Goals, Resolutions or Intentions?

YogavilleThis is the time of year when we look at our goals from last year, see how we did, make new ones for the new year, and then formulate a plan for making it all happen. I'm very glad to have this process, especially this year. Last week I thought I hadn't done very well on my goals for 2015 and I was feeling a bit down in the mouth about it (yes, I am not always Pollyanna). But when I pulled them out and compared, I had met or exceeded most of those goals and only failed meet two of them! That brought the smile back to my face. I usually set business goals as well as health, relationship, and personal goals each year; a few in each category, to keep learning and evolving. 

I have an accountability partner and we go over our goals with each other at the beginning of the year and check in again at the end of each quarter. In 2015, we did something a bit different. We set intentions and then made our goals encompass these intentions. This was something suggested by Deepak Chopra. His four suggested mantras for those intentions were:

  • I have a joyful, energetic body.
  • I have a loving, compassionate heart.
  • I have a restful, alert mind.
  • I have lightness of being. 
  •  

These worked out pretty well, because a joyful energetic body is one that gets enough exercise, proper nutrition and sleep. A loving compassionate heart takes care of self and others. An alert mind is active and constantly learning, and all of these make for a lightness of being.

So, perhaps instead of making resolutions this year, you can set these four intentions for yourself. Write them down on a 3x5 card and keep them where you'll see them each day, to remind yourself. Then let me know at the end of 2016 how much better you feel! 

Best of Health,

Kathi 

How To Make Chaga Tea

Chaga Tea tastes a bit like coffee. In fact, when I add a little almond milk, it tastes just like the hazelnut coffee that I used to drink years ago.

If you want to read about the benefits of Chaga, check this recent post.  This post also has a short video of our gathering expedition so you can see what it looks like on the trees and a bit about harvesting it. Much more info is available through that know-it-all Google...

chaga big platter full with Ned and Kathi2

So many of my readers asked for more information, so here you go!

To Make Chaga Tea:

Take a piece about the size of a softball and smash it up into very small chunks. We used an old piece of jean material to place the conks in, covered them within the cloth and then pounded them with a hammer. The jean fabric doesn't tear as easily as others so this method worked for us.

This amount will make 2 cups a day - enough for one cup each for 2 people for about a month.

Place those chunks in a glass or stainless pot filled with water and bring to almost boiling. Simmer for about ten mintues, then remove from heat and strain some into a cup. Enjoy!

You can either leave that pot on the stove and continue to add water each day, or you can strain the whole pot into a jar that you use for your daily cup until it's gone, letting the Chaga chunks dry in between cooking. Then when your jar is empty, put the chunks back into the pot fill with water again and heat.

Each time, you'll need to cook the chunks for a little longer - maybe fifteen or twenty minutes more until you get the same dark color and the flavor you like.

Best of Health,

Kathi

Chugging Chaga For Cancer Prevention

Have you ever heard of Chaga? Neither had I until a friend mentioned it and now I can't get enough!

Chaga is a beneficial fungus that grows on yellow  birch (and a few white) trees in northern climates. The more research I did on Chaga, the more we wanted to try some. My neighbor mentioned that she had found some on their property last winter, so, a hunting we did go! We'd done some searching around on foot the last few weekends and had not been successful, but this time we hit the motherload! 

Here's a short video of our hunting excursion!

It doesn't look very appealing and in fact, doesn't look much like a mushroom at all. But looks can be deceiving as this wonderful medicine from Mother Nature has more antioxidants than blueberries and is known to boost our immune system. In fact, Chaga has the highest ORAC score (the measure of antioxidant potency) of any superfood! Chaga also has anti-cancer properties. In fact, the anti-cancer benefits have been so amazing with mice that studies are now being done on humans. Interestingly, the benefits of Chaga have been known and studied in Russia and China for centuries. 

Chaga is rich in natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phenols, containing the compounds betulin and betulinic acid - which come directly from the host birch trees. Both betulin and betulinic acid have demonstrated anti-tumor effects, which explains why Chaga is known as an anti-cancer agent. Another compound in Chaga, called lanostanoids, also appears to play a significant anti-cancer role. The exact anti-cancer activity of Chaga is not completely understood yet, but according to the studies I read, some compounds in the fungus boost immune activity, some specifically prevent cancer cells from replicating, and others cause premature cancer cell death. Hence, the recommendation is to use the whole conk for your tea or extract, rather than isolating single parts. In this super food, all the parts appear to be active anti-cancer agents.

The compound ergosterol in Chaga, along with related agents, shows anti-inflammatory benefits. This is why Chaga is thought of as a life-extending agent in China, since inflammation is part of every chronic, degenerative disease. Reducing systemic inflammation can mitigate or help prevent a variety of health problems, leading to a healthier life!

Another surprising benefit of Chaga is in regards to psoriasis. In one Russian study, psoriasis patients who took Chaga recovered from their condition. Here in the west, psoriasis is notoriously difficult to treat and responds poorly to current treatments. This effect alone could be of enormous benefit to many, including myself.

My neighbor and her husband, who turned us on to Chaga, now joke that we'll all live to be healthy centenarians! For now, we're drinking our daily Chaga tea, we have some extract brewing that will be ready in four months, and we'll keep you posted on how healthy it makes us!

Here is a link to a post that describes the process for making Chaga tea and another for the extract if you are interested.

Best of Health,

Kathi

What Does World Peace Mean To You?

Thanksgiving is a November holiday that we know well, but are you aware that World Peace Day is the 17th? I know we don't get that day off, but let's take a moment now to contemplate the idea of peace. What does world peace look like to you? Do you feel you can make a difference in the bigger picture? Praying for peace is easy, but it isn't the only way we can help facilitate peace. "Being" peace is something that we, perhaps, don't give much thought to. When we are peaceful, however, when we FEEL peaceful, we share that vibration with everyone around us. 

The Dalai Lama has said "World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not the absence of violence; peace is the manifestation of human compassion." I believe he is correct. Many times I have seen examples of how a simple act of compassion for another human being changes others, thus making a larger difference than I expected.

What if we decide to make the rest of the month "World Peace Month"! We can choose to be more peaceful ourselves, and we can share more compassion with others and spread a little peace around. If we look for opportunities to share compassion, we will find them. No matter where you live or work, there are homeless people in need (many of whom are veterans...). The next time you see someone in need, buy them food at the nearest convenience store and give it to them with a smile and a kind word. Or perhaps it's cold where you live and you have a scarf with you that is easily replaceable; share your smile and scarf with someone in need. 

Best of Health,

Kathi

Prepare For The Holidays? NOT!

IMG_0347Now that Halloween is over, the rest of the holidays will come sliding in at a speed to rival a tornado in the midwest. Hold on to your hats! 

When people ask me if I am ready for the holidays, I cringe; I've never met anyone who is ready. We cannot be "prepared for" the process of fitting a year's worth of cooking, baking, and visiting into two months! Using that phrase is setting yourself up to feel continually behind the eight ball. Let's change our words, maybe say that we plan to enjoy the holidays!

Thanksgiving is the first of the holidays we'll see here in the US and with it comes an overabundance of food, and family members attempting to out do their last year's offering with yet another take on Gramma's turkey dressing. Here's an idea. Let's go back to the days when it was simply a meal for sharing with friends and family - a celebration of the fall harvest. Make simpler offerings this year. A turkey roasted with plain bread stuffing. Gravy made from the pan drippings and no chemical additives like "Gravy Master." How about steamed fresh string beans to replace the high fat green bean casserole which I'm pretty sure wasn't at that first Thanksgiving... Use the Garlic Mashed Potato recipe I previously posted, or roast your potatoes in with the turkey and add some fall squash, turnips, and carrots. Think how much easier that will be with all the vegetables in the same pot as the turkey!

After so many years of making complicated meals, it might be difficult to make these changes, but at least try one or two that will give you more time to enjoy your family and friends, and maybe even guide everyone in a walk around the neighborhood after dinner! Making this holiday less stressful is your choice. Choose well, grasshopper!

Best of Health,

Kathi

There’s a National Chocolate Day!?

chocolate barToday I have included another recipe - this time for a healthy dessert. Now you'll be prepared for National Chocolate day...

This Chocolate Mousse is delicious! I made it just last week for a gathering of friends and there was none left; we ate every bit of it! This tasty treat, along with another, will be available for you to taste at my presentation on Fabulously Delicious Healthy Food, at the Cancer House of Hope in West Springfield on Wednesday Nov 4th. Come join the fun if you are in the area! There may be a video available afterwards, and if so, I will post a link for those who can't make it to this presentation. Unfortunately, since they haven't figured out the "Scotty Beam Me Up" thing yet, those who watch the presentation on video will not be able to enjoy the tasty treats, but the recipes are available for you to make them yourself!

Chocolate Mousse, from "The Cancer Survivors Guide."

This is a much more healthful version of the high fat, high calorie French delicacy. Chocolate contains important antioxidants that help the body fight off cancer and heart disease. AND, best of all, it takes less than 5 minutes to prepare!

Ingredients:

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup nondairy milk (I use unsweetened almond or coconut)

2 - 12 ounce packages of silken tofu

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Raspberries (or your favorite berry)

Directions:

  1. Combine the chocolate chips and milk in a microwave safe bowl and cook on high for 1 minute. Let rest for 2 minutes. You can also cook the chips and milk in a double boiler over gently simmering water if you prefer not to use a microwave.
  2. Transfer the chip mixture to your blender, add tofu and vanilla, and process until smooth
  3. Pour into individual bowls and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (this can keep in the fridge for up to 3 days)
  4. Top with a couple of raspberries and serve.
  5. Yummmmm!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Coloring For Grown-ups!

The other day on my journey to teach Gentle Therapeutic Yoga, I was visited by a flock of turkeys - well actually, a family of them. I saw mom, dad, and several younger ones. Dad was attempting to cross the road and was nearly hit by the car in front of me. He stayed on the opposite side of the road after that scare, while mom and the children headed off into a nearby field. I'm sure he caught up with them eventually, unless the hawks decided he was small enough for them to carry off. I really love living in the country. The peace and quiet, the sound of the loons enjoying the lake on a summer evening, all the wildlife that is abundant in our beautiful Berkshires speaks to my soul. And when our souls or spirits are singing in harmony with nature, all those stress hormones begin leaving our body, improving our mood, lowering blood pressure, and protecting our brains! How cool is that!?

Most of us know that meditation is a good habit to start, and that a daily practice can help rid our bodies of stress hormones, but recent studies have shown that crafting and coloring can have the same effect. Knitting, sculpting, drawing, and other creative processes can put our mind, "in the zone," which causes the parasympathetic systems in our body to take over. Anxiety, depression, and grief are reduced, and most people find that time goes by much more quickly. So, find those old knitting needles that you stored in the attic. Get out that box of crayolas your grandkids play with and use them yourself! Have some "playtime" and reap the benefits for your body, mind, and soul.

I'm thinking of drawing and then coloring these mushrooms I found in my yard - pretty colorful, huh?

mushrooms on stump

Best of Health,

Kathi

Cold Weather Fix With EFT

The Autumn Equinox has come and gone, the leaves on the trees are doing their brilliant redesign, and colder weather has arrived in the Berkshires. I have already started wearing my fleece lined jeans.

While I do love the colors and the brisk air in the fall, I do not like the idea of heading into winter. In my classes this week, that was a topic of conversation, and most of us are not looking forward to winter. Being the Pollyanna that I am, it made me think of things that we can do to help ourselves enjoy the colder weather more, and be less stressed by it. The result of that thinking is a new video I've added to my YouTube channel.

EFT - Tapping is something I not only recommend and teach, but use myself on a regular basis. So, I have created a tapping routine for enjoying the cold! I plan to use it this winter and hope you will, as well!

A Round of Honey For Everyone!

September is National Honey month. Interesting - I wonder if that means my honey, Ned, or the honey I put in my tea?

purple flowersDid you know that honey can help you beat seasonal allergies? Yes, indeed. I have tested it out with many clients, family, and friends, and it works every time! One tablespoon of LOCAL honey a day keeps sniffling and sneezing away! The reason it works is that local honey is made by local bees who visit all the flowers in your neighborhood. Eating the honey is the same as getting allergy shots - you acclimate yourself to the pollen from those plants and flowers a little bit at a time, so that after six months, your symptoms disappear. How cool is that!? Just make sure the honey you buy is local and you'll be good to go by spring.

If you want more help with allergies, back pain, weight loss or any other health issue, contact me HERE for your very own personalized coaching program!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Cold Weather Eating Habits

Shoulder Bridge updatedI plan to keep this body that I have been blessed with in good shape, and in keeping with that thought, I'll be moving into my fall eating pattern soon. Yogic traditions recommend eating seasonally, as that aligns our body with nature, and is the way to better health. I am one of those who eats seasonally, mostly because my body recognizes this is what it needs. I absolutely LOVE leafy greens and fresh beans, strawberries, etc. in the summer, but as fall brings in the colder weather I begin to crave more root vegetables and heartier soups and stews. Breakfast changes from yogurt with fruit and nuts to oatmeal with fruit and nuts. Since oatmeal is much less expensive than goat yogurt, I'll be saving a little cash as well!

Here’s a favorite recipe for a fall veggie – Enjoy!

Best of Health,

Kathi

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