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We need nothing more than a simple shift in season to confirm that change is a constant in our world. As we cycle through the four seasons, it isn’t just the weather that changes, our diets evolve with seasonal availability of some foods, and we may choose to hibernate more indoors during fall and winter, or frolic out into the open air more often in spring and summer. In the context of healing, the seasons can remind us to accept change as a constant and see our healing process as a process of unfolding, happening in stages. In fact everything in our lives can be linked to this sort of seasonal change. You can be in one phase in one area & different phase in another. For instance, we may be in a winter season in our relationships, but in our career or professional life be going through spring and reaping the benefits of hard work we’ve put in over time.
Did you know the seasons also correspond to personality traits? Yep, just like horoscopes tell us a great deal about possible personality quirks, humans have character traits, emotions, and virtues linked with seasons and the elements. Below is a little more insight into what qualities correspond with each season. The five seasons include: winter, spring, summer, late summer, & autumn. Why is it useful to understand this and ruminate on how we align personally with the seasons? Just by understanding this concept it can help us to better relate with people and environments wherever they are on the spectrum. Fall is upon us soon, so it’s a wonderful time to take stock of what you can prune or release from your life to prepare for what’s next. Take a moment to reflect on what season you are in personally, professionally, and spiritually. Journal about any insights you receive from looking at your life from this lens. –Xo Raw Girl
(FYI: Interpretation I used breaks into 5 seasons adding “late summer”).
- Winter: Water
- Spring: Wood
- Summer: Fire
- Late summer: Earth
- Fall: Metal
WINTER – human traits include: charming, sensitive, compassionate, flexible, intuitive, persuasive, fluid, intelligent. Emotions: fear, virtue, will.
SPRING – quickened pace of life; rapid growth; new life from past seeds. Personality traits – generous, confident, explorative, persuasive, busy, loyal. Emotions: anger, virtue, benevolence.
SUMMER – growth of spring matures, spontaneous bursts of energy. Personality traits: love, adventure, excitement, competitive, hypersensitive, extroverted. Emotions: joy, virtue, propriety, decency.
LATE SUMMER – transition between summer & fall; a moment to take pause or reflect. Personality traits: steady, patient, reliability, logical, methodical, good planners, disciplined. Emotions: sympathy, virtue, faithfulness.
AUTUMN – nature moves inward; pruning necessary for new life to come; it’s a season of letting go. Personality traits: tenacious, self reliant, reserved, orderly, clean, balanced, solitude. Emotions: grief, virtue, righteousness.
I’m starting a weekly call to healthy action to get you thinking about various aspects of your health. Hoping that these will assist you in not just learning about new nutrients or supplements, but actually start to make changes day-to-day. For the first healthy ritual I challenge you to pick a self-care activity you feel you need the most and do it daily. Whether it be meditation, long walks, or taking a long bath, find a way to take care of you in a way that makes your heart sing. As we prioritize ourselves and establish rituals, we fill up our well of goodness we have to bring to our work, families, and life in general.Next week I will give you a template you can use to make your personally tailored self-care plan. I hope you will complete it or give it some thought! Here’s to loving a lot on YOU this week! -Xo Raw Girl
Variety is key to ensuring that boredom or a food rut don’t set in. Vegans and vegetarians alike know the feeling of wanting to scream when all that is available to eat is the same boring side salad. One way you can “jazz up” any meal is by adding the right toppings, sauces, dressings, or condiments to add flavor and get you excited to dig in. This weekend was veggie burger mania in my kitchen. I had an assignment to perfect several types of veggie burgers. I made black bean, lentil, and a black eye pea burger that will make your mouth water (more on this later). For the lentil burger, topped it will an awesome cilantro sauce that can also double as an awesome salad dressing. Not completely raw as it uses canned coconut milk, but quick to make and delicious. Cilantro has awesome nutritional benefits and can actually naturally remove up to 80% of heavy metals from the body. Not a bad perk for a dressing! -Xo Raw Girl
Salad ingredients: Chopped kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds.
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup organic lite coconut milk
- 1 jalapeno chile stemmed and seeded
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cilantro roughly chopped
Add the lemon juice, coconut milk, chile, garlic, ginger, salt and cilantro into a blender and blend until smooth. Serve and enjoy! To vary thickness use regular instead of lite coconut milk and add in a little avocado. Another variation can be made using lime juice instead of lemon.
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As someone who eats a great deal of raw food, for me soaking my nuts before I eat them is imperative. When I get busy, lazy, or careless I sometimes forget, but my digestion always pays for neglecting that essential step. Adopting a high raw diet is about trying to consume foods with as much life force as possible. Nuts and seeds are full of enzymes while in their raw, natural forms but when they are toasted, roasted, fried, or boiled the enzymes are destroyed. Raw nuts and seeds are plant foods which also contain the ingestible substance phytic acid, which acts as an inhibitor developed to form a protective barrier from bugs or insects, but in humans can block enzyme function. Nuts and seeds will not break down into their simplest forms during digestion when protein inhibitors are present. Phytic acid also prevents us from using and maintaining key micronutrients as the molecular structure causes essential minerals (including calcium, zinc, niacin, copper, iron and magnesium) to bind to it, thereby preventing their absorption. Soaking nuts releases phytase, allowing the phytic acid to be neutralized and making the nuts easier for our bodies’ to digest. If you are feeling lazy or pressed for time, soaking your nuts overnight is a great way to prep for the morning especially if you are making nut milk. If you want to take your nuts as a snack on-the-go and want them crunchier, pop them in the dehydrator and go about your business for the day. For extra fun add spices or even maple syrup to your nuts when dehydrating. -XO Raw Girl
Gupta, R. K., Gangoliya, S. S., & Singh, N. K. (2015). Reduction of phytic acid and enhancement of bioavailable micronutrients in food grains. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 52(2), 676–684. http://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-013-0978-y
Raw Nuts & Seeds High in Enzymes. (n.d.). Retrieved February 02, 2017, from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/raw-nuts-seeds-high-enzymes-1213.html
Kornfeld, M. (2017). Review of preparing nuts. [Lecture Slides]. Retrieved January 30, 2017 from MUIH NUTR 684 module 2.
Nagel, R. (2010, March 26). Living With Phytic Acid. Retrieved January 29, 2017, from http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/living-with-phytic-acid/
What mineral is required for thyroid hormone synthesis, regulates cortisol and immune function, and is a powerful antioxidant? Iodine, which may seem like an insignificant mineral is required for all of those things and more. Currently the world is using less and less iodized salt for preparation in food, and this places many of us in danger of becoming iodine deficient. Deficiency in iodine causes abnormal swelling of the neck or goiter, lethargy, fatigue, weakness of the immune system, slow metabolism, autism, weight gain, depression, and in women, iodine is essential for maintaining breast health. Breast cancer incidences in Japan are virtually nonexistent because women consume twenty five times the amount of iodine that American women do. Iodine deficiency is also the most preventable cause of brain damage. Pregnant women who are deficient are at higher risk for having a stillborn child or one with birth defects. For veggie lovers who are vegetarian or vegan, if you are not including seaweed in your diet, you are putting yourself at greater risk for deficiency. Is it me, or did seaweed all of sudden get really sexy? Keep in mind you can add seaweed to soups, make nori wraps or veggie sushi, sprinkle dulse flakes on your salads, and more to ensure you get your iodine in.
The recommended daily allowance for adults over 19 years of age iodine is 150 micrograms daily. It’s important to not consume too much iodine because toxicity can also cause health problems such as gastrointestinal upset, acne, increased salivation, fever, nausea, vomiting, and elevated levels of thyroid hormone. The best way to boost your iodine intake on a vegetarian diet is to incorporate sea vegetables into your diet such as: kelp, dulse, nori, wakame, arame, hiziki, kombu, irish moss. Black eye peas and navy beans also have a decent amount of iodine, strawberries, cranberries, organic yogurt, navy beans, cheese, and potatoes.
Most minerals have inhibitors, or nutrients that can block the proper absorption and uptake by the body. In the case of iodine, goitrogens are substances in chemicals, foods or drugs that can interfere with iron uptake in the thyroid gland. Goitrogens are found in soy products, cassava, sweet potato, peanuts, pine nuts, raw cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, turnips etc. Don’t get spooked about consuming these foods, which have other nutrients that are beneficial to the body; just take care especially if focused on increasing iodine intake to not consume meals with these foods at the same time of iodine supplementation.
Ensuring that your iodine intake is optimal can prevent radiation induced thyroid cancer, decrease the pain of fibrocystic breasts, and also prevent mental retardation, which is a direct result of iodine deficiency. Although it is not always the first mineral that comes to mind are essential, clearly the lack of iodine can have a drastic impact on health. Hope this article inspires you to do a double take when you pass the seaweed in the grocery store! Just make sure that the seaweed you choose to consume is organic and free of heavy metals. -XO Raw Girl
7 Foods Rich in Iodine. (2015, February 25). Retrieved January 30, 2017, from http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/iodine-foods/
- National Institute of Health. Iodine. Office of Dietary Supplements. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.
- Gastaldi R, Muraca M, Beltramo A, Poggi E. Iodine deficiency and its consequences for cognitive and psychomotor development of children. Italian Journal of Pediatrics. 2014;40(Suppl 1):A15. doi:10.1186/1824-7288-40-S1-A15.
- Zimmermann MB, Boelaert K. Iodine deficiency and thyroid disorders. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2015 Apr;3(4):286-95. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(14)70225-6. Epub 2015 Jan 13.
- Ross, A. C., Caballero, B. , Cousins, R. J., Tucker, K.L. & Ziegler, T. R. (2014). Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. (11th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.
- Zimmerman, M. (2001). Burgerstein’s Handbook of Nutrition. Micronutrients in the Prevention and Therapy of Disease. New York, NY: Thieme.
For the next couple of months I’m completely immersed in the study of micronutrients, also known as the yummy minerals and vitamins your body needs to function optimally. So I’ll be posting some articles to shed a little more light on micronutrients, and perhaps get you thinking about supplementing with food or at the very least ensuring you are getting in your daily multivitamin. Macronutrients are the essential dietary staples the average person worries about ie: fats, carbs, and protein. However micronutrients are so incredibly essential that deficiency in certain ones can literally stop hundreds of necessary chemical reactions in the body! The danger of talking about micronutrients in isolation is that we tend to lose sight of the bigger picture. Your body needs a wide-range of nutritional goodies to keep you functioning at your best, so please do not take the focus of these articles as a sign to start supplementing in excess one particular nutrient. It’s important to get regular blood testing with a doctor to ensure you are not deficient in key minerals or vitamins your body needs.
Are you aware that iron deficiency is not only the most common deficiency in the United States, it’s actually the most common deficiency worldwide? Which means most of the people you know including the man in the mirror, may be iron deficient. Iron serves as a catalyst for many redox reactions in the body, is important for energy metabolism, oxygen delivery, oxygen transport and storage, and even DNA synthesis. It is essential for exercise and athletic endurance/performance because of its role in oxygen delivery. Female athletes or those that are endurance runners or participate in a mix of anaerobic and aerobic activities are more likely to need additional iron because of menstruation. Sorry ladies! Unfortunately because “Aunt Flow” comes to visit us every month we lose more iron than our male counterparts. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for iron for men 19-50 years of age is 8 mg and for women in the same age range is 18 mg. If you are vegan or vegetarian you also may need 1.8 times more iron than your meat-eating friends.
How do you know if you should supplement? Symptoms of iron deficiency can include: fatigue, increased heart rate, palpitations, impaired exercise and work capacity, pica (you know those people who love to chew on ice?), spoon shaped nails, and more. The thing about iron supplementation as you may well know is that it can cause constipation, nausea, abdominal pain and host of uncomfortable side effects. So for those that are physically active it may be best to ensure you are getting more iron from your diet and not from an over the counter supplement. When you increase iron consumption also keep in mind that vitamin C actually helps to increase iron absorption, while oxalates (found beets, spinach, etc.), calcium, and manganese can inhibit or decrease the absorption of iron. This is what makes pomegranates an iron supplying superfood, they have a rich source of vitamin C and iron the perfect combination to make sure the iron is absorbed by your body. Below are some great food sources of iron. If you are anemic, you should consult your doctor and ensure you supplement but do not overdose on the amount you need to get your levels back up to normal. -XO Raw Girl
Some great VEG food sources of (non-heme) iron include: quinoa, legumes: lentils, kidney beans, garbanzo, pinto, tofu, soybeans, soy milk, tempeh, fortified cereals, cacao, Nuts and seeds: cashews, pumpkin, pistachio, almonds, peanuts, sunflower, sesame, tomatoes, swiss chard, collard greens, kale, spinach, black strap molasses, dried figs, raisins, pomegranates, whole grains, cacao.
Zimmerman, M. (2001). Burgerstein’s Handbook of Nutrition. Micronutrients in the Prevention and Therapy of Disease. New York, NY: Thieme.
Alauntye, I., Stojceska, V. & Plunkett, A. (2015). Iron and the female athlete: a review of dietary treatment methods for improving iron status and exercise performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12, 38. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31829a6f6b.
WebMD: Foods High in Oxalates
Until my travels to Ghana, I knew nothing about one of Africa’s best-kept secrets, one of the most nutrient dense fruits on the planet, baobab. African baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) has been dubbed the “tree of life,” due to it’s exceptional nutritional profile and all parts of the tree being used for food, drinks, to feed animals, medicine, and even fibers used for weaving. Baobab grows on large and strangely gorgeous trees that look like something out of a fairy tale and take up to 200 years to mature and produce fruit. YEP that’s right, 200 years. Meaning if you planted a baobab tree today you would not live to see it grow into its full glory. Not only do they take a long time to mature, but they live long: the oldest recorded living baobab tree thus far was 1,000 years old. The fruit of baobab is football sized and the pulp of the fruit is white and powdery with a sweet, slightly tangy taste.
This strange but fantastic fruit packs in a jaw-dropping amount of nutrition: it has four times the potassium of bananas, two times the calcium of milk, and twelve times the fiber of an apple. Baobab is made up of almost 50% fiber that is soluble and pre-biotic; meaning ingesting it promotes the growth of good bacteria in the guy. The fruit actually has more soluble fiber than psyllium, which is used in laxatives to boost elimination and maintain a healthy digestive tract. You can consume baobab in powder form, adding it to shakes, smoothies, and even use it as a natural sugar replacement. Now that the word is spreading you will find bars and nutritional supplements with baobab as an ingredient as well. I’m sure if you have the chance to try it, you’ll understand why this unique fruit with a funny name is aptly called the “Queen of Superfruits.”
XO Raw Girl
Hope you all had a very happy holiday and somehow made it through the weekend without overdosing on refined sugar and booze. Tis’ the season for sweets, apple cider, cocoa, and reflection on whether or not you actually achieved those health goals you set last January. We all know “those people” who get gym memberships at the beginning of the year, start cleanses, and become yoga natzi’s only to fall completely off the wagon come spring. We know them because if we took a good look in the mirror we’d realize that at some point we have fallen way short of the mark when it comes to our health. Here’s four quick ideas for ways to ensure you wrap 2017 a healthy living rockstar:
- Stop Settling. You need a goal that will get you up in the early AM or make you want to put in a workout after a long day at work. Instead of making goals about weight loss or body fat percentage try imagining the kick-ass new and improved version of you at the end of the year. What is he or she doing? Is she entering a body building competition? Running a marathon? An expert fitness pole dancer? Stunting on folks with your catwalk in the office thanks to reformer Pilates? If you can dream it, you can achieve it.
- Track Your Progress. There are so many apps nowadays that can help you keep a food diary, log workouts, or even track your daily steps. No excuses my friend. In order to keep the beginning of the year pep going a great way is to have a tried and true tracking system that works for you. When you start tracking, it helps to have an accountability partner or bff who calls you out on your cheat day.
- Celebrate Your Wins. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our goals that we forget to take a moment a do a happy dance when we’ve hit the mark! As you create a plan for your health in the upcoming year, make sure you give some sort of treat or reward on the road to achieving the goal.
- Invest in a Trainer or Coach. We’ve all done a double take at some point in the gym at the random guy in the corner doing strange exercises with even stranger form. Just like you need a check up with your doctor or dentist every now and then, if you are looking to achieve health or fitness goals it cannot hurt to check-in with a health coach, nutritionist, or trainer. There is power in the meeting of minds and agreement. Not only will having a Sensei egg you on when you want to give up on that last rep, it may propel you much further than you can go on your own, and save you some time in the gym with more effective workouts. If you’ve hit a plateau or are in a food rut diet-wise, a nutritionist or health coach may get you excited about new recipes to spice things up. Make sure you get referrals for health professionals you work with so you can ensure your investment will reap dividends.
-XO Raw Girl
MSM, also know by science geeks the world over as methylsulfonylmethane, is an organic sulfur compound made during the earth’s rain cycle. This miracle supplement when taken in the powder form really should be called “Botox in a bottle,” as it does wonders for anti-aging by boosting collagen production especially when paired with vitamin C. MSM is great for acceleration of healing of skin, joints, or connective tissues. Taking it as a supplement can be useful to those suffering from arthritis, leaky gut (helps heal lining of colon) and those looking to speed recovery from injury. Here’s an additional perk that comes with adding MSM to your life: it lays a coat over intestinal areas making it virtually impossible for parasites to attach themselves. When the parasites are unable to make their home in your body, they are flushed out of your system through the process of elimination.
Time and time again I have come back to MSM whenever dealing with an injury I want to heal. Most recently when my face was burned, I made sure to include MSM twice a day into my healing protocol along with my Heal & Glow Face Mask to accelerate the process. If you find your hair is breaking or nails are brittle, this is great supplement that will solve those issues and have you whipping your hair back and forth.
How to take it:
For best results using the MSM powder, added it to your water along with a source of vitamin C like lemon juice. Start with one teaspoon of MSM powder in 16 ounces of water, and gradually work your way up to 2 to 3 tablespoons per day to see some really impressive results.
-XO Raw Girl