Thursday, March 31, 2011

Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm always trying my best to satisfy my sweet cravings with healthier options. The maple syrup content is pretty low in this recipe and is combined with other naturally sweet ingredients to make these cookies totally hit the spot! This is a recipe I adapted from the book, Clean Food, by Terry Walters.

Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 mashed bananas (ripe or overripe is always ideal!)
1/4 grapeseed oil
1/4 maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats
2/3 white spelt flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup shredded dried unsweetened coconut
dash of sea salt
1/4 your favorite chopped nuts (mine are pecans, or walnuts)
1/4 cup grain sweetened chocolate chips
handful of raw cacao nibs (optional)
sprinkling of raw sugar to dust tops of cookies with before they go into oven (this is optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl combine wet ingredients, mix well. In bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add wet to dry ingredients and mix until just combined separate (don't overstir).

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (heck-yea for no clean up!) and drop batter by the heaping teaspoon onto sheet. No need to perfect the dollops, that's what makes these cookies so great! If you'd like, dust the tops of the cookies with a little raw sugar (just for fun). Place in oven and bake 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and place onto cooling rack. Once they are cooled, ENJOY!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

CYH's Songs of the Moment: Lykke Li - Wounded Rhymes

 LOVING Lykke Li's new album - Wounded Rhymes.
I saw her a few years ago at All Points West on one of the smaller stages in the afternoon. She gallivanted around the stage in this outrageously gorgeous outfit, radiating style. As I was walking away from watching her play she closed her set with "Knocked Up" by Kings of Leon. She creatively put her own twist to the song and I've loved her ever since. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Politics of Yoga @ Princeton University

I just got in from watching the thought provoking panel discussion at Princeton University on The Politics of Yoga. The panel of experts included:

Dr. Edwin Bryant (Professor at Rutgers University, and translator of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali)

Dr. Virginia Cowen (Professor at CUNY and board member of the Yoga Alliance)

Sheetal Shah (senior director of the Hindu American Foundation and author of HAF's controversial "Take Back Yoga" campaign)

Edwin Stern (founder-director of Ashtanga Yoga NY, editor of Nama Rupa magazine, and senior disciple of yoga master K. Pattabi Jois)

Tara Stiles (founder of Strala Yoga, yoga columnist for Women's Health magazine, and personal yoga teacher of Deepak Chopra)...and by far the coolest, most down-to-earth yoga chick out there who I've been a fan of for years - LOVE HER!!!

Listening to these accomplished yogi's exchange their ideas was interesting and enlightening. The West has definitely changed what yoga is all about, shifting its focus more towards asanas (poses) and away from the spiritual/intellectual theories, and this is what most of what the discussion revolved around. It was refreshing to see that although each yogi may have studied under a different lineage, or focuses more on asanas than Sanskrit is within each one of us and how we interpret it and incorporate it into our daily life is really what it's all about.

For me, yoga has taught me awareness. Mindfulness is every movement, thought, action or moment of my life. I know that may seem like a simple 3-words, but it's completely changed the quality of my life for the better, allowing me to be present in my body and able to fully feel moments. I'm so grateful for this awareness and can't imagine what my life would be like without it. I appreciate such little things and fleeting moments because of the joy I get from each experience. The awareness I've cultivated over all of these years practicing has let me become more in touch with my true inner self. My yoga practice is such a beautiful, transformative experience each and every day!

What is yoga to you? How has your yoga practice changed you?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fermented Foods for Digestive Health

It's simple: digestion is the key to good health. Good digestion is absolutely essential for optimal assimilation of the nutrients that we take in with our food. We Americans tend to think of eating food as fueling up and filling up, instead of what the act truly is- the taking in of the nutrients from which all future cells will be made. And those cells, of course, make up every single organ and system in the body. If you think about fermentation at all, you probably think about alcohol. But there are many other kinds of fermented foods such as yogurt out there. Foods that are labeled “pickled” are also fermented foods. Fermented food uses microorganisms to convert sugars into lactic acid, creating a signature sour taste.

That sour taste which many people may find unfamiliar should not be equated with unhealthy or expired. In fact, including fermented foods in your diet a few times a week or more could be beneficial for your health.

Fermented foods include:
  • Miso. A paste made of fermented soy beans, it forms the base of soups or glazes.
  • Sauerkraut. This familiar condiment is made of finely shredded fermented cabbage.
  • Sourdough bread. Real sourdough bread is made with milk and other foods that have been allowed to ferment before making the bread dough.
  • Kefir. A fermented drink made from milk.
  • Yogurt. Yogurt includes live bacteria called probiotics.
  • Kimchi. A traditional Korean dish made from pickled vegetables like cabbage or radish.
  • Buttermilk. Buttermilk also includes probiotics.
  • Natto. These fermented soybeans are a traditional Japanese breakfast dish.
  • Poi. A fermented paste made from taro root.
  • Tempeh. A cake made of fermented soybeans.
  • Kombucha. A fermented tea.
Fermented foods help aid in digestion, so enjoying a spoonful of sauerkraut before a meal will go a long way. Goat's milk is a healthy yogurt option if cows milk does you wrong.  An added plus, consuming sour foods such as some of the ones above will help curb cravings...yippee!

Another way to keep your gut flora filled with the friendly bacteria that your digestive system needs to stay healthy, while boosting your immunity is to invest in a high-quality probiotic. Since I'm on the go a lot, I travel with Jarrow's probiotics because some of their formulas do not need to be refrigerated.  However, you can find many reputable brands in the refrigerated section of the health food store, or even a Vitamin Shoppe, or contact me to purchase high-quality Metagenics probiotics that will work best for you.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Super Chocolate Banana Milkshake

My chocolate banana milkshake is packed with protein and calcium from the almond butter and milk, while loaded with fiber and omega-3's from the chia seeds and flaxseeds. The organic raw cacao powder, which is a superfood, contains a rich supply of antioxidants, fiber, magnesium and iron, all while having a rich, chocolaty taste! The bananas provide potassium while helping to normalize the movement through your digestive tract (your elimination, teehee!). So, this frozen treat is not only ridiculously yummy, but totally nutritious as well! If cow’s milk is present in your diet and you’d like to use it in this recipe, go for it (as long as it’s organic, raw is always best). You can also experiment with other types of dairy-free milks such as hemp milk, oat milk, rice milk, etc., and of course make your own!

1/2 banana
1/2 frozen banana
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp almond butter
1 - 2 tbsp organic raw cacao powder (go easy if it's your first time with just 1 tbsp)
1 tsp ground flaxseeds (optional)
1 tbsp chia seeds
few drops of vanilla extract
I love adding a teaspoon of spirulina to this shake to make it "green" and more nutritious. This of course gives it a little difference in color, but if you're cool with that then I'd say go for it.

Directions: Place all ingredients into a blender, blend until smooth. Enjoy!!

Benefits of Cacao Powder:
Cacao powder is one of the most vital super food to have in your home. A sweet and dense powder, it can be added as an ingredient to many recipes ranging from homemade cakes to milkshakes. It is a remarkable source of essential vitamins like vitamin A, B, C and D additionally it is comprised of various minerals such as magnesium, sodium and zinc. Cacao also positively effects the production of phenylethylamine, a chemical that is produced when a person experiences feelings of love. It is an awesome source of anti-oxidants, compounds called flavonols that help the body to produce nitric oxide, a compound essential for proper heart function.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

CYH's Song of the Moment: Living on a Rainbow

I woke up this morning with this lovely tune in my head. Needless to say, its been a beautiful morning with the sun shining onto my bed through the cracks of my shades. I love, love, love Angus & Julia Stone. And now, I will go cook some oatmeal. Enjoy-

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

10 Superfoods, by David Wolfe

It was a sunny day last July and I was lazily strolling down Monmouth St. in my lovely little town, Red Bank when I looked up and spotted his frizzy hair from across the street...David Wolfe! I darted across the street and approached him with my biggest smile and open arms and he excitedly reacted the same. Out of ALL of the incredible health and wellness experts from around the world that spoke at my school back in 2009 at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, David Wolfe was my absolute favorite. He's considered one of the world's top authorities on natural health, herbalism, chocolate and organic superfoods. I had the pleasure of speaking with him for a few moments that day then we shook hands and bowed towards the light within each other with a namaste. His positive energy was permeating and left me all shook up (in a great way) for hours after being in his presence. David Wolfe truly is incredible! Below is his explanation of superfoods and a list of the top 10.

Superfoods are a class of the most potent, super-concentrated, and nutrient-rich foods on the planet. Extremely tasty and satisfying, superfoods have the ability to tremendously increase the vital force and energy of one's body, and are the optimum choice for improving over-all health, boosting the immune system, elevating serotonin production, enhancing sexuality, cl
eansing, and alkalizing the body. Nourishing us at the deepest level possible, they are the true fuel of today's “superhero.”

Top 10 Superfoods and Tonic Herbs
By David Wolfe

1. Cacao (Raw Chocolate) -- The seed of a fruit of an Amazonian tree, cacao is the highest
antioxidant food on the planet, the #1 source of magnesium, iron, chromium and is also extremely high in PEA, theobromine (cardiovascular support), and anandamide ("bliss chemical"). Raw Chocolate balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, is a natural aphrodisiac, elevates your mood and energy.

2. Goji Berries (Wolfberries) -- Used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 5,000 years, goji berries are regarded as a longevity, strength-building, and potency food of the highest order. This superfood contains 18 kinds of amino acids, all 8
essential amino acids, up to 21 trace minerals, high amounts of antioxidants, iron, polysaccharides, B & E vitamins, and many other nutrients.

3. Maca -- A staple in the Peruvian Andes for thousands of years, this adaptogenic superfood increases energy, endurance, strength, and libido. Dried maca powder contains more than 10% protein, nearly 20 amino acids, and 7 essential amino acids. As a root crop, maca contains five times more protein than a potato and four times more fiber.

4. Hemp Products eaten their RAW form -- Packed with 33 % pure digestible protein, rich in iron, amino acids, and vitamin E as well as omega-3's and GLA. A perfect food.

5. Spirulina and Blue-Green Algae -- The world's highest source of complete protein (65%), spirulina provides a vast array of minerals, trace elements, phytonutrients and enzymes. Blue-green algae is a wild-grown superfood with a 60% protein percentage, but is equally or exceedingly higher in other components. Both are vital superfoods.

6. Bee Products (honey, pollen, and propolis) -- Bee pollen is the most complete food found in nature containing vitamin B-9 and all 21 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Honey, in its organic/wild, raw, unfiltered states is rich in minerals, antioxidants, probiotics, enzymes, and one of the highest vibration foods on the planet.

7. Camu Berry -- Highest Vitamin C source on planet. Great for rebuilding tissue, purifying blood, and enhancing immunity, and energy.

8. Sea Vegetables (seaweeds including: kelp, dulse, nori, hijiki, bladderwrack, chlorella, etc) -- Rich in life-giving nutrients drawn in from the ocean and sun, sea vegetables help remove heavy metals, detoxify the body, provide numerous trace minerals, regulate cholesterol, and decrease the risk of cancer. Seaweeds benefit the entire body, and are especially excellent for the thyroid (high iodine), immune system, adrenals, and hormone function.

9. Medicinal Mushrooms (Reishi, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, lion's mane, etc.) -- High in polysaccharides and super immune enhancing components, medicinal mushrooms are one of the most intelligent adaptogenic herb/superfoods on the planet! They have also been proven effective in healing cancer and a variety of other ailments.

10. Powerful Supplements -- MSM, Beauty Enzymes, Blue Mangosteen, Marine Phytoplankton, Activated Liquid Zeolite, Ormus, MegaHydrate, Crystal Energy, Krill Oil.