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Holiday Healing

The holidays can be the best time to connect with family and friends you haven’t seen all year and to celebrate life and each other. With all the family time and connection we must also remember to re-connect with ourselves and our own needs. The holidays should be about celebrating, not stressing.  Often times we focus on the long list of “to-do’s” such as shopping for food, gift shopping, cooking and making the house perfect. Or maybe you have a mix of emotions around the holidays? Anything ranging from grief over a death or breakup, loneliness, or not feeling understood or accepted?  At times the feelings of overwhelm can be enough to make us want to give up the holidays altogether.  But I’ve noticed a few things along my journey and I’m learning that it does not have to be an all or nothing choice to participate.

Here are some ideas on how to have stay present with your emotions and still enjoy the holidays:

  1. Your happiness and well-being matter- Sometimes we forget that we need to make an extra effort for self-care during the holidays and when spending time with family. Make some foods for yourself that will act as your support system when the dinner rolls get passed around. Never underestimate the power of a healthy treat in your bag when the temptations are everywhere. Things I’ve brought to past family dinners: Green Juice (it’s a lifesaver at breakfast time), herbal tea bags, kale salad with juicy pomegranates (make enough to share), gluten-free almond bread, honey butter, gluten free scones and chocolate chip cookies.  By making healthy food choices, you will come out the other side still feeling good about yourself. Take some time out for walking or hiking (with or without your family). I like to go to the beach and spend at least an hour walking on the sand or riding my bike along the beach path when I visit my family in California. It grounds me, and nourishes my soul to the core!kale salad hero.jpg
  2. Non-Judgement-The worst thing you can do is to try and convince your family that your way of eating or living is better than theirs. The way it usually goes is that they feel made wrong and that their way of life is somehow not up to your standards. That just sets them up for defensiveness and a loss of affinity for you. I love the words by Byron Katie: “Defensiveness is the first act of war.”   Another way to practice non-judgement (and it really begins here) is to practice self-acceptance. You already are thin enough, good enough and loveable enough to be included in everything that matters in life.
  3. Family matters! If I’ve learned anything as I get older, is that family members die, age, get cranky, get married, get divorced and have babies. There is nothing we can do to change it!  Even if we don’t see eye to eye on religion, food choices or politics, it’s just a distraction from what is important.  On our death beds, most of us will wish we had been more loving, allowing, spontaneous, or giving.  Our family is always there for us, even when we get a little crazy from time to time. Just love them for who they are and don’t expect them to “get” you. When I made the choice to not try to change anyone in my family, and to not feel that they needed to understand me or even know what I believe in, my love for my family grew much deeper. Do I still work on it? Yes, it’s an ongoing practice.
  4. Eat, Drink and be Merry! While it’s important to focus on staying healthy and eating well over the holidays, sometimes being too strict can get in the way of deeper connections. Make an effort to  share in something together. Perhaps you can find a recipe that you can make with your family members. Or try just a couple bites of mom’s food made with love. Maybe it’s not food, but a game that you all can play together. Here is a link to some ideas.  Sitting down and watching a football game with your brother or dad may be a nice moment for bonding and connecting. Suggest going on a walk together after the meal. You will feel better after moving in the fresh air.superfood-cookies

I hope that you enjoy your time as you navigate the holidays, and remember, every day is a good day to make new choices that serve you and your future self’s well being!


How to make lasting changes to get and stay fit once and for all!

 

good-health-signHave you ever wondered how you can actually have long-term success at changing your diet and fitness routine? The answer is:

Make it a way of life, not just a diet or quick fix to solve a problem. It’s great to do a one-week fitness camp that’s really hard and kicks your butt, but as great as it is in the moment, it will not create lasting success. Success in anything lies in persistence. I started my plant-based healing and cleansing journey 20 years ago, and I had my ups and downs over the years. Even with the few small set backs of eating food that didn’t serve me or getting lazy about exercise, I persisted in keeping it alive in my life by surrounding myself with like minded people and continuing to read and research things that support health and longevity. I’ve noticed that the people who stay healthy and succeed long term have made health and fitness the thing they do every day. Sure there are days for splurging and “going off the wagon” but the biggest key is to stick to your plan 95% of the time. Humans need to fully immerse themselves into a new habit for at least 30 days to make a lasting change. In fact, that is just the beginning. After that, having ongoing SMART goals is the way to keep and stay motivated, fit and healhty.

Where do you start with getting healthy and feeling  great? Here is a list of things you can start with. If you’ve already succeeded at all of these, congratulations! See list 2 below that.

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List #1 For beginners: 

  • Go off sugar: This includes white sugar, brown sugar, agave and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
  • Give up the gluten: No, it’s not a trend…it’s real! Breads, tortillas, waffles, muffins, soy sauce, licorice and so many more things contain gluten. After 1 week off gluten your mind will be clearer and you will have more energy! Not convinced? Read or listen to Grain Brain.
  • Go 95-100% Plant-Based: You don’t necessarily need to go all or nothing, but by significantly lowering the amount of animal products you consume, you will notice better skin, better liver function, and improved heart related conditions to name a few. An article published in Food Technology in October 2012 explained that plant-based diets either minimize or completely eliminate people’s genetic propensity to developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes type 2, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
  • Make your own food: Who knows what is actually going into the food at restaurants? Is the chef and he or she’s assitants happy? Is there any love in that food? Most places use the cheapest ingredients and oils in order to turn a profit. When you make food at home, you know exactly what you are getting plus, you can fill both you and your families bellies with loving goodness.
  • Eat the right oils, if at all: Oils have their place in moderation, but it’s better to use whole fats from nuts, seeds, olives and avocados. If you need oil from time to time, use extra-virgin organic olive oil, coconut oil, MCT oil and cold-pressed hemp seed oils. Also, never heat your oils! Avoid corn, vegetable, cottonseed, safflower or any oil that is not cold pressed and in a dark bottle, as these oils are usually rancid and contain GMO’s.
  • Stock your pantry with good stuff and get rid of the bad stuff: Go through and throw out old grains, packaged crackers and cookies and anything that may sabotage your health. This includes soy sauce! Replace it with gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos, healthy flax crackers and home made healthy treats. Throw out all the halloween candy too!Coconut-Wraps-2Pack
  • Have a grateful attitude: What can you be grateful for every day? List 3 things every day that make you grateful for your life. It could be as small as a warm bed or the ability to drive to work. Every small thank you makes you happier and healthier.
  • Do it Now! When you diverge from your plan, get back on track immediately (don’t procrastinate!): The major pitfall I’ve seen people fall into is the “Oh Well” trap. “I already had one cookie, I may as well eat some crackers, more cookies and toast too!” What? Where is the logic in that? If you lost $10 in a bet would you then give them another $100 and say “oh well?’ No! Get back in your body, be smart and get back on track ASAP.

List #2: Advanced:

  • Excersise for 30 minutes 5-6 days a week. Weights, walking, running, biking, rebounding, yoga, etc. It doesn’t matter, just move! Weight lifting is for everyone! Studies show that weight lifting is extremely good for bone health and having a strong, lean body.
  • Drink 2-3 liters/quarts of water a day. Start your day with warm lemon water to cleanse your liver.

    lemon water

    Mineral water with lemon

  • Go low glycemic! In addition to processed sugars, start looking at lowering your consumption of dates, coconut sugar, maple syrup, most grains and anything that has a medium to high glycemic index. Low glycemic foods include all nuts, seeds and vegetables, plus berries, stevia and Lakanto sweetener.
  • Do a 20 minute mindfulness practice daily. Studies show that meditation lowers stress, creates less reactiveness, reduces food cravings, and can ease depression.

Make SMART GOALS

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In his 2003 book, “Attitude Is Everything: If You Want to Succeed Above and Beyond.” Paul J. Meyer explains how to make something acheivable.  Below is a synopsis:

1. Be Specific

Pick one or two things you want to change and be clear about it . Examples: What exact weight do you want to acheive? Do you have a fitness goal?  How about your skin? Is it as clear or ageless as you want it to be? Do you have a personal growth goal such as meditating 20 minutes a day or being more grateful?

Example- Visualize your ideal body and how you want it to look and feel. How do you want to feel every day? Lots of energy, good sleep, clothes fit perfectly? What about your fitness levels?  Perhaps being able to do a hard  3-mile hike/climb in 40 minutes? How much water do you drink everyday? Do you need to increase it? Is there something you want  to eliminate from your diet such as sugar, wheat or gluten? Maybe if you have been eating well for a while it can be a new goal such as not complaining or gossiping for a whole week or month.

2. Measurable

It’s important to have measurable goals, so that you can stay motivated. Writing down and tracking your progress helps you to stay focused and on on track, meet your deadlines, and get excited about achieving your goal.

A measurable goal should address questions such as:

  • How much or many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

Example: I will be at my ideal weight (fill in the blank) and fitness level  (_____ miles, _____push ups, ____ minutes of planks)  by this date _________.

3. Attainable

Your health goals need to be realistic and do-able. Be willing to stretch yourself, but still remain within the attainable realm.

Example- You might need to ask yourself if going off of gluten, sugar, alcohol and losing 20 pounds in 3 months is realistic.   For example, did you give yourself enough time to complete the required training effectively? Are there too many things all at once? Are there any obstacles that might be seen or unseen that could discourage you such as a spouse,  other family members or friends? If so you will want to get everyone on board before you start or find a friend who is supportive. 

4. Relevant

This step is about ensuring that your goal matters to you, and that it is in alignment with your other goals. You may need support and assistance in achieving your goals, and it’s also important to retain control over them. So, make sure that if you are asking for help and support from others, that you are still ultimately responsible for achieving your own goals (dont’ give your power away or blame someone else for not getting things done). Don’t let anyone else tell you it’s not possible either.

Example: Does this goal fit into my lifes right now? Is this something doable now? If you are going on vacation, it might not be the best time to start a cleanse, but it’s a great time to add more water and get more exercise. 

5. Time-bound

Set a specific date to be at your goal. Once you have achieved that goal at the set date, celebrate, then create a weekly or monthly check in to make sure you continue to stay fit and healthy.

A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions:

  • When?
  • What can I do six months from now?
  • What can I do six weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?
  • How can I keep my new healthy body once I acheive my goal?

Example: Set your weight and fitness goal for 1-month from now with something that is achievable and realistic. Once you have reached that goal, celebrate, then create a new date with the continued goal of staying fit and healthy.

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Now get out your journal or calendar and start writing down your new, acheivable goals!

P.S. The holidays are coming, so instead of waiting until they are over, make the goal of losing instead of gaining weight this season. That way in January you will be ahead of the game and feeling great about yourself! 

Join our Plant-based and fitness Bootcamp this November (and 4 times a year in 2017 and beyond) to get yourself in the best shape ever!

 


Are you ready for a big change?

As the season changes, we also go through a physical change as our bodies adapt to new temperatures. But what about our minds? Have you changed your mind lately? When you look back on your life, how many times have you thought something was a certain way, only to realize the exact opposite was true. Did you do a flip-flop? Is there anything in your life where you are now doing the opposite of what you used to do? If not, maybe it’s time to take a look at some of  your habits and beliefs…

I just got back from David Wolfe‘s Longevity Now Conference in Anaheim CA. It was a 3-day weekend adventure and road trip which I took with Kate and Nicole. We did the weekend right by bringing all of our own premade salad dressings, salad greens and sprouts, our delicious homemade granolacrackers, wraps, and dips. We even brought a  vitamix to use in the hotel room for smoothies and longevity coffee. It was super easy to pack for the trip and didn’t take much effort because we do this a lot (practice makes it easy). We even made late night hot medicinal elixirs in our room during a dance party with our good friend, Ben from Seeds of Life Cafe in Bali.

I love hanging out with Kate and Nicole and finding new ways to make every moment a celebration no matter what we are doing. We even stopped on the 7 -hour drive from Tucson to Anaheim to do 4 minutes of plank pose at a rest stop. Every moment counts, and every moment can be the best ever!

Over the Longevity Weekend, we heard excellent speakers who are experts in their fields. That is where I learned more, new and exciting ways of looking at things. Here are some of my top takeaways:

  1. David Wolfe spoke about activated charcoal and how taking it can extend your lifespan.  Making every day the best day ever is do-able by claiming it out loud. Saying “This is the best day ever” can give it up to a power beyond ourselves and we don’t need to try and make it happen, it just does. Goal setting and dream work is a key to success. Medicinal mushrooms such as Chaga and Reishi in large amounts are super immune boosters. Vitamin B3 (niacin) can work to heal depression and schizophrenia.  My takeaway: Detoxification is more important than nutrition. For longevity, make a morning elixir of 1 quart (liter) of water, 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (such as Celtic), and between 500-1500 mg of activated charcoal (start with 500 and work up) for a 43% increase in lifespan. That’s the difference between living to be 100 and living to be 143!
  2. Jim Qwik spoke about speed reading and the art of remembering names. How often do you get introduced to someone only to forget their name a few minutes later? I know for me, I choose to be present and take the time to remember everyone I am interacting with. That starts with remembering their name. For speed reading, if you use a  visual pacer such as a finger or pen under the words while you read, it will increase your reading speed by 25-50% (try it without for a minute and then with your finger for 1 minute and see the difference in speed). Jim said journaling is the routine to genius. Read more biographies to learn how great people lived. He read a book a day for a year! Your mind is always eavesdropping on your self-talk so make sure you are being positive in your mind. Get rid of ANTS- automatic negative talk. Self-awareness is a super power! Have a to-do list and keep your brain active through lifelong learning and longevity practices. My takeaways: Read 1 book a week and use a visual pacer. Remember people’s names with  MOM: be Motivated to remember by asking yourself, why it’s important to remember, be Observant by paying attention at the moment and use Mechanics such as picturing Jim working out in a Gym.  
  3. Dr. Joel Fuhrman spoke about lowering our IGF1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) through eating low glycemic food, eating more greens, eliminating ALL grains (this includes corn and sugar cane) and heavy animal protein. He said that a study of people aged 50-65 for 18 years showed that people who ate less than 10% animal protein by weight had a 75% decrease in death. Too much protein is actually more harmful to the body than too much fat. Protein increases inflammation and oxidative stress. People who ate more than 10% animal protein had a 4-fold increase in cancer.  My takeaway: Remember to supplement with DHA and EPA by taking 200 mg. a day for optimal lifespan and brain function. 
  4. Dr. Mercola spoke about peak fasting (also known as intermittent fasting). Stop eating 3 hours before bed , do not eat for 13-18 hours 3 days a week (that means a 6-8 hour eating window), fast 1 day a week for optimal longevity and to create more ketosis which extends lifespan. He said to avoid high amounts of protein, although he does advocate eating some fish.  He mentioned that the Cronometer has the most accurate data for people who want to track their food intake. He talked about cycling. That means interchanging both fasting and eating. If you fast too much you go into low metabolism, and if you eat too much….well we all know what happens. The body needs cycles as it did before we were domesticated. Best vegetable fats for fuel: Avocados (he eats 3 a day), real olive oil (watch out for food fraud), coconut oil, MCT oil (especially the octane 8 which increases ketosis), raw cacao butter, macadamia nuts, pecans and seeds. DHA is the most important fat and it’s better from seafood. Avoid at all costs if you still eat seafood: Shrimp because it’s loaded with chemicals and antibiotics. My takeaway: Get at least 1-hour in the sun with your feet planted on the earth (earthing) for optimal vitamin B production and overall health. 
  5. John Gray talked about the different hormones of men and women. High testosterone is characterized by our flight or fight response, the feelings of achievement and independence. This is why men lower stress by not thinking. Going into overwhelm, as so many women do, actually takes us out of our feminine and into our masculine. Small doses of Lithium Orotate can balance moods and hormones. My takeaway: If a woman is overwhelmed, she is not in her feminine side, so I will remember to dance or move my body when I feel overwhelmed. wim-hofWim Hof- I love this guy! He is the master of cold. He’s set world records for withstanding cold temperatures, swimming in ice water and climbing Mt. Everest in shorts. His message is that deep breathing coupled with holding the breath out for as long as possible (up to 2 minutes) and following up with an ice bath can give you huge amounts of energy and
    • Increases Alertness
    • Refines Hair and Skin
    • Improves Immunity and Circulation
    • Stimulates Weight Loss
    • Speeds Up Muscle Soreness and Recovery
    • Eases Stress
    • Relieves Depression.  I for one am a believer because I’ve been practicing his breathing techniques for the last 10 weeks. It’s a bit hard to take a cold shower in Tucson but I am looking into getting a big freezer to make my own ice baths. My takeaway: “Just breathe man and embrace the cold!”

Getting a dose of Community.  One reason I continue to go to festivals, expos, conferences and retreats is to experience the feeling of connection and community with my fellow health seekers. It’s so satisfying to be a part of something bigger than my everyday life. I love meeting people who are choosing to upgrade and expand their current understanding of their bodies, minds, and spirits. I want to keep that feeling going all the time. I know it’s not possible for most of us (including me) to attend something like this every weekend. This is why Pure Joy Planet will continue to grown our Pure Joy Family so we can connect, learn, grow and evolve together in whatever capacity our students can show up for.

As a way of continuing this feeling, I invite you to join our Pure Joy Family by being part of our 1-month Plant-Based Bootcamp coming up in November 2016. It’s not just about the food. We will be incorporating a lot of what I spoke about in this blog too. You will get daily video calls with me and our Team, daily recipe demonstrations and lessons, meditation tools and life techniques to get you feeling your best. Plus, the connections and interactions you get with everyone else in the group can be transformational.

At the end of our 4 weeks together we plan to create an immersion weekend for all of our inspired participants who would like to attend a retreat setting and connect even deeper. Our goal is to eventually host educational weekends like the Longevity Conference so everyone can have access to transformational information about upgrading their life and their health.  Sign up for our Bootcamp today and get ready to transform your own life!

 

 

 


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Is Raw Food Still Relevant?

Pure Joy Planet was created from a passion for sharing the amazing healing benefits of raw, unprocessed foods. Raw foods have been our heart and soul for almost 20 years, and recently my team and I have begun to ask , “Is raw food still relevant? Are people still interested in raw food in 2016?”  Buzz words like,”Plant-Based” seem to be the new “Raw” and are popping up everywhere. Cafes, restaurants, and even festivals are picking up on the demand for more veggies. The problem is, the vegan and plant-based buzz words don’t necessarily mean healthy or unprocessed.  Did you know that oreo cookies and gram crackers are vegan?! I recently stumbled upon a meat-free processed food company that is claiming to be ‘vegan’ and ‘healthy’ yet the main ingredients listed on one of their top selling products include soy protein isolate*, vital wheat gluten*, expeller pressed canola oil*, methylcellulose,  yeast extract, potato starch, enriched wheat flour, modified corn starch. Seriously? This is what companies are claiming to be healthy?

Packaged foods are not cool and not healthy! When we eat Frankenfoods (like the food referenced above), too many sweets and moldy grains such as corn and wheat, we can end up worse off than we were before starting a plant-based diet.

Eating clean, Plant-Based foods is more important than ever!  With scientific studies pointing to how sugar and grains are compromising our brain and gut health, and how plastic and packaged foods are contributing to hormone chaos, there is no better time than now to start making your own food and eating it as whole, raw and local as possible. We don’t believe in diet dogmas; we do believe in the benefits of adding more plant foods into your diet.

Here are 6 easy ways to merge raw and cooked food and make your own raw-cooked (Rawked) fusion meals:

  1. Follow the 80-20 Rule– Fill your blender, bowl or plate with 80% raw fruits and vegetables, and the other 20% can be something cooked and warm.  You  can either use a measuring device and recipe or your body’s knowing to guestimate how much to pour into your bowl or blender. My favorite raw items are leafy greens, some kind of fat (seeds, coconut butter or avocado), seasonings (Himalayan salt, onion powder, cumin, cayenne), veggies (lettuce, red bell pepper, tomato, zucchini, carrots, etc.). My favorite cooked items are artichoke hearts, hummus, jars of salsa, steamed beets, onions, garlic, winter greens, squash and sweet potatoes. See # 3 below for Rawked Fusion ideas.salad-copy-2
  2. Be a Locavore- Start by shopping for local foods at Farmers Market, and if you can, buy most of your produce for the week while there. You will be getting the freshest and most locally grown items. Eating locally will help you stay in tune with the seasons, which means fewer colds, fewer food allergies, more variety in the long run and lower food costs. Also, when you are buying food from countries that are not regulated, you don’t always know what you are getting. Some countries pick under-ripe fruits and vegetables and die them richer colors before shipping them to us! Watch this Indian Vegetable Scam
  3. Quick and Easy – Buy lemons, garlic, and onions in large amounts so you can use them all month. Pre-juice all the lemons and store them in a jar in the fridge for drizzling over salads and pouring into sauces. Order your grains, beans, nuts and seeds from companies that sell in bulk online. Store the extra food in your fridge or freezer if you have space or use a vacuum sealing system. We use Terra Soul Superfoods for our bulk orders.
  4. Get Creative!– Now that you have stocked your kitchen with veggies, decide which ones to cook and which ones to eat raw. I always cook my onions and garlic for easier digestion. What else should you cook? Chard, kale, collards, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and quinoa. These can be your base food (your 20%). Now top those cooked items with fresh leafy greens, herbs, fresh tomatoes, spiralized zucchinis, etc. Mix them all together and have a warm bowl full of veggies. Make a raw sauce or red pepper dressing for the top, then pour over your bowl.  If a bowl sounds too heavy, try a light soup. You can steam up some kale and squash, add sauteed onion, then blend it all together with a raw avocado or 2 Tbsp. coconut butter, a handful of spinach or basil, a tomato, and a carrot. Voila! Soup! Eat a 100% raw at breakfast by making a green smoothie filled with leafy greens such as spinach or parsley, hemp seeds, frozen berries and a scoop of green powder such as Vitamineral Greens, or a chia porridge:  1/4 cup chia soaked overnight in 2 cups sweetened almond milk. Top either one with bee pollen, dehydrated pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, or some goji berries.Chia Pudding 3.jpg
    This is a coconut milk chia pudding topped with fresh seasonal berries and local bee pollen
  5. Have Fun!– Are you still confused about whether you should be raw, vegan, paleo, 80-10-10, high carb, high fat or bulletproof? Relax! Dogma and stress are not your friends! You really can’t get this wrong. Follow your healthy cravings, eat what’s local and fresh, and remember that whatever you make at home is going to be 100 times healthier than anything you can buy at a restaurant or store. Plus you get to make it exactly the way you like it. Check in with your body often by journaling to see what is working and what is making you feel bad. Cravings for junk? Snacking is my favorite way to beat cravings. A little organic pumpkin seed butter or hummus with some celery sticks, apple slices, snap peas or red bell pepper slices are the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
  6. Worried About Protein? – This is a common concern. Funnily enough, most people eat a lot more protein than the human body requires. Consumption of more than 5% animal protein has been linked directly to tumor growth in animals.  Plant-Based amino acids (proteins) are in all vegetables but are highest in hemp seeds, vegan protein powder, and Spirulina.berry-smoothie-2

 

Motivated to start adding more plant-based recipes into your diet but need a little more help?  Check out our 4-week Plant-Based Bootcamp! Join our team and other participants on November 7 through December 5, 2016. Learn how to  immerse yourself in the lifestyle, make simple and easy recipes for daily living and get fit! Indulge in some of the best recipes on the planet while nourishing you and your family. Get the download on the most cutting edge nutrition and diet information and personal lifestyle guidance from Elaina Love. Learn all about superfoods and herbs and how to concoct your own medicinal teas and smoothies. Get the best plant-strong fitness tips, workouts and meal plans from our award winning fitness model, Ali Stringer.

All recipes from the recipe book and video demonstrations are completely free of gluten, dairy, processed, and soy, so you can truly feel what it’s like to eat clean and be full of energy. Find out what it’s like to live in a healthy, vibrant body. Get more information and join our healthy family here.


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Can Being Outdoors Make You Superhuman?

I just got back from camping in Sedona over Labor Day weekend. To say it was Epic is an understatement. The first night, I camped with a group of beautiful people near a river. It was deeply gratifying to sleep on the earth in a sleeping bag and to stand around the campfire chatting under the stars. I spent most of the next day sitting in a chair staring at the trees in a deep state of relaxation. My mind felt very still and I was content to just be and not do.  By the end of the day, I crawled into my tent with the sound of crickets to keep me company and drifted off to a peaceful sleep. The last night was by far the most epic! I hiked out to meet my friends in a remote canyon. It was a 6-mile hike into the wilderness and I tracked through deep water and swampy grasses. Our sensational, private, camping spot was nestled up on a canyon wall in the red rocks of Sedona. It had an overhang that was almost like being half inside and half outside of a cave. The campsite was pristine, had it’s own fire ring, rock lounge chairs that someone before us had created, and even a secret ledge that overlooked the water below. It was our favorite spot for early morning river viewing and late night star gazing. Peace, Victory, and Bliss are just a few words I can use to describe the experience. We made lovely warm meals over the campfire from the food we packed in, but our food was not the main source of nourishment. It was the air, the earth, the water, and fire. I began to remember that The Elements feed us on a core level. Connecting and blending with them without the distraction of technology of any kind was the best gift I’ve had in a long time. After a day and night out in the river, basking in the sun, swimming in the streams and swimming holes, getting up close and personal with the flowers, plants, and rocks, I felt full and satisfied. I’m sure I could have spent many more days out there and definitely will go back again, but even just the weekend getaway was enough to rejuvenate and replenish me.

Here are some ways in which nature provides:

  1. LOWER STRESS HORMONES AND FEEL HAPPIER-Various studies have found that urban dwellers with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems than people living near parks. City dwellers who visit natural environments have lower levels of stress hormones immediately afterward than people who have not recently been outside. Source: NY Times.  Walking in nature can make you feel happier and reduce your anxiety and negative thinking. According to Gregory Bratman, a graduate student in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources at Stanford University, participants in a study who walked in nature vs. in traffic showed that the participants who walked in nature had improved quieting of the mind and improved moods. Meanwhile, the participants who walked on a busy street had no mental improvement and they still felt negative upon their return
  2. VITAMIN D– Did  you know that Vitamin D is a hormone not a vitamin? It plays an important role in balancing our moods and creating a healthy immune system. Those who don’t get enough Vitamin D have higher risk of cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease. Spending just 20 minutes a day in sunlight  (nature) can increase your vitamin D levels.tumamoc-sunrise
  3. IMPROVED EYE SIGHT-If you work a lot on a computer or watch TV or Netflix most evenings, you’re at risk of developing blurred vision, double vision, dry/red eyes, eye irritation, headaches, and neck or back pain.  Getting outside and focusing on objects farther than two feet in front of your face can greatly help to prevent and even reverse these symptoms. Natural light is healing for the eyes. Contrary to popular belief, one should not wear sunglasses while in the sun. Exposing the eyes to natural light can recalibrate your brain and help improve your eyesight. So take a break from reading this right now and go outside and breathe for a moment!
  4. LUNG HEALTH– Speaking of breathing, filtered air through air conditioners or heaters is not ideal for the lungs or the mind. Getting fresh, unfiltered air is ideal. The lungs are our main source of detoxification so breathing in clean fresh air is so important! That is one of the main reasons I moved out of a downtown area in Tucson and into the hills of Marana. I get to wake up every morning, walk a couple miles, and breathe in the freshness of the day. Even if I only have 20 minutes, an outside walk can make a huge difference in how the day unfolds.
  5. GET GROUNDED– Go barefoot whenever possible. Have you heard of earthing or grounding? This is an ancient remedy. You can’t see the Earth’s energy but it can be felt. You may experience it as a pleasant sensation rising up through your body as you walk on the beach or on hard, cool dirt in the forest. Books on Earthing give excellent facts on how sleeping, walking and immersing ourselves in earthly substances can completely change our sleep patterns, mood, outlook, and create a new sweet spot in life. We have evolved away from sitting on rocks and squatting on dirt, we have replaced our earth with rubber shoes and synthetic flooring. This has completely messed up our connection with Mother Earth. Getting outside and going barefoot will reconnect you with nature, help you to feel more balanced and peaceful and may even make you want to garden or give back to the earth in some way.feet-tumamoc
  6. BEST SLEEP EVER!-The best part about camping is sleeping on the Earth, staring up at the stars and hearing nature sounds. You may wake up early, eager and refreshed. There is no better remedy for insomnia or sleep problems than a night out in nature. As a matter of fact, even though I love the luxury of sleeping in, I don’t feel the need to do so when I’m sleeping outside.

Do you need more proof that we need nature, and we need to spend more time outside?  If you live in a city, make it a point to go on nature hikes during your down time. Go out to a park during your lunch break and just sit or lay on a blanket on the grass for 20 minutes. You can also meditate outside in your backyard or in a quiet spot. Being in nature may become one of your new favorite ways to feel Super Human!

Want a nature rejuvenating experience like mine? Inspired by my new found passion for getting outside and helping others do the same, I have teamed up with Eden Hot Springs Return to Eden Retreat to give my students a chance to get earthed, re-energized and connect with other like-minded souls while eating the best food ever. Check out my upgraded Level 3 plant-based chef certification and join me for an Epic adventure into the healing hot springs of Eden.

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Vanilla Cupcake-2

10 Steps to Eliminate Sugar

Sugar is a hidden ingredient in many foods you may never have known even contained sugar.

sugar drug

Did you know sugar is in many seasonings and condiments you use daily? From ketchup to pickles, even savory foods are not exempt. Now more than ever, we are being bombarded by sugar in almost everything we consume. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is even worse than sugar and is being used in cereals and many products on the grocery shelves. I actually just saw HFCS in a jar of salsa! What’s so bad about HFCS? Dr. Mark Hyman, an advocate of limiting sugar intake says in a recent blog:

  • We are consuming HFCS and sugar in pharmacologic quantities never before experienced in human history–140 pounds a year versus 20 teaspoons a year 10,000 years ago.
  • High fructose corn syrup is always found in very poor-quality foods that are nutritionally vacuous and filled with all sorts of other disease promoting compounds, fats, salt, chemicals, and even mercury.

A recent study on rats showed that sugar can be more addicting than concaine and heroin! Isn’t it time to start taking a look at this super villain and finding ways to either cut way back or completely eliminate it from your diet?

Here are 10 steps to help you and your family reduce or eliminate processed and refined sugars for good:

  1. Eat whole foods
    • Go Fresh by buying eating delicious and colorful fruits, berries, sweet tomatoes, sweet peppers and mineral rich greens
    • Avoid produce that has been picked unripe and trucked across the world by shopping for your produce at your local farmers market. Eating ripe and local gets your body in harmony with the area of the planet you are living on. This helps keep your core temperature and immune system stay more balanced.
    • Avoid the middle of the grocery store where all the packaged foods live. Most cookies, chips, and other snacks are packed with hidden sugars and other harmful chemicals, even organic and natural snacks are often very high in sugar.
    • Order online to avoid temptation. I get my dry items, spices, coconut aminos, oils, nuts, and seeds from Thrive Market which offers discounts on organic, non-GMO, whole foods.
  2. Use low glycemic natural sweeteners in place of sugar
    • Stevia is a natural plant  which is 100x sweeter than sugar, and is 100% sugar-free. It doesn’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels. It can be bitter if you use too much, but in moderation, it adds a beautiful sweetness to coffee, tea, desserts, and chocolate. If your goal is to lead a sugar-free life, definitely try stevia. Start with 1 or 2 drops in water or tea to try it out.
    • Use Monk Fruit in desserts: Monk fruit sweetener, also known as Lakanto, has a 1:1 ratio to sugar.It is ultra low glycemic and does not spike insulin levels in diabetics. You can use this as a substitute in your baking and in raw dishes that call for honey, agave or maple syrup. I’m not against honey and maple syrup in small amounts, however, they can be unsafe for diabetics or cancer  patients who are determined to heal once and for all.
    • Avoid at all costs: Nutrasweet and Sweet and Low, aspartame, sorbitol and malitol as these  products are damaging to the body and brain even though they are touted as sugar alternatives.
  3. Use fruit as dessertberries
    • Low glycemic fruits like green apples, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries make a great snack. They can be topped with  coconut yogurt or nut cream and enjoyed as a dessert.
  4. Make food at home
    • Let your creativity loose in the kitchen! The best ways to avoid added sugars and fake ingredients are to make food from scratch. It can be fun and easy once you get the hang of it! Come to one of our courses to learn more or check out some of my low glycemic ebooks. and free recipes
  5. If you do go to a restaurant, ask questions
    • Don’t be afraid to ask your waiter or the vendor what is in the food you are ordering. Say something like: “Can you tell me which items are gluten free…dairy free…have olive oil…are sugar-free?” If they don’t know they will usually go ask. Avoid anything fried or breaded. Sauces can contain large amounts of sugar too, so be careful with marinara, Thai sauces and Chinese foods, and even Caesar dressing.
  6. Read your labels
    • Even if you think you already know what is in a product, sometimes ingredients can change depending on the company (they may start adding sugar or agave to make more money).
    • Added sugar is in 74% of packaged items. Even non-sweet items. If sugar is listed as one of  the first 3 ingredients, put it down.
    • I aim for items (if I am buying a drink or chocolate) that have between 0 and 5 grams of sugar per serving. Also remember that the serving size is important. If the package says it has 4 servings, you need to multiply the amount of sugar listed by 4.
    • Be aware of the many names for sugar:Vanilla Cupcake-2
  7. Just say no!
    • It might take 2-4 weeks but if you make a choice not to eat sugar or high glycemic foods, your palate will adjust. Take the sweets out and wait. It won’t take that long for foods to start tasting too sweet once you’ve eliminated sugar from your diet.
  8. Lower sweet cravings naturally
    • Believe it or not, fermented foods like sauerkraut and coconut kefir can stop your sugar cravings in their tracks!
  9. Drink a green juice
    • Even though it’s usually the last thing you would think of having when you are craving a sweet snack, green juice works! It makes your body more alkaline and has electrolytes, so it satisfies your body on a cellular level.
    • Make 4 bottles of green juice with added lemon juice and store it the fridge. This way, you can always have a cold one right out of the fridge when sweet cravings sneak up on you.
  10. Get more sleep!
    • Getting enough sleep is a popular topic right now and for a good reason. One of the biggest reasons we tend to overeat and crave sugar is due to lack of sleep. Most of us turn to caffeine or crave something sweet as the body attempts to look for energy. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night drastically helps with controlling sugar cravings.

Have faith! Once you decide once and for all to eliminate sugar, you are on your way to a healthier, happier you. Your mood, skin, weight and feelings of well-being will begin to improve. If you slip up, just get right back on track at the next meal. Before you know it, sugar will become a thing of the past.

 

 


How to Eat a Healthy Plant-Based Diet

organic zone

Eating foods that are organic, locally grown, plant-based and 80% raw, can increase your lifespan and your quality of living. People who eat high raw, plant-based diets experience stronger bone density, age less quickly (reduce wrinkles, hair loss and even eye health), get sick less often, and are able to reduce the risk of getting a long list of common ailments such as diabetes, depression, overweight, lethargy, fatigue, arthritis and even cancer. So let me help you get healthy!

  • Write down 3 things you are currently proud of. Start by looking at what you eat each day. What healthy choices are you  already making? Make a list. Maybe you are already drinking a quart of water a day, having a green smoothie or eating salads or organic veggies with your meals. Super!
  • What can you change?  Most of us can find something in our diet that is unhealthy.  Maybe it’s eating hormone-laden meats and dairy or eating too many glutinous grains (white flour, tortillas, whole wheat bread, bagels, muffins, scones, etc.). By eliminating even one of these foods,  your body can become more vibrant.
  • Start adding in 1 healthy upgrade a week. That’s it. You don’t have to cut out everything. Most people do better going slowly to accomplish their goals. This will reduce the possibility of binge eating or yo-yo dieting. Some suggestions are:
    1. Try a new healthy recipe: There are plenty of easy, tasty recipes on my website to help you start on plant-based eating. Try one to two new recipes a week.
    2. Drink 64 oz. or more of water – I can’t emphasize this enough. Water flushes toxins and plumps up your skin. Already drinking? Upgrade your water by adding 1/8 tsp of Himalayan salt and 1 tsp. lemon juice. It sounds strange but mineral salt actually helps you hydrate and helps with mineral imbalances and autoimmune conditions.

      lemon water

      Mineral water with lemon

    3. Bring your lunch instead of going out to eat. Use your Sunday afternoon to prep your lunches for the week. Get my recipe books for inspiration. This will help you to feel satisfied at work and less tempted to go out.
    4. Cut out 1 habit that you feel is most harmful. Suggestions:
      • Red meat – especially farm raised meats and meat cuts
      • Dairy – including milk, cream, cheese and ice cream
      • Flour products – white flour, cornmeal and even whole wheat flour can be harmful and inflammatory
      • Processed and packaged food – these can be loaded with processed sugar, chemicals, and other harmful chemicals.
      • Alcohol – cut down to just one or two drinks a week. This is a quick way to drop a few pounds and reduce your sugar and yeast consumption. If you have already eliminated alcohol, good job! You are well on your way to thriving!
      • Eating out – restaurants are known to skimp on ingredients for cheaper alternatives. Highly processed and rancid oils as well as added cream, flour and sugar are most common when eating out. Who needs that?
      • Add in new recipes. There are plenty of easy, tasty recipes on my website to help you start on plant-based eating. Try one to two new recipes a week.

 

  • Breakfast. If you are currently eating meat, eggs and dairy every morning, or even veggie sausage, pick one of these to eliminate. These foods are hard to digest and can make you acidic. They produce an acid ash in the body, making you more susceptible to inflammation, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and chronic neck and back pain. If you are already eating a high plant based diet, you might start to give up other acid forming food like bread, bagels, cereal, oats and pastries. Replace these foods with steamed veggies and quinoa topped with MCT oil, or some chia porridge. For extra points, go raw and sugar-free by having a green smoothie with vegan protein powder. It’s filling and an easy meal replacement, especially when topped with crunchy things like coconut flakes and cacao nibs.
  • Lunch. Are you eating sandwiches every day with gluten, processed meat, and mayo? If so, replace them with a big salad. It’s way more exciting than you might imagine. I add lots of yummy toppings to make it extra satisfying (see list below). You can even roll  your salad in a paleo wrap or nori sheet for variety.
  • Dinner is where you can add more comforting, cooked meals. One simple thing you can do is sauté up an onion in a large skillet (I like the Green Pan). Don’t use oil, just a bit of coconut aminos or water to cook in. After the onion gets tender, add a head of chopped kale, collards, spinach or chard with a chopped tomato. Season with a little Himalayan salt and cumin or curry powder and cover until well steamed. Now you’ve got a great side dish or meal. For added flavor and richness, try coconut curry sauce and zucchini noodles to mix in after your veggies are cooked.
  • Why I don’t cook my oil and sauces- My coconut curry sauce contains coconut butter and sesame oil so I don’t cook it. Cooked fats are harmful to the body . Scientists have discovered that heating up vegetable oils leads to the release of high concentrations of chemicals called aldehydes, which have been linked to illnesses including cancer, heart disease, and dementia. Fats are good for you as long as they are healthy and raw. Here is my recommended list, look for extra virgin and virgin or unrefined as these usually mean they are unheated. Another word used on labels is cold pressed:

100coldpressed

  • almonds, almond butter, almond oil
  • avocado meat or oil
  • coconut meat, coconut butter, coconut oil, (virgin) or MCT oil
  • olives or olive oil (extra virgin)
  • pumpkin seeds and their oil
  • Sunflower seeds
  • tahini or sesame seeds and their oil (make sure it’s unrefined)
  • walnut butter or walnut oil

Your homework this week: Watch these informative movies:

  • Forks over Knives
  • Cowspiracy
  • Fed Up
  • Fat Sick and Nearly Dead
  • Read my  blog posts to get and sfat sicktay motivated and inspired. Congratulations, you are on your way to a more healthy, vibrant you!