Can a vegan diet make you happy?

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At least one day of the week, make it a vegan day!

That is what I asked myself today, after finishing a wonderful vegan dish for lunch. Is it possible that our wellbeing, our state of mind and thus our mood can be affected from how we eat and what we eat? The cliché expression “you are what you eat” is in everyone’s mouth, spat out as a great argument when one has to defend their nutritional choices. Yes, we are what we eat to an extent that we don’t even realise.

I am flirting dangerously with veganism, this is a result of eating more Alkaline and dealing once and for all with pcos, migraines and skin issues. I am not milk intolerant, but I find that nothing beats a glass of creamy almond milk! I am not gluten intolerant, but I noticed after a few days that eating gluten-free foods, I felt I could climb a mountain! Surges of constant energy, improved skin, better mood, better sleep are only a few of the things I have noticed happening to me.

Now, back to my question on veganism and happiness….I used to be a vegetarian, a miserable one, through my teens and early 20s simply because I didn’t know what I was doing. I ended up feeling weak, prone to migraines and irregular menstruation was the norm. Eating animal protein improved my stamina, made my cheeks pink again but, still was not the ideal nutrition for me. Have you noticed that vegans and vegetarians have to use their creativity and imagination to creat a dish more than those who like their meat and salad?

I am still eating meat. However, it is not my main thing, it becomes less and less important in my diet. I discovered that a plant-based diet is far more satisfying to my palate, I get to eat more fresh, unprocessed food and I get challenged doing it! Soups, salads, pies, dips and sauces, fruits, nuts, pulses and much more are keeping me happy. And by writing this sentence now, I get it why I am happy. I am happy with the colours of fresh food I have on my plate daily, happy with the variety of flavours, textures and flavours in my mouth, happy with my body that after a long time, is in a good place.

The other challenge is being sugar- and gluten-free. Food, sugar like many other things is an addiction. Feeling upset, angry? Let’s have something that will comfort us….usually it’s an unhealthy treat. So, there you have it. I am happy because I eat more close to a vegan diet. Will I go completely vegan? Only time will tell!

Are you a vegetarian or a vegan? What made you become one and how do you feel in terms of mood and health? Please, share with me.

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When temptation strikes your door

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Can we resist temptation? How?

It usually starts like this: the feeling is that things are running smoothly, you finally have managed to live your days and be grateful for each one of them, when….when temptation strikes your door. Have you ever had the feeling that you made progress on something and that exact moment, something comes up to stir you up inside, tempt you to repeat old footsteps that no longer serve you? Yes, and that I call it ‘reverse polarity’. As soon as you are at a still point with the thought of repeating those old footsteps, then a reverse ‘pulling’ begins. We are being sucked into “what could happen again if….?” Our mind races with a thousand questions waiting to be answered so we can decide which way we are to be pulled, forward or backward.

What is fascinating and also a fact: we are blissfully unaware of temptations lurking around us to the moment we are faced with anything that might set us backwards based on previous negative experiences. This is the testing time for anyone of us. Testing time, to reevaluate our needs, put our instincts to the test, and forget to breathe. Yes, we all forget to breathe when overwhelmed. So, when temptation strikes my door, I make it clear to myself to first and foremost breathe. The rest can follow…..breathing connects us to the here and now, making it hard for any temptation to win us over, even momentarily. Then, I visualise myself being happy and content, just being me. Time for decision-making becomes less stressful when starting with a positive image of ourselves. I would like to highlight that feeling positive does not mean ignoring reality.

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Which way?

Temptation is always present, to wake us up from old patterns that no longer serve us, to make us better, to help us see a bigger picture of who we are, etc.  Temptation is so closely interlinked with emotions, feelings, traumatic experiences or situations that did not work for us in the past and we want to rid of the memories or even physically leave behind those times. Temptation and Test start with the same letter. So does Truth and Time. Thanks to temptation I managed to evolve and get a tiny bit closer to where I’d like to be now. Thanks to breathing, positive visualisation I manage to stay true to myself, allowing time to reveal what is the best thing to do. No rushing, no running backwards and especially not staying without breathing.

How do you deal when temptation strikes your door?

Spiced Golden Turmeric Milk – drinking to your health

Very relevant to my recent Curcuma blog post!

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turmeric milkThis is my science-updated take on an old Ayurvedic treatment beloved of Indian grandmothers. Treatment for what, you may wonder. Just about everything. Although clinical evidence supporting its cure-all reputation is scanty (not many big studies have been funded), what is around looks very promising. Very promising indeed. And with 14 centuries of culinary and medicinal use, perhaps grandmother really does know best.

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Basics to a happy nose

Most of the people I know, including me, have had for a period in their lives congested sinuses resulting to bad mood, prolonged periods of feeling tired (we don’t get enough oxygen for the whole body to relax and recharge), sleepiness, snoring, apnea, runny nose, recurring sinus problems, headaches, migraines, hay fever the list can, of course, go on.

The reason I am writing about our noses is very important. As a student and follower of Ayurveda, I learnt that breathing is health, if obstructed then imbalance is about to occur. Let’s focus on the breathing for a while. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to inhale and exhale through our nose, we instantly calm down, get grounded. Now imagine trying to inhale with a blocked nose. The flow of breathing is fragmented, creating tension.

Since Ayurveda is literally the study (Ayur) of life (veda) I would like to make this connection: Life=breathing, Breathing=Life. One of the basics to maintain healthy sinuses is Pranayama, in Sanskrit it means “extension of the pran or breath”. It is a simple breathing technique used by many for relaxation, mediation and of course better breathing.

Besides Pranayama, Ayurveda provides simple yet very effective solutions for decongesting the sinuses and eliminating other imbalances that might stem from just a blocked nose and bad breathing.

This is what I do to decongest my nose that has immediate results:

Neti pot ideal for travelling & saline solution

Neti pot ideal for travelling & saline solution

-Nasal douche, yes, nasal douche. A clean nose is a happy nose. With nasal douche, sinuses get cleaned gently from dust, pollen, mucous that has built up over time, so it is a simple yet effective way to clean thoroughly our sinuses. I remember how relieved I felt after daily nasal douching when I had acute sinusitis.  For this, a neti pot and saline solution (most pharmacies sell it).

Nasya Oil for a happy nose

Nasya Oil for a happy nose

-Nasya oil. I was introduced to nasya oil by Sabro, my wonderful Ayurveda massage teacher two years ago. Since then, it has become my best friend. It is the first thing I use when I wake up and the last thing I do before going to bed.  The base is sesame oil combined with specific herbs. The benefits of using this oil are many:

  • When with sinusitis, nasya oil helps to ‘break’ the sinus infection, blocking further formation of bacteria that create thick pus or mucous.
  • When suffering from hay fever, it oleates the nasal passages creating a protective film so it is difficult for pollen or dust to pass through the nose and the throat.
  • When suffering from insomnia, it can help alleviate the feeling of ‘not being able to sleep’.
  • When having the sensation of dry nose, especially during winter time, it keeps the nose in tip-top condition!
  • It helps a lot with headaches and migraines. Personally speaking, using nasya oil and practicing pranayama, I found migraine’s intensity subsided dramatically.

All you need is a good quality nasya oil. Use 2-3 drops of the oil on each nostril in the morning. Massage lightly the side of the nose while breathing deeply and slowly. Do the same before going to bed. If you are not consistent with trying new things, try using the oil for 5 days. It is a good time indicator to notice how your nose feels, how your breathing feels and how your overall mood and energy have changed.

If you are looking for an effective alternative to nose sprays, pills, recurring blocked nose, then try what Ayurveda offers.

I would be interested to know if you tried these simple, yet powerful basics for a happy nose!

Learning about Curcuma, the yellow healing power

When I was a student of ayurvedic massage I started to experiment with herbs and spices. The oils I used for massaging were cooked with herbs and Curcuma, Turmeric or simply ‘yellow root’ was one of them.

In Ayurveda Curcuma is one of the most important herbs because it is very, very, very powerful! It has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and cardio-protective properties. All this is not just theory, but more studies confirm how powerful this herb is.

Curcuma stimulates blood circulation, oxygenates our blood, protects us from various types of cancer and keeps our heart healthy and strong. Using curcuma in my food became obvious. However, it has been a year since I started using this herb again regularly.

I love its vibrant yellow colour, reminding me of sunny days, making me smile instantly. The ultimate way to uplift your spirits.

How I use Curcuma:

-In a glass of warm water, 1tsp of curcuma powder and a bit of honey or agave syrup. A great tonic for women with pcos.

-In my curries.

-In my salads, I sprinkle a bit on top.

-In dressings:

My dressing recipe 1 tsp of curcuma powder in 120 grs goat or sheep yoghurt. Add a bit of parsley or coriander, season with pepper add a hint of olive oil, some Himalayan salt and mix well. I use it both in my salads or as a dipping sauce for raw vegetables. Keep it in the fridge up to 4-5 days.

Turmeric sun dressing   A good recipe that is gluten-free. I tried it and I love it with fish for its fresh lemony taste. Below a photo of the dressing.

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Sunshine in a jar!

A friend of mine recently said that is using Curcuma daily on her muesli breakfast. Clever idea, that I am going to try.

The bottom line is that nature is full of powerful herbs, super foods we can make use of to heal, nourish our bodies and souls. Like my grandmother used to say: “Nature is the best and greatest pharmacy”. How right she was!

Ten interesting ways to use coconut oil

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It is so interesting to see how many uses there are for the wonderful and tasty coconut oil. Until recently, all I knew about coconuts was coconut water, which is rich in Potassium (K), Sodium (Na), Calcium (Ca), Phosphorus (P) and Magnesium (Mg). When I discovered that my love for coconut water had a double bonus, a great thirst quencher and an amazing source of electrolytes that help our body go about its daily business, I was hooked! I had to know more about coconuts, period.

Minerals and trace minerals are important for the function of our organs, our metabolism, blood quality just to name a few. Coconut water and coconut oil are essentially our saviours.

Here is how I use coconut oil:

-Remove make-up (even waterproof make-up products) and dirt. A wonderful face cleanser that leaves the skin, clean and supple.

-Moisturise the face, especially dry areas. A great moisturizer for cold winter days.

-Heal eczema, neurodermatitis, or skin rashes. Its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties are very powerful.

-Eye cream, as it is a great fighter against free-radicals thus, wrinkle-fighter!

-Hair and scalp saviour. Booster of moisture for dry, brittle hair. Relief for dry, flaky and itchy scalp.

-Body moisturiser. Dry skin is in the past. Try it if you also have dry heels, elbows or knees. It is my ultimate body salve!

-Use it instead of shaving foam. A small amount goes a long way, both for ladies and gentlemen!

-In my tea: a spoonful of fragrant coconut oil in my herbal tea leaves me refreshed and restored.

Oil pulling for healthy gums and teeth and a fantastic way to rid of the toxins in the body.

-Cooking, highly resistant to oxidation at high heats.

If you are intrigued to find out more about using coconut oil and why it could be (well, actually it is) beneficial to your health and well-being go to this link.

Let me know if you have tried any of the above ways to use coconut oil and the results! Also share with me other ways for using coconut oil!

Learning how to make almond butter and using it well (quick recipe)

Visiting health food stores has always been my thing. Like a child in a candy store, I am able to spend a good couple of hours checking bio products, rare tea selections, Ayurvedic products and lately, raw nut butters. Anyone who is a regular on organic shops can tell you that most products are not cheap, quite frankly they cost a lot!

Shocking how good things, nutritious things that are certified organic can really drain your pockets! So, this is an attempt to save money, taste 100% fresh organic things (raw nut butter) that I can make at home.

A few things on raw nut butter and why they are good for us:

-it is very versatile ( can be used as a simple spread on your toast, as a filling for tarts and so many more)

-it is highly nutritious (high in ‘good fats’, in riboflavin, folate, vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acids, niacin and low in cholesterol)

-it is a good source of magnesium and manganese. This butter also has phosphorous and is a good source of protein.

-it is super alkaline for those on an alkaline diet

-almonds  give you lasting energy to get through the day

-some studies mention that almond butter can help you lose weight, yes that’s right!

One teaspoon of almond butter leaves me satisfied, stops my sugar cravings as it is food that does not allow sugar spikes in the blood plus I get minerals, good fats and delicious taste to support my system.

Basically from what I found out from other health food bloggers there are two versions of almond butter: 1-raw almond butter 2-roasted almond butter. I opted for the number one, as I wanted to experiment with something less complicated.

Here’s what I did to get my wonderful, creamy and delicious raw almond butter:

Step 1-Put 150 grams-250 grams of organic almonds into your food processor with the ‘S’ blade.

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Step 2-Start whizzing away, for about a minute, at first your almonds will turn into almond meal.

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Step 3-Continue processing to the point that you see that the almonds start to move towards the sides of the processor. Keep processing, but every a couple of minutes stop to push down the almonds and keep on processing.

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Step 4-After a while, about 7-6 minutes your almond meal starts to get clumpy. Keep processing! The more you continue the more clumpy and sticky your almonds will get!

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Step 5-After 12-14 minutes, depends on the processor you are using (usually at around the 10-12 minute mark) your almonds start to release more oil and your almond meal starts to resemble more like almond butter! Continue processing!!! At this point I like to add a pinch of Himalayan salt (totally optional) and 1 tbs pure cold pressed coconut oil (also optional).

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Step 6-After another couple of minutes your almonds will release more oils and you will get a very creamy, smooth consistency. And voila! You have almond butter. If you taste it, it will still be warm from the processing. Store it in a glass jar and keep it in the fridge. When you want to use it, simply take it out for a few minutes and then you can use it on your toast.

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Today, I used my almond butter for a vegan breakfast:

Bananas almond butter split!

Take a medium-sized banana, cut it along its spine and you get two wonderful pieces. Now, spread on top of each banana piece a spoonful of almond butter, then sprinkle with cinnamon and coconut shavings. It is super nutritious, super alkaline and very, very tasty.

I like small bites, so I cut my banana into four pieces instead

I like small bites, so I cut my banana into four pieces instead

Try it, and let me know if you liked this breakfast idea!