Monday Morsels 3/17/14

Happy Monday and Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Welcome to another edition of Monday Morsels, where I share the last week’s happenings in the wonderful world of wellness (say that three times fast).

Recipe

The Paleo Mom aka Sarah Ballantyne posted a link to one of her recipes on facebook this week.  Sarah is a scientist, wife, mother, blogger, and author who is a passionate advocate of the Paleo diet. She is quite an inspiring individual. By eating Paleo, she lost 120 pounds and was able to discontinue the use of SIX prescription medications. As Sarah has personal experience with autoimmune disease, she writes a lot about the Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP). Lots of people with autoimmune conditions, intestinal disorders, or any type of systemic inflammation can benefit from this type of diet. I, myself, have tinkered with AIP and it has helped in my healing. Check out her blog for more info on AIP and other science backed Paleo information! On to the recipe..

Ginger Chocolate Freezer Fudge

This recipe tickled my fancy because I heart ginger.

If there was a “who loves ginger the most” contest, I would be the winner. I love to stir fry with ginger. I love to make fresh ginger tea. I love ginger juiced raw with other fresh organic fruits. I’m starting to sound like Forrest’s best friend Bubba with all of this ginger talk.

I know lots of people can’t stand its strong taste, but I mostly love ginger for its many healing properties. Just to name a few:

  • reduces inflammation
  • reduces nausea
  • aids in digestion
  • soothes an upset stomach

The Paleo Mom’s recipe is well, Paleo-friendly, which means that the ingredients are grain free and squeaky clean. I’ll definitely be giving this recipe a go, and I hope you do too.

Health

Last week, I got in my car after work and was delighted to turn the radio on to hear NPR discussing gut bacteria and Crohn’s disease.

One of the biggest lessons that I have learned from my serious health ordeal is the importance of healthy intestinal flora. Your gut bacteria plays a major role in mediating your immune response. We live in a culture where it is easy and commonplace to get antibiotics (aka killers of good AND bad bacteria) to treat just about every little cold.  Taking care of your intestinal bacteria as a means to health and wellness is very rarely talked about in mainstream news. This segment and article from NPR indicates that things are starting to change.

Many people who have Crohn’s disease end up having parts of their digestive tract surgically removed. If more people were aware that gut microbes play a role in their disease, they could address their conditions by taking natural, less invasive routes to healing. As I have said before, many people are thriving on diets that greatly reduce inflammation and support intestinal health, such as the Paleo diet, Paleo AIP, and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.

Click here to read or listen to NPR’s segment:

Mix of Gut Microbes May Play Role In Crohn’s Disease

I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope you have a great week!

Love and light,

vm

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Monday Morsels 3/10/14

How To Live Your Life in Flow State

Happy Monday, wellness people! While perusing my Facebook feed last week, I came across a brilliant image that presented this idea called the “flow state’, which is defined as the state in which you reach a balance between two things:

  • Being happy in the now
  • Having a vision of the future

You are most productive and effective when in this “flow state”.

I love everything about this image, from the lingo (blisscipline, Brules), to its core values.

It really speaks to me. Since quitting my old job last year, I have enrolled in a holistic nutrition school, started this blog, and landed a newer, better job at a really great company. My life has been a bit of a juggling act, but I have never been happier with where I am in my life both personally and professionally. At times, I do find myself overwhelmed.  There are so many directions I want to take, and I question whether I should be pursuing the paths that I am. However, giving myself fully–my time, my energy–to my passions in life, as tiring as it can be, energizes, fulfills, and excites me.

This visual puts things into perspective and reminds me that I’m on the right path.

If you’re curious, the visual above is based on Vishen Lakhiani‘s brilliant talk called “Why Happiness is the New Productivity”. It is worth your time and I highly recommend watching it here.

In the spirit of “trusting the journey”, I want to leave you with a quote from Steve Jobs.

In 2005, a cousin of mine graduated from Stanford which was the same year that Steve Job’s was a guest speaker. I was fortunate enough to hear his speech. Something he said that day always stuck with me:

 …you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. – Steve Jobs

Love and light,

vm

Monday Morsels 3/3/14

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Happy Monday!

For some of the newer readers here, Monday Morsels is a series where I share recent articles or blog posts on the topics of nutrition, wellness, and clean beauty.

Nutrition

Recently, I read an important article written by Chris Kresser that examines the vegetarian diet from a nutritional standpoint.

A large majority of my audience comes from the green beauty community, which is comprised mostly of vegetarians and vegans, so I thought that this would be relevant to share.

Holistic nutrition is my passion and this topic is in line with my nutritional approach.  Although I may be one voice in a sea of many green beauties, I wanted to share my thoughts.

To all of my vegetarian and vegan friends: Although I am not a vegetarian myself, I respect your choice to eschew meat due to ethical, spiritual, religious and social reasons.

The aim of this post is not to convince anyone to eat meat.

The purpose of this post is to raise awareness about the possible negative health implications of a vegetarian or vegan diet, if not properly implemented. 

Many people who choose to adhere to a vegetarian or vegan diet do so because they assume that it is healthier than diets which include meat. Many people are not aware of the potential nutritional deficiencies that they may develop.

As a side note, I believe that anyone pursuing any type of diet (meat or not) for the sake of health should have a deep understanding of the implications of that diet.

Chris Kresser discusses this in a fair manner and his article is an important read for those who choose to be vegetarian or vegan for optimal health. I should note that the author is a former macrobiotic vegan. Click here to read his article:

Why You Should Think Twice About Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

The biggest takeaway is that thriving on a vegetarian or vegan diet is possible, but it requires an active and meticulous awareness of the nutritional composition of your intake of food.

I Choose to Eat Meat

Being a green beauty blogger, it’s easy to feel like I am the only meat-eating one. I follow a Paleo framework which is a diet that is based on nutrient-dense whole foods.

Foods That I Eat:

  • Grassfed, pasture-raised, organic meat (I consciously purchase ethically and sustainably raised meat whenever possible)
  • Eggs (ideally pastured)
  • Fish and other seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Starchy tubers (sweet potatoes, taro, etc)
  • Fruit
  • Foods that support intestinal health (bone broth, raw sauerkraut)
  • Traditional, unprocessed fats (grassfed ghee, cold pressed coconut oil)
  • Other nutrient dense foods such as organ meats and fermented cod liver oil

Foods that I Exclude From My Diet:

  • Processed foods
  • Gluten
  • Most grains (except white rice) and legumes
  • Refined oils (canola, safflower, sunflower, etc)

What I Value:

  • Ethically raised animals
  • Local, sustainable, and organic food sources
  • Food that is closest to its natural state
  • Food that nourishes the body, supports long-term health, and prevents illness & disease

Why do I eat this way?

As I’ve mentioned before, in 2013, I became very ill with Histamine Intolerance, Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO), and a pathogenic intestinal infection. At the beginning of my sickness, I was incredibly reactive to most foods.

As I struggled with navigating what I could and could not eat, I dove deep into learning about eating to heal your body. More and more, I came across an underlying theme of the importance of eating for intestinal health by eliminating all inflammatory and irritating foods while incorporating nutrient dense foods.

Lots of people, myself included, have turned to eating a Paleo/ancestral/traditional type of diet to cope with autoimmune conditions like Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s disease, and Celiac disease or to prevent these diseases. Eating this way has helped many people not only cope but also thrive despite their very serious conditions. (Read about Danielle Walker of Against All Grain and her inspiring story here).

Autoimmune conditions are on the rise , and I truly believe that it is due to environmental factors as well as the lack of proper nutrition due to factory farming, GMOs, and the prevalence of highly processed foods.

I feel as though the Paleo/ancestral/traditional diet community is misunderstood by the green beauty community. For a long time, I didn’t know how to share my thoughts about this, but once I read Chris’ article, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity.

Eating a Paleo diet has a lot more in common with living a nontoxic lifestyle than one might initially think.  Both require conscious decision-making with the aim of optimal health. Both are environmentally conscious and value food/cosmetics/products in their purest, most natural forms. Both recognize that conventional food/products contain toxins and have a desire to go back to the basics.

I choose to eat meat in following a Paleo framework as it makes me feel like (and actually become) the healthiest version of me. Eating healing foods while excluding inflammatory foods has helped me heal from the scariest, most life-altering health ordeal of my life. Eating Paleo also upholds certain values of mine such as supporting local, sustainable, and ethical farming and food sourcing.

What about you? How do you choose to eat and why?

Love and light,

vm

Monday Morsels 2/24/14

Happy Monday!

I was MIA last week, and it was because of this:

Tahoe

And this:

Tahoe

And this:

Tahoe

I went to the snow (Lake Tahoe) with a group of 12 people, left the laptop at home, and holed up in a cozy cabin. I felt compelled to disconnect for a bit to live life in the moment. Can you relate?

Wellness

This Monday Morsels features a very important topic: SLEEP.

I don’t get enough of it. Getting to bed by 10:30pm is a goal that I am constantly chasing.

Are you one of those people who believe that you can sleep when you’re dead? I used to be one of these people.

I began looking at sleep much differently about a year ago, when I became ill with Histamine Intolerance (debilitating food and environmental sensitivities), a pathogenic intestinal infection, hormone imbalance, (..and I could go on).

Back then, I was sleeping an average of four hours each night, fighting sleepiness at work and then intensely crossfitting 5 times/week. At the time, I treated my body as an unbreakable machine. Was it a coincidence that I was overworking myself and under resting while I became so very ill? I think not.

It sounds so silly to think that I was doing this to myself, but when I was caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, I truly believed that getting to the gym regularly was benefitting me, regardless of my lack of sufficient sleep. I am learning every day how important it is to be kind to my body, to monitor the different aspects of my wellness, and to listen to what my body needs.

If my story doesn’t compel you to get more Zzs, this article might: 25 Horrible Things That Can Happen If You Don’t Get Enough Sleep.

Nutrition

I’m an “a little bit of this and a little bit of that” type of cook. I get in the kitchen, assess what I have, and concoct it on the spot. I love cookbooks, but I often find myself lacking the patience to work from one on a busy weeknight.

Tonight was no exception. My boyfriend and I made pork chops with caramelized onions and apples sautéed with garlic, ginger, and a splash of apple cider vinegar.

Paleo Pork chop with caramelized onion apple

Pasture-raised Pork Chop with Caramelized Onion, Apple, Garlic, Ginger, and Raw Apple Cider Vinegar with a side of Smashed Cauliflower & Carrot

When he got home, he placed the chops in a brine of salt, pepper, and fresh chopped garlic. An hour later, he seared both sides of the chops, and finished cooking them in the oven.

Meanwhile, I concocted the onion apple topping. I knew pork pairs well with apples, and apple cider vinegar seemed like it would balance out the sweetness. Let’s just say it was an experiment gone DELICIOUS. We MMmm-ed our way through dinner and will definitely be making this again.

The pork chops were from our first box ordered from Marin Sun Farms, which is a Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA) that offers local, sustainable, humanely cared for, ethical, pasture-raised, grassfed meat. Check them out if you live in or near the SF Bay Area!

Have a great week!

Love and light,

vm

Monday Morsels 2/10/14

As Valentine’s Day rolls in, I thought it would be fitting for this edition of Monday Morsels to discuss…are you ready for it?

Hacking the Secret to Long Term Desire

I saw a very thought-provoking video on YouTube the other day by Shots of Awe aka Jason Silva.

In this video, Jason Silva summarizes Esther Perel’s TED Talk which explores the keys to long-term desire. Esther Perel is a world-renowned therapist, speaker and author.

Takeaways:

  • Most people are attracted to their partners when they are able to view them as a self-sustaining person rather than one half of themselves.
  • You must create space to maintain desire. Perel describes it as looking at your partner from a comfortable distance. You know this person deeply, yet momentarily, they appear a bit mysterious.

So how do you maintain this comfortable space and mystery? And how do you ensure that you are a self-sustaining individual?

An individual can do this by staying connected to their unique identity which is comprised of their own passions, interests, friends, family, and goals.

It can be quite easy to lose your identity in a relationship as you might find yourself wanting to revolve your life around your partner. (I know I’ve definitely done this.)  Staying connected to your own identity makes you a more well-rounded, self-sustaining, fulfilled, and interesting person, which ultimately enriches your life as a couple and is just plain attractive.

I’ve only scratched the surface of Esther Perel’s very thought-provoking TED Talk. You can watch it here.

DIY Raw Strawberry Cream Truffles

Why buy overpriced Valentine’s day chocolate when you can make your own at home? Kassie of Cloudy Apples on YouTube shared a great recipe for raw strawberry cream truffles which include super clean ingredients such as raw almonds, dates, cacao powder, sea salt, and coconut oil. They look delicious. See?


You can find her detailed recipe here.

Enjoy,

vm

Monday Morsels 2/3/14

Happy February and welcome to another edition of Monday Morsels!

Does anyone else like to watch Groundhog Day when February rolls around? Is it really just me?

How do you not love Punxsutawney Phil?

This edition of Monday Morsels is about self-authenticity and the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment.

Quitting my corporate job and deciding to go back to school to study holistic nutrition was one of the most life-altering, challenging, and rewarding decisions I’ve ever made in my life. Up until this point, I lived my life trying to fulfill the standards and expectations that others set for me. Deep down inside, I always knew that I wasn’t being honest with myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that I became relatively successful taking that road, and the challenges that accompanied it have molded me into the person I am today. However, living with authenticity feels incredibly powerful. I draw such energy and joy in pursuing my own dreams.

What’s driving you in your life? Does your career fulfill and excite you? If not, why? Is there something else you’ve always wanted to pursue but are hesitant to?

Are you living to fulfill someone else’s dream, or are you living to fulfill your own dreams?

These two articles really inspired and motivated me. They hit home and I hope you draw some inspiration from them too.

click here:

I Took A Pay Cut To Pursue My Dream

and here:

The Asian American Quarter-Life Crisis

Monday Morsels 1/27/14

Hello ladies and gents,

How was your weekend? Mine was so much fun.

I thought I’d mix things up with this edition of Monday Morsels and tell you what I was up to this past weekend.

Friday:

My boyfriend and I went on an impromptu date night after work. This is rare, folks. We had burgers at Eureka! in Berkeley. (Of course, I ordered mine bunless.) This was such a rare treat for the two of us. Since I came down with Histamine Intolerance a year ago, I’ve had to be painstakingly careful about what I eat. I can say with certainty that we ate out less than 20 times in 2013. It was nice to eat out together this weekend, blow off some steam, and feel like I was in my 20s again.

“Safe” Restaurant Foods:

Since I’ve been recovering, I’ve realized that a “safe” restaurant food for me is a bunless burger, as long as the meat is of good quality and I omit any sauces.  I generally look for grassfed and organic meats.  Eureka! offers hormone and antibiotic-free meat.  Fries are a guilty treat and usually safe (ish) if they are gluten free.

Roam Artisan Burgers is a Paleo community favorite, so it’s definitely on my radar.

Another safe restaurant food for me is sushi. Just plain old raw fish and a little rice. Hold the soy sauce, tempura anything, imitation crab, and all other sauces.

Which brings me to…

Saturday:

Gorgeously presented Chirashi from Joshu-ya Brasserie

Chirashi from Joshu-ya Brasserie

>> We met up with some good company at Joshu-ya Brasserie. The chirashi I ordered was the most beautiful I’d ever eaten.

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<< We ended the night by watching the movie “Her”. It was beautiful and deserving of the hype it has generated. If you’re thinking of going to see it, go with an open mind.

 

 

 

Sunday:

Gluten free loot

Gluten-free, paleo-friendly Loot!

On Sunday, I attended the Gluten & Allergen Free Expo. I connected with some like-minded individuals, met one of the editors of Paleo Magazine, found some clean beauty brands to get excited about like Lovely Lady Products and Red Apple Lipstick (review coming soon), and got a boatload of discounted gluten free and grain free snacks! It was such a great event. I feel lucky to live in a community where an event like this exists. It raises awareness, brings people together, and supports those who live a gluten free lifestyle.

 

Now without further adieu..Monday Morsels!

Nutrition:

thelowhistaminechef.com

thelowhistaminechef.com

>> Yasmina, the Low Histamine Chef whipped up a stupidly delicious looking Creamy Vegan Dulce De Leche Ice Cream.  This ice cream is Paleo-friendly and uses butternut squash and coconut cream as its base. Need I say more?

alisonvickery.com.au/

alisonvickery.com.au/

<< My friend and fellow histamine avenger, Alison Vickery, posted a recipe for Sweet Potato and Ginger Muffins using banana flour. Alison is a holistic health coach who specializes in auto-immune conditions.

Wellness:

Simona Supekar wrote about how the internet helped her cope with a rare disease. This is close to my heart as her story mirrored a bit of my own. Forward this to anyone going through a difficult to understand illness. Or read this if you have a loved one in your life who is very ill and you’d like to help, but aren’t sure how.  Sometimes just a loved one’s understanding is enough to make a difference. There is support out there if you just look for it.

I hope you have a great week!

Love and light,

vm