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Email me at HealthCoachAmandaLiska@gmail.com , and together we will work to create your happiest, healthiest life!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Good Bye 2011, Hello 2012!


Happy New Year!



I hope you had a wonderful holiday, a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy Kwanzaa! I always feel that the holidays are so highly anticipated, and than are over before you know it.  This year, I did my best to breathe, be present, and enjoy the company I was in. I had a lot to be grateful for...






I read Kris Carr's most recent blog, and it inspired me to write about a similar topic.  It is very important that you take time for reflection.  Whether it is to reflect your day, week, month, or year... reflection gives us a chance to step back and view what has happened, without the power to change it, and rather to just accept it.  It provides us the opportunity to propel ourselves forward, give gratitude, be proud, and create change.


In 2010 I met with my first psychic (who I have referred to many times..)  She told us (among the other things she was spot on about)... that 2012 will NOT be the end of the world but rather there will be a big shift. She said that the months leading up to 2012, will be months of change.  I for one can say that 2011 was a year of a lot of change! And like Mother Nature, one change was the catalyst to another. The little changes I made this past year to relax, breathe, and meditate, resulted in much bigger things... I relaxed more, and so I had room to open my heart more, falling deeper in love with myself and with others, and having the confidence to take risks (ie: becoming a health counselor and writing this blog).


An old man once said, "There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don't. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living." 


So, with the last few hours of 2011 upon us, I ask you to sit down and write your 2011 in Review followed by your 2012 Preview of all the things that you will do next.  The last big risk I am taking this year is sharing with you my Review and Preview:

2011 in Review….
  • I did my first cleanse, fell in love with juicing and huge raw salads, and ditched gluten.
  • I almost lost my dog, Avery, so I changed her diet to a mostly vegan diet (like myself), gave her digestive enzymes, green smoothies, and lots of love-- and she survived!
  • I fell even deeper in love with my fiance than I ever thought I could… beginning with him staying up and taking care of Avery all night when she was sick.
  • I stuck to my guns, said no, and didn’t feel bad about not doing things other people wanted me to do.
  • I completed my first year of teaching, learned how to relax, manage stress, and let go of things (children) I cannot control.
  • I became a student at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, became a certified health counselor, and began launching my own business.
  • I realized I found my soul mate, and want to spend the rest of my life with him… and we got engaged ;)
  • I became a better friend, had a lot more fun, and rekindled old friendships.
  • I traveled to Boulder, CO to visit my best friend, Jacque, all by my self! And almost got stuck in Kansas City.. whew!
  • I experienced my first earthquake, and have a funny story to tell about my reaction. (Ya know the ESPN commercial with the bear tearing through the wall...)
  • I completed P90x like a champ… and hated Tony Horton. Now, I kinda like him again.
  • I fell in love with running, and survived my first run in a thunderstorm… in the woods... and ran my fastest mile because of the thunderstorm :)
  • I encouraged and didn’t get jealous when John went to his first bachelor party, in Atlantic City.
  • I became savvy with homeopathic pills.
  • I began blogging again.
  • I meditate! (Thank you Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenges)
  • I give gratitude every day, three times a day: When I first wake up, after I meditate, and before I go to bed.
  • I stopped obsessing about weight, and have fallen in love with ME.
  • I finally got the car I always wanted… thanks to that vision board I made!
  • I became a God Mommy to my beautiful niece.
  • I saw a different side of my mother, and accepted/appreciated her more. I love her.
  • I lost a good friend… and realized how fragile life is.
  • I attended too many funerals, and gave even more thanks for who I have in my life.
  • I ditched my ancient flip phone, and got an iphone
  • I got monthly massages.
  • Got good at Bikram and now attend Silent classes!
  • I journal.
  • I ditched birth control, and said helloooo to my libido.
  • I rode my bike to the beach on weekends.
  • I made new friends through work and IIN.
  • I saw Dr. Hyman, Dr. Katz, Deepak Chopra, and Dr. Furman at the IIN Conference…Which I traveled to with strangers, who I now adore
  • Dr. Hyman liked my picture of my juice so much, that he shared it on facebook!
  • I ate/juiced from my abundant garden.
  • I became a member on the Food Administration Board and the Wellness Committee in my district.
  • I managed my stress and anxiety with Bach.

2012 Preview…
  • I will plan a wedding, and enjoy the planning... and from the wise words of a friend, "It is not about them..."
  • I will write more.
  • I will market more and build my business (despite fear!)
  • I will take on clients and help change their lives.
  • I will listen to my body (eat what it needs, and rest when needed).
  • I will cook more.
  • I will save more money!
  • I will buy a house.
  • I will clean more (err).
  • I will sleep more (natural HGH booster, thank you Dr. Oz!)
  • I will see Dr. Oz.
  • I will write an article, and get it published.
  • I will cleanse again, and ditch alcohol.
  • I will work on accepting criticism better.
  • I will travel more and visit my friends.
  • I will ski.
  • I will hike more, run less (for hips sake).
  • I will pay more attention to Avery.
  • I will visit my parents more, and pay more attention to Keisha.
  • I will do more Pilates, yoga, and stretching.
  • I will call my grandparents more.
  • I will try new things.
  • I will be present.




Here's to another year of lessons learned, 
goals achieved, 
hellos and goodbyes.  
Goodbye 2011, and hello 2012-- we are ready for whatever it is you bring next!


For a little comical recap of how crazy 2011 was, watch this video:

Friday, December 9, 2011

'Tis The Season to be Sniffling and Stress, Achoo! Achoo! Achoo! A Choo, Choo, Choo!

Hello Angels,

Truth is, the Holidays are joyful, BUT also stressful. There is no wonder the stress of the holidays brings out many holiday grinches, when a whopping 50% of us are suffering from depression and/or anxiety. According to Julia Ross, Americas are a 100%, yes One Hundred Percent more depressed today, than our ancestors were 100 years ago. Why is this? and what can we do about it?

For starters, we can ditch the junk from the boxes, and eat real whole foods.  Diets have been deteriorating since 1965... 1965 was when processed food companies began distribution. Since then, B6 levels have dramatically decreased and depression and anxiety have increased.



By 1990, Americas were deficient in 13 nutrients! We were cutting out that scary ass fat, consuming highly addictive sweeteners (since 1970s) including corn syrup which is double the sweetness of gluclose= double the addiction.  Our carb intake increased, and so, we became malnourished, depressed, and fat.

The first system of malnutrition is a breakdown of our emotions. We have what is called "false" moods.  In other words, we are grouchy, depressed, and anxious for hardly any external reason.

Here are some things we can do to increase our happiness and decrease depression and anxiety:

1.) Make a food-mood journal.  Record how you feel before and after you eat something.  Does it give you energy? Does it make you tired? Chances are you will find most things from a box will drain your energy, when fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains will increase your energy.

2.) Experiment with an elimination diet to see if you have any food sensitivities (How does gluten make you feel? Dairy? Soy?)

3.) Prevent hypo-glycemia (mood swings due to blood sugar fluctuation).
  • Eat good fats (think avocado, olive oil, flax seed, chia seeds, salmon and other fatty fish (if you eat fish). 
  • Increase the number of meals you eat
4.)Exercise to increase the release of endorphins- the pain killers and comfort chemicals in our brain

5.) Take a good multi vitamin + vitamin C and vitamin D3

6.) Decrease, or better yet, eliminate caffeine intake

7.) Meditate, read here why meditation is so beneficial on the brain (like sex!)



So, what if you are like me, and you do these things ALL THE TIME, and yet still anxiety comes knocking at your door at the most unexpected time? It happened to me Sunday night, my trigger? We were out to dinner and I left my gluten free pasta at home.  Seriously not a big deal, but because I had underlying stressors (budgeting for our wedding, blowing my savings on the two tires I popped in a pot hole the night before, and then planning for my crack down on school lunches), this small event triggered a small anxiety attack.

Unfortunately, it took me a few days to do something about it.  I was still meditating every morning, working out, sleeping, and eating right... but I needed more.  It didn't hit me until Tuesday morning, when I thought about how I felt Sunday, and then how I woke up at 4am, wide awake and super jittery for hours. So, I made a concoction of Bach Relax Serum and Ignatia 200ck in a water bottle.  I sipped it often throughout the day, and felt so much better by midday!



When you are stressed, your body releases cortisol, and therefore your immune system is vulnerable and can be weakened.  In my opinion, this is natures way of telling us to slow down and rest.  By Wednesday night I had a cold, which put me to bed early.  I woke up the next morning with the intention of going to work, but my body was so achy, my head was pounding, and I was terribly sniffly, so I called out sick, took some Umcka, and went back to bed.

I slept for an extra 4 1/2 hrs.... When I finally woke up, this is what I did to naturally ease this nasty cold:

  • Sipped on Throat Comfort tea with lemon and raw honey
  • Made 32 oz of green juice, drank 16 oz then and saved 1/2 for later: 1 cucumber, 1 green apple, 1/2 lemon, 3 stems of broccoli, a bunch of kale stems, 4 stems of celery
  • Throughout the day I sipped on a concoction of Adrenal drops + Pulsatilla in a bottle of water
  • and I snuggled up on the couch and indulged in a very long movie! (Any idea how long the 3rd Lord of The Rings is? I do..)


Hours later, I felt much better than I did in the morning, without taking any medication.

I used to take DayQuil, run through my day feeling as if I was on speed, come home and take NyQuil to knock me into sleep mode... and the cold would come back within weeks... every time.

It is nice to know that my homeopathic remedies do a better job of healing, without the nasty chemicals and side effects. I healed my body without causing harm by using those nasty medications... I healed my body naturally for both my cold and my anxiety :) Oh, and I didn't become a zombie chocked up on meds, instead I wrote this blog post!

Every time I get sick, I am reminded to listen to my body. Our bodies do not lie, sometimes we need rest.

So, with the holiday season upon us, remember to rest your little noggin and to listen to your body. If you do feel off, experiment with some of my natural remedy suggestions rather than the conventional medicine...You will never go back.

Do you have an natural remedies you would like to share?

Xox with lots of self-care, rest, and increased health <3

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Successful, Healthy, and Happy Thanksgiving (recipes included!!)

I hope that everyone had a healthy and happy Thanksgiving!

I know that the holidays can be very stressful, and often times that stress is exasperated when you have food allergies, and/or eat a non-traditional diet, like myself.  With practice and patience, in time the holidays do become easier.  One thing I did this year was order food from one of my favorite vegan eateries-- this way no one had to worry about making food a particular way for me, and I did not have to ask a million questions about what is in every item of food :)

So, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my future in-laws at my fiancé's  father's house, where we all contributed some delicious cuisine! 

Our first course was my fiancé's (now famous) Butternut Squash and Apple Soup (which he made vegan for me :)

Ingredients:
3 lbs. Butternut Squash
1 lbs. Sweet Potato
2 Granny Smith Apples
2 Sweet Onions
4 large carrots
4oz. Butter (Earth Balance Vegan Butter)
1/2 c. coconut milk
6 pints of vegetable broth
2 tsp. ginger
2 tsp, nutmeg
2 bay leaves

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Dice and toss apples, potatoes, carrots, squash, garlic and ginger.
Roast in the oven at 400 degrees, for about 45-50 minutes or until tender.
Remove from the oven and puree squash mixture with broth and 1 c. of water.
Transfer to a medium sauce pan or crock pot and simmer over medium heat.

Next, we had a Beet, Fennel, and Fig Salad with Cranberry-Sage dressing- contributed by yours truly :)
Beet, Fennel, and Fig Salad:
(found in Shape Magazine, November 2011 issue)

For the Dressing:
4 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c. finely chopped shallots
1 c. fresh cranberries
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp. fresh sage
1/3 c. water
1 tbs. pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp. salt

For the Salad:
1 lb. beets
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and halved
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. raw pecans
8 oz. baby arugula
6 fresh figs, cut into wedges
And then of course, turkey and stuffing galore! 
For the main course, I ordered food to save myself time and stress, from Good Karma Cafe in Red Bank.  For just $40 I got a huge stuffed acorn squash- which was out of this world! And three sides: Sweet potatoes, Mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables. The best part: I have leftovers!! 



For dessert, my future sister in law made Vegan Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream and Coconut Whip Cream.  I also had a slice of Vegan and Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie from Good Karma.

Vegan Pumpkin Ice Cream:
14 oz. can + 1 c. coconut milk
2 tbs. arrowroot powder
1 can pumpkin puree
2tbs. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 c. brown sugar (or agave)
1 tbs. vanilla extract

In a small bowl, whisk arrowroot with 1/2 c. milk and set aside.
In a small sauce pan over low heat mix milk, pumpkin, spice, and sugar.
Put the heat on medium and cook  until just about to boil.
Remove from heat and add arrowroot mix and vanilla.
Chill for a couple of hours and put in ice cream machine.
Serve with Coconut Whip Cream (see below)


Vegan Coconut Whipped Cream:

1 can of full fat Coconut milk in the fridge over night-- do not shake can!
Scoop out the top half, it is a white solid
Add confectioner sugar and vanilla and whip

*The bottom half of the can is fat free coconut milk (can be used for ice cream)
And of course, the Little Princess, Avery, had her Thanksgiving Dinner:
Wild Rice
Steamed String Beans
Mashed butternut squash
and a tiny treat of Turkey :)
= One happy Maltese!

Enjoy the long weekend, and take time for some self care to escape the chaos!

With Gratitude, Love, and Health <3

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My thanksgiving is perpetual...


Hello little Turkeys,

I have some BIG news...

My formally known as "boyfriend" of 7 1/2 years, proposed to me last Friday on 11/11/11!!
 When I was a little girl I told my best friend, Erica, that I would get married on Novermber 11, 2011 simply because, 11 is MY number :) Well, my predictions were not exact, but darn close! My thanksgiving is truly perpetual, and after over a week I still cannot contain my smile-- my cheekbones are hurting from smiling so darn much!



I know that many people out there could not find the significance in 11/11/11, and you may be one of those skeptics. So, I want to explain to you why this day and it's synchronicity is so special (and not just because I got engaged :) When repeated numbers appear (11 11 11),  many believe that this is divine guidance.  I am sure you have caught yourself making a wish when you catch the clock at 11:11... I sure have!

And like Gabrielle Bernstein's said in her article here featured on CrazySexyLife.com, "when I believe in divine guidance, the more miracles I experience"... So, here is my story about believing:




Twelve years ago at the age of 12, I met my first, and last love. 

We met at a local park, and at such a young age, we both felt it. That weird sensation in your heart that makes you feel like it might explode out of your chest. The butterflies in your stomach that make you feel like you are going to be sick if you move. That knot in your throat that makes it impossible for you to say a coherent sentence... and that "head in the cloud" feeling in your brain, that keeps you from thinking logically.

We felt love.  
Twelve years later, this same boy brought me back to that same place, and made me his fiance.  

No, he and I did not date for 12 years.  In fact, we dated for one magical, fairy tale-like year in grammar school, and then broke up.  Throughout the five years that we were not together, we still had a strong connection. I for one, dreamt about  him almost every single night. When I would see him (we went to the same high school), my heart would thump so hard that I swore it was going to jump out of my chest! I even played this game, where I would say to myself, "I am going to see John when I turn this corner..." and surely enough, I would turn the corner, and he and I were the only other two people in the hallway. Every. single. time. And then, I would drop my head and hurry off as quickly as possible :)

John was a year older than me, and when the end of his senior year approached, I knew I had to do something drastic.  I could not let him leave my life.  Every cell in my body told me that I needed him, and I knew that he felt the same way. So, after five years, we began dating again.... and 7 1/2 years later, we are planning a wedding!

I may not go to church every Sunday, but I am a believer.  I believe that we are all put on this earth for a reason.  I believe that people come in and out of our lives, and certain things happen, both good and bad, in order to help us fulfill our purpose. I believe that omens lie in plain sight, but you have to be open and believe in order to understand them.  Every time I need a wish, I catch the clock at 11:11.  My wish has always been to have love, health, and happiness with John, ever since I was 12-years-old.

Maybe you think I am crazy... but what does it hurt by believing? 

I challenge you to write down your dreams, your wishes, and to make it an obligation to think about these dreams every single day.  Meditate on them, if that is your thing.  Envision them while washing the dishes (which I know we all will be doing a lot of this week!) And most importantly, give thanks for what you have today.  Show the Universe that you are grateful for what it has given you so far, and that you are open for more greatness!


Make a wish, dream, believe. What's stopping you?

I want to leave you with a quote by Henry David Thoreau, that has so much meaning to me right now, and just in time for the Holidays. I hope it can give you meaning as well...

"I am grateful for what I am and have. 
My thanksgiving is perpetual... 
O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. 
No run on my bank can drain it 
for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment."



Have a wonderful, relaxing Thanksgiving.  Give thanks for all of the blessings in life, and believe in all the goodness to come....

With Love and Gratitude <3






Friday, November 11, 2011

Good Health is Gorgeous

I am honored to share with you, My Story!
Thank you to my friend, Maria, for giving me this amazing opportunity to reflect on my journey to wellness through writing my story for her campaign "Good Health is Gorgeous".

Read my story here: 

The Long, Courageous Road to Feeling Gorgeous

 <3

Thursday, November 10, 2011

YOU are GORGEOUS

Hello all of your BEAUTIFUL people,

I have a confession to make.  Things are going really well in my life.  I am enjoying my job as a preschool teacher.  My boyfriend and I are so over the top in love (after 7 1/2 years).  He just passed the first part of his CPA exam (whew!). My nutrition program at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition is just invigorating.  And, I just discovered that a local college (Georgian Court University) has a Masters program for Holistic Health (woo hoo!!).

The one problem... all of this celebrating is putting a toll on my ass.

We have all been there, most of us are there at any given minute-- having a low self esteem. Being your worst enemy.  Everything in my life is so wonderful right now, but the one thing that keeps brings me down and keeps me from enjoying this wonderful time of my life is, my stupid insecurity.

My friend Maria, the creator of  Going Down Swinging: A RSD/CRPS Blog recently asked me to write a post for her campaign titled "Good Health is Gorgeous".  After Maria asked me, it took about two weeks for the inspiration to put my story, so to say "on paper" (or on the internet for the world to see).  I know I say this so often, but EVERYTHING happens for a reason.  Maria asked me to write for her right when I was beginning to feel down about my recent weight gain.  While writing my story (which I will repost when available) I was given the opportunity to analyze my past harsh decisions that did harm to my body.  I looked at my story and I thought to myself, "wow, I have come a long way".  Today, I am the healthiest I have ever been.  I eat foods for their nutrients, and I feel amazing.  I no longer have IBS, Acid Reflux, asthma or allergies.  I can easily run 6-miles in the woods, no inhaler or medication necessary. And I can make a delicious vegan meal that will wow the sox off of any herbivore.

Just last night I was feeling down on myself. This morning, I listened to my lecture for the week for IIN.  What, you might ask, is this lecture about? Well of course, you sneaky Universe: Body image. As Harville Hendrix said, negativity is a toxin, just as much of a toxin as fertilizer and pesticides. We absorb negativity from other people (and we feed other people our negativity). Release yourself from negativity and fill your self with something that is so simple... GRATITUDE. Your body will thank you, your health with improve, your relationships will be better, you will experience joy and vitality. Look at life as GRACE! 
A little piece of Heaven... 

Give thanks for that beautiful body you were blessed with! 

Both my lecture and my friend Maria brought an important fact to my attention: as women we are CONSTANTLY bombarded with the unrealistic idealism of the media. The two clips below are a must watch for women of all ages.... (please send these videos along to all of the woman you know).



So, the next time you are feeling down about your body-- turn your negativity around with gratitude. At first, it takes some practice, but the more gratitude you fill yourself with, the less room there will be for negativity, and therefore the HAPPIER you will become. 

You are GORGEOUS. Never, ever doubt that.

With love! Xoxo

*Stay tuned for my story which I will share with you when available on Maria's campaign

<3

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Give us Something Good to Eat!

Hello There Pumpkins :)


I will have to warn you, I am OBSESSED with the autumn harvest, and as a result, I have been eating as many apple and pumpkins as I can. With the temperatures dropping, it is only instinctual to eat plenty of these harvest items in order to warm our bodies for that dreadful season that follows.... winter. Like Mr. Squirrel, we must take advantage of what is here now, and save some for the winter.  Make soups, chili, pies, and try to freeze them for a later time.


What I love about pumpkin, it is just divine as a tea, in a pie, in pancakes, muffins, soup, smoothies...oh and just about anything.  But best of all, it is darn good for you! With super low calories (26 per 100g), no cholesterol, no saturated fat, but with an abundance of fiber, antioxidant, minerals, and vitamins, everyone should be eating their share of pumpkin.  That decoration you have sitting on your porch can supply the highest amounts of Vitamin A (246% of RDA). Hello good eye sight and good skin!  It is rich in B-complex vitamins, and minerals such as calcium (no cow necessary), copper, potassium, and phosphorus. Eat on!


So now that  you know you should be taking full advantage of this harvest, and you have no reason NOT to eat pumpkin in fall... here is some food porn and recipes to make your mouth water :)


Pumpkin-Banana Pancakes (Gluten free and vegan), with baked apples:




1 1/2 c. of Bob Red Mill Gluten Free Pancake Mix
1 tbs. ground flax seed + 2 tbs. water (or an egg if you are not vegan)
3/4 c. Non-sweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1 tbs. Safflower oil (or another vegetable oil)
1/2 c. pumpkin puree (Organic canned in perfect and easy :)
1 banana
cinnamon (about 2 tsp)
To taste: ground clove, all spice, nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice
Optional: walnuts!


Blend together and cook on a skillet (don't ruin these health bomb pancakes by cooking them on non-stick pans that will release chemicals into the food and the air... rather use a stainless steal pan or even better, cast iron pan to bump up your natural animal free iron consumption :)


Baked apples:
Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ground clove with agave, baked at about 300 degrees until softened 






Now you can't just carve your pumpkin, save the pulp, and chuck the seeds-- these babies may be the best part!  Pumpkin seeds are a good source of the lovely fiber so many are trying to obtain, protein (again, no cows, pigs, or chickies are harmed :), iron, niacin, selenium, zinc, the heart healthy mono-unsaturated fatty acids, AND the brain fuel, tryptophan. I even made these again this week with my students-- add some agave or Stevia, and the kids will LOVE them, especially when they helped make them.




Cinnamon-Agave seeds and Salty seeds
Preheat oven to about 300 degrees
bake with seasonings on cookie sheet until golden brown
Enjoy as a perfect, healthy, nutrient packed snack :)


And lastly, my "You Wouldn't Believe it's not Meat-Chili" with, you guessed it: Pumpkin!

I pretty much throw things into my chili, and taste it ever few hours to see what it is missing, but here is the gist:

about 3 cups of beans (I use kidney, black, and pinto)
A lot of peppers (about 4-5) chopped
1-2 jalapeño peppers (depends on your desired spice)
About 1 whole onion
Approx.. 1 cup of sweet Jersey corn
1- 1/2 cans of crushed tomatoes
about 2-3 tbs chili powder
1-2 tbs. ground cumin
1 cup of pureed pumpkin 
* If using cans (which I often do) spend the extra money and buy organic.  Preferably Eden Organic beans which make you less musical... ;)

Pumpkin carving by Julianne :)


Pumpkin can and certainly should become your new favorite food-- you can slip it into SO many meals, without your pain in the neck "picky" eaters even knowing it (not that I do that... ever ;)  Their hearts, brain, skin, eyes, etc. will thank you for it!


If you have a pumpkin recipe you that you love, please share below!


Happy Almost-Halloween!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Deliciously Gluten Free: Tips on facing your intolerances and surviving Gluten Free in a gluttonous world

Hello Pumpkins!

One of the worst things you can do for your health is consume food that you are allergic or intolerant to. I for one (and like most of us) have a gluten intolerance.  As I have mentioned in a previous blog, I have a really tough time staying away from gluten.  I gave up meat... easy. I gave up dairy... not too bad. I gave up sugar... noooo problem.  Gluten, WHY!? I am an Italian girl who was raised with the understanding that NO meal is complete with out a loaf of Italian Bread (dipped in olive oil) along side of my lasagna.

Your body will let you know when what you are consuming, is toxic... The body does this in many ways: A possible belly ache, or worst.  Hives. bloating. lethargy... or in my case, teenage ACNE. I, knowing I have this intolerance of gluten, and regardless (under stressful situations) I aloud myself to indulge in the bread basket.  One night, it's okay, blame temptation! A second night, silly, silly, silly... a third night- Terrible, terrible!  As a result my body decided to teach me a lesson in what I would consider the worst possible way: on my face in the form of  "teenage acne"... something I thankfully never dealt with as a teenager, and am now dealing with in my mid twenties (ugh!).

With the help of my two favorite homeopathic remidies: Sepia and Adrenal Drops, I got my body back on track.  The next time that bread basket came around (we ate out a lot this past week, family was visiting), I reminded myself the effects this (delicious) bread would have on my face. And then I got creative....


Tips to eating well without gluten:

1.) Breakfast: discover Cherry Brook Farms and/or Bob's Red Mill and/or Van's
     We are BIG breakfast people.  For a while, after I began eating a vegan diet, I gave up our Saturday Morning Breakfasts... and unfortunately, so did everyone else.  Since giving up gluten, I have come to find some fabulous alternatives that are not just gluten free, but dairy free too.  Now, Saturday Morning Breakfasts are back.  I don't feel deprived or left out, and still feel great after eating a delicious meal:
Cherry Brook Farms Pancake Mix + banana and Pure Maple Syrup


2.) Eating out:
      Many places now have delicious GF alternatives.  One of our favorite bars in Sea Bright is the Mad Hatter.  The Hatter has the most delicious pizza, AND the most delicious GF pizza.
GF "Healthy" Pie with no cheese= Divine!

Of course, not all restaurants have GF options (those who are unfortunately stuck in the stone age of no-allergies)... In these common cases, you can always BRING YOUR OWN! There is this restaurant called Angelica's, again in Sea Bright- which our family LOVES. Just straight up delicious and fresh Italian cuisine (and byob!) Unfortunately, this restaurant does not have Gluten Free option, however I have found that as long as you are sweet and honest about your allergies, anyone will cook that GF pasta that you brought. Yes, you can bring your own pasta! When I was in high school working at an Italian restaurant called Michael Angelo's (Monmouth Beach, NJ), I had quite a few customers who would byop (bring your own pasta). You can still enjoy a delicious meal, minus the regret later on.  My favorite is the Quinoa pasta...


3.) Family cooked meals:
      Family members are not always as understanding as we would like of our intolerances or allergies.  in which case, you must cook your own food.  I suggest making something similar to what everyone else is eating (don't cook Italian when everyone else is eating Chinese, I promise you, you will want what they are eating :)  If possible, make the same thing, just a GF (and vegan) version.  Being Italian, my family eats a lot of lasagna, eggplant parm, and bread... so, I take those recipes that I have adopted from my Naunee, and substitute those allergen triggers for good quality versions that I can tolerate.

Check out my Vegan, gluten free Lasagna recipe that was featured as the "Recipe of the Week" at Crazysexylife.com

Using the same "cheese" found in the lasagna recipe, I just recently invented my "Italian Girl's Vegan Gluten Free Eggplant Parm" using Gillian's GF bread crumbs :) Fortunately for me, unfortunately for you (and my gluten eating family members), this was SO delicious that I did not stop eating to take a picture.

BREAD... now this is a tough topic, because I love bread so, so, so much.... I have yet to find the GF bread that I love, but I have found an okay alternative: Millet Bread


Here is a tip: This bread comes frozen, with all frozen breads, you must bake them, and then toast them. DO NOT use that vicious microwave (for so many reasons that I will soon share with you :).  Another delicious super healthy and vegan-ish tip-- In place of butter, and instead of using "soy" butters, spread on some delicious, nutritious avocado with a dash of Himalayan Sea Salt.

Gluten allergies and intolerances have become increasingly prevalent over the past decade.  You, like me, may not think that you have an intolerance or an allergy to gluten, or to dairy, soy, etc.  In order to find out if you do, I suggest you try an elimination diet.  Remove that substance from your diet completely. Record how you feel after a week, two, and then three weeks without the substance.  If you feel better, then chances are you are in the same boat as I am and have an intolerance.  You can try to slowly add the gluten, soy, dairy, back into your diet in small amounts.  Record how your body reacts.  If you begin feeling icky again, then chances are you have an intolerance and should avoid that substance. If you are fine, well than, lucky you :)


Next up: Tip #3, GF Dessert-- Pumpkin picking, apple picking, and all the yummy autumn vegan and gluten free desserts you can handle :)

With much love and deliciously thriving health <3

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just Dream...

Hello Angels!


As I promised, this post is a continuation of The Fall IINto Action Health Conference that I attended a few weeks ago in New York City.  I admire Deepak Chopra so much.  He has instilled so much faith, trust, and peace in so many people, including myself.  What I love best is the concept that what you think you can't do, you can't. What you think you can do, you can. In other words, it is all in your head, you have created your present, and you have the power to create your ideal future.


Now, I hope I don't sound too crazy for you in this post. I know when I first started to explore my spirituality a few years ago, I thought it was all a little weird too. Of course that was until I realized how powerful thinking is, and I had no other choice but to believe. It is crazy to me how there are so many different religions, yet, they are all the same.  They all believe that there is one "God" or whatever you call that power (I like to say the Universe), who is looking over each and everyone of us, assuring we take the correct path. That power is putting things in place to help guide us in the right direction. There are omens everywhere! I was raised Roman Catholic, I grew up, I went to college, and I started to move away from my religion, into a dark place of non-belief.  I am so grateful for my religious up bringing, but I have now created my own spirituality outside of the strict walls called religion. My body is my temple and I trust that when I believe in this power, things always work out.


You are the creator of your life, you have the "power" to do anything and have anything you want.... Read The Secret.  When you do, you will realize that you have always know this concept-- how many times have you created your reality? My favorite is creating parking spots :) Ask my boyfriend or any of my friends... they will tell you that when I say I am going to get a perfect front row parking spot, I will. Works nearly every time. This is The Law of Attraction.


What is the "soul" you speak about, Dr. Deepak Chopra? Such a confusing concept! WHAT is the soul? Well,"it cannot be found in the body... nor measurable in space or time.  It is our core consciousness."  I believe that everybody has a "soul purpose" in life. There is a reason you are here, and you are faced with your circumstances because of that reason. There are lessons to learn, and service to be paid.


Deepak Chopra said that in order to establish the soul's profile you must ask yourself a series of questions.:


  1. Who am I? 
  2. What do I want? 
  3. What is a peak experience for me?
  4. What is my life's purpose? 
  5. What contribution can I make to the world? 
  6. What meaningful relationships do I have? 
  7. How can I give to those relationships? 
  8. What unique skills and talents do I have, and how can I use them to serve?
  9. Who are my architypes?
  10. What is my story?

"The world is our projection, you can change it."-- Deepak Chopra

What I found to be the most important message in this presentation was Dr. Deepak Chopra's "D" and the "S" of the L.E.A.D.E.R.S.




  • D- Dare to dream now and DO IT, transform your reality
    • S- Stretch for your dreams
    • M- Measure your dreams
    • A- Agree on the measurement
    • R- Record the progress
    • T- Time limit for your dreams
  • S-Synchronicity with the Universe, there is a linear cause and effect. 
    • The soul is synchronic
    • There are karmic patterns, what you give out, you will receive
    • Opportunity meets preparedness
I know that life throws curve balls, and that life is not always easy... Which is why it is important to find time to dream and to create those dreams.  Many of us are stuck in situations that zap our energy and rid us of happiness... You need to remember that YOU create your reality, YOU have the ability to change that reality. YOU have the right to dream and the right to succeed.


The Universe (or God, or whatever you prefer to call it), works in beautiful ways.  JUST when you need something to give you a boost, you will receive it... All you have to do is believe. I (and most of the world) have been dealing with stress around that power called money. There are so many things I want to do at the young and ripe age of 24, but I can't do because a.) I have to work b.) I have to pay my bills and c.) I need to save.  I was feeling as though I was trapped in this depressing cycle of work, eat, sleep.  As of last night I felt I had hit a wall... I was drained of not only money, but energy.  I went to bed stressed out of my mind.  Woke up before the crack of dawn, and sat down to listen to my Meditation.  It was day 11 (11 is my lucky number) of the Chopra Center's Summer Meditation Challenge (which I purchased to MAKE myself meditate) and what was this guided meditation about? MONEY. I just laughed... thanked the Universe, and after my meditation I felt SO much better.  Lunch time, I sit to eat and read my email... check out Facebook, lo and behold, my favorite doctor, Dr. Mark Hyman, posted a link to a blog via my role model Kris Carr... what was the topic of the blog? MONEY.






Just remember the Universe (God, whoever!) works in beautiful ways.  You can have whatever you want in life, you just have to believe in yourself, and trust that (from the amazing artist, Bob Marley) "Every little thing is gonna be all right."

With happy thoughts, BIG dreams, and much love <3




Sunday, September 25, 2011

Still feeling the energy from the BIGGEST Health Conference in the world...

Hello Sunshines!

Have you ever been in a room filled with so many people, whom you feed off of their powerful energy?  One that makes you feel so high, that regardless of how sleepy you may be, you have this twinge of excitement? I felt this for this first time last weekend when I attended the largest Health Conference in the world, hosted by the school I am studying at, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I have never been surrounded by so many like-minded people (3,500 of them!!). I felt so motivated, inspired, and energized! I found my purpose here...The best part is... a week later, I am still feeling it!

This past month has not been the easiest...  As a teacher, September never is.  So, I will admit that I began loosing motivation and confidence in my career as a Health Counselor.  The Universe works in particular ways... I know when things are meant to happen, they will. The Universe will assure that everything works out as planned.  So, the conference happened to occur when I needed it the most.  I was so exhausted that I even debated going!  I am so grateful.

In essence my favorite speakers, Dr. Joel Furman, Dr. David Katz, and Dr. Mark Hyman, sent a similar message: EAT MORE VEGETABLES... and less animal products and processed food. Such a simple idea, but in America we are constantly bombarded with advertisement for processed food, and the ease of eating such foods, that we often fail to make the right food choices.  Our country is fat and sick... We need to spread the message: Eat Kale Chips, not corn chips ;)

Dr. Joel Furman is the author is Eat, Drink, to Live, and Supper Immunity (which I bought as soon as I got home). He spoke about how our bodies are self-healing... think about that.  He used a similar metaphor-- a bear out in the wild doesn't go to the doctor, and then to the pharmacy and pops a pill every time he gets ill.  He rests... and naturally his body heals. No antibiotics necessary.








Why are we fat and sick? Well, 62% of the food consumed in America is that of processed CRAP (pardon my language, but there is no other word that can describe what we eat). We are lacking in micronutrients that are vital for fighting off and resisting infection. Here is a scary thought: CHILDHOOD diets are a major cause of ADULT CANCERS... so, we should blame our parents? Not really, but as parents ourselves we need to make the right food choices for your babies.  As teachers, we can make the right choices for our students when they are under our care.

So according to Furman, the best thing you can do for yourself is eat more green cruciferous vegetables.  When we do not eat such vegetables the most important natural defence systems in the cells does not function... Wow!  Eat cabbage, bok choy, and turnips to decrease breast cancer. Eat mushrooms, drink green tea, onions... be what he called a "Naturaltarian".  When you eat more vegetables and less CRAP, you naturally eat less calories... nix the animal products (I can help with you that :), and avoid soy products.

I (and 3,000 other women at the conference) am officially in love with a married man... Dr. David Katz.  His poetic voice was like (vegan) butter... His call to action influenced me greatly.


"Diseases are not causes, the diseases are effects..."

Did you know that there are 10 behaviors that cause premature death?  Tabaco used to be the leader by far... but today the gap between tobacco and diet is narrowing.  So, eating processed crap is nearly as bad for you as smoking cigarets.

What inspired me most about Dr. Katz's lecture is children.  As a preschool teacher I see it all the time.... children do not know how to eat.  Their pallets are so weak, that they prefer to eat a processed cereal bar (with a million ingredients, half being various forms of sugar) over a fresh juicy apple... As 3-year-olds they are already growing bellies, by the time they are 4, they are already overweight and on the brink of diabetes. In my classroom I provide rewards for children when they eat fruit and vegetables at snack and lunch.  What can you do in your classroom or homes to motivate children to want to eat better? 

Exercise enhances academics for children.  "Recess not Ridalin".... we must teach our children how to move, and to love doing it.  Today children are stuck inside, watching TV, playing video games... what ever happened to going on an outside adventure and running around until dusk? At 24-years-old I still LOVE and need to go outside on a daily basis, and run around... It is what I did as a kid, which is why I love it so much as an adult.

As adults we must take initiative and teach our children how to be healthy... like Dr. Joel Furman said, "Childhood diets are a major cause of adult cancers..."

Three and a half TRILLION dollars is spent in the country on what Dr. Mark Hyman calls, "Diabesity". Fifty million servings of soda A DAY is purchased with food stamps... Hm, and we are wondering how to cut spending! Well in America there is a PILL for that, and it will help your diabetes....while promoting other diseases and various ailments... Maybe we should just eat better...

According to Hyman, disease goes away as a side effect of EATING HEALTHY. Food is what he calls, "Farma-cology" It is what you put on your fork that has the ability to hurt or heal.

Hymans 10+ rules:
  1. Avoid food with labels
  2. If eating food with labels, make sure it has less than 5 ingredients, and that you recognize what those five are
  3. Avoid the WHITE powders (white sugar, white flour...)
  4. High Fructose Corn Syrup puts holes in our guts and has high levels of mercury- AVOID
  5. Avoid shortening and oils
  6. Avoid food additives
  7. Artificial sweeteners alter your brain and your hormones causing you to GAIN WEIGHT regardless of it being 0 calories...
  8. If it is plant, eat it, if it is grown IN a plant, avoid it.
  9. Don't drink your calories
  10. Begin your day with protein, this increases your metabolic burn (my green protein smoothie is a great nutritious start!)
  11. Don't eat 3 hours before bed (have a cup of decaf tea with stevia to satisfy that sweet tooth)
This a lot of fantastic, lifesaving information, so I will leave you with this: Your body is a temple, and you only have ONE.  Be grateful for what you have been given, and nourish it.  There is no miracle pill that will save you from getting sick or cure your illness.  There is no miracle pill to make you skinny. The miracle lies in eating a whole natural diet. Once you start eating this way, your body will crave more of the goodness and less of the processed.  You will be healthier, happier, and energized... cut out the crap and go eat your veggies, your body and mind (and family) will thank you<3



I am saving my next blog to talk about my 4th most inspirational speaker-- you may have heard of him, you may have read his many best-seller books, may have done his 21-Day meditation challenges, and if you don't know him yet, I suggest you check him out: Dr. Deepak Chopra.  I will share with you what I learned from this spiritual guru, and my struggle with meditation :)

With Love and Veggies,
Namaste <3