Many of my followers have read about my wellness journey. I've often shared my experiences with anxiety and depression. My journey has been wrought with ups and downs, but maintaining a healthy body with whole foods has been key to keeping a physically fit body.
However, I often say, "You can't compartmentalize the human body. When one area, be it mind, body or emotions, has been neglected, it effects the whole". I have often struggled with depression, not fully understanding the root cause. While I won't spend a lot time here talking about my journey, although I could write a book on the subject, I will share the benefits of yoga and how I integrated the practice as part of my personal care routine.
For about seven years, I have always wanted to become a certified yoga instructor. I wasn't interested in the westernized version of yoga, which focuses on the physical body, I wanted to understand the mind/body connection and how to center it using the breath. After much research, I found Sadhana Yoga School, which is centered on the ancient teachings of yoga, Sanskrit writings, and The Upanishads of yogic philosophy. Just be clear yoga isn't a religion, it's a way of life, which I have fully embraced. I am almost certain that I would not have overcome some of the mental, physical and emotional challenges I've faced without my practice. Yoga allows me to relax and induces a calm state of being, as it reduces stress levels in the central nervous system. It allows me to be present, in the now, using the body and the breath to quiet my "monkey mind" and racing thoughts. Yoga allows me to focus on the importance of self-care and keeping whole being healthy.
My yoga practice includes meditation, stretching, synchronized yogic poses and relaxation. Before I step foot on my yoga mat, I set an intention, such as "I want to give myself the gift of self-care today", or "I want to be more present and alive in body." When my practice has concluded, I thank Spirit, my inner teacher, for the willingness to present and learn about my body and inner wisdom.
MY YOGA JOURNEY (VIDEO BELOW)
Try This 30-minute Yoga Class For Beginners and Seniors with our friends at Sovereign Hands Yoga (see below)
If you’ve done your “downward dog” yoga pose today, you’re probably feeling more relaxed. Regardless of your level of yoga expertise, if you’re practicing regularly, you can feel better from head to toe.
Yoga offers physical and mental health benefits for people of all ages. And, if you’re going through an illness, recovering from surgery or living with a chronic condition, yoga can become an integral part of your treatment and potentially hasten healing.
A yoga therapist can work with patients and put together individualized plans that work together with their medical and surgical therapies. That way, yoga can support the healing process and help the person experience symptoms with more centeredness and less distress.
1. Yoga improves strength, balance and flexibility.
Slow movements and deep breathing increase blood flow and warm up muscles, while holding a pose can build strength.
Try it: Tree Pose
Balance on one foot, while holding the other foot to your calf or above the knee (but never on the knee) at a right angle. Try to focus on one spot in front of you, while you balance for one minute.
2. Yoga helps with back pain relief.Yoga is as good as basic stretching for easing pain and improving mobility in people with lower back pain. The American College of Physicians recommends yoga as a first-line treatment for chronic low back pain.
Try it: Cat-Cow Pose
Get on all fours, placing your palms underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips. First, inhale, as you let your stomach drop down toward the floor. Then, exhale, as you draw your navel toward your spine, arching your spine like a cat stretching.
3. Yoga can ease arthritis symptoms.Gentle yoga has been shown to ease some of the discomfort of tender, swollen joints for people with arthritis, according to a Johns Hopkins review of 11 recent studies.
4. Yoga benefits heart health.Regular yoga practice may reduce levels of stress and body-wide inflammation, contributing to healthier hearts. Several of the factors contributing to heart disease, including high blood pressure and excess weight, can also be addressed through yoga.
Try it: Downward Dog Pose
Get on all fours, then tuck your toes under and bring your sitting bones up, so that you make a triangle shape. Keep a slight bend in your knees, while lengthening your spine and tailbone.
5. Yoga relaxes you, to help you sleep better.Research shows that a consistent bedtime yoga routine can help you get in the right mindset and prepare your body to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Try It: Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
Sit with your left side against a wall, then gently turn right and lift your legs up to rest against the wall, keeping your back on the floor and your sitting bones close to the wall. You can remain in this position for 5 to 15 minutes.
6. Yoga can mean more energy and brighter moods.You may feel increased mental and physical energy, a boost in alertness and enthusiasm, and fewer negative feelings after getting into a routine of practicing yoga.
7. Yoga helps you manage stress. According to the National Institutes of Health, scientific evidence shows that yoga supports stress management, mental health, mindfulness, healthy eating, weight loss and quality sleep.
Try It: Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Lie down with your limbs gently stretched out, away from the body, with your palms facing up. Try to clear your mind while breathing deeply. You can hold this pose for 5 to 15 minutes.
8. Yoga connects you with a supportive community. Participating in yoga classes can ease loneliness and provide an environment for group healing and support. Even during one-on-one sessions loneliness is reduced as one is acknowledged as a unique individual, being listened to and participating in the creation of a personalized yoga plan.
9. Yoga promotes better self-care. Scientific Research on Yoga Benefits The U.S. military, the National Institutes of Health and other large organizations are listening to — and incorporating — scientific validation of yoga’s value in health care.
Numerous studies show yoga’s benefits in arthritis, osteopenia, balance issues, oncology, women’s health, chronic pain and other specialties.
Resources Credit: HopkinsMedical.org
If you or any one close to you suffers from Depression, Anxiety and Neurological Disorders, support is available.
Father's Day is always bitter-sweet for me. While I celebrate all of the fathers which have had an impact on my life over the years, I think about my own dad, who is no longer with me.
My dad, was the traditional working man (employed by Ford Motor Company for 30 years) and provider, as many Black-American fathers are, making sure his children's basic needs, food, water, shelter, and education were met. He not only provided the basics, he made it possible for my siblings and I to participate in extra-curricular activities, such as athletic, music and various youth programs.
My father, Eugene Owen Thomas, the son of a tobacco farmer and homemaker in rural Kentucky, was born in 1930 on the heels of The Great Depression. My dad never went beyond the third grade, which was typical for the time, but what he lacked in education, he certainly made up in creativity and ingenuity. I rarely saw my dad call on anyone to assist him with home maintenance tasks such as plumbing, painting, carpentry and other repairs. He always found a way and simply figured things out, which is what I admired most about him. He did not allow his 3rd grade education to impede him in any way, especially when it came to taking care of his family and home.
In addition to his many talents, my dad was a barbeque pit master. On any given day, rain or shine, you could find him in the back yard smoking or grilling something delicious on his home-crafted barrel grill. In addition to his skills on the grill, he also made his own barbeque sauce, a revamped version of an old family recipe. His Kentucky-style vinegar-based barbeque sauce became such a hit that family and neighbors would purchase his recipe by the jar. Had he taken his sauce to market, I have no doubt it would have rivaled some of the top brands on the shelves today.
My fondest memories of my dad was connected to food. Whether he was grilling and barbequing butcher cuts or wild game, he always allowed me to look over his shoulder. Quite honestly, I attribute everything I know about food preparation to my dad. Although my dad was not an emotionally expressive man, he expressed his love through cooking for his family. I am forever grateful for the time we spent together and the bond created through food.
Learn how to make my own version of Gene O's Kentucky-style Barbeque Sauce. Turn To Page 72 > Click Here
1 c. White Quinoa (uncooked and rinsed)
3 c. Water 1 - 14.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 White Onion, chopped
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1 c. White mushrooms, chopped
2 T. + 2 T. grapeseed or avocado oil
3 T. + 2 tsp ISW Veggie & Snack Seasoning
Add quinoa and water to rice cooker. Use "white rice" setting. Once quinoa is done, rice cooker will default to "keep warm" setting.
Tip: The typical quinoa/water ratio is 1:2. However, for this recipe, the ratio is 1:3. The quinoa will need to have a mushy texture which is the key for keeping the mixture together when forming patties.
Combine 2 cups cooked quinoa, black beans and 3 T. ISW Veggie & Snack Seasoning by using a potato masher until mixture is slightly mushy.
In a skillet, heat grapeseed oil. Add onions, peppers and mushrooms. Add 2 tsp. ISW Veggie & Snack Seasoning and cook until vegetables are tender.
Combine cooked vegetables with quinoa mixture. Form 6-8 patties and set aside. In a skillet, heat 2 T. grapeseed oil. Add patties to skillet and cook 2 minutes on each side. For firmer patties, place in the oven at 350 degrees F. for 15 minutes.
Burger Mayo Recipe 1/4 c. Vegan Mayo + 2 T. ISW Veggie Snack Seasoning Stir ingredients until well combined.
Find this recipe and more. Order your copy of FEED today.
2 T. grapeseed or avocado oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 c. mushrooms
1/2 c. spinach (optional)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp white or black pepper
1/2 c. gluten-free bread crumbs
2 tsp. smoked paprika
3 cups Sea moss cheese, prepared (Recipe Here)
You can also swap out this recipes for these cheeses: Basic White Cheese, Smoked Chipotle Cheese
Order your copy of FEED: Living Food Recipe to be Made and Eaten with Love.
1 - 12.5 oz Coconut Cream (full fat)
1 tsp. Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
2 Garlic Gloves, crushed
1/3 c. Nutritional Yeast
2 tsp Yellow Mustard
3/4 c. prepared Sea Moss (see "Irish Sea Moss Dr Sebi's Healing Algae" video)
1 T. Arrowroot Powder + 1-2 tsp Spring Water to make a slurry
2 T. Avocado Oil or Grapeseed Oil
Note: Cheese will thicken as it cools and will solidify slightly when kept in the refrigerator. For a pourable cheese, add cheese to a saucepan and whisk in small amounts of plant-based milk until desired consistency is achieved.
Honestly, I only started eating lentils five or six years ago when I stumbled upon Trader Joe's lentil soup in the refrigerated section. One of the reasons I liked it so much was because it was filling and became a great animal protein substitution, for the most part. I also liked the fact that it was easy to prepare, once the grain (legumes, actually) had been soaked overnight.
I'm one of those people who can eat soups year-round, but hearty soup recipes, like the one I've posted below, seems more appropriate during the cooler or cold weather months. I'm not a fan of using the term "comfort", as it applied to food, but in this case, lentil soup seems to provide comfort for my soul, and more importantly, essential nutrients for my body.
Lentils provides a wealth of health benefits, but I'll focus on the top 7 which includes:
Lowers CholesterolLentils help to reduce blood cholesterol since it contains high levels of soluble fiber. Lowering your cholesterol levels reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke by keeping your arteries clean.
Promoted Good Digestion
Lentils has been found to prevent constipation and other digestive disorders like IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome) and diverticulosis.
Promotes Hearth Health
Studies show that eating high fiber foods like lentils reduces your risk of heart disease. Lentils are also a great source of folate and magnesium, which are big contributors to heart health. Folate lowers your homocysteine levels, a serious risk factor for heart disease. Magnesium improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Low levels of magnesium have been directly associated with heart disease, so eating lentils will keep your heart happy!
Of all legumes and nuts, lentils contain the third-highest levels of protein. 26 percent of lentil’s calories are attributed to protein, which makes them a wonderful source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.
Blood Sugar Stabilizer
Lentils helps stabilize blood sugar levels, which can be beneficial to those suffering from diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.
Lentils increase steady, slow-burning energy due its fiber and complex carbohydrates. Lentils are also a good source of iron, which transports oxygen throughout your body and is key to energy production and metabolism.
Promotes Weight Loss
Although lentils include all these beneficial nutrients like fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins, they are still low in calories and contain virtually no fat. One cup of cooked lentils only contains about 230 calories, but still leaves you feeling full and satisfied.
BTW...Bulk is Usually Better
Although I buy prepacked dried peas and beans from time to time, I find it easier and much less expensive to purchase these from the bulk bins. I can typically purchase as much or as little as I need, especially if I'm only preparing a recipe periodically, plus it costs much less per pound than prepackaged items. However, always ask your grocer how quickly a particular bulk item moves, as you want to make sure you are buying the freshest ingredients available.
I invite you to prepare this absolute AMAZING Red Split Lentil Soup. If you're not exactly a fan of lentils, you will be! This makes a wonderful pairing with my Spelt-Buckwheat Flatbread recipe. Refer to recipe tutorial below.
Slow Cooker Red Split Lentil Soup
Author: Regina Thomas Dillard
2 cups Red Split Lentils (soaked overnight)
8 Roma Tomaoes, hand-crushed or chopped (sub. 2 cans Fire-roasted Tomatoes)
4 Garlic Cloves, crushed (sub. 2 tsp crushed garlic - from jar)
2 Vegetable Boullions (sub 1 tsp Vegetable "Better Than Boullion" paste)
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
3 Celery Stalks, diced
3 Carrots, diced
1 Onion, medium, diced
3 Tbsp ISW Vegetable & Snack Seasoning
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
2 Bay Leaves, whole
Slow Cooker Method:
Drain lentils and rinse thoroughly. To slow cooker stock pot, add lentils and all ingredients. Cover with water. Allow to cook on high for 4 hours. Adjust salt seasoning as needed.
Stove Top Method:
Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 1/2 hours or until lentils and vegetables are tender. Drain lentils and rinse thoroughly. To slow cooker stock pot, add lentils and all ingredients. Cover with water. Allow to simmer for 40 minutes or until peas are tender. Adjust with vegetable seasoning as needed.
2020 was the year that forever changed us all. It forced us to slow down, give up things (whether we wanted to or not), and despite our best wishes for things to go back to normal, I think we all slowly realized with each passing month that we might not ever fully return to the way things were before.
When I look back on this past year, I’m not going to sugar coat it and say that this was the greatest year of my entire life. In many ways, it has been one of the hardest years for me, especially mentally.
What I learned was the importance of a balanced energy system and avoiding or managing those things which cause energetic imbalances, such as processed sugars, nutrient deficiencies, high stress, exercise overexertion, poor sleep habits, and toxic relationships.
While some level of stress is normal, a continued, high-stressed state can contribute to a host of health issues, including a weakened immune system and adrenal glands. We want to find ways to bring our bodies into balance without becoming stressed about what is happening to it.
One of the ways I bring my body into is by getting my day off to a great start. I typically use the first 1 to 1-1.2 hour to sit still and go within. Some of the modalities I use is prayer/affirmation, meditation, and a gentle yoga flow. Afterward, I make sure I have the right foods going into my body to maximize my daily nutrient intake. And you know what? Your first meal of the day does not have to be labor intensive, it can be quick, delicious, AND nutritious, like this Hot Coconut Cereal, made with coconut flour, flaxseeds, coconut oil, coconut cream and flavored with cinnamon, maple syrup and pinch of sea salt
So try this recipe and let me know how you like it. Here’s to a Happy New Year and, not a new, but BETTER YOU!
Author: Regina Dillard
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons golden flax meal
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup water
pinch of salt
1 large egg beaten
2 teaspoons coconut oil or ghee
1 tablespoon coconut cream
1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup or your favorite sweetener
Measure the first five ingredients into a small pot over medium heat and stir. When it begins to simmer, turn it down to medium-low and whisk until it begins to thicken.
Remove the coconut flour porridge from heat and add the beaten egg, a small amount at a time, while whisking vigorously (otherwise eggs will scramble). Place back on the heat and continue to whisk until the porridge thickens.
Remove from the heat and continue to whisk for about 30 seconds before adding the coconut oil, coconut cream, salt and sweetener.
Garnish with your berries, sliced apples or your favorite topping
This is probably my favorite time of year, you know, that part which starts the week of Thanksgiving and ends midnight December 31st. I've always enjoyed all the activities and events which surrounds each holiday. Sadly, with the global pandemic still very much alive, many families won't be able to connect as before. We are always reminded of the precautions we should take when being in contact with love ones, especially high-risk individuals, the immune compromised and seniors. Although many of us have decided to shelter in place and will plan holiday dinners for our immediate families, we still want to experience a sense of togetherness with our extended family members during this time.
While I'm not a big fan of technology (as I sit here "clicking" and "clacking" away on my keyboard - lol), I am reminded of its blessing. This age of technology has provided us a simply way to connect with family and friends using various video chat platforms. For that, I am grateful.
Although you may not be planning to prepare a big feast as in prior years, you can still create fun dishes which your family will enjoy. Also, this is a great time to consider creating and delivering contactless meals for family and friends to enjoy. For instance, this year, I am making several vegan sweet potato pies. I'll be boxing them up and leaving them at the door of my brother and friends' homes.
This year, I decided to make a rich, creamy and slightly sweet dish for my Thanksgiving Eve virtual wine and cheese party. I've always enjoyed making fresh cranberry sauce for my holiday table, so I thought I'd add a twist to this recipe and make it something which would pair well with my Cashew Cheese recipe. The cranberry compote recipe requires a few ingredients which can be found at just about any conventional grocer.
Before we dive into the recipe, let's chat about cranberries and its health benefits.
Benefits of Cranberries:
Supporting Resource: Women's Health Magazine, Christine Bryne, July 12, 2018
Now...on to the recipe.
For many of the dishes I create, which are on the sweeter side, I try to find a way to incorporate fresh herbs and spices. In this case, I used fresh thyme sprigs to add a slight contrast to the tartness of the berries and add subtle grass notes which pairs well the wine we'll be using. Side note: be sure to wrap thyme in cheese close and add during the cooking process. You want to infuse the flavor of thyme without making the leaves and sprigs part of the finished product.
While I wanted to use blood oranges for this, I found they are not no easy to find and in many cases, not as sweet, if you do find them. So, I opted for navel oranges which add a bit brightness to the recipes and balances the flavors. Think: Madras Cocktail. For this recipe we'll only require 1 juices orange and grated orange peel.
Rather than creating this recipe with water, I wanted a full-bodied red wine for depth and flavor. In this case, I used a Cabernet Sauvignon, which has flavor notes of mint and jam. As a alternative, you may always use a port dessert which will not greatly affect the final dish, but will add more sweetness to the compote, if that's what you want to achieve.
.Next on the ingredient list is Cointreau. Other than bartenders, I find many people are still asleep on this beautiful citrus-flavored triple sec liqueur. Just adding a splash of liqueur to certain dishes add a subtle citrus note which balances the flavor of tart, sweet, and herbaceous desserts and compotes
Now here's where you can customize this recipe by choosing sweeteners best for you. If you are maintaining a low-sugar, you might want to consider using Stevia for this recipe. While there's not easy way to measure Stevia for recipes, my suggestion is the add it to the recipe a pinch at a time. To little and the tartness from the berries will overpower the recipe, too much could pretty much ruin it.
As alternative and my personal recommendation is to use Monkfruit Sweetner, which contains zero calories, zero glycemic, gluten-free, and in my humble opinion, responds to many recipes the same as conventional crystalized sugar.
Since this recipe includes a Cashew White Cheese recipe, it's important to prepare this recipe first. See Video Below. Once the cheese has been prepared, transfer to a clear wrapping sheet and form into a log or rectangle. Due to the soft, velvety texture of the cheese, you will need to place the log into the freezer for 45 minutes, then transfer to refrigerator for extended chilling. and better slicing.
Basic White Cashew Cheese (Recipe)
Now this beautiful dish is ready for assembly. Simply place the entire log of rectangle-shaped cheese onto a service platter. Spoon the cranberry compote on top of the cheese and garnish with leftover thyme or rosemary sprigs.
Now you're ready to serve! Use a cheese knife to place a dollop of this creamy, salt and sweet goodness on top of whole grain crackers, toast points, or gluten-free croissants. Enjoy!
CRANBERRY COMPOTE | Regina Dillard
In a medium pan add wine, orange juice, orange zest, liqueur, thyme bundle and sugar.
Allow the mixture to cook on medium high until the berries begin to "pop".
Stir mixture frequently to prevent sticking to the pan
You'll begin notice the mixture becoming more gelatinous.
Once the compote has thickened, remove from heat.
Chill in refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Keep leftovers in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
Pairs well with this amazing Herbed Flaxseed Recipe
Regina Thomas Dillard is a certified plant-based chef, the author of "FEED: Living Food Recipes to be Made and Eaten with Love", and founder of Inner + Sanctum Wellness, a business dedicated to assist others as they embark on their holistic journey. All products are handmade and sourced from reputable organic and natural ingredients.