Feb 27, 2014

Buddha Bowls Are Easy & Delicious

Are you kind of lazy?

Do you like healthy foods but struggle to put together meals that are exciting?

Have you heard of Buddha Bowls?!
buddha bowl

A buddha bowl is a yummy meal in which you get all your flavors and food groups put together in a delicious mix. And in a bowl of course. Preferably a BIG bowl!

Here's how to put one together:

Start with a base of WHOLE GRAINS or STARTCHY VEGGIES (cooked)
  •  rice, quinoa, couscous, sweet potato, squash
  • any kind of beans, lentils, tofu, or tempeh
  • kale, spinach, collards, chard, romaine, and any kind of sprouts  
And VEGGIES (cooked or raw)
  • tomato, avocado, peppers, mushrooms,  broccoli, artichokes, etc
Spinkle with HERBS & SPICES
  • parsley, cilantro, basil, green onions, ginger, cayenne, nutritional yeast, and I like to add flax meal or hemp hearts here
Top it off with DRESSING or SAUCE
  • tahini, miso dressing, any vineager, lemon or lime, tamari, and how about saurkraut and some of its juice!

Buddha bowls are a great way to use whats in your fridge into a new work of art each time. My favorite ingredients on mine are the tempeh and the miso dressing that I buy at the farmer's market. Find your favorites, mix it up, taste and learn!

Jan 6, 2014

10 Resolutions for the New Year That Aren’t About Your Waistline!

With the new year, most of us planned (or dwelled on) all the things we want to “give up” in order to get the body we want- dessert, alcohol, carbs, late night snacking, etc. 

How many of us thought about our behaviors, relationships, and attachments, rather than drastic diet changes to get happy and healthy? If looking better and feeling happier are part of your goals, consider the non- diet and exercise aspects in getting there. Happy stress free people make good decisions.

Here are some resolutions, which I consider to be very reasonable, enjoyable even (not scary like giving up chocolate!).  In fact, how about we add more of something instead of less.

    1. Read more. Now, while reading tons of articles and blurbs online ultimately makes you wiser, I’m talking about a more therapeutic version of reading—real books (or readers)! It could be an informational book, a memoir, or better yet, a novel-- do not underestimate the benefits of tapping into your imagination and getting lost in a made up story. The idea is to connect to one subject or text rather than a sea of clicking on links. This is more calming and focused than surfing the web. Even as little as five pages each day will give you some fundamental brainpower!

    2. Give more. Volunteering your time is a great way to do this, especially if you’re tight on money. Think about who you enjoy being around- animals, children, elderly, special events- and combine that with your strengths or availability. If you’re available during afternoons, you could tutor at an elementary school. If you never know when you’ll have some spare time, become a volunteer to socialize animals at the local shelter where you can drop in. The time commitment may seem overwhelming at first so treat it like a real part of your schedule. The rewarding feeling is unmatchable.

    3. Cook at home more. I will say that I truly love to wine & dine, but I appreciate it more if I have worked hard all week to feed myself healthily, budgeting my funds and avoiding add-ons to every meal like drinks and dessert! Buying and cooking large batches of everything and having leftovers available is a good way to avoid the urge or need to dine out or stop on the way home to get food. You also won’t want all your groceries to go to waste!

    4. Sympathize more. This will help you to get angry less. Technically, you allow the anger but you choose to not react. Of course there will always be frustrating and unfair people or situations but how you react is your choice. Think of one reason in every situation as to why that may have understandably happened. This always helps me leave the situation peacefully. For example, what if that driver who cut you off is someone’s grandma, you wouldn’t want someone to flip off your grandma if she made a mistake! Sure, it could have been a jerk who always drives like a maniac but you don’t know that. Give people the benefit of the doubt, assume they’re trying their best even if it doesn’t show. For your own sanity if nothing else!

    5. Call friends and family more. Yes, on the phone, not just a text message! Where would you be without those people? Relationships feel more meaningful when you are up to date on each other’s lives. Make that blue tooth your best friend- make use of traffic or road tripping time and catch up with someone. Going for a walk while talking is a double whammy (see #9).

    6. Forgive yourself more. Have you ever eaten two slices of cake and told yourself you will definitely start a juice cleanse on Monday morning, only to realize you are hungry for breakfast Monday morning and no thank you juice cleanse…? Stop making drastic promises! You are setting yourself up for failure and habitually doing this is a vicious cycle. Sometimes I’ll dwell on what seemed like an awkward social interaction I had with someone. Look, its all said and done, just bounce back and move on!

    7. Separate from your phone more. I am so guilty of checking email as I’m walking down the street, as if walking were just too simple a task. Take in the fresh air and your surroundings instead of looking down at that little screen all the time. (Did you hear about the girl who fell into a manhole while texting?!). Leave your phone away from you when you are involved in a task such as dinner at a restaurant, in a meeting or class, or – god forbid- sleeping! 

    8. Be early more. Being habitually late is not a good quality to have. It reflects several other unbecoming qualities- lack of self discipline, organization, and even common sense. Resolve to set your alarm 8 minutes earlier or set your clocks ahead. Think about how good it will feel to comfortably arrive places with enough time to settle in.

    9. Go outside more. Last winter, while feeling a bit restless, I went to a psychic and, while she may have been mostly bogus, she told me that it was my assignment for the next 3 days to walk on the beach with my bare feet in the sand for an hour. The chilly weather had me holing up inside and thinking lots of negative thoughts. So I bundled up and realized I could get warm if I just got moving! The fresh ocean air and gentle exercise was just what I needed. Maybe she could see the future.

    manhattan beach

    10. Waste less! I heard a phrase, “green your habits,” while watching this video about an app that can help you to do so. Doing your part for the environment can give you great purpose when you commit to it. Always keep reusable bags in the car in case you decide to stop at the store on your way home, turn off the water while you brush your teeth, and hey, the less processed foods you eat, the less in your trash!

    Sometimes the only thing standing between you and your best health is your priorities. Resolve to take care of your emotional and spiritual self. Happy people tend to have no battles in their diet. They listen to what their bodies tell them about what and how much they need. Maybe you will drop some pounds or maybe you will realize that you’re beautiful just the way you are. Start from within. 

    Pattabhi Jois quote

    Nov 18, 2013

    BEST Smoothie Ever!

     There is an amazing raw food restaurant in Santa Monica called Euphoria Loves Rawvolution. I'm pretty sure that many raw food restaurants around the country were inspired by and adapt recipes from them.

    I had the best smoothie of my life there!

    At $9 for a small glass though, I knew I had to stop pretending like it was so hard to make at home since I obviously can't afford a habit like that..

    So I finally started buying young Thai coconuts..  Once I hacked open my first at-home coconut, I remembered why I loved being in Thailand so much... that juice is SOO much better than any bottled coconut water. Like x100, really. And you get the coconut meat which is probably the key to this smoothie.

    Anyway, once you track down these 3 ingredients, the process is simple, not to mention fun... (c'mon, hacking open a coconut is cool).

        Spirulina Smoothie     

                - coconut water and meat from young Thai coconut
                - scoop of protein powder- vanilla or chocolate
                - 1-2 tsp of spirulina powder

    *Please be warned, spirulina smells terrible! It's algae. But its packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, plus it excels when paired with protein. I promise once you mix it with the other delicious ingredients, you can unplug your nose.

    *I used Garden of Life protein powder and Stakich spirulina powder, both from amazon (I just got into using Amazon and especially for stuff like this, it's way cheaper)

    *The coconuts are of course available at Whole Foods, but also at Vons and possibly your local store. You'll need a a heavy knife or cleaver to open them, but at $10 on Amazon, its a good investment (and you keep all your fingers). Scrape the meat out with a spoon.

    Here's a video on how to best chop the coconut, good tips even if you've done it before.

    Nov 13, 2013

    5 Natural Products for Your Clearest Skin

    If you walk into any beauty store or dermatologist office, the doctor or specialist will for sure load you up with a multi step routine of topicals, vitamins, lotions, and spot treatments. The bottles will be miniature and adorable and you leave with a regretful dent in your wallet. Then, after weeks of loyally following the regime, you have the exact same amount of acne as before and you have to go to a wedding tomorrow. Sigh. Thank goodness for Photoshop.

    Personally, I had tried everything from using 3-4 topicals a day, to antibiotics, to Accutane, to a series of extremely painful “photofacials…” (the word “facial” is misleading here, one of the most painful things I’ve felt in my life).

    Today, there is close to nothing in my bathroom cabinet and my skin is doing pretty well. Of course, it's not perfect, but I've learned how to keep my skin at its personal *and most natural* best.

    After some experimentation during years of a tight budget and lots of traveling, and through the advice of many yogi friends, I have a simple routine.

    african black soap 

      1. African Black Soap. This is a gentle cleanser used in Africa for centuries to treat skin problems. It seems to do the trick, great for fresh cleanse of the face and body. I don’t use cleanser twice a day as I have in the past as I feel that too much face-washing strips my skin of good oils. A cold splash of water in the morning is a good alternative. 
      tea tree oil

      2. Tea tree oil. I put it right on my face at night. It feels and smells calming and my skin is always better in the morning. Tea tree oil is a natural anti-bacterial and is great for cleaning anything.
      indian healing clay

      3. Indian Healing Clay. This “Aztec Secret” can be used as frequent as you need and is a total rejuvenation. This clay, mixed with a little bit of apple cider vinegar literally makes your face pulse! When you wash the mask off, your skin will look and feel better immediately.

      coconut oil

      4. Coconut oil. If you’re feeling dried out, apply a small amount to moisturize. They always say never put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat!


      5. Sunshine. Put on some sunscreen and get some vitamin D! The sun and fresh air always clears up my skin.

      These products come in large affordable quantities and cover all your bases- PLUS they all have multiple uses! What acne is left after that you may just have to chalk up to genetics and your natural cycle. Stick to a clean diet and eliminate stress and you will be left with your best skin!

      Sep 13, 2013

      What Did I Once Despise and Now Can't Get Enough Of?

      Have you ever noticed that if you hate a food, but eat it enough times, you can eventually like it? Hopefully the idea that it's healthy motivates you to keep trying it. I happen to hate coffee and see no reason to try it over and over cuz then I would have a pricey addiction. As a kid, I barely liked any foods. I lived off of pb&j. I can't even believe how much I enjoy eating almost every food out there these days. It gives me hope that people can always change if they wish to!

      You just have to give something a few tries before you make up your mind. I bet you have some favorite hobby/band/food that you know people might not like at first and you would say, "wait wait just give it another chance, I promise you will love it!" Ha.

      Anyway, here are some things I really used to hate. I really thought I'd never see the day I could enjoy any of it. Not only do I like these things now, I LOVE these things now..

      1. Sushi. I didn't like any form of seafood until last year. I was so missing out.. Don't forget lots of wasabi!

      2. Vinyasa yoga. I used to only like one style of yoga, that is nothing like vinyasa. Finally I opened my mind to it and ended up learning so much.

      3. Swimming in the ocean. I used to be fine to go sun bathe on the sand and not go in. But the salty ocean is so refreshing.

      4. Humidity. Makes my skin better, makes the ocean feel better, makes my muscles feel better, and I can't stand being cold! (obviously thats my next feat..)

      5. Dubstep music. There's something peaceful about it where you can get lost in your head but also focus at the same time..

      Aug 7, 2013

      Hummus: as simple or fancy as you like!

      homemade hummusThe first hummus I ever made was probably the most time consuming, yet delicious way to make hummus. I bought every specific ingredient and soaked and sprouted the chickpeas, thus producing raw hummus.

      Now I have made hummus several times, with raw or cooked chickpeas, dry or canned, and I have added anything from carrots to sweet potatoes, olives and artichoke hears, from red pepper to almonds! Uhhhh.. I wouldn't recommend carrots or almonds.. Let me not forget the great flavor of plain hummus!

      Ha! So just keep in mind you can play with the ingredients depending on what you have and just add things slowly into the food processor until you have a good consistency! Adding slowly also helps keep the oil to a minimum as you see how it slowly blends.

      homemade hummus recipeFor BASIC HUMMUS, all you need is

      - 1-1.5 cups chickpeas (garbonzo beans)
      - 1/3 cup tahini (this is the "butter" of sesame seeds)
      - juice of 1-2 lemons
      - 2 tbsp olive oil
      - 3-5 cloves garlic
      *measurements approximate (because I make it up as I go..)

      blend in a food processor.

      - a couple tbsp miso paste (comes in a small tub at health food stores)
      - spices like dried jalapeno pepper, paprika, cumin..
      - herbs such as dill or cilantro
      - sometimes a couple tbsp water

      - red peppers
      - artichoke hearts
      - olives
      - roasted sweet potato
      - jalapeno
      - choose you own adventure...!
      - HERE is a crazy one


      homemade hummus

      *SECRET STEP - if you want super smooth hummus like at Mediterranean restaurants (you know what I'm talking about!), then you'll have to remove the fiber-y husks. Its a bit time consuming but the smooth texture tastes really nice. You can do it when your done cooking them, straight from the can, or if they're sprouted, throw some boiling water over them and swoosh around for 30 seconds then drain. Place them in a bowl of water (or not) and start popping them between your fingers, this makes the husk/shell come off! Now just do it one hundred times...

      remove husks from chickpeas hummus recipe

      Hummus is a healthy snack, great for vegetable or chip dipping, great in wraps, or dolloped on salads.
      Here are some reasons it's okay to love it and eat it a lot!

      Jul 23, 2013

      Don't Underestimate the Power of Gentle Yoga

      Ok I'm not saying those "gentle" yoga classes secretly burn tons of calories...

      They don't.

      gentle yoga
      But for both exercise-aholics and sedentary people, these yoga classes that are slower and on the gentler side really give you a great time to just breathe deep and go within yourself.

      The fast paced yogas- Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa- get the heart rate up, the body sweating, and muscles toned. Sometimes you get completely lost in the intensity of the practice; a great place to be lost indeed. All the hard work can build up for a deep relaxation  in savasana at the end too.

      A slow class has a lot to offer too though, and I think not enough people take time to change up their routine. What the slow gentle class gives you is a moment to feel what each stretch is doing for your body as you comfortably breathe. Your body and mind are not struggling with fatigue or exhaustion, what comes next, and how deep you can go into a posture.

      A couple years ago, I was in Bali with my mom and we took a Yin yoga class. We were in Ubud and there was no Bikram studio there so I thought sure why not, its about time I tried some style besides Bikram! I was definitely not ready to accept what that class was or appreciate what it had to offer. I was frustrated by the absence of sweat and rigor. There I sat, in a beautiful open air structure in a rice field of an exotic country, breathing with a beautiful energy of people from all over the world, and I was stuck inside the limits of my yoga fixation and what I thought to be right..


      I have come a long way since then, finding my way back to those other yoga classrooms and finally embracing what was there. How beautiful it is that each and every one of these forms of yoga exist. I am so thankful to be guided synergistically (spell check says that isn't a word..?) by all of them. This is the "power" I am talking about.

      The class I took tonight was called Relax and Flow. Yep, it has the word "relax" in the title. Sure the poses are simple enough to do on my own but to just go somewhere and be guided through a simple series is really fun. I felt great after, not necessarily energized but not tired. Just in a good place. The other people in the class included a few young active yogis but also some less able-bodied people who quite possibly get their only movement right there in that room.

      I like to see people making an effort to do things that are good for their mind and spirit, not just their six-pack and their deltoids. Though that is a byproduct thats fine by me, I just hope that people keep an open mind and try something different once in a while! I think you can be pleasantly surprised.

      I can't wait until the next time I'm in Ubud :)

      Bali uluwatu temple