Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Chakra Salad Vegan Recipe

Sweet, nutty, crispy and crunchy.

This dense, five vegetable salad with an apple-cider-peanut dressing is a potluck crowd pleaser and perfect nourishment for hot weather.

Summer is the perfect time to gorge on fresh, sun-soaked vegetables.  Raw veggie salads are high in fiber, water, and antioxidants, especially vibrant, colorful ones likes this salad of purple cabbage, red peppers, green onions, and orange carrots.  The density of this salad also ensures that you will slow it down while eating and that your jaw gets a workout.

Perhaps noshing on this salad will provide: groundedness and safety (red root chakra), a healthy sexuality (orange sacral chakra), unconditional love (green heart chakra), and calm and focus (purple third eye chakra). 

If only it were that easy...

It's important to dress your salads with healthy monounsaturated oils allowing for full utilization and absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.  The fats in this salad come from a perfect combination of nuts, seeds, and avocados.

The dressing makes this salad so, at only 30 calories per tablespoon, don't be shy.  Go ahead, dress it up!

For the apple-cider-peanut dressing, whisk together:

1/4 c raw, crunchy peanut butter + 1/4 c coconut (or tap) water + 1/2 c apple cider (or rice) vinegar.

Then add: 3 tbsp. raw honey + 1 tsp salt + 1 tbsp. tamari + 1 tbsp. raw sesame oil.

For the chopped salad (high in vitamins A, C, K, B6, and folate and manganese and phosphorous), toss together:

  • 4 cups purple cabbage - finely chopped or shredded
  • 1 red pepper - diced
  • 5 scallions - mostly green parts, chopped
  • 2 carrots - grated

Top salad with: raw sunflower seeds, unsweetened coconut flakes, and diced avocado
2 cups salad mix + 1 T coconut + 1 T sunflower seeds + 1/4 diced avocado + 3 T dressing = 295 calories, 19g of fat, 9g fiber, 16g sugar, and 9g of protein and a lot of chewing!

Build a Beautiful Summer Salad. (Vegan, G-Free Recipe)

When buying ingredients, be mindful of the labels: the difference between non-GMO, organic and conventional:

Article c/o Elephant Journal
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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What Does Real Love Look Like?

Let’s face it: the definition of love in our society is very different from what actual love is.

If you want proof of this, go see the latest Hollywood romantic blockbuster and then head over to a Pema Chodron or Thich Nhat Hanh talk.
Your mind and heart will be blown away. 

What our greatest spiritual teachers say about love is completely opposite to what society says.  And maybe that’s why relationships can be so difficult and painful sometimes.

If we all learned the difference between real love and “ego love” (as I like to call it), I truly believe we would live fuller lives. 

Real love is incomparable.  And once you get a taste of what it feels like, you will never want the fake Hollywood version again.
So, what’s the difference?  What does real love look like? 

Article c/o Christina Lopes for Elephant Journal
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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

5 Minute Morning Rituals To Leave You Supercharged

"Start the day off right.”  That’s a great sentiment, but how can you create a morning routine that will keep you happy, fit and healthy? We found out. And it’s a lot easier than you might think. Here are 10 healthy habits that will set you up for success for the rest of the day.

1. Stretch

You’d think after a long night’s sleep, that you would instantly feel refreshed and ready to take on the day. But even a good night’s rest can be tough on the body because of the positions we nod off in. According to active.com, sleeping can stiffen the body, and stretching is the way to stimulate and loosen muscle tissues. So go ahead and get right into Child’s Pose and stretch out your back. That in turn will increase blood flow and reduce stress and tension, reports the website. Not sure what to stretch? Go from top to bottom, starting with the neck, shoulders, chest back, quads, hamstrings and calves.

2. Wake Up on Time

Pressing the snooze button, forsaking 10 more minutes of sleep for a rushed morning, a skipped breakfast and the added stress of getting the kids off to school and yourself to work on time, isn’t worth it. Makeuseof.com says that this terrible morning habit can lead to mental health issues, such as anxiety and recklessness, in addition to stress. None of which is a good motivator for working out. Instead the site recommends making sure your alarm clock is effective. Are you more likely to get out of bed with a loud ringing or do you need a more gradual whistle. There are a ton of apps you can try too. It’s really about finding what works for you and to stick with it.

3. Set Your Internal Clock

You know how when you travel your body is set to the clock back home for when it’s time to hit the hay, and when it’s time to rise and shine? Well, for some, that internal (circadian) clock might not be accurate, even at home. And it’s not because they’re lazy or bad people – it’s just who they are. Fitness.com reported on a Harvard Medical School study that discovered those who sleep more than nine hours a night secrete more of the hormone melatonin than those who sleep six hours or less. Check with a health professional to find out if supplementing with melatonin might be right for you.

4. Have a Cup of Lemon Water

An upset gut can wreak havoc on energy levels. So take care of your digestive system with a mug of warm water with lemon. Chatelaine.com suggests that this morning habit “increases the flow of digestive juices, helps to cleanse the body, and resets our pH balance, making us less acidic, which helps reduce the risk of disease.” It may also give your metabolism that nudge it needs in the morning and help combat food cravings.



5. Do Your Workouts in the Morning

The next time you exercise, take note of how you feel before and after. That post-workout glow isn’t just from your glistening (aka sweaty and flushed) skin. Being physically active gives you a huge energy boost. Another benefit: discovergoodnutrition.com says that that early-bird gym sesh gets your heart pumping and the blood flowing, which will help you feel alert.

6. Read in Bed

To get a good night’s sleep, we know to keep technology out of the bedroom. The lit-up screens on our phones and laptops can be too stimulating at night, and the stress from work can also keep us awake. But according to a story on telegraph.co.uk, maybe it’s not such a bad thing to do when you wake up. Reading the news and checking emails are a good way to wake up your mind.


7. Eat an Iron-packed Breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. There’s no doubt about that. But if it’s lacking in iron, you might be setting yourself up for failure energy-wise. Time.com reports: “An iron deficiency can leave you feeling sluggish, irritable, weak, and unable to focus.” It affects the amount of oxygen your body receives. So make sure your breakfast includes foods like eggs, green leafy vegetables, peanut butter, beans or tofu. And have some orange juice while you’re at it. Time says that the vitamin C will help with iron absorption.

8. Dress Like You Mean It

Whether you work from home or do shifts, you still need to put on a “work wardrobe” when you wake up. Forbes.com says that wearing “comfortable” clothes plays with your mind and your motivation. “You’ll still think it’s relax time.”

9. Calm Down and Meditate

A clear head will make you more focused and allow you to tackle all of your tasks for the day. You won’t get bogged down or make excuses if you’re thinking clearly. Take just five minutes in the morning to meditate. Don’t know how? Find a quite place in your home, get comfortable, put on some relaxing music (or not, if you prefer the silence) and focus on your slow breath. Activevegetarian.com says that even just doing this for one minute every day will bring “mental clarity, spiritual well-being and set the stage for the day.”


10. Don’t Sleep in on Weekends

Don’t screw up your schedule with lies that are too long on Saturday and Sunday. Keep to your sleep schedule, even on weekends, says sparkpeople.com. You’ll be able to squeeze in that weekend workout, have a more productive day off and you’ll eventually stop dreading Mondays. Or at least hate them a little less.

Article c/o The Hearty Soul

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Monday, January 4, 2016

Hugs and Cuddles Have Long-Term Effects

The Power of Love
How often do you hug?  Do you like to sit close and hold each other’s hands?  Recent research shows it’s good for your health.  Between loving partners, between parents and children, or even between close friends, physical affection can help the brain, the heart and other body systems you might never have imagined.

For centuries, artists have examined love through poetry, painting, music and countless other arts.  In the past few years, scientists supported by NIH have begun to understand the chemistry and biology of love.

At the center of how our bodies respond to love and affection is a hormone called oxytocin.  Most of our oxytocin is made in the area of the brain called the hypothalamus.  Some is released into our bloodstream, but much of its effect is thought to reside in the brain.

Oxytocin makes us feel good when we’re close to family and other loved ones, including pets.  It does this by acting through what scientists call the dopamine reward system.  Dopamine is a brain chemical that plays a crucial part in how we perceive pleasure.  Many drugs of abuse act through this system.  Problems with the system can lead to serious depression and other mental illness.

Oxytocin does more than make us feel good.  It lowers the levels of stress hormones in the body, reducing blood pressure, improving mood, increasing tolerance for pain and perhaps even speeding how fast wounds heal.  It also seems to play an important role in our relationships.  It’s been linked, for example, to how much we trust others.

Dr. Kathleen C. Light of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studies oxytocin in married couples and those permanently living together.  She and her colleagues invite couples into the laboratory and ask them to spend at least 10 minutes holding hands and talking together about a happy memory, usually about how they met and fell in love.

“What we’re trying to do in a lab situation,” Light explains, “is recreate some of the experiences in real life where they felt close.”

The couples then get their blood drawn and fill out a questionnaire about the quality of their relationship.  When the researchers compared their responses to the levels of oxytocin in their blood, they found that people who have a more positive relationship with their partner have higher levels of oxytocin.

One thing researchers can say with certainty is that physical contact affects oxytocin levels.  Light says that the people who get lots of hugs and other warm contact at home tend to have the highest levels of oxytocin in the laboratory.  She believes that frequent warm contact may somehow prime the oxytocin system and make it quicker to turn on whenever there’s warm contact, even in a laboratory.

The same holds true for mothers and infants:  they both produce higher levels of oxytocin when they have lots of warm contact with each other.  “Those women who hold their babies more at home have higher responses when they hold their baby in the lab,” Light says.

Much of what we know about oxytocin has come from research in animals.  Mother rats, for instance, can stimulate oxytocin in their pups by licking and grooming them.  This loving care has long-term effects.

When researchers separate pups from their mothers for 10-15 minutes a day and then reunite them, many mothers are so glad to see their pups that they lick and groom them intensively.  If the separation lasts for several hours, however, it can have the opposite effect; the mother won’t lick and groom her pups.  Some mothers just never lick and groom their pups when they come back.

Pups that are groomed a lot when they’re reunited with their mothers become more comfortable exploring new environments.  The ignored ones develop more anxiety disorders, produce higher levels of stress hormones and have higher blood pressure.

Research from other animals, including monkeys, confirms that the quality of care a mother gives her offspring can have long-term effects on their personality characteristics and mental health as well as physical problems like heart disease.

Animal research is also shedding light on oxytocin’s role in other social bonds.  Mice that lack oxytocin can’t recognize other mice, even after repeated encounters.  When they’re given oxytocin, however, they can recognize other mice again.

Dr. C. Sue Carter, co-director of the Brain Body Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has been studying oxytocin in prairie voles, which form strong bonds with their mates.  When the researchers block oxytocin, the voles don’t form such bonds.  Oxytocin is especially important for females to form bonds with their mates.  In males, a related hormone called vasopressin also plays a role.

Oxytocin and vasopressin aren’t miracle compounds, however.  Giving these hormones to other animals—even other types of voles that don’t normally form social bonds—doesn’t suddenly cause them to form loving bonds.  Animals must have the proper genes to respond to these hormones in the first place.

“Most of us are genetically programmed to form social bonds,” Carter explains, relating the results back to people.  But the ability to form close bonds, she says, is shaped by early experiences.  In the end, a complex interaction of genes and experience makes some people form social bonds more easily than others.

We may not yet fully understand how love and affection develop between people—or how love affects our health—but research is giving us some guidance.  Give those you love all the affection you can.  It can’t hurt, and it may bring a bounty of health benefits.

Feel the Love

Love and affection can have many positive effects, both mental and physical, that have been linked to the hormone oxytocin. Much of the research in people is still preliminary, but Dr. Kathleen Light of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill says it certainly can’t hurt to follow the advice the research suggests:
  • Mothers should have as much warm contact with their infants as possible, especially during the first few weeks of life. If you can’t do this, though—because of illness, a premature birth or other reason—just give all the love and affection you can.
  • Mothers who’ve had a cesarean section may need even more warm contact time, because they haven’t had the increase in oxytocin that labor produces.
  • Couples that have warm contact several times a day—hugging, holding hands, sitting close, etc.—have higher oxytocin levels than those that don’t.
  • Some studies have shown a decrease in stress hormones with massage, for both the person getting the massage and the one giving it.
  • Light thinks that anything that helps you feel a sense of support and a bond with someone—even by phone or email—may help activate your oxytocin system.

Article c/o News in Health

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