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Creamy (Vegan) Basil Salad Dressing

Basil Salad Dressing

When I think of summer I think of basil (and watermelons, biking on the trails, iced tea and dresses). I cannot get enough of the sweet, slightly spicy green herb. It’s excellent in pesto, in stir fries and in any Italian dish. Today though, we are talking about salad dressing. When you are in the mood for something a little more exciting than olive oil and lemon, I suggest making a batch of this and keeping it in your fridge.

This basil salad dressing is creamy, sweet and salty with that delicious signature basil flavor.

Basil Salad Dressing Vegan

Ingredients

1 cup cashews (soaked for at least six hours)
1 cup basil
3/4 cup water (start with 1/2 cup of water and add more depending on desired consistency)
1 teaspoon mustard
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (or lemon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper

Instructions

It’s best to soak the cashews for at least six hours to get them soft and more digestible. Once soaked, rinse the cashews. Combine all of the ingredients plus about 1/2 cup of water in a blender or food processor. Blend until super creamy. Add more water if you want it more runny (I used 3/4 cup). Taste and add any ingredients if desired. I noticed that for some salads I wanted a little more flavor (add more apple cider vinegar or lemon and mustard) if needed. Store leftovers in the fridge.

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Flowers are Blooming!

happy spring

I am writing this from an Airbnb apartment in Slovenia. The sun is finally peeking through the clouds after a few rainy days. The window is open and the outdoors are calling my name. Looks like I should go for a walk. I’m not one to talk considering I skipped winter this year by going to Asia, but spring always feels like a new beginning. As the animals come out from hiding, the trees start growing leaves again and flowers start blooming, it feels like a perfect time to start a new chapter, or create a new life-supporting habit.

While my spring is going to be spent in Europe (Budapest, Slovenia, Barcelona, France and Berlin) I still want to focus on a few simple habits.

1. Drink green juice!

If I were home I would be using my juicer daily to juice green vegetables! Green juice is such a great thing to drink each morning and spring is a great time to really focus on detoxing the liver. I’m hoping I can find some juice bars that don’t cost $8 a glass…

If I can’t find green juice I will buy lemons and make lemon water. Easy and simple for traveling.

2. Write down some mini goals

Every second is a chance to create new healthy habits, so start now! Write down some mini goals. Let this video motivate you. Are you an OWW or a WOW? I’m an OWW…

3. Do more yoga and walking

Hotel room yoga isn’t ideal, but can be done. Walking around the cities is easy and enjoyable. Especially when I get a treat from a bakery or gelatoria.  ;)

What do you want to do this spring?

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On The Road- Road Trip Essentials

Road Trip

I know this is premature, but when I think of summer (I know it’s barely spring, but that does mean summer is coming our way!) I think of road trips. There is something exhilarating about being on the open road, watching the landscape whizz by and getting to see different things. Next time you are on a road trip here are some tips for a fun and healthy trip.

{This is a repost from my previous blog, I thought it was useful so wanted to share here}

I am not a big fan of driving long hours, but I do find that there are some road trip essentials that make the trip better. Here is what I need in my car.

Click to read more!

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5 Ways to Reduce Menstrual Cramps

Many teenage girls and women in their 20′s and 30′s suffer from painful periods each month. Some experience mild discomfort while others have to deal with debilitating pain. There are many reasons for period pain and sometimes it’s hard to diagnose, but if you do have pain, it’s good to see if you can get to the root of the problem to reduce menstrual cramps and pain.

Cramps2

Some causes of menstrual pain:

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Cramp Bark Tincture for Menstrual Cramps

To learn about the causes and solutions of menstrual pain see my reducing menstrual cramps blog post.

Cramp Bark Tincture

My well used cramp bark tincture!

Before you get to the root of your problem you will want something in your toolbox that will fix the pain right now! Cramp bark tincture is an excellent solution for that. As it’s name implies, cramp bark is a root that when turned into a tea or tincture can reduce cramps. How does it do it? It decreases muscle spasms in your body, and since cramps are (usually) caused by uterine spasms, it lowers pain immensely. I am extremely impressed with this product. I had been a sufferer of menstrual cramps for eight years until I discovered cramp bark . My reason for cramps is endometriosis, which I discovered I had a few years ago. Amazingly, cramp bark tincture has decreased my menstrual cramps from an pain level eight to a two! I used to take Ibuprofun (NSAIDS) each month to control my pain. Since taking cramp bark I haven’t had to take one NSAIDS for the past nine months! Incredible.

How to Take it

From my first sign of period pain, I take a dropper full (about 30 drops) in a small amount of water. I immediately notice a difference, my lower belly feels a little warm and the pain goes away. Sometimes 5 or 6 hours go by until I start feeling more cramping and I take another dropper full. During the first day of my period (when the pain is usually the worst) I end up taking probably three droppers. The second day I might take one dropper full. Everyone is different, so figure out what you need. You can take it every 30 minutes if needed.

Cramp bark is not known to have any bad side-effects, of course start out with a caution to see if your body reacts positivity to it and don’t take large doses.

Bonus!

Two more two solutions for easing menstrual cramps are ginger tea and a hot water bottle. The heat from the hot water bottle is soothing and ginger tea helps with pain. To make ginger tea just cut up a few chunks of ginger and boil it in water. Sip slowly.

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All About Five Pounds

{This was written a few months back, but I felt embarrassed to press publish. In trying to be more authentic and true to myself, I am now posting this}

pizza

Eating while on the road is a challenge, especially if you are traveling for eight months like I am. It’s hard to do too much “damage” when on a week long vacation, but eating out three meals a day for eight months can take it’s toll.

Thankfully I have been traveling to places that have a large variety of healthy food. Thailand has fresh fruit cut and sold on the streets, not to mention vegetable curry and rice noodles. The rest of South East Asia follows suit, with plenty of gluten, dairy and sugar free options. Regardless, it’s hard to eat out so much. Each dish has extra salt, sugar and fat, even if you think you are just getting a nice vegetable dish, chances are you will be served an oily, salty and yes, delicious dish.

I haven’t even started talking about the temptations! Walk around any market and you see deep-fried foods and desserts. Every time I look at a menu (at least two times a day) I am facing a plethora of temptations: pizza, dessert, fried foods and more; my will power can only last so long. Needless to say, my pants are tight (almost too tight) and I’ve gained about 5-7 pounds, which is no fun when you have a limited amount of clothes in your suitcase. There are only so many times that I can wear the same comfy leggings. Something has got to give!

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One Simple Tip For Better Digestion

Favor drinks for an afternoon treat, or sometime away from your meals.

Favor drinks for an afternoon treat away from your meals.

Go to any restaurant and you will be asked “what would you like to drink what that?” Menus at restaurants have a long list of drinks to include with our meal and 85% of them are cold with extra ice and full of sugar (though sugar is another topic). This is not limited to restaurants, when people eat at home, most would not consider having a meal without a tall glass of water (usually cold) or some other liquid. Unfortunately, this habit is contributing to poor digestion.

A few signs of a sluggish digestion:

  1. Gas or bloating
  2. Sluggishness after eating
  3. Constipation (or irregular bowel movements)
  4. Ance

Good digestion is critical part of a well function body. Digestion takes place in the stomach; this is where enzymes, bile and everything else comes together to break down the food solids that we have ingested. After chewing (hopefully slowing and properly) the body then gets to work to get the solids moving through the intestines. When we drink a full glass of water with the meal we are diluting the enzymes and stomach acid needed for digestion. Without this strong concentration of enzymes and stomach acid, the stomach cannot properly digest the food, leading to the discomforts listed above. Add to this mix ice-cold liquids and it slows down digestion even more. Think of your digestion like a fire (agni as they call it in Ayurveda). Fire and water don’t mix very well, especially cold water.

Solution

Don’t worry, you can still have liquids, just make sure you sip them throughout the meal. Favor warm or hot liquids, such as hot water, tea or just drink room temperature water. If wine is important for you, just sip and enjoy it slowly. Also, don’t drink a big glass before your meal or about an hour after.

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Spotlight on Parsnips

parsnips

When was the last time you ate a parsnip? Probably a while ago, if ever. I like parsnips! This is probably not something you hear everyday. Sadly, parsnips seem to take the back stage to other root vegetables, namely carrots, beets and potatoes.Parsnips and turnips seemed to, at least in my mind, get put together in the same category. And while they might look similar, I personally do not like turnips, but will happily eat parsnips. Turnips are more watery and astringent while parsnips are creamy and sweet. They remind me of a mix between a sweet potato and a carrot.

Since I am not near a kitchen, I’ve rounded together two parsnip recipes for all of you. Parsnips are a great winter vegetable. They taste amazing when roasted and are a wonderful grounding and warming root vegetable. I have picked recipes that are similar to ones that my husband and I have enjoyed at home in the past.

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What We Can Learn From SE Asians

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m on a eight month journey around SE Asia and other countries. My husband and I have spent the last 3.5 months in SE Asia, enjoying the weather, food, sights and activities. Whenever I travel I’m always fascinated how other people lives their lives, what their daily habits entail and what they eat. I’ve come up with some tips that I’ve learned from the SE Asians.

1. Fresh is Best

fresh is best

People in Asia eat really fresh food. Most eat street food daily, which at first thought might sound dirty and unsanitary, but it is anything but that (of course there are exceptions). These food stalls take your order and make your food on the spot. You can watch it all unfold and everything they use is fresh and as soon as it hits the plate it is set in front of you. There are no packaged, frozen or microwaved foods sitting cooked waiting. It is all fresh! Not to mention, the ingredients are pure: rice or rice noodles, vegetables, meats, oils* and sauces. That’s it.

*Some street food can be quite oily, so you have to be discerning, but regardless, it’s still fresh!

2. Fruit is a Great Snack

Fresh fruit

Everywhere I go in Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, etc, every market sells fruit either whole or cut up and ready to be eaten. This is not surprising since it is such a delicious snack choice! It’s light, hydrating, sweet and nutritious. Fruit packs vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants and much more. It’s also a great portable snack. For simplicity pick apples, bananas (if they don’t get too smashed) or grapes in a bag. Also, try to buy seasonal fruit. It’s easy to figure out what is in season. If it’s affordable and abundant at your grocery store then it’s most likely in season. Berries in the middle of winter are transported from far away so will be more expensive. Better yet, go to farmer’s markets and you will really see what is growing near you!

3. Community is Very Important 

community

One thing I love about visiting other cultures is you are exposed to different ways of living. In Thailand and other Asian countries I’ve noticed how important community is. People leave the doors of their homes open, children are playing outside with each other instead of staring at a television screen, families with four generations live and eat together and friends sit around shops drinking tea. The more I read about health and healthy living I see how important community and friends are. You can eat green vegetables and take multi-vitamins, but if your soul is not being nourished you will be lonely and possibly depressed. Find like minded people and find time to spend quality time together! Think about starting a girls night once a week, or join a club. People have reported illnesses disappearing from just adding more love and laughter into their lives. Incredible.

4. Be Patient

ferry

A four hour ferry turns into a 6.5 hour ferry, typical of travel in Asia.

It seems to me here in South East Asia people are more laid back, less stressed out and patient. They have to be patient considering things are slower here and things don’t go quite as planned! Not only is being patient good for social interaction, but it’s also good for your health. If you are impatient or upset, it increases your cortisol (stress) levels, which in turn increases your heart rate and causes your brain to think it’s in danger. Constantly feeling stressed or impatient (which causes stress) can be damaging for your health. Is it really worth it? When something isn’t going the way you planned, the line at the grocery store is long or traffic is stopped, before starting to get upset, take a moment to relax. Put the situation in perspective. Maybe focus on getting deep breathes, talk to the person next to you in the line or listen to a book on tape. Your body will thank you!

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One Hour a Day

photography

Food photography is something I’m interested in developing!

Do you have one hour to spare a day?

My husband just shared with me an interesting concept. He was reading an article where the author shared  the following concept popularized by Earl Nightingale: spend one hour (minimum) a day studying, reading and/or learning about something that interests you. That is the best part. It’s not something that you feel pressured to do. No, it’s something you want to do. Something that lights your spirit, something you are passionate about. Here is where it gets good. If you spend one hour a day, for six months, learning, reading and studying this new hobby, you will become an expert. Or at least you will be very knowledgeable about the topic and quite skilled at this point.

The example in the article was inspiring. It’s about a young man straight from college who wasn’t super excited about his job. His boss suggested he spend an hour a day learning something that he is interested in and see where it takes him. The young man decided to study graphic design. Within six months he got a graphic design job within the company, after a year he had doubled his salary and after 18 months he started his own company. Wow.

What is something you want to learn more about or learn how to do? For me, I want to keep on reading more about holistic health and wellness. There are many books I am excited to read, great documentary and a lot of recipes I want to create. That should keep me quite busy for one hour a day.

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