Making Thanksgiving vegetarian and vegan friendly poses a yearly problem. Lots of classic holiday foods are easy to translate into veg versions, but pie? Check out the 10 Best Vegan Pumpkin Pies for your Holiday Feast!
Learn the basics about the qualities of the different foods that we eat, and how those foods affect us according to Ayurveda. Sattvic food is clarifying, Rajasic food is fiery, and Tamasic food is dull.
It's back to school time! Now, more than ever, it's important to get our (and our kids') minds focused and prepared for a great year of education -- both social and intellectual. We want our brains tuned in and turned on. But doesn't that sometimes feel almost impossible? It's an almost constant battle with brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, stress, ADD, ADHD, insomnia, mood swings, and the like. Now we may not all deal with all of those issues. But most of us deal with at least one . Xena White, our Certified Herbalist on staff, is our guest blogger today. As you'll see, she's super knowledgable and has a solution for every brain health issue under the sun! Be prepared to want all of the herbs . Who knew coffee wasn't the only solution?
Back to School & Brain Health
Alas, another Summer nearly gone.... It's once again time to get focused and back to ze daily grind. The increased demands of new classes and heavier work loads can be challenging, but fear not! Integral Yoga is here to help you maximize your mental potential and enhance your calm. Our health and beauty care department has a wide variety of supplements to get you through the academic storm.
First, some interesting factoids:
- The brain is the most fragile organ in the whole human organism.
- Although the adult brain only weighs about 3 pounds, it uses 25% of the body's oxygen and 70% of all glucose.
Basics for Optimal Brain Health
SLEEP! Most of us, with our busy busy lives do not get enough sleep. One cannot expect to be alert, focused, and clear-headed without it. For those who have difficulty sleeping there are a number of supplements that can help! Try melatonin, 5-HTP, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), valerian root, or skullcap (herb). Our staff picks for aiding sleep troubles are Herb's Etc.'s Deep Sleep -- an herbal blend --, and Source Naturals NightRest -- a blend of GABA, taurine, melatonin, and other herbs.
Get enough Essential Fatty Acids. EFA's are fatty acids that cannot be made by the body but are crucial for health. EFA's -- particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) -- ad in the transmission of nerve impulses and are needed for normal development and functioning of neurological processes. Deficiencies of EFA's can lead to an impaired ability to learn and recall information. Deficiencies of Omega-3 EFA's have also been linked to ADD, ADHD, depression, and dementia as well as a variety of health issues including cardiovascular disease and cancers. For vegetarians and vegans, getting DHA and enough EPA is challenging -- the main source for these EFA's is fish. However, there are ample amounts in algal oil extractives. Our staff pick for vegetarian DHA & EPA is Amerifit's Ovega-3.
Mineral Magic: get enough high quality magnesium. Magnesium improves memory formation, aids normal though processes, improves synaptic plasticity, helps prevent depression, increases cognition, helps reduce anxiety, and is helpful with relieving stubborn sleeplessness and insomnia. The better forms for brain health are magnesium glycinate and magnesium malate. Our staff pick is Kal's Magnesium Glycinate.
Supplements for Attention & Focus
Gotu Kola -- probably one of the best known herbs for brain health, it is frequently used to revitalize the brain and nervous system, as well as increase the attention span and ability to concentrate.
Vinpocetine -- an extract from the periwinkle plant. A vasodilator, it increases oxygen flow to the outer cortex of the brain and improves cerebral metabolism. As such, it improves mental acuity, awareness, cognitive function, and memory retention.
PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinine) -- not so well known, it activates cell signaling pathways involved in cellular metabolism, development, functioning. It protects mitochondria from oxidative stress and promotes mitochondrial biogenesis in aging cells. It protects memory and cognition and decrease excitotoxicity.
Supplements for Memory Retention & Recall
Ashwagandha -- a traditional Ayurvedic herb, it has rejuvinating properties. Ashwagandha improves learning, memory, and reaction time. It also combats the effects of stress, reduces anxiety and depression, as well as reduces brain cell degeneration.
Bacopa -- improves memory retention and recall, reduces anxiety and helps with faster information processing.
DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol) -- improves alterness and focus. DMAE is beneficial for memory and mental acuity. May also enhance mood and vision.
Gingko -- another really well known herb for the brain; it improves circulation to the brain, increases N-Acetyl Choline, is a cerebral antioxidant, and helps build energy. It enhances cognitive functions, concentration, and memory. Gingko also has some efficacy in treating dementia. Our staff pick is Planetary Herbals Bacopa-Gingko.
Huperzine A -- derived from Chinese club moss, it improves cognitive function, improves memory, and enhances learning. It has some efficacy in treating dementia and age-related memory impairment.
Phosphatidyl Serine -- a phospholipid, it improves memory and recall. It aids in learning, information retention, and enhances cognitive function. Deficiencies are linked to depression, dementia, and ADD.
Supplements for Stress Management
Work, relationships, school; Burning the candle at both ends and then some; Keeping up with all of the demands we put upon ourselves: Life can be taxing and take its toll on our bodies and minds.
Stress is a major factor not only when it comes to our ability to learn and process information, but also with regards to our perceptions of our selves and our overall health. As such, it's important to nourish and protect ourselves from its ravages.
Milky Oat Seed -- restorative nervous system tonic for all types of nervous debility; great for nervous exhaustion, irritability, and combating the effects of stress.
Eleuthrococcus (aka Siberian Ginseng) -- adaptogen that enhances one's ability to cope with increases levels of stress and strain. Increases vitality particularly in cases where adrenal or thyroid glad function is being compromised by overactivity and lack of opportunity to rest and relax. Staff pick for support is MegaFood's Un-Stress.
Rhodiola -- combats the effects of stress and oxygen deprivation such as brain fog and fatigue. Enhances capacity for mental work, improves thyroid function, expands endurance, and helps with poor memory and lack of concentration. Staff picks are New Chapter's Stress Take Care and Planetary Herbals Rhodiola.
Supplements for Anxiety
Taking on new responsibilities, new topics of learning, new people and situations and of course TESTS can all cause some anxiety. Fortunately, there's supplemental support available.
The power of scent can have a profound effect on one's mental state The concentrated potency of essential oils are especially useful not only for their individual properties but also to help one slow down and breathe deep. Mix into a temple rub, body spritz, or smelling salt blend (essential oils should be used topically only; some should be diluted).
Essential Oils for Anxiety: clary sage, yang ylang, lavender.
Essential Oils for Stress Relief: black spruce, bergamot, geranium.
Essential Oils for Concentration: basil, rosemary, peppermint, cedar.
California Poppy -- used for aromatherapy -- is a cheery, bright, sunny herb, efficacious for relieving anxiety, irritability, mental over-activity, and restlessness. It also helps relieve insomnia.
Flower essences are vibrational imprints of flowers that have been stabilized in water. They are thought to work on an energetic level and take effect through treating subtle emotional and spiritual conditions specific to each individual. As such there are many different essences for the same condition, but they will work differently for different situations and persons. The following are generally recommendations, but it is highly recommended that you consult a flower essences guide to find the one that's right for you. For anxiety: cerato, golden yarrow, trumpet vine. For concentration + focus: clematis, indian pink, cosmos.
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) helps transmit nerve sinals. It helps make inhibitory neruotransmitters and as such relieves anxiety. It has some efficacy in treating ADHD. Our staff pick is Source Naturals GABA Calm sub-lingual.
Passionflower Herb -- soothes and relaxes the nervous system; useful for agitation, unrest, nervous exhaustion, and anxiety. Taken sublingually, it can help with anxiety attacks. It's is also helpful with sleeplessness.
Rescue Remedy by Bach -- perhaps the most widely know of flower essence remedies, it is a blend of five Bach flower remedies especially beneficial for emotional emergencies and traumas. It comes in a number of variety to suit just about everyone. Efficacious in easing test anxiety.
- Take a little "me" time every week -- even if it's just for a few hours. Simply put work aside, or go all out and pamper yourself. Just make sure this time is truly all about you. Be unavailable for anything or anyone so that you can really check in with yourself.
- Meditation, deep breathing, and relaxed visualization are all great tools to help your mind unwind. Relax and separate yourself from your daily stresses before you lie down to sleep.
- Stretching and yoga -- especially sun salutations -- are great ways to fully wake up and be present in one's own skin.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants when under a lot of strain, particularly in the afternoon and evening. Such substances can tweak one's perspective and adversely effect one's mood and ability to sleep.
We here at Integral Yoga Natural Foods wish you the best of health and hope that you have found this article helpful!
Xena White, Certified Herbalist
Just a short feature today. These are some of our new items, and we're loving them for back to school! You can often see us with these items in hand, ourselves.
All of these products are highly nutritious, tasty, and perfect for packing into a backpack, purse, or lunchbox. I foresee some tug-of-wars over those chocolate puddings!
Clockwise from Top Left: Wallaby's Organic Greek Non-Fat Yogurt with Raspberries // Green Valley Organics Lactose Free Peach Yogurt Cup, Zen Soy Almond Milk Chocolate Pudding, Barbara's Snackimals 100% Natural Chocolate Chip Animal Cookies, MTO Kombucha (Charlottesville Local!), Coco Libre Protein Coconut Water + Coffee, Coco Libre Vanilla Protein Coconut Water, Coco Libre Chocolate Protein Coconut Water, Barbara's Snackimals 100% Natural Oatmeal Animal Cookies (Wheat Free!), Barbara's Organic Snackimals Peanut Butter Animal Cookies.
Happy Back to School everyone!
I get a lot of questions about tempeh: What is it? How does it taste? Why do people eat it? How do you cook it? So, in response, here's my little tempeh guide!
What is it? Tempeh is a fermented cake of soy and mycellium. I know. It sounds weird. Well, it IS weird by traditional American diet standards -- but it tastes pretty good and, heck, it's a nutritional powerhouse to boot. Cooked soy beans are doused in acid -- usually vinegar -- and spored with Rhizopus oligosporous. The soy is kept at a warm temperature, and the Rhizopus fungus grows around the soy, knitting the beans together into a cake. STOP BEING GROSSED OUT. It's basically a soy mushroom patty. It's used as a meat-alternative, and it has a texture similar to your standard veggie-burger.
How does it taste? Good tempeh smells like a combination of mushrooms and fresh bread, with a mild flavor similar to plain bread. Bad tempeh smells like ammonia.
Why do people eat it? Tempeh is high in protein, Vitamin B12, and fiber. The Rhizopus culture makes the soy more easily digested and reduces phytic acid content, making soy's mineral content available to the body. Soy in general is well known for its cholesterol-reducing powers, and has been linked to lowering the risk of osteoporosis and hormone-induced cancers.
How do you cook it? From much personal experience with tempeh, I have found tempeh is best when cooked in two ways. 1. Cube or crumble tempeh into a pan. Cover with water. Boil off all of the water (20 min). Add oil, spices, salt, and 1/4 cup cooking wine or vinegar. Cook liquid off, until tempeh is slightly crisp. 2. Marinate tempeh in sauce of your choosing for up to 24 hours, minimum 8 hours. Place in baking dish, and bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Tempeh is one of those intimidating products that a lot of people brush off as "hippie-food," despite its traditional origins in Indonesia. But, truthfully? Tempeh is a hippie-food. Let me explain.
HISTORY LESSON, YA'LL
Tempeh was developed in Indonesia in the early 1800's (or possibly even earlier). Indonesia was a Dutch colony. The Dutch were introduced to tempeh, and became the first to study it scientifically. Native Indonesians and Dutch-Indonesians living in the Netherlands become the first to make tempeh in Europe. Shortly thereafter, a number of "New Age" Dutch couples in the Netherlands begin making tempeh as part of macrobiotic diet regimens. London sees the first European-run tempeh production company (Paul's Tofu & Tempeh) in 1981. "New Age" Australians, inspired by new literature on tempeh, begin a number of tempeh production companies around 1980. In the 1960's, tempeh enters the American scene via Indonesian-American run companies: Joy of Java, Runnel's Foods, Toku Baru, & Bali Foods. The natural foods, vegetarian, and alternative lifestyle movements of the late '60's and 70's catalyzed tempeh's popularity among Americans. In fact, folks from The Farm -- an intentional farming commune based out of Nashville, TN -- were the first to develop commonly accessible literature on tempeh; they also developed the first tempeh culture for mass distribution; and the majority of early American tempeh shops were owned by people trained at The Farm.
So, you see, tempeh came from Indonesia straight into the hands of hippie farmers. But tempeh has come a long was since the 70's. Tempeh is widely eaten by omnivores and vegetarians alike. And it has become a staple in modern vegan diets. You can even find it in fine-dining restaurants now. There are a number of value-added tempeh products on the shelves now, like -- PERSONAL FAV -- tempeh bacon. Tempeh bacon can actually be addictive. You have been warned.
Below is a picture of Twin Oaks tempeh boiled and sautéed as in Method 1 (explained earlier). I cooked it with white wine, coconut oil, smoked paprika, sea salt, coriander, and brown sugar. I ate it with a side of fried local okra and some local peach chutney. It was DEEEEEELISHOUS.
If you love avocados (seriously, who doesn't?) it can be such a bummer to slice one open only to find brown and black inside. I've bought hundreds of them over the years, and I must confess, every once in a while I used to get a spotty one. I tend to eat between one and two a day (ok... I like them a lot...) so having to throw away my avocado feels like throwing away an entire meal.
The Hass avocados you'll see in groceries usually range in color, from bright green to dark black depending on ripeness. Most people choose their avocados based on their color -- bright green being unripe, black with a green sheen being ripe, and dark black being overripe. However, this method is pretty unreliable. For the past couple of years I've tested the ripeness of Hass avocados by gently squeezing them: very firm is under ripe, gently firm is almost ripe, slightly soft is ripe, and very soft is overripe. Again, this method works for me most of the time, but I still sometimes pick bad avocados based on touch alone.
Based on the suggestion of a friend, I started choosing my avocados based on one particular method, and I have yet to choose an overripe or under ripe one so far.
Essentially, you pull out the knob of your avocado and check the color of the avocado's fruit. Using that method in combination with checking the firmness gets you a ripe avocado 100% of the time.
An unripe avocado is usually bright green. The texture will be very firm, with no give at all when pressed. But more important to check is the knob. Unripe avocados will have a knob that's difficult to pull out. If you do manage to pull it out -- though you should generally just move on to a different avocado -- the flesh will be bright green.
A ripe avocado is dark black. Some ripe avocados will still have a bit of green on them, where others will be totally black. A ripe avocado has a bit of give. Most importantly, the knob comes out easily and the color of the avocado flesh is solid green.
Overripe avocados are completely black. They are often very soft and squish to the touch, but sometimes seem to have a nice give: they can be hard to differentiate from avocados that are actually ripe based on touch alone. An overripe avocado knob comes out easily, but the internal flesh will be mottled gray-green, brown, or black.
Use this tip to find perfect, ready-to-eat avocados every time!
Avocados, which are arguably one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, have become essential to a healthy diet rich in plants. High in mono and polyunsaturated fats (those are the good-for-you fats), avocados are mild in taste but hard-hitters when it comes to meal satisfaction. Fats coat the tongue and help us to experience more flavor, while signaling to the brain that we are getting sufficient nutrition. Fats burn in our bodies over a long period, giving us sustainable energy.
Avocados are high in vitamin K, folate, potassium, vitamin E, lutein, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.
Vitamin K helps the blood to clot properly. Folate helps our bodies to develop healthy cells and tissues. Potassium, an essential mineral, helps our bodies to: regulate acid-alkaline levels, synthesize proteins, metabolize carbs, build muscle, and grow big and strong. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and helps process vitamin K. Lutein supports helathy functioning of the eyes. Vitamin C, an antioxidant, helps our bodies to repair all sorts of tissues and helps us to develop collagen. Vitamin B6 helps us to produce anti-bodies, develop red blood cells, and maintain a healthy nervous system; B6 also helps us to break down proteins.