The holidays can be a wonderful time of year, brimming with happiness and love. And yet for many reasons, it can also become a particularly emotionally charged (positive and/or negative) or stressful time. Between obligations, year-end work demands and more, it can be easy to get caught up in doing all of the things you are responsible for doing, as well as focusing on others’ needs.

So it’s a good time to remember to keep yourself balance as much as possible, check in internally, and take care of yourself. If you aren’t feeling and being your best, you’ll suffer first and the most, and it will trickle elsewhere in your life. Self-care is not selfish – it’s vital for your own well-being!

Stress is important to acknowledge. It is a reality that we all must deal with on relative levels, typically more often than we’d ideally like – so it’s incredibly important to know how to deal with it better from preventative or proactive, and reactive, standpoint. While it’s impossible to completely remove or control external stressors, we can learn how to shift our perspectives, perceptions, self-awareness and self-care to better manage such things. Stress is only as bad as we left it affect us. We are our reactions, and with some work, we can learn to process external stimuli and situations differently in a healthier way that becomes much easier and more productive.

Keep in mind that our emotional/mental and physical selves are not separate entities – when one is stressed, the other is impacted as well; conversely, helping one can help the other too – so it’s important to always take care of both.

Here are some ideas to consider. Some may be best employed as “in the moment” diffusers, some are helpful as preventative or ongoing practices that are best if done daily – better equipping you to deal with stress.

15 Simple Self-Care Solutions to Minimize and Mitigate Stress

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Hearty Miso Soup

by letthegoodin on December 8, 2014

Hearty Miso SoupMaybe you’re still feeling a little full post-Thanksgiving. Maybe you have chilly-weather sniffles. And/or maybe you just love warming, nourishing delicious soup. No matter the reason – this is the soup to make, now. Beautifully murky miso soup is a favored offering at Japanese restaurants, but don’t wait until you’re out to eat to have it – make it yourself, and you’ll never look back. And this recipe includes more vegetables (way more scallions! KALE! carrots! mushrooms!) for a heartier, more satisfying bowl. Low maintenance, high flavor.

Note: The brand of miso you use will impact the overall flavor, so try different brands until you find one you like. Also, you can use just about any seaweed in here. Wakame is particularly great – it adds that signature brininess to the broth that marries with the miso so well. And like many sea vegetables, wakame is full of important nutrients.

Recipe: Hearty Miso Soup (makes about  4 servings)

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This is so exciting!

One of my (if not my most) favorite DVD programs is Travis Eliot’s “The Ultimate Yogi”. Whether you follow it as a guided 108 day program, or use it at your own pace, it’s a wonderfully supportive and effective home program that really touches on all elements of yoga and can guide you through a major body/mind shift.

Udaya Yoga (which has a massive online catalog of yoga classes) has shared on their YouTube channel for free this video, also viewable above, which is the entire cross training session from “The Ultimate Yogi” DVD set.

If nothing else, it’ll show you just how much of a workout yoga can be! But that aside, something I love about Travis’ teaching style is even through a tough workout, he always keeps form and true yoga principles at the core of his instruction. It is well-balanced, and works from the inside out.

No matter your level of yoga experience or exposure, I strongly encourage you to check this out – take it slow, listen to your body and do what you can. I think and hope you’ll like it as much as I do!

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Spicy Sesame Peanut Buckwheat Noodles with Vegetables and Tofu

Peanuty, sesame-tinged sauces so nicely compliment a tangled plethora of vegetables and noodles. And the flavors can be be wonderfully varied by by playing around with ingredients and quantities. I think I make it a little differently every time, but it never disappoints!

A few years ago, I shared a recipe for cold & spicy sesame salad, and I recently made a slightly tweaked version of it: Spicy Sesame-Peanut Buckwheat Noodles with Julienne Vegetables and Roasted Tofu (vegan + gluten-free). I made the sauce very similarly, but modified by using rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil and adding in a tablespoon or two of Sambal hot sauce instead of a fresh hot pepper (which I didn’t have on hand). I also made about 1.5x the amount in the original recipe.

For the veggies, I had a ton of julienne vegetables. I often tend to roughly chop or dice, but thought it might work well to mirror the cut of the vegetables to be more similar to the noodles accompanying them, allowing for consistent fork-twirling when consuming. My OXO serrated peeler did the trick for ribboning the zucchini, carrots and cucumbers, and I thinly slivered everything else by hand.

For the noodles, I used 100% buckwheat soba noodles by Eden Foods. Buckwheat has so many great qualities: it tastes wonderful, should be tolerated in people with gluten sensitivities as it is not actually wheat-based (though it’s always best to assess carefully on an individual basis), high in good-quality protein (including all essential amino acids), and high in flavanoids (especially rutin) – among much more. It can be a little finicky to cook though, so make sure you have plenty of water in the pot to prevent the noodles from clumping together.

In total, this fed 3 of us with plenty of leftovers remaining.

Hot or cold, freshly made or as leftovers – this recipe doesn’t disappoint!

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Healthier Pumpkin Squares

by letthegoodin on September 25, 2014

healthier pumpkin squares 3

As mentioned in my last post, I love fall. Across the country, it’s a season that to me reveals itself beautifully… changing leaves, cooler nights, a generally cozier feel. Also with the onset of fall comes an onslaught of pumpkin everything… including another recipe here. I couldn’t resist.

healthier pumpkin squares 2  healthier pumpkin squaresWhile I don’t really like pumpkin “flavored” (aka artificial) things, which unfortunately is what is usually pumped into coffee cups or takes up much of the real estate on grocery store shelves, the real deal is one of the unique foods that to me can seamlessly translate into a sweet or savory recipe, and has a unique warming richness to it.

Unlike most pumpkin breads/bars/cakes, which while delicious can be heavy and overly laden with sugar or oil, this is a much lighter alternative. Considering it breakfast, dessert or a snack wouldn’t be a stretch by any means. It’s also almost too easy to make – hard to beat a one-bowl recipe!

After you make it, wait until someone tries it (and undoubtedly enjoys it) and then shock them with the “secret” ingredient of chickpeas. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who can truly taste them in there, but they add a wonderful moistness to baked things – not to mention good protein, fiber and other nutrients.

Recipe: Healthier Pumpkin Squares (vegan and gluten free)

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Vibrant Green Uber Juice

September 21, 2014

Fall is such a beautiful, wonderful time of year. My favorite, actually! But it’s also a common cold season, so it’s as prime a time as ever to make sure we care for ourselves and our immune systems -  which we can do in part by staying hydrated, getting proper sleep, managing and reducing stress, [...]

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Skin Care: What’s On the Outside Must Go Inside

September 17, 2014

I’ve paid a lot of attention for years on what I put in my body – but it was only in more recent years that I also started more closely considering what I put on my body. What now feels like a very obvious notion was slower to creep up on me… all that lotion [...]

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Dr. Kim A. Williams: Vegan Cardiologist

August 6, 2014

Dr. Kim A. Williams, the next president of the American College of Cardiology, is getting some much-deserved attention for a recent essay he published on MedPage Today about his experience reversing his high cholesterol by switching to a plant-based diet. He followed some of Dean Ornish, MD’s principles (based on scientific evidence), which he had [...]

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Redesigned Reuben

July 31, 2014

Quickie recipe! A reuben is a wonderful, classic sandwich – but also one that is piled with heavy meat, cheese and creamy dressing. Luckily, like many things, it can easily be made without meat or dairy (and become a bit healthier in the process) while still retaining some of the essence of a traditional reuben [...]

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Buffalo Cauliflower Bites (vegan + gluten free)

July 28, 2014

I don’t know many people who don’t love the tangy heat – varying degrees of heat, that is – of a good buffalo sauce. And of course, buffalo sauce is synonymous with chicken wings. But if you’re like me and you choose to very infrequently eat any meat if at all (and for me personally, [...]

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