Today I am excited to introduce you to artist/mama/homeschooler Sara Evans. Sara takes a true DIY approach to her movement practice and reminds us about the importance of play when it comes to exercise. Welcome Sara!

How did you first come to your movement practice?

I’ve been a member at one gym or another since my first baby, about 12 years ago. I had easy access to one, working in a Ford facility, and was able to find time to use it several hours a day. I think it’s really important to discuss finding time to fit in movement while being a full-time parent. It’s easier said than done to make it a priority – and I think that’s okay. I wouldn’t want to feel bullied into carving out the time, either. One day you decide you can make it work, and you do – but there’s no sense in feeling guilty when you can’t. I think being a new mother is *enough*. I look back on those years fondly now. I don’t like the implication by some fitness memes out there that being a mom with young kids is an excuse. After baby #2 I found it hard to move with purpose, because I was distracted by more important work. For a few years my baby wouldn’t leave my side, and I was fine with that – they’re only young once. When she was old enough to be in the gym daycare, I would go and do the motions, but not feel I was getting anywhere. Now and then I would make a friend there and we would push one another and really see progress, at which point I realized that I am a very socially-motivated person. I looked into doing a class, something I hadn’t tried in a long time since doing boring step aerobics at a community center. Classes at the gyms were so much better! The instructors were better trained, and the types offered had evolved. I chose a cardio kickboxing class and immediately knew it’s what I had been missing in my movement needs. I like being surrounded by the energy of others and getting explicit instruction which pushed me farther than I would be able to push myself.
The other important thing I feel I should note is nutrition. I have always aimed for high quality organics in my diet, but was still suffering from fatigue and other symptoms that were holding me back in my exercise – so much so that I hit a plateau and took a break from classes for a few months. In the interim, I took up hoopdancing, wallyball, and still used the gym as I had before. After some trial and error I decided to eliminate gluten. I had immediate positive results and got back to more serious training again. To be clear – I’m not advocating a gluten-free or any other diet. I’ve learned that nutritional needs are a very personal thing, directly related to movement abilities, and need to be re-examined often as my movement goals evolve.

How long have you been practicing?

I took the gluten out in September 2012 – at which time I started working with a personal trainer, and then went back to my training classes. The instructor also began offering a park meet-up where we use a hill and playground equipment to train on. In addition, this year I started playing wallyball twice per week, instead of only twice per month. It’s now one of my favorite games to play and is a great workout as well as social outlet.

How do you integrate practice into everyday living?

Once I had been pushed extrinsically for a while, I was able to find the intrinsic push I needed to see the option to move in the everyday things I do. I still enjoy hoopdancing, which I have made room for indoors, to get me through this hard winter when getting to the gym proves difficult. Most importantly I try to look for movement opportunities everywhere I go now – bonus points for ways that involve the kids. We like doing stretches and yoga together at night, for instance.

I especially enjoy encouraging my kids to challenge me at the playground. Setting fun goals are important to me – the most enjoyable milestones are the ones that make me feel flexible and youthful. Last spring I wanted to do a few things that I remember being capable of doing as a kid: a back walk-over and hanging upside-down flips on the jungle gym bars. By summer, from combining strength training and playing with the kids at the parks, I had mastered both! The kids were happy to have me fully engaged in play, as well. Embracing things like taking them sledding, going for a bike ride and purposely hitting some hills, and swimming a few laps when we go to a pool or beach all add up to a significant amount of movement. Basically, if I want to move like I’m young I have to mimic the kids – do they sit still in the water? No, they splash like maniacs! Do they take their time getting back to the top of the sledding hill? No, they get there as fast as possible to go down again. Do they stick to the swings at the park? No way – they climb as high and fast over and over.

I like to involve the kids as much as possible, to be away from them less. Sometimes we’ll all go to a tennis court and the little one will fetch the balls for me and my oldest. Camping and nature hikes also tend to provide lots of opportunities for movement that involve my kids, and going out of my way on a path or taking a steeper incline at a swift pace are little things that add up. Seizing opportunities and using childlike movements are what I aim for. Using simple bursts of energy in my movements the way kids tend to do – running up the stairs, sprinting instead of jogging, learning a new skill like in hoopdancing – has gotten me farther than my previous boring gym routine ever could.

How has your practice affected you physically, emotionally, spiritually?

My favorite part about the evolution of my “workouts” has been the epiphany I’ve had about what it means to be successful in fitness. The number on the scale or on pants is usually the deciding factor for people, especially women. I feel like I’ve come to a place where the things my body is capable of doing is more important than it’s size or shape. The number on the scale probably hasn’t budged much since September 2012, but the fitness levels I’ve achieved have become something I can be really proud of. In September of this year I will run the Tough Mudder – which will involve increasing my training and being gone for a weekend. This isn’t something I would be able to do with younger kids, but now that mine are more independent I am able to focus myself emotionally in a positive way, without the guilt of time away from them holding me back. Plus, the more interest I show in fitness, the more my kids do as well. Sometimes I take the kids to class with me – at the park they can participate. Recently I took the youngest to a really intense class where (for safety reasons) she could only watch. She wanted so badly to join, and said more than once “This looks so fun!” – and it’s spiritually uplifting to know I am at a point where I completely understand why she would say that.

Sara Evans (along with husband Brian) is raising two girls, born ’01 & ’06. Her passions – in addition to playing like a kid! – include homeschooling her girls, natural living, and creating meaningful, functional crafts. She is founder of a secular Macomb County homeschool cooperative and owner of Etsy shop SunRaye Designs.

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Today I am pleased to welcome my guest Amanda Wolski, a teacher/marathon runner/blogger who also happens to be my sister-in-law! Amanda tells us about how she surprised herself by becoming a runner and how this practice has enhanced her life in many ways. Welcome Amanda!

How did you first come to your movement practice?

It’s kind of a funny story, actually. Believe it or not, I used to hate running! I couldn’t run around the block without being winded and crabby.

After I got married in 2002 I got a gym membership and was using the elliptical. Then I started going to a Boot Camp class in gosh, maybe 2004? Part of class involved running and as much as I complained about it, my competitive nature kicked in. Before I knew it I was at the front of the pack! My instructor started to tell me that I was a natural. It took me a while but then I started to believe her.

It wasn’t until I ran my first race – Run Wild for the Zoo 10K in 2007 – that I thought maybe I AM good at this. Maybe this is my thing. It still took me a while to really feel like a runner but that first race was a huge milestone for me.

How long have you been practicing?
I mark that first race as my anniversary. So 6 and a half years.

How do you integrate practice into everyday living?

I run everyday. A rest day for me is still 3 miles at an easy pace. LOL! I prefer to run in the morning. For me it’s the best way to start my day. I enjoy the time to think without all the noise on the streets. Unfortunately that means getting out the door before 5am some days if I have a long run. But missing a run isn’t an option. It’s a part of my life.

How has your practice affected you physically, emotionally, spiritually?

Running has had an enormous impact on my life in so many ways. I have gained so much strength, both physically and mentally. My legs and lungs have gotten stronger as I’ve increased my distances and picked up my pace. I’ve been able to do things in races I never imagined my body was possible of doing. So much of it is mental stamina and focus, as well. One of my inspirations is vegan ultrarunner, Scott Jurek, who says, “Sometimes you just do things.” So sometimes you just go out and run 20 miles because that’s what you have to do.
Running is my stress relief, meditation, and quiet “me time.” I work out a lot of problems while I run. I used to always run with music but for safety reasons, I’ve gotten used to doing long runs without headphones. There’s something peaceful about the solace of being with your own thoughts.
One of the greatest things about running is the friendships I’ve built with other runners. It’s a fantastic community and people really support each other at races and through training. There’s nothing like a good run with a friend!

What has been your most proud moment as a runner?

My most proud moment was qualifying for the Boston Marathon, which I did with my first marathon. Crossing that finish line, knowing I not only finished my first marathon but that I also qualified for Boston, was an amazing feeling. After I run Boston on April 21st, THAT will probably be my proudest moment!

I love the playlists (that you listen to during races) that you post on your blog. How do you choose which songs to include? What makes a good running song?

Thanks! I have so much fun making them! The first thing I do is think about the specific race. If it has a theme I start there. For example, when I did Mustache Dache I chose all songs whose front men were sporting mustaches at the time of recording. If there’s no theme I look at new music that I’ve gotten recently and find song that have a good driving beat. To me that’s what makes a good running song – the beat.

Then I think about the course and try to strategically place the songs in an order that will help me push through tough spots – hills, boring areas, the end when I need to really push the pace.

For the half or full marathons, I like to throw in at least one fun song per playlist. Something to make me laugh, like old-school Will Smith or something by Weird Al. Why not have fun with it? I usually round it out with a couple tried and true favorites that show up on several playlists.

What advice or suggestions would you give to someone who would like to start running about how to get started?

Everyone is starting from a different place, so don’t get overwhelmed if it’s hard at first. Definitely a run/walk approach is the way to go. Maybe you start with a block of running and then walk for two blocks. Maybe it’s a half a mile. Start with what you can and build up. Just get out there and try it.
I would definitely recommend finding a partner to run with. Friends help encourage you, hold you accountable, and help push you when you’re afraid to go the extra mile. If you can find a Couch to 5K group that meets in person and runs together, that would be a great way to go, too! The more support the better!

And for anyone who thinks they can’t do it, I like to tell my story about how I didn’t like running! Look at me now!

When Amanda isn’t running she teaches 2nd grade. She’s been a vegan for 6 years and started her blog Vegan Road Runner in 2010.

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Today I am pleased to feature jewelry designer Heather Hall, who will tell us about the joy of rediscovering movement through physical therapy. Thank you, Heather, for taking the time to share your experience!


I have wanted for a long time to be physically fit and stronger, but due to mental illness, I didn’t find the needed motivation to do anything about it until I started experiencing little injuries that come from being sedentary, lacking the strength in supporting structures to prevent injuries from simple tasks. For example, I injured my knee by scrubbing a shower at a funny angle for a half hour. I started my active journey in physical therapy. Initially I did not get the guidance to really strengthen my whole body and learn how to use my body properly, but then I hurt my ankle stepping wrongly off a log on a hike in the forest. The therapist I worked with recognized right away that I had no core strength. Through beginning a core strengthening regimen, I was taught how to stand properly. It seems so simple until you actually are taught how to do it and then recognize how much stronger you feel just by working with your body the way it is designed. From there I have worked on a few other areas and just recently learned that the next missing key piece is that I don’t even breathe correctly and it is having a significant impact on my back. I have such a lack of strength in my core and my back has been suffering terribly for a long time because of it. It is so empowering to know why and to know that I can remedy this pain just by learning how to breathe and therefore get so much more out of my exercising! I have been working somewhat sporadically for the last 3 years, but in a more concentrated fashion for the last year. It is still very difficult to maintain due to my mental health patterns, however I keep trying to find ways to support myself. I find that going to the gym is the best way for me to have a routine in terms of strength training, but I also take every opportunity to put the body awareness into every moment and that in itself is really isometric practice, and I count that in order to give me motivation to continue trying to change habits and my attitude about my body. I do wish my gym facilitated a buddy system, given that I live rurally and it’s a 20 mile round trip to go to the gym. That does present a bit of a motivational challenge. I have lost over 20 pounds and I feel so much better about myself. I feel stronger both physically and emotionally. I find that on the days I do strength training I have much more energy and I have a huge improvement in mood, even when I am already starting with what I consider a ‘good’ mood. I feel proud of myself and much more in tune with my body. I understand myself more in the physical sense and with that knowledge I feel more grounded and whole. What a wonderful gift!

You can find Heather’s jewelry designs at The Stage Nature Center in Troy, Michigan.

Today we will hear from Deb Navin about giving a popular form of exercise a second chance . Welcome Deb, thanks for taking the time to share your practice!

How did you first come to your movement practice?

I had heard about Jazzercise from my late cousin who was very involved in the 1990’s. I was first invited to try it here in 2013 by a fellow parent at my daughter’s school. I tried it for a month and thought it was just ok. Some of the routines were lame and simple and the smiles on the instructors faces were annoying. I resolved to work out at home. But slowly I discovered that this was not a reasonable goal. Bike riding was being limited by the pace of my then 6 year old, at home work outs were sabotaged by my three young ones and I was always too tired to work out by the time the three of them were in bed. So when a really good deal came along in December 2013 I decided to give Jazzercise a true test, a year of membership.

How long have you been practicing?

I just started mid-December 2013 so only about 2.5 months.

How do you integrate practice into everyday living?

They have 57 classes a week with childcare at many of them. The childcare part was key, it is a fun activity for my kids to do so we all get something out of it. I have even planned playdates in the Jazzercise childcare room for my kids while I work out with a friend’s mom.

How has your practice affected you physically, emotionally, spiritually?

The reason I sought out a way to consistently exercise is because my cholesterol was alarmingly high for someone who eats a 90% plant-based diet. A year later, with the same diet and the only difference being regular exercise I went from 163 to 126. As an added bonus, I have more energy and feel like I am not as tired at the end of a work day (my 8th music class is getting a much happier teacher). I think exercise has had a positive influence on my emotional state through this rough winter and best of all I have started to make friends at Jazzercise (and reconnected with old friends). I am happy to say that really love Jazzercise and think I’ve found a way to make regular exercise a part of who I am.

I remember that you have a background in music. What kind of music gets you up and moving?

Yes, I am an elementary music teacher and have had music in my bones since birth. One of the things I love most about my job is that I get to use every single type of music I can think up to help broaden my students’ worlds. And lucky for us both, I like at least a little bit of just about every type of music. Any type of dance, pop, latin music can be incredibly rewarding to move to (the predictable structure lends itself nicely to easy choreography) but I also love when I get to dance old folk dances with my students or teach them different ways to move to more lyrical music.

What types of movement/exercise does your family enjoy together?

We try to walk whenever it’s not too dangerously cold or icy. In the warmer months we ride bikes together (with a bike trailer on my bike). Inside the house we have dance parties and my children love their kids yoga DVD.

Deb is a K-5 Music Teacher and mother to 3. She is newly in love with Jazzercise and pleasantly surprised by all of the positive influence it’s had on her life.

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To start off this spring blog series I would like to welcome my friend Carrie Hura, a local yoga teacher and massage therapist.

How did you first come to your movement practice?

I first came into yoga while working retail: books, which are very heavy. I was moving and lifting and twisting 40 pound boxes of books from pallets and standing and walking on cement floors. My low back soon felt it. I found a book on yoga and began to practice. It is Richard Hittleman’s Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Program.

How long have you been practicing?

I have practiced off and on for over 15 years, but have been a serious practitioner for about 10.

How do you integrate practice into everyday living?

Living my yoga now is in the small mindful day to day practice. My teacher, Goswami Kriyananda says, “Your daily life is your spiritual life.” So, it’s everything from stretching my body so it feels better to practicing being a better, more loving, compassionate person to those around me.

How has your practice affected you physically, emotionally, spiritually?

While the therapeutic physical practice of yoga was what I started with, I have grown so much as a result of the spiritual and philosophic aspects more so. My body has definitely become more flexible over time, particularly my back, but also overall stronger and with more balance. I Iove yoga because you fine tune the muscles by holding poses that from the outside, don’t even look that challenging. But, they are if you bring that mindful attention to how you are feeling in the posture.

As a result of studying the deeper aspects of yoga, I have become more emotionally mature, yet found an ease and flow of being. Through meditation, I have been able to be more balanced to the every day stresses and strains.

what is your favorite thing about teaching yoga?

My favorite thing about teaching yoga is seeing not only the dedication of new students, but how their practice evolves over time, like in the 6 week Yoga Foundations workshop. They come in curious, but unsure, and over the course of time, gain their steadiness in the basic postures. They become so much more confident.

What advice or suggestions do you have for folks who might be curious about trying a yoga class?

The sad thing I hear the most often from beginners is how they dropped in to a class, but “couldn’t keep up” or understand what was going on. So, do a bit of research into both the teacher and the class first to find a supportive class for first time practitioners. Usually, it will say beginners or therapeutic, or will cater to a specific population like stress relief or backs or even couch potatoes!
Or, start off how yoga was originally taught: one on one. Try a few private sessions.
And, if you do find yourself in a class you aren’t comfortable in, don’t give up, try another class and/or teacher. There are so many great yoga teachers to learn from!

Thank you Carrie for taking the time to share with us today!

Carrie Hura is a Registered Yoga Teacher and Nationally Certified and State Licensed Massage Therapist. Connect with Carrie at http://www.carriehura.abmp.com or The Yoga and Wellness Collective Facebook Page.

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Happy Spring Equinox!

As the season changes we often feel a renewed sense of energy and the desire to get up and move! I know my kids have been busy jumping over puddles (and snow piles, here in Michigan) and racing through the mud. Kids seem to have a boundless energy, and regular exercise and joyful movement is a natural part of their rhythm. However, as adults, we don’t often skip over puddles on our way into work or twirl in circles out in the sunshine. So we have to make time to move our bodies in a joyful and meaningful way.
If movement is not a practice that we already feel enthusiastic about, or that we have to carve time out of an already busy schedule for, it can feel intimidating and like a chore. I know this feeling firsthand.
Over the years I have tried different forms of exercise and movement and have found that there are some that just really do not resonate with me , with my personality, and with how I want my body to feel. There are some that I hate when I first attempt, then I try again years later and absolutely love. If we are to craft a movement practice that is authentic to our own particular needs, we need to start with an open mind and open heart. How can we cultivate the joyful kind of movement we experienced as kids? How can we make our practice an art, or a sacred part of our daily rhythms?
For the next several days I will be featuring interviews with people who are inspired by their personal movement practice. I hope you will also be inspired! Please share here or on the Facebook page how you craft (or plan to craft) your own movement practice.

Today is our last day of Healthy for the Holidays! Thank you so much for joining me.

For the last few days we have talked about the importance of looking at our health in the big picture and how we can leverage our nutrition and self care to do so. Today I have put together a list about what happens when we do get sick, and some of the things we can do to aid in the healing process.

The following is a list of things that I find helpful and healing when I or someone in my house is sick. Since your experiences may vary, please share your tips and remedies on the Facebook page!

1) First of all, the most effective thing we can do is rest. Sleep if possible. Our bodies have the opportunity to repair and renew while we sleep.

2). Water. Drink lots and lots of water, more than usual. Hot water with lemon and a slice of ginger can be very soothing for a sore throat.

3). Cut down on the amount of caffeine you are drinking if possible. Too much caffeine can mess with your adrenals, making it harder to feel better. Too much caffeine is also dehydrating, and you definitely want to stay hydrated when you are not feeling well.

4). Bone broth or vegetable broth is very nourishing any time, but especially when trying to recover from illness. Here is a link to herbalist Jim McDonald’s recipe: bone broth

5). If congestion is an issue, avoid or eliminate dairy. Dairy can thicken mucous, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but when we are already congested we want to thin those secretions and move them out. This is where the broth and tea come in handy.

6). If you are feeling cold or flu symptoms coming on, elderberry syrup can be quite helpful. Elderberries have high levels of vitamins A, B and C and stimulate the immune system in a way that is often demonstrated to reduce duration of cold and flu. You can make your own at home, it’s quite simple to do and always great to have on hand. Or, if you are in southeast Michigan you can buy from Elderberry Heaven. Elderberry Heaven is run by a lovely lady named Gwen who makes the most delicious and healing syrup with fresh elderberries. Here is Gwen’s link
Elderberry Heaven
And here is a link to directions if you wish to make your own:
Elderberry Syrup Recipe

7). When anyone in my house has cold symptoms I will sauté a few cloves of crushed garlic in oil, strain from the oil and then let it cool slightly. While it is still warm but not hot I will rub it on the soles of the feet .

8). For night time coughing I like to rub lavender essential oil on the soles of feet. If you have any bundles of dried lavender you can place one in the shower and allow the steam to help clear sinuses.

9). Herbal preparations can be so effective and healing. Herbalist Rosalee de la Foret has a great recipe for Immunity Chai, here is a link to her blog: Astragalus Chai by Rosalee

Everyone has their own protocol for feeling better when ill, and what works for me may not work for you and vice versa. That is why it is so important to listen to our bodies and allow ourselves to be guided by its innate wisdom. And don’t forget your primary foods!

Remember that getting sick is something that happens to human bodies, but we have such an amazing capacity to heal.

Thank you so much for joining me for these five days! Wishing you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season! Be well!

Welcome to Day 4! Here is the link to today’s video.
day four
Yesterday we talked about examples of nutrient dense recipes to feed ourselves and our families. Today we are going to discuss a different type of nourishment, and that is the nourishment we obtain from mindful wellness and primary foods.

The concept of primary foods is taught by Joshua Rosenthal at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. In his book “Integrative Nutrition”, Rosenthal writes:

“Primary food is more than what is on your plate. Healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career and a spiritual practice can fill your soul and satisfy your hunger for life. When primary food is balanced and satiating, your life feeds you making what you eat secondary.”

So this brings us to the question, how do we nourish ourselves in ways other than food? Please watch today’s video for some suggestions.

These are the links that I mention in today’s video:

How Yoga Cultivates A Sense of Peace

How to Transform Stress Into Relaxation

Additional ideas for self care practices:

Dry Skin Brushing

The Declaration of You

Julia Cameron on Morning Pages

Day 3 already!

Here is the link to today’s video:
day three

Yesterday’s blog and video gave examples of a few of the important micronutrients for keeping us well, so today I am going to give you several recipes that are great examples of how we can work these immunity supporting nutrients onto our holiday table.

Let’s start with a breakfast smoothie. This one is not necessarily a fit for the holiday table, but a good way to start a busy day. This is my favorite smoothie this time of year, and a nice boost of B vitamins, vitamin c, iron, calcium, magnesium and essential fatty acids.

1 cup full fat coconut milk
4 TBSP Almond butter
1 apple, chopped
Handful of kale leaves, torn
Raw honey, to taste

Blend until smooth. Serves 2, or 1 tall glass.

The next six recipes would make great side dishes and add beautiful color to the table. The first four are my own tried and true, and the last two are courtesy of Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

Butternut Squash & Almond Butter Soup (Vitamin A, C, Protein)

4 cups Butternut squash, cubed
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cup smooth almond butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 TBSP olive oil
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cumin
4 cups vegetable stock
Salt to taste
1 apple, chopped

Boil then simmer vegetable stock.
In another pan, heat oil on medium heat, add and sauté onions and garlic. Pour simmered stock over the onion mixture. Add butternut squash and carrots and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, then add almond butter and stir well. Stir in cumin and nutmeg. Cover and simmer another 3-4 minutes or until carrots and squash are tender. Remove from heat and blend in batches until creamy. Add chopped apple for garnish.

Sweet Potato Dip (protein , vitamin C, selenium, potassium)

2-3 sweet potatoes, baked or steamed
1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
1-2 TBSP tahini
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1 lemon
Splash of tamari

Squeeze lemon into a blender or food processor and add all ingredients except the sweet potatoes. Blend until smooth, then add sweet potatoes and blend until creamy. This is delicious as a dip for vegetables or crackers, or as a quesadilla filling. If the texture is thicker than you prefer, you can add a bit of olive oil or almond milk to thin it out. You can also play around with different herbs and spices for a more unique flavor. Garam masala (@ 1 tsp) is a delicious addition!

Roasted Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts (Vitamins A, B, C, E, protein, essential fatty acids)

1 lb butternut squash, cubed
1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 apple, chopped
1 red onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

In a bowl, combine squash, Brussels sprouts, apple and about 1-2 TBSP olive oil. Pour into a baking dish, and roast in a 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes (until tender). While roasting, sauté onion, celery and garlic. When the squash is done roasting, add the sautéed vegetables and top with walnuts and cranberries.

Pear & Roasted Chickpea Salad with Maple Cinnamon Vinaigrette (Vitamin C, E, calcium, zinc, selenium, potassium)

Approx. 8 cups baby spinach
2-3 ripe pears, diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries or blueberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or sliced almonds
2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas
1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP maple syrup
Olive oil
3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
Cinnamon
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 TBSP lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl, combine rinsed chickpeas, 1 tsp olive oil, 2 TBSP maple syrup, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, and 1/4 tsp salt. Pour into a baking dish and roast for 20-25 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning. When chickpeas are done roasting, allow to cool.

Prepare vinaigrette. Combine mustard, 3 TBSP apple cider vinegar, 3 TBSP lemon juice, 1/4 cup maple syrup and 1 tsp cinnamon in a bowl and whisk. Add in 1/4 cup olive oil while whisking until emulsified.

Arrange baby spinach in a large bowl and add pears, cranberries and walnuts, tossing as you go. Top with cooled roasted chickpeas. Serve with vinaigrette on the side.

Red Lentil Stew
Courtesy of Institute of Integrative Nutrition

1 cup red lentils, rinsed
4 cups water
1 yellow onion
2-3 parsnips
4 cloves garlic
1 TBSP cumin
Juice of one lemon
Salt or umeboshi vinegar to taste

1. Optional: soak lentils in 3 cups water for up to 1 day; drain.
2. Place lentils in pot with 4 cups fresh water.
3. Bring lentils to a boil and skim off any foam with a spoon.
4. Chop parsnips, onion and garlic. Add to the pot with cumin.
5. Cover and cook for one hour, stirring occasionally. The more you stir, the creamier it will be.
6. Add lemon juice and salt or umeboshi vinegar. Stir well.
7. Garnish and serve hot.

Crunchy Vegetable Slaw
Courtesy of Institute of Integrative Nutrition

5 stalks bok choy (about 1/2 head), thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, sliced
1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts (optional)

Dressing: 1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp honey or brown rice syrup
Salt & pepper to taste

1. In a bowl toss together bok choy, onion, apple and sprouts.
2. In a separate bowl mix together dressing ingredients.
3. Pour the desired amount over the vegetable mixture and serve.

Here is the link to today’s video: day two

No one likes to get sick. It is a part of being human to have times of illness. I believe that our true health lies not in how often we do or do not get sick, but rather in how we can support our body’s built-in systems in order to heal.

This time of year, our immune system works very hard to defend against microorganisms that cause disease. We can support the system by being mindful of the food we eat and the nutrients available in those foods.

Tomorrow we will talk about specific foods and recipes, but for today we will be taking a look at how certain vitamins and minerals (from food! Try to obtain from food first, and supplements only as a second choice) can be beneficial. It is important to note that no single micronutrient is a “silver bullet”, or a sure cure for a weakened immune system. But a deficiency could have adverse effects. Therefore balancing these nutrients in our diet and paying close attention to what works for our bodies and does not is key.

Please watch today’s video for more on the following:

Vitamin A
Vitamin C
Vitamin D3
Zinc
Selenium
Essential Fatty Acids

If you are interested in how Vitamin D works in our bodies, I highly suggest watching this short video from herbalist Paul Bergner:

Vitamin D

Also, in the video I briefly mention Ayurveda and eating with the seasons. Here is a more in- depth article: /What is Ayurveda