Healthy and Holistic

Superfood Trail Mix

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for a quick snack that you can eat on the go.  Sometimes you just don’t have time to sit down and have a meal or you’re stuck in traffic or you have back to back meetings at work.

Rather than starve, I always keep something handy that I can reach for when I need a quick snack. In fact, I keep Larabars in my purse…no seriously, I do.

Trail mix is another great portable snack that will fill you up without weighing you down.  Rather than buy one of the pre-packaged trail mixes that are filled with sugar and oil, it’s easy to make your own at home.  Plus, you can control the ingredients and leave out things that you don’t like and add more of the things you do.

This trail mix recipe contains ‘super foods,’ including almonds, cherries, goji berries, raisins, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts.  Read below for the health benefits of these ingredients.

Almonds – Rich in fiber, protein and Vitamin E.  Almonds can actually help you maintain lower cholesterol levels, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Cherries  Contain quercetin and ellagic acid, two compounds that have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors and contain antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Goji berries – Contain all 18 amino acids as well as mega does of Vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, C, and E. They are also rich in phytonutrients antioxident lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important nutrients for healthy eyes and nervous system.

Raisins – Contain oleanolic acid, which provides protection against cavities and tooth decay, and prevents the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause gingivitis and other periodontal diseases. The polyphenolic antioxidant in raisins, known as catechin, provides protection against free radicals, which causes the development of tumors, specifically colon cancer.

Pumpkin seeds – Rich minerals magnesium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus.  They also contain the amino acid tryptophan known for anti-depressant qualities, and essential fatty acids.

Walnuts – Rich in fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, and contain significantly higher amounts of omega 3 fatty acids than any other nut.

Ingredients

  • 2 T. goji berries
  • 2 T. dried cherries
  • 2 T. raisins
  • 2 T. raw pine nuts
  • 2 T. raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 T. salted, roasted peanuts
  • 2 T. raw walnuts
  • 4 T. raw almonds

Directions

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container

Crunchy (Kelp) Noodle Salad

I’ve always been adventurous about food, so when I was browsing the refrigerated section at Whole Foods this weekend my eyes lit up when I spotted something unusual.

Next to the fresh pickles and miso were several kind of refrigerated seaweed.  I had seen the mixed seaweed salad packs before but this time I noticed a package of kelp noodles.

Not knowing what I was going to do with them yet, I grabbed a couple of packages and starting pondering recipes.

Once home, I emptied a package of noodles in a colander and gave them a good rinse before I tasted a couple of strands.

They kind of look like rice vermicelli and tasted mild with a crunchy texture.  I thought they would be great in a marinated asian noodle salad (the packaging even said “Great in Salads”–so who am I to disagree?)

Completely raw, gluten free and only 6 calories for 4 ounces, they’re a great substitute for regular pasta.

I chopped up a bunch of colorful crunchy veggies and whipped together a quick asian marinade/dressing.

 

I ate some right away–because I was impatient and hungry, but I think it’ll be better after it sits in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors can meld together.

Crunchy (Kelp) Noodle Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 package kelp noodles, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup julienned red bell pepper
  • 4-5 scallions, chopped
  • 2 T cilantro, chopped

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 grapeseed oil
  • 1 T low sodium Tamari
  • 1 T Siracha
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, add noodles, cabbage, peanuts, carrots, red bell pepper, scallions, cilantro and toss.
  2. Mix together dressing and add to salad.
  3. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for a few hours.

Creamy Vegan Ranch Dip

Ever since I’ve discovered that I have egg and diary allergies, I’ve been avoiding anything creamy.  While I’ve found substitutes for most things, like almond milk in coffee and tahini for salad dressing, I miss the creamy herbaceous goodness of ranch dip.

I played around testing a couple of recipes and finally found a winner.  The trick is to use soaked cashews as a replacement for sour cream or mayonnaise which is traditionally used in ranch dressing/dip.

It’s best to let the dip set overnight to thicken and let the flavors meld, but you can eat it right away too if you can’t wait : ) It just won’t be as thick, but you can also add less water to the recipe to fix that.

Creamy Vegan Veggie Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews soaked overnight
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 lemons juiced
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 T. fresh parsley
  • 2 T. fresh dill
  • 2 T. scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp of onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a blender, add water and soaked cashews and blend
  2. Add lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic to blender and blend
  3. Add parsley, cilantro, and jalepeno to blender and blend
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  5. Serve with cut up veggies such as carrots, celery, bell peppers

 

Weekend Snapshots

Adorable kittens at the local pet adoption

My morning cup of coffee

Random iphone pic

The harbor at Half Moon Bay

My blogging station aka: desk

Oversized pink Dahlia

A healthy lunch

Feng Shui Bedroom

It’s now been some time since I’ve settled in my new place and I wanted to share some pictures with you.  I’m going to start with my bedroom since I’ve finally got all all the furniture and fixings in place.  I’ll share pictures of the rest of the place soon, I’m just waiting on a few pieces of furniture to complete my living room.

But before I show the pics I’d like to explain a little bit about Feng Shui.  Feng Shui is the art of placement that helps you to arrange your home so that your life is harmonious.

According to Jayme Barret, certified feng shui consultant and author of “Feng Shui Your Life,”

“The Chinese characters for the words “feng shui” represent “wind” and “water.” They are symbols for creating a gentle flow of energy in your environment.  In the same way that blood and oxygen must flow freely and purposefully in your body, so must energy and life force circulate throughout your daily environment.  The rooms and spaces you inhabit influence your well being and your opportunities in life.”

I’ve always been a believer of the affects feng shui can have on one’s life and overall energy of the home.  I noticed a difference right away when I simply rearranged some furniture, my home just felt better and I felt more relaxed when I walked in.  Even those that didn’t believe in feng shui would say how loved the feeling of being in my home.  They couldn’t put their finger on it, but they mentioned that they just had a ‘good’ feeling being in my place and they felt at ease.

While I’m not going to get into an in depth discussion about feng shui (there’s too much to cover in one post), I’m going to share some tips for creating a harmonious bedroom and show you what I’ve done with my new place.

Bed Placement

One of the most important elements of a feng shui’ed bedroom is the placement of the bed.  Ideally, the bed would be on the opposite wall of the door.  Someone in bed should have a clear view of the door, but not have his/her feet in line with it or be  in the door path-this is called the “Command” position.  Being in a command position will create a feeling of power and security for the person sleeping in the bed.  The other thing to note, is that your bed should be against a solid wall and not under a window if possible.

One of the challenges I faced with my bedroom was that I could not place my bed in a ‘command’ position because the opposite wall from the door had a built in vanity and mirrored closet.  The only other solution would be to place it under the window or on the opposite wall where it would be in line with door, neither of which is ideal.

I had asked Elisa Cashiola, a certified feng shui consultant and the voice behind “The Blog of a Placement designer,” what would be the best position to place my bed, given that neither choices were ideal. Her recommendation was that I place my bed under the window, but get a solid headboard from the window energy.

I followed her advice and here’s the result and this is the result.  The picture below was taken while standing in the doorway looking into my room.

I ordered an upholstered headboard, to combine the strength of something solid, while adding softness from fabric.

I absolutely love my bed and feel like I’ve created the perfect haven for me to get restful sleep.

Another thing to note, is that the vanity area had a very large mirror that was reflecting the bed.  Mirrors reflecting the bed are a no no in feng shui as they are energizing and can cause restless sleep.

I removed the mirror and replaced it with two large art prints that I found.  I loved the color and the relaxed french vibe of the paintings.

I also bought some furniture for extra storage.

Unfortunately my closet didn’t have much space to house my shoes  and I didn’t want them to be out everywhere, so I found this wardrobe (Ikea) and shoe rack (The Container Store) to organize them.

Having everything organized and tucked away enables me to keep with a clutter free space.

The last thing I did was to put up some shelves to hold my jewelry and bought a small dresser to store extra clothes.  I’m a girly girl at heart and love having all of my beautiful necklaces, bracelets, and earrings on display.  It also makes getting ready easier and allow me to accessorize my outfits in a snap!

All in all I’ve very happy by how everything turned out.

Before I end this post I thought I’d share with you some quick feng shui bedroom tips.

Feng Shui Bedroom Guidelines

  • Bed placement – Have your bed approachable from both sides, have two bedside tables (one on each side), avoid having the bed in direct line with the door, avoid having the bed under a window.
  • Minimize all mirrors in the bedroom.  If there is a mirror reflecting the bed, either remove it or cover it with curtains or a scarf while sleeping.
  • Avoid having a TV, computer, exercise equipment or bills in the bedroom.
  • Clear out clutter-especially under the bed
  • Choose art work that is uplifting or you want to see happening in your life.  Do not use sad and lonely images in your bedroom.
  • Bedroom colors should consist of skin tones from pale white to warm peaches and tans.
  • Keep all bedroom doors closed at night to allow for the most nourishing flow of energy to strengthen health.

Food Allergies

Source: http://brotherssauces.blogspot.com/2011/11/food-allergies-do-you-or-do-you-know.html

A few months ago, I was diagnosed with a few food allergies.  I had an inclination that I was reacting to something that I was eating for quite some time, but for some reason or another I kept thinking it was something else and delayed getting an allergy test done.  It didn’t help that my mainstream doctors didn’t think food could cause me to have such ailments as sinus infections, headaches, bloating or fatigue.  When I asked my allergy doctor if diary could cause me to produce more mucous, she looked at me like I was crazy.

I had seen naturopathic doctor when I had a bout of adrenal fatigue–again something that my general practioner had overlooked, and went back and asked for a food allergy test. At the time I had already cut out gluten, diary, and white sugar from my diet and thought that would take care of anything I could be allergic to, but I still had a nagging feeling that there may be something else.

It turns out that I am allergic to yeast (both baker’s and brewer’s), eggs, and diary. While, I wasn’t too surprised about being allergic yeast and diary–I was shocked about the eggs, because I would include a hard boiled egg in my breakfast or salad at lunch almost everyday!  However, once I received the results of my allergy test, it dawned on me that I would feel a general malaise whenever I ate eggs.  I remembered standing at the salad bar at work, thinking to myself, “maybe I should skip an egg and get something else,” but would override my feelings and say that eggs are good protein and get it anyway.

I think this goes to show that ultimately we need to listen to our inner knowing about what is best for us even if it doesn’t make sense rationally.

If you think that you might be allergic to something, it’s worth getting checked out.  I did an IgG test from Immuno Laboratories, which measures the level of a certain type of antibodies produced in response to different foods.  The IgG antibodies are protect against bacterial or viral infections.  When you eat something you are allergic to, your body views it as a toxin will produce these antibodies to protect itself.

According to Immuno Laboratories website, “95% of the people we’ve tested show that one or more foods they regularly eat cause a toxic reaction in their body”–that’s really high!  So certain foods that may be dubbed as ‘healthy’ (diary, whole grains, egg whites) can actually be wreaking havoc and causing inflammation.

It’s been a few months since I’ve found out what I’m allergic too and have cut those foods out of my diet, I can happily report that I’m feeling a lot better these days (I’ve even lost a few lbs!). If you think that you may have food allergies or react when you eat certain foods, it may be worth considering talking to your doctor about getting a test done.

Green Smoothie

Happy Monday everyone, hope you all had a good weekend.  I indulged quite a bit this weekend (especially Saturday night at dinner–ribs, mac and cheese, philly cheesesteak spring rolls, and wine) it was delicious, but I am feeling the effects this morning.  I’m feeling a little bloated and need something healthy to get me back on track.

It dawned on me as I was looking in my fridge, that I have all the ingredients to make a green smoothie: A bunch of kale that I got from the farmer’s market, some frozen bananas, and almond milk.  I threw everything in, plus some ground flax seeds and barely grass powder for more nutrition and whipped up a quick smoothie to take with me to enjoy on my drive to work.

If you’re kind of weary of adding anything green to your smoothie-especially kale-don’t be, it will not affect the taste.  If you add a banana and almond milk you won’t be able to tell it’s there.  Try the recipe below and tell me what you think!

Green Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond milk ( I use unsweetened vanilla)
  • 1 handful of kale
  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 T. ground flax (optional)
  • 1 tsp. barley grass or wheat grass powder (optional)

Directions:

1.  Add almond milk, flax seed, and barley grass powder to blender and blend.

2.  Next add kale and blend.

3.  Follow by adding frozen banana and blend.

Be Juicy

I can’t believe it’s been over a month since my last post!   I’m happy to report that I’m all moved into my new place and finally settled. I also snuck in a vacation while I was in Cabo San Lucas for a destination wedding.  I’m back, refreshed, and ready to get back to blogging!

Back to the topic of this post.  In between unpacking boxes of bedroom and kitchen stuff, I watched the documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.”

The film chronicles the journey of Joe Cross, a likable Australian businessman who is 100 pounds overweight and loaded up on steroids for an autoimmune skin disease.

After failed attempts by doctors and conventional medicine to cure Joe of his condition, he explores the body’s ability to self heal and embarks on a 60 day juice fast.   While on his fast, he travels across America as he shares his mission and interviews Americans about food, health, and longevity.   It’s an eye opening and  inspiring film, and I highly recommend that you watch it. You can even watch it for free on hulu.

I’ve been so inspired by the film that I dug out my juicer and vowed to start juicing again.  I made my own recipe that I’ve called the “Green Goddess.”  See below the recipe.

Green Goddess 

Ingredients:

  • 4 Kale leaves
  • Handful of parsley
  • Handful of spinach
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime

Directions:

1. Start by juicing the greens, then vegetables, and apple.

2. Squeeze lemon and and lime into the mixture. You can also juice these using the juicer, but I find that it clogs up my machine.

3. Drink within 15 minutes before oxidation.

Riding the Waves of Change

Picture: http://www.travelwizard.com/tahiti/tahiti-surfing/

There is a lot going on with me right now.  I’m preparing for an upcoming move that is two weeks away (which I haven’t begun to pack for, eek!!) this entails selling old furniture to craigslist hopefuls and scouring home furniture stores for a new sofa, chairs, coffee table, and headboard among other things. Did I mention that I’m also hosting a last minute pool party BBQ with friends, attending birthday parties, kicking off new projects at work, and that I just joined Toastmasters, a public speaking club?  Phew..I’m tired just typing that.  Oh, and I have pms right now, which comes with weepiness and INSANE chocolate cravings, but that’s besides the point.

I’ve been rather frantic these past couple of weeks trying to figure out everything with my living situation, as it was only very recently (we’re talking days) that I found a new place to call home for now.  I am moving twenty minutes away to another town, and although I am very familiar with the locale, it’s a change nonetheless and change is hard sometimes.

I have always thought myself pretty adaptable and was thus surprised by how much I was stressing about my move.  I would wake up in the middle of the night in a panic about where I was going to live.  What if I don’t like my new place? What if traffic is horrendous and I can’t stand the commute? What if I don’t like my neighbors?  What am I going to do without a superstore Whole Foods five minutes away??? Okay,the last one is a little silly.

My intuition had told me that it was time to move, that I’ve outgrown my apartment and local city, but part of me did not want to let go of a place that I’ve called home for the past five years.  Sometimes we cling to a situation, a person, a job that no longer serves us but we do so because it is comfortable.

I’m also going through a lot of changes energetically, letting go old patterns and beliefs, and ways of seeing myself.  This too can bring up ‘stuff.’  One area specifically has to do with being seen and shining my light.

I’m friendly and talkative, and generally perceived as outgoing, but I’m really a shy person deep down and don’t like a lot of attention.  I also have a hard time in the spotlight and would prefer it to be on someone else, which is why I have an aversion for public speaking. And that is exactly why I’ve signed up (albeit reluctantly) for Toastmasters.  In order to transform, we must challenge ourselves to try new things that push us out of our comfort zone.  I’m trying to follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice – do one thing that scares you each day.

Rather than resist change, I finally told myself that I’m just going to go with it.  I pictured myself picking up a surf board and riding the waves.  I was going to go with the flow, even if I didn’t know where that wave would take me.

How to Take Care of Orchids

I’ve got to admit, I do not have a green thumb.  Despite my best efforts, it’s always been a difficult for me to keep plants and healthy and alive.   That coupled with my affinity for orchids (which are notoriously finicky house plants) makes it a challenge for me to take care of them.

    

However, I recently stopped by a local orchid shop and found out some useful tips on how to nurture and care for orchids.


I also took home a few lovely plants that I arranged (with the help of the owner) in a textured pot with moss.    Look how it some color to my side table.  Nevermind the black rod (lamp) in the background…

Orchid FAQ

How often do I water an orchid?

Once a week by putting 1 or 2 ice cubes in the pot.  You’ll know when it’s time to water when the soil is dry to touch.

Do I need to give my orchid plant food?

Yes, orchids need to be fertilized twice a month. Look for products that contain nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), along with trace elements such as iron.

How much sunlight does my orchid need?

Orchids like all plants need sunlight to flourish. Direct sunlight may cause plants to burn, and too little light will prevent plants from flowering. An ideal location is behind curtains or window blinds.

Some of the leaves have changed color, what does that mean?

Orchids should have bright green, healthy leaves.  If your orchids leaves have changed color it could mean that the plant is receiving too much or little light and water.

Dark green – The orchid is receiving insufficient light, move the plant closer to a window.

Yellow – Overwatering will result in yellow, damaged leaves. If your orchid’s leaves turn yellow and show signs of rot, hold off on watering for a few weeks.

Brown – The leaves of orchid turn brown when they are sunburned.  If they have received too much direct sunlight, they will brown and oxidize.  If this happens, simply cut of the brown parts of the leaves.

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