Spring is one of my favorite times of year. Luckily, spring in Seattle blossoms earlier than most regions in the states. For me spring like nature, is a time for renewal and rebirth. It’s the time of the year where I get more energy and excitement for longer days and warmer weather.
My most favorite memory of spring is to admire the cherry blossoms. I have a deep love for flowers, that roots back to childhood. Each year my earthly parents planted hundreds of flowers in beds around our yard and trees. Naturally, I gained an appreciation for flowers and what our earth produces.
Cherry blossoms are one of the most popular trees in Seattle. These beautiful white and pink blossoms burst with the sun, but sadly the petals do not stay on the trees for very long. From the University of Washington campus to Queen Anne neighborhood, Seattle rebirths with life force energy each time these trees bloom.
Sadly, with the change of the weather patterns, cherry blossoms have bloomed early the past two years. But when the petals begin to fall, the sidewalks become a carpet of pink and white petals. It's a magical experience that reminds me of the unicorn scenes in the 1980's movie, Legend with Tom Cruise. So for this recipe, the cherry blossoms were my source of inspiration.
I sat on my balcony and overlooked the pink cherry blossom tree that carelessly flowed in the wind. For some reason something with cherries, apples and almonds sounded good.
Lately, I’ve had to do all gluten free baking and find it an interesting - as it truly is a chemical experiment. I notice that using all gluten free flours can be dry or tasteless unless there is enough sweetener and using just almond flour sometimes leads to crumbly messes. (If anyone knows the secret to that please let me know!) The one thing I’ve learned living in Germany is that baking is a serious art and science. It can take a lot of trial and errors to find the right method of mixing, concocting and ingredient selections.
Well, lucky for me I know using half GF flour and half almond flour has been successful in the past. I decided to use applesauce as the main form of sweetener and frozen cherries since fresh are not available.
You can use dry cherries if you’d like. I recommend rinsing the frozen cherries with cold water. This way it’ll rinse off the juice, which will not turn the dough pink.
I wanted this bread to be pretty, just like the cherry blossom trees. I find the circle to be much more appealing as it looks like a cake. What I did is I lined a 6 in. spring foam pan with parchment paper. Next, I poured in the dough and evened out the top.
Next, I pulled the parchment paper out and then placed it on a cookie sheet to bake. I did use a spatula to push up against the sides to make sure the dough keeps it form. You can also use a regular 9x5 or 8x4 bread pan if you’d like.
Upon first bite, I fell in love just like the first time I fell in with the cherry blossom trees. Sweet, innocent and guilt-free, I hope you enjoy this beautiful combination inspired directly from nature.
Gluten Free & Vegan Apple Cherry (Blossom) Almond Bread
Prep Time: 7 Minutes
Cook Time: 40-45 Minutes
Total Time: 50-52 Minutes
1 cup all purpose gluten free flour (or use regular pastry flour)
1 cup almond flour
1 cup cherries, halved (I used frozen or use fresh when in season)
1 cup applesauce
2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flax meal mixed w/ 4 tbsp water)
2 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Optional: 2 tbsp nondairy milk
Topping: 2 tbsp almonds, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the flax egg and set aside. Place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix. Place all the wet ingredients into the bowl and mix. Once the flax egg is gelatenous mix it with the wet ingredients.
Make a well into the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet mixture into the dry. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. If it seems too dry use up to two tablespoons of nondairy milk. Or you can use the milk for a creamier texture in the bread.
Next, halve the frozen cherries. Rinse the frozen cherries with cold water to remove any juice. Gently, fold the cherries into the dough. Place the dough in a bread pan that is lined with parchment paper. You can read the directions above the above photograph about how I made a circular bread.
Chop the almonds and sprinkle on top of the dough, pushing the nuts down so they stick.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. You test the bread with a toothpick or fork. The bread is done when the fork comes out clean. Let the bread cool completely before cutting.
So, what's your favorite part of spring?
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Women’s health is an important issue. From birthing children to emotional wellbeing to menopause, women should prioritize their health so they can live a long, healthy and happy life.
Today, women are stressed with balancing work and home life. I seriously don’t know how modern-day moms do it. Throughout my training career I’ve heard everything under the sun, but most importantly, women are stressed. Stress affects our hormonal flow, which we all know women go through intense stages of fluctuating hormones.
Most people do not realize that food is medicine. In the US, we “see” food as a method to help us lose, gain or maintain weight. Once you shift your mindset to realize that food is medicine, you can appreciate and enjoy food that nature provides us.
Without further ado, these are five foods that every woman should include in their diet. WARNING: This will make you realize that nature is the wisest source on earth.
Most people do not realize that both women and plants have a reproductive organ called the ovary. The only difference between pomegranates and women are that women disperse their “seed” internally where the plant releases its seed once consumed and then excreted by an animal. Why is this so important to women?
Research on pomegranate has skyrocketed over the years. Not only does the anatomical “open face” pomegranate and ovules look similar, but also the “bleeding” juice improves ovary and birth health.
In 2004, the Journal of Ethnopharmacology looked at rats whose ovaries were removed resulting in accelerated bone loss, lose of uterine weight and depression symptoms. All symptoms reversed when administered pomegranate extract.
Another study conducted the Washington University School of Medicine concluded “pomegranate juice reduces placental oxidative stress in vivo and in vitro while limiting stimulus-induced death of human trophoblasts in culture.
Brain health is essential in today’s chaos. Not only does the walnut look similar to the human brain, which is also encased in shell (like the human skull), the walnut provides adequate Omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial to the brain. Walnuts also contain neuro-protective compounds including gallic acid, Vitamin E isomers, melatonin (needed for the circadian rhythm) and folate.
Studies have shown that walnut-rich diets also reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Isn’t it interesting that avocados take on a pear-shape that is well, similar to many women’s body type. Avocados are the “good” fat that many people promote as the ideal source of fat. Although it may seem that the old-school mentality that “fat makes you fat” is untrue.
In fact, research suggests that avocados support weight health. One avocado has the same nutrient and phytochemical density and availability as almonds, walnuts and pistachios with less than half of the calories. This is not to say to skip the nuts, but add avocado. Avocado research also suggests that those who eat these high-fat fruit have a higher HDL (good) cholesterol.
Flax seed is used for reducing menopausal symptoms. Although beneficial, research suggests flax seed is beneficial to women with breast cancer. In 2013, the journal of Integrative Cancer Therapy printed observational data related to flax seed and breast cancer.
Women newly diagnosed with breast cancer who consumed flax seed experienced:
-Decreased hot flashes
-Increased cell death in tumors
-Decreased breast cancer proliferation
-Decreased HER2 expression
-Improved normalization of cells, mammography density and anti-invasive properties
-Improved mental health and a 32% chance of lower mortality
Broccoli is an all around versatile food that research proves to be beneficial for cancer health. Broccoli is a part of the cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage and cauliflower all of which contain glucoraphanin.
Research indicates that when animals eat glucoraphanin it transforms into “cancer-protective” compound, sulphoraphane, which activates enzymes and flushes it out the urine.
Want to hear more about broccoli and cancer health? This fantastic three-minute video talks about how broccoli can inhibit breast cancer stem cells.
Broccoli is by far my favorite food so I am happy to share this insight from one of the best doctors out there! Isn't nature amazing?
What other foods do you find beneficial for women's health? Please comment or contact us!
The spring equinox is here and the first signs of spring have sprung in Seattle. The trees are budding, the flowers are blooming and life is blossoming. With so many flower petals floating through the air, I could not help but allow nature to inspire an internal cleanse. Various hues of pink petals blossomed on top of deep green leaves – renewal is here.
Naturally, my kitchen became a garden as I cooked based on my inspiration.
Equinoxes are a good to time to internally cleanse thy body. In the past during emotional hardships, I’ve done detoxes such as the Master Cleanse and fasting retreats abroad. Another blog will address my opinions on this, but I do not believe in hard-core detoxes when you have to work long days and live your life. The purpose of a cleanse is to renew and restore your mind, body and soul, and not to push through a hectic workweek consuming less than 800 calories of liquid.
There is no better way to cleanse internally than through the consumption of water and fresh fruit. Fruit-infused waters are the perfect way to consume nutritious water that aides in flushing out “the bad stuff.”
Throughout my fitness career, I focused most of my time working with obesity and overweight cliental. Most of these people need a palate change along with processing their emotions. Consuming high sugary beverages such as Vitamin Water and Gatorade, fruit infused waters are sweetened by nature. It’s the perfect transition for people to “get off” sugary beverages.
After staring at my kitchen, I noticed how raspberries and limes equally match the vibrancy of the blossoming flowers. Well, why not make it?
Equinoxes are a time for change. Spring brings in the re-birthing processing to and changes us energetically, well to have more energy. Longer days, beautiful scenery, what’s not to like about spring?
Raspberries provide plenty of anti-oxidant nutrients, which research is showing that the metabolism in fat cells can be increased by the phytonutrients found in raspberries. The raspberry ketone is a newer buzz that is a natural compound found in raspberries (and other fruits) that increases enzyme activity, oxygen consumption and heat production.
Limes, like lemons, are excellent sources of Vitamin C and provide cancer-fighting nutrients. Together, raspberries and limes provide a sweet, tangy and refreshing drink.
There is no other perfect way to celebrate the new equinox and refresh your soul with this drink.
Raspberry Lime Infused Water
Prep Time: 5 minutes
1.5 cup water
1/4 cup raspberries
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
+ 3 raspberries and 1 slice of lemon to soak in the water
Place the raspberries in a pitcher and muddle. Next, squeeze in the lime and muddle until the raspberries are "juiced." Pour in water and mix. Pour the water into a glass and use a strainer to remove the chunks of raspberries. Place the additional lime and raspberry to soak. Serve chilled.
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Change is Scary: Most People Fear Confronting Their Inner World - elephant journal.com
Change is Scary. Most People Fear Confronting their Inner World.
original posting on elephantjournal.com
Via Elizabeth Kovar on Mar 16, 2016
An enlightening excerpt from Elizabeth Rae Kovar’s newest travel memoir, Finding Om: An Indian Journey of Rickshaws, Chai, Chapattis and Gurus.
Change is inevitable. The minutes, the days the seasons and the years—everything around us changes. Nature embraces change as easily as the wind blows through a meadow of sunflowers. It’s a part of life and nature doesn’t resist change, but rebirths every time it is destroyed.
But do we humans embrace the same change as nature? Some welcome change with open arms where others resist it like a nail boarded into a wooden plank, trying to not surrender and break amidst the surrounding hurricane. Some people accept change more easily in certain areas of life, such as technology, job promotions and raises. But most fear that change from within. Why? Change is scary and most people fear confronting their inner world.
The reality is that not all change needs to be difficult and scary, but rather an adventure into an unknown land to soak up the sun and to drink up the lessons of life. One can find change by simply exiting one’s comfort zone.
Nothing grows in the comfort zone.I couldn’t help but fall in love with Australia. The Aussies enjoyed every moment of life and had a smart approach to human existence. Life was a priority before work. Australia opened my eyes to see that anything in life is possible, and encouraged my passport to accumulate more stamps. I had a long way to go, but I began to overcome the internal battles that I’d had as a young female. Yoga and writing began to help me understand my emotions.
After several yoga classes, I felt inspired to write in my journal. So far, I was enjoying yoga. I did yoga a couple times in the states, but the gym atmosphere was not inspirational. I found beauty in the graceful flow of the human body. At the end of class we’d do this deep meditation. After several sessions, I began to cry during the meditation and final relaxation. I didn’t know why, but I continued to cry. Part of it could have been the soothing, ambient music, which was so lovely it made me emotional. But I think the other realization hit me. I was in Australia!
The solo moments of me, my surfboard and the ocean twinkled in my eyes throughout the day and then I stared at the stars at night. I united with the earth and Australia in a way that I’d never thought was possible.
But it was that impeccable energy that encouraged living every day to its fullest. Australia pushed me out of my comfort zone, and inspired me to live life equipped with equal parts of work and play, although play usually won the battle. Life in Australia was a sensual blend of spiritual and sexual energy that equally balanced the yin and yang of life.
The relaxation inherent in yoga helped me with the fast-paced world that I knew. In America, we only know how to be on the go all the time and how to be stressed; in contrast, the Aussie lifestyle was “live in the now.” Yoga was telling me to have fun, as this may be the only time I was going to be in this country. It also told me to quit worrying about money and to take a break from constantly studying. Australia tangled my wounded heart into a deep love affair.
The best moments were my beach walks wearing nothing but my bathing suit, sarong, CD player and plastic headphones. Listening to inspirational beats while grounding my feet into the earth connected my soul with freedom. The sun soaked my body with energy while the rustling waves drenched my legs with happiness. With every footstep, my brain sunk deeper into a meditative oceanic state while my consciousness ascended to the Universe. I now realized that heaven on earth did exist and my soul had found it’s home.
Between surfing, nightclubbing, scuba diving, walking the beach and doing yoga, my soul rebirthed. There was no fear, but only excitement for what the future held.
Getting out of our comfort zone expands us in ways that are not imaginable. We push our boundaries and re-prioritize what we want out of life. Somewhere within life’s lessons, when we re-enter reality, we must never forget what we’ve learned.
When lost, never give up hope.Tired, exhausted and depleted, I had no connection to my soul. The life I once knew in Australia was gone. Completely gone with the wind. Nine months gone, to be exact, since I’d left Australia. Every day my life revolved around work and school, worrying about money, contemplating whether my relationship would last and yelling at the ceiling every night, begging for just two hours of sleep.
One sleepless night, I stumbled into the bathroom and ran my fingers across my head, pulling out chunks of hair. Some say stress caused hair loss, but I “knew” I had a hair disease. Stress doesn’t affect young people since we have the energy to do everything, right?
Soaked in a puddle of tears, I realized the reverse culture shock and my responsibilities had hit me harder than I realized. The new me didn’t fit into this old me environment. Plus, what would I do with this sports management degree, anyway?
Australia had opened my eyes and I now envisioned a life and career different than my original intentions. Since my life began to evolve in fitness, I began to despise the darker side of sports. But everything in my life was spiraling out of control.
Diet, exercise, thinking, working and studying. Everything was extreme. My body was tired and my mind was so lost. Some days I spent two to three hours at the gym, trying to lose the last of my “freshman 28” that I had gained. I hadn’t done yoga often, but the little I did was smashed between strength training and a cardio session at the gym. Since I was mentoring with my fitness director, I found that I naturally gravitated to yoga, again. But she said I needed to be certified in order to teach. That thought only added to my worries, as I didn’t have thousands of dollars to spend on training. Plus, my insecurities sabotaged my boyfriend’s career and what I wanted with my life.
Sitting on the bathroom floor in just a T-shirt, I stood up and looked in the mirror. I did not recognize that broken person I saw in the mirror with black circles around her eyes and rosy cheeks that were inflamed from anxiety. I felt guilty for putting a 25-year-old man through my insomniac-ridden and caffeine-addicted drama. I thought about Australia and compared it to my current situation. I kept asking myself, “Didn’t I just figure myself out and the wonders of life in Australia?” The stagnant farm-town environment and hectic schedule depleted my soul. I felt as if my current environment only inspired mediocrity.
Thirsty, I walked into the kitchen to drink a glass of water. I sat on the kitchen chair and tucked my knees underneath my T-shirt. I rested my head on my knees while my hand hugged the glass of water. After drinking, I placed the empty glass on the table.
Glancing upward, I noticed the small tapestry and wooden turtle I’d bought in Fiji just after I’d left Australia. Untucking my legs from beneath the shirt, I stood up and placed my hand on the turtle. I flashed back to the images of sitting alone on the beach, with my turtle-insignia surfboard next to me. The memories flooded my mind. I took this as a sign that I needed to slow down and it confirmed my decision to do something about my situation.
The next day, I walked to the student psychology services office. I’d become desperate for help and desperate to understand my unstable mind.
Although people can keep changing and evolving, many people seeking help opt into a structured class, workshop or seminar. Finding the “right therapeutic shoe that fits” is a trial and error process. Even if a certain therapy doesn’t help, there is still something to be learned from that experience.
I felt as if I’d consulted the world about my hair loss and my unstable mind. The campus doctor prescribed me Zoloft. My dermatologist told me to stop being a vegan and eat meat. The psychologist told me to go to a stress management group, and the light therapy doctor whose skin was as burnt as a leather handbag suggested an overly priced package of light treatment for my thinning hair. I felt hopeless, but I still had hope for natural healing.
During my night class, I fell asleep and arose several minutes before class ended. I walked out of class slowly, and as I yawned in the hallway, I looked over my right shoulder. I noticed a poster with a man standing on top of a mountain with his arms raised in the air. The poster said, “What would you do if you could do anything?” Excited, I jotted down the information and went home to research this fellowship.
After days and countless minutes of thinking about exciting trips, I thought, “What would I do if I could do anything? Hmm, I would do everything!” And that’s where the idea struck.
Thinking about my current mental state, I thought, “This is it. I want to study yoga in India.”
Find your om.Some therapies work, some don’t, but there are usually one or two modalities that work like a charm.
For many, yoga is that one therapeutic charm. It’s as if the mat is the therapist and pushes one to live one’s greatest life. Those who adopt a yoga practice cannot help but watch their life begin to organically change, just like nature.
During the first week of training, I realized I had never “done” yoga. I’d only attempted it. When fusing the mind, body and breath together, while the guru walked around with his adjustment cane, I could not help but look inward. Everything united and things began to evolve internally. Without realizing, I began to look at the world differently.
After a long day of exploring the town of Coonoor on our first day off, we yogis took a tuk-tuk back to the retreat. We drove along bumpy roads that meandered through green tea fields. I looked outside the window. I admired the beauty of this planet, fulfilled with the freedom that I desired. In that moment, I was as free as the birds that flew past the rickshaw, slowly spreading my wings, flying high to a better life.
On that very night, I looked at the ceiling, aware of strange feelings. Part of me wanted to cry but I could not release the emotions for some odd reason. I didn’t think my emotions and wanna-shed tears came from sadness; it was from the natural process of letting go. All the lessons and wisdom made complete sense, but I feared and resisted to let go of old ways. In that moment, my only feelings were hope and happiness. I became proud of myself for my choices and knew I was on the right path toward success. Closing my eyes to go to sleep, I told myself, “One week down, five more to go.”
Yoga teaches us that the destruction of something old recycles itself into something new. Like a flower, inner beauty can only blossom when one’s inner world is receptive to change and does not fear to shed away the old habits and behaviors.
Finding Om: An Indian Journey of Rickshaws, Chai, Chapattis and Gurus is a travel memoir about backpacking and studying yoga in India. Find more information about the print and e-book versions here.
Author: Elizabeth Rae Kovar
Photo: Jason James/Flickr
Editor: Jean Weiss
About Elizabeth Kovar
Elizabeth Kovar, M.A., is an award-winning vegan fitness trainer, author of Finding Om and international freelance writer and fitness presenter for BOSU and the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Elizabeth earned a title as one of 2014 Shape.com’s “Top 50 Hottest Trainers in America” and was the first recipient of the Stuart R. Givens Fellowship to study yoga in India. Kovar studied yoga in six different countries and lived abroad in Australia (twice), India and Germany. She also instructs the community college course, Eight Limbs. Elizabeth has published over 1,000 print and online articles. She is the creator of a vegan food and travel blog and the web site, lemon tree travel.
If you’ve followed this blog for a while you know that Mind Body Soul Food’s recipes are inspired by nature. Inspiration struck several weeks ago as spring began to blossom in Seattle. The beautiful pink and yellow flowers bloomed while the moss brightened due to heavy rains.
And well, how perfect does anything green go with St. Patrick’s Day. I knew I wanted to create something with a purpose for this holiday that complimented the colors of nature.
Seattle is in fact beautiful and I appreciate our mild and temperate winters. Plant life exists year round and nothing balances out the day than a glimpse at the remarkable Puget Sound.
I’ve been back in the states for exactly three months. Wow! Time flies. I left Germany on December 17, 2015. My second inspiration for this recipe is a financial one.
You see, between October 2014 through the end of January 2015 I was unemployed except with some freelance work. During that time, my budget only allowed me to cook nearly every day. I enjoy cooking because I think it’s therapeutic and I take control of what my body gets in terms of health and nutrition. And the more I connected to nature the more I got inspired with how our food is connected to plant life in terms of colors, patterns, shapes and textures.
I now have this dream, which many do and is also a new trend – early retirement. Although I’m a long way from that, I am challenging myself to create healthy recipes on a budget. All recipes I create are budget conscious but now I want to "show" how affordable healthy eating can be.
Plus, I am a realist. Although I’d like to encourage people to drink spinach rather than large quantities of beer on St Patty’s Day, I do believe that the only thing green stuffed in someone's face today will be green beer. So, when hung over why not pack your body with hang-over nutrients instead of greasy chips and ice cream.
Spinach is chocked full of Vitamin A and K (as well as magnesium and potassium which aide dehydrated bodies) and contains a nutrient called, “Glycolycerolipids” which are fat-related molecules found in the membranes of most plants. Why is this important? Because this nutrient can help protect the stomach lining of the digestive tract including inflammation.
Combined with the boost of Vitamin C from the banana, this fruit is the perfect carbohydrate that is easy on the digestive tract. It’s a low GI carbohydrate and like spinach, is an ideal source of fiber, which is good to you know, relieve the alcohol that’s floating in your system. The banana’s digestive importance is the fructooligosaccharides which are fructose containing carbs that are not broken down by enzymes. In essence, it moves along the digestive tract to the small intestine where – BINGO – 95% of our nutrients are absorbed.
If you add in the small bit of nut butter you get another boost of gentleness on the stomach. Alcohol especially in large quantities is rough on the stomach and the digestion process.
So, I move on…
I went to the store last night and spent $2.12 on three large bananas ($1.21) and 0.13 pound of spinach ($0.91) which is about three big handfuls or three heaping cups.
I challenged myself and well I created this recipe for about $1.00 when equating the ratios of the ingredients used. (Ha beat that McDonalds!)
While living in Northern Germany I could not believe how inexpensive healthy food is. I used to walk out of the store with three bags stacked with food for 30 Euros or less. In the states, I can’t buy more than one Trader Joes bag.
I bought the spinach and banana at one of Seattle’s most expensive grocery stores, The Metropolitan Market. I love the place, but it is very expensive. So with spending about a buck on the smoothie at an expensive store means that it could be cheaper at other places.
This smoothie is for one and you must know smoothies are easier to digest than eating the whole fruit or vegetable. Because of that, concocting giant 16-24 ounce smoothies are too large and you have to think about whether or not you can consume that same quantity in its whole form.
The nut butter is optional (a bit of protein and fat to balance our macronutrients), but I find the banana and spinach blended together in a naturally sweet way with the unsweetened almond milk. Enjoy and Happy St Patrick’s Day!
Vegan St. Patty's Day Shamrock Recovery Shake (Banana Spinach Smoothie)
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
1 large banana
1 cup fresh spinach
1/3 + 1/4 cup nondairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
Optional: 1 scoop almond butter
Place the banana, spinach and 1/3 cup milk into a food processor or blender. Mix until blended and remove the lid to scrape the sides. Gradually add the additional 1/4 cup of milk and nut butter. Blend until smooth.
If you have questions about hangover cures or anything health-related, please contact us or comment below! Happy St Patricks Day!
Exercise is more than just a workout to flaunt a great physical appearance. Since most jobs (and lives) are sedentary, our mind and body requirse movement to maintain proper health. Most don’t realize that oxygen plays a large role in our well-being. When we exercise, we are forced to breathe deeper, which transports oxygen throughout our bodies. This often makes us feel refreshed and revived. When there is a lack of oxygen flowing through the body we feel fatigued, often yawning, wondering when the clock will strike five o’clock.
There are many symptoms that signal our bodies could use more exercise. Here are three common and vital signs that your body needs to move more.
Stress and Anger
Do you get upset immediately upon reading a work email? Or are your stress levels so bad that you can’t sleep? Although stress differs for everyone, and exercise is stress, it is important to exercise to control your stress. Something calm like yoga, Pilates and swimming is therapeutic and the body adjusts to the hormones released from exercise. Even something light such as walking outside on a lunch break and pause stress and rebalance the body. Something more intense like running or weight lifting can help you release that energy during exercise rather than at work.
Stiff Joints and Body Aches
Does your back ache? Are your shoulders and hips tight? Aches and pains are some of the first signs that your body needs to move. The less it moves the more problems will occur overtime. Emotional stress can also increase muscular stiffness as the muscles tense when we are stressed. So exercise maintains stress and increases joint range of motion.
Many diseases and issues such as diabetes and arthritis are rooted to a poor diet and lack of physical movement. Known as a “hypo-kinetic” disease, issues such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, mental health and some forms of cancer root to a lack of movement.
These problems can be avoided with regular exercise and by eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Once down the rabbit hole, you’ll have to follow doctor’s orders, but most people can prevent problems like Type II diabetes through a lifestyle change that includes regular exercise. Any form of exercise is metabolic conditioning. With rebalancing hormones and glycogen levels, exercise aides in healthy insulin levels.
It is very rare that exercise is a “bad thing” once diagnosed with an illness. The goal is to find the level and intensity that suits your current health levels. Most people do well with regular walks, light bike rides/swims, yoga and other forms of moderate exercise.
What signs or symptoms indicate that your body needs more exercise? We love learning from others so please share! If you have any questions about whether or not your body needs more exercise, or what type would suit you, please comment below!
Soups are one of my favorite things to make. Soups are easy, delicious and a perfect way to pack vegetables and herbs into your diet. For those who do not drink enough water, soups are rehydrating and nourishing to the soul.
And well, nothing is easier than this sweet potato kale quinoa stew. Chocked full of healthy carbohydrates and protein, this soup takes just under 30 minutes to make.
Just like this soup, I'll make this blog short and sweet. I actually created an original version for my upcoming vegan cookbook, which I will publish later this year. So this is a spin off from my original recipe and well, it's just as good and delicious! Enjoy!
Vegan Sweet Potato Kale Quinoa Stew
Prep Time: 7 Minutes
Cook Time: 22-25 Minutes
Total Time: 29-32 Minutes
4 cups water + 1 bouillon cube (or vegetable broth)
2 packed cups, kale (shredded or chopped from stems)
1 med. sweet potato, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 cup quinoa (use 1/3 if you want more broth)
1 1/4 tsp Italian spices
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
3 1/4 tsp tomato paste
1 tbsp olive oil
Chop vegetables. In a soup pot, cook the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in olive oil for 3 minutes. Add the red pepper and sweet potato and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Next, add the water, quinoa, bouillon, tomato paste and spices. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the kale once the quinoa is closer to being done and cook until edible. Remove from heat and serve hot.
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It took me a long time to figure out if angels and spirit guides exist. I know some of my logical friends still think I am “crazy” for believing in invisible beings, but throughout key moments in my life and various spiritual experiences I can’t help but confirm my spirit guides, guardians and/or angels were with me.
Whether it’s through a reoccurring number or chills sent through your body, angels and guides present themselves mainly through our senses. Since the majority of everyone cannot “see” things (or a blocked third eye) our guides must get in touch with us somehow. Whether it’s to remind you that you are on the right path or to signal you about a potential problem, here are some ways to note that your guides and guardians are with you based on my experiences with life.
Reoccurring Number Patterns – Have you been seeing the same number over and over again? Has an important email been sent at an important time like 1:11pm or 2:34pm? Angels and guides communicate through numbers to grab our attention. I find numbers help confirm or bring awareness to a certain thought or action that occurred at the same time. I’ve found numbers come through from license plate numbers to my total at a grocery store.
Chills – Chills are a universal sign that you’ve connected to your soul and that your guides are with you. I remember from going through past life regression hypnotherapy that I began researching this life I once had. When I asked the question, “Was I once a native American corn woman?” chills flooded through my body and I felt the urge to look at the clock which was 11:11am. To me, this confirmation signaled the truth to my past life.
Actions from Nature – Whether you are sitting alone in nature, or questioning something while driving, guides will present their actions through nature. Has an “odd” looking cloud appeared? Has a certain bird entered your presence? Signs from nature are signs from the heavens. After visiting a Native American site in Utah, I was thinking about my upcoming move to Europe. Doing well in my career, I wondered if this move would be good for me. I looked out the car window to notice a beautiful angel shape cloud soaring above, which reminded me that my guides would take care of me.
Rainbows – Although scientific when combing light, clouds and rain, rainbows in many ancient cultures are a sign from guides. I’ve been a bit of a rainbow chaser the last couple years and see rainbows in some of the most majestic places. Many believe rainbows are a valid sign for your thoughts, worries or actions.
Ads to Answer Your Question – If you’ve questioned something, “How the hell do I sell a book?” and then some pertinent emails or advertisements come through, it is a message that your guides are trying to help. Most people think that the angels do the work. In reality, they give you hints or messages about something and it’s your free will (or awareness) to choose that route. Normally, they try to get your attention three times.
Physical Touches – I had a friend once who had a powerful story. She began to cross the street and surprisingly a guy blew a red light. She felt hands on her shoulders pull her backwards, which brought her back on the sidewalk. She looked up, down and around her and not one person was in sight. Who else could it be besides a spirit guide. I still get chills to this day when I think of her story.
Whiffs of Scents – Did you just randomly smell oranges? Some believe that random smells are signs that an angel is present. Many believe certain scents trigger certain beings. I’ve had this experience while performing Reiki on people. I’d either feel movement through the air and/or whiffs of a certain scent life orange, rose or garlic. Not sure what the garlic means, besides maybe someone was once a great cook.
Music – Songs sometimes appear at the perfect time. Whether it’s a song that has an imprinted memory on your soul, or lyrics that you can relate to, songs are the perfect message. I remember my first visit to Europe we flew Iceland Air and the new Monsters of Men album was on there. I loved this particular song because it reminded me of Europe. Well, we wanted to move to Europe and at the time my husband put in his application that song popped on the radio. When he left for his interview in Germany, that song came on in the airport and in my car ride home. As you can guess, he got accepted for his fellowship and between the song, email communication times and gut feelings, I knew we were destined to move to Europe.
Do you have any angel stories to share? What signs signal you? I love to hear, learn and grow through people’s experiences.
They say home is where the heart is. On a visit home to Cleveland, Ohio I spent time with my family before moving back to Seattle. My mother, an artistic cook who inspired my love for food, brought over a huge bag of butternut, spaghetti and acorn squash, haikido pumpkins, sweet potatoes and apples. She told me to use them before they went bad, but between jet lag and reverse culture shock, I did now know what to make.
Several days later, I went with my father to the Cleveland Art Holden Arboretum. Starving, we tried to find several restaurants to eat at in the Case Western area, but sadly on Sunday the only two options were Panera or Chipotle. We went into Panera and my dad ordered the autumn squash soup. I tried a bite and enjoyed the sweet mixture of squash and spices.
Tasty and sweet to the palate, I knew this soup had to be laden with something. Later, I looked at the ingredients list and noticed the soup is laden with honey, sweetener and of course dairy (dammit!).
As I looked at the counter, I realized my mother brought over all the necessary ingredients to re-create a vegan winter squash soup. Although I refuse to make a soup so sweet that its like eating cake, I thought why not recreate a healthier version just to stay warm and to energize the body.
The health benefits from squash are some of the best nutrients we can consume. It can help people manage their diabetes, boost the immune system (high loads of Vitamin C and magnesium), improves respiratory health (Vitamin A) and increases cardiovascular health (from the magnesium and potassium).
When you make this soup, I found the flavors really come alive the next day and when the soup is warm (not piping hot). When its boiling and too hot you can't taste the flavors as strongly.
If you'd like the soup to be sweeter or creamier, you can adjust the maple syrup and nondairy milk quantities. I don't overpower the cream as it takes away the flavor of the apple and squash. This soup is easy to make and the most time consuming method is cutting the squash. You can always buy precut squash, but note that is sometimes more expensive than the real thing. Enjoy!
Vegan Winter Apple-Butternut Squash Soup
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 Minutes
Total Time: 40-50 Minutes
32 ounces no-sodium vegetable broth (4 cups)
1 XL Butternut Squash (8 cups)
1 Large Haikido pumpkin (5 cups or regular/canned)
2 3/4 cup onion, chopped (sweet onion is ideal)
1 3/4 cup apple juice (organic or fresh squeezed)
2 tbsp vegan butter
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger, chopped
1/4 tsp cinnamon
optional: 1 tsp maple syrup + 2 tbsp nondairy milk
Begin by prepping the squash, pumpkin, onion and ginger. Cook the onion in the butter until translucent. Add the squash, pumpkin and ginger and cook for 5 minutes. Next, add the broth, spices and apple juice. Cook until the vegetables are soft (about 20-30 minutes).
When cooked, remove from the heat and either with a hand immersion blender or a regular blender, blend the soup into a puree. Return back to the pot and add in the optional maple syrup and nondairy milk. Serve warm.
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Elizabeth Rae Kovar M.A. is Author of her memoir, Finding Om and is a Fitness Trainer, Yogi, Reiki Master, Presenter and Lover of Life. To view her portfolio please visit www.elizabethkovar.com