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Archive for the ‘seasonal foods’ Category

spices help warm your smoothie up!

Brrrrr, it’s starting to get chilly out there, which means a vibrant, nutrient-rich smoothie may not sound so good.

But what if you could have all the yumminess,  health benefits AND convenience of a smoothie and not be left shivering and unsatisfied.

Well, allow me to introduce the “winter smoothie”. The winter smoothie uses ingredients that may be a little denser than your light summertime smoothie. The winter smoothie never uses ice, but instead uses spice! The winter smoothie uses secret immune boosters to help keep you sniffle free all season long.

So if you love healthy fast food as much as I do, read on for how you can give your smoothie a winter makeover.

How to winterize  your smoothie is 6 simple steps:

Fatten up. That’s right, adding healthy fats to your smoothie can create  luxurious mouth experience that helps insulate you from winter cold. Winter is not the time for a low fat diet, but it is also not the time to overindulge and feel like a bloated penguin. : ) With good fats like almonds and almond milk, avocado, coconut oil and coconut milk, you will be well on your way to looking and feeling a like winter goddess instead.

Spice is nice. Adding spices to your smoothie adds a whole new dimension of flavor and health benefits. Spices help warm things up, aid in digestion, can boost metabolism, increase immunity and stimulate circulation to give you a winter glow! Try cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, anise, cloves, black pepper, turmeric, cayenne, fennel, coriander and even curry. Keep it simple and experiment a little bit.

Not just for smell. Therapeutic grade essential oils can add an exotic depth to your smoothie. Oils in the citrus family like grapefruit, orange, tangerine and lemon can be especially nice at this time of year because they boost mood and provide concentrated vitamin C and antioxidants to ward off winter colds. Be sure to use ONLY pure, unadulterated oils for internal purposes. Do not buy just any oil. The only brand I work with for internal use is Young Living. To learn more or to order visit youngliving.us and use customer code 904207.

Add heat. When the weather is cold outside it is not a good idea to introduce cold food or drink into the body. It halts digestion (meaning you get digestive issues, low energy and fat storage), can make you spacey and unfocused, and just makes your body have to work that much harder to keep body temperature up. This is one of the many reasons I like the Vita-Mix Blender because it can gently heat whatever your blending when you keep it going for more than 2 minutes. Try a warm almond butter, cacao, almond milk, cinnamon and banana smoothie and you will feel like you are having something decadently naughty for sure!

Skip the dairy. Besides the fact that pasteurized dairy causes mucus, allergies, hormonal imbalance, digestive issues and much more, it is cooling. Instead go for coconut milk, almond milk,  young coconut meat or hemp milk. Add an avocado or soaked almonds or cashew for thick richness.

Think outside of the box. Use some new and different winter ingredients like sweet potato, pumpkin, beets, almond butter and even cabbage. All of these are warming foods, so they support your body in the colder times. The orange veggies provide much needed beta-carotene to help boost immunity. See the Pumpkin Pie smoothie recipe below.

Winter Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 cup peeled, cubed raw sweet potato

1/2 an avocado, peeled and pitted

8 oz. fresh carrot juice

splash (or more) coconut or almond milk

small wedge green cabbage (optional, but you won’t taste it & you’ll get a great nutrient boost)

liquid stevia to taste (try 2 drops to start)

1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

pinch Celtic salt

Put everything but the avocado in the Vita-Mix Blender and blend on high until smooth. With the blender running, drop in the avocado and blend another 30 seconds. Enjoy with a little cinnamon sprinkled on top.

Would you like to sail through the holidays with energy to spare and a slim figure to flaunt at New Year’s? Contact me for a special 20-minute complimentary Holiday Body Bliss Breakthrough Session through Dec. 29th. Just send an email to devana108@gmail.com to schedule this phone session today!

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“Quick. Healthy. Delicious: Fifty Fantastic Recipes to Feed Your Life”

Some of the best learning, growing and magic happens when I am

with clients and students in the kitchen showing them how easy and

delicious healthy meals can be. Unfortunately, it is just not possible

for me to be in everyone’s kitchen in this lifetime.

So, that is where this brand new cookbook comes into the picture – an easy and economical way to have some private cooking coaching no matter where you live.

* Ready to take your taste buds for a ride they won’t forget without spending hours in the kitchen?

* Longing for ways to make healthy and satisfying food for yourself and your family?

* Want to know the secret recipes that allow me to continually wow clients and cooking class students, while being a self-proclaimed “lazy cook”?

* Ready to learn how you can save time and money on your monthly food expenses, while eating like a queen (or king)?

* Would you like to have an easy reference of recipes that you know are good for you, beautifying and even bliss-inducing?

* Looking for a special holiday gift to give a loved one in need of a boost or a health conscious friend?

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This e-book is sure to satisfy all of these needs and so much more.

What’s inside:

  • 50 easy (I mean really simple) recipes that you will want to make again and again. Everything from breakfast to dessert. Recipes include raw foods, “gently” cooked foods and everything in between.
  • Intuitive and flexible kitchen tips – How to tweak any recipe to make it your own, as well as substitutions when you don’t have all the ingredients.
  • Time and money saving secrets that make eating healthy, delicious food a snap!
  • Kitchen tools and special ingredients source guide. Plus resources for buying bulk to save money!

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Here is a “taste” of what you get:

* Easy Overnight Meuslix

* Gluten-Free Blender Waffles

* Savory Sage Pate Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

* Fennel and Bitter Greens with Citrus Vinaigrette

* Ginger Butternut Bisque

* Winter Lentil Soup

* Buttery Baked Salmon

* Creamy Root Vegetable Puree

* Curry Millet Tart with Red Pepper Sauce

* Decadent Chocolate Tart with Coconut Crust

* Flourless Almond Cookies

Try this FREE RECIPE sample here: Roasted Roots with Fennel

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Hmm, sexy foods, quite an intriguing concept really. Foods that are sexy and foods that can make us feel and look sexy are interestingly often one and the same. In honor of the arrival of summer, which is the most playful and sexiest of seasons, I thought I would explore our sexuality through the avenue of food. Sexy foods are nutrient-dense foods, often high in vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Not only will sexy foods feed your hormones, but nutrient dense foods support a healthy weight as well. So the outcome is both looking and feeling sexy.
One note: if you do intend to apply these foods to your diet in the name of sexy, remember that overeating even the best of foods never feels sexy. So, enjoy these items in slow, relaxed and measured doses for best results. Better still; have them fed to you by a significant other. (wink, wink)

Almonds – high in vitamin E and essential fatty acids both of which a vital to sex hormones. Conversely, bad fats are deadening to sexuality. How sexy do you really feel after a double bacon cheeseburger with fries?

Asparagus – Yes, this vegetable is visually suggestive, but its nutritional profile is what gives it high marks. Among many other vitality-giving nutrients, this springtime favorite is very high in vitamin E, thought to be the “sex vitamin”.

Avocado – Besides being richly indulgent, this fruit helps boost both male and female libido. Avocados are also high in folic acid and B6, which help boost sexual energy and regulate hormones respectively.

Banana – Here again we have the visual suggestion, but it is the enzyme bromelain and the B-vitamins, which are especially beneficial to sexual health and energy.

Basil – Who doesn’t love basil? Besides inducing a sense of well-being and lifting mood, basil stimulates circulation, increases fertility and boosts sex drive.

Bee Pollen – In nature, pollen’s role is to fertilize. This super food from the bee world has energy giving properties, is high in B-vitamins and contains all essential amino acids. It is thought to most benefit male sexual health.

Berries – Berries are one of our most potent plant foods. They are lower in sugar than many other fruits and pack a load of nutrition into each tiny package. There is also something very seductive about a deep red, ripe berry. A wonderful food to be slowly savored and shared.

Click here for a delightfully rich chocolate pudding with fresh berries

Cardamom – A common aromatic spice used in Indian cuisine, cardamom helps increase circulation and is viewed by some cultures as a powerful aphrodisiac. Try combining with chocolate and maca for a dip for your berries!

Celery – A seemingly unlikely sexy food, celery helps boost the production of a powerful substance known as androsterone – an odorless hormone released through male perspiration that is attractive to women.

Chilies – Chilies boost circulation, increase sensitivity in nerve endings and contain capsaicin, a substance that triggers the release of feel-good endorphins.

Chocolate – Ahhh, chocolate. Most of us treat this food as a guilty pleasure, but it is really the highly processed, overly sweetened and highly denatured variety we need to be wary of. The minerals in raw chocolate (especially magnesium) provide necessary nutrition and promote a sense of relaxed well-being, while theobromine (a stimulating alkaloid similar to caffeine) gives a heart-centered buzz. Chocolate also helps the brain produce feel-good serotonin. Try raw or at least dark chocolate for best effects. You can get raw chocolate at most natural food stores or click here.

Garlic – Not only will it keep your immune system strong, but garlic also contains high levels of allicin a compound that can improve blood flow to the sexual organs.

Goji Berries – These super berries from Asia are best consumed dried, as that is closest to their original form. They contain all essential amino acids and help boost libido in both men and women by increasing testosterone. Find goji berries at  your natural food store or click here.

Figs – There is really nothing quite like a perfectly ripe, lusciously sweet fig. Figs are another plant food high in amino acids, which is helpful in increasing sexual stamina and libido.

Maca – A lesser-known tuber from Central America, maca is gaining some notoriety as a wonderful adaptogenic and tonic food. It has been shown to increase sperm counts and testosterone in men, while supporting sexual desire in women. Fun stuff, really!

Oysters – Oysters are a classic aphrodisiac, and for good reason: they are phenomenally high in zinc. Low levels of zinc are associated with sexual dysfunction in both men and women, along with a host of other problems. Try these on the half-shell with a side of omega-3 rich caviar and you are well on your way to a sexy meal.

Pumpkin Seeds – The plant world’s answer to the zinc-rich oyster, these delicious seeds are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, critical to sexual and hormonal health. A wonderful regular addition to the diet, as most of us are not indulging in oysters on a regular basis.

Food is something we do every day, multiple times a day, so why not make it fun. Nutrition does not need to be heady and dry, in fact, as we see now it can be down right sexy!

Enjoy your sexy foods in good company.

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sugarsnaps_es3v

Sugar Snap Peas – Nature’s Snappy Candy

Every year around this time, one of my favorite healthy whole food snacks begins to appear in the local farmer’s market – sugar snap peas.

If you have never eaten these little green jewels in an edible shell raw, you are in for a tasty surprise. They are sweet, yet low in sugar.

They’re refreshing, especially when stored in the fridge. They make the perfect dipper or can be eaten as is. And their crisp personality will satisfy the snacker in you.

The best news is they’re fast food! Just wash, drain and toss them in a to-go container. You can pull the tops off and “de-string” them as you eat.

These delicious members of the legume family pack some nutritional punch as well. They contain vitamin K for bone health and blood clotting, B-vitamins including folic acid, and plenty of vitamin C.

Look for ones whose pods are firm, velvety and smooth. Their color should be a lively medium green. Those whose green color is especially light or dark, or those that are yellow, whitish or are speckled with gray, should be avoided.

Enjoy them right on the spot or store in the refrigerator for tomorrow’s feast.

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fruits_vegetablesMany times when we start to incorporate more fresh produce into our diets, there is a learning curve regarding how much to buy and how to store it optimally. No body wants broccoli rotting in a back corner after 5 days!

So, here are some quick and easy tips to maximize freshness and your dollars – less waste.

1) Buy as much as possible from your local farmer’s market where it has been picked that day. The majority of produce from local grocery stores is weeks old when you finally buy it.

2) To extend the life of your produce, store it in Green Bags (Ever Fresh  at http://www.evertfresh.com/ or Debbie Meyer at https://www.greenbags.com/?cid=587724 or www.hsn.com) or use the new E.G.G. (Ethylene Gas Guardian, found at http://www.4theegg.com/).

3) Store as much as possible in your “crisper”.

4) Try wrapping the ends of greens with wet clothes or organic paper towels. This seems to help them last longer and keeps them from wilting.

5) To save time and plastic, take your green bags to the market with you. Then everything is ready to be stored upon arrival.

6)Mushrooms, jicama and Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) should be store in paper bags to prevent them from molding.

7) Tomatoes should be kept at room temperature.

8) Potatoes and onions should be stored in a cool, dark, dry environment. Not in the refrigerator.

9) Avocados should stay at room temperature until they ripen, then refrigerate.

10) Items like apples and oranges can be left out in a basket, but will last longer in the fridge.

11) Berries will do best refriderated in a container that allows some airflow.

12) Asparagus will stay freshest if you put the ends in water and cover them with a bag. Use as soon as possible.

13) Fresh herbs should be used within a few days. To store them longer, try processing in the food processor with a little olive oil. Divide into ice trays, freeze, then store the single portion doses in the freezer in baggies or glass containers.

Now, happy produce shopping!

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Pura Vida

According to Wikipedia:

Pura Vida (POO-rah VEE-dah), used by Costa Ricans since 1956 [1], literally translated means “Pure Life.” Contextually, it means “Full of Life” “Purified life”, “This is living!”, “Going great!” It is used as a greeting, a farewell, and to express satisfaction. The expression was taken from the mexican movie “Pura Vida!”, which came out on February 29th 1956 (director: Gilberto Martínez Solares).

Some foreigners view the phrase as an expression of a leisurely lifestyle, of disregard for time and wanton friendliness. However, Costa Ricans use the phrase to express a philosophy of strong community, perseverance, good spirits, enjoying life slowly, celebrating good fortune, whether small or large.”

My purely Costa Rican experience began with the 2 plus hour taxi to the first destination, Playa Guiones in Nosara. The taxi driver, who spoke decent English, was eager to teach us some Spanish. Our first phrase was “pura vida“.

“When someone asks you how your trip was, say “pura vida””, he smiled. “When they ask you how your day is, say “pura vida”. When you wake up in to the sunrise, “pura vida”. When you watch the sunset over the ocean, “pura vida”.” Well, you get the picture. Pura vida is the way of life, and this way of life rubs off very easily.

We then continued to go over favorite foods – pina, aguacate – and  few lovely poetic phrases, but “pura vida” was what really struck a cord. Ahhh, enjoyment of and savoring of a natural way of being.

So many Costa Ricans (native and transplants) just oozed with genuine love of living and all living things. Environmental concern, fresh organic foods, connecting with nature and community are just part of life there.

The literal translation of pura vida – pure life – is what I look to create. This is not in the monastic sense, but in the sense of living with clarity, sincerity, joy, health and abundance of spirit, all of which leads to manifesting the right people, paths and experiences.

My trip seemed to be blessed with such people, places and experiences from the exhileration of surfing and ziplining to the simple majesty of the sun setting over the ocean. One seemed more inclined to live by the sun. Most of my companions and I were ready to quite by 9pm and ready to rise as the sun did, at 5:30am. And, of course if the sun did not wake you, then the howler monkeys surely would! Their eerie low roar became comforting and something I looked forward to.

On one afternoon I ended up scheduling a massage with a woman who did something called “harmonic healing”. This was a combination of several massage techniques coupled with sound. She began by whispering the words “inner grace” several times, then proceeded to make mesmerizing tonal sounds through out the rest of the session. Such a powerful experience to have the someone really draw you in towards this inner grace.

What I found myself enveloped in was a sense of peace, a joy of life and calm and serenity that I vowed would follow me back to my home in California. I write this to allow each one of you to follow your hearts and pursue your personal pura vida. Better yet, allow it to find you.

Allow kindness to be your default.

Meditate on the beauty that surounds.

Swim in the ocean.

Swing from the trees.

Listen to the animals.

Chant from the mountain tops.

Do something that scares you.

Wake up early to watch the sun’s rays bless us with another day of life on this planet.

Physically or energetically hug your fellow humans.

Talk to the plants.

Tread lightly and give abundantly.

Share your gifts.

Namaste,

Ana

p.s. To savor some deliciously pure creations a la Costa Rica, please see my newest blog Blended Bliss.

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springtime1

With just a week to go until we reach the spring equinox, the air seems to be filled with a sort of pent up anticipation for what the sights, scents and longer days of spring will deliver. You may notice that awkward phase of lingering winter stagnation mixed with boyant spring lightness. You may be feeling ready to shed some layers, be they physical, emotional or mental. As always, I invite you to set big goals, but remember to take small steps in working towards health, balance and feeling your best.

I am currently on the east coast visiting family and spending considerable time with my stepfather who has just had a stroke. He is certainly recovering with aggressive therapy, but the road will be long and full of hard work. He will get there by taking one step at a time. For me this has been teaching (or reminding) me of both the preciousness of self-care to maintain personal health, and the importance of taking one step at a time even when goals may seem too large to be real.  It is so important to see that grand vision, but stay present with today’s action steps.

I am, of course, a huge believer in prevention. In feeding our bodies fresh, delicious foods appropriate for each individual; moving our bodies as they were intended to move; and just generally being proactive in creating a life that feeds and nourishes in every aspect. We are not here to be lived by life, but to live our lives to the fullest. This includes diving to the darkest depths and rising to the highest highs, and then beginning to find our middle ground where the pendulum begins to swing less extremely.

Spring has traditionally signaled a natural urge to cleanse or purge. Perhaps we clean house, clean our bodies, or feel compelled to make a fresh start in other ways. With the Devana Spring Cleanse Workshop coming up in just a few weeks, I thought it could be nice to offer some small steps to begin moving in the direction of the larger goal. Below are some ideas to begin to infuse a little detox into each day without being too overwhelming. I hope you can all join us for this year’s cleanse whether you come in person or participate online.

Daily Detox
1.    Choose organic. Choosing organic as much as possible is a sure fire way to minimize exposure to the many toxic chemicals that can be used in conventional farming. The higher nutrient content that is in organic produce also assists the body more effectively in its daily detoxification processes. Now sometimes organic just is not available, which means simply staying informed and getting a little savvy. Perhaps you can buy locally grown without pesticides. Or if you do buy conventional, be sure to stay away from these 12 most pesticide laden vegetables and fruits: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes, pears, spinach and potatoes.
2.    Get your greens! Dark leafy greens are loaded with cleansing antioxidants and toxic cleaning chlorophyll. Cruciferous vegetables stimulate the production of the detox enzyme glutathione-s-tansferases (GST), which binds to heavy metals, solvents, and pesticides, and eliminates them through stool. If getting these in daily still proves a challenge, try incorporating a green food supplement like Greens First (http://GreensFirst.com/4550). Although not a replacement for the real deal, it is loaded with beneficial antioxidants, vitamins and minerals making it a wonderful “food-based supplement” that can benefit even those eating their greens.
3.    Pre-digest” your food. Our bodies work hard to break down the foods that we introduce into our systems day in and day out. When we blend or juice our food, these processes help break down the nutrients to make them more available. The result is more energy for other things! Remember though, that you should still chew even this liquefied food so that your digestive system understands this is food, not drink. (For a great offer on a Vita-Mix 5200 see my recommended products page.)
4.    Nourish your liver. In Chinese medicine, the liver gets the focus in the springtime, meaning we need to give this hard-working organ extra attention and care at this time. There are certain food and herbs that can be used to gently and effectively cleanse and boost the liver. Foods and herbs to try include: Artichoke and artichoke leaf herb, dandelion root and leaf, green tea (as a beverage or supplement), milk thistle seed, and turmeric root.
5.    Cleansing morning beverage. A simple ritual to try is 6-8 oz. lemon water in the morning. You can have it warm or room temperature. With stevia or straight. Lemon water in the morning gently stimulates digestion and elimination and helps alkalize the body. Be sure to rinse or brush your teeth after, because it can be a little acidic on tooth enamel.

These are just a sampling of easy and proactive ways to support you body in what it wants and needs to do. Remember to set your goals, get support, then step one foot in front of the other.

Blessings and Love!

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