Friday, December 30, 2011

60 Days of Yoga

I am proud to say that I just completed my 2nd 30 day challenge of yoga at The Bombay Room in Fort Lauderdale.  That means I completed sixty one and a half hour classes of yoga is sixty days!  What exactly is yoga?  Everyone seems to have their own idea of yoga.  The Bombay Room  defines yoga as follows

Yoga originated in India and is the oldest of physical disciplines. The word “yoga” refers to physical and mental disciplines that originated in India, and comes from the Sanskrit root “yuj” meaning “to control, to yoke, or to unite”.  Combining stretching, breathing, postures, and meditation, yoga has been practiced for thousands of years.  Yoga is a wonderful way to strengthen the core, improve balance, stamina and flexibility.  Unlike traditional workouts, yoga (which is based on deep breathing) truly quiets the mind and brings a sense of calm.
Yoga is practiced by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, for a multitude of reasons:
  • Stress Relief:  Practicing yoga has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, and further help the practitioner to control these feelings.
  • Increased Strength and Flexibility: Yoga can improve flexibility, mobility, and increase range of motion.  With regular practice, the ligaments, tendons, muscles, and connective tissue lengthen, increasing elasticity and also helping to prevent injury.  Yoga asanas (postures) use every muscle in the body, increasing strength, literally from head to toe.  Yoga is a low-impact physical exercise recommended for people of all ages and physical abilities.
  • Pain Relief:  Studies have shown that practicing yoga reduces pain for people with many chronic conditions such as arthritis, hypertension, sciatica, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, and chronic neck and back pain.  The combination of postures, stretching, and meditation can ease pain.  Most people with severe neck and back pain report substantial relief after the first or second session, and a steady decline or absence of pain with regular yoga practice.
  • Weight Management: People do not have to practice the most intense or vigorous types of yoga to lose weight.  Yoga encourages the development of a positive, healthy self-image, and attention to be paid to the body as a whole, including nutrition, exercise, and general well-being. The physical routine of yoga certainly has a positive effect on body shape and muscle tone.
  • Improved Circulation and Cardiovascular Conditioning:  Yoga helps to improve circulation by efficiently moving oxygenated blood to the body’s cells. A warm body allows the blood to be easily delivered to the body.  This means that more oxygen goes to the muscles and helps remove waste and toxins. Even a gentle yoga practice can provide cardiovascular benefits by lowering heart rate, increasing endurance, improving oxygen intake, and reducing blood pressure.
  • Inner Peace: Perhaps the most profound effect of yoga is the effect it has on ones inner-self.  Through breathing exercises (called pranayama), yoga encourages deep relaxation.  Moving through each posture with focus and mindfulness creates harmony between ones breath, circulatory system, physical body, and mind.  The effects of a consistent yoga practice help many to cultivate self-acceptance, self-awareness, inner peace, and calm.

I began my yoga journey because I was trying to find a way to stretch my sore, overworked muscle from all the running and weight training I do.  I was injuring myself regularly because I was so tight.  Although these are the reasons are started the first 30 day challenge it is not the reason I continued.  I ended up gaining much more than some flexibility.  My yoga practice has allowed me to quite my over-active mind and to open space in my life for peace.  I had found a community that I consider family and look forward to seeing my new found friends weekly.  I am stronger and this has helped me in the gym!  I never thought yoga would make me stronger.  I love myself more because I have accomplished things such as the crow, and tripod head stand that I never thought possible.  My core muscles are stronger and I have learned how to control them to hold certain poses and movements. I have learned to slow down, appreciate life, and with every intention I set I bring happiness and peace to the world and set it free.  I started a practice to open my hips and shoulders (which I did) but what I truly gained was an open mind and heart.  I am blessed to have stumbled upon this little gem tucked away on the side of Oakland Park Blvd.  I encourage you to try yoga and come check out this little slice of heaven.  You can find information about The Bombay Room on their website or Facebook

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Vegan Gingerbread Pancakes and Happy Holidays

Last night I made Vegan Gingersnap Molasses Cookies and they were delicious. So I decided when I awoke this morning to take the guts of that recipe and make some wonderful pancakes.  These pancakes are sensational and healthy.  You can substitute the type of flour depending on your taste or needs.  I wanted some extra protein so I made the majority of mine with a soy flour, but I have used coconut, whole wheat, or any other gluten free flour of your choice.  I hope you enjoy and may you have a blessed holiday season!

Vegan Gingerbread Pancakes

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup soy flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flower
2 tsp. baking soda
1 Tbs. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 or 2 crushed candy canes

Wet Ingredients:
1 Tbs. coconut oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup molasses
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
3/4 cup water 1 tsp. vanilla

Mix dry ingredients is a bowl and create a well in the center for the liquid ingredients.  Add liquid ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Add crushed candy canes last heat griddle and cook!  Makes 2 to 4 servings depending on how hungry you are!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When to buy Organic Produce

Organic produce is more expensive than conventional produce.  What are paying extra for and why should you? Conventional farming uses pesticides or neurotoxins that destroy the central nervous systems of various pests to control their crops and have a higher yield.  Every time you eat food from these farms you ingest small amounts of pesticides.  These farmers also use chemicals to ripen produces prematurely.  When produce is ripened early it loses the benefits of absorbing more vitamins, nutrients, and minerals from the sun and soil.  We need our food to be as natural as possible.  Organic farmers allow produce to ripen on its own and studies show that the produce from these farms have much higher mineral and vitamin content.
Organic farming is also eco-conscious.  It uses less fuel and energy and is more "green".  The soil is not filled with chemicals and can be used again for future crops.  Organic farming focuses on healthy produce instead of mass quantity.  
I know not everyone can afford to always buy organic so here is a list of produce that should always be  organic because the toxicity levels have been proven to be the highest.

12 Most Contaminated
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes
If you must purchase conventional produce the following list are the least contaminated and best to buy conventional.  Always clean your produce with a fruit and vegetable cleaner available at most health food stores or make your own cleaner  3/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 1 gallon of water and soak the vegetables for at least a half hour.

12 Least Contaminated
  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya
The last thing I want to mention is that even better than organic produce is produce from a local farm or CSA.  These farms usually don't use pesticides or herbicides but because they are small can't afford the organic stamp.  Support your local farmers and you will help the environment and get the freshest produce available.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


It seems as a nation of unfit, unhealthy people we seem to departmentalize food into nutrients and then find things wrong with these nutrients and delete them out of our diet. One of the "bad" nutrients is Carbohydrates.  I get numerous questions about Carbohydrates.  Fear in the form of fat transferring to hips spills out of my clients because they have been misinformed about what a carbohydrate really is.  What is a carbohydrate and why do we need them?
A carbohydrate is a combination of a starch and a sugar (monosaccahride or disaccharide) package in the perfect form with fiber and phytonutrients.  Carbohydrates include vegetables (leafy greens are best), fruits, whole grains, and legumes. All body functions, cellular processes, thinking, breathing, muscular exertion (running, yoga, weightlifting) require carbohydrates and use them as their main source of fuel.  The brain is dependent on glucose from carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are central to all cultures around the world and humans have been eating them for thousands of years!  Take for example whole grains.  Whole grains are different all over the world and depending on the region you live in will determine what you are familiar with.  Africa has sorghum, millet, and teff. Asia produces rice, Peru produces quinoa, and Russia produces buckwheat or kasha.  Corn comes from the Americas and oats from Scotland.  Italy is known for their risottos, pastas, and breads and Europe for its dark beer, millet, and wheat.  Civilizations have survived on carbohydrates for centuries and they were not fat.  If a carbohydrate makes you fat than all the citizens of Japan would be fat from their consumption of rice.  Our term "meal" even comes from carbohydrates such as cornmeal and oatmeal.

The next time you fear a carbohydrate fear the cookies, bread, sugar and processed boxes of cereal and other crap that come in bags and not the amazing nutritious forms of whole plant-based foods that are truly meant to help you body!