Hello friends! I am slowly coming back to reality after my monthlong yoga teacher training retreat. There’s much to share, but in two words: so good. (Oh, and so funny. My abs are still thanking me for the laughs I shared with my new pals.)
I know some of you have been considering doing a TTC program, and I couldn’t recommend it more. I did mine at The Sivananda Yoga Farm in Grass Valley, which is an absolutely amazing place as long as you’re someone who can get with being told what to do, eat, and wear for a month (and if you can roll with a little woo woo, like chanting the names of Hindu gods in Sanskrit and stuff). For this gal, it was a heaven—a total luxury to not think about anything other than my yoga practice.
Anyways, I’m back—and I’m full of beans! Literally and figuratively. And, probably not surprisingly, I’ve returned with a renewed verve for plant-based eating too. (And a serious plan to grow my own food—but more on that another time.)
As I’ve shared in the past, I was a 20-year vegetarian (and on-and-off vegan) until I encountered some health problems a few years back—which I now recognize as a hormonal imbalance due to stress and total energetic depletion. On the recommendation of several practitioners I started eating a little bit of well-sourced meat. It was the right move then, but over time a little bit turned into a little bit more. And if I’m being totally honest, I even started slipping on the sourcing thing sometimes.
But this month helped me reconnect in a big way with all the perks of eating plant foods: from the practice of ahimsa (non-violence) to being kinder to the environment, as well as the benefits to my own physical and spiritual health. It was part of our curriculum (and a final exam question!) to learn about and extol the virtues of a vegetarian diet. (Ok, so they never mentioned glowing skin—but we all know that’s a major plus too.)
And while I’m not swearing off meat entirely—keeping some flexibility around food is important to me, because I do think context can be everything—right now, I’m in a pretty deep love affair with lentils and most things that grow in the ground.
The best part? After years of bloating at the mere sight of raw vegetables and legumes, it seems I’ve finally figured out how to digest this good stuff! Here are my three tips to anyone else who’s had the best intentions to eat more greens but couldn’t quite stomach it…
1. Chew chew chew. I’d never given a whole lot of thought to chewing and tended to eat pretty quickly. But it turns out that chewing is a critical part of the digestive process—not least of all because it lets your saliva do its job—and the more of it you do, the easier a time your tummy will have. It also allows your intestines to absorb nutrients more efficiently; it’s good for your teeth; and it helps you to really enjoy the taste of your food and eat with more consciousness. How much chewing? One speaker on the retreat recommended chewing until you can drink your food. While some foods never quite liquify, it’s a helpful way to think about it.
2. When you eat, focus on eating. I took many of my meals in silence at the farm, sitting under a beautiful weeping willow tree by a pond. While regular life doesn’t generally afford such a picturesque environment, I find there’s a big difference in the way that I eat, chew and digest if I’m distracted by the TV, my computer, or even just conversation. I’m not saying to ignore your family at meal time, but I believe making a conscious effort to focus on the act of eating can be a boon for your body.
3. Snack consciously. I can be a total grazer, and it almost always results in indigestion for me—especially if I throw something down unconsciously around 4pm. So now I’m trying to treat snacks like meals—if I want one, I put it on a plate, sit down, and eat it with awareness. It seems to help!
How much thought do you give to the wheres and hows of eating and chewing? Oh, and happy Meatless Monday!
Let’s talk about clean food, shall we? Specifically, let’s talk about selecting the cleanest of clean foods. The Environmental Working Group is a research and advocacy organization whose mission is dear to our hearts. The EWG provides public information on the health issues associated with toxic chemicals in consumer products. You may know them best for their invaluable cosmetics database, Skin Deep, which indexes and scores products based on their ingredients. (If we had a dime for every time one of us looked up a product or ingredient using Skin Deep…) But did you know that the EWG has been instrumental in bringing awareness to food safety issues as well?
While the EWG believes that the health benefits of eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risk of pesticide exposure, they are doing what they can to help consumers make the best, most informed choices. Maybe you’ve heard of the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list, which highlights the foods with the highest pesticide residue. Did you know that they also publish a Clean Fifteen list? Yep, this is the list of produce with the least pesticide residue.
You know we’re obsessed with clean beauty products, but the real secret to radiant skin is what goes into your belly. Try drinking green smoothies for a week and tell us you don’t see a difference when you look in the mirror. To that end, we are happy to have resources we trust to guide us. Life is busy, and simple tools like the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen help us make smart decisions quickly. So if you’re not already familiar with the EWG, take a look around, bookmark their site, and print out their lists for your shopping trips. Oh and by the way, we heard that a Skin Deep mobile app will be released this fall. Amazing!
Are you familiar with the Dirty Dozen or Clean Fifteen? What resources or tools do you love that we might not know about?
Happy Meatless Monday everyone! This one is short but sweet and has us hankering for a trip to New Orleans.
Current Hometown: New Orleans
Dietary Leanings: Vegetarian, kind of a wannabe vegan except that I really love cheese
Favorite vegetable: Kale!
I belong to the local CSA (shout out to Hollygrove Market and Farm!) and most of what I eat depends on what vegetables I have to use up before they go bad! I am also a student so I try not to spend that much money on food/ don’t have a lot of time.
This morning I…
For breakfast I had oatmeal with cacao nibs, chia seeds, chinese 5 spice powder, coconut oil, and a little bit of local brown sugar (New Orleans has all kinds of crazy stuff that you can get locally!). Coconut oil is delicious in oatmeal! Most of the time its so tasty it doesn’t need sugar, but hey, I have a biochemistry exam today and my brain needs some glucose.
Then for lunch I…
Ate a huge salad, like 7 cups huge. It was local arugula and parsley that I had to use up. I mix it up with olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper, greek seasoning, and garlic powder. I also had some almonds.
Finally for dinner…
I had some pearl barley that I made yesterday with sheep’s milk feta, sun dried tomatoes, capers, and tahini. I love tahini. I also had a satsuma (Louisiana tangerines, so delicious!) I also drink tea like a fiend throughout the day. Today I had Stash Green & White Fusion and Numi Organic Jasmine Green.
Meet Ada! She shares a menu that incorporates end-of-the-summer bounty into dishes that feel more appropriate for fall.
Dietary Leanings: Lots of vegetables with some meat here and there, mostly chicken.
My Favorite Vegetable: Beets!
I like to drink a glass of orange juice straight away after I wake up. Then it’s a cup of coffee, black, followed by a cup of that Maxwell House International Cafe Francais instant coffee. I know it’s full of crap but it’s such a cozy drink. I don’t get hungry until about 10am, at which point I eat my favorite breakfast, toast with plum jam!
For lunch I filled a tortilla with scrambled eggs, salsa verde, and feta cheese. I served this with a bowl of chickpeas with a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper, and olive oil. The protein from the eggs and chickpeas keeps me full until snack time.
I usually want something a little sweet during the afternoon. Lately, the little cups of Chobani greek yogurt are the perfect snack. I like the mint flavor. I also like to have a handful of walnuts with my yougurt. My snack is followed by a cup of jasmine green tea.
For dinner I had zucchini patty sandwiches from a recipe I got from Whole Living Magazine—so sad that mag folded. I actually made the zucchini and chickpea patties a couple of days ago, but the recipe makes a big batch and they taste great for days! Sometimes I don’t even serve these on pita bread and just eat them with fried eggs and a simple salad.
After dinner I enjoyed a cup of chamomile and peppermint tea with a dash of raw honey. Then I ate a small bowl of chocolate coconut milk ice cream. My current favorite treat.
Thanks for sharing your Meatless Monday Menu, Ada! We want to hear from more of you! Send us your Meatless Monday Menu— email@example.com
Name: Frances H
Home: Denver, CO
Dietary Leanings: I’ve been a vegetarian for much of my life, ever since I learned about hamburgers and their close relation to my favorite stuffed animal Moo Moo at the age of 9. I do not currently eat eggs and I keep my dairy/wheat/sugar intake to a minimum, while still allowing myself enough freedom to go out to eat and indulge in a good ice cream now and again.
Favorite vegetable: Toss-up. Avocados steal my heart, but I think they are technically a fruit, so my favorite vegetable is currently beets.
I came home from yoga parched so I drank a big glass of room-temp water, followed by a shot of apple cider vinegar. I put the teakettle on for my earl grey with a splash of unsweetened almond milk and honey. After a shower, more hydration and a spot of tea, I ate a hunk of toasted Manna bread with a whole avocado spread over it, sprinkled with Finnish Citron sea salt. I also ate a small bowl of super ripe cantaloupe and raspberries.
I had a massive bowl of homemade salad consisting of diced heirloom tomatoes, olives, cucumber, dill, parsley, purple onion, chopped mini power-greens, feta cheese and home-preserved Meyer lemons dressed with red wine vinegar, evoo and black pepper. Then I had a hearty serving of a casserole I made the day before. I’m excited for fall and this dish definitely is off that autumnal spirit. It’s a vegan mac’n'cheese variation using butternut squash, nutritional yeast and cashews to make a creamy orange-colored base for veggies and brown rice pasta. For the full recipe, click here.
For a late afternoon snack…
I ate a bunch of green grapes and a few tasty squares of macrobiotic-inspired vegan almond butter and brown rice crispy treats. These are one of my favorite healthy sweet treats to make at home. So delicious and cane-sugar free. For that recipe, click here.
In the evening, I boiled a pot of water with fresh red raspberry leaf and calendula flowers for a healing and balancing herbal infusion. Throughout the day I drink room-temp filtered water, with an occasional glass of cold bubbly water if it strikes my fancy.
I tend towards a larger early afternoon meal/lunch followed by a lighter snack in the evening, especially on the weekdays. This makes my early morning Ashtanga practice much more enjoyable because I feel more energized and lighter in the morning and I find that I sleep better with an emptier stomach.
Thanks for sharing! What’s delicious foods are you inspired by on this Meatless Monday?