Adaptogenic Pumpkin Spice Latte

CA8E6D52-CB52-4E78-9C60-1D4850D9F1D1.jpg

It’s officially pumpkin spice season and I am definitely not mad about it. I have been on the pumpkin spice train since I can remember. It truly is my favorite blends of spices and there is actually a reason our bodies crave it this time of here. We are moving from the warmer months where our bodies get heat from the outside to the cooler months where we need to create that heat from the inside out. This time of year it is important to switch our diet from cooling to warming. Eating more winter squash, warming spices and cooked foods.

As you may have noticed, your body is naturally drawn to these types of foods and spices. Your body starts to crave that pumpkin spice. Here’s why:

Pumpkin spice traditionally has cinnamon, ginger, clove, cardamom and nutmeg. Some recipes omit or add different spices, but I wanted to give you some information as to why your body is craving these spices:

Cinnamon:

Cinnamon is a warming spice that is also high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, balances blood sugar and has been found to fight bacterial and fungal infections as well as having an anti-viral effect. This spice packs a punch, especially during cold and fly season. Inflammation in the body weakens the immune system leading to illness. By incorporating cinnamon you are providing your body with the extra support it needs to fight off cold and flu during the colder months.

Ginger:

One of the best spices for digestion, ginger can help ease nausea, calm inflammation in the body and help with menstrual cramps. It is a warming spice that particularly warms the digestive system to help aid in digestion and fights indigestion. It also helps to fight infection.

Clove:

High in antioxidants, kills bacteria and helps to improve liver health. It is also a natural analgesic (pain killer) and can treat toothaches and oral pain.

Cardamom:

Cardamom is one of my all time favorite spices. It is in the ginger family and has many of the same properties: anti-inflammatory, digestive aid, anti-bacterial and treats infection. It also helps to fight cavities and bad breath, has a neutralizing effect on acidity in the body and can even help to treat anxiety.

Nutmeg:

Also a natural pain reliever as well as helps with oral and digestive health. It too has an amazing effect on your anxiety and insomnia. This little nugget packs a punch and in high doses can be toxic to the body, so a little goes a long way.

You’ve probably noticed a pattern by now: all of these spices help aid in digestion, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and help to fight or treat viral or bacterial infections. All of these things are what can lead to weakness in the immune system. If you start the season off by loading your body up on things that support you immune system then if you do get sick, your body will have the support it needs to move through the illness more quickly.

So enough with why we crave all these things, where’s the recipe?

To make this latte extra special, I added a few immune boosting adaptogens. If you don’t have these, you can just omit them, but I will say that during cold and flu season, I always have these three around.

Astragalus for a power immune boost

Ashwagandha to strengthen the adrenal and nervous system. It’s a warming adaptogen so its perfect to add this time of year. This adaptogen helps to balance the whole body and give strength.

Reishi to fight fatigue, inflammation, provide adrenal support and help with anxiety and depression (use code bodyblisslife for a discount)

This latte is a great way to start your day or make with decaf coffee and use as your afternoon pick me up. I used organic pureed pumpkin from Trader Joe’s. You could also roast a sugar pumpkin at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour and use in place of the canned pumpkin (yum!). I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. It truly satisfies all my cravings (and quite honestly is WAY better) for that overly sweet, pumpkin-less alternative.

Recipe:

  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee

  • 1/2 cup homemade nut milk (or your favorite store bought)

  • 1 T pumpkin puree

  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom

  • a pinch of ground clove, nutmeg and fennel seeds (fennel seeds are optional, but add a lovely flavor)

  • splash of vanilla

  • pinch of himalayan pink salt

  • 1/2-1 Date (or 1 tsp honey or maple. You could also use stevia)

  • 1 tsp-1 T ghee or coconut butter

  • 1/2 tsp astragalus, reishi and ashwagandha

In a saucepan over medium heat, add the nut milk, spices, pumpkin, sweetener of choice, vanilla and salt. Whisk until hot, but not boiling. In a high speed blender add the milk blend, coffee, adaptogens and ghee. Blend on high for about 30 seconds until everything is combined. Pour into your favorite fall mug and enjoy.

IMG_2515.JPG
IMG_2527.JPG

Notes: If you don’t want to use all the individual spices you can use a pumpkin pie spice mix. Natural Grocer’s has a great one in their bulk section. I would say use 1/2 to 1 tsp of the blend depending on how spicy you like it.

To make your own ghee at home (its’ super easy), check out THIS blog post.

To make your own nut milk, check out THIS post.

Goddess of the Month: Lauren Kleban creator of LEKfit

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know by now that I am in love with LEKFit. LEKfit is a fitness modality created by Lauren Kleban. I came across this movement when I started following Busy Philips on Instagram. Every day she would post her #sweatyselfie and would be dripping sweat and happy as can be. I googled it and saw that they offered streaming and the rest is history.

First off, let me tell you why I love LEKfit. For starters, it is SO fun. Lauren doesn't tell you how many times you should work out a week, for how long or to do this workout on this and day and this one on that day. She just teaches you to move you body and to LISTEN. Listen when you need to rest, listen when to take it easier, listen when to push hard. Her philosophy aligned perfectly with mine. I also love that you feel like you are in the class with them. When you stream the studio classes there are women of all different shapes and sizes bouncing to their hearts content. It's nice to do a workout video that isn't just women and men with perfect bodies. Last, but not least, I LOVE the way it makes me feel. I feel happier, more content in my body and stronger when I do it regularly and that makes me very happy.

This was the first in-person interview I have done. I attended Lauren's class on a very hot Friday morning in LA and after, we chatted. We talked about movement, what bring her bliss, how she achieves her goals and kids. It was a really beautiful experience and I am so grateful that she took the time to sit down and talk to me. Lauren, thank you so much for creating a safe space for women to move their bodies, for making us all feel beautiful and worthy and for kicking my ass!

If you are interested in trying out LEKfit, you can get a free 7 day trial by clicking here.

LEKfit 17.jpg

What inspired you to create your own business?

I was a dancer my whole life and I always knew that fitness would be a natural transition. Even as far back as high school I was teaching some sort of fitness, dance class. Then I taught all over LA. I lived in Vegas prior to LA where I was in a show and taught at UNLV and a studio very similar to S factor, so I did pole stuff also, which was really fun. Now if you told me to go upside down on a pole I would say you are out of your mind, but in my twenties I was like "sure, I'll swing my legs and crawl down." There was an x-stripper who started right around the time Sheila (the creator of S Factor did) and she would take strippers and regular dancers and teach us. So I did that and then taught a Jazz, cardio type thing at UNLV and then I moved to LA and taught at different dance studios, boutique fitness studios and an old school gym where I trained clients, all while dancing professionally. It was always a side thing. I don't think I really knew until I had my son, my first child who is now 5 1/2, that that's what I wanted to do. There are so many avenues now that X-dancers can take, but I knew I didn't want to travel. I didn't want to live out of a suitcase. I knew that someday I wanted to get married and have children and being from the mid-west, that was just not my mindset. I needed something to keep me wherever I was going to settle down, which ended up being LA. From there it organically progressed. I taught a ballet class, very similar to my Sculpt now, but less mat and more barre. I would teach that daily, but still go for a run and that was my best body. That was the body that felt strongest and healthiest, but then with Miles (my oldest) I couldn't just teach an hour and then go for a run. I couldn't do 2 hours plus to workout every day. The rebounder had been in my life before and I just started playing around. I did not start LEKfit with the rebounder. I started without, but I knew that I had to create a less than one hour interval workout that gave me the same results as an hour barre class and running Runyon. After years of trial and error this is where we ended up. 

Who is the most inspiring woman in your life and why?

Oh my god! I mean there are so many for different reasons. That is a really hard question. It's gonna sound so lame because she's like my number one, but Busy! She is the best. So inspiring! I'm not kidding, when she was filling in for Kelly on "Regis and Kelly Live" I was like "you're the next Kelly Ripa, you are gonna have a talk show." She said she wanted it and she made it happen. That is crazy to me!

What is your current favorite song to move to?

Oh my God! That's like harder than the last question. I'm very into R&B. Gallant, Neo, Leon Bridges, Maxwell the list goes on and on and on.

What is your process in manifesting your dreams and your goals?

I think I just figure out what I want, focus on it and make it happen. I'm not into mood boards, I don't burn things. I just think I am really strategic about it. I'm also very practical, which sometimes I think is to a fault. I also try to stay in my lane, I'm not really phased by anyone else, which I am really happy about because I think that can make you crazy. 

What is your morning ritual?

It changes because I have children, so my mornings are not my own. I used to teach the 7 am class, so it used to be I would see nobody in the morning until I saw my clients. As my kids got older and started going to school, I wanted to be around, so now I teach the 9:30 and I usually get up, check my email, social media. Usually I've cleared everything the night before so I don't have anything important that I need to get to right away. I do breakfast and get my kids ready for school and then I am here for the studio. Sometimes my meditation is going into the studio when nobody is there, lock the door and just dance.

How do you honor your feminine body?

By keeping it healthy! Staying out of the sun. I used to be a sun worshipper. 

Where do you find Bliss in your life?

My kids! Most of the time, not all of the time (laughs).

What does self-care mean to you?

Whatever feels good to you. It's not something you can go outward for because it is a head spin. I can remember days where I would force myself to go to a yoga class or even a dance class that I just didn't want to go to and I would be like "Why am I doing this? Why am I spending the money and wasting my time?" When I would rather be on a hike or in the studio, to me that is the opposite of self care. 

If you could offer one piece of advice to women, what would it be?

The first thing that comes to mind is that our moms and grandmothers, for sure, relied on each other, but they relied on who was immediately near them so they all had a similar mindset. In the age of social media there is an ability as moms and as women to rely on each other as well, but in a much bigger way. We are getting so much more info and I think it's too much. We need to find those core people that you really trust. We definitely still need each other, but because of social media and because the world is so big now there is too much and it's so overwhelming. It's all a mind-fuck. Don't limit it, but find your group or community that you can hold on to and trust. 

BIO: 

LEKfit 27.jpg

BIO: 

Lauren Kleban is a celebrity fitness instructor and founder of LEKfit, a dance-inspired fitness method designed to create long and lean muscles by using intervals of low impact, high intensity, fat burning cardio with muscle sculpting techniques created to strengthen and tone.  

LEKfit takes a musically driven approach to fitness with Lauren consistently drawing inspiration from her ballet, jazz, burlesque and yoga training to create fun and effective workouts that empower and promote body love and acceptance. 

LEKfit has developed a constant following of devotees, both in the LA studio and LEKfit on demand online, that come for Lauren and her team’s unique approach to dance inspired fitness.

How I've learned to cope with anxiety

This post has been a long time coming. I often get messages from people via instagram asking me if I deal with anxiety and if so, how do I cope. I thought it would be most beneficial to write it all down in one place. 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am speaking from my own experience and providing tips in hopes that it will help someone. If you deal with severe anxiety and anxiety attacks and feel it is interfering with your life, please reach out to a mental health professional. 

The short answer is, YES! I do have anxiety. Is it all the time? No. Is it more than the average person? Maybe. I remember being a very young child, maybe 2 or 3 and telling my mom I had a "funny feeling in my tummy." Looking back, I realize that was anxiety. The way it manifests may have changed throughout the years, but I have lived with anxiety most of my life. As a result, I have collected different tools and ways to cope that have helped immensely. I still deal with anxiety: Some days are better than others and sometimes I am freaking out inside when I look like I have it together on the outside. It's not about perfection, but progress and helping yourself to feel grounded and safe. 

Anxiety comes in so many forms and with so many different names. It can range from butterflies in your stomach to being doubled over, not being able to breath and feeling like you're having a heart attack and everywhere in between.

Figuring out the why can be helpful, but it can also engage the mind and make things worse. For me, if I can track the trigger, then I immediately know the why. This doesn't come as easy for everyone. If you find your mind racing to find the why, then maybe that doesn't matter in the moment. That is when I will start with my first suggestion...

Meditation and Breathwork:

For me, my anxiety is the worst when I am not in my body. When my mind goes to worst case scenario and I start to future trip like I'm getting paid. This is where I use my yogic training to get back into my body and bring me into the present. The first thing I do is either sit in a chair with my feet flat on the floor or in a crosslegged position on the floor. Place your palms face down on your thighs. I take 5 deep breaths (as deep as I can get). The intention is to make each breath longer then the previous. I then do a body scan from my toes to the top of my head. Checking in with each part of my body and bringing myself fully into the present moment in my body. If I'm still feeling anxious after this, I will do some spine circles or cat cows and I will mentally chant the words "Sat" (pronounced saht) on the inhale and "nam" (pronounced nahm) on the exhale. "Sat" means truth and "nam" means name or identity so you are connecting with your true identity. It is impossible for your mind to focus on more than one thought at a time so focusing on a simple mantra (you could even use "let" on inhale and "go" on exhale) will keep you focused just on that and hopefully help to relieve some of the anxiety

IMG_1857.JPG

Move your body and get outside:

For me, exercise has been one of the biggest components in helping me to cope with my anxiety. Hard cardio works best for me, but sometimes just getting outside for a walk, breathing the fresh air and feeling the circulation moving in my body does the trick as well. When I get a good sweat in 3-5 times a week, overall my anxiety is significantly better the on weeks when I just don't get it in. It really doesn't matter how you move your body, it's just important that you move. On days when I just don't have the time, I will get out for just a 10 minute walk or hop on my rebounder for a few minutes just to move the stuff around. When endorphins are released, it interacts with receptors in your brain that reduce pain and trigger a positive feeling in your body that is similar to morphine. Have you have done a really hard workout and halfway through start crying for no reason? Its because your body is moving emotion that has been stuck. I find that stuck emotion causes anxiety so get your body moving and move it regularly!

Journaling:

D111E021-EE15-4D65-AFA6-F9F49375E569.jpg

Having a place to put your anxious thoughts is powerful. There are three ways we move emotion through out body: breath, sound and movement. Journaling is considered movement as you are moving your hand to get the words out. When our minds get the best of us, sometimes the best thing, for me, is to sit down and let it ALL out on paper. Without judging myself or editing myself. All the dirty, ugly, neurotic, catastrophic thoughts. There is nobody there to judge you or tell you you're wrong. There is nobody there to tell you you are too much or that you need to "calm down." It can all come out on those pieces of paper and when you are done you can close it up, put it somewhere safe and move on. If those thoughts come back, you go back and write some more. You write until you have nothing more to write.

Journaling has always been one of my most powerful tools. One of my favorite exercises to do it to grab 4-5 different colors pens and start writing on one page. I then write horizontally, diagonally, words over other words. When you're done you are left with a beautiful mess of colors and I always feel lighter. 

Products that help:

For me, managing my anxiety has been a lifestyle change. One of self care, checking in with myself, meditating, exercising and listening to what my body needs. I am going to share a few supplement and products that I have found to be very helpful. 

Ashwagandha: 

Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic adaptogen (an herb that helps the body adapt to stress) used to strengthen the adrenal and nervous system. It has a wonderful calming effect. In a study, ashwagandha was used in place of lorazepam and found to be just as effective as the prescriptions drug. My favorite brand of ashwagandha is Sun Potion. This company tests three times throughout the process for toxins and heavy metals (which are common in things grown in India and China). They are also certified organic and has been most effective, for me. I simply put it into my morning drink and enjoy. 

Reishi:

Reishi is a functional mushroom and is also an adaptogen. It is known as the Queen of Plants. It has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for centuries. When used regularly, the mushrooms effects build in the body and can be quite effective. My husband says that he feels the effects of reishi immediately and that it works better than anything else he has tried. In studies it has been shown to effectively reduce anxiety with 4 to 6 weeks of regular use. It can also combat depression and fatigue. The only reishi I use is from Root and Bones. Use code "bodyblisslife" for a discount. 

Rescue Remedy:

This is a product I have been using as long as I can remember. My mom always had a vial (or 5) of it. It's a homeopathic remedy and it truly works. If you feel an anxiety attack coming on or just have that low grumble of butterflies in your stomach, you take a few droppers full and within a few minutes start to feel the calming effects. Since then, the company has released several other Rescue Remedy infused products. If you can't do alcohol (as it is alcohol based), the pastilles are a good alternative. They even have a sleep formula. 

Integrative Therapeutics Lavela:

These little lavender pills have changed the game for me. I keep a strip of them in my purse and as soon as i feel anything come on, I pop one in my mouth. Within 20 minutes, I feel a sense of calm wash over me. When I'm having a hard time, I will take one each morning preventatively. I am so grateful I found these and that they have made their way into my life. I have recommended them to several clients and they all report back that they work. They also give you a lovely essence of lavender in your mouth. :)

Plant Therapy "Worry Free":

This lovely essential oil blend has all the properties to relax the body and mind. I love to use it before meditating, before bed, in the morning or whenever I am feeling a little anxious. I place several drops in the palm of my hand, run my hands together to warm it up and then cup my hands around my nose taking several deep inhales. I take the remaining oil and rub it on the back of my neck, my chest and inside my wrists. 

71071F98-5BC4-4C4E-803C-10DF94C6AF44.jpg

Anxiety is different for everybody. Learning to cope with or live with it is a journey and may look different from person to person. These are just a few things I have found to be effective and lasting. I still deal with anxiety, but I have found a good self care system that works for me. Recognizing when it's coming on and knowing what will be best for me to help calm and ground myself. Sometimes I do all of these things and sometimes a simple walk in the fresh air helps. I hope that you find these suggestions helpful and, as always, if you have any questions please leave a comment or email me. 

 

Creamy Adaptogenic London Fog

I love anything earl gray. I have since I was young. The smell, the taste, the way it makes me feel. I have memories of sitting around the kitchen table with my mata ji drinking endless cups of earl gray with milk and scones. This morning my body wasn't feeling coffee and I was digging through my tea cupboard and found some earl gray I forgot I had. Out came this really lovely latte with coconut butter, chaga, he shou wu, mucuna pruriens and vanilla. It was the perfect start to my slow morning. 

Ingredients:

In a high speed blender, combine all ingredients and blend on high for 30 seconds to a minute until combined and frothy. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy!

C1CC51EB-B091-466F-9C35-6EB49E09BCBC.jpg

About the Adaptogens:

If you've been reading for a while, you know how I feel about adaptogens. If you're just joining, adaptogens are amazing herbs that help our bodies adapt to stress. Whether it be physical, environmental, emotional, mental, etc they give our bodies a little extra help so we can "adapt" to any situation. Adaptogens do not replace a healthy lifestyle and healthy diet, but they have had a huge impact on my life and I am a big believer in their power. In this latte I used Root and Bones Chaga and He Shou Wu. You can use code "bodybliss" for a discount at check out. My favorite brand of Mucuna Pruriens is made by Sun Potion. For information on each adaptogen, please read below. 

Chaga is know as the "King of Plants."It is high in digestive enzymes and helps to support the GI tract. A powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. Historically it has been used for centuries in Siberia and was used as a coffee substitute during WWII. It has a lovely sweet taste and blends will with chocolate and vanilla. 

He Shou Wu is a Chinese herb revered for its powerful anti-aging properties. It translates to "Mr. He's black hair" after an elder who restored his youthfulness with this herb.  It's both energizing and calming and increases fertility. It high in iron, boosts mood and supports the nervous and adrenal system. 

Mucuna Pruiriensalso known as the "dopamine bean;" is high in L-Dopa, the precursor to dopamine, the feel good hormone in our brain. Regular use of this adaptogen helps to lift mood, fight depression and soothes the nervous system.

Note: If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have any health concerns, I recommend speaking with your ND, MD, acupuncturist or Ayurvedic Practitioner. 

Honey Matcha Mask

I woke up this morning with a puffy face.  Partly from not drinking enough water yesterday and partly because I am on my cycle. I don't have any anti-inflammatory masks lying around so I thought I would make my own. This simple mask is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial,  loaded with anti-aging properties and is super nourishing and moisturizing.

IMG_1495.JPG

Matcha Honey Mask:

  • 1 T honey 
  • 1/2 tsp culinary matcha (my favorite is Mizuba Tea Co)
  • 2 Drops Rose Essential oil (you could also use lavendar)
  • Tiny splash of apple cider vinegar (optional: I mostly used it to thin it out a bit)

In a small bowl combine the first three ingredients. I recommend using a local, unfiltered and unheated honey as it is in it's most organic state. Mix until combined and see if you feel it needs to be a bit thinner. If so add the tiniest splash of ACV. Spread a thin to medium layer over you clean, dry face and let sit for 15-20 minutes. This is a slightly drippy mask so I recommend draping a towel across your chest or wearing a shirt you don't care if it gets dirty. Rinse off and follow with your favorite serums, moisturizers and SPF (Currently using this one.)

IMG_1497.JPG

Why honey?

Honey is a pretty much a miracle. It never goes bad, it's a perfect food; you can survive off honey and water (if needed) for a long time and it is loaded with so many amazing benefits not only for our body but for your skin. Here are a few amazing skin benefits of honey:

IMG_1502.jpg
  • Antibacterial: removing bacteria and impurities from the skin. This is why it is especially beneficial to those who have acne-prone skin or who struggle with acne. 
  • Antioxidant: Honey is loaded with anti-oxidants which naturally help to slow the aging process
  • Moisturizing; Honey is a humectant which means that it draws moisture from its environment and help to retain it in your skin. 
  • Gentle Exfoliant: honey acts as a natural exfoliant by gently removing impurities from your pores. 
  • Scar Reducer/heals burns: Honey's anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce inflammation in the skin which helps the skin to heal more quickly. It also speeds up the regeneration of skins cells
  • Pulls extra heat out: In Ayurveda, when the eyes become overheated and have a burning sensation, they create a barrier or honey around the eyes to help pull out the extra heat. The same thing happens when you do a mask with honey. You will notice your skin warming up and continuing to release heat a few minutes after you mask.

Why Matcha?

Matcha has many of the same properties that honey has: anti-oxidants, protects the skin against sun damage (due to the polyphenols and catechins), anti-inflammatory and evens our skin-tone and scarring. Matcha and honey are a match-mate in heaven for a mask as they both amplify the benefits of the other. 

Why Rose?
 

Rose is very hydrating to the skin and also smells lovely, calms the spirit and connects you to your heart. If you do not have rose essential oil, you can use lavender. Just make sure you use a high quality essential oil that is not hot (burns the skin).

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below. Happy Masking!

 

Resources:

ttps://www.skincarebyalana.com/blog/amazing-skincare-benefits-green-tea-matcha/https://www.dabur.com/daburhoney/benefits-of-honey/honey-for-face-and-skin/using-honey-for-face-and-skin#Scars-new <3 https://www.dabur.com/daburhoney/benefits-of-honey/honey-for-face-and-skin/using-honey-for-face-and-skin#Scars-new <3 https://beautisecrets.com/does-honey-heal-scars

Moon Cycle Survival Guide

I was 11 when I got my moon cycle for the first time and along with it came all the symptoms. The women in my family have all coped with heavy cramping, bloating and hard periods. I'm talking doubled over, nauseous, mind-numbing cramps from knees to mid back, black out pain. I'm grateful I have a hippy yogi mom and to grow up in an Ayurvedic home to help me learn what would work for my body. 

When I went to a gynecologist, they thought maybe I had endometriosis, but that was quickly thrown out. The next "resolution" was to put me on birth control, which we did not do. Over the years I tried cutting out all sugar, caffeine, hard cardio, warm compresses, prescription pain medication (which just made me high and didn't actually take the pain away), you name it, I've most likely tried it. 

Over the years I have collected recipes, remedies and techniques that have helped me to cope. For me, one of the most powerful tools I learned is to just recognize that this is how my body cycles. I put this guide together to make it as gentle as possible. Not saying this is how all women's bodies cycle. If you truly feel like something is off, I recommend finding a naturopath or gynecologist that you like and trust to see if there is something else going on. I am not a doctor and am just sharing what I have found works for me. 

Warm Gingner Tea: 2-3 Days before my cycle and the first few days of my cycle, I sip on ginger tea. This is an Ayurvedic recipe and it makes a huge difference. Ginger is anti-inflammatory and will help with bloating, indigestion and cramping. I will make a big batch of this tea each morning and sip on it throughout the day. Adding a bit of honey will up the anti-inflammatory factor. 

  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 3 inche fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup nut milk
  • honey to taste (optional)

In a saucepan, bring the water and ginger root to a boil and let it roll until reduced by about a 1/3. Add the milk and remove from the heat. Pour into a mug and add honey to taste.

 

IMG_1307.jpg
  • Pain Management: I used to pop 4 ibuprofen every 8 hours when I was on my cycle because it was the only thing that would touch the pain. I finally found a combination of supplements and herbs that really work.  I work in a chiropractic clinic and we sell a product called Formula 303. These magical pills are an herbal muscle relaxant made from valerian, magnesium and passion flower extract. They work like a dream not only for cramps but also tension headaches and muscle tightness. I take 2 every 3-4 hours to stay on top of the pain for the first 3 days of my cycle. I have found that these are not as effective is the cramping is already really bad. I have to make sure I take them at the first sign of cramping. I also take a dose of CBD each morning and evening to help with inflammation and pain. I currently use Select CBD.  I have been really happy with this source but don't necessarily think its the only one or the best one out there. Do you research and make sure you are getting it from an organic source. I will be doing a whole blog post on CBD soon.  When things get really painful I will add a Valerian Tincture, as well. This is formulated by the doctor I work for, but you can find valerian tinctures at most health food stores. 
IMG_1310.jpg
  •  Free and Easy Wanderer: This is a Chinese herb combination developed to help support the female reproductive system. When I am good about taking this every day, it makes a difference in my cycles. I take one dropper-full each morning in my glass of water. 
  • Ashwadangha: This Ayurvedic herb is truly amazing for the entire body. It helps to support the adrenal glands, nervous system and reproductive system. It very high in iron (if you have extra heavy periods, mix ashwagandha with molasses and nut milk). I take this herb almost every day. I feel that it helps keep my body in balance, and it also strengthens the uterine wall. Sun Potion is my favorite source for powdered extract. It is organic and tested for heavy metals (this is extremely important for products that come out of India). Portland Ashwagandha Farm makes a really great tincture as well. 

Note: I am also planning a post on adaptogens to support  your moon cycle so stay tuned for that!

IMG_1311.jpg
IMG_1309.jpg
  • Warm Epsom Salt Baths and Hot Water Bottle: I'm a sucker for a warm bath. When cramping is really heavy, I light a candle, fill the tub, add epsom salts and climb in. I use this time to meditate and connect with my body. Sometimes I read a book, but it really helpful for me to just sit and listen to my body. I will place my hands on my abdomen and breathe through the discomfort. The warm water and epsom salts help to ease the cramping as well as low back pain and body aches. On days when a bath isn't possible or it's just too hot outside, I will curl up on the couch with a hot water bottle tucked next to tummy. This makes a huge difference and feels warming and comforting to my body. 

  •  Movement: Some people find it helpful to do cardio or movement while on their cycles. My body does not like it. I have a tendency to do very gentle and slow yogic stretches and gentle slow walks. This way my body is still moving, but not exerting. It's already working so hard to expel what no longer serves it. Some yoga poses that feel very soothing to my body are child's pose, gentle camel pose, and sitting in easy pose with both hands gently cradling your abdomen. Breathe all the way down into the bottom of your abdomen and breathe it all out. Whatever type of movement you choose to do during this time of the month, make sure you are connecting with your body and not pushing. 
IMG_0081.JPG
75605031-E829-4448-8DB8-3293F5452733.JPG

 

I am sharing these tools in hopes that it will provide some sort of support or help for other women. I know that I felt like this was just going to be my life and I couldn't do anything about it. It took me asking questions, trial and error and my yogic upbringing to find the things that worked. That being said, our bodies are always changing and always evolving so tomorrow I could wake up and none of these things work. Learning to tune into my body and truly listen has been the most powerful tool. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me directly or leave a comment below. 

GHEE: The Good Fat

HISTORY

Ghee comes from a sanskrit word meaning "clarified butter." It had been used in Indian culture for over 5000 years. It is made by simmering butter at a low temperature until the milk fat has separated. The impurities are skimmed off the top and the golden liquid is strained through cheese cloth and the residue on the bottom is discarded. Because the milk solids are removed, it can be left at room temperature and won't go rancid. 

Ghee may be the single most important ingredient in Indian cooking. It is a staple in their household and the beginning of all Indian dishes. Ghee is held with high regard as it is made with butter from cow milk. Cows are a sacred animal in India. The mother cow is revered as the physical manifestation of the Goddess as she nurtures and mothers all of us with her nectar. Because the milk solids have been removed, it withstands high heat without becoming caustic or burning. It it also used as a base in Ayurvedic remedies as many of the Ayurvedic adaptogens are fat soluble. This means that their effect and your ability to absorb their benefits in greatly increased when fat is the carrier. 

WHY GHEE?

Ghee is a wonderful source of fat for many reasons. As I mentioned before it is great for high heat cooking, but it is also super nourishing for the body. Some of the benefits of ghee includes, but are not limited to:

  • Free of lactose and casein (all my lactose intolerance friends and family, you can have ghee!)

  • High in fat-soluble vitamins including A, D, E and K

  • High in Butyrate, a short chain fatty acid beneficial to gut health. It causes the growth and repair of new tissues in the digestive tract. Butyric acid also balanced and strengthens gut flora and can help to combat candida.

  • Because it is high in medium chain fatty acids, ghee helps support a healthy metabolism and supports weight loss

  • Digestive Health

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Brain Health: Saturated fat is essential for proper brain health and ghee is one of the highest quality saturated fats available.

  • In Ayurveda there is a term called “Ojas” or life force. Ghee is revered for being high in Ojas and giving vitality and life to the mind, body and spirit.

Any recipe that calls for oil or butter, ghee can replace. I use it to roast veggies, sauté, fry, bake. I drink 1 T of ghee in my latte every morning. It nourishes my body and “gets things going.”

WHY MAKE YOUR OWN

I've been eating ghee for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my mom used it to make Kitcheree  (I will share my recipe soon, but in the meantime check out THIS one), spread on toast, add to popcorn and melted over steamed veggies. It wasn't something you found regularly on the grocery store shelves, so we made it ourselves. In the last 5 years, ghee has become more and more popular in the United States. There are a lot of wonderful ghee products out there, but I personally feel that many of them are overpriced for what you get. I find it to be quite important that my ghee is organic. Ghee made from conventional butter may have GMOs, pesticides and toxins. If you can find organic and grass-fed butter, that is even better. If you have to choose between organic and grass-fed, I would go with the organic. 

HOW TO

There are several ways to make ghee at home. I am going to share my favorite. It is easier then you can imagine, costs under $5 and once you start you will be wondering why you haven't been doing it all along. All you need is a pound of organic, unsalted butter.

IMG_2601.JPG

Step 1

Start with 1 lb of organic, unsalted butter. I usually get mine at Trader Joe’s as it is affordable.

IMG_2602.JPG

Step 2

Place butter in a saucepan and put on your stove over medium heat. Once the butter is completely melted, lower the heat to medium-low

IMG_2603.JPG

Step 3

As the butter simmers, the fat solids will rise to the top (some will also fall to the bottom). The process of separation takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes. You will know when it is done when you use a spoon to scoop some of the solids off the tops and the liquid underneath is a clear golden color.

IMG_2604.JPG

Step 4

This is what the milk solids will look like when the ghee is done. Remove from heat. To make the straining easier, you may choose to spoon the milk solids off the top and discard.

IMG_2606.jpg

Step 5

Place a piece of cheesecloth that has been folded over several times over a glass jar and slowly pour the ghee into the jar. Keep an eye to make sure that no milk solids are falling through (if so, you just need to do a second strain.)

IMG_2610.jpg

Step 6

You now have your very own, homemade ghee. If you want the ghee to be super creamy (like fourth and heart), put it in the freezer overnight and take it out in the morning. If you want a more traditional ghee texture, leave it on your counter. Store at room temperature.

IF YOU DON'T WANT TO MAKE YOUR OWN

90% of the time I make my own ghee, but there are those weeks when I just don't have time or I wanted to get some fun flavors to add to my dishes. When those times arise, I reach for Ahara Rasa Ghee or Fourth and Heart . Ahara Rasa is a local Portland company that is both organic and grass fed. I love them as they have fun flavors like garlic & lemon, chai spice and vanilla. Fourth and Heart, though not organic has a delicious creamy texture (you get that by putting your ghee in the freezer while it is still hot) and is made from New Zealand dairy (they have different standards then the US).

Whether you choose to make your own ghee or buy it form the store, it is a great fat to add to your diet.

Oil Pulling 101: What is it and why you should be doing it

Lets talk oil pulling! One of my favorite Ayurvedic practices.

Oil pulling is an ancient ayurvedic technique used to cure many ailments and to disinfect the mouth. It is between 3000-5000 years old. I have been oil pulling for about 6 years now and it has made a huge difference. In fact, the last time I went to my dentist he asked me what I was doing and told me not to tell anybody about it because it would put him out of business (can I get an amen!)

Like many Ayurvedic and Eastern philosophies and traditions, they have come to the west and been modified. This isn't always a bad things, but part of what makes these ancient techniques so effective is because they have been practiced for centuries in the same way. There is a science behind them that can't be argued with. 

I wanted to provide breakdown of exactly what oil pulling is, how to do it and the benefits. Like many eastern traditions that comes to the west, there seems to be a lot of incorrect information out there. People who have read about it once and decided they are going to change it (which is fine, but there is a lack of understanding on why it is done a certain way). 

What the heck is it?:

Oil pulling is the process of taking a tablespoon of oil in your mouth (traditionally un-toasted and unrefined sesame oil, but you can also use unrefined coconut oil) and swishing (or "pulling" the oil between your teeth) for 15 to 20 minutes (yes, you HAVE to do it for this long, I will explain in a bit). Spitting the oil out and then brushing your teeth. In Ayurveda (as well as most eastern philosophies) a lot of what is going on with our health reflects in our mouth and on our tongue. Good oral health=good overall health.

Things you need to know:

  • Needs to be done on an empty stomach (best done first thing in the morning before your brush your teeth)
  • DO NOT swallow the oil as once it is swished it is loaded with toxins from your body. 
  • Rinsing and brushing your teeth after pulling will help to remove any remnants
  • 20 minutes seems like a really long time, but I make it a part of my morning practice. When I wake up, its the first thing I do. I hop in the shower and get dressed all while pulling. By the time I'm dressed and start to do my face it is time to spit.
  • If your jaw is hurting while you are swishing, you are swishing too vigorously. You want it to be a gentle and slow swish.

Why 20 minutes?

BD08CE82-B22B-497B-9128-2251BFDEE7B2.jpg

The technology behind oil pulling is that it mixes with the enzymes in your saliva to pull the toxins our of your blood. It takes the 20 minutes for this to happen. So if you only swish for 10 minutes you are probably getting the benefit of whiter teeth (which I understand, is one of the reasons people do it), but you are missing out on so many other amazing benefits!

What's the Point?

There are A LOT of health claims behind oil pulling. While I cannot attest to it "curing" anything, I can tell you what it has done for me. I originally began oil pulling because my teeth had become extremely and increasingly sensitive due to receding gums caused by grinding my teeth. It was to the point that I was using a prescription toothpaste (which was so gross and loaded with all sorts of chemicals that are not good for you). My teeth were so sensitive that it hurt when I smiled and cool breeze touched them. A friend of mine mentioned oil pulling so I went home and began my research. I started  every day for 20 minutes. I made it part of my morning sadhana (practice). Within 3 days, the sensitivity in my teeth had gone down significantly. I also started to notice my skin becoming clearer, some digestive issues being resolved and, overall, feeling more energized. An added bonus is that people were asking if I had my teeth professionally whitened! While I truly don't believe in a quick fix, I was seriously impressed with the outcome. While I no longer oil pull every day (usually 3-4 times a week), it is still a part of my regular routine and I am very grateful for it. Below is a list of benefits oil pulling claims:

  • Promotes oral hygene
  • Reduce Headaches
  • Increase Energy
  • Decrease teeth senstivity
  • Promotes Healthy Skin
  • Helps with digestive issues
  • Detoxes the body

Since I began oil pulling regularly, I have noticed some pretty amazing shifts in my body. Honestly, if the only thing it did was make my teeth sensitivity go away, I was sold. This is not to say that everybody will have the same experience. This was mine and I wanted to share it as it has been a really great tool for continuing to learn new things about my body. If you haven't tried it and are curious, check it out. You've got nothing to lose. If you have tried it and have a success story, please share. I believe in creating a community where we can share our successes and discuss our different opinions. Happy pulling!

Resources:

  • I like to use Napa Valley Organics Sesame Oil which is cheapest from Thrive Market
  • This is the website I have referred people to for years. Its a great resource for oil pulling- http://www.oilpulling.com/

2018 Intention Setting

"So it is Christmas and what have you done? Another year over, a new ones just begun." -John Lennon

IMG_0344.JPG

Let's talk about New Year's resolutions. For one, we give them so much power, when in reality we can create change in our life whenever we wish. We do not need the permission of a new year to do so. My experience with them is that they can lead to self-shame, guilt and disappointment. When I was about 16 years old, I decided I was no longer setting resolutions, but goals or intentions that I wanted to accomplish for the year. These did not determine my worth if they were not met and I did not get down on myself if I "broke" them, the following day would be a new opportunity for me to continue to change I wished to see. 

This is not to say that resolutions or bad or not helpful. Some people find them to be extremely successful. I personally find that it is a more positive experience to sit down, connect with myself and dream big. I get personal and I write down my deepest desires. 

IMG_0345.JPG

But how do I do this? I like to light a candle, burn some palo santo and sit down with my journal either in front of my altar or in a quiet space. I put on music that makes me feel happy and positive. First I close my eyes, taking a few breaths to set myself. Then I open my journal and begin to write. Here is an example of what it could look like:

2018 Intentions and Manifesting:

  • Spend less time on my phone
  • Spend time with women who light me up
  • Travel more
  • Teach at least 1 workshop each month
  • Teach at at least 1 retreat

Do you see how these are intentions and things I want to manifest, not restrictions. There is more of a flow and room for breath, rather than "lose 15 lbs," "stop eating sugar," etc. It isn't that these are bad goals but I want to create less rigidity in my life and more room for flow and magic. When we open ourselves up to the flow of the universe, things beyond our imagination begin to happen. 

I always encourage people to dream big! Reach for the stars, because you never know how the universe will respond. How are you setting intentions for the new year?

Self Care During the Holiday Season

Self Care can be challenging any time of year, but it can be extra challenging around the holidays. Holidays are not particularly easy for a lot of people. They bring up core issues, sadness and depression. There is also a pressure to buy the right gifts, make the right meals and to look a certain way. It is, sometimes, all too much.  I personally, love the holidays but also feel the stress of the season so here is my guide for self-care from now through January 1st.

BD08CE82-B22B-497B-9128-2251BFDEE7B2.jpg

 

 

IMG_5919.JPG

 

Meditate:

was given the gift of mediation at a very young age. I realize that it does not come as easy for everybody. Even if it is just a quick 3 minutes meditation every day. Take a moment to sit in a quite place, close your eyes and breathe deeply. If you have more time, that is wonderful, but 3 minutes is just long enough to connect and reset. I like to practice the alternating nostril breath. To do this plug your right nostril with the middle finger of your left hand and inhale to the count of 8. Hold for a few moments and then plug your left nostril with your thumb and exhale. For more information on this meditation click HERE.

 

IMG_0072.JPG

Make good food choices:

This can be tricky as the "right" foods are different for everyone. What I mean by this, is to eat as much of a whole food diet as you can. Especially this time of year our bodies crave warming foods like winter squash, root vegetables, dark leafy greens, whole grains, beans etc. I like to batch cook roasted vegetable and grains so that I can throw together a quick bowl when I'm hungry instead of going to those convenience foods that don't make me feel very good (let's be real, I have an addiction to boxed macaroni and cheese). These foods will not only make your body feel good, but will also keep you grounded and balanced around all the chaos of the season. Learning to listen to your body is a learning curve. For example; usually when  you are craving sugar (yes, you may have a sugar addiction, but that's a conversation for another time), your body is actually craving protein. Try eating a slice of organic cheese, an egg or some baked tofu. It will typically curb the craving. When that doesn't do the trick I will eat a date with almond butter, a piece of organic dark chocolate or a homemade goodie made without refined sugar. My philosophy this time of year is to eat really well 85% of the time and to indulge the other 15%. The reality is that there is no point in completely restricting yourself from all the things you love, but the constant over indulgence isn't healthy either. There is a balance and it's important to find which balance is for you. The whole mentality of "the diet starts Monday" is not healthy. It creates an anxiety around your food with effects your digestion and the way your body takes it in. Try to give yourself permission to enjoy what you eat and not guilt trip yourself. At the end of the date, eat the pie, have some roasted vegetables and go to sleep, you're gonna be ok!

 

IMG_4886.JPG

Attitude of Gratitude:

No matter how busy I am, I always take time to write down 5 things I am grateful for each day. Not only does this put life into perspective, but it also makes you stop and think about how much you actually have. We can get so caught up in all the things we want and not have appreciation for what we already have in front of us. It's powerful to recognize those things and send out grateful energy. Not only does it feel good to do this, but it also cultivates more positive energy in your life.  Why is this in my self-care for the holidays post? Because self-care isn't always about taking a bath or eating a cookie, it's also about connecting with yourself, honoring your body and creating an awareness of what you need. On the flip side, it is also ok to journal about all the things that are effecting you. Journal it out. Write about your frustration and your stresses and then set intention to surrender or release (if you're ready) and if you're not that is ok too. Self-compassion is a hard thing to learn, but it is of utmost importance. Learning to not be so hard on yourself will truly have a huge impact on your life. 

 
889BBE32-697C-49A3-95E9-0F830AE3E39A.jpg

Move Your Body: 

 

Whether it is getting outside for a walk, doing 15 minutes of yoga, getting some cardio in or just putting on a song and dancing your heart out, MOVE YOUR BODY! There is so much science and research about the effects exercise not only has on the body but on the brain. It is an incredible anti-depressant, lifts your spirit, strengthens your body and releases toxins. On an energetic level it also shakes all the shit off. So if you're feeling super low, get that body moving and sweat it out. You don't have to run 3 miles for it to be effective, just do something that gets your blood circulating and your heart rate up. Most importantly, don't beat yourself up if a day goes by and you don't move. Just start again tomorrow. 

 

 

The Holiday season should be something that in enjoyed. It should be spent with the people you love and enjoy spending time with. But, unfortunately, this is not always the case. This is the time of year when you really need to put your mental health before anything else. Take a bath at the end of the day, read a book that brings your joy, eat foods that nourish your body, but that also taste delicious. It's so important to take time each day to connect with yourself. Connect with what is stressing you out and causing you anxiety and see if there is something you can do about it. Try to stay present in the moment, BE IN YOUR BODY and breathe. If this post does nothing more then give women the permission to take care of themselves and be a little selfish,  then I have done my job. 

IMG_3871.JPG