Alternative Valentine’s Day Sweeties

heart postSince my daughter, Jaiden, has many food allergies and food sensitivities I am always inventing new versions of treats and recipes.

I avoid artificial food colorings and flavorings, refined sugar and most of the crazy additives that are in processed foods. I am continuously on a mission to strengthen her immune system and since she’s even allergic to sunflower seeds, I know candy and regular sweets are not in her best interest.

However, she is a kid and she does like sweet treats. She asked me to “step it up” this Valentine’s and she wanted to give a treat to her classmates along with her signed cards. She stuffed each classmate’s card with a cowrie shell then taped a wrapped pink “rice crispy heart” to the Valentine’s card. I think they are great and yes, they have forms of sugar in them (not white refined) but they are vegan, non-gmo and gluten free. They are made from processed foods but at least they are made from more conscious & mostly organic sources. We juiced a beet and used the juice as a natural food coloring – the color was beautiful and Jaiden was pleased!

Pink Rice Crispy Hearts

3 T Earth Balance (or butter)
10 oz vegan marshmallows (we cut them up in smaller pieces)
4 cups crispy brown rice cereal (we used organic and gluten free)
1-2 T beet juice
1-2 tsp. coconut oil for coating pan


1. In large saucepan melt Earth Balance over low heat. Add marshmallows and beet juice. Stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
2. Add Crispy Brown Rice cereal and stir until well coated.
3. Using spatula or parchment paper evenly press mixture into 11x 7&1/2 x 2-inch pan coated with coconut oil. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares or use a heart shaped cookie cutter. Best if served the same day.

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February 20, 2013, Wednesday 6-8
February 23, 2013, Saturday 1-3

Cost: $15

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More information:
http://stillpointwell.blogspot.com/2013/02/staying-healthy-with-aromatherapy.html

Nosara Tahini Dressing

mixed-greens-lettuce-background-thumb23422042This dressing can make any dish taste delicious! I tend to cook very simply and use condiments at the end of cooking instead of during the cooking process. I usually lightly steam veggies, eat some veggies raw, or incorporate a cooking style called Nabe (similar to parboiling). I can add some healthy oils at the end to prevent the oils from going rancid and it keeps the flavor without it being “cooked” out.

Mostly I am trying to keep the nutrients intact and accessible (especially by soaking my grains, legumes and various nuts & seeds.)
Some people may argue that foods need to be fried, sauteed or grilled and loaded with salt, pepper & butter to have any flavor. In my humble opinion, I simply disagree.

Once you prepare this dressing and start adding it to your simply prepared meals, you will probably agree that it doesn’t take much to make simple transform into delicious.

Lately, this is my favorite lunchtime combo:
cooked quinoa
salad greens
avocado
cucumber
shredded carrots and/or red cabbage
chickpeas
small scoop of cultured veggies

Mix and match – add whatever you like, maybe nuts and seeds or other forms of protein. The options are endless.
I prefer it to eat my food out of a bowl, so I just layer the above ingredients and then top with the following dressing:

Nosara Tahini Dressing
1/2 cup cold pressed organic olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2-3 Tbsp. tamari or raw coconut aminos (for a soy free version)
1 tsp. turmeric* and/or cayenne
water to thin out to desired consistency (use very little)
Mix it all in a jar that you can store in the refrigerator and enjoy!

* turmeric is one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories available. If you can get it fresh, you are blessed.
It’s inexpensive, mild and benefits every system in the body. Adding some to your diet is one if the best things you can do for your health.

The jar of dressing can last a couple of days in the refrigerator. You will be pleased with your concoction and happy that your dressing is preservative free. Beware – it can be addictive!

Blue Zones and Cultivating Purpose

photo2Have you been searching for the magic bullet as a vehicle to ultimate health? What would your life look like if you experienced high-level wellness most of the time? Living in a world of information at our finger tips, millions of supplements claiming to make it all better and immediate satisfaction as the general standard/expectation creates a dissonance from our true self and basic needs.

Taking time to slow down, shrinking the to-do list and perhaps declining some invitations to social events that can stretch you too far might be the start to allowing more time to be with yourself. This is when you can take the time to realize that health is a vehicle and not a destination. What lights you up? What triggers your stress levels? Every person is different and to be familiar with your own triggers requires knowing yourself. When life is simplified we create space to breathe and reflect and become more expansive. There are some communities in this world that actually do this. In particular, these geographical hot spots are known as Blue Zones.

So, that brings me to life in The Blue Zone. I just spent the past month living in one of the world’s Blue Zones and I am intrigued by the people and their lifestyle. I was in Nosara a small city in the region of the Nicoyan Peninsula along the pacific coast of Costa Rica.

If this topic intrigues you, check out the book by National Geographic Explorer, Dan Buettner. Blue Zones, Lessons for Living Longer From the People who’ve Lived the Longest.

Buettner has studied specific regions of the world where more people live to 100 years old (centenarians) than other areas of the world. His research team came up with the common denominators amongst the inhabitants of these special hot spots. He wanted to know what were these people doing differently that contributed enriched years to their life.

The following is a general list of what he concluded:

  • they tend to put their families/loved ones first, (this may require some flexibility)
  •  being in the sunshine and getting adequate Vitamin D
  • being outside and in the elements for natural forms of exercise and movement, not being sedentary
  • having a strong faith based community to connect (helps to relieve stress and anxiety related to well-being)
  • feeling genuinely happy with life and oneself
  • they know their sense of purpose
  • adequate sleep (adapting to the natural rhythms of the sun)
I realize this entire list may be unreachable due to one’s personal circumstances, however trying to incorporate 1 of the above seems reasonable so give it a go if you are up for the challenge.
 
Here’s an inspirational bumper sticker expression to get you motivated, “This is your life, not a dress rehearsal.”
 
So live in the present moment and start breathing more deeply. Note: the long exhale is just as important as the inhale. Conscious breathing will give you time to cultivate awareness and react to life with more ease.
 
Pura Vida!