Thursday, September 20, 2012

Post-It Note Wisdom: I breathe goodness in & out.

Take a deep breath and imagine breathing in love, light and goodness.
Now let that breath go and feel love, light and goodness flow from you.
How good does that feel?!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What Makes Me Happy Now - Awesome books, snacks on the go & fall beach days.

I've been particularly stressed these days, in the midst of a move coming up with lots to take care of before.  Uprooting and the unknown is stressful.  Now more than ever is when my gratitude journal needs to be near me to jot down the blessings that surround me each and every day.  Here are a few today.  What are the blessings in your everyday life?  Big or small?

1.  My commute. 
 I can't even believe I just said that.  I'm trying to dwell on the good parts of it though!  Since I leave so butt-crack early in the morning and drive home so dang late at night I get to catch the sun rise on my way to work and catch a killer sunset on my way home.  Since we're approaching the cold, longer days coming up I love soaking in those moments because before I know it I'll be commuting to and from work in the pitch black dark.  But, driving under moonlight can be very beautiful, too!  =)  No pictures for this thought because I'm very much against doing other things while driving especially fiddling with the phone.

2.  Hard boiled eggs & 22 Days Nutrition bars.  Being vegetarian all these years I became really comfortable with the fact that I was a "grazer" just like any other vegetarian in nature.  I was giving myself a free pass to eat all day long because I wasn't eating any flesh.  WHAT?!  I've stopped my CONSTANT snacking habits and amazing things have happened:  I've lost weight (whoo-hoo!), I've made SURE that my plate is balanced at each meal (with healthy fat & high quality protein), my sugar cravings are no where near where they used to be & I feel so much better.  However, every so often I do need a snack since I'm constantly on the go.  This is where hard boiled eggs come in and 22 Days Nutrition bars.  I am NOT a fan of granola, protein or nutrition bars since most are loaded with SUGAR and nonsense...but these are one of the very few bars that I actually give an OK to.  I swear by the Pumpkin Seed bar if I know I need something on the go.  Cracking open a HB egg is easy and yummy, too.  

Jamilia & I with the amazing author, David Singer.  So lucky
to have had him at Amscan for our Wellness Program!
3.  Awesome books.  So I hired David Singer, author of Six Simple Rules for a Better Life, come to give an inspirational talk at Amscan this past week.  I made it a goal to read David's book within a week of him coming to speak and believe it or not, I did.  Each day of reading it was a treat for me to open up to his book and get lost in his personal stories and great advice.  It was practical and achievable advice that we can all benefit from.  I highly recommend David's book, his website and connecting with him on Facebook.  

4.  This inspiring thought from David Singer's book:  Don't put off adopting a healthier lifestyle.  Make it a priority.

Sun, breeze, sand, ocean, good reads,
hot surfer boyfriend = all a gal needs!
5.  September beach days.  The rush of tourists are gone and us locals are finally able to enjoy our beautiful beaches without the crowds, traffic and congestion that summer brings.  Sunday is my beach day to sit under the umbrella with my favorite magazines/books and watch my beau ride waves.

Back in March of 2012 I decided to do these posts because it's really easy to be suckered into negative thoughts when we're surrounded by stressful media, unhappy people and whining Facebook status updates. My guru, Swami Vishnudevananda says that for every negative thought you have, replace it with 2-3 positive ones. I love this concept and practice it regularly. I usually find the most effective way of climbing out of a negative attitude is to think about something that I'm grateful for. Feelings of gratitude really lift you up. In honor of this concept, I'm starting a post with this same theme and will blog it regularly. I'll list a few things that make me happy, lift me up and keep me smiling! Let's face it, world peace is something that will never happen. However, I can create my own little world of peace and happiness in my mind through my thoughts! Please give it a try as well and share how it affects you.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Who the heck says you can't have veggies for breakfast?

I know veggies for breakfast may sound foreign or just plain gross, but I'm telling you to give it a good try.  It's not only totally yummy, but it kicks your day off with a HUGE nutritional boost!  This morning I took the rainbow chard I had in my fridge - rinsed and chopped it up.  Sautéed some garlic in ghee (clarified butter, but feel free to use coconut oil or even some veggie broth), added the greens and covered.  Added a can of BPA-free white beans into the mix with some ground fresh pepper and BAM...there's breakfast.  Try adding ANY veggies to your breakfast and let me know how it goes!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

UnTuna Salad Sandwich

As good as tuna is (I adored and ate tuna all my life, well into my early 20's), there are quite a few issues with canned tuna fish.  

1. Most canned foods contain bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical used in the linings of food and drink cans.  BPAs have been linked to the development of precancerous lesions and abnormal development of reproductive systems in animals.  Some brands have switched to BPA-free cans (kudos!), but be sure to check labels.  If you can't find any BPA-free tuna cans, try looking for BPA-free pouches (although I'm not sure you'll find caught by sustainable methods).  Either way, canned foods that aren't BPA-free aren't good, period.  

2. Tuna contains moderate mercury, meaning 6 servings or fewer each month (while pregnant women and small children should avoid).  Mercury comes from industrial pollution, which runs off into water, and builds up in fish...then we eat it.  I don't know about you, but anytime I hear that pregnant women should beware of things, I take precaution too.  What isn't good for a growing fetus can't be good for us either, just because we're bigger!  

3. Also, tuna are really fast swimming fish, so fisherman have to spread their nets miles out into the sea to capture and reel them in.  This process pulls in not just tons of tuna, but other creatures of the sea.  That's why you've heard of dolphin-safe tuna...which is a nicer thought, but also not always realistic.  So, in efforts to catch tuna many other sea dwellers are caught, killed or injured in the process.

If you're totally bummed out about the information above, I'm sorry.  However, a better alternative to tuna is canned salmon (mostly sockeye or pink from Alaska), which is low in contaminates and high in heart-healthy omega-3s, and also sustainably caught.  A suggested brand of canned tuna is made by Wild Planet: no BPAs, sustainably caught, low mercury, high omega-3s, and carried by most Costcos!  Or better yet - whip up this simple recipe below for a tuna-like salad, without any guilt of harming any fishies from the sea.  That's my kind of untuna salad!!!  

UnTuna Salad Sandwich

30 ounces (2 BPA-free cans) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed & drained

1/2 cup organic celery, finely chopped

a carrot stick or two, peeled and chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced

1/4 cup dill pickle, finely chopped
 (with some whole ones for sandwich)
1/4 cup red onion, peeled and finely chopped 
2 tablespoons EDEN Shake
1/2 - 3/4 cup Vegenaise
 (dairy free, eggless mayo)
1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground

1. In a large bowl, mash the garbanzo beans with a potato masher or the back of a fork.  (If you’re feeling lazy, throw chickpeas into blender or food processor so it will do the work for you!)  Fold the celery, garlic, pickles, onions (optional), EDEN Shake, Vegenaise, sea salt, and black pepper into the garbanzo beans. Combine thoroughly. 

2. Lightly toast the bread. For this sandwich, I love toasting some Ezekiel cinnamon raisin bread for the contrast of sweet and salty.  Spread the salad on one slice and stack with a lettuce leaf, tomato slices, and another slice of pickle if you so desire.  I enjoy eating these open-faced as you can see in the picture, but eat however you’d like!

Benefits of Chick Peas:
Whether you call it a chickpea or a garbanzo bean, there's no question that chickpeas are a healthy addition to any diet. Chickpeas are naturally low in fat, high in dietary fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals. Eating chickpeas regularly can help you manage your weight, boost intestinal health and reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

*EDEN Shake is a table condiment made of roasted tan and black sesame seed, green nori flakes, and pickled red shiso (beefsteak) leaves. Ideal over whole grains, noodles, salads, vegetables, and popcorn, often used in salad dressings, vinaigrettes, and dips. Very low 25mg sodium per serving, low calorie.  Eden Shake is traditionally prepared and contains no artificial ingredients, colorings, or preservatives.  Look for it in the Asian isle of any health food store.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Post-It Note Wisdom: What the mind believes, the body achieves.

Buddha says, "every human being is the author of his own health
or disease."  We forget (or perhaps not know) how powerful our
minds and thoughts are.  The body sure does listen to our thoughts,
so think wisely!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sean's Spicy Curry Shrimp with Veggies

My brother's friend, Sean, posted a picture of this recipe on Facebook the other day and I insisted that he pass it along my way.  If you're a veggie like me, you can leave out the shrimp and perhaps add in some beans or firm-cubed tofu.  Below is his description, the recipe and a little bit more about him!  ENJOY-

Classic one-pot wonder: Sean's spicy curry shrimp with veg's
This recipe was literally born out of the union of parts of my friend's red curry dish she makes, ingredients I found on the back of the Thai Kitchen can and the fact that squash and broccoli slaw were the only veggies I had left before my next grocery run. Many people would serve this type of dish over a bed of rice, or a pile of grains as I call it, but I challenge you to enjoy it as is.

About 1/2 or more of a julienned sliced onion
A bunch of shrimp, peeled and deveined, of course
2 tablespoons, or so, of red curry paste
1 can of coconut milk (unsweetened, unpressed, I like Thai Kitchen brand)
2 sliced or cubed small fresh yellow squash
1/2 bag, or more of Dole Broccoli slaw
Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

1. Slice and dice your squash and onions
2. Clean up, or unthaw your shrimps
3. Toss them, along with the broccoli slaw, into a large sauté pan, or medium-sized pot
4. Let the veggies soften up pretty good, then toss in the shrimp, coconut milk and red curry paste
5. Add salt and pepper if you are feelin' frisky
6. Cook until shrimp is an opaque pinkish-white, veggies are to your liking and the smell of coconut curry fills the kitchen

Note: If you want to make more, just add more of everything and keep tasting. It's not a measurement-specific kind of dish.

Being a bachelor and follower of the Paleo diet, I tend to make a ton of these one-pot wonders for myself. I like throwing my favorite flavors, veggies and proteins together and hoping an edible dish magically appears. I aim to get 3-5 meals out of one recipe to save time and avoid having to eat out for lunch the next day.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

CYH's Song of the Moment: Reboot the Mission, The Wallflowers feat. Mick Jones

When I think of the Wallflowers I think of the 90s and those few hits they had.  I haven't thought about them since, until I heard this.  So fun and the video, even more fun.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September is National Yoga Month

We all know that yoga is good for us, but sometimes it doesn't hurt to be reminded! Read on and try and think about taking a new yoga class this month in your area to change things up a bit. It's important to keep an open mind with your practice and be inspired by different teachers.  Click here for more details.

10 Reasons to Practice Yoga

1. STRESS RELIEF: Yoga reduces the physical effects of stress on the body. By encouraging relaxation, yoga helps to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Related benefits include lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving digestion and boosting the immune system as well as easing symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, asthma and insomnia.

2. PAIN RELIEF: Yoga can ease pain. Studies have demonstrated that practicing yoga asanas (postures), meditation or a combination of the two, reduced pain for people with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, auto-immune diseases and hypertension as well as arthritis, back and neck pain, and other chronic conditions. Some practitioners report that even emotional pain can be eased through the practice of yoga.

3. BETTER BREATHING: Yoga teaches people to take slower, deeper breaths. This helps to improve lung function, trigger the body’s relaxation response and increase the amount of oxygen available to the body.

4. FLEXIBILITY: Yoga helps to improve flexibility and mobility, increasing range of movement and reducing aches and pains. Many people can’t touch their toes during their first yoga class. Gradually they begin to use the correct muscles. Over time, the ligaments, tendons and muscles lengthen, increasing elasticity, making more poses possible. Yoga also helps to improve body alignment resulting in better posture and helping to relieve back, neck, joint and muscle problems.

5. INCREASED STRENGTH: Yoga asanas (postures) use every muscle in the body, helping to increase strength literally from head to toe. And, while these postures strengthen the body, they also provide an additional benefit of helping to relieve muscular tension.

6. WEIGHT MANAGEMENT: Yoga (even less vigorous styles) can aid weight control efforts by reducing the cortisol levels as well as by burning excess calories and reducing stress. Yoga also encourages healthy eating habits and provides a heightened sense of well-being and self-esteem.

7. IMPROVED CIRCULATION: Yoga helps to improve circulation and, as a result of various poses, more efficiently moves oxygenated blood to the body’s cells.

8. CARDIOVASCULAR CONDITIONING: Even gentle yoga practice can provide cardiovascular benefits by lowering resting heart rate, increasing endurance and improving oxygen uptake during exercise.

9. FOCUS ON THE PRESENT: Yoga helps us to focus on the present, to become more aware and to help create mind body health. It opens the way to improved concentration, coordination, reaction time and memory.

10. INNER PEACE: The meditative aspects of yoga help many to reach a deeper, more spiritual and more satisfying place in their lives. Many who begin to practice for other reasons have reported this to be a key reason that yoga has become an essential part of their daily lives.
Text courtesy of Yoga Alliance.