Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Antipasto Salad (Autoimmune Paleo)

I'm not that big of a salad lover in general (especially since dairy and I broke up and I can't put goat cheese on them). I eat them and I do enjoy them, but I rarely really crave them. But, in the heat of the middle of summer, when you don't feel like cooking and crave something fresh, a nice meal salad can be just the thing. I've been digging this antipasto salad because, even without cheese, it's still luxurious and makes me feel as if I could be eating it on a cliff side in Positano. Who needs feta or ricotta salata when all the other ingredients are so yummy?

So. This isn't a recipe, per se, but rather an assemblage (that might be the first time I've ever used that word) of ingredients. You're going to have to wing it a little, but it's too easy to screw up.

Antipasto Salad

Basic ingredients:
-Chopped romaine lettuce
-Preservative-free prosciutto
-Kalamata olives (I like the ones in a wine vinegar brine)
-Thinly sliced red onion
-Frozen artichoke hearts, thawed

-Capers for extra saltiness (don't overdo them!)
-Thinly sliced fennel bulb for crunch
-Minced Italian/flat leaf parsley for extra nutrients (esp. vitamin C).

-Red wine vinegar
-Extra virgin olive oil
-Sea salt

Combine the salad ingredients and don't skimp on the prosciutto (protein!) and olives (healthy fat!). And, the more artichoke hearts, the better! They're beneficial for the liver and are a great source of insoluble fiber, which is important for gut flora diversity. Plus, they're just so tasty.

Mix the vinegar and olive oil with a bit of sea salt. I don't have exact proportions- I do it to taste, but it's usually roughly 1 part vinegar and 2 parts oil. Add salt to taste- remember, several of the ingredients are salty, too, so you may not need much.


Friday, June 3, 2016

Things I'm Loving: 2

As per usual, I'm way overdue for a post and I want to post something, so I'm taking the easy road and sharing more things that I especially love right now. Enjoy!

1. Traditional Medicinals Roasted Dandelion Root Tea
Besides having numerous health benefits, I really love the taste of this tea. It's roasty and sweet and tastes slightly like coffee. I like to brew 2-3 bags at a time (usually overnight) and drink hot or iced with coconut milk.

2. Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss Of The Foods We Love by Simran Sethi
Such an interesting, engaging, and entertaining book about five foods: cacao, coffee, wine, beer, and bread, and the issues surrounding loss of biodiversity, the production of, and the changing ecosystem that threatens these foods. Highly recommended for anyone concerned or curious about hoe their food is produced and the impact on the farmers and ecosystem.

3. Al Wadi Natural Rosewater
I found this rose water while shopping at the international market. I have to admit that I bought it partially because I loved the frosted glass bottle (and I was out of rose water). I'm super pleased with this particular rose water! It smells gorgeously fresh and slightly fruity, just like an actual rose (no fusty grandma rose smell here!). I use it as my toner to soften and calm my skin, and I mist my face with it if my skin needs some cooling down. It would also be fab added to cocktails, spritzers, and sweet things.

4. ReserveAge Collagen Replenish Powder
I've used numerous brands of collagen powder over the past few years, and though I know it's beneficial for healing connective tissue, the gut lining, and hair/skin/nail health, I can't say that I've ever noticed any of the purported beauty benefits. This collagen is different. Maybe it's due to the inclusion of hyaluronic acid, or maybe it's the specific form of collagen peptides, but my skin is noticeably more hydrated. This powder mixes easily into beverages and I usually add it to my coffee or tea.

Several of the links I've provided for products are from iherb.com, where I do a lot of my supplement shopping. If you've never shopped at iherb, here's my referral code for $5 off your first order: HAZ439

Happy summer!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Things I'm Loving, Volume 1

I always like to see what's working for other people and improving their lives. So, I've decided to start a very informal series that I plan to be ongoing, detailing random things I've discovered that have made my life better in some form. I hope you enjoy my first edition.

D Minder app.
This free app is so helpful and satisfying to use. It calculates how much vitamin D you can make based on your location, angle of the sun, time of day, UV index, your skin color, and how much clothing you're wearing. I have to say that I find it really fun to see the estimated I.U.'s being caluculated as I get some sunshine and it motivates me to get outside during my D window.
If you live in a part of the world where you aren't able to make vitamin D this time of year, it'll tell you exactly how many days until you can!

Choice Organics Wild Forest Black Tea
This lovely black tea is smooth and a little bit floral and so reasonably priced (score!!). It reminds me of my beloved Yunnan teas, which are also harvested from mature, old tea trees, rather than from bushes. I save my bag and brew a second cup in the afternoon.

Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman
This book really changed how I view movement has and shown me that proper "nutritious" movement and the mechanotransduction (the signals our movement sends to our cells) it creates, is just as vital to cellular health as food, sleep, and supplements. I'm much more motivated to vary my movement and loads and to work on correcting some unhealthy patterns of movement I have. Also, Katy is kind of hilarious. I really enjoy her writing style.

Briogeo Blossom and Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Volumizing Shampoo
I'm actually testing this shampoo right now for another website and I. LOVE. IT. I have medium-fine hair and this stuff really delivers on volume, but not at the expense of shine or softness. My hair is so happy and bouncy and even retains a bit of bounce on the days I don't wash it. It also smells nice (it has a grapefruit-orange scent with a faint hint of ginger), lathers well without drying, and has no sulfates, parabens, gluten, or artificial fragrance (which I don't tolerate well). Win-win.

Stay tuned for more things I'm loving!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Qigong For Autumn: Strengthening Lung Energy

Happy Autumn!
I've been wanting to do a simple series on seasonal qigong exercises for awhile and now seems like a good time.

Qigong (pronounced "chee-kung"), like Tai Chi, is a meditative movement and breathing practice that circulates energy through the meridians of the body. It loosely translates to "energy skill." Medical Qigong is a form that focuses on strengthening and balancing the energy of specific organs. You don't have to be flexible or strong to practice it. You don't need a mat or special clothing. In fact, many movements can even be done sitting in a chair if you're feeling especially weak or fatigued. It's something that nearly everyone can do safely and it's a very healing modality for people with chronic fatigue and adrenal fatigue. Ideally, you want to establish a consistent practice, even if it's only for a few minutes a day. Consistency is important.

Since it's Autumn, we'll start with the lungs. This is the perfect time of year to work on strengthening and balancing our lung qi, as well as to release negative emotions that are associated with the lungs which often tend to arise during Autumn.

As the weather gets cooler and the humidity of summer leaves, the seasonal energy shifts to the element of metal, which corresponds to the energy of the lungs. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the lungs are impacted by the negative emotions of sadness and grief. They are the bellows which move qi throughout the body and they govern the energy of our protective energy field called the Wei Qi field, which corresponds to our innate immune system, and works to keep pathogens at bay. Each organ has both positive and negative traits and emotions associated with it and the positive traits of the lungs are courage and integrity. Qigong can help us to develop those positive traits over time. Each organ is also represented by a color and an animal. In the case of the lungs, the color is white and the animal is a white tiger. I like to imaging that the white tiger is the part of my immune system that prowls about, protecting me from pathogens. Good kitty.

Symptoms of lung energy imbalances include obvious lung issues like asthma, coughs, bronchial issues, sinus problems, and allergies, but also constipation (the lungs are partners with the large intestines), and skin problems like dry skin and eczema, since the lungs influence our skin's protective mechanisms.

Taking a few minutes every day to do a simple qigong exercise that strengthens and balances lung energy can help us to prepare for the immune challenges of winter, as well as to release sadness, grief, and any excessive pensiveness that may arise with the seasonal shift. If you'd like to focus on releasing emotions, you can add a "Sssssssss" sound on the exhale while you imagine grief and sadness exiting your body with your breath. This vibrates the lungs to help release the stuck energy of sadness and grief. This article explains more about how the lungs are impacted by grief and it contains helpful tips, including dietary tips, to cultivate healthy, balanced lung energy.

Below is a video with a simple exercise to balance and strengthen lung energy. Remember to keep your breathing relaxed and breathe into your belly, rather than into your chest and shoulders. I like to imagine my breath as if it's dropping down through one of those narrow-necked squashes and expanding once it reaches my belly. This video is great for learning qigong breathing. Another tip that increases the effectiveness of qigong breathing is to keep your perineum gently contracted to "seal" in all the energy that accumulates in your lower abdomen. This is a technique that is often not taught to qigong beginners, but it makes a difference.

If you'd like to incorporate some healing color imagery, you can imagine that you are inhaling white energy or white light, the color of the lung/metal element. I like to do a few repetitions of "channel dredging" before I begin any qigong movements. Channel dredging opens up the channels/meridians for better energy flow. It's also energizing and can feel great to do when you want to release the feeling of having negative or blocked energy or just need to blow off some steam.

If you are interested in learning a complete qigong routine that includes all of the organs, I highly recommend the dvd Chi Kung- The Healing Workout. It includes an extra section on proper form, which is helpful and makes a difference in how effective your practice is. This is the same routine I learned in Medical Qigong school.

Here's to happy, healthy lung energy and a wonderful Autumn!