Henna For Healthy Hair

To apply it on the hair; Henna powder is mixed...

Henna powder

I’m one of those who would rather give up bananas than inhale the fumes of ammonia, peroxide, and the other nasty chemicals in hair dye while letting it slowly seep into my scalp.  Still, at the risk of sounding shallow, I feel more confident with a rich hair color that reflects my vibrant personality.  While I’m all for inner beauty, I know that outer looks have a great affect on how the world interacts with you – and you with the world.

So, how do I merge my boycott of chemicals with my girly-girl desires?  Henna.  Yep, that’s right.  I’ve been dying my hair with henna for at least 6 years now.  When I first told my mother this, she was taken back to her own twenty-something years in the ’70s.  I explained to her that henna products have come a long way since then – both in simplicity and results.

For those that aren’t convinced, henna actually conditions your hair, leaving it healthier.  That’s a far cry from the brittle, chemically damaged hair that can result after years spent in the hair salon.

Continue Reading »

I brainstormed this in all of the 1 minute it took for my fridge to start frantically beeping at me for holding the door open too long as I gazed inside.  I had just gotten home at the end of a long work day, anIMG_1481d I needed something quick and without thinking.

The salad.  As easy as taking half a bunch of chard and chopping it, stems and all.  You could also food-process it.  Use the stems to add texture and color – mine was rainbow chard with an attractive combo of red, yellow, and white stems.  Then, just add a few squeezes of Dijon (I used German) mustard and mix up.  Done.

Portobello “pizza”.  All I did was put some pizza sauce on a couple of Portobello caps, put them in a nonstick baking dish, and pop them into the toaster oven at 350 F for 10-15 minutes.  Make sure to lightly oil the bottom and periodically check on them to de-stick them.  When they are done, they will shrink, become easy to bite into, and start to smell “mushroomy”.

Sweet potatoes.  I just cut them into 1” chunks and steamed them for 15-20 minutes.  I ate them as-is.

You can start the pizza and potatoes cooking while you prepare your salad.  Then, by the time you are done eating your salad, your next course will be ready.  Voila!

I can assure you that this tasted better than it looks.  And what do you expect from practically no thought and little effort?  Leave your thoughts below.

You “taste” food with your eyes and nose, too. IMG_1331

Place a cut grapefruit in front of me, and I can smell its tangy sweetness and see each juicy, ripe section, brilliant pink in color.

This combo makes me start to salivate, sending signals throughout my body, preparing it for digestion.  Food should be just as equally appealing to these other overlooked senses as to our taste buds.

The Japanese know this and instinctively design their meals to appeal to all the senses, not just the obvious one.  When you enjoy your meal with all your senses, you are more satisfied and this may help you avoid reaching for seconds.

Is anybody else tired of grossed out co-workers asking, “What is that?” or having to hide their breakfast smoothies in opaque bottles when in public?  How does that help us lead by example?  I’d much rather have someone look at my fruit salad and say, “I wish that was my lunch,” versus, “You must have so much self-discipline!”

Here are some tricks that you can apply to your own meals: Continue Reading »

Vegas Vegan Valentine’s

What does a vegan do on Valentine’s Day?  Apparently, the same thing as everyone else.  These vegans had a date night at a nice restaurant.

Last time I wrote about date night, I said I was going to try one of the Wynn restaurants next time.  Well, Valentine’s would have been the perfect chance, but… we didn’t.  Jay just couldn’t stomach paying $70.  I choose my battles, and since I was really busy yesterday without time to plan, I said fine.

But, I didn’t want it to turn into a repeat of Valentine’s past with us making a meal at home and parking in front of a movie.  That’s pretty much a repeat of every other free night of our lives!  This home-bound couple needed to get out.

So, we went to one of our tried-and-true favorites – Frank and Fina’s Cocina.  It’s a small place with lots of charm and a “Vegetarian” section of the menu that can easily be made vegan by asking for no dairy.  They also always have a “Vegetarian Special” – last night it was squash and corn enchiladas.  One of my favorites is their sweet potato enchiladas.

We’ve been fans for years, since they had their old, crusty inner-city location off Charleston.  Then, it really was a hole in the wall, but the food tasted just as good.  I know we aren’t the only people who followed it across the valley. Continue Reading »

Saturday, after attending a kombucha-making class, I rushed home to try out my new skills.

Earlier that day, I was sitting in the cozy kitchen of Jason Firth, a self-declared “kombucha nerd”, as he walked us through the basics of kombucha brewing and shared the recipe for his signature second batch brew – Lemon Blueberry Ginger.  We got to try about a dozen different flavors of kombucha that Jason made himself, ranging from spicy to sweet.  All were delicious, and by the time the samples were over, boy was I buzzing with kombucha energy!  Then, he pulled off pieces of his precious mother and sent us home with kits for making our own.

Kombucha culture

Kombucha culture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a couple of weeks, after letting my baby incubate in my warm, dark oven, I will be drinking my own home-brewed fizzy.

Jason explained to us that the kombucha culture is basically a symbiotic relationship between several types of bacteria and yeast.  Sounds delicious already, right?  Continue Reading »


Hypothetical situation: you meet a girlfriend of yours for drinks every few months, and lately each time you see her, she seems to have gained a new layer of padding.  You truly love your friend, and you are worried she’s headed to frumpsville, a place you are all too familiar with yourself.  Fortunately, you think to yourself, I know just want she can do to reverse this trend.

Stop right there.

You are in this predicament because you have just enough information to be dangerous.  You dropped the pounds yourself and have set up your own good, stable, healthy routine.  And all you want to do is share your secrets with the world.  You care about this woman and can see oh so clearly as her car heads towards the cliff.

What I normally do is keep my mouth shut.  Believe me, this is HARD.  But, you know what?  Ever heard of “Not Created Here” Syndrome?  Basically, the theory states what we all inherently know – if she doesn’t come up with the idea on her own, your carefully thought out suggestions are going nowhere.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t set up a situation where she “discovers” the idea on her own.  Continue Reading »

Parsley: Not Just a Garnish

IMG_1954If you’ve never made a salad where parsley is the star, you’re missing out.  Beyond tabbouleh, parsley is a salad green in it’s own right.

Just 3 cups chopped (a small salad) contains 62%, 24%, 25%, and 9% of  my daily requirements for Iron, Calcium, Zinc, and Vitamin E, respectively.  These four vitamins and minerals are the only ones that I have trouble meeting when I track my food in cronometer.  More on this later.

The trick to a delicious parsley salad is to create a really fine texture.  Last night, I used my handy food processor to chop two bunches of curly parsley.

Then add some finely diced veggies – I used red bell pepper and cucumber.  Balance out the tartness of lemon juice with the sweetness of raisins, the creaminess of pine nuts, and the sharpness of shallots.  Sprinkle on some freshly ground pepper and dulse flakes and you’re set.

English: Tofu scramble (vegan)

I’m sick and tired of hearing the following comments about my diet.  The funny thing is that every time someone says one of these statements, they think they are being so original!

1. It’s bland.  Think about it.  When you cook a chicken breast, do you just eat it plain?  Or do you season it with spices, herbs, or condiments?  I’m willing to bet that over 90% of the seasoning agents you use are plant-based.  Flavor doesn’t come from animal foods – it comes from plants!  And these same spices, herbs, and condiments can be applied to plant foods.  Think of all the different types of flavorful ethnic foods.  Mediterranean, Indian, and Thai food all have plenty of vegan or vegan-compatible choices.  Continue Reading »

Advanced Hatha Yoga Video Cobra Pose - Bhujang...

Floor Series Tips and Improvements

Savasana.  Tip: become absolutely still even if you are not perfectly aligned or have an itch.  No fidgeting no matter what.  Improvement: I am now able to sink into the stillness.  I’m still working on my wandering monkey mind, though.

Wind Removing.  I haven’t made much improvement with this one to date.  This is one of the harder poses for me, especially getting both arms wrapped around both knees.  I guess each person has their own individual strengths and weaknesses, no matter how strange they seem.

Sit Up.  Tip: Keep your feet flexed on the ground, your arms in line with your ears, and your stomach sucked in.  Improvement: I’m working on keeping my stomach in on all the forward bend poses.

Cobra.  Tip: keep your knees together, butt squeezed, legs tight.  Tightening your lower body will give your upper body more lift. Continue Reading »

Manduka Equa Towel for Bikram yoga class

30 Day Challenge: COMPLETE.

So, now that my 30 days of Bikram yoga classes is complete, I wanted to do a synopsis of the little hints I discovered about each pose that helped me improve.  These tips come from various teachers, from Bikram Choudhury’s book Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class, and sometimes even from parts of the dialogue that I finally understood.

First, the best thing about the challenge is that with doing yoga so often, you end up improving so much faster.  If I learn to keep my hips down or redistribute the weight in my foot for a certain pose, I have seven days that week to practice it.  Also, the flexibility and strength in class improves so much faster than a typical 3-day a week approach.

Improvements and Tips

Pranayama Deep Breathing.  Tip: push your chin with your hands as you exhale and hands with your chin as you inhale.  Improvement: my elbows go up farther (I started off pretty sad and now I’m average). Continue Reading »