Warming Ayurvedic Kitchari

Let me first disclaim that I am by no means and Ayurvedic health professional, just a gal who likes to research wellness and add some things into my routine if they work.

Kitchari (pronounced kich-uh-ree) is a traditional cleansing food of Ayurveda, the ancient, holistic health science of India. It has long been used to nourish babies, the elderly, the sick, and the healthy during special times of detox, cleansing, and deep spiritual practice. With a combination of basmati rice, split mung dal, and warming spices, this dish is comforting and satiating. Every so often, I make a giant pot and do a kitchari cleanse - that’s right, nothin’ but bowls and bowls of kitchari for several days. It gives my digestive system a chance to reset and cleanse. Unlike juice cleanses, kitchari is delicious, nourishing, and keeps me full throughout the day.

benefits of eating kitchari

IT’S TRI-DOSHIC

This warming dish is balancing for all constitution types. Not sure your specific dosha? Find out more about that here.

EASY TO DIGEST + NOURISHING

The combination of basmati rice and mung dal provides all the essential amino acids needed to form a complete protein. The protein content of kitchari supports stable blood sugar levels (crucial for us hormone-balancing gals!) so that energy and mental clarity are balanced during the cleansing process. Taking a mono-diet of primarily kitchari for several days gives the digestive system a chance to reset because the diet is so simple.

REMOVES TOXIC BUILD UP

Mung dal has an astringent (dry) quality which has a natural pulling action that helps remove toxic build up from the intestinal lining. This particular pulling action is much gentler than the harsh or abrasive “scraping” that can happen with cold or raw foods, particularly raw vegetables. Once the toxins are loosened from the body, it’s essential that they are properly eliminated. Split mung dal provide 15grams of fiber per 1 cup serving, thus making it easy to move the toxins through the G.I. tract and out of the body.

GUT HEALING

With 95% of the body’s serotonin produced in the gut, it’s clear we process our stress through the intestinal wall. Chronic stress will irritate the intestinal wall and compromise digestion, the ability to detoxify through the gut, and cope with stress. During a kitchari cleanse, the digestive system can heal. This gives the body a chance to reset and restore.

REMINERALIZES THE BODY + ANTI INFLAMMATORY

I’ve been particularly enjoying this kitchari cleanse during my menstrual phase because of the anti-inflammatory properties and the ability of the dulse/kombu to remineralize the body. During menstruation, our bodies lose a fair amount of iron and zinc which can be easily reintroduced into the body through the addition of seaweed. The addition of turmeric in this recipe also provides some wonderful anti-inflammatory properties, great for decreasing those pesky period cramps. It’s no secret that heat is a wonderful way to alleviate cramps, and I find that eating warming foods and dishes while menstruating decreases my cramps substantially.

warming Ayurvedic kitchari

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice

  • 1 cup split mung dal

  • 1 tablespoons avocado or coconut oil

  • 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard seed

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin seed

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth

  • 5 cups filtered water

  • 2 sheets of kombu or dulse (or any seaweed)

  • Veggies of choice - I like to use broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and kale

HOW TO MAKE

  1. In a heavy-bottom dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add in your spices, stirring for about thirty seconds to wake up the spices.

  2. Add in the rice and mung dal and stir for another thirty seconds, making sure they’re coated with the spices and oil.

  3. Add in your liquid (you can omit the veggie broth if you don’t have it, but I find it adds a nice flavor), and bring to a boil.

  4. Once the mixture is boiling, add in the sheets of kombu or dulse and reduce to a simmer.

  5. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the rice and dal have absorbed most of the liquid.

  6. Add your heartier veggies (broccoli, carrots, cauliflower) about halfway through the cooking process and stir leafy greens in at the end.

  7. When the kitchari is finished, dispose of the dulse/kombu.

  8. I like to top my kitchari with cilantro, avocado, and tahini paste. Enjoy!

With love and light xx

Tips for Resetting Your Mind + Body After Traveling

If your summer has been anything like mine, it's been jam-packed with weekend getaways and a bit (or more than a bit) of overindulging. As someone who keeps a pretty routine schedule from day-to-day, this can do wonders to my digestive system, brain function, and overall mental health. I've created some magical memories this summer, and have become so in tune with my body that I'm able to reset rather quickly after ingesting foods and drinks that aren't a part of my typical routine. 

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I recently took a little weekend trip up to my family's cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan - it was magical, dreamy, and the perfect rejuvenating weekend that I needed. I spent my time floating in the lake, reading, napping in a hammock, laughing til my ribs hurt, and indulging in all the gluten/alcohol/sugar/snacks my heart desired. Needless to say, I woke up feeling a bit like a beached whale on Monday morning. But, I didn't freak out as I normally would have a couple of months ago. I've quickly come to realize that the experiences and memories outweigh the physical symptoms tenfold.

symptoms I experience

There are a slew of symptoms that I can experience after my body has been out of its typical routine. These include:

  • Bloating
  • Brain fog
  • IBS or IBS-C  
  • Breakouts
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Inflammation

These may not be the same symptoms others experience, our bodies are all different. But we could all benefit from a little body reset after a well-deserved vacation.

how I reset

PHYSICALLY

  1. Green juice. This is a great way to reset your metabolism, lower inflammation, stabilize blood sugar, and quick start proper digestion. There are also so many benefits for the skin (post-vacation breakouts really blow) and this helps me de-bloat on those extra puffy mornings. Recipe is here.
  2. Hot water with lemon. Every morning I sip on this to kick start my metabolism and detox the body.
  3. Lighter, simpler meals. There's no need to overcomplicate anything, just a few ingredients will do the trick. Chances are, your body is already working overtime trying to digest, so adding even more foods into that equation could stress your body out even more. Avoid raw foods if they're hard for your body to digest and gravitate towards warmer, cooked meals. 
  4. Fiber-rich foods. Getting both soluble and insoluble fiber is essential for proper digestion, and both can be found in plant-based foods. Soluble fiber is liquid-absorbing and filling and can be found in oats, berries, beans, chia seeds, and flax seeds. Insoluble fiber helps move things through the bowel/shuttle all the crud out and can be found in vegetables, brown rice, or wheat. 
  5. Get your gut in check. Gut health is a hot topic today, but it's being talked about for a reason. The bacteria in your gut line your entire digestive system and affect everything from your metabolism to your mood to your immunity. Incorporate more fermented and fiber-rich foods into your diet and lower your sugar intake which can kill the good bacteria. When your gut bacteria is off, it can cause bloating, IBS, IBS-C, anxiety, depression, inflammation, and a slew of other symptoms. The gut-mind connection is no joke, peeps.
  6. Hydrate. Seems like such a simple thing, but often times we forget to drink water throughout the day and after filling up with sodium-packed foods and alcohol, that post-vacay body can pack some serious bloat. Drink tons of water (half your body weight in ounces is the recommended amount) throughout the day to help flush out excess toxins and release that extra weight and bloat. I carry a 40oz HydroFlask with me everywhere so I'm always reminded to sip!
  7. Eliminate foods that cause sensitivities. When I travel I tend to consume foods I don't typically incorporate into my diet. For me, these include gluten, processed sugars, alcohol, and processed food (Skinny Pop where you at). I used to be very rigid about eliminating these foods all the time, and while I definitely feel the affects after consuming them, it's not the end of the world to consume them in small quantities while on vacation. But, I know that I feel my best eliminating these foods 95% of the time. Becoming aware of the foods that cause sensitivities for you is super important if you find that you're experiencing some of these symptoms on a more consistent basis. Try eliminating gluten or processed sugars for a couple of days, reincorporate it into your diet, and notice if anything happens. Maybe nothing will, but that's the trial and error type of practice that needs to take place to become aware of these things. 

EMOTIONALLY/MENTALLY

Adaptogenic smoothie bowl with ashwagandha and cordyceps

Adaptogenic smoothie bowl with ashwagandha and cordyceps

  1. Rest. It's so important not to push yourself too much, especially the first couple of days after you're back. Maybe there's a workout class that you religiously attend on Monday mornings, but if you're body is still readjusting, you're just going to stress it out even more. If your sleep schedule has been thrown out of whack, sleep in a bit longer or take an afternoon nap without guilt. Be okay with allowing yourself to rest and take things slow. 
  2. Adaptogens. They're a specific group of healing plants that support your health and adjust your body to natural stressors. I find that incorporating specific adaptogens into my diet really increases my mental clarity, digestion, and alertness throughout the day. As always, do your research and buy from reputable brands such as Sun Potion and Mountain Rose Herbs. Some adaptogens I like to incorporate into my diet include: ashwagandha (soothes the nervous system and boosts mood), reishi (supports immunity), triphala (supports digestion), and cordyceps (supports brain, kidney, and liver function). Start small by incorporating a half teaspoon into a smoothie or your morning latte.
  3. Say no to things you don't want to do. I find that this is so important for my mental health. If the thought of engaging in something causes anxiety or irritation, I inherently know that I will not be present and authentic. It's okay to cancel plans to make time for yourself. Take this time to practice some type of self care, whether it's a bath, reading, napping, or creating. This will recharge your mental clarity and allow for you to be more present when you're around others. 
  4. Meditate. Take just five minutes every day to sit and be still. If your mind is full of thoughts and ideas, let it be full. There's a misconception that your mind needs to be completely clear or blank in order to practice "proper" meditation, but this is not the case. Meditation for me is a time to sit, to be present, to tap inward. These have been some of the most pivotal moments of personal growth and not one time was my mind completely clear. There's merit in calming the mind through various breathing and mindfulness techniques, but there's also merit in simply sitting and breathing. 
  5. Routines. Whether it's my skin care routine or meal prepping, this is a sure fire way to get me back on track mentally. I covet my routines and when they're out of whack, I tend to get antsy and anxious. I'm one of those travelers where the second I get home I unpack everything and get my apartment back in working order, even if it's 1am. For some people, this may heighten their anxiety and stress, but for me, this is insanely therapeutic. Find a routine that brings joy to you and make it a priority. 

The biggest tip I have when it comes to resetting your body after traveling is to have self compassion. It can be easy to get caught up in the self deprecating thoughts such as "I shouldn't have eaten that" or "I shouldn't have drank so much alcohol," but it's important to remember that these are not life-altering things. Yeah, you might feel uncomfortable for a day or two, but chances are you created some beautiful memories, as well. I used to get so stressed out about getting my body back to normal that it would completely overshadow the experience I just had. It was almost like it never happened. Learning to soften around those times of rigidity has helped me reset quicker and more positively.

With love and light xx

 

 

Chickpea + Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Whether it's a holiday or just a random Sunday, I love to bake. There's something so soothing and therapeutic about it for me. Since I changed my diet, I haven't been baking as much simply because I like to avoid sugar - but sometimes a gal needs a sweet treat and these do not disappoint. These sweet little nuggets are vegan and free of gluten, grains, and refined sugar and so friggin' delicious! There's also some added protein in there from the chickpeas - it's a win win. The best part? You can swap out the nut butter with whatever you have in the pantry (peanut, almond, sunbutter, etc...) - it's so easy!

Happy baking y'all!

Get yourself a napkin to wipe up that drool

Get yourself a napkin to wipe up that drool

INGREDIENTS

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  • 1 15oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup creamy cashew butter
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

HOW TO MAKE

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line one baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.
  2. Add all of the ingredients except for the chocolate chips to a food processor and blend for about a minute until dough is well combined. The dough should be smooth and creamy.
  3. Transfer the cookie dough to a bowl and fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Using a spoon, scoop dough into balls and place evenly on the cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on the cookie size. The tops should be golden brown.
  6. Remove and let cool.
  7. Enjoy with a tall glass of hemp milk - yum!

Do you like to bake?

With love and light xx

Natural Remedies to Relieve Period Cramps

For some women, period cramps can be completely debilitating. They can cause nausea, migraines, diarrhea, and interfere with everyday life activities such as work or relationships. According to Alisa Vitti, the author of WomanCode and creator of FloLiving, period cramps cause the US Workplace to lose $2 billion annually; they are nothin' to play around with.

Prior to September of last year, I had been on birth control for almost ten years. I got on birth control in hopes of controlling my cramps because they were so terrible when I was first experiencing my period in middle school. I remember having sharp, shooting pains in my abdomen that felt like someone was stabbing me - no thanks. This, coupled with other symptoms such as nausea, hormonal acne, and overall fatigue, made getting on the pill an easy decision for me. That little pill had been chemically controlling my hormones for me and I never once experienced a period cramp while on it. I even chose to skip my period for a whole year while I was traveling abroad; crazy, I know. Not having to deal with a period interfering with my life seemed awesome at the time until I started getting more into holistic living last year. I quickly realized that I had been using birth control as a bandaid for almost ten years to cover up these symptoms and fears. Fast forward to September of last year when I made the conscious decision to get off of birth control and the cramps flooded in with full force. 

After I stopped taking birth control, I lost my period for almost five months. I had spotting here and there, but my full, regularly scheduled periods were long gone. However, I was still getting cramps. My body wanted to bleed, but my hormones were so confused it didn't know how. This was so incredibly frustrating for me and I had many moments where the thought of getting back on birth control seemed like the best idea. Why am I doing this to myself? I'd think. But I wouldn't allow myself to go back down that path. I had already read the book WomanCode (two times), which was my reason for getting off of birth control in the first place, and had been cycle syncing for a month. I was dedicated to healing my body the natural way. 

My periods these days are still a bit late, but are pretty normal otherwise. I do still get cramps for about the first 24-36 hours of my period, but they are nowhere near as painful or excruciating as before. Since I'm all about those natural remedies these days, I have an arsenal of tips and tricks I use when Aunt Flo is visiting for the week that make my period less painful and more enjoyable. 

WHAT ARE CRAMPS?

An elevated level of Prostaglandin E2 trigger menstrual cramps while the uterus is contracting and expelling during the menstrual cycle. Prostaglandins are a group of fatty acid compounds with different hormone-varying effects, the most notable being period cramps. 

I find that my cramps vary depending on my levels of self care and overall lifestyle balance. When I am on top of my diet (eliminating sugars/gluten/soy/dairy/eggs/meat), managing my stress and anxiety consciously, exercising regularly and according to my cycle, and regularly practicing self-care routines, my cramps are significantly less than if I were to throw that all out the window. Basically, the strength of my cramps depends on how I treated myself that month. I've observed that if I steer from those lifestyle choices, my period cramps are significantly worse, I get more hormonal acne, and I experience traditional PMS symptoms such as mood swings, night sweats, breast tenderness, etc... To keep myself in check, I track my symptoms and cycles on the MyFLO app to get in better touch with what I need and how I feel. It's the coolest thing to experience your body healing first-hand.

NATURAL CRAMP REMEDIES

ESSENTIAL OILS

I use essential oils for different aspects of my lifestyle (anxiety, abhyanga, etc...), but giving myself a belly massage while having period cramps may be the greatest use I've found thus far. Clary Sage is antispasmodic, meaning is naturally treats spasms and muscle related issues, such as period cramps, by relaxing the nerve impulses that we can't control. Rub a few drops of clary sage with a carrier oil (coconut, jojoba, almond, etc...) between your palms and then gently massage your lower abdomen/upper pelvic region in a counter clockwise motion with light to medium pressure. It works wonders! I've also applied this on my inner thighs, hips, and lower back when cramps are really intense.

DIET

By now, you probably know that I'm a huge proponent of having a healthy, well-balanced diet full of whole foods. This has made a huge difference in my overall lifestyle and allowed me to get my period back after it was lost. Western medicine can be quick to cover up symptoms with a pill or a shot, but that's simply a bandaid and doesn't address the true, underlying hormonal imbalance. After reading the book WomanCode cover to cover many, many times, I learned that there are certain foods that you should enjoy during the different cycles your body goes through. During menstruation, Alisa Vitti recommends foods higher in fatty acids to get more PGE 1 and PGE 3 into your diet since our levels of PGE 2 (as mentioned above), are already elevated. I also find that eating warmer meals such as roasted veggies, soups, overnight bircha, or kitchari during my period makes me feel my best.

FOODS HIGH IN ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

  • olive oil
  • flax seeds
  • chia seeds
  • nuts (walnuts, almonds)
  • pumpkin seeds
  • hemp seeds

FOODS TO ADD INTO YOUR DIET

  • seaweed (dulse, wakame)
  • mushrooms (all kinds)
  • kelp
  • reishi mushrooms (I like Sun Potion)
  • miso

FOODS TO AVOID

These foods can cause excess inflammation and I've found that avoiding them causes less painful cramps. For many of us, we immediately reach for sweets or junk foods while on our period. But, I've actually noticed that the deeper I get into cycle syncing, the less I crave these foods.

  • dairy
  • soy
  • gluten
  • alcohol
  • processed sugars
  • caffeine
  • raw vegetables in excess
Food chart from  WomanCode  - what to eat and when to eat it. I keep one of these on my fridge and reference it daily.

Food chart from WomanCode - what to eat and when to eat it. I keep one of these on my fridge and reference it daily.

HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE!

H2O is the healer of all healers. During menstruation, us ladies lose a lot of liquids from our uterine lining and it's crucial to constantly be replenishing them. Dehydration during your period can actually worsen symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and brain fog. Avoid drinking sugary beverages and opt for big glasses of water, it's a quick fix.

GENTLE YOGA

During menstruation, your body is working overtime and your energy levels are low. Forcing yourself to do high intense cardio or cycling is not what your body needs during this time. Incorporating gentle yoga poses into your daily routine is beneficial, especially when you're on your period. I would not recommend doing any inversions while you're bleeding, as your uterine lining will travel back into your body. But some gentle yoga poses such as child's pose, supine twists, happy baby, supine butterfly, and camel pose can all help with pelvic discomfort. If you want more gentle yoga sequences, YouTube is full of free tutorials.

CHILL OUT

Know when you need to rest. Honor this time during your menstrual cycle and allow your body to release. It can be hard to relax and unwind in a fast-paced world. We tend to feel like we need to always be doing something or always stay busy but we rarely give ourselves time to just chill out. By tracking your cycles on the MyFLO App, you can plan ahead in preparation for your menstrual cycle. Get the hard, time consuming tasks out of the way, avoid planning a lot of social events around this time, buy yourself a bath bomb, and get the Netflix ready. Instead of scheduling gym time, schedule journaling time, meditation time, bath time, and nap time. Giving your body a chance to rest actually relieves a lot of the inflammation we can experience during menstruation. Low stress = low inflammation = less cramps. Science.

I'm a huge proponent of self-care every single day, but take a little extra time for yourself during your period. Simply recognizing and honoring the process of menstruation is a beautiful act of self-care.

How do you treat your period symptoms?

With love and light xx

Juicer-Free Green Juice!

Juice! It's a 3.4 billion dollar industry and the "juice cleanse" craze has taken over our society. With some bottles going for $10 a pop, it's an expensive habit that lures people in with aesthetically-pleasing packaging and weight-loss focused slogans. I've never been too keen on juice bars; why spend all that money when you can make it at home?

Just creepin' in the reflection.

Just creepin' in the reflection.

I've been incorporating this green juice into my mornings for the past couple of weeks and now I'm addicted. The best part is that you don't even need a juicer! Juicers are messy, clunky, take so much extra time to clean and set up, and demand counter space that is not readily available in a tiny apartment.

This juice is zingy and slightly spicy from the ginger, which is anti-inflammatory and boosts immunity (I always add extra because I'm a ginger fiend but feel free to dial it back if it's not your favorite). It's also low in sugar and keeps the blood sugar levels stable. Often times, folks begin their day with sugary cereal or yogurt, which can cause a huge spike in your insulin. For all my ladies out there struggling with hormonal breakouts/acne, high blood sugar is directly connected to acne; higher blood sugar in your body means more of the hormone insulin which means pesky breakouts. I've noticed a huge difference in the overall appearance of my skin as well as the amount of breakouts I get from when I started drinking this juice daily.

Drinking this juice in the mornings also gets things movin'. If you're someone who struggles with constipation, incorporating this juice into your diet will help eliminate toxins and keep your body more regular. The cucumber and celery in the juice keeps the skin hydrated. Back to hormonal breakouts, if you're constantly covering your breakouts with creams and potions in attempt to dry them out, you're not giving the breakouts a chance to heal. Keeping your skin hydrated (and letting it breathe!) is crucial for clearing up those blemishes. Even if you're not struggling with breakouts, glowy, hydrated skin is the best kind!

BENEFITS

  • Anti-inflammatory. 
  • Boosts immunity.
  • Stabilizes blood sugar levels.
  • Decreases hormonal acne.
  • Gets your digestive enzymes flowing. 
  • Hydrates.
  • Increases energy.

Lets get to it!


Ain't nobody got time to strain lemon seeds.

Ain't nobody got time to strain lemon seeds.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4-5 ice cubes
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 5 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 4 inch nob of cucumber, chopped
  • 2 inch nob of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 a green apple
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Big handful of parsley
  • Optional: 2 inch piece of fresh aloe vera, peeled and chopped (extra skin food!)

HOW TO MAKE

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a high-speed blender (I recommend a Vitamix or NutriBullet) and blend for about 1 minute. There will be some froth so you can either wait a couple of minutes or scoop it off of the top with a spoon if you're impatient like me.
  2. Pour into a glass and enjoy! 

*Note - this juice does contain some pulp since the ingredients are kept whole. If you're not a fan of pulp, you can simply strain the juice through a nut-milk bag and it will be much more smooth!

*Note - this recipe makes about 5 cups of juice. I drink the whole batch every morning, but you can certainly divvy it up and enjoy it throughout the week, instead!

I hope this juice leaves you feeling energized, refreshed, and rejuvenated!

With love and light xx

Tips and Tricks to Beat Bloat + IBS-C

We all know the feeling of being so bloated that you can hardly button your pants. As the day goes on, the gas gets worse and your stomach turns into rock hard bloat instead of rock hard abs - the worst. This takes a toll on the body’s digestion and your mental health - feeling good on the inside = feeling good on the outside. 

There’s a difference between feeling full and feeling bloated. Sometimes we can eat a little too much at mealtime and feel like our stomach is at full capacity, but that’s not the same as when your body is having a hard time digesting and you feel like you’re about to burst even when you haven’t had anything to eat. Ever wake up feeling like you have a concrete block of gas in your stomach? That’s full on bloating. This happens when you’re eating the wrong foods at the wrong time and your body can’t digest the nutrients fast enough. 

This can also lead to some pesky IBS-C symptoms, aka constipation. This can be incredibly uncomfortable and is quite unhealthy. Constipation is when the bowels sit in your digestive tract for too long and the body begins to reabsorb the toxic elements back into the bloodstream - yikes. Eliminating within 30 minutes of waking up is said to be a surefire way to know you've beat the IBS-C symptoms.

Lemon H2O all day erryday 

Lemon H2O all day erryday 

MY HISTORY WITH BLOAT AND IBS-C

I used to experience some degree of gas and bloating every single day. I never tried to do anything about it because I just thought that's how my body was supposed to feel after eating three meals a day. My bloating would be so intense throughout the day that I would have to unbutton my pants when I got behind the wheel and would have sharp shooting pains in my abdomen. 

I also experienced some pretty gnarly constipation and would go days and days without eliminating (sometimes as long as a week). This, of course, added to overall discomfort and really took a toll on my overall health. Back then, my diet was not great. I had been a vegetarian for 10+ years and switched over to veganism about 1.5 years ago, but I was eating a ton of gluten, soy, processed sugars, processed foods, raw salads, onions, garlic, and drinking wayyyyy too much alcohol almost every weekend and hardly any water. I've since found in the last 6 months or so that these things all contribute to my bloat and IBS-C issues. I've eliminated these foods from my diet and can almost instantly feel the effects when I consume them. I talk about this more below, but taking the time to find out what foods your unique body is sensitive to is so, so important if you want to banish the bloat. 

Since I've changed my diet and my meal routines, I hardly experience any bloat and I eliminate every morning within 20 minutes of waking which was completely unheard of for my body before. Food is truly medicine for the body, peeps! Now, there are times where I might overindulge or eat some of the foods that I eliminate on a daily basis. I am, after all, only human and sometimes a girl just needs a Justin's Peanut Butter Cup to brighten her day. But, by using these tips and tricks that I've listed below, I can banish the bloat and constipation more quickly and with more success than I did before. 

TIPS FOR BETTER DIGESTION + BEATING BLOAT

  • Drink lots of water. Every morning I drink 30oz of room temperature water with lemon before I do anything. On mornings where I’m feeling a bit more bloated I drink hot water with lemon. This helps detoxify the body and gets things movin’. Get yourself a large reusable water bottle (I use a 40oz HydroFlask) and make it a goal to drink at least 2-3 of those a day. Even if you're not feeling thirsty, drink that H2O.
  • Read into your hunger cues. This has helped me a ton. Before, I would wake up and immediately eat my breakfast within 20 minutes. I felt like I had to because breakfast is “the most important meal of the day.” Right after I would finish an average sized breakfast of either oats or a smoothie bowl, I would feel so uncomfortably full and the bloat stuck around all day. These days, I don’t eat breakfast until I actually feel real hunger cues, which is usually up to 4-5 hours after I wake up. I'll have my matcha after I finish drinking some water - usually around 7:00-8:00am - and the coconut butter holds me over for awhile. It has helped my digestion a ton and helped relieve most of those pesky constipation symptoms I was experiencing before. By doing this, I'm giving my body the time it needs to digest and process before giving it more work to do.
  • Look at your diet. This is most likely the number one cause of bloat and indigestion. A lot of us get stuck in certain food patterns and aren’t truly aware of the foods that our body is sensitive to. It takes a lot of trial and error, patience, and dedication, but it’s so worth it. I’ve found that onions, garlic, dairy, gluten, soy, processed sugars, and some nightshade vegetables do not agree with my system. I’ve eliminated animal products and gluten completely but occasionally have the other ingredients and can immediately feel the effects on my body. If you're interested in finding out more about food sensitivities, try an elimination diet or look into the Clean Program 21-Day Cleanse to reset your body. Experiment with eliminating one food (i.e. gluten) for a few days, add it back in, and then notice the effects. Maybe there aren't any, and that's okay, too.
  • Take your time eating your meals. This is something I’m still struggling with. I grew up around family members who eat incredibly quickly, so it’s kind of engrained in my mind so scarf down my meals in no time. It takes a lot of mindfulness to slow down, be present, and really taste the foods you’re eating. Breaking down the food more before swallowing speeds up the digestion process. When I eat a meal a little too quickly, I immediately experience gas (burping) and I can feel my body working a little bit harder to digest the meal.
  • Make herbal teas your friend. Drinking warm or hot liquids throughout the day, especially after meals, helps the body break down what you’re putting inside of it. It takes a lot more energy for your body to digest cold water than it does room temperature/hot water. I like to sip on licorice tea, peppermint tea, ginger/turmeric tea, or hot water with lemon.
  • Lean more towards smoothies and warm, cooked meals. Whenever I’m trying to reset my digestive system after a weekend of overindulging, I avoid cold, raw meals like the plague. It’s takes your body a heck of a lot longer to break down a big salad than it does to break down a warm meal. I’ll still eat cold condiments such as kraut or kimchi, but I like the base of most of my meals to be warm. Smoothies are an exception here, though. I find that since the ingredients are already broken down, my body doesn’t have as hard of a time digesting them. If I'm going to eat a salad (because they are delicious), I try to have it for my lunch so my body has more time to break it down. I almost never have cold or raw dinners, as I find it takes a toll on my body and I will, most likely, wake up feeling bloated as heck.
  • Move your body. Stagnant body = stagnant digestive system. It’s no secret that exercising makes you feel better all around. Even if you feel like the bloat is weighing you down, take a gentle walk and allow for the crud to move through you.
  • Get some beauty sleep. Getting enough sleep is crucial for proper digestion. While we sleep, the liver is breaking down the nutrients from that day and preparing the body to function properly the next day. If your sleep patterns are all off or you’re only sleeping from 2am-5am, you’re not giving your body enough time to break down the food you ate the day before. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule makes a world of difference.
  • Cut back on the sugar and alcohol. The hardest task of them all and one I’m still struggling with all the time. Sugar is more addicting than any narcotic on the market and is in virtually everything, making it so, so hard to avoid. Alcohol is a super social thing in our society and it can feel really isolating when you’re the only one not drinking in a group. But, these are moments where you can really tap into what you want to do, not what’s seen as socially acceptable. Not to mention, hangovers are brutal and it feels pretty dang nice to wake up and be able to function without a pounding headache and nausea. I get sugar hangovers, too. 
  • Give yourself a belly massage. This works wonders when I feel bloated or have cramps during my period. I use some clary sage essential oil and apply moderate pressure in a circle motion to my low abdomen (or wherever you're feeling the bloat the most).

TIPS FOR BEATING IBS-C SYMPTOMS (CONSTIPATION)

  • Take a daily probiotic. This goes along with getting your gut bacteria in a healthy place. Include more fermented foods in your diet, as well, and you’ll find you’ll have a much more regular poo schedule. 
  • Drink lots of water. Noticing a pattern here? Water is nature’s best healer. Flush that poo out one sip at a time.
  • Develop a routine eating and sleeping schedule. Schedules can get hectic and I know how stressful it can be when you’re running around and still have to get a meal in. But, if you’re eating dinner at 10pm one night and 5pm the next, it’s going to throw your body out of wack and it’s going to take longer to adjust. Try to meal prep as much as you can so you have stuff on hand for quick and easy meals. Same goes for sleep, try to get to bed by 10pm every night and avoid sleeping in too long.
  • Ashwagandha. I put this healing plant in my matcha latte every morning and find that it speeds up the elimination process if I haven't already gone. You can also add a teaspoon to a smoothie, oatmeal, or bulletproof coffee.
  • Eat more fiber. One of the easiest tricks in the book. Eat a tablespoon of flax meal at every meal, add more legumes into your diet, and get those veggies in!

Beating those pesky bloating and IBS-C symptoms really is about how much you're willing to change in your diet and eating patterns. Maybe it starts with simply drinking more water and incorporating a probiotic pill into your daily routine - you certainly don't need to do a 180 overnight. But, if you are experiencing some of the symptoms I talked about, my hope is you can take a few tips from this post and start feeling like the best version of yourself.

With love and light xx

Vegan + Gluten Free Seed and Nut Bread!

Today I'm finally sharing the recipe for this dense, thick, and super nutritious seed and nut bread! This recipe is 100% inspired by Josey Baker's Adventure Bread - I just offer a few substitutions here and there.

Vegan and gluten free bread can be very hard to find in grocery stores, and when you do find it, it's insanely expensive and usually pretty crappy. A lot of them fall apart and taste like cardboard, quite frankly. Other than the Sprouted For Life breads that I buy on occasion, I've been making this delish seed and nut bread for a couple of months now and love it. It's super filling and thick so one loaf lasts awhile for me (sometimes...).

Feel free to get creative and add more or less of one ingredient. The recipe is pretty forgiving so if I don't have a particular nut or seed on hand, I just swap it out for another one or add double the amount of one I'm already using. It's also pretty painless to make and takes hardly any time to prepare - my kinda recipe. Have fun with it!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 C sunflower seeds
  • 3/4 C walnuts
  • 1/2 C pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 C almonds
  • 2 1/2 C gluten free oats
  • 3/4 C ground flax
  • 1/2 C ground psyllium husks
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons Himalayan pink salt
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 C avocado oil (can sub with olive oil or coconut oil)
  • 2 1/2 C filtered water

HOW TO MAKE

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop the larger nuts into smaller pieces and place on a baking sheet with the sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Toast for 15 minutes or until golden brown - keep an eye on them because they'll burn quick!
  2. When the nuts and seeds are finished toasting, combine all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Stir well to make sure everything is incorporated. The mixture should be mushy.
  3. Prepare a loaf pan by coating the bottom and sides with oil, then dump the bread mixture into the pan. Press it down slightly so all the ingredients are tightly packed together. Cover and let sit in the fridge anywhere from 10-24 hours.
  4. To bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and allow the bread mixture to come back to room temperature before baking it for 60-70 minutes.
  5. Put your patience pants on and let the bread cool for 2 hours before cutting into it - it's hard but worth it!

Top a toasty slice with anything you'd like - make it sweet or savory! Enjoy!

Half a slice topped with smashed avo + everything but the bagel seasoning and half topped with Coconut Cult probiotic yogurt and fresh blueberries - so gooooood.

Half a slice topped with smashed avo + everything but the bagel seasoning and half topped with Coconut Cult probiotic yogurt and fresh blueberries - so gooooood.

With love and light xx

Simple Self-Care Ideas to Boost Your Mood

Anyone else feel like winter dragged on for a bit too long this year? The dark, dreary days seemed to never end and I found myself majorly feeling the effects of that - the winter blues are no joke. I let a lot of my daily self-care routines fall to the wayside too often and put others before myself a lot. 

No matter the time of year, it’s important to incorporate self-care routines into your daily life. I find that when I’m down-in-the-dumps or in a funk is when I need these acts of self-care the most. There’s a reason you feel more refreshed and revitalized after a yoga class or after eating a meal full of whole, nutritious foods. These things matter and make such a difference. 

These are also little snippets or time where you can recenter, relax, and rejuvenate - either alone or with others. We have a tendency to always being doing things for others or going places with others, but we sometimes forget to pay attention to our own needs. It's important to spend some time alone and be okay with it.

CARVE SOME TIME OUT OF YOUR DAY TO JUST BE WITH YOURSELF AND ENJOY YOUR OWN COMPANY.

Self-care has gotten a bad rap recently. With people saying “I cant believe you spend that amount of money on a manicure” or “You should act your age and spend your Saturday nights hitting up the town,” it can be really easy to second-guess yourself and start to believe you’re not worthy of doing these things. That you should be putting others ahead of yourself. Well, let me tell you something:

YOU ARE WORTHY OF HAVING OR DOING ANYTHING THAT BRINGS YOU JOY AND PEACE.

With that being said, it’s important to note that not all acts of self-care have a price point attached to them. You don’t always need to buy things to feel joy - this is something I’m constantly trying to work on. Something as simple as eating your breakfast in silence without your phone can be a great act of self-care. But let’s not get it twisted, a good manicure can make your whole week.

I’ve put together a short list of simple things you can incorporate into your days to add a little sweetness into your life. 


Jungle baths are where it's at

Jungle baths are where it's at

Create a peaceful shower or bath routine.

This is a great time to become in tune with our body's needs. Whether you choose to bathe at the beginning, middle, or end of the day, it's an opportunity to unwind, release, and, quite literally, cleanse. For me, bathing has shifted from something I feel like I need to do to something that I want and get to do, just for me. Bathing can be one of those mindless times throughout the day where you turn on autopilot mode and go about cleansing your body in the usual sequential order while thinking about all the stressors of the day. But what if you really tapped into your body's needs every day? Chances are they're not the same from one day to the next. Fill your space with candles, essential oils. and music. Start cleansing your body outside of the shower, as well. I've been dry brushing for some time now and have noticed a great difference in my skin's texture and appearance - it's brighter, smoother, and my cellulite has decreased. I tend to dry brush before my shower, but it can be done post-shower, as well. After you bathe, it's crucial that you do some sort of abhyanga, or self oil massage, to moisturize your skin. This can be such a soothing and somewhat meditative practice that allows you to become intimate with your body - your home. 

Stretch. Move. Meditate.

This is so freaking important. When we become stagnant, we tend to feel more irritable, achy, and lethargic. There is a direct correlation between your mood and moving your body. This can be as simple as incorporating a few yoga poses into your morning routine before you get out of bed, or trying out a new workout class once a week. Meditation doesn't mean you need to sit on a pillow and stare at a wall for an hour. I find that cooking and reading are both very meditative for me. But, there is something to be said for taking just 10 minutes out of your day to sit, breathe, and focus inward. Often times we get so caught up in our fast-paced lifestyles that we let our thoughts fall by the wayside. Sitting with those thoughts and exploring them is transformational. I leave a yoga mat out in my apartment at all times so I'm always reminded to stop and recenter myself. There are so many wonderful meditation apps if you prefer guided meditation. Calm, Headspace, and Insight Timer are some of my favorites. Often times, fitness studios have great deals, sometimes including a free first class! Do some research, put your confidence pants on, and get movin'.

Opt outside.

Sunshine cures all blues am I right?! Once the weather started turning the corner for spring and the sunshine showed its face a little bit more each day, my mood instantly boosted. Whether it’s a ten minute walk after dinner or an afternoon hike on the weekends, I cannot stress enough the importance of exploring the outdoors. Taking some time to experience nature has been proven to reduce stress, fear, anger, and depression and increase feelings of positivity, joy, and pleasure. Search for a new park in your area, find an interesting podcast to listen to while you stroll around your neighborhood, or take your lunch break outside if you're stuck indoors all day. Notice the smells, colors, and feelings that come up while you're outside and tap into that. With warmer weather approaching, one of my favorite things is to take a book to a local park, set a blanket down, and bask in the sunny rays (with sunscreen on, of course). Such a peaceful way to spend an afternoon. Getting outside and unplugging from the chaos of everyday life is crucial for our mental health.

Plants. Plants. Plants.

Anyone else talk to their plants like they're your children? Just me? Plants in the home or at your office desk are an instant mood booster. They're beautiful, vibrant, and give you something to take care of and watch thrive. If you're new to the plant life, I would recommend purchasing more resilient plants, such as snake plants or succulents, that can thrive with little attention. Another great tip is to wrap a bundle of fresh eucalyptus around your shower head - your shower will instantly turn into a spa! Plants are also great for improving the air quality in your home and can reduce stress levels. Plus, they're so aesthetically pleasing! My apartment is starting to look like a jungle and I'm 100% okay with that.

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    Tidy up your home.

    When things are out of wack in my apartment, it almost instantly carries over into my life. I feel disheveled and unorganized and it sends my anxiety spiraling down a 60-foot cliff. Now, to the untrained eye, I keep my apartment and things very clean and organized. But I know my space like the back of my hand and if just one thing is off, I can sense an energetic shift throughout my whole home. Creating and maintaining a clean, clutter-free (start the spring purge, folks!), and organized environment is very satisfying and, chances are, will spill over into other parts of your life. Spend a Sunday afternoon going through your closets and cabinets and choose to donate things that no longer serve you. If you haven't worn a shirt in 5 years, chances are someone else could benefit from wearing it more than you. It feels really freaking good to let go. 

    Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

    There's a reason you feel sluggish and crappy the next day when you've only gotten four hours of sleep and you're thriving off of energy drinks. Getting enough quality sleep plays a huge factor in our immunity, hormones, and overall health. In Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, the hours between 10pm and 2am are dedicated to the Pitta dosha. During these hours, the liver begins detoxing the body and preparing it for the next day. The body also takes this time to make sense of the emotions and mental experiences you had throughout the day. Trying to get to bed either before or right around 10pm is a great way to set your body and mind up for success the next day. Some other tips for a good night's sleep include: setting your phone aside an hour or two before bedtime, reading before bed, having hot tea or an adaptogenic tonic, or practicing some sort of meditation. This can include seated meditation, abhyanga (self oil massage), or simply practicing a few restorative yoga poses to prepare the body for rest. This is a rejuvenating act of self-care that we can practice every single day. You'll wake up feeling refreshed, well-rested, and you might not even need a drop of caffeine! 

    Make yourself some tea or an adaptogenic latte.

    There's something so peaceful about making yourself a warm beverage and taking a few moments to relax and settle. I've incorporated this into my night time routine a couple of nights a week when I have more time. Adaptogens are great for adjusting the body to natural everyday stressors and I incorporate them into my diet every single day. I love to sip on turmeric-ginger tea, chamomile tea, peppermint tea, or this nighttime triphala latte to aid with digestion. 

    Nighttime Triphala Latte

    • 12oz non-dairy milk
    • 1 teaspoon triphala
    • 1/2 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon 
    • A dash of cardamom
    • 1 medjool date
    1. Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender like a Vitamix and blend for 2 minutes.
    2. Transfer liquid to a saucepan and heat on medium heat until warm.
    3. Pour into a mug and enjoy!

    Delete all social media apps from your phone for a day.

    This is crucial for mental health. Social media has the biggest effect on our mood and self-confidence. One moment you're innocently scrolling through Instagram and the next you're comparing yourself to fitness models and self-depricating. It's a vicious cycle. Practice becoming more mindful about the accounts you're following and how they make you feel about yourself. Experiment with choosing one day out of the week and deleting all social media apps from your phone. Notice how it feels to have an entire day to yourself without the hustle and bustle of notifications, emails, or the stress of how many likes you get on a picture. It will clear your mind and set you up to have a calm and peaceful day.

    Cook yourself a healthy, nutritious meal.

    I’m not going to lie, I haven’t been meal prepping and eating kimchi for my whole life. It took me awhile to truly adapt a healthy, nutritious diet. Ever heard of a junk food vegan? That was certainly me before I started seeing a nutritionist last August. She opened my eyes to so many new foods and, more importantly, the effects those foods have on your body and mind. When I find that I’m getting particularly overwhelmed or stressed, I turn to sugar. With sugar being more addictive than virtually any narcotic on the market, you can see how one medjool date turns into two and so on and so on… This often times leaves me feeling sluggish and bloated. Support your healthy gut bacteria by eating fiber rich foods (flax seeds, legumes, or almonds) and fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, or kombucha). You'll quickly notice that you feel more rejuvenated and energized when you choose greens and healthy fats over a drive-thru meal. 

    Sautéed kale and broccoli with Banza chickpea pasta,  cashew cream, and nutritional yeast.

    Sautéed kale and broccoli with Banza chickpea pasta,  cashew cream, and nutritional yeast.

    Find your creative outlet and flourish.

    Finding something you can put your time and energy into and actually enjoy in the process is extremely fulfilling and joyous. Start a journal, find a new hobby, do that thing you've always wanted but never had the courage to. Maybe you dedicate the first 10 minutes after waking up in the morning to journaling, or you spend some time before bed working on your website. Whatever it may be, incorporate it into your daily routine and let it stick. Set reminders if you have to. Notice the feelings that come up when you create space for these things.

    Laugh.

    Surround yourself with people who make your ribs ache from laughing or watch a funny tv show or movie. I find that laughing instantly lightens my mood if I'm feeling especially rigid and tense and it actually alters the cortisol levels in our body which can decrease stress and fight off harmful free radicals. Sounds like a good trade-off, huh? 

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    Whether it's a face mask, a phone call with your mama, or getting a massage, I encourage you to do something that brings you joy every single day - your body and mind will thank you.

    How do you practice self-care everyday?

    With love and light xx 

    The Best Vegan Pesto Recipe

    I whipped up this pesto recipe one night as I was scrambling to make dinner and had some basil in the fridge that needed to be used up. I threw all the ingredients in a food processor and audibly gasped when I tasted it - it’s freaking delicious! I try to always have a fresh batch on hand, swapping out the nuts to benefit whatever cycle I’m in. 

    Sautéed spinach, flax tempeh, and purple cabbage with Banza chickpea pasta and walnut pesto - yum!

    Sautéed spinach, flax tempeh, and purple cabbage with Banza chickpea pasta and walnut pesto - yum!

    Basil is packed with antioxidants and antibacterial properties, and provides a healthy dose of vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, and magnesium. It’s also an important medicinal herb in many traditions and has been used in Ayurvedic herbal treatments for thousands of years.

    The addition of nutritional yeast, or nooch, in this recipe adds a nutty, cheesy flavor among a slew of health benefits. Nooch is packed with B-complex vitamins (super important for vegans and vegetarians to incorporate into their diet) and contains folates, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, selenium, and zinc. It’s one of the tastiest superfoods! Just one dollop of this green sauce is a tasty, nutritious addition to any meal - not to mention it hardly takes any time to whip up.

    Toast with smashed avocado, walnut pesto, and hemp seeds

    Toast with smashed avocado, walnut pesto, and hemp seeds

    Vegan Pesto Recipe

    INGREDIENTS

    • 1 cup fresh basil, packed
    • 1/2 cup walnuts (can sub with almonds or pine nuts)
    • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
    • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
    • Salt + pepper, to taste
    • 1/4 cup avocado or extra virgin olive oil

    Optional: 1 clove of garlic or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

    Optional: 1/4 cup hemp seeds (aid in digestion/additional protein)

    HOW TO MAKE

    1. Place all ingredients except oil into a food processor and blend until combined.
    2. While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in your oil of choice until desired consistency. You can add more or less oil depending on how thick you’d like it to be.
    3. Place in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to a week. You can also freeze the pesto into ice cube molds to prolong the shelf life and make for easy meal prep! Just pop as many cubes as you'd like out and add to a skillet with your favorite ingredients.

    Add a dollop to your favorite pasta, sautéed veggies, salad, or avocado toast - I literally put it on everything. Enjoy!

    With love and light xx

    Lemon-Turmeric Bliss Balls

    Now that spring is (kind of) here, I'm craving light and fresh flavors. I always keep bliss balls on-hand for snacking, so I decided to add a little lemon to the recipe to freshen up the flavor. They're easy on the eyes, too.

    These little nuggets pack a mighty punch. They're great before or after a workout, as an afternoon snack, or added on top of a smoothie bowl. It's hard to stop at one...

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    Lemons aid in digestion and are a great source of Vitamin C.

    Turmeric contains curcumin which has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and is a strong antioxidant. It also adds a vibrant, yellow hue to these bliss balls. Curcumin is fat soluble, so the addition of coconut shreds and coconut butter helps with the absorption of this compound. 

    Chia seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and provide fiber, iron, plant-based protein, and calcium.

    Let's get to it!

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    Lemon-Turmeric Bliss Balls

    Makes about 12 balls

    INGREDIENTS

    • 3-4 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
    • 1 cup coconut shreds
    • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
    • 1 tablespoon coconut butter
    • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
    • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
    • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    • 1/2 cup almonds
    • 1/2 cup cashews
    • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
    • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

    HOW TO MAKE

    1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until combined. It should resemble a wet dough.
    2. Form the dough into balls - feel free to switch up the sizes for different hunger levels! You can use a tablespoon measuring cup or small ice cream scooper if you want more uniform balls.
    3. Place in an air-tight container in a single layer to prevent sticking and pop them in the refrigerator.

    These are great on their own or you can top them with nut butter or coconut yogurt. They're low in sugar and packed with good fats - so satisfying!

    With love and light xx