

In my opinion, Veganism means a healthier happier life. I do love the idea of obtaining radiant health simply through eating delicious food. But ULTIMATELY, Veganism means NOT killing harmless animals to satiate our ignorance. Evolution may have required as at one time to hunt and eat meat for survival but now we are just plain ignorant. We eat meat not for survival but to satisfy our palate and our hunger needs in a specific way. I don't refer to Ignorance as a derogatory or degrading term. I simply break the word down and help people realize that it means to IGNORE(ance) the truth.

 

Q. Do you miss meat?

 

NO, i don't miss killing animals. It does not make me happy. I do what makes me happy.

 

Q. What is the mission behind Vegan Lifestyle Academy? 

 

The VLA is a lifestyle Support & Education System. It was designed to both educate people on the facts of extracting meat, dairy and eggs from your everyday consumption and replacing them with higher quality group of proteins and food sources. The Education consists of cooking demos, private cooking lessons, and even large group discussions. The support system is catering anything from breakfast, lunch, dinner to a party or special event. People have many different needs and i try to fill those needs in any way that i can. That includes helping them off animal products progressively onto a plant based diet.

 

Q. What has been the highlight of your career so far? 

 

I would have to say the major highlight of my career has been truly helping people better themselves from the inside to the outside. It has been the most rewarding. I have worked with some incredible and some even really famous celebrities. However working with a high profile person is not nearly as rewarding as knowing you saved a life or saved a marriage.


Q. I think many people want to incorporate more vegan foods into their diet but don't know how. How would you recommend people begin transitioning to a more plant-based diet?


I highly recommend before even eliminating certain foods from one's diet, i recommend buying a Vita-mix and begin drinking green smoothies daily. I alwayyyyys use Spinach as my green base. It seems to hide nicely where as kale and swiss chard stand out over fruit. Once you have integrated green smoothies at least 4-5 days a week. Start taking out one processed, packaged, preserved, meat, diary, egg, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, saturated trans fatty product at a time. BABY STEPS are the key to success. A great green smoothie is Spinach, Strawberries, Banana, 1 T Maca, Lucuma or some kind of superfood powder, Almond or Hemp Milk & ICE.

DELICIOUS!

7. You knew I was gonna ask you for a recipe! Please share!?

 

purple_saladProbably my most famous vegetable dish is my maple miso brussels sprouts. I have converted many brussels sprout haters in brussels sprout eaters from this dish alone. 

 

MAPLE MISO BRUSSELS SPROUTS

 

Ingredients:
1 C Cup Olive Oil
1/4 +1 T C Maple Syrup
1/2 C Mellow White Miso or Red Miso ( I like red)
2 T Tamari
Brussel Sprouts - 12 CUPS (roughly) The more you use the less saucy. The less the more saucy

 

 

Instructions:

 

1.Blend all Liquids in blender until super smooth and creamy.

 

2. Half Brussel Sprouts if they are small. Quarter them if they are larger. Toss Halved or Quartered Brussels Sprouts in sauce.

 

3. Spread evenly on large baking pan and bake at 450 degrees for 25-45 minutes, or until brown and crispy areas are visible.

 

4. You will know when they are done because the top will be burnt almost. That is the most flavorful version of this. Dark Brown Tops. If you take them out too early, it changes the entire experience.

There you have it! I hope you take a few tidbits that feel authentic to you and incorporate them into your life. For me personally, I am taking away how much we are parents can impact our children by making healthy choices in all areas of our lives. We can change the way future generations relate to food, the animals and the planet! So powerful!

You rock Cody! Thanks for making our world a better place!! 

To learn more about Codycheck out his facebookand don’t forget to “Like” The Vegan Lifestyle Academy.

(Oh how I wish there was a love button!)


You can also catch up with him on Twitter and Instagram

Instagram: VeganLifestyleAcademy

 

Twitter: VeganLA

Tuesday, 16 October 2012 18:07

What Is Oil Cleansing?

essential-oilsI’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to clear up my skin. No joke. Skin peels, harsh antibiotics and expensive creams did little to solve the problem and sometimes made it worse. While a clean dairy-free diet helps, around that time of the month, my skin still looked like that of a hormonal teenager. WTF? I’m thirty-one years old! Clear, glowing, dewy-looking skin, free of imperfections seemed like an elusive dream to me.

Throughout the years, estheticians and dermatologists all gave me different advice, but could agree on one thing:

Stay away from oil-based products.

I never questioned this theory because it made sense.  Why would I put oil on my skin if oil is causing the problem to begin with? What I know now is that we’ve all fallen prey to the (billion dollar) beauty industry’s claims that we must strip our skin of oil completely and apply burning chemicals to prevent aging, acne and imperfections. Skin. Truth. Fail.

A few months ago I saw my friend Jessica post that she was using only oil to cleanse her skin. I’m all for experimenting, so I gave it a go and for the last two months, I have been washing my face with coconut oil** and a Norwex washcloth only. I know it sounds crazy. I mean, who cleanses their face with oil right?? Well, the results are nothing short of amazing. Not perfection, but huge progress! I am seriously shocked.

How could it possibly work? Basically what you’re doing is dissolving and wiping away all the nasty oil from your face and replenishing it with clean, nourishing oil. This is good, because when you strip your skin of its sebum, it goes into overdrive, trying to create more. This leads to clogged pores. Not hot!

Still don’t believe me? This is a direct quote from acne.org (Could someone please forward it to all the estheticians and dermatologists please?

“Oil dissolves oil. One of the most basic principles of chemistry is that “like dissolves like.” The best way to dissolve a non-polar solvent like sebum/oil, is by using another non-polar solvent similar in composition: other oils. By using the right oils, you can cleanse your pores of dirt and bacteria naturally, gently and effectively, while replacing the dirty oil with beneficial ones extracted from natural botanicals, vegetables and fruit that heal, protect and nourish your skin. When done properly and consistently, the OCM can clear the skin from issues like oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, blackheads, whiteheads and other problems caused by mild to moderate acne–while leaving your skin healthy, balanced and properly moisturized.”

I know right? Your mind = Blown! Of course you want to give it a try.

Here are some oil suggestions:

Good Oil Cleansing Varieties

Jojoba (all skin types, but best for acne-prone skin)
Sweet almond (all skin types, especially oily)
Grapeseed (all skin types, especially oily)
Avocado (dry and aging skin)
Sunflower Seed (all skin types)
Olive (all skin types)
Apricot Kernel (dry, aging, and normal skin)
Argan (all skin types, especially aging skin … very pricey)
Tamanu (all skin types … very pricey...as in get ready to sell your first born.)

Other sites recommend Castor Oil because it pulls out impurities.

Here are some ratios for mixing your own blend: 
Oily Skin: Try a blend of 30% Castor Oil to 70% Sunflower Seed Oil.
Balanced Skin: Try a blend of 20% Castor Oil to 80% Sunflower Seed Oil.
Dry Skin: Try a blend of 10% Castor Oil to 90% Sunflower Seed Oil.

Just like our bodies react differently to different foods, our skin will react differently to different cleansing methods. I encourage you to be your own esthetician and do what works for you.  Play around with it and be patient.   What works for me may not work for you.

If you’re interested in learning more and getting some great instructions regarding oil cleansing, I’d recommend these sites:

Sorta Crunchy
Keeper of the Home
High on Health

**It wasn’t until after I used coconut oil for the cleansing that I read about how it can clog pores when used for cleansing. I never had this issue, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Monday, 01 October 2012 16:57

Why Coconut Oil Rocks

coconut_tree_in_napiliI freaking love coconut oil. So much so that I’ve actually frozen it overnight so I could sneak it on the airplane with me. (Hardcore. I know.) It has so many uses and as David Wolfe said,

“Coconuts are one of the greatest gifts to this planet. No matter where you are, what you have done, how much you have mistreated your body, coconut flesh, water, cream and/or oil can save your life.”

The other day, I caught myself doing something I swear I would never do; arguing with someone on Facebook. (Okay, so it wasn't really a fight, but more an agree-to-disagree type of thing.) In my defense, they were bashing coconut oil and calling it unhealthy.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t turn into a protective mother bear. Nobody says bad things about my sweet little angel coconut oil and lives to speak any more injustices.

I’m kidding.......Sort of.

With that being said, I dug deep into my notes from Integrative Nutrition and one of my favorite books on the planet, Superfoods By David Wolfe. In his book, he details the top ten most powerful food ON THE PLANET. Guess who made the list?

All things coconut. Oil included.

Thats right folks. Coconut oil and coconut cream have been used for food and other medicinal properties since the dawn of time. Loaded with antioxidants and great for thyroid health, blood sugar issues and the nervous system, coconut oil is become more mainstream every day. Here are a few more benefits straight out of David Wolfe’s book:

- Improved digestion and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and amino acids, 
I can just see you shaking your head and

-Contain healthy anti-viral, anti-fungal, and antimicrobial saturated fatty acids, helping to naturally fight off viruses, bacteria and fungal growth.

-Improve absorption of calcium and magnesium

-Regulate and support health hormone function.

-Increase the speed of the thyroid function, thus allowing the body to drop weight and accumulated toxins.

And the list actually goes on. Way on! I can see you shaking your head and throwing your hands up in disgust. I know what you’re thinking. 

With all these awesome benefits, how could ANYONE say ANYTHING bad about coconut oil? 

Calm down my child. Let me explain.

Many people take one look at the coconut oil label and they see the high levels of saturated fats. (I remember one of the health coaches in Costa Rica telling me about how she got into a fight with a nutritionist over coconut oil and saturated fats. HEALTH COACHES ARE HARDCORE!) Before you too jump the gun, let me explain the truth behind saturated fats and why there is so much false information out there.

We’ve all been “trained” to believe that ALL saturated fats are bad. What people don’t realize is that unlike the high-calorie, cholesterol-soaked, long-chain saturated fats found in meat and dairy products, coconut oil is made from raw saturated fats containing mostly medium-chain fatty acids. This means the body can metabolize them very efficiently and convert them right to energy.

Coconut oil/cream actually restores natural saturated fat levels to the skin. These saturated fat levels are imperative for growing children and their nervous system. Coconuts contain no appreciable levels of cholesterol and actually support heart health.

Many studies have been done to support these claims too. Farm animals fed coconut oil never gained weight. When this oil was replaced by soy oils, they did. In other cultures, where coconuts are a staple, they not only have thriving health, but do no have any of the health issues we have in America.

Just in case you need more proof, Dr. Raymond Peat (a leading researcher in the field of hormones) had this to say about coconut products:

“When regularly added to a balanced diet, lower cholesterol to normal by promoting their conversion into pregnenolone. Pregnenolone is also the precursor to many hormones including progesterone......Pregnenolone is a major factor that gives coconut products their beautifying qualities. It improves circulation, gives the face a lift, restores sagging skin, and reduces bags under the eyes by promoting the contractions of muscle-like cells. Pregnenolone counters fatigue, enhances memory, protects the nerves from stress and has anti-anxiety properties.”

So there you have it. Or at least you have my perspective on it. That’s the tricky thing about nutrition. It’s the only science where you can prove and disprove theories. You can prove meat is good for you. You can prove it’s bad for you. The same goes for dairy and even coconut oil. The key is to try it yourself and listen to your own bodies cues. For me, it’s been a powerful component of my diet and skin care regimen and I will defend it always.

** On a side note, if you’re wanting to try some of this super awesomeness in a jar, make sure it’s cold-pressed, organic if possible, and in a glass bottle, preferably a dark one.

Monday, 17 September 2012 18:27

Thirteen Rules For Healthy Weight Loss

Yes, it's a tad ironic that me, the girl who once lost weight in soooo many unhealthy ways, is now giving you advice on healthy weight loss. I promise I'm legit though. Just to prove it, my dad is down almost 40 pounds since July 10th. While living with a health and nutrition coach apple-weight-loss-dietsurely helps, he has also had to be accountable for his actions. Yes he backtracks on the road a little bit, (And yes, I chew him out) but he is really making huge strides.

Hey, progress not perfection right?

Let’s be real. Weight loss is hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Sure commitment and determination are what will propel you, but sometimes those things are not enough. I’ve put together a list of the top thirteen tips that will help you lose weight and get in touch with the parts of yourself that need healing most.

Ready or Not........

GO TO BED HUNGRY

Hardest. Thing. Ever. Do you agree? I still struggle with this one, but, if I were to give you one challenge, that would change your body and your outlook on food, this would be it. Go to bed hungry. Your body, on average, should go at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. Try it for a week and see what happens. Have a cup of tea, go for a walk or do some deep breathing. Make it work folks. Make it work.

DON’T DRINK YOUR CALORIES

Unless you’re chugging a green juice, drinking straight out of a coconut, or slamming a kombucha tea, stick to water. Pure and simple. Empty calories from bottled juice or soda make my heart feel super sad. You don’t need them and your body doesn’t need them. Say “Laters baby” to all your sugary drinks and don’t look back.

What? Diet Soda?  No you can’t have diet soda either. It’s actually worse than regular soda and causes weight gain, depression and a whole list of other health problems. In fact, if I had to chug a diet soda or a regular soda, I'd take a regular soda anyday. I'm not too keen on drinking neurotoxins anymore.

Say it with me. WATER. WATER. WATER.

EAT REAL FOOD

Simple right? Actually, today it’s harder than you think. We are a society that lives off prepackaged foods and quick, easy meals. We believe Big Macs are food and highly processed GMO protein bars are actually healthy. A rule of thumb is to eat food as close to it’s natural source as possible. Food shouldn’t contain chemicals. The longer the shelf life, the shorter yours.

HAVE A CHEAT MEAL

One of my fave Geneen Roth quotes? “The fourth law of the universe. For every diet, there is an equal and opposite binge.” I lived this law of starving and binging for years and I swear by it. Don’t deprive yourself. Have a cheat meal! You shouldn’t have to walk around depressed because you ate bread and pasta. Hey, you’re human! My dad’s favorite thing in the world was his mother’s homemade noodles. I made them for him the other night and we talked about my grandma and how much we missed her. The meal was a wonderful reminder that the food that nourishes our body is secondary. It’s time together that counts.

CHEW YOUR FOOD AND PUT DOWN YOUR FORK BETWEEN BITES

When I was with my dad in Boston, we went out to dinner at a beautiful seafood restaurant. I challenged my dad to put his fork down in between bites and look around. We noticed so much that we wouldn’t have otherwise and really connected with one another. From a nutritional standpoint, digestion begins in your mouth. Aim to chew each bite of food twenty times. (I know you busy moms are shaking your head and rolling your eyes at me right now. We don’t chew food. We inhale it. Am I right?) Trust me on this one though. Mindfulness + Chewing = MAGIC

CROWD OUT

This simple yet underestimated concept was one of my biggest “A-HA” moments while at Institute For Integrative Nutrition. Add in healthy things and your cravings for the bad things will dissipate over time. Add veggies to every meal. I eat steamed spinach or kale with my breakfast every morning.  My dad has been on Shakeolgy for a month and says he no longer craves sweets. It’s not a cure-all, but it does really make a difference. WINNING!

KEEP A FOOD JOURNAL

The food diary is a super powerful tool to bring awareness to your eating patterns and what foods resonate with your body. It's fun and isn't meant to be a punishment. Stay free of judgment, grab a notebook and keep it with you throughout the day. Simply write down what you ate, how much, and how you felt after both physically and emotionally afterwards.

While atThe Institute For Integrative Nutritionwe were given the following guide to help clients in determining the impact certain foods have on them. Because I love you all so much I want to share it with you! 

Physical symptoms are bodily sensations.
1. Clues for imbalance: headaches, stomach pain, muscle cramps, coughing, fatigue,
insomnia, restlessness, shakiness, muscle weakness, poor concentration, pallor
2. Clues for balance: bright eyes, hunger, stamina, natural deep breathing, high energy, restful   
sleep, focus, alertness, strength, good attention span, good color

Emotional symptoms may be a little harder to notice.
1. Clues for imbalance: anxious, bored, scared, mad, sad, depressed, scattered, restless,
irritable, agitated, hyper
2. Clues for balance: confident, excited, energized, humorous, happy, interested, focused,
calm, relaxed, easygoing, patient

FAIL TO PREPARE AND BE PREPARED TO FAIL

So, when my dad left for work the other morning, he was set with a green juice, shakeology and huge jug of water. It made my heart explode with happiness when he said, “Look Rach, I’m double fisting it.” (virtual chest bump and high five!) He knows that if he’s not prepared, he will eat crap if it’s nearby. My advice is to spend 15-20 minutes at night preparing for the next day. Cut up veggies, grill your chicken, make your shakes and be ready to go the next morning. What? You don’t have time? Do you have time to feel like shit? BAM! I just went there.

WATCH FOR KNOWN FOOD ALLERGENS

From what I have seen with my own clients, wheat and dairy are the main culprits. For the first week I had my dad on this new way of eating, I cut both from his diet. (He didn’t even know. Shhhhh.) He dropped 13.4 pounds in 7 days. Wheat and dairy are both culprits for weight gain and contribute to more health problems than you could imagine. If you are congested, experience skin issues, or feel sluggish and bloated, I encourage you to cut these out for yourself for one week. I double dog dare you and promise it will be worth it.

LEARN TO READ LABELS

Rule of thumb? Unless the ingredients consist of kale and other superfoods, stick to five ingredients or less and make sure you can pronounce them. The other day my dad came home with tortillas made with organic corn, lime juice and water. (Next time you're at the store, take a look at what is in tortillas these days. YIKES!) He also had organic spinach and some whole food bars for the girls.  He was so cute and so proud of himself because he read the label and the ingredients instead of falling for the deceptive packaging on most of the items on the shelf. As I taught my dad, and for the record, all natural doesn’t mean anything anymore. For example, high fructose corn syrup is all natural but couldn’t be worse for you.

KNOW YOUR WHY

Not too long ago, I broke down to my dad. I told him how much I loved him and how I cannot imagine my life without him. He’s sixty-years-old and this is when health problems really start. He is overweight and his legs were starting to really bother him. I said things like, “Do you want to be around to see Presley get married?” and “You work so hard to build successful businesses and you need to be around to enjoy them.” Why do you want to be healthy? What’s in your future that you don’t want to miss? Ask yourself these questions and find a way to keep your “why” in the forefront of your mind. 

BE KIND TO YOURSELF

Want to hear the most magical common-sense advice I will ever share with you? The biggest misconception about weight loss and health is that we change if we are hard on ourselves. Bullshit. We don’t change by force, shame, guilt, deprivation or fear. We change by self-compassion. Sure you can lose weight, but you won’t change internally where it matters most. You’ll gain the weight back and be back to square one. I always tell clients to treat yourself and your weight loss journey like you would treat your best friend if he or she was going through it. Your true self cannot be exposed when you are constantly judging yourself. This is where a health coach may come in handy!

DIG A LITTLE DEEPER

When I first start working with clients and weight loss, I would always hear the same thing, “I just like food. I just like to eat. That’s my biggest problem.” I love to eat too, but there is something active inside of me now that doesn’t have the desire to go through three fast food places in an afternoon. (Yes, I did that many years ago.) You see, it’s never really about food. Ask yourself what you are using food for that you cannot express directly. What feelings come up for you before you overeat? Past abuse, unhealed relationships and unresolved feelings of unworthiness all play into our decision to leave our bodies and overeat when life gets hard.

Without a doubt, this is the most important of all the rules. You may not want to hear that, but it's true. Please believe me when I say that it is possible to heal. Have faith in yourself. If someone as insane around food as me can change, anyone can. Total healing is possible. I promise!

Monday, 10 September 2012 17:48

Ten Products I Cannot Live Without

I thought it would be fun to compile a list of some of the products that make my heart super happy. Almost all of these make a daily appearance in my life and I hope if you decide to try them, that you love them as much as I do.  

With that being said, here is my list of products I love and cannot live without.

Drumroll please.....

kombucha1 

Kombucha 

GT’s Enlightened Kombucha products came about after the creator’s mother had success while drinking it during her battle with breast cancer. This raw fermented tea is not only tasty, but loaded with antioxidants and probiotics. Even my kids drink it! This is a super heathy alternative to soda and sugar juices. My favorites are the Botanic Number 7. Multi-green and Cherry Chiaseed.

Organix-South-TheraNeem-Neem-Stick-Lip-Therape-666183000451

Neem Chapstick  

Dry lips suck. The only chapstick I have ever found that actually heals dry lips is Neem Stick made with neem oil and coconut oil. I swear once you go Neem, you’ll never go back. This stuff really works and it’s all I buy for our family. The company also has lotions for dry skin which has done wonders for my oldest daughters dry arms.
 

MarysGoneCrackerscrackers

Mary’s Gone Crackers 

These gluten-free crackers are probably the best invention since the New Kids On The Block Cruise. I’m actually eating them as I type this. With 3 grams of fiber, these brown rice, quinoa, flax and sesame seed crackers are a staple in my house. Dip them in nut butter for a quick snack or my favorite, top with goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes and balsamic. If you’re not excited about these, you should be.

images

Shakeology

Pretty much my crack cocaine. I can tell when I haven’t had a shake. Packed with the healthiest superfoods on the planet and raw sprouted ingredients, you will not find a shake like this anywhere on the market. I've replaced my whole cabinet of superfoods with this all-in-one shake. I'm in love with the chocolate vegan! Add some coconut butter, ice and a little almond milk, and you’ll have yourself a party in a glass!
 

coconut_bliss

Coconut Bliss Ice Cream 

My little one has a dairy allergy so I was looking for an “ice cream” she could have. With 6 grams of fiber and packed with healthy fats, Coconut Bliss makes my happy light glow. My whole family loves it and my husband actually thinks it’s better than regular ice cream. I recommend the Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge but you can’t go wrong with any of them.

amazinggrass

Amazing Grass Energy Packets

Remember when I said Shakeology was my crack cocaine? Well, I lied. These lemon-lime flavored packets of whole-food based goodness contain 85 mg of plant based caffeine from green tea and yerba mate’ extract so you won’t feel jittery or crash like you do with coffee. Did I mention they also contain wheatgrass, digestive enzymes, probiotics and are only 30 calories. Sheesh. Who needs coffee? Want to read more? Click here

gomacro-macrobars

Macrobars

While I don’t see mydear friend Jenny nearly enough, when I do, it’s an all out superfood fest. The last time we saw each other in Long Beach, we hugged and then both ran to our suitcases to show each other our newest health food obsessions. Talking over one another with excitement, we had our other roommate Jeannie shaking her head and laughing.  I’ll never forget when she handed me a coconut granola Macrobar. I could have been mistaken for the chick in the Herbal Essences commercial while eating it. Yep, they’re that good, not to mention, high protein, gluten free, USDA organic, vegan, GMO free and macrobiotic.

yogitea

Yogi Tea

In my opinion, one of the best feelings in the world is curling up with a cup of tea and a good book. Yogi tea is by far my favorite tea on the market. Sure I love the flavors, but the inspirational sayings on the tea bags make Yogi Tea the modern day holistic version of the fortune cookie. Peach detox, Women’s Energy, Green Tea Goji Berry and Bedtime tea get two very enthusiastic thumbs up from me.

ziggy

Ziggy Marley Lemon Ginger Coconut Oil

I almost didn’t put this one on here simply because I feel like it deserves its own post. Organic, unrefined, non-deodorized, and cold-pressed, I use this oil for everything. While it’s wonderful for cooking and baking,  it’s my lotion, my face cream, my everything. This is truly my beauty BFF. If I could have a love affair with any product in the world, this coconut oil would be it. Get your mind out of the gutter and get your butt to Natural Grocer’s to get some. It’s on sale right now.

norwex_anitbac_starter_pack

Norwex Cleaning Products

I was recently introduced to these products through my longtime friend Julia. After getting the spiel I can sum up my reaction in two words. Mind. Blown. I’ve been using the products for about 2 weeks now and I’m officially in love. I even do windows now! I never see myself going back to the old-school way of cleaning, especially with all the money I’ll be saving. All you need is water and your Norwex cleaning towels. I’m serious.

Straight from the company’s website, “The mission of Norwex is to improve the quality of life by radically reducing the use of chemicals in personal care and cleaning.  With a commitment to effective cleaning, responsible care for the earth, and the power of information, together we can become a generation to leave behind a legacy of improved quality of life. Their cleaning products will save you time & money, improve health, and move towards creating a better environment.  Norwex microfiber goes beyond "surface clean" with the innovative use of silver particles integrated into synthetic microfiber cloth.

I don’t sell Norwex, but if you’re interested,hit up my friend Julia and check out her site!

There you have it! Ten of my favorite products at the moment. I'm always open to finding more awesome products and I'd love to hear some of your favorites too!

Tuesday, 04 September 2012 16:06

The Breakfast Experiment

IMG_OatmealOne of the coolest and most worthwhile experiments I did while at The Institute For Integrative Nutrition was The Breakfast Experiment. This simple, yet powerful procedure is a glorious way of tuning into your body and learning to listen to its messages. By exploring eating a different breakfast for a week, you’ll gain body wisdom that will stay with you forever. Jot down what you eat and how you feel, both right after eating and again two hours later. After you finish eating, take a few minutes and reflect. Record your energy level, mood, and even physical symptoms. Yes folks, it’s all connected and the food we put in our bodies is very telling if we choose to listen. What’s cool is that you may discover you’re actually really sensitive to certain foods. True story.

Here is a quick outline of what a week of breakfast might look like:

Day 1 Eggs
Day 2 Scrambled Tofu
Day 3 Oatmeal
Day 4 Boxed cereal
Day 5 Muffin and coffee
Day 6 Fresh Fruit or Vegetables
Day 7 Toast with peanut butter or almond butter

What’s funny is that when I began this, I never considered myself much of a breakfast person. Ironically, while doing this experiment, I noticed that fruit was simply not enough for me. I was starving all day long. Of all the foods I tried in the morning, I ended up creating an amazing oatmeal that sustained me all the way to lunch. Winning! 

Of course, I would never leave you hanging on the most amazing oatmeal ever! You all know I’m a sucker for super foods, so obviously, this oatmeal is loaded.

Super Food Oatmeal

1/3 cup oatmeal

1/3 oat bran

2 tablespoons chia seeds

Small handful of goji berries, blueberries or raspberries

1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional) 

1 teaspoon almond butter (optional)

Directions

Mix oatmeal and oat bran

Add boiling water

Mix in chia seeds and almond butter.

Top with fruit and enjoy!

Thursday, 26 July 2012 14:42

Week Three Of The Ultimate Reset

ultimate-reset-day-21Alright folks, I know this post is late. I could rattle off a list of excuses, but instead, I’ll just say, life got busy. With that being said, here is my final recap on the Beachbody Ultimate Reset.

As I write the final recap, I know it looks nothing like what I anticipated. I figured I would feel amazing, have a new zest for life and be recommending it to everyone I know. It’s gotten rave reviews from anyone and everyone who has tried it.

On the final week of the reset, I felt irritable, isolated and hungry. I actually had to go back to eating the week one meal plan because the food was simply not enough. I love me some fruits and veggies but need more than that for a meal. I know this is an extreme example, but I felt like I did when I was in the heart of my eating disorder. I couldn’t go out to eat with my family, or eat pizza with the kids. I was thinking about food all the time. My life revolved around food and having to follow a strict meal plan brought some serious stuff up for me. With my history, I almost feel irresponsible for taking on the challenge. So, I listened to my inner voice, and I quit.

That’s right, Saturday (Sunday was my last day) I decided to bail on my reset and soak up some primary food; a term coined by the Institute For Integrative Nutrition. Primary food, or in other words, food that nourishes our soul, is often overlooked in our fast-paced world. When we want to lose weight or change our eating habits, we often forget that the process involves more than what we put on our plates. Doing the Ultimate Reset has reminded me that primary food truly is the most important part of any health and wellness goals. Especially for someone like myself who spent years focusing on secondary food.

“Food is more than what you find on your plate.  Healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career and a spiritual practice can fill your soul and satisfy your hunger for life. When primary food is balanced and satiated, your life feeds you, making what you eat secondary. Remember when, as a child, you were playing outside, having fun? Suddenly your mother announced dinner was ready, but you were not hungry at all. The passion of play took all your attention. Or think back to a time when you were passionately in love. Everything was exciting. Colors were vibrant. Intimacy was magical. Your feelings of exhilaration sustained you. You forgot about food and were high on life. Sometimes we are fed not by food but by the energy in our lives. Modern nutrition – carbs, proteins, fruits, and vegetables – is really just one source of nourishment, which Integrative Nutrition considers secondary food. Secondary foods nourish our bodies, but are not able to give us the joy, meaning, or fulfillment that primary food provides. We hunger for play, fun, touch, romance, intimacy, love, achievement, success, art, music, self-expression, leadership, excitement, adventure, and spirituality. All these elements are essential forms of nourishment, and the extent to which we are able to incorporate them determines how enjoyable and worthwhile our lives feel.”

While doing this reset, my primary food was lacking. Big time. So much so that I ended up with strep throat and the flu. I got into the rut of comparing my experience to everyone else’s. Why don’t I feel amazing? Energized? Like a new person? Why do I feel like shit? Depressed even?

I reflected on this concept and landed on the fact that my journey is different, and often a solitary one when it comes to food. I’m an extrovert and my energy comes from being around people. I need nights out on the town and the occasional pizza night with the kids in order to feel balanced and whole.  This doesn't make me faulty, it makes me human. While I do struggle to accept this at times, it is what it is. Counting calories, calculated one-size-fits-all meal plans, weigh-ins each morning, and strict rules don’t fit me and they sure as hell don't fit my recovery. They trigger me into a place I never want to be again and I should have known better. While I’m grateful for the experience, my blog is about honesty, and the reset is not something I would do again.

So, I'm back to eating intuitively. I ditched that silly scale (I forgot how much I hate being a slave to that thing) and am allowing my food to be a reflection of what resonates with me. Yes, it feels good to be back.

**I do want to stress that just because this reset did not resonate with me, does not mean it’s not a great program. There are hundreds of people who have transformed their lives and relationships with food. Some of them I know personally. Unless your story is similar to mine, I encourage you to google some success stories and like anything, be the judge for yourself!

Thursday, 19 July 2012 13:23

Quinoa "Fried Rice"

As you may or may not know, my dad has been living with us. It’s so great to have him here and I love being able to cook him healthy meals. Just by getting him on these awesome superfood shakes and eating organic whole foods, he’s lost 16.8 lbs in a week! (Perhaps living with a health coach helps too?) 6a00d83451d48a69e200e55371a9598834-800wi

I think the coolest part of watching him experience the beauty of whole foods is that he’s not hungry. He still eats carbs and fats and never feels deprived. He actually pushed part of his meal away the other night because he was full. It was truly a Kodak moment.

One of my dad’s favorite recipes I’ve made so far, was the quinoa “fried rice.” It's also my oldest daughter's favorite. (She calls quinoa baby noodles.)  I love this dish because it's loaded with veggies and full of flavor! In case you’ve been living in a cave, or um, at McDonald’s this past year, quinoa is a protein-rich seed that is a staple for many vegans and vegetarians. It’s a perfect protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids found in animal proteins.  Super cool right?

If you're not vegetarian, feel free to add some high quality animal protein to this dish. If you're vegan, omit the egg. Basically, this is your dish, so do what you want with it :)

Quinoa "Fried Rice"

2 tbsp sesame oil
1 t minced garlic
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup green onions
3 to 4 cups cooked quinoa
2 tbsp mirin (rice wine vinegar)
3 tbsp Bragg’s liquid aminos (use soy sauce or shoyu if you don’t have Bragg’s)
3 eggs
salt + pepper, to taste

Directions

Over medium heat, saute garlic in sesame oil for roughly 1 minute. Add vegetables and cook until thawed, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add quinoa**, soy sauce and mirin. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until quinoa has absorbed the liquid.

In the middle of your saucepan, push fried quinoa to the side to create a hole. Crack eggs inside the hole and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Gently mix the quinoa and eggs. Let cook for an additional minute. Mix again. Repeat until egg is completely cooked. Season with salt + pepper.

Top with green onions

**quinoa needs to be briefly rinsed before cooking to remove the coating containing the bitter-tasting saponins.

Monday, 16 July 2012 20:40

Week Two Of The Ultimate Reset

vegetablesWell, I did it. I’m officially on week 3 of the Beachbody Ultimate Reset! In case you forgot, week 2 is when you completely eliminate animal products, including diary, eggs, and meat. You’ll move into a more vegetable, fruit, and whole-grain based diet. You add in the detox supplement, which is designed to restore optimum health to your entire gastrointestinal tract, while detoxifying your body.

The book claims that many people experience skin breakouts, while others find themselves releasing toxic emotions they have been holding on to. Check and check! What a week is all I can say. According to others, week 1 was supposed to be the hardest. I however, found week 2 to be more challenging. Here’s why:

In week 2 you are on a vegan diet. I didn't feel as satisfied as I did in week 1. Though I have been vegan in the past, I was also addicted to diet pills and had no sense of hunger or fullness. This phase of the program was a great reminder that my body does better with a little bit of high quality animal protein like organic eggs and wild-caught fish. I need more grounding foods in my diet as I felt a bit flighty this week.

Week 2 I did not stick to the meal plan 100%.  With 100 degree heat, I avoided the oven like the plague and substituted stir-frying and steaming for the baked dishes. (I would be lying if I said I hadn’t mastered the stir-fry. Be. Still. My. Heart. It was divine!) I also fell in love with the vegan sushi and the zucchini-cashew soup, so I made extra and indulged in those in place of other meals. The biggest blessing of all was that in phase 2 I was able to substitute the vegan Shakeology which is super easy and convenient. I also must confess, I didn’t sway from whole foods, but I did cheat. My dear friend Jenny over at Healthy Crush sent me the most amazing house warming gift from one of my favorite raw food companies so I had to indulge a little. (If you haven’t tried Two Moms in the Raw, you’re missing out!)

I had a few challenges this week as well. One was cooking so many meals. I would create 3 meals for myself, 3 for the kids and I was also cooking for my dad. (My husband was out of town.) I felt like I was living in my kitchen. I can imagine this reset would be much easier for people who live alone and aren’t temped by the crust of a grilled cheese sandwich too. I was having some cravings for carbs and would have probably sold my first born for a cheesy breadstick if I hadn't made such a strong commitment to myself.

Another challenge was feeling like a bit of a loner. In our culture, we use to food to connect with one another, and we eat everywhere we go! We meet for lunch, eat at the movies, and buy snacks at the pool. When we’re bored, we eat! When it’s hot, we go get ice cream. I found myself not really wanting to do much so I had to purposely commit to things. I signed up to do The Dirty Dash, a 5k muddy obstacle course where you chug beer halfway through. (Yes, I skipped the beer and the after party. Are you proud of me?)

One thing I wasn’t really prepared for was feeling weepy and having low-level anxiety.  I now know this was simply part of the process and detoxing your physical body also releases emotions that no longer serve you.   As someone with a traumatic history of emotional eating, I must say that this week it was quite powerful to experience my body and emotions fully; without the interference of turning to food in order to cope. I’ve come to understand over the years that our relationship with food is nothing but an expression of what is going on internally. Our bodies match our beliefs. It really is that simple. I felt that more than ever this week. Through this process, I’ve been able to connect even deeper with the fact that food is nothing more than something to sustain and nourish me. I give it too much power at times. The thought of doing anything to disrupt that bliss has completely lost its appeal. Experiencing and learning more about myself and my relationship has become my main intention for the following week. In other words, the process has become the goal.

Let me get off my soapbox now. Whew! The week was intense but worthwhile. Overall, I feel pretty dang good today. I only lost a pound, but I’m more than okay with that since my intention was never to lose weight and at 130 pounds, I’m right where I should be and I've learned that trusting my body is all part of the journey.

In week 3 I will be restoring my body and adding the revitalize supplement to my diet. Although you are given the option to cut back further on grains, I’m saying, "Hell No!” to that one. Grains, you are my friend and I need you this week! I’m a busy mama and I need all the fuel I can get! Stay tuned :)

Friday, 13 July 2012 20:10

Zucchini Cashew Soup

This week on my reset, I've gotten to experiment even further with some amazing yet simple recipes. Since I'm sharing a few of my favorites with you, I couldn't leave this soup out! It's so easy to make and so delicious! It's surprisingly filling too. I tweaked it a little bit and added some spinach, garlic and black pepper. Why wouldn't I? 

Please don't let the fact that this soup looks like baby food deceive you. It's divine!

On a side note, If you don't have Bragg's Liquid Aminos sitting around, feel free to use some sea salt.

What?? You don't know what Bragg's is? Well then you need to check this out pronto.

Now for the recipe. Misc-Gr-Soup-Kale-038_edited-1

Ingredients

1 large or 2 small zucchini cut into chunks and steamed

2 handfuls steamed spinach

1/4 cup raw cashews

Fresh Herbs (I used 2 huge handfuls of cilantro. Dill or basil would be another option.)

2 cloves chopped garlic

Salt or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (to taste)

Directions

Soak cashews in enough water to cover for one hour. Drain. Combine cashews, zucchini, salt or aminos, and herbs in a blender, and mix until smooth, adding water as needed for desired consistency. Pour into saucepan and reheat gently, but not to a boil. For chunky soup, you can add steamed or chopped veggies of your choice! I topped mine with some chives and onions because that's how I roll.  

This recipe serves 1, so if you want more, feel free to double or triple the recipe.

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