There is a Place for Rage. And Faith.

There is a place for Rage. This glut of Empire and discontent of it masses.  The charismatic leader who offers deliverance. Dignity. Prosperity. Justice. For Some. Not all. Certainly not all.

This is nothing new.  One man’s prophet is another man’s AntiChrist.

Credit: Washington Post

Flag Burning at American University, Credit: Washington Post

This is nothing new.  I wonder if this is how “they” felt when Obama was elected.

Trump is a particularly American breed of monster.  The long arc of time & history has seen many before him on this earth.

Despots. Demagogues. God-kings brought to their knees. Masses storming at the palace gates. Often the same masses who worshipped these god-kings into existence.

There will be a reckoning. In the the long arc of time and history, the slow, Universal forces of justice will tend to him.

There will be a reckoning. Not just for one man. But for a system. An Empire in Decay.

There will be destruction.

I wonder what this means for me and my family as Muslim Egyptian-Americans who have worked so hard to integrate and assimilate into the Great American experiment and its Dream.

How do we sit with injustice?

How to we sit with rage and discontent?

How do we transform it into greater possibility?

As a yoga and nutrition teacher, I’m in the “business” of inspiration and positive transformation. Yesterday, was particularly challenging. This wasn’t a surreal prophesy of Idiocracy. But Reality.

It felt like a plague had befallen the District.  And by the evening protests had erupted. Not just in DC but in metropolitan centers across the country.

On a Wednesday, I typically teach upwards of 30 people. Yesterday six students in total came to my classes. And while challenging, I did my best to show up in service.

I think of how I showed up. How I connected. Where I stumbled because I couldn’t get out of my own head and be in the moment.

And that struggle. It’s everyday. Not just now. To get out of the stories in my head and be present. To listen and see others in full humanity.

It’s after all our not listening to each other, seeing each other, that landed us here.

How do we show up and connect in earnest?

How do we live honorably even with gross injustice, and ugliness, and violence at our doorstep? How do we not give into the dissolution? The fear?

Hugh Byrne’s meditation gathering last night attracted a crowd of almost 50 people at Flow Yoga Center, all grappling with those same questions.  He offered space to honor the fears, the anger, the uncertainty. To journey in, step back, and honor shared humanity.

And me… well, I’m continuing with my every practices of conscious connection. Meditation. Nourishing my body with healthy ingredients. Walks in nature.

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And moving forward with plans for this weekend’s Sunday Funday Dupont Retreat in nature. Leading my fellow seekers in this vulnerable time of uncertainty and fear back to the earth and it’s strong, slow unshakable wisdom.

Creating space for calm. For faith. For possibility and transformation.

The long arc of time and history will restore. All is coming.

Heydahls: Beans, Beans… The Musical Fruit

Q: What is the deal with beans?! I’m trying to eat a clean, more plant-based diet but I am struggling with healthy sources of protein. I know a lot of vegetarians get their protein from beans. But from what I’ve learned about beans and grains from the Paleo diet, we are not supposed to have them. Plus, my digestive system typically cannot handle beans. The results are… explosive.  Do you have any ideas what I should do?

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A:  Hey there! Thank you for writing in.

You are not alone. Many people are wary of beans. It’s no wonder beans have earned quite a bad rap.

Perhaps many folks are reminded of the schoolyard song touting beans as musical fruit… Some giggle simply at the mention of the word ‘bean’. I’ll admit, it is kinda a funny word… Say it: BEAN. (Teehee)

whitebeans

Perhaps many have had firsthand experience with indigestion, gas, bloating, and other symptoms of discomfort consuming beans…

And yes, perhaps some have been exploring Paleo Diet prescriptions for avoiding grains beans and other agricultural innovations in nutrition and food security from our ancestors. Beans and grains, according to Paleo schools of thought, do not fit in with hunter-gatherer paradigms of nutrition.  I have lots of gripes with the Paleo diet, there are three major objections:

  1. It is quite foolish to think that our Paleolithic ancestors from the African Savanna to Indonesian Java and beyond enjoyed one archetypal diet when the flora and vegetation available in these regions varied, and continue to vary significantly. Our ancestors enjoyed diversity of diets, as diverse as a the environments in which they flourished.
  2. Agricultural innovations in producing grains and beans fueled the growth of human civilization as we know it, providing food security of our ancestors for millenia. Beans and grains fueled the foundation and growth of empires.
  3. Our DNA, the expression of our genes, is constantly evolving not only over the course of human evolution, but in our humble lifespans, in which certain gene receptors are turned on and off based on lifestyle factors- decisions we make in the here and now. This is the foundation for Epigenetics, an entire field of genetic research. So it is silly to think that human DNA, and appropriate dietary responses, are stuck in Paleolithic times.

favas

 

In Defense of Beans

Beans are an incredible source of nutrient dense plant-based fiber that is protein rich. In fact I would venture to say that most of our ancestors and indeed the healthiest diets around the world are heavy in whole grains and beans, not only because they are nutrient-dense, but they are cost-effective and dried beans and grains store easily…

And because beans are so fiber-rich, they “stick to your ribs” as they like to say, and satisfy your hunger, keeping you feeling full for a while.  And that sense of satiety in a meal is crucial for a sustainable healthy diet. If we don’t have that sense of satiety or fullness after we eat, we quite simply will continue eating mindlessly for the duration of the day which wreaks more havoc in our long-term projects of staying healthy.

The Bean Experience…

chickpeas

I personally don’t identify with any sort of dietary labels like vegetarian or vegan, but I will say that I eat mostly plants. And beans like lentils, chickpeas, and white beans, tend to be the primary source of protein in my diet. I also enjoy regularly enjoy eggs and dairy for healthy sources of protein as well.

Additionally, all that unrefined plant-based fiber from beans is healthy for my gut, and restores gut flora or probiotic content in the digestive tract for improved digestion. Who needs probiotics?

Plus… beans can add a little wind in the sails for promoting digestive function… which is healthy, and fine!

Beans, and you…

If you’ve had any issues with beans in the past and don’t want to explore it you absolutely don’t have to. Other plant-based sources of protein include nuts, seeds… Plus there is nothing wrong with consuming animal sources of protein in moderation, being mindful of the source. Even whole grains, that is, grains with the outer bran still in tact, have trace amounts of protein.

Though speaking of which, did you know that quinoa and amaranth aren’t properly grains but pseudo-grains? They are seeds from flowering plants, and some of the most complete proteins on the planet- which is why they are considered a superfood.

Back to Beans… they can be an incredible source of plant based nutrition if you know how to work with them. And it starts with a good…

Soak & Simmer

gigantes

If you’d like to try beans again, I highly recommend making your own beans from scratch, going to the bulk food aisle in the grocery store to pick up dried beans  and soaking them, perhaps overnight.

You really can’t oversoak or overcook beans… Though there are different theories on various soak methods and whether people need to soak in the first place. Lentils are perhaps the only bean that I can get away with not soaking.

Beans are easy to make, but take time.  It’s not labor intensive, but does time and a little rhythm. Soak and walk away. Simmer and walk away.

Soak your beans in a fair amount of salt water to help break down the fiber and make them more easily digestible.  Rinse, soak, and rinse again for increased digestibility, getting out alpha-galactosides (a complex gas producing sugar) and other raw volatile compounds present in dried beans and grains that could upset digestion.

Bring to a reducing them to simmer. Lots of time, patience and water.  You really can’t *overcook* beans.  The longer they simmer, the more digestible they become.  The last thing you need in your digestive system is undercooked, al dente beans.  That’s what creates the digestive upset.

Use your favorite spices, Adding spices like cumin promotes easier digestion,

When using my formula, it’s easy to include beans as a source of nutrient dense plant-based fiber in your meal planning rhythm for the week.

white-beans-dish

And again beans in and of themselves might be quite boring but when you work the formula you can make something pretty magical adding dark leafy greens seasonal veggies perhaps embellishments of cheese and fruit and adorned with sprinkles of spices nuts and seeds squeezes of citrus and swirls of oils vinegars syrups sauces what-have-you you can create something pretty exciting with what you already have on hand…

That’s what I got!!!

 

HeyDahls: Blood Sugar, Nutrient Absorption & Vitality

Q: Hi Dahlia.  We need some recipes for diabetics and people with hypertension. Thanks a lot.


 

A: Hey Tante Mona! It’s great to hear from you! Thank you for your interest and continued support of Live Deliciously :-) Pardon my delayed reply to your question, it has been a busy couple of weeks with LD events in DC.

Tante, do you mind if I explain our connection to our other readers first before getting into your question?

For those of you readers not in my family, well, that’s most of you, Tante Mona is my mom’s first cousin in Cairo. Her father, Uncle Mohammed, is my grandmother Mama’s Wagida’s brother. And I’m so thrilled the keep this connection to my roots, and spread the inspiration for healthy lifestyle, a passion I inherited from my mama, back to my ancestral home.

Ok… so back to your question Tante Mona.

No recipes…. A Formula

As you’ve noticed, recipes are not really a part of my teaching method on nutrition & lifestyle. And that’s intentional.

I offer the formula, so people can get into a sustainable, self-motivated and creative rhythm around meal preparation.

live-deliciously-formula

Recipes in and of themselves can be overwhelming to many people for three major reasons:

  • Motivation. If folks don’t have all the ingredients for a recipe they saw online, they may become discouraged to try cooking a healthy meal altogether.
  • Convenience. Most people come home from work and the last thing they want to do is cook for an hour or more using a recipe. Instead they may opt for more convenient, less healthy options. Packaged food, take out…
  • Budget. If people shop for ingredients recipe-to-recipe it can get quite expensive and wasteful.  A client recently told me about her experience shopping for exact ingredients for particular recipes that costs her $45 per trip.  And when leftover ingredients don’t get used, it leads to food waste.

The formula is designed to help people:

  • Create a strategic rhythm behind shopping for fresh produce and pantry items, based on what is seasonally available, personal tastes and preferences.
  • Prepare meals within 5-20 minutes using those fresh, seasonal ingredients and pantry items.
  • Reduce food waste. The method programs a functional, minimalist kitchen for the home chef that is exciting to work with, creating healthy, vibrant meals based on what they have on hand.

Plus Tante, the formula reminds me of the way mom, Nanny, and other women in the family have taught me to cook as soon as I was old enough to follow them around the kitchen. Precision is boring. Creativity and intuition in meal preparation is natural and exciting.

Essentials of the Formula

The formula is designed to help people get in as many dark leafy greens and nutrient-dense sources of fiber from whole grains and beans into their diet as possible. These foods – dark leafy greens and fiber-rich foods, are the #1 foods missing from the Standard American Diet, now exported to the rest of the world.

And it is the absence of these foods I believe that has led to the rise of chronic, preventable diseases like diabetes and cardiac disease (for which hypertension or high blood pressure can be a precursor).

Greens

Dandelion Greens!

Dandelion Greens!

Greens are crucial in the formula because they strengthen the blood and respiratory system. As we know from biology, chlorophyll is the green pigment present in plants that stores oxygen in its fibers.  Everytime we enjoy green vegetables and especially dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, molokheya (!), broccoli, dandelion greens (in hindbeh), parsley (in tabbouleh), it’s like our entire body taking a deep breath of fresh air. Living, breathing oxygen into the bloodstream.

Fresh, Simple Ingredients

Our bodies love oxygen. It’s a lifeforce that keeps us healthy and vibrant.

Chronic diseases thrive in environments of oxidative stress, where our systems are inflamed with poor flow of oxygen and increased levels of acidity.  That’s why we hear the buzz word ‘antioxidant’ describing fresh fruits and veggies as a key for preventing diseases.

Eat as many dark leafy greens as humanly possible. Seriously.  I personally try for one dark leafy green per meal. To start, I recommend clients get in one dark leafy green a day.

Unrefined Plant-Based Fiber from Veggies, Grains and Beans

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Fiber is critical to our functional health.  That is to say, the ability of our vital organs and especially the digestive system to properly function.  Digestive health, the ability of our bodies to effectively absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins, is *EVERYTHING* when it comes to our health.

When thinking about high quality fiber, look at unrefined, plant-based sources like grains, beans, and vegetables. Especially dark leafy greens and root vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots.

There are two major reasons it is critical to get in unrefined, plant-based fiber into your everyday diet.

  • Fiber modulates the absorption of nutrients into the digestive tract, slowing down the process for more effective absorption. Most nutrient absorption happens in the small intestines, well into the digestive process… for most of us, perhaps an hour after eating. Eating diets rich in fiber helps slow down the absorption of nutrients into the digestive tract by keeping nutrients attached to fiber longer. In other words, by the time our food gets to the small intestines, those nutrients are still bioavailable for absorption.
  • Fiber feeds the microflora or healthy bacteria in your gut. Unrefined plant-based fiber from veggies, whole grains, and beans feed good bacteria that promotes healthy digestive rhythm.  Instead of relying on probiotic supplements, it may better serve you over time to naturally FEED healthy bacteria with healthy high-fiber food

Beans and grains by themselves might be quite boring but when you use the formula, you can make something pretty magical adding dark leafy greens.

Perhaps seasonal veggies. Perhaps embellishments of cheese and fruit.

Adorned with Sprinkles of spices, nuts, and seeds. Squeezes of citrus and Swirls of oils, vinegars, and honey to create something pretty exciting with what you already have on hand…

What makes Fiber Unrefined?

A lot of folks rely on refined food products like cereals, pastas, breads, snack bars to get in their daily requirements for fiber.  This is an unfortunate by-product of a big-food industry that relies on training you out of your nutritional intuition.

When you think of whole grains, think of actual kernels of grain that have the natural bran intact. It is the bran that holds the grain’s nutrients and fiber. This means whole grain breads and other products don’t count.

The Glycemic Index, Blood Sugar, & Nutrient Absorption

Choose solid, slow burning carbs for energy throughout the day so you will not need to snack.  

The Glycemic index is a tool nutritionists use to explain how certain carbohydrates affect our blood sugar levels and nutrient absorption.

the-glycemic-index-chart-300

For example, Low Glycemic Index foods like brown rice and other whole grains are unrefined sources of fiber that provide stable, slow burning energy throughout the day.

a_glycemic-graph

High Glycemic Index foods like rice cakes that are refined and contain little or no fiber, will spike blood sugar upon consumption and crash energy levels, creating a vicious cycle of craving more and more sugary, refined foods.

When a grain has the fiber stripped off… say in the case of white rice, that grain is essentially reduced into a simple carbohydrate that is metabolized in the body in the same way that sugar would be… increasing insulin resistance and fat storage.

Skip the Juices and Smoothies…

So much of what makes a fruit so healthy is the fiber that is attached to it.

Source: Rosanna Davison Nutrition

Source: Rosanna Davison Nutrition

 

The minute the at fiber in a fruit is emulsified, refined, or stripped away in the process of making a juice or a smoothie, the sugars from that fruit become a simple carbohydrate or sugar metabolized in the body in the same way that simple sugar would be… increasing insulin resistance and fat storage.

Despite what the Detox Diet Industry has sold you, Juices and Smoothies are NOT your friends in creating a healthy lifestyle and can and WILL create elevated levels of insulin resistance.  The sugars from juice and smoothies spike blood sugar- thus the burst of energy most people experience – and leave you sugar logged.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Additionally, and I can’t say this enough.  You are not simply what you eat but what you absorb.  Most nutrient absorption happens in the small intestines, well into the digestive process… for most of us, perhaps an hour after eating.  Which means the nutrients in fruits and veggies are lost when they are stripped from the fiber in the process of making juice or smoothies.

And Finally, Mind your Stress

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Stress Hormones like cortisol not only increase storage of belly fat, but increase oxidative stress in the body making us more prone to chronic illness and disease.

The core. The Enteric Nervous System… Our digestive systems are highly emotional.  They need to be in a calm relaxed state to effectively do their jobs. That is to say, to reach optimal digestive function and fully absorb nutrients and eliminate waste.

If you, or I, or we… each and every one of us don’t take time – (like, seriously, schedule time)  ideally the same time every day to calm down and transform stress, our digestive systems won’t be at ease. And kinda won’t stand chance in full absorption of nutrients. Whether those nutrients are from supplements or food.

And even if it’s not exactly the same time everyday, but perhaps a ritual or a sequence of routines each day, we need to carve out time to calm down and transform stress..

Tante, some people find prayer or spiritual practice like meditation helpful for creating meaningful connection and managing stress.

Or connection with family and community. Or with our creative power. Or nature.

Meaningful connection is where we feel tapped into an awareness or state of being greater than ourselves. It’s ultimately connection that offers vitality, optimal health, and fuels healthy rhythm.

Joe Joins the Tribe for our Day Trip through the Woods

Guest writer and local health coach Joe Bernstein of Drop the Armor Wellness shares his reflections on last week’s Live Deliciously Day Retreat through Rock Creek Park.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day at the Live Deliciously day retreat on Sunday.

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Eric and Dahlia bring such insight, energy, and love to this experience.

As a man who loves connection, nature, reflection, mediation, movement and great food, I found it provided me a much needed respite from my busy life. It is rare that I find or create an experience for myself that provides me with all of these energizing and soothing elements in the course of one day. I left having made a few new friends, feeling more grounded, aware, and in touch with myself.

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I also learned a great formula to nourish my body without having to rely on recipes to feed my body and soul.

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Eric and Dahlia clearly know how to create a retreat experience that is full of value, while removing the barriers like time, distance and money that keep me from attending all of those weekend or week long retreats I feel called to. They have modeled for me the kind of experience I want to create for my own clientele.

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Can’t wait for the next Live Deliciously experience.

Thank you and welcome to the tribe, Joe!

HeyDahls: Old-Timey and Modern Sinus Relief

Q: Hey lady! Is it better to treat Sinus infection with Apple Cider Vinegar or Sea salt ? I’ve heard  some say they use apple cider vinegar in a neti pot instead of non iodized sea salt. I’d love to know your thoughts. I’m really trying to avoid taking antibiotics. Hope all is well!


A: Hey Heya!  Thank you for writing in…

It’s crazy how relevant and timely this question is in my own personal health journey right now. So I feel you.

Neti

Source: fda.gov

Source: fda.gov

The neti pot is a device used in Ayurvedic medicine to manually irrigate the sinus cavities.  It is shown to be be effective in relieving chronic sinus issues, as it flushes out bacteria, allergens, and other irritants that create allergies or chronic sinusitis. Use with non-iodized salt to break up excess phlegm.

I haven’t tried it with apple cider vinegar.  The internet says people will add a spoon to the neti solution. That said, I can’t imagine any of our ancestors wanting to put vinegar through their nostrils.. That’s all I have to say about that.

Whatever you do. Take your time with it. As you feel the water trickle into the back of the throat, spit it out.

It is possible to give yourself a sinus infection using neti incorrectly- whether it’s leaving excess water sitting in the sinus cavities, or not thoroughly cleaning the neti pot between uses. Or using it excessively to the point that your sinuses dry out… which brings me to my next ritual.

Nasya

nasya

As renowned Ayurvedic doctor John Doulliard explains, the neti ritual is only complete with its counterpart nasya ritual, an application of warm oil, usually oregano or sesame oil, to the inside of the nostrils.  The saline rinse of neti on its own without the application of oil can dry out the sinuses, causing the body’s mucus production to compensate and go into overdrive, creating a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and sickness.

The complete irrigating and lubrication process has been proven to be more effective than medication alone.

Oil pulling

coconutoil

The use of oils in Ayurveda and other traditional forms medicine, is based on the principle that “like dissolves like” and the oil pulls and removes bacteria and other toxins in the mouth, breaks up excess mucus, and clears sinus congestion.

I use coconut oil because I know that it is naturally antimicrobial, but a high-quality plant-based oil like sesame or olive would work just as nicely.  I take a spoonful of coconut or sesame oil, maybe drop in peppermint oil, and swish and swirl the oil around my mouth for 3-5 minutes.  I thoroughly enjoy the sensation of oil on my tongue and between my teeth. Then I spit it out in the trash- you don’t want to swallow all the harmful bacteria you just pulled out.

Then rinsed with warm water. I notice immediately how pleasantly lubricated and how clean my mouth feels. And over time how my teeth are whiter, as the oil pull stains off the enamel.

Experiment with including this practice in your self-care routine this year, adding one more tool to your arsenal of DIY health remedies.

Tongue Cleaner

Source: svasthaayurveda.com/

Source: svasthaayurveda.com/

The tongue cleaner, is an an inexpensive yet transformative utensil, is a simple, thin, u-shaped piece of stainless steel. It consists of a blunted edge that removes plaque and build-up from the surface of the tongue. It helps to fight cavities by removing bacteria from the mouth. The tongue cleaner also prevents bad breath, especially for people who eat a lot of dairy and build up mucus in the mouth, nose, and throat.

Use the rounded cleaning edge to scrape gently down the tongue several times to remove excess plaque, while applying slight pressure. Not too hard though, there should be no pain or gagging, and certainly no bleeding. Rinse the scraper under running water and gently scrape again until no white residue is left.

My go-to sequence sinus relief ritual.

It takes about 30 minutes.

  1. Neti- use one full neti pot per nostril
  2. After next Gargle with warm salt water to break up phlegm clean up after neti
  3. Nasya- use an eye-dropper to apply sesame oil in each nostril then spit out excess oil
  4. Oil pulling – enjoy a spoonful of coconut or sesame oil, perhaps with a drop of peppermine oil, to clean up after nasya
  5. Rinse mouth out with warm water
  6. Use tongue scraper to pull off any resident plaque

That’s what I got!!! To your health :-)

GennaBeth on LD Sunday in the Garden

GennaBeth and Dahlia at Old City Farm & Guild

Genna Beth and Dahlia at Old City Farm & Guild

Guest Writer Genna Beth Davidson Shares Reflections from her Live Deliciously Sunday Experience in the Garden at Old City Farm & Guild in Shaw..

 

On Sunday I helped Dahlia with a Live Deliciously cooking demonstration for the Fall Festival at the Old City Farm & Guild in DC’s Shaw neighbirhood.  It was mouthwatering and inspiring.

About 10-15 people gathered around to watch her spin her magic with simple ingredients.

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She talked about her equation (G+G/B+V+C/F+S3) to help people move towards healthier eating. She also talked about a getting into a rhythm of cooking that is sustainable.

For the demo, she chopped up bright green chard (G) + tossed with it already cooked farro (G/B) + added roasted butternut squash (V) + chopped an apple to throw on top (C/F) + and sprinkled on za’atar, sesame oil and lemon juice (S3), all of which = a fabulous, flavorful, colorful dish.

Magnet (1)

Everyone, and I mean everyone, LOVED it. One person even commented “I want to go out and buy all these ingredients right now.” She made it look really easy, and it is! for the most part. There is of course a learning curve.

I’ve been a nutrition and wellness buff for several years now, and I look back on all I’ve learned and realize it didn’t completely happen overnight. For me, my food revelations came from a slue of documentaries that I watched on Netflix. I began to learn how the Standard American Diet (SAD) lacks vital nutrients from the plant world. And because we don’t realize essentials are missing, a lot of people have lost their “nutritional intuition” as Dahlia puts it. I think I did.

Once I started getting that intuition back though, I began to see all around me how SAD is destroying people’s health. I can’t help but feel passionate now about spreading nutritional awareness. It’s a beautiful thing when you can eat delicious food, feel completely satiated and know that you’ve done something nourishing and good for your body and mind.

Thanks for the yumminess Dahlia! Can’t wait for more!

 

HeyDahls: Detox Culture and Old-Timey Wisdom

Q: Hey girl!! I’m starting a one month clean eating / detox on Sep 30 and wondering if you have any tips / recipes to share for kapha dosha. Trying to stick to Ayurvedic diet, and would really appreciate help!! Feeling a little overwhelmed- have looked online for recipes but still would be nice to have a little guidance.


A: Heeeyyyybooooooheeeeyyyy!

I admire your determination and courage to take on a 30 day clean eating challenge.  And the shift in season, from summer to fall/winter is a great time to do take on an intentional shift in eating patterns and prepare the body for the season ahead.

Many of our ancestors share this ritual of cleansing, fasting, or detoxing during seasonal shifts into Spring or Fall. This ancestral theme of purification in anticipation of the shift provides physical and spiriutal context for how our bodies fit into nature.

It’s how they observed of a natural order of things: Kept physically balanced and strong, and perhaps even placated the gods and bargained with them for a good harvest year or safe passage into cold winter days

Very cool indeed.

Greens for the Week: Chard, Kale, Dandelion

Greens for the Week: Chard, Kale, Dandelion

A Note on Detox Culture

Can I confess something?  I’ve always been wary, even downright cynical about detox culture in the West. Perhaps because it has been co-opted by the very diet and fitness industry that is intent on keeping consumers confused and unhealthy.  

There is a lot of money to be made in playing into the unhealthy binge-purge paradigm that dominates American diet culture.  The supplement and juice companies that dominate the ‘detox’ industry, peddle their products and ultimately train people out of their intuition around healthy lifestyle.

I once participated in a 21-day detox program that a colleague ran out of the acupuncture clinic where I used to practice.  He followed a protocol created by a major supplement company in which I and fellow participants were put on a regimen of the company’s products. Boxes and boxes of capsules, chalky powders to put in shakes and smoothies… I thought to myself, ain’t nothing natural about this shit.

Sure the substances went to work on my digestive system, but I’m not sure I learned anything about how to transition back into everyday rhythms, the long haul process of healthy eating and lifestyle. So I’m glad you are doing a detox that is grounded in Ayurveda, the indigenous medical tradition from the Indian subcontinent, the sister science to yoga.

A little about Ayurveda…

Ayurveda translates to the ‘science of life’  from the original Sanskrit and examines the interplay of the three doshas – or elements- in attuning the individual to their environments and creating equilibrium, based on:

  • Climate
  • Season of the year (Spring, Summer, Winter)
  • Season of life (Childhood, Middle age, Old age)
  • And unique body constitution (Is an individual naturally more more fiery and run hot? Relaxed and more grounded? Flighty and more creative?)

10418141_839087072812852_477884917339161169_n What I love about Ayuveda is that it honors the interplay of these elements both within and outside of us.

We all have the three doshas – Kapha (water and earth), Pitta (fire), and Vatta (Air/Ether) – inside of us in varying degrees.

And based on our unique body compositions, and where we are on the earth, or our season of life, or lifestyles, one or two elements can be more dominant. And our diet and lifestyle choices can bring these elements into balance.

A little backgrounder:

Kapha: Foundation for Growth, Fertility and Stability

  • Element: Water/Earth
  • Season in Nature: Spring
  • Season of Life: Birth- Adolescence
  • Corresponding chakras (energy centers): 1st (root) and 2nd (pelvic)

Qualities:

  • In nature: Rainy, Congested, Muddy
  • In people: Tranquil, Steady, Slow, Easy-going, Heavy;  Tend to hold onto water/bloating
    • When in balance: Good athletes (strong/steady), Generous, Tranquil
    • When out of Balance: Depressed, Lethargic, Overweight

Foods:

  • Kapha-Producing Foods: Salty, Sweet, Sour;  Comfort Foods, Heavy Carbs
  • Antidote Foods: Bitter, Pungent, Astringent; Fat Emulsifying Sprouts, Berries, dark leafy greens, bitter roots
doshas

Source: Ayurvedadosha.org

Pitta: Foundation for Power, Action, Confidence

  • Element: Fire
  • Season in Nature: Summer
  • Season of Life: Adolescence- Middle Age
  • Corresponding chakras (energy centers): 3rd (digestive) and 4th (heart)

Qualities:

  • In nature: Hot, Dry, Oily
  • In people: Dense, Muscular, Sharp, Ambitious
    • When in balance: Good leaders, Driven, Competitive… Make shit happen
    • When out of Balance: Easily Irritable, Angry, Inflamed Skin and Digestion

Foods:

  • Pitta-Producing Foods: Hot, Spicy
  • Antidote Foods: Raw Cooling Veggies, Fruits, Dairy

Vatta: Foundation for Spiritual, Creative Growth, Inspiration

  • Element: Air, Ether
  • Season in Nature: Winter
  • Season of Life: Middle Age – Old Age
  • Corresponding chakras (energy centers): 4th (heart), 5th (throat), 6th (third eye)  7th (crown)

Qualities:

  • In nature: Cold, Dry
  • In people: Thin, Frail, Flexible
    • When in balance: Good artists, creative, spiritually connected… transcendent
    • When out of Balance: Easily anxious, Flighty, Prone to Addiction/Self destruction, Constipation and dry skin

Foods:

  • Vatta-Producing Foods: Light Carbs, Salads
  • Antidote Foods: Warming fatty protein, Grounding Soups and Stews, Root Veggies, Cooked Veggies

Wanna learn more?  Find out your doshas here.

So back to you and an Ayurvedic Detox…

If you are Kapha-dominant, think foods that are fat-emulsifying and break down excess water and phlegm. Bitter, Pungent, Astringent flavor profiles.

DARK LEAFY GREENS!  Ideally cooked for increased digestibility.  Dandelion greens are especially detoxifying.

And do keep in mind that we are entering into the season of Vatta – Fall & Winter- so you will need more warming, grounding, lubricating foods to keep you balanced and strong for the season.

Think Root Veggies… all of them. Roasted, Soups, Purees, Mashed. Enjoy! 1476438_809898185468_182393441_n And the traditional Ayurvedic ‘detox’ regimen is Panchakarma, which includes Ayurvedic massage and oil treatments, and clean diet.

From what I understand, the panchakarma cleanse prescribes an easily digestible  mono-diet of kitchari, traditional porridge made of lentils or mung beans and rice. Now, purists say that kitchari ought to be made with white rice, but I’ll always find occasions for using whole grains like brown rice. Check out my recipe.

I don’t know how strict your cleanse is, but in general, I would say to avoid inflammatory, acid-producing foods like sugars and refined carbohydrates – that includes breads, pastas, cereals, and crackers. Opt instead for *whole* grains. Magnet (1) I’ve got a formula to help you with getting in dark leafy greens and whole grains into every meal.

OH! And apples. Nature provides us apples a plenty this time of year to clean out the digestive tract. So skip the juice, and chomp into real deal freshly harvested apples- with all that gut-restoring fiber to detox naturally.

And of course… Eat. Real. Food. Now that’s old-timey.

HeyDahls: How Can I Help My Unhealthy friend?

Q: I have this friend who is overweight and often sick, physically, mentally and emotionally.  I think that to deal with her despair, she makes fun of herself playing up this image of someone who can’t control her health.  For example posting to Facebook “I have something important to say about homemade pumpkin waffles. They are delicious. Also, they are a vegetable.”  Which is cute but it’s frustrating for me when her next post is a complaint about her health falling apart. I’ve tried a few times to suggest she try dietary changes but the responses I get are always “I’m too sick right now to make changes to my diet.” So I’m looking for advice on how to talk with people about the power of food and holistic healing.

 


 

A: Hey Heya! Thanks your question.  It’s a truly profound one that gets right to the heart of authentic healthy lifestyle.

When you create your path towards healthy lifestyle and begin to enjoy the rewards – increased energy and vitality, improved digestive function, and yes, shedding excess weight – it’s hard not to want to spread the gospel to all friends and family.  Especially to those who truly need it.

Source: greatist.com

Source: greatist.com

And it’s is truly so challenging to see someone you love in suffering – and especially of their own creation.

It’s so hard to not judge them. Or try to intervene in their self destructive patterns. To control them.

I continue to learn again and again that one of the truest offerings of love is being able to sit in someone else’s mess without needing to judge or control them.  Without trying to fix or save them.

People do not want to be saved. They want to be loved.

And love. True unconditional love among other things means respecting and trusting the agency of another person to take care of themselves.

Working in this field of integrative health for *almost* a decade now, I’ve come across so many practitioners who come out of homes where they were not able to fix or heal or save a loved one.  So they spend their lives trying to fix or save or heal others.

It’s the phenomenon of the co-dependent healer as I call it.  Those who need a patient or a client – someone to heal and save – in order to feel purpose.  Someone to have dominion over.  And will often give at their own expense to do so.

And I’ll be the first to admit, I’m no exception. I’ve had to work very very hard to unravel and reprogram these tendencies.

I came out of an early childhood that was intensely abusive and traumatizing.

And my father was – always has been and perhaps  always will be – in a place of suffering.  Of his own creation. Of inherited trauma and violence passed down from ancestors.

Growing up he was obese. Emotional eating was a coping mechanism, and a symptom of a highly addictive & self destructive personality.

And even after bariatric surgeries made it impossible for him to ever get back to that level of obesity, the same addictive, self destructive behaviors persisted.  In eating and other manifestations.

I’ll always love him but have had to bow out and make my exit. Understanding what I can and cannot control- which really isn’t much.  And when to let go and ‘save’ myself.

The implications of that family history continues to influence my work.

It has given me an intense level of empathy for those who find themselves trapped in toxic cycles, perhaps of their own creation, which allows me to truly inspire people to make healthy shifts from a place of authenticity.

Weight discrimination is the last acceptable prejudice in our society.  And the obesity epidemic in our country – a public health crisis that  we have veritably exported to the rest of world – is incredibly complex. A confluence of environmental and genetic factors, food access and supply issues, poverty, and yes emotional health.

It’s easy to victim blame but it is intellectually lazy.  

It’s easy to default into thinking that obesity is a character flaw, an indicator of someone’s lack of self control. But that doesn’t honor all of the challenges most people are up against in their daily lives, how overwhelming it all can be. And how to create a way out. And  having the honest support to get there.

That said,  I continue to learn who to help, who I can’t,  and how to create healthy boundaries.  And how to truly be in service of others.

I’ve stopped calling myself a healer… I don’t want to have dominion over people in a way that removes them from their own agency.

I’m a teacher. I work with clients to step into their agency as their own healer. I inspire them with practical, actionable, and exciting steps to shift behaviors around healthy eating and lifestyle.

And I remind myself- and often – that any advice I am quick to give others, is what I need to embody in my own life. Again and again and again. Only then can I  invite others in.

It’s easy to get self-righteous, but it’s not a good look.

So back to your friend.

  1. First, and always, tend to yourself before trying to give advice or steer someone towards a healthier path. It’s easy to judge and try to intervene and control, but it’s more authentic and much more worthy to first go inwards.  The more you raise your vibration, the more you’ll organically inspire others.
  2. Use your caretaking energy wisely. If she is not on board, there is nothing you can do to push her from the platform onto the train.  Any efforts in that direction will only create mutual resentment.
  3. Invite in. No one wants to be saved, they want to be loved. If you really want to share wisdom, invite her over for a healthy meal, maybe even a cooking date. Or a walk through Rock Creek Park. You’ll be surprised how receptive she is when she feels invited in instead of judged.
  4. Know when you bow out. If you are exhausted and resentful, well, that’s all you need to know.  If your connection with her is toxic, let go. Unfollow her on Facebook. You create your reality and decide what you let in. And if and when she reaches out, they always do, be honest and loving in the ways in which you can and cannot support her.

That’s what I got ma :-)

HeyDahls: Adult Acne, Inflammation, and the Power of Rituals

Q: WTF is happening?!? I am a 30-year-old healthy woman and all of a sudden my face has broken out like a freakin’ teenager! I’ve had acne here and there throughout my life, but after being clean, clear and under control for the last few years this summer it’s gone CRAY. It’s only on my face — mostly my jaw line, chin, cheeks, and between my eyebrows — nowhere else on my body. Do you have any recommendations for what might help?

  • My derm prescribed me topical medications that I’ve been using for the past month.
  • I cut out dairy and gluten about a month ago (a blood test showed gluten sensitivity), as well as processed sugar, soy, and cut down on coffee
  • I’ve just started taking Vitamin D and B12 supplements (a recent blood test showed I was deficient to both)
  • I’m taking a probiotic supplement, drinking kombucha, eating fermented foods (in case it’s related to gut health)
  • I wash my pillow cases frequently
  • I work out regularly – yoga, biking, gentle jogging
  • I get 7-8 hours of sleep every night
  • I drink alcohol (generally wine) in moderation, only a few glasses per week
  • My life is otherwise calm and great! I went through a period of high stress at work which has now subsided…thankfully!

____________________________

A: Hey heya!  Thank you for writing in!

I’m happy to see that you are taking an integrative approach- addressing nutrition, digestive and circadian rhythms, lifestyle habits, and environmental concerns – when interpreting what your skin in communicating to you. Seriously, bravo.

I understand your frustration with adult acne. I too typically enjoyed effortlessly clear skin in my teens, only to find that the inflammatory cycles of adulting and stress can manifest on my face. And figuring out how to best respond in nutritional and lifestyle shifts.

You are on the right track.  Keep tuning in because your skin is talking to you.  Now it’s your turn to listen and thoughtfully respond.

Nutrition

Again, you are on the right track.  Reducing the inflammatory, highly acidic foods from your diet that manifest as inflammation of the skin on your face.

I’ll repeat, when addressing inflammation of the body as a whole, it is best to reduce highly acidic foods like refined sugars and carbohydrates, coffee and alcohol, volatile sources of dairy like cow’s milk, and red meat.

Think more fresh alkaline-rich foods like fresh greens, veggies, fruits, sprouts, etc to tamp down on inflammation and restore your body’s natural equilibrium.

Source: Wakingtimes.com

Source: Wakingtimes.com

Additionally, when you think carbohydrates, it may be best for now – until your skin equilibrium is restored – to reduce all refined carbohydrates and grain ‘products’. Cut back on or eliminate breads, pastas, crackers – and opt for WHOLE grains.  

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It is afterall the fiber from whole grains, beans, and dark leafy greens that feeds the microflora or healthy bacteria in your gut.  And it’s that healthy bacteria that promotes healthy digestive rhythm.

 

Fortunately, I have a formula to help you program dark leafy green and nutrient dense sources of plant based fiber from whole grains and beans into your everyday meal planning rhythm.  The more you get in these foods, the more you feed that healthy bacteria that promotes functional health and vitality.

Magnet (1)

 

Digestive Rhythm, Nutrient Absorption, and Vitality

Speaking of which, and don’t be shy now… how is your digestive rhythm? Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and other indigenous healing traditions teach us that a true metric of vitality and healthy digestive rhythm is to eliminate – that is, a healthy well rounded bowel movement – within one hour of waking each morning without having to ‘do’ anything.

Does that describe you?  If not, keep refining your nutritional and lifestyle practice until you get there.

Because digestion – and the ability of our bodies to absorb nutrients and eliminate toxins- it’s everything.  When that’s not working, that’s when symptoms of inflammation, including acne, manifest in the body.

Speaking of absorption, you are not simply what you eat but what you absorb.

And *how* you eat is just as important as *what* you eat.  Most nutrient absorption happens in the small intestines, well into the digestive process… for most of us, perhaps an hour after eating.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

The core. The Enteric Nervous System… Our digestive systems are highly emotional.  They need to be in a calm relaxed state to effectively do their jobs. That is to say, to reach optimal digestive function and fully absorb nutrients and eliminate waste.

If you, or I, or we… each and every one of us don’t take time – (like, seriously, schedule time)  ideally the same time every day to calm down and transform stress, our digestive systems won’t be at ease. And kinda won’t stand chance in full absorption of nutrients. Whether those nutrients are from supplements or food.

And even if it’s not exactly the same time everyday, but perhaps a ritual or a sequence of routines each day, we need to carve out time to calm down and transform stress..

Duuuudde, and especially around meal time.  We need to be chill, calm and collected.  Did you know that the nutrients of meals eaten in the company of loved ones are more bioavailable to us in the digestive process?

Sit down. Eat full meals. Especially breakfast -ideally a protein and fiber-rich breakfast. It is after all how we start our days.

Which leads me to…

Rituals, the Cosmos and the Creation of our Worlds

When you first asked me this question outside the studio… I offered a response of how I love my face masks.

It wasn’t to be dismissive of a problem that is causing you distress and all these trips to specialists.  There is truly nothing more distressing than not feeling comfortable in your own skin.

Did you know the etymology of the word cosmetics comes from the ancient Greek cosmos? As in Creation. Order. Connection to the power of the Universe.

There is great transference of power in rituals.. An ability to construct reality with myths and symbols and narratives. To create. It’s how our ancestors have created psychic context and meaning in their lives.

Source: http://blog.freepeople.com

Source: http://blog.freepeople.com

So why not create and enjoy a sense of ritual in self care?

The cultivation of beauty, time spent nourishing ourselves, is an opportunity to tap into the power of creativity. Connection with greater consciousness. Fulfillment.

As you tend to your skin, return back to that self care.

And I’m a big believer in the old-timey natural rituals of self care. Playing with oils and clays and steam and kicking back and restoring. Taking *time*.

Source: naturallivingideas.com

Source: naturallivingideas.com

One of my favorite rituals:

  1. Create a mask from about a tablespoon or so or green or red clay powder (you can find in most drug stores), couple drops of lavender oil, and enough water to get a good consistency to spread evenly on your face. Play with it. Some folks like adding cacao. Or honey.. I give you full permission to PLAY.
  2. Let it dry and pull out impurities from my skin while I meditate or listen to a podcast or tidy or whatever. 15-30 minutes.
  3. Take a steamy shower. Steam and moisten a clean washcloth in the shower and add a drop of almond oil.
  4. Use washcloth with almond oil to gently wash off mask, exfoliate, and restore natural oil back to skin.
  5. Come out of shower, pat dry. Add more almond oil to your skin as pores are nice and open and skin is still highly absorbant.
  6. Seal off with a moisturizer of choice after oil has absorbed.

This works for me. Takes me about 45 min. Once or twice a week. Or more. And yeah #sorrynotsorry.  It’s my self care time.

I typically never wash my face with any cleanser that suds up into bubbles. Bad news bears. I go for non-sudsing drug store cleansers like Cetaphil a couple times a week. And certainly not daily.  Respect your skin’s natural oil equilibrium. Your skin will smile in gratitude.

I love almond oil, steam, and washcloth to remove dirt, makeup and ‘wash’ my face.

I typically don’t wear makeup on my skin except for eye makeup couple times a week.

Alicia Keys doesn’t either. She made a vow of makeup abstinence.

source: intothegloss.com

source: intothegloss.com

And I think there is something to letting your skin *breathe* and go natural.

And playing with oils and steam and clays are simply more fun -and ethical – than all the chemicalized machinations of science created in laboratories and tested on animals. Seriously. So many animals…

So to Sum it Up

Continue to be intentional about food and lifestyle choices, take time to transform stress and promote healthy circadian and digestive rhythm, and indulge in self care rituals…

And keep tuning in.

That’s what I got ma :-)

HeyDahls: Awaiting the Harvest

Q: Hi Dahlia (and the LD community)! Can you make some recommendations or provide a recipe (or two) for fall foods? I have trouble eating the best during winter because I’m used to salads, smoothies and lighter foods more fit for spring and summer. If you have time, please share some ideas for cooking with pumpkin, butternut squash and other winter foods. Thanks in advance!

________________________________________________________________

A: Heya! Thanks for writing in!

We are entering into the season of the harvest and it is indeed one of my favorite culinary seasons.  It is nature’s celebration of abundance and colors.

Did you know that nature’s way of indicating nutrient-density is through vibrant colors in our fruits and veggies?  Now is a fine time indeed to indulge all your senses in the harvest veggies and fruits emerging this time of year.

Get Excited

From the detoxifying emerald greens like kale, collards, chard, sweet potato greens… I give you full permission to indulge in all the greens the District has to offer. Tee hee ;-)

To the golden hues of fat, ground-dwelling squashes like butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squashes..  Still some zucchini perhaps. And yes, and the mighty pumpkin.

And rich sunset oranges and garnet reds of naturally sweet, soul satisfying, gut restoring root veggies. Enter the sweet potato and yam. Carrot and parsnip. Rutabagas and Turnip. Sunchokes – known also as the Jerusalem artichoke. And of course, the beet, the most intense of vegetables.

I don’t know about you but I have *quite* the sweet tooth.  And root veggies have been a godsend in flooding my palette with naturally sweet, unrefined sugars that continue to percolate and develop richness to pre-empt and curb those sugar cravings.

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And lest we forget… Apples! They are everywhere! And for good reason. Nature is providing us with delicious, detoxifying fiber to cleanse our digestive tract and prepare us for a long winter ahead. I love sneaking them in to just about everything… chopped crisp slices thrown into my salads, or chopped and sauteed with greens like kale or collards in my cast iron, or as a wonderful snack with almond butter.

Court the Unscripted

Oh gosh!  I’m getting excited here. Soups, and curries, and stews, roasted veggie grain bowls and salads. And all the cast iron goodness!

So this brings me back to the anchor of the Live Deliciously method..

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Everyone for instance has a favorite butternut squash soup recipe to share.  I personally like to sautee down apples and shallots in addition to regular soup trifecta of carrots, celery, and onion. Well, maybe the shallot replaces the onion…  And the variations, they are endless.

Like a simple soup with collards and white beans.

Which is why I don’t think recipes.  I think formula. I like to think of food in themes. I want to be able to walk into the farmer’s market, enjoy whatever produce is fresh for the offering -even if it is not the exact ingredient for that recipe I saw on Pinterest.

Once I know how to roast one root veggie or squash for instance, I know how to roast them all.  So if I don’t find sweet potatoes at the market, I can roast up rutabagas or sunchokes instead. If I don’t find butternut, then pumpkin. Oh, for pumpkin, go for the smaller, cantaloupe-sized pumpkins.  Those are the cooking kind! Try a curry.

Roasting Rhythm

So you remember in the LD Formula I recommend making a batch of a grain or a bean in advance for the week for meal planning inspiration and rhythm?  For me, I usually do it on a Sunday morning while listening to a podcast and tidying up my place.

As the days get cooler, it’s very easy to use that time to also roast up root veggies and squashes to have on hand for the week.

Perhaps the roasting ritual is one of the most comforting ways to settle into the harvest season. As root veggies and squashes roast, the natural sugars percolate and the sweet aromatics of autumn fill the air.

 

I tend to peel and chop my root veggies and squashes into bite-sized chunks, toss them in olive oil, salt, pepper, maybe cayenne, and roast in the oven on a baking sheet or wide Dutch Oven or cast iron skillet at 400.  Some veggies take 25 minutes to roast – like sunchokes, carrots, and parsnips. Others take up to 50 minutes to an hour, like sweet potatoes, butternut squashes, etc.

Beets, well… beets bleed you know.  So I just double wrap those whole in foil and let them roast for at least 90 minutes.  And wait to peel the skin after they’ve cooled down a bit.

Maybe I’m making a soup too during that podcast hour too.  Because soups are so soul satisfying and EASY! It’s a covenient packable lunch or go-to dinner after a long day’s work. Or you know me… #IcaneatwhateverIdamnwellpleaseforbreakfast… and love to warm my belly with nourishing soup in the morning.

Conjure the Magic

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So here’s the thing. Just because we’re settling into colder weather, doesn’t mean you have to give up the ease, creativity, and intuition of preparing salads.

Now is your time to get creative and play… and make your salads just a bit heartier. I’ll always try to add a grain or a bean to a salad to make it a satisfying meal.  As the colder days set in, try adding warm, nutrient dense roasted root veggies and squashes into the mix.

Or hey! Maybe you even play with the proportions of your salads and make them into grain bowls!

And maybe you take those ingredients and sear them in your cast iron.

OOOOH! And maybe you’ll even take that butternut squash soup or lentil soup and add a handful of kale or spinach, melt it in, and reinvent that soup for a go-to dinner.

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It’s the formula. Work it!!! I trust that your intuition and creativity will take over in your meal planning rhythm as we settle into these harvest days.

Enjoy them.  It’s a magical, dare I say delicious time indeed…

Love love and feel free to share any meal inspiration with the LD Tribe!