Happy Spring! It's been so beautiful here in the Okanagan this last week that I was actually in my flip flops today. It seems a bit crazy with it only being the end of March but I am dying for it to be summer already. I don't know about you but with each passing year I find I dislike winter more and more and dream about the warmer months as soon as January 1st hits (I know I know, the winter is SO mild here in comparison to other places but I'm allowed to whine a little, right?!).
It's about this time each year that I start to get the itch to detox- my body, my mind, my home, my everything. I'm not going to lie I'm a bit of a detox fanatic- but I can never make it through a major cleanse without cheating or going off the rails and eating everything I'm avoiding. I've found that A: I try to quit everything cold turkey and find there's nothing left to eat and I'm starving and B: Juice cleanses don't work! Not for me anyway. I so badly want to make it through one but I have such a strong gag reflex and vegetable juice is a major gag for me. So this year I've decided to be a bit kinder to myself, go slowly and listen to my body. Duh, why have I never thought of this before? I guess it takes having a baby to step back and say hey, it's ok that you snuck some chocolate and missed working out for an entire week (or two)! You will survive.
One thing I usually always want to do more of in the spring to help me cleanse is yoga. I adore yoga. I love yoga. I live for yoga. For someone that is a bit high strung it really calms me down, brings me back to earth and reconnects me with my body, my mind and my spirit as well as with the planet and the people around me. Yoga simultaneously shows me my strengths and my weaknesses and more than ever before it humbles me. Lately I've been doing a lot of yoga videos as it is a lot easier these days to do a bit of yoga at home while Harlow naps then make a big trek to the studio and try to arrange it around nursing and nap times. The people I've been learning from are so inspiring and they are really pushing me to try new things I didn't know my body could even do-and humbling me when I fall on my face!
Normally I would be talking about nutrition but exercise is just as important as a healthy diet. So my post for today is on the benefits of yoga. Most people are aware of some of the benefits of yoga such as increased flexibility and joint mobility, improved cardiovascular health and weight reduction. But there is more my friends! Yoga is wonderful at protecting your spine and improving posture. With all the compression and release of different muscles and organs in the various twisting and bending poses, your body gets a beautiful yoga massage which helps drain the lymphatic system (boosting your immunity and helping prevent sickness). Yoga is great for improving balance and co-ordination, and reducing blood pressure and tension. Yoga is not only good for the body but also for the mind. Serotonin release increases which improves the mood and can help combat depression. Do it long enough and you may start to notice an increase in self-esteem as you master all those tricky poses you thought you would never get. If you let it, yoga can help give you inner strength and awareness of your thoughts as well as your body. Try tuning out for an hour and tuning into what your body is telling you. You will most definitely learn something new about yourself if you give yourself the chance to stop talking, be quiet and just listen! Beware though-practicing yoga tends to help bring peace of mind, better sleep and the urge to be kinder to others and more connected to oneself, the people around you and Mother Nature!
So that brings me to my yoga bowl. We eat a lot of "bowl" meals in our house. Oatmeal bowl, burrito bowl, protein bowl, yoga bowl, etc. etc. My husband and I each have our own designated large pottery bowls that we load up on a regular basis with healthy, yummy foods. I suggest you get yourself a big, beautiful bowl too as it makes the eating experience that much more pleasurable. The yoga bowl I've created is something that I love to eat/crave after I've finished a hard workout or hot yoga class and want to eat a big bowl of nourishing food. It's also completely vegan, gluten free and sugar free as well. Three "things" that I am completely avoiding these days as the dairy bothers my daughter's skin through my breastmilk, the gluten quite possibly bothers my digestive system (more on that once I've fully cleansed it from my system) and the sugar-well the sugar is just not good for you as we all know and I overindulged a bit too much during Easter... Onto the recipe!
Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free
For the bowl:
1 bunch curly kale
2tsp olive oil
2tsp apple cider vinegar
1.5cups brown rice
3 cups water
For the tofu:
350g organic super firm tofu
1Tbsp chili paste
3Tbsp gluten-free tamari
1Tbsp sesame oil
1/2Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2Tbsp grated fresh ginger
For the dressing:
1/2c. orange juice
1Tbsp+1tsp freshly grated ginger
1Tbsp sesame oil
1Tbsp+2tsp gluten-free tamari
2tsp apple cider vinegar
4tsp gluten-free miso paste
1/4c. filtered water
1.Cut your tofu in half long ways, and then again with each piece. Cut into triangles (or any shape you prefer!). The goal is to get the tofu nice and thin for maximum absorption. Whisk the rest of the tofu ingredients in a small bowl. Place tofu in an even layer in a shallow dish and pour the mix on top to coat all tofu pieces. Refrigerate for a couple of hours (I did 4).
2.Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place tofu on a lined baking sheet and place in oven for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through, until tofu is nicely browned.
3.While tofu is cooking, place your water and rice in a medium pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed and rice is cooked.
4.Remove the stems from the kale and chop the leaves, discarding the stems. Place in a bowl with the oil, vinegar and salt. Massage until kale starts to become tender.
5.Grate carrots and beets.
6.Make dressing. Place all ingredients and blend until smooth.
7.Assemble bowl. Rice, kale, tofu, carrots, beets, avocado, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds. Drizzle dressing on top. Enjoy!
"There is purpose and value in each day of your life, in each season of your life. Nurture your times of action, of creating, of doing, and value your quieter times of going within. The more you study nature, the more you will learn about yourself. Nurture and trust the seasons of your soul."
from the book "Journey to the Heart, Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul"
Love and light,
I hate cereal. Ok well maybe not ALL cereal. I wasn't much of a cereal girl when I was a kid. On the very rare occasion, my mother would buy lucky charms which I did love. What kid doesn't? Yum yum food dye... Other than lucky charms, I never had much of a taste for cereal like my brother did- he would use a mixing bowl as his cereal bowl and fill it to the top. Come to think of it he probably still does. I think it drove my mom a bit crazy. You would think a "granola" girl like me would have actually liked granola but honestly it wasn't until I actually started making my own granola that I came to like the stuff. Turns out the store-bought variety tends to be loaded with sugar (yes, even the organic brands) so those of you that are giving yourself a pat on the back when you're picking out your granola at the grocery store saying "look at how healthy I'm being!" well think again! This recipe is not for granola though. It's for its healthier sister muesli. I prefer to eat muesli these days because:
A: It's really easy. I usually have most of these items lurking in my pantry.
B: It's really fast to make ahead or throw together in the morning. And time is of the essence when you have an almost 6 month old.
C: You can make it as expensive or inexpensive as you want, depending on what you want to put in it.
D: It's super healthy and totally NOT loaded with sugar, oils and preservatives.
So why am I calling this my Mamma's Morning Muesli you might ask? Can only mamma's eat this? Well of course not but I had this in mind for all the moms out there rushing around like madwomen in the morning trying to get their kids off to school and skipping out on breakfast themselves. You know who you are! This is a quick make ahead, nourishing cereal that will fill your bellies and give you energy to go out there and battle the day.
Oats are a really wonderful plant source of iron. As you may or may not already know, iron is important for forming haemoglobin (which carries oxygen in our blood). Iron is very important in times of growth such as in childhood, pregnancy, infancy and adolescence. There are two forms of iron- heme (from meats) and non-heme (from plants). Although heme iron is very easily absorbed and conserved very well, too much heme iron (too much meat intake) can create an overabundance of iron in the body because the body has no way of excreting the excess. This can be quite toxic. Non-heme iron on the other hand, is a bit trickier to absorb and requires a lot more intake to get the same amount as heme iron, but it will not cause an overabundance of iron in the body.
A good deal of iron is lost during menstruation, breastfeeding and pregnancy so a good dietary intake of iron during these times is especially important. A pregnant woman needs to take extra care to get enough iron because she is transferring up to 1000mg to her growing baby and without enough iron she will not have the oxygen needed during her pregnancy and delivery as well as after the baby is born. Signs of iron deficiency include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, ice cravings (you may have heard of women who crave ice in pregnancy-yes that's iron deficiency), pale skin and spoon shaped nails.
A lot of the time vegetarians who eat a poor diet that does not contain enough plant sources of iron (whole grains, pumpkin seeds, leafy greens, blackstrap molasses, legumes, dried fruit) will become deficient. Especially menstruating females. It is important to have your iron levels tested if you are a vegetarian and especially important if you show signs of deficiency (see above). Never, however, take an iron supplement if you are not deficient as too much can cause toxicity. I regularly have my levels tested as I don't eat meat and have been slightly anemic (iron deficient) in the past (such as when I was pregnant). When you are taking a supplement take it with vitamin C (as a food source or supplement) which increases the absorption greatly. It its also best to take an organic form of iron such as ferrous fumerate or ferrous gluconate.
Be aware of your diet and lifestyle if you think you may be iron deficient. Other than a diet lacking iron rich foods, contributing factors to iron deficiency may include high intake of caffeine, chocolate and pop as well as antibiotic and aspirin use.
All in all, if you are someone in need of some extra iron, this muesli is a good choice as the oats, dried fruit, nuts and pumpkin seeds are all good plant sources of iron.
Mamma's Morning Muesli
Vegan, Gluten Free
4 cups rolled oats (use gluten free oats if intolerant)
3/4 cup dried figs
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/8 cup pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp. cacao nibs
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Plant milk or yogurt (obviously the yogurt will make it un-vegan)
Drizzle of honey, (maple syrup or agave for vegans) (optional)
Chopped fresh fruit such as apples, strawberries or bananas
1. Place all muesli ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir together to combine. Store in a sealed container.
2. Top muesli with plant milk or yogurt and honey or fresh fruit if desired.
Obviously you can swap out any of the ingredients for nuts/seeds/fruits/etc. that you prefer. This is just a guideline. So there you have it folks. It's so easy to make that there's no excuse not to eat breakfast!
Love and light,