Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Heart Disease

As a way to study for my nutrition finals, I have decided to share with you all some of the basic facts that I have been learning about different diseases.  The first one I will write abut is heart disease, also known as Cardiovascular Disease (CVD).

CVD is on the top of the list in terms of common diseases in the US.  The good news is that it is preventable and treatable if well monitored and taken care of.  The first step in prevention is to eat a healthy diet.  This means making 60-100% of your diet come from whole food sources (i.e. not from a box, can, freezer section, pre-made meal, etc.).

Next is fat intake.  If you begin right now and swap any pre-made food for fresh, whole food one time every day, your heart will already thank you and begin to improve its health and strength because those pre-made foods tend to have a lot of hidden fat that is completely unnecessary.  If you are craving a fatty food, opt for avocados, or raw unsalted nuts and seeds.  Nature has provided us with an abundance of food choices!

If you have not done so already, get you lipid profile checked.  These tests help to measure fat content in your blood and can be good indicators of high blood pressure and future heart disease.  For a healthy body, this is what you should strive for:

  • Total cholesterol- less than 200mg/dL
  • LDL- less than 130 mg/dL
  • HDL - greater than 40 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides - less than 150 mg/dL
As part of a healthy lifestyle, physical activity should also be included.  If you already exercise, great!  Keep it up!  If you are not physically active, that's okay too!   You can start right now by simply standing up and either going for a walk or just practice sitting down and standing back up again.  Being physically active does not mean you need a gym membership.  There are so many free sources on YouTube, workout videos at the local library, and even cleaning your home is physical activity!!  How great is that? Cleaning your home is like a 2 for the price of 1 deal:  you get exercise and a tidy place to live!!

Keep your heart healthy and strong today by swapping a processed food for a whole one and by getting that beautiful body moving!

Leave a comment below of your favorite snack or exercise!

Luana ola!

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Perfect Gift!!!!

Ok guys, let's be honest here...

If you've been following my blog for a while, it is a good chance you know about MY BOOK.  If you are new to the blog, you aren't missing much because sadly, I don't really do much advertising of this book; although I know I should because it is just that awesome!

Haha...but seriously I am super proud of it!  It is my first ever published work and I did it all myself though an online self-publishing website.  It took me about a year to finish; mostly because I procrastinated and wanted everything perfect, including testing all the recipes and taking pictures of each one!

So now, for the holidays there is a huge discount!  Usually just $10, it is now on sale at Amazon for just $6.82.  It is a soft-cover small book with delicious Medieval recipes that have been modified to be made in today's kitchen quickly and easily.  I also included a fun short story with each recipe for your kids to read (for kids at heart too!).  A bonus here is that the recipes are easy enough for your kids to help out with as well as for those of us who are not as handy in the kitchen as we'd like to be.

Perfect as a stocking-stuffer or as a gift for that person you have no clue what to get (we all have someone like that).

I'm trying to spread the world about healthy, fun cooking to share in the joys of the kitchen for the holidays.  Restaurants are fun, but there is something about sharing the process of making a meal, especially around the holidays, that just proclaims love and happiness.

In peace and love,
Luana ola!

On being Thankful.

I don't know about you, but this time of year always warms my heart.  There is something about the changing weather, warm beverages, and knowing that you will be spending time with those you love that brings out a certain glow in people.  Have you ever noticed it?

People seem to smile more, they laugh easier, and seem to be all together more cheery.

Although I have not written a post in almost a month now, (my apologies...) due to being on the verge of being completely overwhelmed, something inside me has kept me sane and level headed.  Now, let it be known that my wonderful boyfriend helped a lot by reminding me to make lists and take it one step at a time, but I also believe that the warmth of this season (i.e. being thankful) has helped it along as well.

So, here's what being thankful is to me:

  • that warm-fuzzy feeling
  • hugging a loved-one
  • hand-writing a letter or giving them a call
  • sharing a home-prepared meal 
  • giving for the sake of giving, without expecting something in return

Let me know what being thankful is to you in the comments below, so we can all share in the warmth of this holiday season together!

Luana ola!

p.s. starting December 1st, I will be posing more nutrition information (for your benefit as well as a study mechanism for myself!...a friend gave me that know who you are :)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Halloween!! Cooking for 75 people!

I hope you all had a magical and safe Halloween last night!

I spent my evening in a class called RecipeBox.  Every Thursday night, my classmates and I put together a dinner event for the community.  The 3-course meal is $10 and the meal is planned, cooked, and served to the guests by my classmates and myself.

Last night was my partner (Marina) and my night and to celebrate, her boyfriend as well as my boyfriend and family came (in addition to about 40 more people!)
To keep with the theme of Halloween, we made a pumpkin soup with boba (black tapioca aka spider eggs), falafel zombie eyes with black rice tabbouleh and carrot fingers, and a sinister pear upside-down cake with chocolate drizzle.  It was all vegan too!  Thanks Marina for going vegan for this meal with me!

It was a lot of work, stress, and a big undertaking but we pulled it off and got some great feedback.

 Below is our registration table!  Do you think they planned to both wear hats??
 Some of our front of the house!
 Here's our entire crew, you guys did great!!
 And we definitely couldn't have pulled it off without the help of our teachers, who guided the way.  Thanks Chef Rhonda and Prof Ann!
If you couldn't tell, we had a great night of good food and hectic fun.  I hope your Halloween was spooktacular as well!

Luana ola!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Is this diet for you?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had to "live the diet" for one week.  I was assigned the DASH Diet for hypertension (high blood pressure).  On this diet, sodium and fat intake are reduced to minimum to relieve pressure in the arteries.  It sounds really simple, but for most people who live the Standard American Diet (SAD), this can be quite challenging because of all the processed and fast foods that are abundant in fat and sodium.  As for me, the hardest part was getting in 5 meals a day.  I'm the kind of person who likes 3 meals and maybe a snack in there.  I like to eat this way because it gives me boundaries, otherwise I would be eating all day, and I feel really good when I eat this way.  The DASH diet wants 5 meals that are all roughly the same amount of calories.  The theory behind this is to make sure that the body is getting enough fuel consistently throughout the day and will help you to lose weight (typically, those with hypertension are overweight, but not all).  Though I do believe this theory works, I also believe that constantly bombarding your digestive system with food and nutrients to breakdown is taxing on the body.  It takes a lot of energy to break down all that stuff, so giving your system a break every few hours can beneficial for longevity and long term health.

So, what do you think?  Could you survive a week trying the DASH Diet?  If so, leave a comment below and I can send you a meal plan or some other meal ideas.

Luana ola!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Smoothie Update and Weekend News

Well, this weekend was a bit of a I apologize ahead of time...

I did make my living pumpkin smoothie on Saturday, but let me back up a bit and explain why there are no pictures.  Saturday was nice.  It was chilly, a little overcast, and there were some great conversations over breakfast before heading to Xsport for my Vinyasa class at 11:30 (if you are in the area, you should come!)  After class, we went back to the condo to unpack more boxes and keep moving in (YES!  we moved!  pictures coming soon!).  I made the pumpkin smoothie, turned off the power, and as I unplugged the chord from the outlet, I got burnt!  Luckily, no electricity came through me, but I have an oh so lovely burn/blister on my right index finger!  Needless to say, there were no pictures taken due to the circumstances; although I do wish I would have gotten some of my finger, the first three were black from soot, but only the index one got the burn.  Thank goodness it was fairly minor and my mom, dad, and Mamaw (grandma) were there for support and love.  My finger is doing much better now and I have full function, maybe even a scar.

After my family knew I was okay and stable, they had to drive back home to do some volleyball work.  So, Andrew and I went to his mom's house to say hi.  Not even 30 minutes after we left her house (on our way to grab a bite to eat from Mariano's), she called Andrew and told him to come back as the yard was on fire!  Talk about a crazy day!  By the time we called 911 and got back to her house, the fire was out, but the electrical wire was still live and snapped in half in their yard (that's what caused the quick fire).  So, we hung around to make sure everyone was okay and that all things were taken care of before heading back home to get our internet set up.

I am so happy to say that Sunday was so much better!  No accidents, or injuries of any kind...just a beautifully perfect fall day.  After my 8:30 am Power yoga class, we did more shopping and moving in.

Now I am up to my waist in research, papers, and studying for classes (luckily it's not up to my nose...YET!)  Check back later this week for an update on my fun projects and get ready to learn about nutrition!

Luana ola!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Living Pumpkin Smoothie

Hi beautiful friends!  It has been so long since I have posted a recipe here on the old blog.  Heck, it's been awhile since I posted...period!  So let me catch you up a bit...

I am in the full swing of classes and have been assigned the DASH diet for one of my classes.  For this project, I have to "live the diet" for 7 days, track my progress and write a paper on my experience.  This is basically to help the class understand the different diets that future clients/patients will have to go on, based on their health status and needs.  The DASH diet is a diet to stop hypertension (high blood pressure) by cutting salt to a bare minimum and reducing fat intake.  Luckily, I mostly follow this lifestyle already, but it has been a challenge so far.  Although I've only been doing it for 2 days, I am finding it difficult to eat the recommended foods as they are basically 100% cooked.  If you have been following my blog for awhile, you probably know that I am working towards a low fat raw vegan lifestyle and am absolutely loving it!  This diet, however has higher fat percentage (around 25-30%) and protein (around 15-20%); so naturally the carbohydrates must go down (about 60%).

One thing I do love about this week is that I get to really monitor myself and focus on my food more often than I normally do.  Since a mild eating disorder 2 years ago, I have stopped counting calories and being fixated on food, but now I have to do just that for a week to track my progress.  Although I have seen a few of my old eating behaviors creeping up, I have been able to manage them and meet my daily goals.  I must say, I can't wait to get back to my high fruit and veggie lifestyle though!

Speaking of high energy food...let's get to the real reason you are reading this post!!  I will be making this one this weekend for sure and will be posting a picture on twitter, so follow me @LuanaOla

Living Pumpkin Smoothie (for 1, but can easily be doubled or tripled!):

  • 2 c pumpkin puree (for fresh:  remove skin and chop fresh pumpkin into cubes and blend in a high speed blender or food processor)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 dates, soaked and reserve liquid if needed for smoothie consistency
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • a small sliver of fresh ginger (1/8-1/4" thick)
    • Begin by pureeing the fresh pumpkin, then add the banana, dates, and spices.  Blend well, adding leftover date water or almond milk to achieve the consistency you like.
    • Sip slowly and enjoy every moment!
Luana Ola!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Relaxing in Yoga

As we all know, this time of year is the beginning of the crazy, hectic, and busy holiday season.  When the rest of the natural world is starting to slow down and hibernate, we humans begin to pick up our pace to make sure all holidays, kids school work, after school activities, and our adult lives are taken care of.

Yoga can help you handle all of this, slow down, and stay more calm in high pressure situations by reminding you how much better you feel when you do take the time to relax.  The next time you are in a yoga class, focus on your breath in each posture.  It doesn’t matter what your posture looks like compared to others.  All that matters is you. If you can breathe comfortably in the posture, then you are doing it right!

If you generally don’t take yoga classes or don’t have any offered near you, try this next exercise.  It only takes 5 minutes and you will feel so great afterwards: (this practice can be accomplished whether you are stressed, just need 5 minutes to yourself, or for any reason)
  1. Find a place to sit comfortably or lie down.
  2. Close your eyes and allow yourself to sink into the chair or floor you are on
  3. Begin to focus on your breath, feeling the rise and fall of your chest, feeling the warm air from your nose float over your upper lip.
  4. Allow all thoughts to float away, knowing that they will be there again when you need them
  5. Breathe for as long as you’d like.
When you finish the practice, slowly sit or stand up and slowly begin to move back into your routine for the day.

As I said before, you don’t need to be in a stressful place to feel the benefits of this practice.  Although it definitely helps stress, this practice will help you be more productive in your work and even throughout your life as a person of many roles.  So just breathe and focus on the simple things in life that we all generally take for granted every day.

Namaste, Luana ola!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Stuffy Nose?

'Tis the season for stuffy noses and allergies.  With all the leaves drying and kids going back to school, it is practically inevitable to get at least a little sniffle (even if you eat the most healthy diet in the world!).  It's more about being around loads of people, stress, and those darn leaves falling than anything else.  In today's post, I'll help you find the perfect ways to prevent and conquer those pesky sniffles.

     As with everything else in life, prevention starts with your diet.  This season, focus on whole foods.  No, no silly, not the store (although that could work if you're willing to pay your entire salary...).  By whole foods, I mean things that come directly from nature, without much processing.  These things include beans/legumes, rice, farro (delicious Italian grain!), quinoa, gluten free oats, and all the fresh fruits and vegetables you care for.  Here's a great tip for every meal or snack during the day:  make the main part of your meal veggie/fruit-centered and then top it off with a warm bowl of broth, rice, or lentil soup.  MMM...I'm feeling warmer just thinking about it!


  1.      If you have a juicer or a blender, make some green juices and smoothies!  This is a really simple way to load up on vitamins and minerals from leafy greens that are sometimes hard to swallow. (Comment below or message me if you'd like some recipes!!)
  2. Let's say you already have a stuffy nose and you want to get rid of it (who doesn't)...before you head to the drug store and fill your hard-working cells with chemicals, try this out. 
    1.  Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
    2. While the water is getting up to temperature, combine 2 T dried chamomile flowers, 1 t whole cloves, and 1 t whole pepper corns into a round bowl or cake pan. (Any herbs or spices can be used, but I chose chamomile for its soothing properties, and cloves and pepper for their punch.)
    3. Pour the hot water over the spices and allow your face to rest over it (without actually touching the water).  You can even put a towel over your head to trap the steam in towards your face.
    4. Be sure to have tissues ready, because this really works!
  3. One of the most important suggestions I could give you, though is to stay away from anything with sugar (except fruit of course).  Processed sugar is truly a drug, and while it is okay to have once in a while, it is definitely a no no while you are sick.  Think of it this way, your body is working so hard to fight off whatever virus or bacteria you have contracted.  You want to do everything you can to help it out (i.e. eating plenty of fresh, preferably raw fruits and vegetables...maybe some veggie soup...).  By eating sugar, you would be making your body even more susceptible to the bacteria by literally giving it food!  yikes!
I wish you all blessings throughout this beautiful season and many wishes to stay healthy!

As always, feel free to comment below and follow my posts to keep learning and exploring with me!

Luana ola!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Step 3 for Grocery Shopping

It took me an extra week, but here it is...the final step that I use to keep grocery bills low.  Since we have an over abundance of apples, tomatoes, and leftovers right now, there will be no grocery bill this week except for any odds and ends that may come up.

So on to step 3:
Once you have gotten all of your fresh in season, off the sale rack produce, hit up the isles for bulk items like rice, beans, nuts, and seeds (if you so desire, because hey you can totally thrive on loads and loads of fresh produce!!).  The great thing about these items is that they may seem to cost a lot when you buy them, but guess what...they last a long time!!!!!

So there you have it, my 3 tips on buying fresh and keeping the grocery bill low:

  1. Check out the weekly ads and online sales
  2. Discount bins and in season produce
  3. Bulk items

Ok, so one more thing before I sign off here.  I will definitely be getting my you tube videos up and running by October first.  I am striving to do one per week, so please fill me in on topics you'd like for me to discuss, otherwise I will be explaining my new adventure in food and basically fun things that are going on in my life now.  Please subscribe to my blog to get the latest updates as well and come back soon to see what the name of my channel will be!!!! (hint:  it's not Luana ola...)

Luana ola!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Step 2 and Tomato Sauce!

Monday night, I made a delicious Italian meal of Quinoa "meat" balls with tomato sauce and a salad...It was so good!  But step 2 for shopping healthy on a budget comes first!

Step 2:
Recycle the newspaper add and browse the produce section for discount bins.  Sometimes, stores will have a few racks of "old" produce.  This is usually the stuff that doesn't look the greatest, but is still perfectly fine to eat (like spotty bananas, pineapples with no top, etc.)  Sometimes, when I'm lucky, I can find bags of 20+ spotty bananas for $1.50 per bag!  I don't know about you, but I personally like spotty bananas as they are more sweet and easier to digest.  If I can't eat then all, I will freeze some and make banana ice cream with them later!

After you've hit the discount bins, see what is on sale in the produce isle.  Most grocery stores don't advertise all that they have on sale here, so take a look around and buy the things that are the least expensive and look the best (this just so happens to be the most in season produce usually...bonus!!).  Stock up on those items and keep following my post to next week to see the final step, step 3!

My grocery bill this week was $30.54 (sorry, no pictures...)

  • raw peanut butter
  • organic strawberry jam
  • whole wheat pita bread
  • 15 lb watermelon
  • 15 pluots (cross between a plum and apricot)
  • 1 head bok choy
  • 1 head cabbage
  • 3 bunches bananas
  • 1 qt plain rice milk
  • 2 bags of grapes
  • 9 apples
    • I think that's all, but I might be missing 1 or 2 things...threw away my receipt before posting!! But all in all, not too bad!

Recipe(s) of the day:  "Meat" balls, Raw Marinara, Salad

The "meat" balls were made by cooking:

  • 1 c dry quinoa until soft and then allowed to cool.  
  • To the quinoa, add 1 T flour, 2 T flax meal mixed with 2 T water and allowed to rest 2 min, a splash of almond milk, and seasonings of your choice (I chose oregano, parsley, and basil).  
  • Then, form the mixture into balls and bake until warm and lightly golden.

While the "meat" balls were baking, I whipped up a batch of raw vegan marinara sauce to use as a dipping agent!  It was my first time making it, and definitely won't be the last!!

  • Soak 1 1/4 c sun dried tomatoes in warm water for at least 30 min, longer if you don't have a high speed mixer (like a Ninja or Vitamix)
  • Dump the tomatoes and soaking liquid into your blender/food processor and add the following ingredients:  1 clove garlic, 2 t dried parsley, 1 t dried oregano, 1 t dried basil
  • Blend until smooth, add in more water for a thinner consistency if desired.
As for the salad, I just chopped 2 heads of romaine and sliced some onion and bell pepper on top.

To serve, make the salad on your plate and then pile on the "meat" balls and top with the marinara! So good! The sauce gets all over the salad and makes it taste even more wonderful and the "meat"balls add extra texture and flavor.  Enjoy!

I will be going on a yoga retreat this weekend, so be on the lookout for a post on Tuesday about it!  As always, I love to hear your comments so feel free to comment away.  No YouTube videos yet, but am looking to start them by October first!

With love and sweet fruit!  Luana ola!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fruit Ninja!! and Step 1

I just had to use that as my title!  But sadly, there is no talk of the game in this post, nor is there any actually ninjas...

But!  There is a great recipe at the end of this post including the Ninja blender!

So here we go, first things first.  Shopping for healthy food on a budget.  I'm thinking about doing a weekly post about what goes into my shopping cart and into our bellies each week.  This will include the cost and health of the cart as well!  What do you think? I'll use this post as a trial run...

Just so you know a bit about my shopping experience, I'll fill you in a bit.  I usually go online the day before or day of my planned grocery shopping day (usually Monday or Tuesday) and look at the sales going on.  From here, I choose which store to go to based on what I've experienced in their quality and what the store's ad says is on sale.  Then, I go to the store with the most sales and best produce.  I do this because I feel that it is a waste of time, resources, and gas to drive all around town just to get a "good deal" when I've probably wasted as much money in time and gas just to get that deal!  But I digress, this is just my opinion.

Step 2 will be next week!

This week's grocery bill was................................$38.78

  • Note:  this is for 2 people and 1 week, using staples already in the house (like rice, beans, nuts, etc.)
In this bunch, we have the following from left to right and top to bottom:
Raw agave nectar
Sun dried tomatoes
3 pints raspberries
Fuji apples
Young coconut
Romaine lettuce
and Bananas!
Oh, there was watermelon too, not pictured.

Recipe of the Day:  Smoothie!
       Simply combine the following ingredients in your high speed blender (we used our brand new Ninja) and serve!
  • 3 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 pineapple, chopped
  • 1 c blueberries
  • 3 c collard greens, washed and stems removed
  • 1 cup water

Luana ola!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Love Life

Love life, eat produce in abundance, and move like you love to!

Spend time with friends...

 ...with the ones you love...

 ...and do your own thing to the beat of your own drum!

But most of all...LUANA OLA!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Back to School

Well friends, it's almost time to go back to school (if you are in school that is).  Even for those of you who are all finished with school and have no children in school, this time of year still probably brings about a sense of anxiety as the seasons change and we move towards the holidays.

To begin this change in season, I went (am going) through a bunch of craziness that I won't bore you with on this blog as it's personal and not uplifting.  But, I have had so many wonderful people in my life who have encouraged me with love and strength to push through and reminded me that it is through though times and challenges in which we become stronger.  It is so so very true!

During this phase of my life, so many new challenges and aspects of life find me practically every day.  It is so interesting to go through because we truly don't know what it's like before it happens to us.  Like every other 18 year old, I thought I was on top of the "real" world when I went to college!  Boy was I wrong!  Although I am back in college, finishing up a RD licensing program, I am finding out more and more about how different the "real" world and college truly are.  In all honesty, college is like day care for young adults.  You have the illusion of being on your own, but you are typically not paying bills, loans, and all other life expenses that hit you hard after college.

I just wanted to write this post today to give a shout out to all of you who sent me love, hugs, and strength and to share with those of you who are going through a rough time; whether it be financial, relationship, moving, etc.  There are people who love you and will never let you fall hard!  Keep on moving and don't let hardships get in your way.  Push through them with all of your strength, and then rest when you get to the other side because it will be so beautiful!

Luana ola!

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Day in the Life

Instead of just jumping right into the faire and festivities of today, I am going to take you through a day in my life (well, Sundays...let it be known that this is not a typical day by any means):

6am- I couldn't go to sleep last night, but I woke up this morning, wide awake and energized, an hour before my alarm.  My prediction is that I was so excited for the Renaissance Faire (aka RF for ease in typing) I just could not sleep anymore.  I am definitely a little kid at heart when it comes to vacationing or making fun plans.

7am- I had a banana before going to teach yoga at the Schaumburg Xsport.  This class is so fun.  I usually have 8-10 people in class, but for some reason there were only 3 that showed up!  It was great though because I really got to talk on a more personal level with my students and put more effort into each of their practices to help them grow stronger and more confident.  I was so excited that I threw in 3 new postures!  But the great thing was that they loved it!  I was worried at first that I was getting too far ahead of myself and my students might not be ready, but as any teacher knows, your students only go as far as you take them and they often surprise you with what they can do.  It was so much fun watching them explore the postures and make them their own.

9:30am- the 1 hour class began and was finished before I knew it.  I wrapped it up with my students and went out to the car to head up to Bristol WI. (With 2 more bananas and an apple down the hatch).

11:00- we made it to the RF! As we waited for the rest of our group, Andrew, P, and I watched the fire whip show! This guy was pretty cool. He used many different types of whips to show off his skills by slicing a can, popping a balloon between a guy's legs, and lighting the whips on fire while performing!

Noon- when K and C got there, we all got a bite to eat.  We mainly snacked throughout the afternoon, so I'll just list out what Andrew and I shared: mushrooms, grilled pineapple, he had Spanish fries, and I had a pickle.  I didn't have any of the fries, but Andrew loved them and I thought the rest of the food was good as well.

After seeing some acrobats, a juggler, and lots of fun and interesting "garb", we all left the RF by 5pm.  No sooner did we get in the car and head to my grandpa's house, it started to pour rain!  We got lucky.

5:30pm- Dinner and dessert for my cousin's birthday!  Since there was no food we really wanted to eat (all beef...), we settled with PBJ and canned veggies.  Trust me friends, this was the best we could do without leaving the house and spending more money, so it's not bad, it could have been much much worse.  But wait till you hear about uncle bought the traditional strawberry-banana filled white cake with whipped cream frosting and my mom made peanut butter banana cupcakes.  Let me tell you, they were vegan and so delicious!!  They definitely satisfied my peanut butter craving.  Wait...why did I have a PB craving after having a PBJ sandwich?  Because I love PB!

7pm- Sadly, we had to eat and run, but after all we had an hour drive and early to rise in the morning.

After getting home and changing out of RF garb, we relaxed and read before going to sleep.  All in all, I could not have planned a better day (or weekend).  It was so refreshing and relaxing to get out of routine and live by the hour for once.

Thank you for taking the time to follow me and my adventures with this blog.  My next post will be about yoga classes and a retreat coming up soon!  Be sure to comment below :)

Luana ola!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Enjoying a Yoga Practice

Hello my lovely readers!  It's so nice of you to drop by this humble blog as much as you do, and I am so grateful for you.

Before we jump right in to the enjoyment part of a yoga practice (wait...that is the whole practice!!), I want to quickly break down the two words of "yoga" and "practice" in my own way.

Yoga:  "to yoke"  It is the uniting of the body and mind.  How beautiful does that sound?  In my opinion the vision of union is amazing and so gorgeous, no matter what type.  Yoga is a process.  By this I mean that you will probably not feel this great union of body and mind during your first yoga class.  It takes years of dedication and practice to really feel a difference, but then again, unless you reflect on your life you may not notice the sensation (but your friends and family might...)!  If you have never practiced yoga before, or have tried it once, I encourage you to give it a shot.  You may find that one teacher does not connect with you and that's ok, try another.  You may also feel that one practice is too slow, fast, hard, easy, or any other adjective you can come up with to describe this one practice.  But, remember that.  Remember that it is one practice, not your entire yoga life.  Try and try again until you find your groove in yoga.  For some that may be finding good yoga DVDs at the local library to practice at home, other's it's a gym, maybe becoming a teacher...who knows.  There are so many beautiful aspects to yoga and it is up to you to find which suits you the best.

Practice:  In my own opinion, a practice is something we do as often as we can and improve on it each time we do it.  To put it more simply...doing.  You can't practice anything by ignoring that part of your life.  Do professional athletes practice?  Do professional business people pracice?  Do people of all sorts practice something every day?  The answer to all of those questions is an astounding YES.  In order to succeed/get better at/excel in any part of life you must practice.  After establishing the type of yoga you like or a teacher you like, stick with it.  There are no boundaries in a yoga practice.  No matter how may times you practice downward dog or even savasana, you learn and get better.  A funny saying is "practice makes perfect".  Well, although there is no "perfect" in yoga, there are plenty of goals and aspirations you can look forward to exploring.

I know, I told you it would be quick, but this topic is very near and dear to me and I tend to ramble a bit when I talk/write about topics I love.  So on to the enjoyment part!

Anything that you put your heart and soul into, you can not help but feel joy about that thing.  If yoga is not for you, that is perfectly ok.  No one will judge you.  But, for those of you who do enjoy yoga or are willing to give it a try, let me tell you this...there is nothing more joyful than finding a piece of yourself that you may have lost in a posture, or breaking through and doing a posture for the first time.  It is so thrilling!  With regular practice, you might find that you feel lost when you skip yoga for a day.  It becomes like a drug, a healthy drug of course!  You might start finding yourself standing in tree pose while your brush your teeth, or going in to down dog randomly throughout the day...not that I do any of these things...ok I do both of them and many more "crazy" things relating to yoga.  Ooh, like Ujjayi breathing when I start to get stressed!

Anyways, the ultimate goal of this post is to bring the joy of yoga to your attention.  It can bring so much happiness into your life.  I hope you give it a try.

As always, I would love to hear what you think/your opinions on all of these posts.  I am doing this for you so we can live more healthy and happy lives together.  I would love to answer any questions you might have.

Luana ola!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ok friends, it's almost the Fourth of July!!  Can you believe it?...Me either.  Time flies when you're having fun I guess.

Between teaching yoga, taking a night class, and doing my own research, I have been working hard on my next upcoming book!  I'm actually working on 2!  But, 1 more than the other ;)  I'm not going to give it away, so I'll just leave you hanging there and fill the void with a tasty recipe for the holidays!!

Since going 90% low fat raw vegan, I have begun to explore so many beautiful ways raw food can be put together in pretty ways.  Although eating food in its raw, living form is beautiful enough, sometimes it is fun to release the left side of my brain and get creative!

  • 5 bananas
  • 2 pints blueberries
  • 2 pints strawberries (or any other red fruit like raspberries!)
Skewer the fruit starting with the strawberries, then banana, and finally blueberries until you reach the end of the stick.   Continue until all the fruit is used up, then enjoy!

Please feel free to leave a comment, letting me know what your favorite July 4th recipe is.

Luana ola!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

108 Sun Salutations

Last spring... I completed 108 sun salutations in honor of the change of seasons from winter to spring.  This is a tradition in yoga for many different reasons (listed below) and are done at the beginning of each season, so the next one will be in September for the vernal equinox (first day of fall).

On June 21st, 2013 I completed my second round (first being spring) of 108 sun salutations at Essencia!  It was so empowering, made me feel strong, and every muscle in my body was sore the next day!  Did you ever think you can get sore from yoga??  Well, you definitely can!

The reason for doing 108 sun salutations, according to Yoga Inside Out, is the following:

- 108 is the number of “Upanishads” comprising Indian philosophy’s “Vedic texts”.
- 108 is the number of names for Shiva (a really important Hindu god).
- 108 is the number of names for Buddha.
- 108 is the Chinese number representing “man”.
- 108 is the number of beads on a Catholic rosary.
- 108 is the number of beads on a Tibetan “mala” (prayer beads, analogous to a rosary).
- 108 is twice the number 54, which is the number of letters in the Sanskrit alphabet, one set of masculine (shiva) and one set of feminine (shakti).
- 108 is twelve times the number 9, which is the number of vinyasas (movements linked to breath) in a Sun Salutation
- 108 is the number of Sutras in the Yoga Sutras
- 108 connects the sun, moon and earth as the average distance  of the sun and moon to earth is 108 times their respective diameters

What is a sun salutation?  Well, it sounds complicated, but when you actually go through the motions, it is not so bad.  Below, I have listed the 7 different postures (but 10 steps)to complete 1/2 a salutation.  A full sun salutation is once through, starting with the right leg, and once through, starting with the left.

  1. mountain pose
  2. forward fold
  3. high lunge
  4. plank
  5. chaturanga
  6. upward dog
  7. downward dog
  8. high lunge
  9. forward fold
  10. mountain pose
Try it out!  But, start with 3-5 sun salutations.  This is what we normally use to warm up our bodies in yoga, so 3-5 is usually good.  When you become more advanced, 10-12 is really good.  Save 108 salutations for each season as it can be quite taxing on the body if done too often.

Enjoy and please leave a comment below, letting me know how you felt after a yoga class!

Also, I'm doing a giveaway soon and working on my youtube channel, so let me know what you'd like to see!

Luana ola!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Continuing On...

I am posting today in honor of all of us.  We all go though tough patches many times during our life and sometimes it just feels as though the world is out to get us.

Without getting too personal, I wanted to share with you my own experience recently.  After taking 4 years of college and 1 year of my dietetic licensing program, I'm on a roll with anatomy and all things health.  Loving practically every minute of it!  During this summer, I planned on taking 2 courses to get myself just a bit more ahead so I could slow down the cramming during the coming semester.  Anatomy/Physiology 2 and Finite Math were the two courses I signed up for at my community college (cheaper than Dominican, less drive, you get the gist).

During this past week, I attended the A/P class and lab every day and each day the professor reminded all transfer students that they needed to submit their transcripts to her so that she could make sure the prerequisite for this class was met.  Why we were allowed to register without proof is beyond me.  I spend the first 3 days of the week trying to get ahold of my unofficial Carthage transcript.  Once I finally got it in my hands today (the last day of class for this week), my professor told me that I did not have "Human Anatomy" and could therefore not take the class due to the fact that I did not meet the prerequisite.  So a BA in Exercise Physiology means that I can not take a basic A/P course?

So after a bit of yoga, meditation, and calming myself by talking to friends, I came to the conclusion that this is life.  Sometimes, life throws us curveballs.  Sometimes those curveballs are coming at us at 200mph.  When this happens, it is crucial for us to do possibly the hardest thing in the world...take a step back, assess the situation with a rational mind, and make the best of the situation.

Now I'm sure you're reading this and thinking, "yeah right!".  I know, I've been there on several occasions, but I'm here to tell you that it works!  Now I did have my fair share (about 2 hours worth) of freaking out, being angry and wondering "why me?  why now when I am this close to being done".  But once I gathered myself and realized that it was causing more pain and agony to insist that the universe was turning against me, I sat down and let my thoughts go.  Doing this allowed me to see from an outside perspective and made me realize that it is ok for plans to not go a certain way.  Who knows, maybe by taking this class during the school year I will learn more that I ever could know.

Whatever crisis you might have in your life at this moment.  Breathe.  Just breathe into it and look at it from the outside.  I promise this too will pass and you will feel so much better in the end.

Please enjoy this life as much as you possible can!

Luana ola!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Week 2

Today was my first official day of summer classes.   Needless to say, I am very excited and my first class went very well.  I think it will be really nice to refresh my memory on anatomy physiology this summer!

That being said, I will be reducing my posts down to once or twice a week (probably Monday nights and maybe Fridays as those are my two least hectic days).

So let's do a quick recap of my first week during this was tough, but not too tough.  Yes, I had cravings for cooked food and I gave in on a couple occasions, but overall I have been feeling VERY good eating 80-90% raw.  My energy levels are up and most importantly, my mood is so great!  I can also attribute my perkiness to yoga.  I have been practicing daily and teaching a few times a week (see for dates/times/locations).  My practice has begun to deepen and I am feeling more connected and balanced every day.  It is so beautiful and amazing when life blooms and comes together all at once despite what is going on in our physical world.

As far as today's meals goes, they really weren't that impressive...except...dinner!  On a huge whim, I ended up making the most delicious, healthful, beautiful, and colorful salad!  It included yellow squash, carrot, green bell pepper, and red cabbage.  All of it was shredded and peeled thin, then drizzled with mustard and agave for dressing!  I must say, I'm a bit obsessed with this new concoction I found!

Luana ola!

p.s. I started writing this post on my iPad on Monday and due to my busy schedule this week, forgot about it until now!  I will do better in the future, I promise :)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Days 9 and 10

I apologize for not posting yesterday.  We had a lot going on around here, and I didn't get a chance until right now!  I ate raw until 6pm and then went to Tiki Terrace with Andrew.  They were so accommodating for me and made me a huge raw salad with shredded romaine, cabbage, tomato, carrot, lemon, and pineapple!  Delicious!  The only thing non-raw that I ate were taro chips with pineapple salsa.  However, they were vegan and baked so not too bad.

Today was so great though!  I had an array of fruits with raw chocolate for breakfast, 6 bananas for lunch, and a big salad from Marianos for dinner.

This afternoon, we went to the pond by our library to do some reading and found a family of 5 baby ducks and their momma!  Just wait, it gets more cute...the momma hopped up out of the water and onto the ledge and waited patiently for her ducklings to join.  One by one, they tried and tried again to hop up, but their little bodies were not quite strong enough.  Sure enough, after some serious perseverance each one of them made it up by her.  They all huddled together and took a little nap.

When we got back home, after some snacking on watermelon, we played a little game of ultimate Frisbee with Zak (Andrew's brother), and Andrew's Mom's boyfriend's kids (sorry if you got lost on that one!) Super fun, and I worked up a good sweat!  There is nothing like having fun while getting exercise!

Here's to another great day tomorrow and my summer classes start on Monday!

Luana ola!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Day 8

Hey everyone!  It's day 8 of the challenege!  I can't believe how time flies.

I have to be honest with you though, I had some serious cravings for cooked food this morning.  I did have some coffee, not for the caffeine, but the warmth and bold taste.  It's so strange how the weather plays with our emotions and food preferences.  It's about 60 degrees and raining...still!!  I am so ready for "real" summer weather to come, you know, 80s-90s sunny and warm!!  Oh well, maybe this weather is for all of our plants to grow big and healthy because if you were in this area this time last year, it was a nasty drout.

Anyways, on to breakfast...watermelon and coffee (with a bite or two of Andrew's pancake...he was going to throw it away and I couldn't resist!!)

Lunch was a blur...mish mosh of dried fruit/veggies...I was feeling pretty blue up until about 2pm.  I blame it on the weather because when I got to Essencia, the sun was out and I was happy!  It could also be because I was surrounded with love and happiness from Jeannine and her beautiful new studio!

I taught my first class in the studio at 4pm and then stayed for the 6pm class, taught by Jeannine.  It was really cool because there was a woman in the class who was 32 weeks pregnant, so I got so see some prenatal yoga/modifications for the belly!

It's 8:30pm and I just got back home to settle in for the evening.  After 4 small apples, some watermelon, and pecans, my belly is full and happy!

I hope you will come visit me at Essencia!

Luana ola!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Day 7

I don't know about where you live, but here in Chicago land, it's cold (50s and 60s!!) and rainy...needless to say, my energy levels were no where near optimal today.

Andrew and I shared a watermelon for breakfast, but neither one of us could finish our half!

I stayed completely full until noon (I ate breakfast at 6:30!), and was still not really hungry, but I knew I needed to eat something, so I basically snacked the rest of the afternoon and didn't have any real meals.

Here's a rundown of what I ate:

  • bananas
  • apples
  • pecans (I didn't eat enough fruit today, so I had a few too many fats...)
  • a cucumber with agave mustard dip
  • some cereal (yes, it was cooked.  I got a taste for cooked food because I did not stay full enough on raw foods.  I will get it tomorrow!)
  • and some raw chocolate

Sugar cravings kicked in this evening before going to lift due to the lack of fruit in my diet today.  Again, the good thing is that I am aware of what I am doing rite and wrong, so I am able to make corrections and modifications when necessary.  The key to lifestyle changes is taking small steps, making modifications to suit you, and remember why you are making this lifestyle change in the first place.

My reason for doing this challenge/lifestyle change:  I felt so full of life and happiness while on the raw vegan cleanse I did a few weeks ago and felt weighed down and heavy as soon as I ate cooked vegetarian foods again.  After doing research about a low fat raw vegan lifestyle, I feel that it can really be helpful in living my best, most healthy long life!

Remember to sign up to receive updates in your email!  I am posting every day through the summer as this low fat raw vegan lifestyle continues and my transformation shines.

Luana ola!

p.s. Would you like to see more pictures? I know I've gotten lazy with taking them...  This blog is for you, so please share your thoughts in the comments below.  Also, would you like to see videos on youtube?  I've been thinking about starting a channel...let me know!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Day 6

Woke up this morning, not really hungry, then I drank some water and the hunger came!  For breakfast, I had the other half of my melon from yesterday along with some bananas because I was feeling extra hungry!

After a bit of reading, yoga, and checking emails, I went outside to mow the yard.  Now I really don't like to mow the yard because it disrupts what nature wants... to flourish (not to mention the gas)!  Cutting the grass and then infecting it with fertilizer just so you can cut it again is madness!  Don't you agree?

Any who...I cut the grass because I was asked to do so and I found that it was very refreshing to work up a good sweat while doing yard work.  I loved the sun, my music, the breeze, and the smell of the yard for that whole hour it took me to finish (yes, it is a larger yard...)

After mowing, I grabbed a big glass of water and blended up a delicious Milkshake for lunch!  Now now, calm down, this was a raw vegan milkshake make with frozen bananas, a little water, and some cacao.  Honestly, it tasted like a frosty!  So good.

For a snack, I munched on 2 small apples, a bowl full of frozen banana slices, and a couple pecans.

Dinner was a big salad of spinach, tomatoes, parsley, cucumber, and a mustard/agave dressing (my new favorite!)  Speaking of, does anyone know how to make mustard?  I bought some seeds, but am weary of recipes, so I'm on the lookout for a good one!

After Dinner Snack was a cucumber with the same agave mustard, man that stuff is good!

Exercise: 1 hour power yoga and an after dinner walk with Andrew!

Always looking for adventurers to join me!

Luana ola!

Day 5

Breakfast: half of a melon

Lunch: 3 small apples and a banana

Dinner: a whole stalk of celery, 8 large mushrooms, 1 cup of raw sauerkraut, 1 T agave, 1 T raw mustard.  I mixed all of this together as a salad!  So good!!

Snacks: 3/4 of a cucumber, a couple dates, and LOTS of watermelon!!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Day 4

Breakfast:  4 bananas

Lunch: 3 small apples and a handful of carrots

Dinner:  1 head green leaf lettuce, 1/2 cucumber, 1 medium tomato, parsley, a few pecans

Snacks:  frozen bananas, dates, fresh sauerkraut, celery sticks

I was really hungry today.  I'm still getting acclimated to the amount of food I need to consume.  I'm so used to stopping when I'm full that I get full before I consume enough calories!  With that in mind, it is no wonder I had so many snacks before and after dinner.  I'm trying to keep the fat content low, and I started to feel as though I was eating too much fruit today.  I just have to keep reminding myself that fruit is the staple of this lifestyle and should be eaten in abundance and with love!

Please join me in this amazing and life-changing experience!

Luana ola!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Day 3

I slept so well last night and woke up around 6:30am.  I was really hungry, so while Andrew got ready, I had a bunch of fruit for breakfast (bananas, strawberries, and blueberries...lots of them!)

I had to teach a Vinyasa class at 11:30, so I grabbed a few dates to tide me over.   After we both worked out, we went to Whole Foods for lunch.  I got the salad bar; loaded up with kale, raw beets, peppers, onion, tomatoes, cumin, cayenne pepper, and vinegar!  Andrew had a veggie burger with fruit!

After a bunch of errands and getting Gus (our tortoise) a new tank (ehem...kiddie swimming pool we converted to a tank...), both of us were hungry and devoured some watermelon!

I've been just grazing all evening on some pecans, a little avocado, and dates...I think I craved high energy foods because I didn't eat enough's all good though I've learned and will eat more fruit starting in the morning.

I did have a few cravings for cooked food today (mainly just the popcorn I made for Andrew while I was hungry...)  But overall, feeling great!

Remember, please feel free to join me any time with this challenge for moral support!

Luana ola!

Day 2

Breakfast: big bowl of mixed berries, drizzled in raw chocolate (that I made last night)

Lunch: 2 apples, 3 c chopped kale, 8 dates

Dinner: 2 big salads from Sweet Tomatoes!  I could not believe the energy I got from this meal!  I was talking so much, Andrew told me that he wanted to go fill his water so he could get a break! Haha!  I felt so good, but I was hungry 2 hours later so I had some berries and a date before bed.

Snacks: banana bits while chopping and freezing over-rips bananas and a smoothie of 1 grapefruit and 1 banana with ice and water (I let it freeze for a bit to thicken up and become like a shake!)

Today was so beautiful!  I walked to the grocery store (about .8-1 mile each way) to load up on produce and got so much that I could barely carry the bags home!  I got a good sweat going, that's for sure!  My arms were tired, so I just wanted to get the groceries put away and forgot to take a picture, but here's what I bought and the cost:

  • 1lb dates $5.99
  • huge bag of about 20 apples $1.50
  • huge bag of about 22 bananas $1.50
  • huge bag of about 12 grapefruit $1.50
  • 1 bunch of beets (3 roots + stem) $1.99
  • 3 cucumbers $1
  • 1.8 lb red cabbage $1.79
  • 3 bunches cilantro $1
  • huge bag of baby spinach $2.37
  • 15 lb seeded watermelon $8.40
  • Supreme health from eating these foods...priceless!
Grand total $33.18 (I rounded a few prices for ease of typing in case you are the type to check my know who you are!)

Luana ola!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day 1

Last night, knowing it was my last day of processed/cooked foods for about 3 months, I had some snacks...pretzels and chocolate chips!  Needless to say, this morning I woke up groggy and exhausted...

But, after a huge glass of cool water, my body perked up a bit and I sat down for breakfast.  Since I have not bought loads of produce yet, breakfast consisted of an array of fruits.

Breakfast: 1/2 of a honeydew melon, an apricot, and a banana.

From other raw foodists, I have learned to track everything on Cron-o-Meter to make sure I'm getting all of my necessities including vitamins, minerals, macro-nutrients, and calories.  This breakfast was about 350 calories (I need to consume between 1600 and 2000)!  Not much, considering how much I felt like I ate...well, this just means I get to eat more for munch, dinner, and snacks!  This is pretty much why I love this lifestyle already...I love to eat!

Lunch: 3 c of tomato and cucumber mixture, a pear, and 2 handfuls of baby carrots
I ate this sporadically from 11 am - 2pm.  I am still getting used to this lifestyle (it's the first day) and I know that I have to eat A LOT, but I did not realize how much!  I have been eating to fullness each meal, but it goes away in an hour!  For this reason, I got really hungry at 3pm, so I had a handful of almonds to tide me over.

Dinner: home made raw chocolate, sauerkraut, mixed berries
The reason dinner was so sporadic was because of timing.  It was 7pm when I got back from softball and did not feel like making a salad.

Snacks: a whole bunch of raw almonds

Exercise:  1 hour of Vinyasa yoga and a short softball game.

I noticed that I really need to eat more fruit during the day.  My calories were so low that I pigged out on nuts and chocolate later at night because I was so hungry!  Tomorrow, I will be going to the store to pick up fresh produce for next week!

Luana ola!

p.s. remember to email me or leave a message if you'd like to join me in this quest for ultimate health!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ready for a challenge?

Because of my last cleanse and researching lots of information about eating raw, I have come to the conclusion that it is time for another challenge! I'm going to go 100% raw for the summer!

You read right...low fat raw vegan until September 1st (3 months).  Every day, I will track my progress here on Luana Ola.  I will tell you what I ate, any exercise I did, and any thoughts that come into my head about this lifestyle change.

I want it to be known that I am not doing this for weight loss, but for a healthy lifestyle change.  I have been eating very healthy for the past 4 years, but I am ready for another big push in the right direction.

During the cleanse, I felt so good and was doing a ton of exercise because I had the energy to.  Since stopping the cleanse, I sadly began drinking coffee and eating more processed foods again like breads, chips, and chocolate.  During this challenge, I am hoping to find that energy again and really excel in living!

If you are interested in joining me with this journey to ultimate health, please feel free to leave a comment or email me and I will be happy to give you recipes and more information on how to make this transition in a healthy and sustainable way!

Luana ola!

p.s. here are the links to some inspirational videos and websites that got me on board!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hey all!

Not much has been going on around here, except for over cast skies, rain, and cold wind...

On the lighter side, Memorial Day was really good.  Although the weather did not pan out the way we hoped  (plans to go to the water park got cancelled due to rain and it being 50 degrees!), but it was still nice to get away for a couple days.

Let's start at the beginning, shall we?  With Andrew's new job and my summer classes, we decided that a summer vacation was not in the picture.  That being said, we also knew that a get-away weekend was necessary for both of us to unwind and get out of our every day ruts; so what's better than a 3 day Memorial weekend?!  Nothing, at least that was our best option for the summer...

Step 2:  where to go?  Knowing that the farther we traveled meant more time wasted on relaxing/fun, so we chose to stay within an hour's drive.  After a bit of searching, Yorkville IL sounded like a perfect spot.  It's a very small town due west of us and it had a water park (that didn't happen) and a big forest preserve nearby!  If you are new to the blog and didn't get to hear about last year's vacation, check out this post to understand that parks and all nature areas are right up our alley!!

Step 3: Before we knew it, Memorial weekend was upon us.  After teaching my 11:30 class at Xsport, with a bunch of snacks in hand, we were off to Yorkville!

The town was really small, but very cute.  After checking in to our hotel, the first thing we did was play a round of mini golf! Andrew got a hole in one on the 6th hole!!

 We then grabbed a bite to eat and retired for the evening, but of course we brought some movies to watch! I loved the documentary about some of the endangered species!  We both learned a lot, and saw some animals we had never heard of before!  And trust me, that's a big deal for me because I've seen/heard of many animals.  Nature is so amazing and there are truly so many species out there that have probably never been seen before!

The next day was our BIG day.  We went hiking all morning and didn't settle in until after lunch.  While on the hike, we saw many really cool plants; too bad I didn't have a trail guide because I would have loved to learn about these beautiful plants! Take a look at that mushroom, they were everywhere!
 There were so many wonderful smells in this forest, too.  At one point, we smelled froot loops and I would have loved to figure out what plant made that smell! (or maybe it was an animal??!...)  I of course had to take a bunch of pictures in and with trees!
 No matter were we went into the hike, the forest was so lush and green!  I couldn't get over it!
 On our last hike, I began to smell onions.  It was so odd and random.   Then I thought, maybe there are chives around.  No sooner did I think that and found what looked like wild chives.  I got bold, pulled one out and came to find that it was a spring onion!  I wiped off the dirt, trimmed the roots away with my nails, and took a tiny was in deed a spring onion, so sweet and flavorful!  I ended up picking a few, kept them in a cup of water at the hotel, and planted them in my garden when we got back home!  What a souvenir!!
 These were some tiny mushrooms in the path on the way out of the forest.

We had such a wonderful time, it was hard to come back home, even if we were gone only 2 days...but that's the beauty of vacation.  The reason it is always so wonderful is because it is different from the ordinary and we appreciate it so much more.  Imagine if we lived each day as though it were vacation!

If you have any ideas as to what type of mushrooms these are, I would love if you left a comment below informing me!  If you don't know, I would still love to learn what you did for Memorial day weekend!  A BBQ perhaps?

Luana ola!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Yoga for Detox

     We all know that spring is a time of new beginnings.  Nature is reawakening, plants and regrowing, and animals are giving birth.  It is also a time of detoxing; getting rid of all the excess our bodies naturally stored over the winter.

     More often than not, many people believe that detoxing/cleansing is a weight loss tool.  While this can be the case for some people, it is not necessarily the ultimate goal.  Cleansing is a time to purge toxins from the blood stream, allowing fresh new blood and nutrients to enter the body and flood it with good energy and life.  Having just gone through a cleanse myself, I have received the beautiful benefits of a cleanse, have felt the effects of the detoxing process, felt the vibrant energy from being clean, and have even gone back full circle to feel "clogged" again.  Through this clogged feeling, I have been able to understand why it happened...I ate clogging food...

When I was eating the life-promoting and vibrant raw vegan diet, I felt so energetic and alive!  As soon as the cleanse was over and I had pancakes (although they were vegan) for the first time in 21 days, I immediately felt gross.  The pancakes tasted amazing and I felt happy enjoying every morsel, but the aftermath was astonishing!  I felt tired!  I never had one time after eating a raw vegan meal in which I felt tired.  Every meal/snack gave me energy and life, which is why I am going to begin transforming my lifestyle into a raw vegan one.  Vegan is one thing, but raw is beautiful!

While I am in the process of making this transition (as with all transitions, you must do it slowly so that it is a lifestyle change and not just a fad that will not last), I will also be doing more detoxifying yoga.  The beautiful thing about yoga is that is cleanses the blood by allowing circulation through gentle  movements that stimulate energy and life.  All twists and inversions (those happen to be two of my favorite things in yoga) are detoxifying.  Inversions send blood flowing in the opposite direction, allowing your heart to relax a bit and more blood flows to your brain and thyroid (helping with hormone and metabolism regulation).  Twists, on the other hand, squeeze the inner organs and massage the intestines which facilitates digestion and cleansing of the digestive system.

Luana ola!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Final Week of Cleansing (Week 3)

Day 15:
This week is loaded with simply juices and smoothies!  I've already had 2 juices plus a banana and apple.  But, I needed those extra 2 pieces of fruit because I did a 17 mile bike ride today!  Why would I do such a thing, you might ask?  Well, first of all, I hate driving in a car...second, why not get exercise while you run errands?!  I had to make a couple mindless stops and the stores were located in the same strip mall about 4.5 miles away.  The ride added up 3 extra miles because I was trying to find a good place to tie up my bike and ended up circling the mall twice! Ha!  Here's to plenty of energy from all of this beautiful living food!
Day 16:
Funny story about today.  After my morning cup of lemon water, I had an apple and banana.  Just before lunch, I started to get a bit hungry, so I went to make a juice;  I was craving carrot juice.  I looked on the recipe list for today and saw that the juice of the day was carrot, celery, parsley, lemon, and apple!  It was so amazing how my body and the cleanse worked so well together!  Needless to say, it was absolutely delicious and hit the spot.
Day 17:
Although its a bit dreary out today, my spirits are up and I still feel alive.  So many times before this cleanse, I would feel awful on rainy/overcast days.  Not to say that I still feel better when the sun's out (because I definitely do!), but I don't have that dull feeling I used to get.  And my knees aren't as stiff!  Huge plus!
Day 18:

Day 19:

Day 20:

Day 21:
Wow!  I was so busy with life that I did not have time to write down my experiences each day for the past 3 days!  I know I know, typical Kathy...ha!  Well, I am officially finished with the cleanse and I feel so great!  Although I did lose some weight, that's not the important thing here.  The ultimate experience was the amazing detoxing that I had and how good I feel now that it's over!  I have so much energy and I feel happy, alive, and healthy.  I truly believe that this experience has also helped me to understand what my body truly craves/wants/ and needs; and it has helped me to deepen my yoga postures!

I am so thankful for the ladies that went through this experience with me and for all that I learned.  I might have a fun surprise for you all in the near future (hint: it has to do with this cleanse), but for now, I would love to hear about your experiences cleansing and/or any questions you might have about the process even if you have never done a cleanse before.

Thank you so much for following me through this process, and please come back and check in for more health updates, facts, and everyday journeys through life!

Luana ola!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cleanse Week 2

Day 8:
This week, we have cut down to one "chewing-required meal" (aka salad).  This means 2 juices, 2 smoothies, and a fruit meal plus a salad.  I still can't believe how much food I am eating!  It fills me up and I feel so good.

Day 9:
I am starting to get tired of all this drinking...smoothies that is.   The juices are great, but the texture and taste of some of the smoothies is starting to get to me (hang in there self, one more week!).  I do love smoothies,  but I really enjoy crunch and texture in my food.

Day 10:
Some of the other cleansers and I were talking about what we are going to do after the cleanse is over.  Andrew (who is not cleansing) said we should go to a buffet and load up!  I replied, "ha! I don't think so.  After what I went through the first couple of days in detox, I'm not going to waste it and fill up on more toxins".  So, I came to the conclusion that I will continue to eat mostly raw.  I'm thinking 70-80% to start off with and see how it goes.  It is so convenient to have my meals made for me 6 days of the week that I need to make sure my skills of raw foods are in a secure place before taking another big leap.  By the way, this was a VERY big leap for me!  I'll tell you all about it in my final post of the cleanse :)

Day 11:
2 people dropped the cleanse due to having too much to do.  I fully respect these two people because they did such a good job the first week and have such busy lives that it became one more thing on their already over-booked schedule.  Therefore, for 2 days out of the week, the other 5 of us are making our own food.  It worked out perfectly for me because the driving 30 min 2 times each day was getting exhausting!  So for today, and tomorrow (Mother's Day), I get to make my own 2 smoothies, 2 juices, and salad.  Speaking of salads, there is an AMAZING raw vegan caesar dressing that I have been thoroughly enjoying.  As always, I have found some wonderful modifications to appeal to all people and of course, less expensive (i.e. the recipe called for Macadamia and pine nuts, 2 of the most expensive nuts out there, so I found a lovely alternative).  I will be sharing these recipes with you all at the end of the cleanse!

Day 12:
A Happy Mothers Day to all women (mother or not!).  I did go a little off the cleanse today just because we had bought tickets to the Zoo, which included brunch for Mother's Day.  We did this way before the cleanse got started, so I kept to the plan slightly, but enjoyed plenty of vegetables, fruits, and of course a few sweets.  It all tasted great going down, but the rest of the day I felt sluggish and tired due to all the heavy food. That, and I might have eaten too much...;)  But you know what, I don't feel guilty because it is okay to enjoy and have decadent food every now and then. The important thing is that I listened to my body for when it was time to stop, and I still have one more week on the cleanse!  Happy Cleansing!
Day 13:
Today is my day to prep for everyone.  I will be running around like a crazy person, collecting jars, buying groceries, and making food for the other 4 ladies!  After my juice this morning, I already feel more clean and light even after yesterday's food.
Day 14:
Wow! 2 weeks down and 1 to go.  I am absolutely LOVING the way that I feel while eating raw.  The day after Mother's Day, I was really lethargic, moody, and tired.  It is so amazing how our bodies respond to food.  My body definitely knew that all those sweets and cooked foods were "dead" and offered me no life.  As soon as I got back to eating raw, my energy has shot back up and I am as happy as a clam once again! (Any one know the origins of that phrase, because I use it all the time and have no idea what it means or why we say it, I just know when to use it!)

Luana ola!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cleanse Week 1

Day 1:  I feel really good!  It helps that the sun is out and it's actually warm (81*!!!), though.  I can already tell that this raw food cleanse is going to feel so great to my body and mind.  Today I had lemon water, cleansing juice, and a green smoothie for breakfast.  Lunch was a delicious vegan Caesar salad, I had a bunch of fruit for a snack, and a bed of lettuce topped with raw, vegan chili!  The latter just happened to be my favorite meal of the day!!  Once I am don ewith this cleanse, I will definitely be putting this on the usual meal list!!   It's a little difficult getting the meals from the people that are doing this with me, but I think all the kinks will be worked out perfectly after these first few days.

Day 2: Amazing difference today...I still have lots of energy, but a different type of energy.  The type of energy I feel today is more like an awareness, it is a peaceful energy, and I feel very focused and centered.  I have had a couple detoxing symptoms including a slight headache, tired body, and these little bumps appeared on the back of my hands.  The funnny thing about the symptoms, though, is they make me feel really good because I know they are a good sign!  Still loving the food, and have been getting cold, so warm tea has definitely been a regular part of my evenings.

Day 3: I was so tired this morning!  It is definitely due to the detoxing process, but man it wiped me out.   Luckily, I had very little going on, so I was able to do some computer work and take a nap as needed.  I was also very hungry and I finished my breakfast, snack, and lunch by 11am.  When I finally got full enough to regain some enery, it was nearing 2pm.  I did a bit of yoga and kept resting just to make sure.  By the time evening came, I was ready for my dinner and a snack later that evening as well.  Maybe the hunger had more to do with needing to drink water/tea?  Although I've been drinking a lot...anyways, I can't believe how fast this cleanse is going by.  Day 3 down!

Day 4:
I had so much energy today!  I slept so soundly last night and woke up nice and hungry.  After drinking my morning juice and smoothie, I had enough energy to carry me through a 6 mile bike ride and teach a vinyasa yoga class.  I felt good all throughout the day and my hunger has finally been calmed.  I felt completely satisfied with the 5 meals offered.  The little bumps on my hands are still there.

Day 5:
Wahoo!  This energy from raw foods is amazing!  The bumps on my hands are slowly going away too!  I did a 7 mile bike ride, but the best part is that my muscles recovered very quickly and I was up for a shorter bike ride/walk with Andrew in the afternoon.  Here's to health and happy Cinco de Mayo!

Day 6:
 Still loads of energy! Feeling great!

Day 7:
I can't believe it's been a week already.  Prepping only once a week sure has its purks, but the time that goes into that one day is about 2-3 hours.  But overall, it's not bad considering all you have to focus on (in terms of food) for the other 6 days is just getting it and eating!  So amazing.  I've lost about 5 pounds already too!

Can't wait to see whats in store these next 2 weeks...I'll keep you posted, so be sure to come visit me this time next week :)

Luana ola!

Monday, April 29, 2013

21 Day Cleanse

I am so excited to share with you a wonderful weekend recap and some info about a cleanse I will be starting up soon!

First things first, this past weekend:

  1. Friday I had a really fun Jazzersize experience with Andrew's mom.  It was a "beach body" theme and the focus of each routine was on the lower half of the body.  I have been to Jazz before and have found it fun, but not super challenging...this class was not the same!  My legs were burning so bad and I was sweating like a crazy person only 30 min into the hour long class!  I'd say it was a great workout, and super fun!  
  2. Saturday I taught my Vinyasa class at Xsport and did some grocery shopping at Costco before going on a cute picnic with Andrew in the afternoon.  We ended up going to the forest preserve to play a little Frisbee before laying out on our yoga mats to do some reading (both of us have exams coming up...).  Then, after I took a short nap, we got some vegan Gelato before heading home for dinner and a movie. 
  3. Sunday was so much fun!  Andrew and I did the March for Babies in Elk Grove in the morning.   It was a beautiful 3 mile walk and we got free coffee, and bagels!  After the walk, I drove straight to Essencia's studio to meet up with my fellow yogis and give a short presentation on Ayurveda (post about that coming soon).  All of the girls were so much fun and we had a blast sharing information and eating a bounty of delicious raw foods!
Now for the cleanse:
I will be starting a 21 day green smoothie cleanse with 6 other people.  I won't get into too many details, yet, but I will say that I am super excited to be eating a diet made completely from plants!  100% raw vegan for 21 days!

Cleansing can be a scary adventure if you are unaware of how to go about it, or have no one to do it with. 
Spring is officially in the air, so take some deep Ujjayi breaths of fresh air and give your body what it wants and needs :)

Luana ola!