Vegan Moussaka!

Vegan Moussaka IMG_2361

This is a fantastic recipe, given to me by a vegan friend, that is not only delightful in and of itself, but for meat craving individuals, it’s a fantastic transition dish that many, if not told, would not know that it did not contain any meat or cheese in the dish.  My husband is a trained executive chef and is an omnivore.  I doubt he will ever give up meat, but I do my best to make yummies that do not include meat and dairy as it is a kindness to the creatures.  I’ve understood for some time now that our meat consumption wasnt sustainable and encouraged folks to eat meat 2x week or even 2 x a month if possible.  We always bought organic and not off factory farms believing the animals were treated better.  Not up until very recently, was I clued in that this really isn’t true.    For dairy, the mother cows are repeatedly impregnated against their will, to produce milk for us.  Their babies are taken away at birth and given powdered milk during their short sad lives.  Cows are very social and create strong bonds with their offspring who typically remain with them for years.  So I thought I would always eat cheese…but I cannot cause this level of harm and feel good about myself.

And the meat, well, even in the best case scenario, which is honestly few and very far between, we are taking a life that truly honestly really wants to live.  They know what is happening, they shed tears, they feel upset, they feel fear.  They also feel such joy when treated well and allowed to live a happy existence with us.

To this end and that of our health (of our bodies, our souls and the planet) I bring you this delightful dish!  Enjoy!

I did modify the recipe a tad.  I used corn starch for the bechamel sauce as I did not have potato starch.  We couldn’t find smoked Tofu so I used Trader Joe’s Beef-Less Ground Beef.  The texture of this product isn’t bad and it does look like the real thing.  This product, by the way, is also terrific in tacos.  If you don’t have a TJ nearby, this product, the Ultimate Beefless Ground,  by Gardien is good.

For the spices, as this is typically a lamb dish, I used Rogan Josh which is a persian spice mix.  The above link is less expensive, but there is also one from Penzys Spices, which is actually the one I used for the dish above, which is $13.23 and free shipping.  But the other sounds great and is only $9.65 including the shipping.   I post links in here to save you time and also money.  I try to locate the highest quality and best price on Amazon prior to posting.  🙂  I adore this spice mix which has Cumin, Coriander, Cardamom, Cloves, Saffron and Cinnamon amongst other spices in it.   The flavor profile of this spice mix just raises the dish to a new level and I sauteed my garlic and onions till almost caramelized, then I sauteed the spices to amp up that delightful flavour!

VEGAN MOUSSAKA

Serves: 6

INGREDIENTS

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 (28-ounces) can plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 12 ounces smoked tofu (firm)
  • ⅛ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅛ ground black pepper
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper

Eggplant

  • 3 medium-size eggplants
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Bechamel

  • 2 and ½ cups almond milk
  • 2 tbsp potato starch
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Drain the tomatoes into a bowl. Keep the juice.
  2. Cut the plum tomatoes into small pieces and add to a skillet with their juice.
  3. Heat over medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in tomato paste, maple syrup, salt, pepper and cinnamon and remove from heat.
  5. Wash and cut the eggplants into 1-inch think slices, brush slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Fry slices until tender and golden brown on both sides in a large non-stick skillet over medium-heat. Depending on your skillet you can probably fry about 5-6 slices at a time.
  6. Transfer the eggplant slices to paper towels.
  7. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook until soft, about 7 minutes. Scramble the smoked tofu and add to the skillet, cook for about 5 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, mix until everything is combined and remove from heat.
  8. Preheat oven to 400°.
  9. Arrange a layer of half the eggplant slices in a greased baking dish (I used a 10-by-6 inch pan). Cover with the tomato/tofu sauce. Top with another layer of the remaining eggplant slices.
  10. Pour the bechamel over the top and spread evenly.
  11. Bake 25-30 minutes until top is golden brown.
  12. Top with chopped parsley.

For the bechamel

  1. Add ½ cup almond milk to a medium sauce pan. Mix in the potato starch, (or Corn Starch), nutritional yeast, salt and nutmeg. Whisk until everything is well combined and add the remaining milk. Heat over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, whisking constantly until it thickens. Remove from heat.

 

Home Made Vegan Milk – Nut Milks – So Easy!

A few decades ago, people were farmers (or knew a farmer) and folks grew their own produce, lived off the land and traded items for what they needed, perhaps an over abundance of Cilantro was traded for carrots.

The machine would like us to believe in the grocery store, lock, stock and barrel.  While a grocery store is both convenient and necessary for many of us city folk.  I grew a garden this year but it was not large enough to encompass feeding our family entirely.

So while we want to remain thankful for conveniences a grocer brings us, let’s also seek out local farmers where we can buy directly, too.  The reason is because things like milk, orange juice,  get pasteurized.

When you heat up things as you do to pasteurize it, you may very well kill a bug or two but you are also stripping the product of its natural enzymes.  I wont call it carcinogenic, but I will call it severely lacking in the natural enzymes and minerals and vitamins it should have provided you.

The Almond milk you buy at the store is pasteurized.  The flavor is also thin.  And, who knows, really, just how many almonds you are getting in that milk.  I bought for years but after my Hippocrates Health Institute Life Transformation Training, I now make my own.  And its so super easy, there is little excuse for you not to follow suit!

Firstly you should get a nut milk sack/bag.  I dont know about you and I sure don’t mean to offend, but the ones I purchased, My Big Fat Nut (Milk) Sacks, offered a bit of humour to the process, as well as being a fantastic product.  You want a bag that is easy to clean, roomy enough to hold all the milk and easy enough to squeeze the milk out to separate the nut bits from the milk produced.  So start here and if you click on the blue writing, it will take you right there to purchase.

The best nuts to make the milks is Almond and, for something heavier, great in tea and coffee, Brazil Nuts!

So, when I began making my nut milks at home, I had only ever tried store bought Almond and in my training they spoke of Brazil Nut Milk being so much richer.  I went straight to making Brazil Nut Milk only.  But I did buy a passel of raw almonds and eventually ventured into giving that a go too because of a recipe that called for it.  Well, let me tell you, this is when I discovered that, OMG, the almond milk you are going to make at home is on a whole new level than the store bought in texture and flavour.

How To?  Firstly, keep in mind that things that do not have the life cooked out of them, actually have a life that can more readily spoil.  So get in touch with how much milk you are going to consume within about 5-7 days.  Only make enough to use within that time-frame so your milk remains nice and fresh in the fridge.

Step 1) Soak your nuts overnight. (I typically soak a cup of nuts for 3-4 cups of of milk and you can stretch that out or inward depending upon the depth of milk you want to create so feel free to play with that flavor texture profile.)

Step 2) The following morning after your nuts have soaked, rinse them and dump them into your blender.  Add purified water to the level you desire.  Blend for a few seconds, until you see milk and the nuts are good and pulverized into tiny bits.

Step 3) Pour the milk from the blender into your nut sack that is sitting in a big bowl.

Step 4) Squeeze the bloody hell outta the sack to get all the milk drained from it.

Step 5) Now pour the milk into a vessel you will use to store it in your fridge and enjoy!

For the pulverized nut bits, you can use that roughage to make crackers or add to a meat loaf (vegan meat loaf is animal friendly)  Or compost it.

As always, I am here to answer any questions or read any comments you post.  Cheers to your health, enjoy!

Health and Budget – The Holistic Approach to Daily Finances

Most everyone has experienced a situation which has left you financially bereft; a divorce, major illness or loss of employment.  This will not address crisis situations, at least not directly.  Rather this is about daily budgeting and how failing to do it robs a lot of positive energy/good Karma from you life.
Making Time to Pay Bills – Late Paying/Always Behind? – It begins by loving and respecting yourself enough to budget and take the necessary steps to take care of you. Not only does paying things on time lower the cost of doing business and therefore the cost of living, when you come from a position of strength, when your house is in order, then you have more opportunity to be of help to others, to pay all that goodness forward!

Debt Stress –  Owing money can be quite stressful, particularly if a deadline is looming and you didn’t plan ahead and budget for the expense.  Opportunities, from getting a fantastic job, an apartment, the very best interest rates or simply being able to buy something you really want, are all significantly affected by whether you pay bills on time. Paying bills late actually has a big impact on health.  Our minds never truly stop turning over what we have left to finish.  Completing tasks, clearing your to do list, getting your financial house in order and reducing clutter in your life, increase ease in the mind and provide fresh positive energy.  Setting and adhering to a healthy budget, allows you to be in control.  Let this clean slate free you up mentally.

Getting Your Head Into It – While sitting down to pay bills may feel more like bending over and begging other people and organizations to please take all your money, there is a spiritual component to consciously engaging and putting positive energy into paying what is owed. With debts no longer hanging over your head you can move forward with new energy that can be devoted to other things.

Budget? What Budget? –  Most of us make enough to cover our needs and some of our wants.  Then once we have them met, suddenly our needs and wants expand farther, stretching our budget to the max.   Ads to buy this or that are all over the place.  You cannot create inner peace or fill a lack of joy inside you with something you shop for.  I think a lot of times when we feel the need to shop, it is because we have lost our way, need to stop, breath, get out in nature and ask our heart what it is we truly want.   Sometimes we must simply say no to the advertisements and honor ourselves and the spirit of money.  You never have to keep up with the Jones’s, you only ever need to keep up with yourself.

Debt – Whether you are current on your bills or way behind, most of us have some debt. For long term debts, such as credit cards, and personal loans, many folks like to pay the highest interest rate debt off first.  For creating cash flow and realizing faster results, I suggest paying off your smallest debt first, followed by your next smallest, etc. Meet the minimums on everything else, but pay as much extra each month toward the debt you are wanting to pay off, as you can, until it is done.   It is surprising how fast the goals can be accomplished and the feeling is just amazing.   All of us owe rent or a mortgage or taxes on property.  Debts never stop until we do. And having a few debts, especially what is considered ‘smart debt’ such as a home, a rental property or perhaps a degree, is not exactly a bad thing.
The goal here is to create the most cash flow, and as quickly as possible, for your health, peace of mind, and feeling of abundance.  When we feel stuck, we don’t feel abundant. We can feel stuck when we have so much debt that we are afraid to scale back or pursue a dream.  Having a nest egg saved, all bills current and cash left over at the end of every month, generates a feeling of potential and opportunities.  Rather than bemoan fate, understand that firstly, by predominately your own choices, you are where you are right now.  Take a healthier view and look at it like housekeeping, as something that is a part of life, something we all must do.  Doing this will leave you feeling lighter, accomplished, clean and happier!  The end resulting cash flow will empower you.

Live Abundantly! – True abundance isn’t about wealth, but about how well, how balanced and how peacefully you live. Honestly, I love it when people say Time is Money because it sure is!  I feel richest when I have the most spare time.  No matter how much I am earning, if I am putting in 16 hour days, a part of me feels decidedly poor.  When you live below your means, saving regularly, you will find there is less you really want to fill your life up with.  You will become more selective in what you spend your time on and what you purchase.  You will gain significant confidence as your savings grow and your cash flow improves.  Living abundantly is also about maintaining a true work and life balance where you have some life left at the end of the work day.  Since scaling back my long work hours, I have vastly more time to engage in other more calm pursuits, such as yoga, walks, cooking, baking, spending more time with my family and not feeling so rushed in everything I do.  That, my friends, is abundance!

Create Your Savings – Owing money is a psychological drain. Again, having some debt is ok.  And most of us will always have monthly bills (gas, food, heat).  Just keep in mind that when you take on significant debt, what you owe also holds you in place.  I have been so in debt I could not leave a job where hours were insane and ruining my health.  I have watched retirement aged folks keep working because they have too much debt to stop.  Debt can equal fear and when we act out of fear based feelings, no good really comes of it.  The best approach is to create monthly cash flow, by slowly taking control of debt.  Catch yourself up, regularly save for both long term/retirement and emergency/short term concerns, which you place in a separate account.  Separate accounts are great because you can mentally designate what is put away and what can be used now to pay bills etc.

At my house, we have several accounts; a Monthly Expenses Account, a Fun/Vacation Account, a Long Term Savings Account, and a Short Term Savings Account for emergencies or higher than expected monthly bills.  I try hard to pretend the savings accounts don’t exist unless its time to use them.  We have direct deposit and that really is the absolute best way to do this if you can. Otherwise, you are physically making deposits manually every month and it can get tempting to change the amounts or just not do it.   IF you must do this manually, take heart and just make it happen, regularly because again, you are paying yourself first.  All greatness flows from first respecting and taking care of yourself.

Wheat Grass – How To Grow The Best

Loved it, hated it?  My husband is really fine with the flavor.  Me?  Gag, not so much. Even with these adorable skull glasses, I am still nonplussed with the flavor.  No, I realize how freaking healthy it is to do, how the mineral content can even change gray hair back to your natural colour, so I force myself to shoot it down.  Because it is so detoxing and works quickly, some people can feel a bit nauseated after a shot of the magic green.  I feel fine after getting it down….it’s the getting it down I struggle personally with.  With my Hippocrates Training I learned a few secrets lately to help get the best mineral and vitamin content as well as the best (ahem) flavor.

Growing your own wheat grass is going to be, by far, the least cost and the freshest.  One way is with organic soil in a 10×10 Tray with 1 cup of wheat grass and about 1/2 inch of soil.  After 3 days of soaking and rinsing them, it take about 7 days for the grass to be ready.  If you go this route, with soil, you will find that most of it gets absorbed by the plant so its really not as messy a process as what I was initially envisioning when I decided to go hydroponic.

I use the Prodyne appetizer tray to grow my Wheat Grass.  This system can also be used for Mung beans and Sunflower sprouts.  For the mineral content, I use SeaCal fertilizer in my water mixture as I am not using any soil.  You should get about 4-6 shots out of this method depending upon how much wheat grass seed you lay down. This may mean that you, as I did, purchase 3 or 4 appetizer trays so you always have a rotation going.  You will have the best results using just one layer so I began using 2 cups, per tray, but now I have less yield, less dense but better overall results with 1 or 1.5 cups of seed.  NEVER place ANY sprouts you are doing in direct sunlight.  For Wheat Grass, it will turn bitter and that absolutely isn’t good for anybody (Think bitter beer face).

Instructions as follows:

Step 1 – Germinating the seeds
Day 1 Rinse seeds and place in container, cover with 3xH20 and soak 12 hours.
Day 2 Drain and rinse and soak another 12 hours.
Day 3 Drain rinse and soak a third time 12 hours.
The seeds expand which helps germination, hastening sprouting and minimizing mold.
Day 4 Drain and rinse a final time.

Step 2 – Line the bottom of your tray with paper towels (you can cut them to size) This helps to keep them from falling through the tray vent holes.
Step 3 – Lay down your layer of soaked seeds.
Step 4 – Fill the appetizer dish with water
Step 5 – Spray them morning and evening with water.  I like to add a 1/4 tsp of baking soda which helps inhibit mold.  If you do end up with a bit of mold on the root system, that can be rinsed off.  You are cutting above the root line anyway.

I like to add just a bit of water to my appetizer tray at the beginning, then toss it and renew with the vitamin water (adding the SeaCal)

In a few days, you will see a green blade appearing.  In about 7 days (after placing in the tray) you should see the joint or where there is the very beginning of a new leaf coming up after the first original blade.  NOW is time to harvest, the grass is at its peak.

So the key things are 1) Never direct sunlight.  Your kitchen counter is perfect. 2) Spray 2x a day 3)You want it to be the very freshest which means growing it yourself is best and finally 4) Harvest at the beginning of the joint, once you see that 2nd blade begin to pop up, harvest the entire tray!  Keep it in a bag in the fridge, keeps for a week or get a green grow bag for nearly double the life.

Let me know please if I can help answer any questions too.  When I first began this journey I had a plethora of them and am still learning as I go along.  Cheers!

How to Clean the iPlant Sprouter!


Hi. I posted a review on the iPlant Garden Sprouter a while back.  Recently someone asked questions about the screens, how to clean, grow etc.  So here is a post just about that.  As many of you know, I am learning a vegan diet based upon the Hippocrates Health Institute training I am currently taking, which advocates 50% of your meals be sprouts. So I am learning best ways and am serious about growing them the best and easiest way possible.

Before you put any sprouts in your iplant, soak them over night. This will help them germinate and grow faster.  Fill your iPlant water area between the min and max line and check it every day.  You can even mix about 1/4 tsp of baking soda into the water container which will help ward off any mold build up.  At least every 24 hours, the water should be changed out.  Use the old water to hydrate your garden patio or house plants, it’s great for that!

I have been sprouting daily since March using a double decker iPlant and my screens are still in good shape.  I have also been careful with them.  To clean them (and its ok to eat the roots too on the smaller sprouts) I gently pull all the sprouts at harvest (about 7 days) and then I use the spray nozzle in my kitchen sink faucet along with a soft veggie scrubber or nail scrubber, to gently get all the remaining sprout material off the screen. The screens will naturally darken a bit from the bright white and when they do, I soak them in hot water with a bit of bleach, couple of tablespoons of bleach to enough water to completely submerge the trays and I leave them to soak a while.

Now, as I am in very heavy rotation, I have also ordered extra trays, too. You will want to thoroughly clean your iPlant machine after each use but I will admit I typically just wipe mine down well with a complete cleaning once a month.

As we take this journey together, I am here for you so feel free to reach out with any compliments or questions you have please.  🙂  Namaste.

EPIC FAIL & Health Effects

Image result for cat napping on laptop

OOOPS!  
Whether you crashed before getting the job done, as my cat Tiger did here in this photo, or knocked it all out beautifully but still didn’t get credit, we’ve all been there.  You feel like you failed and not just yourself but everybody else involved in your life perhaps.  How do you climb back out of the doldrums?  A friend reached out to me earlier because they were just fired after working diligently for the last 6 years. Whether you lost a client, lost a project or lost your job, it sucks to be you right now. But please understand this is temporary and you are going to move onward and upward to something far better!  It’s just time for some re-tooling.

An Opportunity in Failing
Whatever your fail, know that failing provides us new growth opportunities.  Find some quiet time to sort through what happened and your part in what took place.  Taking ownership for any actions on your part that landed you in the fail zone just helps you learn and do better next time.  If you look back and see that you did everything flawlessly but still things went awry, then you are just in the wrong situation.  Perhaps a change of people, circumstances or organizations is in order.

Minimize Drama
Drama can be very addictive.  Before long, you just live drama and believe it’s normal but it is not.  What is normal is peace at your center.  Daily, we tell others how we want to be treated by what we accept.  Who you were last year, last week or even last minute may not be who you are right now because we all have that amazing power to grow and change.  We may not control others, but we sure can control how we think, feel and act.  And we can reset our boundaries that range anyplace from what we work for on an hourly basis to who is at the forefront of our lives, who sits balcony row and who is curbside.

Take Control of Chaos
The first step to minimizing drama is reducing chaos.  Clear clutter, clean your home, your car out, maintain your stuff.  When you look around at a clean car, a clean home with things you love that are clearly well cared for, that has a strong impact on you and that impact hits every time you cross the threshold, grab a drink and sit on the sofa.  Make your spaces inviting to you. This conveys pride in a healthy way and will help boost your self-worth if that is flagging.

Finding Your Super Power
Analyze the past for wins and losses but don’t get too hung up on your history of fails. Instead, try to focus on your history of wins.  What are the intrinsic qualities you possess that became the catalyst in all of these successes?  I’ll give you an example from my life.  I have a tenacity coupled with a strong grasp of what is right and what is wrong or fairness.  I once accepted a position that turned out to be very different than what I thought.  I quickly realized that, no, actually I did not have the knowledge base I truly thought I had to be in the position I now found myself in.  I called upon my super powers.  In spite of fear, not knowing the buzzwords, the work, the tools, I was tenacious and I had a strong desire to get it done for my client and get it done right and timely.  I wowed management, and most importantly, the customer, and I learned a whole lot.

Reallocating Your Super Power
So now that you know what your super power is or super powers are, looks for ways you can take those skills and re-apply them elsewhere in your life for a win.

Mentors and Good People
Surround yourself with people who care about you and are a positive influence.  When you have suffered a failure, the last thing you need is a Debbie Downer telling you how life is cruel.  True, life is a mean thang sometimes, to be sure, but it is also filled to the brim with glorious fabulousness.  Hanging with the right crowd will help you bounce back faster.

Job Loss Help – If you’ve recently been laid off or fired, I’ve included  helpful links below but while you sort through all of the stages of grief, and some all over the map feelings, know that there are reasons for everything, even if we don’t yet know why they happened.

http://lifehacker.com/the-five-stages-of-grief-after-losing-a-job-1725201444

http://lifehacker.com/nine-things-you-should-and-shouldnt-do-if-you-lose-you-509536697

Growing Sprouts at home and iPlant Review Eat Sprouts for Amazing health benefits!

Pictured above, is the iPlant sprouter. This link takes you to the 2 tier but you can get a single deck if you like,  here is the quick link to that:1-tier iPlant.  For the same square footage taken up in the kitchen, I prefered to go virtical and have options to grow more at once and more variety too.   Sprouts are an abundant source of vitamins, minerals, oxygen and protein. I recently learned that we need to eat our oxygen not just breath it. Living foods, such as sprouts, are abundant with it! With our factory farming methods and soil erosion, sprouts should be a good part of your diet these days and with so many seed blends available, they are tasty and easy peasy.

Converting to a plant based diet, I find sprouts to be expensive and hard to find at the store because I can make a salad that uses an entire bunch at a time.  So I researched and found the very best way to grow them in my kitchen and am very excited to share this with you!  Rather than jars or planting them in soil which would both require more effort from me when I am really busy with other projects, I wanted something simple where I would not need to keep monitoring them, spraying them throughout the day etc. En voila, I located the iPlant. Click on the iPlant picture to take you to Amazon, the best place, best price to buy it!

The iPlant comes in colour choices, so for fun, I got the hot orange.  But you can go green or mod white if you prefer.  Set up is so easy.  Your iPlant will come either double decker or single deck depending on how you order it. Each deck has 2 seed trays so a double decker will give you a total of 4 trays and that also means you have 4 growing options too.  Maybe you want a mix of seeds in one tray, just broccoli sprouts in another tray, spicy Radish seeds for another, then this set up provides you this flexibility.  If you plan to be a sproutaholic, as I am now, you will want to just go ahead and order the double decker and also an extra set of seed trays too, that I ended up ordering a few weeks after getting my iPlant, so that I could keep a constant rotation of sprouts going and not run out.

Because the iPlant is not always available on Amazon, I located a similar and well-rated machine, The Tribest Freshlife 3000, another automated sprouter which is stackable up to 3 tiers!  I have not personally tried this machine out yet so if anyone does, kindly post here how you feel about it to help others out.

Here are the steps to growing:
1) follow all the directions provided but you basically soak your seeds in their trays and overnight is best.
2) Place water between the low and max line in your iPlant.  I typically put just a hair over the minimum in mine at home.
3) After an overnight soak, place the trays into your iPlant, with the water level good and plug it in after you have it all together with the lid on.

The iPlant will periodically water your seedlings and keep the temperature perfect.  Once your seedlings are sprouted and perhaps an inch or 2 or so, take them out, and rinse them very well while they are still in the trays.  Place some paper towels down on your counter and pull the washed sprouts out of the mesh seed tray and pile them onto the paper towels.  Pat them firmly but gently dry and then either put in in a baggie with a paper  towel to shore up moisture or you can buy a hemp sprout bag to store them in.  They last a week in the fridge, use them swiftly for the most benefit and freshness.

And because you will need them if you sprout alot, which you should, here is a link to additional iPlant trays so you can keep the sprout rotation cycle going!

Cleaning the trays – After pulling out the sprouts, I gently scrub the mesh with a vegetable brush.  I also soak them a while in soapy water and periodically soak them in hot water with a bit of bleach.

A recipe I love, other than of course tossing them into salads, on sandwiches, on top of stir fry’s, is to put a bunch of sprouts in a bowl, toss in a sprinkle of Mirin which is Asian sweet Saki that you can get in the Asian section of most any store, and a sprinkle of toasted Sesame oil.  YUMMO!!!

Feel free to comment here with any question, suggestions on recipes etc.

Sprout on!
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Living Sustainably – Encouragement to go Vegan – Miessence and The Hippocrates Diet

I began my journey thinking primarily of health, the planet, harming animals fewer times, with a burning question about what food really is.  I began preaching organic living 20 years ago because it’s safer. I have been passionate about the purity of what goes in and on my body. What is applied soaks in. But what I have learned so far this year is stunning me and taken my journey to another whole level.

Most of my family has been killed off by cancer. I lost my dad before I was 18.  Mother passed in 2015, a brother in 2014 and currently I have 2 family members who are terminal (a brother and cousin). All of my people were meat eaters, who did not embrace an organic diet. Then I was laid off at my job of 26 years where I was a project manager.  It’s been a perfect storm. With what I knew already, coupled with the deaths of loved ones, and time to study, this solidified my goal of a preemptive strike.  I am asking you to walk with me and then help others take the blinders off that Agribusiness and Corporate America wants to keep tightly in place.  All of us deserve to live our best life, with abundance on all levels.

The Planet – We have harmed her greatly.  We have polluted the air, our water, and soil with the way we do our business, all the chemicals, hormone disruptors, toxins. There seems no end to it. Pesticides, like DDT, began as chemical warfare.  After the war, corporations had surplus and wanted to find a use and profit. We didn’t even know how DDT worked when we began using it as a pesticide spread far and wide on our crops to kill off good and bad bugs and while this toxin was banned decades ago, it is something that will always be here as it takes so very long to break down.  DDT is in all US soils which means it is also in the bones of our beef who dine on grasses. (What cows really eat, they do not actually eat corn and their bodies don’t process corn well at all.  This is a forced cruelty perpetrated by the meat industry to fatten the cows cheaply.)  We no longer rotate crops and rest our soil. Because of this and CAFOS, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, otherwise known as Factory Farms, with our addictions to meat, to beef and the dairy industry, we have soil erosion. It takes 40 bowls of spinach to equal the iron content of 1 bowl of spinach from 1950.  We have depleted our soil of nutrients. If you are buying your lettuce from the grocery store, you should be aware. Because of Corporate choices in the way business was conducted and continues to unfold there is not only less nutrition in our vegetables (although Organic is higher and better) there is no absolute safe haven from toxins. You and I share what is known as a body burden because of this. For those not already vegan, try adopting a more plant based diet where meat and dairy is consumed not more than 2 days a week.  When you do shop, buy local and organic from known farms so you understand the quality and how the animals are treated.  But I encourage a visit.  It can be quite eye opening.  After a long search for the holy grail of animal kindness in the meat and dairy culture, it turned me vegan.

Health – The oil and gas industry, Monsanto and GMO and pesticides all contribute to our body burden, which is the level of toxins our bodies cannot get rid of, that are tucked away someplace in our fat cells, in an attempt by our bodies to continue existence.  Our body is an amazingly resilient self-healing machine, capable of fighting off numerous diseases, even cancer.  Cancer is simply a mutated cell and a healthy body fights it every day.  When our immune system gets tired, the system breaks down and we begin to fail.  It is paramount that we detox daily, exercise to flush out toxic waste and minimize the chemicals we put in and on our bodies.

Food – Many animals are taught by their elders how to hunt and what is food to them.  Otherwise, they would not know.  This accounts for why some Whale Pods will either prey on fishes or marine mammals, but not both.  Some even kill moose and sea birds. These skills are taught by the parents and become the pods culture that is passed on to the next generation.   We are a product of our environment and how we were raised.  I recently met a vegan who had been raised in the vegan lifestyle.  He had never tasted meat.  I was a bit envious that I had not been raised similarly.  I remember my family giving me treats for eating my meat, which I did not want to consume as a small child.  It turns out, I was onto something.  What is food to us is by our culture.  But our bodies are set up, from our teeth, our jaw design, down to our digestive tract, to eat plants, vegetables.   I advocate growing your own organic vegetables and herbs wherever possible. This can be on a patio or a window sill.  Buy organic when you shop.  Every day we support companies and their decisions, with our dollars.

Harming Animals – Everyone can google search these days, so go do that.  It is shocking how we treat our food.  I always had felt our food should be honored and kept safe from harm, both plant and animal.  Films like Food Inc. were eye openers for me and fueled my drive toward organic farms.  Factory farming methods are the most inhumane of the bunch and should absolutely be shunned. To buy from them, perpetuates untold suffering for both them and us, as we consume that unhealthy, unsanitary meat and dairy.  There are many things I could say here and all of them would turn your stomach.  I leave you to your google searches where folks have worked undercover at these places and provided snapshots of what takes place.

Is there a kinder killing?  The flat answer is that we are taking animals with their own thoughts, goals and awareness, who do not want to die, who see their buddies go before them, are so scared, want out, badly, but cannot do anything but march forward.  I watched a cow desperately try to walk backwards, turn around, get away from death, before finally bowing his head in despair to the reality that he was next.  Even organic meat is not in our best interest health wise.  Meats and animal fat hold the highest levels of toxins.  When we eat animals we consume those chemicals too.  The truth is that we don’t have to consume meat to live a robust and healthy life and doing so is actually shortening our life and putting us in the clutches of heart disease, high cholesterol and cancer.  I urge you toward a compassionate diet, one that will extend your vitality and years of great health.

The Hippocrates Diet – The Hippocrates Health Institute (HHI) is a vegan diet, with at least 80% of consumed foods being raw. If you are healthy, 20% may be cooked.  Enzymes and oxygen are in all raw food.  Yes you actually eat oxygen, not just breath it! Vitamins require Oxygen and Enzymes for utilization. Cooked food is depleted of Oxygen and enzymes.  Digestion is the #1 thing.  If you lack enzymes from your food, your body will borrow it from other places (not good).  Due to soil erosion, and the toxins in our environment, there is a huge focus on sprouts and wheatgrass juicing.

Alternative Lifestyle Consultant- What I do is help clients shift to a vegan or more plant based diet.  I help them with best products, juicer, sprouters, blenders, food processors, to set their kitchen up with to make it easy as possible.  I realize that a lot of us travel or for other reasons, may not be able to sprout their foods on a consistent basis.  This is why I became an independent rep for Miessence.

Miessence – Body Tonics & Skincare/Body care – It is vital that what we apply on our skin be pure, be free of pesticides and other toxins.  The way we guarantee this is by buying organic.  Fantastic skincare you can feel good about is just the beginning.  The superfoods, what I call Body Tonics, are great for on the go, or for those folks who cannot sprout their wheatgrass at home on a regular basis.  Cancer doesn’t like an alkalized environment.  Deep Green alkalizes our body with algae and grasses. Probiotics increase the body’s enzyme production.  And Antioxidants help us repair and fight off daily onslaughts from the air we breath, the water we drink (get a purifier) and the (organic) foods we eat.

No matter how cleanly you choose to live, you need to daily detox because the body burden is there. It takes a full 7 years of this diet to eradicate most of the body burden.  Some of it is always going to be with you, but I encourage you to take steps now toward a brighter, enlivened future!

Suzanne O’Brien – PureTemple Ph 214-334-8517

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Shut Your Mouth! Gum & Teeth Health

Things that alkalize your body don’t always alkalize your mouth, for example lemons.  Adding lime or lemon to water creates a refreshing alkalizing water, great for your body, but not great for protecting the teeth.  The healthy mouth is continuously producing saliva to help break down foods, clean the teeth from deposits and remineralize and protect your teeth.  Think of your teeth like gears in an engine, you need lubrication to keep them from breaking down.  I read that night time is the hardest time for the teeth and was curious why.  Well, for one, saliva production is reduced.  And if you sleep with your mouth open, you are in trouble right there, not to even touch on grinding.  In a dry mouth, teeth can become severely worn and without a help out from saliva, there is no natural repair.  I read the book Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye, author Ellie Phillips, which had a lot of great information.  I even tried her recommended program for daily oral care. Not all her advise on oral care worked for me.  Firstly, her recommendations include products with questionable ingredients from my place of organic living, reduction of chemicals etc.  Next, they flat out stained my teeth and I believe mostly due to the fluoride.  I say this because I used to use a prescription fluoride on my teeth and for years experienced ‘heavy coffee drinker’ staining.  Even though I didn’t drink coffee, had perhaps a daily cup of tea, coffee perhaps once or twice a month.  Once I kicked the fluoride curbside, my hygienist suddenly stopped complaining about ‘heavy stain’ and instead complimented me on how clean and free of stain my mouth was.  Now suddenly I was back to complaints about heavy stain.  So here are my tips on taking care of your mouth.  Oil pulling takes time but works great.  If you floss, be thorough, but very gentle around and in between your gums.  Before you brush your teeth, rinse with water to alkalize your mouth first.  Even better oil pull with organic coconut oil for 20 minutes prior to brushing.  Zellies mints are not bad tasting and contain Xylitol, which is a natural sugar substitute from the birch tree.  You can also buy a bag of it and I did both via Amazon.  Pop the Zellies between meals, after meals to alkalize your mouth and protect your enamel.  You want to shoot for about 6.5 to 10 grams a day of Xylitol for oral benefit.  What I like to do is take a teaspoon in my morning tea and then pop the mints throughout the day till I have hit close to the above number.  Now, at night, for whatever reason, I began sleeping with my mouth open and ended up with dry mouth.  This is bad because you can wear your teeth and erode your gums this way!  Freaked out, I researched a solution to this and it’s medical tape. You can cut a piece of medical tape about a 1/4 inch in length or so and place it just above your upper lip onto the philtrum, over the mouth and secure the tape just below your lower lip. This will help you keep your mouth shut at night but you will still be able to breath or speak if necessary.  With the AC on and the nights my mouth flew open and dried right out (so attractively) where my tongue felt like a freaking caterpillar, this simple thing, taping my mouth, has helped greatly!  I apply lip balm ahead of adhering the tape.

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The Death List – What to do when you are responsible for taking care of a loved ones final earthly issues

I’ve had the unfortunate experience of losing a brother in 2014 and my mother in 2015.  As a friend put it, ‘Let me know if you need anything, but I guess you’re pretty much an expert at it now…not that you wanted to be an expert at this.’   When you are in agony over loss, having a checklist helps.  This list helped me greatly so passing it on.

Prior to Death
Bank – Add your name to the checking/savings account. Ideally, ahead of time, get your name added as a cosigner on their bank account.  This is much easier than setting up an account after death in which to receive checks and make final payments and simply makes paying for things, closing final business as well as closing the account later far easier.  Everyone should have a plan because we don’t live forever and things happen.  Planning ahead is an act of kindness.

Monthly Bills – If you don’t already know, get acquainted with who they have phone, gas, electric services with.  For my brother and mother, I set up online access to pay bills and view their accounts so I would suggest getting user and passwords ahead of time to simplify.

Credit Cards and Debts – You are NOT responsible to pay off credit cards of the deceased unless you are a spouse.
IF you are on any credit card accounts, after you handle any final business such as getting the card cancelled, have the rep you speak with remove your name as a final item.  Once your name is removed you can no longer speak on the decedents behalf because you are no longer on the account, but also, you cannot be held responsible for any balance due (except spouse see above).  When mother was very sick under hospice care, we knew she could no longer use her credit cards and took care of closing her credit accounts.  In my mothers situation, she had a ton of bills and no money to pay them, so I alerted all folks and repeatedly, that there was no money to pay off her debts.

Nursing Homes and Medicare – The way this works is that one must qualify for Medicare, get approved for payment and the nursing home gets paid 2 ways.  Firstly, they take all your monthly earnings, all but $40-60.00 in spending money per month (I know, right?).  This is based on all monthly payments your loved one gets direct deposited in their checking account, any VA or SSI or pension payments.  Whether your loved one gets 10k a month or 1k a month, they end up with $40 bucks and the rest goes to the nursing home.  The nursing home told me they wanted me to sign agreement so that they would take payment monthly directly out of mothers account. What I did is write the checks myself for my mother because I did not trust the system and I was very glad I did because the nursing home WOULD have taken mothers final January SSI check and left me stranded to pay the difference!  They said and I quote “We don’t refund money, it is up to the family to deal with paying back the VA or Social Security.’  So, pay it monthly yourself!!!  DO NOT allow a nursing home direct access out of the checking account ever!!!  Secondly the nursing home gets paid via Medicare, once they get all their paperwork in order.  The nursing home mother was in was slow and didn’t bother filing until after her death, even though we’d already moved her back home!  They may try to get you to pay but you do not have any responsibility to pay for nursing home care unless you sign documents that say you do! Read everything and ask questions.

After Death
You will ultimately need a death certificate and this comes from the crematorium or funeral home you use.  It takes time and longer depending on the burial or crematorium you use.  I used Acremation for my brother which was less than a grand, his ashes placed in a nice box and death certificates quickly provided. For my mother, who donated her body, I still have not received her ashes.

1) Funeral choices – There is a wide birth of choice here.  I chose simple, cremation which is what they both wanted, with a simple memorial at our home to honor them.
2) Obit in the paper – I did not announce their deaths in the paper because all their friends were alerted that needed to know but this is a step in the process so putting it in the checklist.
3) Death Certificates –  Order more than you think you will need right up front as this is the cheapest approach.  They get a lot more expensive to order later.  That stated, also understand that most places accept a copy rather than an original so most of us own a printer that copies and scans docs, makes things easy.  Both of my family members lived simply, did not own real estate or have any assets, just bank accounts and credit cards so I ordered 5 each. I still have all originals as I was able to use a copy for everything, just to give you an idea here.

1) Social Security – If your loved one is getting SSI payments, you will want to alert them to the fact your loved one has passed.  Please note that even if your loved one dies at the tail end of the month, if they do not live through the entire month, the money deposited will be taken back!  They don’t care that your brother had a car payment or mortgage due or the very simple fact that bills don’t stop at time of death here.  Send in Death Certificate once available. DO NOT spend that last SSI payment.
2) VA payments – Same as above.
3) Cancel the monthly bills, water electric, gas, phone, cell
4) Get all receipts ready to prep the final taxes.  On this note, I got mixed messages here but what I ultimately found out is this: On the final taxes, if doing electronically, such as via TurboTax, you will be asked the question regarding death.  If doing by hand, or via mail, write the words Deceased along with the decendent’s name, and date of death across the top of the tax return.  You would need to sign the forms as the appointed personal representative of the deceased.
But they died owing money to the IRS
*****Unless you are a spouse, IF the decedent died owing final taxes, and they died leaving nothing to pay off the debts, as my brother and mother both did, then you are not responsible for paying out of your own pocket.  This is per Lane Mullinax CPA.  I was quite nervous as my brother had apparently cashed out a small IRA to pay off personal debts he owed and plain giving money away to people he liked, realizing his death was imminent.  He despised the IRS and paid no taxes on the cash out and thus ended up owing taxes on it.  I was so relieved to know that I was NOT responsible to pay off the IRS on his behalf.
I want to stress that this situation is if the person has no assets, no cash left after bills, no home to sell off etc.  In my brothers case, he left a car payment, medical debts, monthly bills that needed covering.  Although his finances were considerably better than mothers, there were still earthly concerns to address at his passing that evaporated what was left in his checking account from his monthly VA and SSI checks.

A note about body donation – A lot of folks think this is easy peasy lemon squeezy.  I’ll donate my body to science, to a school, it costs my family nothing and at time of death, the family just makes a phone call en voila, my body will be whisked away, all take care of for free and they will get death certs and ashes later.  No, no, not quite.  Mothers body was donated to a school.  I will be kind and not mention them here.  But let me state that yes they finally agreed to take her body after I threatened to go to every retirement home in the vicinity and post a blog to re-educate folks about how the ball gets uncomfortably dropped at time of death.  Here’s why:  Schools and med facilities are always looking for different things.  They may not want your dad’s cancer riddled body because that is of no use to them right now, they have enough bodies with cancer for example.  So while someone may have indeed been ‘Pre-approved and accepted’ that actually is a false message and the school or med facility, at their discretion, may go back on their promise right when you are at your most vulnerable time. If your loved one is in a hospital or nursing home, they MUST be moved immediately!  This means planning ahead.  I was tipped off by my hospice rep that things are kind of ugly with body donations and called ahead, got flack and baracudaed past all of that with threats.  Not a great thing to sort through 11th hour either when one wants to be as calm as possible and be there for their loved one not on the phone arguing about taking the body later!  IF your family member has agreed to donate their body, I would seriously look at other options that fit your situation, ahead of time.
5) On this checklist is yourself, from planning time off for bereavement, PTO time, to also taking time to be alone and with friends and family for support and maybe a trip to the SPA.  Your loved one would want you to be happy and healthy so as much as this time just God awful hurts, do take some time to love and nurture yourself.  Do it for them!
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