How to be Vegan In Texas

Is it possible to be a vegan in Texas? Yes, it is. This week I am visiting my family in San Antonio for my brother’s birthday. I should start by sharing with you all that I had never even heard of vegan before moving to California 8 years ago. I encountered a few (like a handful) of vegetarians throughout my life in San Antonio, but it was incredibly rare. This city has a rich culture and we primarily eat Mexican food. As you know, most Mexican dishes include meat. My father’s family also has a ton of land that’s been in our family for generations and when hunting season comes around it wasn’t unusual for him to bring home meat from a deer for us to eat. I even remember eating a rabbit once. But I didn’t know it was a rabbit until I was finished and thought it was chicken. I share all of this with you to give you an idea of how shocked I was to come home and find vegetarian and vegan options. 

We found Green Vegetarian Cuisine unexpectedly so it was serendipitous for me. I wasn’t sure what I was going to eat for lunch and my stomach was starting to growl. Then my dad declared, “Hey, that’s right up your alley” and pointed the way. I was so happy with their menu. It’s a vegetarian restaurant that is also kosher and also modifies dishes if you need them to be vegan. My brother turned his nose up and was shocked that there was such a thing as vegan ice cream, but he did order french fries. My dad was pretty adventurous and ordered the Blue Healer – Blueberries, banana, spinach, and soy milk. I was proud of him for drinking his spinach. I ordered something a little heartier, Monk’s Bowl – Quinoa tabouli, beans, kale, and chipotle mayo. There was so way I was skipping dessert so I got a Strawberry Basil vegan cupcake. 


Green Vegetarian Cuisine ® will be a part of Texas’ transition from fat to fit.. Our goal is to occupy a smaller footprint and be a more sustainable restaurant.

This was en encouraging experience. Cheers to your health and wellness Texas!

Achieve Your Optimal Health in 5 Easy Steps

The eyes are the window to the soul.

I was browsing through photos to update a portfolio and I found this headshot from 2.5 years ago. The first thing I noticed was how much shorter my hair was. The next thing I noticed were how incredibly clear my eyes were. This photo wasn’t touched up, though I did have an amazing makeup artist, Organic Food Daily, and my husband captured the image. Whenever I look at a photo I try to remember what was going on at that time in my life. In this photo I was at the end of finishing ministry school, so I’d done a ton of spiritual work in my life. I’d let go of a lot of things like un-forgiveness with others and myself. But I was also in the middle of a 40 day juice fast leading up to my  birthday. I didn’t make it to 40 days, I made it halfway. But as you can imagine, my body was able to really detox from impurities and I didn’t have the mental stress of worrying about what I should and shouldn’t eat. I reached my ideal weight too.

But in the year that followed this photo I packed the weight back on due to working at a job totally outside of my purpose, stressful relationships that were towards the end, and general neglect. My goal has always been to reach optimal health in a balanced way. But my personality can be so extreme that finding that balance has been the journey for me. So the other day I spoke to the same two people who helped me capture the image above, Kristine from Organic Food Daily, and my sweet husband. After talking about all of this again I was able to write out the steps I needed to take to reach optimal health in a balanced way.

Here are the 3 things I need to do.

  1. Stick to my bedtime of 10pm.
  2. Sweat every single day. No more excuses and guilt.
  3. Eat 3 balanced meals per day, don’t skip any of them.

It’s so basic, right? Can you think of a few things you can start doing to reach optimal health? 

 

How To Cut Back On Sugar

There are ways to cut back on sugar even if you aren’t ready to totally eliminate it from your diet. When I say sugar I’m referring to the processed white and brown stuff. I’m also referring to the fake sugar substitutes like Splenda, Equal and Sweet N Low. It took me several years to get to a place where I didn’t need or crave sugar to get me through the day. I would eliminate it for increments of time like 7 days, 21 days, 30 days and even 40 days. But at the end of that time I’d return to sugar and not just for a bite, I would binge on it for days to the point of making myself physically or emotionally sick. I share all of that with you to say that through all of that hot mess I finally  found healthy ways to cut back on sugar and eventually eliminate it.

Here are my top 5 ways to cut back on sugar… even if you aren’t ready to let it go for good!

  1. Read Books. It’s amazing how much stronger knowledge can make us. I probably read 10 books on sugar over the course of one year so I could understand why it was bad for me. I knew that it was taking a toll on my body, but I wanted expert opinions and scientific facts. I wanted to read stories about other people who were hooked on the sweet stuff but found ways to overcome it and let it go for good. Even if you feel that you aren’t ready to let sugar go yet, if you start to read information on the truth about sugar it will begin to renew your mind and eventually your emotions and even your tongue will align with your decision to let it go. You can find some of my favorite books here
  2. Process Of Elimination. Start to take inventory on what you eat and drink throughout your day. You will find several items on your list that you can start to replace with healthier options. One major area is soft drinks. If you drink soda, canned tea, energy drinks, alcohol, or fancy lattes then this is an area where you can knock out a ton of your daily sugar intake. You can replace these drinks with fresh juice from Jamba Juice.
  3. Eat A Healthy Breakfast. Haven’t we heard this since we were children? It’s true though, if you eat a healthy breakfast you are less likely to binge on sugar and processed foods. Make sure you drink water as soon as you wake up and eat your breakfast within an hour. Pop Tarts and sugary cereals don’t count as a healthy breakfast. Try eating oatmeal with fresh berries, a super foods smoothie or a bowl of fresh fruit with granola for breakfast and see how you feel. I bet the natural sugar in the fruit will satisfy your sweet tooth.
  4. Discover the Source. Why do you turn to sugar? Is it for emotional support? Are you stressed? Is it out of habit and you are just mindlessly eating something sweet? There is a reason you turn to sugar so take some time to discover why you do it. It may not be the same reason each time, so be as conscious about your cravings as possible. Once you discover the source of your craving you can begin to find healthy replacements. For instance, I used to turn to sugar for comfort. So instead, I started to make myself tea because I found that comforting as well. Or if I had time, I’d take a nap because lying under the covers was comforting to me. 
  5. Just Say No. I know, I know, you are probably thinking, “easier said than done”. And you’re right, at least at first. But there were many times where I was faced with the decision of devouring a brownie because of xyz or I could decide to say no and walk away. The more I started to say no, the more I realized that I actually wasn’t powerless over this sweet tooth of mine but that I was totally responsible for my dietary choices. Woah, that was a mind blow :). 

Are you trying to cut back on processed sugar? What are some ways that you’ve done it?

Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 What Foods To Buy and Avoid

Have you heard of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15? I recently downloaded an app by the Environmental Protection Agency to see which foods I should be cautious of buying and which foods were the safest. I’m big on buying organic because I know how awful the pesticides are that are sprayed on non-organic food. It’s already bad enough that we have to watch out for Genetically Modified “Food”. Additionally, it’s best to avoid non-organic food when possible. But what if you can’t afford all organic produce? This list will help you determine with fruit and vegetables aren’t as contaminated with pesticides and safer to buy non-organic if needed.

Note – The first 12 on this list are known as the Dirty Dozen due to the high pesticide residue consistently found on them. You should always buy these 12 items organic if possible. The last 15 on this list are know as the Clean 15 and are considered the safest to buy if you can’t afford organic. Lower numbers = more pesticides (1 being the highest, 51 being the lowest).  

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Nectarines – imported
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Potatoes
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Hot peppers
  13. Blueberries – domestic
  14. Lettuce
  15. Snap peas – imported
  16. Kale/collard greens
  17. Cherries
  18. Nectarines – domestic
  19. Pears
  20. Plums
  21. Raspberries
  22. Blueberries – imported
  23. Carrots
  24. Green beans
  25. Tangerines
  26. Summer squash
  27. Broccoli
  28. Winter squash
  29. Green onions
  30. Snap peas – domestic
  31. Oranges
  32. Tomatoes
  33. Honeydew melon
  34. Cauliflower
  35. Bananas
  36. Watermelon
  37. Mushrooms
  38. Sweet potatoes
  39. Cantaloupe 
  40. Grapefruit
  41. Kiwi
  42. Eggplant
  43. Asparagus
  44. Mangos
  45. Papayas
  46. Sweet peas – frozen
  47. Cabbage
  48. Avocados
  49. Pineapples
  50. Onions
  51. Sweet Corn

Do you always buy organic produce or is it not a priority for you? 

If Trees Could Sing – Video Review (Get ready to cry)

I first saw this video a couple of years ago when it was released online and it totally gave me the chills. It was right around the same time I hugged my first tree. That’s right, I hugged a tree. Do you want to know why? Well, there was this magnificent magnolia tree that was directly across the street from my apartment. And each day I’d park my car underneath it (usually the spot was open). I always felt a sense of peace when I was around this tree but I didn’t think much about it. One day I got this overwhelming urge to hug the tree. I don’t know why, but as I got out of my car I just felt like I had to touch it’s trunk and hug it. I’ve never been a tree hugger. But I couldn’t shake this feeling. So I looked down both sides of the street and it was clear. I hugged the tree. Oh, it was so cooling and peaceful.

I walked inside my apartment and thought nothing of it. But the next morning I woke up to a really loud sound on the street. It went on for over 30 minutes so I threw on my pi’s and went outside. The city had just finished chopping the tree down to it’s roots. I don’t remember seeing a sign on the tree indicating the city was cutting it down. There was no warning. But I couldn’t help but think about that urge I felt the day before to hug the tree that was now gone. Was it a “spiritual” connection. I don’t know, but it’s an event in my life that I will never forget.

Since this month’s challenge is yoga I am reading a lot of information on living a peaceful existence and connection with creation. It made me think of this story, and also this song. This incredible artist had the idea to see what the lines in a tree bark would sound like if it were played as a record. Take a listen to this tree’s hauntingly beautiful melody.

Have you had an experience in nature that made you stop and wonder about creation? I’d love to read about it in the comments below. 


Eat Right For Your Blood Type

Have you heard that you can eat for your blood type? I found out about this way of eating towards the end of 2013 and it fascinated me. I hadn’t come across a way of eating that was so specific and individually catered. On the surface it seemed plausible, our blood holds so much information. So I read Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type and even took a workshop where I discovered  that my blood type is O positive. What does that mean? 

For Type O: Focus on higher protein, eliminate grains, and perform energetic aerobic exercise
For Type A: Go vegetarian, exercise more mildly, and ease tension through meditation 
For Type B: Vary your diet with a diversity of food groups, and exercise moderately
For Type AB: You have most of the benefits and intolerances of Types A and B

Interesting, huh? So the workshop I attended also gave me a list of foods that I should eat and foods that I should avoid based on my blood type. I was surprised because my blood type is supposed to thrive on meat eating, since it’s the oldest and therefore most “primal” of blood types. I really wasn’t sure how I felt about that because although I’ve always been a natural athlete, I believe my body thrives when I stay away from meat. But the list also mentioned food items like Brazil Nuts as something I should stay away from. I found that interesting because I know that I can’t eat Brazil Nuts, they always break my skin out. So, what does this all mean?

I’ve read numerous accounts of people swearing this is the way to eat because it cleared up some health issue that they had. Others believe it’s bogus and far fetched. Is it another way to put us into boxes based on where we come from? Then again, there are people from all ethnicities who fall into the different blood types. I think there is something to this theory. I just don’t think I could bring myself to consume meat the way it recommends for my blood type. 

Have you read about this diet or tried it for yourself? I’d love to read about your experience.

Chillin’ at a book signing with Gwyneth

If you’ve been reading along, you know that I have recommended the book, “It’s All Good” by Gwyneth Paltrow numerous times on this blog. Over the weekend one of my dreams came true when I had the chance to meet my favorite American Actress (and now author) Gwyneth at her pop-up store for Goop in Brentwood. I don’t think they really publicized this event aside from a quick post on the Instagram account for Goop. But the location is small and intimate so I thought they handled it well. I’ve always felt that the media has been hard on Gwyneth and mocked her for being too “proper”. To me, she’s always just come across as reserved and elegant. I’ve met many celebrities since I have lived in Los Angeles, CA and they usually are lovely people. Gwyneth was a gem. She was kind and thoughtful with each book that she signed and she asked for the name of my blog. When I told her “Skinny Decaf Latte” she smiled and laughed along with someone else from her team and I could tell the name made them happy.

It was obvious that I was an actual fan of her book because I had over 20 sticky tabs marking pages of recipes that I love. She seemed to love that too. I left with the biggest smile on my face and I will forever be grateful to her for writing this recipe book for people who have to eat on an elimination diet. If you’re curious about this book, she has recipes that are vegan as well as for meat eaters. There are recipes for salads, main courses and of course dessert. It’s also broken down into phases so it allows you to gradually bring back food items into your diet after you’ve eaten clean for a while. I highly recommend this book, it’s changed my life and if nothing else you will have a collection of delicious and healthy recipes to pull from. 


 After changing her diet, Paltrow healed totally, felt more energetic and looked great. Now, in IT’S ALL GOOD, she shares the go-to dishes that have become the baseline for the restorative diet she turns to whenever she feels she needs it. Recipes include: Huevos Rancheros, Hummus Tartine with Scallion-Mint Pesto, Salmon Burgers with Pickled Ginger, even Power Brownies, Banana “Ice Cream,” and more!
 

What my meat-eating husband thinks of my Vegan Challenge

My husband is not a vegan. He loves meat. But he has supported me through this month’s vegan challenge despite some of his concerns. I recently sat down to discuss some of those concerns and his initial apprehension to me eating vegan. I think you’ll agree he was a great sport about it. In the video he mentions his initial intrigue with veganism years ago after reading Gandhi’s autobiography. Gandhi shares how he wanted his eating to align with his moral convictions and so he tried to eat in a way that caused no harm. This meant eating seeds, not even root based plants like carrots because that requires pulling the living plant from the soil. An example of “seeds” would be apples because they simply fall from the tree and no harm is caused. But as Gandhi’s story unfolds he becomes weaker and eventually adds milk to his diet for strength.

As a spiritual person, a person of faith, I also have wondered about how my eating can align with some of my other beliefs. Is it possible to live this ideal lifestyle of love that I have etched in my heart and mind? We will see in time. But for now check out Part 1 of my interview with Clarence and let me know what you think about his concerns in the comment section below. Are these concerns that you have had to address if you are vegan? If you eat meat, are these concerns that have stopped you from trying to eat vegan? I’d love to know more.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” “To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being.” – Mahatma Gandhi, statesman and philosopher

 

Quick Ways To Combat Stress

quick ways to combat stress

Take a deep breath. Here are some quick ways to combat stress!

You know it all too well. That feeling. The one you get on Monday morning. Or when you look around a messy house. Or can’t finish that massive to do list. Stress happens to all of us at one point or another. Sometimes, that stress is triggered by a small event. Other times? Stress is due to a major life change.

Whether the stress in your life comes from a WiFi drop or moving across the country…knowing how to deal with it is essential. Not just for your own sanity but for your health. Stress has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. (For help fighting the latter, check out this great article on Pilates!) Don’t let it happen to you. Try these quick and effective ways to combat stress.

Make Yourself a Cup Of Black Tea. Are you a tea drinker? Become one. At least if you want to say so long to stress. Tea has a calming effect on the body. Particularly black tea. Studies have shown that people who drink four cups of tea per day are able to de-stress faster than those who do not. Tea drinkers can also have lower cortisol levels after a stressful event. So, treat yourself to a cup of tea. Your stress will melt away in no time.

Do a Quick Seated Meditation. There are many benefits to meditation. It can help you connect to your body and reduce stress. Feeling overwhelmed at work? No free time? Stop and meditate for five minutes. (Even the busiest person ever can spare five measly minutes!) Breathe deeply. Inhale for a three count, exhale for a three count, and repeat. You should feel your heart rate come down. And your stress levels lessening. The best thing about a seated meditation? You can do it in a parked car, at your desk, or on the living room couch. Give yourself five minutes. It will make a huge difference.

Write It All Away. One of the leading causes of stress? Worrying about every little thing. Maybe something serious is going on or you are just feeling out of sorts. Instead of over thinking – and causing yourself stress – write it out. Sit down on your lunch break and write about everything that worries you. Write down why you feel stressed. Where those feelings come from. How you feel. Being completely and totally honest can help you put things into perspective. Let paper and pen be your therapy. By the time you are finished…. your stress will be gone for good.

More Quick Ways To Combat Stress:

  • Turn off your electronic devices. These days, most of us have our cell phones on 24/7. The moment we see that flashing light, we have to check. Whether it is a Facebook notification or an important email, our need to stay connected can cause us to stress unnecessarily. Give yourself an hour. Put away the cell phone, ignore your emails, and focus on what is really important.
  • Look at a photograph that makes you smile. It will take you back to a happy time. A time without stress. You’d be surprised at how quickly your stress levels will level out. Keep a folder of your favorite photos saved on your phone or hang them around your home.
  • Go outside for a while. Sometimes being cooped up can cause our stress levels to rise. We are stuck in a car on the way to work. Then an office building. Then the car. Then home. The solution? Take a short walk on your lunch break or enjoy a post-dinner outing. You can even plan a hike for the weekend. The great outdoors are a fantastic way to eliminate stress.

Shannon

Photograph Courtesy Of Smithsonian Magazine.

Organic Food and Sex

christmas, romance, food

 

 

Every day we spend tons of time with family, friends, and co-workers. It is a time to connect and enjoy those we’re close to, and the white lights, sparkly snow and decadent themes can be incredibly romantic. As we are eating our way through the next two weeks, here is a list of delicious organic treats that will help get your special someone in the mood to get close.

After all, healthy love is part of healthy living!

Some of these you can sneak into dinner, and some are best shared snuggled by the fire with a glass of champagne. Your choice.

This amazing info was shared with us by the fabulous Editor of Sssh.com, a smart & sexy erotic destination for women that is an empowering environment with original movies, radio stations, audio books, original novels, a virtual world and articles. Click here to snag a trial membership and get access to their spectacular material!

Asparagus
This has been lauded as stimulant since before the nineteenth century. In France, couples were encouraged to eat asparagus at their wedding feasts because of its reputed powers.

Basil
Not just for mojitos – This yummy little plant is even used in Voodoo love ceremonies in Haiti!

Caviar
The best caviar is imported Beluga, and the best way to enjoy it is by the spoonful with chilled vodka or champagne. It is said that the vodka enhances the aphrodisiac power of Caviar.

chocolateChocolate
Contains the same chemical we produce when we are infatuated with another person. The Aztecs referred to chocolate “nourishment of the Gods”. Try combining dark chocolate and a glass of red wine for max value!

Ginseng
Ginseng’s name even means “man root” and is a world-renowned libido-booster. You can get ginseng extract almost anywhere- try sneaking into sauces and smoothies for your sweetheart.

Honey
Medieval seducers plied their partners with Mead, a fermented drink made from honey. Lovers on their “Honeymoon” drank mead and it was thought to “sweeten” the marriage … but you don’t need to save it for the honeymoon! Honey makes a great organic sweetener for desserts and sauces.

Licorice
Back in the day, chewing on bits of licorice root was said to enhance love and lust, particularly for women. Try organic licorice candy and tea to enjoy the strangest effects.

Mustard
Believed to stimulate the adrenals and increase desire. Usually the less processed the stronger the effects.

Nutmeg
In quantity nutmeg can be a hallucinogenic, but a light sprinkling of the spice can help spice up your evening.

Oysters
One of the world’s classic love foods. Legend has it that Casanova ate 50 raw oysters every morning in the bath tub!

Pine Nuts
These nuts (actually seeds of the pine tree) have been used as an aphrodisiac throughout the Mediterranean and the East. The Roman poet, Ovid, included pine nuts in his list of aphrodisiacs. The Perfumed Garden (an ancient Arabic love manual) contains many references to pine nuts including this prescription to restore romantic vigor: “A glass of thick honey, plus 20 almonds and 100 pine nuts repeated for three nights.” Sounds like something I’d want on a cake!

Pomegranate
This deep red fruit is recommended in the Karma Sutra as an erotic aid. It’s great to eat and fun to play with.

Saffron
This expensive spice has been reputed to work like an adrenal hormone and make erogenous zones even more sensitive.

Vanilla
This sweet bean has a euphoric effect whether put on your skin, mixed into food, or even grated into drinks. The smell and flavor is one of the most effective organic aphrodisiacs out there!

Still Curious? Check out our sources below – or sign up for a Sssh.com membership to get more empowering material on love and spices, whether you like to read, watch, or listen, there is something to connect with.

If you’re a social media diva, visit @ssshforwomen on Twitter!

Food as Foreplay: Recipes for Romance, Love and Lust by Michael & Ellen Albertson

CookingCouple.com
Plants of Love; Christian Ratsch
aboutaphrodisiacs.org
Skin Flutes & Velvet Gloves-A Collection of Facts and Fancies,
Legends and Oddities about the Body’s Private Parts; Dr. Terri Hamilton

With the right mood, all food is romantic! Image by © Tabor Gus/Corbis