IMG_20160429_111956573_HDR

When Springtime throws you a Wintry Day

IMG_20160427_132655310

Springtime in the Pacific Northwest is never predictable. Last week my five-year old and I met friends at the beach for a sunny day that satisfied my Vitamin D craving, and more; today, the sky is characteristic grey, a cold wind is making the leaves shimmy, and I think it may rain.

When I saw today in the forecast, I was actually happy. A soup day!

I had been a pescatarian for a very long time – almost twenty-five years – when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. This means that the only meat I ate was fish, on occasion. But, after the diagnosis, I quit eating gluten completely and after so many years of being mainly vegetarian, I realized that I just may need some animal products. The healing protocol I designed for myself, based on the amalgamation of many experts, included bone broth soup.

This week is my two-year mark of being 100% gluten free, and I feel so much better that it still feels like a miracle. If you’re interested in exactly why I cut the gluten, check out my earlier post entitled “The Gluten Piece.” Here, I will only say that while some are still skeptical whether leaky gut syndrome  exists, I am convinced that it is quite real, and able to be healed.

In essence, leaky gut is when the wall of our small intestine becomes compromised due to food sensitivities. When the intestinal wall is irritated, it can become more porous than it should be. Small particles escape into the bloodstream and alert our immune systems, leading to inflammation, and if left unchecked, autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s. Modern day gluten causes food sensitivity in some people, due to its difficulty to break down by the digestive system. I say ‘modern day’ because the gluten we eat is not the same product that our grandparent’s ate, but that’s another subject altogether.

If you’re not sure if this applies to you, I invite you to cut gluten out of your diet – 100% – there is absolutely no grey area on this one. Give yourself about a week, and then check in with yourself. Have any digestion issues improved, even somewhat? Have you noticed a difference in your energy levels, even subtle? If so, you may want to continue your gluten fast, and work on repairing your gut.

Bone broth is a powerhouse in this respect. Homemade bone broth contains numerous minerals and amino acids that are readily usable by the body to restore damaged tissue in the small intestine, connective tissues, and other organs. It is a truly healing food – I can attest to this firsthand after healing from the state of total exhaustion and inflammation resulting in daily hives – to a state of wellness I have never experienced in my life. The bone broth has been one component in my healing, and an important one. Using organic ingredients whenever possible is important, to minimize chemicals and toxins. I still eat meat rarely, having been vegetarian for so long. But the broth can be amazing in veggie soups too!

As the Mother of two kids – my little girl is eight and my son is five – and the wife of a big, hungry man, my soups have come in handy. Tonight, my family will enjoy a beef soup that has been simmering in the crock pot all day.

Here is the recipe. If you get handed a Wintry day this Spring, give it a try.

IMG_20160427_123944061

 

 

Bone Broth

4 or 5 Grass-fed beef marrow or neck bones (organic if possible)

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

12 cups filtered water

1 Tablespoon sea salt

2 pinches black pepper

To prepare:

Bake the bones in an oven heated to 350 for 30 minutes to improve flavor. Place bones in a large stock pot along with the water and vinegar. Allow to soak for 20 minutes to extract minerals. Add salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Boil for three or four minutes and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 12 to 24 hours. Pour broth through a strainer so that only the liquid remains.

 

Wintry Day Beef Soup

2 large red onions

8 peeled cloves garlic

2 tablespoons sea salt

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves

Lots of fresh thyme

One pound steak cut grass-fed beef chunks

4 large yams

4 large zucchini

2 cups baby carrots

Coconut oil

To prepare:

Cut sweet potatoes and zucchini into large, bit-sized chunks. Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in skillet. Add carrots and fry on medium heat for fifteen minutes. Pour bone broth into crock pot. Add vegetables, including garlic and and basil. Turn crock pot on high.

Cut onion into long pieces. Warm onions on low in 2 tablespoons coconut oil in skillet. When onions become translucent, add beef and sprigs of thyme, and fry until beef is cooked on the outside, adding a couple pinches of salt. Place meat and onions into soup. Add 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves and stir well.

Cook soup on high heat for six hours. Serve to someone you love, and let the healing begin!

 

DSC00156

The Healing Power of Yoga

DSC00156

I have been practicing yoga for over twenty years. Teaching for the past two has been an amazing experience. Going into the yoga room is like pressing the pause button on time – as we settle into the breath, synchronizing its rhythm with the movements, our worries fall away and stress melts. We stretch, twist and bend. We push our personal boundaries as we expand into the poses.

Lying still for five to ten minutes at the end of class allows the benefits of the practice to sink in, body, mind, and spirit. We leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to enter back into daily life with a whole new perspective.

If you’ve never tried yoga, I recommend finding a studio and giving it a try. This is an excellent way to manage stress, that thief of health and wellness. It may not be possible right at this moment to eliminate daily stress, but it is possible to control our reaction to it. The breath awareness and coordinated poses that yoga offers will give you a new way of dealing with life. It transforms us from the inside out.

Root Vegetable Delight

I am always looking for ways to make beets taste delightful – they are so  packed with health benefiting properties!

Beets support the liver. We all know how much the modern-day liver must deal with in terms of environmental toxins, medications and food additives. Giving this important organ support offers a big boost in how we feel, and beets are one of the very best foods for this purpose.

If we are living with any type of autoimmune disorder it is important to remember that all of the organs and systems in the body are interconnected. When we eat foods to heal the liver, we are helping our entire body heal, since the liver is such a key player in the overall function of the body.

This dish makes an excellent mid-winter lunch or dinner, and also works as a tasty side dish.

 

Recipe:

Ingredients

3 or 4 organic beets

3 large, organic yams

1 organic sweet onion

Ghee

1 Tablespoon Curry powder (can be straight ground curry, or if you have a mixture you like, that works)

3 Tablespoons Turmeric (the SUPER spice)

1 Tablespoon sea salt

1 cup organic basmati rice, soaked (soak rice for 24 hours, rinsing and changing water halfway through)

1 can organic Coconut Milk

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel beets and yams and cut them into cubes. Cut onion into strips.

Place beets, yams and onions on large glass baking dish and drizzle generously with melted ghee. Sprinkle with sea salt. Place in oven and roast, stirring occasionally, for an hour.

Forty minutes later, place drained rice and coconut milk, along with two cups of water, into a sauce pan or rice cooker to cook. If using sauce pan, bring mixture to a boil, then cover and turn to low heart.

When veggies are done roasting, melt 2 tablespoons ghee slowly in large cast iron pan on low heat, stirring in turmeric and curry powder. Stir constantly until a nice paste is formed.

Place roasted veggies into the pan, and turn heat to medium. Stir veggies to coat with paste.

Place almost all the way cooked coconut rice into cast iron mixture. It is good if it still has a moistness, even a little wet still.

Stir in well and fry together with veggies for seven to ten minutes, continuing to stir.

YUM!

Your liver will thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swimming toward the light

A Year To Heal

IMG_20140816_184914_287

The past couple of years have been transformational.

In January of 2014 I was diagnosed with the autoimmune condition, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This diagnosis came as quite a shock.

The frustrating part was that, even after following my doctor’s advice perfectly, by August of 2014, I was still dealing with the daily hives that had plagued my life for over a year. These red welts appeared all over my skin in the morning – every single day. This picture of my shoulder gives you an idea of what they looked like. They would pop up on different places on my skin. The worst was when they covered my neck, those grew the most inflamed and the feeling was most uncomfortable.

The hives would slowly subside after I took a Benadryl, only to make a comeback in the afternoon or evening. And no one had any answers aside from ‘take more Benadryl’. It was like an unsolvable mystery.

View original post 580 more words

To Metabolize Experience

I’ve always loved the snow. The way the light reflects off of the crystalline surfaces, creating small sparks of color; the way each snowflake is uniquely shaped; how when it lays on the ground, its individual flakes merge into a soft blanket of white.

It seems like each of us is as equally unique as a snowflake. I’ve always noticed this among my friends – I am blessed with amazing friends – some I’ve been close to for as long as twenty-five years, others I met in Hawaii more than a decade ago, some I’ve know less than a year. I love friendship and it is healthy for women to have strong friendships.

One thing I have noticed, is that five women can go into one experience together, and come away with five versions of memories of the experience. The rough details and outline is the same, of course, such as where and when the event took place, the sequence of events, the weather.

But most of the fine details differ in the varying recounts of the same event or experience.

Why is this?

Ayurveda provides an interesting explanation: Each person is unique. We all are born with individual constitutions, we react to experiences differently, we have our own perceptions as to what goes on around us.

We ‘metabolize’ experiences in our own way. There are several levels on which  a person must metabolize the events and relationships of their lives. And we all do this with our own set of background experiences, viewpoints etc.

True health occurs on many levels. An important one is how we relate to the people around us. If we keep in mind that everyone is seeing things from their own vantage point, maybe we can open up great conversations and ask what someone has experienced, and then learn and grow from their answers. We can do this with love.

If they do the same for us, solid relationships built on trust and  understanding can be built.

Our health will benefit!

After the Darkest Day, A New Light is Born

Celebrating New Light

This morning is dark, rainy and cold. But somehow, instead of feeling depressing, it feels mysterious – a beckoning to slow down, rest, breathe. While we are pulled a thousand different directions at this time of year, it is – for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere – actually the best time of all to stop the incessant rushing and go within.

There is something magical about this time –  and not the flashy, busy type of magic. This is a quiet, still magic, heavy with possibility, if we allow it. In fact, magic isn’t even the right word for what hangs subtly in the air along with the mist, rain and snow. Is there even a word to describe the mysterious, gentle light that we must focus on deeply to see, this time of year? A light all the more wonderful because of its subtle nature.

I invite you to click on the above link and enjoy my article on the Winter Solstice, published on page 107 of Bella Mia Magazine.

My Bachelor’s degree is in Anthropology. This background inspired me to research how a group of ancient people, the Celtic’s of Ireland, viewed the astrologically significant event of the Winter Solstice. Regardless of your faith, or lack thereof, there is something unique about this time, the shortest day of the year, that gives way to new light as we tilt closer to the sun, once again.

Happy Holidays to each of you!

And if it doesn’t feel particularly happy for whatever reason, I wish you peace. May the coming year be the one that we find clarity as a human race, and begin moving into a better time.

IMG_20151204_112601870

Reset Your Digestion and Assimilate Your Life

IMG_20151204_112601870

December is here! There is something unique about this month. Another year, wrapping up. Tis the season to take stock of all that has occurred, to allow it to sink in. Wait – most of us barely have time to breathe this time of year, let alone reflect!

But, every experience must be digested. The obvious association with the word ‘digest’ is food and the digestive tract. However, everything we go through – all that we read, the conversations we engage in, the experiences we have –  must be processed. The physical system of digestion is but one mechanism used for this type of purpose; there are also the spiritual and mental levels. These levels are equally important, if not more so, to our health and well-being.

We are overwhelmed with news right now. Information is coming at us so fast, there is no time to assimilate it on top of our already busy lives. And so,our systems are becoming backed-up at alarming rates. This is impacting the state of our collective unconscious. We are collectively clogged up.

How can we remedy this? The benefits of meditation are gaining solid, scientific backing. Slowing down, even for a few minutes a day, and simply breathing deeply can help immensely.

Another way we can give our overloaded body/mind/spirits a chance to properly assimilate everything, is to give our physical digestive systems a rest. Between parties and festivities this month, consider eating only an easily digested food for a couple of days. As the digestive system rests, the other areas have a chance catch up – to deal with all that we are being forced to deal with.

Here is a recipe for Kitcharee – the perfect food for this type of reset. I make up a big pot and save some in a glass container in the fridge to be warmed up throughout the day. The idea is to eat nothing but this food. Water and tea can be consumed, but this reset only works if we truly give our bodies a break from sorting out myriad foods and additives.

Give yourself a rest, on the level that you can affect, while still engaging in your busy life.

 

Simple Kitcharee

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked organic basmati rice – soaked (Soak your rice in water for around 8 hours to make it easier to digest. Drain the water you soaked it in, leaving only the rice)

1 cup  green mung dahl – soaked (Same process as with the rice, but dahl can soak for 24 hours) This legume can be found in the bulk section of a good health food store.

5 tablespoons organic ghee

2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds

1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

3 tablespoons organic turmeric

1 teaspoon sea salt

7 cups pure water

To prepare:

In a big stockpot, melt the ghee over low heat. Add the coriander seeds and cumin seeds, stirring continually. When you hear the coriander seeds begin to pop, add the turmeric and salt, as you stir. When the paste is mixed together, add the mung beans and stir them in well. Now add the rice, stirring well. Add the water and turn the heat up to high. Allow the mixture to boil for about three minutes, then cover and turn the heat down. Simmer for around forty-five minutes, until the water is gone and you have a soft porridge. You may add steamed veggies of any kind, except for white potatoes, to add variety.

 

 

To Live Joyfully

joy - Copy

When we feel joyous, we feel connected. Being engulfed in joy is like swimming in a crystal clear ocean on a sunny day – we are supported, uplifted, weightless. Remember a moment when you were truly joyful; it may be a simple memory, like dancing to good music, or having a meaningful conversation with a friend; or it may be a big life moment, like kissing your husband for the first time, holding your little baby, or attaining a hard to reach goal.

Sometimes joy seems elusive, slippery and hard to grasp. Day to day life can lose its luster, and joy feels distant, attached to a memory or a future plan.  Joy and health are interrelated; the more joyous we feel, the less stressed, inflamed, depressed and heavy. Daily joy leads to better health. How can we bring more joy into our lives, attaining it regularly?

I have found many nuggets that have helped me move into a state of joy more often, in the ancient science of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is a body of knowledge that can be applied in our lives in conjunction with our current medical plan, religion, or system of belief. If one chooses to apply aspects of Ayurveda, one does not need to forsake modern medicine. It is not an invitation to throw all your medicines or doctor’s advice out the window. Rather, it is an extremely useful treasure trove of wisdom that can complement your current beliefs, while deepening your health.

Ayurveda was born in India thousands of years ago. It is the ‘Science of Life’ derived by sages who devoted their lives to discovering this way of viewing the natural world and our relationship to it. It is timeless wisdom, as the basic human needs, such as nutrition and rest, are the same as they were five thousand years ago.

Maya Tiwari, a contemporary author and practitioner of Ayurveda, was able to heal herself from cancer utilizing a combination of western medicine and Ayurveda. She writes, “Our vital tissues are created from the same five elements that created the seasons and their rhythms; we share a symbiotic nature with the earth, created as we are from the same cosmic blueprint of memory, energy and rhythm.”

And so, we as human beings have been created from the same elements that we see all around us in the natural world. 75% of our body is water. Our enzymes are like fire, metabolizing matter into usable ash. Our lungs draw in air, and the motion of air circulates throughout us. Much of our body is simply empty space; in each atom is a bit of matter, and a lot of space. Our flesh and bones are like the rocky earth of the body. The five elements in nature are earth, water, fire, air and space; according to Ayurveda, we are made of these same elements, and they comprise our bodies in unique combinations.

How does all of this relate to joy? In future posts, I will refer back to this concept as I offer practices and foods that contribute to well-being and the capacity to live joyfully.

For now, if we allow the concept  of the five elements to sink in, we realize that we are totally connected to the environment around us. When we live life from this connected place, the world begins to open up in a new and exciting way. The change of the seasons is a wonder to witness, especially when we understand that our bodies also morph and change seasonally. As we harness the natural rhythms, we access greater health and joy.

Like the energetic pull of the moon affecting the ocean tides,  the rhythms of nature affect the elements within our own bodies. As we learn to live in balance, we attain a state of wholeness. When we are whole, we see the world clearly and joy is right at our fingertips.

Although there is much suffering in this world, there is also much beauty. When our vantage point shifts into one of true health, we not only see this beauty, we add to it.

soup

Autumn: The Season of Soup and Spice

soup

I love this time of year in the Northern hemisphere: as the wind grows cooler and the leaves become tinged with the colors of warmth, the Crock pot reappears on my counter, diffusing the scent of spice and delight into the air.

One year ago I was in the middle of my elimination cleanse. After a lifetime of eating a gluten and sugar-rich diet, I constructed my cleanse over the course of a year. Gentle makes sense to me, when dealing with an issue as sensitive as what we eat. Everything we ingest goes through the process by which our cells are built – they regenerate, on average, every seven years. This regeneration process is constant, and the very fabric of our bodies – the cells- are fed by the nutrients extracted from what we eat.

And so, changing our diet, means we are changing ourselves. This metamorphosis requires much support.

In September of 2014 I eliminated practically everything from my diet, including: gluten, sugar, processed foods of any kind- only whole foods were allowed, meaning only ingredient lists of one ingredient.  Recipes such as the one offered here, were allowed, because they were homemade using whole ingredients -no store bought sauces or spice blends.

Soups felt like life-savers.  The healing properties in this soup fortified my weakened small intestine and made me stronger than I have been in many, many years. Allergies, autoimmune conditions, fatigue and thyroid disorders will all be pacified when the gut is strong. Thus, this soup is a powerhouse of healing.

Using homemade bone broth for the stock is where you get the deepest healing value. Slow cooking animal bones extracts minerals that are rejuvenating for our digestive system, cells, and connective tissue. The collagen in the broth literally heals us, from the inside out.

Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. Cooking it on low heat with the ghee releases the healing properties of this amazing spice. Cinnamon, while adding flavor perfect for this season, also has the power to bust through candida, and kill it. (Candida is out-of-control sugar in the gut- a problem many of us in today’s world face.)

So, put your music on, light your scented candle and savor the Autumn season with this healing soup.

Bone Broth

Ingredients:

4 or 5 beef neck bones – make sure the beef is grass fed

9 cups filtered water

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon salt

Directions:

Heat oven to 350. Place bones on a glass baking dish and bake them for 30 minutes to extract flavor. Place roasted bones into a large soup pot. Pour water over the bones. Add the apple cider vinegar – this helps extract the minerals from the bones. Bring pot to a boil. After five minutes of boiling, turn the heat to low and add salt. Allow the bones to cook on low for around 20 hours. You can also use a Crock pot for this process.

Autumn Healing Soup

Ingredients:

1 large butternut squash

2 organic sweet onions

3 tablespoons organic ghee

1 tablespoon organic turmeric

2 cups homemade beef broth

1 can organic coconut milk

2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon organic cinammon

1 tablespoon sea salt

Directions:

Peel and cube the squash. Steam the squash until easily pierced with a fork. Meanwhile, cut onions into long slices. Warm ghee in a frying pan (cast iron is the best) and add the turmeric. Warm the ghee and turmeric over a low heat, stirring. When they are blended into a paste, add the onions. Cook onions on low until they are translucent and soft. Place the softened squash, the onions and the broth into a food processor or high-powered blender and puree until smooth. Place this puree into a Crock pot. Add coconut milk, cinnamon and salt and mix well. Simmer the soup on low for three or four hours.

Enjoy, and be healed!