Blame it on the Alcohol?

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Image source: pixabay.com

Jamie Foxx’s song “Blame it” encourages blaming alcohol for all ruined relationships, unsafe situations, and perceived enhancement of other’s attractiveness. Outside of the many issues and poor decisions can that can result from a night of boozing, including a high credit card bill, higher risk for accidents, and even a 2am Taco Bell run…there are more. During Covid-19, some are hitting the wine and beer harder.

Let’s review the basics: alcohol interferes with communication between nerve cells and all other cells in the body. Moderation (the amount considered to not contribute to any major health concerns) for the average woman is defined by the CDC as not more than one drink per day and for the average man as not having more than two.

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics asserts, “there has been an increase in the proportion of US adults who drink on any given day and an increase in calories consumed from alcoholic beverages when drinking occurs.”

What effect is this having on us from a weight loss perspective? Or a liver-health one?

Now we appreciate the humor some of you bring to our appointments:

“I think I’m drinking enough water. There’s water in beer, right?”

“I’m not too concerned. It’s called a liver, not a die-er”

“Wine-o? Maybe; I prefer ‘wine-yes'”

With alcoholic beverages being among the top five contributors to total caloric intake among US adults, this is something we need to talk about. But beyond calories, here are more reasons to explore your relationship with alcohol:

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Red, White, and Blueberry Tart

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You may remember this beauty being featured on WBNS 10TV in honor of National Pecan Month. This healthy dessert is easy to make and fun to decorate. Made from fruit and nuts, the tart is raw, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Did we mention delicious? Because it’s definitely that too! Enjoy it this holiday weekend.

Ingredients

Crust

1 cup chopped nut blend (we used 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/2 cup pecans)
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup flaked or shredded coconut
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of nutmeg, optional

Toppings

1-2 mashed bananas
Blueberries, strawberries, and kiwis to decorate (about 1 cup of each)

Instructions

Soak dates in warm water for about 10 minutes to soften them. Chop nuts with a knife or use a food processor. Drain dates and mix with nut blend, coconut, cinnamon, and vanilla extract in a bowl. Once well mixed, roll into balls and press into pie plate. Mash bananas and add a layer or ‘frosting’ to the crust. Top with berries and kiwi or your desired fruits. For extra pizazz, drizzle honey or melted chocolate over the tart.

Recipe: Savory Tahini Sauce

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Savory Tahini Sauce

Tahini, made from sesame seed paste, is a surprisingly versatile condiment to have in the kitchen. You can often eat and use it the way you would peanut butter – right out of the jar or with celery sticks. This five-ingredient savory sauce an be drizzled on top of salad, falafel, soup, roasted veggies or any number or dishes.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Yield: ~1 cup

Ingredients

1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt

Instructions

Combine tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic and salt in blender or food processor. Pulse or blend until smooth. Enjoy it fresh though it does keep for about a week in the refrigerator.

Reward ≠ Food

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Patient and client conversations can be a rich source of writing inspiration to address common concerns. As we discuss new changes, cravings, accomplishments and challenges, ideas start to percolate as we work together to find the best solution for the individual. If the same issue is mentioned by different individuals more than three times in relatively short succession, we can almost *feel* the universe tapping on our shoulder.

The latest recurrent theme among us all seems to be regarding emotional eating, over-eating, and reward-eating.

Let’s break this last one down. Why would we associate certain foods with a reward?

    • With thousands of years of evolution working for (or against) us, humans naturally crave sweet flavor. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors would get a little *ping* of dopamine by eating berries and other naturally sweet substances. The brain would reward eating this food, which some argue helped our ancestors survive by promoting fat storage to see them through the leaner times. This survival mechanism is all but unnecessary during the times in which we live, with plentiful food stores and sedentary lifestyles (when was the last time we burnt 2000+ calories a day hunting down buffalo?).
    • An ostensible lack of other options or ideas for rewarding ourselves. We’ve leaned on food to give ourselves a pat on the back after a hard day in the office, for finishing a big project, or to relax after a full day with the kids finally in bed. After many years of this, we may have forgotten how to celebrate our accomplishments without cake, doughnuts, french fries, or chips.

After the sleeve of cookies is finished, there can be a poignant anxiety that settles in. Guilt and shame follow soon after and we feel terrible about ourselves. Then we say “what the Hades, I’m probably never going to lose the weight anyway” and keep going or we decide with firmness and determination, “starting tomorrow, no cookies ever again!” However, we all know how this plays out; the deprivation leads to cravings and the whole cycle begins anew.

When you eat, try eating to nourish your body and experience pleasure. Tying food to your reward-system will unravel advances in your health goals and, here’s the kicker, it doesn’t even work. By the time we are done with the chocolate chip cookie party, we only temporarily feel sated before we either look for more sugar (during the ‘down’ of our blood sugar rollercoaster) or we feel guilty…..which drowns out what ephemeral feeling of pleasure we got from the food in the first place.

By having some non-food rewards instead, or at least sprinkling them into your current routine, you can start to challenge the ‘need’ for something sweet and, instead, ‘treat’ yourself ‘sweetly’ (double puns, couldn’t resist :D). Here are a few ideas to get your started on non-food rewards:

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“One Bite Wellness to WOW” – In the Client Spotlight

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“One Bite Wellness to WOW!”

“In the past, on many occasions, I would start/sign-up for a program or class, quickly start procrastinating on beginning/keeping up with and/or finishing assignments, therefore I did wonder if working with you would be different? So, I was hesitant to invest the time/money for this reason. Would this be yet another “good intention” gone awry?…

The results I have achieved have been PHENOMENAL! I called you because my cholesterol was too high and my dr asked me about going on statin meds. In addition, I have been on a diuretic to “control” my blood pressure for about 25 yrs. I felt I could normalize my biometrics without meds, however knew that I needed Accountability and Support to do so.

Never in my WILDEST Dreams, did I Expect to find : A New Calling: Wellness Advocate/Coach: A New Passion: Cooking ( from scratch) I had never learned to cook. A New Dream: Be a Senior Olympian. These are a by-product of working with you, and Following-Through.
One has to make the changes, a little at a time ie….one bite…
I am living the whole-food plant-based lifestyle.
I am 15 lbs lighter, and my cholesterol has normalized.
My bp was getting too low and I was tired…..
Last week, my dr said: “I think your lifestyle has kicked in” you DON’T need this medicine anymore……You are really doing the work! Congrats….keep going. I just hugged her……and grinned for 2 whole days.
25 YEARS…..ON SOME DOSAGE OF THIS MEDICINE!
Long enough to raise a child!!!! I am Thrilled…..NO MEDS!
I will need to update my wardrobe…..all my clothes are Too Big!

I love your “presence”, listening, reflecting back and your unequivocal SUPPORT! I Know that you live a healthy lifestyle, and that you care that I too live a healthy lifestyle. You’re in my corner!

I loved that we chatted about career….did not expect that, nor did I expect to Want to pursue another career, at this point (semi-retired). I feel compelled to pursue wellness advocacy for the benefit of  us “baby boomers”

My whole mentality has changed. I am becoming More of who I came to Earth, to Be.

As I’ve released weight, I have stopped “hiding” from myself and others.
I am healing emotionally from earlier hurts, because I am taking better care of myself, eating good food, exercising, relaxing, and resting, when tired.
I rarely eat out anymore, and I used to go to a fast food place every other day
I was happy with our sessions and your prompt follow-up. Loved being able to connect in person, and/or by phone. I’m just Thrilled with my results.

As I said earlier, You are Your Clients’ “Champion”
You are Supportive, and of course, as a great coach, you guide a person to find their own Truth. You recognize that great potential within each person.
You are Authentic, Prompt, and Keep your Word!

I Totally Now Realize the VALUE of Having a Great Team and How Important it is to Invest in One’s Health. Without good health, the Rest doesn’t seem that important. Also, if you had not shared the recipes and encouraged me, I might never have tried to cook……..what a loss that would have been…..It is my New Spiritual Practice! I get great ideas while cooking…..in the silence and joy of seeing a new creation….from a few or many different ingredients.”

Blessings of Abounding Health
Jasianna
Client, Foundations of Health Graduate

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In just a few short months, Jasianna has changed her whole life. She decluttered her home and her old habits of candy, fast food, and junk food as she added in more cooking, physical activity, and a new career. We are certain that, with her determination and follow-through, she will qualify for the senior Olympics and look forward to watching her shine!

Our mission on earth is to help guide others on their life paths. Every time we see a client after they’ve tweaked a couple of recommended changes such as drinking less juice/soda/alcohol, getting better sleep, adding in (fun!) physical fitness…we see the changes in their eyes, face shape, energized speaking and livelier movements…and then we hear about how their clothes are fitting better, they enjoy cooking, their friends and family telling them how fantastic they look, and we share in your happiness.

Also, during one of our sessions, Jasianna mentioned how her doctor, the nurse, and friends were exclaiming how fabulous she looks…and how she appreciates herself. “Everyday after my shower, I look at myself in the mirror…I see my arms…waist and I can see the difference. I look fabulous and I’m really proud of that.” If only everyone could experience that same sentiment upon seeing themselves naked, especially those 60+ years old!!

To our clients:
Honestly, we just love you guys. We brag about your successes as if we were your parents :D. Thank you for trusting us to guide you on your journey and letting us celebrate with you; it is pure joy.

Homebound Banana Nut Bread

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We’ve been in a cooking and baking mode the past few weeks – from cherry almond pancakes and black bean brownies to a recent favorite, comforting banana bread.

How is it comforting? For those with gluten-sensitivity, this gluten-free version is gentle on our digestive system, the cinnamon brings back happy memories from childhood, and warm bread as a snack just has a way of making you feel cozy and safe (even if all the news points you in the opposite direction). Plus, we like making things and baking is an easy at-home activity along with knitting, organizing, creating new programs, reading and puzzles.

This bread is gluten-free and dairy-free; it can be made vegan as well. We find that two loaves is the best amount for us, given how much we love it…and one can go in the freezer, if it makes if that far.

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
5-6 medium bananas (if you wait until they have brown spots on them, they are even sweeter)
2/3 cup melted coconut or avocado oil
3/4 cup maple syrup
4 eggs or the equivalent in chia/flax vegan ‘eggs’
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg (optional)
3/4 tsp salt

Instructions

Grease two 9×5″ loaf pans with oil (see above ingredients list) and preheat oven to 325° F. If using coconut oil, get it to melt if not liquid already. For this next part, we used a blender but you could also just use a bowl: beat/blend oil, maple syrup, eggs along with mashed banana and water. If you used a blender, pour mixture into a bowl; whisk together added gluten-free flour, baking soda, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt. Then add walnuts and pecan pieces.

Transfer batter into loaf pans and bake for about 65 minutes or until knife inserted into center of bread comes out clean. Allow bread to cool for about 20 minutes before slicing and enjoying.

Lasts for about 3-5 days in the refrigerator; freeze bread for up to 3 months, if desired.

5 Immunity Boosters: Foods & Herbs

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Herbs and spices have been used since antiquity and are time-tested natural remedies for a variety of illnesses and diseases, including viral infections. There are therapeutically active constituents of these plants which exhibit anti-viral action and protection.

Sometimes science takes awhile to catch up with proving the healing benefits of plants. A simple example here is that cranberry juice helping urinary tract infections was considered an “old wives tale” until scientific research a couple decades ago found it to be true – cranberries have a property that prevents the adhesion of pathogens (e.g. E. coli) to the bladder wall.

Because of lack of interest in funding research on non-patentable compounds, be aware that the research on benefits of some herbs may be scant and have limited human research.  On the other side, many of these herbs and spices have been studied for a few millenia (far longer that most pharmaceuticals) so…

Do your due diligence. Research and consult with your healthcare provider as certain health conditions and potential drug-interactions need to be evaluated. And now, without further ado…

Garlic

Garlic has a special place in our hearts. Ever since we were broke college students, we have relished the power, ubiquity and inexpensive nature of this plant. It has antibacterial, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic properties (to say nothing of its ability to ward off vampires). It also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Garlic a common ingredient and easy addition to a variety of dishes. For about a cost of only fifty cents per bulb, it’s a worthy purchase.

Elderberries

The plant family ‘elder’ is also known as sambucus. Native American tribes and even ancient Egyptians used this plant to treat infections and heal the skin. Today these elderberries are most often found available in the form of syrups and lozenges and are used to ameliorate cold and flu symptoms. A mouse study published on PubMed found that concentrated elderberry juice exhibited a “beneficial effect by the stimulating immune response and preventing viral infection” while in a review of human studies, “supplementation with elderberry was found to substantially reduce upper respiratory symptoms [emphasis added].” Is anyone else Team Elderberry right now?

Ginger

Zingiber officinale, also known as ginger, is found in its whole form and in products such as teas, lozenges, and tinctures. Being helpful to pregnant women experiencing nausea is just one of ginger’s impressive resume qualifications. Its potent plant compounds, including gingerols and zingerone, contribute to ginger’s impressive antiviral activity. If ginger were a person, we wouldn’t let this coronavirus-related recession stop us from hiring him/her as an essential employee of our anti-viral unit.

Licorice

Whether you love or hate the taste, licorice has some tools to help keep you safe from viral infection. Used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and elsewhere for hundreds of years, licorice root contains active antiviral compounds called glycyrrhizin, liquiritigenin, and glabridin (say those three times fast, geez). In vitro (test-tube) studies show licorice root’s effectiveness against herpes virus, HIV, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and, wait for it……..SARS-associated coronavirus infection.

Echinacea

Very popular in herbal medicine, Echinacea is one of the best all-around plants because of its extensive healing properties. The entirety of the plant is used – roots, leaves, flowers- in a variety of natural remedy preparations. It’s also a beautiful, purple plant that you may see roadside or in a metro park. Another trusted and time-tested plant used by Native Americans, it has been used to allay a number of conditions, including viral infections, and is immune-modulating. Several in-vitro studies found that a variety of types of echinacea plants (including E. pallida, E. angustifolia, and E. purpurea) effectively knock-out herpes and influenza viral infections.

Remember, these foods and herbs can only really work their ‘magic’ within the context of a body otherwise supported by good nutrition. A diet high in added sugars, mucous-producing foods, and low in vitamins and minerals won’t help your immune system power-up and effectively take on coronavirus or any other infections.

Ready to talk more to a nutrition expert and lay firm foundations for your health for the short- and long-term? Schedule for your complimentary 20-minute Discovery Call and take control of your health and wellness.

Butterflies & Zombies: Story of Coronavirus

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A lot can change in a little over a week. For us, we marveled at how quickly news about the coronavirus shrouds and alters both excitement over buying a house and planning a fall wedding. Such is life, and we all must adapt….and even metamorphose a bit. Speaking of which, let’s review the butterfly lifecycle and see how it relates to us with this current public health crisis. As you may remember from second grade, the egg becomes larva (a caterpillar) and then its pupa stage operating in a cocoon. Finally the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis state, dries its wings and flies.

Sometimes things need to get worse before they get better. Like a scab or a detox-reaction, things can appear ugly and hopeless during transition but then metamorphize into something more vibrant and beautiful. The scab of society is such that, despite Eleanor Roosevelt reminding us that, “with freedom comes responsibility,” we haven’t been responsible to or for each other in awhile. It has been within the past couple of years that the only ‘epidemic’ the government seemed to be reporting on was the ‘loneliness epidemic’ (1), and it’s not just been a problem for the elderly; an article on Forbes.com last year mentioned how lonely millennials have been (2). We can change this now, despite ‘social distancing’ and re-connect with our loved ones and our communities.

For those of you who’ve seen zombie movies, you know that there are two threats – not just one – to overcome. The first and immediate threat is the virus or catastrophic event that turns the people into zombies. The second and possibly bigger threat is the zombies themselves, the people who inspire and perpetuate fear and distrust through their selfish actions.

We will see the best and worst parts of our communities; the best thing we can do is look out for ourselves and other people. Some people are hoarding and taking advantage. This is part of the reason why there were rations for sugar, bread, meat, milk, and flour during the World Wars, to help people share food fairly. When human ‘zombies’ fail to regulate themselves and their fears, sometimes outside regulations help.

This is the best time to slow down, self-regulate, and prevent harm from spreading throughout the community.  One thing we can do during social distancing is to love people from afar – calls, texts, sending groceries, and supporting our local businesses by buying gift cards or ordering carry-out.

Remember the butterfly stages? What we didn’t mention before is that things get really gross and discombobulated during the pupa phase. The chrysalis acts as a container and protects the butterfly-to-be as the body digests itself from the inside out and becomes a soupy substance. From these parts, new cells for the butterfly’s wings, organs, and antennae form. How creepy and yet marvelous a process this is!

How can we turn this challenging time to our advantage? By thinking of this as our ‘chrysalis’ time – a period where things are creepy, gross, and scary – but also full of exactly what we need to transform ourselves and our lives. This is an excellent time for:

  • Reflection – unplugging from ‘group-think’ and the typical consumerist tendencies to over-buy and play into the hands of fear. Self-reflection during this time can help you listen to that which is habitually drowned-out: your inner guidance. Just because others are buying tons of stuff, like Black Friday, you can opt-out. Be conscious and live mindfully.
  • Minimalism and decluttering. Minimalism helps self-regulation and temptation to follow the whims of others. If you haven’t learned some of the philosophies and principles, this may be worth looking into. Decluttering – if it’s been on your mind for awhile and you just haven’t had the time, now is a wonderful opportunity. For the hoarders out there, just remember that a lot what you’ve purchased may need to be discarded eventually through food expiration/waste, lack of space in the home, or sheer ability to individually utilize 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer. If you have extra toothpaste, canned or other goods, consider donating and helping others.
  • House cleaning and projects. The lightbulb that needs to be replaced. The wood that needs to be sealed. The niggling list of to-dos can be dealt with during this time of self-quarantine.
  • Checking in with family and friends more. Calling or video chatting with your parents and siblings, even if you can’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, or birthdays in-person together. Speaking of birthdays, if you have a friend who has a birthday during this time, offer to have food from a favorite restaurant delivered to them (you’d be helping a small business too!) and to yourself; then have lunch together, via video-conference.
  • Mental health. Keep your hands clean and your head clean. How many people say, “I need to meditate more” but never do? Lots. So start with 5 minutes or use an app (Headspace is quite popular). How else can we improve mental health during this time? We can still go outside and walk in nature. Listen to music, positive podcasts. Your mental diet matters just as much as your physical diet, though the food you eat will also impact your mood and cognition. If you have fur babies, give them extra cuddles and both of you will feel better. Consider a ratio of 1:2 for your mental ‘food’ intake. For every 10 minutes of reading terrible news stories, meditate for 20. Read an inspiring novel; watch baby bunny or funny animal video compilations.
  • Sleep. All of the sleep-deprived ‘zombies’ out there, this is for you. If you are working from home, that’s an automatic 1-2 hour time savings from driving in traffic five times per week. You’ve just gained 5-10 hours a week that you can put towards sleeping more. Score!  If you’re still going to the office or aren’t currently able to work, routine is still important to keep up and sleep is foundational to good health. Prioritize this as much as possible.
  • Netflix or new hobby? There is room for both. Have a Pinterest board of recipes to explore? Pick one or two and have an adventure. As a friend pointed out, a lot of the Standard American Diet (read: S.A.D.) is what is missing from the shelves but the ethnic foods were still amply stocked. Experiment with some miso, mirin, nori in a Japanese stirfry or asafoetida in your Indian or Mexican cuisine. Have a shelf full of books? Pull one out and read for an evening. Want to make your own lip balm and bodycare? Learn about herbs, personal finance, computer programming?  Thank the internet gods for still working and get going on your chosen syllabus. Netflix has its place – it can be great to get swept into a silly, romantic comedy series where all the conflicts are neatly tied up at the end. Or you could watching documentaries about tragic events in the past (e.g. the Holocaust, Titanic, etc) and thank your lucky stars that you never had to endure those events; it can put help put things into perspective.
  • Skill-building. Always wanted to learn to cook or can? There’s a cookbook, Pinterest Pin or app for it. If you’ve been laid off, there are things you can do to bolster your resume. Learn graphic design, take an online course, practice time management as you look for jobs (and for those of you working from home). Learn another language. One of our medical patient’s goals is to be able to converse in French by the time this coronavirus has started to fade into public memory – it’s a positive goal she has to better herself and use this time well.
  • Take care of your health now. There’s something you know you could be doing that you haven’t done yet. Whether that’s sleep, meditation, learning how to cook (or cook healthier), taking walks or working out at home, stopping smoking, or actually practicing managing your stress, choose one thing and work from there. Remember, though coronavirus is an acute disease which can kill, we still have the big three ‘killer’ chronic diseases to continue to contend with: heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. They may not seem as dramatic as Covid-19 right now, but we can take steps to address them, while improving our immune systems, during this time.

Remember, we will all be called to account for our behavior during this time. Would you like to be able to, truthfully, say you one of the zombie hoarders or one of the brave helpers

Actions speak louder than words so put into play one or more of these suggestions mentioned above and you will emerge from this cocoon-time having a clean, uncluttered, updated abode with routines in place for the future. You’ll open the front door and be ready to embrace opportunities in your business or obtain a new job with your impressive resume. Crawl out of your chryalis not as an unfit coach potato, but a creature who is stronger and fitter, competent and skilled, a confident, vibrantly healthy and attractive better-you butterfly. Now is the time. Choose wisely….

 

…..we so badly wanted to put a gif from the Indiana Jones’ movie Temple of Doom but resisted :D.

Works Cited

(1) Health Resources & Services Administration. The “Loneliness Epidemic.” https://www.hrsa.gov/enews/past-issues/2019/january-17/loneliness-epidemic

(2) Neil Howe. “Millennials and the Loneliness Epidemic.” 3 May 2019, https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilhowe/2019/05/03/millennials-and-the-loneliness-epidemic/#430350127676

Recipe: Rainbow Chili

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It’s the slow-cooker time of the year and we are using the Crockpot on the regular. It’s easy to make a basic chili or a fancier one with this beloved piece of kitchen equipment. We bought some rainbow carrots and decided to make our chili a bit fancy for a recent date night but it’s equally good to casually and lovingly feed yourself or a whole, hungry family.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Servings: about 8

Ingredients

3-4 rainbow heirloom carrots. sliced
2-3 ribs of celery, chopped
1 jar organic tomato sauce
5 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
1 can chickpeas
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 bay leaves
1 tbsp cumin (with all these beans, you’re gonna need it :D)
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp chopped parsley for topping

Omnivore option: add 1lb cooked ground turkey

Instructions

Chop all vegetable ingredients and add to slow cooker container, along with tomato sauce and rinsed cans of beans. Add bay leaves, cumin, and oregano. Optional: add 1 lb cooked ground turkey for omnivore option. Add water as needed so slow cooker is halfway to two-thirds full. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove bay leaves, scoop into bowls, top with fresh parsley and enjoy this colorful, plant-based meal!