my ayurveda routine

My Ayurveda Morning Routine… Then & Now

Back in February I had this idea: Start a new ayurveda morning routine (or, at least, ayurvedic-based). Blog about it.

The routine included activities I was already doing, such as yoga and meditation, so I was building on it. It also incorporated habits that I used to have but had stopped.

I started strong. Then a few weeks in I started a new corporate day job and my schedule changed both in terms of how long I had for said routine, and my blogging schedule. Honestly, for the first month of my employment I had little energy to do anything outside of work. (Working to make money vs. working on my passion is a topic I'm putting some notes together on, potentially to create an article on LinkedIn.)

What's in an ayurveda morning routine?

When I started my routine, based on some googling and what I'd seen in an Instagram account I follow, it looked like this – though the order would sometimes change:

  1. Meditate (20 minutes) – I still use the Insight Timer app.
  2. Journal (15 minutes)
  3. Scrape tongue with a plastic tongue scraper (30 seconds or so)
    • Ayurveda recommends scraping away white coating that accumulates on the tongue overnight. This coating is perceived as accumulated undigested toxins sitting in the digestive tract. Those toxins can cause illness.
  4. Splashing cool water on my face/in my eyes, 7 times.
    • Ayurveda recommends splashing your face and eyes with water as soon as you wake up, seven times. Seven represents the body’s chakras, or energy centers.
  5. Drink a half liter or full liter of warm water.
    • Some practitioners recommend lemon, some recommend lime. Morning lemon water has long been part of my routine. Sometimes I juice of lemons or limes. Other times I use lemon or lime essential oil from Young Living, or their Citrus Fresh essential oil blend, which contains orange, grapefruit, mandarin, tangerine, lemon, and spearmint. Some days I get my magnesium in, with Natural Calm lemon flavoured powder.
  6. Give myself a body massage with coconut oil or sesame oil (washed off in the shower).
  7. Oil pulling with coconut oil and a couple of drops of Living Libations Healthy Gum Drops, done for 10-20 minutes.
    • Oil pulling is where you swish oil around on your mouth.  I scoop up some oil with a spoon, add the gum drops, and pop it in my mouth. It's part of the oral hygiene routine, though NOT a replacement for brushing teeth. When you spit, always do it into a garbage can, as it can clog pipes.
  8. Skin brushing with a dry skin brush before showering.
    • Skin brushing, allegedly, helps encourages lymphatic drainage, improves blood flow, and rejuvenates the nervous system by stimulating nerve endings in the skin. It improves circulation and helps rid toxins from the body.

So many steps!

That's a LOT of steps. I also walk my dog in the morning, and like to do morning yoga. It's time consuming, and I was keeping it up at least 6 days a week. I tried including pranayama (breathing) exercises but I kept forgetting to do them.

Sometimes I multi-tasked with other activities on the list, or with other activities. For example, I'd oil up and then sit at my computer, or oil up and then empty the dishwasher. Or sit with oil on my body and in my mouth at the same time.

Oil pulling is one of the activities that I've been doing on and off for years, and I usually do it in the shower (again, spitting into a garbage can). Once, I sat down on the couch with my body oiled and coconut oil in my mouth while my man told me stories. For 10 minutes, I nodded and “mmmhmmm”ed , amused by it.

From this morning: Preparing for morning oil pulling with @nutiva coconut oil with 2 drops of @livinglibations Happy Gum Drops. 20 minutes of swishing later, my mouth feels fresh and clean. Next step: Brushing with Living Libations Tooth Truth Powder Polish and Neem Enamelizer liquid and my @drtungs ionic toothbrush – all part of the Living Libations Successful Self Dentistry Kit. My mouth always feels extra clean when I use these products. I'm almost out of the enamelizer. I've been making it last by not using it every time I brush, instead alternating with an all-natural toothpaste. Living Libations also makes an oil swishing serum that's on my wishlist for the future. . . . #ayurveda #ayurvedicremedies #morningslikethese #healthyliving #wellness #oralhealth #findinghealthwellness

A post shared by Andrea Toole (@findinghealthwellness) on

(My sister commented that she has a similar routine. Of course she does!)

My Ayurveda morning routine now…

When I stared my new job I couldn't sustain that time-consuming ayurveda morning routine. Some experts say that you should wake up at 6 am, or before the sun. By the end of March, the sun is rising around 7 a.m. My optimal sleep cycle is 11 p.m. -7 a.m., though 10:30-6:30 is do-able and 6:30 wake up is necessary now. I still need 2 hours before I leave for work in the morning!

I need 8 hours of sleep, though can get by on 7.5 without feeling too bad. When my dog was a puppy I DID get up before 6 a.m. to walk her before work but she's older now and her morning needs have changed.

So here's what I say to 6 a.m. wake up – and especially any time earlier: Screw it. If you can do it, that's great! We all have different needs and rhythms. I'm a little envious, but I'm satisfied where I'm at, I'd just like to get up a little earlier. Last week I made myself 3 versions of a morning schedule. One does have a 6 a.m. wake up. I eye it in the way that one looks at something unappealing. Then I sleep later. Maybe if I start with 15-minute increments…

Do what's right for you (find YOUR health and wellness)

In an article on Chopra.com, provides the following note before its ayurvedic-inspired morning routine:

These suggestions for morning habits are inspired by traditions in Ayurveda; however, the invitation is to try them out, do what feels right, skip the ones that don’t, add ones that balance you best. They can be done in any order. Whether you’re already an early riser or more of a drag-myself-out-of-bed, stumble-to-the-coffeemaker, why-is-it-so-bright, kind of person—these tips will help you get a jump on your day.

Indeed. And I did.

The activities I kept were those that were already part of my life:

  • Meditation (20 minutes tops these days, though I'm striving for earlier wake up and longer sessions)
  • Journal
  • Yoga
  • Tongue scrape
  • Skin brush
  • Oil pull in the shower. Above, I said that I take a spoonful of the oil. In past warmer months when the oil was melted, I swigged straight from the container.  My Happy Gum Drops are a new addition – maybe I'll drop them straight into my mouth.
  • Drink warm water. I've been saying for years that even if I neglect to drink water throughout the day, at least I know I've had my morning water.

After 100 days of meditation I missed a day. And then went back to it. I'm doing yoga most days but I occasionally do skip. I loved challenging myself and feeling really good about streaks but I eventually decided to go easy on my self if I miss a day.

Sometimes I forget to skin brush as part of this ayurveda morning routine. I often forget to splash water on my face. Most mornings I go from bedroom to living room for yoga/meditate/journal. The massage would be nice, but it's more of a treat now. I remember one evening after I'd done it in the morning, when suddenly felt my neck release nicely and knew it was a result. The timing just doesn't work right now.

How do I feel from all this ayurveda morning routine stuff?

I honestly don't know if the skin brushing is benefiting me, but often times we don't see or feel health benefits. Not seeing or feeling doesn't mean it's not working, nor does it mean that it is.

My tongue always feels cleaner with a good tongue scrape. I use the small plastic scraper that came with the Living Libations Successful Self-Dentistry Kit that I won last year. Some people swear by stainless steel or copper. You could use the back of a spoon. I used to sometimes do that.

My teeth always feel cleaner with I oil pull before brushing. It amazes me that oil pulling will loosen debris from the day before that evening flossing did not.

I was sick with colds in both March and April, even though I usually only get sick twice a year, in fall and spring. However, both times the cold lasted less than a week. The first one stayed mostly in my chest. I didn't even go through an entire box of Kleenex. The second one was more intense and in my nose, but brief. It could be the ayurveda morning routine, the turmeric consumption, or the Genuine Health probiotics I've been taking.

All I know is that I'm trying, and being as consistent as possible without being extreme about it.

We try our best and be gentle on ourselves. That's the way to live.

I'm glad it took me a couple of months to get around to blogging this because it provided the opportunity for a “then and now” post, which I think is more interesting and relatable.

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brown-cane-sugar-cubes

The Most Popular Drugs in the World

At the end of my Project Claudia post, I promised I'd address this one.

What do you think are the most popular drugs in the world?

By some definitions, it is marijuana but there are two others that are legal and so commonly used that people don't think of them as drugs at all.

Before I tell you what they are, I want to define two terms. Emphasis mine:

1. Drug:

“a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.” (Source: Google “drug definition”)
“any article, other than food, intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of humans or other animals.” (Source: dictionary.com)
something and often an illegal substance that causes addiction, habituation, or a marked change in consciousness” (Source: Merriam-Webster)

2. Addiction:
“compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal” (Source: Merriam-Webster)
“the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.” (Source: dictionary.com)

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people begin taking drugs for a variety of reasons, including:

  • to feel good
  • to feel better
  • to do better – improve performance
  • curiosity and peer pressure

According to The American Psychiatric Association (APA), symptoms of addiction – or “substance use disorder” are grouped into four categories:

– Impaired control: a craving or strong urge to use the substance; desire or failed attempts to cut down or control substance use
– Social problems: significant problems at home, school, or work, including relationship problems; you stop doing activities you usually enjoy in order to use the substance (or perform the activity, as would be the case with addictions to gambling or internet or porn – to name a few).
– Risky use: you place yourself in settings or situations that could be or are dangerous just so you can continue to use.
– Drug effects: tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. (See M-W definition above.)

Can you think of any everyday, common substances that fit these definitions and characteristics of drugs and addiction?

The two I'm thinking of are both white powders: One bitter, one sweet.

Remember, I'm talking legal drugs here, so no, it's not cocaine.

Common additive substance #1

This is one of them:
caffeinemolecule2

Its molecules are made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen atoms.

You likely have the means of making it at home. You likely consume it daily, or often.

It's available in grocery stores and specialty shops.

Two writers in The Atlantic referred to it as, “The World’s Most Popular Drug”.

Continue reading “The Most Popular Drugs in the World”

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Infographic: fermented Greek yogurt proteins+
infographic:  fermented Greek yogurt proteins+
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fermented GREEK YOGURT proteins+ pancakes
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fermented Greek Yogurt proteins+ cherry almond vanilla
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Genuine Health fermented Greek yogurt proteins+

OPA header

Genuine Health fermented Greek yogurt proteins+  is my new favourite product, from one of my favourite companies in the wellness industry.

Let me back up a few months…

In January, I attended an event that promoted Greens+ Extra Energy. My inner nutrition nerd was stimulated. While I was already an occasional Greens+ user, I fell in love with the company. I subsequently begged them to hire me. They haven't yet, but they still might when the right opportunity comes along. The post I wrote about that event is one of my favourite pieces of writing. I've since quoted this part to other people, regarding the taste of Greens+:

Your entire life you’ve been eating or drinking stuff that’s not delicious simply because it’s good for you. As an adult, you do it because you’re taking responsibility for your own health. Ideally, you’d like it, but if you can tolerate it without hating it, that’s good enough. You suck it up and you do it because it’s part of “adulting”.

I continue to be impressed with the scientific research that goes into Genuine Health products and how conscious they are to combine specific ingredients and specific formats. It's easy for companies to put together a bunch of inferior ingredients, or inferior parts of an ingredient (say, a less effective part of a plant) and call it a healthy formula, but quality matters.

And so, when I got the invitation for the launch of a new product, I didn't hesitate to say yes. I knew that I would be educated and fed. I got up early to go to a breakfast event promoting fermented Greek yogurt proteins+ at Mamakas Taverna (80 Ossington Ave, Toronto).

Here's a snippet of the information I got from Genuine Health's publicity company:

Continue reading “Genuine Health fermented Greek yogurt proteins+”

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Fiddleheads

It’s springtime: Try Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads

Recognize those? Those are fiddleheads, in the wild. Along with

Those are fiddleheads, in the wild. Along with ramps/wild leeks, fiddleheads  – also referred to as “fiddlehead ferns” – mark the start of spring and have a very short edible season.

Fiddleheads are the unfurled frond of the ostrich fern. They're so-called because they resemble the curled ornamentation (scroll) on the head (end) of a fiddle. Fiddle head.

Fiddleheads are harvested for use as a vegetable. They're valued because they're beautiful, they have a delicate flavour and because of their brief availability. The psychology of “scarcity” drives people to them – the idea of “It's spring! Fiddleheads are here! Better eat them before they're gone!” Unlike other vegetables, you can't really eat imports because they're so delicate. Fiddleheads are also a score if you can find them while foraging. You must find them before they unfurl. Once they unfurl it's too late.

Continue reading “It's springtime: Try Fiddleheads”

Ramps in forest
ramps-flickr

It’s Springtime. Ramp It Up With Wild Leeks!

It's springtime here in Ontario. According to the calendar been springtime for nearly two months, but the weather finally feels like spring. I get really excited with the warmer weather and not just because I'm not a fan of the cold. Sure, March brings maple syrup, and I look forward to that every year, but his time of year, May, is when the new cycle of vegetables begins. Next month we'll start to see fruit and in a month and a half the strawberries will be out. However, I'm getting ahead of myself. This post is about the start of spring vegetables! Over the next few days, I'm going to profile a few of these.

It's been awhile since I blogged regularly and I'm trying to get into a new routine – blogging first thing in the morning – and getting back to what I used to do well, in blog posts and newsletters for the CSA program I was part of. That is, research and present my research. After all, this website is about curating content and educating. My blogging mission statement for the past several years and through several blogs has been “writes to educate”.

Continue reading “It's Springtime. Ramp It Up With Wild Leeks!”

OneHopKitchen

A Non-Vegan Meat Replacer Showcased at The Green Living Show

This weekend in Toronto: The Green Living Show

I stopped by yesterday morning before it opened for a media preview. I didn't get to see everything, because not every booth was set up and I had a long to-do list outside of the show, but I did take particular interest in a food startup company called C-FU Foods/One Hop Kitchen. I'm a sucker for startups. I'm currently working for my third. Here's a description from the C-FU Foods website:

Through our innovative process we’ve created a healthy meat replacement that helps you create culinary staples like burgers, schnitzel or nuggets. It can also act as an alternative to eggs or butter, making it as adaptable as it is sustainable. It’s even a protein powder that you can whip it into a morning shake.

If you think that this refers to soy or wheat gluten or something else vegan, you're wrong.

OneHopKitchen
I thought I got a photo of the sauce on pasta but I can't find it.

It's insects.

There are an estimated 1,462 species of recorded edible insects

The company has two branches. One Hop Kitchen makes their sustainable Bolognese sauces made with crickets & mealworms.

Here are some facts about cricket meal/flour:

  • It contains 10x the amount of B12 as salmon* (Source: Cricket Flours – though one of the lads from C-Fu Foods mentioned high B12 too, and so that's the first thing I googled for this post.)
  • It contains 5.9mg of iron per 100 grams, which is almost TWICE more than the amount you get from spinach, 3.5mg per 100 grams. (Source: Cricket Flours)
  • By dry weight, a single cricket ranges between 65% – 70% pure protein. Beef is between 17% – 40% protein, with the rest being primarily fat (Source: Cricket Flours)
  • 100 grams of cricket contains: 121 calories, 12.9 grams of protein, 5.5 g. of fat, 5.1 g. of carbohydrates, 75.8 mg. calcium, 185.3 mg. of phosphorous, 9.5 mg. of iron, 0.36 mg. of thiamin, 1.09 mg. of riboflavin, 3.10 mg. of niacin and .05% fat. 

 (source: Insects are food)

Mealworms

  • 53% protein, 28% fat

I didn't flinch when I found out about the sauces. I'd been to a bug-tasting dinner before and listened to presentations about eating insects for environmental sustainability and health. My exact phrase to the lads at the table, the first time this phrase has ever left my lips, “It's a psychological mind fuck.”

I did a blind taste test of three sauces. One meat, one mealworm, one cricket. I got them all wrong.

If you're at the Green Living Show this weekend, look for the booth. Can make it this weekend? They'll have a booth at The Gladstone Hotel's Grow Op event on April 22.

Further reading:

 

Ryza menu
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Ryza is nice-a

Ryza is nice-a was originally published to my other blog, Canadianfoodiegirl.com, on October 23, 2012. This is another one of my favourite posts ever from that site. It may have gotten ideas turning about a separate website for health and wellness. It was definitely a turning point, because who goes to a cooking class sponsored by rice milk and ends up writing about anti-nutrients and phytonutrients?


I recently participated in an interactive cooking class at Loblaws Maple Leaf Gardens, lead by Chef Patricia Muzzi of Mood Food Culinary. The class featured Ryza brand rice milk.

In the first part of the evening, Chef Muzzi introduced us to the recipes we'd be using, discussed their affects on the brain and gave suggestions for incorporating them into everyday cooking. Her company's mission is to bring awareness to the vital connection between food and the brain and how it impacts overall health and well-being. That's my language.

Participants were split into three groups to create an appetizer, entrée and dessert using Chef Muzzi's recipes with Ryza as the featured ingredient.

On the menu:

Zucchini & Bell Pepper Fritters w Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce Turkey Scaloppini with Leeks & Peas in wild mushroom sauce Sweet Vanilla & Peach Risotto Pudding w Dark Chocolate
Zucchini & Bell Pepper Fritters w Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce
Turkey Scaloppini with Leeks & Peas in wild mushroom sauce
Sweet Vanilla & Peach Risotto Pudding w Dark Chocolate

I dredged the turkey. You might have read this post in which I talk about my hands being my favourite kitchen tool.

Truthfully, I didn't notice the mention of Ryza in the event invitation. When, upon arrival, I learned that the purpose was to promote a product, I was relieved that it was Ryza. A lot of other products would have had me wanting to bolt from the room, but Ryza happens to be my favourite brand of rice milk. My mother introduced it to me years ago.

Why do I like it?

Two reasons:
1. It's made with brown rice.
2. As my mother pointed out, it's the only rice milk on the market without oil as an ingredient.

The idea of sunflower/safflower oil as an additive to rice milk creeps me out.

Ryza comes in two flavours: Original and vanilla. The ingredients of the original: Water, whole grain brown rice, calcium phosphate tribasic, salt, carrageenan, amylase, vitamin A palmitate, zinc gluconate, riboflavin, vitamin D, vitamin B12.

I'm generally not a fan of ingredients that sound science-y, but these are a-ok to me. Calcium phosphate tribasic comes from nature – either bone/bone ash or rock. Carrageenan (a thickener) comes from seaweed.

In theory I prefer to make my own nondairy milks. In practice I buy my nondairy milk because of how quickly the home made stuff spoils. [2016 update: That's changed.]

Listen up, class

Continue reading “Ryza is nice-a”

Greens+ fermented
Greens+research_study_Boon
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Greens+ Double Chocolate Frappuccino
Joy McCarthy Greens+
Greens+ vitamin tablet
greens+ Extra Energy - Cappuccino
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Greens+Extra Energy package

Greens+ & More: An Afternoon With Genuine Health

Greens+ & More: An Afternoon With Genuine Health

What's the first thing you put into your body each day?

Is it coffee? Tea? lemon water? regular water? juice? a smoothie? or maybe a different green drink? Do you like to drink your greens? What's your experience with greens drinks?

I'm genuinely interested (feel free to comment below). And I needed an opener so that what comes next doesn't appear out of context separate from the rest of this piece.

It's Not Easy Being Green

Memory:

My mother brought home a new greens powder to try, a product called Greens+. Standing in the kitchen, she mixed it with water, tasted it, grimaced, handed it to me, I tasted it, I grimaced. We agreed that it tastes the way fish food smells. We refused to drink it again.

I don’t remember if she returned it, but it was more than 20 years ago.

Continue reading “Greens+ & More: An Afternoon With Genuine Health”

Goji-berries
cinnamon
chia seeds
Prepping oatmeal at night
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Steel cut oatmeal-before
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Goji-berries
cinnamon
Steelcut oats
Steelcut oats
Steel cut oats

Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal

Winter recipe: Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal was originally published to my other blog, Canadianfoodiegirl.com, on February 27, 2014. This is one of my favourite posts ever from that site.
An update: I've recently discovered Bob's Red Mill Quick Cooking Steel Cut Oats. They are ready in under 10 minutes, stove top. I found them at Costco when they were being sampled. Online you can buy them at well.ca.
So, you can choose overnight (steel cut) oatmeal, which smells delicious in the morning but requires planning, or the quick cooking steel cut oats, which cook while you shower.

Several years ago I went through a phase during which I’d make steel cut oats in my slow cooker once a week using Alton Brown’s Overnight Oatmeal recipe as a guideline (rather than a strict instruction) and portioning it out to make 4 servings last for 5 work days.

Recently I started making it again but with a half recipe each day for the two of us so that it’s fresh each day. Throwing the ingredients in the slow cooker before bed takes less time and motivation than whipping something up in the morning when I’m trying to get out the door. The smell of the cooked oats in the morning will get you out of bed.

I use a variety of add-ins. They include goji berries and other dried fruit, hemp seeds, flaked coconut, chia seeds, ground cinnamon (almost always those last two), sunflower lecithin granules and vanilla powder. I’ve added canned pumpkin. Sometimes I add yogurt when I portion it out.

Continue reading “Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal”

New blog post - Smart Fat
smart fat book preview
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New Book: Smart Fat

New Book: Smart Fat

Disclaimer: Links in this post are affiliate links (as most on this website are). I was also sent a manuscript of Smart fat to peruse.

Smart Fat - fat is your friend.
Fat's gotten a bad reputation in the past. In the early 90s, Susan Powter wrote the book Stop the Insanity and with her charisma, she got her own talk show. I remember her shouting, “Fat makes you fat!” It's now more than two decades later. People still believe that fat makes you fat. Low-fat dieting is still a thing. “Low fat!!” is still a marketing ploy and fat is often replaced with unhealthy ingredients. Meanwhile, many studies and experts have disputed that fat is “bad for you”, instead claiming that your body needs fat. Your body needs the right fat. Your body relies on fat. Your body needs smart fat.

The brain is made mostly of fat, so does it not make sense that you need fat to at least keep that functional? Studies and my own experiences show that fat can help prevent depression and relieve attention deficit disorder (ADD). The outside layer of your cells are made of fat. Fat balances hormones. Your body needs fat, but not every and any fat.

Continue reading “New Book: Smart Fat”