‘Tis the season… 

Stuffy noses, coughs, and sneezes, oh my! I am very aware of cold season because the snot factor in my classroom increases exponentially. Sorry for that visual. So, I am being proactive this year! Yogi tea, healing soup, and neti-potting have already started at my house and I’m very hopeful that this year I won’t catch the kindergarten crud. Here are a few recipes to help warm your soul.

Step 1… 

Yogi tea. This homemade tea straight from Yogi Bhajan himself will help boost your immune system and fight the winter crud. (Original recipe found on the Birmingham Yoga website.)

Ingredients… 

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 30 cloves
  • 30 black peppercorns
  • 30 cardamom pods
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 inch of ginger (or more) thinly sliced
  • 1 tea bag of black tea (leave out if you are sensitive to caffeine or planning to drink at night)
  • *Milk/almond milk or honey to add taste — Milk helps to ease the shock of the spices on the stomach and intestines so drink with milk if you’re sensitive.

Directions… 

  1. Bring water to a boil
  2. Add all spices except the black tea bag. Boil 30-45 minutes. If you want a stronger brew boil longer and add more water as needed.
  3. At the end, add black tea bag and boil another 5 minutes. **The black tea is added last because it amalgamates the spices and seals them. Also the tannins help assimilate the spices into the body.
  4. Add milk and sweetener to an individual cup as you desire. This will allow you to store the raw tea in the fridge and prepare with milk and sweeteners as you like.
  5. If you go cup by cup, you can leave the raw tea on the stove on the lowest flame to enjoy all day.

Step 2… 

Jala neti. Jala Neti is a nasal cleansing technique that rinses the sinuses with warm saline with the aid of a teapot-like vessel called a neti pot. It helps to lubricate and cleanse your nasal passages.

Ingredients…

  • Distilled or previously boiled water
  • non-iodized salt or over the counter mixtures (I use Neil-Med)
  • Neti pot

Directions… 

  1. Pour a cup of warm water (sterilized by boiling the water or purchasing distilled water)into a neti pot.
  2. Add 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized salt (kosher or sea salt or I use over-the-counter mixtures that can be found in the pharmacy section of your grocery store), stirring until it dissolves.
  3. Insert the spout into your left nostril, lean over the sink, and tilt your head slightly to the right so the water flows through the sinus passages and out of the right nostril.
  4. Gently blow your nose and repeat on the other side.

Step 3… 

Healing soup. Adapted from The Clean Eating Mama.

Ingredients… 

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups sweet potato or russet potato (about 1 large potato)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups water or vegetable broth
  • handfuls of herbs on hand: basil, parsley, thyme (if using fresh, chop and add towards the end). I added dried herbs at the beginning and tasted throughout.
  • any fresh vegetables on hand – I used the last little harvest of tomatoes and okra from our garden. What’s more healing than veggies grown in your own back yard?!

Directions… 

  1. In a large heavy bottom pot (or dutch oven), heat on medium and add oil. Let the oil heat for a few minutes. Add copped onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Let cook down for a few minutes until onion is soft. Add remaining vegetables, dried herbs, salt and pepper and let cook down for about 10 minutes or so.
  2. Add liquid of choice (water or vegetable stock) and turn the heat up to high. Bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce heat to medium/low and cover with lid. Stir occasionally. Let cook for an hour or so. You can always add more water if it becomes too thick. For this vegetable soup you want it to be rather brothy because this is where the where the healing magic is!

Happy Fall y’all!

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When this yogi gets sick…

The combination of the weather changing, stress from grad-school midterms, and working with children brought my immune system down. Quick. It would be nice to say that I have an immune system of steel with being a teacher and you know, all the yoga. But I don’t. So here are a few things that help me bounce back almost as quickly as I went down…

FOOD…

Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Soup…

When you’re sick what’s the first thing you think of to eat? Soup. What kind? Chicken noodle soup. But when you’re a vegetarian the thought of chicken noodle soup without the chicken (aka. noodle water) doesn’t sound too appealing. I’ve been making this soup for a few years and it’s definitely my favorite homemade soup. This time of year butternut squash is in season and all over the place! I always buy some as soon as I see it in the store. There’s also just something about making homemade soup that instantly soothes your soul.

creamy vegan butternut squash soup

Ingredients…

  • 1 teaspoon organic expeller pressed canola oil (preferred) or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow onion, diced (about 1 large onion)
  • 4 cups butternut squash, skin removed, roughly diced into 3/4 inch cubes (about 3/4 large squash)
  • 2 1/2 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1 3/4 cup organic apple cider (also easy to find this time of year!)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 star anise (whole)
  • 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill whole grain rolled oats
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup filtered water

Directions…

  1. Warm oil in a large heavy bottom sauce pot or dutch oven over low-medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft and translucent, making sure not to brown.
  2. Add squash, stock, 1 1/4 cup cider, star anise, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10 minutes.
  3. Uncover, remove star anise, add oats, spices, and continue to simmer, covered for another 10 minutes. Or until squash softens and begins to fully dissolve.
  4. Turn off heat. Add water and remaining apple cider and immediately transfer to a large mixing bowl to cool for a few minutes.
  5. Transfer to a strong blender, and blend until creamy smooth. Blend in batches if necessary. Transfer back into sauce pot, add remaining salt (optional) and warm again as desired. Ladle into your favorite bowl and enjoy!
  6. Find the original recipe posting here: Holiday Menu 2011

HOLISTIC HEALTH ROUTINES…

Vitamins, vitamins, vitamins… In pill form my choices are Source Naturals Wellness Formula (2 or 3 a day) and Rainbow Light Women’s One. In powder form I like the Almased Synergy Diet Powder. This powder is packed with protein, and all your essential vitamins: A, C, E, B6, Calcium & iron. This can also be used as a meal replacement shake, but for the purposes of building my immune system, I only use it as a big kick of protein and vitamins.

Jala Neti… Break out your Neti Pot. It’s that time of year. Jala Neti is a nasal cleansing technique that rinses the sinuses with warm saline with the aid of a teapot-like vessel called a neti pot. According to yoga tradition, it equalizes the flow of breath between the nostrils and balances the ida and pingala nadis – the two energy channels that pave the way for inner exploration.

Pour a cup of warm water (sterilized by boiling the water or purchasing distilled water) into a neti pot. Add 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized salt (kosher or sea salt or I use over-the-counter mixtures that can be found in the pharmacy section of your grocery store), stirring until it dissolves. Insert the spout into your left nostril, lean over the sink, and tilt your head slightly to the right so the water flows through the sinus passages and out of the right nostril. Gently blow your nose and repeat on the other side.

Humidify your home… It’s no wonder we get sick in the more often in the winter. When the temperature goes down outdoors so does the moisture level (especially in Sweet Home Alabama), so what do we do? Pump our homes with dry heat. Our sinuses need moisture in the air to keep lubricated and stay healthy. The first thing I try to do is to resist turning on the heat until the last minute. This year, I caved when my little apartment hit 62 degrees. So I turned on my humidifier to keep moisture in the air. Of course, it probably would have helped if I started this before I got sick. Lesson learned.

Hot showers… Same concept as the humidifier. Hot showers generate steam which moisturizes your sinuses and allows you to breathe. They also just feel awesome.

Warm water with lemon… Before you brush your teeth, eat, or drink coffee, mix the juice of half a lemon in a cup of warm water (with an optional pinch of rock salt and 1/2 teaspoon of local honey), and drink up. This drink flushes the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract and stimulates your agni (digestive fire) so you’re ready to metabolize breakfast.

Herbal tea… When my throat hurts all I want are warm liquids. I have a pretty large stockpile of Yogi Tea & Tazo teas. Some with caffeine and some not. Some of my favorites are Awake English Breakfast made by Tazo (I add 1/2 teaspoon of local honey, yum) and Bedtime made by Yogi Tea.

Yogi Tea

Light yoga… And I mean light! No all out, sweaty, twisty, inverted yoga here. Take it easy, your body needs restorative poses when you’re sick. For my spine I lay on my back and do gentle twists and let my legs drop side to side, for my hamstrings I sit up and stretch forward over my legs in paschimottonasana (seated forward bend), for my legs and side-body I put the soles of my feet together in baddha konasana (butterfly) and stretch side to side and forward, and I’ll sit in virasana (hero pose) just because it’s my favorite pose and feels so good on my quads and knees. Think any pose that you could do from your bed… which is where I do all of the above poses! No yoga mat needed.

Happy Fall y’all,

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Fight the Winter Blues {part 2}…

Part 2… because there are so many reasons for holistic health in the winter months! This is a continuation of my previous post: Fight the Winter Blues…

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8. Neti Pot

Benefits: The Neti Pot (nasal irrigation) is a natural way to clear your nasal passages of dust, pollen, and other irritants. The gentle saline solution thins the mucus in your nasal passages allowing it to naturally drain from your nose. (Last year when I had all the sinus problems there were only 2 times that I felt relief… when I was in a hot shower and when I was using the Neti Pot!) Don’t wait until you get a stuffy nose! The Neti Pot can be used year round as wellness maintenance.

How to: Follow instructions on the package. Add distilled water to your Neti Pot and add the saline solution. (Do not use tap water and do not use table salt as your saline solution!) Bring the Neti Pot to one nostril and tilt your head. Keep your mouth open and let the water drain out of the other nostril. Repeat with the other nostril. *If you are extremely stuffy you will find that the water will not run out of the other nostril. Ayruvedic doctors would probably slap me on the hand, but I use a little force to help it through by using this Neti Pot when I’m extremely stuffy. Regular Neti Pots rely solely on gravity to push the solution through, with this one you squeeze the bottle giving it a little extra push.

Where to buy: Can be found in the Pharmacy/Wellness section of your local grocery store. I get mine at Publix.

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9. Sleep with a humidifier

Benefits: Have you ever wondered why there are certain illnesses that go along with winter? Winter is the cold and flu season because of the change in weather. Germs and viruses cannot live long (outside the body) in a humid climate, so when the weather changes and the air is far less humid, you have a greater chance of getting sick. Fight this by using a humidifier at home. Sleeping with a humidifier will put moisture back into the air soothing your dry skin, stuffy nose, and helping to kill germs and viruses that you’ve brought home with you. (This information makes me want to put a humidifier in my preschool classroom!)

Where to buy: Can be found at any store with a Wellness section (pharmacies, grocery stores, etc.)

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10. Nasya Oil (Eucalyptus oil, also seen below in Herbs)

Benefits: Main ingredient: Eucalyptus oil.  In the winter your nasal passages are dry out and it becomes even worse when you blow your nose constantly. Nasya oil lubricates nasal passages, helps decongest the sinuses, and even promotes mental clarity. Nasya oil is great for head colds.

How to: Follow the directions on the bottle. Hold you head back and drop 1-3 drops into each nostril and sniff lightly. If you don’t want to drop it directly into your nose you can add a few drops to a tissue and hold it up to your nose and breathe deeply.

Where to buy: Check your local health food store (such as Whole Foods or Golden Temple). If you can’t find it in the store you can order online via Banyan Botanicals.

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11. Herbs (Echinacea, Elderberry, Goldenseal, Elderflower, Ginger, Slippery Elm, Thyme, Astragalus, Eucalyptus, Eleuthero, Mullein, Tulsi, Yin Chiao, Sage, & Licorice.)

Benefits: Herbs can ease coughs, congestion and sore throats, and some may help prevent illness all together. The naturally occurring qualities in herbs have been used for centuries to prevent illness.

How to: View the sites below (listed under “other awesome info”) for a “how to” on each herb. Yes, herbs are time consuming. But remember, you can also drink herbal teas to get these herbal benefits! I love the Yogi Tea brand.

Where to buy: Try to find a local herbal vendor in your area. Also, check out the natural/health food stores in your area. If you cannot find these herbs locally you can order online from these sites: Jean’s Greens &/or Mountain Rose Herbs.

Other awesome info: Visit this site to see how to make your own Tincture: Make your own winter remedies. And visit this site to see each herb, it’s benefits, and how to consume: 15 Natural Remedies for the Winter Season.

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Happy & healthy winter (once again!)