Breathwork

good-morning5
Courtesy of Owais Ali

A few weeks ago, I attended a Commonwealth Club meeting by Valerie Moselle who wrote the book Breathwork: A 3-Week Breathing Program to Gain Clarity, Calm, and Better Health.  Tow things I learned, I immediately put into practice.

First is the concept of “Resistance Breathing” – passing air with resistance through the throat, like singing “ha” when you breathe in (lung expanding – a few practices would make this much easier) and breathe out (lung collapsing).  As I practice this, I can feel my breath become slower and fuller.  What is the benefit of this?  Slow, deep, full breathing helps to moderate the stress response in our body.  The more oxygen you can give to your body and cells, the healthier they can be.   I found the best time to practice this – before I close my eyes in the bed.  The practice of resistance breathing completely makes me sleepy, and I can easily fall asleep.

Second is the importance of the hormone, oxytocin (the bliss hormone, the hormone of well-being), which increases when you slow down your breath.  Often, people confuse dopamine with oxytocin, with the former giving pleasure but not providing well-being, which to me is more important for health.

What are the activities that release more oxytocin?

  • getting a massage
  • giving someone’s a hug for 30 seconds
  • playing with pets
  • chanting
  • singing in groups
  • dancing
  • eating chocolate

One time, I hurt my ankle pretty badly and was limping.  Once I attended the community choir and sang with a big group, I not only could stand for hours, but my pain was gone, and I could walk again.  Such was the power of Oxytocin!

To aid my practice of breathing, I have begun using the Balance app, which provides personalized meditation with the help of a “personal” coach.  The app is really beautiful and clean and clearly engages you.  The foundation course is about breath control.  There are tracks for you to adapt to your needs such as “energize”, “wind-down”, “anxiety”, “relax”, “sleep”, “commute”, which appear to be all free.  Many users have commented that many meditation apps do not stick, but this one does.  I tend to agree.

 

 

 

 

 

All About Expressing Yourself

CocktailsI am coming back to this space as something was inspiring me tonight.  In the next few days, Google is having its Google Cloud Conference in San Francisco.  Tonight, Google held a Diversity and Inclusion event called Women in Tech Social at the Palace Hotel.  I love the fact that Google has embraced women in its senior management: Diane Greene, founder of VM Ware, is Google Cloud’s CEO while Fei Fei Li, another woman, is the Chief Scientist for Machine Learning/AI.  In the conference, Google has 10 events in diversity and inclusion.  At the bar tonight, attendees were asked to express themselves by creating their own cocktails.

According to research, in the U.S., women are paid around 80% of the wages of men even though 50% of the undergraduates and graduates are women.  For women in tech, companies offer between 4% to 45% less pay to women for the same job.  Women did ask for a lower pay 66% of the time.  In industries such as VCs and hedge funds, less than 5% are women at the Partners or Chief Investment Officers level.  Still, in the U.S., women are controlling 51% of the total wealth.  Globally, women’s economic clout and wealth are rising definitively.

So, a toast to the rising strength of women with a self-made, self-expressed cocktail – non-alcoholic drink filled with wonderful herbs and gorgeous edible flowers.

A Secret Ingredient for Health

Bone Broth reasons
Courtesy of revivalistkitchen.com

One has probably heard about bone broth (made from beef, pork, chicken, fish) and veggie broth, but Heather Dane really explained well why we need bone broth, especially after age 40!  The star in bone broth – collagen – supports, strengthens, cushions, provides structure, and holds the body together like glue, according to Heather.  If your body starts to lose collagen, no wonder you can feel more aches and pains, have wrinkles, thinner hair, and eye problems, experience loss of muscle tone, have digestive issues, etc.  Bone broth is also the key ingredient to many tasty Chinese soups such as this wonton soup (Hong Kong-style) and this 5-minute veggie soup (add animal protein if you like).  I have personally experienced really really tasty Shanghainese wonton soup in the streets of Shanghai – the secret is no doubt their long and well-simmered bone broth!

What is a Great Salad Meal to Make?

Brenda Davis Super Salad.jpg

There is an online food revolution summit going on currently which contains life-changing health information.  The experts all seem to agree that a plant-based diet is better for human’s health.  Given everyone’s body is built differently, there is no one formula that fits all.  However, there is enough science about the higher benefits of plant protein vs. animal protein and why a vegetarian diet helps.  Risks of Diabetes are 62% lower with a healthy plant-based vegan diet from a recent study.  Heme iron from red meat, as opposed to non-heme iron from plant food, leads to increased risks of heart disease.  Experts warn that one needs to supplement with Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and Iodine if one eats a vegan diet.  In general, many of us do not eat enough fibre.

What might be a great vegetarian dish – like a perfect salad?

Here is a great recommendation from Brenda Davis, a registered dietitian.  I have never enjoyed salad quite as much as I am now. A salad is not boring and is completely fulfilling and tasty.  To kickstart a vegan diet, try this 21day program free: 21DayKickstart.org

Source: http://www.brendadavisrd.com/my-favorite-supper-salad/

My Favorite Supper Salad (Brenda Davis)

My favorite meal is salad. Seriously.  To me, a beautiful salad is a masterpiece of colour, texture and flavor.  Of course, we are not talking iceberg lettuce with a few tomatoes and cucumbers sprinkle on top; we are talking about a full, satisfying meal.  I make a giant salad that lasts up to 4 days.  Greens are torn and dressing is always on the side so the salad does not brown or wilt. Nutritionally, it doesn’t get much better than this!

This salad is a full meal deal. It provides a rainbow of color and a feast of phytochemicals. Choose organic produce, if possible. By eating it with some fat-containing food such as a seed-based salad dressing, nutrient absorption is maximized.

 

The Greens

Choose any dark greens you have on hand. Throw in some red or purple leafy vegetable for variety and color. Use about 8 cups in total – mix and match as you like. Here is a suggested combination:

 

4 cups wild, mixed greens

2 cups kale, stem removed and sliced matchstick thin

2 cups chopped radicchio or thinly sliced red or purple cabbage

 

The Veggies and Fruits

The key is to cover the rainbow in your selection. Aim for 5 color families – green, yellow-orange, pink- red, purple- blue and white-beige. Use a total of about 5 cups veggies (1 cup from each color family). Mix and match as you like or simply select 1-2 options from each color category. Here are a few suggestions:

 

Green

1 cup broccolini or broccoli florets and stems, sliced diagonally

1 cup asparagus (raw or steamed), sliced diagonally

1 cup zucchini, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally

1 cup snow peas or sugar snap peas

1 cup sprouts, tightly packed (e.g. sunflower, pea or other)

1 cup fresh herbs, tightly packed (e.g. mint, basil or dill)

2 kiwi fruit, chopped

 

Yellow-Orange

1-2 yellow or orange carrots, sliced or grated

1 yellow or orange pepper, chopped in thin 1″ strips

1 pint heirloom colored grape or other tomatoes

1 cup golden cauliflower florets

1 cup yellow beets (steamed or boiled), cubed

1-2 oranges or 1 grapefruit, bite sized pieces

1 mango, chopped

 

Pink-Red

1 cup watermelon radish, cut into small cubes

1 red pepper, chopped in thin 1″ strips

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 small red onion, sliced thinly

1 cup beets (steamed or boiled), cubed

1 cup pomegranate seeds (or seeds from one pomegranate)

1-2 cups strawberries, sliced or raspberries

1/2 cup gogi berries

 

Purple-Blue

1 purple pepper, chopped in thin 1″ strips

1-2 purple carrots, sliced or grated

1 cup purple cauliflower florets

1 cup roasted eggplant

1 cup blueberries or blackberries

 

White-Beige

1 cup cauliflower florets

1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced

2 salad turnips, sliced

1 small kohlrabi, cut in thin strips

1 small jicama, cut in thin strips

 

Plant Protein

Choose at least 1-2 protein sources for your salad. Some great options are:

6-8 oz. smoked tofu, cubed

6-8 oz. tofu, cubed and sautéed with tamari, turmeric, herbs and spices

6-8 oz tempeh, cooked

1-2 cups chickpeas or other beans

1-2 cups lentils

1 cup hummus

4-8 falafel balls or other veggie balls

 

Healthy Fats

Choose one or two healthy fat sources to help enhance nutrient absorption from your meal.

1/4 cup peanuts

1/4 cup tree nuts (e.g. pecans, walnuts, almonds)

1/4 cup seeds (e.g. pumpkin, sunflower or hemp)

1 avocado, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup olives, whole pitted or sliced

 

Great Starches

Choose one starchy vegetable or grain to add calories and make the meal more satisfying.

1 sweet potato, steamed and cubed

1 purple or white potato, steamed and cubed

1 cup butternut squash (or other winter squash), steamed and cubed

1 cup corn

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 cup cooked kamut or spelt

1 cup cooked wild rice

 

Herbs

Add herbs for a boost of flavor and phytochemicals.

1/4 to 1/2 cup dill, parsley, basil or other fresh herbs

 

Directions

  1. Wash and prepare the vegetables as outlined above.
  2. Place the leafy vegetables in a large bowl.
  3. Top with other colorful vegetables.
  4. Add the plant protein source and starchy choices if eating the whole salad. If saving some of the salad for another day, keep the protein source, starchy choice and avocado separate and add just before serving.
  5. Serve with a nut or seed-based dressing.

 

 

 

Arranging Flowers Like a Pro

To all flowers lovers including yours truly, here is a short and sweet video to how to arrange flowers like a pro from Food52 for your parties and just pure bliss at home.  Play around with your glass containers, bud vase, egg vase, canning jars, etc. for beautiful arrangements on your tabletops, shelves, and fireplaces!

Courtesy of Food52.com