Happy Fall Equinox and Simple Autumn Recipes

Happy Fall Equinox and Simple Autumn Recipes

Autumn officially arrives Friday September 22 at 10:02am ET/1:02pm PT, and darkness begins to dominate in the Northern Hemisphere. Acknowledging this shift, and choosing practices which align with nature's rhythms supports our overall health and well being.

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Recipe: Coconut Mango Dairy Free Frozen dessert.

The sun has really warmed things up in SoCal as we approach the solstice. I've been playing with home made frozen treats in the vitamix, a high powered blender that whips frozen fruit into a creamy non dairy dessert with no ice cream maker needed. A regular blender should work too, just defrost the frozen fruit a bit first. This recipe is super simple with just two ingredients.

Amount per serving:

  • 3/4 cup frozen organic mangos 
  • 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk

Blend the fruit and coconut milk together, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender when needed. Add additional coconut milk, one tablespoon at a time as needed. Serve immediately. 

All varieties of organic frozen fruits will yield delicious non dairy treats without added sugar, but bananas and mangos become super creamy when blended. Let me know what fruits you use!

How To Lighten Up this Spring Part Three

 

 

Your health is more likely to go out of balance during seasonal changes and weather shifts. Take a week or two to simplify your eating and wellness routines in order to clear what’s accumulated over the winter. Just like Spring cleaning your apartment or house, regular maintenance of the physical body in which you live helps keep a clear flow of energy, releasing excess weight and waste, which can contribute to joint pain, digestive distress, allergies, depression, and skin issues.

Since offering the first Reset and Renew online wellness program in 2012, hundreds of participants have reduced their in joint pain, renewed their energy, lightened up and experienced a natural state of joy, Reset and Renew participants cultivate self-care practices and daily routines which improve their health and well being on an ongoing basis. They have a new found awareness of the effect of foods on physical and emotional health.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of cleanses and programs available. I’ve participated in many of them myself. Some are free, so why pay to do a program at all? I have tons of personal experiences to share from the past fifteen years of cleansing, but the biggest benefit of participating in a group program is the support of a community. On our forums and live webinars, you’ll connect with others going through the same process. By sharing personal victories as well as slips, being accountable, asking questions, offering guidance and being vulnerable, you’re part of something bigger; a group of like-minded individuals.

Remember why you’re participating in a program in the first place. Would you like a transformation to feel lighter, less bloated, and release excess weight from the winter without feeling depried? Do you want to have all kinds of energy and get up easily in the morning?  Do you want to feel more calm, stable, and grounded? Would you love to have a quality of life you never thought possible? When you get clear about intentions and share them with a community, it makes all the difference in the world. Investing in your health and well-being also creates accountability and commitment.

One of the challenges in participating in a program to improve your health is that friends, family and co-workers aren’t doing the same. They’re going about their normal routines, and eating and drinking as they always do, and it’s common to feel self-conscious. Without being accountable to a group, it’s easier to stray from guidelines or even drop out completely. It’s simpler just to follow the masses when you don’t have support. Plus, when you’ve made a financial investment, you’re more likely to take a program seriously; to really dive in. 

For over fifteen years, I’ve been cleansing. The first few years, I was totally on my own, and didn’t know anyone who’d ever done one! I was confused about specifics, didn’t feel great, and when a special occasion arose, I’d go off the program, forgoing the consequences. If I tried to get back on track, it was never with the same precision or interest. I believe I could have experienced even greater benefits those first few years if I’d had group support.

In contrast, when cleansing within a community, when I’ve shared my slip ups, I received encouragement to return to the program, forgive myself, and continue to do my best. I’ve learned strategies on how to successfully handle special events, and insights about myself through others and their own experiences.

When you’re part of a community you’re interacting you’ll receive encouraging responses and helpful suggestions from not just me, but from the group. You learn you’re not alone, and will get wonderful ideas of what to eat and how to take care of yourself.

I warmly invite you to join the Spring Reset and Renew online community! We begin with a week of preparation on April 4. Please email marjorienass@gmail.com with additional questions.

Tips To Lighten Up this Spring Part Two.

Add more greens to your glass, plate and bowl

Preparing healthy food for oneself is an act of self care. Eating more greens, just like moving your body in the morning, is a good year round practice, but especially important in Springtime. By eating nature’s local seasonal bounty, we take in what the earth produces in our ecosystem.

Ensure there is GREEN in more of your meals.

According to Ayurveda, the taste of greens is bitter, which helps us to clear out the excess waste (and excess weight) that's accumulated over the winter months. The bitter taste helps to balance the elements of earth and water, which have heavy, dense and cool qualities that predominate in early Spring. Eating more bitter greens retrains our palates from the Western Diet's predominant sweet and salty tastes. Try varieties of lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collards, parsley and bok choy. Wild greens, including lamb’s quarters, dandelion greens and nettles are often at farmer’s markets, so express interest if you don't find them. Wild greens contain denser nutrients than cultivated greens.

Spring vegetables include artichoke, asparagus, fennel, spring onions, green beans, snap peas and snow peas. Young greens first appear as sprouts and shoots, which contain a highly concentrated nutrient value. Sprouts can be added atop most any dish or even blended into smoothies. 

Drink your greens:

Start your day with an early Spring green smoothie for breakfast.

  • One peeled large citrus fruit like grapefruit or orange (use two oranges if they're small)
  • 1/4-1/2 avocado 
  • 2-3 tablespoons of soaked chia or flax seeds. Hemp seeds can also be used but don't require soaking.
  • 1-2 two cups water

Enjoy the smoothie at room temperature. Cold, icy drinks are difficult to digest. 

Take a few deep breaths before drinking, and savor your smoothie.

Eat your greens:

Enjoy a large leafy green salad as a base for roasted vegetables at any meal. Make greens the mainstay when adding animal protein (preferably the best quality you can find). More often, farmer's markets are carrying ethically raised, sustainably sourced poultry and meat.

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Simple sautéed leafy greens take just a few minutes to prepare. This is a basic blueprint, but add additional veggies or spices for variety.

Heat 1-2  tablespoons of coconut oil, ghee or grass fed butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat.

  • Sautée one cup chopped onions, shallots, or leeks for 5-7 minutes.
  • Add a cup of sliced mushrooms
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Add one to two bunches of greens, washed, de-stemmed, and roughly chopped (when using the stems, roughly chop and cook with the mushrooms)
  • Continue to sautée the greens in the onion/mushroom mixture.
  • Add a few tablespoons of water, or bone broth, cover and steam several minutes.
  • Taste, and season again.
  • Optional: Add balsamic vinegar or coconut aminos (soy sauce alternative) to deepen the flavor
  • Optional: Add toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds (pepitas) for an added crunch

 

Drink your greens at lunch or dinner:

  • Have a simple green soup with dinner, using leafy greens as a base.
  • Blend celery, fennel and avocado, and seasonings of your choice with vegetable broth, bone broth or water.
  • Thai curry paste is an easy way to add more zing to your living green soups.
  • Add a crunch with toasted pine nuts, pecans or pumpkin seeds.

Have fun experimenting in the kitchen as more local Spring produce becomes available.

Please let me know your favorite recipes using greens. Ready to lighten up this spring, drop excess weight, relieve your joint pain, sleep better and have more energy? Join us for the upcoming Reset and Renew Online Group Program starting April 4. 

An Easier Transition to Daylight Saving

Sleep is vital to our health and well being. Losing a full hour when Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday March 12th can be disruptive as even ONE NIGHT of poor sleep can effect our mental and physical health.
 
Spring Forward is great news as it extends daylight into the evening hours. However, at least for the next few weeks, it will still be darker in the morning. This time change, like flying to a different time zone, can wreak havoc on our body's internal clock, leading to mental and physical fatigue. Curious about the history of daylight saving time? Click here for some fun facts.
 
Here's a simple way to help manage the artificial change of time when "losing" an hour. We can avoid the fatigue and depletion from losing the hour with some simple shifts. These practices also apply when traveling through different time zones.
 

This method will help to avoid fatigue early next week:

 
A. Head to bed ten to fifteen minutes earlier than usual, starting tonight.
 
B. Each night this week, go to sleep an additional ten minutes earlier. Arise in the morning ten to fifteen minutes earlier than usual, pushing the time back ten minutes more each day. If you continue to go to sleep at the same time and just wake up earlier, this technique won't be as effective. Following these steps, by Sunday, you'll have reset your internal clock by about an hour (6 nights of 10 minutes = 1 hour total), and the transition to Daylight Saving Time will be easier. You'll be less likely to depend on caffeine and sugar to feel awake and alert next Monday morning.
 

Winter Solstice 2016

The darkest, longest nights of the year occur just prior to the Winter Solstice, when, upon its arrival December 21st, the light begins to return. Since the Summer Solstice back in June, days have shortened, and nights have lengthened. Although the winter season still lies ahead, this portion of the year and ever shortening daylight is likened to the earth’s exhale. The Solstice itself represents the gap between the bottom of the earth's exhale and the beginning of the inhale. After the Winter Solstice, each subsequent day in the Northern Hemisphere lengthens until the Summer Solstice on June 20th, 2017.

On the days just prior to the Winter solstice, there is a gap, a space, where the sun no longer appears to be getting lower in the southern sky as it moves from East to West. It seems that the sun remains at its southernmost, lowest point, and that there's no movement from day to day at all. This where we get the word solstice (sun, still). After the Solstice, In the Northern Hemisphere each day is a bit lighter, and for the next six months, the sun appears higher and higher in the sky,. Being sensitive to nature’s rhythms, by mid-January I notice the subtle shifts of more light each day, as we heaimages-2d closer to spring and the Vernal Equinox March 20th.

I was neither attuned to the rhythms of nature, nor the Solstices and Equinoxes before I began practicing yoga. I experienced November and December as the most difficult months of the year, as my mood reflected the darkness of the season. Aligning with nature's seasonal, daily and monthly rhythms has helped to ceate more balance and ease in all areas of my life. This essential part of yoga lives within the wisdom of Ayurveda. Translated as knowledge of life, the healing science of yoga is essential for anyone who lives in a body. When we observe and acknowledge that at this time of year there is a limited amount of daylight, we can take simple steps to help access the inner light, the tejas, the flame that’s always present within us.

 

Six Steps to Find Balance During the Darkest Time of the Year:

  1. Light candles as soon as it becomes dark in the evening
  2. Upon arising in the darkness in the morning, light a candle, and begin few minutes of meditation, breath practices, or gentle yoga postures.
  3. Eat during the hours of daylight, as the strength of digestion is correlated with the times the sun is highest in the sky. Eat your largest meal in the middle of the day.
  4. Take a walk in the daylight hours, headed south, towards the sun whenever possible, in order to attune with the rhythms of nature.
  5. Head to bed earlier. Turn off electronics an hour before you plan to go to sleep, to promote deep rest and relaxation.
  6. Before bed, give yourself a foot massage using organic oil (sesame oil is a good choice in the winter months as it is warming), to help draw energy down from your mind and into your body. This relaxing ritual will help you to sleep more soundly. Put on socks so the oil stays on your feet and off your sheets.

The darkness during December is a time of moving inwards, of contemplation, and planning for the upcoming year. How do you want to feel in 2017? (Use this time  to create an intention for the New Year). I wish you a happy Winter Solstice! Please share your practices for this time of year in the comments, below.

Simple Ways to Eat Better (Without Changing What you Eat): Part Three

Number 3: Just like WHEN and HOW you eat, WHERE you eat affects digestion, and overall health and well being. Sit down while eating.

HOW you eat makes a difference, and within that, you’ll notice WHERE you eat is important. Without making time to sit down and eat, you’re liable to gobble the food wherever you are; standing, driving, or on the subway. Although I now live in San Diego, I still use my half century as a New Yorker for reference. If we’re not sitting and eating, we’re in fight or flight mode, period, and healthy digestion is impossible. Creating an optimal space WHERE you eat may require planning, but it’s a simple, (albeitnot easy), habit to improve your overall health and well being.

For most of us, eating while at the computer or TV, reading, or scrolling through social media is the norm, just like the woman pictured below. As I wrote in the HOW of eating, if we're not focused on the food, our body doesn't receive the message it's being nourished, and cannot digest, absorb and assimilate optimally. We'll often feel hungry soon after eating.

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.

Do you give yourself permission to take the time to eat or is the rushing self imposed?

By prioritizing meals and slowing down, we feel better, which ultimately CREATES more time. But

WHERE

you eat will often dictate

HOW

you eat. 

It's best to avoid eating in the same spot you're usually doing something else,

because we're reminded we need to get back to the task at hand. This bad habit is one I've struggled with since moving into my new apartment in La Jolla. I prefer working at the table in my main living space, because of the light. Since it's also near the kitchen, I began to eat there too, and found myself rushing. It's an ongoing process, but I now enjoy more of my meals at a table outside, which I'm lucky enough to be able to do most of the time!

Be creative and make small, simple shifts:

  • Swivel your chair around so you're facing away from the desk and computer.
  • Make a plan with a friend or colleague for a meal away from the office.
  • Eat outside, weather permitting, or inside at a community space or cafeteria.
  • Eat while seated, at a table. You'll naturally slow down and be more present to the HOW of eating.
  • Avoid eating while driving. If you're pressed for time, at least stop the car. 
  • Give yourself the time to eat and focus on the food. Chewing and swallowing is essential to create the environment the body needs to absorb and assimilate food.

Remember, it’s NOT what we do occasionally that matters as much as what we do most of the time that affects our health and well being.  

Simple Ways to Eat Better Without Changing What you Eat: Part Two

Part TWO: The HOW of Eating

Eating a meal is not something to “get over with”. Instead, choose to savor your food.

Are you a slow, fast, or moderate eater? For many of us, (myself included!) eating quickly can be one of the hardest habits to change. Food is a part of the environment OUTSIDE our body. When we take food into our body (ie, EAT) it goes through the process of digestion, absorption and assimilation, and becomes our skin, muscles, our brain and organs! Eating isn't something to get over with in order to move onto the next thing! It IS the thing.

The process of eating, digestion, absorption and assimilation is incredible. Plants, or animals that ate plants, transform to become our body, an amazingly intimate process. This understanding has helped me to consciously choose to eat “real” food, and skip “food-like” substances which ask the body to digest what doesn't exist in nature. Recently, this perspective turned on a light bulb with one of my clients, and helped him slow down the rushed eating patterns in his life.

There are two states in which we live, number one, in stress response (sympathetic dominance), and number two, in the relaxation response (parasympathetic dominance). It's not possible to exist in both states simultaneously. When driving, walking, scrolling online, or even thinking about a stressful situation, our body is not relaxed, and cannot optimally digest, absorb and assimilate the food we’re eating. We can improve HOW we eat by mindfully establishing the relaxation response when eating.

Recently, a friend and I were reviewing the proofs of her new book at an outdoor cafe. When the soup arrived, pages were spread around, so we moved the bowls to the side. For the next five minutes, without eating, we enjoyed the beautiful orange tomato soup drizzled with green basil oil and the aroma. It was a wonderful practice of savoring the food and moving into relaxation response, which prepares the body to optimally digest, absorb and assimilate a meal.

Digestion starts in the brain. Our digestive juices and enzymes begin to flow before anything ever enters our mouth, so preparing a meal ourselves actually helps with digestion. If you ever feel hungry not long after eating, it could be because your awareness wasn’t on the food, and your body literally didn't get the message that it had eaten.

If feeling extremely hungry causes you to eat quickly, first drink a glass of room temperature (not cold or iced) water. Drinking 10-15 minutes before you eat is optimal. Hunger is often disguised as thirst, and drinking water is one strategy to help you slow down.

TIPS ON EATING MINDFULLY

  1. Take at least three deep breaths before eating.
  2. Commit to sitting down and focusing on eating without any distractions.
  3. Look at the food and smell the aroma.
  4. Recognize, with gratitude, all the steps involved for the food to arrive on your plate, especially if you did not prepare it yourself.
  5. Set a timer. Whether for 15 minutes or up to 30, extend the period of the meal. It’s a process, and taking more time to eat will yield benefits including better digestion, which can improve your overall health and well being.

Remember, it's NOT what we do occasionally that matters as much as what we do most of the time that affects our health and well being.  The Reset and Renew online program is Three Weeks of Nourishing Self Care to Learn to Live Better in Your Body. 

 

How to Eat Better (Without Changing What You Eat): Part One

Maybe you think you generally eat well. Perhaps you make it a priority to eat really healthy food. Wonderful! But optimal health is not only about WHAT foods you’re eating, but WHEN and HOW.

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Five Things I Learned from My Fifth Metatarsal Fracture

My relocation to the West Coast did not begin as planned. Instead, literally starting off on the wrong foot, less than ten minutes after getting off the plane and while still in the airport, I fractured the fifth metatarsal of my right foot. It’s been a long, two months plus of recovery, but I’m happy to say I’m walking on both feet once again, free of a cast, boot and crutches!

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