Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Acai Purple Smoothie

Good morning! I'm LOVING the smoothie I made this morning and knew I had to share this little piece of joy with you guys.

1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon flax seeds
2 tablespoons fresh pomegranate seeds
1 handful purple grapes, frozen
2 large handfuls spinach, frozen
1 handful blueberries, frozen
2 large strawberries, frozen
1 acai smoothie pack, semi-frozen (I buy the Sambazon brand, which comes with 4 packs.)
1 scoop Lepterra protein powder, chocolate flavor

Add all of the ingredients to the blender in approximately this order and blend. If some of these ingredients, like the spinach or grapes, aren't frozen, lessen the amount of water so you have your preferred consistency. Before I add the acai to the blender, I soak it for a minute or so while still in it's package in some room temperature water so I can break it up with my hands. Then I cut the package open and adding the acai chunks to the blender. Enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Pursuit of Joy

In the context of JOY, this speaks volumes.

Even though at the end of December my heart sung out that 2012 was my year of joy, and I was all pumped and ready to let the good times roll, I sure wasn't warned that in order for me to feel joy I have to change to allow it in. Change takes a lot of patience. A lot of self-care and quiet alone time to hear your spirit, or inner voice or higher self, whisper the answers, and even though I thought it would be easy to feel joy, the past few weeks have been reminding me that deep within I'm blocking it for some reason.

I thought I'd share a quick glimpse into this morning of my joints, which are my faithful reminders of how I need to change. Today they reminded me that I am not as joyful as I thought. Hah! If I'm not a happy person, I don't know what that makes some of you. (I hope that made you laugh, because I'm sure laughing!)

I woke up to stiff fingers, so I verbally released the need to control the details of life. I replaced those feelings with trust in God that He will take care of the details of life. That verbal clearing of emotions released the pain and stiffness from most of my fingers, so I went a little deeper to release more of the pain.

My right pinky in particular has been my trouble spot the past week and a half. It's tied to the Heart meridian and the ability to forgive. Each of us is made up of a balance of feminine and masculine energy—yin and yang, respectively—which govern the left and the right side of our body. So when I have blockages, or pain on the right side of my body, it is usually an imbalance of my masculine energy—pretty much an unresolved run-in with a guy. So to release the stiffness in my right pinky I sat and brainstormed men I needed to forgive. After a few minutes of verbally forgiving the men who came to mind it worked and I could bend my pinky. (The pinky pain is actually starting to come back though, so looks like I didn't do a thorough enough job. I was sort of in a hurry to get my day going, as some of you might be able to relate to.)

Then there's my right wrist, or actually a tiny bone right above that knob we call a wrist bone. I took a picture of it (below) so you can sort of see how there's a bump above my right wrist that shouldn't be there. It's really swollen and painful today, so I know this is my priority. Clearing all these painful emotions sometimes feels like a chore chart, which honestly sucks the joy out of healing.

Left wrist, no extra bump. 

 Right wrist, swollen extra bump.

And while we're on the topic of sucking the joy out of life, let's talk about how as I was awkwardly taking these pictures with my left hand and a hurt right wrist, trying to hurry before the camera battery died, my cute lime green tea kettle started whistling. I was trying to ignore it to get these pictures right and then my joy muscle in my back started throbbing!! Talk about hilarious. (Click here if you haven't read about the joy muscle yet.) Who else is lucky enough to have their body inflict instant pain to tell them to chill and just enjoy the moment? I know a few of you lucky RA folk who do, but I guarantee that the more you become aware of your emotions, all of you will start to feel your body talking to you. Maybe you ate too much and now your stomach is in pain. What is your body telling you? Or maybe you've been racing around all day trying to get everything done and now you have a monster headache, or maybe you lost your temper and were short with a loved one, and now you feel restless and guilty. We all have bodies that talk to us, but some of us just have chosen to ignore them long enough that now they scream at us the instant our emotions are off balance.

Back to the wrist. This wrist bone is part of the Small Intestine meridian, which is our meridian of joy. Starting to see a pattern here? When there's blockage in our Small Intestine meridian it's often associated with sadness, grief, and despair. Dating is the current culprit, as well as another big issue that's caused a lot of sadness in my life, so I'm dreading going deeper here because I know it won't be as easy. It'll probably take a few solid hours of prayer, meditation, scripture reading, yoga, nature, and any other way I feel led to fill my Mind, Body, & Spirit with light. Most days I can't dedicate solid hours to my health, but today it's important enough that I am going to. I truly believe (at least right now while I'm at a semi-positive place) that I can find joy in dating and be incredibly happy once I shift my perspective and release some false beliefs that are holding me back.

A week ago I was not so positive and luckily had Sam to vent to. Venting was the first step for me to get back up again, then I did a chakra meditation (I'll share part of this in another post) that shifted my attitude completely, and then I turned my heart to Christ for probably the hundred millionth time. Every time it's like, "Oh, yeah. You're here. I forgot I don't have to do this all myself!" Then the clouds part and the fog lifts and I can go a little further again.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender (lavandula augustifolia) is known as the "swiss army knife" of essential oils because of it's versatility. Some of it's primary benefits are it can balance and normalize body functions, promote tissue regeneration, speed up wound healing, can sooth and relax the mind and body, can ease body aches and pains, and can clean cuts, bruises and skin irritations.

It is one of my favorite essential oils and I use it often. I like to add a couple drops to a soap gel in a warm bath for relaxation, have put a drop on my palms and spread on my pillow at night and have found it to be very soothing, and often dilute a drop with coconut oil and spread on my face to help with acne scars and have noticed a difference in my skin. The other day I put it on my wrists and earlobes while being a chaperone for my daughter's kindergarten class and it was very calming. Yesterday my youngest son was jumped on by several small dogs on his bare legs which left scratches and a small bruise. I diluted a drop of lavender oil with some coconut oil and spread it over his legs. This morning the scratches were mostly gone and the bruise looked like it had been healing for several days.

One interesting thing I have read is that it can actually stop bleeding by adding a few drops to a wound. There are also other oils that are known for being able to do this as well. How about adding some essential oils to your first aid kit?

Here are a few of the many ways it can be used:
  • Soothe minor burns by applying 2–3 drops to the affected area.
  • Rub oil on dry or chapped skin to moisturize the affected area.
  • Add a few drops to a cotton ball and place it in closets and drawers to scent linens and repel moths and insects.
  • May be able to minimize the appearance of scar tissue by massaging the oil on or around affected areas.
  • Place a few drops on a wet cloth or dryer sheet to deodorize and freshen your laundry.
  • Diffuse to minimize seasonal discomforts.
  • Diffuse to set the mood for a social gathering.
  • Diffuse or inhale to calm your mind, body, and spirit after a hard day’s work.
  • Inhale to soothe and relax the body and mind.
  • Make an herbal tea by mixing 2 drops of lavender essential oil (therapeutic grade) with 1 teaspoon of blue agave syrup and adding to warm water.
  • Add 4–5 drops to a bath gel base and use in warm bath for relaxation.
  • Drop 1–2 drops on your pillow to aid in a restful night of sleep.
  • Massage several drops on feet to promote relaxation. 
 (Info from YoungLiving.com)
*I recommend only buying therapeutic grade essential oil from reputable companies, especially if you are going to use them internally.

    Friday, January 13, 2012

    Open to Everything and Attached to Nothing

    (Images taken in Cypress, Greece, © 2008 Katie Newbold.)

    In 2005 two close friends and I traveled back to Venezuela. We’d lived there together a few years previous and had been taught a richer way to live and a deeper way to love. We missed our dear friends, and we were also ready to take our life’s adventures into Canaima to sleep in the jungle for a few nights and hike to Angel Falls, the tallest waterfall in the world.

    One Sunday during our trip we were sitting in the chapel of Las Brisas in Maturin, and the Sunday School lesson was on the Word of Wisdom. (Click here to read a previous post explaining the Word of Wisdom.) The teacher was outlining what the Word of Wisdom counseled us on food and what substances aren’t so great for the body. A man in the back raised his hand, made a comment, and then ended by saying, “The Word of Wisdom doesn’t address food combinations, though. Eating rice with pineapple isn’t good on the stomach,” mentioning some other bad food combos I don’t remember. My two friends and I rolled our eyes and whispered to each other, “Who is this crazy guy?” We obviously knew better because we were American with modern medicine and common sense, right?

    Well come to find out, this man actually does have a foot to stand on, as many of you may know. Just yesterday, actually, I spoke on the phone with a university about their PhD program in holistic nutrition. The woman told me that the school nutrition program is based on an alkaline and acidic diet, and I told her how by following an alkaline/acidic, 80/20 eating pattern I was able to eliminate a lot of my rheumatoid arthritis pain. She told me that in this program I would learn how improper food combinations can spike RA pain even if I am eating an alkaline diet. Ah-ha. 

    I have to admit that there have been many moments in my 30 years on this planet where I’ve thought I’ve known more than another person or that my way was better. I still find myself falling into that category time and time again. Except now I’ve adopted some of those very same outlandish beliefs I once snubbed and am on the other side of the table now. It's been a long humbling road, but I’d like to say I'm now at a place in life to be open to more, if not all, possibilities. It's so freeing! I'm much happier this way and much more guided. I seem to receive answers to my prayers much easier now too, because before if an answer wasn't in my line of vision, it didn't exist or couldn't possibly be my answer. No wonder we start thinking God doesn't hear us.

    In January of last year my dear friend Andrea challenged me in the best way possible. She asked me what it would feel like to be open to everything. To let go and be guided and be open to every possibility, not clinging to what is familiar. One year ago began my quest to be “open to everything and attached to nothing,” and it has spurred my healing process one hundred fold. If I’d remained in my box of what was familiar and comfortable, I would’ve kept getting the same results—illness, stagnancy in life, a limited perspective, and the same level of faith.

    In the many books I’ve read that tie negative emotions to physical illness, the overlying emotional cause of rheumatoid arthritis is being rigid and trying to control the details of life. By initially taking on that challenge to open myself up to everything and let go of familiar ground, I was literally paving a path of healing in that very act! Being flexible and open is still a struggle for me, although I’ve made so much progress in the last year. Recently I’ve been going even deeper within myself to cut off limiting beliefs and better understand why I feel a need to be rigid, controlling, or a perfectionist, and all I can say is I’ve never done anything so difficult in my entire life, but I’ve never been so close to my Savior, Jesus Christ. Even if no one else understands what we’re struggling with, He does and He will always be right there with us to ease our burdens and feel our pain. 

    (Images taken in Cypress, Greece, © 2008 Katie Newbold.)

    Part 1: Release Emotion, Release Physical Pain

    (Images copyright 2012, Scientific Research Institute, Inc.)

    Although we know that our health improves when we release negative emotions, many (if not most) of us aren't aware of our thoughts, let alone if our thoughts are negative. So how do we release all those negative thoughts and feelings that don't serve us if we're not even aware we're creating them?

    I will be the first to admit that before I started on this health journey I was completely unaware of my thoughts. Sure I heard some of them, but I had no idea how critical I was of myself. I'm generally a very upbeat, high-energy person with a positive outlook on life, so how could I possibly be telling myself negative garbage inside? Once I started listening, all day long I heard my inner voices tell myself that I wasn't good enough. I started to be aware of the constant guilt I was feeling for not being everything for everyone and the constant worry of wanting others to approve of me and love me. Not until the blessed gift of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) came into my life almost 2 years ago did I have a reason to slow down, get in tune with my feelings, and start to hear my inner thoughts. And boy do those thoughts rush through your mind in milliseconds! They come and go just as fast as you glance at a stranger or overhear a conversation or read a phrase in an email, but even though they come and go without you even being aware, those triggers often leave you an emotional disaster—tense, anxious, and worried without even knowing why. Then has to start the process of elimination to remember what event and/or thought initially started that shift in emotion to be able to make a change and get back to a higher, healthier emotional state.

    I had to really slow down and listen to myself to finally see the connection of my thoughts to my feelings and then to my physical pain. It is an all-out miracle that I started to see these connections, and I could write volumes about how I became aware of those inner voices and started to heal, but for now I will share just one blog post–worth of experience. Remember, I am still new to these roads, and even though it's been a year and a half of getting in tune with my Mind, Body, & Spirit, it's still a lot of trial and error. Lucky for me I have the physical joint and muscle pain as a marker. If I release the right emotions, the pain leaves. If I don't pin point the right emotion and situation, I keep brainstorming until I get it right and the pain leaves. And sometimes I never get it and the pain stays with me for a day or three—sometimes very frustrating when you think you should be able to locate the problem after doing this for a year!

    So you may ask, how do you even begin to know what pain came from what emotion? Good question. When I started first started out I used the two books You Can Heal Your Life and Feelings Buried Alive Never Die. They have a helpful list of physical ailments and the possible emotional connection. This was enough for me at first, but then I wanted to better understand where they got this information. 

    This took my studies into Eastern medicine to learn the chakras—the seven energy centers of the body. The chakras are part of our etheric, or spiritual, body of light and energy. Negative emotions and illness block this energy and light from flowing throughout the body. This light and energy is often called chi or qi or the Life Force, which I also refer to it as the Light of Christ. We cannot live without this light and energy, and every living organism, every creation of God, has this energy and light running through them. When there are no blockages we are balanced and healthy. Each of the seven chakras are centers for a different grouping of emotions, from ego and self-esteem in the Third Chakra to will and self-expression in the Fifth Chakra to spirituality in the Seventh Chakra. To learn the chakras and the possible corresponding health problems I used the book Anatomy of the Spirit as my guide.

    Once I had a grasp on the chakras I went deeper to learn the meridians of Chinese medicine, which are the energy pathways that connect the chakras to one another. I've been going to a homeopathic doctor since 2003 who primarily works with the meridians to find the cause of a health problem, but I'd never felt the need to better understand the meridians until now—now that I am aware I can locate the negative emotions I am feeling that are causing my physical pain. Some of the meridians are the Large Intestine, the Lung, the Kidney (which includes the adrenals), the Bladder, the Gallbladder, the Small Intestine, the Heart, the Pericardium, the Triple Warmer, the Stomach, the Spleen-Pancreas, and the Liver. Every meridian corresponds with specific emotions.

    So let's say if the small intestine meridian is showing energy blockage, this could mean that the person is unhappy with life and is experiencing real sadness and grief. If this sadness and grief goes on for too long, physically that person may have lots of ear infections, shoulder and elbow pain, digestion problems, sinus problems, and/or fibromyalgia, arthritis, bursitis, or other problems with the joints and connective tissue. I use a few websites as my meridian resources, so click here to go to one of them.

    See Part II for specific examples of identifying negative thoughts and emotions and releasing them. 

    Part II: Release Emotion, Release Physical Pain

    (Image copyright 2004, Australian Myasthenic Association in NSW)

    To continue on from Part I of Releasing Emotions, here is an example of how I typically become attune to my negative emotions and release them:

    As I was commuting home yesterday I was drastically aware of my improved posture. No tugging on my shoulders to go forward. They were relaxed and back, which I attribute to just starting yoga again. I've only done yoga 3 times in the past 2 weeks, but I've been focusing a lot on my postures, so I was extremely happy at how strong my back is already feeling.

    I was noticing my posture in particular because my "joy muscle" wasn't hurting. This muscle is located in your back, just alongside the shoulder blade. (Anyone know the name of this muscle in Western medicine and anatomy? I think it's the rhomboid muscles, based on The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook.*) As I got used to looking for patterns in my physical pain, I noticed this muscle in my back consistently hurting whenever I felt guilty for putting off work, so I started calling it my "guilt muscle." Well, much to my amazement, when I told my acupuncturist Regan about my "guilt muscle," he said, "Oh, your 'joy muscle'? Yeah, the joy muscle tightens when you're blocking joy." Hmmm. Well what do ya know. Chinese medicine calls it the joy muscle. Interesting, huh?

    So anyways, my joy muscle's been hurting consistently the past few weeks, but on my drive home it felt great! It made me reflect on my day, which I then realized I'd really enjoyed. I'd slept in and missed my first class (yep, first week of school), but then it'd been a great afternoon with having invited community partners who work with the refugee population to come speak to our students—I love interacting with people and busily running here and there. Then I worked on my thesis a little bit, gathering SketchUp projects from boys on the autism spectrum who participate in our research, and then I went to my Theory of Attachment class, which is going to be deep and full of great discussion and self-discovery. I'm really looking forward to this semester.

    Upon that happy reflection I thought it was no wonder my joy muscle was content and relaxed—I was allowing myself to feel the joys of my life. Then I glanced at the clock in my car—5:03 p.m.—and mentally scanned my fridge at home for food. I thought about making a veggie burger, but I knew it would take too long to cook the rice and then let it cool. I was starving and wished I had leftovers to eat as soon as I got home. This whole interchange of thoughts happened in seconds, and without me realizing it, my emotions were shifting downward. I wasn't aware of this shift until my joy muscle started to tense up again. It was incredible how fast it happened! Instantly, which isn't always the case with me, I stopped my thoughts and said out loud, "What just happened?" I back tracked in my thoughts and realized I was choosing to feel annoyed with my food situation. I was feeling like cooking was a drudgery and that I was dreading it. I was unhappy with my everyday circumstances. I was blocking joy from my life.

    In that moment I canceled out all of those thoughts. Verbally expressing emotions literally frees your Mind, Body, & Spirit from the blockage these emotions can potentially create in your energy flow. So while I was driving I verbally released all feelings of my life being hard or a drudgery. Out loud I basically said, "I choose to release and let go of all annoyance at having to make my dinner because it takes so long. I release all frustration and anger at not already having food to eat. I release all feelings of not being worthy of feeling joy in cooking or enjoying my life." You get the picture. After I verbally released all of the negative emotions I was feeling, I tapped my thymus 12 times with my fingers. Your thymus is a gland located under your sternum. (To read more about the thymus gland, go here and here. I haven't done much study in this area, so feel free to share what you learn about the thymus's role in healing the Mind, Body, & Spirit. I know it has to do with its function with the immune system and stimulating the thymus to produce T-cells, but I don't know how it works exactly.)

    After tapping my thymus, I put my hand on my belly and took a few long deep inhales and exhales. I won't get into the details of this now, but I do a lot of visualization while I'm doing this deep breathing to help me feel like I'm really and truly releasing this burden of negative emotions. Any way you choose, see yourself releasing a weight of emotions. It can be symbolic. It can be the first thing that comes to your mind. Then I put my hand on my heart and verbally replace all the negative emotions with positive "I am" statements. So in this case I said things like, "I am patient and love my life. I am grateful for the abundance of food that surrounds me. I am full of joy! I am creative and quick thinking. I am at peace with the flow of my life. I am worthy of feeling joy in my everyday experiences." So that is one way to release negative emotions, release physical pain, and get your energy flowing again.

    When I start to feel my body tense up or my emotions shift downward, I know it's time to pause, reflect on recent events, and release negative emotions. The more you slow down, as I know you all know, the easier it is to be more connected to your thoughts and emotions. Even if you aren't currently experiencing physical pain from unprocessed/unexpressed emotions, releasing those emotions improves your energy level and mood, and prevents physical illness from happening.

    Since this post became a lot longer than I thought it'd be, future posts are to come with more of my experiences with releasing emotions and seeing the physical pain disappear. This may be a lot of new information at once, so try it out for yourself and see how you see a difference in your life.

    *"Trigger point muscles in the rhomboids cause an aching kind of pain along the inner edge of the shoulder blade, which becomes more noticeable at rest. A significant amount of pain at this site may also be coming from the serratus posterior superior muscle, which lies beneath the rhomboids, and from the middle trapezius covering them. There may be trigger points in all three layers. Other muscles that send pain to the inner edge of the shoulder blade include the scaliness, infraspinatus, latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior, and levitator scapulae," (85, The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook). 

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Counterfit Products

    Since I have been posting about essential oils, there are things you should know before purchasing them. Here is a great article written by a friend of Katie about adulterated oils.


    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Best Dinner Ever

    I know Katie already posted about this but I thought I would share a picture of one of my favorite dinners and it was so easy! I baked red potatoes, carrots, purple and yellow onions, whole green onions, zucchini, sliced oranges, and pieces of fresh rosemary coated with olive oil and salt and pepper. It was served with roasted garlic and olive oil couscous.

    Tonight I am going to get even more adventurous and use eggplant, anise (fennel), and yellow squash.

    Blueberry Banana Smoothie w/ Lime

    Plus some other ingredients that didn't fit in the title. Like an orange. Some spinach. And some flax seed. Here're the basic proportions I blended up for breakfast this morning. I'm loving the kick of lime!

    1 cup water
    1 teaspoon flax seeds
    1 orange, peeled and quartered
    1/2 cup blueberries, frozen
    1/4 large banana, frozen
    3 handfuls spinach, frozen
    1 tablespoon (give or take) fresh lime juice
    1 scoop Lepterra chocolate protein powder
    8 ice cubes (which I added after I'd blended all the other ingredients—I just kept adding ice cubes till the consistency was how I like it.)

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Rosemary & Garlic Roasted Vegetables

    On my drive home tonight I got a text from Sam saying, "I just made the best dinner ever, and it was sooo easy! I roasted onions, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, green onions whole, and sliced oranges mixed with olive oil, salt & pepper, and fresh rosemary in the oven." I was starving and this did sound amazing, so even though I wasn't going to get home till 8pm, I knew I wanted to make it tonight. I called Sam to get the details and on the way home ended up mentally creating my own rendition with what I knew was in my fridge. I miraculously had fresh rosemary too and thought I had green onions, but those have mysteriously disappeared. Get creative and add your favorite vegetables.

    You know a recipe is to die for when your cute grandma tries it and says, "I don't feel sorry for you anymore." She'd been feeling bad for me on Sunday when I told her I don't eat canned vegetables. She said, "These are way better than canned vegetables!" Here's what Grandma was raving about:

    Olive oil
    Coconut oil
    5 cloves garlic, chopped and separated
    2 cups baby carrots, sliced
    1/2 onion, chopped into large sections, separated
    2 sprigs fresh rosemary, separated
    2 large beets, sliced thin
    1 orange, sliced and separated
    About 1/8 head purple cabbage, chopped into medium-size pieces
    2 handfuls fresh kale, torn into bite-size pieces
    Sea salt to taste

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    Coat the bottom of a glass casserole dish with olive oil. Coat the bottom of another glass dish (or whatever baking dish you have) with coconut oil. I used both oils for variety, but use what you have. In the olive oil I put 4 cloves of garlic and in the coconut oil I put 2 cloves, mostly because the second dish was smaller than the first. In the olive oil I then added the carrots, most of the onion, 1 sprig of rosemary, half the orange slices, and salt. In the coconut oil I then added the beets, a little bit of onion, 1 sprig of rosemary, half the orange slices, and salt. I separated the beets to keep the purple from dying the rest of the veggies.

    Bake both dishes at the same time for 40 minutes total. After the first 20 minutes, remove the beet dish and add the cabbage. Mix well and put back in oven. Then 10 minutes later remove carrot dish and add kale. Mix well and put back in oven for final 10 minutes. Remove from oven and serve.

    It's 10pm now and I'm exhausted, but it was worth taking the time to cook this gourmet dish, especially because now I have lunch for tomorrow! Enjoy!

    What do you put in a green smoothie?

    One of the main questions a lot of friends ask me is, "What do you eat if you don't eat dairy, gluten, meat, or processed foods?" A typical breakfast always includes a green smoothie, and then I'll maybe eat some sprouted Ezekiel bread with coconut oil & honey or almond butter & fresh raspberries on top. Or I'll sauté some garlic, veggies, spinach, etc., in coconut oil and then add a couple eggs. Then friends usually want to know what I put in all those green smoothies. To be honest I don't usually go by recipes, I just follow my heart and throw in whatever I'm in the mood for or whatever happens to be in my freezer or fridge.

    Here's what I'm drinking this morning. Today I was in the mood for orange and yellow fruits. These measurements are approximations, so feel free to add more or less of any of these ingredients. The most important thing when creating your own smoothies is to balance the liquids with the frozens to keep your blender working.

    (Makes 3–4 cups)
    1 cup water
    1 teaspoon flax seeds
    1 orange, peeled and quartered
    3 handfuls fresh spinach, frozen
    1 cup sliced peaches, frozen
    3 cubes of fresh pineapple, frozen
    1 cup fresh sliced mango, frozen
    1/4 large banana, frozen

    As you can tell I like to freeze the fruit and greens that I buy. That way I can buy fruit in bulk and in the season (e.g., a case of fresh raspberries from a local roadside stand), freeze most of it, and then enjoy it for months at a time. Summer months are especially great for buying fresh fruit, so most of my freezer is stocked with fresh peaches, pears, asian pears, and raspberries, as well as fresh papaya, mango, pineapple, strawberries, grapes, blueberries, and black berries. I usually buy my greens on a weekly basis, so I like to freeze them too so that they aren't wilted and yellow by the end of the week. I buy spinach and a variety of kales, chards. It's always fun to experiment with a new green to mix it up a bit and find your favorites. Typically my favorites are the most mild-tasting ones and the less chunky ones!

    Green smoothies are the best way I've found to get the daily energy I need from all-natural, out-of-the-ground means. You'll be amazed at how much better you'll feel after adding a green smoothie to your day, and there are always ways to get creative and add new and interesting ingredients to the mix*. Have fun drinking green!

    *Some other ingredients I'll often add to my smoothies are chia seeds, coconut oil, and protein powder, specifically a sugar-free powder that is made from plant protein (usually brown rice and pea protein), not whey or soy proteins, for the best health benefits. For my body I've found that Lepterra protein powder is the best, but I'm sure there are other great ones out there. I was using a Nikken's Kenzen Body Balance for a while—it tasted great, but when I took it to my homeopathic doctor Barbara, her computer showed that it just wasn't working for my body. She looked over the ingredient list, which looked great at first, but then she noticed that the powder didn't contain any digestive enzymes. Apparently those are important! So even though I'm not an expert, this at least has been my experience with protein powders.

    Sunday, January 8, 2012

    Magic in a Bottle

    Thieves essential oil blend was created based on a historical account of four thieves in France during the 15th century. During the black plague they rubbed the combination of these oils on their bodies before robbing victims of the killer disease without becoming infected. When captured, they were offered a lighter sentence in exchange for their secret recipe. It contains clove, lemon, eucalyptus, rosemary, and cinnamon and a must have for every home and first aid kit. It helps eliminate airborne bacteria and boosts the immune system. It is a safe and powerful approach in the battle against bacteria, germs, fungus and viruses all year round. I have been using it for a month and a half now and can attest it works.

    There are so many ways to use Thieves, here are at least 50. 
    1. Apply to cuts or open wounds to prevent infection and promote healing.
    2. Mix with a tablespoon of water, gargle & swallow to stop a sore throat.
    3. Apply undiluted directly to the skin of your upper chest and throat for bronchitis.
    4. Put a drop on your thumb and apply to the roof of your mouth for a headache.
    5. Put 10-12 drops in a capsule undiluted and swallow daily for longevity.
    6. For acne, take internally and apply to skin diluted with oil.
    7. Put directly on the soles of your feet to protect you from colds and flu.
    8. Diffuse in home/office to keep the germ count down.
    9. Breathe in vapors when you have lung congestion.
    10. Use to clean pet cages, creating a healthier environment for them.
    11. Add to your dishwasher for cleaner dishes.
    12. Add to your laundry cycle for cleaner clothes.
    13. Add to your mop water for cleaner floors.
    14. Mix with water to make a spray to repel insects on your plants.
    15. Use to dissolve the gummy adhesive on price labels.
    16. Apply to bee and wasp stings to neutralize the toxins and relieve pain.
    17. Apply to gums to prevent and treat gum disease.
    18. Apply orally to maintain healthy teeth and reduce cavities.
    19. Apply to gums and teeth for pain relief from toothaches.
    20. Diffuse in homes or businesses to solve mold problems.
    21. Add to orange juice and drink to reduce phlegm and congestion.
    22. Apply to broken bones or joints for pain relief and to hasten healing.
    23. Put a drop in your cup of tea for flavor and to maintain health.
    24. Put on the tip of your tongue to help you stop smoking.
    25. Put on cold sores to make them disappear.
    26. For warts, apply topically, inhale and take in capsules to make them disappear
    27. Rub on sore joints to relieve arthritis pain.
    28. Drink a few drops in water or juice every three hours to stop a cold.
    29. Place a drop on the tongue and a drop in a glass of water every day for herpes.
    30. Rub on bottoms of children’s feet for protection before school.
    31. Diffuse in the house as your children come home from school.
    32. Mix 50:50 with vegetable oil and rub on daily for relief of shingles.
    33. Apply a drop on a wound of a cat or dog to clear it up.
    34. Diffuse in home or office to stimulate a cheerful mood.
    35. Diffuse in the office to increase concentration and work efficiency.
    36. Diffuse in your place of business to ward off the germs.
    37. Diffuse in the classroom to reduce student sickness and absenteeism.
    38. Put a few drops in your carpet steamer to disinfect carpet.
    39. Mix a few drops with a teaspoon of honey for cough relief.
    40. Breathe and apply for sinus headaches.
    41. Put a drop on a pimple to make it shrink & disappear.
    42. For Laryngitis, put a drop under tongue to restore voice.
    43. Inhale for relief of allergy symptoms.
    44. Take a capsule full every day for relief of Lyme disease symptoms.
    45. Carry a bottle on every flight to protect you from germs.
    46. Drop in a heat/AC vents of a hotel to cleanse room.
    47. Apply one drop on an infected wound of cat or dog to clear.
    48. Mix with baking soda to clean bathtubs.
    49. Apply undiluted to the toes and feet to combat fungus.
    50. Apply to poison ivy rashes ( may need to dilute with vegetable oil to relieve the itch.)

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Mother Nature's Pharmacy

    Last month I was introduced to essential oils! I have always wanted to learn about and use them, but it wasn't until Katie sent me a link to a mini essential oil kit that I finally jumped in. I have been amazed at how much they can do!

    What are essential oils?

    Essential oils are extracted from plant sources through steam distillation and are highly concentrated.  Their chemical makeup is complex but with vast benefits.

    What can I use them for?

    What CAN'T you use them for? They can be used in aromatherapy, massage therapy, emotional health, personal care, as nutritional supplements, household solutions, and can be used in healing our bodies from various diseases and ailments. They can also be used on pets. Can you believe there are oils that can stop bleeding? Essential oils are better than a modern first aid kit!

    How long have they been around?

    Research dates the use of essential oils back to 4500 B.C. Ancient Egyptians were the first to discover their fragrance and used them in treating illnesses and performing rituals. Three oils they used back then are still used today which are cedarwood, myrrh, and frankincense. Since then they have been reintroduced into modern medicine since the 18th and 19th centuries and have been used traditionally to kill harmful germs, as well as spiritually to balance mood, lift spirits, and dispel negative emotions.

    I will be sharing more about essential oils, I am learning so much and am excited to share! 

    Gluten-Free Double Chip Pumpkin Cookies

    This post was meant for fall, but this pumpkin goodness is actually edible year round! Sorry I was holding out on you guys.

    Gluten-Free Double Chip Pumpkin Cookies
    Makes 3 dozen cookies

    1/2 cup water
    3 Tablespoons ground flaxseeds (can be ground in your BlendTech)
    1 1/3 cups Organic Sucanat brown sugar, packed
    2/3 cup canned pumpkin
    1/2 cup almond butter
    3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
    2 cups gluten-free flour
    1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    3/4 teaspoon xanthum gum
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    3/4 cup each vegan gluten-free white and semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life's chips because they're soy free too!)

    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl stir together water and flaxseeds, and let sit for 5 minutes. Add brown sugar, pumpkin, almond butter, coconut oil, and vanilla, and combine, stirring well.

    2. In a medium bowl mix together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, xanthum gum, and sale. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir well to combine. Fold in chocolate chips.

    3. Heap 2 tablespoonfuls of cookie dough onto cookie sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until very lightly browned on the bottom. Let cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack.

    Tip: For all the effort it takes to make these cookies, I like to double the recipe and then freeze the majority of the dough in small tupperware containers. So nice to pull ready-made dough from the freezer when I'm in the mood for cookies or need to take a gluten-free treat for myself to a social gathering.

    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    "Buzz, I'm going through all your private stuff! You better come out and pound me!"

    (So I just made the coolest discovery! You can import blog posts from one blog into another. For those of you who are interested in doing this too, click here for instructions.)

    Because I want to share more of my health journey with all of you, I'm now willing to dig through the recesses of my private blog. Yes, I said it and I meant it—my private blog. Now you know this is a big deal. I thought it would be a good idea to share a little bit from my personal blog to fill in the blanks of my journey of finding out I had rheumatoid arthritis. This may be to help those of you who are searching for answers to your own health problems and it also may be to help others of you make important connections or get needed insight into your own lives. Whatever it be, may you find what you are looking for.

    Here are the newly added posts from my personal blog:
    Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Real Thing, Baby?
    I Darn Well Better Create
    Surpassing Gratitude
    My New Favorite Medicine
    More Answers
    Miracle Waiting in the Wings
    Fake It Till You Make It
    Not for Long
    Boy Meets Girl

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Kale by Candlelight

    Sometimes I like to eat dinner by candlelight. Sometimes I like to do anything by candlelight. Hey, it's 2012, my year of JOY, so I'm looking for every opportunity to love each moment of my life.

    Tonight's salad was going to be pretty typical—spinach, kale, carrots, purple cabbage—but then I decided to try a new dressing I just bought. Organic Ville's Miso Ginger Organic Vinaigrette. Usually I go the simple route and drizzle my salad with olive oil and sea salt with maybe a quick splash of rice vinegar. Well the vinaigrette was a little too savory for my taste, so I had a brilliant idea to add pomegranate seeds to the salad to sweeten things up a bit. Love it! I think it was the kale that inspired me. Tonight I'm eating Lacinato Kale (also known as dinosaur kale), which is dark green with flat leaves bumpy leaves, and a beautiful purple kale called Borecole Redbor, which has a bright purple filtering through the curly leaves and stem. I usually eat kale raw in a salad or a smoothie, but I am open to any other suggestions you guys have. Anyone prefer it steamed?

    Kale is a rockstar of a leafy green that should find a place on anyone's plate or blender. I love kale for its anti-inflammatory benefits as well as cancer-fighting properties. Only 1 cup of raw kale gives you more vitamin K than any other food and 684% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). To read more about the health benefits of kale, click here and here.