2010: 5 Tips to Make It Your Best Year Ever!

Happy New Year's Eve, friends! As I prepare for a fresh new year this evening, I wanted to touch base and offer some ideas on making next year ROCK! You know you want to.

Five Tips to Make 2010 Your Best Year Ever:

1. Visualize it! If you see yourself making positive changes, you're over halfway there. Actually, more like 97% there. Visualization is an effortless, powerful way to co-create the life you've always wanted.

2. Think it! I still remember the first time I was able to pull off a consistent meditation and exercise discipline - it was about 15 years ago and I had previously thought of myself as all talk and no action in that department. However, I had the idea one day to start thinking differently about the situation. Just think differently. So, I started thinking thoughts like "maybe I really can do this now!" and "what if I really do start this on Monday?" And whadda ya know? That coming Monday I began and maintained the discipline I was aiming for!

3. Move it! I would have never guessed it ten years ago, but winter is now my best exercise season! There's cross country skiing, fun at the gym, dancing to great music indoors, yoga, pilates, and snowshoeing (OK, I actually don't like to snowshoe but I thought I'd throw it in for variety). Exercise will boost your mood, make you feel good, and vitalize your life. Take a moment now and decide what kind of exercise routine you could implement this coming year as a gift to yourself.

4. Love it! Think about all that is good in your life right now and take a moment to reflect on the positive changes and growth you've experienced in this past year. Love yourself and love your life - as much as you can right now - and you'll lay a foundation of love bricks that you can keep building on. Yeah, that's right...love bricks.

5. Eat it! Vow to include more vegetables, whole foods, and organic produce in your diet this year. Emphasizing these body-vitalizing foods will increase your wellness, streamline your cravings, and slim your waistline. Not to mention the fact that you'll have less room in your diet for junk when you're eating more of the good stuff!

I hope at least one of these tips inspires you to make 2010 your best year ever - thanks so much for reading and I'll see you next year!

Forgiveness: Five Ways to Lighten Your Load

Forgiveness...wow, what a subject! Recently, I received a special request for this as a blog topic from someone who had been betrayed and who was having a hard time forgiving. She realized that she needed to move on and forgive, as the feelings of resentment were wearing away at her peace and she wanted to move on. I commended her on her awareness of this, as well as her desire to stop focusing on the "wrongdoing" of the other party and take responsibility for her own inner well-being. For that's the only way to truly heal.

So, today I'd like to give a few tips on the how of forgiving. Because, when all is said and done, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Wouldn't it be nice to stop carrying the unhelpful, useless baggage of resentment and feel lighter and happier? Well, here are 5 tips that will help you lighten your load. I guarantee that if you put forth effort to practice even one of them it will greatly increase your peace!

1. "The more one knows, the more one forgives." -Confucius
I like to think of that great quote in this light: If you really KNEW the reality behind what was happening in your life (think "Grand Design"), you would realize that everything is happening for a reason. Our worst experiences are our greatest teachers and gifts. I know (oh, trust me...I know) that this can be very, very hard. However, I also know that it's true. So, for this first tip, I recommend just becoming open to this idea. Give yourself permission to be open to a greater level of understanding. Just this simple act of being open will create a sacred space for a happier, wiser state of consciousness.

2. Be grateful. No, this doesn't mean saying "Gee, thanks!" when someone cuts you off in traffic. It means that you are aware that, again, everything in your life is a blessing (albeit often in disguise) and that you are conscious enough to say thanks to your Higher Power - whether that be God, your higher self, the Universe, Buddha, or Santa. Open yourself to the possibility that this experience is a great teacher, here to make you more free, happy, and wise. Perhaps it will make your life from this point on much easier because you will no longer sweat the small stuff. Gratitude is also one of those magical qualities in life that just shifts everything and clarifies your understanding.

3. Find a mirror that you are comfortable looking into. For a few minutes every day, say the following to yourself as you gaze into your eyes: "I love myself by letting go" and "I am open to forgiveness." Feel free to throw in any other hokey affirmations, as long as they actually work (and most really do).

4. Realize that just because you choose to forgive another person does not mean you condone their behavior. Yes, your husband may have run off with your best friend (on your wedding night to your mom's house), but that doesn't mean you need to let it ruin your life. It means that other people are acting in an ignorant, selfish manner. They are being unkind, but still human. However, everyone has faults and makes big mistakes. The best thing you can do for yourself is to choose who you want to work things out with and who you want to say goodbye to. Forgiving does not mean continuing to spend time in unhealthy relationships. You can forgive for your own well-being while simultaneously maintaining a space of defined boundaries.

5. When in doubt, visualize! The power of your own imagination is huge. Huge, I say! If you change your consciousness on the matter through the power of your thoughts and mental images, you will be able to watch the entire situation shift with ease. To begin, become aware of your current state of consciousness on the subject. Just observe what is going on in your mind. You may notice a lot of thoughts like "Why can't I forgive?" and "That jerk!". To shift into the happy place, all you need to do is begin to change your thoughts and images to a state of positive affirmation. For example, when you catch yourself thinking "I'm so mad at her," you can replace it with the thought "I love this feeling of forgiveness!". Reinforce this with your imagery as well. In fact, it would be extremely helpful to spend just a few minutes every day imagining the ideal situation. See yourself feeling lighter and lighter, happier and happier. Visualize yourself being confronted with that person and feeling completely at peace. See yourself surrounded and engulfed in brilliant love and light. Yes, this may sound new-agey, but who cares? It works!

Holiday Waffles (or Pancakes)

As I've been working on recipes for my next book - a healthy weight loss guide - I've been a little neglectful of this blog... Sorry, friends! I definitely haven't forgotten about you. And just to show my thanks for your support, I'd like to share this recipe (one that will be in the new book) for darn tasty waffles. I've been making them all week for my daughter, who can't get enough of them (and who hasn't figured out I'm stashing lots of squash in them either!). Hope you enjoy.

Holiday Waffles

Just because you want to be healthy and trim doesn't mean you should deny yourself the good eats! And here is just the example. These waffles are high in fiber, low in fat, and absolutely delicious. For those of you who prefer pancakes, this recipe doubles just fine as a pancake recipe.

2 tablespoons ground flax (flaxseed meal)
1/4 cup boiling water
Nog it Off:
1 cup vegan eggnog (such as Rice Nog or Soy Nog--available in most supermarkets and health food stores)*
1/4 cup pureed squash or pumpkin
How Dry am I:
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon each: sea salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg

1. Place the flaxseed in a medium bowl and stir with the boiling water. Allow it to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes so that it becomes gooey.

2. Stir the eggnog and squash into the flegg mixture until well combined.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients, calmly ignoring the sad attempt at humor. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture until well combined, but do not overmix.

4. If you're making waffles: Use the batter according to the directions on your waffle maker. You'll want to make sure it's hot enough and sprayed lightly with oil to prevent sticking.

5. If you're making pancakes: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. If you don't have a truly nonstick pan, you may need to spray or lightly coat the skillet with oil (coconut or non-virgin olive oil being the best choices).

6. When the pan is hot, drop the batter onto it to form what could resemble a pancake. Do this again and again until you have several pancake-type formations on the skillet. When they are very bubbly on top and browned on the bottom, flip over and cook the other side. When both sides are nicely browned, remove to a plate. Repeat until all of the batter is gone. Serve hot, with a drizzle of pure maple syrup, applesauce, or agave nectar.

*If you can't find vegan eggnog, you can simply substitute the nondairy milk of your choice.

Serves about 3
SF/Blue/30 minutes or under!

The Perfect Party Pleaser: Gourmet Vegan Mini-Pizzas

Happy holidays, my friends!

Today I've decided to post one of my favorite crowd pleasin' recipes from my 2nd edition of Radiant Health, Inner Wealth. They're easy to make and mouth-wateringly delish. Literally. I just started salivating....

Hope you enjoy!

Artichoke, Kalamata, & Sun-Dried Tomato Mini-Pizzas with Garlic and Rosemary

Do I even need to give you the recipe after a title that long? Although these are quick and easy, they’re always a huge hit! Absolutely divine and seemingly gourmet, this recipe takes less than 20 minutes, start to finish. I’ve left the measurements fairly loose, as it’s sometimes nice to just make one of these (and sometimes nice to make twenty). Please don’t be bashful with your toppings—just pile on the good stuff!

High quality crusty sourdough bread, cut into ½-inch thick slices
Fresh garlic, minced or pressed (about 2 cloves per slice of bread)

Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped (about 4-5 olives per slice of bread)
Marinated artichoke hearts, drained* (about 2-3 artichoke hearts per slice of bread)
Marinated sun-dried tomatoes, julienne cut and drained* (1-2 tablespoons per slice of bread)

Finishing Touches:
Dried rosemary leaf, about ½ to 1 teaspoon per slice
Olive oil (regular or extra-virgin), about 2 teaspoons per slice of bread
Sea salt (a light sprinkle per slice of bread)

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.

2. For each slice of bread, spread the garlic evenly over the top with a knife. Arrange the olives, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes on top of the garlic. Sprinkle evenly with the dried rosemary. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

3. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for about 10-20 minutes, or until the bread and toppings are lightly browned. Be careful not to overcook or the rosemary will become bitter.

4. Serve immediately.

Serves: any number of hungry peeps; SF/Purple (according to the guidelines in Radiant Health, Inner Wealth)

*I usually place the artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes in a strainer together to allow the excess marinade to fall away.

Top Three Tips for Staying Healthy Throughout the Holiday Season

Yes you can, I know you can, I know you can can.

That's a line from a great song, and also represents how I feel about our abilities to stay healthy at all times! I know that the Holidays can be a big fat challenge for many of us in terms of staying on track with our health goals. So, today I'm feeling inspired to share a few tips that will keep you on track and not let the indulgence mentality sabotage you!

Top Three Tips for Staying Healthy Throughout the Holiday Season:

1. Don't deprive yourself! This was listed first and foremost for a reason. The Holiday season is not the time to say no to everything! It's a time to enjoy your friends, family, and festivities. I know from personal experience that trying to be "perfect" (especially through deprivation) does not work. Nothing will sabotage you faster than feeling like a failure, either! Just be gentle with yourself and allow for a few treats here and there. The key is simply to stay balanced and aware. And not use this as an excuse to go crazy at the chocolate store. Some chocolate, fine. Two bars of chocolate, not so much.
2. Fill up on the good stuff. No, the good stuff isn't artificially colored sugar-sprinkled candy bits. By "good stuff," I actually mean the stuff that your body will be happy about. Rather than focusing on what you shouldn't be eating during the Holidays, you may find it liberating to instead emphasize healthy foods. Eat lots of fresh, organic vegetables and whole foods. If you make these real, wholesome foods the mainstay of your diet, you'll have less room for the indulgences. And, your body will be able to process any indulgences better if it has that foundation of healthy foods.
3. Stay centered. Despite the business and excitement of this season, you'll find that your food and health choices will automatically come from a higher place if you're relaxed and happy. How to stay centered, you ask? This is a great question! There are lots of ways to stay centered, and all you need to do is start with one that speaks to you! Some examples are learning to meditate, practicing yoga, doing a mantra (consistent mental affirmation), and focusing on your breath. My book, Radiant Health, Inner Wealth is also a guide for inner wellness practices, so if you have a copy, be sure to check out the chapter on "Aligning with your Radiant Life." Whatever you choose, make it fun, doable, and something you can realistically stick with!

Thanks so much for tuning in today. I wish you excellent health and wellness during this and every season!

I'd like to mention as well that the Kathleen Show has a wonderful program called Prevention Not Prescriptions which is chock-full of ideas on staying healthy naturally, without the use of prescription medicines. New topics are added every Tuesday, so be sure to check it out for more great ideas.

Asian Asparagus Wraps

It's about this time of year that I start getting overly enthusiastic about making delicious nibbles for friends and parties. For my upcoming holiday potluck, I'll be making one of my most requested appetizers--these yummy, crunchy asparagus wraps. They're super easy to make and always, always a hit. This is a recipe from the 2nd edition of my book, Radiant Health, Inner Wealth. Hope you enjoy!!

Photo by Wanda, admin for the Vegan Peace forum.

Asian Asparagus Wraps
What an easy way to impress guests! These crunchy munchies will have people thinking you went all out, when actually they take only about 15 minutes to prepare. The key is to make sure you have very flavorful asparagus spears before wrapping them. In fact, they should taste a bit too flavorful as is, since wrapping them in the phyllo will “dilute” their flavor a bit.

3 large (or 6 small)* sheets phyllo dough, thawed (see page 42 for phyllo tips)

Overly Flavorful Asparagus:

12 thin (or 6 fat) asparagus spears, trimmed (see page 39 for tips)

2 teaspoons toasted (dark) sesame oil

1 tablespoon each: fresh lime juice and tamari, shoyu, or soy sauce

6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

The End (Happily Ever After):

Non-hydrogenated margarine (or toasted sesame oil) for brushing**

2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds (preferably black)

1. Place the asparagus, sesame oil, lime juice, tamari, and garlic in a medium-large skillet. Sauté over medium heat, stirring often, just until the asparagus is bright green and barely tender. You will want them to be slightly underdone, as they will cook a little more in the oven. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Gently remove three large (or six small)* sheets of phyllo and set them aside. Immediately roll up the remaining phyllo dough in plastic. Place in another airtight plastic bag and put it back in the fridge.
3. If you are using three large sheets of phyllo, cut them in half width-wise to make six sheets.
4. Place one sheet of phyllo on a clean dry surface and brush it with margarine or toasted sesame oil (or spray it with oil**). Place two thin asparagus spears (or one fatty) at the bottom of the phyllo sheet, making sure to scrape some of the garlic and flavorings from the pan onto the asparagus. Roll the phyllo up and over the asparagus. Continue rolling up until you have a phyllo “cigar.”
5. Place it on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Brush the top with more margarine or toasted sesame oil (or spray with oil). Sprinkle with some raw sesame seeds. Repeat this process with the remaining asparagus and phyllo.
6. Bake until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes. Be careful not to over-brown, as phyllo cooks very quickly. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 asparagus wraps; 30 Minutes or Under! SF (if using oil)/Blue (according to the guidelines in Radiant Health, Inner Wealth)

*If your 1 lb. package of phyllo dough contains twenty large sheets of phyllo, you’ll need to use three sheets. However, if your 1 lb. package of phyllo contains forty smaller sheets, you’ll need six sheets.

**You may instead spray the phyllo with oil, as it’s quicker and lower in fat. Of course, the more “buttery” and time consuming approach of brushing the phyllo yields a more intense, rich flavor.

Keeping Kids Healthy This Season!

Hi, Moms! And HI to everyone else who tuned in (just because you're cool like that and know the happnin' spots to be).

The other day, I spoke for a few minutes on the Kathleen Show about boosting our immune systems. The show's host (yes, Kathleen) unintentionally inspired today's topic as she mentioned that her son had had been fighting one bug after another this season. As kiddo wellness is a topic I'm especially fired up about, I decided to spend a little time today empowering those of us with the will to make positive changes!

As many of us have experienced, this has been a particularly challenging season to keep our kids healthy. But, say I, it CAN be done! Just by making a few changes in your child's routine and diet, you can be assured that they will spend less time illin and more time chillin. Oh, and please don't leave--I promise the bad jokes will stop...

So, without further bad jokes, here are my...

1. Make sure your child gets plenty of vitamins A and C (which both work as preventative and curative medicines). The best way is via whole foods--Kid-friendly sources include carrots, yams, and oranges, as well as other yellow and orange vegetables and fruits. However, if you aren't able to get these vitamin-rich foods into your child's diet, you can give her a daily vitamin.
2. Along those same lines, you can help your child eat more fruits and veggies by making it fun! As illustrated in the above photo, kids love helping in the kitchen. That's my daughter, using our spiralizer to make carrot "hair." Do you think I had any trouble getting her to eat that beta-carotene rich hair after she made it? No, she chowed it down and asked for more! Make fun shapes out of veggies and involve your children in the kitchen as much as possible. And please stay tuned on my YouTube Channel--my next video will be all about getting kids to love their veggies!
3. Help your child develop the habit of washing his hands more often (and especially before meals). Mentally walk him through his day at school and help him visualize the times he will wash his hands (after recess, before lunch, etc.). This habit will go a long way in preventing the spreading of germs. Oh, and it doesn't hurt to head over to the health food store and pick up a natural hand sanitizer that he can store in his desk. I bought one recently for about $3 and it smells like peppermint!
4. Incorporate kale into your child's diet. This amazing superfood is incredibly immune-boosting and strengthening. I have put two highly kid-pleasing kale recipes from my book Radiant Health, Inner Wealth on this blog and also posted a video for how to make the uber-healthy and yummy Krazy Kale Chips.  You can watch the video and observe my daughter munching away on them!
5. Get your garlic on. Garlic is antibiotic, antibacterial, and just an all-around wide spectrum medicine, great for preventing and also helping to cure illnesses. The fresher the better, I say, so try crushing some and working it into your child's diet wherever she'll allow it. My daughter, for example, professes to hate garlic--but loves it when I put lots of fresh garlic on her garlic bread. If your child absolutely refuses to eat any garlic, however, there are garlic supplements available (many of them odorless) in stores.
6. Get some natural vitamin D. With all the hype over excessive sunlight exposure these days, I feel some of us have gone a bit too far in the other direction. I firmly believe it is healthy to get some sun exposure daily--and the vitamin D effects from that are proven to boost the immune system as well! Just make sure not to overdo it, though. Even 10 minutes in the sun daily works well for a natural vitamin D boost.
7. Incorporate as many whole, organic foods into your child's diet as possible. Eat real food. Make it taste good. This is simple stuff, but it has become complicated, unfortunately, by all of the misinformation and availability of processed food these days. But, let's get back to basics here. When a child's diet is based upon real, whole, fresh food, she will naturally be healthier, stronger, and more able to resist illnesses. And for those of you with my book Radiant Health, Inner Wealth, be sure to check out the section on pages 249-250 where I list the dozens of recipes and meal ideas for healthy kids.
8. Zinc. Incorporate it. Whether through the magic of zinc-rich foods like roasted pumpkin seeds or vitamin-C tablets that have been enriched with zinc, this nutrient will help prevent and cure colds.
9. Work it, baby! Help your kids incorporate exercise into their daily routine--especially outdoor exercise if possible. Staying physically fit does wonders for boosting the immune system! Some examples of winter outdoor exercises that kids love include: downhill skiing, cross country skiing, hiking, walking, sledding, and running around like lunatics.
10. Teach your child how to relax. Nothing takes the system down quicker than stress! A simple relaxation technique can be as simple as sitting down, relaxing the body, and focusing on the breath. Again, please stay tuned to my YouTube Channel, as I will also be posting a simple relaxation technique within the next few weeks.

Thanks so much for tuning in today, my friends! As always, I wish you and your little ones abundant health and happiness.

I'd like to mention as well that the Kathleen Show has a wonderful program called Prevention Not Prescriptions which is chock-full of ideas on staying healthy naturally, without the use of prescription medicines. New topics are added every Tuesday, so be sure to check it out for more great ideas.