Daily Rituals I Swear By

Lemon

Since I can remember I have always enjoyed trying out new health regimes, either that I have learned through my friends or from my endless internet searches . Most of the regimes not sticking with me for long, but a small handful of healthy habits have stuck with me throughout the years.

Now I know how difficult it is to make big changes in your life towards creating a healthier existence, especially when you are a busy mother. But sometimes you just need to start by creating small changes in your habits and build from there. Even minor changes can make a big difference in how you look and feel in your daily life.

OilPull

Here are my top daily rituals that I believe can make major changes in your health:

Exercise: this goes without saying. Movement is key to optimal health. I know not everyone enjoys working out, or has time to fit exercise into their daily schedule. But working out doesn’t have to be spent in the gym for hours each day. It can be as simple as taking the stairs, walking around the block during lunch, or going on a hike with your friends. Getting the body moving is all that is important. I don’t do a full workout every day-not by any means. But on my off days, I will turn on Youtube video and do a “5 minute abs” workout, or a 10 minute HIIT routine. Search Youtube for what you like; yoga, dance, stretching…there is a video for everything. No computer, no problem, do 50 jumping jacks, and call it a day. Its really so simple.

Warm Lemon Water: This is one of my favorite rituals, and one that I’ve been doing for years. There are so many amazing benefits of this simple routine that your body will be thanking you for this new habit. It improves your digestion, rids your body of toxins, and boosts your immune system. And if those were not enough reasons-it also clears your skin and helps you lose weight. Amazing! Every morning when you wake, simply warm a small glass of water with half a squeezed lemon. Enjoy.

Oil Pulling: Now this is a habit that is tougher than most for me to keep up, but one I would love to do everyday. As of now, I only find time to do so about three times a week. But even at that, I can feel the benefits its had on my dental health. If you haven’t tried it before, you must wonder what the heck I’m talking about. Oil pulling is an old Ayurvedic practice that uses pure oil as a sort of mouthwash. You take a tablespoon of a pure, organic oil (coconut, olive or sesame oil) and swish around in your mouth for 20 minutes. I have found that not being able to communicate with my toddler for 20 whole minutes is nearly impossible, so I only do 10 minutes each time. But it seems to do the trick for me. The benefits include: removing bacteria in your mouth-reducing cavities and bad breath, decreaseing inflammation, detoxing the body and whitening teeth. Just remember, don’t swallow it, and don’t spit it down the sink (spit it in the trash). If you want more information, you can read here.

Dry Brushing: Ok, I know I’m asking you to do yet another thing in your already busy morning, but this takes 5 minutes max (3 if you move quickly like I do). Grab a natural body brush, hop in the shower, and before you turn on the water, stand in the tub and begin brushing your skin. Start at your feet and work in circular strokes up towards your heart. Next do your midsection, then your arms, then your back. Once you reach your back, you will do long strokes down your back. Then turn on the water, and shower as usual. As you know, your skin is the largest organ in your body, and much of your body’s elimination happens through your skin. So dry brushing is a must to keep your lymphatic system working properly and unclogging those pores. It also makes your skin soft as a baby’s bum, and reduces cellulite-yay for that!

Shot of Apple Cider Vinegar: Sounds disgusting, but its really not that bad. To reap the benefits, you really only need a tablespoon a day (you can mix with juice or water if preferred). The benefits include: boosting your immunity, increasing your energy levels, improving digestion and helping with weight loss. Just remember, only use raw, unpasteurized vinegar.

Meditation: This habit is a new one to me, and one I’m not either good at or diligent about. But yet, I still think is very important and worth mentioning. I once heard someone say how most healthy people spend countless hours improving their physical health, but spend no time improving their mental health. This statement stuck with me, and was the catalyst to giving meditation a try. With that said, I am no expert, and have a lot to learn still. But as a beginner, I have found the best way to incorporate a little quiet time in my life is by doing it in the morning before beginning my day. Once I hear Berlin start to stir, I turn on a meditation app and spend five minutes focusing on being present. My app of choice is Omvana, its simple and has guidance mediation for beginners.

Hope these habits have been helpful for you. Please let me know if you start using any, would love to hear how you feel after doing so.




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Portrait of the Week

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“A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

Berlin: She is nearing three years old now, and we have yet to get this pacifier out of her mouth. In all fairness, I don’t think we have given it a valiant effort yet. But even whisper the words “no more paci,” and the kid flips out.

I am totally obsessed with extreme close-ups of Berlin. I mean really, at one point later in life, does anyone look this amazing close-up?! I can’t help but capture her soft, delicate, perfect skin and features. Let’s hope she is one of the lucky few that holds onto this delicate, unscathed skin.

 

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Respect Please

Respect

Its not very often that I express my personal views on this forum. Overall, I try to keep this space very neutral and more of a happy, healthful space. But the past few months the conversations and statements that have been floating around the media, both in the news and throughout social media, have been quite disturbing to me. And at last, I must vent.

When I first became a mother, one of the benefits I valued so much was the sense of community. I felt I was welcomed with open arms into a loving, nurturing, and considerate community. There were so many encouraging places I could turn to for support: my neighborhood mothers’ group,  online support groups, and often times, through my friends on Facebook. I’ve always found all of these forums to be a safe and positive place to discuss serious (and not so serious) hurdles we all face as parents.

But as of late, this feeling of positivity and encouragement has diminished. The most sacred spaces I once enjoyed, are now overshadowed with negativity and hatred towards other fellow parents. Those forums I considered openminded and nurturing, and those friends whose opinions I highly valued, are no longer. I’ve become disenchanted and disappointed by the supportive “parents club” I once so valued.

My disappointment began the day of the measles outbreak at Disneyland back in December (in case you have been living off the grid lately, here is an article posted shortly after the outbreak occurred). This outbreak created fear in all parents, those with vaccinated children and those with not. All parents alike were worried about the health of their children and were looking to their support systems for guidance. But what I found was not a loving, safe place {created by the same parents who hype up this false sense of community}, but hatred and judgement towards other concerned parents.

Many forums I relied on for intelligible conversation became immature and downright degrading. Comments were made from one parent to another that they should be “shipped to an island and left for dead,” or told that they “didn’t care about their children.” Then there was endless name-calling: “stupid,” “ignorant,” and “liars.” I’m sorry, but since when is it acceptable behavior to spew hate and discriminate against other fellow parents (or people in general)? I find it hard to believe that a lot of these people (who are my “friends”) would dare say such disrespectful comments such as these if they were face to face with a parent of an opposing belief.

This post is not to discuss vaccinations, either for them or against. It is about respect. It is about common curtesy. It is to remind every parent out there about what it means to be tolerant and supportive of one another. And it is a reminder to represent the type of behavior you want to role model for your children-one that does not allow hatred and bullying towards others. It is a reminder to practice compassion towards others. And lastly, it is to remind you that you will never understand another parent’s situation until you are in their shoes. With understanding, knowledge, and compassion, I would suggest getting to know them before passing judgment on their decisions.

It is my hope that all parents will take a step back and remember what it is to respect one another. I long for that sense of community I once felt, and I do wish I’m able to find it again.



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Portrait of the Week

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“A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

Berlin: Last week we experienced the most beautiful, summer-like weather. We went to the beach, enjoyed some ice cream, and ran through the sprinklers. Pretty much had an awesome week.

 

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Portrait of the Week

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“A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

Berlin: She has gotten more joy out of the Easter basket confetti than the obscene amount of toys she received. Note to self, skip the toys and just buy a bunch of colorful confetti next year.

 

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Banana Hemp Pancakes

Hemppancakes101

Every morning, first thing upon rising, Berlin asks for pancakes. Originally I was using a simple store-bought gluten free pancake mix, but then as time went on, I realized how creative you can be with pancakes. The best part being, that you can basically sneak anything into them, and your little one will be none the wiser. In our house, Ryan has owned the title of pancake master, making delicious, buttery, Danish pancakes.  But I now own the title for most creative pancakes, ones that Berlin will scarf up without hesitation (no matter how much healthy crap I load into them).

I’ve been experimenting with various pancake recipes for the past year now (I can’t believe I’ve only posted one). I should just change this blog to a pancake blog and post nothing but pancakes from here on out. But I’ll save you the despair, and post only this one (for now…).

Banana Hemp Pancakes
1 1/2 medium bananas
3 pasture-raised organic eggs
1 tablespoon Organic Hemp seeds
Splash of Pure Vanilla extract
Organic Coconut oil

Whisk eggs in a medium mixing bowl, then add the bananas and mash slightly (don’t over mash the bananas, leave kind of chunky). Next add all other ingredients (except the coconut oil) and mix well. Heat the griddle, add a spoonful of coconut oil and pour the mix onto the grill.

I make small dollar size pancakes for Berlin, but do any size you choose. To serve, I either put a small smathering of jam on them or serve them plain. The bananas already add sweetness, so there is no need for syrup.

Hemppancakes102

In my post last week, I mentioned why I believe you should only buy grass-fed cheese and butter. I’m going to stress how important it is again, and why you should only buy pasture-raised, organic eggs. Yes, they are expensive (from $7-10 a dozen), but they are well worth the investment (especially if you’re feeding them to your children).

First I’ll quickly explain the difference between all the different labels you see on egg cartons these days (mostly all advertising BS). Cage-free & Free-range are popular labels used lately, and both labels are far from what you think they mean. Neither of the chickens for either labels are truly “cage-free.” In fact, there are no regulations on either, so the hens that are supposedly “free” to roam and eat insects in there natural habitat, could in fact, only be outside for one minute a day. This is the same for eggs labeled “organic” as well (unless pasture-raised organic).

So you are wondering, why is this such a big deal? Well, for one, its inhumane. These hens are subject to forced molting (starving the hens to lay more eggs), beak trimming, and overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. Plus, the non-organic hens are given antibiotics and fed a diet based on GMO soy and corn. Furthermore, hens that are not allowed to forage in their natural habitat, and peck for bugs (their natural diet), will produce substantially less nutritious eggs (organic or not).

If that is not enough to convince you, here is an image of how “cage-free” chickens live. This is how a chicken should live. I know pasture-raised eggs are expensive, but unfortunately so is the cost of our health. When eggs are eaten properly (mostly raw), they provide a substantial amount of nutrients. One more thing to note, eggs get a bad rap for being unhealthy or causing high cholesterol. But its not the egg itself, its the quality of the egg, and how its prepared. So consider buying your eggs from a local farm (or the farmers market) next time you shop, and ask the merchants how the hens are raised. Or you can always raise a chicken yourself, I’m considering this idea for our family. I think it would be great fun for Berlin!



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Portrait of the Week

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“A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

Berlin: She has been in an incredibly good mood as of late. Screeching (in the highest pitch you can possibly imagine), running around, and be a total goof. Nothing better than a happy child.

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Mindful Mama

MindfulMama104

Truth be told, I never really saw myself as a stay-at-home mother. Prior to having Berlin I was insanely career focused, almost to a fault, and admittedly had lofty career goals.

Even while pregnant with Berlin, I could never see myself walking away from my career. I imagined myself jumping right back into the madness, straight off maternity leave: traveling the world, working crazy hours, and basically being the total career centered person I was prior to giving birth.

But as fate would have it, I was laid off from my job while on maternity leave, and was literally handed the amazing opportunity of staying home with my daughter. At first I was deeply petrified about the idea of being a stay-at-home parent. After all, my whole adult life, all I had ever known was the corporate grind. But thankfully, I’m blessed with a terribly supportive husband who convinced me that staying home and raising our daughter was of the utmost importance.

Now as Berlin is getting older, and will be starting preschool in the Fall, I have toyed with the idea of going back to work. I’ve interviewed a few places and kept my options open, but ultimately, my heart isn’t in it any longer.

Since I can remember, I’ve always been passionate about health and fitness, and knew that if I ever took the plunge and switched careers, it would be to follow this passion. At this stage in my life, being happy and healthy, and helping others achieve the same, is most important to me.

So without further ado, please allow me to introduce: Mindful Mama.

I’m currently accepting new clients. So for all you San Francisco mamas who want to get back in shape; in a supportive, kid-friendly environment; please feel free to contact me.

If you’re not a mama, no problem, I love to train all women. So if you want to tone up for that big event, or you just need help losing those last five pounds, I’m here for you as well.

MindfulMama105



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Portrait of the Week

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“A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

Berlin: We attempted a hike while in Tahoe this past weekend, but we got about a half a mile before we decided to call it quits. Carrying a twenty-something pound toddler uphill (minus a pack) is not a wise idea. While our backs were killing us, Berlin quite enjoyed it. Can’t say I would mind getting carried around all the time either.

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Raw Cheddar Crackers

ChedderCrackers

When Berlin first started eating solids, I swore I was not going to feed her the typical toddler snacks; Cheerios, Goldfish crackers, Juice boxes…I stuck with most of my promises, but I eventually caved on the cheddar cracker snacks, opting for Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies rather than the typical Goldfish. I foolishly tricked myself into thinking Annie’s was the healthier option for Berlin, but it turns out they aren’t much better than the alternative (consisting of saturated oils and hidden MSG). But since it only took one taste for Berlin to be hooked, I was forced to come up with a healthier option-one that didn’t leave me feeling guilt ridden after the bag was polished off.

So I did a little research and came across this recipe for Homemade Cheddar Cheese Crackers. I then did some tweaking of the ingredients, making it a protein packed, gluten free option. Then voila! With very little effort, I had a tasty, healthy replacement for a favorite toddler snack!

Raw Cheddar Crackers
1 cup Quinoa Flour
1 tablespoon ground flax
Dash of Himalayan salt
1 teaspoon sodium free Herbamare
2 1/2 cups Organic {Grass Fed} Raw Cheddar Cheese (I use Organic Valley)
5 tablespoons Organic {Grass Fed} Raw Butter
Approx 1 tablespoon Olive Oil for dough

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine all ingredients (minus the butter and oil) in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Then add the butter and blend until a dough forms. Add a little olive oil, until a firm pastry dough is formed.

Next rollout out dough on parchment paper and use a cookie cutter of choice to form crackers. Place parchment paper on cookie sheet and bake for approx 10-13 minutes. Watch closely, as they burn quickly.

ChedderCrackers102

You may be wondering why I substituted raw cheddar cheese and butter for your standard organic options. As you already know, I myself, don’t eat any dairy, and haven’t for years. I originally planned on doing the same with Berlin, but quickly realized it was going to be a challenging promise to keep (while possible, I wasn’t up for the challenge with a toddler). I eventually gave into serving her dairy, but since then have done extensive research, and found that raw, grass-fed sources are absolutely the best option when it comes to eating dairy (or meats, or eggs for that matter). In general, most dairy (even the organic options) are from grain-fed cows, mostly consisting of the grain corn. If you know anything about cows, you will know that cows aren’t grain-eating animals, they are naturally grass-feeding animals. As with other animals, when given an abnormal diet, their system is disrupted, and their natural pH levels are changed. Leaving you, the consumer, with severely, unhealthy milk and other cow provided food options. Cows that are only served a natural, grass-fed diet, on the other hand, are happy, healthy cows (ha! that is a commercial isn’t it!?) and produce cheese that is naturally higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamins A, D, and E. Plus they are free from all antibiotics and growth hormones that are causing mass destruction in our bodies these days.

I will get off my nutrition soapbox and just go ahead and say that you should give these a try for your sweet, little ones. But I will warn you in advance, due to using quinoa flour, they are quite crumbly. I had quite a mess of crumbs that followed Berlin everywhere she went (kid can’t sit still while she eats!). If you want to enjoy them for yourself, I would suggest adding some more spices, perhaps some onion or garlic powder to give it some kick. Enjoy!




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