Your Breath

ALisa Starkweather

No, this isn’t a blog about all natural mints or mouthwash. 🙂
At the Herbal Conference we were lucky enough to have taken ALisa Starkweather’s workshop, Optimizing Our Health in the Time of Toxicity. When we read the title we were a bit nervous it might be a little depressing, talking about the toxic exposure we’re subject to daily, but to our delight this was not the case…we were in for a real treat. ALisa was one of the most inspiring speakers we’ve ever seen. She said a lot of amazing things but one of my favorite things she said was “The depth of your breath reflects the depth of your life.” So, what does this mean? It means that when our breath is short and shallow, we’re not living life to the fullest, we’re holding back; we’re not taking a lot in and we’re not letting a lot go. When our breath is deep, we’re taking life in at it’s fullest, and we’re letting go of things fully as well. A deep breath is a healthy breath.

Observe your breath, take note of when it’s shallow or deep. Notice what’s going on in the moments of short breaths vs. long breaths. Most likely the short breaths come during times of tension and stress while the longer breaths arrive during times of relaxation and relief.

Find time in your day to make sure to take a few long, deep, luxurious breaths. Before bed is a great time to do this, it will help you ease into a restful night of sleep. Like everything, cultivating a deep breath takes work. Here’s a technique called the 478 breath that we learned at Integrative Nutrition from Dr. Andrew Weil:

  1. Breathe in through your nose for 4 count
  2. Hold the breath in for 7 count
  3. Let go of the breath through the mouth for 8 count

He suggests doing this 2 times a day, once in the morning and once at night. He also recommends only doing 4 breath cycles at a time to start. What’s great is that this can be done anywhere, anytime.

As they say in Yoga, Breath is Life. What type of life would you like your breath to reflect?

with love and deep breaths,

Jackie

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Stress Management and Perception

We’re just back from the New England Women’s Herbal Conference where we spent the weekend being inspired by kind and powerful women, nature’s beauty that abounded around us and the pure energy from such a lovely and unique gathering. We learned a lot, which we look forward to sharing with you here! As summer comes to an end and the ‘back to school’ mindset of fall approaches, we think it’s fitting to start off with some of our learning’s from Mimi Hernandez’s workshop Stress, Adaptogens and the Power of Perception.

We all know that stress can wear you down; when you’re going through a stressful time all of a sudden you’ll get sick or maybe a skin condition you have will flare up or you’ll have trouble sleeping; these are all effects of stress on your body. When our body is telling us that something is wrong, we need to be sure to listen. As Mimi said, “When you’re stressed, anything in the body that can inflame, will inflame.” Learning how to handle stress is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. Mimi shared some great tips on what to incorporate more of in your life in order to help balance and manage stress:

  • Include more joy and playtime (ex. dance for 10 minutes a day, create something with your hands)
  • Laugh more
  • Seek out support and social interaction
  • Find time for relaxation
  • Exercise
  • Connect with your spirituality
  • Spend time in nature

It seems that if we can find time for more fun, reflection and connection, we’ll be able to better handle stress.

She also pointed out that by changing your perception of life’s challenge’s and daily stresses you can help your body to process it in a more positive way. Keeping a journal is a great way to do this; you’re able to get your feelings out and pinpoint what your biggest stresses are. Once you’re armed with that information you can start to chip away at those stresses and ask yourself: what can i do to alleviate myself of this stress? how can I re-frame this so that it has less of a negative impact on my thoughts and life? Overall, you’re looking to do a self-evaluation on how you can shift that stressful,negative thinking to a more positive tone.

We often know these things but it’s easy to forget them in the hustle and bustle of our every day; Mimi’s workshop was a nice reminder that making sure to listen to your body, re-frame the negatives to positives and find stress relieving outlets is the best way to stay strong, healthy, happy and inspired!

with love and playfulness,

Jackie

Being Prepared

When you start to clean up your diet, your body gradually starts to crave foods that are nourishing and good for it. As you learn what foods agree with you and which don’t, it becomes easier to shop and prepare foods for yourself based on that knowledge. But what happens when you’re on vacation? Or traveling for work? Or going to a cocktail party or dinner that you know won’t have many things you’ll want to eat? This is when people tend to ‘slip’; they don’t have healthy foods at easy access so feel that there is no choice but to eat what is easiest and in front of them. We’ve learned that there’s only one remedy for this:Being Prepared. 

The situation that’s best to avoid is to wait until you’re so hungry that you’ll eat just about anything. Bringing snacks along with you is the best deterrent for this. If you keep yourself satiated then you’ll be less likely to make a bad decision. I’ve been in situations where I’d either go hungry because I didn’t want to eat what was available or eat something that I really preferred not to (both of theses situations are definitely not ideal!). I learned that always having snacks with me is the best way to make sure I’m getting proper nutrition while also buying some time until I can have food that makes me feel my best. The snacks below are easy to bring with you anywhere and are a great way to fuel your body when you’re in between meals or need to wait until you can find a good one!

Fruit: Any fruit will do–banana’s,oranges, apples; dried fruit such as raisins and apricots are great as well.

Nuts: Raw nuts, such as raw cashews or almonds.

Sandwiches: Almond or Peanut butter (make sure to buy the organic, natural brands) and raw honey sandwiches on your bread of choice, we like Ezekiel bread .

Snack bars: So many snack bars out there make healthy claims that are simply not true. You must look at the ingredient list to really know what’s going on. My rule is to stick with snack bars that have few ingredients, all ones that I can recognize. I love these Go Raw bars; they’re delightfully dense so they really help to hold you over. Lara Bars are another go to for me — these bars all boast between 2-9 ingredients.

Veggies: carrot sticks, celery sticks, pepper sticks are all great choices.

So next time you’re heading on a plane, a long road trip, or have a slamming day of meetings at work, try to stock up and bring some energizing and nourishing snacks along, you’ll see…it really makes a difference!

love and snacks,

Jackie

DandeLion Smoothie

If you have been keeping up with our blog thus far, you know that here, at Crafted Wellness,  we are big fans of green smoothies.  So you can imagine how excited we get over new recipes and new ingredients.

Last week, I experimented with dandelion greens and LOVED the results so much I needed to share them with you!  The name alone makes me want to ROAR!!  DandeLION!!  Talk about a strong word!  And the greens are just as bad-ass…

You are probably familiar with dandelions…  They are the yellow flowers that pop up during springtime, and later turn to seed, which transforms them into those gray, fluffy looking flowers that you can blow on and watch as the floating seeds disperse in the air.  The edible dandelion greens are the long, green leaves that surround these ever-changing flowers.

DandeLION greens

Dandelion greens are pretty awesome… They are loaded with calcium and iron, and are known for their liver cleansing qualities.  Dandelion is used medicinally to support the health of the liver, which is the body’s master detoxifier and cleanses our system of environmental and metabolic wastes.  Because the liver also regulates hormone activity, most hormonal imbalances are treated with dandelion, including PMS, menopausal problems, erratic mood swings, and reproductive issues.  Ayurveda traditions focus on dandelion in the spring to cleanse the body of all of the mucous from the winter hibernation.

Dandelion greens are slightly bitter in flavor, so using sweet tasting fruit along with the greens will help to mask their natural bitterness.

Parsley is another great ingredient to include in your green smoothies, and it’s not only because of its fun flavor…  Like dandelion greens, parsley is known for its cleansing properties, but instead of the liver, parsley focuses its detoxifying energy on the kidneys.  It flushes the toxins out of the kidneys, which helps to prevent kidney stones and improves kidney ailments.  It is included in both smoothie recipes below to add an extra kick of cleansing that does our bodies good!

Ok.  Lets get our awesome green smoothie cleansing on:

Citrus DandeLION Smoothie:

1 cup almond milk

2 handfuls of dandelion greens, bottom of the stems removed

2 handfuls of chopped romaine lettuce

1 grapefruit, peeled and segmented

½ cup fresh parsley

½ cup frozen pineapple

½ cup frozen mango

DandeLION and Cucumber Love Smoothie

1 cup water

2 handfuls dandelion greens

1 fresh mango, pitted and skin removed

½ cucumber, peeled

juice from ½ a lemon

½ cup parsley

Now get blending!!  And let me know what you think!

with love and greens,

Amanda

Turning Defeat into Power

Yesterday morning, I ventured out to my garden to check on a squash plant that I had recently replanted, so it has needed some extra care and attention.  The leaves had been drooping, the buds small, and I have been nervous about its survival over the past week.  This morning was a little different then other mornings.  Yes, the plant had continued sprouting new growth, but the newer, larger leaves had been eaten off… Oh no!

I quickly glanced around to realize that everything had been trimmed and eaten.  Somehow, a deer (or few) must have gotten in and enjoyed everything I have been working so hard on.  My strawberry plants were gone.  Half eaten red and green tomatoes lay around in the dirt.  My cucumber plants no longer had leaves, and the runner beans with the beautiful red flowers had been chomped down to 1/3 of their size.

A tomato with the perfect bite mark.

Ok, deep breathes.

What can be salvaged here?  This being my first season gardening, I am uncertain of what the possibility is of regrowth and survival.

Then, I cried.  I thought about all of the sunny mornings I had spent out here weeding, watering, pruning, and speaking to these plants as if they were my babies; so proud of them for growing so big and strong, and really looking forward to the days where I would be able to enjoy their fruits.  I wept for the missing leaves, the wasted tomatoes, and for the exploitation I felt that these plants had experienced.

Time to regroup.  Enter inner voice:

“This is out of my control.  There is nothing I can do to fix it, no one to blame, and nothing I can do to change the course that the universe has given my garden.”

A small sense of relief kicks in.

I began to poke around, removing some damaged branches from the tomato plants, re-adjusting some cucumber stems, and suddenly I get this “ah-ha” moment.  I realized that there is still life in these little green babies.  They are not dead.  They are very much alive.  They are probably sensing my thoughts of defeat, which not the kind of example that I want to be setting for them.

I watered the plants.  I talked to them.  I removed all of the half-eaten tomatoes and offered them back to the earth in my compost pile.  I hoped for the small, green tomatoes to grow into juicy red ones.  I buried a few more bean seeds in the ground wondering if they will grow.  I was beginning to trust this process.

Now, sitting in my garden and looking back to that morning, I realize that we are faced with feelings of defeat and sadness all of the time, but we can’t forget about the power that we still have in these moments.  This power lies in how we choose to move forward from these experiences.  Of course, I am upset about my garden, but knowing that there is nothing I can do about it only empowers me to acknowledge what I can do; I can continue to care for it, to watch it grow, and take this moment as part of my first gardening experience.

Moving forward, I am able to use this lesson in others areas of my life.  When I begin to experience the feelings of failure or defeat, I will think of the blunt stems and bare plants that surround me at this very moment.  I will know that it is all part of my journey, and I will move forward with trust and good intentions.

Have you had a moment similar to this?  A moment that had left you feeling defeated but you managed to overcome?  Can you use that moment for facing future challenges?

Yes, you can.

with love and empowerment,

Amanda

Water: An Essential Nutrient

Most of us are aware of the importance of drinking enough water. But, people often neglect to drink it throughout the day. Getting our daily dose of water helps our organs perform their proper functions, keeps our skin clear and hydrated, and allows physical action in our bodies to flow smoothly. Even with this knowledge, it can still be challenging to drink all the water our bodies deserve daily. Those who are not drinking enough may experience poor digestion, sluggish thinking, skin breakouts, headaches, bad breath and general fatigue.

To start your day right, set a large glass of water by your bed each night and drink it when you wake up. Drinking water first thing in the morning pulls out toxins from the previous day and freshens your system for the day ahead. Keep a bottle of water accessible throughout the day, whether you are on the go or at a desk. Having a bottle of water close by will remind you to take a sip when thirsty. The first sip will usually let you know how much more water you need. A sip or two may be enough, or you may need a big glass. If you drink most of your daily water before early evening, you most likely will not be thirsty before bed. This is good, because drinking before bed and then waking to use the bathroom disturbs your peaceful night’s sleep.

What about quality? Some people like bottled water, while others prefer filtered water. The key is to like the taste of the water you are drinking, and the water should agree with your body. If the taste of plain water is unappealing, experiment to see how you can make it tasty and drinkable. Try adding a few mint leaves, a wedge of lemon, a sprig of parsley, slices of cucumber, a twist of lime or a squeeze of orange to make water more tempting, or to switch up your routine. Also, drinking tea or juice and eating raw fruits and vegetables contribute to the hydration process. Go grab a glass now!

Guilt-free Chocolate Pudding

What an amazing dessert this is!  It is easy to make, stores great in the fridge, and doesn’t contain any of the harmful chemicals, sugars, or preservatives that store bought chocolate pudding contains.  And as an added bonus, it is actually HEALTHY for you!

Chocolate pudding topped with fresh blueberries and hemp seeds. Yum!

What you will need:

1 ripe avocado

3 tablespoons raw cacao powder

5 mejool dates, pitted and soaked (if they need to be softened)

1 teaspoon of 100% organic maple syrup

¾ cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy and smooth.  You may need to scrape the sides during the blending process to ensure everything is mixed evenly.

Place the pudding in a bowl and store in the fridge for a few hours so it can chill and set.

Top the pudding with your favorite ingredients, such as:

Berries

Hemp seeds

Unsweetened coconut flakes

Chopped nuts

Fresh mint

Sliced banana

Cinnamon

Maca Powder

Carob chips

Raw Cacao is jam-packed with antioxidants, and is one of the worlds best sources of magnesium and iron, which play a critical role in healthy blood, heart health, brain power and strong bones.  This superfood also contains Phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the chemical that our bodies produce when we fall in love! (Probably why we all love chocolate so much).  Its scientific name, Theobroma cacao translates to “cacao, food of the gods”.  I mean, are you in love with this stuff yet?? I know I am!!  And remember, this is dessert!

I hope that you enjoy this pudding as much as I do; actually, I know that you will.

with love and chocolate,

Amanda

Spaghetti Squash Pasta

Everyone loves traditional pasta.  Unfortunately, traditional, durum wheat pasta doesn’t love all of us.  It can cause us bloating from digestive issues, aggravate certain food allergies, and cause a spike in blood sugar, which can lead to unbalanced moods and more cravings later on.

I don’t mean to give pasta a bad wrap; personally, I love it as much as the next person.  However, there are some great alternatives out there to try, one of my favorites being spaghetti squash.

Spaghetti squash topped with  marinara sauce.

Spaghetti squash gets its name from its resemblance to spaghetti.  When baked, the inner flesh of the squash pulls out in long strands, making it a great spaghetti alternative.

Once the squash is baked, and the “spaghetti” is removed from its shell, you can treat it like you would any other pasta, topping it with red sauce, drizzling it with olive oil and lemon juice, use your favorite veggies to create a  primavera style dish, or simply add some salt, pepper and blend of your favorite herbs.

What you will need:

The squash after the seeds and pulp have been removed.

1 spaghetti squash

olive oil

salt and pepper

your favorite pasta sauce or seasoning

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees

Cut the squash lengthwise, and use a spoon to scoop out all of the seeds and pulp.

Lightly coat the squash in olive oil, salt and peper.

Using parchment paper to cover your baking sheet, place the squash cut side down, and bake for about 30 minutes (or until a fork can be easily inserted into the flesh of the squash).

When the squash is done baking, set it aside until it is cool  enough to be handled.

Turning the squash into spaghetti.

In the meantime, prepare your sauce.  In this case, I made a simple red sauce out of canned tomatoes, fresh garlic, olive oil, fresh basil, salt and pepper.

When ready, use a fork to break apart the squash and watch as it pulls apart in long strands. *note: if this is your first time making spaghetti squash, get ready to say “oh my god, I can’t believe this” a few times 🙂

Place it in a dish, and top it off with your choice of sauce or seasoning.

Not only is spaghetti squash a pretty rockstar pasta substitute, but it also offers our bodies a healthy dose of vitamin C and calcium, a ton of fiber, along with a slew of other essential vitamins and minerals.  So dust off your favorite pasta recipe and get cooking!  And let me know what you think!

with love and squash,

Amanda