Light

I want to write of the light
but I do not know
whether words can illuminate
the way it hangs
upon branches and bird wings
and broken things
returning beings to beauty.
Can words spin substance
from sunshine and decay?
Can words cajole
celebration from night-weary
birds?
Can words warm surfaces
of stones and sorrows?
Can words reveal richness
in mundane
and battered
things?
I do not know.
But if we would write
a tomorrow
which is wider than wounds
we have worn,
we might wield words
like benedictions
and remember
blessings
within brokenness,
beginnings
within endings,
and beauty
within all things.
— Bernadette Miller

Tangy Chickpea Cauliflower Curry

 
 

This curry has a great tangy, fresh flavor! You can sub out different greens, use what you have on hand like I did! If you don't have ghee in your cabinet you can use coconut oil or butter. And if in fact you don't have ghee in your cabinet you should get some or make some! It has the most wonderful caramelized rich flavor.

Makes 4-6 servings

Time 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon ghee
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of each: coriander, mustard, fennel, cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, 2 cups florets
  • 1/2 bunch kale, 2 cups chopped
  • 1/4 head green cabbage, 2 cups chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Salt, to taste
  • Cilantro, chopped, for garnish

In a large pan heat ghee until melted. Add in the onion and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, and all other spices to the pan and saute for about 30 seconds. Pour the tomato sauce in and simmer with the spices for another minute. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and salt to taste. Serve with rice, I like to add turmeric to my rice while it cooks for golden rice, and top with chopped cilantro.

 

Environment for Fertility? Plus the Elimination Channels!

I wrote about this last week and got a few questions so here's my take on it.

One theory to the increasing numbers of couples who have difficulty becoming pregnant is the dramatic increase in environmental exposures we’ve had over the past decades.

In today’s world we are all exposed to toxins in our every day lives. We are exposed to pesticides and herbicides, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals and heavy metals on a daily basis.  Many of these substances can interfere with our health and hormone regulation and interrupt normal fertility. Pesticides and plastics in particular can interrupt the hormone function of the female reproductive system through various pathways, especially the ovarian cycle. We are exposed through our food, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the beauty products we use, the cleaning products we use in our homes, mold in older homes, and off-gassing of new homes, just to name a few. This may sound scary and there are many things we can do to avoid, or at least decrease our exposure, and improve the body’s ability to deal with these insults.
The first step to decreasing your body burden of toxins is to reduce your exposure, see last week's article on this.

Let’s talk about things we can do to improve our own ability to excrete the toxins we are exposed to. Like I wrote about last week, toxins in our bodies are excreted through our poop, pee and skin.
Make sure that all elimination channels are working well. The elimination channels, also called emunctories, include the GI tract, urinary tract, lungs, and skin.

  1. The GI tract: Let’s talk about poop. Humans are designed to have a bowel movement after waking up and after each meal. Optimally, poops are well formed and easy to pass. Fiber in the diet binds toxins in the GI, which come from the food we eat and toxins processed in the body and excreted by the liver, and that binding prevents initial absorption from our food and re-absorption from those excreted by the liver.
  2. The urinary tract: Humans don’t store water well and it's even more important for us to get water than food! There are many people who get enough water to get by but may still suffer from not enough to excrete toxins. Many toxins are excreted through the urine and it is important to keep your kidneys working well and that channel of elimination open.
  3. The lungs: For reasons beyond this article, I love working with the breath! Taking slow, 4-6 seconds in and out, belly breaths is a key to unlocking huge health potentials.
  4. The skin: Many heavy metals and other toxins are excreted extremely well in the sweat. Exercise is a great way to get your sweat on every day but to boost the sweating potential check out a dry sauna. There are many studies and a long history of use that praise the many health benefits of dry sauna. Also great for the skin is dry skin brushing.


Fiber … Water… Sweating…

A reminder to breathe...

It only takes a reminder to breathe,
a moment to be still, and just like that,
something in you settles, softens, makes
space for imperfection. The harsh voice
of judgment drops to a whisper and you
remember again that life isn’t a relay
race; that waking up to life is what we
were born for. As many times as you
forget, catch yourself charging forward,
that many times you can make the choice
to stop, to breathe, to be, and to walk
slowly into the mystery.
— Danna Faulds

Quick Quinoa Salad

Quick Quinoa Salad

This salad is easy to throw together and keeps nicely in the refrigerator for up to a week.  You can add in other veggies, greens, nuts, even dried fruit, herbs and spices.  Think of the rainbow, get creative! 

Salad:

  • 1 2/3 cups dry quinoa
  • 3 1/3 cups water
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 whole red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons tamari or shoyu
  • Optional garnishes: sliced black olives, tomatoes cut in wedges

Rinse quinoa with warm water and drain through a fine strainer.  Place quinoa in a 3-quart pan with water and salt; bring to a boil.  Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Allow quinoa to sit on very low heat, uncovered, for an extra 5 minutes so it dries out.  This makes the grain fluffier for salads.  Toss with fork and let cool.  Add carrots, red bell pepper, onion, cilantro, seeds, and garlic to quinoa; mix thoroughly.  Combine lemon juice, oil, and tamari.  Pour over quinoa and toss well.  Garnish with cheese, olives, or tomatoes if desired.

Coconut Cilantro Water

This easy to make, refreshing summer drink will help your body replenish electrolytes and bind and remove heavy metals before they are absorbed. This is a great one to take with you when you sauna! Combine it with acacia fiber and chlorella in the blender for an added binding boost!

Recipe:

•    700mL coconut water bottle (TasteNirvana is my favorite brand, for the taste and that it's in glass).
•    1 bunch cilantro
Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on high for 30-60 seconds, until there are no large pieces of cilantro leaf left. Drink a 4oz glass 1-3 times a day. Store in the fridge, will keep for a week.

Clean Up Your Act! for Fertility’s Sake

Are you a woman looking a have a baby in the near future or years down the road? Then you NEED to read this!

Let’s be real, we live in a toxic world. Luckily there are SO many things we can do to minimize our exposure and help our bodies get rid of the JUNK. So don't worry, or overly stress. Learn about things to avoid and do your best.

Why should you care? Not only can having a high toxin load set you up for many health conditions and make you feel less than your best today, it can also hugely impact your fertility potential.

In my philosophy on medicine, good fertility equals good health. Meaning that if you are your healthiest self you will have the best fertility potential. Now, I can’t promise that following this plan will preserve your fertility long-term, or you won’t have a baby with health challenges, but I can promise that YOU will feel your best self and your reproductive system will be it’s healthiest.

Fertility optimization’s goal is to have the healthiest baby possible, which starts before conception and continues after birth. The steps below are just one piece of fertility optimization. I believe that the first 1000 days of life, starting at conception, are the most important for determining the long term health of the individual. Beginning optimizing the health of the parents at least 3 months (the time it takes for the egg and sperm to fully mature and develop) before conception along with support for the first 1000 days, from conception to infancy, will result in the healthiest child, and parents, possible. Because let’s be real, once that baby comes it’s a lot of long nights and trying times, so making sure you are as healthy as possible ahead of time will really help.

If you are early in this process, not thinking of having a baby for several years, and on a reliable form of birth control then a real gift to yourself and your baby would be to do a detox. Toxins in the mother’s body can make it difficult to get pregnant, can be a factor in miscarriages, and are eventually passed to the baby.  An important principle in environmental medicine and detox is to stop, or limit, the exposures to harmful chemicals and toxic metals. This means clean up your life! The food you eat, the water you drink, the air you breathe, the home you live in, the things you put onto your body, the thoughts you think (not environmental but still very toxic), all affect you.

My basic detox program:

A gentle detox would be to eat a mostly vegetable based diet, drinking plenty of water, 40-100 hours total of sweats, de-stress to reduce overall inflammation, eliminate all alcohol and other drugs, and clean up your home for the long haul. Going through a program like this is far reaching for your health and the planet – those chemicals you use in your home, on your body and in your food have to go somewhere, and where they go is into you and into the ground, the water and the air.
  • Basic Life Clean Up, Removing exposures:

    • Home: Take a thorough look at your home cleaning products, how you wash your clothes, dryer sheets. I recommend a scent free, natural detergent, and NOT using dryer sheets. For cleaning products, buy low-to-no chemical products, or make you own! Stay tuned for recipes.
    • Body and Beauty: Take a hard look at your lotions, soaps, shampoo, conditioner, and cosmetics. You can use the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website or app for body and cosmetic products. There are so many chemicals added to our beauty products! I've been making my own lotions, deodorants, and toners for years and you can too!
    • Food: Eat mostly vegetables and start choosing local, season, and organic food. Organic foods are lower in endocrine-disrupting pesticides and herbicides. This time of year the farmers markets are a great way to eat organic. If this is financially difficult for you think about growing your own vegetables! It’s inexpensive and can be a great way for you to get some connection with nature. Remove alcohol, energy drinks, soda, and other drugs during your detox.
    • Water: Another common exposure is through water, I recommend getting a water filter that filters out chemicals, pharmaceutical drugs, and toxic metals.
    • Air: Indoor air quality is up to 10 times worse than outdoor air quality. Get an air filter, look for HEPA air filters and HEPA vacuums.
  • Sweating:

    • Fat and water soluble toxins, including toxic metals, insecticides, herbicides, solvents, and natural body waste, leave the body through sweating. Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It’s such a beautifully designed system we have that we can very effectively get rid of toxins through sweating from our skin. If you choose to do this, you must stay well rested and well fed during the program. Sauna uses up lots of energy; don’t start out tired or hungry!

    • Another thing to note about sweating for detox is that it releases a lot of toxins into the system which creates a huge potential for them to be eliminated but there is also a potential for them to do harm and cause inflammation in the meantime. Some people report getting headaches at the beginning of a detox. There are several nutrients that can help out your internal detox pathways and help your body get rid of the toxins. See your Naturopathic doctor for an individualized plan.

    • Type of sauna: Traditional dry or far-infrared sauna may be used to induce sweating. The temperature of the sauna should be around 140 degrees Fahrenheit, 60 degrees Celsius.
    • Really, take breaks! I recommend when you are feeling ready for a break to do a cold shower or plunge into cold water, then take 5 minutes to drink some water, eat a snack, and sit at room temperature before going back into the sauna. The important signs that you need a break for hydration, or electrolyte replenishing are:  headache, dizziness, “spaciness”, weakness, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, heart pounding, irritability, or just feeling uncomfortable.  These are your signals that it is time to end the day’s sweating session if they do not resolve with water and salty food consumption.
    • Snacks: I recommend lots of water! You might also choose to bring along beverages high in sodium and potasium, such as organic fresh vegetable and fruit juices, V8 juice, and sport drinks that are not sugared or caffeinated.  You may eat salty foods, like salted rice crackers. Avoid deep-fried salty snacks, such as chips, as their rancid oils slow the detoxification process. Get back in the sauna as soon as you comfortably can.

If you’re already pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the next 6 months then I recommend you do everything above except for the sauna/sweating portion. This is because when you sweat you release toxins from storage and they are moving around your body and will either be sweated out, peed out or pooped out and if that doesn’t happen they will find a new place to be stored inside you or your babies body. In the meantime, while they are moving around your body for days to weeks, before begin stored or excreted they are causing damage.

Glazed Nuts

Nuts are full of healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and fiber. They are also a high calorie food and are great to keep in your car or purse for a snack-mergency, or to take along with you for hikes and camping trips.

An expert health tip is to make sure your nuts aren't rancid when you buy them and store them in the freezer to keep them fresh as long as possible. When fats go rancid, become oxidized, they are no longer healthy for us to eat. This can happen when they are exposed to high heat, direct sunlight, and oxygen over a long period of time.

Glazed Nut Recipe

    These are versatile and make a delicious snack, on a cheese plate, they go great on a fresh green salad or cooked greens, on cereal, or tossed in a pasta or rice dish.  Any type of nut can work with this recipe. Don't go without these in your cupboard!

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup pecans, walnuts, almonds, or other nut
  • Extra-virgin olive oil or butter
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Pinch sea salt
  • Tiny pinch cayenne

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Lightly coat baking pan with olive oil or butter.  Combine pecans, syrup, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a small bowl and toss to coat.  Spread nut mixture into backing dish.  Bake until nuts are golden and maple syrup bubbles - about 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally to break up clumps.  Cool on baking sheet, remove while slightly warm with a spatula.


Preparation time: 20 minutes
Makes 1/3 cup

Healthy Living Basics

Here's our expert list of the healthy living basics!

  • Adopt a whole foods diet, organic when possible, locally grown and in season.
  • Exercise daily!  Move your body every day, rain or shine, inside or outside.  “Start low, go slow.” Sitting is the new smoking. Try the 7-minute workout.
  • Breathe slowly, and into your abdomen. Find your natural breath and let your breath breathe you.
  • Drink filtered water—1/3 to ½ your body weight in fluid ounces—daily.  Green/herbal teas count!
  • Eat the rainbow! Aim for 5 servings of vegetables and 2 fruits daily, mixed colors.  Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and black.
  • Organic! If nothing else, consume organic meats and dairy products. Aim for grass-pastured beef only, if you eat beef. In fact, try to limit your meat intake and eat more beans. For fruits and vegetables see the EWG's dirty dozen and focus on buying those organic. Easier places to shop:  Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, PCC , Farmers’ Markets; “natural foods” sections in Fred Meyer’s, Safeway, Costco.
  • Read labels!  Avoid hydrogenated oils, trans fats, chemical sugar substitutes (Splenda, Nutrasweet, Equal), nitrites/nitrates, artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, sodium benzoate, and anything you cannot pronounce.  Topically, avoid sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates, parabens, petrolatum, mineral oil, aluminum.
  • Recognize potential for food allergies/intolerances. Rotate the healthy foods you can eat, instead of eating the same thing every day.
  • Avoid microwave use, especially in plastic containers. In fact, avoid plastic for food storage in general, this includes canned foods unless they say BPA free.
  • Everything is connected to everything else--what impacts one area of your life will, to some degree, impact other parts of your life. 
  • List top 3 priorities in life.  Does your lifestyle reflect those, in that order?  If not, what steps need to be taken to truly walk your talk?

Garlic Sauteed Greens

I love this time of year! When the farmers markets open back up and I start getting my CSA with beautiful local, seasonal, organic produce every week. This is a fast and easy side dish. The technique is called braising and is a combination of a short medium heat saute and a longer low heat cook with the lid on and some liquid in the bottom on the pan.

The most common dark leafy greens are kale, chard, collard greens, and mustard greens.  Choose and one, or a combination, for your garlic sauteed greens. If I'm buying from the store or farmers market, I like to choose the whichever one looks the freshest.

Garlic Sauteed Greens

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch dark leafy greens, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or ghee
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

Garnish:

  • 1/2-1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon tamari

            For greens with tough stems, cut the leaves away from the stem before washing.  Wash greens carefully.  An easy way is to fill your sink with cold water and submerge the greens.  If the water has a lot of sediment, drain the sink and repeat.  Stack leaves and slice greens into thin strips.

            Heat oil in a 10-inch skillet.  Add garlic and saute a minute or so.  Add greens and keep them moving in the skillet.  Turn frequently so that all greens reach the heat.  When all greens have turned bright green and begun to wilt, remove from heat.  Sprinkle vinegar and tamair over the top. Toss gently and serve.

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Makes 2 cups, 4 servings

How to Avoid the Common Cold

It’s Spring cold season! Check out our expert tips to boost your immunity and stay healthy.

The common cold is one of the top reasons that people come into the doctors office. It’s understandable, it makes us feel lousy! Getting sick every now and then is a good exercise for the immune system, but we don’t need to be sick all the time. There are things you can do to boost your immune system and give your body the best chance to fight off illness.


Basic Health Habits

  • Sleep - Aim to get to bed by 10pm and get 7-8 hours of sleep each night for optimal health. Sleep deprivation has been shown to decrease your immunity.

  • Exercise - Long term moderate intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming and dancing, has been shown to boost various parts of our immune system.

  • Diet - Drink enough liquids and eat a variety of foods, especially vegetables, throughout the day. Dark leafy greens, yogurt, sauerkraut, and mushrooms have all been shown to boost immunity. Consider choosing organic foods, especially meats and dairy.

  • Stress Management - Being stressed suppresses our immune system. Find the strategies that work for you to decrease stress and promote happiness and relaxation every day, multiple times a day! Examples:

    • Exercise

    • Laughing

    • Mediation

    • Being in nature

    • Touch including massage, hugs, and holding hands

    • Being around people and animals who make you happy and doing things throughout your day, week and month that make you happy and bring you purpose

  • Probiotics - Taking probiotics daily has been shown to prevent colds and flus, along with other illnesses. Humans have many immune cells in our gut and probiotics help to boost immune activity.

Hygiene

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.

  • Stay home when you are sick.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze with a tissue or onto your elbow.

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

What if I do get sick?

If you do get sick, call your doctor for individualized management. When we come down with the common cold the goal is to get sick and clear it quick, without complications. There are many easy things you can do at home to support your body in recovering from the common cold. Speak with your Naturopathic Doctor for more information about your individual situation and determine which strategies would be beneficial for you.



Resources

http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4340140_SeasonalFluChecklist.pdf
http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/04/health/upwave-immune-boosters/index.html

Photo credits: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_olegdudko'>olegdudko / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Fun in the Sun, What You Need to Know

The Environmental Working Group 2016 guide to sunscreen just came out! Getting a good sunscreen is important to avoid toxic chemicals getting into your body, absorbed through your skin.

Our skin is the largest organ in our body and is our barrier to the outside world. Skin has the ability to absorb and release a huge number of chemicals, and because of this sweating is my favorite way to detox!

Back to the sun and skin story, a sunburn causes oxidative damage to your skin, and so does a sunscreen with toxic chemicals. Put the two on top of each other and you've got a bad combination. Oxidative damage over time can lead to premature aging of the skin, sun spots, pre-cancerous lesions, and skin cancer.

My favorite way to protect myself in the sun is to cover up with a good hat and light weight long layers, along with my favorite sunscreen Badger brand SPF 30!