honey thyme cough syrup

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I’ve been quiet on the blog and social media this past week because I was sick. Last Sunday while I was visiting Jason in Ventura I woke up with a swollen throat and headache. I knew I was coming down with something. I drove home that day and by mid-afternoon I had a full blown cold. Runny nose, body aches, sinus pressure, the works. For anyone that has had a summer cold you know how terrible they are!

In the past when I have been sick I kept up with my normal activities and subsisted on cold medicine. I would try and fight the sickness instead of allowing it to pass through me. As a result I stayed sick much longer than needed and I would often get sick again soon after. These days I know that rest is key. On my way back from Ventura I stopped at the market and picked up everything I’d need for several days at home. When I got back I rescheduled clients and got my classes covered. I surrendered.

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As a few of you know I have been tinkering around in the kitchen making herbal medicine for the last few months. I’ve developed a few tinctures and essences just for my own use to learn about the process and get to know more intimately the effects of particular plants. Towards the end of my cold I developed a cough and decided to make a cough syrup and see how it went. I am happy to report it works really well and I’ve been looking forward to sharing this simple recipe with you.

Learning how to make simple and effective remedies has been an empowering experience. As someone who spent years being sick taking loads of conventional drugs, it feels amazing to know I can create a medicine to relieve my cough. I’m not saying I’ll never go to a doctor again or take medications if absolutely necessary nor do I want to take the place of a medical professional. What I want is to learn to take care of myself on a new level and deepen my relationship with my own health. I want to become more self-reliant and this humble cough syrup is a step in that direction.

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Thyme is an aromatic, savory, warming herb that supports our lungs. It aids in relieving chest congestion, coughs and indigestion. According to several studies done by Dr. Paul Lee, a professor at UC Santa Cruz, thyme has a strengthening effect on the thymus gland which boosts immune function. Thyme can be used externally as a disinfectant.

In Ayurvedic medicine thyme is considered an antiseptic, astringent and expectorant. Thyme is used to treat respiratory issues and headaches. It reduces vata and kapha. An Ayurvedic remedy for treating coughs is using a drop or two of thyme essential oil in a facial steam. This will help to clear congestion and soothe the throat.

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Raw honey has a long medicinal history and is a very powerful remedy with many uses. It has many antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Raw honey has been used to treat seasonal allergies, coughs, dry skin, constipation and to enhance immune function. Traditional Chinese medicine classifies honey as sweet and neutral and associates it with the lungs, large intestine, spleen and stomach.

To receive the full benefits of honey it is important to consume raw honey. Excessive heat will strip honey of its medicinal and nutritional properties. Ayurvedic medicine has been using raw honey medicinally for ages. It is well known that cooked honey has no benefits and causes mucus. It reduces vata and kapha.

I purchase local raw honey from the farmers market. It should not be given to children under 12 months or consumed by diabetics.

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Honey Thyme Cough Syrup

makes 1 cup

 

Ingredients //

  • 1 oz. fresh thyme
  • 3 c. water
  • 1/2 c. raw honey

 

Method //

  1. Add the thyme and water to a pan over low heat. Put a lid on top, slightly ajar so steam can come out. Simmer at the lowest setting possible until the water is reduced to 1 cup. This will take a while so be patient!
  2. Strain the thyme and let the tea sit for a few minutes.
  3. Stir in the honey until dissolved completely.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 6 weeks.

 

Directions //

  • Take 1 teaspoon every few hours as needed to relive cough.

 

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There you have it! My first official medicine recipe. I hope you don’t get sick but if you do get a cough try this and let me know how it goes.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

xoa

summer buckwheat blackberry peach porridge

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Happy Friday friends! I managed to get out of L.A. with the cat in tow before traffic today. Miracles do happen! Falcore and I are hanging in Ventura with Jason for the weekend. So far he’s liking it here which makes me happy. I’ve never traveled with him before other than to move and I’d like to be able to start bringing him up here. We’ll see how this visit goes.

I’ve got a satisfying summer breakfast recipe to share with you today. I love my cooked buckwheat porridge in the morning but lately it’s too hot to eat a warm meal in the morning. I have big smoothies like this one, but on the days I am looking for something a little more hearty I’ll opt for a raw version of buckwheat porridge.

Okay so just to be clear this really doesn’t resemble porridge but it’s the closest name I could come up with and it’s what I’ve been calling this breakfast since I started making these several years ago. You might remember my Cardamom Ginger and Raw Pink Porridge from a few years back my and. This week I’m sharing an updated recipe on a summer breakfast staple.

I’ve written in the past posts about the benefits of soaking and sprouting buckwheat. It’s got all the info you need on why soaking is awesome and how to do it. For this recipe I just use the soaked buckwheat groats but you can make it with the sprouts too just don’t dehydrate them.

What I love about this breakfast besides the fact that it is a nutrient power meal is that it literally takes 5 minutes to make in the morning if you soak your buckwheat groats the night before. Wake up, rinse them off well (they can get gooey, don’t be alarmed!) and throw everything in the blender.

I prefer a smooth consistency here so I blend everything for about 40 seconds. You pulse it for a chunkier texture or keep a few tablespoons of the soaked buckwheat out and stir it in later for a nice crunch.

One of my favorite summer pies is peach blackberry. It reminds me of growing up in the South. After 2.5 years of living in Southern California I finally got my hands on some sweet peaches! They are still pretty small compared to the ones back home but at least they taste good. Since blackberries are pretty tart I added 1/2 of a banana and 2 large dates to the mix. Buckwheat has a wonderful nutty flavor and pairs well with many different fruits.

 

Summer Buckwheat Blackberry Peach Porridge

serves 2

 

Ingredients //

  • 1 c. buckwheat groats
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. almond milk
  • 1 medium peach, pit removed
  • 1 c. blackberries
  • 1/2 banana
  • 2 large pitted dates
  • 2 tsp. ground vanilla
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Pinch of Celtic sea salt
  • 1 medium peach sliced into wedges for topping

 

Method //

  1. Rinse the buckwheat groats in several changes of water.
  2. Place them in a medium size bowl and cover with room temperature filtered water.
  3. Add the lemon juice and cover with a cloth. Let soak overnight on the counter. In the morning rinse it very well in several changes of water.
  4. In your high speed blender add the soaked buckwheat, almond milk, peach, blackberries, banana, dates, spices, lemon juice and salt. Blend on high until you reach the desired consistency.
  5. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  6. Pour into small bowls or glasses and top with sliced peaches.
  7. Serve at room temperature.

 

You can easily make a double batch and store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. If you don’t have blackberries blueberries would work great in their place, frozen berries are an option as well.

There you go! If you make this recipe I would love to hear how it goes. Feel free to comment or tag me on Instagram, @ashley_neese. Wishing you an awesome weekend!

xoa

zucchini noodles with avocado basil cream

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Hi! I hope you are having a wonderful Saturday. I have a delicious summery recipe for you this afternoon. It’s just cooling enough and even better than the noodles and cream sauce I loved eating in college.

Zucchini is such a versatile summer squash that has a high water content making it a great beauty food. It provides quality antioxidants A and C which is also great for our skin and promotes healthy hair. In Chinese Medicine zucchini helps reduce heat in the body.

Zucchini is easy to digest, light and refreshing which aren’t usually the words that come to mind when I think of pasta ;) When I first learned to make zucchini pasta it was amazing. I rushed out and bought the Paderno Spiralizer and pretty much spiralized anything I could until I got bored with it and gave it away. Well I finally purchased it again (the same exact one) and am happy that I did! It’s such a fun tool and as we move into the hottest part of the summer it’s natural to eat light. Zucchini pasta has been a staple over here again and it’s been awesome!

If you don’t have a spiralizer you can slice the zucchini with a mandoline and then use a sharp knife to make the noodles. I’ve even seen bloggers use a regular old grater or vegetable peeler. I’ve made them with a mandoline and vegetable peeler and it’s worked beautifully – you can get a really flat noodle almost like fettuccine! And know I use the word almost very loosely ;)

One of the best things about this recipe is that it comes together in minutes. You can eat this dish totally raw or cook the noodles just a little on the stove. To cook them heat a little coconut oil in a medium pan and sauté them over medium heat for a few minutes. Because they are so high in water they will shrink a little but still taste great!

You can spiralize a bunch of zucchini at one time and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days. In addition to pasta you can use the noodles in salads, soups and stir-frys – so many possibilities!

 

Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Basil Cream

serves 2

 

Ingredients //

  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1/2 ripe large avocado
  • 1/2 small lemon, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp. tahini
  • 5 large basil leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. Celtic sea salt
  • 1  c. cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 10 basil leaves, sliced thin
  • 4 Tbsp. hemp hearts

 

Method //

  1. Spiralize the zucchini or make noodles with a mandoline or vegetable peeler.
  2. Combine the avocado, lemon juice, tahini, 5 basil leaves and salt in a small food processor. Pulse until combined. If it’s too thick and not moving well add water by the tablespoon (I used 1 tablespoon in mine) and process again until you have a creamy sauce. Add more lemon juice to taste.
  3. Toss the noodles with 1/2 of the cream sauce until well combined.
  4. Add the tomatoes and basil and toss again.
  5. Serve in two pasta bowls and sprinkle with hemp hearts.
  6. Season with a little more salt as needed.
  7. Extra cream sauce will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 days.

 

There you have it! So simple and delicious. We’re already planning to eat this again tomorrow. The avocado cream makes a perfect spread too, enjoy!

xoa

homemade coconut yogurt

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Happy 4th of July! I’m up early so I can beat the traffic up to the beach today. I’m hoping to be out of LA by 9:30 :) I’ve been sitting on this recipe for over a week and it’s been so hard not to post it! I promised a coconut yogurt recipe months ago and I really appreciate your patience. I had to go through a couple more tests to get it just right.

The most challenging part of this recipe is opening the fresh coconuts! I like to use the young Thai coconuts because I can get them at a discount in bulk here and they tend to have more water and flesh inside. Also, the water of the young coconuts has more electrolytes than mature coconuts. I never know what to call the insides of coconut. It always seemed weird to me that we refer to it as “flesh” or “meat” when it’s the inside of a nut! Anyway, just crack a few of these babies open and you’ll have the best dairy free yogurt ever. Promise.

I’ve been consuming more probiotic rich foods this summer to take care of my gut. Fermented foods give your gut a healthy dose of friendly bacteria which helps the entire body function smoother. Our guts take a heavy hit of toxins from water, stress, food, and the air we breathe. Even when we try to live as healthy as possible we cannot eliminate all of them. Personally I take a daily probiotic and consume fermented foods at least once a day if not more.

The beauty of these foods is that a little does go a long way. You don’t have to eat a bowl of sauerkraut or three cups of yogurt. A small glass of kefir (posting on this next week), a Tablespoon or two of kraut, 1/2 c. of yogurt. It’s really pretty simple and delicious too!

What I love about this recipe is that it doesn’t include any added sugar. Many of the homemade recipes I read had added sugar. The beauty of the coconut is that it already has sugar in it and it’s enough to activate the cultures in the probiotic – it’s such an ideal way to make yogurt. Another huge benefit is there are no added thickening agents because the coconut is loaded with healthy fat and doesn’t need anything to set up into the perfect yogurt consistency. Amazing right?!

I want to take a few moments to write about coconuts because they are so incredible. In many Pacific Asian Island and Polynesian communities coconut is part of the daily diet and has a host of medicinal properties. In Sanskrit, the coconut palm is known as ‘kalpa virksha’, meaning “the tree that supplies all that is needed to live”. Chinese Medicine views coconut as a warming, sweet food. Coconut water builds blood and strengthens the heart. Coconut can also be useful in clearing summer heat.

Some of the other health benefits of fresh coconut:

  • Support the immune system, they are anti-bacterial and anit-viral
  • Improve digestion and nutrient absorption
  • Supports thyroid restoration
  • Keeps hair and skin well hydrated
  • Promotes kidney and bladder function

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For the recipe you can adjust the consistency by adding more or less coconut water. I like my yogurt on the thicker side but I know some like it more runny. It’s totally your call. I like to top mine with fresh fruit and raw bee pollen for the ultimate superfood breakfast. Crunchy granola, seeds or nuts work well with it too.

If cracking open fresh coconuts isn’t your thing you can use frozen coconut flesh and raw coconut water. Let the flesh thaw first bu running the pouch in hot water or letting it rest on the counter.

Note: if you’re using fresh coconut and the flesh is grey please discard.

 

Homemade Coconut Yogurt

serves 6

 

Ingredients //

  • 16 oz. coconut flesh, cleaned (about 3 large  young coconuts)
  • 1  c. coconut water (plus 1/2 c. if needed)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 probiotic capsule (I use ReNew Life, Women’s 90 Billion)

 

Method //

  1. Blend the coconut flesh, coconut water and lime juice well.
  2. Add more coconut water if you want it thinner. I used 1 1/4 c. coconut water.
  3. Empty the capsule and blend for a few seconds.
  4. Pour contents into a clean glass jar and cover with cheesecloth or a nut milk bag.
  5. Set on the counter to ferment for 12 hours (I do it over night)
  6. Refrigerate and eat!

 

If it gets clumpy after it’s fermented you can put it back in the blender and then in the fridge. I can’t wait for you to try this recipe!

Have a fantastic weekend.

xoa

she finally came home

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Last weekend I flew out to Chicago to meet my Dad and brother. We drove up to Beloit, the small Southern Wisconsin city where my brother and I were born, for my Grandma’s memorial service. She passed away in January of this year and her wish was to have her ashes sprinkled on the farm outside of Beloit that my Grandfather built.

Losing a Grandparent is like losing a big part of your history. When they leave this life as we know it many of their memories and stories go with them. It’s a very strange feeling to not have any more Grandparents. It makes me wonder what it’s like for my parents, to be parent-less. I realize I am fortunate to be as close with my parents as I am an to have had relationships with three of my Grandparents for as long as I did. The older I get the more I miss my Grandparents and wish they were around. There are so many unanswered questions.

Spending time in Beloit was a little surreal. My Dad’s family had lived there and owned a huge business for 100 years. There are names on college buildings belonging to my Great Grandparents and even a middle school named after my Great Grandfather. It’s a strange feeling to see all these names and wonder what they were like. We moved to Atlanta (where my Mom grew up) when I was four. I have some vivid memories of Beloit which seems odd since I was so young. My brother couldn’t believe I remembered so much because he doesn’t have any memories of that time. He was one when we moved.

There is this one memory that sticks out in my mind. My Dad and I are in a narrow diner, sitting up at the counter. I’m drinking hot cocoa. I remember feeling really content, happy and safe. Afterwards he took me to the family company and introduced me to people. Even though I didn’t have the words for it I knew he was proud to be there with me. That might be one of my favorite memories of us.

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We drive out to the farm and I don’t remember much until we are inside. The long hallway with all the rooms off of it. The light wood is everywhere and it even has a similar smell. The man who owns the farm now is kind enough to let us walk his property, come inside the house where my Dad and Uncle are sharing stories from when they lived there. It’s fun to watch them walk into a room. Their eyes change and the memories flood in.

We walk around outside and I see the patch of pine trees that my Great Grandfather planted for his Grandchildren. They are over 60 years old and are so tall. It’s peaceful there and the energy is good. My Uncle walks to the car to bring Grandma’s ashes out. They are much heavier and lighter in color than I would have imagined. The wind is blowing South East. We form a semi circle around a plaque on a large stone that says that is where my Great Grandfather planted all of those trees.

It’s late morning. The air is clean. A few, honest, heart felt words are spoken. My Uncle spreads the ashes. The wind stops. Four magnificent hawks fly over head. There is a brief silence as we all stand there, tears streaming down our cheeks. This is what she wanted. Grandma told us for years the happiest memories of her life were living on that land and now she had finally come home.

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4pm we head to my Uncle’s farm and it’s just as amazing as I remember. It’s been about 25 years since I’ve been there and it’s the first time we’re there with our cousins. The water is crystal clear and fresh from a well. There are fields of sunflowers (not quite in bloom), this beautiful tall grass, and the most gorgeous Weeping Willow I have ever seen. And another memory flashes in my mind. The Weeping Willow in our backyard at the house my Dad built in Beloit. And the brown swing my Grandfather built that I’ve always been sad my parents didn’t bring to Atlanta.

We eat a beautiful dinner. Laugh a great deal. My Dad and Uncle are hilarious together, always have been. I think of Grandma and her stories of dinners at the farm and how my Dad and his siblings would just tease each other the entire time.

Midwestern sunsets feel like home. You can see for miles and miles and the colors are like nothing I’ve ever seen. We say our goodbyes and get in the car. As soon as I close the door I see a lightening bug (now my Southern accent comes out a bit) and cheer with delight. Dad stops near the end of the driveway and tells me exactly where to look for them. We wait, patiently to see their amazing flickers. He urges me to get out of the car and catch one.

Another flash in my mind. Mom, Dad, my Brother and I are up at Lake Geneva in Grandma’s condo. Lake Geneva is about 45 minutes from Beloit. I remember the Weeping Willows by the lake and running around with my Brother catching lightening bugs at dusk. We just sit in the car, staring out the windows. Waiting for another flash.

I wanted to sit there forever.

We slowly pulled out of the driveway and head back to Beloit under that incredible sunset. There was this unspoken peaceful feeling between us. As we drive along the empty country road I look up at the sky and smile. She was with us the entire time.

xoa

cauliflower tabouli

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Today I am sharing a new twist on one of my favorite Arabic salads. Tabouli also spelled Tabbouleh is widely popular in Armenia and Turkey and is usually served as part of a mezze, a variety of small dishes all served together often on the same plate. I ate many of these mezze platters as they are often referred to in Berlin and fell in love with all the different flavors and spices.

Tabouli is traditionally a salad of fresh tomatoes, parsley, mint, onion, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Often bulgur wheat is tossed into the mix as well. In the past I have made it with quinoa but this time I wanted to make it with cauliflower “rice” just as an experiment. I literally ate it all in two days, but I did save a bite for Jason who approved of it’s flavors and textures ;)

Cauliflower “rice” has been making a big appearance on my Pinterest feed lately and I wanted to jump in on the fun. To make the “rice” all you do is pulse the cauliflower in your food processor until you have little rice-like pieces. It’s super easy!

Eating raw cauliflower, even when it’s broken up into tiny pieces isn’t my favorite. Instead of using it totally raw like many recipes, I dropped it in boiling water for just a few minutes and it was so much better. The key here is to use a fine mesh strainer to properly drain the cooked pieces otherwise you will have a watery salad. Tabouli is all about the flavors, the word is actually derived from the Arabic word taabil which means seasoning. You want to be sure to drain the cauliflower “rice” well. I used the back of a large flat spoon to press the cooked cauliflower pieces into the strainer. A nut milk bag would also work well.

I love eating fresh micro greens whenever possible in the summer so I threw a few handfuls into this dish. I also added diced cucumber which gave it a lovely crunch. If you don’t like those just leave them out. This tabouli keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Enjoy!

 

Cauliflower Tabouli

serves 4-6

 

Ingredients //

  • 3 c. cauliflower (about 1 medium/large head)
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1 c. tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 c. purple onion, minced
  • 1 c. flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 c. fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 c. fresh micro greens (I used a mix of arugula, broccoli and kale)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1-2 tsp. sea salt to taste

 

Method //

  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil, chop the cauliflower into large chunks. Place in the food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse until you have a rice like consistency.
  3. Once water is boiling put the cauliflower “rice” into it, reduce heat to medium and boil for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour the cauliflower “rice” into a fine mesh strainer. Set aside for a few minutes to let it cool.
  5. Add the cucumber, tomatoes, onion, parsley mint and micro greens to a large mixing bowl.
  6. When the “rice” has cooled a bit get out as much water as you can by pressing the it with the back of a large spoon.
  7. Fluff the “rice” with a fork and let it stand another 10 minutes to drain and cool.
  8. Transfer “rice” to the mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.
  9. Toss well and serve at room temperature or chilled.
  10. Keeps 3 days in the fridge.

There you go! I’m out of town right now for my Grandma’s memorial in Wisconsin. It’s been sad but really good to be with family. I’ll share more about that in the next few days. Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

xoa

refrigerator pickles

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I love pickles! Crunchy, salty and sour goodness, what else do you need?! Last week I posted my lacto-fermented Lavender Sauerkraut recipe. This week I wanted to share another delicious way to achieve a similar flavor without having to go through the fermentation process.

Note, these quick pickles (or refrigerator pickles as we referred to them in the South) do not have the healthy probiotics that you get when you ferment. The nice thing about them is they come together super fast, you can use a variety of veggies and you don’t have to sterilize jars like you would for a traditional canned pickle. They can keep up to a month in the fridge if they last that long!

The key to a tasty refrigerator pickle is a good brine, some flavorful herbs and spices and of course Kosher salt. If you want a real kick add some fresh jalapeño! Feel free to play around with the seasonings and add what you like. As far as the brine goes I like a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar for a good vinegar flavor. If you don’t want them too vinegar-y (that should totally be a word) use 1/2 c. less vinegar and add 1/2 c. water. I also like to boil the garlic a bit in the brine to help release the flavors even more.

I used cucumbers and a handful of string beans in this recipe. In the past I’ve made it with onions, carrots, radishes and cabbage. You can use whatever you have on hand and experiment. It’s super easy and fun when you get into it. Another plus is it’s so much more cost effective to use the awesome seasonal produce available now than to buy pickles at the store. I used 2 16oz. jars for this recipe.

 

Refrigerator Pickles

serves 8

 

Ingredients //

  • 2 c. water
  • 2 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. English cucumbers
  • Large handful of string beans
  • 4 springs fresh dill
  • 2 tsp. dill seeds
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns

 

Method //

  1. In a medium pot bring the water, vinegar and garlic to a low boil. Simmer on low for 5 minutes.
  2. Wash and slice the cucumbers into quarters, lengthwise.
  3. Trim the ends off of the string beans.
  4. Fill the jars with equal amounts of the fresh dill, dill seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and peppercorns.
  5. Next add the cucumbers and beans to the jars. Pack them tight.
  6. When the 5 minutes are up on the pot stir in the salt and let it dissolve. Once the brine is smooth turn off the heat and transfer 2 cloves of garlic to each jar.
  7. Ladle the brine into each jar until all of the veggies are submerged. Allow to come to room temperature on the counter.
  8. Put the lids on top and store them in the fridge.

 

The pickles will be ready in 24 hours. The longer they stay in the fridge the softer and more flavorful they will become. I’m going to be pickling a lot this summer so stay tuned and enjoy!

xoa

wellness wednesdays: eating healthy while traveling

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Summer is here and that usually means a vacation of some sort. Many of my clients and friends have asked me how to eat healthy while they are traveling. I’ve been known to sprout in hotel rooms and make salads in plastic bags on buses. While I’m not fanatic about food as I was a few years ago, I’ve learned a great deal about how to eat in alignment with my life away from home. Last year I wrote a post about staying healthy on your summer vacation. Today I’m going to expand on that and share how I maintain my healthy lifestyle while on the road.

1. Check out where you are going.
The first thing I do before going to a new destination is research that place. I look up cafes, restaurants and natural food markets so that I have a sense of where I can get good foods before I get there. I bookmark where I want to go in Yelp that way I don’t have to worry about remembering it.

2. Pack supplements and tools.
Some places are easier than others to find quality foods. A few years ago I was teaching in Banff, Alberta, a ski town in Canada in the middle of winter. Needless to say I knew it was going to be challenging to find fresh foods and organics would be costly. For that trip I packed my travel blender and quality supplements like my green powder so I could make simple nutrient packed smoothies with some produce from the local market. I’ve taken this blender on many trips and I am always grateful to have it with me.

3. Prep and pack food.
Airport food is generally gross and super expensive. A couple of days before my trip I prepare a bunch of snacks and a meal for the trip. Flying overseas is a bit more challenging but I’ve done it enough to know how to make it work. I just pack extra food and make sure I have plenty of fresh fruit, veggies and quality protein that travels well like beans and nut butter. On some international flights you might not be able to take produce out of customs but that’s usually not an issue for me as I’ve gobbled up everything on the plane ;)

Here is a sample list of what I like to take:

  • Apples
  • Sliced carrots, cucumbers, celery, bell peppers
  • Hummus
  • Almond butter
  • Granola bars
  • Kale chips
  • Crackers
  • Tea, ginger, licorice, sleepy time, peppermint

Depending on what time I am leaving I usually have to eat at least one meal on the plane. Usually my meal is a version of this bowl that I pack in a big container. For breakfast time flights I like to bring chia pudding and/or a big green smoothie.

4. Drink plenty of water.
This is common sense but it’s easy to forget. Flying is very dehydrating. Try to drink 16 ounces of water before you get on the plane and when the flight attendant comes around ask for water without ice. Usually I am able to talk them into giving me an entire bottle! Staying hydrated on the plane will make for a smoother transition when you reach your destination. I can’t tell you how many times I have flown and felt terrible when I landed. I felt drained, exhausted and would get pounding headaches. This rarely happens now because I drink so much water. Avoid alcohol and coffee, they are acidic and non-hydrating.

5. Hit the grocery store.
When you get to your destination make it a point to go to the grocery store and stock up. Every time I go back to Atlanta to visit my family our first stop is always Whole Foods. My Mom knows I need to get my food in order so I don’t have to worry about it during my trip. If you’re not staying in a place with a kitchen, make use of the mini bar fridge to set yourself up for success. I have the hotel just clear it out so it’s ready for all of my goodies.

Here are some options for stocking your hotel fridge:

  • Pre-chopped veggies
  • Fruit
  • Hummus or other yummy dip
  • Yogurt
  • Salsa
  • Precooked meat if you eat it, or tuna pouches, this can save you a lot of money if you don’t want to eat out a bunch
  • Sushi

It’s rare these days that I travel and stay in a place without a kitchen. The way I eat is a part of my life and I don’t like to sacrifice my health on trips. Sure there are times when I’m on a short trip and a kitchen just isn’t possible. For the most part though I make it a point to be able to make my food as much as I can when I am away from home, especially if I am in a place with few options. This way of living is so integrated into my life it doesn’t feel weird or hard in the least.

Also, if you are staying some where with a good organic grocery store nearby, they usually have salad bars, hot and cold cases with foods that are healthy and easy to grab and go.

6. Make smart choices eating out.
Chances are you are going to eat out on your trip. Hopefully you have been able to find a place beforehand that you are looking forward to trying. If not, know that many restaurants in the States will be accommodating, especially if you call ahead and ask. If you are going to a work dinner where you didn’t get to pick the location, look for menu items that are baked, braised, raw, steamed or grilled. Ask for dressings or sauces on the side if you aren’t sure about their contents. One thing I like to do if the salad dressings look too rich is to ask for some lemon and olive oil. It’s never been a problem. Use those great manners you have and be super polite when asking the server to make adjustments, it always helps!

7. Take good care of yourself.
Self-care while traveling is very important. I know it’s exciting to visit new places and see friends and family. While I allow for plenty of leeway while on trips it’s still necessary for me to get plenty of rest, move my body and spend time checking in with myself. A while back I wrote a self-care while traveling post that has some great tips.

Clients often tell me they feel like they are supposed to indulge on vacations and they are afraid of missing out if they don’t. I usually suggest that they do indulge and see how it feels. The only way we’re going to know is if we do it. Eat the delicious handmade pastry, have the fancy cocktail, stay out all night dancing. There is nothing wrong with any of this! I don’t judge it at all. It is your trip and you can do whatever you want. My thing is just check in with yourself about it, try your best to stay present through it and by all means savor every second of it. There is nothing worse than eating a sweet and then shaming ourselves for it. That is honestly more of an issue than the sweet itself. And remember, just because we have a sweet it doesn’t mean we need to have one for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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There you have it! These are my tried and true healthy eating travel tips. Do you have a favorite? How do you take care of yourself on the road? I’d love to hear from you as I think this is a big topic for summer.

Wishing you all a gorgeous day.

xoa

lavender sauerkraut

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Last summer Jason and I bought one of the most delicious sauerkrauts I’ve ever tasted at the Hollywood Farmers Market. One of the main flavors of this kraut was lavender and I’ve wanted to recreate a version of it since that first bite. Finally the recipe is ready for you and I am thrilled to share it this afternoon.

I learned to make raw sauerkraut at a raw food workshop in Portland nearly four years ago. Our class made a huge bucket full and it was super fun pounding the cabbage into the bucket with the teacher’s baseball bat. Only in Portland right?! Oh that class was fun! I had been fermenting a few things at home and was excited to learn some great techniques that have given me amazing kraut every time since.

Foods have been fermented for ages as a way to enhance nutritional value and for preservation. Fermented foods, especially vegetables are wonderful for gut health by boosting the good bacteria in the GI tract. Maintaining a healthy gut is critical for longevity and these powerful probiotic foods can heal a host of health issues including IBS. Interestingly, our gut makes up about 70-80% of our immune system. Many people suffering from autoimmune disorders have reduced symptoms when they heal their gut and fermented foods are a big part of this.

The process that I was taught to make sauerkraut is called lacto-fermentation. The cabbage is sliced thin, layered with salt, immersed in brine, packed in a jar and left to ferment. The natural sugars in the cabbage are converted by bacteria (Lactobacillus is one of them) into lactic acid and this natural preservative makes certain unsafe bacteria cannot develop. Lactobacillus is the same strain of bacteria that you are probably familiar with already from other cultured products like yogurt.

Latco-fermentation has been used for centuries and is very safe. The general rule of cabbage kraut is once your kraut is to your taste you can simply store it in the fridge and it will keep for ages. If you live in a warm climate like I do it’s easy to make a delicious kraut in a few weeks. In cooler temperatures it can take longer, even months depending on the temperature. Ideal fermenting temperatures are 65-75 degrees. The minimum I would suggest for this small recipes is a week in warm weather to really get things developing but ultimately it is up to you. I say, when you like the taste of it, it’s done!

One note about mold. Scary, I know! The first time I made kraut it got a little moldy at the top, do not be alarmed if that happens to you. All you need to do is scrape off the mold and continue to let it ferment. Mold usually occurs when the cabbage isn’t fully immersed in the brine or it’s super hot out. Pack your cabbage tight, really tight, and you shouldn’t have that problem.

Here is the general rule I follow for salting my cabbage from Sandor Katz, he is my go-to for all things fermented.

“Sprinkle salt on the cabbage as you go. The salt pulls water out of the cabbage (through osmosis), and this creates the brine in which the cabbage can ferment and sour without rotting. The salt also has the effect of keeping the cabbage crunchy, by inhibiting organisms and enzymes that soften it. 3 tablespoons of salt is a rough guideline for 5 pounds of cabbage. I never measure the salt; I just shake some on after I chop up each cabbage. I use more salt in summer, less in winter.”

Sauerkraut can be flavored with any of your favorite herbs. Classic combinations are dill and caraway seeds. I’ve made it with seaweed in the past and that has been great. Experiment and have fun. Make your kraut unique. Also, as I mentioned earlier I leave mine to ferment in the cupboard as it saves counter space in the kitchen and keeps the smell in check ;) Oh and one last tip, do not store fresh cabbage in the fridge, it will dry it out. Trying to get a good brine going with dry cabbage is so much work. Just leave your cabbage on the counter until you’re ready to use it.

 

Lavender Sauerkraut

makes about 3 cups packed

 

Ingredients //

  • 1 large head of cabbage (about 2.5 lbs)
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. Kosher salt (I used 2 Tbsp.)
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 2 tsp. dried lavender flowers

Equipment //

  • 2 mixing bowls, one large and one small
  • 1 quart size wide mouth mason jar
  • 1 small jar that can fit inside the mason jar
  • Weights for the small jar (marbles, rocks, whatever can fit inside and weigh it down)
  • Rubber band or twine
  • Large dish cloth

Method //

  1. Clean your bowls and jars well.
  2. Remove the outer layers of the cabbage and set aside. Slice the rest of the cabbage very thin. I use a mandoline to make things easy.
  3. Put sliced cabbage in the large mixing bowl and put the salt on top. Massage the salt into the cabbage with your hands for 7-10 minutes. You want the cabbage to start releasing water. It might not seem like it will but just keep going, eventually the cabbage will soften and water will collect in the bowl.
  4. Mix in the dried herbs.
  5. Pack the cabbage into the jar by the handful. Be sure to press each handful down very well. This is key as the cabbage needs to be completely submerged in the brine and you want to get all of the air bubbles out to prevent it spoiling.
  6. If the cabbage is releasing a lot of liquid as you do this just gently pour it out.
  7. When you are finished packing the cabbage fold the full cabbage leaves and place them on top. Place the jar in the small mixing bowl.
  8. Weigh the cabbage down with the smaller jar and place your weights in the smaller jar. Press down well to make sure the cabbage stays in the liquid. Secure the little jar to the big jar with your rubber band or twine. Cover with the cloth. Leave to ferment.
  9. Taste after a week and see how you like it. Continue to ferment until it tastes good to you.
  10. When it’s done remove the little jar and cabbage leaves. Clean the rim of the jar if necessary and cover with a lid. Store in the fridge.
  11. It will keep for months in the fridge. You will know it’s bad when it smells off.
  12. Enjoy!

 

One of my favorite snacks is half a ripe avocado loaded with homemade kraut. Trust me, there isn’t anything quite like it. I use kraut in my salads, bowls, on rice cakes with hummus…there are so many great ways to eat it. Experiment with different types of cabbage and veggies too. I love a beet/cabbage sauerkraut – yum!

Happy fermenting!

xoa

relationship realness: baby talk part II

carolinemyss

Since posting a couple of weeks ago about not being sure I want to have a baby, my feelings have started to shift. Taking a risk by being so vulnerable here about that was huge for me. The amount of support that came through via comments and emails was incredible. I know for sure now that I am not alone in this and that this is a safe space to get real about my concerns and fears. Thank you for continuing to encourage and love me as I embark on this path of discovery.

A few major shifts have transpired. I had another amazing conversation with my Mom. She shared things with me I never knew before and shed some light on her experiences deciding to have children. My Mom knows a great deal about my life and fears around this topic but this was something new that we discussed together about her. It was one of the most healing conversations we have ever had. Connecting with her in this way was life affirming and heart opening. I saw more of her and myself and that was unbelievably transformative.

I started working with my life coach again. We worked together for a long while and it’s been about a year since our last session. It was great to be able to pick right up and get down to business. My coach has this way of cutting through the fog and getting right to the heart of the matter. I did a few writing assignments that were so helpful and went over all of it with him. I discovered during our session that many of my fears just didn’t hold up in the light of what could potentially be one of the most significant relationships of my life, the relationship between mother and child.

I have also spoken to half a dozen mothers, two doulas and one of my spiritual teachers about this. As you can tell I am not taking this lightly, but I’m not being fanatic about it either. Ultimately the answers come from within, they always do. Asking questions and discussing this with people I trust has been huge for me. I have learned a great deal from them and I am getting more in touch with what I want.

One of the most profound conversations I have had during this time was with a dear friend that reminded me I didn’t need to have it all figured out beforehand. Meaning, I don’t need to be 100% healed before considering if I want to have a child. One of my biggest fears around all of this is that I have past trauma that can never be healed and I don’t want to pass them on to anyone else. She shared with me (and this was confirmed by every Mother I spoke to) that having children is a big part of how we heal that trauma. My eyes welled up with tears as she said that. I am sure I had even read that in one of my prenatal yoga books but I really heard it from her. I am open and ready.

Today I am sitting with that openness. I don’t have to have it all figured out right now. I do know for sure that I don’t want my past experiences and fear to determine how I make decisions today, especially a major decision like this. One of my teachers gave me a new exercise. She suggested that I spend a few days in the “yes I want a child” camp. Try it on for size. Meditate on it. Breathe it in as much as I can. Try to connect with what it could be like. She also suggested that I spend a few days in the “no, I don’t want a child” camp and see what that feels like. I am going to play around with that over the next couple of weeks and let you know how it goes. I am actually looking forward to it ;)

So here we are. I haven’t made a decision but I am working towards that at a pace that feels right. I have been able to let go of so much grief and shame over these last weeks through talking about all of this and being willing to get honest about it. The power of sharing honestly never ceases to amaze me. I had been holding all of this baby talk inside for so long, feeling isolated and weird about it. Since opening up to all of you there is more lightness in this area. I am letting go and I know if I continue to show up and stay present, the answers will come.

 

Thank you all again for reaching out and staying connected. It means the world to me. I look forward to hearing from you.

 

xoa