Strawberry Kale Salad

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Kale is a cruciferous veggie full of fibre, Vitamins A, C, K & folate, favonoids. Consumption lowers the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Strawberries are full of antioxidants and help stabilize blood sugar levels. Avocados are a true superfood - providing much needed healthy fats in addition to other nutrients. You should try to only eat organic kale and strawberries however, as they are one of the most pesticide laden foods if conventionally farmed. Organic options are usually easily found. Bon Appétit! Kale-Strawberry-Avocado-Salad-6
For the salad:

4 cups chopped organic kale, stems removed
Pinch of sea salt
1 cup sliced organic strawberries
1 avocado, chopped
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup goat cheese

For the Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing:

2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon raw honey
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Put the kale in a large bowl. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over the kale and massage the leaves with your hands until the leaves are darker in color and tender.

2. Add the strawberries, avocado, almonds, and feta cheese. Toss gently.

3. In a small jar, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, poppy seeds, salt, and pepper. Shake until mixed well.

4. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Serve and eat immediately.

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7 steps to create a breath-centered practice

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breatheI like to think of the breath as a thread that connects both the body and the mind in any given moment. The quality of your breath has an immediate impact on the way your body feels and on the state of your mind: a short, shallow breath immediately creates tension and anxiety while a slow, deep and smooth breath invites relaxation and ease.

Whatever type of yoga practice you engage in, there should always be some level of focus on breath awareness. In fact, I believe that the breath should really guide your practice, whether is a more active vinyasa or a quiet yin style.

Here are some steps to help you create that breath-centered practice:

1. Set an Intention: What are you trying to accomplish with the breath? With your practice? Here is an example - My intention is to move from this frazzled, stressed-out state to more balance, focus and awareness.

2. Focus Awareness into Your Body: When we breathe, the chest and belly are supposed to expand together and when you breathe out, return back to their original shape. This pattern can be altered because of breathing restrictions or holding patterns. Becoming aware of how your breath moves different parts of the body will help restore this natural pattern.

3. Prepare Your Body: Spend some time opening the back, chest and neck so that you can breathe fully. If you plan on sitting, spend some time opening the hips as well.

4. Play with the Inhale/Exhale: Long deep breaths help to oxygenate the body properly so that all of its systems function at their best. Anyone can benefit from increasing their breathing capacity. Practice lengthening both the breath in and out. Pause and notice how this feels.

4. Pick a Breathing Technique: There are many pranayama techniques to choose from, but two come to mind that are perfect for beginners: Deerga Breath (3 Part Breath) and Ujjayi (Ocean or Victorious Breath). In my 7 Week Free Practice series I provide instruction on the Deerga Breath. The Ujjayi breath is done by creating a gentle contraction in the back of the throat, almost like a smile, on both the inhalation and exhalation. You should hear a very soft ocean like sound (haaaaaaaa).

5. Interweave Your Breath Through Your Practice: A breath theme needs to be simple and consistent. There is no need to work with the breath in every pose, allow free breath in between. For example, when you are in each asana, take 5 breaths where each breath cycle is 10 seconds long (inhale for 4, pause for 1, exhale for 4, pause for 1). In between the poses, be mindful to keep your natural breath deep and flowing.

6. Sigh it Out! Sighing out the exhalation from time to time in your practice is a wonderful way to let go of tension in the body, soften your throat and bring yourself right back into the moment. Play with vocalizing the sigh, feeling how this can deepen your experience.

7. Mindful Review: After your practice, take a few moments to review. What worked in your practice and what didn't? How would you like to adapt things for next time? A yoga practice is continually evolving and taking some time for reflection provides a profound opportunity for svadhyaya (self-study).

Breathing with awareness is one of the best ways to really feel alive! I'd love to hear about your breath/practice experiences - please share your thoughts below.

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Evolving Consciousness Yoga Retreat with Carla

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November 16-23, 2013: Join Carla at Sky Temple in beautiful Yelapa, Mexico (near Puerto Vallarta) for a week long yoga retreat that will explore our connectedness to the Self and the world around us. Together we will use asana practice, meditation, deep relaxation, discussion and reflection to examine how the layers of yoga practice deepen self-understanding and evolve both the individual and collective consciousness. All levels welcome!

YOUR 7 NIGHT PACKAGE INCLUDES:

Yoga! 2 classes every day
Accommodation based on double occupancy for 7 nights
Gourmet brunch after every morning practice
Short private consultation and customized homeopathic remedy to help you release and move deeper during the retreat
Reception/orientation snacks upon arrival
Final night dinner and party
Airport transfers at designated times
Mexican fish grill with a local family
Guided hike to waterfall
An amazing and unforgettable experience!
Cost: $1,350 US before August 15, $1,550 US after

**Save an additional $100 if you pay in full before May 31!**

Contact Carla at carla@dharmadesk.com to register or for more details!

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Paleo Brownies

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We are always on the lookout for great recipes that don't use a lot of sugar or grains, this one has it all - low gycemic index, nutritious and delicious. You won't believe something so yummy is this good for you!

• 1 cup blanched almond flour
• ¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
• ¼ teaspoon baking soda
• 4 ounces UNSWEETENED baking chocolate (100% cacao)
• 7 Medjool dates (1/2-2/3 cup) pits removed
• 3 large eggs
• ½ cup coconut oil, melted
• ½ teaspoon vanilla stevia

In a food processor, pulse together almond flour, salt and baking soda.

Pulse in squares of dark chocolate until the texture of coarse sand.

Pulse in dates until the texture of coarse sand.

Pulse in eggs.

Pulse in coconut oil and stevia until mixture is smooth.

Transfer mixture to a greased 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Mixture will be very thick, smooth with a spatula.

Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes. Cool for 2 hours, then serve.

Source: http://www.elanaspantry.com/paleo-brownies/

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Adrenal Support Smoothie

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Here is a smoothie that will help nourish your adrenals and get your day off to a great start! It includes Maca powder, one of the ultimate energy boosting superfoods. Maca can reduce the effects of cortisol on the adrenal glands and is known for its adaptogenic effect (increases the ability of an organism to adapt to environmental factors including stress).

1 cup green tea, chilled or room temp
1 fresh banana
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon maca
1/2 tablespoon ginger spice or fresh ginger, grated
A dash of Celtic sea salt
A little honey, maple syrup, or stevia to sweeten (optional)

Place all of the ingredients into your blender and blend for around 30-45 seconds or until your desired consistency is reached. Yum!!

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Gluten Free AND Delicious Pizza Crust

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We are really trying to eat less gluten in our house and for the most part we do pretty well. But there are a few things that just don't translate well in the gluten free world and one of them is a pizza crust. Especially for kids. But last night I think I finally made something that is healthy, gluten free and (most importantly) delicious! This recipe is modified from the Wheat Belly Cookbook Dr. William Davis.

1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1-1/2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup channa (chickpea) flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseeds
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
seasonings as desired
2 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all dry ingredients followed by the wet ones. Mix thoroughly. Pour dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (this is critical!). Either spread it out fairly think into your pizza shape, or place another piece of parchment paper on top and roll it out with a rolling pin. It will be very sticky and soft. Very carefully remove the top parchment paper and form a crust edge with a spatula. Bake for 20 minutes until golden. Remove and add pizza toppings and place back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!

and for a good laugh, check out this great video One Grain More - a great food allergy parody set to Les Misérables.

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