Posts tagged with health:
My family has always gathered at Christmas time, no matter what the weather; outside or in our hearts. We’re an interesting crew to say the least, having changed a lot over the years and though our eclectic attitudes may clash loudly at times, we always come back to that big wooden table to laugh it out and celebrate the season.
My family is very supportive of my dietary and lifestyle choices and they do extremely well at accommodating me and encouraging me to share with them my thoughts, ideas and recipes too! Especially now that they’ve witnessed the results unfolding in and around me on this crazy "healthy food kick". As a lot of my readers will know, I really believe that special occasions and holidays are the PERFECT opportunities for sharing healthy and clean food with friends and family! But I think there’s a lot to be said for healthy gift-giving mindset too!
Far too many of us get into a stressful whirl of shopping and budgeting that we forget what the season really is all about. Depending on your beliefs you might have specifics that differ from me or the next guy, but when you get down to the real nitty-gritty of it, under the packaging, decorating and frosting of it all, the real reason for the season is just simply: love. Gathering together with family and friends; giving, receiving and acknowledging the love that connects us.
Here are a few alternative holiday gift-giving ideas that can help us get back to the root of what Christmas is all about; so you can spend more time with your loved ones and less time in the malls!
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty! A lot of people have hidden talents that even they might not immediately be aware of. If you stop and think about it for a minute, I bet you can think of at least two or three things that you’re really good at! If you get a little creative you can come up with all sorts of innovative ways to share your gifts with others over the holidays!
- If you’ve got a skill for web design, does a friend need help with their business?
- Can you crochet, knit, sew and/or stitch? I bet there’s a friend or family member who would seriously LOVE handmade warm mittens, a scarf or socks this season - my father’s face still lights up every time he gets a pair for Christmas!
- Handy in the kitchen? Try out some new recipes and find some cute box or bag to keep them in - people are always grateful for tasty treats this time of year.
- If you know your way up and down the piano keys or guitar strings, why not write a song to commemorate the occasion? Something funny about the family? Or a love-song for a sweetheart? There’s something about music that brings people together! Perfect for the holidays!
For more DIY inspiration check out www.instructables.com, especially their ‘Homemade Gifts' section. You can also look on handmade websites like my personal favorite: www.etsy.com for unique hand-crafted items AND you can use the ‘Shop Local' option to find sellers near you to keep the love close to home!
Experience vs Gifts
A great way to steer the focus away from senseless spending and back onto each other is to share memories! Instead of necessarily exchanging a bunch of gifts this year, you could ask your partner, friend or family if they’d want to go for a sleigh ride, a hiking trip, visit an animal sanctuary, or if you really want to be traditional: go caroling! There are so many ways to show you care that don’t have to be quite so material.
- Fill a photo album with a series of photos that tell a story and maybe write captions below. Parents and grandparents love gifts like this - especially if you can get children or pets involved, it really ups the cute-ness effect!
- Create a coupon book full of IOU’s and freebies that the receiver may exchange for various acts of kindness, favors or outings. This makes a great gift for lovers and spouses; we all know everyone could use a ‘get out of jail free’ card every now and again! ;) Use things that your partner might not expect: coupons for date nights, we-time or ‘Dishes Cleaned - No Questions Asked' usually get a positive response.
- Use money that might otherwise be spend on gifts and decorations to take a family trip or weekend away. Visit some relatives, friends, or just escape to the country for a few days!
Give To Others
Giving to others who might be less fortunate than we care can be so rewarding! Find ways in your area to help out where it’s needed or even make small gestures in your social community that help each other out.
- Donate your time and/or finances to a charity or organization of your choice.
- Ask a lonely friend over for your festive celebrations, make someone feel welcome and appreciated.
- Shovel snow for your elderly neighbors.
- Showcase your musical or theatrical talents at the local retirement home or hospital.
- Adopt an animal from your local shelter to save a life.
- Donate your blood to save more.
- Sponsor an animal or endangered species, or organization that preserves our natural lakes and parks.
Even just small acts of kindness; the simplest thing like re-connecting with an old friend over Facebook and wishing them the best in the new year can be enough to put a spark in someone’s day. And that little gesture, however so small, is a gift that truly keeps on giving. <3
Other Ways To Simplify The Season:
1. When it comes to home decor and lighting, go for the minimalist approach. Choose natural trimmings, like clippings from local evergreens and holly bushes. Use candles and incense scents like: pine, frankincense, myrrh, cedar, mug-wort, rosemary and lemongrass to create a cozy and festive atmosphere.
2. Cut back on paper by using alternative gift wrap and DIY Greeting Cards. Wrap gifts in reused paper and bags, newspaper comics (kids can color them in), old maps, or other used paper. Reuse magazine photos, old postcards and past holiday cards to make new ones!
3. Prepare and enjoy sustainably made meals. Use as many seasonal, locally grown and organic foods as possible.
However you choose to spend your holiday season, I wish you lots of love from my heart to yours! <3 Let me know what alternative Christmas ideas you’re getting into this year to keep the spirit in season! :)
These days when you mention the word ‘salad’ most people think of the classics; Greek, Caesar and
(God-forbid) Garden. These boring and lack-luster displays of GMO greenery are not only aesthetically deficient, they’re in desperate need of some nutrient variety! Cucumbers, tomatoes and ice-burg lettuce is just not how I roll when it comes to getting my greens in. Tonight I threw together what I would say is a solid salad. It doesn’t involve anything too complex or detailed, but it offers more flavor and variety than your usual side dish.
As always there’s plenty of wiggle room with the recipe and I invite you to play around with the ingredients and figure out what you like best! For example, I know a lot of folks don’t like grapefruit (I absolutely HATED it until just a few months ago) so feel free to swap it out for a preferred citrus fruit such as oranges, clementines, tangerines, blood oranges, tangelo etc.
- 1 chopped apple
- 1 grapefruit, cut into 8ths
- 1 cup of dehydrated apple slices
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup of red grapes
- 1 cup of celery greens
- 4 cups of mixed organic greens; spinach, arugula, romaine, red leaf etc.
For the dried apple slices, I pulled out my mom’s old dehydrator; an rustic looking thing with 5 round trays and two settings - on and off. No idea what temperature it may or may not reach. I just chopped up a few granny smith apples and left the slices in the trays for about 8 hours or so rotating the trays twice. Dehydrating is a great way to preserve tasty fruit for the colder months when it might not be available in your area; mangoes for example are one of my favorite dried fruits!
And yes you can eat your celery greens! The leaves are packed with five times more magnesium and calcium than the stalks! They’re also a rich source of vitamin C and potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. I like to mix them up with some parsley usually, but tonight I was fresh out.
For a dressing you can do as you wish, though this time I blended up:
- 1 small chunk of grapefruit
- 1 cup of grapes
- a few raspberries
- 1 medjool date, pitted
And the end result was a chunky fruit concoction that really hit the spot! I love it when my dinner tastes like desert! Haha! If you try this recipe out let me know what you think! Thanks for reading! Here’s to never having to eat another ‘garden salad’ again! ;) <3
The snow has arrived here in Ontario and with it the chilly weather and winter woes! If you’re new to a raw vegan or high-raw foods diet, you might want to consider the following when prepping food over the next few weeks or months! In a less than tropical environment, there can be many challenges when it comes to eating clean, so here are a few tips that have helped me cope with Old Man Winter in Canada! :)
1. Eat More Food - Generally speaking in colder climates you’re going to need more calories. It’s different for each individual but I find even an extra 100 or 200 calories early on in the day can make a big difference! Focus on eating lots calorie dense fruits like bananas and dates in unlimited amounts.
2. Stay Warm - Protect your skin from the chilly weather and bundle up! Find some cozy socks and that old sweater grandma knit (tis the season after all) and learn to love the layered look! Check out donation stores and thrift shops for cheap winter wear.
3. Get Moving - Even though, like me, when you see the snow your first instinct might be to crawl up into a ball and hibernate for the next six months, you gotta get your body moving! Getting the blood pumping is an excellent way to warm your body up! If you’re a cardio lover, the winter can actually be a beautiful and magical time of year for running - if you’re prepared. Invest in some warm running gear and possibly some attachable ice cleats if you enjoy the trails. Keep your hands and your head warm and don’t neglect your hydration just because it’s cold.
4. Have a Back Up Plan - If you find it hard to eat enough raw foods during the day in the colder months, there’s no shame in having some potatoes, rice or cooked veggies to help get more calories in and warm you up - especially if you’re new to this lifestyle! Keep it low fat and low sodium and you’ll be set! The winter is also a great time of introspection and reflection, and you might find it beneficial to keep a journal (if you don’t already) of your thoughts and feelings as they relate to your food habits - this is also a great tool for seeing ‘what went wrong’ on days where you don’t eat enough fruits and veggies!
5. Eat Warming Foods - Stock up on warming foods like cayenne pepper and ginger. Enjoy hot beverages like decaffeinated herbal teas or even just warm water with lemon can be wonderful ways to heat up from the inside out! If you have a juicer, toss in a nub of ginger for your next recipe and see if it brings a sweat on. ;)
I made this really delicious raw pasta dish over the weekend! My boyfriend and I took a somewhat impromptu vacay up to the lake again on Thursday and it just so happened that my phone decided to die that day as well - so I have literally been disconnected from the world for a few days. My apologies for the late email replies/fb messages over the next few days, but nature called my name and I just had to answer. I got a little creative in the wilderness and came up with this bad boy of a meal one afternoon.
Don’t you just LOVE the bright pink/transparent bowl? That’s what you get when at the family cottage; old used plates and cutlery that nobody really wants anymore, for obvious reasons. Pretty groovy, eh? ;)
The ‘recipe’ was very basic, just using up the ingredients we had, but it still turned out so colorful and flavorful! We were both impressed by how hearty and satisfying it was. Not to mention nutritious!
- 2 zucchini’s, spiralized
- onion, diced
- red and yellow bell peppers, sliced
- handful of cherry tomatoes
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- handful of basil
- sprig of fresh mint & dill
- mixed greens, thinly chopped
- 2 green onions, diced
Throw it all in a big ugly bowl and you’ve got yourself a meal! ;) Even for the person in your life who HATES salads, this one will satisfy their crunch and flavor needs and sneak in a load of vitamins and minerals! Alternatively, you can toss on some organic tomato sauce, store bought or (preferably) homemade, and make this pasta-salad a mega-meal! Either way, just grab a fork and enjoy! :)
The single best piece of advice I could give anyone, no matter where they are in their health or fitness journey, no matter what kind of background they might come from, or where they’re at now… If you start acting like the person you want to be, you will be.
If you want to be a healthy, fit, happy and vibrant person? Then do it. Be active. Eat clean. Learn about food and nutrition. Pay attention to your body. Mimic the qualities in others that you desire. Follow their lead.
If something speaks to you and resonates with you on a deeper level, you should take it as a sign. Listen to your inner voice and let it indicate to you what paths to take and which to ignore. If something is truly in line with your goals and priorities, then you will know. Whether you choose to listen to it or not is up to you. What do you want for your life? Are you every-day actions pushing you closer to those goals or keeping you from them?
Our choices become our reality. Be aware of your decisions and if you want something for yourself, you really need to know that it’s there if you want it. If you work for it. If you make it your reality. It’s already done if you’ve made the choice to do so. :) <3
"To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear." - Buddha
A lot of people ask me how I started eating a high-raw, plant-based diet and the truth is - I am not an over-night convert. I took the very slow and very unsteady approach. I didn’t make any drastic changes because my health was never that drastically poor. I think a lot of people are on the same page when it comes to to their health and fitness; it’s difficult to become fully inspired and self-motivated to make the changes to your diet and lifestyle when you can’t really recognize that anything’s wrong.
The one thing that I began to do that really changed my attitude towards food and health was keeping note of the various physical and emotional connections I was experiencing when I ate poorly - junk food, animal products, heavy fats etc… The phrase, "when you eat shit, you feel like shit" rings astoundingly true.The simple act observing my own behavior caused me to become aware of my ability to control my mood and clarity of thought, peace of mind, physical strength and appearance. It was that sort of freedom that then inspired me to make more positive food and fitness choices, not because I was forcing or guilting myself to do them, but because I knew they caused me to feel good, to feel happiness - and every person wants to be happy, it’s natural - I just needed to re-learn what foods make me feel truly blissed out!
Begin to notice how your food choices affect:
- The quality of your sleep - Note times awakened depth of sleep, dreams, thoughts and ease of falling to sleep.
- How you feel when you wake up - Note how rested you feel, your bodys aches or stiff joints, stuffed or runny nose, energy level, emotions, attitude, how your face looks (puffy, eyes, skin clarity etc.)
- How you feel the rest of the day - Physically: energy levels, areas of discomfort, cold hands/feet, allergies, etc. Mentally: alertness, clairty of thought, etc. Emotionally: out of control feelings, connection to others, self-views etc.
- Bowel Movements - Let’s be honest, your shit is important and directly related to your health. If your having painful or lengthy BMs, then your diet is probably in need of a tune up. Note the time, frequency, quality and ease of elimination.
- How you feel relative to each meal - Note your level of hunger, enjoyment of the meal, any emotions before, during or after, energy level before and after (it shouldn’t drop), satisfaction, fatigue etc.
For me, it was (and still is) a slow, day by day journey. In my experience, awareness is something you grow and nurture. It started with me eating more fruits and veggies, and less cheese and oil and now I’ve lost 50 lbs, rid myself of asthma, gained confidence, clarity and peace of mind with a cruelty-free diet and I’m loving where I’m at.
I recommend keeping a log like the one above, or even just mental notes throughout the day and I promise you’ll start seeing connections and feeling the urge to make better choices. I really believe that every meal is an opportunity for change! :)