Contributing Blogger: Monica Sackandy, Owner and Director of Little Yoga LLC Ellington CT
Last summer I bought a bottle of raw bee pollen at the farmer’s market on the recommendation of the bee keeper selling it. He said it would most certainly help with my horrendous seasonal allergies. It looked like actual pollen…yellow powder (like the stuff that coats your car in May)…but in little granules/kernels. It tastes very similar to honey.
Typical of me, I enjoyed it a few times in yogurt or granola cereal, then put it in the pantry in the fall and forgot about it. Two weeks ago in a surge of pre-baby nesting fever, I decided to gut my pantry and totally clean it out. Lo and behold…the raw bee pollen. If I had followed the bee keeper’s instructions, I would have remembered to start taking it 6 weeks before my allergies got bad, rather than 2 weeks before. But this would have to do! When you are pregnant, your list of allergy medications becomes much shorter, so I started supplementing a tablespoon of bee pollen per day.
The instant affect for me was that of more mild symptoms, which supposedly increases to almost no symptoms after several weeks of daily use. For the heck of it, I started googling bee pollen, and was floored by what I found out! Apparently, raw bee pollen is considered the world’s most nutritionally perfect food by many experts. There was a list of scientifically analyzed vitamin/nutrient contents, which included high levels of virtually everything-even B12, niacin, and thiamin. Many say that humans could live off bee pollen alone, and that the ancient Greeks and Romans referred to it as “the dust of life”. Some studies even say taking bee pollen daily as a supplement reduces risk of cancer and other diseases! Who knew, right?
If adding bee pollen to your diet for allergies or as a supplement interests you, here are a few things to remember:
1.Test yourself for an allergic reaction first. Place a few granules under your tongue, and increase each day until you think you can manage a teaspoon with no reaction. Eventually you will want to consume a tablespoon per day.
2. Raw is most potent, so if you decide to put it in your hot tea don’t add it until the liquid is under 118 degrees.
3. Know where your bee pollen is coming from, quality local pollen is best!
4. Enjoy it in iced tea, yogurt, on cereal, etc!
Happy Spring! Namaste.
Monica Sackandy, Owner and Director of Little Yoga LLC, is expecting her third child. “I am planning on having my first home birth and am looking to yoga to help manage the physical pain of birth, and to help release some of my fears about not delivering in a hospital.” Monica is a contributing blogger on Yoga Peach and Lil’ berry. Follower her onFacebook Little Yoga LLC!
Tonight I made a healthy reptile for dessert. Yes, I’m a little bit of a nerd. This guy needs some work. I need to figure out how to make him twistier.
two blueberries (or chocolate chips for the eyes)
Cut a slit into the largest strawberry to create the mouth on the snake’s head. Use a thin strip of strawberry for the tongue. Use two blueberries for the eyes and tiny pieces of banana for the eyeballs. You could also try chocolate chips with a tiny bit of frosting. Alternate strawberries and bananas for the body.
Shrimp spring rollsI make these different every time. You can’t really mess them up. I threw in shrimp with strips of champagne mangos, avocado, and cucumber. I also used a hint of fresh mint and sometimes I use cilantro. They’re also great with a little bit of vietnamese noodles in them but I’m trying to eat as clean as possible right now so I left them out. Roll up the ingredients in rice paper. Do not cook or fry them. After you roll them let them sit in the fridge 20 minutes or so. I have been making spring rolls for years and still can not master rolling them pretty! Would you rather pretty presentation and terrible taste or terrible presentation and delicious food? I am able to offer just one option.
Pineapple-orange Habanero sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1/2 sweet red pepper, diced
1/2 medium onion diced
1 medium pineapple, diced
1/2 fresh lime, juice
1 fresh orange, juice
2 chopped habanero chiles, seeds removed (2 makes it really hot! Use 1/2-1 habanero if you prefer mild)
a few pieces of fresh mint
1 cup apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp raw honey or agave
dash salt and pepper
Roast the garlic, ginger, red pepper, onion, habanero in a pan over medium heat. Stir until it starts to cooking, about 5 minutes. Add vinegar, pineapple and orange. Continue to stir and cook about 10-15 minutes. Add a few pieces of fresh mint. Transfer to food processor or blender and puree into sauce. Cool and serve with spring rolls.
Today’s Centering Thought: “I am one with the breath of life.”
Our Sanskrit mantra: So hum. I am.
Yesterday we entered a new season. My favorite season, spring, is here although we’re still waiting for spring weather to appear. I loved yesterday’s meditation. My day was packed between tons of work and workout training so I appreciated listening to the topic “breath of life” just before falling asleep last night. Prana simply means breath. Cultivating prana brings us greater energy and mental clarity. Conscious breathing techniques such as pranayama improves mental and physical states. Just a few minutes of pranayama breathing can shift our focus and perspective, especially during stressful or challenging times. The more we practice bringing awareness to our breath with conscious breathing, the more we notice moving from our current state to an improved state of well being.
I can honestly say that five years ago I wouldn’t have been open to understanding and accepting the possibilities from conscious breathing techniques. Breathing techniques through my yoga practice have significantly impacted and changed the way I react and respond to certain situations and the way I take care of my body during stressful times. Even when I’m not stressed and things are well, taking as little as 5 minutes in yoga during savasana or in the evening before bed to practice conscious breathing soothes the body and bring awareness as well as appreciation to the connection between the mind-body-and spirit.
Day 11: Eating for balance.
Today’s Centering Thought: “I choose foods that help me thrive.”
Our Sanskrit mantra: Om Vardhanam Namah. I nourish the universe and the universe nourishes me.
This afternoon my body feels great although I admit I’m a little tired. I went to bed last night after 2:00am and wokeup at 5:00am for running group. Not good, I know. I have spin class this evening and I hope to be headed to bed early. Today is the half way point of the meditation program and I’m glad I’ve stuck to it every day. Today’s topic is making food choices that optimize our health. I’ve been pretty conscious and clean with my eating these past weeks. Eating habits is something I’ve grown to be very interested in. I think moderation is so important and we should enjoy foods whether they’re “healthy” or “unhealthy” all in moderation. What is the point of being so healthy and not indulge when you feel like it on occasion? When healthy eating becomes an obsession or is always on the mind, I do not believe this is “healthy” eating. I personally feel it is best to eat mindfully most of the time while allowing myself to enjoy whatever I want from time to time . Food is your body’s fuel, feed it wisely and remember all in moderation.
Happy spring! I threw together a simple kitchen project today for the first day of spring…fruit infused water. I love refreshing natural flavors added to my water this time of year. I highly recommend using a pitcher made for infusing so bits and pieces from fruits aren’t floating around in your water. I have this simple Takeya fruit-infused water maker. It’s high quality, works great and was only $24.99. There’s really no specific recipes, you just throw in a bunch of super ripe fruits and/or herbs, place it in the fridge for a half day and then you’ve got delicious water. What are your favorite water infused flavors?
Dinner’s tonight!! Kiddy cup of Guinness Beer Gelato, mmm!! I can’t remember the last time I had ice cream but when I saw Guinness Gelato on a Facebook newsfeed today I had to head over to Capogiro Gelatotonight after hot yoga! My “child’s cup of Guinness” was delicious but way too big to finish! They should keep this flavor all year, it’s awesome.
My first name happens to be Irish (I am not) and it’s a shade of green, but that’s as festive as it gets for me on this holiday. Driving around the city there’s lots of drunk people dressed in silly green outfits and St. Patty’s Day is just not really my thing. I totally enjoyed my beer flavored gelato though and would have put even more beer flavor in it if it were up to me! Last year I ate THIS on St. Patrick’s Day. Beer flavored gelato and green bagels, yum. Hope you had a Happy St. Patty’s Day!
Too much ice cream, that’s about all the gelato I can tolerate until summer.
Sorry, no photo for this recipe! I threw things together on a whim and was starving after my fav spin class of the week. It’s super easy, balanced and filling. The pine nuts compliment the lemon nicely, but you could also leave them out.
1 cup chopped butternut squash
1 cup quinoa
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
zest grated from 1/2 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
dash salt and freshly ground pepper
optional: 2 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts (optional)
Saute garlic, onions and butternut squash in pan until they begin cook. Add rosemary and thyme and cook a few minutes longer. Add quinoa and once it begins to toast and pop add vegetable broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cook 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Add toasted pine nuts on top if you’d like.
1/4 butternut squash or 3/4 cup peeled and chopped
10 ounces beef or vegetable broth
3/4 cup portobello mushroom chopped
1/2 cup pearled barley
1/2 cup goat cheese
a couple handfuls fresh spinach
Heat the oil in a pan,add the onion and saute 5 minutes. Add the squash and cook for 5 minutes more minutes
Add two-thirds of the broth, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the squash starts to soften. Stir in the barley and mushrooms and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. When the liquid has been absorbed, add the remaining stock and keep storing until barley is soft and most of the liquid is absorbed.
Remove from the heat and stir in the spinach, cover and allow it to cook into the dish.
Contributing Blogger: Monica Sackandy, Owner and Director of Little Yoga LLC Ellington CT
The Gunas and the Yogic Diet
Confession: I am a total nerd when it comes to any information on nutrition and how it affects the human body. I occasionally find myself blabbering on a topic to some unfortunate soul as I watch their eyes begin to glaze over, and have to remind myself…not everyone is interested in this stuff! But I am personally a firm believer that we literally ARE what we eat, at a cellular and energetic level! Hippocrates was a genius when he said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”
Many of you who are certified yoga instructors may remember a brief overview of the Gunas in your training programs, or perhaps you were lucky enough to really delve into it. However, for those of you who are new to this term, the Gunas are basically 3 different types of energies associated with the foods we eat. In yogic philosophy everything is energy, including our food. It is believed that these energies affect how we act and feel as well as our general long term health and well being. Here is a brief synopsis:
The 3 Gunas:
Rajasic- Foods with this energy are highly stimulating, enrage emotions and desires, and can create hyperactivity, passion, and movement. The color associated with this energy is red. Examples of some Rajasic foods: fish, salt, eggs, coffee, tea, and spices. Moderate consumption is advised.
Sattwic- Foods with this energy are mellow, bland, light, and pure. Consuming these foods promotes feelings of health, happiness, love, peace, and harmony. The color associated with this energy is white. Examples of some Sattwic foods: fresh raw fruits and vegetables, whole unprocessed grains, nuts, and some dairy. Making most of your food choices Sattwic is recommended.
Thamasic- Thamasic foods have an energy that is heavy, old, dull, and dark. These types of foods promote disease, induce sloth and “sleep falsehood”, and can promote feelings of anger and hate. The color associated with this energy is black. Examples of some Thamasic foods: meat, leftovers (ie; foods prepared longer than 3 hours prior to eating them), alcohol, and drugs. Avoid Thamasic foods for optimal health.
Many aspects of a Guna based diet are also in line with the yogic principle of Ahimsa, or non-harming. This principle is the reason many yogis choose to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet, desiring to consume foods that are plant based and where no harm was inflicted upon animals for human consumption.
So what do we do with this information? Well, as I believe moderation is key. Personally I am not yet a complete vegan (or even vegetarian for that matter to be honest), but am currently aspiring to make more and more of my choices based on raw plant based foods. This is simply based on the way I feel after eating more “Sattwic” foods. But I admit to occasionally eating chicken and fish (striving for wild caught fish and free range organically raised chicken). I personally have omitted red meat for the past 16 years, but have no judgments about those who chose otherwise.
Listen to your body, see what works for you, and if you can, slowly try adding more raw plant based foods until about 51% or more of your diet is comprised of them. Don’t beat yourself up if you eat a really good steak once in a while and are a yogi…I know plenty of amazing, kind, wonderful human beings who practice yoga and meditation and still eat some non-vegan foods from time to time.
There are also some amazing and highly effective yoga poses for releasing toxins and promoting digestive health. Some of my personal favorites are twists and forward folds. Twisted Chair not only firms the glutes and wrings out the spine, but it also compresses the abdominal contents promoting peristaltic movement. Being 5 months pregnant, I miss this pose!!! Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold) is another great one, as well as Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold). If you have a sluggish digestive system, try adding some Sattwic foods combined with some of these poses to your routine. Holding them for a little longer (5 to 6 full breaths at least) is most beneficial.
COOL PRODUCT ALERT! If you are having trouble getting more raw fruits and veggies in, you may want to try juicing or some form thereof. I just got myself the Nutribullet and I am obsessed! It doesn’t juice, but rather “pulverizes” food to a complete liquid making for easy absorption by your digestive system and cells. The foods are literally nearly “predigested” and the “good stuff” goes right into your blood stream and cells. Today for breakfast I had a serving of kale, 2 oranges, an avocado, and some banana in one drink that took me seconds to make and not very long to consume. I add some organic powdered chia, maca, cacao, and goji for a boost…yum!! This machine has helped me up my raw intake tenfold. My 4 year old daughter even likes them and actually requests things like “strawberry banana and spinach”. Here she is pictured drinking a peach berry banana and kale Nutriblast. I love the green mustache…Got Kale?
COOL BOOK ALERT! If you are fascinated by this stuff, you might want to read “Food Energetics” by Steve Gagne. He talks about the subtle energies in virtually every possible food on the planet and how we are affected when eating those foods. He even delves into how cooking things in a variety of different ways changes that energy. So interesting!!
Happy eating, yogis! Remember one thing when considering all of this, ENJOY your food. Take pleasure in eating it (whatever it may be), mindfully acknowledging the flavors and textures and knowing it is nurturing you. Namaste (: