Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy, Healthy New Year!!!!

I am starting the new year off with the intention to heal myself through my diet. I am pretty good at doing this already but I have a few pesky health issues that are putting up a good fight so I am making some monumental (for me) changes to my diet. It might not be easy for me but I am determined to be my own first success story, well second really. Paul out lived the given prognosis of 3 to 6 months by a lot. He lived, well, for 2 1/2 years with stage IV , metastatic pancreatic cancer. Diet, a positive, healthy lifestyle and attitude were how we did it. It took a lot of self determination, studying and strength but it made a miracle and now it is time for me to do it again for myself with my knew and improved knowledge. Studying to be a Holistic (mind, body, spirit) Nutritionist is tough, time consuming, rewarding and so satisfying because I am learning the most fascinating things about our physiology and how we are made to work in the natural world. We are truly amazing beings that exist in partnership with every living thing on this planet. We are the natural world it is not separate from us and we need it to survive. We must clean it up and start giving a damn for real.
I am no longer a vegan but remain a vegetarian for now. I have no plans or desire to eat animal flesh but am so strongly considering a bone broth once a month for 1 week. I have already added raw goat cheese, duck eggs and pasture butter into my diet. I am fortunate because I live in food heaven. It is easy to get raw, local dairy here as well as local, pastured, organic animal products. I happen to be volunteering for and learning from an amazing chef that prepares foods in their traditional ways and this includes bone broths. She is known for the bone broths she makes and I am glad to be able to get them from her so that I do not have to make them at home. If I am going to try to eat it I can't, in all honesty, bear the thought of making it myself at home. Although I have helped her with it once so far and did not go screaming out of the kitchen.
These decisions on my dietary changes have resulted from hours of contemplation and study. Everything in my studies tells me to do these things and get the healing wheels rolling. If I have learned anything in the past few years it is that my health is my number one priority and I have much influence over it. We all need to realize this. What we put into our bodies, on our bodies, our mental attitudes, our emotional sense of well being and exercise all play a role in our physical health. These things are of the great importance and should never be made low priority.
I do want to make an important point: Animals food products must come from organic, pasture raised sources in order to be healthy. If they don't it is a safe assumption that they are not healthy. Preferably these farms are local and of course they should use humane practices.
Also, please avoid, at all costs, vegetable oils and refined sugars. Olive Oil is good to finish a recipe or make a salad dressing. Coconut oil or pasture butter to cook with. It is that simple but these two things are in just about everything that is prepackaged, precooked and fried so be a label reader and ask questions when ordering. There is vegetable oil (safflower oil) in many rice milks on the shelves. Evaporated cane juice is a refined sugar and it is in most prepacked things at all grocery stores. Vegetables oils are corn, soybean, canola, sunflower, safflower, grape seed and cottonseed oils. If you would like to read a fascinating nutrition book that will go into depth on these two health bombs check out Deep Nutrition Why Your Genes Need Traditional Foods by Catherine Shanahan, MD
You will most likely have to order this book from a site like Amazon.
Happy, Healthy New Year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Buddhist's a good thing

I had a heart opening teaching at Sangha last night that was like a light bulb turning on very brightly. I love when those moments happen. We are having Dharma lessons and discussions on the 4 Noble Truths. Last night the focus was on the first Noble Truth which is suffering. In my experience many people that do not practice Buddhism have heard of this one and interpret what they have heard as Buddhist believe that all of life is suffering. This is not true. We do acknowledge that suffering has many contexts and it happens. We recognize it as part of this life. I actually find some peace and freedom in this acknowledgement. It means I no longer have to pretend and that despite the Western ideal that everything is good or supposed to be good all of the time I can say no that is not true and that is ok. I wish everyone could feel the weight being lifted when we understand and believe that we have the freedom and the right to feel bad, scream and cry. We also have the ability to identify the cause of our suffering and to do something to change it and find the path that leads us away from it so that we do not dwell in it.
Out Sangha teacher gave an analogy that struck a chord in me pretty heavy and that I cannot get out of my head. She heard it said that suffering is like an arrow. The first one comes and we were possibly blindsided by it but the next ones come by our own doing. Reliving the cause of our suffering is like shooting another arrow in ourselves. We need to find its' nature and let it be. This quote by our teacher Tich Nhat Hanh sums up the most beautiful way I have found to deal with my own suffering. “Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.” So much suffering occurs as a result of living in the past and straining for the future. It does not make sense to look backwards while moving forward or to look to what has not happened yet to make things better right now. I know that I long for my husband deeply and in my times of deep suffering I mourn what might or could have been if Paul was still of this physical world. I have had to try to let go of the dreams we shared as husband and wife for our lives together. Just typing that causes me pain. I have to do it though because I am still here and I have a life to live. I do not want to feel bad and cry all of the time. I do admit that there are times when that is all I want to do. Oddly, it is comforting. It is real. There is truth in it that is liberating but that truth also exists in me moving forward and seeing the beauty of everyday. It honors Paul and our life together as well as myself and my life now.
Without my Zen Buddhist practice I could not have made it after Paul died. I did not have the belief in myself that it has giving me. I am so grateful to Paul for deciding that we were going to find a spiritual path that fit us and taking me to our first Sangha gathering in Kansas City. It changed our lives for the better forever. In good times and in bad I am committed to this practice because I am committed to myself. This is the path that leads me away from suffering.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


It is that time of the year when visions of sparkly, frosted sugar cookies dance in our heads rather than sugar plums. Cookie exchange parties are happening, Christmas potlucks, family and friends gathering to bake, kids waiting to see what Santa's cookies are going to look and taste like this year. since it is also a busy time of the year I wanted to share an easy, no-bake, vegan chocolate cookie recipe in Delicious Living magazine that rocks. I just made two dozen for a party I am going to tomorrow and it might have taken a total of 10 minutes. Sure these are not frosted, sparkling with colored sugar crystals or in the shape of trees but they taste fabulous. So, I thought I would share this recipe for Cocoa-Almond No-Bake Cookies,

1 cup of a sweetener of some kind. (I used agave Nectar b/c I already had it)
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
6 tbs. unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp. sea salt.
Bring these ingredients to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 90 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in:
2 1/2 cups quick cook (rolled oats)
3/4 cup almond butter
1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 tbs. vanilla extract
Mix well and roll a spoonful between your palms to form a ball. Place them on parchment paper and chill for 30 minutes.

We are not talking about buying Nestle cocoa powder to make these. Go to the health food store and get real cocoa powder that comes from the cacao nibs. Also, while you are there look for gluten free rolled oats to make these a gluten free treat. Most rolled oats are rolled in gluten, I have no idea why, so unless they specify that they are gluten free assume they are not.
Eating healthier does not mean giving up taste or tradition. It does mean being open minded and ready to feel your best. This is the best gift you can give to yourself.

I could not access the magazine's website to post the link but you can usually find this magazine at health food stores for free.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lima Beans are our Friends

As a child I can remember dreading any dinner that consisted of Lima beans. I did not like them and they would be on my plate like taunting little characters because I had to eat them. My attitude towards them changed only very recently after doing a little homework for myself on traditional foods I could add into my vegetarian diet. Specifically I am looking for foods containing protein, B vitamins and iron. My little legume tormentors turn out to be my legume friends. I want them to be yours too, especially if you are eating a vegan or vegetarian diet. These beans have everything I am looking for plus potassium, phosphorus and fiber. I have yet to find them fresh so I am buying them frozen. The cooking time on the bags I have bought seem excessive. I am trying to simplify my eating habits so a little sea salt is all I have been putting on them and that works for me.
Try adding the Lima bean to your weekly menu. Your body will be happy that you did. A happy body = a healthy you!