Detox with Chocolate

You only live once

but if you do it right

ONCE IS ENOUGH

Can we Detox with Chocolate?

photocred @farrukhershad

Everything in moderation. That’s what these non-sugar-or-food-addicted people keep telling me. It’s easy they say. Well, I’m here to say, it’s not for me. I eat healthy & take care of my body. But when “special occasions” come, I tend to over indulge. It’s something I am always working on. Remember my post where I come clean about being a sugaraholic?

Point is, I just got back from vacation & could use a bit of a tidying up of my diet. But first, let’s back up a bit. Vacation was beautiful. Time off work. Connecting with family. Celebrating two new marriages. Meeting my friends new baby. Lots of good food & love. Playtime.

Can we detox with Chocolate?

photocred @farrukhershad

I love the release from the pressures of daily life that vacation brings. But vacation is just that – a break from routine. After a few weeks away, my balance tends to shift. I feel the impact of irregular sleep, indulgent foods & less structured exercise. So back in my world, it’s time to clean it up. Self-care, super-foods & sweating it out are in order!

My cleanse will consist of lots of whole foods (ie: leafy greens where have you been all my life?), regular meditation (quiet time), lots of water & daily workouts (body weight exercises, hiking thanks to the time change giving us lighter evenings, yoga & bicycling). For more ideas on gentle cleansing with whole foods check out this post on MindBodyGreen.

I’ll be avoiding gluten, sugar and processed/packaged foods. I’ll be reducing greatly caffeine, dairy & meats. However, one thing I won’t be going without: CHOCOLATE!! Skipping the sugar for awhile, I’ll need to get creative to get my cacao fix!

Once upon a time, Phoenix & I made up our own recipe that is something like the various chocolate bark recipes you see. I tried it today with 100% pure dark chocolate.

FullSizeRender (20)

It turned out fantastic & I don’t miss the sugar of lighter chocolates!! What’s the secret? Coconut oil or butter to add some delicious healthy fats & fruit to sweeten naturally! Here is the recipe – get creative with your additions!


DARK CHOCOLATE & RASPBERRY BARK

Detox with 100% chocolate

Ingredients

  • 1 bar 100% chocolate 
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Oil or Coconut Butter or to taste (any size dollop will do)
  • oven-safe Pyrex or glass pie dish
  • Optional Mix-Ins:
    • cinnamon
    • vanilla extract
    • frozen berries (ex: raspberries, strawberries, mixed)
    • sliced fresh fruit (ex: peaches, bananas, pomegranate seeds)
    • dried, unsweetened fruit (ex: goji berries, raisins, cranberries)
    • nuts or seeds (ex: almonds, walnuts, macadamias, sunflower seeds)
    • peanut or other nut/seed butter
    • dried, unsweetened coconut flakes
    • sea salt
    • chili powder or paprika
    • cacao nibs
    • pure therapeutic grade essential oils (ex: peppermint, lavender, orange) ***apply by dipping toothpick in oil & swirling through the chocolate until desired taste is achieved.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Unwrap, break up chocolate & place it in glass baking dish
  3. Add coconut oil to dish & place in oven
  4. Heat chocolate and oil in oven until melted & stir to combine
  5. Mix & drop in optional toppings to add flavor & sweetness. For this batch I chose 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 sliced banana, 1/2 cup frozen raspberries, several dashes cinnamon & sea salt, 1 teaspoon sunflower seeds & 1/4 cup dried coconut flakes.
  6. Place in freezer until firm. Use a sharp knife to break into pieces. Enjoy!!

What other “desserts” do you love that aren’t loaded with processed sugars?

Fall Detox: 21 Day Whole Food Challenge

Summer seems to be blazing on as usual in California despite the onset of Autumn throughout the world. The tireless heat & bright sunshine seems to almost convince us that winter isn’t coming this year. But it will, of course. Daylight savings time actually ends on November 2nd this year. That means we have 7 weeks left to get outside & enjoy the lighted evenings. Hikes. Bike rides. Beach sunsets. Once time changes most of us will trade these outdoor activities in for cozy nights at home, cuddled under grandma’s afghan, sipping hot licorice-mint tea & reading Outlander sequels (no, just me?). The point is seize the day – literally. Get outside & cherish this beautiful time of year.

As the season changes, I like to embrace the transition with a bit of a cleanse. A fresh start. This comes at the perfect time as I have just returned from a vacation filled with over-indulgences (like eating every piece of Scottish caramel shortbread I laid eyes on) & I could use an immune booster as I am recovering from a nasty cold. With a couple supportive team mates (my brave husband & competitive office mate), tomorrow – Monday 9/15 – launches our 21 day primal challenge.

primal laws

I love Mark’s Daily Apple & his 21 day challenge – this will be the third or fourth time I have completed it. However, the goal is to get back to the basics:

  1. Eat whole foods (with lots of raw veggies!)
  2. Get active throughout the daily routine. 
  3. Practice mindfulness.
  4. Sleep well.
  5. Play in the sunshine as much as possible!

1. Eat Whole Foods – Menu for the next three weeks:

Breakfast: Chia bowls (variations of this one from Oh She Glows) OR coconut oil fried eggs (eaten over sauteed vegetables with salsa & avocado)

Lunch: Salads, salads, salads! I love red cabbage & carrot salads lately. Lot of tiny chopped veggies with olive oil & balsamic. Roast chicken on top. More avocado.

Dinner: Lamb, fish, beef, chicken. Either baked, barbecued, pan fried, slow-cooked, shredded, or as burgers eaten on portobellas. On top of (or next to) lots of veggies.

Snacks: Mixed nuts. Fruit (berries are best as low-glycemic).Teas. Kombucha. Beef jerky. *After the first few days of missing the carbs, this high fat (the good kind!) & protein diet keeps me full easily & I rarely get hungry between meals.

AVOID: grains, legumes, sugar, processed foods, packaged items, dairy & alcohol

2. Get active throughout the daily routine. 

Take the stairs. Park farther away from the office. Commute by bicycle 1-3 times per week. Utilize a stand-up work station for a least 5 hours & take 3 walking breaks during the workday. Walk to the grocery store – or anywhere within a mile of home. Try this 90 days of action workout plan & see how many friends, family & co-workers you can get to join in!

3. Practice mindfulness.

Begin & end the day with yoga – even just a couple poses. Practice headstand daily (today is day #144 of my #headstand365 challenge). Meditate twice a day. Slow down. Stop & think (ie: be less reactive, pull over to look at cell phone, etc…).

4Sleep well.

Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night. Drop lavender essential oil on pillow case to calm the body & mind. Use blackout curtains. Natural alarm clock (slowly brightens like the sunrise). Keep cell phones outside of bedroom at night.

5. Play in the sunshine as much as possible!

Get outdoors first thing in the morning (water plants, take a walk) & after work (hike with friends, walk on the beach). Plan group activities, games, picnics & beach days on the weekend. Spend as much time in good company & in the great outdoors as possible! Oh, & go barefoot. Ahhhh – toes in the damp grass – what a feeling!

picnic

Essential Oils: Introduction

“You can soak and splash in them, feed your skin, sensually smooth them all over, or simply breath in their wonderful aromas. The pleasure and versatility of aromatic oils make them one of nature’s kindest gifts. Essential oils contain the active ingredients of a plant in a highly concentrated and potent form.”

Essential Oils as described in the informative, instructional book on aromatherapy titled Complete Yoga Aromatherapy, Tai Chi and Massage by Carole McGilvery, Jimi Reed, Michele MacDonnell, Paul Tucker, Mark Evans & John Hudson.

Celebrating with Yoga

Why use Essential Oils?

Our world is a toxic place. With pollution in the air we breathe (inside & out of the home), pesticides, chemicals & hormones filling grocery store shelves (and the soil our food/water comes from), and stress often looming like a dark cloud, the desire to keep myself, and my family, healthy can be overwhelming. By learning new health information & tools for self-care I feel empowered to take a proactive approach to health & wellness.

Seeking optimal health, I use detoxification techniques regularly – including many of these 15 Simple Ways to Reduce Toxins in Your Life. While reading up on detox strategies, I kept coming across DIY recipes & tips. Making beauty, personal hygiene & cleaning products from safe, natural ingredients sounded great in theory – but I didn’t have the skills to do this. However, with encouragement from friends, combined with the desire to reduce chemicals & toxins in my life, I decided to learn more & try out essential oils.

Our bodies are magnificent machines designed to heal themselves with the right care & fuel. In seeking more proactive options I am so thankful to have added essential oils to my wellness tool belt at last!

Essential Oils

What are Essential Oils?

Essential Oils come from plants (extracted from leaves, bark, flowers, fruit, etc). They protect the plants health & can benefit us too. Essential oils are very potent and thus must be used with caution & education. However, this potency is what makes essential oils affordable & worthwhile. Some benefits of essential oils include:

  • promotes emotional, physical, & spiritual wellness
  • easy to use & quick to enter through the skin
  • stimulates immune system
  • powerful antioxidants
  • detoxifies cells & blood
  • removes toxins from the air & increases oxygen
  • eliminates odors & smells delicious

How to use Essential Oils?

There are three ways to use essential oils: aromatically, topically & internally. These uses are based on the certified therapeutic grade essential oils. Essential oil use (especially topical & internal use) is a hot topic so definitely do your research and decide what is best for you!

AROMATIC

Breathe from the bottle, drop on a tissue/cotton ball & attach to a fan or air vent, use a diffuser, drop in hot water & breathe the vapor, use as perfume/cologne, & drop or spray on pillow/sheets.

TOPICAL

Dilute as needed with carrier oil & massage body or apply to feet, wrists & behind ears, apply to reflex points, drop in bath water, DIY (face serum, body butter, lip balm, deodorant, etc).

INTERNAL

Apply under tongue, swallow in capsules, drink in water/tea, add to recipes in the kitchen (check out this recipes for lemon lavender cupcakes – delicious!)

Where to buy certified therapeutic grade essential oils?

I only use the purest & most potent essential oils that are certified to be therapeutic grade. Do your own research before putting an essential oil on your skin or in your body. Contact me for more information.

Link

Happy Monday Friends! What is it about Mondays? They just take it out of me! I sure am grateful to be in my comfies now, all cozied up on the couch – that’s for sure! I may have made up a couple of words there, but sometimes I find that necessary to more accurately describe how I’m feeling! I bet you are doing the same thing right now (the comfy pants – not the word inventing).

Anywho… Kombucha! I’m currently up to my ears in home brews & new scoby “babies” as I’ve been learning & drinking my home brewed Kombucha for a few months now! I’m in love! Where to even begin? My first run in with the fizzy, fermented tea was at a health food store when a good friend (with a bad hangover) recommended it for it’s detoxifying properties! I spent four dollars, drank one teensie sip, grimaced & dumped the rest. Water has always been my drink of choice anyways – hydrating, delicious & nothing fancy!

Fast forward several years & I decided to give Kombucha a second chance. I tend to be motivated to try things known for their health benefits as I’m always looking for new ways to boost my immune system, detoxify my body & support digestive health. Plus, Kombucha turned out to be a tasty, carbonated drink (unlike the time I tried to make homemade sauerkraut not knowing how it should taste or if I even like it)! So I’m plugging along in Kombucha heaven and I begin to realize I’ve developed an expensive habit. By asking around I learn that Kombucha can be easily made by using a starter scoby often referred to as the “mother” & apparently many of the women I know have mothers & grandmothers who have been brewing this tea for decades! Lucky me!

My Kombucha teacher (also my girlfriend’s mother) gave me a personal home brew tutorial, starter scoby, & an awesome packet of information including history, recipes & anecdotes! By the way, I love discovering new health routines via word of mouth, doing my own research & trusting intuition. So Kombucha fits the bill! I’ll show you a snippet of my modified version of this method below, but for the original recipe (plus a plethora of other fun stories & info) check out The Kombucha Center website.

KOMBUCHA BENEFITS

You can read many stories of amazing benefits like detoxification, grey hair reduction, alleviated menopause & allergy symptoms, increased fat burn and even healing from illnesses. So far I have experienced increased energy, healthier digestion, and lots of fun while enjoying the brewing process, sipping my tea & sharing with friends!

KOMBUCHA INGREDIENTS

5 tea bags – I use a combo of green & black tea for my preferred flavor & to reduce the caffeine. There are simple methods available for removing the caffeine from your tea bags if that is a concern for you.

1 cup organic sugar – I’ve used light brown & white sugar successfully

3 quarts boiled water – I have been using sun tea lately but the jury is still out on my preferred method of steeping the tea

1 scoby “baby” in 1 cup Kombucha from previous batch

1 large glass jar – that holds around 4 quarts

1 coffee filter & rubber band to secure

1 wooden spoon *Never touch the tea or Kombucha with any metal

IMG_5059

Kombucha Ingredients: Tea, sugar, purified H2O, scoby & kombucha

HOW TO MAKE KOMBUCHA

Make tea using boiling method (glass tea kettle on stove, ceramic dish in oven) – but – I like sun tea & haven’t had problems so far. I steep all day in the sun & then add sugar until dissolved.

IMG_5062

Green and Black Teas brewing in the Sunshine

IMG_5060

Add 3 quarts of fresh brewed tea to brew jar, add sugar & stir until dissolved.

Cool tea to room temperature & add the scoby with 1 cup of previous batch of Kombucha.

IMG_5065

LEFT: “Mother” Scoby ready for retirement (the compost bin)                             RIGHT: New “baby” Scoby in 1 c. Kombucha ready to be added to the new batch TOP: Bottle leftover from tasty store bought Kombucha & two mason jars filled with my previous finished batch (ready to be bottled & consumed).

Cover the container with a coffee filter & rubber band for protection. Store in a cupboard that isn’t disturbed often & let ferment for 7 or more days depending on temperature and conditions. After 7 days, it is helpful to taste the brew every couple days until it reaches desired fermentation.

img_4454-e1402379979885

New batch of tea ready to be covered & stored for fermentation.

After Kombucha has fermented to your taste preference, just remove the Scoby “Mother” & “Baby” (they will probably be connected) & it is ready to be consumed! However, I like to bottle with fresh ginger & fruit at this stage to enhance flavor & promote carbonation. Add whatever fruit you prefer, seal bottle(s) with plastic or rubber lids only & let sit on counter for another day to carbonate. Then store in the fridge! Yummmmm!!!

IMG_5063

Flavored, carbonated & ready to be refrigerated!                                                         LEFT: Blueberry, Ginger & Lemon                                                                           RIGHT: Farmer’s Market Peach & Strawberry

My teacher & information suggest drinking 4 ounces every morning on an empty stomach for maximum health benefits. I aim to do this, but also enjoy my Kombucha in a pretty wine glass while sitting on the porch after a long day! Enjoy!