Tuesday, December 27, 2011

CYH's Song of the Moment: Cornflake Girl (LIVE)

I don't care how old or played out this song is. If you crank it and don't get chills during her piano solos, you aren't human!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Best Albums of 2011

This is that fun time of year again to tally up my favorite albums of the year. I originally wasn't going to do this because I'vItalice been so tight for time, but I couldn't resist. It's always hard figuring out which makes the cut, especially when great albums like My Morning Jacket's Circuital, Radiohead's King of Limbs (as frustrating as the release of this album was, I still adore aspects of it), Mayer Hawthorne's How Do You Do, The Antlers Burst Apart, and the lovely surprise of a new Atlas Sound, Parallex. There was also something endearing about Vetiver's Errant Charm that got me...but I could go on all day with more artists and tracks. Below is my top 10 album list of 2011 (in no particular order), and a fun track on YouTube to bop to while you browse the list.

"Stone Rollin'" from Raphael Saadiq's new one this year. I love his soulful goodness and this video is uber sexy!!

Lauren's Top 10 Albums of 2011:
Washed Out - Within and Without
Youth Lagoon - Year of Hibernation
Braids - Native Speaker
Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
Theivery Corporation - Culture of Fear
Mutemath - Odd Blood
Cut Copy - Zonoscope
Panda Bear - Tomboy
The Roots - Undun
Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire

...and since these are just a few tracks, Pickwick - their only few songs are loaded with soul (album coming in 2012, I hope!)

What were your favorite albums of the year? Do tell-

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Heart Clementines

Clementines are my favorite fruits this time of the year!!! They're effortless to peel, usually seedless, so juicy, and delicious! I like playing a game with myself and seeing if I could peel it without tearing the peel to shreds. It's hard but most of the time I can get it and it looks all pretty and flowery. Here is one that I opened today. :) The best part is the fresh citrus smell they leave on your hands...i love clementines!

Health Benefits
Clementines are a sweet citrus fruit available throughout the wintertime, mid-November through March. They are packed with fiber, vitamin C, folate, and potassium. They are also very rich in antioxidants such as beta-carotene as well as ascorbic acid, nutrients which when consumed on a daily basis reduces age-related vision loss. Yay!

History & Fun Fact
The history of the clementine is unclear in many ways. Some believe it was an Algerian monk that first discovered the natural hybrid fruit. (Clementines are a hybrid between a sweet orange and a Chinese mandarin.) Others believe that the clementine originated in China much earlier. Either way, in 1909, the fruit came to the USA, and is now enjoyed as a winter favorite by Americans everywhere. The majority of clementines are imported from Spain, Morocco and North Africa. Although its always better to eat locally grown produce, we can make an acceptation for these! Clementine Jane, (pictured on left) is also my best gal pal's doggie. She is the sweetest girlfriend in Manhattan and each time she see's her Auntie Lauren she starts yelping and screaming with excitement!

Selection & Storage Tips
Clementines should be bright orange and slightly glossy. Purchase those that are firm, yet give a slight indentation when you squeeze them. Make sure they have no blemishes, and especially no shriveled skin. They can be stored up to a week in a bowl at room temperature. They will last two weeks in the refrigerator. Clementines make a great snack anytime, and are also a nice addition to salads, both fruit salads and green, leafy salads. The juice of clementines can be added to salad dressings for a sweet, refreshing tang! However you prefer your clementines, enjoy them all through the winter while they are at their best. Go buy some!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Introducing Fork+Plate! How to Make Hummus Video

I'm excited to announce that I'll be featuring video blogs from my talented and beautiful friend, Davina Thomasula, of Fork+Plate! This past year she was on the reality TV show on Food Network, 24 Hour Restaurant Battle where her and her partner WON! Please visit her site for plenty of more How-To videos in the kitchen!

Here is a video with Davina on how to make hummus!

About Fork+Plate

Forknplate.com is run by a brother sister team and we share our love for cooking and passion for dining with the world. The main focus of the site is to make basic cooking techniques available for your everyday home cook without them having to spend money on cooking classes through simple, fun, how-to videos. We also do restaurant reviews in New York and find some of the most cost effective, trendy and best places to eat in this culinary saturated city. Our site also has a section of food maps of all your favorite food shows on television and the locations of the places to eat that have been featured on each show. We also have an updated version of our app for Android devices and one in the works for Apple devices coming out soon. Forknplate.com also has a section for food events happening in our city and we encourage locals to get out there and support and take advantage of great culinary events happening daily in New York.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sweet Potatoes vs. Yams

My clients are always asking me what the difference between a sweet potato and a yam are. Here is a quick explanation below with a delicious recipe to try!

In the United States, the term "yam" is usually mistakenly used to label orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. Yams—thick, white tubers with little flavor—are actually not related to sweet potatoes at all. Sweet potatoes originated in South America and come in dozens of varieties; the orange-fleshed ones in question are only eaten in the United States. Yams, on the other hand, are rarely available in the United States, though they are popular in South and Central America, the West Indies, many Pacific islands, and parts of Asia and Africa. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes have a rich, sweet flavor; yams are particularly bland, starchy vegetables that are best used as a background for more flavorful accompaniments. Sweet potatoes typically have a smooth skin, while the skin of yams is rough and somewhat shaggy.

In the supermarket, you will generally see what is technically a sweet potato labeled as a yam. You are unlikely to find a true yam at your average supermarket, although they are slowly making their way to some, so if you are shopping for sweet potatoes, you should be safe putting a "yam" in your cart. When recipes call for yams as substitutes, most are referring to red-skinned, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes that have been labeled as yams—not the white-fleshed, bland tuber.

Difference in Health Benefits:

Sweet potatoes are relatively low in calories and have no fat. They are rich in beta-carotene , having five times the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A in one sweet potato, as well as loaded with potassium. These nutrients help to protect against heart attack and stroke. The potassium helps maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body cells, as well as normal heart function and blood pressure.

Wild Mexican "yams" which are related to the sweet potato, seem to have anti-weight-gain, anti-cancer, and anti-aging properties. True yams do not contain as much Vitamin A and C as sweet potatoes.

Information above adapted from: http://www.bonappetit.com

Sweet Potato Wedges


3-4 sweet potatoes or yams

1/2 teaspoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon maple syrup

a few generous dashes of cinnamon, cumin and nutmeg

sea salt to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash potatoes and remove blemish spots and dried ends. Slice into thin sticks and place in large bowl. Drizzle on remaining ingredients and toss to distribute evenly. Spread coated potatoes in single layer on cookie sheet and bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven, flip slices and bake another 10-20 minutes or until tender and browned (cooking time will vary depending on thickness of potato slices and stove). Serve hot & enjoy!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

One (Beautiful) Word for Jetlag = Ashwagandha

Say that word 3 times. Isn't it so pretty?! I am not one for supplements, but this one stole my heart as soon as I heard it's lovely name. I'm lucky it did, because it's brought me a host of benefits, including jet lag relief on my recent trip to California.

About Ashwagandha: Ashawagandha, also known as the Indian ginseng, originated in India and Northern America. When I mentioned this name to one of my yoga students about how it helped me with my jet lag, she emailed me the next day saying that she was trying to google whatever she remembered of the name but all that came up was an African Prince-HAHA! The name was actually derived from Withania somnifera which is a Sanskrit name.

Ashawagandha is a shrub that has yellowish -green flowers. It is regarded as an adaptogen (a type of herb said to strengthen your resistance to stress while enhancing your energy). Often used to boost the immune system after an illness, ashwagandha is also included in formulations that aim to treat these conditions:

  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • inflammation
  • fatigue
  • gastrointestinal disorders
  • skin infections
  • insomnia and other sleeping disorders
  • anxiety, depression (nervous system ailments)
  • epilepsy
  • ...and supposedly it helps with jet lag! At least it helped me. I made sure to take it 2-3 times throughout the day before I left, during my traveling, and throughout the 1st day at my destination. Then, I did the same on my last day of my trip, traveling back, and 1st day back at home. It worked wonders! Now keep in mind, when I travel on planes I make sure that I pack healthy food and snacks (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bananas, apples, trail mixes, lara bars, etc.) and stay VERY well hydrated. Herbal teas in the airport terminal, a glass of water every time the drink cart strolls by me, and a comfy neck pillow to doze off so that I'm not skipping much sleep is also part of my travel plan. Once I arrive at my destination I make sure to bask in the sunlight (when applicable) to help allow my body to adjust and recharge. This is always a great opportunity for me to sit in the sun, drink some more water, and journal about my travels. Also, ashwagandha is a great supplement to take during the winter months since it helps keep our immune system strong. This is also helpful when traveling because we all know how yucky that germ infested dry air is on a long flight! Yick-

    How to take it: Ashwagandha can be taken in powdered form, dried root, capsules or tablets. Recommended dose is between 1 to 2 capsules everyday, available mostly in health drugstores. There’s no side effects reported in taking ashwagandha in various forms as pills, tablets, or capsules. Although large doses might result in irritation to the mucus walls or perhaps gastrointestinal problems. Make sure to take it with food. This herb should not be used with any other medicinal sedatives. Pregnant, breastfeeding or nursing moms should not take this herb as well with children.

    Although ashwagandha is an all-natural supplement that includes lots of possible advantages to one’s over-all health and wellbeing, it is advised to consult a doctor prior to taking it or ANY other herbal supplements.

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Apple Sunflower Seed Sandwich

    Peanut butter and jelly…you have some competition.

    2 slices of your favorite bread (I love Ezekiel)
    ½ of your favorite crisp apple, sliced fine
    swipe of sunflower seed butter
    swipe of apple butter (or your favorite preserve, fig is my fav!)
    sprinkle of fresh ground cinnamon

    Slather on both apple (or preserves) and sunflower seed butter and arrange apple slices on top of one bread slice. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Press bread together and take a bite. Yum!

    Benefits of Sunflower Seed Butter:
    Sunflower seed butter is one of the alternatives available to the very popular American lunch staple, peanut butter. It is made with oil and ground sunflower seeds. This spreadable food item is rich in unsaturated fats and is an excellent source of many vitamins (especially B), minerals (magnesium, phosphorus) and healthy fats, and is a vegetarian protein food source.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Happy Diwali!

    My wishes for a very happy and joyous Diwali!

    This is a day when members of some of the world's oldest religions celebrate the triumph of good over evil. May the festival of lights bring continued peace, prosperity and health into all of our lives & the blessings of the divine mother be with you always.

    Hari Om-


    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Perky Posture

    Don't be a slouch! Sit or stand tall, confident and strong. Sitting or standing up straight will allow the prana (breath) to flow smoother, providing you with more energy while improving the health of your spine. Practice mindfulness of your posture at all hours of your day, in all situations for a taller, prouder you!

    1. Take a break. Most office jobs leaves us sitting at a desk for long periods of time, allowing us to sink into our chairs. Set your computer to ding every hour as a signal to stand up, stretch, roll your neck/shoulders and readjust. Get up to grab a drink of water too, it will help get the blood circulating, give your eyes a rest and rehydrate you.

    2. Raise your car's rear-view mirror. Angling your mirror up slightly teaches you to sit up straighter behind the wheel and elsewhere.

    3. Move your monitor. Your neck is an extension of your spine so tilting your noggin down or back to see your screen can promote poor posture. Adjust your screen's position at your desk so that you gaze straight ahead. Also, be mindful of your position as you use gadgets such as laptops, iPads, even gadgets such as phones for long periods of time.

    4. Stand tall in mountain pose. Practice tadasana (the mountain pose) by balancing your weight equally between both feel and imagine they're rooted to the floor. Visualize the crown of your head being pulled from above and you keep your abs tight. An easy way to bring yourself into a correct posture at any time is to tightening your abs, that will always align your spine correctly.

    5. Do kegals. Contract your pelvis as if stopping a flow of urine. Working the pelvic floor and other muscles of the core stimulates muscles along the spine that encourages it to lift and elongate. It also is a great exercise to help prevent incontinence.

    A regular yoga practice will help correct your posture. In yoga we work on lengthening the spine, increasing the space between each vertebrate, resulting in a taller, prouder you!

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    First Love, Special to All of Us

    First romance, first love, is something so special to all of us, both emotionally and physically, that it touches our lives and is a part of us forever. My first love was Nicky Policastro during our glory days at North Brunswick Township High School. Now, many of our NBTHS classmates knew that Nick and I didn't have the healthiest of relationships, HA! But, we did love each other very much while we were together. While dwelling in my youthful ignorance, I would write him long dramatic love letters during our break ups and felt as if the rest of my life would be nothing without him as my boyfriend. I still have rose petals pressed from every flower bouquet he sent me along with the messages of love he would attach to them. We were the perfect example of a high school romance. He was my first real relationship, the first boy I ever fell in love with, and the first person I happily committed to. His family was the first family besides mine that I truly loved being a part of. Nick taught me how to drive (way before I was issued my license, oops!, sorry Mom, Dad and state of NJ), we spent countless hours cuddled up in his parent's den watching Beverly Hills 90210, went to every semi-formal, jr. prom and prom you could think of together, would talk on the phone for hours each night until we'd eventually fall asleep on the phone together, partied together at house parties way before we could get into bars, I was on the sidelines of every one of his sporting events...you know, all that high school stuff couples would do.

    Nick and I lost touch a year or two after we broke up, which was well over a decade ago. However, thanks to Facebook, I was able to wish him a happy birthday this September 3rd for his 32nd birthday. We reconnected from there and were able to get together to catch up last week. It's funny the little things you forget about people after not seeing them for a while. His smile, body language, the shape of his hands, his cute puffy earlobes and his sense of humor all triggered memories that I forgot I had. It's amazing how certain things about people never change. We reminisced about our past as "kids" and laughed about all of it as we caught each other up on North Brunswick gossip and what we've both been up to. Naturally, we got into a dispute or two (some things really never change!), but parted at the end of the night happy that we got together.

    This past weekend, Nick was involved in a fatal car accident down the road from my parents in Milltown. Sunday morning I received that call that no one ever wants to get. Texts from him are still in my phone and his face is so clear in my mind after just seeing him. It seems so unbelievable to me that just like that, he's gone.

    Life is so precious and moments with others are so special. The people who we've shared relationships with (whether romantic or not), help make us who we are today. Nicky Policastro will forever be a part of who I am because of the chapter of our lives that we shared together as young, naive high schoolers in love. My love and condolences go to his friends, relatives, beautiful parents, Patti & Joe, and his older brother, Tony.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    7-Day Ayurvedic Fall Detox

    Today marks the end of my 7-day Ayurvedic Fall Detox, and I feel fabulous. This whole foods cleanse was accompanied with yoga practices, pranayama exercises, cleansing tips, reflection and meditation to prepare my body for a winter of health and vitality. Fall, a time when the winds begin to blow and cold starts to settle in, is considered the vata time of year; a time marked by instability and change that can effect our well-being. Cleansing now can help align your body with this changeable season, so you’ll move into winter from a strong base.

    I had a full week of slowing down, warm food, and self-care. I've learned quite a few things about myself during the week and will definitely continue some of the practices:

    I spent a lot of time in silence. It was beautiful listening to the kids play outside in this sweatshirt weather.

    I woke up earlier than normal to get a relaxing yoga practice on, while my morning porridge and tea were warming on the stove.

    I stayed in most nights and went to bed at 10pm. I meditated in bed each night before I drifted off.

    I journaled a lot (many emotions were coming up but lots of clarity was there as well).

    I massaged my whole body with sesame oil before every shower. Such a treat!

    I realized how good warm (temperature) foods/drinks feel for my body as the weather changes.

    I felt so balanced mentally and physically. Struggled with some food cravings the first few days but was so satisfied from the amazing/healing food I was consuming.

    I was overwhelmed with such calmness. It was so beautiful.

    Below are my delicious meals and teas that I prepared for myself throughout the week.
    I NEVER got sick of them, especially the kitchari!!!!
    My kitchen was a mess of Ayurvedic herbs, seasonings, cookbooks and healing goodness all week long!!! Made my first batch of ghee a day before the cleanse began, so fun!
    Delicious and ever-so-healing kitchari on the stove. This is a staple dish served at every ashram I've ever been to at each meal. It's my favorite, and now I know how to make it and ALWAYS will! I've put my own twist to this recipe, so stay tuned!
    Morning spiced quinoa porridge following my morning yoga and meditation practice. If I didn't spoon this out into a bowl and put it away, I could have easily ate the whole thing...just sayin.'
    Lunchtime kitchari with fresh coriander chutney. Lightly steamed veggies on the side with half an avocado sprinkled with some pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Sipping on my fennel/cumin/coriander tea after to help digest, while journaling in silence.
    Kitchari dinner with fresh cilantro and a side of steamed veggies on the side. A hearty cup of potassium broth on the side too!

    (*Imagine a picture of a crispy, amazing organic apple here, with some almonds next to it*)
    Sweet snack was apple slices with almonds. The reason there are no pictures is because as soon as I would cut into an apple it would be gone within a few minutes. SO good that I didn't even have the time to part from it to grab my camera!!!

    Saturday, September 17, 2011

    Vegan Chic - Not Tested On Animals

    Early last spring my lovely and talented friend, Harmony, blogged about an outfit I put together on her gorgeous blog, Closet Chic. Shortly after she featured an article of mine on how to throw a chic & healthy potluck soiree. Now it's my turn to feature an article she put together on Vegan Chic! I've been eagerly awaiting her animal-friendly fashion-finds for this fall so that I can feel guilt-free when shopping for my favorite - boots! Enjoy Harmony's chic article below and be sure to check out her blog and follow Closet Chic on Facebook!

    Vegan Chic- Not tested on animals.
    Fall is my favorite time of the year where the weather cools, leaves change colors, and pumpkin spice coffee is available everywhere. Let’s not forget the most important part of fall is of course your fall wardrobe and the fun of digging through your attic and retrieving all your fabulous lost cowl neck sweaters, cashmere scarfs, and leather boots. Until recently when I was asked to do this vegan piece, I never really thought to myself just how much “animal” we actually wear during the colder months. My task was to find your classic fall staple pieces while making sure they are animal friendly or Eco conscious finds. I think all my vegan and even non-vegan friends will appreciate these great looks that that are animal friendly and will also help to reduce our carbon footprint!
    Here are my top tips for your animal friendly fall wardrobe:

    1) You can never go wrong with “Leather Inspired” pieces! You get the look and the feel of leather without sacrificing an animal. Free People offers a nice selection of leather inspired vegan pieces.

    Nordstrom’s Big Buddha Bag features: A supple faux- leather satchel topped with double rolled handles. The animal-friendly style is also 100% vegan.

    2) For those that just have to have leather try opting for a pair of boots that is made partially with leather and 100% recycled components such as lining, buckles, etc. all while being produced in an ethical and environmently friendly manner.
    Zappos Features: The Earthkeepers™ collection contains durable, high-quality footwear made in an environmentally-friendly way.

    3) Buy Bamboo! As far as clothing goes look for 100% organic cotton or better yet bamboo fibers. Bamboo is a great sustainable and renewable source, which grows faster and stronger than any plant and we most likely will never run out of bamboo EVER!

    Revolve Clothing Offers 100% organic and bamboo cotton pieces.

    4) Another great way to get your leather fix is to try shopping for great vintage bags or boots. You get to wear leather and one of kind pieces and this way no additional animals are harmed and it’s a great way of recycling and reducing.

    Check out these Etsy vintage finds:

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Swami Sivananda's Birthday

    Om Namo Bhagavate Sivanandaya!

    Today is the anniversary of my guru, Swami Sivananda’s birthday.

    Here are some of my favorite quotes from Swami Sivananda that remind us how to live a Divine Life:

    "Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize."

    "Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success."

    "Thinking of disease constantly will intensify it. Feel always 'I am healthily in body and mind'."

    "There is something good in all seeming failures. You are not to see that now.

    Time will reveal it. Be patient."

    "Practice meditation regularly. Meditation leads to eternal bliss.

    Therefore meditate, meditate."

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    A Healthy Fall for All

    As the air turns crisp and the kids are headed back to school, take a moment to commit yourself (and your family) to a healthy Fall. Things tend to get a little hectic with the change of season, especially with work and the holidays in the distance, but this is actually the time of year we need to slow down. It is time to gather, store, organize, and wind down from summer's high tempo and the relentless forward momentum that modern living usually demands. As the days grow shorter, it's perfectly okay to allow yourself more time to rest since your circadian rhythm is shifting, along with the earth's. This could mean going to sleep a little earlier, waking up a little later, even taking a catnap in the afternoon. Focus on you and your family’s health, so you can really enjoy the Fall. Try these tips below:

    Get it together.

    Take a lesson from your kids as they prepare for a fresh new school year with their new outfits, school supplies and excited attitudes. Start fresh like they are this month by recalling back to your new years resolutions, working on that project that you keep putting off or committing yourself to a goal you lost track of. Organize something in your life, whether it is a closet, a cabinet, your desk area, your bathroom, a kitchen pantry, your files, etc.

    Schedule in self-care time.

    Schedule in at least one hour per week of self-care to focus on yourself and let go. This can be curling up and reading a book, scheduling a massage, treating yourself to a pedicure, taking a long walk outside, journaling, etc. Work on a project that you’ve been putting off, cook a meal to soft music and enjoy it by candlelight. Write in your calendar when you'll do these things or set your phone alarm to remind you so that you don't let them fall to the wayside! You deserve it.

    Work it out.

    Aim to work out at least 3 times a week (if not more!). Aerobic activity improves the exchange of oxygen in your body to keep your immune system strong and your lungs clear, which is important during this time of year. No matter what your physical activity of choice is, just be sure to do it. Get outside for a nice walk. Crunch those fall leaves under your feet, get a whiff of wood smoke, and watch the colors change!

    Enjoy healthy, seasonal foods.

    Make an effort to embrace the Fall through all of the abundant seasonal foods. Think of creative ideas for healthy snacks, breakfasts, lunches, dinners and desserts. Dice a crisp apple in the afternoon and toss it with ground cinnamon and nutmeg to satisfy your sweet tooth. Keep a log of any recipes you and your family enjoyed to make again or to share with others. Spread the goodness and healthfully welcome Fall!

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    The Dacha Project: Complete Sustainable Living

    My brother, Sam, recently went on a trip to his friends' place up near Ithaca, New York. This is the third year he's gone to visit and every time he gets back I have endless questions because it isn't any old house or apartment, it is the Dacha Project. Below he writes of his experience because it is oh-so unique and wonderful!

    Vast green hills and valleys line the winding roads with the bright sun shining through a cloudy blue sky. A few barns scatter along the sides with the occasional group of cows or horses; a clear indicator that I'm close. Pulling up to the driveway about a mile down North Wood Road, a friendly little sign reading "Dacha" painted in purple greets you. Up the bumpy, curvy gravel, you see some baby trees that were planted the first year the Dacha was started. After a slight bend, you arrive at the house. It is a sustainable home that runs on veggie oil and one solar panel (eventually they plan to run fully on solar energy). It gets its running water from a well. This house is entirely off-the-grid; the power goes out in Freeville, NY, and my friends have no idea. This house was built by 6 of my friends who got an idea to create a space for creativity, love, and environmentally friendly endeavors in the beautiful area right outside of Ithaca, New York. The word "dacha" is a Russian word (2/3 of the crew are Russian) roughly meaning a retreat home within nature.

    Along with powering their own home, they also grow fuel for themselves. An abundant garden filled with kale, peppers, broccoli, cucumbers, and other veggies supply them with staples for cooking. Every morning I was there, we had potatoes and veggies cut up and cooked with eggs that were from the hens who live around the corner. I don't consume dairy, but if I wanted to, there was fresh milk--that had been squeezed by my friend early that morning, I might add--from the cow who lives down the path in the neighbor's yard. My friends don't buy these products from their neighbors, they trade. They'll give the neighbors veggies, a helping hand, or they volunteer to herd and take care of their animals in exchange for eggs and milk (and whatever else they might need). That's how it works up there: The barter system is in full affect in Ithaca and the surrounding areas. "You need some help with your car? Perfect. I know a guy who is a mechanic and could use some extra hands moving into his new home." It's pretty incredible. Of course, the most incredible part of it all is being able to live on a completely sustainable system, right down to the food you cook for dinner.

    Every piece of the Dacha is a product of hard labor from these 6 people and their loving, devoted friends and family whom they welcome to come visit year-round. Whenever I go, I always bring my tools and make it a point to help them with whatever project they happen to be working on. I receive so much love, energy, and enlightenment from the Dacha and the people who inhabit it that I want to give back; it's a peaceful give-and-take. That's what makes the system work so well.
    - Sam Forney

    Monday, September 5, 2011

    How do you "Center Your Health?"

    I named my health counseling and yoga business after a short phrase that encompasses so much in just 3 little words: Center Your Health. Health isn't just about how well you eat, but also about how much you exercise, how much time you devote to self-care, how much energy you put into things like your career and relationships, and overall how well you take care of your health. My practice comes from a holistic standpoint, meaning that I incorporate an integrative approach to health and wellness. I believe it's important to nourish your body, mind and spirit. In doing so, we improve the quality of our lives resulting in an overall feeling of health and happiness. So, below are the 3 ways that I center my health on a consistent basis. What are yours?

    How I Center My Health:

    1. Each morning I roll out of bed and onto my yoga mat where I allow my body to move however it needs to. Generally, this means a few rounds of sun salutations followed by some gentle stretches and maybe an inversion (I love to stand on my head). I then sit in silence for anywhere from just 60 seconds to as long as 30 minutes (depending on how much time I have or how I'm feeling) and breathe deeply. I follow my breath, listen to the silence (or the birds chirping outside), silently repeat my mantra until I awaken with a smile and give gratitude to all of the countless blessings in my life.

    2. I prepare wholesome, real foods from the Earth each day and drink plenty of water. A whole foods diet healed my IBS and anxiety disorder and continues to heal me whenever I need it to. When I eat real food, my body is balanced meaning for me: I sleep well, have my stress under control, experience healthy regularity (wink, wink), can think more clear and concentrate each day as well as have lots of energy! Basically, whole foods allow my body and mind to function at their best. The energy and love that I put into preparing the foods I eat nourish my body and soul on such a deep level. I also enjoy sharing food I've prepared with others so that they get a healthy dose of "Vitamin L." It's such a beautiful thing.

    3. I do what I love, each day. Whether it be my job, practicing yoga, taking a jog around my lovely town, visiting with friends or family, journaling, playing with food in the kitchen, creating a piece of art, etc. I like to think of filling each day up with as many wonderful things as I can, or at least making the best of every experience so that I'm living the best life possible! On the days when I'm not so gung-ho, I'll jot down some things that I'm grateful for in my gratitude journal by my bed. This always ends with me drifting off to sleep with a smile because even when there are patches of grey in our lives, we still have SO many things to be thankful for.

    Now it's your turn. What are the 3 ways that you Center Your Health? Post your ways below or jot them down for you to keep somewhere as a reminder to care for yourself on all different levels and live your best life!

    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    Looking for Calm? Spray Some Rescue Remedy!

    Those of you who are close to me have probably had me offer you a spritz of Remedy Rescue when you seemed stressed around me. I swear by this stuff and never leave the house without it. If you are known to get anxious and need something natural to take the edge off and bring you back down, read up on Rescue Remedy and pick up a bottle (or pastilles) at your local health food store. Hopefully you'll find just as much relief as I do from it!

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Slow Down at Meal Time

    We live in a fast paced world. People are on the go, multi-tasking, planning and thinking ahead. In a busy world, people also eat on the go; in the car, at their desks, standing up, walking down the street, barely taking the time to enjoy their meal. When we eat quickly, we tend to eat more, therefore consuming more calories.

 Digestion begins in the mouth. Slowing down to completely chew your food, allows the release of digestive enzymes that break down food and greater assimilation of nutrients. Whole foods, especially whole grains, must be mixed with saliva and chewed until they become liquid to release their full nutritional value. Because digestion becomes so efficient when you chew your food thoroughly, your body will begin to feel wonderfully light. To get into the habit of chewing correctly, try counting the chews in each bite, aiming for 30 to 50 times. It helps if you put your fork down between bites.

 The New York Times reported on a few scientific studies to support the claim that eating slowly is a method for consuming fewer calories. Who could imagine that losing weight is as simple as taking a few more minutes to slow down and eat what is already on your plate?

    5 Tips to Slow Down at Meal Time:

    1. Take 3 deep breaths before your meal.

    1. Place your fork down between each bite, or use chopsticks to eat.

    1. Chew your food at least 30-50 times before swallowing.

    1. Savor the flavors and textures that are happening in your mouth.

    1. Eat in a calm, relaxed atmosphere as often as possible.
    Information adapted from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011

    CYH's Song of the Moment: Ready, Able by Grizzly Bear

    I have a long list of favorite songs, and this is one of them on the list. It's from Grizzly Bear's album, Veckatimist (2009), which is on my top 10 best album list of all time. Gorgeous.

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Tulsi Tea - Benefits of Holy Basil

    During my first trip to India in 2009, I was introduced to Tulsi tea, also known as 'holy basil' tea. I was told to drink it each day I was there to keep my immune system strong. Apparently, it worked because I remained healthy throughout and following my trip. I brought some back with me and have been hooked ever since! Luckily, Organic India makes a delicious line of Tulsi tea's that you can find here at all health food stores, and even in some supermarkets. I swear by the original flavor, but they have many different kinds. My favorite flavor is the Honey Chamomile all summer long, then I fall in love with the Orange Mint during the Fall and enjoy the Vanilla Creme when it's colder. My tastes clearly change with the seasons! If you see a box the next time you're food shopping, give it a try! Read below for all of the wonderful health benefits of this holy basil tea.

    About Tulsi Tea

    Tulsi tea, which originated in India thousands of years ago, is known for its rich antioxidant and adaptogenic properties that are known to promote wellness by building the body’s immune system, reducing stress and promoting mental clarity. It is recognized as one of India's most sacred herbs because of its health benefits and healing properties. Tulsi Tea's antioxidants protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals that facilitate the cause and progression of various types of diseases. Also referred to as holy basil tea, this herbal brew’s adaptogens serve as powerful anti-stress agents that protect your body from a wide range of health concerns. The adaptogens guard against and deal with physical, chemical, environmental, and emotional factors that produce high levels of stress that compromise physical and mental health.

    Potential Health Benefits of Tulsi Tea

    · Strengthens the immune system, promotes longevity and enhances well-being.

    · Promotes heart health by lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure.

    · Reduces the negative physical and psychological effects of stress.

    · Increases the body’s efficiency in using oxygen, which improves stamina, strength and endurance.

    · Promotes respiratory health.

    · Helps with digestion and gastrointestinal problems.

    · Neutralizes dangerous biochemicals that contribute to cancer, degenerative diseases and premature aging.

    · Facilitates healthy liver function.

    · Reduces cell and tissue damage from sun rays, radiation therapy and other radiation sources.

    · Relieves inflammation from arthritis and other diseases.

    · Helps fight infections.

    Saturday, August 20, 2011

    Art Journaling

    Before I am a yoga teacher, holistic health coach or corporate wellness director, I am a multimedia artist.
    I draw, paint, sculpt, take photographs, make jewelry, collage, scrapbook, craft, journal, and create delicious meals. Creativity seeps out of my pores. I think in colors, shapes and designs. I'm a natural illustrator so when I hear certain words or sentences, a design or idea immediately transforms in my mind.

    Myself as an artist is constantly evolving, and throughout the past few years I've been expressing myself best through art journaling. This is a chance for me to take my love of mixed media and bring it all together. I sit down, grab my sketchbook, jot down some thoughts (either how I'm feeling at that moment, a song lyric that I can't get enough of, a colorful word, etc.), then allow myself to play! I'll sketch around the words, cut and paste images on the page, paint, scribble, etc.

    Some of the pages are personal, for no one's eyes other than mine. Others are meaningless and quite silly (see citrus doodles on right!). Either way, this art form has resonated with me the most out of any other particular medium because I'm free to incorporate all the different aspects of art that I love onto one page. That creative freedom is so liberating! Then of course after I'm finished creating in my art journal, I enter my kitchen where my creativity has been taken to a whole other level and my tools are foods, spices and herbs. Even while planning my yoga classes, I'm designing routines to dance through with my students.

    Art is everywhere. From as young as I can remember, I always said that I would be an artist. And here I am, in my 30's, creating art each and every day.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Jersey Shore GLOBAL MALA: September 18th, Sea Bright, NJ

    On Sunday, September 18th, 2011, we'll be getting our yoga on for an awesome cause at Sea Bright Beach from 4pm - 7pm for this year's GLOBAL MALA. Global Mala is an annual event to bring all yoga studios and their communities together as ONE in celebration of peace. I'll be teaching at this year's event, where we'll flow through 108 rounds of sun salutations on the Sea Bright boardwalk over the gorgeous ocean, under the setting sun! For this particular Global Mala all proceeds will go to Clean Ocean Action.

    Please purchase your ticket here. And don't let the 108 sun salutations scare you. Come to this event with an open mind and only do what you're comfortable with (unless you want a challenge!). There's no judgement in yoga, so you can relax in child's pose or take a water break whenever you need one throughout the practice. It will be a beautiful event, so I encourage you to come!

    Sponsored by Brahma Yoga Spa, Elevate Yoga, Fair Haven Yoga, Live.Breathe.Grow and Hot Yoga Revolution.

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    1 - 2 - 3 Guacamole!

    The trick to perfect guacamole is using good, ripe avocados. Check for ripeness by gently pressing the outside of the avocado. If there is no give, the avocado is not ripe yet and will not taste good. If there is a little give, the avocado is ripe. If there is a lot of give, the avocado may be past ripe and not good. In this case, taste test first before using.

    This quick recipe is unbelievably easy and could go many ways depending on the tastes you desire and/or what you have in the house! Pair your guacamole with chips, slather it on a wrap (can be substitute for cheese!), drop some on your rice and beans or stuff it on your sandwich. It’s all good!


    2 ripe avocados

    1 lime, juiced

    ½ teaspoon olive oil

    sea salt to taste

    ½ handful of fresh cilantro (optional)

    Other Optional Ingredients:

    Feel free to add some finely chopped red onion to your guacamole if you have some. Same goes for tomatoes, add one ripe, chopped tomato (seeds and pulp removed). The acidity from the tomato will actually help the guacamole from turning brown. If you prefer your guacamole with garlic, add a minced clove to this recipe.


    Peel and mash avocados in a serving bowl. Stir in other ingredients. Season with remaining lime juice and sea salt to taste. Chill for half an hour to blend flavors, keeping the pits of the avocados in the bowl until it’s served. See, it's as easy as 1 - 2 - 3! ENJOY!

    Benefits of Avocados:

    Avocados have gotten a bad rap because of their fat content. However, fat is a macronutrient much need by the body. Fat insulates the body, helps transport hormones and is a source of stored energy. Remember, it is the quality of fats that you take into your body that needs attention. Avocado is a quality source of monounsaturated fats which aids the absorption of its fat soluble vitamins E and K. It is important to note that avocados also contain B vitamins and Vitamin C and its potassium content is three times that of a banana!