The Art of Making Tea-Beginner

16265627_1317595031654592_6083181443600359016_nI’ve always been a coffee lover but, I have to admit, the health and wellness benefits of tea are appealing. There is something sweet and romantic about tea that I find intriguing.  A couple of weeks ago I saw an ad that a local yoga studio was hosting a workshop on the ‘Art of Tea Making’ so I was excited to satisfy my curiosity.

Herbologist and Yoga Instructor, Brandy Manguno, led the half yoga and half tea making workshop.  It was magnificent!  I left feeling relaxed and empowered to begin my tea adventure!

Brandy began by sharing how Earth gives healing to us by way of her plantlife.  king-pigeonIt’s so easy to pop a pill for our ailments, but if you want to give your body a chance to receive God-given organic methods for healing, tea making is a way to do that.

Whatever your issue there seems to be a tea remedy, i.e. cold–lemon balm; depression— skullcap; insect repellant–lavender; PMS–chamomile.

Here are some of the basics I learned from Brandy’s, “Art Of Tea Making Tea-Beginner” workshop:

Tea Basics 101

What you need:

  1. Make sure your tea is fresh and organic.  Here are websites that provide quality herbs: http://www.wildweeds.com http://www.jeansgreens.com http://www.mountainroseherbs.com
  2. The scoop on prepackaged tea bags: The downside of tea bags is that the plants become more oxidized so they lose a large portion of their flavor and medicinal value.  The positive side is the convenience.  Selecting organic brands will ensure fewer chemicals and pesticides will make their way into your hot cup.
  3. Begin with 2- 3 ingredients.  A general guide is that your daytime base should include green tea and a nighttime base a chamomile.
  4. Brandy provided mesh tea balls for everyone.  I have found it easy to use for a newbie like me. Here is a link for a small mesh tea bag infuser: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/catalog/teas/accessories#product-1698
  5. Tea should be stored in a sealed container as air tight as possible and in a cool, dark place.

How to steep your tea:

  1. Fill your mesh ball half to 3/4 full with herbs.  The herbs will expand in the water.
  2. Pour hot water, not boiling, over leaves, flowers and stems.  Pour boiling water over roots.
  3. Put a plate over your cup and let it steep for 8-10 minutes.
  4. Lick your plate! A lot of the nutrients are there;)
  5. Add honey, lemon, milk and enjoy!

Later on that week I shared with Brandy that I made tea from the herbs I mixed in class and it was nasty!😝  I gave it another shot and used less of my blend and it was much better.

Brandy said, give your tea a chance for your palatte to accept.  Treat tea making just like cooking.  You are learning to put a little more of this and a little less of that.

The Romantic Aspects of Tea:

The act of drinking tea can be a luxurious experience.  Savoring the smell and taking time to sip your tea is very soothing and relaxing. It’s a simple way for all of us busy folks to ground ourselves and have a bright spot in our day.

With Valentine’s Day almost here you might be wondering about a ‘modern day love potion.’

e70d0feb032d7941406e7510ac604c0aThere are many herbs that can boost libido for women and men.  A tea that Brandy mentioned for women is hops and for men, red clover, but there are many more!

When you live with many stresses in life it can take the passion out of your sails. Including tea time as a regular part of your day can recharge your batteries and provide a mental, physical and spiritual boost.  It’s a simple way to take control of your health.

If you would like more information on Brandy, her workshops, or a consultation her website is http://yoga-llc.com/about/

Her tea blends are sold at Cosmic Karma in Mandeville.

Tea making is more of an adventure that I ever realized!  I hope this inspires you to take a plunge into the world of tea.  Enjoy Your Tea Adventure!

 

 

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Grow Older Without Aging

11537702_790227324430188_8077424899283917740_nI was talking to my dad on the phone, and he asked me, “baby, you’re turning 42, are you feeling your age?”  I’m not sure he was expecting this loaded response…

“You know dad I feel more happy than I’ve ever been.  I’m still that playful, goofy young kid at heart, but I’m wiser, more confident, assertive and I feel like I’ve grown more into myself.”

This is a long way from the woman I was in my 20s who struggled with insecurities.  It was such a painful issue for me that a close friend suggested that I dress professionally, go to the mall and purposefully interact with others to build confidence.

Years later I took that to a whole next level when I began competing in bikini and figure bodybuilding shows. Talk about challenging my comfort zones!  I was the preacher’s daughter that was made to where dresses to school everyday and culottes with leotards to PE;) LOL

FullSizeRender (30) I still believe in Santa;) 

Getting up on stage in a bikini and flexing was a far cry from sharing a sermon in a dress suit two sizes too big for me.  This was the time in my life when I began to feel more comfortable in my skin and with my sensuality.

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I’m now learning to become more authentic in expressing myself without worry of displeasing others. This has given me a freedom of spirit to be okay with the woman I am instead of feeling like I should be different.

Aging gracefully is an idea that’s promoted in our culture, but I prefer aging gratefully.  I’m grateful for another year of life, but what surprises me is that I’m even grateful for my regrets.  Without feeling regret I wouldn’t have learned authentic compassion and maturity.

The key is to learn to love all of you, flaws and all.  Our deepest healing is when we learn to be our own best friend, companion, and cheerleader.

-Warrior Goddess

This has been my transformation journey as I’ve become older.  I understand that change is inevitable, but we can choose to grow through life.  I have no interest in aging gracefully, but I am interested in living my days with a sense of adventure that flirts with life;)
web_DSCF0626I did this photoshoot last month even though I felt self conscious because of my age.  I decided to go for it and have fun! What the heck?!

webDSCF0740What rule is there that only twenty somethings get to model anyway?  What are your thoughts about aging?  What do you think of aging gracefully?

 

Healthy Treats For A Halloween Bash

Dressing up for Halloween never gets old even for us grown ups!  It can be hard for me to come up with costume ideas, but while we were watching the Underworld series I thankfully found my inspiration:)  I have always teasingly referred to my guy as my ‘Wolf Man,’ so Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf sounded like the perfect couples costumes! LOL

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I believe play is just as pivotal for adults as it is for kids.  Play brings joy. And it’s vital for problem solving, creativity and relationships.  If you are being told you are a fuddy duddy, you need to loosen up or that you’re too serious then it sounds like you are past due for some good old-fashioned PLAY!  I have to admit, I had so much fun getting us ready for a Halloween Bash at my friend’s house.  I’m by no means crafty or a make-up artist, but I didn’t let that stop me from throwing some make-up on my Wolf Man and making my cape with glue:)

I’ve been realizing the idea that we don’t have to be perfect to create something.  If we have a desire and want to create something then we need to do that. I love this quote by Elizabeth Gilbert,

The point is not for you to do something that’s never been done before. The point is for you to do something you’ve never done before.

I hope you find joy in creating just for the sheer play and fun that it bring you.

Here are some of my original and not so original “Little Red Riding Hood” treats I took to a Halloween Bash.  I wasn’t sure how these healthy treats would go over, but I took them anyway and everyone seemed to enjoy them:)

Pumpkin Spice Energy Ball

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*recipe by Dani Spies http://cleananddelicious.com/2014/09/30/pumpkin-spice-energy-balls/

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup almond butter
  • ¼ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 1 tbsp. real maple syrup *I used a TBS stevia
  • 1 tbsp. chia seed
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1.5 ounces dark chocolate *depending on mood, I omit this and add cacao nibs

Directions:

In a large bowl combine almond butter, pumpkin puree, almond flour, maple syrup, chia seeds, pumpkin pie spice, and kosher salt.  Mix until everything is well incorporated.

Scoop up about 1 tbsp. of ‘dough’ and roll in the palm of your hands to create a small, golf-sized ball.  You should get about 8 balls.

Place the balls on a plate lined with parchment paper in the freezer while you melt your chocolate.

Set up a double boiler (see example in this video).  Add two ounces of dark chocolate and stir periodically until the chocolate has melted down.

Remove the pumpkin balls from the freezer and dip each one in the chocolate to coat half of the pumpkin ball.  Place back on the parchment paper and continue until you have dipped all the pumpkin balls.

Place them back in the freezer and enjoy any time you need a quick and delicious nutrient packed snack.

Makes 8 balls.

Quinoa Chocolate Chips

Y’all these are surprisingly delicious and satisfying.  Please try them and share your feedback-:)

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Ingredients: 

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup oatmeal

1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut

1/3 cup chocolate chips *mix in at the end

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 eggs

1/4 cup coconut sugar (or use brown sugar)

2/3 cup Stevia

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and lightly grease with cooking spray.
  2. Mix together: eggs, vanilla, yogurt, sugar until combined.
  3. Stir in the flour, salt and baking soda & baking powder until just combined. Add the oats, quinoa, and coconut.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Use a spoon or cookie scoop to scoop the dough into 2-3 tablespoon-sized portions. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the bottoms are browned but the insides are still nice and soft. If you want a thinner cookie (instead of puffy), flatten slightly before baking.

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*I make a double batch and freeze what is left so that I will always have a healthy treat on hand when I have a craving.  ENJOY!

My Story From Overcoming Anorexia To Finding Purpose

My desire to inspire and coach others in fitness and wellness was birthed out of tragedy.  It was when I was 15 years old that I developed the disease anorexia nervosa.  I won’t delve into the details, but I had a strict Christian upbringing.  My family moved every few years as my Dad would be called to pastor different churches.  Anorexia was my way of exercising control and establishing boundaries for myself.

It was Summer when we had moved from Ohio to Kentucky.  I can pinpoint the day when the shift happened in my mind.  I was in a Summer basketball camp, and after our games  a group of us would weigh ourselves.  I noticed my weight was going down everyday, and I liked that feeling.  I was addicted now, and couldn’t stop.  In a matter of months the scale showed 95 lbs, then 93, 89, and it kept going down until I was at an all low of 64 lbs.

I would weigh myself constantly, run 3-6 miles a day, study to make sure I got the best grades, secretly throw away food, punch myself in the stomach, count calories all day long & isolate myself from others.  It was honestly a living hell.  I was in prison in my own mind and my own cruel taskmaster.

I was hospitalized and my weight was stabilized, but I relapsed when I was released.  I had to WANT to be better.  I liked the control and the security anorexia gave me.  I began to become aware of how bad I looked and I even felt scared.  Little by little I became open to an inner change.

Early one morning I felt a supernatural touch in my body.  After that experience the desire to be better was greater than the twisted gratification of anorexia.  I had to form a healthy relationship with food.  I was drinking ensure for years, so I gradually began incorporating real food into my diet.  I had to retrain my brain to not count every calorie.  It didn’t happen overnight, actually it took a solid year to change my habits and thought patterns.

Weight loss is not a physical issue.  It is emotional and spiritual.  Your weight problem may be the opposite of mine, but no less threatening.  It is threatening to steal your quality of life, happiness, energy, self-worth, ambition, desire to thrive, and so much more.

Nothing happens overnight.  It takes patience and a TON of desire.  You will have moments that test your resolve.  It is in building up your inner strength, your inner man that you will have the power to stand strong when tested.  Make your health a priority.  Share your story with your friends and family so you can get the support and encouragement you need to create a healthy lifestyle.  In loving yourself to health, you are giving your family and the world the best of you.

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This isn’t the greatest pic, but I didn’t have many pics taken during that time.  The basketball pic is when I had anorexia and the running pic is when I had gained my freedom my senior year.

Miracle Potion For Your Weight, Skin and Everything In Between

My new favorite thing is apple cider vinegar.  One of my clients turned me on to this when I was complaining about having a cold.  She is a registered nurse and an administrator of a hospice company, and she swears by the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, especially in shortening a cold.   She was so excited about it that she brought a bottle to our next fitness class for everyone to try:)  LOL!

We all headed to the ladies room after our fitness class at the UFC, and brought out the shot glasses.

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Luckily no one spit it out all over the mirrors! haha:)

If you can get past the taste and smell, apple cider vinegar is really amazing. From your head to your toes, it’s good for the health of almost every body part.

Here are just some of the benefits of apple cider vinegar that I found in my research:

  1. Strengthens Your Immune System.

As soon as you feel the prickle of a sore throat, take a dose of this germ-busting miracle worker to help head off the infection.   The acidic environment kills the germs.  Just mix 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup warm water and gargle every hour.

Another recipe option I found is to mix one teaspoon apple cider vinegar, one teaspoon cayenne pepper and three teaspoons clover honey in a glass of warm water.  All three ingredients will work together to help you heal.

2.  Balances Your Digestive System.

Drinking apple cider vinegar before a starchy meal will allow the starches you don’t digest to feed the good bacteria in your gut.

If you want to reduce gas, dilute a tablespoon of enzyme-rich apple cider vinegar with a cup of water or tea, and drink before a meal. This will also combat constipation, since the vinegar stimulates digestive juices that help your body breakdown food.  (Dr. Oz, The Seven Surprising Ways To Use Apple Cider Vinegar.)

3.  Helps with allergies.

Research indicates that apple cider vinegar can help allergies because of how it helps break up mucous and reduce sinus congestion.

4.  Helps with weight loss.

There are some studies that propose that apple cider vinegar can increase satiety, which helps you eat less.  Researchers suggest that vinegar may turn on certain genes involved in breaking down fats.

The effect is probably very subtle, says Chicago dietitian Debbie Davis, RD. “It may have some benefits in terms of weight loss and weight management, but it is definitely not a quick fix.”

Although apple cider vinegar seems to be a miracle worker, it’s the entire lifestyle that counts if you want to see results.  Use it to aid your weight loss along with exercise and portion control.

5.  Does Wonders For Skin.

If you are burnt to a crisp after a long day in the sun, apple cider vinegar can soothe your skin. To neutralize the burn try adding a cupful or two to your bath and soak for 10 minutes.  The apple cider vinegar help restore your skin’s pH levels and your skin will feel cool and soothed.

It is great for clearing up the skin.  This is my favorite benefit because I have seen an immediate change since I started using it as my toner.  I mix 2 oz of apple cider vinegar with 2 oz of filtered water in a bottle.  Apply it to a cotton ball and rub on your face and neck.  It restores the proper pH levels to your skin so it is great for every skin type.  It is also is good for reducing the appearance of age spots, pimples and acne scars.

Tips on Taking Apple Cider Vinegar

  • When you buy it make sure it is cloudy and reads on the label with “the mother.” The “mother” is a blob at the bottom and it is full of probiotics and other good bacteria.

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(This is the brand I buy at WinDixie in Louisiana, so I’m sure you can find it in most grocery stores.)

  • There are many suggestions I found on taking apple cider vinegar. The nurse I mentioned earlier takes it straight and follows it up with a glass of water.   Some people mix it in with apple or grape juice. I dilute 1 to 2 tablespoons with a small amount of water and honey.
  • It is so acidic that mixing it with water or juice makes it more palatable.
  • Take it before a meal or along with your meals one or two times a day.

Although there isn’t a lot of scientific support, the homeopathic benefits of apple cider vinegar should not be underestimated.  It’s definitely worthwhile to try.

Homemade Chocolate Protein Bars

I love my sweets! My splurge it is having a chocolate chunk cookie from Starbucks, but I can’t do that everyday &  stay lean.  Luckily there are delicious recipes that satisfy my craving & still allow me to stick to clean eating.

Homemade protein bars are perfect, and my favorite is the Chocolate Protein Bars.  They are a staple in my frig.  I make these often because they are easy to tote to class or work & they are great for a quick pre-workout snack!  This recipe is from Jamie Eason, a fitness model and writer.

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Ingredients:

1 cup Oat Flour

(I grind my own oats in a Vitamix or you can find in the health food section of your grocery store)

4 Egg Whites

2 scoops Vanilla Whey Protein Powder

½ cup organic stevia

½ tsp Baking Soda

¼ tsp Salt

8oz Berry flavored Baby Food

3 tbsp Baking Cocoa

4oz Water

*I throw in 1/4 cup of dark chocolate morsels or carob chips halfway into the cooking time:)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix dry ingredients (oat flower, vanilla whey protein, baking soda, salt, baking cocoa) together in a large bowl.
  3. Mix wet ingredients (egg whites, Splenda, Truvia, or Ideal, Berry flavored Baby Food,Water) together in a medium sized bowl.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix together.
  5. Spray cooking dish with a non stick butter spray and add batter to dish.
  6. Bake 20-30 minutes in oven.

Makes 16 squares, serving size=2 bars.

Calories:  96

Fat:  1.4 grams

Carbs:  12 grams

Protein: 10 grams

Supercharge Your Favorite Protein Shake To Boost Metabolism & Health

When it comes to getting muscle friendly & power packed nutrition, it’s hard to beat the protein shake.  It can be doctored up with a variety of ingredients to make it tasty or stripped down to protein powder & water to get on-the- go nutrition.  Whatever your goals, the protein shake can be adapted to meet your needs.

The protein shake is like a one stop shop where you can make additions that will burn fat, boost testosterone, load you up on antioxidants & speed recovery.

Take advantage of supercharging your protein shake with adding 1 or all of these hassle-free additions:

protein shake

Protein Powder:  Growth & repair of muscles

  • If you are active then you want to aim somewhere around 0.8-1 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily.
  • If you’re dieting and exercising, aim higher, between 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of your bodyweight per day. As your caloric intake decreases, your protein needs will actually increase.

Muscle Milk or Gold Standard Whey are my favorite brands.

Egg whites:  Lean protein source

  • Egg whites are a top source of lean protein with absolutely no fat.  It also offers important nutrients like folate, selenium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Wheat Germ:  If your goal is to boost testosterone

  • Wheat germ contains zinc which keeps testosterone levels elevated during periods of intense training.  Testosterone is crucial hormone to both men & women for building muscle.  Wheat germ also contains selenium, which is involved in thyroid hormone production that keeps the metabolism running smooth.

*11x more test-boosting zinc found in W.G. than in chicken breast!

Add 1-3 TBS to your shake

Yogurt:  Digestive aid

  • The probiotics (good bacteria) aids in digestion and keeps you regular.

Chia Seeds:  Fights cravings

  • Can you believe the chia pet is a superfood?!  It definitely is with a whopping 11 grams of fiber/ounce.  The fiber in chia seeds swells & forms a gel in your stomach.  This gives you a feeling of fullness.  I use chia seeds in some of my recipes when I want to make a pudding type texture, see my “chocolate cherry bomb recipe posted 6/13/14.”

Add 1-2 TBS to your shake and I even put a TBS in my oatmeal.

Cinnamon:  Helps control blood sugar levels & eases aches & pains

  • ½ a tsp. of cinnamon daily can help keep blood sugars level, which prevents you from “crashing.” Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory compounds which can be useful in reducing pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, joint pain & muscle aches.

Glutamine Powder:  Prevents muscle breakdown

  • If you are lifting weights & experiencing a stressful time in your life, glutamine will prevent muscle breakdown.   It does this by fueling the immune system & others parts of the body.  This amino acid also speeds recovery, increases growth hormone, & will increase the storage of muscle glycogen to help you in hard training sessions.

AYURVEDIC Fat Fighting Tea See recipe in blog post “Get rid of stubborn fat,” posted 5/14/14

Add about ¼ cup to your shake

Fenugreek:  Increase libido & lowers cholesterol

  • Fenugreek seeds have been found to help increase libido for women & men.  It can also lessen the effect of hot flashes and mood fluctuations during menopause & PMS.
  • Studies show it can lower blood sugar after eating.  Some small studies have found that fenugreek can help with acid reflux. Because it’s high in fiber, fenugreek may help treat or prevent constipation.

Tumeric:  Anti-inflammatory 

  • It is a potent natural anti-inflammatory that works as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects.

Ginger:  Anti-inflammatory

  • Ginger contains chemicals that helps reduce nausea and inflammation.  It also can be used to treat heart burn & acid reflux.

Vegetable &/or Fruit Juice:  Load up on nutrients

  • Adding your veggies & fruits into your shake can help you get in the daily requirements of vegetables & fruits.
  • I don’t follow a specific recipe when making my vegetable and fruit juice.  I use whatever is in my refrigerator.  If I have frozen blueberries, strawberries, & raspberries, I will blend it in my Vitamix while gradually adding water to get my desired consistency.  You can follow this same process with your vegetables too.
  • I save my milk cartons to store my juices to make shakes throughout the week.  This makes it easy to whip up a protein shake in no time.

Add about ¼ to 1/2 cup of each for a meal replacement shake.