What to plant this spring? Here are some MUST haves for the budding Herbalist.

 

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An old herb garden looking alive and potent.

 

When I first started learning about herbal medicine, I had NO idea about how much medicine we have at our fingertips. I also had no idea how medicinal our food could be if we ate things that weren’t necessarily found on our grocers shelves. Trying to incorporate a little bit of herbalism into your every day, or even better – into your kitchen, helps your body to stay healed and grow stronger as you age. Eventually, your body will be chock full of vitamins, minerals and virus fighting medicines without much effort at all.

Of course, not all plant types are going to be found or thrive in every environment SO take some time to get to know these easy growing fellows below. If you find them to be easy to care for, spread your wings and try growing your own at home.

It’s only February BUT looking forward to spring and looking into my seed stores gets me excited to start planting and reaping the benefits of home-grown medicine. I look forward to adding nettles to my ferments, drying herbs in my dehydrator and making skin salves to pass out to my friends and family. I certainly miss all of the classes and students I had in Vancouver, I might have time to squeeze some teaching in again this spring in Calgary.

As always, when using any type of medication, make sure that you consult with your GP and do your research before ingesting unconsciously. Your body deserves a little curious research before undertaking a new regime.

 

Aloe Vera

You can purchase this plant at nearly every home garden supply store. Even Home Depot. Because you aren’t going to be ingesting this plant I feel that you are ok to be a little less questioning of it’s origin.

Why do you want to keep Aloe Vera around? Simply, there are so many topical benefits that there isn’t a reason NOT to. Snap a sample of a well-grown leaf off and you are on your way to healing cuts, wounds, burns, eczema and inflammation.

Marsh Mallow

You can find seeds or starters for this plant at select growers. I order my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds or Vesey’s. These are pretty hardy plants – but watch out for wet feet!

There are a number of great uses for marshmallow both inside and out. You can take the root internally to help treat inflammation and UT irritations, gastritis or peptic ulcers. Topically, you can use a poultice, salve or cream to treat bruises, sprains, muscle aches, insect bites, slivers or skin inflammation.

Fun food fact: The leaves of the marshmallow plant are edible! Add to salads, boil or fry.

Pot Marigold

These hardy ladies will grown in almost any soil condition. Use a tea consisting of marigold petals to increase circulation and ease varicose viens. A poultice of marigold stems will aid in removing corns and warts.

Camomile

You probably know this as a great fruity tea! Camomile works well in aiding digestive issues and also has a soothing effect in its aroma. This helps reduce stress and induce sleep.

Echinacea

 If you’re living without it, you probably shouldn’t be. This beautiful flower has amazing antibiotic properties that relieve allergies and help prevent viral and bacterial infections. The roots, beneficial in treating sores, wounds and burns when applied as a poultice, salve or cream. She grows well in well-drained soil with a lot of sunlight.

Lemon Balm

By far, the easiest herb I have ever unintentionally grown. The leaves give off a lovely lemony mint scent that cannot be mistaken. Crushed leaves used as a poultice help relieve pain from herpes, sores, gout and bug bites. The leaves infused with hot water can treat colds, fevers, indigestion, depression, headaches and insomnia.

I grew this herb for years in the wet wet wetness that is Vancouver BC!

Peppermint

Nearly another weed, as easy to grown and impossible to kill as Lemon Balm. peppermint is high in manganese, vitamin A and vitamin C. Leaves ground into a salve or cream help to sooth and relax muscles.

Sage

Another herb that is nearly impossible to kill is Sage. When consumed it can help to ease indigestion, flatulence, anxiety and excessive sweating.

 

Here’s to spring, and happy plantings. Stay tuned for my inevitable posts containing the trials and tribulations of trying to sustain plant life in the Rocky Mountains.

 

Sasha

 

 

 

Beat the winter blues before they get to you – lets move!

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Every fall, without fail, a slow trickle of sadness comes over me. At first, it’s a tiny leak only the keenest ear could hear. When ignored, sad evolves into a tornado. A formidable monster of frustration, resentment and loathing for pretty much nothing in particular.

Sound familiar? Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. However much like the winter blues, stress, inactivity and the busyness of life can take over who you REALLY need to be and before you know it, you’re someone barely recognizable in the mirror.

While we all need to learn to love ourselves for who we are, there is no excuse for neglecting our basic human needs when the weather turns or, as in the case of so many of us Canadians, when the good weather never quite arrived!

Whether it be the deep bags, new wrinkles or extra 10 pounds, the sure-fire way to get a great sleep, have wonderful relationships and keep a smile on your face this winter is by incorporating movement, nutrition and self care into every day. These are the basic fundamentals of “Food Medicine Life”.

Medicine

There are a TONNE of activities that are perfect for this time of year if you are NOT a gym junkie:

– hiking
– biking
– jogging
– canoeing
– rollerblading
– soccer
– racquetball, tennis, badminton

Now, you’re going to say “but these take up so much TIME”. Well, yes, they do but then so do countless episodes of “Netflix and chill”.

If you are ready to bite the bullet but are time conscious, go with an equipment free HIIT workout. You can find them on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and plain old Google. High intensity, low investment, amazing results.

You can also try a 30 minute circuit at your gym in the weight training section or join a fun new spin, surf or rowing class. Group fitness is a great way to stay amped and bring some friends along for the high intensity fun.

Food

Once you’re done burning off the stress, make sure to replenish your mind and body with some great snacks such as bananas, blueberries, lentils or beans.  Protein isn’t everything guys, but it is important to your diet and building muscle.

If you’re looking for cruelty-free protein options that don’t support industrialized farming…try this link:

http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/top-10-vegetarian-sources-of-protein

Water is essential for flushing toxins and fat as well as keeping us hydrated and radiant – drink a minimum of 8 large glasses per day. Start each morning with a warm glass of lemon water before all else.

Sugar cravings getting you down? Try some seasonally fabulous fall treats to keep around the house for you or your family, try this quick easy Vegan Pumpkin Ginger cookie recipe that tastes lovely with or without sugar….but we all need a treat every now and then, it’s all about balance!

CLICK HERE TO LINK TO RECIPE. 

If you’re still suffering from stress related issues, it’s time to try on a bit of herbalism to treat your symptoms.

My top picks are:

  • Chamomile
  • Ashwaganda
  • Passionflower
  • Magnesium
  • Green/Black tea
  • Lavendar
  • Kava

These herbs can be taken in a capsule, pressed pill, tea, essential oil (aromatherapy)or tincture. The easiest to get ahold of being Magnesium which can be taken each night before bed. All of these natural anti-anxiety herbs will aid you in your stress reduction efforts as part of your daily health ritual.

Life

Quick fix junkie? Look no further. Just 5 minutes of meditation each day can restore and invigorate your spirit. If you’re a beginner the easiest time to get this done is upon rising or just before bed.

Set your alarm clock or phone timer for 5-7 minutes.

Next, sit cross legged, in a chair or upright in bed ~ lying down is also an option~ with your hands in a relaxed place in your lap. Get all of your fidgeting out by gently squeezing together all your muscles from head to toe for a couple of seconds, then releasing. Once you have done this a couple of times, you are ready to begin.

You can start to increase the length of your inhales and exhales by counting 1-2-3 as you complete both. You can even add a “Mississippi” in between if you are into a challenge. Fill up your lungs and let your belly expand on the inhale, squeeze all the air out that you can on the exhale.

If your mind tends to wander, that’s ok! It happens to the best of us. Sometimes it can help to picture a soft glowing light in your minds eye that expands and contracts with each inhale and exhale. Just return to your breath/glowing light each time you start to panic about the day that lays ahead.

When your alarm goes off, gently allow yourself to return to the moment and start/end your day.

Give yourself the treatment your mind and body crave. Yes, you do have time. Work can wait, the kids can wait. Start devoting just 15 minutes a day to yourself. Your world will change, promise.

Continue reading “Beat the winter blues before they get to you – lets move!”

To flake…or not to flake

Frosted flakes….nuff said.

 

Here I sit crafting this particular post because lately the theme around the wellness industry has been FLAKES. Loads of ’em. Making alliances and bailing at the last moment, looking to get something for nothing, failing to understand business relationships…the list goes on and on.

In being a part of so many of these {negative} experiences I realize that being direct may be difficult and I know that I’ve definitely been judged for it however, it’s all in the delivery – so make your decisions count and always make them from the heart.

“There are no regrets born of telling the truth – truthfully.” – Mark these words. 

I would like to share with you all some thoughts on when and how to flake (or not to flake), and what said flaking may be interpreted as by those who are the beflaken.

I also tend to make up my own words as they suit me……kind of like those people who say things like: Nucular, irregardless, expresso, expecially,excetera.

#1 – If you’re not feeling it – don’t do it. Don’t kid yourself, take one for the team or whatever you want to call it. Go with your gut, feel your feelings, be real. Letting people down is so much worse because then you know you’ve doubted yourself, leading to MEGA second guessing in the future which then leads to an emotional = Ugh. Don’t agree to meet someone for a coffee when you know you’re going to bail later. This usually leads to making up a lie or just NOT showing up. Not cool. Pull up your big girl/boy panties and decline gracefully from the start.

#2 – If you have questions – ask em. Just like your teachers (hopefully) taught you, there are NO STUPID QUESTIONS. If you are getting into something you’re unsure of, clarify it. Don’t join a movement, a fitness class or a congo line without knowing that you’re into it at least 100% of the way.

#3 – If you’re only in it for the money – get ready for some let downs. I don’t know how many times I get asked – “so how do I get paid?” or “what’s my share?” when talking about new business co-ventures like retreats or special events. I get it, we all like to make money. You need it for things like food, shelter, entertainment and other necessities. But if the first thought in your head on any collaboration is “when do I get mine?” you may be in for some rude awakenings. Money isn’t everything – there are experiences in life that may cost YOU physically, emotionally or financially…but in the end, you’re better {AND RICHER} for it.

#4 – If you are working in the health industry (or looking for a mentor who is)- be sure you (they) practice what you preach. Nearly every one of the health, wellness and fitness elitists I meet can’t keep up with their own labels let alone be a “guru” to people who are looking for a leader. A leader should be a shining example of a well rounded and functional person (faults and all). How can you truly provide knowledge, understanding and empowerment to others when you don’t empower yourself with those same things? Be aware. There is nothing more false than a person who stands on a soapbox professing to be the next best thing since sliced Ezekiel bread by day,  who secretly hates themselves in masked Facebook/Twitter posts by night.

Be true to you. Warts and all. It is more motivational for the world to see you as a real whole person than someone who is trying to be the next Ghandi and failing miserably. Be a leader, be a living being with feelings, failures and fears.

Summarizing, if you are about to get involved in a life journey that doesn’t feel right. Stop and ask yourself a few questions before giving the big thumbs up and flaking later. The last thing anyone (including you) needs to question is your own integrity, truth and self-awareness.

Harness your power to be real, and leave the flakes to the nasty breakfast cereals of the 80’s.

NAMASTE!

Becoming Little Miss Bikini – Season 2 Episode 3

This episode will be the first that will contain a video…so it’s a “vlog” technically then, right?

Rolled out into week 9 feeling pretty crappy because I managed to catch a wicked flu on my trip home to Vancouver ~ which was a total and utter success by the way!

So what’s new at this point in my prep you’re wondering? Well, take a minute to enjoy this link to my latest video documenting my progress.

I’ve themed this blogpost “Change”.

xx- S

 

 

Becoming Little Miss Bikini – Season 2, Episode 2 – Stay Inspired

 

10 weeks out & feeling firm, fit and rested.

 

As everyone is aware, this season I’ve decided to go all out. In more ways than one. I’m doing at least 5 shows this year which will be demanding and probably drive me right nuts…I’m also working on a new fitness product which will have me traveling and attending seminars for R&D, we have had to fire up a new Engineering Services company to survive the oil downturn, our traveling budget has been sliced next to nil so I will be looking to run teaching vacations to get us out of town whenever I can AND I’ve applied for a grant for a 12 month mentorship program to re-energize my training business by attempting to infuse this new fitness product into it.

Oh ya, did I mention I’m running my second 90 day transformation in 6 months and we have a couple of inventions on the back burner that we need to find time to look at feasibility studies for? Am I/are we nuts? Yes. Do we have heaps of time? No. Am I still going to give it 110% while I still have 110% to give? There’s only one answer.

This week will be 10 weeks out until my first show. I’ve managed to make a few surprising back gains and am feeling really great. 4 weeks off bulking mode and I’m still not tired or hungry or too irritable.

Fasted cardio in the morning starts this  week, also adding more exercise in to blow up my shoulder area…cardio PM and I’ve changed up my ab routine because I’d really like to bring in a bit more defined musculature for Spring/Fall ’16.

Practicing Flexing

I’ve decided on a suit colour for this year – and I’m keeping lucky green as a back up for sure! Can you guess which one I’ve chosen? I’ve also decided on a jewel pattern that I think will look stunning….going to try out some new connectors as well.

 

 

I think my choice is going to look so HOT. 

 

All this and I’m still trying to stay in the kitchen and develop new and interesting recipes for my lifestyle, clients and the kids I teach a nutrition series for at Earl Grey School in Calgary monthly.  This month we completed our sugar unit, last month was Salt, next month is Eating in Season ~ kids are pretty inspiring.

This go around is going to take a lot of inspiration. A lot of digging deep and more mental preparedness than the last. Holding fast while the storm beats you down….yep, I’m ready for it.

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Anastacia & I working out a new recipe for sugar free vegan cookies – it bombed, 3 times. Master baker I am not.

I am excited for Spring Break as well as we have managed to (on points and searching for deals for weeks) find a cheap as hell family vacation to Cancun for 10 days at a hotel with a full gym AND kids club. It seems like while the Oil Gods are raining down hellfire and damnation the Adventure Gods are showering us with the gift of travel once again. Something I couldn’t live without and will never give up. Be sure to stay close to see how I made out during the trip ~ my coach will be altering my plan for the equipment I have access to.

I suppose I feel like this time around I really have a burning sense to remember that you only live once and there are so many excuses you can make for not leaving the house or getting out of your pajamas, but there is a giant world to see and so many positive changes to make that I can’t see how folks waste theirs in front of a TV or not doing anything.

My point here being, if you’re considering doing something that you feel is drastic, that you have no time for and are just all out overwhelmed – do it any way. There are enough hours in the day.

Replace the mantra “I don’t have time” with “I haven’t made that a priority in my life” and see how motivated you feel.

Today is rest day and I am going to go for a beautiful hike in the mountains with my family, feed your soul and you’ll find all the time you need for everything you truly need in your life.

 

xxoo

S

 

Vegan {high protein} quesadillas 

Ingredients: 

2 pieces Ezekiel Wraps

1/4 cup sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup sliced green pepper

1/8 cup daiya shredded mozzarella

1/4 cup yves ground round

1/4 cup black beans (or my RECIPE for mixed beans which was yum)

1 tbsp pico de gallo

Method: 

Heat up large pan to medium heat (if you have some kind of sandwich press machine this will simplify things a lot).

Place one wrap down, add all ingredients except salsa, top with another wrap.

Cook on one side until hardened and browned then flip and do the same for the other side.

Cut with pizza cutter, top with  pico de gallo.

Extra topping suggestions: Cilantro, sour cream (soy pictured),

 

Nutritional information: 

Nutrition Facts
Servings 3.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 158
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4 g 6 %
Saturated Fat 1 g 4 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
Sodium 330 mg 14 %
Potassium 222 mg 6 %
Total Carbohydrate 22 g 7 %
Dietary Fiber 5 g 21 %
Sugars 1 g
Protein 8 g 17 %
Vitamin A 2 %
Vitamin C 20 %
Calcium 5 %
Iron 15 %

Becoming Little Miss Bikini – Episode 9 – Peak Week

I’ve finally made peace with this whole thing I’ve decided…sitting here covered in haemorrhoid ointment, festooned in my luxurious Jacques Cousteau leggings, clutching my morning coffee mug like a life raft.

Peak week is upon me and I’ve thrown out all my preconceived notions about anything I thought I knew.

Salt baths, more cardio, less cardio, more weights – but less, this supplement, that herb….I’m just following orders at this point.

It has been significantly harder to drag my ass out of bed the last two days. I’m pretty much a morning person so it isn’t that I am completely unable to open my eyes or function, it’s that my body has finally reached the point where it no longer takes its prime directives from my brain. This results in me finding it emphatically challenging to roll over in bed to actually get up, lift up my feet, peel off my Jacques Cousteaus for a pee (or seven) in the night etc etc…

My body has become especially au courant of any minor shifts in my diet plan. I’ve significantly increased my asparagus intake and I think this is making me more effervescent than usual….could be that I’ve dropped Tofu and increased Tempeh? I’ll have to pay particular attention to the feeling and timing today.

Soon, as in tomorrow (5 sleeps out), I’ll be obliged to drop all powders from my regime, eventually kissing even vitamins goodbye and slowly abdicating from my daily 6 litre water guzzling tournament.

As luck, or timing, would have it, my workouts will begin to taper off starting tomorrow. After this brief but vexatious weekend of increased fasted cardio for which I am not grateful – sorry coach.

I’d like to note here that I have been instructed to avoid casting my gaze on other competitors who will be guzzling red wine (presumably to appear more vascular) and eating copious amounts of decadent chocolate (in an effort to punch my feelings in the face) while I am back stage in all probability sucking on a shoestring and sniffing the food essence of a piece of tofu.

Ok, I’m being extreme here BUT my prescription for backstage nutrition management is far less alcohol and sugarific.

My nail girl went MIA and my new suit is currently in parts unknown….also known as the great void of the Canada Post system. I don’t have the stress muscle available to me to feel worried about it.

I’ve procured myself a set of the latest 2015 version of “Lee Press On Nails” and hope that this will suffice. If they knock off points for my fingernails…I’ll have to show them a title-holding finger or two in my possession.

I’ve managed to survive two nights of Epsom salt baths in our 3rd and very forlorn bathroom in the basement. I call it the cat pee bathroom because it’s a full (and updated/decent) three piece however, I’ve employed the bathtub as the bowels for the cat box for at least a year.

It was an absolute delight to expurgate all of the bits of excrement and kitty litter from. There is a covered cat box in the tub, I’m not a total dreggy bastard, but the damn cat misses from time-to-time ok? Sheesh, get off myback.

I then made an uneducated choice and got my hands on some scented epsom salts – never do this – which made the whole house, myself included, retain the malodorous stench of Mr. Clean married with old women. Needless to say I went to bed feeling a little sickened.

I’m craving fats violently. All of the deprivation and timing of foods has really illustrated cravings clearly for me. I was quite the dullard when it came to those things before.

All of this stuff is going on while we have 2 dogs, a cat, an 8 year old, work, a complete house renovation, a Mexican vacation and a visit from my folks on our docket. I’ve also been petitioned to instruct a  monthly health class at our daughter Anastacia’s school which I need to prepare for and oh yes, I’ve volunteered to rent out a friends home and need to deal with a move-in inspection for this next week as well.

Fornicate my life.

There is really no more to update on – not much in particular unless you have questions of me – if so please ask. I’m about as open a person as you will ever hope to meet!

Here’s a confession: I had to ask Jeff to hide the peanut butter while I locked myself away in the bathroom with the fan whirring so that I wouldn’t attempt to consume all of it in a fit of starved lunacy.

There are at least 2 more posts coming that will close off and tie this story all together by mid-November. I’m  looking forward intensely to cooking again and ushering some easy, fun and relatively adventurous recipes back into my home and yours.

Creamy Vegan Cashew Dressing

 

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Sauces make the greatest accompaniment for salads, sandwiches, toppings, marinades, dips and drizzles. Once you have a good couple of ingredients you know how to work with (how to correct, increase and decrease a basic flavouring) you’re ready to get cracking on some adventurous numbers.

This recipe, is a great starter sauce you can build from this with spices and other interesting oils and flavours once you are comfortable.

Ingredients: 

1/2 cup grapeseed oil

1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp (or more) water – to thin out

1/3 cup cashews

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp miso

2 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp himalayan salt

cracked black pepper to taste

 

Method: 

 

Mix all ingredients with a hand blender until you reach your desired consistency. Add water as needed to thin out dressing.

Will keep refrigerated for 5 days.