life changing bread, herbal style

                                   Background: dry ingredients pre-mixed in mason jars. 

                                   Background: dry ingredients pre-mixed in mason jars. 

Sometimes I simply want a delicious piece of bread! Have you heard about 'Life Changing Bread'? I had mixed feelings about it, but after a few years of playing around with the recipe, I have landed on one that I LOVE! My dietary goals are always to pack my day with vegetables, fruits, legumes, high quality proteins and good whole foods in general. I'm gluten and dairy free and finding a truly healthy bread substitute isn't easy. Well, here you go. Even my French husband loves this bread! It's deliciously moist & chewy and packed with nutrient dense and gut soothing super stars including flax seeds, psyllium husk and chia seeds. 

Here are a few more reasons why I LOVE this bread:
- It's nutrient dense, unlike most breads made of refined flour, so it truly feeds your body. 
- It's high in protein & fiber, gluten-free and dairy free. 
- It's mucilaginous properties soothe and support a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract. 
- It's loaded with fiber which supports healthy cholesterol levels and helps keep you regular -- a vital part of the body's natural detoxification process is shuttling toxins out via the colon. 
- It's easy peasy with little time or clean-up involved!

Enjoy this bread with a variety of added ingredients - olives, herbs, etc. Or top it with my dandelion pesto recipe, hummus, veggies, nut butters -- get creative! Post your favorite toppings below. 

Tip: Mix dry ingredients in quart size mason jars ahead of time and store in fridge or at room temperature, away from light and heat. When you want to make your bread, just grind dry ingredients (or not) and mix in liquid ingredients and you're ready to go. 

INGREDIENTS: 
1 cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds
½ cup flax seeds
½ cup hazelnuts or almonds
1 ½ cups  rolled oats
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
4 Tbsp. psyllium seed husks
1 tsp. fine grain sea or Himalayan salt or 2 tsp ground seaweed
2 Tbsp Nettle leaf, or other dried leafy herb such as Moringa or Parsley
1 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey or a pinch of dry stevia or few drops of liquid
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil or ghee
1 ½ cups water

DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine  all dry ingredients, stirring well. Stop here for crunch bread, or blend in Vitamix for smoother texture (my preference). 

2. Whisk maple syrup, oil and water together in a measuring cup. I use boiling hot water and add the oil so it melts easily. Fewer dishes!

3. Combine wet and dry ingredients in a bowl or directly in the silicone loaf pan. Mix very thoroughly until everything is completely mixed and dough becomes very thick (if too thick to stir, add one or two teaspoons of water until the dough is manageable). Smooth out the top of the loaf with the back of a spoon.

4. Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours day. 

5. Preheat oven to 350°F

6. Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove bread from loaf pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30-40 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely before slicing. 

7. Store bread in a tightly sealed container for up to five days. Freezes well too – slice before freezing for quick and easy toast!

Bon Appétit! 

FullSizeRender-2.jpg

Paleo Lemon Lavender Coconut Muffins! Gluten Free, Dairy Free Delights!

Sometimes I just want a muffin! But, my body, like many bodies, doesn't generally do well on processed grains. Here's a quick and easy healthy muffin recipe. Enjoy! Recipe makes about 6 muffins. 


LIQUID INGREDIENTS
3 Eggs (I use duck eggs)
2 Tbsp Ghee or Coconut Oil, melted
2 Tbsp Coconut milk
1 Tbsp Honey or Maple Syrup (or substitute with a few drops of stevia for sugar free diets)
1/2 - 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 Tbsp Lavender (or more, if stronger flavor is desired) 
1 Tbsp Lemon zest (or more, if stronger flavor is desired) 

DRY INGREDIENTS
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking powder (add to liquid mix - see directions) 

FullSizeRender.jpg


COOKING DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat over to 400 degrees. Grease or line muffin cups with paper liners. 
2. Whisk eggs, ghee, coconut milk, honey, salt and vanilla extract together in a howl until smooth. Stir in lemon zest. 
3. Mix coconut flour, baking powder and lavender together in a separate bowl. Then, stir dry mixture into liquid mixture until batter is combined. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups. 
4. Bake in the preheated oven at 400 degrees about 15 - 20 minutes, until the old 'toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin' trick comes out clean. 

bon appétit!

Reishi Roast Elixir + Chocolate = Healthy deliciousness

COCONUT OIL HERBAL CHOCOLATES

Ingredients:
½ c coconut oil
¼ c cocoa powder
2 Tbsp raw honey, maple syrup or a few drops of stevia
1 tsp vanilla extract
Optional additions:
1 – 2 Tbsp Reishi Roast Elixir
1 - 2 Tbsp maca powder

Instructions:
Gently melt the coconut oil and add honey (with any additional optional ingredients). Whisk vigorously to emulsify oil and honey, for at least 1 minute, by hand or using an emulsion blender. Then, whisk in cocoa powder. Pour into silicone molds and cool at least 15-30 minutes in freezer or fridge.  I like to sprinkle mine with a pinch of sea salt and some shredded coconut before cooling. Enjoy! 

Pouring into silicone molds. 

Pouring into silicone molds. 

Quality begins with good Ingredients. 

Quality begins with good Ingredients. 

Bon Appétit!

Bon Appétit!

Got chronic pain or illness? Want to try yoga but don't know where to start?

Guidelines for choosing an appropriate Yoga Class for people living in chronic pain…

Mindful yoga can be a very therapeutic practice for people living with chronic pain. It can help you remain or become more grounded in your body which can be especially difficult with chronic body issues such as chronic pain or illness. I wrote this blog post to reduce the intimidation of starting a new practice. While styles of yoga are important, I think the most important aspect is choosing a teacher that resonates with you. Someone who can guide you as the expert of your own body. 

What is hatha yoga? Most yoga classes are listed as “hatha” yoga. Hatha is a general term that encompasses many styles of physical yoga that includes asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), relaxation and meditation. There are many popular styles of hatha yoga that are taught at many studios, hospitals, and community centers. 

Where can I get more information? I recommend visiting local studios in your area online or in person to find out more. Search their website for styles that sound good and/or read the teachers' bios. You can also visit the Yoga Alliance website (www.yogaalliance.org) to search for teachers of a specific style. ALWAYS feel free to call the teacher or studio in advance for advice about classes or to ask about a specific teacher’s training. Below are some basic definitions and information about different styles of yoga and suggestions as to which styles tend to be most appropriate for those living with chronic pain or injuries:

STYLES THAT ARE USUALLY APPROPRIATE FOR INDIVIDUALS IN CHRONIC PAIN:

  1. Gentle or ultra gentle yoga: just as the name implies this style moves at a slower pace and is appropriate for most students.
  2. Integrated Yoga Therapy: A therapeutic style that is usually gentle and focuses on the connection of the body, mind and spirit.
  3. Restorative Yoga: A restful and rejuvenative style that makes use of props and blankets to allow for passive stretching and deep relaxation. Wonderful stuff!
  4. Yoga Nidra: “Yogic sleep”. Not hatha (does not involve asanas). The teacher guides students through a relaxation focusing on the body and imagery and leads students into a state of conscious deep sleep & relaxation.
  5. Chair Yoga: Excellent style for anyone who is comfortable in a chair or who cannot comfortably get onto the floor.
  6. Viniyoga: a very comprehensive style that often includes asana, pranayama, bandha, sound, meditation, chanting, and more.

STYLES THAT MAY BE APPROPRIATE (CALL IN ADVANCE AND TALK TO THE TEACHER):

  1. Iyengar: this style may be appropriate – check with the teacher. Focus is on precise alignment and often uses props to achieve this, which can be a challenge. In general, I prefer to modify the pose to work for the body over using props. 
  2. Beginner/Level 1: may be appropriate, discuss with the teacher. These classes generally stick to basic poses and alignment. This can be a great place to begin. 
  3. Anusara: Heart centered style based in the Iyengar tradition.
  4. Integral Yoga: A meditative style consisting of a sequence of poses with occasional variations.
  5. Kirpalu: A flowing style that concentrates on the interplay of “effort and surrender”.
  6. Kundalini: Energetic style involving a lot of movement using the “fire breath”.
  7. Aerial Yoga: A yoga style that uses a soft fabric as a prop to support the body. It can be very gentle or highly athletic -- ask the teacher if you can't tell from the description. 

STYLES THAT ARE PROBABLY BEST TO AVOID:

  1. Ashtanga: an intense aerobic workout. Most appropriate for athletic types.
  2. Bikram: athletic style done in a room at very high temperatures. 
  3. Power yoga: generic term for athletic styles of yoga.
  4. Vinyasa flow: Students flow from one pose to the next, often quite strenuous.
  5. Sivananda: Like Integral yoga, this style follows a sequence of asanas, but is often more physically challenging.

You may find other names of classes like 'mindful yoga' or 'yoga for stress reduction' or other creative names that give you an idea of the practice. These could be great classes too. 

REMEMBER: When in a yoga asana, do your best to steady the mind and ALWAYS keep yourself comfortable. And breathe.  That’s all you have to remember! Always take a break if you feel any pain or discomfort beyond a stretch. YOU are in charge of your body, not the teacher. I recommend going to class early to speak with the teacher about any specific concerns, fears, etc. A good teacher will gently guide you, never forcefully. Your #1 priority is to take care of yourself, not the feelings of the teacher. If the class doesn't work for you, leave. 

Dandelion pesto - your liver will thank you!

Dandelion pesto is one of my favorite foods! Try this recipe, your liver will love it! Let me know what you think. 

Put all of these ingredients in blender & blend:
               1 bunch dandelion leaves
               1/3 cup sprouted pumpkin seeds
               1/4 cup olive oil
               1-2 tsp truffle oil
               1 tsp truffle salt
               Juice from 1/2 lemon
               2-3 garlic cloves
               Optional: parsley or cilantro

The most delicious time of the year. . . cranberry salsa time.

Cranberry salsa

Fall and winter are my favorite food seasons. We still have loads of fresh veggies in Northern California yet it's cold enough to slow cook, bake, and eat lots of food in preparation for winter. One of my all time favorite recipes is built on a cranberry foundation. Cranberries are are available for only a very short season -- now. This recipe is always a HUGE hit at parties and it's delicious. Enjoy! 

Read More

Introducing...Reishi Roast!

Lily Mazzarella and I began our herbal adventures together over 10 years ago while earning our Masters of Science degrees in Herbal Medicine. Along that 3-year journey, we trained with international leaders in the field and got a whopping education in clinical herbal medicine, herbal safety, Ayurveda and nutrition. Since then, we have run Herb + Yoga retreats in Mexico, meditated silently together for 9 days, moved out west to pursue our careers, and cooked up dozens of tasty herbal concoctions...one so delicious, so sustaining — and for us, life-saving — that we decided to bring it out to the world.

Meet Reishi Roast.

It’s delicious. Reishi Roast (RR) is a robust, perfectly balanced blend of antioxidant herbs, medicinal mushrooms and superfoods formulated to give you clear, focused energy and whole body support. RR is highly medicinal and nourishes the nervous system, balances energy and supports your adrenals, immune system and detoxification. It has personally given me, and many of my clients, more balanced, even energy, improved sleep and supported our yoga and meditation practices with its deeply grounding energy.

Reishi alone is a classic and revered tonic, once reserved for royalty to extend life and improve health. Reishi is feel-good support from the deep woodlands, so earthy and rich it was meant to be brewed. Studies have found it to contain more than 400 active constituents that lend to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

We went ahead and combined Reishi with other powerhouse herbs including chaga mushroom, chicory root, dandelion root, milk thistle and milky oats, Mesquite pods, Cinnamon bark, Cacao & Himalayan Pink Salt. We spent over 5 years on this process until we created a blend that tasted so delicious that we knew it was time to share it with the world. 

RR can be brewed with, or instead of, coffee turning your morning ritual into full-body medicine & lasting energy. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

For more info: 
Join the conversation here on Facebook and let us know what you think. 
 
Check out this article about RR by the fabulous Sweatpants and Coffee.
Purchase your own bag here at Farmacopia

Don’t like the taste of coffee? You can still experience the benefits of RR in these delicious RR brownie bites!

Reishi Roast brownie Bites:

Ingredients
¾ cup raw walnuts
½ cup raw almonds
1 ¼ cup pitted medjool dates, packed well
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbsp Reishi Roast
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
~ ½ tsp Pink Himalayan salt
Optional: 1 tsp rose water, neroli hydrosol or other light flavor.

Instructions
1.   In food processor: process walnuts & almonds into a coarse, homogenous meal. Set aside.
2. Process pitted dates in a food processor until formed into a 'dough'
3.   Add to the food processor: ground nuts, cocoa powder, Reishi Roast, vanilla & sea salt. Process until ingredients are well mixed and clumping together.
4.   Coat hands in coconut oil, press mix into silicone candy molds and freeze. When frozen, remove individual treats & enjoy!  
5.   Store in airtight container in fridge or at room temperature.  

Nettle Soup - it's what's for dinner.

I love herbs. I'm surrounded by them from morning until night -- from culinary herbs & spices to tinctures, capsules and teas, herbs are a part of my daily life. One of my all time favorite herbs is Stinging Nettles. Nettle is a common weed and an excellent medicinal plant. It's a very nourishing tonic and it's neutral, meaning it's appropriate for just about everyone - it's not too heating or cooling and it's safe and for little Jimmy and Grandma too. In fact, the only risk with nettles is bumping into it while harvesting - those little needles contain formic acid (think bees and red ants) and are made for injecting.

Read More

Aerial Yoga - a fun & therapeutic practice for every body.

A regular yoga practice can support students both psychologically and physically. Unnata Aerial yoga is a unique style of yoga that brings forth elements of detoxification, playfulness, trust and surrender, to name a few. Like any yoga practice, aerial yoga can be a physically challenging practice, a deeply restorative practice or anything in between, depending on your individual needs. Below are some of the benefits of aerial yoga: 

Psychologically both breathing and movement are practiced in a mindful way that facilitates relaxation and grounding, as well as strengthening focus and concentration. Anyone dealing with chronic illness, such as cancer, and the associated treatments, surgery, fatigue, and generally finding ones’ way through the medical system, can experience the deeply empowering and supportive practice of yoga. Through breath work, movement and surrender, aerial yoga can help cultivate a deep sense of connection with your body while also offering a way to take an active role in your recovery process and overall well-being. Stress is a key component in managing any health condition. Yoga practice helps students learn to better manage stress and, therefore, support the recovery process in a grounded, authentic way.

Physiological benefits are far reaching and include increased immune digestive, respiratory and endocrine function as well as lymphatic detoxification and strengthening and stretching the musculo-skeletal system. All forms of exercise are inherently detoxifying as the lymph and blood are pumped via muscle flexion and increased circulation. Aerial yoga is no exception and enhances the detoxifying properties by gently massaging the lymph nodes and making inversions accessible without stress or pressure on the joints. Lymphatic drainage assists in purifying the body from every day toxins in our modern world including chemicals often used in cancer treatment.

Deep breathing combined with improved circulation increases the oxygen-rich blood flow to cells replacing toxins with much needed nutrients.

Balanced movements help increase or restore strength, range of motion, flexibility and overall health of the joints, muscles and skin. This, combined with the nervous system benefits, may reduce pain and increase function. Many students report an increase in quality of sleep, sustained energy levels and, perhaps most importantly, a higher level of willingness to be with, and maybe even be comfortable in, their own body, mind and spirit.

I will be teaching aerial yoga in France in June at the gorgeous Puyssentut  - a retreat center and source of well-being and inspiration for people with cancer. 

An open heart in a damaged world.

I think what I think about most is how to keep an open heart. With life so full of suffering, how do we keep our hearts open amidst the violence, poverty, injustice, environmental destruction, abuse and so on...?

I don't have an easy answer. It takes hard work, patience and a commitment to re-commit, over and over again even when we feel that we cannot possibly muster up the courage or energy to take another step, to trudge through the thick, viscous muck that we co-create. This requires daily practice. When we practice with the little things then we have a better chance of maintaining our ground when we're hit with something big: a death, a diagnosis, terminal or chronic illness, your partner packing a bag and leaving you on a Monday morning. 

Spiritual bypass has no place in this deep work. We can't just hang on to and chase the good. Or blame another. It simply isn't effective and it doesn't keep our hearts open. True equanimity means being authentic and in touch with all of you: the light AND the dark, the sweet and salty. And, when we stay present to the most unbearable feelings and sensations we often find that they shift. They aren't just huge dark blocky masses, they have shapes and edges and possibly even a softness that can be explored with curiosity as opposed to pushing it away with all our mighty resistance. Nothing is permanent. 

There is a story from a fabulous book called 'The Trauma of Every Day Life' by Mark Epstein that helps me keep my heart open. It's about a Thai Buddhist teacher who held up a glass and said ‘Some­one gave me this glass, and I really like this glass. It holds my water admirably and it glis­tens in the sun­light. I touch it and it rings! One day the wind may blow it off the shelf, or my elbow may knock it from the table. I know this glass is already bro­ken, therefore every minute with it is precious.’”

This is the notion of impermanence. And, perhaps, with practice and patience we can all learn to keep our hearts open not despite of, but because of, the impermanence and inevitable suffering around us. Because, seriously, what else is there to do? And maybe we can start to enjoy each other a little more because for all we know we might be dead by tomorrow. Listen to Soko preach it...

And let me know, what do you do to keep your heart open?