Cat yoga

Cat yoga

Katrice demonstrating “Downward Cat” pose, or maybe Anahatasana, although her form is better than mine! ūüôā

I have been trying to capture my cat doing yoga on my mat for weeks now.¬† Snapping this pic made me really happy, which was fitting because today’s mantra in the series I have been practicing is “I celebrate.”

I haven’t posted in a long time because this past year brought many challenging changes to my life and I am of the mindset that if one doesn’t have something positive to say, then it’s probably best to say nothing at all.¬† Over the past year, my sister passed away, I moved away from the apartment that I loved, I lost my job and I nearly lost my mother as well.¬† Integrating these changes has been changing me as a person, molding me into a new shape from the inside out.¬† What has saved me, mentally and spiritually, is physically molding myself into new shapes via my daily yoga practice.¬† After such a long hiatus, I felt led to breathe new life into my blog by sharing this series because it has helped me so much.¬† Below is the video that I did today, and her whole “Yoga with Adrienne” channel is just full of really good, healing, high-vibration stuff.¬† While this 30 day challenge is ending soon, you can always go back and start from Day 1, or check out the other 30 Days of Yoga challenge she did last year. I have done both and they are just excellent, so much so that I felt I had to post and share.

Namaste,

Mercedi

 

 

 

11 minutes to a better YOU

The number 11 is significant in kundalini yoga. It is a high vibration number and symbolizes the principle of enlightenment.

Whenever I feel I don’t have enough time for things like meditation or exercise, I can almost always set aside 11 minutes to do it and afterwards I always feel calmer, more centered and like I accomplished something worthwhile — definitely better than I did before.

In some ways, 11 minutes is the perfect amount of time for meditation. Just enough time for your mind to really let go but not too much time where it has a chance to wander or to feel like a chore.

As far as exercise goes, 11 minutes may not sound like a lot but 11 minutes is better than zero minutes. Plus, if you can manage to do 11 minutes in the morning and 11 at night, you’re just under the recommended 30 min per day!

I also like to engage this magic number by holding my stretches for an 11 count. Or, if I’m really short on time, I’ll “sprinkle in” fitness by just doing 11 reps of any exercise whenever I can throughout the day. Just moving your body often, in a way that feels good to you is what is most important.

Give your mind and your body just 11 minutes and your spirit will thank you. Trust me. ūüôā

Why you should be drinking aloe vera juice

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Since I stopped drinking I’ve found a new use for my shot glasses.

Most people are aware of the anti-inflammatory benefits of aloe vera and have probably used it on a cut or a burn. Aloe has strong anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agent, and aids the regeneration of cells. But did you know that by drinking the juice, you can help heal intestinal inflammation as well as aid your digestion and elimination?

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You can buy the inner filet juice or the whole leaf blend. The whole leaf tastes more bitter and has stronger laxative properties. I drink the inner filet juice, as it is what is recommended for long term use.

Besides helping with healing and regularity, aloe is a great detoxifier and reportedly increases metabolism. You can find it at your local health food store or you can juice the plant leaves in your juicer.

Everything you need for two weeks of gluten-free and dairy-free deliciousness

You may know that many people suffer from inflammation in their intestines and that gluten is often the main culprit.  It takes about 2-3 weeks for our intestines to heal and for our digestion to become stronger. Then we can begin to re-introduce the offending food in smaller amounts, to determine if we can tolerate it. I decided to do a two week experiment on myself and had some great results!

When I first set out to do this, I was intimidated and thought it would be hard but it was not hard at all! The main thing is to have a good plan for what you are going to eat for everyday of the week (in other words: write it down!) and the rest takes care of itself. I have a marker board on my refrigerator where I spell out the weekly plan for myself in no uncertain terms: breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, dessert. I also go to the grocery store or farmer’s market frequently — about every 3 days.¬† This ensures I have a fridge stocked with fresh fruits and veggies so I can whip up a green juice or a quick salad on the fly and not be tempted to eat a something packaged or processed. I wanted to share an example of exactly what I ate for two weeks because I know how helpful it is to have a solid plan in front of you to go by, and I’ve included links for the foods I made that require a recipe.

Breakfast:

A fresh veggie juice makes the perfect snack or light meal

A fresh veggie juice makes the perfect snack or light meal

*Paleo muffins with honey butter
*Almond porridge
*Teff pancakes
*Fresh veggie juice (add chia seeds to keep you full for longer)
*Egg cooked in coconut oil with dash of cayenne

 

Snacks:

*Celery with sunflower seed butter
*1/2 Avocado with lime and black pepper
*Sliced tomato with basil leaves and balsamic vinegar or sprinkled with sea salt and topped with hemp seeds

 

Lunches:

*Dinner Leftovers or…
*Rotel and brown rice
*Can of Amy’s chunky tomato bisque – I added hemp seeds and fresh lime juice
*Salad with your choice of veggies and homemade dijon vinagrette (see below)

 

Dinners:

*Broiled Salmon (I added lemon juice, salt and pepper) with sauteed spinach or steamed green beans
*broccoli, carrot and potato soup
*Tamale pie  For this recipe, I used teff flour (instead of oat or rice flour) and a can of gluten-free chili
*Refried bean “tacos” on corn tortillas with picante sauce and fresh cilantro
*Baked sweet potato with butter and cinnamon
*A big bowl of roasted veggies, My favs are broccoli, carrot, zucchini and garlic cloves roasted in coconut oil. Top with or dip in miso tahini sauce (see below)

Adding dragon fruit makes frozen banana ice cream extra pretty!

Adding dragon fruit makes frozen banana ice cream extra pretty!

 

Dessert:

*bananas and raisins drizzled with honey or agave/date/maple syrup
*Coconut date balls
*Frozen banana ice cream
*Golden milk
*hot herbal tea

 

 

Sauces and dressings:

Having a sauce for your veggies really helps keep them from being so boring.  I like to get creative and mix any of the following together in roughly equal parts to jazz things up:

These staples add flavor and protein to bland veggie dishes.

These staples add flavor and protein to bland veggie dishes.

fresh minced garlic
ginger paste
sesame tahini
mellow (light) miso
gluten free tamari (this is just soy sauce, only gluten free!)
almond butter or even peanut butter
rice vinegar

Examples of two of my favorite combos:
miso/soy/ginger
peanut/garlic/soy/ with a splash of rice vinegar

 

 

Making your own salad dressing is a good thing to do so that you know what’s in them. It really only takes a few seconds!¬† Sometimes I just use olive oil and either a splash of balsamic vinegar, or¬† a squeeze of fresh lemon/lime juice but if you want more flavor you can make one of these:

Homemade Dijon vinaigrette:

1tsp Dijon mustard
1.5 tbsp red wine or apple cider vinegar
1.5 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp of agave nectar or brown rice syrup (optional, to add some sweetness)

Creamy almond dressing:

Take about a tbsp of almond butter and stir in some olive oil until it becomes thin enough to pour. That’s it! May sound weird, but it’s sooo yummy and makes a salad keep you full all afternoon.

 

Notes:

*When adding chia seeds to juice, allow at least 10 minutes for them to “gel” before drinking.

*It is best to eat fresh fruit on an empty stomach.¬† Most foods take about 2-4 hours to digest but fruit passes through the digestive system very quickly, in about 30 minutes.¬† You don’t want it to sit on top your your last meal and have a chance to ferment in there, so try to wait a couple hours after a meal if you plan to eat fresh fruit for dessert.

* When buying store-bought items such as picante sauce, always check the labels to make sure there’s nothing weird in there. Look for items that have only two or three ingredients (ex: tomatoes, garlic, salt.)¬† Also, your local health food store and international market are your friends when it comes to finding more pure items as well as things like teff flour, miso, tahini, hemp seeds, etc.

*If you don’t have much time and find yourself having a less-than-exciting meal (say a quick bowl of lettuce, carrots and tomato with olive oil and lemon juice for lunch) then make sure your next meal is a tasty one or else you’ll fall off the wagon quickly.¬† The body wants foods that are flavorful and that look pretty so if we cut too many corners for speed or frequently eat something that looks like mush, the body thinks this is no fun and as a result we’re less likely to stick to the plan.

 

Lastly…

* I’ll admit it –¬† I LOVE COFFEE!! If you are like me and feel you just can’t do without creamer in your morning coffee — do yourself a favor and try blending your coffee in the blender with 1-2 tbsp coconut oil and some stevia, then sit back and watch as your brain says “Yum!” on repeat.¬† The blender emulsifies it like a latte, with a frothy top layer and everything.¬† As you may know, coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil.¬† MCTs burn up as fuel in the body very quickly so they don’t have time to be stored as fat, AND they help speed up metabolism and flush out other fats.¬† It’s a win-win! This coffee is a real treat and since I’ve started doing this, I truly don’t want it any other way! Pro-tip: Pour some hot water into your blender (I do my mug too) while the coffee brews to pre-heat them so that the blending process doesn’t steal the heat from your brew.

 

After doing this for two weeks, all the puffiness that normally surrounds my midsection was gone.¬† My hips also slimmed down. I wish I had taken a “before” shot but here is the after:

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If you’ve been flirting with the idea of going gluten-free, I hope this post inspires you to get creative in the kitchen and encourages you to see just how easy it can be!

Healthy workday snack

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Here is a healthy and filling snack that will keep you away from the vending machine when hunger strikes. I keep a container of sunflower seed spread at my desk and spread it over fresh celery. You could also try dipping carrots.

And yes, that is a dumbbell in the background. I keep a five pound hand weight at my desk and give my arms a little workout whenever I’m on a break/on hold etc. Gotta sprinkle that activity in anywhere you can get it, especially when sitting in a cubicle all day!