5 ways to beat the winter blues.

5 ways to beat the winter blues.

If I had it my way, it would be sunny and 72 degrees every day of year. (Except during October, when it should be 55 and cloudy for Harry Potter watching parties. Oh, and also, it should snow on Christmas. Oh, and temps should hover between 86 and 88 with partly cloudy skies June through July for optimal relax-by-the-pool time.) But we have four full seasons in good ol’ KCMO (how we love you, 64112) including winter.

And I’m one of those poor souls who is extremely, uncannily affected by dreary. I am a plant: the moment the sun shines I fling open my arms with wild abandon and the moment the gloomy weather arrives I shrivel into a grumpy lady and try to shrink into pseudo-hibernation. Every winter I vow: this winter will be different. I will not let Seasonal Affective Disorder disorder my day! I will be happy, gosh darnit.

But the sun still hides and I still snap at my husband and shrink into the couch and say things like: “I just can’t be happy…it’s winter!” At those pivotal moments when all could be lost, or when I could manifest cheery by bolstering neurotransmitters, I sigh (loudly, ardently) and try to cheer myself up with these 5 ways to beat the winter blues.

  1. Drink lemon and raw honey with hot water. Seriously, it works. I add a splash of apple cider vinegar to mine as well. The lemon helps balance your blood alkaline levels and stimulate your senses.  Drinking this throughout the day may also help you decrease your stimulant (coffee and caffeinated tea) intake, while still feeling cozy with a mug of hot drink.
  2. Dance to Justin Timberlake Music Videos. This just in: music videos are specifically made to get you up, moving, and smiling. Research also shows that dancing eases SAD symptoms, stress and anxiety. I’m a fan of VEVO, but the YouTube works, too.
  3. Adopt a new favorite sugar-free baked goodie. In the winter time, all I want is to bake comfort foods. But sugar reeks havoc on your immune system, your intestines where feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine are produced, and your mood.  My favorite sugar-free baked goodie is a flax-pumpkin-muffin in a mug. It takes about 90 seconds to make and is super cozy.  (Recipe below.)
  4. Lend a loan on Kiva. Kiva is an international non-profit that bridges the gap between lender, loan and entrepreneur. On it, you become a lender and help a borrower grow a business, go to school, access clean energy or realize their potential. Loans are usually $25 and have a 97% return rate. Sharing and practicing gratitude for what you have through generosity is an instant mood-lifter. I usually have two loans active at any given time, supporting women entrepreneurs and students make their dreams a reality.
  5. Meditate on light and love. Sometimes our mind can change our mind.  A few moments of blissful guided meditation focused on our own Light and Love absolutely beats the winter blues. Try my Guided Meditation called “Own Your Light.” (Real talk: I even listen to this myself!)

I hope these little tips help you as much as they help me. Let me know which you try (or try all 5 in one day).

Happy Shining, even in the gloom.

-lisa

Flax-pumpkin-muffin in a mug Recipe.

In a microwavable mug combine:

  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1- 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • Optional honey if you need something super sweet

Stir ingredients well. Then microwave for 50 seconds. Allow the mug cool once removed from microwave. Eat with a tiny spoon so it lasts longer. So easy and nutritious!

mug-muffin

alkaline enhancing Beet Smoothie (new and improved!)

Inspired by an article in my new favorite magazine, Mother Earth Living, I’ve been on a mission to alkalize my diet.  The more I learned about how food plays a key role in balancing the pH level of my body, the more I wanted to make this happen.

Maintaining a balance pH level is, apparently, not easy. The toxins we encounter daily through air borne pollution and the acidic toxins we ingest tip the scale toward acidity.  On the pH scale, 0 is extremely acidic, 7.0 is totally neutral and 14 is totally alkalized.  Our bodies, born with a neutral 7.0 reading, have mechanisms in place to ensure that our blood remains slightly alkaline for optimal health.  However, as we eat acidic foods (unfortunately, these are the delicious ones on the Standard American Diet like sugar, dairy, and processed grains) important nutrients like calcium and magnesium are leached from cells in order to bring balance back to the blood stream.  This can leave us tired and sore.  Think: the ‘lactic acid’ build up you’ve heard about that makes your muscles sore after running.  Or, for you and for myself: sore after yoga.  (No, Thank you!  Read my tips for recovery to reduce soreness here.)

Not to mention, maintaining an acidic state in the blood level kicks in our body’s natural ability to combat this acid by storing sugar in fat cells.  Many health professionals think that maintaining the optimal pH balance is the key to losing weight.  For more information, check out Michelle Schoffro Cook’s book 60 seconds to Slim. 

What’s the easiest way to alkalize your body back into optimal health (and hopefully reduce muscle soreness)?  Green and Yellow: Veggies and Lemons.   

smoothi pic 1

To make it easy on myself and on you, I’ve re-invented my favorite beet smoothie recipe this summer.  I’ve cut out the extra sugars by eliminating apple juice and orange juice.  I’ve added an extra veggie or two.  And most importantly: concentrated on adding alkalizing foods: sour cherries, lemons and limes.  Introducing, Lisa’s totally liver cleansing, red blood cell oxygenating, alkaline enhancing Wonder Beet Smoothie!  (Please note: this is not a juice.  It is full of fiber and will feel like you are eating a delicious salad.)

smoothie finished

Ingredients:

  • 1 green zucchini, cut into pieces
  • 2 small beets, cut into pieces
  • 6 large rainbow chard leaves, stemmed (or 2 Cups other leafy green vegetables)
  • ½ C organic tart cherry juice
  • 1 C cold water
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Juice from 1 lime

Add ingredients to Blender in this order.  Blend on low for a few minutes, adding more water if needed.  Blend on high for 2-3 minutes.  (Turn the blender down if the smoothie starts to froth.)

Yield: 4 8 oz smoothies.  For best results, enjoy this treat COLD.  I keep mine in the freezer overnight and then let it thaw in the kitchen sink in the morning so it’s ready for lunch.

For more smoothie recipes, check out my article from 2014: summer smoothies galore.

Enjoy! -lisa

 

Lucky St. Patrick’s Day Smoothie, Green Smoothie Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

smoothie in mugSo… do you need to detox after your St. Patrick’s Day Pint?  (I’m pretty sure everyone and their mom… except for me and my mom… were at the Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Westport this year.  Traffic was horrendous!)  We’ve been blessed with sunshine and warm spring weather this year, so it’s time to celebrate the season with something yummy and green!

Here’s my new and improved Special St. Patrick’s Day Green Smoothie recipe.  (Highly recommended for detoxing if you had one too many pints of something else on St. Patty’s Day.)

green st partricks smoothie

Ingredients:

  • Juice from 1/2 Lime
  • 3 Celery Stalks  (cut into pieces)
  • 1/2 Cup Honeydew Melon Pieces
  • 4 Cups Spinach
  • 12 oz Coconut Water

Method:

Nothing to it!  Throw the greens into the blender (I use my Vittamix for smoothies and juices), followed by celery, melon, spinach and lime juice.  Pour in 12 oz coconut water, blend on high for a minute.  Pour into a frosty mug and enjoy!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

-lisa

If you have extra celery, try my yummy pear-and-celery slaw recipe.

 

incredibly healthy! carrot pumpkin oat breakfast bread recipe.

carrot pumpkin oat breakfast bread recipe.

We bought a post-apocalypse-pack of canned pumpkin from Costco.  That fact alone should explain my fixation with everything pumpkin this winter.  I truly think if it’s below 40 degrees outside, something should be in the oven baking.  It’s been interesting finding, tweaking and inventing recipes using pumpkin, which is low in calories and ultra-nutritious. I’ve made pumpkin quiche, pumpkin scones, pumpkin curry, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pancakes and now this, my new specialty: carrot pumpkin oat breakfast bread (vegan!).

Feel free to add your special touches to this recipe: fold in pecans, cranberries, or raisins carrot pumpkin bread ingredfor extra crunch and flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 C oat flour
  • 1/2 C oats
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 C shredded carrots
  • 3 tbsp milled flax mixed with 3 tbsp cold water (or you can use 3 eggs for a non-vegan version)
  • 3/4 C light brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 3/4 C packed pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 C non-sweetened soy milk
  • 1/2 C walnuts

Procedure:

1.  Preheat oven to 325 and oil a 9 inch loaf pan with coconut oil.  (Place pan in oven as it heats to melt coconut oil so it will spread evenly across bottom and sides of pan.)

2. In a large bowl, stir together oat flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and nutmeg.

3.  Mix in wet ingredients: carrots, flax, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla and milk.  Gently stir until well mixed and pour into prepared pan.

4.  Press walnuts on top of loaf.

5.  Bake until the top is golden brown, about 50 to 55 minutes.  Let stand (it’s really delicious when it’s hot!) and enjoy a bite.  Save the rest for breakfast!

carrot pumpkin bread

vegan carrot pumpkin oat breakfast bread. you’ll eat the whole loaf in one sitting…

 

You will love it!  Super moist, hearty, and filling.

Let me know what you think,

-lisa

yummy vegan celery-pear-jicama slaw recipe

vegan celery-pear-jicama slaw recipe. (easy! healthy! yummy!)

 

 

 

 

photo 2 (3)

celery-pear-jicama slaw with sesame seeds and raisins.. yum!

 

Raise your hand if this has happened to you:  you grab the Tupperware of celery from the fridge and throw it in your bag for a quick and easy ‘between yoga class’ snack… only to discover hours later that your celery has been in the fridge too long!  It’s bitter and wimpy and not at all worth munching on.  <hands up!>

This seemed to happen to me almost every Saturday. The fix?  Shred that stuff up!  I’m a huge fan of ‘Root to Stalk Cooking,’ where the entirety of the food item is used.  Nothing to waste!  I’m always saving the colorless ends of the celery root when I cut up celery sticks for snacking.  I usually throw them in the next batch of quinoa or soup in the crock pot (even this soup could always use more fiber), but now I’ve got a new favorite way to honor the entire vegetable.  Introducing my newest recipe:  vegan celery-pear- jicama slaw recipe. (easy! healthy! yummy!)  

photo 1 (3)Ingredients:

  • 1 pear
  • 4 or 5 celery stalks
  • left over ends of celery root
  • 1/2 jicama
  • 1/2 C raisins
  • sesame seeds (for garnish)
  • 2 small clementines (juice and fruit)
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • optional salt and pepper to taste

 

 

Preparation 

1.  Peel the jicama, and shred it, the pear and celery (salad shooter or food processor recommended). Combine with raisins in a medium bowl.

2.  Squeeze clementine juice into celery-pear mixture.  Add slices of clementine fruit (optional).

3.  Whisk dressing in a separate bowl:  grapeseed oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt + pepper.

4. Pour dressing over the celery-pear mixture.  Stir.  Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.  Chill to allow the flavors to blend.

5.  Pack your snack and head out the door.  You are ready to go!

It’s super delicious!  Let me know what other variations you try: carrots? apple?

Happy shredding!

-lisa

 

 

sugar-free pumpkin power bars (vegan! gluten-free! deliciousrecipe!)

sugar-free pumpkin power bars: recipe

It’s autumn again!  Time for everything cozy and pumpkin flavored.  Last fall I was really into vegan/gluten free baking (see this recipe for vegan pumpkin bread) and THIS year, I’m totally into sugar-free baked goods.   Pumpkin flavored baked goods are my favorite, I honestly can’t get enough.  After a few fun attempts (read: crumbly failures) at making my own power bars, I’ve finally perfected this recipe.  Cut them into small squares– you will want to eat a dozen.  :)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 Ripe Banana
  • 1/2 can Pumpkin (about 120 g)
  • 1 C Almond Flour
  • 1 C Oat Flour
  • 1/4 C ground flax seed mixed with 1/4 C water
  • 1/2 C Raw Rolled Oats
  • 1/8 C Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 C Golden Raisins
photo (8)

sugar free AND gluten free AND full of protein.

 

Procedure

Grease 9 x13 inch baking pan with grapeseed oil. Set aside.

Peel ripe banana and mush with a fork (or use a food processor.)  In a large bowl.

Stir in all ingredients, adding the rolled oats last.  You may need to adjust the quantity of oats according to how dry or moist your batter is.  Batter should be thick, easily turned over with a rubber scraper.

Using a rubber scraper or wax paper on your hand, press batter into baking pan.  Thick or thin– that’s up to you.

Bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes.  (I don’t pre-heat my oven because I try to save energy and electricity.  You can read about this in my April Aparigraha Challenge: Save your Energy.)  Cut into small squares.  Yield: approx 24. Enjoy!

Make them this weekend and enjoy with your morning tea!  They are a great ‘pick me up’ on your way out the door to your evening yoga class.

Enjoy!

-lisa

mushroom and walnut stuffed bell peppers: vegan goodness.

mushroom and walnut stuffed bell peppers: vegan goodness.

Last March my Ironman made these delicious mushroom and walnut ‘meatballs’ to go with a spaghetti squash dinner.  Three months later we were still talking about them. stuffed peppers

Oh holy cow they were insanely delicious.  I set out on a mission: how else could I enjoy the earthy combination of mushrooms (high in vitamin D) and walnuts (high in protein and folic acid, which you can learn about here) in new dishes?

Well, thanks to the trusty VitaMixx, I found it! Vegan Mushroom and Walnut Stuffed Bell Peppers– Mediterranean Night: here we come!

Ingredients:

  • 8 button mushrooms, washed
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp homemade hummus,  check out my recipes here
  • 2 handfuls fresh dill
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced in half
  • drizzle of grapeseed oil

Combine first 5 ingredients and blend on low until a paste forms.

Slice bell peppers in half and clean out the seeds  (If you slice them top to bottom, they dads-stuffed-bell-peppers-1hold more stuffing!)

Spoon stuffing into pepper boats, place in an oven safe glass platter.  Drizzle the tops of each pepper with grapeseed oil.

Put in the oven at 350 F and bake for about 35-45 minutes.

Serve with fresh veggies and hummus, and a Greek salad… on your back porch… in the summertime.  Yes, it’s a charmed life.

Let me know how it tastes. Enjoy!

-lisa

zucchini carrot cake breakfast farro.

Craving a hearty, heart-healthy treat for your Valentine?  This recipe combines whole grains, veggies, and yummy goodness all in your crockpot.  An easy, vegan, delicious Valentine’s Day Breakfast.  Yes, please, and thank you!

zucchini carrot cake breakfast farro

image (1)

Use a medium sized bowl. Add:

  • 2 carrots, finely shredded
  • 2 zucchini, finely shredded
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup farro (used pearled or semi-pearled)

Lightly oil your crock pot to prevent sticking.

Pour into the crockpot:

  • Carrot/zucchini/farro mix
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk

Set on low overnight (6 to 8 hours).  In the morning, scoop it out and top with chia seeds and walnuts.  I found that a little extra honey was needed, and that adding a banana made it much more delicious.

Serve with love!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Not sure about farro? Me either, until I read this article by NPR’s Laura Weiss.  Make sure to check out her delicious recipe for Tuscan Soup and Kale Salad.