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Archive for the ‘seasonal health’ 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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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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flowers__and__butterfly

In honor of Spring’s Transformational Energy, I wanted to share this excerpt from a book (see credits below) that I found inspirational. Spring is a great time to re-evaluate, clean out and start fresh. Now, you can create and nurture what you want to grow.

Wishing you a beautiful April!

Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
Follow the three R’s: respect for self, respect for others, responsibility for all your actions.
Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
Spend some time alone every day.
Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation of your life.
In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
Be gentle with the earth.
Once a year, go some place you’ve never been before.
Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
Approach love and cooking with the same reckless abandon.

From Life’s Little Instruction Book: 511 Suggestions, Observations, and Reminders On How To Live A Happy And Rewarding Life by H. Jackson Brown, Rutledge Hill Press.

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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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I subscribe to the alumni newsletter sent out by the Institute For Integrative Nutrition, which is where I received my training as a holistic health counselor. This school is quite unique in their approach to health and thriving in life. While most nutrition-based programs focus only on what people eat, IIN teaches about the importance of honoring the whole person. This means considering career, environment, spirituality and our relationships. These are the parts of our lives that feed our souls and give us our light. If you are eating the most pristine diet, but lack joy, love and quality connections with others, most likely your life may feel empty and you will not be truly healthy.
It has been shown that babies who are not touched will get sick and die even if they receive enough food nourishment! This means that although we certainly need to make sure to feed our children and ourselves the best food possible, without vitamin L it may not matter.

Below is an excerpt from the IIN newsletter with some interesting evidence on the importance of love:
“A University of North Carolina study found that hugging lowers blood pressure. The University of Iowa found that cancer patients with satisfying relationships had more white blood cell activity than those with few social connections. A study of Harvard students showed that only 25 percent of those who felt loved by their parents developed a major illness later in life, while more than 90 percent of those who didn’t feel loved developed a major illness.”

So, while it is absolutely important to ask the question of “how do I choose to feed my body?” it appears the question “how to do I choose to feed my spirit and heart?” is equally vital to our wellbeing.
On an early morning walk down to the ocean the other day, I passed a church with a placard out front that read “Welcome. Are you happy?”
How simple, and yet profound! Ask yourself this question, and if the answer is “yes” keep doing what you are doing. If the answer is “no” or “I don’t know”, perhaps it is time to assess what you may need to change to get your “yes”. The road towards change can feel a little uncomfortable, but the rewards are generally great.

So, as we contemplate and enjoy this holiday that is all about love, I invite you to consider and connect with the food that feeds your soul. Resolve to strengthen your primary relationships or create new ones.  Whether you are married, in relationship, living with friends or family, or single, reach out and let them know what they mean to you and make it a point to include this kind of nourishment into your daily life.

Quality connection (vitamin L) is our most potent nutrient!
Love heals all ills!
Share the love and be happy
!

A little mythical animal lore to share:

“Legend says that Hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration.

Like Hummingbirds, we aspire to hover and savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and celebrate the joy of everyday.

The Hummingbirds delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.”

Chocolate Love Dip

1 1/3 cups raw almonds (soak them 6-10 hours for a smoother consistency) or 2/3-cup raw almond butter
1 cup almond milk
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon natural cocoa powder or raw cacao powder *
2/3-cup dates, pitted

Blend nuts, almond milk, vanilla, cocoa powder and dates. Add more milk if necessary. Use as a dipping sauce for fresh strawberries, fruit slices or just your fingers. Serves 10.

For the smoothest, most luscious consistency I recommend the Vita-Mix 5200. Click here for free ground shipping and a 30-day risk free trial.

Optional, but delicious: It has been shown that peppermint has aphrodisiac qualities, especially for women. Try adding one drop (just one!) Young Living peppermint therapeutic grade essential oil to the blender towards the end. Visit http://vibrant-health.younglivingworld.com for info and ordering.

* Click the link below to order top quality raw cacao from Sunfood Nutrition
Organic Raw Chocolate

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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It is officially autumn and change is in the air. This change is not in the light, dynamic way of spring, but in a rooting and grounding sense. This means it is the perfect time to harness the scattered energy of the summer season and to solidify or create supportive and nurturing habits and routines.

Finding Balance

Whereas summer is often about expansion, vacation, activity and outward focus, fall is the time to pull inwards a bit and contract. At this time everything in nature contracts and moves its essence inward and downward: leaves and fruit fall, seeds dry, the sap of trees goes into the roots, and grasses become lighter and drier. While summer is the height of our yearly lifecycle, autumn signals the dying off. It is natural at this time of year to feel a little less social and to have a desire for heavier and warmer meals. By staying mindful of this shift in season and how we may be affected, we can make appropriate choices that will nurture rather than sabotage our efforts towards a balanced and healthy way of life.
In this modern day life, the fall often signals a flurry of activity. Parents and children rush to keep up with the new school schedule, holiday plans begin, and business may pick up after summer vacations. This is indeed all part of the game, just be sure to have a plan about how you intend to feed, care for and generally support yourself.

For Best Results

Here are a few ideas to get you going in setting up a healthy foundation. Take just one idea at a time and commit fully for 2 weeks. In this way you really establish the habit and make that activity or exercise a routine. Then take on another in the same fashion. Remember, slow and steady is the way to a lifetime of healthy habits.

Healing With Sour Foods

The autumn is a time to organize and focus mentally (contract). To facilitate this process of contraction, add more sour foods. These include lemons, limes, grapefruit, raw sauerkraut, olives, pickles, salt plums (umeboshi), apple cider vinegar, yogurt and kefir, rose hip tea, and the sour varieties of apples, plums and grapes. A little bit goes a long way, so don’t get caught in the myth of “if a little is good, then more must be better”.
This is a great time of year to introduce a glass of morning lemon water. An excellent healing tonic all year round, ¼ to ½ of a fresh ripe lemon squeezed into warm or room temperature water assists with elimination and digestion, provides an enlivening burst of vitamin C, and helps alkalize the body.

Moistening Foods

The autumn is a time of dryness, so if you find yourself being prone to excessive thirst, or dryness of skin, nose, lips, or throat, you will want to be sure to include plenty of “moistening” foods. Such foods include spinach, barley, millet, pear, apple, persimmon, loquat, sea vegetables, black and white mushrooms, almonds, pine nuts, sesame seeds, raw dairy products (if tolerated), and eggs. Using a small amount of high quality salt in your food can also help, especially for more a vata (thin, active mind) constitution.

Autumn Cleansing

In Chinese medicine the autumn is the season related to the Metal Element and the lungs. This means it is especially vital to strengthen and protect the lung energy. The yang counterpart to the lungs is the colon, so releasing what is no longer needed in both of these organs is essential at this time of year. Often times our ability to let go physically directly corresponds to the ability to release on the emotional and psychic levels.
Autumn is a prime time to cleanse the colon and to practice mindful breathing. By gently cleansing the lungs and colon 1-2 times per year you can often stave off the usual colds and flu, as well as cancer. Pungent foods such as hot peppers and chilies are excellent at protecting the lungs. White pungents can be especially important to include, as this color specifically affects the lungs. These would include garlic, ginger, turnips, horseradish, cabbage, daikon, and common radish. By consuming these foods raw or slightly cooked, you will maximize their effect.
Dark green and golden-orange vegetables are very helpful in keeping the immune activity bolstered and protecting both the lungs and colon against cancer. The chlorophyll in the green foods is strongly supportive in inhibiting viruses and assisting the lungs in discharging toxic residues. Eat abundant amounts of broccoli, parsley, kale, turnip and mustard greens, watercress, wheat or barley grass, spirulina, blue green algae (see my blog post on E3 Live), and the herbs yerba santa leaf, mullein leaf and nettles. Include the golden-orange vegetables such as carrots, winter squash and pumpkin.
Fiber is a must at any time of year, but especially when the focus is on the colon. Include plenty of whole vegetables and fruits as well as high fiber seeds such as ground flax seed and soaked chia seed.

Enlist Support

It can be a great idea to meet with a qualified health care practitioner who can lead you through a cleanse. As an alternative you may look to purchase an “at home” kit. One word of caution: there are many to choose from and they are not all created equal. Please see my list of recommended wellness products https://devanawellness.wordpress.com/recommended-wellness-products/
Scroll down to the “Cleansing” section for the cleanse products I recommend.

Just Breathe

One of the best ways to cleanse and strengthen the lungs is through deep breathing. Whether you choose to create a formal practice in the morning or evening or just practice while driving or waiting in line at the store, this simple act has tremendous benefit. To learn more about how this type of breathing is done you can visit a yoga class, enlist an instructor for a private lesson or obtain a book on the subject, such as The Yoga of Breath by Richard Rosen (http://astore.amazon.com/devana-20/detail/1570628890/102-4765999-9640923 ).

To really amplify the effects and help bolster the immune system, I suggest trying some of Young Living’s special blends to support lung health. If you invest in one of their new ultrasonic diffusers, you can easily reap the benefits of the oils without the damaging heat of traditional diffusers. My favorite oils for the lungs and sinuses include Raven, R.C., Thieves, Melrose, Exodus II, ravensara, Eucalyptus radiata, and thyme. For more information visit: http://youngliving.us and use member #904207 to order.

Remember to take one step at a time and if this still feels overwhelming, please consider taking my virtual 10-Week Body Transformation Program. It’s a very affordable way to support your journey to a lifetime of feeling and looking amazing!

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