Laughter or Silence & Lots of Smiling Happy Faces

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Sometime in the last year an amazing thing happened: I stopped hearing the voices in my head, you know those voices of strangers and acquaintances, loved ones and haters alike, those voices that doubt, criticize, judge, scrutinize, blame, guilt, the voices that make you scream and speechless all at once, those voices that make you question who it is that you are and what you’re doing with your life, if you look good enough, skinny enough, fashionable enough, smart enough (but not too nerdy), beautiful and sexy enough (yet not promiscuous), those voices that sometimes can make you curl up into a ball which you wish would burrow itself in a pit in the earth, away from the voices, those miserable doubting voices.

The first day I stopped hearing the voices, I also stopped seeing those looks, those hurtful, slashing, shattering, raping gazes. At first I felt free of this burden, but then I missed those voices and those looks, because for almost 3 decades they were the standard and definition by which I gauged, measured, sized up, designed, produced ad executed who I was. I felt lost without a compass to navigate, but it soon dawned upon me that this blessing was intended to teach me to develop my own internal map of how I wanted to be, look, feel, act and live my life.

I started meditating to clear my mind of all the competing ideas of how I ought to be and as I developed arguments in favor of who I was going to become, how I would rise from this life-altering experience to become the best version of myself yet, my own voice became stronger, firmer, more confident, optimistic, content, exuberant and uplifting.

I have only just commenced this identity-forming aspect of my journey and I am not sure how it will transform me or where it will take me but I have already learnt some crucial lessons which I want to share.

The first thought that I think of in the morning is the most important and formational thought of the day, so I salute my mornings with positivity and optimism. I force myself to continue positive thinking throughout the day and literally stop myself from pursuing harmful or unproductive chains of thought. I complete stretches while laying in my bed and meditate on the goals I need to achieve throughout the day.

I am also becoming more aware than ever that food truly is more than something to calm a roaring belly- it is medicine! I am nourishing my body with the most nutritious foods and doing so religiously and with conviction that I am and feel like what I eat. I feel more connected and whole when I eat natural raw foods, like I am truly a part of the cycle of life. I also have endless energy and have more than once skipped the opportunity to indulge in cheat meals, which I initially looked forward to. Although I have always been a very positive person, I also find that eating whole raw foods has affected my mood for the better and that my mind is more clear and focused. It’s also been so much fun growing my own food,

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experimenting with new foods and learning to actually prepare and “cook” food that tastes amazing (by my own standards and others’!).

One of my close friends recently noticed that for the first time in my life I am motivated in a different way to pursue my training routine and healthy eating regimen. When she asked me what was different (after asking me who HE is) and why I was so borderline obsessed with working out and eating healthy, I thought about it for a minute and responded that “I’ve just decided that my body is no longer just a means to an end, it is my end!”. I elaborated to list the reasons:

  1. I want to be able to breathe better, deeper and more fully to my lung’s capacity. As I am aging, I find that my breathing is getting not only sluggish but that I am suffering from alot more severe respiratory infections which are compromising the quality of my life.
  2. Although I have already been on all the continents except for one, I have a lot more traveling that I want and need to do! When my family and I travel, we don’y only sit on beaches or in chalets and relax, or on buses while “sightseeing”. Nope, not us Karas! Karas get out in the raw elements and climb on top of mountains to get breathtaking views, crouch deep into caves, zipline across exotic forests and swim deep into the world in the sea! All of these activities require physical fitness and after witnessing my loved ones deteriorate in physical shape and then subsequently miss out on once-in-a-lifetime opportunities whilst on vacation, I am determined to never miss out on such an experience (if I can help it), and especially not because of a lack of physical ability or competence.
  3. I want to be able to chase after my children (and grandchildren!) and play tag, and climb monkey bars and go skiing, among many other things. Just like my second reason, these aspirations require physical prowess 😉

I also decided that I do not want a quick fix or a $300 cleanse (although I do cleanse, believe it is great in any lifestyle and will publish definitely post on this topic later) that surely may help me lose 15 pounds in a month (of h20!) but does nothing to improve my skin, hair, nails or to clarify my mind and thoughts, assist me to perform as well as sleep better, diminish my cravings for unhealthy foods, etc…. So the only option that remains is to sweat out all the pain that resulted in me eating too much and not moving enough! I am trading in my comfort foods, parties and stilettos for whole RAW foods, the gym and studio, and some great shoes made to endure some serious workouts! Interestingly, although I gave myself time and leeway to transition into this lifestlye, for example, by allowing for cheat meals as necessary (up to once a week), I have no desire to utilize these days because I am entirely satisfied with the amazing foods I have learned to prepare and which I am actually excited to eat in the same exact way I was once excited to eat my favorite processed foods. This may seem like an exaggeration or too good to be true but the proof is in the pudding and I challenge anyone to give me thirty days to convince them of not only this possibility but to also prove that everything I am experiencing is possible for you, if you are willing to try something different and treat your body like the temple it truly is. And, when I do infrequently cheat, I bounce right back into my newly chosen lifestyle of healthy eating afterward because I know how good it feels to sweat and burn out my body, as well as to eat foods that I believe God truly designed to heal the diverse and unique stresses that each of our bodies endures.

I don’t miss those voices or those looks, and as far as I’m concerned they can disappear for good. At this point in my life, I see and hear what I want to see and hear, and that is laughter and smily happy faces. I am also more than confident in my capability to create an identity and lifestyle that is suitable and productive for me. I’m totally done with negativity in every shape and form– that includes people, places, activities, experiences, etc.. that do not contribute in some positive way to my life and well-being. I welcome others to join me in a journey towards not only physical wellness, but mental, emotional and spiritual wellness as well. After all, what do you have to lose?

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Progressive VegeGreens Product Review

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I was super disappointed to learn that GNA stopped carrying the Flora brand of Wheatgrass Powder that I have bought for many years when I stopped by today to stock up on some supplements. I decided to give Progressive VegeGreens a try since it was included in the BOGO. VegeGreens is a comprehensive combination of over 60 land, sea and cruciferous vegetables, as well as super green foods, EFAs, pre and probiotics, enzymes and herbal co-factors. With 9 distinctive blends of green foods and plant extracts, VegeGreens supplies an extraordinary spectrum of nutrients ranging from the rare trace minerals found in sea vegetables to the health-enhancing compounds exclusive to cruciferous vegetables.

On the product label as well as its website, the producer claims that VegeGreens, which contains wheatgrass among many other ingredients (insert) provides the following benefits:

  • Restores a healthy pH
  • Supports liver function
  • Detoxifies the body
  • Cleanses the colon
  • Increases energy and renews mental clarity
  • Stimulates and enhances brain function
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Supports cardiovascular health
  • Balances blood sugar
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Improves digestive function
  • Promotes clear, healthy skin
  • Acts as an anti-inflammatory
  • Helps to relieve allergies
  • Tastes great!

Blend of 9 Different Families

The nine botanical families in VegeGreens are Green Food Concentrates, Sea Vegetables, Land Vegetables, Cruciferous Vegetables, Essential Fatty Acids, Phytonutrients, Standardized Herbal Co-factors, Digestive Support and Fibre.These distinctive blends supply an extraordinary spectrum of nutrients that can only be obtained by consuming the entire rainbow of vegetable colours. The power of VegeGreens comes from the numerous individual nutrients that each blend contains, as well as the synergy between the blends.

Taste Test: I purchase the original flavor of the powder format and enjoyed the earthy taste as I am familiar and a little fond of the taste of wheatgrass and green juices, which is kind of what this product tastes like when mixed into water, with a slightly sweet note and aftertaste.

Overall Review: What I really love about this product is that I felt an instant surge of energy within minutes of ingesting it. In fact, I took it after completing a gruelling workout which focused on my legs intensely and was able to do a few more sets of leg exercises less than 30 minutes after! I highly suggest this product since for the money it provides substantially more benefits than wheatgrass powder alone, which is surprisingly costly.

http://progressivenutritional.com/vegegreens/

Dreams DO come True!

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I dreamt a dream 23 days ago (I know because I keep a dream Journal) that I encountered an enchanting experience which 23 days later, today, I surely did. Today was a remarkable day in my life, you know one of those days you remember in vivid detail forever and ever? I not only completed my training towards becoming a certified coach but also partook in an AMAZING workshop/training so that I can facilitate wellness workshops for women and children affected by violence. Now, for those of you who know me and love me, you can imagine how huge a blessing and dream come true this is for me as I have spent the last decade of my life committed to researching how to mitigate the impacts of violence on children and instead develop resilience among them. For those of you who dont know me, now you know and I will also add that I recently became re-committed to fitness and have since made the decision to incorporate my passion for fitness into the work I do with children, youth and their families.

Sooo…this is literally a dream come true!!!!! and because I do NOT believe in coincidence, I know that this is a sign that I have to move forward with my mission of building a bridge between fitness and family conflict so as to antithetically implode that same link and instead support families to develop on a continuum towards wellness and good physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Dreams come true. I am so very fortunate at a relatively young age to have lived to see so many of mine come true. I thank God first and foremost always and then my family and friends whose prayers are definitely being heard. God is great. Never stop working hard or believing in your dreams, if you have a passion follow it, the rewards are unbelievably satisfying in so very many ways!

XOX

Kombucha: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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Kombucha is a traditional drink that is nearly 2,000 years old, with origins that trace from 19th century Russia through Japan and China, into today’s health culture. Kombucha tea is a sour, effervescent beverage.What is Kombucha & How is it Made?Kombucha tea is brewed from what is called a “mushroom” or “mother culture,” which is a gelatinous substance made from tea, sugar, yeast and formed bacteria, which can be “created” at home or purchase for the purpose of home brewing.

Health Benefits of Kombucha

Kombucha carries high levels of B vitamins, which is believed to protect the pancreas and liver from the adverse effects of stress hormones. Kombucha is also proven to affect antioxidant levels and promote higher glucosamine levels that ease joint pain. Other supposed benefits include improved digestive health, appetite suppression and increased energy. Since it has moderate levels of glucaric acid, it is thought and believed by many to help prevent the spread and development of cancer cells. My favorite brand, GT’s Synergy Drinks, notes how it founded its product and why it began selling kombucha on every bottle – because it was believed to help his mother heal from cancer! In his autobiography, 1970 Nobel Prize-winning author Alex Solzhenitsyn also claimed that drinking kombucha helped cure his stomach cancer while imprisoned.

Adverse Effects of Kombucha

Kombucha can cause allergic reactions, or other adverse effects in those taking hormone replacements or other medications. Some studies have shown that repeated daily intake of kombucha at as little as 4 oz. can lead to lactic acidosis and myositis, both of which affect muscle inflammation and the buildup of muscle acid. Additionally, the possibility of fermentation or improper brewing can lead to the intake of the toxic fungus, aspergillus. In 1995 the Center for Disease Control named daily kombucha intake as a possible cause of the death and illness of two Iowa women who both suffered from severe muscular acid buildup. Repeated intake of kombucha can also cause liver damage, in that its effects on the pancreas and liver are quite strong. Thus, most doctors and health professionals suggest drinking Kombucha in moderation, perhaps starting with only a couple ounces a day.

What do I think?

I have drank Kombucha, at least once a month, for the last 3 years since being introduced to it while at a NY Deli which prepared its own concoction on-site. I felt super energetic afterward, that’s all I remember, but it was a warm Spring day and I’m not sure what played into my energy that day. I currently continue to drink a bottle of Kombucha, about once-twice a week, because I like the tea-like fizzy taste and also because of the purported health benefits. Plus, at 35 calories a cup, it’s a sweet treat without too much baggage. Try it for yourself and see what you think!

Dairy-free Jalapeño Popper Sandwich

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This is a delicious & quick recipe for those who love spice & cheese but cant necessarily digest the dairy-version. I tried it on the weekend and was quite impressed with it but I definitely wanna modify this recipe to make it more nutritious!

Ingredients

1 jalapeño, sliced lengthwise and seeded

2 slices bread (Preferably sprouted bread which has way more protein than non-sprouted bread)

1-2 Tsp. vegan margarine (Earth’s Balance)

1 Tbsp. vegan cream cheese spread (Daiya or Go Veggie!)

1 tsp. 1 tsp. panko bread crumbs

 

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the jalapeño on a baking sheet or in a baking dish and roast for 15 minutes.

Spread the vegan margarine on one side of each slice of bread, then spread the vegan cream cheese on the opposite side.

Top with the vegan cheese shreds and place on a heated frying pan.

Allow the vegan cheese to slightly melt, then push the jalapeños into the melted vegan cheese. Sprinkle bread crumbs on one side of bread, then top with the other slice, vegan cheese side down.

Rotate until both sides are golden and crispy.

 

ZK’s Serving Suggestion: Serve with Fresh Iced-Tea, Avocado pieces & Pico de Gallo

Roasted Cauliflower

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Roasted cauliflower is great on its own as a side, or as a substitute for potatoes or even pasta in common recipes such as Shepherd’s Pie or casseroles. It’s also super easy to prepare when you are in a rush, which is how I ended up with a tupperware full of cauliflower today. 😉

My take on this recipe is super simple:

Cut a head of cauliflower into florets.

Spread cauliflower florets on a sheet of baking paper.

Drizzle 1tbsp of EVOO over the florets, as well as fresh spices & herbs. (I like to use black pepper, full spectrum salts and thyme)

Bake at 400 F for about 20-30 minutes or until you can easily pierce with a fork.

Sprinkle Nutritional Yeast for a cheesy yet vegan flavor or parmesan if you consume dairy.

Bon appetit!

Single Serving Protein Packed Vegan Peanut Butter Cups

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I recently came across a vegan (no bake) recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter cups and challenged myself to healthify the recipe even more, by adding protein & fibre! As I have discussed in other posts, protein is not only vital for many bodily functions such as muscle development & repair, but protein molecules also require the most energy to metabolize (vs. fats & carbs).

Ingredients

1.5-2 tbsp. graham cracker crumbs
1  tsp. liquid sweetener (brown rice syrups, pure maple syrup, honey…etc…)

1 tbsp. coconut oil (or Earth Balance)

1/2 tsp. cocoa powder

30 g. silken organic tofu
1 tbsp. natural peanut butter
1 tbsp. almond milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Full Spectrum aalt to taste

Unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tbsp. dark chocolate chips
1 tsp. coconut oil (or Earth Balance)

1/2 c. Brown sugar, processed into powder

Directions

Process crust ingredients (graham cracker crumbs, sweetener, coconut oil) until crumbs are damp.

Add 2 tbsp. of the crust into a jar or bowl.

Spread out evenly and flatten with fingers.
Add the filling ingredients (Tofuà salt) and process until silky smooth.

Add 3 tbsp. filling into each jar and spread gently with a spoon.

Place jar into freezer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes to firm up a bit.

Remove jars from freezer and melt the chocolate on the stove-top or microwave.

Spoon 1 tsp. melted chocolate on top of the filling.

Chill in the fridge/ freezer so that the chocolate can harden or not!

Enjoy!!!

 

Approximate Nutrition

240 calories, 18 grams sugar, 12 grams fat, 28 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams protein

*** The silky smooth texture of these vegan peanut butter cups can be attributed to tofu, which, when blended with peanut butter, adds creamy thick goodness with minimal calories.