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UNCOVERING THE VEIL OF MANIPURA CHAKRA

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PDP_1736The Sanskrit word Manipura is broken down into mani (jewel) pura (place, city). Manipura is the third chakra residing in the naval center. It is said that jewels reside here, jewels representing fire, power, self-confidence, self-esteem and transformation.

The desire to live in one’s true power can be exhilarating, but scary and intimidating at the same time. Fear has many affects on our mind, body, and spirit. It can hold us back from living the life we truly want if we let it. Ask yourself: what would I do if I wasn’t afraid? What makes me truly happy? Are my thoughts for me or against me? Do I have the courage to get what I want?

This fire meditation will help you connect with your true desires and strengths. Take a comfortable seat. Cup your left hand and make a fist with your right hand. Place your right fist in your left open palm and extend your right thumb up. Draw your hands in front of your naval center. Close your eyes and imagine the jewels and fire that rests within you.

Your thumb represents the energy and fire. Imagine the yellow flame glowing and flickering with each inhale and exhale. The warmth of this flame spreads through you and nurtures you with its healing light.

Bring to mind the things that you are yearning to let go of, the thoughts that stop you from achieving what you want. With each inhale and exhale, the flame grows bigger and brighter. Your confidence builds and you feel ready to release those things that inhibit you into the fire. As you release and burn those inhibiting thoughts, become aware with the feeling of freedom and empowerment that you are creating. Feel the veil of fear and insecurity being lifted and find what truly resides within.

JUICING

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IMG_9693Juicing. It’s a word that we’ve become very familiar with in our society today. My clients often ask me whether they need to juice to be healthy. Drinking your fruits and vegetables through methods like juicing and blending can be easy ways to get your nutrients in. Unfortunately, both these liquefying methods come with their own nutritional ups and downs. On the upside, certain vitamins and minerals like carotenoids found in your brightly colored fruits and vegetables seem to be better absorbed in the juice form. On the downside, juice will carry a higher amount of natural concentrated sugar. Concentrated sugar is rapidly digested by your body, leading to quick spikes and drops to your blood sugar levels and decreased satiety. This can be a potential problem if you’re someone who has high or low blood sugar levels. Blended fruits and vegetables do not contain the same amount of fiber that would be consumed if you were eating whole fruits or vegetables. Fiber is the key nutrient that slows down the release of sugar in your blood system. If you’re leaving the pulp behind in your juicer, you’re probably not getting that much fiber. Here are some tips on how you can make juicing healthier for you:

  • Use whole juice instead of extracted juice. Whole juicers are designed to liquefy entire fruits and vegetables and include the fiber. Compared to eating whole fruits and vegetables, whole juice will still cause a more rapid rise in blood sugar, but not as much as drinking extracted juices which leave the fiber behind.
  • Try to juice fresh and seasonal produce. The antioxidants and phytonutrients in juiced vegetables and fruits start to break down as soon as they are exposed to light and air. If you are looking for peak nutritional value, it’s best to drink juice fresh and as soon as it has been prepared. If you don’t want to juice every day, freezing fresh juice and drinking it within a couple of days is the best way to preserve the nutrient content in the juice.
  • Try adding healthy fat and protein to your smoothie. This will slow down the release of sugar in your body. Sources like nuts, avocado, yogurt, flaxseed and healthy protein powders are good choices.
  • If you’re determined on eliminating the pulp from your juice, try transferring the pulp to other recipes. Using pulp in sauces, pastas, stews and in baking can make your dish healthy and delicious.
  • Clean your fruits and vegetables to remove any soil, bacteria, or pesticides.

Blended fruits and vegetables can increase the nutrient quality of your diet. But, you’ll get the most nutritional benefit if you chew your whole fruits and vegetables. Check out my favorite healthy smoothie recipe that I created after my trip to Costa Rica where the pineapple is fresh and delicious!  https://omandspice.com/2014/01/16/the-green-smoothie-pineapple-express/

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

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The saying goes, healthy mind, healthy body. Eating healthy allows our brain to function at a higher level. Essential nutrients provided by our diet can lead to our brain functioning more efficiently. For example, antioxidants and essential fatty acids like omega 3s help protect brain cells from everyday damage and age-related decline. Tyrosine, a nutrient found in protein-rich foods, helps produce neurotransmitters. Along with vitamin C, they carry signals between brain cells. Nutrients like choline and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) help with brain development in the early stages of life. As we can see, eating healthy can lead to a powerful brain! Here are some tips on how you can improve your brain health:

  • Vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils and legumes are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals. These two properties help prevent disease and oxidative stress in our brain and bodies. Keep your vegetable and fruit intake fresh by adding variety and color to your plate. The nutrient content in fruits and vegetables declines within 4 hours of being picked from the ground. Instead of allowing your fruits and vegetables to sit in the refrigerator for a while, try to use them as soon as you get them.
  • Increase your omega 3 intake by adding fatty fish to your diet twice a week like salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, herring or sardines. If fish isn’t your thing, try flaxseed, chia seeds, or nuts.
  • Don’t ignore your hunger. Skipping meals can lead to low blood sugar levels and cause your concentration levels to drop. In order to work and think more efficiently, eat small frequent meals during the day and keep them nutritious!
  • Try to keep your energy levels high by getting enough sleep at night. When we are tired, our cravings for sugar, salt and fat increase. Instead of reaching for junk food when you’re feeling tired, try fresh fruit that have a higher water content like melons and oranges. They’re hydrating and invigorating.
  • Limit large meals and foods high in sugar. This can ultimately have a dulling affect to your mental function because overeating and too much sugar can lead to big spikes and drops to your blood sugar levels. Keep your portions reasonable and healthy by eating small frequent meals during the day.
  • Stay hydrated and drink enough water during the day!

Eat healthy, think healthy and live healthy.

ROASTED BELL PEPPER AND WALNUT SPREAD

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Bell peppers are a wonderful combination of tangy taste and crunchy texture. They come in a wide variety of colors ranging from green, red, yellow, orange, and purple. They are scientifically known as Capsicum annuum and are members of the nightshade family which also includes potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant. Capsaicin is the primary substance that controls the heating flavor in bell peppers. Bell peppers are rich in nutrition, fiber, and have a high amount of carotenoids; alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin being the most highly occurring carotenoids. If you’re looking to incorporate more bell peppers in your diet, try this recipe below. It’s quick, delicious and nutritious!

Ingredients:
2 roasted bell peppers
1 ½ cups of walnuts
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp of jalapeno
2 tsp of sea salt
½ squeezed lemon

Method:
Roast bell pepper in the over or over the stove. Skin the bell peppers and place in a blender or a food processor along with all other ingredients and pulverize until smooth. Serve with warm whole grain pita bread or with vegetables.

It really is quite delicious, try it!

ROASTED VEGETABLE LENTIL SALAD

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Serves 8-10 people

Lentil salad:
2 cups of butternut squash, cubed
2 medium carrots peeled and diced into 1/2 –inch pieces
3 small beets, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
3 parsnips, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 baby turnip, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 ½ tsp salt
2 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary cut in half
2 cups of green lentils
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 bay leaf
½ tsp black pepper

Red cabbage serving:
2 heads red cabbage, sliced
1 head of fennel bulb, sliced
Parsley, roughly chopped, for garnish
Flaky sea salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste
1 Clementine, halved and seeded

Sherry wine vinaigrette:
½ tsp truffle oil
4 tsp of apple cider vinegar
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
½ squeezed lemon
½ squeezed orange / orange juice
1 sprig of rosemary
1 clove of garlic
1 clove

Method:

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place vegetables in one layer on one or two rimmed baking pan, toss olive oil and salt. Place thyme and rosemary on top of vegetables, cover pan with foil and roast for 25 minutes. Remove foil and let back for 30 to 40 minutes longer, until vegetables are tender and golden all over.
In a small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.

Toss red cabbage, fennel bulb with ½ of the vinaigrette and place on a serving platter. Let flavors absorb for 20 minutes.

In a large pot, combine lentils, 6 cups water, garlic, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until lentils are tender.

Drain lentils and discard bay leaf; keep or discard garlic as you like.

Combine lentils and roasted vegetables, adding more of the vinaigrette to taste; spoon mixture on top of radicchio. Garnish with scallions, parsley, sea salt and black pepper. Squeeze Clementine juice over and drizzle with more olive oil if needed.

OATMEAL BANANA DARK CHOCOLATE COOKIES

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Looking for a yummy healthy snack to fulfill your sweet craving? Try this recipe, it’s one of my favorite healthy cookie recipes. It’s mildly sweet filled with flavor. Hints of dark chocolate complete the experience.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of plan rolled oats
  • 2 overly ripe or ripe banana
  • 4 small dark chocolate squares
  • 1/4 cup of dried fruit / raisins and nuts
  • 2 tsp. of honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin spice or cinnamon

Methods:

In a container, blend the banana and oatmeal together and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Create little oatmeal banana dark chocolate balls and place on parchment paper. Put in the oven at 400 for 12-15 mins. Tastes best the next day!

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COLORFUL SPICES

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Spices not only smell and taste delicious, they are also good for your health. They help reduce inflammation in your body, incrementally boost your metabolism, aid as a salt substitute, and help with hunger control. The spices that I most often use in my diet are turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala, and coriander powder. They are a delicious addition to many vegetarian and meat based recipes and allow your senses to be fully involved in the eating experience!

TIP: try adding turmeric powder to your morning fruit and vegetable smoothie or sprinkling some in a glass of hot water and lemon.

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