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My Swanky Loft in Downtown Chicago

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I am a 25 year old, hot, single and fashionable writer living in my own swanky downtown Chicago loft. I am constantly sought out by the fanciest, most established magazines around the U.S.

 

I am so busy with writing projects that it’s difficult to meet deadlines. My email is blowing up with requests, and I am being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for my endless words of wisdom on hair, makeup and fashion. I am overflowing with such fabulous ideas, that I can’t even keep up with the genius inside me.

 

Occasionally I glance up at my epic view of the city in between sips of coffee and daydream about the next handbag that is destined to be mine.

 

As evening approaches I wander barefoot into my spacious kitchen, which is, by the way, fully equipped with granite countertops and the most elaborate appliances and storage. I barely use any of them except for the microwave (which is also very fancy), so I reach into my freezer (one huge drawer for ice and food) and grab my microwaveable mac n’ cheese.

 

As dinner “cooks” I slip on my red leather pumps and throw a few curls into my hair. I am SO ready for that vodka martini, extra dry on the rocks (and don’t forget my olives please!). The microwave beeps as I tuck my lipstick into the side pocket of my Louis Vuitton purse. The clock is ticking, fifteen minutes to eat my noodles n’ fake cheese before I have to meet the girls at the martini lounge. Nothing like a long, hard day of writing followed by a cocktail with the ladies!

 

As I eat, Mom and Dad call on speakerphone to ask when they can come visit. They sound ecstatic, finishing each other’s sentences and speaking in tandem as if we are the freaking Brady Bunch. We say love you, bye! And I move forward with the evening, feeling like I’m taking a ride on a unicorn because life is just so darn wonderful (So THIS is what it’s like to be an adult)!

 

I go out and meet some boys, they are just ok. One in particular walks me home, I kiss him and toss him to the curb. I have more important things to do with my life than get involved with boys.

 

1am rolls around and I am spent. I have to be up at nine to start writing, so I pop an aspirin for my future headache, chug some city water and collapse in my king sized memory foam bed.

 

Upon waking I can see the sunrise through my front wall-sized windows. I stumble out of bed, brew some much needed coffee, and sit at my computer to start my once again long, hard day of writing in the Windy City.

 

Then Jacqui’s message pops up: How you feeling this morning, girl? I am totally hungover. That Dan guy though…he was HOT! Did you two hook up? Sorry I was so out of it last night. Richard was hitting on another girl…so I told her she was a skank. It didn’t end well. That last shot really helped. 100% ladies night tonight. Where we meeting?  ~Jacq

 

And so, tis life in my twenties.

 

END SCENE.

 

These were the “plans” I had dreamed up when I was in my late teens. I planned to go to college, major in English or journalism, get a great job in Chicago and enjoy city life the single way for a while. I’d live right in the heart of downtown, where all the action took place. I’d swank it up with all my fancy friends, take full advantage of the night life, eat and drink whatever the hell I wanted to my heart’s content, not exercise and at the same time stay healthy and fit.

 

I’d be fully independent, established and confident at the wise old age of 25. I’d have tons of money and a great family life as my parents would live happily ever after forever in their too-large four bedroom house in Farmington Hills. My social life would be on point, and despite how much vodka I drank, I’d still have enough energy and brain power to be the unbelievable writer I predicted myself to be. And, despite being a twenty-something, I would be single and would not have a boyfriend until I was 30 and found “the one.”

 

I’d wear designer clothes and carry designer purses. I’d drink lots of coffee.

 

Bottom line, I’d be awesome and would have no worries in life ever, because life is like rainbows and roses and unicorns.

 

The reality?

 

I went to college. I was totally confused and drank tons of booze and stayed up til 3am and ate pizza and fried food and got really, REALLY sick. I couldn’t decide on my major because I was too tired from boozing and eating crap and staying up late every night. I failed a class. I lost my scholarship. I dated a guy who was verbally abusive and manipulative…and I thought he was “the one” at a certain point in time. I fell into a deep depression and had horrible anxiety. The experience of being a true adult came on full force within three months of moving out of my parents’ house.

 

I didn’t major in journalism. I majored in fine arts and never have I ever used that degree for a specific purpose other than to say I graduated from college.

 

Despite my “plan” of not letting boys into my world until I was 30, I met “the one” when I was 21 years old and was married when I was 25. And, we didn’t move to Chicago. Instead we stayed in Detroit and lived there together for nine years. Our first apartment was a dumpy old one bedroom ground floor apartment that felt like a basement. Needless to say, there was no sunrise view.

 

I never wore designer clothes or carried designer purses or even cared about those things for more than a second. I could never live off mac n’ cheese and coffee, or I would die or just be taking lots of prescription drugs to survive. And, I barely drink alcohol anymore. I think you can guess why…ok I’ll tell you. It makes me feel like crap and I don’t love that.

 

Finally, by the time I was 27 my parents were divorcing, and the house I once knew as home has been long gone for years. Come to find out, my parents did not like each other enough to stay together after their kids were gone, and they certainly never finished each other’s sentences.

 

Turns out life is not rainbows and roses and kittens and unicorns. Life is real. And it will throw you a curve ball at any given moment in time.

 

I know this might sound a bit depressing, but the point I am trying to make here is that plans will be plans. You can plan as long and hard as you have the energy to. You can cook up the greatest fantasy in your mind. You can write down strategies and goals and timelines. And not that this won’t help you, it certainly will. But regardless of your plans, God/Universe/Spirit may have other plans for you that you may not be aware of in the slightest.

 

And get this: It’s all for your highest and best good, no matter what.

 

No matter how painful the experience, no matter how sudden or unexpected, no matter how different it is than what you had imagined, every experience happens to raise you UP. To make you grow stronger. To teach you the lessons you signed up to learn when you came here to this physical planet. To help you get to know yourself better. Ultimately, to put you in the right places, at the right times, with the right people, so you can be right with yourself and in the deepest part of your soul. And no one can take that away from you.

 

So I didn’t get that swanky loft in Chicago. So I don’t drink late night martinis with the ladies (although, that would be very nice sometimes ;) ). So I am not a writer (or, maybe I’m turning into one?). So I was not single and independent and rich at 25. So what?

 

I became a hairstylist at 23, and learned how to connect with others on a deeply personal and professional level. I met two of my very best friends in that business, both of whom are still two of my very best friends to this day. I never made a ton of money, but I did get to be a part of the beauty industry which was really, really fun and kind of swanky at times. I married my best friend at the young age of 25. And he is my heart. He makes me laugh. He takes better care of me than anyone could. He is my best friend, and I am grateful for him every day.

 

At the age of 32 we moved to Seattle. Still no swanky apartment in the city. But instead a sweet, homey and cozy condo in the suburbs where we have met tons of dear and lifelong friends. I don’t drink coffee but herbal tea and chai almond lattes are my jam. I don’t eat mac n’ cheese but I can cook up a mean bowl of gluten free noodles with homemade pesto sauce. Still not a writer (or, again, maybe I should consider it?), but I am a holistic practitioner and yoga teacher which I think is pretty awesome and I absolutely love love LOVE what I do.

 

Still have never been rich, and no I don’t have businesses blowing up my inbox with job opportunities, but I am happy. I am content. I love my life, and I have learned an endless amount of lessons along my journey.

 

I truly feel a connection with God, and now I am aware after almost 37 years of being alive, that with every hardship comes a lesson. With every struggle there is a growth opportunity. With every moment we feel weak, it is so we can become strong. And every plan that crumbles plants a new seed for us to grow and blossom.

 

So plans will be plans. Use them as a guide. Follow them to your heart’s content. And, be ready for something even better to come along. And whether it is painful or not is irrelevant. Look at the big picture. God has plans for you, all you have to do is listen and respond.

 

 

 

 

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My Newfound Perspective on Western Medicine

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2018 has been an intense learning experience for me, FULL of life lessons and it just keeps on going that way. This year has been a time of intense struggle in my life, on all fronts. (In fact I am ready to move forward into 2019…this 2018 business can, as Uncle Joey would say, Cut. It. Out!)

 

But I have to look at these struggles as life lessons. Looking back on what has happened so far this year, I can honestly say I have been “woke” in a lot of ways. One way I’d like to touch on today is my relationship with Western Medicine: What it was back when I was a kid growing up, what it was like in my adult years, and what it is today (thanks to 2018).

 

According to the National Cancer Institute’s Dictionary of Cancer Terms, the definition of Western Medicine (also called “allopathic medicine”), is: “A system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery. Also called biomedicine, conventional medicine, mainstream medicine, and orthodox medicine.”

 

I spent most of my life, from the time I was a baby and into my adult years feeling sick. I had frequent stomach aches, constipation, sore throats, sinus infections, and other illnesses such as strep throat, bronchitis, the flu, all things that “normal” kids have and we all get through somehow.

 

Although I wasn’t horribly sick or terminally ill, which I am grateful for, I always had some kind of problem. On top of that severe anxiety and depression was always a focal point of my life. And to be honest, I never knew I had anxiety until I entered into my twenties. As silly as that may sound, I thought all my physical symptoms were physical symptoms. Not one medical doctor ever said to me, “I think you have anxiety/depression. Let’s look at that.” I just thought having physical problems, and being scared shitless all the time was a “normal” state of being. I knew nothing different than this life. I would think, “Everyone else must feel this way too.”

 

Once I entered my late twenties, by the age of 28 I was taking about five different prescription drugs daily, at minimum. That was without having some sort of infection and needing antibiotics. I was taking medication for anxiety/depression, chronic sinusitis, asthma, and a thyroid diagnosis. I had sinus infections that returned every two months, waves of bronchitis, urinary tract infections and vaginal infections on a regular basis. And each time I took an antibiotic for one or all of those, I was sure that THIS time, the infection would be knocked out for good. But it would always return like clockwork.

 

This had been a cycle for me over the course of my entire life, but it wasn’t until my late twenties that I began opening my eyes to greater possibilities. Thoughts that entered my mind were, There has to be more to life than this. I am only 28…what will my medicine cabinet look like at 60? I don’t want to rely on these drugs for the rest of my life...there has to be another way. And the like.

 

Coincidentally (or not so coincidentally), I found a holistic practitioner who helped me shape up my diet, and recommended some herbal medicine for me as well. That very day I began to change my life and I haven’t looked back since. Today I take zero pharmaceutical medications, and it has everything to do with my diet and lifestyle changes, and my spiritual growth.

 

I was so interested in this way of living, the natural way, that at the age of 30 I started school for Traditional Naturopathic Medicine. According to naturopathic.org, the definition of Naturopathic Medicine is: “A distinct primary health care profession, emphasizing prevention, treatment and optimal health through the use of therapeutic methods and substances which encourage the person’s inherent self-healing process.” This website also states that “Naturopathic physicians work with their patients to prevent and treat acute and chronic illness and disease, restore health and establish optimal fitness by supporting the person’s inherent self-healing process.” The website also states, “ Naturopathic medicine recognizes an inherent self-healing process in the person which is ordered and intelligent. [They] act to identify and remove obstacles to healing and recovery, and to facilitate and augment this inherent self-healing process.

 

“Naturopathic doctors follow these three guidelines to avoid harming the patient:

 

·      Utilize methods and medicinal substances which minimize the risk of harmful side effects,  using the least force necessary

·      Avoid when possible the harmful suppression of symptoms

·      Acknowledge, respect and work with the individual’s self-healing process”

 

In other words, a Naturopathic physician’s job is to honor the innate healing ability of the body, and do everything they can to help support and facilitate this healing without the use of strong or dangerous medications or other substances that could cause harm in the long run.

 

When I first began my healing journey over a decade ago, I was very strict about everything being “natural” and being handled in a naturopathic manner. That is not to say that I do not practice this today. I still look at everything naturally first, and I always view the person as a whole (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) when working with not only clients but with myself. That being said I used to be so strict, not only in my practices and but also in my beliefs, that I thought of the medical community in general as being money hungry people who look at patients as numbers in a system. I thought of hospitals as being depressing places that force medications and procedures on the patients against their will. I thought the pharmaceutical industry was an evil, money laundering scam that poisoned people’s bodies and robbed their bank accounts. I was so against mainstream medicine that I got angry when friends or family would tell me about their health struggles. Not angry at them, but angry at the system, and angry at life in general. Talking, thinking about, or analyzing the medical system made my head spin and filled me with rage. And it was all due to my own experience with the medical system growing up, coupled with what I was learning in school about Western medicine vs. Naturopathic medicine.

 

I was learning that Naturopathic medicine could truly heal from the inside out. That Naturopathic medicine was built to support all systems of the body, so that, on its own, the body’s immune system had the ability to fight dis-ease. That the digestive system was meant to function properly on its own, digesting food, assimilating nutrients, and eliminating wastes appropriately, with the proper support and care from food, herbs, and natural body therapeutics. That the skin was an organ of elimination, and that covering it in drugstore lotions and other chemical substances would only suppress the deeper issue by not allowing the skin to eliminate toxins. I was learning all these new amazing things about the human body and began to view the medical and pharmaceutical industries as the enemy, and that the only way to heal the body, mind and spirit was through natural means.

 

Fast forward to 2018…

 

·      January 1, 2018: Emotional break down day. Digestive issues triggered after almost two years of eating mostly raw vegan, thinking this was the answer to all of mankind’s ills. I am confused and frustrated.

·      January 2018: New, exciting yoga teaching role has begun. I am scared shitless. My belly is locked up in knots. I’m not sleeping. Body shakes. I’m cold. I’m numb. I hate winter.

·      February 2018: Getting used to this yoga teaching position, but I still have a marble in my throat. Family health issues. Blood tests begin. I have candida overgrowth in my gut. Deficient in vitamin D, B-12, and iron. Blood tests indicate dehydration and low adrenal function. WHAT??? I have been working so hard with my raw vegan-ness. Confused as hell.

·      March 2018: Kitty has a seizure in my kitchen. Immediate veterinary help. And just like that she is diagnosed with three heart conditions and hyperthyroid condition. I am devastated, confused and lost on what to do moving forward. Must. Have. Wine. Oh wait, I can’t…those digestive issues. Candida. Dang.

·      April 2018: Trying to get kitty stable on new meds. They upset her tummy. She stops eating. She’s dehydrated. Emergency vet visits every other week. They stabilize her multiple times.

·      May-August 2018: Ok, we are getting stable. I feel more “normal.” Several rechecks on blood levels. Things are normalizing with supplements and eating cooked, warm foods and adding chicken dark meat to my diet. Kitty gets meds twice per day orally and transdermally. She is eating. We got this.

 

This year has changed my perspective of Western Medicine drastically. Yes, there are absolutely medical doctors out there who consider their patients numbers. Yes, the medical system has its flaws. Yes, the pharmaceutical industry definitely has its downfalls too and is practically unaffordable in some instances. And no, I do NOT believe in relying on pharmaceutical medication to heal.

 

But, what I DO believe, is I believe in collaboration. I believe that using natural means and combining them with medically necessary medications or procedures is a beautiful thing. I believe that Western Medicine and Naturopathy/Eastern Medicine can be used together in healing. I believe that disease prevention using natural means is essential (Key word: prevention), and at the same time we live in a world where all disease cannot possibly be prevented.

 

We have all kinds of environmental influences and stressors, all kinds of chemicals and hormones being pelted at us on a daily basis. The only thing we can really do, is to do our best with prevention.

 

I can honestly tell you that between my own recent health challenge, health challenges in my family, and this new life and death scenario with our cat, we have truly had some AMAZING doctors and practitioners on our team. Yes, to keep our cat alive and comfortable, she has to be on medication, at least for now. No amount of diet changes or supplements could save her life quickly like medication and this awesome team of doctors we have. I believe that, eventually, perhaps, with hard work and lots of research, trial and error, we may be able to one day get her off meds. But the reality is she needs them to survive, and I am eternally grateful, in this moment, that we have medication that can help keep our sweetie alive.

 

On the topic of human health, sometimes we just need to take medications or supplements to live a fulfilling life. For example, I have seen anxiety and depression take a HUGE toll on some of the people that I love. To the point where their eyes are dark and sunken back, they lose a tremendous and unhealthy amount of weight, and they retreat from society. Sometimes when we are in a situation like this, where quality of life is depreciated so greatly, no amount of therapy or supplements can help lift a person up more quickly or effectively than some sort of anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication. I am not ashamed to say I have taken these in the past, and it can legitimately save someone’s life. I do understand there are dangers to some of these drugs, and I am not trying to be an advocate for drug taking by any means. But sometimes, when you need it you need it. And it can make all the difference in the world, and there’s nothing wrong with it.

 

As for supplements, between all the blood testing I’ve had done this year, I have finally gotten my levels normalized for just about everything, with the use of supplements. And I take MANY supplements each day. We just can’t do it all with food in some cases. I am grateful for my doctors, and, although expensive, I am grateful for supplements because without them I would not be feeling as good as I do today.

 

We live in a world where western medicine often criticizes, or does not believe in natural medicine. A world where Natural practitioners, just like me, think of Western Medicine as the enemy. This needs to change. What needs to happen is a collaborative form of care. And I believe it is starting to happen. I am starting to feel a shift.

 

Energy medicine, yoga, and acupuncture are now being used in hospitals and medical clinics to complement and enhance medical health care. Naturopathic Doctors, in some states, practice natural medicine as well as prescribe necessary medications when the need is there. Acupuncture, longs walks, and yoga are being “prescribed” by medical doctors.

 

There is not a good or bad side to this. It is simply the world in which we live. I will be eternally grateful for medical doctors, veterinarians, and emergency medicine, as they all save lives. No, the medical system is not perfect. But what is? It needs improvements for sure, but what I see is continuing research happening in hopes of helping people survive in this crazy world. I see doctors, nurses and other practitioners alike, working hard to help their patients feel better. I see hard working, responsible, caring surgical teams performing life-saving procedures. And I see medication helping people remain stable and move forward with their lives, so they can feel somewhat “normal” (whatever that means).

 

The problem comes in when we start to rely on medication alone to “cure” us. In order to live, it is important for us as a society of humans to do things in our life to create the healthiest version of ourselves we can possibly be. Eating fresh, organic, unprocessed food, getting outdoors and staying active, connecting with others, having some sort of spiritual practices, and the like are just some things we can do to create our healthiest self in the midst of all the chaos.

 

There is much more I could say on this topic, but I will end with this. I will always turn to natural medicine first, for my care and my family’s care. And at the same time, no matter what happens, I truly believe that there are doctors out there who genuinely care for and want to help their patients. I believe that medication is not all bad, and I am grateful for the medications that save lives. I believe that working co-creatively, between western and eastern medicine is truly a blessing in our modern world. And I encourage you to BE in the space of gratitude for ALL things. Acceptance, kindness, and gratitude can change the world if we all join hands. After all, we are all connected, we are all ONE, as God intended.

 

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My Wake-Up Call with Nutrition: Why I am No Longer Raw Vegan

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This is a difficult topic for me to discuss openly, and I have been waiting for the right time to do it. The right time being simply when I felt ready and called to share. And today happens to be that day.

 

Over the years I have experimented with all kinds of nutrition plans and diets, whether it was low carb, weight watchers, candida diet, paleo, leaky gut, vegan, raw vegan, you name it I’ve pretty much tried it. Always searching for the one "answer" that could cure all of mankind's ills.

 

And for the past two years or so I was mostly raw vegan. My body really started to clean out, and I felt AMAZING for a good portion of time. Like, TRULY amazing. My energy levels were high, my digestion was great, I had regular eliminations (which was never the case in my life until going raw vegan), and stomach aches were few and far between (which had also been a regular thing in my life). I even felt more inspired than ever, and had more brain power which allowed me to stay at a constant high energy level for hours at a time. In a nutshell, the raw vegan diet and lifestyle felt like the non-caffeine version of coffee intermixed with a gentle laxative that kept my otherwise slow bowels moving. I felt great! In fact I was so passionate about the lifestyle that I took a course that graduated me with the title Certified Detoxification Specialist (which I still proudly use today in my practice).

 

But after about 18 months, I started to have digestive issues…and this time they were BAD. Worse than ever, in fact. I got stomach aches after literally EVERYTHING I ate. I had to keep food and food combinations to a minimum. For two months my diet consisted almost exclusively of bananas, spinach, onions, garlic and coconut oil. It’s all I could stomach without pain or discomfort. I had a constant lump in my throat that felt like a marble, and at certain random points in my day I would begin to feel nauseous. One morning I woke up and looked in the mirror and found a big red spot in my eye, almost like a big blood vessel had burst. Bowel movements ranged from diarrhea, to constipation, to no elimination at all, and I had constant, heavy bloating. I just felt downright terrible.

 

I began taking herbs for parasitic infections, I tried cleansing out with laxatives, and I could only digest food if I took at least five digestive enzymes with each meal. I was miserable and could not figure out what was wrong. And when I mentioned it to friends, they responded, “But you eat so clean!”

 

All of these symptoms just baffled me. How could I be having these problems if I am constantly eating foods that detox out the nasties?

 

I went to see my Naturopath and was diagnosed with candida overgrowth. Again, I was baffled. From all I had read and studied up to that day, the foods I had been eating were the candida fighters! Fresh, raw fruits and vegetables are the detoxers that remove invaders from the body. I was even taking herbs to strengthen internal organs and tissues. So why was I having these problems?

 

I began taking some supplements I received from my Naturopath, to fight the candida, and started bringing in principles of the candida diet, from a book I read years ago titled, The Body Ecology Diet. Within a day of eating foods that starve the candida, I realized this was not the way my body could live. Because the candida diet requires little to no carbohydrates, I felt constantly light-headed and my brain was foggy. The human brain needs sugars to survive, and I was not getting them. Needless to say, that diet went out the window quickly.

 

I was at my wits end, and one day it came to me: Ayurveda. Long before modern medicine, Ayurveda was developed in India and is one of the world’s most powerful mind-body health systems. The basis of Ayurveda is that the mind and body are not separate, but rather they are deeply connected. And, according to this healing tradition, to heal the mind is to heal the body. Beyond this, Ayurveda is a science, and means “the science of life.”

 

Lucky for me, I knew someone who had the credentials to help me establish an Ayurvedic lifestyle and make some major changes. A yoga mentor, friend and Ayurvedic practitioner of mine was on my speed dial that day! We had an hour session where she gave me some basic lifestyle and diet changes I could make to start feeling better and getting my health back. I started implementing them immediately, and within four days my bloating was almost nonexistent, stomach aches were gone, and I was able to have a normal bowel movement for the first time in years (or maybe ever). As it turns out, I had been eating the exact opposite of how my body needed to be nourished. I was eating mostly raw fruits and vegetables, and my particular body constitution calls for warm, moist, cooked and grounding foods.

 

It has been about five months since that day, and although I am still battling candida to a certain extent, I am feeling much stronger, and much healthier than ever. I am able to eat a whole lot more food now, and have expanded my diet to include nourishing foods such as bone broth, ghee, chicken stew and wild caught fish.

 

Something I never thought I would do was go back to eating meat. But once I did, I could literally feel my body receive it with ease, down to the cellular level. I don’t eat meat all that often, I would say about once a week or so. If I’m feeling really depleted, maybe twice in a week’s time. And each time I do, I pray over it and thank the animal for helping to keep me alive, strong and healthy.

 

As most of you know I am an animal lover and so to honor the animal that is in front of me is very important. In most old traditions the killing of animals was not so brutal, and it was not taken for granted. It was honored, the animal was blessed and gratitude filled the hearts of the hunters. I take meat eating very seriously, and know that I am very lucky to be able to have access to it at my fingertips. It is equally important to me to purchase ethically raised, organic, Non-GMO meat, as well as wild-caught fish. This is an important piece of the puzzle for meat eaters in general, not just for me. Avoiding pesticides, GMO’s, antibiotics, hormones and other chemicals is essential for our health and well-being, as well as for the planet.

 

Now to clear up the question that must be going through your mind right now… “So, what IS the right nutrition plan?” It’s a great question! And unfortunately I have a very vague answer for you.

 

Everyone is going to be different. Every. Single. Body. is going to be different. One nutrition plan isn’t necessarily “better” or “superior” to another. There isn’t one “cure” for the human body. And, as mentioned earlier, if we are looking at things from an Ayurvedic standpoint, our physical body is highly affected by our state of mind. Going a step further, the tissues of the body store old emotional wounds, and our spiritual body is where illness actually originates from. So, how can we say that illness is only caused by food? What about our state of mind?

 

To tie this in with my raw vegan experience, I do not believe that it was truly just the raw fruits and vegetables that caused my symptoms. My mindset was of one that began to believe that fruits and vegetables were the only healthy foods one could consume. And then I would read articles and books about certain fruits and vegetables that were “good” for you, and ones that were “bad” for you. And pretty soon, I cut out all the supposed ones that were “bad,” and I was left with bananas, spinach, garlic, onion, and coconut oil. If I would have kept up the mindset of “everything else is bad,” and the raw vegan lifestyle, I believe I would have ended up not being able to eat anything at all without pain.

 

One common theme I always stick with when it comes to food, however, is that it is important for humans to avoid processed foods, processed sugars, and pesticides, and stick with eating organic foods as much as possible. This is the only concrete answer I have for you. And this is why teaching nutrition has taken a back seat for me. What I can offer though, is spiritual guidance from a nutrition standpoint, and that is how I have been working with my clients as of late.

 

For example, we can explore one’s eating patterns and tendencies and where these possibly stem from. For example, late night eating and sweet cravings. We can explore energy blockages in the body, and do a Reiki and chakra balancing session to encourage internal organs to start functioning properly. We can even move through a yoga sequence with a focus on calming the nervous system, which in turn can help heal in countless ways.

 

In Ayurveda, there are different mind/body types, and they all possess different qualities that require different healing foods and lifestyle practices. If you are curious about Ayurveda, I recommend reading about it, or contacting an Ayurvedic practitioner who can help guide you in the right direction for you. I am not an Ayurvedic practitioner, I only know things from my own experience. If you are lost on who can help you, please contact me and I will try and connect you with someone who can! One great resource I can recommend though, is The Every Day Ayurveda Cookbook, by Kate O’Donnell. This has really helped simplify things for me, not to mention the recipes are delicious!

 

I want to wrap up this post by saying that all this was NOT to bash the raw vegan lifestyle or diet! I think it is one of the cleanest, healthiest diets out there, and is FULL of life and FULL of nutrition. I also know from my studies in detoxification, that these are the foods that detox the body particularly well, and I do believe in cleansing now and then. I think choosing a raw vegan lifestyle totally depends on the individual and whether they have a constitution that can tolerate it long term. I know people who THRIVE eating raw vegan. I wish I were one of those people, but it is not so. I do much better with warming, grounding, moist, cooked foods like soups, stews, and oatmeal.

 

There is much more to say on this topic, but here it is in a nutshell. I’m not raw vegan because I simply can’t be. And, it’s ok with me. I am embracing my new lifestyle and diet changes, and feeling the effects each day. I still have a long way to go in my healing, but overall I am stronger not only physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually as well. This lifestyle has cultivated the brand new relationship I have with food. One of acceptance of ALL mindsets, of ALL diets and nutrition plans that can help to heal individuals all around the world. So whatever path you are choosing, God Speed! Love and light to all of you.

 

Blessings dear friends,

Andrea

 

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A Humbling End to 2017

 Our walk in the snow on Christmas morning :)

Our walk in the snow on Christmas morning :)

The end of 2017 was truly humbling for me.

 

I want to share this profound experience with all of you, because I think this is something that desperately needs to be heard, not just here in the U.S. but all around the world.

 

As you know I am a holistic practitioner with a focus on healing with nutrition and herbs. I am also a yoga teacher, and work hard each day to be aware and connected with my body and what it is telling me. I eat a whole foods, plant-based diet, and take my daily herbs for organ and gland support.

 

On December 5, 2017 an unexpected event triggered some stress and anxiety for me.

 

Keep in mind that I have been stressed my entire life, and this was not a new phenomenon. I am very easily triggered, my fight-or-flight response activated in an instant, and sometimes without me even realizing it.

 

Up until this point (December 5th) I had been mildly stressed for about a month or so, with all kinds of new exciting things coming into my world. As wonderful as they were, my stress response is sensitive, and my body responded in excitement as well as fear. (You know that feeling when you get SUPER stoked about something, but it’s new so it’s also kind of scary? THAT’S the feeling I’m talking about.)

 

I knew I was stressed, but I pressed on, each day moving through my schedule of things planned, new projects I’m tackling moving into 2018, and meeting amazing new people who can help me in my ventures.

 

I could feel the anxiety, and I could feel it in my belly. I described it to a friend as my stomach feeling like it has its own heartbeat, like it was going to beat so hard it would explode out of my abdomen. I felt a lump in my throat, a lump I can only describe as feeling like a marble, attached to a cord running all the way down my esophagus and into my stomach. And there in my stomach was a rock, the very same rock with its own heartbeat ready to burst out of my belly at any given moment.

 

On December 12, 2017 I ate a salad with tomatoes on top. It was DELICIOUS. In fact, I even posted about it on Facebook it was so good. About an hour later I found myself in extreme stomach upset, and all I could do for the rest of the night was sleep. I ate nothing between 1pm that day and the next morning.

 

For about two weeks after that, I knew something was going on digestively, but I chalked it up to the tomatoes which have a history of irritating my stomach anyway. (Really don’t know why I ate them in the first place with that prior awareness!)

 

Finally it got to the point where eating caused pain and discomfort with every single bite, and even every sip of water. I had to skip Christmas dinner. All I was able to eat on Christmas day was a smoothie.

 

Some of you may also be aware that I have studied an assessment method called Iridology, which is an assessment of the iris (colored portion) of the eye as it relates to tissue states and genetic strengths and weaknesses.

 

I took some photos of my eyes, and sent them off to my mentor, an amazing holistic health practitioner. She and I both looked at my eyes and saw inflammation in certain areas and organs. Why?

 

And then it dawned on me. Stress.

 

Even though I had been eating well, practicing my yoga, and generally taking care of my body, stress is always I factor for me and always has been.

 

I recently watched a documentary called “Heal,” which can be streamed on Amazon TV. It is all about the mind, emotions and stress, and their connection with the physical body.

 

From watching this as well as from my own recent experience, I realized and am confident that most of my physical problems from my past and into the present are directly related to my stress and anxiety levels.

 

No matter how well we are eating, or how physically fit we are, or how many great supplements we are taking, nothing can erase the damage stress can create in the human body.

 

I am still currently on the mend. And, although I have not made it in to see my Naturopath yet (don’t worry, I have an appointment…they are busy this holiday season!), I am treating this digestive pain and discomfort as if it were a stomach or intestinal ulcer. AND IT’S HELPING.

 

I don’t have a scope, or an ultrasound machine to actually see what’s going on in there so I can’t say for sure. But if I’m trusting my intuition, my stress triggered an ulcer (or some other type of inflammation/irritation), and it takes weeks, sometimes months to heal from something like that.

 

So I’m taking it slow. I’m doing everything I can to eliminate or minimize stress in my world.

 

I’m having conversations with God which I’ve never had before in my life. I’m asking questions like, “What’s next?” and “What do I need to know right now?” and “Is there something I need to let go of?”

 

I’m continuing my practice of gentle yoga, and I’m going for walks on sunny days, just talking to God, and praying and praying.

 

I cried for an hour yesterday. Sobbed, in fact. It was a great energy release which I truly needed. My stomach pain almost instantly went away. It has returned today, very mildly. But I will continue moving forward and talking to God and asking and praying and being kind to myself.

 

My current diet consists of warm bananas with cinnamon and ginger, warm homemade apple sauce, papaya, and soup. Last night I was able to eat a mashed sweet potato without discomfort…score!

 

I am losing unhealthy weight again, as I did three years ago with the stress of relocating. The stress response has unimaginable impact on the human body.

 

Through all this I am learning to stay humble, and to remember that anyone can get sick at any time, for any reason.

 

I am learning that I need to do life differently than I have been, maybe ever. No more pushing harder and harder. No more pressing forward when my body is saying no.

 

Healthy eating is a HUGE part of the picture. But it’s not all of it. If our mental and emotional health are not addressed, the physical body will communicate with us in countless ways.

 

Stress and anxiety are extremely detrimental to our health. When we are in fight-or-flight mode, our digestion, assimilation, elimination and immune system are turned way down, so we can use 100% of our energy to “run from the tiger” so-to-speak.

 

Do you have stress and anxiety? Is it intense? Is it long-term? Is it affecting your daily life, your work, your home? Is it affecting your concentration and focus? Is it making you sick to your stomach?

 

If you answered yes to any of those questions, I hope you will consider taking a good look at that stress to see where it might be coming from, and how you can let it go.

 

We live in a crazy world, where we are bombarded by anger, fear, negativity, chemicals, heavy metals and other toxins seen and unseen. It is more important now than ever to take care of ourselves, to listen to the ONE body we have carrying us around on this planet and do for ourselves what needs to be done to heal.

 

That includes food, physical and mental exercise, and daily calming practices. Whatever is eating at you, it’s not worth the stress. Let it go. Breathe. Just how kind can you be to yourself this blessed new year? I am with you and support you all the way. Let’s do this together <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

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Why I Think the Rain is Beautiful

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Being from the Midwest where there is often two feet of snow on the ground from November to May, I was certain the Seattle rain wouldn’t bother me. And as it turns out, I was right.

 

For one, it doesn’t rain in Seattle as much as the movies and TV shows depict. Contrary to popular belief, we actually do get sun. Our summers are unbeatable in weather (sshhh…please don’t tell your friends…this is Washington’s best kept secret), so much so that you can find me on the beach or at a park most weekends, and my tan is ON. POINT.

 

Secondly, rain is much easier to deal with than constant snow. I absolutely do not miss my numb fingers and toes, my frozen nose hairs and shoveling my car out of the driveway in the middle of a blizzard. Not to mention my white knuckles on the steering all the way to work each day. I’m SO all set on that.

 

That being said, of course I’ve had my days. The clouds and rain in the winter can get slightly oppressive, like you’re trapped in a white bubble for many days, even weeks in a row.

 

Do I prefer the sun? Absolutely, every time.

 

But there’s something about rain water dripping from the colorful fall leaves, and that “just-right” combination of mist and fog that linger just below the evergreen tree line that give this town its character.

 

Sometimes, on a “clear-ish” day, you can see the snow-capped mountains standing tall and the puffy clouds forming the perfect hover effect just above their peaks. To me, that’s God.

 

Honestly though, I didn’t always see it that way.

 

When we first moved here I was completely out of body, my anxiety was at its highest point maybe ever, and I had bouts of depression where I felt I just couldn’t get out of bed in the morning.

 

And the clouds and rain didn’t help. It was often dark and gloomy outside, which only added to my melancholia.  

 

I have spent the past three years dedicated to healing myself from the inside out.  

 

Through daily yoga I have released old emotional baggage that was no longer serving my highest good. Using whole foods and herbs I have released endless amounts of toxicity from my body. Journaling, Reiki and countless other tools have been a pivotal part of my journey as well. With still plenty more work to do, I feel I have made huge strides in my health and well-being.

 

I think the rain is beautiful.

 

But I couldn’t see the beauty in what otherwise might seem like doom and gloom before I found the beauty within myself.

 

When we detoxify our body from all the old garbage (i.e. chemicals, heavy metals, viruses and bacteria, parasites, old emotional baggage, negative thoughts, etc.), we can finally see the world through a clearer lens.

 

Everything just becomes brighter and more joyful, even the stuff that used to seem dull and heavy. What I originally carried to Seattle is no longer present within me.  

 

I once perceived the rain and clouds to be dark and gloomy, just as I was inside.

 

As I was driving down the street the other day, I gazed out my window to admire the beautiful scenery. The bright mossy green tree trunks, the remnants of the autumn leaves scattered about, the woman with the bright red umbrella walking her pup, and those puffy clouds floating over the mountain tops.

 

As I looked up at the sky that evening, the half-moon illuminating the clouds with subtle pink hues, I could only think of how grateful I was to be here. That the beauty of the Pacific Northwest is second to none.

 

And that is when I realized why life felt so good, why I could truly see the beauty in everything, rain or shine.

 

The power was within me the whole time.

 

Although I’ll admit my natural tendency to favor rain due to my years in snowy, below freezing temps, I didn’t truly appreciate it until now. And it was because I just couldn’t.

 

We must not underestimate the power of proper nutrition and self-care. It may seem subtle, and it may seem like nothing is happening…at first.

 

Then one day, you’ll wake up and realize wow. This is legit.

 

Healing can happen. But you have to want it. You have to work, and dedicate yourself to you.

 

There is no magic pill to healing, and some days it’s really hard. But I promise you, it’s worth it. My wish for you is that you, too, wake up one day and appreciate the rain.

 

 

 

 

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A Blog for my Birthday

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It’s my birthday and I’m writing a blog.

 

Some might wonder why in the world I’d choose to do this on my birthday, considering I have my own business and I can make my own hours and schedule.

 

But to me, this is not work. I LOVE to write, but not only do I love to write, I enjoy sharing my thoughts and feelings with the world.

 

And I don’t like to share what I call “fluff” either. By fluff I mean talk of the weather, or how much I like your outfit.

 

I like talking about the REAL stuff, the stuff no one likes to talk about because it’s just too hard to face, or because it’s silly, or because “that’s not real life.” (And, by the way, what defines “real life” anyway? Isn’t it just what you are personally experiencing or feeling?)

 

I’m the one who shakes it up at Thanksgiving dinner. You want to talk about the mashed potatoes, and I want to talk about how you’re feeling after your recent diagnosis of depression. If you want a real conversation, come and find me…don’t worry, we will get down and dirty REALLY quickly (in conversation that is).

 

So, for my birthday I wanted to talk about some real stuff. None of this fluffy BS we use to avoid our real feelings, painting a picture of rainbows and unicorns.

 

Three years ago today (to the DAY) I was celebrating with all my friends and family at a local bar. It was a celebration and “farewell to Detroit” party. This was the last time we would see our loved ones before moving to Seattle. Three years ago today.

 

I didn’t know what I was going to do when I got to my new home. All I knew was, it was the right decision. It was just what I had to do in my life. (And now, three years later, I know the reason why.)

 

I was unsure about everything. Was it going to work out? Would I have any friends? Would I make any money? Would I even like it there? What was my apartment going to look like? What is this Mill Creek place anyway? Would everyone in Detroit forget me? When would I come back to visit, and how would it feel once I did? What. Am. I. Getting. Myself. Into.?

 

So many unanswered questions, and yet I followed my heart with faith being the only thing to hold onto.

 

My past two birthdays were a tad rough. They brought up old sweet memories, and made me think about going back “home” to the Motor City.

 

This time of year has been nostalgic for me at the very least. For the past two birthdays old emotions have resurfaced and forced me to take a deeper look at what I have needed to release. For so long I was so attached to my home, that feeling of comfort and security that can only be felt through memories of childhood experiences.

 

There has been a lot of shedding of old patterns and emotions that were no longer serving my highest good. And that may sound glamorous and cliché, but I assure you this has not been glamorous or cliché at all.

 

I have spent full days weeping, wondering what I did to myself. I have spent weeks and even months in a state of depression and/or high anxiety, wondering when I’d ever feel better.

 

I felt so out of control of my own life, some days it was even scary.

 

I lost a lot of weight from the stress (not purposeful, and certainly not in a healthy way), and still trying to get back to balance.

 

I felt lost and lonely, and wondered why I felt like I was going crazy when there was so much around me to be thankful for.

 

And I often wondered how I could be working so hard at personal development and eating so well, yet still feel like such crap all the time. I was angry, frustrated, sad, lonely, and grieving.

 

But the truth is, the exact reason I felt like such crap was because I was taking such great care of myself.

 

I was gaining self-awareness, and because of this I could feel my emotions much more deeply than ever before. And in this way I could release them.

 

Although the process felt dreadful most times, I realize now looking back that those most difficult moments were me releasing energy, letting go of all the old junk I was holding onto for so long.

 

When I lived in my hometown I spent most of my life people pleasing. If there was a family gathering, I was there, and I brought the mashed potatoes (you know, the ones I said I don’t like to talk about at Thanksgiving).

 

When Mom or Dad needed me, I was there. When a friend needed me, I was there.

 

It didn’t matter if I hadn’t bathed myself that day or eaten more than a morsel, or if I was sick or feeling tired, if I had something else on my agenda, or even if I had homework or a project. I was there.

 

I sacrificed so much of myself for others, and although this sounds like a noble quality in a person, I never gave myself the attention I deserved and my mind, body and soul were starting to weaken.

 

So it’s no wonder that once I finally arrived to my destination in Mill Creek, WA I felt more and more depleted by the day.

 

I was so tired from giving, giving, giving, that my body finally collapsed cold and hard, and the sweet mountains and Evergreens of the Pacific Northwest were right there to catch me.

 

Spirit is so powerfully communicative out here. I mean, I was told EXACTLY where to go, at the exact moment I needed it (and thankfully, I was listening).

 

I needed to let go of my old attachments and ideas in order to move forward and become who I was truly meant to be.

 

Letting go of those attachments has been nothing short of excruciatingly painful, and yet a miracle all at the same time.

 

And although I love my home in the “mitten” and everyone in it in the very same way, I was able to release the unhealthy patterns of people pleasing and give myself some much needed attention. In fact, I’m not sure I would have been able to do that had I stayed put.

 

BIRTH-day. A day of birth, of new life.

 

On this birthday, which also marks my THIRD year in Seattle, I am able to FULLY celebrate me.

 

I am clear headed, grounded, joyful, and grateful.

 

I went to my yoga class this morning, and felt playful and free. I am writing this blog, and happily doing so.  I am next going to the book store, just to spend some time browsing books, and maybe even doing some more writing (I am writing a book, you know!).

 

It was meant to be that we relocated during the week of my birthday, because now this day has a whole new meaning to me.

 

Not only is it the day I was physically born onto this earth, but it is the day I was born once again. This is the day of my new life, the new me, the ME I was born to be.

 

Namaste.

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Toxic Heavy Metals: Their Impact and How to Avoid Them

 Roasted butternut squash topped with cilantro...SUPERYUM!

Roasted butternut squash topped with cilantro...SUPERYUM!

I have been deepening my research on specific foods and their health benefits, and I have come across some seriously amazing things. Based on my own experience, I have been looking for foods specifically geared toward detoxing heavy metals from the tissues, especially the brain.

 

Toxic heavy metals can cause numerous side effects in the body, and we all have them in our body to some extent. We get them from exposure throughout our life, and most of the time we would have no clue we are being exposed.  

 

Some of the most common heavy metals found in our body are aluminum, mercury, copper, cadmium, nickel, and lead.

 

So the question now is, what do heavy metals do in the human body? The answer is, very damaging things to say the least! They poison the body, damaging the brain, liver, and central nervous system. Toxic heavy metals are poisonous and can damage the body’s cells. Not only that, but they are also food for viruses, bacteria, parasites and worms. They create immune system weakness making us susceptible to illness.

 

In our modern world, it is impossible to avoid heavy metals and other environmental toxins altogether. We are surrounded by them every day, in the air, on our food, in our backyards, medicine cabinets, pantries, in our water, and the list goes on.

 

But there are certainly ways we can protect ourselves from too much exposure, and also ways of detoxing out the heavy metals we have accumulated throughout our lives. (And yes, we can have these substances in our bodies dating all the way back to birth.)

 

Another important thing to mention is that heavy metals are just as they are described: heavy. Which means they are heavier than the liquids in our digestive system and therefore settle into our intestines, colon and other organs causing massive digestive issues.

 

Some symptoms of heavy metal toxicity can be: systemic inflammation, low immunity, depression, anxiety, confusion, lack of focus, mood swings, tingles and numbness, tics/twitches/spasms, hot flashes, heart palpitations, hair loss, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, and more.

 

Here is some important information on heavy metals we need to know about:

 

1.     Mercury has been in our bodies for hundreds of years. It was once ingested as a “remedy” given by doctors in the 1800’s, to “cure” illness. But instead it just made people sicker. Our ancestors ingested it, it hid in their tissues, and has been passed down from generation to generation. Now, we are the lucky ones who get to recognize it and detoxify it from our bodies!

 

And just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Mercury remains in our oceans, and we ingest it through seafood. It is in ALL fish, but more prominently so in larger oily fish such as tuna, swordfish and shark. Wild salmon and small fish like sardines are the safest bet when choosing fish, although should be eaten in moderation.

 

We also get mercury through old mercury fillings. Uncommon today, those of us who have gotten mercury fillings in the past have been or are continually being exposed. But be aware these fillings should only be removed one at a time, or if absolutely necessary. Removal of mercury fillings can even more greatly expose the body to the toxin, therefore putting the immune system under great stress.

 

2.     Heavy metal exposure is a usual thing in this modern world. Toxic metals are in our drinking water, our kitchen (think aluminum foil, aluminum cans, non-stick cookware, etc.) and more. The very best way to handle this is to avoid them as best we can, and to use foods to detoxify from them.

 

Here are five of the best foods for detoxifying heavy metals from the gut and brain:

 

·      Cilantro- travels to deep places in the body and extracts metals which have been buried for generations

·      Parsley- helps remove heavy metals from the intestinal tract

·      Garlic- helps remove heavy metals from the intestinal tract

·      Hawaiian Spirulina (yes, specifically from Hawaii!)- removes heavy metals from the brain, central nervous system, and liver

·      Atlantic Dulse- removes mercury, lead, aluminum, copper, cadmium, and nickel; extremely powerful mercury remover

 

A note to be aware of…

 

If you have never done any sort of detox regimen before, or are new to this concept altogether, it is recommended to consult with a qualified health care practitioner before doing so.

 

Detoxification the proper way, is the safest method. If you have questions about where you are on your journey, or if these foods are right for you, be sure to reach out to me. The most important thing is that you are on the right protocol for YOU!

 

I, myself, am currently embarking on this journey of detoxifying mercury and other metals from my body. I am looking forward to seeing what’s to come, as I have been experiencing anxiety, fatigue, and brain fog, basically for my entire life. I will be sure to report my results as they occur!

Upcoming Events

Healthy Holidays: Your Guide to Holiday Nutrition

When: Saturday November 11th

Time: 2-4pm

Where: Yoga in the Center, Mill Creek, WA

Click HERE for more information or to register.

 

 

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Herbal Formula for Constipation

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I felt compelled to share this for many reasons, but for one, it hits very close to home for me. Strap on your seatbelts because this blog is gonna get real…like, for REAL. (Don’t be scared, but instead try and be open-minded.)

 

For 30+ years of my life I have suffered from constipation.

 

I remember as a young child not having a bowel movement for days on end, and once I finally did it was extremely painful. I had to endure the humiliation and extreme discomfort of anal suppositories, and the old “trick” of drinking prune juice was a regular occurrence.

 

I always suffered from digestive upset, and often it was accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea. I truly believe these episodes were the direct result of holding in my waste for long periods of time and finally my body would just purge it out.

 

Family vacations were a real special kind of treat, where I would either not move my bowels the entire time, or would be stuck inside our hotel room with a stomach ache or vomiting episode.

 

This has led me into my adult years with a deep fear of traveling because of the discomfort I had to endure. This is a pattern I have been trying desperately to unwind the past few years, and let me tell you it is very difficult to do. (We can talk about unwinding body patterns in a different blog).

 

Before I get into herbal formulas, I want to be clear about the reasons for constipation, and there are many.

 

First, constipation can be caused by eating binding foods. What this means is, when we eat binding foods, it sticks like glue in our intestines and cannot move through and out of the colon. Instead is stays locked up inside of us, burying deeply into pockets in our intestines.

 

In short, binding foods are: meat, dairy, grains, processed/packaged foods. There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. These foods bind in the intestines slowing down digestion, period.

 

Some of you may be saying, “But wait…when I eat dairy, grains, etc. etc. I don’t have problems.” Yes, this is very possible. Every person’s system is different, but in general, let’s recognize that the above listed foods are binding foods whether you can feel it or not.

 

Second, constipation can be the result of stress and/or overused and weak adrenal glands. Our adrenal glands are the gas and break pedals for the bowels. When our body is in stress (fight or flight) mode, our adrenals are activated and the bowels are turned off. When we are relaxed, they press the gas pedal on the bowels once again.

 

There is a physiological reason for this, and it is a very primal function of the human body. If we are being chased by a bear, we have to run. If we are running from a bear, is there time to stop for a quick poop? Absolutely not.

 

It’s the same thing in this lifetime. We are constantly being faced with life’s challenges and stresses, and it is rare to actually be able to relax for a period of time. And our bodies are so intelligent, that they do exactly as they are supposed to. We are stressed, the adrenals shut off the bowels. It’s that simple.

 

Of course there are other various reasons for constipation. Perhaps you have had a digestion related medical diagnosis. Perhaps you are taking certain medications that have a side effect of binding. Perhaps you have some hormonal changes taking place.  

 

Whatever the reason may be, the formula I will share with you today is one that I have been experimenting with over the past few years and has produced great results. I have finally found the perfect formulation for me, and want to share this information with you all. Because I know the discomfort, embarrassment, and agony constipation can cause first hand. It’s downright awful.

 

A few notes on this formula, before you choose to use it.

 

1) Please only use this formula in conjunction with a healthy, whole foods, plant-filled diet. If you are eating binding foods all the time, this formula may help but it is only temporary and very short term. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be eating clean while using this formula. (If you are unsure of what a healthful diet means for you, contact me! Let’s talk!)

 

2) If you have been eating a healthy whole-foods-based diet for a while and are still backed up, you may choose to try this formula, but please opt to start small. One or two a day is fine, and you can always work up to more. This formula produces a lot of change and very quickly, and you WILL notice a change. This formula is for those who truly need it and want to see results…so be prepared and start small!

 

3) If your constipation is due to stress and adrenal weakness (again, if you’re unsure, contact me and let’s talk!), you can still choose this formula if you wish. Regardless of the reason, this formula helps train the bowels to move again. If we have been constipated for many years (as in my personal case), our bowels have grown to become “lazy” so will need some re-training. This formula exercises the colon to train it to move again, as opposed “forcing” it to move. There’s a difference!

 

4) This is NOT the same thing as a laxative, so please do not use it as such. Herbs provide the body with opportunities to heal itself. When we take herbs, the body will take from them what it needs, and discard the rest. The body uses herbs as tools for healing, rather than relying on an outside source to do the work. Herbs make the body work, not the other way around.

 

5) Finally, if you are taking a heavy amount of medication, or any medication at all, consult with your healthcare provider or a qualified practitioner to determine if this formula is right for you.

 

All right, let’s get down to it! Here is my favorite bowel formula. There are many versions, but this is the one I like best:

2 parts Cascara Sagrada – Colon exerciser

1 part Turkey Rhubarb – Colon exerciser

2 parts Slippery Elm – Allows waste to eliminate easily

2 parts Licorice – Adrenal support

1 part Ginger – Great for the stomach; opens blood vessels to allow for deeper penetration of other herbs

 

I purchase all my herbs online from www.mountainroseherbs.com. They have very high quality and organic herbs. I have been buying my herbs from here for many years and have never been disappointed!

 

I recommend purchasing all the herbs in powder form, mixing them together well and then capsuling them on your own. It is the most cost effective way to do it. Capsules can be found at your local health store or Mountain Rose Herbs. I recommend size “1” or “00” capsules (“00” are the larger size), and make sure they are veggie capsules if you can.

 

I encourage you to take your health very seriously, and consult with a qualified health practitioner if you want to go deeper with your healing. If you are unsure of whether you need this formula, or if it would be good for you, please reach out so we can determine this together.

 

Upcoming Events:

 Healthy Holidays: Your Guide to Holiday Nutrition

November 11, 2017

Yoga in the Center in Mill Creek, WA

Click here for more information or to register.

 

Important Notice: This article should not in any way replace medical care or advisory, and is not intended to be medical advice whatsoever. Andrea McLaughlin of Llovera Holistic, LLC does not diagnose, cure or treat disease in any way, shape or form. By using the information in this article, you are doing so at your own personal risk, and taking full personal responsibility in doing so. Andrea McLaughlin of Llovera Holistic, LLC is not a medical doctor, but is a natural health practitioner. Please consult with your physician before trying anything new or making changes regarding your health.

 

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Finding Home Through Change

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When we first moved to Seattle from Detroit, I remember feeling intense anxiety and fear, and a sense of being completely uprooted. Moving to a place you’ve only ever seen pictures of is a very exciting yet scary thing. Knowing virtually no one and being completely unfamiliar with your new surroundings is very intimidating to say the least.

 

At that time I felt called to start each day with a yoga practice, or at the very least some type of movement. I wasn’t sure why, I just knew it was something I had the time for and always felt better after doing. So I built it into my day. And on days when I did not begin with this ritual, I just didn’t feel right.  

 

In recent days, my life has been an extremely busy and even chaotic. I have gone through some pretty rocky times recently, filled with a lot of change and along with that, some pretty intense anxiety.

 

Some weeks have been more intense than others, but overall there has been little down time, and even less time for me to fit in my daily yoga practice.

 

Feelings of old have come back to visit me once again, and although not nearly as strong as they used to be, they are still there. I have had to really take time to sort through some things, and upon reflection I began to realize what was happening to me.

 

I certainly did not understand these most recent feelings of loneliness, loss, confusion, anxiety and fear at first glance. But now that I do, I’d like to share them with you.

 

When tumultuous energy blesses us with its presence, ultimately it is there to help us learn the lessons we were meant to learn on this earth. It is there to help us expand and grow into who we are truly meant to become. And sometimes in the process we can feel a sense of disconnection or loss.

 

When we are disconnected from ourselves and who we truly are down to the soul level, there is going to be some confusion and perhaps some other unpleasant feelings.

 

During this busy time of change and upheaval, I was just not feeling myself and it is because I allowed myself to disconnect from who I truly am.

 

I was missing yoga classes multiple times a week, and cooking yummy healthy meals in my kitchen took a back seat to my busy life. Volunteering at the animal shelter and spending time with the sweet kitties was being “squeezed in” to my schedule, just to get my hours in for the month. It’s no wonder I was feeling so strange, so not myself. I was surrendering who I truly AM.

 

I am a yogi. I am a teacher of plant-based nutrition. I am an advocate for the animals.

 

And I put all that aside? Nonsense and NOT. COOL.

 

Lesson learned! Thank you Universe!

 

As a result of this most recent lesson (which wasn’t on the syllabus, btw…next time, teacher, I would like a heads up thank you very much!), my focus for this next chapter in my life is to really dedicate myself to who I truly AM.

 

That means NOT sacrificing my personal yoga practice. That means cooking tons of yummy meals, creating recipes, focusing on my ebook, and allowing myself to spend more time with our furry friends as I wish.

 

These past couple months have taught me who I truly am, and what I truly want and need.

 

Because I am dedicating myself to who I truly AM, there are a lot of brand new and awesome things coming, which I cannot wait to share with you all. I will be sure to keep you updated when things start to come alive!

 

But if there is one thing I’d like you to take away from this blog post, it is this: Be you, FULLY you. Always.

 

You’re unique, and you have special gifts only YOU can offer to the world. So bring it!!

 

Here’s a sneak peek of what’s to come:

  • Healthy Holidays: Your Guide to Holiday Nutrition- Workshop coming soon at Yoga in the Center in Mill Creek
  • Healthy Cooking Classes- coming soon! Location & Time TBD
  • Ebook- topic TBA once it is published and ready!

Looking forward to sharing these gifts with all of you in the near future.

Namaste <3

 

 

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Is your body telling you something?

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When I first started my journey in holistic healing, it was a scary time in my life. I had just quit my job solely on a leap of faith. My parents had told me two days prior to my resignation that they were separating after 29 years of marriage. My therapist of two years passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, and we were moving into a new home. AND I had just gotten married one year prior.

 

That’s a lot of changes all at once, and although it was stressful I ignored my stress and anxiety, and just went about my business. I was too busy to cry, or mourn, eat or sleep, or even go to the bathroom many times.

 

I pushed forward, each day one foot in front of the other, ignoring my emotions. After a few months of doing this, my body responded by creating illness and I became very sick. I was in and out of doctors month after month, pill after pill, until I ended up taking five prescription medications daily by the age of 28.

 

Looking back now eight years later, I am not one bit surprised that my body responded in this way. My body was trying to tell me to take care of ME, to allow whatever was happening to come to the surface, to stop holding it all in.

 

Our bodies are our best communicators. Eat something bad? Touch something particularly hot or cold? Our bodies will tell us.

 

But over the years we have somehow lost connection with our bodies as a society. We have been taught to cover up symptoms, to shut off our emotions with pills, to stay quiet and hold in our true feelings and thoughts.

 

But what happens when we do this is, our bodies will reveal the truth sooner or later. The body never lies.

 

A great example of this is, when I was 15 years old, my parents took our family on a beautiful vacation to an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica. On the last day of our vacation, the day we were traveling back home, I woke up feeling intensely nauseated. We had to get on that plane, so I had no choice but to get up and go.

 

My mom came back to our room with a pill she said would help me feel better. I took the pill, and about an hour later I felt normal again. Whew. Dodged that bullet!

 

But not so fast. Two weeks later the nausea resurfaced, and I was in bed for four days or more feeling sick, feverish, weak and having constant bowel movements. After an exam at the doctor and some fecal testing, we found out I had contracted salmonella food poisoning, likely from some bad chicken I ate in the Caribbean. I had to just drink a lot of water and allow it to pass through me. (Yes, this was followed up by a health department inspection in my home, it was a big deal!)

 

The point of this story is, nothing is silenced permanently. We can suppress or ignore all we want to, but in the end our body will bring the truth to light, and we will have some moments of discomfort. But, once we move through it, we have the opportunity to feel like we did when we took that pill but even 100 times better than that.

 

Please know that I do understand sometimes pills are necessary, like in circumstances of extreme pain, surgery or advanced dis-ease. But generally in our lives, our bodies are telling us countless things throughout each day, either whispering or screaming. Can you tune in and examine what the message might be? And if you don’t know what the message means, what can you do to take steps to find out?

 

Some important ways our bodies communicate with us:

 

·      Rashes, hives, acne

·      Moles, growths

·      Pain of any kind

·      Digestive discomfort

·      Inflammation/redness

·      Swelling

·      Diarrhea or vomiting

·      Joint stiffness or pain

·      Muscle tightness

·      Mucus

·      Cold/flu-like symptoms

·      And much more

 

When I first began this healing journey, I was in a place of deep fear and anxiety about what was happening to my body. I would see or feel something new happening, and I would panic inside and run to the doctor in sheer terror of what ‘could be.’

 

I remember having trouble breathingfor a while (that’s for a different blog...maybe next time!), and would see commercials on TV for things like COPD, asthma, heart conditions, etc. The anxiety would start and I would call the doctor and start Googling what was “wrong” with me.

 

This is the place I was, and I’m sure many of you are there now or have been in the past. But once I changed my perspective on what was happening, I was able to be more at ease and really tune in to the signs my body was showing me.

 

When we can think of our “ailments” or symptoms as simple and straightforward communication to us, we can begin to investigate what the message is.

 

Working with qualified professionals is always recommended in this case, if you are unsure of what may be going on. But beyond that, YOU know your body better than anyone. Can you perhaps meditate, and ask yourself what you may need to know? Can you tweak your diet slightly to start incorporating more fresh, whole foods? Can you start a log or journal about what you may be experiencing, and see if you notice a pattern?

 

These are some small yet proactive things you can do to become more empowered and get to know your body a little better. Get cozy with yourself, and get to know your body on a deeper level. This is not only empowering and productive, but a beautiful journey of life you may begin to eventually enjoy. And be sure to surround yourself with a team of professionals who can co-creatively support you as well.

 

What is your body telling you today?

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Vegan Curried Potato Buddha Bowl

When I go online to do a Google search for recipes, the last thing I want to do is read a big long blog before I get to the main event. And no offense to all you wonderful bloggers out there, but that’s what I find most often when a recipe pops up on the internet. No thanks!

 

Once and for all I’m here to end this madness…let’s get to the point! Last week I made a delightful potato dish for dinner, and it was a hit on Facebook so I thought I’d share the recipe with you here.

 

So…dadadadaaaaaaaa! Here it is (and you didn’t have to read a bunch of my babble to get to it)!

 

Curried Potato Buddha Bowl

 

You’ll need:

 For the potatoes…

 

·      Approx. 6-8 medium sized potatoes, golden or red skin (I like red skin the best!), chopped into bite size chunks

·      Curry powder (amount is based on how much spice you like)

·      2-3 tablespoons coconut oil

·      Pink Himalayan Sea Salt & black pepper to taste

 

For the sauce…

 

·      1 15oz can Trader Joe’s organic reduced fat coconut milk

·      1 tablespoon coconut oil

·      2 tablespoons coconut aminos or organic tamari (I used coconut aminos)

·      1 clove of fresh garlic, minced

·      1.5 teaspoons curry powder

·      4 drops pure stevia extract (no additives…Trader Joe’s has a great one, or find the NOW brand on Amazon)

·      Small handful fresh cilantro (leaves and stems included)

·      Pink Himalayan Sea Salt to taste, approx. ¼ teaspoon

 

For the Buddha Bowl…

 

·      1 large green zucchini, sliced into small discs

·      ½ sweet onion, chopped

·      a little coconut oil for the sautee

·      1-2 green onions, chopped

·      Small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped

·      ½ cucumber, chopped small

·      1-2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small slices

- 1 small ripe avocado

 

How to:

 Heat oven to 375. Place potato chunks into a baking dish and add coconut oil, curry powder according to how much spice you like (I like medium, so I added approx. 1 tablespoon if I had to guestimate), salt and pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients until blended evenly, and place in the oven. Bake for about 60 minutes, or until potatoes are tender enough to eat.

While the potatoes are cooking, chop all veggies for Buddha Bowl and set aside, making sure to separate the zucchini and sweet onion from everything else (we are going to sautee these on the stove…the rest will be served raw).

To make the sauce, simply add all ingredients to a high speed blender, bullet or Vitamix and blend until uniformly mixed. You want this to be quite liquidy…sort of a “soup” consistency.

Tip: Be sure to blend until the coconut oil is uniformly blended, as sometimes it can create sort of a coconut oil “foam” on top…you don’t want this. If this happens, blend for longer and on a higher speed. Or, feel free to eliminate the coconut oil altogether. (Although, full disclosure, I have not tried eliminating the coconut oil.)

About 15-20 minutes before the potatoes are done baking, chop the zucchini and sweet onion, and warm a pan to medium heat on the stove. Add enough coconut oil to the pan to sautee, then add zucchini and sweet onion. Sautee for about 10 minutes, until tender. Feel free to add any seasonings you’d like to these. I added sea salt and pepper, just enough to give it a little “umph,” if you know what I mean!

Once the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for 2 minutes before serving.

 

Assembling your Buddha Bowl…

 Add the following items to a serving bowl, in the following order:

 

·      A bunch of potatoes (these should be on the bottom of your bowl)

·      Sauteed zucchini and sweet onions

·      Raw veggies

·      A sprinkle or two of cilantro & some avocado slices

·      As much sauce as you want!

 

Now DIG IN!

My husband and I really enjoyed this one…a melting of Indian and Thai cuisine, very grounding and nourishing, anti-inflammatory and helps to stimulate digestion. Gluten free, grain free, free of processed sugars, soy free (if using coconut aminos), corn free, vegan, amazing!

 

If you try this recipe and like it, please share on social media and tell us in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

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High Protein Diets: Yay or Nay?

Eating a 100% vegan diet I get asked this question often: Where do you get your protein?

 

Since Dr. Atkins came out with his high protein low carb diet, protein has been quite the rage. For a few decades, protein has been the answer to all kinds of questions.

 

How do I lose weight?

Protein.

 

What should a balanced meal consist of?

Vegetables, starch, and protein.

 

How can I build more muscle?

Protein.

 

I need a hearty meal that’s quick and filling. What should I make?

A protein shake.

 

These are just some of the common challenges that protein is supposedly the solution for. Not to mention, there are all kinds of diets out there that cater to high protein and low carb, such as the paleo diet, ketogenic diet and others.

 

High protein diets are often thought of as the solution to many physiological difficulties, and is painted a colorful picture in the realm of health. But, are high protein diets safe?

 

First, let’s talk about what proteins actually are.

 

Proteins are large molecules that play important roles in the body. Some of the functions of proteins include: antibodies protecting the body from viruses and bacteria, enzymes for essential chemical reactions, messengers, structure for the cells, transport and storage.

 

Proteins are made of smaller units called amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids which can be combined to make a protein. The order of these amino acids determines the type of protein and its function.

 

Proteins are like a beaded necklace. The necklace is the protein, and the beads are individual amino acids.

 

How does the body respond to protein?

 

When we talk about the relevance of protein in the body, it is obviously very important, as it has so many vital roles.

 

However, the human body does not necessarily need the proteins we are eating. Let’s take a piece of chicken for example. When we eat that piece of chicken, which is a protein (the beaded necklace), the body cannot use that protein as is. In order for the body to use it for necessary functions, it must first break down this protein into individual amino acids (the beads), and then re-assemble these beads into the order necessary for specific bodily functions.

 

Remember that the order of amino acids in a protein determine the type of protein and its function. So let’s say the body is in need of a messenger protein. The chicken breast you just ate is not in itself a messenger protein. So the body will first need to dis-assemble the chicken into individual amino acids, and then re-assemble these amino acids into the exact order it needs to create a messenger protein. This takes time, energy and a whole lot of work!

 

So, what’s the whole point of all this?

 

The point is, high protein diets are not all they have been cracked up to be.  

 

Proteins lack fiber and nutrients, slowing down digestion and leaving us with little to show for it. They leach energy from the body with their lengthy and taxing digestion process. In addition, proteins are very hard on the liver, kidneys and adrenal glands, essential components of an optimally functioning body. Digestion suffers immensely, as it is very hard for the human body to break down proteins.

 

Most proteins, especially animal proteins, are also acidic, which means they are on the opposite end of the PH scale that is required for human consumption. This is an important point because when the body is acidic (from eating too many acid PH foods like meat and dairy), amino acids from these proteins will tend to bind with minerals, metals and fats. This not only adds to toxicity and acidity in the body, but also creates a loss of available amino acids (building blocks of protein)! You can eat all the protein you want, but without proper bio-availability of amino acids, your body cannot use them.

 

The human species was designed to ingest and utilize fruits and vegetables, not heavy, dense proteins, and especially not in large quantities.

 

Please do not misunderstand. I’m not saying that eating protein is bad, but rather that high protein diets are destructive to the body’s organs and glands.

 

If you are on a high protein diet, or have ever been on one, what have you experienced in your body? How is your digestion? How is your energy level? Are you eliminating on a daily basis? How is/was your skin quality? These are some questions that may be worth exploring for yourself.

 

The body needs a very small amount of protein in a day, but many of us are over-consuming it and in turn, suffering the consequences.

 

Ok, so where do I get my protein from?

 

Great question! I thought you’d never ask.

 

The answer is fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. (Yes, fruits have amino acids!) These plants have amino acids, which do not need to be broken down first in order to be utilized by the body.

 

When we consume enough fruits and vegetables, our body takes from them what it needs, including amino acids and assembles them to perform important functions. There is no struggle to digest them, and as an added bonus, we are getting plenty of vitamins and minerals…naturally.

 

We are not only getting essential protein building blocks from these plants, but we are also getting fatty acids (building blocks of fats), and the healthy sugar we need to fuel our cells and survive.

 

Fruits and vegetables are detoxifying, nutrient rich, and alkaline. Alkaline is the ideal PH level for the human body, as we are an alkaline species. Many deaths occur from acidosis, where the body is too acidic (from eating too many acid foods) and cannot get itself back to an alkaline state fast enough to survive.

 

Conclusion

 

High protein diets: Nay! Highly overrated. There is little nutrition to be found in a high protein diet, and not only that, but it is highly destructive to the human body.

 

If you feel you are in need of protein, I recommend Vega One or SunWarrior Protein, or getting your daily dose of leafy greens! But I highly encourage not overdoing protein. Less is more!

 

Did you enjoy this article? Share on social media or contact: andrea@lloveraholistic.com

 

Upcoming events:

Unplug for Self Love Retreat

Gold Bar, WA

May 19-21

Click here for more information or to register.

 

 

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The Tug at my Heart Strings

I had the wonderful experience of attending my one and only sister’s baby shower this past weekend. I got to spend time with not only my sister (who lives far, far away in a distant land called Florida), but also my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

 

I have been living in the Pacific Northwest for about 2.5 years now, and am starting to really feel at home here. We have found our “tribe,” our favorite places to dine and shop, and I’d say we are adapting pretty well to the climate considering we get just about zero snow (Midwest folks, I know you can appreciate this).

 

We have learned countless lessons and have grown so much spiritually in the past couple years. I will NEVER regret making the move…it was so right. In fact, life couldn’t have lined itself up more perfectly for us and I am grateful each day.

 

But if there’s one thing that never ceases to tug at my heart strings, it’s making a visit to see family and friends.

 

These are the people that know me and love me for ME. No explanation needed, no justification, no feeling like I have to pretend or hide behind “the happy mask,” no pressure. Just good, solid quality time, me being me, them being them, and we accept and love one another for exactly who we were born to be.

 

They know my story. Many of them were around the day I came into this world, and remember watching me grow up from just a tiny baby and on into adulthood.

 

They remember my shyness as a kid, my awkward years as a tween, and then they watched me graduate high school as a young adult trying to find my way in this world.

 

Just the energy of a family visit is very validating. There can be no words spoken, and yet the communication is crystal clear. That is a rare gem if you ask me.

 

To be around this beautiful energy for three days straight makes you really think about what the heck you are doing with your life. Why am I so far away? Is it worth it? And then, you ultimately start to feel lost, lonely and homesick.

 

Upon my return to Seattle I was walking from my gate to baggage claim and began to hear music. I looked to my right and in a tiny little corner sat an old hippie man with a long grey pony tail playing guitar and singing. Yep, in the middle of the airport. There’s a first time for everything I suppose!

 

Only a breath later, I felt the music fill my soul, and a surge of energy washed over the top of my head as if God was speaking to me. Then a little voice in my head said, “Sweetheart, welcome home.”

 

And all doubt went away. All the questions I was asking myself vanished and I instantly felt calm come over me.

 

Sometimes we need to be reminded that, no matter what happens, all the answers are inside of US. That no matter where we are physically, we are always at home with ourselves.

 

Being with my family felt like home. It felt like it was where I was supposed to be. But it had nothing to do with location, and everything to do with the beautiful lesson I was about to learn walking through Seattle airport that day.

 

Life presents us with some pretty tough love every now and then. But the question almost always is, what is this teaching me?

 

And although I still miss my family, and still long for those feelings of unconditional love and validation now and then, I know that home truly is where the heart is. And we all have the power, at any time, to come home.

Did you enjoy this article? Share on social media or contact: andrea@lloveraholistic.com

 

Upcoming Events:

Unplug for Self Love Retreat in Gold Bar, WA May 19-21

Get details or register by clicking here.

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Some Exciting News

I cannot believe how time has flown by. Last year at this very time, I was really struggling with my health. I had all kinds of digestive issues, too many to list. I was fatigued, stressed, lacking focus, and was suffering from some mild depression and intense anxiety. I was confused and felt defeated.

 

Fast forward to today, and my digestion is 1,000 times better, I feel much calmer, more focused and a lot happier.

 

This took hard work and dedication, but I have made it happen and I did it all with nutrition and herbs.

 

I have tried many healing diets over the past eight years, but eating mostly raw fruits and vegetables has proven to be superior over any other, in my personal experience. I have never felt stronger, more energized, or more alive.

 

I do not feel deprived, nor do I feel I am lacking anything in my body. I have everything I need, and I am so grateful for this healing experience.

 

This personal journey has inspired me to go deeper not only in my own healing, but with my clients as well.

 

As some of you may know, I have been working on my Detoxification Certification Exam for some time. It took me about three months to complete it to the point where I was confident enough to submit for grading.

 

After a ton of hard work and a wealth of information learned, I can finally say I passed my exam with flying colors. I am now a Certified Detoxification Specialist, and I am so excited to bring this knowledge more deeply into my practice.

 

Detoxification is the great key to healing in the human body. This is healing at the cellular level. Through detoxification we can see regeneration of tissues, organs and glands. We can see the regulation of body functioning that was once suppressed. We can see energy, vibrancy and joy. We can get to know ourselves on more than just a physical level, and truly live life to our fullest potential.

 

I believe in the principles of detoxification down to my core, and I look so forward to sharing this knowledge with my clients and friends.

 

There is nothing like feeling alive and well on a daily basis The only reason I know this is because I have done deep work with detoxification and cellular regeneration, and I will continue to do this work moving forward.

 

One day at a time, one tiny little cell at a time, we CAN get well. In fact, we can thrive!  

 

Questions or comments? Contact: andrea@lloveraholistic.com

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Why I Don't Call Myself Vegan

If you have been following my blogs and posts for some time, you may have noticed that I used to eat meat, and now I don’t. And you might be wondering why.

It was a slow and steady progression, from meat, eggs and dairy to mostly fresh raw fruits and vegetables. The truth is I had no plans to make this transition; it simply happened naturally on its own time, as a result of feeling unwell in my day to day. Just when I thought I found the solution, another symptom would creep up and I found myself in a continuous cycle of feeling good, then bad, then good, then bad again until most of the time I was just feeling bad. (Click here to read about some of the symptoms I was experiencing.)

I found that changing to mostly raw fruits and vegetables not only helped me feel better, but quickly became a lifestyle that I have thoroughly been enjoying. I am in love with the amazing new plant based recipes I can try. I love the colors and flavors of nature, and I feel more energized and alive than ever before.

I have been asked by many, “So are you vegan now?” And, I suppose the simplest answer would be yes. But I hesitate to refer to myself using the term “vegan” unless someone asks me directly, I’m ordering at a restaurant, or I’m in a social situation where that term helps others understand my food preferences. Here’s why I don’t call myself vegan:

1) There are many foods labeled “vegan” that are unhealthy for the human body.

 Vegan is a term used to describe a diet free of animal products including meat, dairy and eggs. A vegan diet can certainly be a healthy one, but it isn’t always that way.

Processed foods have been a huge detriment to our population’s health. Yet I have seen cookies, crackers, soups, cakes, chips, boxed meals and much more labeled “vegan.” This is not only meant to cater to the vegan population, but also to create the illusion that a particular product is healthy. There are certain connotations with the word “vegan,” one of them being “healthier option.” I am not saying that eating these types of vegan products is a bad thing. Everyone is different in what they choose to consume.

However, a vegan diet does not necessarily mean a healthy diet. I would never want anyone to mistake my diet for anything resembling a box of vegan mac n’ cheese, or sugar loaded vegan cookies. I eat for nutrition, not just to say I’m vegan. And just because it says vegan does not mean it’s a healthy choice.

2) As mentioned above, I eat for nutrition.

At this point, I suppose I could publicly call myself vegan. But again, this is not the point. The majority of my diet consists of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables. These beautiful and high nutrient foods created by nature contain everything the human body needs: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, natural fuels, amino acids (protein) and fatty acids (fats).

Eating fruits and vegetables in abundance helps support and nourish our organs and glands, balance the PH in the body, hydrate our cells, provide sustainable energy, detoxify, create a self-healing environment in the body and much, much more.

I don’t think of myself as vegan with this diet. I think of myself as someone who eats what my body wants, craves and needs for fuel. I want to live a long life. And not just long, but long and vibrant. This is how I feel when I eat some of the healthiest foods on the planet.

3) It’s a lifestyle, not a label.

In the past year or so I have discovered that I have a deep bond and connection with animals. I knew I loved animals before, as I have always loved cats and other sweet furry friends. But in the past year I have truly discovered that my love for these little creatures runs deeper than I ever thought.

It is my mission (and now my obligation) to treat all creatures with love and kindness. To honor all beings, human and animal, and to treat all with respect. I have a strong devotion to making sure the animals I come in contact with have a loving home, or are treated humanely and left to roam freely in their natural habitat.

A few years ago a sweet little kitten appeared on my front porch. She had no collar, but looked very healthy and was so loving. I sat with her, scratched her sweet little head and let her crawl into my lap for a few minutes. I knew I could not let her into my own home, as I had a sweet kitty of my own to care for and protect. But my plans changed that day, from grocery shopping to making sure this little being had a home.

I took her to the vet to make sure she was pest free. I got some bloodwork done on her so I knew she was disease-free. I took her to the clubhouse at our apartment, handed them the paperwork, and they housed her overnight. In the meantime, I asked all my friends and family if they would like to adopt a kitty, just to make sure I had a backup in case her owner never came forward. As it turned out, the original owner claimed the kitty, and was so overjoyed she cried and thanked me endlessly.

To me, this wasn’t a choice. It was just what I was supposed to do. I could never leave a tiny innocent being on the streets and I wasn’t going to, regardless of how my day changed.

The same goes for eating my fruits and vegetables. This is just what I do now. It’s not a choice anymore for me. My body gets what it wants for nutrition, nourishment and support.

To me, being vegan is just a lifestyle. I don’t have to think, I just do. I don’t even think of myself as vegan. I think of myself as a healthy eater, a mentor and teacher for others, a lover of all creatures, a lover of Mother Earth and the environment, and somewhat of a chef who makes yummy healthy food!

All of this is now second nature and part of who I am, not something I call myself.

4) All friends are welcome in my world.

As mentioned above, I love all creatures on this planet, human and furry friends. When I go to someone’s home for dinner, or when I eat out at a restaurant socially, or when I’m in any type of group atmosphere, all ways of eating are welcome in my presence.

Just because I don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs any longer doesn’t mean someone else has to do the same. And it certainly doesn’t mean I would judge someone who does, or be offended by it.

It also doesn’t mean I would feel uncomfortable when someone eats a steak in front of me. Everyone is on their own path. Everyone has their own specific dietary needs and desires.

The first thing I say to someone would not be, “Hi I’m Andrea and I’m vegan.”

We are all the same, vegan or not. So why would I need to call myself vegan? I know in my heart who I am, and those who know me do too. I most certainly don’t need to place a label on myself to tell others about me.

So, am I vegan?

Well, I guess technically yes.

More accurately though, I’m a health and environmental advocate. A teacher. A friend. A loved one. A sister. A daughter. A wife. A kitty mama. A yogi. A normal gal who likes to keep my body, mind and spirit healthy.

 

What did you think of this article? Like and share on social media, or contact directly: andrea@lloveraholistic.com.

Upcoming Events:

Nutrition Workshop at The Unplug for Self Love Retreat

May 19-21 in Gold Bar, WA

Click here for more information or to register.

 

 

 

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My momma always said, "As long as you eat your veggies"

Our brains are bombarded by new information every single day, all day long. It doesn’t matter if we are right in our living room or out on the town, the media is telling us all about the good, the bad and the ugly from numerous sources. As a result we don’t know what to believe anymore. It’s no wonder there is so much confusion about nutrition!

 

“Juice cleanses are healthy. But juice cleanses are too harsh. Eat tons of vegetables…except for cruciferous or nightshade veggies. Protein is good, carbs are bad. Except for when carbs are good for you and protein is bad. Take vitamin C. Too much vitamin C is not good. Eat paleo…because being a hunter-gatherer is the way to go…except in the summer when it’s fruit season. It’s important to eat whole grains for the fiber. Whole grains are bad and make you fat. Stand on your head and do a happy dance while eating a carrot. Except on the 4th day of every other month or on a full moon. Garcinia Cambogia is the cure for everything, except for when you need Ashwagandha…”

 

Are you confused yet? I am! We get fed so much from the media that comes from who knows where, it’s not surprising we have so many health issues in our country. So I am writing this blog to simplify things for you today. Here’s a short story you may be able to relate to…

 

Growing up, my family ate the standard American diet for the most part. We would have Cheerios for breakfast, drive-thru McDonald’s for lunch, enjoy some crispy chicken fingers and fries for dinner. We had the occasional ice cream for dessert, regular birthday cakes, pumpkin pie at holidays and you get the picture.

 

But it didn’t matter what I ate in a day. No matter what, there was always one common theme. In the words of Forrest Gump, “My momma always said, ‘as long as you eat your vegetables.’”

 

Even if you grew up eating the standard American diet like me, there was never a question as to whether fresh vegetables were a healthy option! Pretty much everyone I have ever talked to in my entire 35 years of living on this earth has said something like this at some point: “I need to start eating more vegetables.” Even the president of the American Candy Bars association (totally make believe organization, in case you didn’t grasp that humor…wait, is that a thing?) understands that eating your vegetables is beneficial.

 

So my point is, if there is ONE thing you can always count on to be true, just one teeny tiny little thing, it’s that fresh vegetables are healthy for the human body.

 

The other half of the equation though, is that fresh fruits are healthy for the human body as well, and they often get a bad rap. Fruits are criticized for being “too sugary.” I often hear phrases like, I don’t eat too much fruit, it’s too sugary; Don’t eat too much fruit, you’ll gain weight.

 

These two statements couldn’t be further from the truth. Fresh fruits have a beautiful balance of healthy sugar (the sugar our cells need to survive and thrive!), fatty acids (building blocks of fats), and amino acids (building blocks of protein). And to address the topic you may be perplexed about now, YES! Fruits have amino acids! Fruits are the whole package: vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, fiber, healthy sugars, amino acids and fatty acids.

 

As for the weight gain topic, I have never known or seen anyone gain weight from fresh fruit. I know people who live solely off of fruit, and they are some of the most fit and healthy people I have met. Yes, you may gain some weight if you are eating too much canned fruit with added sugars. Or perhaps if you are eating fruit as a large portion of your diet but also other things remain in your diet like processed sugar, complex carbohydrates, fatty foods, etc. If you feel you may gain weight/are gaining weight from fruit, it may be good to examine not only what else remains in your diet, but also your state of health at that time. Are you struggling with hormone imbalance? Do you have a thyroid weakness? These are examples of things to explore.

 

If anything, I have seen people drop weight significantly when eating fruit as a large portion of their diet. This is due to the detoxification of the body. Fruits detoxify, tone, strengthen, and provide nutrition. What more could we want out of a food group?

 

So let’s wrap this up in the simplest way possible. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the most nutritious foods we can eat on this planet. Herbs are also at the top of the list for healing and strengthening. Everything else is pretty much secondary. If you’re questioning what to make for your next meal, load up on the veggies and fruits! The human body was designed to consume these. This is whole foods nutrition at its best, and my momma said so! Did yours?

 

Was this article helpful? Click like and share, or email us directly with comments at: andrea@lloveraholistic.com

 

Upcoming Events:

Nutrition Workshop at the Unplug for Self Love Retreat

May 19-21 in Gold Bar, WA

Click HERE for more information or to register.

 

 

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My Relentless 30 Day Craving for Filthy Diner Food

Growing up I ate like your average American. Chicken fingers and fish sticks for dinner, pop tarts for breakfast and the occasional McDonald’s drive-thru happy meal. One of my favorite memories from my pre-teen and teen years was our weekly Friday night dinner at a little diner in walking distance from my house.

 

In the Detroit suburb of Farmington Hills a little place on the corner called Leo’s Coney Island was known for its delicious Greek salads with extra feta cheese, gyros that were to die for, and the extra rice pudding you got to take home at the end of the night because you frequented the place so often.

 

The owner knew how to do business. A very friendly man with a strong accent, he knew us well and gave my sister and I free chocolate mints (normally 50 cents), extra pita and rice pudding for the road every so often. (Our weekly dinners were paying off!)

 

My family and I would regularly meet our friends there for Friday night Greek salads (dressing on the side, extra feta), lemon rice soup and some fun and laughter.

 

The soup was warming, and sent my taste buds and imagination to a warm camp fire surrounded by friends giggling and reminiscing of good times had. The Greek salads made me forget about my chemistry homework for a while, and of course the rice pudding satisfied my sweet tooth and gave me a warm fuzzy feeling, like that of Christmas Eve night with excitement and anticipation of Santa’s treasures the next morning.

 

Every time we went to Leo’s, I never wanted it to end. And if you are one of my dear friends who engaged in this cozy weekly event and are reading this right now, you know exactly what I mean. These were the best of times, the moments when time just seemed to stop, and you could really nurture your tummy and your soul.

 

Fast forward to today, I have been having a serious craving for some Leo’s Coney Island food! And I’m not just talking about the famous Greek salad. I’m talking about fried pita loaded with butter, hash browns with a side of OMG-THIS-IS-HEAVEN omelet, and a greasy grilled cheese with a side of chili cheese fries to-go.  I mean, it’s been a really rough month!

 

Because I am so dedicated to my new healthy lifestyle and because I ultimately know that if I did indulge I would feel like “H-E double hockey sticks” for days, I have avoided giving in.

 

But the real question is, WHY was I having these cravings? Where on earth did this come from? I mean, I have not eaten this food in years and I haven’t thought about it in forever. And when I have thought about it in the past, it was a fleeting thought…it came and went. This stuck around for a month or more, and I just couldn’t seem to get it out of my mind. WHY? Why now?

 

From a physical standpoint, it could be argued that my body was craving salt. Craving salt is a sign of an imbalance in the body, and also a sign of weak kidneys.

 

The only problem with this theory is that I was not craving salty food itself. I was craving diner food. I could care less about pizza, or potato chips, or blah blah blah. I just wanted greasy, filthy diner food, straight off that skillet. Bring it on, Leo’s!

 

And as I contemplated possible reasons for this craving, it dawned on me. I wasn’t craving the actual food itself. Instead, I was craving the emotion it brings with it.

 

Those warm fuzzy feelings of Friday night dinners, laughing and reminiscing with friends, Mom and Dad still married, all of us together sharing good old fashioned fun and food. That was it…I was craving moments in time.

 

So obviously I had to deal with the realization that I cannot go back in time, that I have to keep moving forward toward my destiny, that nothing can bring my past back to me no matter what I do, and yadda yadda (let’s just say life is better with therapy).

 

But enough about me, let’s talk about the correlation between emotions and food. The feelings we get when we eat certain foods are incredibly powerful. And this is an actual, scientifically proven physiological response in the body.

 

When we eat something delicious (comfort food), it sends signals to the brain and feel-good hormones (like dopamine) are released. Now, our food is no longer nourishment and nutrition. Our food has become family, Christmas morning, game night at the Millers, that time when we went sledding and then warmed up with some hot cocoa, Dad’s birthday party in 1996, the high school dance, and obviously, Friday night dinners at Leo’s.

 

Comfort food creates patterns. We taste the food, we feel good, we associate it with events, our cells remember how that feels, we are triggered by a certain smell, sight, sound or thought, and now we want more of that food.

 

The cravings you are feeling are normal, valid and very common. Emotional eating is real. We want those experiences back. We want to feel good. We want the warm fuzzies. And the only thing that is tangible is the food we associate with those experiences.

 

Next time you’re having a craving and you don’t know why, perhaps try and explore how that food makes you feel. What emotions come up when you taste it? What past experiences can you recall that might trigger you to want this food or flavor on your taste buds?

 

Remember, it’s not about being perfect. It’s about exploring, asking the questions, and most of all gaining a better understanding of the WHY behind it all. Once we can understand why, we are automatically educating ourselves and therefore becoming empowered to move forward and make the best decisions for ourselves. Understanding the emotions behind the craving will create a great change in perspective. A change in perspective can help us move forward with more self-awareness and ultimately, new healthy lifestyle patterns.

 

What will you do the next time you are having a craving?

 

I’d love to hear from you! Was this article helpful? Tell us in the comments below or contact: andrea@lloveraholistic.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Nutrient Absorption: Why you may not be absorbing nutrition

About ten months ago when I found out I had adrenal fatigue, I began healing on a much deeper level than I ever had before. What started as what I call my “third healing crisis” ultimately led to my next level of education: detoxification. (Click here to read about my third healing crisis.)

 

To some, detoxification can sound like a scary, overwhelming topic. However, I can assure you that detoxification is simple, and is the key to true health and longevity. Not only have I come a long way in my own healing as a result of almost ten months of detoxification, I just recently submitted my Detoxification Certification Exam. I will soon be a Certified Detoxification Specialist and be able to help others on an even deeper level in my practice.

 

One of the symptoms I have been experiencing on my own health journey is extreme thinness. Although this is one of many symptoms, it is an important one because it is linked to nutrient deficiency.

 

I was always taught that (and most of us are) if we are ingesting enough nutrition from food, we are automatically getting enough. But this is only partially true. Nutrient deficiency is most often the result of lack of nutrient absorption in the intestines.

 

Let’s use myself as an example. When I actively began my healing journey at the age of 21, I began eating more nutritiously dense foods. I was sure to increase my fruit and vegetable intake, I took a multi-vitamin, and ate the whole grains that were supposed to be healthy for me. Instead of white bread, I chose wheat bread at the deli. Instead of fried foods, I chose baked. Instead of a grilled cheese and soup for dinner, I chose salad. You get the idea.

 

Although my health began to improve from where it was previously, I still was not well and was not able to fully start getting well until about ten months ago once I started my own detoxification. For years I suffered with high anxiety and depression, digestive issues, extreme PMS (sometimes even a few months’ stretch of skipping periods), frequent sinusitis and bronchitis, asthma, and even a thyroid disorder. (There is more on that list but it is too extensive to list here. Refer to this article to read about my most healing crisis and its array of symptoms.)

 

For most of my time from the age of 21 until most recently, I had been trying to treat symptoms using food…and it just wasn’t working. When I felt depleted I would drink smoothies and juices, and up my raw fruit and veggie intake. This was great progress, but it just wasn’t enough. I wondered why I wasn’t getting better, and knew there had to be an answer…there had to be something more to it that I wasn’t seeing. As it turns out, there was.  

 

When we talk about nutrient absorption, we are referring to the absorption of nutrients that takes place mostly in the small intestines. (A small portion takes place in the large intestine as well.) Along the mucous membranes of the intestines, there are small, finger-like projections called villi, as well as small pores. This is where absorption of nutrients takes place.

 

Most of us have had years and even decades of exposure to dairy, processed foods, gluten, starch, animal flesh, and refined sugars. The human body is not equipped to digest these foods as they are acidic and inflammatory, lack fiber, are void of nutrition and create a sticky “glue-like” substance in the intestines called mucoid plaque. This mucoid plaque is a result of these foreign substances binding together. Not only does this cause an array of digestive issues, it is also much of the reason for malabsorption. Mucoid plaque prevents nutrients from being absorbed by the body as it becomes impacted in and around the pores and villi of the intestines, where absorption takes place.

 

Going back to the example of my 21-year-old self, yes I was starting to feel better, but only in certain aspects. I still had an array of symptoms that would not go away. The reason for this is, I was still eating those offending foods. Yogurt, whole wheat bread, grains, meats and the occasional sweet treat were still regular parts of my diet at the time. No amount of fruits and veggies could make up for that fact. There is no way to “counteract” inflammatory foods with fruits and veggies; the only way to truly heal is to stop eating those offending foods in the first place. Then the body will have a clear path for healing. Just like a house that has been burned to the ground, we must remove the rubble before we can rebuild it. This is called detoxification. This is true healing.

 

So now the question is, how do we get our body to start absorbing nutrients again? The key is in the types of foods we eat and the types of foods we eliminate or minimize in our diet. Fresh, raw fruits and vegetables are the foods the human body was meant to consume. Some nuts and seeds are also beneficial. Eat what nature intended, and you will see great changes in your body, mind and spirit. Dairy, animal flesh, processed foods, grains and starches, and refined sugar should be eliminated or minimized greatly. These only contribute to symptoms of dis-ease and malabsorption.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, this is real life and there is no such thing as perfection. There are holidays, social events, emotional triggers, peer pressure, lack of accessibility, etc. There are inevitably going to be times when we can only do the best we can do in certain situations, and that’s ok. Treat yourself once in a while, and don’t sweat it. But in the grand scheme of things, eating the right foods the majority of the time will bring you good health and a long life.

 

Finally, medicinal herbs can help support the body in the detoxification and healing process. Herbs help heal and strengthen tissues, and support body systems in functioning properly. Herbs are safe and beneficial, but should be used under the care of a qualified professional. Please use herbs with care and caution, and work with a holistic practitioner to find out which herbal combinations are best for you.

 

Above all, YOU make the ultimate decision: health or dis-ease? Begin to educate yourself, and consult with a holistic practitioner for support. Change your diet and empower yourself…the choice is yours!

Was this article helpful? Tell us in the comments or contact: andrea@lloveraholistic.com

 

 

 

 

 

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My Big Announcement: What I Discovered During My Break from Social Media

As some of you may know, I took a break from social media for seven days. I love y’all, but there are times where we just need to step away from the electronics, the outside world and everyone else’s business, and just be.

 

Those seven days away from Facebook made such an impact on me that it sparked some amazing ideas, gave me some much needed peace of mind, and really fed my soul.

 

When we take time away from all the distractions of life, we are able to turn inward and really give ourselves the love and care we need. Not only that, but sometimes we can get some major “epiphanies” (AKA: messages from the Universe), and get some questions answered that we have been asking for quite a while.

 

This is exactly what happened to me…just by taking some time away from all the chatter on social media.

 

I’m sure you might be asking yourself is, what did she do all that time? And the answer is simple. I focused on myself, on the things I love to do most. I filled my heart and soul with all the things that bring the most joy to my life.

 

A lot of my time was spent finishing up some studying on my detoxification course, and practicing my music for choir. I also did some reading (for pleasure!), practiced tons of yoga (sometimes even more than one class in a day), and of course saw clients and kept up with blogging. I did a ton of meditation and inner work, asking myself questions, listening for the answer and watching for signs from the Universe.

 

Little did I know that I was going to get an answer that totally threw me for a loop. About five months ago, I started looking for a part time job. I applied at plenty of places (about 15) I thought would be a good fit, but nothing has worked out thus far.

 

One evening during my break from social media, my husband and I were having a conversation over dinner about why on earth I can’t find a simple job at a book store or grocery store. My resume’ is updated and professional, I have plenty of experience in customer service and I am more than qualified for any job (if you ask me ;) ).

 

And then it clicked: It wasn’t meant to be. It simply wasn’t time for that and the Universe had been telling me that loud and clear…for months. I just wasn’t listening!

 

During this dinner conversation my sweet husband brought up a good point. Here’s a sneak peek of how our conversation went that evening:

 

Husband: Maybe the whole part time job thing just wasn’t meant to be right now. Maybe there’s something else.

 

Me: Yeah, like what?

 

Husband: Well…when did you say Yoga Teacher Training starts?

 

Me: January…why?

 

(Keep in mind that, up until this point I had convinced myself that teacher training was not in the cards this coming year. I made up my mind that I was going to focus all my time on seeing clients, my detoxification course and iridology. Yoga Training would come at the perfect time, and right now wasn’t it.)

 

Husband: Maybe that job isn’t coming your way because you should be focusing on yoga.

 

Me: But, wait…I already decided not this year. I’m focused on my course. And my clients and groups. And traveling…what about our vacation?!

 

Husband: So…?? We will work around your training. Why not now? Why don’t you use your spare time to focus on something you have a passion for?

 

Me: That’s a good question…

 

And so it is.

 

The forces of nature not only brought me to this beautiful place in the Pacific Northwest two short years ago, but they also brought me to yoga. For the past (almost) two years I have immersed myself in the practice. I have felt the true benefits of yoga, not just physically but in all realms: body, mind and spirit.

 

Yoga has helped me heal in countless ways. The intense anxiety I have experienced my entire life is slowly starting to melt away. I feel stronger in all aspects. My fear has subsided. I released so many painful emotions which I was holding onto so tightly for so long. I have found a community of like-minded individuals who hold similar values to me. I have felt the warmth and endless love from this community, and I consider them like family.

 

If there’s ever a day (and there are many) where I feel lost, lonely or afraid, one thing I can always count on is the practice of yoga and the community of love and support around me.

 

I want to help others feel the same way…to know that, no matter the weather, no matter what life’s struggles may bring, we can always turn to our mat. We can always take a few precious moments out of our day to honor our body, mind and spirit, and turn inward. It is here where all the answers lie. It is within our-SELF that we can find true peace…and we can find it on our mat.

 

I will officially begin this amazing journey of Yoga Teacher Training in January 2017. I look so forward to all the learning I’m about to do, and I can’t wait to touch the lives of many with yoga.

 

*Endless thanks to my teachers and mentors who have inspired me to take this leap*

 

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Beet Greens Soup (with chickpeas and spinach)

I absolutely love beets. About every two weeks I bring home a big bunch of them from the grocery store to use for the week. My favorite dishes so far are homemade beet salad and simple oven roasted beets.

 

I also love making fresh raw juice with them. My usual beet juice recipe includes:

 

*Beets

*Apple

*Orange

*Lemon

*Ginger

*Cucumber

 

It’s so refreshing and nutrient dense, not to mention tasty.

 

Where I often get lazy in the kitchen (and let’s be honest, we’ve all been there) is trying to find a way to use the greens and stems from my vegetables, especially those darn beet greens.

 

They contain so much nutrition, not to mention they take up an almost entire shelf in my fridge they are so big and hearty.

 

Last week when I brought home my bunch o’ beets, I took one look at the greens and just knew I could not possibly let them go to waste. I thought about it for a second, and remembered I have a book called It’s All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow (sent to me from my bestie), which contains a great beet greens soup recipe.

 

That very evening I made us Gwyneth Paltrow’s yummy beet greens soup, and added a few little twists of my own. The first part of this recipe comes from the book (which is a wonderful book, by the way, if you are looking for a great place to start with your health, and getting creative in the kitchen), and the last part is my own little twist.

 

You’ll need:

 

*1 white or yellow onion, chopped

*2 cloves of garlic, minced

*1-2 inches fresh ginger, finely chopped (Gwyneth uses fennel instead, which is also a great choice!)

*approx. 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil (Gwyneth uses extra virgin olive oil; I prefer coconut oil for heating)

*greens and stems from 1 bunch of beets, roughly chopped

*6 cups veggie broth

*Himalayan or Celtic sea salt and pepper to taste

My twist…

*1 15 oz can garbanzo beans

*2 large handfuls organic spinach leaves

 

How to:

 

Add coconut oil, onion, garlic, ginger and beet stems to a large pot and heat on medium, about 10 minutes.

 

Add the beet greens to the pot, and a pinch or two of salt and some pepper. Stir everything together.

 

Then add veggie broth and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. You want the greens to be cooked and wilted but still keep their integrity. Transfer mixture to a high speed blender (like the Vitamix) and puree soup until smooth.

 

My twist:

 

Add the garbanzo beans to the blender and pulse at a low speed just a couple times. You want the beans to break apart a bit, but not fully blend. This makes for some great texture!

 

Transfer soup back into the pot, bring to a low simmer and add the spinach, just until slightly wilted (about a minute or two). You want the spinach to keep its integrity but still be slightly soft. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

 

*Bonus twist: Pour soup over some cooked spaghetti squash (as pictured in above photo) and add some fresh avocado. YUM!

 

This soup is vegan, gluten free, and extremely nutrient dense and medicinal. Not only that, but it tastes soooooo good! (Thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow for her wonderful inspiring recipe!)

 

Was this article helpful? Tell us in the comments or contact: andrea@lloveraholistic.com

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