Brain health is something that is near and dear to my heart. You see, both my mother and grandmother lived through the slow cognitive decline that eventually robbed them of their memories, their words and eventually their ability to care for themselves. Those of you with loved ones who have dementia or Alzheimer's know what this looks like and feels like. It can be heart wrenching to witness and experience, and it can leave you feeling hopeless and helpless.
Looking back at those stressful days, I can see that it was also a very sweet time. Although there were times when their souls seemed to momentarily vacate their physical bodies, there were also many moments where their spirits shone brighter than ever through their loving eyes. It was a time when I was forced to slow down and be present in the moment. That's probably why some of my happiest memories of both my mom and my grandmother were during these times.
My mom was an artist and seamstress. She spoke, read and wrote three languages fluently. She knitted and crocheted. She was an amazing cook and baker. She gardened, canned and preserved fruits and vegetables that she grew in our garden. In her later years, she "lost interest" in many of those things that she loved so much. The truth is, she was slowly forgetting how to do them, but was also skilled in covering up and compensating.
Today, I often think about the knowledge I've gained about nutrition and brain health and wonder, if I only knew then what I know now, would I have been able to have a greater impact on Mom's health and quality of life? That's why I'm sharing information about an upcoming, free on-line Alzheimer's and Dementia Summit that will take place from July 25th until August 1st. There will be 32 amazing experts sharing information on how to potentially prevent, slow down and even reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer's and dementia while increasing quality of life through the use of integrative medicine and natural remedies.
That picture above is my Mom enjoying her 75th birthday, five years before she passed on to another realm. I'm no longer caring for my mom, but I still have my own brain to care for. I'm determined to have a different outcome than my mom and grandmother had, so I'll definitely be attending the summit. Genetics is only one small piece of our health. There is so much that we can do daily to keep our bodies and minds at their best. It is my goal to maintain the happiest, healthiest brain possible for a long, full, enriched life. I hope you'll join me, and if you really want to tune in, but you're not available to attend the free summit, you can purchase your own copy at the pre-summit price of $59. You'll own all of the expert talks, and you can listen to the audios on your computer or mobile device, read the complete transcripts, have access to additional e-courses and e-books and be able share this important information with family and friends.
My mom was a wonderful cook, and made the most delicious crepes. Over the years I've experimented with making gluten free crepes similar to the ones my mom used to make. This recipe below is full of brain healthy ingredients like buckwheat and sorghum flour. Both of which are higher in protein than wheat flour and tend to cause less inflammation. In fact, buckwheat has anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains anti-oxidants, minerals and brain healthy amino acids like lysine and tryptophan. The amino acid tryptophan can help to decrease stress and anxiety.
The crepes also contain brain healthy coconut oil, and eggs which are rich in protein and choline. Choline is another brain healthy nutrient that is housed in the beautiful sun shiny yolk. It is important to the production of acetylcholine which is essential to nerve communication and motor control. Years ago, we were told not to eat those beautiful yolks and I now have such a hard convincing many of you that they really are healthy.
To make the crepes decadent, I've filled them with a delicious cashew cream and strawberries which are rich in brain healthy anti-oxidants. You can also fill them with any kind of nutbutter, fruit or make them savory and fill with meat and vegetables. Mom used to fill them with fruit and cottage cheese. It is fun to experiment with different fillings until you find your favorites. I hope you enjoy this delicious, brain supporting, gluten free crepe recipe.
Gluten Free Crepes
1/4 cup sweet sorghum flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon flax meal or ground flax seeds
3 tablespoons of milk (almond, rice, coconut, dairy)
Coconut oil or organic butter for greasing the pan
Combine ingredients and whisk until all of the lumps are worked out. Melt a pat of coconut oil or butter in a pan over medium heat. It should be enough to cover the full surface of the pan. Next, add a ladle full of crepe batter. Tilt and Turn the pan so that the batter spreads thinly over the surface. When the edge begins to crisp and the liquid has become solid, give the crepe a flip to brown the second side. This is the fun part. It is all in the wrist. Give that crepe a toss in the air and catch it back in the pan! My mom was a master at this. The trick to making beautiful looking crepes is to wipe the pan with a paper towel after each crepe is cooked and removed from the pan, and then melt a new pat of coconut oil or butter before adding new batter. This keeps the oil from getting too brown and burning. Makes about 4 medium sized crepes.
Fill the crepes with cashew cream and strawberries and roll them up and top with more berries and/or cream.
1 cup raw, unsalted cashews (soaked in water over night)
1 1/2 tablespoons pure organic maple syrup or coconut nectar
1 1/2 tablespoons almond or coconut milk
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of cardamom
Soak a cup of raw, unsalted cashews over night in a bowl of water and drain off the water before preparing the cashew cream. Put all of the ingredients in a food processor or vitamix and blend until it becomes a creamy consistency. The consistency will be similar to almond butter but a little looser.
Are some of these ingredients allergens for you? If they are, and you want information on swapping out ingredients to meet your needs, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com. I'd be happy to help you figure out alternatives.
Have you been experiencing the busyness of the season? Spring is a natural time for movement, awakening, blossoming and growth. This year, in particular, seems to filled with activity. I've had busy work days, fun with family and friends at weddings and birthdays on the weekends and believe it or not, I've been really busy in my night time dream life. I've been feeling so busy that I've been talking about being busy and telling people that I don't have time to get everything done. So, of course, my vibration was attracting more activity and movement. This has left me longing for some quite time, however I've been looking around at all of the things that need to be done and I've been trying to push through them. The more I push, the more I feel resistance. Does this ever happen to you? Well, there is a reason for it.
Today I finally allowed myself some time for quite. I sat on my porch swing, just sitting with the sound of birds chirping in the distance, allowing my mind and body to come to a stop. My body recognized this state of being and felt appreciation for being in the stillness. Many people don't realize this, but stillness is a natural stage of movement, growth and healing. It is a natural part of the earth's cycle.
In the Reiki and Biodynamic Cranio Sacral Therapy work that I do, we use our hands to feel the fluid and energetic movements of the body. During this process, we feel energy move in one direction, then there is a pause also referred to as a "stillness" or "quiescence" and then energy begins to move again. Sometimes this new movement feels like an unwinding, unfolding or a blossoming. Sometimes, the movement is a shift in direction or a movement in a less "frantic" way. When a person's energy is moving only in one direction, things can feel stuck, symptoms like pain, anxiety or depression can take hold. In the case of being busy and not taking time for stillness, we can exhaust ourselves, burn ourselves out or make ourselves sick.
If you've been feeling too busy, overwhelmed or stuck, try taking some time for stillness. Quiet your body. Quiet your mind. Then, take notice of what unfolds and blossoms.
If you find it difficult to be still, check out this blog post, Press Pause, written by one of my colleagues, Yoga Instructor, Janine Murphy. It contains some practical steps for taking pause.
Do You Really Know What's In Your Skin Care Products? When I moved my website, I left behind some of my old blog post. Recently, I was asked if I would would be posting some of my old blogs. I thought this would be a good one for the season. The transition from one season to another often leads us to make changes in our skin care products. Many of us also do a spring cleaning or spring purge around the house. While you do your spring cleaning this year, consider ditching any toxic skin care products and replacing them with healthier alternatives.
Winter and seasonal transitions are always rough on my skin, and my skin care habits have changed drastically over the years. There is a lot that goes into healthy skin- getting enough sleep, diet/having a healthy gut, exercise, and skin care products. Over time, I came to realize that all skin care products are not equal and that all label claims are not true. I think that I started really reading cosmetic ingredient labels around the same time that I began reading food ingredient labels. I was aware that cosmetics contained chemical sounding words but didn’t really take the time to pay attention to those words or what they were or the health concerns that they can contribute to. I think my first shock was reading my mascara label and seeing shellac in the ingredients. Shellac!? Wait a minute. Isn’t shellac put on wood furniture and hardwood floors? Why would I want to put that on my eyes? So that got me thinking about what might be used to take that shellac off of my eyes, and I discovered alcohol in my eye make-up remover along with other big chemical words. I again thought, why am I putting alcohol near my eyes? Actually, alcohol is in a lot of skin care and cosmetic products, and surprisingly, alcohol is in many moisturizing products. I know you are wondering, “Hmmm, I thought alcohol was drying, not moisturizing?” You are correct, and that is one reason why many moisturizing products can still leave your skin feeling dry after they have absorbed into your skin. But shellac & alcohol aren’t the worst things that you can find in your skin care products. Many products contain carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and neurotoxins that get absorbed into your body and can potentially cause imbalance and disease. I know you are wondering, “How can this be? Doesn’t the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate these things?” The FDA does regulate to a degree, but remember, they may not be as finicky about what goes into your products as you might be. There are some organizations out there that are as finicky, and maybe even more finicky than you. They are called the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, www.safecosmetics.org and the Environmental Working Group, www.ewg.org_. There you can look up your products to see if they contain allergens, carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins and dyes.
So now, to end this message on a more positive note, I’ll share one of my skin care tips. It is pure, unrefined coconut oil. The same stuff I use in my kitchen for cooking and baking. I keep a small glass container of it in the bathroom and use it with organic cotton balls to take off my mascara, and I no longer buy the brands that contain shellac and alcohol. I know you are thinking, “Really, Joan, organic cotton balls? Isn’t that overkill? It’s not like you are going to eat those cotton balls.” Cotton is one of the most chemically treated and genetically modified crops. Do you want those chemicals lingering around your eyes? Eyesight is a precious gift, isn’t it? Not only does coconut oil do a good job taking off my mascara, it also moisturizes and it is anti-microbial, which means that it helps to ward off bacteria, fungus and other micro-organisms. I find it to be soothing to the skin around my eyes, especially when it gets dry in the winter. Now, I can’t prove it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it has also been helping me to ward off crow’s feet, those wrinkles that appear at the outer corner of the eyes. Experiment with some coconut oil when you get a chance, and see how your skin looks and feels. If you are in the mood to spring clean your body and your products, take advantage of my detox special that is advertised in Natural Awakenings. You get a 10 day menu, detox recipes and 2 health coaching sessions all for the price of $49. This offer expires 4/31/16.
When I moved my website recently, I left behind my old blog posts. Someone asked if I would be archiving any of them, so I decided to re-post some of my favorites this month. We are close to the 1 year anniversary of this one and it's a good one. I dedicate this re-post to my friend and Yoga Teacher, Janine Murphy, for all of your big, beautiful leaps and exploration of new territory. You are a shining light and inspiration!
How often do you find yourself on the edge of starting something new? A new thought pops into your head, you get really excited about it, and then that voice inside of you talks you out of it. Would you say you do it daily, several times a day, more?
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. I’ve been trying to keep track for myself, how many times a day I get excited about a new thought, idea, food to try, exercise to do, habit to change, etc. and how quickly I can talk myself out of doing that thing. For me, it is usually more than once a day. When I tell people this, they are often surprised. They see me as someone who takes on challenges and tries new things. What they don’t know, is how many times a day I get an exciting thought and I just sit on the fence with it until it blows away in the wind. So what is that all about? Why do we do that?
Recently, my husband and I bought 6 adorable, yellow, fluffy baby chicks, and it has been so much fun watching them grow. We did sit on the fence with this idea for a couple of weeks before taking this big leap. This week, some of the chicks have discovered how to fly up onto the edge of their container that they’ve been housed in. I’ve been surprised to see that once they get up there, they stay there. They can see beyond their container, but they don’t venture out. A couple of times, during the attempt to land on the edge, they’ve missed and landed outside the container. When this happens, they just stand there looking around, not sure where they are or how they got there. If they do move, it is to try to get back into the container with the other chicks. I have a feeling that the next step for them will be to eventually venture out beyond their comfort zone and start exploring more territory, but for now, they are quite happy just teetering on the edge.
So this has me wondering, is this what humans do too? Do we like to sit on the edge and observe new territory before we are comfortable enough to venture out beyond our comfort zone? When we step into new territory, does it feel so foreign that we want to fly back into our comfort zone with our companions who are familiar to us? If we land in this new territory two, three, four times will we eventually be willing to venture out and explore? If we do go exploring, how far will we venture out, before we turn around and come back to our comfort zone? Will we ever venture out so far that our old comfort zone is no longer comfortable when we return to it? What happens if we are taken out of our comfort zone without any warning? Will we adapt and how long will it take?
Here are a few affirmations for you as you teeter on the edge:
Today, I will sit on the edge and observe new territory.
Today, I will venture out beyond my comfort zone.
Today, I will enjoy actively exploring new territory.
Today, I will celebrate spreading my wings and taking flight.
I am so honored to be a part of this event. Janine Murphy will be interviewing 10 wellness professionals during the week of February 23rd, and I'm one of them. You'll gain lots of great tips, insights and wisdom. How do you stay calm during stressful times? Yoga Tools for Daily Living: Staying Stronger, Calmer and Happier Throughout the Day free online event.
Sign up here: http://www.janineyoga.com
I'm a nature loving, garden growing, foodie who loves to eat sweet treats, walk barefoot, snuggle with my dog, discover waterfalls, gaze at the stars,explore my dreams and co-create my own reality.