vata season

As I write this, we have fully transitioned into the fall season.  Temperatures have dropped. The air has become dry and windy. The sound of blowing leaves fills the air. The colors of nature have shifted from green to brown. The days are getting shorter. You also might have noticed that your schedule has become more busy and hectic, and you might be experiencing more anxiety. You might feel more spacey in your mind. In your body, you might notice symptoms like constipation, dry skin, cold extremities, cracking joints and dehydration.

Image by Waldrebell from Pixabay 

In Ayurveda, autumn is known as vata season. Vata carries the characterics you notice in fall – cold, dry and mobile. In Ayurveda, opposites balance. So in the fall, you want to focus on qualities like warm, oily (opposite of dry in Ayurveda), and stability/groundedness. Below are some tips on how to do this to navigate your way through the fall season gracefully.


Focus on eating nourishing, grounding, well-cooked, well-spiced and well-oiled food. Include sweet, sour and salty tastes. Foods that are warm and liquid, like oatmeal, stews and soups are great for vata season. Eat meals at regular times every day. Stay hydrated by drinking Ayurvedic Gatorade (instructions below) and warm herbal teas. Reduce your intake of raw and dry foods like salads, cold smoothies, crackers, rice cakes and popcorn.

  • Well-oiled food – olive oil, coconut oil, ghee
  • Well-spiced food – pretty much all spices! I especially like, cinnamon, cumin, astofida (hing), ginger, garlic and turmeric
  • Sweet taste – root veggies, like sweet potatoes; winter squash, like butternut squash; and cooked grains, like basmati rice and quinoa
  • Salty taste – add pink Himalayan salt or mineral salt to your food 
  • Sour taste – add a dash of lemon or lime juice to your meals; cook your oatmeal with dried raisins or dried cranberries
  • Healthy fats – all nuts and seeds
  • Ayurvedic Gatorade – to warm water, add a squeeze of lime juice and a pinch of pink Himalayan or mineral salt


Think relaxing and grounding. Vata season is associated with the air element. When you imagine the air element, think more of movement, like the movement of the wind – what is called mobile quality. The opposite of mobile is stable and grounded. This is the time of year to consider slowing down, and to get a good night’s sleep.

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule, getting 7-8 hours of sleep. This means getting up and going to bed at the same time everyday.
  • Do grounding practices like meditation, restorative and yin yoga
  • Stay warm, layer up, protect your head and hands on chilly days
  • Try to get 10-20 minutes of natural sunlight every day
  • Practice self oil massage with sesame oil daily. This practice has been life changing for me!  Instructions to do this are here:

Image by Leon_Ting from Pixabay 


In vata season, use herbs that help build immunity, keep the body hydrated, and keep your digestive fires strong. 

  • CCF tea – more information on CCF tea with recipe here
  • Chyavanprash is a nutritive jam packed with vitamin C that strengthens immunity (it’s also yummy)
  • Licorice tea – licorice is a demulcent herb, helping you hold onto water. I like the Traditional Medicinal brand.
  • Ginger – in your tea or in your meals helps keep your digestive fire strong and is warming

 #holistichealth #holisticliving #holistic #holisticnutrition #naturalhealth #foodismedicine #ancienthealth #ayurveda #naturalliving #eatrealfood #herbalmedicine #ayurvedicmedicine #yogalife #yogi #mindbody #herbaltea #healthydigestion #vata #vataseason #autumn

How to ferment your own veggies!

Next in our probiotics series, all about making your own fermented vegetables. One of my favorite fermented condiment to make is kimchi. Kimchi is a Korean fermented vegetable condiment that is spicy and sour (and a little funky). It’s typically made with Napa cabbage, some kind of root vegetable like carrot or radish, chile paste and onion. I like to use is as a topping for stir fries and steamed vegetables – anything where you want to add some heat.

Home-made Kimchi Recipe:

Here is what you’ll need:
About one head of cabbage (Napa or regular), chopped (put aside 2 or 3 of the large outside leaves)
1 small carrot, peeled and shredded
1 tsp chile paste or ground cayenne pepper
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
A large mixing bowl

A large jar or container for fermenting – do not use stainless steel or plastic. I use half gallon or full gallon glass mason jars. They also sell ceramic crocks that you can use for fermenting, but those are pretty pricy.
A small piece of cheesecloth and rubber band that fits over your jar.

Something to weigh down your ferment – 2 options are a ziploc bag filled with water or a small mason jar filled with beans.

Now let’s make some kimchi…
Combine all of the ingredients into a bowl and massage with your hands. You’ll want to do this for at least 5 minutes, until the cabbage starts releasing water. You want to release as much water from the veggies as possible.

Pack the mixture into your jar. Make sure there aren’t any large air bubbles. The mixture needs to be completely submerged in liquid. If is isn’t submerged, make a quick brine solution by mixing 2 cups of water with an additional 1/2 tsp sea salt. Cover the mixture with the large leaves you set aside, and put the weight on top. Cover the top of the jar with cheesecloth and rubber band.

Store the jar at room temperature for about 5-7 days. It should begin to produce little air bubbles, this means that the fermentation has begun. At 5 days begin to taste your kimchi. The longer you let it ferment, the more sour it gets – so continue tasting it until it tastes good to you. Don’t worry if there is mold or scum on top, this is called bloom and is completely normal. It’s just surface mold and won’t contaminate the kimchi, just skim it off. If you keep your house pretty cool it could take more than 7 days.

When it’s finished fermenting, put into a clean jar and store in your fridge for up to 6 months.

It’s basically the same process to ferment other veggies too! Get creative! In the photograph I’m also showing a traditional cabbage sauerkraut and a red cabbage apple kraut.

Probiotics 101

designLately, the health world has been all about probiotics. And, for good reason, as we’ll learn further into this post. Have you considered adding probiotics and probiotic rich foods into your diet? Here is some information that may help you.

First, what the heck are probiotics? The term probiotic comes from the terms “pro” (forward) and bios “life” in Latin, meaning that probiotics are life-promoting. Basically, probiotics are live bacteria (and some yeasts) that live in our body. Our bodies literally have billions of “good” bacteria living in our digestive systems – you may have heard this referred to as “gut flora” or your “microbiome.” Each person has a different microflora.

This “good bacteria” helps us digest our food and absorb nutrients effectively. Where do we get probiotics? They are already in our digestive system, and are made from the foods we eat. We make probiotics through eating foods rich in prebiotics. Prebiotics are the food for the good bacteria to feed on.

Why is it so important that our digestive systems run properly? Your body depends on all of its systems working together for optimal health – having one system being off balance can trigger a domino effect of healthy complications. Your digestive system running efficiently is really important for overall well-being as it is closely linked with your immune system. Thus, eating or drinking probiotics not only keeps our digestive system happy, it also helps us with immunity.

Here are my favorite food sources for probiotics:
*Fermented vegetables and/or sauerkraut – There is a difference between fermented sauerkraut/veggies and the kind you find canned or jarred loaded with vinegar, salt and sugar. It does not contain probiotics like the fermented type does. An easy brand to find is called “Bubbies.” We’ll be talking more about this in a future blog post.
*Kimchi (also naturally fermented)
*Fermented pickles
*Coconut water kefir (Good Belly is an easy brand to find, just watch for added sugar in some flavors)
*Kombucha (more on this in next blog post)
*Coconut Yogurt (watch sugar content in most flavored yogurts)
*A probiotic supplement: Brands I have used and would recommend are Dr. Ohhira’s, Jarrow and Rainbow Light.

Gettin’ spicy with cinnamon

One of my favorite spices, especially this time of year, is cinnamon. Cinnamon has been used as food and medicine since ancient times. It comes from the rust colored inner bark of the cinnamon tree.I love it in smoothies, oatmeal, granola, coffee and hot toddies. Luckily, cinnamon has some great health boosting properties.

In addition to being delicious, cinnamon:

*Helps balance blood sugar, which is why it’s so great to add to smoothies and desserts

*Is rich in antioxidants that help reduce inflammation

*Reduces the risk of heart disease and also lowers blood pressure

*Boosts brain health – 2 compounds found in cinnamon appear to inhibit the buildup of the protein that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease

*Keeps your teeth pearly white and your breath smelling fresh with its anti-microbial effects

Cinnamon Grapefruit Tea

1/2 grapefruit
1 stick of cinnamon

Put the grapefruit and cinnamon in a tea pot (or a quart mason jar) and cover with boiling water. Let seep for 10 minutes, then enjoy! I love to drink this during the cold months.

Pantry Makeover!

IMG_0067The change in season is the perfect time to reset your kitchen. You in? Let’s do this!

First, we’re going to clean out all of the crappy, unhealthy stuff. Take a breath, you’ll be fine. I’ll be offering up suggestions on how to restock your kitchen in a bit.

In the pantry and fridge, toss:

  1. Anything with a ton of sugar. Remember we should be eating 20 grams of sugar a day AT THE MOST. You’ll most likely find cereals, crackers, cookies and other sweets and even sauces (like tomato or bbq sauce) have more sugar than you really want. Surprisingly, many nut butters have added sugar as well.
    Instead of cereal, consider a bowl of good old oatmeal. 
  2. Anything with artificial sweeteners. Did you know that there have been no formal studies showing eating/drinking artificial sweeteners help you lose weight? And, some of those chemicals have been thought to trigger digestive issues, headaches, and worse. Not worth it, ditch it.
    f you really crave a sweetener, try maple syrup or raw honey. 
  3. Anything expired. This is probably obvious, but while you’re cleaning out the kitchen, toss old expired stuff.
  4. Anything made with white flour and not whole grains. Think breads and bread products and pasta.
    Go with whole grain and sprouted grain bread, and whole grain pasta or brown rice pasta. 
  5. Margarine and other products with more than 5 ingredients. Margarine has a lot of weird chemical ingredients that are hard to digest. And, it doesn’t really fill you up. Coconut oil or organic grass fed butter are much better choices than margarine. 
  6. Processed meats and cheese. These contain gross chemicals and preservatives, and way more sodium than you need or want.
    Purchase organic, high quality meats and organic dairy. 
  7. Flavored yogurt. Ok, so you should have already tossed these if you read the amount of sugar they contain. But, most people I talk with think of yogurt as a health food. Not so. They usually contain a crazy high amount of sugar.
    Plain yogurt with fresh fruit and raw honey is just as sweet and way healthier. 
  8. Soda, diet soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, bottled tea. We all know that soda has a ton of sugar and other gross chemicals, right? Sports drinks don’t get a pass here. Oh yeah, and those bottled juices? They are also laden with sugar and not really natural since they are from concentrate.
    Better choices are water, water infused with fresh fruit, and coconut water if you work out a lot.

Ok, now it’s time to restock. Let the fun begin!

Add to your fridge & pantry:

  1. Fresh fruits and veggies! The more the better! Choose seasonal and organic when you can.
  2. Essential fridge items: nut milks, whole grain breads and wraps, tofu and tempeh, miso. If you do not eat plant-based: organic grass-fed meats, organic yogurts and cheeses.
  3. Whole grains, whole grain flours, whole-grain pastas…
  4. Beans! There are over 800 varieties, but I like to stock black beans, lentils, and garbanzo. Get both dry and canned.
  5. Canned and jarred vegetables: capers, artichokes, olives, tomatoes, pumpkin puree
  6. Get lots of condiments to flavor your meals: all vinegars, hot sauces, nut & seed butters, Tamari sauce, quality jarred salsas, high-quality olive and coconut oil.
  7. Go crazy on seasonings! Sea salt, spice mixes, dried herbs and spices, nutritional yeast, liquid sweeteners (raw honey, maple syrup)
  8. Gettin’ snackie with dried fruits, nuts & seeds, whole-grain crackers, granola, hummus

Make Your Own: Almond Nut Milk
IMG_1735One of my favorite staples to go DIY with is nut milks. Here is a simple and easy recipe to make your own almond milk. Once you start making your own, you will never buy store-bought again – it is that much better, and cheaper!

This makes about 1 quart of almond milk, which will keep in your fridge for about 5 days.

You can use this basic recipe with other nuts too, like pecans, walnuts, brazil nuts and hazelnuts.

1 cup of raw almonds
4 cups of filtered water
1 nut milk bag


Put the almonds into a large bowl, then cover with water by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight.

Drain the almonds, add to blender with 4 cups filtered water. Blend until milky.

Put a large bowl in your sink. Pour the milk until the nut bag to filter out the almond meal. Done!

Optional: Return the milk to the blender and add a pinch of vanilla powder and 2 pitted dates and blend. This makes a sweeter version of almond milk.

What I’ve been eating lately – june/july

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer! I thought it be fun to write about what foods and beverages I’ve been including in my diet lately. What foods and drinks I gravitate towards always changes with the seasons. Lately, I’ve been really keeping it simple with my meals, and am drinking a lot of smoothies.

Brown Rice Noodles :: My husband and I love to make veggie stir fries with brown rice noodles, then add Sriracha, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or homemade peanut sauce. You can find them in the Asian Section of your grocery store.

Homemade Sauerkraut :: Real sauerkraut is actually pretty easy to make! By real sauerkraut, I mean no canned or pasteurized – if you’re not buying it in the fridge section of the store it’s not the real deal. It’s great for gut health, and it’s pretty darn tasty. I add it to salads, as a topping to stir fries, or own its own as a snack. If you want to DIY  your own, try this recipe.

Coconut Water :: It’s hot out and I live at a high elevation. Mix that with running several times a week, and that equals dehydration! Coconut water has natural electrolytes, and always energizes and revives me. If you ever get a headache on a really hot and sunny day, try drinking some coconut water for relief. I go for plain coconut water, no pulp, whatever’s cheapest.

Cherries :: The organic cherries in season right now are SO GOOD. I can’t stop eating them! Coming in second place are organic strawberries. I love fruit in the summer.

Tiger Nuts: I recently discovered these at a conference. They have a sweet, almost maple, taste and are pretty filling. They are actually not a nut, but a small root veggie – weird! Don’t be scared, try em. I buy this brand.

My new favorite smoothie :: This is inspired by a smoothie recipe in The Plant Power Way cookbook, which I highly recommend. It is so refreshing on a hot day.

Blueberry Basil Smoothie:

1/2” slice of ginger

1/2” slice of beet

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 frozen banana

2 tablespoons hemp seeds

2 handfuls of spinach (or 2 large kale leaves, stripped off stems)

8 basil leaves

1/2 lemon, peeled

2-3 cups water


Beans, beans…

Where do you get your protein? That’s almost always the first question I get asked when I tell people I eat a plant-based diet. The answer? Well, first, protein is in all fruits, vegetables and grains, and most people are eating more than an adequate amount. Most of the protein in my diet comes from beans. I make a big pot of beans every week and build my week’s meals around that.

Even if you don’t eat a plant-based diet, there are some great reasons for eating beans. Beans are loaded with iron, B vitamins, and soluble fiber that may help to lower or maintain your blood cholesterol. If you are trying to lose weight, ditch the saturated fat from animal protein and switch in more beans. They are filling and satisfying. They are also inexpensive, especially if you buy them in dry form.

I encourage you to try making your beans from scratch. It’s so easy, and so much cheaper than buying canned. Let’s say you buy a can of beans for $1.50. You could make 4 times that amount of beans for the same amount of money by buying dried. Even though it takes awhile to cook a pot of beans, you can do it while you’re cooking dinner, cleaning, watching tv, reading, whatever. My favorite beans are black beans and chick peas.

Make a pot of beans…


1 cup of dried beans of your choice (see cooking chart below)


  1.    Rinse.
  2.    Soak for 6 hours or overnight.
  3.    Drain and rinse the beans.
  4.    Place the beans in a heavy pot and add 3 to 4 cups of water.
  5.    Bring to a full boil and skim off the foam.
  6.    Add flavor! Bay leaves or garlic cloves taste great and also add digestibility.
  7.    Cover, and let simmer.

Check beans 30 minutes before the minimum cooking time.

Add 1 teaspoon of unrefined sea salt 10 minutes before the end of cooking time.

  1.    Beans should be tender and soft to squeeze when finished.

Cooking times per 1 cup of dry beans  

Black 60-90 minutes
Lentils 30-45 minutes
Black-eyed peas 60 minutes
Lima beans 60-90 minutes
Cannellini 90-120 minutes
Navy 60-90 minutes
Chickpeas (garbanzos) 120-180 minutes
Pinto 90 minutes
Kidney 60-90 minutes
Split peas  45-60 minutes

Recipe: Black Bean Quinoa Salad

2 cups cooked black beans
1/2 cup of quinoa
1/2 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeno, diced
3 green onions, diced
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lime, juiced

Cook the quinoa in 1 cup of water – bring to a boil, put on low covered for 13 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop and mince all of the veggies & herbs, add to a big bowl with the beans. Mix the dressing.

Once the quinoa is done cooking, let cool. Then add to the bowl with the dressing.

Keeps in the fridge for 4-5 days.

Tiny Mighty Chia Seeds

UnknownChia seeds – these little seeds are pretty popular these days, so I thought we’d take a closer look at chia seeds today. Chia seeds have been used as a source of nutrition for hundreds of years, and are known to be eaten by the ancient Aztecs. Aztec warriors survived on chia seeds – they are light and easy to carry in small amounts. In his book Born to Run, Chris McDougall observes the chia seed as a staple of the diet of the Tarahumara – a Mexican tribe of superathletes who routinely do runs of 50 to 100 miles.

These little black or white seeds are packed with protein, antioxidants, fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. Chia seeds can help restore energy levels and have been used to help combat dehydration. If you’re a child of the 80s you may remember chia seeds from chia pets!

The chia seeds themselves have a pretty subtle flavor. This makes them easy to include in many recipes pretty easily. They form a gel when mixed with liquid, so you can make an easy, healthy pudding. You can also include them in granola, oatmeal and smoothies.

Vanilla Chia Pudding

photo 3
3 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
1 cup almond milk
Pinch of vanilla bean powder
Pinch of cinnamon
1 tsp of maple syrup (optional)
For topping: raspberries, coconut flakes, hemp seeds

THE NIGHT BEFORE: Whisk all of the ingredients (except for toppings). Let sit for a half hour. Whisk again. Transfer to a pint-sized mason jar and store in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, stir and add toppings to taste. I love this topped with fresh berries, with hemp seeds sprinkled on top.

*Requires prep the night before

Eat Healthy on a Budget

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to eat healthy. In fact, focusing on eating whole foods will actually SAVE you money! Yeah, I know you’ve been to Whole Foods (aka Whole Paycheck) and have probably spent way more dollars than you wanted to. But, you can save money, eat a healthy diet, and even while shopping at Whole Foods (if you choose). What’s important is to have a strategy. Knowing what to buy, where to buy and how to buy your food is the key.

This blog series is all about where to budget your money, and where to splurge, when purchasing food. First, we’re starting out with how to shop for healthy food on a budget.

1. Buy fresh produce that is in season. This will always be the cheaper option. It’s very hard to do this during the winter in some areas of the country, but you can at least make this a goal during the spring, summer and fall months when seasonal produce is abundant. A great and wallet-friendly way to do this is to shop at your local farmer’s markets or join a CSA (or Community Supported Agriculture). A CSA is a farm share, you pay a lump sum to a local farm in advance, and they give you veggies from their farm all summer long! For more information, check out:

If you don’t know when fruit or veggie is in season, check out my guide to seasonal produce below. Right now berries and greens are at their peak!

2. Use the Dirty Dozen list when shopping for fresh produce. Conventionally grown produce are sprayed with pesticides and chemical fertilizers that may be toxic to us. Organic product can be pricier, though. The Dirty Dozen list shows the worst offenders when it comes to fruits and veggies – and those items you should always buy organic if you can. The items you can buy conventional, which are cheaper, are the fruits and veggies NOT on that list. For example, to save money, I sometimes do not buy organic bananas, sweet potatoes and avocados. Those are items I eat a lot of, and not buying organic saves me some money. There is a Dirty Dozen app you can download for reference.

3. Purchase whole foods (and stop buying anything in a box). Buy whole grains and beans like quinoa, oats, rice, black beans and lentils and make your own dishes! Most items that you buy in a box have been stripped of much of their nutritional value, have a ton of sodium and/or sugar added to them, and have nasty dyes and preservatives. And, you are paying for the the marketing and advertising that went into to selling that product. Even better & cheaper, buy whole foods like grains and dried beans in bulk.

4. Get back into the kitchen! Did you know that what Americans spend on eating out just overtook what they spend on groceries? Eating out can really be a leak in your budget, and it’s usually not the healthiest – especially if you are eating fast food. You can buy twice as much food for the money at the grocery store. Try to eat and prepare most of your food at home, and save eating out for a treat or for social occasions. And, how much do you spend on your daily latte? Consider making your coffee and tea at home, and save coffeeshop time as a treat.

5. Plan your meals. This is where a lot of people fall short with both their budgeting and eating healthy. When you don’t meal plan, you may end up buying more food than you need, or food that you forget you have, which then goes bad. Instead of throwing your money away and wasting food, be strategic about what you buy.

Here is an easy way to meal plan. Think of the kinds of meals you like to eat. Then plan out a week like this:
Monday – Pasta
Tuesday – Veggie stir fry
Wednesday – Burritos or tacos
Thursday – Salad
Friday – Pizza
Saturday – Soup
Sunday – Grilled food

This strategy should make it easier to make a grocery list, and actually use the food you buy. If you need more help with this, I’ll be offering an online workshop on meal planning soon!

6. Limit impulse spending. Ok, so the more expensive items we buy at the grocery store… they are usually not the items on our list, right? Try limiting yourself to one impulse item each shopping trip. My favorite impulse buy is fresh flowers. And, please tell me you don’t go shopping hungry – we all know that does not end well for your wallet!

7. Make your own. One of my favorite beverages is kombucha tea. It’s a delicious fermented tea flavored with fruit juice that I will be doing a post on soon. Anyhow, it can cost upwards of $4 per bottle! I found tutorials on youtube, and recipes online, on how to make my own kombucha. Now I spend 50 cents or less per bottle! Other fun things you can DYI for cheaper (and healthier without added sugar and preservatives): nut milks, granola, energy bars and salad dressings.

8. Eat more plants. The next time you are shopping, compare the price of any meat, poultry or fish to a package of dried beans (which covers a few meals). Think about eating a few more vegetarian meals a week if you already don’t and making plants the center of your plate. To make them heartier, use beans (any kind), tempeh or tofu. Do not worry about protein as grains, veggies and fruits also have protein!