There are probably two things that I hated giving up when I started eating healthy...salty, seasoned chips! I would almost climb the wall because there was nothing that would satisfy the need for salt and crunch. While our bodies require salt, or minerals, in our diet, we really could do without the sodium in the unhealthy chemical form, such as table salt.
Table salt, which is approximately 97% Sodium Chloride, is chemically produced, bleached and lacks essential nutrients. In many cases table salt contains aluminum, which has been linked to Alzheimers disease and other issues. While natural salt, such as sea salt, forms naturally, table salt does not.
I eventually pushed against the notion that salt was "bad" and began researching ways I could include more natural-occurring salt into my diet. I was pleasantly surprised to find that were so many natural salt options available. Such as the following:
Sea Salt (most popular)
Harvested from evaporated sea water, sea salt is usually unrefined and coarser-grained than table salt. It also contains some of the minerals from where it was harvested – zinc, potassium and iron among them – which give sea salt a more complex flavor profile. “Sea salt” is a pretty broad term, as it includes some of the specialty salts described below. Sprinkle it on top of foods for a different mouth feel and bigger burst of flavor than table salt.
Also known as sel gris (French for “grey salt”), Celtic sea salt is harvested from the bottom of tidal ponds off the coast of France. The salt crystals are raked out after sinking; this, plus the mineral-rich seawater its extracted from, gives Celtic salt its moist, chunky grains, grey hue and briny taste. Great as a cooking and finishing salt, as well as for baking.
Himalayan Pink Salt
Of the different types of salt, Himalayan salt is the purest form of salt in the world and is harvested by hand from Khewra Salt Mine in the Himalayan Mountains of Pakistan. Its color ranges from off-white to deep pink. Rich in minerals – it contains the 84 natural minerals and elements found in the human body – Himalayan salt is used in spa treatments, as well as the kitchen.
Its mineral content gives it a bolder flavor than many other salts, so use it as a cooking and finishing salt – or to add a bit of flair to a salt-rimmed margarita!
Black Hawaiian Salt
Also known as black lava salt, black Hawaiian salt is a sea salt harvested from – you guessed it – the volcanic islands of Hawaii. It gets its deep, black color from the addition of activated charcoal.
Coarse-grained and crunchy, black Hawaiian salt is great for finishing hearty soups and stews.
Red Hawaiian Salt
Also called alaea salt, this unrefined, red Hawaiian salt gets its name and color from the reddish, iron-rich volcanic clay alaea.
Used for centuries in ceremonial ways for cleansing, purification and the blessing of tools, red Hawaiian salt is also great in the kitchen, adding an attractive finish and robust flavor to seafood and meat, as well as traditional island dishes like poke and pipikaula, a Hawaiian jerky.
Fleur de Sel (used in ISW Organics Detox bath salts)
One of my favorites! Literally “flower of salt,” fluer de sel is a sea salt hand-harvested from tidal pools off the coast of Brittany, France. Paper-thin salt crystals are delicately drawn from the water’s surface, much like cream is taken from milk. This can only be done on sunny, dry days with a slight breeze, and only with traditional wooden rakes. Because of its scarcity and labor-intensive harvesting, fleur de sel is the most expensive salt (five pounds will run you a cool $80), earning it the nickname “the caviar of salts.”
It retains moisture, and has blue-grey tint,from its high mineral content and oceanic beginnings. If you can afford it, use fleur de sel as a finishing salt to add an impressive dash of flavor to vegetables, even sweets like chocolate and caramel...and I LOVE my salted caramels (recipe in "FEED" recipe book.
Kala namak (“black salt” in Nepalese) is Himalayan salt that’s been packed in a jar with charcoal, herbs, seeds and bark, then fired in a furnace for a full 24 hours before it’s cooled, stored and aged.
This process gives kala namak its reddish-black color, its pungent, salty taste and a faint, sulfurous aroma of eggs. It’s often used in vegan and vegetarian dishes to give egg-free dishes the taste of egg, as well as in Ayurvedic practice
So, if you're like me and you're looking for natural ways to scratch that salt itch, I'd love for you to try this easy-to-make Zucchini Chips recipe and this awesome "Dorito"-like seasoning which can be dusted on your chips after baking. Both recipes, as well as a Nacho Cheese and Spicy Taco Seasoning can be found in my new recipe book, "FEED". Learn More Here.
Zucchini Chips & Ranch Seasoning
Author: Regina Thomas Dillard
Author: Regina Thomas Dillard
I used to hate my moon time. Just the thought of it brought worry, anxiety and body discomfort. There was nothing about it that said "sacred", much less "celebratory". You may be wondering, "moon time"...what's that?" Moon time, another name for a woman's menstrual cycle, is the sacred time of a woman when she is honored as the Mother of the Creative Force. During this time her body is allowed to release the old energy her body has carried and prepare for re-connection to the Earth, her fertility and one which will be carried in the next Moon or month. Our ancestors understood the importance of allowing a woman her Sacred Space during this time because women were the carriers of abundance and fertility. The moon carries with it energy and is considered the weaver of tides (water or blood of the Earth), so a woman's cycle follows the rhythm of that weaving. Many cultures believe when women live together in a common space, their bodies begin to regulate their menses and all will eventually have their Moon Time concurrently. While we may think, "women mensing at the same time...and under one roof? That's too much hormornal imbalance in one space!" Actually, This natural rhythm is one of the bonds of Sisterhood.
I was thirteen when my moon time first appeared..it was the summer prior to entering freshman year in high school. Although I wasn't fully prepared for what was to come, I felt like the character "Carrie" in the move of the same name. My mom did as much mental prepping as she possibly could, but nothing could prepare me for what I would release from my body. It was an extremely scary and isolating moment for me. Unfortunately, I did not have much support from the women in my family, partly because this was not something which was announced or discussed with others in the family. My first period was not celebrated. It may have been considered a rite of passage, but I felt I was hidden away. I had been brought up to believe that menstruation was a biological disadvantage, making women emotional, unreasonable and unreliable workers. Early on, I went through seasons of guilt, irritability, cramping, bloating and sometimes depression, often missing school. I hated the sight of blood. I thought it was icky...dirty...unsanitary. I was always worried about spotting, leaking or being found out. I thought if I went out in public, someone would know I was menstruating and treat me like a leper, shouting "Unclean! Unclean!" What a terrible thing to go through as a young girl transitioning into womanhood. Actually, I don't blame my mother for what I was going through - I love her very much - however she may not have been equipped to fully support me in ways which would help me process this time in my life. Nevertheless, my mom did something very special for me, although I didn't know how special until I became an adult.
I recall my sister and I going with my mom to her friend's house. My mom asked her to piece our ears. The women asked my mom how old we were and she replied, "Regina is thirteen...". The woman inspected me from head to toe as if she were giving me a physical exam. She said to my mom, "Come back in few months when the moon cycle is better". I looked at the women, then looked at mom, who simply replied "ok". My mom and her friend continued their conversation and that was that. Wait..."Moon Cycle?" I was confused by the language. She was my mom's friend, but at moment she sounded like the village witch doctor.
What I later learned was many tribal traditions celebrate a young woman's "first blood" by honoring them with gifts, such as allowing their daughters to have their ears pierced as a sign of her stepping into womanhood. At the time, I had no idea I was being honored. This is certainly a treasured memory I carry with me to this day. However, many young girls are never honored and how a woman is guided through this experience will affect her for the rest of her life.
Later I learned my pre-menstrual symptoms was my body's way of telling me "Go within." "Connect with Self." "What is it you truly desire?" "What do you want to release from your life?" What do you want to attract into your life?" "What are your goals or creative aspirations?"
I keep a moon time calendar. I know exactly when to expect my cycle. I plan all social activities around my moon time and I cancel activities which will prevent me from tuning into me and I avoid emotionally draining conversations. This year I turned 50 and my moon time started on that day. What a gift! I celebrated my birthday, but not in the usual fashion. I went out with select friends, ate light meals, typically salads, seeds, nuts, dried fruit, dark chocolate and drank Moon Time Balance Tea starting two days prior to my cycle and the first three days into my cycle, which are typically days I experience some perfectly normal emotional imbalance. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important, as food allows your body to detoxify during this time. Our bodies requires foods which will encourage nutrient absorption.
As far as activities, this is the perfect time to turn off the television and journal. Go for walks. Pray. Meditate. Read spiritual books. Attend a yoga class. Take Aromatherapy Salt Baths or Milk Baths. Light candles. Take a nap. Listen to soothing music. Sit in nature. Visit a park or botanic garden. Commune with God, Source, Creator. Women are spiritually intuitive during this time, allowing for creative energy to flow. Who knows? You may be able to provide the guidance or intuition needed for that business idea or project your spouse/significant may be wrestling with. My ex-husband can testify. When he wanted to become an entrepreneur and lacked the resources, I provided him the resources and business ideas to launch his business. I received all of these idea "downloads" during my moon time. He's has been working his barber business successfully for over 14 years. I am very proud to have been part of that process.
Now is not the time to become quiet about what you need. Your family is important, but so are you. Take the time you need...a few hours each day during your moon time. Be sure to communicate how you'd like to be supported. Perhaps regular chores can be delegated to someone else in your family or farmed out to a service provider. Talk to your family and let them know you need this time for yourself, in a way they can understand. What I know to be true is this - when you honor and respect your body and your moon cycle, others will too. As our bodies are supported, nurtured and nourished, it will support us on other levels - mental, emotional and spiritual. As you begin the healing process and look within by addressing your relationship with your cycle, your pre-menstral symptoms will decrease.
Let's talk about menstrual products. Yes, I'm going there, so stay with me. The disposable sanitary industry is a billion dollar business. It is said, the average woman uses a whopping 15,000 disposable sanitary items in her lifetime - to hide the bleeding. We use cotton materials, typically bleached cotton to plunge into our delicate, sensitive vaginas and just about all of the products were created by men. Good news! There are alternatives, such as washable pads, sponges and mooncups, which I prefer. There are also beautifully made sheet protectors, period pads and covers on the market which catches any leaked fluids overnight - you can typically find these items on Etsy.com. The best part...these products were created by women for WOMEN! Don't be afraid to come in contact with your blood. Washing your blood from your garments or from your re-usable moon cycle product can be a ceremony each month - allowing you time to nurture, reflect and respect the rhythms of your body as you wash.
Embrace your moon time...your daughter's, granddaughter's, sister's, niece's moon time. Each month is a time to take the opportunity to share and support out sisters, to reconnect with our ancestors, our heritage, educating our sons and brothers, connecting our inner magic and reclaiming our natural birthright.
I pray my experiences and information shared will have you thinking differently about your moon time.
You Are Beautiful.
I often share my personal wellness journey with community members of my Facebook support group My Living Body 360. There, I share information about my 30-day detox which allowed me to shed unwanted weight, waste material and also parasitic invaders...for me, yeast. When I started the detox, I was limited to mostly green, fresh foods which created a healthy environment in my body for healing, but disturbed and agitated the yeast colonies in my intestinal tract. The goal was to flush out all that had been parasitic colonies growing inside my body from the time I was a child. Candida, or yeast is not easy to get rid of and it takes sheer will, a commitment to self, and a clear understand of why one is doing it in the first place.
What is candida, you ask? Well, this is what I've learned through independent research and medical/clinical resources.
Candida is a fungus, which is a form of yeast, and a very small amount of it lives in your mouth and intestines. Its main job is helping out with digestion and nutrient absorption. Small amounts of yeast in the body is normal, but an overproduction, not so much. Overproduced yeast can break down the wall of the intestine and penetrate the bloodstream - releasing toxic by-products into your body and cause candidiasis (candida infection). This can lead to a myriad of of health problem, including but not limited to:
Protruding Bell/Belly Fat
Lack of Nutrient Absorption
Oral Thrush/White-coated Tongue
Since the body is a whole, living unit, the toxic waste yeast eliminates affects other auxiliary organs such as the liver, kidneys, colon and blood. Therefore, In order to treat candida, one must be willing to detox the body, and not just the intestines...a system flushing.
Additionally, in order to create an environment for healing, one must include alkaline foods which will support detoxing, such as leafy greens, non-starch vegetables, vegetables broths, but eliminating sugar (off all kinds), fruit (of all kinds including tomatoes), meat/meat products, dairy, starchy and root vegetables (including white and sweet potatoes) nuts, grains and seeds. You may be wondering, who can survive off this diet? That's a great question! I realized very early, the diet part of the cleanse was going to be fairly easy for me since I am a living food chef. However, for the average person, this presented a challenge. Many of my clients had a sincere desire to detox their bodies, but they did not know how to feed themselves. Therefore, I decided to create recipes which not only includes healing alkaline recipes, but raw, vegan and vegetarians recipes which will support their wellness journey post-detox.
As a side note, your doctor may not be familiar with gut-related conditions like Candida, as it can mask as other health-related diseases as the ones mentioned above. You may also be prescribed antibiotics or cream to treat the symptom, but if not diagnosed properly, the treatment may be temporary and or make the underlying infection worse. A trained holistic practitioner is trained to look at body as a whole and may accurately diagnose the issue and assist you in integrate a plan which promoted healing.
Following a very simple alkaline soup recipe you make quickly and with a few ingredients.
Alkalinizing Vegetable Soup
Author: Regina Thomas Dillard
3 Boy Choy Stalks, chopped (leaves and stalks)
1/2 Onion, Chopped
1/4 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/2 Zucchini, chopped
2 cups Vegetable Broth
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Thyme
2 Garlic Cloves Crushed
Dash Cayenne Pepper
In a medium pot, mix together vegetable broth, salt, black pepper, thyme, garlic and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil. Add vegetables and boil for 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are cooked, but retains a natural crunch. Note: You want to make sure not to overcook the vegetables. The goal is to allow the broth to steam the vegetables which helps retain natural enzymes aiding in nutrient absorption and digestion.
Transfer to a soup bowl and serve immediately. Yield: 1-2 servings.
Note: If detoxing, this recipe should be eaten alone, without bread or crackers. However, you may eat as much as you want.
My new recipe book "Feed" in stores December 2017
Years ago, when I started incorporating more living foods into my diet, I soon discovered I had a protein deficiency. While there are plenty of protein sources in living plants, I simply wasn't getting enough of it. As a result, I began experiencing symptoms which let my body know something was "off". I was feeling sluggish, coupled with muscle fatigue, chronic headaches and hair loss. The first three symptoms could easily be explained away, but the hair loss was troublesome, as I had never experienced this before. So, I began doing research and sought ways to increase my protein intake to include more dark leafy greens, seeds, nuts (sparingly) and a vegan protein shake twice a day. After only two weeks, I began feeling more energized. However, my 17 year old son, who had also begun eating more plant-based foods, was now becoming more active with sports, a job, clubs, along with his high school career. I wondered if he was receiving enough protein to support his busy lifestyle, but more importantly his body. I wanted to provide him healthy ways to increase his protein intake, but I knew it had to be portable. A former co-worker, who considers herself "paleo", introduced me to protein balls. They were simple, easy-to-make snacks which included nuts, seeds, natural sweeteners and healthy ingredients which would keep the body satiated. Best of all, they were portable! I searched the internet for recipes, but the ones I found yielded dry, crumbly protein balls. So, I decided to create my own recipe with ingredients which I love and were a staple in my pantry - almond butter, coconuts and honey. This is one of the most delicious snack recipes in my catalog. This recipe is one of many in my new recipe book, available this #holidayseason2017.
Try this recipe and let me know how you like it!
Almond Butter Protein Balls
Author Regina Thomas Dillard
1 cup Almond Butter
1/4 cup Raw Honey
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1-1/2 cups Oats, dry, uncooked
1/2 cup Coconut Flakes, unsweetened
1/3 c. Cocao Nibs (sub vegan Chocolate Chips)
Avocado are, without a doubt, a staple in my diet. I've used this wonderful fruit (yes, it's a fruit!) in many of my recipes and sometime as a stand-alone snack. This delicious and delicate food is nutritionally dense and satisfying, which is why I like to use them in my smoothies and desserts. However, I've also discovered another way to use avocado - as a salad dressing! When you combine ripened avocado with other ingredients such as apple cider vinegar, spices and a touch of olive oil, you have a creamy salad-topper which beats any commercial-bought dressing any day of the week, in my humble opinion.
Avocados also offers these 11 amazing health benefits.
Here's an easy way to incorporate avocado into your diet. This salad dressing , or crudite dip, can be made with ingredients you may already have in your pantry, plus one of my all time favorite seasonings, Smoky Paprika Chipotle. by Victoria Gourmet. This Paprika Chipotle Seasoning offers a smoky mesquite, not overly spicy, flavor which adds the perfect "kick" for your favorites recipes. This is especially delicious when adding to veggie chilis and taco when you want add another layer of flavor. You may be able to find this item at your local or specialty grocer, but here's a little secret, they also sell this item, occasionally, at Marshall's, TJ Maxx and Homegoods retailers.
Author: Regina Thomas Dillard
1 Avocado, small, ripe
1/4 c. Vegan Mayo
1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
4 Dashes Hot Pepper Sauce
1 Round Tbsp Victoria Smoky Paprika Chipotle
3/4 c. Almond Milk
Place all ingredients in food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. If you would like a more fluid dressing, adjust consistency with almond milk, a little at a time. Store in refrigerator up to 4 days.
Honestly, I only started eating lentils three years ago when I stumbled upon Trader Joe's lentil soup in the refrigerated section. One of the reasons I liked it so much was because it was filling and became a great animal protein substitution, for the most part. I also liked the fact that it was easy to prepare, once the grain (legumes, actually) had been soaked overnight.
I'm one of those people who can eat soups year-round, but hearty soup recipes, like the one I'm posting below, seems more appropriate during the cooler or cold weather months. I'm not a fan of using the term "comfort", as it applied to food, but in this case, lentil soup seems to provide comfort for my soul, and more importantly, essential nutrients for my body.
Lentils provides a wealth of health benefits, but I'll focus on the top 7 which includes:
Lowers CholesterolLentils help to reduce blood cholesterol since it contains high levels of soluble fiber. Lowering your cholesterol levels reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke by keeping your arteries clean.
Promoted Good Digestion
Lentils has been found to prevent constipation and other digestive disorders like IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome) and diverticulosis.
Promotes Hearth Health
Studies show that eating high fiber foods like lentils reduces your risk of heart disease. Lentils are also a great source of folate and magnesium, which are big contributors to heart health. Folate lowers your homocysteine levels, a serious risk factor for heart disease. Magnesium improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Low levels of magnesium have been directly associated with heart disease, so eating lentils will keep your heart happy!
Of all legumes and nuts, lentils contain the third-highest levels of protein. 26 percent of lentil’s calories are attributed to protein, which makes them a wonderful source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.
Blood Sugar Stabilizer
Lentils helps stabilize blood sugar levels, which can be beneficial to those suffering from diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.
Lentils increase steady, slow-burning energy due its fiber and complex carbohydrates. Lentils are also a good source of iron, which transports oxygen throughout your body and is key to energy production and metabolism.
Promotes Weight Loss
Although lentils include all these beneficial nutrients like fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins, they are still low in calories and contain virtually no fat. One cup of cooked lentils only contains about 230 calories, but still leaves you feeling full and satisfied.
BTW...Bulk is Usually Better
Although I buy prepacked dried peas and beans from time to time, I find it easier and much less expensive to purchase these from the bulk bins. I can typically purchase as much or as little as I need, especially if I'm only preparing a recipe periodically, plus it costs much less per pound than prepackaged items. However, always ask your grocer how quickly a particular bulk item moves, as you want to make sure you are buying the freshest ingredients available.
Slow Cooker Red Split Lentil Soup
Author: Regina Thomas Dillard
2 cups Red Split Lentils (soaked overnight)
8 Roma Tomaoes, hand-crushed or chopped (sub. 2 cans Fire-roasted Tomatoes)
4 Garlic Cloves, crushed (sub. 2 tsp crushed garlic - from jar)
2 Vegetable Boullions (sub 1 tsp Vegetable "Better Than Boullion" paste)
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
3 Celery Stalks, diced
3 Carrots, diced
1 Onion, medium, diced
2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp. Dried Thyme
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
2 Bay Leaves, whole
Slow Cooker Method:
Drain lentils and rinse thoroughly. To slow cooker stock pot, add lentils and all ingredients. Cover with water. Allow to cook on high for 4 hours. Adjust salt seasoning as needed.
Stove Top Method:
Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until lentils and vegetables are tender. Drain lentils and rinse thoroughly. To slow cooker stock pot, add lentils and all ingredients. Cover with water. Allow to cook on high for 4 hours. Adjust salt seasoning as needed.
This past Saturday, my family and I ventured out to Harvard, IL, a 90-minute drive from my home, to visit Royal Oak Orchard. for its annual Honeycrisp Picking Event. The orchard sits on 50 acres with over 17,000 trees which included lots of walking - it's a good thing we wore comfortable shoes. Although there are 30 varieties of apples, such as MacIntosh, Jonathan, Royal Gala, Crispin, Braeburn and Granny Smith, to name just a few, not all varieties are ripe at the same time. Be sure to call ahead to make sure your favorite apples are in season and ready for picking.
I thought it would be a great idea to pick a bushel, or two, of Honeycrisp apples for my upcoming living food class. I'm thinking of making Raw Apple Sauce, which is always a favorite recipe in the fall. Some of the characteristics and flavor notes of the Honeycrisp apple are: Exterior: Blushed scarlet over a yellow background. Interior: Creamy white flesh that breaks apart easily. Experience: Juicy, with a refreshing sweetness similar to fresh apple cider. Just like the name implies, Honeycrisp apples are crisp, with a unique texture that fractures cleanly with each bite.
If you have never eater a fresh-picked apple, I recommend visiting your local orchard and experiencing it at least one. However, I caution you: one bite and you may never want a store-bought apple again. To locate fruit orchards in your state, view the Unites States Orchard Directory.
6 Large Honeycrisp Apples, peeled and cored
8 Medjool Dates, pitted
1 1/2 Tbsp Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Process all ingredients in food processor until desired consistency. For chunkier sauce, process less time. For smoother sauce, gradually add water, up to 1/4 cup.
Transfer to glass mason jar, secure lid. Store in refrigerator up to 5 days.
3 Honeycrisp Apples + 3 Pears, (ripened, peeled, cored)
Proceed with recipe above
I look forward to the fall season so I can take advantage of the earth's yield this time of year. Acorn squash is at the top of my "Fall Fav's" list and I try to find new ways to use this wonderful vine vegetable. Although considered a winter squash, the acorn squash is from the same family as summer squash, which includes zucchini. It is a botanical fruit which is treated as a culinary vegetable. Squash is native to the Americas. Thought to be the first food cultivated by Native American Indians, squash, along with beans and corn, is part of the Indian triad of the three most important food staples.
I've incorporated acorn squash in soups, stews and curries, but there's nothing like the simplicity of roasting these beauties, which softens the skin and brings out the rich, buttery and sweet flavor notes. For this reason, I tend to treat the acorn squash like a dessert, which is why I use a small amount of natural sugar to lightly caramelize the flesh. So, the next time you're shopping the produce department, pick up an acorn squash and experience the wonderful flavors hiding behind the green, rigid skin.
For your reference, I've included a simple recipe below for Caramelized Acorn Squash. Try it out and let me know how you like it!
Caramelized Acorn Squash
Author: Regina Thomas Dillard
Preparation Notes: You'll need to remove the fibers and seeds from the center of the acorn squash before steaming, broiling or baking. To make the squash easier to cut, pierce the skin in a few spots before baking. The deeper the yellowish orange color of the flesh, the sweeter it is.
2 Acorn Squash (halved, seeded)
4 Tbsp Coconut Sugar (2 Tbsp per squash)
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1/2 tsp Cinnamor or Nutmeg
1 Tbsp each (Pistachios, Walnuts, Raisins) May substitute raisins for dried cranberries or chopped dates
Remove seeds and fibers from squash. With flesh side up, drizzle with coconut oil. Wrap squash with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 40 minutes or until flesh is tender. Remove squash from oven. Add Coconut Oil, Sugar and Cinnamon to each acorn half. Place halves under broiler for 5-10 minutes, or until flesh has caramelized. Remove from broiler and top with nuts and dried fruit. Allow squash to stand 2 minutes before slicing.
When was the last time you...
Connected with nature? Watched the sun rise? Looked up into the starry night sky for at least 20 seconds? Went for a 15 minute walk? Hiked a trail? Sat on a park bench and ate lunch? Played at the local park with your kids/grands? Took off your shoes and walked in the grass? Sat on the beach?
Listened to the ocean waves? Went swimming, snorkeling, kayaking? Visited a botanic garden or nature conservatory?
Did you know researchers found that more very young children can play a computer game and open a web browser than swim or ride a bike. Meanwhile there has been a steady decline in visits to U.S. national parks, and a drop in hiking, camping or fishing.
Today many children, as well as adults suffer from what researchers call “nature-deficit disorder”— reduced awareness and a diminished ability to find meaning in the life around us.
Yet research shows that there are important positive correlations between human health, intelligence and nature. Studies reveal that humans, in general, are healthier, happier, and perhaps even smarter and more creative when they have a connection to nature.
Commit to at least 10-15 minutes communing with nature for the next 30 days. You'd be amazed at all the benefits you will receive simply by connecting with the Earth. Once you do, come back and share your experience. If you already implement this practice, feel free to share.
This is my lovely pink yoga mat, which I am truly bonded to. I get a sense of peace just looking at it. Why? Because I know when I've completed my practice for the day, I AM going to feel relaxed, centered and ready to focus on the day. Over the years, there may been such misconceptions and mysticism surrounding the word "yoga". Although the beginnings of yoga was developed in Northern India over 5000 years ago, the practice has much to do with cleansing the body, mind and prolonging life. The biggest misconception is yoga being a religion. It is not. Yoga is a Sanskrit word which simply means "union" or "to join". The English word "yoke" is also derived from yoga. When I first started practicing yoga, I soon realized it wasn't just a focus on exercise, but a mental discipline. While I was accustomed to sweat-drenching, heart-racing workout at my local fitness center, I realized I needed to incorporate a routine which helped move energetic fields in my body which allowed my body to heal itself. Yoga simply helps me achieve one thing: oneness with myself. It isn't necessary that you focus solely on yoga for physical fitness. However, it has been proven that stretching will help:
Aside from the physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage stress, which is known to have devastating effects on the body and mind. “Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate. Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life.
By utilizing yoga meditation and breathing practices, one can improve their own mental well-being. I practice yoga regularly due to my "monkey mind" and inability to focus on small tasks. My mind tends to go many directions at once...it's just the way my creative mind is wired. However, my practice helps create mental clarity and calmness, relaxes my mind and helps me become more centered.
Now, I should warn you, - although yoga looks easy, I can assure you, it is not. However, don't let that frighten you. The benefits of yoga far outweigh any temporary discomforts. As with anything new, it takes practice to become better at it. While there are many yoga practices, beginners may find it difficult getting started. In order to assist you, I have included a link to Yoga Health Foundation's website, which allows you to sign up for a FREE 1-WEEK yoga class, offered at over 1600+ participating studios nationally. Be sure to sign up as the offer expires September 2017.
I truly hope find a class in your area and experience the wonder mind, body, spirit benefits of yoga.
Regina Thomas Dillard is Owner & Founder of Inner + Sanctum Wellness, a business dedicated to assist other on their holistic journey. All products are handmade and sourced from reputable organic and natural ingredients purveyors.