Clear the blocks to abundance & do what you love

After finishing my Yoga Training last year & quitting my full-time job, I honestly wasn't sure how to go about starting my own business, promoting myself & putting myself out there (even though I majored in Marketing).

Luckily, I stumbled upon Gabby Bernstein who was offering a free video series on owning your own business, the tools to overcome fear blocks & practical business tools to get your off the ground running. By watching her free training, I've realized it wasn't the marketing skills I was lacking, but the fear & confidence to "be myself", to "put myself out there just as I am."

Since then, I went through her Spirit Junkie Masterclass online training program last summer & I honestly can say that I wouldn't be where I am today without it. This training gave me the confidence & the tools to propel my business forward & it continues to do so. Check out her 2nd free video because the WORLD NEEDS YOU & YOUR TALENTS & I hope it serves you in the way it served me! 

Spirit Junkie Masterclass Digital Course  offers a totally unique combination of deep-dive spiritual practices and practical business tools that will create massive transformations in your life and career.

People who want to gain the confidence to own their purpose and take action on their dreams right now.

Watch the video of me sharing my personal story & experience with participating in the Spirit Junkie Masterclass Digital Course last year & hope you will be as inspired as I was to take action in your dreams

 

This is a groundbreaking course — there isn’t another one out there like it. Over 8 modules you will:

  • Gain the confidence and business-building tools you need to live your highest purpose, make an impact and earn for your great work.
  • Deepen your own spiritual practice.
  • Take spiritually aligned action on your dreams so you act with guidance and clarity. (Most people don’t do this!)
  • Get concrete advice on how to craft the career you want — from some of Gabby’s most trusted experts in spirituality and personal growth!
  • Get detailed, step-by-step guides on how to turn your blog into a business, publish a book, lead groups, create digital courses and more! (I’m not holding back!)
  • Experience a unique combination of deep-dive spiritual practices and practical business tools that create massive transformations for you and your career.
  • Feel the incredible energy of a live event. Unlike most online courses, the Spirit Junkie Masterclass Digital Course is filmed live in HD for amazingly crisp, beautifully produced video and audio. You’ll be catapulted right into the room!
  • Have the freedom of a flexible, 100% online program. Take it anywhere, anytime! Learn in the way that’s best for you with video, audio, transcripts and worksheets.
  • Get lifetime access so you can return to the material and learn at your own pace. PLUS, new content is added regularly!
  • Join an amazing community of Spirit Junkies to connect with in a private Facebook page. This tight-knit, supportive and inspiring network will be invaluable to your life, your spiritual practice and your career for years to come.
  • Always have support as you go through the program, plus opportunities to ask questions and access an awesome Q&A archive!

And because I personally know what a transformative process this course will be for you, I'm offering 3 FREE follow up coaching sessions to keep you supported throughout the journey

Plus, Gabby is offering a MAJOR bonus in addition to the bonus I’m offering. Enroll by June 29 at 6 pm ET to lock in

P.S. Enrollment closes and all bonuses — mine and Gabby’s — expire on June 29 at 6 pm ET. Sign up now to lock in everything!

P.S. I’m a proud affiliate of Gabby Bernstein’s Spirit Junkie Masterclass Digital Course. I deeply believe in her and this program and may earn a referral fee if you sign up from my recommendation. 

The Most Simple, But Powerful Exercise You Can Start Doing RIGHT NOW to Quiet a Racing Mind & Reduce Stress

The Most Simple, But Powerful Exercise You Can Start Doing RIGHT NOW to Quiet a Racing Mind & Reduce Stress

Sitting still might seem like a simple practice, but it’s actually very difficult to be alone with ourselves and our thoughts, especially if we’ve been through some traumatic experiences in our lives where even a simple silence can bring up a lot of difficult emotions associated with those negative experiences. Meditation can be a very powerful practice to release those feelings associated with the experiences that might have happened back in our childhood and we are still holding onto it in our bodies & in our minds.

Five Morning Routines for a Happy Spirit

Five Morning Routines for a Happy Spirit

Mornings are a sacred time, where we get a clean slate, a whole day ahead of possibilities. However, the truth is mornings can be hectic & crazy filled with rushing around getting everyone fed, dressed & out the door. That's why it is so essential to establish a simple, but powerful morning routine that is deeply nourishing to prep the body & the mind for the day ahead and to streamline the process and keep everyone sane in the meantime. It's important to begin the day with gratitude & love, which means no emails, text or Facebook first thing in the morning. Here are my five essential morning routines to maintain a happy spirit throughout the day. 

Make Your Own Healthy Fruit Punch This Summer

Make Your Own Healthy Fruit Punch This Summer

Summer is filled with fun festivals and carnivals, birthday parties and BBQs, which unfortunately is filled with sugary drinks and processed foods, leaving you bloated, depleted & still hungry. While it's OK to indulge once in a while, after weeks of over-indulging on these zero nutritious foods, you will start to feel it in your body & notice it in your mood.  

I have just the recipe for you to quench your thirst in a natural and refreshing kind of way with a Home-Made Fruit Punch.

The One Ingredient You Need To Heal Your Gut & Your Skin

The One Ingredient You Need To Heal Your Gut & Your Skin

We are all racing against the clock here, whether you are battling wrinkles, acne or general aging of the body, we want to stay looking youthful and vibrant every day. We try all kinds of chemicals to treat our acne & smooth our wrinkles, but let me tell you that it all starts from the INSIDE, inside your gut to be exact. 

Coffee & Coconut Oil Scrub

I've ran into this beauty hack while researching holistic remedies to the women's biggest enemy: CELLULITE! And what I've found out is coffee does so much more than reduce years of collected cellulite.

 

Coffee is naturally a great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. and caffeine draws out excess moisture from your skin, causing it to look and feel smoother and firmer. In this scrub, coffee acts as a mild exfoliant, removing dead skin cells and exposing fresh, soft skin.

While coconut oil is moisturizing and filled with vitamins and minerals

You can also add a dash of organic ceylon cinnamon to the mix which helps to clear your skin of any bacteria. It also brings blood to the surface of the skin, helping to smooth out any lines.

So the super simple recipe is:

  • 2 parts ground coffee
  • 1 part coconut oil (room temperature - you want it to be SOFT, not solid & not liquid)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Mix everything well in a glass mason jar and keep it in your shower for a daily spa-like experience

Inspirational Quotes

The health of your mind and your soul impacts your health far more than your physical diet or exercise.
The more deeply we drink from The Inner fountain of infinite joy that is available to each of us at all times, regardless of our circumstances, the more secure we become in our own abundant happiness
Let go of the results. After all, it’s the process, not the destination, that reveals what we hope to find.
Tiny moments of presence add up to a lot of fuel in your tank when you need to step back from a challenging or stressful situation.
The F in Forgiveness is Freedom
As you turn the volume up on present moment, your turn the volume down on stressful mind activity. You create space and clarity.
I know I’ll succeed if I show up offering the best version of myself, stick to my intentions, and step outside of my comfort zone
Growth is limitless
You have to be knocked off center in order to find center
If you stop grasping for control of the uncontrollable, you can learn to breathe through it all.
The feeling or experience you are seeking is an inside job that you can have TODAY. You do not have to wait for someday to feel the way you want to feel. Putting an expectation on something in the future creates suffering today.
Gratitude, like happiness, is not a random feeling or emotion. It’s an action, a response that we can choose to cultivate in any situation. Even those that are painful or sad or difficult. It’s not always easy to do, but we always have a choice to do it.
By filling your bucket with gratitude, there isn’t room for the negative energy to come in: and once you change your world view, things begin to flow
Be unapologetic about being you
Let go of the battle. Breathe quietly and let it be. Let your body relax and your heart soften. Open to whatever you experience without fighting
Remind myself everyday that my time on planet earth is limited and I want to spend it being vibrant, present and fully alive
Courage isn’t about becoming fearless. Courage is the willingness to experience our fears. And as we experience our fears, courage grows
Perfection or fullness is not to be acquired, it is already there. All we have to do is remove the veil that keeps us from experiencing it
True wealth is an internal condition. The way to recognize it is to concentrate on the things that you already have that money can’t buy
Let yourself be guided by your passions, with no expectation. Your only job is to see where they lead, and enjoy the process of living with passion.
When the next storm hits your life, adjust your sails, and you’ll have a much better chance of making it through.
Know that you have what you need, no matter what you receive. Understand that attachment repels abundance while detachment effortlessly attracts.
It’s not that you don’t have time, it’s just not a priority
We can either complain about the character we’ve rolled, or we can acknowledge it and then play that character to the best of our ability.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable or imperfect. Be brave enough to share your truth and you’ll help others be courageous enough to share theirs.
Like a surfer on a wave, you let the energy take you where it knows you’re meant to go.
I let go of thinking my dreams and goals need to happen right now. Sometimes who I become in the process of waiting is more important than the actual achievement.
Assemble your life around small acts of self-improvement until they become habits. Once you nail this, positive change will become a way of life.

Mantras & Affirmations

Mantras posses potent manifesting power that lies within the universe. It's important to word these mantras & affirmations from the present moment as if it's already happening. Our words and thoughts are composed of energy and therefore contain extremely potent power to alter our reality.

I am exactly where I need to be
I am open to possibility
Happiness is the choice I make
I love the work that I do in the world.
I welcome abundance in all areas of my life
I am understood, loved and accepted
I am grateful for my struggles for they have shown me strength
I feel financially abundant, which fuels my passion for my work
I choose to let love in and fear out
I’m expressive & respectful in my relationships
I’m choosing to grow with grace
I’m playful with life
I trust that all is happening as it should
I expand my strengths to fuel my passion & support the world.
I trust my decisions and have faith in where I’m going
I let go of comparing, I let go of competing, I let go of judgments.
I let go of the need to know the outcome.
I let go of the need to be needed.
I let go to love as my guide.
I am enough
I am stronger than my struggles
I align with my power to heal, live fully and love completely
I love the feeling of being strong, vibrant and confident
I embody the feeling of wellbeing, being strong, confident and attractive
I feel joy in the present moment.
I’m open to feeling the energy of (love, balance, happiness etc…) in my heart
I let go of my worry.
I let go for my need for approval.
I know how magnificent I am
I let go of results

Shakshusha - a simple & satisfying breakfast dish at last

Breakfast is often my most perplexing meal of the day. Still half-asleep I roll out of bed at 6AM sharp to a house full of screams of “MAMA!” Oliver is a morning person unlike the rest of the household. Even our dog, Ralphie, won’t stroll into the kitchen before 9AM.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! It breaks my heart when I hear people say they DON’T EAT BREAKFAST! Breakfast sets the tone of the rest of the day and for me, cereal just doesn’t cut it, a yogurt is not enough. I need my breakfast to be fulfilling & delicious. I’m a big fan of preparing my breakfast the night before and putting it in the oven in the morning giving me time to doquick yoga routine (if the boys are cooperating that day). But there are only so many things you can make ahead and sometimes a freshly cooked breakfast is what your body needs. I came across this Israili recipe and it looked so intimidating and time-consuming, I didn’t even give it a try. However, it kept popping up in my facebook feed from cooking groups and pinterest and emails and I just thought it was a sign. This recipe was stalking me, it was BEGGING me to try it and how glad I did. It is SUPER simple, SUPER delicious, SUPER filling and SUPER customizable.

This is a basic, simple shakshuka recipe, not spicy and kid friendly. For variety, different ingredients can be added to the tomato base—jalapenos, green chilies, parsley, red pepper flakes, or anything else that sounds tasty to you. I sprinkled my shakshusha with nutritional yeast and served it with a side of Horseradish Leek Sauerkraut (not pictured here, but did I tell you my latest fascination with Farmhouse Culture’s variety of Sauerkraut? OMG, they are just so delicious! I eat it for breakfast, lunch & dinner). Use your imagination!

Serves: 4 (2 adults + 2 kids)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 sweet onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Himalayan Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5-6 eggs (depending on how many people you are feeding that day)
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped dill or parsley for garnish
  • 1/2 tbsp of nutritional yeast
  • a spoon full of sauerkraut. Get fancy with flavors like Smoked Jalapeno, Spicy Wakame Ginger Kimchi or my favorite Horseradish Leek.
  • side of lox

DIRECTIONS:

  • Add chopped onion to a deep, large skillet or sauté pan with grapeseed oil, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Sprinkle some turmeric and the onions become this beautiful golden color and are infused with anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Add garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant.
  • Add the bell pepper, sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium until softened.
  • Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir till blended. Add spices, stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes till it starts to reduce. At this point, you can taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences. Add salt and pepper to taste, more sugar for a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper for a spicier shakshuka (be careful with the cayenne... it is extremely spicy!).
  • Crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. I usually place 4-5 eggs around the outer edge and 1 in the center. The eggs will cook "over easy" style on top of the tomato sauce.
  • COVER THE PAN! Allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes on LOW, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced. Keep an eye on the skillet to make sure that the sauce doesn't reduce too much, which can lead to burning.

Scoop onto plates divided, garnish with some fresh dill or parsley, nutritional yeast, side of lox and some sauerkraut and you’ve got yourself a winning breakfast that will keep you full all the way until lunch.

What's your favorite breakfast dish?

Meditation's Healing Powers

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For the past 6 months, I have meditated over 32 HOURS! My meditation journey was a slow one. I loved the brief 5 minutes of meditation I got from every yoga class during the savasana (last resting pose) and I wanted to explore more, but I always came up with excuses such as “I don’t have time”, “I can’t sit still for that long” and a variety of others, but my body was aching for peace and for stillness, among the chaos that I was part of. Yet, I ignored it and went on with my life, until life got so chaotic and so crazy, I was starting to get panic attacks and gasping for air. By then, my body was SCREAMING for attention, it was yelling for me to listen, to tune into what was happening INSIDE. So, I made time, I downloaded an app and committed to the 30 day meditation challenge.

It was very difficult for me to sit still, my back ached, so I decided to do my meditation in the savasana which is how I enjoyed it to begin with. I started to look forward to it every day, my body started to CRAVE it! I love the convenience of the meditation app, because I can meditate ANYWHERE; at home, in the car, on my hammock, in the park while lying on the grass and basking in the sun with my headphones on.

Looking back now, I can’t even believe that such little effort each day of 10-15 minutes I dedicated, has had such an impact on pretty much every aspect of my life: my relationships, my health and my spiritual journey began with this practice.

Here are some amazing benefits I started reaping from my daily meditation practice:

  • I sleep like a baby (or like a koala). It may not necessarily be longer, but it is better quality sleep. I fall asleep quicker and stay asleep through the night without tossing and turning like before. Most people toss and turn because they start to analyze their day, plan for the next day ahead, reflecting on thoughts and emotions. That all makes it very difficult to fall asleep. Meditation offers you that time to be able to sort through your mind so you are not battling with it while trying to sleep.
  • I have more patience. With two rumbustious toddlers in the house, there is always whining, fighting and writing on the wall. It is sometimes difficult to keep my calm, but I have noticed my patience increased as I dug deeper through my meditation. I’m by no means 100% Zen at ALL times, but I’m definitely more aware of my surroundings and when I’m about to lose it, I know just the actions I need to take to bring me back to Zen.
  • I appreciate every moment. We have started a gratitude jar where we (and by we, I mean me, myself & I. My husband has written in it ONCE!) write all the things we are grateful for in our lives; as little as I love my fence and as big as I love my husband for being so open and understanding in difficult situations. Meditation helps to expand the window of perception, allowing you to see the value in every experience and every relationship.
  • You don’t need external validation because you love yourself for who you are, just the way that you are. I used to need my parents approval of my choices, then my husband’s, then my in-laws. I felt like it was a never-ending game of “Please Love Me” and “Please Accept Me”. Meditation has allowed me to tap into the source of fulfillment, a satisfaction I have never experienced in my life before.
  • I have less "FOMO" (fear of missing out). I used to be guilty of this ALL THE TIME. I wanted to be everywhere at once. I was always rushing from one thing to another, trying to experience as much as possible. And as much as I love the “hungry” part of me, I was getting run-down. Meditation helped me to SLOW waaaaay down and really enjoy the journey to the destination.
  • I have less fear. I used to be afraid of taking chances; big changes scared me due to an unforeseen outcome. Even though I was lucky enough to have friends who have pushed me to take leaps, internally I was a chicken. After meditating, I have finally started to listen to what makes me happy. I have gotten my Reiki certification, so I can bring more healing into this world and I have finally signed up for my yoga teacher training. I still have fears about the unknown: I don’t know if these endeavors will bring success, I don’t know if I will be a great teacher but what I know is I followed by heart on these choices and that sure will bring an abundance into my life.
  • My desire to drink alcohol has diminished significantly. In fact it is pretty much gone. My friends would often hear me say “I need a drink” after a long day. Many people consume alcohol as a way of alleviating stress, but meditation helps you release your stress and boost immunity, so the need for alcohol begins to decline.
  • My communication with others has improved. By mastering my emotions, I’m now able to clearly explain my point of view and be emphatic towards others. I’m able to actually LISTEN to others and respond in a calm manner.
  • I practice guilt-free-self-care more frequently. Let’s be honest, as mothers, in the midst of kids and chores and errands, if you are not taking time for yourself, you will get burnt out. Meditation has allowed me to tap into my needs and being able to act upon them without feeling guilty about it. If my body is aching for an Epsom salt bath tonight while husband puts the kids to bed, then I make it happen.
  • It has helped me be less judgmental. This may apply to any culture, but I feel like the Russian culture is very judgmental and critical, especially the older (babushkas) generation. This form of “communication” and “bonding” has been engraved into me since childhood and I can feel how meditation is starting to break down those patterns. I find myself more understanding towards people’s differences and their circumstances. I complain less about why people do the things that they do. I accept them for who they are.
  • I watch less TV. The mindless shows I used to look forward to watching are now replaced with activities such as reading, exercising, gardening, writing, working on my hand stands etc. I use that time that used to be wasted on TV to engage in activities that feed my soul.
  • I savor my food. This may be obvious to some, but I used to chow down food so fast to hurry to something more “productive”. I’ve often engaged in thoughts such as “what if we didn’t NEED to eat, how much time we would have for ... more busy-ness”. Only after practicing the art of being mindful did I start to really ENJOY my food, to really taste it! Not to mention all the digestive benefits of chewing your food slowly and thoroughly, I was starting to see food in a different light resulting in more mindful, healthier and more fun grocery shopping trips. Now my thoughts gravitate towards statements such as “I can’t wait to cook and taste this!”

Wonderful things start to happen when you tap into that amazing mind of yours and really observe your thoughts, reflect on emotions and connect to the deeper parts of soul that are screaming to be heard.

Honey & Dill Salmon

salmon
salmon

I absolutely LOVE salmon. I crave it! And if I could eat it every day, I totally would. It is so versatile too; you can have it for breakfast as lox on toast, for lunch on a salad or for dinner as a main dish. You can make it once and eat throughout the day or week. It's just simply amazing and the best thing it is SOOO simply to make.

And did we talk about salmon's benefits?

It is an excellent source of high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals (including potassium, selenium and vitamin B12) but it is their content of omega-3 fatty acids that receives the most attention. And in case you forgot what omega-3's are, they are these are essential oils (EPA and DHA) that contribute to healthy brain function ,the heart and the joints.

Now, there is always a lot of debate regarding whether to buy farmed or wild. To tell you the truth my opinion has been swayed towards wild for a while, because of all the bad rep farmed fish has gotten. But then I dug deeper into this and found out that buying farmed fish may not be so bad, because responsible farmers  set high standards for their farmed salmon; and I think it tastes milder, but it is recommended to vary your options between wild and farmed.

So here is the recipe for this amazing salmon:

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs salmon
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or more! I love garlic for its taste and health benefits)
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill leaves (or you can use dried dill weed)
  • Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together honey, garlic, olive oil, dill, salt and pepper
  • Place salmon onto prepared baking sheet and fold up all 4 sides of the foil. Spoon the honey mixture over the salmon. Fold the sides of the foil over the salmon, covering completely and sealing the packet closed.
  • Place into oven and bake until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.

Garnish with some more fresh dill and prepare for an orgasm in your mouth!

Spinach Quinoa Feta Cakes & Cucumber Dill Yogurt Sauce

In my attempt to try and omit meat from our diets without the husband noticing, I made these and he had NO idea :) SCORE! Even my meat-loving 3 year old picky eater was saying "I want some more of these 'meat' cakes" haha

spinach cakes
spinach cakes

I'm always curious as to which foods are better eaten raw and which are better consumed cooked and for the longest time I thought spinach is best eaten raw, but did you know that it's actually better absorbed by the body COOKED? Cooking it actually increases its health benefits! Just like tomatoes!

Spinach has MANY health benefits, but my 3 favorites are:

1) Skin care - can relieve dry itchy skin if consumed on a regular bases. Need to get me a juicer. My birthday is coming up. Anyone? :)

2) Keeps you regular - its high fiber content, as well as water helps promote a healthy digestive tract. Yes, everybody poops!

So, here is a very delicious, nutritious & simple recipe to incorporate more spinach into your diet:

Ingredients:

Spinach Cakes

  • 1 medium onion (I like the sweet onions) finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves,  finely chopped
  • 6 oz chopped baby spinach
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups of cooked quinoa
  • 8 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • 1/4 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cups bread crumbs
  • himalayan salt & pepper to taste

Cucumber Dill Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 cup of plain TOTAL aka FULL FAT! Greek yogurt (FAGE is my FAVE!)
  • 1 medium size finely chopped cucumber
  • 2 tbsp of finely chopped scallions
  • 2 tsps of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsps of fresh chopped dill
  • Salt & pepper

Directions:

1. Cook your quinoa according to directions. Usually, it's bring to boil, then reduce and simmer until a ring forms around it, drain and cool

2. Sautee onion for 2 minutes, add garlic until softened and fragrant. Mmmm, love this smell!

3. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl

4. Add the eggs, cooked quinoa, dill, feta, lemon zest, salt & pepper. Mix well. Add bread crumbs and let the mixture sit for a bit to absorb the moisture

5. Form round patties in your hand and line them up on a cutting board so they are all ready to be cooked.

6. Heat you skillet on medium-high heat and place the patties, in batches ( I did about 4-5 patties per round)

7. Grill them until they are browned about 4-5 minutes per side.

8. Serve with the yogurt sauce

Yogurt Sauce Directions:

1. Whisk together the yogurt, scallions, lemon juice, dill and cucumbers in a small bowl, season with salt & pepper and refrigerate to allow the flavors to mend. If you don't have time for this step, no worries, it's good as is :)

Enjoy!

Avocado Brownies

With my new sweet tooth, I needed to make some healthier desserts and these avocado brownies are just perfect! And talk about the chocolate goodness! Especially DARK chocolate.

Avocado Brownies
Avocado Brownies

Health Benefits of eating and baking with dark chocolate.

  • Heart health - can help lower blood pressure by improving blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots.
  • Brain Health - increases blood flow to the brain as well as the heart, improving your cognitive function
  • Makes you happy :) - Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you're falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier.
  • Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help free your body of free radicals, which cause oxidative damage to cells.
  • Dark chocolate contains theobromine, which has been shown to harden tooth enamel. That means that dark chocolate, unlike most other sweets, lowers your risk of getting cavities. And yes you still have to brush your teeth! (with natural Xylitol toothpaste of course)
  • Cough suppressant - Theobromine is also a mild stimulant, though not as strong as caffeine. It can, however, help to suppress coughs.
  • Dark chocolate helps keep your blood vessels healthy and your circulation unimpaired to protect against type 2 diabetes.

Health benefits of baking with avocados:

  • It's a great way to reduce fat in your desserts: A 3.5-ounce serving of butter has a whopping 81 grams of fat compared to 14 grams in the same serving of avocado.
  • By substituting avocado for butter, you'll be eliminating saturated fat from your desserts and replacing it with healthy fats.
  • Avocados not only have a ton of vitamins, but they also may reduce cholesterol and fight heart disease.

So, here is the recipe for these amazing brownies and NO, they do not TASTE like avocados once finished

Ingredients:

  • 2 large ripe avocados, mashed as well as you can (about 1 1/8 cups)
  • 8 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose organic flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon himalayan salt
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally spray a 9-inch square pan with non-stick spray.
  • In a large bowl, whisk mashed avocado and melt chocolate. Whisk in sugar until combined, then add in eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well. Add in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, mixing with a large spoon until JUST combined - do not over mix. Stir in avocado oil until it's well distributed and batter is somewhat smooth, then spread batter in pan. Bake for 28-32 minutes, or until middle is set. Remove and let cool completely, then frost and top with grated chocolate if desired.

Enjoy!

Kefir Cranberry & Apricot Cake

Dried fruits are nutritious, yummy and convenient, but look for dried fruits that have been dehydrated naturally and contain no sugar.  Dried fruits also contains more fiber than the same-sized serving of their fresh counterparts. And as we all know fiber helps keep your digestive system running smoothly. Dried apricots, for example, contain 6.5 grams per cup, while fresh apricots contain just 3.1 grams.

For this recipe, I used dried apricots and cranberries for the topping, however you can use anything you like: dried cherries, blueberries, mango, fig, plum, pear etc.

This recipe also calls for kefir, which is a great way to add some pro-biotic into your diet.

Cakes generally are not associated with health, however I'm a strong believer in the "spoil yourself once in a while instead of overindulging later". Plus, there is always a way to modify a dessert recipe for guilt free indulgence. For example, there are ways to substitute for the butter, like apple sauce or even an avocado. Also, there are many ways to substitute your flour: almond flour is my favorite.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of kefir (I used a flavored Wildberry kind, but you can use whatever flavor or plain kefir)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 cups of brown sugar
  • 1 stick of melted organic pasture-raised butter (substitute apple sauce or even avocado here)
  • 3 tbsp. of olive oil
  •  1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Zest of an orange
  • 2 cups of all purpose or cake flour (you can substitute for almond flour if you are brave and verse in your conversions)
  • ½ cup of dried cranberries
  • ½ cups of dried apricots (diced)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • In a medium bowl, combine kefir and baking soda. Set aside
  • In a large bowl, mix eggs and sugar on high for 2 minutes, add butter (apple sauce or avocado), olive oil, vanilla, orange zest and mix well.
  • Add the kefir mixture. Mix to combine
  • Add flour. Mix well, making sure there are no clumps
  • Fold in the dried fruit
  • Pour into a beautiful cake mold pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean

Enjoy!

The 3 Grains You Need To Start Eating Now!

I know we’ve all heard about the basic grains like brown rice, oatmeal, wheat flour, but there other more exciting grains out there that pack more fiber and protein than your average grain. Warning – your taste buds will be challenged!

Let’s first talk about AMARANTH! I first heard about it on the Dr. Oz show, so decided to try it out for myself. It’s very different from anything I’ve ever tasted with a sweet, peppery flavor and a nice crunchy texture. It’s gluten free like many of the other grains and works well in baked goods or as a side.

  • Protein Punch:  Amaranth contains 28 gram of high quality protein per cup! And what is protein? Pretty much a hand in every critical function of your body. The protein contained in amaranth is also complete containing a complete set of amino acids. Even though we only need a certain amount of protein in our bodies each day (46 grams for women & 56 grams for men), there are also other factors to consider. For example: after a work-out, you need the extra protein to help the body rebuild the muscles and sustain an optimal recovery
  • Calcium Galore: Amaranth packs almost 300 milligrams of calcium/cup compares with white rice of 52 milligrams
  • Lysine: An amino acid that helps your body absorb calcium, process protein, and convert fatty acids to energy. The body can't make its own lysine and so must obtain it from foods, such as amaranth.
  • Magnesium:  Contains 519 grams of magnesium, while white rice only contains 46 grams. Magnesium relaxes blood vessels, improving blood flow and nutrient delivery while lowering blood pressure
  • Iron: Contains 15 milligrams of iron
  • Fiber:  Contains 18 grams of fiber, which aids in digestion and contributes to lower cholesterol
  • Disease prevention: The oils, high in linolenic acid, in amaranth have been shown to help prevent and treat those with hypertension and heart disease. Regular consumption of amaranth can reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.
  • Grey Hair Prevention: This was a shocker to me as I’m sure it is to you, but apparently amaranth shows promise in prevention of premature greying of the hair.

Buckwheat is actually not even a grain, but a fruit seed related to rhubarb, but since it’s mostly confused with being a grain and it is super nutritious, I decided to include it. Buckwheat (Гречка in Russian) brings back a lot of childhood memories for me, because buckwheat is very widely used in Russia and its cooking.

  • Amino Acids: Contains all of the 8 amino acids which are essential to our health.
  • Disease Prevention: Buckwheat has a rich supply of flavonoids, which protect us against disease like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
  • Disease Management: Buckwheat is beneficial for managing diabetes, because it lowers glucose levels.
  • Fiber: High in insoluble fiber, which can help you avoid gallstones
  • Weight Loss Management: Buckwheat fills you up faster and suppresses your appetite, a great tool for weight loss.
  • High Levels of Potassium: Potassium helps to maintain the water and acid balance in blood and tissue cells.
  • High Levels of Zinc: Zinc helps to bolster the immune system

Bottom line is incorporating buckwheat in your diet can help you stay fit, lively, and healthy.

Quinoa (pronounced KIN-WA)  is probably my favorite grain of all, not only due to its high nutritious content, but because it is so versatile. You can use it as a side to dinner, in salads, soups, breakfast, you name it! You can really get creative here!

  • Protein Power House: Packs 9 grams of protein/cup compared with a 6 gram for the egg.
  • Amino Acids: Contains all of the 8 amino acids making it a “complete” protein.
  • Fiber Heaven: Rich in fiber, it’s digested slowly and has a low glycemic index, which produces a gradual rise in blood glucose/sugar levels.
  • Gluten Free: There has been a debate whether a gluten-free diet is actually healthier for an average person, but it definitely is necessary for people with digestive disorders, like celiac disease.
  • Bone Builder: A fabulous non-dairy source of calcium, which builds and maintains bones and teeth, helps regulate the contraction of the heart, and facilitates nerve and muscle function. One cup contains 30 milligrams of calcium.
  • Brain Power: Great source of iron, which helps to deliver oxygen to the blood, boosting energy and brain power. Quinoa’s vitamin B content can help keep the mind sharp, maintain brain volume and stabilize mood.

These 3 grains will surely give you something new to play with in the kitchen, so go ahead and experiment :)